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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Inside Apple Pie!

     So, fall has arrived. I repeat, FALL HAS ARRIVED. I don't know very many people that dislike this time of year. Right now, all you see on Facebook, Twitter, and even the news, is Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte and I'm seeing #PSL everywhere! While I've already begun creating dishes using pumpkin, I haven't started on the indulgent desserts and other comfort foods that everyone knows and loves that are so popular this time of year. This is a simple recipe that can easily stand in the place of apple pie. If you have any friends that are gluten-free, replace the flour with about 1 cup of crushed hazelnuts and this will add some extra crunch, too!
     Apples are plentiful right now and are oh so sweet. After visiting the apple festival this past weekend with Michael, we saw apple pies, apple fritters, apple EVERYTHING...but we didn't see an apple crisp. (To be fair, it isn't the most fair-friendly food...a tad messy) but it is delicious. This recipe is perfect for any apples they may be turning or have a few bruises. You don't really need perfect apples for this recipe. It's also the perfect mixture of tender sweet apples and crispy, crunchy cinnamon goodness. If you want to add even more texture to the apple crisp, use a variety of apples for one recipe and don't cut them as evenly. Try adding some larger chunks mixed with the thinner slices. 
 
Inside Apple Pie
Yields: 6 servings

4 medium apples, thinly sliced
¾ c. packed light brown sugar
½ c. flour (all-purpose or self-rising)
½ c. oats
1½ tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ c. butter, softened
 
Heat oven to 375 F. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the apples in the bottom of the prepared pan (no need to be neat)! In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, and pumpkin pie spice until thoroughly combined. Once combined, cut in the butter using either a fork or your fingers until the consistency is that of coarse corn meal.
 
 
Sprinkle evenly over the apples and bake for 30 minutes, or until apples are tender.
 
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 6
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 312.1 
  • Total Fat: 9.1 g    
  • Cholesterol: 20.7 mg
  • Sodium: 14.1 mg
  • Total Carbs: 67.9 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.2 g
  • Protein: 2.8 g
 
 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pork and Potato Stew

     I wanted to make some creamy and delicious potato soup. Michael asked me if I was going to put any meat in it or anything, but I didn't have any plans to. I decided to do so, that way he would enjoy it a bit more. I thought about putting some crispy bacon in it to add some savory salty goodness, but I didn't have any on hand. (I know, I know. I don't keep bacon on hand.) Anyways, I did have pork. Soooo, I just cut up a piece of pork into bite-size pieces and it worked just fine. This would definitely be delicious with bacon, what isn't!? This soup is definitely hearty for dinner, but isn't so heavy you can't enjoy it for lunch the next day (which would be fabulous!)
 
     I did end up adding a few tablespoons of cornstarch with water to make this a bit thicker, because I did want a stew, more than I did a soup. Either way, it is delicious.

Potato-Pork Stew
Yields: 4 servings

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
½ lb. pork, cubed
1-1½ lbs. potatoes, cubed
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
2 bouillon cubes (chicken, beef, vegetable)
3 cups water

 

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.
 
Add the garlic and stir continuously for 30 seconds, then add the pork and allow to brown a bit before stirring.

 
Allow the pork to brown on all sides before adding the potatoes and carrots. Once the potatoes and carrots have been added, allow them to cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 
 
Next, add the cumin, paprika, and bouillon.
 
Stir for 30 seconds and add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce to a low heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. If you like your soup a bit thicker, you may need to add a bit of cornstarch dissolved in water
 
 
 
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 4
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 375.9 
  • Total Fat: 12.1 g    
  • Cholesterol: 44.8 mg
  • Sodium: 668.6 mg
  • Total Carbs: 44.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 8.2 g
  • Protein: 22.0 g

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pumpkin Oat Cookies!

     Who else is ready for fall?! I KNOW I am. I've already got decorations going up, a fall-inspired candle (Sugared Pecan) flickering in the background and pumpkins GALORE! Okay, I haven't actually bought a pumpkin yet, but I DO have canned pumpkin ready and willing to go into anything! I know, I know, I seem a bit crazy over fall, but I wait an entire year for it! There's something about the fall and winter months that makes me so incredibly happy. I guess that's when all of the best memories are made. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, tons of time is spent with loved ones, not to mention decorations are flowing non-stop! Michael and I are already trying to determine what our Halloween costumes are going to be this year. We are thinking of doing a "couple" themed costume (Beauty & The Beast, Darth Vader and Queen Amidala, etc.); any suggestions?
 
     On to the recipe, these cookies are SO delicious! They do not contain any butter or oil, so you could almost make them a fat-free cookie, but then it isn't very decadent. Anyways, I used a mixture of white and semisweet chocolate chips and a mixture of dried cranberries and dried raisins for my cookies. They are absolutely delicious. The pumpkin keeps them moist and chewy, without making them too dense. The chocolate chips and dried fruit add a hint of sweetness in every bite. All in all, I'd say these cookies are a winner.

*You will definitely need to remember to flatten these cookies to a shape and size you prefer. Because there is no butter or oil in this recipe, the cookies will not spread when baking, so flattening is a must! Also, the leavening agents don't have anything to react to, so there won't be much rising. It does, however, make the cookies puff up ever so slightly and I'd miss it if it weren't there!
 
 
PUMPKIN OAT COOKIES
Yields: 13 cookies

1 egg
½ c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. chocolate chips
¼ c. dried fruit
¾ c. all-purpose flour
1 ¼ c. oats
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ c. dark brown sugar, packed
¼ c. granulated sugar
 
 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin until blended.
 
In a larger bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until mixed thoroughly.
 
Add the dry mixture all at once to the wet and fold to combine. Avoid over mixing by mixing only until all dry ingredients are moistened.
 
Using a spoon, place the cookie dough on the baking sheet.
 
You will need to flatten them or shape them how you want them and bake for 13 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet and transfer to an airtight container.
 
 
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 13
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 117.6 
  • Total Fat: 3.5 g    
  • Cholesterol: 14.2 mg
  • Sodium: 63.7 mg
  • Total Carbs: 21.3 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Protein: 1.7 g

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Flank Steak Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Bell Pepper


     This is a delicious dish that you can whip up in no time. It's fast, it's easy, it's STEAK! Those are three things that I think most Americans LOVE together. There's something about tender slices of beef flavored with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic that makes someone fall in love. Not really, but it's more sophisticated than your ordinary redneck BBQ found here in the south, sans beer. I'm sure you could add some alcohol in this dish to add even more depth of flavor, (red wine) but here, I kept it simple stupid. I loved it, Michael loved it, YOU will love it! Seriously, give it a try! What do you have to lose? (Maybe a few eyebrows if you throw in your alcohol without removing from heat first).
I'm done, enjoy your meal!

Flank Steak Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Bell Pepper
Yields: 4 servings


2 tbsp. vegetable oil

½ lb. asparagus, trimmed into ½” pieces, parboiled *SEE NOTES*

½ lb. flank steak, sliced thinly, into ¼” strips

½ bell pepper sliced ¼” strips

2 tsp. cornstarch, dissolved into 2 tbsp. water
 

All-Purpose Stir Fry Sauce

3 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. grated ginger

1 clove garlic, grated

½ tsp. chili oil (for those who like it spicy)
 

 

First, prepare the all-purpose stir fry sauce in a small container and set aside. This will allow the flavors to combine. Next, stir-fry the asparagus in 1 tbsp. oil over high heat for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned.
 Remove and set aside. Using the remaining oil (add more if necessary), stir fry the beef strips just until browned. (The strips should remain pink inside.)
 
Add the bell pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes, or until the strips begin to wilt. The bell pepper adds a great texture to the dish if kept tender-crisp.
 
 
Add the corn starch mixture and the stir fry sauce and stir quickly (liquids will thicken fast). Return the asparagus to the pan and toss to coat thoroughly with sauce. Serve over rice.
 
·         Since the only salt being added here is soy sauce, make sure you taste for seasoning before serving, as my final dish needed additional salt.
Asparagus is a great vegetable to add to dishes because it has a great flavor and keeps a bit of crunch after cooking (provided it’s cooked properly). To prepare the asparagus and to parboil it, you will first need to inspect your asparagus to get rid of any of the unwanted spears. Any spears that have “heads” which are not closely knit should be discarded. Next, you’ll want to remove the woody ends, as they are tough and fibrous—not pleasing to the palate. To do so, hold a spear between both hands and bend it, the spear will snap where it begins to be tender. Repeat this step for all the spears, or simply use the first spear as a guide and cut the same length off the rest of the asparagus. Next, cut the spears on the diagonal about ¼” pieces.
To parboil the asparagus, bring a pot of water to a boil, add the asparagus, and cook for 1 minute, or until the asparagus is a bright green color. If it cooks until it is an olive green color, the asparagus will be mushy and the color isn’t very pretty. Next, drain the asparagus and “shock” it with ice water—this will stop the cooking process, keeping the asparagus tender-crisp and beautiful.
Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 4
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 138.3 
  • Total Fat: 7.8 g    
  • Cholesterol: 28.4 mg
  • Sodium: 493.2 mg
  • Total Carbs: 4.5 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Protein: 13.1 g
 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Potato Pancakes!

     While school was keeping me busy, I was trying to think of things to prepare that were quick, simple, and easy. There are a TON of ideas that came rushing to my head, this is one of them, because it uses leftovers – something that is already prepared! My mom had specially requested these, so I finally decided to make them for the website (these are yours, Mom.) They are simple, require little effort, and just need a little love!

     This uses leftover mashed potatoes; it is important to note that the potatoes MUST be chilled. Warm or room temperature potatoes seem to fall apart much easier than if they have been chilled overnight. If you plan to make mashed potatoes specifically for this recipe, keep in mind they need to chill at least 5 hours or overnight.

Potato Pancakes
Yields: 24 ½” pancakes

¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 egg
½ c. onion, minced
4 c. mashed potatoes, chilled
Vegetable oil
 

     In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients well.
 
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat some oil. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, add the potato mixture to the pan, flattening as best as possible.
 Cook until brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the potato pancake over and then flatten with the back of a spatula. Cook an additional 3 minutes, or until browned to your liking.
 
 
It's that easy! Enjoy these with eggs and bacon for breakfast or in place of mashed potatoes with
dinner! SO simple and delicious!
 
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving    
  • Calories: 132.2
  • Total Fat: 4.3 g    
  • Cholesterol: 33.0 mg
  • Sodium: 11.3 mg
  • Total Carbs: 21.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.2 g
  • Protein: 3.4 g

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Chicken Alfredo Fakeout!

I remember one time when I went to Olive Garden one time and ordered the Fettuccine Alfredo. I probably won't EVER do that again. Come to think of it, I don't know if I really enjoyed the flavor of it all that much. It was very heavy, but the flavors didn't linger on my tongue like most rich and creamy sauces would. This creamy sauce coats the pasta so well, I'd say it may be better than Olive Garden's! (; This is my version of a light Chicken Alfredo that tastes, in my opinion, better than Olive Garden's!

Chicken Alfredo Fakeout!
Yields: 3 servings


1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
12 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
2 c. chicken stock, sodium-free
1½ tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ c. all- purpose flour
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp ground thyme

Between two pieces of plastic wrap, pound the chicken breast to approximately ½" thick. (I cut mine in half) In a shallow dish, combine the flour, pepper, salt, and thyme until blended. Coat the chicken thoroughly in the flour. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook on each side approximately 4 minutes, or until cooked through. Once fully cooked, remove from skillet and set aside. 
Add the butter, and using a wooden spoon, begin deglazing the pan with the melted butter. At this point, the butter should be brown and have a nutty fragrance. Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes, or until softened. 
Add the garlic and stir while cooking for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Next, add the flour to make the roux. Stir the flour and butter continuously until a golden brown color occurs.
 Add the milk and stir continuously. The mixture will begin to create lumps, this is normal.
 Add the chicken stock slowly, while continuing to stir.
 Allow to come to a boil and stir often. Once all the chicken stock is incorporated, remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese.
 Stir for approximately 2 minutes, or until there are no lumps. Add the chicken back in and heat for about 4-5 minutes, just to warm through.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 3
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 219.7
  • Total Fat: 10.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 90.9 mg
  • Sodium: 667.6 mg
  • Total Carbs: 8.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 25.4 g


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Swedish Meatballs, yummy!

There isn't much to say about these Swedish meatballs, other than delicious! While hand forming tiny meatballs takes a bit of time, they are SO good. They are lower in fat than meatballs fried in a skillet, because they are baked in the oven, but still get the crispy exterior that everyone loves! Trust me, these are better than Ikea's! *No horse meat jokes* I do want to recommend that  you mix all the ingredients before you add the ground beef. Because the beef is so lean, you'll want to mix the ingredients until they are just combined. Otherwise, the meatballs will become a bit tough and chewy, not fluffy little pillows!

Swedish Meatballs
Yields: 8 servings

2 lbs. lean ground beef
3 c. panko
1½ c. skim milk, divided
2 eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. ground allspice
3 tbsp. butter, unsalted
⅓ c. flour
3 c. beef stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 475 F. In a large bowl, combine ½ c. milk, eggs, garlic, salt, pepper, and allspice.


           

  Since the meat has not been added, feel free to mix this to your heart's content. Once well blended, add the panko and beef and combine only until blended. 



Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and using a 1-inch cookie scoop, form the mixture into meatballs. 

(I got 48.) You may need two baking sheets, and bake until brown and crispy. This should take approximately 10 minutes, and rotate the sheets if using two.


Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
 Add the flour, continuously whisking, to cook out the raw taste. Gradually whisk in the remaining milk and beef broth, bring to a boil.

 Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, add the meatballs to a bowl with the sauce, toss to combine. Serve over egg noodles and enjoy!