Monday, February 8, 2016

Carrot Cake Cookies

Friday we had our first real snowstorm of the season. About a foot of heavy, wet snow came down, taking down trees and branches all over the place.  We lost power for the day, it came back for an exciting 45 minutes, and then I woke up at 2AM with the hall light blinding me.  We've certainly seen worse.  But then, this morning, another storm.  High winds and frigid temperatures make sledding and snow ball fights impossible, so we're inside for the day.  Again.  Fortunately, it's toasty warm and we have the wonder of the internet to keep us busy when pillow piles, couch forts, knee hockey and car races stop entertaining the crew. No snow day is complete without baking, of course, so we whipped up these carrot cake cookies.  Good thing they are full of healthy ingredients, because I'm pretty sure Colin just polished off the last one.

Carrot Cake Cookies
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
3/4 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a separate bowl (I use a 2c. measure), whisk together coconut oil, egg, vanilla, and maple syrup.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.
Fold in carrots.
Chill for 30 minutes.
Drop tablespoon sized balls onto a prepared baking sheet (lined with silpat or parchment).
Bake for 13 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hawaiian Sweet Potato Pizzas

Or maybe Sweet Potato Nachos.  In any case, these were a nice little change of pace.  I know better than to pass off alternate pizza crusts to Colin.  He is neither fooled nor amused.  Zucchini, eggplant and cauliflower pizzas have all been met with disapproval.  So, for the younger set, I made sweet potato, ham, and pineapple tasting plates.  The verdict was that round sweet potatoes don't taste as good as long sweet potatoes.  Live and learn.

The grownups layered roasted sweet potato rounds with barbecue sauce or tomato sauce, pineapple, ham, and mozzarella.  Popped under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese, and they were delicious. I'd even make them as an appetizer.  They were the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and salty.  

Hawaiian Sweet Potato Pizzas

sweet potato, cut into rounds and roasted 
ham, diced
pineapple, chopped
barbecue or tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese

Layer all ingredients on sweet potatoes and broil until melted.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Frosted Vanilla Blondies

Last week we were invited to a birthday party play date for a friend.  Not one to arrive empty handed, and always one to use any excuse to make a sweet treat, it was the perfect reason to make blondies.  These are so quick and easy, a one dish treat that comes together in no time.  They have a whole lot of butter and sugar, so best to share them with friends as opposed to eating them all yourself.  I tortured my poor, deprived children by refusing to let them eat more than the ugly corner piece beforehand, so I think Colin had 4 at the party.
These are delicious as-is, with or without frosting, and amazing with the addition of chocolate chips.

From Smitten Kitchen

8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick), melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining with parchment or buttering.
Beat melted butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla.
Mix in flour and salt until just combined.
Pour into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set.
Allow to cool before slicing.

Vanilla Buttercream

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter until fluffy and smooth.
Add in sugar and beat well.
Add vanilla and mix until smooth and spreadable. If necessary, add a splash of milk to thin.
Spread frosting over cooled blondies.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lunch for the Kids

If I'm prepared for lunch, it's ready at the precise moment when the kids realize they are absolutely starving.  It's a healthy and delicious mix of foods that they eat in their entirety and give them energy for the rest of the day.

Other days, we walk in late.  They both start rummaging through the pantry for snacks while I'm trying to get lunch ready.  James is hungry and tired and clings to me like a baby monkey, so I'm trying to do everything with one hand.  Lunch is a random assortment of things I pull out of the fridge and pantry.  We're all usually back in the kitchen hungry a few hours later.

Not this week, though.  This week I'm on top of things.  Nothing groundbreaking, but we're trying a few things we haven't had in a while to avoid the boredom of getting into a rut, and I'm armed with plenty of fresh fruit to round it out.

Mini Pizzas
Whole wheat sandwich thins
Tomato Sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Heat under the broiler until cheese is melted and edges are crispy.

Pumpkin Muffins 
Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food (which has great lunch ideas).

Peanut Butter with Cinnamon Apples and Pretzels
This was after a birthday party, so no one was very hungry because they'd filled up on treats and snacks.

We can't go a week without this one - Grilled Cheese.
On James' plate, you can see that I offered him some of my greek yogurt with spinach and artichokes.  He was not impressed.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Lemon Garlic Baked Salmon

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and ate all the cookies.  I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but all the treats I've been eating for the past month have been making me feel a little sluggish.  When I saw a one day "cleanse" I thought I'd give it a try.  Loosely, it called for drinking hot lemon water first thing in the morning, a Glowing Green Smoothie for breakfast, Ginger Lemon Cayenne Detox tea and vegetables for lunch and dinner.

My day went like this:
First thing after my run: Hot Lemon water - This is a nice way to warm up.  I do this all the time.
Breakfast: Glowing Green Smoothie - I liked it a lot.  Very refreshing and hydrating.  Wished I hadn't baked donuts the night before as they were staring me down on the kitchen counter.
Lunch: Spicy Mulligatawny Soup - I'm pretty sure that's not what they meant by "salad," but I went with it.
Snack: Ginger Lemon Cayenne Detox tea - Zingy and invigorating. It helped with my lingering cough from the epic preschool cold that won't quit.  I gave some of the aforementioned donuts away to my brother in law and told everyone how great my one day cleanse was going.
4PM: Snuggled with the boys for a New Year's Eve movie on the couch.  I'm starving.  James literally pushes a pretzel into my mouth.  I eat several more, cursing the stupid cleanse.
Dinner: Roasted vegetables with tahini sauce.  And the last Godiva.

I think the takeaway here is that I need food, and plenty of it.  However, I loved the Glowing Green Smoothie, and had another one for breakfast today.  Although today I drank it alongside a bagel with cream cheese and lox.  So, instead of starving yourself, eat this delicious salmon.

Lemon Garlic Baked Salmon

1 lb. wild salmon
4 Tablespoons softened butter
Zest of one lemon
One garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
Juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
In a small bowl, combine butter, lemon zest and garlic.  Spread on salmon.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
Pour lemon juice over salmon after cooking and top with parsley.

And, lest you think that picture above depicts a calm meal while leisurely enjoying this salmon along with a nice glass of wine, here's what dinner actually looks like at our house.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Appetizer with Balsamic Reduction

I finally dealt with all the Thanksgiving leftovers.  In our basement fridge only beer and one package of brussels sprouts remained.  The original brussels sprouts had been part of a salad.  The first round of leftovers were repurposed into cole slaw to top pulled pork.  This last batch was looking a little sad in there when a friend gave me the great idea to serve them as an appetizer.  Roasted anything is amazing, and Jon, James and I pretty much inhaled these in no time.  Colin would have loved them, too, if his initial response to trying new foods these days wasn't an automatic "no thank you." 

These were easy to prep and ready in 20 minutes.  It's taken longer than that to get the balsamic reduction out of my shirt.  Holding a toddler while eating is recipe for disaster.  You'd think I'd have learned by now, but my sleeve is currently sporting peanut butter from lunch, so clearly not.  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction

2 cups brussels sprouts, ends cut off, outer leaves removed, and sliced in half
Olive oil

Balsamic Reduction:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
Arrange brussels sprouts on baking sheet and toss with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 25 minutes, turning once.
In a small saucepan, bring balsamic and brown sugar to a simmer.  Cook, whisking frequently, for about 5 minutes until reduced and thickened.  
Drizzle brussels sprouts with balsamic reduction and serve with spicy honey mustard for dipping.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftovers

The day after Thanksgiving, you make the turkey sandwich with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce.  It's amazing.  The next day, you make the same thing.  It's slightly less exciting, but still good. By the third day, you want nothing to do with any of it, and still have a refrigerator full of leftovers.

We hosted 20 people for Thanksgiving. Never mind the fact that I had never hosted Thanksgiving before and we don't have a dining room table.  It all came together and was great to have a crowd.  In my true fashion, I was worried there wouldn't be enough food and prepared enough for twice as many people.  And wine for four times as many.  Needless to say, we had a lot of leftovers.

Here are a few ideas for repurposing all that delicious food without going out of your mind with boredom.

Stuffing Muffins
recipe from Budget Bytes

3-4 cups leftover stuffing
1/4-1/2 cup chopped ham or turkey
1/4 cup chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk or cream
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare a standard sized muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
Mix together stuffing, meat and spinach.  Spoon into each muffin cup.
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
Pour egg mixture over stuffing.
Bake about 25 minutes until eggs are puffed and set.

Mashed Potato Croquettes

2 cups (or so) leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1/4 cup cheese (cheddar or parmesan)
1/4 cup flour
Oil, for frying

Mix together mashed potatoes, egg and cheese.  Add a little flour if your mixture seems too wet.
Portion into small patties and dredge in flour.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium low-medium heat.
Cook croquettes for about 3 minutes a side until golden brown.  Don't try to flip them too early, or they will fall apart.

Thanksgiving Casserole
This is essentially that leftover sandwich in casserole form, but you can stick it in the freezer to bring out when your delicious Thanksgiving is just a memory.

In a prepared casserole dish, layer stuffing, turkey, gravy, vegetables, and mashed potatoes.  Freeze.
To reheat, bake at 350 for 1-1 1/2 hours, covered.

Turkey Soup
A classic, for when you are really done.  Use whatever quantities you have.

Leftover cooked turkey
Chicken or turkey broth
Leftover green beans

Simmer for about 20 minutes and top with parsley.

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