Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spinach Risotto

This rich creamy dish is full of vegetables and can serve as a starch and vegetable exchange.

2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP extra virgin oil oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1 box frozen spinach
4 oz feta cheese (about 1 cup crumbled)
1 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tomato, diced

Heat broth in a saucepan to a gentle boil and reduce heat to low.
Defrost spinach in microwave its package for 10 minutes. Wring out in a clean kitchen towel and add to the last cup of stock. Stir in well to break spinach up.

In a skillet over high heat, melt butter and oil and add garlic and onion. Cook about 10 minutes until browned. Add rice and gently toast.

Add 2 cups of the stock to the rice mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring often. As the liquid evaporates, add more stock about 1/2 cup at a time, ending with the last cup of spinach stock.

Add crumbled feta, Parmesan, diced tomato and salt and pepper to taste. I put a pinch of nutmeg into any dish with greens for added warmth. Cook until all liquid dissolved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Goodies from the Pumpkin Patch

This time of year I find myself putting pumpkin in E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Seriously. Check out some of my favorites so far, more to come I'm sure. I stock up on canned solid pack pumpkin when its on sale so we have it all year, and during the fall I buy a few pie pumpkins that I mash up for immediate use. Either way, pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, potassium and fiber...and who doesn't love that color.

Pumpkin Waffles
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Fall French Toast Bake

Pumpkin Polenta
Pumpkin Ancho Chili
Pumpkin Grilled Cheese (perfect kid food)
Baked Sausage Spinach and Pumpkin Ziti
Roasted Fall Veggies
Halloween Black Bean Soup

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread
DIY: Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin Sesame Vinaigrette
Pumpkin Pie Latte Creamer
Pumpkin Mocha Almond Coffee Creamer

Looks like I better start cooking up some pumpkin desserts! Stay tuned ....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pizza Chicken

4 chicken breasts
MDP's Italian Spice Blend
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup pizza sauce
pepperoni slices
1 cup mozzarella cheese
grated parmesan
favorite veggie toppings: peppers**, onions**, mushrooms**, olives, chopped broccoli**, tomato slices, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, etc

** Thin sliced and precooked. I place in a glass bowl with a saucer as a lid and microwave chopped veggies about 2 minutes to soften.

Butterfly chicken breasts and pound out to make sure they are even thickness. How do I do that? Video link here :)

Drizzle olive oil over chicken breasts and toss them around to make sure they are all coated. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with a little MDP's Italian Spice Blend. Grill chicken breasts on an outdoor grill, grill pan, or under the broiler.

Preheat broiler to low.

Place cooked chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Spread chicken with pizza sauce, then top with pepperoni slices, veggies, and parmesan and mozzarella. Broil about 5 minutes until cheese has melted and browned to your liking.

This is delicious alongside caesar or garden salad for a low carb dinner, or with a side of pasta tossed in low-fat alfredo and topped with diced tomatoes and chopped flat leaf parsley if you want to live it up a little.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

1 stick softened butter
1 8oz block softened cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
zest from 1 lemon
4-6 cups powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, whip butter, cream cheese, and extracts at high speed. Add lemon zest and combine, and then begin to add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well in between to incorporate until frosting reaches the desired consistency.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All About Apples

Our Last Apple Picking Trip in New England

As I get ready to celebrate Fall, I wanted to highlight all of my apple recipes up to date. Though I know being this time of year, there might be quite a few more new ones before the season is over.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Apple Cinnamon Millet
MDP's Standby Coffee Cake
Apple Carrot Muffins
Oven French Toast
Apple Pie Muffins

Lunch or Dinner
Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole
Blue Cheese Apple Salad
Sweet Potato Soup
Leftover Bread Stuffing

Cinnamon Applesauce
Apple Crisp

Nathan eating a book about apples ;)

How did I forget Apple Pie you ask??? I don't have a specific recipe worth writing. I fill my pie crust with apples, squeeze a lemon over them and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Just a little sugar, since I'm not into things too sweet, and then I cover with either a second crust or a crumble like you would put on Apple Crisp. Then I cover with a scoop of my Walnut Spice Ice Cream. MMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Ok you got me, they are really called Popsicles. But when I first started making these, Nathan called them popstiggles and it sort of stuck in my house. They are my go-to way for using up leftover fruit or yogurt before it goes bad!

You will need some kind of Popsicle tray to make them. I actually have two, a classic old school mold that my mother-in-law gave me, and a dollar store version. Anything works.

With your overripe fruit, make a puree in the blender. Use fruit juice, a little at a time, to help make puree smooth if needed. You can either add the yogurt into the puree and blend, or layer yogurt and fruit puree in the molds. Freeze overnight.

You can use all kinds of things for the base, yogurt smoothie juice blends, pudding, jellow...I once used my leftover homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving layered with fat free vanilla yogurt. Perfect combo!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rigatoni Bolognese (Meat Sauce)

1/2 box whole wheat rigatoni or ziti
2 TBSP  olive oil
bay leaf
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 lb ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, veal)
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch allspice
salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat until it ripples. Add bay leaf, onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add celery and carrot and  cook until soft. Add meat and cook until brown throughout. Using pan lid or strainer, drain any grease and return to pan.

Add tomatoes, pumpkin, seasoning and 1/2 cup of water or stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 30 minutes and toss with cooked pasta. Top with grated parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pumpkin Sesame Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic 2 TBSP pureed pumpkin
2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP coarse ground mustard
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP toasted sesame oil
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch nutmeg dried or fresh grated

In a mixing bowl, grate garlic into a paste. Add pumpkin, honey, mustard and oil and whisk to emulsify. Slowly whisk in vinegar and spices.

Delicious drizzled over a salad of arugula, dried cranberries, toasted nuts and blue cheese.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cajun Chicken French Bread Pizza

1 regular size loaf French Bread (whole wheat if available)
1 boneless chicken breast (or 2 halves)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 medium onions
2 cups mozzarella
1 tomato, diced
1 cup Alfredo sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut french bread in half lengthwise as if you were making a large sub and set both halves onto a baking sheet. Toast until crispy and set aside.

Thinly slice onions with a mandolin. Heat skillet on high heat, and add 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until deep brown and charred. Spread onions on toasted french bread.

Thinly slice chicken breast into strips and  season with MDP's Seasoning and an extra pinch of cayenne.  In a skillet, heat 1/2 TBSP of olive oil and add chicken. Saute until cooked through. Add Alfredo sauce and stir until heated through. Pour chicken mixture over each half of french bread.

Top with diced tomatoes and mozzarella. Bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese melted and golden.

** Try this with my easy low-fat Alfredo sauce!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creamy Kale and Cauliflower

1 TBSP olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1" or smaller pieces
1/2 bunch kale, rough chopped
2 TBSP half and half
2 TBSP butter
salt, pepper, nutmeg

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook 1-2 mintues to brown and add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is browned and add 1/2 cup water. Cover the pan and let steam about 5 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Add kale, stirring in until wilted.

Once vegetables are cooked, add half and half and butter. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. 4

Even my 3 year old liked it!

If you liked this, you may also like:
Easy Peasy Broccoli and Cheese

Monday, September 19, 2011

Philly Cheese Steak Casserole

1/2 box short cut pasta (ziti, spirals, etc)
1 pound boneless steak
MDP's Seasoning
2 medium onions
2 bell peppers
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Prepare pasta according to package directions and set aside. Heat broiler to low.

Meanwhile, remove fat from beef. Cut beef into thin slices and sprinkle with MDP's Seasoning . Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook beef in skillet 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown. Stir in onions, mushrooms and bell pepper. Cook until vegetables softened, stirring occasionally.
In medium bowl, beat soup, milk, dash of Worcestershire, and mustard. Pour into beef and vegetables, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add 1 cup cheddar and stir to combine.

Add meat and veggies to pasta and stire well. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and pour mixture in evenly. Mix remaining 1/2 cup cheddar, parmesan, and breadcrumbs and pour over the top of the casserole. Broil about 10 minutes to crisp.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Day with 10 Pounds of Tomatoes ... Marinara, Salsa, and Veggie Stock!

Tomatoes on the vine and Roma tomatoes were on sale one week at our local produce store. I bought 10 pounds of  great tomatoes for just about $10. A few hours later we had 2 quarts of canned salsa, a quart of marinara, 2 quarts of veggie stock, AND a delicious batch of chicken parm and pasta for dinner. Here's a look at my day:

Tomato Prep:
Wash tomatoes and remove stems. With a sharp knife, score an "X" on the bottom halves of the tomatoes. Working in batches, drop the tomatoes in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slitted spoon into a large bowl of ice water. Let stand 5 minutes, and remove peels (they should come right off from the "X"). Set peels aside, and divide tomatoes: 2/3 for marinara, 1/3 for salsa.  If you do not want the seeds in your sauces, gently squeeze the insides of the tomatoes out over a large bowl before chopping and set seeds aside with the tomato peels.

1 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, rough chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 fresh or 2 dry bay leaves
2/3 of the processed tomatoes, rough chopped
1 cup red wine (something you would drink)
2 cups water
1 red pepper, diced small  
1 golf ball size beet, diced small
1 large carrot, grated
3 bunches basil (by bunch I mean the stem and leaves attached)
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 TBSP fresh oregano
red pepper flakes

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat over medium-high heat and add oil. Once oil ripples, add onion, garlic and bay leaf and cook until golden.

Add tomatoes, red wine, water, red pepper and beets. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add basil, oregano, a dash of red pepper flakes,  and 1/2-1 tsp each salt and pepper (based on your tastes). Cover and simmer about 2 hours, reducing heat if needed to keep sauce gently cooking without bubbles escaping or sauce sticking to the bottom.

Remove bay leaf, basil and oregano stems for the sauce (leaves may fall off during cooking that can be left behind). Use an immersion blender to puree sauce halfway, or carefully transfer half the sauce to a blender and pulse with a towel over the top  (watching for steam) until smooth, and then re-add puree to chunky sauce. Adjust salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Continue cooking until enough of the liquids have evaporated to create desired thickness.

Serve immediately, freeze in quart bags or yogurt tubs, refrigerate for up to a week, or can sauce in quart jars. When serving, top with freshly chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

2 large onions, rough chopped  
5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped  
1 green bell pepper, diced into 1/2" pieces 
1 yellow pepper, diced into 1/2" pieces
1 jalapeno, finely diced (with or without seeds and ribs depending on heat level desired)
1/3 of the processed tomatoes, rough chopped
1 peach rough chopped (process the same way as a tomato, then peel)
2 limes, zest and juices
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander
1/4-1/2  tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 cup corn or black beans (optional)

In a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, add all ingredients except the corn/black beans. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to gently simmer about 20 minutes until vegetables are soft. If salsa is too chunky, gently work out the large chunks with a potato masher. Adjust seasonings to taste, and add corn or black beans and stir until heated through.

Serve immediately, freeze in quart bags or yogurt tubs, refrigerate for up to a week, or can salsa in quart jars.

Veggie Stock:
1 onion , chunked
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 ribs celery or 1 1/2 cups celery tops/leaves, rough chopped
2 carrots, cut into 3-4 chunks
Tomato peels from processing tomatoes
parsley/cilantro stems
5-10 peppercorns

Place above in a large stock pot, or crock pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, and simmer about 2-4 hours. If you are using a crock pot, let steep 12-14 hours on low heat. Line a strainer with paper towels and pour contents through to strain. This makes a very fragrant, rich vegetable stock great for soups, fortifying pasta, rice, and gravy bases. You can throw in any other odds and ends you might have around the house like bones to make it a meat stock, mushrooms, or other herbs.
Use immediately, freeze in quart bags or yogurt tubs, refrigerate for up to a week, or can stock in quart jars.

Check out these links on safe canning if you are a newbie:
I used washed pint jars with new lids (I replace the lids every year), a hot water bath, and my canning tongs and lid-picker-upper. A hot water bath is a HUGE lidded pot with a rack inside that helps you to drop the jars in and lift them out. The special tongs are perfect to help you safely remove the jars, and you want to let them stand for about 24 hours on the counter after processing and before storing. Don't be surprised if you hear any hissing or popping as its just the seals working ... and be sure to refrigerate and use within 30 days if for any reason the lids can still be pushed down to make the popping sound after 24 hours (it means they didn't seal right).

Fall French Toast Bake

1 loaf of whole wheat French bread, sliced in half the long way
4 oz cream cheese softened (1/2 block)
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup real maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar (optional)

1 cup frozen cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut loaf of bread in half the long way (as if you are making a giant sandwich).  Spread cream cheese on the cut sides of the bread. Put halves back together and cut into 1" cubes. Scatter in a buttered 13X9 pan.

Beat eggs, milk, syrup, and vanilla in mixing bowl. Pour over the cubed bread. Sprinkle cranberries and pecan over the top and let sit overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until set and firm. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).  

MDP's Italian Spice Blend

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon onion
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container. Great sprinkled on meats, in sauces, on garlic bread or bread sticks, and on steamed vegetables.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hearty Calzones

1 cup of warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup white bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup  rolled oats

Add all ingredients for the dough to a warm mixing bowl. Mix until combined and the dough is sticky and clings together. Knead for 10 minutes. Spray the ball of dough with cooking spray and turn so its all coated. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and stick in the oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees for 1 minute ONLY and shut the oven off. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put mixer bowl back on the mixer and knead (or punch the dough down) for 2 minutes. Divide into 4 and roll out circle on a floured cutting board until dough is about 1/4" thick.  Sprinkle a piece of wax paper with corn meal or semolina, and lay dough out flat. Repeat until you have rolled all 4.

Fill calzones with toppings of choice, for example:  
mozzarella              pepperoni                      peppers                mushrooms             basil
ricotta                     meatballs                       onions                  spinach                   sage
feta                          ham                                broccoli               zucchini                flat leaf parsley
cheddar (sharp)      grilled chicken              tomatoes              roasted garlic
                              sausage                           olives
I would recommend about 1/4 cup cheese,  about 1/4 cup meat,  1/4-1/2 cup and vegetables per calzone.

Layer meat, vegetables, and cheese (if you use ricotta, spread it down first) on 1/2 of each circle, leaving at least 1" at the edge. Fold empty half of the dough over, and roll the edge tightly, pinching it to seal. Slide calzones from wax paper onto baking sheet, 2 calzones per sheet.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes until dough has puffed up and begun to harden, and poke a hole in the top with a knife to vent. Continue to bake another 20-30 minutes until dough is golden brown. Brush with olive oil before serving (optional).  Serve with marinara on the side for dipping.

I love to make my calzones with ricotta and mozzarella, and roasted vegetables. Meatballs, mozzarella, and peppers are a big favorite in my house too!

**I always use my kitchen aid mixer for dough making, but you can make it by hand with a large bowl, strong wooden spoon and your 2 hands. **

If you like this recipe, you may also like:
Everything Bagel Calzones
Breakfast Pinwheel Calzones
Homemade Pizza

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spicy Pineapple Jalapeno Jam

2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple
1 cup water, divided into 2/3 and 1/3  
1 finely chopped jalapeno (with ribs and seeds for heat)
1 small packets pectin (Bell for no-sugar or low-sugar recipes)**
1/4 cup raw sugar (or white if you don't have raw on hand)

Finely chop pineapple and jalapeno and add to a medium saucepan with 2/3cup  water. Bring to a boil and add pectin slowly, stirring to make its well combined. Add sugar and bring jam to a rolling boil, and boil hard for 1 minute while stirring.

Pour pineapple/pepper mixture into blender and pulse for 15-20 seconds until smooth.
If you are canning, heat a water bath before making the preserves. Sterilize the lids and jars for 5 minutes, and ladle hot preserves into (2) half pint jars leaving a 1/4" head space. Process 10 minutes, making sure there is 1" of water over the lids. Let stand overnight, and refrigerate and immediately use any jars that do not properly seal (the top shouldn't be able to pop down anymore).

**Check out the specific manufacturers directions on the pectin and adjust recipe accordingly. This recipe is intended to make no sugar added preserves so you can't use the regular pectin for sugar-based recipes. I found the small batch Bell's no/low sugar pectin. **

One of my favorite snacks is crackers with cream cheese, and a spicy jelly or jam. When we don't have any on hand, sometimes I just mix some chopped jalapeno rings with orange marmalade or apricot preserves and put it over a small square of cream cheese ...yummy!

This is also delicious on grilled pork, chicken, or fish.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

No-Box Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.

In mixer bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and gradually add into mixing bowl until well blended. Pour into baking pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baked Chicken Parmesan

2 pounds chicken tenderloins (about 12), evenly flattened
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs +1/4 cup warm water
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup regular breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper
marinara sauce
3 slices provolone
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 shredded Parmesan
fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set up a breading station by placing flour, salt and pepper in bowl 1; water and eggs beaten together in bowl 2; and panko, regular breadcrumbs and Parmesan in bowl 3. Spray a baking sheet with at least a 1/2" lip with cooking spray.

Bread chicken by coating well in bowl 1, 2, then 3. Lay on baking sheet separated, and when all tenders are breaded, spray the tops with cooking spray and bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Carefully turn tenders, watching that bottom coating doesn't stick to the baking sheet. Cut each provolone slice into 4 equal strips, and lay 1 provolone strip on each tender. Top with marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella, and shredded Parmesan. Return to the oven and cook until cheese is melted and toasted, about another 10-20 minutes.

Serve with pasta tossed in marinara.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Basic Polenta

I'm getting into alternative starch sides more and more these days. There are so many great options to mix it up from the old "rice, pasta, or potato tonight" doldrums. Polenta is a dish made from boiled corn meal, often served in Italian cooking instead of pasta.  This is a basic stand-by recipe that you could use with any of your favorite recipes that are served over pasta. You can also form the polenta, and grill squares of it as a dinner side.

4 cups water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup corn grits or coarse corn meal
1 TBSP butter (optional)

In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Slowly stir in corn grits, and stir frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until mixture is very thick, continuing to stir often.

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Spread mixture into loaf or bundt pan and let stand 15 minutes. Turn polenta onto a cutting board and cut into 1/2" slices.

Polenta can be used with your favorite marinara, along side sweet and sour sausage skewers, or even as the pasta layer of your favorite lasagna (make a double batch, grease your lasagna pan and another of the same size if you have one, pour the corn mixture into the pans and press into a thin layer and form 15 minutes. Turn out onto cutting boards, begin to build lasagna and carefully place polenta layers in place of dry noodles).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Steak and Cheese French Bread Pizza

1 loaf french bread
1 pound shaved sandwich steak
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 TBSP mustard
1 cup pickle slices, chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut french bread in half lengthwise as if you were making a large sub and set both halves onto a baking sheet. Toast until crispy and set aside.
In a skillet over high heat, cook steak until brown throughout and broken into pieces. Whisk cream of mushroom and mustard together and pour into beef. Spoon beef mixture evenly over french bread. Top with chopped pickle slices and cheddar cheese.

Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Latte Creamer

1 cup half and half
1 cup milk
2 TBSP pumpkin puree
1 TBSP* agave nectar or raw sugar ( I don't drink coffee sweet, no sugar when I have regular Joe)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or allspice (or other favorite fall spice blend)
fresh grated nutmeg or pinch of dried nutmeg to taste

Mix ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until edges just begin to lightly bubble, whisking constantly.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container and shake well before use. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

*You may want to add more to account for personal taste. Add sweetener 1 TBSP at a time to the warm cream mixture and taste. You may also substitute your favorite artificial sweetener.

Need to use the rest of that can of pumpkin? Try:
Pumpkin Polenta
Pumpkin Ancho Chili
Pumpkin Waffles
Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Grilled Cheese
Sausage Spinach and Pumpkin Ziti

(Cauliflower and Potato) Cheese Soup

This soup came out silky smooth and delicious, your kids may not even notice its almost all vegetables (I won't tell if you don't).It would also be deliciously green if you used broccoli for the cauliflower.
Hanging in an ice bath before hitting the fridge

2 cups chicken stock
1 head cauliflower
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 handful parsley

Combine above ingredients in a stock pot over high heat and add water until there is about 1" over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium, and cook until all vegetables are soft like you are making mashed potatoes. About 1/4-1/2 of the liquid will dissipate.

With an immersion blender or by carefully transferring batches to a blender, puree veggies until they are smooth and return to the pot.  Reduce heat to low.

1 15oz can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika to taste (depending on how favorable your stock was and personal taste)

Stir until combined and remove from heat.

Banana Walnut Pancakes

2-3 cups baking mix
1 cup milk or buttermilk
2 eggs
1 ripe banana
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat an electric skillet or stove-top griddle to medium heat.

In a medium bowl, mash banana with a fork. Add milk, eggs and vanilla and whisk until blended. 

Add 2 cups of the baking mix and cinnamon.  Whisk until combined, batter will be slightly lumpy. Add additional baking mix if batter is too thin, up to another cup (if you used buttermilk it will likely be thick enough, if you use milk it will likely need more mix).

Pour 1/4 cup scoops of batter onto hot skillet. Sprinkle with walnuts and turn once bubbles form on the surface.

If you like this recipe, you may also like:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Juicy Steak (or pork or chicken) for Tacos

Another one that is almost too simple to post, but worth a share. This is a real quick way to cook some meat while you are gone all day and have it ready for tacos, sandwiches, quesadillas and other quick meals.

2-3 pounds London Broil or other cut for braising/slow cooking
2-3 pound pork sirloin roast, sliced in half lengthwise
4 split skinless chicken breasts (boneless or bone in)

garlic powder
1 can or bottle beer

Sprinkle both sides of meat liberally with MDP's Seasoning and garlic powder. Spray the inside of a crock pot and lay meat in the bottom. Pour beer over meat and cover. Cook 8-10 hours on low. Remove meat to a cutting board and slice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Quinoa with Roasted Asparagus

1 cup Quinoa
2 lemons
1 bunch asparagus
5 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper
5 green onions
10 mint leaves
1 handful parsley
1 cup grapes
1/2 cup pepitas

Rinse quinoa well until water runs clear. Add quinoa to a rice cooker with 2 cups of water. Cook about 20 minutes until liquid absorbed and fluff quinoa with a fork.

While quinoa is cooking, cut asparagus into 1" pieces and place on a roasing/baking sheet. Use a mandoline to thinly slice garlic and scatter over asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast under a high broiler about 10 mminutes, stirring halfway through.

In a large serving bowl, juice lemons ** and add finely chopped green onion, mint, and parsley. Once asparagus is roasted, add into lemon and herbs and stir well. Add cooked quinoa, grapes and pepitas.

Serve warm, cold, or room temperature. Great for picnics!

If you like this, you might also like:
** QUICK TIP: Before you juice the lemons, use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer yellow part of the peel. Set aside in a bowl on the counter top for about a week to dry out, and store for flavoring other sauces later **

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ginger Peach Preserves

4 cups chopped peaches
2 TBSP lemon juice
2/3 water
1 tsp grated ginger
2 small packets pectin (Bell for no-sugar/low-sugar recipes)**

Prepare peaches by washing them and scoring an "x" through the bottom with a knife so they are easier to peel. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and submerge peaches for 5-10 minutes. Once the skin starts to peel in the center of the "x" they are  ready. Soak peaches for about 5 minutes in a bowl of ice water. Skins should come off easily.

Finely chop peaches and add to a medium saucepan with ginger, lemon juice, and water. Bring to a boil and mash with a potato masher to crush any large chunks of pieces. Add pectin slowly, stirring to make its well combined. Bring jam to a rolling boil, and boil hard for 1 minute while stirring.

If you are canning, heat a water bath before making the preserves. Sterilize the lids and jars for 5 minutes, and ladle hot preserves into (4) half pint jars leaving a 1/4" head space. Process 10 minutes, making sure there is 1" of water over the lids. Let stand overnight, and refrigerate and immediately use any jars that do not properly seal (the top shouldn't be able to pop down anymore).
Makes 4 half pint jars.

**Check out the specific manufacturers directions on the pectin and adjust recipe accordingly. This recipe is intended to make no sugar added preserves so you can't use the regular pectin for sugar-based recipes. I found the small batch Bell's no/low sugar pectin. **

For canning tips, check out 5 Great Canning Websites
This jam is delicious spread on:

Or inside:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beef Barley Soup

This is one of my dirt cheap recipes. You can find beef bones for a couple dollars in the meat section for mixed in with beef, or ask your butcher counter for them. If its a small market, you may need to ask them to save them for you ahead of time. Or you can just save time and use pre-made beef stock if it becomes too much hassle, and make this beef flavored soup.

1 pound beef bones (with surrounding meat and fat)
2 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
4 stalks celery
2 large carrots
1/2 bunch kale
1/2 cup barley
Worcestershire sauce

In a stockpot heated to medium/high temp, add 1 TBSP olive oil. Once oil is hot, season beef bones with salt and pepper and add to oil. Brown each side of the meat, turning as little as possible, about 5 minutes per side. Once all pieces are a deep brown, remove from pot and drain grease/drippings. Add bones back to the stockpot and fill with water. Cook about 2 hours on medium heat. Line a mesh strainer with a paper towel, and set over a wide-mouth pitcher, bowl or pot. Pour bones and stock through the lined strainer. Set stock aside, and pick meat off the bones.

Add remaining TBSP of olive oil to stockpot. Cook onion, garlic, and celery until translucent. Add carrots, kale, and stock. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a gentle simmer. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce to taste, barley, and the beef. Cook about 30 minutes until barley has bloomed and is tender.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mom's Signature Grilled Chicken

This is almost too simple to post, but after years of trying I found my favorite way to season chicken for grilling. Once its grilled, you can use the chicken for anything: salads, quesadillas, sandwiches, calzones pizza just to name a few. I have been making a batch every week just to have it handy for lunches and quick dinners.

4 split chicken breast halves
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Rinse chicken and remove any fat. Place in a glass dish, and sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic. Zest lemon over chicken, and squeeze out lemon juice.  Turn chicken to make sure its coated on both sides and let stand at least 15 minutes, up to 24 hours.

Grill on on outdoor grill, grill pan, or under the broiler until cooked throughout and slightly charred.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sweet and Sour Sausage Skewers

1 lb sausage links (I used turkey basil)
4 bell peppers
1 onion
3 TBSP whole grain mustard
2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP sweet citrus-like preserves (orange marmalade, apricot, pineapple, etc)
black pepper

Add sausages to a pot of boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain water and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk mustard, honey, vinegar, preserves, and black pepper together. Slice sausage into 1/2" slices and toss into the marinade.

Wash pepper and cut them into chunks about 1" square. Cut onion into 1" chunks. Add peppers and onions to marinade and toss to coat. Let sit 15 minutes.

Thread skewers alternately with sausage and vegetables. Reserve marinade for basting skewers while they are cooking.

Preheat your broiler on high or your outdoor grill. Grill until edges of peppers are charred and crispy. Take any remaining marinade and pour it into a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat to a boil stirring frequently (2-3 minutes). Serve on the side as a dipping sauce.

Serve on or off the sticks depending on the age of your eaters, and serve with some roasted potatoes.

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