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January 31, 2012

Saveur Spaghetti and Meatballs

I love spaghetti and meatballs. There are few foods as comforting as a huge plate of homemade spaghetti and sauce. I have nothing against jarred pasta sauce, but it can't hold a candle to day long simmered homemade. Especially in the summer when tomatoes are fresh homemade sauce is delicious from the first to the last bite. Growing up my mother was the queen of doctoring up store bought sauces. She would add onion, basil, and oregano and serve it as homemade. In every other way my mother was a fabulous cook, but pasta sauce was never her strong suit. Luckily I was able to learn to create great tasting pasta sauce from friends and family that I still use as base for my homemade sauce to this day. Always up to trying new things, I was interested when a recent issue of Saveur Magazine had a recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs combining three types of meat.

This recipe has 19 ingredients. It takes approximately an hour and half to prep and cook and makes 8 servings. I made a few modifications to the recipe. First off I always grind my own meat, which I did with the pork and beef in this recipe. I would have loved to have ground my own veal, but my local stores only carry it pre-ground. Second I was unable to find provolone that wasn't sliced, so I actually had to shred my cheese using cheese slices, luckily it worked pretty well. The biggest changes I made the recipe were the size of the meatballs and the cooking time. To make 6 oz meatballs seemed extreme to me, especially when feeding two kids, so I made my meatballs substantially smaller. I also found that the liquid evaporated from my sauce very quickly, so make sure to watch the sauce so it doesn't get too dry.

The meatballs are the best part of this recipe. They were moist and had a great flavor. The sauce was a little too sweet, it would almost be better on a hoggie with the sauce and banana peppers. However. the meatballs are well worth the recipe and my family loved them. I would suggest adding an additional can of tomatoes to cut down on the sweetness and possibly crushed red pepper. Overall, a kid friendly recipe that still appeals to adults.

January 30, 2012

Redbook Cauliflower and Tomatoes

My two kids were great about eating their vegetables until about a year ago. Now they love fruit and will eat whole bags of apples a week, but getting them to eat the vegetables on their plate can be hit or miss. My husband on the other hand is the opposite, he love vegetables and will eat as many as I put in front of him, but it's like pulling teeth to get him to eat a piece of fruit. I fall somewhere in the middle, I love both fruit and vegetables and eat large servings of each everyday. One of my favorite ways to get everyone in my household to eat their vegetables is to roast them. Roasted vegetables have a delicious nutty flavor and are very popular in my house. Combining fresh herbs and roasted vegetables is easy and flavorful and Redbook magazine recently had a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes which looked perfect for my family dinner table.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of prep and cooking time and makes approximately 4-6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no substitutions. There were a few things with the recipe that I had to change. The temp was too high and the roasting time too long. I ended up roasting the recipe at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. I also made sure to toss the cauliflower twice during the cooking time or they would have otherwise burned. Granted I did make my cauliflower heads small, so if you keep the heads on the larger side than the original temp and time might work more sufficiently. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Roasted vegetables are a great way to get people who hate boiled or steamed vegetables to eat a recipe. I liked that this recipe was simple and the combination of the cauliflower and rosemary worked well together. The tomatoes created a nice sweet flavor and the garlic brought everything together. Overall, a great, easy and flavorful vegetable side dish recipe.

For the recipe go to Cauliflower and Tomatoes.

January 28, 2012

Saveur Frito Pie

As I've stated numerous times before my husband loves meat. He will agree to one or two vegetarian meals a week, but also insists on beef or pork on at least one of the other days. One of my family's favorite types of meat dishes is chili. My husband and boys love chili and look forward to the annual chili fest in our region every year in September. Before I got married I had only made vegetarian chili, so after meeting my husband I had to teach myself to adequately make meat based chili. The most important part of any chili dish is the recipe, so I was excited when I saw a recipe for Frito Pie in a recent issue of Saveur magazine, which looked kid friendly and full of flavor.

This recipe has 15 ingredient, plus toppings. It takes an hour and twenty minutes of prep and cooking time and makes 6 servings. I already had all the spices in my cupboard and the remainder of the ingredients were easy to find locally. As with all recipes that call for ground meat, I ground my own. My kitchen aid attachment makes grinding meat very easy and the texture and taste is superior to store bought. Make sure to fully caramelize the onion for the full flavor to come out in the chili. I weighed out my meat to get the exact 2 1/2 pounds, which I highly recommend. Having the exact amount of an ingredient can make or break a recipe. I chose to serve the frito pie will all the toppings suggested which I placed in bowls and allowed my family to add to taste. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The flavor on this frito pie was delicious. The spices worked well together and provided a full flavor to the dish. Make sure to place the fritos under the chili right before serving in order that they do not become soggy. My husband placed his fritos on top of the chili which kept them crunchy, which I think would work well if I made this dish again in the future. My favorite thing about this recipe is that it is a nice compromise between people that love meat and potatoes and those that want more involving meals. My whole family enjoyed this recipe and it was very family friendly.

For the recipe go to Frito Pie.

January 27, 2012

Everyday Food Classic Cornbread

My husband and I have a serious disagreement over cornbread. I like my cornbread sweet and most of the time I add both butter and honey. My husband on the other hand prefers cornbread with less sugar and cooked with bacon fat. Luckily, we both love pretty much any type of cornbread regardless of whether it's perfect and I prepare it at least once a month. My two boys love cornbread even more than my husband and I and they have been known many mornings to have peanut butter sandwiches using cornbread. Since I make cornbread frequently I am always looking for new recipes to try that both my husband and I can agree upon. The January issue of Everyday Food Magazine had a recipe for Classic Cornbread which looked simple and promised to be tender and delicious.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. I takes 30 ,minutes of total time, 10 of which is active and makes 8 servings. All the ingredients are basic and I either already had in my pantry or was easily able to purchase. Make sure to not over mix the batter or the cornbread will turn out tough. I found that I needed to tent the top the last 5 minutes to prevent burning. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

As I expected my two boys devoured this cornbread. They also made peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast the next day using the leftovers and informed me that they were delicious. I liked that the cornbread held together well and didn't crumble to pieces. With 6 tablespoons of sugar this recipe is on the sweet side, but my husband ate it without complaints. A very easy to prepare cornbread recipe that worked well as a side for the Frito Pie I prepared as a main dish.

For the recipe go to Classic Cornbread.

January 26, 2012

Womans Day Seared Tilapia with Pineapple and Cucumber Relish

My oldest son loves fish. Any time that I prepare a fish dish he eagerly eats his serving and then goes around begging for more. I love how easy fish is to prepare and it's a great solution for a busy weeknight meal. Growing up my mom only prepared salmon, which I love, but after moving out on my own I taught myself to appreciate a larger variety of fish. Currently I try to prepare at least one fish dish every week or two. I would prepare fish even more if it was less expensive and I could get my meat eating husband to be convinced that bacon isn't its own food group. As I was looking through the January issue of Woman's Day Magazine I came across a recipe for Seared Tilapia with Pineapple and Cucumber Relish, which looked easy and full of protein.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I actually had to go to multiple stores in order to find non-farm raised tilapia, but I was finally able to find some. I had no problems finding any of the other ingredients and made no modifications. I chose to seed the jalapeno since my five and three-year-old were eating it and they are hit or miss with eating spicy foods. In order for the fish to not stick I used slightly more oil than suggested by the recipe. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Fish recipes are great weeknight meals. They save time and are always popular with my children. This recipe has 40 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat per serving and took less than a half an hour to prepare. The relish was delicious, my husband added rice wine vinegar to his dish and thought that it enhanced the flavor even more. Overall, a healthy and easy fish recipe.

For the recipe go to Seared Tilapia with Pineapple and Cucumber Relish.

January 25, 2012

Redbook Sweet and Spicy Cashews

The last few months have been up and down with my health. I realized after being in the hospital for the second time a couple of weeks ago that I needed to start taking better care of myself. I always try to cook from scratch, but I tended to grab the baked goods that I made rather than protein snacks. So in the last couple of weeks I have re-done my snack routine. Gone are the cookies and sweets that I would love to be able to enjoy all the time. I've realized that I've finally got my potassium back up and I would like to keep it that way. Therefore I have started eating more fruit and having protein with all my snacks. It has been a learning curve for sure, I would love to say that I enjoy bananas and milk, but it's a struggle. I do love nuts, peanut butter, and cheese, so increasing my protein has been relatively easy. Recently, Redbook Magazine had a recipe for Sweet and Spicy Cashews, which looked easy and full of flavor.

This recipe has 5 ingredients. It takes 10 minutes of prep and 40 minutes of cook time and makes 3 cups of nuts. With only 5 ingredients I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no modifications. I did find that I had to turn the nuts more than the once suggested by the recipe, otherwise they would have burned. Additionally, I found that the temp was too high to put the nuts in for 40 minutes. I either suggest turning the oven down to 275 degrees or lessening the cooking time. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Nuts are a great source of protein, but plain roasted nuts can get boring. This recipe was a great break from my normal roasted almonds routine I liked that the Chinese-five-spice and cayenne gave the recipe a slightly spicy taste, while the sugar made the cashews sweet. Overall, a very simple nut recipe that's full of flavor.

For the recipe go to Sweet and Spicy Cashews.

January 24, 2012

Everyday Food Roasted Beets with Orange and Thyme

Growing up I hated beets. My mother would try over and over again to make me eat them and I stubbornly refused. It wasn't until I got married that I discovered that beets weren't just from a can or jar and could actually be delicious. In the last 8 years I have fallen in love with roasted beets and make them frequently. My two boys are hit or miss on whether they will eat them, but luckily my husband loves roasted beets and will eat them as many times as they are prepared. One of my favorite ingredients to pair with roasted beets are fresh herbs, so I was intrigued when the January/February issue of Everyday Food Magazine had a recipe for Roasted Beets with Orange and Thyme.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes approximately 50 minutes to prepare and roast and makes 4 servings. I actually had a hard time finding fresh beets locally. For whatever reason all my local stores were out of beets for over two weeks. Luckily, I was finally able to find them and prepared the dish. All the remaining ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding them and made no substitutions. I used local honey, I always try to use local honey when available. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Fresh herbs and roasted beets when paired together are delicious. This recipe is very easy to put together and has a nicely balanced flavor. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed these beets, I particularly liked the flavor from the grated orange peel and fresh thyme. Overall, a very simple roasted beet recipe.

For the recipe go to Roasted Beets with Orange and Thyme.

January 23, 2012

Everyday Food Roasted Squash with Parmesan Herbs

One of my favorite things about the fall is the abundance of inexpensive squash. For many years I only made acorn squash roasted with maple syrup or brown sugar. As I got older I branched out to other types of squash and absolutely fell in love with butternut and spaghetti squash. I love how easy it is to create a delicious pasta dish with roasted squash and how little effort it takes. The squash I use the most is butternut squash and since I use it so frequently I figured that it was time to try other squash varieties. Recently, Everyday Food Magazine had a recipe for Roasted Squash with Parmesan and Herbs, which looked delicious and different than my normal squash routine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes one hour and twenty minutes to roast the squash,15 minutes to prepare the dish and makes 6 servings. All the ingredients were easy to find at my local grocery store and I made no substitutions. I used flat leaf parsley, which is the only kind that my husband will eat, he doesn't like the texture of regular parsley. The longest part of this recipe is making sure to remove the seeds and scraping out the flesh of the squash after roasting. I actually added more than the recommended 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, my family loves cheese so I added more than twice the amount. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Getting my kids to try new types of vegetables can often be difficult on the best of days. This recipe was well received by both of my boys, they actually thought the squash was pasta. I liked that one squash made more than enough for my family of four and the taste of the fresh herbs was delicious. A great way to try new squash varieties and very kid friendly.

For the recipe go to Roasted Squash with Parmesan Herbs.

January 22, 2012

Recipe.com Dilled Pot Roast

I have a slight obsession with my slow-cooker. I love everything about it, the fact that it saves me time, that it can transform bad cuts of meat into a delicious meal and most importantly that it is very easy! Growing up my mom never really used her slow-cooker except for the once or twice a year she would cook a meal using it and then put it away until the following year. When I got married I quickly learned from my mother-in-law that the slow-cooker was awesome. It took a little trail and error of adding to much or not enough liquid to perfect my slow-cooker technique, but after a couple of years I started branching out and trying any recipe I could find using the crockpot. One of my favorite slow-cooker dishes is pot roast and I was excited when I ran across a recipe for Dilled Pot Roast on Recipe.com using fresh dill.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of prep and 6 hours of cooking time on high, and makes 6-8 servings. All the ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding any of them at my local grocery store. I cooked my roast on high due to the fact that I started it too late to cook on low. Normally I like to cook on low in my slow-cooker, I think the flavor is more favorable. I chose to Greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt, I prefer the flavor and thickness. Finally, I used kosher salt instead of regular salt, I find the flavor preferable in cooking and baking. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love the amount of time and effort that cooking in my slow-cooker provides. This recipe was no exception, the meat turned out moist and delicious. I chose to serve the roast over noodles as suggested, but honestly the taste of the roast was good enough to be served alone. The fresh dill really made this dish and created a great flavor for the roast. Overall, an easy and delicious slow-cooker recipe.

For the recipe go to Dilled Pot Roast.

January 21, 2012

Food and Wine Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans and Avocado

 I absolutely love Brussels sprouts. Unlike most kids growing up I would make a beeline for the Brussels sprouts during the holidays. They are delicious! When I first got married to my husband his idea of a vegetable was the topping on his pizza at the student center. Over the years I have slowly reformed him to thinking that vegetables are a normal side at dinner time. My two boys have taken after me and love most any vegetable I put in front of them. Brussels sprouts have become a family favorite and I was interested when the December issue of Food and Wine Magazine had a recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans and Avocados, which looked delicious and different than other recipes I have tried. 

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes approximately 40 total minutes, with 20 minutes being active, and makes 8 servings. All the ingredients were easy to find at my local grocery store and I made no substitutions. Instead of toasting my pecans in the oven, I used the stove-top. I find it easier to use this method when making small amounts of roasted nuts and it saves my oven for the main dish I am preparing. Additionally, I only prepared a pound of Brussels sprouts since that is the size package that I am able to find locally (I would love to be able to find them bulk). Since I had a smaller amount of sprouts I only used one baking sheet, instead of the two suggested by the recipe. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written. 

Roasted Brussels sprouts are always popular in my house and this recipe was no exception. The pecans created a nice texture to the Brussels sprouts and the avocado a delicious flavor combination. This recipe makes a large number of servings and re-heated well for an additional meal the next day. My husband loved the taste from the fresh thyme and balsamic vinegar, which gave the sprouts a nice sweet taste. Overall, a great and unusual roasted Brussels sprouts recipe. 

January 17, 2012

Everyday Food Slow-Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew

During the winter months my slow-cooker gets used at least once a week. I love the fact that I can place ingredients in it in the morning and not have to do anything until dinner is served. Since my youngest is now a very high needs three-year-old the time that my slow-cooker saves me is invaluable. Plus, my husband leaves for work at 6 in the morning, so my days start early and we eat dinner at four, which leaves me little time for dinner preparations many nights. To save my sanity I try to have at least one meal plan a week which takes less than a half an hour to prep and my slow-cooker definitely fits the bill. The January/February 2012 issue of Everyday Food Magazine had a recipe for Slow-Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew, which looked easy and promised only 20 minutes of prep.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of prep and 6 hours in the slow-cooker and makes 6 servings. There is only one butcher in my immediate area and getting the grocery store butcher to cut meat can be hit or miss, therefore I had to trim my own beef chuck. Additionally, I made my own chicken broth, since I prefer the taste to store bought. I did find that the stew still had a little too much liquid when it was done, it actually tasted better the next day after I skimmed off the fat from the top. My family normally doesn't care for brown rice, but I decided to try it with this recipe and it worked very well and none of us noticed the difference. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

On a busy weeknight it's great to have dinner already done in the slow cooker. This recipe was very easy to prep and made enough for multiple meals. There is something very comforting about beef stew and this recipe was no exception. My two boys particularly liked this recipe and ate all the beef out of their servings. Overall, an easy slow-cooker recipe, perfect for the colder winter months.

For the recipe go to Slow-Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew.

January 15, 2012

Parents Magazine Pork and Potatoes

If you've read my blog for any given amount of time you know that my family loves pork. My husband and two boys could only eat bacon for a week straight and be perfectly content. Growing up my mother rarely prepared pork, we were more of a beef and chicken type of family. My father never cared much for pork since my mother really only prepared pork chops, so it wasn't until I moved out on my own that I started trying new ways to prepare pork. After getting married to my bacon loving husband I learned quickly that there was much more to pork than the pork chops I had grown accustomed to growing up. One of my favorite cuts of pork is tenderloin, it's delicious. It's a very versatile cut and can be used in numerous ways. Recently the January issue of Parents Magazine had a recipe for Pork and Potatoes, which cost less than ten dollars for four servings and looked very child friendly.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes approximately 50 minutes to prep and cook and makes 4 servings. All the ingredients are very basic and I either had in my pantry or I was able to easily find at my local grocery store. To secure the pork tenderloin I used kitchen twine, since I find it much easier to work with than toothpicks. I did make a few changes to the mashed potatoes. Instead of using chicken stock I used butter and buttermilk. I prefer the taste of the buttermilk and will sacrifice the calories for the better flavor. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys loved this pork. I liked how easy the dish was to prepare and that it had few ingredients. My husband felt that it needed more flavor. The applesauce and raisins didn't produce a very strong taste to the pork. I think that the adding HP Fruity Sauce or a chutney would add to the overall flavor of the pork. Overall, a very kid friendly recipe that is very easy on the family budget and perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

For the recipe go to Pork and Potatoes (registration required).

January 14, 2012

Taste of Home Cheddar Gougeres

So after a long hiatus I am back to blogging. Thanks everyone for sticking with me while I recovered from being sick. I have always eaten healthy, but after being diagnosed with low potassium I have gotten much better about eating fruit and making sure that I have breakfast. I can definitely feel a difference and I have more energy than I have had in a very long time. So it's back to business as usual and a new recipe. As I've stated many times before my family loves cheese. My three year old can eat more cheese than anyone I've ever met and is often seen sneaking cheese from the refrigerator. Since my family eats such a large amount of cheese I am always looking for a new spin on ways to prepare cheese dishes and I was intrigued when the December/January issue of Taste of Home Magazine had a recipe for Cheddar Gougeres.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes approximately 30 minutes of prep and 15 minutes of baking time and makes 3 dozen gougeres. All the ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding any of them at my local grocery store. This recipe was very easy to prepare. The one problem I encountered is that my gougeres did not rise as much as the photos on the webpage recipe. I would assume this is due to the dough still being slightly warm when I added the eggs, cheese, chives and garlic. Instead of letting the flour mixture sit for 5 minutes, I would suggest letting it cool completely before adding the remaining ingredients. I also found that my gougeres took longer than the 14-16 minutes suggested by the recipe. Finally, I made sure to rotate my pans halfway through the baking time to prevent burning/over browning. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Three dozen is a lot of gougeres! This recipe makes more than enough to feed a crowd and would be great for a party or dinner get together. Even though my gougeres didn't rise as much as I hoped, they still turned out delicious and my two boys were big fans of this recipe. I think in the future I would modify the resting time to ensure proper puffing. Overall, a great new way to use cheese.

For the recipe go to Cheddar Gougeres.

January 7, 2012

It's going to a be a little while longer before I post again

As some of you may have noticed I haven't posted in a while. Well, I've been sick since before Christmas and got very, very sick on Wednesday, ran a 103 degree temp and had an asthma attack. Today I spend the day at the ER getting chest xrays and blood work done. It turns out I have a very bad case of pneumonia and very low potassium. It's no wonder I have felt so bad! Apparently the asthma I haven't had since grade school is also back with a roar, so it is going to be a while before I post again. I hope I won't lose too many followers, I love interacting with everyone :) Hope to see everyone again soon!

January 2, 2012

Parents Magazine Chili Con Carne

As I've stated numerous times before my family loves meat. If given the choice my husband would eat only bacon and pork with every meal. Since this wouldn't be the healthiest option I try to incorporate as many beans and other non-meat proteins as I can. I still serve meat I just make it an ingredient as opposed to the center of a meal. Recently, the November issue of Parents Magazine had a recipe for Chili Con Carne with 25 grams of protein and only 9 grams of fat, which looked like perfect combination of beans and meat for my family.

This recipe has 14 ingredients. It takes approximately 20 minutes and makes 4 to 6 servings. All the ingredients I either already had in my pantry or were easy to find at my local grocery store. I ground my own beef since I believe it tastes better and I can control the amount of fat. Make sure to adequately rinse the canned beans or the taste will effect the taste of the chili. I chose to leave off the optional corn chips or brown rice and chopped cilantro. I followed the remainder of the recipe as stated.

With 25 grams of protein this is a very filling dish. Both of my boys ate their whole servings and it made more than enough for a meal for my family of four plus leftovers. I liked that the chili had both beans and meat for protein and was full of flavor. Overall, a very family friendly recipe.

For the recipe go to Chili Con Carne.

January 1, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts

I am very lucky that I inherited my father's metabolism and love of all things active. If I am sitting still on my computer, I am also tapping my foot or moving my ankle, I can't just sit still. After having kids I realized that my eating habits might not transcend to my kids and I needed to try to provide high energy snacks that would help my kids grow up, not out. Sugar is the one area that my kids and I have the largest arguments over. I stopped serving juice approximately 6 months ago and switched over to water at meals. I was worried that my kids would rebel, but I was pleased that they quickly started asking for water and drink it happily now. Sugary snacks have been another story, they love them. I also have a tendency towards all things sweet, so I have been experimenting with using honey, applesauce, prunes, etc in my cooking to keep the taste, but lower the sugar. I ran across a recipe for Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts using Truvia that cuts the sugar down to 1 gram per serving and the calories down to 160 and decided that it looked like the perfect recipe to try for my family.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to prepare and cook and makes 18 servings. All the ingredients are very basic and I already had all of them in my cupboard. The recipe uses Truvia, but other brands of Stevia or store brands would work just as well. Make sure to toss the nuts every 10-15 minutes or they will stick together and not be evenly roasted. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

With a reduction of sugar from 10 grams per serving to 1 gram and calories from 200 to 160 this recipe would be great for people watching their sugar intake. I thought that the taste was just as sweet as traditional sugar and the nuts were crunchy and nicely roasted. Of course I still will always prefer real sugared nuts and sweets, but this recipe creates a nice alternative to added sugar, especially during the over indulgent holiday season.

For the recipe go to Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts.
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