Category Archives: food

Sweet Potato Bisque

Mister saw a recipe…
Isn’t that where it all begins? He wasn’t sure where. He wasn’t sure what magazine. It was for bisque. Sweet potato bisque. Roasted sweet potatoes at that. “How hard could it be?” He asked.
As it turns out, not hard at all. I roast sweet potatoes all the time. It wasn’t much harder.
I did use an immersion blender for mine. You could use a food processor or blender and do small batches until it was the consistency you wanted. If you didn’t want it smooth, YIU could just simmer the bediddly out of it until the potatoes break down. Your choice and any way you choose will be good.

Just a disclaimer – I am a sweet potato purist. I don’t want ANYTHING on them. No salt. No butter. No cinnamon. No marshmallows. Not even fried. Either roasted with a bit of olive oil or baked and mashed plain. I know – it’s sacrilegious but it is the only way I eat them.
I actually didn’t think I liked sweet potatoes until my mid twenties. I was helping my mom make a casserole for thanksgiving and something possessed me to lick the spoon after mashing the sweet potatoes. They were so good! We added butter and I tried them again. They were a no go. From there on out I eat them plain. Hey… It is a lot less calories…

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 Tbs olive oil
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp
2-3 cups water

Preheat oven to 350. Soak potatoes in water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Add to plastic zip-top bag. Add oil to potatoes, zip bag, and mix well until potatoes are coated.
Place in an even layer on cookie sheets. Bake at 350 turning as necessary until both sides are well browned, removing as necessary.
While potatoes are roasting, begin warming 2 cups broth in a large stock pot. As potatoes are browned, drop in the simmering stock. Add stock as necessary. Once all potatoes are in the pot, begin to use a spoon to lightly mash potatoes. Add salt and more broth if needed. It should be fairly soupy and will thicken as potatoes break down.
Simmer 20 minutes.
Add cream and stir. Use immersion blender or other method to purée soup. Add water to desired consistency.

Serving suggestion: top with bacon, scallions, cheese, or homemade croutons

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Individual Oreo cheesecakes

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It is no secret I usually cook a lot on Sunday. I knew I didn’t have a ton of time today as Little Bug had a birthday party to go to today.
I wanted to bake something. More specifically I wanted to bake bread but I knew I didn’t have that kind of time. I also knew I has about half a package of whole Oreos plus some extra crumbs. I had also taken some cream cheese out of the freezer for mister on Friday that he didn’t use. What do you get when you put it together?

These. Yes they are as good as they look.
The nice thing is that they are only 150 calories each but I could eat them all. I did manage to wait until I wouldn’t burn myself before I ate one but they really were best once they were really cold.
Unusual for me but I didn’t make many changes – only one actually. I swapped plain yogurt for vanilla Greek. It was what I had on hand and it worked beautifully.
I will be making these again (and again). I love that they are an individual portion – great for both my own portion control and for group gatherings. No more messy knives laying around! If you wanted to fancy them up a bit for a party, top them with a bit of whipped cream (I believe in the real stuff sweetened slightly but have been known to use a can of whipped heavy cream in a pinch) and sprinkle with a few more cookie crumbs. They would be great with a streak of strawberry sauce, too.
Enjoy!

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Crock Pot Swiss Steak

It’s no secret I love too cook.  It only makes sense that I love to eat.  What do I love more than that?  Making something amazingly easy that tastes like you spent hours slaving over a hot stove.

How do I manage it?  My crock pot.  I couldn’t live without it – without them – any of them.  People laugh when I say I own so many I quit counting.  *cough* nine *cough*  Seriously.  Before you ask, yes, I use them all.  No, not usually at the same time.  I often have two going at the same time, though.  They keep mashed potatoes hot on a holiday.  There’s no better way to serve sloppy joes.  Soup?  Who needs a stock pot?  I almost always make soup in my crock pot.  They are one of the workhorses in my kitchen.

A year ago we bought 1/4 of a cow.  It’s a lot of meat.  A LOT.  But since we had a big freezer that was nearly empty, it was a really good deal and a teacher that works with me raised the cow.  Did I mention it was a lot of meat?  Have you ever seen 40 lbs of hamburger in one place other than the store?  And that was just my share…

Needless to say we’ve been eating well.  We’re down to about 5 lbs of ground beef but I had a lot of round steak to use.  Where’d I turn for recipes?  Pinterest of course!  Most of them pointed to a mix of cream soup, french onion soup mix, and water.  As always, I used what I had and what sounded good.  I was a bit apprehensive because I’d tried this recipe a year ago and it was horrible but I tried cooking the steak from frozen.  We ate it for one meal and I threw the left overs out.  Yeah, it was that bad.  Make sure your beef is thawed if it’s frozen.  It makes a BIG difference.

This time, it was delicious.  It reminded me of the swiss steak my mom used to make when I was a kid – the only difference being she used cube steak, fried it, toiled over the stove to make gravy, then baked it forever.  I didn’t say it was AS good, but for the work involved, I will eat this a whole lot more than I’ll spend the time to make that.

I added fresh mushrooms because they were on sale today and looked great.  You could also use 2 cans of mushrooms that you drain well or leave them out completely if you don’t like them.  You could also add extra onions.  I didn’t want to kill the dish with onions – I know odd for me – but between the fresh onion and the cream of onion soup, it was just perfect (for me).

Enjoy!

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3 lbs round or cube steak

1 can cream of onion soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 package french onion soup mix

1 onion, sliced

1/4 cup water or beef broth

1 8oz package white mushrooms, sliced

splash of wine (optional – I used dry vermouth)

salt and pepper

In a hot pan, brown steaks, approximately 2 minutes each side.  Set aside.  This step is optional but I highly encourage it.  Anne Burrel says, “Brown food tastes good!” and she’s right!

While steaks are browning, mix soups and soup mix in the bottom of a crock pot.  Once mixed, add onions and browned steaks to crock pot.

Deglaze the hot pan  with water or beef broth and scrape the bottom to get all the bits.  Pour over steaks in crock pot.

Cook on low 3 hours.

Add mushrooms and wine.  Stir.  Cook on low another 3-4 hours or until beef is tender.

Serve over potatoes or rice.

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Crock Pot Beer in the Rear Chicken

Mister bought a huge club-sized package of chicken then asked me to cook it.

Crap.  I don’t like chicken thighs.  I don’t have chicken thigh recipes.  What the heck am I going to do?

Pinterest! That’s what I’m going to do!  Pinterest!  My lifesaver!

I made this recipe with part of the package. I still had half a package.  What to do?  I LOVE beer in the rear chicken.  Here’s my adaptation for the crock pot.  It isn’t quite as flavorful because it’s missing the definite charcoal smoke flavor BUT it’s still pretty good.  Mister will probably eat this right out of the fridge cold.  I can also see myself making this into chicken salad, too.

2 lbs chicken thighs

1/2 tsp seasoned salt

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

sprinkle of pepper

1 can beer

Place chicken evenly on the bottom of a 3 or 4 qt. crock pot.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Pour beer into pot (I used half a can – just enough to come about half way up the sides of the chicken.=).  Cook on high 2-3 or low 4-5 hours or until chicken is done.  Remove from crock pot.  Serve.

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Honey Bourbon Garlic Sesame Chicken

I like Chineese food.  Mister loves chinese food.  Little Bug loves omlette soup (egg drop).  We eat it plenty.

There’s an awesome restaurant right across the street from where my parents live.  They opened the same year that my parents moved into their condo.  We eat there often and know all of the people that work there.  A few weeks ago, they had a fire in the grease trap.  It was a total loss but everyone got out safely.  While they plan on rebuilding, it takes time and we’re desperate for Chinese.20140208-165441.jpg

Mister’d bought a package of chicken thighs and didn’t cook them.  I scoured pinterest and couldn’t find what I was looking for.  This is the closest I could come.  As always, I had to switch it up a bit so here’s what I did:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (breasts could be substituted)

1 tsp. dried minced garlic

1/2 tsp toasted onion powder

1/4 tsp dried minced onoin

7 oz honey

1/4 cup tamari

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup bourbon

2 Tbs sesame seeds

1 Tbs corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

drizzle of sesame oil (optional)

green onions (optional)

  1. Put chicken in 3 qt crock pot.  Sprinkle wiht onions, onion powder, and garlic.
  2. Mix honey, tamarai, ketchup, vinegar, and bourbon in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours, or until chicken is cooked.
  4. Remove chicken from crock pot and chop.
  5. Remove sauce to a 2-qt stock pot.
  6. While chopping chicken, turn sauce on medium and simmer 10 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken slightly.
  7. Mix corn starch and water in a small bowl until dissolved.  Whisk into sauce.  Return to a boil and simmer 3 minutes.
  8. Return chicken to pot.  Add sesame oil if desired and stir.
  9. Serve over white rice or noodles.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion if desired.
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Funeral Green Beans

A few years ago, my brother-in-law lost his father.  His family is Armenian.  The funeral was at one of the most amazingly beautiful churches I’ve ever seen – including St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.  What does this have to do with green beans?  Lots.

They also had the funeral dinner right after the service in the aforementioned church.  The food was delicious!  They served green beans that my mom and I couldn’t quit eating.  I was desperate to recreate that recipe.  While this isn’t exactly what they served us that day (and I haven’t been able to figure out what’s different), it’s close and equally delicious. Did I mention they’re easy?

This is a recipe that can quickly be scaled up for large groups (or holidays).  I am going to include my “one meal” recipe that I make for my family.  We’re having 11 people total for Easter dinner tomorrow so I tripled the recipe.  The only thing harder is that you need a bigger pan.

Ingredients:

1 small cooking onion (I use yellow because that’s what I buy.  Make sure it’s a cooking onion and not a sweet onion)

1 or 2 cloves of garlic (more depending on your taste and the strength of the garlic)

2 cans green beans (any style), drained

1 can tomatoes (I prefer petite decided because it’s easier to eat)

Directions:

Peel the onion.  Cut in half and slice it thinly from the north to the south pole.  Think onion petals, not half-rings.  Separate the layers slightly and put in the bottom of a 3-quart sauce pan.  Next clean the garlic and slice thinly.  Throw in the pan on top of the garlic.  This is seriously the hardest part of the whole thing.

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Next, the green beans go in the pan then the tomatoes with the liquid on top.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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Bring to a boil and simmer slowly for approximately 20 minutes.  Don’t stir for at least the first 15.  You want the onions and garlic to cook and get soft.  When you stir, do it gently so the beans don’t break up.

Serve.

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I like these the first day but they’re great warmed over.  For tomorrow’s dinner, I simmered the mixture nearly an hour.  I’ll throw them in the crock pot (liquid and all) tomorrow morning on low and they’ll be ready just in time for dinner.

I frequently make a large batch and eat them for a few meals.  Brown some hamburger, mix it in, and you have a flavorful low-calorie meal.  You can also serve over rice.  I think the tomato juice mixed with the rice is delightful.

Enjoy!

Quick Coconut Cream Pie

Mister loves pie.  Mister.  LOVES.  Pie.  There were a few years where we had birthday pie.  He isn’t picky.  Marie Calendar’s?  Yes.  My mom’s? Yes.  His mom’s?  Mine?

Well, I’ve only ever made two pies in my life, both in the last year.  Why?  I don’t know.  I guess I just lean toward pies and cookies.  I’ve made a few crumbles and crisps but I just haven’t ventured out to pie.  It may be that I really don’t like pie crust.  I eat it.  I just don’t love it.  As a kid my mom would take the extra pieces of crust, cut them into shapes (or strips), sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar, and bake them  Those I LOVE.  It’s different.  Don’t ask me why but it is.

I don’t know what struck me yesterday but I wanted to make coconut cream pie.  No surprise I didn’t want a traditional crust.  But what to put under coconut cream?  Graham cracker would be ok.  Chocolate not so much.  I wanted sweet but not too sweet.  I wanted crunchy.  Vanilla wafers.  Yes!

I found this recipe on pinterest.  I used powdered sugar instead of brown sugar because it’s what I had.  I left out the cinnamon.  I don’t know if I’ve told you but Little Bug is very allergic to cinnamon.  Weird, I know, but true none the less.  While her last exposure was to a tiny amount and she ended up with hives all over her body, it hasn’t turned to anaphylaxis – yet.  Just to be safe we have epi-pens for her.  It can be a pain sometimes.  My mom managed to cook up a pretty great pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving that left out the cinnamon.  Kudos to her.  I think we ate 3 or 4 “tries” before she figured it out. For this pie crust, it just wasn’t worth it.  No cinnamon was fine.

I used a big box of vanilla pudding, cutting the milk down from 3 cups to 2 cups.  I mixed in a cup of shredded coconut.  This went neatly into the pre-baked and cooled crust.

The topping was the easiest part.  I took a container of whipped topping from the freezer, thawed it, and threw it in a piping bag.  Pretty.  Easy.  Delicious.

I had planned on taking a picture of the completed pie with one piece gone so you could see it in all its glory.  The best laid plans…  as I was taking my piece out of the plate, it did a back flip right onto the pie.  Use your imagination on this one!

Enjoy!

Pub Mix

Pinterest.  It gets me in trouble.  Big.  Big.  Trouble.  It never fails…

A few months ago I was looking around the site and found this recipe for seasoned crackers.  I didn’t want spicy.  I didn’t have saltines.  I didn’t want to use a full cup of oil.  I searched for more recipes and after reading 5 or 50 then raiding my cuboard, here’s what I came up with.

I like this recipe because it’s so forgiving.  You can use any mix of crackers and pretzels you like.  You really can’t screw this recipe up.  Don’t have cheez-its?  Substitue them for something else.  Goldfish weren’t BOGO last week – and IMHO, they are on the expensive side if they’re not on sale – pick something else.  I like mine to be bite-size for ease of eating but you can use anything that fits your needs.  Have fun with this!

Warning – these can be ADDICTING!!!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup oil (I use olive oil)

1 package dry ranch dressing

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

1/2 tsp. onion powder

2 shakes dill (you can add more if you like)

1 shake ground red pepper (optional, adjust to your taste – I like just a little to enhance the flavor)

1 bag pepperidge farm parmesan goldfish crackers

1 box reduced fat cheez-its (the medium box, not tiny or family size)

1 bag pretzels (I prefer waffle pretzels but I used rings in this picture – you can use whatever you have)

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 250°.

Mix oil and spices in the bottom of a large bowl.  Let sit approximately 10 minutes.  Gently dump the crackers and pretzels in (yes, the pretzel salt, too).

Stir gently (I use a spoonula) until all crackers are evenly coated.  This usually takes a few minutes.  It won’t look like enough oil at first but it is.  Be sure to scrape the bottom as you stir.

Pour crackers in an even layer onto two large cookie sheets or jelly roll pans.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5, and rotating pans top to bottom every stir.  If you don’t the bottom pan will burn.  You can tell when the crackers are done because they lose their oily sheen and the seasonings look powdery again.  I go by sight, not time, on these.  Sometimes it takes as much as 40 minutes.  I don’t mind my crackers a bit browned.  I like the way they taste.  If you don’t want yours to brown, take them out at 20 – 25 minutes.

The best part is for my recipe 1 ounce by weight is approximately 120 calories.  It is all dependent on the crackers you choose.  I love that I can grab a snack bag of these and not feel guilty.

Enjoy!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

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I’ve been looking at pinterest.  I know.  It gets me in more trouble than a little bit.  I’d seen a number of “cake mix cookie” recipes.  I was intrigued.

Could they be that easy?

Could they be that good?

I had to try.  This afternoon I was shopping with Little Bug and Ahma (my mom).  I grabbed two cake mixes for “eventually” when I wanted to bake.  Tonight is “eventually”.  I know – I didn’t waste any time did I?

Mister is working late tonight and I got Little Bug to bed early.  What to do?  I’m feeling crafty (never good), bake-ish, and feisty   Have a glass of wine and bake!  When is that not a good idea?

I went back to pinterest and found this this recipe and ran.

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Cookie Ingredients:

1 box Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mix

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 tsp dried orange peel + 1 Tbs hot water (optional – I like this one)

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:IMG_0605

Preheat oven to 350 or 325 if using dark cookie sheets.

Mix egg and oil until well combined.  It will get lighter in color and be frothy.

If using it, add rehydrated orange peel.  Dump in cake mix.  Mix well.  It will be quite thick.

IMG_0606Drop dough by teaspoons onto a greased or non-stick cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart.  I used a small cookie scoop (the one with 60 on the little sweeper).

Bake for 6 minutes and rotate the pan (front to back, top rack to bottom rack if using 2 sheets).  Bake another 6 minutes.  Cookies should be lightly set and golden brown on the bottom.

Remove from oven and immediately and gently move to a cooling rack.

Glaze  #1-IMG_0607

2.5 oz powdered sugar (approximately 2/3 cup)

1 Tbsp. Half-and-half, heavy cream, or milk

While cookies are baking, mix together powdered sugar and liquid in a small bowl.  It may be a bit lumpy and should be fairly thick.  Let sit until cookies are out of the oven.  Once you remove cookies to the cooling rack, place rack in a cool cookie sheet (to catch the drips).  Drip glaze on cookies with glaze #1 while cookies are still hot.  The glaze will thin a bit and turn opaque.  Immediately mix glaze #2 and let cookies cool approximately 5 minutes.IMG_0608

Glaze #2 –

2.5 oz powdered sugar (approximately 2/3 cup)

1 tsp. Half-and-half, heavy cream, or milk

Once cookies have cooled slightly, apply glaze #2.  Stir it well until there are no lumps.  It should be quite thick.  This glaze will sit up better and stay whiter than the last glaze.  Let cool completely.

These cookies remind me of what I remember push-ups tasting like when I was a kid.  They’re orange-y and the half-and-half in the glaze kicks in the creamy taste.  I ended up leaving out the white chocolate chips because Mister doesn’t like them and I made these for him to take to work tomorrow.  The vanilla flavor would give the cookies an extra creamy taste and a nice texture, too.

By my calculations, they’re around 80 calories each – I ended up with 43 cookies in my batch.  You can’t beat that!

Enjoy!

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BLT Pasta

Mister’s grandma has been in the hospital this week which means his parents have spent their time there, too.  They live fairly close to us so we try to take them dinner now and then (especially when we know they’re tied up and busy with other things like taking care of Nana).  Mister decided that they needed a hearty pasta dish this week and this was his idea.  It’s a pretty quick and easy dish that’s hearty and tasty.  It makes your house smell delightful, too!

The original recipe came from an insert in Food Network Magazine on 50 things to cook with bacon.  I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit to match our tastes.  Don’t be afraid to adjust it to your liking.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb bacon chopped

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, washed

1 red onion, chopped

1-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt

1 cup half-and-half (possibly more)

1/4 parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling – the real stuff, not the crap in the green can (which has its place but not in this dish)

1 lb pasta (I prefer mini penne or a heartier pasta like cavatappi – small and fragile pasta tends to turn to mush)

1 package baby spinach

  • Cook bacon in a large frying pan (I use my chicken fryer) stirring frequently until all the bacon is well browned.
  • Remove bacon from pan and drain.  Reserve 2 or 3 Tbs of bacon grease in pan.
  • Sautee onions and garlic in the same pan over medium heat until translucent.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add washed tomatoes and stir.  Cook approximately 10-12 minutes until tomatoes soften and skins begin to split.

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  • While cooking tomatoes, cook and drain pasta.
  • When tomatoes are done, add the drained bacon and  half-and-half to the tomatoes and onions.  Stir.
  • Simmer 3 minutes.
  • Add pasta to the sauce and stir.  Add parmesan and stir.
  • If pasta is dry, add half-and-half a little at a time until it’s perfect.  The pasta shouldn’t be dry but there shouldn’t be a puddle of half-and-half, either.

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  • Put a handful of spinach in each bowl.  Top with hot pasta and sauce.  Stir to wilt spinach, top with another sprinkle of parmesan and serve immediately.

**If you add spinach to the entire recipe, it will get overheated and slimy.  I prefer to add it as we eat it.

Mister loves to eat this pasta cold out of the fridge.  I prefer it hot but I won’t lie, as much as cold pasta makes me shudder, this one is pretty good.   It warms up well, too.  Double the batch and count on leftovers!

Enjoy!