Monday, November 26, 2012

Flourless Banana Cookies

Every year for Christmas, I bake cookies for my family. They each get their own little tin filled with several varieties. Some classics, some new and different. This year, one of my sisters asked me for a banana cookie.

The Best Cranberry Sauce Ever

The only way I could capture the ruby red color of
this sauce was to hold it up to the light.
(I didn't think my family would appreciate me taking pictures
of their plates while they were trying to eat.)

The only cranberry sauce I have ever eaten came from a can. For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to change all that. I bought my first bag of cranberries, selected some sweeteners to combat all that tartness, and got busy in the kitchen.

Smashed Baked Potatoes

When I was a kid, it was my job to peel potatoes. We ate a lot of potatoes. I HATE peeling potatoes. Even today, I am constantly coming up with new ways to make potatoes that don't involve a peeler. When I make mashed potatoes, I use red-skinned or yukon golds so I can just mash those skins right in. I really, really can't stand peeling potatoes. The beauty of this recipe is that you have to have the skins, otherwise you will never get the crispy outside that makes these potatoes so yummy. Perfection!

Roasted Garlic & Herb Potatoes

I love herb-roasted potatoes. I love french fries. If they got together, these would be their love child. Need I say more?

Crispy Italian Tilapia

If you've never had tilapia, you're really missing out. Next to salmon, it is my favorite fish to prepare. It is one of those awesome ingredients that you can do anything you want to it, and it tastes good. Tilapia has a nice mild flavor that pairs well with everything. Whether you serve it up with raspberry sauce, in a packet with lemon and veggies, or pan-fried, you're going to love it. This is one of my easy weeknight favorites. It's so simple, it's almost embarrassing to share!

Eggplant Lasagna

There are 4 people in my house, yet I cook as though there were 12. This is good and bad. Good because extra food means leftovers, which means there is a chance I may not have to cook some other night. Bad because I hate leftovers. Nothing annoys me more than eating the same exact thing twice in a row.

Eggplant Casserole

Eggplant is an acquired taste - you either love it or you hate it. I love it, Andrew hates it.

I grew up on fried eggplant. My mom would bread it and fry it, just like you do when you are making eggplant parm, but we stopped before the cheese and sauce stage and ate it as is.

That was my only experience with eggplant until recently. I started perusing recipes and looking for other ways to serve this pretty purple veggie. This casserole is one of my favorites, and if you have leftovers, you can turn them into Eggplant Lasagna!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Apple Spice Cake - 3 Ingredients!

If I could eat birthday cake every day, I would. I can't get enough of the stuff. But buying and/or making birthday cake when there is no birthday starts to seem a bit odd after a while.

Family and friends stop by and say things like, "Whose birthday is it?"

Then I say, "Nobody's..."

This is usually followed by awkward silence at the realization by all parties that I am eating a sugar-packed calorie-laden once-a-year treat on a Tuesday afternoon for no apparent reason whatsoever.

3 Ways with Angel Food Cake

I love cake.

I love a bargain.

I love recipes that require 4 or fewer ingredients.

This post combines them all, making me one very happy mama.

S.O.S. Mix - Thanks Jillee!

I have this love-hate thing going on with canned condensed cream soups. On one hand, they are quick and easy and the cream of mushroom can be pretty tasty, if you're into that sort of thing. And I am. But the ingredient list can be a bit scary, and how comfortable am I really with a milk product that has been in a can for a year or three? Needless to say, I was super excited to find One Good Thing by Jillee, and her awesome mix that she got from her friend Debbie. I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand and made up a batch immediately.

Food is Mean

Funny thing about food. You peruse cookbooks and watch food shows and have all these wonderful meals you want to make but you seem to be missing one ingredient. Then you finally go to the store and buy said ingredient, bring it home, set it on the counter, and then... Nothing. It sits there for days, mocking you, because you can't think of one single thing to make with it.

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice

In honor of Crock Pot Thursday, I really wanted to make Ranch Pork Chops, but my slow cooker is a 6-quart beast and I don't think it would handle 3 tiny pork chops well. I really need to get a small one for those days when I'm not trying to make enough food to feed an army AND hoard leftovers in the freezer for another day, since that's about all this one is good for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

White Bean Patties with Garlic-Lime Sauce

Let me start by saying this... If you had told me a year ago that I would be throwing around words like "Garlic-Lime Sauce", I would have laughed you right out of my under-utilized kitchen. Fast forward to today. Not only do I talk about sauces like this - I actually make them! And then I serve them with things like these white bean patties (fritters?) that I made this morning.

Jasmine Rice Breakfast Pudding

Rice pudding is one of my favorite desserts. Don't get me wrong, I love over-the-top, ganache covered, super decadent after-dinner treats as much as the next girl. But there's something about slightly sweet, cold and creamy, simple rice pudding that just works for me.

Then a friend introduced me to "rice hot cereal" - something she had always served her kids for breakfast. For those of you who aren't familiar with this concept, it's a warm breakfast similar to very creamy oatmeal. It's basically cooked rice in milk with a little sugar and maybe a little cinnamon. Sounds suspiciously like rice pudding, no?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Kisses

These have always been one of my favorite cookies, but I have never made them before. So when I finally ran across the recipe in the Walgreen's circular the other day, I was shocked at how easy they are. Four ingredients and you're in chocolate peanut butter heaven.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pasta Fagioli

There are foods that I want to like, but I just don't. Maybe that makes me weird, but things like avocados and sweet potatoes are on this list. After years of persistence, my taste buds have finally given in and I love them both now! Pasta fagioli has always been one of them as well, until I decided to make it on my own. This is a very simple and easy soup with lots of yummy broth - perfect for crusty bread-dipping.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hasselback Potatoes

As part of our new budget, I am trying to find ways to stretch our food dollar. We recently bought a 10-lb. bag of potatoes but let's face it, potatoes can be boring. You can only eat them mashed and roasted so many times. To keep things interesting, I have been trying to find fun ways to eat them. Years ago, I saw a picture of potatoes like this and decided to try it out.

French Toast Casserole

French toast without spending an hour at the griddle? You had me at "french toast"! I love this because you throw it together before bed, then let it hang out in the fridge overnight to soak up all the yummy goodness. Roll out of bed in the morning, pop it in the oven, and you've got a happy family. It's like a wonderful bread pudding / french toast hybrid thing... just wow.

Cheesy Breakfast Burritos

The school bus comes earlier and earlier every year, so having a variety of quick breakfasts is a must at our house. I used to eat breakfast burritos like this from fast food restaurants until I had my a-ha moment and realized that I could make these at home for much cheaper, and know exactly when they were made and what was in them. I make a bunch at a time, wrap them in plastic wrap and foil, and freeze them. Throw a couple in the fridge at night and they will be ready for a quick zap in the microwave in the morning. Just don't forget to take the foil off!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken - 3 Ingredients!

I have a slow cooker. I have a few of them, actually. But I really only use it for two things - chili and pot roast. I know I should use it more because it is so nice to have a home-cooked meal at the end of the day when all I had to do was spend five minutes throwing it together in the morning. So, to bring it out of hibernation, I added "Slow Cooker Thursdays" to the food schedule.

Meal Plans to the Rescue

Around here, we eat dinner at 6pm. Nothing strikes fear into my heart more than 5 o'clock rolling around and not knowing what we're eating. To combat this tragic situation, I plan our meals in advance. Way in advance. Like I could tell you what we're having three Thursdays from now. To make that easier, we have a loose guideline we like to follow, and some of the  meals we've had on those days:

Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf

See that melty cheese dripping out?
That's perfection on a plate right there.

I followed a pretty standard meatloaf method, but added some cheese inside and barbecue sauce on top. Oh my goodness, it was super yummy - there was only one slice left after we went back for seconds. (Okay, I went back for thirds, but that's nobody's business but my own.)

Coconut Crusted Tofu

We had a massive hurricane come through our area last week (Hurricane Sandy). To prepare, we took the standard measures such as stocking up on water and non-perishables and cleaning up our flood-prone basement. We have a tendency to lose power fairly easily and have lost lots of fridge food on more than one occasion, so once our home was weather-ready, we started eating all of the perishable food.

There were some leftovers, milk, cheese, and the like. We emptied the fridge until one thing remained - a package of extra firm tofu. We have never had tofu before, but it is on my foodie bucket list and it was on sale, so I had grabbed it. Apparently it has a long shelf-life and bore an expiration date well beyond a month, so I figured we'd have lots of time to warm up to the idea. Thanks to Sandy, that plan was about to change.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

First Day on a Budget

We went grocery shopping tonight - whoo hoo! After building a list for weeks, clipping coupons for days, and spending hours choosing which things we absolutely needed and which ones we could live without, we finally bought some food. It took longer than usual because I'm not used to standing in the aisle debating different brands and making last minute changes to fit a spending limit. Don't get me wrong, we never blew money at the store as though we were rich, but I definitely have some brand loyalty issues I need to work out if I'm going to make this budget thing work.
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