Monday, September 6, 2010

Spinach Salad, Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, Low Fat Apple Bread Pudding

With all the extras from the garden, it's easy to incorporate fresh veggies into your daily diet. Sometimes, you have to figure out ways to get creative with the abundance that comes with a well growing garden.

This is a healthier way to enjoy a family favorite while cutting out the red meat that usually goes into this dish.

Enjoy it!

Healthy Spinach Salad

Salad ingredients:

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 chopped scallions (include ~4 inches of the green part)
  • medium coarse black pepper
  • ~3-oz mild goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • black pepper
Whisk olive oil into the cider vinegar. Add pepper, and perhaps a tad of kosher salt, to taste.

Put all salad ingredients except cheese into a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Add goat cheese.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
serves 6


1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
1 can 14 oz tomato puree, low sodium
1 4 oz can tomato sauce, low sodium
1 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 tspn crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups sliced zucchini
1 1/2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
2 cups shredded, mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

In large pan, cook onion (for sauce) in oil until tender; add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Stir in puree, sauce and seasonings. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes until thickened.

In large mixing bowl, combine vegetables and pepper. Put in a baking pan and cook at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Spread 1/4 cup of sauce in a baking dish. Layer with noodles, top with half the sauce, and half the roasted vegetables, and half the cheese. Repeat another layer.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.

Apple Bread Pudding
9 servings

  • 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 2 C. 1% milk
  • 1 C. egg substitute
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 8 slices 100% whole-wheat bread, toasted and cut in triangles
  • 2 large apples, cored and diced
  • 1 1/2 Pint lowfat vanilla frozen yogurt (optional)

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9" square baking dish with nonstick spray. Mix sugar & cinnamon. In a bowl, whisk milk, egg substitute, brown sugar & vanilla extract. Arrange half the toast in baking dish; sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar and apples. Repeat layers. Pour milk mixture over top. Bake uncovered 40-50 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cut in squares; serve with scoops of frozen yogurt.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vegetable Night! Garbanzo Bean Tomato Salad, Pattypan Saute, Roasted Corn with Chive Butter

It's summer and garden vegetables are all around us!

We haven't really had a vegetable night in quite awhile and I would like to get back into the habit of having a veggie night at least once a week, and possibly work ourselves up to twice a week. This is really, really easy to make. And with summer here, corn is in abundance! It's a classic summer staple. High in fiber, and in B vitamins, as well as folic acid and a number of other things our bodies need, it is used to help with kidney function and protect the heart. It also supports lung health, memory and energy. Vegetables are good for you!!

D is such a willing participant in my experimental cooking. I have to admit that many of the recipes I have found have turned out to be quite good. If we didn't think so, the recipes would not be on here!!

However, it is important to reiterate that we have cut out a lot of sodium in our diet and we do not use table salt at all. This renders our tastes to be a tad different than some who have not done so; we have become acclimated to the natural taste of the foods we eat without salting them. It has amazed me to realize how much of our food we never really tasted before cutting salt out. It was all salt! It's hard to tell when you still use it.

An example is my 17 yr old son. A few weeks ago, I made the tomato soup recipe from this blog because I love it. It was the first time my 17 yr old had tried it. He says, "This is bland, Mom." and he proceeds to add a bit of salt to his, taste it then say, "Much better."

Well, funny thing is, he didn't finish his bowl so I started to eat what was left in his bowl. BLEGH!!! All I tasted was the overwhelming salt flavoring!! And he really did not add that much. However, it made me realize just how much salt really does mask what the food we eat really tastes like.

Please don't dismiss a recipe if you try it as is and it seems bland to you. If sodium levels are not an issue with you, feel free to add salt to taste to your dishes. When I use canned goods, I use "no salt added", but you do not need to do this if you are not watching your sodium intake.

As for our meal.....I don't really eat a lot of garbanzo beans, or beans in general. Did you know that garbanzo beans are a high source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers? The soluble fibers form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, whose main function is to capture the cholesterol containing bile and remove it from the body. The insoluble fiber, on the other hand, prevents constipation, by increasing the stool bulk (yes I know, not exactly appealing, but your body needs to do it!!!). They also help prevent certain digestive disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis. Most people do not have enough fiber in their diet, and beans are a great source of this! They help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels. This is a good-news food for diabetics!

It is estimated that a single cup of garbanzo beans supplies around 84.5% of the body’s daily manganese requirement. Manganese is involved in the production of energy and antioxidant defenses! This means that garbanzo beans aid your immune system as well. Good things, these beans.

And we've all heard the benefits of tomatoes! Personally, I do not like the taste of tomatoes but I can (and do) eat them in certain dishes. (I love fried green ones!) An interesting trivia fact about tomatoes is that they were not eaten in the US until the 1800's because they were believed to be toxic and cause certain cancers and illnesses such as appendicitis.

Of course, we now know that tomatoes actually have the exact opposite effect on our bodies. One tomato can provide 45% of the RDA for Vitamin C (which is required for growth and repair of tissues as well as immunity support), 15% of Vitamin A (promotes eyesight, offers immunity support), 8% of potassium RDA (aids in heart health and function and muscle repair), and is also high in iron (required for red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body and supplying us with energy).

New research is beginning to indicate that tomatoes may be used to help prevent lung cancer too. Two powerful compounds found in tomatoes-coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid-are thought to block the effects of nitrosamines. These are compounds that not only are formed naturally in the body, but also are the strongest carcinogen in tobacco smoke. By blocking the effects of these nitrosamines, the chances of lung cancer are reduced significantly.

For more information on the benefits of tomatoes, go here 10 Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Now, on to the recipes. Bet you thought I'd never get to it, eh? ;)

Garbanzo Tomato Salad
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add beans; toss to coat. Place tomatoes in a serving bowl. Top with onion. Sprinkle with basil and remaining salt and pepper. Top with bean mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Toss just before serving.

Pattypan Saute

  • 2 cups halved pattypan squash
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small sweet red pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan Cheese

Coat large skillet with cooking spray. Saute squash and onion in oil for 2 minutes; add garlic, and cook one minute. Add red pepper and mushrooms; saute for 6-7 minutes.

Stir in tomato, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Heat thoroughly. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.

Roasted Fresh Corn with Chive Butter

(4 servings)

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, unhusked
  • 1/4 cup buttery spread or butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350. Place unhusked corn on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake 30-45 minutes depending on size of corn. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove corn husks and silks and discard. Melt butter in microwave and stir in chives. Serve with corn.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Honey Garlic Pork Chops, Red Potato Bundles, and Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

It's summer time and that means everyone is breaking out their grills! Grilling gives food a unique flavor that can not be replicated by cooking in an oven and it just screams "SUMMER". It encourages interaction and fun times out doors.....yes, grilling is one good way to prepare food!

Besides, for some reason, it seems men really like to play with fire!

During the warmer months, we cook our frequently. Most times our menu consists of the traditional grilling fare; hot dogs for the kids, hamburgers, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and occasionally we will grill ribs or chicken.

We also just got back from vacation. Since we ate most of our meals in the hotel suite, which had a kitchenette, it means we ate hot dogs, mac and cheese, canned pasta, fruits and sandwiches. I was ready to make some real food again!!

For this night we grilled pork. It was easy to make but it does need to be marinated for at least 4 hours, and ideally for 8 hours, before grilling.

I also like to make foil packets of chopped veggies and/or small potatoes in individual sizes. It's an easy way to get vegetables on the grill as well, and not have to cook those separately indoors. Personally, I think the texture is better than cooking them indoors.


Honey Garlic Pork Chops
serves 4

(this is not gluten free unless you use a special gluten-free soy sauce)

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, about 6 oz each

In a gallon size ziploc bag, combine all ingredients and seal. Turn to coat and refrigerate for 4-8 hours, turning every so often to evenly marinate.

Drain and discard marinade. Grill, covered, over medium heat for about 16-18 minutes or until juices run clear.

Red Potato Bundles
4 servings
(this dish is gluten free)

  • 12 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • dash pepper
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Place the potatoes evenly distributed on 4 pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil the potatoes, garlic, and onion. Top with rosemary, pepper and cheese. Drizzle with oil. Fold in edges of foil and seal tightly. Grill for about 40 minutes. Carefully open foil to allow steam to escape.

Grilled Cherry Tomatoes
(this dish is gluten free)

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Place tomatoes in heavy duty foil about 24x12 inches.

In skillet, saute garlic and oregano in butter for about 2 minutes. Pour over tomatoes. Seal foil tightly. Grill 8-10 minutes and turn once. 4 servings

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grilled Ginger Salmon, Sugar Snap Peas, and Citrus Carrots and Sprouts

Fish. There's a lot to be said about it.

I don't much care for seafood. However, fish is really good for you. Salmon, in particular, is high in Omega-3 fats. This is a fat that our body requires yet can not manufacture on its own, making it necessary to get this vital nutrient from other sources. Omega-3 is "good" fat.

The numerous benefits of this essential fatty acid include the reduction in the risk for fatal heart arrhythmia since omega-3 acids increases heart rate variability, a measure of heart functionality. It also helps lower triglycerides which are linked to cardiac diseases while boosting HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol. It has also been shown to help control high blood pressure, which in our house is a concern.

It acts as an anti-coagulant, therefore reducing the risk for stroke. Omega-3 is also good for our brain. The brain is composed of more than 60% structural fat. The fatty acids found in fish like salmon help to move nutrients across the fatty membranes of our brain cells and help to eliminate the wastes. Related studies also show that cognitive related problems such as Alzheimer's, dementia and even behavioral disorders can be improved by the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies are also starting to show that omega-3 may also help reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancer.

Wow! Almost makes me want to eat it......almost. (I'll stick with supplements.)

With it being summer, you can grill the salmon outdoors too! Woo hoo, make a cook out of it and let that fish stink up the outside rather than the inside of the house. Watch out, tho. You may notice that all of the neighborhood cats may think they're invited to dinner as well.

While I hate peas, I will eat sugar snap peas. Go figure, but for some reason, the taste and smell is much more subtle and therefore more tolerable for me. Peas have a decent amount of protein in them, being legumes, so will pack a powerful nutrient punch. as for carrots and brussels sprouts.....we all know that carrots help our eyes. They are packed full of Vitamin A, among many other nutrients. And those little sprouts.....they are very effective at strengthening the body's immune system. Good stuff, vegetables.

Now if we could only get the kids to eat them!

These recipes are all gluten free, too, if that is something you follow.

Grilled Ginger Salmon
  • 1 cup gluten free soy sauce (San J brand is GF)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 (5 inch) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 (3 pound) whole salmon fillet with skin
  • 1 untreated cedar plank
  1. Whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, minced ginger, olive oil, and garlic in a bowl, and pour into a resealable plastic zipper bag. Add the salmon fillet, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days.
  2. About 1/2 hour before grilling, soak cedar plank in water.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.
  4. Remove the salmon from the marinade, and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade. Place the salmon, skin side down, onto the cedar plank.
  5. Grill with the grill cover closed until the salmon is opaque but still juicy, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove the salmon from the plank in one piece, leaving the skin on the plank.

Sugar Snap Peas
59 calories per serving

  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • kosher salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Spread sugar snap peas in a single layer on a medium baking sheet, and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with shallots, thyme, and kosher salt.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender but firm.

Citrus Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 pound fresh brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 pound fresh baby carrots
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 drops hot pepper sauce (optional)

  1. Place brussels sprouts and carrots in a large saucepan with a small amount of water; cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients. Drain vegetables; add butter mixture and toss to coat.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lil Cheddar Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato and apples au gratin

The kids are all home, and that means a kid friendly recipe is on the dinner table. It also means that we are all sitting down together and eating. That is something I really strive for when we are all here. D makes a point to get off work at a decent time, and I try to have dinner on the table by 6pm or a little after.

I feel like when the kids are here that we eat much of the same things all the time, since they're kinda picky eaters. The vegetables are especially tricky. I tried that sneaky trick of steaming and mashing cauliflower in their mashed potatoes. Eh, yeah. So, it worked....somewhat. Meaning, they ate it, but there was a comment on the taste difference and how it "smelled funny". If I do it again, I am sure they'll catch on!

Next time I may try to hide turnips in them since they tend to be more subtle in flavor.

In any case, tonight with our lil cheddar meatloaf we are having plain ol' boring mashed potatoes made with whipping cream and butter. Thus far, it is the best way to make them. You just can't mess too much with mashed potatoes. I've tried, and some things are just worth keeping the same and trying to lessen the caloric damage by playing with the amounts used.

We try to limit our red meat, but the kids like meat loaf and this is a different spin to it than what I normally do.


Lil Cheddar Meat Loaves
8 servings 187 calories, 7 grams fat per serving

  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded reduced-fat cheddar
  • 3/4 cup cooking oats
  • 1 medium onion, blended in food processor
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped in food processor
  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin (96/4)
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn prepared mustard

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites. Stir in the cheese, oats, onion and carrot. Add the sirloin and mix well with hands. Shape into 8 small loaves and place in baking dish coated with cooking spray.

In small bowl, mix together ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Spoon over loaves. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potatoes and Apples Au gratin
12 servings 130 calories, 2 grams fat per serving
  • 3 cups thinly sliced tart apples
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

Place apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add sweet potatoes, syrup, butter, and pepper and toss to coat. Pour into 3 qt baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring once.
In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and vinegar; sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake an additional 15 minutes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vegetable Grill Out Night: Zippy Corn on the Cob, Hearty Grilled Vegetables, Broiled Tomatoes

With summer comes the vegetable garden. The squash, zucchini and tomatoes are starting to yield in our garden and this is the first meal where we've been able to incorporate them into dinner this summer. Expect more recipes involving these veggies since they tend to grow at a faster pace than growers can use them! Not only that, we have been trying more and more to have a vegetable-only night at least once a week. We do not always succeed at that, but we do try.

To gain the full nutritional value of squash, including zucchini, the skins must remain on. Squash is high in carotene, as well as many other nutrients (like magnesium, potassium, folate, and fiber) needed for heart health. Many nutrients found in all squash varieties help to protect against certain cancers (lung and colon, for instance).

Corn also has a healthy dose of magnesium and folic acid, as well as being rich in fiber and B vitamins. It also aids with heart health, as well as management of diabetes, hypertension and kidney function.

And tomatoes. We've addressed the many benefits of tomatoes before. All in all, vegetables are some of the most nutritious foods one can eat. We all knew that, of course, and it doesn't have to be a chore to get in your recommended intake of daily vegetables to increase your nutritional benefit. Good recipes are all it takes to make eating your vegetables a tasty necessity.

You can grill these vegetables, or cook them in the oven. I opted for the latter, only because it was cleaner that way. But you choose!


Zippy Corn on the Cob

  • 4 medium ears of sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place ears of corn, husked and silks removed, on a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, combine ingredients and mix well. Brush or pour equally over corn, covering all sides. Fold foil around corn and seal tightly. Grill, over medium heat, about 25 minutes, turning once. (or you can bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes)

Hearty Grilled Vegetables

  • 12 small red new potatoes, halved
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley
  • 3/4 lb fresh mushrooms
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 medium green pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into chunks
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (optional)

Place all ingredients except butter and cheese in large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, or divided up into smaller pieces of aluminum foil. Drizzle butter over top, and sprinkle cheese on top. Fold foil up and seal. Grill for 20 minutes each side over medium heat. Or, place foil packet in baking dish and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with brown rice

Broiled Tomatoes

  • 2 large tomatoes, cut in half
  • Parmesan
  • oregano
  • olive oil

Place tomatoes cut side up on broiler pan. Sprinkle with parmesan and oregano and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for 3-4 minutes, until tomato softens.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Yes, as a main dish!! Sometimes I serve it alone as lunch to my kids, along with their choice of fruit and maybe a yogurt. It's filling and incorporates protein and carbs all at the same time.

My kids, like most kids in the universe, absolutely love macaroni and cheese. It's a well known comfort food even for adults, but is laden with fat and calories which can be discouraging when trying to eat healthier.

Who says you must give it up?? The good thing about this recipe is that it also "hides" some veggies in for those picky vegetable eaters. Hey! Gotta figure out how to get it in their little bodies somehow! If your kids are like mine, vegetables are a hard thing to get down their throats (well, except for my daughter.....she loves vegetables). Using fairly bland vegetables in small amounts in a dish your child loves is a good (but admittedly sneaky) way to get them to eat more than they do.

Ellie's Mac and Cheese

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
  • 2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, Jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I believe I listed a spaghetti and meatballs recipe at the start of this blog that was homemade. I have come across another recipe that is also homemade, and very very good. The meatballs were very tasty, as was the sauce. Both recipes are gluten free but we used regular whole wheat noodles. Anyone seeking a totally gluten free meal can easily substitute gluten free pasta, which can be found in most stores (usually made of rice flour).

My kids love spaghetti and meatballs, and it is a comfort food to some. Hopefully your family will enjoy it too. You can serve with bread of your choice, as well as a salad.


Homemade Meatballs
(this particular item is gluten free)

  • 1 lb lean grounds beef (I use 96/4)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I used pure cornmeal instead)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or 2 tablespoons dried
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line baking sheet or broiler with foil. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with hands. Shape into meatballs the size of your choosing and place them on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until meatballs are browned and firm. If desired, turn once part way through baking. Remove meatballs and add them to the marinara sauce while it is cooking. (recipe below)

Marinara Sauce
(this recipe is gluten free)

  • 3 14 oz cans of no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 minced garlic clove or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 Tablespoons of Parmesan

Whisk together ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often. Add meatballs and simmer for 25 minutes. Serve with pasta of choice.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gluten Free: Smothered Pork Chops, Broccoli w/Cheese Sauce, Crispy Baked Smashed Potatoes & Baked Acorn Squash with Candied Nut Stuffing

There has been an increase in Celiac diagnoses in recent years, mainly due to more awareness of the disease and a better understanding of it. With this has come more and more options for Celiac patients, and anyone else who has a gluten and/or wheat sensitivity. I have a child with Autism, and we tried the gluten free diet for him a few years ago, but since it didn't make much difference we gave it up. Some children with Autism have been suspected of having food allergies that contribute to the severity of their symptoms, thus why some parents of Autistic kids utilize a gluten free (and often casein free) diet for their child.

D has a grown daughter who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease as a toddler. This was back when Celiac was believed to be a very rare disorder and little was known about it. Since her diagnosis (she is now 27), much has been learned about this once-rare disorder and it has been determined that it is not very rare at all. As a matter of fact, according to Dr. Fasano who is the medical director of the Center for Celiac Research, it is "the most prevalent genetically transmitted disease in the world". Wow!!

We read labels and sometimes cook gluten free meals. My stepdaughter has made us meals as well and I am amazed at how tasty much of it actually is. So much is naturally gluten free in the natural food world!! Eating gluten free does not have to be a chore in denial of good foods!

As my own young daughter struggles with belly issues, we have decided to try a gluten free diet with her this summer to see if that helps her.

So, our gluten free dinner tonight is:

Smothered Pork Chops
Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

Crispy Baked Smashed Potatoes

Baked Acorn Squash with Candied Nut Stuffing


Smothered Pork Chops
4 servings


  • 4 boneless pork chops, 4 oz each
  • 1/2 cup pure cornstarch + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup gluten-free low sodium chicken broth (Swanson's Natural Goodness)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Pat pork chops dry with paper towels. Put 1/2 cup cornstarch in a shallow bowl and add onion powder, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Whisk with fork to combine ingredients. Dip pork chops in the cornstarch mixture.

In large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Place pork chops in skillet with plenty of room. Fry 9-10 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Remove chops and place on a plate and keep warm. Add all but 1/4 cup of broth to skillet and cook until liquid is slightly reduced.

In separate bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch with the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth until well blended. Add this mixture to the skillet. Cook over medium heat until thickening starts. Reduce heat and add buttermilk.

Return pork to skillet and spoon gravy over them. Cover and simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until pork is thoroughly cooked.

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups of half and half
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lbs fresh broccoli florets

In medium saucepan, whisk 1/4 cup half and half with cornstarch over medium heat until it gets smooth. Add the remaining half and half with garlic and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened.

Remove pan from heat and add cheese, stirring until it melts. Add cayenne, then lemon juice and keep warm.

Steam broccoli in steamer, or cook in boiling water until tender. Serve immediately with sauce drizzled over broccoli.

Crispy Baked Smashed Potatoes
  • 1 lbs small red potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 cup warm buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes and boil them until they are tender. (Test with a fork). When draining potatoes, reserve about 1/4 cup of the water. Mash with a manual masher or fork to a coarse texture with the buttermilk and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and use reserved water if necessary.

Heat olive oil in oven-tolerant skillet (cast iron preferred) over medium heat. Add smashed potatoes when oil is hot. Cook until bottom starts to brown, then transfer (pan and all) to oven.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove with care (and oven mitts!!) and overturn skillet onto a plate, then cut the potatoes into wedges. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve!


Baked Acorn Squash with Candied Nut Stuffing
  • 2 small acorn squash, about 1 lb each
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter spread
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds or walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

Preheat oven to 350

Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds. Set the squash halves on baking sheet cut side up. Coat with cooking spray and cover tightly with foil, baking 25-30 minutes.

In medium bowl combine butter, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange jucie concentrate. Remove foil from squash and fill centers of each acorn with the "stuffing".

Return to oven and bake uncovered another 15 minutes, until stuffing is lightly browned. Serve hot.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dijon Crusted Chicken, Southwest Corn and Tomatoes, and Green Beans in Creamy Dill Sauce

It's been awhile since I updated, I know! In the meantime, there have been several recipes I have tried with good results for everyone! This one in particular was a hit with the kids. I was also quite surprised at how well it turned out. If you are trying to eat light, yet get a hankering for Fried Chicken, this chicken recipe will hit the spot without the guilt.

So, okay, yes yes it involved frying a bit. That's not always a bad thing. Deep frying is bad, yes. But some oils have good fat in them. I have a hard time believing it, you know. That certain kinds of fat actually help your body stay thin. But it is true. Our body needs fat to be healthy and then trick is picking the right kinds ---- and not eating fat overall in excess.

The original recipe calls for olive oil but it has a high temperature tolerance. So I use canola. It's almost as good as olive oil health wise, and some say it's better.

As for the green beans: I am not a fan of dill. But, my husband liked it a lot and I didn't think it was half bad, despite my aversion to dill.

Dinner Tonight is:

Dijon Crusted Chicken
Southwest Corn and Tomatoes

Green Beans in Creamy Dill Sauce


Dijon Crusted Chicken
serves 4
(1 chicken breast half = 169 calories, 5 grams fat, 380 mg sodium)


  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tspns Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 tspn dried thyme
  • 1/4 tspn pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves (4 oz each) (I use tenders)
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tspns olive oil (or canola)
  • 1 tspn margarine

Place first 5 ingredients in shallow bowl and mix together. Brush chicken with mustard; roll in crumb mixture.

In large skillet, cook chicken in oil and margarine over medium heat 5-6 minutes each side.

Southwest Corn and Tomatoes
(6 servings)

This dish is gluten free!!

(2/3 cup = 130 calories, 5 grams fat, 205 mg sodium)


  • 1 pkg (16 oz) frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 5 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/2 tspn kosher salt

In large bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and garlic. Drizzle with oil; toss to coat. Transfer to a baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring twice. Spoon into a bowl. Stir in cilantro and salt. Serve warm.

Green Beans in Creamy Dill Sauce
(5 servings)
2/3 cup with 5 teaspoons sauce = 59 calories, 2 grams fat, 283 mg sodium


  • 1 pkg (15 oz) frozen cut green beans
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspooons flour
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dill weed
  • dash pepper
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream

Cook beans according to package directions.

Meanwhile in skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add broth.

Stir in vinegar, salt, dill, and pepper. Bring to boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes until thickened. Reduce heat. Stir in sour cream; heat thoroughly but do not boil. Drain beans and serve with sauce.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Simple Salad, Fettuccine with Asparagus and Peas, Glazed Carrots, Chocolate PB Parfaits

Fettuccine. When I think of it, I think “Fat! Fat! Fat!!” That’s because of the cheese sauce. Cheese is good, but let’s face it – it’s TOO good! Too much cheese will give you too much fat in your diet, but cheese is a very nutritious addition to a healthy diet. An ounce of cheese can supply you with almost a third of your daily requirement for calcium. It is also a very good source of protein, Vitamin B12 and riboflavin.

The downside is, cheese can actually be quite high in sodium for such a small portion. And who actually only eats an ounce of cheese, which is most often the serving size recommended. It’s also quite high in fat and cholesterol.

This recipe will call for Parmesan, which is one of the lower fat/calorie cheeses. The ricotta called for is part skim, which also helps to shave off some fat and calories. The main dish overall has a bit more fat than I like in a meal, but by standards, it’s actually a low fat meal. Especially if you consider this: the fettuccine alfredo lunch entrée (meaning, their small portion) at Olive Garden is 18 grams of fat and almost 800 calories. Just for the entrée, and without meat!!! Throw in some chicken, or Italian sausage and you’ve just upped the calories and fat quite a bit more. The sodium is sky high too, as expected. Then consider their salad is 201 calories, and their dressing 90 calories…..and of course, a breadstick would be 150 calories for just one.

Not to mention calories added when you drink that Italian Margarita that just calls your name every time you go…..

Oh wait, maybe that is only me!

But as you can see, one meal out can easily add up to well over 1,000 calories, 25+ grams of fat, and sodium that would send someone with borderline blood pressure into stroke-ville!

Our main entrée will be 250 calories for 1 1/3 cup serving and only 7 grams of fat. So, not entirely fat free but within range of decency, as well as much better than eating out!

Cooking at home can be a hassle, for sure, but the payoff is much healthier eating. That means, in the long run, you will be a healthier person. And, hopefully, teaching your kiddos that Mc Donald’s isn’t what family dinner is all about!

Dinner Tonight is:

Simple Salad

Fettuccine with Asparagus and Peas

Glazed Carrots


Simple Salad

(6 servings)

This dish is gluten free!!

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 8 cups mixed lettuces
  • 3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Pepper

Fettuccine with Asparagus and Peas

(6 servings)

250 calories, 7 grams of fat, 363 mg sodium


  • 8 ounces of whole wheat fettuccine noodles
  • 2 medium leeks (white portion only), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lbs fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cook fettuccine according to package directions.

In large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté leeks in oil for 1 minute. Add asparagus and garlic; sauté until asparagus is tender crisp. Stir in peas, and pepper.

Drain fettuccine, reserving ½ cup of cooking liquid. Whisk in ¼ cup Parmesan, and lemon juice. Add to skillet; heat thoroughly.

Add fettuccine; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.

Glazed Carrots

6 servings

This dish is gluten free!!

64 calories, 1 gram of fat


  • 6 tspns water
  • 6 tspns apple juice
  • 1 Tablspn packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tspn butter
  • 1/2 tspn nutmeg
  • 148 tspn kosher salt
  • 24 ounces baby carrots

In medium saucepan, mix water, apple juice, brown sugar, butter, nutmeg and salt. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

Add carrots; cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender-crisp.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfaits

6 servings

146 calories, 6 grams of fat, 300 mg sodium, 16 grams carbs

(hint: you can cut the fat even more by using fat free whipped topping and omitting, or reducing, the peanuts)


  • 2 Tblspns reduced-fat chunky peanut butter
  • 2 Tablspns fat free milk, COLD
  • 2 cups cold fat free milk
  • 1 cup reduced fat whipped topping
  • 1 pkg (1.4 oz) sugar free instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3 Tblspn finely chopped peanuts

In a small bowl, combine peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of milk. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping; set aside. In another small bowl, whisk remaining milk with pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes, or until soft set.

Spoon half pudding mixture into 6 parfait glasses. Layer with reserved Peanut Butter mixture and remaining pudding. Refrigerate at least an hour.

Just before serving, garnish with whipped topping and peanuts.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gluten Free: Spinach Salad, Potato Soup, Healthy Chicken Salad, Honey Lime Fruit Toss

It's been cold here. Very cold, like in the single digits. I've often commented on how we eat a lot of soups in the winter time. It seems to just go to the core and help give us some warmth.

This meal is pretty healthy. The potato soup is very good. Most of the healthy things we eat are flavorful, and also much, much better than eating out. I always use fresh ingredients, occasionally frozen, so as to keep the sodium level controllable. Have you ever looked at the sodium content in canned goods??? Yikes! Hubby needs to watch his sodium, so I do not use salt in my cooking. I also use mostly no or low sodium ingredients. If this is not an issue for you, adjust as necessary!

The chicken salad is healthy because it does not use mayo for a base, which is good. It can be eaten on bread or alone. And spinach salad......I can't say enough about spinach and salads. Spinach makes wonderful salad, and the health benefits of spinach are out of this world!!

By the way, this meal is gluten free!

Dinner Tonight is:

Spinach Salad
Potato Soup

Healthy Chicken Salad

Honey Lime Fruit Toss

Spinach Salad
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sliced almonds (optional)

  • Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
  1. Wash and clean spinach. Tear into bite size pieces and place in a serving bowl. Add half of the feta or goat cheese and onion; toss to combine.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Top with dried tomatoes and almonds. Serve immediately.

Potato Soup
  • 1 3/4 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth (Swanson's Natural Goodness is gluten free)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated fat-free milk, divided (use Carnation)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon real bacon bits (like Hormel)
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, onion, celery, broth and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk until smooth; stir into potato mixture. Add the remaining milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in cheese until melted. Serves 5
One serving equals 178 calories, 2 g fat (0 saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 274 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 14 g protein

Healthy Chicken Salad
  • 4 chicken breasts, baked or boiled, and shredded
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Serve on wheat bread, or alone.

Honey Lime Fruit Toss
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly cut pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups orange segments, cut in half
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 medium firm bananas, sliced
  • 2 kiwifruit, peeled, halved, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lime peel
  1. In a bowl, combine the pineapple, mandarin oranges, strawberries, bananas and kiwi. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, honey, lime peel. Pour over fruit; gently toss to coat.
One serving (3/4 cup) equals 133 calories, 1 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 7 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gluten Free: Salad, Honey Baked Chicken, Squash Medley, Roasted Brussel Sprouts,

Meal time again!

I am always looking for a new way to make chicken. The thing is, while limiting our red meat and pork and focusing on leaner meats, chicken tends to be the main part of our meal. Occasionally I will cook something like fish, but not often. I do not like seafood and hate the way it smells the house up!

Besides, most of the chicken type of meals, my kids will eat! (Oh, by the way, I tested that Spinach Casserole recipe out on my kids, and my autistic son, who hates nearly all things good for him, ate it and actually liked it!!! Talk about shocked!! He was reticent, of course, but I insisted that he must take a small bite. He took a nibble, his eyebrows went up, and he gobbled up what was left on his fork. As he ate, he told his sister, "It only looks disgusting but it tastes good." If you have picky eaters, give that recipe a go!)

Anyway, back to this meal. I am often in a rush if I haven't pre-planned how to cook my chicken. So, I found this recipe that required ingredients that I had in the house. It was really good! An interesting taste, but a very good one! I will make it again.

So, enjoy the dinner if you try it! It really is good!



  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 5oz package of mixed salad greens
  • 6 cups of torn romaine
  • 1 11-oz can of mandarin oranges
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/8 tspn salt

  1. In small, heavy skillet, cook and stir sugar over medium heat until melted. Stir in almonds, cook for 1 minute until lightly browned. Spread onto foil coated with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In large salad bowl, combine mixed greens, romaine, oranges, celery, and onions.
  3. Tn small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together. Drizzle over salad. Add almonds and toss to coat. Serve immediately

Nutritional information: Serving size is 1 1/4 cups. Contains 125 calories, 8 g fat, 85 mg of sodium

Honey Baked Chicken
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup prepared mustard (French's Mustard is gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place chicken pieces in a shallow baking pan, skin side up. Combine the melted butter or margarine, honey, mustard, salt and curry powder and pour the mixture over the chicken. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours (75 minutes), basting every 15 minutes with pan drippings, until the chicken is nicely browned and tender and the juices run clear.
Makes 6 servings

Nutritional Information: 325 calories, 13 grams of fat

Squash Medley

  • 6 cups summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 6 cups zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 tspn. garlic powder, divided
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup pure cornmeal (NOT a cornmeal blend)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

  1. Place the summer squash slices in a steamer basket and steam for 3-4 minutes or until tender.
  2. Transfer the slices to a plate and set aside. Place the zucchini slices in the steamer basket and steam for 2-3 minutes or until tender.
  3. Lightly oil a large casserole dish. Alternately layer the summer squash and zucchini in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 t. garlic powder and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. In a small bowl, place the remaining garlic powder and remaining ingredients, and stir well to combine. Sprinkle the mixture over the vegetables and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Serves 6

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
  2. Place trimmed Brussels sprouts, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal tightly, and shake to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet, and place on center oven rack.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every 5 to 7 minutes for even browning. Reduce heat when necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be darkest brown, almost black, when done. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, if necessary. Serve immediately.
Serves 6

Calories per serving: 104 calories, 7.3 grams fat

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vegetable Night! Winter Fruit Salad, Baked Potato, Spinach Casserole, Honey Ginger Carrots,

Folks, it's been very cold here the last few days. I've been making a lot of soups! Yesterday I made Cream of Pea Soup, for my husband to take to work the next day, while also cooking this dinner. I'll not include the recipe at this time, as I believe the last few entries have been soup recipes!! So goes it with the cold! I don't eat peas, but I did give him a sample of the soup last night while it was piping hot, and he did eat it for lunch today, and he claims it hits the spot. So, I will include that in an entry soon.

Last night we had vegetable night. I try to incorporate veggie night in at least once a week. I am not always successful, but it's becoming easier to do with all the different vegetable recipes that I have been able to find and experiment with. My husband is my guinea pig; my kids, not so much! However, I read reviews for this spinach casserole and saw where tons of people claimed that their kids loved it and asked for more. There's hope!! Kids asking for spinach. I shall try it myself soon and see if it works on my picky eaters. It really was very, very good.

For the baked potato, there's nothing to it, really. Pick out the number of baking potatoes that you need to feed your crew. Scrub them and cut a big X across the top, deeply. Rub with oil, wrap in aluminum foil individually and bake at 425 degrees for an hour, or more, depending on the size of the potatoes. If they're especially large, up the degrees to 450 and cook about an hour and a half. Fix them as you please. I like to use a smidgen of butter and low fat sour cream. D eats his plain.


Winter Fruit Salad
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 pear - peeled, cored and sliced
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.
  2. In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat.

Honey Ginger Carrots
(this dish is gluten free!!)

  • 1 lbs baby carrots
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet over low heat, melt butter with honey. Stir in ground ginger and lemon juice. Stir in carrots and simmer until heated through.

Spinach Casserole
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
  • 3tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5-7 Ritz crackers, crumbled finely

  1. In a saucepan, cook spinach in a small amount of water for 2-3 minutes; drain thoroughly. Add pepper, cheese, eggs and milk and stir together. Spoon into a shallow baking dish, about 1 qt. Sprinkle finely crumbled ritz crackers over spinach mixture. Drizzle melted butter over top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until almost set.
(This is a dish that is even tastier cold!)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Salad, Creamy Tomato Soup and Gooey Grilled Cheese

I got a new cookbook a couple of weeks ago that had a tomato soup recipe in it that I wanted to try. It was actually a very easy recipe, and it turned out very, very good. It was creamy and very tasty and even my daughter kept coming back to the stove to steal spoonfuls of it before I actually served it. There was a bit of complaint from my autistic son because he could feel the finely processed onions in his mouth. That is a shame, really, because he seemed to really like the taste of the soup itself. I will continue to experiment with different ways to reduce that tactile annoyance for him.

This is comfort food, though. Hot tomato soup and gooey grilled cheese. Perhaps a bit more fat than we'd like, but certainly much better than eating out. Besides, there are things that can be done to reduce the fat content if you choose. You can use low fat cheese, or the substitute butter spread. However you make grilled cheese is up to you, and I will probably not include the recipe. I simply butter the bread, add the cheese and cook in skillet until done. The salad was a simple one. Torn lettuce, some cherry tomatoes, a bit of Parmesan, shredded carrots, diced hard-boiled egg and dressing of choice.

This really is very easy and very good.


Creamy Tomato Soup
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups of 100% tomato juice
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped onions (use a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or acceptable substitute
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of 2% milk (substitute half the milk with half-and-half for richer soup)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in skillet. Add the flour and onions. Cook until onions brown. Set aside.

Combine milk and tomato juice and cook over medium heat until warmed, but do not boil. Stir in the flour/onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Add sugar and remove from heat.

Serve immediately.