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.