March 24, 2011

Squash Casserole

My local grocery store has started bagging up produce that is close to 'expiring' and pricing it really cheap. This bag of 6ish squash (squashes?) cost me 69 cents! It was perfectly fine, not rotten or anything. Just had to use it up quickly. I've gotten some great deals on all kinds of veggies. So, it hunted up summer squash recipes and found this one. This blog site has some great veggie recipes and tips. Check it out! Anyway, I didn't have all the ingredients so I did what I could with what I had and I really liked how it turned out. My Squash Casserole 4-5 small to medium summer squash, peeled and sliced into half circles 1/2 medium onion, chopped 1/2 cup light sour cream 1/4 cup light mayo 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used colby/jack) 1/2 tsp salt few dashes of pepper 1/2 cup bread crumbs Sautee squash and onion in a pan in some olive oil till limp. In a bowl combine sour cream, mayo, cheese, salt & pepper. Then add the cooked veggies and stir till combined. Spread in greased casserole dish or pan. Top with bread crumbs. I added a little more shredded cheese on top but it wasn't really necessary. Bake at 350 for 25-40 minutes till squash is bubbly and the top is browned.

March 18, 2011

St. Patty's Day Partay

Tonight we had a belated birthday/belated St. Patrick's Day party. Yes, two exciting celebrations all rolled up in one. Actually it was hubby's 3rd party this week so he wasn't too sad about sharing the spotlight with Pat. Mother-in-law made the main dish and main sides and I added a few things to the table. I decided to try to make a couple sort of Irishy things that I found on I will show them off in order of authenticity.

First of all is the Irish Soda Bread. I learned from reading the reviews that it's quite authentic. I wouldn't know any difference since I'd never made it or even eaten it. It turned out wonderful! It's kind of like a giant scone, kind of crumbly and buttery and only slightly sweet. I loved it and it was fun to make. Except for the part where I was cutting up the dried apricots with some sharp kitchen shears and cut the very tip of my finger off instead. Yeah, don't do that. Anyway, mine varied from the original just a bit, I didn't add caraway seeds and I used raisins and said apricots, no currants. And I plumped up the dried fruit by soaking in hot water for about 30 minutes before adding it to the rest, I think that makes a big difference, not so chewy. Here it is-

Next up is some Fried Cabbage. Fried cabbage was listed on Allrecipe's "St. Patrick's Day Food" list though more searching led me to this recipe which stated it was more of a southern US traditional food. So, we'll just pretend it's kinda Irish. This cabbage was seriously so good. I've never made it like this before, but I'll definitely be making it again and when I do, I'll cut the bacon down, or maybe just remove more of the grease from the pan before cooking the vegetables since it was pretty greasy. Here it is so pretty and colorful-

Lastly is my Pistachio Pudding Cake. I pretty much just wanted to make a green dessert and I had some cake mix on hand so this fit the bill. It was very good, though I have a feeling it will be even better tomorrow, it's the kind of cake that gets moister and better the next day. I didn't get a pic of the inside but it was a very nice green color and check out the professional icing job (not really my specialty)

So, not the healthiest party food but it could've been worse. It was a nice meal with family, the kind we need to do more often.

March 14, 2011

Baking Bread

I've started to bake my own bread! I've used bread machines before but for some reason always had a problem with my bread flopping. That's so frustrating after putting all the ingredients in the machine and patiently waiting and then getting flop. But, I decided to try again after reading a few things that I was oblivious to regarding preservatives & food additives that are used in bread.

Having store-bought bread last for weeks in the drawer seems like a great thing until you try to read the ingredient list. THIS post by Snack Girl helped open my eyes to the reality of what's in our bread. There's an ingredient called AZODICARBONAMIDE (sounds yummy!?) that has actually been banned in other countries. I looked at all the bread in my bread drawer and they ALL had this additive.

I pack my son's lunch everyday for school. He wants the same thing everyday and that includes a sandwich. I've been using Iron Kids Bread since it boasts having tons of fiber, iron and calcium but is still white and soft like kids like. I had him try to read the ingredients on the bag to me the other day and it was quite comical to hear him try to pronounce everything. It just seems wrong for him to be eating all those things he was struggling to read. And he's a VERY advanced reader! So, this is why I decided to start baking my own bread. I know the ingredients and I actually love the process. And he LOVES the sandwiches I make for him with it. Really, what smells better than baking bread? And what tastes better than fresh baked bread with butter on it or a big fat sandwich on your on homebaked bread? Pretty much nothing.

I've tried two recipes so far and they both turned out great with no floppage! Even though some of my yeast had officially expired. The second recipe is so good, I'm almost afraid to try anything else. I've made it four times already. I found it on the back of my Hodgson Mill whole wheat flour bag and it is a winner. The crust is SO good on this bread, my son will even eat the heel without complaining (and he's a 'cut the crust OFF my bread' kinda kid)

Here's the recipe with just a couple of changes from the original since I didn't have a certain grain cereal it called for and I think it's easier using oil than butter-

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/8 cup water or milk (I do half water half milk)
3.5 T honey
3.5 T olive oil
1 egg

1 cup white flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 t salt
2 T wheat germ
1 T quick oats
1 package yeast

I warm the milk/water mixture just slightly then mix in the honey, oil and yeast. Let this sit until it foams (about 5 minutes, if it doesn't foam, the yeast is probably bad). Then add the egg to this mixture. Next, place all the dry ingredients into the bread machine then add the yeasty liquid. Push GO!

I can't say for sure this will work for all bread machines, but I think they're pretty universal. My machine was used so I didn't have a manual or cookbook but I've had no problems.

And look, I've discovered I have quite the talent for slicing bread. I did this free-hand!!

Here's to many more happy loaves in my future!

March 10, 2011

Bunny Carrots

I have to share this, it's just too funny! I bought some carrots the other day. Grown-up carrots, not baby carrots. I haven't bought anything other than baby carrots for quite a while, but I needed them for a recipe and they were so much cheaper so I bought the old-fashioned long carrots that are not peeled, washed or shaved into little bite size pieces. Well, my 2.5 year old saw them and got very excited. I guess she's never seen a 'real carrot' in person before! She said, "bunny carrots!!" Just like in a storybook or in a cartoon or stuck in a snowman's face. It is kinda sad that when we did make a snowman this year we had to give him a stubby little baby carrot nose because that's all we had.

Anyway, she was so excited about these carrots and demanded I give her one to dip and eat. So, I gave her a nice long skinny carrot and she dipped and ate it and hopped around like a bunny rabbit. Later when my son came home from school I showed him the carrots and he was pretty excited about them too. I washed one for him and he dipped it in some (lite) thousand island dressing then wanted another and another and another. I think he ate 4 of them. And they were big honkin' carrots too. It's so funny, you just never know what will get these kids excited. Who knew my package of carrots would disappear so quickly!

It reminded me of a Snack Girl idea for Pickled Carrots. I mentioned it to my son and he thought they sounded great so I think I'll try to make them soon.

March 05, 2011

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Yes, I'm on a sweet potato kick. They're just so good and so versitile! And I bought a big bag at the store the other day for 99 cents so I was forced to come up with something new and exciting to do with them. HERE'S the recipe I found and here is my slightly altered version-

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, chopped
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried oregano
10-12 flour tortillas
1 10oz can tomatoes with green chilis
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
8 ounces shredded cheese (I used colby/jack)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat and boil the sweet potatoes
until tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly then place in a bowl and mash them with the cream cheese, green onions, chili powder, cumin and oregano until well mixed.

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13x9 inch baking dish. Place about 1/2 cup of sweet potato filling down the center of each tortilla, roll it up, and place filled
tortillas seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Combine tomatoes (I blended them in the blender for a smooth consistency) then pour over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the enchiladas are bubbling and the cheese is just beginning to brown around the edges.

They were delicious! We topped them with lettuce, sour cream and salsa.

March 01, 2011

Sweet Potato Chili

This is another recipe I'd forgotten about and it will officially round out my two weeks of more soup. I'm not sure where I got it, but I used to make it quite often. The sweet potatoes blend in nicely with the soup, adding a little sweetness to go with the spicy. It's very kid friendly and picky eater friendly.

Sweet Potato Chili

1 lb of ground beef or turkey, browned
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of chili beans, not drained
1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything in the crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until potatoes are soft. I like to try to mash the sweet potatoes up after they get soft, that way they blend (aka disappear) into the soup better. It does make for very thick chili, so if you like it thinner, you could add some tomato sauce, tomato juice or even some V8.

I've no picture to share but it just looks like regular chili, only oranger ;)