Monday, November 14, 2011

Hamburger helper from scratch

3 lbs of tomatoes
1/2 a sweet onion diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb ground beef
1 lb mushrooms
Macaroni noodles
2 TBSP butter

Cut tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper put in oven at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.

When tomatoes are almost done put 1 TBSP butter in a pot and sauté onions with a sprinkle of salt until just starting to brown.

Take tomatoes out of oven and slide them and all the juice into the pot with the onions, use spoon to mush and stir them. Add all cheese and seasonings to taste. Let sauce simmer another few minutes

In a pan brown ground beef and mushrooms. In a separate pot cook macaroni noodles. Drain noodles and add one TBSP butter to noodle pot and stir until melted. Add the noodles to the cooked meat/mushroom mixture stir combine, add tomato sauce to pan and stir to combine. When dish is warmed through and bubbly you are done, top with more Parmesan cheese if you wish.
This was delicious and definitely on a whole different level than anything you can get out of a box. Warm, comforting and full of savory flavor! :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baked Tomatillo Chicken with Cauliflower "Rice" :)

Usually I try to plan what I am going to make at least one day ahead of time. It takes away the last minute scramble for something to eat which is not only stressful but leads me to want to grab something quick and easy and not usually something healthy. Yesterday I meant to take some chicken breast out to defrost for today and then totally forgot about it.

So this morning when I realized that nothing was defrosted and my plan of marinated chicken on the BBQ was out for today I went on a search through my cupboards for something I could put over the frozen chicken breast so I could throw it in the oven to bake and to give it good flavor.

I found a Jar of Roasted Salsa Verdewhich is made with Tomatillos which seemed to fit the bill just perfectly. I just lined my baking dish with the frozen chicken breast poured the whole jar over them, covered it with tin foil and threw it into a 350 degree oven and let it bake for 2 hours while I was getting everything else ready.

I decided to make a healthier low carb version of rice to go along with it. I heard someone recently talking about making "rice" with cauliflower and even though cauliflower is not something I typically like It did sound interesting, and since it is health and low calorie, I thought I'd step outside my box and give it a try. 

I took my head of cauliflower out, rinsed it and cut out the core. Then I gave it a rough chop so that the pieces were smallish (I found that bigger pieces would not process as well) then threw them into the food processor and gave it a few buzzes until the cauliflower was chopped into tiny peices about the size of rice. I had to do it in about 5 batches because I have a small food processor. Also just to warn you it was kind of messy because the tiny peices of cauliflower want to get everywhere!

Then I put them into a big frying pan with 1 TBSP of olive oil, half a green pepper and half a red pepper diced tiny. Then I put about 1 TBSP of garlic powder, 2 TBSP chili powder, 1 tsp each of cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, and oregano (these are estimates because I VERY rarely measure anything, feel free to adjust to your own tastes). Then I turned the burner on high and sauteed the cauliflower until it was tender. Resist the temptation to add water. The cauliflower has enough moisture in and of itself to fry in and if you add water it will make the cauliflower soft and mushy.

I served the chicken on top of the rice and topped the whole thing with a tsp of fat free sour cream and a small sprinkle of fat free cheese. like I said, I do not like cauliflower. Never have, but this totally rocked! It was really really good. Really did taste very similar to mexican rice. My husband loved it, and all I can say is yummmmmm!

What did you have for lunch today?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kale Chips

I've been needing a healthy salty crunchy snack and saw someone online post about making Kale chips so I looked into it and decided that I must try it!

This is the recipe I used as a template. First I filled my sink with cool water and soaked my two bunches of kale for about ten minutes, then I made sure each leaf was clean by rubbing them under the water with my hand and making sure it was rinsed in between all the folds. I dried them with a few paper towels and then peeled the leaves off the stem. I put them into a big bowl, drizzled them with 1 TBSP olive oil and used my hands to massage in the oil and make sure they were coated well. The I laid them on a ookie sheet, in a single layer, and sprinkled them with season salt. I did not measure just eyeballed it.

The original recipe says to bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes but I found that by following that, the curly edges of the kale were getting crispy and browned too fast, and the middle flat part of the leaf was still soft and bitter (kale is bitter when raw but looses most/all of that when crisped up properly) so I turned the oven down to 300 degrees and baked them for 17-18 minutes and they were perfect. Crispy through and through.

One serving is about 1/4 of the final product. They shrink when they bake so it will be less than what you started with.

I loved them, Jeremy (my husband) loved them. My mom and dad loved them. I give them a standing ovation.

For some reason my 15 month old is currently avoiding most vegetables as if they were infested with the plague but he seemed to think these were great so if you have kids that you have a hard time getting veggies into you might want to try them ;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cream of Mushroom Soup With Chicken

I have been craving cream of mushroom soup for a few weeks now, and not just any cream of mushroom soup, I wanted homemade cream of mushroom soup. The fact that I've never had it before didn't stop the craving, in fact I venture to say that it made it worse, because my imagination gets carried away all the time every once in a while. I LOVE mushrooms. The flavor, the smell, the texture, and most of all the taste. So yes, I had to give in and figure out how to make this dream a reality.

I started with some research into other recipes to see how other chefs do it. Basically every one of them used heavy cream which although VERY delicious has 11 grams of fat for a 2 TBSP serving size so I had to look elsewhere to achieve the creaminess I needed. When I went to the grocery store I discovered they have low fat half and half, only 1.5 grams of fat per 2 TBSP serving, so I was sold :)

The line up:

Mushrooms : Portabella, shiitake and trusty old button mushrooms. In total I had about 2 lbs.
1 quart of low fat half and half
One fresh chicken

**Supporting Cast**
One onion
4 cloves of fresh garlic
2 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP ground thyme
salt/pepper to taste
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder
1/4 cup chicken seasoning
1 cup of flour

Give your bird a rinse and set him into your soup pot. Cover with water. Then add all the supporting cast of ingredients (except the flour) and give everything a stir. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer, cover with pot lid, and let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

While the chicken is boiling get your mushrooms cut into chunks and fry them until they have developed golden brown edges.

After the chicken is done, take it out with 2 big spoons or spatulas and set onto a cookie tray, open up the meat to let it cool off. If you have an immersion blender dump about 2/3 of your fried mushrooms into the pot with the broth left from the chicken and then use the immersion blender to get everything to the consistency you want. If you don't have an immersion blender put 2/3 of the fried mushrooms into a regular blender and then use a ladle to get just enough broth to pulverize to the consistency you want. then dump it back into the soup pot. Pick the chicken meat off the bones and add to soup pot. Now add the last 1/3 of the mushroom pieces back to the soup too.

Now to thicken the soup and add creaminess put your flour into a bowl and add the half and half in batches, mixing well between each addition. first addition should make a paste, like the picture above and then with each added one it will become more and more liquidy. This will prevent lumps. After you have the quart of half and half mixed with the flour, just pour it into the soup pot while stiring. Bring the soup back up to a boil and it will thicken slightly.

There you have it, my first attempt at healthy homemade cream of mushroom soup. Don't forget to taste your soup before you serve it and feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste. This was a very good recipe it was warm, comforting, savory soupy goodness.  The low fat half and half was WONDERFUL! I couldn't even tell it was a low fat soup. Even my picky 14 month old gobbled it all up! We served it with a crusty loaf of poppy seed dill bread from the bakery, yuuuuuum!

What I would do differently next time: I would use more mushrooms!!! I could taste the mushrooms and they were lovely just not enough for me so honestly I would at least double it next time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Meatless Meatballs

So I had a play date last week with a few friends who also have little munchkins. We always do a potluck dinner when we get together and one of my friends is vegetarian so I brought vegetarian meatballs. Now you might gasp at the thought of meatballs without any actual meat in them but don't hold your breath too long because these are a healthy and delicious food!

Not a very complicated line up of ingredients. Some bread (I used herb garlic rolls I got from good old Walmart), pecan meal, reduced fat cheddar, an onion, a few eggs, a few cloves of garlic, and a box of Washington's rich brown broth (you can get this from health food stores).

First I toasted the bread and cut it into chunks about the size of a pea. I used 3 rolls and ended up with about 2 cups worth.

Then in a bowl I combined 8 oz of the reduced fat cheddar grated, the bread chunks, half an onion diced, 3 cloves of Garlic grated, 1 1/2 cups of ground nuts and 8 eggs.

Then I mixed everything up until it was uniform throughout and used the cookie baller to make mini meatballs on two cookie sheets. I baked them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until golden brown. This made a little more than 100 meatballs feel free to cut the recipe in half if you want a smaller batch.

mmmmm golden brown goodness!

As you may have noticed there is no salt in this recipe. The salt comes from the broth. I had two options at this point.

Option #1: I could have made just enough of the broth according to package directions to cover the meatballs, poured it over them and baked them for another half an hour. This will bring moisture to the meatballs and flavor as well. Then after that half an hour bake in the broth you can pour off the extra and add in a BBQ sauce and the throw them back into the oven just to get a nice glaze going. This is what I usually do but I felt like a brown/beefy flavored gravy so I opted for option #2.

Option #2: I put enough water in a pot for 2 packages of the broth but added in 3 packaged instead. I added about 1/4 cup of flour to a bowl and then added about 1 cup of milk to the flour slowly stirring between each addition so that the flour didn't get lumpy. Then poured the flour mixture into the broth. Then I added some black pepper and oregano to the gravy. After this I just heated it on the stove until it had boiled and thickened up. Poured it over the meatballs and popped them back into the oven for 30 minutes. This does the same job as option #1 of adding salt and moisture but with the added bonus of being able to serve them straight from the oven with the creamy beefy gravy.

These meatless meatballs are really really great. They are very good served with rice or even just speared with a toothpick and eaten h'orderve style. The broth although vegan, has a GREAT beefy flavor, so much so that I've added it too my beef stew before with great results. So it's warm comforting and yummy :)