Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Veggie-Turkey Burgers

I love a good, beefy bacon cheeseburger as much as the next red-blooded American. However, my children have genetically high cholesterol so I try to incorporate more lean meats into our diet. These turkey burgers, even though they are made with very lean turkey breast, are quite juicy and flavorful. We all cleaned our plates when I made these last night. As a side, what's a burger without potatoes? Roasted Rosemary Potatoes are a perfect complement.

Veggie-Turkey Burgers

1 pound ground turkey breast
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded zucchini (about 1/2 a small, unpeeled squash)
1/4 cup shredded onion
2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper
olive oil
hamburger buns

Drizzle a little olive oil (about a tablespoon) into a large skillet or grill pan. Heat the pan to just over medium heat. Combine the turkey, veggies, cheese, egg, salt and pepper. Form the turkey mixture into 6 patties. Cook for 5 minutes on each side. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe is based on one I received from my mother-in-law when Handsome and I got married - they're his favorite cookie!

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 package (10 ounces) cinnamon chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat together the shortening and sugars until creamy.  Add in the egg, water, and vanilla and beat until incorporated well. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Gradually add to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the cinnamon chips and pecans. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire cooling racks.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Baby Food!

I have to confess, one of my first thoughts on learning we were expecting baby number four was, "I get to make baby food again!"  (That was after the slightly panicky, "But where are we going to PUT it?!") Now, the time has come! Our little one is six months old and after a steady diet of breast milk she's ready to sink her gums into some veggies! I'd like to start by saying I'm just sharing how I prepare like to prepare food for my babies. Everyone does things differently and that's cool.

I like to start with vegetables - sweet potatoes, acorn/butternut squash, peas, green beans, avocado, etc. After Lauryn has tried several different veggies and enjoys them eagerly, I'll slowly begin adding in natural applesauce, mashed banana, pureed peaches, etc. While I prepare a lot of vegetables ahead of time and keep them in the fridge and freezer, I mostly use fresh fruits. I do puree peaches and plums, but that's pretty much it. As she slowly weans, I will begin adding some dairy into her diet - cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt. The older babies are, the more they want to feed themselves. I usually put a few things on their highchair tray for entertainment and occasional consumption while I am feeding them. Cooked pasta, whole peas, diced cooked carrots, even plain Cheerios all work well. That slowly transitions to them feeding themselves alone!

Here's what I prepared today:
Green beans and peas (1/2 bag each); acorn squash and sweet potatoes
The squash and potatoes I roasted on a baking sheet in the oven for about an hour. After they cooled I scooped the flesh out (minus the squash seeds, of course!) into my food processor and blended them with some water.

The frozen veggies I microwaved with a little water, then cooled and pureed in the food processor.

"Whatcha doin', Mama?"
I poured each veggie puree into separate 4-ounce containers:

I don't bother labeling each container, since it's pretty obvious what's inside, but I do like to mark the green beans with a "G" since the difference in color is so subtle.
Green beans, peas, squash, and sweet potatoes.
To make this batch of food, I spent about $0.57 per container. That price includes the food purchased as well as 16 of the containers. Obviously, the containers are reusable, so the next batch of food I make could cost as little as $0.30!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Creamy Asparagus "Orzotto"

So y'all know how I am about easily adaptable recipes. For lunch today I used a variation of my Simple Veggie Orzo. I was in the mood for risotto and I knew this orzo would cook up much faster than rice, with less baby-sitting. This is a slightly less healthy version, but it was totally worth it! It's so easy that my three-year-old helped me make it, and so tasty that she helped me eat it! She loved the "diamonds" (almonds) and "spargasus". This was filling enough to make a nice lunch, but it would work well as a special side dish for salmon or steak in particular.

Creamy Asparagus "Orzotto"

1 cup orzo pasta
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cloves chopped garlic
1 diced green onion
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 cup chopped asparagus
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup havarti cheese (any cheese that'll be nice and creamy will work)
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Parmesan cheese
(salt and pepper to taste)

Saute the pasta, garlic, green onion and seasoning in olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes, then add in the asparagus. Stir briefly, cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes. The broth will absorb into the pasta, and the asparagus will have steamed to perfectly crisp-tender. To finish, stir in the cream and fold in the havarti. Stir until the cheese is incorporated. Top each serving with the almonds and Parmesan cheese.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tortellini-Meatball Soup

The only thing I love about winter is anything that helps keep me warm! Sweaters, boots, a nice fire, and especially warm comfort foods! Fall and winter are the best time of year to break out some of my favorite meals - chili and cornbread, beef stew with yeast rolls, potato soup, corn chowder ... well, basically any kind of soup. The recipe I'm sharing with you today combines classic, delicious flavors into a hearty soup. I have to say, we really love this meal. Our thirteen-year-old tried out several adjectives (some real, some imagined) like "deliciousness" and "awesome" before I settled on the boring yet descriptive name.

Tortellini-Meatball Soup

Chicken Meatballs
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 cups spinach, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 egg

1 package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 carton (32 oz) chicken stock
1 carton (32 oz) organic tomato soup
1 cup red pepper puree
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

In a bowl, mix together the meatball ingredients. Form into small, bite-size meatballs. Place on a wax paper-covered baking sheet.

Meanwhile, in a stew pot bring the stock to a boil, then drop in the meatballs. Cook for 1-2 minutes, and stir in the tomato soup, red pepper puree and seasonings. Bring back to a boil. Stir in tortellini and cook for 7 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Savory Sweet Potato Hash

I made an apple-marinated pork tenderloin the other night for dinner and I really wanted to have some kind of potato along with it, but couldn't decide between white or sweet - so I made both! This sweet and savory combination was just what I was craving. The apple juice adds a sweet background note that definitely puts this dish over the top. They were also the perfect complement to the pork tenderloin - this Apple-Bacon Pork Tenderloin would be perfect as a main course with this hash! I love to use fresh herbs when I cook, but don't always have them in the fridge. You can use a scant teaspoon of Italian seasoning in place of the herbs here.

Savory Sweet Potato Hash

3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, combine the potatoes and apple juice. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, and add in some salt. Reduce the heat and boil for 6-8 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and place the skillet back on the burner, reducing the heat to medium. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet; toss the potatoes in, along with salt and pepper, stirring to coat. Let the potatoes crisp up for several minutes without stirring - you want to get a nice crust on them. Add in the herbs and garlic along with another tablespoon of butter, then toss to coat. Give the potatoes another few minutes undisturbed in the pan, then toss again. At this point, they should be nice and golden brown! If not, just cook them a bit longer.