Monday, September 26, 2011

Baked Goods are Made for Sharing

Somehow a search for healthy kid's recipes led me to pink lemonade bars... they certainly are fun... but not so healthy. On second thought, I promised baked goods to a friend I'm visiting this weekend.... yep, Thursday night this is happening.

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 24

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter - softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt

6 large eggs
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
Several drops of red food coloring
Powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment or waxed paper.
  2. Cream together butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Stir flour and salt together and add to butter. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
  3. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees.
  4. Blend eggs and remaining sugar until lemon-yellow and smooth. Add lemon juice, zest and food coloring until the color of pink lemonade. Add flour slowly, stirring constantnly so lumps do not form.
  5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until firm. To check for firmness, give the pan a small shake -- if there is little movement in the center of the filling, it's done.
  6. Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar before cutting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Adventures of Spaghetti, Butternut and Acorn Squash - Part 1

The only way I have ever eaten spaghetti squash (before today) was with lots of butter and some spicy, ground sausage... it was delicious! Today, I found a healthier recipe to try on my own, but it really lacked that oomphiness that I remembered. The water seeping out the bottom didn't help it either. However, I did get to use a melon-baller to scoop out all the "spaghetti" which was tons on fun, and tomorrow I am going to add some spice when I eat the leftovers and see if that improves it.  If there is no significant improvement, I will just have to accept that spaghetti squash needs a little more help than it's delicious cousins, butternut and acorn. I'll keep y'all posted... I'm crossing my fingers that there is a magical fix and I just don't know it yet... 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just Say YES to Spinach at Breakfast

In my attempt to give some store-bought crescent rolls a little boost of nutrition, these crescents are filled with spinach, Parmesan and caramelized onions. Plus, these little guys can be made the night before and refrigerated until breakfast time. This also means you don't have to cook (or eat) all 8 at once!

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (8 ounce) Open Nature refrigerated crescent rolls

Caramelize onions. Add spinach, Parmesan cheese, onion, oil, salt and pepper to a bowl.Unroll and separate the crescent dough into eight pieces. Spread spinach mixture evenly over dough to within 1/8 in. of edges. Roll up and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Check out this gooey deliciousness...
Adapted from:

Allergens: Milk, wheat, gluten, soy (traces of eggs, peanuts, tree nuts)

Getting the hang of leftovers...

I am the worst when it comes to using leftovers before they go bad. Not because I don't know how, but because I think I have a mental block against food that tastes worse the day after I cook it. Sooo... logically this means I have to make leftovers taste BETTER than they did in order for them to be appealing to me. These green beans were just humble microwavable steamed beans. But after a few days in the fridge, they magically became green bean salad with feta, pecans, garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There was a recipe, but I really just threw stuff on top until I was happy with it. A great lunch to bring to work!
I also did I redo of my favorite eggplant dish - Eggplant Caponata - and it was even better today when I had it cold for lunch with some organic blue corn tortilla chips! You have to admit, I'm finally getting the hang of this whole leftovers thing!

Monday, September 19, 2011

You gotta try it!

I enjoyed my dinner too much not too share!
Cut a whole wheat pita in half and layer with southwestern-style chicken, scallions, and part-skim mozzarella!
Stick it in the toaster oven until the cheese melts and top with fresh salsa... stick the other half of the pita on top and dig in!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kids have all the fun!

While working for a group in Baltimore Public Schools, my partner and I had to come up with recipes that could be made with foods found at the corner store and little or no pans or appliances. After doing some research at the local 7-Eleven, this is what we came up with and it has a lot of potential I think.

2 Bananas
6 oz low-fat or fat-free yogurt in the flavor of your choice
Two paper plates or plastic container
Popsicle sticks, chopsticks (optional)
Toppings, such as granola, cereal, crushed pretzels,
peanuts, chocolate syrup

Peel the bananas and cut them in half horizontally. Insert popsicle sticks or chopsticks in the bottom of the bananas at this time. Place bananas on the plate or container and spoon yogurt over top, until covered. Sprinkle your favorite toppings over the yogurt. Use your creativity! Cover with second plate or lid and place in freezer until firm (3-4 hours) Enjoy your frozen banana pop on a stick or eat it with a spoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lemon Perfection

I have a habit of picking up unusual baking supplies at the grocery store, just because I have never seen them before. Almond paste, poppy seed filling, dutch process cocoa, orange and lemon extracts have all caught my eye on one occasion or another. But of course I always forget the essentials. Without baking powder, unsalted butter or confectioner's sugar, I resorted to a lemon sugar cookie to fulfill my sugar craving. Compared to other untested recipes I've tried, this recipe was pretty successful. But I think they would be even better with a lemon icing or a lemon glaze, or even just some colorful icing on top! 
    1/2 cup butter, softened 
    1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar 
    1/2 egg 
    1-1/2 teaspoons milk 
    1 teaspoon lemon extract 
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    1-1/4 cups and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
    1/2 teaspoon salt 
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
    Additional sugar 
    In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar. Beat in egg, milk and extracts. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Shape into 1-in. balls or drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F for 9-11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool.

Cooking for one = Cooking for leftovers

Can I first say that it is great to be back in a kitchen I can call my own? Even working 40 hours a week, I've cooked and baked more in the past two weeks than I did all summer. Having a consistent schedule really helps, along with a few easy strategies.

1) Make meals on the weekends for the week... this feta and summer squash orzo with feta cheese and
basil was the first dinner of my internship. I had no idea how I would feel after my first day and I was grateful for anything I could throw in the microwave and eat. Luckily, I had gotten to the grocery store that weekend. Unluckily, the squash was less than fresh after a day in the fridge. Live and learn.
2) If you can't cook for tonight, cook for tomorrow... I also bought chicken that week, which needed to be cooked pronto. When I got home hungry the next night, I popped a frozen dinner in the fridge, and once I was fed, I figured out what to do with all that chicken. I ended up making my own breadcrumbs and using an egg and flour wash before cooking it in the oven. It took some time, so it's a good thing I didn't wait to eat! The next night I reheated the chicken in the oven with some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top, but it would also be good on a bun with some good honey mustard sauce, or my favorite, J.T Pappy's Gator Sauce.
3) If you can cook, make leftovers... sausage is one food I have a weakness for... it adds flavor to so many dishes, it keeps well, and there are so many interesting varieties. I normally get turkey sausage, but this past weekend, I found Italian chicken sausage with mozzarella cheese and I had to try it! I ended up on the Johnsonville sausage website looking for recipes and I found one with broccoli, onions, garlic, tomato, Italian sausage and pasta. I had to adapt it a little to use chunky tomato sauce instead of tomatoes, but it was still a great meal and it kept well even two days later!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New kitchen, Old recipe

I just moved to Baltimore so naturally I had to break in my new kitchen with a little baking! A friend from University of Maryland gave me this recipe for Chocolate Muffins and they always turn out moist and delicious. Plus, they are full of vitamin A and fiber. I wonder what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow?

Duncan Hines Devil's food cake mix
15 oz can of pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup water
Dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine pumpkin, cake mix, chocolate chips (optional) and water. Grease 2 muffin tins and fill them half-way up with batter. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, soy, milk