Monday, November 19, 2012

Gingerbread Granola

This is the fourth granola recipe that I have made this year.  I enjoy making the different flavors and my family loves eating them.

The other flavors that I have made can be found at the links below:

Gingerbread is a favorite flavor at our home.  Each and every year we attempt homemade gingerbread cookies and houses.

My favorite morning breakfast is honey greek yogurt with a big scoop of granola sprinkled over the top.

I also enjoy eating the granola as a bowl of cereal.

I added this recipe to Capital Style Magazines list of neighborhood, teacher and friend gifts.  I think, in a cellophane bag with a big bow this would make a wonderful homemade treat.

Recipe: Gingerbread Granola

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/4 cup oil
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4.5 cups of uncooked oatmeal
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup blanched almonds
3 tablespoons flax meal

Preheat oven to 275.

In a medium sauce pan, combine first 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil.

In a large bowl mix oatmeal, coconut, nuts and flax meal.

Pour boiled molasses mixture over oatmeal mixture.

Stir well. Add to a cookie sheet.

Bake for one hour total time, but checking and stirring granola every 15 minutes.

Granola will turn a rich color. Remove from oven and cool.

Store in airtight container. Good for 2 months.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Creamed Mushrooms

This time of year, when the weather turns to the cooler temperatures and the leaves start to turn, always has me yearning for warm and creamy dishes.

When my grandmother passed a few years ago I was handed a large box of recipes.  I go through these recipes about twice a year and I am always amazed that I seem to find a recipe that sneaks to the top of the pile.

How could I have missed this recipe for creamed mushrooms?

It was hidden with some newspaper clippings that she must have found in a very old newspaper.  The list of recipes were filed under Scandinavian Cottage Style Cooking.

My grandmother was from England and lived in the US most of her life.  She never left any doubt that her heart was still in Europe and this is a fine example of how she would collect memories from her time living outside of the US.

The picture on the front of the article had a thatched roof cottage.  I remember she once gave me a music box of a cottage with this exact style of roofing.  Looking through the recipes I could see why she clipped the article.

The titles and many of the ingredients were similar to the food and titles that she grew up on.  I actually thought that it was a list of English dishes until I flipped it over and read that the articles were about the simple living and cooking styles of cottage living from 150 years ago in Northern Europe.

Why I chose this dish is simple, mushrooms are my husbands favorite side dish.   We don't eat  steaks without having some sort of mushroom side dish.  Usually they have been sauteed in butter and wine.  I wanted to try something different.  Could we have a side dish of mushrooms and not eat it with something else? Could it stand on its own?

My only regret in making this recipe is that I did not buy us more mushrooms.  The flavors were so simple and yet paired together amazingly well.

The hint of paprika and lemon juice turned a simple dish into a flavorful dish that could easily be served along.  It did not need a steak, it was not a second string find.  With this being said I found it the perfect dish to also serve over something else: rice, noodles or a baked potato.

I had just bought a bag of small potatoes.  I baked up a few and this is how we enjoyed the mushrooms.  Scooped over a hot potato that had first been buttered, salt and peppered.

The mushrooms were simply delicious and yet had this gourmet flair that could not be denied.

I hope you enjoy this recipe find from my grandmothers box of treasure.

Recipe:  Creamed Mushrooms
Recipe makes enough for 2 adults as a meal or 4 small sides/toppings.

4 cups of sliced baby Portabella mushrooms
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 (1/2 cup) stick of butter
1/2-1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup of sour cream
pinch of salt

In a large saute pan, melt butter.  Saute onions and garlic until soft.  Add mushrooms and stir.

Cook mushrooms for 3-5 minutes until they reduce in size and start to wilt.  Add lemon zest, paprika, dried parsley, salt and sour cream. Stir until well combined.  Do not boil.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Three Favorite Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving for those of us in the US is quickly approaching.

We just had our election and now we are moving on to preparing our menus, ordering our turkeys, and inviting family and friends.

I have made small and large turkeys.  Had a few friends and tons of family.

Every year we have our favorites and the oldie but goodies on our tables.

Through the years our recipes have changed just a bit.

Take the mashed potatoes as an example.  For the greater part of my child and adult life they have been made with basic ingredients: potatoes, milk and butter with a lot of salt added.

My sister in law, Amy, introduced us to a new way of adding a bit more flavor to this already traditional dish.

Honestly, we never looked back. It was a hit and I can't imagine not making them this way.

Below you will find the three recipes that we enjoy this time of year.  They are not hard, in fact, very easy but the flavors are traditional for this time of year.

Recipe: Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Makes 4-6 servings

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 stick of butter, soft
3 cubes of Chicken be exact you need Wylers
1 (5oz) can of Carnation Evaporated milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until done.

Drain potatoes in strainer. In the hot pot, add butter and bullion. Stir to combine until bullion is dissolved.

Add boiled potatoes and evaporated milk.

Using a potato masher or electric mixer, blend potatoes until smooth.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Sweet Potatoes
Makes 4-6 side dish servings

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350.

In a glass pie plate, layer the sliced sweet potatoes.

In between each layer, grate butter (this is a quick method to use) and sprinkle with brown sugar.

On last layer, add butter, brown sugar and salt.

Bake for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft.
Add marshmallows and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
I transfer to a prettier bowl to serve.

*I like to overcook my marshmallows until they are very brown and almost melted. This adds a nice flavor to the dish.

Recipe: Brown Butter Broccoli with Mizithra Cheese
Makes 4-6 side dish servings

3-4 cups of raw broccoli, cut into medium size pieces
3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of grated Mizithra cheese (can be purchased at Whole Foods)

Steam broccoli until desired tenderness. Do not boil, it will make the broccoli too watery and dilute the brown butter.

In a sauté pan, brown butter. To brown butter: cook butter over medium heat until the color slowly changes to a caramel color. Be careful to not burn. It will have a nice nutty aroma.

In a bowl, add steamed broccoli and drizzle with brown butter. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Mizithra Cheese can be purchased at most specialty grocery stores or in the cheese department.  It has a specific texture and flavor and cannot be easily replaced with something else.  It also works great over a bowl of pasta with browned butter and this cheese.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cannellini and Turkey Meatball Soup #worlddiabetes

Today, November 14th, is World Diabetes Day.  November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

It is a day that we as a collective group of individuals, who support diabetes research and know people who are affected by the disease, to rally together and offer our support and love.

Diabetes is a world issue.  More and more people, including children, are learning that they have diabetes.  We have come a long way in understanding why some people will and do get diabetes.  In some cases we can alter our diets and this can improve the situation.  

I am grateful that I am able to participate along with 40+ other bloggers and share a healthy recipe.  Our hostess is Carolyn from All Day I Dream About Food.  She has set up a special link party so that all of our recipes can be found in one place.  On top of that she is giving away a BLUE KITCHENAID MIXER…so exciting!!!

I am not a doctor nor do I have diabetes, this is just my experience with two family members.  

Growing up,  the word diabetes was just that, a word.  I don't remember ever hearing  phrases like "we need to watch the sugar in our diets" or "we should eat less bad carbs".  I never heard the word diabetes until I became an adult.  I did not know that certain foods were prohibited and that changes needed to be made or you could get sick.

As my grandmother got older she developed issues with diabetes. I watched my grandmother continue to eat or rather sneak treats.  She would have things hidden through out her kitchen and bedroom.  She was in denial for a long time.  She eventually did not have a choice and had to listen to her physicians to make some changes.  She was prescribed medication and learned to alter the way she ate.  It did not happen over night and she fought it for a long time.    Diabetes hits closer to home for me now.  My Mom is young.  She is 65 and must make some changes in her diet and with her weight.  She has, for years, filled her meals with bad carbs, sugar, soda pop, candy and sweets.  The over loading has caught up with her and now she is faced with some decisions.  

Change is hard, especially with food.  

I took my Mom to New York this past summer.  I don't live by my Mom and so I was not fully aware of how close to a diagnosis of the disease my Mom was until we were in the financial district.  Between high rises and busy traffic streets I turn to find that she is shaking, turning white and on the verge of passing out.  Her sugar had dropped.  She has hypoglycemia.  Hypoglycemia is an indicator of a health problem.  In my sister and I 's mind we already knew what the health problem was and I am pretty sure my Mom did too.

Having dealt with similar issues myself,  I understood what we needed to do.  We found a cool place for her to sit and I went and bought several snacks that she could eat.  With in minutes she started to feel better.  It took her 30 minutes to feel well enough for us to continue our visit to the city.  I was worried. 

This scared me.  I saw first hand what she had been dealing with for a few years. When we returned to my home in Maryland we tried to understand what she needed to do next.  The writing was on the wall for us.  I bought her snacks to carry with her at all times and we learned that she needed to eat more frequently.   I was glad that I  could monitor what she was eating and together we could  help her understand the healthier diet that she would need to consume.  I had 8 more days before she left my house and I wanted her to see that, if done right, she could feel better.  We talked about her going straight home and making the call to get checked for diabetes.  

I was worried.  I was seeing her future.  I was seeing my kids without a grandmother.  I was being selfish because I wanted her to be healthy.  I wanted her to buy the kit to check her blood. To stay on top of how she was feeling.  I wanted her to talk to a nutritionist to help her with her diet.  I wanted her to stop eating crap food.

I wanted to scream…CHANGE DAMN IT!  Please, change so you will be around longer and not die.

I know enough about diabetes to understand that you can live a full life if treated properly and the right steps are taken to find balance in your diet.  My comment above is iterated with a level of frustration. I know my Mom and her situation and so I do worry.  She has struggled for years to get the weight off, she is a stress eater (usually sweets) and she enjoys sweets.  Change is needed, but will it happen?

I can't make my Mom eat the right foods if she does not want to.  She must make the change not me.  It's hard being a family member and watching someone deal with diabetes and the onset of diabetes when they are not willing to accept that they have or could have it.  She did go home and had the test done.  She was counseled that she was border line diabetic and that changes needed to be made.  A few months later she started a treatment of medicines.

In writing this I understand that the only person I can influence and change 100% is me.  It starts with each of us.  We must listen to our bodies.  We need to stop pretending that fast food restaurants, processed food and that exercising is not vital to our health.  I believe it is.  We must become aware and do something.  I made the change.  I stopped eating wheat, I don't eat processed food on a regular basis, I exercise so I don't allow myself to get over weight.  I have experienced several episodes where my sugar dropped and that was all it took.  I felt awful during those times.  I knew immediately when I started feeling this way what my future would look like, I had watched my Mom and Grandma go through similar episodes and I refused to take that road. If my genes dictate it, I still could get diabetes, but I am trying to do everything I can with my diet to prevent this from happening.

It took three generations in my family for someone to finally say enough was enough.  I will not stop suggesting ways that my Mom can improve her diet.  To encourage her to fight through the urges of eating junk food in place of whole foods. To exercise even if it is only 10-15 minutes a day.  Changes can be made with help and support.

The efforts of such organizations as the International Diabetes Federation and American Diabetes Association help bring education, research and support groups to all of those suffering and learning to live with diabetes or those issued with caution to change before a more serious action is required.

The opinions expressed here in this post are mine, a daughter who is frustrated.  I love my Mom with all my heart and I just want the best for her.  My research into this disease has just begun.  I hope to learn more through the other post that are being shared today.  Awareness is a wonderful thing.

If you have symptoms of diabetes  or suspect that you might, go talk to your healthcare physicians. Try to stay on top of it or in front of the disease before it's too late.  I believe early detection and monitoring is one of the keys to success.

If you have been advised to cut back on sugar and carbs, then seek out a support group, do the research and make it a priority to get better and feel good again. 

I will say it again, change is hard. I know.  Keep fighting and surround yourself and your family members with support, love and hope.


This is an easy recipe with healthy ingredients.

Recipe:  Cannellini and Turkey Meatball Soup
Servings: 4

Makes 32 small meatballs
1 pound ground turkey
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of salt
pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1 egg
1/3 cup of almond meal (optional)


1 box of low sodium chicken broth (32 ounces)
1 can of canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thinly
1 carrot, sliced into small thin rounds
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
meatballs (see recipe below)
2 cups of bok choy, spinach leaves or chard, rinsed and cut into 1 inch wide strips
shredded Romano Cheese for topping soup (optional)

To make meatballs:  Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all of the meatball ingredients.  Using a cookie scoop, scoop meatballs onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes for small bite size meatballs.  If you chose to make them larger you will need a longer bake time.

To make soup:  In a large pot add chicken broth, beans, onion, carrots and oregano. Bring to a boil.  Let simmer for 6-8 minutes until carrots are soft.  Add meatballs and your choice of greenery (bok choy, chard or spinach leaves).  Cook for 5 minutes until greenery is wilted.

Serve soup garnished with Romano cheese.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Garlic.  CHECK

Potatoes.  CHECK

Parmesan.  CHECK

Oh how I love a good roasted potato especially in the cool months ahead.

As a kid we ate potatoes by the bag full.  My grandmother made the smoothest, creamiest mashed potatoes I have ever had.

In the mornings she would make fried potatoes with onions for our breakfast.

She added potatoes to her soups, her roast dinners and served little red boiled potatoes.

I think it may be our English/Irish heritage by we love any potato: red, yellow, gold, brown.

As an adult I try to limit how often we have potatoes in my little family.  For this reason, I am always trying to make the BEST style of potatoes.  We still love mashed but this new version is our favorite.

It is crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.  DELICIOUS!

Recipe: Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

8-10 gold and red potatoes, quartered
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of salt
Pepper to taste
2 large onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 400.

In a bowl toss potatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

In a large cookie sheet melt the stick of butter.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over melted butter.

Add potatoes to cookie sheet. Sprinkle sliced onions in between potatoes so that the whole cookie sheet is covered with either potatoes or onions.

Bake for 30 minutes, then turn potatoes and onions. Bake for another 30 minutes until they are golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Traditional Roast Beef

A few months ago I had a request for a roast recipe.  I had to be honest with the person and tell them I was a bit of a failure when it came to making a normal roast in the oven,  I know prime rib is a roast and I do enjoy cooking these; in fact I having been making one a year for 20+ years.  They turn out excellent and my family looks forward to this special dinner every December.  I don't know if the bone in the roast helps this particular type of roast turn out each time or not.  

I always associate the success of the prime rib because of the cut of meat that I am purchasing.  The price is quite high and I assume that it will be perfect every time ( that might be wishful thinking..LOL).  My family likes their roast rare or medium rare and so I don't worry about over cooking it.  I think in my early days I overcooked the roast.  I grew up with meat having to be "dead"or  "brown" which meant no pink.

I also have cooked all kinds of roast in my slow cooker.  I use this meat for french dips.  It is so simple with large crowds to add the meat in the morning, go and spend the day with family and come home to a roast that is tender and ready to be added to sandwiches.

Now a plain, simple roast cooked in the oven was for me a bit daunting.  In my early days of being a new bride I would, on occasion, buy a roast and try my best to prepare it in the oven.  Every time it would come out like shoe leather.  Cory was so sweet and still ate every bite…LOL

I soon realized this was not my cup of tea and stuck with my once a year Prime Rib and occasional French Dip roast prepared in a slow cooker.  

This recent request came as a challenge to me and so I wanted to try once again to see if I could make a regular roast in the oven.

I love, that with age, comes experience. My roast turned out really good this time.  I did not over cook it so it was not tough.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I let it rest for 20 minutes under a foil tent. 

I was patient with my roast and allowed it to be prepared the right way and not just slam it into a hot oven, take it out and serve it.  I believe these were the mistakes of my youth.  

The kids were thrilled to see the roast on the table.  I found that the next day when I warmed up the meat it was even more tender and delicious. 

I love my roast with a dab of horseradish and sourcream with every bite.  

This is a great resource for the types of roast and their various names:  HERE

Please share your recipes of success for Roast Beef. What do you do different?  How do you season your roast?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Recipe:  Traditional Roast Beef

any size Top Loin Roast
olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 425.

Unwrap the meat and coat with a thin layer of oil, I use olive oil.  Add your seasonings to the roast.

In a skillet or cast iron pan that is hot, sear roast on all sides.  

To bake the roast in, I use a shallow baking dish with a rim (the roast does drip during cooking). Lay roast in pan.

Put roast in oven and cook for 20 minutes at the 425 temperature.  

Reduce heat to 325 and cook until the desired temperature has been met.

I strongly recommend using a meat thermometer so the roast is not over cooked or taken out too early.

It will cook, depending on size of roast for 2-4 hours at the lower temperature.

Remember that the meat will continue to cook for a bit after it is removed from the oven. Cover with foil and finish side dishes.

Cut meat and serve.

To reheat the next day, cut slices and microwave until warm.  If you over cook it in the microwave it will get tough. You can also warm the meat up in a sauce pan for a few minutes on each side.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Shepherd's Pie (lamb) or Cottage Pie (beef)

Hello my pretty (see picture above)!

Yes, another all-in-one dish to end our week of yummy casserole style dishes.

I must interject a quick snippet of information here.  I grew up eating this version under the guise that THIS was Shepherds Pie, what I was actually eating was Cottage Pie.  So what is the difference?  That would be the meat.  A traditional Shepherd's Pie is made with ground lamb and a Cottage Pie is made with ground beef (the picture above).

I grew up eating this shepherds pie and to say it was my least favorite dish is an understatement.  As a kid I did not like my stuff touching each other and the thought of eating a cooked carrot was enough to make me gag, and gag and then gag some more.

I am sure my parents thought I was pretending, but I was not.  Carrots that had been cooked in my mind was like cryptonite to superman, they zapped my powers.

Fortunately my taste buds and sensitivity to cooked carrots changed as I became an adult.  Maybe I cook them different or the fact that I use fresh carrots and not frozen or canned helps too.

I decided to make this dish for my family when school started.  I desperately needed a few things in the fridge that the kids could grab and warmup in the microwave.  The problem is that when I made it they ate the whole thing…LOL

There were no leftovers.  The combination of mashed potatoes and ground beef kept them coming back for more.

This recipe is a general style of what you will find if you google the dish, but I like to add a bit of ranch to my mashed potatoes and I leave out the peas.  I know some recipes call for corn and next time I plan on trying that.

You can make this in a 9X13 casserole dish or use a stoneware bowl to cook the shepherds pie in.  I think this recipe would also make great individualized cups if you have the ramekins on hand.

Rachael Ray Stoneware 9x13 lasagna baker -white (Google Affiliate Ad)

Share with me your thoughts on how you prepare shepherds pie, I know there are a lot of variations to the recipe.


Recipe:  Shepherd's Pie

2 tablespoons of butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 pounds of ground beef OR ground lamb
4 tablespoons flour (I use brown rice flour for a gluten free version)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups of chicken broth
1/4 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups of shredded fresh carrots


2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of cream cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan ranch dressing (recipe below) or plain ranch

In a large stock pot, add salt and diced potatoes.  Cook until tender.

While potatoes are boiling, make meat sauce.

Melt butter, add onion and garlic. Cook 3 minutes.  Add meat and brown.  Add flour and tomato paste and cook 2 minutes.  Sauce should be dark in color.

Add broth, cream, worcestershire sauce and simmer over medium heat.  Simmer until ground beef mixture starts to thicken (6-8 minutes).  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 425.

When potatoes are done boiling, drain and add butter, cream cheese and ranch.  Using a potato masher, mash until potatoes are smooth.  Small pieces are okay, my family likes it this way better.

NOTE:  I do not cook my shredded carrots, they turn out just fine by adding them raw to the dish and having them bake.  You can also use drained canned or frozen carrots.

In a 9X13 dish, add meat mixture, a layer of carrots and finally the mashed potato topping.

Cover with foil.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  If you would like the topping to be dark brown, remove foil and broil for a few minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Recipe:  Parmesan Ranch Dressing

1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of finely chopped green onion
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt
dash of pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

NOTE:  If you wish to make this thinner, add a small amount of milk or buttermilk.  Shake or stir really well.

I have not tried substituting yogurt for the sourcream or mayonnaise, but this is an option if you are trying to reduce fat.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

229. Avocado Pesto Hummus Dip

I have tried to make hummus for my family off and on for years.  They have resisted on and on for years…LOL

They don't like it.  I can't imagine why.  I love it!

One thing they do love is guacamole and pesto.

I have seen other combinations of this dip that combine avocado's and hummus and decided to attempt
my hand at a version that my family would be happy with.

I sent small samples to the school for the teachers to test first.  I wanted to see if it would pass the "stranger" test, and it did.

All three teachers reported back that the flavor was rich in avocado smoothness and had a hint of pesto and chickpeas to make for the perfect dip.

I served this to my family under the guise of "guacamole"…I know, it was so bad!  LOL

Not one family member complained or snubbed the dip.  They loved the dip and found it to be a burst of creamy textures and combined flavors that paired well with a corn tortilla chip.

I was happy to finally find a purpose for the cans and cans of chickpeas I have collected in my cupboard.

Do you have that one item that you seem to buy every time you go to the store because you think you might be out?  Chickpeas seems to be mine.

Recipe:  Avocado Pesto Hummus

1 (15oz) can of garbanzo beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of tahini
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
2-3 teaspoons of pesto
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4-1/2 cup of water
1 cup avocado (2 small avocado's)
1/4 -1/2 cup light olive oil

In a blender or food processor add the first 9 ingredients. Blend.

Mixture will be thick, add olive oil to reach your desired consistency.

Serve with tortilla chips. Refrigerate all leftovers.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chicken Florentine, Individual Portions

 I found these cute little ramekins at Target right before Halloween. I had planned on using them for a recipe to be featured in the magazine I write for but totally forgot about them.

This would and will not be the first time I forget about a prop that I have purchased…LOL

My house is full of odd plates, bowls and silverware.  Nothing really matches and I rarely have more than two of any one thing.

It's a bit eclectic come dinner time.  I try to stick to basic white when it comes time to buy sets of bowls and plates in large numbers.  This makes the addition of all of my little mismatched dishes work in perfect harmony.

I have made this recipe before from the 2009 edition of Cooks Country magazine and it turns out great every time.

I decided I would make it again but do them in the ramekins.  It worked great and made cleanup so much easier.  Leftovers were a piece of cake.  All I did was cover them up with Saran Wrap and refrigerate. The kids could microwave the leftovers without any issues.

I served mine in the ramekin with a salad on the side of a large plate.  For the purpose of pictures and so that you could easily see the combination of chicken, spinach and sauce, I spread it out on a plate below.

When you finally add the ramekins to be broiled, remember that everything is already cooked.  All you are doing when you add it to the oven is melting the cheese.  The reason this is important to know is because you are working with a cream based sauce and over cooking it can cause it to break down and get runny.  It still taste really good, just not as creamy.

There are lots of recipes that can be made into individualized portions.  Some of my favorites are lasagna, shepherds pie and eggplant parmesan.

Do you have a delicious dish that you like to make in single portions?  If so, leave a comment below and share. I am always looking for new ideas of great recipes.

Recipe: Chicken Florentine
Makes 8 individual sized portions

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cups of fresh spinach, washed and dry
4 cups of cooked chicken, cubed
1/4 cup of onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups of water
1 cup of heavy cream
6 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Use a cookie sheet to line your 8 ramekins together. This makes it easier to transfer in and out of the oven.

In the bottom of each ramekin, add chicken.  See photo.

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and add spinach.  Toss for 2-3 minutes until wilted.  Add the spinach to the ramekins on top of the chicken.  See photo.

In a saucepan, a bit more olive oil and saute onion and garlic.  Add broth, cream and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Sauce should start to get thicker the longer it has simmered. Ideally you want about one cup of reduced broth/water/cream sauce.

Remove from heat once desired thickness has been reached and stir in 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice.

Add the sauce to the top of each ramekin, over the spinach.

Add the remaining Parmesan Cheese to each cup.

Turn oven to broil.  Add cookie sheet with ramekins and broil for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve immediately or pour onto plates and serve.

Monday, November 5, 2012

224. Greek Lasagna (Pastitsio)

I honestly do not remember last year being this cold.  I am freezing and we are only in the early months of a long and cold winter it would seem.

I have been craving casseroles; this one in particular, Greek Lasagna.  I call it a casserole because it is basically an all-in-one type of meal.

I love the layers, the meat sauce and the béchamel sauce on top.  Together the combination is out of this world.

Don't be put off by the cinnamon in the meat, it really gives this dish a unique and yet familiar flavoring.

As with all of my pasta dishes, I use gluten free choices.  My favorite are those made with rice. I don't like the flavor of the corn or the texture.

I had a bit of béchamel sauce left over and so the next day I tossed it together with some noodles, baked it and boy did my kids scarf that quick meal up.

Let me know how you like this dish if you try it at home.  There are variations of this all over the internet, let me know if your recipe is a bit different too. I am always up to trying something new.


Recipe:  Greek Lasagna

One box of elbow pasta, cooked according to directions and drained (I used gluten free noodles)
Meat Sauce (recipe below)
Bechamel Sauce (recipe below)

Meat Sauce

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons of tomato sauce (you can use paste, I just did not want to waste the rest of the can)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
1/2 cup red wine
1 (15oz) can of tomato sauce ( I used my 3 tablespoons above out of this can)
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese ( you can use Romano cheese too)

Bechamel Sauce

5 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of flour (use brown rice flour for a gluten free version)
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 cups of 2% milk
2 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of grated Romano Cheese
3 large eggs
1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil.  Add onions and cook until soft.  Add 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and cinnamon.  Cook until mixture starts to darken.  Add ground beef.  Cook until meat is no longer pink.  Add wine.  Let simmer until wine has reduced to about 1 tablespoon.  Add tomato sauce and simmer until thick.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Stir in romano cheese; salt and pepper to taste.

Remove meat from heat and set aside.

In a separate pan melt the butter for the béchamel sauce. Add flour and stir to combine.  Stir in milk and cream; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium so this can reduce down to about 4 cups.  Time will vary, but plan on about 15 minutes for this to happen.  Remove from heat once thickened and reduced, add 1 cup of the Romano cheese and stir until smooth.

Using a 9X13 baking dish, add prepared noodles and 2 cups of béchamel sauce; stir and smooth out in bottom of pan.

With the remaining 2 cups of béchamel sauce you will need to add the eggs and yogurt.  This step is delicate because you don't want to scramble the eggs.   In a small bowl, beat the 3 eggs.  Slowly add 1 cup of the béchamel sauce to the eggs, then take the béchamel/egg mixture and add it to the last cup of béchamel sauce.  Stir in yogurt.

Take the above remaining sauce and spread over the top of the meat.  Sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of Romano cheese on top.

Bake 35 minutes.  Let sit for 10 before serving.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Slow Oven Baked Ribs

Ribs are one of our favorite dinners to eat all year round.

I usually make our ribs on the BBQ grill outside.  Now that the weather is getting cooler and I don't really want to be heading outside,  I decided to make this batch inside.

I bought 3-4 pounds of ribs, coated them with sauce and prepared to let them cook for a few hours.

They turned out delicious!

The meat was tender and falling off of the bone.

I used my homemade BBQ sauce but you can easily choose your favorite brand.


Recipe: Slow Oven Baked Ribs

3-4 pounds of pork ribs
1-2 cups of BBQ sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Toss ribs and sauce together.

Place in a baking pan, cover with foil.

Allow ribs to cook for 3 to 4 hours.

If you would like to have a "grilled" look, then uncover ribs and broil for a few minutes, turn and broil again on the other side.  I personally like the bit of charred flavor that is added to the ribs by broiling them for a few minutes.

Brush with more BBQ sauce or eat them as is.

Recipe:  Homemade BBQ Sauce

Makes 3 cups of sauce, after simmering for an hour

1.5 cups of ketchup
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons hot sauce
1/8-1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke (start with less and add more based on your taste)

Combine all of the above ingredients into a medium size pot.  Turn heat to medium high and bring sauce to almost a boil, bubbles around edges.  Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

You will start to notice your sauce getting deeper in color, thicker and reducing.  This is what you want.

Sauce is good up to 2 weeks.


Molasses Cake Bites

I have cut recipes out of magazines for years, like maybe 30 years.  I finally went through all of my binders and sorted and threw out many of them.

I was amazed at how many duplicates I had clipped.  I really like anything with a white creamy sauce, ginger, molasses, pumpkin and pasta.  LOL

This is a recipe that I clipped from my years of subscriptions with Martha Stewart.  The original recipe can be found here.  Of course the original is not gluten free but mine is.

Working with my favorite, almond meal, I was able to create a spongy and delicious alternative to this yummy recipe.  ENJOY!

Recipe:  Molasses Cake Bites

1 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of tapioca starch
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/3 cup of butter
1/3 cup of sugar
1 cup Molasses, unsulfured
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a square 8X8 baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.  This will allow the cake to pop right out of the pan, see image below.  Spray the sides with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.

In a kitchen stand mixer bowl, add butter and sugar.  Beat on high for 4 minutes until pale and fluffy.

To the butter and sugar, add the egg whites and molasses.

With mixer on low, add the dry ingredients.

When combined, beat on high for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Smooth top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  The cake will have a spongy feel when gently pressed in the center.

Let cool completely and then gently flip pan onto a smooth surface, I used a cutting board.

Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares and coat in confectioner's sugar.

NOTE:  Do not stack the cake bites too high.  The weight will cause them to flatten and may make them stick together.  I would recommend storing them two high in an air tight container up to 3 days.  I stacked mine for the purpose of pictures only.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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