Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oven Baked 'French Fries'

Who doesn't love a side of warm, crispy french fries with their burger or sandwich?! As you probably know, the traditional french fries you get at a restaurant are made by deep frying cut-up potatoes in oil. Yeeeeeah... although they are amazingly yummy, french fries are pretty fatty and packed with calories. There's good news though; you don't have to swear off french fries forever!


There is actually a way to make french fries healthier so you can feel less guilty about indulging in them occasionally. All you have to do is lightly coat the potatoes in olive oil and bake them in the oven until they are nice and crispy! Making healthier 'french fries' is so easy... you can do this with sweet potatoes too!
  
Oven Baked 'French Fries'
makes 2 - 3 servings


Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet or cookie sheet with foil, then spray with a light layer of cooking spray.

Cut potato into 1/2"-1" wide strips or wedges (whatever size you want your fries).


Place cut potatoes in a large bowl; add olive oil  and toss well to coat. 


Lay potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Season potatoes with salt and pepper to taste.


Cook for 45 minutes or until golden brown, turning once halfway through.



Serve warm!

These Oven Baked 'French Fries' are so crispy, satisfying and delicious... I had mine on the side with a salmon burger last night. And then had the leftovers tonight (they reheat pretty well). ;)

Enjoy!

-Janel

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Baked 'Dutch Baby' Pancake

Happy Pancake Sunday!

This puffy, eggy baked pancake treat is called a Dutch Baby. The pancake puffs up as it bakes and then sinks down after it's removed from the oven, making the perfect canvas for any toppings: fresh fruit, maple or fruit syrup, peanut butter, etc.


Normally when making a Dutch Baby, the batter is poured into an ovenproof pan and placed in the oven to bake. I didn't have an ovenproof pan on hand, so I used a cake pan instead and it turned out just as beautiful and delicious. I used vanilla soy milk which gave the pancake some extra vanilla flavor, but you could use any kind of milk you have on hand. Enjoy!


Baked 'Dutch Baby' Pancake
adapted from www.sunset.com
makes 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Melt butter in a 10-inch ovenproof frying pan (or 9" cake pan) over low heat. Remove from heat.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and pale. Beat in milk, vanilla, flour, honey, and salt.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in a 425° oven until pancake is puffed and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. 


4. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.



A 'Dutch Baby' is more egg-y than flour-y, so expect a completely different pancake texture than your standard short stack of pancakes. This baked pancake is light and fluffy, but filling. It makes a great one-dish breakfast or brunch dish!

YUM.

- Janel





Monday, March 17, 2014

Thai Burgers w/ Peanut Sauce

It was a long week of St. Patrick's Day celebrations, I tried a lot of new (and traditional) Irish recipes! Since I had a whole bunch of cabbage and carrots leftover from my St. Patrick's Day cooking, I decided to go the Thai route for dinner tonight. It's been so sunny and beautiful out, using the grill sounded like a perfect idea. And just like that... the idea for grilled Thai Burgers w/ Peanut Sauce came to be!

 

If you like Asian or Thai food and flavors, you'll really enjoy this fun twist on your plain old burger. These Thai Burgers turned out AMAZING!! I made my own peanut sauce (recipe below) to top the burger, but you could also use a store bought peanut sauce.


The red and green cabbage, shredded carrot, and cilantro garnish really take these Thai Burgers w/ Peanut Sauce to the next level. So fresh and crunchy... I love it! You could opt for no hamburger bun to cut down on the carbs and just eat the burger patty, either way this dish is super yummy and satisfying.

Thai Burgers w/ Peanut Sauce
adapted from brookenotonadiet.com
makes 4 burgers

Burgers:
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp red chili paste (I used Sriracha chili sauce)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Directions:
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil grate (very important!). In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. 


Mix well and form into 4 patties.


Grill over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.




While the burgers are cooking, you can mix up your peanut sauce...

Peanut Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • honey or sugar, to taste

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, stir. Microwave on low for 15 second intervals; stirring well after each interval until peanut sauce is smooth. 
Be careful not to burn the sauce!!


To garnish the the burger...

Garnish:
I mixed chopped red cabbage, green cabbage, shredded carrots, and chopped cilantro to make a 'salad' to garnish the burger with. This fresh, colorful salad adds extra Thai flavor... and adds a great CRUNCH and texture to the burger!!



Place the grilled burger patty on top of the hamburger bun, top with the peanut sauce, and garnish with the 'salad' of cabbage, carrots, and cilantro...

YUMMMMMMMMM!

Well, these Thai Burgers w/ Peanut Sauce will definitely be a regular in dinner rotation this spring/summer. So delicious.

Enjoy!

- Janel


Creme de Menthe Grasshopper Pie

St. Patrick's Day celebrations just aren't complete without a green dessert! I was brainstorming a dessert to serve with our Slow Cooker Corned Beef Tacos on Sunday and immediately thought of the beautiful mint green Grasshopper Pie my mom makes during the holidays. In full disclosure, this pie is NOT low-fat or low-calorie by any means. So the trick here is not to over-indulge, just enjoy a smaller piece of pie. :)


This Creme de Menthe Grasshopper Pie is a fluffy, minty, no-bake pie with a chocolate sandwich cookie crust... that's super easy to prepare and has a festive color. Great for any holiday or celebration. This frozen pie is so ridiculously good it is definitely a crowd-pleaser!!

Creme de Menthe Grasshopper Pie
based on a recipe from allrecipes.com
Original recipe makes 1 - 9 inch pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9 inch) pre-made Oreo cookie pie shell
  • 2 cups marshmallow creme
  • 1/4 cup creme de menthe liqueur
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. mint extract
  • 3 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (for topping)


Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, whip together marshmallow creme, creme de menthe, and mint extract until smooth. Add 3 drops of green food coloring and stir (optional).

In a separate bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form, then fold into marshmallow mixture.

Pour mixture into pan and sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top.

Freeze at least 2 hours, until firm. Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving to soften slightly.


Be careful, it melts fast!


Oh yes, what a delicious way to finish off our St. Patrick's Day celebration!

So easy, so yummy...

- Janel

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie

What better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day then with Irish FOOD!?! Shepherd's Pie (also known as Cottage Pie) is a layered casserole that originated in Ireland hundreds of years ago. This traditional Irish dish starts with a thick meat gravy containing carrots and peas that is topped with mashed potatoes, then baked to perfection.

  

This was my first time making... and eating a Shepherd's Pie! I'm actually surprised I have never had it before, it's your standard "meat & potatoes" type of meal. Needless to say, I honestly had no idea what to expect when making this dish. It was not a very complicated dish to make, it just required quite a few ingredients! I was pretty excited to see one of the ingredients was red wine... this dish would be a good way to use up an open bottle of wine, or (in my case) it would give you a reason to open a new bottle! :) I used a normal glass of red table wine, and since the original recipe doesn't state exactly how many ounces to use, I went ahead and guessed on that measurement.


I can now say, Traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie is a warm, hearty, comfort food. If you are a lover of meat and potatoes, you'll absolutely love this recipe! This 'pie' has a thick, flavorful meat and veggie gravy that is topped with creamy, delicious mashed potatoes. This is one of those cozy, 'stick-to-your-ribs' kind of dishes. Great for a cold night!

Traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie
recipe via www.food.com
Serves: 4-6   Yield:1 pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef or 1 lb lamb (I used ground beef)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 - 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 large quantity mashed potatoes (estimating 6 cups, fresh or leftover)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400°F.
  2. Saute carrots in the olive oil until starting to get tender.
  3. Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.
  4. Season with black pepper and thyme.
  5. Cook until browned then drain fat.
  6. Add the butter and peas.
  7. Sprinkle with flour and stir through.
  8. Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce.
  9. Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to your taste. (I added a bit more butter and a dash more flour to thicken the gravy up)
  10. Remove from heat. Grease an oven proof dish** (9x13 works for me, as does an oval baker) with butter and add the sauce.
  11. Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using.
  12. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.
  13. Serve as is or with some crusty bread to mop up that yummy sauce!

My first attempt at Traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie was a success! This was one hearty, tasty one-dish meal!! I mean... who doesn't love meat and potatoes?! I think this cozy dish goes best with a glass of red wine or beer. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Enjoy!

- Janel

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins

In keeping with the St. Patrick's Day (and green) theme, last night I made a batch of these Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins. I am actually surprised I have never posted this recipe before, it is one of my favorite muffin recipes! 

 

For those of you "vegetable-haters", you can't even taste the zucchini in these muffins! I think they taste like extra moist, dense, delicious chocolate chip muffins. I used unsweetened applesauce in place of oil and reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup from the original recipe, so they are a tad bit healthier. These Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins make a great grab-and-go breakfast or mid-day snack!

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins
based on a recipe from allrecipes.com
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, drained
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Mix egg, applesauce, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in another bowl; stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.


Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full.


Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.


These muffins are so good warm, right out of the oven!



So if you are looking for a healthier, veggie-packed muffin that still tastes delicious... this recipe is it! They were so good with my coffee this morning.... YUM.

Enjoy!

- Janel


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

This week, all of my recipes are going to be dedicated to St. Patrick's Day. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the Irish holiday then with Irish FOOD! One of the most traditional baked goods in Ireland is soda bread... a quick and easy bread made with buttermilk and very few other ingredients.


Background information about Irish Soda Bread:
"There are many traditional baked goods in Ireland that have evolved over the centuries. From the earliest times, bread-making was an integral part of daily life in almost every home. Families lived in isolated farmhouses where most kitchens had only open hearths, not ovens, so the breads that developed were baked on griddles or in large three-legged black iron pots over fragrant turf fires. The aroma and taste of traditional soda bread is unique to Ireland, and it's become the established favorite with tourists and locals alike". Read more at allrecipes.com.




Instead of making a traditional soda bread, I opted for hand-held, portable soda bread muffins instead. These Irish Soda Bread Muffins turned out delicious! They are moist, dense, and the raisins make them just sweet enough. I made my own buttermilk (see below) and used caraway seed in my version of this Irish favorite. I can't wait to warm one of these muffins up in the morning!

Sláinte!!!

Irish Soda Bread Muffins
recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • baking spray
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 3 tbsp chilled butter
  • 1 cup 1% buttermilk**
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 oz raisins (about 2/3 cup)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray muffin tin with baking spray.

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and caraway seeds).


Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


In a small bowl, stir together buttermilk, honey, and egg until blended. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in raisins.



Spoon batter into prepared pan.


Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.

Remove tin and cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing muffins from tin; finish cooling on rack. Serve warm or cool completely and store muffins in an airtight container or ziplock bags at room temperature.


** If you do not have buttermilk you can use regular milk and do the following:
Ingredients:
Milk (just under one cup)
1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

Preparation:
1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.
3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.
from http://frugalliving.about.com

I didn't have any buttermilk, so I used the above method with fat-free milk and white vinegar and it worked great. :)


You can enjoy this traditional Irish bread for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Best when served warm.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

- Janel





Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats

Chances are you have had a Rice Crispy Treat at some point in your life. With all that buttery, chewy, gooey, marshmallow-y goodness they are definitely a well-known treat! With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, here's a version of the marshmallow treat made especially for the holiday... Lucky Charms cereal replaces Rice Crispy cereal for a festive, fun, colorful, and delicious version of the original marshmallow treat!



These Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats are so quick and easy to whip up. And... just look how festive they are! 


I can't remember the last time I had Lucky Charms cereal, so these marshmallow treats were fun to make! Nothing brings out the child in you like a fun, colorful, and tasty cereal. You really can't go wrong with butter, marshmallows, and Lucky Charms cereal... after all, "they're magically delicious".

Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups Lucky Charms cereal
  • cooking spray

Directions:
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.


Add Lucky Charms cereal. Stir until well coated.


Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. (I sprayed my hands with cooking spray, then used my hands to form, firmly pack the mixture into a rectangle on wax paper)


Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.


You could push the cereal mixture into a greased shamrock-shaped cookie cutter to make shamrock-shaped marshmallow treats! Or add a few drops of green food coloring to give the treats a nice green hue for the holiday too.

What a super easy, quick treat to whip up for a St. Patrick's Day celebration! The fun, colorful, luck-o-the Irish inspired cereal makes this marshmallow treat a definite a crowd-pleaser!

Yum :)

- Janel