Thursday, April 19, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli

There is a Mexican restaurant in the town over from ours that have the best roasted veggies; they use them in quesadillas, vegetable fajitas, and just as a side item when you order healthier fare. Well, I love them so much that I actually order them as my meal pretty often. Now before you think ‘Wow, she must eat pretty healthy’ I should probably point out that I get veggies because I am sooooo ordering dessert. Wink.

So, how to recreate these delicious caramelized veggies? Pretty easy really, the same way I make my roasted asparagus, in the oven, only on a higher heat. An easy side dish to serve along with fish sticks and mac and cheese, and yes Baby Cakes and I do get giddy over fish sticks and mac and cheese.

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli

3 cups cauliflower and broccoli florets, cleaned and dried
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450.

Spread out the vegetables on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables in the olive oil to coat them.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a fork pierces them easily.

As I said above this is another super easy recipe for a side dish and the flavor payout is magnificent. Even Baby Cakes, my 'I only want a little' when it comes to veggies man ate seconds and raved about them. I cannot wait to make this recipe again. Whoever said that frozen or canned vegetables were the most convenient where mistaken when they left out roasting them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti Pie, have you ever even heard of it before? I hadn’t until a blogger I follow recently made it. The idea peaked my interest only I wanted to make it a touch more adult, although I won’t lie, if I had leftover spaghetti and sauce I would making her version but seeing how I am making all the components just for this recipe I am stepping it up a few notches.

My Mother in Law makes really good lasagna; I had it for the first time a few months ago and really enjoyed it, so much so that I plan on making it and sharing it here sometime in the future but for the time being I am using her idea of using cream cheese in the place of ricotta and making my own version of spaghetti pie.

This “pie” has 4 delicious layers, the noodle crust, a cream cheese and spinach cheese layer, the meat sauce layer and then the bubbling gooey cheese topping. It is phenomenal, a truly delicious play on spaghetti and lasagna mixed together.

Spaghetti Pie

8 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Meat Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound hamburger meat, thawed
13 ounce can spaghetti sauce

10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
8 ounce cream cheese, room temp.
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
black pepper

½ cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10 inch pie plate with butter, set aside.

Toss hot cooked noodles in leftover butter. Mix the eggs and 1/3 cup shredded parmesan together in a small bowl. Toss with spaghetti. Add the spaghetti to prepared pie plate and shape into a crust shape gong up the sides of the plate.

Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are just translucent. Add the hamburger meat to the skillet and cook until the meat is cooked through. Stir in the pasta sauce and heat through. You’re looking for a thick meat sauce, remember this is being used as a filling so it needs to be a firm layer when cut into.

Place the cream cheese in a bowl and combine with spinach by removing small amounts of spinach from the colander, squeezing vigorously to remove remaining moisture, and then adding to the cream cheese. Add the black pepper and the rest of the parmesan cheese and stir to combine.

To assemble you put the cheese mixture into the middle of the “crust” and smooth out. Top with the meat sauce and bake, uncovered, 25 minutes.

Top with the mozzarella and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, let cool about 10 minutes, then slice and serve, like a pie.

The end result was an incredibly tasty “pie” that was about the same amount of work as making homemade lasagna.

Would I make this again? Absolutely, we loved it, I am already thinking of ways to adapt it in the future. I also see this as a perfect halloween recipe with a clever name. It will be showing up on our table again in the near future.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes

Have I ever shared Baby Cakes’ love for scalloped potatoes? He would request boxed scalloped potatoes every night of the week if he could. I’m not really one for boxed potato side dishes, snob I know, but the time they take to cook would be much better served cooking something fresh don’t you think?

Well, the other day while scoping out side dishes (for a few reasons, one being I love side dishes, hence why I order veggie plates a lot, and another reason being it’s almost summer here (feels like it already) so the hubby grills while I make the side items) I came across this recipe for scalloped potatoes. Now, I’m not going to lie, my Dad makes a mean scalloped potato dish, so good in fact that the caterer for our wedding actually used my Dad’s recipe (don’t worry I will one day share that recipe with the blogosphere). However, this recipe looked really good too so why not try it?

Right out of the gate this smells fantastic. The garlic and onion powder blooming in the butter really plays on your sense of smell. I couldn’t wait to try these. Yum-O (to quote Rachael Ray)! Baby Cakes ooh’d and ahh’d his way through more than half of the casserole dish, but then again so did I. Although, I must say, my Daddies recipe is much better! Grin.

Scalloped Potatoes
slightly adapted from Cooking Mimi

3 large baking potatoes, cleaned, and sliced thin
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon ground mustard
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the baking dish(es) and set aside.

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Mix together the flour, garlic powder, onion flakes, and ground mustard. Whisk the flour mixture into the melted butter and cook for about 3 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the milk and cream; whisk out any lumps. Reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Take off heat and stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper.

Add the potatoes to the prepared baking dish(es) and pour the sauce over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is bubbling. Let rest out of the oven for about 15 minutes before serving to thicken the sauce as it cools.

A sidenote regarding the picture: I cooked them for 60 minutes, hence why they are a bit dark in color. I did change the cooking time in my recipe to be 45 minutes so that that doesn't happen to yours. Alright, carry on.

Now, if you’re feeding a smaller crowd you can easily freeze some for later. To do that simply split everything evenly into two smaller baking dishes, cook them both only let one dish cool completely on the counter; once cooled wrap tightly with aluminum foil and stick in the freezer. When you want to reheat it just pull it from the freezer the night before, let it thaw on the counter and cook, covered, for about 15-20 minutes on 350 degrees or until warmed through.

1/8 of the recipe equals 195 calories.

Would I serve these again? I sure would!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cream Soda Glazed Carrots

I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to share a carrot recipe with you all. First because this particular recipe is so good and secondly because I am a carrot junkie, we have carrots at least twice a week and I almost always order carrots as a side dish no matter what restaurant we go to. I love them and even if you don’t, or don’t know that you do, you will once you try them with this glaze.

Cream soda was on sale recently and because I love it I bought four 2 liters. As much as I would love to just drink a liter a day I am not really a soda drinker so I thought instead of just letting it sit there I should open one and cook with it. This is the first cream soda creation I came up with.

A side note: I remember the first time I ever had cream soda. When I was little, probably about 4 or 5, we lived in a home that my father built a living room addition onto. To get into the living room there were a few steps down from the old living room which they then used as a dining room. Well, my Mom would play games with us all the time. She would sit on the steps while my older brother, younger sister and I (the youngest three were not yet born) would play the games she created for us. For some reason I have never forgotten this particular day, we had just finished a guessing game in which my Mom put random little objects into a bag and had us feel the item without seeing it to guess what it was. There was always a treat once the game was over and when my Mom came back into the room with that days treat it was cream soda. I remember her bringing the bottle in and us just being so happy that we got to have soda. I loved it and have ever since. Strange what memories stick, isn’t it?

You can use ginger ale, sprite or the cream soda. I prefer the cream soda because it’s vanilla and I do love vanilla.

Cream Soda Glazed Carrots

2 lbs. baby carrots
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups cream soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, reserved

In a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat, combine the carrots, butter, salt and cream soda. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Once simmering, stir, and reduce the heat to low. Cover again and cook for 20 minutes or until a fork easily pierces a carrot.

Remove the lid, stir, and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream soda is reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes; stir in 2 more tablespoons butter until melted. Pour into a serving dish.

Serve immediately.

Everytime you lift the lid you get this whiff of fragrant vanilla, my mouth was watering the entire time I was cooking them!

As always it’s a wonderfully delicious recipe. I could have easily eaten the entire pan as my meal, and would have if not for my hungry hubby.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grandma Lolly’s Salmon Croquettes

I know I am a few days short with my posting, sorry about that, I didn’t have anything new to share. Apparently, I get into ruts every once in a while where ease trumps creativity. But, with the help of my Grandma I have a new (new to you anyway) recipe to share. These are just one of the things that Grandma always made. I have shared a salmon cake recipe before, I thought at the time that I might find my own recipe, you know start my own tradition, but truth is the tradition I had already was better than all the new recipes I tried.

Grandma had a few tips when I called her and asked for her exact recipe, you know for research purposes; don’t drain the canned salmon, that’s where the flavor is. You have to play the cracker crumbs by feel, start with a little and add until the “dough” sticks together in patties. Some people debone the salmon but the bones crumble so it doesn’t bother her. Also, cook them in hot oil; you want that crisp crust on them and if the oil isn’t hot enough they’ll drink it up. She once tried cooking them on a grill pan and they just weren’t the same.

If you don’t already know, my Grandma was/is my cooking teacher. My cooking style is mirrored after her and my Daddy, her son. I just love her!

Grandma Lolly’s Salmon Croquettes

2 cans salmon, not drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, diced fine
1 tablespoons seasoning blend, your choice
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
pinch salt
dash pepper
1 sleeve crackers, crushed to crumbs

Mix all the ingredients together until combined. You want to add ½ of the crackers and then slowly add more until you can form a ball that stays together. Form patties and set on cookie sheet to cool in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Heat about an inch of oil in a skillet until fry ready; gently place 4 of the patties into the oil and cook until golden brown on both sides; cooking in batches of 4 until all patties are cooked, makes 12 patties.

Let rest on a paper towel lined plate.

Serve warm either on buns with lettuce and cheese or with side dishes.

I can’t say enough about these delicious little salmon patties are. We had company for supper and even they gave a ton of kudos.

Also, as a little side note, these are one of Baby Cakes' favorite things to eat. The only thing he doesn't like are when I leave the little bones in. He and Grandma apparently differ in that one tiny area. I don't go crazy removing them all, as they don't bother me, but for him I do remove the majority of them. If you have picky children you might want to do the same. However, bones or no bones they are stellar!

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