Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Swing Bars

Why "Swing Bars"?  No idea.  I sat pondering that myself, and my best guess is that the "o" resembles a good round tire swing?  Or perhaps it's because you swing back and forth trying to decide if this is a healthy or unhealthy snack, or even if it is a snack at all.  You "swing" from sticky and deathly sweet, over to chewy clusters of raisins, cheerios and nutty roughage.  Your guess is as good as mine... or better. :)  But we're not here to discuss names, are we?  They were admittedly strange- they didn't "set" or actually turn into "bars".  They were just kind of blobs... but they were yummy blobs.  Truth be told, I'm still "swinging" back and forth trying to decide whether or not I liked them.  You tell me. :)

SWING BARS (From the back of a Hospitality Honey Nut Toasted Oats Bag)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups cheerios, crushed (ok- SO EMBARRASSED... while typing, I just noticed it said "crushed" and there is my problem, right there.  I'm sure that's why it didn't set up.  I really need to start examining my recipes a bit closer.  Anyway- don't miss that step like I did.  I'm ashamed. :)
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven 350. In large bowl, stir together condensed milk and peannut butter, Add cheerios and raisins. Blend well.  Press mixture into a greased 13x9 pan.  Bake 10-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Makes 2 dozen 2 inch squares.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin

Here comes another one!  Can you believe I did it- two meatless meals in a row... a wonder to behold. :)  I've been finding it difficult to leave dairy by the wayside-- I can totally amp up the veggies as long as I have enough cream or cheese to hide them in. :)  I'll keep hunting though.
This was actually quite delicious, all-be-it a bit out of season.  We didn't even notice that the meat was missing-- I was busy noticing the spread of flavors.  It's surprising how far a bit of pepper and salt can go.  It was complete comfort without the heaviness.  Great veggie dish!

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Manchego Cheese (pinchmysalt.com)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 pound peeled butternut squash, quartered lengthwise*
1 pound peeled and trimmed sweet potatoes**
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 cups shredded Manchego cheese (or Gruyère) (When I was at the grocery store gazing at the cheeses, I could not for the life of me remember what cheese I needed, but I knew it started with an "M". I ended up going with "Muenster", but was delicious, but probably quite different. I will be the first to admit I don't know my cheeses... and this was just proof. I'm ashamed. :)
1. Get Ready: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small pot bring cream and garlic just to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Butter a 9″x13″ shallow casserole dish or gratin dish of similar size and set aside.
2. Prepare the Ingredients: thinly slice the squash and sweet potatoes (no more than 1/8 inch thick) and keep them separate from one another. Measure out chopped thyme, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese and have them handy. Stir the cooling cream to help prevent skin from forming.
3. Build the Gratin: In the buttered casserole dish, spread half of the sliced butternut squash out in a single overlapping layer. Sprinkle the squash with 1/3 of the salt, pepper, and thyme and then about 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Using half of the sliced sweet potatoes, build a new overlapping layer. Again sprinkle with 1/3 of the seasonings and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Using the remaining squash, make another layer and sprinkle the last third of the seasonings and another 1/2 cup of cheese (you should have about 1/2 cup cheese remaining). Use the last of the sweet potatoes to make one final layer on top. Stir the garlic cream mixture then pour it evenly over the top of the gratin, being sure to cover the top layer of sweet potatoes. Shake the dish gently to distribute the cream. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
4. Bake the Gratin: Cover the dish with foil and bake in the middle of a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, move the gratin to the top 1/3 of the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the vegetables are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. You may also place it under the broiler for a few minutes if you wish the top to be a deeper brown (but watch it closely!). Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
Yield: 12 servings

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spinach Pastry Diamonds

So "puff pastry" is probably not the most healthy direction to go after the last post. :)  However, my most recent meatless post was in February... of 2011.  Yes, it's time, and this was meatless, and it did turn out pretty well, which is saying something with the spinach volume.  I will say that it made a big batch and for some reason, the left-overs weren't as exciting. :)  But we did get our veggies in and wasn't too hard to make.  Off to a decent start.

Spinach Pastry Diamonds (Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry)
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 pkg. (10 ounces) frozen choppedspinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup
4 eggs
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets), thawed according to package directions
1 tbsp. water

Heat the oven to 375°F.
Heat the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it's tender. Stir in the spinach.
Stir the soup, 3 eggs, cheese and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir in the spinach mixture.
Unfold 1 pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Place the pastry in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pastry.
Roll the remaining pastry sheet into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Place the pastry on the spinach mixture and tuck under the edges. Stir the remaining egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.
Bake the pastry for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Cool the pastry in the baking dish on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Cut the pastry in a diamond pattern to make 35 pieces.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Digress...

 I recently watched:
and finished it resolved to eat better. (Found here on hulu and instant view on Netflix.)  I've watched a few of these food documentaries.  I think they are fascinating (for example Food, inc.), but this one particularly stood out to me because it was backed up by so much evidence.  I don't  mean to be the one who jumps on "the latest band-wagon"... and yet, perhaps in this case, that's not such a bad thing.
I also just finished reading:
which admittedly was kind of a boring read.  I thought the first half of the book was interesting, but the second half was a bit tedious and repetitive- hard to get through; however, the underlying theme of appreciating our food for it's nutritional value and it's history, rather than the price tag, was powerful.  He encouraged us to think about what we are eating and where it came from- something we do too little of.
SO... I am now committed to really increase my veggies and decrease my meat and dairy.  Please note that I intentionally said "decrease."  I have no intentions of becoming a vegetarian, but for the first time, I am realizing the blessings of closely following my religion's "Word of Wisdom" (the Lord's revealed law of health for his children), where we are encouragement to "eat meat sparingly."  
LET ME TELL YOU-- it has been hard.  I've had to put quite a bit more thought and planning into my meals, but I'm happy to say that I have found several new "meatless" additions, and I have felt healthier.  I think what has surprised me the most is how satisfied I can feel.  There are actually some deliciously flavorful veggie dishes out there, even for a family.  If you have and good ones, do share, because I'm still hunting for some practical meatless meals- not the ones that make you wonder "where's the meat?" or the ones with a ridiculous list of unrecognizable ingredients, or praising the glory of tofu (of which I just can't seem to get excited about... I don't know, maybe give me some time... maybe.)  Anyway, I guess the bottom line is, more fruits and veggies are on their way. :) Not to mention a healthier family!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pop-up Pancakes-- Whole Wheat, Dairy-Free & Delicious!

If my face would have been comfortable pressed up against the oven glass door, that is where it would have been.  As a child, I distinctly remember WAITING FOREVER by the oven door for those pop-up pancakes to "pop-up".  It was fun watching my kids, particularly my 3 year old, get just as excited.  Mom made them for us often, but I think I have her beat on this batch, because I don't remember them being whole wheat (although ww flour found it's way into almost everything else that I can recall).  This is a breakfast favorite for me, because I can mix it up quick, throw it in the oven and get everyone ready and come back and they're all done... no flipping of pancakes... or should I say burning of pancakes. :)  AWESOME.  And, might I add, quite tasty. :)

2 T butter
6 eggs
1 cup rice milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven 400 degrees.  Melt butter.  Pour half of butter into 9x13 dish (I did mine on a baking sheet, and I think it cooked faster).  Using your washed hands, spread butter over bottom and sides of pan.  This works better than cooking spray.  In a separate bowl beat eggs well.  Then add flour and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients including the second half of the butter and mix well.  Pour into the greased pan and bake for 20-25 minute.  Serve warm.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dinner Short Cut: Pre-Chopped Kits

LYD's TIP:  I'm sure I'm "reinventing the wheel" here, but as a busy mom, I love to find any way I can speed up the dinner process.  One way I do it is by making a dinner kit to store in the fridge until that meal pops up on the menu.  This is a fairly simple concept, but I love the time it saves me!

*The above picture was my Homemade Chicken and Veggie Soup.  I just heat about 3 T oil in a pot, toss in my veggies kit from the fridge (You can use just about anything), stir to coat, and let them simmer.  I add about 2 or 3 T flour (to thicken the soup), stir, then add the chicken broth (about 1 quart) and chicken.  How easy is that?!  And healthy too! :)

Pre-Chopped Veggie Kits:

  • Chop the veggies for the next meal and throw them in a bag or Tupperware to toss into dinner the next night pre-cut.
  • While the cutting board is out, cut up a "Snack Kits" for the kids... or adults (heaven forbid :). (Celery or carrot sticks, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc.)

*Veggies that are starting to get old still work great in soups.  Good way to use them up.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Skinny Monkey Cookies

Looks can be deceiving.  I know what you are thinking- they look just like sweet, chocolate-y no-bakes, AND you read "Skinny" in the title.  Too good to be true?  Yes, indeed.  These are very much not "no-bakes", and it's not just because you actually bake them.  I just feel like I need to throw that out there, just so you're not as disappointed as I was at my first bite; HOWEVER, these are a healthy, easy-to-make snack that is made with ingredients that almost everyone has on hand. (At least you do if you've got kids.)  They're cheap and I'll even add, pretty tasty... when not compared side-by-side with a no-bake cookie. :)  These would make momma proud!

Skinny Monkey Cookies (Jimmie @ Onceamonthmom.com)

  • 3 bananas
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mash bananas in a large bowl, then stir in remaining ingredients. Let batter stand for approximately 20 minutes, then drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Freezing Directions:

Cool completely, then place cookies in a freezer bag. Seal, label, and freeze.
Nutritional Information:
47 calories; 7.5 g carbs; 1.6 g fat; 1.5 g protein; 1.3 g fiber; 1 WW PointsPlus

Servings: 30

Friday, June 1, 2012

Jalapeno Steaks

Time to pull out those grills.  Here's one to wake up your mouth with a burst of spicy Spring flavor!
Jalapeno Steaks (Allrecipes)
4 jalapeno peppers, stemmed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds top sirloin steak

Combine jalapenos, garlic, pepper, salt, lime juice and oregano in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Place steak in a shallow pan or large resealable plastic bag. Pour jalapeno marinade over the steak, and turn to coat. Cover pan or seal bag; marinate in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grill grate.
Drain and discard marinade. (I always pour a bit on while I'm cooking- I also added some of the sme seasoning after marinating as a bit of a rub.) Grill steak 5 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.
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