Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Recipe: Cranberry Brie Bites

It's been hard to find time to blog...and time to cook for three kids under age seven. Most nights I'm a short order cook. No one eats at the same time and certainly no one eats the same meal.

Enter Memorial Day weekend when we are invited to our first BBQ in our new neighborhood. I wanted to be a good guest and bring something special but it's tough to cook with a toddler underfoot. I had saved this appetizer recipe from a recent Stonewall Kitchen order and decided to try it. It was a huge hit at the party and I looked like a cooking goddess! (Which I'm not.)

And the numbers are great for CFers! Just one-sixth of a sheet of puff pastry has ten grams of fat, including five grams of saturated fat. Brie isn't the fattiest cheese but certainly packs a punch at 25% of the daily recommend value. 

The hardest part of the recipe was figuring out which cooler the puff pastry sheets were in at the grocery store. When working with puff pastry, make sure it's thawed all the way before your start working with it because it makes it easier to mold.

Photo from Stonewall Kitchen
1. One package of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (two sheets in one box)
2. One Brie triangle, rind trimmed off
3. Your favorite jam or chutney. I made mine with Stonewall Kitchen's apple cranberry chutney.
4. A mini muffin tin (if you don't have a mini muffin tin I highly recommend buying one, I'm always coming across recipes that use a mini muffin tin).

Unfold the puff pastry sheets and cut each sheet along the fold. Then cut each strip into three squares so you have a total of 18 squares.
Make sure the dough is thawed, then press each square into a spot in the mini muffin tin.
Top with one-inch pieces of brie followed by a teaspoon of your favorite jam or chutney.
Bake at 375F for 10-12 minutes until the edges of the puff pastry brown lightly. Make sure to cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes. They are best eaten after they have cooled off but are still warm.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Recipe: (Divine) Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Feel like I hit the jackpot with this recipe.  I needed to use up a few sweet potatoes purchased as an “impulse buy” at the grocery store a couple weeks ago. And this was a much easier recipe to make than the other sweet potato recipe that I found a while back.

This recipe uses ingredients you probably already have in your own CF kitchen.  Minimal prep, simple ingredients, one pot! Plus this particular recipe is higher in fat from the dairy ingredients and lower in sugar from the minimal use of sugary ingredients.

Cleveland Clinic did a great comparison between sweet potatoes and white potatoes and found that sweet potatoes are lower in total carbs even though they pack more sugar. The bonus is that sweet potatoes pack more vitamins and fiber – both important to CF digestion.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces  
2 tablespoons heavy cream  (I used the half n half we give to my CFer to drink)
1/2 teaspoon salt  
1 teaspoon sugar (I used white sugar)
2  lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch-thick (about 2 large or 3 medium-small potatoes)
Nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper to taste

Combine butter, cream, salt, sugar, and sweet potatoes in large saucepan. Cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart when poked with fork. This will take between 30 to 45 minutes. Take off heat and mash sweet potatoes in saucepan with potato masher.You can also put potatoes into kitchen aid mixer and mix. Stir in nutmeg, cinnamon and/or pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


Don’t turn the heat up too high – low or medium low heat will do the trick. Just be patient, it took a full 40-45 minutes for  our potatoes to soften.

This recipe says it serves four and it does serve four decent-sized side portions but for a larger family dinner, you would need to double it for sure.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Recipe: Cheesy Chicken Meatballs

Cheesy Chicken Meatballs
As a mom of a CFer, I’m always looking for great ways to combine meat and cheese for that extra fat. And as a full-time working mom of a CFer, if I can find a recipe that can be made during treatment times, even better!

I found the original recipe on AllRecipes.com but it was a little too spicy for the kids. But if you like the taste of Italian chicken sausage, you can’t go wrong with the original version.

The recipe was easy to make but is deceiving. The mixture will actually seem too wet when forming the meatballs but don’t overcook them because they can dry out quickly. If your meatballs look lopsided, just spray your hands with a little cooking spray and reshape once they are on the baking sheet. Or use a cookie scoop with a trigger release to form the meatballs without getting your hands too dirty.

I struggled with what to serve these with but ended up drizzling them with marinara sauce and serving with a cheese garlic bread. These would probably do well in a stroganoff sauce or chicken-based gravy served over egg noodles, or as a meatball sub slathered with marinara sauce and topped with provolone or American cheese.  Could also toss with bow-tie pasta and spinach in a light alfredo sauce for a hearty dish.

Original recipe makes 20 meatballs about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter

1 pound ground chicken
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Philly cream cheese chives and onion spread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon minced garlic from the jar
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1.Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray.

2.Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the wet ingredients, followed by the ground chicken; mix well. Form mixture into 20 meatballs; place on prepared pan.

3.Bake in center of preheated oven until juices run clear, 17 to 18 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

Monday, September 1, 2014

Recipe: Minestrone Vegetable Soup

It's Labor Day here and I have the urge to make some soup for fall. The boys start school this week and I'm trying to pack my freezer with easy meals to thaw/reheat.

This veggie soup is pretty hearty but I wouldn't call it a stew. My advice is to make it exactly as planned and then if you feel it needs more salt, heap on the parmesan cheese for the extra calories and sodium.

Minestrone Vegetable Soup

Note this recipe halves nicely but I make the full amount and freeze it for the fall.

8 cups chicken broth (2 quarts)
2 cans of cannellini beans (or kidney beans if you prefer)
3-4 carrots (1 cup chopped)
2 stalks celery (½ cup chopped)
1 white onion (1 cup minced)
2 large potatoes (3 cups cubed)
2 cans of petite diced tomatoes (we prefer the Italian spiced ones)
8 tbsp butter
1 cup frozen spinach
1 can tomato paste
4 cloves garlic (I used the pre-minced kind and measure it by the instructions on the jar)
4 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp beef bouillon paste (for that beefy minestrone taste)
1 ½ cups ditalini pasta (can sub in elbow, shell or other small macaroni)
½ to 1 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese for topping

 In a large pot, saute butter, onion, celery, carrots. Then add all other ingredients except the pasta and cheese. Bring pot to boil and simmer for 1 hour. Then add the pasta and simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese on top.

Freezing tip: Coat the inside of the container with olive oil before adding the soup, it will prevent your freezer container from permanent stains.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Recipe: Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes but wanted to stay away from the traditional sugared-up versions found on many recipe sites. So I was thrilled to find thisgreat option for scalloped sweet potatoes on the Tasty Kitchen Blog.

But…I’ll be honest; I struggled with the preparation part. It calls for sweet potatoes cut in ¼ inch slices. I’m terrified of knives so my slices ended up more like ½ inch thick with various levels of thickness in each slice. So it kind of turned out crappy. It’s really important to get the sweet potatoes as thin and consistent as possible for the best cooking results.
What is the secret to getting these so thin?

2 pounds sweet potatoes (I just used two large sweet potatoes)
5 strips bacon
½ white onion, chopped finely (add more if you like onion)
2-½ tablespoons white flour
½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons black pepper
1 cup Half N Half
1 cup skim milk
1-¼ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch slices or thinner. Place potatoes in a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Don’t overcook! Drain well and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel, crumble and set aside.
3. Add chopped onion to bacon drippings and cook until tender. Stir in flour over low heat and cook to a paste. Add salt and pepper. Add milk and cook until mixture thickens slightly.
4. Arrange half of the sweet potatoes in the bottom of an 11×7 inch baking dish. Sprinkle on half of the crumbled bacon. Pour on half of the milk mixture. Arrange remaining potatoes, sprinkle with remaining bacon and pour the rest of the milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. If desired, brown cheese for 1-2 minutes under the broiler.

I use thislittle chopper to mince up the onion – works great!
I had some leftover bacon from my Turkey Meatloaf recipe so I cooked it ahead of time and forgot to save the bacon fat. So I just used a bit of olive oil to fry the onion in.
I would not recommend leaving out the bacon or the onion – the parmesan cheese is a nice touch but the recipe still needs all the flavor it can get. I still think it needs a bit of savory zip in there somewhere so was going to experiment with some herbs next time around.
Potluck tip: if prepared in advance, bake as directed, cover and refrigerate for up to one day. Reheat at 325 degrees for 15 minutes covered, then remove cover and continue heating until warm.