Mashed Cauliflower

Go ahead and try it, but I can’t make any promises.  This was not a big hit in our house, although most likely my attitude was the problem.  Please, send your success stories my way!

Directions

  • Divide a head of cauliflower into florets that are all roughly the same size.
  • Steam cauliflower pieces over boiling water (15 to 20 minutes), or until the cauliflower is tender.
  • Drain the cauliflower and toss it in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.
  • When the cauliflower has cooled, put the florets in a food processor along with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Puree the cauliflower on high speed until smooth, but with some very small pieces of cauliflower remaining in the mix for just a bit of texture.
  • Pour all of the pureed cauliflower into a medium sauce pan.
  • Add the cream, salt, white pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to the cauliflower and stir.
  • Set the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thick.

Apple Pie

I like my apple pie on the not-so-sweet side, but you can always add more sugar to taste. I also like it piled super high, so base the amount of apples on the size of your pie plate.

For the filling:

  • 12-15 apples, peeled and sliced in thin slices
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 Tbls cinnamon
  • Zest and juice of one lemon (use juice of 1/2 lemon if you want a sweeter pie)

Put all above ingredients in a bowl and toss lightly. Set aside

For the crust:

(This recipe makes 3 crusts, or enough for one two-crust pie and one one-crust pie.)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 butter flavored crisco (I’m going to try butter next time, but the right cool temperature and soft texture is very important)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbls vinegar–apple cider or white
  • 1/3 c ice cold water–really cold is the trick
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix flour, shortening and salt with a pastry blender (I haven’t got one yet; a fork will work too, just not as well.) Mix until it resembles little pebbles.

Beat the egg, water and vinegar together. Add to the flour mixture.

Mix lightly with a fork until it forms a loose ball.

Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out.

For two-crust apple pie, put the bottom crust in your dish and fill with filling. Top with 1-2 Tbls of butter, cut in chunks and dotted atop the filling.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and continue baking for 25-30 minutes longer, or until crust is evenly brown.

My brother insists that only vanilla ice cream is worthy to be served ala mode. I’m a more equal opportunity ice cream fan. Either way, enjoy!

Pumpkin Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chips

These muffins are delicious, a perfect snack for the lunch box or after school. I’ve modified it many times, and no matter what, they always come out tasty. And the chips? Everyone knows that dark chocolate is good for you, so relax, indulge!

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar (or 1c brown and 1c white sugar or even less white is fine)
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil (use applesauce instead; or try 1/4 c oil + 1/4 ground flax seed meal–very healthy and keeps the muffins super moist.)
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding –(or skip pudding and add flax to keep moist)
4 large egg-whites (or 3 whole eggs=more hefty)
3 cups all purpose flour (I do 1 c brown and 2 c white)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark choc chips (nuts if not for school, oats work too)
Cooking Spray

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Lighly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in choc chips.

3. Spoon batter into 2 (8×4 -inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Or–spoon half into 24 mini-muffins and bake for about 25 minutes. We do 24 mini-muffins which are perfect kid snack size, and one loaf.

Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans.

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Ton of tomatoes
  • Diced onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Dash or more of dry red wine
  • Sage and Basil leaves, and/or crushed oregano
  • Pepper to taste (or red pepper flakes if you like a kick)

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onions wilt, about 5-8 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine, add the tomatoes, and the spices, and bring to a boil. You can reduce the heat right away to low, or if there is a lot of extra liquid, let it boil, uncovered for another 5-10 minutes. Then let simmer for at least an hour over low heat.

I’m no little Italian grandmother, but it seems to me it’s tough to go wrong with this. If I have fresh herbs, I add those. If I have mushrooms, I’ll add those too. As far as I’m concerned, if you start with fresh tomatoes and you’ve got red wine, you’re looking at a winning combination either way.

Use right away, put in the fridge for up to a week, or let cool and freeze in jars.

Eggplant layers

I am a new lover of eggplant. I never could stand the stuff growing up, but I tried this yummy appetizer at Grandma’s house and came home determined to replicate it. I think I came pretty close. It would work sliced small as an appetizer, but I served it in big pieces for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant, peeled and sliced thin
  • Summer squash, sliced thin (optional)
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Sage leaves
  • Tomatoes
  • Roasted red peppers
  • balsamic vinegar
  • small bowl each of milk, flour, and breadcrumbs

To Do:

  1. Dredge the eggplant and squash slices in flour, then milk, then breadcrumbs. Fry briefly on each side and set aside on towel to dry.
  2. Place eggplant and squash in a casserole dish. Layer alternatively with cheese, sage leaves, tomatoes and red peppers.
  3. I drizzle the balsamic on top of the cheese, or on top of the eggplant. Just a splash to kick up the flavor a notch or two, you know, like Emeril would do.
  4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage

This is one of the very few dishes that I truly adore as leftovers. The flavors continue to come together as it sits in the fridge. It’s super good, I promise.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 12 large sage leaves
  • 4 chicken sausages, cooked
  • 1 lb. pasta (orecchiette, penne, or fusilli)
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 4 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss the squash with the diced onion and 1 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with the brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet until tender and caramelized, about 40 minutes.

Place the 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, fry the sage leaves six at a time until the oil stops sizzling and the edges are crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Reserve the olive oil.

Cook the pasta al dente in salted water. Drain. Put the pasta back in the pot over low heat and add the squash, sausage/bacon, chicken stock, and olive oil. Stir well. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve hot with crushed sage leaves sprinkled on top.

Chocolate chip Strawberry Bread

  • 1 cup flour (I use about 1/3 cup wheat flour, the rest white)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ stick butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of strawberry puree
  • 1 cup of sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Mix together the first three dry ingredients.

Mix together the next 5 wet ingredients, then add the dry into the wet.

Stir in the berries, the oats and the chocolate chips. Pour into a greased loaf pan.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Confetti Cookies (shhh, there’s zucchini in there)

I borrowed this recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but I think it would work just as well to add the cup of zucchini to your go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used about ¼ cup more)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • 12 oz chocolate chips

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Stir these into other ingredients, mix well.

Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes.

Raspberry Parfaits

This is a trick, but it’s one my kids fall for and adore and best of all devour, so what’s the harm? I’ll even make them in a wine glass, which makes them feel grown-up and seems to encourage even more eating.

Ingredients:

  • Yogurt–Plain Greek yogurt (Faje) is my kids favorite, but tends to be pricey unless you hit a sale, but any kind will work.
  • Raspberries
  • Sliced bananas
  • Wheat germ or ground Flax seed – blends in well and adds nutrition without offending young taste buds
  • Diced nuts (optional)

Start with the yogurt and then add the fruit, nuts and seeds in alternating layers. Top with a dollop of yogurt and a berry.

Sometimes I’ll hide a single chocolate chip in one of the layers. The kids act like they’ve struck gold when they find it.

Super Easy Freezer-style Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

This jam is incredible, and incredibly easy if, like us, you weren’t raised down south steeping jars in vats of bubbling water while okra grew out back. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know good jam when we taste it.

We use the No/Low Sugar Needed Sure Jell Pectin and mostly followed the freezer jam recipe. The regular was too sweet, and you can’t just add less sugar—chemistry or something I guess.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package No/Low Sugar Sure Jell Pectin
  • 3 cups of diced and crushed strawberries
  • 1 cup diced rhubarb
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Measure fruit into bowl.
  2. Measure sugar into large pot.
  3. Stir pectin into sugar until mixed well.
  4. Stir in water and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once it boils, stir 1 more minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Add fruit to pectin mixture and stir well.
  6. Pour into containers (I use the old school wide mouth bell jars, because they are super cool)
  7. Let stand, covered for 24 hours at room temp. Freeze until ready and thaw in the fridge.