Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baked Apple Chips

I am so sorry for being away for so long.  I get very easily distracted and promise to be better about posting recipes.  I wish there was a better, cooler explanation, but unfortunately it's a combo of being too easily distracted by other "projects."  Food is what I know, and should always stick to.  Not that I have not been cooking, I have!  So here are some recipes that are winners in my family, including my incredibly picky daughter!  

Baked apple chips are so incredibly easy, healthy, and once you eat one, it's really hard to stop!  You can spice them up anyway you want, by adding cinnamon, a sprinkle of brown sugar, or even a little salt for a sweet and salty treat!  Here is the basic recipe, and you add (or don't) what you like best!

Baked Apple Chips

Preheat oven to 200.  Start with 1 apple at a time so they don't brown too quickly.  Thinly slice apple with a mandolin or a very sharp knife, 1/8 of an inch think (or as close to as possible).  Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet, and place apple slices on cooling rack.  Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours until the apples are dried out and crispy.  When you take them out of the oven, quickly and carefully lift from cooling/baking rack, and place on a plate or another cooling rack as they tend to stick if not removed right away.  Once cool, enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oven Baked, Crispy Chicken Nuggets

Fried chicken is the best, but definitely not the best for you.  I was trying to come up with a chicken recipe that was still crispy and full of flavor, like fried chicken, but with a ton less fat.  I was inspired by, believe it or not, Paula Dean, who is not entirely know for keeping it on the lighter side, but does with this one!  I have made a few changes to make it a tad lighter, but this is a recipe you will come back to time and time again!

I have actually been making this recipe for a while now, just using whole chicken breasts, but decided to cut them into smaller, bite size chunks, which makes it more toddler friendly.  Plus, lets face it, my favorite part is the breading, so with more of it around the sides (since the pieces are smaller), it's more crunchy and I get more of the delicious breading!  Cut the chicken into stripes if you are wanting bigger pieces.  You can also replace the chicken with fish, and get super yummy and crispy fish sticks!  The mustard and thyme would be awesome with salmon, and something different!  I hope you enjoy!

1.5 - 2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 - 1.5 inch pieces (try to be uniform so they all cook the same)
2 cups Panko bread crumbs (if you can find whole wheat Panko, even better!)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tbsp water
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and place a cooling rack on baking sheet.  Spray cooling rack lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  In 1 shallow bowl, mix panko, parmesan, thyme, olive oil, and a little pinch of salt and pepper till combined.  In another shallow bowl, mix dijon, water, and a little pinch of salt and pepper.

Coat chicken in mustard mixture first, then in the breadcrumb mixture, making sure to press the breadcrumbs on the chicken.  Then place on rack on baking sheet.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden and the chicken is cooked through.   Serves 4 - 6.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Very Veggie Tomato Sauce

I LOVE tomato sauce!  Give me that and some good crusty bread and I am good to go!  Tomato sauce is a wonderful and healthy sauce to have on hand, and I always make extra to freeze for the next recipe that calls for it.  I wanted to make this one extra healthy, packing it with veggies, and I swear it is so yummy, the kids will never know that it is full of healthy stuff!  Use it for spaghetti, lasagna, chicken parmesan, you name it!  This is definitely one the whole family will love!

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 bell pepper (whatever happens to be cheaper or on sale (red, green, or those little sweet peppers that come in all colors)), just make sure you have around 3/4 to 1 cup, seeds removed, diced
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over med high heat in large saucepan or dutch oven.  Add onions and carrots, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Then add garlic, zucchini, and bell pepper, and continue to cook until all veggies are softened, about another 5  to 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes (including juices), basil, salt, and pepper, and let it come up to a boil.  Once at a boil, place lid on, and turn down to medium low, and let simmer for at least 1 hour (the longer the better, I let mine go for 2 hours), stirring occasionally.  Then with an immersion blender (or you can do this in batches in a regular blender), puree the sauce until desired smoothness (I like mine just a bit chunky).  Use half for whatever you are making that night, and freeze the other half for another time!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh so yummy, Chewy Granola!

This one, my daughter can not get enough of.  You have to keep it in the fridge to maintain it's consistency, but every time I open the fridge door, she points and says "Mmmm, Mmmm," meaning "Give Me, Give Me!" This is a great snack that can be modified with whatever you like in your chewy granola!  Here we go!

1 tbsp coconut oil (butter can be used instead)
1/2 cup peanut butter or any nut butter you prefer
1/3 cup honey
1 cup rolled oats
*1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

*Note:  After the oats, you can use any combination of whatever goodies you want in your granola.  Just make sure it does not exceed 1 1/4 cups total (examples: dried fruits, seeds, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, etc...).


Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.  Spread oats and any seeds/nuts/coconut (if they are already roasted or toasted, you do not need to add the seeds/nuts/coconut) you are using on a baking sheet.  Bake until lightly toasted, about 5 - 10 minutes.  Be careful not to burn!  No one likes burnt seeds/nuts/coconut!

In a large bowl, melt the coconut oil and peanut butter (you can do this using a double boiler, microwave (just a few seconds)).  Mine, I can measure in a bowl, and leave on the counter for a few minutes in a warm spot, and with a little stirring, it is melted!  Add honey and mix till combined.  Then add all your other ingredients, except chocolate, mixing till combined.  I wait until the combined mix is cool (at least room temperature), then add the chocolate, so it does not melt.  Mix till combined.

Lightly oil an 8x8 baking pan (or 7x11, or anything around that size).  Spread mixture evenly and chill for at least 2 hours.  Cut into squares or strips and enjoy!  Makes about 12 bars.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shrimp Scampi with Green Onions and Orzo

Long time no blogging!  Well I have a ton of recipes ready to share, and this one is a goodie!  It may not be the most healthy (there is a good amount of butter and EVOO), but it is super easy and delicious!  Now if your little one is not ready for shellfish, or just does not like it, you can replace it with diced chicken, or just leave it out!  This is my adaptation of a recipe I got from Bon Appetit's Quick and Easy Recipes.  The Hubby and Daughter both gobble it up!

Shrimp Scampi with Green Onions and Orzo

1 cup orzo
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick), divided
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves peeled and minced
1 lb of medium to large shrimp peeled and deveined, uncooked
1 lemon (zest half and juiced)
1/3 cup dry white wine (optional)
4 green onions, thinly sliced

*can grate parmesan over top for added flavor (also optional)

Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, but with a little bite (8 to 10 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter with 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and saute for about 10 seconds.  Add shrimp and saute for 2 minutes.  Then add lemon zest, juice, and wine (optional) and toss until boiling. Cook about 2 minutes or until shrimp are opaque in the center.  Add green onions, the last 2 tbsp butter, and salt and pepper to taste.

Once orzo is cooked, drain and add it to the pan with the shrimp and sauce mixture.  Toss together and serve with grated parmesan.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Not only are sweet potatoes really good for you, they are also super delicious and a baby favorite!  The diced sweet potatoes are great for babies learning how to pick up food and feed themselves.  It's a little messy, but hey, babies just are messy and they think it's fun!  There are so many things you can do to this recipe, but I will share my version, and you can go from there!  Some suggestions would be to add drained and rinsed black beans, maybe some diced bell pepper, a little cayenne for heat, etc...  I do think it is important to make your own enchilada sauce so you know exactly what is going in it, and the recipe is so easy, you can always make extra and freeze some for later!  Here is a new twist on a Mexican night favorite!

Enchilada Sauce:
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp flour
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (no salt added if you can find it, if not, then do not add any more salt)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste, but remove some sauce for baby before adding more salt)

In a saucepan, heat to medium and add chili powder, olive oil, and flour.  Stir to combine and cook for about a minute.  Whisk in tomato sauce, water, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes so flavors can meld and sauce thickens a little.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion diced
1 large clove of garlic chopped
2 sweet potatoes diced (small dices)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro loosely packed, then chopped and divided
salt to taste after baby's portion removed
8 - 10 corn tortilla
1 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, garlic, sweet potato, and pepper and saute until softened and sweet potatoes have a little color (10 - 12 minutes).  Add half the cilantro at the end and stir to combine.

For babies meal, take some sweet potato mix (maybe 3 tbsp) and pour a little sauce over (or no sauce if giving as finger food).  Sprinkle with a little cheese.  If baby is still eating softer food (not ready for cubed food), you can always mush with a fork.

To build enchiladas, this gets messy, but is fun to do with the kids!  Spray a little non-stick spray or lightly oil a 9 x 11 casserole dish and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take a corn tortilla and dunk it in the enchilada sauce.  Take a few tablespoons of the sweet potato mix and place in middle of tortilla (like you were filling a taco).  Fold tortilla over filling, and place seam side down in casserole dish.  Don't worry f they fall apart a little or break some.  It will not be perfect, but tastes great!  Once all tortillas are filled, top enchiladas with the rest of the sauce.  The sprinkle cheese over the top.  Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Once out of the oven, top with remaining cilantro.  Serves 4.  Some suggested garnishes:  dices tomato, sour cream, hot sauce, pickled jalapeno, or whatever else tickles your fancy!
Completed Enchiladas

Baby's portion

Baby's portion mushed for easier eating.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pasta

Mmmm...  Goat cheese is one of my favorites, and funny enough, one of Rylee's!  Not sure if it is because I ate so much of it while pregnant, and still do, but I am excited that she loves it too!  For older kids, just don't tell them what kind of cheese it is (it's all mental), just that there is cheese in it, and I guarantee they will love it too!  This recipe is fast, healthy, and meat free, so if you are looking for a vegetarian night, here you go!

1 lb package pasta (rotini of fusilli, but even bow tie would work)
1 lb thin asparagus (trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
5 oz goat cheese (crumbled, but buy the log and crumble yourself if you can)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta 8 minutes in salted, boiling water.  Then add asparagus to water w/ pasta and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  I realize this is a little longer than al dente (having a little bite to it), but for the babies, I wanted the pasta and asparagus to be soft enough to chew/gum.  For older kids, you can cook the pasta for 8 minutes, and add the asparagus for 3.  Pasta and asparagus should then be al dente.  Meanwhile, add olive oil, zest, thyme, and goat cheese to large bowl.  Once pasta and asparagus are done, drain and add to bowl with the rest of the ingredients, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  Combine and add pasta water 1/4 cup at a time if pasta looks dry.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note:  For babies, I pull some out and cut the pasta and asparagus in half, so it is in more manageable pieces.  I also do this before I add salt, as babies do not need the added sodium.  Remember they do not know salt until we give it to them!  :)