Name: Elisa, aka "YourChef23"

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    Mediterranean-Style Baked Cod en Papillote

    January 5th, 2017

    Here is a quick and healthy weeknight dinner that is absolutely full of flavor.  As an added bonus, clean up could not be any easier!  This recipe works well with just about any side dish you can think of.  For a really nice presentation, pair it with these light and easy cucumber noodles with fresh pesto.

    Servings: 4 Total Prep Time:  20 minutes

    Ingredients:

    • 4 (5-6 oz.) cod fillets
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • grape tomatoes, washed and sliced
    • 1/2 c. fresh or bottled pesto*

    *see Fresh Basil Pesto recipe

    Directions:

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut parchment paper into 4 large squares (approximately 12” x 12”).

    On a flat surface, place a cod fillet on one square, positioning it toward the bottom center of the paper. Sprinkle both sides of cod with salt and pepper.  Top the fillet with sliced tomatoes and a drizzle of pesto.

    Fold the parchment paper in half and seal the bottom edge by tightly folding where the two halves come together. Repeat on each side. Set the sealed pack on lined baking sheet and repeat process with remaining 3 cod fillets. When finished, place baking sheet in pre-heated oven on center rack and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

     

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    Cucumber Noodles with Fresh Pesto

    January 5th, 2017

    This super easy low-carb dish is a great way to savor the delicious, natural flavors of fresh cucumber, basil, garlic, and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy this dish on its own, or top with your favorite lean protein, such as grilled chicken or steamed fish, for a more satisfying meal.

    Tip: For best results, use seedless cucumbers that are at least 1½” thick.

    Ingredients

    • 4 large firm seedless cucumbers, peeled
    • 1/2 c. fresh pesto* (link to recipe below)
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    Special equipment: vegetable spiral slicer, such as the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiral Slicer, the OXO Spiral Vegetable Slicer, or Pampered Chef Veggie Spiralizer

    *Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

    Directions: 

    Prepare fresh basil pesto per instructions. Using a spiral slicer, cut cucumbers into thick, long noodles. (If using the Paderno Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiral Slicer, use the medium “chipper” blade to create slightly thicker strands).

    Cut the noodles with kitchen scissors once they reach 10-12” long. Place cut noodles on paper or clean kitchen towels and gently blot to absorb excess moisture.

    Place cucumber noodles in a medium, non-reactive bowl and top with fresh pesto. Toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve immediately.

    Servings: 4 servings Total Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    Fresh Basil Pesto

    January 5th, 2017

    This versatile, no-cook sauce can be enjoyed with many of your favorite pasta, fish, chicken, soup, or vegetable recipes.

    Most modern recipes, including this one, call for making pesto with a food processor to combine the ingredients. This method works well, but produces a very homogenized final result.  For a more traditional approach, try hand-chopping the individual ingredients.  The individual components will be less uniform, resulting in more distinct individual flavors among each bite.

    Ingredients
    2 c. fresh basil, loosely packed
    1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
    2–3 garlic cloves, peeled (amount based on personal taste and strength of garlic variety used).
    1/3 c. plus 2 T. really good extra virgin olive oil
    2/3 c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
    Salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions
    Remove basil leaves from stems, then wash and pat dry. Add basil, pine nuts, and peeled garlic gloves to food processor or blender. Quickly pulse until barely combined, then add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and blend thoroughly.

    Transfer to a medium glass bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil to achieve the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Use immediately. Freeze leftovers in ice cube trays covered with a layer of olive oil. Once frozen, remove “pesto cubes” from trays and store in freezer-safe plastic bags for future use in soups or stews.

     

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    Healthier Banana Bread

    January 5th, 2017

    Just because we’re going a little healthier doesn’t mean the flavor or texture is going to be ruined. I’ve updated my recipe to go half whole wheat flour (although it’s also good with all whole wheat flour), swapped out the oil for apple sauce and decreased the flour and sugar a little bit.

    This recipe makes 2 loaves because it goes so fast in our house. It’s quick to make and this way you can freeze a loaf. Just let it cool completely, then wrap it in plastic wrap and then tightly with aluminum foil. Don’t forget to mark what it is and the date before you freeze it!

    My hubby has become addicted to banana bread. When we were at the grocery store last week they had a tub of bananas on clearance and it even said “Make Banana Bread” by them.  Of course, in our basket they go!  For a tasty treat, try a slice of banana bread with a little peanut butter on it!  A great snack.

    Healthier Banana Bread
    Author:
    Recipe type: dessert
    Serves: 20
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups whole wheat flour
    • 2½ cups white flour
    • 7 tsps baking powder
    • 1½ tsp salt
    • 8 Tbsp apple sauce
    • 1½ cups milk of any kind, dairy, soy, rice, almond
    • 2 eggs
    • 3 tsps vanilla
    • 2 cups finely chopped nuts
    • 2+ cups mashed bananas (about 6 medium)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Combine flours, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
    3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until all ingredients are wet. You don't want pockets of dry ingredients in your bread.
    4. Grease two 9x5 bread pans or four 8x4 pans. I just spray them with cooking spray and make sure to get the corners.
    5. Bake 55-65 minutes at 350 degrees.
    Notes
    I have also used gluten free flours instead of white and had the recipe turn out great.

     

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    HAPPY THANKSGIVING LEFTOVER DAY!

    November 28th, 2016

    turkey-tetI love Thanksgiving!   Family, friends, football and a weekend of wonderful delicious food.  One of the best parts of the weekend is the leftovers!   If you are lucky you will have so much left over you will be able to make an assortment of new dishes for the week ahead and for your freezer.  One thing for sure – there are so many options to choose from … make sure you use it all up so none ends up going to waste!

    Prep A Few Meals For The Week

    One of the easiest things to do is to invest in some multi-compartment food containers and fill them up with leftover mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, and/or veggies.   That makes it easy to grab and go for lunch or even dinner on these hectic nights.  Just think of the extra cash left in your wallet not having to buy takeout for lunch for a few days!

    Traditional Goodies

    Of course there are always infamous turkey sandwiches.   How do you like yours?   Our favorite sandwich has to be turkey panini’s.   We build ours starting with Ciabatta bread spread with mayo.  Next is a layer of cranberry sauce topped with shredded turkey.   A little layer of stuffing, a tad more cranberry with a thin layer of green bean casserole or creamed spinach topped with lettuce.    In the panini maker or waffle iron it goes – OH YEAH!  Do you still have a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers?  How about turkey noodle soup or even a cream of potato soup.   I made soup for lunch yesterday using leftover mashed potatoes, some turkey stock, a few leftover sautéed spaetzle and mushrooms and then stirred in the rest of the Asiago creamed spinach.   It was delicious!   It was SO good that my family asked me to make sure and write down how I made it so I can recreate it in the future.   I’ll consider that a win!

    Make A Pie …

    What’s not to like about tossing together a shepherd’s pie, pot pie, or even a homemade “Hot Pocket”.   Any of these could easily use up all the leftover mashed potatoes, side veggie dishes and turkey that are hanging out in your fridge.  Best part – just throw in whatever you have and come up with a delicious new twist on a classic comfort food.  I use Pillsbury Crescent rolls to make my own hot pockets or to top my pot pies.

    Make Cranberry Crescent Treats

    If you’ve got some leftover cranberry sauce but have finished all your turkey, try putting together a cranberry crescent treat.   All you need is a package of crescent rolls, your cranberry sauce (mine has nuts and pineapple in it) and some sugar.   Just dab some filling on a crescent roll, roll it up and sprinkle with sugar.   Bake until golden.   This is a great way to finish something that you could otherwise end up tossing out and is a delicious twist for dessert.

    Thanksgiving Hot Dish

    Last but not least, there is always a Thanksgiving Hot Dish.   All you need to do is toss a combination of leftovers into a casserole dish, top with a little cheese and bake at 350 until hot brown and bubbly.    Another option … Cook some pasta and create a tetrazzini or even steam some rice if your Thanksgiving dinner does not include a type of rice casserole.  Use your imagination!  No extra dishes and a delicious new meal.   We had the turkey tetrazzini pictured above last night and I had enough to freeze one casserole for later!

    Have Fun!

    I hope that you are now inspired to get creative with your Thanksgiving leftovers.  Make sure and share your ideas to create new meals out of your Thanksgiving leftovers.

    Good luck!

    Elisa

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

    November 27th, 2016

    cranberry-pumpkin-breadHere is a delicious addition for your holiday baking list.   It’s great to make in loaves or even mini loaves to share.   Cranberries are one of those food items that make me smile.  You can add them to salads, breads, stuffing and proteins like chicken or pork and they just bump it up a notch.  Since it’s a healthy option to add to recipes, it’s a win-win and I’ll keep looking for new ways to incorporate them.

    Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
    Author:
    Recipe type: Bread
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    Ingredients
    • 2¼ cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs (beaten)
    • 1 cups brown sugar
    • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
    • ½ cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
    Instructions
    1. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs and oil.
    3. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir well.
    4. Fold in the cranberries.
    5. Pour mixture into two lightly greased loaf pans.
    6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for approximately 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and baked through.
    7. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

     

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    Thanksgiving Table Shepherd’s Pie

    November 26th, 2016

    This is a great casserole that uses up a lot of leftovers at once. Plus, it freezes well. If you are tired of leftovers just put this dish together and wrap it up tightly with aluminum foil. Freeze it for dinner in the upcoming weeks when you are super busy with holiday plans.

    Thanksgiving Table Shepherd's Pie
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main
    Serves: 6
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups cooked turkey, shredded
    • 3 cups cooked vegetables, anything you have leftover
    • 1 cup gravy
    • 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tbsp cream cheese; room temperature
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine, broken up
    • dash paprika
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a large pie plate or casserole dish.
    2. Heat turkey, vegetables, and gravy in a saucepan until warmed through, then turn into prepared dish.
    3. Mix room temperature mashed potatoes with egg and cream cheese until smooth and well blended, add salt and pepper to taste, then mix again.
    4. Spoon the potatoes over the ingredients in casserole, spreading to cover ingredients completely.
    5. Stick pieces of butter all over the potatoes and sprinkle with paprika.
    6. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until potatoes are browning and filling is bubbling hot.

    Photo courtesy grandgrrl

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    How to Make Pumpkin Pancakes

    November 17th, 2016

    How to Make Pumpkin Pancakes

    Tis the season you see everything pumpkin that’s possible!   Well you don’t have to spend your hard earned money on overpriced pancakes at your local restaurant.  Not when they are so easy to make at home.

    As you can see from the picture they do tend to be a little less fluffy. Just so you are aware if you are used to the thick fluffy pancakes. The puree is a little heavier so it weighs it down. But that means you can stack more up 😉

    Because of the spices and pumpkin flavor you need very little syrup. Or use some whip cream and forgo the syrup completely. I also love to just use some homemade apple butter  or warm applesauce slathered on top.

    As with all pancakes these are a great idea for the freezer.  Make up a double or triple batch.  Let them cool and then put them in a freezer bags. If want to be able to take them out of the freezer individually, just flash freeze them on a cookie sheet, then add the frozen pancakes to a freezer bag. I reheat them in my toaster oven so they aren’t soggy.

    Everyone will be surprised by the different breakfast you serve up. Don’t tell them how easy they were to make.  It will be our secret!

     

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    Happy National Pizza with Everything Day

    November 12th, 2016

    pizza-collageNow here’s a holiday I can definitely get behind!

    I love to make individual crusts and then set up a “Make Your Own Pizza” bar.   What an easy way to keep everyone at the table happy!   It’s also a great way to use up all the little bits of remaining meat, cheeses and veggies in your fridge.

    I am always amazed how some children don’t want to eat their broccoli or other veggies at dinner but when they get to put it on their pizza to help make a silly face it disappears.   There’s something to be said about playing with your food.

    Pizzas from Different Parts of the World

    Although pizza is typically thought of as originating in Italy with famous roots in Chicago and New York, there are many different types of pizzas and toppings from different parts of the world.

    While where you come from it may seem that other parts of the world have very unusual tastes in pizzas, they just may think the same about us.  A pizza topped with seafood may be everyday fare for someone in another country; however, an all cheese pizza may be considered snobbish to someone from a different country, as well.

    Here are a few of the different types of pizza from different parts of the world.

    French Pizza

    As many of you know, French bread pizza is made with French bread. However, what many individuals do not know is that French pizza is also made with anchovy fillets and Kalamata olives.  Flaky puffed pastry and spices such as thyme and parsley with a dose of really good olive oil makes French pizza something really unique.

    German Pizza

    One form of German pizza is a pizza that eats like a meal in itself. It has peppers, onions, chopped meat, and potatoes. Milk, cheese, butter, and eggs are also ingredients found in this one particular version of German pizza. It serves like a meal, a pizza, and an omelet all rolled into one.

    Believe it or not, another version of German pizza is served with tuna on top. Many people like anchovies on their pizza and this version of German pizza uses canned tuna.

    Italian Pizza

    Italian pizza comes in many ways and varieties. Not only is Italian pizza diversified in its ingredients, it is also diversified in the way that it is cooked. Italian pizza may have anchovies, sausage, ham, different types of cheese and even past on top. Some Italian pizza has no tomatoes and just olive oil and ricotta and mozzarella cheese.

    Other Italian pizzas are cooked in traditional ovens while some are cooked in coal burning ovens made out of brick.

    Japanese Pizza

    The Japanese pizza uses a variety of ingredients, to say the least. Japanese pizza can consist of mayonnaise, potatoes, bacon, and fish in the family of eel or squid. As stated earlier, some may think that a typical cheese pizza is unusual while others are quite used to eating pizza with different types of fish on top of it.

    So Now What?!?!?

    Once you have tried a variety of traditional and creative toppings from your region, why not venture out and try one of the above recipes and see if you can duplicate it at home.

    You never know, a pizza from a different country may just be your family’s new favorite.

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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    Slow Cooker Caramel-Spiced Apple Cider

    October 19th, 2016

    appleciderMmmmm.  Talk about comfort in a cup!

    This warm, spiced apple cider is packed with some of the best flavors of fall… apple cider, pumpkin pie spice, and delicious, silky caramel.  What’s even better is your slow cooker does most of the work for you while it fills your house with simply delightful aromas.

    Note – you can simplify this recipe quite a bit with the use of store bought caramel sauce and whipped cream.  However, for a truly decadent experience without all the artificial ingredients, you should give the homemade versions a try at least once.   You’ll be happy you did.

    Ingredients:

    1/2 gallon apple cider
    1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 Tbls. pumpkin pie spice*
    2 tsp. real vanilla extract
    3 cinnamon sticks

    3/4 cup homemade caramel sauce, divided** (recipe included below)
    Maple-whipped cream*** (recipe included below)

    Note –  If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own by combining 3 T. cinnamon, 1 T. ground ginger, 1 T. ground nutmeg, 2 t. ground allspice, and 2 t. ground cloves. Store in an airtight container.

    Caramel Sauce:

    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 cup white sugar
    2 Tbls. water
    4 Tbls. unsalted butter

    Maple Whipped Cream: 1 pint heavy whipped cream 1-2 T. real maple syrup

    Directions:

    For the Caramel Sauce: Pre-heat oven to lowest setting.

    Warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. (You’ll want to slightly warm the cream to prevent curdling when it is added to the hot liquid).

    Add the sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed oven-safe saucepan and stir to combine. Set spoon aside and do not stir the sugar mixture again. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. If sugar crystals remain on the sides of the pan, gently brush them back down with a moistened silicon baking brush.

    Continue boiling until the mixture turns a nice amber color. Do not overcook. If mixture gets too dark at this stage, you will need to start over. If a dark spot forms on one side due to uneven heating, lift the pan and gently swirl until the color is even again. Return pan to the burner and reduce heat when the desired color is achieved.

    Slowly whisk in the warmed cream until thoroughly incorporated. Be very careful while doing so because the sugar mixture will be extremely hot and will bubble up when the cooler cream is added.

    Remove from heat and add butter. Stir with a clean spoon until butter is totally incorporated into the mixture. Cool and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

    For the Maple Whipped Cream:

    In a large glass bowl, blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream with a hand or immersion blender until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then, drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until the mixture is light and fluffy.

    For the Apple Cider:

    Add the apple cider, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks to your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.

    After 2.5 hours, stir in ½ cup caramel sauce. Cover and allow the flavors to mingle for remaining 30 minutes.

    Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. To serve, ladle the hot cider into mugs and top with maple whipped cream and drizzle with additional caramel sauce.

    Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.

    Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.

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