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Leftover Magic: Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes as Breakfast

5 Apr

See that up there? It doesn’t look like much, I know. But break the eggs and stir it all together and you have one of the most decadent-tasting, satisfying breakfasts I know of, and it’s a healthy way to start off your day. Swear.

I don’t have a cute family story to tell you about this one–my kids won’t touch this. Which is totally fine with me, because it’s one of my favorites and their disinterest means more for me, quite frankly, without anybody asking me to share. We moms share very well, but once in awhile, it’s nice to have something delicious that’s only touched by your own fork.

That said, we’re going to move straight onto the recipe, which is the best part of this–it’s so stinkin’ easy and such a great way to empty out some leftovers that I can’t wait to share. You need:

Leftover honey roasted sweet potatoes. Click on that if you need the recipe for those. I’d say about a half-cup, but any amount will work.

Eggs

Olive oil

That’s it.

Heat a small pan over medium heat and drizzle it with a little olive oil to keep things from sticking. Stir around your leftover potatoes until they warm through–keep them moving for a few minutes so the honey doesn’t burn.

Once they’re warm, spread them out (or bunch them up, depending how many you have) into a solid layer. Very carefully break your egg or eggs on top. Lower the burner to low, and pop a lid on that puppy.

Wait about three minutes and then start checking your eggs for doneness–you want them cooked through but with runny yolks. Once you get there, slide the whole beautiful shebang onto a plate, cut the yolks open, and smile because this, my friends, is good stuff.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

31 Jan

Are you ready for what I’m about to say? Because once I say it, you’re going to want to try this. OK? Sitting down? Braced? Here it is:

Aside from throwing chicken boobs and a bottle of barbecue sauce into the crock, this is the easiest Crockpot meal I’ve ever made. And it was fantastimically delicious and everybody ate it and cleanup was almost nothing, AND I have tons of leftovers for tonight.

A miracle. Right?

So now I have a confession. This is the first pot roast I’ve ever cooked. Seriously. It’s the first one I think I’ve eaten since high school, thanks to my 12-year moratorium on beef. It will not, however, be the last.

This quite literally took me four minutes to get into the slow cooker. Eight hours on low. Another two minutes to fish out the meat and veggies and stir a little thickener into the juice to make a simple gravy. And that’s it–dinner. Cutting boards and the slow cooker insert went into the dishwasher with the rest of the plates, the countertop got a quick swipe, and voila. Cleaned up.

Salivating yet?

The original recipe for this comes from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, which is a terrific reference that I recommend–not a can of cream o’ something soup to be found, and loads of easy, healthy, delicious dinners. I mucked around with it a tiny bit to give it a bit more umph and to use veggies we had in the house already, but I didn’t remake this one from the get-go. We really enjoyed it even though my children declared the potatoes “poison” (more for me, you little spud-hating freaks) and I was the only one who ate the onion (which was sweet and delicious despite not browning–I can’t explain it but I want more).

I forgot to take a picture. Worst food blogger ever. But it’s pot roast–you know what it looks like, right?

I really hope you’ll try this. Little to no effort and an amazing dinner at the end of the day. Tell me that’s not perfection. You need:

One 2.5 – 4 pound pot or chuck roast, trimmed of as much fat as you can get off.

Salt and pepper

About 10 baby carrots, cut into thirds (or 2 regular carrots chunked up)

12 oz waxy yellow or white potatoes (I used baby yukons), cut into large bites

1 large or 2 small yellow onions, peeled and quartered (cut the root end off)

2 bay leaves

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 1/2 cups of water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp softened butter

3 tbsp flour

Salt and pepper your roast and plop him down in the slow cooker. Dump your veggies on top of him along with the bay leaves and garlic. Pour in the water and vinegar and turn your cooker on low for 6-8 hours. I stirred mine midway through to ensure that all the spuds got a good dunking in the liquid and cooked evenly, but you probably don’t have to.

About five minutes before you want to eat, use a fork to mash together your flour and butter into a paste in a small bowl. Fish your meat and veggies out of the crock (chuck the bay leaves) and cover them with foil. Turn your slow cooker to high and stir in the butter paste with a whisk until it’s dissolved and the gravy looks like gravy (it’ll be thin).

Cut up your meat, drizzle a bit of sauce on top, and raise your eyes to heaven for this amazing, couldn’t-be-easier meal.

Chipotle-esque Quinoa (and Bonus Veggie Bowl)

29 Nov

My name is Kim and I am a Chipotle addict.

Sadly, DH doesn’t feel the same way. He is Chipotle-ed out. I sympathize, but I still love me a big honkin’ veggie bowl, filled with their fantastic lime-kissed rice, beans, grilled vegetables, salsa, and a dollop of guacamole. Seriously–besides the 10 million calories and hefty dose of simple carbs, what’s not to like?

(Can you tell I ate too much over Thanksgiving? Oink.)

I could squelch my cravings at lunchtime, theoretically. But the Chipotle near my house is mobbed with high school students mid-day–we’re talking lines that literally stretch out the door–and I have no patience for it. And then the carb thing and the calorie thing kicks in and I feel way too guilty to go snarf down one of their amazing meals.

Thankfully, the cook thing kicked in yesterday and I came up with a substitute that is seriously delicious and satisfied my Chipotle tooth without filling me with white rice and a ton of oil. The answer?

Quinoa.

If you haven’t tried this miracle grain yet, it’s time. It cooks up just like rice but has a ton of protein in it, is gluten-free, and is just as versatile as the rices you’re used to. The trick to it is to measure it out, pour it into a mesh sieve, and rinse it really well before you start cooking. Quinoa has a bitter thing going on, but a nice pre-stove shower will remove it and leave you a blank slate to cook with.

I have a big container of this in my fridge this morning and this makes me happy–I cannot wait for more of this meal for lunch today. I get my Chipotle on and my healthy on, and my taste buds get their happy on at the same time. Which rocks. To join me, you need:

1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

1 lime

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well

1 1/3 cups water

Zest your lime and set the zest to the side (note: this makes the quinoa super lime-y. If you like that, rock on with me. If you don’t want so much lime, skip the zest and start with the next step).

Heat a small saucepan on medium and add in your oil. Let that heat for a minute, and add the juice from your lime and your quinoa. Stir that all together–you want to coat the grains with the yumminess before it starts cooking. Then, add the water and lime zest (if you’re using it), bring it to a boil, lower your heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 – 25 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and you start to see little rings around your quinoa grains, which will turn kind of translucent.

When that happens, uncover the pot, give your quinoa a stir, and add the cilantro. Continue cooking until it seems fairly dry.

Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and enjoy.

If you want a veggie bowl like this:

While your quinoa is cooking, heat a pan (I use my cast iron wonder) over medium-high heat. Into that, toss together another teaspoon of oil, half a sliced onion, and a sliced green or red bell pepper. Cook until everything in there is seared up nicely.

Spoon your quinoa into a bowl. On top, layer beans (black or kidney, drained and rinsed), some of your cooked veggie mixture, some salsa, and a dollop of guacamole or piece of avocado. Keep your leftovers in a covered container in the fridge–they make awesome leftovers. Tell me who rocks Chipotle now!

Multi-Tasking Lemon-Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

31 Mar

I have not been intentionally ignoring you guys. I promise. Work is crazy-nutso busy this week and there has been little time for kitchen playing. I’m going to make up for it today, because this recipe is a triple-duty treasure that works as a side dish, appetizer/finger food, and for breakfast (stay with me on that one).

I made this for a baby shower my bookclub held for one of our members last night. We had appetizers and desserts (Georgetown Cupcakes–mmmmm!) in potluck style. Easy and cheap for everyone, and really a lot of fun to see who made what and enjoy so many different flavors and textures. This recipe worked because you can pick up the stalks with your fingers and eat them that way, or cut them into bites and use a fork (if you’re all civilized and stuff). It’s very low fat, very high in vitamins, and quite delicious with the sweet vinegar and the sour lemon playing very nicely together.

I sprinkled these with Parmesan. I suggest you skip that. The cheese became a gloppy mess, to be quite honest, and didn’t bring much to the flavor party. I did, though, serve them with Prosciutto on the side for those who eat it (I don’t), and people seemed to enjoy the combination.

Apppetizer–check. They’re a great side dish for roasted chicken or steaks. I’d even go so far as to serve these alongside a light summer pasta dish, and they’d be great with fish too. You can, if you wish, cut the stalks into bites, roast them that way, put them into a bowl, and serve them as a traditional vegetable, or pop it in the fridge for a few hours, toss it with Parmesan at that point, and put this out as a salad–sesame seeds would be a lovely addition to that.

And breakfast. Y’all, I diced a few stalks up this morning and tossed them into a pan with some onion and a touch of butter, let them all soften, and then made an omelette with them, eggs, and a little cheese. Delish, delish, delish. Highly recommend. They’d work in a frittata too, with some onion and tomato.

Enough with the talk. Make these. They’re good. You’ll need:

About a pound of asparagus stalks, trimmed of their woody ends

The juice of one lemon

A tablespoon of Balsalmic vinegar

Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees while you spray a baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray. Lay the asparagus spears on the sheet. Drizzle them with the lemon juice, balsamic, and enough olive oil to coat, and toss with your hands to combine everything. Pat them down into a single layer, and roast for about 10 minutes, turning once. You’re looking for a bright, bright green color out of them–don’t let them go any farther than that or they’ll mush up on you. Serve hot or at room temperature as an appetizer or side, and cold as a salad.

Pappardelle with Mushrooms

23 Mar

Pappardelle noodles are the world’s ultimate comfort food. I swear. Think egg noodles the length of spaghetti and you get the idea. They’re soft and delicious all on their own, and I’m so glad to have recently discovered them in a grocery store near me, right there with the regular pasta.

They come in these “nests,” but they cook up just like normal pasta, and they are totally worth searching for.

This recipe started out as one by Jamie Oliver that sounded really good. I cooked it up and happily doled platefuls out and took a bite…and looked at DH. It was fine. But only fine. It needed something.

DH tried hot sauce. Not the answer. We talked about adding grilled chicken to it, but the point of this is that it’s a healthy meat-free meal that satisfies (we’re trying to eat less meat, both for our health and our budget). Adding meat to it seemed to negate the point.

I went into the kitchen and messed around a bit, and found something that worked pretty well. So this is written to include that–you get a delicious, beefy tasting sauce on this that’s not too heavy and still lets the mushrooms and the Pappardelle shine through.

This has butter in it. Please use it without guilt. Butter is not a bad thing–your grandparents and mine all lived their whole lives eating real butter with almost every meal. Everything in moderation, my friends, and when you take into account the fact that this makes six hearty servings (eight with a side dish or salad), you’re not eating very much at all per meal.

This is definitely being added to our regular meal rotation–I loved the final result. It re-heated beautifully, which is a big bonus for hurricane weeks when one meal needs to stretch to more than one night. I hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think. You’ll need:

1 pound sliced mushrooms (I used a combination of baby bellas, shitakes, oyster, and criminis–portabellas would be fan-flippin-tastic too)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup minced onion

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (this is not a spicy-hot dish–don’t worry)

The juice of a lemon

1 1/2 cups beef stock

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1 pound Pappardelle noodles (use bow ties if you can’t find Pappardelle)

3 tbsp butter

salt and pepper

A handful of grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of salted water, boil the Pappardelle until they’re nice and tender, about 8 minutes. Drain.

In a large skillet (I used my wok), over medium-high heat, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about two minutes. Keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add in the mushrooms and saute for about 2 to 5 minutes, or until they start to release their juices in the pan and turn a golden brown color. Salt and pepper and give them one more good stir. Add in lemon juice.

Stir together stock and cornstarch or arrowroot until it’s smooth. Sprinkle with oregano and thyme. Stir that into the mushroom mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens up, about 2 minutes.

Melt butter into the mushroom sauce. Pour that over the noodles, toss with Parmesan, and serve.


Super-Fast Friday! The Breakfast Edition

21 Jan

Happy Friday, gang!

Today, we introduce Super-Fast Friday and I hope you’ll like it. Every Friday, I’ll share a tip or trick or idea to speed up your meal-making time. Kind of like real food in less time, giving you more time to spend with your family. As we go, I’d love to hear your tips as well! Leave them in the comments here or over on our Facebook page.

So. Here’s today’s Super-Fast Friday tip:

We do big breakfasts on the weekends. DH and I enjoy steel-cut oats from the slow cooker and the kids like pancakes or waffles.

Have you read the ingredients on a box of frozen pancakes lately? Can you pronounce all of that?

Yeah.

Double up your batter ingredients when you have everything out anyway. Let the extra cakes or waffles cool completely to room temperature, and then pop them into a freezer zip-top bag and into your freezer. During the week, nuke the frozen pancakes for about 30 seconds or pop waffles into the toaster on a low to medium setting (it helps here to take your waffles out of the iron a few seconds early–they’ll finish toasting the day you want to eat them and crunch up really nicely), butter and enjoy.

Supermom has nothing on you!

Have you entered to win our giveaway yet?

There’s a new button over there on the right (you’ll have to click through if you’re on email subscription, Kindle, or a blog reader–sorry!)? That’s for Playing With My Dinner’s brand-spanking new Facebook page, where our readers are already chatting, sharing ideas, and getting the inside scoop on the blog.

To celebrate its launch, I’m giving away a copy of Aviva Goldfarb’s newest cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’ Clock Scramble To The Rescue.” It’s all about making healthy, Earth-friendly meals your kids will love, and you’re going to love it.

One lucky reader will find a copy in his or her mailbox, and all you have to do to enter is “like” the blog over on Facebook before February 5. I’ll use a random number generator to pick our winner.

So c’mon over! Visit the page, hit that “like” button, and join in the conversation on the wall. See you there!!

Grilled Rockfish Salad

20 Jan

I wanted to show you yesterdays’ lunch, which was re-mixed leftovers from the night before’s fish tacos. Super simple–romaine lettuce, red bell pepper (which is sweeter than its green cousin), diced avocado, a little cheese, the leftover rockfish, some cucumber, and salsa as dressing. Really good.

Thinking of leftovers as more than boxes to be nuked up the next day helps break up the monotony when you have more of a dish than you can eat one night. This didn’t feel like leftovers. It felt like something entirely new. It was really tasty, filled me up, and had no trace of “tacos again!”. Which was awesome.

That’s not to say there wasn’t trouble. That came walking my daughter home from ballet last night, when she excitedly asked if there were more fish tacos for dinner. I confessed to having eaten all the fish, and caught heck for it. Who knew a 7-year-old would fall so hard in love with rockfish? 😉

This same salad works with chicken, leftover steak, leftover fish or shrimp, or just beans if you have some laying around. It was a happy lunch!

I’m still giving stuff away!

There’s a new button over there on the right (you’ll have to click through if you’re on email subscription, Kindle, or a blog reader–sorry!)? That’s for Playing With My Dinner’s brand-spanking new Facebook page, where our readers are already chatting, sharing ideas, and getting the inside scoop on the blog.

To celebrate its launch, I’m giving away a copy of Aviva Goldfarb’s newest cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’ Clock Scramble To The Rescue.” It’s all about making healthy, Earth-friendly meals your kids will love, and you’re going to love it.

One lucky reader will find a copy in his or her mailbox, and all you have to do to enter is “like” the blog over on Facebook before February 5. I’ll use a random number generator to pick our winner.

So c’mon over! Visit the page, hit that “like” button, and join in the conversation on the wall. See you there!!

Crockpot (or not) Beef or Chicken Chili

12 Jan

SNOOOOOOOOWWWW DAAAAAAYYYY!

Not so much. We got a whopping inch. Enough to throw the TV weather guys and county schools directors into apoplexy but not quite enough to make us abandon our cars on major highways. But we came close! And between that and football playoffs this weekend (GO RAVENS! Was that out loud? Sorry.), it’s a great week for chili.

There’s a widely-held belief out there that chicken chili has to be white. White, my friends, makes for a lovely stew or soup or pot pie, but not chili. Chili is red and spicy and hearty and warms you for hours after the bowl is gone. And chicken, as we’ve discussed before, will take on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. So there’s no reason to avoid red chicken chili–I’ve made it for years and lightening hasn’t struck me yet.

This is a pretty straightforward recipe. There’s no mystery here. And you can make this a dice-and-dump if you’re in a hurry–just chuck everything into the slow cooker and let ‘er rip. I like to brown my meat with the onions first to give it a little texture, but feel free to skip that if you’d rather. The final taste will be the same.

Chili is a great meal for the winter, and this one gets better as it sits–leftovers are divine. It freezes perfectly as well. I hope you enjoy it. You need:

1 pound chicken breast or beef/steak (I use stew meat), cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 sweet onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or two frozen garlic cubes)

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with chilis (try Ro-Tel)

1 14.5 oz can of plain diced tomatoes

12 oz tomato paste

30-ish oz canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I use one can of light and one can of dark)

2 bell peppers, chopped (I use one red and one green)

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 bay leaf

Chili flakes, to taste (more = way hotter)

In a pan over medium-high heat, brown the meat and onion until they’re golden on the outside (you’re not cooking; you’re just searing the outside). Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Remove from heat and pour into large soup pot or slow cooker.

Add tomatoes (I drain them if I’m using the slow cooker, and just dump them in if I’m cooking this on the stove), tomato paste, beans, peppers, and spices. Stir well. In a slow cooker, cook on low 6-8 hours. On the stove, bring to a simmer and cook 1-4 hours (more cooking means a more developed flavor). Taste and add spices as needed–I usually add more chili powder and stir in some Smoked Chipotle Tabasco at the end). Serve alone or over rice or pasta.

Pizza Quesadilla

2 Jan

This one’s simple–you may have already come up with it yourself. But I made one the other night when I needed something easy and quick and had some leftover tortillas to use up, and thought it might be an idea some of you could use.

I came up with pizza quesadillas back when my son was a very picky three-year-old who wouldn’t touch the fajitas DH and I enjoy regularly. The boy would grumble his way through cheese quesadillas, but we all know how tiring the grumbling gets. One night, I spied an open jar of pizza sauce in the fridge, and put two and two together. Quesadillas aren’t that different from pizza crust, after all. I threw some sauce inside a regular quesadilla and fried it up, and a family hit was born.

The gist of this is that it’s a great way to use up those bits of leftovers in your fridge at the end of the week. If you’d put it on pizza, toss it in here. Pepperoni, crumbled meatball, chicken, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, pineapple. Bring it.

You do need to use real butter for this, at least if you want a crispy quesadilla. If crunch isn’t important to you, by all means, skip it. A tiny little bit makes a huge difference, though, so I’d encourage you to at least give it a shot.

My son is 9 now, and he still loves pizza quesadillas (along with the fajitas he wouldn’t eat long ago). I hope your family likes them too. To make one, you need:

2 flour tortillas

About 2 tbsp spaghetti, marinara, or pizza sauce

About 1/3 cup cheese (add more at your whim)

A sliver of real butter

Heat a small pan over a medium flame until it’s hot. Melt the butter. Lay down one tortilla, then top with sauce, cheese, and whatever goodies you like inside there. Top with the second tortilla. Cook until it starts to brown (about 3 minutes), and then flip and cook the rest of the way through. Let cool a few minutes before slicing into wedges and serving.

Freezer, Blessed Freezer

28 Sep

That right there? That is the bane of my existence.

That monstrous refrigerator was in this house when we bought it, and unlike the horrible oven (we’ll chat about that one soon) and totally dysfunctional dishwasher that have been summarily tossed since then, the damn fridge will not die. It chugs along, spitting out ice and keeping stuff cold, in its maddening side-by-side design that won’t fit a pizza box, ice cream cake (even regular boxes of ice cream are just this side of impossible and must contort to squeeze in there), or even a lasagna pan if there’s anything else at all on the shelf.

It’s a huge, massive appliance. And nothing fits. And it has this stupid water dispenser on the door which is very ooh la la, but which my one-year-old black Labrigator figured out quite some time ago and has threatened to flood my house every day since. I can’t touch it–she mimics me when I dare and I fear disaster will ensue.

Come into my house in the middle of my trying to cram one stupid thing in there, or opening the door to have something heavy tumble out onto my foot, and you’ll hear me whispering to it in a sinister display of a side of me most people don’t see. “Die. I hate you. Just DIE already.”

But that’s not what we’re talking about today (unless you’re talking to Santa by chance, in which case chat me up, wouldja? Ask the jolly old elf to bring me a bottom-freezer stainless model, preferably Kenmore Elite, pretty please I’ve been soooooooo good!). We are talking about freezers in general and their amazing way of making dinner easier. Because lots of you have told me how difficult getting dinner on the table is once school and sports and music and scouts and everything else starts up each fall, and the freezer can really be your friend in that department.

Let’s start with the basics. I told you about my bags o’ salmon from the warehouse club. Twenty minutes, freezer to table, I promise. Flavorful on their own, they need very little to make a really healthy, filling dinner. Throw a filet in the oven, pop a potato in the microwave, and then throw a bag of SteamFresh veggies in there while the taters sit on a plate, and whammo. You are the Queen of Dinner.

My freezer also has a bag of frozen chicken breasts (not the huge one because of the aforementioned godforsaken side by side issue, but I digress.) that can also give me a super fast dinner in no time. Defrost a chicken boob in a bowl of water (faster than the microwave and no risk of cooking the poor thing into a tasteless, rubbery slab), give it a pat, dip it in egg and breadcrumbs, saute it in a big pan, and pour some spaghetti sauce over it. Top with some shredded cheese, pop it under the broiler for a minute, and boom. Chicken parm. How awesome are you?

Also in my freezer: a bag of homemade meatballs (throw them into a bowl of pasta or or onto a hamburger roll with a little sauce), several bags of pumpkin, chocolate zucchini, and chocolate chip muffins, wrapped and bagged individual servings of baked ziti and slow cooker lasagna, and some pre-marinated tuna steaks from Trader Joe’s that go onto the grill almost straight from the icebox. A package of English Muffins, a bunch of SteamFresh bags of veggies and even rice (DUDE! Rice in three minutes! Rock ON!), and some veggie burgers, which are surprisingly healthy and delicious round things out. Oh, and a few containers of chicken noodle soup, chili, balls of pizza dough, and a load of spices are stuffed into the corners. Along with an Amy’s cheese pizza (totally squashed, not that I’m bitter or anything) for total emergency nights.

The freezer is your friend. If you’re hauling out pots and pans to make a nice dinner, it’s almost always just as easy to haul out one or two more, make a double batch of your entree, dole it into individual servings, and wrap, bag, and freeze it for another night.

So tell me…what’s in your freezer, and how do you make it work for your family?

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