Chicken Mac and Cheese

Reading now:

I finished watching part of the HBO drama “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” with Oprah since I adore the book.  The book is fantastic and was a hit at our book club!  I really couldn’t finish the HBO show.  I was bored …. maybe because I knew what was going to happen?  I’m not sure.  I stopped watching after 30 minutes.

I did also start the Margaret Peterson Haddix series “The Missing, Book 1″ that was in one of our 4/5th grade classrooms.  It was great!  A very fast read – I think I finished in a couple of days.  The plot moved along and the kids were interesting characters.  I love the revelation at the end.

Recipe:

What kid doesn’t like chicken or mac & cheese?  This dinner was a hit with kids big and small and will be for yours too!  I just love the Instant Pot and use it to cook almost everything now from roasts, pasta, rice, yogurt, stew, soup and chicken.  I haven’t used my slow cooker in years now unless I need to keep something warm for a pot luck.  I don’t like how chicken dries out and the roasts are still not cooked all of the way by the time I get home.

I do include how to make this without a pressure cooker/instant pot in the Notes section!

**Warning**  If you do use the Instant Pot or pressure cooker for the recipe, please release the vent SLOWLY.  I made the mistake of releasing the valve full blast!!  Pasta water and chicken stuff sprayed everywhere!  But don’t worry!  You can learn from my mistake.  Use a towel or wooden spoon to move the vent halfway slowly and not quick like me 🙂

 


Chicken Mac and Cheese
 
:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small bite size pieces
  • 8 ounces dried elbow macaroni or spiral pasta (I like whole wheat)
  • 1 and ½ cups half and half or milk
  • 1 Tb. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. mustard or Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 and ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces) (or use your favorite cheese)
Instructions
  1. Add to you instant pot: 6 cups water, chicken and pasta. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. (No pressure cooker/instant pot? Just go to the notes section)
  2. Once finished cooking, SLOWLY open the valve HALFWAY. Allow the pressure to slowly release.
  3. Pour the chicken and pasta into a colindar.
  4. Meanwhile, put the pot back on the stove or insert back into the Instant Pot. Switch it to saute mode and keep it on normal. Add the half and half, flour, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk together! Allow the mixture to come to a boil and boil to thicken for about 2-3 minutes. Whisk while it boils to keep the bottom from getting too hot!
  5. Now, add your pasta, chicken and cheese back into the pot. Stir it all up and eat!
  6. Serve warm with a salad, peas, broccoli or any of your favorite veggies!
Notes
No Instant Pot? Fear not! Just cook the pasta and drain. Use the same pot to the saute part of the recipe where you mix the half and half, mustard, etc. Boil and thicken 2-3 minutes. Add the cheese. Stir. Add the pasta. Add in some rotisserie chicken and voila!

Recipe from "The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book" by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

 

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche on Whisk Together

Book:  Our book club book for the month is “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Changed the World” by Malala Yousafzai.  If you need a quick biography to read, then this book may interest you.  It is only 195 pages.  The person herself- Malala – is first-rate five stars wowzer person.  She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.  But the way the book was written I’d give it 3-4 out of 5 stars.  If I were critiquing the book as a Language Arts teacher, I would work on the cohesiveness of the history, politics and personal narrative.  To the personal narrative, I would like to see more of the five senses used:  the smells of the food from the kitchen, the floor beneath her feet, etc.  It reads like a first draft that would be sent for peer editing.  However.  The history and education that you receive from the book about Pakistan is amazing as well as the inspiring story of the girl who fought for education.

Cover artRecipe:  Most of the moms I know are trying to eat healthy and get a nice breakfast in to start their day.  Whether trying to lose weight or just maintain weight, I get a LOT of inquiries on eating healthy and how to eat the foods we enjoy while still eating REAL food.  So, for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) I brought in a sweet potato crust quiche.  We loved it!  I had the rest for lunch with my five year old and she ate every single crumb.  Now that it has been kid-approved, I can post about it!

Healthy Eating Swap #1:  Sweet potato slices for pie crust
Healthy Eating Swap #2:  2 Tb. grated Parmesan cheese for the 2 cups of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in most quiche recipes

Need breakfast for the week?  Double this recipe and make it in a 9×13″ dish.  Simply cover and take out a slice from the fridge in the morning for breakfast.  Pop it into the microwave and in less than 30 seconds you have a super healthy breakfast or quick and easy after-workout snack.

Quiche and many other breakfast items have a carbohydrate-laden crust based on fat (butter, lard or shortening) and white flour (all purpose flour).  The extra 10 minutes of baking time was SO worth it.  Next time, I will make 2-3 of these and freeze the ones we won’t eat that day.
To freeze, you have two options.  One, to bake it in a disposable pie pan, cool to room temperature and seal in a freezer bag with foil all around.  Or two, lay foil down in your pie pan and then place the quiche inside to bake; once cool, cover and freeze; remove the foil frozen quiche from your pan and place in a freezer bag with foil all around.  This way, you get your pie pan back 😉  Pretty sneaky, eh?

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche on Whisk Together2

Cutting the Sweet Potato:  The first couple of times I made the crust, I used my potato peeler to thinly slice the potato for layering.  But after 10 minutes in the oven, this will produce sweet potato chips.  Which still tasted awesome.  And using the peeler was a nice shortcut to having to cut the sweet potato with a chef’s knife.  Or, you could use a mandolin to thinly and evenly cut your sweet potato (Don’t forget the finger guard!).  See the crispy orange stuff?  That’s the crust!  Nom nom nom.

 

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche on Whisk Together3

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche
 
:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1-2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ⅛"- ¼" thick slices
  • ½T butter
  • 1 shallot or ¼ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 handful of baby spinach or spinach/kale mix
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tb. milk
  • 2 Tb. grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • No-salt seasoning such as Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, Mural of Flavor, Mrs. Dash, etc. (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a pie pan with cooking spray.
  3. Lay out the sweet potato slices onto the pie pan. Overlap as needed.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. While baking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion/shallot. Stir and cook until transparent - about 5 minutes.
  6. Add garlic. Cook 30 seconds.
  7. Add the spinach. Coat in the butter/onion mixture. Stir until wilted.
  8. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and any optional seasonings.
  9. Add the spinach mixture to the eggs. Stir.
  10. Pour the whole egg mixture into the sweet potato crust.
  11. REDUCE temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 25-30 minutes. The quiche will be done when you jiggle the pan and there is no liquid or heavy jiggling in the center.
  12. Remove from oven and cool about 3-5 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve.

 

Individual Squash Mac and Cheese

Squash Mac and Cheese-5397 on Whisk Together

 

Oh yes, we have LOTS of spaghetti squash here thanks to Aldi.  The stock up store.  And their 69 cents squash sale!

Unless you want to stock up on: canned green chilies and whole wheat sandwich buns…. then you’re pretty much out of luck at Aldi. 🙂

But back to the squash.  This recipe is based on one of my favorite recipes: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Spinach.  On meal prep day, I will roast some items for lunches and include a few spaghetti squash.  I don’t recommend freezing this dish.  Squash just doesn’t usually freeze well and becomes very mushy.

Why I love this recipe:

1.  It’s super fast (once the squash is roasted)
2.  It’s full of flavor
3.  You can add what you want to it
4.  You can make it just for yourself because your kids aren’t being fooled by squash instead of pasta 🙂
5.  Simple ingredients you probably have at home
6.  It’s healthy, nutritious and filling

To pack this in your lunchbox, just layer everything in a sealed microwave safe bowl.  Then, at work you can just pop it into the microwave and stir!  Hot lunch that tastes as good as mac and cheese without all the calories.

How to Roast Spaghetti Squash:
The last post is how to roast all the squash on sale at Aldi.  But here is a refresher for spaghetti squash.

Cut it in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Spray the inside with a little olive oil.  Place cut side DOWN on a rimmed cookie sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil.  Bake 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Or bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Or bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  It is soooo easy!  You can’t mess it up.  Then let it cool a little bit and drag your fork inside to get the “spaghetti”!  I would not recommend freezing the cooked spaghetti squash.

Trick for Scooping Seeds
The trick for scooping seeds out of the squash is… wait for it…. a grapefruit spoon!  Yes we love grapefruit spoons because they are NOT uni-taskers.  Instead, grapefruit spoons are perfect for using their serrated edges to scoop out the fibers and seeds inside your squash.

 

Squash Mac and Cheese-5388 on Whisk Together

Squash Mac and Cheese-5391 on Whisk Together

 

Squash Mac and Cheese-5393 on Whisk Together

Squash Mac and Cheese-5394 on Whisk Together

Individual Squash Mac and Cheese
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup roasted spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tb. milk
  • ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 Tb. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼-1/2 cup baby spinach (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add the spaghetti squash.
  2. Pour in a splash of milk (about a tablespoon).
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  4. Sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder.
  5. Stir in baby spinach.
  6. Microwave covered and on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds if cheese needs to melt more. Mac and Cheese is ready once cheese is melted and the squash is hot.
  7. Top with more Parmesan cheese if you like.

 

 

Healthier Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan-3599 on Whisk Together

Book:  I started reading “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarity.  Someone had posted it on my Facebook feed.  It is fiction, and it is hilarious!  The book is PERFECT for this time of year, too!  The moms are all at the school for the first day of kindergarten.  I’m not a huge fiction fan, but this is really funny.  Great beach book and great reviews on GoodReads.

In other news, here are the cookies I made for our Vacation Bible School party.  The theme was related to Mount Everest, so I made 48 of these mountain cookies!

Mountain Cookies on Whisk Together

Recipe: We love a lot of Italian style dishes and this is one that we made to be a little healthier.  Olive Garden’s Chicken Parmesan has 1,050 calories, 52 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat and 3000 mg of sodium!

This version well… doesn’t have all that.  🙂  This version has 251 calories, 9.5 grams of fat, and 31.5 grams of protein.

Feel free to make your own breadcrumbs from leftover bread.  I toast my bread in the oven, remove the crusts and throw it into the food processor.  Instant breadcrumbs!  Or purchase them.  Whole Wheat, panko or seasoned breadcrumbs will work.  If you use your own homemade breadcrumbs or panko crumbs, then be sure to add a teaspoon of Italian seasoning to the crumbs.

Chicken Parmesan-3596 on Whisk Together

 

Freezer Friendly?  You bet!  Simply dip the chicken in the breading and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or in a foil 9×13 pan.  Once frozen – about 1 hour later – put into a plastic freezer bag or cover with foil and plastic wrap.  When you want dinner, pop into the oven from frozen or thawed out!

Healthier Chicken Parmesan
 
:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise for 8 breasts
  • ¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or as noted make your own and add 1 tsp. Italian seasoning)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • ¾ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup marinara or homemade sauce
  • fresh basil, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prep a rimmed cookie sheet or large bar pan with baking spray or parchment paper.
  3. In a shallow dish, mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together.
  4. Brush olive oil on both sides of chicken breast and dip into breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake 20 minutes.
  6. Flip chicken over and bake another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Add 1 T of sauce (or more) and 1.5 T of mozzarella cheese to each chicken.
  8. Put back into the oven until cheese has melted - about 5 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with basil and serve over spaghetti, spaghetti squash, brown rice pasta or zoodles.
Notes
When dipping raw chicken or anything raw, I find it easiest to make sure to use my left hand (non-dominant) to handle the raw meat. This way my dominant hand (right hand) can go about sprinkling salt, turning on the oven, etc. Usually dipping or trimming meat requires dexterity in the dominant hand and I leave the other hand to handle the messy stuff.

Recipe from Skinnytaste

 

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese on Whisk Together Blog

Book:  The reviews for “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo are quite amusing.  Here are the major points of the book.  I like how they are highlighted in bold.  That way I can just read the bold font and skip over the rest 🙂

Let’s start with one of the funniest lines.  The rest isn’t too bad.  But page 70 is where she really gets me: “If you are a woman, try wearing something elegant as nightwear.  The worst thing you can do is to wear a sloppy sweat suit.”

Oh, and make sure you don’t “ball up your socks.”  They need to rest and breathe.  Seriously.  I couldn’t make this stuff up myself.  Seriously, the book has some good points.  Here are some from the first half:

page 16:  “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set.”  (I do agree with this one… tackle it once and get ‘er done.  Otherwise it feels like I always have something left to do.)

page 22: “A booby trap lies within the term ‘storage’.”   (I thought this was interesting.  Anyway, it is the irony of buying and obtaining more stuff (organizing storage) to store more stuff.  Not that it is wrong to store things.  But I like the reflection and the thought process behind whether it is important to keep it to begin with.)

page 23:  “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.”  Hmmm…

page 25: “Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.”  (Again with doing it in one shot, you don’t have to buy things you couldn’t find because they were in another location.)

page 41: “…we should choose what we want to keep instead of choosing what we want to get rid of.”  (Ahh, the priorities game…Does this apply to family and friends?  Ha ha.  Just kidding!)

11694122_10206713063483334_7262394879101562266_nCheck out this workshop!!  There are few that I would LOVE everything in it and this is one of them.  It is a Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop.  I provide the shopping list, the labels for the bags, extra ingredients and the kitchen.  You purchase the food bundle and get ready to party!  I used to do freezer workshops and loved them, but I would have loved it even more to take home some of the extra ingredients which you get to do here.  Email me or Facebook on how to get on board.  If you don’t live in the area – that is fine!  I send the bundles out all the time and email you all of the recipes, step by step shopping lists, and workshop checklist for your freezer full of meals.

Which reminds me the kids are going to school soon.  I’m going to miss my buddy 🙁  At least we will have some meals ready to go!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese on Whisk Together

Recipe:  This is another weeknight recipe from Food Network Magazine (Jan/Feb. 2014).  It is paired with BBQ chicken or taste great all on its own.  The cauliflower used is 3 cups or 8 ounces – I bought a whole head of cauliflower and used half of it.  The pasta is a typical elbow macaroni, but you could substitute your own favorite shape or even a gluten free variety.  Trader Joe’s carries a brown rice and quinoa pasta.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
 
:
Ingredients
  • 6 oz. elbow macaroni (1 and ¾ cups)
  • 3 cups chopped cauliflower florets (about 8 oz/half a head)
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1 and ½ cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tb. grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, on medium high heat boil the milk and cauliflower together.
  2. Put on the lid, turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 8 minutes. The cauliflower should be tender and a fork should pierce through it easily.
  3. Put everything in the pot into a blender or food processor and turn it on until the mixture is smooth. Pour back into the pot and add only 1 and ¼ cup of the cheddar and all the Parmesan cheese.
  4. While the sauce is cooking: In a medium pot, boil some lightly salted water. Add pasta and cook 6-7 minutes (or what the package says). Keep about ½ cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
  5. Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce you made. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to the sauce or as much or little as needed to make the sauce to how thick you want it. Heat through over low heat. Top with the rest of the cheddar cheese.
Notes
Serve with BBQ chicken, or add ground beef, or add chili for chili mac, etc.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine Jan/Feb 2014

The hubby and kiddos all ate it.  I try to tell them about halfway through what is in it because I’m mean like that.  Plus, I do offer them regular cauliflower when we have it.  They don’t like cauliflower roasted/steamed/cooked/raw, but we’ll keep trying.  I don’t agree with”hiding” vegetables in kids’ food for every meal, but this added interesting flavor and texture.   Plus, I don’t need to cook a separate vegetable because it is already in the side dish!  Two for one!  Woot woot!

Ham and Cheese Crustless Quiche

Ham and Cheese Crustless Quiche on Whisk Together

Book:  We finished “Walt Disney” by Bob Scollen and it was a treat.  What an amazing life the man led!  I am sure there was a lot left out since it was a juvenile book, but maybe that is for another time.

I finished reading Desires and Devices: A History of Contraceptives in America by Andrea Tone as well.  It was written by a professor and done so eloquently.  If you ever want to find a conspiracy or research in regards to contradicting our assumptions, this book would fit the bill.  One example, for all of our advances the United States is still highest in pregnancy rates in people under 20 (only Hungary beats us).   The entire last half of the book was on the pill and the Dalkon Shield failure.  The failure resulted in a halt on research everywhere in order to keep from being sued into bankruptcy basically.  (Maybe that’s why nothing really new has come out in like 30 years?)  An interesting social history on the United States with great attention to detail into the fraud and deceit behind some of the studies done to move ahead in science and technology.

Recipe:  No really good way to segue into a crustless quiche from that topic!  Well, we had a ton of leftover delicious bestest ham ever from the holidays and made this quick quiche for dinner.  YUM!  Dinner, breakfast, brunch whatever!  Use any meat you want, any veggie and any cheese.  Maybe I should call it the “Whatever Crustless Quiche.”  🙂

Ham and Cheese Crustless Quiche_2 on Whisk Together

Ham and Cheese Crustless Quiche

Ingredients

  • Ham and Cheese Crustless Quiche
  • serves 6-8
  • 6 ounces cooked ham, diced (about 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup chopped cooked broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or 1 cup uncooked baby spinach
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese (or any mixture), about 1/2 cup
  • 8 large eggs or 7 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. Sprinkle the ham, vegetables and cheese into the plate.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour onto top of the meat. Bake about 30 minutes. Jiggle the quiche to see if it is set. If not, bake another 5 minutes.
  5. Cool for a few minutes, serve and eat!
  6. Recipe adapted from Food.com
http://www.whisktogether.com/2015/01/10/ham-and-cheese-crustless-quiche/

Ham and Cheese Crustless Quiche
serves 6-8

6 ounces cooked ham, diced (about 1 and 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup chopped cooked broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or 1 cup uncooked baby spinach
4 ounces cheddar cheese (or any mixture), about 1/2 cup
8 large eggs or 7 extra large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a pie plate with cooking spray.
Sprinkle the ham, vegetables and cheese into the plate.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
Pour onto top of the meat.  Bake about 30 minutes.  Jiggle the quiche to see if it is set.  If not, bake another 5 minutes.
Cool for a few minutes, serve and eat!

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Sausage Egg Muffins

Egg Sausage Muffins_2 on Whisk Together

Hope everyone had a GREAT Halloween!  Ours was a little chilly…. like 37 degrees and hands freezing chilly.  But the kids got their loot before 8pm, so they were all happy.

 

Egg Sausage Muffins on Whisk Together1

Recipe:  All buggers aside, this recipe is SUPER yummy, SUPER easy, SUPER healthy and Freezer Friendly.  How can you go wrong?  I make a bunch of these to freeze for later and put in the fridge for breakfast for the week.  Juliana loves them.  Maddox still doesn’t like scrambled eggs (weird, I know, but he loves tuna and used to eat garlic straight from the jar), so we left him out of the taste testing sample.  Be sure to change this up to your preferences or tastes.  The pork sausage could be turkey sausage or any breakfast meat.  The cheddar cheese could be swiss, gouda or anything else that tastes great with eggs.  The veggies could be bell peppers, chopped asparagus, corn, spinach, or really anything you had leftover from the night before could go into these.

These would work well in a mini muffin pan, too!  It is like a crustless quiche and fabulous for parties, brunches, breakfasts, or we even ate them for lunch.

 

Sausage Egg Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2-1 pound pork sausage (we used 1 lb.)
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sliced leeks or chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a 12 muffin pan with lots of cooking spray or cooking liners. Cook sausage until done and crumbled - about 10 minutes.
  2. In a great big bowl: beat the eggs until well mixed. Add veggies: onion, green peppers, salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked sausage and cheese.
  3. Divide the egg mixture between the muffin cups. They will fill about 2/3 of the way up.
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes. The eggs should be cooked all the way through - use a toothpick to test doneness in the middle.
  5. Cool on wire rack. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes and eat. Or cool completely and stash in a ziplock bag in the fridge or freezer.
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/11/04/sausage-egg-muffins/

Sausage Egg Muffins
serves 12

1/2-1 pound pork sausage (we used 1 lb.)
12 eggs
1/2 cup sliced leeks or chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (optional)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prep a 12 muffin pan with lots of cooking spray or cooking liners.  Cook sausage until done and crumbled – about 10 minutes.
2.  In a great big bowl:  beat the eggs until well mixed.  Add veggies:  onion, green peppers, salt and pepper.  Stir in the cooked sausage and cheese.
3.  Divide the egg mixture between the muffin cups.  They will fill about 2/3 of the way up.
4.  Bake for 25-35 minutes.  The eggs should be cooked all the way through – use a toothpick to test doneness in the middle.
5.  Cool on wire rack.  Remove from the pan after 10 minutes and eat.  Or cool completely and stash in a ziplock bag in the fridge or freezer.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Summer Vegetable Tian with Caramelized Onions

Summer Vegetable Tian on Whisk Together2

*Book Update*  I finished “Before Happiness” by Shawn Achor and find it even better than his first book, “The Happiness Advantage.”  The problem with a lot of these college studies is their sample source:  young college students.  Most of us aren’t young college students and most of us were not privileged to attend Harvard, Yale or Columbia.  Nevertheless, the book is a fountain of great information, some funny side notes and practical use into the family and professional life.

I am almost finished with “Million Dollar Arm” which is a fun and fast read.  I don’t really care about sports all that much, but this book is so fun to read that the subject doesn’t matter.  The gripping story about two young men brought back from India to the United States to learn to play baseball professionally is just crazy – people prepare all their lives for this event and these two boys are so dedicated that they make it to the minor leagues!

  (Amazon photo)   (Amazon photo)

*FREE FOOD and FREE SNACKS*  “Graze” has been advertising a bit on my Facebook feed, but I finally received a coupon to try a whole box of snacks absolutely FREE.    Now here is the link so you get your first box free as well.  It is like Netflix starting out – you just cancel before getting charged if you don’t want anymore- but still get to try out their stuff.  I love natural and I love free!  🙂  You get a free box “coupon” in your account, and then order your box.  It didn’t charge me for it and due to arrive in a couple weeks.  I can’t wait!

nibble box

Here is the link for free food!  http://www.graze.com/us/p/MARYEL9CF

**Recipe **  “Tian de Courgettes aux Tomates”  This recipe is from France and called a Summer Vegetable Tian.  I have seen it called a gratin elsewhere.  Most produce boxes this time of year are going to be FULL of zucchini and tomatoes.  The summer vegetable tian uses many of them and rightfully so.  I made half a batch and should have made the entire 9×13 because it went so fast.  The kids… well, they weren’t thrilled, but they tried it.  Personally, I think it was worth it because it was so delicious and highly recommend it.   Not quite the looker in presentation – it makes up for it in taste.

Everything tastes better with Caramelized onions on it anyway!

What I’ve been eating like almost every day:  Whole Wheat Waffles with natural maple sugar free syrup every morning substituting applesauce for oil and white whole wheat flour for the AP flour.  We eat these at least 4 times a month!  Trying mainly at dinner time and work from there.

Update on family favorite Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins:  using applesauce for oil, white whole wheat flour for AP flour and no brown sugar, each muffin is 158 calories each!  That might be good or bad for you…. I dunno.

Summer Vegetable Tian with Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil (might not use it all up... that's okay)
  • 3 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4"
  • 2 garlic cloves, mince or press
  • 1 lb. zucchini, 1/4" thick
  • 1 lb. yellow squash, 1/4" thick (or use same amount of zucchini)
  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes, 1/4" thick
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/4. tsp. dried thyme
  • black pepper
  • 2 oz. Greyere cheese or Parmesan cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)

Instructions

  1. Spray 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. In large nonstick skillet, add 2 Tb oil. Heat over medium heat. Add onions.
  4. Cook with 1/2 tsp. salt for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Add garlic. Cook 30 seconds.
  6. Take onions and garlic and pour into prepped 9x13 pan.
  7. Shingle the zucchini, squash and tomatoes in one layer.
  8. Sprinkle 1 Tb. oil and thyme. Add salt and pepper.
  9. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20-30 minutes.
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/07/10/summer-vegetable-tian-with-caramelized-onions/

Recipe without Plugin:

Summer Vegetable Tian with Caramelized Onions

1/4 cup olive oil (might not use it all up… that’s okay)
3 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4″
2 garlic cloves, mince or press
1 lb. zucchini, 1/4″ thick
1 lb. yellow squash, 1/4″ thick (or use same amount of zucchini)
1 lb. plum tomatoes, 1/4″ thick
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/4. tsp. dried thyme
black pepper
2 oz. Greyere cheese or Parmesan cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)

Spray 9×13″ baking dish with cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large nonstick skillet, add 2 Tb oil.  Heat over medium heat.  Add onions.
Cook with 1/2 tsp. salt for 12-15 minutes.
Add garlic.  Cook 30 seconds.
Take onions and garlic and pour into prepped 9×13 pan.
Shingle the zucchini, squash and tomatoes in one layer.
Sprinkle 1 Tb. oil and thyme.  Add salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake 20-30 minutes.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Next post I am working on…

Lose 30 pounds

Smothered Pork and Cheesy Grits

Smothered Pork Chops and Cheesy Grits_3 on Whisk Together

I found an interesting book entitled “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter:  What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch” by Jennifer Reese.  It’s very charming, funny and witty.  It is like reading exactly what goes on inside my head… which is kind of scary and comforting at the same time.  I also enjoy the fact that she goes through each recipe and tells it like it is.  She comes often to the same conclusions I have about baking your own biscuits from scratch (yes, please for the love of everything please do!), if making your own yogurt is worth the cost, and if you can really make your own mascarpone cheese.  Here is an excerpt and example of what I mean:

“Owen needs cupcakes for school and look, here they are, ready to go, packed in clamshells.  Nutritionally irredeemable — but made.  Sixteen dollars for twenty-four supermarket trans-fat packed cupcakes?  Good grief.  I’ll bake.  That means I need eggs and the eggs here sure are cheap.  But I can’t buy them here because these eggs are laid by debeaked chickens living in cages the size of Tic Tac boxes.  If only I’d gone to the farmers’ market on Sunday and bought eggs there…But how do I know that guy treats his chickens well just because the eggs are blue?  And honestly, do I even really care about chickens.  I can’t believe I’m spending three dollars per pound for these crunchy tomaoes.  I shoould grow them, just like Barbara Kingsolver.  How does she find the time to make her own cheese and breed her own heritage turkeys and write books?  I need to work harder, sleep less, never watch TV again.  Wait, there’s high fructose corn syrup in Campbell’s vegetable soup?  Isn’t that supposed to be a deal breaker?”

Source: page 2 of “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter” by Jennifer Reese

Smothered Pork Chops and Cheesy Grits on Whisk Together

**RECIPE**

This recipe was published in Food Network Magazine last month.  The reviews also give it 5 stars.  Yippee!

The recipe was fast and easy to make.  I really did complete it well under 30 minutes.  It was something fun and different.  We don’t have grits very often and not sure why… they were quite tasty.  I’m sure the restaurants add more cheese.  The kids were not given the onions on top (which is fine – more for me!) and ate the pork right up, although they did not care for grits…. or my side of kale and apples which is another recipe post 🙂

Photo of making the gravy.  Because everything tastes good with gravy!

Smothered Pork Chops and Cheesy Grits on Whisk Together_4

 

Smothered Pork and Cheesy Grits

Ingredients

  • 2 tsps. olive, grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 4 - 3/4" thick boneless pork chops (about 1.5 lbs is about right)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large red onion or 2 small/medium red onions, sliced thin
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking grits
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • fresh or dried parsley (optional, but keeps the dish from looking bland)

Instructions

  1. On stovetop, heat a nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat with the oil. My 13" pan was plenty big.
  2. Salt and pepper the pork chops. Cook on one side until browned - about 3-4 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Now, add the onions and cook 3 minutes or so. They should be a little brown.
  4. Bring down the heat to medium-low and add flour. Stir 2 minutes.
  5. Add broth and bay leaf. Cook 3 minutes or slightly thickened.
  6. Add back the pork chops and cook them through (145 degrees).
  7. While the pork is cooking, in a medium or large pot boil 2 and 1/4 cups water. Add grits, 1/2 tsp. salt. Heat for 5 minutes. Stir once in a while and they should become thicker. Now, stir in the cheese. Reduce heat and keep warm until serving.
  8. Plate grits. Then the pork and top everything with the onions and gravy. Toss a little parsley on top so the pork and grits don't look so sad.
  9. Enjoy!
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/05/22/smothered-pork-and-cheesy-grits/

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