Saturday, December 29, 2012

Time to Think Spring

I just got my first seed catalog in the mail yesterday. Yep, it's that time to start planning your garden. I want to try some new veggies and some new management practices. If anyone knows of any way of "weeding" that doesn't require back strain and pulling, please share with me. I have been perusing the catalog and am getting excited to get my hands dirty. My biggest problem is that once school starts, the garden goes by the wayside in September. So, I need to keep up my enthusiasm for at least 9 months. I will post soon with future gardening plans.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Recipe Ideas Update

As I stated in my previous post yesterday, New Recipe Ideas, I tried a recipe for spaghetti squash. Mind you, I don't care for squash in particular. I've always found that squash 'taste" to be too much, with the exception of pumpkin. I don't care for yams, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes. I grew butternut squash last year in the hopes of "liking" it, but did not. Even with the addition of dubious amounts of brown sugar, butter, pineapple and marshmallows. It fell short for me.l

So here I bought a "start" at the local Bi-Mart store that actually had two plants in the little pot. So I planted them. And off did they go! Holy, Moly! I had spaghetti squash galore, coming out at me from all sides. Well, I had never even tried spaghetti squash, yet even enjoyed any squash except pumpkin. And I had never grown a pumpkin. So, I really, really hoped we liked it. Because... we had so many. So, when to harvest. Well... I don't know. so I harvested at all stages because I didn't know what to look for. Don't harvest when they are still green and stripey. Too soon. I have green and stripey, orange and a little stripey, and beige (perfect!).

Okay, so my recipe critique of Spaghetti Squash Gratin. First, I learned spaghetti squash does not have that "squash, yam... taste."  So I liked it. But... it is kind of bland, so the bacon helped. I would recommend using a stronger cheese like sharp cheddar in this dish. Mozzarella got very lost. Also, I will add next time, butter and some brown sugar. This dish needs dome perking up! It is good... but it needs more than the original recipe. I will add butter next time, too. Overall, an okay dish, but trust me, it needs: butter, sharp cheddar, and brown sugar. Let me know your thoughts if you try this and any tweaking that you do.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Recipe Ideas

Now that I am on Christmas break, I have had the opportunity to search for some new recipes. I find that I often get in a rut, fixing the same thing over and over again. Here are some new ideas for you to try.

I found this recipe for Pizza Dip over at Closet Cooking. Give it a try. It is ooey, gooey goodness. Tweak it and add whatever toppings you like. I like to use toasted french bread slices to scoop up this delicious dip.

Pizza Dip
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded/grated
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 2 ounces pepperoni, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons green pepper, sliced (I used mushrooms, instead)
  • 2 tablespoons black olives, sliced
  1. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream mayonnaise, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano and spread it across the bottom of a pie plate.
  2. Spread the pizza sauce on top and sprinkle on the cheese, pepperoni, green pepper and olives.
  3. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the sides are bubbling and the cheese cheese has melted and turned golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.
This recipe for peanut butter cups is not new, but I make it every year for the holidays and thought you may like to try it.

Peanut Butter Cups

1/3 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix well and chill. Roll into 24 balls, about 1/2 tsp each, and place in paper cup lined mini muffin tin.

1/2 C creamy peanut butter
8 oz milk chocolate chips
Melt in microwave 1-2 min. and stir well. Cover peanut butter balls with chocolate and chill in fridge.

I found this gratin recipe at The Fresh Princess of Bon Air. I plan on making this tomorrow, so can't say yet how we like it. I will update.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Walnuts and Bacon
adapted from Mele Cotte

Spaghetti squash, about 3-4 lbs
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/3 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup cheese (dry mozzarella, or whatever you have on hand)
1 tsp chili powder
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Carefully slice the squash in half (heating it in the microwave for 2 minutes or so makes this process a lot easier!) and remove seeds.  Rub flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder.  Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily comb a fork through the flesh.

Scrape out all of the "spaghetti" flesh from each half and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place half of squash in a greased 8x8 baking dish.  Top with bacon crumbles, toasted nuts, and HALF of the shredded cheese.  Top with remaining squash, followed by remaining cheese and panko crumbs.

Increase oven temperature to 375 and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the top is brown and the cheese has melted.

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal, courtesy of Monica at theyummylife
My slow cooker cooks fast. I know, sounds funny but it really does and so 7 hours is too long for my crock pot. So I need to make it the day before and reheat, or get up early and allow about 5 hours of cooking. I also changed of couple of things, for instance, I use 2% milk and do not add flax seed.

Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal
By Monica              Servings: 7 (3/4-cup) servings
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2-1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk (or substitute non-diary alternative like almond milk)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute maple syrup or other desired sweetener)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk or butter
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approx. 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup fat-free milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.

Nutritional Info (per 3/4 cup serving): 149 calories, 3.6g fat, 27.3g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 4.9g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts 
Let me know if you try any of these and I welcome your feedback.