Chorizo Corn Bread

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This corn bread can be a great side item or a main in and of itself! We enjoyed it with a side of braised brussels sprouts and green peas. I adapted the corn bread part of the recipe from the Pioneer Woman, but tweaked it. You could easily make it gluten by substituting gluten-free flour for the AP flour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package fresh chorizo sausage (not the hard dried kind)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk (whole is best)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoons coconut oil

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir together.
  • Measure the buttermilk and milk into a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir.
  • Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until combined.
  • In a small bowl, melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil in the microwave (not too hot). Slowly add the melted shortening to the batter, stirring until just combined.
  • Sautee onion and chorizo in a cast-iron skillet breaking up meat into small pieces. Cook until lightly browned.
  • In the cast-iron skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of shortening with chorizo and onion mixture. Pour the batter into the hot skillet. (The batter should sizzle.) Spread to even out the surface. Cook on the stovetop for 1 minute, and then transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. The edges should be crispy! Test with a toothpick in the middle for doneness.
  • Cut and enjoy!

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Tips for Better Pancakes

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Here are my top two tips for pancakes no matter what recipe you use (though I have some favorites):

– Cook them in a cast-iron skillet. Nothing else gives you the same golden brown, crisp outside like at a restaurant. Make sure you let your pan heat up long enough and don’t cook higher than medium.

– Let your batter sit before cooking. After you mix together the dry and wet ingredients (never over mix), let the batter sit for about 10 minutes.

I’ll share some favorite pancake recipes and ingredients in another post, but this will get you started. Pancakes are easy and tasty to make at home!

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

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My boys love breakfast items made with pumpkin. Pancakes, waffles and now cookies! Plus these cookies are wheat-free. So for anyone that’s looking for gluten-free recipes, you have to try this one. 

A quick search last night turned up a few recipes for “pumpkin breakfast cookies.” I browsed them and looked over the needed ingredients before settling on this one from a blog called “From the Little Yellow Kitchen.” The photo above shows how mine turned out. Plan on about 15 minutes of prep time and then 13 minutes of bake time.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies {Gluten-free}

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup oat flour (rolled oats, well ground in food processor)

1  3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup dark brown sugar (light worked fine for me)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1  1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Alternatively, you can lightly grease mini-muffin cups and baking cookies in there.

Make oat flour, by grinding about 1 1/4 cups oats in a food processor, until finely ground, about 1-2 minutes.

In bowl of stand mixer, combine pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine oat flour, oats, maple syrup, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. The cookie dough will be thick.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of dough onto prepared cookie sheets or mini muffin cups and slightly flatten to the shape you want your cookie, as they won’t move much in the oven.

Bake for 13-14 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Cookies will stay fresh at room temperature for 4 days in an airtight container, or for about a week in the fridge.

(From the Little Yellow Kitchen blog)

 

Menu for the Week of Nov. 10

Enjoy!

naanSunday:

  • Naan bread pizzas – pepperoni on top for the boys and chicken / red onion / red pepper / mushroom / goat cheese / pesto for us! Do yourself a favor and make some homemade Naan bread. It was even easier than I thought. You only have to knead it for 3 minutes. It was the best I’ve ever had and made delicious flat-bread pizza. If you don’t have time, pick up a package at the store. The trick to homemade pizza is using just enough sauce and cheese. It takes less than you think it will. That will keep it from getting soggy. Back at 400 for 8 minutes or so.
  • Salad – bibb lettuce, roma tomato chopped, half an avocado chopped,  red onion, goat cheese, red wine vinegar and olive oil drizzled on top with any of your favorite seasonings.

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • Soup night! Oh my. This Provencal Vegetable Soup from Ina Garten is amazing. I made this on Friday and it was so good! Make it up Monday evening so it’s ready to eat Tuesday. The chopping takes the longest part. It doesn’t need much time to cook. If you don’t have the time to make the “Pistou” then you can sub it with some store bought pesto and then mix in a little tomato paste. It added a great complex flavor to it.
  • Serve with some fresh bread.

Wednesday:

  • Leftovers or Take-Out

Thursday:

  • Grilled Boneless Pork Loin Chops, Brined and Honey Glazed – Easy and juicy pork chops! Two things I always want in pork chops that I cook. Serve with some Chardonnay or Riesling.
  • Roasted broccoli – Chop broccoli, drizzle a little olive oil over it, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness.
  • French fries – Chop up a fresh potato or buy some Alexia brand frozen ones. Those are my go-to for quick fries.

Friday:

  • Sweet and Sour Shrimp – Yes you can make this take-out staple at home. It’s that easy! Make sure you buy Florida or Caribbean shrimp and nothing from Thailand please. You will be glad you did for both the flavor and knowing you supported good business practices.
  • White or Brown steamed rice – If you don’t have a rice cooker yet, you want one. Even people that cannot make rice can make it in one of these. In Japan, everyone uses them. You don’t have to spend much to get the job done.

Menu for the Week of Nov. 3

Every week it’s my goal to have our family’s dinner menu prepared on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes it happens as planned and sometimes it’s a work in progress. Here’s our menu for this week. You definitely need to try out the easy to make spaghetti sauce from Sunday another day this week.

Sunday:

  • Spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce from Giada De Laurentiis. This was great. My only recommendation to tweak the recipe is once you’ve sautéed the veggies, puree them with a stick blender if you have one or mash by hand (if you don’t have one, put this on your wish list. They come in super handy).
  • Roasted turkey breast. Make this or any other meat to have with your pasta or make it a vegetarian night and omit it.
  • Green beans. I used 16 oz. frozen cut green beans. Sautee them in a pan for a few minutes until thawed and warm. Add a tablespoon of butter and lightly brown. Dump in 1/4 cup or less of white wine, 1 small tomato chopped, dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Let cook on low until desired tenderness.
  • Olive oil, rosemary bread. Just like the bread from Macaroni Grill but better! Plus it has mostly whole wheat flour. I did the dough in my bread machine on the dough cycle, then let it rise on the counter before baking.

Monday:

  • Quick chicken tacos. Stop by the store and pick up a rotisserie chicken, a package of small tortillas (flour or corn), lettuce, salsa, greek yogurt (did you know you can replace this for sour cream and get 23 g of protein per serving?) and maybe some black beans. Pull the chicken off the bones and heat if needed. Fill up your tacos and enjoy!
  • Fresh Raspberries. While you’re at the grocery store, stop by the produce section. If your family doesn’t like berries, serve some sliced apples or some other fruit.

Tuesday:

  • Steak. You can go all out with your cut of beef and get a Ribeye or NY Strip, but some top sirloin will do just fine. Here’s the trick. Put your steak on a plate and season well with Montreal Steak Seasoning (or any other of your favorite blends). Rub it into both sides. Let sit in the fridge on the plate for at least an hour up to overnight. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to grill, let sit on the counter. Preheat your grill at Medium / Medium-High depending on your grill. If the steak is about 1.5 inches thick grill it for about 5 minutes per side max. Use the poke test (shown in this short video) to see if it’s done. Put onto a clean plate or cutting board and cover with foil. Let rest before slicing at least 5 minutes, but 8-10 is good. Slice against the grain and serve.
  • Braised Fennel with White Beans. My son picked out fennel one day while shopping at Whole Foods with me, so we found this recipe to try. If you’ve never had fennel before, you have to try this. If you don’t eat meat, this is perfect too.
  • Eggplant Chips with Basil Yogurt Dip. Who knew eggplant could be this good?! If you don’t have yogurt, use a little sour cream instead.

Wednesday:

  • Leftovers or Take-out

Thursday:

  • Shrimp and Grits. There are a lot of good recipes for this out there. You can find at least 10 on Food Network alone. My biggest recommendation is to use good quality grits. Never use instant (repeat to yourself) and look for whole grain grits that have at least a couple of grams of fiber. My favorite are from Bob’s Red Mill. Publix sells them. Variations on all of the recipes include using milk and / or chicken stock in place of some or all of the water, using peppers or tomatoes in with the shrimp, etc. Find a recipe you like and play around. Here’s one from Bobby Flay.
  • Roasted Okra. Slice them, drizzle, sprinkle and put in the oven – no more sliminess! Voila.

Friday

  • Roast Beef. I always wanted to make roast beef so that it sliced thin for sandwiches at home and was juicy. One day I found this recipe from a newspaper in Oregon. It works! Only ingredients are beef and salt. You need a couple of hours at home to cook it and plan to start it the night before by letting it rest in the fridge. Check out the recipe.
  • Salad. Bored with the same old thing. Try this. Chop up some romaine lettuce, onion, semi-ripe pear, goat cheese crumbled, tomatoes, cucumber and this balsamic vinaigrette that is my family’s go-to dressing.
  • Bread / French fries / Potato Chips. Enjoy something fun here. It’s Friday!

Breakfast Cookies and Muffins!

Here are two recipes that you can make, eat and save some of for later! One is sweet and one savory.

“Oatmeal & Cherry Breakfast Cookies”
Made these today and they were so good! All four of us enjoyed them. The boys kept smiling saying “cookies for breakfast!”
Great served with coffee or milk.
I found the recipe in a book called “Clean Eating for Busy Families” and you can find it here at Edible Phoenix.
With oats, whole wheat flour, fruit, nuts, milk and a little oil, it provides a filling and lasting breakfast at home or on the go. I used raisins instead of cherries, because that’s what I had on hand. The only substitution I may do next time would be to cut the sugar down. It calls for 1 cup of brown sugar. I think you’d be fine with 1/2 or 3/4 cup.

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“Ham & Cheese Muffins”
These are great for breakfast with or without an egg on the side. I’ve got some in the freezer right now and they heat up real quick.
I found this recipe at Weelicious. It’s a great recipe site for families.

Who Doesn’t Like Kale (Chips)?

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You’ve probably heard by now that kale isn’t just good for you, but it’s a “super food.” I like it in smoothies, sautéed, in soups, but one of the easiest and tastiest ways to make it is into kale chips. My two and four year old enjoy them just like they were potato chips, so I bet you will too!

Buy a bunch of kale, rinse, dry off. Tear of the leaves from the stems (discard the stems). Then you want to rip them into potato chip size pieces… not too big, not too small. If they’re too big they will get soggy while baking instead of crisp.

Preheat your oven to 325.

Put them in a pile on a cookie sheet and drizzle or spritz a little olive oil on them (no more than a teaspoon). Sprinkle some salt and just a bit of garlic powder (if you like garlic). Spread them around on the cookie sheet so that they are not overlapping much. Put into oven for 12-15 minutes.

You want to watch them at about 12 minutes. The trick is to get them just until they’re crisp, but before the ends starting getting yellowish / brown. Pull them out, put in a bowl and enjoy!