May 23, 2015

Lunch for One: Baked Potato with Broccoli and Cheese

Broccoli Cheese Potato

There are many reasons you’d want to have a stash of “table for one” recipes:  You could be a stay-at-home mom (or work-from-home mom, like me) and you don’t want hot dogs or buttered noodles or whatever it is your toddler will deign to consume this week; it could be you live alone and don’t need to make a recipe that serves 6; or it could be a case where the other people around you want something else, and you need a dish you can whip up quickly just for you.   Whatever the case, this Baked Potato with Broccoli and Cheese feeds one person perfectly!

I cooked both the potato and the broccoli in the microwave.  You could use leftover baked potatoes; you could also use frozen broccoli instead of fresh.  The important thing is the cheese sauce!  No Velveeta here – just regular ingredients you have around your house come together in 4 minutes for a creamy, healthy sauce.  I had a little Boursin cheese leftover – about an ounce – or you could use goat cheese or even cream cheese if you don’t have Boursin.  If you have none of those and are just using grated cheese, add about a quarter cup more cheese, plus a hefty shake of garlic salt or garlic powder.

Lunch for One:  Baked Potato with Broccoli and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 potato (any kind – I like Yukon Gold)
  • 1 small head of broccoli (or use about 8 ounces frozen broccoli)
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 ounce Boursin or goat cheese (or use cream cheese, plus garlic powder, salt and pepper)

Directions:

  1. Chop the broccoli into smallish pieces, and microwave until steamed.  Not too crisp, but definitely not mushy.  Set aside.
  2. Microwave the potato.  I poked holes in the potato with a fork, wrapped it in a wet dishcloth, and microwaved until soft and pliable.  Set aside.
  3. In a pan, melt the butter and add the flour over medium-low heat.  Stir together (this is a roux) for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the milk and stir until it blends into the sauce and starts to thicken.  Add the cheeses (and spices if using) and stir until hot and melted.
  5. Stir the broccoli into the cheese sauce.  Split the potato in half and smother with broccoli and cheese.

Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana


To view even more of Dana’s unique recipe, you can visit her at Frugal Girlmet!

Rustic Sausage, Potatoes, and Veggies

Sometimes you need a few quick and easy to fix meals in your menu plan that are still healthy but oh-so-yummy…wouldn’t you agree?  This is one of those kinds of meals for us—tiny potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and chicken sausage roast in the oven with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and herbs.  Start-to-finish this took about 15 minutes or less to prep.   Oh…and only one pan to clean up!  That’s a big plus, too.

I just love sausage!   Finding these chicken sausage products from al fresco  made me very happy!  They make them in a few varieties; and  in links as well as patties.  I like to keep a package in the freezer.  Click the link above and check out the nutrition facts…you’ll be happily surprised, i think!   You can slice up the raw sausage links…(divide each link into fourths.)  I remove the meat from the casings and just dollop it around the pan in smallish little ‘meatballs.’  You choose!

This is a really easy dish to make!  Make sure to cut everything about the same size and don’t crowd the pan.    I served this alongside some steamed fresh green beans.  Enjoy!

Rustic Chicken Sausage, Potatoes, and Veggies

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ingredients:

16 ounce package fresh (raw) Italian chicken sausage
1# baby potatoes, scrubbed and halved
1 large Vidalia onion, cut into half moons
10-12 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon EACH  sea salt, freshly ground pepper

directions:

  • preheat oven to 375
  • line large baking sheet with parchment paper (optional)
  • place cut-up veggies in a large bowl with the olive oil and s&p
  • stir together to thoroughly coat the veggies
  • pour out onto the lined baking sheet
  • scatter the sausage pieces evenly around the pan
  • bake for 35-40 minutes ’til potatoes just begin to brown a bit
  • season to taste (if necessary) with s&p

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

God loves you!  ♥  (Please don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen

Fruit Pizza

Fruit Pizza Close

My daughter turned four last week, and we had her friends over for an old-school birthday party:  pizza, some play time, and cake.  Except…instead of cake…I presented her with another pizza:  this Fruit Pizza!  All the kids thought it was hilarious – and then the glorious silence of small children who are too busy eating to talk!

This is incredibly easy.  Just make sure you give yourself enough time for the cookie to cool before you frost it.  You can use homemade sugar cookie dough, but a log of store-bought cookie dough saves time and is just as good.  Decorate with any fruits you like – the more colorful the better! – but if you think you might have a lot of leftovers, save really delicate or juicy fruits – like kiwi, mandarin oranges, or bananas – until you are ready to eat it.

Fruit Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 6 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons milk (optional, to thin out the frosting)
  • squeeze of lemon (optional, but I like a more balanced frosting)
  • 2 cups sliced fruit of your choice – berries, halved grapes, sliced kiwi, mandarin oranges, whatever you like – the more colorful, the better!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.  Cover your largest baking sheet (or a pizza stone!) with parchment paper.  Spread out the cookie dough into a big circle.  (I put a plastic baggie over my hand because the dough was sticking and it worked well.)  Flatten to about 1/4″ thick.  Bake until lightly golden – it took about 22 minutes for me.  Keep in mind – the dough will spread a lot!  If you don’t have a very large baking sheet, you may want to make your pizza oval-shaped, just so it doesn’t climb up the sides of your baking sheet when it spreads.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese,  vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.  If you would like a smoother frosting, add a tablespoon of milk at a time, until you reach your desired texture.  Also you can add a squeeze of lemon (it balances out the sweetness.)
  3. When the cookie crust is cool, cover with the frosting, but leave a border around the edges (so you can see the pizza “crust”).  Decorate with sliced fruit and serve.  Keep refrigerated.

Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana


To view even more of Dana’s unique recipe, you can visit her at Frugal Girlmet!

School Birthday Muffins

School Birthday Muffins

It’s nice to be able to make a healthy snack for your family.  It’s also nice to have a recipe in your arsenal that makes a LOT of healthy snacks!  This recipe for School Birthday Muffins fits that bill!

This is a recipe my daughter’s preschool gave me in case I wanted to bring a treat for her birthday.  No nuts, so we can include kids with nut allergies, and pretty healthy to boot.  The recipe specifies “6 cups of chopped fruit,” so that leaves it open to a lot of variations.  You can easily use six cups of mashed banana, if you want to make it easy on yourself!  Also try canned pumpkin, or a combination of berries and bananas.

Next time one of your little ones has a birthday, maybe bring these to share with her class.  Your child’s teacher will thank you!

School Birthday Muffins (adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)
(makes 3 dozen)

Ingredients:

Wet

  • 2 sticks butter, or soy margarine, or vegan butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk, or soy milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups chopped fruit – I used 3 apples and 1 cup of baby carrots, chopped in the food processor, along with 2 cups of Craisins

Dry

  • 6 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Grease muffin tin or use paper liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs; then the milk and vanilla.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the fruit.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.  Stir in the wet ingredients until just mixed.  Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full of batter.
  4. Bake for about 32 minutes, or until puffy and golden.  Remove muffins from tin and cool on a baking rack.  Store in a sealed container.

Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana


To view even more of Dana’s unique recipe, you can visit her at Frugal Girlmet!

Tex-Mex Shrimp, Tomatoes and Olives

Tenga un feliz Cinco de Mayo!  (Have a happy 5th of May!)  From what I have read the citizens of Mexico do not really celebrate Cinco de Mayo like we here in the United States do!  (What is that all about?!?)  But nevertheless we do!  According to a number of <seemingly> reputable sources, there are more Mexican/Tex-Mexican restaurants here in the US than any other ethnic-style restaurants.
And we all have our favorites, right? Of course, tacos in all their many variations probably reign supreme. But guacamole, salsa & chips, burritos, _________ (fill in your fav!) are extremely popular also.  Do you and your loved ones plan to indulge in some Mex or Tex-Mex foods today?
Here is a dish that Robert and I enjoyed recently which would be perfect for lunch or supper!  I served it with homemade guacamole (easy-peasy!) along with this black bean salad.  This meal fit so well into our healthy but oh-so-yummy POV—lots of fresh veggies, healthy fats, and protein low in fat and calories. But, best of all, delicioso! ¡Buen provecho! (Enjoy!)

Tex-Mex Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Olives

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ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced into thin half moons
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and very thinly sliced, (optional)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 (or more!) cup pitted green olives
1 lime, zested and juiced
lemon-pepper seasoning, to taste
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges (for garnish)

directions:

  • heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat
  • add onion and jalapeños (if using), cook for 7-8 minutes ‘til just beginning to soften
  • lower heat and add garlic; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute
  • stir in tomato halves, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes’ til tomatoes begin to soften
  • add olives, lime juice, and zest; cook for 5 minutes more to allow flavors to blend
  • season well with lemon-pepper seasoning (or simply salt & pepper)
  • garnish as desired

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

God loves you!  ♥  (Please don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen

Sriracha Popcorn

Sriracha Popcorn

I have a well-documented popcorn addiction.  I’m not ashamed!  I like to fiddle around with the flavorings and see if I can change it up from regular butter and salt.  I think this one is an experiment gone RIGHT:  Sriracha Popcorn!

I went pretty easy on the Sriracha because I knew my girls would want to eat some of this and I didn’t want to burn their little tongues.  But if you live in a house full of chile heads, crank it up!  I used honey to balance out the spiciness, but you could use brown sugar instead.  Ready to get poppin’?  Let’s go!

Sriracha Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce – use more if you like!)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash, Italian herb blend, or other seasoning blend
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or coconut oil for popping
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small pan over very low heat, melt together the butter with the Sriracha, honey, and seasoning blend.
  2. Meanwhile, pop the popcorn in the grapeseed oil.
  3. When popcorn is popped, pour the Sriracha butter over the popcorn.  Cover with a lid and shake.  Add salt to taste and shake again.  Store any leftovers in a Ziploc bag.

Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana


To view even more of Dana’s unique recipe, you can visit her at Frugal Girlmet!

PorkChops with Mushroom-Tarragon Sauce

Recently we were on vacation in Florida and spent a few days with my sister and brother-in-law.  We had been having meals out for a week or so…and I was really missing a home-cooked meal.  They graciously prepared supper our first night visiting them…and it was my brother-in-law’s version of this dish.  Simply delicious!  (Thank you, Tony and Brenda!)

A few days after we returned home to New York, I thought about this dish.  It is simple and quick (aren’t some of your best meals just like that?).  But full of flavor from the caramelized onions and mushrooms, the abudance of garlic, and the subtle flavor that herbs—in this case, tarragon—add.   The prep and cooking time amount to just about 30 minutes or so. This fits well into our healthy but oh-so-yummy POV since the pork chops are low in fat and protein-rich.  The entire dish  includes just a small amount of olive oil…and just a little bit of carbs.  You can make this your own by increasing the quantity of mushrooms or perhaps using a variety of mushrooms!  This goes along well with quite a variety of side dishes.  We enjoyed it with our family served with black rice and broccoli; I prepared it at home with one of our current favorites, this Sweet Potato-Spinach Mash.  Enjoy!

Mushroom-Tarragon Pork Chops

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ingredients:
4 boneless pork chops (5 or 6 ounces each)
1+ teaspoon lemon-pepper blend, freshly ground
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3/4 pound Baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 medium sweet onion, halved and sliced into half-moons
2 tablespoons minced garlic (I use jarred)
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
2 tablespoons brown rice (or all-purpose) flour
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon

directions:

  • coat both sides of pork chops with lemon-pepper blend
  • in a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil, and then add pork chops
  • quickly brown (about 2 minutes each side), and then remove, cover and keep warm
  • in the same pan, saute mushrooms and onion in additional teaspoon of oil ’til lightly caramelized
  • lower heat and add garlic; stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute longer
  • stir in wine; raise heat to medium and bring to a boil; cook ‘til all liquids are almost evaporated
  • lower heat again and sprinkle the flour over the onion-mushroom mixture; stir well and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes to reduce the flour-y taste
  • stir the broth into the onion-mushroom mixture ‘til smooth
    bring to a boil; cook and stir continually for about 2 minutes ‘til thickened and a gravy has formed. (if necessary, add additional broth ‘til the gravy reaches the consistency you prefer.)
  • return the pork chops to pan along with the tarragon; cover and cook on low heat (just barely simmering) for 6-8 minutes or ‘til a thermometer reads 145
  • turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes or so ‘til plating

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥ 

God loves you!    (Don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen

Banana Cake with Coconut Frosting

IMG_3485

We were having friends over for dinner a few weeks back, and I’d just gotten back from the store when I realized I hadn’t planned anything for dessert.  Oh no!  I did have some bananas, and I figured I had enough staples on hand to whip up a banana cake.  I lucked out and found this delicious recipe on Epicurious.com:  Banana Cake with Coconut Frosting!

This is extremely simple and it came out perfectly.  The only kind of weird thing in the recipe is the cream of coconut.  It’s not coconut milk, and it’s not coconut cream, and in fact it’s more like a syrup for making pina coladas than anything else.  I bought some earlier in the year, because I was going to make coconut-flavored yogurt for my girl.  (It’s delicious, but it does have a lot of added sugar – not exactly healthy, but okay for a splurge.)  If you don’t have it or don’t want to use it, substitute whole coconut milk or coconut cream.  Or leave it out and double the sweetened shredded coconut.  In any case, this came together quickly but was fancy enough for company.  Can’t beat that combination!

Banana Cake with Coconut Frosting

Ingredients:

For cake

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup well-mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For coconut frosting

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons well-stirred canned cream of coconut such as Coco López (not coconut milk)
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Directions:

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, knocking out excess flour.
  2. Whisk together flour (1+1/2 cups), baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together butter (1 stick) and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg until combined, then add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until combined well. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.
  4. Spread batter in cake pan and bake until pale golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of pan, then invert rack over cake and invert cake onto rack to cool completely.
  5. Make frosting while cake cools:
    Beat together cream cheese and butter in a bowl using cleaned beaters at medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low, then add confectioners sugar, cream of coconut, and rum (if using) and mix until combined. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Frost top of cooled cake and sprinkle with coconut.

 

Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana


To view even more of Dana’s unique recipe, you can visit her at Frugal Girlmet!

Seafood Soup

Many of you have gone on Spring Break or are anticipating taking a vacation this summer. It is a time to refresh spirit, soul, and body. Over the next couple of weeks, our faithful bloggers will be taking a ‘spring break’ from writing so that they can come back to us refreshed and freshly anointed.
However, Girlfriends’ Coffee Hour website won’t ‘go black’! We will be revisiting some of our favorite blogs and daily devotions which have blessed us in the past. We pray that each of you, our faithful friends and readers, will continue to start your day meditating on the devotionals and songblogs, and be encouraged and blessed.

Let’s give each of our bloggers a big round of applause,
a hug, 
and the rest they so deserve. God bless you, ladies!

I am sure you have heard me mention once or twice (or a dozen times!) how very much Robert loves his soup!  And homemade soup is often on our menu…summer, winter, spring or fall!  This is a great soup to prepare even when you don’t have some of your own wonderful stock on hand.  It is a really flavorful soup that doesn’t need to rely on homemade stock.

This soup also lends itself to substitutions.  Choose varieties of fish (maybe even some mussels or small clams!) that your family enjoys.  And the choices of vegetables can be switched up, too.  If I had had a head of cauliflower, it definitely would have joined the pot!  I did steam a couple of handfuls of fresh green beans that I found in the veggie drawer…they were a nice addition!  (I would love to hear what you decide to add to your rendition of this soup; please leave a message in the comments section, ok?)  Enjoy!

Mediterranean Fish Soup

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ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, cut into narrow slices
5 or 6 medium-sized baby bella mushrooms, chopped medium
1 cup chopped leeks use ONLY white part (approx. 2 leeks)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (I use jarred)
1 cup dry white wine (or additional stock)
1 (28 ounce) can chunky crushed tomatoes
1 quart good chicken (or vegetable) stock
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
few grinds of freshly ground pepper (or lemon pepper!)
1 (6 ounce) salmon fillet (no skin), cut into bite-sized chunks
1 (4 ounce) tilapia fillet (or another mild-tasting white fish), cut into bite-sized chunks
6 ounces raw medium-sized shrimp, peeled and cleaned
½ lemon

directions:

  • in a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat
  • add onions, mushrooms, celery, and leeks; saute for 7-8 minutes ‘til mushrooms just begin to brown
  • stir in the chopped garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute
  • add in the wine, stock, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  • remove lid, add in the butternut and seasonings; stir well. simmer for additional 10 minutes
  • slide in the salmon and tilapia pieces; continue to simmer for 8-9 minutes.
    add in the shrimp and simmer for 5 more minutes
  • reduce heat to very low and carefully taste for additional seasoning; add if needed
  • serve with rice or small pasta  (a little squeeze of fresh lemon is perfect!)

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

God loves you!  ♥  (Don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen

Oven-Roasted Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce

Pork Chop with Capers

Where others have a sweet tooth, I have a sour tooth. I’ve been known to use only vinegar, and skip the oil, when dressing my salad. I eat cornichons like other people eat bon-bons. So when I saw this recipe for Oven-Roasted Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce, I knew I was going to like it.

Using a recipe from my Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook (which I highly recommend!), I made a few changes to work with what I had.  If you don’t have a shallot, feel free to use a red onion – just mince as finely as possible.  These pork chops are easy, quick, and nearly fool-proof.  They were tart and tangy (but not pucker…so if you are not a sour-lover like me, you won’t be put off.)
Oven-Roasted Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4 pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tablespoons oil or bacon fat for cooking
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450*F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat, and brown the pork chops on one side, for about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, another 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chops to a foil-lined baking sheet or large, wide baking dish (so they aren’t crowded or touching each other.) Roast in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 140*F on a thermometer, about 15 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking time.  Remove from the oven, place on a platter, and cover with aluminum foil.  Let the chops rest for about 5 minutes, and check to make sure the internal temperature has reached 150*F.
  3. While the chops are in the oven, add the shallot to the skillet you cooked the pork chops in, and cook over medium heat until softened, about 30 seconds (about 2 minutes if you are using a red onion.)
  4. Increase the heat and add the broth, stirring to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan.  Add the lemon juice and the capers and cook until the sauce reduces to about 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes.
  5. Off the heat, whisk the butter into the sauce, and pour over the pork chops.

Explore, experiment, enjoy! — Dana


To view even more of Dana’s unique recipe, you can visit her at Frugal Girlmet!