Monday, March 3, 2014

Homemade mashed pota...nope, mashed cauliflower!

I've really been focusing on eating well, trading in my carbs & fats for fruits & veggies. Thus far I've been pretty successful, but like anyone, there's always some hiccups. But, I hit the mother load with this recipe! I found the original here but tweaked to my families liking. Swapping out some of your side dishes is super easy, it just takes the creativity & the initiative to start! Simple examples: instead of having mashed potatoes & stuffing, replace one or both, with steamed veggies, or...

Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
2 tsp parsley flakes
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray & set aside.

Cut out the core & green from the cauliflower, then steam it until very tender (about 15 minutes).

Add the butter to a medium skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and thyme and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Transfer the steamed cauliflower and cream cheese to a food processor-puree until smooth. Add the heavy cream as needed.

Add to the pureed cauliflower, onion, pepper, and half the shredded cheese and stir to combine.

Spread the cauliflower mixture in the prepared dish, and sprinkle the remaining cheese and the parsley on top. Bake until warm throughout and the cheese is melted, about 15 to 20 minutes. (If you want, you can put the pan under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown, but stay with it!)

Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tomato Basil Chicken over spaghetti squ....what!???!

Squash! It's one of the few foods I haven't been able to enjoy throughout my life, until I discovered spaghetti squash! L-O-V-E it! It's a great pasta substitute, it's a great side dish, it's easy to grow & store! It's amazing! I have about 40 storing in my basement from last summers harvest; I planted 5 seeds, and wished I would've planted 1 lol However, it's been a great asset to my cooking because if I just don't want to use the empty calories of pasta, I'll run down & grab a squash. A single serving of pasta is about 200+ calories, the same serving size of this squash...45 calories!!!!!

Now, this isn't your typical squash, I've had the mushy, ishy stuff before, I, to this day, don't even know what kind it was, I just know it was YUCK! A couple years ago, my family was invited to a friends house for supper, and her boyfriend was in culinary school at the time & did all the cooking that night. When I found out squash was on the menu I was like "crap, I wish I would've grabbed a snack before we left home!" When it was time to dish up, I was completely intrigued by the side dish in this oblong shaped shell. I took a chance and grabbed a forkful to try it. OMG! It was so delicious! Of course, he seasoned his with butter & brown sugar--I do NOT recommend that with this dish I'm about to share with you. I've tried it that way, and the sweetness of those seasonings take away from the seasonings of the dish itself. 

So ... I share with you:

Tomato Basil Chicken

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1-2 tbsp EVOO 

1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 tbsp cold butter (makes the sauce creamy)
1 cup fresh chopped basil

Salt, pepper, dried oregano & dried basil for seasoning chicken
Spaghetti Squash (pasta substitute)
Cut squash in half the long way
Scrape out seeds
Place squash face down on deep dish
Pour enough water on pan to cover entire bottom
Roast at 400 for 45 mins (additional water may be needed if too much evaporates)
Use fork to pull squash away from shell (gives it the spaghetti appearance).

Heat oil so it’s hot, add seasoned chicken, and cook first side until golden (about 7 minutes). Flip chicken, wait 3-4 mins then add cherry tomatoes and cook additional 3-4 mins. Add in chopped fresh basil, cold butter & minced garlic, give a good stir. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to sit for 2-3 mins, and then cut chicken into slices. Serves 3-4 people (about 350 calories in all!)
Place a generous portion of squash on a platel (1 cup is 42 calories!), place chicken & basil sauce mixture on top or on the side.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pepper Jack Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

If you like meatloaf, and pepper jack cheese-this is for you!

Pepper Jack Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf
1-6 oz can of tomato paste
4 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp pepper
8-10 slices pepper jack cheese

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except cheese & Ketchup. In a 13x9 greased pan, spread half of the meat mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan. Place a single layer of cheese across the meat, then spread the remaining meat mixture across so no cheese is visible. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and apply a liberal amount of Ketchup across the meatloaf. Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the meat reaches 160º internal temperature. Makes about 12 servings. Freezes well.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chicken Curry Confidential

So last week my 15 year old son asked for my recipe to my chicken curry---that's like, asking me for my weight, or a kidney! TOP SECRET! When I asked him why he wanted it, he said it was for an assignment for his English class. Kind of an odd assignment for an English class, don't you think? Apparently they were working on instructions & how to write them in detail, and in order, of course.

Reluctantly, I shared it with him. I almost wanted to fake some of the ingredients, simply because I didn't want his teacher to have the actual  recipe. Have you ever felt like this before???? Sheesh I felt like I was part of the CIA & had to keep my info under lock & key! I mean, this stuff is to die for, it's not just your ordinary run of the mill meal, this is---golden! Ask my family & friends, they'll tell ya all about it!

He printed it out, with a picture of it too, he even had to have a "warning" in the recipe so I instructed him to "warn" the reader to not overcook the rice lol That works, right?! I mean, overcooked/undercooked rice can completely ruin a meal!

Curry, do you have that in your spice rack? It's a must here in my house-chicken curry is requested at least twice a month. Never gets old! Well, if it sits in the refrigerator long enough it would go bad but it NEVER lasts more than a day. No wasted chicken curry here! Back to your spice rack-here's a few reasons to have curry in your diet.

P.S. the chicken can easily be replaced with shrimp ;-)

P.P.S. this recipe will be available SOON in my e-cookbook!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Work In Progress

Yesterday was a busy day on my computer; I spent a majority of the day working on my cookbook! At days end, I was 23 recipes in; 23 of my personal, and favorite recipes! I talked with my printer later on in the day to see what type of format would be ideal for this type of book, so that part seems to be out of the way. As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, my book will be available for purchase on Amazon but also in print for those of you who prefer a paper copy.

This particular cookbook will cover big meals mostly; I plan to release an appetizer/snack type book in the future. Right now my focus is to get my meal cookbook done, published, and in the hands of my supporters by the end of January.

Cooking is therapeutic & relaxing for me; I may not cook the healthiest of meals, but with the release of my upcoming cookbook, I've been working towards making changes for a healthier version as well! I'm not a ground beef person, so I always replace with chicken or turkey whenever I can.

I just wanted to post this update as I know a lot of you are just coming across my new blog, and my new Facebook page. I'll be doing a lot more advertising in the weeks to come as I hope my e-cookbook will be a success, and of course, no success comes without the support of their fans!

So thank YOU for all you do!


Brandie A.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pending e-cookbook

As some of you know, I am putting together my own cookbook; eventually it will be available in both print, and e-book versions. Amazon will be the primary location of it; in the mean time, keep checking back for progress! I'm excited about this release, I can't type it up fast enough :) Thanks for all your support!!


Velveeta shortage?! Pffft!

Make your own I say! Back in the day, butter, milk, cream, cheese, they were all made from scratch! American's are a society of convenience so we buy prepacked everything including our boxed meals-yuck! Yes, I have a couple boxes of Hamburger Helper in my cupboard, but that's for those nights when we need something right now and the kids have friends over at the last minute. Seriously-stop buying prepacked anything, there's chemicals, there's a ton of sodium, and you're paying way more for your meals than you should be!

I found this delicious recipe to make my own mock Velveeta cheese-it's the bomb! Way fewer chemicals (the block of cheese was store bought) & artificial junk than the original. WAY cheaper too!

So instead of going out and buying into this marketing ploy that Velveeta is running out-get creative in the kitchen-and make your own :)

Photo courtesy of America's Test Kitchen 2011

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Home Cooked vs Fast Food

I love to grocery shop-love it; I almost find it therapeutic, like cooking! Today my husband & I went grocery shopping to restock our cupboards with food to make the many new recipes I can't wait to try! I put together my list, gathered my coupons, made my list of stores I needed to hit for their individual specials, and off we went!

As we wandered up & down the aisle for ingredients for Chicken Marsala, Creamy White Chicken Lasagna, Walking Taco Casserole, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, to name a few, I thought to myself "how many people go out to eat rather than cook each day?" Cooking doesn't come natural, either we got it or we don't! I myself would rather tear my kitchen apart and whip up a home cooked meal than go to McDonald's or Hardee's or any of those nasty, greasy, places. Do you know the caloric intake of some of those fast food items?! WOW!

Obviously with travel, appointments, and the such happen, fast food at times is inevitable. Even though you stop at one of those cesspools for some quick grub doesn't mean you have to eat it! How about a salad, or instead of a McChicken get a grilled chicken sandwich, or if you go to Burger King, get a chicken sandwich instead of a burger. The sacrifice is simple, it just takes discipline & dedication on your part.

But, of course, home cooked meals are best :) The more YOU cook at home, the more YOU know what's IN your food. Take Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup for example; 32% of your daily recommended intake of Sodium is in that 14 oz can!! 484 mg of Sodium! YUCK! Solution? Make your own! I found a great recipe on Pinterest that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make your own Cream of Something (chicken, celery, mushroom). I love it! I've used it a quite a few times, and you'll find it works in some meals, while in other meals the original soup is ideal because the taste is a bit different but still very delicious. You save money, you save recycling, you save on a trip to the store because most items you should have at home.

So, the point of my post tonight-cook your own food whenever possible and stay away from fast food, or preprocessed box meals, whenever you can! :) Your body will thank you!


Our Governor called off school for the entire state of Minnesota this coming Monday due to the projected low low temps; can you say cold!? -50 wind chills-YIKES! Most who know me know I'm a huge advocate for the safety of animals. I'm 100% against abuse, neglect and torturing of any type of animal-this actually includes farm animals! I'm not going to get into the debate of which animals should or shouldn't have shelter, blankets, etc, but I will say that no animal deserves to suffer, in any way, shape, or form. Bring your pets inside or provide them with shelter-please-you'll feel much better about your choice to do so, trust me!

Moving on, because of these frigid temps, I've decided to fire up the oven & do some baking today! Banana bread for sure, a huge batch of banana bread, remember this post? Yeah-that's why I'm making a huge batch-excitement isn't even the word for it.

My 12 year old is requesting his usual chocolate chip cookies, but I think I need to venture down the oat trail too, you know, with oatmeal scotchies! YUM!

So, on this cold blustery day, at least for the upper half of the Nation, what are you doing?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

WTF(t) What the French Toast!?

Banana Foster French Toast
Drinking my morning coffee earlier, I sit down with a couple pieces of homemade banana bread when my husband asks me if I'm making French toast with it. What? Yes, French toast made with banana bread; it's a delicious breakfast item we saw on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and my husband is dying for me to cook it for him. Not so much with this batch of bread because of course it's almost gone, but soon because I have eight bananas ripening on my kitchen counter as I type!

I've received a great response from all of you as far as the route I'm taking with my food blog; I have people liking my page that I don't even know and that's AWESOME! I want to thank you all for your support, but keep it coming! ;-) 2014 IS going to be my year!