At our house, we have a saying..."Don't yuk my yum!". We are trying to raise kids that aren't picky eaters by exposing them to many different kinds of food. It wasn't that long ago that one of my kids asked "Why can't you cook food like everyone else? Like tater tot hotdish?" The reason? It's not very healthy or creative and I think it's kind of gross. I don't cook like that. I like to use fresh, healthy ingredients to make great tasting good for you dishes. I've created this blog to share my favorite recipes with you.

Follow my kitchen adventures from using up vegetables from our weekly CSA box to baking and creative cooking.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Monte Cristos

This Monte Cristo recipe came from my mother in law, via my sister in law, Melissa.  A long time ago, we had a bunch of leftover ham and turkey and I had no idea what to do with it.  Melissa said, "make Monte Cristos"!  I had no idea what she was talking about.  Yes, I had heard of Monte Cristos but I had never made them or had them at anyone's houses.  The Monte Cristos I was familiar with are the deep fried calorie bombs I get at Bennigans once in a while. 

This recipe is not deep fried.  It gets its crunch from rice crispies.  Given that, it is way healthier than the Bennigans version and I think it is just as good.  This is one of those recipes that I forget about, then one of the girls will ask for it or I will buy ham and turkey and remember that some swiss cheese and english muffin bread could make this into a great sandwich. 

Monte Cristos
1 loaf English Muffin bread
ham (I use 2 deli slices per sandwich or 1 thicker slice from a home baked ham)
turkey (I use 2 deli slices per sandwich or 1 thicker slice from a home roasted turkey)
swiss cheese (2 slices per sandwich)
4 egg whites (for 5-6 sandwiches) (you can buy egg whites in a carton, or just use regular egg whites)
1/2 c. milk
1 T. powdered sugar
2 c. Rice Crispies, slightly crushed (or more, if you like a lot of coating)

Lay out the bread on the counter, then top each slice with a piece of swiss cheese. Top half with the turkey and the other half with the ham, like this:

Make the two halves into sandwiches.

Beat the egg whites with the milk and powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.  Place the crushed rice krispies in another shallow bowl.  Taking one sandwich at a time, dip them first in the egg/milk mixture, being careful not to get them too wet, as they will fall apart and/or take forever to cook.  Coat each sandwich thorougly with the rice krispies.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the eggs are set and the rice krispies start to brown. 

I like these served with strawberry or rasperry jam and sour cream for dipping, but they are also great all by themselves. 

I always make the whole loaf of english muffin bread, which has 10-12 slices.  We don't eat that much in one sitting, but these reheat great in the oven and microwave and are even good cold in a pinch. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bean and Ham Soup

Okay, so it doesn't sound super delicious or like something you're dying to make, but there are times (like Christmas and New Years) when there is a lot of leftover ham.  After Christmas, I threw the ham bone and a few slices of ham in the freezer to use for this recipe, on a day when I had some time.

This recipe makes a big pot and reheats well, and I think it's better as leftovers. 

Bean and Ham Soup
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 T. Olive Oil
1 c. white beans, soaked overnight
8 c. water
2 chicken boullion cubes
Ham bone
1-2 c. diced ham
2 potatoes, washed (peeled if you want) and diced

Heat olive oil in soup pot while you prepare onion, celery & carrots.  Add veggies, cooking until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add beans, water, boullion and ham bone.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour.  Add in diced ham and potatoes, cooking until beans are soft (about 30 more minutes).  Remove bone and cut off remaining meat, adding back to soup. 

This was delicious served with a loaf of crusty bread and will make great lunches for the rest of the week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Zucchini Carbonara

I love bacon.  If something has bacon in or on it, you can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to like it.  The thing with bacon is that it's really bad for you.  I've tried turkey bacon (it's okay, but it's not really bacon)  and low sodium bacon (again, it's okay), but what I really like is a good thick cut hickory smoked bacon.  Why do I go on about bacon today?  Spaghetti Carbonara.  At it's most basic, it's just bacon, pasta, eggs and cheese.  Delicious, but horribly unhealthy.  Definitely a "sometimes food".  Recently I discovered a recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara that cuts down (a little) on the bacon and cheese and adds in zucchini and onions for some extra nutrition.  I made this recipe quite a bit last summer when we had an abundance of zucchini and I made sure I froze a bunch of the veggies for use in this recipe through the winter.

Today, we had a problem in the barn:  frozen eggs.  It's been pretty chilly out and I wasn't home at noon to collect eggs and all four eggs the chickens laid today were frozen solid when they finally got collected after school.  Believe it or not, frozen eggs are actually still fine to use.  I have read that you shouldn't use them for baking, but for scrambled eggs or a recipe like Spaghetti Carbonara, they work perfectly. In fact, when I saw these eggs thawing on the counter, the first thing I thought of was "Yum, Carbonara!"

Zucchini Carbonara (Serves 4)
10 oz whole wheat spaghetti (regular spaghetti would work, too)
6 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion
1 large zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons or diced
1 T. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs
shredded parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions, undercooking by about a minute.  While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium heat.  Cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove from pan to a paper towel.  Drain fat from pan.  Add onion, zucchini and garlic to the pan and cook about 5 minutes until soft and a little brown.  Add bacon back in with some salt and pepper, if desired. 

Drain the pasta, reserving a coffee cup of water.  Dump pasta into saute pan and toss to coat.  Stir in a little pasta water so the noodles aren't sticky.  Remove from heat and crack the eggs directly on the pasta, using tongs to toss for even distribution.  Serve with cheese. 

As you read this recipe, it may seem strange that you don't actually cook the eggs, but they do get cooked by the heat from the pan and the pasta.  If you have runny eggs, just turn the burner back on for a few minutes.  This recipe reheats well, not that we ever have any leftovers.