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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Favorites II

I haven't been very creative in the kitchen lately. For that matter, I haven't cooked very much lately. Between the kids activities, work, grad school and a bum tooth, food hasn't really been a priority. For today's topic, we'll have to make to with a favorites list: 

1. Homemade Artisan Bread.  This is seriously easy.  Flour, water, salt and yeast are all the ingredients you need.  Oh, and time.  You need at least 12 hours of rising time for this recipe, but it is so worth it!  Total hands on-time is about 15 minutes and you end up with a delicious round loaf of bread that you would have paid a lot for in a bakery.  That's my loaf shown above...I could hardly believe I made something that looked so professional!  Eat it with soup, slice for sandwiches, or my favorite, put in pan while cooking eggs so it gets toasty and spread with jam.  Yummy!

2. Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup.  Another super easy one...potatoes, garlic, onion, chicken broth in slow cooker for hours, then made creamy with cream cheese.  Of course it's delicious, just don't make a habit of it... this is not a healthy way to eat your veggies!

3.  Home Made Body Wash.  I don't know why, but when I saw this recipe,  I just wanted to try it.  It seems like I always have body wash on my shopping list.  It's kind of expensive and doesn't really last very long.  I ordered soap (Tom's of Maine) and vegetable glycerin from and bought distilled water at the grocery store.  Grate the soap and combine it with the glycerin and distilled water in a big soup pot.  Heat until melted and combined, then put in bottles to use. I use it for body wash and hand soap.  Kind of a lot of work, but I like knowing that I made it and I don't freak out when the kids dump a half a bottle down the drain "by accident". 

A couple weeks ago, I attended a Taste of Home Cooking School event in Fargo.  It was a lot of fun and I got some great recipe ideas from the presenter.  We also got two limited edition Taste of Home magazines full of recipes and a year subscription to Healthy Cooking.  A few of the recipes I have tried so far:

4.  Johnsonville Sausage Meatballs.  Using Johnsonville Italian sausage links as the meat in these meatballs adds great flavor.  These were really quick to make and went great with my homemade marinara and pasta. 

5.  Emeril's New Orleans Garlic Chicken.  All I can says is Yummy...try it and you will see.  Emeril takes "simple" breaded chicken breasts to a whole new level.  Phil doesn't eat breading, but he said this chicken was so moist and tender I can make it again.  That's a definite compliment coming from him!

6.  Grilled Chicken, Pesto and Two-Cheese Naan Pizza.  Using naan (Indian flat bread--I just buy it at Walmart off the clearance cart) as the crust, this pizza is super easy.  Pesto sauce (which I still have a ton of in the freezer from last summer), chicken red peppers, olives and cheese all combine into this delicious meal.  Try cooking it on the grill for a summery twist!
A few that I have bookmarked and will be trying in the near future:

1.  Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas.   Any excuse to get veggies on the table is a good one in my book.  Roasting the veggies before putting this dish together just adds another dimension of deliciousness!

2.  Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil and Pepper Flakes  Simple as that, nothing else.  Whenever I cook pasta, I try to make double and stash some in the fridge for later in the week.  I have a big baggie of spaghetti just waiting for some garlic and hot pepper flakes.  As Rachel Ray would say...Yum-o!

3.  Tomato, Basil, and  Fresh Mozzarella Salad.  I can't wait until summer comes and we start getting our weekly CSA boxes...this is what I dream about all winter when I'm eating frozen or store-bought produce.  Maybe with the early melt, the deliveries from Red Goose Gardens will start early?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sausage and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Who doesn't love lasagna?  Layers of meat, pasta, sauce and cheese all come together to create a delicious flavor combination in your mouth.  Unfortunately, all that deliciousness is not very healthy.  I stumbled on a version of this recipe last summer in a cookbook by the "Eat This, Not That" writers.  I am always on the lookout for new ways to use veggies and I must have had a ton of spinach when this one caught my eye.  I made the recipe as written, and have since tweaked it to fit our taste buds and preferences. 

I think this recipe is way easier than making the layered lasagna and with all the spinach in it, it has to be better for you!  While this is not a favorite of my children, they have mostly learned to "shut up and eat it".  The quantities I am providing makes enough for 36 rolls, which is a ton.  Make it for company or do what I do and  divide the rolls between two pans and freeze one for later.  You could also easily cut the recipe in half for a more manageable batch, but to me, it's just as easy to make enough for two meals at once.  One pan feeds the four of us with leftovers for lunch the next day for both me and Phil. 

Lasagna Rolls
1 box lasagna noodles (18 noodles), cooked al dente, then cut in half cross-wise (see picture below)
1 lb. italian sausage (the original version calls for chicken or turkey sausage, but whatever you prefer is fine. I used pork this time but it was equally good with turkey.)
2 bags frozen spinach,, thawed & squeezed out (not the block, but the loose stuff)  Fresh works, too.
1 15 oz. container part skim ricotta
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
marinara sauce (1 big jar should do it.) I used homemade
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown sausage in large skillet.  Drain fat and add in spinach and red pepper flakes.  Cook until warmed through (drain any extra water from the spinach).  Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, adding salt and pepper if desired. 

Spray two 9x13 pans with non-stick spray or put a little marinara in the bottom of each pan.  I have done both and they work equally well to prevent sticking.  Lay the noodles out as shown below, placing a large spoonful of spinach/sausage mixture at one end and rolling up.

Put rolls in pans. 

Top each pan of lasagna rolls with marinara sauce (as much/little as you want) and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. 

If you freeze one pan, bake it at 400 until the cheese is bubbly, about 40 minutes.  I use a metal pan so it can go straight from the freezer to the oven, but be careful if you have a glass pan because it could break with the temperature change!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Okay, so Popovers is one of those recipes that should be easy.  Flour, milk, eggs, salt.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  I have had problems with them burning, falling and sticking to the pan, sometimes all at the same time!  I think I've finally solved most of those problems, though.  A guy I work with brought in a "Foolproof Popover" recipe a few weeks ago, and so far, the recipe doesn't lie.  They turn out nice and poofy and don't stick to the pan.  Just to be safe, though, I am in the market  for a silicon popover pan so they never stick again! 

Foolproof Popovers
butter for greasing pan
1 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. flour
1/2 t. salt

Heavily grease the popover pan/cups with butter.  Place in freezer while you mix the batter. 
Mix flour, milk, eggs and salt together until combined, don't worry about lumps.  Divide batter evenly between 6 popover cups. 
Place in a cold oven.  Turn on oven to  450 and bake for 30 minutes.  Do not open the oven until you are ready to take them out!  The popovers will fall.  Remove from oven and prick each popover with a knofe to allow the steam to escape, otherwise they'll be soggy.

These are amazing with most kinds of soup but sometimes we have them for breakfast with jelly or nutella.  Delicious!