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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

It's almost time for the first fruits and vegetables of the season to ripen. Lately, I have been craving fresh fruits and vegetables, but what I can buy in the store just doesn't live up to my expectations.  I can't wait until we start getting our first CSA boxes from Red Goose Gardens.  It won't be long until one of our first boxes contains spinach and strawberries, which go so well together in this salad.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad
strawberries, washed, stemmed and sliced (I used a whole pound)
spinach, washed (1 big bag)
dried cranberries (1/2 c.)
goat cheese (a couple Tablespoons, crumbled)
sunflower seeds (a couple Tablespoons)
balsamic vinegar (a couple Tablespoons)

Feel free to adjust/add/omit ingredients to fit your tastes.

I like to slice the strawberries the morning I am going to serve this salad or even the night before and sprinkle them with a little balsamic vinegar. This allows the strawberries to "marinate" a bit and I have found that no other dressing is necessary. 

When ready to serve, toss all ingredients in a big bowl and sprinkle with additional balsamic vinegar if you want.  Spinach is a pretty tough green and if there are some leftovers, this will keep for a day or so in the fridge. 

To make this salad a meal, you could easily top it with grilled chicken.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

It's getting to be grilling season.  For most of us, this involves throwing some sort of meat on the grill with side dishes as an afterthought.  As fresh vegetables become more abundant, I like to focus on the side dishes and even skip the meat sometimes.  Most anything can be cooked on the grill.  I can't wait until asparagus season...mmmm....grilled asaparagus. 

Almost as good as grilled asparagus is grilled sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are a relatively new discovery for me.  I didn't grow up eating them, but as I began to eat healthier, I started looking for ways to cook sweet potatoes that aren't loaded with butter and sugar.  They are a great way to get your veggies but feel like you are eating carbs.  I love carbs more than grilled asparagus...

This is a recipe I use all the time, for both white potatoes and sweet potatoes.  If you use the microwave to pre-cook the potatoes about halfway, they cook quickly on the grill along with whatever meat you are cooking.  I credit my parents for this recipe, which we use at the lake all the time. 

Grilled Sweet Potatoes
Whole sweet potatoes (I use two for the four of us, but use as many as you need)
nonstick spray or olive oil
seasoned salt
chopped rosemary and garlic or rosemary garlic seasoning

Wash sweet potatoes (don't they look pretty?), then cut into 1 inch discs.  Place discs on a microwavable plate and spray with nonstick spray or brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle lightly with seasonings, as shown below.

Cook in microwave for about 5 minutes, until they are about half cooked. 

Place on top rack of pre-heated grill while your meat is cooking and cook for 5-10 minutes per side.  As you can see from my picture, they don't always cook evenly and the high sugar content makes them brown (or even burn).  I think the crispier they are the better, but keep an eye on them so they don't get over cooked!  Serve with a little butter if you like. 

If you have a person in your family that doesn't eat sweet potatoes, feel free to substitute regular potatoes or use both for a variety.  Of course you can also vary the seasonings.  Personally, I love rosemary and garlic together, but Mrs. Dash would be good or just seasoned salt and pepper.  Whatever you like will work for you, be flexible!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Caramel Rolls

Who doesn't love them?  Especially warm out of the oven.  Warm, sticky, sweet caramel rolls.  This isn't a recipe for the dough, I just buy the frozen rolls at the grocery store.  This super easy recipe is for the caramel. 

I make these when we have company or on holidays when there are going to be a lot of people around because if I made them at home for just us, I would eat them all.

These take less than 10 minutes the night before, then 30-40 minutes in the oven the morning you are going to eat them.  Very little hands on time, your house smells amazing (even before you bake them!) and you get fresh caramel rolls.  Win-win-win, right?

I couldn't tell you where I first got this recipe, probably from a church cookbook somewhere.  Over time, I have adapted the amounts to fit our tastes and you should do the same.

Caramel Rolls
For each package of 8 frozen rolls, you will need:
9 x 13 pan, greased
1/2 stick butter (real butter!)
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 scoops vanilla ice cream

 Melt all these ingredients in the pan. I just put it in the microwave for a couple minutes, checking and stirring often. If your pan isn't microwave safe, you could use a bowl instead. When the ingredients are melted, put the frozen rolls in the pan as shown:

Cover with plastic wrap and put in cold oven to rise overnight.  They will be huge in the morning:

Take the rolls out of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350.  Cover the rolls with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes, checking at 30 minutes for doneness, uncovering if they aren't browning.  They should look evenly browned and puffy when they are done:

Tip the rolls over onto a jelly roll pan or wax paper so they are caramel side up.  Eat them while they're hot!