Monday, January 31, 2011

Oatmeal, My Way

Sorry this late, but I was sick on Friday

Oatmeal. It's a great way to start your day. Warms you up, high fiber, healthy. Boring. WAIT.....It doesn't have to be.

All those high sugar oatmeal packets can be made at home for a fraction of the cost, and without all the sugar.

The recipe on the back of the oatmeal can says: 1/2 c oatmeal, 1 cup water, and some sugar. No. No. No. and NO!

Oatmeal, Unboring

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup milk, almond milk, soy milk or another milk substitute (TRUST ME!)
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup flaked coconut (unsweetened is healthier, if you have sweetened, you don't need any other sweetner)
1 - 3 tsp of your favorite sweetening agent

Here's how I do it. In a small pan on put the milk and the oatmeal. Warm up and cook until it is the consistency YOU like. I like mine somewhat runny, not thick enough to stand a spoon in. Pour into your bowl, add the fruit, coconut, and sweetener if needed. Stir it up, and enjoy a nice warm breakfast.

I have used raisins, dried cranberries, and blueberries. I like the coconut, you don't have to use it, if you don't want to. Like I said, I don't need to use any kid of sweetener if I use coconut.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Turkey Stuffed Pasta Shells with Homemade Alfredo Sauce and Steamed Broccoli

I wanted to give my crew a treat. I've done variations on this a few times.

2 turkey thighs (it's what I had, ok? 2 pounds of turkey meat or chicken meat is fine)
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 lb frozen broccoli
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 red onion, finely diced
2 cups heavy cream
1 stick butter
5 oz Parmesan cheese
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
1 TBSP olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 eggs

1. Sprinkle thighs with lemon pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven till done. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
2. Remove skin from thighs, discard. Strip meat off of thighs. It's ok. There will be enough, I promise. Chop the meat up finely.
3. Chop red onion and bell pepper very finely. (I used red to add some color to this dish.)
4. Saute the onion in about 1 TBSP of olive oil (or coconut oil, or whatever)
5. In a mixing bowl, beat 1 package of cream cheese until soft. Beat in two eggs. Add in about 4 ounces of mozzarella. Add in onion, bell pepper and turkey. This is your pasta shell stuffing.
6. Cook shells according to package directions. Drain and let cool until you can handle them. You can rinse them in cold water to help cool them faster
7. Stuff the shells with the turkey mix. Place in a 9x13 pan (or whatever you have).
8. Make the sauce. Melt the butter. Add the cream and heat. Do NOT BOIL. Add the Parmesan cheese, a little at a time, and stir as the cheese melts. When the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, turn off the heat.
9. Spoon sauce over the shells. Top with mushrooms, and the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 until melty and yummy looking.
10. While you are baking the shells, steam the broccoli. (I cheat and use the microwave...dump bag of broccoli into microwave safe cooking implement. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes.)
11. Serve. Sit back and bask in the complements. I did.

I made this Wednesday night (January 19, 2011). I used a 12 ounce box of shells. I had shells left over, (aka, not enough filling). I gave the extra to my pigs, but, you could just fix half a box or so. This did twenty-eight shells. Enough for dinner for four and lunch the next day.

Familial reviews:
Hubby: TWO thumbs up
Gymnast: Ya'll should be jealous. VERY JEALOUS
Monkey: It's VERY good and delicious.


Wow, that's a LOT of cheese, cream, FAT! Yeah, we like it that way. There are a couple of ways to approach this.

1. Ricotta cheese is WHEY better than cream cheese in the calories and fat department. I couldn't resist, sorry. (1 cup of ricotta has 342 calories, 177 from fat and 1 cup of cream cheese has 810 calories and 728 from fat according to the Calorie Count Recipe Analyzer tool.

2. Use some other sauce than Alfredo.

3. IT'S A TREAT. We don't eat this often. Which is a good thing, I'm sure.

3. Use low fat mozzarella and cream cheese.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

BONUS: Can the Kat Cook In A Hotel Room?

Last weekend we were off to Kansas City, MO for a gymnastics meet. Money was an issue, and we were meeting friends in Joplin on Sunday for lunch. Ok..guess I cook something there. But HOLY BEANS...what in the world am I gonna do?? I need to be able to do it all in one pot or pan because Lady knows I don't wanna clean up a bunch of pans at the Motel 6.

Brat's Hotel Hash

2 lbs of Ground Beef
2 lbs of Yukon Gold Potatoes, 1/4" dice
2 packages of Lawry's Taco Seasoning
1 yellow onion, finely diced (or 2 small vidalias)

I bought the potatoes, and seasoning there. Sent Hubby to QT for salt and utensils (we appear to forget forks, a lot.) I diced up the potatoes and onion very small, because I didn't want to be waiting till midnight to eat. And I was using a Coleman Camp Stove to cook on. Yes. In the Motel 6.

Now, normally, I'd saute the onions, then the potatoes, all while the meat was browning...but see above. One. Pot.

Sooooooo.....Brown the meat first. I need the fat to make sure nothing sticks to my super sized pan (HUGE skillet). When meat is mostly brown, toss in onions. Add seasonings and potatoes. Cover and let simmer away. Don't have your heat up way high on the will burn the bit in the middle. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Serve it up, sit on hotel beds eating and wondering how the heck you actually managed to feed four people in a hotel room. And they LIKED it.

Home Hash

2 lbs ground meat
2 lbs potatoes, 1/2" dice
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 TBSP oil of your choice
seasonings of your choice
shredded cheese, sour cream

1. Saute the onion till it's translucent-y.
2. In a separate pan, heat the oil. Add potatoes, and cook them till they start their golden-y brown thing.
3. When onions are done, remove from pan, add meat, and brown it. Toss in seasonings. Add onions. Simmer to let tastes meld.
4. When potatoes are crispy-ish, add to the hash. Mix well, serve topped with cheese and sour cream if you want.

You can add any variety of veggies here. I see corn, carrots, celery, tomatoes, .... yeah ANY veggies. It is fairly quick.

One option for the potatoes: Boil 'em till mostly done, drain, dry. Then crisp them up in a bit of oil.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Potato Salad? Versatile? OH YES!

So, I discovered something. Potato salad does NOT have to be that plain old potato, mayo, mustard, with little variation your Great Aunt Ida said was the ONLY way to make potato salad. Guess what, we can make it tons of ways, and it will never taste the same twice. You can feed your family potato salad for a whole two weeks when potatoes were on sale, but not much else was. And they will not eat the same thing twice...unless there's one they REALLY like and beg you to make it again.

First lets talk tater. So, there's this "thing" that you should use a certain type of potatoes for potato salads, or this potato is better for salad and that potato is best for fries. Frankly, taters...are taters. Yes some are more waxy, some are red, some are mealy, some are blue (yes, blue). And yes, some may serve one purpose or other better than another variety. HOWEVER, they all mash, they all fry, and they all boil.

This week, I'll give you my basic tater salad, and few ways to switch it up. Sometime soon, I'll go over other ways to make it different.

Brat's Basic Tater Salad

1 1/2 lbs potatoes (I really don't care what you use), diced 1/3" to 1/2" dice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 stalks celery (leaves, too), sliced thin
1 to 2 cups baby carrots, sliced
several slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Fill a LARGE pot with cold water, add a goodly amount of salt, and put it on the stove to heat up. Since your taters are already diced, toss them in now. They are diced already, right?

2. Since the taters weren't diced, do that. Then dump the whole schmear (yes, that's the technical term) in the pot at the same time, being careful, because now that water is getting warmish, and you don't want it splashing on you.

3. Cook them thar taters till they are fork tender. That means the fork just slides right in and out. Drain them into a colander. My trick here: put the pot back on the stove over the flame (you have a gas stove, right?) and put the drained potatoes back in. Stir them very carefully for about 20 to 30 seconds. This finished the drying of the taters. You can turn off the stove now.

4. Let the potatoes cool. Or not. Your choice. While the taters are cookin' and coolin', make sure your bacon is cooked, and your celery and carrots are ready.

5. Put your potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add mayo, veggies and bacon and stir gently to mix it all up. Check seasoning and serve.

Ok, we use this as a meal. And that hardly looks like enough protein. I know. Solve this: couple cans of tuna, couple of chicken breasts, 2 ounces of ham per person. Whatever. I've used all of the above AND roast pork, beef, turkey, lamb.

Remember, this is my BASIC potato salad. We could have a whole YEAR on just potato salad, but that you wouldn't want, so we won't, but I'll come back to the basic potato salad in a few weeks.

Another thing: wherever it says "Potato" Salad, one can use PASTA (in MY recipes, anyway) or RICE. So, now you have three recipes for the price of one. As I've said before starch is a filler in my house.

A word on cleaner eating: I'm trying. Really, I am. Substitute homemade mayonnaise made from ingredients you trust (seriously, egg yolks, oil, mustard, lemon juice--OK, I'll get the recipe together, just not right now); use whole wheat pasta (or make your own); use whatever rice works for you (brown rice is yummy, just sayin'). However sometimes your food budget for the week is $20. (And you gotta have coffee, you do NOT want to meet me if I am coffee-less). So, sometimes, you gotta eat the cheap stuff. I'll keep putting up all the options, just so the bases are (mostly) covered.

Another word on potato skins. In potato salad, some potatoes don't necessarily need to be peeled. Those with thin skins, like Yukon Gold and Red Norland have thin skins (and pretty too) and that doesn't interfere with the whole experience. Others, like Russet, have a thick skin which just doesn't work (for me in potato salad). Those, you can (and IMO should) peel BEFORE they take that hot water bath.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Friday: Oh Crap, What's in the Freezer?

Alrighty, it's Thursday night, payday isn't till Monday, you have an out of state weekend coming up, so you can't have hubby pick anything up as he comes home, and you got in a wreck last night, so you can't stand comfortably? What's a gal to do? Set the kid free on the kitchen, of course. Oh, and this is probably enough for at least 1 dinner and 1 lunch, if not a 2nd dinner for our family of four (but hubby counts as about 3).

Basically, I got the meat out, and told her to use the tots. She scoured the spices and the fridge, and came up with the meal. Home-school exercise...of course. And a lesson in thinking on the fly...

Krystal's Tater Tots and Ground Beef

3 lbs of home raised ground beef (ok, if you don't have that, I guess you can buy some or use something else, like turkey)
kosher salt
1/2 large can of Ranch Style Beans (because SOMEONE had eaten 1/2 a can and I was cleaning out the fridge)
4 ounces of shredded cheddar (is what we had left)
"some" Old Bay Seasoning
"some" Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 bag of tater tots (this was a LARGE bag)

Brown beef. Drain if necessary. Add spices, and beans. Let simmer for about 15 minutes to meld flavors.

Meanwhile utilize the really cool deep fryer mom got. And fry the tots. (Mom: ok, you can bake the tots. Really. You can. But I wasn't cooking...back hurting, remember?)

To serve, put tots on plate, put beef mixture on tots, put cheese on it all.

Mom and Dad both wanted seconds. Mom did not have seconds. Dad finished off the cooked tots. See, I have will power.

As you can see, she's learning to cook from me. When asked how much of what she put in, she answered "a little of this, a little of that."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Over the next few weeks, I plan on implementing several changes. The base one of these, the basic look has gone into effect. Yes, I'm a black and red kind of gal. I may be migrating to WordPress, as I like the offerings for the way I can make things look over there MUCH more than I do at Blogger.

I'm working on this week's Friday recipe, so stay tuned.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm So Lazy...New Year, Time to Bring This Back

My very good friend Byn made a commitment to her friends in internet-land to put up 365 clean eating recipes this year. I love you Byn, and I'm going to steal all of them; but, I am committing to 52 recipes. That's right folks, the Friday recipe is back (or will be, on Friday).

So, with this renewed enthusiasm, here's a bonus recipe for this week.

Lunch Chicken Wraps

1 lb chicken breast meat (I prefer home raised, or organic)
dash of salt and pepper seasoning of choice (depending on the day I like lemon pepper, Montreal, ranch dressing mix)
1 tbsp of oil (your choice: canola, vegetable, butter, EVOO)
Several leaves of your choice of lettuce (if you REALLY want that icky iceberg stuff, well oooooooookkkkkk, me, I like Bibb, or any red lettuce)
Baby spinach leaves
3 or 4 shredded carrots
1 bell pepper (Green, Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple, White your choice)
4 whole wheat burrito sized tortillas (or, you know, any wrap or pita you like)
Condiment of choice

pre-Step 1. Flatten your chicken boobs. Really. Use a pan, a meat mallet, a rolling pin, a clean shoe (make sure that your chicken is INSIDE A PLASTIC BAG if you go this far). Evening out the thickness makes the chicken cook evenly, and seriously decreasing the thickness helps it cook faster. Plus, you can take out your frustrations on the meat, and no one gets hurt or goes to jail.

1. Sprinkle your chicken with your seasoning. If you just do it on the side facing you, when you plop it into the pan (I use tongs, or a fork), then you can sprinkle the bottom side (which is now conveniently on top).

2. Heat your skillet, and add your choice of pan lubricant. Really, it's up to you. But something is needed, because chicken that is stuck is not that fun.

3. When your pan and it's lubricant are hot enough, (you could do the water sizzles when it hits test, but ..... you all are smart people, right?) carefully lay your chicken breast seasoned side down into the pan and season the 2nd side (see, I told you!)

4. Flip when chicken is lightly browned on the bottom (~3 or so minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken). This is where I cover the whole pan with a lid. Less heat escapes, and allows my chicken to cook through more quickly.

5. When chicken is done (there's that pesky thermometer test, the finger test, the cut into it-does it bleed test), remove it from the pan and allow to cool slightly.

6. Meanwhile, shred carrots, rough chop lettuce and spinach (or don't, either way is fine), slice your bell pepper thinly.

7. Slice your chicken very thinly. (It goes a LOT further that way. Don't ask me why. I cook up three breasts and plunk them on plates, people are still hungry. I slice those same three, and all of a sudden, ZOMG, I'm stuffed...and there's about 1/3 of the breast still on the plate.)

8. Lay out your wrap on your assembly surface. Spread it with your condiment of choice (herby cream cheese, mayo, Chipotle-mayo, Aoili (which is fancy for garlic flavored mayo). Lay on some chicken, top with the veggies. You could toss on som shredded cheese at this point, too. Roll it up, and place it seam side down on the plate if serving immediately. You can stick a toothpick in it. You can wrap it in plastic wrap or foil or whatever your conscience will allow you to do. Repeat for the other 3 wraps.

Variations: (Oh, COME ON, you were expecting this part)

Use some other meat. Left over roast beef, ham, turkey. Whatever.
Use arugula. YUM, spicy
Use some other veggies. I use carrots and colorful bell peppers to colorize my families palate. Really, eat the different color families in veggies, to get a better all around nutrition profile.
Any spreadable condiment is fair game.
Eat them for dinner.
Add scrambled eggs, and KAPOW, breakfast on the run. (You can do as much or as little as you want the night before. Zap 'em in the nuker ... or in the oven ... (again, go by your own conscience) and BOOM, out you go with a healthy, nutritious and filling breakfast.