Tag Archives: recipe

Salted-caramel glazed oatmeal cookies

caramel-glazed-oatmeal-cookies-vert-520x610
I love it when a recipe goes wrong, then turns into something oh so right!

One of my favorite cookies is sunflower seed oatmeal cookies. (Gibbers’, too.) I made a batch today to take to a neighborhood get-together tonight, but I played with the proportions a bit too much, and they came out kinda bland. So I thought a caramel icing might balance that out.
And it did! But I couldn’t just leave it at that. Since “salted caramel whatever” is everywhere these days, I thought I’d give them just a light sprinkling of kosher salt.
Perfect! The cakey/crispy texture of the cookie contrasts nicely with the gooey caramel, and they do balance each other out. That icing would also rock drizzled over banana cake, muffins, or banana-nut bread!
I can’t give you the cookie part of my recipe, because I swapped Splenda for some of the sugar, just added the dry ingredient mix till it looked right, and same on the oatmeal. But the base recipe I was working from is the standard one on every carton of Quaker Oatmeal: Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I leave out the cinnamon and swap sunflower seeds for raisins.
On to the icing…
I started with a recipe on AllRecipes.com, but changed it substantially. Here’s what I ended up with:

Caramel icing

covers three dozen cookies
 2 T. butter
 1/4 c. cream
 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar (or less)
1/2 t. vanilla
Kosher or sea salt to taste (optional)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then stir in the cream and brown sugar. Boil vigorously for 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and beat in half of the powdered sugar. Cool slightly, and beat in the vanilla and the remaining powdered sugar. Taste it as you add a bit at a time; you may not need all of it. 
It sets up pretty quickly, so have your cookies all ready before you make the icing. If it gets too thick, add more cream and/or return it to low heat for a moment.
Drizzle over the cookies. Sprinkle lightly w/ kosher or sea salt, if desired.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe

buttermilk-dressing-overhead-480
Looking for things to do with summer’s last abundance of garden tomatoes? When you’re tired of BLT’s (is that possible?), this is one delicious way to serve up the same flavors with a twist.
This recipe is based on Ina Garten’s (aka Barefoot Contessa) buttermilk ranch dressing. I’m not saying I could improve on her: these changes were just made to accommodate my being short on fresh basil, my husband’s aversion to too much mustard flavor, and our taste for less salt in things. Also, I prefer the taste of yogurt to that of mayo, so I tweaked that proportion a bit.
I loved how it came out! I ate this salad or some variation of it for four days straight! I hope you’ll love it, too.

Recipe: Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed (or 2 t. dried)
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 T. good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
—-
3 small Bibb lettuces, cut in half through the core
   (or 6 hearts of romaine, cut in half through the core, or equivalent loose-leaf chopped)
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut in large cubes, or smaller tomatoes thickly sliced
1 red onion, sliced (optional)
bacon, amount to your liking (optional, but highly recommended)
Place the green onions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, for the flavors to develop.
Arrange the salad ingredients on salad plates and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper if desired, and serve.
Serves 6.

What to do with all that zucchini

pizza-bites-360

Whether it was you or your neighbor who planted too much zucchini this year, here are a few recipes for using up that infamous garden bounty. (Summer squash is its yellow cousin; no significant difference in taste.)

Pizza bites. (Shown above.) They are cute; also the perfect size to pop in your mouth whole. Easy, gluten-free appetizer or snack.
 
 
Summer squash (or zucchini) topped with sausage and cheese. A quick easy dish to prep ahead of time, and then assemble and cook in about 15 minutes.
 
 
Zucchini noodles with peanut sauce. Quick-and-easy, low carb, and tasty, too!
paleo zucchini fritters
Paleo zucchini fritters from PaleOMG — I hear rave reviews about her recipes.
 
For those who are looking for something sweet, and aren’t trying to avoid flour, here are a couple recipes for you. 
grandmas-zucchini-cake
 
Elise’s Grandma’s zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting! This sounds like carrot cake — one of the few cakes I will always be willing to blow my diet for! I haven’t tried this recipe, but it’s from SimplyRecipes, and every recipe I’ve ever tried there has been a winner. I’m sure this one is no different.
 
 
Zucchini bread. If you’ve never tried zucchini bread, you really must! It’s a sweet quick bread (read “muffin-like”), akin to banana bread, but without the banana overtones. You really don’t taste the zucchini at all; it just lends moisture to the party. The predominant flavors come from the cinnamon and sugar. And you know that can’t be bad! 
I made this recipe from AllRecipes earlier this week to take to a ladies social, because it was rated five stars after more than 3,800 reviews! And it was a hit with everyone, but it’s a little sweet for me as is. If (like me) you’re living a mostly sugar-free life, you might want to cut back on the sugar by 1/4 to 3/4 cup. (Here’s a healthier version I haven’t tried.) 

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin

pw-s-roasted-pork-tenderloin

(Plus a recipe for Emergency Herbs de Provence)

It was one of those days when 4:30 was here before I knew it, and I didn’t have dinner planned. I have no good excuse. Not even a lousy one.

What to do? Same as usual, when “the usual” doesn’t sound good… Hit a recipe website I trust and search for “quick.” After a couple other stand-by’s (All Recipes, Simply Recipes), I landed on Pioneer Woman and came up with her Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves. Which sounds and look very elegant, but is super, super simple, and comes together in 30 minutes or less.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce
photo by Pioneer Woman

Basically, you salt and pepper a pork tenderloin, then coat it generously in Herbs de Provence before roasting. Top it off with a simple fruit-preserves-based sauce.

Not having any Herbs de Provence on hand, I googled for a recipe. I came up with several, but ended up using (as a starting point) this one by Emeril. (Yeah, we’re on a first-name basis.)

Herbs de Provence often contains lavender, but I didn’t have any on hand.  :/

Why this one? Well, because all the herbs have the same proportion, and I like simple! From what I understand, Herbs de Provence has some standard ingredients that are almost always in the mix, but the mix has evolved over time and also, every cook has his or her own variation. Which is great, because there were several ingredients I didn’t have on hand. So here’s my variation:

Recipe: (Emergency) Herbs de Provence

for one 1.35 lb. tenderloin; multiply as needed
 

1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. dried ground sage

PW’s original recipe called for 8 tablespoons of H.d.P. That’s half a cup – yikes! She was cooking up two whole tenderloins; I was just fixing one tenderloin, slightly over one pound. So I just used all of the above mix, and I still thought it was plenty potently ‘picy!

A note on cooking pork… Rather than cooking by time, use a meat thermometer. Pull the roast from the oven when the temp hits 140-145 F. Then tent lightly with foil and let rest at room temp, till the internal temp hits about 160. Slice and serve. Mmm… perfectly tender and juicy!

For the sauce, PW recommends fig, peach, plum, or whatever preserves you wish. I used blackberry. It adds a lovely sweetness that mellows the pungent herb crust. Perfect for a quick dinner for just me and the hubs — but impressive and foolproof enough to serve special guests!

Easy roasted chicken breasts

roasted-chicken-plated
make-ahead roasted chicken breasts

One of the best things you can do to make quick, healthy dinners more doable is to have some already-cooked chicken on hand. The stuff you buy ready-cooked at the grocery is loaded with salt, probably has corn syrup in it, and doesn’t taste all that great. Here is the simplest, lowest-hassle, and most delicious method I’ve found for make-ahead roasted chicken breasts.

If you want to be super efficient, make enough to stash for future use, plus enough for dinner tonight, and serve it straight out of the oven — it’s great on its own, too!

Recipe (really, just a method):

Roasted chicken breasts, to use in recipes

Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Olive oil (about 1 teasp. per breast)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray or oil it. Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, in the pan with an inch more more between them. Brush the tops liberally with olive oil, then lightly with salt and pepper, according to your taste. Place a meat thermometer 2″ into the fleshy part of the largest piece, trying not to hit bone. (Which would make the temperature misread.) Here’s my favorite brand of thermometer.

Bake uncovered until the internal temperature hits 165 F. If you don’t have an accurate thermometer, the skin should be a light golden-brown…

…but the juices should also run clear. To clearly see the color of the juices, slip a white dish under the edge of one breast and poke a hole just above it. Let some juice run into the dish, and look at it in good light. This test looked a little pink, so I stuck the chicken back in for about five minutes.

But also be careful not to overcook it! That’s what makes chicken tough and dry. If in doubt, pull it out a little on the underdone side. The outer and smaller parts of the chicken will probably be cooked through, with a little more pinkness in the center. Save the more-done pieces for salads and sandwiches; use the slightly underdone pieces for dishes that will get cooked some more, like soups, casseroles, and enchiladas.

If you’re serving the chicken right away, though, make sure that everything you serve is cooked through.

To store for future use, let chicken sit at room temp or in the fridge till it’s cool enough to handle. Pull off and discard the skin. Pull the chicken meat off the bone. Discard the bones. You can bag the meat and store as is, or cut into bite size pieces, or shred — whatever works for your use. Store in tightly covered containers or plastic bags.

The FDA says that cooked chicken can be kept three to four days in the fridge, or up to four months in the freezer.

Tomorrow I’ll post a round-up of six of my salad recipes that use chicken!

Individual lemon icebox pies

lemon-icebox-pie-2

When I was a kid, dessert was not a forbidden thing. We almost always had some ice cream in the freezer, and/or a frozen chocolate cream pie or lemon icebox pie. I loved the lemon pie, and would sneak small slivers off of it every now and then. I suspect that the reason I never got caught was that I wasn’t the only one in the house doing it, and s0 my mom probably assumed my dad was the culprit!

These mini-pies are quick and easy to whip up at home, and they have that same sweet-and-tangy appeal as the freezer pie in my memory! But these are sugar-free, gluten-free, corn syrup-free, and you control whether there’s food coloring, and what kind of sweetener goes in!

Recipe for:Individual lemon icebox pies

makes 6-8, depending on serving sizes

1/2 c. pecan pieces
8 oz. cream cheese
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon (or 1/2 or 3/4, depending on how sour you like things)
4 pkts. Splenda (or sweetener of your choice, equiv. to 8 teasp. sugar)
1/2 t. vanilla
2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
1/4 c. cream
whipped cream:
1/2 c. cream
1 pkt. Splenda
1/2 t. vanilla

See my recipe for No-bake lime cheesecake shooters for the crust-making and assembly method, using 4-oz. Mason jars as the serving dishes.

Once the jars are filled and topped with whipped cream, attach the lids and place in the freezer for at least three hours. I haven’t tested them for longevity, but I’m pretty sure you could keep them frozen for up to several days at least with no problem.

Remove from the freezer 45 minutes before serving time and let thaw at room temp. Remove lids, garnish if you like, and serve!

Also, this recipe is fantastic turned into cheesecake-stuffed strawberries! No freezing, for that option.

Here’s the nutrition info, via myfitnesspal.com; this is for a single serving (of eight servings), with the crust, but with NO whipped cream.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving   Servings 8
Calories 163
Total Fat 16 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Sodium 87 mg
Potassium 95 mg
Total Carbohydrate 3 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 3 g

Want more recipes like this? or looking for Paleo recipes? Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

Summer squash topped with sausage

squash-w-sausage-done-row
This squash topped with sausage is a quick easy dish to prep ahead of time, and then assemble and cook in about 15 minutes. It evolved from a recipe for stuffed portobello mushrooms — which is good, don’t get me wrong! — but I think I like it better on squash.
In these pictures, I was testing a batch without the sundried tomatoes, but I don’t recommend skipping them. I think they add an important zing to the dish.
 Note: I have since Paleo-ized this recipe. I used cashew ricotta and skipped the Italian cheese blend. I did sprinkle a little grated Parmesan on top. It was delish!
paleo sausage on squash

Recipe: Summer squash topped with sausage and cheese

Ready In: 30 Minutes      Servings: 3
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled sausage
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 T. finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated
1 medium summer squash
Optional for plain squash slices:
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine sausage, half of the shredded cheese, ricotta cheese, onions and tomatoes in medium bowl.
Lay the squash flat on cutting board, and cut off the bottom on a diagonal.
 squash-slice-1
Slice the rest of the squash, parallel to the first cut, in approximately 1/2″ thick slabs.
 squash-slice-2
You’ll have some large diameter slices and some small ones. If you’re prepping this meal early in the day, you can put everything in the fridge now to hold till you’re ready to bake.
squash-slice-3
Lay the slices on the prepared baking sheet. Divide the sausage mixture among the slices; first just dump some on (shown upper left in the photo below), then pat it down with your fingers (shown in the top second one). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sausage mixture.
squash-w-sausage-topped
You may top all the slices this way, or you can use the two or three smallest ones without the sausage topping. If you’re not topping all the slices, brush the bare ones with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until squash is just tender. Remove from the oven.
squash-w-sausage-done-oh
Sprinkle the plain slices with grated Parmesan.
summer-squash-w-parm
Serve it all up. Yummmm!
paleo sausage on squash
Topping squash slices for pizza-like bites

 

Asian lettuce wraps

asian-lettuce-wraps-oh-468
Asian lettuce wraps

This is another one of those dishes that you can prep early in the day, and throw together in minutes come dinner time. Also low carb and low fat! Easy to make Paleo and Whole30 compliant, with a couple minor tweaks.

Recipe: Asian lettuce wraps

Makes 4 servings

about 1.3 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 large onion, sliced thin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 T. lower sodium soy sauce (for Whole30, sub coconut aminos)
1 pkt. Splenda or equivalent sweetener (just omit for Paleo/Whole3)
1/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (less for mild; more for hot)
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 cups coleslaw mix with carrots, (or more)
butter lettuce or romaine lettuce leaves, for wraps
fresh cilantro and chopped cashews, for garnish, optional

This is the slaw mix I use:

Brown the turkey and onions in a large skillet; when the turkey is mostly browned but still showing some pink, drain the fat. Meanwhile, combine the sesame oil through the crushed pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Add the ginger, garlic and coriander to the pan; stir-fry for a couple minutes.

If you’re prepping ahead of time, you can stop here and refrigerate the meat and sauce. When ready to serve, just reheat and proceed. Also, since I was just cooking for two of us, I pulled out half the meat and put it in the fridge for lunch the next day. Be sure to only add half the sauce and cole slaw to the pan if you do this.

Add the cole slaw and the soy sauce mixture. Cook and stir constantly for one or two minutes.

(I’m warming up leftovers the next day in the photo above; that’s why the skillet’s smaller.)

Serve the meat mixture with lettuce leaves to fill, and roll up to eat. Offer cilantro and cashews for topping, if desired.