Roasted Chickpeas (Great Party Nut Substitute)

Curry-Seasoned Chick Peas, Roasted

I don’t know about you, but when I encounter a bowl of tasty party snacks I inevitably over-eat. I particularly fall prey to salty and crunchy which means potato chips, nuts and chex mix.

I love this recipe because I can eat a ton with no guilt and offer them to my children as an alternative. They are more satisfying, too, with 5 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of fat per serving (this recipe makes about 8 servings)

NUTS AND BOLTS

  • 6 cups Cooked Chickpeas
  • 3 Tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Good Curry Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Cumin
  • 3 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

I started with chickpeas cooked in the crock-pot according to my hero Alton Brown’s recipe. This is so simple and makes moist, fluffy chickpeas great for any usage.

All you do is toss the cooked chickpeas with the oil and seasoning in a large bowl. As a side dish, these are extremely tasty and tender as is! My kids gobbled them up.

To get a bit of  crunch, spread out your seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on a couple of parchment covered sheet pans and bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes. If you can, serve them hot. They tend to lose crunch as they cool, but can be reheated in the oven to crisp up again.

MONKEY METER

My eldest has been snacking on these, but not overly enthusiastically. Maybe 4 of 5

The twinkies really, really loved them before baking. Still ate them crunchy. 4.5 of 5

Us grown ups devoured them both ways. Taste great with a beer but frustrated that they don’t stay super crispy. 4.5 of 5

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Posted in 10 Ingredients or Less, Appetizer, Low Fat, Lunch, Side Dish, Simple, Snack | Leave a comment

Garlic Chicken and Veggie Pasta Sauce

Garlic Chicken, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Red Pepper and Snap Pea Pasta

This recipe was inspired by a Lean Cuisine dish my mother in law was eating, Garlic Chicken. While I admire the ease of a microwave meal and am no stranger to the frozen foods section, I still recognize that there is a lot of processing and preservatives involved which we can mitigate by home replication.

Their dish includes chicken, broccoli, asparagus and carrots. Mine has leftover chicken and broccoli; raw mushrooms and snap peas; and roasted red peppers – it’s what I had on hand (with the addition of the jarred red peppers my mother in law was so sweet to run to the store for). I think you could probably do the same – use whatever veggies you have on hand or that your family likes. I used up a bunch of leftovers making this dish and, let me tell you, I love refrigerator velcro.

My recipe does not add any additional salt while cooking, so be prepared to dust a little salt on each serving at the table. The extra pop to the flavors is essential and the overall sodium is reduced by salting to taste on the plate.

My whole house smelled of garlic while preparing this meal and I probably oozed it for days, but it was so delicious, who cares? Besides, if everyone in the house eats it, no one will be able to point fingers at anyone else! Sneaky, sneaky, mommy.

NUTS and BOLTS

  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion, Chopped Fine
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • 3 1/4 cups Skim Milk, Divided
  • 5 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 5 oz Gouda Cheese, Shredded
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Sweet Paprika

Add-ins

  • 4 oz Mushrooms, Sliced Thinly
  • 10 oz Cooked Chicken Breast
  • 12 oz Steamed Broccoli, Chopped
  • 4 oz Snap Peas, Chopped Roughly
  • 3 Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Sliced in Thin Strips

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

First, whisk together 1/4 cup skim milk and 5 tablespoons of flour in a small bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a large stainless pan. Saute’ onions and garlic until lightly browned and de-glaze pan with the white wine. Make sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining 3 cups of milk to the onions and garlic and heat. Stir the milk and flour mixture into the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce bubbles and thickens. This will take 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add 5 ounces of grated or shredded cheese of your choice, whisking until melted. I used smoked gouda because it has a ton of flavor and I happened to have some in my refrigerator. I think parmesan would be wonderful too.

Also, at this time whisk in your garlic powder, pepper and paprika.

Finally, stir in your additions. Because my mushrooms and snap peas were raw, I put them into the sauce to cook for a while (about 15 minutes) before the other ingredients. Once everything is combined, you can simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until you achieve your desired consistency.

Use whatever noodles tickle your fancy. I used spinach linguine this time. It was fabulous! Wheat noodles or rice noodles would be lovely as well. Once cooked, add your noodles to the sauce and cook an additional minute. Turn off the heat and serve a large number of people! This makes a TON of food which translated into yummy leftovers if you are serving a weeknight dinner.

Note: Grated parmesan is an excellent table-side addition!

MONKEY METER

My eldest is starting to realize that veggies can be tasty when cooked! She loved this dish even though she wrinkled her nose up at the cooked mushroom (before she tried it, anyway). Had 2 portions day 1 and leftovers the next. 5 of 5

I cut everything tiny for the twinkies and they definitely went crazy for it. Monkey 2 kept picking out the broccoli to eat first! They ate 2 servings each with lots of “Mmmm, yummy, Mommy” ‘s and “More, please” ‘s. Made me feel very good! 5 of 5

My husband and I ate this pasta at least once a day for 4 days until it was gone. He says we need to make it again. Thanks honey! 5 of 5

Posted in 15 Ingredients or Less, Chicken, Lunch, Main Dishes, Refrigerator Velcro | Leave a comment

Quiche in a Basket

Quiche as an Appetizer

I love quiche. I don’t love how fattening it can be. This is a slimmed down version that I made appetizer / child size. I added all kinds of things to my batter – broccoli, mushrooms, chicken, red peppers, green onions, garlic and basil. The lovely thing about this dish is how customizable it is! You can choose whatever works for you and your family.

The wonton cup is decorative and neat for a party, but these come out beautifully as crustless quiche too. That’s how I made the majority of mine.

Broccoli, Mushroom, Chicken and Red Pepper Mini Quiche

Looking at how all the ingredients show on the top of these mini quiche, I wasn’t sure my kids would even try them. But, let me tell you, I had a hard time rescuing enough of these to get any photographs! The whole time I was taking pictures, my kids were screaming at me for more. I did manage to save 8 to put into the refrigerator so I could test how well they reheat.

I tried both the toaster oven and the microwave, and the toaster was far better; tasted fresh out of the oven. I bet you could easily freeze them and reheat for a party, an after-school snack, or breakfast like we did.

When the twinkies were given the quiche in a wonton cup, they gave me the name, immediately saying “basket, mommy.. quiche in a basket!”. I love how those little minds work!

The NUTS and BOLTS

Step 1

  • 2 cups Skim Milk
  • 2 Whole Eggs
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Mascarpone Cheese
  • 3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Asiago Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1.5 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Step 2

  • 3/4 cup Finely Shredded Cheese of Your Choice
    Plus, Up To 3 cups of Add-ins… I  used:
  • 4 oz Broccoli, Minced
  • 4 oz Chicken Breast, Minced
  • 4 oz Mushrooms, Minced
  • 2.5 oz Red Bell Pepper, Minced
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Basil, Chopped Fine
  • Wonton Wrappers, Optional

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

While this can be a touch time consuming, it is so worth it! You will need your stand mixer. Start by beating the milk, eggs, egg whites and oil together until well blended and slightly frothy. Add your mascarpone cheese and blend.

Sift the rest of the dry ingredients together. I used 2 kinds of grated aged cheese, feel free to use whatever aged cheese you like best. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet until totally incorporated. Your batter will be liquidy and lumpy.

Now, stir in your shredded cheese, and 3 cups of your favorite additions. Chop any vegetables really fine so they can cook and also fit in the mini-muffin size quiche. I used pre-cooked chicken breast, raw mushrooms, broccoli, green onion. garlic and red pepper. Because I have this cool basil plant (and because I LOVE basil) I added that too. Use whatever your family likes (or you think you can pull over on them). Maybe make the first time with only some things they really love, then ease them into more options each time you make it.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and heavily spray 2 mini muffin pans with cooking spray. If using wonton wrappers, press each wrapper into a muffin cup and lightly spray again. Fill each cup, wrapper or not, full to the top and bake for 25 minutes until quiche is lightly browned..

Remove, lightly salt the tops of the quiche, cool for 5-10 minutes and pop out of the pan with a tiny rubber spatula or thin spoon. Serve warm. Try not to over eat.

MONKEY METER

The eldest wanted to try it right away. She thought it looked really cool in the wonton flower (as she called it). She loved it. Said it was really cheesy and lovely tasting. 5 of 5

I thought the small ones would balk at this odd disc. Strangely, they immediately wanted to try. After the initial couple bites, they started shoveling them in. Each Twinkie ate 6 (!) and cried when I said all gone!  5 of 5

All the grown-ups loved it. Both the fancy “basket” way, and just plain. my husband said it was definitely 5 of 5

Posted in 15 Ingredients or Less, Appetizer, Breakfast, Chicken, Lunch, Main Dishes, Side Dish, Sneaky | 1 Comment

Lemon Tarragon Salmon Fillet

Lemon Tarragon Salmon

This is sort of a guest blog. I’ll do the typing, but someone else is cooking this one.

I can not cook meats like my husband. I just don’t have the ability to patiently wait for things to sear. I always feel paranoid that I will burn something, and so I touch, I poke, I open the oven. I just can’t leave well enough alone.

For future reference, if there is a meat dish on this blog, my husband will have cooked it. I love him for that. He doesn’t just say, “Go ahead, honey, I believe in you.” He makes what I do physically possible. Being a quadriplegic can be hard, but not generally when he is around. We are a symbiotic team, and I am so grateful for his hands and patience and support.

This dish is a crowd pleaser. So very simple. So VERY tasty. It even looks terribly fancy! Serve it up for your next party or weeknight dinner, it is quick and will satisfy every time.

For people who do not like fish, the lemon zest cuts that fishiness a bit; although, I bet this rub would be excellent on chicken or pork chops as well.

The NUTS and BOLTS

  • (4 or 5) 4.5 oz Salmon Fillets
  • 3 lemons
  • 4 oz Fresh Tarragon (approx. a large handful)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

First thing to do is de-stem your tarragon. Strip all of the leaves off and mince. Put this aside in a tiny bowl. Add a good pinch of kosher salt to the bowl as well. Zest the lemons with a microplane and muddle with the herbs and salt until the zest releases some of its oil and the whole mixture gets sort of clumpy.

Preheat your broiler on high. Place Salmon fillets on a baking sheet covered in foil. Grind fresh pepper over the fillets and then spread the tops with your zest and herb mixture. Broil for 10 minutes until the top of the salmon starts to brown and fish flakes with a fork.

May serve with lemon slices for garnish.

MONKEY METER

The eldest loves fish to start with, so this wasn’t a hard sell. She did prefer this herb/zest mix over other methods we have used to season before. 5 of 5

The Twinkies ate their salmon flaked up in quinoa pilaf and actually applauded! 4.5 of 5

All the grown-ups loved it. The only comment was perhaps a bit salty. I may have put a bit of a heavy pinch. Next time I will adjust. 4.5 of 5

Posted in 10 Ingredients or Less, Lunch, Main Dishes, Seafood, Simple | Leave a comment

Products I Love – Ancient Grains, Heritage Grain Blend

Ancient Grains, Heritage Grain Blend Pilaf

I have decided I will occasionally post entries about pantry items I love and feel are really useful for when we have no time to make everything from scratch. I wish I could not use any processed ingredients, but convenience sometimes rules when you have 3 children and 2 parents with jobs.

This is a lovely staple in my pantry. Ancient Grains Heritage Grain Blend.This mix includes red and white quinoa, par-boiled brown rice, wild rice and amaranth.

Cooks up pleasantly chewy and really tasty if you season the pot during cooking or cook in broth.

My favorite way to cook this product is with water and Penzey’s Chicken Soup Base. It tastes so much richer than any other bullion and even better than stock or broth. Go get you some!

NUTS AND BOLTS

  • 2.5 cups Water
  • 1 cup Heritage Grain Blend
  • 1 Heaping Tbsp Chicken Base

WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL

Place water in a pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil with the soup base to dissolve. As soon as the base dissolves to create your stock, add the grains to the pot and stir.

Cook uncovered at a low boil until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally. So simple!

ADD-INS

Add any of these after cooking to make more of a complete meal or side dish. Get creative as well. Let me know if you try something that works!

  • 1 can Petite Diced Tomatoes (flavor of your choice). Do not drain
  • 1 can Beans of Your Choice, Drained and Rinsed
  • Raisins or Diced Apricots
  • Frozen Peas
  • Chopped, cooked Greens, Like Spinach

MONKEY METER

The eldest adores this, as is or with various Add-ins. 4.5 of 5

The twinkies call it rice and will eat it whenever I make it happily. They particularly like when I add tomatoes and beans. 5 of 5

The grown ups love it and even know it is meant to be a healthy grain. 5 of 5

Posted in 10 Ingredients or Less, Appetizer, Low Fat, Lunch, Main Dishes, Products, Side Dish, Simple | 1 Comment

Thank You Laurie!

Have I mentioned how wonderful my friends are? This lovely lady was actually a friend of my husband’s at first. They both teach classes at Ascend Training and Consulting here in Chicago-land.

We have a little in common, both being graphic designers and into tasty food. She started reading my blog when I first posted it and was the first person to comment.

I was so very grateful when my husband brought me this fabulous surprise! Laurie sent me her favorite seasoning along with a note  of encouragement (where she even printed my header as letterhead!). So, here is my note back:

Laurie, you will never know how these little kindnesses mean so very much. How you brightened my day and helped me believe in myself. Thank you for your sunny disposition and support. And of course for the insanely tasty garlic salt!

Posted in 10 Ingredients or Less, Personal, Products, Simple, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Turnip Casserole

Turnip Casserole, Plated

Ok, this is not a sexy, pretty dish. I tried and tried and this was the most beautiful picture I could take. It doesn’t plate pretty or look nice in the pan.

What it does do, is taste fabulous and fill your family full of nutritious veggies. I’ll take the trade-off.

If there were more fat, it might brown up nicely, but it doesn’t need to. The multi-grain saltines stay nice and crunchy and work very well without any extra oil. Turnips might not be the veggie of the moment, but I think there is a lot of people missing out.

I love that this reheats well too. My husband and I ate it for breakfast this morning, and the kids begged for some when they saw it. Guess that’s a good sign!

NUTS and BOLTS

  • 2 Stalks Celery, Sliced 1/4”
  • 1 Large Onion Chopped Coarsely
  • 2 Carrots, Sliced Thin
  • 3 Large Turnips, Sliced Thin
  • 3 Red Potatoes, Peeled And Sliced Thin
  • 1 Large Green Pepper, Diced
  • 1 Large Red Pepper, Diced
  • 1/8 tsp. each: Black Pepper, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Seasoned Salt
  • 2/3 cup Grated Cheese Of Your Choice
  • Sprinkling Of Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 can 98% Fat Free, Condensed Cream of Broccoli Soup
  • 1/2 cup Crushed Wheat Saltines

WHAT YOU DO WITH IT ALL

First, place a large stockpot 2/3 full of water over medium heat. Add your seasonings to the water and bring to a boil.

Slice the carrots, potatoes (skin on) and turnips thinly on a mandolin (about 1/8″ thick). Chop up your other vegetables, keeping the dice fairly small so they can distribute well amongst the sliced items.

Boil celery, onions and carrots first in the seasoned water for 5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables to your pot and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain off liquid.

Arrange the par-boiled vegetables evenly in a casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spread grated cheese over vegetables. I then sprinkled some grated parmesan over the other cheese, but I think perhaps next time I will combine the parmesan with the crushed crackers to go on top.

Spoon undiluted soup over cheese and spread with a spatula like frosting, covering evenly – the layer will be fairly thin. Dust crushed crackers over soup.You want to have the cracker layer thin enough to all stick to the soup. Any extra will not cook into the casserole and will slide off when you scoop out your servings – I made that mistake the first time!

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly. You can broil for a couple minutes at the end if you want more brown on the top. Serves 8 people as a side dish, or 4-6 as a main.

MONKEY METER

The eldest really liked this the first time I made it, but insisted this time that she wouldn’t. Made her try it, and she ate what we gave her, but decided not to have any more.  3 of 5

The twinkies LOVED it. Ate large bowlfuls the first night, even when it was too hot. When I pulled it out for my breakfast, they dropped their pigs in blankets and begged for mine. I think it was a winner. 5 of 5

The grown-ups are big fans of this dish. It tastes so much more decadent than it is. Makes us all crave vegetables! 5 of 5

Posted in 15 Ingredients or Less, Low Fat, Lunch, Main Dishes, Side Dish, Vegetarian | Leave a comment