Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Creamy Cauliflower Mac

Each time our CSA pick-up includes cauliflower, I have to listen to the story about my husband sitting at the table until he finished his cauliflower and how it ruined his ability to EVER eat it again.  When I mentioned I found a recipe for mac and cheese in Runner's World, he was interested.  When I named the ingredients, he became apprehensive.  When he ate it, he was sold!  Honestly, I thought the cauliflower sauce was as good as mashed potatoes and fed some of the leftovers to the baby.

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cauliflower, cored and cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 8 oz whole-wheat elbow macaroni
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko because it was on-hand, but next time I will use whole grain) 
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 9 baking dish.
  2. Boil a pot of salted water.  Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 25 minutes.  (To save using another pot, I removed the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and used the water to boil my pasta). Move cauliflower to blender or food processor.
  3. In a saucepan, warm stock and bay leaves on medium-low heat for 5 minutes; turn off heat.
  4. Boil pasta 5 minutes.  Drain. Place in greased baking dish.
  5. Blend cauliflower with stock (remove bay leaves), cheese, oil, mustard, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Pour over pasta.  Toss and spread in dish.
  6. Top with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes.
No elbow macaroni in pantry-rotini were just as good
Difficulty: Medium
Time: about an hour
Source: Mark Bittman contributing to Runner's World, March 2011

Monday, July 23, 2012

Scalloped Chicken

When I was cleaning out my pantry, I found tons of scalloped potatoes; we rarely eat them.  I just can't walk away from coupons and a good sale, so I end up with a bunch of those Betty Crocker boxes in my cabinets.  Many times I sit with a cookbook and look for recipes which I actually have all the ingredients for...I rarely have what I need, but this recipe only had three things and it goes in the crock-pot!  It didn't sound like it would be that great, but not having to make a trip to the store was priceless so I was willing to try. Everyone liked it, even my mother-in-law. She bought herself a crock-pot so she could prepare this dish. I couldn't believe how good this meal was.  In a pinch, I use the chicken frozen and it works out wonderfully.

  • 1 package of scalloped potatoes and seasoning pack
  • 3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • package of frozen peas
  • 2 cups water

  1. Put potatoes, seasoning pack, chicken, and peas in slow cooker.
  2. Pour water over all.
  3. Cover; cook on low 6-8 hours.

Difficulty: Super easy-no chopping!
Time: prep is less than 10 minutes
Source: adapted from Fix It and Forget It

Monday, July 16, 2012

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

Once upon a time, my now-93-year-old grandmother had a huge garden.  Despite having ten children, and thus, plenty of people to give them to, she always seemed to have an abundance of zucchini.  I recall eating zucchini as a child in a million different ways - fried zucchini, zucchini sauteed in butter, zucchini bread, zucchini pancakes - you name it.  I loved them all.  Now, one of my favorites are these zucchini crisps.  They  are a great way to use a spare zucchini or two and you can cook them to be as crispy as you would like, without all of the fat that comes with deep frying.  My whole family devours them every time I make them.

  • 1 medium zucchini (sliced thinly, will ultimately fill a large baking sheet)
  • 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Coat zucchini slices with olive oil by tossing together in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, mix panko crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper (to taste).
  4. Press one side of each zucchini round into the panko mixture; place panko side down in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle the tops of the zucchini rounds with the remaining panko mixture.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness of zucchini and desired crispiness.
Note: You may want to double this recipe!

Difficulty: Relatively Easy
Time: 25-30 minutes

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gary's Famous Baked Beans

This recipe has been a picnic staple in our family since 1990.  My dad asked our neighbor for the recipe after tasting them at a going-away party; Deb, the gracious host, quickly handed it over.  My dad modified the recipe to suit our tastes over the years.  My dad usually doubles or even triples this recipe and gives some of his biggest fans some to freeze.  My family enjoys them so much that they make appearances at ALL major holidays.  As a cover for a surprise birthday party, we even made him make these beans; he was carrying the crock pot as everyone yelled "Surprise!".

My favorite thing about this recipe is that my dad only uses one pot!


  • 2 28 ounce cans of vegetarian baked beans
  • 20 ounces Heinz ketchup 
  • 1 roll of Jimmy Dean Hot Country sausage
  • 1/2 pound dark brown sugar
  • 2 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 cup instant mashed potatoes (a thickening agent in this recipe)


  1. In a large pot, heat butter and onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. Throw the roll sausage in the pot; break up and cook.
  3. Add beans and lower heat.
  4. Add ketchup and brown sugar while constantly stirring.
  5. Add onion. Cook on low 30 minutes. Stirring often.
  6. Add vinegar.  Cook 10 minutes. (You may want to taste here to add either more sugar or vinegar to match your taste)
  7. Add mashed potatoes to thicken (we like them thick enough to not slide around on the plate)

Difficulty: Medium
Time: about an hour start to finish
Source: my dad

Monday, July 2, 2012

Eclair Dessert

"What do you want me to bring?" 
"Can you bring that yummy dessert you brought last time?" 
Little do they know that this is the easiest thing for me to make to take to a neighborhood get-together, or any get-together for that matter!  I have eaten it since I was a child, and I have made it since I was in college.  It doesn't require me to heat up a stove or oven, it is pretty cheap (especially if you use store brand products like SHOP 'n SAVE's Essential Everyday line), and I get to lick the spoon after it is all made and put together.  Perfect!

  • a box of graham crackers
  • 2 sm boxes of vanilla pudding
  • 1 container of whipped topping (like Cool Whip), thawed
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 can chocolate icing
  1. Line 9x13 pan with crackers.
  2. Mix 3 c milk and pudding with a wire wisk for 1 minute.  Add whipped topping, mix well.
  3. Spread half of mixture on crackers.  Add another layer of crackers and the rest of the pudding.  Add a third layer of crackers.
  4. Remove lid and foil cover from icing and microwave for 1 minute on high.  Stir.  Pour over top layer of graham crackers.  Refrigerate 4 hours or over night.

Difficulty: super easy
Time: less than 20 minutes, plus at least 4 hours to chill
Source: my mom's friend