Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Garlic Aoli

Do you ever feel dubious of food labels? The FDA hasn’t quite streamlined regulations in labeling and they can still be misleading — highly frustrating when the average person is just trying to make the healthiest choices for themselves and their families. What’s better — all natural or organic? Does multigrain mean whole grain? Low sugar or no sugar added? When do labels mean something or – nothing?

A key to understanding the ingredients list is to know that the order in which they’re listed really matters. To really get educated about food labels, here’s a link to a guide provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and additional information on understanding the meaning of food marketing terms.

Food labels aside, Saturdays are for snacking around here. On any given day, I try to eat “the rainbow” in food colors. It’s fun to get kids involved in this game…and honestly has opened up more of a variety of vegetables that Bryce is willing to try. She’s been a little fickle about eating sweet potatoes the last couple of years, but we can always win a stealth mission with a sweet potato fries. Sweet potato oven fries hit the spot with the kids, and grown ups embrace them even more when you pair them with a garlic-y dipping sauce (which, also feels like a fancy indulgence!)

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We Portlanders are gearing up to tackle the winter grays. Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin D are super-important in the effort to stay healthy and to keep our immune systems pumping. Here are a few of the health benefits offered by the lovely sweet potato (aside from the fact that they’re well…sweet:)

Sweet Potatoes are:

1. Rich in beta-carotene, to aid in retinal health and bone strength. It also has powerful antioxidant functions, helping the body scavenge free radicals, and limiting cellular damage.

2. Loaded with Vitamin C. As well as warding off cold and flu, Vitamin C assists in the production of collagen which, helps us age a little more gracefully!

3. High in Potassium, which is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, improved blood pressure control and improved bone health.

4. Powered with Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that aids in relaxation, as well as blood, bone, heart and nerve function health.

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5 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch “fries”
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

French Baguette Pizzas

I remember when 30 minute meals were all the rage, then it was down to 20. Now I’m seeing books that tout the perfect meal in 16 minutes or less. While the 16 minute meal is not exactly what I’m striving for, this meal satisfies the time quotient while achieving high marks for deliciousness, simplicity — and also happens to be a fun way to get your kittens into the kitchen.

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This was inspired by the Pioneer Woman, who is no stranger to a time crunch with four kids and a ranch to tend to. This is a fantastic way to use leftover meats and/or roasted chicken! I do hope you give these a try, topping with all of your own family favorites.

French Baguette Pizza

1 french baguette (or any kind of rustic break will work)

Topping Variations I used:
Marinara/Mozzarella Cheese/sautéed Mushrooms
Marinara/Mozzarella Cheese/sliced Meatball
Marinara/Mozzarella Cheese/Hard Salami
Basil Pesto/Mozzarella Cheese/Roasted Chicken/Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Method
Preheat your oven to 375 Degrees.
Slice a baguette down the middle, creating 2 halves, then slice into length-wise pieces of your desire. Add your toppings, and put the baguettes on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 10 minutes.

Bring the pizzas up to the middle shelf for another 8-12 minutes, or until the toppings melt really well and become acquainted.

Let them cool for 3-5 minutes before serving — then go to town!

Roasted Eggs and Autumn Squash

easypeasyportland:

making this tonight….

Originally posted on easy peasy:

OK guys, ever stumped about what to do with those yellow, funny looking squash?

Yea, me too. I had these yellow squash that frankly I wasn’t sure how to cook but Bryce and I needed a project today after school. We picked them up at the pumpkin patch and intended to paint them along with some spooky gourds. Glad we didn’t! They were delicious roasted with eggs.

Roasted Eggs and Autumn Squash

1 autumn yellow squash
1 egg
1 tsp olive oil (or truffle oil)
1 tsp parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Fresh parsley torn or chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the bottom of the squash off so that it can sit with stability. Once it is stable on the cutting board carve out the center of the squash, removing most of the seeds and some flesh. You want to create a cup for…

View original 144 more words

Classic Creme Brulee

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Do you?

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Creme Brulee, or Burned Cream may sound like a recipe that requires a certificate from Le Cordon Bleu to make. The truth is it’s the one dessert I’ve made over and over again without fail. It’s something you can make ahead and I’ve never met a kid that didn’t devour it. It’s sweet but not too sweet. Rich but light. Creamy and crunchy. It can be infused with so many different flavors and is totally fun as a way to involve your dinner guests in a meal — I mean who doesn’t love to ignite a blow torch? Alright it’s a smallish culinary torch but it still packs a punch and can be somewhat cathartic. If you don’t have one you could use an oven broiler and have a similar effect (disclosure — I haven’t tested this theory but will share the results when I do!)

Here’s a link if you’re interested in purchasing one.

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Ina Garten’s Classic Creme Brulee
1 extra-large egg
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier, but I omit this for the kid version)

Method
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

* Propane Torch Safety
Propane gas torches are highly flammable and should be kept away from heat, open flame and prolonged exposure to sunlight. They should be used only in well-ventilated areas. When lighting a propane gas torch, place the torch on a flat, steady surface, facing away from you. Light the match or lighter and then open the gas valve. Light the gas jet, and blow out the match. Always turn off the burner valve to “finger tight” when finished using the torch. Children should never use a propane gas torch without adult supervision.

- See more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/creme-brulee-recipe/index.html#sthash.FdfZEWuD.dpuf

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/creme-brulee-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Have a great week!

Sunday Greek Yogurt Pancakes

For years I thought I was inept at making a good pancake. We grew up eating Bisquick and no matter the occasion the result was, without fail, pancakes that were heavy and (likely) burned. Not enough milk, too much milk. Over beaten. Heat too high. OK, I may have learned a few things since then but still erupts the tinge of anxiety over whether or not a flapjack recipe will deliver a light, fluffy yet rich tasting pancake that will satisfy my brood. Behold!

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Inspired by a sour cream pancake recipe found on Epicurious, I substituted the sour cream with Greek yogurt and ended up with something that tastes better (I’ve had both versions) and can feel better about eating. Brycey put a little elbow grease into the whisk and so it was a Sunday morning family affair. She has asked that we find a way to incorporate pumpkin into the next batch. I think she’s onto something.

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Greek Yogurt Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk (I used 1% milk fat)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for cooking pancakes

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°F

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together yogurt, milk, egg, and melted butter (2 tablespoons), then whisk into flour mixture. The batter will be slightly thick but not paste-like. If it needs a touch more milk to loosen then add about 1 tbsp at a time.

Brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with melted butter and heat over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, pour a scant 1/4 cup batter per pancake into skillet and cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden brown. Flip and cook other side, about 1 minute. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Lightly butter skillet between batches.
Serve pancakes with warm syrup.

Have a great week!

Tuscan Style Vegetable Stew

I couldn’t help but be inspired by all the photos I’m seeing of snow, sleds, snowboards and rosey noses. We’re heading up to the mountain on new years eve and I made ahead a vegetable stew that will hit the spot and warm our bones when we retreat inside. Have soup…will travel!

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This recipe was inspired by Ellie Krieger. A traditional Tuscan soup wouldn’t have broccoli in it, but since there’s a cold brewing in our house we needed added ammunition in conquering it. We’re fighting the good fight.

Tuscan Style Vegetable Stew

1 med-lrg onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 med zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 c fresh chopped broccoli (stems and crowns)
2 C fresh spinach leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (low sodium if possible)
4 C low sodium chicken broth

1 tbsp. fresh thyme OR 1 tsp. dried
2 tsp chopped fresh sage OR ½ tsp. dried
½ tsp salt plus more to taste
¼ tsp black pepper
½ C parmesan cheese (optional)
1 crusty french baguette (optional)

In a small bowl, mash half the beans with the back of a fork and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add all the vegetables except the spinach. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and sage. Cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the mashed beans, the remaining whole beans and cook another 10 minutes. The beans will thicken the soup a bit. Add the spinach leaves and cook about 3 minutes more, until the spinach is wilted.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese along side a piece of crusty bread. This would also be great with croutons.

Have a wonderful, safe new year!

Holiday Treats

Greetings lovely people!

Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

Vacation is finally here and I’m excited to catch you all up on what’s been happening in our kitchen these past few weeks. It has deliciously involved a lot of flour, sugar and butter — there are certain things that cannot be compromised in my mind — like frosted sugar cookies, right? These are one of the things that I LOVED when I was a kid and love to this day, except now I get to make them with my little gal.

I made (and continue to make) a lot of different things but here are a few highlights:

attachment_id=1835#main” rel=”attachment wp-att-1835″>Nancy's Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars Nancy’s Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Snowballs

Snowballs

Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

We also made French Chocolate Bark, courtesy of Ina Garten which is incredibly easy and gluten-free. For those that particularly need heart healthy treats (like my grandfather) we made heart-healthy banana bread. We also made dark chocolate cranberry cookies and Martha Stewart’s gluten-free hazelnut shortbread.

I committed to sending holiday cookie packages to family members around the country and have been a baking fool. I haven’t done that before in such volume and learned a few things along the way, like if you ship cookies frozen you can get away with sending them on 3-day freight. I think a lot of people know to do this but it didn’t occur to me. At least I’ve made a new friend at the fed ex office.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday celebration and a safe and healthy new year. Sending you all virtual hugs. Recipes below!

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Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

(Cookie Dough)
5 C all-purpose flour
1 C butter (2 sticks)
2 C sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tsp baking soda dissolved in tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness (or desired.) Bake 7-9 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Cori Grimes — thanks Cori!

(Buttercream Frosting)
4 C confectioners sugar
½ C unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
¼ C cream or milk
optional: ¼ c cocoa powder for chocolate buttercream

Using an electric mixer (preferably stand mixer) cream the butter. Add vanilla, milk and sugar. Mix for about 5 minutes until frosting has lightened up and filled out a bit.
Separate into small bowls and color with food coloring. There are natural gel versions available at Sur la Table and Whole Foods.

Nancy’s Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars
(Shortbread Base)
½ C softened butter (1 stick)
¼ C granulated sugar
1 C all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar, stir in flour until combined. Press dough on the bottom of a 9X9 (square) baking dish for about 15-20 minutes, or until very pale brown.

(topping and filling)
1/c can sweetened condensed milk
½ c butter (1 stick)
½ C brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Pour caramel over the baked shortbread base and allow to cool and set.

Put 4 oz of chocolate chips into a bowl. Put into the microwave for 30 seconds, remove and then stir. Repeat this until chocolate is smooth and melted. Pour over the caramel and allow to cool and set.
(This would also be good with dark chocolate and finished with sea salt!)

Thanks Nancy and Carrie!

Martha Stewart’s Snowballs
1 C Pecan Halves
1 C all-purpose flour
¼ C granulated sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 C confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse pecans, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add butter and pulse just until dough forms. Shape dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Pinch tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Place on parchment lines baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes and then place them on a wire rack to completely.
Roll cookies in confectioners sugar, tapping off excess. Cookies can be stored in air tight containers up to 1 week.