Fried Chickpeas

Ok, another super easy, incredibly tasty, and extremely healthful snack recipe for you!  I had to find something else to do with the many cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in my pantry (no one can eat THAT much hummus!), and I just discovered another really great cookbook by Mark Bittman — The Food Matters Cookbook.

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • seasonings

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then spread them on a towel on the counter and blot them dry.  If you don’t get them as dry as you can, they won’t turn out crispy.   So be gentle, but try to get them very dry.  Now, in an oven safe skillet, like a cast iron, combine the chickpeas and the olive oil, coating the chickpeas in the oil and then spreading them out in a single layer in the pan.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.

When you pull them out of the oven, you want to season them while they are still hot.  Some suggestions for seasonings — cumin, or curry powder, or plain old garlic salt.  These are very, very, tasty.  The toddler LOVED them.  🙂

Cereal Fruit Bars

Wow — a new post!  Sorry it’s been so long.  I hope the new recipes I’m going to be sharing are worth the wait.  These first few, at least, are super easy.

  • 1 to 1.5 cups dried fruit (any kind — raisins, cranberries, apricots, plums, whatever you like)
  • 2 Tbs honey (I used local honey for some added anti-allergy benefit)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • fruit juice or water as needed
  • 1 cup granola or other whole grain cereal

Ok, this is super easy.  Place the dried fruit, honey, and olive oil in your food processor.  Blend until you have a smooth mixture.  You may have to add a little fruit juice or water if you are using closer to 1.5 cups of fruit, but I used closer to 1 cup of fruit and didn’t have to add any.  If you need to stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor, do so.

Once the fruit mixture is nice and smooth, scrape it into a bowl and fold in the cup or so of cereal.  Mix until the cereal is evenly distributed, then spread into a small glass casserole dish — 8X8 would almost be too big.  Now refrigerate for at least an hour, then cut into squares and enjoy!  I like to wrap the squares individually in plastic wrap for a quick grab-and-go snack, or to keep in my purse as a treat for my son.

Smoky Potatoes

These potatoes are pretty simple, and have been a big hit with everyone who has tried them.  Don’t be scared of the pepper — rather than making the dish hot, it adds an interesting smoky flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2 pounds yellow or white potatoes (Yukon Golds, for example)
  • 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounce block of  mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 4 ounces olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and scrub your potatoes, then cut them into small dice.  Cut the cheeses into dice as well, then place cheese and potatoes into a large bowl.  Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Now spread the mix out into a 9×13 baking dish and pour in the 1/2 cup of milk or cream.

Here comes the one part that can be a pain.  Cut one end off of the Serrano and scrape out the core and all the seeds.  I used a baby spoon, but if you don’t have one, a butter knife will probably do the trick.  You want to keep the rest of the pepper intact, as it has to hold liquid during the baking process.  Once you have the pepper cleaned out (and make sure you get all the seeds — that’s where the heat lives!), snug it down in the middle of the potato dish, using the potatoes to keep it upright.  Now fill it with olive oil, about 3 Tablespoons.

Bake for about 1 hour, until the potatoes start to brown.  Once you pull it out of the oven, use a pair of tongs to gently grab the pepper and drizzle the oil from it as evenly as possible over the potatoes.  Now you’re ready to eat!

Handheld Spinach Dip


My husband has been so good for me in so many ways. For one thing, because of him, I’ve tried so many foods that I always thought were…well, gross. 😉 The ABCs, if you will — Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and Cooked spinach, to name a few of the recipes I’ve posted here that you wouldn’t have caught me eating 10 years ago. 😉 I’m still not up for oysters, but at least I was willing to try spinach dip, and thus was born this little treat.

Basically, mix up some spinach dip and then bake it in little frozen pie crusts. Oh, my goodness. It’s rich and decadent and tasty!

  • a 12oz bag of frozen spinach
  • an 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 6 to 8 ounces grated cheese (I use a hot cheese, like pepperjack or jalapeno)
  • a little bit of cumin
  • minced garlic
  • butter
  • frozen pastry shells like the ones seen above

Normally, I use fresh produce, rather than frozen. But for this, frozen works just as well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Next, if you bought the type of frozen pastry shells that I did, they need to thaw a bit before you bake them (mine said 20 minutes). So take them out of their packaging and separate them, then just leave them alone to thaw while you do everything else.

If your cream cheese has just come out of the fridge, you’ll want to microwave it for 30 seconds or so to get it nice and soft. Set it aside — we’ll need it soon.

Get out your spinach, open the bag, and dump the spinach into a colander. Run some hot water over it, then go chop your half onion up. Squeeze the water out of the spinach, then run some more hot water in it and let it sit. Melt some butter in a pan, then saute your onion and garlic in the butter. Sprinkle with some cumin, but be careful — it’s a powerful spice! Don’t cook this too long, as you don’t want your onions to be total mush by the time the whole dish is done. Just a couple of minutes ought to do it.

Grate your cheese. I really prefer a hot cheese with this, but if you don’t like hot, you could use plain jack or even mozzarella.

Keep running hot water over your spinach and then squeezing it out until most of the hard lumpy bits have gone. Then squeeze out most of the remaining water and dump the spinach into a bowl. Add the onion, the cheese, and the cream cheese. Mix very well.

By this point your shells are probably thawed. Poke a couple of holes in the bottom of each of them with a fork, then spoon the spinach dip into the shells. The box of shells I bought had eight in it. I only made six, but there was more than enough to make eight. I just didn’t think we could eat that many, so I greased a small casserole dish and scooped the rest of the dip into that, and baked it along side my little Handheld Spinach Dips. Bake for 30 minutes or so.

You’re going to want to let these cool a little before trying to take them out of their tiny pie tins, or the shells will break. I hope you did what I did with the extra dip, because I recommend using this waiting time to eat some of the spare dip on some pita chips or Italian bread.

I got the basics of the spinach dip recipe from my sister-in-law, another fantastic cook, and then kinda tweaked it to make it my own. Thanks, girl!

Modifications:

My sister-in-law’s original recipe called for a can of Rotel tomatoes. So, if you like spicy, use the hot cheese and add the tomatoes. I had just never had tomatoes in my spinach dip, so I skipped them this time, until I knew the recipe a little better.

And hey, if you’re worried about the calories or fat in this dish, you can always use Neufchatel cheese instead of the cream cheese. It has 1/3 less fat, and you can also use a low or nonfat mozzarella. (Personally, I say you’re probably not going to eat these every day, and a little decadence now and then is what makes life worth living!)

Super Easy Potatoes

I made this one night to go along with Vann’s awesome barbecued chicken (he invented a wonderful sauce, but it takes forever to make). This is so easy and very tasty.

  • 1 can of sliced new potatoes
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 5 mushrooms
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • kosher or sea salt
  • pepper
  • dill
  • garlic

Chop the onion and mushrooms. Drain the potatoes. Combine in a bowl.

In a jar or bottle (I used a glass baby bottle with a cap instead of a nipple), combine the oil and lemon juice with a dash each of salt and pepper. Put the lid on and shake very well.

Pour the lemon sauce over the vegetables and stir, then liberally sprinkle with dill and stir again. I recommend letting this marinate for 30 minutes or so, but you can go ahead and cook if you’re in a hurry.

Melt some butter in a pan over medium heat and toss in a spoonful of minced garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add your potato mixture. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the mushrooms are tender. Voila!

Squash Boats

So, WIC thinks we need to eat more beans, apparently. I’m not a big fan, but I didn’t need four more cans of chickpeas, so we got a couple different kinds and I was determined that I would find something tasty to do with them. This is what I came up with for the pinto beans (I also needed to use up my last squash!).

  • 1 large yellow squash
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (if you don’t like spicy, just sub regular diced tomatoes)
  • olive oil
  • garlic

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

First, slice the squash in half down the center (so that they’re still round). Then slice them down the middle and scoop out the meaty part, leaving the rind intact. Drain the olives and tomatoes, and drain and rinse the beans. Dice the onion. In a bowl, combine the squash meat with the other veggies.

Once you have everything in the bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add some minced garlic, and mix well. Now brush some olive oil on the inside of the squash rinds, or boats. Scoop the veggie mix into the boats and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on how well done you like your squash.

As long as your squash is not shaped oddly, you should be able to get 4 boats out of one squash. You will have lots of veggie mix left over, so you could either use more squash to make more boats, or do what I did — I used the extra to cover some chicken legs and wings and baked them for about 45 minutes. I won’t lie, though; the chicken was juicy and good, but not the high point of this dinner — the veggie mix was!

The next time I make this, I am going to add some herbs and other stuff to the olive oil. Maybe cilantro, maybe dill, probably some lemon juice…I haven’t decided yet. And definitely a little bit of corn.

Mmmmm! Zucchini

When I posted the chicken dinner with asparagus and garlic bread, some told me that they didn’t do asparagus. I can understand that, so here is an alternative veggie for that dinner.

  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • garlic powder
  • bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350 and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Place 2 Tbsp butter in a little bowl and sprinkle garlic powder on it. Melt in the microwave, a little at a time, swishing to make sure the garlic is well mixed in. In between swishings, slice zucchini into wedges. You should end up with 8 approximately 2-inch wedges per zucchini. Once the butter is well melted, pour it into a Ziploc baggie and add the zucchini wedges. Shake well.

Using a fork or tongs, move the zucchini from the bag to the dish. Sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on how well done you like your ‘zukes.’ These have a nice buttery flavor that my toddler quite enjoyed. 🙂

Thanks, Mom, for helping remember how to do this. 🙂

Chicken, Asparagus, and Garlic Bread

This one is pretty easy and quick.

You will need:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Lemon juice
  • Seasonings
  • Butter
  • Cheese (preferably something like Monterrey Jack)
  • Asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Cheese (preferably something like grated Parmesan or finely grated Italian cheese)
  • Italian bread
  • Garlic spread

Marinate your chicken breasts in lemon juice and seasonings — I used garlic and herb seasonings — Mrs. Dash — for however long you want. I think I let mine marinate for about 2 hours, but I had to go take a nap with Elliott. 😉

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a pan and brown your chicken breasts at high heat for just a couple minutes. Then turn the heat way down and cover them and let them steam/simmer while you do everything else. All told, they should probably cook for at least 15-20 minutes this way, but cut into the thickest part of one of them to make sure it’s not still pink before you serve.

Heat the oven to Broil.

While your chicken breasts are steam/simmering, get out your asparagus. This is really easy. Simply snap the asparagus where it wants to snap, and you won’t end up with those tough stringy ends. Then put all your asparagus in a Ziploc bag and put in some olive oil. Shake to coat all the stalks with oil. Then arrange them on a rack on top of a roasting pan.

Before cooking the asparagus, I prepare my bread. Just slice off the amount of bread you want, and then cut it lengthwise. Spread your butter/garlic spread on it (I cheat and buy the one from Wal-mart or Kroger). Because I only have one set of racks, and I’m using those for the asparagus, I just put the bread on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Put the asparagus and the bread under the broiler for just a couple of minutes — it really does not take long, and you don’t want to overdo it, because overdone asparagus is a bit gross, and you don’t want charcoal bread. For me, tonight, I checked the bread after 4 minutes or so, and it was perfect, so I pulled it out and then checked the asparagus. It was done too — but I like my veggies pretty crisp.  If you like yours softer, of course you’ll want to leave the asparagus in a little longer — but not too long!

When you put the asparagus and bread in, cover the chicken breasts with their cheese and put the lid back on.

When you pull the asparagus out, spray it with lemon juice and sprinkle it with cheese while it’s still warm. Serve right away, because cold asparagus just isn’t as good.

Easy easy dinner, and very tasty. Even our son has loved this asparagus since he was only a year old!

Thanks go to my mom for the asparagus recipe, and for teaching me that garlic bread does not live in the freezer!

Foil Packet Potatoes

Foil Packet Potatoes

(sausage cooked separately)

This is an easy, delicious new recipe I found in a Sam’s Club cookbook (we only changed it a little…).  I don’t usually post grill recipes, since I don’t grill (that’s one of my husband’s specialties), but you could probably do this in the oven, too.

 

 

 

 

 

You will need:

  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 can chopped green chilies (or some chopped jalapenos, if you prefer)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (Mexican blend, or Colby Jack, or Cheddar, or…whatever kind you like best!)
  • chunky salsa
  • sour cream
  • chopped cilantro

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Tear yourself a good-sized sheet of aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.  Put the onion in the center of the foil and then top with the potatoes.  Sprinkle potatoes with seasoned salt, chili powder, garlic and cumin, then top with the chilies (or jalapenos).  Sprinkle everything liberally with Worcestershire sauce.

Fold up the sides and double fold the top and ends of the packet to seal it, being sure to leave some room so the heat can circulate inside.  Put the packet on the grill and close the lid.  Grill for 30 minutes or so, until potatoes are tender.  Open up the packet and sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes.  Once the cheese is melted, serve. topped with the salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.

This goes really well with grilled Italian sausages, as you can see in the picture above.  It was really easy, and a definite keeper, since we pretty much always have the ingredients already.

Flatiron Steak With Potatoes

So this is a pretty easy, affordable steak dish, with spinach cream sauce and accompanied by butter-fried red potatoes. Yum!

  • 1 pound flatiron steak (if your shopping choices are Kroger or Walmart, in this case I would go with Kroger — their flatirons are much better quality, with less gristle and fat)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cumin
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 7 or 8 red potatoes
  • Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour (I use whole wheat, but you can use white if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 handful chopped fresh chopped spinach

Marinate your steak in the Worcestershire, cumin, cilantro, and garlic salt. Go easy on the cumin and cilantro — it doesn’t take much to get the point across. As always, the longer you can marinate, the better, but even a half hour will be fine.

Wash and quarter your red potatoes, then halve the quarters. Melt the 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat, then add the potatoes and mix them well in the butter. Sprinkle on the Mrs. Dash and stir again really well, then turn down to just below medium heat, cover, and cook for around 20-25 minutes.

This gives you plenty of time to do everything else you need to do! Chop your spinach, measure out your milk and cream (I just measured them into the same Pyrex measuring cup for ease), and set up your frying pan and sauce pan.

Your steak and sauce will take less than 10 minutes. I start them at the same time.

Place steak in pan and turn it on to just above medium heat.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in sauce pan. Add 2 Tbsp flour and whisk until it’s smooth and bubbly. Pour in the milk and cream, and as you’re whisking that into the flour/butter mixture, sprinkle in the chopped spinach. Whisk until everything is good and mixed.

Flip your steaks.

Bring your sauce to a boil for about 1 minute, whisking constantly, then simmer and whisk until your steaks are done. I like mine rare or medium rare, so it doesn’t usually take long.

Now, if you bought your steak at Kroger, you likely just cooked ONE piece of meat that will feed both of you. What I usually do when I have a Kroger steak is cut it into thin strips after I’ve cooked it, and then cover them with the sauce.

However, if you bought the steak at Walmart, it’s probably 4 smaller pieces. Just arrange them on your plate and cover with cream sauce.

I found that the potatoes and the sauce went well together — the potatoes made a good “mopping up” food, since I didn’t serve any bread with this. I figured that the potatoes were enough starch.

Economics and substitutions:

You can usually get enough flatiron steak to feed two people for $5 or under — I got mine for tonight on manager’s special and it was less than $4. If you don’t feel like spending extra money on the cream for the sauce, then use 1 cup milk instead of half milk and half cream, and simmer a little longer. If you don’t have cumin and cilantro for the marinade, then just use Worcestershire and salt, or, if you don’t have Worcestershire either, just salt. I’ve done it all 3 ways, and they’re all good.