laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Simply Delicious


Now if you’re anything like my husband, you may be a little bit afraid of things (foods) you haven’t tried. Especially if you’re a visual person. I completely understand how the way something looks can totally throw you off, but how many times have you judged a person, a store, or a book by the way they looked only to find yourself completely surprised? This is especially applicable to vegetables.

Anyways, so I have been stocking up on veggies (the ones that are hard -or non existent- to come by during the winter) and cubing, pureeing, and freezing them! Last week I got a bunch of different squashes, along with some brussel sprouts (they are so good for you!). Now I love squash and hubby merely accepts them as good for him, but I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that my family loved and ate!!! I should really word it to say that I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that HUBBYMAN will not just eat because it’s good for him, but because he likes the way it tastes! (my kids already love vegetables, their favorites being spinach and broccoli.)

Now for the meal! It wasn’t totally meatless this time (I was trying to warm my hubby up to the idea of brussel sprouts, which he adamantly claim to dislike), but it had little meat, and we’ve since had it without. I took one spaghetti squash and about a l-2 lbs of brussel sprouts and made a delicious dinner!!

That’s right.. the way I convinced my family they loved brussel sprouts after all, is by using bacon! Want to convince your family (and maybe yourself too) to eat brussel sprouts? Try it this way!

What you’ll need:

Brussel Sprouts

3 strips of bacon

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the brussel sprouts in half and throw in a pan (the recipes all call to throw them in a bowl for this step, but really it’s not necessary and just adds extra dishes). Drizzle with olive oil (over all of it!!), sprinkle on the salt (more than you think is necessary, like it’s popcorn of french fries!) and some pepper. I added some Lowry’s seasoning salt, because I know that’s a flavor my hubby likes. Stir in up, toss it, coat it! Make sure they’re all well-coated in the olive oil. Then make sure the halves are all faced down. I only used 3 pieces of bacon because eventually I’d like this to be eaten without! But you can use more or less (it’s good even without!). Anyhow, I just cut the bacon into  small pieces and layered in randomly through the sprouts.

Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Stir/shake every five minutes after until they’re nice and crispy, browning but burnt! Mine took about 30-35 minutes total They’ll be a little crunchy, but trust me, this is a good thing!

I actually did this part before the sprouts… I took one large spaghetti squash and cooked it until soft. (you can do this a variety of ways from crock pot, to oven, to microwave. I used the oven- it takes about an hour, but all you have to do before hand it wash it, cut it open, scoop out the seeds and stick it in. So you can have it cooking well ahead of time.) While the brusell sprouts were a’cookin’ I threw some olive oil in a skillet, threw in some peas (my kids -and I- love peas), some chopped spinach, a little bit of chopped garlic cloves, and just a little onion and sauteed. Next I added the spaghetti squash.

All you have to do is take a fork to the squash and it comes out all stringy and spaghetti noodley like (hence the name). I only used one half- the other half I scooped out and froze for a quick, easy, gluten free spaghetti night!!) I sauteed, then threw in my homemade spaghetti sauce! Hubbyman likes spaghetti to have a good amount of sauce so I used a whole jar! I added a small amount of pepper, seasoning salt, and basil. Stirred it all up, and voila! It was delicious! And best of all, you could really throw in whatever veggie you like best!

I also made a super yummy fruit salad! Yum! This was a delicious, healthy meal that my whole family loved!! And those brussel sprouts? Hubby and kids ate them like candy! MissE declared them, Really nummy!

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Lasagna Cupcakes!


I almost posted a recipe for my quiche, but it’s not exactly perfect. And I’d really rather not share it with you until I can come up with the exact way I’d like to share it with my family. If it’s not how I want it to be for my family, why would I let you test out a version that’s less than? Don’t get me wrong, it is sooo yummy. But I just need to have better ratios for the crust to eggs. I am excited to figure it out and share it with you! It met rave reviews from hubbyman and my daughter- so it will be coming to you soon! In the meantime, since I combined my Wednesday and Thursday dinner plans (spinach and mushroom quiche and pumpkin waffles) into one meal, tonight when I was thinking about what to have for dinner, I felt at a loss. I’ve been craving lasagna and so I decided to try something new. Now to make gluten free noodles, I have 2 recipes. One is in a recipe book and the other is one on a post it note, attached to the recipe books version. I lost my post it note! I have no idea if I found it somewhere online or if I made it up! I was so disappointed, and I didn’t have 2 of the necessary 4 flours (that’s right, four!) to make the noodles from scratch. So I decided on lasagna cupcakes. I’d made a new pizza crust a week or two ago, and I decided to try that as the noodles. So it’s not quite a noodle, and that did throw my husband off a little, but it was still good. And he if I’d of thrown in the elbow noodles I’d made for the kids (I was not sure how it would turn out, so for the first time in my cooking career, I made a back up meal) that it would have been perfect. When making these in the past, I cook lasagna noodles (for those of you lucky wheat eaters, you can use your normal lasagna noodles, for those of you who cannot, can make them -that’s right make them- from the noodle recipe I posted in this post here. Hey wait a minute! There’s my long lost pasta recipe! Whew!)

It’s really very, very simple. I like to use my large muffin pan for this. I spray it and then put in cooked noodles in an x pattern (start with 2 and you can add a 3rd if 2 doesn’t cover the base). Then I add the layers- Parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, and sauce (with or without browned hamburger meat). I only use a couple tbs per layer. Just enough to cover. Top with the parm and mozz. Then fold the noodles that are hanging out over the top (so it’s basically enclosed). Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until cheese is brown and sauce is bubbling. If you want to make it just the way I did, you can either throw in some noodles or not, and make the crust I made from this cookbook.)

How I made my crust:

1 1/2 cups almond flour, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 egg, 1 tbs grape seed extract

Mix egg and grape seed extract and add to dry ingredients. I sprayed my tins with olive oil (I’m not sure it’s necessary, but I figured it was better than finding out the crust was impossible to get out of the tin) and then press dough into each muffin mold. I didn’t make it very thick, but didn’t want it to be thin enough to see through either as I wanted it to hold its form. So about 1/4ish inch thick (I know, I’m so precise- sorry!).

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Spoon filling in. (you can do it in layers or mix it all together… either way would be delicious!)

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until cheese browns and sauce is bubbling.

It is delicious with noodles, and with the crust! It’s more like a lasagna pie with the crust, but it was still delicious! Unfortunately, I left my camera at my parents’ and so my only picture (I really am very sad about this, because it just looked so pretty every step of the way) is from my camera. Next time I will well document my steps!

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Macaroni Twist (Simply Impressive)


Ok, so I don’t have pictures to include with this post (yet!), but I will this evening! I have gotten out of the habit of my Impressively Simple Thursdays, and I am wanting to get back into the habit! So today I am just starting doing it! (It can’t be a habit if I don’t ever start, can it??) Because I’m hoping to get a ton done today (I’ve been hiding from the mountain of laundry screaming my name.), I want a meal that’s simple, and doesn’t require a lot of time or effort… which is why this wonderful, yummy casserolesque dish gets the pick! I got an email (click here to see original recipe) that I got the base from, and of course, adapated to make it my own.  It’s incredibly yummy and incredibly heavy (so not something I’d make on a weekly basis, but a wonderful comfort food!). Perfect twist on plain old macaroni if you ask me! And hubbyman loves any recipe that includes bacon!

Some things to know before hand: They used penne pasta, but my children loooove “phone noodles” (otherwise known as elbow) and so that’s what we’ll be using, but I of course recommend using whatever your favorite kind of noodle is (or even better, let your kids pick out what their favorite kind is- they’re waaay more likely to eat and enjoy it!). Also they said a serving size of 12 and since I’m only feeding 5…. 12 seems unnecessary. So this is for a family of five and you can reduce it still if necessary, or copy their ratio (or just double what I have listed here) and freeze the leftovers (or make it in two dishes- one for tonight and one for another night!). Anyways, here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

pasta (about 5 handfuls or whatever equals 5-6 servings)

bacon (I used 3 pieces of bacon)

1/2 cup crushed protons (gluten free croutons- you can use panko or whatever breadcrumbs you normally use, or even a little almond meal instead. whatever you have on hand!)

1/8 cup butter, melted

1 tsp parsley (fresh; use less if dried)

1 1/2 tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 small onion, finally chopped

1 tbs flour (I used coconut flour with an extra pinch or two of almond flour, but you can use all-purpose or whatever your favorite flour/thickener is)

1 cup heavy cream (the recepiet called for 4 CUPS of heavy cream… yikes! I happened to have a small amount left, so I used it up because otherwise it would go to waste, but I’d really just use milk otherwise. That’s alotta cream! And between the bacon and the cheese, heavy cream just seems above and beyond!)

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp thyme (fresh, less if using dried)

1/2 cup cheese (calls for monterray jack but I had pepperjack and mozzarella… so I did half and half)

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Now, go ahead and cook your noodles (boil slightly salted water, add noodles, bring to a boil again. Now you don’t want these all the way mushy, you want them still slightly firm to the bite. So if you think they’re not quite done enough to eat, they’re done.) and drain well.

Cook bacon until evenly browned, reserving (saving) the drippings in a small bowl. Drain bacon on towel-lined plate, and then crumble bacon into a bowl, mix in the breadcrumbs (or in my case the crushed GF protons/croutons), butter, and parsley.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium, adding in onions and garlic. Cook and stir until they’ve softened; 3-5 minutes. Stir in bacon drippings and flour. Cook and stir for one minute and then whisk in the cream/milk and thyme. Continue cooking and stirring until reduced by about 1/3. Then add the cheeses, stirring until melted. (I find it clumps less if you add it in slowly rather than all at once.) Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta. Transfer mixture into an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb/bacon mixture and bake until crumbs have browned and sauce is bubbly. About 15-20 minutes.

Seem like a lot to do? Here’s how I simplified it. Instead of doing it one at a time, I did it all at once. I promise it’s not as complicated as that may sound.  Get water going for noodles. While water is boiling, cook your bacon in a skillet (or something similar that you can then use for cooking the onions and garlic = less dishes). Yes, your noodles will probably be done before the full cheese mixture is done, but it will save you time in the long run. This way too if your noodles are not as firm as you need/want them, you have time to run some cold water over them or throw some ice cubes in with them and let them firm up before baking. As far as reheating, it’s not quite the same when microwaving (especially if you used all that heavy cream)… but you can reheat it in a skillet with a little extra milk/butter) for just a minute or two and voila it’s yummy!

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Impressively Simple Leftovers


Last weekend was craazy, followed by what’s been a fairly crazy week. Tuesday our power went out! And it didn’t get fixed until around 3:30pm yesterday! While it was a major annoyance, it wasn’t life stopping that’s for sure. Big E found his “miner’s light” (one of those flashlights that goes around your head) and Miss E has a Princess lantern (I believe both are thanks to an Auntie- thank you!) and they had lots of fun with those. They even put on a shadow puppet show for Littlest E. So sweet. Plus, since it was dark they were convinced it was bedtime almost an hour before their normal bedtime… that was awesome! And it afforded us to do some things that I otherwise would have declared myself too “busy” to do. Like walking to a lovely little cafe we like and sitting in their garden area while enjoying Yogurt Parfaits (which Big E deemed “better than candy,” and Miss E followed it with, “Or treats!” thanks in part to the shaved chocolate on top!). The older couple sitting a table away had a good chuckle over their statements. Followed up with playtime at their favorite playground. Something it’s been either too hot or rainy to do very often this summer. I think they were actually a little disappointed when the power came back on. Not much, but maybe a little. Until they realized their toast could again be toasted.

So food… leftovers, of course! Because I threw out everything that was a)going bad or b) had already gone bad or c)would never get eaten and was not worth taking up precious cooler space. I try (this is a continuous process for me!) to make sure everything continues to get eaten, not just one time and the rest thrown away… and what better reminder than a mandatory fridge cleanout! I found pre-made (and frozen) noodles, already cooked chicken, and a small container of pre-mixed-GF all-purpose flour…. so I made chicken alfredo! Yummy! The noodles are incredibly easy to make, alfredo sauce is super simple to make (and so easy to personalize into whatever your taste buds are craving most! For me it’s usually salt, for hubbyman it’s usually pepper! Bring 1 cup milk, 2 tbs butter, 2 tbs flour, and any of your favorite seasoning- I used garlic, lowry’s, pepper, sea salt, parsley, and oregano. to a boil for 2 minutes and voila- instant Mmmm.)… so that’s what we ate! What is your favorite, easy to throw together, “leftover” meal? Mine is probably salads, because I just love salads and you can throw almost any kind of (leftover) meat on top and make it especially “special.”

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