Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ina Garten's Ultimate Grilled Cheese

The title doesn't lie- this was the ultimate grilled cheese! We tested out a traditional recipe, Tyler Florence's Dijon-Apple grilled cheese, but we both agreed that Ina's was our favorite.

Her grilled cheese starts out with a Parmesan mayo mixture and topped with Cheddar and Swiss and a few slices of bacon. The flavor combination was amazing! So amazing, we made this 2 weekends in a row. I would definitely recommend using center cut bacon, sourdough bread (we used Brownberry sourdough bread, which is the perfect thickness), and ultra-thin sliced cheese (Sargento brand). Nothing is worse than your bread browning quicker than your cheese is able to melt.

We served these grilled cheese sandwiches with this creamy tomato soup. Perfect on a cold wintery day.

  • 1 package (12-15 oz) center cut bacon
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise (we use Hellmann's; not light!)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (we used the grated kind)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf of sourdough bread, sliced 1/2" thick (12 slices) (Brownberry sourdough was perfect)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 oz ultra-thin sliced swiss cheese (we used Sargento's Ultra-Thin)
  • 8-oz extra sharp sliced Cheddar cheese (we used Sargento's Ultra-Thin)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the bacon on a baking rack set over a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 14-16 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and cut in 1-inch pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. 
  3. Lay 12 slices of bread on a board and spread each one lightly with butter. Flip the slices and spread each one generously with the mayonnaise mixture. Don't neglect the corners!
  4. On 6 slices of bread, add 1 slice of Cheddar and 1 slice of Swiss on each slice.
  5. Top the slices with 2-3 slices of cooked bacon.
  6. Top the bacon with another 1 slice of Cheddar and 1 slice of Swiss.
  7. Top that with the remaining bread slices, sauce side down.
  8. Meanwhile, heat a griddle or a large saute pan. When it is hot, cook the sandwiches for 3 to 5 minutes in batches until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Allow to cool for 2 minutes. Cut in half and serve warm.

Source: Ina Garten

Creamy tomato soup

We made our newly favorite grilled cheese sandwiches, and tried out this tomato soup recipe. We have always picked up Trader Joe's roasted red pepper & tomato soup, but this creamy version was easy and tasted amazing! It is slightly thicker (which we like), and flavorful. Definitely a notch above your traditional soup (in a can).


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 10.75-oz can condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 3/4 cup milk (we used skim)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 8-oz package cream cheese, cubed (we used 1/3 fat)


  1. In a large saucepan on medium low heat, saute onion in butter until tender (10-15 minutes). 
  2. Stir in tomatoes, soup, milk, sugar, basil, paprika and garlic powder.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  4. Stir in cream cheese until melted.
  5. If you want a smoother texture, use an immersion blender.
  6. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings (1 quart).

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This banana bread is one of my favorites to make (you don't even need to thaw butter to room temps), but I wanted to try a whole wheat version. With the combination of whole wheat pastry flour, ripe bananas, and yogurt, this bread was light but not cake-like, moist, and delicious. Even better when you toss in some chocolate chunks.
Side note- We used almond butter, and I barely tasted any peanut butter flavor.


  • 4 medium ripe bananas, well mashed
  • ⅓ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 Tbsp ground flax seed (flax meal)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 11.5-oz bag chocolate chunks


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, with a hand mixer), combine the mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, peanut butter and canola oil. Mix on medium speed until combined.
  3. Add the granulated and brown sugars, and mix again until combined.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.
  5. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, ground flax seed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Beat until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Tap the pan sharply two times on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. 
  9. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Serve.

Source: Adapted from Cookin' Canuck

Skinnytaste's Cheeseburger Casserole

I had had this recipe bookmarked for a few months, but for some reason, I just hesitated to make it. I don't know if it was the mixture of tomatoes + mustard, or the chopped pickles on top- but quite a few people had recommended it to me so I finally decided to just take the plunge. The taste was surprisingly good. I should have just trusted the Dean brothers because there hasn't been a recipe that I haven't loved from them.

This recipe combines the flavors of a cheeseburger and is transformed into a warm casserole. I didn't originally put the recommended amount of pickles because I just wasn't sure how the taste would turn out, but we both loved the addition and ended up putting in more than what the recipe called for!


  • 2 cups (6 oz) uncooked rotini pasta (we used penne paste)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (95% lean)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 cups reduced fat grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill pickles


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente and drain well.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. 
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. 
  5. Stir in the beef and cook until browned; season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the tomatoes and mustard. Let the mixture bubble gently until it is slightly thickened, about 2-5 minutes. 
  7. Toss the meat mixture with the pasta and spread it into the prepared dish. Top with the cheddar and bake until the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. 
  8. Sprinkle the chopped pickles over the top and serve. 

Makes about 9 cups.

Source: Adapted from Skinnytaste, originally from Bobby Dean

Paleo 5-Ingredient Spaghetti Pie

I had just cooked up a batch of spaghetti squash in the morning so make this for our dinner. I had about this on so many blogs (and rave reviews) and having it be only 5 ingredients, it was worth a try. Although it took an hour to bake, it was so easy to put together... and totally worth the wait.


  • 1 large spaghetti squash 
  • 1 pound italian sausage (we have used breakfast sausage roll and chicken sausage successfully)
  • ½ yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup pizza sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • (optional: add anything you like with pizza: veggies, basil, even cheese if you do primal)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until the skin of the squash gives when you press on it. (Or, try this whole roasting method- easy peasy.)
  3. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees, and grease an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Once squash is done cooking, remove threads and place it in a large bowl.
  5. Place a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, and saute until semi-soft. 
  6. Add the sausage, and cook until pink no longer remains in the sausage and it is broken up into pieces.
  7. Add pizza sauce, dried basil and salt and pepper to the pan and mix well.
  8. Add sausage mixture to the bowl, and mix well with spaghetti squash threads.
  9. Lastly, add whisked eggs to the bowl and mix everything together until you can no longer see the eggs.
  10. Dump the mixture into the 8x8 greased dish.
  11. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour or until the top of the mixture forms a slight crust that doesn't give when you press on it in the middle of the dish.
  12. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from PaleOMG

How to... Cook Spaghetti Squash (baking method)

I posted my microwave method here, and recently tried 2 other methods (using the oven).

In 1 recipe, the blogger really wanted to mimick the long spaghetti strands and she accomplished this by cutting the squash into "rings" (see pictures below).

After roasting the squash "rings", you can see how long the strands are since they go around the perimeter of the squash.

The only challenge I had with this method was cutting into the squash multiple times to make the "rings". I luckily had a butcher's knife but I was still somewhat scared since cutting into spaghetti squash is no easy feat. After I (somewhat) successfully cut it into rings, it roasted up terrific and I had the long-awaited long strands.

Cooking spaghetti squash ("ring" method)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Slice squash widthwise into 1" rings. Run a knife around the interior or the rings to remove the seeds. Place rings on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then peel the skin away and separate the strands into long "noodles".

Source: Adapted from Eat Within Your Means

The 2nd method is roasting the squash whole. Hallelujah! This was a no brainer. You essentially take the whole squash, prick is all over with a fork (still not an easy feat but much safer than trying to slice it with a knife), and then just stick it in the oven for an hour. Once cooked, allow it to rest for an hour to cool down, and then you can easily cut the cooled squash in half, remove the seeds, and voila!

To me, the easiest way is definitely the whole roasting. As long as you've got 1.5 hours, this was easy, was safe, and only needed to clean 1 thing (the fork!). Although the strands weren't as long as the above-mentioned recipe, it was plenty long enough for me.

Cooking spaghetti squash ("whole squash" method)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prick the whole squash all over with the tines of the fork.
  3. Place the squash into the oven, and bake for 1:15 hours.
  4. Remove from the oven, allow it to cool for 30 minutes (or until warm enough to handle).
  5. Slice it horizontally, remove the seeds, and separate strands with a fork.

Source: Adapted from Craftsy

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I love easy cake recipes, and this one is it. We've made this several times now, but I kept forgetting to blog about it. You essentially dump all the ingredients into a large bowl, give it a good beating via a mixer, and dump it into your bundt pan. Then voila! Delicious cake with minimal effort. Every single time. We love to pair a warm slice with some vanilla ice cream.


  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 3.4-oz box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 3.4-oz box of instant chocolate pudding
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1-1/4 cups of water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 10 inch bundt pan
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, puddings, oil, water and eggs. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed if you're using a high-powered mixer (like a KitchenAid mixer). (If you're using a handheld mixer, beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.) Batter will be somewhat thick!
  4. Add in chocolate chips and stir by hand.  
  5. Pour into prepared bundt pan. 
  6. Bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Let cake rest on counter in pan 10 minutes.  Then, invert cake onto serving plate to finish cooling.  
  8. Top with powdered sugar.
Source: Adapted from Mix and Match Mama

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Banana Bread

I recently stumbled upon this blog and I bookmarked a ton of her recipes. Knowing I had a few ripe bananas that would be perfect for making banana bread shortly, I used this recipe because a) it was simple and b) I could melt my butter. This was perfect for whipping up a quick and tasty banana bread since I didn't have wait for the butter to come to room temperature.

Usually, I have to alter banana bread recipes since the insides always seem to be undercooked- well, not with this one. I (reluctantly) followed her baking guidelines and it turned out perfect! In fact, I probably could have cooked it for 45 minutes (vs the 50 minutes that I did), and it would have come out fine. Adding this to a great basic banana bread recipe!

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas, from 2-3 large bananas
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour (or use this) a 9x5-inch metal loaf pan with cooking spray. (I didn't flour and the bread bottom kind of stuck to the pan- definitely flour!)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the melted butter and sugar until blended. 
  4. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. On low speed, stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not over mix
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 - 50 minutes. 
  7. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Once Upon A Chef

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Noodle Bake

This was a nice welcome to a long cold week, You essentially brown the ground beef and have it simmer in a tomato sauce. While it simmers, you cook the noodles and add in sour cream and green onions. Then you assemble it by layering it with sour cream noodles, beef sauce, and grated cheese, and bake for 20 minutes. Easy and quick enough to put together on a week night.

It would have been easy to "sneak" in vegetables- if you do, I'd add this while you're browning the beef.

  • 1-1/4 lb ground chuck
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz egg noodles (we used 100% whole wheat egg noodles)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (less to taste) (we used 1 bunch of green onions, sliced)
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • Crusty French bread, for serving (we omitted)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Brown the ground chuck in a large skillet. 
  3. Drain the fat, and then add the tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, and then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Cook the egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 
  6. Add to the noodles and stir. 
  7. Add the green onions and stir.
  8. To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, and then sprinkle on half the grated Cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat and then a final layer of cheese. 
  9. Bake until all the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
  10. Serve with crusty French bread.

Source: Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Slow Cooker Italian Pot Roast with Parmesan Risotto

This recipe is similar to my favorite pot roast (which also includes crushed tomatoes with a hint of thyme and rosemary), so I decided to give this one a go... definitely helped that I had all the ingredients on hand. This one couldn't have been easier- I put everything in my lined crockpot and let it do its job. 9 hours later, the pot roast was warm and smelled crazy good. Darin and I both said this was a keeper.

Note- We made the parmesan risotto, but we both agreed we liked this dish more with a baked potato. However, for a fancier dish, the risotto is the way to go.

For the Italian Pot Roast
  • 2-3# pot roast (trimmed of visible fat)
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato juice (I used (2) 5.5 fl oz cans)
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes
  • 1-1/4 oz package Au Jus mix
  • 1-oz package Italian salad dressing mix (I used the Zesty Italian Salad Dressing mix)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  1. Add a slow cooker liner to your crockpot. (I always ALWAYS use a liner- makes clean up a breeze!)
  2. Place the roast into your slow cooker.
  3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, add the remaining ingredients and mix well; then pour the liquid over the pot roast, set the temperature to LOW, and cook for 8-12 hours. (I cooked mine for 9 hours.)

Parmesan Risotto
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and rice. Evenly coat the rice with the oil.
  2. Add the chicken broth, and mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil, then lower the heat and let it maintain a slow boil ("3" setting on my stovetop) until all the broth is absorbed (it took 17 minutes for me). Make sure to occasionally stir so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
  3. Once all the water has been absorbed, add the onion powder and black pepper.

Source: Adapted from Plain Chicken, originally from

Coach's Stack

I had just made Shay's Meatloaf the night before, and I used the leftover meatloaf to create another dish from her blog... the base is a garlicky Texas Toast topped with a slice of meatloaf, which is topped with homemade mashed potatoes.

I had already made the meatloaf the night before, and had leftover baked potatoes (which I quickly mashed with some butter and heavy cream). I love dishes that are versatile, and this was easy and tasty.

  • 1 lb ground beef (used 85% lean, but may use 90% lean next time)
  • 1 cup Saltine cracker crumbs (that's about 12 crackers) (used whole wheat Saltines)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, divided
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup (will cut down to 2/3 cup next time)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (will cut down to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Mashed potatoes (homemade or store bought)
  • Texas Toast (baked, this is our favorite)
  • French's fried onions (garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix ground beef, cracker crumbs, eggs, onion, salt, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce,  and tomato sauce in a bowl.  
  3. Put in  a greased 9x9 inch baking dish, bake 60 minutes. (Toss in foil-wrapped baked potatoes simultaneously.)
  4. Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and mustard in a bowl.  
  5. Once 40 minutes is up, top casserole with sauce and return to oven for 15 minutes.
  6. To assemble the "stack", place a piece of baked Texas Toast on your plate. Top it with a slice of meatloaf, and then some mashed potatoes on top. Garnish with fried onions.

Source: Mix and Match Mama

Ina Garten's Seafood Gratin

Since coming back from Key West, we decided that for Valentine's Day this year, we would cook a nice meal and relax. It was such a nice treat! We had inclement weather, so staying warm and cozy was the perfect way to enjoy our special day together.

I had made this years ago but didn't blog about it, and Darin has been making (large) hints how he wanted to make it. We picked up all the ingredients from Kroger, and ended up picking up (2) lobster tails from Costco. Since the recipe called for cooked lobster, Darin looked up his #1 resource (youtube for the win), and the lobster was cooked perfectly.

All in all, the ingredients list is long but it didn't take long to make it, and the results were fantastic! Definitely more expensive than our average weekend meal, so it's a great recipe for a special occasion. Since it was just for the 2 of us, we were able to eat for 3 meals total!

  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp white wine, divided
  • 3 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 1# raw shrimp (26-30 per lb), peeled and deveined
  • 8-10 oz raw tilapia, cut into 1" chunks
  • 10-16 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into 1" chunks
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups thinly-sliced leeks, white and green parts
  • 1 cup peeled, shredded carrots (roughly 3 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  1. Combine claim juice, cream, white wine and tomato puree in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer on medium, and add the shrimp. Let cook 1-2 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side until pink and opaque (it took an additional 2 minutes for us). Remove to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the pieces of cod to the stock mixture until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove to the same plate with the shrimp using a slotted spoon.   (Once the shrimp have cooled enough to handle, cut in half if desired and return to the bowl.)  
  3. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl. Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.  (Make sure the sauce has thickened or else you'll have running gratin sauce.)
  4. Combine 1 Tbsp of the butter in a small bowl with the flour and mash together with a fork.
  5. Whisk the butter-flour mixture with the salt and pepper into the sauce and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5-8 minutes.  Set aside. 
  6. In a medium sauté pan, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat.  Add the leeks and carrots and cook for about 15 minutes, until softened.  
  7. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp of wine and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes more. Add the cream sauce and cooked vegetables to the bowl with the seafood and toss to blend well.  
  8. Divide the mixture between individual gratin dishes.  If not baking right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you are ready to bake the gratins, preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Place the filled gratin dishes on a baking sheet.  
  9. Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter in a small bowl.  Add the Panko, parmesan, parsley and garlic to the bowl and toss with a fork to combine.  
  10. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared gratins.  Bake 20 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbling.  Serve hot.

Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shay's Meatloaf

I still hold big love for my favorite meatloaf, but I don't always have the time to make it- especially on weeknights. I had been eyeing this meatloaf recipe for awhile and whipped up the meatloaf before work so I could pop it into oven when I got home.

It was easy to prep, and unlike my other meatloaf recipe, you bake this in a 9x9 baking dish. Thus, when the meatloaf is cooked, you cut it up... kind of like a casserole. The meatloaf mix is very moist/wet, and it was very tasty! I love a nice ketchup concoction on top of my meatloaf, but felt it was too sweet. I'm putting the original recipe below, but have added my edits in italics next to the ingredient. All in all, it was easy, tasty, and a nice comforting meal to a long week. While the meatloaf baked, I wrapped individual potatoes in foil and tossed it into the oven for some baked potatoes to accompany this dish,

  • 1 lb ground beef (used 85% lean, but may use 90% lean next time)
  • 1 cup Saltine cracker crumbs (that's about 12 crackers) (used whole wheat Saltines)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, divided
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup (will cut down to 2/3 cup next time)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (will cut down to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Baked potatoes (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix ground beef, cracker crumbs, eggs, onion, salt, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce,  and tomato sauce in a bowl.  
  3. Put in  a greased 9x9 inch baking dish, bake 60 minutes. (Toss in foil-wrapped baked potatoes simultaneously.)
  4. Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and mustard in a bowl.  
  5. Once 40 minutes is up, top casserole with sauce and return to oven for 15 minutes.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Almond meal pancakes (low carb, dairy free, wheat-free)

We love pancakes but not all the carbs (and bloat) that go along with it. We made these pancakes last weekend, and we've been making them in double batches since!

A double batch yields 20 pancakes, and Darin and I quickly reheat these in the microwave for 1-1.5 minutes, top it off with some blueberries or sliced bananas, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Delicious and filling... and even quick enough for a pre-work breakfast. Since we each eat 2 pancakes daily, it's enough to have for the 5 business days before work... perfect.

Ingredients (for a single batch)

  • 1-1/2 cups almond flour (for homemade almond flour, see here)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, light coconut milk, or milk (we use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted (we use butter)
  • Toppings- Blueberries, sliced banana, pure maple syrup

  1. Preheat saute pan or griddle on medium heat. Lightly grease with cooking spray.
  2. While the pan heats up, mix the dry ingredients (almond flour through baking powder) in a medium bowl. Loosen any clumps.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and oil/melted butter. Mix until eggs are incorporated well.
  4. Add the liquid into the dry mixture, and mix well.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour the batter into the saute pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until bubbles form and edges are cooked. Flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on until underside is lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter.
  6. Serve with desired toppings.
Yield: 10 pancakes

Source: Adapted from Wheat Belly Cookbook

How to... make almond flour/almond meal

Homemade almond meal (using whole almonds)

Almond meal is a great alternative (and lower carb) for flour for pancakes. You can buy almond meal/flour at your local grocery store ($$$), Trader Joe's ($$), or you can make it at home if you have a Vitamix (or similar high-powered blender).

Cost analysis of pre-made almond meal/flour
  1. Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour ($11 for 16-oz bag; $3.66/cup)- I can find these at my local grocery store in the "organic/natural" section. The texture is more like flour (less gritty/mealy), and thus you'll need more to fill 1 cup. Great for making light pastries, like macarons
  2. Trader Joe's almond meal ($5.99 for 16-oz; $2/cup)- More gritty texture and thus less meal is needed to fill 1 cup. Great for pancakes
End result- TJ's is half as much as Bob's Red Mill; good option if you don't have a high-powdered blender to make your own (which is cheaper) 

Cost analysis of homemade almond meal/flour
Disclaimer- Will need high-powered blender like a Vitamix
  1. TJ's raw blanched slivered almonds ($3.99 for 8-oz bag; $2/cup almond meal)
  2. Costco whole almonds ($15.99 for 3# bag- made 14 cups almond meal; $1.14/cup almond meal)
End result: Whole almonds cost half as much as using TJ's slivered almonds. If you're going to take the (very little) time to make homemade almond meal, just buy whole almonds instead

so.. how do you make homemade almond meal/flour?

  • 1 cup whole or slivered almonds
  • High-powered blender (like Vitamix or Blendtec)

  1. Measure 1 cup of almonds.
  2. Add to your blender, and blend on high (speed 10) for 20-30 seconds.

  • Do not use more than 1 cup of almonds- this helps to keep an even texture
  • Do not blend more than 20-30 sec on high- too much time will turn this into almond butter
  • Use this recipe to make these delicious and easy almond meal pancakes (which are dairy free, wheat free, and low carb)

Source: Detoxinista
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