Thursday, April 04, 2019

Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Quick and easy...and one muffin is just one 1 SmartPoint!

Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Modified from Genius Kitchen

1 box spice cake mix (I used Betty Crocker's and it was 15.25 oz...they said 18 oz for took me two stores to find this one so I'm good with it!)
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients in mixer.  I ended up hand stirring after it as it hard to get the mix mixed in...I might just hand mix next time.

Put into mini muffin pans (24 to a pan).

Cook for 20 minutes at 350.

Makes 72 mini muffins. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Sunshine Salad

This is a simple little recipe that works really well.  I think it will even work if you switch out the fruits, which I might try in the future as my mother doesn't like pineapple (I do). 

Sunshine Salad
Modified from Genius Kitchen

1 can (15 oz) mandarin oranges
1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks
1 small pkg fat-free sugar-free instant vanilla pudding

Do not drain the fruit and you will use the pudding mix dry (the juice from the fruit will replace the milk).  Combine all ingredients and blend well.  Chill for at least an hour.  

Serves 6-10 (it says 6, I say more).

Parmesan and Prosciutto Muffins

These are a nice savory treat!  And only 2 WW points each.

Parmesan and Prosciutto Muffins
Modified from Weight Watchers

2/3 cups white flour
2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (I felt there was too much pepper in here)
2 egg whites
4 oz prosciutto
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray 2 mini muffin pans with cooking spray (I've done this in puff pans and it works that way as well).

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cheese, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper.  In a second bowl, whisk egg whites, prosciutto, ricotta, milk and melted butter until the mixture is smooth.  Pour wet into the dry and stir until there are no dry pockets left.  Spoon into muffin pans.

Bake until browned on top and it passes the toothpick test, about 12-14 minutes.  Cool in pans for a few minutes and then put on wire racks to finish cooling.  

Makes 24 mini muffins (or about 48 puffs).

Pesto Chicken Risotto

This is very yummy!  We really liked the other risotto I tried in the Quick Cooker, so I wanted to try a second one and this was also very good.

Pesto Chicken Risotto
Modified from 365 Days 

2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/3 cup pesto (we made a bunch of this in the summer and froze it in ice cube trays - I just defrosted a few of the cubes)
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cut in half
salt and pepper

My chicken was frozen, so I took a cup of the broth and first cooked the chicken.  I did it to the minimum as it would get cooked a 2nd time.  I then pulled the chicken and broth out and set aside for now.  

Turn to sauté and add butter.  Once it is melted, add in onions and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Now add in garlic and rice and stir for 1 minute.  Now add in 1 cup of broth (so I added back in the broth I'd pulled earlier) and stir for 2 more minutes.  Then add in rest of broth, pesto and chicken (as a note, it took me quite awhile to get my pesto to dissolve - a lot of stirring - but I think that was more because mine had been frozen and so was in the cubes).  

Cover pot and secure lid. Turn to poultry and set for 10 minutes.  When time is up, cancel and then let it sit for 10 more minutes.  Then manually release the rest of the steam.  Then open the pot and stir the rice.  

Serves 6.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Apple Cider Pork Chops

Ray really liked this recipe - he likes pork chops (which I don't make all that much) and a mustard-apple sauce is always good!   Everyone - including the kids - ate it and liked it.  The vegetables were delicious.

Quick Cooker Apple Cider Pork Chops
Modified from Sweet and Savory

6 medium potatoes (I probably didn't use quite this much as I had tiny ones, but I did use more although I don't think I quite doubled it]
2 cups carrots, cut into small chunks (1-2 inches)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
4 bone-in pork chops (they only used 3, I used 4)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water

Season pork chops with salt and pepper.  Turn on the Quick Cooker and set to saute/sear.  Once it heats up, add in oil and then add in pork chops to brown. I had to brown in batches.  You just want to get a good sear on each one, not cook it as that comes later. Hit cancel once all the pork chops have been seared.

Add in potato chunks and then broth.  Place the trivet in, covered in foil that you poke with holes.  Add in carrots then pork chops. 

Close the lid and set to beef/pork (or high).  I did 25 minutes.  Depending on if you have little chops, this could be as short as 15 minutes, but I had really thick ones and I had to 4 so I went long.   When time is up, hit cancel. I let it do the natural release for a few minutes (they said 10-15 minutes...I was about 5), then I used manual release to finish releasing the steam. 

Open the lid and remove the goodies.  You will want to drain off the broth (I used a slotted spoon to get the veggies and then just dumped the broth into another bowl).  Now they mashed the potatoes, using the broth and milk (or cream).  I didn't bother and just served them as is, which was delicious. 

In the now empty Quick Cooker, turn back on saute/sear.  Add in apple cider, brown sugar and mustard.  Cook until reduced by about half.  Then add in cornstarch and water slurry to thicken it up.

Serves 4.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Kid Recipes

We bought the kids a junior cookbook and they decided that they wanted to try some things out.  They both have already done some cooking, but we are trying to get them to cook more.  Obviously letting them choose the ingredients hopefully will make them try more new things - although honestly both are pretty good about trying whatever I tell them they have to.  I don't make anything too crazy so it isn't too hard on them.  Andrew actually has a much wider palate than Adam, but if Adam declares something "gross" then Andrew will often follow along, even if he actually might like it.  But again, both are pretty good about trying new things. 

Andrew's first choice
Egg Sandwiches
Modified from Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook

4 oz sausage, cut in half and sliced
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 roma tomato (optional - we didn't use it...if you do use it, put it in after sausage, but before the eggs)
4 English muffins

Cook sausage on medium high for about 4 minutes or until the sausage starts to brown, stirring constantly.  Now pour eggs into skillet and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to set on bottom and around the edges (I think Ray and Andrew might cooked these separately).  Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through.  [If your child hasn't made scrambled eggs before you'll need to show them how to work them.]  Sprinkle cheese on top and let melt for a minute.  Spoon mixture over muffin bottoms and then top with other half. 

Makes 4 servings. 

Adam's first choice
Pasta Salad
Modified from Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook

1/3 cup dried small pasta (they used wagon wheel, which I could NOT we used regular elbow)
1/ 3 cup carrots, diced (they used rinsed and drained black beans)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (they used halved cherry tomatoes...I made Adam pick something for each item, but I didn't require he use their choices)
1/4 cup frozen peas (they used corn....which I didn't have so we used peas...Adam actually wanted broccoli which I think would have been a good choice, but I didn't have any on hand..and that would have had to be fresh.)
1 tbsp ranch salad dressing
1/4 tsp chili powder

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain a colander and then rinse with cold water.  Put pasta and next three items (either what I used, what they used or whatever you pick, but I'd make your child pick three items to use) in medium bowl and stir.  Mix ranch and chili powder in a small bowl and then pour over pasta mixture and mix until pasta is coated. 

Cover and refrigerate for about 12 hours before eating. 

Quick Cooker "Basic" Times

I wanted to list my most common "basic" Quick Cooker (Instant Pot) times for easy access.   The settings listed go with my Quick Cooker, but as I understand it the Instant Pot has very similar ones. I know that when I use instant pot recipes, I've usually been able to convert directly.   So there are a ton more that come in the Quick Cooker cooking guide (and I'm sure the instant pot has a similar one), but these are what I use.

Grains and Rice
All listed below are for 1 cup of the item in question.  All should include 1 tbsp oil.  The amount of liquid necessary (water is the basic choice, but you can, of course, also use stock or other options like that) is listed in parentheses.
Whole Grains Setting:
Barley (2 1/4 cup liquid) - 25 minutes, natural steam release 10 minutes
Steel-cut oats (3 1/4 cup liquid) - 10 minutes, natural steam release 10 minutes
White Rice Setting:
Long grain, basmati and jasmine white rice (1 cup liquid) - 4 minutes, natural steam release 10 minutes
Brown Rice Setting:
Long grain, basmati and jasmine brown (1 cup liquid) - 15 minutes, natural steam release 10 minutes

These all need at least 1 cup of liquid. They do not have their own setting and should use manual steam release.
Carrots (1 lb) - cut into 2 inch pieces, 4 minutes
Potatoes (2 lbs) - cut into 1 inch pieces, 5 minutes
Sweet Potatoes (2 bs) - cut into 1 inch pieces, 4 minutes (this actually mashed on its own for me after I did you couldn't serve this as chunks)

A big selling point for me on the Quick Cooker was being able to cook frozen'll see my thoughts as I try to work with these....pretty much assume all comments go with frozen.
Always add at least 1 cup of liquid (water or broth usually) to the Quick Cooker first.  Always use manual steam release.
Beef/Pork Setting:
Ground beef (1-2 lbs) - 8-10 fresh or 12-14 frozen (I've yet to this to work at this time...much to my aggravation....)
Roast (3-4 lbs) - 50-60 fresh or 85-95 frozen (I had issues here was cooked, but it wasn't as tender as I wanted and had to do it I do think that I have to adjust due to the fact I'm using moose, so we'll see as I keep working on this)
Pork Tenderloin (2-3 lbs) - 16-18 minutes fresh or 30-35 minutes frozen
Boneless chicken breasts (2-4 lbs) - 6-10 minutes fresh, 8-12 minutes frozen (I would suggest to go with the maximum...I find I need it because I usually do have the full 4 lbs.)

Full list is here.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Philly Cheesesteak Gnocchi

I'm always looking for new burger recipes (and I use moose burger almost exclusively....every once in a while I will "treat" my husband to "real" hamburger...he didn't grow up on moose like I did and so he can taste the difference...I don't even notice as moose tastes like "regular" burger to me, not hamburger) to try.  This is great because it really changes up burger and you get the flavor of cheesesteak, but with burger. And I love gnocchi (I pretty much like everything potato based....although I don't like potato salad...I know, weird....). 

Philly Cheesesteak Gnocchi
Modified from Simple and Delicious

1 lb ground beef
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
1 pkg (16 oz) potato gnocchi

Cook beef with green pepper, onion and jalapeno over medium high heat until no longer pink.  Drain and remove from pan. 

In the same skilled, melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper.  Cook and stir 2-3 minutes.  Whisk in milk and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Stir in cheese to melt.  Add back in beef mixture.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain and add to sauce.

Serves 6.


I love muffins and one of my favorite recipes is this one for strawberry shortcake muffins. I especially like that it is low in sugar so I feel slightly better about them.  I use this same recipe to make blueberry muffins, but my father complained that they were too "dry.'  Well I accidentally doubled the sugar once...and he loved them!  So I make his that way now (I still use the regular amount for strawberry, it is just blueberry).  So if you needed proof on why sugar is a "wet" ingredient, there you go!

As a note, I did try these once with raspberries, but I didn't like how the seeds were in them.  The muffins were tasty, just felt that I was constantly picking seeds out of my teeth.  I can eat raspberries plain, but in the muffin, it just didn't work for me.

Rhubarb Bread

I get a ton of rhubarb and so I am always looking for more ways to use it!  I freeze chopped rhubarb in two cup increments so I can make this bread or these muffins.

Rhubarb Bread
Modified from Incredible Edibles 

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups rhubarb, diced small
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp butter, melted

Mix sugar, egg, salt and vanilla.  Combine flour and soda.  Add oil, buttermilk and then incorporate the flour/soda mixture.  Finally add in rhubarb (plus nuts if using).  Put into two greased loaf pans.  Mix topping and sprinkle on top.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Makes 2 loaves.

Peppered Ranch Dip

An easy fun appetizer if you need one!

Peppered Ranch Dip
Modified from Food Network Magazine

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tbsp chives, chopped
Pinch of salt

Whisk mayo and sour cream with sour cream and buttermilk, peppers and garlic powder.  Stir in parsley and chives and season with salt.

S'mores Cookies

I found this bag of pieces and had to try these. I really liked them and I think it would be easy enough to do without the bag of pieces, although it does make it nice and easy.

S'mores Cookies
Modified from Hershey's Bag

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg (7 oz) s'mores baking pieces [I found these on sale at my grocery store and then haven't been able to find them again, but I think you could easily make this - it's just milk chocolate chips, graham cracker pieces and mini want 1 3/4 cups of this mix]

Heat to 350.  Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended.  Add egg and vanilla; beat until thoroughly blended.  stir together flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually blend into butter mixture.  Mix in baking pieces (they said to keep some aside and put on top...I didn't bother).

Bake 8-10 minutes or until set.  Cool for 1 minute before removing to cookie sheet.

Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

So I started from frozen and this definitely took awhile and I didn't like that I had to reset it. Hopefully as I get better, I'll have a better sense of how long it will take to start with. I liked the end result, though.

BBQ Beef Sandwiches
Modified from Instant Pot Recipes

3/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp dark molasses
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 boneless beef roast (or moose), about 3 lbs, cut into a few pieces

Combine everything but onion and beef.  Mix well.  Spread onion in bottom of instant pot/quick cooker, place beef on top of onion and pour liquid on it that.  Secure lid and set to beef/pork.  Cook for 50 minutes (this took me longer, but mine was frozen).  When cooking is complete, use natural release for 10 minutes, then release rest of pressure.  Remove beef and then press saute.  Cook liquid until reduced by half.

Shred beef into bit size pieces.  Mix with sauce and serve on sandwich buns. 

Makes 12 servings.

Quick Cooker

I got a Quick Cooker (an instant pot) from Pampered Chef.  I really got it because while I'm good at menu planning I SUCK at remembering to defrost. So I'm hoping this helps with this.  So I'm mainly working on how to cook meat in it that I can then put in other things.  What I don't like is I can't tell if it is done and so often I have to reset it and get pressure again, which takes a long time. I'm hoping as I get better, that will fix itself.  Like with frozen hamburger.....

I'm using recipes, but my goal is to figure out to how to start everything from frozen meat. The booklet that comes with the Quick Cooker is useful for this.

I did this from frozen and it worked!
Chicken Parmesan Pasta
Modified from Pampered Chef

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb chicken, cut up
2 tbsp garlic herb reasoning
1 jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Set the Quick Cooker to sear and press start. [If the chicken is frozen, cook it first.]  Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in the inner pot for 3 minutes. In a small bowl, toss the chicken with the rub to coat.  Add half of the chicken and cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes, stirring once, or until the exterior is browned (chicken will not be cooked through).  Remove the chicken from the inner pot.  Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken.  Press cancel.

Return the chicken to the Quick Cooker. Add the sauce, pasta, and water.  Lock the lid and select the custom setting.  Adjust the time to 5 minutes and press start.  When the timer is up, press cancel.  Press the steam-release button to manually release the pressure.  Meanwhile, place the butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30-45 seconds or until its melted. Stir in panko and microwave, uncovered, on high for 30-45 seconds or until the crumbs are lightly toasted, stir.

Stir the Parmesan cheese into pasta. Top with mozzarella cheese and cover.  Let it stand for 3-4 minutes. Top with toasted panko to serve.

Makes 8 servings. 

I also did this one from frozen....the chicken wasn't quite done, but since I was putting it in back with the rice, it worked really well.

Chicken Broccoli Risotto
Modified from Pampered Chef

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1 lb chicken (frozen or thawed)
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups broccoli (frozen or fresh)
1 cup cheddar, shredded
2 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

If your chicken is frozen, first cook your chicken in your Quick Cooker (Instant Pot).  Chop it up.

Set Quick Cooker to sear and press start. Heat oil in inner pot for 3 minutes and then add in onion, pepper, garlic, salt and cook uncovered for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add rice and stir to combine. Press cancel.

Add chicken, broth, and mustard and stir (if your chicken wasn't frozen, you can add it thaw at this point, just diced).  Lock lid and select white rice and press start.  When timer is up, press cancel.  Press the steam release to manually release the pressure.

Stir in broccoli and cheese and well combined.  Set to sear and press start.  Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Press cancel.  Before serving, add lemon juice.

Serves 8.