Gluten Free · Vegan · Vegetarian

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts did not make their way into my kitchen until last year.  My early experiences with Brussel Sprouts left me scarred..they were always very bitter and tough.  My older daughter, Megan, set out to convert me starting with roasted Brussel Sprout chips.  From there I graduated to roasted Brussel Sprouts and NOW, I make Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts.

The tender Brussel Sprouts, purchased at Costco, are delicious roasted and the balsamic vinegar/olive oil glaze allows the sprouts to roast to a luscious golden brown. The final product is a taste bud party!

BALSAMIC ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS

3 cups brussels sprouts, washed and sliced in half
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoon olive oil
fresh ground sea salt and pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Slowly add the olive oil until the well blended.
  • Put the brussels sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the oil and vinegar mixture over the sprouts and gently toss to coat.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, turning once. Sprouts are done when they are lightly browned.
New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

No Bake Energy Bites

No Bake Energy Bites were another Pinterest find.  They sounded delicious, somewhat healthy, and easy. They remind me so much of the no-bake chocolate cookies we made when I was a kid (and for my kids).

I added cinnamon to the recipe and also rolled some of them in oatmeal, just to add a little visual interest. Next time I plan to add some chopped walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds.

Energy bites any time of day for energy or when your sweet tooth is getting the best of you!

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Roll into balls and refrigerate. You can also roll the bites in the oatmeal again to coat (optional).

Adapted from:  http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/no-bake-energy-bites/

Family Favorites

Chicken Divine

Chicken Divine starts by roasting chicken breasts with savory rosemary making your mouth water, anticipating the great final dish to come.  This dish takes a while but you could easily bake the chicken breasts ahead of time.

I do not recall where I found this recipe but it’s been a family favorite for the past 20 years.  Pair Chicken Divine with a green salad, crusty bread and a nice glass of white wine.  Dinner is served!

CHICKEN DIVINE

3 whole chicken breasts
rosemary to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 sliced onion
1 pound fresh or frozen broccoli
3/4 cup raw rice, cooked

CHEESE SAUCE:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated, sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

SAUCE:

  • Melt butter, add flour and stir until smooth. Cook 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add cheeses and seasonings.

CASSEROLE:

  • Sprinkle chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool. Skin, bone and slice.
  • Cook broccoli in water with salt and onion. Drain.
  • Layer chicken, then broccoli, then rice in buttered casserole.
  • Pour cheese sauce over entire dish. Add more grated Parmesan on top if desired.

  • Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
New Favorite

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars…treat from Sarah

Some days that seem dark and depressing can be brightened by the gift of food…particularly my favorite antidepressant, chocolate.  Daughter, Sarah, was at the house and we decided to try out this new recipe she found on Pinterest/Pinch of Yum.

I can attest it is a big Yum!  I’m not a fan of cheesecake but a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies. This reminds me of chocolate chips cookies on steroids.

Interesting enough, my dark day brightened thanks to Ms. Sarah and Mr. Chocolate!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE CHEESECAKE BARS

1 stick butter, unsalted (1/2 cup), softened
½ cup white sugar
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (less if you don’t like salty/sweet)
½ cup rolled oats
2 cups chocolate chips
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture in with the butter and sugar, mixing well after each addition.
  • Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  • Make the cheesecake filling: Cream the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Press half to two-thirds of the cookie dough in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Pour the cheesecake filling over the dough.
  • Crumble the remaining dough and sprinkle over the top, OR roll it into a flat layer and place it over the cheesecake layer.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until tops is lightly browned and cheesecake layer is set. Serve warm or cold and store leftover bars in refrigerator.
Family Favorites · Gluten Free · New Favorite

Hearty Minestrone…winter delight!

With the frigid cold this past weekend, it was the perfect time to make Hearty Minestrone.  My good friend, Maribeth, introduced this recipe to me several years ago and it is a winter delight!  Pair it with a crusty, hearty bread, a nice glass of red wine and you can please family and friends alike.

This soup freezes beautifully!  With our busy schedules, what a treat to be able to have this soup on hand for those crazy, busy days we all have.  If you are gluten-free, eliminate the noodles.

Mmmm…making me hungry for another bowl of leftovers!

HEARTY MINESTRONE

2 pounds chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
4 quarts water
1 cup sliced celery
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
16 ounce can dark red kidney beans
15 ounce can garbanzo beans
16 ounce can pinto beans
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 small zucchini
1 pound Italian sweet sausage, sliced
8 ounce package kluski (homemade style) noodles

  • In a large kettle, combine chuck roast, 1 teaspoon salt and water. Cover and simmer for 3 hours or until beef is tender.
  • Remove meat from kettle and set aside. Remove fat from broth by letting kettle cool in refrigerator and then lifting hardened fat off top and discarding. Break meat into 1-inch pieces and combine with broth in a very large stock pot.
  • Stir in celery, onion, carrot, tomatoes, parsley, tomato paste, salt, oregano, basil, kidney beans with liquid, garbanzo beans with liquid, pinto beans, spinach, zucchini and sliced sausage.

  • Simmer, covered, until vegetables and sausage are tender, about 1 hour. Soup may be frozen at this point.
  • To serve, cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse, drain and add to hot soup. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese and crusty Italian Bread.

Yield: 8 quarts

Adapted from Creme de Colorado Cookbook 1987

Family Favorites · My Roots

Chocolate Poke Cake

Here’s a blast from the past…chocolate poke cake.  The recipe can be altered to any cake and pudding flavor. Get creative with your favorite flavors.  I remember when Poke cakes became popular in the ’70s.  Easy, kid and adult-friendly, and a walk down memory lane.

CHOCOLATE POKE CAKE

1 package (2 layer) cake mix, any flavor
2 packages (4 serving size) Jello Instant Pudding, any flavor
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 cups cold milk

  • Prepare cake mix as directed on package baking in a 13×9″ cake pan.
  • Remove from oven.
  • Poke holes quickly down through cake with round handle of wooden spoon at 1″ intervals (or use plastic straw).

  • Only after poking holes, combine pudding mix with sugar in a large bowl. Gradually stir in milk. Then beat at low-speed of electric mixer for not more than 1 minute (do not overbeat).
  • Quickly, before pudding thickens, pour about one-half of the thin pudding evenly over the warm cake and into the holes to make the stripes.

  • Allow remaining pudding to thicken slightly; then spoon over the top, swirling it to frost the cake.
  • Chill at least 1 hour. Store cake in refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap.
Czech Heritage · My Roots

Sauerkraut Soup

My Czech roots are precious to me and this week I enjoyed a hearty stock of Sauerkraut Soup.  This recipe was one of two recipes my Mother made and she was given this recipe by our dear Bohemian friend, Blanche.

I understand that many families serve a Sauerkraut Soup as a traditional Christmas Eve meal but I enjoy it anytime!

After the rich, sweet treats of the holidays, the hearty sauerkraut soup was a welcome change allowing me to walk down memory lane once again.

SAUERKRAUT SOUP

1 pint sauerkraut (add extra caraway seed if desired)
1 cup finely diced ham
1 quart cooked and drained diced potatoes
1 quart Milk (more or less)
chunk butter
1 egg yolk
1 heaping tablespoon of flour
salt and pepper
dill weed garnish (optional)

  • Put enough water on sauerkraut to simmer slowly with ham.
  • When tender, pour milk over and a chunk of butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Break egg yolk into small bowl and whisk.
  • Add flour and mix together.
  • Drop small pieces of the dough into the soup until cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
  • Add cooked, drained potatoes to the soup.
  • Heat until low boil. Serve or cool to serve next day. The flavor is even better the next day!
New Favorite

Pear Cake…seasonal delight!

Pear Cake made with seasonal pears is a true treat.  This recipe, from http://www.usapear.com was a great find and delicious as a morning coffee treat or as a seasonal dessert.

PEAR CAKE

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 pears, peeled, cored and wedged
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a round baking pan with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  • Brush the pear wedges with lemon juice and arrange in the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Combine flour with baking powder, salt and cinnamon, Set aside.
  • Using a mixer, beat the remaining butter with sugar until fluffy.  Stir in eggs and vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture and milk alternating the ingredients slowly.  Continue to beat on low-speed after each addition.
  • Spoon batter evenly over pears in pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes OR until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (My oven required a longer baking time.)
  • Cool before inverting onto serving platter.  Decorate with walnuts or serve with whipped cream as coffee cake or dessert.

Recipe adapted from http://www.usapears.com; Starkrimson Pear Cinnamon Cake

Family Favorites · New Traditions

Brie and Honey; Brie and Jam, Brie any way!

Brie is truly my favorite cheese or all time.  I love it plain, baked in pastry with jam or simply topped with honey or jam. It is a simple, elegant, crowd-pleaser every time.

Happy New Year! Wishing all a wonderful year creating new traditions for your friends and family.