This mom loves to cook

My photo
Hello! I'm Deirdre and I'm a stay at home mom to two boys. Cooking for a 6 and 4 year old- day in and day out can be the best job in the world, also the most frustrating. Trying to create not only kid friendly but husband and mom friendly meals is a challenge that I've readily accepted! My Foodie Mom blog is a record of the different recipes that I've tried in the kitchen, pictures of my ventures, and cool tricks I've picked up along the way. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tortellini Spinach Bake With Creamy Lemon Sauce



I made this a few nights ago, and straight away my husband told me he was iffy on the lemon sauce. There was no need to fret, because this lemon sauce was amazing! I think it's definitely going to be my go to for a chicken picatta or even a shrimp scampi from now on. It was easy, so flavorful and a perfect combination with the spinach in this dish. Leave the bacon out if making this vegetarian. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortelini (find them in the dry pasta aisle)
  • 4 oz bacon or pancetta, (leave this out if doing as vegetarian) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed in garlic press or finely minced
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 C milk
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry basil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp or more if you like spicy)
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • ¾ C grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¾ C grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
Place bacon in a medium sized skillet on the stove-top at medium-high heat.  Cook until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain.  Reserve two tablespoons bacon drippings in pan and discard the rest.  Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute.  Add flour to pan and stir with a whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk and continue to stir with whisk until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, basil, and red pepper flakes and bring sauce to a simmer.
While sauce is heating, use a microplane grater or a fine-holed cheese grater to zest lemon.  Then cut lemon in half and remove juice.  Add 2 teaspoons zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to sauce.  (Note:  I really love lemon so I added this to my tastes.  If you don’t want as strong of a lemon flavor, I suggest cutting it down to 1 teaspoon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice) .  Continue to stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Drain tortellini and place back in stock pot.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture.  Add spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Add sauce and gently stir to combine.  Place pasta mixture in an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup mozarella and 1/4 cup parmesan and also crumbled bacon.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until warm and bubbly. 

This looks like it's a lot of work, but its really not. It's pretty much just making the sauce while you're waiting for the pasta to cook, so the total prep is under 20 minutes. I am for sure going to make this dish again. I give it an A. Enjoy!



Credits:Tortellini spinach bake

Banana Bread



This is my go to banana bread recipe. Super easy and it comes out incredibly moist!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
preheat oven to 35o.

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Mix until all combined.

Add to loaf pan ( I used an 8x8 baking dish).

Bake for 1 hour.

Let cool before slicing.

There are a lot of different ways to make banana bread, of course. I find this way the easiest. There's really no need to add dry and wet ingredients separately  it comes out great doing it this way. Enjoy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Orange Chicken and Asparagus




This was a really quick and extremely flavorful dinner we made the other night. It took under 20 minutes, guilt free, and satisfying.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 oz of chicken sliced into strips
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chopped asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • juice and zest of 1 orange

Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 

Sauté 4 ounces chicken, sliced into 1/2-inch strips; 1 minced garlic clove; and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 7 minutes. 

Add 2 cups chopped asparagus and cook 3 minutes more. 

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, and juice and zest of 1 orange. Add to skillet and cook 1 minute. 

Serve over rice.




Moussaka



Warning, this recipe is pretty time consuming... But it is totally worth it! I did the potato and eggplant earlier in the day so I wasn't doing everything all at once. If you take your time and do this right it will be one of those go to recipes you'll use over and over. I already can't wait until I make this again.

INGREDIENTS:

Moussaka:

  • 2 medium or 1 extra large eggplant
  • sea salt
  • 3-4 medium potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (or lamb)
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2-3 T. EVOO + extra 
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • pinch all spice
  • 3-4 fresh tomatoes or 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes, processed
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs 
Béchamel Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
  • 4-5 cups hot whole milk (substitute 2% milk if preferred)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups hard cheese (kefalotyri, parmesan, or romano) 
Eggplant and potato preparation: 

Wash eggplants and trim the steams. Leave or peel off the skin and cut lengthwise or round thinly sliced pieces.

Place in a large strainer and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. 

Set aside for 30 minutes to let sweat out the bitter juices of the eggplant. 

Rinse with chilled water and pat dry with paper towels. 

Drizzle lightly with olive oil and either grill, broil, or fry until soft and tender. 

Grill for just a few minutes on each side or broil for 10-15 minutes on a baking tray or fry lightly, until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft. Set aside to cool.

Clean the potatoes really well, removing the skins if desired. 

Thinly slice with a sharp knife into 1/4″ rounds. 

Let soak in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes and then pat dry. 

Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. 

Grill for just a few minutes on each side or broil for 10-15 minutes on a baking tray or fry lightly, cooking until centers are soft. Set aside to cool.



Meat sauce preparation:

Heat a lightly oiled skillet on medium-low heat. 

Sauté the onions for 5 minutes and then add the garlic and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until transparent and soft. Add the meat and sauté until lightly browned, season lightly with salt and pepper.

Carefully drain of any excess fat and then add tomatoes, and sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs. 

Mix thoroughly and then add all the spices (cinnamon, all spice, and bay leaf) and wine. 

Cover lightly and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until all liquids are absorbed. 

Turn off the heat and set aside uncovered. 

Before assembling, add 1 ladle of the bechamel sauce to the meat mixture and combine well.



Bechamel sauce preparation: 

To save time, prepare the sauce while the meat is simmering.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. 

Gradually add the sifted flour, ¼ cup at a time whisking quickly until smooth. 

Repeat until all of the flour is added and there are no clumps. 

Increase the heat to medium-low and slowly add the milk continuing to whisk constantly. 

The sauce will slowly begin to thicken, about 10-15 minutes. 

Once it coats a spoon, remove from heat and slowly add the beaten eggs in a stream and then the spices. 

Return sauce to the heat and whisk for an additional minute or two until all ingredients are combined. Set aside to cool.



Assembling the moussaka:

Preheat the oven to 350/180 degrees. 

Lightly oil the bottom and sides of your baking dish (square for thicker, rectangle for thinner). 

Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over the bottom of your pan, align the potato slices on top of the breadcrumbs, overlapping slightly. 

Spread half the meat mixture (remember to have added 1 ladle of bechamel sauce) on top of the potatoes, and then layer the eggplant slices, also overlapping slightly – making sure to cover the entire dish. 

Spread the remaining meat mixture over the eggplants and top with the remaining bechamel sauce. 

Bake for 30 minutes, and then sprinkle the cheese on top.

Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top becomes golden brown and bubbly. 

Leave the moussaka in the oven with the oven door cracked open for another 20 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow the moussaka to cool for an additional 15-20 minutes before serving, this ensures that it sets up properly.   

I know this looks crazy, but it really is all worth it. We finished off a 9x13 dish in one night because we were giving it away wanting everyone to try it, it was that good. We gave some to my sister, some to the neighbor... and I really regretted it, because I wanted more after I was done. So keep this all for yourself and don't give any away. Enjoy!


credits:moussaka


Parmesan Crusted Tilapia



This was one of those easy Tuesday night meals. I do my grocery shopping on Tuesdays, so that's usually the night that I'll cook seafood if I buy it. This took under 10 minutes to prepare, and that is always a plus.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • tilapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
  • lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees . 

In a shallow dish, combine the cheese with the paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper. 



Drizzle the fish with olive oil and dredge in the cheese mixture. 

Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the fish is opaque in the thickest part, 10 to 12 minutes. 

Serve the fish with the lemon wedges.

I really enjoyed the fish prepared this way. My husband didn't like it though. So I guess you'll have to be the judge. Enjoy!





Cheesy Jalapeño Popper Chicken


This was another weight watchers recipe that I tried, and this was amazing! I am totally going to make this again. Now that I've succesfully done a rolled chicken breast, the possibilities  are endless.

INGREDIENTS:


  • 2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 jalapeños, chopped (remove seeds for milder)
  • 3 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar jack (Sargento)
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions
  • 8 thin sliced skinless chicken breast cutlets, 3 oz each
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 juicy limes, juice of
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • olive oil and non stick spray


  • Wash and dry chicken cutlets, season with salt and pepper.

    Preheat oven to 450°. 

    Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

    Combine cream cheese, cheddar, scallions, jalapeño and bacon crumbles in a medium bowl.



    Lay chicken cutlets on a working surface and spread 2 tbsp of cream cheese mixture on each cutlet. 

    Loosely roll each one, secure the ends with toothpicks to prevent the cheese from oozing out.

    Place breadcrumbs in a bowl; in a second bowl combine olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.

    Dip chicken in lime-oil mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down on a baking dish. 

    Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, lightly spray the top of the chicken with oil spray.



    Bake 22-25 minutes, serve immediately.



    This was so yummy and satisfying, I really can't wait to make this again. Using the freshly diced jalapeños to it, really gave it a great kick.



    Credits:jalapeno baked stuffed chicken

    Turkey Sausage Pepper and Onion Mini Calzones


    So lately I've been on the hunt for recipes with low calories, but still look delicious and filling. This was one that I found, It's 8 weight watcher points.

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 lb. frozen bread dough, thawed and left to rise
    • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
    • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
    • 1 lb. hot Italian turkey sausage
    • 2 c. pizza sauce, divided
    • 1-⅓ c. part- skim shredded mozzarella

    Brown sausage with peppers and onions; drain. Stir in 1-¾ c. pizza sauce

    Divide bread dough into 8 equal sections; roll each section into a circle about 8" in diameter.

    Place sausage mixture in the center of each circle. Top with equal amounts of cheese. 

    Fold dough over and seal by crimping with a fork. 

    Place calzones on baking sheets coated with nonstick spray. Spray calzones.

    Bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with extra pizza sauce if desired.

    This was my first time using turkey sausage, and it was really good. I couldn't even tell it wasn't regular pork sausage. Enjoy!




    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Oven "Fried" Falafel with Tahini Sauce


    My brother in law is staying with us for the summer, so I asked him if there was anything special that he wanted for dinner one night. He said falafel. Well I've never made it before but I'm always up for trying new things in the kitchen. So I found this recipe and it was easy enough to execute.

    INGREDIENTS:

    (Falafel)
    makes approx. 17

    • 1 large can (29 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 2 Teaspoon cumin
    • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro 
    • 1 Tablespoon chopped scallions
    • 2 Tablespoon flour
    • 1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Salt & pepper to taste
    • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and mash them with a potato masher or fork. They should still be a little chunky.

    Stir in the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, flour, cayenne and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste before mixing in the egg. 


    Once seasoned to your liking, mix in the egg and stir until everything is combined.

    On a large baking sheet spread the olive oil so the bottom is completely covered.

    Roll Mixture into about 1 oz balls. Mine were about the size of medium meatballs. Place on greased baking sheet.


    Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, Then flip the falafels over and press them down a little bit so the other side can brown and they're not rolling all over the place. Bake for another 10 minutes.



    INGREDIENTS:

    (Tahini Sauce)
    • 4 Tablespoons of sesame 
    • 5 Tablespoons of water
    • 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice
    • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 Teaspoon of garlic powder
    • Salt and Pepper to taste
    Whisk all of the above ingredients together.

    You can adjust the consistency according to your taste. If you want it a little thicker, don't add as much water.

    Serve the falafel with pita bread, red onion, cucumber tomato and tahini sauce.



    This was a fabulous recipe. Really simple but packs a ton of flavor. It's a totally guilt free meal and leaves you feeling full. Surprising for it just being beans, veggies and bread. I will most definitely make this again as a go to vegetarian meal. All of the ingredients were things that I had in the house pretty much. The only thing I had to specifically buy out of the ordinary was the sesame paste for the tahini sauce. Enjoy!














    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Reuben Bake


    I made this last night for dinner, and all I can say is "holy crap". It was amazing. And surprisingly super easy and quick to make. I think It was all done in under 30 minutes. 

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 2 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
    • 1 pound sliced Swiss cheese
    • 1-1/4 pounds sliced deli corned beef
    • 1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
    • 2/3 cup Thousand Island salad dressing
    • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
    • 3 teaspoons caraway seeds
    Unroll one tube of crescent dough into one long rectangle; seal seams and perforations. Press onto the bottom of a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish



    Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. 

    Layer with half of the cheese and all of the corned beef. Combine sauerkraut and salad dressing; spread over beef. Top with remaining cheese.


    On a lightly floured surface, press or roll second tube of crescent dough into a 13-in. x 9-in. rectangle, sealing seams and perforations. Place over cheese. 

    Brush with egg white; sprinkle with caraway seeds



    Bake for 12-16 minutes or until heated through and crust is golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. 


    This was probably one of the best "casseroles" I've ever made. And anyone that likes reuben sandwiches, will love this recipe! Enjoy!!




    Credits: reuben bake

    Pulled Pork Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms



    I love cooking this dish when we have people over for dinner, because it makes a lot and everyone can eat their fill!

    INGREDIENTS:

    • Boneless pork loin ( I usually get about 3 pounds and use the left overs for another dish)
    • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
    • 2 cups diced spinach
    • 1/2 cup diced onion
    • 1 whole cut onion (for cooking in crock pot with pork)
    • 1 can diced tomatoes with chili's
    • small bag of shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup of salsa verde
    • 1 sliced apple (for cooking in crock pot with pork)
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 cup apple juice (for cooking in the crock pot)
    • 4 oz cream cheese room temp (half a box)
    • Tortillas
    So I cook the pork all day in the crock pot to get the pulled pork effect. 

    Take your sliced onion and apple and layer it on the bottom of the crock pot, pour the apple juice over that. 

    Place the pork on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. cook on low 6-8 hours.

    When the Pork is done, Take out (portion some out for another meal if there is going to extra). Put in a bowl and with two forks start pulling apart the pork until its all pulled apart. Set aside.


    In a pan sautee up the diced onions for about 3 minutes until softened, then add the mushrooms and cook for another minute until softened. Add the spinach and wilt down- then finally add the diced tomatoes. Add some salt and pepper and cook all together for another minute or so until everything is combined.

    Add the veggie mixture into the bowl with the pulled pork, mix to combine, then add in cream cheese and stir very well until everything is all mixed together and the cream cheese is all broken down.

    Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray, then start to assemble your enchiladas. 

    Place a scoop of the filling in the center of tortilla, sprinkle with a little cheddar cheese then fold and place in dish.

    Repeat with however many you are making. I usually do about 8

    After they're all rolled, pour salsa verde all over the top of the dish and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top of that.

    Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until you can see the cheese is melted.



    This is my favorite way to make enchilada's. I've also done an all veggie version with just mushrooms, spinach and onions. It's so versatile you can pretty much come up with any combination of things to do. I usually serve with red beans and rice and a little greek yogurt on top (instead of sour cream), and green onions. It's also great because you can make a lot at once, and one is really filling so its great if you're doing dinner for a bunch of people. Enjoy!

    Baked Pepper Jack Cheese Sticks




    So I've done something similar to this before. It's super easy, and fun to do.


    INGREDIENTS:

    • Block of pepper jack cheese cut long ways into sticks
    • Egg Roll wrappers
    • Marinara sauce for dipping
    Wrap the cheese in the egg roll wrappers, seal with a little bit of water

    Make sure the edges and ends are sealed tight, because the melted cheese will escape

    Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes, ,or until slightly browned

    Serve with marinara sauce for dipping

    Enjoy!!