Monday, December 8, 2014

Baked Ziti With Homemade Ricotta

I was feeling rather domestic this morning.  I always find when I'm short on time, the only thing I really WANT to do is cooking.  I know, that sounds counterintuitive, but cooking and baking relax me.  Help me focus on something other than my worries.  I've always loved it.

Anyway, last week I bought just a little too much milk, combined with the fact that my kids did not like the choices of cereals in the cabinet meant that there was WAY too much milk in my fridge this morning - all of it about to go bad!  I was able to salvage a half gallon to make ricotta cheese.  A task I've never done before, but seemed easy enough.  And the guilt over wasting milk when there are children in our community who would love that milk forced me to give it a go!

I'm glad I did.  Followed the recipe here.  Yummy.  Easy.

I turned it into a Baked Ziti for dinner tonight.  Can't wait.

Baked Ziti with Homemade Ricotta

1 recipe of homemade ricotta (or about 15 oz of pre made ricotta)
1 egg
1 8 oz box of your favorite GF pasta (I used Ancient Grains large Penne)
1 lb ground meat (I used Hatfield ground pork)
1 28 oz Can jarred tomato sauce (use your favorite that is GF) - I used Aldi's Simply Nature
2 Cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Prepare Ricotta.

Mix ricotta with 1 egg.

Prepare pasta, drain and rinse.

Brown ground meat, add jarred tomato sauce.  Set aside.

Return drained pasta to pot.  Add sauce, ricotta and 1 1/2 Cups of the shredded cheese.  Mix well and pour into a 2 quart baking dish.

Top with remaining Cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Custard Cups




Happy National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!  Seriously, folks, I can't even MAKE this stuff up to justify my baking bug.  I used to HATE pumpkin, but as I've aged, I've grown to love it, even crave it.  I'm still pretty picky about the things I eat with pumpkin.  I don't do pumpkin spice lattes (mostly because I don't do coffee...blech!), I don't do pumpkin flavored chocolate (icky!)...but I do do pumpkin cake.  Pumpkin cheesecake seemed like the perfect dessert.

Since following THM, I've been trying to figure out a good pumpkin recipe that I can crave.  As my usual, I can't just find a recipe and follow it to a "T", I have to take several and make a conglomeration that fits MY needs (and, well, let's be honest, what I have in my house!  HA HA HA!).

Here's what I came up with and I hope you like them as much as I do.  Creamy fall perfection. :)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Custard Cups (THM S)

1 Large Egg
1/2 Cup Canned Pure Pumpkin
4 oz 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Heavy Cream (or half and half or almond milk)
1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/8 Cup + 1 Tbs Truvia (or your favorite sweetener equivalent)

Mix all ingredients in the blender.  Pour evenly into 4 4 oz greased Mason jars (or equivalent ramekins).  Bake in a 325 oven for 25 mins.  I placed mine in a water bath (using a square cake pan, I placed the mason jars in the pan and poured hot water about half way up the jars - this is referred to a bain-marie).

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the bain-marie for about 10 minutes.  Carefully remove jars and dry off the bottoms and allow to cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight (if you can wait THAT long, seriously!).  Top with a small squirt of Light Whipped Cream (like Redi-whip).  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

GF Sweet & Saltines



Last weekend we went to a pot-luck at a friend's house.  It was a lovely autumn evening, and we ate chili, salad, and lots of goodies there that I could not eat.  Sigh.  Such is the plague and curse of going to a pot-luck and being the only person who's gluten-free.  I had stopped at my favorite, local, gluten-free bakery and picked up a batch of cupcakes to take with me so I could have dessert.  I'm still allowing myself a weekly indulgence, even though I'm working on being a Trim Healthy Mama. Dinner was great, my friend assured me she made her chili with her own seasoning mix, so it was definitely gluten-free - she actually has a son who is gluten-free, so that was nice!  And, I had my cupcakes.  Which were delicious as always.

However, one of the guests showed up with a pan of Sweet & Saltines by Tricia Yearwood.  It smelled amazing.  And people were walking around and gnawing on it and gushing about how delicious it was.  I was officially, unequivocally, jealous.  Made my cupcakes pale.  Sigh.  I wanted some.

I set out this week to find a gluten-free, saltine like cracker, and found Schar Table Crackers, which I figured to be a good mix.  So, I set off to make this.  First, a review on the crackers themselves, they were packaged in such a way that they would not go stale as you wait to eat them, and so that they didn't break apart.  I appreciate a company that not only has a dedicated gluten-free facility, but takes such care in packaging that they would arrive to your table in such a manner as being edible!  Also, for taste and texture, they are very similar to a saltine and definitely satisfy that crunch need!  There for they were perfect for this recipe!

And as you can see....SUCCESS!!!  I only indulged in one piece as the bulk is a gift for a friend that I'm seeing tomorrow.  BUT, I did get to try it.  And that made me happy.  Very happy.  :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

White Chicken Chili


Autumn is here.  Leaves are falling (much to my husband's chagrin).  Evenings are getting colder.  People are getting sicknesses.  In fact, hubby's in the throes of an awful cold right now, poor guy!  Was sitting here, thinking, what can I feed him for dinner that is yummy, warm, comforting.  He's at work, had to trudge downtown today for an important meeting.  He'll be coming home later, tired, most likely frustrated at either traffic or train ride, wanting something that will be ready the instant he walks in the door.

He's always talking about an amazing white chili he had somewhere, can't even remember where.  I've tried it a couple times, and have gotten close.  I usually shy away from white chili because it just takes one wrong ingredient to throw off the color!  And now that I'm trying to make our dinners align with Trim Healthy Mama (there's that word again, I'm serious, go check it out!), I had extra thinking to do.  I had all the ingredients except for the green chiles.  A quick trip to our grocery store less than a half mile away and that was solved.

It's brewing in the crockpot awaiting his arrival.  (And you'll only SEE this post if he deems it worthy!).

White Chicken Chili (E on THM)

2 lbs Ground Chicken (make sure it's the lean, lean, lean cut; or use two lbs of chicken breast cut in chunks)
2 Cans Great Northern Beans, drained & rinsed well
1 medium onion, diced
1 Cup Low Sodium, Low Fat Chicken Broth (or fat free, or homemade with fat skimmed off!)
2 small cans diced green chiles
1 Tbs dried minced garlic (or 2 cloves)
1 Tbs. Cumin Powder (or to taste if you like more smokey of a taste)
1/2 to 1 tsp White Pepper Powder (usually found in asian markets)
*note, if you like spicier, add more white pepper, more green chiles and maybe a jalepeno! :)

Brown ground chicken with the diced onion until just cooked through.  In a 5 qt crock pot place beans, green chiles, minced garlic and other spices.  Add the brown ground chicken with onion mixture on top.  Pour in the chicken broth.  Cook on low 5-7 hours.

I topped mine with a little bit of 0% Fat Greek Yogurt and about a tbs of 2% Mexican Blend Cheese.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Crock Pot Beef & Mushrooms


Somehow, starting THM (you sick of Trim Healthy Mama, yet?  I'm not!!!!)...anyway....

Coming up with on-plan recipes and dinners have rekindled my love for experimentation.  It's quickly dropped temperatures here in the northeast, and life has gotten a lot busier.  When it's cold, and we're busy, I rely heavily on my crockpot.  Tonight is no different.  My oldest had classes at her co-op, we have bowling and Chik-fil-A with our friends this afternoon, and dinner needed to be ready when we got home so that hubby can go off and enjoy the football game with his cigar shop buddies.

While at the grocery store yesterday, I got a great deal on Eye of Round Steaks.  Of course, when standing in a grocery store looking at the meat displays, I don't always know HOW to cook the item, especially when it comes to red meat.  I can hold my own, but I've had many flops.

This is not one of them.

Crock Pot Beef & Mushrooms (S)
2-3 lbs Eye of Round Steaks (or an Eye of Round Roast)
10 oz pkg Cremini (or baby Bella) mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, cut in half then sliced
2 Tbs A1 (or similar) Steak Sauce*
2-3 tsp Steak/Grill Seasoning
8 oz tomato sauce (make sure it's a sugar free one, some brands sneak sugar in there!)

*okay, so steak sauce contains LOTS of off plan ingredients, including sugar...BUT you're using such a small amount and you'll get so little in the final product, I really, personally, don't mind using it!)  To be THM faithful, omit this ingredient and increase tomato sauce by 2 Tbs and add a plan approved beef broth granules or liquid aminos.

In a large 5 quart or 6 quart crockpot, line with a crockpot liner (this makes clean-up super easy!).

Lay onion slices in the bottom of the crockpot, lay the mushroom slices on top of that.  Open your steaks (or roast) and sprinkle liberally with the steak seasoning.  Lay steaks in the crock pot..if you have to do two layers, cover one layer with the steak sauce, and the other with the tomato sauce.

Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Remove steaks from crockpot, cover with onions and mushrooms (strain as much as possible).  Do this very gently as the steaks will fall apart like a pot roast would, it's very tender. Transfer cooking liquid into a sauce pan.  Using Glucomannan (about a tsp or so sprinkled over and whisked in), or your preferred method of thickening (corn starch, flour/butter, etc).  I use Kuzu Root Starch, which is not THM approved, but works very well to make a smooth gravy.  Thicken juices to a gravy and serve along side the beef.

I serve this with a salad and mashed cauliflower!  YUMMY!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fruit Punch Tea


Since going on THM (Trim Healthy Mama), and losing a little bit of weight, I am greatly encouraged.  One of the staple drinks is GGMS or Good Girl Moonshine.  Unlike it's namesake, it is NOT alcoholic!  I haven't yet acquired the taste for this, but in my efforts to reduce my soda intake (well, eliminate it as much as possible), I've come up with a tea I like to drink.  I make this caffeine free so that I can enjoy any time of day.

Fruit Punch Tea

2 Black Cherry Berry Celestial Seasonings Tea Bags
2 Raspberry Zinger Celestial Seasonings Tea Bags
2 Country Peach Passion Celestial Seasonings Tea Bags
2 Decaffeinated Black Tea Bags
1 True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade Drink Mix Stick
1 True Lemon Black Cherry Limeade Drink Mix Stick

Brew the tea bags in 1.5 quarts of boiling water.  I steep them until it is almost cooled.  Pour into a 2 quart pitcher.  Add the True Lemon Drink Mix sticks and stir well.  Add water to make 2 full quarts and stir again.

Store in the refrigerator.

Prior to serving, to make it more THM friendly, add a Tbs. of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Casserole



Okay, so, where have I been?  Uninspired, culinarily speaking.  Spent our summer resting by the pool, running errands, doing laundry, escaping the heat.  Ended our summer with a vacation at the beach.

Over the summer, I discovered Trim Healthy Mama.  Read the book, studied it, tried recipes in the book.  Trolled Pinterest with fervor.  And I'm back.  And my desire to cook has returned!  To say I was stuck in a rut is a major understatement.  We did way more "fend nights" than ever before.  Even my eldest chided how I made grilled chicken and salad every Monday night for dinner.  You know it's bad when even the KIDS are getting bored with their favorites.

When we returned from vacation, I went more full forced on THM.  I'm still not 100%, but I'm having fun experimenting, and learning new tips and tricks.  One thing I really like about this plan is that is very easily gluten-free (there are some gluten containing products, they are easily avoided).  The other, is lack of deprivation.  Just 10 days on this diet and I'm already down 3.2 lbs.  Not bad.  Long way to go, but every journey begins with the first step.

Tonight's dinner was combination of using up some grilled chicken in the fridge, and some frozen broccoli I bought on vacation.  A little bit of cream cheese and parmesan, and viola, a new dinner dish for us!

My eldest, who does not like cheese, wrinkled her nose and only served herself a very small portion at first; quickly came back for seconds.

In the THM world, this would be a very solid S due to the level of fats.

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Casserole

2 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, grilled and cubed
1 oz package of Chive & Onion Cream Cheese, softened
1 16 oz package of frozen broccoli, thawed (but not cooked)
Salt & Pepper to taste (I used a little sprinkle of each)
2 Tbs Almond Meal
2 Tbs Golden Flax Meal
2 Tbs Parmesan Cheese


In a large bowl, mix together chicken, cream cheese and broccoli.  Spread in a 2 quart baking dish that has been either buttered or sprayed with (THM plan approved) cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together almond meal, flax meal and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over chicken casserole.

Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes until really bubbly.

Let set about 5 or 10 minutes once it's out of the oven.

I served with a salad. :)

I hope you enjoy!