Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Easy Dinner for a Busy Night


As a member of the Influenster team, I was recently given the opportunity to try Annie's Homegrown Frozen Entrees.  We have been fans of Annie's for a while and were excited to try one of the family-sized frozen entree options.  I picked up the Lasagna with Meat Sauce at Target (this was specifically where I had to use the coupon, but I also have not seen it at any of other local grocery stores.  Let me know if you find it elsewhere!).

This lasagna is GOOD.  My husband loves frozen lasagna, but I generally find the preservatives upset my stomach, and I don't even want to guess what the meat is.  Annie's is a brand I trust, and they have proven themselves with this lasagna.  Every ingredient on the list was something I would have in my pantry or refrigerator, except the last - xanthan gum, used for thickening.  Considering what I find on most frozen meal ingredient lists, I'll take that.


The lasagna was rich with just the right amount of meat and cheese.  I count points and did not mind using the 10 necessary for a good sized slice of lasagna. Even my husband gave a hearty thumbs-up.  The package makes three average-sized servings or two large servings - perfect for our small family.

Annie's Homegrown Lasagna with Meat Sauce Meal will now be a staple in my freezer, and I can't wait to try the other frozen meal offerings!
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Russian Menu for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sochi (and a Borscht recipe)

I was going to wait to post about our celebratory meal for the opening of the Olympics in Sochi, but I found that there aren't many Russian-themed menus up for watching parties. So, I thought I would throw out what we will be having and see if anyone else has fun ideas for Russian food. There will only be three of us at our party (I know - we're wild), so the menu isn't extensive.

As it stands right now, our menu looks like this:
Borscht (see below for recipe)
Beef Stroganoff
Biskvit Raspberry Roulade (Roulette) Cake – Рулет

We will start with a steaming bowl of borscht - don't knock it til you've tried it.  I have a great recipe that is based on one given to me by my Ukrainian friend, Yulia, and one I found on The Fig Tree blog (also the source of the photo below, which I will replace once I have made mine).


Ingredients:
1 large or 2 small beets, peeled and cut in half or quarters
2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 medium carrots, shredded
2 large white potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 bunch fresh dill, fronds separated from stems
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 small head or 1/2 large head green cabbage, shredded
sour cream or greek yogurt for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place beets in a roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss to distribute the oil well. Roast the beets, turning once or twice during roasting, for 40 minutes (or until a thin-bladed knife pierces a piece of beet with little resistance). When the roasted beets are cool enough to handle, chop them as finely as possible.

Put the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and tomato paste. Cook until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Turn down heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onions until golden and very tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the beets, carrots, potatoes and bell pepper along with the dill stems (tied together in a bundle with kitchen twine or put them in your Pampered Chef Herb Infuser) and broth. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add shredded cabbage, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup is well colored and beets are starting to melt away, about 10 minutes.

Remove the dill stems from the soup. Add the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Chop the dill fronds and sprinkle them into the borscht reserving some for garnish.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with dill.
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sweet Treat: Skinny Cow Peanut Butter Creme Divine Filled Chocolates

Now that my baby girl is over a year old, I decided it was time to fit back in the pre-pregnancy clothes. SO, back to Weight Watchers I go.  Fortunately, I received an Influenster VoxBox with a free box of Skinny Cow Peanut Butter Creme Divine Filled Chocolates, and those things are really tasty!


These come three to a package and are 1 point each, or 4 points for all three.  I tend to shy away from diet food because of all the wacky ingredients, but I was pretty pleased with this ingredient list.  I keep these at work with me so I can have one or two squares in the afternoon for a reasonable snack that also satisfies my sweet tooth.

If you are looking for a nice afternoon pick-me-up, check these out!
Pin It Now!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 3 - Receiving Cookies

Two days ago, I wrote about Baking for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and yesterday I wrote about Packaging and Shipping those cookies. Today, I share with you the treats I received in the mail from my fellow food bloggers.


On the left you see one of the molasses cookies I received from Chelsea of This Grand Adventure.  My husband especially loved them!

In the middle is a cranberry caramel bar from Martha of Simple Nourished Living. These were incredibly tasty.

Finally, on the right is one of the gingerbread cookies that Meghan of Spoonful of Flour sent me.  They are probably some of the best gingerbread cookies I have ever had.  I have been raving for days.

In addition to the cookies and bars sent by my fellow bloggers, I received some great freebies from the Cookie Swap's sponsors.  Oxo sent a set of three of their silicone spatulas.  Imperial Sugar and Grandma's Molasses both sent coupons for a free item, redeemable at my local grocery store.

This experience has been great fun and I look forward to next year's cookie swap!

See The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 1 - Baking Pepperming Biscotti.
See The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 2 - Packaging & Shipping.
Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 2 - Packaging & Shipping

In my first post, I talked about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and the Peppermint Biscotti I made for it.  Here, I give tips for packaging and shipping cookies.

Packaging and Shipping Cookies

For the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap I needed to make cookies that would ship well, and biscotti are known for that.  But, they still need a little help.  Here are my steps for packaging cookies to mail:

1. Place two cookies flat side to flat side.  Wrap in plastic wrap.


2. Pack tightly into a sturdy bakers box or cookie tin.  Fill in any extra space with tissue paper.  Once the lid is on, you should be able to gently shake the box and not hear the contents shuffling.


3. Pack the box of goodies into a larger box, surrounded by crumpled newspaper, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or all three :) Once again, you should be able to shake the box gently with no movement inside.

I found the USPS Priority Medium Flat Rate Box (top load) was the perfect size for the cookie tin I used.  Use packing tape on all open seams to prevent moisture from getting into the box during shipping.  Take it to your local post office, or, even better, use usps.com to have them pick up the package at your doorstep!  Priority shipping through USPS comes with a small amount of insurance and you can get a tracking number for free.

My final post on the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap will be on the cookies I received - and, might I say, they were quite tasty!

See The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 1 - Baking Peppermint Biscotti.
See The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 3 - Receiving
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 1 - Baking Peppermint Biscotti


In December of last year, I read about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I wanted to participate so bad!  The problem - a food blog was required and a food blog was exactly what I lacked.  So, What This Mama Eats was born (probably one of the dumber reasons to start a blog ever...).

This year, when the announcement was made in November, I was ready to go!  Here's how it works: you sign up, pay a $4.00 tax-deductible donation to Cookies for Kids' Cancer, receive the names and addresses of three fellow food bloggers, choose your recipe, bake it, ship it, and blog about it.

I signed up, got my names, and decided to make peppermint biscotti.


Biscotti is a fairly easy cookie to make.  It gets its texture from two separate baking periods.

First, mix sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and peppermint extract. (If you are planning to dip in almond bark and candy cane bits, you can skip the peppermint extract.  Without the extra peppermint on the outside you need the extra flavor on the inside.)  In a separate bowl, stir together flour and baking powder.  I do this using a sieve to sift out any lumps.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture, blend.  Fold in peppermint bits.

Separate the dough into two sections. Shape each half of the dough into a rectangle, 10 x 3 inches, on parchment. The benefit to using parchment paper is that you can measure the 10 inches by 3 inches so you know exactly how big to make the loaf.  The dough is a bit sticky, so put flour on your hand or use a silicon spatula to shape it.


Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Cut each section crosswise into 3/4 to 1 inch slices. (I also marked those measurements on the parchment paper.)  I use a dough cutter, that you can see in the picture below, to cut the slices.  It is perfect for this. Place slices cut sides down on a baking sheet.


Bake 15 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Optional: Melt almond bark according to package directions.  Place broken bits of 10 candy canes on a plate.  Dip each biscotti first into the almond bark and then into the peppermint.  Place on a piece of wax paper.  Allow the almond bark to harden before storing or packaging for shipping.  See tomorrow's post for packaging and shipping tips.




Peppermint Biscotti

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
20 small candy canes + 10 small candy canes (optional), finely crushed (keep separate)
1 package almond bark (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a large bowl use an electric mixer to blend the sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and peppermint extract (if using) until smooth and creamy.

In a separate bowl stir together flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until all the ingredients are blended together. Fold in the broken bits of the 20 candy canes.

Separate the dough into two sections. Shape each half of the dough into a rectangle, 10 x 3 inches, on parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Cut each section crosswise into 3/4-1 inch slices. Place slices cut sides down on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Optional: Melt almond bark according to package directions.  Place broken bits of 10 candy canes on a plate.  Dip each biscotti first into the almond bark and then into the peppermint.  Place on a piece of wax paper.  Allow the almond bark to harden before storing or packaging for shipping.

Makes 24 - 26 cookies.

This recipe is adapted from a post by Elaine Smit of Chow Bella Kids on Williams-Sonoma's Taste blog.

My peppermint biscotti were sent to Kitchen Joy, Western New Yorker, and Chew Nibble Nosh.

Check back tomorrow for packaging and shipping tips and Friday to see what I got in the mail!
See The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 2 - Packaging & Shipping.
See The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Part 3 - Receiving
Pin It Now!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cranberry Crumble (or Leftover Cranberry Sauce's Best Friend)


I make the cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving every year, and I always make the mistake of looking at the recipe and thinking, "Yeah, I should definitely double that."  I am always wrong.  Even though people like my cranberry sauce, they still only eat a few spoonfuls.  So, every year I am left with approximately 15 cups of extra sauce.  (I may be exaggerating, but it really is a lot.)

This year we discovered that my 1 year old LOVES cranberry sauce.  She has helped to make a dent, but I still have a lot left.  I put together this recipe for cranberry crumble in an effort to unburden my refrigerator of its continued presence.

Cranberry Crumble

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 cups cranberry sauce (enough to create a layer in a 9x13 pan) - see my recipe below

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, brown sugar, and oats with a pastry cutter or your hands until the butter is worked through.  Press 2/3 of the mixture into an ungreased 9x13 pan.  Pour enough cranberry sauce over the oatmeal layer to cover it.  Sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture over the top.  Bake until the oatmeal topping begins to turn golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.  The filling will thicken as it cools.

This recipe can easily be halved and baked in a 9x9 pan.  I haven't tried it yet, but it is possible that you could use less cranberry sauce (make a very thin layer over the base oatmeal layer) and make these into oatmeal bars.

Cranberry Sauce (the recipe as is - not doubled, like I usually mistakenly make):

Ingredients:
2 cups unfiltered apple cider
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
2 12-oz bags fresh cranberries

In a medium-large nonaluminum saucepan, combine the apple cider, sugar, water and cinnamon stick.  Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the cranberries, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. (Do not overcook.  Cranberries naturally have pectin, which will help them to set a bit.  If you overcook them, they will be watery.)

Cool to room temperature.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to develop the flavors.  Remove the cinnamon stick and let the sauce come to room temperature before serving.

Makes approximately 6 cups of sauce.


The cranberry crumble recipe is inspired by a recipe for Fruit-Filled Oatmeal Bars in The Amish Cook's Family Favorite Recipes by Lovina Eicher (Rodale, 2013).

The cranberry sauce recipe is from Thanksgiving by Williams-Sonoma (Simon & Schuster Source, 2001).

Pin It Now!