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Easy Creamed Spinach

How do you get your family to eat their spinach? You add cheese of course and make it creamy. This recipe is so simple. My mom made something similar and I followed her footsteps in my way. Mr.Picky likes it which is huge so give it a try.

This may seem like a lot of spinach but if you have ever cooked fresh spinach before you know how it shrinks.  Just think they think they are eating a little spinach when it is actually a cup or two of fresh.  Sneaky little trick.  As far as how much garlic to use that all depends on how much you like garlic.  We are all garlic lovers so I added 3 cloves.

Next time I make it I might try adding a Tbs or so of minced shallot which I think would add a lot of depth.  A splash of cooking sherry would brighten the dish as well.  Stay tuned for updates to an already great recipe.

Easy Creamed Spinach:

  • 1 1/2 pounds, washed baby spinach (whole or coarsely chopped)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 Tbs cream cheese
  • 2 Tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

In a medium sauté pan heat oil over medium/high heat.  Add in the garlic and sauté about 30 seconds until fragrant.

Easy Creamed Spinach

Add in spinach and continue to stir until wilted.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the cream cheese until melted and then sprinkle with parmesan until it all comes together.

Easy Creamed Spinach


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Broccoli Quinoa Bake

Broccoli Quinoa BakeI made broccoli quinoa bake as a meatless meal last night.  We loved it, in fact I am already thinking of endless quinoa bake ideas.  Mr.Picky was not around to try it but I think he would tolerate it.  We ate it as a main dish because quinoa is full of protein and we had plenty of broccoli in it.  It would also make a great side dish accompanying any meat really.

Think of it as an easy risotto.  Don’t let the broccoli and quinoa fool you.  We combined both healthy ingredients with some cheese to come up with a family edible solution.

I had inspiration from many recipes I found but I ended up revamping the recipe to my taste.  I made a white sauce by scratch with pulled the whole thing together.  The fat content in other recipes seemed extremely high to me and I reduced that and all turned out well.  Give it a try, it is a great dish to test quinoa out on the family.  I just told them it was rice.

Broccoli Quinoa Bake:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 chicken bullion cube
  • 1 tsp Morton Nature’s Seasoning
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded blended cheese (Colby,cheddar, or mozzarella)
  • 1 green onions,chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli, steamed until tender and chopped
  • 2 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top

Bring quinoa, water, and dash of salt to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa looks like it has white tails.  Fluffy with a fork and set aside to cool slightly. (You can skip this step and use leftover cooked quinoa about 1 1/2-2 cups worth).

While the quinoa is cooking steam up the broccoli or use frozen and thaw.  Either way coarsely chop the broccoli.

In a saucepan you are going to make a white sauce or base soup to pull the whole dish together.  Combine 1 cup cold milk and 1 Tbs cornstarch.  Whisk until smooth and continue to heat over medium heat.  At this point you can add the chicken bouillon, salt, 1/4 tsp pepper to taste, dash of nutmeg and to season I added Morton Nature’s Seasoning (see link to create your own).  Continue until starting to thicken, make sure and taste your seasoned sauce.

Cream of whatever or white soup.

Cream of whatever or white soup.

(In substitute to the white sauce you could use a can of cream of mushroom, cream or chicken, or cream of celery soup.  You can also add in mushrooms to the white sauce or any other vegetable you desire)

Now to put it all together in a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa, cooked broccoli, the white sauce, 1 green onion chopped, shredded cheese, and mayonnaise.  Stir until well combined.

Broccoli Quinoa Bake

Pour into a lightly greased 1 1/2 or 2 quart baking dish.  Spread evenly and sprinkle with 2 Tbs parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until bubbly and cheese is starting to brown.

Broccoli Quinoa Bake

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Artichoke Crusted Chicken

This is the second time I have made artichoke crusted chicken | Sugarlaws.  Mr.Picky does like artichoke hearts so I knew this would be a hit.  So glad I tried the recipe but from the ingredients alone how could it go wrong.  Not to mention it was simple to put together and pop in the oven in no time.

With a big green salad, artichoke crusted chicken completed our meal.  It is tasty and moist, not to mention another recipe that you can make with chicken.  Since we don’t eat a lot of red meat we are big chicken and turkey eaters.  Variety allows us to explore our tastes.

I think if I did anything different it would be to reduce the amount of mayo as it seemed a bit over the top.  I think I said the same thing last time and forgot the change the recipe.  I am reducing the amount below so I hope it turns out wonderful.

Artichoke Crusted ChickenArtichoke Crusted Chicken:

  • 2 chicken breast, split to make a 4 filets
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated white cheddar or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbs parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Salt and pepper chicken and sauté in 1 Tbs oil on medium/high heat for about 5-7 minutes.  Flip once until juices run clear.  Set chicken aside in a baking dish.

Mix together mayo, artichoke hearts, and cheese. Evenly distribute and spread over chicken.

Artichoke Crusted Chicken

Broil at 400 degrees for about 3-5 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Artichoke Crusted Chicken

Baked Chicken Quinoa Spinach Meatballs

I was totally inspired by Baked Turkey Quinoa Spinach Meatballs recipe.  Unfortunately I only had ground chicken and adjusted the seasonings and quantities according.  I was also tight on time so I stuffed the meat into my small muffin pan to make a larger meatball/loaf/muffin.

To me the flavor was great, although I believe it needed a bit more moisture.  Serving it with ketchup was better.  The leftovers are going into some spaghetti which will work better.  By adding an extra egg or a bit of applesauce would probably solve this problem.  If you are serving in a sauce this recipe is probably fine as it is.  Kids both enjoyed these healthy meatballs.

After preparing my spaghetti sauce in the crock pot which cooks all day along with the leftover meatballs it was amazing.  I didn’t feel the need to eat any noodles with it.  We all just had a yummy bowl of meatballs with a tomato sauce which included fresh tomatoes out of our garden.  With a bit of green beans and potatoes on the side we had a well-balanced meal.

Chicken Quinoa Spinach Meatballs:chicken quinoa spinach meatballs

  •  20 oz. ground chicken
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (all I had was quinoa and wild rice mix)
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 Tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • dash sriracha or hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with your hands.  Mix until consistent throughout.

Chicken quinoa spinach meatballs

Either roll into meatballs and place on a foil lined sheet pan or press into muffin tins for mini meatloaf.

chicken quinoa spinach meatballs

Bake at 450 degrees for about 20-30 minutes depending on size of meatball.

Enjoy plain or with sauce!!!

Zucchini Fries

I made these zucchini fries multiple times and I love them.  As I kids I often ate fried zucchini.  Fried zucchini was similar but used crackers as breading and the rounds were fried in oil.  This figure friendly version is just as good.  Plus all the zucchini fries are done cooking at once.  Much easier for the cook how never gets to eat because they are cooking the  dinner.

We served the fries with ketchup or homemade healthier ranch dressing to dip.

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries:

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into fry size pieces
  • 2-3 Tbs flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

First place sliced zucchini in a large colander in the sink and sprinkle with 1-2 Tbs salt.  Allow to sweat out any moisture for at least 30 minutes.  Rinse clean and pat dry.

Zucchini Fries

 

Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl (large enough for each piece of zucchini to fit down into) beat eggs with about 1 Tbs water.

In a pie pan combine bread crumbs, cheese, and seasoning mix until combined.

Sprinkle towel dried zucchini sticks with 1-2 Tbs flour, this will help the coating stick to the zucchini.

Zucchini Fries

 

Dip 2-3 sticks at a time into egg and then into bread crumbs.  One hand is wet for the egg dipping and the other hand is dry to dip into the bread crumb mixture.

Continue dipping each stick and place them on the prepared sheet pan until you are finished.

Lightly spray the fries with a bit of grapeseed or olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, flipping the fries halfway through. Enjoy!

World’s Best Lasagna

World's Best LasagnaA few years ago I found World’s Best Lasagna Recipe – Allrecipes.com, I knew it must be good enough to try.  After I made this recipe I knew I would forever make this recipe.  We are not huge fans of red sauce, especially Mr.Picky.  The funny part is that the sauce recipe was almost exactly how I make my spaghetti sauce.

When the special occasion arises to eat lasagna, this is the recipe I make.  I say special occasion for a few reasons lasagna is expensive to make, it makes so much for just our little family, it is incredible rich, and I over eat when I make it so I have to pace myself.

If you want a no fail recipe this is the one.  I have reduced the salt from the original recipe and I will sometimes add a layer of spinach if I have fresh baby spinach on hand.  I have even grated carrots and zucchini up and added it to my sauce with no complaints.  One day I might grate eggplant into it which I think would be wonderful.

I also discovered you cook the sauce in a slow cooker instead and throw together the lasagna a day or two ahead but it is a one dish meal.  I try to serve a good vegetable with it and garlic bread if we have company.  You can also freeze any leftovers and pull it out for a later time.

The recipe calls for a 9 x 13″ baking dish, just be warned it will be full if you are using a 2″ deep pan like most.  I borrow my mother in-laws deep casserole dish usually or I reserve some sauce for a different meal.  Somehow I always end up with way too much sauce, probably because sometimes I use a bigger can of tomato sauce instead of the two small ones.  If you use the exact measurements you should be fine, I know it came out right the first time.  I think I just add this and that and it all adds up to extra.  But two meals for the price of one sounds good to me.  This time I saved aside about 3 cups of extra sauce and threw some frozen meatballs in for meatball subs.

World’s Best lasagna:

  • 1 lb. sweet or spicy Italian sausage
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 oz. can) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz. can) tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 oz. can) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 fennel seed
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb. mozzarella, sliced
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

 

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Or place it all in a slow cooker and turn to low for about 4 hours.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.   Or use my favorite no boil noodles which to me taste better.  I believe they are 16 noodles to a box and are smaller, so use them all.  You can moisten them by allowing them to sit in water for about 5 minutes before using.  This will insure the noodles will not dry out.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  If you are putting the lasagna together ahead of time, skip this step.

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

First Layer of Lasagna

First Layer of Lasagna

 

Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!



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Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Pasta used to be a favorite food of mine.  Over the last five years my tastes have changed and it just is not something I crave anymore.  I do love a good alfredo sauce.   When I can across this recipe The Comfort of Cooking » Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo I thought, why not.  It turned out great, couldn’t even tell I was eating squash.  The texture was exactly like angel hair pasta, which happens to be my favorite.  This will definitely be the way I substitute any pasta dish from now on.

Cooked up the spaghetti squash for me and some noodle for the family.  I cheated and used a jarred alfredo but this alfredo recipe link is just as easy.  There was a jar in the cupboard that needed to be used so I thought I better not waste it.

Spaghetti Squash AlfredoSpaghetti Squash Alfredo:

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • Jar of Alfredo sauce or use Alfredo Recipe
  • 2 Tbs of Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh Parsley, garlic and herb seasoning or red pepper flakes, to garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare squash by cutting in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.  Scoop out seeds and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet covered with water.  Bake until tender, about an hour.

Once squash is cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the squash strand into the center.

Spoon desired amount of squash on each half and toss the spaghetti squash strands until coated.

Top with parmesan cheese and place under broiler for 2-3 min. until bubbly.  Garnish with parsley flakes or pepper, and serve hot.

*You can also cook and prep the squash ahead of time (I did).  Finish it off by adding sauce and cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until hot.

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