Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Crispy Spiced Potatoes

My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of a guy. We don't eat them everyday, but we do eat them. And we all enjoy them. And who doesn't need another potato side dish in their life? I've been making these crispy spiced potatoes for years. They whip up quickly and pair well with lots of tasty meals. The original recipe comes from my mom's handy dandy recipe binder that she gave me a copy of a long time ago. I've adapted them a little since then to make them just the way I like them. 

Crispy Spiced Potatoes
Printable Recipe

*Serves 6-8

8-10 small/medium potatoes, about 2-3 lbs. (red, yukon gold or russets all work well)
1/4 Cup olive oil
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
1 tsp. onion powder
pinch cayenne (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and slice potatoes into 1 to 1-1/2" pieces, leaving skins on. For small potatoes, I like to quarter the potatoes, and then cut each section into the desired length. For medium potatoes I usually cut the potato in half, then cut each half into thirds lengthwise, and then cut each piece into sections. Place sliced potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Heat potatoes over high heat, cover and let boil for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, minced garlic cloves, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder and cayenne (if desired) and mix well.

When potatoes have boiled for 10 minutes, drain them well and then toss with the oil and seasoning mixture. Lay them out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com, adapted from a recipe from my Mom's recipe binder

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winter Honey-Lime Fruit Salad

We had some friends over for dinner the other night. They expressed a desire not to have a sugary dessert served so I thought instead I would serve this honey-lime fruit salad. They loved it and asked about the "zesty" flavor. I told them about the secret - the lime (or lemon) juice dressing. It really brings out the flavor of the fruit and turns it into something really special.

I call it "Winter honey-lime fruit salad" but I've made it other times of the year also. The winter fruits (like apples and mandarin oranges) really shine out in this salad, but you could easily use peaches and pears for a summer version. Strawberries happened to be on sale the week I made this so I included those and I love the color they add. You could also use kiwis, blueberries, or raspberries. Obviously if you were in a pinch, you could use canned pineapple instead of fresh, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're really in a bind. The fresh pineapple adds something wonderful.

I'm always looking for ways to brighten up winter days this time of the year and this colorful fruit salad is sure to do the trick. On top of that, it's healthy and delicious. A win all around.

Winter Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
Printable Recipe

*Makes 6 1-cup servings

6 Cups Fruit, cut into bite sized pieces (I used 1/4 sliced fresh pineapple, 1/2 lb. sliced strawberries, 3-4 chopped fresh mandarin oranges, 1 chopped golden delicious apple)
Juice of 1-1/2 limes or 1 lemon
2 heaping Tbsp. honey

Wash and chop up fruit into bite sized pieces and place in large bowl. Soften honey (if not already soft). For best results it should be a runny consistency. In a small bowl whisk together lime (or lemon) juice and runny honey. Pour over chopped fruit. Serve immediately or chill for up to 2-3 hours before serving. Best served the same day, if made too far in advance, fruit may get a little soggy.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pressure Cooker Barbecue Chicken

This is another wonderful meal to make in the pressure cooker quickly. And it's comfort food at it's best. I love to make fast, healthy meals that my family loves, and this has been a crowd pleaser every time. By cooking the chicken first in the pressure cooker, it comes out soft and juicy, rather than dry and tough. 

Use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce or make one of your own to use in this recipe. If you want a little stronger BBQ flavor on the chicken, you can discard the cooking liquid and brush the chicken with straight BBQ sauce before broiling. We've done it both ways and both are good, but thickening the cooking liquid does take a bit more time.

Pressure Cooker Barbecue Chicken

*Serves 7 to 9

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 Cup BBQ sauce (your favorite kind)
1/2 Cup + 1-1/2 Tbsp. water, divided
4-5 lbs. chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in), trimmed of fat with skin removed
1/4 tsp. salt + more to taste
1/8 tsp. pepper + more to taste
1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

In a pressure cooker, heat oil over medium heat (or saute' function for electric pressure cookers). Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables soften. Stir in the barbecue sauce and 1/2 cup water. Add the skinless chicken thighs, meaty sides up. Lock the lid in place and cook for 10 minutes at high pressure. When time is up, allow the pressure to naturally release and open the lid. 

Preheat the broiler and grease a broiler pan. Transfer the chicken to the pan and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Place chicken meaty side down on the pan and set aside. 

Meanwhile, bring the cooking liquid in the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine 1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch with 1-1/2 Tbsp. cold water and stir until smooth. Once the barbecue sauce liquid has reached a boil, slowly add about half of the cornstarch mixture and stir until liquid starts to thicken. Add more of the cornstarch mixture if necessary and simmer until barbecue sauce has reached a thick enough consistency. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary to give it more flavor.

When sauce is ready, brush the top side of the chicken with the sauce. Place pan 6 inches from boiler heat and broil until glazed, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, turn the chicken, and brush the other side with sauce. Broil another 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is glazes. Serve chicken hot, with the additional sauce on the side. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from a recipe from Key Ingredient

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lemon Curd {Honey Sweetened}

I've talked before about how different times of the year I crave different foods. I've really started to notice this in the last few years. It's really fascinating to me. In the dead of winter I crave lemons. Not just lemons on their own. And not really lemonade (although I'm sure I wouldn't turn it down if you offered me some freshly squeezed lemonade right now). Mostly I just crave food made from lemons. Happy yellow, bright and lovely, lemon flavored food. Real lemon flavored, not that icky fake lemon flavor. Take this lemon curd, for example. I have totally been craving this for the past week or so. The other day I just held a lemon and smelled it for about an hour and it was so therapeutic. But I haven't stopped thinking about this lemon curd until I finally whipped up a batch today. YUM! I couldn't wait to share it with you because today I perfected my honey sweetened version of lemon curd. Beautifully perfect and perfectly delicious.

Maybe you're asking yourself right now, what in the world would I use lemon curd for? What is it? I was in your same boat a few years ago. Then one day I attended a tea party at my aunt's house where she served hot cocoa  instead of tea (we don't drink tea). But she had all the courses that a real English tea party would have. I love tea parties. And she had lemon curd. And I just basked in it's deliciousness. Served on top of a hot scone. Oh my. Tea party heaven. I can't really describe the taste. Tangy, but sweet. Smooth and melt-in-your-mouthy. So please don't wait until your next tea party to make this lemon curd. Honestly, that may be too far in the future (even if it's tomorrow). This lemon curd is delicious in pies, cute little tarts, trifle, as a filling for cakes, with scones, served with fresh berries, etc. Let your imagination run wild. Or better yet, go make some and stick your finger in it and just lick it to get your winter lemon fix every few minutes. That's what I plan to do.

Lemon Curd {Honey Sweetened}
Printable Recipe

*Makes 1-1/2 Cups

3 large eggs
1/3 Cup honey (or 3/4 Cup white sugar)
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1-1/2 medium lemons)
4 Tbsp. butter, room temperature, chopped into pieces
1 Tbsp. lemon zest (finely grated outer part of lemon)

Heat a large saucepan half filled with water over medium high heat, until it simmers. In a medium stainless steel bowl, whisk the 3 eggs together. Then add the honey (or sugar) and fresh lemon juice. Yes it needs to be fresh. Whisk together until combined. Put this bowl in the pan of simmering water and whisk it constantly until it thickens (like sour cream). This should take about 5-10 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat and stir in 4 Tbsp. butter, chopped into pieces and 1 Tbsp. lemon zest. At this point you can strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer if desired (I like to do this if there are any lumps in it). Then cover with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid getting a skin on the curd. Then cool at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 10 days.

*Variation: If you want a lighter lemon flavor, whip 1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream and gently fold into the curd once it has cooled to room temperature.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Marshmallow Popcorn {Honey Sweetened}

The season of sweets is in full swing around here. I love to make and eat treats right along with the rest of you. And even this time of the year sometimes I try to be a little healthier in the treats that I make. It's great to have yummy options without sugar that are still delicious and special to this time of the year. Today I want to post a wonderful little honey-sweetened discovery that I made the other day. This recipe is truly my own discovery, but it was born by joining together other people's ideas. That is usually how wonderful discoveries are made anyways, isn't it? 

The recipe idea started when I ran across this recipe for honey sweetened marshamallows. Yes I've made them on several occasions and they are tasty little wonders. Then two years ago around Christmas a lady in our neighborhood brought us the most wonderful popcorn you've ever tasted. It tasted like caramel corn, but so much better. Not hard and teeth-breaking, but soft and chewy and I loved it. So I begged the recipe from her and she brought it by and the main ingredient was marshmallows. I began to wonder and dream (like for a few years) if I could combine the two wonderful recipes to make a honey sweetened version of that yummy marshmallow popcorn. Well guess what? I finally did it the other day. And it is truly amazing! It's hard to believe that it contains no processed sugar. It's soft and sweet with a wonderful marshmallow-y, vanilla-y flavor. Yum. You'd better make sure to include this one in your holiday treats this year.

Marshmallow Popcorn {Honey Sweetened}

3 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin 
1 Cup cold water, divided
1-1/2 Cups honey, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Cubes butter
1-1/2 to 2 Cups popcorn kernels, popped (or 8-10 quarts popped popcorn)

Put 1/2 Cup of cold water in the bowl of a mixer with attached whisk (or medium-large bowl if mixing with a hand mixer). Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin over the water and set aside to soften. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan add 1 Cup honey, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 Cup water. Heat on medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees (or the soft ball stage). This should take about 7-10 minutes. Then remove from the heat immediately.

Carefully add the hot syrup to the gelatin mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Then add 1 tsp. vanilla and increase speed to high. Beat for 5-10 minutes (or longer), or until the mixture is thick and fluffy. It will look like marshmallow fluff like the picture below.

Marshmallow Fluff
While the marshmallow is mixing, in a large saucepan melt 2 Cubes of butter and 1/2 Cup honey (and get the popcorn popped if you haven't already). Be sure to remove all the un-popped kernels from the popcorn so no one breaks a tooth. Then once the marshmallow fluff is fluffy, add it to the butter-honey mixture in the saucepan and stir until everything is nicely melted together into a white, creamy mixture like the picture below. 

Marshmallow and butter melted together
Then pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and stir until well coated, adding more or less popped popcorn as needed or desired. I found that 8 quarts was maybe not quite sufficient, so you may need a bit more. At this point you can spread the coated popcorn on wax-paper-lined cookie trays until cool. It will get slightly less sticky as it sets up, but you probably won't be able to wait that long. Eat and enjoy.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

Friday, December 5, 2014

Frugal Friday: The Perfect Christmas

I love this season of the year, but I know it can be stressful as we try so hard to create the "perfect Christmas" for our family. What does the perfect Christmas involve? There's that image in our minds of the perfect family together in a beautifully decorated home, all getting along well, and everyone overjoyed with the (very expensive) gifts they were given. I don't know where that image in our minds comes from. I don't know whether it's media's influence, advertising, or what, but it is very real and it's very compelling. It's so easy to spend so much time and money trying to create that, that it's easy to miss what the season is really about. Today I'd like to share with you my vision of what the perfect Christmas is and talk a little about simplifying Christmas for our families to focus on what really matters. I'd love to hear your ideas too.

  1. The Perfect Decorations - The best Christmas decorations are the smiles on your family member's faces as you create wonderful and beautiful Christmas memories together. Because that's what really matters, right? Beyond that the perfect decorations are the decorations you already have. Those timeless decorations that hold memories for the children and tie them to the reason we celebrate Christmas. We don't need picture perfect or magazine showcases as homes. That's not reality. Those wonderful decorations that children make at school every year are simple and beautiful and imperfectly perfect. Paper snowflakes are fun to make together as a family and make the perfect decorations. A snowman in the front yard is a perfect Christmas decoration because it means somebody spent time outside building it. Rather than spending time away from your family buying and trying to create picture perfect homes, why not simplify and spend that time WITH your family? Find ways with your family to build the true spirit of Christmas in your hearts by giving to others.
    One of my favorite Christmas decorations on our tree every year that one of our kids made
  2. The Perfect Gifts - And speaking of giving to others...Giving to others is such an important part of Christmas but oh how it's gotten out of hand, So much is spent ensuring that children are given all of their wildest dreams for Christmas that there is no time left to help children learn to GIVE at Christmas. Yes I'm sure we've all been guilty of it in one way or another. So how do we teach children to give at Christmas (and similarly all year long)? I like to help the children make gifts to give the people they want to give gifts to that year. It takes time and patience, but it's something we've learned to enjoy doing together. We usually come up with one or two simple crafts they can make mostly by themselves with simple materials we mostly already have. Then we help the kids assemble their gifts and wrap them. There is nothing like watching a child excited to give their gifts they made mostly by themselves. Last year my 6-year-old was so excited he couldn't wait for Christmas and had everyone open their gifts from him several weeks early. It was so fun to watch his joy when he saw them discover his gifts. That is what Christmas is all about. 
  3. The Perfect Activities - I've posted about more than 100 frugal family activities you can do for Christmas. It's fun to have an advent calendar where you list what activities you will do each day. If you don't have that kind of time, just pick a few from the list to do every week. Spending time together as a family builds bonds that will last forever. And the holidays are such a perfect time to do that and create wonderful memories and traditions. We love to pick a family or two in our neighborhood that we can serve during the Christmas season. Having children be a part of that is another great way to teach them to give.
Now I'd love to hear from you. What's a wonderful Christmas memory that you have? What things do you do to help simplify Christmas and make it more meaningful?

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season. 

Have a

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Chicken Taco Meat {Electric Pressure Cooker Recipe}

Today I'm sharing another wonderful Pressure Cooker meal that can be made quickly and simply. I love quick and easy dinner meals. This one was fabulous because everyone in my family ate and enjoyed it. The chicken was tender and juicy and full of flavor. I secretly ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. These tacos are delicious served with Cilantro Lime Brown Rice.

Chicken Taco Meat {Electric Pressure Cooker Recipe}
Printed from healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

2 fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt, pepper
1 Cup crushed or diced tomatoes (can use fresh)
1/2 Cup water
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. dehydrated minced onion
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Sprinkle chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in electric pressure cooker. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, water, chili powder, salt, minced onion, paprika, cumin and cornstarch. Pour over the chicken in the electric pressure cooker. Close and lock lid. Cook on high pressure for 17 minutes. Release pressure naturally. Shred chicken with 2 forks. Serve meat in taco shells or with chips in a taco salad.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

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