Posted in Gather Together

The Party is STILL On!

Macandcheese

I love food. I love to shop for it, prepare it, and eat it. My daughter who also likes food, calls us recreational cooks. We do it for relaxation as well as for creativity. The only downfall of enjoying this activity the way we do is unwanted weight gain.

Recently, I had to make the decision to do something about it, so I joined Weight Watchers. I have used the program before with great results and I anticipate the same this time. The beauty of this particular way of eating is everything is still permissible. Nothing is eliminated. I can continue to enjoy creating wonderful things to eat. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

The party is STILL on in the kitchen.

(Oh, by-the-way, I’ve lost twelve pounds so far.)


Here is something I tried recently that was very delicious and great for any gathering. It works for anyone who loves the comfort of Mac and Cheese.  (Except, maybe, those who only like the kind that comes in the box.)

Enlightened Cheesy Mac with a Twist

Serves Main Dish 4; Side 8

Ingredients
• 1 teaspoon olive oil, or your choice
• 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, I used panko
• 1 20-ounce package of peeled and cut-up butternut squash
• ¾ cup vegetable broth
• 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, I used reduced-fat
• 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
• 2 tablespoons cream cheese, I used light cream cheese
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 4-ounces small pasta shells, 1 ¼ cups
• 2 cups small cauliflower florets

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.
3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat oil and add breadcrumbs. Toast until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
4. Add squash to boiling water. Cover and return to boil. Cook uncovered until squash is very tender, about 10 minutes.
5. While squash is cooking, combine broth, cheddar, pecorino, cream cheese, mustard, salt and cayenne in blender. When squash is very tender, use slotted spoon to transfer it to blender. Purée. (Leave water in pan.)
6. Bring water bake to a boil. Add pasta and cook ½ the time called for in cooking instructions on package.
7. Add cauliflower to pasta during last minute of cooking time.
8. Drain pasta and cauliflower and return to pot.
9. Stir purée into pasta/cauliflower mixture. Toss to coat.
10. Spread pasta mixture in prepared pan. Sprinkle with toasted panko breadcrumbs. Spray with nonstick spray.
11. Bake until top is golden, and casserole is bubbling, about 25 minutes.

Note: Herbs, such as fresh thyme, can be added to the breadcrumbs during the toasting. Also, a little drizzle of truffle oil just before baking can elevate the yumminess of this dish. Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Weight Watchers. 1 ¼ cup serving equals 7 Smart points when using reduced-fat cheeses.

I think that the butternut/cheese purée could be used for a variety of recipes that include a cheese sauce. I am thinking of trying it with a Chicken and Broccoli Casserole or even a Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Do you have any suggestions? I would love to hear them.


Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.

Guy Fieri

 

Posted in Warm the Soul

Take the Chill Off

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Soup weather is upon us. This delicious lentil dish is just the thing. The curry seasoning are sure to warm you up on a cold day. It is one of those fall into the comfort food category for me. I took it to a gathering recently and it was gobbled right up, but if you find yourselves with leftovers, it tastes even better the next day.


Curried Lentils with Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped, 1 32-ounce chicken broth
  • 1 pound peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, I used light
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in broth, squash, curry powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne.
  4. Bring broth to a boil, then adjust heat and simmer until squash begins to soften, about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in lentils. cook until lentils begin to fall apart, and vegetables are tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  6. Stir in coconut milk and heat through.
  7. Add spinach just before serving and allow to wilt.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.

Marge Kennedy

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Dumping Dinner

Dinner Party? Why Yes!

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This past week was SOUPer Friday.

“What one earth is that?” you may ask. Well, it is a gathering of friends who get to together to enjoy each others company, share a meal, and talk about what they share a passion for. (See more here.) I was inspired long ago by a story of a women who repaid her friends’ dinner invites by bringing them all together for a meal in her home. Her menu? Bean soup. It was cheap and could feed a crowd. I combined this idea with another story I heard of a couple who hosted concerts in their New York apartment and invited their friends who enjoyed the fine arts. They also shared a meal as well as something they had a passion for—the arts.

My dinners have kept the soup idea but our reason for gathering is to hear from mission workers who practice their calling locally as well as a round the world. It’s a marvelous night of good news. This month we heard of a local ministry helping those with special needs, outreaches using the arts in Germany, prevention of human trafficking in India and Thailand, and upcoming opportunities to help the homeless in Mexico. Every month is different and the reports of positive action bring hope to those who hear the stories.

If you are local to the Victor Valley in California, feel free to join us. Contact me directly for more information or join our Facebook page SOUPer Friday.


One of last week’s soup offerings was Mexican-Style Beef and Hominy Stew. It was delicious. All the ingredients can be dumped into a crockpot in the morning and by suppertime you will have something pretty delicious.

Mexican-Style Beef and Hominy Stew

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15.5 ounce can hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Directions

  1. Dump all ingredients into crock pot, leave ground beef in one large piece.
  2. Cook on low 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.
  3. When finished, use a potato masher, break up ground meat into bite-sized pieces.
  4. serve with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.
  5. Enjoy!

All ingredients can be put into a gallon zipper bag and frozen for a later cooking date. to cook—dump frozen meal into crockpot and follow cooking times.


 

People want real, flavorful food, not some show-off meal that takes days to prepare.

chef Ted Allen

 

 

 

Posted in Matters of the Heart, Warm the Soul

Warm and Comforting

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My kids that are local are coming for dinner tonight so I thought I would whip up a pot of Pumpkin Chili. Pumpkin may seem like an odd addition to you soup pot but in this recipe, it adds richness making it very hearty and comforting. For those eating less/no meat or avoiding gluten in their diet, it is a dish that satisfies. Enjoy

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15-ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 15-ounce can corn
  • 12-ounce beer or 1 1/2 water (for gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in spices and garlic. cook another minute or two until spices are fragrant, stirring often.
  4. Add tomatoes and pumpkin. whisk to combine.
  5. Stir in black beans, corn, beer or water, and salt and pepper.
  6. Reduce heat to low, simmer covered for at least 30 minutes, stirring often. The longer it cooks, the more flavor develops, so feel free to get started in the morning for a day full of the comforting smell of something yummy for dinner.

 

Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable.

Ina Garten

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Baked Perfection, Matters of the Heart

Fond Food Memories

https://thepartysinthekitchen.me/2017/09/30/fond-food-memories/

My daughter called today and requested a recipe this morning. “You know, that yummy cake you used to bake when I was little.” This one was a family favorite for sure. It’s from an old cookbook, The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, that still resides on my bookshelf. It is without a cover, well used (especially the page with the applesauce cake), and reminds me of days gone-by. It was fun to pull it out and reminisce a bit.

Applesauce Cake

Ingredients
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions
1. Mix oil and sugar well.
2. Add applesauce and remaining ingredients. Beat until smooth.
3. Pour into 8-inch baking pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
This cake is even better the next day so you might want to get started. Yumminess awaits. Enjoy!

“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.”
Joseph B. Wirthlin

 

Posted in Main Dish

Indian Tacos

thepartysinthekitchen.me
Footloose and fancy free,

my husband and I are on the road. We’ve decided to start a new chapter in our lives that will not include a 9 to 5, but will allow us to be more involved in the things that speak to our hearts. But first, a road trip. We have had our granddaughter with us for the summer and we are now delivering her back to her parents in Oklahoma. We have had a great summer, and these last few days will be no exception. We will be camping (in our tiny home on wheels a.k.a. travel trailer) along the way and enjoying a few of the sights. Tonight, we are sleeping in Gallup, New Mexico. All day along the highway, I kept seeing signs for Indian fry bread which inspired a dinner of Indian Tacos.

I’m not sure what the traditional recipe is. I just know what my mom, who lived in Oklahoma for the last twenty-five years of her life used to make. They included the same fixings as regular tacos– seasoned ground meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Whatever you like really. The only difference is instead of a tortilla, everything is piled on top of a crispy fry bread. Oh man, is it yummy. Since we were on the road, I used canned biscuits that I rolled out, then fried in about ½ inch of hot oil. You can do the same or try the following recipe.


Indian Fry Bread

Ingredients
• 3 cups All-purpose Flour
• 1/2 teaspoon Salt
• 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
• 1 1/3 cup water. Can use part milk if desired.
• Vegetable Shortening or Lard for Frying
Instructions
1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.
2. Add the water and mix/knead the dough until soft.
3. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.
4. Separate dough into small balls about the size of a lime. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness.
5. Fry in deep fryer or skillet with 1-2 inches of oil/shortening/lard until golden.
If you’re not having Indian Tacos, a little sprinkle of cinnamon sugar or drizzle of honey makes a very sweet treat.


This much I know. If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.
Ratatouille

 

Posted in Dumping Dinner, Main Dish, Slow Cooking

Dumping Dinner: Three Packet Pot Roast

thepartysinthekitchen.me

It’s been a while since I posted a Dumping Dinner recipe. Here’s one for the comfort food category. My daughter, Genny, recently posted it on Facebook, and it reminded me of its yumminess. You can cook it up now, or put it in the freezer for later. Hope it makes you week go a little smoother.


Three Packet Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 3 pound chuck roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 1 packet Italian dressing mix
  • 1 packet brown gravy mix.

Directions

  1. Mix the three packets and 1 cup water. Pour over roast in the crock pot.
  2. Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
  3. Enjoy!

For the freezer:

  1. Mix it all together and freeze it in a gallon size bag.
  2. Remove from bag and put in crock pot straight from the freezer.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours.

“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.”

Julia Child