Friday, March 30, 2012

All-Purpose Marinade

We have been having the most glorious spring weather, and it came super early this year, which means I've been grilling! When I'm in a hurry -- or didn't plan in advance -- I usually just liberally sprinkle whatever hunk of meat I'm grilling with garlic powder, salt and pepper. But when I have the time, I love to infuse the meat with some extra flavor by using a marinade. And this is my go-to marinade.

In the picture below, I used the marinade on chicken breasts, but this marinade would work great on pork chops and steaks ... and veggies, too. Just be sure to marinade the raw meat and veggies in separate containers.

All-Purpose Marinade
Source: Adapted from Food Network Kitchens

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard, whole grain or Dijon
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. garlic powder
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp. salt 
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Close the bag and shake to combine all the ingredients. Open the bag, drop in 1 pound of meat of your choosing. Close and shake the bag to coat evenly. Place the bag in a large bowl in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours. If possible, shake the bag every few hours to redistribute the marinade.

Heat a grill or grill pan. Remove the meat from the bag and dispose of the bag and the marinade. When the grill is hot, place the meat on the grill and cook until cooked through. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes prior to slicing.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Roasted Tri-Color Vegetables

Do you have a recipe that you love to make, and your family loves to eat it, and you just assume that everyone else out there makes it too, because it's just that good and easy? Well, roasted veggies is one of those recipes for me. And just in case you all don't already make this awesome recipe or something similar, I wanted to get it up on my blog.

I know that if I take the time to roast veggies for dinner, my family will gobble them up. The flavor is just that good! Plus, it's just an awesome way to clean out your fridge!

I've used asparagus, red pepper and mushrooms in this recipe, but you can easily adjust it to whatever you like. Broccoli, cauliflower, onions, carrots, etc. all roast well. Just keep in mind that harder vegetables, such as carrots, should probably be sliced thinner than the softer vegetables since they take longer to cook.

Roasted Tri-Color Vegetables
Source: MSPI Mama

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced into bite-size pieces
1 red bell pepper, trimmed and sliced into bite-size pieces
8 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil
Herbs and spices, to taste (See Note.)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the vegetables together in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs, spices, salt and pepper. Toss.

Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a large baking pan. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning, as needed, to taste.

Note: I like to use a healthy sprinkle of garlic powder and Italian seasoning when I roast vegetables, however, you can adapt this recipe to whatever you like or have on hand. Plain Jane? Salt and pepper will work just fine. Feeling spicy? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. There are a lot of flavors you can try. Rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, cumin, etc. Not to mention, there are lots of spice mixtures available at the store that you can try. Have fun with it!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Slow-Cooked Chicken Drumsticks with Lemon & Herbs

Sometimes I come up with a recipe that when I'm done making it, I am absolutely giddy about sharing it with you. I literally have to restrain myself from rushing to the computer to type up a blog post! (Ummmm, doing the dishes first is usually a good idea!) This is one of those recipes! We had it for dinner last night. I know all of you are going to love it!

First, it tastes great. The flavor of the lemon and herbs is just perfect. (It seems like a lot of herbs, but trust me, it's perfect.) Second, it's made in the slow cooker. We love our slow cookers! Third, it's super easy to make. Mix and dump. That's all you have to do. Fourth, it's kid- and husband-approved. Your whole family will love it -- mine did! In fact, it would be great for guests! And finally, it's one of my Quick Start recipes. Absolutely simple and basic ingredients. No soy oil or lecithin in sight!

My favorite part about this recipe is the sauce that is made in the bottom of the slow cooker from the lemon, herbs and drippings. So delicious! Make sure to serve the sauce over rice or some other pasta or grain to soak up every drop.

You could also make this recipe with other cuts of chicken. If you use breasts, just keep in mind that breasts cook very quickly and have the tendency to dry out in the slow cooker, so adjust your cooking time accordingly.

This recipe would double (or even triple, if your slow cooker is big enough) very easily. Buy the huge family pack of chicken drumsticks and cook all of them! You will love the leftovers!

Slow-Cooked Chicken Drumsticks with Lemon and Herbs
Source: MSPI Mama
6-8 skinless chicken drumsticks
1 lemon
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Pat chicken drumsticks dry with a paper towel and arrange in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.

Zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and whisk together. Pour the mixture over the chicken drumsticks. Use a spatula (or your fingers!) to evenly coat all sides of the chicken. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Tip: Drumsticks can be an absolute pain to skin! Don’t worry about completely removing the skin, just make sure you have it pulled back enough to expose the meat to the herb mixture. Once the chicken is cooked, you can easily remove the remaining skin.
Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel

How are you all doing? Me? (Thanks for asking!) I'm doing good, but I have a bad case of writer's block. I have no idea what to write at the top of this post. (And, seriously, how many of you really read this part? I know you're just here for the recipe!) So I'm not going to waste your time. On to the recipe!

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel
Source: Adapted from Epicurious via Nutmeg Nanny

1 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips
⅔ cup (packed) brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1½ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 large egg
1⅓ cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 large)
3 tbsp. rice milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch square metal baking pan or an 8-inch round spring form pan. Stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in small bowl until well blended; set streusel aside.

Sift all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, oil and egg in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in mashed bananas and rice milk. Add dry ingredients and blend well.

Spread half of batter (about 2 cups) in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel. Bake coffee cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool coffee cake in pan on rack before serving.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Basic White Bread for the Bread Machine

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about bread. Specifically, what bread is MSPI-friendly? (FYI: I do address this question in my FAQs.)

If you can eat soy oil/lecithin, then your options are greatly increased, however, for those of you who need to avoid soy oil/lecithin, it's a lot harder! So what I recommend is to get yourself a bread machine. Making bread is so incredibly easy if you have one of these appliances, and the bread tastes so good when it's fresh.

I was fortunate enough to receive one for Christmas -- thanks, Mom and Dad! -- and I just love my Cuisinart bread maker. It's pretty versatile, and I've been getting a lot of use out of it.

If you're wanting to get a bread machine, but don't have the budget for it, consider checking craigslist or put out an SOS to friends and family. I bet someone will be willing to help you out.

This is a good, basic recipe to start with in a bread machine. Who doesn't love white bread? My kids gobbled it up. It's fantastic with a drizzle of honey on it!

Basic White Bread for the Bread Machine
Source: Slightly adapted from Go Dairy Free

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 tbsp. sugar
2¼ tsp. bread machine yeast
¼ cup canola oil
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine that has been fitted with a paddle. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting for a 1½-pound loaf and your preference for light, medium or dark crust. Press Start. 

Once bread has mixed for several minutes, check on the dough and, if needed, scrape down the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. If the dough appears too dry, add a splash of water. If it appears too wet, add a bit of flour. Allow bread machine to finish mixing, rising and baking cycles. Once finished baking, remove bread from the machine and allow to cool slightly before slicing.

Tip: Don't want to use a bread machine? Here are instructions on how to convert bread machine recipes to traditional.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Alphabet Soup

Trying to serve a vegetarian meal to my carnivorous family is no easy task, but every once in a while I can get away with it. And the best chance I have of getting away with it is to serve soup.

This fantastic recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen made my kids squeal with delight! They loved digging around their bowls for their favorite letters. "L" for Libby. "J" and "D" for JD (duh!). My baby Caroline was an equal-opportunity-letter-eater. ;)

And in between all those letters, they also ate their veggies. I was one happy mama!

Alphabet Soup
Source: Slightly adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, tops removed, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup baby carrots, in ½-inch slices
¾ lb. potatoes, peeled then diced into ½-inch pieces
1 tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. dried tarragon
6 cups MSPI-friendly vegetable broth
½ tsp. salt
1 cup alphabet-shaped or other small pasta
1 tsp. sugar
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 cup frozen peas

Preheat a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion and celery in the oil with a pinch of salt until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds or so.

Add carrots, potatoes, thyme, tarragon, vegetable broth and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer, add pasta and cook until pasta and vegetables are soft, about 10 more minutes.

Add sugar, tomato sauce and frozen peas and heat through (5 minutes or so.) Remove from heat. It tastes better the longer you let it sit, but give it at least 10 minutes. Taste for salt and seasoning, and serve.

Tip: This soup is a great way to use up the odds and ends of frozen vegetables you may have lurking in your freezer. Feel free to toss in corn -- if you look hard, you'll see there's some in my picture of the soup -- or green beans, etc.