Thursday, March 28, 2013

Truly Healthy Shepherd's Pie

Truly Healthy Shepherds Pie

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Okay, maybe it's a couple weeks late, but whatever...  Darren and I love rich, fatty foods in the late winter.  However, being on the wedding DIET, we really needed to focus on eating healthy.  Looking at that big pile of buttery mashed potatoes over the meaty, gravy-y goodness (gravy-y??) made us really crave some shepherds pie!  It also made me sick to my stomach to think of the amount of calories!  This pie is rich and filling without being overly fattening.  I subbed out the mashed potatoes for a garlicky, rich cauliflower mash and I decided to toss out the gravy and sub in some tasty low fat cream soup.  It's still absolutely delicious and, for a substantial serving, it's only around 400 calories!  So indulge on, you Irish, not so Irish, and wish you were Irish!  Eat the Blarney out of it!!

Shepherds Pie with Cauliflower Mash

For the Mash:

1 Head fresh cauliflower (about a pound of the "meat"- not including the leafy part)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp margarine or smart spread
1/4 c low fat milk
salt and pepper

For the Pie:

1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey (I use turkey)
3 c fresh chopped veggies (whatever you like!  I take this opportunity to clean out my produce drawer.  Sugar snap peas, green beans, carrots, onion, celery, broccoli, even a bit of leftover cauliflower!)
1 can condensed low fat cream of "whatever" soup (I used celery, but you can pick mushroom, chicken, broccoli...)
1 tbsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

Cut the cauliflower away from the leafy greens.  Chop it up however you want, it'll all get blended up anyway.  Toss it into some boiling water and cook it until it's tender, about 5-7 minutes.  drain it and toss it in a blender.  Add the garlic powder, margarine, and milk.  Blend to desired texture.  season with salt and pepper. (Hint: if it's not blending well, add more milk then boil it off later)  Set the mash aside.  Don't feel bad if you eat half of it while you're waiting for the rest to be done, I know I wanted to!

In a large deep skillet, saute the ground meat until fully cooked.  Set that aside.  In the same skillet, cook the veggies on medium to low heat until tender.  Don't cook them all the way or they'll turn to mush during the baking process.  return the meat to the pan and add the cream of "whatever" soup.  Mix until well incorporated.  Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a 9x9 glass baking dish or 9 inch round Corningware, spray a little bit of cooking spray.  Layer in the meat/veggie/cream/awesome then top it with whatever mash you didn't eat while you were waiting.  Place it in the oven and bake until the top is a little browned and the filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool a little and set up before serving.  Serves 4 as a one pot meal, serves 6 as a side dish.  


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Roasted Chicken Breast With Balsamic Heirloom Tomatoes

A Perfect Dinner Dish for Two
This Dinner is something i came up with when my mom was in town from Illinois.  I wasn't sure what to make on her last night but I did have tomatoes and chicken.  I always keep a large amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar in my cupboard!  After my brother Ian, the picky eater, said he liked it (and he doesn't even like tomatoes!) I decided to tweak it a bit and make it perfect! I added garlic and basil and sauteed the chicken first to make it the "just right" dinner for myself and Darren.  Enjoy!

This dish is very homey, rich and acidic.  After roasting, the tomatoes become like a coarse sauce to spoon over the chicken.  You may find yourself looking for more tomatoes to sop up with the chicken!  I like to serve it with my favorite herb fingerling potatoes, but you can simply serve it with a crisp herb salad for a lighter option! 

2 boneless, skinless half chicken breasts (around a pound)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, chunked
Fresh basil, torn
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more
balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium sautee pan, brown the garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil, about 2 minutes.  Add the onion.  Sautee for another 4 minutes, until the onions begin to become transluscent.  Don't caramelize the onions or they will not flavor the tomatoes!  Remove the onions and garlic and set  aside.   In the same pan, quickly brown the chicken breasts on both sides, just to give the outside some color.  In an 8"x 11" glass oven dish, scatter the tomato chunks.  Lightly drizzle more olive oil over top.  Layer on the onion mixture.  Drizzle the top with balsamic vinegar.   Nestle the browned chicken deep in the tomatoes.  Pop it in the oven, just under the middle rack, and roast for 40 minutes, until the chicken temperature reaches 160.  



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Raspberry Chipotle Black Bean Dip (So Long Copycat Recipe)

A Kansas State Tradition: 
Raspberry Chipotle Black Bean Dip

My fiancee, Darren, attended Kansas State University; as well as many of his family members.  His Uncle even owns the well known Campus Hairstyling, a little barber shop located in downtown Manhattan, KS.  This has become a favorite spot of mine in the state, and it's served as the platform of many great memories.

** The first time I heard of this dish (most famously featured at Manhattan, Kansas favorite, "So Long Saloon"), I thought, Erhmagersh, that sounds awful!... Modern Family Star Eric Stonestreet, a K-State alum, said it best when he asked what he should order when we were seated next to him at the So Long.  We suggested he order the famous dip and he looked at it and said, 'that looks like what's going to come up tomorrow morning, not what I should be eating tonight!' He's a great guy in person, so long as you don't underestimate the Wildcats when they play the Kansas Jayhawks.  When I thought that it was a little optimistic that the Wildcats would hold the Jayhawks to only 7 points, he proceeded to look at me and say, "Who're You?!"  Darren's brother said "Oh, she's from Ohio." Mr. Stonestreet proceeded to make a face and jokingly wave me off!  A great memory I will always cherish, my first celebrity shunning!**

The dip, once stirred after cooking, looks like a creamy mixture resembling the K-State powercat purple.  It's got the rich cheese taste and sweet raspberry sauce with just enough bite to  keep you coming back for more!  Great hot or cold! Try it at your next family get together or sporting event!

Here's how it goes...

1- 8 oz package Cream Cheese
1- can Black Beans, drained
1- Small Onion, diced
2 tbsp- Butter
Pinch- Cumin
Pinch- Kosher Salt
Pinch- Black Pepper
4 tbsp- Raspberry Chipotle Sauce(I use Bronco Bob's)
Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a saucepan, heat butter, add onions, and saute until translucent and browned.  Add to a mixing bowl with the cream cheese and mix.  Set aside.  In a separate saucepan, pour in the black beans.  Sprinkle in a pinch of cumin, salt, and pepper.  Mix until hot, being careful not to mush the beans.  In an oven safe dish, place the cream cheese mixture into the center. Spread the beans around the perimeter of the cheese. Using a spoon, make a dent in the cheese.  Pour the raspberry sauce in the dent.  Dust the top with a thin layer of shredded pepper jack.  Place the dish in the oven until cheese is melted and the dip is heated through (about 10-15 mins).  Mix ingredients together or serve as is.  Turn on the game and wait for Darren to start shouting.

(For Darren, and of course, Mr. Stonestreet)

Love, Lura 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Winter Survival Kit Gift Baskets

"Winter Survival Kit"

This craft is super easy, takes only a few minutes, and costs only about $25 dollars to make!  I made one for each of my friends this Christmas, as well as one for my work party!  Perfect for the person who likes a little of everything!

This basket is full of things that anyone could need for a long winter ahead!  I made my baskets with virtually the same stuff, with a few variations. 

You'll Need:
1 Medium seasonal basket 
1 Throw Blanket
1 Pair of Cozy Socks
1 Mug (cocoa optional)
Lip Balm
Hand Sanitizer
A Game of some sort (I chose Uno, Scrabble Slam, and even a Hello Kitty Coloring book with crayons!)
You'll Also need a pair of scissors, colored construction paper, string, and a metallic permanent marker.

Here's what to do:
Cut the paper into square tags.  
Next, take your marker and write cute and clever things on the tags to describe the things in the basket. (i.e. "For when you're snowed in" for the games, and "To keep the winter bug away" on the sanitizer).
Then, attach the tags to each item and place them in the basket.  
Give them to someone you love!

Next time you're in a pinch and need a gift idea, just get them everything!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
<3 Love, Lura <3

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Roll

Growing up, my grandma always made the best pumpkin roll... It was always around for thanksgiving and Christmas, and was always just as much a tradition as trimming the tree and letters to Santa.  I remember making a mess of my hands while deconstructing my slice so I could lick off the cream cheese filling before scarfing down the moist pumpkin cake.  Two years ago, I had my dad email me grandma's recipe.  It's become somewhat of a new tradition to make it in my house and take to work and family gatherings here in Ohio.  I know I will carry on this tradition and pass it on to my future family...

The Holidays are upon us once again!  Of course, the star of any holiday meal is the turkey or ham, but the winner for supporting role will always be dessert!  This recipe has been a much coveted one, as it is by FAR the **BEST** pumpkin roll ever!

The best thing about this recipe? Once you make it the first time, you'll be able to recreate it over and over again.  This is why I make 3 or 4 at a time.  The downside?  You have to make it batch by batch, so you can't just make one big bowl of batter; otherwise you'll end up with one cake too thick and one cake that's mostly filling... (Not that that's a bad thing...) Anyway, the batter is the first part.  get it smooth, and get the pumpkin mixed well with the egg.


The most important tool in this recipe is definitely your tea towels.  Sometimes you can find them under the name "flour sack towels".   Luckily, the Landoll family threw Darren and I a wedding shower last month so we have a wealth of them around the house!  Make sure they are LINEN towels, not terrycloth (there's nothing worse than a lint-filled cake!)...

This recipe has a very short cooking time, which makes up for the amount of steps involved.  Grease the pan, lay the wax paper, grease the wax paper, yadda yadda... In the short 15 minute baking time, you won't have time to mix the filling until the cake is rolled!!  Although the steps seem silly, it makes perfect sense when you're trying to get the cake out of the jelly roll pan!

Cooling time in the towels will give you ample opportunity to make the filling.  **Beware of one thing: DO NOT OVERWORK THE FILLING!  This will make it soupy!!**  The rolling in the towel is very important; have you ever tried to roll a cool cake?  Not pretty. Once it's cool, unroll it, fill it, and roll it back up! (without the towel, of course!)

Grandma's Homemade Pumpkin Roll 
3 eggs
1c sugar
2/3c canned pumpkin (solid pack)
3/4c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp margarine, softened
3/4 tsp vanilla
1c powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a jelly roll pan, line with wax paper, and grease again.  Mix cake ingredients.  Pour and spread evenly in pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, until browned.  Remove from oven, turn over onto LINEN tea towel.  Remove wax paper, roll up in towel.  Allow to cool for 45-60 minutes.  
(Keep filling refrigerated until ready to use) Mix filling well, taking care not to over work it.  Unroll cake and spread on filling.  Re-roll cake and chill or freeze to allow the filling to set.  Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

& Betty Abbott

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Recipe Mac 'n' Cheese

Mom's Famous Mac 'n' Cheese

Eating this pasta makes me think of home.  It makes me think of growing up and having it with fish sticks or hot dogs carved out to look like little puppies with mustard eyes and macaroni ears.  Food is something I feel needs to be shared, to be passed on throughout the generations.  Share this recipe with your family, just like my great grandmother taught her daughter, who taught her daughter, who taught me...

Mom came to town to visit this week and decided she would make my brother's favorite dish of hers (and one of mine as well), macaroni and cheese.  I know, sounds simple, right?  But there's just something that says home about melted cheese over starchy pasta with just a bit of crusty crunch on top.  (Mmmmm... drool...)  She revealed to me that this recipe was taught to her mother by my namesake, my great grandma Lura. Also, apparently, the only thing my grandma could cook properly!!  Of course, I just HAD to put it into the blog.  

So overall, this is a pretty easy dish to make.  Cook some pasta *I like rotini, mom likes the old fashioned stuff* Put some cheese in, pour milk, garnish, and bake until it's done. or in my case, until the top burns just a little... mmmmmm, brown pasta....

Two Cheese Macaroni And Cheese Bake

1 1/2 lbs Pasta, cooked
1 c Colby Cheese, cut into 1" cubes
1 c Velveeta Cheese, cut into 1" cubes
2 c Milk, heated
Salt and Pepper, to taste
8 tbsp Butter or Margarine

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large casserole dish, spray nonstick cooking spray.  Cook pasta and drain well.  Pour pasta into prepared dish.  Take the cheese cubes and push them slightly into the pasta, so they're not just sitting on top.  Heat the milk in the microwave, and pour into the bottom of the casserole dish.  Season the top with salt and pepper.  Using the flour, create a heavy dusting on top of the pasta.  Dollop the butter on, about a tablespoon at a time.  (This makes the top crunchy!)  Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top is golden brown and crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbling.  


Lura A.,
Paula D.,
Grace W., and
Lura P.