I have so much to say about the state of the world right now, but I’ll save that for another post.
This post is about brisket. I always get it at BBQ places (the side affect of not eating pork and not liking bone-in chicken) but I never considered making it at home, until all this pandemic drama struck.
We’ve been trying to go to the store only every two weeks, and supplementing with some delivery, including food from a local farm and local butcher. In the last order, I (jokingly?) asked my sister to include 2 lbs of brisket… and thus a meal was born!
This fed the five of us for one meal, though we would have loved to have more for breakfast (and luckily my three week old nephew did not insist on his portion). I will definitely be making it again – maybe even before we leave New Jersey!
- 2 lbs of brisket
- 2 onions, cut into big chunks
- 1 cup broth (I used chicken, most people recommend beef but you could really use anything)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- Cut the onions into big chunks. Lay in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour the broth over the top.
- Place the meat on top – I lay it fat side down. No need to precut or anything, just put the whole piece in!
- Mix together the brown sugar, salt, and mustard in a small bowl, and spoon / spread on the exposed parts of the meat.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours. We cooked for 8 but it could have been removed earlier!
That’s literally it. Save the broth and onions though for more tips below…
To supplement this tastiness, we made a gravy and polenta, and served up some Brussels sprouts and multicolor cauliflower.
For the gravy, slice up mushrooms (we used one small box of baby bellas). Cook them in a nonstick pan (no oil needed) and then spoon in the broth and onions, cooking over medium. Add a teaspoon of corn starch as you go to thicken it up.
And to round it out – we made polenta in the pressure cooker! You simply mix 1 cup polenta with 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer, then close the pressure cooker, bring to pressure, then cook on high for 9 minutes. Manually releases the pressure and add in 1/2 cup of grated cheese – we used parm.
Overall, it was a delicious meal that made our Saturday dinner special, with very little hands-on work. I’ll definitely make this again!
What better way is there to celebrate the Olympics than by
singing to Daft Punk eating the Olympic rings? None. We adapted a classic pineapple upside-down cake to fit into the Olympic spirit, rainbow rings and all. Make your own before the games end on February 23, and let me know how it goes!
Olympic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from good old Betty Crocker)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (slightly less for Olympic version)
- Red, green, and blue food coloring
- 1 can sliced pineapple, drained (will only use 5 rings for Olympic version) – save the juice, too!
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- Pat dry 5 pineapple rings – they don’t have to be too dry, just enough so that the color won’t run. In 4 separate containers, mix one drop of food color with a splash of pineapple juice, then lay one ring of pineapple in each color (red, blue, green, and one with a tiny bit of each to make black). Yellow is just the plain pineapple ring. Don’t flip the rings (since we only want the color on the top), but do move them around the container a bit to get all the dye onto them.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat butter in a 10-inch cake pan.
- While the butter is melting, combine flour through egg in a mixer, and beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Then beat at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as you go.
- Arrange pineapple slices color-side-down in the butter, then sprinkle brown sugar in a thin layer over the remaining butter, so there’s either a pineapple or brown sugar coating the entire base of the pan.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove, and immediately invert over a plate, keeping the pan on top for a few minutes. Remove and reveal your pineapples, then serve warm.
Enjoy with a mug of hot cocoa while cheering on your favorite Olympians.
The best part of making this delicious recipe for Thanksgiving was seeing how incredibly easy it is to toast your own pumpkin seeds. Where has this idea been my whole life?? They’re great for:
- putting on top of stir-frys
- adding to salads
- snacking (dangerous, but good)
- putting on top of a pumpkin pie
With one bag of pumpkin seeds, you can make at least 3 servings of this – plenty of time to try all the combinations you can dream of!
Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- 3/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, coating the seeds with oil and syrup. Pour into a foil-lined pan (rimmed cookie sheets work best, but I just used a baking dish).
- Cook until toasted – about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before enjoying on top of anything and everything you can imagine.
For those nights when you can’t get enough cheese… when you want to use as few pans as possible… when you want leftovers you can eat for a week – this meal is for those nights!
Easy Cheesy Frittata
- 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped into small pieces
- 2 whole eggs, beat
- 8 egg whites
- 2 cups cheese (I used a 4 cheese “Mediterranean” blend of sharp Provolone, feta, Kasseri, and Romano)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved, or two large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Caramelize the onions in a small frying pan, cooking over medium heat with olive oil until golden. Remove from pan and set aside in large bowl.
- Sauté the broccoli in a pan with water until it’s lightly steamed. Add chopped garlic and cook until easily cut with a fork. Add to the bowl with onions.
- Beat the eggs and cheese together, add to the bowl with cooked veggies and chopped tomatoes. Mix together and transfer to large baking dish.
- Cook for 25-30 mins or until cheese is melted and eggs are set. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between!
I am the definition of a breakfast person.
I could eat it three times a day – eggs for breakfast, cereal for lunch, crepes for dinner. Bring me to a diner at any hour and I am 99.9% likely to order hash and poached eggs. I simply can’t live without a good meal to start off my day. But when I combine my love for breakfast with my tendency to hit snooze a million times (right family?), it gets to be an expensive habit that ends up with me stopped in at Dunks on my way to work.
Luckily, I saw this pin the other day and decided to whip up some planned-ahead breakfasts so I could save some money and time in the morning. These tartlets came out great, and in 45 minutes, I was able to pack up 6 healthy breakfasts to eat and freeze for the week ahead.
Quiche Breakfast Tartlets
- 5-8 oz of baby spinach
- 1 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 2 links chicken sausage (optional)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (low-fat preferred, or another kind of shredded cheese works too!)
- 3 eggs and 6 egg whites (I use them from the carton) (alternatively, you can use 5 eggs)
- Dash skim milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a frying pan, heat up 1 tsp olive oil and cook the mushrooms. Cut the chicken sausage into small pieces (1/2 dime sized or so) and add to mushrooms, browning lightly. Remove from pan. Wilt spinach in frying pan. add to mushrooms and sausage.
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Pour into lightly greased muffin tins, making sure that each section has all types of filling as well as some liquid.
- Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until edges are browned and tops are solid. Remove from tins and let sit before freezing/storing.
By the end, you should have 12 muffin-sized crustless quiches (mine actually made 5 mini muffins as well – use it all up!) which are each worth 2 PointsPlus each (I recommend two as one serving). In one travel-sized bite, you have cheese, eggs, meat, and veggies, or as I like to call it “perfection.”
These quiches are super versatile to whatever you have in your kitchen – asparagus and red pepper, cheese and more cheese, garlic and onion, you name it. My recommendation: go light on the fat, especially in the cheese. I only had full fat cheddar around, and these were a little more oily than I would usually eat, but they’re still quite healthy and definitely delicious.
What’s your go-to breakfast food?
There is basically never a time when I don’t want a stuffed artichoke since my college roommate first introduced me to this delicacy. (Hi Jill!) It’s not the fastest thing in the world to make, but it’s completely worth it, especially when you can start eating it before going out with your friends and finish the rest when you come home starving after a night of dancing… if you can stand to not eat it all in one sitting.
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs with Italian seasoning added)
- 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I use jarred but this is about 1 1/2 cloves)
- 2 small to medium artichokes
Stuffing in progress
- Lightly toast bread crumbs in a frying pan – no oil needed. Put water on to boil with a steaming basket big enough to hold your artichokes upright.
- Cut off the top 1/4 (or so) of the artichoke with a knife, and trim the stem except for the last 1/2 inch or so. Fan out the remaining segments of the artichokes and cut off the spiky tips with scissors. You should only need to cut off about the top 1/3 per section but you should make sure you get all the sharp bits even if it means losing a little more of the ‘choke.
- Mix everything else together and start stuffing! Start at the outer pieces and put the bread crumbs as far down in each segment as you can. If you separate the pieces as you go, you should be able to get a good amount in each section. When you get near the middle, keep stuffing – that’s the best part!
- Stand up the artichokes in your steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and cook for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes. Add more water to the pot as needed.
C’est tout! Just peel off the segments and eat them from the base, and then attack the middle with the fork once you get past the rougher outer layers.
Did your college roomies ever share tasty treats from home? What do you put inside your stuffed artichokes?
Things I love: coming home to the smell of something cooking.
Things I hate: anything that could feasibly burn my house down.
I have a bit of a complicated relationship with the idea of crockpots. I just don’t trust them. I know that they work for tons of people, but I just can’t wrap my head around intentionally leaving something cooking in my kitchen when I’m so far away. So in my quest to get over this, I decided to take on a classic crockpot recipe today – with a twist – while I was out and about in the neighborhood.
The results were confidence inspiring and actually amazingly delicious – more so than anything I’ve made this way before. The recipe is modified from a “Crockpot: the original slow cooker” cookbook I nabbed for $5 outside of Borders once upon a time.
Other than the delicious taste, this recipe wins because it just involves chopping some things up (no braising the meat, etc.), cooks at one temp the whole time, and doesn’t require you to buy tons of things you’ll never use in another recipe. It’s also adaptable to almost any veggie – you can just use this as a starting point. Definitely recommend for anyone who’s looking to spice up the old classic this winter!
Asian Beef Stew – Crockpot Style
- 1 onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 1/2 pounds round steak, cut up – I got mine pre-cut into stew meat sized chunks at the deli
- 1 head of celery, sliced
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced – make your slices pretty thin, my carrots still had some crunch to them!
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (really, can use as little as 1 cup or as much as you want)
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup beef broth (look for low sodium and low fat versions)
- 1/3 cup hoisin sauce – the one weird ingredient!
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Combine onion, beef, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in a large crockpot (the book recommends the 5-quart version, as though you have multiple sizes just filling your cupboards).
- Combine orange juice, beef broth, hoisin sauce, cornstarch, and curry powder in a small bowl – whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved.
- Pour into crockpot and give it a good stir – cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until the beef is tender. When the beef is almost done (go ahead, peek!), stir in a cup of frozen peas and cook for a final 20 minutes or so.
Serve over rice, share, freeze, and enjoy!
This is definitely going in my list of easy favorites. It has a great warmth to it, between the spiciness of the sauce and the curry. The beef was so tender and tasty – I’m really looking forward to eating this all week. Seriously!
What’s your favorite crockpot creation? Had any major flops you learned along the way?
Making potato pancakes in the food processor my mother got me at the Republican yardsale (see dated visual below) while listening to Christmas music = multicultural win.
These pancakes made for a delicious and pretty healthy dinner because they were baked instead of pan fried – few opportunities for them to soak in grease! Make these for a week of lunches, for a party, to freeze, or in advance of a family brunch – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce = dinner of champions
Recipe modified slightly from this WW recipe.
Thyme and Scallion Potato Pancakes
- 3 medium potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and grated/shredded in a food processor
- 2 small onions, chopped into thin slices
- 8 scallions, chopped (just the white and some of the green)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 large eggs
- 1 glove garlic, chopped or sliced (just to add some kick!)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Chop/ process the potatoes and onions – press together either between paper towels or within paper towels in a strainer to remove some of the water.
- Combine all ingredients (other than spray) in a large bowl and toss – don’t do what I did and mix things first, just do it all together! And feel free to use your hands – it’s the best way to make sure every piece of potato is coated.
- Scoop out 1/4 cup (or so) chunks of mixture and place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t worry too much about size but make sure all your pancakes are the same thickness so they cook at the same rate. Spray the exposed sides with a mini-spritz of cooking spray and place in the oven.
- Cook for 7-10 minutes (until the potatoes become translucent for the most part) and then remove from the oven to flip over and spray the other side lightly before returning to the oven for another 7-10 minutes. (The original recipe said these would take 30 minutes to cook but mine were definitely less than 20 each). Bake until well browned – remove and serve immediately or heated up later.
Potato pancakes right before being popped in the oven
These are so good, I had to pack them up just so I would stop eating them. Assuming that you make about 30 total, a serving is about 3 or 4, and they have about 1 PointPlus each. In other words, they’re part of – or all of! – a tasty dinner… and lunch… and breakfast… and life! These are definitely going to become a staple in our apartment, even after the holidays.
- The Silpat mat did not come through for me this time – skip the mat and go straight for parchment paper to get a nice crisp and better texture overall.
- Weigh your potatoes at the store – I was shocked at how big each potato actually weighed, since I never really cook with them.
- Not into potatoes? Got something else around? I bet these would be similarly delicious with zucchini, some sweet potatoes, curry, etc. – just start from the basic recipe and you can’t really go wrong.
- Don’t grate by hand, if possible – but if you’re short on time/equipment, you can supposedly buy pre-shredded frozen potatoes at most grocery stores.
My almond-colored, TWO-speed, “made in America (buy American!)” food processor, circa 1987 and courtesy of the local Republican yard sale.
The other secret win of this recipe is in the machine itself – I have a really bad habit of planning whole dishes without knowing for sure if my appliance is going to work at all/fit the quantity of food I’m making. Case in point: my Republican blender is NOT as successful an appliance as this one and my beaters are not equipped to handle double batches of tahini bread. But the fact that this food processor even was able to power up, and then worked exactly as I wanted it to, is a major victory. Thanks, Mom!
What’s your favorite kind of holiday food?
No lightbulb required!
With Christmas approaching, I pulled out one of my great gifts from last year – a Silpat baking mat. I wanted to see if this mat could amplify my love for tofu (and if starting cooking before I was starving would give me time to bake tofu for once) and I was not disappointed. Here are a few steps to perfection:
Easy Baked Tofu
- 8 oz of firm tofu (I used TJ’s small block, but you could just double this if you were working with a bigger block of tofu)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3/4 tbsp soy sauce (or so – I intended to use more but mine ran out!)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- Dash of hot sauce
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder as desired
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tofu into thin slabs, about 1/4 or so thick and as wide as you can get them and still have them stay intact when you mix them with the sauce.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Add the tofu and let sit for 5 minutes (or longer if possible).
- Place slabs of tofu on a baking sheet (I used mine lined with a Silpat mat) and bake for 10-14 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Enjoy! I ate mine with spaghetti squash and poured the remaining marinade over the whole dish (bonuses of cooking with tofu: you can stop to eat the ingredients at any time AND you can reuse any leftover marinade safely.)
PS: I do actually cook more than just tofu – proof is here! For Thanksgiving, I made a new Brussels sprout dish and lots of different egg concoctions. What have you made or eaten lately?
Yes, you read that right.
Pie crust is the latest casualty in my quest to get healthy and still enjoy delicious food. Especially since I don’t have the patience to make my crust from scratch, it’s hardly ever worth the extra calories and I would rather have my pie/quiche/pudding naked than have half the slice I could if it included crust. This week, I decided to reinvent my go-to food of quiche in this mindset, and the result was AMAZING. The roomie and I will be enjoying it all week with more to freeze! Here’s how this magical dish came together:
Crustless Cauliflower Quiche
Base – can be adapted for any crustless quiche!
- 6 eggs
- 6 egg whites (separated or from a carton)
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut and steamed (about 2-3 cups)
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 1 cup cubed butternut squash, cooked (I used frozen pieces, so easy!)
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Get the cauliflower steaming and oven preheating to 375 degrees (F), then prep the rest of the vegetables. Sauté the onion and mushrooms in a pan with olive oil – when cooked/brown, add the cauliflower, garlic, and butternut squash. Stir in some salt and pepper as you go, to taste.
- In a bowl, beat eggs and egg whites. Add milk, nutmeg, and then grated cheese, stirring well.
- Remove the vegetables from the heat and add them to the egg/milk mixture, stirring gently. Pour into lightly greased pans (for me, this took one casserole dish and one medium-sized pie plate), top with extra cheese as desired, and cook for 35-40 minutes, until set.
- Remove from the oven and let cool slightly – then eat or freeze!
For me, this made 16 servings, each with a PointsPlus value of 4. See what I mean about amazing? This is going to be a delicious breakfast/lunch/snack for this week, a new standard meal in our little apartment, and a good option when I want to cook for my gluten-free friends. Furthermore, it’s proof that you CAN enjoy good food without all the carbs – just kick them off the plate!
What do you like to put in your quiche?