Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole

My bride is a wonderful cook, but she doesn't like to cook unless she has to. Therefore, I get to do most of the cooking - which I enjoy doing.  As the old adage goes, "there is always an exception to the rule" is true when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.   This is when my bride comes alive in the kitchen and really enjoys being in the kitchen preparing meals. 

My assignment is always the same.  I am to make HER favorite Thanksgiving side item - Sweet Potato Casserole.  (I think this dish was one of the reasons she agreed to marry me.)  It's not hard, but it sure makes her tastebuds happy.

Ingredients for potato mix:                                           Ingredients for Topping:

3lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks                             1/3 cup all-purpose flour                             

¾ cups Splenda                                                                                                 2/3 cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup 1% or Skim milk                                                                                    1/8 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. butter, melted                                                                                   2 Tbsp. melted butter

½ tsp. salt                                                                                                            2/3 cup chopped pecans

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon                                                                             Mini-marshmallows (as needed)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs (room temp)


What’cha gotta do:

1)      Prep potatoes.   
2)      For potatoes, place them in a Dutch oven; cover with water and add cinnamon.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain, cool five minutes.


3)      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4)      In a large bowl, add potatoes, Splenda, milk, melted butter, salt, and vanilla.  Beat with a mixer until smooth.  Add eggs and beat well.  Pour this potato mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5)      Topping prep- in a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Mix well.  Stir in melted butter and blend completely.  Sprinkle this mixture over the entire potato mix in the casserole dish.

6)      Alternate between pecans and marshmallows to ‘stripe’ the casserole.

7)      Bake for 25 minutes or just golden.  ( I turn the broiler on for the last 30 seconds to “brown” the marshmallows well.

This was a big success at our Thanksgiving table.  Even my non Sweet Tater eating Tater Tot ate some!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Brussels Sprouts - Pan Roasted

I despised Brussels sprouts as a child.  Just the sight of those boiled green blobs on my plate would instantly prompt my gag reflex into hyper-drive.  (even if it was on the same plate with a hot dog and french fries!)

Today's sprouts MUST be different.  It must have been some metabolic change in plant itself. The only reason I have to verify this is that... well.... Brussels are now one of my favorite vegetables!  How could that have happened without Devine intervention??  It may simply be that instead of boiling the good Lord's little green veggie to the point of mushiness, we have learned to cook them healthier and tastier.

Here is what happens in my kitchen-

Ingredients needed- 

1lb. fresh Brussels sprouts (rinsed and dried)
1/4 cup basalmic vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

Examine the sprouts. Snip off ends and peel off any damaged outer leaves, then cut each in half placing them in a non-reactive bowl (glass).

Mix vinegar, oil, broth vigorously in a small bowl to blend well.  Pour over sprouts.
Using a spoon, stir the sprouts so that all are covered.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes stirring every so often to coat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the sprouts from the bowl to the dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.


Pumpkin Porridge - Overnight Breakfast

Living in South Carolina, we do not get to experience bone-chilling cold all winter like other states - for that alone, I am thankful.  However, we do have our frosty, cold mornings on occasion and it so wonderful to awaken to the aroma of a hot breakfast permeating the chill in the air. 

This slow cooker breakfast fills the house with the smell of cinnamon, allspice, and pumpkin.  When you mix that with the magnificent life-giving aroma of the automatic coffeemaker you get a little glimpse of heaven I do believe.

This is a simple recipe, concocted by yours truly, was designed for my bride.  She is an avid oatmeal lover.  I am a stone-ground grits man by choice, but I partake of the oat if it is flavored and sweetened to my liking. (For example, I do like the Quaker Instant Oatmeal with Maple & Brown Sugar)  So... She loves oatmeal.  I love her.  We both love pumpkin.  I should be able to figure something out, right?

This is what I came up with:

2 cups water
2 cups milk
¾ canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ cup Splenda
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Allspice
1 ½ cups Steel Cut Oats
2 Tbsp. Honey
(Option- ¾ cup chopped pecans) I didn’t do it for this batch, but I will next time for just a little protein.
I know, many of you non-Irish southerners are asking right now, "What are Steel Cut Oats?"  In Ireland this is what is used to make porridge.  It is a little nuttier than instant or rolled and takes longer to cook.
So once you gather all your ingredients, this is what you need to do before you go to bed.
Prepare your crockpot (coat with cooking spray or use a crockpot liner)
Add all ingredients to the crockpot and mix well.
Cook on low for 4 hours.  (Make sure you have a crock that allows you to set the time to start, or one that switches over to warm to hold it for you.  Unless of course you only plan on sleeping for 4 hours.) 
Serve in bowls/mugs with a little extra honey drizzled over the top.
This recipe makes about six servings around 220 calories each.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kale and 'Shroom Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

This is a recipe from SkinnyTaste with only a few modifications from the original recipe. I did lighten it up some, without taking away any flavor.  This is a wonderful tasting meal with a side of green beans or salad.

I don't want to mislead anyone, it is not a "quick-fix" meal, but it is worth the time it takes to prepare.


1 (15oz) Fat free Ricotta Cheese
4-5 cups of chopped Kale
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
4oz Fat free cream cheese
9-10 Lasagna noodles (cooked and blotted dry)
7-8 whole mushrooms chopped fine
1-2 cups marinara sauce
1 egg, beaten
Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
Shredded Mozzarella to top each roll up

How to-
Boil the noodles as per the directions on the box.  Drain and blot dry, then spread them out on a sheet of wax paper.

While the noodles boil, chop the kale and mushrooms in a food processor.  In a bowl mix the ricotta cheese, kale, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, garlic powder, whisked egg, salt and pepper.

Spread the kale/cheese mixture onto each of the lasagna noodles.

Put one cup of marinara sauce in a 9x12 baking dish.  Then roll each of the noodles up and place in the baking dish.

Top each roll with a dollop of marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella.

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.


Each roll is about 125 calories.