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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bacon & Apple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

With the holidays fast approaching, I am always looking for some new, slightly different side dishes to add to our traditional spread.  Some people in my family might argue that we should just stick to the classics, but I think it's nice to mix things up a little and try something new. Who knows? One of these dishes may be so tasty and loved that it becomes a new family tradition!

This time around, I decided to work with the classic mashed or baked sweet potato. Nothing wrong with a good old sweet potato, but no harm in trying to jazz it up a little. So, I thought it would be interesting to add some saltiness, sweetness, and texture to our what might be a fairly simple mashed sweet potato. I did this by adding bacon (I mean, really, who doesn't like the addition of a little bacon?), some chopped apple, and some celery to the mix.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cornmeal Buttermilk Freezer Biscuits

As you may already know, I gave birth to an amazing, beautiful baby girl 8 weeks ago! Wow, people were not kidding when they said that time would fly with a newborn. It certainly has! 

My day's priorities are now determined by my daughter. Despite my "to-do" lists and "need to try" recipe spreadsheet, even if the only thing I accomplish during the day is keeping my daughter happy, healthy and active, that is enough.

But, here's the catch. A girl's got to eat at some point. And it's not the eating that's the problem. It's the "what to eat" that is. For me anyways. I mean, there are times when I learn to settle with a pile of cheese and crackers, or even just a pile of crackers, but a girl can only last so long on the basics. Especially someone like me that strives to make every meal healthy, fresh and tasty. And really, that boils down to homemade. Not store bought or pre-packaged or take away. Homemade.

Yup, homemade is hard to do when you are juggling a newborn on one arm and trying to brush your teeth with your free hand. Or, try doing the dishes with one hand. Yes, it's possible, but takes about four times as long to do. So, if I had to cook and bake everyday? Would not happen.

Don't get me wrong. I still cook and bake. But I do it on her time, not mine. That means that when I finally get her down in her crib for a nap, I frantically cut veggies, cook quinoa, make bread dough and do as much as I possibly can. And the thing is, I never know if that time I have is 5 minutes, or 2 hours. I just use every minute-- every second-- and do as much as I can.

And then there are the days when I can't do anything extra. My daughter won't nap, is extremely hungry, and needs me to hold her and rock her from morning until night. Those are the days when I am thankful for my organization and "to-do" lists. The ones that reminded me everyday in the last 2 months that I was pregnant to make meals ahead and freeze them. The ones that convinced me to make these cornmeal freezer biscuits so that one day, when I didn't have time to make a batch of fresh biscuits (which at the time I could not fathom-- I mean, after all, there is always time to cook or bake, isn't there?), that I could reach into the freezer, pop a few of my homemade frozen biscuits onto a tray, bake them, and enjoy them.

Yes, I am able to enjoy fresh, homemade biscuits with a newborn! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stuffed Jalepeno Peppers
(Mini Sweet Peppers, Mushrooms or Squash)

It's that time when we need to start thinking about bite sized appetizers for holiday entertaining (or hockey night entertaining, or just plain entertaining).

And, as always, the best entertaining dishes are the ones that you can prepare a majority of in advance so that you can spend your time entertaining rather than running around frantically in the kitchen! These stuffed peppers work well because you can prep them in advance then just pop them in the oven. 

Oh, and did I mention that they are also super versatile... You can use jalapeno peppers if you like the kick, or if you are looking for something a little more conservative, you can stuff mini sweet peppers instead. You could even stuff mini squash or mushroom caps with this mixture! Wait a minute! Did I say "or"?? You don't have to choose. Stuff all of the above and assemble a beautiful platter of stuffed veggies using the same tasty filling!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Citrus Chicken and Potato Bake

As the weather gets colder, I am really into recipes that use the oven and heat up the house. Yes, multitasking at its finest! But not only that-- with a newborn baby in the house, I don't have as much time as I used to, so meals that I can prep in less than 15 minutes, stick in the oven, and forget about until the timer goes off are the new "go to" type of meal. And this is one of them.

In a nutshell, all of the ingredients get squished together in a large ziplock bag (or bowl if you like). This can be done at your convenience, when you have a spare minute or two-- for me with a newborn, these moments can be at random times during the day. Once this is done, you can place the bag or bowl in the fridge for up to day until you are ready to bake.  Then, it's bake, forget, then dinner is served! How easy was that? Oh, and did I mention, you can double or triple this recipe if you want to with minimal extra work (and if your oven is big enough).