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Appetizers and Soups Breakfast/Brunch Main Dishes Quick and Simple Recipes

Potato LeekTart

Potato Leek Tart

I’m sad to say this dish was just not very photogenic.  It has great flavor and was a big hit with family and friends but I just couldn’t get a good picture so I had put off posting it.  However, it was very tasty and I’ve been requested to put it up so here it is!
Printable Recipe for Potato Leek Tart
Ingredients:
1 pkg frozen puff pastry
4 slices of bacon chopped finely (optional)
2 large well washed and finely sliced leeks
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 lb peeled medium diced potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese
Procedure:
Puff Pastry

Place both sheets of pastry on a jelly roll pan pinching together the sheets in the middle to make one single layers and bake at 400 degrees for approx 5 minutes – it will not be fully done.  Remove from the oven and set aside, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Boil the potatoes in a large pot for 15-20 minutes, they should be firm but mostly cooked.
In a  large skillet or dutch oven, fry the bacon pieces until crisp.
Saute the leeks until wilted

Saute Leeks

Add the sliced leeks and cook until wilted.
Add garlic and pepper

Saute with garlic and pepper

Add the garlic and pepper and sauté for 1 minute
Add cream

Add the cream 1/4 cup at a time while stirring constantly and allow most of it to absorb before adding another 1/4 cup.
Add potatoes

Mix well

Add the potatoes and mix well.
Add cheese

Add 1/2 of the cheese
Spread on tart shell

Pour onto the partially baked tart shell and spread evenly.
Add cheese

Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling is browned and bubbling.
Baked potato leek tart

Pasta/Pizza Quick and Simple Recipes Sauces Tested Recipes

The Daring Cooks Challenge – handmade spätzle (with meatballs in cream sauce)

Spätzle with meatballs in cream sauce

This month’s challenge was to make noodles, with a suggestion for Spätzle.  A long (long) time ago I lived in Germany for several years and became very fond of them but although I’ve made lots of other types of noodles,  for some reason just never tried these.  I know my choice of meatballs in cream sauce really isn’t traditional with them, there was the usual time crunch and I had some ready made meatballs on hand that could be made quickly.  Thanks for the great idea and I will be making these more often (and with more traditional meals – maybe schnitzel) now that I know how quick and easy they are!
Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!
I followed the recipe given by Steph for the Spätzle but instead of the sauce she provides, I made the weekday meal version – prefab meatballs with a simple cream sauce to serve with them.
Spätzle:
Boiling the spätzle

Draining

Meatballs and Cream Sauce
Ingredients:
1 lb fully cooked meatballs (purchased or your favorite recipe)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1 TBS Better than Bullion (or 1 teaspoon bullion granules)
2 cups milk or half and half
Procedure:
Heat and brown the meatballs in a large skillet adding a little oil if needed, then remove and set aside.  Add the onion to the skillet and brown well (add a little more oil if there is not enough fat from the meatballs).
Saute the onions and meatballs

Add the butter and stir in the flour and cook until it is lightly browned.
Make the sauce

Stir in the Better than Boullion or bouillon granules then add the milk or half and half. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return the meatballs to skillet and heat through, about 1 minute.

Dessert Quick and Simple Recipes Tested Recipes

5 minute dessert – no bake chocolate cake

No Bake Chocolate Cake

No bake Chocolate Cake

I absolutely love Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks.  Her recipes are wonderful but even more, her pictures are gorgeous and inspiring.  I decided to try her No Bake Chocolate Cake.  This is so simple and quick and the family gave it the thumbs up.  I will definitely make it again! Basically just cream and chocolate, it takes about 5 minutes to make and you can change it up depending on what flavors or spices you add.  I made it plain this time and served with strawberries and maraschino cherry jelly and cherries.  Don’t forget the salt, it really made a difference!
No Bake Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherries

I used some mini ceramic pans and they looked really cute.  I was a little apprehensive about getting the slices out, but I didn’t have any problem except one of the first slices was a little misshapen.  After slicing I used a very small, thin rubber spatula to get them out.  Also since the containers were small, the slices were proportionately a little larger.
No Bake Chocolate Cake

Breads and muffins Dessert Quick and Simple Recipes

Banana muffins: a classic must have recipe

Banana Muffins

Sometimes you just have to go with the classics – a great banana muffin recipe perfect for those last few (too) ripe bananas.  This recipe is basic, moist and quick.  I made a double batch because I had lots of ready bananas – one batch was regular muffins with no topping and one was minis with the brown sugar/cinnamon topping.
Mini Banana Muffins

Printable Recipe for Banana Muffins
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (split in half)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray muffin tin (24 minis or 12 regular size) with vegetable spray or line with papers.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a bowl. In a mixing bowl, mix bananas, sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, egg and vegetable oil. Add the dry ingredients and nuts if used just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups – an ice cream scoop works great.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
  5. While still warm in the pan, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, then set aside to cool.
Banana muffins cooling
Appetizers and Soups Food photography Main Dishes Quick and Simple Recipes Tested Recipes

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad (from someone who doesn’t like salads) – Daring Cooks (very challenging) Challenge

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

As we have already established, I’m a picky eater.   I generally don’t do salads of any kind mostly because I don’t like condiments – no ketchup, no mustard, no dressing (or anything with vinegar in it), absolutely no mayonnaise and healthy is clearly not my strength so coming up with a healthy potato salad recipe was a big challenge for me. I’m not a big yogurt fan either, but some of the flavored ones are ok so I went with that.  The best part though is that I do love potatoes in pretty much any form so I had something to work with! This was inspired by the sweet potato casserole that usually goes with Thanksgiving dinner.  Thanks to Jami for a great challenge.

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Printable Version

Ingredients for 4 side or 2 main course salads:

2 large sweet potatoes cubed into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon bacon or regular salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

6 pineapple rings

1 1/2 cup pecans toasted

1 cup coconut (1/2 toasted)

1 6 oz orange yogurt cup

1 11 oz can mandarin oranges

4 large fresh lettuce leaves

1/4 cup dried cherries

1 tablespoon marshmallow cream

Sweet Potatoes for baking

Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet.

Drizzle

Drizzle with olive oil

Sprinkle

Sprinkle with cinnamon and bacon salt

Mix
Drizzled and sprinkled

Mix to coat.

Coconut, pineapple and pecans

On a second baking sheet place the pecans, 1/2 of the coconut and the pineapple cut into half circles and sprinkle the pineapple and pecans with brown sugar, cinnamon and bacon (or regular) salt.

Sprinkle

Roast both pans in 400 degree oven for approx 10 minutes until the coconut and pecans are toasted – watch carefully they will go from brown to burned quickly.  Remove them from the pan and continue to roast the sweet potatoes and pineapple for  a total of 30-45 minutes until tender and lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and cool.

Roasted sweet potatoes
Roasted pineapple

Drain the mandarin oranges, reserving the liquid.  Mix enough of the liquid with the orange yogurt to thin it to a pouring consistency.

Roasted and ready to mix

Reserve 2 pineapple 1/2 slices and cut the remaining into bite sized pieces.  Mix the sweet potatoes, pecans (reserving a few for garnish), toasted coconut and bite sized pineapple pieces together in a mixing bowl with the dressing.

Plated

On the serving plate lay down the lettuce, add the potato mixture, surround with the reserved pineapple half slices and the mandarin oranges, sprinkle with the untoasted coconut, reserved pecans and dried cherries.

Almost done

Top with a dollop of marshmallow cream.