Thursday, January 28, 2016

Q.E.D: Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls

It's only two weeks into the semester and things are starting to get busy already. Next week I quite literally have a meeting every single day! Time to start thinking up some Q.E.D. meals in anticipation for the weeks ahead.

Notes: I love stromboli and I've wanted to make a mini version for awhile. I had planned to use my homemade pizza dough. But I walked by the crescent dough in the store last week and decided that would be fun to use.

This is such a quick dinner to put together. It took 20 minutes from prep to plate and most of that was baking time!

I used havarti here, but you can use provolone, swiss, or muenster. Those would all work well.

I used a pizza cutter to dice the ham and slice the cheese. I find that easier than a knife for thin deli meat.

Lots of different fillings will work for this. I've made some with just pesto and cheese, and I've made some with pepperoni and cheese. The main thing is to (a) make sure you don't over stuff them and (b) make sure whatever filling you use doesn't contain too much liquid.

I made a simple salad to go with these, but you could make whatever vegetable side you want.

These would also make a great party snack.

1 tube of crescent roll dough (usually 8 rolls per tube)
3-4 slices of deli ham
2 slices of havarti cheese

Directions: Heat the oven to the temperature listed on the back of the crescent roll package.

Dice the ham and divide the pieces into 8 small piles. Cut each piece of cheese into 4 triangles. Line a baking sheet with foil. Open the package of crescent dough and gently unroll and separate all the triangles.

Put a piece of cheese on each triangle. Put a little pile of ham on the wide part of the triangle. Roll up each triangle starting with the wide end. Form each piece into a crescent shape. Pinch the seams together seal everything inside the crescent.

Bake according to package directions until golden brown.

Serve with a vegetable or side salad and enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2016

No Bake S'Mores Bars

This weekend when we had the big snow I decided that I needed to have some cooking projects to keep me busy. We were at a party not long ago and friend brought over these s'mores bars. They were so good! I should have asked for the recipe before we left, but I forgot. So, I did some Googling and found a similar recipe. I tinkered with it and got some excellent results!

Notes: These are crispy, sweet, and delicious. The fact that they are so easy just makes it that much better. I found a bunch of recipes for them, but this was the one I modified.

Melting marshmallows is a little difficult. They don't melt as fast as you think. I think the best way to do it is to melt the butter first and then put in the marshmallows. Keep the heat low to avoid scorching them. Let them start to get soft before you put in the chocolate chips. The mixture will become uniform as it starts to melt. It will end up being the consistency of thin peanut butter.

Don't skip out on the extra marshmallows. If you leave them out, you don't really get the full s'mores effect. If you don't want to buy 2 bags of marshmallows, just reserve 1 cup from the 5 1/2 from the bag and up the chocolate chips to 2 cups.

1 box of Golden Grahams or similar cereal
1 bag of mini marshmallows (about 5 1/2 cups), plus 1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 tablespoons butter


Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and grease the bottom and the sides with butter.

Open up the cereal and put it in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter, chocolate chips, and 5 1/2 cups of marshmallows together over low heat. Stir continuously until the mixture is uniform (see notes).

Pour the mixture over the cereal and stir together. Fold in the extra 1 1/2 cups of marshmallows.

Transfer to the 9 x 13 dish. Butter the back of a large spoon (or spray with cooking spray) and press the mixture into the dish into an even layer.

Refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut into squares. Store in the fridge loosely covered.

Enjoy your no bake dessert!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Greens and Goat Cheese Scramble

Boy do we have a snow day today. We've got a foot on the ground already and more is coming down as we speak!

Sassy is not impressed with the snow.

What better way to keep your snow day occupied than cooking?

Notes: I made this for lunch, but it could be a nice weekend breakfast.

It actually happens that I end up with small amounts of greens that I need to use up and this is a great way of doing that. I also happened to have some fresh herbs because I was making some spaghetti sauce.

The key to a nice scramble is to keep the heat low. Not really low, but low enough so that the eggs cook slowly.

2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs
1/2 cup of fresh arugula leaves
1/2 cup of fresh spinach leaves
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (oregano, chives, or basil would all work well)
Goat cheese (to taste)


Give your greens a rough chop and mince the herbs. Crumble your goat cheese into small pieces.

Put the herbs in a bowl big enough for your eggs. Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat together with the herbs until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a small amount of butter in a skillet on medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the greens and cook until just tender. Turn the heat down. Pour the eggs over the greens. Start to stir the eggs around in the pan. When the eggs still look wet, but are mostly cooked, add the goat cheese. Gently fold the goat cheese into the eggs.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What's in the Box? Lunch Crudites

For the second installment of What's in the Box?, I bring you my recent favorite lunch box combination.

Lunch Crudites.

As you know, crudites is a French appetizer of raw vegetables. You're thinking this doesn't sound at all exciting, but I promise you that if you are bored taking sandwiches all the time, lunch crudites is for you.

First of all, it's healthy. You're supposed to be getting 3-4 servings of vegetables every day. How often do you actually accomplish that? It's tricky. Lunch crudites has at least two servings built in. Second, it's easy to pack. You'll notice I have a handy snap-lid plastic container. It's thin enough to fit into my lunch box, but big enough for plenty of veggies. Third, it's versatile. You can include any combination of veggies you want. Fourth, it requires minimal prep time: wash and cut your veggies on Sunday night and you'll have them ready to pack every day that week.

As you can see, I also supplement my lunch crudites with other things because two servings of vegetables is not enough food for me. I'll give you the run down of things I like to include.

Here's a list of all the crudites I've used in various combinations. I usually take two different veggies at a time:
1. Fresh green beans: No, they're not cooked. Raw green beans are delicious! They're crunchy and refreshing.
2. Baby carrots: Packaged and pre-washed? Couldn't be easier.
3. Sliced red, yellow, and green bell peppers: Mix and match or pick your favorite!
4. Sugar snap peas: When these are in season, you just can't beat them.
5. Snow peas: These are great if you're trying to get yourself into raw veggies. They have a nice mild flavor and they're tender.
6. Cucumber: I like the long seedless ones. They have thinner skin.
7. Yellow squash and zucchini: Again, in season these are fresh and delicious

I buy my lunch crudites during my big weekend grocery store trip. When I get home, I wash the veggies and let them air dry on a clean kitchen towel out on the counter. When they're dry, I put them away. For the green beans, all I do is snap off the ends and snap them in half. In the case of bell peppers, squash, zucchini, and cucumber, I slice them. The others I put straight into plastic food storage containers. In airtight containers, the veggies will keep in the fridge for a week. And they're ready to pack when you need them.

I supplement my lunch crudites with all sorts of things:
1. Yogurt: I try to eat yogurt every day.
2. String cheese: String makes the perfect side for veggies.
2. A hard boiled egg: Eggs get a bad reputation, but they're really perfect. Lots of nutrients and protein. I boil 5 of them on Sunday, peel them, and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
3. Nuts: Again, protein, which I need to keep me going until dinner.
4. Fruit: Most of the time it's apples, but I take oranges too. You're supposed to get 3-4 servings of those too!

If you're bored with sandwiches, enjoy some lunch crudites instead!

Monday, January 18, 2016

What's in the Box? Arugula, Sweet Potato, and Goat Cheese Salad

I take my lunch to work. We don't have a ton of dining options on campus and I don't like having to spend money on food everyday, so I buy lunch supplies during my weekend grocery run.

Coming up with things to eat for lunch, however, can be tedious. No one wants to eat PB&J every day, right? To help you come up with ideas, I thought I'd do a couple of posts on my lunch. So what's in the (lunch) box?

This week it's an arugula, sweet potato, and goat cheese salad. I'm topping mine with pomegranate seeds.

Here's what you need to make at least three of these salads for the week:
1 box or bag of pre-washed arugula
1 medium sweet potato
1 small container of goat cheese

On Sunday or Saturday (whenever you have some time), peel and chop your sweet potato. Toss the cubes with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes until tender. Let them cool and store them in a food storage container in the fridge.

I use this little Rubbermaid container (LunchBlox). It comes with a little tray that sits on top of your greens and holds your toppings. That way you can mix everything together when you eat it. It even comes with a little container for dressing (I'm not using a dressing since I've got the pomegranates and cheese, but you can use what you like).

If you don't have one of these, no worries. Whatever container you have is fine---mason jar salads are all the rage! To pack it in a regular container, put the dressing at the bottom of the container. Then put in the greens and then top with some of the sweet potatoes and some of the goat cheese. When you're ready to eat, just mix everything together.

Now, I usually supplement my salad with more things for lunch (a salad this size isn't enough food for me!). I might bring an apple or an orange, a yogurt, and some salted nuts. But I'll post more ideas like that later!

Enjoy your homemade lunch!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Baked Spinach and Chicken Taquitos (Slow Cooker Option)

Happy New Year, everyone! As often happens, the blog took a back seat to school last term. No matter! It's a new year and a new day, so time to get back to cooking.

For you, I have a fun and delicious finger food: taquitos! Taquitos are often fried, but these are baked. If you're trying to eat healthy for the new year, you've got a good recipe to start with.

Notes: I modified this recipe for my taquitos. You'll notice that these are freezer friendly, which is great. I made enough filling to make two batches, so I might try freezing some. So far I've just made one round.

I made my filling in the crockpot. If you wanted to cut down on your prep time, you could use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. As long as you have about three cups of shredded chicken, you're good.

Make sure your tortillas are warm or at least room temperature. If they're too cold, they'll crack when you try to roll them.

2 lbs chicken tenderloins (see notes)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion
2 heaping tablespoons chili powder
2 heaping tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Hot sauce to taste
1 package of 12 taco-sized tortillas (corn or flour will work)
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 to 1.5 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
Cooking spray

If using a crockpot to make the chicken, slice the onion and lay the slices in the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay the chicken on top and the season the chicken with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and hot sauce. Pour the diced tomatoes on top. Set the slow cooker on 8 hours on low.

When the filling is ready, heat the oven to 425. Roughly chop the spinach. Shred the chicken with two forks. Mix the spinach, chicken, and cheese (I mixed it right in the slow cooker) until combined.

To assemble the taquitos, place a small amount of the filling (about 2 tablespoons) toward the bottom of the tortilla in the center. Roll it up and put the taquito seam-side down on a baking sheet (the baking sheet needs to be lined with non-stick foil or parchment paper). When you've rolled all the taquitos, spray them lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!