You can skip the drive through. I'm going to let you know how to make a healthy version of that fast food meal.
First, preheat your oven and a baking sheet to about 425 F. Next, warm a skillet on a medium heat burner, Then, you want to take some lean organic ground beef, chicken or turkey. Roll up and flatten to any size patty you like. Go thin with your burger patties because they thicken in the cooking process. Set your meat aside.
For the french fries I like to get what they call "baking potatoes" because I hate peeling vegetables. It's a labor of love for me. So I try to get more potato and less skin. If you like skin on your potatoes, leave the skin on. Just wash it well with a brush or with a cleaning rag... rag is that Pittsburgh term? Cleaning cloth? Should I say cleaning cloth? I feel like rag is a Pittsburgh word. Either way, use clean potatoes, please. Chop those potatoes in any shape that you like. Wedges, super thin fast food style, anything you choose. Just be aware that your cooking time will fluctuate. I find that the fries bake for about 25 minutes, but if you go thicker you might want to bake them longer. Keep a close eye on thinner cut fries.
Put your potatoes into a big bowl and toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them on you preheated sheet in a single layer.
*If your baking sheet is cold your potatoes will stick like glue.* Now into the oven. You can flip them halfway through for even browning, but I normally don't. I put them in there and leave them alone. One they are golden brown use a pancake flipper- technical term- to remove your fries and place them on paper towels. If you leave them on the sheet they'll get soggy.
Season both sides of your burger patties with salt and pepper- if you want to go crazy with more seasoning, be my guest, but go easy if this is your first time . Depending on size and weight, your burgers will cook on your preheated skillet or grill pan for about five minutes on each side. Add your cheese (if desired) half way through cooking on the second side. Your cheese must be melted. I love an American cheese on my burger. You can use cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, whatever you like. Top your burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles... you decide.
I want to talk about cheese. It's not unusual. I love cheese cheddar, mozzarella, bleu cheese. On a wild day I'll even take that stuff that they call cheese that squirt out of a can. But I don't want to talk about snacks. I want to talk about a hearty soup - a Cheesy Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup. It's one of my favorites. If it's on the menu in a restaurant, I'm definitely going to order it. The problem I had was when I wanted to make it at home all of the recipes that I found online or in books required you to use an immersion blender and I don't have an immersion blender. Or you had to pour the hot soup into a stand blender. There was so much soup in the recipe that you were going to do that in batches. And I don't want to pour hot liquid anywhere but into my mouth. That is when my recipe for Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup was born.
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup onion, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 box chicken broth
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
Notes / Directions
1. Simmer broccoli and cauliflower in a large pot of water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter in the same large pot. Add onion and cook until translucent.
3. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add broccoli and cauliflower. Cook and break up large florets with wooden spoon for 5 minutes.
5. Add flour. Stir until white color is gone - about 4 minutes.
6. Stir in chicken broth. Simmer for 10 minutes stirring often.
7. Stir in cheddar cheese soup.
8. Drop heat to low (wait for electric burner to cool to low heat before continuing.)
9. Stir in cream.
10. Add shredded cheese in batches. Stirring each batch until melted.
Now, don't worry. I have gone all "health nut" on you. I just really love a salad and sometimes salad can get a bad rap. You have to really put what you love into a salad and that's why I love cooking at home. I know that most restaurants are really good about special orders. I enjoy a restaurant too, but when you make a salad at home you can put exactly what you want into it to make a great garden salad.
Start with a really great green, a nice bed of lettuce. I love Romaine because you get a nice balance of a leafy green with light and crispy all in one head. For me a chopped salad should be a "no brainer." I think every salad should be chopped so that you can get also the perfect bite. So let's start with the nice -chopped up- Romaine. For veggies - you've got to go with a tomato of any kind. Roma, cherry even beefsteak. They're are not as intensely flavored, but they're still a great tomato. I like to seed them. Next, you need a cucumber. It makes garden salad so fresh. It really brightens up your salad. I love radishes they have a nice peppery bite. Avocado is so nice and creamy. Cheese. Two of my favorite cheeses for salad are Feta and Cheddar. You could do both. You could do one. I just think they have the perfect texture and flavor for a garden salad. So now, protein. Add some chicken cooked any way and bacon. To dress the salad you want to go light. Don't soup up your salad. You won't be able to finish it. Any dressing you like. I love Red Wine Vinaigrette. It's bite is a perfect balance for that creamy avocado.
You could do it as a side or a starter, but a nice hearty salad can be a meal that you feel good about. Send, Instagram or tweet me a picture of your salad!
I absolutely love getting together with friends and family to enjoy a meal. Everyone brings their favorite dish or dishes and we sit around together talking and eating way to much. That's my kind of dinner party.
Last week I was assigned dessert for a dinner party with some close girlfriends. I usually do a cheesecake or something chocolate in times like this, but I was in the mood to make something different. I was talking to my mom when the Lemon Cream Pie recipe was born, so she definitely deserves partial credit.
This pie is so easy and absolutely delicious. It was a hit at the party and the perfect end to a great night with friends.
Makes: 12 Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 mins
1 refrigerated pie dough disks
1 cups heavy cream
1/2 package cream cheese
2 packages instant lemon pudding
2 1/2 cups whole milk
Notes / Directions
1. Bake pie shell in a buttered pie dish in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
2. Follow the steps to make FLUFFY WHIPPED CREAM FROM SCRATCH below. Refrigerate.
3. Mix cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, 1 cup milk, and 1 package lemon pudding with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread mixture evenly in the cooled pie shell. Refrigerate for the duration of next step
4. Mix remaining 1 package lemon pudding and 1 1/2 cups milk with electric mixer until smooth and thick.
5. Spread pudding layer evenly on top of the cream cheese layer.
6. Decorate the top with whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Or dollop whipped cream on each serving.
7. Refrigerate overnight or at least three hours before serving.
I probably could have named this recipe something like "Homemade Whipped Cream," but I feel like "from scratch" sounds impressive. Just humor me. This whipped cream is so easy to make and my family loves it. Dollop it on top of any and all desserts, your coffee, you know what? Eat it with a spoon!
Prep Time: 10 mins
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl.
2. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
It's fun to visit restaurants, but you can become a great home cook and enjoy eating at home too.
For as long as I can remember I have loved going out to eat. It just always seemed like restaurant food was better in some inexplicable way. I understand, of course, that the "fancy" restaurants employee talented chefs to ensure that they serve amazing dishes. But I'm also talking about neighborhood diners and even certain chain restaurants.
As I've mentioned before, my pregnancy hormones brought out the home cook in me, but I still was thrilled when my husband and I decided to take our new baby out to breakfast on a sunny Sunday morning.The thought of fluffy scrambled eggs and crispy bacon was so mouthwatering. I can clearly remember my excitement (please understand that I was a new mom so I didn't get out much.) We lived near a local diner and it wasn't long before our orders were taken and we were patiently (sort of) waiting for our breakfast plates. I watched with anticipation as the server carried our meals from the kitchen door to our table. My fluffy scrambled eggs were on their way. So I thought. The kind server set my plate in front of me, but it was not the breakfast I had been daydreaming of all morning. The bacon was limp and the eggs were so overcooked that their texture was similar to gravel. So unbelievably disappointing!
Sitting there I thought "I can cook a much better breakfast than this myself." And that's the moment when I figured it out. Restaurant cooks and chefs aren't obligated to make my dreams come true. I'm not going to ask them to anymore. Instead, from that point on I still enjoy my restaurant experiences, but I look for inspiration. The very next Sunday morning I cooked huge breakfast for my husband and myself. My eggs were fluffy and my bacon, my glorious bacon was perfectly crisp.
I want to take a minute to make it absolutely clear that I have so much respect for restaurant cooks. My husband likes his eggs well done so he had no idea why I was disappointed. It is impossible to please everyone when you serve hundreds or even thousands of diners a day.
If you cook for yourself you can prepare each meal to your unique taste. It may take a few tries, but you will get there. And you will be the chef that makes all of your food dreams come true.
I know that this is the time of year when everyone is turning their life around and resolving to eat healthy. I'm with you, believe me. I just think that all things are healthy in moderation. So have that green salad, but that new lifestyle is never going to last if you don't treat yourself every now and then. And some days nothing but a warm bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese will do. It literally took me years to perfect this recipe and now it is truly one of my favorites.
Makes: 6 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 pound American Cheese
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup baked cheese snack crackers
1/2 pound elbow macaroni pasta
1 10.75 ounce can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Notes / Directions
1. Cook macaroni to al dente in large pot of boiling water.
2. In a separate pot melt butter and whisk in flour until white color is completely absorbed.
3. Whisk in milk and cream. Whisk continually until smooth and thick.
4. Add cheddar cheese soup until smooth.
5. Turn heat to low and whisk in cheeses until smooth.
6. Pour cheese sauce over cooked macaroni.Stir until macaroni is evenly coated. Place over low heat for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Place snack crackers in a gallon storage bag and crush to fine crumbs.
8A. Pour macaroni and cheese into a baking dish, sprinkle cracker crumbs evenly on top. Bake at 375F until bubbly (About 15 minutes.)
8B. Use cracker crumbs as garnish without baking.