Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Roasted Green Beans

Hello again! This is such a simple "recipe." I put it in quotations because I never measure when it comes to roasted vegetables. They are so easy and always delicious. I would say roasting is probably the way I cook most vegetables, and especially green beans. 

Okay, so step one to roasting green beans: Blanch them! If you need a refresher on how to blanch green beans, read this. After blanching and drying, you will have a beautiful pan of green beans like this one:

Okay so next, remove the towel unless you want it to catch on fire in your oven. I don't, so I always remove the towel. :-) Is it bad that now all I can think of is this:  

Anyway...next drizzle those green beans with some olive oil (probably 1-2 Tablespoons) then sprinkle with whatever seasonings you like. I was using Asian flavors in the rest of my meal, so I seasoned my green beans with salt, white pepper, garlic powder, and ground ginger. I would have definitely tossed some sesame seeds on there if my kids weren't eating, but they don't get sesame seeds. I forgot to take a picture of the precooked seasoned green beans, so let's just pretend that the ones above are seasoned. 

I like roasting vegetables at a fairly high temperature. My favorite part are the charred, brown edges that come from roasting. I roast my green beans at 425 degrees. I start checking them around 10 minutes, give the pan a shake and a stir, then back in the oven until they are as done as you like them, usually 5 more minutes or so. 

When they come out they look like this: 

Yum! These are delicious eaten straight from the pan with your fingers! Not that I ever do that...

We had these delicious green beans with rice and soy brown sugar chicken. (The chicken was also very tasty. I used this recipe but with chicken breasts instead.)

I saw Molly Yeh make this delicious looking sesame sauce on the Food Network the other day, and I've been dying to try it! It was super easy to make and both the green beans and chicken were delicious dunked in it. 

My kids love these green beans, which is just wonderful. My 6-year-old had 3 helpings! The almost 4-year-old enjoyed hers as well...both playing with them and eating. :-) 

I hope you'll try some roasted green beans if you haven't already. If you give these a try, please comment below and let me know if you liked them! 

Monday, August 27, 2018

How to Blanch Green beans

As I'm reworking the blog, I've decided I'm going to share what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis in my kitchen. This morning I did some veggie prep. I always blanch green beans, no matter how I am going to cook them. (In case you don't know already, blanching the green beans simply refers to cooking them for a short period of time in boiling water, then immediately putting them into cold ice water to stop the cooking process.) I find that it makes them more tender and helps them to cook through in the inside before they have completely burnt on the outside. Plus they turn a beautiful vibrant green.

First you need to prep your green beans. I have been prepping fresh green beans for pretty much my entire life. My grandmother has a huge garden and it is mostly made up of green beans. I pop off both ends of green beans, carefully pulling down the bean to remove any strings. I leave the beans long because we love them that way. My grandmother always had us "pop" the beans in to smaller pieces.

First of all, I GREATLY underestimated the number of green bean plants I should, well, plant. We moved this summer (Yay!), so we inherited the garden that was already at our house (also yay!), but we added a few of our own touches as well. We planted 3 green bean sprouts...one of which I accidentally destroyed. For the record, 2 green bean plants do not grow nearly enough green beans to feed my family. So here are my beans all prepped:

Look at the right side...the original plan was to compare the color of the green beans from my garden to the store bought ones (the ones from the garden were much darker!). But just look at the tiny little spot of green beans on the left (grown by me) versus the giant mountain of green beans from the grocery store. Ah well...seems like next year I'll need to plant at least 10 green bean plants! 

So, back to the blanching...prep your green beans, give them a rinse, and bring some water up to a boil. I add some salt to the water after it starts boiling to season the beans. Add your green beans a little at a time. I like to add a handful let it come back to a bubble, then add another handful, and so on until they are all boiling. If you add them all at once, your water will stop boiling then you will have to wait for it to come back up to a boil and you might over cook your beans! Blanching is quick cooking...like 3-5 minutes. I cooked mine for 4 minutes. After cooking you plunge the green beans into ice water.

Okay, bear with me, I'm about to break all the rules.

You see, I don't put my blanched veggies into a bowl of ice water. That creates a bowl that is now dirty and has to be washed...and I hate washing dishes. So I put a good layer of ice in the bottom of my colander, fish the green beans out of the pot with a slotted spoon and add them to the icy colander. I do this as quickly as possible and I have additional ice standing by to add through out. Then I run cold water from the faucet and move the green beans around. They are still in ice water, but there is no extra bowl!

Next I move the green beans to a towel to dry. Note that the towel is on a baking sheet...this is not an extra dirty dish. I will use this to roast these green beans later tonight for dinner.

Also I find that fresh green beans last longer after blanched and dried. Fresh green beans only last a few days in the fridge without getting all brown and yucky, but this seems to extend the life for a few more days. Also, now my beans are fully prepped and ready to be cooked at dinner time. More on dinner later...for now, happy vegetable blanching!

Oops...did I forget I had a blog?

I think I may have forgotten all about the blog...oops. I have to say I am not the best at time management, obviously. One thing I know is the past blog format is not working for me. I think, for now, I am done with step-by-step photos. I am lucky to get a photo of the finished product before I start stuffing my face, so step-by-step photos just become very tedious and quite difficult with two little ones running around. Basically, I am hitting the reset button on this blog and trying some new things. I am not deleting the posts that are here because, well, they are filled with my kids' sweet little faces, and I can't bear to delete them! (Seriously, you should see the number of photos on my phone...) Also, I regularly refer to many of the recipes even still! Here we ago again...new year, new blog!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sweet Potato Waffles

A blog post 2 weeks in a row...gold star for Kara! And here I am sharing yet another breakfast recipe. Since the blog is called "Kara's Family Eats" I feel that I should share things that at least 3 of the 4 family members enjoy. I cook dinner most nights, lunch is usually leftovers, and I usually make a big batch of muffins or a quick bread for the kids and me to eat on for several days. The thing about cooking dinner for a 2 and 4 year old is that some nights they aren't as thrilled with dinner as my husband and myself. But breakfast on the other hand...that is a meal where I usually find success! 

My little princess is pretty finicky when it comes to eating vegetables. We are getting to the point now where we can get her to eat a few bites of vegetables at dinner, but it's definitely not the first thing she goes for on her plate (unlike her brother). It is for that reason that many of the things I make for breakfast have a vegetable hidden inside. It's easier to hide veggies in breakfast than you may think...especially vegetables that have a sweet taste anyway like sweet potatoes! 

I made a batch of pumpkin waffles from Weelicious a few months back and put them in my freezer, and my son has really been enjoying them, so I wanted to look for another waffle recipe to try. You may have noticed that I haven't posted any waffle recipes on the blog. I love eating waffles, but am not always successful in making them unfortunately. I think these sweet potato waffles might be the best I've ever made, and I think the secret is separating the eggs! I have done this with pancakes in the past and love the fluffy texture, but I don't do it every time to save the extra steps of separating the eggs and beating the whites. I think it is well worth the extra effort for waffles though because these turned out perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Yum! Let me show you how I made them. 

You will need 1 cup of sweet potato puree for this recipe. This is about one regular sized sweet potato. I made the sweet potato puree the same way I do for my sweet potato muffins, so check that out if you need a reminder! I always cook and mash the sweet potato the night before I need to to save time in the morning. I also usually measure out dry ingredients the night before. I have hungry kids in the morning, so anything I can do to make breakfast come together more quickly is a big plus in my world! 

The first thing you want to do is measure out all of the dry ingredients: flour (all-purpose and whole wheat), baking powder, salt, and some spices and whisk them together in a bowl. When I make these again I will use all white whole wheat and will update the recipe if they turn out as well! I usually have a lot of success using whole wheat flour in waffle, pancake, muffin, and other quick bread recipes. This being the first time I made these particular waffles, I went with a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat as the original recipe says. If you want to use 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice in place of the ginger, nutmeg, and cloves that would work well I think. Feel free to add in some flax seeds if you'd like. I think I will do that next time as well just to make them even healthier! 

Next in a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients (all except the egg whites): 2 egg yolks, milk, sweet potato puree, coconut oil, butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and some optional orange zest. Feel free to use any milk you have here. I used cow's milk because that's what I had, but I am sure a dairy-free milk would work just as well. Also, I used a mix of coconut oil and butter because I think adding a little bit of butter just adds a nice flavor to, well, everything. Feel free to just use oil if you'd like. I've been trying to cut down on our refined sugar intake, so I used maple syrup, but regular white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, or even honey would all work here. I love maple flavor with sweet potatoes, so I used that. The orange zest was in the original recipe, but I do not feel it added a lot to the over all flavor, so I don't think I would include it next time. My kids are obsessed with clementines, so I zested 2 of those and got just over 2 teaspoons of orange zest for this recipe. 

Next combine the dry ingredients with the wet and stir gently until just combined. 

Now comes the extra step that I believe made all the difference with these waffles. Beat the two egg whites with an electric mixer until they get to stiff peaks. I just beat mine until when I turned the mixer off and pulled them out of the egg whites, the little peaks made from the beaters stay standing. It just takes a few minutes, but it is worth it! 

Next you'll want to very gently fold the egg whites into the batter. You just spent extra time and effort to get those egg whites nice and fluffy, so you don't want to undo all of that. It may help to stir a small amount into the batter first to lighten it up a little and then gently fold in the rest. It's difficult to see in the picture, but I could still see streaks of egg whites in the finished batter, and that is okay. You definitely do not want to over mix! 

Your waffle iron needs to be ready to go after you fold in the egg whites, so at some point while you are making your waffles, you should preheat it. Mine doesn't take very long at all, so I started preheating it right before I whipped the egg whites. Pour batter onto a greased waffle iron (I sprayed mine with coconut oil spray), and cook based on your waffle iron's instructions. Not every waffle iron is the same size or works the same, so you'll want to consult your owner's manual if you are unsure. 

You can keep waffles warm in a 200 degree oven while you are making the rest of them. I have a Belgian waffle maker, so it only makes one waffle at a time. 

Serve topped with butter and maple syrup! My kids eat theirs topped with butter and a sprinkle of powdered sugar which they call "sprinkles." 

These also freeze very well! I lay them out on a cookie sheet and put them into the freezer until they are frozen solid. My waffle maker makes large round Belgian waffles which are too big for my son to eat at once, so I freeze them as half waffles for individual breakfast servings for him. (Though I did not take a picture of the semi-circle waffles on the sheet pan...oops!) 

Once the waffles are frozen solid, just place them into a freezer safe bag and you have frozen waffles...much healthier and more delicious than anything you would find in a store! 

Here's the recipe...I hope you give these a try! If you do, please leave a comment to let me know what you think! 

Sweet Potato Waffles 
Adapted slightly from Food.com

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pureed cooked sweet potato
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 Tablespoon butter, melted and cooled 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
2. In separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, sweet potato, oil, butter, vanilla, maple syrup, and optional orange zest. 
3. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, stir together until just moistened.
4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixter until stiff peaks form. 
5. Fold gently into batter; pour batter onto a heated nonstick lightly greased waffle iron.
6. Cook in waffle iron based on manufacturer's instructions. These freeze very well! 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Well, it's safe to say I am not great with time management...I just realized I have done one blog post for the entire year...how sad! I am very active on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/karasfamilyeats). I post what I cook every single day, but posting recipes with step-by-step pictures takes a bit more time than this Mommy has every day or even every other day! With that in mind, I have decided to change up what I do here on the blog a bit. I will still post step-by-step pictures for recipes from time to time, but I will also share pictures of what I am making on a more regular basis and link them to the site where I got the recipe. I think this will help me keep up with the blogging just a bit more! 

Today we took the kids (age 4 and 2) to see their first movie in the theater. Don't worry we have a dollar theater in town, so we knew we wouldn't be out too much if we had to leave early. The kids actually did pretty well! They got bored before the end of the movie (the 20 minutes of commercials and previews before the movie ever started didn't help with that), but over all I was pleased with their behavior. Since I knew we were going to the movie around lunchtime, I wanted to make a nice hearty breakfast for us. If you haven't tried pancakes with oatmeal in them, you are really missing out. We love the flavor, and they are extra filling! I looked through several recipes and finally decided on these Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes from Sally's Baking Addiction. I've made them before, but it's been a while. I am really glad I picked these because they really hit the spot this morning! 

I made them exactly as directed except I soaked the 1/2 cup oats (I used old fashioned rolled oats because that's what I had) in the 1 cup of milk over night. I really love soaking oats for quick breads (such as in these muffins) because it softens them and makes the texture better in my opinion. My husband and I ate these topped with some apple butter we bought recently at the local farmer's market, and my kids had them topped with some mixed berry cream cheese. We all had bacon on the side because well bacon is yummy! I make regular-sized pancakes with a 1/4 cup measure for my husband and myself and smaller pancakes for my kids with a 1 Tablespoon measure. 

If you'd like to give these pancakes a try, and I certainly hope you do, head on over to Sally's Baking Addiction for the recipe. They are healthy and delicious! You will not be disappointed! 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Zucchini Mini Muffins

It's been quite a while since I've posted anything to the blog, but I'm getting back into the swing of things here! I figure there's no better way to start than with a fantastic zucchini muffin recipe. It's spring which means it's time to plant our garden and enjoy months of fresh veggies! Last year was our first year gardening, and we truly loved it. I can't wait to get the garden going again in a week or so. Last year we had several zucchini plants and they produced very well! I am looking forward to lots of zucchini again this summer since I just LOVE it! In sweet or savory recipes...zucchini is always delicious! If you're looking for a a way to introduce your kids to zucchini bread, this mini muffin recipe is for you! My kids absolutely love these, and they are not fans of zucchini. Luckily zucchini hides very well in sweet treats. The muffins themselves have little green flecks in them from the shredded zucchini, but the flavor is sweet and cinnamon-y. 

This muffin recipe starts like any other...first whisk together the dry ingredients (white whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all spice) in a bowl. 

Next, shred your zucchini. I used the smaller holes on a box grater to make finely shredded zucchini. I wanted the green flecks to be as small as possible. You could use the regular holes or the smaller ones. Make sure you do not squeeze the liquid from the zucchini, we want to add all that was shredded to our muffins. I usually don't use an entire zucchini to get the 2/3 cup called for in this recipe. Just shred up what you need and set the rest aside for another use. I made these recently and squeezed the liquid out just to see how we liked them, and I have to say they are a bit more dry that way, so I recommend leaving the liquid in. Also it is much less work to just leave all of that liquid in the zucchini. 

To the shredded zucchini in the bowl, add the rest of your wet ingredients: 1 egg, brown sugar, melted coconut oil, melted butter, applesauce, milk, and vanilla. Whisk it all together. This makes a fairly sweet muffin in my opinion...I think I will try reducing the brown sugar to 1/3 cup the next time I make these. The original recipe had no applesauce, only oil and butter. I reduced these and subbed with some applesauce since I always have it on hand. If you don't keep applesauce around, feel free to use the 3 Tablespoons of oil and 2 Tablespoons of butter that the original recipe lists. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix together until just combined. Do not over mix! 

Pour the batter into a greased mini-muffin tin, and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. 

Muffins are finished cooking when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the muffin tops spring back when you press them lightly. 

These are very tasty muffins! My kids adore them. 

I originally took the pictures for this post about a year ago and never got around to posting it! The picture on the left is my daughter last year (just under 2 years old) and the one on the right is her today at 2.5 years old...the little stinker refused to take a bite for the picture! Ah well, I think I'll give her a pass since she's so cute! My son is at preschool right now, so he'll have muffins for breakfast tomorrow. I hope you'll give these a try, they are easy and delicious! 

Zucchini Mini Muffins 
Recipe adapted from: MyRecipes.com

1 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour (all-purpose also works) 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2/3 cup finely shredded zucchini
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (or less if you like them less sweet) 
2 Tablespoons applesauce 
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted (or sub canola oil)
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
2-3 Tablespoons milk (as needed) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. 
2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a medium bowl. 
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the shredded zucchini (with all of its liquid), brown sugar, oil, butter, milk, vanilla, and egg. 
4. Add flour mixture to zucchini mixture, stirring batter just until combined. Do not over mix! 
5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.

If you're looking for more breakfast zucchini recipes, here are some others that I have tried and love: 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Spiced Pumpkin Loaf

I'm getting back into the swing of things here, and I thought I would get back to blogging! I have lots of new recipes to share, and I decided to kick things off with an awesome pumpkin loaf I made the other night. I'm so happy fall is here again...it's time for pumpkin everything! My kids really enjoy pumpkin spice flavors, so that gives me a great excuse to try lots of new things! I really got into making zucchini and yellow squash bread this summer, so my kids have gotten used to eating quick breads in loaf form instead of only in muffin form, which is a nice change of pace! They lovingly call this recipe "pumpkin cake." Who wouldn't want pumpkin cake for breakfast?! 

The great thing about baking a loaf of bread instead of muffins is obviously that you pour it and bake it all at once! A loaf of quick bread does take at least an hour to bake, so I often bake it the night before, so my kids don't have to wait. Let me show you how to make it. It's very easy!

First start by whisking together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. The original recipe that I got from food.com was for 2 loaves of pumpkin bread. I only have one loaf pan, so I cut the recipe in half. That is why the flour measurement listed in the recipe may look a little strange. I used mostly white whole wheat flour in this recipe, but feel free to use all-purpose if you prefer. This recipe has lots of wonderful spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. I imagine you could substitute an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice if you have that instead. Whisk these together and set that aside.

Then in a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: eggs, pumpkin, sugar, water, oil, and vanilla. I used less sugar than the recipe called for, and I thought a combination of white and brown sugar would be nice with the pumpkin. I was out of applesauce when I made this, but I would definitely use 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup applesauce in place of the 1/2 cup oil and then maybe even reduce the sugar down to 3/4 cup. I used whey from making homemade yogurt in place of the water. I tend to have a lot of whey since I make homemade yogurt about every other week or so, and this was an easy way to use up some of it, so if you have some extra whey lying around, this is a great place to use some of it! I also added vanilla, which was not in the original recipe, but I think every sweet recipe is better with vanilla!

Next add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until just combined. Like muffin batter, you don't want to overmix this. 

Pour the batter into a 9x5 inch loaf pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 

Bake the pumpkin loaf in a preheated 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. My bread took 70 minutes, and I find that a toothpick will not go all the way through a loaf of bread, so I use a butter knife to test for doneness. 

Let the pumpkin loaf cool for 10 or so minutes in the pan before slicing and serving. 

This bread is absolutely fantastic warm from the oven with some butter smeared on top. Yum! It is also wonderful at room temperature, and stays moist for days! 

If you love pumpkin and fall flavors, I hope you will give this one a try! 

Spiced Pumpkin Loaf
Recipe adapted from Food.com

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water (I used whey)
1/2 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, sugars, water, oil, and vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently stir to combine. Break up large chunks of flour, but do not over mix.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then slice and enjoy plain or spread with butter or cream cheese!