Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why Seafood Is Important to Me...

Note: I have not been compensated in any way to talk about my love of seafood.

If you don't already know this about me, I grew up on the ocean near one of the biggest fishing ports on the East Coast.  I could see the fishing boats coming and going as I sat on the porch, heading out to the deeper areas to catch swordfish or whatever else they were fishing for.  When I would visit our family home in Maine I would hear the lobster boats fire up their engines every morning (except Sunday back then) to go out and support their families earlier than I could imagine even crawling out of bed.  I would see the lobstermen and the fishermen in the towns where I spent my youth and I would see how hard they worked in the lines on their faces and the rough skin on their hands.  I knew some of their children.  I knew some of their stories.

So to me eating seafood has always had two parts to it: the first was always the fact that it tasted good and it was good for me, but the second was about more than was about the supporting hardworking people and their trade.

Today is the last day of National Seafood Month, so it is fitting today that I remind you to eat your seafood.

For some great recipes from the Seafood Nutrition Partnership click here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Crock Pot Baked Potato Pizza

Sometimes something sounds wrong but is so right...baked potato pizza is one of those things.

This meal was so simple and so satisfying all at the same time.

It is a great pizza alternative for those with gluten issues.

The recipe is written how I like it, but the toppings are really up to you.

Bang this one out for dinner tomorrow...

Baked Potato Pizza

4 large baking potatoes
Olive Oil
Marinara Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Turkey Pepperoni

Clean the potatoes and poke all over with a fork.  Lightly coat each potato with olive oil and salt and wrap individually in aluminum foil.  Place the potatoes in the crock pot on high for 4.5-5 hours or on low for 7.5-8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Remove the potatoes from the crock pot, unwrap from the foil, and split in half with a knife on a sheet pan.

Scoop the marinara sauce into the crevice of the potato.  Top with mozzarella cheese and turkey pepperoni.  Repeat for the other three potatoes.

Cook the potatoes for 5-10 minutes in the oven, or until the cheese is melted.

Serve hot.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tuna Melt

This post is not about being natural, organic, or making things from scratch.  This post is about my childhood and cheese that puckers up when you cook it and white bread and comfort.

This post is also about celebrating National Seafood Month.  Do you know how healthy seafood is for you?  It is one of the true power foods!  I try to eat seafood 3-4 times a week (growing up on the ocean has left a mark on this girl).  Because my family seems to need more food variety than I do, I often fit in one of my servings at lunch with a little tuna.

When I was a kid I loved tuna fish.  There were weeks on end when I would have it for lunch every day.  Every once in a while though, my mom, who we all know does not love to cook, would do something really special for me and make me an open faced tuna melt.

There are many recipes that you have as a child that you cannot recreate, this recipe is not one of those.  This is easy and it is simple and it reminds me of being 7 years old and sitting on my scratchy couch and watching Murder She Wrote.

Thanks, Mom.

Open-Faced Tuna Melt

1 can of chunk white tuna fish, drained and separated with a fork
1-2 Tablespoons of Helmans Mayonnaise (2 tastes more like childhood, 1 is more responsible as an adult)
1 teaspoon of relish
4 pieces of small white sandwich bread (I like Pepperidge Farm)
4 slices of American Cheese

Preheat the broiler.

Place the bread on a sheet pan and place under the broiler until just brown.  Turn the bread over and repeat.

In a small bowl mix the tuna fish, mayonnaise, and relish until well combined.

Scoop an even amount of the tuna fish mixture onto each piece of bread and spread it out to the edges.  Place a slice of American cheese on top of the tuna and put the sheet pan back under the broiler.  You will know it is done when the cheese starts to pucker and bubble.  It may even get a few small brown spots, don't worry...they just add flavor.

Serve open faced.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pumpkin Party Dip

In the world that we live in of loving everything pumpkin, I needed to come up with a party dip that would be easy, yummy, and have the almighty pumpkin in it.  This was my creation.  It started with the awesome creation that I learned about last year of combining fluff and cream cheese.  Mix it up with some Fall flavors and pureed pumpkin and you are good to go.

I like this kind of fluff, because it is what I grew up with, but any fluff will do.  Don't worry if the ounces on the jar are one over or one less than what is the recipe, as long as they are close you will be fine.

Pumpkin Party Dip

1 block of cream cheese
1 7.5 ounce jar of Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of all spice
pinch of cloves

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all of the ingredients.  Mix  on medium speed until well combined, scrapping down the sides and bottoms of the bowl twice.  Spoon the dip into a bowl.

I like to serve this with ginger snaps and apples, but feel free to get creative and use whatever makes you happy :)  

Friday, October 9, 2015


Sometimes I feel like I make the same kid food over and over again.  Macaroni and cheese.  Spaghetti.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Pizza.  Quesadillas.


So...out of pure boredom this wonderful concoction was born...the Pizzadilla.  

My oldest son told me that it was his new favorite the first time he ate it.  Victory.  Victory and one more thing to put in the old kid food arsenal...

The recipe below will make one Pizzadilla.  I made two for my three children to share.  The recipe will easily double, or quadruple, or whatever you need.  If you are making one for yourself throw in some of your favorite toppings, just make sure to have the filling thin enough to let the cheese work to seal in all the goodness.  


2 6-inch flour tortillas
3 Tablespoons of spaghetti sauce, store bought or homemade
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
6 pieces of pepperoni

Heat the griddle over medium-high heat.  (You can also use a frying pan if you do not have a griddle pan).

Spread 1 1/2 Tablespoons of sauce on each tortilla.  Sprinkle one of the tortillas with cheese and then arrange the pepperoni on top.  Put the other tortilla on top of the first, sauce side down, and transfer to the griddle.  Cook on the first side until the cheese begins to melt, flip, and cook on the other side until the tortilla is lightly browned and the cheese inside is fully melted.

Cut into fourths and serve.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

I love a good bowl of oatmeal in the morning, and once Fall comes around I find apple-cinnamon is the only way to go.  In the Spring I like berries, in the winter I like berries and nuts, but in the Fall this version is King.

We used to eat the pre-packaged instant oatmeal, but as I had kids and became more wary of what I was letting them eat I decided it was time to find an alternative.  Once you try this, you will never want to go back to the pre-packaged.

You can easily adjust this recipe to your tastes...if you like more cinnamon, go for it.  If you have more of a sweet tooth a little extra sugar might be for you.  If you are a vanilla fan, add an extra splash.  Oh, and if you are one of those freaky people who has extra time in the morning you can make this with old-fashioned slow oats too.

This recipe makes enough for one person, but it can easily be doubled, or tripled.

No matter what, this meal is a quick and easy way to start your day off right.

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

1 cup water
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup instant oats
1 cup medium diced apple
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Put one cup of water and a pinch of salt into a small pot over high heat and bring to a boil.  Add 1/2 cup of instant oats, turn the heat to medium-high, and stir occasionally until the oats begin to plump and there is very little water left.  This should take 1-2 minutes.  Turn off the heat.

Add the brown sugar to the oatmeal and stir.  Add the apples and stir again.

Now you can add the cinnamon and vanilla and stir.  Pour the contents of the pot into a bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes before eating.  Yum!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Crock Pot Lasagna

As I have mentioned before, I have a love-hate relationship with my crock pot, but recently I have been seeing a lot of recipes for crock pot lasagna, and I thought that I should give my own lasagna recipe a try in the dreaded crock pot.  Turns out it was pretty good.  I still prefer the old fashioned lasagna in a pan, but for a day when I cannot be home to put it in the oven, this will do.

A few things I learned...

1. It does not hold together like a regular lasagna...treat it more like a really thick stew.
2. My kids like lasagna better in a bowl.
3. The noodles get quite soft.
4. I had to tweak the recipe a little bit from my old stand by, so if you decide to use your own recipe instead of mine keep that in mind.  One of the things that I decided to do was to leave out the eggs.  The eggs are used to bind your lasagna, so it may have been part of the reason that it did not hold together like a regular lasagna, however I would still not use eggs in this.
5. Normally you would let a lasagna stand for 15 minutes or so before cutting it which helps it to set.  With this lasagna you cannot do that.

Here we go...

Crock Pot Lasagna 

1 pound of ground beef, cooked and drained
1 box Barilla no cook lasagna noodles (you will not use the whole box)
5 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (homemade or store bought)
4 cups of shredded mozzarella
1 Tablespoon of dried basil, or 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cottage cheese

Mix the basil, sour cream, and cottage cheese together in a bowl and set aside.

Pour one cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of your crock pot.  Place a layer of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.  You will need to break the noodles in half to make them manageable to serve.  I found that I broke a few of them into more pieces to make each layer complete.  Work it like a puzzle.

Spoon 1/3 of the sour cream mixture on top of the noodles and spread it around as best you can.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the meat mixture on top of the lasagna.  Top with 1 cup of sauce and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.


1/3 Sour cream mixture
1/3 meat
1 cup sauce
1 cup mozzarella

Repeat again...

1/3 Sour cream mixture
1/3 meat
1 cup sauce
1 cup mozzarella

Then for the last layer...

1 cup sauce
1 cup mozzarella

Cook on low for 4 hours.

Friday, October 2, 2015

New York Times Dutch Oven Bread--My Way

**This recipe is adapted from the New York Times Dutch Oven Bread that swept the nation a few years ago.  The recipe's creator was actually Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery**

A few years ago a friend passed along a recipe to me that totally changed how I viewed making bread.  It was the recipe for bread in the Dutch Oven that the New York Times published from Sullivan Street Bakery.

I used to look at making bread as a chore that required time and patience...with three young kids, both of those items are often in short supply.  This bread requires neither, but it also requires both.  The neither comes from the fact that you do not need to babysit this bread and need it and take care of it.  The both comes from the fact that it takes about 12 hours from start to finish.

I often serve this bread at dinner parties and people always make a huge fuss over the fact that I made fresh, crusty bread.  I like to share my secret with them so that their friends can make a fuss when they make it too :)

It is best served with my recipe for honey butter that I have included below.

In the original recipe they use instant yeast, but I am old-fashioned and really like to see my yeast growing before I add it to my flour mixture.

New York Times Dutch Oven Bread--My Way

1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
Warm water
 Additional flour for shaping

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of water that is 105-110 degrees for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl mix flour and salt.

When the yeast is ready add it to the flour mixture.

Add an additonal 1 1/2 cups of warm water to the flour and stir well.

It will be really messy looking...that is okay.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put aside away from any cool drafts for 10-12 hours to let it rise.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

When the oven is ready, put your dutch oven with the lid on it in it to preheat the pot.  While the pot is preheating release the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured cutting board (I flour my hands too because this dough is really sticky) and shape it into a round circle, tucking all seams.  The dough will be very wet and will not take shape well, this is normal.  Do not add more than a dusting of flour.  Cover the dough with saran wrap and set it aside.

When the pot is preheated remove it from the oven and take off the lid.  Drop the dough into the pot, replace the lid, and put it into the oven for 30 minutes.  When the 30 minutes is complete remove the lid of the dutch oven and put it back in the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and immediately remove the loaf of bread and place it on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

Cut while warm, spread with honey butter, and try not to eat the whole loaf at once.

Honey Butter

1 stick of salted butter, softened
1 Tablespoon of real honey


Place the butter into a small bowl and mash with a fork until spread out.  Drizzle the honey over the butter and mix well until combined.  Put the butter into a crock covered with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.