Checkerboard appetizer

Well, I can’t take credit for this appetizer, because I was at my Mom’s earlier this week and this is something she made. I’m just stealing it because it’s definitely real food and so easy.


Here’s how she made it.

First, she mixed in a variety of herbs into some cream cheese. She used basil, time, garlic, and salt, but you could easily also just use a premixed Italian seasoning.

Then, she spread the mixture on whole wheat crackers and topped each with either a sliver of green onion or cherry tomato.

Arranged in a checkerboard pattern, they are a beautiful appetizer to serve to guests.

Busy morning!

It’s been a busy morning as I tried to get through a “to do” list that was more than 10 items on it. I’m had a drawer full of veggies in my fridge that wouldn’t last too much longer, so I took some time to chop them. They are roasting in a 425 degree over now!

They looked beautiful on the cookie sheet before I popped them into the oven!

It’s a mix of colorful peppers, cauliflower, shallots, Roma tomatoes and carrot. I coated them with some olive oil, then sprinkled on some salt, pepper and a bit of Italian seasoning.

Should be a nice treat when they come out of the oven all roasted and smelling tasty!


Potato (or Veggie) Pancakes on a Sunday

I ran across a recipe for potato pancakes in the Sunday newspaper a few weeks ago.  Using the veggies we had in the fridge, I was able to whip up a batch that tasted pretty good. We ate ours with a little Dijon mayo.



Potato pancakes

  • 2 cups shredded veggies
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil for cooking

Combine the veggies with the eggs, flour, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.

Once the oil has heated up, add pancake size dollops of the veggie mixture into the pan. Cook for several minutes until the bottom starts to brown. Then flip and continue to cook. Cool pancakes to a plate lined with paper towels.

What’s in that Wednesday — Land O Lakes Butter with Canola Oil

It’s been quite a while since I’ve taken the time to post a “What in That” Wednesday post, but when I saw this commercial come on television this week, I knew I had to mention this one. It seems that the food marketers are starting to understand what we’re all looking for in “real food,” and trying to leverage that in their marketing.

Land O Lakes is now marketing their butter with canola oil as “with only 3 ingredients,” which is clearly targeted at those that are starting to read food labels and looking for words they can’t pronounce.  This butter does only have three ingredients: cream, canola oil and salt. But, be sure to do your own research on canola oil before deciding if you agree that it meets your “real food” definition.

If you look back to my definition, real food means not eating processed oils. Canola oil is a processed oil made from Canola; Canola is an engineered plant developed in Canada. As noted, Canola is a processed oil, made by a procedure that involves a combination of high-temperature mechanical pressing and  solvent extract, usually using hexane. Like most vegetable oils, Canola oil also goes  through the process of bleaching, degumming, deodorizing, and caustic refining,  at very high temperatures. In my opinion. Canola oil is NOT a “real food.”

Late to the cauliflower rice party, I guess

I think we’re late to the cauliflower rice party — I know some of you have been making it for a long time. Here at my house, it’s just been the last six months or so, but wow, I wish I had known about it sooner.

It’s so easy to make if you have a food processor. Just pulse dry cauliflower until it looks like rice. Then put a dash of olive oil in a frying pan and stir fry the cauliflower rice. You can season it with spices, or include some diced onion. That’s it, and I think it takes better than rice!



Grab and go breakfast idea

As you’ve probably noticed, I have been making a lot of different frittatas lately. I like them because they so flexible in what you can use in them, can be eaten warm or cold and usually taste great.

This week, I tried baking them in single serving half pint glass jars instead of a pie plate. This turned out to be a great idea, since now they can easily be taken for breakfast on my trip to work. Just put plastic covers on them and store them in the refrigerator.

Today’s frittata recipe is easy, just onions, olive oil, potatoes, garlic and eggs, which are probably things you have in your kitchen already. To make them, thinly slice an onion and two potatoes.

Cook the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes until it gets slightly carmelized.  Then add the potatoes, about 2 cloves of garlic and about 2 cups of water. Cook about 10 minutes until the potatoes are softened. Let the onion and potato mixture cool.

Whisk 8 eggs in a bowl. Mix with onions and potatoes and pour into jars. Bake about 50 minutes (until they don’t have any liquid portion) in a 350 degree oven.

Watch this appearing in my lunches soon!

While out grocery shopping, I’m always on the lookout for new things to mix it up for the lunches that I pack and take to work. I gotta tell you that I’m skeptical on a lot of the single-serving items out there, since most don’t meet the “real food” guidelines. And, in a lot of cases, I don’t even look, just assume they won’t cut it.

So, I have to admit that I probably passed by these single-serving guacamole minis at Costco several times. But, I guess I’m getting a little smarter, because last week, I checked out the ingredient listing on them and found out they are awesome. They have just five ingredients (avocado, dehydrated onion, white vinegar, salt and garlic) and are all organic.

As for flavor, they taste like any good guacamole. I like it spicy so I’m adding in a dash of something to spice it up when I eat it. I usually dip carrot sticks, but if I had jicama on hand, I’d definitely use that. And, I think many other dipping vegetables would also be awesome.

I tossed a few in my fridge for snacking and lunch packing. The gal at Costco told me she freezes them and they are still great, so I put the remainder into my freezer. I haven’t tried those yet, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Have you run across any good items that were better for you than you expected?

My lunches this week have been….

Well, today I got soup at the new Potbelly restaurant in Fargo, but I did bring my lunch all week. These are the lunches I packed late Sunday afternoon, which is a huge time saver for me and pretty much guarantees that I’ll actually bring my lunch during the week. I’ve learned that if I leave it for each evening, I will inevitably be too busy to get one made each night.

All four days this week included a large salad made with English cucumbers, grape tomatoes, celery, and red and yellow peppers. I keep a small bottle of balsamic vinegar in my desk drawer to use as a salad dressing.

Lunch #1 included the salad, plus some canned tuna mixed with roasted red pepper, a honeycrisp apply, Sunbutter and a few green olives.


For my second lunch this week, I had leftover jerk chicken, dried cherries and cocoa roasted almonds.

No, the salad doesn’t get boring. The next day I had another honeycrisp apple, this time with natural peanut butter. I also had spicy pickled green beans, and the empty container was for some frozen shrimp that I packed that morning. Yum!

And finally, here’s another serving of canned tuna, this time topped with dill relish. I also had a few slices of dried peaches, a small serving of white cheddar cheese and a Pumpin Pie Larabar (a new flavor I just tried that was very good!).


A new look at an old favorite!

Yesterday, I was looking for a quick lunch and here’s what I came up with.  I took a mushroom and Swiss burger out of the freezer and fried it (which I NEVER do and still would have preferred to grill it, but that didn’t feel quick and it also was pretty cold outside).  I served it with ketchup (not real food, BTW), mustard and a dollop of dill relish.  I purchased the burger from my local butcher shop.

Fast, easy, delicious!

Mom’s making chips from squash!

My mom shared with me her latest recipe for making chips out of the acorn squash that she planted in her garden this year. She says they are good warm or cooled. Here’s how to make them….

Squash Chips

Wash the squash and cut a slice off one side so that it doesn’t roll when you cut the rest of the slices.

Slice the entire squash into 1/4″ slices (if they get thinner, they are even better).   (Mom’s editorial comment: “They are so pretty as they have a scalloped edge.”)  Discard the middles when you get to where you are cutting into the seeds.

Dip in olive oil and then parmesan cheese.  Put them on cookie sheets and bake in a hot oven.  I start with one pan on the lowest rack, bake for 10 minutes and then move to a higher rack.  Then, put the other pan on the lower rack.  I had the oven at about 400.  Salt as desired.