Roasted Eggplant

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I’ve enjoyed eggplant slices roasted on the grill, as the “meat” of a vegetarian sandwich, pureed into a silky, smooth dip and as the main course in Eggplant Parmesan. Admittedly, I’ve only been served these dishes.

However, much like my recent love affair with avocados, I never actually prepared eggplants for myself or my family—I was completely intimidated and merely courted them in the aisles of the supermarket. It was finally time for me to take this egg-shaped glossy purple fruit into my own hands.

So, last night I [Read more…]

Banana Honey Bran Bread

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For years I automatically (naively) assumed that because of its syrupy consistency and supreme sweetness, that honey was not nutritious and had no real benefits.  In fact, I’d default to sugar whenever and wherever I could.  However, the more time I’ve spent in the kitchen, working through various recipes and educating myself on their ingredients, the wiser I’ve become.

First and foremost, honey is a natural sweetener that contains minerals and vitamins. It has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that aren’t present in sugar and has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than sugar.  In layman’s terms, the lower the GI, the more gradual and healthier the digestion process. In addition, milk and honey are often served together as both these ingredients help in getting a smooth soothing skin.  And, honey contains nutraceuticals, which are effective in removing free radicals from our body. As a result, our body immunity is improved.  I was amazed.

Since Mom’s Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf is one of her most-celebrated desserts, I was a bit skeptical that her Banana Honey Bran Bread could even measure up. But, I was willing to give it a try.  And, at the very least, I knew the combination of honey with the bran – a probiotic food (meaning it has natural antibacterial fighting properties)- would be a winning nutritious combination.

But, what about its taste?  Any time I’ve ever eaten bran, I’ve found the foods taste dried out.

I was curious to see how the bread would turn out after its hour in the oven.

It is obviously grainier and certainly not as sweet and moist as the banana chocolate chip loaf.

Its consistency is dense due to the bran but, it as a nice subtle flavoring of bananas and nuts and honey.

When polled, my kids definitely opted for the Banana Chocolate Chip Load simply because they said it was sweeter and tasted more like a dessert bread.

However, the bran bread is the perfect side to any breakfast meal.

Next time I would definitely add in 1 cup of dried fruits (probably cranberries or raisins).  I would increase the amount of honey from ½ cup to a full cup.  Additionally, there’s no harm in adding in more mashed bananas for a fruitier taste.

But, mentally, just being aware of the amounts of fiber and healthy honey sweetness in the loaf allowed me to appreciate the bread even more.

Veggie Soup

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Today we’ve got a tasty new recipe created from our resident soup expert, Serena (aka Seriously Soupy).  Since the weather in the northeast finally feels characteristic of January – bitter cold- I reached out to Serena for one of her latest creations.  What better time than start making (and freezing) some healthy,  hearty, nourishing soups?

Luckily, Serena has literally just finished making some batches of her Veggie Soup.  In fact,  she claims she simply “cleaned out” her fridge for the recipe and used tons of veggies to create a the flavorful and healthy dish.  Perhaps we should nickname it “Compost Soup.”

While Serena’s soup includes carrots, asparagus, potatoes and chickpeas she also reassures us that truly, anything vegetable can also be substituted for whatever you happen to have around. It is really that easy!

We hope you enjoy this simple recipe and that you take refuge in warm soup all winter long.

Alfredo Potato Bake

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Disclaimer – I was compensated for writing this post by Prego®. However, all opinions expressed within are, as always, my own.

Dinnertime can be daunting.

What should you serve?

How do you vary your dishes without feeling like a short order cook?

How do you get your family excited about mealtime?

Often, there are new and interesting dish opportunities right under your nose, or should I say, right behind your pantry’s door.

Last week I was in a major chicken rut. I felt like every other day I was serving something that included chicken. And, while my kids weren’t necessarily complaining, I know they weren’t very excited either.

I truly believe that something new on the table at every meal will peak your family’s interest. And, it doesn’t have to be the main dish. Sometimes I like to keep the intrigue with my sides.

Last night I served a homemade Chicken Caesar salad.  I was determined to add an interesting side dish.  Sometimes I like to challenge myself and open the pantry or refrigerator and create a dish solely from the ingredients that are sitting on the shelves right in front of me.

In my pantry challenge, I found a jar of Prego Alfredo Sauce and decided to make a dish that didn’t include its requisite partner- fettuccine.

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I’m sure at some point we’ve all tasted Fettuccine Alfredo made with thick fettuccine noodles drenched in the rich, creamy sauce. But, how many times have we tasted Scalloped Alfredo Potatoes? NONE!

I found a recipe for Cheesy Potatoes and tailored it to include a can of the Alfredo Sauce. The dish is super easy to prepare and doesn’t require a litany of ingredients. In fact, the sauce itself takes the place of the cheese and spices as its base contains a strong blend of cream and garlic and Parmesan cheese.

All you need are some potatoes and milk alongside the sauce, and you’re set. I also added in some chopped broccoli because, why not? Never underestimate an opportunity to add vegetables whenever you can. And, how could broccoli with Alfredo Sauce not taste divine? If you’re feeling extra saucy, you can add some cubed turkey meat or chicken, at which point your side dish can be transformed into a main.

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I stuck with the side dish, and it was a hit…for everyone at the table! Just don’t forget that it potatoes take a little while longer to cook since they’re raw. But, wouldn’t you rather have a dish that takes longer to cook than to prepare? Make sure you avail yourself of at least 1 hour 20 minutes to bake this tasty side/main.

Hope you enjoy. I know you will.

Alfredo Potato Bake

Yields 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar (14 ounces) Prego Alfredo Sauce
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the Alfredo sauce and milk. Pour a fourth of the mixture into a greased 13-in. X 9-in. Baking dish. Layer with potatoes so the bottom of the dish is covered; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  2. Add broccoli and 1-1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese to the Alfredo mixture; spoon a third over potatoes. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Spread with remaining Alfredo sauce mixture.
  3. Cover and bake at 400° for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
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