Tag Archives: easy

Super Simple Fruit Leather

fruit leather

Summer is winding down and fall is right around the corner.  I cannot wait for the pumpkin spice lattes to start flowing in about a week!  I don’t know about you, but this is also the time of year that the overabundance of gardens start to show up at work.  You know – zucchinis showing up in your car if you leave your window open while running in to the grocery store, tomatoes and cucumbers left in the breakroom, peaches and pears at their peak flavor.  Well, if you have an abundance, what can you do with it that doesn’t involve too much work?  Fruit leather, my friends!

I was a little sneaky and made Fruit (and veggie) Leather for my kids.  They didn’t even know.  Not that they would complain – they can only say about 8 words each.  😉

The recipe here is more of a guideline than a strict recipe.  You could add any combo of veggies and/or fruit you want!  But there are a few key points to remember:

  • I ALWAYS bring my mixture to a boil before drying.  Better to kill any stray bacteria you can.  Die, buggies, DIE!!
  • Dry until the leather is no longer sticky to the touch.  That means enough water has evaporated, and no water means less of a chance of spoilage.
  • Technically, you could store the stuff at room temp, tightly wrapped, for a couple of weeks.  I like to store mine in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped.

What can you do with fruit leather other than eat it straight up?  Cut it up and put it in your oatmeal, your favorite trail mix, homemade granola, add it to cookies and cakes, etc.  Or you could soak it in a little hot water until it dissolves for baby food.  Or so all the dehydrating books say…

Super Simple Fruit Leather

  • 5 cups fruit/veggie puree – peel fruit like peaches, pears, and apples
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of your fruit/veggie puree)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • Cooking spray
  1. Place puree, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan on the stove.  Bring to a low boil, and let boil gently for about 5 minutes.
  2. Place parchment paper on cookie sheets or extra wide plastic wrap over your food dehydrator tray.  Be sure not to block the airflow around the tray with plastic wrap.
  3. Spray the parchment paper or plastic wrap with cooking spray.
  4. Ladle the puree onto the prepared trays.  It should be about 1/4 inch thick on each tray and should fill about 2 trays.
  5. Place in a 130°F oven or food dehydrator set at 145°F.  WALK AWAY.
  6. Allow to cook/dry for 8-12 hours, or until no longer sticky.
  7. Gently lift the parchment paper or plastic wrap off the cookie sheet/tray.
  8. Cut into strips or shapes with kitchen shears – wrap each piece well with plastic wrap.
  9. Store in an airtight container at room temp or in the fridge.

I made 3 different combinations this weekend:

  • 2 cups pureed cooked carrots and 3 cups pureed peaches
  • 1 cup plums, 2 cups nectarines, and 2 cups peaches
  • 1 cup blueberries, 4 cups grapes
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No Bake Lemon Berry Cheesecake Bars

While perusing the internet about a month ago, I saw a recipe for a lemon blueberry cheesecake.  It looked SO GOOD.  But when I looked up the recipe, it was too complicated for me.  Plus, I hate turning on the oven when it’s hot outside.  So, I looked around the grocery store, and came up with a pretty good recipe.  So good, I forgot to take a picture before it was all gone.  Whoops!  Hope you love this cool, creamy and tangy dessert as much as we did!

No Bake Lemon Berry Cheesecake Bars

  • 2 boxes Jello No Bake Cheesecake (11.1 oz. each)
  • Milk and Butter to make cheesecake (refer to instructions on the box)
  • 2 envelopes Crystal Light lemonade (the kind that are for a water bottle, not a pitcher)
  • 24-32 oz. frozen mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Prepare the crust (using both packages) according to the prep instructions on the box.  You should just have to dump the graham cracker crumbs into a large bowl, add some butter, and stir until the mixture resembles sand.  Dump into a 9″x13″ pan, and spread to an even layer, making sure to pack it down well with your hands.  Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine both cheesecake mixes, the Crystal Light lemonade pouches, and the milk required on the Cheesecake box.  Mix as directed.  Pour over crust, using a rubber spatula to smooth out the top.
  3. Place berries, honey, and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, and simmer 5-10 minutes.  Mash berries slightly with a potato masher.  Let cool.
  4. Pour berry mixture over the cheesecake layer, and refrigerate at least 4 hours (overnight is better).
  5. Cut into bars and serve with whip cream on top, if you want.  Yummy stuff!  Hope you enjoy.

Naughty and Nice Cracker Spread

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It’s that time of year.  That time where everyone is put into one of two categories.  You know the ones – Naughty or Nice.  Well, what if you’re a little bit of both?  What if your halo is held a little crooked because of those cute little horns coming out of your forehead?  Is there a gray area?  No, not one of the 50 shades…

Well, Santa, I’ve been NICE this year.  I’ve done some good deeds, thought some good thoughts, put others before myself.  But I’ve also been NAUGHTY.  I snuck Halloween candy and ate it without telling my hubby I bought any.  And I didn’t share.  I let my babies cry on the floor when they didn’t want to do tummy time and I made them do it for a few minutes more anyway.  And I ate my dinner before feeding the dog.  Because I was hungry.

So, this cracker spread is a little like me.  There’s the nice side that is all creamy and sweet.  Then there’s the naughty side that you THINK is creamy and sweet– until it punches you in the taste buds.  Don’t be surprised if you have every intention of sharing, then end up in the closet with a few Ritz crackers and a spoon.  Go ahead.  Double dip.  Be naughty.  I won’t tell…

Naughty and Nice Cracker Spread

  • 2 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup raspberry preserves (I used seedless)
  • 1 cup jalapeno pepper jelly (I used Tabasco brand)
  • Crackers (Ritz are NICE)
  1. Plop cream cheese blocks onto a plate- I used one that was about 15″ in diameter.  Use a rubber spatula to smush and squish the cream cheese into a flat layer.  Smooth out the top.
  2. Pour raspberry preserves on one half, and pepper jelly on the other half.
  3. Serve with crackers.

By the way, the spicy NAUGHTY side is fantastic on a bagel in the morning.  Especially with bacon.  😉

Pizza Casserole

pizzacass

I love pizza.  It’s comforting, crunchy, salty, gooey, and warm.  Perfect for a winter’s day!  Sometimes, I just don’t feel like making a crust.  When I don’t have ingredients on hand and those cans/bottles of pasta sauce and that pound of hamburger really needs to get used up, I throw this dish together.  It really is great.  Like your favorite pizza in a new fun format.  Ty likes his with pepperoni, hamburger, olives and mushrooms.  But really, any pizza topping you like will do.  Plus, you can be sneaky and hide extra veggies in there without telling anyone.  😉

This recipe also freezes well.  Just thaw in the fridge overnight and add a few minutes to the baking time.  Might WILL make a few more of these in smaller pans and freeze them for when the babies come.

Pizza Casserole

  • 16 oz. pasta (I like rotini, penne, or macaroni)
  • 1 lb lean hamburger (we used 90% lean)
  • 2 jars/cans favorite pasta sauce
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1/2 can black olives, sliced
  • package pepperoni
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan or 2 8″ x 8″ pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions, but cooking a minute short of al dente.  Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, brown the hamburger in a skillet.  Crumble into a large bowl.
  4. Add pasta sauce, olives, mushrooms, 2 cups shredded cheese, 3/4 of the package of pepperoni, and pasta to the bowl.  Stir well.
  5. Pour pasta mixture into prepared casserole dish(es).  Sprinkle the top with remaining cheese and top with pepperoni.
  6. Bake about 45 to 60 minutes, or until casserole is bubbling, cheese on top is browned, and pepperoni is crisp.
  7. Let stand about 5 minutes before dishing out.  Enjoy!!

Variations:

– Try Canadian bacon, pineapple, and green bell peppers.  It’s great!

Oven Baked Foil Dinners

foildinner

I am all about easy these days.  Being 6 months pregnant and working full time means I am EXHAUSTED by the end of the day.  Though I love it, the last thing I want to do is cook.  Or go grocery shopping.  Or think about what we’re going to eat that week.  I just want to eat, take a bath, and go to bed!

This recipe is fairly easy.  It’s basically those foil dinners you make when camping, but baked in the oven instead of over the fire.  You can use any veggies you like, and pretty much any meat as well.  We had ground beef on hand, so that’s what I used.  I like to combine all the veggies, drizzle with a little oil and seasoning, and use that as the base.  I crumble the meat on top and fold it all up.  Then bake for a little bit and DINNER IS DONE!

Oven Baked Foil Dinners

Makes 4 Foil Dinners

  • 1 large or 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks (I used red potatoes)
  • 6-8 cremini mushrooms, cut into 1″ chunks
  • handfull of baby carrots, but into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, and cut into 1″ slices
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef (4% fat)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp steak seasoning (McCormick Montreal Steak is good)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • cooking spray
  • HEAVY DUTY aluminum foil.
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. PREP THE VEGGIES:  Place potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and microwave 4 minutes.  You want to get the cooking started, but not to cook them all the way.  Once potatoes are finished microwaving, combine with the rest of the vegetables in a medium bowl.  Toss with 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, salt and pepper.
  3. PREP THE MEAT:  In a medium bowl, combine beef, Worcestershire sauce, steak seasoning, and olive oil.
  4. ASSEMBLE THE PACKETS:  Spray 4 LARGE pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil with cooking spray.  Divide vegetables among the four pieces of foil.  Divide the meat into 4 sections, and crumble one section on top of each vegetable pile.
  5. Fold foil to the middle, and crimp a few times to seal.  Roll up the sides to make a sealed foil packet.
  6. Place foil packets on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes.  You know they are done when the internal temperature reaches 165°F or more.
  7. Once they’re done, take them out of the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.  Cut a small hole in each corner and drain out any liquid.  Open the pouch and dump onto a plate.  Serve with ketchup, BBQ sauce, ranch– whatever you like!

VARIATIONS:

– You can use basically any kind of vegetable.  Mix it up!

– If using pork or chicken, cut into 1″ chunks, season as desired, and place on top of the veggies.  Cook as directed.

Fish Foil Packs

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Three day weekends are wonderful. Four day weekends are even better! I took the weekend off and didn’t cook until tonight. I’m not sure I would even call our meal tonight cooking. It was more assembling than anything else. But it was still tasty!

This meal is easy and quick. Perfect for any weeknight. I loaded mine with veggies. The hubby wasn’t so keen on my choices, so his only had lemon. Both were delicious!

How do you like to prepare fish?

Fish Foil Packs

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  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 fish filets, 3 to 4 oz. each, patted dry (I used cod, but salmon or tilapia also work well)
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced thin (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small tomato, sliced thin
  • 16 artichoke heart quarters, rinsed well
  • 2 Tbsp pesto
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small lemon, sliced thin (optional)
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Spray a square of heavy-duty foil with olive oil to help prevent the fish from sticking.  Add a layer of vegetables.  I used a layer of zucchini slices followed by a layer of tomato slices.  Place a fish filet on top of the vegetables, and slather with 1/2 Tbsp pesto.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with more zucchini slices and 4 artichoke heart quarters.  Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Wrap tightly with the aluminum foil.  Repeat for other fish filets.  Each filet should be in its own foil packet.
  3. -OR- spray foil with olive oil and add a layer of thin lemon slices.  Place a fish filet on top and season with 1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning.  Top with another layer of lemon slices and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Wrap tightly with the aluminum foil.
  4. Place the foil packets in a single layer on the sheet pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until fish and vegetables are cooked through.
  5. Carefully open the pouch (steam will escape and it will be hot).  Lift the fish and veggies off with a spatula and serve with lemon wedges.

I served the fish with sweet corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes.  It’s also great with buttered noodles.