Easy Roasted Ranch Carrots

 

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It’s almost Thanksgiving, which is full of recipes that are ridiculous to prepare.  They either have a bunch of steps that you’re trying to take in order while making 10 other recipes at the same time or they take up oven space for hours on end.  But this recipe is so easy that you can whip it up while the turkey rests after cooking.  Or, as long as you keep an eye on them, the carrots can be roasted at a slightly different temperature so that you can have them in the oven with another side.  Another option is to steam or boil the carrots, but I personally don’t like the taste and texture as much as roasting.  Whatever works for you works for me.  The flexibility is what’s so nice about this recipe.  Of course, with butter, brown sugar, and dry ranch mix, they’re not as healthy as plain roasted carrots, but they’re still vegetables.  And it’s a holiday, after all, so let’s all cut ourselves some slack.

In reality, after having Thanksgiving with my family last weekend (and the leftovers that all ended up at our house), I can’t imagine another round of the same food in less than two more days with my in-laws.  We didn’t have these carrots, so maybe I’ll make them for a slight change in scenery.  Plus, it’s more about the company than the food anyway, right?  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Easy Roasted Ranch Carrots

1 pound baby carrots
drizzle of olive oil
5 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 package dry ranch mix  (like Hidden Valley)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the carrots in an even layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast until the carrots are softened, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan and mix in the sugar and ranch mix until combined.  Add the carrots and stir until they are completely coated.  Serve warm.

Source: adapted from Hidden Valley

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Glaze

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It’s been a busy fall, as they always are with back-to-school time, our anniversary, Lily’s birthday, Halloween, and getting ready for winter and the holidays.  On top of the usual, we went to the weddings of both my brother and Jake’s sister (not to each other) and planned a trip to Disney World (that’s still a secret from the guest of honor).  And poor Jake spends every weekend raking leaves, yet there are still more hanging on the trees waiting to fall.  And now it’s already started snowing in Pittsburgh.  How is winter starting already?!

In October, Lily had what she calls “the best birthday ever.”  She turned 4(!) and celebrated in style with a pool party at the local rec center.  We invited her whole class thinking that maybe 5 kids would be available, so weren’t we surprised when almost all of them RSVP’d with a yes.  And then they all actually showed up!  I’ve never been so thankful that we held the party somewhere other than our house.  The kids were adorably happy going down the slide and drifting around the lazy river, and Lily loved having them to play with, so it was a great day for everyone.

Now we are hunkering down and getting ready for two Thanksgivings.  One here in Pittsburgh (topped off with a trip to the Pitt v. Syracuse football game) and one in Syracuse with Jake’s side of the family.  For my own sake at the second Thanksgiving, I hope Pitt fares well at the first!  I’m not responsible for cooking the dinner for either celebration, but I’ve still been trying different recipes so that my oven doesn’t get too lonely.  I’ll try to get them all posted in the next couple of weeks!

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Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Glaze

Cookies:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pie filling)

Glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk (not nonfat), plus more as needed
2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the cookies:

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the egg and vanilla, return to medium speed, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides again.

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add half of the pumpkin and mix until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and pumpkin.

Drop eight 1/4 cup dough rounds on the baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between them. Place the remaining dough in the refrigerator.

Bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back and continue baking until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and around the edges.  For me it was about 5-7 more minutes, but the original recipe said it can be up to 12.

Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a few minutes and then transfer them to the wire racks to cool completely. Let the baking sheet cool to room temperature and then repeat with the remaining dough (you can use the same parchment paper).

For the glaze:

Whisk all of the ingredients until evenly combined. Drizzle in more milk if it’s too thick.  Dip a fork into the glaze and drizzle it over the cookies. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the glaze has set, about 20 minutes.

Source: Chow

Four-Cheese Zucchini Pizza Boats

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Two weekends in, I feel like I can declare this August downright leisurely.  Lily and Jake camped outside in the back yard this past Friday and they both survived the whole night without coming inside.  They didn’t, however, survive without the iPad.  At one with nature, huh?  I didn’t care; I was inside spread out over the entire bed watching old episodes of Suze Orman in peace.

Lily also had the chance to ride a horse (well, half horse, half pony) for the first time and solidified her love for everything equine.  Anything and everything in our house is now a pretend horse.   She was funny because she was SO excited and fidgety the whole way there and after she was done riding, but while she was with the horses she was calm and focused.  It was incredibly sweet.

 All summers should be so lovely.  

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I call these 4-cheese pizza boats because that title fits, but the filling and marinara make it taste like lasagna to me.  Granted, cheese and marinara are the basis for a million different Italian dishes, so I could have called them zucchini stuffed shells for all it matters.  But pizza boats are a fairly common term, so I went with it.

I really liked this recipe.  I mean, there’s four cheeses!  What’s not to like?  Jake said that he liked the cheese mixture, but didn’t like that you could taste the zucchini.  So, I should give a disclaimer: the zucchini isn’t intended to be hidden!  If you hate zucchini, this probably isn’t the dish for you.  But trust me, for normal people it’s delicious.

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Four-Cheese Pizza Zucchini Boats

3 fresh zucchini
1/4 cup marinara sauce
8 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil or parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the zucchini and slice it in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Put about 1 heaping tablespoon of marinara onto each zucchini half and spread it out evenly.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, and garlic powder until combined.  Stir in the mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I don’t use much).  Spread evenly onto the 6 halves.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is warm and the zucchini is a little soft.  I then throw the broiler on for a minute to brown the top, but that’s optional.

Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve warm.

Source: Inspiration from Cooking Classy

Fresh Strawberry Dessert Sauce

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It’s been a busy summer, and the weather has been perfect.  Is this mother nature’s way of apologizing for the polar vortex?  We haven’t have the air conditioner on for the last two weeks, which is amazing.  I love the fresh air and I really love the low electric bills!  Add to that all of the fresh produce and the long days and it’s hard not to be happy.  We’ve been painting bathrooms and cleaning out closets and fighting over whether or not to plant trees in the back yard (I will win this battle).

Last night, Lily and Jake went to see Walking with Dinosaurs and she is still glowing.  She knows the names, eating habits, mannerisms, and pretty much every other tidbit you may or may not be interested in learning about dinosaurs, so it was a fun time.  Jake said that she got excited for each new scene and was the entertainment of the people around her.  Though supposedly there is once scene where a dead dino gets picked apart and eaten by the others, which was slightly traumatizing to my 3-year-old.  No time like the present to learn the ins and outs of the circle of life!

So, while we’ve been busy, I forgot to post this recipe from a month or two ago.  I originally made this sauce to go over the cheesecakes seen in the picture above but I didn’t like the cheesecake recipe enough to post.  The texture was off and it was way too lemony (didn’t stop Jake from liking it, but I wasn’t a fan).  The sauce is easy and delicious though, so why leave it hanging?   Plus, it’s the last day of national ice cream month, so you can whip up a batch and throw it on a scoop after dinner.  Or before dinner.  Whatever tickles your fancy.  :)

Fresh Strawberry Dessert Sauce

1 pound strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Wash and hull the strawberries.  Chop them up to the size that you would like (if you want big hunks of strawberry in the end product, cut them in half; if not then dice them smaller).

Combine the strawberries in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the strawberries have released their juice and the sugar has dissolved.  Add the corn starch, vanilla, and salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take off the heat and let cool.  Serve over ice cream, cheesecake, or really anything else that you like.  Can be kept in the fridge.

Source: L+K original, though strawberry sauce in general has obviously been around awhile!

Japanese Steakhouse Yum Yum Sauce (a.k.a White Sauce, a.k.a Shrimp Sauce)

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You know when you go to a hibachi restaurant and they give you two little containers of sauce, one that is mayo based and one that is more of a soy sauce?  Who ever eats the soy sauce?  The mayo based sauce (which I didn’t know was called yum yum sauce until I started looking for the recipe) is SO good.  I would really rather just have two of those and skip the other, but I feel like that might somehow offend the chef.  And after seeing how comfortable hibachi chefs are with knives and flames, I like to keep quiet.  I have a child to think about.

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But I still want some more of that darn yum yum sauce.  So a couple of weeks ago I went on a hunt for the recipe, and this one is really close to the restaurant version.  Jake and I ate it on roasted vegetables, and we also had it as a condiment on faux chicken sandwiches.  It was delicious both times.  And super easy to make, so I’ll likely whip up another batch this week (especially because I now have an open container of tomato paste sitting around that needs to be used… WHY do they sell it by the can when no one ever needs that much at one time?).  I can’t wait to lather it on different kinds of vegetables.  Summer produce season is the best!

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Japanese Steakhouse Yum Yum Sauce

1 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann’s/Best Foods is recommended by the original recipe author)
1/4 cup water
1 heaping tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 dash cayenne pepper powder (I like a heavy dash)

Whisk all of the ingredients together until they are combined and the sauce is smooth. Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to blend (don’t skip this step!). Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

The sauce will keep for about a week in the fridge.

Source:
Japanese-Steakhouse-White-Sauce.com 

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