Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's For Dinner: Ham, Broccoli, and Cheddar Frittata

This Ham, Broccoli, and Cheddar Frittata is a crowd-pleaser and perfect for sharing at a weekend brunch or summertime picnic. 

Our hens are laying eggs like whoa lately. As in more than a dozen a day. As in, I have a fridge full of eggs and plenty more waiting in queue on our countertop.

Basically, we need to eat a lot of eggs. Quiches and frittatas are an easy way to use up a bunch of eggs in one go, and make for easy-to-reheat leftovers. Plus, the flavor combinations are endless, which means we don't have to eat the same thing day in and day out. (Not that we eat quiche every day, but we probably do eat it at least once a week.)

This frittata recipe features diced cooked ham, broccoli, and cheddar cheese along with the aforementioned eggs. To make it slightly healthier, for about half of the eggs I just use egg whites. Our dogs get to snack on the extra yolks, or I'll pop them in the freezer for later use in a different recipe. (Custard, anyone?)

Ham, Broccoli, and Cheddar Frittata (printer-friendly version)
makes 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup small diced cooked ham
5 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
dash of red pepper flakes
pinch ground oregano
1/2 cup shredded aged white cheddar
Hungarian paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9- or 10-inch pie dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and mushrooms and saute until softened and the onion is golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped broccoli and continue cooking until the broccoli turns bright green and is just tender, about 2-3 minutes more.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and milk. Stir in the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano. 
4. Spread the cooked vegetables onto the bottom of the prepped pie dish. Then carefully pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture. Spread the shredded cheddar cheese evenly over top. Sprinkle with Hungarian paprika.
5. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the center of the frittata has just set. 
6. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's For Dinner: The Easiest (Seriously!) Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken

Dinnertime doesn't get easier (or tastier) than this recipe for The Easiest Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken. 

The Easiest (Seriously!) Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken || A Less Processed Life

This slow cooker BBQ shredded chicken is one of our weekly go-to dinner recipes. It couldn't be simpler to make and takes less than 5 minutes to prep the ingredients for the slow cooker.

The Easiest (Seriously!) Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken || A Less Processed Life

If I were feeling particularly ambitious, I could make the barbecue sauce from scratch (see the bottom of this post for a sample recipe), but on a weeknight, I'd much rather throw a couple of ingredients together and call it a day. So, obviously, choose your favorite barbecue sauce to use in this recipe, as it is a feature flavor, and you don't want to skimp here.

For a simple dinner, we'll serve the BBQ chicken over rice, but it can also just as easily be made into slider sandwiches served with coleslaw and a little extra slather of barbecue sauce. For best results, use a slow cooker with an automatic warm option after the cook time is up; too long in the slow cooker, even on the low setting, and you could end up with less-than-appetizing dried out chicken. And no one wants that for dinner.

Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken (printer-friendly version)
makes 4-6 servings

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce (reserve a few tablespoons for serving)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cooked rice, for serving

1. Pat the chicken thighs dry and place in the slow cooker. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Cover the chicken with barbecue sauce and gently stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes or cook on low for 3 hours.
2. After the chicken is cooked (it should reach a temperature of 165 degrees), remove from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Add the water to the cornstarch and stir to make a slurry. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Place the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker and cook on the low setting for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
3. Serve over rice alongside extra barbecue sauce, if desired.

The Easiest (Seriously!) Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken || A Less Processed Life


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What's For Dinner: Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata

This Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata is a springtime favorite for the whole family.

Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata || A Less Processed Life

As I mentioned last week, the downside of baking a whole bone-in ham is that, if you're not cooking it to feed a crowd, there's a good chance you're going to have leftovers for days. As in, many days. Many many days.

Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata || A Less Processed Life

While of course repeating the ham dinner for a night or two is not a terrible thing, nor is ham sandwiches for lunch. But after awhile, you might run out of ideas. And let me just say, if you're in a super time crunch, there's nothing wrong with chopping some of the leftover ham into bite-size pieces and stirring it into a big ol' pot of macaroni and cheese. (I call that a Scout dinner, as it reminds me of a traditional Girl Scout camp meal of cut up hot dogs in mac & cheese. Very classy.)

Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata || A Less Processed Life

However, one of the easiest (and tastiest) ways to use up leftover ham is in a frittata or quiche. This recipe for Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata is no exception. It's like the epitome of springtime in one simple dish.

Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata || A Less Processed Life

And while it may look like you sweated over the stove for hours to make it, it actually only takes less than 30 minutes to make it. That makes this meal a perfect option for any night of the week.

Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Frittata
makes 4-6 servings

4 large eggs
4 large egg whites
2 tablespoons 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound asparagus, rinsed and ends removed, then chopped into 1" segments
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup diced cooked ham
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Place a rack at the top setting in your oven and set the oven to broiler.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped asparagus and sliced scallions. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the cooked ham. Continue until warmed through, 2-3 minutes. Remove most of the asparagus tops and set aside.
3. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture and cook gently for 5 minutes until the edges are set, but the center is still loose. Place the asparagus tops onto the top of the frittata in whatever pattern you choose.
4. Place the frittata in the oven and broil until the eggs are just set (watch it closely!), 1-3 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

What's On the Side: Potatoes Au Gratin

You can't go wrong with the cheesy goodness of Potatoes Au Gratin hot from the oven. 

Potatoes Au Gratin || A Less Processed Life

If you're going to serve ham for Easter dinner, you're going to need to also serve something delicious on the side. This recipe for potatoes au gratin definitely fits the bill.

Potatoes Au Gratin || A Less Processed Life

I'm a huge fan of potatoes any day of the week, but slather them in a decadent cheese sauce, and I am all in.

Potatoes Au Gratin || A Less Processed Life

This au gratin dish is made with Swiss and Parmesan cheeses, but feel free to play around with what you have on hand. I think a sharp cheddar or a gruyere would also make for a tasty dish. You can make it even more decadent by subbing in whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream for the 1% milk I used. Once put together, bake it in the oven until the sauce is bubbling away and the tops of the potatoes are lightly browned. And then just try to resist the urge to dig right in ... but you wouldn't be the first person to burn their tongue with a too-early taste. :)

Potatoes Au Gratin
makes 6-8 servings

6 cups peeled, sliced russet potatoes (1/4-inch slices)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups 1% milk
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch deep pie dish with butter or cooking spray and set aside.
2. Cook the sliced potatoes in boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until tender, then drain.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour until absorbed. Whisk in the milk. Continue cooking (and whisking) until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the the heat and stir in 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, salt, pepper, and garlic.
4. Arrange half of the potatoes in overlapping layers in the pie dish. Pour half of the sauce over the potatoes. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and sauce. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup Swiss cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with paprika.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until browned on top. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

(adapted from a recipe in 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What's For Dinner: Slow-Baked Bone-in Whole Smoked Ham

When it comes to cooking a bone-in whole smoked ham, low and slow is the way to go.

Slow-Baked Bone-in Whole Smoked Ham  || A Less Processed Life

In the Northwoods, more often than not, "April Showers" refers to "Snow Showers." Case in point, after a lovely weekend in the 60s and 70s, last night we got 5 inches of snow. Despite what the calendar says, it definitely looks a lot more like Christmas outside than Easter. Ah, the joys of living in Northern Wisconsin.

Regardless of the weather situation, Easter is just around the corner. Most of my Easter food memories center on jelly beans and besuited chocolate bunny rabbits (the ones from Agalmesis are my favorite). But you can't eat candy for dinner. (Well, at least you shouldn't, anyway.)

Slow-Baked Bone-in Whole Smoked Ham  || A Less Processed Life

When it comes to Easter dinner, ham is the centerpiece on many tables. Up until now, I'd never cooked a whole ham. Turns out, though the cut of meat might be a little daunting at first, it's actually a snap to make. My ham was a whole smoked ham that came from a pig named Scratchy (yeah, I'm a terrible farmer who names the animals) that we raised on our farm back in 2015. The downside of having a whole ham is that it feeds a lot of people. Dustin's parents were in town recently, making it a perfect time to try to cook up my first ham and have plenty of people to share it with. (However, we still ended up with plenty of leftovers: I've got a few leftover ham recipes to share in the next few weeks, too.)

Slow-Baked Bone-in Whole Smoked Ham  || A Less Processed Life

I went super-simple with my first oven-baked ham. I decided to focus on the ham's flavor and opted to forego a glaze. If you are feeling particularly fancy, you could stud the top of the ham with whole cloves before baking; but again, I wanted to go au naturel with this recipe. There are plenty of great glaze recipes available on the web; for my next ham I'm thinking a maple-bourbon glaze could be a delicious combination.

Slow-Baked Bone-in Whole Smoked Ham
makes 10-12 servings 

10-pound bone-in smoked whole ham

1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. 
2. Use a sharp knife to score the skin-and-fat side of the ham about 1/8-inch deep in a diamond pattern. (Slice diagonally across the ham in one direction, and then slice diagonally in the opposite direction to make the diamonds.)
3. Put the ham fat-side-up in a roasting pan. Cover it loosely with foil and bake for 4 to 6 hours. The internal temperature should read 145 degrees.
4. Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

What's Baking: Almond Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

No flour? No problem. You won't miss the wheat one bit in these
tasty gluten-free Almond Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies. 

 Almond Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies {Gluten-Free!} || A Less Processed Life

I am a major fan of chocolate chip cookies. The other day a coworker and I were discussing our favorite cookie recipes and I mentioned that I rarely got the yield out of a recipe that it said it made. Like, if the recipe says it makes 48 cookies, I'll more likely only get 3/4 of that yield at best. That definitely couldn't be because I consume so much of the cookie dough while making said cookies, right? Nah. That couldn't be it.

 Almond Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies {Gluten-Free!} || A Less Processed Life

I think one of the things that drew me to this recipe was that it was low-yield, meaning I wouldn't be as tempted to eat so much of the dough. The number of cookies you'll get out of this recipe will totally depend on how big your scoops of cookie dough are; I used a 1.5 tablespoon scoop and baked up about 14 cookies; I think the original recipe yielded about 20 cookies. Also, to make larger cookies, be sure to flatten your cookies quite a bit, otherwise they'll be a little rounder and smaller, as mine are.

Almond Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies (printer-friendly version)
makes 14 cookies

1 1/4 cups almond meal
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, chopped dark chocolate chips, shredded coconut, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until uniform in color and doubled in volume.
3. Add the coconut oil and vanilla to the egg and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
4. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls (I used a 1.5 tablespoon scoop), then place on the baking sheet with about 1 1/2 inches of space between each ball. Press the dough balls down to flatten them. Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 7-10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Store leftover cookies at room temperature in an airtight container.

(adapted from this recipe from Minimalist Baker)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

What's Baking: Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread

Banana bread gets an upgrade with a little cinnamon swirl in the center.

It has been 140 days since I last posted a banana bread recipe. Clearly, I am long past due in giving you another one.

This recipe for cinnamon-swirl banana bread is a riff on my recipe for cinnamon-sugar crusted banana bread, which has quickly become my go-to recipe.

The other day I thought to myself, you know what would make this bread better? A little cinnamon swirl in the center.

Turns out, I was right. The cinnamon swirl was a great idea. I added a little unsweetened cocoa powder to the cinnamon swirl mixture to give it a little darker color; it adds just the tiniest cocoa flavor, so if you don't have any cocoa powder on hand, feel free to leave it out.

Truth be told, more often than not, I buy bananas solely for the purpose of leaving them on the counter to get overripe. It is a happy day when the grocery store is selling overripe bananas on a deep discount. Sometimes it's the little things, no?

Is there anything better than the aroma of freshly-baked banana bread? Served warm from the oven with a cup of tea or hot coffee, it's my favorite mid-morning snack.

Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread (printer-friendly version)
makes one 8-inch loaf

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned

For the cinnamon swirl:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8" x 4" loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the syrup, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir in the mashed bananas and then stir in the melted coconut oil.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, ground cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
6. Spoon half of the batter into the prepped loaf pan. Sprinkle evenly with half the cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with the remaining batter, then sprinkle evenly with the remaining cinnamon sugar.
7. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Wrap any leftovers in foil and store at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five days.

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