Low Calorie Creamy Peanut Butter Dip

One of my fav snacks is an apple slice dipped in peanut butter, but PB has sooo many calories. PB has 190 calories and 16g fat for just 2 tbsp. This entire recipe, including an apple (which has about 95 cal) is less calories and fat than 2 tbsp of PB. How? I used PB2.

So what is PB2? It is a powder form of PB. It is made by pressing out most of the natural oils from roasted peanuts and then grinding the nuts into a fine powder. Once mixed with water or another form of liquid, it becomes peanut butter, but with only 60 calories and 1.5g fat for 2 tbsp.

To make low calories creamy peanut butter, mix 2 tbsp of the PB2 with 3 tbsp of fat free Greek Yogurt and 1 tbsp of Vanilla Cashew Milk. Cut up an apple into slices and dip away!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp PB2 powder (60 cal)
  • 3 tbsp Fat Free Greek Yogurt (22 cal)
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Cashew Milk (1.5 cal)
  • 1 apple sliced (95 cal)

Prep time 5 minutes


Mix together in a bowl 2 tbsp PB2 powder, 3 tbsp Fat Free Greek Yogurt, and 1 tbsp Vanilla Cashew Milk. Slice apple and dip into the creamy PB dip.

Tuna Avocado Egg Tower

Have you ever had Tuna Tartar at a restaurant? Delicious, but who has that type of tuna at home? We all have can tuna! And with an avocado and egg, you can make the “tartar” tower at home. It’s a great low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb lunch or dinner, or even a quick appetizer for guests.

First you need to hard boil some eggs. You only need one for this recipe, but I like to boil a few more for future snacks. You start by adding eggs to a pot, then fill the pot with water an inch above the eggs and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add a splash of white vinegar and a pinch of salt. Turn the burner off but leave the pot on the burner for 10 to 12 minutes. Then, with a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and shock them in a bowl of ice water. Once cooled, slightly crack the eggs on the counter, then put them back in the water and peel the shells off (the shells slide right off in water and you are cleaning them making sure no shell pieces stick). Drain the water and set aside.

Next, slice an avocado. Set aside 2 slices and mash up the rest (rustic, not too smooth). Squeeze 1/2 a lemon over the avocado and set aside. Then, open a can of tuna.

Place a cookie cutter or mold on a plate (preferably round or you can use the tuna can if you open both sides). Add the tuna to the bottom of the mold and tamp it down (using anything small enough to fit in the mold like a squeeze bottle).

Reserving a spoonful of avocado, add the avocado to the mold and tamp down. Then slice one of the eggs. Reserve one slice and cut up the rest. Add the cut up portion of the egg to the reserved avocado and mix. Add a pinch of salt then add that to the mold and tamp down. Top the mold with the slice of egg. Lightly pushing down on the egg slice and remove the mold by sliding it up.

Add a slice of whole wheat toast cut in corners and enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • Can Tuna
  • Avocado
  • 1/2 lemon or tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Eggs (1-6)
  • Slice of whole wheat bread

Equipment:

  • Pot
  • Slotted spoon
  • Bowl with ice water
  • Round mold (or the tuna can)
  • Something with flat bottom to tamp down food (ex: squeeze bottle)

Prep time 15 minutes
Bake time 10-12 minutes


Instructions:

HARD BOIL EGGS

  • Add eggs to a pot
  • Fill the pot with water enough to cover the eggs and an extra inch above and bring it to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add a splash of white vinegar and a pinch of salt.
  • Turn the burner off but leave the pot on the burner for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • With a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and shock them in a bowl of ice water.
  • Let cool
  • Slightly crack the eggs on the counter
  • Put the cracked eggs back in the water
  • Peel the shells off (the shells slide right off in water and you are cleaning them making sure no shell pieces stick).
  • Drain the water and set eggs aside.
  • Slice an avocado.
  • Set aside 2 slices and mash up the rest (rustic, not too smooth).
  • Squeeze 1/2 a lemon or a tablespoon of lemon juice over the avocado and set aside.
  • Slice one of the eggs.
  • Reserve one slice and cut up the rest.
  • Add a tablespoon of the mashed avocado to the cut up portion of the egg .
  • Add a pinch of salt

ASSEMBLE THE TOWER

  • Place a cookie cutter or mold on a plate (preferably round or you can use the tuna can if you open both sides).
  • Add the tuna to the bottom of the mold and tamp it down (using anything small enough to fit in the mold like a squeeze bottle).
  • Add the remaining avocado to the mold and tamp down.
  • Add the egg to the mold and tamp down.
  • Top it with the slice of egg
  • Lightly pushing down on the egg slice, remove the mold (slide up)
  • Add a slice of whole wheat toast, cut in corners, for a dipping vessel.

Individual Beef Wellingtons

Beef Wellington is a luxury steak meal that can be made at home. The puff pastry makes an amazing presentation, the ingredients taste fresh and earthy, and the dipping sauce is light and aromatic.

While Chef Gordon Ramsay did not create the Beef Wellington, he did make it famous. My recipe is a smaller, individual meal for two. I make these Individual Beef Wellingtons for my hubby and I on special occasions.

The Individual Beef Wellingtons are made with 2 filet Mignons (tenderloin steaks, which is kind of pricy but you can’t skimp on the main ingredient) brushed with mustard, wrapped in a crepe, lined with prosciutto and mushrooms, then encased in puff pastry, with a side red wine dipping sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about this meal. There are a few steps you can do the day before or early.

First thing to do is defrost 1 sheet if frozen puff pastry in the fridge the day before or on the counter the day of making this recipe.

Make the crepe early, the day before, or even buy it pre-made at the store. To make it, beat 1 egg, add 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of half & half (I use fat free), chopped soft herbs (parsley or chives), chopped thyme, and a dash of salt. This is a very loose pancake mix. Let that rest in the fridge for about 1/2 hour. Take a crepe pan (or a small round frying pan) and heat it on medium. Spray it with cooking spray, and place 1/4 cup of the crepe mix into the pan and swirl the pan in a circular motion so the crepe mix fully covers the bottom of the pan all the way to the edge. Cook for about 30 seconds until you can slide a flat spatula under the crepe and carefully flip it. If you’re daring, you can flip it with just the pan. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Both sides should have little to no brown color. Slide the crepe onto a dish and cover it with parchment paper, and repeat for the 2nd crepe. Place the 2nd crepe on the parchment paper over the 1st crepe. Place the crepes in the fridge to cool.

Note: Most recipes use chives, but I never have that in the house and I always have parsley, so I use parsley. You can experiment with all kinds of soft fresh herbs, whatever you have on hand. I would not use a hard herb like rosemary for the crepes.

Shape the steaks the day before or early. Take a long sheet of plastic wrap and place the steaks on their side at one end of the plastic wrap. Roll them into the plastic wrap, towards the end, into a round shape. Wrap twine around the plastic sides. Put the steaks in the fridge up to overnight.

When the steak’s round shapes are set, remove the twine and plastic wrap and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the steaks. Heat oil in a small pan and sear the steaks for 1 minute per side, on all sides. Use the sides of the pan to help you sear the round edge. Why a small pan? You’ll use this pan for the mushrooms, then for the wine sauce. When the steak are seared, move them to a plate and (while still hot) brush Dijon mustard over the entire steak, then move them to the fridge to chill.

Prepare the mushrooms. Clean the mushrooms with a slightly damp paper towel. Then chop them up (even the stems if they are pliable and not hard) and sauté them in the same small pan as the steaks in a little oil until all the moisture is gone, about 10 minutes. You can cook these in batches if needed. After the mushrooms are cooked, cool them and chop them up into very small pieces (do this last step after they are cooked or they can overcook in the pan).

When everything is cooled, assemble the steak and crepe. Place 3 sheets of plastic wrap on the counter, lay 1 crepe, then 2 prosciuttos (over lapping them) on top of the crepe. Top that with a scoop of the mushrooms. Place 1 steak on top of the mushrooms. Cut the sides of the crepe to cover the steak from top to bottom. Using the plastic wrap, form the crepe around the steak tightly. Use a twist tie to secure it and place it in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour, place another 3 sheets of plastic wrap on the counter. Place 1/2 of the sheet of defrosted puff pastry on top and roll it out. Take the steaks from the fridge, remove and discard that plastic wrap and place the crepe/steak on the puff pastry. Using the new plastic wrap, surround the steak with the pastry, using the plastic wrap to help you push the pastry up and over the steak until the edges melt together. Tie a twist tie to secure the plastic wrap, and put it back in the fridge for an hour to set.

Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the Wellingtons on the parchment paper seam side down. Scramble 1 egg yoke and brush the yoke over the puff pastry. Then, using a butter knife, cut slits into the pastry, do not cut all the way through.

Bake for 20 minutes, then take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

While the Wellingtons are baking, make the red wine dipping sauce. In the same pan you used for the steaks and mushrooms, heat oil and add thinly sliced onions to the pan with a pinch of salt. Saute for a few minutes, then add wine and stock (beef, chicken or veggie stock). Scrape up all the bits at the bottom of the pan. Bring to a strong simmer and reduce by half.

Serve. Cut the Beef Wellington in half and serve the red wine dipping sauce in a small side bowl.

To reheat, preheat the oven to to 250. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray it with cooking spray. Cut the leftovers into 1 inch slices and place them on the parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes. You are just heating it, not cooking it. And reheat the dipping sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop.


Ingredients:

PASTRY

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted, divided in half
  • 1 egg yoke

CREPE

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup half & half (fat free or full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped soft herbs (parsley or chives)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • Dash of salt

CREPE FILLING

  • 2 filet mignons
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Handful button mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper

WINE DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1 small onion or shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups stock (beef, chicken or veggie stock)
  • Salt and pepper

Prep time 3 hours up to overnight
Bake time 20 mins
Rest time 5-10 mins


Instructions:

DAY BEFORE OR EARLY

  • Defrost 1 sheet if frozen puff pastry in the fridge.
  • Make the crepe…..
  • Beat 1 egg.
  • Mix in 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of half & half, chopped parsley, chopped thyme, and a dash of salt.
  • Let that rest in the fridge for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour.
  • Take a crepe pan (or a small round frying pan) and heat it on medium.
  • Spray it with cooking spray.
  • Place 1/4 cup of the crepe mix into the pan and swirl the pan in a circular motion so the crepe mix fully covers the bottom of the pan all the way to the edge.
  • Cook for about 30 seconds, then flip it.
  • Cook the other side for about 30 seconds.
  • NOTE: Both sides should have little to no brown color.
  • Slide the crepe onto a dish and cover it with parchment paper.
  • Repeat for the 2nd crepe. Place the 2nd crepe on the parchment paper over the 1st crepe.
  • Place the crepes in the fridge to cool for at least an hour.

PREPARE THE STEAKS

  • Place a long sheet of plastic wrap on the counter
  • Place the steaks on their side at one end of the plastic wrap.
  • Roll them into the plastic wrap, towards the end, into a round shape.
  • Wrap twine around the plastic sides.
  • Put the steaks back in the fridge for an hour up to overnight.

PREPARE THE MUSHROOMS

  • Clean the mushrooms with a slightly damp paper towel.
  • Chop them up (even the stems if they are pliable and not hard)
  • Add a little oil to a pan and sauté the mushrooms until all the moisture is gone, about 10 minutes.
  • NOTE: You can cook these in batches if needed.
  • Cool the mushrooms and chop them up into very small pieces (do this last step after they are cooked or they can overcook in the pan).

PREPARE THE WELLINGTONS

  • Remove round steaks from the fridge.
  • Remove the twine and plastic wrap.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the steaks.
  • Heat a small pan with a little oil and sear the steaks for 1 minute per side, on all sides.
  • NOTE: Use the sides of the pan to help you sear the round edge.
  • Move them to a plate and (while still hot) brush Dijon mustard over the entire steak.
  • Move them to the fridge to chill.
  • When the steaks are cooled, assemble the meat and crepe.
  • Place 3 sheets of plastic wrap on the counter.
  • Lay 1 crepe, then 2 prosciuttos (over lapping them) on top of the crepe.
  • Top that with a scoop of the mushrooms.
  • Place 1 steak on top of the mushrooms.
  • Cut the sides of the crepe to cover the steak from top to bottom.
  • Using the plastic wrap, form the crepe around the steak tightly. Use a twist tie to secure.
  • Repeat for the 2nd steak.
  • Place both in the fridge for an hour.
  • After an hour, place another 3 sheets of plastic wrap on the counter.
  • Place 1/2 of the sheet of defrosted puff pastry on top and roll it out.
  • Take the steaks from the fridge, remove and discard that plastic wrap.
  • Place 1 of the crepe/steak on the puff pastry.
  • Using the new plastic wrap, surround the steak with the pastry, using the plastic wrap to help you push the pastry up and over the steak until the edge melts together.
  • Tie a twist tie to secure the plastic wrap.
  • Repeat for the 2nd pastry/crepe steak.
  • Put then back in the fridge for an hour to set.

BAKE THE WELLINGTONS AND PREPARE WINE DIPPING SAUCE

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the Wellingtons on the paper seam side down.
  • Scramble 1 egg yoke and brush the yoke over the puff pastry.
  • Then, using a butter knife, cut slits into the pastry, do not cut all the way through.
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • While the Wellingtons are baking, make the red wine dipping sauce.
  • Slice an onion into thin slices.
  • In the same pan you used to sear the steaks and mushrooms, heat a little oil.
  • Add thinly sliced onions to the pan with a pinch of salt.
  • Sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add wine and stock (beef, chicken or veggie stock).
  • Scrape up all the bits at the bottom of the pan.
  • Bring to a strong simmer and reduce by half.
  • Take the Wellingtons out of the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Cut the Wellingtons in half and place the wine dipping sauce on the side

Enjoy

Rolled Lasagna Christmas Wreath

Lasagna is a family favorite. I make lasagna every holiday and family get togethers. The ingredients are traditional, with some healthy alternatives. The difference with this recipe is the presentation. Instead of layering the pasta, I roll it up. It tastes the same as layered, but rolled is a prettier presentation (and less messy).

You can make the rolled lasagna in a 13×9 inch baking dish, or a 12 inch round cake pan.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of uncooked lasagna noodle (18 count) (less for smaller pans)
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • (optional) 1 bl. ground beef (*healthy alternative – ground turkey)
  • 1 (or 2) 24 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons Italian seasoning or fresh herbs minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (*healthy alternative – fat free)
  • 12 oz. whole milk Ricotta cheese (*healthy alternative – low fat)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg

Wreath and Bow Ingredients

  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes

Equipment

  • 12 inch round cake pan (or 13×9 inch baking dish)
  • Pot
  • Mixing bowl
  • Roll of plastic wrap
  • Cooking spray
  • Tin foil
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Small container for dipping sauce

Prep time 30 mins
Bake time 60 mins
Rest time 15 mins


Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350o
  • Heat a pot and add oil
  • Add the chopped onion and sprinkle with salt, cook a few minutes on low
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds
  • Add meat (if using) to the pot and mix with the onion and garlic. Cook until the meat is browned.
  • Add the tomato sauce and herbs, and simmer on low
  • When the sauce is ready, cool it
  • Boil the lasagna noodles (use the package directions)
  • When the noodles are cooked, drain and rinse
  • On your counter, lay down 1 piece of parchment paper (large enough for a few noodles) and spray it slightly with cooking spray
  • Place a layer of a few noodles on the paper, leaving room between noodles) and spray with cooking spray
  • Place another piece of parchment paper on top of noodles
  • Repeat with another layer of noodles, then paper
  • In a bowl, mix together the mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, and most of the parsley. Set aside.

Assemble for the Lasagna Wreath

  • Spread a circle of sauce in a round (12 inch) cake pan, set aside
  • Place a dollop of the cheese mixture on each of the top layer off noodle’s, and spread
  • Place a dollop of sauce on the cheese and spread
  • Roll each noodle away from you, and place the filled rolled noodle, seam side down, in the pan on top of the sauce in a circle
  • Repeat until finished with 16 rolls leaving 2 noodles (removing the parchment paper when that layer is done)
  • Cut the last 2 noodles long ways 2/3 width
  • Place the noodles, over lapping, inside the circle (helps keep the cheese in the rolled noodles in place)
  • Place a long piece (folded) of tin foil inside the circle (to keep the shape)
  • Pour most of the sauce on top of the noodles, reserve some for dipping
  • Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and parsley to top
  • Cover with tin foil (tent the foil so it doesn’t touch the cheese)
  • AT THIS POINT you can put it in the fridge to cook later, or continue below
  • Bake covered for 45 minutes
  • Remove foil and bake another 15 mins (or broil 5 minutes)
  • Take it out if the oven and cool for about 15 minutes, remove all the tin foil
  • While cooking, heat the dipping sauce
  • Place the dipping sauce in the center

Assemble green Wreath and Bow

  • Wreath
  • Remove a few leaves from the bottom of the rosemary stems to make a skewer
  • Slide a cherry tomato from the bottom up on the rosemary stem
  • Add a ring of plain rosemary, inside the center, then add the skewered rosemary over them
  • BOW
  • Remove a few leaves from 2 rosemary stems to make skewers
  • Slide 1 into the side of a cherry tomato, then slide the other on the opposite side
  • Place the bow on the top of the noodles wreath
  • Serve warm

Notes

For the rosemary wreath, find 1 rosemary stem with a sturdy stem and set aside to use last. If other stems are a bit weak, you can use the sturdy stem to make the hole, remove, and place the weaker stem in the hole. Use the sturdy one last

For the filling, for those that do not like ricotta cheese, these rolled up lasagnas can be made with out it. I do have a few family members who don’t like too much cheese, and they call this “Maureen’s Special Lasagna”. I always make one with and one without, so everyone is happy.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please let me know if you make this.

Fruit and Cheese Christmas Tree

I can’t remember the last holiday gathering where fruit and cheese wasn’t an appetizer. It’s easy to assemble, can make it ahead of time, and everyone can enjoy it while the meal is cooking.

I made this for our family’s Christmas gathering. It’s pretty simple. Just arrange the fruit and cheese in a triangle, and add crackers. Adding some greenery (like parsley, kale, or rosemary) brings this tree to life. The base of the tree is simply crackers.

You can assemble this in the morning, cover it and place in the fridge until your guests arrive.

Deviled Eggs Christmas Wreath

Deviled eggs is a easy appetizer that looks and tastes great. It can go with about any holiday or family gathering. I made this Christmas Wreath for the family and it was a win!

The recipe has all the traditional ingredients, and with some food coloring, it transforms the normal deviled eggs into a holiday treat.

Ingredients

  • Hard boiled eggs (homemade or store bought)
  • Red and Green food coloring
  • 2 cups of Water, divided
  • 2 bowls
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (fat free for a more healthier meal)
  • 1 teaspoon of yellow or Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika
  • Bow: Small red or yellow pepper and a cherry tomato (optional)

Recipe and plating

  • Cut the eggs in half (lengthwise) and scoop out the yolks into a bowl
  • Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper, set aside
  • To one bowl filled with 1 cup of water, add about 5 drops of red food coloring (more or less to get your desired color)
  • In another bowl of water, add about 5 (more or less) drops of green food coloring.
  • Place half of the egg whites into one of the bowls of colored water, and the other half in the other bowl (you may have to do this in stages) and allow to sit in the water until the eggs are the shade you like
  • Pat the eggs dry
  • Fill the egg whites with the egg mayonnaise mixture
  • Place a ring of greenery and place the eggs on top (in a circle)
  • Sprinkle paprika on top of each egg
  • For the bow, cut a slice from a small red pepper
  • Remove any seeds and cut part of the bottom of the slice off
  • Cut a small cherry tomato in half (vertically) and keep the bottom
  • Place the pepper slice at the bottom of the place and top it with the bottom part of the cherry tomato
  • Cover and refrigerate until your guests arrive (up to 24 hours)

Regrow Vegetables and Fruits for FREE

Vegetables and fruits are so expensive – and we usually throw away the parts we don’t eat. Don’t waste these parts. You can regrow new ones FOR FREE from the ones you already have. You can regrow vegetables and fruits from store bought ones or home grown, and from either their roots or their seeds.

Two of my favorite (and easiest) vegetables to regrow are lettuce and celery. I hate to throw anything away, and these two items I use from top to bottom. If I’m not using the scraps for stock, I use them to regrow new veggies.

HOW TO REGROW LETTUCE AND CELERY

Use a round head of iceberg lettuces. Turn it over and have the stem/root (brown round part) on top, and press it down. This will easily remove all the leaves from the stem, and you’ll be left with a pointy stem/root. Use celery that is still attached to the root. Cut off most of the celery stalks off, leaving about an inch or two from the bottom. Clean both with a damp paper towel. Place both the lettuce and the celery roots in separate cups and fill the bottom with water that JUST covers the bottom root. The leaves from the lettuce, and the stalks from the celery, will start to regrow. You will also see roots growing from the bottom of the celery. Remember to change the water daily. I regrow these right in my kitchen.

1. Use a round head of iceberg lettuces. Turn it over and have the stem/root (brown round part) on top, and press it down. This will easily remove all the leaves from the stem, and you’ll be left with a pointy stem/root.


2. Use celery that is still attached to the root. Cut off most of the celery stalks off, leaving about an inch or two from the bottom.


3. Clean both with a damp paper towel.


4. Place both the lettuce and the celery roots in separate cups and fill the bottom with water that JUST covers the bottom root.


5. The leaves from the lettuce, and the stalks from the celery, will start to regrow. You will also see roots growing from the bottom of the celery.


6. Remember to change the water daily.


I regrow these right in my kitchen.

You can also use the seeds from fresh fruits or veggies to regrow new ones. Don’t throw away the seeds – they’re a gift. A few of my favorites to regrow are lemons, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Try to regrow veggies from the seeds from YOUR fresh fruits and veggies. Cut open your veggie and remove the seeds. Clean the seeds with a damp towel. Let them dry on a dry paper towel for a day. Put dirt in a planter, or in the ground in a sunny place, and press your finger down a little bit to make a shallow hole (the smaller the seed, the smaller the hole). Place a seed in that hole and cover it with more dirt. You can start the growing process indoors by placing the planter in either a sunny place next to a window or use a grow lamp. Water your seeds and you should see them sprout soon.

REGROW FROM SEEDS


1. Cut open your veggie and remove the seeds.


2. Clean the seeds with a damp towel.


3. Let them dry on a dry paper towel for a day.


4. Put dirt in a planter, or in the ground in a sunny place, and press your finger down a little bit to make a shallow hole (the smaller the seed, the smaller the hole).


5. Place a seed in that hole and cover it with more dirt.


6. You can start the growing process indoors by placing the planter in either a sunny place next to a window or use a grow lamp.


7. Water your seeds and you should see them sprout soon.

FREE Homemade Stock from Scraps

The words “Free” and “Homemade” and “Scraps” usually don’t go together. “Free” could mean worthless, “Homemade” can be overwhelming, and “Scraps” mean trash. But you CAN make Free Homemade stock with ingredients you will have in your kitchen at some point, and it’s easy to make.

The key to FREE is the scraps. Don’t throw it away. Keep it and freeze it until you need it. It’s take a little preparation and time, but you’ll have the ingredients to make stock soon (and it will be FREE). When I need some stock, I just go to my freezer.

And “homemade stock” sounds SO IMPRESSIVE. But between you and me, it’s easy and free.

What scraps should you save?

The parts of a vegetable or meat bones you don’t use or eat that you usually throw away. These parts are still full of flavor, and you already spent money on it – so don’t throw it away.

What scraps should you save in a freezer bag and freeze?

  • The ends of fresh veggies. For example, when I cut off the ends of an onion, instead of throwing that part away, I put it in a freezer bag or container and keep it in the freezer for later (and label it).
  • The large ends of a carrot
  • The inside ribs and tops of a bell pepper
  • The base or white end of celery
  • A fresh veggie that is about to go bad but is still good. If it’s still good but you won’t be using it soon, freeze it.
  • Bones from a steak. I cut out the bone (sometimes before and sometimes after I cook it). Keep the bones in a freezer bag (and mark it cooked or uncooked – keep these separate)
  • The tips of the wings of a chicken (make sure you label this as uncooked chicken).
  • After you cook a whole chicken or buy a cooked rotisserie chicken from the store, don’t throw away the bones. Freeze this too (and label this as cooked chicken).
  • Whether you grow your own herbs or buy full herbs on the stems, you will use only the leaves for meal. Don’t throw away the stems. They are packed with flavor. Keep them in their own bags in the freezer.

Scraps will add up quickly!

How to make FREE Stock

  1. Gather enough scraps in your freezer (fresh veggie scraps, chicken or steak scraps, herbs scraps), and then defrost them.
  2. If using an uncooked raw item, saute it until cooked (you don’t have to use meat for this stock- it can be just veggies and herbs stock).
  3. Saute the scrap veggies just a bit to get some color. Don’t over cook them. This develops a more robust flavor.
  4. Fill a stockpot with water and add the meat (if any), veggies and herb stems (if you don’t have scrap herbs, you can just use dry Italian seasoning or whatever spices you have on hand. Hey, how about that extra ramen noodle “flavor” packet you have lying around, sure, use it, I know you have one!)
  5. Add a little salt and pepper. And if you have it, add a bay leaf and peppercorns.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  7. Simmer a few hours until the water is a nice color and flavorful.
  8. Strain the stock water into a container removing all the scraps and anything you added. Use a cheesecloth if you have it.
  9. Put the stock in an air-tight container (I put mine in mason jars that I buy my pasta sauces in. Remember to clean them thoroughly – free tip) and keep in the fridge, use it tonight, or you can freeze the stock for late use.

What can you use the stock for?

  • I use the stock in place of water in a lot of my cooking
  • I cook my rice in stock instead of just water
  • Soups
  • Ramen Noodle soup instead of the “flavor” packet (but keep the packet! You never know when you can use it to spice up a meal – another free tip)
  • Sauces
  • Flavored slurry for a thickening agent
  • Hydrate and cook dry beans
  • When cooking frozen veggies and it says to add a tablespoon or two of water, use the stock!
  • Poaching chicken breasts

If I spent my hard earned money on it, I’m going use it!

Air Fryer Cornish Hen

I recently bought an Air Fryer, and I’m in love. It’s like a stove and a microwave had a baby. I have used it almost every night, and even lost a few pounds (yea me). Food comes out so crispy even though you don’t use oil. You use spray oil instead. And since spray oil is calorie free, fat free, sodium free, and carb free – it will become your new best friend.

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You can also bake in an Air Fryer, but I’m not that much into baking. I’ll try it soon.

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Lately, I’ve make chicken wings, fries, chicken breasts several ways (plain, breaded, parmesan, etc.), veggies, but this Cornish Hen recipe is one of my favorites to cook in the stove, so I had to try it in the Air Fryer. I did not miss my stove!

 

 

I like to brine the Cornish hen for an hour or two to give it some much needed flavor.

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After brining, I also put compound butter under the skin before I cook it. Those two things are magic. You can do the same for a large chicken or a turkey, you will need just double the ingredients.

 

 

Just before you are ready to cook, you should preheat the Air Fryer for a few minutes. And when the Air Fryer is ready, you should spray the Air Fryer’s basket and then the food with spray oil. Then I cook the Cornish hen at 390 for 25 minutes. When it’s done, I take the basket out and place a piece of tin foil over the hen and let it rest for a few minutes. I hope you enjoy.

 

 

Hint: I use the same “butter” for a lot of different meals, so I make more than what is needed for this recipe and keep it in the fridge so it’s ready to go when I need it. This is awesome tossed with veggies before (and even after) you Air Fry them. You can use a small dollop on a cooked steak too.

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Prep Time 1-2 hrs| Cook Time 25 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • Cornish hen
  • Fresh Herbs (Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley)(any fresh or dry herbs)
  • 6 cups of water (enough to submerge one Cornish hen)
  • Ice
  • Heaping tablespoon of Brown Sugar
  • Tablespoon Salt
  • Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • Spray Oil
  • Tablespoon I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
  • Gallon bag & a bowl
  • Tinfoil
  • Air Fryer
  • Pot
  • 2  cuttings boards (1 for raw chicken, 1 for everything else)

STEPS

BRINE

  1. Separate the herbs into two piles. One for the Brine and one for the butter
  2. In a pot, add water and bring it to a boil
  3. Once it boils, add the brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, and herbs (or a tablespoon of dry herbs, rub in palms to break them open)
  4. Cook for 5 minutes
  5. Take the pot off the stove and add ice to cool it down
  6. Place a gallon bag into a bowl (in case it leaks)
  7. Remove the Cornish hen from its plastic container
  8. Remove giblets if there are any
  9. Rinse the Cornish hen
  10. Loosen the skin of the Cornish Hen (do not tear)
  11. Place the Cornish Hen in the gallon bag
  12. Add more water if needed to cover the entire Cornish hen
  13. Close the bag and put the bowl in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours

COMPOUND BUTTER

  1. Remove the leaves off the stems of the fresh herbs and discard the stems and use the leaves only
  2. Chop up the leaves finely (if you use dry herbs
  3. Put I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in a bowl and add the herbs (or a tablespoon of dry herbs, rub in palms to break them open)
  4. Leave it on the counter for an hour

PREPARE AND AIR FRY

  1. Preheat the Air Fryer at 390 for 5 minutes
  2. Remove the Cornish hen from the gallon bag and discard the bag and the brine
  3. Rub the “butter” under the Cornish hen’s skin on the breasts and legs
  4. Spray the Air Fryer’s basket with spray oil
  5. Place the Cornish hen in the Air Fryer’s basket, breast side up, and spray it with spray oil
  6. Cook the Cornish hen for about 25 minutes, spraying it 1 to 2 times
  7. Take the basket out and put a piece of tin foil over the hen and let it rest for a few minutes.

I served this with a side salad, but any side will do.

20191001_193828I hope you enjoy. If you make this recipe, or any of the recipes, please let me know your thoughts.

Baked Blooming Onion

When I think blooming onion, I think CALORIES. Thousands of calories.  But it’s SO good. So I came up with a recipe that’s a fraction of the calories, and it’s delicious. My Baked Blooming Onion is sweet and spicy, without the oily aftertaste. With just a few ingredients you can make this recipe for a side dish or for a snack.

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Take the outer paper off an onion. Cut the top off, but leave the bottom on.  Cut into wedges without cutting the bottom so it stays intact. Gently open up the onion wedges. Sprinkle with spices and then spray the onion with cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. In the meantime, mix mayo and ketchup with the same spices for a dipping sauce.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes |  Cook Time: 20 Minutes

  • 1 baking sheet (or cake pan)
  • Onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • Tablespoon Garlic powder
  • Tablespoon Onion powder
  • Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Salt and Pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • Light mayonnaise (or fat free Greek Yogurt)
  • Ketchup

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Take the outer paper(skin) off an onion
  3. Cut the top off the onion (just a little off the top) but keep the bottom
  4. Cut the onion into wedges (but don’t cut into the bottom center so it stays together)
  5. Place the onion on a baking sheet or cake pan
  6. Gently open up the onion
  7. Mix together all the spices and sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture onto the onion (reserve the other 1/2 for the dipping sauce)
  8. Spray the onion with cooking spray
  9. Bake for 20 minutes
  10. Mix mayo and ketchup with the remaining spice mix
  11. Take the onion out of the oven and let it cool slightly
  12. Serve warm
  13. Pull a slice of the onion off and dip it into the sauce

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