The Best Recipes of 2016

To celebrate the end of 2016, I’m sharing this list of your favorite recipes from Mamma’s Cooking. Thank you for reading!

1.  Appetizer Ideas for Thanksgiving

2. Rainbow Pizza

3. Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey

4. Spoon Roast

5. Gingerbread Cookies

6. Gluten-Free Holiday Treats

7. Holiday Mashed Potatoes

8. School Snack and Lunch Ideas

9. Apple or Pear Crisp Recipe

10. What to do with Leftover Cod

This completes my 31 days of posts! I challenged myself with a post a day in December and I did it! Best wishes to you all for a great celebration tonight and an even better 2017. Look tomorrow for my 2017 Cooking Bucket list.

 

Rainbow Pizza

Whenever I host Christmas Eve, we try to keep it simple. The big meal is the next day, so the night before we have a dinner of appetizers. It can be casual and low key or elegant hor d’ouvres. A mixture of hot and cold appetizers are more than filling for a small or large group of people.

Pizza is something that can be a dinner in itself or an appetizer for a crowd. It is something most kids will eat and it is comforting.

We have pizza every Friday night. Over the summer my kids started picking different toppings each week. One night, one of my sons suggested carrot pizza. He loves carrots. I was very, very skeptical but I had told him he could pick, so we got some rainbow carrots from Trader Joe’s and this recipe is what came out of it. AMAZING! Even my husband, who does not like cooked carrots, loved this pizza. Try something new, live a little 😉

Rainbow Carrot Pizza

Ingredients

3 carrots (different colors), sliced thinly (I used a mandolin)

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon agave

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3 small garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 pizza crust (One of my favorites is the Against the Grain crust found in the GF freezer section)

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

½ cup of tomato sauce (more or less depending on your preference for sauce)

8 ounces of shredded mozzarella

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a medium bowl mix vinegar, agave, salt, pepper, garlic and basil. Drop carrots into boiling water for 2-3 minutes and remove, placing immediately into ice water. Drain carrots and put them into the marinade for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Take pizza crust out of freezer. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, salt and pepper. Brush olive oil mixture on the crust and place crust on the rack or a heated pizza stone and cook for 7 minutes.

Take the crust out of the oven and spread tomato sauce over it. Cover with the mozzarella. Take carrots out of the marinade and dry in a towel. Place carrots however you like around the pizza. Cook for another 20 minutes. Take out and serve. Top with some more fresh basil if you like.

You can prepare everything ahead up to the last 20 minutes of cook time. Keep it in the fridge and cook just as your guests arrive for a warm appetizer.

Taking something simple and familiar, like pizza, and putting a new ingredient with it, is a good way to expose your family to new tastes. You never know when they’ll surprise you. Pizza is something you can easily adjust to your family’s tastes, so if the rainbow carrots don’t go over well, try different colored peppers or place the pepperoni in a shape of a Christmas tree.

Here are some past pizza and holiday appetizer ideas to help get you through the holiday season: (Usual disclaimer that if the post is dated before April 2014 it may not be gluten free. Adapt for your needs or send me a message and I’ll adapt it!)

Italian Stuffed Meatballs

Appetizer Ideas for Thanksgiving

Meatballs, Plain and Simple

Entertaining with Appetizers and What to do with the Leftovers

Dinner of Appetizers: Thursday night or special party

 

 

What to do with leftover cod

Now, I usually cringe when I hear the words “leftover fish,” but sometimes there is just too much left that I feel bad throwing it out. We had cod, with the compound butter that I made, alongside the turkey on Thanksgiving. Since there was so much other food, there was about a pound of the cod left. I have made fish chowder in the past, using the leftover mashed potatoes, but wanted to try something different, so I made fish sticks. They were a hit! and SO EASY to make.

I had another post set for this morning with my stuffed Italian meatball recipe, but that will wait. This needed to be shared immediately! Here is the initial, also super easy, cod recipe and then the leftovers turned into fish sticks recipe follows.

Herb Butter Cod

Ingredients

2 pounds of fresh cod/haddock or your favorite firm white fish

4-5 Tablespoons herb butter or unsalted butter and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme(remove leaves) and salt to your taste.

2 lemons, sliced

herb-cod

Directions

Pre heat over to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish with two pieces of foil, crossed, so that you will be able to fold up the sides and completely cover the fish. Place lemon slices over the bottom and lay the fish on top of the lemon. Dot the fish the with herb butter. Close the foil and place the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the fish flakes easy with a fork and is cooked through.

Homemade Baked Fish Sticks

Ingredients

About 1 pound of cooked cod/haddock or your favorite firm white fish

2 eggs

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, optional

3/4 panko breadcrumbs (use gluten free. I like Ians)

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

fish-sticks-ready-for-the-oven

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, flake fish add eggs and rosemary and mix together. I find that getting messy and using my hands is the easiest. In a separate bowl mix breadcrumbs, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Now for the even messier part. The fish mixture will be really wet, but shape it as much as you can and roll in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a sheet pan that you have sprayed with your favorite non-stick spray (I used Trader Joe’s Canola oil spray). Repeat until you are done with all the fish. Spray the tops with the oil spray as well. Bake for 15 minutes, then using a spatula, flip the fish sticks and bake for 10 more minutes.

fish-stick-meal

Easy and used up the leftovers!  Although now I need to find another way to use my leftover mashed potatoes. I’m thinking soup.

Enjoy these easy recipes and stay tuned for a post every day starting December 1st, counting down to the new year! The posts will be filled with easy dinner recipes, gluten-free holiday treats and meals for a crowd that no one will even guess is gluten free! Stay tuned! Share with family and friends! Click on the buttons on the right or down below.

Note: If the photos look upside down on your browser, please know that I’m working on it. Still troubleshooting. Looks fine on Google chrome, but I have heard on Bing or others that the pictures are cockeyed. 🙂

Appetizer Ideas for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-apps

I spend so much of my energy on the main meal, by the time I get to the appetizers I try to keep it as simple and hands off as possible. It’s also a great thing to offer for someone else to bring if they ask and you know they’ll be on time 🙂

I know, I know, if you have someone in your family with celiac disease or an allergy, the thought of allowing others to bring food into your house can be daunting. I usually only ask people who offer to bring something and who know to bring something safe that is packaged or bring the ingredients and make it at my house (like a fruit plate or veggie platter).

turkey-cheeseball

My children could fill up on appetizers alone and usually do, so I have to make sure I put more than enough out and wait until guests arrive before taking the cover off. Some years it is as simple as 2-3 different blocks of cheese with some crackers (I LOVE Van’s GF Everything Crackers!), a package of prosciutto from Trader Joe’s and some baby carrots with hummus. Other years I have put in a little more effort and made a cheese ball shaped like a turkey or even spinach and artichoke dip to keep warm in a mini Little Dipper CrockPot.

NOTE: I do not get money from any of these companies I’ve linked to in this post. I only recommend items my family uses. I will let you know in the post if I ever do get money or an advantage, but the recommendation will always be for something I use and love!

My plan for Thursday, which may change depending on how much time I have, is:

A  Pumpkin Cheese Ball (I will make the day before) based on this recipe I found from my.recipes.  They serve it with apples, but I think I’ll add some crackers to the dish too.

Hummus with vegetables I use store bought hummus. Our family favorite gluten-free options are Tribe or Wegman’s store brand. Just drop it on a plate with the vegetables! Easy.

Tortilla chips and homemade salsa (if I have time or can get my daughter to make the salsa!) Our family favorite gluten-free tortilla chips are Xochitl or Tostitos Natural. Here is a link to my newest salsa recipe! .

Shrimp cocktail (if I have time) I have Wegman’s already cooked frozen shrimp in the freezer, which I buy whenever it’s on sale, so I have it on hand for either an easy meal or easy appetizer. I do like to make my own cocktail sauce. It is simple, quick and tastes amazing! I use Ina Garten’s cocktail sauce recipe except I don’t usually have chili sauce on hand, so I make it entirely with ketchup and it is still AMAZING!

That is what we like to eat in our house. These are all items where you definitely do not miss the gluten because they are almost all naturally gluten free. What do you like to serve for appetizers?

Here are some appetizer ideas from past blogs (as always the disclaimer that they may not be gluten free if from before April 2014 when my son was diagnosed with celiac disease – contact me if you need help to adapt it to be gluten free! mammascooking@gmail.com)

Dinner of Appetizers: Thursday night or a special party (July 2011)

Entertaining with Appetizers and what to do with leftovers (Feb 2012)

Comfort Food and a Cookbook (Oct 2016)

Happy planning and may your trip to the grocery store be filled with happy people and full shelves, not stressed, grumpy people fighting over the last sweet potato. If you know of someone who would like this blog, please share far and wide. Click on one of the many social media buttons available. Thanks!

Fitting cooking for you and baby into your busy schedule


Cooking doesn’t always fit into our busy lives. It takes time and energy to cook and there are some days you have it and some days you don’t. No one should feel bad about ordering takeout or using Trader Joe’s frozen meals (or jarred baby food). But making a home cooked meal can be easy and quick (and cheap!). There are so many resources on the internet to help you find that “30 minute meal” or simple go to dishes. For example, tonight I didn’t really have the energy to cook and stood in the middle of the kitchen looking into the fridge, while Karina jumped in her jumper, wondering what I was going to make for dinner.

I like hearty meals. I’m definitely a meat and potatoes gal. I hadn’t defrosted any meat and didn’t have my usual bag of frozen shrimp from Costco in the freezer so couldn’t figure out what I was going to do. I was thinking it was about to be a Mac-n-Cheese night when I saw it! Kielbasa! I bought it the last time I was at the grocery store thinking I could use it for a quick meal then forgot about it 🙂 That left the starch…Sweet potatoes! I bought them to cook for Karina. Then I “googled” kielbasa and sweet potatoes and looked at a couple of recipes on cooks.com, which also called for apples, which I didn’t have but I ended up making a new favorite meal! Here’s what I did while Tim gave Karina her dinner (veggie burger made in the toaster oven with cheese and cooked carrots we had for dinner the other night).

  1. Microwave 3 medium size sweet potatoes for about 9 minutes.
  2. Cut potatoes in half, scoop out middle and put into my Kitchen Aid mixer. [saved 1/2 of one sweet potato to use for Karina for meals]
  3. Add a little garlic (I buy the garlic in a jar already minced, saves time), ginger (from a tube), low fat yogurt, 3-4 tbsp butter, salt, pepper and apple juice. Then I let the mixer do the work.
  4. Slice up the kielbasa.
  5. Spray Pam olive oil spray into a brownie pan.
  6. Spoon the mashed sweet potatoes into the pan and cover the top with the sliced kielbasa.
  7. Bake covered at 425 for 15 minutes
  8. Take cover off and bake for another 7 or 8 minutes

While it was baking I made a tomato and cucumber salad with dill and red wine vinegar. This only took about 30 minutes. Some nights this works and others it doesn’t. I’m trying not to get fixated on a schedule because I will just end up frustrated. Some nights we’re successful and eat with Karina, so she gets used to that, but other nights we eat after her or after she goes to bed.

Karina’s dinner was really easy (Thanks Adriane for the tip!). I just put a Boca burger I had frozen in the fridge, into the toaster oven, then melted some cheddar on top of it and cut it into bite sized pieces. She ate about 1/3 of one. The other night when I some friends over for dinner and had the oven on, I squeezed a pan of carrots into the oven to cook for Karina. I roasted them whole and then just sliced them and cut the larger pieces in half. Great finger food! Karina didn’t seem too keen on the carrots, but LOVED the veggie burger with cheese. Of course she’s my daughter, so she LOVES cheese. Her lunch today was leftover grilled chicken (cubed), cheese (cubed) and some cantalope (cubed). She also has been enjoying yogurt with bananas or blueberries and biltong (a South African beef jerky…mmmm).

I started to give her pasta as well. I bought some smaller sized pastas (mini farfalle, mini penne) and rigatoni (which I cut after cooked into bite sized pieces). One of Karina’s new favorite meals is cubed grilled chicken with butternut squash (I still have some purees in the freezer) and shredded parmesan. If my husband liked butternut squash, we’d be eating that for dinner too. Now Karina and I outnumber him though, so maybe we will starting having it more once she can state her preference:)

We shared another meal together last week: Grilled chicken and rice. Easy and quick. I think I’m going to have to try to get an indoor grill for the rainy fall, winter and spring here in Seattle.

Another great food I discovered recently (thanks to Chris!) are Zwieback Toasts. They are a great finger food for the little ones. It looks like biscotti and just melts in their mouth, so lessens the danger of them biting a piece off and choking. It is messy, but keeps Karina entertained for a good 20 + minutes. Which is helpful at a restaurant or just for us to be able to eat in peace and quiet at home.

My next ventures for Karina are going to be ground turkey and salmon…I’ll let you know how it goes. We have her 9 month appointment this week and I’m going to ask her pediatrician some questions and then I will hopefully feel less inhibited by what I can give her 🙂