Low-sodium garlic paprika roasted potatoes
The boyfriend and I frequently have tuna salad sandwiches for dinner, and we used to have them with French fries (the frozen kind you bake in the oven). But we are trying to eat less salt, and started making our own roasted potatoes instead. It turns out they are way more delicious anyway. :)
Like most stuff I cook, this is not a recipe that demands precision. If you want to use more or less of something, do it!
3 pounds of potatoes, chopped in 1 inch to half-inch pieces (I’ve used red and gold potatoes with equal success)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and mix to coat. Then sprinkle the spices on the potatoes and again mix to coat.
Put the potatoes on baking sheets, making sure they don’t overlap too much, and bake for about 35 minutes.
They are good with ketchup, with salsa or by themselves!
Low-sodium roasted green beans recipe
I’ve been looking for healthier recipes in the past few weeks. Green beans are one of favorite veggies — possibly my very favorite. But the canned kind have a lot of sodium, and I eat too much sodium as it is. (French fries are my second favorite vegetable.) So I decided to try making roasted greens beans. Many of the roasted veggie recipes I saw on the Internets included salt; I skipped that and the results were delish.
The recipe is not complicated, though I didn’t measure any of the ingredients because I don’t like to have my food creativity stifled.
Take bunch of fresh green beans (I had about 12 ounces), drizzle a spoonful or so of olive oil on them and shuffle them around to coat them. Sprinkle the beans with toppings of some sort (I used a Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning that has been chilling unused in my kitchen cabinet for a while), and shuffle them around some more to evenly distribute the seasoning.
Put them in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, shake them around a bit so they don’t stick and put them back in the oven for five more minutes.
They come out a bit crispy on the outside and squishy on the inside. I like the little burnt bits the best. :D
The first time I made these, I used a lot of seasoning — perhaps too much. They were very peppery and the boyfriend was not thrilled with their serious pepperiness. (I actually rather liked them that way!) The second time, less seasoning was used and we were both happy.
Walgreens vending-machine coffee — not so bad
The Walgreens near our house just underwent a renovation. They added more windows, a fresh food area — and a coffee vending machine. I am not usually a big fan of the coffee vending machines, which seem to be mostly found in gas stations and sketchy lunchrooms. This one says it grinds the coffee beans for you so it’s fresh; as a matter of principle I doubt all vending machines’ “fresh” claims.
Mitch and I went on a walk yesterday and stopped by the Walgreens afterward. He wanted to get a hot chocolate, which the machine also makes, and suggested I try a coffee. I went with cafe latte, and was … pleasantly surprised! I expected crappy gas-station-quality, but it was more in a Dunkin Donuts vein. Slightly sweet, mild flavor, definitely not the XTREME ROAST that you sometimes get at Starbucks — though I like those, too. :D
Verdict: Would drink again, especially because it is super cheap and within walking distance of the apartment.
Making layered pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving
I came across this recipe a few years ago while working in Lynchburg. It was published in the Danville Register & Bee, a paper my department designed. It was a reader-submitted recipe, so credit must go to Mary Jenkins.
I brought this over to my parents’ house for our Thanksgiving celebration. My little brother, Paul, finished his piece in about 2.5 seconds and began looking around furtively hoping someone would offer him another (they did).
Layered Pumpkin Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
Take 1 cup of cake mix and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients together and press into bottom of pan.
2 cups canned pumpkin (just plain pumpkin, not pie filling)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp cloves)
2/3 cup milk
Beat until smooth and pour over cake crust.
1 cup dry cake mix, which had been set aside
1/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup if you want the top layer crispier)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
Cut together with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is lumpy. Sprinkle over the filling and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. Also yummy covered in whipped cream. :)
Brilliant coffee ideas
Being a big fan of coffee, I’m always looking for variations on the usual beans, hot water, sugar, cream recipe. I’ve found that flavor extracts (like you’d use in cooking) are yummy in coffee. I use vanilla extract, almond extract, hazelnut extract and mint extract. A drop or two per cup is enough, so the little bottle lasts a long time, and they add virtually no calories (as opposed to the flavor syrups you can buy from Starbucks and such) if you’re worried about that sort of thing.
For fruit flavors, I’ve found a tasty option is using drink packets — the kind that you pour into a bottle of water. Obviously not all of these are suited to coffee. I suspect lemonade coffee would be gross, though I haven’t tried it… But raspberry and strawberry are excellent flavors for coffee. I recommend NOT using a whole packet, unless you’re making a full pot of coffee. For me, about a third of a packet in 12-14 oz. of coffee works best.
Another favorite coffee hack is coffee cubes. You pour coffee into an ice cube tray and freeze. Very easy, and no watering-down of iced coffee drinks. I make mine out of decaf to avoid over-caffeinating. :) Also a good idea is to have a dedicated tray just for coffee cubes — they leave a film of coffee oils on the tray. I read about this on the Internet, but it was a while ago and I’ve forgotten where I saw it first. So, thank you, Internet user who came up with this before me! The only part I can properly take credit for is using decaf.
Please note that I could not have implemented these ideas without having first consumed coffee, as it is required for brain function.