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Cast Iron Skillet Beef Pot Pie

Pi Day is this coming Saturday. I love making some sweet pies for us to eat on that day. But it is fun to spread the pie love throughout the day. Try a quiche for breakfast or brunch. Pizza “pie” for lunch or dinner. Or a pot pie. Make it a party – even with just your family. Small changes can help with the quarantine time most of us have looming over us right now.

This pot pie is very simple to throw together. It all cooks in one pan. Super simple and hearty. Fill yourself up with some yummy veggies before sampling some sweet pie this Saturday! Enjoy!

Cast Iron Skillet Beef Pot Pie (Serves 4-6)

Cast Iron Skillet Beef Pot Pie

Pie Crust:

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup cold water (or more)

Filling:

1 lb beef stew meat
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 ¼ cups low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen peas
¼ teaspoon dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Make crust: cut butter into flour, sugar, and salt to form small crumbs. Gently stir in water to form crust. Roll to fit size of skillet. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in large cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add beef and mushrooms, cooking for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned. Add carrots, celery, and onion. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.

3. Add tomato paste, garlic, and sweet potato. Cook for about a minute, stirring. Stir in flour and cook for 1 more minute.

4. Stir in ½ cup of broth. Stir until almost evaporated. Add remaining broth and Worcestershire sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring to remove lumps. Stir in peas and thyme.

5. Cover skillet with pie dough. Cut a couple slits in the top of the crust. Bake for about 30 minutes, until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. If crust is browning too quickly, cover it with foil. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 467
Protein: 24 g
Fat: 26 g
Saturated fat: 14 g
Cholesterol: 99 mg
Carbohydrates: 38 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 481 mg

Recipe notes: You could mix up the veggies if you have some you prefer. You could leave out the mushrooms and do more beef. Or skip the beef and do all mushrooms. I liked the half and half since I have some non mushroom eaters at my house. You could also use your favorite pie crust recipe. This was just an idea for a whole wheat one to try.

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African Hominy and Beans

February is Black History Month. I think we are all aware of traditional Southern United States dishes that get mentioned this month. But it is interesting to look further into the roots of those dishes and the origins of African Americans. Most of us haven’t been to Africa or an African themed restaurant, with the possible exception of Moroccan food. It’s great to change things up and learn about new foods.

This hominy and beans dish is very easy to put together, uses common ingredients, and tastes great. My kids are big beans fans, so they downed this. If you are worried about a spice level, you could halve the curry powder. Depends on if you have a sweet or spicy curry. Enjoy!

African Hominy and Beans (serves 6)

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed well
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
1 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 4 to 5 minutes until soft.

2. Stir in garlic and sauté 30 to 60 seconds until fragrant.

3. Add tomato paste, oregano, curry powder, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Stir in hominy, pinto beans and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is mostly absorbed.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 136
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 6 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 181 mg

Recipe notes: This is great served over rice.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food and Nutrition Magazine

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Apricot Pecan Bites

Since February is snack food month, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite snacks. My kids love little bite sized snacks. Even better if they are sweet. But I don’t want them eating a ton of extra sugar. I do want snacks to have protein and fiber.

Enter these little apricot pecan bites. Sweetened almost entirely from fruit (there’s a little added sugar in the nut butter), these are sweet enough for my kids. They also fill you up quickly. We found this recipe at our local children’s museum. So, while kids need a bit of supervision with a food processor blade, this is definitely a snack they can help you make. Enjoy!

Apricot Pecan Bites (Makes about 24 bites)

Apricot Pecan Bites

1 cup dried apricots
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)
½ cup dates
½ cup dried cherries
juice of 1 orange
6 tablespoons almond butter

1. Place all of the ingredients except half of the cocunut into a food processor. Blend until smooth.
2. Carefully scoop out about tablespoon size portions and roll into a ball. If it is too sticky, try sticking it in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up first.
3. Roll balls in remaining coconut. Store in refrigerator.

Nutrition Information (amount per bite)

Calories: 141
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 13 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 20 mg

Source: our local children’s museum

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Sweet Potato Tots

February is also National Snack Food Month, so it’s a great time to change up your snack routine and find some healthier options. I’ll be sharing a few over the course of the next weeks. Today is sweet potato tots.

I have a strange confession – I have never seen Napoleon Dynamite. But I know enough to know he’s gotta have his tots. Tater tots are delicious, but often not the healthiest snack or side dish. Why? Pre-made tots are high in sodium. If fried, they can be quite high in fat as well. While regular potatoes do provide nutrients, you can mix up your nutrient profile with sweet potatoes.

February is also National Snack Food Month, so it’s a great time to change up your snack routine and find some healthier options

But wouldn’t making homemade sweet potato tots be hard and time consuming? No, not really. These make a great after school snack with some ranch dressing or a fun way to mix up burger night. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Tots (Serves 4-6)

Sweet Potato Tots

1 sweet potato, shredded
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
⅓ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine, until mixture will clump together.
3. Shape vegetable mixture into “tots” and place on baking sheet.
4. Bake for 8 minutes, flip then bake for another 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 139
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 68 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 208 mg

Recipe notes: You can mix up the veggies in these tots. We’ve done mixed veggies, like carrots and broccoli, with good results as well.

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Shakshuka

Happy Hump Day! Wednesday at our house is breakfast for dinner night. I love this tradition for several reasons. First, I don’t have to think about it too much when I’m meal planning. It’s set. Second, most of the time we use staples I already buy or leftovers to supplement our meal here, so I don’t have to allot grocery budget for it. Third, breakfast is fast to cook and quick to clean up. What’s not to love?

Setting aside nights as a specific meal or type of cuisine is a great idea for meal planning. Some people go further than I do, with each night of the week assigned. I’ve even recently seen someone who has the same seven meals every week. That isn’t my cup of tea, but I understand the appeal of routine and simplicity at dinnertime.

To continue our African Heritage Week and Black History Month theme from yesterday, I’m reposting an older recipe today – Shakshuka. It fits with breakfast for dinner at my house. It’s a surprisingly easy dish that is different enough to make breakfast for dinner night feel special. The dish is of North African or Middle Eastern origin.

Shakshuka (Serves 3-4)

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1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced (preferably 2 different colors)
1 jalapeño chile, sliced into thin strips
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon paprika
1 (14-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes, crushed through your fingers a bit
6-8 eggs (depending on how many eggs each person wants)
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 small or 4 large whole-wheat pitas or flatbreads (optional)

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until beginning to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic; cook one minute more. Add all the peppers; sauté until they soften, about 5 minutes more. Add cumin, oregano, marjoram, and paprika. Cook one minute more.

2. Pour in the tomatoes plus half a can of water. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionaly.

3. Warm pitas or flatbreads, if using.

4. Make indentations in the sauce for each egg. Crack an egg into each indentation. Put lid on the pot. Cook the eggs to your desired level of firmness, keeping sauce at a simmer. Scoop eggs and sauce into pitas or onto flatbreads, if using, or just onto a plate. Garnish with feta. Eat immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 443
Protein: 23 g
Fat: 19 g
Saturated Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 389 mg
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 606 mg

Source: adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen

Low iodine adjustment: Skip the feta and pita.

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African Tomato and Peanut Chicken Stew

It is African Heritage Week and Black History Month. What a great time to learn about other heritages and cultures through food. This week, I’ll be highlighting some dishes inspired by African flavors and seasonings. I hope you enjoy them!

Today, it seems to be a fairly straightforward tomato and chicken stew, but then you season it with peanut butter. But it really works. And don’t be afraid of exotic foods when feeding kids. All of the not grumpy kids at my house asked for seconds of this. Serve it as is or with some rice. Enjoy!

African Tomato and Peanut Chicken Stew (Serves 6)

African Tomato and Peanut Chicken Stew

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into small pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 (14.5 ounce cans) fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1. Add olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 1½ minutes, then toss and add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add ginger and cayenne pepper, and peanut butter, stirring to combine. Cook for 30 seconds.
3. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and sauce thickens slightly.

Nutritional information:

Calories: 220
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 107 mg
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 274 mg

Source: slightly adapted from Stone Soup

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Layered Greek Dip

I saw a funny meme awhile ago that said, “Do the chips and salsa end or do I just die or what?” It made me laugh, because I LOVE chips and salsa or any kind of dip. It’s hard for me to pass up a recipe for a new kind of dip to try.

This recipe is kind of a twist on the classic Mexican 7 layer dip. I love Greek or Mediterranean flavors. This dip is also extremely flexible – use the parts you like, leave off parts you don’t. Mix it up. This can also be made in smaller portions for a quick healthy lunch with crackers/pita chips, or made onto a bagel for a yummy vegetarian sandwich!

Layered Greek Dip (Serves about 8)

Layered Greek Dip

1 cup hummus
¾ cup plain nonfat greek yogurt (about 1 small container)
1 cup chopped spinach or lettuce
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumber
½ cup chopped kalamata olives
2 T. crumbled feta cheese

1. Spread hummus on serving plate. Carefully spread yogurt on top. Sprinkle remaining toppings in successive layers on top.

2. Chill or serve immediately. Serve with pita chips, crackers, or tortilla chips.

Nutritional information:

Calories: 107
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 231 mg

Recipe notes: I usually only put olives on half when I’m making this for a crowd, since they are kind of a divisive ingredient. If you have flavored hummus or tzatziki sauce, definitely use those in place of the regular hummus and yogurt.

Source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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