Carrot & Banana Dog Biscuits

Our dog Henry turned 6 years old this year!  I was not always a fan of the big lug, but he's definitely grown on me.  I love him dearly and I can't imagine our family without him.  He is a sweet dog, is great with the kids and is a constant companion to Lila -- his favorite human.  This year for his birthday Lila and I made these cookies as a special treat for him and his new furry brother Cosmo.  Lila is allergic to peanut butter, so it was important to find a peanut free snack that she could help make.  

These biscuits are a healthy alternative to most of the store bought biscuits, freeze well, and are so delicious even humans can eat them.  Well, at least that's what Lila tells me.

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 bunch fresh carrots, grated or chopped in a food processor2-3 fresh bananas, peeled and mashed1 egg1/3 cup vegetable oil1 tablespoon brown sugar1/2 cup cold water

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine the wheat flour, cornmeal and brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Next, add the mashed banana, grated carrot, egg, vegetable oil and cold water to the dry mixture to make a semi-wet dough. 
  • Drop approximately 1 1/2 table spoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and press with the back of the spoon to flatten to approximately a 1/2 inch thickness. 
  • Place biscuits in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.  After they are done baking, shut the oven off, leaving the biscuits in the over to crisp up and dry another 45 minutes.
  • Store in an air tight container or freeze for future use.

Approximately 40 biscuits

A Broken Oven Tip
If you're good with cookie cutters, you call roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut into fun shapes.

German Potato Pancakes

Last summer, the girls and I attended the incredibly awesome Duck Tape Festival.  It was a great day spending time with my daughters, seeing all the Duck Tape creations, playing games, visiting the vendor booths and of course eating fair food! While I would normally choose to have a Gyro with my funnel cake and sugary lemonade, I instead opted for the potato pancakes one food truck was offering.  I hadn't eaten a good potato pancake in years. Most have been either pan fried mashed potatoes or tasted more like a hash brown patty, but this one tasted just like the potato pancakes my mom and grandma used to make.  Lila had a taste of the pancake at the fair too and like it a LOT. So last week when we were planning dinners, and thinking about warmer summer days, Lila requested the potato pancakes like the ones we ate at the festival. I did some Googling, combined a few recipes and techniques, and came up with, what I believe is an amazing German potato pancake. Like many of my recipes these are super easy to make and just happen to be extremely easy on the wallet too.

4-5 medium russet potatoes, washed and unpeeled
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 egg
2 tablespoons of flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for cooking

Sour cream

  • Wash and cut the potatoes into cubes and place in a blender, along with the diced onion, flour, egg and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pulsate the potato mixture until it is the consistency of cooked oatmeal, checking frequently to scrape down the sides.  Be sure not to create a "potato smoothie" or your pancakes will be thin and grainy. If the mixture is too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.
  • Pour oil into skillet and heat.  Drop a 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten slightly with a spatula and cook until the bottom is brown, then flip to cook the other side.
  • Serve with a side of sour cream and apple sauce -- or if your kids are like mine, you can serve them with ketchup.

12 - 14 pancakes

A Broken Oven Tip
Another serving option is in addition to the sour cream, top with bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions for a deluxe baked potato kind of feel. 

Lila eating her potato pancakes at the festival.

Savory Shrimp Salsa

It's  been a while since I've updated The Broken Oven, but this recipe was such a hit and totally delicious that I had to add it to the recipe collection.

This past weekend I hosted a Paint & Sip with a few of my favorite women.  What is a "Paint & Sip" you ask?  It is a party where you drink a little wine, (or in our case champagne), indulge in some good snacks (like this shrimp salsa) and laugh with friends, all while learning to paint a picture on canvas under the guidance of an art instructor.  It was extremely fun and everyone's artwork turned out beautiful.

The menu for the event included Prosecco with sugared raspberries, Mimosas, chocolate covered strawberries, Caprese kabobs, mini chicken salad sandwiches with grapes and apples, and this savory shrimp salsa served with white corn chips.  What is great about this salsa is that it looks fancy, but it is easy to prepare.

1 lb cooked shrimp tails removed and chopped
1 cup diced tomato
1 avocado
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 limes juiced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

  • In a small bowl combine red onion, lime juice, salt and pepper. Let them set and marry for a few minutes.
  • In a large bowl combine chopped shrimp, avocado, tomato and cucumber. Next add the cilantro and gently toss.  
  • Add more salt and pepper to taste.

4 cups

A Broken Oven Tip
If you want to kick up the flavor a notch, add a jalapeño pepper seeds removed and diced or serve it with Tobasco sauce on the side to be added by your guests.

Quick & Easy Pumpkin Muffins

As I've mentioned before, I cook whatever I think will taste good or my family and friends will enjoy. I don't abide by any organic, gluten free, paleo, clean eating or everything must be made from scratch kind of rules. I'm not a food snob either. I can find as much joy eating a hot dog from a vending cart, as I can an exquisitely prepared meal at a Michelin Star winning restaurant.

I'm a believer that as long as you don't have any food allergies or health issues that require you to limit your diet, that all food in moderation is fine -- yes, even McDonald's and cheese from a can.

With all that being said, I will now introduce this recipe for THREE ingredient pumpkin muffins. It's just canned pumpkin, white cake mix and pumpkin spice -- that's it! No oil, dragging out the sugar, softening the butter or making a huge mess. Some people may turn there nose up at the cake mix because it's not completely from scratch, but I don't care I love this recipe.  Not only because it's quick and easy, but because the muffins kind of taste like pumpkin cupcakes! We left them plain, but you could also add some chocolate chips or top them with some canned cream cheese frosting.

1 box of white cake mix (yellow works too)
15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon of pumpkin spice

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray 12 count, regular size muffin tin with cooking spray or use muffin liners.
  • Mix together pumpkin, cake mix and pumpkin spice and stir until completely combined.
  • Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into each cup.
  • Put in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 17 minutes.
  • Remove from oven let cool and store.

20 muffins
A Broken Oven Tip
If you would like to make pumpkins muffins from scratch there is a pumpkin muffin recipe on this blog that is a little more involved if you would like to try it instead. I've made both and each one is delicious in their own way.

Nut Free Granola

Granola is one of my daughter Lila's favorite snacks. However, she has a peanut and tree nut allergy, which makes us nervous giving her any store bought granola for fear that a "nut free" variety could have been cross contaminated during processing. She's been asking for it a lot lately and since I've been looking for new lunch ideas I decided to take a stab at making homemade granola.

This is one of those recipes that when I was finished making it I wondered why I didn't tackle it sooner.  It was extremely simple to make and took no time at all.  Lila totally loves the granola and has packed it in her lunch to eat with fruit and yogurt. She also eats it plain and will nibble on it while doing her homework. The big kids like it too, so I definitely would label this recipe a success!

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups old fashioned oats
4 cups quick oats
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, canola oil, honey and vanilla to make a light syrup. Bring to a boil, stir and remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl mix together the oats, coconut, cinnamon and the warm syrup mixture.
  • Stir until oats are well coated and everything is combined.
  • Spread onto two 9×13 non-stick pans -- or you can cover them with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, lightly stir the granola with a spatula, turn off your oven -- don't break it up too much because you want to have those nice chunks when it's finished.
  • Put the granola back into the oven for 3-4 hrs. The remaining heat in the oven will finish slow cooking the granola to a golden crunchy consistency.
  • Remove from oven after 3-4 hours. Let cool and store in an air tight container.
6 - 8 Cups

A Broken Oven Tip
The recipe is very basic, but you could easily add your favorite dried fruit, seeds -- even nuts if you're not allergic. When I told my neighbor about the granola she suggested adding dried cherries and some dark chocolate shavings to the mixture while it's still warm to add a little extra yum to the batch.

Pineapple Coconut Bread

This Summer I've been craving lots of tropical flavors, especially coconut.  Coconut is one of those foods people love or hate and too much coconut can easily over power other flavors.  This dessert has a mild coconut flavor with a bit of crunch which compliments the sweet pineapple.  The girls loved this and we ate it for breakfast instead of dessert.  It has more of cake like consistency than a quick bread, so you'll probably want to use a fork since it is a bit crumbly.  This recipe would also make a good cupcake, but I need to figure out what temperature to bake them at and for how long. Think I see some experimentation on the horizon and some coconut cream cheese frosting.

1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
20 ounce can of  pineapple chunks in juice, drained well -- pineapple tidbits work great too.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pour pineapple chunks into a strainer and drain well.
  • Spread coconut on a large baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Watch carefully.  I burnt my first batch.
  • Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  • Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt then set aside.
  • Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until combined.
  • Fold pineapple and 1 cup toasted coconut into batter. 
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of toasted coconut. 
  • Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cover pan with foil halfway through so coconut doesn't burn.
  • Let cake cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

8 to 10 slices

A Broken Oven Tip
This batter would be a good base for most quick bread recipes. The batter is a nice thick and would hold up well to some heavier add-ins like nuts and dried fruits.

Quadruple C Summer Salad

What do the four C's stand for you ask? Curried Cranberry and Citrus Couscous of course! My sister-in-law made this for a family get together and I absolutely loved it. She is so busy that I didn't want to bother asking her for the recipe so I kind of threw this one together using my taste buds. I think I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.

This salad is a perfect side dish for an evening meal or by itself for a light lunch. It tastes best after resting in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld together and the cranberries to plump up a bit, which makes it a perfect dish to bring for a pot luck Summer cookout.

3 cups cooked plain couscous
1 cup dried cranberries
14.5 ounce can of garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
10 ounce box of frozen peas thawed, rinsed and drained
1 large orange zested and juice squeezed (2 tablespoons of zest and 1/2 cup of juice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder

  • In a large bowl mix together cooked couscous, dried cranberries, rinsed garbanzo beans and thawed peas.
  • Zest approximately 2 tablespoons of orange peel into a small mixing bowl.
  • Squeeze a 1/2 cup of  orange juice into the bowl with the zest. 
  • Whisk the olive oil and curry powder into the orange mixture then pour over couscous and stir to combine.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

10 to 12

A Broken Oven Tip
If your family is scared off by the couscous,substitute it with pastina or a wild rice blend.

Mango Coconut Frozen Dessert

Wow! It has been nearly 5 months since I last posted on this blog. My initial reasons for not posting was we all got winter sick then it rolled into one excuse after the other.  When I finally was ready to post again, my cooking mojo vanished.  Honestly, I've been in quite the slump since about April.  Slowly, I've been getting in the groove again and finally created something in the kitchen that is worthy enough to share with all of you.

This mango coconut frozen dessert has a consistency similar to a sorbet and easy, delicious and vegan! You can make this in an ice cream maker or if you have some time do what I do and use the freeze and stir method.

Hopefully this is the kick in the pants I need and I'll start posting more frequently again. Enjoy and let me know how you like it.

3 cups coconut milk
2 large ripe mangoes - one diced and one sliced
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons arrowroot

  • Mix arrowroot in 1 cup of the coconut milk and set aside to dissolve.
  • In a food processor or blender, puree the sliced mango until smooth. Set the diced mango aside to be folded into the mixture later.
  • Place the remaining coconut milk, pureed mango, sugar and lime into a large saucepan heat and stir.
  • When the mixture begins to bubble pour the coconut milk and arrowroot mixture into the saucepan and stir to thicken.
  • Remove from the stove and allow the mango mixture to cool slightly and put in a covered plastic container and freeze.  If you're using an ice cream maker pour the mixture into the machine and let it do it's thing.
  • If you're using my freeze and stir method, after one hour of freezing stir in the diced mango. Every hour for three hours stir the mixture. 
  • When you take it out of the freezer it will be very hard and you'll need to let it thaw a few minutes before serving.

Approximately 6 one cup servings

A Broken Oven Tip
If you don't want to stir every hour, let the mixture freeze for 2-3 hours and toss it in the food processor again, then stir in the diced mango.  This makes for an even smoother consistency and less work for you.

Pretzel Crusted Pork Bites

One of my children's favorite dinners is city chicken. Which is fine by me because it is cheap and easy to make. However, the traditional dredge in flour and egg, brown in a skillet and broil in the oven preparation method got kind of stale and probably isn't the healthiest, so I started researching some new pork recipes to replace it.  I came across quite a few fancy pork and pretzel recipes and decided to create my own dish using ingredients I know my kids would eat and not relentlessly question me about during dinner. The result is the recipe below and the kids loved it. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

1 lb. city chicken removed from the skewers or other type of boneless pork cut into cubes
5 cups of mini pretzels coarsely crushed
3 eggs
2 Tablespoons of Italian dressing.
1 cup flour
Honey Mustard Dressing for dipping

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Put mini pretzels in a large resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat tenderizer. This is a great job for little ones who want to help in the kitchen. 
  • When finished crushing the pretzels put them in a medium sized baking dish; an 8 x 8 sized works nicely.
  • In a medium mixing bowl combine the eggs and Italian dressing.
  • Put flour in another large resealable plastic bag.
  • Rinse the city chicken and pat dry. If needed, cut the city chicken into smaller nugget sized pieces.
  • Place the city chicken in the bag with the flour and lightly toss the bag to coat.  Again, this is another great job for little ones who want to help in the kitchen.  Just be sure the bag is sealed.
  • In small batches put the city chicken pieces into the egg mixture then roll in the pretzel mixture to coat.
  • Place the pretzel crusted city chicken bites on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray.
  • Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Serve with honey mustard dressing for dipping -- orange marmalade is a favorite here too. 

4 to 6 servings, 3 to 4 nuggets per serving.

A Broken Oven Tip
While these pretzel pork bites taste great on their own, I've learned kids like to dip their food.  Some other dipping suggestions are; applesauce, ranch dressing, honey, cheese dip, sweet and sour sauce or good old ketchup works just as well.

Butterfly Snack Bags

As another Winter storm looms here in Northeast Ohio I felt the need to bring a little Spring into our lives. Every couple months Lila has a special day at preschool where she gets to perform special classroom tasks and is allowed to bring in an item for show and tell. This week she had her third special day of the school year so we decided to mix it up a little bit and make an edible craft together she could share with her classmates during snack time.

I found the idea for these cute little butterfly snack bags in a Family Fun magazine while perusing periodicals at the bookstore and thought it would be a perfect project to do with my four year old.  The only task she needed my help with was twisting the pipe cleaner around the bag. I've included a list of materials I used to create the butterfly bodies, as well as the recipe for the snack mix, but honestly the possibilities are endless, just use your imagination.  The butterfly bodies can be decorated with anything you have in your craft closet such as glitter glue, markers, paint, beads, buttons -- you name it, it would probably work.   If you prefer the snack to be healthy use nuts, dried fruit or fresh veggies.  If you rather it be more of a special treat use candy, cereal or crackers. In my opinion, as long as it is colorful and tastes good it will be perfect.

Butterfly Materials
Spring action clothespins
Glitter glue
Wiggly eyes
Pipe cleaners 6 inches in length
Snack size resealable plastic bags

Snack Mix Ingredients
2 cups Crispix
2 cups Chocolate Cheerios
1 cup Fruit Flavored Jet Puffed Marshmallows
1 cup M & M Candies
Other colorful bag filler suggestions: Colored GoldFish Crackers, Froot Loops, Skittles, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans and Rainbow Popcorn.

  • Squeeze the glitter glue on one side of a clothespin.
  • Spread the glue with a toothpick.
  • While the glue is still wet put on the wiggly eyes  near the clipping end of the clothespin and let dry.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the snack mix in a large bowl.
  • Fill each bag with a 1/2 cup of snack mix.
  • Separate the mix in the bag and tie closed with a pipe cleaner.
  • Curl the pipe cleaner to form an antenna.
  • Clip the clothespin across the center of the tied bag to create your beautiful butterfly.




12 butterfly snack bags filled with a 1/2 cup of snack mix.

A Broken Oven Tip
I am not teacher, but I think this butterfly snack bag would be a perfect project to accompany a lesson on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  You wouldn't even have to use real food to fill the bags. Instead, use small pieces of paper with pictures of the food the caterpillar eats and place them in the bag making a very colorful, very fun and very beautiful butterfly.

Slow Cooker Market Style Chicken

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my slow cooker?  If I haven't, let me tell you that next to my Dyson Animal vacuum, the crock pot is my favorite household tool -- I would marry my Dyson if I could, but I think this is neither the time or place to discuss it. Back to the slow cooker. When I'm making my weekly meal plans, I always be sure to include at least one slow cooker meal, sometimes two. Even on the days I don't work it's nice to have dinner ready on time and the only tasks I have to worry about is adding a side dish I can zap in the microwave and a salad I can grab out of a bag. It is also nice that it's nearly impossible to over cook a meal in a slow cooker and the food is always served hot.

When deciding on a  slow cooker recipe the number one criteria for me is that all the cooking needs to be done in the pot.  None of this brown the meat, sauté the vegetables separately, add an ingredient later business. What is the point of that? The beauty of a slow cooker is to toss the ingredients in the pot and forget about it. This chicken recipe is easy, inexpensive and delicious. You really could use any herbs or marinades you like, but this recipe is pretty tasty and in my opinion rivals the rotisserie chickens sold at the market. 

4 to 5 lb whole chicken, skinned
5 large garlic cloves 
1 medium yellow onion
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika

  • Get out your 6 quart of bigger slow cooker.
  • Remove the skin from the chicken. This is a little time consuming, but in my opinion the result in the taste is much better if you remove the skin. Also note that is why the chicken may look a little rough in the above photo. The skin isn't there to keep it all together so the meat just falls off the bone. May look gross, but so delicious
  • Peel the garlic and leave whole. Peel and quarter a medium sized onion.  Set both aside.
  • In a bowl, combine all of the seasoning. Rub the seasoning mixture all over the chicken, both inside and out. Stuff the onion and garlic inside the chicken.
  • Place the chicken inside the slow cooker breast side down. You do NOT need to add any water. See picture below to see how it fits perfectly in the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
  • Since the skin was removed and slow cooking the chicken will make it very tender, the meat will easily tear off the bone. See photo below.
Before: Chicken nestled in the slow cooker.
After: Chicken cut and ready to serve.

4 to 6

A Broken Oven Tip
If you have a smaller slow cooker or don't have a whole chicken in the freezer, use whatever bone in chicken you have on hand.  While I've never tried using chicken pieces I would reduce the cooking time by an  hour or so. Just check a piece or two before serving to make sure it is completely cooked through.

Samoa Cookie Bars

Thin Mints may be the number one selling Girl Scout cookie in America, but my absolute favorite treat those tiny cookie pushers sell are the Samoas -- or are they called Caramel de Lites now?  Regardless of their name these days, I've been known to eat an entire box of those caramel, chocolate, coconut morsels of heaven in one day all by myself --- and maybe, just maybe one time I ate two boxes. So this year, in an attempt to control my cookie binging I opted not to order any Girl Scout cookies, including my beloved Samoas. However, now that it's March I'm jonesin' for my cookies and I found a loop hole. There is this thing called the Internet; have you heard of it? Yeah, well you can pretty much find anything on it, including a copy cat Girl Scout cookie recipes. So now, I don't need to wait to be a glutton, I can do it anytime I feel like it!

Even though this is a bar cookie recipe it is a little time consuming with all the melting, cooling and dipping involved, but in my opinion it is totally worth the effort. Found a recipe for Thin Mints too, so maybe I'll give that one a try sometime soon.


Cookie Base
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut 
12 oz of caramel candy such as Kraft Caramels -- about 50 square candies
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Cookie Base
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl cream together with a mixer sugar, butter, egg and vanilla.
  • Still using a mixer, gradually add the flour and salt until mixture is moist and a little crumbly. The dough does not need to come together.
  • Press the dough evenly into a 9×13-inch baking pan that is lightly greased or lined with parchment paper. 
  • Bake for 25 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. 
  • Cool completely before topping.
  • Toast the coconut in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Once toasted, set aside and allow to cool.
  • Unwrap the caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook in the microwave 3 minutes until caramel is smooth. I recommend stopping every every minute or so to stir the caramel to help in melt evenly. WARNING: Watch the cooking caramel closely closely as the caramel can boil over.
  • Once the caramel is melted fold in the toasted coconut with a spatula. Sparing approximately a 1/4 cup of coconut to sprinkle on top later.
  • Spoon the coconut and caramel mixture over the cooled cookie base, then spread the topping evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining toasted coconut.
  • Let topping set until cooled then cut into bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter 
  • Once bars are cooled and cut, melt the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent burning. When I melt 2 cups of chocolate in my microwave it takes about  2 minutes.
  • Once chocolate is completely melted. dip the bottom of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper.
  • Pipe or spoon drizzle the remaining chocolate over the top of the bars to finish.
  • Put in the refrigerator to set.
  • Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.

30 Bars

A Broken Oven Tip
This may not sound like a good tip, but trust me it is! Share these cookies with family, friends, neighbors, hair stylist, mail carrier...the kid who bags your groceries, etc.  This is to prevent you from eating all the cookies by yourself.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds

In my opinion, cauliflower is a boring vegetable that just kind of brings your plate down with all it's whiteness.  Stand alone, cauliflower's flavor is kind of blah; not quite broccoli and not quite cabbage. You know what I mean? However, it's mild taste is the perfect blank canvas for cheese sauces and savory toppings which does make it a versatile side dish. This recipe is perfect served with pork or beef and is simple enough to make weekday, but unique enough to make for a special dinner. If I'm being honest, I could eat the topping alone by the spoonfuls.  I'm actually trying to figure out how to translate the topping into a crusty bread or crispy cracker, so stay tuned.

Cooking spray
1 head large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup bread crumbs

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cover baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Place cauliflower florets on baking sheet.
  • Stir together raisins, bread crumbs, parmesan, almonds and oil in a medium bowl and sprinkle over cauliflower to coat. Much of the mixture will fall to baking sheet, but don't worry. The mixture will toast up nicely and can be scooped up later to serve with the cauliflower.
  • Roast in the center of the oven until cauliflower is golden and the crumbs are toasted, about 20 minutes.
  • Drizzle lemon juice over top of cauliflower and lightly toss on baking sheet. Let roast 5 minutes longer.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature.

4 to 6

A Broken Oven Tip
Try substituting broccoli for the cauliflower. The taste is a little bolder, but still very delicious. Another substitution is using dried cranberries instead of the raisins.

Fiesta Lasagna

I'm a sucker for recipes on the back of product packages. Some of them sound like the manufacturer just tried to crowbar their product into the ingredient list, while others have some talented recipe developers in their test kitchens creating really great dishes. This recipe, for the most part, is brought to you by the folks at Kraft Foods. Many times I'll be inspired to create something new from these recipes, while other times I'll just tweak the ingredients just a little; this is one of those times. The original recipe was too fat and calorie heavy for me so I trimmed it up a bit simply by replacing a few of the ingredients with low or fat free alternatives. This is a perfect weekday dinner and tastes just as good heated up the next day for a workday lunch.

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
3 ten inch flour tortillas -- sometimes marked burrito size.
1 cup of salsa
15 oz. can of fat free refried beans
1.5 cups of reduced fat Mexican style shredded cheese blend

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Brown meat in a large skillet and drain any excess fat.
  • Stir in 3/4 cups of the salsa and taco seasoning mix. If the mixture seems too dry add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of water.
  • Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Spray the bottom of a 10 inch baking dish or pie pan with cooking spray.
  • Spread 1/4 cup of the remaining salsa on the bottom of the baking dish and cover with one of the tortillas.
  • Spread 1/2 of the refried beans on the tortilla and top with 1/2 cup of meat mixture and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  • Cover with the second tortilla and repeat by layering 1/2 of the refried beans on the tortilla and top with 1/2 cup of meat mixture and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  • Cover with the third tortilla and top with remaining meat and cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and let stand 5 minutes before serving. It is important to let it rest those 5 minutes so it's easier to cut.
  • Serve as is or with your favorite taco toppings such as red onions, shredded lettuce, black olives and light sour cream.

6 slices

A Broken Oven Tip
This is a perfect make ahead dish. Assemble it in the morning and pop in the oven when dinner time arrives.