Food: Cooking up a happy medium
With three busy teenagers, Brian and Angie Dreifuerst, it seems, are always on the move. Cooking…feeding those teens sometimes involves a little creativity, and a pinch of variety.
“When I was a kid, my mom did the cooking and we were the helpers,” said Angie, who is a VP of human resources for T.A. Solberg Inc. “I did a lot of baking; I prefer to bake as opposed to cooking and that’s still true today.”
Angie says she has gotten more into cooking, but Brian is more the cook, and a more adventurous one. “If I were cooking something I would have to follow a recipe, whereas he would kind of see what’s in the fridge and go from there. When we were first married, I worked later than Brian, so he always had supper ready when I got home.”
Still, when the family camps, Brian is in charge of the meals; always cooking over a campfire, usually using cast iron. One of his specialties is a meatloaf, which starts with bacon covering the bottom of a Dutch oven, followed by baby carrots, cut up potatoes, and finally the meat. The entire pan is covered, and baked in the fire.
While ninth grade Cara and seventh grade Jacob say they specialize in mac and cheese and frozen pizza, these days, the Dreifuersts are striving for a healthier diet. Four or five years ago Angie got serious about improving her eating habits and threw out everything that tasted good. Today, they have struck a balance.
“Sugar is the big thing. Instead of regular sugar, I use a mixture of Stevia and xylitol (a low-glycemic sugar made from birch bark) and use that for baking and as a sweetener,” she said. “That way at least the sugar part of our diet is cut down.” The recipe for one of the family favorites, no-bake almond butter bars, is included below. Weekday meals often consist of simple, low-carb meals with chicken, beef and vegetables; something everyone in the family enjoys.
Cara and Jacob love bubble pizza which includes cut-up canned biscuits, pizza toppings, pizza sauce and cheese. Easy to adapt, Angie says, by using pizza sauce and toppings without the ‘bubble’ to make a more healthy ‘pizza casserole.’ Her recipe for Yummy Potatoes is also adaptable. To unload some of the carbs from the dish, Angie admitted she substituted half of the potatoes with mashed cauliflower for Thanksgiving dinner, and no one noticed. Score one for Mom.
Oldest son Derrick, a junior at Rhinelander High School, spent a month in Japan a couple of summers ago and is a little more open to some different foods. He also took two cooking classes as a freshman, which got him thinking ahead to when he moves out and is on his own. One of Derrick’s favorites, which he has made himself, is a chicken casserole with stuffing mix on the top. This recipe will no doubt go into a new recipe binder that Angie started for him to take with him once he leaves home.
The recipe binder idea is one that the family has always utilized – one for desserts and one for sides and salads. Angie also created a family cookbook, using Shutterfly, to give as a gift to her mother. Recipes were submitted by her six siblings, and all of the nieces and nephews. “It was funny when I asked my brothers and sisters for recipes; many of them sent in the same ones – all family favorites,” she recalled. What a great way to guarantee those family treasures are passed down through the generations.
Angie’s Yummy Potatoes
2 ½ -3 lbs. peeled, cooked potatoes
3 oz. cream cheese
½ C. sour cream
½ tsp. hickory smoke salt
½ tsp. celery salt
2-3 Tbs. butter or margarine
Whip all together, bake @ 350 degrees for ½ hour.
Grated cheese can be whipped in or added on top if preferred. Can substitute part of the potatoes with mashed cauliflower.
No-Bake Peanutty Granola Bites
(Makes about 18 bites)
½ C. powdered sugar
½ C. peanut butter
3 Tbs. milk
½ tsp. vanilla
¾ C. uncooked, quick Quaker Oats
½ C. granola cereal
1/3 C. chocolate chips
Combine powdered sugar, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla extract in large bowl.
Mix well with wooden spoon.
Stir in oats, cereal, and chocolate chips. Mix until cereal is completely coated.
Roll and press mixture into 1-inch balls. Place on a plate that is covered with wax paper.
Set plate in refrigerator until set. (About 20 minutes).
No-Bake Almond Butter Bars
(Low Carb and Gluten Free)
¾ C. almond flour
¾ C. unsweetened finely shredded coconut
¾ C. equivalent powdered sweetener (I used Confectioners Style Swerve)
1 C. + 2 Tbs. almond butter (or any nut butter)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
4 ½ oz. dark chocolate
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut, and sweetener.
Over medium-low heat melt 1 cup of almond butter and coconut oil.
Once melted, add the almond butter to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Press the mixture into a 8”x8” baking dish.
Over medium-low heat melt 2 Tbs. of almond butter and the chocolate.
Once melted, pour the chocolate over the almond butter mixture and smooth out the top for even coverage.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or until the almond butter mixture has set. To reduce the amount of time for the almond butter mixture to set place the bars in freezer until set.
Cut into 12 even bars.
Note: No-Bake Almond Butter Bars: 5.5 net cabs per serving (yields 12 bars)
Almond butter layer: 33 net carbs (without chocolate topping)
1 lb cubed sweet potatoes or squash
1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
1 lb pearl onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 T olive oil
Grease the bottom of a baking pan. Toss all ingredients with olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring twice.
Patty’s Chicken Casserole
8 half chicken breasts
8 slices of baby Swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
¼ C cooking sherry
2 C stuffing mix
¼ C melted butter
Place chicken in the bottom of a baking pan, and top with cheese. Whisk together the soup and the sherry and pour over the chicken and cheese. Sprinkle the dry stuffing mix over the top, and pour melted butter over all. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.