Thursday, November 13, 2008

Long Time, No Post...Caramel Apple Pie


I'm not sure what is up with me and the blogging world. I've sort of just been in a slump with cooking and life in general I guess. I haven't felt like doing anything but watching CNN or MSNBC. I am addicted to politics! It has consumed my life to the extent of not being able to cook or eat any decent quality meal for the last couple of months. All is well now though-I'm still addicted to politics-but the stressful part of it is over. Now I can enjoy life and what the future has to bring.

Blah, blah, blah...anyway...its Early Turkey Day here at work this week. Everyone gets together from our zone and brings in a dish and we cook and eat and talk and laugh and relax for the day. Its good times...(for being at work). I decided to make a squash casserole and a caramel apple pie. The casserole turned out great. I will definitely make it again.

The pie...well, the pie was: FRACKTASTIC!



I found the recipe on the foodnetwork website and it claims to be a blue ribbon winner. I believe it. It was wonderful. I did cheat and use a refrigerated pie crust. Blasphemy-I know...but it was still good. Really good.

I opted out of putting the top crust on the pie and instead just used a mini cookie cutter to cut out little apples and placed them on top of the struesel instead.

The filling is going to be my go to for anything apple I make from now on.

Here's the recipe:

Caramel Apple Pie-Food Network

Pie Crust:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter flavored shortening, chilled

1/3 cup ice water

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 egg, beaten


Filling:

6 cups apples (Jonathan or Granny Smith)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purposeflour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons heavy cream

4 tablespoons butter

Streusel Topping:


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon butter

2 toffee bars or 3 ounces chocolate covered peanut or pecan brittle, crushed


Pie Crust:

Chill all ingredients, including the flour and vinegar. Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In another bowl, mix water and vinegar with the beaten egg. Add the liquid mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the flour mixture, tossing with a fork to form a soft dough.


Filling: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Peel and slice apples. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add apples. Toss to mix. Add vanilla and cream. Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add apple mixture and cook approximately 8 minutes, to soften apples. Turn into pie shell.


Streusel Topping: Combine the flour and sugar. Mix in butter with fork until coarse crumbs. stir in the crushed toffee bars. Sprinkle over pie. Add top crust. Seal, flute edge and vent top. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake 45 minutes longer.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Fracktastic Asian Burgers and Special Spice Sweet Potato Fries


I threw these together last minute on Saturday. They were fracktastic! I doubled all of the ingredients in the burger recipe because I had about 1.5 lbs of ground turkey to use-maybe more. I also subbed green onion for the reg diced onion and added some hot pepper flakes to the mix. I used a whole egg instead of just the egg white too. These burgers were delicious.

Here's the recipe from allrecipes.com:

Asian Turkey Burgers

INGREDIENTS

1 egg white
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces ground turkey


DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Crumble turkey over mixture and mix just until combined. Shape into four patties. Cook in a nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray until no longer pink.



The Sweet Potato Fries:

I had a frozen bag of julienned sweet potatoes that I threw on an aluminum foil baking sheet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. I then dusted the fries with cinnamon, cayenne pepper and my super secret special spice blend from Ohio. (I will be sad when I run out of this stuff) OK-so its Maple Cinnamon Apple spice-its not really a secret-I just don't know how to get anymore of it-it was sent with a gift basket a long time ago. anyway-I baked them at about 400 for 20 minutes or so-just until they started to crisp up a bit.

Served some steamed veggies on the side with the Rice Wine Oyster Sauce I posted a BLOG about awhile ago.

Meal Plan: Oct 12-Oct 25

Things are tight so in order to really stay in budget I have to stick to the meal plan during this two week pay period. I only got the things I needed at the grocery store and tried to get things that would use alot of the same ingredients so I could get the most use out of what I already have on hand in the pantry too. We'll see if I can manage to feed 3 on $110 for two weeks. (Mind you I have alot in my pantry so the actual cost would really be more)

Sunday: Asian Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, Veggies with Rice Wine Oyster Sauce
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Crockpot Angel Chicken and Rice
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday:Beef Tips and Noodles
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Chili Dog Nachos
Sunday: Pulled Pork, Honey Roast Potatoes, Corn Casserole
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas, Mexi Rice
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Chicken Butternut Squash and noodle Casserole, Salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Lasagna, Salad

Monday, October 6, 2008

Scones: Summer Meets Fall


I am in love with scones. Yes. I. Am.

They are officially my new favorite baked good. They are ridiculously easy to whip up and bake, and they go so well with steamy hot beverages.

I tried two different recipes this weekend, from two different bloggers and that represented two different seasons. Blackberries are a summer fruit and we all know pumpkins are like the fruit mascot for fall. I loved both of these recipes, but I'm partial to the pumpkin.

I had a little trouble with my blackberry scone dough. For some reason, it was very very sticky and I followed the recipe to a "T. Not sure what happened with that-but even though they look lumpy and not so pretty, they were tasty. A bit on the tart side-thanks to my extra tart wild blackberries (they are the ones I picked earlier in the summer and froze); I tend to like things that are tart though.

My favorite of the two recipes was the Pumpkin Scones...I mean I love all things pumpkin and these did not disappoint. I made up a small cup of pumpkin butter to double the pumpkin ecstasy and that sent these over the top. Imagine warm pumpkin scones fresh out of the oven with creamy pumpkiny butter spread over the top and a steaming pumpkin spice latte-ahhh that's pumpkin nirvana right there!

The pumpkin scones got the big thumbs up from both of the boys too and Red is now practicing saying the word "SCONE".

So anyway here are the recipes-make these now! Your tummy will be happy you did.

Blackberry Scones by Everybody Likes Sandwiches

1/2 c milk

1 egg

2 c flour

2 t baking powder

½ t salt

1/4 c cold butter, cubed

3 T white sugar

2 large handfuls of frozen blackberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the milk and the egg together until frothy and then set aside.

In a large bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and blend the mixture with your hands until you have no lumps larger than a pea.

Add the sugar and the blackberries and toss about until the blackberries are coated with the flour mixture.

Add the egg mixture slowly until the dough comes together.

Leave any remaining egg mixture to brush on as glaze.

Turn dough out onto a clean counter and knead it no more than 12 times. Pat dough into a round approximately 1/2 an inch thick, and cut into 8 wedges.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet or a Silpat.

Using a pastry brush, glaze wedges with remaining egg mixture.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Scones by Pinch My Salt

1 C. all purpose flour
1 C. cake flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground ginger
6 T. unsalted butter
1/2 C. raisins (optional)
1/3 C. pumpkin puree
1/3 C. heavy cream
6 T. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Get out a baking sheet and line with parchment paper (not required but makes cleanup easy!). Cut the butter into small pieces, put it in a small bowl and put it back in the refrigerator. In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, salt, and all spices. Whisk together well. Place bowl in freezer (refrigerator is fine if you have no room in freezer).


2. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, heavy cream, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk together well. Put this bowl in freezer (or refrigerator) and take the other bowl back out. Get the butter pieces out of the fridge and dump them into the bowl with the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins if you are using them.


3. Get the liquid mixture out of the freezer and pour into the flour mixture all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is just moistened. The dough will be very crumbly, this is the way it should be. Turn the mixture out onto the counter and push the pile together with your hands. It should stick together fairly well. Knead it just a couple of times until everything is together. Don’t knead it too much or the dough will get too sticky.


4. Pat the dough out into a rough circle, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut it like a pie into 8 pieces. Place pieces on the baking sheet so that they are not touching. Bake scones for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees. They should be light brown on the bottom, the tops will darken as they cool.

**the only thing I did differently was use half and half instead of heavy cream.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers September Challenge: Lavash Crackers


I have never made my own crackers from scratch before and I was running out of time to meet the challenge deadline because Procrastination is my middle name-sooooooo-my crackers um, er...didn't really turn out like crackers-they were more like heavy dry pitas, maybe even closer to hockey pucks. Yeah this was a pretty big fail on my part.


I don't have a rolling pin...Yes, yes. I know. Why on earth would I join a group called "Daring Bakers" without even owing a proper rolling pin? Beats the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks out of me! But I did and I attempted this recipe, and definitely did not get my dough thin enough.


I made a roasted red pepper hummus to go with the hockey puckesque pitas. Better luck next time, eh?


Anyway-here's the recipe:


Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers*


1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)*

1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt*

1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast*

1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar*

1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil*

1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature*

Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings


1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.


2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bread-Dough-Has-Been-Mixed-Long-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


or


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).


4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


or


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet. 5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.


5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).


6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Penne Wise Pumpkin Pasta-Sans Penne


Do you have any favorite pasta shapes? Or any shapes that you just don't like? I love orzo (who doesn't right?), rigatoni, tortellini (but that's probably due to the lovely cheesy filling), angel hair and radiatori. Orzo has an almost melt in your mouth texture when you eat it and rigatoni and radiatori really hold onto thick chunky sauces well. Angel hair has a nice lightness to it. On the other hand-I don't like rotini or fusilli. Something about its shape gives it a texture that I don't enjoy all that much. I'll eat it-but I definitely don't prefer it.
Last night I used some radiatori pasta to make Rachel Ray's Penne-wise Pumpkin Pasta recipe that I found on the Taste and Tell blog I've been food gawking at lately. I didn't have any penne and I knew that the little radiator shaped pasta curls would hold onto chunks of a pumpkin based sauce nicely.
I was excited to try this dish because anything with pumpkin in it is a winner for me. I love what pumpkin can do in both sweet and savory dishes. Hmmm...I think I'll try a new pumpkin recipe and post it here each week up until Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Turkey Day...what better to pair with pumpkin pasta then some sage and onion turkey meatballs? I didn't follow any real recipe for the meatballs, just threw ground turkey, bread crumbs, sauteed onions, sage, black pepper and salt and egg and a little thyme together and baked the meatballs. The kitchen still smelled like turkey day after I cleaned up and went to bed last night. Mmmm.
I like this-I think I added a little more Parmesan than the recipe called for and I also didn't use the cream that the recipe called for. I had about a 1/4 cup of half and half on hand and then added some skim milk to get the 1/2 cup of dairy required for the recipe. I don't think this hindered the recipe at all. It was still tasty. I also had to sub dry spices for the fresh and onion for the shallots because that's what I can afford right now.
I have to say -if you are looking for something with bold flavor-this isn't the dish for you. It was a light and mild flavored pasta dish-but I find that to be pretty normal for most savory dishes that are pumpkin based. There always seems to be a light freshness about them. I will definitely make this again.
Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta
1 pound whole-wheat penne
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup cream**
1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 pinches ground cinnamon
Salt and black pepper
7 to 8 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced plus more, for garnish
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Directions:
Heat water for pasta, salt it and cook penne to al dente.
Heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat.
Add shallots and garlic to the pan, saute 3 minutes.
Stir in chicken stock and combine with pumpkin, stir in cream then season sauce with hot sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 to 6 minutes more to thicken.
Stir in sage, toss with pasta with grated cheese, to taste.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Scones, Galettes, Pasta and More!

I am addicted to food blogs, but really what respectable foodie isn't? There are so many talented, interesting cooks out there and so many delicious recipes to try. I myself haven't cooked anything blog-worthy in over a week. Times are hard-I've been doing big batches of chili and other cheapie family meals that last a couple of days in order to get by till next payday and the next round of grocery shopping.


That does not mean my urge to cook and bake isn't there though-its actually full on strong! The arrival of fall makes me want to roast, slow cook and bake things everyday. Being here in Georgia, fall is kind of an odd time..one day it will be 85 degrees and the next overcast and cool so I've still got some summery things to try out during our transition into the cooler temps. I've been carousing food blogs daily and have a giant list of new recipes I plan on trying in the near future-should funds allow it.


Anyway, here's a sneak peak at some of the food blog recipes I plan on trying in the upcoming days and weeks:

BLACKBERRY SCONES by Everybody Loves Sandwiches

Lemon Nutmeg Scones by Taste and Tell

Blackberry Peach Galette by Everybody Loves Sandwiches

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette by Smitten Kitchen

Ina Garten's Grown Up Mac and Cheese by Butter and Sugar

Rachel Ray's Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta by Taste and Tell

Spanish Style Plantain Omelet by Bren

Low Cal Spring Rolls by La Mia Cucina

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Salad

Chipotle Corn Salad by Alosha's Kitchen

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In the Kitchen with Spiderman


Today we have a special guest appearance at the Grow.Food.Love Kitchen! Its none other than Spiderman! Spiderman has joined us today to show us how to make Twirly Whirly Pizza originally shared with us online by Parents magazine.


Twirly Whirly Pizza

1 tube (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded Italian-mix cheese, divided
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves

1. Heat over to 400°F. Unroll dough from tube. Spread pizza sauce on top.

We caught Spiderman getting ready to lick the spoon while he helped spread the sauce on the dough...this is why spiderman does NOT get to help when we make food for guests.


2. Sprinkle with half of cheese and top with spinach leaves.

What a great leaf spreader you are Spiderman!


3.Roll up, starting with short end.



4. Cut into 8 pieces, then lay pieces flat in a greased pie tin. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

**my dough was really moist for some reason and this made cutting it and keeping its shape very difficult. Next time I think I will flour the dough a little bit and not roll it quite as thin.


This turned out to be a fun recipe for us and you could really add just about anything you want to it. Its just pizza that looks kind of like a cinnamon roll.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pantry Raid: Sweet Craving @ 10pm on Sunday


I don't really buy sweets-OK, well sometimes I do, but I make a conscious effort to keep things like candy bars, baked goods and other store bought goodies out of the house most of the time. Yet, even without having ice cream sitting in the freezer or Oreos in the pantry when that unrelenting merciless late night craving hits-I still find a way to get my sweet fix.

I have been known to whip up a batch of cookie dough to binge on if the craving comes on too strong. In terribly desperate times I've taken a spoon to the honey flavored peanut butter jar and went at it. Its sad really. Sad.

Well last night the craving came on, and I thought I'd throw together a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and be a happy fatty mcfatterson-but come to find out I only had a little more a cup of flour left. Not good...what to do? what to do...

I scanned the pantry and my eyes fell upon a box of banana pudding. Hmm...but there's no milk for the pudding. More hmmm...I want cookies dammit-is all my brain is screaming at me. Now we live 12 miles from the closest store and being that Hurricane Ike is responsible for the gas shortage here and the high price of gas if you can find it-I wasn't making any cookie runs...

I kept eyeing the pudding and thought "pudding cookies"...and off to Google I went. I came up with this recipe from About.com...it was the easiest recipe yet and seriously took only about 15 minutes start to finish before I was able to pop a hot baked cookie in my mouth.

The recipe calls for vanilla pudding, but all I had was banana. I decided instead of loading my cookies with chocolate chips I would just do a thumbprint in the middle to press them down a bit and drop a couple of chips in the indentation.

Now these were by no means some to die for, heavenly cookie-but they were tasty, quick and satisfied my sweet craving just fine.

Pudding Cookies

1 cup self-rising flour
1 package (3.4 oz) instant pudding mix, Vanilla or French Vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips.
Stir in chips.
Form small balls of dough; place on unbaked baking sheet.
These cookies don't spread, so you may want to flatten a bit.
Bake in preheated 350° oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekly Menu Planner: Sept 13-19

I'm late with my menu planner-I spent all night Friday in line at the gas station to buy nearly $5 per gallon gas then came home and just sat and watched Hurricane Ike coverage. I really need to wean myself off the news for a bit-its just making me too depressed.

I'm not feeling inspired-well I am, but I'm so broke that we are sticking to large batch cooking and lots of leftovers this week. This menu sure won't be hard to stick to at all-not alot of planning or cooking required. I really feel like baking-but just discovered I'm out of flour. BOO to that.

Saturday- Corned Beef, Cabbage and Smashed Red Potatoes
Sunday- Leftovers
Monday- Chili and cornbread
Tuesday- Leftovers
Wednesday- Leftovers
Thursday-Pasta Bake and Salad
Friday- Leftovers

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Angel Hair Pasta with Red Pepper Pesto


Once again I fell off my meal plan bandwagon...I was supposed to be making a couple of new dishes-Turkish Chicken thighs and Curried Baked Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf-but I rummaged through my freezer and found the chicken thighs I *thought* I had were non-existent. So for a short on time adjustment I pulled out some salmon fillets and figured I'd just grill them on the Georgey and browse some blogs for a side dish recipe while at work.

Can I just say, Gawd I love the food blogging community?! There are so many creative and amazing foodies out there and they've become such a great resource and source of entertainment for me. While browsing I came upon a blog called La Mia Cucina that I decided to add to my favorites because I really relate to her love of cooking and her sense of humor.

Through her blog, I read about a blogger who had recently passed. It was touching to read all the comments on her page from all of her food blogging friends. What an odd thing our Internet is-its almost ghostly in a way-these little biographies we will leave behind for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I don't know why it seems so different than writing a book or a diary-but it does. Its a strange feeling of some sort of ongoing spirit. I can't really describe it...

Anyway-I decided to browse this woman named Sherry's recipes and make one in honor of her. Weird I know, but I just felt like I wanted to. She had recently made a simple dish of Angel Hair Pasta with Red Pepper Pesto that was perfect. I had all of the ingredients on hand thanks in part to my little garden! YAY! And...it involved pine nuts and I do love me some pine nuts.



Aren't the veggies pretty? Its so nice to just go out on the deck and pick what I need-rinse it off and use it. (I used the cucumber and the green pepper for a salad to go with my pasta)

Part of the recipe called for roasting your own peppers-and although I've seen it done before-I have never taken them time to do it myself. I'm a little freaked out by fire-but I chose a gas stove for my house-go figure...I'm just full of contradictions. Its sort of who I am. I think I rushed the charring a bit and they could have been charred a bit more-because I had a bit of a hard time peeling them.


Sans roasting the peppers-this recipe takes maybe 20 minutes total from start to finish to complete. Nice and easy and it tastes great too. Thanks to Sherry for sharing this great recipe with all of us!

Sherry's Angel Hair Pasta with Sweet Red Pepper Pesto
3 medium red bell peppers or bottled roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 small garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup basil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese

1.Roast the red peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, core and chop the peppers.
2.In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Let cool.
3.Transfer the peppers and pine nuts to a blender or food processor. Add the garlic and whole basil leaves and blend until coarsely chopped.
4.Add the olive oil and cheese and puree to a chunky pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
5.In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and cool slightly under running water.
6.Transfer the pasta to a bowl and toss with the pesto. Season the pasta with salt and pepper.
7.Top with the chopped basil and pecorino and serve at room temperature.

??? Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies ???


I developed a sweet craving last night around 9pm and didn't really have anything ready-made in the house to put a dent in it so I pulled out a cookbook and started skimming...I didn't want anything too labor intensive, and actually I thought I'd just whip up a batch of cookie dough and snack on some dough and then maybe bake the cookies the next day. I kept thinking chocolate chip and fell upon this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from the Gooseberry Patch: Sweet and Simple Cookbook

Not a ton of ingredients and not much more work than mixing a few things together...nice and easy.

I love pumpkin so I figured this would be a winner. I wasn't really impressed though. the dough isn't really all that great for snacking on. SO I just went ahead and decided to bake the whole batch last night. the bake time was only 8 minutes so I figured I'd have the 3.5 dozen baked in no time.

I baked one batch for the allotted time and they just did seem done at all, and I am not someone who is afraid to take my cookies out a little under baked-I actually like them better that way. I love a soft gooey cookie. these-just seemed more than a little underdone. So the next batch I let bake an additional 2 minutes and checked them-they still seemed like they could continue baking...I added another 2 minutes and pulled them out. Still seemed the same.

I think these cookies just have a more cake like consistency. Which is fine-but I was going for cookie-not cake.

Another thing I wasn't thrilled with was the nutmeg-I just think there was too much in this recipe. I think maybe the addition of some brown sugar and maybe pumpkin pie spice instead of the 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of nutmeg would have made these better.

I do have to say though that my husband came home and was at first turned off by how soft the cookies were but when he tasted them he said he thought they were pretty good and gobbled up three of them right there. That's a feat in itself because this man is not much of a foodie and isn't impressed with much when it comes to food.

Then this morning I gave two to Red to take as a morning snack to school. He ate them in the car before we even arrived at school and said he liked them and a 3 year old has no qualms about letting you know when they DON'T like something they are eating.

So maybe they are tasty-I mean, they weren't gawd awful. *I* just think they could be better...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
6 oz chocolate chips
1.Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
2.In a large mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix together.
3.Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and then add to pumpkin mixture. Stir well to combine.
4.Stir in chocolate chips and then drop by tablespoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Weekly Menu Planner-Just a Little Late...

It was a busy weekend so I didn't get my meal plan done for this week until this morning. I'm feeling kind of uninspired and craving alot of bad food so I hope I'm able to pull off the meals this week. It would be nice if we get some rain to cool things off too. I love to cook when its rainy and cool.

Monday-Grilled chicken and pineapple kabobs, veggie fried rice
Tuesday-Leftovers
Wednesday-Turkish chicken thighs and curried brown rice and lentil pilaf
Thursday-Leftovers
Friday-Twirly Whirly Pizza and Salad
Saturday-Grilled T-bones with chimichurri, smashed red potatoes and roasted green beans
Sunday-Dinner Out!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bar-B-Cups, Because Sometimes You Have to Improvise


Yes, Yes, I made a menu plan...but just because I have a written menu plan-it does not mean I will suddenly leave behind my entire old unorganized self-cold-turkey and be able to stay on task all the time. Tonight is Kid's Choice night and I had planned on making some Grilled Nutter Butter Nana Sammiches and Triple Berry Smoothies-but when I went grocery shopping on Saturday-the bananas were looking too sad for me to waste my money on them so I passed them up.


I planned on picking some up at the store on lunch break today-but it was an insane day at work and I also had a lovely appointment with my fav doc-Dr. Joe, for an adjustment and deep tissue massage. Ahhhh, so the whole muscular zen thing got me all distracted and alas, the bananas melted from my mind along with all the other tension of the day.
Luckily though, there was a recipe posted on Taste and Tell, a rockin' blog I seem to be stalking and copying from pretty often as of late, that I wanted to try and had all of the ingredients on hand already.

The recipe is Bar-B-Cups and its totally a fun kid friendly recipe. I adapted it a bit so that it would be a little less fattening. I bought the reduced fat version of refrigerated biscuit dough and used some cooking spray to grease the muffin tins. The use of LEAN ground turkey made a difference in the fat and calorie count as well. I also cut the biscuits in half and used less biscuit in each muffin tin and more of the turkey.


**Side note-check out these really cute summery plates and tumblers I found at CVS for 75% the other day! SCORE! I know its the end of summer-but they can be used next season and they are kid friendly plastic and for 19 and 25 cents each you can't beat it.**


OK, back to the recipe-this takes less than 30 minutes to make. We had it with some steamed broccoli and baby corn spears.


Bar-B-Cups-My Adaptation of the ORIGINAL


1 lb. lean ground TURKEY
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 can reduced fat flaky refrigerated biscuits
1/4 cup shredded cheddar


Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. In large skillet, brown ground turkey over medium heat until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Stir in barbecue sauce, onion and brown sugar. Cook 1 minute to blend flavors, stirring constantly.Separate dough into 12 biscuits. Depending on the size of biscuits you buy-you might be able to cut each biscuit round in half and then place 1 biscuit in each muffin cup. Firmly press in bottom and up sides, forming 1/4-inch rim over edge of cup. Spoon about 1/4 cup turkey mixture into each biscuit-lined cup. Sprinkle each with cheese. Bake at 400°F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of biscuits are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from muffin cups.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Easy 2 Minute Pesto


Since the basil is ready to start harvesting and I do love pesto...my little sioux chef and I whipped up a quick batch this afternoon. Now if we can just keep ourselves from dipping tortilla chips in it and save some for the pasta dish I plan to make later in the week...


2 Minute Basil Pesto

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


As demonstrated by my little sioux chef above...dump everything into blender or food processor and pulse until everything is chopped up and mixed together.

You may need to take a spatula and scrape the sides of the blender and pulse again a couple of times just to really blend everything together.

**You can also substitute walnuts or almonds for the pine nuts and add lemon juice or hot pepper flakes if you like.**

Yumm...pesto sammiches anyone?

This Week's Meal Plan: Aug 30-Sep 5

I'm still kind of a in blah cooking funk right now-I have all of the recipes I *want* to try out-but once I get home from work in the evenings I just haven't felt like really getting into the kitchen and creating. Tracy's got a big competition today so we'll probably meet him later and have dinner out somewhere. I'm not feeling all that inspired this week so I'll duplicate alot of what we've had recently.

Saturday: dinner out...plus Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Homemade Pitas to snack on

Sunday: Baked Chicken Parmesan with Whole Wheat Lingine and Fresh Pesto

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Kids Choice Grilled Nutter Butter Nana Sammiches and Triple Berry Smoothies

Wednesday: Cat's Newspaper Chili, Salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Baked Chicken Chimichangas, Elote

Extras: lime-sugar-cookies

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Garden Update: 5 months


So its been about 5 months since I first planted my first round of seeds. I've learned plenty over the last few months and I am already making plans based on this years learning experience. I'm not so scared of planting things directly in the ground now. I can't wait to have a bountiful garden next season. I am sure that I'll be able to produce enough vegetables to feed our family both fresh and frozen and maybe some to take to the local farmer market and food bank.

What I have not yet learned is how to get rid of these disgusting little white aphid (?) bugs that seem to LOVE all things in the cabbage family. They are relentless. I'll have to work hard on that next year. I really want to have broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the garden because my family eats alot of those two veggies. I do have some little sprouts forming on the "trunk" of the little Brussels plant right now...so I might actually end up with a few sprouts this year.





Basil wins as being the best performer so far-it grows so quickly and abundantly and each time you pull off some leaves to use; within the next day or so the plant is covered back and full of more leaves to use. I can't use the basil fast enough! I'll be making a few batches of pesto to freeze this weekend.


There is really something about natural rain that makes the plants grow faster and green up more than water from a hose ever can. The rains we got over the last week really made things happen in the garden. Just take a look at how fast the cucumbers have developed, I only planted these about a month ago and they already have baby cucs!


I have also found out that apparently my peppers are destined to be sweet baby bells and NOT full size green peppers because they have started to change to a gorgeous red color already at their petite size. Isn't the color amazing?

Pumpkins also grow pretty quickly and its looking like we might have out little mini pumpkin patch in the backyard this year just in time for fall. They already have quite a few large pretty yellow orange blossoms.


This weekend I'm going to prepare another small section of the yard for planting some fall veggies. I've read that carrots, onions, lettuce, and greens like collards and spinach all do well in the fall. Its pretty mild here well into November so I hope to get a decent crop out of this next planting. I've been thinking about trying asparagus or potatoes too. Can't wait to see what this next round of seeds produce!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Brussels Sprouts: A Two for the Price of One Special!


I know most people's idea of a delicious dinner doesn't usually involve Brussels sprouts, and more than likely if someone told you they were having them for dinner you would turn up your nose. BUT...that's only because you've probably been served the bitter, flavor-cooked-out-of-them, boiled Brussels sprouts of yesterday's family kitchen.

BEHOLD!

This is a whole new era of the Brussels sprout! I shall share with you two of my favorite (one is a brand new favorite) recipes for Brussels sprouts that are sure to convert you from a Brussels hater to a Brussels lover.

The first is from allrecipes.com. Its not terribly healthy with the addition of bacon to the dish-but I've used turkey bacon to make it a little healthier and it was still yummy.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

1/2 pound sliced bacon
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup pine nuts
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cored and shredded
3 green onions, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
pepper to taste

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons grease, crumble and set aside.
In the same skillet, melt butter in with reserved bacon grease over medium heat. Add pine nuts, and cook, stirring until browned. Add Brussels sprouts and green onions to the pan, and season with seasoning salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until sprouts are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in crumbled bacon just before serving.


************************************************************************************

The next one is an all new favorite-I made it for the first time this week. It was a filling dish-that could be used as a meatless main dish or still could be a simple side dish.

Brussels Sprouts with White Beans and Parmesan

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 package frozen Brussels sprouts, thawed, cut in half lengthwise
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-salt, low fat chicken broth
1 15-ounce can great northern beans, drained
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Add oil to skillet, add garlic and Brussels sprouts and cook for about 5 minutes until sprouts just begin to brown.

Add broth and beans and cook down for about another 1-2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chocolate Wave Zucchini Bread


This one was inspired by another Foodie Blog I've been reading lately: Taste and Tell. She's got some gorgeous photos and a ton of recipes I'd like to try-you should definitely go check out her blog.


Now zucchini is one of the foods my husband refuses to eat...if you don't know us yet-my husband has an aversion to quite a few foods that I personally LOVE. So I will often times try to sneak those things into dishes to see if he will even notice. Sometimes I'm successful-other times-not so much. Well, zucchini went into the Chilaquiles Casserole the other day and he didn't notice, so I figured I try out this delicious looking bread recipe as well.


Well, he noticed the little green flecks in this one and asked about it-I told him it was spinach...hehehe...he believed it and ate two pieces. The kid also ate it. Score! So this recipe is a lovely way to get some veggies in that your kids might not normally eat.
I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose-I think that made it a little more dense-and I didn't use butter-I used a butter substitute. I also omitted the walnuts.
The bread comes out moist and rich with a nice texture and its pretty with the presentation as well. My "wave" didn't turn out as pretty as the one on Taste and Tell but it was interesting all the same. not bad for a first try. I think when I make this again-I'll experiment with piping the chocolate batter into the zucchini batter for a different design.


Chocolate Wave Zucchini Bread
1/3 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.




In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Mix in eggs.

Add zucchini, water, and vanilla; stir. Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in nuts.




Divide batter in half*, and add cocoa powder and chocolate chips to one of the halves.






Pour plain batter into bottom of the loaf pan. Pour chocolate batter on top of plain batter.**(I poured about 3/4 of the plain better into the loaf pan and then spooned the chocolate batter down the middles. I then spooned the remaining plain batter on either side of the chocolate batter).





Bake until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes, and remove from pan. Store in refrigerator.


*keep the chocolate "half" at just less than half the batter.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chilaquiles Casserole with Pico De Gallo


Tex-Mex + Casserole = YUM.


I'm all about an easy meal. I'm also all about a good casserole. Stuffed full of cheesy, veggie, and meaty goodness-they are a one dish comfort food dinner. That's usually a recipe for disaster on the calorie front but once again eatingwell.com I'm becoming an eatingwell.com junkie or something. I've been pleased with every recipe I've tried from the site so far.


The zucchini and sweet corn add a nice sweetness to the dish. I had to make a few modifications, and I was pleased with the end result. i used my favorite tortillas (Extreme Fiber Tortillas) in place of corn tortillas and I liked the results. This was almost like a Tex Mex lasagna.


Chilaquiles Casserole


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups corn, frozen (thawed) or fresh
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 corn tortillas, quartered
1 19-ounce can mild red or green enchilada sauce
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes.
3. Scatter half the tortilla pieces in the baking dish. Top with about half the vegetable mixture, about half the enchilada sauce and half the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.
4. Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more.


NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 245 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 23 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrate; 9 g protein; 6 g fiber; 351 mg sodium; 272 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (25% daily value), Fiber (24% dv), Vitamin A (15% dv).

Here's how I modifed the recipe:

~I used Extreme Fiber tortillas and I only used 8 of them instead of 12 corn tortillas.

~I also added ground turkey and a packet of Sazon seasoning.

~I forgot to get enchilada sauce so I used 1 14 oz can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes and chilis in place of it.

~I used only about a 1/2 cup of cheese.




Friday, August 22, 2008

Weekly Menu Planner: Aug 23-29

Go ME! I actually stuck to my meal plan this past week and made everything I had planned to make. Really made my week much easier. I'm not really feeling the whole meat and poultry thing this week. Its summer and I tend to get sick of really heavy food this time of year. My husband has a hard time accepting a plate of food without any "meat" on it though so I'll throw some in there just to be nice to him.


Saturday~Ham Steaks, Speedy Spinach Quiche, Salad

Sunday~Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Pita Triangles, greek salad

Monday~Baked Chops, Brussel Sprouts with White Beans, Smashed Red Potatoes

Tuesday~Leftovers

Wednesday~Chicken Florentine Rice Casserole, Marinated Tomato Salad

Thursday~Leftovers

Friday~Oven Baked Chimichangas, Corn and Black Bean Salsa

**Extras~Chocolate Zucchini Bread and a batch of pesto to freeze.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Red's "Super Muscle Yum" Smoothie and Pancake Puffs


Super. Muscle.Yum. That's what the almost 4 year old in the house has decided his latest smoothie concoction should be called. He claims it will give you big muscles like Superman. There are no studies to back this up, but his testimony alone should make you run to your blenders to make some right away!


He really did make this one up, he just tells me what he wants in it and we blend it up in the blender and taste. this one was not half bad. I could see adding oats or flax or even granola for texture and even more protein. We didn't really measure-so this is all estimation...


Super Muscle Yum Smoothie

1 container Light Banana Cream Pie Yogurt
a touch of milk
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup frozen banana slices
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
6-8 ice cubes

Throw it all in a blender-liquidy ingredients first. Blend until smooth. Drink. Get big muscles.

Pancake Puffs really have nothing to do with this recipe but the kid becomes mesmerized every time he sees the infomercial for this product on TV. HE stands there almost salivating as he watches them fill these little donut style puffy pancakes with things like strawberry sauce and chocolate whipped cream. Then he jumps up and down and says, "Mommy! Mommy! We NEED to get that! We NEED Pancake Puffs!"

Shoot, we NEED this? Well damn, I had no idea! I'm totally going to have to look into buying this Pancake Puff contraption, which you already know is $19.99 plus s&h. I am a bit disappointed though that there's no "order now and receive TWO pancake puff pans for the same low price" offer. Ah well, I guess its worth it though-I mean who doesn't love to eat sweet doughy goodness stuffed with gooey goodness?
People are talking about these little round puffy balls of goodness...I googled and quickly came across blog after blog post about them. Miss FickleMedia was convinced by a young wise one to get the pan and it has changed her life! diversionwednesday calls it the "future of food." and Domestic Spaz quite a few others are talking about the joy pancake puffs have brought to their children's lives.

How could i even consider depriving my child of the utter elation a pancake puff provides? I guess I'll be making a Target run sometime this weekend...there are rumors that Target carries this culinary gadget from heaven.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Napa Cabbage with Carrots and Rice Wine Oyster Sauce


I should rename this to UN-Napa Cabbage with Carrots...I could not find Napa Cabbage at any of my local grocers. Boo! to that. I really have a poor and limited selection here when it comes to produce. I just have to drive too far to get to Whole Foods or any decent grocer with a wide variety of produce and I loathe driving in this city. Traffic is horrendous. Anyway...

I figured I could use plain old green cabbage in place of the Napa. Here's the problem with that-Napa is a little more delicate than green cabbage and therefore cooks faster. Super Genius that I am-I didn't adjust the cooking time so my cabbage was a little underdone. It wasn't quite tender-crisp as the recipe calls for. The carrots were perfect though and I think I can see myself just making a carrot side dish in the future with the rice wine oyster sauce.

The flavor was still good though and I know that had I just cooked the cabbage a bit longer it would have been delicious. So thanks to eatingwell.com for another really great recipe! I served it with my Salmon Patties and some Wasabi Mayo. Click HERE for my sinfully easy Salmon Patty recipe.

Napa Cabbage with Carrots and Rice Wine Oyster Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot (1 large)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage (about 8 ounces)
1 cup thinly sliced carrot (1 large)
Rice Wine-Oyster Sauce (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl canola oil into the pan, add shallot and garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add cabbage and carrot and stir-fry until the cabbage just begins to wilt, about 1 minute. Stir Rice Wine-Oyster Sauce and swirl it into the pan; cook for 30 seconds. Stir-fry until the cabbage and carrot are tender-crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in sesame oil. Serve immediately.


NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 119 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 235 mg sodium; 142 mg potassium


Rice Wine Oyster Sauce

1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons oyster-flavored sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Whisk rice wine (or sherry), oyster sauce, sugar and salt in a small bowl.


NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 9 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber; 201 mg sodium; 1 mg potassium.


Wasabi Mayo

2 tbsp light or fat free mayo
wasabi paste (to taste)

Mix together mayo and wasabi paste. Add the wasabi a little bit at a time as a little goes a long way. Serve alongside salmon patties for dipping.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Citrus Chicken with Roasted Green Beans and Red Peppers


This is my favorite way to roast chicken at home. Its simple-not a ton of ingredients or prep work; and it tastes fresh and light. The green beans are terribly easy as well. Roasting time in the oven is about an hour and a half-but that's time you spend doing something else. Make your green beans after you have pulled your chicken out of the oven to rest. You have to turn up the heat to roast them and they only take about ten minutes, by the time the beans are done the juices in the chicken should have redistributed and you can slice it and plate it with your green beans.


Citrus Chicken
1 roaster chicken
1/2 small navel orange
1/2 lemon
1/2 small onion
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350. Rinse and clean roaster chicken and pat dry with some paper towels.
2. place in a baking dish or roasting pan.

3. Salt outside of bird and cavity.

4. Halve your orange, lemon and onion and stuff pieces into the chicken cavity.

5. Pepper the bird and then rub a good amount of olive oil all over the outside of bird.

6. Roast according to packaging instructions for bird weight-usually about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. I like to baste the chicken every 15 minutes or so while it is roasting.

7.Take chicken out of oven and let rest for about 5-10 minutes before carving. This gives the juices the opportunity to redistribute themselves into the meat and makes for a very juicy bird.



Roasted Green Beans with Red Peppers

1 pound fresh green beans
1 red bell pepper-julienne strips
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 500. Wash and trim green beans and toss in a bowl with red pepper strips

2. Add tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper and toss together.

3. Place in an even layer on a baking pan and roast for about ten minutes. Turning the beans after about five minutes. When you take them out they should be just beginning to brown.

**TIP** I cover my roasting pan in aluminum foil. This makes for easy cleanup. I can just pull off the aluminum foil and toss it-no pans to wash.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Weekly Menu: Aug 16-Aug 22

I've decided to start my weekly meal planning on Saturdays every week...I know you are just dying to know why right about now -aren't you? Well I'm just all unpredictable and crazy like that! Living on the edge-that's me! RIIIIIGGGHHHT then. So, really I'm doing that because its just more logical for me. Saturday is my first day off, I usually spend it grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, sticking around the house. See-I told you I am like totally living on the edge!

Really though, I get my cooking for the week started on Saturday and have more time to play around with recipes and stuff. I often times make enough on Saturday and Sunday to carry over into Monday meals anyway. So there it is. My FOOD week starts on Saturday.


Saturday: Poached Salmon w/ Creamy Piccatta Sauce, Herbed Couscous w/ Tomatoes, Salad

Sunday: Citrus Chicken with Roasted Green Beans and Red Peppers, Fruited Rice Pilaf

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Salmon Patties w/ Wasabi Mayo, Sweet Potato Fries, Napa Cabbage and Carrots

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Chilaquiles Casserole, Pico De Gallo, Mexican Rice

Friday: Leftovers

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes


These don't fall in line with our quest for cleaner healthier eating, but like I said before you can't completely deprive yourself..and its for the kids! Red is having an "End of Summer" party at pre-school today so we went with Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes as our party food contribution. We did use fat free angel food cake mix for the cupcakes though-so that cut down on the fat a little bit.

Here's Red-ever so happy to be going to his party today, fully decked out in his tie-dye shirt (made at school and required attire for the event) and silly sunglasses...



OK, so back to the cupcakes-they are terribly easy to make.
What you need (just the basics you can get fussier and fancier if you want):
1 box of flat bottom ice cream cones
1 box of cake mix, eggs, oil, water
Frosting and sprinklers for decoration
Ice Cream scoop or small ladle
What you do:
~First you prepare the cake batter as instructed on the box (or make your own from scratch-I'm lazy so I use boxed cake mix). Line up your cones on a flat baking sheet or place them in muffin tins.

~Using an ice cream scoop or small ladle, scoop up some batter and put into each cone-being sure to only fill it about 1/2 way full. I have found that an ice cream scoop provides about the perfect amount of batter for the cones. If you overfill it the batter will bake up and over the top and onto the cookie sheet-still tastes good-just not very pretty.

~Place the filled cones into the oven and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.











~Remove from oven, let cool and then frost and decorate.


~Yay! Cupcakes!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whole Wheat Couscous with Parm and Peas


If you know me-you know that I am a side dish as a main dish queen. I like meat/chicken/fish...but really love foods that are considered sides more than anything. During my weak moments of buttery, cheesy, greasy,cholesterol-y indulgence-you could see me plopped in a wooden chair at the Cracker Barrel dining on lovely down home versions of mac and cheese, collard greens, green beans, squash casserole and cheesy hash brown casserole. Ahhh...comfort food at its finest, and hey I was getting my veggies too, right?

Well, the aging metabolism decided to slow herself down and bestow some 40 inch hips upon my little frame-so the days of creamy cheesy bliss are over for me. I still allow myself the occasional 6 Cheese Baked Mac N Cheese or Loaded Baked Potato Salad complete with gobs of mayo, bacon and cheese. I know me and completely depriving myself would just mean failure.

I also know though that I have found that I love fresh, often times raw foods. I love the clean taste and the lightness of them. I have always loved a fresh crisp salad loaded up with veggies. One of my favorite snacks is shelled, blanched and chilled edamame.

So anyway, after that long drawn out and unnecessary explanation about my love of side dishes...here's what I made for dinner last night: Whole Wheat Couscous with Parmesan and Peas It was delicious! I found it posted on Eatingwell.com-which is a recipe site I just discovered recently. *I* could eat this as a main dish for dinner with a nice green salad. It was filling and at about 200 calories per serving, I would call it hip and boo-tay friendly. It was also quick and fracktastically easy. That's one of the great things about couscous-it literally takes only a few minutes to prepare-start to finish.

I did make some lemon garlic chicken tenders to go with, as my husband is a protein freak-he is an athlete and a true carnivore so there's no getting around the "meat" in this house. this recipe has about 10g of protein by itself-but you will never convince this man that you can get enough protein without some tuna or poultry thrown in somewhere.

I forgot to upload the picture of it to my online photobook so I'll have to post that later.

OK-so...make this stuff. Its elegant and easy and yumm.

1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Combine broth, water and oil in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let plump for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook peas on the stovetop or in the microwave according to package directions.
3. Add the peas, dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the couscous; mix gently and fluff with a fork. Serve hot, sprinkled with cheese.


NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 208 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 6 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 7 g fiber; 186 mg sodium.



**the only thing I did differently was dumped the parmesan in and mixed it into the entire batch. **

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday's Weekly Planner: Aug 4-10

Meh, I'm always a day late a dollar short so the theme might as well carry over into my weekly meal planning too. Hey-at least I'm consistent people-you can at least give me that , right?
Its Tuesday and I am planning my meals for the week now. Mondays are just too depressing to even try to be organized and Sundays-well Sundays are family days for us and frankly, I just don't feel the need to do anything productive on Sundays.

That being said here is the plan for this week:

Monday- Sunday Night Chili Leftovers and a ginormous tossed salad.
Tuesday-Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken, Veggie Fried Rice
Wednesday-Leftovers
Thursday-Crockpot Chicken and White Beans with Tomatillas, Mexican Rice
Friday-Leftovers
Saturday- Tex Mex Pumpkin Patties, Spicy Black Beans and Rice, Mixed Greens Salad
Sunday-Citrus Roast Chickens, Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Lemon Almond Green Beans

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Banana Pineapple Loaf: 135 calories a slice!


We were over-run by fruit flies last week. Gawd I loathe those things and they are NOT easy to get rid of. It seems almost inevitable that we get them down here. Every grocery store seems to have them and then you are bound to bring them home with you. DEEEEZ-gusting. Anyway, because of that any fruit I get has to be stored in the fridge-and bananas do not do nice things in the fridge. So I had about three bananas left that were brown and when you have brown bananas about the only to do with them is bake something.


I am not trying to completely blow my quest for hotness though so I figured I'd throw together this low fat/ low cal banana loaf that I've made once before. Its terribly easy and at only 135 calories a slice its pretty diet friendly.


Banana Pineapple Loaf


1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup mashed banana

1 can un-drained crushed pineapple

2 eggs, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to about 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine sifted dry ingredients, sugar and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir in banana, pineapple and eggs. Spoon into prepared pan and bake in a moderate oven for 1 1/4 hours (or until a skewer inserted comes out clean). Stand 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.


**I added coconut flakes to mine. I think chocolate chips or macadamia nuts would probably be really good too.**

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Garden Update: Tuesday July 29, 2008

At ten days in here is the little mini -garden we just planted! Everything has begun to sprout except the Cilantro. The Dill has two TINY little sprouts and and onions have little green threads poking up from the soil.

The sunflowers were the first to sprout, then the beans and pumpkins.


Pole Beans

Pumpkins

Sunflowers



Update from the container garden on the deck:
We have a little tiny crown of broccoli forming!

Tons of Peppers

The cucumber plants are growing quickly too



And finally the brussel sprout plants are fighting back after the destructive cabbage worms nearly destroyed them.