Sunday, June 29, 2008

Red Pepper Lemon Chicken

Ok...This is recipe gets four T's.

Totally Yum.

Totally Easy.

Totally Quick.

Totally Healthy.

I found it while searching on . It was originally published in Sunset magazine.

The lemon that you add at the end really makes the dish. Its a clean tasting dish with inexpensive basic ingredients. Make it. Eat it. Enjoy it.

Red Pepper Lemon Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 boned skinned chicken breast halves (8 oz. each)
2 large shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock
1 jar (7 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
About 1/2 tsp. salt
About 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Shredded zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly and finely shredded parmesan

1.Preheat oven to 375°. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy ovenproof frying pan (not nonstick) over high heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Add chicken breasts, top side down, and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn chicken over.

2.Add shallots and garlic to pan with chicken, stirring occasionally so garlic doesn't burn, until shallots are soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add chicken stock, roasted red peppers, cannellini beans, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook until mixture begins to boil, about 1 minute.

3.Cover pan and put in oven. Bake 14 to 16 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through (cut to check). Transfer chicken to a plate.

4.Season roasted red pepper-cannelini bean-stock mixture with salt and pepper to taste and stir in lemon juice and zest. Divide vegetables among 4 rimmed plates or shallow pasta bowls, top each with a piece of chicken, and spoon sauce over all. Garnish with parmesan.

Here's how I had to modify the recipe:

~I don't have real parmesan shredded cheese at home. Cheese is frackin' expensive right now-so we just aren't indulging in it much these days. I did although, have a container of the fake processed grated parmesan in the fridge. I used that and instead of putting it on at the end-I put it on before it went into the oven.

~I also did not have shallots-they are somewhat of a luxury produce item as well. I did have onions though so I chopped up about 1/4 of a small white onion and used it in place of the shallots.

Low Fat Gluten Free Bluberry Muffins

Red and I made this last week for my husband's birthday. He's in training mode so he scrutinizes calories and fat in everything he eats right now. I found this gluten free muffin mix at the store and figured we would try it with just a few adjustments. We substituted 4 egg whites in place of 2 eggs and used skim milk and also used 3 tbsp applesauce to replace half the required butter. We added frozen blueberries and then I sprinkled the tops of some of the muffins with brown sugar and diced walnuts.

They weren't bad...decent enough for a mild sweet craving and at about 100 calories per muffin-diet friendly.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

First its Gazpacho, Then its Gone.

After driving home in Friday evening traffic with no AC in the blazing Georgia heat-after a week of sitting in at work in a tin nearly uninsulated building with virtually no AC in there either-all I could think of was something cold and refreshing to have for dinner last night so I started rummaging through the produce drawer in the fridge and the cabinets. I'd been eating salads for lunch all week so I wasn't really feeling that...then it came to me...GAZPACHO!

I love gazpacho! I am a cold food lover, especially in this heat. I'd like nothing better than to spend the remainder of the summer eating salads, sandwiches, hummus and dips. I love cold fried chicken with ketchup or ice cold shrimp cocktail. Shoot give me a plate of cold spaghetti and I'm a happy camper.

Look-I never claimed to normal or refined did I?

Anyway-I figured I make a batch of gazpacho up while I waited for my camera batteries to charge. There would be plenty to photograph for the blog later on, right?

WRONG. During the night we had a bit of a dramatic event here at the house-a sin my husband was in a car accident. He's fine-no injuries. Just a big headache is all and financial stresses. that being said-what do most of us do when we stress? We eat. We binge. We wallow and drown our sorrows in our food.

I reached for the gazpacho like it was a bottle of vino or a pint of Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ice cream. I ate and ate and ate until I had so much acidic tomatoes that I had a lump in my throat from reflux. That was some great gazpacho.

So here's a picture of what's left of the gazpacho:

The sticky frog is there for artistic affect.

...and the recipe...

Binge Inducing Gazpacho

1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp EVOO
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 /2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
a couple of dashes of hot pepper sauce (I used Louisiana Red Hot)
kosher salt

Put a little under half the can of tomatoes, along with the water and oil into a blender or food processor until soupy. Pour into bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir and then season with a bit of kosher salt until you reach the flavor you enjoy. Put in the fridge. Eat. Yum.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pork Carnitas with EXTREME FIBER Tortillas

Extreme Fiber Tortillas by La Banderita are one of my new favorite grocery store finds. They pack a whopping 12 grams of fiber in each tortilla and have 8 grams pf protein and are only 72 calories each!You can find them at I use them with everything now to give me that extra fiber to help with weight loss.

Today I made some carnitas in the crock pot with another favorite product-Goya's Mojo Crijollo. Its basically a marinade made from bitter orange, lemon and onion and garlic.

I found a slow cooker Carnitas recipe on so I figured I could use my Mojo marinade instead of what the recipe called for and throw it in the crock pot with my boneless country style pork ribs and some sliced onion and baby bell peppers.

Here's my recipe:

Carnitas with Mojo

1 1.5 pound package country style boneless pork ribs

1 bottle mojo Criollo marinade

1 small quartered and sliced

3-4 baby bells (I used orange and red)

Put all ingredients into crock pot and cook on high for about 4 hours-or until pork is falling apart. With a slotted spoon transfer pork to cutting board and pull apart with fingers. If you want you can remove the onions and peppers and discard or you can serve it along with the carnitas.

Serve in warmed tortillas with cilantro, lime, and queso fresco. You can top with salsa if you like. I prefer to top mine with queso fresco a twist of lime, cilantro and a bit of tomatilla salsa.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blackberries: Picking and Freezing

Red spent last week at work with me, and one of the days he was there we walked the trail around the softball fields and found wild blackberries growing in the brush. I remember going to the edge of the woods or the fence line dividing my auntie's yard from her neighbor's when I was a kid and just sitting in the grass picking berries and eating them with my cousin.

I figured Red might get a kick out of picking them and then bringing them home to eat. Needless to say -Red looks impressed in the pictures below-but once he tasted one he wasn't so into it. Blackberries are pretty tart and the seeds turn some people off. They are great in pies and sauces and tarts though.

Most of the berries aren't ripe yet-but I didn't want to let the ones that are go to waste so today I went out on my own to pick them. Its probably much easier to pick them on a farm-but I've got free berries at my fingertips so I'm going to take the risk. here are plenty of snakes in the brush, so I was wary of that. Plus, the berry plants have tons of thorns on them-I just threw on a pair of gardening gloves and sprayed myself down in bug repellent. Nasty red bugs love the plants, i.e. Chiggers. I got attacked by red bugs a few weeks ago and I am not in a big hurry to deal with that again. Imagine intense itching that doesn't stop even with layers of calamine lotion, hydro cortisone and fifteen other anti-itch creams, oils and lotions.

Anyway, I got about a pint of berries from picking today. Not quite enough to much with so I will freeze them for later. I'm pretty obsessed with the idea of baking tarts right now and a blackberry tart sounds fabulous to start my tart making extravaganza.

Freezing berries is really pretty simple-so simple I feel silly even blogging the instructions, but there was a time in the past when I wasn't sure how to do it and googled it myself-so maybe this will help someone else.

This method works well for pretty much all berries, I've done it with blueberries and raspberries before when I had picked them up in bulk.

First wash your berries in a colander. Gently rinse them and then let them drip dry in the colander for about 10 minutes.

Empty them to a paper towel to absorb any remaining liquid. Don't squeeze or press them. just blot them gently and let the paper towel absorb the rest of the water.

Spread the berries out on a baking sheet or other pan with a lip on it. Doing this instead of just dumping the berries into a bag and freezing helps them not only freeze faster but they freeze individually and not in one big clump. This allows you to use only what you need and put the rest back in the freezer without having to defrost an entire bag.

The berries will freeze quickly-usually within a couple of hours. I put mine in my deep freezer-its colder than my regular freezer. Once they have frozen, you can then dump them into freezer bags and put them back in the freezer for later use.
Now, I'm off to search for the perfect blackberry tart recipe to test out.

Purrty Sweet Cornbread

Not a huge fan of cornbread myself...maybe because I wasn't really raised on it. Kind of like grits-not too big on that either. They love the stuff down here in the South though-they serve it with almost every meal.
Anyway we are trying our best to budget and make inexpensive but satisfying meals that get the most from our money so I figured I'd make a ginormous pot of chili and needed something to go along side it. I opened the pantry and saw an old tub of cornmeal on the shelf. Hmmm, waste not, want not right? I've never actually made cornbread from scratch before-I always use Jiffy mix in the box. Apparently, according to real Southern folk-that makes me a real sinner. What do you expect from a Yankee girl? We like bread or rolls with our dinner, not so much biscuits and cornbread.
Well, I found a very simple Sweet Cornbread recipe-only like 5 ingredients. Quick and inexpensive. I also had a container of leftover raw baby corn in the fridge that I decided to use to dress it up a little bit.
Not only that but I even used (GAG!) powdered non-fat milk to make it. I have a GIANT box of powdered milk in the pantry that I use only to make homemade protein bars. Have you ever tasted powdered milk? Don't its disgusting. It worked in this recipe though.
I actually really liked this. It was nice and sweet-especially around the edges. The addition of the corn spears added something extra that I really liked too. I think if you want it even sweeter this might taste great piping hot with some honey drizzled over top. The boys gobbled it up too. They both wanted seconds.
Here's my modified recipe:
Purrty Sweet Cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk (again I used nonfat)
1/3 cup butter flavored Crisco
5-10 baby corn spears
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray. Stir together dry ingredients. Add egg and milk and mix together. Cream in Crisco with a fork. Pour into cake pan and press about 5 spears into batter so they are completely covered. Lay the other 5 on top in a sort of sunburst pattern. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Garden Update: Three Months In

Check out my garden! What progress! As you can see the plants are still NOT in the ground. Its just been too hot to even attempt to transplant them. Matter of fact the heat has really done a number on my plants. I have learned that spinach and peas prefer cooler temps.

These yellow flowers right here are the end to my fresh spinach. Apparently once they flower-you get no more viable edible foliage from the plant.

I moved the peas to a spot below the deck after they had already been exposed to a week of 95+ degree temps with full sun. The damage had already been done-because they are a rather sad lot right now. I took a closer look though and noticed some new sprouts coming up closer to the soil so maybe there is hope for them yet.

The broccoli, brussel sprouts and pepper plants are in love with the heat though. Look at all the new foliage on the broccoli and brussels and how thick there stems are getting!

They have a really long growing season and will be ready for harvest in the fall.

The peppers are finally forming buds! Unlike with the spinach this is a GREAT sign-that means beautiful peppers are right around the corner.

The beans are moving along slowly, I harvested a small bowl full of beans from the plants this morning. I think once they get in the ground they will really start producing large amounts of beans.

So I've learned a few things this past week:

-plant and harvest spinach early.
-get the plants in the ground so they can really produce and do it before it gets too hot.
-peas don't like the heat
-mature brussel sprout plants look like trees with nuts on them.
-my kid looks really cute in green...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Off Season Meal: Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Pumpkin seems to be something people only like to use in the fall and winter months, so I refer to this as an off-season dish. I'm making it in the summer, because ya know-I'm all rebelllious and stuff...

Well then, really I think that the pumpkin in this chili almost lightens it up and makes it a more refreshing meal for this time of year. PLUS-there is not hot oven and there isn't a ton of standing over the stove to be done while preparing it. It really only takes about 15 -20 minutes to make this one.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 package ground turkey
1 small onion chopped
1 small green pepper chopped
1 can diced (I use no salt added) tomatoes
black pepper
chili powder
cayenne pepper
1-2 cloves minced garlic
kosher salt
1 can black beans drained and rinsed

Put a little olive oil in skillet and start cooking onion, green pepper and garlic...add ground turkey and brown. Drain off fat. Add black beans and cook another minute or so. Add pumpkin and tomatoes-stir and add spices as you like (to your own taste) I did not measure my spices-I just seasoned and kept tasting till I liked it. Cook until heated through.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

CopyCat Recipe: Starbucks Shaken Black Tea Lemonde

Its simply too hot down here in "Tha Dirty" right now to do much eating or cooking. With the heat index reading "Death Valley" the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven or stand over a gas stove and cook.

There have been lots of sandwiches and salads the last few days. And lots of COLD drinks. Since we've been trying to stay home and not waste gas and save little bits of money here and there I needed to find a way to duplicate my latest HOT weather obsession: Starbucks Shaken Black Tea Lemonade. Oh how I love that drink-but at $3-something a wop-it just doesn't make sense.

Its terribly easy to duplicate.

Homemade Starbucks Black Tea Lemonade

4 earl grey black tea bags
Lemonade (pre-made or make your own-I use the frozen concentrate to make mine to save time)
Ice cubes

I use my drip coffeemaker to brew the tea. Instead of putting a coffee filter in the basket-I line the bottom of the basket with the tea bags. fill the coffee pot with water to about the ten cup line. Pour water into coffeemaker and begin brewing.

Fill a pitcher about half way with ice cubes. When tea is finished brewing-pour over ice cubes. I then pour lemonade to about the 6 -8 cups line in the coffee pot and pour that into pitcher. Stir and pour into glasses...add more or less lemonade and ice to suit your taste.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Foodie Blog Roll

YAY! I've just been added to the Foodie Blog Roll! Go....ME! I'm truly excited about it. Seriously, though if you love food (like we all know I do) check it out either with this link:

...OR its also over on the left sidebar of my blog. If you've got a food based blog you might want to consider applying to add yours to the blog roll as well. Its a great way to help drive traffic to your blog.

I've already been carousing and stumbled upon some delicious, creative and interesting new blogs like My Tasty Space doesn't her food look fabulous?

OR...Cake and Commerce-she has beautiful pictures of food and restaurants and whatever else you could want that deals with FOOD.

There's a ton more...I could go on forever, but I have to get back to browsing them myself. Enjoy!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mango Lassi

I love this drink! Its so easy to make and perfect to drink after a spicy meal. (there's no apple in it-I just put it in the picture for color)

Mango Lassi


1 1/4 cups vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango pulp (if using frozen-let it thaw before use)

1/3 cup cold water

4 tablespoons honey or sugar

9-10 ice cubes.

Blend everything but the ice cubes in the blender until the sugar or honey is dissolved. Add the ice and blend until frothy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fat Free Strawberry Angel Cake

I had a terrible sweet craving today and considered pouring a bag of chocolate chips into a jar of peanut butter and grabbing a spoon and going to town, but I was saved by the box of angel food cake mix in the pantry. I'm not a huge fan of the cake but it does always go nicely with fruit toppings and its light and FAT FREE.

I don't own a tube pan so I used two round cake pans instead. I threw some frozen strawberries into the blender and rough chopped them and then folded them into the prepared cake batter. Then I made a topping with some more frozen strawberries, sugar and a little bit of pure vanilla extract. Just dump it all into a small pan and heat and stir until the strawberries begin to break down and the sugar melts into a syrup. Let cool-it will thicken as it cools.

Served the cooled sliced cake with some of the strawberry topping spooned over top and if you like a spoonful of fat free whipped topping. It was really good. The boys-ate half the cake just today.

Today's Harvest and Demon Caterpillars

What a bounty! Gee, maybe if JC himself will pay us a visit today and turn it into enough to feed the masses. Something tells me JC won't be knocking on my door anytime soon though so it will be enough to throw on a big salad for the family I guess. Hey, you work with whatcha got, right?

I also need JC to have a come by and deal with the demon caterpillars that have all but devoured one pot of spinach overnight! JERKS. What do they think this place is anyway-free sample day at the market? Caterpillars are cool and all-but they need to stay away from my humble little "garden". Red put them all in a little jar with the remnants of spinach leaves and is calling them his new pets.

So I cut off all the damaged spinach leaves with some gardening shears and here is what's left of the ravaged plants...

I had to add a new WT "trellis" for the pea plants so I could spread them out more. They were starting to choke each other out. As you can see, I still have yet to put anything in the ground. I'm such a scaredy cat and a procrastinator too. I do need to get these in the ground though, because I've got some herb sprouts started that will be needing some pots in a week or so. I did cilantro, mint, basil, dill and thyme.

I'm happy to see that I haven't killed anything completely yet. It was a close call for the spinach-but I caught it before the plant was completely destroyed. So far so good.