Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Post 101: Sauteed Cherry Tomato Couscous

Interesting little tidbit...or not: I was just looking at my blogger dashboard and noticed that my last post was my 100th post here. It just doesn't seem like I've posted that much over here, especially with the long hiatus' I've taken from time to time. Ah well my own little mini milestone I guess...

On to the recipe!

This one is a WINNER. Its super fast-really 15 minutes or less from start to finish, and it felt like comfort food to me. I ate it as a main dish for dinner, but you could easily throw chicken or fish along side it for the true carnivores.

Its a recipe from the Nature Sweet Tomato Company that I found in one of those Sunday paper coupon inserts. I modified it a little bit and it was truly delicious.

Sauteed Grape (Cherry) Tomato Couscous
Here's what you need:

3 cups low sodium veg stock (I used 1.5 cups chicken broth and 1.5 cups water)
1.5 cups couscous
1 tbsp EVOO
2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves, torn
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic ( I actually omitted this inadvertently and it was still good)
1 minced shallot
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I used about a tsp of dried basil)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Here's what you do:
Place stock in a large saucepan over high heat and heat to boiling. Remove immediately from heat, and season with salt and pepper then stir in couscous and cover. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in saute pan over med high heat. When hot, add tomatoes, spinach, walnuts, garlic and shallots. Saute for about 3 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften. Add basil and toss together. Season with salt and pepper.
Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Add tomato mixture and combine gently.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Perfect Shrimp Cocktail

Ah skrimp...its my fav. I totally dig it, but I don't buy it often because its not cheap and I will eat very bit of it. We went grocery shopping today though and Red was all, "OOOOH Shrimp Mommy! Let's get some SHRIMP!" over and over and over again as though it were the treat of a lifetime. He even threw in the"I'll be your best friend!?" line. So I got some.

Oh yeah and don't hate on the WT (white trash) ghettotastic tator tots in the pic...you know they are good. You know you like them! You know you do. We don't ever buy the things-but you know every once in awhile you gotta be bad...and this was another kid request. Yeah, he wanted shrimp and tator tots for dinner...I almost caved and got some frozen fishsticks. Oh yes, that's right! Frozen mystery fish type stuff smooshed together and breaded...I was able to overcome the urge though and pass them by.

Hey, don't be mad at me. Nobody ever claimed this was a food snob blog. We drink Arbor Mist round here too.

Anyway-my favorite way to eat shrimp is basic shrimp cocktail over ice with cocktail sauce and lemon. I love it fried or scampi style or tossed with pasts-but my absolute fav is shrimp cocktail.

Some people will just thaw and rinse some frozen shrimp and serve it and I just think that is nasty. It has a fishy taste then that ruins it for me.

I have an easy peasy fo'sheezy way to make perfect shrimp cocktail.

Here's what you need:

1 14 oz package frozen shrimp, deveined-tail on, thawed
1 lemon
1 large bowl of lukewarm water
celery salt or old bay seasoning

Here's what you do:

-slice up lemon and place lemon slices into bowl of lukewarm water.

-let lemon water set for about an hour.

-put shrimp into colander and rinse under cool water

-add celery salt and/or old bay seasoning to bowl of lemon water

-add shrimp to bowl and let sit for about 15 minutes
-dump bowl into colander and discard liquid

-place shrimp in the fridge for a few minutes to chill

I like to serve mine over some crushed ice (to keep them very cold) with lemon slices and cocktail sauce.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flounder Packets with Lemon and Tomatoes

This is a recipe from cookinglight.com. I will use more ginger next time I make it and make sure my fish isn't so waterlogged. I used thawed frozen flounder and I should have let it dry on some paper towels a bit before I baked it in the parchment paper packets.

The flavor is nice though-I love the lemon and ginger and tomatoes with the light fish. Nice and light and easy to throw together-pretty presentation.

Flounder Packets with Lemon and Tomatoes

4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet, about 2 tablespoons tomatoes, and about 2 tablespoons green onions)

4 (6-ounce) flounder fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°.
Cut a (36-inch-long) piece of parchment paper. Fold in half crosswise; open. Place fillets, slightly overlapping, in the center of right half of paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with ginger, lemon, tomatoes, and onions.
Fold paper; seal edges with narrow folds. Slide packet onto a baking sheet; lightly coat packet with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until browned. Place on a platter; cut open.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 171 (12% from fat)
Fat: 2.2g (sat 0.5g,mono 0.4g,poly 0.6g)
Protein: 32.9g
Carbohydrate: 3.7g
Fiber: 1.2g
Cholesterol: 82mg
Iron: 1.2mg
Sodium: 439mg
Calcium: 56mg

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chicken Salad w/ Grape Tomatoes

I love chicken salad in all forms...well I love potato and tuna salad too...oh and egg salad. I think I just love adding mayo to things to be perfectly honest. It does need to be the right mayo though...I'm not big on things like miracle whip or "sweet" mayos. I like my Hellman's and there is another brand that use to be sold by the Winn Dixie grocery chain called Blue Plate Mayo that I liked too.

Anyway-this is not a blog about mayo its about Chicken Salad! You can make chicken salad 1843 different ways and its pretty hard to screw up. Throw what you like in a bowl and add mayo and you've got a great sandwich filler or lettuce topper.

This is a nice refreshing easy recipe that sounds somewhat similar to this Ina Garten recipe that I've yet to actually try. She has broccoli in hers and tarragon. YUM.

I used two boneless skinless chicken breasts that I baked in the oven in a mixture of olive oil, white wine black pepper, kosher salt and thyme.

Chicken Salad w/ Grape Tomatoes

-2 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, rough chopped or shredded
-1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
-a pinch of fresh thyme leaves
-1 tsp spicy or whole grain mustard
-1-2 tbsp of mayo (depending on how moist you like it)
-about a tbsp of minced onion or chives

Mix all of the ingredients together and serve on bread, wrapped in a tortillas or lettuce leaves, or over some mixed greens.

This Week's Theme: Grape Tomatoes!

I bought a bunch of grape tomatoes at the grocery this week and then when I was meal planning and perusing recipes I happened to come across three different recipes to use them in. Odd. Its as though grape tomatoes were meant to be this week.

Is there some cosmic significance to all of the tomatoness this week? Could the sudden abundance of tomatoes in my life have some hidden meaning?

The dream dictionary lists this info about "dreaming' of tomatoes:

To dream of eating tomatoes, signals the approach of good health. To see them growing, denotes domestic enjoyment and happiness. For a young woman to see ripe ones, foretells her happiness in the married state.

Well, shit fire! If all that is true and applies to the waking hours then dammit I'm in for some goodness in the next few weeks! Ya hooey! Sounds good to me so let's just go with it,mmmkay?

I've got three recipes I'll be sharing this week:

**Chicken salad with Grape Tomatoes

**Flounder Packets with Lemon and Tomatoes

**Couscous with Grape Tomatoes

Speaking of tomatoes...the seedlings are growing in the starter tray and ALMOST ready to be transplanted into the garden plot. I've got the soil all worked over in the plot and ready for the seedlings and seeds to be planted. So far everything but the peppers have sprouted.

I planted two different types of tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, brussels and peppers in this batch. I don't have the tray in front of me, but I might have planted some onion too-or I might be saving those seeds to go directly into the garden with the cucumber seeds...can't remember. Oh well.

Got some mesculin greens mix started in a window box too.

I want to get some summer squash and corn started too. Probably start those the first week in April.

I need to get the circle dug up and the bricks installed for the herb wheel also. If the weather cooperates I'll get all of this and some tree mulching done over the weekend.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy "Patrick's" Day Pretzel Treats

You know I have been scouring the shelves for fun ingredients to make St. Patty's Day treats for Red's class and there really is not much selection down here? I remember growing up in Cleveland what a huge deal St. Patty's was...the streets were decorated and the yellow lines on the roads on some of the streets in Euclid would have green painted next to them...they use to even dye the river green when I was very young.
The parade was a huge event and as we grew into trouble making, experimental teenagers everyone would cut out of school to go to the parade and drink beer and be foolish. It was fun. I mean who doesn't love a good rousing round of silly Irish pub songs? It was like the Mardi Gras of the Midwest for us.

We ate corned beef and cabbage and drank lots of beer and hugged and partied with our friends. Good times...

Ah, the corned beef...I miss that. Cleveland is inundated with little Mom and Pop Corned Beef Sandwich spots...they come piled high with melted Swiss and mustard on rye...or you can have them Reuben style with a thousand island style dressing...so so bad, but so so good.

Ah the memories...
Anyway, Red's pretty into the whole "Patrick's Day" thing because well according to him, its Patrick from Sponge Bob's show day! That and anytime he gets to bring treats into school and wear a special color or something he is all about it. He loves a good celebration.

We made some candy coated pretzels for the class...pretty they are not, but tasty oh yes...and easy. He had fun making them and can't wait to share them with his class today as you can see here...don'tcha just {heart} a kids face that is beaming with pride?

Candy Coated Patrick's Day Pretzels

1 package vanilla almond bark (or you could do white choco chips)
green gel food coloring
1 bag mini twist pretzels
1 shaker of sprinkles

Melt the almond bark in the microwave. I broke the square in half and then mic'd it for 90 seconds...take it out and stir. continue to mic and stir in 15 second intervals until it is smooth creamy and melted.

Add some gel food coloring and mix to your color liking.

Place handfuls of pretzels into melted almond bark. Remove with skewers and place on a cooling rack or on wax or parchment paper. Before candy coating dries and hardens sprinkle with sprinkles or colored sugar.

Let candy coating harden for a few hours and then bag or container them.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lemon Yogurt Pancakes

Mmmm sounds airy light and refreshing right?

Meh-not so much...these just weren't lemony enough for me. The concept sounds good though so I think I will make them again-add more lemon juice next time and probably use vanilla yogurt rather than plain. I made them with fat free milk and fat free plain yogurt so that really could have added to the blahs with these pancakes.

Please, don't get me wrong, they weren't bad at all-just weren't what I expected. The way I made them-they just came out kind of regular. I barely tasted the lemon-I should have added more zest. I will definitely try them another time and modify the recipe like I suggested above.

Ah well, I dressed them up a bit with some fresh sliced strawberries and some butter and squeezed a little lemon juice on top.

Lemon Yogurt Pancakes

1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 c vanilla yogurt
1/2 c milk
zest of 1 lemon + juice
1 T butter for cooking

1. In a large bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs and add in the remaining ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and gently fold together. Let rest for 10 minutes.
2. Melt a bit of butter in your griddle or cast iron pan and add a small amount of batter. Cook until bubbles appear and the edges look dry. Flip the cakes over and cook for a few minutes more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Edamame! Eat it!

Edamame is my favorite...I covet Ruby Tuesday's salad bar because they have it. I always get a little mixed greens and top them with heaping spoonfuls of edamame when we go. Its just another way to say soybeans and we all know that soybeans are soooo good for us.

Just a half cup of edamame packs nearly 17 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber! As with any bean they do have a little fat-but its the good fat and not the bad so not to worry...enjoy!

My favorite way to eat it is blanched and chilled, but I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate it into our meals because it does pack such a healthy punch.

I threw this dish together last night to go alongside some pork we were eating...Its sort of like a succotash style dish...just sans corn and I added a bit of basil and parmesan to give it a little something extra.

Edamame with Peppers and Parmesan
1 bag frozen edamame
1/2 of a red pepper diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup (or more-you can never have too much cheese) paremesan cheese
kosher salt
~Cook edamame according to package directions, drain and set aside.

~While edamame is cooking saute the onions and peppers in the olive oil, add slat and pepper to taste.
~Combine pepper and onion mix with edamame and add parmesan and basil, stir to incorporate. Eat!

Speedy Side Dish: Bulgur with Pine Nuts

Quick? Check.

Easy? Check.

Healthy? Check.

Here's a super healthy whole grain side dish that takes 20 minutes start to finish with very little prep or fuss...Its packed with nutrients from the whole grain and fiber filled bulgur to the protein packed pine nuts. Use low fat/low sodium chicken broth or sub with veggie broth to make it even healthier...

Bulgur with Pine Nuts
1 cup bulgur
2 cups chicken broth
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, combine the bulgur, broth and onions; bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

Add pine nuts and stir to combine.

Nutritional Analysis: Makes 4 servings (1/2 cup size) 1/2 cup equals 177 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 7 g protein.

Friday, March 6, 2009

L.O.V.E. Wraps

The husband dude is in competition training mode so he's eating eggs like a man lately. It seems as though my fridge is spilling over with hard cooked eggs. The weather was so springy last night that I wasn't really feeling a heavy dinner so I grabbed a couple of his hard cooked eggs from his stash and figured I would make some egg salad wraps with the tortillas I had just made. Egg salad is easy and you can add whatever you like to it-I usually just add some mayo, mustard finely chopped onions and a bit of s&p to mine but I thought I'd see if I could find something a little different.

I came across Ellie Krieger's recipe for L.O.V.E wraps...fitting for the whole Grow Food LOVE thing, eh?

Its simple, not much different from how I normally make my egg salad. I didn't have any red peppers on hand so I did without those and I added about two pinches of shredded Colby-jack cheese to mine.

They turned out really tasty-a nice light warm weather lunch or even dinner for those nights that cooking isn't high up on the list of things you want to do.

L.O.V.E Wraps (Lettuce Onion Veggie Egg)
8 hard boiled eggs
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
4 pieces whole-wheat wrap bread (9 inches in diameter) **Used homemade tortillas**
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
12 thin slices red onion
8 leaves romaine lettuce, torn into pieces (about 1/2 cup)

Dice 4 whole eggs and 4 egg whites and put into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise and mustard and stir with a fork, mashing somewhat for desired consistency. Stir in chives and season with salt and pepper. Place wrap bread on a plate and spread the egg salad in the middle. Top with the peppers, onion slices and the lettuce. Fold into a wrap sandwich.
***I actually halved this recipe and it was enough to make FOUR mini wraps with smaller taco sized tortillas.***

How to Make "Rustic" Homemade Tortillas

1. Get some flour, oil, baking powder, salt and water.

2. Heat a griddle or skillet to about 375 degrees or you know hot enough to make water sizzle when you flick some droplets into the pan.

3. Hire a cute rolling pin operator like the one pictured here:

4. Follow this recipe:


2 cups of white flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water

~Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine the warm water and oil.
Add the water/oil mixture to the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time and mix the dough with a fork. Once the water is mixed in, add another tablespoon of water and repeat the process until all the water is mixed into the dough.
The dough will be sticky.

~Lightly flour a wooden cutting board and knead the dough. If the dough sticks to the cutting board while kneading, scrape up the dough and dust the board with a little flour and continue kneading. Eventually the stickiness will go away and you will have a nice smooth dough.

~Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it with a damp towel or damp paper towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

~Divide the dough into golf-ball-size balls by pinching off the dough with your thumb and fore finger. Form each ball into a nice ball shape.
Place the balls on a flat dish making sure they don't touch each other and cover with the damp cloth. Let the dough rest again for 10 minutes.

~Preheat a skillet or cast iron pan on medium high heat. You really can't beat cast iron pans for even heat distribution and their ability to withstand high heat without warping.
Lightly dust your wooden cutting board with flour. Take one of the balls of dough and flatten it out on the cutting board to a 4 inch circle. Rub flour on your rolling pin and begin to roll out the dough starting from the center out. Roll the tortilla until it is 6 or 7 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick.

~It's difficult to roll out a perfectly round tortilla so if that is important to you, you can always trim the tortilla with a knife-but really...(Insert rolling eyes here)

~Once you have rolled out the tortilla, place it on a preheated skillet. You don't need to add any oil or butter. Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds. You will notice brown spots all over your tortilla. Flip it over and cook an additional 30 seconds.
Don't over cook it as you want the tortilla to be nice and soft.

~Keep your tortillas warm by covering them in a towel on a plate or in a tortilla warmer.

~Tortillas are best eaten hot right off the griddle, but you can refrigerate and freeze them too.
If you freeze the tortillas, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put them in a ziplock bag. When you are ready to use them, first thaw at room temperature and then wrap them in foil and place them in a 250 degree oven for a 10 to 15 minutes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Just a Hunka Hunka Burger Love

Presenting...LOVE Burgers!

Made these just to be sweet to the husband guy on Saturday night...he's training for another competition at the end of March so that means he's on a high protein, almost no fat and high carb diet right now that which means something decadent and sweet won't really win his heart. He's never a big sweet/pastry/baked goods kind of person anyway so I have to find other ways to show him I love him through food.

Nothing really to these babies-just ground turkey a little seasoned salt, onion powder and a couple of small dashes of cinnamon and Worcestershire sauce. Served with a little Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce on the side. These would have been lovely with some caramelized onion and Swiss but like I mentioned earlier we were going with HEALTHY and LOW FAT.

I put some parchment paper down on the counter and patted the seasoned ground turkey into a rectangle that was about and inch thick and used a big heart shaped cookie cutter to cut the meat into heart shaped patties.

I also used my broiler pan and baked them in the oven so that any fat would cook out and off the burgers.

The season salt and cinnamon adds a slight sweet taste to the burgers.

Anyway, its kind of silly but the little extra touch, which didn't take anymore time than a burger would normally take to make was much appreciated by the husband guy. Just a nice little non traditional way to let my meat loving man know I love him.