Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rosemary Potato Chips and Avocado Fries

I love making my own chips. They are much healthier and you can make your own flavor creations, which is always fun. The avocado fries were an experiment that turned out pretty yummy. I served them with some Kosher hot dogs because the husband had been asking for them.

Rosemary Potato Chips

2 medium russet potatoes, cleaned and unpeeled
1 tbs olive oil
Coarse salt (use Kosher or Sea Salt), about a tablespoon
Ground pepper, about 1 teaspoon
Half a palm full of dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 425. Thinly slice a couple of russet potatoes, about 1/8 inch or less. Put the slices into a gallon size plastic baggie and add the rest of the ingredients.

Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray and place potato sliced in a single layer on it. Cook for about 20 minutes, and then turn over. Cook for another 15 minutes, and check. Some potatoes will brown sooner, so keep checking and remove the ones that have crisped up. Put done chips onto a cooling rack.

Tip: to break the rosemary down, take a bit in your palm and rub it between your fingers until it begins to crumble.

Avocado Fries

1 avocado, sliced into 6 slices per half
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Vegetable Oil

Mix flour with some salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of each. Start by dipping an avocado slice into the flour, coat as best you can, and then dip into the egg. Add to the panko and turn to coat. Repeat until all the slices are coated.

Heat a half an inch of oil in a fry pan over medium high heat. Add avocado slices and fry for about a minute and a half per side. The panko should be a light brown.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Apple Pie Pockets

These are a really easy dessert, especially if you happen to have some leftover pie crusts.

1 pie crust, single recipe is fine (I follow the Good House Keeping recipe, but add a tbs sugar and a tsp cinnamon)
2 apples, golden delicious or granny smith, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tbs sugar (plus a little more)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (plus a little more)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp flour
Juice of a 1/4 lemon

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together apples, sugar, spices, flour and lemon juice.

Roll out pie crust and cut in half. Place 1/2 the apple mixture on one crust and fold up the edges. It is okay if it doesn't meet completely. Repeat with the other piece. Sprinkle each with a little more sugar and a little more cinnamon. Place on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 minutes. Crust should be slightly browned and apples soft if you stick a fork through one of the holes.

Mostly Homemade Ravioi with Knife and Fork Caesar

Mostly Homemade Ravioli
This is an easy alternative to making your own ravioli. Using wanton wrappers makes for a perfect ravioli, and this recipe is especially easy because you don't even have to boil the ravs, just bake them in the incredibly yummy tomato cream sauce.

For the sauce:
Olive Oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp crushed red peppers
Salt and pepper
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
3 tbs heavy cream

In a sauce pan, heat a little olive oil and add onion and garlic, cook till fragrant. Pour in tomatoes. Let simmer for a few minutes and then add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in basil and then add cream, feel free to add more or less depending on preference. Let simmer on low until your ravioli is ready.

For the ravioli:
About 30 Wonton wrappers (buy the smaller size package)
1 15 oz package ricotta
1 cup frozen spinach
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 egg, beaten
Half a small round of mozarella, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small saute pan, heat spinach until it is thawed (this saves you from having to defrost and wring it out). Mix ricotta, salt, pepper, Parmesan, and egg. Add spinach.

To form the raviolis, brush a little water around the edges of a Wonton wrapper. Put a dollop (a little more than a tablespoon) of filling into the middle. Put another wrapper on top and press to seal. Repeat until you have made all the raviolis you need.

Pray a glass casserole with nonstick spray. Place raviolis into casserole, overlapping if needed. Pour sauce over raviolis, and top with sliced cheese. Cook for about 30 minutes. Cheese should be nicely browned and sauce should be bubbly.

Knife and Fork Caesar
This is my favorite way to eat a Caesar. It just seem so fancy!

A few hearts of romaine leaves, per person
Caesar dressing

Spread a tablespoon or so over romaine, top with a few croutons and Parmesan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good For A Crowd

Cooking for my in-laws is never a small feat. The husband is 1 of 5 kids, and all but one of them are attached, plus there are 4 little ones amongst us... so when we come together there needs to be a lot of food. Last Friday I learned that in less than 24 hours I needed to have dinner for 10 of us. My first though was "Oh goodness...." Ok, that might have been a little bit nicer than what I actually thought, but my second was, "Ok, I need something easy and cheap!" Anyway, I pulled together a pretty good meal and was able to make dinner for all of us for around $30.

Roasted Tri Tip
This is a good cut of meat, it is tasty and often pretty reasonable.

2 medium or one large sized tri tip roasts (plan on about 1/2 lb per person)
1/4 c chilli powder
1 tbs cayenne pepper
1 tbs cumin
1/2 tbs paprika
1/2 tsp ground mustard
4 gloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs salt
2 tbs olive oil

Trim meat if necessary. Mix together other ingredients to form a paste. Rub meat with mixture and cover with saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Take meat out about 15 minutes before you plan on cooking it.

Preheat oven to 425. Put a metal rack in a baking pan and place roasts on top. Cook until an internal thermometer reaches 135 (medium), around 45 minutes for a 3lb roast. Take meat out of the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting into 1/4 inch slices.

Garlicky Oven Roasted Potatoes
Always a crowd favorite and always easy. The can go in the oven with anything else you are cooking, so they cook well at almost any temp, they just many need to cook a little longer at a lower temp.

Olive Oil
3 lbs of red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
5 cloves of garlic
A small handful of flat leaf parsley
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 (or whatever you are cooking at, anything about 350) Put a couple table spoons of oil onto a baking pan. Spread it around and add potatoes. Try to get most of the potatoes so that the flesh is against the pan, rather than the skin. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle paprika onto potatoes so that each chunk has a bit on it. Put in the oven for around 30 minutes.

Before you take the potatoes out, throw garlic, parsley, and a drizzle of oil into a food processor. Pulse until garlic is well chopped. Take potatoes out, spread garlic on top of potatoes. Put potatoes back in the oven for another 10 or 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them. You can also put them under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown.

I served the above with my favorite green salad and homemade balsamic dressing. I've posted this before, but I will give it to ya again.

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 c Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 c Olive Oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs honey mustard

I like to make this in my Magic Bullet, but it can be made in a blender or food processor. If making in a Bullet or blender, simply put all ingredients into a cup and blend until thickened (about 30 seconds). If using a food processor, put all ingredients except oil in, start processor, and drizzle in oil until blended and thickened. Store leftovers in the fridge.

My Favorite Green Salad
This generously serves 2 people

2 cups spring mix lettuce
1/4 c sliced red onion
1/4 c cherry tomatoes
1/2 an avocado, chunked
a handful of croutons
Balsalmic dressing to taste

Combine and salivate.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crusty Garlic Basil Pizza Dough

This pizza dough is so yummy and thick. It is great with meat toppings and perfect for veggie pizzas. I adapted this recipe from a basic dough that was in Sunset Magazine.

1 1/2 c warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 c olive oil, plus a little more
4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder

In mixer, stir together yeast and water. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and using a bread hood attachment, blend ingredients together on low for about a minute and then on medium speed for 10 minutes. Once dough is stretchy and smooth, pour a little more oil (about a tbs) onto the dough and using a spatula, coat dough ball in oil. Cover with a towel and let sit for about an hour, until dough has doubled in size. Punch down and let rise again for a half an hour. Once dough is done rising, oil a large pizza pan and press dough into it.

Top with your favorite sauce and toppings. I chose crumbled Italian sausage, Salame, onions, olives, chopped mushrooms, garlic, and lots of mozzarella. It would also be amazing with just slized tomatoes, and basil or pesto.

Bake at 350 for abour 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned. I recommend getting a pan that has holes in the bottom, that way your pizza will cook evenly.

Also, if you prefer a thinner crust, you can halve the dough and refrigerate or freeze the extra. It will take a bit more work to press or roll into your pan though.

Sausage with Roasted Eggplant Basil Pesto and Sautéed Grape Tomatoes

Sausage and pesto pasta was one of my favorite meals growing up. I think it was an easy meal for my busy mom, and it was something her picky eaters would gobble up. We used to get Lakewood Sausage all the time, but then it was no longer available in our area, which was a crying shame. So, if you are ever in Lodi, CA stop by Lakewood Meats and Sausage and pick up some smoked Brats for me... they won't let you down!


Uncooked sausage, I usually get hot Italian Turkey

In a pan heat about an inch of water over medium high heat. Put sausage in pan and cook for about 5 minutes, turn over and cook for another 5. If there is still water in the pan, pour it out and brown sausage on each side for a minute or two.

Roasted Eggplant Basil Pesto
This is kind of a cupboard pesto. I had some eggplant that needed to be used, some basil that was ready to be pesto-ized, and even a few sun dried tomatoes, it turned out great! So be creative with your pestos!

Olive Oil
1/2 and eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 c packed Basil
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (if you have them on hand)
3 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Reserved cooking liquid from cooked pasta

Preheat oven to 325, place eggplant on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until it begins to brown and becomes soft.

In a food processor, add eggplant, basil, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Blend until well chopped. Drizzle in 1/2 c olive oil and blend until smooth. If pesto seems a little thick add some of the cooking liquid.

Mix in with a cooked pasta of your choice.

Sautéed Grape Tomatoes

Olive Oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
Salt and pepper

In a sauté pan heat a little olive oil over medium high heat and add tomatoes. Sauté until tomatoes begin to turn a golden color, about 3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Herbed Chicken and Dumpling Soup

So yummy on a cold, rainy day.

2 chicken breasts
3 large carrots, sliced
3 or 4 sticks of celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
1/8 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
2 or 3 dashes thyme
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
1 32 oz container of chicken broth
4 c water

2 cups Bisquick
1 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2/3 c milk

Heat a little oil in a large soup pot. Add veggies and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in herbs and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add whole chicken breasts and cover with broth and water (liquid will cook down some). Keep on medium high heat for about 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and keep soup hot. Shred chicken breasts (use to forks and pull away from eachother). Add chicken back into pot. Cook for another 10 minutes and taste broth, add more salt and pepper if needed. Turn soup up to a boil.

In a bowl combine bisquick, parsley, and garlic powder. Add milk and stir to form soft dough.

Drop dough by spoonfulls onto boiling soup. The dough should make around 10 dumplings. Boil soup without a lid for 10 minutes. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes until dumplings are no longer doughy looking.

Serve immediately.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crockpot Beef Teriyaki and Sauted Veggies Over Rice

Crockpot Beef Teriyaki

2 lbs thinly cut bottom round (Also called Carne Asada Meat, just make sure you don't get the marinated kind!)
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c pineapple juice or water
1/4 c sugar
1/8 tsp ginger
A couple dashes dried mustard
4 cloves garlic, smashed and thrown in whole
1 tbs corn starch

Slice meat against the grain into 2 inch pieces. Put meat in crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients *except corn starch*, stir to combine. Cook on low for 3 hours.

Once meat is cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Put cooking liquids into a small sauce pan and heat to a low boil. In a small bowl combine 1 tbs corn starch and 1 tbs cold water. Stir into sauce. It should thicken immediately.

Sauted Veggies

2 cups broccoli slaw
3/4 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/2 cup thickened teriyaki sauce

In a saute pan, heat a tsp of oil over medium heat and add mushrooms. When mushrooms begin to soften add broccoli slaw. Add sauce and saute until soft.

Serve beef and veggies over white or brown rice with a little more thickened sauce.

Meatball Sandwiches and Caeser Salad

Meatball Sandwiches
I love to find ways to make leftovers into another dinner, otherwise things often find their way to my trash after a few days. If you have leftover Turkey Meatballs, this is an easy one!

Leftover meatballs
Leftover Homemade Marinara or a fresh jar
Mozzarella Cheese, the fresh kind or something not shredded

Preheat broiler. Place rolls so the flat bottom is down. Cut along the top, lengthwise, but not all the way through. Heat marinara in a pot and add meatballs, heat until warmed through. Place 4 or 5 meatballs in each roll and spoon marinara over them. Slice mozzarella into thin slices and lay over the top of the rolls. Put under broiler and cook until cheese is melted and browned, about 3 minutes.

Caeser Salad
This is my mom's all the way. Enjoy this, folks.

1/2 c prepared caeser dressing (Marie's is best, but Lighthouse will work as well)
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/2-1 tsp of anchovy paste, use a little if the idea horrifies you, more if you like the salty/spicy flavor
1/2 c olive oil.

In a food processor, blend dressing, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and anchovy. Turn the processor to 'on' and slowly drizzly in the olive oil until well blended.

Pour a little over romaine lettuce, croutons, and Parmesan for a yummy salad.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pasta with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Ricotta and Garlic Cheese English Muffins

Pasta with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Ricotta
This pasta is quick, easy and full of flavor.

1/2 lb bowie pasta
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, chopped into 1/2 inch squares
16 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
8 oz ricotta
Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water. Keep warm.

In a pan, add a little oil, onion, garlic, and eggplant. Cook until eggplant is soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and reserved water, cook until heated through.

Add vegetables and ricotta to pasta. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic Cheese English Muffins

2-4 English muffins, split
1 glove of garlic for each half, crushed
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat broiler. Butter each half of English muffin. Crush garlic and spread onto muffin. Top with a slice of mozzarella or a tablespoon of grated mozzarella. Broil for about 4 minutes or until cheese is melted and brown.

Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara

Nothing like comfort food!

Homemade Marinara

2 tbs onion
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 32 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper

In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Saute until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an hour.

Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 c seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs chopped parsley
2 tbs Parmesan cheese
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a baking pan with non stick spray. Mix above ingredients together. Form meat into golf ball size balls and bake in oven for 30 minutes.

Steak and Hash Brown Omelette

This omelette uses the leftover steak from the Garlicky Skillet Steak. Have it for breakfast, have it for dinner... have it for an afternoon snack.

Olive oil
1 medium russet potato, grated with a cheese grater
1 leftover steak
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 small jalapeno, diced
5 eggs
2 tbs milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 + 2 tbs cup jack cheese
1/4 + 2 tbs cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 tbs oil over high. Put spread potato out onto skillet in a thin layer. Cook until nicely browned for about 4 minutes on each side. Keep warm.

In another skillet heat a little more oil and add yellow onion. Cook until translucent. Add steak and stir together. In a bowl beat eggs and add green onions, jalapeno, milk, and 1/4 cup of each cheese. Stir together. Pour eggs over onion and steak. Top with hash browns and the rest of the cheese.

Put skillet in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, or until eggs are puffed and solid. Serve with sliced avocado and salsa.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Garlicky Skillet Steak with Tomato Basil Couscous and Marinated Cucumber Salad

It's good... really good...

Garlicky Skillet Steak
For this recipe, choose a thinner cut steak, which ever you like, preferably something on sale!

2-4 steaks
Olive Oil
Lots of garlic (at least 2 cloves per steak)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt, possibly more

On a cutting board, mince garlic. Add salt and a little drizzle of olive oil and using the side of your knife, make a paste with the salt and garlic (the salt helps break the garlic down) by pushing the garlic against the cutting board. This takes a minute or two, but just keep pushing the garlic into a thin layer and then scooping it back into a pile.

Sprinkle a little more salt on the steaks and season with pepper. Scoop half of the garlic onto steak and rub it into the meat. Turn steaks and repeat with the rest of the garlic.

Heat a non-stick pan over high heat for a minute. Once pan is super hot, add steaks and don't touch them for about 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, flip them (they should have a nice sear) and leave them alone again for 4 minutes. Your steak should be a solid medium, so if you prefer a more well done steak add a minute, if you like rare, take off about 1 minute.

Tent steaks with tin foil and let them hang out while you finish the rest of the meal.

Tomato Basil Couscous
I couldn't stop eating this. It is so good and so healthy!

1 c boiling water
1 c whole wheat couscous (I like Trader Joe's)
1 c grape tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs chopped basil
Olive oil

Heat a skillet over medium high and add a little olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes and cook until they start to turn a little golden, about 3 minutes.

Put couscous in heat proof serving bowl. Add cooked onion, garlic, and tomatoes and toss in basil. Stir to combine. Pour boiling water over couscous and cover with saran wrap and let sit for 5 minutes. The couscous will absorb the water and cook with the steam.

Marinated Cucumber Salad
My mom makes this salad and it is really fresh and tasty. It is even better on a hot summer day.

1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 an onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbs white sugar
Dash of salt

Mix above ingredients in a medium bowl or tupperware and cover with a lid (or saran wrap). Let cucumbers marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Garlic and Lemon Shrimp with Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Garlic and Lemon Shrimp
Delicious and amazing come to mind... The husband doesn't care much for shrimp, but he will even take seconds of these. Serve these babies with some of my Perfect Polenta and the Parmesan Roasted Broccoli and you have an amazing dinner.

1 lb of 31-40 count shrimp, de-vained and shell and tail removed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
4 gloves garlic, minced or crushed
A splash of white wine
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine the shrimp, lemon juice, garlic, wine, and a good dash salt and pepper. Let the shrimp sit in the marinade for a few minutes.

After they have had a chance to soak in some of those flavors, pour the whole mixture into a non-stick skillet and cook over medium heat. Arrange the shrimp so that they are in an even layer and all get a chance to cook. They will only need about 3-4 minutes on each side, so watch them carefully and flip when they are nice and pink on the first side, there should be no gray left on them. Don't cook them too long or they get rubbery.

(hey, I'm getting better at this food picture taking... huh?)

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Olive Oil
1/2 an onion, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 large head of broccoli, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper
A handful of parmesan

Preheat your oven to 375. Drizzle a baking pan with olive oil, and use a piece of broccoli to make sure it is coated. Toss broccoli, onion, and garlic onto pan and drizzle a little more oil on top. Season with some salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, broccoli should be starting to soften and get a little brown on the under side. Toss on Parmesan and put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until broccoli is tender.

Honey Mustard Salmon With Herbed Brown Rice

Take a breath, I promise this is the easiest "Almost Gourmet" meal you can make. It is SUPER fancy sounding and tasting but it is painfully easy and fairly cheap (salmon fillets usually run around $4 each, so compared to the $18 per dinner you would pay at a seafood restaurant, I think it is a penny pincher!).

Honey Mustard Salmon

2 salmon fillets, skin removed

¼ cup honey mustard

1 tbs lemon juice

Dash of garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Mix mustard, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Add salmon and turn to coat.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add salmon fillets. Cook on each side for approximately 4 minutes. Fish will be done when it is easily flaked with a fork

Herbed Brown Rice

2 cups cooked brown rice (still hot)

½ onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs chopped basil

1 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley

1 dash cumin

1 dash sage

Juice of one lemon wedge

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant and translucent. Stir onion and garlic into rice and add remaining ingredients, and combine well.

Serve the salmon and rice with a green salad and you will surely impress!

Winter Barbecue Dinner

Here is a yummy and easy indoor barbecue dinner.

BBQ Sauce

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup Worcestershire

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs brown sugar

½ tsp dried mustard or 1 tsp honey or Dijon mustard

½ tsp of chili powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp bullion, beef or chicken

½ ground ginger

2 tbs red wine

Combine all ingredients, but wine. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add wine and bring to a low boil and let thicken until desired consistency.

Super Easy Loaded Baked Beans

3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 large cans prepared baked beans (extra fat and salt pork removed)

½ cup BBQ sauce

2 tbs honey mustard

2 dashes cayenne pepper

¼ tsp chili powder

dash of dried mustard (if you have it)

Place ingredients in a crock-pot and cook on low for 3 hours or until veggies are soft.

Mock Onion Rings

I saw similar onion rings made on The Rachael Ray Show, theirs were made with whole wheat flour and whole wheat panko bread crumbs, but I didn’t have those on hand so I improvised. They certainly aren’t your golden brown, batter dipped, fried O-rings, but they are pretty tasty.

2 onions, sliced into 1 inch rings

1 cup milk

1 ½ cups flour

3 egg whites, beaten until soft peaks form

1 ½ cups breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Soak the onions in the milk for at least 20 minutes. Working in batches, dip onion pieces into the flour and then into the egg whites, and then coat them with breadcrumbs. Coat a baking pan with non-stick spray and place onions in a single layer on pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Barbecue Baked Chicken

2-4 chicken breasts (one for each person)

1-2 cups BBQ sauce

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking pan with tin foil. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in baking pan. Pour sauce over breasts and turn to coat. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Starting The New Year Off Right

Here are my recent creations! I also wanted to include some things I do to make recipes healthier and cheaper. Grocery shopping on a budget can be hard, but once you learn a few tricks, you can cut your bill by quite a bit. I'm always open to suggestions on this topic as well!

Money Saving Tips:

*Buy whole carrots, rather than baby carrots, they are ½ the price and are just prettier in dishes than baby carrots

*If you aren’t going to use your bacon right away, or chose to buy it in bulk, freeze it! Either put a few strips into a plastic baggies with a few drops of water and thaw when ready, or freeze it use a sharp knife than you ran under very hot water to slice the bacon crosswise (one slice crosswise is about equal to one regular slice).

*Buy your dry goods in bulk. If you live anywhere near a WINCO, check out their bulk foods section… it will change your life!

*If it is on sale and you use it a lot, stock up. That might be a simple bit of advice, but people rarely do this. Freeze meat, cleaned and cut fruit and veggies, even bread!

*Use broth instead of wine if you aren’t a wine drinker, otherwise you will just waste the lefover wine.

To Make These, Or Any Recipes Healthier:

*Use low fat or fat free dairy products (I almost always do, and my recipes turn out great)

*Always use whole grain options

*Look for meat without much marbling or cut off any extra (the fat is what gives the flavor though, so you don’t want to get rid of all of it, plus a lot of it cooks off anyway)

*Get to know spices, they will add flavor when you take away the fat

*Add less fat! I find most recipes call for more oil or butter than you need. When I am looking at a recipe that seems to call for a lot of butter or oil, I will try using less to see how it works. Often time, it is fine. This does NOT work for baking though, baking is much more exact and you can’t mess around with ingredients like with cooking.

Beef Stew

1/8 c olive oil, plus more for roasting veggies

1 c flour

Salt and Pepper

1 lb stew meat or chuck roast, cubed into 1 in cubes

3/4 c red wine

4 cups chicken broth or beef broth (beef is best, but chicken works too, if that is what you have on hand)

4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 c carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 onion, cut into ½ inch pieces

1c celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 small red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 russet potato (or the equivalent or red, new, or Yukon) cut into ½ to 1 inch pieces

1 sprig of fresh thyme or a dash of the jarred kind

1 dash of cayenne pepper

1 dash of paprika

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle oil on a baking sheet and spread veggies on pan, season with salt and pepper. Cook in oven until veggies are soft, checking after about 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high. Season flour with salt and pepper, toss in meat and stir until meat is coated, remove from extra flour, shaking each piece to remove any excess. Carefully place the floured meat in the oil and brown on all sides. Add wine to pot and make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan and get all the yummy cooked on bits off. Cook until wine reduces by half. Add in veggies and stir. Pour in broth and add spices. Stir to combine and reduce to medium. Let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the meat is very soft and the stew is thickened.

Perfect Polenta

I love polenta, but it needs to be creamy and smooth. I have worked on making it perfect for a while, and I am proud to say, I think I have perfected it.

4 c water

1 c dry polenta

3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 tbs heavy cream, milk, or half and half (whatever you have on hand)

Up to 2 tsp (Add by ½ tsp and taste after each addition)

Pepper to taste

A handful of good Parmesan

Boil 3 cups of the water in a medium pot. Whisk in polenta and turn down to medium heat. Once polenta begins to thicken, add another ¼ c of the remaining water and stir in quickly, allow to thicken again. Repeat until you have added the remaining cup, stirring frequently. This will help the polenta become soft and creamy. Once all the water is in and the polenta is full cooked (this should take about 20-30 minutes) stir in the garlic, cream, and salt. Season with pepper and toss in the parmesan.

Chicken With Tomato Basil Sauce

This is based on a sauce my mom makes. The Cherry tomatoes are so full of flavor, and it is a really refreshing sauce.

1 tsp olive oil

2-4 chicken breasts (one per person)

½ onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 and ½ pints cherry tomatoes

¾ c of white or red wine

A handful of fresh basil, chopped

A handful of Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high. Season chicken breast with some salt and pepper and cook on each side for about 4 minutes, until browned. Throw in onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and translucent. Add wine and stir. Cook until slightly reduced. Add tomatoes to the pan and simmer until tomatoes begin to burst. Using a fork, stab the tomatoes to pop them. Add basil then add Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over Perfect Polenta or pasta. Top with a little extra Parmesan if you want.

Heavenly Pasta

It’s part Primavera, part Carbonara and completely divine

3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces

1 small to medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces

1 small red pepper, cut into thin slices

½ cup of frozen peas

1 small zucchini, cut in half length wise and then sliced into ¼ inch pieces

1 small head broccoli, cut into small pieces

½ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

½ cup white wine

1 tbs butter

1 tbs flour

1 cup milk

2 tbs heavy cream

1 wedge of lemon for juice

A handful of basil, chopped

A handful of Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Dash of paprika

Dash of garlic powder

1 lb penne pasta, cooked and drained

Fry bacon in a large pan or skillet, until just crisp. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon, leaving the fat behind in the pan. Pour all but a tablespoon of the grease into a jar or can or however you get rid of your grease. Throw in the onions and cook for a minute, then add garlic. Cook until fragrant and translucent, but not too soft. Add the remaining veggies except peas and cook until tender crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove veggies from heat and cover to keep warm.

In a medium saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth, add the wine and cook until it thickens up. Add the cream and milk slowly while stirring. Keep over medium high heat, and stir frequently. If sauce begins to boil heavily, reduce heat some. Cook until well thickened, about 10 minutes. Squeeze in lemon juice and add in basil and Parmesan. Stir in basil and sun dried tomatoes. Sprinkle in the paprika and garlic powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the veggies and add peas. Stir together and cook until sauce begins to bubble. Crumble bacon up a bit and add. Add pasta and stir together.

*If you want a veggie version, just omit bacon and use a little olive oil to sauté the veggies.

Adapted From The Pioneer Woman's Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich

I love the PW, I check her blog often and use her recipes a lot. She great at making super yummy recipes, she is just not so great for my waistline. So when I take a recipe I do my best to skinny it up a bit. This sandwich is a man pleaser for sure, even when it is lower fat. The original recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter, mine only calls for about 3 tbs. Also, I didn’t have seasoning salt, so I just used spices… and I added garlic powder, because it’s just who I am.

3 pats of butter

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion, halved and sliced

1-2 lbs cube steaks (about a 1 steak per person)

½ tsp paprika

A couple of good grinds of salt and pepper

A dash of cayenne

A good dash of garlic powder

½ cup Worcestershire

5-10 drops hot sauce, depending on how much you like heat (she calls for Tabasco, but we only had Tapatio)

Good rolls

Melt one pat of butter and 1 tbs olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until slightly browned and mostly softened. While onions are cooking, slice the steaks, about ½ inch thick, against the grain of the steak. Season the steak with the spices. Remove onions and add another pat of butter to the pan. Put steak strips into the pan in a single layer and let brown for a minute, flip and brown again on the other side. Add the Worcestershire and hot sauce. Cook until sauce thickens a bit.

Melt a pat of butter on a skillet and place rolls cut side down. Toast until lightly browned. Turn over and heat a bit more.

Spoon meat and onions onto a roll and add some sauce. Serve with a big green salad.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And It Begins

I meant to start posting sooner, so I have a few recipes saved up. I figure I will throw them all in one post! Since I am just starting with this, I have forgotten to take a pictures of a few recipes. Total bummer because they were amazing, but I'll include the recipes anyway.

The following are some of my favorite recipes, that sadly, are among those not pictured.

My Favorite Mac 'N Cheese

1 lb pasta of choice (I like shells, but elbows, penne, or even rigatoni would work)
1/2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbs butter
1/4 c flour
1 glug of white wine
3 c milk
2 egg yolks
1 c grated Gruyere cheese
1 c grated Cheddar
3/4 c grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375

Cook pasta till al dente.

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add onion. Cook for a minute and add garlic. Cook until fragrant and the onion is translucent. Add butter and melt. Once butter is melted, slowly whisk in flower until thickened. Whisk in wine and then slowly begin to add milk. Cook until thickened. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Add to sauce and mix in quickly. Now comes the fun part! Add 3/4 c Gruyere, 3/4 c Cheddar, and 1/2 c parm and stir until melted nicely. Add a little salt and black pepper. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the sauce and stir together. Try not to eat too much, it gets better!

Pour pasta mixture into a greased pan and top with remaining cheeses. Put in oven and cook until cheesed are melty and begin to brown.

It is the best Mac 'N Cheese you will ever have!!

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 c Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 c Olive Oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs honey mustard

I like to make this in my Magic Bullet, but it can be made in a blender or food processor. If making in a Bullet or blender, simply put all ingredients into a cup and blend until thickened (about 30 seconds). If using a food processor, put all ingredients except oil in, start processor, and drizzle in oil until blended and thickened.

This is my go-to dressing. It is tangy, sweet, and perfect for any green salad. It is also perfect for Caprese salads.

My Favorite Green Salad

2 cups spring mix lettuce
1/4 c sliced red onion
1/4 c cherry tomatoes
1/2 an avocado, chunked
a handful of croutons
Balsalmic dressing to taste

Combine and salivate.

Try this: Add some cooked bacon and chicken and you have a perfect dinner salad.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 gloves garlic, sliced
1 package taco seasoning
1 c water
1 12 oz jar salsa of choice
corn tortillas
shredded cheese
Pico de Gallo
sour cream

In a slow cooker, place beef, onion, garlic, taco seasoning, water, and salsa. Stir a little to combine the liquids. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Beef will be done when it can be easily forked apart. Remove beef from cooker and shred. Using a spotted spoon, fish out the onions and mix in with beef.

If desired, put leftover cooking liquids in a sauce pan and cook until reduced by half. Add as much or as little to the beef as desired. It makes a great sauce and keeps the meat super moist.

Soften tortillas in the microwave and fill with beef. Top with lettuce, cheese, Pico, sour cream, and guacamole.

For use of the leftovers, see my Shredded Beef Taco Sandwiches below.

Here we go friends... those who made picture day :)

Shredded Beef Taco Sandwiches

1tbs olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1 avocado or leftover guacamole
Leftover taco meat
cheddar cheese
Good rolls

Heat oil over medium heat, add veggies and cook until soft. Toast rolls and cut open. Spread a tbs or two of the avocado on the roll. Top with beef, veggies, and cheese.

They are SO good!

My Minestrone

2 tbs olive oil plus more for bread
3/4 c chopped carrots
3/4 c chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 spicy italian sausages, cooked, crumbled, and drained*
1 large can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans white or cannellini beans
2 cups uncooked cabbage, chunked
salt and pepper to taste
Good french or sourdough bread
Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook till onions are translucent and carrots and celery have softened. Add sausage and stir for a minute. Add in tomatoes, broth and beans. Simmer for a minute or two. Add cabbage and cook until cabbage is softened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer until bread is done.

Slice a piece of bread per person, about 1/2 inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a layer of Parmesan. Place under broiler until cheese is browned.

Place one piece of bread in each bowl and garnish with more cheese.

Spinach Lasagna

9-12 lasagna noodles
2 1/2 c bechamel sauce (see recipe below)
1 lb ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups Mozarella cheese
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 jar of marinara sauce (or 1 and 3/4 c homemade)

Preheat oven to 375. Cook lasagna noodles for 6-8 minutes until very al dente. Meanwhile, mix ricotta, garlic, eggs, spinach, salt, pepper, 1 cup of mozarella cheese, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

In a greased casserole, spread 1/2 c bechamel and 3/4 c marinara. Top with three or four noodles, enough to cover the bottom and overlap slightly. Top with 1/3 of the spinach ricotta mixture, spreading to cover the noodles, and spread another 1/2 c of bechamel on top. Top with another 3 or 4 noodles, another 1/3 of the ricotta and 1/2 c of bechamel. Repeat one more time, for a total of 3 layers of noodles. Top with remaining bechamel and 1 cup of marinara, then sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 45 minutes until the top is bubbly and brown. YUM!

If desired, microwave any extra marinara and put on a plate and top with a serving of lasagna.

Bechamel Sauce: (this makes the lasagna creamier and yummier, bechamel is a GOOD thing!)
4 tbs butter
1/2 c flour
3 1/2 cups milk (best if warm)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsb black pepper
dash of nutmeg (do it, it is really good!)

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Slowly add milk and cook until thickened, making sure not to boil. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

The following was our New Years Eve dinner. It was all superb and moderately easy. It might not be exactly authentic, but it makes for a great dinner!


6-8 corn husks
2 cups prepared masa (or make your own according to the masa packaging)
3 lb pork shoulder
1 large can red chille sauce
1 onion, halved and sliced
3 cloved galric, minced or crushed
1/2 cup salsa
Salt and pepper to taste

Place pork, onions, and garlic in a crockpot and add chille sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours. I reccomend starting this either very early in the morning or start it right before bed. Once pork is done remove from crock and shred. Using a slotted spoon remove onions and mix with pork. Add salsa and salt and pepper. Begin soaking corn husks in enough warm water to cover them completely, soak for 15 minutes.

With heat on high, start a large pot with a steamer insert with a couple of cups of water. Remove a husk and add about 4 table spoons of masa and spread evenly in the middle, leaving about an inch on the top and bottom of husk and about a half inch on the sides. Top with 2-3 table spoons of meat. Roll the husk, keeping the filling in the husk, and folding one end. Place each tamale in the steamer, leaning them against the side, so the folded end is pointed down. making sure the water is not anywhere near the tamales. Turn down to medium high and steam for 2 hours. Make sure the water level does not dip too low. Tamales will be done when the masa and husk easily separate.

Marinated Beans and Rice

1 tbs oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
3 gloved garlic, minced or crushed
2 cans black beans, drained of excess liquid
2tbs white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp cumin

Heat oil over medium heat and add veggies. Cook until soft. Add beans and stir to combine, then add vinegar and cumin.

1 1/2 c cooked rice (white or brown if you want to be a little healthier, it is still really good!)
2 tbs chopped onion
2tbs white vinegar
2 tbs parsley

Combine ingredients. Cover and let sit in refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm up briefly in the microwave.


2 acocados, mashed
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Combine. Eat. Love.

Pico De Gallo
1 onion, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped
1/2 lime
1 glove garlic, crushed
salt to taste
small bunch cilantro, chopped... if you are into that sort of thing.

Once again, combine. Eat. Love.

Tortilla Soup

1 tbs olive oil
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large can diced tomatoes drained of excess liquid
4 cups broth
2-3 cooked chicken breasts shredded (or you can sub in any leftover carnitas from the tamales)
1 small can diced green chilies
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a soup pot. Add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes. Add onion and garlic, cook till fragrant and translucent and other veggies have begun to soften. Add tomatoes and stew for a few minutes. Add broth and chilies. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Great garnishes:
Sliced avocado, fried tortilla strips (heat about a 1/2 inch of oil in a pan, toss in strips and cook until browned, about 3 minutes, remove to a plate with paper towel and sprinkle with salt), grated cheddar, pico de gallo, sour cream, and cilantro... although you won't see cilantro or sour cream on my soup. I'm midly allergic to cilantro and sour cream just doesn't do it for me in this case.

Clam Linguine

1 lb linguine
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
1 small to medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans clam, drained and chopped, reserving about 1/4 cup of liquid
1/2 c white wine
2 tbs lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon
3/4 c heavy cream
2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Cook linguine in salted water with a little olive oil. Meanwhile, heat oil and add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent and fragrant. Add clams and reserved juice. Cook for a minute to reduce, then add wine, cream, and lemon. Cook for a few minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add parsley, salt, and pepper. Toss with pasta. Serve with Parmesan.

Holy Good Macaroons

3 cups flaked coconut
2/3 cup sugar
4 tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla
juice of one lemon wedge

Preheat oven to 325. Combine dry ingredients. Add in egg whites, vanilla, and lemon juice. Drop by tablespoon onto a greased baking sheet or silicone mat. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Makes about 18 cookies.