Tuesday, March 30, 2010

April Fools Food!!

We love April Fools Day around here - so many fun ways to make food fun!!

These 'cupcakes' are made from little meatballs with mashed sweet potatoes on top...
This 'sushi' is made out of rice krispy treats, gummy worms and fruit roll-ups...
French fries and ketchup? Breadsticks (cut down) sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with strawberry jelly. (The french fry bag is just an envelope cut to shape)
Serve it up with Jell-O in clear glasses as 'juice'
There are so many fun ideas for April Fool's Day Food - share your ideas with us!!

Lamb* Ragu with Rotini and Ricotta

I saw Rachael Ray make this and I was seriously drooling...
Since we don't eat lamb - I am going to substitute ground turkey - I'll let you know how it turns out!

Lamb* Ragu with Rotini and Ricotta
2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound ground lamb*
A pinch of ground cloves
Salt and pepper
1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated
1 onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine*
1 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes and their juice or purée
1 cup whole milk
1 pound whole wheat rigatoni or other short-cut pasta, semolina or whole wheat
1 cup fresh ricotta, fresh sheep milk ricotta, crumbled feta or ricotta salata
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, a handful, finely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons mint leaves, a small handful, finely chopped

Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add lamb and brown the meat, season with cloves, salt and pepper. When lamb is brown, add carrot, onions, garlic and rosemary. Cook 7-8 minutes to soften vegetables. Stir in tomato paste 1 minute, stir in wine a minute more, then add tomatoes and crush them with wooden spoon or potato masher. Thicken sauce a couple of minutes then stir in milk. Let simmer to thicken.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for pasta. Add salt then cook pasta to al dente. Drain and toss pasta with Ragu. Serve in shallow bowls topped with cheese to mix in as you eat. Garnish with parsley and mint*.

I am so silly! Originally, I didn't post the directions - oops - sorry!

*I used ground turkey instead of lamb and beef stock instead of white wine

Shredded Tex-Mex Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing

I found this recipe on the Food Network site - it's by Sunny Anderson - I've made it a bunch of times and it's a goodie...
Shredded Tex-Mex Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing
Butter, for preparing 8 by 8-inch glass pan
1 (8.5-ounce) box cornbread mix (recommended: Jiffy)
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 packet sazon seasoning (it tastes like taco seasoning - so you could use that as a sub)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup salsa
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, cut into strips
Creamy Lime Dressing (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8 by 8-inch glass pan with butter. Stir together the cornbread mix with the egg and milk. Evenly spread into prepared pan and bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cool completely. Mix together the beans with the sazon and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salsa with the tomatoes. When ready to serve, cut the cornbread into 1/2-inch croutons. Toss the lettuce with 3/4 cups of the dressing. In a clear trifle dish, layer the Tex-Mex Salad beginning with the black beans followed by the Monterey jack cheese, the tomato salsa mixture, the Cheddar, the dressed romaine and top with the cornbread croutons. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Creamy Lime Dressing:
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blend all the ingredients except the olive oil until smooth. While machine is running, slowly drizzle in the oil until incorporated. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Black Bean Salad

This is one of my FAVORITE FAT FREE SALADS!!! I love it!

Black Bean Salad – Guy Fieri
2 cans black beans, drained, about 30 ounces
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced green onions
1/4 cup diced pineapple
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar*
Juice of 1/2 lime
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch ground cumin

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

*I don't use sherry vinegar regularly, so I substitute it with red wine vinegar - you could even use apple cider vinegar.

Sample Menu

I know, I know, I'm late - but you can't believe how crazy busy it's been around here!

Monday Salmon Fish Tacos and Black Bean Salad
Tuesday Lamb Ragu w/ Rigatoni & Ricotta
Wednesday Grilled chicken & Classic Cheater Pasta
Thursday April Fools Food!!
Friday Date Night/Pizza Night for the kids
Saturday Shredded Tex-Mex Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing
Sunday Easter Dinner!! Honey Baked Ham, Funeral Potatoes, Megans Favorite Rolls and more!

I'll be posting these recipes soon!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

BLT Bowties

Rachael Ray has got my number this week! Her Taco Pasta Toss was a huge hit last night and when I saw her making her BLT Bowties on today's show - I just couldn't help myself!

How can you go wrong with bacon, lettuce and tomatoes? Seriously. De-lish.

BLT Pasta
EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling, plus 2 tablespoons
12 slices good quality smoky bacon, cut into half-inch dice
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
A couple of generous handfuls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
A pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 pints cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 pound bowtie pasta
4 cups arugula, a couple of bundles, coarsely chopped
1 cup basil leaves, about 20 leaves, torn or coarsely chopped

Heat a drizzle of EVOO in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add bacon and brown to crisp. Remove to plate to drain. Add Panko crumbs to the pan with the bacon drippings and toast to golden brown. Add parsley and a couple of handfuls of grated cheese. Toss to combine, turn off heat and reserve the crumbs.

Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet with tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook to soften, 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add red pepper and cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and cover pan tightly with lid. Cook, shaking occasionally, until tomatoes begin to burst, about 8 minutes. Remove cover and gently mash up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil for pasta. Salt water and cook bowties to al dente. Just before draining, add a cup of the starchy liquid to the cherry tomato sauce. Drain pasta.
Add arugula and basil to the tomato sauce, along with the reserved bacon and drained bowties. Season with black pepper and salt, and toss to combine. Garnish bowls of pasta with the seasoned crumbs and serve.

My husband went to 2 grocery stores to find arugula with no luck, so we ended up using spinach instead. Also - we used BARILLA PLUS pasta which has protein, Omega3 and Fiber!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Taco Pasta Toss

I am a big fan of Rachael Ray. I was never a fan of her '30 minute meals' tv show - but she's won me over with her talk show/food fiesta as of late.
The only thing I don't like about her recipes is when she tries to combine 2 different meals that you would never serve together into one meal. It's a weird 'thing' I have.

Today on her talk show she made Taco Pasta Toss. As I watched, I realized I had everything needed to make this dinner and so - our dinner was born...
Taco Pasta Toss
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne rigate or whole grain penne rigate pasta (I used what I had - macaroni)
1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound ground beef sirloin (I used ground turkey)
1 large onion, chopped, divided
1 large jalapeño halved, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise (eliminated b/c of the kiddos)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder, about 2 palmfuls
1 tablespoon ground coriander, about a palmful
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin, about 1/2 palmful
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 12-ounce bottle beer or cups chicken stock
2 cups shredded cheddar, Monterey jack or any Mexican semisoft cheese (cheddar)
2 small plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (sweeties - grape tomatoes)
1/4 head iceberg lettuce or 1/2 small heart romaine lettuce, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add three-quarters of the onion, the jalapeño, garlic, chili powder, coriander and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is softened, 6-7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for 1 minute then stir in the beer.
Add the sauce to the pasta and toss. Spoon into a serving dish, top with the cheese and tent with foil to melt the cheese, about 1 minute. Top with the remaining onion, the tomatoes and lettuce – just like tacos!

My kids flipped over this! Even Mr. Picky loved it. Huge hit!! The kids had it as RR intended - served over pasta - but since I am the crazy person aforementioned, instead of having it served over pasta, hubs and I had it served over a bed of romaine with our fav dressing - such an amazing taco salad!! Yum-O!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sample Menu: A day late.

Monday- Teriyaki Lime Chicken, Rice, Rolls, and Salad
Tuesday- Stuffed Shells, Garlic Bread and veggies
Wednesday- Homemade Sloppy Joes, chips and fruit
Thursday- Grilled Pork Kabobs with Green peppers and pineapple, and salad
Friday- Chicken Tacos with Cafe Rio Chicken, and Mexican Rice
Saturday- Eat out
Sunday- Roast, Mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, rolls and salad

Pineapple Teriyaki Pork Chops

This recipe also came from the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook (Page 160) and it was FANTASTIC!! So easy to make and so delicious!
Olive Oil Spray
4 (4 ounce) trimmed boneless pork loin chops
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
8 teaspoons honey teriyaki marinade and sauce (this is not simple teriyaki sauce -- I used Ken's Steakhouse Marinade & Sauce)
4 slices canned pineapple slices in juice, drained
Preheat broiler. Line a small baking sheet with foil and lighly spray the foil with olive oil. Lighly mist both sides of the chops with olive oil and season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place the chops on the baking sheet, not touching, and broil about 3" from the heat for about 2 minutes. Turn the chops and brush or spread 2 teaspoons of the teriyaki marinade evenly over the top of each. Top with pinapple slices. Broil for 3-5 minutes longer, or until pinapple and glaze brown lightly and the pork is barely pink inside. Serve Immediately. Makes FOUR servings.
Per Serving: 199 calories, 26 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 75 mg cholesterol, trace fiber, 234 mg sodium.

Marinara Sauce + Meatballs = Meatball Sandwich

These recipes all came from the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook! You can use them all separate for different meals, or put them together to make meatball sandwiches (which is what we did)!

Main Event Marinara Sauce (Page 162):
Olive Oil Spray
1 cup minced yellow or white onion
2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste (optional)

Spray a medium nonstick saucepan with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just becoming tender (they should not brown), 4-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and with a wooden spoon stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, honey, oregano, basil, and pepper flakes until well combined. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least one hour. Season with salt if needed. Makes SEVEN 1/2 cup servings.

Per Serving: 63 calories, 3 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, less than 1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 156 mg sodium.

New Favorite Meatballs (Page 87):
Olive oil spray
2 egg whites
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound 96% lean ground beef

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a large nonstick baking sheet with olive oil spray (I lined mine with foil first). In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together the egg whites, oats, and milk until well combined. Add the parsley, onion, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes and mix until combined. Mix in the beef until well combined.

Make 32 uniform meatballs, each 1 1/4" diameter (use a cookie scoop or 2 tablespoons for ease). Roll the balls with your hands and arrange, not touching, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until no longer pink inside (mine ended up baking a total of 20 minutes before they were completely done). Makes FOUR 8 meatball servings.

Per Serving: 194 Calories, 26 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 60mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 252 mg sodium.

We combined these two recipes to make the Meatball Lovers' Must-Have Family-Sized Meatball Parmesan Sub (Page 54). Use a whole wheat baguette and top with 8 meatballs and 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Top with grated reduced fat parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 395 calories, 34 g protein, 48 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 63 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 644 mg sodium

Biggest Loser Fried Chicken

For the next 2 months, my family has decided to do a "Biggest Loser" competition between all of us. So ... I've had to be careful about what I cook for dinner making sure it's healthy and low in calories! I have found some GREAT recipes that we are going to try this week .... but here is one of our new favorites:

Biggest Loser Fried Chicken (made on the show by Chef Rocco)

Serves 8
2 pounds chicken tenders

1 quart low-fat buttermilk

2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs

1 cup cornstarch

2 teaspoons paprika

1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon organic seasoning Salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

Large pinch cayenne pepper

4 egg whites, beaten to very soft peaks

Pam cooking spray or olive oil

1. Soak chicken tenders in refrigerator, in buttermilk, for 6 hours or overnight.
2. Drain and blot with paper towels to remove excess buttermilk.
3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Lay bread crumbs out on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Cool.
5. Increase oven heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Combine cornstarch, paprika, seasoning salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a large Pyrex dish - mix well.
7. Dredge drained and blotted chicken tenders in seasoned starch.
8. Next, coat dredged tenders thoroughly with beaten egg whites.
9. Last, dip tenders in toasted panko to fully coat.
10. Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet, fitted with a baking rack. Lightly spray chicken on both sides with Pam and season lightly with salt, if desired.
11. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes or until outside is crispy and chicken is just cooked through and juicy.

*** Instead of making your own panko bread crumbs ( I can never seem to find whole wheat bread crumbs at the store ) I just buy a box of panko bread crumbs and use those. It's a lot quicker to make this recipe that way.

For Eight ServingsNutrient Analysis - per serving Calories: 270Fat calories: 40Total Fat: 4gSat Fat: 1gChol: 65mgSodium: 210mgTotal Carb: 27gFiber: 2gSugars: 4gProtein: 28g

*** I found this recipe on the Biggest Loser website: http://www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser . They have a lot of great recipes on there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


One of my good friends (that just happens to live a few houses down) is moving! Boo hoo! This is relevent b/c we have talked several times in the last week about how she is trying to deplete her freezer goods before they move and how she has had to be extremely creative with meals.

Another good friend of mine told me that her goal was to spend less than $100 on groceries in a 2 week period. To be honest - I was shocked!! After thinking about it I realized that aside from our mortgage, food is our #1 expense!!! I think most people would agree.

It really got me thinking... thinking about how much money I could save if I could do that!! A darn near impossible feat (in my mind) but I really wanted to give it a try.

Since this plan has been floating around in my head for the last week or two, I have made a concious effort NOT to go to the grocery store (except for milk) for the last 7 days. I know that I will have to go to the store again to get bread - but I am limiting myself to those 2 things. Milk & bread.

Do you think you could do it??? Not just living on what you have in your pantry & fridge - but making noteworthy meals with what you have on hand - for a solid week??

This week will be a challenge at its best. It's Spring Break AND my husband will be in town all week. This means 2 things - I will be making 3 meals a day + 2 snacks a day for 7 days for 5 people (yes, when hubs is in town, he eats lunch at home or takes it with him).

Do you think you could do it??? Do you want to give it a try??? Leave a comment if you are going to try this with me - or even if you'll try this sometime soon...

We'll see how this goes - I hope to come up with some hum dingers!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bacon-ater Brussel Sprouts

My sons asked for SECONDS!

Fresh brussel sprouts, trimmed
4 strips uncooked bacon, cut up
1/2 sweet onion chopped
2 tbsp evoo
1/2 cup chicken broth (no msg!)

In large heavy weight saute' pan, brown bacon and soften onion in the evoo on medium heat.
Add sprouts and chicken broth; cover, partially. Steam for 3-4 minutes depending on size of sprouts. DO NOT OVERCOOK, taste will be bitter.

Transfer cooked sprouts to bowl covering them with the juices and bacon/onion mixture.

I served with mashed potatoes and baked herbed chicken.

Basil Pesto Pizza

This picture does not do this pizza justice. I need to take photography lessons or something!

This pizza was so yum - really how can you go wrong with any of those ingredients?
For pizza night - I wanted to switch it up a bit. I looked in the fridge to see what I had on hand and what do you know? I had the makings for an amazing pizza!

Basil Pesto Pizza
Basil Pesto (Costco or whatever your fav brand)
Pizza Dough (from scratch or store bought)
Pine nuts (toasted)
Red onions

Pat out your pizza dough. Spread pesto in an even layer (as you would marinara), salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzerella, onions and pine nuts over the pesto.

My husband and I like our tomatoes fresh and raw on top - but if you don't add your tomatoes too. Bake at 425 for 12 - 15 minutes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sample Menu 10?

Monday- Meatloaf, Lipton onion soup potatoes, salad
Tuesday- Grilled Chicken "ALL" Alfredo with veggies
Wednesday- Taco Salad with tomatillo ranch dressing
Thursday- GIRLS NIGHT OUT! Kids and Hubby fend for themselves
Friday- Lasagna, breadsticks, salad
Saturday- Veggie Chowder
Sunday- Family dinner

Sweet Jasmine Rice Update

A month ago or so we had dinner with my friend Jenny's family. She asked me to bring a side - I brought my Sweet Jasmine Rice. Her boys are 13 and 10 and are pretty picky eaters. They absolutely LOVED this rice.
She called me last night to ask for the recipe - she said her boys had been begging her to make this rice. I called her a few hours later for something else and she told me that she made the rice with Splenda instead of sugar (her hubs is trying to watch what he eats) and said "we didn't even notice the difference" she also added green onions and red and green peppers.

Don't you just love variety?? Next time I make this rice I'll def try Splenda - hmmmm... and maybe brown rice to make it even healthier!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Challah Bread

My friend and I were talking about bread and eggs. My kids are allergic to eggs and I was telling her that most of my bread recipes don't call for eggs. Then she said "oh... but there is nothing like Challah Bread" and she went on and on about it.

I had never had Challah bread and was intrigued enough to make it myself. I found the recipe online - but I tweaked it so much that the original recipe is barely there.

It turned out so delish!! I took a loaf over to my friend - she called me a few minutes later to praise my work:)
Challah Bread
3 T yeast
4 eggs
2 c warm water
½ c sugar
1 T salt
½ c vegetable oil
6 - 7 c flour

Add water, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cover and let it proof for 5-10 minutes. It will be foamy and bubbly. Add oil, eggs and half of the flour. Mix to combine, then add the rest of the flour. Mix. Knead until soft and elastic. Cover and let rise at 1 hour. Separate into 3 large pieces. Divide each piece into three more pieces. Roll into snakes and braid together. Let rise for about 1-2 hours or until almost double in size.

Brush with egg wash (1 egg + 1 T water) over bread. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until nice and golden on top.
Makes 3 loaves

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chickpea Salad with Creamy Dill Ranch Dressing

I saw this recipe on Delish - they also gave nutrition facts - 90 calories per serving 2 grams of fat and 14 grams of fiber - all that and...well...Delish!
Chickpea Salad
1 can(s) chickpeas, rinsed
3 cup(s) cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 cup(s) grape tomatoes, halved (or cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup(s) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup(s) red onion, diced
1/2 cup(s) Creamy Dill Ranch Dressing, recipe follows
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, onion, dressing and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix until coated.

Creamy Dill Ranch Dressing
1 small shallot, peeled
3/4 cup(s) nonfat cottage cheese
1/4 cup(s) reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoon(s) buttermilk powder
2 tablespoon(s) white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup(s) nonfat milk
1 tablespoon(s) fresh dill, chopped
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1/4 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper

With the food processor running, add shallot through the feed tube and process until finely chopped. Add cottage cheese, mayonnaise, buttermilk powder and vinegar. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary, about 3 minutes. Pour in milk while the processor is running. Scrape down the sides, add dill, salt and pepper and process until combined.
*I didn't have red onion, so I used yellow
**I also didn't have feta - wish I did!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sample Menu 9

This week's menu:

Sunday: Grilled steak & Char's Roasted Potatoes
Monday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Tuesday: Pesto Pizza (recipe from Martha Stewart and a new pizza dough recipe from Mario Batali *)
Wednesday: Fish Tacos and Black Bean Salad (Both by Guy Fieri *)
Thursday: Veggie Stir Fry & Sweet Jasmine Rice
Friday: Date night!! Mac n' cheese for the kiddos
Saturday: Grilled chicken & Chickpea Salad*

*Pictures and recipes to come!
** If any other authors want to join in on the "Sample Menus" send me or Krystal an email - we love variety!!


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