Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fastest Appetizers In The West

I've gotten a lot of requests for quick and easy appetizers. These are the fastest I've got - and they are ALL winners...

Jalapeno Cuties

Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Dip

and Queso Dip
There you go!!

Feta & Sundried Tomato Dip

Yes. I'm alive. I've taken quite a long break from blogging - I've been busy baking a baby in my tummy:) I've only got 4(ish) weeks to go!!

We are attending a few holiday parties and with everything going on - I want to take something super fast but delicious. I came across a super fancy version of this recipe and simplified it to suit my laziness...

Feta & Sundried Tomato Dip

2 cucumbers
8-12 ounces crumbled feta
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons finely diced sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon roughly chopped dill or oregano
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Add the feta and yogurt to a medium bowl. Mash to combine using a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well to combine. Refrigerate before serving. Serve with sliced cucumbers.

For a fancier version – check the original recipe HERE

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Feast 2011

Last year was my first year doing Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. I have to say that all the research, testing and tasting paid off BIG TIME! Both my husband and I declared it the best Thanksgiving dinner we've ever had - EVER.

The recipes last year all turned out so well that I am planning on making the same dishes this year - with a few possible additions (?) Here's the run down - click on each link to get the full recipe, review and pictures!!

Ina Garten's Sausage and Herb Stuffing
Decadent Mashed Potatoes
Isabelle's Thanksgiving Rolls
If nothing else - you have to read the section on Alton Brown's turkey. Considering I've never roasted a turkey - or anything remotely like it in my life and that it turned out beautiful, juicy, mouthwatering and down right amazing - it's a must do. Going along with the turkey tips - equally important are Bobby Flay's tips on how to carve it.
I'll post any recipes I am going to add to this years feast - but for now - ORDER YOUR TURKEY!! And get excited for the greatest meal of your life!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Soup!

I've done a terrible job blogging lately - but I have been cooking. This week things finally cooled off and there's a definite chill in the air. We are in the 50's baby! I love fall weather. We've had soup almost every night. I love how comforting soup is - especially when your nose and cheeks are chilled or when you have a nasty cold (as is the case in this house!)
Here are the soups I've made in the last 2 weeks - all tried and true and well loved!
I'm excited to try some new soup recipes as well - I'll post them soon!
NOW GO MAKE SOME SOUP!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Runnin' UTE Tailgate Chili

I've been making this chili for a few years and it's always a hit. I took it last night to a "Chili Cook Off" and it won another award!!

It's another one of those easy peasy - even your kids can do most of the work recipes (my girls are only 6 & 3!)

The ingredient list is a long one - but they are basics - you probably have all the ingredients in your house right now!!

Runnin' UTE Tailgate Chili
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 lb mild italian sausage
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, rinsed
2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed
2 15 oz cans pinto beans, rinsed
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 15 oz cans Original Rotel w juice
1 large yellow onion, diced
15 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
4 cubes beef bouillon (or the equivalent)
1/4 c chili powder
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T minced garlic
1 T dried oregano
1 t dried basil
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t paprika
3 t white sugar

In a large stock pot cook the ground beef and sausage until evenly browned. Pour all of your canned items in. Add all seasonings and stir to blend. Cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Top with sour cream and shredded cheese and serve with tortilla or frito chips!

Dinner In A Pumpkin

Every October, usually a few days before Halloween I make this recipe. The kids get so excited!!
I wasn't going to post this picture - b/c the dinner just doesn't look appetizing - BUT as my husband says "this is the best prison food I've ever had!" (because of the way it looks) but I promise it'll make up for it's terrible appearance in TASTE - and since you'll be stuffing your face with this - that's all that matters!!

Dinner In A Pumpkin
1 1/2 lbs ground sausage (hamburger or turkey)
1 onion, diced
2 T vegetable oil
2 T Soy sauce
2 T Brown sugar
1 can cream of chicken (mushroom, etc) soup
1 1/2 c cooked rice
1 can water chestnuts, diced

Cook ground sausage. Add all other ingredients together and put into a cleaned out pumpkin.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until pumpkin meat is tender and everything is warmed through.

*When you clean out your pumpkin, just get all the seeds and stringy yuck out. Leave as much flesh as possible - if you haven't eaten pumpkin before - it's good - similar to squash.
**I add whatever else I have on hand - corn, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Feel free to go crazy!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

The perfect dressing for a Wedge Salad...

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk dressing
1 c mayonnaise
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and blend until incorporated. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Wedge Salad

Oh yeah baby. This salad is SO SIMPLE and SO DELICIOUS. I recently read an article on iceberg lettuce and how it gets such a bad rap - for no good reason. I'll try to find the article and link to it soon. Anyway... the wedge - here we go...

Wedge Salad
Iceberg lettuce (1 head = 4 servings)
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 avocado, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
grape tomatoes
3 hard boiled eggs, diced
cheddar cheese, shredded
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Cut the core out of the head of lettuce. Divide head into 4 wedges. I like to drizzle the wedge with dressing before adding my toppings - so that it gets in all those bitty cracks. Add all other toppings to taste - enjoy!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

School Lunch Ideas

I taught a little class on ideas for school lunch. Nerve wracking eh? I thought I'd share my thoughts with you all!! Sorry I didn't take pictures of the samples I served - but I'll make those sandwiches again soon and take pictures then!

First Things First
Give your kids choices. What will they eat – what do they eat? Include them in the meal planning for the week. Let them explore food and encourage them to try new things before packing it in their lunch. My kids are always more open to trying something if they know what is in it – and if they’ve had a hand in making it. I always tell my kids “just try a bite – if you don’t like it – that’s fine – you don’t have to have any more” and that's it. This little sentence has gotten my kids to realize that they love things like beets and asparagus!!! I usually don't try to get them to eat that particular item for another 6 months to a year. Maybe they'll never like a certain food - but if they are willing to try different foods that's all I can ask.

Hot and Cold
Soup – use a coffee thermos cup
To keep things warm – use a heat pack
To keep things cool – use a freezer pack, frozen juice box or water bottle

Sandwich Ideas
Homemade Lunchables: English muffin, pepperonis, shredded cheese with a side of pizza sauce or marinara
Easter Ham, cheese and crackers
Cucumber and cream cheese on bagel thins
Sushi wrap – tortilla, rice, carrots, cucumber, wasabi mayo, avocado
Salad wraps
*Turkey, raspberry chipotle, cream cheese, lettuce wrapped in a tortilla
*Ham, cheese, pesto and bread

Warm or Cold Pasta
Pasta + Dressing + Veggies + protein = fast, easy lunch

My son loves BBQ Sauce. One of his fav sandwiches is whole wheat bread, ham and BBQ sauce. Not appealling to me AT ALL - but it's something he'll eat. Work around their likes and dislikes. Just because it may not be conventional doesn't mean it isn't out of bounds - right?

Dips/Spreads
This is a big one for me. Think about what your kids like. If you can find a dip that your child likes - you have the key to having them love fresh veggies or fruit for the rest of their lives. Seriously. My son is allergic to eggs, so he can't have most salad dressings. I started drizzling honey on his salads a few years ago instead of dressing and he ate it up like crazy. He is at the point now that he knows which veg he likes and will eat them with or without honey - b/c he knows he likes the vegetable - pretty amazing hu?

Mayo - tons of flavor options out there
BBQ Sauce
Ranch dressing
Salad dressing
honey
Salsa
Honey Mustard
Sweet and Sour
Hummus
Cream Cheese
Peanut Sauce
Jam/Jelly
Pesto

Sides/Snacks
Jicama
Grape Tomatoes
Small sweet peppers
Cucumbers
Carrots
Celery Sticks
Trail Mix
Bag of nuts
String Cheese
Dried Fruit

Beat The Soggy Effect
Pack bread and condiments separately OR put condiment in the middle of the sandwich –put the cheese or lettuce (pat dry) next to the bread.

Fun ideas
Cookie cutters for sandwiches or fruit and veg
Little notes – offer encouragement, give reminders, share your thoughts, show appreciation, etc.

So there you go - a few ideas - I'd love you to share your ideas too!!

*For those of you that were there - these were the samples we ate

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mexican Verano (Summer) Salad

I was at a local fav restraunt called the Flying Star Cafe the other night and saw an advertisement for this amazing salad (after I had ordered my dinner). It looked so good though that I wrote down the ingredients then and there - I knew I had to try it.

Verano means Summer and that is the perfect word to describe this salad. Crisp, refreshing, light and different. Ahhh the dog days of summer have some redeeming qualities don't they?

Mexican Verano Salad
1 c Jicama, shredded, diced or julienned
1/2 c White Cheddar, shredded
1 c Roasted Corn
3 or 4 c Romaine lettuce
1 c Grape Tomatoes
1/2 c Avocado, diced
Blue Corn tortilla strips (or chips)
*Grilled chicken
*Carrots, diced

Add all ingredients together and serve with Chipotle Honey Dijon Dressing - so delish!

*Not in the original salad

Chipotle Honey Dijon Dressing

This dressing is another new found fav!! Don't you just love that?? I found it on the 'DOLE' website. Sorry the picture isn't so great - I had a hungry family to feed!

I used 1 tsp of Chipotle Chili Pepper for this recipe and it gave it a real kick. My husband LOVED it! I'm not a huge fan of real spicy food and I liked the dressing too. I'd start with 1/2 tsp then add to your liking from there...Chipotle Honey Dijon Dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or pepper)

Whisk together all ingredients and refrigerate until ready for use. Serve on the Mexican Verano Salad.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Caramel Butter Bars

I don't post desserts often - I'm not a baker and I'm not a huge dessert fan - BUT - this dessert is worthy of blogging about.

In fact, one of my guests told me that his family rates food on a 1 - 5 stars level and he rated this dessert as a 4.5. He even asked for the recipe to take home to his wife... thanks Cookies and Cups for this awesome recipe!!

Salted Caramel Butter Bars
For the Crust:
1 lb. salted butter room temp
1 cup sugar
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs vanilla
4 cups flour

For the Filling:
1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped
1/3 cup milk or cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 T. coarse sea salt (optional)

To make the crust:
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.
Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust.
Preheat to 325F.
Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown approx 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes.
While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.
Pour the caramel filling over the crust. If you are going to salt the caramel sprinkle it on caramel layer now.
Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25 – 30 minutes.
*Let cool before cutting into squares.

*I made this dessert for guests and the bars didn't have time to completely cool before I served them - they were so stinkin' good a little warm. In fact, we had a few left the next day and I warmed them in the microwave before we ate them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Twisty Breadsticks

A while back, HERE I received a couple of Rhodes Bake N Serv cookbooks and a bunch of FREE coupons for their products because of one of the recipes I posted. So - Rhodes Bake N Serv rolls have become a staple in our house.

I was making pizza and wanted a new 'twist' on breadsticks. So I made these...Twisty Breadsticks
Rhodes Bake N Serve White Dinner Rolls (2 per twist)
Kabob Skewers (12" used here)
3 T melted butter
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t parsley
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 t garlic powder
Grated parmesan in a can

Thaw rolls according to package directions. Once thawed, knead 2 rolls together and roll out into a thin(ish) rope. Twist the dough around the kabob skewer, pinching the ends to secure them in place. Place each kabob stick over a roasting pan (or cake pan) so the wood on the kabob rests on the top of the roasting pan and the dough is suspended. Cover with plastic wrap (coated w PAM) and let rise until doubled.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes. Pull them out when lightly browned and brush with combined butter, oregano, parsley, garlic salt and garlic powder.

I also sprinkled them with shredded parm, asiago and romano cheeses (from a can) BUT - I really wish I had grated parm from a can - the powdery texture would've been perfect for these rolls.

BIG hit with the kids!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fabulous Red Wine Vinaigrette

I just can't get enough of it.

I like vinaigrette's well enough, but I usually go for the creamy dressings. This dressing - is my new favorite FOOD. I have had it on absolutely everything I can lay my hands on in the last week.

It's sweet and acidic and peppery and mouth watering and seriously to die for. It's so good - I even renamed it - adding FABULOUS to the title.Fabulous Red Wine Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup red onions, finely grated (about 1/4 of a large red onion)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt
ground pepper to taste
2 cups canola oil

Add all ingredients except oil in a blender. Blend well. While processing, slowly add the canola oil and blend well. Transfer dressing to a jar or cruet. It keeps well in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks (although I've found it gets a little thick if it is too cold so I'll pop it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to help thin it out before I use it if it has been in the refrigerator for several days).
Make it. Love it. You will thank yourself daily.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I came across this copycat version of Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits on Life as a Lofthouse - it's a great recipe. I served them to company and there were smiles all around.
CHEDDAR BAY BISCUITS
2 1/2 cups Bisquick (I used Krusteaz)
4 Tablespoons cold Butter
3/4 cup cold Whole Milk
1 Heaping cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt

TO BRUSH ON TOP:
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 teaspoon fresh Parsley, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp dried Parsley
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt

Directions: In a large bowl add the Bisquick and butter. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the mix. There should be small pieces of butter (pea size amounts) throughout the mix. Stir in the cold milk, cheese and garlic salt. With a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop 1/4 cup portions onto a large, ungreased cookie sheet. There should be enough mix for 12 biscuits.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as biscuits come out of oven, mix together the melted butter, parsley and garlic salt in a small bowl. Brush mixture over the tops of hot biscuits. Serve immediately!

Corn Off The Cob

My 6 year old got a new kids cookbook Williams Sonoma's "The Kids Cookbook" filled with recipes that clearly explain how to make recipes that any kid can make on their own - very cool.

This is the first recipe she made - we all loved it! Simple. Easy. Great way to get your kids introduced to cooking!


Corn Off The Cob
4 ears of corn
1/4 c butter
salt & pepper

1. Peel away the husk and silky threads from each ear of corn. Using both hands, snap the ears in half.
2. Place half an ear, snapped end down, on the cutting board. Hold the top so it stays upright. Starting at the top, run the knife down the length of the corn, cutting between the cob and the kernels. Rotate the cob about one-quarter turn and cut again. Repeat until the cob is completely stripped of kernels. Repeat with the other corn halves. (I helped her w this step)
3. Put the butter in a frying pan and set it over medium heat. When the butter is melted and foamy, stir in the corn kernels, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently with the wooden spoon, until the corn is bright yellow and crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Using the pot holder, remove the pan from the heat and serve the corn immediately.

*My daughter helps me cook often - but she was especially proud of herself for making a new recipe that was just her own - she is still beaming...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Popcorn, Almonds & Apricots

My son saw this 'recipe' on tv via "Ze Fronk" a cartoon dog that show kids fun snack ideas - he asked me to post it on my food blog...

...and how could I say no to this face? He gives it a 'thumbs up'Snack Time
Popcorn*
Whole Almonds
Dried Apricot pieces

Salty, sweet, filling - delicious. What else could you ask for?

*We have a "Stir Crazy" popcorn machine - it makes great popcorn. My friend has a "whirly pop" that she loves as well. Microwave popcorn will do the trick too:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I got this recipe from my friend, Stathi - who is a tremendous cook and an over the top entertainer. He throws some of the best parties I've been to. He was adamant about using ciabatta rolls - and I figured out why - the bread doesn't get too soggy!
Slow Cooked Pulled Pork
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c ketchup
1/3 c cider vinegar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c tomato paste
2 T sweet paprika
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T yellow mustard
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/4 t ground black pepper
4 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
12 soft sandwich buns or ciabatta rolls, warmed

In 4 1/2- to 6-quart slow-cooker pot, stir onion, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, paprika, Worcestershire, mustard, salt, and pepper until combined. Add pork to sauce mixture and turn to coat well with sauce.
Cover slow cooker with lid and cook pork mixture on low setting as manufacturer directs, 8 to 10 hours or until pork is very tender.
With tongs, transfer pork to large bowl. Turn setting on slow cooker to high; cover and heat sauce to boiling to thicken and reduce slightly.
While sauce boils, with 2 forks, pull pork into shreds. Return shredded pork to slow cooker and toss with sauce to combine. Cover slow cooker and heat through on high setting if necessary.
Spoon pork mixture onto bottom of sandwich buns; replace tops of buns. Serve sandwiches with pickles, potato chips, and hot sauce if you like.

*I couldn't find 'sweet paprika' so I used regular paprika instead.

Lime and Cilantro Coleslaw

A few months ago, I tried a different take on Coleslaw. It was bright and refreshing and so flavorful. It was so delicious I ate it as a side dish - and used it on my sandwiche instead of plain lettuce. Seriously good. I asked for the recipe - but am still waiting on it!! Since then, I've been trying to find something similar to add to my 4th of July menu - and I think this is the ticket!!
*Update - this was exactly what I had hoped it would be! So delicious and refreshing. I'll be eating this all summer!
Lime and Cilantro Coleslaw - Tyler Florence
1 head Savoy cabbage*
4 scallions
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, torn
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 limes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Shave the cabbage with a sharp knife or mandoline so you have thin ribbons. Cut the scallions long and on the bias so you have pieces similar in shape to the cabbage. Toss the cabbage, scallions and cilantro in a large salad bowl.
Make the dressing by combining the sour cream, mayonnaise, sugar and the zest of the limes in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

*I just grabbed a bag of coleslaw in the produce section

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July Menu

Here is my 4th of July Menu as promised!
Grilled Corn on the Cobb
Looking for more 4th inspiration? Try Ina Garten's 4th of July Cake (a real crowd pleaser), or the Red White and Blue Potato Salad - do you have any 4th favs?? Share!!

Oprah's Fav Baked Brownie

I found this recipe via Browned Eyed Baker via Pinterest. These brownies were featured on Oprah's Favorite Things...


Oprah's Fav Baked Brownie
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass or light-colored baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.

*I couldn't find espresso powder anywhere! I was told that Starbucks Instant Italian Roast blend was comparable - I'll let you know tomorrow!

Picture thanks to Brown Eyed Baker

Homestyle Baked Beans

*I promise to add pictures tomorrow!
Growing up - there were a few things my Mom made that I just couldn't get enough of. One of them was her Homestyle Baked Beans. The recipe couldn't be more simple and inexpensive - but man what a crowd pleaser...
Homestyle Baked Beans
3 cans Campbell's pork and beans
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 lb bacon
2 T brown sugar
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
In frying pan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Fry onion in bacon drippings. Add brown sugar and vinegar. Drain the beans and add to pan. Crumble bacon and add. *Cook until warmed through. Once you add the beans, don't stir too much or cook too long - they'll get mushy.
*Instead of cooking them until they are warmed through, I plan to make these and keep them warm in my crock pot before serving. I use the "Keep Warm" setting or the very lowest setting on your crock pot - the beans will be warmed through but not mushy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July Weekend!

I'm sorry I haven't been posting lately. I have a new resident in my tummy who is making me tired and craves only bland food. Yes - I'm pregnant (YAHOO!). Luckily for all of us - my first trimester is nearly over so my food cravings should kick back in gear (and maybe go a little sideways - we'll have to see).
Anyway... I wanted to let you know that I'm going to post some fun 4th of July recipes for this weekend. I found "Oprah's fav double chocolate brownie" recipe - that sounds absolutely divine. A BBQ pork sandwich recipe (made in a crock pot) and a new kicked up coleslaw salad recipe. I'm sure grilled corn, watermelon and strawberries will make it into the mix too - stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

I am going to have a few "Guest Foodie Bloggers" on in the next few weeks. First up, MY SISTER BRITTANY. She is one of those people who has immaculate taste in everything - furniture, home decor, food, clothing - everything you can think of! Her true calling is as a BAKER. Since I don't bake much, I'll have to beg her to submit a few of her go to dessert recipes soon.

This is a recipe my sister found on allrecipes.com recipe and picture submitted by Marissa Wright
Lime Chicken Soft Tacos
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
10 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 tomato, diced
*1/4 cup shredded lettuce
*1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
*1/4 cup salsa

Saute chicken in a medium saucepan over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. Add vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Simmer for an extra 10 minutes.
Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, warm, and turn over to heat the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve lime chicken mixture in warm tortillas topped with tomato, lettuce, cheese and salsa.

*My sister served these up with slices of avocado, fresh cilantro and feta. Cotija cheese would also be delish on these! Thanks B!
**I'll make sure to post a picture of my own as soon as I can!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Food Finds III

Another round of food finds! This'll be short and sweet.
First up - not really a 'food find' per se - parmesan cheese - the real deal. A hunk of it. I've been using fresh parm for a couple years now and you just can't beat it. Use your cheese slicer to shave a few pieces on any salad - or if you really want to pump up the flavor - use your vegetable slicer for a nice thick piece...
Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Granola Thins - perfect snack - soooooper delish...
Provincio Black Pepper & Blue Cheese Panne (Bread). I have to tell you that I DO NOT like Blue cheese. It's a bit too pungent for me - but this bread is perfect. It doesn't taste like Blue Cheese - but the cheese adds a richness and a depth of flavor that is hard to describe.
I find this every once in a while at Costco - when they have it I usually get 3 loaves - one to eat soon and 2 to freeze - it really is that good...
Share your food finds!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweet Broccoli Salad

I posted this recipe originally 2 1/2 years ago - but recently went to look it up and couldn't find it. So, I'm re-posting it. If you have a hard time getting your kids to eat broccoli - have them try this salad - the dressing, cheese and bacon are all kid pleasers!


Sweet Broccoli Salad
3 large Broccoli heads
1 lb Bacon, crumbled
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1 c Cheddar cheese, small cubes

Dressing
1/2 c Sugar
1 1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 Apple Cider Vinegar
1 small purple onion, diced

Combine salad dressing components. Refrigerate for 30 - 1 hour - this dressing needs time for all the flavors to meld. *If you or your kids aren't big on onions - don't add them to the dressing - just add them straight to the salad.

Cut the broccoli down into bite sized pieces. Toss with bacon, cheese and dressing - add sunflower seeds just before serving.

You can make this up to 24 hours in advance - the longer it sits the better it gets!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Layered Jicama Salad

This recipe is probably older than I am - but that just goes to show that it's tried and true - and well loved.

I wanted to make a salad that I hadn't made in a while and this one fit the bill - my kids don't remember ever having it and they RAVED. My husband and I haven't had it for a while either and we both wondered why I don't make this all the time...


Layered Jicama Salad
1 head Romaine lettuce - shredded
1 large cucumber, peeled and but into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 c celery, diced
1 medium jicama, peeled and shredded (about 2 cups)
1 small red onion, diced *I used green onions today
1 1/2 c frozen peas (run under cool water)
2 8 oz cans sliced water chestnuts, diced
1 c bacon, crumbled
2 tomatoes on the vine, diced
1/2 c parmesan cheese

Dressing
Mayonnaise
3 T Sugar
3 T Season All

Layer lettuce, cucumber, celery, jicama, onion, peas and water chestnuts.

Spread a layer of mayonnaise on top of the water chestnuts. Sprinkle with Season All and sugar. Remember you are seasoning A LOT of veg in this dish - so don't hesitate with the components of the dressing.

Chill for at least an hour. Top with bacon, tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Serve!

*I love the look of this salad in my trifle dish. You can use any bowl, or even a casserole dish to assemble this.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Feta Stuffed Burgers

Oh yeah baby - these were so delicious! They are made with only 4 ingredients and a grill - you've gotta make em this weekend!
Feta Stuffed Burgers
2 lbs ground beef (I prefer 80/20)
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
4 T crumbled Feta
1/4 - 1/3 c worcestershire sauce

Put ground beef into a large bowl, add worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your hands well. Pat out the meat into one large patty at the bottom of the bowl. Score it into 4 pieces (a little trick I learned from Rachael Ray - that way you get even sized burgers). Or 8 pieces - depending on how big you want your burgers. For these - I made 4 patties - but these were honkin'. I ended up splitting mine.

Pat out each portion into a thin patty. Use an overfull Tbsp of Feta for the big burgers or an overfull tsp for the small burgers. Squeeze the Feta in your fist making it one compacted piece. Set the Feta in the middle of half of the patties. Top Feta with a second patty and crimp the edges of the two patties together making one cohesive burger.

Grill on Medium-High heat for 7 minutes a side for the big burgers or 5 minutes a side for the small burgers.

Top with your fav burger toppings!!

Chive Butter

One of my favorite ways to make a simple ingredient like butter and turn it into a craveable must have component. Couldn't be easier.
Chive Butter
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 c diced chives (as small or as large as you want them)
1 t salt

Combine all ingredients using a spatula (or spoon) gently until incorporated. Serve on baguettes, sour dough toasts, veggies, grilled ciabatta, or Perfect Fingerling Potatoes.

Perfect Fingerling Potatoes

Sounds fancy shcmancy doesn't it? It's so easy you'll be amazed. I love to use fingerling potatoes to mix it up a bit. First, I love the way they look - the purple ones are my favorite. I wish I would've taken a picture of the inside of one of the purple potatoes - they are a brilliant amethyst color - breath taking.

I also love to use fingerling potatoes b/c you don't have to peel them or cut them and they cook really fast b/c of their size. I got this recipe from Alton Brown several years ago - he hasn't let me down yet! Give 'em a try!Perfect Fingerling Potatoes
4.5 quarts cold water
2 lbs fingerling potatoes
salt

Rinse all potatoes and add to a large (6 qt.) stock pot. Fill 3/4 of the way with water. Salt the water and turn the heat on to high. Bring to a boil and then cook for about 25 - 30 minutes - until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove from the pot to a cooling rack and let stand for 5 - 7 minutes. Serve with Chive Butter.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mediterranean Salad

My husband has been craving a Mediterranean/Greek salad for weeks. I can honestly say that I've never ordered a Med/Greek salad at a restaurant - ever. My husband, however, used to get a Med/Greek salad from a famous Mediterranean Market in our home town on a weekly basis.

A tall order to fill. Especially since (as I said) I've never actually had said salad. I'll have to say - I did a pretty good job - even my husband said he liked my salad more than the famous deli he used to order from (he may be a little biased or just trying to butter me up)...

Mediterranean Salad
3 c Romaine Lettuce
1 orange bell pepper, bite sized
1 yellow bell pepper, bite sized
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 c grape tomatoes
1 English cucumber, halved and deseeded w a spoon
Peppercini's
Kalamata Olives
Feta, crumbled
Artichoke hearts

Arrange ingredients to your liking!

I tried to make 2 different recipes I found for Greek salad dressing - and neither of them tasted good. So, I ran to the store and bought Girard's Greek Feta Vinaigrette - it was great!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asian Slaw

I saw this awesome Asian Slaw on "Guys Big Bite" with Guy Fieri. It looked so good that I immediately put it on my "to make" list.

Last night, looking for a different way to use the bag of cole slaw mix in my fridge - it dawned on me... I could make this asian slaw - only without all of the ingredients - for me - it's all about the dressing. If I like the dressing, I can make the salad with some or all of the veg components - it turned out amazing - my 6 year old was actually licking her plate clean...


Asian Slaw
1/4 c EVOO, divided
3 T minced ginger
1 T minced garlic
2 T brown sugar
5 T soy sauce
4 T white wine
1 t sesame oil
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1 c thinly sliced napa cabbage*
1/2 c thinly sliced green cabbage*
1 c julienned carrots*
1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
1/2 c thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 c thinly sliced bok choy
1/2 c bean sprouts
1/2 c julienned snap peas
1/2 c julienned green onions
15 wonton skins, fried
Peanuts, for garnish

In a small saucepan add 2 tablespoons olive oil, ginger and garlic, lightly saute until lightly brown. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, and white wine. Saute for 5 minutes and remove from heat. When cool whisk in olive oil, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.
Mix all vegetables in a bowl and toss with dressing. Garnish with crushed wontons and peanuts.

*I used a bag of Cole Slaw mix from the produce department.
**I used Chow Mein Noodles (the dry, crunchy kind) and toasted almonds b/c that's what I had!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

I have made this recipe 1000 times without the cilantro b/c of my husbands adversion to it. A few nights ago, I decided to make it by the 'book' and see if he noticed anything... he did notice. He said "you've never made this dressing before - it's delicious!" So even if you think you don't like cilantro - maybe just maybe it's time to try it again - you may change your mind too! I have listed this recipe under Cafe Rio Creamy Ranch Dressing as well - if you keep up with this blog - you may recognize it.
Cilantro Lime Dressing aka Cafe Rio Creamy Ranch Dressing
1 pkg dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, Original
1 c mayonnaise
1 c chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tomatiolls (peel off husk and wash before chunking into blender sized pieces)
1/3 c milk
1 T lime juice
1 T sugar
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes before serving.

Cafe Rio Black Beans




Cafe Rio Black Beans
2 T EVOO
2 cloves garlic, minced or pasted
1 t cumin
15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ c tomato juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, salt and pepper. Stir until heated through. Use a slotted spoon to plate.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Couple this rice with the other ingredients listed in Cafe Rio Pork Salad - or serve it as a bright side dish to any mexican feast.


Cilantro Lime Rice
1 c. uncooked rice (I use Jasmine or Basamati)
1 t butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t freshly squeezed lime juice
2 c chicken broth
1 c water
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
2 t sugar
3 t fresh chopped cilantro

In your rice machine (or saucepan) combine rice, butter, garlic, t lime juice, chicken broth and water. Cook until your ricer alerts you it’s ready – or according to package directions in your saucepan. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine remaining lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Cafe Rio Pork

This is the main component in the Cafe Rio Pork Salad - my kids also love to eat this meat on a hamburger bun topped with crispy coleslaw.


Cafe Rio Pork
5-6 lb pork roast
1 T cumin
1 c packed brown sugar
12 oz bottle La Victoria Red Taco sauce (mild)
20 oz Coca-Cola (I've also used Dr. Pepper)

Cook roast on low for 12 hours (I do overnight) in crock pot with water added half way up the roast. After 12 hours, drain water off roast and add remaining ingredients and continue cooking on low for 4 more hours. Then shred the meat and cook on Low or "Keep Warm" setting 2 more hours.

*I made this recipe many, many times using the method above. But there have been times that I didn't stick it in the crock pot the night before. In that case - I just cook it with all the ingredients (no water) on HIGH for 6 hours and then check it - then turn it down when it's tender enough to shred. Shred it, put it back in the juice and keep it at low or keep warm until you're ready to eat.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Cafe Rio Pork Salad was the first recipe I posted on this blog over 2 years ago. I also posted recipes for the famous Cafe Rio Pork in the salad Cilantro Lime Rice, Black Beans, and Cilantro Lime Dressing. BUT - I posted them all mixed up - so that it wasn't obvious that all of those ingredients together make the Ultimate Sweet Pork Salad aka Cafe Rio Pork Salad. I have now remedied that:)

Cafe Rio restraunt is in only a few western states - but everyone in the world must try this salad - it really is that good.

This is the end game - so I'll go ahead and tell you how to assemble this bad boy.
1. Nice fresh tortilla warmed on a dry skillet on the bottom of the plate
2. Thin layer of the Cilantro Lime Rice
3. Thin layer of the Black Beans
4. Layer of the Sweet Pork
5. Layer of the romain lettuce
6. Spinkling of pico de gallo
7. Dollup of both guacamole and sour scream
8. Sprinkled with cojito cheese* and tortilla strips.

The perfect salad.

*Cojito cheese can easily be found at your supermarket - it will be in with the specialty cheeses. I have seen people mention that parmesan cheese can be substituted for cojito cheese (I assume b/c they look similar) but I disagree. Cojito has it's own distinct mild flavor and texture.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Grilled Watermelon Salad

Watermelon has been a great deal at my grocery store lately - and we've been eating it by the pound. I saw this interesting take on a watermelon salad. I have to say that I'm not a fan of arugula - it has a very zesty, bold, bite to it and needs to be paired perfectly - I'll have to say arugula is a great compliment to this dish.
I made this for me - but my husband ended up eating just as much of this as I did! We both remarked that it was very good - but very different - surprisingly different - in a good way. Try it and let me know what you think...

Grilled Watermelon Salad
1/2 (5-pound) seedless watermelon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
EVOO
Salt & Pepper
2 cups fresh baby arugula, washed and dried
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled*

Stand the watermelon half cut side down on a cutting board and slice away the rind, leaving a solid block of melon. Turn the block on its side and cut it into 8 squares, roughly 3 by 3 inches and 1-inch thick.
Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to a thick syrup consistency. Set aside.
Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle just enough olive oil over watermelon slices to thinly coat and place on hot grill pan. Grill each side about 2 minutes until grill marks appear; transfer to a plate and season with salt.
To assemble the salads, put about 1/4 cup of baby arugula on a serving plate, followed by a grilled slice of watermelon in the center, and top with a tablespoon of crumbled cheese and another 1/4 cup arugula. Add another watermelon slice and another tablespoon of cheese. Finish each salad with a very light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic syrup. Dust with black pepper and serve immediately.

The bite of the arugula, the crispness of the watermelon, the creaminess of the feta (or goat cheese) and the sweetness of the balsamic reduction are an incredible mix. You may fall in love at first bite like I did - or it may take you 2 or 3 bites to find your groove - but it is definetly worth a try - especially with all the watermelon we consume this time of year:)

*I didn't have goat cheese on hand - but I did have crumbled Feta in the fridge - which I have to say was a great stand in.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tortilla & Black Bean Pie

This is a very easy, flavorful, vegetarian dish. My kids all loved it - asked for seconds and then asked me today if we could have it again for dinner tonight!


Tortilla & Black Bean Pie
4 flour tortillas 10"
1 T oil
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced (deveined and deseeded)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t ground cumin
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c water or stock
1 1/2 c frozen corn (I LOVE Bybee foods Organic sweet corn, Costco)
4 scallions, thinly sliced - plus more for garnish
2 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a paring knife to trim the tortillas to fit a 9" springform pan - use the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, garlic and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened - 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beans and the stock to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated - 10 minutes. Stir in the corn and scallions and remove from the heat. Spray bottom of pan with PAM. Fit a trimmed tortilla in the bottom of the pan. Layer 1/4 of the bean mixture and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat 3 times, using 1 cup cheese on the top layer.

Bake for about 20 minutes - or until the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

*I only had a 8" pie pan on hand - so I only got 2 layers. I divided the pie into 4 (me + 3 kiddos). When I make this again, I will either buy a 9" spring form - or make two 8" pie tins - to make sure there is plenty to go around.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shrimp Scampi

This is Ina Garten's recipe for Shrimp Scampi - it is SO AMAZING.
I literally made this stunner in less than 15 minutes - what else could you ask for? I served it with my go to baguettes referenced HERE... When I started my water, I turned on my oven to 400. The baguettes take about 10 minutes - so everything is done at the same time! Plus, those baguettes are perfect for mopping up that delicious sauce.
Ina Garten's Shrimp Scampi
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
3/4 pound linguine
3 T unsalted butter
2 1/2 T good olive oil
1 1/2 T minced garlic
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 t hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jalapeno Cuties

Don't shy away from these because you think they will be too spicy. I do not like spicy food. The way to ensure that the spice factor doesn't blow your mouth out is to deseed and devein them. Of course, if you like it hot - feel free to leave them in according to your pallet.

Jalapeno Cuties

Jalapenos sliced in half (lengthwise) deseeded and deveined
Crumbled feta cheese
Honey

Spoon feta into the jalapeno 'boats'. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. The feta won't melt - in fact, as you can see in the picture above, the feta will retain its shape. But, when you bite into it, it will be nice and creamy.

I like a little 'bite' to my jalapeno - so 20 minutes was perfect - I just tested it with a fork.

Pull out of the oven, plate and drizzle honey on top.

The bite and little spice of the jalapeno, the creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the honey make this easy appetizer on you've gotta try!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Asian Noodle Salad

This is a recipe I got from Jamie Oliver. He is such a fantastic chef and has such an amazing culinary point of view. I watched the 1st season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last year and (although it is on hiatus until June) have watched every episode from season 2. I can't wait to see how the season ends. If you haven't already, please link HERE and sign his petition that states "I support the Food Revolution. America's kids need better foods at school and better health prospects. We need to keep cooking skills alive." There are also links to watch episodes, recipes, and to get involved in your community.

My husband went on a hard core 4 hour mountain bike ride and was star-ving when he walked through the door. He said "I feel like a BIG STEAK and a baked potato for dinner" when I informed him that dinner was ready and sitting in the fridge, he looked a bit disappointed - but the great guy that he is - sounded positive and thanked me for making a great dinner (when he didn't even know what was for dinner yet).

I plated this nutritious, healthy, veg filled delightfulness for all of us and we sat down to eat. Huband's comments were "this is so good" "this is so refreshing" "this really hit the spot" and the kids loved it too.

Delicious, filling AND vegetarian too!



Asian Noodle Salad - Jamie Oliver
16 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions, rinsed & cooled*
½ head Sliced Napa Cabbage
½ head Sliced Purple Cabbage
½ bag Baby Spinach
Red Bell Pepper, bite sized
Yellow Bell Pepper, bite sized
Orange Bell Pepper, bite sized
1 bag/can (drained and rinsed) bean sprouts
Cilantro, chopped to taste**
1 bunch green onions, sliced
3 cucumbers sliced
Cashews, lightly toasted***

Dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
8 T EVOO
8 T Soy Sauce
2 T Sesame Oil
⅓ c Brown Sugar
3 T Fresh Ginger****
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Jalapenos, seeded, de-ribbed and minced

Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on a platter.

I only mentioned my husbands predisposition and comments b/c they just kept coming. He probably thanked me for dinner (average 3 x a night) 10 times. Not like - "thanks for dinner." Like - pulled me aside (several times), kissed me and thanked me for making dinner. This recipe was very, very different than the tastes we usually have for dinner - but it was so delicious and different - it was really a refreshing change.

*I used/love Barilla PLUS Multigrain Pasta with Omega 3 – or you could use whole wheat pasta as well
**Hubs has a serious aversion to cilantro – so I omitted it tonight
***I didn’t have cashews on hand so I used sliced almonds instead
****Hubs & I have an aversion to ginger – also omitted tonight

I actually cut this recipe in half and it was still A TON OF FOOD! I could def get a dinner and a lunch for the fam out of 1/2 this recipe.

Herb Garden

I planted my herb garden this weekend! I've had one for the last 3 summers - but the previous 2 summers herbs and veg were planted in whiskey barrels - which are a much safer bet than these plastic containers, but having fresh herbs right in my back yard is so amazing, I thought I'd give these a try...
Sweet Basil. I. Love. Basil. He's looking a bit sad - but I hope he'll perk up in a few days once his roots have a little time to stretch...
This is going to be the first year I've planted cilantro - my husband has a serious aversion to cilantro, but it has been in a few things lately that he has liked - so I'm going to give it a go...
fernleaf dill - ahh dill. So great for dips and fish.
Rosemary. For the last couple years, my rosemary bush was HUGE! Hope this one is just as strong...
...and although tomatoes aren't herbs, I am going to give these a try too...
You can do this too! I suggest whiskey barrels or planting right in the ground. Living here in the extreme desert, the ground is not a good idea and since I no longer have my whiskey barrels - I got these - at Wal-Mart. 10" plastic planters for $8 each. They come in a bunch of fun colors. Since I'm taking a chance on this plastic, I chose to plant only a few herbs. Each little potted herb (they come at the size seen here) for $3 each. The tomatoes came at this size as well and already in a 10" pot - that cost me $10.
Hopefully all goes well and I'll have mounds of fresh herbs in my garden in no time! My girls and I had such a great time planting together. They always love to check on their progress and help out watering and caring for them. Their favorite thing to do is be sent into the back yard to retreive fresh herbs. Even my 3 year old knows what each of the herbs smell like! When we use fresh herbs from our garden - my girls love to tell Daddy why dinner tastes so good... "Dad - can you taste the basil? I picked it fresh from our garden..." and that, my friends, gives me a big ol' smile every. single. time.
Do you have any gardening tips, tricks, suggestions, adventures??

Friday, May 13, 2011

BASICS: Cutting On A Bias

Do you know why you cut veggies or protein on a bias? Well, because it looks pretty - but more importantly - it is so more surface area is exposed to the heat source.
When I cut on the bias, I also like to cut the protein or veg fairly thin - that way with all the surface area exposed it cooks faster as well!!
*Pic borrowed from the internet

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pasta Primavera

Yum yum yummers.

Something I recently learned - it is best to use the smaller sized squash and zucchini when you sautee b/c there are few to no seeds. True.

I am going to list the veggies I used tonight - but as always - the possibilities are endless...

*One tip to keep in mind. Vegetables sautee at different rates b/c of their density/structure. So, I sautee my veggies in small groups. Sautee like veggies with like veggies. I did 4 batches - garlic and onion, carrots and asparagus, squash and zucchini, broccoli and bell pepper - that way all your veg is cooked to perfection.

Also, for some reason I always make dinner like I am cooking for an army. This meal would feed 6-8 as a stand alone dinner (no sides). All veg cut into bite sized pieces.

Pasta Primavera
3 zucchini
2 yellow squash
3 carrots
1 red bell pepper
broccoli
1 red onion, diced
2 t minced garlic (the stuff in the jar at the grocery store)
1 bunch asparagus
12 oz pasta
Butter
EVOO
Alfredo Sauce
2 T Basil
1 T Oregano
1 t parsley

Slice and dice your veggies. Set your water to boil for the pasta.

Sautee the veggies in EVOO and butter *see note above. Use a 1 to 1 ratio. Each time you sautee veg to your liking, pour them into a big bowl - and start with the next batch.

As soon as your water comes to a boil - cook pasta according to package directions. Start your alfredo sauce while the pasta is cooking.

Add drained pasta to your bowl of sauteed veggies. Pour alfredo sauce over pasta and veggies. Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

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