Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pass MORE of the pumpkin please!

    This recipe I confess is apparently a repeat...I just searched my archive and saw it way back at the beginning. However, it is so very good that it is definitely deserving of another print, especially as it is so very fitting to the season. Without any further adieu, my most favorite and might I add ever popular pumpkin pie recipe. It is crustless (save on the carbs, heaven knows we all need that over the holidays!) and even the most determined self proclaimed pumpkin pie haters have been converted to the way of the crustless pumpkin pie...




     Mom’s Famous Crustless Pumpkin Pie


1 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
4 Tbsp butter softened
2 13 oz. can evaporated milk
1 tsp salt
1 c. Bisquick Baking Mix
2 15 oz. cans Pumpkin (or the equivalent of 4 c. fresh or 1 large 29 oz can )
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350^, spray 4  9” pie plates evenly with a light coat of cooking spray. Beat all ingredients in a large bowl till smooth. Once pie plates are evenly filled, bake until golden brown and an inserted knife comes out clean, about 50 min - 1hr depending on your oven. Let set for 10 min or so. Serve with homemade whip cream or vanilla ice cream. 


P.S. This recipe can easily be cut in half for only 2 pies. We go through ‘em like crazy though, so I always make up the whole batch. Also makes a GREAT quick breakfast. You do the math, the ingredients are no more “sugary” etc than breakfast cereal, and kids LOVE it! Serve with milk instead of ice cream and your kids just may sing to you the favorite...Bill Cosby style... morning music of    “Mom is great, gives us...Pumpkin Pie!"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life IS Peachy

    Where do I even begin?! Sad but true that it has been so long since I have recorded the chaos/life experiences/joys of cooking for all of you to glean from. And so much has happened too! We had our first crop of peaches this year, and I got the pleasure of staying on my feet for 3+ hours learning to can at my uncle’s house (who by the way lives within 5 miles from me, maybe this is something standard for the rest of the world but for ME, never in my life have I lived so close to family). Anyway, I was still pregnant at the time and hoping very much that the hard work would in fact “work” on expelling my little attachment, but to no avail.
     SO the peaches were not only delicious, but quite abundant as we had close to 35 bottles of jam and 15+ large bottles of actual peaches. Amazing and quite satisfying as I filled the pantry once the job was completed. Within a few short days, we had a family come to live with us (my counterpart actually to this blog, but between the two of us she has been so busy as well she hasn’t been on yet!) She made good use of our basement for 6+ weeks with her three little boys, and let me tell you life was a joy and complete chaos all rolled into one! Once she was here and settled, my mother in law came out and I proceeded to try just about everything under the sun to see if we could have this little baby, as I was dying to find out who and what it was. Well lets just say about 3 false labors, tons of primrose oil, walks, and yes the dreaded castor oil later, I was in labor!
    The long and short of it...about 8 hours of walking and moaning (and crying) later, we were the proud parents of boy #4! Yes! Eli Michael joined our ranks (all naturally might I add, meaning no drugs at least until after the delivery!) and we are so very happy to have him here. The boys have taken to him like he should have been and was in fact here the whole time! We love it, and have loved the weeks with our dear friends before they moved on to Washington. I will soon be adding pictures of the 7 of them (all 5 up to the counter at meal times) so that you can get a glimpse into what life was like around here for that time! We loved it, and we were grateful for the help during a crazy run in with a contractor that did not finish his work (whom we will now have to sue for running out on our job only half way through it and 3 weeks over due) on our house. So, needless to say, life IS peachy. We have been blessed with a healthy boy again, and I am hoping to eek out a few meager moments a day to contribute yet again to my rantings on the constant daily grind of food preparation, and feeble attempts to design healthy and quick meals for a family... now comprised... of 6! 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don’t let the Goat Cheese get Ya...

     That’s right! Don’t let it intimidate you either! At approx. half the calories and fat for just the regular goat cheese too (try 80 calories and 5 g fat per 1 oz. vs. 80 FAT calories and 9-10 g fat per 1 oz. of oh so yummy cheddar cheese) this is quite a delicious treat to add flavor variety to all sorts of dishes. Today’s special? Farmer’s Market tomatoes served up Caprese style. At least that was what they called it in the restaurant, so I will make my version the with the same name too. Ultimate fav about this one? Not only is it so rediculously easy, but a major crowd pleaser, can double as just a side dish vs. appetizer, AND it tastes GREAT too.  Check out the bottom for another quick summer lovin’ but no oven “dish” perfect from those extra summer peaches you may not know what to do with too...


     Tomato and Goat Cheese Caprese

1 large heirloom tomato
2-3 sprigs basil, torn
1-2 tbsp goat cheese crumbles
5-8 pitted Kalamata olives
olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper for drizzling

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a platter, sprinkle torn basil, goat cheese crumbles, and olives. Drizzle olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and POOF, you are DONE!

     Grilled Peaches

2-4 peaches sliced in half and pitted
olive oil
balsamic vinegar if desired

Rub the peaches in oil, grill on a hot BBQ for 3-5 min. per side (make sure not to char ;o)
Serve with an extra splash of balsamic if desired.
PERFECT for a BBQ dinner one night, or as dessert with a little beat of cheese or cream to end an oh so good meal.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jamaican Me Crazy Sweet Potatoes

     This dish is dedicated to my kids...mostly because they do make me crazy, but the contents of this meal pretty much rock in my book and are a little like my kids. Spicy, zippy, sweet, colorful, and the perfect blend of what really makes a dish de-lish. It can even totally pull off a summer or a winter dinner fix. I got the idea from the restaurant Claim Jumpers that I used to go to in Vegas with the hubs back when we had more money and were trying to wooo (sp?) each other. Then I found a version I liked on the internet, and altered it to my specs. Basically it is a baked sweet potato slathered in a sort of jamaican style jerk seasoned chicken and topped with some super yum mango salsa and a little drizzle of honey. You bet your boots it is too good to be true. And for all of you that just may be bored with what else to do for dinner, this one def. qualifies as a winner, and super easy meal that is even kid friendly (we just skip the spicy salsa and viola!)

     Check it...http://whiskedawaycooking.blogspot.com (also another great site for some fun recipes and cute stories of cooking in the kitchen)

Important Note; I will re-type below for the “just in case purposes”. Also, she calls for Papaya, I used mango since I have a ton from the farmers co-op here. I also did not use as much onion, basically cut it to 1/4 of an onion plus a small shallot because I HEART them...also used half a red pepper and a whole fresh jalepeno for serious kick. Adjust your amounts to fit your needs though and maybe even prepare earlier to sit for a few hours! I did at lunch while kids were eating (also letting the chicken marinate) so dinner was a snap once I threw it together. Love it.






Jamaican Sweet Potato

2 sweet potatoes (try to get the kind with orange flesh--they might technically be yams), baked until the skins are crisp and the flesh is tender (poke holes in the potatoes, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt, cook directly on oven rack)

1 small white onion, diced (or 1/4 plus a shallot)
1 red bell pepper, diced (or 1/2)
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
1 fat clove garlic (or two small), minced
8 slices jarred jalapeno, minced (or one fresh one diced)
1 papaya (~1 lb), diced (or one mango)
2 tbsp lime juice (used 1 whole lime)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
(mix all these together, refrigerate until needed)

2 6-oz chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried chives
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
(mix all spices together, coat chicken pieces w/extra virgin olive oil then the spice mixture, you can let marinate til ready to use, then cook chicken in skillet w/a little more olive oil)

butter
honey
green onions

To assemble:
When potatoes are done, cut them open and add about 1 tbsp butter (optional); top with salsa and chicken; add green onions; drizzle with honey

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Fab Find of the Week

     Actually, this isn’t even my find at all, once again my nutrition oriented mother-in-law health guru sent this on to me. And I wasn’t even going to watch it...but I did. Perhaps out of shear boredom, or curiosity! Either way, I am sooo glad that I took those precious 4 and 1/2 minutes out of my day to be reminded of why health and nutrition is so important to me (tiny overtones of sarcasm here). Obviously I am not fully committed like the folks in this little clip, maybe I should be though as I did have a scare or two with some of the gestational diabetes tests that were required at one point in this pregnancy. I felt a little fire ignite again my passion for helping people, showing them a different way to eat and live healthy doing it. Enough passion that maybe I will forgo second helpings at dinner, or that leftover double chocolate brownie in the freezer I couldn’t help but notice today when I was scanning the frozen shelves for some miraculous meal idea to hit me. And maybe it will inspire you too. Tell me your foodie thoughts...is it a crock? Can this type of an eating reality be reached? Lend me your words, and maybe we’ll experiment together...

foodmatters.tv Reverse Diabetes in 30 Days

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today’s Crave...

     Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yup, and I am pretty sure they are not exactly considered healthy. Oh well, they sure are yummy! So yummy in fact, I have eaten almost all the leftovers today. And this is not even counting all the batter I ate when I made them. That’s ok, because tomorrow you will get to hear all about Kefir, and maybe some delicious chinese food creations soon as I will be picking up my food co-op basket this weekend too. More yum to come!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Purify and Simplify

      This is my message of the week. Why? Because I am constantly reminded of the importance of these two little verbs in my life. The hubs was supposed to leave for a month of training yesterday (yeah I am due in less than 6 weeks) but due to some unforeseen events (he didn’t pass a test first) he will be delayed in attending this particular class. Good to be home for the next few weeks, but def. some re-adjusting to be done!    

     And then there are my kiddos. As much as health is an important part of my life, so is sanity. And finances! Most of us can’t afford hundreds of dollars a week on organic snacks or all natural soaps, cleaners, and other products, and even much organic produce for that matter...(well maybe you can, but I know that I can’t!) SO, the point of all this contemplative reflection is this. What is most important to you? Where can you afford to make some allowances, and where is it that you just cannot budge? This is my motto for each day. I approach everything from what needs to be done around the house, to what I can squeeze in by way of activities to what we are going to eat for lunch. This is my recipe for mental health. We eat as clean (meaning little to NO preservatives, corn syrup, MSG that sort of thing) and as simple as possible. So what if I may not be able to buy perfectly fun and delicious snacks all the time. If I have fresh fruit and hormone free all natural milk around, there are at least 10 different things I can provide my kids with that is nutritious (and yummy too!) So what if my floors are not always sparkling and shiny, my kitchen and dishes most of the time will be! Maybe laundry isn’t always put away, but it is washed regularly and you can find clean clothes in any number of places if you look hard enough. I do try to keep things clutter free though, and leave my living room and family areas warm and inviting. It is all about what works for you, what is best for you, and then don’t worry about anything else!
     And when I say leave the rest, don’t beat yourself up about it either! Kinda funny for a food blog I guess, but to me so much of this overlaps each other. I mean, how many eating disorders and other controlling behaviors or tendencies surround the obsession with and inability to maintain a healthy relationship with food? Make it simple for yourselves; decide today what is best and leave the rest. Then you can take the time saved over worrying or going to long lengths for that perfect healthy meal and savor it. Sit back and drink up the delicious ice cold glass of lemonade that you whipped up from the lemons life has given you. You won’t regret it, your family, your mind, and your taste buds will thank you too!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to make any green smoothie yummy

     Hi there and welcome to tip #82907. Seriously though, when my mother in law tried this little trick on me, I not only thought she was joking but turned up my nose. To my pleasant surprise she was right about getting some super green veggies in a shake, and I even learned a thing or two (after experimenting with new versions of super green smoothies all week) about how to make just about any combo of fruit and vegg taste good when pureed together to form some little punch of compact nutrition. Check it out...

One Version of the Super Green Shake

1 1/2-2 c leftover green salad from dinner (yes, cucumbers, tomatoes, even a little red onion doesn’t hurt!)
1 banana
1 apple (pear is a sweet substitute too!)
large handful any variety frozen fruit (my current fave is Costco’s smoothie mix complete with peaches, strawberries, melon and blueberries)
1/2 c. vanilla lowfat natural yogurt (try Mountain High Vanilla Lowfat Yogurt, mostly natural sweeteners and no RBST hormones. Super yum too!)
1/4-1/2 c juice or water depending on ingredients. (The little cans of pineapple juice are a cheap and yummy way add pineapple to a morning smoothie, especially one that might have onion etc in it, orange juice is great too)
Puree the heck out of all the above ingredients. Even the kids will love it! Makes over 4 c at our house which is enough for the 3 kiddos and me and the hubs.


The real beauty of this is how flexible it is. Don’t have frozen fruit? Add ice and a half can of peaches, or some leftover strawberries. No leftover salad? Try with handfuls of spinach, spinach and kale, even spinach and raw zucchini or squash. The key is the banana, and in my opinion the yogurt. You can use a little milk if that is all you have, make sure you use juice for the sweetner if you do though. The frozen fruit or ice goes a long way to chill and help with palatability. Experiment a little on your own and find your personal fave. Drop me a line if you do, tell me how it passes the kid test (mine think green drinks and funny colors are cool luckily!)
Truly, this is a perfect start to your day! Add a piece of multi-grain toast (or in my case 2 bowls of cereal!) and you are good to go. Enjoy! (And thanks mom for making me a believer!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick Summer Orzo Pasta

     Or maybe even fall, winter, or spring pasta. The point here is it is easy, light and feels like a pasta dish perfect for summer. Whatever the season, try this little number on for size and see how it fares at your table!

     Quick Summer Orzo Pasta

1/2 of a 1 lb. box of orzo
2 14 oz cans chicken broth or 3 c water and 2 heaping tsp chicken bouillon
1 scallion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and popped (use your knife and press the blade horizontally with your palm to “pop” the garlic without cutting it up)
3 tbsp pine nuts sauteed till lightly browned and fragrant
2-3 large handfuls washed and finely chopped spinach
1 large handful cherry tomatoes halved or left in tact if small
olive oil and butter to coat the pan
parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper to top

Bring the broth or water and bouillon to boil (you may only need about 3c. of the cans, reserve extra or set aside incase more needed for orzo) Add orzo and follow directions on package for cooking times.
Meanwhile, brown your pine nuts. Set aside. Bring olive oil and butter to melt and lightly bubble in a 12 inch or larger saute pan. Add diced scallions and garlic cloves. Cook for 1-2 minutes till lightly browned. Add cherry tomatoes. Saute a little longer with spinach till wilted. Remove from heat, add orzo when done...(if there is too much extra broth, drain it. Otherwise a little wet adds to the “sauce” in the dish) Stir slightly to incorporate vegg. Add pine nuts, Serve with fresh cracked pepper and a little parmesan cheese if desired. Delish!

Monday, August 9, 2010

P.S. spray paint will kill your grass

That’s right kids, in case you didn’t know, even a tarp is not enough to prevent such a foul occurrence. How do I know this? Because I have spent the last 6 weeks 3 hours and 27 minutes working on just about every single type of house project under the sun. From refinishing kitchen cabinets to hanging new bathroom hardware to simple decorating projects, and even clean up recovery from redesigned fireplaces. Brings “It’s all in the wrist” to a new level doesn’t it?
     For a while there, I didn’t even have any exciting news to put on my blog. Well, not exciting related to the food department anyways. Each day has honestly been filled with such interesting little tidbits of random discoveries and information (all related to house remodeling and cleanup), that I guess I decided not to bore you with such trivialities. I mean, this is not a home renovation blog anyway right? Well, as much as I would like to stay away from the dark side of home remodeling and moving in my personal posts on life and home, family, and food, it is still rather related don’t you think? Point being, I may bore you a time or two with some photos of my re-vamped kitchen. Maybe even a quick how to on some casual decor project, but I promise that will be all! Here’s to re-subjecting my readers to more delicious culinary creations, the ever present home cooked family meal, and my newest healthy discovery of the week. Hold on to your seats. The hubs is going to be gone for a month right before this baby is due and things are bound to get fascinating, at best!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hitting the Road!

     Ya would have thought I just did this a couple of months ago...oh wait, I did! That’s ok, because this time, it should be like 3+ years permanent. Woot! That is why I am not on enough right now to compile an actual good food read. Give it another week or two and we’ll see what we come up with!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Even More Busy Days to Come

     It is already tuesday, can you believe it? And we now have no couch. I know, that is a random little piece of information. It just adds to the overall reality of what life is really like right now trying to move for the upteenth time. Meals at our house right now are definitely back to the home cooked staples that get you through the crazy times. In other words, nothing new and no new experiments (which the kids and I am sure hubby are grateful for) but isn’t that what makes a family so great? Think back on all your own years of eating in someone else’s home and lets take a trip down memory lane. Post a favorite food or quick recipe from your youth that reminds you of family get togethers, holidays, or even just summer... (to fit the season we are in). 
     Mine? Fruit salad. It was always a special treat (honestly) to afford all the different fruit that goes into making a really good one. We would do it for dessert every once in a while, or if we were really lucky, breakfast with some amazing homemade bread, muffins, or even cinnamon rolls. Can’t beat that even if you tried, in my opinion. The best way to serve it? A sweet splash of fresh lemon and tablespoon of sugar to really get those sugars going. Or better yet, some whip cream. Try it tonight, and feel free to share your favorites this week!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Another Busy Day

     And not too many successful recipes either unfortunately! At the very least, they were filling and semi-nutritious...but I will have to work on some flavor kinks (a chicken spaghetti pie that didn’t turn out as fabulous as I thought, and a simple bean chili to top a potato saute, which was good but relatively boring....) Anyhow. Life goes on. Yesterday being a most productive day, in terms of finding plenty of busy activities for the kids to spare my sanity, ended in a most eventful and surprising way. I thought I would share because, well, you have to laugh so you don’t cry right?!  
So, in case you can’t tell the details here....my middle son had to fall asleep on our bed since they (meaning my two oldest boys) were playing so much at bedtime. Apparently there was a brand new bottle of baby powder in close vicinity to him while he was settling down and....well...you get the picture! Let’s just say that the entire bedroom was covered! He came up looking like a little white snowflake...and some of the bedding (including his jammies) would just not recover with out being taken off and washed! I love it. We even filmed it, just so we wouldn’t "take it out" on him...
he was just curious right?! 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sorry for the delay

     So blogger has been down the last 24 hrs. Sorry for the delay. Between the craziness of adding a new writing pal, an apparent allergy to olives (yes my youngest... olives + allergy=an enormous potty mess at naptime, don’t ask!) and a few other snags, I am behind. But no surprise there! At least I got a new posting up, and soon enough there will be more to come....

An Announcement

     I am so excited to share this with ya’ll (see, Texas is rubbing off a little!) After weeks of toiling over the idea, and much procrastination on ours parts (trying to get time to talk in between all our rugrats can be hard...) I have decided to take on another writer. Yup. My dear friend..... Jessica Ramirez will be joining our blog reel of fantastically superfluous stories of home life, the joys of raising lots of little boys (she is due with boy #3 in 6 weeks and the oldest is only just turning 3 as well!)  and trial and error cooking feats sure to continue to tantalize your taste buds, and tickle your funny bone all in one complete and delicious family style dish. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another Glorious Avocado Recipe

     And it is paired again with chocolate too! One can NEVER loose there... This is also a recipe I had found some time ago while researching for that healthy baking class I held. The cupcakes are absolutely delish believe it or not. Quite moist and light even (but rich if that isn't too much of a contradiction) ANYWAY... enjoy! Also, check out Jessica Seinfeld's Book, Decepetively Delicious (Deceptively Delicious on Amazon) for another fun version of Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes. This is the one I just love to use and re-use though!

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes
(from the Sept. 08 Vegetarian Times)

Cupcake;

1 ½ c. white wheat flour
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. Baking Pwdr.
¾ tsp. Baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1 avocado pitted and peeled
1 c. pure maple syrup
¾ c. plain soymilk
1/3 c. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla

Glaze;

¼ block soft silken tofu (from 14oz container) drained and patted dry
3 Tbs. pure maple syrup
½ tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
4 oz. semisweet chocolate melted


Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking pwdr., baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Puree avocado in food processor until smooth. Add maple syrup, soymilk, oil, and vanilla, blend until creamy. Whisk avocado mixture into flour mixture. Spoon into prepared cupcake pan (w/liners works better) and bake ≈20 min. until toothpick comes out w/few crumbs. To make the Glaze, blend tofu, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in food processor until smooth. Add chocolate to tofu mixture. Transfer to a bowl and dip cupcake tops after cooling.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

AVOCADOS

     And what is not to love about them? If you are not one of those green California mild fruit lovers, then I am determined to find atleast 1 recipe that would appeal to you. After all, according to http://www.allaboutavocados.com/ they are not only loaded with nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, and folate, they even contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas and are high in rich oil content, namely vitamin E. One last important note, if you are on the mediterranean diet... otherwise known as flat belly diet...avocados are a practically a must!
     I found this recipe quite some time ago when I held a healthy baking class for some friends, and quite like it as a fun treat for my kids once in a while. I  much prefer it as a fruit dip though, so get your fresh cut fruit ready, and serve at any get together and I think you will be quite pleasently surprised!




     Chocolate Avocado Pudding

(from http://rawfoodrightnow.blogspot.com)


2 avocados
½ cup raw carob powder (or raw cocoa or raw chocolate powder)
1 cup dates (Medjools ideally)


Blend all ingredients until mixture is smooth and creamy and no lumps. Taste first, Add more avocado if you’d like it richer and/or creamier; add more dates for extra sweetness or add more carob for a stronger chocolate flavor.


Check out http://www.recipezaar.com/Avocado-Pudding-164833 for an addt’l pudding recipe variation

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Melon Sign-off

     Well, it's the end of another week, and what a week it has been! We started the whole "potty training" thing for my youngest, and after a day or so of chaos, it was mostly successful. I would be tempted to even say he was one of my easiest...but shhh! I don't want to jinx myself. We also had some hot hot Texas days, and I must say nothing goes better with "small town" post grad pre-summer season, then our first baseball game with the boys, and a finally open apartment complex pool to take away dreary crowded 700sq ft apartment madness. Love it. To top it all off? Memorial weekend, no work or school, and appliance sales for our new home! *sigh* Money really can be fun to spend. If only there were more of it...

     Now onto the main point of today's post. I have a nice little article from Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) with some great tips on choosing a fantastic melon (check the Mad About Melons link below), and then a great additional suggestion/reminder for your empty melon after working it for this next fabulous dish...so here goes!

Mad About Melons






This was a great article on http://www.care2.com about watermelon, and then of course a great way to eat it, in a salsa for dipping! Once again, try serving in a 'carved out' watermelon bowl.



Tropical Watermelon Salsa Recipe

posted by Annie B. Bond Feb 17, 2004 8:12 am

Adapted from a recipe by Chef Harry Schwartz.
The big news is that cool, refreshing watermelon contains significant amounts of lycopene, a potent cancer-fighter. The juicy pink melon is also rich in vitamins, but with no fat or cholesterol. Chef Harry, star of a popular PBS cooking show, says that he lost 100 pounds eating organic foods, including lots of sweet, juicy watermelon–and now he wants to spread the word about the benefits of that classic summer treat. The best news of all is that his watermelon-based recipes are simply delicious.
This light, refreshing tropical-inspired salsa–with pineapple, mango, and zippy lime along with watermelon–is a natural with chips but it also makes a great partner with grilled foods of all kinds. Quick to make, loaded with zesty tropical taste, and good for you, too!
INGREDIENTS
2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1 cup chopped fresh mango
Juice from 4 fresh limes
1 cup trimmed chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste just before serving.
Makes about 4 cups, enough to serve 8 to 12 people.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Playin'

Just a quick note, I am going to be playing around with the background and style of my blog a little the next few days. Please forgive the "repairs"! If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free!

Utter Bliss, and Pure Joy

     Or was it pure bliss and utter joy? Either way, I was sitting here during "quiet time" relishing in the sound of nothing...but the low hum of the air conditioner (and the perfect crunch of some delicious dark chocolate m&m's I was scarfing) when it occurred to me that I have not yet added a follow up recipe to conclude my cool watermelon salad. I have been quite caught up in the logistics of our house...our appraisal came in and Whoot Whoot! It was over our asking price by 8 G's! Hey, I'll take whatever I can get to sleep better at night. Anyway. I don't want to keep you waiting. It is practically summer after all and with that glorious time of year, comes the heat. Plus, it will soon be Memorial Weekend. And what better way to offset some of those triple digit days soon to come then a refreshing drink? That's right, a cool, crisp watermelon punch. Normally I am not an advocate of the 'ol bottle, but my super great friend who handed over this recipe, used the same punch to make some sweet watermelon margerita's at her sons birthday party (for the adults of course) and I figured I should at least provide you with a suggestion if needed for any of you party animals out there!


     Watermelon Punch


About 6 c watermelon cut and pureed, then strained (about 1/2 of 1 large watermelon)
1 can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate (like minute maid 12 oz kind)
1 pack of Watermelon Cherry drink mix (kool-aid variety types) about the .15oz size


Mix together and chill till ready to serve. Then add 1 2 liter of lemon-lime soda of choice right before serving. Yum! (You can add ice too for that extra chill factor)


For margerita's; take 3/4 c of punch and add 1/4-1/2c tequila in an individual glass. You may coat rim with sugar for fun, and garnish with a lemon, lime, strawberry, basically whatever you have handy or so desire. 


Extra Tip; to be super creative, try slicing just the top of the watermelon off to get all the fruit inside, then use the bottom shell (make sure it's stable) as the punch bowl! I have one word for you; Cuteness. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Be Frightened...

     Now I know that you all have been hanging on to the edge of your seats for today's super fresh ingredient. Prepare to be amazed. And yes, as the title states, do NOT be afraid of the following recipe. Even my husband who initially criticized the idea, went for 2 massive servings at dinner tonight! This weeks fresh ingredient is... (I feel like the announcer on Iron Chef America!)
  
     Watermelon!

     I'm gonna start you off with a Watermelon Salad that I had been dying to try. This one was my chosen version off of allrecipes.com, there are a zillion out there, but I'm tellin' ya, this is what Guy Fieri would call "Money". Try it tonight!
 Tip; This makes for a great evening side dish since you can halve the recipe for the adults, and just slice some watermelon up for the kids without taking too much extra time to prepare anything "extra"

Watermelon Summer Salad




Friday, May 21, 2010

Yummy Kale Shake

     Kale Shake you say? Yummy? How can that be? Thanks to my sweet sister in law, this little green goddess is not only delicious, but good for you! Try it for a nice late sunday morning pick me up. Don't be shy, give it a go this weekend! You'll be glad you did. And you won't even need to drink a V8 to get those good veggie results...trust in the power of the green super foods!




     Super Green Kale Shake Yumminess


2 stalks Kale
2 - 3 large handfuls spinach
1/2 - 3/4 c fresh pineapple (canned with juice works here too)
a little juice of whatever kind you have on hand for liquid (or water)
Yogurt if you like it more creamy
4 + ice cubes


Add all ingredients to your blender (make sure vegg is washed!) Smooth-ify to desired consistency. Give a little taste and add more pineapple or juice if not quite the sweet you would like. Add more greens if you are even more brave! Either way, enjoy the pick me up...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quick Kale Saute

     Got this idea from several sites suggesting to cook Kale like you might most southern greens. I improvised and used leeks and fresh bagged spinach to make it go farther and add interest. Turned out super yum. Check the salmon (can you tell this is my favorite fish?!) recipe we served with the Kale. Also very quick to prepare, and quite tasty, the kids LOVED the crust! Now I am wondering why I ever gave Kale such a bad rap!



     Quick Kale Saute


1/2 to whole head of kale (depends on number serving!) washed and very thinly sliced
1 large leek thinly sliced till you reach the top tougher green parts
2 large handfuls fresh washed (bagged is easier too!) spinach torn or thinly sliced
Olive Oil
minced garlic
salt and pepper for flavor


Heat a good 2 Tbsp to 1/4 c olive oil in a pan till very hot
Add 2 tsp of minced garlic (I love the jar kind for convenience, add more if you like it even more garlicky!)
once starting to brown (30 sec to 1 min) add the kale and leeks. Let saute for 2 min or so on each side, add the spinach and saute another 1-2 min. At this point you may need to add a little water to replenish the fluid and steam the vegg a little. Cover for 1 min or so, then turn off and move the pan to sit till ready to eat. A-MAZING!




     Easy Pecan Crusted Salmon


1 lb fresh salmon filet
salt, pepper, garlic seasoning mix, olive oil
Enough Pecans to make about 1/2 c crushed
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp butter


We buy the salmon that has the skin still, no big deal, but make sure you rinse the fish under fresh water and pat dry. Place on a lightly sprayed piece of foil large enough to wrap the fish inside a baking dish to ease in transfer. Preheat oven to 350^. Rub with a little olive oil to allow seasoning to permeate fish better. Sprinkle with garlic seasoning mix if you have it; or use the salt, pepper, and just garlic if you don't, adding a little rosemary and thyme for added flavor if you prefer. Use a fabulous blender or chopping apparatus (like Gary!;o) to grind those nuts down finely. Add the brown sugar and butter with a fork and cut the butter in till well incorporated. Top salmon, close foil, and bake for about 15 min, then open the foil and turn on the broil till well browned and carmelized, about 3-4 more minutes.
Serve with some of those garlicky greens up top, some brown rice pilaf or new potatoes for extra tasty goodness!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kale Krazy?

Kale Krazy: Roasty Toasty Roughage

Yup you better believe it.
Kale is the hot delicious and actually I should restate it as "so fresh and so clean clean" ingredient of the week. Check out this guys take on roasting kale. Now I'm a believer too. My fav healthy foodie Dr. G seriously recommends this way of toasting up the often overlooked vegg, but I was unwilling to negotiate my love (or should I say lack of love) for this bitter green. Except in a good turkey meatball soup. Yum-e. Otherwise...forget it. This week however, I am determined to make you all lovers, not fighters of the kale movement. All starting today. It is a good day after-all.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Beanie Brownies

     Hey all! I have a confession. Too often my food choices (or lack there of) parallel my life. Thus the break for too many extra days. What can you do though?! I had much on the plate with the kiddos, and an almost complete fall out of our offer on the house. Long story really. Plus I am not one of those that have really been able to configure regular let alone daily entries into the racket of my life. Perhaps I will be able to work it when I have a back yard to throw kids in. Then again, I will have just had #4 for, so maybe not. Either way, this is one of my ultimate favorite uses of beans. This is basically like one of the recipes that Weight Watchers recommends. So easy, and  GREAT way to cut calories, increase fiber etc.


  
     Beanie Brownies
     
     1 box Brownie Mix (for the 9 x13 inch pans)
     1 14 - 15 oz can Black Beans


Open the can of beans, drain them (and rinse if you can) Return beans to can, cover to top with water and then place in a blender (like Gary!) and puree all the heck out of 'em. Mix puree with brownie mix and place in a lightly sprayed baking dish. The baking time and temp are pretty much the same. 
Viole! Brownies with only about 2.5 grams of fat, 130 calories, and even 1 gram of fiber!





Tip 8 billion 27 thousand 3 hundred and 2;
Replace just 3 meals a week with beans or other high protein no meat dishes and save about $25 a week! (according to MSN's 20 Basic Ways to Save on a Shoestring) 


P.S. That's $1200 a year!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sick Kids

     Sick Kids. Inspection and disclosure agreement issues on our house; it almost has fallen through. New 'calling' in church for special service to the 18mos - 3 yr old kids, including entire organizational - reorganization. Crazy trip to San Antonio that we are still recovering from (you should see the laundry). Apartment fever due to 90^ temps.
     At this point, we are lucky to get buttered noodles and veggies on the table. Maybe even a side of meat (that was pre-cooked, per-prepared, and practically pre-eaten for your too!) if your lucky.
     Yup, tomorrow will be better. Come back for another simple, beautiful, and oh so yummy beanie brownie recipe.
     Love it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Black Beans, The Musical Fruit

     Need I say more? We already know how amazingly low fat, high fiber, and high protein beans are. Black beans just happen to be my favorite. I find them incredibly versatile and am fully prepared to amaze you with my black bean recipes. Ok so they may not all be mine personally, but I did pre-eat them for you, just to make sure they were good and tasty and perfect for this weeks listings. (I know, thoughtful right?!) SO, without further adieu, my first favorite, black bean burgers with mango chutney goodness. Even the kids went for this one! The flavors are distributed perfectly, with most of the spice being mixed in with the burger patty itself. The salsa contains the light mango and avocado mixture and tops these burgers off deliciously. Try pairing them with those fabulous new thin sandwich/burger buns.
And, I must mention that I got it from one of my favorite cooking magazines, and one of my new favorite websites, CookingLight.com

     Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa



Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 burger)

Ingredients

  • 2  (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4  cup  finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4  cup  panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  sea salt
  • 1/2  medium jalapeƱo pepper, finely chopped
  • 2  large egg whites
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4  cups  chopped peeled mango (about 1 medium)
  • 3  tablespoons  chopped shallots
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 1  avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 6  (2-ounce) whole-wheat hamburger buns, lightly toasted
  • 6  green leaf lettuce leaves

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Place black beans in a medium bowl; mash with a fork. Stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro and the next 7 ingredients (through egg whites). Shape bean mixture into 6 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Arrange patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, carefully turning once.
3. Combine remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, mango, and the next 4 ingredients (through minced garlic) in a medium bowl. Place a patty on bottom half of each hamburger bun; top each with 1 lettuce leaf, 1/3 cup salsa, and top half of bun.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
320
Fat:
11.9g (sat 3.9g,mono 5g,poly 1.7g)
Protein:
13.4g
Carbohydrate:
46.2g
Fiber:
10.1g
Cholesterol:
13mg
Iron:
3.3mg
Sodium:
777mg
Calcium:
201mg
Marina Delio, Santa Barbara, Calif., Cooking Light, APRIL 2010

In Light of Last Monday's Sweet "Agave" Article

     So I didn't get enough new info on agave posted for you, here are a couple really quick tid-bits (before todays fabulous fresh ingredient!)    First off, here is a quick link for substituting agave in recipes  Agave Substitution, great info for any of you who want to experiment on adding agave to your baking recipes instead of any other sweetener. And here is a GREAT reason or two that you might want to substitute Agave a little more in your cooking, a little phrase called "Glycemic Index". Basically Glycemic Index has to do with how your body is affected by the food we eat in terms of blood sugar. Anything with a high glycemic index is basically a food with carbohydrates that your body can quickly convert to sugar, meaning blood sugar spike. 100 is the median for glycemic index, anything above would be high and anything below or more close to zero would be a low glycemic index. The long and beautiful short of this, is Agave Nectar has a low glycemic index, meaning it is safer for diets like the Atkins and the South Beach Diet (which are both base on the glycemic index) and is great for those with diabetes or other blood sugar problems. Again, http://www.allaboutagave.com/ then clicking on the "Agave Nectar and the Glycemic Index" tab is a great place to start with some basic information on agave for all of you interested in the science behind it all.







     NOW for the more interesting part of agave, a few more recipe selections, courtesy of moi. I included the following because first off, buttermilk pancakes are HUGE in my family and this recipe is pretty close, but with agave instead. The cookies, well I obsess over a good chocolate chip cookie and I am determined to try these. And lastly, the brownie recipe is because it is a great prelude to my fresh ingredient of the week...black beans!



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kitchen Obsessed

     I think I have officially joined the crowds of 'country' or 'farm' decor enthusiasts. At least when it comes to my kitchen. Now that I have a house to dream about, I not only dream of my future kitchen plans, but obsess over them. Most of my waking computer moments have been spent in researching the perfect farm kitchen. Here are a few that come close...*sigh* someday I will get one too!
Perfect for ease and creativity when it comes to meals ideas and preparation. If only I could talk the hubs into realizing what a fine investment that 20k would be!



or how about this snazzy little number?!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Apparently, Polenta is NOT a Favorite Around Here.

     It's nights like tonight that make me wonder if my kids (yes, and even my husband) have any taste at all. I mean really. Who wouldn't go for some deliciously sauteed and ever so nicely spiced turkey cutlets complete with homemade chile cheese polenta (and salad on the side)?! Oh right, my kids and hubs. 

     Between 15 min potty breaks and the constant reminder that "salad is to eat, not to throw" (directed primarily to my 2 yr old) we finished dinner a grueling 45 min later with a side show to boot. Both the 5 yr old and 3 yr old could hardly stomach, let alone swallow such a repulsive dish and this led to several gagging bouts at the table. And not just your average gag and quick swallow with a wash down of water... oh no! We had eyes tearing up, swallowing a little vomit perhaps, and even a run to the toilet when the 5yr old couldn't take it any longer. And that was all for 2 measly bites. By the end of the meal unfortunately we were trying so hard not to laugh at their discomfort, that we could no longer enforce the said 3 bite minimum penalty. 2 would have to suffice. Poor things. If my self esteem was weaker, I may have even cried a little over such a disastrous turn out, but hey! As the hubs said, 
"Just don't make it again". 
Hmmmm, good idea. At least not until they are old enough to appreciate such refined tastes like mine. Now what to do about the hubs lack of creativity, I am at a loss for. Oh well, to try again tomorrow! At least the mediterranean salad was a hit (for us anyway), and I will graciously include the dressing recipe for you, since that was our biggest/only dinner success tonight!



     Citrus and Mild Red Chile Dressing
                 (courtesy of The Healthy Kitchen, by Andrew Weil & Rosie Daley)

8 sun dried tomatoes (packed in water not oil) 
3/4 c hot water (soak the tomatoes in the water for about 20 min)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil (or 1/4 c apple juice)
1 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp orange juice concentrate
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 tsp natural soy sauce (like tamari) or a low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground fresh pepper

Blend tomatoes after soaking. Then add additional ingredients and blend till creamy. Toss with spinach, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and sunflower seeds. Garnish with additional fresh ground pepper if desired.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fresh Ingredient Monday

     Just to keep things interesting, as if my life were not already so...(hey I gotta get it where I can) I have decided to present a new ingredient for cooking each Monday, whether I use it that day in cooking, or used it during the week. (Most often I am sure on the weekend!) Yup, that will keep 'em coming back for more (and me striving to have an actual goal to progress toward each week!) Let's get a fresh start then!
     Today's Ingredient; AGAVE NECTAR (from http://www.allaboutagave.com/)


While agave (pronounced ah-GAH-vay) is best recognized as the plant from which tequila is made, it has also been used for thousands of years as an ingredient in food. The nectar made from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel, or "honey water."

The Aztecs prized the agave as a gift from the gods and used the liquid from its core to flavor foods and drinks. Now, due to increasing awareness of agave nectar's many beneficial properties, it is becoming the preferred sweetener of health conscious consumers, doctors, and natural foods cooks alike.

Where Does Agave Nectar Come From?

Agave nectar (sometimes called agave syrup) is most often produced from the Blue Agaves that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. Agaves are large, spikey plants that resemble cactus or yuccas in both form and habitat, but they are actually succulents similar to the familiar Aloe Vera.
In many regards agave nectar bridges the gap between real and artificial sweeteners. While it has all the useful properties of real sugars, its lower glycemic index helps protect against health risks associated with higher glycemic sweeteners.
Agave nectar can be used in many more applications than artificial sweeteners, while also producing more palatable results. Since it is composed of real sugars (fructose and glucose), agave nectar performs admirably in the kitchen and bakery. It matches refined sugars in all the qualities mentioned above, serving as a browning agent, a humectant, a softener, and a preservative. 




SO, what glorious recipe did I create with this hot little commodity? Try these good morning muffins on for size!


P.S,: A word about Mueslix; for any of you who don't know, Mueslix is a cereal containing (usually) various grain flakes, chopped raisins and dates, oats, sliced almonds and maybe a light sweetner. I grew up on the stuff, we were introduced to it in Germany and used to make it ourselves for years afterwards. I chose this cereal because all the ingredients are great in carrot cake and they would be perfectly  proportioned for these muffins, especially since I personally only like a little texture while I am enjoying a great carrot cake. If you can't find it, sub in the above ingredients in your own preferred amounts.




     Glorious Carrot Cake Deliciousness Morning Muffin Madness (or Morning Carrot Cake for short!)


3/4 - 1 c Mueslix breakfast cereal
1/2 c quick cooking oats
1/2 - 1 c fat reduced buttermilk (or half buttermilk half unsweetened applesauce)
2 c unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 c agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 c canola/vegetable oil
1 c finely shredded carrots
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash ginger, salt,  and ground cloves
1/2 c white chocolate chips


Crush cereal more fine, mix with oats and buttermilk (I used half buttermilk half applesauce because that was all I had, but I really liked the flavor too!) Let set while mixing other ingredients (for a total of 5+ minutes at least) Mix eggs, vanilla, and oil. Add sugar and agave. Sift flour, baking soda, and spices/salt together, then add to wet ingredients. Preheat oven to 350^ and spray muffin tins while waiting for wet ingredients to set longer. Add carrots and cereal mixture to wet ingredients. Mix in white chocolate chips. Spoon into muffing cups till 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 min or till toothpick comes out clean. Should make 18, enjoy!

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