Friday, August 19, 2011

where have i been???

i have not been on vacation or doing anything truly constructive. i have not been relaxing either. i have not been eating pie. i have been on "detox"

sooooo while i WAS cooking many things that i hadn't cooked before- i was also not too terribly excited about any of it. i will admit some of it was VERY good and we will be incorporating meatless monday from now on-- i have a stash of recipes (sorta) built-in so i will post as we go.

all along we couldn't have dairy, grains, sugar, prepared foods, etc. except for 1/2 cup brown rice per day or 1 cup lentils. the first half was also devoid of ALL meat/fish but we could add chicken and fish for the second half.

it. was. hard.

but it looks pleasant enough :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

since i don't actually 'know' the muffin man

They are the perfect portable snack. They are diverse and can be very good for you if you pick the right recipe. They are also super quick and easy but still beautiful. MUFFINS!
(and the perfect use for the leftover crumble topping from the mango crisp recipe found here)
And yes, those "might" be fall themed muffin wrappers- that's all I had :)

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached wheat flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup veg oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
leftover crumble topping (12 tablespoons would be PLENTY)

*mix wet ingredients (besides crumble topping)
*mix dry ingredients (besides crumble topping)
*mix wet and dry together :) just until combined
*pour into lined muffin cups and sprinkle about a tablespoon of crumble over each
*bake in preheated oven on 375 degrees for 20(ish) minutes

*Note- these got just a little dry but were fine with butter. i find that sometimes this happens with whole wheat flour, but you can try watching for doneness and pulling them out a minute or two sooner

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekend Breakfast Kick Off

Today does not feel like a Saturday. Even though I worked two days this week, we have sorta been in staycation mode. We've been to the Botanical Gardens, the petting zoo, the park, and so on and it has been wonderful! Today brings an early afternoon Birthday party so we need to get a move on and these are some easy easy breakfast sandwiches. A few weeks back I made some chicken fried steak with country gravy and froze the leftover gravy just for this purpose.

Biscuits- make your own if you have time but these were the store bought in a tube and baked at home style

Eggs- I scrambled them up and then coked them omelette style to cut into the sizes needed to top the biscuits

Turkey sausage- self explanatory :)

Leftover country gravy

Get on it and start your weekend!! Enjoy

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leftover Makeover: Toddler Meals

Often when I have bits of good things here and there, I will use them for food for my 1 year old, A. Here are two super easy and nutritious meals that use almost all leftovers. Not really great recipe format- more like some ideas....

Scrambled Lentils
I have mentioned before that I add cottage cheese to my scrambled eggs to up the protein factor, but they are the perfect vehicle for lots of things. Steamed, mashed broccoli, asparagus, spinach, obviously cheeses and meats. A loooooves scrambled eggs and eats them about once a day. Yesterday I added about a quarter cup of cooked lentils to four eggs scrambled with a splash of whole milk and a heaping tablespoon of cottage cheese. She gobbled them right down (well about a third anyway- she had some more today and even I had some with some sour cream and a piece of crumbled bacon for breakfast). Lentils are a great food to cook in advance and freeze in ice cube trays- they can be added to pasta dishes, soups, stir-fry, etc. We love them.

Kiddie Carbonara
So this is not real carbonara (not even close) but it has peas and pasta in it, so we'll go with that. Earlier this week I had quite a bit of leftover orzo pasta from a side dish. I specifically set aside some without sauce for use later. To about a cup or cup and a half of whole wheat orzo, I added a quarter cup of leftover peas (w/ a tiny bit of butter). The I shredded up some leftover ham and tossed in just a bit of shredded cheddar cheese and let it all melt together. She and my 4 year old, N ate all of it. Good whole food.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Favorite Lasagna

Who doesn't like lasagna? Cheesy goodness baked  into marinara and pasta- you can't lose. It is probably my husband's favorite and I realized that I hadn't made any for awhile so yesterday I made one- I have made it this way for years and will say that it is the best lasagna ever! Obviously you can make your own sauce or use a jar- this time I used Bertolli Tomato and Basil that I jazzed up with onions, fresh mushrooms, fresh basil and extra garlic. It was a regular sized jar along with 1 lb of very lean ground beef. I usually use ground turkey but my husband said this was the best batch I've ever made..... I think he was trying to tell me that he notices the difference between beef and turkey- what a great palate ;)

Four Cheese Deliciousness i.e. Lasagna
Meat Sauce- I would be guessing that you need about 4 cups total (or see above)
9 Lasagna noodles- prepared
1 egg
1.5 cups small curd cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella
6 slices provolone cheese

*Combine egg, parm and cottage cheese- this takes the place of ricotta and I will never go back
*Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray.
*Place enough sauce to barely cover the bottom and then layer noodles, 1/2 cottage cheese mixture, provolone, noodles, sauce, 1/2 cottage cheese mixture, noodles, rest of sauce, mozarella
*Cover (spray foil with non-stick spray so the cheese doesn't stick to it later) and bake at 350 degrees for 50  minutes
*Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer
*Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

After the provolone layer

Before Baking
This is my 3 year old's thumbs up because dinner looks good. He ate EVERY LAST BITE!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Leftover Makeover: Got Fungus??

This week I combined two things that needed using: leftover sage stuffing and some breakfast sausage. Our tiny little town market has this amazing sausage but it comes in a HUGE serving that we never use so I usually freeze half. This week I forgot and it worked out perfect because Stuffed Portobello Caps were the perfect dinner for the little one and I (daddy and my little fella are at a baseball game). She kept clapping for "more more"- so cute!

Sage and Sausage Stuffed Portabellos
1 cup leftover stuffing (mine was a boxed sage mix)
3/4 cup cooked and crumbled sausage
4 portobello caps (wiped clean/stems removed)
Coarse salt
Olive oil
Parmesan and chives to top

*Mix sausage and stuffing- add a couple heaping Tbsp of chopped portobello if you have an extra mushroom
*Drizzle the caps w/ oil and sprinkle with salt before grilling gills up for 4-5 minutes
*Top w/ stuffing and warm through in oven or on grill (indirect heat)
* Sprinkle w/ parm and chives

Monday, June 20, 2011

The weekend checked out too soon- here is a weekday breakfast kickoff

This is an old stand-by for weekend breakfast. I love to serve it when we have overnight guests because it is hearty and looks like you fussed but it is really easy (even easier if you use frozen potatoes and prepared pesto). I am not sure where the original recipe came from but I have made it so many times that it has kinda taken on a new life. It is also great if you want to substitute with sausage and add some red peppers in place of the tomato. You can also add other goodies like chives, rosemary, or veggies. Experiment away- I have and it is always no-fail delicious.

Ham and Spinach Hash
4 Tbsp butter (divided)
Extra virgin olive oil
8 small red potatoes (washed and cubed- skins are fine left on)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 med onion (chopped)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 large ham steak (chopped)- that is just deli meat in the pic but the ham steak is better
8 medium eggs
2-3 handfuls fresh baby spinach (chopped)
1 heaping Tbsp fresh basil (chopped)- or prepared pesto
1 large tomato (seeded and chopped)- or half can diced tomatoes, drained
Parmesan for topping
Salt and pepper to taste
*Cook potatoes in butter and oil with salt/pepper/granulated garlic. One tender, onion and ham and cook for 4-5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and toss with basil and spinach to wilt
*Meanwhile, cook eggs (in butter) over easy/medium- some runny yolk makes it delish.
*Top a serving of hash with two eggs and sprinkle with tomato and parmesan

Note: I did not have tomato available (see pic) and i used white potatoes- like I said, it's a versatile dish

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rice up

So I realize it is Wednesday and that usually means a leftover makeover but I am not feeling very creative today. Blame the new schedule or the non-sleeping baby, both of which have me in zombie mode. I have been so sluggish lately and have been eating a few too many desserts too so back to a week of carbohydrate withdrawal I go again. But first, an easy peasy rice recipe--

Rosemary Rice
2 cups instant brown rice
1 can (or 2 cups) chicken stock/broth (use reduced sodium if buy canned)
1 Tbsp herbs/rosemary--- i LOVE the pampered chef rosemary spice blend
1 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare as directed substituting broth for water and adding seasonings with the rice. Once liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy, add butter and s&p to taste. Better for you than the processed boxes and cheaper too ;)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weekend Breakfast Kickoff

Yummy Breakfast Burritos

We LOVE Mexican food and will incorporate those tastes into our food whenever possible. Well I do anyway, my husband just eats the fruits of my labors. One thing I like to do when we have tacos (or if I cooked some sausage for something) is set a little aside for a weekend breakfast burrito. These are soooo easy though I have to say you can't beat my mom's more labor intensive burritos. These are probably healthier too ;)

these are actually tomato wraps that were on clearance at the market, but we usually use whole wheat from trader joes (our fave)
5 eggs-
whisked with a splash of milk and about a Tbsp of cottage cheese and scrambled
Leftover taco meat-
as much as you want (if using sausage, mix with a bit of taco sauce before adding
Onions, peppers, green chilies, tomato-
basically whatever you have on hand, saute them in a bit of butter and season with salt, pepper and cumin
Shredded cheese-
sharp cheddar is our favorite

*Once everything is cooked, add them into the pan together and cook for a minute or so
*Spoon into tortillas and top with sour cream and salsa

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Leftover Makeover Wednesday

How often do you just have ONE chicken breast left--- for us, quite often. This recipe is perfect to use it for an entire dinner. I would almost bet you have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry/fridge so you get a great dinner for almost no additional grocery cost!

Spinach Alfredo Pizza
1 whole grain pizza crust (pre-made or prepared dough)
1 cooked and cubed chicken breast
1/2 block monterey jack, provolone or mozarella cheese (shredded)
1 small bunch spinach (chaffinade cut)
8-10 thinly sliced rings of red onion
Alfredo sauce (pre-made or recipe follows)

Pre-bake crust. Spread sauce thickly over crust. Top with ingredients and bake until cheese is melted. It is so so good- I didn't even want my salad that I made to go with it!

Alfredo Sauce- I make this with whatever I have on hand, cream, milk, cream cheese, whatever- it usually works even if you don't follow perfect directions.
Make a roux with 1/2 stick butter and 1-2 Tbsp flour. Add in some milk and stir until mixture is creamy. Add a little salt and pepper and garlic powder. Add 2-4 Tbsp parmesan depending on desired thickness. Just taste it and if you need more spice, salt, cream, cheese, add it- don't be afraid ;)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mango Madness

I am allergic to mangoes...... weird right? Not the actual mango, but the sap on the outside (it is in the poison ivy family!) as I learned a few years ago when I broke out in a horrible rash all over my  lips and face.... I know you have visions of me smearing fruit all over my cheeks and eye but it was not like that :) In fact I am not too sure how it happened but I am digressing. The point is that for a long time, I was scared of that benign little fruit. About a month ago, my local fruit stand (as in proximity, I don't live anywhere that could classify mango as a local fruit) had them for WAY cheap so I sucked it up, bought a bag, washed my hands, peeled and cut them, washed my hands, froze them and washed my hands- and there they sat. We had a friend over for dinner last night and I thought a mango crisp would be a perfect companion to the fajitas and beans. It truly was and so far I am rash free!!

'Who Cares If I Get a Crazy Swollen Eye and Pimply Lipped Rash'
Mango Crumble With Cinnamon Cream

2-3 cups frozen mangoes
1 peach- cubed because it looked like I wanted more fruit- you could omit or add another
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
*Combine in a pie plate sprayed with Pam. To save time, I microwaved the mixture for 2 minutes, stirred and repeated. For better caramelizing, use the stove top and then put in pie plate.

*Add juice of 1/2 lime.
In separate container combine the following ingredients (my standard crisp/crumble topping):
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 small package chopped pecans

*Cut in 1 stick butter
*Spread crumble mixture over the mango mixture (as thick or thin as you like- you will have 1-2 cups leftover but save it!!! I will give you something to do with it soon ;)
*Bake at 340 degrees for 40 minutes
*Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

For THIS crumble, there is no comparison to a home-made cinnamon whipped cream- it is perfect because you can control the sweetness. All you do is whip a small carton of heavy whipping cream in a cold bowl with cold beaters (in an electric mixture) until it is thick- during the process, add in sugar to your preference-- up to a large handful and then add 1 tsp cinnamon. My husband and I both prefer this to apple crisp which was always pretty high on our favorite list- there is just something about the tartness of the mango/peach with the sweetness of the crumble and when you couple it with a thick and mellow cream, you will want to eat the entire plate!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I am versatile and stuff ;)

versatile_blogger_awardI was just awarded the Versatile Blogger Award for this blog!! I am excited because this is my neglected blog ;)

Kortney's Krazy Life

It came from the lovely Kortney at Kortney's Crazy Life! Find her here at:

So the "Rules" are to thank the awarder (and link back to them in your post) , tell a little about yourself (7 things) and nominate some fellow versatile bloggers (15 of them!)... I am still kind of a newbie so we will see how it goes-- I haven't really been around long enough to garner a huge following so I will just nominate the few that I have grown to love in a very short period of time--- sorry for being such a rebel rule breaker!!

1. Most days I would rather not have anything scheduled but I am bored and crabby when I have nothing to do......
2. I am SUPER allergic to cats but dogs don't usually bother me
3. If I could have any job, it would be Samantha Brown's on the travel channel
4. I could eat Mexican food everyday and be perfectly happy
5. I only like my coffee cold
6. I think my other blog is way better- shameless plug for :)
7. My great (x14 or something) grandmother was Pocahontas... I know, right?

Go out and find these super bloggers- they have some great material!

rasjacobsen @ lessons from teachers and twits

So there- it's only 1/2 but then these ladies won't feel pressured to comply because of my underachieving!! Have a great week everyone :)
And thank you again to Kortney!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunny Summer Kickoff

Every good day starts with breakfast :)
And since you have to eat at some point before you stuff your face with bar-bq today, here is the perfect kick-off for the official start to summer!! Thanks to my mom for a similar idea.

Breakfast Melt
1 slice whole grain bread- the grainier the better
1 jumbo egg
1 slice swiss (or provolone)
2 slices crispy thick cut bacon
1/2 avocado

Prepare toast and bacon (I make mine in the oven on a wire rack so it stays flat). Put egg in a buttered skillet and prepare as if you are going to for over easy/medium, etc. but before you flip it, break the yolk and spread it around the white a little bit. When firm, place on toast with bacon and cover with the cheese. Bake in oven for a few minutes until cheese melts. Spread mashed avocado on top with some salt and pepper. This serves one- you might want to make more cause your husband will be jealous (unless he loathes avocado like mine)!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

How bout a side of fat with those turkey burgers??

The other day I was making some blue cheese turkey burgers for dinner- yes I was still trying to use up that blue cheese :) Sidenote while I am here.... does anyone else think it's interesting that some of these cheeses go bad so fast? "Once opened, use within 5 days"- we wouldn't want the stinky moldy cheese to get... moldy? Anyway, I digress :)

So I was making some blue cheese turkey burgers on whole grain rolls with tomato, lettuce and mayo but I had no ideas for a side other than a chop salad (which I did end up making). I stood in my kitchen and stared, and stared and stared and finally the vidalia onions in the basket told me I should make some fatty onion rings---- those are some smart onions!

Easy easy easy! While heating some oil in my deep skillet/fryer, I sliced one large onion into some rings.
Then I combined about a cup of milk with 2-3 handfuls of flour- this is not an exact science- if you want thicker batter, make it thicker, if you want tempura-like coating, make it thinner.... and yes that is goat milk (we are weird).

That's pretty much it- not so much cooking :) Dump the onions into the mix and make sure they are all coated. Drop them into the hot oil (it will be ready when a TINY droplet of water sizzles if added- tiny folks- very very tiny) and fry for 4-6 minutes per side or until they look golden and tasty to you. Remove with slotted spatula, sprinkle immediately with salt and pepper and drain on wire racks.
Admittedly, not a great shot but I was so excited to eat that it took very low  precedence ;)
PS- The chop salad and turkey burger were each tasty too!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Operation: Do Not Waste.... aaaaand yet another salad idea ;)

I am in a constant quest to use up everything in the fridge- there is just something about throwing away leftovers that I can't stand. If produce goes bad before we eat it, I think about it all day... maybe I have problems! Well I know I do, but that's another post ;)
I found myself at the end of a weekend with lots of "stuff" that needed using. We were out much of the day yesterday and my husband had something this evening so I didn't do as much cooking as I would have liked. This actually worked out because my kids and I can eat about anything for dinner, even if it doesn't make much sense as dinner. I have consumed some random combinations to avoid throwing stuff out and tonight was no different but it was delicious! Not sure what he will be eating when he gets home......
I have an excess of lettuce right now- I thinned out our patch for better growth and had all the baby leaves to deal with, I also had a package of romaine hearts and a head of iceberg before I bought a package of goodness at Whole Foods the other day- I couldn't pass it up because it was such a good deal (btw you did read that right, you can get some really great deals there and THAT is yet another post).

Soooooo my son had some leftover corn on the cob with his pizza, my daughter had leftover amazingly yummy breakfast frittata from yesterday and I had a salad- BIG SURPRISE, right?? Salads, soups, frittatas,burritos and pasta bakes are my go-to uses for leftovers and this one did not disappoint.
I went for the spring mix as well as leftover home-made blue cheese dressing from earlier in the week (it was a little watery by now but it really worked well with the mixed greens). With it I sliced radishes, which we also have a plethora of from the garden harvest and........ corn off the cob- I just sliced it in there on a whim because it needed used and I figured the sweetness would be a good compliment to the tartness of the blue cheese. It was stinking delicious if I do say so myself and pretty gorgeous to look at.

A bowl of springtime for sure.
Give it a chance-super quick and easy.

Blue Cheese Dressing-totally approximate because I am not a measurer ;)
1/2 cup mayo
1/2cup sour cream
1/2 container blue cheese-  used Treasure Cave
splash of whole milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp italian seasoning- could substitute fresh basil and parsley- 1 tsp each
salt and pepper to taste

*This took some tweaking for taste- remember to make it in advance so the blue cheese flavor permeates the dressing. It is not very good if you try it immediately!! Gets watery after it's been in the fridge awhile but the flavor gets even better- you might even want to drink it (is that a gross visual??)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

perfect patio pair!

i am behind on this post but am gonna post it anyway :) two weeks ago, a friend and i headed to westport plaza for happy hour. it is a GREAT area, especially when the weather gets niceand you can use one of the patios-- there are several restaurants with outdoor seating here and they all open up into a commone square (very cool). we choose a place called Ice Kitchen. i think that technically it is a vodka bar but they offered some tasty food options and a good drink selection including sangria-- be still my heart! for like 10 bucks (wow) they offered a trio of small "tasters" each in a small sized wine glass- a pomegranate, white and red sangria. all were great and the white was phenomenal. we also ordered some bites- me: pita with hummus and tzaziki and she: a wedge salad. again, very tasty- my pita was warm and slighty cripsy and the dips very good and flavorful. we will totally be going back- good food, good atmosphere, good prices and great drinks. i would have enjoyed another trio but i had to catch a flight ;)

Pita and Dips-- yuuuum

:( sad that first one is gone :(
Sangria Trio and my drinking dining partner!

Note: Not a paid reviewer- this is just my take

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gourmet Brownie Shortcut

Yesterday my mom and I threw a baby shower for my cousin (who is like my sister) and it was great! One of the recipes had people RAVING and it was soooo easy. I had planned on making these from scratch Paula Dean brownies and then time got away from me so I took a more Sandra Lee approach :)
I purchased a family size Duncan Hines brownie mix and just spiced it up a bit.
Orange Pecan Brownies
Brownie Mix- prepare as directions indicate but add 1 tsp orange extract and 3/4 cup chopped pecans to the batter. Bake and cool. Frost with a can of Buttercream Icing mixed with 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp orange extract and top with 1/4 cup chopped pecans for garnish. From-scratch buttercream is better but there are decent prepared choices out there too. I used a half and half mix.
These were so so so good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Leftover Makeover Steak

Yesterday was my birthday and birthdays (even those spent alone with two children) deserve steak or something ;) So I made steak and had quite a bit leftover. The perfect place for a leftover steak is on a salad.

Note: I realize that last week's makeover was also a salad- I have just been craving them because of the warm weather AND i just thinned out our lettuce patch so i have a gazillion baby lettuce leaves! I still like pasta and stuff...

Balsamic Steak Salad
Leftover Steak- sliced against the grain
Blue Cheese Crumbles
Sliced Strawberries
Candied Pecans (or something comparable)
Green Onions
Balsamic Vinaigrette- I make this sometimes, but to be honest, it is NEVER as good as the bottled version ;)

Maybe next week I will make something warm :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday Leftover Makeover

What's this?! Another post this week? :)
I was determined to post a leftover makeover this week. I had several ideas, as this week has been one giant experiment in combining leftovers- we are kinda in and out this week and goin out of town this weekend so I kinda wanted to use what we have. But then I got hungry- 30 minutes ago. And I threw together a quick salad while my daughter was napping. It was so good so I will have to use it.
I used some smoked turkey in the fridge but what a GREAT use for leftover roasted turkey (or chicken)!

Twisted Turkey Cobb Salad
*I use the term cobb loosely as this is sorta like a cobb salad but with a "twist" on ingredients

Baby spinach
Shredded cheese- I used cheddar
Turkey (chopped up)
Avocado (cubed)
Rye croutons- I make croutons out of whatever bread is going stale and then keep them in the fridge for later use. This time I had rye but any other type would work
Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing- Fresh or bottled

So simple and delicious with a great combination of textures!!
I would have taken a picture had I planned on posting it :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

bad blogger awards

wow- i am now a nominee for faulty food blog award! i HAVE been blogging but it has all been about mommyhood. aaron has been gone aLOT and so i haven't been cooking quite as often. i have also been rather inspirationless.... come on baseball season, let's move on!
so anyway- also win an award for kitchen oops this weekend. it turns out that when your cobbler just doesn't look right, that maybe you forgot a major component.... like liquid. i left out the milk so then i had to mix it all together so it won't be quite as cobblerish when it comes out but hopefully it will still taste good. next time maybe i should just use a recipe.
i'll post my version if it turns out ;)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

why did the chicken cross the road?

to give me three dinners out of one roasted bird!!
I had made some beef stew in the crockpot and didn't want extra dishes so i wiped it out and used it to roast said chicken. Placed breast-side up and sprinkled with paprika, garlic powder and some salt, it cooked in a couple hours on the high setting. Of course, you can do it quicker in the oven but always make sure to cook to 180 degrees in the thigh area.
After picking off the meat, I used the carcass to make some stock, which is currently bubbling away as the base for tortilla soup.
I used half dark meat and half white to add to a chicken alfredo last night, the rest of the dark meat in the tortilla soup for tonight and reserved the rest of the breast for use in a chicken caeser salad tomorrow- we like chicken so we don't mind in three nights in a row but of course you can freeze for later use in a soup or pasta, though i don't think i would use the previously frozen breasts for a cold salad just because the texture would be odd. so anyway- a cheap way to feed the fam this week! my bord only cost 3.60, which equals meat for just over a dollar a night!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Today is one of those days where i KNOW i should be doing kitcheny things like freezing the carton of almost unusable strawberries that i bought cheap, cleaning and cutting some veggies for the week or cooking a chicken or something but i just. don't. want. to. usaually i am all about filling my down time with cooking but this last week has been different. my husband is never home before 7 anymore because we have hit baseball season, so when i make an exciting meal- he gets it reheated. my son has recently started to have good and bad eating days- blah! he was always such a good eater. so really, it is not that exciting or cost-effective to make a big meal so that i can eat it alone (not counting the baby who is screaming at you if you can't get the spoon in her mouth fast enough). looks like it might be a frozen pizza night- what a shame for a sunday

Friday, March 18, 2011

Egg-ceptional Baby Grub

Have I posted this before?? I think about posting it regularly so it seems like I have already written it :) Egg yolk is one of the most perfect foods for babies- they are full of protein and good fats and they are cheap and easy. I usually hard boil some eggs to keep in the fridge for easy finger foods but sometimes I forget.

Infants can't eat egg whites until they are over a year old because it is such a common allergen (one of the top 5 food allergies actually) and scrambling an egg yolk gives less than appetizing results. What I have found is that if you place an egg yolk in a dish with about a tablespoon of cottage cheese instead of milk, you get a much much better product. They are creamy and smooth, have an extra protein punch and my little lady loves them.

Round them out with tiny chunks of banana (try dusting them with rice cereal or oatmeal to make them easier for tiny fingers to pick up and swallow) and you have a great start to a busy day of cuteness!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Meatless Makeover

Another Ash Wednesday already- my baby girl was born on Easter last year so it seems unbelievable that we have reached Lent- time flies when you're not sleeping :/
It is a GREAT idea to have a meatless night of the week (even if you are not a Catholic during Lent like me) because it can save you an average of 5 bucks a week.... 20 a month and 240 per year! Plus there are really wonderful vegetarian dishes out there that are so good for you. Of course you can still have fish too but tonight I used leftovers to create meat-free burritos .

I had some leftover baked rice (maybe 2/3 cup), corn, black beans and half a can of diced tomatoes (drained) all from the previous few nights dinners. To fill in the protein, I added about a half cup of cooked lentils. To the mixture I added 1/2 a minced onion, a cup of shredded cheese and perhaps a 1/2 tsp each cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and salt with a 1/4 tsp black pepper and a Tbsp taco sauce. You will mayube think it weird, but I also added about 2 Tbsp prepared ranch dressing- it makes it come together better with a little moisture. Then I just wrapped the mixture on 6 whole wheat tortillas, sprinkled with a bit more cheese, covered and baked for 20-30 minutes on 300 degrees. Served with salsa and sour cream, I did not miss the meat- but I did wish for some avacados.....

To reiterate ingredients:
2/3 cup chicken flavored rice
1/4 cup corn
1/2 can drained black beans
1/2 can drained diced tomatoes
1/2 onion- finely chopped/grated
1 cup shredded cheese (of your choice)
1/2 tsp each cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp taco sauce
1 Tbsp ranch dressing (Hidden Valley)
6 whole wheat tortillas
salsa and sour cream

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pancake Sunday

Last night as I was tucking my little man into bed he said "Momma- can we have some pancakes for breakfast?" For you Mr. Nolan, of course.
Pancakes are a staple in this house for versatility and (actually) healthy kickstarts to the day. They are the perfect vehicle for fruit and/or vegetable purees, are cheap and fillingand when topped with a bit of cream and fruit compote are delicious!! This morning I went for quick and easy because the troops were restless. All the good for you whole grain mixes come out a little dense so I have just been making our own  mix. Here is my favorite:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose unbleached flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4  cup applesauce
2 egg yolks
1 and 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
Mix dry together. Mix wet together. Stir until just combined (don't overmix). Will be thick.
Heat griddle top. Spray with nonstick spray and drop 1/3 cup batter on griddle. Turn with bubbles stay open on the top. We served with butter and maple syrup.
Note: If you want to up the protein factor, blend cottage cheese in a food processor and replace 1/2 to 3/4 of the milk with it- it is really good and I frequently do this when I make batches of pancakes to freeze for the kiddos!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Pork Loins

Leftover makeover is a bit behind this week. Seems like everything in my life is, but what can you do?? Instead of using straight leftovers, today I use one pork roast two different ways.
1) Spicy shredded pork tacos (with black beans)
2) BarBQ Pork Sandwiches (with blue cheese cole slaw and garlic smashed tators)

You need a two pound pork loin roast (not tenderloin- though that is my favorite cut). Sprinkle with salt/pepper and sear on all sides in a hot skillet. Put in crockpot with one onion roughly chopped, one packet of taco seasoning- i use trader joe's brand and about 6 oz tomato sauce. Make sure about half the packet is rubbed onto the pork with the rest in the juice. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Remove the meat, for shred and set 1/2 aside. The reaminaing half should be added back to the crock pot with a tablespoon of chopped jalapeno. Turn the heat up to high and cook another hour. Serve on whole wheat tortillas with shredded pepper jack, chopped raw onion, sour cream and avocado/
The remaining roast is mixed with the barbq sauce of your choice- i prefer sweet baby rays but if you make your own, use it~~ It is served on crusty wheat rolls with pickles and onions. They taste different enough that you can eat on back to back nights without feeling like you are eating the same meat- though my husband would never eat pork twice in one week- he is weird though :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Local Haunt #2- When Past Experiences Don't Seem To Matter

On Friday we visited one of our favorite local restaurants La Pachanga- it was 7 PM so we waited about 10 minutes to sit, which was not problem. We eat out reasonably often and I feel we have an accurate expectation of how long the entire process whould take. In the past, La Pachanga has been right on top of things. Plus the food is outstanding! So anyway- we were seated and then it took about 10 minutes for the waitress to get our drink order and another 5 to get the drinks (one was wrong but we let it go) and take the food order. We went through an entire basket of chips during this time. So then the waiting really began- we waited over 30 minutes (and two baskets of chips) for our entrees to come. My kids are good "out in public" kids- if there are people to look at and things to eat, they are quiet and possibly even charming to those around us. The two  year old behind us that cried for the entire time and then flipped out ofher chair onto her face was not one of these good out in public kids..... I am ALL for taking your kids out to dinner (especially in noisy restaurants) but there is a time to remove them and this little girl was well beyond her time. So anyway- nerves were running high and as we had sat there FOREVER my tiny one about hit her limit- 8 came and went (usual time to get her ready for bed and then nurse to sleep) and so did her perspective. As soon as dinner came, I had to take her to the car so she could nurse in the quiet, calm down and go to sleep. My dinner sat untouched on the table- I ate it out of it's styrofoam container at home at about 9:30. It was delicious but the terrible service certainly eclipsed the experience. It is a sad thing when the usuals are not what we expect- oh, and they overcharged us. Overall a big disappointment

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Local Haunt #1

I like all kinds of foods- simple, complicated, cheap and expensive :) When we travel, our very favorite way to experience the culture of a region is to eat out at great resident favorites and try local dishes. At home, we still like to eat out. Living right outside of a major metropolitan area, we have all kinds of things to choose from but sometimes we just don't want to commute into the city. Our tiny little town has some wonderful little local places that we frequent and last night we popped into Pogolino's and got one of our usuals. All their pizzas are wonderful- they have a nice thin but not too crispy crust and they use real cheese, not the st. louis quintessential topping 'provel' (which i surely appreciate when i am in the mood) and for traditional pizzas a sweet and thick sauce that is the perfect bed for toppings. Get the clown special if you are in the mood for straight pizza- pepperoni, sausage, onion and green pepper. They also have GREAT hot wings. They are meaty and and slightly crispy, not too spicy, and fully sauced but not dripping. Last night we combined the two and got a buffalo chicken pizza and it did not disappoint. The two favorites are combined in heaven on a plate (and if you consumed it regularly, you just might hasten your departure)! Don't be turned away if you are a vegetarian or low fat eater either- they have some really great salads and pastas too. A personal favorite is their house salad, a combination of lettuce, pimentos, red onions and artichoke hearts with the house dressing (a creamy italian with lots of parmesan and a distinct kick).  Sometimes you are just too tired to cook and great local options offer tasty solutions.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leftover Makeover- Cozy Soup Edition

I meant to post this forever ago and just realized that I hadn't. This is a perfect use for leftover spaghetti sauce. This is specific to sauce without meat, but you could use it with meat as well and add some white beans and/or whole wheat macaroni to round it out.

Chunky Tomato Soup
*I loathe canned tomato soup- tasteless, boring and processed- but I am not against using it as a base or to add some tomato flavor to something on occasion.
3/4 cup leftover spaghetti sauce
1 can condensed tomato soup
1can water
2 shakes of grill seasoning
1/4 yellow pepper-chopped
1 small roma tomato- seeded and chopped
2 TB chopped onion
2 TB chopped fresh spinach
Combine, bring to a boil stirring for a few minutes; Reduce heat and cook until veggies are soft. Serve with grilled cheese :)
*If prefer a thicker soup, can add chunks of stale bread once veggies are done. As they dissolve into the soup, it will thicken
*Serves 2

Sunday, February 6, 2011

surprises over dessert

It being superbowl, I spent the morning in the kitchen whipping up yummy snacks for a little get-together this evening. I made some meatballs and a taco dip and then I was going to make some frosted football sugar cookies. Except I didn't-- just didn't feel like it so instead I decided to make some chocolate covered cheesecake bites. I happened to have a cheescake in the freezer so it was an easy thing or it should have been. For sake of time, I usually just melt chocolate chips in the microwave if I want melted chocolate but my microwave is on the way out (BOO) and it scorched the chocolate within seconds..... weird. I have NEVER seen this happen before. I complained to my husband and he said "why didn't you use a double broiler?" Whaaaaaat??? So A) he knows what a double broiler is and B) he knows how to use one properly..... thank you Alton Brown! Now can you inspire him to get in the kitchen and make me some dinner?? :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oatmeal Improvement

MORE snow overnight. We woke to probably the biggest accumulation yet and it was totally unexpected! It made me want something warm and hearty for breakfast with little to no work so I decided on oatmeal. This is special oatmeal though, not instant or thin, but thick and delicious. I used steel cut oats (MUCH better for you and I really enjoy the texture and nutty bite) and taking inspiration from McDonalds of all places added some other goodies.
2/3 Cup steel cut oats
1-2 TB Quick cooking rolled oats
1 TB Almond Meal (coarse)
1 Granny Smith apple- peeled and chopped
1/4 cup mixed dried fruit- I used a raisin, blueberry, cranberry mix from trader joe's
2 2/3 cup water
Sweetener of choice- brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, stevia, whatever your pleasure

*Boil the water and add steel cut oats stirring  gently
*Once the mixture begins to thikcen (about 5 minutes), reduce heat and stir off and on as the oatmeal thickens and softens- for 20-30 minutes depending on what consistency you like
*Stir in enough quick cooking oats to soak up any remaining liquid
*Add fruits- stir to distribute
*Add your sweet shot and warm your belly

Feeds 2 adults, 'maybe' with some leftover

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


As most of the rest of the country- we are snowed in. Not really, we can get out just fine and the roads in town are plowed but being teachers, both my husband and I have been out all week on snow break! So what do we do on days like today?? Eat- I have been great on the weaning myself off sugar thing, until yesterday, but it is okay to fall off the wagin once in awhile I suppose. Aaron went to the store in the midst of increasing snowfall yesterday because he wanted a coke and we were running low on milk (since there was literally NONE when i went to the store the day before the storm) and he came back with SNACKS- which is a much greater quantity of food than if I typed "snacks". Anyway- one of said snacks was a bag of assorted chocolate delights- reeses pb cups, rolos and hershey's kisses. Who is going to eat the kisses when the other two are there so I use the kisses as inspiration for this weeks leftover makeover- what to do with leftover chocolate?? I made these cookies and then I ate them....all. At least I used some whole wheat flour :/
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
1 cup butter (softened)                         2 eggs                            1 cup chopped kisses
1 cup white sugar                                 2 tsp vanilla extract         1 cup schocolate chips   
1 cup brown sugar                               1 tsp baking soda
1.5 cups whole wheat flour                   2 tsp hot water
1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour    1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp almond meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream together butter and sugars; Beat in eggs and then vanilla; Dissolve baking soda in water and add to mix; In separate bowl sift together, salt, flours and almond meal and stir in with mixer (don't overbeat); Add chocolate; Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet and bake 9-13 minutes until golden brown.

Side note- today we made snow ice cream which was probably not any better for us! A good general mix for the ice cream is 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of sugar mixed with a couple drops of vanilla extract (or chocolate syrup or caramel, etc)- then you can pour that over snow until you get the consistency you want.... it takes quite a bit of snow.

Who knows what calorie laden travesty tomorrow will bring. Snow days make me fat!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Grilled Cheese +

We are on a snow day... again :) This is FINE for me because the college class I teach was cancelled and I work from home the rest of the time so I don't have to get out. Plus my crazy family is here with me so it is like a weekend. But weekends mean more meals. I tried a cottage cheese pancake for breakfast (try being the operative word here- it can be perfected I am sure, but this recipe was not quite perfect... I will share when I feel it is ready- all in all, I will make them again but with a few changes). Lunch called for warm and cozy so we had tomato soup and grilled cheese. The tomato soup was a leftover makeover to be posted next week but the grilled cheese is an old stand-by. I wanted a step up from the old american cheese on sliced bread model, not that there is anything wrong with that version. We didn't have any american cheese, or cheddar even, but I had provolone (and whole wheat bread). That makes for a pretty bland combo so to jazz it up a bit, I dipped the sandwiches in egg and then parmesan and grilled. The sandwiches look and taste a bit more special when prepared this way. I have done it before and the "best" grilled cheese is a combo of a few cheeses (cheddar, american, swiss, etc) stuffed into a hunk of french bread that has a deep slit cut into it, rolled in the egg and parm mixture and grilled under a heavy pan to smash it down a bit. How can you go wrong  with cheese? Or bread for that matter??

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today I put leftovers to use for breakfast- and it's good for you too :)
Over the course of the week, I typically have at least a decent scoop of leftover veggies- this last week, they were perfectly suited for eggs.
One night, as a side dish I had mixed roasted veggies (red pepper, asparagus, onion, yellow squash and green beans). In addition, I had half a can of water chestnuts left from the asian lettuce wraps that I had made. I picked the green beans out of the mixture and added the chestnuts. Many other veggie combos would work with this base, plus I often add meat and/or potatoes.
Chop the mixture uniformly- about 1 cup total after the chopping.
Add the mix to a small greased casserole dish along with 5 whole eggs, half cup cottage cheese, salt and pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
Mix thoroughly and sprinkle with parmesan.
Bake at 325 degrees until the mixture is cooked through- 30-45 minutes (will feel firm but springy and be a nice golden brown).
Delicious served with sour cream or plain yogurt.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Back to the healthy me!

Over the holidays I ate way too much.... WAAAAAYYYYYY too much. I was pregnant the Christmas before so it "didn't matter" and I guess since I am nursing, I felt a little too much the same about it. However the 500 extra calories a nursing mom requires was covered in probably 2 cookies a day so....
Anyway, in an effort to climb back on the healthy bandwagon, I am trying to cut out some sugar and to do that I need to cut out my cravings for said sugar :( In an effort to do that, I am NOT eating any carbs this week except for those in vegetables. Next week I will add in fruits and then the week after I can eat complex carbs again. You have to be careful if you are pregnant or nursing but in general, most people can knock out grains for "just a little while" without issue. I would never suggest this is a permanent thing- whole unrefined grains are very very good for you. With that said, unrefined simple carbohydrates are absolutely not (good for you). They cause blood sugar spikes with too much insulin release and when they wear off, which does not take long, they cause blood sugar crashes. Abuse of the system sets you up for diabetes and will probably make you fat, which sets you up for other health issues.
However, right now there is nothing I want more than a huge fountain coke and some nachos. Or a brownie with ice cream.......
Okay okay back to the subject. I find that meals are very easy to come up with but snacks are the hardest- I tire of almonds or veggie sticks even dipped in hummus or yogurt dip after awhile. Again since this is temporary I will muddle through till next weeks fruits or the following weeks granola. It really does work, I have done it before with great success as long as you stick to whole foods/grains as a lifestyle choice (of course a few slices of regular pizza on regular dough will not hurt you once in awhile). If anyone is interested, here are a few meals from this week.
*Cajun baked chicken- just use msg free "cajun seasoning" and some olive oil poured over your chicken and bake at 325 degrees until chicken is done (time will depend on cut); served with a spinach salad with goat cheese, mushrooms and green onion in vinaigrette as well as oven roasted squash with rosemary and olive oil
*Sirloin with red wine and mushroom sauce- cook your steak however you want; sautee mushrooms in olive oil with some mashed garlic, then pour a half cup good red wine over them and cook the alcohol out/reduce (salt/pepper it off the heat or it may get too salty); served with green beans cooked with a slice of chopped peppered turkey bacon and onion and butter
*Steakhouse salad- pretty self-explanatory (used leftover steak!)
*Chicken lettuce wraps- recipe posted earlier this week
*Meatloaf (use parmesan instead of oats for the binding) with mashed cauliflower (will go half-half with potatoes for the boys) and peas.... this is tonight's meal and i have never done meatloaf this way. If it works out I will post
Also will be making some turkey chili this weekend and probably some baked hot "wing" chicken strips with a blue cheese chopped salad. Keep your fingers crossed for the cravings to stop super soon :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Leftover Makeover

This week's "Wednesday" post is coming a bit early because I just made this dish and actually have measurements to share before I forget them :) Plus I skipped last week. In a post-holiday pout about the poundage that crept in with all the cookies and party food, I decided to cut carbs out this week to get over some of the cravings. In general, I am a firm believer in eating nothing "white" ie refined but over the last few months my diet has not reflected that belief :(
BUT more on that later- for now, I share my way to use up some of the leftovers from the previous two night's worth of meals. I had some cajun seared boneless skinless chicken thighs and some baby bella mushrooms (I rinsed off the red wine reduction that they were cooked in before popping them in the fridge with the leftover chicken- i had served them over sirloin steak last night) that were calling me to use them in a pf chang style lettuce wrap. It ended up great with some glazed carrots. Though it fed two adults and my son, I honestly could have eaten the entire serving so you might want to add some brown rice to stretch it. The mixture would also be good over shredded bok choy and daikon as well if you make it a little saucier!
4 Chicken thighs (boneless skinless &cooked)- 2 breasts could be substituted
4-6 Mushrooms
1/2 small can of water chestnuts
3 small green onions
Chop uniformly and add to skillet coated w/ olive oil (sesame oil would be good too) and cook for a few minutes. Add 1 clove minced garlic and cook one more minute. To the mixture add:
2 TB soy sauce
Splash vinegar (any type- I used white but rice wine would probably be the best)
Coarse ground black pepper to taste
Simmer until liquid is well absorbed.
Serve in cups of iceberg lettuce
Crispy and delicious and CHEAP- all I bought specifically for this meal was the 98 cent can of water chestnuts and I will use the other half in a spinach dip to keep in the fridge for the rest of the week!