Eat!

Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Texicali Muffins

I have a large circle of friends.  We often have movie nights at one another’s homes.  Everyone brings a dish to share.  I try to bring something different every time.  However, I don’t want to take something so different that the picky eaters won’t try it.


 

But everyone loves Tex-Mex. So, I fiddled around with one of my other recipes and created these.  They carry well and can be reheated.  They can be an appetizer or an entrée.  They even freeze well. You can control the amount of heat through the Ro-Tel and taco seasoning that you chose.



 

Servings: 16 appetizers
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 30 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a large heavy bottomed skillet, a slotted spoon, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a can opener, a glass, a muffin tin, and muffin tin liners
 
Ingredients:
  • ½ pound hamburger
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ can Ro-Tel tomatoes-DRAINED
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
  • 1-16 ounce can refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Sour cream and salsa
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.  Place the cream cheese into the mixing bowl to allow it to soften.
  2. Line the muffin tins with paper cups.
  3. In the skillet over medium heat, cook the hamburger until it is browned. Remove it from the skillet with the slotted spoon and place it into the mixing bowl.
  4. Add the tomatoes, cheese, and seasoning.  Mix well.
  5. Separate the biscuits into halves horizontally.  Using the glass as a rolling pin, roll the halves out to flatten them.
  6. Place each half into a muffin cup. Evenly divide the mixture between the cups.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Top each cup with a dollop of salsa and sour cream. Serve warm.








BLT Cups

The holiday season is not quite over.  We still have New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl to get through.  I know that I get tired of the standard potato chip, dip set up at most parties.  Also, if guests are going to drink then they need protein to slow down the alcohol.  But no one wants to spend the party in the kitchen. These can be made ahead and warmed up before the party.

These muffins are a two bite version of one of the best sandwiches ever, the BLT. You can find sundried tomatoes with the pasta sauces in your grocers.  If you cannot find them you may be able to find bruschetta spread.

Servings: 16 appetizers
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 30 minutes
Hardware: A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a large heavy bottomed skillet, a paper towel covered plate, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a glass, a muffin tin, and muffin tin liners

Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 9 slices of thick cut bacon
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes with herbs packed in oil**
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • ½ cup shredded gruyère
  • 1-16 ounce can refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Shredded lettuce





  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.  Place the cream cheese into the mixing bowl to allow it to soften.
  2. Line the muffin tins with paper cups.
  3. In the skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crispy. Drain it on the paper towel covered plate.
  4. Dice the tomatoes.
  5. Crumble the bacon into the mixing bowl.  Add the tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese.  Mix well.
  6. Separate the biscuits into halves horizontally.  Use the glass to roll the halves out to flatten them.
  7. Place each half into a muffin cup. Evenly divide the mixture between the cups.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Top each cup with shredded lettuce.  Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spinach Pie

This dish isn’t spinach pie like you get in a Greek restaurant and it isn’t a quiche.  My spinach pie is a distant cousin to both. It is one of my first original recipes.  I created it while I was in high school.  When I was in college, I would bake a spinach pie and eat it every day for breakfast until it was gone. 

I really love it.  It is easy to make and can be eaten any time of the day.  Just add a piece of roasted chicken and you have dinner.  It also makes a great brunch item. If you are asked to bring an item to a pot luck, this travels well.


Servings: 6-8
Hardware: A mixing bowl, a colander, a whisk, foil
Time:  Cook:  30-40 minutes, Prep:  15 minutes









Ingredients:
  • 1 deep dish frozen pie crust
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2-10 ounce packages frozen spinach
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • S&P to taste
  • Malt vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Allow the piecrust to defrost. 
  2. Put the frozen spinach in the colander and run under hot water until it is completely defrosted.
  3. Whisk the eggs in the mixing bowl.
  4. With your hands, squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach.  You may need to do it a handful at a time.
  5. Stir the eggs, squeezed spinach, feta, nutmeg, and S&P together.
  6. Spread the spinach mixture evenly into the pie crust.
  7. Cover the edges of the crust in foil so that it doesn’t burn while it is cooking.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the center is set. Remove the foil during the last part of baking to allow the crust to brown.
  9. Cool the pie for 10 minutes and serve.    Offer your guests malt vinegar.


Onion Gruyere Wheels

The past few months have been so awful, that I’m having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit.  I also missed making a holiday post, which made me sad.  So I decided to bake.  Cooking helps relax me, which in turn brightens my mood.  And even if this is too late for you to add to your Christmas menu, maybe you can use it for New Year’s Eve?  Or just Saturday.

I have been wanting to make an onion tart, but I have been too busy for pastry. So, I bought a puff pastry and improvised.  Onion, thyme, and gruyere really go well together.  I added bacon, because I love bacon.  What doesn’t taste better with bacon?  If you don’t like bacon, you can omit it.  Or add roasted portabello mushrooms instead. 

Servings:  About 15 roll-ups
Time:  Thaw: 30 minutes, Prep: 20, Cook: 40 minutes total
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a skillet, a paper towel covered plate, a wooden spoon, a clean flat surface, a small bowl, a fork, a pastry brush, 2 baking sheets and parchment paper, cooling rack

Ingredients:
  • 6 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet
  • 6 cups sliced onions
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 ounces shredded gruyere cheese (the best you can afford)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Water
  • Flour for dusting





  1. Cover the baking sheets in parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Allow the pastry to thaw for about 30.
  3. Cook the bacon until it is crispy.  Crumble the bacon onto the paper towel covered plate.  Set aside. Clean the skillet.
  4. Slice the onions into rings.  Put the onions, sugar, and enough water to cover the onions half way into the skillet on medium high.  Stir often.  Cook until the water has evaporated.  As soon as the water has evaporated, turn the heat down to medium and monitor carefully.  The onions will caramelize quickly.  Don’t allow them to burn . This should take about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400°. 
  6. Beat the egg and a tablespoon of water in the small bowl.
  7. Unfold the pastry sheet onto the lightly floured work surface. 
  8. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg wash. 
  9. Top the pastry with the cheese.  Cover the cheese in the caramelized onion and thyme. Cover the onion with the crumbled bacon.
  10. Starting at a short side, roll the pastry up. Cut the roll into about ½ inch slices. 
  11. Put the wheels, cut-side down, onto the baking sheets.  You may need to re-shape them a little so that they are round.
  12. Brush the wheels with the egg wash.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes or until the wheels are golden brown. 
  14. Rest the wheels on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mediterranean Couscous

Couscous is a good alternative to rice.  Popular in the Middle East and North Africa, couscous is one of the oldest varieties of pasta.  It is simple to make and instant couscous can be ready in 7 minutes. Because it doesn’t have much flavor on its own, it can be used as a blank slate and flavored by adding different herbs and vegetables.  Couscous can be used as a side dish or an entrée.

Serves: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 3 minutes, Rest 5 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a bowl of cold water, a pot with a lid, a fork, and a serving bowl

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ¼ cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 ¼ cups instant couscous
  • ¼ cup sliced leeks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped kalamata olives

  1. Slice the leek and clean it in the bowl of water. Drain thoroughly.
  2. Crush the garlic.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter on low with the leeks and garlic. Sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant.  This should take a minute.
  4. Add the stock, parsley, and seasoning and bring to a boil.
  5. Stir in the couscous.  Cover and remove from the heat.  Allow the couscous to rest for 5 minutes WITHOUT REMOVING THE LID.
  6. Stir the remaining ingredients and the couscous into a serving dish.  Do not over stir or the couscous will become gummy.

Serve warm or cold.  Toss in shrimp or chicken for a meal.  I topped it with Middle Eastern Meatballs and warm Yogurt Sauce.

Middle Eastern Meatballs

I was experimenting with goat cheese and this idea jumped into my head.  So,   I made these meatballs for a dinner party and they were very popular.  My very picky husband even requested that I make them again.

I might try them later incorporating some ground lamb.  Be forewarned that they splatter more than regular meatballs.  I think the liquid in the cheese causes this.  I have a splatter guard.  Something worth purchasing.

Servings: 25 meatballs
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a mixing bowl, un-powdered latex gloves, a large heavy pan, a fork
Time:  Prep:  10 minutes    Cooking: 1 hour

 
Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 8 ounces chèvre (goat cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ½ tablespoon Greek seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Stock
  1. This is easiest to do with your hands.  Put on latex gloves.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl and mix with your hands. Mash the cheese up and mix it in well.  Make golf ball sized meat balls. Make sure to compact the meatballs, because the cheese will make them fall apart.
  3. Heat the oil on medium.  Brown the meatballs on all sides for about 8 minutes.  Turn it ¼ time every 2 minutes. The meatballs will splatter because of the cheese.
  4. Drain the fat from the pan.
  5. Add enough liquid to the pan to cover the meatballs about 2/3 of the way.  Simmer them for about 45 minutes.  Check the largest meatball to see if it is done. 



Serve over Mediterranean Couscous with warm Yogurt Sauce.

Yogurt Sauce

I love Middle Eastern food.  This sauce isn't necessarily a Middle Eastern recipe but it is inspired by the cuisine of the region. Yogurt is a common ingredient in sauces and dips, as are garlic and dill.  This can be used on warm Middle Eastern Meatballs, as a dipping sauce for chicken kabobs, or just on toasted slices of pita. 



Servings:  Makes 1 ½ cups
Time:  5 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring cups and spoons, a garlic press, a cutting board and a knife, a sauce pan, and a whisk

 
Ingredients:
  • 12 ounces Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  1. Chop the dill and crush the garlic. Set aside.
  2. Gently melt the butter over low heat.
  3. Whisk in the yogurt, dill, and garlic.
  4. Heat until warm, making sure not to allow the yogurt to scald.
  5. Serve warm.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turkey Croquettes

Do you have turkey and stuffing leftover and cannot bring yourself to eat another turkey sandwich?  Turkey croquettes are easy to make and something different to do with your remaining Thanksgiving feast.


Servings: 20-25 pieces, serves 4-6
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Refrigerate: 2 hours; Cooking:  2-5 minutes
Hardware:  A food processor, measuring cups, a mixing bowl, an airtight container, a deep skillet,  a large metal slotted spoon, a large flat bowl (for dredging), a plate, paper towels, an oil thermometer

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups cooked turkey
  • 2 cups leftover stuffing
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups bread crumbs
  • Enough oil to deep fry
  • Gravy
  1. Place a paper towel on the plate. Set aside.
  2. Put the turkey in the food processor and grind it up.
  3. Beat the egg.  Mash up the stuffing until it is doughy.
  4. Mix the ground turkey, stuffing, and egg.
  5. Refrigerate the mixture for 2 hours.
  6. Place the bread crumbs in the bowl. Heat the oil to 370˚.  If the oil isn’t hot enough the croquettes will be greasy.
  7. Roll the mixture into golf balled sized pieces.  Then roll the croquettes in the bread crumbs.
  8. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. You may need to fry in batches and can keep them warm in the oven on the lowest setting.
  10. Serve with leftover gravy with mashed potatoes for dinner.  Or heat up some cranberry sauce for dipping and serve as a snack.

You can make the croquettes into patties, instead of balls.  If you make patties, pan fry them.  You can also use chicken

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cream of Broccoli Soup

The other day it was raining out and a little dreary.  I wanted cream of broccoli soup and a cheese sandwich.  We didn’t have cream of broccoli soup, but we did have a huge head of broccoli.  I figured how hard can it be to make soup?  Not hard at all, it turns out.








Servings: 6-8
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 20-30 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a large soup pot, an immersion blender (or blender, or food processor), a small skillet, a whisk, a wooden spoon, a ladle, serving bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 medium onion (½ cup chopped)
  • 2 + 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups of chopped broccoli
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • S& P to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and croutons for garnish

  1. Wash and chop the broccoli.  I use the stems, too.  Just make sure to cut the stem into small pieces. Set aside.
  2. Dice the onion and celery. 
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter on medium high and sauté the onions and celery until the onions are translucent.  Stir occasionally.  Everything should be bubbling, bot browning. This should take about five minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli and broth and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10-15 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
  5. Using the immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.  You can use a regular blender, but make sure that you tilt the lid or hold it down with a tea towel.  If you don’t the lid will blow off and make a big mess.
  6. In the small skillet heat the remaining butter and flour on medium.  You are now making a roux. Whisk constantly until the roux is a golden, buttery color. Stir the roux into the soup.  Boil for another minute or two.
  7. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the half and half.  S&P to taste.
  8. To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls.  Top with cheddar cheese and 5-6 croutons

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spicy Sausage Balls

More appetizers!  These are delicious.  They are also easy to make and require little time or skill. I have had something similar made with Bisquick.  I didn’t like those as they were dry and pasty.  I think the cornflake crumbs make the difference with these.  The crumbs are slightly sweet and create a more pleasing texture.  You can make these ahead of time and freeze the uncooked balls.  Allow to thaw before baking.

Servings: 20-25 balls
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a mixing bowl, un-powdered latex gloves, non-stick foil, a baking sheet, a paper towel covered plate.
Time:  Prep:  10 minutes    Cooking: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound spicy bulk breakfast sausage
  • ½ cup cornflake crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  1. Line the baking sheet with foil.  Pre-heat the oven to 375˚.
  2. This is easiest to do with your hands.  Put on the latex gloves. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl and mix with your hands. Make balls using 1 tablespoon of the mixture.
  3. Place the balls, not touching, on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Place the balls on the plate to drain. 
  5. Serve warm. You can offer your guests warm pepper jelly, BBQ sauce, or chili sauce for dipping. 
Spicy Sausage Balls

Jalapeño Bites

Football party, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Tuesday afternoon. You don't really need an excuse to make Jalapeño Bites.  This is a fun take on jalapeño poppers.


Jalapeño Bites are a fun take on jalapeño poppers.


Servings: 15-20 pieces
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes   Cooking:  15-20 minutes
Hardware:  A cutting board and knife, a skillet, a deep skillet, a mixing bowl, a small bowl, a large metal slotted spoon, a plate, paper towels, a spoon, a work surface, an oil thermometer

Ingredients:
  • 3 pieces of bacon
  • 1-8oz package cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup pickled jalapeños
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • water
  • 15-20 wonton wrappers
  • 1-2 cups of oil for frying
  1. Cook the bacon until it is crispy.  Set aside.
  2. Place a paper towel on the plate. Set aside.
  3. Chop the jalapeño peppers as small as possible.
  4. Mix the cream cheese, crumbled bacon, jalapeños, and cheddar cheese together.
  5. Put a little water in the bowl.
  6. Put enough oil in the skillet to fill it about half way up.  Pre-heat the oil until it is 350°.  You will want to monitor the oil temperature and keep it between 320° and 350°.
  7. While the oil is heating, place a wonton wrapper with one corner closest to you as if you were looking at a diamond.
  8. Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture in the center of the wrapper.
  9. Fold two of the edges over, now you sort of have a tube.
  10. Fold the remaining corners in toward the first two.  Pinch the edges to seal, using a little water to act as glue.  Be careful not to tear the wrapper. (If you do, use the smallest piece of wrapper you can and a little water to patch the hole.) Make sure the bite is completely sealed.
  11. Place the bites in a single layer in the hot oil. 
  12. Allow the bites to cook for about 2 minutes and then turn.
  13. The bites are done as soon as they become golden brown.
  14. As they finish, place them on the plate to drain.  You can place the plate in the oven on the lowest setting to keep them warm.
  15. Serve right away.



Enchinadas

Football season is again upon us.  My husband can spend an entire day in front of the TV watching games.  While I don’t enjoy football, I do take advantage and use the games as an excuse to invite people over.  Whenever we have a football watching party, I like to make snack foods so that our guests don’t have to miss any of the game. 

These were very popular.  I call them Enchinadas, because they are empanadas with enchilada filling.  Serve them with a salad and a side of beans and rice to make them a meal. 
Servings:  18-pieces
Time:  Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 30-35 minutes
Hardware:   measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a skillet, a wooden spoon, a can opener, a rolling pin, 2 small bowls, a round cookie cutter, a pastry brush, non-stick foil, a baking sheet

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2-9 inch refrigerated  pie crusts
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup diced onions
  • 4 ounces can diced green chiles
  • 1-10 ounce can enchilada sauce (or you can make your own)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  1. Line the baking sheet with non-stick foil.  Place the milk in one of the bowls and a little water in the other small bowl. Set everything aside.
  2. Allow the pie crust to rise to room temperature (about 15 minutes) and pre-heat the oven to 375˚.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the ground beef, onions, and diced onions over medium high heat. Stir and crumble until the meat is no longer pink, this should take about 7 minutes. 
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the heat and stir in ½ of the enchilada sauce and the cheese.
  5. Working with one crust at a time, roll out the pie crust out on a lightly floured surface.  Roll it until it out until it is an inch or so larger. 
  6. Use a cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or a large, round glass dipped in four to get four or five circles.  Then reroll the left over dough to get three or four more circles.  Don’t reroll the scraps a send time, because the finished product will be too tough.
  7. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto each circle. 
  8. Use your fingers to moisten the edges of the dough with water, then fold the dough over the filling and press the edges together to seal. Crimp the edge with a fork, making sure that the Enchinada is completely sealed. 
  9. Transfer each one onto the prepared baking sheet and poke with the tip of a knife to vent.
  10. Brush each one with milk.
  11. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Serve warm with the remaining enchilada sauce and sour cream for dipping.


Enchilada+Empanada=Enchinadas=Delicious

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pepperoni Rolls

School started recently, football season is here, and the holidays are right around the corner.  I like to keep refrigerated crescent rolls and biscuits on hand so that I can make snacks in a hurry. These Pepperoni Rolls are very easy and popular.  They are always gobbled up.

When making the rolls, just be careful that the dough is pinched closed completely or you’ll have a goopy mess.  You could add crumbled bacon, chopped olives, or any of your other favorite pizza toppings.  Just make sure that everything is cooked and room temperature before you add it to the roll.

Servings: 8 appetizers
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; cooking:  12-15 minutes
Hardware: knives and a cutting board, measuring spoons, a small microwave safe bowl, a pastry brush, and a baking sheet



Ingredients:
  • A roll of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 16 slices of pepperoni
  • 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • Marinara sauce for dipping  
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F
  2. Chop the pepperoni into small pieces.  Divide the mozzarella into ½ ounce pieces
  3. Open the dough and separate it into 8 triangles.  Place ½ ounce mozzarella and two chopped pepperoni slices along the side opposite the point.  Roll up each crescent as usual toward the triangle tip. Fold the open ends under and pinch closed, so that when you bake the rolls the cheese doesn’t leak out.
  4. Place each roll on the baking sheet and bake for 12- 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. While the rolls are baking, melt the butter.  Stir in the garlic powder.
  6. As soon as you remove the rolls from the oven, brush with garlic butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  7. Allow to rest for 2 minutes and serve with marinara sauce

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I have been writing this blog for over three years now.  All of the recipes here but Shoepeg Corn Casserole and Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Cake are my own creations.  The challenge of designing new recipes is often steep.  So at times instead of trying to generate something new, I try to make something old by just using my intuition. That is what I did this week.

I love Sweet and Sour Meatballs.  I wanted see if I could make it with just my kitchen smarts and my taste buds' superpowers. So we went to an Asia buffet and I really studied the Sweet and Sour Sauce.  I knew that the sweet came from pineapple juice and figured the sour must come from vinegar.  But where did that day-glo pink color come from?  Ketchup.

So this is my Sweet and Sour Meatballs.  I am really happy with this.  I don’t kow if this is authentic, but it tastes good.

Servings: 4-6
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a mixing bowl, un-powdered latex gloves, a large heavy pan, a slotted spoon, a paper towel covered plate, knives and a cutting board, a whisk, a small bowl Time:  Prep:  15 minutes    Cooking: 40 minutes

Meatball ingredients:
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
Sauce Ingredients:
  • ⅔ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups hot cooked rice

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  1. Put on latex gloves and combine all the meatball ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl and mix with your hands. Make golf ball sized meat balls.
  2. Heat the oil on medium.  Brown the meatballs on all sides for about 8 minutes.  Turn it ¼ time every 2 minutes.
  3. While the meatballs are cooking wash the bell pepper and cut into long thin strips.  Roughly slice the green onion.  Set aside.
  4. Move the meatballs to the paper towel covered plate.  Rinse the pan.
  5. In the rinsed pan whisk together the juice, sugar, vinegar, honey, ketchup, and soy sauce over medium high heat. Whisk until everything is incorporated and the liquid is boiling.  Add the meatballs, pineapple, pepper, and green onion.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, turning the meatball halfway through.
  6. Dissolve the cornstarch in the small bowl with the water.  Stir the cornstarch-y water into the sauce.  Allow it to boil for another 2-3 minutes or until it thickens.
  7. Serve immediately over hot rice.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hummus

School starts here on Monday.  I try to pack our lunches every day.  Packing lunch saves money and assures that we are eating well, but it is difficult to keep a bagged lunch interesting.  Really, there are only so many sandwiches you can make.  Packing different vegetables, fruits, and crackers with spreads and dips can make lunch fun.  Cream cheese mixed with basil pesto can be packed with bell pepper sticks or shredded, whole wheat snack crackers. Apples and graham crackers taste great with peanut butter and a little honey. 

Hummus is perfectly paired with pretzel chips, cucumbers, or carrots.  Hummus can also be used as a sandwich spread.  Smear a pita pocket with hummus and then stuff it with cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, and feta cheese.  You will have a tasty, healthy, and different sort of sandwich in your lunch pail.  If lunch is fun and interesting you, your kids, and your other will be more likely to eat it and less likely to grab an unhealthy snack.

Servings:  2 ½ cups
Time:  10 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring cups and spoons, a food grinder (processor or blender), a can opener, a rubber spatula, and an airtight container

Ingredients:
  • 2-15 ounce cans of chickpeas
  • ⅓ cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons liquid from the chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • S&P to taste
  • Paprika
  1. Open and drain the chickpeas, saving 2 tablespoons of the liquid.  Rinse the chickpeas a few times and drain thoroughly. 
  2. Peel the garlic and place it in the food processor with the olive oil and lemon juice.  Process until it is completely smooth.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients, except for the teaspoon of olive oil, in the food processor and grind until it is the consistency of dry peanut butter. Add S&P to taste. 
  4. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.  It will keep for 3-4 days. Serve straight from the fridge or at room temperature. When serving create a little swirl or well in the center of the hummus.  Pour the remaining olive oil into the swirl/well and sprinkle with paprika.  Offer your guests pita chips, crackers, or fresh veggies for dipping.

Hummus

After you master the basic recipe, you can play around with hummus.  Replace 1 tablespoon of the reserved liquid with ½ of a roasted red pepper for red pepper hummus.  If you replace all of the reserved liquid with lemon juice and add the zest from one lemon, you have lemon hummus.  You can also double the amount of garlic for garlic hummus.  Throw in a handful of black olives with the garlic and make sure to puree completely and then follow the rest of the instructions for olive hummus. Spicy hummus can be made by replacing some of the chickpea liquid with hot sauce and adding cayenne pepper to the recipe.  You can even use different beans.  You can use cannellini beans, yellow lentils, or black beans (don’t use tahini with the black beans and add some cumin).  So if you are imaginative and adventurous, hummus will never get boring.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lemon, Dill Tilapia

We do not eat any meat on Monday and I try to serve fish or seafood at least twice a week.  By cutting back on the amount of red meat that we eat, I hope that I am lowering our risk of heart failure and stroke.  Also, serving seafood, fish, and vegetarian meals, along with red meat helps to keep dinner interesting.

I had to learn to like fish.  A decade ago, when I was trying to find a fish that I would eat, my husband suggested tilapia because it isn't too 'fishy.' This is the very first fish recipe that I ever created. It is fast and simple. The dill, lemon, and butter complement one another and the fish. 

In time I learned to like fish.  For this recipe, I use dill grown in our herb garden,  lemons from the Farmers' Market, and tilapia farmed in Florida, so I can feel good about not just our health, but the heatlh of our community.  If you have picky eaters, this is a fish recipe that they might be willing to try.

Servings: 4-6
Time:    Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 15 Minutes
Hardware:  paper towels, measuring spoons, a knife, a baking sheet, foil, and a metal spatula

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound tilapia
  • 4 large lemons
  • 8 sprigs of fresh dill
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ stick very cold butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Line the baking sheet with foil.
  3. Rinse the fish in clean water and pat dry.  Cut into serving sizes.
  4. Zest and juice one of the lemons.
  5. Slice the butter into thin pats.
  6. Wash the dill and remove it from the stems.
  7. Wash and slice the remaining lemons. Remove any seeds
  8. Place the fish onto the prepared baking sheet. 
  9. Sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Lay half the lemons, half the dill, and half  the butter on the fish.   
  10. Bake the fish for 7 minutes and then carefully flip the fish with the spatula.
  11. Salt and pepper the other side of the fish.  Cover with the remaining lemons, dill, butter, lemon zest, and juice.
  12. Bake for 5-7 minutes on the second side depending on the thickness of the fillets.  Be careful to not over cook the fish.  It is done when it is opaque and flakes easily.

Serve with Curry Cream SauceOrzo Pilaf, and sliced cucumbers

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Penne Pasta in a Zesty Tomato Cheese Sauce

Here are the ingredients in Hamburger Helper Zesty Italian Dinner:

Enriched Pasta (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Corn Starch, Dried Tomato, Sugar, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Dried Onion, Spice, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Dried Garlic, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Beet Powder Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Soy Flour, Egg, Nonfat Milk

The nutrition label states that each  ⅓ cup serving has 710 mg of sodium which is 30% of the recommended intake for a day. That is just for ⅓ cup.

This is my recipe for Penne Pasta in a Zesty Tomato Cheese Sauce.  My recipe has less sodium and no dextrose, maltodextrin, or partially hydrogentated soybean oil.  You can control the amount of fat in my recipe by replacing the Italian sausage with low fat hamburger.  You can also use whole wheat pasta and low fat cheese.  I threw in a chopped up fresh tomato with the pasta.  You could also add some cooked broccoli with the cheese.   If you aren't into spicy food, just eliminate the pepper flakes.  This recipe is just as easy to make as hamburger helper, but much healthier and tastier.

Servings: 6-8
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a can opener, a large pot or skillet with a lid, a wooden spoon,
Time:  Prep time: 5 minutes, cook time: 20 minutes, rest: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1-14 ounce can low sodium tomatoes
  • 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 cups shredded provolone cheese
  1. Chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Heat the olive oil on medium high.
  3. Remove the sausage from its casing.  Cook and crumble the sausage with the onion and garlic.  This should take about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, broth, milk, Italian seasoning, cornstarch, and pepper flakes to the pot.  Stir and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
  5. Add the pasta and allow it to return to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer and cover.  Cook for 11-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Stir in the cheese and remove from the heat.  Allow the pasta to rest for 5-7 minutes, uncovered.  The sauce should thicken while standing.




Serve with a Caesar salad. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

10 Ideas for Deli Chicken Tenders

I try to cook most of my food from scratch-better for our health, better for our wallet, and in-line with my food philosophy.  However, these past few weeks have been insanely busy for me as happens sometimes in life.  When I am completely out of time, I am tempted to grab a burger.  Instead I head to my grocers’ deli and grab some chicken tenders and a few other ingredients.  This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, healthy, but healthier than a burger and fries.  If you keep your kitchen stocked you should only need to grab fresh veggies to complete these complete meals.  None of these meals takes more than 10 minutes of active time.  And when you have more time, you can make all of these from scratch. 

*If you are too busy to cook bacon, you can substitute precooked bacon or used bacon pieces that are usually found with croutonson the salad dressing aisle. 



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Quick Chicken Parmesan

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes; Cooking:  15 minutes
Hardware: 11x7 baking dish, measuring cups

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 1 large jar spaghetti sauce
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • pre-washed green salad & Italian salad dressing
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Place the chicken tenders evenly spaced out into the pan.  Lay a slice of cheese onto each tender.  Pour the sauce into the pan, spreading it out evenly and covering the chicken.  Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the sauce.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
  3. While the chicken is baking, prepare the spaghetti according to package directions.
  4. Serve the chicken Parmesan over the spaghetti.  Open a pre-washed green salad.
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Greek Pita Pockets

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 4 pita pockets
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 large tomato
  • ¼ cup olives
  • ¼ cup Greek salad dressing
  • 6 ounces feta cheese
  • hummus and pretzel chips
  1. Slice the tenders into bite size pieces.
  2. Peel and chop the cucumber.  Roughly chop the tomato.
  3. Divide the chicken and veggies equally among the pita pockets.  Top with salad dressing and cheese.
  4. Serve with a side of hummus and pretzel chips.
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 California Chicken Salad
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes,  Cook time: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups, a skillet, a paper towel covered plate, and a fork
California Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
  • 4 slices of bacon*
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 green onions
  • ⅓ cup Ranch salad dressing
  • 4 flat breads
  1. Fry the bacon until it is crispy.  Drain it on the paper towel covered plate.
  2. While the bacon is frying, chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  3. Roughly chop the veggies.
  4. Divide the chicken and veggies among the flat breads.
  5. Top the salad with salad dressing and crumbled bacon.

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Chicken Faust
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Cooking: 5 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knife, measuring cups and spoons, 8x8 baking dish, a bowl, and a whisk

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • ¼ cup pickled jalapeños
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 package of microwavable ready rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
  • Chicken Faust
  • pre-washed green salad & salad dressing
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.  
  2. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Spread the chicken evenly into the pan.  Sprinkle with the cheese and then the pickled jalapeños.  Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
  3. While the Faust is baking, microwave the rice according to package directions.
  4. Whisk the sour cream and milk together.
  5. Top the rice with the Faust and then with the sour cream sauce. 
  6. Serve with a pre-washed bagged side salad.

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Buffalo Chicken Wraps
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes, Microwave time: 6 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups, a large mixing bowl

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • ½ cup Buffalo sauce
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded cabbage (used to make slaw)
  • ¼ cup blue cheese salad dressing
  • 4 whole wheat wraps
  • 1 bag microwaveable whole kernel corn
  1. Microwave the corn according to package instructions
  2. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Toss the chicken with the Buffalo sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  3. Divide the chicken and cabbage evenly among the wraps. Top with salad dressing.
  4. Fold the bottom of the wrap up over the filling.   Fold one side over the bottom fold and then roll the wrap up.
  5. Serve immediately with a side of corn.
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BBQ Chicken Salad

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups, a large mixing bowl, a can opener, a bowl and a whisk

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • ½ cup +¼ cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 bag pre-washed American salad greens
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 small bag pre-shredded carrots
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 single serving size can of corn
  • ¼ cup Ranch salad dressing
  • ½ cup French fried onions (such as Durkee)
  • ¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Toss the chicken with ½ cup of the BBQ sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  2. Drain the corn.
  3. Wash and chop the tomatoes.  Slice the onions.
  4. Toss the salad greens with the chicken, corn, tomatoes, carrots, and sliced onions. 
  5. Whisk together the Ranch dressing and remaining BBQ sauce. 
  6. Top the salad with the dressing, French fried onions, and shredded cheese.
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Chicken Nachos

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Cooking: 5 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, a can opener, measuring cups, a baking sheet, foil, a large serving plate

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 1-14 ounce bag tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded lettuce
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • Cooking spray
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450°. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spray the foil.
  2. Chop the chicken into small bite sized pieces. 
  3. Drain and rinse the black beans.  Drain them again, thoroughly.
  4. Spread ½ the tortilla chips on the baking sheet in an even layer. Sprinkle ½ of the cheese evenly over the chips. Spread the chicken and the beans evenly over the chips.  Finally top the chicken with the remaining chips and cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  5. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
  6. Place the nachos onto the serving plate.  Top with the remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately. 
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Asian-Inspired Chicken Stir Fry
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, microwave time: 7 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tender
  • 1 package of microwavable ready rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1 package of microwavable Asian stir fried vegetables
  • ½ cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  1. Microwave the rice and vegetables according to package directions.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking, chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Toss the chicken with the teriyaki sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  3. To serve, top the rice with the veggies and then with the chicken and teriyaki sauce.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Chicken Tacos

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; microwave time: 7 minutes
Hardware: a baking sheet, cutting board and knives, measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl, a can opener

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • ½ cup + ¼ cup taco sauce
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded lettuce
  • 2 green onions
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 8 hard-shelled corn tacos
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can seasoned black beans
  • 1 package of microwavable ready rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
  1. Microwave the rice and beans according to package directions.
  2. Heat the shells according to package directions.
  3. Chop the chicken into small pieces.  Toss the chicken with ½ cup of the taco sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  4. Wash the veggies. Chop and seed the tomatoes. Slice the green onions.
  5. Divide the chicken among the taco shells.
  6. Divide the veggies evenly among the shells.
  7. Top the tacos with the remaining sauce, cheese, and sour cream.
  8. Serve with a side of black beans and rice.
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Chicken Club Sandwich

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, cook time: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring spoons, a skillet, a paper towel covered plate, and a fork

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 6 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon*
  • 1 large tomato
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded lettuce
  • 4 hoagie rolls
  • pretzel chips
  1. Cut the bacon strips in half.  Fry until it is crispy.  Drain it on the paper towel covered plate.
  2. Slice the tomato. Cut two of the chicken tenders in half.
  3. Spread the rolls with mustard.  Divide the chicken evenly among the rolls.  Top each sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and bacon halves.
  4. Serve with a side of pretzel chips.