Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fudge Pops in the Zoku

I received a Zoku ice pop maker for Christmas.  So far, I have only used it one time, but I already love it!  It freezes pops in about 7 minutes and they are very easy to remove from the molds.  I know cold winter weather does not inspire many to eat ice pops, but my family loves frozen treats year round!

I made a Gourmet magazine recipe I found for frozen fudge pops.  They tasted just like fudge pops should taste- creamy and chocolatey.  These can be made in any pop mold, but the total time increases from about 20 minutes to 24 hours. 

Here is how I made them:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tab dark corn syrup
6 Tab unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan, heat milk, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder over medium heat.  Stir until sugar and cocoa powder have dissolved.  Cool to room temperature and pour into pop molds and freeze until firm. 
If using traditional molds:  Freeze 30 minutes.  Insert sticks and freeze until firm, about 24 hours.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Honey Mustard Chicken Kabobs

Jacob loves eating things on a stick, so kabobs are a great way to get him to eat his meat and vegetables.  Last night, I made kabobs in the broiler.  The chicken, onion, mushroom, and bell pepper went great with rice and honey mustard.  We decided this would go well with just about any sauce.  I plan to make it again and experiment.

Here is how I made it last night:

1/4 cup honey mustard, plus more for serving (not dressing, just "honey mustard")
3 Tab lemon juice
3 Tab olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 lb button mushrooms
1 large yellow onion, cut into eight large chunks and broken apart
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2" pieces
cooked brown rice

If using bamboo skewers, soak in water 20-30 minutes to prevent burning. 
Preheat broiler.  Prepare two large baking sheets by covering them with foil and spraying with non-stick spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together honey mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Thread chicken, mushrooms, onion, and peppers onto skewers.  Brush with honey mustard mixture.  Place under broiler and broil until chicken is cooked and veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. 
Serve with rice and honey mustard on the side.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Tonight, we all enjoyed some surprisingly good stuffed peppers.  Roasting the peppers made them tender and sweet.   They were stuffed with a cheesy veggie and rice mixture. 

The recipe calls for cooking the peppers in a slow cooker for about 4 hours, but, according to a review on the Taste of Home website,  they may also be cooked in a 425 degree oven for about half an hour.  (When trying a recipe, always read the reviews- they are usually very helpful and informative.)

Here is how I made the recipe:

6 large sweet peppers (red, yellow, and orange)
2 cups cooked brown rice
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup cubed Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 tsp basil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup tomato sauce, seasoned with pepper, basil, and oregano
1/2 cup water
2 Tab grated Parmesan cheese

Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine rice, tomatoes, corn, onion, beans, Monterey Jack cheese, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Spoon into peppers. 
Combine tomato sauce and water.  Pour half into slow cooker.  Add the stuffed pepper.  Top with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with 2 Tab Parmesan. 
Cover and cook on high about 3 hours, or until peppers are tender. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Curried Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole

I refused to go to the grocery store for a third time in three days, so I turned to the ingredients search on  I entered in "chicken", "brown rice", and "tomatoes" and found a recipe for curried chicken and brown rice casserole.   It tasted really good.  I liked the spicy curry flavor on the chicken and brown rice, and I loved that it cooks all together in the oven.  Easy!  I was a bit skeptical of the raisins, but they blended beautifully with the spice.

Here is how I made it:

1/2 of the tomatoes from a 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes and all the juice
3/4 cup brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tab lemon juice
3 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients.  Transfer to a casserole dish.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chicken and Sausage Creole

We had some friends over for supper and we had this recipe from Southern Living's new cookbook, 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern.  It was an easy and unique one-pot main dish that I plan to make again.  We served this with hot sauce.

Here is how I made it:

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 yellow onion
a handful of celery
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water (at least 6 cups) with onion, celery, and a dash of salt to a boil.  Add chicken and boil until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Remove from chicken and let rest until cool enough to handle; cut into small pieces.  Drain and reserve cooking liquid.

1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain brown rice
1/2 lb smoked turkey sausage, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped and seeded
2 garlic cloves
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
dash of red pepper flakes

Combine rice and 3 1/2 cups cooking liquid from chicken in a rice cooker and cook.
Meanwhile, saute sausage, onion, celery, pepper, and garlic in a large dutch oven over medium high heat about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  Add chicken, tomatoes, salt, chili powder, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid from chicken.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove bay leaves and serve over rice.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thick and Soft Pizza Crust

A few nights ago, I made the pizza crust that my mom loves to make.  It is thick and cooks up soft.  Grease your pan with a bit of olive oil for a crispy outer layer.  We topped ours with roasted bell pepper, spinach, olives, and Parmesan.

1/2 cup warm water
1 Tab yeast
1 1/2 Tab sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tab salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tab olive oil
1 cup warm water

In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and sugar.  Let rise about 10 minutes, or until foamy.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, Parmesan, and olive oil.  Add yeast mixture and enough warm water to make a stiff dough.  Stir well to combine and stir some more to "knead." 
Cover with a clean dish cloth and let rise about 45 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread dough on a greased sheet and add toppings.  Bake about 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is melted. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Chili

This chili was even better than I remembered- the spicy/smoky flavors pair perfectly with the sweet taste of sweet potato, red bell pepper, and orange.  The ingredients are very healthy and make a very filling meal. 

Here is how I made it:

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15oz can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tab chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice

Place sweet potato chunks in crock pot and dump remaining ingredients on top.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
If you are like Art and want the sweet potato to mash in with everything else when stirred, cook it longer.
We put Chipotle Tabasco sauce on ours and it was perfect. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roast Chicken Breast with Potatoes, Green Beans and Mustard Pan Sauce

I wanted to try Bon Appetit's "holiday feast that comes together in just two hours."  The pictures looked awesome.  And, I loved the idea of cooking an entire meal with one recipe. 

But, I couldn't find boneless turkey breast.  So, I substituted boneless, skinless chicken breasts and adjusted the cooking time a bit.  

The chicken came out moist and flavorful.  The potatoes and green beans were perfect sides.  The leeks didn't seem to add any flavor to the dish, so next time I'll save a few minutes (and a few bucks!) and leave them out.  I spent a little extra and bought the baby potatoes, but next time I'll just get new potatoes and quarter them.  The mustard pan sauce was a great way to up the flavor- I really enjoyed the combination of tarragon and honey mustard. 

Here is how I made the dish:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
4 Tab honey mustard, divided
5 Tab chopped fresh tarragon, divided
2 1/2 Tab olive oil, divided
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2lb baby potatoes
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 large)
2 8oz packages trimmed French green beans
1 cup low salt chicken broth

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
Coat 2 heavy large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray.  Whisk 2 Tab mustard, 2 Tab tarragon, and 1 Tab olive oil in a small bowl.  Spread on chicken breasts in a pie plate to coat and refrigerate 30 minutes. 
Toss potatoes, leeks, 1 Tab tarragon, and 1 Tab oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread on baking sheet and place potatoes in top third of oven.  Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. 
Put chicken on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in bottom third of oven and roast for 10 minutes. 
Toss beans with 1 Tab tarragon and 1/2 Tab oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread beans around chicken; pour broth over beans.  Return chicken and beans to oven and continue roasting until chicken is cooked through, about 15 more minutes. 
Remove chicken and beans to a platter.  Whisk 2 Tab mustard into chicken juices in baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon some sauce over chicken and sprinkle with 1 Tab tarragon.  Serve with remaining sauce on side.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Slow Cooker Squash Casserole and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chile Cream

I have experimented with a few Thanksgiving-ish recipes this week.  Last night's squash casserole and roasted sweet potatoes were both very good.  I would happily serve (and eat) these on Thanksgiving or anytime.  And, both recipes were quick and easy to prepare.

This month's issue of Southern Living included a recipe for squash casserole that is cooked in a slow cooker.  It is full of tasty squash, zucchini, and cheese.  I spent about 30 minutes putting everything together. 

I was briefly disappointed when I saw that the final 30 minutes of cooking with the lid removed had produced a dark brown crust on the bottom of my casserole.   But, this turned out to be really tasty- it was like a cheese crust to the light, souffle-like casserole.

  2 lb yellow squash, sliced
  2 lb zucchini, sliced
  1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs
  1 (8oz) container sour cream (I used reduced fat)
  2 large eggs, beaten
  1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  1/2 tsp pepper
  3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

  Cook first three ingredients in boiling water to cover in a large pot for 10-12 minutes or just until tender.  Drain well in a colander, pressing squash with a spoon. 
Stir together squash mixture, Cheddar, and next 5 ingredients.  Spoon into a lightly greased slow cooker.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.
Cover and cook on low 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until center is set and edges are golden brown.  Uncover and cook 30 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes.

I am always excited to try sweet potato recipes.  This month's issue of Bon Appetit included a recipe for sweet potato wedges with smoked chile cream.  This recipe is a unique and healthy way to serve sweet potatoes without masking their flavor with sugar and marshmallows (not that this is always a bad way to serve them).  And, you get to eat the nutrient-rich skin.  I'm addicted.

  1/3 cup sour cream
  3 Tab finely chopped green onion tops
  2 tsp chipotle hot pepper sauce
  2 tsp fresh lime juice
  3 lb sweet potatoes, scrubbed, cut lengthwise into 3/4" wide wedges with skin
  3 Tab olive oil
  1 1/2 tsp cumin

  Whisk sour cream, 1 Tab green onion tops, chipotle hot sauce, and the lime juice in a small bowl.  Cover and chill.  (This can be made 1 day ahead.)
Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine sweet potatoes with oil and cumin in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Arrange potatoes, cut sides down, on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until tender and browned in spots, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place potato wedges on a large platter and drizzle with chile cream.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tab green onion tops.  (My chile cream was too thick to drizzle, so I just served it on the side.)

Friday, November 12, 2010


I tried a new recipe for tabouli.  The tons of fresh herbs made it very appealing, but also very expensive since I don't grow my own.  This recipe has more herbs and less olive oil than the recipe I had previously made.   Both were good. 

I found the tabouli recipe on the Epicurious app.  I served it with flat bread and hummus.  Here is the version I made:

1 cup bulgur wheat
2 Tab olive oil
2 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup diced red onion
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 Tab finely chopped fresh dill
3 Tab finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Bring water to a boil.  Stir together bulgur and 1 Tab olive oil in a heatproof bowl.  Add boiling water to cover.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes.  Drain, pressing out water and let cool to room temperature.
Transfer bulgur to a large bowl and toss with remaining 1 Tab olive oil and the rest of the ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Serve cold.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Double Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

I first made these as Valentine gifts for friends in 2004.  I had so much faith in the delicious looking recipe that I gave them out without first trying them.  So, the feedback I received was unexpected: people were blown away by these peanut butter chocolate treats.  I have been making them ever since.

And, now, you can, too!  These are like very soft bar cookies.  They are very easy to make in about 15 minutes. 

I found the recipe in a small cookbook published by the Southern Living cooking school in 2001. 

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 12oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugars, beating until smooth.  Add peanut butter and vanilla, beating until blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients.  Gradually add to butter mixture, beating on low speed until blended.  Fold in chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. 
Press dough into a greased and floured 13x9" pan. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars and serve.  Makes 2 dozen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles

We had pumpkin waffles for supper. 

I followed a recipe on that produced waffles with a custard-like taste.  The ratio of eggs, milk, pumpkin, and butter to flour is unusually high.  The thing I did not like was the way the waffles turned immediately limp and soggy when removed from the waffle iron.  Still, these were a unique and mostly enjoyable take on waffles.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a different pumpkin waffle recipe from Spark Recipes.  I was drawn to the convenience of making the batter the night before, and to the use of soy milk and wheat flour.  The texture and density of these reminded me of muffins in the shape of waffles. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fish Cakes

I turned our tilapia left-overs into fish cakes.  This was a good way to make the previous night's dinner into something new and exciting. 

cooked tilapia, flaked
garlic parsley couscous
pickled onions, diced
egg, beaten
1 Tab oil
lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Form fish mixture into small patties (1" diameter) and drop into hot oil.  Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute and flip.  Repeat with remaining fish mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lemon Tilapia with Garlic Couscous

My mom came up to visit us for a few days.  We had a great time with her.  For our supper last night, we had tilapia, couscous, and steamed broccoli.  I found the tilapia recipe in Everyday with Rachel Ray.  This was a flavorful and easy way to prepare frozen tilapia fillets.  The pan fried tilapia is served on a bed of yummy couscous and topped with pickled red onions.  The onions were Jacob's favorite part of the meal.

Here is how I made it:

      1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
      Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 1/2 lemon cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
      1/4 cup flour
      salt and pepper
      3 Tab extra virgin olive oil
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      2 cups chicken broth
     10oz plain couscous
     1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
     2 eggs
     4 5oz tilapia fillets

     In a small bowl, combine onion and the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
     In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 Tab olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.    
     Add chicken broth and season with salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in
     couscous and parsley.  Cover and let stand at least 5 minutes while you cook the fish.   
     In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 Tab water. In another shallow bowl, stir together flour and a
     generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. 
     In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tab olive oil over medium high.  Working in two batches, dip the
     fish in the egg and let excess drip off.  Dip in flour and turn to coat.  Cook in pan, turning once,
     until golden, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a platter and repeat with remaining fish. 
     Divide the couscous among four plates.  Arrange fish on top and sprinkle with pickled onions. 
     Serve with the lemon wedges.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rotini with Cheese and Broccoli

I tried Rachel Ray's recipe for cheesy mac and trees.  I liked the idea of using whole wheat rotini pasta and broccoli in macaroni and cheese.  Jacob loved this dish!  Art and I found it kind of bland- I just seasoned mine with salt and pepper and Art used hot sauce.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beef, Shiitake, and Snow Pea Stir-Fry

The stir-fry I made for supper last night was a success: easy prep (<30minutes), powerful flavors, and enough leftovers for lunch today.  I found the recipe in Bon Appetit and served it with brown rice.

Out of necessity, I made a few minor changes to the recipe:

1lb top sirloin steak, cut into 2" long, 1/4" thick slices
1 Tab olive oil
1 Tab minced peeled fresh ginger
1oz dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted according to package directions
8oz snow peas
1 cup cilantro leaves, divided
1 bunch green onions, sliced, divided
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

Season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high.  Add ginger and mushrooms and stir 3 minutes.  Add beef and stir until it browns but is still pink in the center, about 1 minute.  Add snow peas, half of cilantro and half of green onions; stir-fry 1 minute.  Stir in hoisin, chili-garlic sauce, and Chinese five-spice powder.  Saute until peas are crisp tender, 1 to 2 minutes.  Season to taste.  Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and green onions.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

I tried a recipe Mark Bittman published in Parents magazine for butternut squash soup.  Thanks to the short ingredient list and my sharp knife, it was easy to make.  The curry flavor was really strong- next time I'll start with 1 teaspoon curry powder instead of the 1 Tablespoon recommended in the recipe.  Otherwise, the soup had a sweet flavor and a thick, creamy texture.  I served it with a loaf of oatmeal bread.

Here is the version of Bittman's soup that I made:

2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tab curry powder (try 1 tsp and taste to see if you want to add more)

In a large pot over medium high heat.  Add onion and squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until veggies begin to soften- about 8 minutes.
Add water and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender- about 15 minutes. 
Puree the soup in a blender until smooth.  Return to pot and add milk and curry powder.  Season to taste.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Skillet White Beans, Tomatoes, Spinach and Fettucini

Last night I made an easy pasta recipe from  The dish is reminiscent of minestrone with the tomatoes, basil, and white beans.  It tastes great and comes together quickly.
Here is the version I made:

2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 package fresh baby spinach
dash red pepper flakes
dash basil
dash oregano
ground black pepper to taste
12 oz box whole wheat fettucini
6 Tab grated Parmesan

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium high.  Saute garlic 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes and beans and bring to a boil. 
Top with spinach and cover with lid.  Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Stir in spices.  Stir sauce into pasta and sprinkle with cheese.

Monday, October 25, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I used some of the leftover chicken from Friday on a pizza.  When I have barbecue pizza at restaurants, I always feel like the pizza needs a little something other than just chicken and cheese.  So I added a few things I had to the pizza.   The sweetness of the caramelized onions and the pineapple went great with the barbecue flavor.  I added the carrots to get a little extra veggie boost- the flavor just blended right in to everything else. 

1 pizza crust (try an oatmeal crust- it went great with these toppings!)
1 tsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes from a can
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup shredded carrot
8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until caramelized, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and barbecue sauce in a small sauce pan.  Heat over low until warmed through.
Spread sauce and toppings over pizza and cook about 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

BBQ Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, and Nectarine Cobbler

My neighbor told me her doctor just scheduled the delivery of her third child for Sunday morning.  So, I did what I always do when I want to help but am not sure how- I delivered a dessert. 

As soon as I heard the news this afternoon, I began my search for a dessert that could be made quickly with on-hand ingredients.  This led me to the nectarine cobbler recipe on  (I just happened to have a 4lb bag of nectarines.)  I baked the cobbler in two small dishes- one for the neighbors and one for us.  The nectarine filling was not as juicy as I would have liked, but the sweet biscuit topping was delicious.  I will probably make this again if I happen to have a bag of nectarines lying around. 
For our supper, I cooked a whole chicken with a jar of barbecue sauce in the crockpot.  It couldn't have been easier to make- I just placed the chicken in the pot, poured the sauce over it, then cooked it on low (I used the 8 hour setting on my crockpot).  Too bad it turned out a bit dry.  I think cooking it on the 10 hour setting for about 8 hours would have produced juicier meat.  But, I plan to use the left over chicken in something yummy for supper tomorrow- possibly soup or salad.

I also roasted broccoli florets tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  The broccoli turned out great! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nutrition Ed

So, what is "eating healthy," exactly?  We know we want to look good and we want our kids to be healthy.  But, knowing how to provide a family with healthy food is tough- actually doing so is even tougher.  Fad diets tell us eating bread will make us fat and popular media tells us food that is not organic and local will lead to the unspeakable.  Others categorize feeding your kid a meal consisting of chicken nuggets, fries, and apple juice from concentrate as child abuse.

Basic knowledge about topics such as daily caloric intake, portion sizes, and ingredients is essential to feeling good about ourselves and how we feed our families.  But, how do we educate ourselves? More importantly, how do we use that knowledge in a real way by incorporating it into our daily decisions without making ourselves crazy?

I'm sure many have a vague idea of what a balanced diet looks like.  A few might even have a clear idea.  We can take a step toward better health by investing a little time educating ourselves about foods and portion sizes and our bodies' needs.  I have put together a small list of a few resources I have found helpful.  Please, leave comments on any other good resources!  This list is by no means comprehensive.

Books to Buy or Check-Out from the Library:
Refined to Real Food - full of information on nutrition with practical, specific ways to integrate wholesome food into your family's diet

Eat This, Not That - thought-provoking info on restaurant food

Websites to Surf:
FDA's How to Understand and Use a Nutrition Label
The World's Healthiest Foods 
YMCA's Healthy Family Home

Portion sizes are an important part of a healthy diet.  Practice pouring a favorite cereal into a 3/4 cup measuring cup (or, whatever the suggested serving size) then, into the cereal bowl.  Pull 15 chips out of the bag and put them on the plate.  Doing this just one time for foods that you eat consistently makes learning to discern and serve the appropriate portion quick and easy. 

How to Not Go Crazy:
Know that not every meal and snack is going to be ideal.  Try to keep healthy food on hand to enable healthy snack options.  Plan out meals for the week and go grocery shopping in advance to avoid 5:00 tired and hungry "let's just go to the greasy Mexican place around the block for supper." 
Unless you are under strict instructions from a doctor, don't beat yourself up about food.  As long as you try to eat a reasonably well rounded diet, you should be okay.  Throw in some exercise and you are doing even better. 

Carden "unhealthy" eating secrets:  we take a walk to Baskin-Robbins every other Thursday,  Jacob eats about 5 Popsicle brand "Mighty Mini" popsicles a day (to compensate, I limit his juice to 4oz or less every day). 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Best Banana Bread

I cannot remember ever making banana bread that was this good.  This was so moist it was like banana bread pudding.  The white chocolate baking chips melted into the bread to make little sweet spots. 

1/2 cup honey
1 cup light butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tab baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white chocolate baking chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
Using a stand mixer, cream together butter and honey.  Mix in eggs.  Stir in bananas and yogurt.  Stir in flour mixture to combine.  Stir in white chocolate baking chips.  Put in greased loaf pan and bake 50 minutes.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove onto wire rack to cool.  (If you are unable to wait until the loaf is cool, just know it will be a bit harder to cut into neat slices- not that this matters when you are devouring it alone in the kitchen...)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hoppin' John Stew and Okra Cornmeal Fritters

I took Jacob and Taylor Grace to the Memphis farmers' market Saturday.  Jacob loved it!  He enjoyed seeing all the people and grooving to the tunes of the band.  He admired the flowers at one stand so much the lady finally gave him one.  Taylor Grace seemed to enjoy riding around in the stroller and having people comment on her cuteness.  I loved all the fresh produce, bread, and meat.

As soon as we got our goods back home, we enjoyed a thick slice of sourdough bread with some muscadine jelly.  Mmmm.  Later, I used half of my okra to make okra fritters.  This recipe looked tasty: it had bacon, okra, cornmeal, and buttermilk.  But, it turned out bland and unremarkable- a waste of perfectly good okra and bacon.  I will have to come up with a different way to use the rest of the okra.

I also made hoppin' john stew.  I saw the recipe in the "$10 Spot"section of Everyday with Rachel Ray.  I was initially skeptical because of the lack of bacon or ham hock.  But, I never missed it.  The soup was filling, healthy, and made a lot.  It was even better for lunch today since the flavors had more time to develop.  If you like hoppin' john, you will like hoppin' john stew.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup long-grain rice (I used brown)
  • One 32-ounce container (4 cups) vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch collard greens, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Two 15.5-ounce cans black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, collard greens and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, coarsely mash 1 cup black-eyed peas. Add them to the pot along with the remaining black-eyed peas and 3 cups water and simmer until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Delta Sky Club in Miami

Guest Post by Art Carden
I'm presenting a paper at a conference in Italy this weekend, and I agreed to guest post about my culinary adventures.  After a stop at the McDonald's at the airport in Miami, I decided (on the recommendation of my friend Bob Lawson) to spend the $50 for a one-day pass to the Delta Sky Club.  Since I had about a five-hour layover, I figured it would be worth it.  

It has been.  In addition to coffee, tea, and other beverages, I've been able to snack on fancy olives and enjoy their business center, which has nice little cubbies for people who need to get some work done.  It's been pretty cool.  Time to Skype with the family before (maybe) a nap and a trip to find my gate.

Fancy olives at Delta Sky Club in Miami.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Curry and Naan

Tonight I made Indian-style curry and naan.  I loved the intense flavor and spice of the vegetable curry paired with creamy yogurt and naan.  However, Jacob wouldn't touch the curry and Art didn't say anything about the food, which usually means he doesn't like it.  But, don't let that stop you from trying this spicy and healthy recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  It is the most flavorful way to eat cauliflower, chickpeas, potatoes, and peas I have ever experienced.

All those veggies require some serious chopping.  Conveniently, my new Pampered Chef knives arrived today.  These knives are amazing!  The only other time I can remember being this excited about kitchen tools was when I got my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  Using sturdy, sharp knives makes a huge difference when prepping food.

Tomorrow, Art leaves for a conference in Italy.  Since he will be in one of the world's most famous culinary countries, he has offered to contribute a few guest posts to the blog.  I'm pretty excited to hear about his experiences.    

Practical Note:  Curry will stain!  The spot is still on my shirt after the first wash.  I'll see if it comes out in the second...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Steak Tacos

I apologize to any readers waiting in anxious anticipation to find out what we had for supper last Thursday night.  We had enchiladas and they were great.  I made the similar enchiladas to the version I have made before only without the chicken and using store bought chipotle enchilada sauce.  We also had an extremely time-consuming yard sale over the weekend, so I did not get a chance to blog about cooking. 

Since things have settled down, I can share last night's tasty meal with you.  We had steak tacos based on a Cook's Illustrated recipe.  Flank steak is rubbed with a spicy marinade before being seared in an hot skillet.  These were so much better than standard ground beef or chicken tacos.  And, they were just as easy to make. 

I made this spicy yogurt sauce to serve with the tacos (and with the enchiladas we had Thursday):
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tab torn cilantro leaves
generous dash of cayenne pepper
generous dash of cumin

Stir together all ingredients.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Last night, I cashed in one of our Living Social vouchers and got delivery from Camy's, a local pizza place. I had never tried this place, but was willing to try it since they deliver and I could get a deal through Living Social.
I would advise any Memphis reader against Camy's. The pizza was only okay. Getting Papa John's would be better and cheaper. (Memphis really needs a decent pizza joint!)

I would advise every reader to check out and These sites offer daily deals like 50 percent off at local places.

Tonight, I'm cooking- watch for tomorrow's post to find out all about our delicious supper.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mahogany Broiled Chicken

We were able to have friends over for supper the other night.  I made mahogany broiled chicken and sweet potatoes.  They seemed to like it.  Jacob enjoyed eating his chicken barbarian-style straight off the skewers.  My friend made an awesome peach pie for dessert that I finished for lunch today.  (Thanks, Donita!)

I am always excited to see a new way to fix boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  It is an economical cut of meat that is versatile and easy to prepare.  Yet, it can easily become dry and bland.  This recipe produces chicken that is neither dry nor bland.  It has such a unique flavor and is not complicated. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fettuccine with Tomato and Ricotta Sauce

For supper last night, I cooked some whole wheat fettuccine (we get boxes of these through Amazon subscribe and save) and tossed it with a jar of tomato sauce and 1 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese.  Jacob devoured this meal that took less than 10 minutes to make.  Magical.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moroccan Lentil Soup- Only no Lentils and not really Moroccan

Even though the outside temperature in Memphis was almost 100 degrees, I was wanting some soup.  I had a recipe for Moroccan Lentil soup stored in my favorites on the app that I wanted to try.  The recipe called for some of my favorite spices: cardamom, cayenne pepper, cumin, and fresh ginger.  This had to be good.
Only, Kroger did not have lentils- a seemingly necessary ingredient for lentil soup.  I picked up a bag of split peas instead.  This seemed like a reasonable substitute. 
As many reviewers noted, the spices called for are more Indian than Moroccan.  So, I made some naan to complete the protein of the bean and legume rich soup that smelled delicious as it finished cooking in the crockpot.  (A reviewer on the website said he made the soup in the crockpot, so I did the same.)  
The flavor of the soup turned out to be flat- which was odd given the rich spice content.  It tasted like it needed a ham hock or some other kind of rich, fatty something.  Despite this,  it was still pretty good and obviously healthy. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pasta with Peanut Sauce, Broccoli, and Chicken

I hate buying a condiment or sauce only to use a few tablespoons for a recipe and let the rest of the bottle sit in my refrigerator until it goes bad.  I determined not to let the bottle of peanut sauce I purchased for Thai Tofu Crunch meet this fate.  So, I came up with a unique and tasty pasta dish that also incorporated some leftover grilled chicken from supper last night.  It came together in less than 15 minutes.  I will probably make it again even when I am not just trying to use up leftovers.

12 oz whole wheat fettuccine
3 Tab spicy peanut sauce
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen broccoli, cooked
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Diablo Wrap Attempt, Grilled Plantains, And Banana Cupcakes

This afternoon, I had to cancel our plans to have friends over for dinner because Jacob woke up sick from his nap.  But, since I already had all the food, we went ahead and made the full menu for just the three of us: Diablo wraps, grilled plantains, and banana cupcakes with Nutella/peanut butter frosting.

Recently, Art mentioned his desire to recreate the Diablo wrap, a favorite dish of his served at Cafe Eclectic.  I knew it involved a wrap, chicken, cream cheese, and a spicy sauce.  I thought the Jamaican Style Grilled Chicken recipe I tried about a month ago would be a pretty good base for our attempt at the Diablo.  The distinctly flavored grilled chicken and the unique sauce seemed to be great candidates.   And, the grilled plantains would make an excellent side.

But, my version didn't turn out like the original Diablo wrap.  I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the recipe, so the chicken was a bit drier than I would have liked.  And, since I used all the marinade on the chicken, I didn't have any extra sauce left for the wraps.  So, it was a lot less packed with flavor than the original.

I do hope to make the Jamaican Style chicken again, just not with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  It is an awesome recipe.  I might even use it in another attempt at the Diablo wrap.  Until then, Art will just have to go to Cafe Eclectic.

The banana cupcakes were excellent.  Basically, they were little banana bread loaves shaped like cupcakes with frosting- a delicious frosting that transformed the bread shaped cupcakes into treats worth of dessert status.  Yumo!

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground) (I used 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup Nutella.)
  • Chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts (optional)

For cupcakes: 
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream and vanilla into bananas.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (generous 1/4 cup for each).
Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.
For frosting: 
Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes, dividing equally. Sprinkle lightly with chopped peanuts, if desired. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mushroom and Spinach Calzones

We had some fellow Bama fans over today to watch the Tide pound Duke.  After the game, we ate calzones.
Usually, my calzones involve everyone getting a hunk of dough and filling it with whatever they want.  But, I came across a tasty looking recipe on the Epicurious app for a Three Cheese Mushroom and Spinach Calzone, so, I gave it a try.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for brushing

  • 1 8-ounce package sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms

  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 4 cups (packed) baby spinach

  • All purpose flour (for sprinkling)

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough (or one 13.8-ounce tube refrigerated) (I made my own.  See recipe below.)

  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese, divided (Since Kroger didn't have this, I used mozzarella.)

  • 1/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and fennel seeds; sauté until mushrooms are brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano; stir 1 minute. Add spinach; stir just until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer to medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
    Line rimless baking sheet with parchment. Sprinkle paper with flour. Roll out dough on lined baking sheet to 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons Parmesan crosswise over half of crust, leaving 1-inch plain border. Top with 3/4 cup Fontina, then mushroom mixture, distributing evenly. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan and 3/4 cup Fontina over mushrooms. Spoon dollops of ricotta cheese over; sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Fold plain half of dough up over filling. Crimp edges tightly to seal. Brush with oil.
    Bake calzone until puffed and brown, about 18 minutes. Brush with oil and serve.

    Calzone Dough Recipe

    2 pkg yeast
    1 cup very warm water
    1/4 tsp sugar
    Combine these ingredients in a small bowl.  Let rest until foamy, about 10 minutes.
    2 cups bread flour
    4 Tab sugar
    2 Tab olive oil
    1 tsp salt
    3/4 cup water
    Combine ingredients with yeast mixture in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Stir for a few minutes.  (Or, just combine in a bowl and stir.  Then, knead the dough for a few minutes.)
    Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover.  Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.   Proceed with recipe.  

    The mushroom and spinach filling was very flavorful and would combine well with most other calzone fillings.  I liked the creaminess of the ricotta cheese in the calzone, but Art didn't care for it.  Apparently, he doesn't like ricotta.  After seven years of marriage, I thought I knew everything about him...

    Back and Better Than Ever

    Since my last post four months ago, my family has had some major changes:

    -  We now have a daughter- Taylor Grace.  She was born on June 16 and is so precious.  She eats a lot, so I know she will enjoy my cooking one day.   For now, I spend a lot of time feeding her and less time preparing labor-intensive meals.

    -  Jacob has become s a very selective eater.  I do not describe him as picky, because he will eat just about anything.  He just has to select when and where he will eat.  Food on his tray often goes untouched during supper and is put in the fridge to be pulled out when he wants it at 9:30am the next day.

    -  Our home office has been converted in to a room for Taylor Grace.  So, our computer is now in the kitchen.  This invasion of my favorite room in the house is surprisingly convenient- reason number one being I no longer have to tip-toe across the incredibly creaky hallway during nap-time to write a blog post.  (Being able to play videos from while cooking is also amazing.)  I hope this improvement encourages more posts.

    - Art and I have recently obtained smart phones.  This virtually unlimited connection with the world has revolutionized our lives.  Among many other things, I have been using recipe apps to easily find new and exciting dishes.  This translates into more new and exciting recipes on this blog. 

    Today's recipe for Thai Tofu Crunch is from the Whole Foods Market app.  This is a unique, easy recipe that is good for a hot summer day.  I doubled the recipe and used a whole container of firm tofu.  I marinated the sliced tofu in 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup soy sauce for 2 hours.  Then, I broiled it for about 7 minutes and let it cool. 

    1 (3-ounce) package uncooked all-natural ramen noodles
    4 to 6 tablespoons prepared peanut sauce
    1 (6-ounce) package cooked tofu, cut into small cubes
    1/2 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
    1/2 medium carrot, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup frozen small broccoli florets, thawed

    Crumble the ramen noodles into a medium bowl; save ramen seasoning packet for another use. Add peanut sauce and stir to coat well. Add tofu, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli and toss together gently. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving, or transfer to plastic containers and pack in lunches. The noodles will soften somewhat as they soak up the sauce. Keep cold until ready to serve.

    I used a chili peanut sauce which made the dish pretty spicy.  The first night we had it, we made it into a salad and ate it over lettuce.  The second night, we ate it over cooked noodles.  Both ways were good.  

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Chicken with Couscous, Tomatoes, and Hummus

    I made this semi-Greek recipe that I found in Southern Living for supper last night.  Hummus and pita are the only Greek elements.  The recipe was really easy to make and the taste/texture combination of chicken, couscous salad, and hummus was excellent. 

    The flavor of the chicken was really tasty.  I was skeptical of the lack of a marinade- boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces are simply brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before they are cooked in a skillet.  The couscous is tossed with tomatoes, red onions, and a simple vinaigrette to make a really good side. 

    The couscous salad includes 2 Tab of chopped red onion.  For this, I bought a container of chopped red onion at the store.  I had never bought pre-chopped onion and I loved the convenience of it.  If you hate to chop onions (you know who you are- Stacey), then I would highly recommend this.  It was a few cents more expensive than just buying a whole onion.  But, the convenience was worth the expense. 

    The results:  Art and I loved the meal.  Jacob ate some chicken last night and some couscous for lunch today.  I don't know if he loved it, but he ate it. 

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Spaghetti and Blackberry and Blueberry Pie

    As I was cooking the spaghetti with meat sauce for supper tonight, Jacob stood beside me and systematically ate dry spaghetti noodle after noodle.  There is no telling how many of those noodles he chomped through.  Weird.

    I also made a pie with blackberries and blueberries.  Blackberries were on sale at the store, so I grabbed a few containers.  The sweet blueberries were a great compliment to the tart blackberries.  It was a good pie made even better by a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

    1 pie crust (top and bottom)
    2 1/2 cups blackberries
    2 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1 Tab butter, cut into pieces

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    Place bottom crust in pie plate.
    Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Stir in berries to coat.  Pour into crust.  Dot with butter.
    Top with top crust. 
    Bake for 35-40 minutes, making sure the crust doesn't burn.  Let cool.

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Chicken In Curry Sauce- No Chips!

    Last night, I made chicken in curry.   Art had never had it and he liked it.  Jacob ate a few bites and begged for chips.  We refused.  Then, he refused to eat anymore after that.  A picky toddler is a joy to cook for.  (I do feel very rewarded when he actually likes something I make.) 

    I haven't posted any pictures recently, so here is a picture of Jacob with the Praying Mantis at the Children's Museum of Memphis- his home away from home.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Mahogany Broiled Chicken with Smoky Lime Sweet Potatoes and Cilantro Chimichurri

    A couple of years ago, my aunt gave me a copy of this recipe she found in The Birmingham News.  I just got around to making it for supper last night.  Apparently, this was the $100,000 winning recipe in some chicken contest.

    The combination of familiar and unexpected flavors was fantastic.  The chicken was tender and flavorful, the sweet potatoes were pleasantly spicy, and the chimichurri sauce was phenomenal.  Most importantly, the meal was easy to make.

    1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1" cubes
    1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
    6 Tab olive oil
    1 large clove garlic, minced
    1/2 tsp salt, divided
    1/4 tsp pepper, divided
    5 Tab dark brown sugar
    3 Tab Dijon mustard
    2 Tab hoisin sauce (this is with the Asian food in the grocery store)
    2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp lime juice, divided
    2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
    2 Tab unsalted butter
    1 tsp chopped canned chipotle pepper
    1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
    1/2 tsp lime zes
    3/4 tsp cumin

    Chimichurri Sauce:
    In a small bowl, mix together chopped cilantro, olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, and garlic.
    (My absent-minded pregnancy brain accidentally added the chipotle and adobo sauce to the chimichurri.  It turned out really good.)

    Mahogany Sauce:
    In medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, mustard, hoisin sauce, and vinegar.  Reserve 2/3 of this mixture.  To remainder, add 1/2 cup lime juice and stir in chicken.  Refrigerate.

    Sweet Potatoes:
    In heavy saucepan, place potatoes and cover with boiling water.  Cook, covered, over medium high for about 15 minutes or until tender.  Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid, then drain potatoes in colander.  Return potatoes to reserved cooking water, add butter, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, remaining 1 1/2 tsp lime juice, cumin, lime zest, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp peper.
    Mash potatoes.

    Thread chicken on bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water.  Broil about 6" from heat, basting with remaining mahogany sauce until done, about 8 minutes.

    To serve, divide potatoes among four plates; top each with two skewers of chicken and drizzle with chimichurri sauce.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Broccoli, Please!

    Last night I picked up a pizza from Whole Foods for supper.  We all sat at the table to eat and Jacob kept asking for broccoli ("baak-eee!").  Normally, Jacob asks for chips for supper ("bis!"), so we are in the habit of saying "No" to these requests.  When he kept asking for broccoli, I had determined that he would eat what was on the table.  Finally, Jacob got so upset, we gave up on supper and let him down from his chair.

    Art and I discussed the situation.  What kind of horrible parent forces their kid to eat pizza when all he really wants is broccoli?  I went and made him some broccoli.  He ate a huge bowl of it.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Repurposed Meat Loaf

    Since no one really enjoyed the meat loaf I made a few nights ago, I wasn't too excited about serving the left overs for supper last night.  That is, until I came up with an idea that would transform the meat loaf into something we could all enjoy- spaghetti.  The meat loaf was basically just a big meatball, so why not make it into spaghetti?  I wasn't fully convinced that I could magically transform the meat loaf into something we liked, but it was the best idea I had.

    We didn't have any spaghetti, so I used the whole wheat shells we had in the pantry.  I added two cans of tomato sauce to the rest of the meat loaf sauce to make the sauce for my pasta.  After simmering that for 20 minutes, I stirred in the crumbled up meat loaf and heated it through.

    This made a flavorful, slightly spicy sauce for pasta that we all enjoyed eating.  (Jacob has been such a picky eater recently, so I was really glad he ate the pasta.)  Supper was saved!

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Meat Loaf

    I saw this meat loaf recipe in Treebeard's cookbook and thought it might be really great.  But, it was just meat loaf.  As meat loaf goes, I guess it was pretty good.  It was moist and spicy.  And, the sauce was good.  Jacob wouldn't touch any of the meal.  Art made no comments, so I can only assume it wasn't his favorite.

    Meat Loaf:
    1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
    1/3 cup bread crumbs
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 Tab chopped fresh parsley
    1/4 cup chopped onion
    1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
    1/4 cup chopped celery
    3/4 tsp salt
    3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    1 tsp pepper

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Spray a 9x5" loaf pan with non-stick spray.
    In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Pat into prepared pan.
    Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

    2 Tab minced garlic
    4 tsp olive oil
    1 18 oz can peeled tomatoes
    4 1/2 tsp oregano
    1 tsp pepper
    1 tsp salt

    In small skillet, saute garlic in oil for 1 minute.  In food processor, combine garlic, oil, peeled tomatoes, and spices.  Pulse until tomatoes are in small pieces.  Transfer to 2 quart saucepan and simmer 20 minutes.  Pour sauce over meat loaf to serve.

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    Mexican Casserole

    I made a version of a casserole recipe I found on Cooking Light's website.  It was basically nachos baked in a casserole dish.  I really liked it.  I think Jacob was too full from snacking on the chips to fully appreciate it.  I plan for us to have it again tonight- I'm not sure how the chips will be left over.

    I read the reviews and made a few changes to the recipe.  I am pretty sure my changes negated most of the "light" traditionally associated with recipes from Cooking Light magazine.  But, I did still use the meatless crumbles.  They were much better than I expected.  I really couldn't tell any difference between those and real ground beef.

    Here is the version I made.


    • 4  Tab canola oil, divided
    • 1  chopped onion
    • 2  garlic cloves, minced
    • 1  jalapeño pepper, minced
    • 1  teaspoon  chili powder
    • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
    • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • 1  (12-ounce) package meatless fat-free crumbles (such as Lightlife Smart Ground)
    • 48  tortilla chips
    • Cooking spray
    • 1  (15-ounce) can refried beans
    • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
    • 2  cans diced tomatoes
      • 1 1/2  cups  shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • 2  tablespoons  fat-free sour cream

    • 1. Preheat oven to 375°.
    2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and jalapeño; cook 1 minute. Stir in chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and crumbles; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Arrange half of tortilla chips in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top evenly with crumbles mixture.
    3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium heat. Add beans, cook 2 minutes or until heated, stirring constantly. Stir in lime juice.
    4. Layer beans and tomatoes over crumbles mixture in dish. Top with remaining tortilla chips, pressing to slightly crush. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 375° for 13 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Cut casserole into 6 equal pieces; top each serving with 1 teaspoon sour cream.

    Sunday, April 25, 2010

    Chicken in Curry

    My mom was in town over the weekend and we had a great time hanging out with her.  Jacob loves his Nana.

    For supper Friday night I made chicken breast in curry from Treebeard's cookbook.  I was really surprised by the simplicity of the dish- from the ingredients to the prep.  It turned out great.  I think this is my new favorite recipe from the Treebeard's cookbook.

    I served the chicken with broccoli and fried rice.

    4 chicken breast  halves
    1 Tab curry powder
    2 tsp soy sauce
    1/2 cup honey
    1/2 cup dijon mustard

    Place chicken skin side down in a shallow baking dish.  Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken, turn to coat, turn again.  Cover dish tightly and refrigerate overnight.

    When ready to bake, turn chicken skin side up and cover dish with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes, basting chicken with drippings periodically.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Salmon Patties and Broccoli

    I made pan-roasted broccoli and salmon patties with cheese sauce for our supper.  The meal tasted great but made the kitchen smell awful- fish and broccoli are both pretty stinky foods.

    I based the recipe for salmon patties on one in Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  The patties are easily made with basic pantry staples and taste awesome.  I think my favorite part is the cheese sauce.  The first time I made them, I was wary of cheese on salmon.  But, the combination is really good.  The cheese sauce also went really well on the broccoli.  

    The recipe only makes three patties, so double or triple it if you are cooking for more than two people.

    1 egg white, beaten
    2 Tab milk
    1/2 tsp dried dill
    1 73/4 oz can flaked boneless skinless salmon, drained
    1/4 cup crushed wheat crackers (I used wheat thins)
    1 Tab canola oil
    1 Tab butter
    2 tsp milk
    1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

    In a medium bowl combine the egg white, milk, dill, and 1/8 tsp pepper.  Add salmon and crackers.  Mix well.  Form mixture into 3 patties.  In a large skillet, cook patties in hot oil over medium-low heat about 6 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once.  Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm.
    For cheese sauce:  in a small pan, melt butter.  Stir in flour and a dash of pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir 1 more minute.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.  Serve with patties.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010


    Tonight, we ate left over lasagna from last night's supper.  We always love lasagna.  Well, Jacob loved it last night- not so much tonight.

    Our microwave has been broken for a week.  (By some strange coincidence, it stopped working the day Jacob pulled it off the counter...)  So, I have been heating leftovers on the stove or in the oven.  If any of you have a recommendation for a good one, please let me know.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Moroccan Chicken, Couscous, Green Beans, and Strawberry Shortcake

    Tonight, we were planning to have some friends over for dinner.  But, since we didn't want to share Jacob's cold with our friends' kid, we had to cancel.  Even though they couldn't join us, we still had a good supper.  I made our old favorites Moroccan chicken and roasted green beans.

    I also made apricot and pistachio couscous.  This couscous is very flavorful and is even better with a bit of the chicken pan drippings spooned over the top.  I usually omit the olives called for in the recipe because Art has always hated them.  However, he recently discovered that he no longer hates them, so I will have to add the olives next time I make this.

    For dessert, I made strawberry shortcakes from Treebeard's cookbook.  Instead of making the filling called for in the recipe, I just sliced some strawberries and tossed them with 1 Tab of sugar.  Because of this-I think- the shortcake was a little dry.  I think that could have been improved by the juicy filling.  I'll know next time...  Otherwise, the dessert was great.  The whipped cream has a small amount of sour cream whipped in that goes really well with the strawberries.


    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 Tab baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    3 Tab packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup butter
    4 tsp sugar, divided
    3/4 cup milk

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    With knife blade attachment on food processor, process flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, butter and 2 tsp sugar until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Pour mixture into medium bowl.  Add milk and mix just until it forms a smooth dough.
    Scoop dough onto greased cookie sheet in 6 equal mounds.  Dust top of shortcakes with 2 tsp sugar.
    Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.

    1 quart strawberries, sliced
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla

    In a medium bowl, mash one half of berries.  Mix with sugar and vanilla.  Refrigerate 1 hour.

    1 cup heavy cream
    1/4 cup powdered sugar
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 tsp vanilla
    1/4 cup sour cream

    Beat the cream with the sugars and vanilla just until it holds soft peaks.  Add sour cream and beat mixture until stiff peaks form.

    To Assemble:  Cut tops off shortcakes and set aside.  Spoon filling onto bottom of each shortcake.  Cover with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.  Replace tops.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    Cheese Quesadillas, Mashed Pinto Beans, and Guacamole

    I am still making simple meals because I am still tired and lazy.  On a recent walk around the neighborhood with Jacob (an activity we do several times every day), I seriously considered sitting down on the sidewalk.  My fear of what the neighbors would think was the only reason I kept going.

    Last night, I made some hand mashed pinto beans, guacamole, and cheese quesadillas.  Quesadillas are about the easiest thing I know to make.  Art and I enjoyed the meal.  Jacob wouldn't touch any of it.  All he wanted was Cheerios.  After surveying the offerings on the table, he went and retrieved them from the cabinet.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Shells and Cheese

    Jacob and I both ate like toddlers for supper last night.  We had shells and cheese and sauteed peas.  It was great!

    I made the shells and cheese based on a recipe in Whole Foods for the Whole Family.  The cheese sauce was the perfect combination of cheesy and creamy.  Jacob and I ate almost all of it.

    1 Tab butter
    1 1/2 tsp corn starch
    1 cup milk
    2 cups shredded cheese (I used 1/2 cup monterey jack and 1 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar)
    1 Tab sour cream
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups whole wheat small shells, cooked and drained

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Melt butter, in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Stir in corn starch until smooth.  Off heat, stir in milk until smooth.  Return to heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until smooth.  Stir in sour cream and egg.  Stir in pasta.
    Butter a small, oven proof dish.  Spread shells and cheese into dish and cover with foil.  Bake 20 minutes.  

    Sunday, April 11, 2010


    Tonight, Jacob willingly ate something other than Goldfish for the first time since Friday.  I'm not sure if the falafel was that good or if he finally had to give in to his hunger.

    I found a recipe for baked falafel in Parents magazine.  This falafel was baked in the oven instead of fried. On pita with the yogurt sauce, the falafel was pretty good.  Alone, it seemed dry and somewhat bland.  Mashing the beans with the other ingredients seemed like it could have been done more easily and effectively in a food processor.

    1 15oz can garbanzo beans
    1/4 cup shredded carrots
    3 Tab sesame tahini
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    2 Tab flour
    1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp pepper
    1 Tab olive oil or cooking spray
    1/3 cup plain yogurt
    2 Tab lemon juice

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    Rinse and drain garbanzo beans.  Mash together with carrot, flour, 1 Tab water, 2 Tab tahini, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.
    Grease a cookie sheet.  Shape mixture into 16 patties the size of a half dollar.  Place on cookie sheet.  Brush with olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes or until crispy, turning once.
    In a small bowl, mix together yogurt, 1 Tab tahini, and lemon juice.
    Serve falafel on pita with yogurt sauce and fresh veggies.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

    Last night we had chicken enchiladas with a home-made green salsa.  This is a healthy recipe- the enchiladas aren't swimming in cheese (although, I did use twice the amount of cheese called for in the recipe) and the salsa isn't loaded with sodium. 

    A blender made the salsa prep quick.  The flavor was intense but not overly spicy.  Thinned sour cream drizzled on top of the enchiladas paired perfectly with the salsa. 

    Art and I really liked these.  Jacob wouldn't even try a bite.  Maybe he will like the left overs tonight. 

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Red Beans and Rice

    Yesterday morning, I made red beans in a crock pot for last night's supper.  It made a ton of beans and was tasty.   The dish took about 15 minutes to put together in the crock pot.  (I love crock pot suppers!)  Because I knew supper would be ready when we were, Jacob and I were able to play outside for a bit longer than usual last night.  I cooked some rice in the rice cooker just before we were ready to eat.

    Since I didn't have any on hand, I made my own Creole seasoning.  This made about 1/4 cup of seasoning, so I have some left over for the next time I make red beans and rice.

    1 1/4 tsp paprika
    1 Tab salt
    1 Tab garlic powder
    1/2 Tab black pepper
    1 Tab cayenne pepper
    1 Tab oregano
    1 Tab thyme
    1/2 tsp celery seeds

    Stir together all ingredients. 

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Pea and Mint Soup and Pizza

    Supper last night was very veggie intensive with pea soup and veggie pizza. 

    I made a pea soup recipe from bon Appetit.  The soup was really simple to make and had a short ingredient list.  The mint made it very refreshing.  Art thought it would be good cold.  We have left overs, so I guess we can find out.

    I also made oatmeal crust pizza.  I topped it with sauce, shredded zucchini, roasted yellow pepper, and cheese. 

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Naan Recipe

    We have been eating leftovers from our Indian food.  I have mentioned making naan in several previous posts, but I have never given my recipe.  I based my recipe off of one I found online and have loved it.  The dough is easily made from simple ingredients and the naan is easy to roll out and cook. 

    1 pkg yeast
    1 cup warm water
    1/4 cup sugar, divided
    4 1/2 cups bread flour
    1 egg, beaten
    3 Tab milk
    2 tsp salt

    Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 Tab of sugar for about 8 minutes, or until foamy.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Knead for 6-8 minutes.  (Or, use the dough hook of a stand mixer.)  If dough seems very dry, add warm water by Tablespoonfuls until desired consistency is reached.
    Turn dough out into an oiled bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. 
    Punch down dough.  Pinch off into golf ball size pieces and place on a baking sheet.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes. 
    On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into thin disk.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Place dough disk on skillet and cook until it starts to form bubbles.  Flip and cook until browned on both sides.