Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

I have tried to deny it. I really have, but it was no use. Fall is here. Goodbye sweet summer. Your warm days, I fear, are all but in the past. Fair well my sweet sunny friend. Fall is here. It's true. It's been in the lower 40's every night this past week. Today, the high didn't even hit 60. I had to make our first fire of the season. It came on fast, and most of us are still trying to hold onto the last remaining strands of summer. Farmers markets have yet to put our fall/winter produce but it's only a matter of time. My friend Lisa over at Blue Marble Farm, refuses to even think about bringing her winter squash to the markets. She says it would be giving into the cooler weather and she wasn't ready to let all her beautiful tomatoes go.

However, there is one thing I simply adore about the cooler weather. Comfort food. Yep. Soups, stews, baked pasta dishes. They are some of my favorites. I mean, that is the point of comfort right? These dishes warm the heart and the soul. It doesn't mean that they have to be laden with fat and calories like most dishes are. In fact, soups are some of the healthiest and easiest things to make out there. It's pretty hard to screw up a soup if you ask me. The recipe for this soup is as simple as it gets. Italian sausage is sliced into rounds, browned, then cooked in a broth made from onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes and chicken stock. Throw in some green lentils and dark leafy kale, and you have a soup that is packed with all sorts of goodness. Oh and by the way, this easily becomes a meat free dish by leaving out the sausage.

What You Need:

1 tbs olive oil
4 links, Italian sausage (Hot or Mild, your choice)
1 large bunch of Kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 large carrots, sliced into half moons
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can (24oz) of crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
1 lb french green lentils
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Place your lentils into a large pot and cover by two to three inches of water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Meanwhile, heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add in the olive oil. Slice the sauce into 1/4 inch rounds and sear in the pot. Once they start to brown, add in the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook for a few minutes or until the veggies start to soften. Stir in the can of diced tomatoes and the the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and stir in your kale. Cover your pot and let the kale wilt down into the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drain your lentils and stir into your soup. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the lentils have warmed through. Serve with a dollop of pesto on top if you choose. I had some garlic scape pesto that I put on top of mine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Old mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to give her poor dog a bone, but when she got there, the cupboard was bare, and the poor little dog had none.
In my case though, this mother's fridge is bare. It's the day before grocery shopping. I go every other week as it's a 45 minute ride to the store and gas is quickly approaching $4 dollars a gallon again. I also think it saves money as I am forced to plan meals for two weeks. However, the Wednesday before I am usually trying to find something for lunch. The kids are easy as they are perfectly happy with some mac and cheese or even a pbj, myself however, I'm am not so easily satisfied. Here is what my fridge looked liked when I opened it just an hour ago to make some lunch.

I do have various things in my pantry, but even my fruit bowl was pretty empty. I did have this small yellow watermelon left from my CSA basket last week and a bit of cantaloupe, but I fear that will be gone at snack time once the kids get to it. The only other thing in there was some various greens. Oh and a cucumber!

So what's a starving girl to do? Make a salad of course!

What You Need:

a handful or two of mixed greens
1/2 c cubed watermelon
2 tbs crumbled feta cheese
5 slices cucumber
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Drizzle the greens with a bit of olive oil and vinegar for your "dressing." It's simple and classic and tasty with out a ton of fat and preservatives. I'm a huge fan of F. Oliver's oils and vinegars. Today I used their blood orange olive oil and they're dark chocolate balsamic vinegar. Top your greens with the cucumber and watermelon and then sprinkle the feta on top. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and enjoy. It's probably one of my last ode's to summer time as the weather is getting cooler fast. While I will miss all the wonderful produce I've been getting, especially the incredible tomatoes, I look forward to the wondrous flavors that fall has to offer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Okay so they're not "sun dried" but oven dried. It's really the same thing though. Isn't it? I'm saying yes. Tomatoes become super sweet and their flavor intesifies as they are drying which gives a boost to lots of different dishes. I will tell you that it take hours upon hours and even some more hours after that to produce sun dried tomatoes. This is probably why they're so darn expensive in stores. However, it is harvest season, so you should be able to go to your local farmers or farmer's market and pick up some incredible tomatoes for a reasonable price. I get mine from two different farmers. The tomatoes I canned and made tomato sauce from, cam from my friends over at Blue Marble Farm. The sweet little beauties that I decided to dry came from Living Acres Farm. So why these guys and not my super market? Well that's easy enough to answer. Get a tomato from a local farmer, then get a tomato from you local super market. Now take a bite of each. The super market tomatoes taste like, well, nothing. Now the tomatoes from my farmer friends? Well each variety has their own taste. Some are sweet and less acidic. Some have that acid bite that people look for in a good tomato. Think that all tomatoes are these perfect round, pinkish red (and I use the word red loosely here), globes? You'd be wrong again. They come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. My favorite are these small deep purple, almost black in color. They make a great sweet snack and were the ones I kept raving about last year on facebook. My favorite this year has been these two or three bite yellow ones. I eat them as if they were an apple. You can't keep me away from tomatoes this time of year, which is probably why I ended up with 2+ bushels. When you find out what tomatoes are really like, they become almost like candy and something I can't leave alone. Oh and one more thing, the uglier the tomato, the better it tastes.  Onto the recipe shall we?

What You Need:

salt (optional)

What To Do:

You can peel the tomatoes if you choose. I did not as I had already peeled a good 200 tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes in half and remove the core. Remove the seeds. Depending on the size, you may need to quarter them. I used some smaller ones, the two biters as my fried calls them, so I just left them in half. Place them on a cooling wrack, that fits on a baking sheet. This is so that air can circulate around all sides of the tomatoes. Line your tomatoes up on the cooling wrack so that they do not over lap or touch. Give them a sprinkle of salt if you so desire and pop them into your oven. Now here's the hours and hours part. The lowest temp setting on my oven is 170 which was perfect for drying. I can't tell you how long it took. I put them in during the early afternoon and shut it off just before 10pm when I went to bed. They were getting close to being done at the time but I was worried that they would become over done if I let it go all night. So I turned the oven back on in the morning around 7am and by about 10:30 most of them were done. I have a few that were still a bit damp so I let them go a while longer. You know they're done when they don't feel sticky, wet or mushy. They should be leathery in feeling and not brittle. Brittle means they've "dried" to long. I let mine cool and stored them in a mason jar in my freezer. If you're going to use them within a week or so, you can soak them in olive oil but I haven't been able to find safely preserve them in oil unless you freeze them of course.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How To Make: Mayo

I wish I had some pictures of this but I don't. It's really interesting to watch how three simple ingredients turn into a thick creamy sandwich spread that most people seem to enjoy. Hellmans was always my favorite and Miracle Whip was never an  option. It just didn't taste like mayo. I guess that's why they call it a salad dressing. Whatever, it was gross. So mayo. Eggs, oil and vinegar. That's all it takes. Well you also need a very strong arm to whip it all for a long time, or a good food processor with a one of the holes on top and I have always used for drizzling oil into what was in there. The taste is pretty good. In fact, if you can believe this, I have turned two people from haters of mayo, into likers. I would say lovers but I believe that the only fat you can truly love, is bacon.

What You Need:

1 large egg
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 to 5 cup light flavored oil (veg, canola, and olive all work well)

What To Do:

Put the egg into a food processor and turn it onto to the fastest setting possible. Very, very, VERY, slowly start to drizzle in the oil. This is important. Only do a couple drops at a time in the beginning. If you add the oil in to fast, the emulsion (which is what mayo is) will break and you'll have something that looks more like yellow curdled milk than mayo. After you've gotten about 2 cups of oil in, add in your vinegar. This does a couple things. It adds a bit of tang to your mayo, and it helps to "preserve" it, (vinegar is an acid after all). Switch back to adding in the oil and continue doing so until you've gotten your mayo to the consistency you want.  I have never gotten mine to the gelatinous globs you can get from a jar of Hellmans, but that doesn't bother me. Mine is always smooth, creamy and tasty. You can always add in spices too, especially some salt which will enhance the flavor a bit more.
Keep your mayo in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last at least a month.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BLFGT (Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomatoes)

I would love to tell you all that I'm back and that I'll be posting recipes three days a week again, but the truth is, I'm not. I can't. School, my family, and various other projects I've been involved in this summer is preventing me from spending the time that I need to on my blog. I know you all my recipes and I am doing my best to get more ready to go, so that once summer is over, I can get back to doing this. Right now, I'm going to try and get at least one recipe up per week. Most likely on Wednesdays. You might not see the the same style of recipes either, meaning I won't always have an ingredient list. However, if you ever have a question about the recipes, send me an email, find me on facebook or ask me via twitter! I promise to always answer.

This week, it's BLFGT's. Not your boring, same old, BLT's. Oh no, you would not get that from this goddess! I'm digging into that southern style of cooking that I love so much! This yankee girl has always had a thing for fried green tomatoes and when you put them on some bread with bacon (and lettuce just so I can call it healthy), this sammy rocks my world!

What You Need:

  • Bacon
  • Large Green Tomatoe
  • flour
  • corn meal
  • oil for frying
  • egg(s)
  • milk
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • lettuce
  • bread or toast
  • mayo

What To Do:

Cook your bacon to desired doneness and set aside. I like my super crisp so I make sure to cook over medium low heat to render most of the fat. I also do this in a cast iron skillet because in my opinion, you can fry green tomatoes in anything other than cast iron. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, don't worry. You can always use a regular one.
While your bacon is cooking, set up your tomato dipping station. Place some flour in bowl one and season it with a pinch of salt and some pepper. In bowl two, combine an egg with a splash or two of milk. In the last bowl, combine equal parts of flour and corn meal. Season this mixture with a pinch of salt, some pepper, garlic and chili powder. The most sammies you are making, the more of this set up your going to need.
Once your bacon is cooked, add in enough frying oil to come 1/2 inch up the sides of your skillet. Slice your tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Dip them first in the flour, shaking off the excess, then into your egg mixture and finally into the flour/cornmeal mixture. Once coated, carefully place into your hot oil and fry until both sides are golden brown. This only takes a couple minutes per side. Drain on paper towels or a brown paper bag.
To assemble the sammies, slather some mayo onto your toast or bread. Then top with lettuce, bacon and fried green tomatoes. Enjoy the awesomeness!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chicken Cobb Club

One of my favorite salads is the Cobb salad. I love the crunchy lettuce, the creamy avacados and the tangy blue cheese. It's an awesome mix of flavor and is always a joy to eat. But what happens when I turn it into a sammie? Well it's still an awesome mix of flavor, all wrapped up in a nice crusty, crunchy package. The toasted french bread acts like the croutons and the goodies you normally find in the salad are piled high on top. A simple mix of a good tangy blue cheese and a little sour cream or yogurt becomes the dressing. It's so good, I wish I could make one right now for lunch!

One Year Ago: Maple Glazed Pork Chops
Two Years Ago: Fried Pickles

What You Need:

1 loaf of french bread, sliced lengthwise
1/3 c good blue cheese
1/3 c sour cream, mayo or greek yogurt
1lb chicken breast
1 avocado, sliced
1 large tomato sliced
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
8 slices cooked bacon
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Preheat a grill or grill pan. Season your chicken breast with salt and pepper and grill for 3-5 minutes per side or until cooked all the way though. Remove from heat and set aside to rest. Quickly grill the cut side of the bread, just until lightly toasted.
In a small bowl combine the blue cheese and sour cream (mayo or greek yogurt) with the back of a spoon. It's it will be thick but keep working on it.
Once your sauce is made and the chicken has rested, thinly slice the chicken on a biased.
Smear the blue cheese sauce over the bottom side of the bread. Then layer the slices of chicken, tomato, eggs, avocado, and bacon. Top it with the top half of bread, cut into sammies and enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Grilled Fish Tacos

Taco's are a staple in my house. My whole family loves them. They are usually pretty easy to make, often quick to make, cheap (which is a good thing), and they taste really good too. Plus when you pile on the veggies they're even good for you. I am planning on doing a whole month of taco recipes in June so if you love them as much as we do, you're in for treat that month.
Fish taco's are still a very popular dish around the country. They're aren't so new to the food scene as they once were, but they have some real staying power. I don't know if it's because of how tasty they are but there is something about a good fish taco that people just can't seem to pass up. I'm not the biggest fish person as I've mentioned a few times before, but if a fish taco is on the menu, (and if it's grilled instead of fried) you can find me chowing down on it. In fact, we just went out to a Mexican night at my favorite little local cafe. Pam, from Paradise Bakery makes some pretty darn good fish taco's! If you recall, I did an easy fish taco recipe awhile back that used fish sticks. While that one is pretty kid friendly for my picky eater, this recipe is just as easy to make and tastes incredible.

One Year Ago: Sausage and White Bean Ragu
Two Years Ago: Basil Pesto

What You Need:

1lb tilapia fillet (or any firm white fish)
juice from three limes (1/4 to 1/3 cup)
2 tbs veg oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
Corn tortillas that have heated through
Pico De Gallo and other toppings

What To Do:

Combine the lime juice, oil, garlic and spices together in wide, shallow dish. Place your fish fillets into the mainade and turn to coat if needed. Let sit for at least 10 minutes but no more then 20 or the acid from the  lime juice will cook your fish and you'll end up with ceviche.
Meanwhile, preheat your grill (I did mine inside on a grill pan) over medium high heat. Once hot, give a spray with some non stick stuff or a quick spritz of oil. Grill your fillets for a couple of minutes on both sides. I had thinner fillets so they only took about 3 minutes on one side and maybe another minute or two on the other. It's cooked with your fish is opaque and doesn't feel so mushy. It should flake apart too.
Transfer your fillets to a plate and break it up into pieces. Fill your taco shells and top with your favorite things. Shredded cabbage or lettuce is pretty tradtional but I like just a little pico de gallo.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Veggie Fajitas

These are an incredible yummy, filling, lighter alternative to the chicken or beef version. Sliced, hearty portabello mushrooms replace the meat in this simple version of a classic Mexican favorite. It's also a super quick supper idea for nights when your busy and don't have a lot of time to cook. In fact, I don't even think it took me 30 minutes to make these and most of the time was spent slicing the veggies. Give them a try and I promise you won't even know the meat is missing!

One Year Ago: Coconut Shrimp
Two Years Ago: Sugar Cookies

What You Need:

4 large portabello mushroom caps, gills removed and sliced
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
8 corn tortillas, warmed
2 roma tomtoes, chopped
1-2 tbs canola oil
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a large, flat bottom skillet, head 1 tbs of oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add in the sliced mushrooms. Do not touch or stir until they are browned which takes a couple minutes. Add in the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Give it a stir and add in more oil ONLY if needed. The mushrooms tend to suck up the oil and leave the pan dry which can cause your veggies to stick. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes or until they the veggies are just soft but still have a crispness to them. Stir in your seasonings, along with some salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes off the heat and serve in the warmed tortillas, topped with some cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sunflower Cake

While I was done visiting my parents earlier this month, my mom showed me a pictures of this cake. Once I saw that it had peeps, I knew two things. First, my husband would love it (and he did), second, that it would make a great Easter cake. It's cute and fun and super easy to  make. If you can open a boxed cake mix and bake it, then frost it, you can make this cake. Easy is my favorite word when it comes to cooking, especially if it's something for a special occasion and this cake fits the bill!

One Year Ago: Oven Baked Chicken Fingers

What You Need:

a boxed cake mix (any flavor)
the ingredients to make said boxed cake
white frosting (I used a vanilla flavored one)
3 packages of yellow Peeps
1 c chocolate chips

What To Do:

Follow the directions on the back of the box for making your cake and bake it using two 9 inch round cake pans. Allow to cool completely. Frost your cake with the white frosting, make sure to add some in the middle too. Once it's frosted, start placing your peeps around the cake in a circle, making sure that their tails face out to make the petals of the sunflower. Fill the center with the chocolate chips and that's it. You have a cute cake already for Easter!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Easy Apple Crisp

Wish you could have some apple crisp that was delicious and full of flavor but also under 200 calories a serving? My apple crisp is served in the apple itself, which means you can eat the entire thing and not feel guilty with all the butter and sugar you normally find in a dessert of this type. Hallowed out apples are re-stuffed with apple pieces that have been coating in a touch of sugar and spices then topped with a topping that becomes crispy once baked. Of course you can't have apple crisp without a bit of ice cream right? Trying having it with some non-fat greek yogurt instead. You'll never miss the calorie laden icecream along side this warm treat.

One Year Ago: Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli 
Two Years Ago: PB&J Cookies

What You Need:

4 medium sized apples
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs butter, melted

What To Do:

Core your apples, don't worry that there is a whole in the bottom, we'll take care of that in a bit. Using a melon baller, or grapefruit spoon, remove most of the inside of the apple, leaving a shell about a 1/4 inch thick on all sides to hold your filling. You could probably use a regular spoon, but it's easier cutting through the flesh of the apple using one of the tools I mentioned.
Once your apples are cleaned out, take the innards and cut them into small pieces. Toss those pieces with 2 tbs of the brown sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg and pinch of salt.
Mix the remaining 2 tbs of brown sugar with the rolled oat and the butter until it's fully incorporated. Everything should be moist and the stick together fairly well. Place a tiny bit of the oat mixture in the bottom of the apple. This will help to keep the juices inside. Fill each apple with 1/4 of your apple filling and then top each with 1/4 of the reaming oat mixture.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 30 minutes or until the apples look a bit slumped, a knife easily pierces them and the topping is golden brown.

Each apple is 214 calories with 7 grams of fat, based on My Fitness Pal's calculator.
According to the same website, a normal serving (1 cup) of apple crisp is 412 calories and 15 grams of fat. My recipe is half that and just as good, if not better!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicken with Blue Cheese Cream Sauce

Rich and decadent, this dish is surprisingly easy to make.The basic cream sauce came from last week when I was helping out and Paradise Bakery. The sauce there was this rich cream sauce made with goat cheese and was served with butternut squash ravioli and toasted baguette. Wanting to recreate it at home but needing something more substantial for my husband, I set out to make this dish.

One Year Ago: Mexican Fiesta Rice
Two Years Ago: Caramel Apple Crisp

What You Need:

1/4 c minced onion or shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c half and half
1/2 c blue cheese
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
4 chicken breast (about 1 lb)

What To Do:

In a sautee pan, heat 1/2 tbs olive oil. Once hot, sear the chicken on both sides until just cooked through. It should only take a couple minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat to medium low and add in the remaining 1/2 tbs olive oil. Sautee the onion or shallot until just soft and add in the garlic. Cook for another 30 seconds before adding in the half and half and the blue cheese. Keeping the heat on medium low, cook for a few minutes or until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens slightly. Return the chicken breast an any juices back the pan to rewarm. Serve with a bit of the sauce on top of each breast.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

I love spicy foods and one of my favorite things is buffalo chicken. I love how the spice hits your tongue and is then cooled by the creaminess of the blue cheese dressing. My husband, loves tacos. So why not combine them? Turns out, spicy buffalo chicken makes some incredibly tasty tacos. I serve them in toasted corn tortillas with just a bit of blue cheese and some tomatoes. They are great by themselves for lunch or along side a tossed salad or some rice for supper. And don't forget a tall glass of ice cold beer. Beer and buffalo chicken go together like Mac and cheese. You shouldn't have one, without the other. 

One Year Ago: Peas and Pasta
Two Years Ago: Pasta with Summer Squash

What You Need:

3/4 lb of chicken (I used boneless skinless thighs but breast work well too)
1/3 c hot sauce
1/4 c honey
2 tbs Sriracha
1/2 c water
1/2 c blue cheese crumbles
16 grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
8 corn tortillas

What To Do:

Combine the hot sauce, honey, sriracha and water into a wide pot. Add in your chicken and bring everything to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes, turning half way through if your sauce doesn't cover the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the sauce and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, turn the sauce back to high and let it reduce for about 5 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and you have a thickened sauce. 
Cut your chicken into pieces or shred with two forks. Toast the corn tortillas by placing them over an open flame for a minute or two per side, or in a nonstick skillet, just until slightly blistered and warmed through. 

Top each tortilla with 1/8 of the chicken, 1 tbs of the crumbled blue cheese and two of the cherry tomatoes that have been sliced into quarters. Give a drizzle of the reduced sauce and top with some cilantro if you'd prefer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cobb Salad

Yes I realize it's the middle of winter and yes, I even realize that while you can get okay produce in most parts of the country this time of year, that salad are generally a "summer" food. However, there comes a point in winter time (our are usually long, often having frost well into May), that a girl needs a reminder of summer time and the plentiful bounty it brings with it. Cobb salads are composed, meaning they are not all tossed together, but carefully arranged. I like the look of straight lines but you could always make piles. Blue cheese dressing is traditional but the dressing is really up to you. I keep the choices simple but you would normally find diced hard boiled eggs and sometimes even avocado grace this terrific reminder of summer.

One Year Ago: Apple Cider Cake
Two Years Ago: Mushroom Pies with Pear Salad

What You Need:

1-2 chicken breast, roasted, cooled and diced
6 cup mixed greens
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, sliced (peel if desired or use 1/2 an English cuke)
1 c diced blue cheese
4 pieces of bacon, cooked crisp and then chopped

What To Do:

Place the greens on the bottom of a large serving platter or shallow bowl. Start with the diced chicken in the middle. Place it in a straight line down the center of the salad. Repeat with the rest of your ingreidents, in any order you like. Serve with dressing, makes enough for 4 supper sized salads.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vinegar Smashed Potatoes

Potatoes are always an inexpensive option when deciding on what to make for a side dish, and mashed or baked aren't the only options out there. Small potatoes are great when they're roasted, they're even better when they're smashed and roasted even longer to get nice and crispy. When they come out of the oven and are still nice and hot, malt or red wine vinegar is splashed on top. It's very reminiscent of British chips without being fried.

One Year Ago: Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Two Years Ago: Slow Cooker Ribs

What You Need:

2 lbs fingerling potatoes*
1 tbs veg oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar or malt vinegar
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Toss the whole fingerling potatoes with the oil, salt and pepper. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and put into a preheated 400 degree oven. Roast them for about 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and carefully "smush" them using a spatula or the back of a large spoon. You're just looking to split their skins and flatten them a little bit. Put back into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove, carefully flip them over and put them back in for another 10 minutes. Once they're brown and crispy, place on a serving platter and sprinkle them with some extra salt and the vinegar.

*Note: You can use the small red potatoes but they might need to be par-boiled before roasting to assure that they are cooked through.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Green Chili

Green. Not like Green eggs and ham green, but salsa verde green. It makes a difference right? This is a quick and easy chili where most of the flavor comes from salsa verde. Chicken is cut up and simmered in a delicious green sauce. Sauteed onions and garlic are added into it, along with some  creamy white beans. This is not your traditional tomato based chili but it still has that warming, comforting feel.

One Year Ago: Skillet Potatoes
Two Years Ago: Carne Asada

What You Need:

2 cups salsa verde (try this version, or this version)
1 lb chicken, cut into bite sized cubes
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15oz) can white beans (canellini's are my favorite)
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Simmer the chicken and salsa verde together until the chicken is no longer pink. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic and until soften. Stir the onion and garlic along with the beans into the chicken mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a bubble and cook together for a few minutes until everything is hot. Serve over rice. This is even better the next day or even served with a fried egg.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feijoada (Black Bean Stew)

Trying to expand on my knowledge of Latin style cooking (since we all know how much I LOVE Mexican food) so I've been doing some searching. I keep looking for easy dishes to make and I also do my best to keep things as authentic as I can, however in this dish, ease won out and it's not totally authentic. Traditionally, this is made with several different parts of a pig, ears, tails etc, however as most Americans tend not to eat animal "parts" Feijoada has become a dish made with pieces of salt pork, different sausages, carne seca, etc. My version still uses pork, but I opted for kielbasa and pork chops as that is what was available to me at the time. I also chose to cook it in a crock pot, again opting for convince. Even with the few changes that I have made, this dish is still hearty and very tasty.

One Year Ago: Ina's Coconut Cake

What You Need:

1 c beef broth
2 bay leaves
3 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed*
1lb boneless pork chop, cut into 1 inch chunks
1lb smoked kielbasa (about 1 ring)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 orange, segmented

What To Do:

Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot/slow cooker and cook on low for about 6-8 hours or on high for about 4 hours. Smash some of the black beans with the back of a spoon to thicken the stew. Serve over rice with a nice pile of greens. Top the stew with a few orange segments.

*NOTE: You can use dried beans instead. Pick over and sort beans. Cover with cold water and let sit over night. In the morning drain the beans and add into the crock pot with the rest of the ingredients. Increase beef broth to 2 cups and cook on low for 8ish hours. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Green Lentil, Sausage and Kale Stew

This is a warm, hearty and good for you dish.  It has nice smokey kielbasa combined with healthy green lentils, sweet potato and kale. This recipe is packed with tons of vitamins and minerals, but you would never know how good it is for you, from the way it taste. It is perfect for winter time, especially this year as the weather is so abnormal, warm one minute, freezing the next. You need a nice hearty meal on those cold days and this fits the bill perfectly.

One Year Ago: Pork Chop
Two Years Ago: Bowtie Pasta Salad

What You Need:

1 link kielbasa (about 14-16oz)
1 lb (about 2 cups) french green lentils
1 large onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped or torn
2 c chicken stock
1 c red wine
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Rinse and sort the green lentils. Cover them with 4 quarts of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15 to 20 or until softened. Drain.
While the lentils are cooking, slice the kielbasa into 1/4 inch rounds and cook in a large soup pot until browned. Add in the onions, sweet potato, celery and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the can of tomatoes, red wine and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and add in the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and stir in the lentils and kale. Once heated through it's ready to serve! Tops with some Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Orange and Fennel Salad

Lately, I've been taking cooking classes, not because I don't know how to cook, obviously, but because they're fun. I do learn new things (like how to make a good Paella) and this yummy, refreshing salad. You might be thinking that this is more of a summer time dish but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Oranges and other citrus fruits are actually in seasons right now. It's strange to think that fruits people typically associate with sunny, warm Florida or California weather would be best to eat during the cold winter months but it's true. This also means that fennel is in season right now too. Fennel is usually best from Autumn to early spring. When you think about ingredients that would taste good when combined just remember this: "If it grows together, it goes together". You'll be pleasantly surprised how refreshing this salad is especially during a season where heavy meals are predominate.

One Year Ago: Sesame Chicken
Two Years Ago: Bacon Wrapped Scallops

What You Need:

6 navel oranges
1 large or 2 small heads of fennel
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Salad Greens

What To Do:

Using a very sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from the oranges. Slice into segmants by very carefully taking a paring knife and cutting down at an angle on either side of the membrane that holds the segments together. Do this over a bowl so that you catch any juices.
Remove the tops from the fennel, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Remove the cores and then thinly slice the fennel.
Toss the fennel and orange segments together. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into any of the juice collected from the oranges. Whisk the citrus juices together with extra virgin olive oil, some salt and pepper and toss it with the salad. Top with a few of the fronds. Serve over salad greens or arugula.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ropa Vieja

Another yummy Cuban dish that I had while visiting Columbus was Ropa Vieja. Basically, all it is, is a flank steak that has been simmered in a flavorful sauce made of red wine and tomatoes. The flank steak is seasoned with salt and pepper, then seared over high heat in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed skillet. Once seared, the flank steak is removed from the pot and set aside while the rest of the flavors are combined. Started with sofrito of course, onions and bell pepper join the party followed by red wine, tomato paste and water. The flank steak is added back in and everything is gently simmered for a couple hours. The meat is then shredded and the sauce reduced down. Served with rice and black beans of course.

One Year Ago: Mediterranean Salad
Two Years Ago: Orange Chicken

What You Need:

1 tbs veg oil
2 lb flank steak
1/2 c sofrito
1 large onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (5oz) can tomato paste
1 1/2 c red wine (not a sweet red)
1 c water
1 tbs oregano
1/2 tbs cumin
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Season the flank steak with lots of salt and pepper. Sear in the veg oil on both side in a heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven. You want it brown and crusty on both sides. Remove to a plate. Reduce the heat to low and add the sofrito. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant, being careful that it doesn't stick and burn to the bottom. Add in the onions, bell peppers, garlic and tomato paste. Cook for a couple more minutes, again making sure that it doesn't stick and burn. Stir in the wine and water, scrapping the bottom of the pan to get up anything that did stick. Add in the oregano and cumin and stir everything until well combined. Nestle the meat back into the mixture so that it's covered with the sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat as low and possible and cook for at least two hours, stirring occasionally. You want it to be bubbling slightly. After the two hours, remove and shred the meat. Turn the heat to high and reduce the sauce a bit until nice and thick. Stir the meat back in and serve.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Picadillo is a strange little Cuban dish with a ton of flavor. It's simple to make but does take some time to get flavor happy. It is something you can start on the stove and then move the crockpot if you need to. Green olives and raisins are something in this dish that you don't see to often in normal American cooking, however it brings a sweet and salty combination to this dish. As with most Cuban cooking, this recipe starts with sofrito which I posted for you on Monday, knowing that today and Friday I was going to share two of my favorite Cuban dishes with you.
Last year, for my anniversary, my husband and I took the kids to Columbus Ohio and visited the zoo. I have an Aunt that lives near there, along with a friend or two and this great little Cuban restaurant was suggested to us. It was pretty small, having only a few tables inside and out but their food was incredible and I knew it was something that I would have to try and recreate at home.

One Year Ago: Tater Tots
Two Years Ago: Battle of Fats

What You Need:

1 tbs olive oil
1/2 c sofrito
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (5oz) can tomato paste
1 (5oz) jar green olives with pimento
1/2 c raisins
1 tbs oregano
1/2 tbs cumin
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed deep skillet, add the oil and sofrito over medium high heat. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add in the rest of the ingredients, reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, but 3 hours is better. If you want to do this in a crock pot, after browning the meat, stir everything together in the crock, set it on low and leave it go for several hours.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Sofrito is very common in a lot of Latin cooking. I've been making some Cuban inspired dishes lately and they all have started with sofrito. Yes you can find it in a store, along with the other Hispanic foods but it's pretty easy to make. There are two types that I am familiar with, red and green. The green tends to be cilantro based and the red is either tomato or red pepper based. Sofrito is also one of those things that everyone has their own secret recipe for. I doubt you'll ever find two that are the same. I start mine with tons of garlic, onions and bell peppers. This recipe makes two cups and I use about 1/2 cup per recipe. It will keep in the fridge for a week or two but you can freeze it in 1/4 to 1/2 c sizes for later too.

One Year Ago: Maple Roasted Root Veggies
Two Years Ago: Buffalo Potato Skins

What You Need:

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
1 large spanish onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
2 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs ground cumin
1 (5oz) can tomato paste
1 tbs veg oil
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic, onion and pepper and cook until they start to soften. Add in the the oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and the tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste has turned a dark red, almost brown color. Let cool and transfer to a food processor/blender. Let it rip until smooth or just slightly chunky. Store in a GLASS container (unless you want everything else that goes in your plastic container in the future to taste like sofrito).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baked Eggs

This is an easy breakfast that you can just throw in the oven and finish getting ready in the morning. It's delicious and very nutritious. It will get you up and going in the morning.

One Year Ago: Croque Madame
Two Years Ago: Sausage

What You Need:

2 eggs
1/2 c sauteed Kale
1 tbs Parmesan cheese
1 stripe of cooked bacon

What To Do:

Spray a ramekin with cooking spray or a bit of butter. Add in your Kale, top with the eggs, crumble the bacon over them and sprinkle on the cheese. Season with some salt and pepper and even a little dried thyme. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 15 minutes or until the whites are set. Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Easy Meyer Lemon Tart

Easy is the best way to describe this tart. A handful of ingredients and a blender is all you need. There is no whisking lemon juice, sugar and eggs over a double boiler, praying you don't end up with lemon scrambled eggs. This sweet and tart lemon filling would go great in any of  your favorite pie crust but I have something special for this one. I didn't have time to make a traditional pie crust. It wouldn't have been ready to eat if I had to let the dough sit for 30 minutes and then bake and let it cool. I didn't have an graham crackers so that type of crust was out too. I almost scrap the whole idea of desert all together but then had a great idea! I had tons of rolled oats in the pantry so why not do a oatmeal crust? Sounds strange right? I think it's my new favorite crust! Think of have a pie with a crumble topping. Now take that crunchy goodness and turn it into a pie crust. Now it sounds good doesn't it! It works very well in fruit pies and couldn't be easier to make. As for the lemon part of the tart, use Meyer lemons. They're not as tart as a regular lemon and do not have real thick skins which is why this easy recipe works as well as it does.

What You Need:
Pie Crust:

1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c rolled oats (Not quick oats)
1/3 c brown sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt


2 meyer lemons, cut into quarters
1 1/2 c sugar
1 stick room temp butter
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 400.
Make the crust by combining the ingredients thoroughly. You want to make sure that the butter has coating everything. No dry spots or the crust won't hold in that spot. Press into an 8 inch tart pan or a pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the filling.
Put all the filling ingredients into a blender and give it a whirl. Yep, that's it. Just turn the blender on and let it go until everything is combined. It will look a little strange but I promise it works! Just pour it into your pie crust and bake for about 30 minutes or until the tart is golden and set. Let cool completely before cutting.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sauteed Kale

Did you know that Kale is a super food? It is! It's a wonderful dark leafy green that is high in fiber, vitamins A, C and K as well as containing tons of trace minerals, all of which is very beneficial to the human body. It's a very inexpensive veggie too. I've been buying a bunch every week and eating it probably once a day. I sautee it up once I get it home and keep it ready to go in my fridge. It's great warmed up with an egg on top for breakfast or in some baked eggs or as a side dish for the whole family. It takes just minutes and you're done.

One Year Ago: Pepper Steak
Two Years Ago: Roasted Garlic

What You Need:

1 large bunch of Kale
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper

What To Do:

Remove the stems from the Kale and give it a rough chop. You can either remove the stems completely or just remove the bottom part of the stems, leaving the part that's connected to the leaves. The stems to tend to be a bit chewier and a tad more bitter then the leaves though.
Heat a large pan over medium heat with the olive oil. Once it's hot add in the sliced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Start adding in your Kale. It will wilt down fairly quickly. Just give it a turn with a pair of tongs every minute or so until it's completely wilted down and tender. Then you can either serve it right away or let it cool and store it in an airtight container for the week to have when you need it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lemony Chicken and Egg Soup

Can you believe it? A soup recipe? From me? Actually, I've started liking soups more and more. I've made quite a few so far this winter, if you can call it winter. It's been pretty mild just about every where, well almost everywhere. There is a little town in Alaska that received a gift of 18 feet of snow. In one day. Can you imagine??? I certainly can't. So in honor of those poor frozen people in the true north, here is a yummy chicken soup recipe. By cooking the rice right along with the chicken, and adding the eggs in later on, you create an almost creamy soup, without the added fat of cream.

One Year Ago: Split Pea Soup
Two Years Ago: Roasted Garlic

What You Need:

1lb of boneless, skinless chicken (can use all breast or breast/thigh)
1/2 c rice (real rice, not minute rice)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried thyme
bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 c chicken stock
2 large eggs
1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese
1 bunch of kale, chopped (remove stems)
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In bottom of your slow cooker, place the rice, chicken, lemon zest, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and chicken stock. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove the chicken and shred. Add it back into the soup. Whisk together the eggs and parmesan cheese with lots of salt and pepper. Slowly stir the eggs into the hot soup. Stir in the chopped kale and let cook for 30 more minutes or until it's heated through and the kale has wilted.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Apple Brie Tarts

One word to say about these tarts: YUMMY! I made them as a dessert for Thanksgiving and they were just incredible. Apples and brie along with a touch of honey and some chopped walnuts are great on their own but wrap them in puff pastry and you have the wonderful, and easy, dessert in the world. It is a great sweet and savory sort of dessert that most people will just love!

One Year Ago: Cheddar Beer Soup 
Two Years Ago: Polenta Sausage Casserole

What You Need:

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
6 tbs honey
6 tbs chopped walnuts
several thin slices of brie

What To Do:

Cut the puff pastry into 6 equal squares. Place a few slices of brie in the center, followed by a few slices of apple, 1 tbs of honey and 1 tbs of the nuts. Lift the opposite corners and gently press them together. Do the same with the remaining two corners. You're keeping the square shape by bringing the corners in together. Bake in a preheat 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temp.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Taco Soup


Nothing is more warming on a cold winters day then soup. This soup is doubly warming as it has a bit of spiciness to it. Warms the heart and soul! Taco’s, were are a favorite in my house, are turned into a yummy, hardy soup. Little meatballs are seasoned and baked, then tossed into a soup with two types of beans, corn and tons of flavor!

One Year Ago: Spaghetti with Sausage and Fennel
Two Years Ago: Anti-Pasta Salad

What You Need:

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups salsa
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 c chicken stock or water
1 lb ground beef
1 c frozen corn
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
½ tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 tbs chopped cilantro
¼ c taco seasoning (1 package)
1/3 c bread crumbs
1 tbs cumin
Olive oil

What To Do:

Diced 2/3 of the onion and toss into a soup pot with a tbs of oil. Finely mince the remaining 1/3 of an onion and place it in a bowl with the ground beef. Mince the garlic and place half in the soup pot with the onion and the other half in the bowl with beef. Cook the onions and garlic over medium heat until softened. Then add in the tomatoes, beans, stock and frozen corn.
To the bowl with the ground beef, add in the egg, chopped cilantro, taco seasoning, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce. Form into meatballs; bake 400 for about 15 minutes. Toss into hot soup and serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, tortilla strips etc.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

You all know that Mexican is my favorite cuisine. I have never had a Mexican dish I didn’t like. This is a simple dish, made in the slow cooker. It’s easy to freeze too which is nice because then you have supper almost ready on nights you don’t feel like cooking. I sometimes double up this recipe too so that I have plenty left over to freeze. You can this mix for taco’s and then use what’s left for enchiladas too. Double duty meals are the best! Want a triple duty meal? Use the shredded chicken meat to make nachos too!

One Year Ago: Divine Chocolate Pound Cake
Two Years Ago: Chili Con Carne

 What You Need:

1 whole chicken, cut into 6 pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks) Can use the wings too but they don’t give much meat so I always save them for stock.
1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes
1 can of water or chicken stock
¼ c taco seasoning
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tbs oregano
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 jalapeƱo split down the middle
1 lrg onion, diced
1 chipotles in adobo, minced

What To Do:

Leave the skin on the thighs and drummies, remove it from the breast. Place everything into the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Remove the chicken from the sauce. Toss the skin from the leg portions and shred the chicken. Strain the liquid from the slow cooker. Return the chicken back into the slow cooker with enough liquid to just keep the chicken moist. Serve the shredded chicken in warmed corn tortilla with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese etc. Freezing Instructions: Since you're using a whole chicken, you'll get two to three meals out this. I take any chicken we didn't eat the first night and package it into freezer zip top bags or containers with a little bit of extra sauce. When you want taco again, remove from the freezer to thaw and just reheat. With the rest of the sauce, you can let it cool and freeze it to use later for making this recipe again, or you can bowl it down till it thickens a bit and use it for an enchilada sauce.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Potato Tortilla

Here we are, the first recipe of the new year. As the first, it should be something for the first and most important meal of the day right? Tortilla is a Spanish dish made with eggs. Think of it as very similar to an Italian frittata. This one, takes about a cup of diced potatoes along with some garlic and onion to make a very yummy and pretty easy breakfast. My kids loved it, especially my daughter who only seems to eat carbs these days.
You can pretty much anything to these. It’s a very simple dish to modify to your liking.

What You Need:

1 c diced potatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs veg oil
6 eggs
1/2 c 2%  milk
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

What To Do:

tortilla3In a 10-12 inch skillet, over medium heat, cook the potatoes and onions until browned and soft. Use a lid to trap steam and help the cook the potatoes through a bit faster. Season with salt and pepper, add in the thyme and garlic.

Whisk together the eggs and milk and pour over the potatoes and onions. Turn heat to medium low, top with the shredded cheddar cheese and cook until the eggs are set. Again you can use a lid to trap steam and help it along.

Nutritional Info (makes 4 servings)
Please remember that I am not a dietician. These numbers are what I get from imputing this recipe into the My Fitness Pal Website and are per serving.
Calories: 290
Carbs: 23
Protein: 16
Fat: 16
Fiber: 2
Sugar: 3
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