Friday, July 30, 2010

Strawberry Salad

This recipe comes from my wonderful mother-in-law, she prepared this for a small get together we had recently at our house, and she got it from Kraft. The salad was amazing and made a wonderful side to the Gulf Coast Shrimp since it's a very sweet dish, also making it a wonderful summer time salad. We had five people, and she cut everything in half and we still had plenty for every one.

Strawberry Salad
2 bags (10 oz. each) torn Romain lettuce
2 cans (15 oz. each) mandarin orange segments, drained
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 medium Red onion, sliced
1 cup Caramelized Almonds
1 cup Poppy Seed Dressing

1. Toss lettuce with oranges, strawberries and onion in large bowl.

2. Sprinkle with caramelized Almonds.

3. Add Poppy Seed Dressing; mix lightly. Serve immediately.

Caramelized Almonds
This she made a full recipe of. It was a good thing she did, because these were so good without the salad.

1 cup Planters Sliced Almonds
6 Tbsp. Sugar

1. Toss almonds with sugar in nonstick skillet. cook on medium-high heat until sugar is caramelized, stirring frequently.

2. Spread into single layer on greased baking sheet or sheet of wax paper; cool at least 1 hour.

3. Break into small pieces. Stored in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Dry mustard
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/2 cup Canola oil
1 tbsp. Onion juice
3 tbsp. KRAFT Real Mayo Mayonnaise
4-1/2 ts. Poppy seed

1. Beat sugar, salt, dry mustard and wine vinegar in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended.

2. Add olive oil, canola oil and onion juice; mix until well blended. Add mayo and poppy seed; mix well. Cover.

3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fudge Brownies

I had intended on doing these for a food day my wife was to have at work, but she forgot what day that was. Which worked out, because we got to enjoy them all. This is the first time since high school home ed class that I have made brownies from scratch. I found the recipe in the small cook book that came with my Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer. I received this as a Christmas gift from my wife a couple of years ago and it has gotten a lot of use. It's also very helpful since I have never been much of a baker, or cooked many meals that have required the use of a mixer. I hope to get more confident and begin to broaden the use of the appliance, I'm sure the possibilities are endless.

1 cup margarine or butter, softened, divided
4 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I didn't add these)

Melt 1/2 cup margarine and chocolate in small saucepan over lowe heat: set aside to cool.
Place remaining 1/2 cup margarine, sugar, and vanilla in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds. Turn to speed 6 and beat about 2 minutes. Turn to speed 4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating about 15 seconds after each addition. Stop and scrape bow.
Add cooled mixture. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds. Stop an scrape bowl. Add all remaining ingredients. Turn to Stir Speed and mix until well blended, about 30 seconds.
Pout into grease and floured 13/9/2 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack and cut.

Gulf Coast Shrimp

I have been wanting to try my hand at grilling seafood on the grill for a long time and I finally got my chance the other day with this recipe from Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible. The recipe is delicious, easy to follow, and makes enough marinade for 2 lbs of shrimp. I had a blast cooking the shrimp on the grill. The butter in the marinade is sure to make for a good show on the grill, so be sure to do it in front of your guests so you can show off your skills. Be advised though, if you do not like spicy foods, this isn't the recipe for you; and you may want to offer another condiment like Ranch Dressing to help cool it down.

Advance Preparation
2 to 4 hours for marinating the shrimp

1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup bottled clam broth, chicken broth, or water (I used chicken broth)
8 tbsp unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
1 to 2 tbsp Tabasco or other Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup dark cane syrup (I use Agave syrup because it was all I could find)

1. Combine the shrimp shells and the clam broth in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, until slightly reduced and well flavored (the shrimp shells will turn orange), 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the broth into another medium-size saucepan; you should have about 3/4 cup.

2. Add the butter, garlic, scallions, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, cayenne, paprika, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cane syrup to the shrimp broth. Bring to a boiled over medium heat and cook, uncovered, whisking often until thick, syrupy, and richly flavored, about 10 minutes. Remove the marinade from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, rinse the shrimp under cold running water, then drain them and blot dry with paper towels.

4. Add the shrimp to the cooled marinade in the saucepan and toss to coat. Let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for to 2 to 4 hours.

5. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

6. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grate. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, setting aside the marinade. Arrange the shrimp on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until nicely browned on the outside and firm and pink inside, about 2 minutes per side. Brush the shrimp with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved marinade while they grill.

7. Transfer the shrimp to a serving platter. Bring the remaining marinade to a boiled over medium heat whisking it well. Remove and discard the bay leaves, then pour the marinade over the shrimp and serve at once. (I served it on the side as a dipping sauce since it was so spicy)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cafe Frappe's

I now this doesn't sound very masculine, but I thoroughly enjoy Frappuccino's. Especially when Starbucks makes their seasonal favorites, their pumpkin spice in the fall is one of my favorites. But like many, I simply can't afford to go to Starbucks and I can't afford the calories one of these tasty treats contains. So I had to find a way to make them at home, where I could use a little healthier ingredients. My adventure started with my coffee pot, blender, and a few recipes I found on the Internet. Then this last Christmas we received a Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe, which included a recipe book full of different recipes to try. We have used it several times now and only have one complaint, it needs a warning beep telling you it's going to start blending because it will make you jump, otherwise were completely happy with it and it's incredibly easy to use.

This is my wife's favorite Frappe:
Classic Mocha Frappe
Coffee & water in brewer
3 tbsp ground dark roast coffee or espresso
1/2 cup water

Place ingredients in blender jar in this order
2 cups ice cubes
2 tbsp sugar (I use Splenda with an equivalent amount)
3 tbsp chocolate syrup
1/4 cup whole or other milk (I use skim)

My personal favorite:
Chocolate Caramel Swirl Frappe
3 tbsp ground dark roast coffee or espresso
1/2 cup water

Place ingredients in blender jar in this order:
2 cups ice cubes
1/3 cup butterscotch caramel dessert topping
3 tbsp chocolate syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole or other milk (again I use skim)

While these recipes are intended for the Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe maker, you could easily use this recipe with what ever coffee pot and blender you have.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Banana Bread

I have never been one to do much baking in the oven; I’ve done my share of boxed goods, but nothing really from scratch. So this was a new adventure for me and I loved it. The little princess has been growing tired of her usual breakfast, so we wanted something that would make a good alternative and chose another recipe from Deceptively Delicious. Jessica, as has always been the case, gives great directions on making this tasty treat. Not only did my princess enjoy it, Mom and I have enjoyed are share of it as well.

-Nonstick cooking spray
-3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 ½ cups banana puree
- 1 ½ cup cauliflower puree
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan, or 2 mini pans, with cooking spray

2. In a bowl or a zipper-lock bag, mix the flours with the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, if using, Set aside

3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and oil with a wooden spoon until well combined. Mix in the egg whites, banana and cauliflower purees, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes for the large loaf, 25 to 30 minutes for the mini loaves. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn the bread out of the pan to cool before serving.

Now I cooked mine in a silicone bread pan, and it took about 45 to 50 minutes and 350 degrees F., just something to keep in mind.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This is a twist of a recipe that I found in the Deceptively Delicious cook book. I’m sure I sound like a representative for her, but I’m not, my cooking decisions have been directed at finding good nutritious foods for my little girl. I do plan on branching out, I promise. Anyways, the original recipe was for Pita Pizzas and they were a big hit with the family. But making three to four personal pan size pizzas for dinner seems like a lot of work, and I don’t always have the room to cook them all at once. With that in mind I decided to make a large pizza, taking Jessica’s idea and applying it on a new scale, something I greatly enjoyed and look forward to doing again in the future. I don’t have time or the skills to make my own pizza dough, though I do plan on acquiring them at some point, when life slows down. Which is why I usually buy the prebaked wheat pizza crusts from the store, it’s healthier, quicker, and easier than making it. I also choose to cook the pizza on my gas grill, which simply gives you a crunchier crust and if you use a charcoal grill you will get that wonderful brick oven flavor. If you plan on doing this, you will want to look into some sort of pizza pan or a pizza stone. I have the pan, and it’s got a bunch of holes in it and it does a decent enough job. If you would like a picture of it let me know. Now, grill set up is pretty simple, you’ll want to do indirect cooking so simply shove the coals off to each side of the grill with a large alluminum baking pan in the center of the charcoal grate, and put the pizza in the center on the cooking grate. In a gas grill it works better if you have a grill that has multiple controllable burners, if so light the burners not directly under the pizza. You can even add, to both grills, wood chips for a little smokier flavor.

8 (4-inche) whole-wheat pita pockets (or use a one large whole wheat pizza crust)
½ cup spinach puree (any vegetable will work, I have used both and the thicker the puree the better)
2 cup bottled tomato sauce
2 cups thinly slice part-skin mozzarella

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (in this case the grill)
2. Spread the spinach puree on each pita so that the spinach comes to within about ½ inch of the edge. Spread the sauce over the spinach; it should cover the spinach and come to within about ¼ inch of the edge of the pita. Now lay the cheese over the sauce, covering any place where the green comes through.
3. Place the pizzas on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the cheese melts and begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Let the pizzas cool 5 minutes before serving so the cheese cools and doesn’t pull off (and the spinach stays completely invisible, well almost)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Veggie Puree's

Many of the recipes that I use from Deceptively Delicious call for vegetable purees and I simply don’t have time to cook these at the same time as making the meals, so I do it before. Making the vegetable purees is incredibly simple and easy. To make them you will need a steamer, either the metal basket kind that you put into a large pot or one of those specialty units and a food processor or blender. Jessica lists off, in Deceptively Delicious cook book, cooking times for most of the popular veggies, most of them I just cook them tell I can cut them with a regular kitchen table knife. When I can do that I put them in the blender, add a little water from steaming them, and then blend until smooth. Once that’s done I put them in ice cube trays, put them in the freezer and I'm done. I have found that about four cubes equal about ½ cup thawed, just throw them in the microwave for a minute to thaw them, or you can throw them into the blender the next time you make a smoothie.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fruit Smoothies

Smoothies are a wonderful summer time treat and a great way to sneak in some veggies with your little ones. This is another one of those foods that appeals to our naughty tastes, but it can be so good for you. If you need a quick and simple breakfast, or maybe even a healthy post workout snack, just add a scoop of whey protein and you good to go. In fact, when I make these for my little girl I like to throw in some frozen veggie purees. I like to keep my simple and follow the measurements on the back of the Market Pantry Frozen Fruit packages. But don’t be afraid to experiment; who knows what fun flavors you can come up with.

-1 cup Market Pantry frozen fruit
-1/2 cup yogurt (any yogurt will do, don’t be afraid to add a flavored one if you like)
-1/2 cup fruit juice (I will substitute this with whole milk for my little one, just to be sure she’s getting something more)

1. Combine all ingredients in blender container, cover
2. Blend until smooth, stirring if necessary.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spaghetti Pie

Here’s another recipe from Deceptively Delicious and is worth a try, especially if your little one loves spaghetti. The recipe was very simple to put together, but it will take at least an hour from start to being ready to serve. On another note, the recipe lists turkey burger as an alternative for the meat balls, mix that with a green veggie puree and you’ve got a whole green eggs and ham thing going. Now that could be helpful for some children, it didn’t seem to bother my little girl who ate her share. If that isn’t going to work, be sure to use a lean ground beef or simply change to a lighter veggie puree, like cauliflower.

-Nonstick cooking spray

-3 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti or angel hair pasta (or 1 cup leftover cooked pasta) I used Penne past with no problems

-1/2pund lean ground turkey or sirloin

-1/2cup broccoli puree

-1 large egg white

-2 tbsp grated Parmesan

-2 cloves garlic, chopped

-2 cups bottle tomato sauce

-1 cup low fat (1%) cottage cheese

-1/4 cup carrot puree

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/4 tsp pepper

-1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander. (Skip this step if you have leftover pasta.)

3. In a small bowl, mix the ground turkey or sirloin with the broccoli puree, egg white, Parmesan, and garlic. From the mixture into ½ inch balls.

4. In a large bowl, stir the cooked pasta, tomato sauce, cottage cheese, carrot puree, and salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the pie plate and smooth the top. Scatter meatballs on top and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, until the center is firm and the cheese is bubble, 25-30 minutes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chicken Nuggets

What child does not like chicken nuggets? I swear it seems every child has a love affair for chicken nuggets and chicken fingers. The Recipe comes directly from Deceptively Delicious written by Jessica Seinfeld. The book is wonderfully written and packed full of recipes that hide vegetables in foods your kids will eat. Sammie loved this recipe, although I think she enjoys the ketchup more, either way we will be sure to make them again. I followed the recipe to the letter and have come to one conclusion about my cooking in a skillet, I almost always invariably set off the smoke detector. Perhaps that's why I love cooking outdoors so much, anyways this is a must for picky eating children that love chicken nuggets.

1 cup whole-wheat, white, or panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup broccoli or spinach or sweet potato or beet puree
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound boneless, skinless chick breast or tenders, rinsed, dried, and cut into small chunks- I found that the breading and dredge mixture easily made enough for 2 lbs of chicken
1/2 tsp sale
Nonstick cooking spray- I use olive oil cooking spray
1 tbsp olive oil

1. In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, flaxseed meal, Parmesan, paprika, garlic, and onion powder on the paper or foil, and mix well with your fingers

2. In a shallow bowl, mix the vegetable puree and egg with a fork and set the bowl next to the breadcrumb mixture.

3. Sprinkle the chicken chunks with the salt. Dip the chunks into the egg mixture and then toss them in the breadcrumbs until completely coated.

4. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the oil. Place the chicken nuggets in the skillet in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook until crisp and golden on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Then turn and cook until the chicken is cooked through, golden brown and crisp all over, 4 to 5 minutes longer. (Cut into a piece to check that it's cooked through.) Serve warm.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Baked Eggplant Chips

We found this recipe from Jen over at Beantown Baker. Jennie and I have been wanting to expand they type of vegetables we eat and do them in a way that makes them tasty: as we do not venture out of the normal green beans, corn, and carrots for example. Jen does an excellent job of describing the process of making these wonderful treats. Jennie and I have never, or at least to our memory, had egg plant so this was something new to us both. We loved it and will be sure to make it again.

1 medium zucchini- I used one large eggplant, it was all Target had and made enough for 2 people
1 Tbsp Kraft Free Italian Salad Dressing- I used what ever Italian Dressing we had on hand and you can easily just use your favorite
1/8cup seasoned bread crumbs- I upped the amount to 1/2 cup
1/2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese- I upped the amount to 2 Tbsp

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice zucchini (eggplant) into 1/4" slices, toss in bowl with Italian dressing.

Mix breadcrumbs and cheese in a bowl and dredge coated zucchini slices through mixture. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and lay zucchini (eggplant) flat.

Bake for 20 minutes, flipping chips once halfway through. After 20 minutes, remove baking sheet from oven and turn broiler on high. broil on each side for 2-3 minutes. Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.

Yields 2 servings

Friday, July 9, 2010

How I Choose My Recipes

As I take the jump into blogging and back into some of the other food social forums, I feel it’s necessary to spend a little time on how I choose my recipes. In my house we try to eat as healthy as we can while still meeting the time constraints that life puts on us. We have a little girl who is now 14 months old, and like any kid she doesn’t care for veggies. To make sure she gets the appropriate servings of veggies we have had to hide them in meals that we know she’ll eat. Jennie found some wonderful recipe books that do just that and I will be sure to reference the books I pull recipes from and any changes I may make. The next thing that we base our recipe decisions on is how healthy it is. Jennie and I are currently trying to lose that baby weight; yes I have baby weight to lose. We eat a lot of lean meats; like boneless chicken breast, lean pork chops, lean ground beef, turkey breast, and on a occasion buffalo burger when we can find it. If any one has a recipe they want me to try, leave it in a comment and I’ll give it a go.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Here We Go

I have decided to make the dive into blogging and since my lovely wife has graciously taken care of blogging about our life and her reading habits. I guess that leaves me to blog about our eating habits, I am the primary cook in our family after all. My hope for this blog is to be a place to share my adventures, success, disasters, lessons learned, tips, tricks, recipes, how-to, how-not-to, and just about anything else that’s cooking related. I look forward to what lies ahead and can’t wait to get started.
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