Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rice Pilaf

You never have to settle for plain rice again.  Use this recipe as a starting point and experiment with your own variations.

Rice Pilaf
Adapted from "The Language of Baklava" by Dianna Abu-Jaber

4 - 6 tablespoons butter (can substitute/blend with olive oil)
4 ounces spaghetti noodles, crumbled (can substitute any tiny pasta - orzo, pastina, etc.)
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water (or homemade/low-sodium chicken broth)
1 teaspoon salt (leave out if using broth)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pepper to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in bottom of large heavy saucepan with lid.  Crumble uncooked spaghetti into warmed butter, stir until spaghetti just begins to "toast".  Add rice, and if needed additional butter.  Continue to stir until rice is coated and spaghetti begins to smell nutty.  Add liquid and salt and turn up heat to bring to a boil.  Once water is boiling, cover with lid and lower fire to simmer, approx. 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes.
Melt remaining butter in small sautee' pan and toast pine nuts until golden.

Sprinkle butter and pine nuts over rice and dust with cinnamon.  Add pepper to taste.

  • Add or substitute almonds or pecans for the pine nuts and/or add dried cranberries, golden raisins, dried cherries.
  • To make a rice dressing or to make this dish a main course, add cooked crumbled sausage or ground beef/turkey.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding (edited)

In New Orleans, everyone has a favorite bread pudding recipe:  some with pineapple, some with raisins and apples, many with "hard" sauce (see below).  I tried a new variation on my mother's bread pudding recipe.  DS and I LOVE pumpkin, so as an alternative to Krispy Kreme's Pumpkin Spice Cake Donuts, I thought I would make a special Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding.

(If you have never had bread pudding, it is like a big baked pan of french toast.)

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding

4 cups stale bread cubes (french bread and brioche are best, but any bread will work - even stale cake doughnuts, remember to adjust the sugar accordingly)
3 cups milk (I used 2 cups milk and 1 cup almond milk)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 can pumpkin (approx. 1 cup)
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (adjust to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (you can adjust to your taste - you can also add sauce)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
2 tablespoons Steen's Cane Syrup (optional)

If you do not have stale bread, place sliced/cubed bread on a sheet pan with sides and "toast" in a very low oven, just enough to dry out the bread.

Place bread cubes in a buttered baking dish.  In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients, except pecans, making sure to fully beat eggs.  Slowly, pour custard mixture over the bread.  Allow bread to absorb the custard mixture.  Sprinkle pecans over the top, and gently stir into mixture.  Allow mixture to sit about 5 minutes to allow custard mixture to soak into bread.

Set baking dish into a larger dish, filling the larger dish with water (bain-marie).  Bake in 350 degree oven for approx. 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean and custard is cooked.

Delicious warm, or at room temperature (I will even eat it straight from the fridge).  If desired, top with sauce (see below), or you may also use whipped cream, melted jelly, or dust with powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Spice Sauce
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix ingredients until sugar is dissolved.  Add more water or sugar to desired consistency.

For a "hard" sauce, add 1 jigger of bourbon, rum, Cointreau or your favorite liquour.

Slow-Cooked Lentils

This is a great quick and economical meal.  It is not the most beautiful dish (especially if you let the lentils become over-done), but it is delicious.  This makes about 7 one cup servings.

16 ounces lentils (approx. 2 heaping cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can diced tomatoes (I like the fire roasted)
3 cups chicken broth (can substitute water or beef broth)
1 cup diced sausage (can substitute ham or leave out for vegetarian meal)
salt and pepper to taste (if using broth and sausage or ham, do not add additional salt)

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, cover.
Cook on high for 4 - 5 hours.
At 4 hours check for doneness and, if necessary, add additional liquid if it has been absorbed by lentils.

Serving suggestions:
  • Serve with a chunk of good quality bread.
  • To make a complete protein, serve over rice (white or brown).
  • Add a few teaspoons of chili powder to make lentil chili.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Apple and Sage Pork Chops

My guys love pork chops and (since I can take them or leave them) I am always looking for new recipes.
DS actually suggested this recipe when he saw a McCormick's Recipe Inspirations spice mix at the grocery store.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention, so I made several changes from the original recipe:
  • used a  thinner 1/2 -inch chop in place of 1-inch
  • substituted chicken broth and teaspoon of honey for apple juice
  • added pepper and Tabasco
  • reduced the amount of sage and thyme
  • increased the garlic (just a little)

While prepping my ingredients, I had pictures of Peter Brady saying "pork chops and applesauce" running through my head.   The sauce was wonderfully thick and rich with the right balance of sweet and savoryI hope you enjoy this fall-inspired dish as much as we did.

Apple and Sage Pork Chops

1 1/4 pounds boneless pork chops (1/2 - 1 inch thick - based on your preference)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dehydrated minced garlic (if you use fresh garlic, add it to the pan with the apples)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 red apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple juice (or chicken broth)
1 teaspoon Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
  • Rinse and pat dry pork chops.
  • Season flour with spices, salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with seasoned flour.
  • Heat olive oil in large skillet and brown pork chops on both sides over medium-high heat.
  • Remove pork chops from skillet and put in warm oven.
  • Add onion, cook and stir for 3 minutes.  Add extra olive oil or a little butter, if needed.
  • Add apples, cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Add extra olive oil or a little butter, if needed.  Add fresh garlic, if using.
  • Stir in juice, Tabasco, sugar, honey and any remaining seasoned flour until well mixed.
  • Return pork chops to skillet, bring to boil and reduce heat to low.
  • Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until desired doneness.
Serve with buttered egg noodles and steamed green beans.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pumpkin Penne

September 29th is Pumpkin Day!!  One of my favorite foods.  I thought you might like trying pumpkin in a different way.  We will be having this for dinner tonight followed by pumpkin pie.  I will try to add a picture to the post after dinner.

Pumpkin Penne

1 12 ounce box whole-wheat penne (you can substitute your favorite pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped (can replace with 1/4 cup onion or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

  • Cook pasta according to box directions, drain and return to pot.  Cover to keep warm.
  • In saucepan, heat oil on medium.  Add shallots, coook and stir until tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Whisk in broth, evaporated milk, pumpkin, spice, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer uncovered for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Toss pasta with sauce.
  • Top individual servings with parsley and parmesan

Monday, September 20, 2010

Swordfish and Spaghetti with Citrus Pesto

Recipe from Giada DeLaurentis/Food Network

This was delicious, but I did not stop to take a photo.  This was the first time I have ever had swordfish and it is a wonderful firm flesh fish.  If you are in a hurry or don't have any fresh basil, you could use jarred pesto and add the lemon and orange zest and juice.
For the Citrus pesto:

1 pound spaghetti pasta (recommended: Barilla)
1 bunch fresh basil, about 3 cups leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan

For the Swordfish:
4 (6-ounce) swordfish steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.

Blend the basil, pine nuts, garlic, zests, juices, salt, and pepper in a food processor until the mixture is finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Toss with the warm spaghetti and the reserved pasta water.

Meanwhile, place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush both sides of the swordfish fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the swordfish 3 to 4 minutes a side for a 1-inch thick fillet.

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter and top with the grilled swordfish fillets and serve.

Mock Oyster Dip

I loved this dip as a child and it was the only food I craved while pregnant (guess it was the broccoli)

4 packages chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 8-ounce can mushroom pieces (to use fresh mushrooms see below)
Salt and red pepper
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 roll garlic cheese, sliced
1 bunch green onions
1 stick butter

Sauté green onions in butter.
Add soup; when hot, add cheese and melt.
Add broccoli and mushrooms.
Salt and red pepper to taste.

Best when hot. Serve with your favorite chips.  I also like dipping veggies in this dip.

If using fresh mushrooms - slice (and lightly chop for small pieces) fresh mushrooms, then saute' with the green onions until soft and cooked through.
Kraft garlic cheese roll is impossible to find.  You may substitute with Velveeta and some diced jalapenos or check the deli cheese case for a similar substitute.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

This was the first time I ever cooked with butternut squash or made risotto, but it will not be the last.  This was really yummy and creamy and wonderful.

You will have several things going at once - squash roasting in the oven that needs to be stirred every 10 minutes, near constant stirring of the risotto on the stove and toasting of the walnuts - this will be much easier with another person to help (or at least keep kids occupied, phones answered, etc.) so you are not far from the stirring for long because the risotto will stick to the bottom of the pot if it goes unstirred too long.  The stirring would be a great job for an older child so you can focus on the squash and nuts (I burned over-toasted my first batch of walnuts).

I made a few alterations -
  • dried herbs (use 1/2 of the recommended fresh quantity)
  • vegetable broth
  • no mushrooms (DS is anti-mushroom at the moment)
  • it took more broth than stated in the recipe, so have some extra on hand
Recipe adapted from the September/October 2010 issue of Clean Eating magazine

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto with Walnuts
3 cups peeled, diced fresh butternut squash
EVOO or olive oil cooking spray
Sea salt and pepper to taste
4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon EVOO
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
1 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (I used dried)
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced (I used dried)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup shredded fontina or Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

  1. Peel squash with vegetable peeler and dice.
  2. Toss squash in EVOO, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast squash rimmed baking sheet in a in 425 oven for 20 - 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Bring broth to a simmer in saucepan and keep warm.
  5. Saute onion in 1 tablespoon of EVOO over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more.  Add rice and stir to coat with oil and vegetables.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of warm broth; simmer ans stir until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add another 1/2 cup of warm broth, simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost all evaporated.
  8. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, allow to simmer until liquid is evaporated.
  9. Taste rice after 3/4 of the broth has been added.  Rice is done when it's tender but still slightly firm and white in the very center (not chalky).  Continue adding broth until only 1/2 cup remains.  (Add more broth to warm if necessary -- I needed an extra one cup of broth).
  10. Add thyme, sage, peas and chees to pan with last 1/2 cup of broth; stir until cheese melts.
  11. Remove pan from heat before all liquid is absorbed.  Gently fold in cooked squash and walnuts.
  12. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Banana Nut Bread

Recipe adapted from River Roads Recipes II

Banana Nut Bread
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour, measured after sifting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
3 small or 2 large bananas, very ripe
1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until fluffy.
  4. Add sifted dry ingredients, alternating with milk, bananas and pecans.
  5. Beat well after each addition.
  6. Bake in well buttered baking dish (approx. 6 1/2 x10 1/2 or a little larger) for 50 minutes or until brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

This recipe got rave reviews from both DH and DS and they are both big banana bread fans.

The original recipe called for cake flour, which I did not have, so I substituted regular flour.  I may try partially substituting whole wheat flour the next time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meal Planning #2

It is still monstrously hot here, but with the start of cross-country practice, I have to up the calorie and carb content to keep up DS's weight and energy.  The real trick is for DH and I to avoid gaining any weight.

Monday - Dinner at Grandma's - Paneed pork chops, mashed potatoes*, peas and corn
Tuesday - Dinner at Grandma's - Coconut shrimp, garlic spaghetti and steamed broccoli
Wednesday - Butternut squash risotto and green salad
Thursday - Grilled chicken, boiled mini potatoes and steamed broccoli and green salad
Friday - Dinner and a Movie - Killer Shrimp Pasta and green salad with Free Willy Parfaits
Saturday - Roast beef, mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and steamed broccoli
Sunday - Chicken Cacciatore over pasta green salad and garlic bread

Found a new quick and easy idea I will be trying breakfast tomorrow-- DS loves oatmeal, this sounds like it beats the instant stuff - 50's Housewife Baked Oatmeal.

*Have you ever tried Ore Ida Steam-n-Mash?  I am sure I laughed at this when I first saw the commercial (frozen chunky cut potatoes steam in the bag, then you mash and add milk and butter.)  If I am going to do the work of real mashed potatoes, I might as well use fresh not frozen mashed potatoes.  I assumed you would end up with a gluey, tasteless, watery textured poor substitute (frozen dinner mashed potatoes anyone?).  I WAS WRONG. 

These are WAY BETTER than instant mashed potatoes, and dare I say, come very close to homemade.  The only thing missing was the lumps.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

German Chocolate Cupcakes (Semi-Homemade)

1 box Duncan Hines German Chocolate Cake mix

1 can Duncan Hines Cream Cheese frosting
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans

I used a "Texas"-sized cupcake pan so I made 12 very generous cupcakes.  Next time, I will make these in regular or mini size.  They are very rich and just a little too large.

Prepare cake mix according to directions and bake in cupcake tins.

Add almond extract, vanilla and ginger to icing and stir to combine.  The ginger and almond help to cut the sweetness of the icing.

After removing cupcakes from oven, spread coconut and pecans on a sheet pan with sides and toast.  Just a few minutes, it goes from barely done to over done very quickly.

After cupcakes are cool, frost each and sprinkle with coconut and pecans.


Monday, August 16, 2010


One of my favorite Lebanese dishes is Kibbeh (also, Kibby, Kibbe).  It is usually shaped like a football-ish meatball.  It is a shell of meat and bulgar containing loose browned seasoned meat and deep fried.  It is a great introduction to Lebanese food.  There are several variations of kibbeh, including a Raw Kibbeh (the raw kibbeh is shaped into a flat meatloaf shape and topped with the cooked filling, hashwee, and drizzled with olive oil), and Baked Kibbeh (ingredients layered in a baking dish, cut into diamond shapes and baked).


2 lbs lean ground beef (or lamb)
4 cups #1 cracked wheat (bulgar)
2 medium onions
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and allspice
1 teaspoon dried mint (2 tablespoons fresh)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Kibbeh stuffing (see recipe below)

  • Wash wheat and let soak about 20 minutes.
  • In blender, put onions, mint, basil and 1/2 cup water, blend for a few seconds.
  • Squeeze water out of wheat and place in large bowl.
  • Season wheat with salt, pepper and spices, knead with hands.
  • Add meat and blender mixture to wheat, knead.  Add a little water if necessary.
  • Set aside and make stuffing.

Kibbeh Filling (Hashwee)

2 pounds ground chuck
3 onions, chopped
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon all spice
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

  • Brown meat until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly.  Drain fat.
  • Add onions and seasonings, simmer until onions are tender.
  • Add lemon juice.
Take about 1/3 cup of the shell ingredients and make a small patty.  Hollow the patty, fill with hashwee mixture and seal the hole. 

Deep fry kibbeh until done.

Serve with pita bread, hummus and yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce (make the day before)

6 - 8 ounces plain yogurt (preferable whole milk, greek style)
1/2 cucumber, seeded
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • Strain the yogurt overnight in cheese cloth or a coffee filter.
  • Seed cucumber, chop into small pieces and dry with paper towels.
  • Mix cucumber, mint and a pinch of salt into yogurt.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dinner and a Movie - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Light as a Cloud Meatballs and Steve-ghetti
Over-Mutated Garlic Bread
Ice Cream Snowball! (Blue Bell Happy Tracks)

Meatballs and Spaghetti
2 pounds ground turkey (can replace with ground beef if preferred)
1 medium onion, finely chopped/diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 cup beef broth
Italian Seasoning, to taste (oregano, basil, parsley, coriander, paprika, sage, thyme - whatever you like)
salt and pepper to taste

The secret to these meatballs is working the ground meat as little as possible.

Gently break up the ground meat in a large bowl. 
Add onion, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, olive oil and seasonings, evenly spreading over the turkey.
Pour beef broth over mixture, lightly toss ingredients to mix.
Gently form into balls, do not roll.
Line a cookie sheet with the meatballs so they do not touch.
Bake at 350 degrees until done (time depends on size of meatballs).  To test take a meatball out and break it open to check doneness.

Place meatballs in your favorite sauce (homemade or jar) and simmer for 30 minutes. 
Serve over your favorite pasta and top with parmesan.

Garlic Bread
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
french or Italian bread (I used Leidenheimer pistolettes)

Gently warm evoo, butter and garlic (on stove or in microwave).
Slice open bread, drizzle with olive oil mixture.
Toast under broiler, watch closely it is a short time from perfectly toasted to burnt.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some new summer time favorites

We have been trying a few new things this summer and my family has a few new favorites we wanted to share with you . . . (this is just us experimenting with new products and we have received no incentives, sponsorships, etc.)

Silk Pure Almond - Original
I used to drink soy milk, it took a little getting use to (okay, it took a lot of getting used to), but when DS was born, we switched to whole milk.  We have gradually moved down to organic skim milk, even DH will drink skim milk now, but only the organic - it is not so watery.  I decided to try the original Pure Almond last week and brought it home.  It is soooooo much better than soy milk! DS tried it and liked it, but DH won't even try.  It has fewer calories and less sugars than skim milk and has vitamin E, iron and potassium. It also does not feel as "heavy" as milk, which is great for this summertime heat. I have been using it as a substitute in some baking and am happy with the results.  It is also great in smoothies. 

Nature Valley Granola Thins
I like granola bars, they are a convenient take-along snack that can add to your daily intake of whole grain.  These are my new favorite treat.  It is a very thin granola "wafer" with a coating of dark chocolate on the bottom.  It is more crispy than crunchy so it is just right when you need a little something sweet. 

At only 80 calories, it beats those 100 calorie packs, and it is not too sweet.  Now you can enjoy a little whole grain with the antioxidants of dark chocolate.

Only one complaint, the chocolate melts quickly, so it is not a good choice for outdoor activities (unless you don't mind licking the chocolate off the paper and your fingers).

Dole Sensations Watermelon Juice
(sorry no photo) - This really does taste like watermelon in a glass.  DS goes nuts for this stuff (he is a water kid), so I have to ration it a little.  He must not be the only one, we had to go to 4 stores (over the course of a week) before we finally found some.  In this summertime heat, it makes a light refreshing break in what sometimes feels like endless glasses of water.  You could always juice a watermelon yourself, but I would rather be stitching and, at under $3, it is cheaper than juicing your own watermelon.

What are your favorite new products of the summer?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chicken with Okra and Tomatoes

Chicken with Okra and Tomatoes

This was a big hit with my guys, both went back for seconds and there were no leftovers.  I did not take time for a photo.  I will make it again at update this post with a photo - if I can get more okra at next week's Farmer's Market.

8 boneless chicken thighs (I usually use bone-in, but was short on cooking time)
1 pound okra, tops removed and sliced into rounds
1 onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 cup rice, cooked (white or brown)

Heat skillet with a little olive oil, add okra and stir occasionally over medium-low heat.  Cook until it no longer makes strings when you stir.  Add onions, cook until translucent and soft.  Add tomatoes and heat through. Add seasonings to taste.

In a deeper pan with a lid, brown chicken in olive oil.  When chicken no longer appears pink, add okra mixture.  Cover and simmer at low heat until okra gets to desired consistency (I don't like it too mushy)

Serve over rice.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oh, the possibilities . . .

This is my haul from the local farmer's market this morning . . .

Well, this and a jar of locally produced honey and
 a stuffed bread (with scrambled eggs, sausage and cheese).

The veggies were $5.50, the honey $6 and the stuffed bread was $3.

Check back later to see what I do with these lovely veggies!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grand Marnier Cranberry Muffins

After being so disappointed with the orange cranberry muffin mix earlier in the week, I thought I would try a homemade version.  This recipe is from one of my favorite culinary mysteries, Killer Pancake by Diane Mott Davidson.  I can highly recommend the recipe and the book.

1 1/4 cups orange juice
1/4 cup Grand Mariner liqueur
3/4 cup canola oil
2 cups chopped cranberries
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped orange zest
4 egg whites

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine the orange juice, Grand Marnier, and the oil; set aside while you prepare batter.
  • In a large bowl combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
  • In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy.
  • Combine the juice mixture with the beaten egg whites.
  • Add the egg mixture and the cranberries to the flour, stirring until just moist.
  • Using a 1/4 cup measure divide the batter among 24 muffin cups that have been fitted with paper lines.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.

Stuffed Crabs

Hearing that tar balls from the BP oil leak have been found in the waters nearby made me crave this dish.  It will be awhile before we will have any fresh crabs here, so I thought I might share it with you.

2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound crabmeat
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of thyme
1 tablespoon celery, chopped
4 slices toast
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
2 tablespoons green onions, sliced in slender rings

  • Saute onions and garlic in butter until tender.
  • Add crabmeat, bay leaves, salt, Worchestershire, thyme and celery.
  • Simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves.
  • Wet toast, squeeze to remove excess water and add to crab mixture.
  • Add parsley, egg and milk, mix thoroughly with crabmeat.
  • Place mixture in real or tin crab shells or in small mounds on baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs and dot with butter.
  • Bake 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until browned.

To make Crab Balls, use bread crumbs instead of toast and add a little water.  Make mixture into walnut sized balls, roll in bread crumbs, then place on buttered pan. Bake until edges start to brown.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Quick" Shrimp Creole Pasta

Serves 2 to 4 (depending on your appetite)

Medium-sized shaped pasta (I used bow ties)
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jar plain Marinara sauce
cayenne, to taste (or Tony Chacherere's, Tabasco, etc.)

  • Boil pasta to 'al dente' in salted water.
  • Saute' 1 medium diced onion and 1 diced bell pepper in EVOO, add garlic when onions are translucent.
  • Add 1-2 pounds (depends on the size of your pan and your appetite) peeled shrimp, cook until just pink, do not over-cook since they will continue to cook in the heated sauce.
  • Add one jar of your favorite MARINARA sauce and add a pinch of cayenne to taste
  • Heat to a simmer.
  • Serve shrimp and sauce over pasta.
Add a tossed salad and warm New Orleans French bread on the side

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meal Planning Week 1 - Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Week 1 Goal:  I love baking, but hate heating up the house with the oven during the summer.  My goal is to double up on my baking to utilize an already hot oven for multiple items and to use the toaster oven and bbq grill when possible.

I will update this entry with my notes during the week
 and hope to share a couple of recipes in another post.

  • Oatmeal - gotta love a kid that still loves oatmeal
  • Meatball Sandwiches - a real hit with my guys and really delicious on toasted Italian bread
  • Dinner out at our favorite Mexican restaurant - shared fajitas with DH and still had leftovers
  • Whole Grain Blueberry and Orange Cranberry Muffins - blueberry was a hit, but the OC flopped
  • Picnic - Sandwiches, Carrot and Celery Sticks and Grapes - picnic rained out, but still enjoyed yummy super sweet grapes
  • Grilled Honey Lime Chicken, Grilled Zucchini and Squash, and Grilled Corn on the Cob and Apple Spice Minicakes - Accepted a dinner invitation instead - yummy homemade lasagna
  • Eggs, Bacon and Biscuits - woke up my guys with a surprise breakfast in bed
  • Selection of cheese, crackers, bread. and fruit - a great break from house cleaning & DS discovered he likes brie!
  • Grilled Kibbeh Patties, Roasted Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj), Hummus with Za'atar-Spiced Grilled Pita Bread, and Feta Salad
  • Oatmeal
  • Salad Nicoise with Grilled Tuna
  • BBQ Chicken Thighs, Baked Beans, and Grilled Corn on the Cob
  • Oatmeal
  • Selection of cheese, crackers and fruit
  • Taco Taters (loaded tex-me potatoes (I will "bake" them on the grill with Thursday's chicken)
  • Grits
  • Quesadillas
  • Red Beans and Rice, Sausage and Jalapeno Cornbread
  • Bob's Mill Five Grain Cookies
  • Pancakes
  • Sandwiches and Fruit
  • Wood Grilled Salmon, Wilted Spinach, and Sweet Potato Fries