Sunday, September 4, 2011

50 Pounds of Delight...Welcome to Autumn!

We took the family to the Orchard today for a day of picking. Go figure it was a smolteringly hot day...but, we survived! We managed to pick 50 pounds of delight! We went nuts; it was a BLAST! We picked 25 pounds of courtland apples, 15 pounds of yellow peaches, 10 pounds of pears and 5 pounds of nectarines. I told you we went a little crazy! I wanted to pick the veggie garden also, but the boys ran out of steam. The best part...all this fruitastic delight cost about $25! I know, I can't believe it either!

So, on the menu:
Apple Butter
Apple Turnovers

Peach Butter
Peach Cobbler
Peach Salsa
Frozen Peaches

Pear Sauce
Vanilla Pear Muffins or Pear Cranberry Bread
Canned Pears

Nectarines- not sure th plan for these yet, but we will see if they make it into anything or if I eat them all...they are my absolute FAVORITE!

Plus, I am going to back a few mini loaves of bana bread since I have some super ripe bananas.

I am thinking it is time for some Welcome to Autumn Baskets! for the neighbors! I them over now before winter comes and I need to make use of their snow blower! Hee hee!

Soy Ginger Back Ribs

Today, we found a particularly good deal on beef back ribs. There were packs of 4-5 big back ribs marked for approximately $2 a pack. I picked up the last 4 packs and knew exactly what was for dinner...

Soy Ginger Back Ribs
1/4c soy sauce
1/2c orange juice (or apple)
1T olive oil
1 1/2t ginger (I forgot to get fresh ginger at the store!)
1/4t chili powder
1/4t red pepper flakes

Put the ribs in a casserole dish. Whisk everything together and pour over the ribs. Bake for 2-2.5 hours at 300 degrees. Baste ever hour for added flavor.
***This would be super easy in a slow cooker too. Mine was in the process of making apple butter so stove it was! Just cook low for 3-4 hours.

Served over a Basmati Pilaf. I made a rice in the rice cooker and added very finely diced zucchini and yellow squash. It was a delicious meal!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter dip

The Farm close to our hose has this amazing assortment of homemade peanut butters. They always have samples out which I love to try. So, with that in mind, I decided to whip up some yummy homemade peanut butter dip for a snack for the boys served with organic apple slices! Yummy!

Homemade Peanut Butter Dip
4 T homemade peanut putter (I used chocolate hazelnut Nutella but better!)
2 T plain Greek Yogurt
1 T applesauce
dash of cinnamon (what is better with apples)

Whisk together and Serve...with apples of course!

A Healthy Cookie...Is It Possible?

I struggle with giving my sons sweets. I want to be able to give them sweet treats, but that usually means feeding them sugar laden junk sure to stick them to the ceiling. I am not sure about you, but I get tired of peeling my kid off the ceiling or dealing with the sugar breakdown after! So, I knew I had to come up with some other alternative my picky, sweet loving kid would indulge in. Enter the Chair-We Banana Coo-coo as my son calls it. You can call it a breakfast cookie, scone, healthy bar...I just call it good!

Cherry Banana Cookies
1 c Flour- wheat if you have it
1/2 c Ground Oat- I food processed quick oats
(you can use 1 1/2c four)
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
2T sugar (totally optional)
1/4 t cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 c cherries (I used fresh, you can use dried)
1 egg
1T Olive oil
1t vanilla (optional)
3 bananas mashed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the wet ingredients in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in another bowl. Add the wet to the dry. Scoop out golf ball sized scoops onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. (I used an ice cream scoop) Bake 15-20 minutes.

***Need a bit more umf, or have a craving for a bit of chocolate. Add 1/4 c white chocolate chips and 1/4 c chopped macadamia nuts!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ameri-terranean Pita Sammies

Today was a hungry craving/clean the fridge day. I needed to use up my left over pitas and had a few random bits left in the fridge that I didn't want to just toss, so, this is what I created.

Ameri-terranean Pita Sammies
1 pita cut in half
a few slices of avacado
a few slices of roasted red pepper
chopped up roasted chicken
a slice of tomato

Pile them in a pita and voila...a healthy yummy lunch. Oh and I had apple slices on the side... totally works...right!?!?

Perfect Brown Rice

My version of the Perfect Brown Rice!!!

2 cups rice
3 1/3 cup water
dash of salt

1. Bring water with oil to a boil and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. As soon as water is boiling, put it , the salt and rice in a pyrex. (Make sure you lid is tight!)
3. Bake for an hour covered. Then, fluff and bake 5 more minutes.

***The key to great rice here is to pull the water off the stove as soon as it starts boiling so the water doesn't evaporate. I also pour everything in and put a layer of aluminum foil between the dish and the lid just to ensure no steam leaks out!

To freeze the perfect brown rice. Allow to cool, then place in a very thin layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, break up and place in a ziplock bag!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Goulash Style Stuffed Peppers

I traditionally do not partake in stuffed peppers. I find they to be just down right boring. If I want a meat filling, I would prefer meatloaf. At least with meatloaf I can ensure it does not turn out to be a dry, overcooked meatball! So, that got me to thinking....why do stuffed peppers have to be made with ground meat? Why not goulash??? Hmm...

Goulash Style Stuffed Peppers

1 lbs beef (I used beef cubes which I cut into even smaller chunks)
3 red bell pepper
3 shallots (So, I can hide the onion from my hubbie)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups beef broth
2 T tomato paste
1 T oregano
1/2 tsp chili
olive oil
4 T red wine
salt & pepper
(def. could add veggies here very easily without the family knowing!!! Maybe next time!!!)

1. Saute garlic and shallots until tender in olive oil. Then, add your small cubes of beef. Saute for another 5-6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, 1cup of broth, wine and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer until tender.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the peppers by slicing in half and removing seeds. Place in a pan with 3T of broth and bake for 10 minutes. Stir remaining broth into the meat and spoon into peppers. Cover with foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.

I LOVED this version! Plus, it was a great excuse to enjoy a nice bottle of red wine with dinner! I served with a ricotta brown rice. I figured since stuffed peppers traditionally have cheese and rice, this would make for a nice (deconstructed) side. I just prepared the brown rice as usually and then added 2-3 T of ricotta. Delish (easy) dinner!

These could easily be frozen before the final bake for an easy re-heat meal!

Black Bean Falafel Burgers

I found a recipe for black bean burgers and decided they had to be on the menu this week! I am SO glad I did. I adapted the original recipe from one created by Clean Eating.

 Black Bean Falafel Burgers

1 medium carrots, grated (I grated 4 baby carrots)
2 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kale
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2T Worcestershire
3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 c cooked mixed veggies (I had grilled yellow squash, zucchini, red peppers and onions from kabobs the other night, so, I added them to the food processor)

1. Put the Kale, beans and veggies in the food processor. Pulse several times. Bean should have some chucks still, but no whole beans...don't over process. (I processed the Kale and veggies first, then added the beans)
2. In a large bowl, combine bean mix and the remaining ingredients. mix by hand until everything is combined. Then, form 1/3c sized patties.
3. Grill.

I severed on thin buns with avocado and salsa. My mom also dipped in sour cream! They were delicious! Definitely very reminiscent of Falafel...something I LOVE!!! Plus there was enough left over to freeze!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Layered Mexican Pizza

I surprised myself and my husband tonight with this delight! It was SUPER easy and absolutely delish! Plus by limiting the cheese I really cut out a lot of calories.

Mexican Layered Pizza
1/3-1/2 lb beef, cubed
1/4 red pepper, chopped.
1/2 can black beans
1/2 c corn
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can enchilada sauce
6 whole wheat tortillas
1/4c cheese

1. Combine the drained and rinsed black beans with the corn and about a 1/4 cup enchilada sauce. Set aside.
2. Prepare beef cubes by chopping up into small bits. (This will make your pizza much easier to eat and will also help with any chewy cuts you have) Then, saute with a little bit if olive oil and the chopped red peppers. Saute just a few minutes, the bits of beef will cook quickly. Then, add a 1/4c of enchilada sauce and turn the heat down to low. Allow to cook down while you prepare the tortillas.
3. Brown tortillas. This can be done2 ways depending on your preference. I prefer to fry each one in a tiny bit of oil over low heat. Allow each side to brown. Or, you can brown each side under the broiler.
4. Layer your pizza. I used a large, white corning dish sprayed with Pam. Please a tortilla at the bottom. Then layer. One layer of beans and corn, then a layer of beef. Repeat until you have used all your ingredients. I had enough for 2 layers of beans and 2 layers of beef. Then, top with your final tortilla with a scoop or two of enchilada sauce and the cheddar cheese.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Slice into portions and serve with a dollop of sour cream or avocado.

Edit: We all went back for seconds later in the evening because this was so good! I will put the recipe at the front of my card book.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

My husband has become a lover of all things hot! So, I decided to make slides with the leftover skinless boneless chicken breasts. Here is what I created...

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1T butter
1/3 c hot sauce (I used Franks)
Romaine lettuce

1. I pounded down the chicken breasts and then grill. Once cooked through, allow to cool just a bit and chop up.
2. Microwave the butter for a few seconds until melted, then combine with hot sauce and cover chicken.
3. Cut open bread. Fill with chicken, sauce and lettuce.


Ranch spread: 2T ranch dressing and 2T cream cheese (cooking creme)

Blue Cheese Spread: 2T Sour cream, 1T blue cheese, 1t vinegar

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Baby Sugar Swirls

These are a really simple cookie that can easily be dressed up for any occassion. I love them because even you don't have to have a steady icing hand or know how to make icing roses to make a pretty cookie. So, here goes....

Baby Sugar Swirls
2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2/3 c powdered sugar
1/4 cup Splenda
1 1/4c Healthy Choice Buttery Spread
1 tsp vanilla OR almond
Food coloring
1 Canister of color sprinkles (or any confection)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put parchement paper down on your cookie sheet.
2. Combine all dry ingredients. Then, add the butter in using your stand up mixer. While mixing, add your extract. Once combined removed half the batter and put in a small bowl in the freezer.
3. Add a few drops of food coloring and mix until you reach the desired color.
4. On a countertop, put down a sheet of clear wrap. Remove your dough from the freezer and place on the clear wrap. Put the colored dough in the bowl and place in the freezer.
5. Flatten the dough on the clear wrap a bit and then place a piece of wax paper (or another cling wrap) and roll out to about 1/4" thick. Remove cover dough from the freezer and repeat the process.
6. Once both have been rolled out, place the rolled colored dough ontop of the other. Roll up from the longest side. Now, roll up in clear wrap and place back in the freeze for about 10 minutes.
7. Remove from freezer, roll in your sprinkles and slice 1/2" cookies. Place on your parchment lined cookie sheet  and bake for 15 minutes.

Original Recipe Courtesy of Our Italian Kitchen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blog turned Book

It seems like evryone is making a cook book now -a- days! Half the time I thumb throw a cookbook and find there is only a recipe or two I would actually make. My simple tastes I guess! Yet, there is one new cookbook I can't wait to get my hands on!

I Love this blog. They always have amazing recipes and heartfelt stories to share. I started reading this blog about a year ago and have been hooked ever since. So, if you have the time, check it out at Mennonite Girls Can Cook!!! If you like their recipes as much as I do, check out their amazing cookbook! All proceeds go to help help children in the Ukraine!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Recipe Philosophy

What is your philosophy on cooking?
First...have I mentioned lately that I LOVE cooking? I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. I love the satisfaction of preparing something yummy for those I love. I find it fulfilling. I love the process, be it simple or complex. For me, it is therapeutic.

Step by step, be it stirring, chopping or kneading, it is so easy to get lost in the process. The world slows and chaos subsides. Ok, so the chaos subsides as much as possible with 2 rambunctious little boys and a phone that is always ringing. Either way, a calm sets in and the process begins.

So, how do I chose what to serve to my family. Well, I am a purist at heart. For me this means recipes without all the glitz and glamour. I prefer to cook from scratch with simple ingredients. You won't find 700 spices or the latest cooking gadgets in my kitchen. I don't find them necessary to produce good tasting, quality food.

Food should speak for itself. A potato should taste like a potato. No rosemary infused garlic cream cheese mashed potatoes in this house. I just don't see the need. Sure I could fancy up a box of instant potatoes, but you and I both know you can taste the difference. When you take the time to peel, boil and mash your potatoes you don't have to worry about clearing out the spice cabinet to mask the processed flavor of instant. Sure it make take a little bit longer, but I am confident in the food I serve. I swear I should be living on a kibbutz I know you think I am!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Step 1: Removing the WHITE! and, serving the BROWN

Every notice pasta is ALWAYS bogo at the grocery store? My husband loves pasta and even my super picky son is finally starting to enjoy. So, I want to make sure that I offer a healthy alternative. Thus, I have started to purchase whole wheat pasta. It isn't on sale as often, but when the deals come around, I am stocking up. I have not totally won my hubbie over with this yet, but it is a work in progress! He just doesn't have a choice!

Another staple my husband loves is rice. His new obsession is the quick minute rice that you microwave in the package. Doesn't that just scream healthy! Yikes! To me it just tastes... well...weird...microwaved...mush! Lord knows, I don't even want to turn that box over to look at the label. I am sure it has more than 4-6 ingredients and I bet I can't read half of them! So ix-nay on that...okay! Instead of white, we will go brown! I know I will meet a lot of opposition on this one, but I live for a challenge right!!! I mean I knew this wouldn't be easy! So, here is a great simple recipe to get me started!

 Perfectly Simple Brown Rice
(Courtesy of Freeze your way Fit) 

3 c brown rice
4 2/3 c water
2 T olive oil
1 t salt

1. Preheat oven to 375. Yes! I said the oven! Put the rice in a 9x13 baking dish. Bring the water to a boil, then pour over the rice. Next add the oil and salt. Give a quick stir. Cover the dish with foil to keep all that gorious steam in. Bake for 1 hour.
2. Remove from the oven, fluff and let cool for a minute or two.

If you haven't noticed yet, this makes a HUGE dish of rice. Way more than my small family of 3 can consume. So, I dish up what we need for the night, then I freeze slightly large single serving portions in individual containers. Once frozen, slide out of the container and place in a large ziplock. That way, next time we want rice all I have to do is micro  it for 45 seconds and serve! Since I often have to work at night, this is a great time saver!

My new kick(s)!

Have you noticed lately that the prices of food are moving sky high! I was shocked this week when I went to the store to buy pork chops and a family pack was prices at $15! How can anyone afford to eat with these prices. Knowing what is going on around the world, with rising oils prices shortages of corn and weather wreaking havoc on many crops, I only expect food prices to get higher and higher. This has lead my normally level headed husband to start watching survivalist videos on youtube. Some of these people are pretty far out, but I totally understand their concept. Between the survivalists mentality and the extreme couponing rage right now, my husband and I are starting to stock pile some food. Nothing outrageous, just stocking up on the foods we eat when the prices are low.

I am also going back to sneaking veggies into my foods. In an ideal world my husband would willingly sit down to a plate of teriyaki glazed portabellas served with brown rice and edamame. Oh yeah and a zucchini, Kale and Cabbage smoothie. Yet, this idea world doesn't exist. My husbands ideal of the dinner is fried pork chops, mashed potatoes and corn. He might throw a nice iceberg lettuce salad in there with oil and vinegar, but that is the extent of it! So, I have to find a way to incorporate healthy vegetables into yummy foods my family will eat with out telling them! So, Dicey Debbie because I am dicing up and dishing out some new healthy recipes. (Hopefully they go over well, I am sure I am going to get the side eye on some of these stuff. That won't stop me though!)

Yet, we are still on an EXTREMELY tight budget. My weekly budget is $75. This must include everything...meats, produce, cleaning supplies, detergents, a bit of formula, ect...  So, couponing is a must! The thing I find hard about couponing is finding simple ingredients on sale to stock up on that are not full of over processed crap! I hate that! It is possible though...jut really have to look and work the deals.

Let's see where this process takes me....Are you gonna jump on board?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Smokey Zuccchini Soup

I know you just read the title and went...wha...Zucchini soup. Trust me it is delicious! Since it is the end of the season and I still have a several zucchini sitting around, I decided to make some soup. This is great soup to hide veggetables  if your husband...errr...I mean kids don't like vegetables. This hearty soup is oustanding addition to a cool summer night!

Smokey Zucchini Soup

3 slices of pancetta, bacon or smoked meat
1 onion, minced
2-3 zucchini, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 c chicken or vegetable broth
1/4c feta
2/3c cream
1. Brown bacon until crispy and tehn remove from pot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Then, stir in the zucchini and potatoes. Cover and allow to cook down until softened (5-7 minutes).
2. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until veggies are tender (about 20 minutes). Remove soup and puree. Then, retrun to pot and add cream and feta. Season with salt and pepper. Turn heat to low until warmed all the way through. Garnish with panchetta (or bacon).

Cinnamon pancakes

Why waste your money on those tasteless frozen pancakes. They are SO simple to make and can have so many different flavors. Today's flavor...cinnamon. A perfect pairing with my left over homemade applesauce.

Cinnamon Pancakes

Sift: 3 cups flour, 4-5t baking powder, 5T sugar, 4t cinnamon, 1t nutmeg

Combine: 2 1/2c milk, 3 eggs, 3T melted butter

Mix half the dry ingredients into the wet. Once combined mix in the remaingin dry mix. Allow to sit 15-20 mintes. Then, heat up the griddle and get to work!!!

This recipe made 25 large sand dollar pancakes. I place on cookie sheets or plastic cutting boards to freeze. The key is to make sure they do not overlap. Once frozen, remove from freezer and transfer to ziplock!

Picky Eaters: Soup

My son is a very picky eater. Half the time I cannot even get him to taste what I am offering, but today I decided to play to his fancy...Letters!

Simple Alphabet Soup
Chicken stock (or a few cups of water and a few boullion cubes)
Alphabet pasta

Bring to a boil and cook until pasta is tender.

Normally I would recommend cuting up tiny carrot cuves, but I didn't want to push it! I was content that he even ate this!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crunchy Buffulo Chicken Bites

My hubbie LOVE buffalo chicken wings, but I am not a big fan of chicken wings. So, I came up with this alternative!

Crunchy Buffalo Chicken Bites
1-2 Breasts of chicken, cut into 1-2" pieces
2 eggs
1T hot sauce
1 c flour
1.5 c corn flakes, crushed
Kebob sticks

1. Once chicken is cut into pieces, thread onto kebob sticks.
2. Dredge sticks in flour.
3. Coat in beaten eggs and hot sauce.
4. Roll in cruched corn flakes.
5. Fry in a pan with 2-3T oil. (I fryed at 340 degrees until golden brown on all sides).

Serve with ranch/blue cheese and celery!! Yummy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Meal Plan Monday...on Tuesday..AGAIN!

Happy New Years! I can't believe another year has passed and oh so quickly! Things have been exceptionally busy lately...even for the holidays. I haven't had much time to think more than a day or so ahead so a meal plan rather low on my list of things to do...even though I find it exceptionally helpful. I also haven't really thought about resolutions because I don't think much of them! I will say one thing I have been focused on at the end of this year that I will continue to focus on with this new year and that is spending!

I have worked really hard to decrease my weekly grocery bill. My first goal was to increase the amount of groceries I was able to purchase with my weekly budget of $100. Then, the goal became to reduce my weekly grocery budget to $75. I have successfully accomplished both. I spend on average $75 a week and purchase between $150-$200+ worth of groceries. I have really struggled to lower my weekly bill below $75, but my goal over the next few months is to reduce it by another $15. Ultimately, I would love to spend about $50 a week on groceries. This is truly a challenge for me (esp. when my husband comes shopping with me), but it can be done! I know I can do it! So, that is my challenge/resolution for this year!

Monday and Tuesday: Bean Soup with Cornbread
Wednesday and Thursday: Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage...I can't wait!)
Friday: Chicken Chipolte Style burritos
Saturday: Marinated Chicken over Tortellini
Sunday: Homemade Pizza

Baking for the Week: Blueberry Streusel and a Birthday cake

The Sarma will be a lot of work..ok...not really a lot of work, but time consuming. Yet, it is SO WORTH THE EFFORT!!! The rest of the week will be really simple stuff! Should make for a really easy cooking week!

Pinto Bean Soup...Croatian Style

We STILL had ham left over and I needed to make something to use it ALL up. We are all a bit HAMMED OUT!! So, I thought it was time for some bean soup.

Pinto Bean Ham Soup
1 bag pinto beans
Left over bits of ham and the ham bone
(Or purchase a ham steak)
1 small bag sauerkraut, crained but NOT rinsed

1. Soak beans overnight OR use canned beans. Drain.
2. Place drained beans in the slow cooker along with all other ingredients. Cover with water and cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Serve with yummy fresh bread or cornbread!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hot and Sweet Cornbread

We are going to a BBQ for the football games today and I wanted to bring something. Needless to say I have yet to go shopping, so my selection was rather slim. Hence, Hot and Sweet Cornbread to the rescue. This is slightly different from the cornbread I usually make, but I thought it basic cornbread just wouldn't do! Oh and the sweet thing about this cornbread is that you can make it using Jiffy mix if you don't want to go through the hassle of making truly homemade cornbread!

1/2 cup of butter
1/4 cup of white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 t baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
(OR, make Jiffy mix according to package and skip the above ingredients)
1/2 t salt
1 cup of sweet corn kernels (or about 1/2 a can)
1 jalapeno (sliced and chopped)

1. Mix everything together and pour into a baking dish. (You may want to grease). Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. (I made it in a loaf pan and it only needed about 12 minutes)

I also made an extra one for tonight to serve with my Pinto Bean Soup! Super yummy!