Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Product Review: Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I thought it might be fun to do an interesting product review from time to time.

I've been curious about the
Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. I've walked past it many times in my grocery store... and finally decided to give it a try. I picked up the Vanilla Bean flavor, since Vanilla Bean ice cream is one of my favorites.

The ice cream is sweetened with Agave Syrup, a "sweetener" substitute we've been playing around with here in our house, in tea instead of honey, or on oatmeal instead of brown sugar. It also contains no soy protein, is dairy and lactose free, cholesterol free, contains no trans fats, is certified vegan, and made with certified organic ingredients. The website boasts that this makes the ice cream much lower in fat, calories, and sugar, than most "premium" ice creams.

This can't taste good, can it? Oh yes it can!!! One bite and I was surprised at how creamy and flavorful the ice cream was. The coconut flavor was not overpowering either. I thought the ice cream would be much more "icy" and was surprised at how smooth it turned out to be. The one pint container I picked up was $4.99.... not too much more than a pint of Haagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry's.

It also comes in other fun flavors such as chocolate, chocolate peanut butter swirl, cookie dough, mint chip, mocha almond fudge, coconut, and passionate mango.

The company also makes a coconut milk yogurt which I have tried once, and loved. The downside to the yogurt though is the steep price of over $2.00 per 6 ounce cup. Well, once in awhile as a treat is ok, right?

I'm curious if anyone has a recipe for homemade coconut milk ice cream or yogurt? Has anyone attempted to make this at home? I'd love to give it a try!!!

I know what my TV snack is going to be tonight... : )

Penne with Braised Short Ribs

About a week and a half ago I was watching Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network... and she made this dish. I stocked my freezer with short ribs, found a lot of recipes that looked amazing, had them all ready to make, and then I came down with the flu. So, here we are a week and half later and my husband and I were finally able to make them!

This dish is so savory. I had never attempted short ribs before.. but it was well worth all the "trouble" to make. My husband actually helped make most of this dish, claiming his love for braising things. When the ribs came out of the oven, they weren't even on the bone anymore and were so tender! I will definitely be throwing short ribs in the crock pot this winter!

I found Giada's recipe on Food Network, and started with that one. Look for more short ribs soon!!!

This recipe would also be delicious simmering in the crock pot all day. Just prepare as directed, and place in the crockpot all day on low instead of the oven.

Braised Short Ribs with Penne
-serves 6-

4 Lbs. Beef Short Ribs
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 small Onions, chopped
6 cloves Garlic, coarsely chopped
6 Canned Roma Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup Red Wine
3-4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 cups Beef Broth
1 Lb Penne Pasta
Grated Parmesan and chopped Flat Leaf Parsley for serving


1. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a large heavy bottom dutch oven or ovenproof pot, heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the ribs and brown on all sides, approx. 8-10 minutes. Set the ribs aside.

2. Place an oven rack in the bottom 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350.

3. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently for approx. 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, and mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil, and scrape the brown tasty bits off the bottom of the pot.

4. Add the beef broth, cover the pan and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. (Ours took a longer because they were cut a little larger). The meat should be fork tender and falling off the bone.

5. Remove the ribs from the cooking liquid. Remove and excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Transfer the cooking liquid to a blender or food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour back into a saucepan to keep warm over low heat.

6. Remove the meat from the bones, discarding the bones. Using two forks, shred the meat into the sauce, discarding any large lumps of fat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. Cook your penne pasta as per directions, until al dente. Add the beef and sauce mixture to the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan and chopped parsley before serving.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baked Gemelli with Sausage and Broccolini

I was really struggling to come up with ideas this week... my brain was just dead. I turned to recipe searching again... and wound up on the Williams Sonoma Recipe website. I ended up printing several recipes and saving several more. This was one of the recipes. You can find the original recipe here.

I couldn't find Broccoli Rabe, so I used Broccolini instead. I used sausage from our favorite farm, Crane Dance Farm.

Everyone really enjoyed this... I was skeptical that my older son would really be able to see/taste the onions in this, as I usually chop the onion so fine he can't see them. I got no complaints! Bonus!! This recipe makes a huge amount, and fed us for 2+ meals. Next time I would half the recipe, or freeze half of it.

Baked Gemelli with Sausage and Broccolini
-serves 6-


1 Lb Sweet Italian Sausage Links, cut in half then 1/2 inch pieces
12 ounces Gemelli Pasta, or other pasta, cooked until al dente
8 ounces Cipollini Onions, peeled and quartered
2 bunches (packages) Broccolini, cut into 1 inch pieces
24 cloves garlic, simmered in 1/3 cup olive oil until soft, oil reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon dried Thyme
15 ounces Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
1/4 Cup Grated Romano
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, brown the sausage for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the broccolini to the pan and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes, adding the wine after 3 minutes. Season with salt, then add the broccolini and cooking liquid to the bowl with the sausage.

2. In the same pan over medium heat, warm the reserved garlic oil. Add the onions and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and caramelized, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage and broccolini. Save the oil and set aside. Add the pasta and garlic to the bowl and season with salt and pepper. (my garlic was golden and crispy on the outside, so I squeezed the soft garlic goodness out of each clove and put it in the bowl.)

3. Preheat your oven to 400.

4. Spoon half of the pasta mixture into a 9x11 inch glass baking dish. Spoon half the ricotta on top. Top with the remaining pasta and ricotta. Drizzle with the reserved oil. (If you're brave, sprinkle with chili flakes.) Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with the Parmesan and Romano cheeses and bake for 10 minutes more until the cheese is starting to brown on top.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Start to Comfort Food Season: Broccoli Cheese Soup

It certainly has felt like fall for the last week or so, which means it is time to start making soups and crockpotting!!! I know everyone has their own version of Broccoli Cheese Soup, but I wanted to share this one. The soup's base is so thick and creamy from the potato.... it's a much more "filling" soup. I enjoy the thinner consistency Broccoli Cheese Soups as well, but I keep going back to this way of making it.

I've adapted this recipe from a cookbook called "The Big Book of Soups and Stews" by Maryana Vollstedt. I added carrot, shallot, and paprika, and blended the soup differently (she has you cook the broccoli with the rest of the soup, and then blend 3/4 of it... I like a smooth soup with chunks of broccoli). Either way this has become my favorite Broccoli Cheese Soup... and I make it frequently!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
-serves 4-6-

1 large Russet Potato, sliced thin
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Shallot, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, sliced or minced
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 1/4 cups Chicken Stock
4 cups Broccoli Florets (or 1 head)
1 cup Baby Carrots, cut in thirds
1 1/2 cups Milk
2 cups Cheddar Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

I used a pot with a steaming basket on top. In the bottom, place the onion, potato, garlic, shallot, celery, chicken stock, salt, pepper, thyme, and paprika to a boil. Turn down to medium low heat. Place the carrots and broccoli in the steamer basket on top so they can steam while the bottom gently boils for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes and the bottom veggies are tender, place in a blender and blend until smooth, in batches if necessary. Return them to the pot, add the broccoli and carrots. Add the milk and cheese, and gently heat through, until the soup is hot and cheese is melted. Top with extra cheese if desired.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta Cheese, and White Wine

I've had a big container of Orzo in my cupboard for quite awhile, so I started searching for recipes to start using it up. This one from epicurious sounded tasty, quick, and simple. I didn't have fresh basil or medium shrimp so I substituted dried basil, and a can of baby shrimp.

I loved this!!! It was very simple, but very delicious!! I think it would be even better using the fresh basil so I will do that next time. I did not measure out my feta cheese, as 1 cup seemed like a lot (I used approximately 1/4 cup sprinkled in with the orzo, then topped each plate with another sprinkling). Use as much, or as little as you want.

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta Cheese, and White Wine
-serves 4-

1 Cup Whole Wheat Orzo
1 14 oz can diced Tomatoes, with juice
6 ounce can Baby Shrimp
1/2 Cup White Wine
1 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons dried Basil
2 teaspoons dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Prepare a 7 by 11 glass baking dish with spray or oil. Cook your orzo pasta until al dente, as per directions. Place the orzo back in the pan and add 1/4 cup of the feta, the parmesan, and the baby shrimp. Mix to combine, and pour into the baking dish.

In a large pan, saute the garlic and shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil for approximately a minute, add the tomatoes with juices, white wine, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and cook for approximately 2 minutes. Pour over the orzo mixture.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until heated through. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup feta cheese on top, and serve hot.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hearty Lentils with Sausage

This is one of my favorite fall/winter dishes. I love lentils and they pair wonderfully with sausage! The idea for this recipe came from a cookbook called Easy Meals on a Budget. Yet again, I've changed and added a few things to make it a little more exciting!

No one complains when I say we are having lentils for dinner! I used canned lentils in this dish to make it go together quicker. You could substitute dried, but the dish will take a bit longer to prepare, and with two young kids in my house- the quicker the better!! I have also used red lentils in this dish in place of the brown, which also was delicious, but had a much more "mushy" consistency.

Hearty Lentils with Sausage
-serves 4 as a main dish-

1/2 Lb. Sausage, can be bulk, or links cut into rounds
(I used 3 Brat-sized links cut into rounds)
4 Slices thick cut Bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 15 oz. cans of lentils, drained
1/2 cup chopped Onion
1 minced Shallot
1/2 cup- 3/4 cup chopped Carrots
1 1/2 Cups Beef Broth
2 cloves of Garlic minced
1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
3/4 tsp. dried Thyme

In a large pot, cook your sausage and bacon. (Sometimes I'll crisp the bacon in the microwave and add it when I'm adding the lentils, it gives it a bit of a crunch that way.) Remove to a plate to drain on a paper towel.

In the same pot, melt a tablespoon of butter and a swirl of olive oil over medium low heat. Add your onions and carrots and seat until your onions are translucent. Add your garlic and shallot and saute for about a minute longer. Add your tomato paste and beef stock. Stir until well combined. Start adding the rest of your ingredients, drained lentils, red wine vinegar, smoked paprika, and thyme. Mix in your bacon and sausage. Move the heat up to medium and heat until lentils are heated through, and the sauce has thickened to your liking. Salt and Pepper to taste. If needed, you can always add a tad more tomato paste to thicken, or more beef stock to loosen!

I usually serve this with crusty bread for a great hearty meal.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Summer Veggie Saffron Pasta

I got the idea for this recipe from the new issue of Rachael Ray Magazine. I added a couple of things to it... because some of her recipes are rather boring. I like zucchini a lot, if its cooked correctly. Make sure you don't overcook your zucchini!!!

Saffron is one of my favorite spices. It brings vibrant yellow color and richness to any pasta dish. Growing up I loved it when my mom would serve saffron rice as a side dish. I've started experimenting with saffron over the past couple of years.

Summer Veggie Saffron Pasta
-serves 4-

8 oz. Spaghetti
2 cups Broccoli Florets
1 1/2 Small Zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
4 oz. Pancetta, crisped
3/4 cup Parmesan
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 pinches Saffron
2 Tbsp. Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, combine chicken stock and saffron. Bring to a boil, and gently boil until reduced to approximately 1 cup.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil for spaghetti. Add your spaghetti and boil, add the broccoli florets the last 5 minutes or so. When done, strain and return to the pot.

In a Saute pan, heat a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and saute for 1 minute. Add the zucchini rounds and saute until just tender.

Add your zucchini/garlic mixture to the pasta/broccoli. Mix the chicken stock/saffron mixture into the pasta, add the parmesan cheese and cream, stir until melted. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the crisped pancetta, and extra parmesan on top.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Amazing Bison-Quinoa-Veggie Meatballs!!!

This is another recipe I adapted from the Whole Foods website. I'm always trying to sneak veggies and whole grains into my meals... and so I thought I'd give these a try. I had never made meatballs before... but I was pretty pleased with my first attempt!

These meatballs were so tender... and tasted so good. The zucchini really kept them moist. The whole wheat pasta I paired them with was excellent as well!

Bison-Quinoa-Veggie Meatballs
Serves 6-8 (depending on portion)

1 Lb Ground Bison, or Ground Beef
3/4 cup of cooked Quinoa
1 small zucchini, grated
1 small carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 500°F. Spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined. Shape the mixture into approximately 16 balls and place on prepared baking sheet.

Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

I served these over this whole wheat flax fettucine, to add extra protein and fiber, with store bought spaghetti sauce.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and Parsley and serve hot.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No Mayonnaise Here!!! Potato Salad

I wanted to make a warm potato salad to go with some homemade coleslaw and grilled brats. This is what I came up with... next time I may use fresh parsley, and some chopped fine red onion. This was also very good chilled!!!

Warm Potato Salad
-serves 4-6 side dish-

Approx. 15 small Potatoes, (I used baby Yukon's and Purple ones from the Farmer's Market)
3/4 tsp. Dry Mustard
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 tsp. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Dried Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil your potatoes until fork tender- mine took about 12-15 minutes. The skin on these potatoes rubbed off while still warm... You could also peel with a veggie peeler. Then slice the potatoes thin.

Whisk remaining ingredients together in a bowl, and pour over warm potatoes, letting sit so the flavors can mingle and seep into the potatoes. Serve warm, room temp, or cold.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pepperoni Pizza Polenta Bake

I found this recipe on my Whole Foods recipe application on my iPhone... It seemed like a kid friendly meal and I love polenta so I thought I'd give it a try. It was really tasty!!! Even the baby who is the pickiest eater in my family ate some of the polenta (Pepperoni is a different story though!!) I threw this together in about 5 minutes, let it bake for 30 minutes... and voila!!! Easy dinner!!

I left out the roasted red peppers... and made it really simple, but try different veggies, olives, artichokes, anything you would top your pizza with. I think it would be great that way too!

Pepperoni Pizza Polenta Bake
-serves 4-6-

1 18 oz tube of pre-made polenta, cut into approximately 9 slices
Marinara, Pizza, or Spaghetti Sauce
Shredded Italian cheese
1/2 tsp Dried Parsley
1/2 tsp Dried Oregano

Preheat your oven to 400. Spray a baking dish, place the polenta in the dish. Cover the Polenta Rounds with Marinara Sauce, then cover with Pepperoni (approximately 2 per Round) Then generously sprinkle cheese over the top. Sprinkle oregano and parsley on top of the cheese. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lemon Feta Green Beans

This recipe is inspired by a dish my mother-in-law made for us while we were visiting them this summer. I used a pretty assortment of green beans I picked from my mother's garden yesterday. The fresh lemon juice and feta cheese compliment the green beans beautifully. Very simple to make as well. This is our favorite way to eat green beans at the moment!!

Lemon Feta Green Beans

Roughly 3/4-1 Lb of Green Beans
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Approximately 1 oz Feta Cheese, or to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Saute the garlic and shallot in olive oil, whisk together with the lemon juice, then set aside.

2. Steam the beans until just tender, then pour the garlic/shallot, lemon juice, olive oil mixture over them. Sprinkle Feta Cheese on top while still warm. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This recipe was inspired by a scrumptious salad I had at one of my favorite restaurants here in Grand Rapids called Marie Catrib's. I ate the salad, and vowed to come up with a recipe that tasted similar. This came really close! I made a light "vinagrette" to mix into this salad... and when I was done I couldn't help but pick at it all day!

I love Quinoa, it is a perfect grain to add protein and fiber... this dish is not only delicious, but extremely healthy as well. This salad can be a main course or a side dish.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
-serves 4-6-
(can be used as side or main dish!)

1 Cup Quinoa, rinsed

2 Cups Water

1 Cup chopped Cherry Tomatoes
1 Cup chopped Cucumber

1/2 Cup Chopped Carrot

1/2 Cup Red Onion, chopped
1/2 Can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed

1/2 Can Adzuki Beans, rinsed

20 Kalamata Olives, chopped

2 Tbsp minced Fresh Cilantro

1 Tbsp minced Fresh Mint
1-2 Tbsp minced Fresh Parsley

1/2 Cup crumbled Feta (more or less to taste)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan, bring the rinsed Quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Chop cucumber, carrot, tomato, red onion, kalamata olives, mint, parsley, and cilantro, place in a bowl, and toss to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, orange juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Gently mix the Quinoa in with your veggies. Drizzle your vinagrette and gently mix together. Mix the Feta in, or sprinkle on top.

4. Serve room temperature or slightly chilled. This is great on a bed of greens with pita chips on the side. Or mix in leftover chicken or steak. This can be made vegan by omitting the Feta.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Roast Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Garbanzo Beans, and Paprika

Hello, it's been awhile. My folks came up to visit my kids earlier this week, so I took the opportunity to try this recipe out from Epicurious. I have to say it turned out amazing! I used boneless chicken breasts instead of bone in, and I'm a wimp so I added a pinch of cayenne instead of crushed red pepper.

Roast Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Garbanzo Beans, and Paprika

5 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
1 container Cherry Tomatoes

1 15 oz. can Garbanzo Beans, drained
5 Garlic Cloves, pressed

1 Tbsp. Smoked Paprika

1 tsp. Cumin

1/4 cup Olive Oil
Pinch of Cayenne
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

5 oz container of Plain Greek Yogurt

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, paprika, garlic, cumin, and cayenne. Add 1 tsp. of the oil mixture to the yogurt and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450. Rub the chicken breasts down with part of the oil mixture, then place in a roasting pan. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes, garbanzo beans, cilantro, and remaining oil mixture, then pour over the chicken breasts. Season all of it with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for approximately 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Asian Lettuce Hand Rolls

It's been a rough couple of months here.... moving, toddlers, end of school, etc etc etc......... So I haven't had the time to post anything. My mother told me to get back to blogging so here I am.....

My husband and I love the little lettuce hand rolls they have as appetizers at un-traditional restaurants. I found this recipe at epicurious, and decided to give it a try, and add a couple things (I can't seem to follow any recipe to the "T" anymore..... becoming more adventuresome and sure of myself...... haha). We ate these as our dinner, but they could be a first course, or snack as well.

These turned out great- I will definitely make these again, and play around with it- different meats, or veggies!

Asian Lettuce Hand Rolls

1 Lb. Ground Pork (or chicken, turkey, beef...)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice
1 tsp. Minced Onion (dried)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Head Bibb Lettuce
2 Carrots, Julienned
1/2 Cucumber, Julienned

1. Heat the Olive Oil over Medium heat. Add the Ground Pork, Garlic, Ginger, Brown Sugar, Chinese 5 Spice, Minced Onion, and Soy Sauce. Cook until Pork is cooked through.

2. While pork is cooking, julienne your veggies, and wash your lettuce.

3. Roll the Pork and Veggies up in the lettuce and enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Oh I guess you could say I've been on an "Asian" kick lately..... but I'm not getting any complaints! I got the idea for this from my local health food store's website (Harvest Health). Mine ended up being a bit different...but still very tasty.

Quinoa is chock full of protein and fiber- and can be a great substitute for rice. So when I came across the Shrimp Fried Quinoa Recipe, I had to try it. The recipe went together very easily, and my husband ate peas!!! We all really enjoyed this- much tastier than the "fried rice" you get at the take-out places. I will definitely make this again, and will be putting it on file as one of my go-to meals, for when I just don't know what to make! You could definitely use different vegetables as well. (or chicken!)

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

1 cup Quinoa, rinsed (I used half inca red and half regular, for color)
2 cups water
Dash of salt
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 small carrots, sliced thin
1 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp Canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger Root, minced
1 1/2 cups thawed pre-cooked shrimp, tails removed, and chopped
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce (I love the stuff!!!)
1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1/8 cup white wine

1. In a saucepan, combine salt, quinoa and water, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes (until the water has been absorbed). Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white wine. Set aside.
3. Heat a wok on medium high heat (6-7) add the oil, ginger, garlic, onion, and carrot. Saute until tender, but not mushy. Add the peas, and the shrimp.
4. Add the quinoa, and the sauce, distributing, saute until the shrimp and peas are warmed through- make sure your peas aren't still frozen!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chicken Stir Fry

I never used to like doing stir-fry until I started making my own sauces. The bottled ones just don't do it for me, I never know what they are going to taste like, and the powdered ones, well let's just not go there. I usually do beef for stir fry, so I thought I'd switch it up a bit and do chicken today. This is another sauce that we like- adapted from Recipezaar. Add your own meats, veggies, sesame seeds, sprouts, and make it a meal, served over rice or pasta. Yum!

Brown Garlic Sauce

2/3 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Chicken Broth

1/3 Cup Rice Wine (I just used white wine)

3 1/2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil

1/4 tsp. Pepper

2 Tbsp. Cooking Oil
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic

1 Tbsp. Minced Ginger

2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/4 Cup Water

1. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, broth, wine, sugar, sesame oil, and pepper.

2. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup water.

3. Heat a pan over high heat, add the cooking oil, add the garlic and ginger, cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

4. Add the soy sauce mixture, bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 1 minute.

6. Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring until the sauce boils and thickens.

7. Add to your stir-fry!

Tip: I used chicken breast for this (about 3/4 lb. for my family, which gave leftovers for lunch), sliced thin, and poured a little soy sauce and oyster sauce (left over from my other stir fry recipe!) and let it sit for maybe 5-10 minutes before cooking. As usual, I cheated and steamed my veggies over the rice, while cooking the chicken, then added the veggies to the wok, added the sauce, and stirred until thickened. This sauce recipe makes quite a bit, but you can refrigerate the other half for another use (or if you like saucy stir-fry- use it all!)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Chinese Take-Out"

This is a recipe I make very often. I have adapted it from meals matter. The sauce reminds me of the beef and broccoli sauce you would get from chinese takeout. I never have any complaints when I make this meal for my boys. The flank steak is great as a "stir-fry" meat. I have also included our favorite way to make basic rice, the stock adds a little more flavor.

Beef with Vegetables in Oyster Sauce

1 Lb. Flank Steak

3 Tbsp Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp Dry Red Wine
2 Tbsp Chicken Broth

6 Tbsp Oyster Sauce (I use Kikkoman Brand)
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

2 Tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tsp Cornstarch

4 Garlic cloves, minced or "microplained"

1 Inch Piece of Ginger Root, minced or "microplained"
2 Carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 small head of Broccoli, cut into florets

Handful of Green Beans, halved

1. Trim the Flank Steak of any excess fat. Cut into 1 inch strips with the grain, then slice across the grain into 1/8 inch thick slices. Put the Steak in a bowl, add the soy sauce, and let marinate in the fridge for about an hour.

2. Whisk the chicken broth, oyster sauce, red wine, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch together in a bowl. Combine the garlic and ginger in a separate bowl.

3. Heat some oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the steak in batches, until browned on each side and around the edges. Set the steak aside.

4. I usually steam my vegetables (especially carrots and green beans) a bit over the rice (while it is simmering) to give them a head start on getting tender, then I transfer them to the wok with a little oil, and saute until tender crisp.

5. In the empty wok, add a tablespoon of oil, and your ginger and garlic, saute over medium- low heat for about 3 minutes, add your vegetables, and saute over medium heat until tender but crisp, add the steak, add your sauce, and mix well, sauteing until the sauce has thickened. Serve over Rice.

Basic Rice

2 cups Chicken Broth

1/2 tsp salt

1 Cup white rice (long grain)

2 Tbsp Butter

Add all ingredients in a sauce pan, Bring to a boil, boiling until little tunnels form, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Let sit for 5 minutes before fluffing and serving.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Quick Easy (Yummy) Meal!!!

I have always loved polenta, and it has been awhile since I made any. This recipe uses the pre-made polenta, which you can find in tubes in the refrigerated section, or in the pasta/italian
food isle. The shrimp turned out to be my take on "scampi", and the Green Beans my husband prepared went quite nicely.

Fried Polenta Rounds with Shrimp

- serves 3-4 -

1 tube of Polenta, I used a garlic-basil flavored

1/4 Jar of Spaghetti Sauce

Raw Shrimp, thawed 4-6 per person
(depending on size)
2 Tbsp Butter

Dash of Lemon Pepper

2 Squirts of Lime Juice

Dash of Seasoned Salt

Dash of Garlic Powder

Dash of Dried Oregano

Parmesan Cheese for Sprinkling

1. Slice the polenta tube into 1/4 inch thick slices (about 12 slices)

2. Peel and de-vein the shrimp, (I removed the tails as well for easier eating).

3. Add the spaghetti sauce to a small sauce pan to heat on low.

4. In a large saute pan, heat the butter mixed with some olive oil over medium heat (6). Add the polenta slices and fry, until one side begins to brown and crust, then flip and fry the other side until golden brown and crisp. This takes about 7 minutes per side.

5. Remove the polenta rounds to a paper towel lined plate to drain some of the oil. Turn down the heat to medium-low (4-5).

6. In the same pan, with the same butter/olive oil, add the shrimp, you may need to add a little extra oil and/or butter. Season the shrimp with the seasoned salt, lemon pepper, lime juice, garlic powder, and oregano. Cook until no longer pink, then flip and cook the other side until no longer pink. This takes only a couple minutes on each side!

7. To Serve, Place 3 polenta rounds (or more) on each plate, top with spaghetti sauce, and then top with shrimp. Sprinkle parmesan if desired.

Asian Green Beans

- serves 2-4 depending on your portion size -
(we try to make your veggie portion larger than our meat portion)

1/2 Lb Green Beans, washed but not cut

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

Dash of Garlic Powder

Dash of Cumin

Dash of Ground Ginger

Splash of Lime Juice

In a wok, heat the Olive Oil and Soy Sauce. Add the garlic powder, cumin, ginger, and lime juice to taste. Saute the Green Beans until slighty tender, but still crisp.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My first loaf from "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day" !!!

My brother, Matthew, and sister-in law, Kathy (both at A Good Appetite), turned my Mom onto this book called "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day". My mother then turned me onto it, and my husband picked me up a copy a few weeks ago. All I can say is "WOW" this system makes it so easy to have fresh bread whenever I want it! Make enough dough for a few loaves, and keep it in the fridge! No kneading, no long rising, no big mess! I made my first batch of the "Master Recipe" dough this morning, and baked my first loaf tonight before dinner! It had a great crust, and a light chewy center. (I had to show off a picture of my first loaf- above- I am proud of it). I would definitely suggest this book- for all you people who don't think they can make bread (me)! I've never had the greatest luck at bread baking (besides banana bread, which doesn't require the kneading and rising). In the past trying to make my own bread seemed to take up most of my day (which is very hard having a 6 year old and a 1 year old...), and it never turned out quite right.

Now I won't have to hear the "a nice piece of crusty bread would be GREAT with this...." anymore.... the dough will be there- no fuss!

Thanks Matthew, Kathy, and Mom for the great suggestion!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What do you do with all those hardboiled eggs at Easter time???

It's still been quite busy here- ... I haven't had the energy or the time to be posting anything.... let alone make anything really out of the ordinary.... So it's about time to get back on track!

Anyways, our family visited my parents and little sister this past weekend, and my older son Braden dyed Easter Eggs with his "Mima" and Aunt Jessica. They turned out beautifully and my mom sent some home with me- hard-boiled. I think I am the only one who will eat a plain hard-boiled egg here, so my mom suggested Egg Salad Pizzas- and it took me back to my childhood. I can remember around Easter, I think almost every year, she made egg salad pizzas for my brother and I. I remember loving them, they were one of my favorite foods as a child. My mother copied down the recipe for me, she told me it originally came from the Ann Arbor newspaper.... a long time ago.

I made these earlier in the week, I just hadn't had time to post it. My older son loved them, the baby liked the "egg salad" part, and my husband, who had been skeptical every time I brought them up, is "now a believer" (in his words...haha). I know they sound weird- but try them! You'll see!

Egg Salad Pizzas
-serves 6- (one pizza each) or
-serves 3- (2 pizzas each)

4 Hardboiled Eggs, chopped
1/2 Cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese- I used a combo provolone/mozzarella
1/3 Cup Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Dried Minced Onion
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Dried Basil
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
Dash of Garlic Powder
Dash of Black Pepper
3 English Muffins, split

1. Mix the tomato paste, mayonnaise, minced onion, salt, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper together.
2. Add the hardboiled eggs and cheese, and mix until well combined.
3. Spread the mixture on the muffins, covering the edges.
4. Broil 5-6 inches from the top, for about 5 minutes, until the edges start to brown and the cheese starts to melt. I used my toaster oven for this, but a regular oven would also work.
5. Serve hot!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Indian- Inspired Crock Pot Beef Stew

The past couple of weeks have been so busy and crazy I really didn't get time to cook anything really exciting, let alone blog about it... hopefully things will calm down now and I can get back into the swing of things.... Today I was in Kalamazoo all afternoon for an appointment, and wasn't home to make dinner, so yesterday I prepared this Indian Curry Stew, and all I had to do was pop it in the crock pot all day to simmer while I was gone. This is one I made up on the spot.... the ingredients are not all traditional to Indian Food, but I was going for an Indian- inspired Beef Stew.

Indian Beef Curry Stew

2 Lbs. Round Steak, cubed (or 2 Lbs beef stew meat)
3 medium Carrots, sliced thickly
2 medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1 tsp. Tumeric
2 Tbsp. Curry Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Garam Masala
2 crushed Bay Leaves
1 1/2 inch piece Ginger, minced (I used the microplane)
pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp. Minced Onion
1 1/2 Tbsp. Red Curry Paste
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Cinnamon Stick
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1. Place the carrot, potato, and onion in the crockpot first, then top with the beef.
2. Mix the garlic, cumin, paprika, tumeric, curry powder, garam masala, bay leaves, ginger, cayenne, minced onion, and red curry powder together. Add the tomato sauce and water, mix to combine, then pour over the beef.
3. Cover and set to low, and simmer all day (7-9 hrs.) Add the lemon juice during the last half hour.
4. Serve over rice if desired.

It was a hectic day the day we ate this, and I totally forgot to take a picture. I would definitely use Beef Stew Meat next time, as the Round Steak did not have the consistency I desired. It was tasty though!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baked Fingerling Potato Chips

I had been craving a burger for about a week now.... so for dinner tonight I made burgers with grassfed beef (thanks mom!) on the foreman grill.... which I think does a pretty good job with burgers. I made these awesome fingerling potato chips to go with them... along with some green beans...

Baked Fingerling Potato Chips

2-3 fingerling potatoes for each person (you can also use Russet)
Olive Oil or Melted Butter
Salt, Pepper, or other Seasoning (try salt and vinegar!) or some pickle juice!

1. Start by slicing the potatoes very thin... about 1/8 inch or smaller (a mandolin would have been great for this...)
2. Preheat your oven to 450.
3. Soak the potatoes in cold water to get rid of some of the excess starch. Rinse the potatoes.
4. Dry the potatoes thoroughly on paper towels- DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
5. Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer, lined with parchment paper, or silicone mat.
6. Brush with olive oil or melted butter, then season with salt or other seasoning.
7. Bake until golden around the edges, I find the fingerling get little bubbles in them. Start by baking about 10-15 minutes. Check them often, mine tend to crisp at different rates... depending on the thickness. Flip when one side is dried and crispy. Mine take about 30 minutes total... but it depends on your oven and the thickness of your potato.

Serve warm, and leftovers are great snack the next day crisped up in the toaster oven.

For some reason my purple chips went first!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I had some bananas that turned overripe very quickly on me this week- so what else to do but make banana bread! I used Alton Brown's Recipe from his baking cookbook, but adapted it a bit because my husband is allergic to nuts.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

3-4 overipe bananas
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted then cooled
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup oat flour (I used whole wheat graham flour instead)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350, and prepare a loaf pan, or muffin tin
1. mash bananas with the sugar
2. mix butter, eggs, and vanilla together, then add to bananas
3. sift flours, and baking powder, and salt together
4. mix in the wet ingredients, then fold in the chocolate chips
5. spread batter into pan, then bake for 50 min to an hour for a loaf, or about 30 minutes for muffins.
6. remove from oven, let rest 15 minutes, then slide out onto a rack to cool.

This was our dessert- although I meant it to be for breakfast! Even my 10 month old was begging for more!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Slow Cooker Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs

My husband and I went out to eat last weekend for our 1st anniversary, so instead of going out on one of the busiest and cheesiest days of the year, I've decided to make a romantic dinner for us here at home, using leftover chipotle peppers from my Guisado earlier this week. On the menu tonight is Robin Millers Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs with Jamaican Rice and Peas, which I found on Food Network. I did scale my version down a bit, I did not think we needed 4 pounds of chicken! Next time I will probably use only 8 oz of tomato sauce, and 1/2 cup each of celery and carrots. Sorry this was posted late, I had some issues with the pics, still trying to get that down!

We paired this with hand shaken margaritas, made by my husband. We sat down for dinner after the children had gone to bed- what a difference to have a quiet dinner at home! I think I'm going to make it a point to have one quiet dinner with my husband every 2 weeks. It was very refreshing!

Slow Cooker Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs

2 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
3/4 Cup Chopped Carrot
3/4 Cup Chopped Celery
1 Onion, sliced thinly
1 15 oz can Tomato Sauce
1 Chipotle Pepper with 1 tsp Adobo Sauce
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
1 Avocado, diced
Lime wedges for garnish
Cilantro if desired

1. Arrange Onion, Celery, and Carrot in the bottom of your slow cooker. Trim the Chicken Thighs of excess fat. Season Chicken Thighs with Salt and Pepper, and arrange on top of the vegetables.

2. In your food processor, combine tomato sauce, lime juice, chipotle chiles, and garlic. Pulse until well combined, then pour over the chicken.

3. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high. Serve with Jamaican Rice and Peas, Avacodo, and Cilantro.

Jamaican Rice and Peas

1 1/2 Cups White Rice
1 14 oz Can Unsweetened Coconut Milk
3/4 Cup Water
1 15 oz Can Red Beans, drained
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp finely grated Lime Zest
Salt and Pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except salt and pepper. Set to high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer as long as your particular rice directions say, usually about 20-25 minutes. Season with Salt and Pepper

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crock Pot Carne Guisado

This past fall my husband and I went down to the Hispanic Festival in downtown Grand Rapids to eat some mexican food (which we both LOVE). One of the dishes we had was called Carne Guisade, which was slow cooked beef with potatoes in a smoky tomato-ey sauce. I have been unsuccessful at trying to find a recipe that is here is my try at making it! We were both VERY happy with the way this turned out! It was very yummy! If you like a little more spice, add some more of the chipotle peppers, I was feeding this to a 6 year old, so I didn't want to add too much spice.... Definitely going to do this one again!

Crock Pot Carne Guisado

2 Lbs beef rib steaks, cut into 1/2- 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 red potatoes, peeled, and cubed
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from a small can
3 bay leaves
dash of cumin
dash of chili powder
salt and pepper

1. Combine the beef, onion, garlic, and potatoes in the crock pot.
2. In a food processor, combine tomato sauce, peppers, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Pulse until blended.
3. Add the tomato sauce to the crockpot, stir to combine, add a little water if needed, add the bay leaves, and set to High for 2 hours (I always start out on high to get it going). Then switch to low for 6 hours.
4. Serve with rice, or with all sorts of taco toppings, or make into enchiladas, using the sauce as enchilada sauce.

We warmed some corn tortillas, topped them with rice, then the guisado, sour cream, guacamole, cheese

My husbands masterpiece:

And I added chopped tomatoes, and black olives, making it look more like nachos:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cheesy Hashbrown Chili

I recieved the March issue of Rachael Ray Magazine in the mail over the weekend....and this sounded good, and I had all the ingredients to make it already!

Cheesy Hashbrown Chili

2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 Lb ground beef
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used my mom's canned tomatoes, chopping them myself)
1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed
1 Lb frozen hashbrowns (shredded)
1 cup cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion, chili powder, and cumin, and saute until onion is tender. Add the tomato paste, mix, then add the ground beef, breaking up. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the ground beef until no longer pink.
2. Add the kidney beans, and tomatoes with their juices, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Combine the hashbrowns and cheese in a bowl. Spread chili mixture in a 9 by 13 inch pan, top with the hashbrown mixture, and then bake in the top third of the oven at 400 for 35 minutes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bow-Tied Lentil Narsh-Narsh

I love lentils- I sneak them into dishes a lot. The canned ones are so easy because you don't have to soak them! I didn't know what I was making when I started making dinner tonight.... and this is what it ended up being. I am not sure if it is soup or pasta (you could add more stock to make it more soup-like), so my husband named it : )

Bow-Tied Lentil Narsh-Narsh

4 oz Salt Pork, cut into thin strips, and then chopped (or use bacon)
1 15 oz can brown lentils, drained
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup small pasta (i obviously used mini-bow-tie)
4-5 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
3-4 drops tabasco

1. saute salt pork over medium heat until brown edges form. skim some of the fat out, then add the carrots, celery, onion, and shallot. reduce heat to medium-low. sweat the veggies until tender, but not mushy.
2. Add the lentils, the vegetable stock, and pasta. Season with salt and pepper, paprika, and tabasco, and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, boiling until the pasta is al dente. Serve!

Makes about 4 servings