Monday, August 25, 2008

Black Bean, Corn & Tomato Salad

Such a simple side dish comes of these simple ingredients.

1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Corn (or equivilant frozen)
Diced Fresh Tomato (not sure how much I used, just all of what I could pull off the plants today)
We have yellow grape, cherry, and yellow/green stripped tomatoes in our garden

1 TBS Lime Juice
1 tsp Emeril's Soutwest Seasoning

Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos

I pulled some shrimp out of the freezer last night. I wasn't sure what would come of it. But shrimp tacos are something we haven't had in a long time. I decided to go with a tequila lime marinade, skewer the shrimp and grill.

Tequila Lime Marinde

3 TBS Tequila
2 TBS Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of 2 limes

Mix all together and marinde for about an hour for shrimp. If used on Meat can be marinated overnight or longer.
I served on whole wheat tortillas with fresh avocado, romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese and sour cream. So good! So good! So good!

Don't Cry over the Guacamole!!

So last week was a rough week. I ended up in the hospital for a night. It was totally unexpected, the Doctors were being extra cautious. I hadn't realized how much this experience stressed me out until I made the guacamole. I sliced an avocado in half and attempted to remove the pit the professional way (slapping the knife into the pit to pop it out). Well it slipped and slapped into my thumb. I looked at the cut which was pretty deep and instantly thought "NO WAY am I going to another doctor". And I had a major breakdown. I needed the cry. Luckily the cut was right on the crease and closed up nicely. No stitches or doctors needed!!!

I love guacamole so much!!!

My recipe is simple

2 Ripe Avocados
1 clove of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Smash together until the avocado is as chunky or smooth as you like

Stir in Diced tomatoes (a heafty amount)
We have been growing tomatoes in our backyard. So this was cherry tomato and yellow grape tomato in this batch
S&P to taste

Chow down! :) And serve with the BEST tortilla chips around. This is a Michigan company that is branching out. If you see these in your store you MUST try them.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I couldn't really find a specific recipe so I improvised. I decided to use chorizo in the peppers. I know from experience that chorizo is spicy and greasy, so I wanted to balance it out with something else, I chose ground beef.

There isn't much of a recipe, but these are the ingredients

1lb Chorizo
1lb lean Ground Beef
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
1/2 Red Pepper, diced
Brown all the above ingredients together
(Must drain well, chorizo is very greasy)

1 Cup Corn
1 Can Black Beans
Shredded Cheddar
Mix in with the meat.

8-10 peppers (1/2's if very large)
Stuff the ingredients into the peppers and bake for 30 minutes on 350.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fresh from my Garden

The first garden items we have had was the fresh basil. We planted classic basil which took off like a tree. We also planted some sweet basil which has much smaller leaves. Our tomatoes have just started to take off. We planted a few varieties. Classic red, cherry, yellow grape and a medium size that is yellow and green striped. We have been munching on the small ones for a couple weeks, just a few handfuls total. Today we have the first yellow and green one and I picked my first zucchini. In the next few weeks we will be overun with tomatoes and zucchini. I will be busy making sauces! I sliced up some of the tomato and sprinkled with some of the sweet basil and a little salt. These yellow and green ones are so sweet and juicy. I just love them!

My Favorite Breakfast Sandwich

I have been making this sandwich for years. It isn't the healthiest but it sure is tasty. I cook two eggs overhard and then make a classic grilled cheese with them to make a Fried Egg Sandwich. After the egg is cooked assemble like a classic grilled chees with the egg in the middle. Cook until the bread is slightly browned and the cheese is melted.

2 Eggs (fry in pan overhard)
2 Slices of bread
Butter (or substitute) to spread on the bread
2 slices of cheese of your choice (if they are thicker slices use just 1)

Since I used whole wheat bread and reduced fat swiss I felt a tiny bit less guilty. This can be made with cooking spray instead of butter, egg whites, on a low carb wrap (I often use the flatout wraps). But the classic is my favorite.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sundried Tomato Basil Risotto

I have made risotto a few times and just love it. It is time consuming, but well worth it. And I have learned you can walk away here and there and the risotto will still turn our wonderfully. I have followed Giada's recipe for Basic Risotto from her "Every Day Italian" Cookbook all the times I have made it. So I followed that and made a few additions.

4 Cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth (Heat to a simmer and set aside)
3 TBS Butter (1 TBS mixed in at the end)
3/4 Cup finely diced Onion (I used a red onion)
1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice
1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
3/4 Cup Chopped Sundried Tomato
1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Basil

Melt 2 TBS butter in a pan. Add the onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the rice and mix with the butter and onions. Add the wine and simmer until the wine is almost absorbed. Gradually add chicken broth about 1/2 Cup at a time. Stir constantly until the broth is almost absorbed before adding the next. When all the broth is almost absorbed add the sundried tomato and basil and continue to cook for about a minute or two. Remove from the heat and add the parmesan cheese and the butter. Stir all together and serve immediately.

I served this on top of new york strip steak pieces that we had leftover.

This was so so good. I am so glad to have leftovers (without the steak). I may have to have some more later since we ate such an early dinner.

It has been too long since I made Cookies

I used to make cookies every couple of months and freeze them. I would make multiple batches in one day. I would be in the kitchen for hours and when I was finally done I wouldn't even want a cookie. The last time I made cookies I decided to freeze the dough instead of baked cookies. It made for a much less timely adventure that way. Since I have been pregnant I have not had the desire to bake. Which is not like me. I even bought store bought cookies one day to take to a friend's cabin. I just didn't want to do it. But I decided that for my first Baby Shower coming up in September that I would thank the guests with homemade cookies. So today I didn't have much going on so I made 3 types of cookies and froze most of the dough. I had to bake some for my husband though, he has a major sweet tooth and that would have been mean. I chose three types of cookies.
I have a convection oven and have found that baking all my cookies at 325 on the convection setting leads to perfect cookies. I follow the time suggestions of the recipes, but just keep an eye on them.
I used my cookie scoop from pampered chef to make balls. I stored all the cookie balls in gallon ziplocks and put in the freezer. They are ready and waiting to be baked whenever I decide to do so.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
(this recipe is adapted from Coconut Toffee Chews from Bakingblonde)

I made two batches today.

2 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
(Sift or wisk dry ingredients together and set aside)

1 Cup Brown Sugar (Firmly Packed)
1 Cup Butter (Softened)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1/2 TBS Vanilla
2 1/4 Cups Flaked Coconut
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until mixed. Add the dry ingredients and blend until just mixed. Stir in the Coconut and Chocolate Chips.

Bake 350 for 8-12 minutes (until tops are lightly toasted) try not to overbake.

This recipe has been mentioned numerous times on "What's Cooking" message board on the I wanted to find the original recipe instead of back tracking through various blogs. This is a "Cook's Illustrated" Recipe.

I made 2 batches today.

2 1/8 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 Stick of Butter (melted and cooled)
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 Large Egg Yolk
2 tsp Vanilla
1-2 Cups Chocolate Chips (or Chunks)

Bake 325 for 15-18 minutes (Check at 13 minutes)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This is a recipe from Ina Garten. I found it on a random website. I should have read the directions more clearly because I didn't press the cookies down before baking as suggested. So I ended up with more of a round cookie. Oh well they still tasted great! I also made two batches of these too.

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup good smooth peanut butter
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound good semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and peanut butter, and mix. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the batter, mixing only until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using either a 1-3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands, flatten the dough lightly, then press the tines of a wet fork in both directions. Bake for exactly 17 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Turkey Marsala

I haven't cooked turkey unless it was the whole bird, or ground. So when I saw that Costco had Turkey Breasts in the freezer section like chicken breasts I thought I would get some. I have been craving Marsala so what better combination.
I was in search of recipes today and nothing was working for me. The mother of one of my closest friends used to make chicken marsala with drakes crispy fry mix instead of flour. Drakes is actually a Michigan product, added bonus. The mix is of wheat flour, corn meal and some spices. It is pretty flavorful on it's own, so I didn't think I needed much else in the way of spices. I decided to use that and then glanced at a couple other recipes for ratio of marsala to broth. This is what I came up with.

2 1/2 skinless boneless turkey breasts (equivilent to 5 chicken breasts)
Drakes Crispy Fry Mix
Olive Oil and Butter
3 Cups Mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
3/4 Cup Marsala Wine
3/4 Cup Chicken Broth
1. Heat the pan with olive oil and butter, about 2 TBS of each.
2. Dredge the turkey through the drakes to coat.
3. Cook the turkey in batches on both sides and remove from the pan. Place in an oven safe dish and transfer to a warm oven.
4. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. I added some S&P and garlic salt to the mushrooms for some added flavor.
5. Add the Marsala wine and scrape at the pan to deglaze. Cook for about 2 minutes.
6. Add the chicken broth and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
7. Add the turkey back into the pan for a minute to get some of the sauce on the meat.
Serve and enjoy.
I was so impressed with how moist the turkey was.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sloppy Joes Eat the Beat/Tasty Tools

When I sat down to do this entry I started singing to myself. The song I was singing was "Lunch Lady" by Adam Sandler. There is a part that he sings "sloppy joe, slop, sloppy joe". So I got the brillant idea to do a blogging event a little early. Eat to the Beat has become a quarterly event now. So who cares if I am a month early. Elly says it is okay.

And while we are at it.. why not participate in another blogging event? Joelen has been hosting tasty tools events on her blog. So since this includes the use of the this months tool the whisk I will submit it for that. Yay! :) What a great way to kill a bunch of birds with 1 stone.

For two summers during college I worked in a church camp kitchen. Besides a ton of great memories with some dear friends, I learned a lot of cooking/baking tricks/tips too. One of the meals we made weekly was sloppy joes. Since our menu didn't change through out the summer (new campers every week) you got pretty sick of the same meals. But after all the years have gone by I find myself enjoying some of the classics. I have no idea what the exact recipe is for the sloppy joes. But I remembered the key ingredients. I made them before over a year ago, but this time I decided to add a bunch to the recipe.

1/2 yellow onion
(Sautee in dutch oven with olive oil until softened)
1 lb of lean ground beef
(Add to the onions and cook through)

2 Cups Ketchup
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard
2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Corriander

Wisk all ingredients together and add to the dutch oven when the meat is browned. Simmer for 2 hours (or more). I was making this in advance for leftovers, so no pictures of the sandwiches yet. I feel pretty excited that I made this up for the most part.

NY Strip Steak and Veggies

I was really looking forward to a good steak tonight. I used some good old Spice House seasoning again and grilled along side some mixed veggies, and some corn on the cob (Michigan's finest of course). My favorite way to do veggies these days is straight on the grill. My medium baking sheet fits right on the rack. Some S&P and some Olive Oil = the best veggies ever. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Citrus Salmon

I wasn't sure how I was going to do my salmon tonight. But it hit me to try and marinade it in orange juice concentrate. So I did just that. I was watching Giada's weekend get aways a while back and she ordered salmon from a place. They pan fried it in butter at a super high temp to get a bit of a crust. I thought this sounded so good and tried it one other times and was impressed. So I decided to try the method again.
I served it with Sugar Snap Peas that I sauteed with some sundried tomatoes and Trader Joe's Gorgonzola Gnocchi (one of my favorite TJ's items).

Visit to South Haven Michigan

Dale and I took a weekend trip to the west coast of Michigan. South Haven is on Lake Michigan. A good friend suggested the location and many places to visit while there.
These are the places we went
Lodging- Sand Castle Inn
Such a nice little place. The service was great. Fresh baked cookies before bed was the best treat!

Dinner- Thirsty Perch
Dale had a filet and I enjoyed a bucket of perch. The perch was so good, I wonder where they got the name for their place. ;)

Dinner- Tellos

Dale had
Penne con porcini
Porcini mushrooms, beef tenderloin, roasted tomato
caramelized onions, crumbled gorgonzola.

I had
Tartufi del porco
Pork tenderloin seared with black truffles,
butter and fresh parsley

I have never had truffles before. I was amazed how much flavor were in those things!

Breakfast- Phoenix Street Cafe
This place had the fanciest menu for a breakfast place I have ever seen.
Dale had a breakfast burrito that was topped with fresh guacamole. I had an omlette with havarti, tomato and fresh avocado. So tasty. I don't think I have had avocado for breakfast before.

We had a very nice visit. I love Michigan, we get a bad rap, but there is so much beauty in our state it is nice to get out at see it every now and again.

French Toast and Bacon

I can't tell you enough how much I love breakfast foods. There are so many options for breakfast. One of my favorites is French Toast.
4 Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Tbs of Vanilla (yes tablespoon)
2 tsp Cinnamon

Beat all together and dredge whole wheat bread through to the desired soak. I like to have a little crisp on my french toast so I don't soak the bread very long. This amount was perfect for 6 pieces of bread. I served it with some extra crispy bacon. It is funny to think about 5 years ago I went through this phase where I thought I hated bacon. Seriously must have been smoking something! We ate more of this bacon than we should have! It was so good!

Braised Chicken & Veggies

I found a way of doing chicken thighs a while back that I have come to love. I braise the thighs in the dutch oven and then cook with red onion, multi-colored bell peppers and then throw in some chicken broth and brown rice. I decided to do a little take on that with this dish. My husband brought home a yellow squash and a zucchini from a coworker and I needed to use up some bell peppers and tomatoes before we went out of town. So this consists of chicken breasts, veggies, chicken broth, white beans, and brown rice. The results were very very good.