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June 30, 2011

Parents Curry Cellophane Noodles



As I've stated before my family loves pork. My husband and boys could eat it pretty much every day of the week and be happy. Noodles dishes are another favorite with my two boys, and they request it multiple times a week. The June issue of Parents magazine had a recipe for curry cellophane noodles, which combined two of my family's favorite ingredients.

I was unable to find cellophane noodles in any of the store in my area. Instead I substituted rice noodles, which were my only available option. I had no problems finding any of the remaining ingredients at my local grocery store. This recipe goes together very quickly, my 5-year-old was able to help me in the kitchen as I cooked. I used whole coconut milk, instead of light, both for taste and it was what was available at my local store.

This is a very family friendly recipe. My two boys thoroughly enjoyed this dish and ate their servings and the leftovers the next day. My husband and I found the taste to be geared more towards kids. It needed additional curry powder to enhance the flavor, as is it was a little on the bland side, with this modification, it would be more adult oriented. This is a great kid friendly recipe and would work well to introduce little ones to different foods.

For the recipe go to Parents Thai Curry Cellophane Noodles. (registration required)

June 29, 2011

All You Barbecue Chicken Quesadillas



Leftovers in our house are often neglected. We make every effort to eat them, but the same food days in a row can become monotonous.  I am always looking for ways to incorporate leftovers into another meal to save money. The slow-cooker recipe I discussed in my previous post had a subsequent dish using the leftovers for another recipe, barbecue chicken quesadillas.

This recipe goes together quickly, since the main protein is from a leftover dish. The remaining 10 ingredients require minimal prep, with a total time of around 15 minutes for the entire recipe. I made one modification, I used regular tortillas rather than whole-wheat. My family isn't a fan of the texture of whole-wheat tortillas. Finally, I found that the recipe made 4 servings for my family, not six.

My two kids enjoyed this recipe. I like that it uses leftovers to create another meal, saving me time and money. The best part is that it takes less than 20 minutes to prepare, which is great for a busy weeknight.

This recipe is not currently available online, but can be found in the June 2011 issue of All You magazine.

June 28, 2011

All You Slow-Cooker Barbecue Chicken



Weeknight meals in my house can turn into chaos relatively easily. Either my two-year-old has a melt down or my five-year-old destroys half the living room, making dinner run an hour late. Even when dinner is running on time, in the summer my kitchen turns into a sauna, making cooking less than pleasant in the 90 degree heat. I love finding slow-cooker recipes, that are quick and easy for hot, chaotic weeknight meals. Recently, All You magazine had a recipe for slow-cooker barbecue chicken that looked easy and delicious.

With only eight ingredients this recipe is extremely easy to prep in the slow-cooker.  With no vegetables to prepare, this recipe takes less than five minutes to get together and start. The remainder of the six hours is done completely in the slow-cooker. I followed this recipe as states, with one modification. I topped my pulled chicken with the Napa cabbage slaw from a previous fish taco recipe found here.

This recipe turned out well. The addition of the slaw was excellent and made for a nice texture. For a chicken breast recipe the meat turned out very tender and delicious, similar to pulled pork. I like that few ingredients are used and there is basically no prep, which is perfect during a busy weeknight dinner.

For the link go to All You Slow-Cooker Barbecue Chicken.

Bon Appetit Portuguese Chicken



My two-year-old is in a picky stage; refusing to eat a variety of foods. Additionally, he is small weight-wise, so I am always looking for proteins that he is willing to eat. Chicken is one protein that the whole family can agree upon, and I make chicken recipes frequently. However, making the same baked chicken recipes can be redundant, so I have been making an effort to broaden my recipe index. The February issue of Bon Appetit had a recipe for Portuguese chicken, which looked different than my normal chicken recipes.

This recipe uses a number of ingredients, 16 in total. I had to go to two stores in order to find fresh bay leaves and prosciutto. The remainder of the ingredients were easy to find. This is a relatively time consuming recipe, with over two hours of total time, and 40 minutes of prep. I bought a chicken which was already cut up to cut down on my prep time (and the potential for knife accidents, with my needing to be sharpened knives). The one problem I encountered was that my sauce did not thicken as the recipe suggested. Mine stayed thinner even after adding flour.

This recipe turned out well. My two boys and husband liked the flavor and I liked that it was out of our normal chicken routine. My sauce turned out thinner than the recipe suggested, but the flavor was still delicious.

For the link go to Bon Appetit Portuguese Chicken.

June 27, 2011

Family Fun Classic Bread Pudding



I'm a big fan of comfort food, especially desserts. They remind me of when I was younger and my mom would bake delicious desserts on the weekend for everyone to enjoy. Before I had kids I made a variety of desserts, but after having little ones I mainly made cookies and brownies. As my boys have gotten a little older, I have been trying to bake more desserts from scratch. Last October (2010), Family Fun magazine had a recipe for classic bread pudding that looked like the perfect dessert for my family.

This recipe is very easy. It could be done with a child and would make a perfect cooking lesson. The recipe suggests removing the crust from the baguette, but I chose to leave it on for added texture. All the ingredients used in this recipe are basic and many people would already have them in their kitchen. I substituted skim milk for whole, due to the fact that it was what was already in my fridge. Since the recipe already had whipping cream, the taste was comparable.

This recipe turned out delicious. My husband is normally not a fan of bread pudding due to its soggy texture, but he enjoyed this recipe. Keeping the crust on the bread made for a crispier texture and the sugar sprinkled on top before cooking made a sweet, delicious crunch.

For the recipe go to Family Fun Classic Bread Pudding.

All You Chicken and Chorizo Paella



One of my four-year-old's favorites foods is chicken. If I want to make a recipe that he is sure to eat, it must involve chicken or shrimp. My husband and I get tired of the same old chicken recipes, so I am always on the lookout for new recipes to try. Oftentimes I substitute thighs for chicken breasts, due to breasts tendency to dry out and my family's preference for the darker meat. However, I have been trying to incorporate more recipes utilizing chicken breasts into my menu rotation for health benefits. Recently, All You magazine had a recipe for chicken and chorizo paella using breasts, that looked like a good recipe for my family to try.

None of my local grocery stores carry Spanish chorizo and the international market closed a while back. However, they do sell Portuguese chourico, which I substitute frequently in recipes, including this one. I had no other problems finding any other ingredients. This recipe goes together rather quickly, the total time being about 30 minutes. Most of the time is active cooking time with approximately 10 minutes of prep. I did not use low sodium chicken broth and still had to salt, so didn't go light on the salt.

This is a quick one-dish meal. The chicken breasts did not dry out as common in many other recipes, and my two boys enjoyed this dish. My husband missed the crusty bottom of traditional paella, but thought the flavor from the chourico was delicious. This is a great quick weeknight meal recipe, with minimal clean-up.

For the link go to All You Chicken and Chorizo Paella.

June 26, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Turkey Burgers with Peaches and Blueberries



The three men in my house are big red meat eaters, especially pork. They seem completely oblivious to the idea of eating a larger variety of proteins in their diets. My four-year-old loves chicken and shrimp, but I have been trying to incorporate other types of white meat. The June issue of Better Homes and Gardens had a recipe for turkey burgers with peaches and blueberries that looked like a great way to introduce a larger variety of white meat into my family's diet.

The ingredients for this recipe were easily found at my local grocery store. I purchased frozen garlic bread and toasted it in the oven, as suggested. The only problem I encountered with the ingredients was the less than stellar peaches available in my area, but they tasted fine after being cooked. This recipe goes together very quickly. There are only 7 ingredients in total and the prep takes less that 15 minutes. I found the total time to take less than the 30 minutes stated, even with grinding my own meat. Instead of using an outdoor grill, I used my indoor Forman grill, which worked perfectly. Finally, I found my peaches took longer to cook than the suggested 5 minutes, closer to 10, but that might have been influenced my my peaches not being ripe enough.

My family thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. Being open faced it provides an alternative to the usual burger recipe and my two boys loved the berries. My husband particularly liked this recipe and it will be one I will use again in the future.

For the recipe go to Better Homes and Gardens Turkey Burger with Peaches and Blueberries. (Registration Required)

Martha Stewart Living Adobo Peanuts



So my last post focused on sweet cashew nuts. I love flavored nuts of any kind, especially sweet, but sometimes I crave savory snacks. Unlike most of my husband's family I don't particularly enjoy potato chips or pretzels. However, I do occasionally crave salty snacks and am always looking for new ways to satisfy my cravings. A recent issue of Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for adobo peanuts that looked like a great salty snack option.

With only four ingredients, this recipe is extremely simple. The total active time is under five minutes, and the total recipe time under an hour. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and followed the recipe as written. Just make sure to stir the nuts during baking time to prevent burning and to promote even cooking.

These nuts have a nice smokey flavor. They have a nice subtle amount of salt and a spiciness that grows the more nuts you eat. For anyone having an outdoor bbq this recipe would go great with lager, iced tea, or any drinks with lime or lemon.

For the recipe go to Martha Stewart Living Adobo Peanuts.

June 25, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Coconut-Curry Cashews



Growing up, my mother always bought nuts and put them out in pretty bowls. I think that's when my love affair with cashews, almonds, and such began. I'm not a huge fan of nuts in sweet recipes like brownies, but I love about any type of flavored nuts. I used to love going to fairs and buying the various kinds of candied nuts at the food stands, but haven't tried making very many types at home. I was pleased when a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for coconut-curry cashews, that combined two of my favorite things, sugar and nuts.

This recipe takes very minimal effort. Most of the prep time is from the cooking of the sugar mixture and the baking of the nuts, with the active time taking less than 10 minutes. I followed the recipe as written, with no modifications. The only problem I ran into was figuring out that unsweetened coconut flakes are located in the freezer section of my local grocery store, not the shelf. All other ingredients are basic, and many people will already have everything on hand.

My sons and husband loved these nuts. They are a nice combination of sweet and savory, and taste delicious. I like how easy they are to make and how the curry powder gives a nice savory undertone. This is a nut recipe that I will use again in the future, and would be great for parties.

For the recipe go to Martha Stewart Living Coconut-Curry Cashews.

June 24, 2011

Everyday Food Rigatoni with Chunky Vegetable Sauce

Pasta is a stable in our house. My boys and I could pretty much be happy eating pasta dishes every night of the week. However, my husband enjoys meat dishes and gets bored with the same vegetarian pasta dishes. I have been trying to incorporate one vegetarian dish a week into my family's diet without the recipes being monotonous.  Recently, Martha Stewart Everyday Food had a recipe for rigatoni with chunky vegetable sauce, which looked quick and delicious.

This is a very easy pasta recipe. The recipe states the total time as 30 minutes, but most of it is waiting for the pasta to cook. The ingredients were easily found at my local grocery store and the prep is minimal. I followed the recipe as stated, with no modifications.

My two boys of course liked this dish, it was pasta after all. I like that this recipe is very easy to prepare on a busy weeknight and takes little prep time. Make sure to adequately salt the pasta water, or the dish will be undersalted. This is a pretty basic recipe, and would work well for picky eaters.

For the recipe go to Everday Food Rigatoni with Chunky Vegetable Sauce.

June 23, 2011

Bon Apetit Cincinnati Chili



As I have stated before, my husband is a huge Cincinnati-style chili fan. I've had to hear numerous times the differences between Goldstar, Dixie and Skyline chili. Our oldest child's first table food was a Skyline chili cheese fry. Needless to say, my husband has opinions on how Cincinnati-style chili should taste. We regularly buy canned and frozen Cincy chili and I've made it from scratch using the spice packets more than once. I was intrigued when the February issue of Bon Appetit had a recipe for Cincinnati chili using lamb, instead of the traditional beef.

This is a relatively time consuming recipe. It isn't something that can be made last minute. The total time involved is about 2 1/2 hours, with about an hour and a half of prep. I grind my own lamb meat, so that added an additional ten minutes. The ingredients were all easily found at my local grocery store, or I already had in my spice cupboard. I did not use the goat's milk Gouda, my husband always tops his chili with shredded cheddar and I agreed that this was more traditional. I followed the rest of the recipe as stated, with no modifications .

Using lamb instead of beef in this recipe made a nice, rich flavor. This recipe tastes like a fancier version of the traditional Cincinnati style chili. My two boys weren't too sure of it at first, but ate the leftovers the next day. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe and would make it again.

For the recipe go to Bon Appetit Cincinnati Chili.

Better Homes and Gardens Garden Veggie Linguine with Cilantro Pesto



Growing up my mother made a lot of pesto. I loved the Sunday nights when she made pesto, the house would smell wonderful and there would be enough frozen cubes of pesto to last through several meals. When I left home I stopped making pesto and didn't start making it again until after I was married. I have made a variety of different basil pesto recipes, but few pestos using other ingredients. The May issue of Better Homes and Gardens had a recipe for garden veggie linguine with cilantro pesto, which looked out of the rut of my usual basil pesto recipes.

This recipe uses a decent amount of fresh veggies. I was unable to find baby zucchini, so I followed the recipe suggestion of a small regular zucchini. This recipe goes together very quickly. Almost the entire prep time is waiting for the pasta to cook, with the veggies taking only minutes to prepare. I found the dish to take far less than the 30 minutes suggested. I followed the recipe as stated. I did use whole wheat spaghetti because it was the variety I had on hand in my pantry. My one suggestion is to make sure that the pasta water is adequately salted, especially since the vegetables are cooked in the same water.

My two sons actually picked the veggies out of this dish. They were unsure of the green pasta, but loved the veggies. My husband and I appreciated that it was a change of pace of the usual basil pesto recipes. The dish goes together very quickly and is a great way to incorporate fresh veggies.

For the recipe go to Better Homes and Gardens Garden Veggie LInguine with Cilantro Pesto .

June 22, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Hot and Chunky Guacamole



Our family of four snacks a great deal. I tend to eat six small meals a day instead of three large ones and my two sons are both in growth spurts. Within a day of making any snack it tends to be devoured and something else has to be made. This phenomenon has lead to me being constantly on the lookout for new snack recipes that are healthy and delicious for my family. Recently, Better Homes and Gardens magazine had a recipe for hot and chunky guacamole, which looked perfect for my family's snacking habits.

This recipe uses very basic ingredients that were easily found at my local grocery store. I used frozen peas as fresh peas, even when in season, are rarely available in my area. I modified the recipe slightly by mashing the peas before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. Doing this made the peas better incorporated into the avocados and left a very pleasant taste. I found this recipe to take far less time that the 25 minutes suggested, 15 minutes at most.

I like that this recipe incorporates peas, it gives the guacamole a slightly sweet flavor. This guacamole is in no way spicy as the recipe suggests; for more heat some of the jalapenos seeds could be left in, instead of completely seeding. I served this recipe with pita chips, which worked great and my whole family enjoyed it.

For the recipe go to Better Homes and Gardens Hot and Chunky Guacamole. (registration required).

Martha Stewart Living Campanelle with Zucchini, Ham, Yogurt, and Scallions


 Mondays in our house tend to be hectic. Between finishing up the laundry and cleaning from the weekend (and normal weekday chaos), my dinner prep time becomes minimal at best. I try to have at least one recipe planned a week that takes less than twenty minutes, from prep to table. This also allows me time to have my four-year-old help me and learn cooking and math skills, (it is a great learning experience). Recently Martha Stewart Living magazine had a recipe for campanelle with zucchini, ham, yogurt and scallions that promised a total of 20 minutes cooking time and looked perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

With only 7 ingredients and twenty minutes from prep to table, this recipe is extremely easy. I actually had a hard time finding fresh mint, because apparently my local grocery store chain is having problems with its supplier. I was able to find the herb after going at another store, but it confirmed that I need to start growing my own herbs. Since the recipe only called for 4 ounce of ham, I used packaged lunch meat (which was almost gone before I had time to make the recipe thanks to my two growing sons). The only other changes I made were to the slicing of the zucchini. The recipe calls for slicing the vegetable on the bias (45 degree angle), my knives haven't been sharpened recently and I could not get a thin enough slice, so I sliced in order to make my slices thin enough.

This recipe goes together very easily and requires few ingredients. I like that it uses yogurt in the sauce, which is healthy and easily available. The mint gives a nice fresh flavor and the zucchini is a great way to get more veggies into my recipes. Overall a great, quick meal.

For the recipe go to Martha Stewart Living Campanelle with Zucchini, Ham, Yogurt, and Scallions.

June 21, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Double-Portobello Burgers with Roasted Tomatoes



Mushrooms have a way of disappearing off plates when my four-year-old is around. He loves them so much that he will pick out every single one off his plate and then systematically go around to every other person and take theirs as well. One of his other great loves is a good hamburger, especially the buns. So I was intrigued when a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living combined two of his favorite foods in a recipe for double-portobello burgers with roasted tomatoes.

I had no problem finding quality portobello mushrooms at my local grocery store. They actually had both pre-packaged and bulk, with the bulk variety being almost half the price (much better deal!). This recipe does take some prep time, with the tomatoes and mushrooms being roasted in the oven for 25 minutes. However, once they are roasted, the remainder of the recipe goes together in less than 10 minutes. As I've stated before my oven broiler is broken, so I used my convection toaster oven's broil setting and they turned out perfect.

My four-year-old loved these burgers. He even went so far as to eating his brother's left overs out of the fridge later in the evening as a snack. Next time I make these I might pat down the mushroom with a paper towel after roasting, I found them to be a little watery. The roasted tomatoes were delicious with the mushrooms and made a nice edition to the burger. This recipe was a great way to get a vegetarian recipe into my meat-oriented family's diet.

For the link go to Martha Stewart Living Double-Portobello Burgers with Roasted Tomatoes.

Parents Stir-Fried Shrimp Over Rice Noodles



My oldest son has fallen in love with seafood in the last couple of months. Any dish involving shrimp he will devour and ask for seconds. My youngest son also loves seafood, but his ultimate favorite food is pasta. He has been known to eat a half package of leftover spaghetti from the refrigerator. I have been trying to find recipes that combine both of my sons food preferences and was pleased when the June issue of Parents magazine had a recipe for stir-fried shrimp over rice noodles.

Recently, my local grocery store downsized its Asian foods section. There are currently no types of rice noodles available, so I substituted spaghetti noddles. Additionally, I have never actually seen fresh snow peas at any of the stores in my area, so I substituted frozen. This dish goes together very fast. I was able to prepare and make this meal while my two boys played in the kitchen (they thought they were helping). I did peel and de-vein my shrimp earlier in the day, since I find it time consuming to do right before dinner. The rest of the prep work was minimal, with the carrots needing to be shredded and the baby corn cut into pieces. I followed the suggestion and added sesame seeds at the end.

My two sons loved this recipe. Of course the oldest ate all the shrimp and the youngest all the pasta, but they were both content. Substituting the rice noodles for spaghetti worked out fine taste wise and the dish has a nice sweet taste. I have been trying to get more seafood into my family's diet and this recipe worked perfectly.

For the recipe go to Parents Stir-Fried Shrimp Over Rice Noodles. (registration required).

June 20, 2011

Parents "Pumpkin" Pancakes


Getting my two young boys to eat breakfast can be a struggle on the best of days. They either wont eat anything or insist on the worst possible food choices. Eating a breakfast containing vitamins, fruits or veggies can be a particularly tricky endeavor. I was pleased when Parents magazine had a recipe for pumpkin pancakes, that looked like something my children would actually eat.

I found out after searching at three separate stores that none of the stores in my area carry canned pumpkin, except during the holiday season. You can find pumpkin puree for making pumpkin pie, but no straight canned pumpkin. I have bought it in previous years, but the organic sections of my local grocery stores have downsized due to low demand and they no longer carry the item year round. So I made a major substitution and used a cooked sweet potato, which I processed in my food processor to get rid of the strings. Everything else in the recipe I kept the same, except I didn't add fresh berried on top.

This recipe actually turned out very well with the sweet potato substitution. The taste was similar to a regular pancake and my kids couldn't tell the difference. Next year during the holidays I am planning on buying a baking pumpkin and making my own pumpkin to can and keep for the rest of the year when I will be unable to find it at my local stores. Then I will be able to try the recipe with pumpkin and compare which version I like better. This recipe is a great way to get more variety into my kids breakfast diet.

For the recipe go to Parents Pumpkin Pancakes (registration required).

June 19, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Turkey Burgers with Red Onion and Jalapenos


The men in my family can at times be a little overly meat oriented. My husband can go about two days without meat before he gets grumpy and binges out on beef jerky or other meat snacks. My two boys aren't much better, they have been known to eat almost an entire package of bacon. Due to this meat addiction I have been trying to find healthier types of meat to include in my family's diet, such as turkey, fish and chicken. Recently, Martha Stewart Living magazine had a recipe for turkey burgers with red onions and jalapenos. 

The ingredients in this recipe were easily found at my local grocery store. The prep time is next to nothing, with only the red onion needing slicing and cooked and the avocado mashed. I grind my own turkey meat, so that took an additional 10-15 minutes. Instead, of using an outdoor grill I used my Forman grill inside. My total time was about 25 minutes, but that included the time needed to grind the meat. 

My two sons thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. At first they were unsure of the onions and jalapenos, but ended up eating their whole portion. I appreciate that this recipe uses turkey meat, which I have been trying to incorporate more into my family's diet. The red onions bring a sweet taste which nicely compliments the jalapenos. I especially enjoyed the avocado spread, which was a nice contrast with the rest of the burger. This recipe makes a nice alternative to a beef burger without sacrificing on taste. 



June 18, 2011

McCormick Roasted Coriander-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Bacon and Sweet Potatoes



My two boys are huge chicken fans. When I serve any dish involving chicken, they dive right in and eat their whole plates. My husband and I love chicken also, but aren't for the most part big fans of chicken breasts. We do love chicken thighs and use the meat frequently in recipes. Recently, I can across an ad in one of my food magazines which included a recipe for McCormick roasted coriander-spiced chicken thighs with bacon and sweet potatoes.

I had no trouble finding any of the ingredients for this recipe. The prep time was easy and took my less than the twenty minutes suggested. All cooking is done in one dish, so the clean up is very easy and the dish can be prepped and left to cook for the majority of the cooking time. I followed the recipe as suggested and didn't make any modifications.

My in-laws who shared dinner with us, really enjoyed this recipe. Similarly, my two boys loved this dish as well, and ate their whole plates. My husband thought the flavor was good, but didn't highlight the spices effectively for being a McCormick sponsored recipe. I like that the recipe only takes one dish, so the clean up is easy and perfect for a quick, easy weeknight meal. When I cook this again I will add additional coriander to bring out the flavor of the spice more effectively.

For the link go to McCormick Roasted Coriander-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Bacon and Sweet Potatoes.


June 17, 2011

Bon Appetit Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti



As I've stated before I have a huge sweet tooth. I bake at least twice a week to keep up with my family's snacking habits and try to make a variety of different dessert options. Frequently I make chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, but I have been trying to expose my two boys to a larger variety of dessert tastes. The May issue of Bon Appetit had a recipe for pistachio and dried-cherry biscotti that looked promising for a new cookie flavor for my family to try.

The ingredients for this recipe are easy to find, even at my smaller local grocery store. I bought shelled pistachio nuts, even though they are more expensive, to save me the time of shelling. This cookie dough is very dry, so don't be surprised and attempt to add water; the dough is meant to be difficult to bind together. The dough will bind together once pressed into the log shape and bakes up perfectly. I dipped the ends of my finished biscotti in melted white chocolate to add a bit of extra sweetness.

I have tried a number of biscotti recipes over the years and this recipe is by far the best one. The mixture of vanilla and almond extracts bring a nice rounded sweet flavor. My husband was upset due to the fact that my two sons ate most of the cookies before he got more than a couple. This recipe will replace any of my previous biscotti recipes. It is truly delicious.

For the recipe go to Bon Appetit Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti.

*The web version of this recipe has been modified. The original recipe from the magazine that I used had 2 cups of flour. Instead of using a mixer for the last part of the mixing, I used my hands and I had none of the problems that other people have found online.

June 16, 2011

All You Roasted Tomato Salsa



Snacks go quickly in our house, so I am always making more. Lately, my two sons have been obsessed with homemade tortilla chips and I have been looking for dips and salsas to accompany them. I have tried a number of guacamole and salsa recipes, but I am always looking for that can't miss recipe. The June issue of All You magazine had a recipe for roasted tomato salsa that looked different than previous recipes I have attempted and perfect for my snack-oriented family.

My ancient Caloric oven's broiler has been broken for about 4 years, so I roasted the tomatoes, pepper, and jalapenos in batches in my convection toaster oven. It worked great, so the results were the same. The roasting did take longer than the suggested 10 minutes to char the tomatoes, I would say close to 20 minutes, but that might be related to using the toaster oven instead of a standard oven. All the ingredients for this recipe are basic and the plum tomatoes at my local grocery store were cheaper than any other tomato variety available. This salsa recipe does take slightly longer than other salsas, but it makes a very large batch of eight servings and has lasted in our fridge for multiple days.

This recipe has been received well by every member of my house and my in-laws. I like that the flavor of the charred tomatoes make for a nice well rounded salsa. Even my father in-law who shies away from spicy foods enjoyed this salsa recipe. The only thing that received complaints was that my husband wasn't a fan of the cumin, next time I make this recipe I will probably leave this ingredient out.

For the recipe go to All You Roasted Tomato Salsa.

June 15, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Thai Chicken Tacos


When I was younger and lived in a much larger city, I would go out to ethnic restaurants almost weekly. Since moving 2500 miles away to a much smaller city, my ethnic food options have become more limited. There are a number of Chinese restaurants, but only one over-priced Thai option. To make up for this unfortunate situation I have been trying to make a variety of southeast Asian dishes for my family. The June issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine had a recipe for Thai chicken tacos that looked interesting and would introduce new flavors to my children.

This recipe goes together very quickly. The majority of the work is prepping the veggies for the slaw, with the actual cooking time being less than 5 minutes. The chicken does have to marinate for an hour to soak up the flavor,  but it could easily be prepped in the morning and kept in the fridge until dinner. I was pleasantly surprised that my local grocery store had multiple brands of fish sauce available, so I had no problems finding any ingredients.

Everything about this dish was a big hit with my family. My husband was especially impressed with the slaw and thought the tacos were some of the best that he had ever had, Thai, Tex-Mex, or otherwise. I liked that this dish is full of flavor, but takes very little time to prepare. My children took apart their tacos and ate all their chicken happily and ate leftovers the next day. I would even recommend the slaw as a flavorful salad for those on a diet or just trying to eat more veggies. This will be a recipe that I will have on standby to use in the future, especially for a busy weeknight meal.

For the recipe go to Better Homes and Gardens Thai Chicken Tacos.

AMF Summer Unplugged


Growing up, my father was a great bowler. He had his own bowling ball and ball case and the two of us would go bowling frequently. My bowling skills were far less than my dad's, however. I tend to twist my wrist when I bowl, causing the ball to (mostly) roll towards the gutter. My dad tried for years to fix it, even going so far as to buy me a bowling brace, to do avail :). Regardless of how many gutter balls I ended up with, what I enjoyed the most about the time at the bowling alley during the summer was spending time with my father (well, and the air conditioning). It was a great bonding experience! Anyone else have any great bowling memories?

This summer, AMF is running their AMF Summer Unplugged program. This is a great deal for anyone with kids who wants a fun reason to get out of the house during the summer. 
For kids 16 and under the program entails:
  • At select AMF centers, two free games of bowling per day for kids 16 and under. (Shoe rental not included, but they’re worth paying for.)
  • Time: open until 8:00PM, 7 days a week.
  • Dates: Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) through Monday, September 5 (Labor Day).
  • Free game coupons emailed every Sunday starting May 29 for the following week – it’s that simple!
 For everyone over 17:
  • Share the fun and save!
  • For families of registered kids, a one-time payment of $27.95 buys 2 games per day for 4 people all summer long – it’s the AMF Summer 17 Plus Pass. (Same dates and times as above.)
  • Less than $7 per person for 2 games everyday all summer. Try getting that sort of value at the theater or the theme park!
For the full details of the program and to sign up visit: AMF's Summer Unplugged.

Some other useful links:

Disclaimer:  I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network and am eligible for a prize drawing.  All opinions stated in this post are my own.

June 14, 2011

All You Tres Leches Cake



As I've stated before, with two growing boys in our house, we go through a large amount of food. My sweet tooth ensures that sweets are also eaten quickly after they are made. Since I normally bake about twice a week, I'm always on the lookout for new dessert recipes to change up my family's routine. The June issue of All You magazine had a recipe for Tres Leches Cake that looked delicious and outside of my normal recipe routine.

This cake is very easy to put together. The majority of the prep time is done in the fridge, with minimal mixing and only 30 minutes of baking. I topped the cake with fresh blackberries and raspberries which were on sale at my local supermarket. I waited overnight after adding the milks to make sure that they were completely absorbed. I would recommend doing this, because it allows the cake to be completely moistened.

This is one of the most popular desserts that I have made recently. My husband is not a big cake eater, but he liked this cake. I like that this it is easy to put together and makes a great way to use fresh berries when they are in season. My two boys, normally only eat the frosting off any cake that I make, but with this cake they ate their whole piece. This is definitely a dessert option that I will be using again in the future.

For the recipe go to All You Tres Leches Cake.

June 13, 2011

Bon Appetit Thai Shrimp-Halibut Curry



I have been making an effort recently to incorporate more seafood into my family's diet. My two boys love any dish that has shrimp or fish in it and happily eat their whole plates. However, I have been trying to broaden their seafood horizons by giving them a wider variety of fish. I was pleased when a recent issue of Bon Appetit had a recipe for Thai shrimp-halibut curry, that would introduce a new fish flavor.

The longest prep for this recipe is the shelling and de-veining of the shrimp. The rest of the prep is short, with few ingredients requiring cutting or chopping. My total time took less than the 50 minutes suggested by the recipe. I did have to make a few modifications. Halibut was unavailable at my local grocery store, so I substituted cod. Additionally, I was unable to find shallots that week, so I substituted red onion. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I was easy able to find Thai red curry paste and fish sauce at my local grocery store.

My family really enjoyed this recipe. My two boys ate their entire plates and the leftovers the next day. My husband loved the cod, but thought the shrimp could be substituted with more fish to be more frugal without sacrificing taste. I will definitely make this dish again, with either cod or halibut.

For the recipe go to Bon Appetit Thai Shrimp-Halibut Curry.

June 12, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Charred-Eggplant and Beef Burgers


My recent week of potato salad and burger recipes mostly involved vegetable on the side of the burgers, not within. However, I wanted to try a few recipes that directly incorporated a vegetable into the actual hamburger itself. My mother used to make very delicious burgers that she incorporated veggies into, but I hadn't tried any similar recipes myself. I was pleased when a recent edition of Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for charred-eggplant and beef burgers that had eggplant in the actual burger meat.

This recipe states that it takes 3 hours for total prep time. This includes a half hour of roasting the eggplant and 2 hours of draining; I did not follow these directions. The broiler on my oven is broken and our outside grill wasn't ready for grilling, so instead I cut the eggplant in half and grilled it on my George Foreman grill. This allowed me to not do the 2 hours of draining time required by roasting the eggplant whole. When sliced the eggplant grilled without retaining the moisture, so the additional step was unnecessary. Additionally, my oldest son ate all the dill pickles I had purchased for the sauce for this recipe, so I improvised with sweet pickles, adding more dijon and vinegar for balance.

I love that this recipes incorporated the vegetable straight into the burger. My kids loved this burger, not knowing that there was a vegetable hidden within. My husband and I liked that the burger was nice and juicy thanks to the liquid from the eggplant. I would definitely make this recipe again with my modifications.

For the recipe go to Martha Stewart Living Charred-Eggplant and Beef Burgers.

June 11, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens Sweet Potato Salad


I have posted a number of potato salad recipe lately that I made a couple weeks back. I tried different varieties to see what stuck out to my family. Most of the recipes I tried were red or white potato based, so I tried one last recipe that used another type of potato. In the June issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine there was a recipe for sweet potato salad that looked out of the ordinary.

The prep for this recipe is a little longer than a lot of other potato salads. The sweet potato are baked for over an hour and then cut into chunks. Additionally, there are a number of vegetables requiring chopping, making the total prep time (with chilling) approximately 3 hours. This would not be a recipe to start right before dinner, but instead would be great to prep that night before a get together. The ingredients used are basic, with nothing that couldn't be found at my local grocery store.

This potato salad has a very distinct sweet taste It would go best with any kind of bbq; with other dishes it might taste too sweet. My two boys liked this recipe, I made it with burgers and next time would make it with pulled pork or bbq chicken. With either of those dishes this salad would fit perfectly and would be great to take to a bbq.

For the recipe go to Better Homes and Gardens Sweet Potato Salad.

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