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August 31, 2011

Saveur Guacamole Taquero (Taco-Shop Guacamole)

As I've stated numerous times before, we make a lot of homemade salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips in our household. I love making these dishes because they are quick, simple and can be made a variety of ways. Plus, it's a great way to get my kids to try new types of peppers and introduce them to new tastes and flavors. Since I make guacamole so frequently, a lot of the recipes I have found are often variations of the same basic ingredients. However, I was interested when a recent issue of Saveur magazine had a recipe for Guacamole Taquero (Taco-Shop Guacamole), which included different ingredients than the guacamole recipes I have made previously.

This recipe has 8 ingredients, all of which I was easily able to find at my local grocery store. The prep time takes only  a few minutes, as most of the work is done in the blender. Honestly, I don't really chop my ingredients very finely since I have a higher end blender, which can handle just about anything. I followed the recipe as stated with no modifications.

If your used to a traditional chunky guacamole, this recipe is a little different. The texture is thinner, closer to a sauce than a dip. It would be great on a burger or taco and could be easily used with a number of different recipes as a topping. I served the guacamole with homemade tortilla chips, which was also delicious. This recipe is very versatile and could be used for a variety of uses.

For the recipe go to Saveur Guacamole Taquero.

Bon Appetit Classic Coleslaw Dressing

Growing up, I never put coleslaw on any foods. I had never had the coleslaw homemade, only from the deli counter at the grocery store. It was always runny and unappetizing and I never cared for it. When I moved to West Virginia I was taken aback by the fact that everyone in this area put coleslaw on their hot dogs. I was very skeptical at first and was reluctant to try it for some time. Then I met my husband, who is obsessed with hot dogs and came around to trying it. I must say that homemade coleslaw is in no way the same as the runny store bought variety from back home in Seattle. My boys are now growing up in a household that always has coleslaw when I serve hot dogs or BBQ, and I'm okay with that. I have been bad recently about relying on the store bought varieties that are available locally, which are so much better than the stuff back in Seattle! When I saw a recipe for Classic Coleslaw Dressing in the July issue of Bon Appetit magazine I figured it was about time I started making more coleslaw from scratch.

This recipe has 9 ingredients for the dressing (and then cabbage of course).  The dressing takes only minutes to prepare and the ingredients were all easily found at my local grocery store. I used homemade dill pickles and brine, which I had made a couple of months back. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written. I only used straight cabbage for the slaw, I didn't add carrots or any other vegetables.

A couple of years back I lost the Julienne slicer that I used to use to shred cabbage, Since that time I have been doing my shredding by hand. which leads to slightly larger shreds. I have the attachment for my food processor, but I have yet to use it, maybe I'll learn this winter. Due to shredding with a knife, my coleslaw had extra sauce, which I don't think would have been there if the cabbage pieces were uniform. The size of the pieces in no way detracted from the taste, just something to note if you are shredding by hand. This recipe went well with the Pulled Chicken Sandwiches and I had enough leftovers to use again on re-heated Lexington Pulled Pork. A great simple and straightforward coleslaw recipe.

For the recipe go to Bon Appetit Classic Coleslaw Dressing.


All You Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

To go with the trend I have been following the last couple of days, this post is another slow cooker recipe. I love making slow cooker meals this time of year when the summer is winding down and the weather is still very warm. The ability to set ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning and not have to worry about them until dinner is a great benefit. These types of dinners are great for quick weeknight meals, and I make them frequently. I've made a number of pork and beef slow cooker meals recently and was pleased when a recent issue of All You magazine had a recipe for Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, which utilized another type of meat than I have been preparing in the last couple of weeks.

This recipe has 13 ingredients including buns. The total cooking time is 5 hours, with 10 minutes of prep time. I made a few modifications to the recipe, First, I used all skinless, boneless chicken thighs, instead of a combination of thighs and breasts. Everyone in my family prefers the taste of thighs and I find many chicken breast recipes to be dry. Secondly, I used Sunny Buns, instead of whole-wheat hamburger buns. My two boys absolutely love Sunny Buns and they pretty much guarantee that my two kids will eat their sandwiches. Finally, I used sweet onion for the 2 sliced onions in the recipe. When sweet onions are in season, I prefer them in many recipes to the stronger white or red onions. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I was surprised by how delicious this slow cooker recipe turned out. The onions gave the sandwiches a delicious sweet taste, which everyone in my family enjoyed. I combined the sandwiches with homemade coleslaw (recipe to be posted later today). This pulled chicken sandwich recipe is a great way to use the slow cooker and makes enough leftovers for an additional meal.

For the recipe go to All You Pulled Chicken Sandwiches.


August 30, 2011

Family Circle Sweet Potato Chili

As I stated in my previous post, this has been a crazy couple of weeks for my family and I have been using my slow cooker like crazy. I already posted the Lexington Pulled Pork and Indonesian Beef Curry recipes that I tried last week, which were both delicious. After trying two meat based slow cooker recipes, I wanted to try to find a vegetarian recipe which would be filling enough to feed my two growing boys. I didn't have to look very hard before finding a recipe for Sweet Potato Chili in the July issue of Family Circle magazine.

This recipe has 13 ingredients, including rice. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and I already had the spices in my pantry cupboard. The total time for this recipe is 8 hours and 15 minutes (if cooked on low). All but 15 minutes of this time is done in the slow cooker, so the actual hands-on time is minimal. I made no major modifications to the recipe. I did serve the chili over white rice, I am still trying to convince my family that brown rice is an acceptable substitute. Make sure to rinse the canned pinto beans well, or the taste will be metallic.

My husband and I liked this curry, my two boys loved the beans, weren't sure of the rest. I liked that this recipe makes a large amount of curry, so there are lots of leftovers. Per serving the chili has only 2g of fat and 9g of protein, so definitely a healthy and nutritious vegetarian meal.

For the recipe go to  Family Circle Sweet Potato Chili (registration required).




Family Circle Indonesian Beef Curry

In the last couple of weeks I have made a number of crock-pot recipes. My oldest started kindergarten two weeks ago and I am still adjusting to our new schedule. Due to this big change in routine and to make the first couple of weeks easier on myself, I turned to my crock-pot for my dinner preparations. During the winter I make a number of crock-pot bean and meat recipes, but I wanted to try something new. I was excited when the July issue of Family Circle magazine had a recipe for Indonesian Beef Curry, which looked different than other crock-pot recipes I have tried in the past.

This recipe has 14 ingredients, including the flat bread. The total cooking and prep time is 8 hours and 15 minutes (if cooking on low). However, all but 15 minutes of this time is in the slow cooker. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. I chose to cook my curry on low for 8 hours, instead of high for 6. To me, cooking meats on low for a longer period of time in the slow cooker tastes better, but that it just a personal preference. I served the curry with Naan bread (which I purchased from the grocery store). I did not use reduced sodium soy sauce, I already had regular soy sauce in my fridge, so I used it instead. The final taste did not turn out overly salty, so the substitution was fine. Finally, for the potatoes I used fingerling potatoes, which worked perfectly.

The taste of this curry turned out well. The only thing that my husband and I noticed was that it is more of a roast with sauce, than a true curry. The taste was mild enough that my two boys were able to eat it without complaints and it heated up well the next day for leftovers. This slow cooker recipe is a easy way to get dinner on the table and makes enough for leftovers for another meal.

For the recipe go to Family Circle Indonesian Beef Curry (registration required).



Saveur Lexington Pulled Pork

In the summer when the weather gets too hot, I love using my crock-pot to make BBQ. Now, my husband bought a very nice charcoal grill/smoker on clearance about 8 years ago, which we used for two years and then we moved into our current place. Since that time it has sat in our basement in need of sanding and painting. I would love to be able to have slow smoked BBQ done on the charcoal smoker, but I don't see my husband fixing it anytime soon and he refuses to use a gas grill. So in order to satisfy my love of BBQ I have learned to convert traditional BBQ recipes into the slow-cooker. Recently, Saveur magazine had a recipe for Lexington Pulled Pork, which looked perfect for the slow-cooker.

This recipe has 16 ingredients, 9 for the rub and 7 for the sauce. Since this recipe is written for the grill, I made some major modifications. First I prepared the rub and rubbed it all over the pork and let it sit for about an hour. Then I sprayed the slow cooker with olive oil, placed the pork shoulder in it, fat side up and let it cook on low for about 8 hours. I do not add additional water to my slow cooker when making pulled pork, there is enough fat from the pork to keep it moist for the whole cooking time and  I always let my pork cook for a very long time (I have let it cook for up to 16 hours before). When the pork has cooked for eight hours, I take it out, shred it and return it to the slow-cooker with the sauce. Let the pork and sauce cook for an additional hour and it's done. In our house we serve pulled pork with coleslaw (homemade coleslaw recipe to be posted to the blog next week). My husband refuses to eat BBQ or hotdogs without 'slaw.

The slow-cooker worked great for this recipe and the sauce and rub were absolutely delicious. My husband was surprised how well the BBQ turned out in the crock-pot and my two boys ate their whole serving. This recipe is a great way to make BBQ, when you don't have access to a grill or don't the time for all day smoking.

For the recipe go to Saveur Lexington Pulled Pork.


August 29, 2011

Bon Appetit Tomato and Cheddar Pie

My oldest son absolutely loves tomatoes. During the summer when tomatoes are easily available, he will bite into them like apples. My husband and I love tomatoes baked in dishes, but aren't fans of them raw. I have been trying to find tomato dishes that will please both my tomato loving sons and my husband and I. I was interested when the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine had a recipe for Tomato and Cheddar Pie, which looked liked a recipe everyone in my family would enjoy.

This recipe has 17 ingredients, and takes about three hours to prepare and bake, including cooling time. The ingredients are basic, most I had in my pantry or I was easily able to find at my local grocery store, with one exception. For whatever reason, I have been unable to find fresh dill at my local stores. Therefore, I had to leave it out of the recipe. I did have to tent my crust with foil about half way through the baking time to prevent burning. I followed everything else in the recipe as written. The dough will be sticky when the buttermilk is added, just add additional flour, but not too much or the dough will turn out tough. After the dough was chilled, I had no problem rolling it out.

Even without the dill, this recipe turned out delicious. The tomatoes and cheese complimented each other nicely and the crust came out perfect. My husband and I were bigger fans of this recipe than my two boys, I think it might have been a little too rich for their tastes. Overall, a great way to use fresh tomatoes during the summer..

For the recipe go to Bon Appetit Tomato and Cheddar Pie.


Martha Stewart Living Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia

Growing up in Washington state I ate a lot of various berries growing up. I loved the summer season when my mom would take me to pick blackberries and cherries would be on sale everywhere. When I moved to West Virginia I was taken aback by how much more expensive fruit is during the summer and didn't buy it for a number of years. Now that I have kids, I have been trying to introduce them to as many fruits and vegetables as I can, so I have been making more of an effort to buy fruit and vegetables when they are in season. Recently, Martha Stewart Living magazine had a recipe for Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia, which looked perfect to utilize fresh cherries and herbs.

This recipe has eight ingredients and takes 6 hours and ten minutes to prep and bake. I did make a major modification to the recipe, I used sweet cherries, not sour cherries. Honestly, I have never seen fresh sour cherries around here, so I used what I had available locally. The dough is pretty sticky during the first few kneads, but I resisted adding a lot of flour and only added enough so my hands didn't completely stick. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I haven't made focaccia in about 10 years, so I wasn't sure how this bread would turn out, but it was perfect. I was very pleased with how the bread tasted and it looked great. My five-year-old fell in love with this bread and ate almost half the loaf by himself. My husband and I loved how airy and light the focaccia turned out, it was well worth the 6 hours of work. This recipe is a great way to use fresh cherries and made a truly delicious bread.

For the recipe go to Martha Stewart Living Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia.



Better Homes and Gardens Sweet Potato Fries

If given the option, the three men in my house would eat french fries multiple times a week. While, I do love french fries every once in while, the grease doesn't agree with me on a regular basis. In an effort to make healthier alternatives to the greasy fast food fries that my household loves, I have been experimenting with various baked fries recipes, in the hopes of finding something my family will eat. The August issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine had a recipe for Sweet Potato Fries, which looked like a delicious and healthier version to traditional french fries.

This recipe has 11 ingredients and takes approximately 45 minutes to prep and bake. The ingredients are all basic, with the majority already in my pantry cupboard. Due to a lack of oven space from preparing multiple dishes, I baked the fries in my toaster oven. I did not make the ketchup recipe provided in the magazine, but instead used the new Simply Heinz ketchup that my husband has been wanting to try, since it contains no high fructose corn syrup. Make sure to make very narrow fries, a few of mine were a little too thick and didn't cook to a crisp.

My two sons were big fans of this recipe. The fries were sweet and the cheese gave a nice crisp crust. I do wish that I had made the homemade ketchup recipe, I think if I make this recipe again I will make the ketchup as an accompaniment. These sweet potato fries don't taste like traditional french fries, but they are delicious and much healthier than the fried version.

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



August 28, 2011

All You Smoky Chipotle Meat Loaf

With two very active and growing little boys in my house, we go through a large amount of food a week. In an effort to save my budget, I try to make as many dishes as I can which can be stretched into multiple meals. Additionally, I love finding healthier variations of common favorite recipes, such as fried chicken or meatloaf. Meatloaf is a family favorite and is great to use leftovers for sandwiches. Recently, the august issue of All You magazine had a recipe for Smoky Chipotle Meat Loaf, utilizing oats, which looked like a healthier alternative to my traditional meat loaf recipes.

This recipe has 12 ingredients and takes approximately an hour and 15 minutes to prep and cook. I was able to find all the ingredients at my local grocery store, without any problems. I did make a few modifications to the original recipe. First, I did not seed my chipotle chilies, I just took them out of the can as is; I don't find the seeds in the chilies to be spicy enough to warrant this extra step. Additionally, I ground my own beef from chuck roast, which I highly recommend, the taste is so much better. Finally, I have a very particular husband when it comes to ketchup, he will only eat Heinz, so that it what I used for this recipe.

My husband and I loved the smoky undertones from the adobo sauce and chilies. This recipe is very easy to follow and takes little effort to prepare. The one thing that I did notice is that the texture is different than a traditional meatloaf due to the oats. It has a grittier texture, so don't be surprised. If your looking for a way to incorporate more whole grains into your diet, this recipe is a great way to do so.

For the recipe go to All You Smoky Chipotle Meat Loaf.


August 27, 2011

Martha Stewart Living Zucchini Salad

My two boys love any type of fruit they are given. However, vegetables are another story. There are certain vegetables, such as broccoli and asparagus, which they absolutely love and will eat willingly. Other vegetables such as cauliflower and lettuce they won't touch. I have been trying to find new recipes, that will taste delicious and encourage my family eat more nutritious vegetables and was intrigued when a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for Zucchini Salad.

This recipe has 7 ingredients, including salt and pepper. It takes less than ten minutes to prep and is very easy to prepare. I had to make a major modification to this recipe. For whatever reason my local grocery stores never seem to have fresh dill in stock, so I had to leave it out entirely. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My husband had never eaten raw zucchini before and was skeptical of this recipe. However, after tasting it, he thought it was delicious. I don't think that leaving out the dill made a major difference to the overall taste of the dish, it was still appetizing and my two boys ate it willingly. The best part of the recipe is the fresh feta, which when paired with the zucchini is a delicious combination. A great way to use fresh summer garden vegetables

For the recipe go to Martha Stewart Living Zucchini Salad.


August 26, 2011

English Muffin Bread

Each week I bake at least two loaves of bread. I try to make one loaf whole wheat and the other white. On the days that I have more time to devout to baking, I try to make breads that take more rising and kneading time. However, there are many days during the week when I have little time to wait for hours to finish my bread, during those days I make one my favorite easy breads, English Muffin Bread.

This bread takes very little effort and is easy enough for someone that has never made bread before. The ingredients are:
  • 6 cups bread flour (you can also use all-purpose flour)
  • 5 teaspoons active dry yeast 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups whole milk (you could also use lower fat varieties)
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Combine 3 cups of flour, yeast and baking soda. Heat milk, water, sugar and salt until 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir milk and flour mixtures together, then add remaining flour. Divide dough in half and place in two greased and floured loaf pans. Cover and let rise about 45 minutes, or until double in size. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Wait until cool to slice.

This bread is a little smaller than other white bread with longer rise times, so don't be surprised if the bread looks smaller after rising, it's normal. My two boys love this bread with homemade strawberry jam or butter. It's a quick, easy way to get homemade bread into your family's diet!

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book page 149.

August 25, 2011

Food Network Magazine Creamed Corn

I have been making an effort this summer to use as many fresh in-season vegetables as I can. It saves me money on my food budget and is better for my family's overall health, since the vegetables are fresher and haven't traveled as far. Recently, I have been trying to take advantage of the great prices on corn and been making a number of corn recipes. The July/August issue of the Food Network Magazine had a recipe for Grandma Moore's Creamed Corn, which looked very easy and perfect to use fresh corn.

This recipe has 4 ingredients, including salt and pepper. The total time is 50 minutes, all of which is active. I followed the recipe as stated, but found that I had to add additional water, since I wasn't able to get enough from scrapping the cob. I would estimate that I used approximately 1/2 cup of additional water.

I loved the smoky flavor that the bacon provided in this recipe. I had never made creamed corn before and this recipe was very easy to make and follow. Previously, I had only had canned creamed corn and was never a fan, but this recipe has converted me to making it homemade, it was absolutely delicious!

For the recipe go to Food Network Magazine Grandma Moore's Creamed Corn.

August 24, 2011

Everyday Food Corn and Tomato Relish

I love making tacos and make them frequently. I have tried just about every store bought salsa available and have not found any that are as good as homemade. Since I make salsa so often I try to vary up the type of salsa I prepare based on personal preference and what fruits and vegetables are in season. The last month corn has sprung up all over the place at great prices, so I have been trying a number of corn dishes. The June issue of Everyday Food had a recipe for Corn and Tomato Relish, which was perfect for the chicken tacos I was preparing as a main dish.

This recipe has 7 ingredients and takes only minutes to prepare. I followed the recipe as stated with no modifications. The only problem with working with fresh corn is getting all the silk off completely. The best way I have found to take silk off of fresh corn is to rub them with a dry paper towel, works like a charm and makes using fresh corn much easier!

I loved how fresh and light this salsa turned out. It was a great accompaniment to the Chicken Tacos  I made as a main dish. This salsa would also be great with tortilla chips and is very easy. A great way to use fresh corn, that literally only takes minutes to prepare.

For the recipe go to Everyday Food Corn and Tomato Relish .

Saveur Pastel de Tres Leches con Coco (Three Milks Cake with Coconut)

Of the four people in my household, I am the only one that enjoys cake. I love cake and have as far back as I can remember. My oldest son will eat frosting and no cake, and my husband won't even venture that far. Since I make one sweet a week, I have been trying to find a cake recipe that everyone in my house will enjoy. I made a Tres Leches cake a couple of months back that my husband actually ate, so I have been looking for other variations to try. When I opened a recent issue of Saveur magazine I found a recipe for Pastel de Tres Leches con Coco (Three Milks Cake with Coconut), which looked delicious and different from previous Tres Leches Cake recipes I have tried.

This cake has 7 ingredients and takes about 5 hours (including chilling time) to prepare. The cake is incredibly easy to prepare, with the mixture doing most of the work. I followed the recipe as stated, with no modifications. I used homemade canned peaches for the topping (which I didn't get a picture of before they were eaten :). When the milk is first poured over the cake it seems like too much liquid, but by the time the cake has sat in the fridge for 4 hours, all the liquid is absorbed.

I really enjoyed this recipe. The cake is very light and airy and the addition of the coconut is absolutely delicious. My two sons weren't as big of fans since their was no frosting, but they rarely eat cake and prefer cookies in the first place. This recipe is very quick and easy and would be great for a party or the end to a delicious meal.

For the recipe go to Saveur Pastel de Tres Leches con Coco.



All You Santa Fe Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos

If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I make a lot of tacos. I absolutely love tacos and make them a couple of times a month. I get bored using the same protein over and over, so I try to vary up the weeks I use chicken, fish, pork and beef. Recently, I have been trying to increase the amount of chicken that my family eats and was pleased when the June issue of All You magazine had a recipe for Santa Fe Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos.

This recipe has 10 ingredients and takes approximately 40 minutes, including marinating. All the ingredients are basic and the majority I already had in my pantry cupboard. I made no modifications to the ingredients, however, I did cook the chicken on my indoor grill rather than an outdoor gas grill.

The spice blend on these tacos is delicious. This recipe is very simple to put together and everyone in my family thoroughly enjoyed the tacos. My five-year-old was especially enthusiastic about the chicken and ate the majority of the leftovers the next day. My husband liked that the chicken breasts were flattened before grilling, which made for a delicious flavor. This dish is a great, simple weekday meal that is low in fat and high on taste.

For the recipe go to All You Santa Fe Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos.


August 23, 2011

Family Circle Moo Shu Pork Burger

As I've stated numerous times before, we are huge pork fans in our household. I normally make pork once a week, which is far more frequently than I prepare beef. Beef as an ingredient is delicious, but I have never been one to sit down and eat an entire steak in one sitting. I have always loved the taste of pork far better and am always looking for ways to use the meat in new ways. I was given the July issue of Family Circle magazine and was intrigued by the recipe for Moo Shu Pork Burgers.

This recipe has 10 ingredients, and takes approximately 21 minutes to prepare and cook. Since I grind my own pork, that added 15 minutes of additional time, but I prepped in the morning to cut down on dinner preparations. I made a few modifications to the original recipe. First, I am not a fan of light mayonnaise, it tastes off to me, so I used regular mayonnaise instead. Second, I was unable to find cremini mushrooms, so I substituted baby portabellas. Finally, I grilled my burgers on an indoor grill. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My whole family enjoyed this recipe. I used a high quality tenderloin for my ground meat, and the taste was absolutely delicious. I definitely won't be going back to cheaper cuts in the future. My husband's favorite part of the recipe was the hoisin/mayonnaise sauce, which added a sweet taste to the pork. This recipe is a great way to use pork in an interesting way and takes very little time to prepare.

For the recipe go to Family Circle Moo Shu Pork BurgersRegistration Required. 



Martha Stewart Living Zucchini Fritters

I try to incorporate a vegetable side dish with every dinner that I make for my household. Some vegetables are better received than others. My oldest loves cucumbers and will eat any dish that includes them, however, salads and other greens he turns his nose up at. Therefore, I have been trying to figure out ways that I can incorporate vegetables without my two children realizing what they are eating. Recently, an issue of Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for Zucchini Fritters, which looked like a great way to 'hide' vegetables for my family.

This recipe has 12 ingredients, including the salt, pepper and serving suggestions. The total time is approximately 25 minutes, all active. The ingredients are very basic, and I was easily able to find everything at my local grocery store. I did make one modification, instead of using store bought apricot jam, I substituted homemade raspberry jam, which I had canned last month. Additionally, I made larger fritter than those called for in the recipe, since I wanted to save time and not have to wait for 20 fritters to be prepared.

For whatever reason my batter turned out a lot thinner than I thought it should. The magazine picture has the fritters small and thick, but I found that the batter was way too thin to make small, dense fritters like the magazine. My fritters were much larger, but still tasted fine. I think if I made the recipe again I would only add one egg and see if that reduced the thinness of the batter. The homemade raspberry jam on top was delicious, and added greatly to the taste of the dish.

The recipe I used was from the August 2011 issue, I was unable to find the exact recipe on-line. However, a similar recipe (without the onion and oregano) is available here : Martha Stewart Living Zucchini Fritters.


Taste of Home Rosemary Cheddar Muffins

When I first started making homemade meals, I was great about making main dishes, but often forgot sides or vegetables. Now that I have been consistently making meals from scratch for years, I make an effort each week in my menu plan to include a main dish, vegetable and side. One popular side dish in my household is homemade bread. I make bread at least twice a week and it gets eaten very quickly. I have been trying to branch out my bread baking to include new types of starches and was intrigued by the August/September issue of Taste of Home magazine, which had a recipe for Rosemary Cheddar Muffins.

This recipe has only 5 ingredients and takes approximately 25 minutes to prepare. All the ingredients are basic and were easy to find at my local grocery store. I used fresh rosemary and whole milk, instead of the 2% in the recipe, since I already had it in my refrigerator. I followed the recipe as stated, with no modifications. One word about the muffin dough. It is not thin like a normal muffin batter, but instead resembles a biscuit texture. Due to this consistency, I hand patted the dough into patties and then placed them in the muffin cups, since the batter would not pour effectively.

These muffins turned out delicious. The recipe calls them muffins, but they taste and look more like a biscuit. My two boys especially liked this recipe and ate multiple servings. I liked that they took only a couple of minuted to prepare and made a great side to the meat dish I was preparing. This recipe is a great, light bread to accompany a main dish, or would also be great alone for a breakfast or a snack.

For the recipe go to Taste of Home Rosemary Cheddar Muffins.

August 22, 2011

Food Network Magazine Mango-Cucumber Salad

During the summer when fruit prices are inexpensive, I love using as many different types of fruit as I can incorporate into dishes. My two boys love any type of fruit and love going to the grocery store with me and picking out new types and familiar favorites. I have also been trying to introduce my family to more types of  grains, so I was excited when the July/August issue of the Food Network Magazine had a recipe for Mango-Cucumber Rice Salad.

This recipe has 13 ingredients and takes approximately an hour of total time. I had to make a few modifications to the ingredients, due to the fact I was unable to find some of them. I substituted a green jalapeno for the red jalapeno called for in the recipe. I also had made homemade roasted peanuts, but once again my two boys got to them before I was able to prepare the recipe, so they were not included. I followed the remainder of the recipe as stated.

My husband and I loved this recipe, my two boys weren't as big of fans. I liked the combination of the mango and the quinoa, which is very high in protein. This dish made a great side to the seafood dish I prepared with it, and the citrus taste from the lime balanced nicely with the fish. A great side dish for seafood and a good  way to introduce high protein whole grains.

For the recipe go to Food Network Magazine Mango-Cucumber Rice Salad.

Martha Stewart Living Pennoni with Grilled Eggplant, Mint, and Burrata

With one of my kids in school now, and my youngest wanting to be constantly with mommy, I have been struggling during the week to get quality meals on the table. One meal that my whole family can agree on is pasta. It doesn't matter how I prepare the pasta, my two boys will devour it. Since I make pasta about once a week, I try to vary up the recipes I use as frequently as possible. During the summer months I especially like incorporating fresh vegetables and was pleased when a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living had a recipe for Pennoni with Grilled Eggplant, Mint, and Burrata.

This recipe has 9 ingredients and takes approximately 30 minutes according to the recipe. There were a number of modifications that I had to make based on the availability of ingredients at my local stores. First, I substituted rigatoni for pennoni. The types of pasta available in my area are limited, so I bought what was available. I keep telling myself that I am going to pull out my pasta maker and start preparing more fresh pasta and so far I haven't been successful. I make just about everything else, so my next food adventure in the coming months is to actually start making pasta from scratch. Secondly, I substituted mozzarella for burrata, and left out the red Thai chili, since once again I was working with what was readily available locally. Finally, I changed the grilling method for the eggplant. I roasted the eggplant on my indoor grill, with the lid open. Since my eggplant was grilled indoors, I had to grill in batches which increased my cooking time by about 45 minutes. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

There was something off about the proportion of pasta to eggplant in this recipe. The taste of the eggplant was delicious, but there was just too much of it. I think the recipe would have benefited from the eggplant being reduced to 2 total, 5 was just too much. The taste of the pasta was delicious, but overpowered by the mass amount of eggplant. If I try this recipe again in the future I will reduce the number of eggplant, cut into pieces, drizzle with olive oil and oven roast. I think these recipe modifications would lead to a more balanced dish, with the same great flavor.

For the recipe go to Martha Stewart Living Pennoni with Grilled Eggplant, Mint, and Burrata.

Food Network Magazine Spicy Cereal Mix

With two high-energy boys, my family is constantly running from one activity to another, especially on the weekend. I try to cook as many things as I can from scratch, and avoid eating fast food more than once a month. However, with two boys, sometimes my attempts don't go as planned, so I try to keep a number of snacks on hand that I can easily throw into a container and take in the car. The July/August issue of Food Network Magazine had a recipe for Spicy Cereal Mix, which looked perfect for my on-the-go family.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. Like the granola bars I posted about yesterday, I ended up making this recipe twice. My first attempt wasn't very successful. The original recipe states to bake the mix at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. After cooking the mix for 35 minutes the cornflakes were mostly burnt and half of the rice cereal was beginning to blacken. So I decided to make the recipe again with modifications. First of all, I made my own pita chips, which are much easier and save a lot of money. I sliced whole wheat pita into triangles, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and placed in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Then I broke them into pieces and added to the rest of the cereal mix. Instead of baking at 350 degrees, I turned the oven down to 250 and baked for 20 minutes. I followed the remainder of the ingredients and recipe as stated.

My family liked the base sauce for this recipe, but we all felt that the cornflakes were out of place. I think the recipe could benefit from the cornflakes being replaced by corn cereal squares. Additionally, the temp on the original recipe is too high and the baking time too long. According to the magazine the original intent of this recipe is to make a 100-calorie snack, however, this is one recipe that would benefit from more olive oil being added. After my modifications this cereal mix was well received by my family and I intend to use the base sauce for future cereal mix recipes.

For the recipe go to Food Network Magazine Spicy Cereal Mix.


August 21, 2011

All You Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

Since my oldest started kindergarten last week, I've been working on finding after-school and breakfast snacks. Most days he comes home ravenous and wants to eat everything in site, so I've been searching for high protein snack options that will tide him over until I finish dinner. Most of the recipes that I have come across have been high in sugar, with little fiber or protein. I was pleased when the August issue of All You magazine had a recipe for Fruit and Nut Granola Bars, which had both fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. I actually ended up making the recipe twice. The first time I followed the recipe as stated and was disappointed by how dry the granola bars turned out. For the second attempt I modified the recipe. Instead of using a 1/3 cup of maple syrup, I substituted a 1/2 cup of honey. This allowed the granola bars to bind together better in the pan and made for an overall crunchier bar. Additionally, no one in my household really appreciates walnuts, so I substituted pecans. Finally, I ran out of dried apples in the second batch, so I used both golden and regular raisins instead.

My second attempt at these bars turned out really well. The substitution of the honey was delicious and helped the bars to bind together much more effectively. These granola bars would work well with a variety of dried fruits, such as cranberries or blueberries or even chocolate chips. This recipe is a great after-school snack, that would work well with a number of different ingredients.

For the recipe go to All You Fruit and Nut Granola Bars.


August 20, 2011

Rachel Ray Pasta with Minted Pattypan Squash

A couple of weeks back, I was fortunate enough to receive a large amount of garden squash from a friend. I came up with a number of recipes to use the zucchini and yellow summer squash, but two of the types of squash proved harder to find recipes. Before receiving the squash, I had never even seen pattypan squash, much less used it in recipes, so I scoured the internet looking for possible dishes. Most of the recipes looked to be unexciting or variations on squash bread recipes, which I had already made with yellow squash. Finally, I was able to find a Rachel Ray recipe for Pasta with Minted Pattypan Squash, which looked like a delicious way to use fresh garden squash.

This recipe has 10 ingredients, including salt and pepper. The total time is 20 minutes, with 15 active. I had to make a number of modifications to this recipe. First off, my squash was much larger than the squash used in her recipe. Rachel Ray quarters her squash, my squash was way to large to use in this manner, so I chopped mine, after peeling. The on-line recipe does not peel or seed the squash, but I think the texture would have been tough if the peel had been left on the larger squash, so I peeled and seeded mine, Additionally, the recipe sautes the onion, but leaves the garlic raw. I prefer sauteed garlic in pasta dishes, so I sauteed the garlic with the onion after the onion was almost browned. Finally, I used slightly less pasta water than the suggested 1/3 cup, probably closer to a 1/4 cup.

The taste of this pasta dish was delicious. The sweetness of the pattypan squash worked perfectly with the cheese and the pasta, creating a great tasting dish. I particularly liked how easy to put together this dish was, and that it used fresh vegetables. This recipe is a great way to use seasonal fresh vegetables and is easy enough for a quick weeknight meal.

For the recipe go to Rachel Ray Pasta with Minted Pattypan Squash .


August 19, 2011

Everyday Food Sweet-and-Sour Chicken with Green Beans

The area that my family lives has limited options for high quality restaurant food. There are a number of greasy chain restaurants, but high-quality ethnic food is lacking at best. My whole family loves Chinese food and I have started making dishes at home, instead of choosing between the two greasy buffets available in the college town we live in. I have found a number of pork stir-fry recipes that I love, but have been looking for more chicken options. I was intrigued when a recent issue of Everyday Food magazine had a recipe for Sweet-and-Sour Chicken with Green Beans.

This recipe has 13 ingredients and is very easy to put together. The total time is approximately 25 minutes. All of the vegetable prep is very easy, with minimal chopping required. I made a few modifications to the original recipe. I had made roasted peanuts to use for this dish, but my two-year-old got a hold of them, so I was forced to leave them out the finished product. Additionally, I was unable to find fresh green beans by the pound, so I bought a fresh refrigerated pack. I followed the rest of the recipe as stated.

My whole family enjoyed this recipe. It was very easy to put together and took little preparation time. I liked that the main protein is chicken; we eat a large amount of pork, so it's nice to have some stir-fried chicken recipes in the mix. This recipe is great for a weeknight meal or to introduce kids to a larger variety of tastes and foods.

For the recipe go to Everyday Food Sweet-and-Sour Chicken with Green Beans.

August 18, 2011

Bon Appetit Shrimp Po' Boy

As I've stated too many times to count, my oldest son is obsessed with seafood. Whenever I take him grocery shopping, he runs to the seafood counter and points out all the food that I need to make him for the week. His absolute favorite seafood item is shrimp. Meals that claim to feed 6 people, feed barely four when my five year old gets his hand on the shrimp portion of the dish. I make a lot of stir-fry dishes using shrimp, since they are delicious and low in fat. However, my entire family also loves homemade fried shrimp, so I am always on the look-out for new fried shrimp recipes. Recently, the June issue of Bon Appetit magazine had a recipe for Shrimp Po' Boys that looked easy and like something that my family would enjoy.

The longest part of this recipe is the deveining and shelling of the shrimp. I enlisted the help of my five year old with this task for the first time, and he did great. Of course, I used the knife to devein, but he was able to very successfully shell the shrimp with little help. It took us about 35 minutes to prepare the 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp, but without little kitchen helpers the task could be completed in a much shorter amount of time. This recipe has 13 ingredients, not counting the toppings. I had the majority of the spices already in my pantry cupboard and was able to get the remainder at my local grocery store, with one exception. I was unable to find any French rolls, so I had to substitute sub rolls. I know that this substitution changes the authenticity of the recipe, but as a home cook with two kids, I use what I have available. I used homemade dill pickle spears that I had made a couple of weeks back and left off the tomatoes because of my family's preference against raw tomatoes on sandwiches. Make sure to use plenty of oil to fry the shrimp or they won't crisp up effectively.

The shrimp in this recipe turned out delicious. The one change that I wish that I would have done, was to make the remoulade recipe available on Bon Appetit's website. Instead, I used mayonnaise and I felt that the dish would have been even better with a traditional remoulade. Overall, the recipe was delicious and I preferred the shrimp batter in this recipe to any of the others that I have tried. This was a very popular dish with my two kids, and would be a kid friendly way to introduce little ones to seafood.

For the recipe go to Bon Appetit Shrimp Po Boy.


August 16, 2011

Basic Homemade White Bread

In my last post on homemade strawberry jam I mentioned that I enjoyed it with homemade bread. I have discussed homemade bread relatively frequently in the last couple of months, but I haven't actually posted a recipe, so I figured it was about time. My family eats a decent amount of homemade bread a week, and this is the recipe that seems to work the best and pleases everyone in the household.
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups warmed milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 7 to 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Combine the water, yeast and teaspoon of sugar in a bowl, set aside for approximately 5 minutes. To the yeast mixture add milk, butter, remaining sugar, salt and 4 cups of the flour. Turn onto a floured surface and add enough additional flour to make a soft dough (it shouldn't be overly sticky or too tough).

Knead for approximately 8 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let stand for an hour. Grease two 9" by 5" inch loaf pans. Punch down dough and roll into a 12" by 7" rectangle. Roll up dough from short side, making sure to seal ends and pinch seams. Cover pans and let rise for an hour. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.

This recipe is one of the easiest I have tried. Even in my kitchen, where bread never wants to rise in the winter, this recipe turns out great. The best part is this bread is simple enough that someone who has never baked any type of bread, would be completely comfortable baking it. A great simple, homemade bread!


Adapted from Good Housekeeping Home for the Holidays page 98.


August 15, 2011

Homemade Strawberry Jam

In the last couple of months I have been making an effort to try to cook as many things from scratch as possible. My whole family does better when we stick to homemade foods, so to keep my family's budget down and for our health I have been making as many things as I can. This year I have had a number of very nice friends give me an abundance of garden veggies, so I have been canning up a storm. I now have a large shelf full of pickles, which makes my two sons very happy. Besides canned vegetables, canned homemade fruit is delicious and making and preserving  it can save a lot of money during the winter. One of my favorite canned fruit products is homemade strawberry jam, which is easy enough that a cook with minimal canning experience can be completely comfortable.

Making homemade strawberry jam is very easy to make. It only takes three ingredients, sugar, pectin and fresh strawberries. I use classic pectin because it has a great flavor and sets the jam quickly. I find the full sugar jam to be a little too sweet for my tastes, so I follow the reduced sugar directions. For every two half-pint jars you will need the following:
  • 1 1/3 cups prepared fruit (hull and crush the strawberries with a potato masher)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp classic pectin
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
In order to make homemade jam you need a water bath canner. I purchased a new one this year and it was less than 20 dollars. You will also need canning jars, rings and lids (don't re-use lids). I boil my jars for 10 minutes in boiling water since I don't have a dishwasher. Make sure to keep the jars warm while preparing the jam, or the jars will crack. Combine the fruit and pectin in a saucepan, I add a 1/4 tsp of butter to reduce foaming, but it isn't necessary and can be left out if preferred. Bring to a roiling boil, then add sugar and bring to a roiling boil once again and boil hard for one minute. I use a thermometer, once it reaches 220 degrees (if your at sea level) it's at the jelling point. If you don't have a candy thermometer you can also use a metal spoon, dip it into the boiling mixture. If the mixture is done two drops will hang off the edge, then run together in a sheet.  Skim foam if present and pour into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head-space. Wipe tops and place lids and bands on jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Make sure there is at least an inch of water covering the top of the jars. Remove jars from heat and let cool. After 24 hours check jars and make sure that they have sealed. Don't use any jam that the seal has not sealed. It can take as long as three weeks for the jam to fully set.

Homemade jam is a great way to enjoy fruit throughout the year and is much cheaper than store-bought. Leaning to can well only takes a little effort and its a great way to save money. If the water bath canning scares you there are also fresh jams, which is the same recipe except without the water-bath, they just go straight into the fridge and have to be used within 3 weeks. Water-bathed canned jam can last up to a year, so when strawberries go down to a dollar, I make a bunch at one time. One of my favorite things is homemade jam with fresh bread, a delicious combination!





August 14, 2011

Everyday Food Spiced Roasted Chicken

We eat a lot of chicken in our household, and when I say a lot I mean a lot. My two boys love any type of poultry and will eat all the leftovers of a dish if given the opportunity. I love chicken also, but I tend to get bored with the same roasted chicken recipes, so I try to frequently change my chicken recipes and menu plans. The May issue of Everyday Food magazine had a recipe for Spiced Roasted Chicken, which looked promising for a change from my family's normal roasted chicken routine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients and the prep work takes approximately 10 minutes, with 1 hour and 20 minutes of total cooking time (if using a 4 lb bird). All of the ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding them at my local grocery store. I did have to buy a 7 pound chicken, there were no smaller birds available. Due to the much larger size of my bird, than the 4 pound bird used in the recipe, I had to modify some aspects of the cooking. I started the recipe in a dutch oven as stated in the recipe, but the bird did not crisp up as much as I expected, so I switched to a roasting pan for the last hour of cooking time. Additionally, since I was using a much bigger bird, my total cooking time took an hour and a half longer. I followed everything else in the recipe as stated, with no modifications.

The chicken in this recipe turned out very moist. My two boys enjoyed the chicken immensely and I liked how tender the entire chicken was. The vegetables didn't turn out as well and we didn't eat them. They ended up softer than we prefer, but this probably had a lot to do with the increased cooking time due to bird size. This recipe creates a moist chicken, which if you use a bigger bird like I did, would make enough leftovers for multiple additional meals.

For the recipe go to Everyday Food Spice Roasted Chicken


Saveur Lane Cake

Every week I try to test out one dessert recipe from a cookbook or magazine that I haven't made previously. Instead of making the simple cookie recipes I always make, I have been attempting to broaden my baking horizons and try new techniques and baking methods. Recently, I have also been trying to include a larger variety of magazines in my reviews, instead of sticking to the two or three that I always read. With this in mind I set about to find a dessert to bake and was pleased with the prospect of the Lane Cake from Saveur magazine.

Since this is a layer cake, there are a number of ingredients. In total for the cake, filling, and icing there are 21 ingredients. All the ingredients are basic baking ingredients and were easily found at my local grocery store (with the exception of the bourbon which I purchased a the liquor store). This recipe takes some pre-planning since there is cooling time and the process of preparing all the components. In total the entire recipe took me approximately 3 hours. I should state that I haven't made a layer cake since last Christmas and my oldest son was helping me in the kitchen, hence why my layers aren't sliced perfectly. I made not modifications to the recipe and prepared everything as directed.

This cake has a very light texture similar to an angel food cake. I loved the bourbon filling and my whole family was surprised by how delicious the cake turned out. The recipe did take a decent amount of prep, but it was easy enough that my five year old was able to help me with the majority of it. Slice the pieces thin, since this is a very rich cake and can serve a crowd. This would be a great recipe to take to a gathering or for a dinner party, and makes an impressive presentation sliced.

For the recipe go to Saveur Lane Cake.



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