June 28, 2012

Favorite Crockpot Recipes

If you've read my blog for any given amount of time you know that I absolutely love my slow-cooker. While most people use their crock-pot in the fall and winter I use mine year round. It's great to pull-out in the summer when the temps reach over 100 degrees like they have around here this week. Since I make crock-pot meals so frequently I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly recipe wise. Some recipes look deceptively delicious in the magazine and fail to live up to expectations once they are prepared. Here is my list of my favorite crock-pot recipes from my previous posts:

Country-Style Barbecue Ribs

Curried Chicken Stew

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

Moroccan Ribs

Mustard Greens

Pinto Beans

There are so many crock-pot recipes that I love that this is only a small fraction of them. The last two recipes are my own. I make a lot of pinto beans and mustard greens, they are both delicious! Check back tomorrow for my favorite dessert recipes!

June 27, 2012

Favorite Taco Recipes

My family absolutely loves tacos and I normally make them at least once a month. I prefer homemade tacos, our restaurant options locally are relatively limited and honestly my cooking is much better and less stressful than watching a three and five-year-old while attempting to eat. These days my family only eats out approximately once every couple of months so I have become adept at cooking a variety of foods. So without further ado here are my favorite taco recipes from my blog posts:

Thai Chicken Tacos

Cumin and Ancho Chicken Tacos

Greek Tacos

Fish Tacos with Cabbage and Chile Pepper Slaw

That's my round-up! Tomorrow I plan to review my favorite burger recipes, another family favorite. Do you have a favorite taco recipe?

June 26, 2012

Favorite Bread Recipes

Every couple of months I enact my leftovers rule. For approximately two weeks my family eats all the leftovers from the freezer  and pantry cupboard. I try to make leftovers once a week, but they still accumulate in my freezer and I end up with various leftover ingredients in my cupboards. So this is week one of my two week leftover session, so I thought it would be a great time to do some favorite recipe round-ups. Today's topic is bread. I absolutely love to make bread and make it normally once or twice a week. I actually taught myself to bake bread, baking was never one of my mom's strong suits and I learned to bake from cookbooks. Now that I have been baking bread for a while I have become quite adept at knowing which ingredients need to be modified and which recipes will work. Here are my favorite bread recipes that I have reviewed for my blog. Enjoy!

Cilantro-Scallion Bread


Soda Bread Biscuits


Garlic-Olive Loaf


Lemon-Thyme Bread

There are my favorite bread recipes. Looking back through my blog I can't believe how far my blog has come the last year. I actually look like I might know what I'm doing now, maybe...
Do you have a favorite bread recipe?  

June 23, 2012

Peach-Bacon Baked Beans

I love fresh fruit, my husband on other hand has to be basically forced to eat fruit. My two kids are more like me, they will eat whole pints of blueberries within hours of them being purchased and always go for the fruit first on their lunch plates. Over the almost nine years that my husband and I have been married I have tried numerous times to encourage my husband to realize that fruit can indeed be delicious and is an important part of a healthy diet. All my attempts have been met with vehement and stubborn refusal. So I have learned to hide fruit in my husband's food. I know that sounds like what one would do with children, but my husband is as picky as my three-year-old and way more stubborn. Recently the July issue of Family Circle Magazine had a recipe for Peach-Bacon Baked Beans, which looked delicious and a perfect way to sneak fruit into my husband's meat based diet. 

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 15 minutes of prep and 3 hours in the crockpot and makes 8 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. Originally I had bought fresh peaches, but the peaches available at the super market so far this year haven't been great and they molded in less than a day. So instead I used frozen peaches in this recipe. I didn't actually have time to thaw the peaches, so I threw them in frozen and they worked just fine. Don't be alarmed if your frozen peaches turn a little brown when cooking, this is perfectly normal. The photo in the magazine is deceptive, I'm assuming they used fresh recently sliced peaches instead of fully cooked ones. I always use kosher salt when cooking. I prefer the flavor in everything, with the exception of baked goods. It really does work better than table salt. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I used ancho chili powder in this recipe so my beans had a little bit of a kick. I liked that the beans where on the spicy side and even my father-in-law who is sensitive to spicy foods really enjoyed his serving. My husband the non-fruit eating person that he is loved these beans. He liked that they were spicy and still sweet from the molasses and peaches. I wasn't sure if my two boys would eat this recipe, but they ate their whole servings plus leftovers the next day. Definitely a baked beans recipe that I will make again!

For the recipe go to Peach-Bacon Baked Beans.

June 21, 2012

Caramelized Onion Tart (Pissaladiere)

I absolutely love to bake. Not just to taste the foods that I make, but it is something that I find very relaxing. My oldest son seems to have inherited this love and is very interested every time I cook and bake. I highly encourage both of my boys to cook and bake with me, as I did with my mom. Some of my fondest memories involve spending time with my mother in the kitchen. She would tell stories, teach me how to prepare dishes and generally be great to spend time with. I have carried on the tradition with my two kids, I tell them family stories and make a fun time of all our baking and cooking adventures. Recently, my oldest son and I made the Caramelized Onion Tart featured in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes approximately 4 hours of prep and cook time and makes 12 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. I have a horrible time with my eyes watering when I slice and chop onions so before slicing the 12 onions for this recipe I placed them in the freezer for around 5 minutes. I do this every time I chop onions, it really helps my eyes not to water. Make sure to watch the onions occasionally during cooking time or they will burn. My onions ended up taking only a  total time of one hour to fully caramelize, not the hour and a half suggested by the recipe. I let my onions cook for a 1/2 hour covered and then 1/2 hour uncovered. Finally, my dough never rose all that high, nothing like a normal bread recipe. However, the taste was great, so I assume that was the way that it was supposed to be. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys weren't big fans of this recipe. It is definitely more for adult tastes, especially since it has caramelized onions and anchovies. However, both my husband and I really liked this recipe. The taste of the caramelized onions was delicious and it made a large number of servings. It was enough for a meal for my family of four plus leftovers for another lunch. This recipe is time consuming, but worth the time if you are a fan of caramelized onions.

For the recipe go to Caramelized Onion Tart.

June 19, 2012

Chicken Shawarma

My two kids and I love sandwiches. I make homemade bread weekly and every week my kids and I fight over sandwich ingredients. We all have a major peanut butter craving and I am not afraid to say that peanut butter is probably one of my favorite foods. I have tried giving it up over the years, but I always go back. My peanut butter obsession seems to go back to when I was little and we had very little money. We had to stand in the line at the church food line and the best part of the experience was the peanut butter. It came in huge jars and I loved it. I would literally eat it out of the jar with a spoon, sometimes actually squirting honey into the jar to combine and eat. Now that I'm older, while I still love peanut butter I have forced myself to branch out and try new sandwich combinations. One of my favorite sandwich fillings is grilled chicken, so I was very excited when I saw a recipe for Chicken Shawarma in the March/April issue of Eating Well magazine.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes a total of 45 minutes, all of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no ingredient modifications. I chose to use whole wheat pita bread, I try to use whole wheat whenever possible. I found a beautiful tomato at the farmer's market which worked perfectly for this recipe. Since I used an indoor grill my total grilling time was closer to 4 minutes per side. I weighed out my chicken breast to ensure proper amounts, I encourage anyone that doesn't have a food scale to buy one. They really are worth the money and can make a huge difference in recipes! Normally I would have used fresh lemon juice, but I completely forgot to buy lemons, so I used bottled instead. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My three-year-old loved these sandwiches. I wasn't sure if he would eat the sauce or turn up his nose, but he ate his whole serving. At first I thought that the chicken was too salty, but once the sauce was added to the sandwich the taste was perfect. The recipe states that it makes four servings, but my family eats a lot of meat so this dish made more like 3 servings. I would suggest doubling the recipe if you have a meat eating family like I do or if you want leftovers. Overall, a popular new sandwich recipe in my house.

For the recipe go to Chicken Shawarma.

Marble Slab Creamery and MaggieMoo's Ice Cream Giveaway

It has been very hot in the area that I live. I'm great about being cold in the winter, but the heat makes me want to stay inside with the air conditioning. My kids on the other hand love the heat! They would be content to spend all day outdoors and seem not to be bothered by the high humidity and temps. One thing that we can agree upon during the summer is ice cream. Everyone in my family loves it! If you are anything like us and are always up for ice cream, right now you could win a free small cone. Sounds great right? Here are the details:

"Marble Slab Creamery and MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream and Treatery are ready to kick off the official first day of Summer this Wednesday, June 20th by giving away 1,000 free small ice cream cones to the first 1,000 fans that download the Facebook coupon available at www.facebook.com/marbleslabcreamery and https://www.facebook.com/maggiemoos!

Beat the heat this week and celebrate the summer season with a free ice cream cone, but act fast, they go on sale Wednesday morning and its first come first serve and the offer is only able to be redeemed that day."

Good luck everyone, with this heat everyone could use some ice cream :) 

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post and as always all opinions expressed are my own. 

June 17, 2012

Corn Soup

I love this time of the year. The grocery stores and farmer's markets are full of fresh fruits and vegetables and there are so many delicious recipes to try using fresh ingredients. When I was little my mother had a yard full of beautiful tomatoes and our neighbor had wonderful raspberries that grew into our yard. I always loved summer since it meant fresh salads, soups and desserts. My two boys love fresh ingredients as much as I do. I have never met two kids that love going to the farmer's market and picking fruits and vegetables for recipes as much as they do. They have also become quite adept at naming all the things that they see and love to impress people with their knowledge. One of my favorite fresh vegetables to use in the summer is corn, and I was pleased to see a recipe for Corn Soup in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living.
This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes of total time, 30 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no ingredient modifications. I used the whole 2 cups of corn kernels, my family loves a lot of corn in their soup. I chose to leave off the sliced scallions as a garnish since I was serving this recipe to my kids. Additionally, I did not follow the final step and puree half the soup. My husband isn't a fan of pureed soups, so I kept all the kernels whole. Finally, make sure to not be afraid of adding salt. This soup needs a decent amount of salt to bring out the flavor. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I really liked the creamy taste of this soup. My husband normally doesn't like cream soups, but he thought the taste of this soup was pleasant. This made way more than the 4 servings suggested by the recipe. I'm not sure if I ended up making more stock than the recipe or what, but I ended up with enough leftovers for another meal for my family of four. This recipe is a great way to use fresh corn and very easy to prepare.

For the recipe go to Corn Soup.

June 16, 2012

Cumin and Ancho Chicken Tacos

There is one food that I can guarantee that my whole family will eat, tacos. Even when my two boys were very small and were just beginning table foods, they loved guacamole and pico de gallo. Now they devour tacos and will go through the fridge and make their own with leftovers. I agree with them, tacos are delicious for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I make them approximately once a month. My husband and I always disagree about our favorite taco fillings, he loves short ribs and fish tacos, I am a huge fan of grilled chicken, yum! My boys will eat any of them regardless as long as I make homemade guacamole. Recently, the June issue of Bon Appetit had a great article on tacos and the recipe for Cumin and Ancho Chicken Tacos caught my eye and looked perfect for my family.
This recipe has 5 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of prep and cooking (plus 2 hours of marinating) and makes 6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients, all the stores in my area now have ancho chili powder and one even has it in a generic, which is great. I have an indoor grill and I love using it in the summer when it's hot. It doesn't heat up my kitchen and I don't have to stand outside in the heat in front of our huge charcoal grill. Since I grilled my thighs on an indoor grill they did take longer to fully cook, probably closer to 10-12 minutes total. Instead of cubing the finished chicken I chopped it, I prefer my chicken to be a little smaller than large cubes. It would also be delicious thinly sliced. I served the tacos with Taqueria Guacamole and Pico de Gallo. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

These tacos were delicious! The recipe states that it makes 6 servings, but we had enough leftovers for two more meals. The chicken was full of flavor and were nice and juicy from using thighs. Even my three-year-old ate two whole tacos. Make sure to heat your tortillas in a skillet. I served the tacos with cheese, but my husband and I decided they were better without. Overall, a great new taco recipe!

For the recipe go to Cumin and Ancho Chicken Tacos.

June 15, 2012

Pesto Calabrese

This has been a long week, sorry for the lack of posts. I promise I will be back to regular blogging next week. So without further ado, pesto. Growing up there was one food that my mother absolutely adored, eggplant. My father and I however, we not fans in the least. I would literally groan with my mother would come in from the farmer's market with a big bag full of eggplant. She was a good sport and tried recipe after recipe to no avail. When I was in college I survived on coffee and pancakes (really I did, it was cheap for a whole box and I paid my own way through school). I didn't think about or eat eggplant for many years after moving out of my parents house. Then I met my husband and wouldn't you know he loved eggplant as much as my mother had. So what to do. Well, I decided that instead of fighting against the eggplant I would surrender. That didn't mean that I wouldn't find some great recipes to try and hope that maybe, just maybe eggplant could be redeemed. It turned out that as an adult I love eggplant, when cooked the right way. One of the ways that I have found that my whole family loves eggplant is in pasta, so I was quick to want to try the new Pesto Calabrese recipe in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 45 minutes to prep and cook and makes 1 1/2 cups of pesto. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no ingredient modifications. My onions took slightly longer than the 10 minutes suggested by the recipe. I really don't watch the clock when caramelizing onions, I just watch until they are adequately browned. After all the ingredients were combined I cooked them an additional couple of minutes to ensure all the flavor was released. Most important of all make sure to salt. This pesto requires a decent amount of salt in the finished dish, so don't be afraid of the salt shaker. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I like the idea of this dish. Eggplant is delicious in pasta dishes, but this pesto needs a few changes. I found the pesto to be to sweet with not enough flavor to compensate for the sweetness. I would suggest adding crushed red pepper flakes. This would give the pesto a much needed kick and the amount can be adjusted to suit your tastes. Alternatively chili oil might also work if you have it. With the addition of a little heat I think this pesto would be a great way to use eggplant.

For the recipe go to Pesto Calabrese.

June 12, 2012

Chile-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Salsa

I absolutely love grilled meat. Growing up my father could literally cook only two dishes, fried potatoes and boxed macaroni. However, he was great at grilling. He could make delicious chicken, ribs, steaks and my favorite corn. He was also very picky about the type of grill that he owned. We were a charcoal grill household and my father refused to even consider, much less use a gas grill. He also refused help or pretty much anyone to help him man the grill. My mom would prep the meat and veggies and then her job was done. When I grew up and got married I quickly learned that my husband had the same grill obsession as my father. My husband is a die hard charcoal grill fan and won't even hear about a gas grill coming anywhere near our house. In the summer we use both our outdoor grill and my indoor grill plate frequently so I was very interested when I noticed a recipe for Chile-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Salsa in the June issue of the Food Network Magazine.
This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. I did end up using packaged lime juice due to my lime going bad before I made this recipe. The recipe has the spice mixture made in a bowl and then the chicken turned to coat. I did things a little differently. Instead of a bowl I made the spice mixture and then rubbed it into the chicken and placed it in a plastic bag to marinade. Without rubbing the spice mixture into the chicken the rub wouldn't have fully coated the chicken. Finally, my chicken took much longer than the 4 to 6 minutes suggested by the recipe. I used my indoor grill plate and my chicken breasts were very large so my time was almost twice as long to fully cook. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.
This recipe worked very well the next day cut into strips and served in a tortilla with beans, cheese and salsa. I actually liked this method better than the recipe. The recipe needs a few tweeks. First, the salsa needs more lime and a jalapeno for more flavor. You could either seed the jalapeno or leave the seeds in for a spicier salsa. I would increase the lime to 2 tablespoons and make sure to add salt to taste. For the chicken I would suggest pounding it flat instead of butterflying. I had a horrible time getting my breasts to butterfly since they were half breasts and the thickness varied from side to side. Finally, make sure to get nice grill marks on the chicken to ensure that the spices are evenly distributed. With these changes I think this recipe could be great, especially when served with tortillas, yum!

For the recipe go to Chile-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Salsa.

June 9, 2012

Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta

My oldest son has become quite infatuated with gardening. It all started when the first flowers started appearing at stores in our area and he got the idea into his head that mommy needed to actually plant something this year. Now I always have the best intentions with my gardening, I have a garden bed and great pots for my porch. The first three years after I had my oldest son I always had a great garden and my flowers were always beautiful. Then I had my second son and all my gardening seemed to fly out the window. I grew up with a mother who seemed to be able to grow anything she touched. We had the most beautiful lilac trees that people would ask permission to pick from every year and her tomatoes were always juicy, big and delicious. I have somewhat inherited this green thumb. When I actually get around to planting my garden for the year, it always looks fabulous. Emphasis here is on actually planting the garden. So this year, I actually went out and bought soil, plants and with the help of my three and six-year-old I planted a very nice garden and flower pots are spilling over my porch. They do look very nice and my oldest son is so proud of himself. So much so that today when we drove to the farmer's market in Charleston my son came home with more flowers that he had personally picked out for the porch. In addition to all the gardening supplies we additionally brought home a great bunch of new vegetables, dried beans and spices that I am never able to find in my city. I love shopping at farmer's markets and my two kids have grown to love them also. Cauliflower is one of my kids favorite vegetables to buy and cook from the farmer's market and grocery store, so I was eager to try the recipe for Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta in the March issue of the Food Network Magazine.
This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and I made no ingredient modifications. I allowed my cauliflower to cook much longer than the four minutes suggested by the recipe in order to be sufficiently browned. Additionally, I allowed the pasta to cook with the dill mixture for approximately 5 minutes in order for the pasta water to fully absorb and the flavors to be enhanced. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.
I try to keep my reviews as realistic as possible and this recipe I am sad to say did not live up to expectations. The flavor was bland and the whole wheat pasta when combined with the parsley was way too gritty. So here are my suggestions to save this dish. First and foremost use regular pasta instead of whole wheat. The whole wheat pasta, while better for you does not work with the cauliflower and dill in this recipe. The combination of textures is way too gritty. Second, I would suggest roasting the entire head of cauliflower in the oven at approximately 400 degrees until well browned (about 20-30 minutes). Then chop the roasted cauliflower instead of grating and pan frying like the recipe. Finally, I would eliminate the parsley completely and add capers for flavor. I would also increase the amount of cheese to a 1/4 of a cup and double the amount of golden raisins. I think with these changes this recipe can be significantly better and has the potential to be a great dish.

For the recipe go to Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta.

June 8, 2012

Spaghetti with Clams

Growing up we went to the beach in Washington state every year for vacation. If you've never been to the coast in the NW it isn't like the beaches in other parts of the United States. The water is cold, rocky and you are likely to get hit by logs if you go too deep. Add in the jelly fish that I had the pleasure to step on more than once and the 60 degree temps in the middle of the summer and it's an adventure. Best of all my mother had a knack for finding in need of a little love motels to stay in. Granted this was the late 80's and early 90's so most of places to stay were a little on the funky side. However, I loved the whole thing! There was something very fun about 'roughing' it on the coast for weeks during the summer. My kids have never stayed in anything other than nice hotels with swimming pools and in a lot of ways it makes me sad. When there aren't televisions and modern day room service you learn all the fun things that make your family great. I remember my dad and I taking day long walks along the beach and my mom teaching me to play rummy. I never appreciated the experiences as much as I should have growing up, but since my mom passed away these are some of my favorite memories. One of my favorite parts of our vacations would be the days we would go into Ocean Shores and stop at the roadside stand that had the best fried clam strips. I adore clams and the beach always meant lots and lots of clams. One year my dad and I had the brilliant idea to go clamming. It went great until we found out we had unknowingly broke the law. There are firm laws on the amount of clams that you can catch, thanks dad! Luckily we weren't found out, but we had to have a large clam bake that year and ever since I have been the number one advocate for not over clamming. My two boys have acquired my love of seafood, especially clams. Since we live inland I am not a fan of preparing what is considered "fresh" (I use the term loosely) clams so I was intrigued when the May issue of Family Circle had a recipe for Spaghetti with Clams using canned clams.
This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 21 minutes of total time and makes 6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. For the bacon I used thick cut, my family loves thick cut bacon. Instead of 9 ounces of baby spinach, I used the full 11 ounce container that I bought. I always find that recipes need more than the amount of spinach called for so I thought this was a warranted change. The grocery store which I shopped out was out of minced clams so I substituted chopped clams instead. Finally, I let the pasta cook longer than the three minutes suggested by the recipe. I let the dish cook until all the liquid had reduced almost completely. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.
My kids loved this recipe. They ate their entire servings and then all the leftovers the next day. I loved the taste of the clams and bacon, it was a great combination. My only complaint was that there wasn't enough spinach for the amount of pasta. This seems to be the norm for many magazine recipes. I would have preferred if this recipe had about twice the amount of spinach. Also if I was serving this just for adults I would definitely increase the amount of crushed red pepper. As the recipe is written it has the right amount for kids, but needs more for adult tastes. Overall, a very easy pasta recipe that was very kid friendly.

For the recipe go to Spaghetti with Clams.

June 7, 2012

Pinto and Rice Burgers

When I turned 14 I decided I was a vegetarian. Having grown up in Seattle I was surrounded by vegetarians and vegans and I thought it was natural for me to become a vegetarian myself. My dad was a huge meat eater, but my mom was great about buying me ingredients to make my own meals. It was during these years that I learned to read and create cookbook recipes and modify ingredients to make dishes vegetarian. I stayed a vegetarian until I was in my mid-twenties. When I moved to West Virginia to attend graduate school I added meat back into my diet. Then I met my husband, who is obsessed with pork. My two boys have followed suit and definitely enjoy meat in their diets. While I do love meat, I also try to have at least 1-2 dinners a week that are vegetarian or vegan and our lunches 99 percent of the time contain no meat. With one of the highest levels of childhood obesity in my state I am determined to keep my kids from following this statistic. Veggie burgers are a household favorite so I was excited when the June issue of Everyday Food had a recipe for Pinto and Rice Burgers, which looked very easy and delicious.
This recipe has 10 ingredients, plus toppings. It takes 15 minutes of prep and cook time and makes 8 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. For the toppings I used cucumbers, avocado, mayo and mustard. I found that the burgers took much longer than the 3 minutes per side suggested by the recipe. I prefer that my veggies burgers have a nice brown crunchy exterior so I let my burgers cook approximately five minutes per side. The bunches of scallion available in my area are huge so instead of an entire bunch I used five large scallions in total. Finally I ended up with 6 burgers in total, my family prefers larger burgers so I made mine slightly larger than the recipe. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Everyone in my family loved this recipe! The burger was not dry as many other veggie burger recipes can be and the avocado topping was absolutely perfect. The cilantro added great flavor, without the burger tasting too much like cilantro. The beans, cilantro, scallions and beans blended together perfectly and the burgers browned very nicely in the olive oil. I was very impressed by this recipe and will definitely make it again in the future.

This recipe is currently not available online, but can be found in the June issue of Everyday Food Magazine. Here is a link to another Rice and Pinto Bean Burger recipe.

Quaker Soft Baked Bars

This post brought to you by Quaker Oats. All opinions are 100% mine.

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I always assumed that when my oldest started school that my mornings would be easier. I was definitely wrong! My mornings are always rushed with trying to get two boys out the door in time to get my oldest to the bus on time. I am great about making sure that my kids eat breakfast every morning, but I tend to put my own needs on the back burner.What I have discovered is that if I have something quick and wholesome first thing in the morning, it can make the whole rest of my day so much better! Quaker has now introduced their Quaker Soft Baked Bar, which is made with real fruits and nuts that are great for providing the fuel to get  through your morning.

The bars come in two flavors:

  • Banana Nut Bread

QSBB 3D Carton Banana.jpg (2 documents, 2 total pages)

  • Cinnamon Pecan Bread

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Love the flavors, I am a big fan of anything with cinnamon, yum! That would definitely be the flavor that I would try first. My two sons and husband are banana fans and I'm sure they would enjoy the banana nut flavor. I like the fact that these bars are family friendly and would be great for both me in the mornings and my kids for before school breakfasts.

These treats aren't just tasty, but they are a wholesome food that are packed with:
• 140 calories
• 5g of Fiber
• 6g of Protein
• Excellent source of 5 B-Vitamins

These new Quaker Soft Baked Bars would make a great breakfast snack for my whole family. I love that they are easy and take no preparation on a busy morning. The cinnamon pecan flavor is something I will look for next time I am buying quick breakfast foods!

Visit Sponsor's Site

June 6, 2012

Orecchiette with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes

Growing up my mom raised tomatoes. Every other vegetable she tried growing failed miserably, but her tomatoes were always beautiful. I absolutely loved the taste of the fresh cherry tomatoes right off the vine. When I moved out and started buying tomatoes from the grocery store I quickly discovered that not all tomatoes are created equal. The grocery store tomatoes were often mealy or lacking flavor. When I met my husband he would take any fresh tomato off of whatever sandwich or burger he was eating. He is not a fan of fresh tomatoes. Since he wasn't a fan I pretty much stopped using fresh tomatoes until I had kids. My kids love tomatoes! When I buy cherry or grape tomatoes for a recipe I literally have to hide them or my two boys will eat the whole container before I can make dinner. Luckily my husband has come around to eating fresh tomatoes when they are in season and we eat them regularly. Given my kids love of cherry tomatoes I was pleased when the November issue of Food and Wine magazine had a recipe for Orecchiette with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes.
This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. I allowed my tomatoes to cook until they were completely broken down since my husband isn't a fan of raw tomatoes. Additionally, I did not add the last tablespoon of olive oil when tossing the pasta. I found it unnecessary and the pasta already had sufficient olive oil in the tomato mixture. Honestly, I was in a hurry when making this dish and while I normally measure out exactly 2 ounces of cheese with my food scale when I made this recipe I just made an educated guess. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.
I love easy recipes in the summer when my time seems to be limited and this recipe is beyond easy. The prep is minimal and my oldest son was able to help me put everything together. Both my husband and I felt that there needed to be more sausage for the amount of pasta. I suggest using a full pound of sausage and you could honestly even increase the amount of tomatoes. It seemed that there was far more pasta than tomatoes or sausage. The actual taste of the recipe though was delicious and the leftovers re-heated very well for lunch the next day. The recipe states it makes 4 servings, but with a pound of pasta I would say that is closer to 8 servings (at least for my family). Overall a very easy pasta recipe with great flavor from the cherry tomatoes.

For the recipe go to Oreccheitte with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes.

June 4, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

My oldest son loves chicken. Don't get me wrong he devours bacon and can eat a far larger portion that I ever can, but most days his meat of choice is chicken. It has been this way as far back as I can remember. When he started table foods I would cut up whatever food we were eating into very small bites and serve it to him. Most foods he wanted nothing to do with, until he discovered chicken. I thought that he would never stop breastfeeding and start table foods and then chicken became center stage (he still breastfed until I was halfway through my pregnancy with my youngest, but that is another long story). To this day if I mention dinner will contain chicken he gets very excited. He is also at the stage where he is wanting to help me more and more in the kitchen. I welcome this curiosity and enthusiasm, it's a great way to teach math without him knowing. Currently, he is still too young to handle the raw meat, but he has become quite good at measuring out ingredients and peeling vegetables. This week my oldest and I made a recipe for Kung Pao Chicken from the September issue of All You magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 15 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of cook time and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no ingredient modifications. As always I made my own chicken stock. Additionally since I don't salt my stock I used regular soy sauce instead of reduced-sodium. I used a whole head of broccoli, which was slightly more than the four cups suggested by the recipe. For my serving I decided to leave off the chopped peanuts, but my husband served it this way and thought it was delicious. Finally I let my chicken and vegetables cook together closer to 10 minutes to ensure that my chicken thighs were fully cooked. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My husband was disappointed that this recipe didn't taste like Kung Pao chicken. Kung Pao chicken is one of his favorite dishes, so he was expecting something different from this dish. He still thought that this recipe had a great flavor, but was in no way traditional Kung Pao. My two boys on the other hand loved this recipe and ate all the leftovers. I would agree that it doesn't taste like traditional Kung Pao. To me it had a taste similar to garlic chicken, if the name of the recipe had been changed to garlic chicken it would have been more accurate. Regardless of the name it is a very easy and inexpensive chicken recipe.

For the recipe go to Kung Pao Chicken.

June 3, 2012

Moroccan Ribs

I have two very food adventurous children. They will normally at least try anything that I put in front of them. I have had a lot of people over the years tell me that I am lucky to have kids that are so open to new things. This is partially true. I am very happy that my kids will try almost anything, but a lot of groundwork was put into place for this to happen. First and foremost I don't keep snacks in my house. If you look into my cupboards you will find ingredients, not packaged snacks. My fridge is full of fruit, vegetables and low-fat diary. All this is part of my food plan with my kids. They will always at least try their dinner knowing that if they don't eat it mommy will not be catering to making another meal. Kids and adults eat the same meals in our house. I also don't force food in my house, if they don't eat their serving for dinner, it goes into the fridge for when they are hungry later. This doesn't mean that they don't get special treats occasionally. The emphasis is on the word 'treat'. This summer if my oldest finishes one of his workbooks, he gets gelato from the restaurant down the street.  `He knows that if he doesn't do something to earn it no gelato will be coming his way. All of this food foundation became apparent yesterday at the park. My oldest had befriended a little girl around his same age. He started talking about how much he loved all the stir-fry that his mommy made and that I was making Kung Pao Chicken for dinner. The little girl told my son that she had never eaten Chinese food and that they only ate 'American'. My son looked at the girl confused for a couple of minutes not understanding at all what she was talking about. I had to tell my son later that not everyone eats the large variety of food that we do, he told me that was 'weird'. Love the things that come out of kids mouths! Given that I attempt to expose my kids to new flavors and spices a recipe for Moroccan Ribs from the June issue of Family Circle caught my attention, and I decided to try it when I discovered it was prepared in the crockpot.
This recipe has 18 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of prep and 6 hours on high in the crockpot and makes 4 servings. I did have to make a few modifications to the ingredients. I have never had great success with finding cheesecloth in my area and I have never seen all-spice berries, so I changed the spices. Instead of whole allspice berries and whole cloves I substituted 1/4 tsp each of ground allspice and cloves. I added the spices to the chicken broth mixture before pouring over the chicken. I always make my own chicken broth and this recipe was no exception. Since I don't salt my stock I added an extra 1/2 of salt to the recipe ingredients. For the orange juice I squeezed fresh oranges. The prices during the summer are very low on oranges and fresh squeezed tastes significantly better in recipes. My ribs were falling off the bone when they came out of the slow-cooker, so don't let the magazine photo be deceiving, your ribs will not be nicely held together like that. Mine were more chunks of ribs, which actually worked very well with the vegetable/fruit medley when spooned over the rice. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys were very impressed with this recipe. They loved the taste of the apricots and prunes and didn't even notice that I served the dish with brown rice since I had run out of couscous. I have been trying to transition my family over to brown rice and significantly reduce the amount of white rice that we consume. So far it has been going well and this dish was perfect over brown rice. My husband liked this recipe much better than the crockpot bbq ribs I tried last week. He thought the flavors on this dish were delicious and that the ribs were fall off the bone tender. I liked that this recipe was different from your run of the mill crockpot rib recipe. It's nice trying a change of pace to my normal recipe routine. Overall, an interesting new spin on a crockpot rib recipe.

For the recipe go to Moroccan Ribs. (registration required)

June 2, 2012

Pasta with Cilantro-Peanut Pesto

This has been a very long day! My husband and I took my two sons to the park twice today. The first time my youngest decided to eat sand, bad idea, this evening the sand, um, came back up. Not so great. I also had a not so pleasant experience at my local super store (you can guess which one). My cashier literally walked away while I was talking to her, nice customer service. This evening my wrath seems to be aimed at social media. I love how my Facebook posts used to be seen by five times as many people as they are now. I really don't know if posting to facebook is worth it any more since they switched to wanting me to pay to have people see my posts. What does all this have to do with food? I cook and bake when I'm stressed. That has been the way I have dealt with stress as far back as I can remember. When I had finals in college everyone at my job was always excited, it meant dozens of fancy cookies would be coming with me to work the next day. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer I made 5 batches of cookies in one night. I made a huge cake when I defended my thesis during grad school (followed up by a big batch of biscuits and gravy). All-in-all cooking and stress seem to go hand-in-hand for me. These last couple of weeks have been stressful thanks to a major change in schedule with my oldest being out of school for the summer. I would love to say my two sons have adjusted beautifully; I can say that I have baked a lot in the last week :) Thanks to all this household stress I have been preparing a number of comfort food recipes. One of my favorite comfort foods is pasta, so a recipe for Pasta with Cilantro-Peanut Pesto in the June issue of Everyday Food caught my eye.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery and made no ingredient modifications. I added the full 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and instead of low-sodium I used regular. I prefer using regular soy sauce and not adding additional salt in recipes. Finally, I added the pesto to one pound of spaghetti and there was still leftover pesto. This recipe makes more pesto than the four servings suggested by the recipe I would say closer to 6-8 servings. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love pesto and I was impressed with this recipe. I like that instead of the traditional basil, this pesto uses cilantro. Additionally, the soy sauce creates a great umami flavor not normally tasted in traditional pesto. The cilantro brought out a great fresh taste to the recipe and worked very well with the soy sauce. I found that this made a lot of pesto and I used an entire pound of pasta. Instead of stirring together all the pesto and pasta, I served the pesto on the plate so that my family could add the desired amount to their serving. Overall, a great pesto recipe with delicious flavor.

This recipe is currently unavailable online, but can be found in the June issue of Everyday Food Magazine. Here is another recipe for Cilantro-Peanut Pesto and one that uses rice wine vinegar here. I haven't tried these two, but I love hearing if anyone has or if they know of another great pesto recipe, feel free to share!
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