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September 30, 2012

Slowcooker Asian Beef and Broccoli


I think there seems to be a theme to my blog lately. As you may have noticed I love my crockpot and I use it a ton. While some people may use theirs once every month or two, I normally use mine once or twice a week. It's especially a great tool when I have no time or things in my life have been stressful. With two growing boys that seems to be a frequent occurrence. One food item that I struggle with my boys to eat is meat. Some weeks they love chicken, the next week pork. As you can imagine it can be mildly irritating. The crockpot has been a great tool to encourage my children to try new meat dishes without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Recently I tried a new recipe for Asian Beef and Broccoli from the September issue of Parents magazine, which with only 20 minutes of active time looked perfect for a weeknight meal.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 6 1/2 hours of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. One major change that I made to the recipe was to the sear the beef before adding it to the crockpot. I always brown meat before adding it to the crockpot, it helps to retain the moisture while the meat cooks. Additionally, my two boys broke my fine-mesh sieve so I skipped that step and added all juice from the slowcooker to the pan. If you aren't a fan of  frozen broccoli, fresh broccoli would work just as well. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys loved the orange flavor in this recipe. I liked that each serving offers 44 grams of protein and was very child friendly. If you aren't a fan of store bought marmalade, home-made jam would work just as well. I have stopped serving white rice and this recipe worked great over brown rice. I think if I made it again I would use fresh broccoli, it would keep the broccoli crisper, which my family prefers.

For the recipe go to Asian Beef and Broccoli.

September 29, 2012

Lamb, Potato and Leek Stew


This is my favorite time of the year. The weather gets cooler, the leaves start to turn beautiful colors and stews and chili start filling my kitchen with delicious smells. I love stew. There is something so comforting and warming about a great stew. It can transform a bad day into something bearable. I use my crockpot extensively during the cooler months, but there are some stews which just taste and smell better when done on the stove. There are few things better than the smell of stew on the stove. It's very warm and inviting. My favorite meat to make stew with is lamb. When cooked correctly, lamb is a great meat in a variety of recipes. Recently I tried a new recipe for Lamb, Potato and Leek Stew from Everyday Food, which looked easy and perfect for the cooler weather to come.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes a total of 1 1/2 hours, 15 minutes of which is prep and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no ingredient modifications. I chose not to top the stew with parsley. The parsley at my local store was mediocre, and my kids pretty much hate it, so I chose to leave it out. Make sure to adequately salt the stew. Without adequate salting the stew will lack flavor and be bland. After salting the flavor was perfect. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love stew made with lamb and this recipe was great comfort food. The lamb was tender without being over cooked. If your looking for a stew with a variety of spices, this isn't the recipe your looking for. The flavor of the stew comes from the lamb, which is delicious if cooked correctly, After salting this stew was perfect comfort food and even my two boys enjoyed it.

For the recipe go to Lamb, Potato and Leek Stew.

September 27, 2012

Slowcooker Pumpkin Harvest Beef Stew


Everyone knows how much I love my crockpot. If there is one kitchen appliance that I don't think that I could live without that would be the one. I love it and it makes my life so much easier, especially with two very active boys. While some people use their crockpot only in the colder months, I love mine year round. It's just as great to not heat up my kitchen in the humid and horribly hot summer months as it is to have a great meal of chili or stew waiting in the slowcooker at dinner time in the winter. Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love that the weather cools down, without being too hot or too cold. One of my favorite things about fall is the food. I absolutely love pumpkins and winter squash. They are delicious in so many recipes and dishes. Last week I tried a new recipe for Pumpkin Harvest Beef Stew from the October/November issue of Taste of Home magazine, which looked full of fall flavors and a perfect crockpot recipe.

This recipe has 17 ingredients. It takes 25 minutes of prep and 6 1/2 hours of cook time and makes 6 servings. I chose to use sweet potatoes instead of the pumpkin. I didn't want to take the extra step of peeling and cutting the pumpkin. I find sweet potatoes easier to deal with and make the substitution frequently. I chose to leave out the beef granules. The all natural beef broth that I chose to use is naturally lower in sodium and I preferred to salt at the table instead of adding the beef granules. Finally, instead of using flour I substituted cornstarch since it is gluten free. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love beef stew and making it in the crockpot is a great way to save time. It also works well on lower quality cuts of meat. This recipe does a great job of combining beef stew and fall flavors. My oldest son really loved this dish. He is a big fan of beef stew and ate all of the beef out of his serving. I like that this recipe uses multiple types of fall squash. Overall, a great fall crockpot recipe.

For the recipe go to Pumpkin Harvest Beef Stew.

September 26, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Cookies


 If you've been reading my blog recently you may have noticed that I have given up eating gluten. I was having horrible stomach problems and with a family history of gluten intolerance it was the most likely culprit. So I stopped eating gluten and within a week felt much, much better. The only problem is that I love baked goods. The thought of giving up baked goods troubled me more than just a slight amount. So I decided to try my hand at making gluten-free baked goods. I tried a few recipes that turned out less than great. They either did not rise or the taste felt like it was missing something. So I kept looking and trying. Finally, I found some recipes that worked great and tasted just as good as their gluten counterparts. Last week I tried a new recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Cookies from Food and Wine magazine, which with four ingredients looked very easy and great for gluten-free snacks.

This recipe has 4 ingredients. It takes 1 hour of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 12 cookies. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. If you are gluten-free like I am make sure to check your labels on both the granola and peanut butter to ensure that they are in fact gluten-free. These cookies were done in exactly 15 minutes, so be careful to not let them burn. I rotated the baking sheet halfway through the time to ensure even cooking. These cookies are very crumbly when they are first taken out of the oven. Do not move them off the baking sheet until they have cooled slightly or they will fall apart. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love how easy these cookies are to make. With only 4 ingredients they go together very easily and only take minutes to prepare. My kids absolutely loved these and I ended up having to make another batch since they were gone so quickly. Using peanut butter makes the cookies easy to make and have a delicious flavor. Great for an after school snack!

For the recipe go to Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Cookies.

September 25, 2012

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Leeks


My oldest son is in a food stage. He has decided that he no longer will eat cheese and his favorite food is chicken. If I serve any type of chicken he will gladly eat his food. Anything else can be hit or miss. Some days he loves pork, other days he can't stand it. Luckily his younger brother will pretty much eat anything that is given to him. He eats a ton as well. I made a loaf of banana bread last night and he has already eaten the whole loaf. Since one of my kids eat everything in sight and the other one only eats chicken I have been making a ton of chicken recipes. My husband and I also love chicken, so it has been working out relatively well. Recently, I tried a recipe for Pan-Roasted Chicken with Leeks from the September issue of the Food Network Magazine, which looked perfect for my two boys.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time, 25 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. Instead of making flour I used cornstarch since it is gluten-free. I found that it took longer than the recipe suggested for the sauce to reduce. I would estimate an additional 2-3 minutes. Make sure to squeeze the lemon over the finished dish, it really does make a difference to the finished flavor. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Of course my oldest son loved this recipe since it had chicken. He ate his whole serving and then raided the fridge for leftovers. My youngest son loved that he could hold the chicken while eating it, which he thought was hilarious. The flavor was light and complimented the roasted chicken well. The chicken itself was plain, but the sauce was delicious.

For the recipe go to Pan-Roasted Chicken with Leeks.

September 24, 2012

Honey-Glazed Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes



So you may have noticed that my family loves pork. My husband would be happy eating pork products with every meal and thinks that adding bacon to any dish makes it 10 times better. I love bacon as much as the next person, but my husband takes it to a whole new level. My dad had the same trait. Every Sunday morning growing-up my dad would make breakfast. It was the same every week, fried potatoes and bacon. He was very exact about the correct way that potatoes should be prepared and the bacon had to be just right. While I love bacon, my favorite type of pork is pork chops. I love pork chops. Not the thin cut variety, but thick bone-in pork chops. When the fat gets nice and crispy on the bone, I love it. Last week I tried a new recipe for Honey-Glazed Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes from the October issue of the Food Network Magazine, which looked like the perfect meal for my pork loving family.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no ingredient modifications. Make sure to chose thick center-cut pork chops or they will dry out during baking. The pork chops that I bought where much larger than the 1 3/4 pound total for 4 chops, I like very thick pork chops. Due to the increased size of my pork chops my total cooking time was slightly longer. For the cajun seasoning I used Tony's. This is the same Cajun seasoning I always use in recipes, it tastes delicious and provides a great amount of flavor. My sweet potatoes took longer than the 20 minutes suggested by the recipe. The sweet potatoes that I bought were on the large side and took closer to 30 minutes total to cook. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I made these for my in-laws when they came to visit. The pork chops came out perfectly cooked and the mashed sweet potatoes were very popular with my two boys. I love center-cut pork chops and this recipe was perfect. I would definitely make this recipe again.

For the recipe go to Honey-Glazed Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

September 23, 2012

Moroccan Snack Mix


I snack all the time. I have never been one of those people that can eat three meals a day and feel full. Instead I eat small meals throughout the day. Part of this need to eat all the time goes hand-in-hand with my inability to sit still. My kids help this problem by creating messes as soon as I clean them up. They seem to have an ability to see me sit down and have a disaster that needs mommy's attention. Since I have given up gluten I have tried to find new high protein snacks to keep me full. One of my favorite snacks is nuts. They are delicious and great at keeping me full during my busy days. Last week I tried a new recipe for Moroccan Snack Mix from the September issue of Family Circle magazine, which with 6 grams of protein looked perfect for daytime snacks.

This recipe has 15 ingredients. It takes 10 minutes of prep and 1 hour and 5 minutes of baking time and makes 20 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no ingredient modifications. Make sure to fully dry the chickpeas before baking. If the chickpeas aren't dried adequately they won't become crispy. Instead they will be slightly soggy and not have a roasted texture. Additionally, the mixture needs to be stirred every 15 minutes to ensure even browning. I didn't let the mixture cool before adding the apricots and dates. I wanted the spices to incorporate with the fruit and adding them when still hot I figured would help with this process. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

With 6 grams of protein this snack mix is a great option for daytime snacking. However, my husband thought that the nuts weren't spicy enough and my two boys weren't fans of the mixture in general. The chickpeas weren't as crunchy as I would have liked. If I made this recipe again, I would let the chickpeas dry longer than the recipe states. Additionally, I would add chili powder in order to up the spiciness and add more flavor. With these changes I think this mix would be even better.

For the recipe go to Moroccan Snack Mix.

September 22, 2012

Chipotle-Orange Broccoli and Tofu


My father was a huge meat eater growing-up. If there wasn't meat at every meal, he would make it known by complaining endlessly. It was never obvious complaining. He would ask my mother if part of the meal was missing or if the tofu was a starter course and the main meat part of the meal was coming later. This was the same father that ate 5 bologna sandwiches for lunch when my parents first met and was skinny as a rail. My favorite thing was going to a buffet with a salad bar with my parents. I would always get a large salad with maybe a little amount of bacon bits and some nuts. My father on the other hand would put no greens and all the real bacon that he could find. To this day he never goes to the doctor and health wise is in better shape that anyone else that I know. I hope that I inherited those genes, because the man never ceases to amaze me. Due to my dad's obsession with meat, I of course went the opposite extreme and decided to become a vegetarian in the beginning of high-school. It drove my dad slightly nuts. He would always ask me if I could have a little bit of meat and still be a vegetarian. To him small amounts of meat wouldn't really count as being a meat eater. Tofu was a battle I tried very hard to win my dad over to the side of eating. It never really worked. He would eat it when we ordered Phad Thai, as long as there was another dish with meat. Luckily I married a man that is willing to at least eat one dinner a week that is vegetarian. Granted he starts to get a little grumpy when he goes more than two days without meat, but he at least puts forth some effort. Last week I tried a new recipe for Chipotle-Orange Broccoli and Tofu from the September/October issue of Eating Well magazine, which looked like a quick and healthy weeknight meal option.

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 I made no ingredient modifications. However, I did change a few of the recipe steps. I let the tofu drain between layers of paper towels and a weighted plate for approximately 30 minutes. This step allows most of the water to drain out and ensures that the tofu will get a nice brown outside layer. Additionally, I ended up adding cornstarch to the orange juice mixture in order to thicken the sauce. Without the cornstarch, the orange juice sauce was too thin for my tastes. Make sure to allow the tofu to form a nice brown layer before turning it. This step will make the tofu evenly browned and have a better texture. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I was unsure if this recipe would taste decent after I was halfway through the steps. The orange juice mixture was too thin and it didn't seem like there would be enough ingredients to have much flavor. However, after adding the cornstarch to thicken and the addition of the cilantro (and lots of salt, you really do need to add salt for this dish to taste adequate) this recipe was very delicious. My two boys thought it was a tad on the spicy side, so if you are making this for kids I would suggest seeding the chipotle pepper. Overall, a healthy vegan meal that is a great way to add more meatless meals into your diet.

For the recipe go to Chipotle Orange Broccoli and Tofu.

September 20, 2012

Slowcooker Mediterranean Chicken


Tomorrow is report card day for my oldest son. He's fine, I'm of course nervous. I know that I shouldn't view reports cards as a reflection of myself, but of course I do. It's as if I am being graded, not him. I know that he is doing great and everything will be fine, but there is something about seeing it in writing that validates all the hours of homework and work books. My plan for tomorrow is to bake gluten free cookies and banana bread. I love to bake and cook and it is one of the best stress relievers that I know. I can literally calm myself down from anything that's bothering me by spending time in the kitchen. The last couple of months have been very busy and as any frequent readers know these are the times that I turn to my crockpot. I love my crockpot and it has saved me so many times. Last week I tried a new recipe for Mediterranean Chicken from the September issue of Parents magazine, which with 40 grams of protein looked perfect for a weeknight meal.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes a total of 7 1/2 hours, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and I made no ingredient modifications. Makes sure to squeeze the lemon over the finished chicken, if you don't do this step the dish will not taste complete. To serve this dish I placed the vegetables on the plate and topped with the chicken. This looked great on the plate and allowed the flavors to be eaten as one bite. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I was very surprised by how great this recipe looked and tasted. Crockpot recipes are often reduced to stews and soups, without a lot of variety. This recipe tasted liked it could have come out of a dutch oven that had been cooking in the oven for hours. The taste is on the mild side, don't expect this recipe to be bold. It tastes like a dish that would come out of a grandmother's kitchen. The meat was perfect and the vegetables were very popular with my two sons. This is a recipe that I would definitely make again.

For the recipe go to Mediterranean Chicken.

September 18, 2012

Slow Cooker Brisket BBQ Chili


This has been a long day. My youngest woke-up at 4 am this morning with a cough and insisted on mommy getting up so he could play in the living room. Of course an hour later he was sound asleep while I was drinking coffee since I knew there would be no way that I could go back to bed. These are the type of days that I absolutely love my slowcooker. There is nothing better than throwing together a recipe in the morning in a few quick steps and having a great meal ready in the evening. When I first started learning to cook in my crockpot I was the queen of mistakes. I filled it too full, I never seared the meat, and I either added too much or too little liquid. Now that my husband and I have been married for almost ten years I have learned that my crockpot can be a great time saver. It can also make horrible cuts of meat into delicious meals. The trick with the slowcooker is to find a great recipe and cook it for a long time at a low heat. Last week I tried a new recipe for Slow Cooker Brisket BBQ Chili from the September issue of Family Circle magazine, which promised 15 minutes of prep and 33 grams of protein per serving.

This recipe has 16 ingredients. It takes 15 minutes of prep and 10 1/2 hours of slowcooking and makes 8 servings. Instead of using a beef brisket, which can be very expensive I substituted a chuck roast. The chuck roast was half the price of the beef brisket. I no longer serve white rice, so I chose to serve this recipe over brown rice. I forgot to actually buy limes, so I did not serve the finished recipe with lime wedges. The recipe doesn't state to sear the chuck roast before adding it to the crockpot. However, I always sear my meat since it in keeps the moisture and flavor.I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I really like that this recipe has so many beans. The beans make a great addition to the beef and the flavor blend well together. This recipe does take longer than a lot of slowcooker recipes, but the results really are delicious. The long amount of time really is worth the effort. Overall, a great crockpot recipe that would be delicious in the cooler weather coming soon.

For the recipe go to Slow Cooker Brisket BBQ Chili.

September 16, 2012

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry


This was a nice weekend. My family and I spent the Saturday morning at Chili Fest and then went over to our local small farmer's market and I bought a half gallon of grass-fed organic milk that my kids absolutely love. I love relaxing weekends in the last summer/early fall. If I was to pick my favorite time of the year it would without a doubt be fall. The temps are cooler and there are tons of local events that my family and I love going to. This is also the season when I begin to change my menu plans around. Out go the salads and burgers from the summer and in come the soups, stews and chili. One of my favorite dishes that I make frequently in the warmer months is stir-fry. My two boys love stir-fry and enjoy helping me prep all the vegetables. Last week I tried a new recipe for Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry from Everyday Food, which promised 30 minutes of total time and to be inexpensive on my food budget.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did end up having to go to two separate stores to find all the ingredients. Luckily the grocery store in the suburbs has a large ethnic foods section and they had the sambal pelek so I didn't have to make any ingredient substitution. I did chose to serve the dish over brown rice. I have stopped using white rice and my boys actually have learned to love brown rice, so as I always do I substituted. Additionally, I used honey instead of light-brown sugar. Most importantly I am never able to find turkey thighs in my area, so I substituted turkey breast cutlets. My turkey took longer than the recipe suggested to fully cook, in total I would approximate it took 15 minutes. This might have been due to the fact that I cut my turkey a little thicker than the recipe probably would suggest. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I was worried that this dish might be a little too spicy for my two boys, but they loved it. I really liked the chili sauce. Previously I had never tried that particular type of chili sauce and both my husband and I really enjoyed it. Of course my family loves any dish with bacon and it was interesting making a stir-fry in which it was a main ingredient. I love that this recipe goes together quickly and the prep work is very easy. Overall a quick and inexpensive weekday dinner option.

For the recipe go to Spicy Turkey Thighs with Bacon Stir-Fry.

September 15, 2012

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce


I have a small obsession with peanut butter. Since this would be my second post in which I have disclosed this information you can be pretty sure that I am serious. I love it. Growing-up I was always the very skinny kid that loved to dance and swim and that everyone was determined that didn't eat. They were very wrong on the not eating. I ate, and ate, and ate some more. One of my favorite snacks was to mix peanut butter and brown sugar, and eat it from a bowl. I still have the bad habit of eating peanut butter straight from the jar, which drives my husband nuts. We have separate peanut butter jars so that I don't contaminate his portion. Since I love peanut butter so much it is one of my favorite ingredients to use in recipes. It is very versatile and is great in both main dishes and desserts. Last week I tried a new recipe for Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce from All You magazine, which looked very easy and perfect for my peanut butter obsession.

This recipe has 8 ingredients in the chicken and 8 in the sauce. It takes 15 minutes of prep, 3 hours of chilling time and 10 minutes of cooking and makes 8 servings. I had to go to multiple stores to find fish sauce, but that is normal in my area for any ethnic food items. I had no problems finding any of the other ingredients and I made no ingredient modifications. As I always do I used my indoor grill to make this recipe. My indoor grill takes longer than a regular outdoor gas or charcoal grill, so my total time was closer to 18 minutes to fully cook the chicken skewers. Instead of a plastic bag for chilling the chicken in the marinade, I chose to use a square plastic container. For me it was easier to fully coat the chicken with this method. In addition to eliminating gluten I have stopped using white sugar, so I left the sugar out of this recipe. It would taste just as good with the sugar or you could use brown rice syrup or honey instead. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two kids loved this recipe. We ate all 8 servings in one night, most of which was eaten by my two sons. I loved the peanut sauce and it was the perfect accompaniment to the chicken satay. The only downside to this recipe was putting all the chicken on the skewers. I must have two left hands or something due to how hard it was for me to skewer the chicken. After a while of doing it though I finally got the hang of the process. Overall, this was a delicious and easy recipe that I would definitely make again in the future.

For the recipe go to Chicken Satay.

September 14, 2012

Gluten Free Carrot and Walnut Muffins

I have a small weakness for muffins. I love just about any type of muffin and bake them frequently. There is something so comforting about sitting down with a great cup of coffee and a delicious fresh baked muffin. Growing-up my mother baked great muffins and cookies. I would wake-up to the smell of fresh baked goods, it was a great way to start the day. I have followed on this tradition with my two boys and bake with them at least once a week. Recently, after struggling with migraines and stomach issues I gave up gluten. It has had a tremendous effect on my health and I feel so much better than I did when I was eating wheat. I have been experimenting with various recipes, some of which have turned out great, while others not so much. Last week I tried a new recipe for Gluten Free Carrot and Walnut Muffins, which was delicious and very popular in my house. Here is modified recipe:
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour or brown rice flour (I have tried it both ways and they turn out great either way)
  • 3/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup mashed banana (about 1)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I normally use non-fat Greek yogurt)
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil (I have left this out and the taste is still great. It would also work with coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. 
In separate bowls combine wet and dry ingredients. Combine the two mixtures and then fold in carrots, dates, and walnuts. Fill muffins cups 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

If you have gluten intolerance make sure to buy oat bran and quinoa flour that is gluten free. There are many types of oat bran that while they don't contain actual wheat, they are processed in facilities that also process wheat and are therefore not gluten free.


These muffins are really delicious. I have experimented a lot with this recipe and used both brown rice flour and quinoa flour and they have worked well. My two boys love these muffins and haven't noticed that they don't have wheat flour. This is definitely a recipe that I will keep making.

Recipe adapted from Bob's Red Mill package.

September 10, 2012

Sticky Orange-Glazed Chicken Thighs


This has been a long past couple of weeks. I have been horrible about keeping up with my blog and as some of you may have noticed I haven't posted in the last couple of days. My two boys are at each others throats constantly and my attempts to stop eating sweets has been driving me slightly crazy. My sweet tooth seems to always be on overdrive, which has me irritable and cranky. Luckily the longer I have been reducing my sugar intake the better I feel and the easier it has been. So I hope by next week I will feel a lot better. My motivation for making dinner has also been non-existent, so I have been trying to find quick and easy meal solutions. Last week I tried a new recipe for Sticky Orange-Glazed Chicken Thighs from Everyday Food, which looked very simple and full of orange flavor.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes an hour of total time and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. The broiler on my oven has been broken for years, so I made a major modification to the recipe. I used the broiler on my toaster oven and broiled the chicken in batches. I brushed the sauce on both sides of the chicken before broiling and served the sauce on the side at the table. Without the sauce the chicken is just run-of-the-mill roasted chicken, the sauce is the real star. I made sure to highlight it on the plate and when serving. Turning the chicken half way through the baking time really does help keep the chicken crispy. I would suggest placing the chicken top side down and then flipping halfway through. This way the top will stay crispy at the end. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My family loves anything with orange and this recipe was no exception. The chicken was sticky and perfectly roasted. Serving the sauce on the side was perfect since the sauce was so delicious. My two boys were the most impressed with this chicken. They loved the sauce and ate two pieces of chicken all by themselves. The sauce would also be delicious on pork or turkey. It really is versatile. I would definitely make this recipe again.

For the recipe go to Sticky Orange-Glazed Chicken Thighs.

September 7, 2012

Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salad


My family loves pork. I'm pretty sure my husband could be a perfect vegetarian, as long as he could eat pork. I think that he needs to invent a term for this, maybe porcinatarian. He would be a perfect poster child for this movement. Given my family's love of everything pork related I have learned to make a large number of pork recipes. Some have turned out great, like any type of pork taco, others such as a curried pork tenderloin recipe I tried last year where pretty horrible. Bacon is always a popular option. If I mention a dish includes bacon my family will come running to the table. There is one other food that my two boys in particular absolutely love, sweet peppers. My oldest has been known to eat an entire red pepper like an apples, he loves them. Recently, as I was looking through the May issue of Woman's Day magazine I came across a recipe for Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salad, which looked delicious and low in fat.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes a total of 30 minutes, 25 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of these ingredients and I made no ingredient modifications. I did run out of ancho chili powder, so I used a combination of ancho and chipotle chili powder. Since I was making this recipe for my children, I made two different salsas. In one I used jalapeno and in the other I did not. I do this with a lot of recipes, make a slight modification for the part of the servings for my kids. That way we are still all eating the same dish, just with a milder version for the younger tastebuds. My tenderloin took exactly 18 minutes to cook and then 5 minutes of rest. I let my salsa sit in the fridge for an hour. I would definitely recommend letting the salsa sit in the fridge and chill, it enhances the flavor. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I was really impressed with this recipe. The combination of sweet and spicy was delicious and even my two boys loved the pineapple salad. I like how the pork is simply seasoned, without a needless amount of extra spices. I would suggest that if you don't like a lot of spice reducing the amount of chili powder. Since my family tried to eat low-fat dinners most of the week, I really like that this recipe only has 8 grams of fat and 37 grams of protein. Overall, a very easy and nutritious dinner recipe.

For the recipe go to Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.

September 6, 2012

Chuck Eye Roast


This hasn't been the best year for beef in my area. I don't know if it's nationwide or just my area, but every single roast that I have bought has been relatively horrible. They have been tough, or too small or lacking great beef flavor. The local super store in my area doesn't feel the need to have any beef roasts over two pounds. I think they might have a different idea of an actual roast. They cut them the thickness of a steak and try to label them as a roast. The other stores in my area haven't seemed to do much better. Normally I have no problems finding great beef, but this year I have almost given up on buying any more beef.  This week I decided to try one more time and prepared a recipe for a Chuck Eye Roast from the May issue of Food and Wine magazine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. As I stated in the introduction I had to go to multiple stores to find a beef roast over 2 pounds. The one I found wasn't completely marbleized, but I settled on what I could find. I had an even worse time finding ground bay leaves. I'm sure in larger cities it is easy to find a variety of spices. When I lived in Seattle there were whole stores specializing in hard to find spices. However, here I am limited a handful of stores and ground bay leaves were one of the spices that is not available at all in my area. So I left it out. Instead I substituted 1 teaspoon of ground sage. My beef roast took exactly 1 hour to cook. Make sure to tie off your roast with twine to ensure your meat stays moist. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love beef roast and I have been disappointed with the last 3 roasts I have made this summer. This roast was the exception. The middle of the roast was very moist and tender and the spices worked very well together. The cooking time was perfect and I loved the sweet paprika. This recipe made me remember what I love about oven roasts and I will definitely make this again.

For the recipe go to Chuck Eye Roast.

September 5, 2012

Grilled Chicken Shawarma


Growing up my father was a huge red meat eater. He absolutely loved steak, burgers and stews. I on the other hand would chose fish and chicken if given the choice. To this day I still love grilled chicken over steak and sausage. However, my husband and two boys love red meat. When I say love, I mean really love red meat. In particular bacon is a favorite of theirs. If they could eat bacon at every meal they would do so happily and see nothing wrong with doing so. While I do love bacon, I have been encouraging my family to eat more chicken and fish. Luckily my two boys have discovered they love any type of grilled chicken. They get very excited when I take out the indoor grill and start grilling chicken. Last month I tried a new recipe for Chicken Shawarma from the August issue of Family Circle magazine, which with 35 grams of protein looked perfect for my active family.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of prep and 10 minutes of broiling time and makes 6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and made no ingredient modifications. I chose to use naan instead of lavash bread. I love naan and use it frequently. Instead of broiling my chicken I used an indoor grill. The broiler on my oven has been broken for months, so obviously I am unable to use it. Using the grill was perfect for this recipe and I think it would work better than the broiler in the first place. It took approximately 10 minutes for the chicken thighs to cook on the indoor grill. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The chicken in this recipe turned out delicious. I think modifying the recipe to use the grill instead of the broiler was perfect. I would use this method again if I made this recipe a second time. My two kids really liked these sandwiches. The fact that they can be held was something that my kids really liked and the flavor of the chicken was delicious. Now that I'm not eating gluten if I was to make this recipe again I would eat it as a salad. The chicken would be great as a salad and would only need a very light vinegar dressing. Overall, a very easy and child friendly recipe.

For the recipe go to Chicken Shawarma.

September 4, 2012

Buttermilk-Cornmeal Drop Biscuits with Honey Butter


I have a soft spot for honey. As far back as I can remember I have loved honey. Not the store bought generic variety, but local delicious pure honey. It is great in so many ways, on biscuits, in baking or in tea. In the last six months I have been using less white granulated sugar and trying to use more natural sweeteners like honey. One of my favorite foods growing up was honey and peanut butter sandwiches. The combination is delicious and my two kids love it almost as much as I do. As I have written about previously, biscuits are a big deal around here and they are made frequently for breakfast. Before giving up gluten I made them at least a couple of times a month. Biscuits are very versatile and can be great with breakfast or dinner. Last month I made a recipe for Buttermilk-Cornmeal Drop Biscuits with Honey Butter from the December issue of Everyday Food magazine, which looked quick and very simple.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 10 servings. All of the ingredients are basic and I had no problems finding any of them at my local grocery store, so I made no modifications. I did use organic butter and buttermilk. I try to buy organic for chicken and dairy. The dough will be very sticky, do not overwork it or the biscuits will end up tough and will not rise properly. Make sure to use parchment paper to bake the biscuits. It really does work better for baking, I highly recommend it. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I made these biscuits before I gave up gluten. One of the things that I miss the most about not eating wheat is easy biscuits. This recipe is very easy to make and the honey butter is delicious. The honey butter could easily be used on other things such as sweet potatoes, bread or other baked goods. I could see the butter being absolutely yummy on cornbread. I made a great gluten free cornbread recipe last week that would work with the honey butter. Overall, this is a very easy biscuit recipe that takes little time to make and was very popular in my household.

For the recipe go to Buttermilk-Cornmeal Drop Biscuits with Honey Butter.

September 3, 2012

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have a soft spot for cookies. When I was little my mom didn't buy junk food. She baked and cooked all the time, but when we went to the grocery store the packages of cookies stayed on the shelf. So when I went to friends houses for slumber parties, I would eat whole packages of cookies. Then I would stay up all night from all the sugar, but it was well worth it. In college they sold cookies almost the size of my head in the student center and I bought them almost everyday. What I wouldn't do to still have that metabolism. My two kids are also little cookie monsters. They have been known to eat 2 dozen cookies in one afternoon. Since cookies aren't the best food for you, I love finding recipes that make cookies a little healthier. A couple of months back I made a new recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies from Betty Crocker, which looked delicious and a healthier version of a family favorite.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time, 30 minutes of which is prep and makes 36 servings. All the ingredients are basic and I made no modifications. I did chose to use King Arthur's Flour instead of the brand recommended in the recipe. I love King Arthur's Flour for baking, especially bread and cookies and it is the only brand of wheat flour that I use. As I always do I used organic eggs and butter. I baked my cookies on parchment paper, it makes cookies perfectly cooked and they never stick. Halfway through the baking time I rotated the pan. This prevents burning and ensures even cooking. Watch the cooking times carefully, my cookies were done in exactly 8 minutes. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

These cookies were good enough that my two boys didn't notice they were made with whole-wheat flour. They were nice and crisp and had an almost nutty flavor from the whole wheat flour. I like that they use whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose. It's a great way to include more fiber and whole-grains in a way that my kids didn't notice. Overall, a kid friendly recipe that tastes just as delicious as cookies made with white flour.

For the recipe go to Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies.

September 2, 2012

Hot Rice Cereal with Nuts and Raisins


As I have previously posted the last couple of months I have been working on my breakfast routine. Before making these changes I was horrible about eating breakfast. I would grab for a cookie or leftover piece of cake and my cup of coffee and not eat anything healthy until well into the afternoon. I was feeling tired all the time and my stomach was always upset. So slowly in the last couple of months I have been making changes. I have always been great about cooking from scratch and eating healthy. However, I also love to bake and when I am stressed I tend to over bake. I have fought with low potassium and anemia since February and I knew that it was time to start making a serious effort to be as healthy as I can be. So I made a big decision a couple of weeks ago after talking to my doctor and have eliminated gluten from my diet and drastically reduced the amount of cane sugar that I consume. In addition I have started eating balanced breakfasts and lunches and increased my consumption of fruit and vegetables. The results have been pretty dramatic. My stomach cramps that I was getting almost daily are gone and the bloating that my belly seemed to always have is gone. I feel so much better and my kids have stopped endlessly snacking and are actually eating their meals The change in breakfast habits has taken a couple of months to become like second nature to me and it has involved trying a lot of new recipes until I found a few I really love. Last month I tried a new recipe from Everyday Food for Hot Rice Cereal with Nuts and Raisins, which uses brown rice and nuts and looked like a great way to add protein to my morning breakfast routine.

This recipe has 6 ingredients. It takes 3 minutes of total time (plus the time to cook the rice) and makes 4 servings. I did make a few changes. Instead of using the whole milk suggested by the recipe I used vanilla flavored almond milk. I rarely if ever use whole milk. I find the fat and saturated fat too high for my breakfast routine. Flavored almond milk still has the sweetness, but has far less fat than the cow's milk alternative. I also found for the cereal to thicken it took closer to 5-8 minutes, instead of the 3 suggested by the recipe. Finally I used cinnamon to top the cereal, I am not a huge fan of nutmeg outside of baked goods so I chose to leave it out. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love how this recipe is gluten free and has a lot of flavor. I had never thought about making a hot cereal with brown rice and I was very surprised how easy and delicious this recipe was. My two boys were skeptical of this dish at first, but enjoyed it once they ate a few bites. With 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber it is a great whole grain option for breakfast and if you prep the brown rice the night before it only takes minutes to prepare in the morning.

For the recipe go to Hot Rice Cereal with Nuts and Raisins.

September 1, 2012

Slow Cooker Cochinita Pibil


As you all know I absolutely love my slowcooker. There is nothing better than prepping food on a busy weekday morning and having it all done when you get home. Recently, my youngest has been very clingy and my dinner time prep has turned to chaos. His attachment seemed to have started when my oldest started back at school, so I have been trying to find ways to save time at dinner in order to spend more time with him during the day. So far it seems to be working well and he is slowly acting like his normal happy self again. One of the new crockpot recipes I tried recently came from an unlikely source, a coupon insert from Kroger which came to my mailbox. I love coupons and as I was looking through them I came across a recipe for Slow Cooker Cochinita Pibil, which looked delicious and perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 1 tsp. sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. annato powder or paste
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper 
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground clove
  • 1 boneless pork but (about 4 lbs.)
Cilantro, onions, tortillas, and lime wedges for serving.

In a blender or food processor, puree the first 14 ingredients until smooth. Brown the pork butt in a small amount of oil. Add to slow cooker and pour the seasoning mix over. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.

I did make a few changes to this recipe. The original recipe did not brown the meat before placing it in the crockpot. Any meat going into a slowcooker needs to be braised in order to remain moist. If you miss this step your meat will be far less flavorful and oftentimes turn out very tough. My family really enjoyed this recipe and I like that it came from an unlucky source. Sometimes the best recipes can be found in unlikely sources! If you end up trying this recipe tell me how it turns out!

Recipe adapted from Kroger Corporation home coupon mailer.
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