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February 28, 2013

Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew


I love my food with lots of flavor. Dishes that are bland or lack any kind of spice have never been something that I liked. Growing-up my mother loved any type of ethnic food she could try and we went to every type of restaurant my mom could find. She also loved going to small ethnic grocery stores to find just the right ingredient for a recipe she had gotten from someone. It was through her that I learned to love and use spices in my cooking. Using the right spice can transform a mediocre dish into something spectacular. Having two boys I am always having to find the right balance between the spice that I want and what my boys will actually eat. So I often modify recipes to still have great flavor with a little less bite. This week I tried a new recipe for Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew from the October 2012 issue of the Food Network Magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 35 minutes of total time, 30 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did make a few changes. First I used baby carrots which I sliced instead of full sized carrots. I love using baby carrots in recipes, they are easy to work with since they are never too thick. Instead of using canned chickpeas I made my chickpeas from scratch. A great way to save money is to make a large batch of dried beans and then freeze them in smaller portions. Much cheaper than canned and lower in sodium. For the turkey I used 93% lean. I find that 85% is way too greasy and the more lean varieties are too dry. Since I make my own chicken stock I always have to add salt at the table, but if you use store bought this shouldn't be as much of a problem.

I found that this recipe made more than four servings. There was enough stew for two meals for my family of 4. I did think that it might have been nice if their were some egg noddles to add a little more texture to the soup. I would also suggest adding another cup of chicken broth to make a larger amount of broth. The spiciness was perfect for my two boys, but if you like more of a kick I would suggest adding 1/8-1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper. My two boys were fans of this recipe and add their servings happily, so it was kid friendly (at least in my house).

For the recipe go to Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew.

February 27, 2013

Quick and Fluffy Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes



I love breakfast foods. There is something so great about a big stack of pancakes, especially when the rest of the day has been less than perfect. In college I was known to study until the early hours of the morning and I quickly learned that 24 hour greasy spoons were a great place to study. They had unlimited amounts of free coffee and delicious breakfast foods (which often served as both my dinner and breakfast since I was always running from school to work to study). Making pancakes at home was always a problem for me. They never turned out as great as they did at my favorite diners and I literally switched to making waffles until my kids were born. Then I discovered what a difference a great griddle makes. No more burnt pancakes and lots and lots of yumminess. This week I tried a new recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes from the March 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 15 minutes of prep, plus the time for the pancakes to cook and makes 12 pancakes. I did make a few modifications. First I used low-fat buttermilk since it was what I already had in my fridge. I try to cut down on dairy fats whenever I can. Instead of all-purpose flour I substituted brown rice flour since I can't eat gluten. Finally I found that since I used a indoor griddle/grill my cooking time was slightly longer than the time suggested by the recipe.

My youngest son absolutely loved these. Make sure to let the pancakes fully set before you flip them or you will end up with patches of soggy pancake around the blueberries. I ate a number of these pancakes and really enjoyed them. They were delicious with frozen blueberries and maple syrup for breakfast. This is a recipe I would make again.

For the recipe go to Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes.

February 26, 2013

Frieda's Specialty Produce Black Garlic and a Recipe for Roasted Chicken with Black Garlic Butter


I love trying new foods. I am one of those people that spend time in the grocery store going down every aisle looking for new things to try. So I was pretty excited when I was shipped a package of black garlic to try. I had only heard of black garlic, but never seen it at the store. In case you are wondering what exactly it is here is the breakdown:

"Whole heads of natural garlic are aged for 1 month in a special high-heat fermentation process. The aged garlic turns a rich black color with a soft, chewy texture and a mild, sweet-savory taste that might be classified as “umami” (the fifth taste – mostly present in savory and meaty foods). Some describe it as having a balsamic or molasses-like taste, others compare black garlic to beef bouillon."

After looking through a number of recipes I found one that looked delicious and perfect for Whole Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Black Garlic. I changed the gravy from the original recipe and instead reduced the roasted garlic with a small amount of white wine and crumbled pancetta on top. I also found that my total cooking time was closer to 2 hours since I had a pretty large chicken. The result was delicious and I would definitely try black garlic again.

Interested in ordering black garlic for yourself? Frieda's Specialty Produce has a number of great products to chose from to make your culinary adventures come alive, here are their links:

For the recipe go to Whole Roasted Chicken. 

February 25, 2013

Cilantro Lentils and Lemon-Cumin Rice



My posts have been slim this week. Normally I post once a day, but between family obligations and sick kids I have had no time for my blog. Right now my youngest is miserable on my lap while I attempt to write something that is at least semi intelligible. Whenever I am sick with a cold I love spicy food, the spicier the better. Especially when I have a stuffy nose I love things that have lots of flavor and kick. One of my favorite types of food to make spicy is Indian cuisine. The flavors can be made mild or intense and many recipes are easy to make at home. Last week I tried a new recipe for Cilantro Lentils with Lemon-Cumin Rice from the March 2013 issue of the Food Network Magazine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients in the lentils and 6 in the rice. The lentils take 1 hour of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. The rice takes 45 minutes, 5 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients. I did make a few changes. Instead of butter in the lentils I used canola oil and I increased the cayenne pepper to 1/2 teaspoon. Additionally, I let my lentils cook longer than the recipe suggested. I increased the total time by approximately 1/2 hour. This increased cooking time allowed the lentils to fully thicken. Make sure to salt again before serving, I needed to add an additional 1/2 tsp of salt.

The lemon juice added at the end of the lentil recipe makes all the difference. It really does add a great flavor that finishes the dish. The lentils and the savory rice are delicious together. The tastes play off of each other and are perfect. The rice would also work well with other recipes and could be modified to be more or less savory.

For the recipes go to Cilantro Lentils and Lemon-Cumin Rice.

February 22, 2013

firmoo.com Glasses Review



I was always one of those kids with great vision growing-up. My mother always wore glasses, but I always thought that it wouldn't pass on to me. Then in high-school I noticed that the board was becoming harder to see and the leaves on trees looked more like blobs. Since I was working after school I used my money to go in for an eye exam and it turned out I needed glasses. Being a teenage girl I decided that I would wear contacts. I stayed wearing contacts until having kids. Once my oldest was born I had a horrible time falling asleep in my contacts and always wearing my contacts longer than I should. So I switched to glasses.

The one thing that has always been hard with having to wear contacts or glasses is the price. Even the lower end plastic frames at the store tend to run over a hundred dollars and if they scratch or if I just plain get tired of them I have to spend another chunk of money to get a new pair. I don't know about other glasses wearers, but I like to have a number of frames in order than I can change them depending on my mood, outfit etc. One of the ways that I have found to saw money while still looking stylish is to order glasses on-line. Recently I was given the opportunity to try a new pair of glasses from Firmoo.com.

Here is the link to the glasses I chose. I love how easy it is to find great frames on-line from my living room couch. Here are the pros:
  • The prescription was spot on.
  • The frames that I chose are well made and fit my face perfectly.
  • They came quickly and were delivered right to my door. 
Cons:
  • There aren't a large amount of frames to choose from on the site. 
  • A lot of the frames are unisex, so the frames tend to be on the larger side.
  • It's hard to gauge what glasses will look and feel like on-line. 
Overall, I was very happy with the glasses that I chose. My husband really liked the frames and that they are different than the frames that I already have.  This would be a site that I would order from again.

For more information or to pick out a new pair of glasses for yourself visit their site at firmoo.com

Right now they also have a great program called the First Pair Free Program. Here are the details:
  • For new customers only. One pair per person.
  • Free eyewear complemented with 1.50 index single vision lenses. You just need to pay the shipping.
  • Full refund for dissatisfaction.
  • The free glasses list will be updated irregularly. Please keep a close eye on the update:
    Faceook, Twitter, Firmoo Blog 
They also have a great feature where you can virtually try on the glasses so that you know what they look like before you purchase. 
 
Disclaimer: In exchange for this post I was given a free pair of glasses to review. As always all opinions expressed are my own and I received no further compensation. 

February 21, 2013

Recipe for Spiced Chicken with Creamy Horseradish and Cabbage Slaw



I live in a family that loves meat. My husband and two boys would be horrible vegetarians. They will put up with vegetables being in a dish or a meal or two during the week having no meat. However, anything more than that and I begin to hear complaints. When my husband is left to take care of my two boys they seem to eat a lot of bacon with chicken or pork as a side. Needless to say meat seems to always be center stage in my house. Sine meat is such an integral part of my family's diet I try to make sure we eat a large variety of protein sources and I switch up my menu plans so no one gets bored. Yesterday I tried a new recipe for Spiced Chicken with Creamy Horseradish Cabbage Slaw from the July 2012 issue of Woman's Day magazine.

This recipe has 8 ingredients in the chicken and 9 ingredients in the slaw. It takes 1 hour 15 minutes of total time for the chicken, 20 minutes of which is active and 30 minutes of total time for the slaw, 15 minutes of which is active. Both recipes make 12 servings. The only change that I made to the chicken was to take the skin off of the thighs and I used honey instead of the brown sugar called for in the recipe. For the slaw I left out the carrot that was used in the original recipe. Instead of the granulated sugar I used agave syrup. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The slaw used in this recipe is delicious. My husband and two sons loved it and they are picky about slaw. The chicken was okay. It needed more flavor that it had from the rub. I would suggest adding 1 tsp of garlic powder and 1/8-1/4 of cayenne pepper to increase the flavor and add a little bit of kick. I think with the changes to the rub the chicken could be a lot better. The slaw would be delicious with a blue cheese burger or anything with blue cheese. The flavors would blend very well together.

For the recipes go to Spiced Chicken and Creamy Horseradish and Cabbage Slaw.

February 20, 2013

Healthy and Low-Fat Southwestern Vegetable and Chicken Soup



I have a horrible habit of trying to eat healthy and then falling off the wagon. Don't get me wrong the majority of the time I eat very healthy, but making big changes in my diet always seem to take a number of failures before they are successful. In college I ate a ton of restaurant food. There were always cheap places to eat and I rarely made food at home. Eventually it caught up with me when I realized that I never seemed to have any energy and I generally felt run down. I vowed to change my habits and I did until I started graduate school and then I was back to my old habits. After getting married I vowed again to start eating healthier, then I got pregnant and the smell of meat made me sick. To compensate I ate a ton of ice cream and peanut butter. After my first son was born I reformed and gave up pretty much any bad food while I breastfed. Then I became pregnant again and my bad food habits quickly came back. So over the years I have started and stopped a lot of healthy eating plans. Luckily since having my youngest and starting this blog my eating habits have leveled off. 99 percent of the time I eat healthy and the other 1 percent I remind myself that I'm human. Since my husband's dad had heart surgery last year I have been determined to make my husband healthier. He has lost 30 pounds in the last year and a lot of it has had to do with dietary changes. This week I made a new healthy recipe for Southwestern Vegetable and Chicken Soup from the February 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.

This recipe has 16 ingredients. It takes 1 1/2 hours of total time, 1 hour of which is active and makes 8 servings. I did make a few changes to the recipe. First I made my own chicken stock from scratch. It really does taste better and is a great way to save money. Second, instead of diced canned tomatoes I used one fresh tomato. I am trying to use more fresh ingredients and rely less on canned goods. Plus the price of fresh tomatoes is lower than canned currently. Finally, I also used fresh spinach and I cooked my own beans.

I love that this recipe is high in vitamin C and only has 5 grams of fat and 199 calories. It has great flavor and the lime juice makes the soup delicious. I tasted the soup before adding the lime and the lime makes a tremendous difference. Make sure to salt at the end, especially if you are making your own stock or using low sodium store bought. This recipe could easily be modified to being vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using vegetable stock instead of chickens stock.

For the recipe go to Southwestern Vegetable and Chicken Soup.

February 19, 2013

35 Minute Rigatoni in Creamy Tomato Sauce



Growing-up we ate pasta at least twice a week. Pasta was inexpensive and my mother could stretch it to make enough for multiple meals. In college my cooking skills became a little lazy and I was guilty of eating a large amount of jarred pasta and spaghetti. This was partly due to the fact that I had to work at least 20 hours a week and take full time classes in order to continue to have my company pay my tuition. I had little time left after school, working and commuting to cook. Pasta was a quick way to fill me up and save money. After getting married I began to try to cook marinara and other pasta sauces from scratch. Now I make pasta at least once a week and pasta is one of my family's favorite meals. This weekend I tried a new recipe for Rigatoni in Creamy Tomato Sauce from the September 2011 issue of All You magazine.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 35 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 6 servings. I only made a few modifications to this recipe. First since I eat gluten free I used gluten free ziti. Secondly, instead of butter I used olive oil and agave instead of granulated sugar. Finally, I let the pasta cook until al dente and then cooked it the rest of the way in the sauce and then added the basil. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The pepperoni in this recipe is surprising. It creates a great taste that even my two picky children loved. I like that the taste was good for both adults and kids. Dinner time can oftentimes be a struggle, but this was a recipe that my whole family could agree upon. This is definitely a recipe I would make again.

For the recipe go to Rigatoni in Creamy Tomato Sauce.

February 18, 2013

Peanut Butter, Dried Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Cookies



When dark chocolate first started becoming popular I hated it. There was something about the taste that I thought was bitter and I just could never eat more than one bite. I did love milk chocolate and I had a sweet spot for 5th Avenue candy bars. To this day there is something about that candy bar that makes me happy. After getting married and having kids I decided that I should give dark chocolate another try. I fell in love. Now I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate and the darker the chocolate the better. I have even been known to eat parts of the bittersweet baking bars that I buy to make cakes and cookies. I think a large part of it has to do with getting older. The older I get the more I notice that my tastes for certain foods has changed as well. Foods that I used to cringe at in my 20's I now love in my 30's and the foods that I thought I would never stop loving I barely touch. What hasn't changed is my sweet tooth. I still love to bake and do so at least once a week. This weekend I tried a new recipe for Peanutty Fruit and Chocolate Chip Cookies from the February 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes a total of 1 hour 41 minutes, 35 minutes of which is active and makes 45 cookies. I did make a number of changes to the original recipe. First instead of all-purpose flour I used brown rice flour. Second I substituted honey for the granulated sugar and sorghum syrup for the light brown sugar. Finally, I had just bought powdered peanut butter at the store so I used it instead of the 1/2 cup of regular peanut butter. The first time I made these cookies they came out of the oven and would not set. This can happen with gluten free baking, it is a lot of trail and error. So I crumbled the cookies, added an egg and rolled them into cookies again. I put them back into the oven for approximately 10 minutes per batch.

Even after all the changes these cookies turned out very well. The combination of the chopped chocolate and the dried cranberries was delicious and the cookies only lasted a matter of hours. These cookies could also be modified to use other dried fruit such as cherries or a darker chocolate such as bittersweet. I think an even darker chocolate and dried cherries would make this recipe even better.

For the recipe go to Peanutty Fruit and Chocolate Chip Cookies. (registration required)

February 16, 2013

Very Tender Slow Cooker Chicken and Hominy Chili Bowl


My oldest has been obsessed with chicken for a while now. He goes through picky stages every couple of weeks where he won't eat anything, except chicken (and bacon, the men in my house always love bacon). If I'm making dinner and he starts complaining and getting hungry, I can always make him happy by informing him that chicken is part of dinner. I agree with him that chicken thighs are delicious and they can create great flavor in a variety of dishes. They are one of my favorite dishes to prepare and I make them at least twice a month. Last week I tried a new recipe for Chicken and Hominy Chili Bowl from the March 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 10 hours 30 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First I never have ten hours between when I get up and my husband comes home for dinner, so I let my chili cook for 8 hours on high. As I always do I made my own chicken stock which I don't salt until I make the recipe. My chicken was so tender that it fell off the bone when I tried to take it out. Therefore I shredded the chicken and put it back in the chili. Finally, my chili was more than thick enough after shredding the chicken so I left out the cornmeal. I served the chili with corn chips, which was a perfect combination.

I love using my slow cooker to make chili and stews. This recipe states that it only makes 6 servings, but since I shredded the chicken it made a large amount more. There was more than enough for dinner plus two more meals for my family of 4. Make sure to adequately salt, especially if you make your own stock. I do think that the amount of cumin could be increased slightly to a full teaspoon. It would create an even more pronounced flavor.

For the recipe go to Chicken and Hominy Chili Bowl. (registration required)

February 15, 2013

Easy, Flavorful Barbecue Roasted Nuts


As I've discussed before I love to snack. There are days that I eat six small meals a day instead of 3 large ones. When I learned from my doctor that I had to go gluten free I struggled with snacks the most. I have always loved carbs, especially breads and waffles. Pre-packaged gluten free snacks are not that delicious and I only buy them if I am starving and have no other options. It's hard when I am hungry and there is nothing that I can eat in the cupboard. Since my snacking options are limited I try to keep homemade snacks on hand as much as I can. This week I tried a new recipe for Barbecue Roasted Nuts from the November 2012 issue of Southern Living magazine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 2 hours 5 minutes of total time, 30 minutes of which is active and makes 6 cups. I did make a number of modifications. First instead of light brown sugar I used sorghum syrup and instead of granulated sugar I used honey. I have been trying to limit the amount of granulated sugar that I use in baking and cooking and honey is a great substitute. Make sure to stir the nuts at least every 10 minutes while they are in the oven. They will go from browned to burnt very quickly, so be careful.

These nuts aren't very spicy so if you are looking for a little kick I suggest adding a 1/2-1 teaspoon of cayenne. The barbecue flavor is nice and even my two kids were fans. One of the best things about the recipe is that it takes very little prep time and makes a large amount of nuts. A great way to make homemade snacks and the flavors can be adjusted to be spicier, more garlic etc.

For the recipe go to Barbecue Roasted Nuts.

February 14, 2013

Guest Post-Add a Personal Touch to Your Valentine's Day Gifts with Homemade Covered Tins

Hi, I'm Carolyn! I'm so glad to guest post here at Frugal Foodie in WV!
Ann is so great with the food...I can't compete, or even add... so I thought I'd go a completely different route!
My strengths are different, and at my blog {perspective} I write about many things, my world from my perspective... that includes creating crafts, fashion, re purposing, photography, fashion, running, home decor, my faith and my family!  Is that enough range for you?
Stop by and say hi!  I'd love to have you!
You can also find me and more of my work on FB: Perpective, CCMcAfee Photography, and CCMakesStuff.

Do you get tins for Christmas?
You know, filled with cookies or candy...
What do you do with the tins?  Do you throw them away?  I can't!  It may be the hoarder creative mind in me, but I must be able to do something with them right?


Indeed I have found purpose for these little containers!
I have plenty of them stuck in drawers to help me get organized...


AND, there is more!
I have covered several of them and given them as gifts, or, again used them for storage, but cute storage!


I'm going to show you how to quickly cover a tin for yourself. 
Give it a facelift simply with ModPodge and paper... add some tissue, and your own fabulous cookies... walla, you have found a new purpose for your tin!  And maybe your buddy can use their new tin for some other cute storage!



The gift that keeps giving right?

Start with your tin.  Measure the height and give an inch or two on top of that, to fold into the tin.

Depending on the circumference you may need to use more than one sheet of paper.  For this valentine tin I did, the glue is magical, you can't really tell there are two papers, just pay attention to pattern...

Make your cuts.  Get out your ModPodge (AKA the best glue EVER) and a sponge brush.
Generously apply the glue to the tin.  Apply the paper.  Smooth out any bubbles.  It's important to be generous w/ the glue, to give yourself time to smooth it out before it dries.



Next you'll fold the excess into the center of the tin.  It isn't necessary to glue it, it will stay put.
You'll want to apply a coat of the glue on top of the paper, as a protective coating.  I'd wait until after you've completed the lid, to make sure the under glue is dry.

Now, on to the lid.  Trace out the lid and cut just inside of it...

Glue it on there the same as you did the body... coating afterwards...

Cover the remaining lip with ribbon or trim of your choice.
There you have it!  It is now ready for your sweet Valentine treat!  Or birthday treat, or spring treat... think of the possibilities!

February 13, 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Smoky Navy Bean Soup


While some people will only eat beans if they are forced, I love them. When I was growing-up my dad was a meat and potatoes kind of guy so beans rarely made an appearance. Then when I turned 15 I decided to become  a vegetarian. I quickly had to learn to make beans. My first dozen attempts were less than stellar, the flavor wasn't great and beans weren't a favorite food of mine. Then I discovered that when made the right way, beans can be delicious. My kids have grown-up eating beans. To them they are just another food and they don't think twice about eating them. My oldest in particular loves pinto and chickpeas and will pick them out of dishes. This week I have made a number of bean dishes since my schedule has been hectic and they are hearty and create a ton of leftovers. Today I tried a new recipe for Smoky Navy Bean Soup from the March 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 10 hours of cooking on low, 15 minutes of prep and makes 8 servings. This was a recipe that I followed pretty closely with only a few modifications. Instead of adding 6 cups of water, I added 3 cups of homemade chicken stock and 3 cups of water. For the carrots I used pre-peeled baby carrots, approximately 15. I chose to skip the step of pureeing the soup. My kids were hungry and I like my bean soup to have more texture. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I was surprised by how many leftovers I had of this soup. The recipe states that it makes 8 servings, but I had enough leftovers for at least two more meals. Make sure to adequately salt the soup before serving, it will need it. I did find that the ham steak that I used ended up a little tougher than I like, next time I would use a fatter cut of ham. Overall, an easy bean soup recipe that is great for fall and winter.

For the recipe go to Smoky Navy Bean Soup.

February 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies


I have a major sweet tooth. Over the years I have tried numerous times to give up sugar without much success. Now in my mid thirties I have resigned myself to the fact that while I hate salt I love sugar. Potato chips and salted treats do nothing for me. I literally could sit with salty snacks in my cupboard for months. Sweet treats on the other hand call my name. I love them. Since I know that sweet treats are a serious temptation for me I have learned over the years that denying myself only makes matters worse. To stay thin I allow myself treats ever week in moderation. Denying myself completely just makes me want to eat the entire cake instead of a small piece. As I age closer to 40 I have also discovered that it takes a lot more work to stay thin so I have modified my diet to try to include as many natural foods as possible. In the last month I have tried to start swapping out granulated sugar for honey and molasses. The flavor is still there, but I can reduce the overall amount of sugar needed and it doesn't cause me the same amount of sugar highs. Yesterday I tried  a new recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies from the January 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 28 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 28 cookies. I did make a number of modifications to this recipe. First instead of using 1/2 cup of butter I substituted 1/2 cup of canola oil. I am trying to reduce the amount of butter that I am baking with and this was an easy substitution. Secondly, instead of the 1/2 cups of granulated sugar I used 1/2 cup of honey. For the 3/4 cup of brown sugar I used slightly less than a 1/2 cup of molasses, so between the honey and molasses I had approximately a cup of liquid. Since I increased the amount of liquid by using honey and molasses I added an additional 1/4 cups of brown rice flour. I eat gluten free so I omitted the all-purpose flour and used equal amounts brown rice flour instead. My baking time was slightly longer than the recipe since I made substitutions, approximately 5 minutes per batch.

For gluten free cookies these rose very well. Oftentimes gluten free desserts end up flat, but these did a great job of baking up. My husband actually thought they were a little too cakey, but my two boys and I liked the texture. I liked the peanut butter, but I wasn't a big fan of the chopped peanuts. I think if I made the recipe again I would leave them out as an ingredient.

For the recipe go to PB Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  (registration required)

February 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Pulled Beef Sandwiches with Cabbage-Cilantro Slaw



My husband loves BBQ. I have had to listen to endless hours of conversation revolving around why his charcoal grill is better than gas. The sad thing is that my father had similar conversations growing-up, so apparently I am surrounded by men with BBQ obsessions. I don't mean obsession as a joke, my husband reads books, watches cooking shows and searches the Internet for new BBQ recipes and ideas. While I love BBQ, I don't have the patience to wait all day for BBQ on the charcoal grill. I love the taste, but would rather have something that takes less effort and still has great flavor. One method that I have found for BBQ pulled sandwiches is the crock-pot. The crock-pot is quick and easy and is great for making large cuts of meat. Today I tried a new recipe for Pulled Beef Sandwiches with Cabbage Slaw from the June 2012 issue of Woman's Day magazine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 8 hours 15 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I made a number of modifications to this recipe. First the magazine recipe is actually for pulled pork. However, when I arrived home from the grocery store and started unloading my items I noticed that I had bought beef shoulder. Rather than going back to the store and spending more money I decided to substitute the beef for the pork in the recipe. I did brown the beef in the skillet before adding to the slow-cooker. I always brown meat before adding to the crock-pot it helps to seal in the juices and makes for more tender meat. Since I am trying to limit granulated sugar, I substituted molasses for the brown sugar called for in the recipe. Finally, since I eat gluten free I did not eat my serving on a potato roll, but instead ate the BBQ pulled beef as is with the coleslaw as a side. Make sure to adequately salt the coleslaw it will need it.

I was surprised by how well the beef turned out in this recipe. Pulled beef oftentimes turns out dry and tough, especially when made in the crock-pot. This pulled beef came out tender and using molasses in the BBQ sauce lent a nice flavor. I wasn't a big fan of the sour cream in the coleslaw, I would have preferred using olive oil mayonnaise. However, the cilantro in the coleslaw was delicious.

For the recipe go to Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

February 10, 2013

Rosemary-Apricot Pork Tenderloin with Curried Apricot Rice



I have already gotten tired of candy and Valentine's Day is still days away. I'm not anti-Valentine's Day, but I do hate all the sweets that go along with the holiday. Many people think that I am mean, but I do not allow candy and pre-packaged sweets in my house. And when I say none I mean none. I bake cookies, cakes and treats from scratch, but I try to limit the amount of granulated sugar that my family consumes so I bake with honey and molasses. Inevitably during holidays my kids receive candy and treats from relatives. Since they don't normally eat foods with large amounts of corn syrup and sugar they tend to get very cranky and melt down after only a few pieces. Today the candy that they have went into a bag for my husband to take to work. This happened after my oldest cried for an hour wanting another piece of candy after he had eaten way too many mini Butterfingers bars. He's lucky that I didn't throw them in the trash, which I have also been known to do. To make up for all the candy eating that happened in my house the last couple of days, I decided for dinner tonight to make a protein that my kids would like. Pork is always a popular favorite and everyone in my house absolutely loves pork tenderloin. Tonight I tried a new recipe for Rosemary-Apricot Pork Tenderloin from the December/January 2012 issue of Taste of Home magazine.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 8 servings. For the rosemary I used crushed dried rosemary. Fresh rosemary is just too expensive at the store and my herb garden was non-existent last summer thanks to squirrels and cats. For the apricot preserves I used all natural preserves. I am not a fan of the cheaper jams that use corn syrup as a main ingredient. They taste too sugary and have more apple juice than actual fruit. Last summer I canned a bunch of jam that I had planned on using this winter, but thanks to my two boys it was eaten within a couple of months. For a side dish I modified the Curried Apricot Couscous recipe from the same page of the magazine. Since I eat gluten free I substituted rice for the couscous, added 3 cups of homemade chicken stock and modified the cooking time to 20 minutes. The recipe cooks the pork to 160 and pulls it out of the oven to rest. That is way too high of a temp. The FDA now states that the temp for pork is 145 with a 5 minute rest. During the rest the temp will go up approximately 5 degrees to 150. If you were to cook the pork to 160 degrees, it would be over done. If you don't already own a well made meat thermometer, buy one. They are a very important kitchen tool that can mean the difference between delicious and over cooked meat. I temp all meat that I cook to ensure that it gets just done without before over done and tough.

 The pork in this dish turned out very tender. My two boys stated they weren't hungry for dinner, but after tasting the pork they ate an entire serving. The glaze has a nice sweetness, without being over sweet and is balanced nicely by the rosemary. I think for this recipe I prefer using the dried rosemary like I did, so it wasn't overpowering and worked well with the glaze.

For the recipe go to Rosemary-Apricot Pork Tenderloin.

February 9, 2013

Flavorful Quick 40 Minute Pasta Bolognese



I have been in the mood for comfort food this week. There is something about fall and winter that make me want to bake and cook foods that feel warm and like home. Since I can't eat gluten I have had to re-learn a lot of my favorite comfort foods that my mother made growing up. The dish that I struggled with the most making gluten free was macaroni and cheese. Every time I tried making it the flavor and texture was off. After approximately 10 tries I finally discovered a baked macaroni and cheese that even my husband enjoyed. The trick with a lot of gluten pasta recipes is to bake them in the oven or add a lot of spices. Now that I have baked a number of gluten free pasta dishes I love them and make pasta once a week. Last week I tried a new recipe for Quick Pasta Bolognese from the February 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time, 30 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did make a few modifications to the recipe. First I used gluten free pasta instead of whole-wheat. My husband and two boys love meat so I used a whole pound of lean ground beef. After the pasta was done cooking I added it to the sauce, tossed and continued cooking until the pasta was fully done. I cook my pasta until al dente and then finish cooking in the sauce. I prefer this method for pasta, it ensures that the pasta doesn't over cook and that the sauce is fully incorporated. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Increasing the meat in this recipe worked well. I would suggest using whole tomatoes instead of diced and crushing the tomatoes by hand. To crush my tomatoes by hand I place them in a Ziploc, seal it and then crush it between my fingers. The diced tomatoes had a texture that my husband and I weren't big fans of, but could be easily remedied by using whole tomatoes instead. Make sure to add salt before serving, this dish needs to be salted adequately for flavor.

For the recipe go to Quick Pasta Bolognese.

February 8, 2013

35 Minute Stewed Chicken Breast, Red Bell Pepper and Chickpeas


Today was an experimental baking day. I ran out of eggs the other day and my oldest is always very hungry when he gets home from school. Knowing that I had to think of something fast I made vegan oatmeal cookies. I knew that they were good when my youngest tried to eat the batter before it went into the oven. Needless to say the cookies have all been eaten and I think that I may have convinced my husband that vegan cooking can be delicious when done properly. Of course after all of the cookies were eaten none of my family was hungry for dinner. I decided that since the cookies were almost all oatmeal and brown rice flour, it was pretty close to a healthy breakfast food and I didn't argue too much. Making healthier baked goods has been one of my goals for the last month. I have also been trying to incorporate more chicken into my family's diet. My husband prefers pork, so I have been trying to find chicken recipes with a lot of flavor in order to trick my husband into eating them. This week I tried a new recipe for Stewed Chicken and Chickpeas from the January/February 2013 issue of the Food Network Magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes a total of 35 minutes, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did make a few modifications to this recipe. First I was unable to find 6 ounce breasts. The meat selection at our grocery store is always limited so I had to use slightly larger chicken breasts. I do think that the recipe would work better with the smaller breasts if you can find them. For the red pepper flakes I used a full teaspoon and I used 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. I chose to leave off the fresh parsley since my local grocery store refuses to stock flat leaf and I just can't get a taste for curly parsley, the texture gets to me. Since I eat gluten free I left out the pita and served the dish over quinoa which I had cooked with butter and minced garlic. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The red pepper and chickpeas are the star of this dish. The chicken cooked well and was tender, especially given that my family prefers chicken thighs. However, the best part of the dish was definitely the sauce. I thickened the sauce at the end with a small amount of cornstarch and it was great over the quinoa. Additionally, it re-heated very well the next day.

For the recipe go to Stewed Chicken and Chickpeas.

February 7, 2013

Moist Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake Made Using Yogurt



I have been eating spicy foods all day today. They seem to be the only things that I can taste due to the unfortunate luck of catching a cold yesterday. I am such a baby that I would almost rather go through another c-section recovery than have a bad cold. Part of it has to do with having pneumonia and being hospitalized last winter. Now every time I get a cold it feels as if someone is sitting literally on my chest. Before having pneumonia this never happened. I was warned that this would happen, but it still doesn't make the experience any more pleasant. So I have been taking zinc lozenges, drinking tea with honey and trying not to be too pathetic. My husband was super sweet and brought me home a bag of spicy chips, spicy peanuts and chocolate. I knew there was a reason I married that man, sometimes he is just plain awesome. Since I have been feeling under the weather I am glad that I baked a number of snacks earlier in the week. One of my favorite ingredients to bake with is blueberries, whether fresh or frozen they are delicious. This week I tried a new recipe from the February/March 2013 issue of Taste of Home Magazine for Lemon-Blueberry Pound Cake.

This recipe has 13 ingredients in the cake and 2 in the glaze. It takes an hour and 20 minutes of total time, 25 minutes of which is active and makes 12 servings. I did make a number of changes to the original recipe. First since I eat gluten free I used brown rice flour to replace the all-purpose flour. I have also been trying to cut down on the amount of granulated sugar that my family consumes so I substituted honey for the two cups of sugar. Since less honey is needed in recipes I reduced the total amount to 1 1/2 cups and used 6 ounces instead of 8 ounces of lemon yogurt. Finally, instead of butter I used canola oil and low-fat cream cheese instead of regular. I found that my baking time was slightly longer due to the changes, approximately 5 minutes total. While the frosting looked yummy, I left it off to reduce the amount of sugar. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys loved this pound cake. Even with all the substitutions the cake came out very well. It wasn't as sweet as the original recipe would have been, which I liked. Using two cups of sugar would make for a very sweet cake and I prefer a cake that is a little less sweet to serve to my kids, plus it was great with a cup of tea as a snack in the afternoon.

For the recipe go to Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake.

February 6, 2013

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken





Today was organization day for my cupboards. I try to keep my kitchen as clean as I can and bleach multiples times a day. However, my pantry cupboards go through phases. I will be great about keeping them clean during the summer in order that I have room for fruits and veggies that I have canned. By winter they have turned into chaos. One of the reasons always seems to be that when I come home from the grocery store I am so tired of dealing with lines, coupons you name it that I just don't have the effort to organize everything before putting it away. So everything gets stuffed into the cupboard and I have to search to find what I need when I'm cooking. Today I spent three hours cleaning and organizing everything in my pantry. I discovered that I had a number of ingredients that I had forgotten that I purchased which will be great to go into next weeks menu plan. This week I have been making a number of dishes using items from the freezer which I cleaned out last week. Earlier in the week I tried a new recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken from the October 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 5 minutes of prep, 6 hours of cooking on high and makes 12 servings. Since I eat gluten free I did make a number of changes. First instead of serving the pulled chicken in buns as a sandwich I served it over brown rice. I have tried a number of gluten free bun brands and they have failed to impress me, I would rather just eat my meals over rice or quinoa. Instead of using brown sugar I used local grown honey. For sweetening I prefer using honey since it is natural and using local honey is supposed to help with allergies (whether it actually does I don't know, but it is worth a shot). Instead of using boneless skinless thighs, I used bone-in thighs which I took the skin off of and removed the bones before pulling the chicken. I prefer keeping the bone in thighs since it gives the finished meat a better flavor. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two kids ate their servings on hamburger buns and loved it. I liked that it worked well over brown rice, which turned out to be a nice gluten free option. My husband thought that the meat became a little dry after sitting in the fridge, so it is best enjoyed the same night or make sure to add additional liquid when re-heating. The dryness could also be avoided by using all thighs instead of breasts and thighs since breast meat is much lower in fat and doesn't have as much moisture.

For the recipe go to BBQ Pulled Chicken. (registration required)

February 5, 2013

Slow-Cooked Green Chile Stew


As you know if you've read my blog for a while, we are a pork family. I have been successful with changing a lot of food habits in my family. I have started using honey and sorghum instead of granulated sugar, olive oil instead of butter and brown rice flour instead of wheat flour. As for proteins I like a varied diet. I think eating anything in large amounts isn't great, but I also don't think that eating pork and beef aren't bad for you either. According to my doctor I have some of the best cholesterol levels he has seen and I eat red meat 2-3 times a week. However, I also prepare a large amount of turkey, fish and chicken. Pork is a meat that my husband loves. In any form be it bacon, tenderloin or roast he devours it. So do my two boys. Cooking as many things from scratch as I can is important to me and one of my favorite meals to make is stew. A great stew can make even a poor cut of meat delicious and can feed my family for multiple meals. This week I tried a new recipe for Green Chile Stew from the January/February 2013 issue of the Food Network Magazine.

This recipe has 14 ingredients. It takes 2 hours and 55 minutes of total time, 25 minutes of which is active and makes 8 servings. I did make a number of changes to this recipe. First I made my own chicken broth which I do not salt. Instead I salt the dish once it's done to reduce the total amount of sodium in my dishes. Second I cubed my pork instead of dicing it. I was unable to find a 3 pound roast, so I bought two smaller roasts and cut them into small cubes. I find dicing meat to be a nuisance and I prefer my meat to have larger pieces in soups and stews. Finally, I changed the overall cooking time. The recipe only cooks the pork for slightly over an hour. To me that isn't long enough to produce a great flavor. Instead I added 8 cups of chicken broth to the pork and allowed it to cook for an hour, then added the hominy and let it cook for another hour. Then I added the potatoes and let it cook for a final 40 minutes. The end result was flavorful and perfect. Since I eat gluten free I served the stew with corn tortillas instead of flour.

If I had made this just for adults I would have made it spicier by leaving in the seeds on the peppers. Since I was cooking for my kids I seeded the peppers. My husband's only complaint was that it wasn't spicy enough, but that is normal since I have to keep my kids tastes in mind when I cook for our entire family. Make sure to add salt at the end, especially if you are using low sodium stock or make your own. I would suggest using additional chicken stock instead of the water suggested in the second part of the recipe. The water would make the soup less flavorful.

For the recipe go to Green Chile Stew.


February 4, 2013

Delicious Vegan Oatmeal Dried Cherry Cookies

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I love cookies. There have been very few cookies that I have ever eaten that I haven't had more than one. Cookies just cry out to be eaten by me. However, as I have gotten older I have began to understand that my metabolism isn't what it used to be. I also have made efforts to eat as healthy as I can to prevent the health problems that my mother and grandmother had. In order to still be able to eat cookies, while thinking of my health I have learned ways to modify recipes. One great way to reduce the bad fats is to replace butter with olive or canola oil. I also replace granulated sugar with honey, molasses, sorghum or agave. It is a great way to increase the healthy qualities in baked goods. Today I tried a new recipe for Vegan Oatmeal Dried Cherry Cookies that I received in a pamphlet in the mail.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 15 minutes of total time, 5 minutes of which is active and makes 25 cookies. I made significant changes to this recipe. First instead of using granulated sugar I used sorghum. Additionally since I eat gluten free I replaced the whole wheat flour with brown rice flour. I didn't have chocolate chips in my pantry so I used dried cherries instead. Finally, I found my baking time to be much longer than the ten minutes suggested by the recipe. I would suggest adding an additional 5 minutes to fully brown. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I wasn't sure what my kids would think of gluten free vegan cookies. They loved them though and ate almost the entire batch by themselves. My husband was an even bigger surprise since he loved the cookies almost as much as my kids. These cookies were definitely popular in my house and I love that they are made without granulated sugar and use canola oil instead of butter. This is a recipe that I will make again and try new options, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips etc.

For the recipe go to Chewy Oatmeal Cookies.

February 3, 2013

Sweet and Savory Vinegar Braised Chicken with Pancetta and Pearl Onions


I ate way too corn chips today. The majority of the time I eat healthy, but I bought my husband chips to eat during the super bowl and it was downhill from there. It also reminded me why I normally cook everything from scratch. The chips have sat heavy in my stomach all evening. To make up for the over eating of chips I ate leftovers for the last two days. I love utilizing leftovers, it is a great way to save money and I try to change the dish slightly when I re-heat it so my family accepts it happily. Chicken and pasta recipes are my two favorite type of leftovers. They re-heat well and can be adjusted slightly to make new meals. Last week I tried a new recipe for Vinegar Braised Chicken and Onions from the February 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes an hour and 20 minutes, 40 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. Finding fresh pearl onions in my area is always a task. They are only available in 6 ounce packages, which are overpriced. Given the price I bought only 18 ounces not the 2 pounds suggest by the recipe. Additionally pancetta in my area comes pre-cubed in 4 ounce packages, so that is the manner I bought them. As I almost always do I made my own chicken stock. This allows me to control the amount of sodium and ensure that it is gluten free. Finally, to thicken up the sauce at the end I added a small amount of cornstarch. Without the cornstarch the sauce was thin and greasy. I skimmed the fat and then added approximately a tablespoon of water mixed with a tablespoon of water. This allowed the sauce to thicken nicely and was perfect served with rice. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

The sauce on this chicken was delicious. It was a nice combination of sweet from the vinegars and savory from the onions. The chicken turned out tender and cooked perfectly. The sauce when served over rice worked well and would make a nice pasta sauce as well. The combination of vinegars was perfect and is something I will try again in the future with other dishes and meats.

For the recipe go to Vinegar Braised Chicken and Onions.

February 2, 2013

Easy Homemade Chocolate Pecan Pie Granola Made with Sorghum and Olive Oil


My youngest is becoming more and more like me everyday. It's not just the way that he looks and acts, but the way that he approaches life in general. He makes the sames faces and reacts to situations much the same way that I do. In addition he has a very high metabolism and a huge snacking habit just like me. He literally seems to eat from sun up until sun down. My oldest is also a big snacker, especially when he gets home from school. Due to the fact that my family is full of people who love snacks I try to keep as many healthy snacking options as I can. One snack that my whole family loves is granola. Since store bought granola is so expensive and almost all brands have gluten I have learned to make my own granola at home. Today I tried a new recipe for Chocolate-Pecan Pie Granola from the November 2012 issue of Southern Living.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 6 cups of granola. I made considerable changes to this recipe. First off the thought of using butter and dark corn syrup to make granola just wasn't something that sounded healthy or delicious to me. I try to reduce artificial sugars and saturated fat from dairy when I can. So I modified the recipe to work with the ingredients that I already had in my cupboard. First, instead of the butter I used olive oil. I love using olive oil in baking, it is much lower in saturated fat than butter and the texture and taste is similar. Instead of the dark corn syrup I used sorghum. I love using sorghum, molasses or honey in recipes that call for corn syrup. Agave syrup would be another option that would also work. All of these options are good substitutes for granulated sugar or corn syrup in recipes. It was brought to my attention after I wrote this up for the first time that I failed to mention that I modified the wheat germ. I eat gluten free (I have to due to health reasons), so I left out the wheat germ and added a 1/2 cup of brown rice flour. When I added the granola to the pan I pressed it down with a spatula until it was flattened. Make sure to stir the granola every ten minutes or it will burn. I let the granola partially cool and then I broke it into bits and added the chocolate when it was still a little warm in order that the chocolate partially melted. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Making all the changes to this recipe worked very well. The sorghum gave the granola a great taste and the olive oil made the granola a healthier breakfast or snacking option. My husband felt that the chocolate pieces were unnecessary, he would like the granola without the chocolate. However, my two boys were big fans of the chocolate pieces, so it would work either way depending on how sweet you want your granola. Overall, a delicious granola recipe that I would make again following my changes.

For the recipe go to Chocolate-Pecan Pie Granola.

February 1, 2013

Delicious Rigatoni with Calabrese Style Pork Ragu


 My family loves pasta. So much so that I prepare it approximately once a week for dinner. When I was growing up my mom always made a lot of pasta since it was inexpensive to make and could feed our entire family. She was great with inventing recipes from just spaghetti and the ingredients in our cupboards. I wish that I had inherited half of her recipe invention talents. While I don't invent recipes the same way that my mother did, I do like taking recipes and making them my own. Since I eat gluten free I am always taking regular pasta recipes and re-inventing them to my needs. This week I tried a new recipe for Rigatoni with Calabrese Style Pork Ragu from the February 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

This recipe has 14 ingredients. It takes 5 hours of total time, 60 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. Since I eat gluten free I used brown rice flour ziti. I have never seen rigatoni gluten free in my area, so I always use what I have access to. Since I was serving this recipe to my kids I used mild Italian sausage, instead of spicy sausage. I would have used spicy sausage if it was just for my husband and I. I rarely buy ground meat from the grocery store. For this recipe I had leftover pork shoulder which I ground up and used. When I went to make this recipe it turned out that I had forgotten to buy fresh parsley so I had to substitute dried parsley instead. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

Even though this recipe states that it makes only 6 servings, I had a ton of leftovers. There was enough for two additional meals. I did let my sauce thicken longer than the recipe. I had to add a slight amount of water during the four hour cooking time. However, at the end of the cooking time it was still a little thinner than I liked so I turned up the heat a little and let it cook without a lid until it had fully thickened. I also did not add additional cooking water after adding the pasta since it wasn't necessary. My family really loved this recipe. I would suggest adding a larger amount of crushed red pepper if you use mild sausage and make sure to adequately salt, it will need it.

For the recipe go to Rigatoni with Spicy Calabrese Style Pork Ragu.
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