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March 31, 2013

Recipe for Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives and Feta

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Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta

I hope that everyone had a great Easter! We had a nice relaxing day at home. I woke-up early and made homemade yeast rolls. The recipe is from my mother-in-law and they always turn out delicious. For the main food I made glazed ham, buttermilk mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus with goat cheese and crumbled bacon. If you have never tried roasted asparagus before you really should. My two sons love it and ate over a pound of asparagus between the two of them. Roasted veggies are a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables since they take on a caramelized flavor. For dessert I made a gluten free yellow cake with cherry filling and homemade butter cream frosting. My boys had fun helping me decorate the cake with peeps and Cadbury eggs. It was a great day! Today's recipe is for a family favorite, roasted chicken thighs. Last week I tried a new recipe for Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta from the April 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 1 hour of total time, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did make a few changes to the recipe. First I had potatoes that needed to be used so I added baby potatoes cut in fourths and tossed with olive oil. My two boys love olives so I doubles the amount and sliced them before roasting. I left off the fresh mint leaves for garnish since I was serving it to my children. Make sure to temp the chicken, over cooking chicken thighs makes the meat tough. As I have said before a great meat thermometer is a must (and a great present for a home cook).

The skin on this chicken turned out crispy and the thighs had great flavor. Oftentimes with roasted chicken recipes that actual chicken part of the dish turns out rather bland, this recipe was an exception. The thighs were well flavored and the vegetables turned out delicious. My two boys loved the olives and told me that this one of their favorite dishes that I have made recently. High praise from two very picky little boys.

For the recipe go to Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives and Feta.

March 30, 2013

Recipe for Flourless Carrot Bundt Cake

Click for Recipe for Gluten Free Flourless Carrot Bundt Cake
Gluten Free Flourless Carrot Bundt Cake

Hopefully everyone else is doing better with Easter prep than I am. I think that I finally have decided what I am going to make. Since it's just my family this year due to sickness it should be very easy to make Easter dinner tomorrow. Hopefully. My husband still isn't feeling well so it might just be my two boys and I eating, which will be fine with me it means more dessert for me. I was smart and bought my ham early while everyone was still feeling well. Doing things early is always a must in my household since things always seem to get crazy. Regardless tomorrow will be a great day to spend with my family and I hope all my readers have a great Easter. If your still looking for a sweet to serve tomorrow I might be able to help. Last week I tried a new recipe for Flourless Carrot Bundt Cake from the April 2013 issue of the Food Network Magazine.

This recipe has 10 ingredients in the cake and 5 in the glaze. It takes a total time of 1 hour, 35 minutes of which is active and makes 8 to 10 servings. Since this recipe is already gluten free I made very few changes. I do have a few suggestions though. Make sure to spread the batter even in the pan before baking. If you skip this step half of your cake will rise higher than the other half. Gluten free cake never has much of a rise so if you don't smooth out the batter it will not turn out right. My cake took exactly 30 minutes to bake. For the glaze make sure to sift the confectioners sugar. If you miss this step your glaze will have lumps. The pics in the magazine are a little deceptive. If you are like me and eat gluten free regularly you know that gluten free recipes don't look fluffy and light like their gluten counterparts. They still taste great but without a large amount of baking powder you aren't going to have a high cake. If you want a higher cake you could try experimenting with adding baking powder.

My two boys really liked this recipe. They ate the majority of the cake. The original recipe uses almond flour, but it would probably work with rice flour or sorghum flour instead as long as you added butter or oil to balance the fat. The cake made a nice snack with a cup of tea, it wasn't overly sweet which I liked.

For the recipe go to Flourless Carrot Bundt Cake.

March 27, 2013

Recipe for Cocoa Brownies

Click for Recipe for Gluten Free Cocoa Brownies
Gluten Free Cocoa Brownies

I have a slight chocolate addiction. While other people grab for salty snacks I am the one eating a dark chocolate bar. I seem to have passed on the tradition to my two boys who make a bee line to the chocolate bars at whatever store we go to. Since chocolate is my vice I try to limit my chocolate intake to dark chocolate bars and the occasional homemade treat. I love baking at home since I can control the ingredients and I know exactly what goes into every recipe. My kids have been so spoiled that my oldest runs in the door most days asking what I made for his after school snack. One of my favorite chocolate desserts is brownies. Last week I tried a new recipe for Gluten Free Cocoa Brownies from the Food Network.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes one hour of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 16 servings. I did make a number of changes to the original recipe. First I used a combination of regular and dark cocoa. I love using dark cocoa in baking it gives recipes a nice slightly less sweet flavor. Since I eat gluten free I used brown rice flour in place of the all-purpose flour. Any type of gluten free flour would probably work, so if you prefer sorghum, white rice flour etc. it should come out similarly. Instead of baking the brownies in a 8 inch pan I used a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish. There was way too much batter for a smaller pan and using the larger size was perfect. Since my pan was larger my baking time was increased by approximately 5-10 minutes.

My family doesn't love most gluten free treats. Oftentimes they turn out dry or too moist. These brownies turned out great and my whole family loved them. I like that the recipe would work well with or without gluten which is nice. The actual texture of the brownies is a nice cross between a fudgy and cake brownie, not overly moist, but not too flaky. I would definitely make this recipe again.

For the recipe go to Cocoa Brownies.

March 26, 2013

Campbell's Go Soups Review

Campbell's Go Soup

There are some comfort foods that I love. There is something very satisfying about a meal that makes you feel warm and better about everything around you. One food that has always brought me comfort and great memories is soup. Growing-up I was sick a lot with kidney infections and my mother would make me delicious chicken noodle soup. Even when I was feeling horrible, it made me feel loved. Now that I blog about food I prepare soup recipes at least once every two weeks. It's a great all around food that even my kids enjoy. Recently, I was given the opportunity by Smiley360 to try the 6 new Campbell's Go soup flavors.

Here is a little background information. There are 6 flavors of the new Campbell's Go soups, they are as follows: Golden Lentil with Madras Curry, Moroccan Style Chicken with Chickpeas, Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda, Coconut Curry with Chicken and Shitake Mushrooms, Chicken and Quinoa with Poblano Chiles, and Spicy Chorizo and Pulled Chicken with Black Beans. As you can tell from my photo above the soup comes in stand up containers which fit very easily into the cupboard. There are two servings per containers and the fat content ranges from 1.5 grams in the Moroccan Style Chicken with Chickpeas to 15 grams of fat per serving in the Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda. Here are pictures of the soups out of the package:

Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda


Spicy Chorizo and Pulled Chicken with Black Beans



Coconut Curry with Chicken and Shitake Mushrooms





Overall, my kids and husband thought that this soup was good for canned soup. That is saying a lot since they are spoiled from my homemade cooking. I like that the containers are easy to store, which is important since my cupboard space is limited. I also appreciate that there is a range of fat content and protein amounts allowing for flexibility based on a person's individual dietary needs. Overall, these soups would be a good choice if you don't have the time to make homemade or you need something convenient on hand when cooking just isn't an option.

For more information you can go to the following sites:


The Campbell's Go Soup website: http://bit.ly/12dfIsI
Like Campbell's Go Soup on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/Th8heV
Right now you can also receive a $1 off coupon by completing "Random Text From Last Night" Mad Libs: http://bit.ly/WhT5Sd 
you can also go to the following link to print the coupon http://bit.ly/UjuKFu

For me homemade Italian wedding soup is my favorite all time soup, it is delicious! Do you have a favorite type of soup? (canned or homemade)

Disclaimer: I received 6 products to try from Campbell's and Smiley360 in order to facilitate this review. As always all opinions expressed are my own.  

March 24, 2013

Recipe For Chicken Salad with Capers

Click for Recipe for Chicken Salad with Capers on Rye Bread
Chicken Salad with Capers on Rye Bread

When my husband and I were first married I struggled with leftovers. We would forget to eat them or I just re-heated everything in the microwave. I never really thought past the actual food as it was. Then after having kids I realized that I needed to start using leftovers in a more efficient way. With two boys if I serve the exact same dish two days in a row they groan or refuse to eat it. However, if I reinvent it into a new dish they embrace it wholeheartedly. So I have learned to make multiple meals from one recipe. Today I made chicken salad with capers from the leftovers of the Roasted Chicken with Parsley Caper Pesto from last week.

I made two versions of the chicken salad. For the first sandwich pictured above I made rye bread sandwiches. Here are the ingredients I used:
  • 3 cups leftover chicken
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 dill half spears, chopped
  • a small pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • a pinch of paprika
  • enough mayo to make desired consistency
  • 1/2 of a small gala apple, chopped
  • small squirt of dijon mustard
Click for Recipe for Chicken Salad with Capers on Gluten Free Bread
Chicken Salad with Capers on Gluten Free Bread

For the gluten free sandwich shown above I followed the same recipe with the addition of dill seeds. The dill seeds really did help to bring out the flavor of the salad.

My husband and oldest son enjoyed their sandwiches with arugula. I had mine with just the chicken salad. Overall this was a great way to use a recipe to make two separate meals.

Here is the link to the post for the Roasted Chicken

March 23, 2013

Recipe for Chicken Breasts with Parsley Caper Pesto and Ramp Oven Roasted Potatoes

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Chicken Breasts with Parsley Caper Pesto and Ramp Oven Roasted Potatoes

Easter is next weekend and I haven't even begun to plan anything. The last month has been all over the place with me having strep and now both of my boys have a stomach virus. Easter planning has taken a back seat. More than likely we are going to keep things low key and have Easter at our house with just my family. It will be nice since I host a lot of holidays and I tend to stress myself out. My boys are insisting on ham (I voted for lamb) and I will more than likely make roasted potatoes with ramp pesto, my mother-in-laws homemade roll recipe and some sort of vegetable. That is as far as I got this morning and more than likely it will stay pretty much the same. I do intend to dye Easter eggs sometime this week with food dyes (red cabbage, turmeric, onions, beets). Using food is really easy and I prefer it to store bought dyes. Luckily the Easter bunny has been ahead of schedule and already purchased everything for my boy's baskets. With Easter coming up and spring break being last week I have been making easy meals with minimal prep. Last week I tried a new recipe for Chicken Breasts with Parsley-Caper Pesto from the Everyday Food insert of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. I takes 55 minutes of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I only made a few changes to this recipe. First I used fingerling potatoes instead of small reds. I also added whole young ramps to the olive oil and potatoes before roasting. Additionally I added a small amount of ramps to the pesto to add flavor. The recipe states to rinse the capers, I chose to skip this step. My husband and I enjoy the salty taste of capers so I left the capers unrinsed for flavor. Finally since my breasts were so large it cook a lot longer than the 35 minutes stated in the recipe. I took the potatoes out at that time stated in the recipe and let the breast cook for an additional 30 minutes until they hit temp.

My husband and I were skeptical of this recipe. Neither of us are big fans of chicken breasts, we both prefer thighs. Previous recipes I have tried using chicken breasts have been dry, but this recipe turned out tender and juicy. The pesto really helped to keep the moisture in the kitchen and adding the ramps created a nice flavor. Since the breasts I used were so large I also had enough leftovers for chicken salad the next day.

For the recipe go to Chicken Breasts with Parsley-Caper Pesto.

March 22, 2013

Crock Pot Pinto Bean Stew with Jalapeno Corn Dumplings

Click for recipe for Crock Pot Pinto Bean Stew with Gluten Free Jalapeno Corn Dumplings
Crock Pot Pinto Bean Stew with Gluten Free Jalapeno Corn Dumplings

Beans weren't something my mother prepared very often when I was growing up. She made terrific pasta and meat dishes, but beans were only a sometimes food. When I decided to become a vegetarian in high-school my stomach went into shock due to the sudden increase in bean consumption. Luckily I got used to it and to this day I eat a substantial amount of beans every week. My husband was born and raised in West Virginia and pinto beans were always a stable in his house. When we got married I had to learn to cook with pinto beans since I had only eaten black, white and navy beans previously. Now days we eat pinto beans regularly and my kids love them. This week I tried a new recipe for Pinto Bean Stew with Jalapeno Corn Dumplings from the April 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.

This recipe has 20 ingredients. It takes 9 hours in the slow cooker, 30 minutes of prep and makes 8 servings. I made a few changes to the original recipe. I allowed my beans to soak overnight. The overnight soaking method is the way that I prefer since it takes less active time than quick soaking on the stove. Since I eat gluten free I used brown rice four instead of the all purpose flour called for in the dumpling recipe. For the topping I let off the sliced radishes. My kids do not like them and my local grocery store didn't have them in stock. I let my beans cook on high for 8 hours and then another hour with the dumplings. I always allow my pinto beans to cook for at least this long. Beans in the crock-pot take a will in order to come out soft and flavorful.

The dumplings in this stew are the stars of this dish. The stew tasted like any other vegetarian chili and didn't leave a lasting impression. I thought that the pinto beans would be better cooked with a ham hock with the dumplings served on top. Pinto beans cooked in the slow cooker are delicious and the dumplings would work well with them as a topping. My two boys liked the chili (I seeded the jalapeno and used mild chili powder so it wasn't too spicy). They ate their servings and most of the leftovers.

For the recipe go to Pinto Bean Stew.

March 21, 2013

Crock Pot Italian Braised Pork

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Crock-Pot Italian Braised Pork

If you've read my blog for any given amount of time you know that I love my crock-pot. My weekdays tend to be busy and with two boys they are often chaotic. There are many great recipes that take hours to cook and are well worth it. However, oftentimes I need recipes that taste good while still being quick to prepare. I love that with the slow cooker all I have to do is add the ingredients in the morning and by dinner it is done without much fuss. Pork is one of my favorite crock-pot meals. It almost always turns out tender and makes enough for multiple meals. This week I tried a new recipe for Italian Braised Pork from the Everyday Food insert of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 4 hours 20 minutes of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I was unable to find a 2 1/2 pound pork shoulder so instead I bought a 7 pound roast and cut it to the correct size. Instead of using couscous, I substituted basmati rice. At the table I added chopped parsley.

I found that this recipe made way more than the 4 servings suggested by the recipe. There was enough for dinner for my family of four plus leftovers for two more lunches. The flavor of this dish is subtle so it would work well for people that love pork but aren't fans of a lot of spice in their dishes. My husband wished that it had had more of a kick. For similar people wanting a little more kick a small amount, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon, of crushed red pepper would create a little more heat.

For the recipe go to Italian Braised Pork.

March 20, 2013

Appalachian Spring - Early Ramps

 Today is the first day of spring. The weather in my area seems not to have noticed since it has been cold and not spring like. However, the first telltale sign of spring is sitting my fridge, early ramps. Now if you have read this blog for any given amount of time you will have noticed that every spring I talk about ramps. They are a stable of our spring meals and a great substitute for leeks or onions in recipes. While many people prefer the later ramps which have a green leafy top, I am a much bigger fan of the early ramps which are more flavorful and delicious with dishes like pot roast. I am lucky that my in-laws live in the foothills of the West Virginia mountains and are able to buy ramps for me as soon as they are available. They are definitely a great spring vegetable and a quintessential part of the diet of many Appalachians.

Today was the day that I cleaned and prepped the 2 pounds of ramps that have been sitting in my cold hallway for the last couple of days. Here is what an uncleaned early ramp looks like:

west virgnia, early ramps, appalachia
Uncleaned Early West Virginia Ramps


In case you have never seen or heard of a ramp before they are a basically a north American wild leek. Ramp patches are heavily guarded secrets for many families and are one of the first signs that spring has arrived. The ramps that I prefer are the early ramps which do not the green tops that are common in many ramps recipes. To me the early ramps have a stronger flavor and work more efficiently in roasted potato and chicken recipes than the ramps with green tops. As the photo above demonstrates early ramps are pretty dirty. Unless you spend the large amount more money to buy cleaned ramps you will be cleaning the ramps like I do. To clean just cut off the roots and be sure to soak off all the dirt. After they are cleaned they look like the photo below:

West Virginia, WV, Ramps, Early ramps, Appalachia
Cleaned West Virginia Early Ramps


Ramps can be used a variety of recipes. Early ramps are great pickled, used in pot roast, with roasted potatoes, or as a substitute for leeks or onions. My husband has even used them as a hot dog topping in place of onions. Later ramps with the green tops are great in pesto, biscuits, fried with bacon, or with pinto beans and cornbread. Stay tuned tomorrow when I will use ramps along with potatoes and pesto for a roasted chicken recipe.

March 19, 2013

Easy 30 MInute Orecchiette with Scallions and Pistachio Pesto

Click for vegetarian recipe for Orecchiette with Scallions and Pistachio Pesto
Gluten Free Orecchiette with Scallions and Pistachio Pesto

Spring has definitely arrived in my kitchen. While the weather in my area is stuck in winter I have been making an effort to start using spring vegetables in my recipes. There is something about making spring foods that always puts me in a better mood and makes me think ahead to the warmer months. My mother-in-law brought me down 2 pounds of ramps which I will be cleaning and posting about in the next couple of days. Spring onions are always a sure sign that the weather will be turning warmer soon. Pesto is a food that I make a lot of in the spring. There are so many flavor combinations that can be created and it is great on pasta, chicken or beef. Since my two boys are both in stages where they love pasta (and little else some days) I have been making most of my pesto to serve with pasta. Last week I tried  new recipe for Orecchiette with Scallions and Pistachio Pesto from Food and Wine magazine.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 6 servings. Since I eat gluten free I used gluten free orecchiette for this recipe. The recipe was very straight forward and I didn't make many changes. I did find that I had to add a significant amount of salt to the pesto in order for the flavors to come through. This was in addition to adding salted pistachios. Pesto can seem bland when not salted properly. I am a bit salt phobic, except when it comes to pesto. It really does need the taste of the salt in order for the other flavors to shine.

I had never tried gluten free orecchiette before. I sort of wish that I hadn't. There are a number of great gluten free pastas. I love brown rice ziti and spaghetti, however the orecchiette pretty much fell apart. With regular pasta this recipe would be delicious though and a great way to add a vegetarian menu option to your weekly meal plan. The pesto part of the recipe would also be delicious with chicken or fish if you are looking for a meat option.

For the recipe go to Orecchiette with Scallions and Pistachio Pesto.

March 18, 2013

Gluten Free Asparagus Pesto

click for recipe for gluten free asparagus pesto
Gluten Free Asparagus Pesto

Pork is king in my household. As I've discussed before the males in my house are huge pork fans. Especially bacon, lots and lots of bacon. Growing-up I was a little different. I was a vegetarian beginning freshman year of high-school. Luckily my parents were very supportive and I lived in the Pacific NW so there were numerous places to purchase great vegetarian food. I stayed a vegetarian until I moved to West Virginia. Between graduate school and anemia I decided that adding meat back in would be a  good idea. Then I met my husband who thought vegetables were a garnish for meat. Over the years I have slowly reformed him into eating meat as an ingredient and we eat one to two vegetarian dinners a week. This week we tried a new recipe for Asparagus Pesto from the April 2013 issue of Food and Wine magazine.

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes, all of which is active and makes enough for a pound of pasta. I did make a few changes. Since I eat gluten free I substituted gluten free ziti for spaghetti. I found that the pesto need a significant amount of salt for the flavor not to be bland, don't be afraid to add salt.

The basil flavor in this recipe comes through more than the asparagus. This recipe would be great for someone that wasn't a fan of asparagus, but still wanted the health benefits. Crumbled bacon would be a great addition to this dish as a topping. Overall, a great way to add spring flavor and even my youngest son loved it.

For the recipe go to Asparagus Pesto.

March 17, 2013

Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage

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Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage

I have had a full weekend of eating. Most weekends I try to cook and eat everything from scratch. However, this weekend was the first part of spring break for my oldest so everything was a little wacky. While I eat healthy 99 percent of the time this weekend was full of coffee and chocolate. I absolutely love dark chocolate and allow myself a treat at least once a month in order to keep my sanity. Since I was sick with strep for over two weeks my body wants everything that I normally don't eat so I have been allowing myself a little food self pampering. This week I will be back to my normal cooking and eating schedule. Last week when I was on antibiotics and slowly feeling more like myself I made a number of high protein pork dishes. My family loves pork and to me it is a great comfort food. One of the recipes I tried was for Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage from the March 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 5 hours (including marinating time) and makes 4 servings. I did make a few changes. First since I can't have regular beer I used gluten free beer. I also use a soy sauce which does not have wheat. For the marinating I allowed the pork to sit in the sauce for 5 hours. I ran out of butter right before making this recipe so instead of using butter I substituted canola oil. The recipe has the cabbage cook for 20 minutes, but my husband prefers his cabbage very soft so I let it cook for another 5 minutes. I did have to add a slight bit more water in order that the cabbage did not burn.

The pork in this recipe was very tender. My two boys ate almost an entire tenderloin by themselves, which is a good sign that they loved the recipe. The only thing that I would change is to double the sauce in order that there is enough to pour over the pork on the plate. I also love cabbage and would have liked more than the recipe made so I would double the amount of cabbage. Overall a simple recipe with lots of flavor and one that I would make again.

For the recipe go to Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage.

March 14, 2013

Nacho Burgers with Homemade Hamburger Buns

click for Recipe for Nacho Burgers with Homemade Hamburger Buns
Nacho Burgers with Homemade Hamburger Buns

Burgers. The word can mean a whole paragraph to a lot of people. Growing-up my dad was very lacking in the cooking department, so much so that he was able to ruin boxed macaroni and cheese on multiple occasions. However, he completely redeemed himself when in came to the grill. Not just any grill, it had to be charcoal and it had to be done just so. I'm not exaggerating, there was a whole art. The hamburgers that my dad made on the grill where a treat and one of my favorite foods growing-up. I didn't think I would ever meet another man so much in love with his grill and grilling. Then I met my husband. Over the years I have heard rant after rant after rant about the superiority of a charcoal grill and how great hamburgers can be when done right. In the summer we still grill a lot, but in the winter I have moved our grilling indoors. I agree with my husband and dad that the taste isn't as great, but my feet stay warm and the burgers are still delicious even when done on my indoor open faced electric grill. In the summer we will go back to the giant grill and side smoker, but in the meantime we will enjoy our chicken and beef inside. This week I tried a new recipe for Nacho Burgers from the March 2013 issue of Food and Wine magazine.
Click for recipe for gluten free nacho burgers
Gluten Free Version of Nacho Burgers


This recipe has 7 ingredients in the salsa, 8 in the cheese sauce and 7 ingredients for the actual burgers. It takes 35 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did make a few changes to the recipe. First as I try to always do I ground my own beef. It really takes very little time to grind your own meat either in a food processor or like with the attachment I use on my mixer. The texture is phenomenal and the quality is significantly superior. Instead of using store bought buns I made my hamburger buns from scratch. They are easy to make and are great for sandwiches. Since I eat gluten free I substituted brown rice flour for the all-purpose in the cheese sauce. When making the sauce add a little bit of milk at a time in order for the sauce to thicken correctly. If you add the milk all at once it will be too thin. I substituted non-fat milk for the milk in recipe since it is the only milk we keep in the house. I cooked the burgers on my indoor electric open faced grill. The cooking time was slightly longer, especially since I make sure that my burgers temp correctly since my kids are eating them.

Food and Wine magazine claim that these are the best burgers ever. Hmm. I did think that the toppings were delicious, the cheese sauce was nice and the salsa was great both on the burger and with the chips as a side. However, it would be a stretch to say it is the best burger I've ever had. The actual patty is just plain beef, no fillings, no nothing. I think that the recipe could be improved by adding more to the patty itself, such as cayenne, garlic powder, ancho something that keeps the flavor but also adds a little bit of moisture. It would be nice if the cheese sauce was in the burger instead of on top, incorporating the cheese or adding more to the burger itself would take this burger from being okay to being great.

For the recipe go to Nacho Burgers.

March 13, 2013

Chocolate Avocado Shakes

click for recipe for chocolate avocado shake, can be made vegan
Chocolate Avocado Shake

I made cookies of the first time in almost a month today and the males in my house ate them within a couple of hours. It always amazes me how they claim that they don't really like sweets and then eat a ton of them. I have been attempting to limit the amount of sweets that my family eats and I have been successful except for the whining. The last couple of weeks I have heard a lot of whining including my oldest telling me that I didn't love him as much anymore since I hadn't made him cookies as an after school snack. Instead of cookies and baked goods I have been trying to make sweeter snacks that are healthy as well as delicious. I absolutely love avocados and recently have read a number of sweet recipes that incorporate them. Today I tried a new recipe for Chocolate Avocado Shakes from the April 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes 10 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 2 servings. For the milk I used vanilla almond milk, maple syrup for the sweetener and dark chocolate chips for the chocolate. If you wanted to make the recipe vegan you could use nondairy chips. I used the ice setting on my blender to blend everything up since I wanted to make sure that there were no large ice chips.

These shakes were a little too adult tasting for my kids. My husband and I really enjoyed them, but my two boys thought that they tasted weird. That was fine by me since it meant that there were more for me. I like that this recipe is high in potassium since my potassium got dangerously low last winter so I make sure to eat a large variety of high potassium foods. It is also full of healthy fats; avocados are a great way to add healthy fats into your diet and this recipe is nice since it is also sweet.

For the recipe go to Chocolate Avocado Shake.

March 12, 2013

Easy Enchiladas Suizas with Ground Turkey and Zucchini Filing

click for recipe for Enchiladas Suizas with Ground Turkey and Zucchini Filling
Enchiladas Suizas with Ground Turkey and Zucchini Filling

Salt is always a battle in my household. My husband and two boys could literally eat it straight from the shaker while I would be fine never salting anything. I know your thinking how can a self proclaimed foodie and food blogger hate salt. I seem to be a little bit of the odd one out. Chefs and foodies love salt. It adds flavor and substance to dishes and many chefs claim that over salting if always better than under salting. I salt all my recipes. I just don't add more than is necessary. Salt is absolutely essential for dishes to taste correctly, but I also believe that most Americans overuse salt, sometimes to an extreme. There is a happy medium where the flavor of dishes come through while keeping my blood pressure nice and low. It's also all about moderation as it should be with all food. If I make a dish high in salt one day I try to compensate and make something low in sodium the next. That way everyone is happy and we will all still live until we're at least 90. This week I tried a new recipe for Enchiladas Suizas from the April 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 60 minutes of total time, 40 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First for the turkey I used 93 percent lean, I substituted non-fat half and half for regular and mild salsa instead of medium since my kids would be eating it. Instead of heating each tortilla individually on the stove, I heated them in two sets in the microwave in between a moist set of paper towels for 40 seconds. I also skipped the step of heating the salsa mixture before adding the cheese, I was in a rush and needed dinner of the table as quickly as possible. Finally make sure to squeeze out the water from the zucchini. The recipe doesn't state this step and it is essential. Place the grated zucchini between paper towels and squeeze. A large amount of water will come out. Without this step the turkey will never brown and your enchiladas will be soggy.

I really like how easy this recipe is to prepare. The spices used in the turkey mixture were delicious and my whole family really liked the filling. I do think that there wasn't enough sauce to fully coat all the enchiladas. I would recommend making a double batch of sauce (you won't need it all you can freeze the extra). If you are a big cheese lover I would also suggest adding slightly more cheese to the top. The magazine picture shows more cheese than would actually be there if you only used 3/4 of a cup like the recipe suggests.

For the recipe go to Enchiladas Suizas (registration required).

March 11, 2013

Sweet Chili Rolls with Homemade Hamburger Buns

click for recipe for sweet chili rolls with homemade hamburger buns
Sweet Chili Rolls with Homemade Hamburger Buns

I am finally feeling back to normal after having strep throat. Luckily I got antibiotics this weekend and after being sick for almost two weeks, I am feeling somewhat back to normal. I don't think that winter and me get along, I never seem to get a little sick, I get very sick. Last winter it was pneumonia and this winter it was strep. I promise that my posting schedule will be back to normal this week, things have been a little crazy while I was sick. When I get sick I rely heavily on my crock-pot to cook, I love it. There is nothing easier than taking out the ingredients in the morning, putting them in the slow cooker and by dinner it smells and tastes delicious. Last week I tried a new recipe for Sweet Chili Rolls from the October 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.
click for recipe for Sweet Chili Rolls with Homemade Gluten Free Hamburger Buns
Sweet Chili Rolls with Homemade Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 8 hours 15 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 8 serving. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First instead of using store bought buns I made my own. For my family I made regular hamburger buns and for me a gluten free version. For the ketchup I used the kind that uses real sugar. I try to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup that my family consumes and a lot of brands of ketchup are full of it. I am a big proponent of label reading. Instead of canned pinto beans I made them from scratch. It is much cheaper to buy beans dried and prepare them. I make big batches at a time and then freeze them in small containers that are equal to the amount in 15 ounce cans. Finally, since it isn't Vidalia season I used a regular sweet onion.

My two boys really loved these sandwiches. They left off the cheddar cheese for their servings and my husband used pepper jack on his. The recipe claims that it makes 8 servings, but it made more than enough for my family of 4 with a large number of leftovers. The sandwiches are a little sweet, which could be adjusted by adding a spicier chili powder.

For the recipe go to Sweet Chili Rolls. (registration required)

March 9, 2013

Easy Homemade Tomato Soup

click for a recipe for easy homemade tomato soup
Homemade Tomato Soup


I love comfort food. There is something so great about a home cooked meal that can completely turn my mood around or make me feel better after I have been sick. Everyone has their favorite comfort food. My two boys prefer macaroni and cheese, while my husband loves pinto beans and cornbread. I love a number of different comfort foods, but my favorite combination is grilled cheese and tomato soup. There is something so delicious about a great bowl of tomato soup and a perfectly cooked grilled cheese sandwich. Canned soup just doesn't do it for me, for tasty tomato soup I must have homemade. Fresh tomatoes made into a simple tomato soup are easy and perfect. The taste of the tomatoes shines through and just makes me feel great. Last week I tried a new recipe for Tomato Soup from the February issue of All You magazine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 60 minutes of total time, 30 minutes of which is active. I did make a number of changes to this recipe. First I just made the soup and not the cheddar croutons. Second I pureed the some while it was still warm. Just make sure that the lid is firmly attached and place a rag over the top to ensure that you do not get burned. I did allow the soup to cook for an additional 10 minutes after it was pureed to ensure it was the proper thickness.

If you want to make the soup a cream of tomato soup you can add half and half or heavy cream instead of the water. You could also add the half and half or heavy cream at the end of the recipe before serving and allow it to cook for an additional five minutes. I like that this soup is simple and lets the flavor of the tomatoes shine through. Make sure to adequately salt the soup, it will need it. Overall, a great recipe that worked well as a side for grilled cheese sandwiches and I would definitely make again.

For the recipe go to Tomato Soup. 

March 8, 2013

Grilled Cheese with Bourbon Melted Onions and Homemade Bread

click for a recipe for grilled cheese with bourbon melted onions and homemade bread
Grilled Cheese with Bourbon Melted Onion and Homemade Bread

Today the weather was mild and it made me think about spring. I love spring and I am so ready to start my garden and enjoy the warmer weather. One of the other things i love about spring are the vegetables. In my house spring vegetables means one thing, ramps. Haven grown-up in Seattle I had never heard of a ramp before moving to West Virginia. Then I happened to marry someone from the edge of the Monongahela National Forest and the heart of ramp country. The first year we were married his mom brought us a large bag of dirty roots, I thought she was crazy. Then my husband explained that they had to be cleaned first and then could be used the same way as a onion or leek. I feel in love with them. Now every March I start asking my mother-in-law if the ramps have started to appear. With the warmer weather and start of March I am busy thinking about all the dishes that I will make this spring. Onions in general are a big spring item in my household and this week I tried a new recipe for Grilled Cheese with Bourbon Melted Onions from Redbook Magazine.

click for recipe for gluten free grilled cheese with bourbon melted onions
Gluten Free Grilled Cheese with Bourbon Melted Onions

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 33 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 4 sandwiches. I made two versions of this sandwich, one for my husband and two boys and one for me. For my version I used gluten free bread, which I made from scratch and for the version for my family I made homemade crusty bread using the Dutch oven. For the cheese I followed the suggestion and used Gruyere and Sharp Cheddar. Instead of grilling the sandwiches on the stove I used my indoor electric griddle. I love using my griddle, it reduces the chance of burning and the crust always comes out even.

I served the sandwiches with tomato soup and the combination was delicious. The recipe for the tomato soup will be up on my blog tomorrow night. My boys ate their servings without the onions. They aren't fans of onions, but love grilled cheese sandwiches so they loved them none the less. My husband absolutely loved the sandwiches with the homemade bread and ate three for dinner. This recipe was definitely a hit and can be modified to use whatever type of cheese you prefer.

For the recipe go to Grilled Cheese with Bourbon Melted Onions.

March 6, 2013

30 Minute Roasted Tomato and Pancetta Pasta

click for a a very easy 30 minute roasted tomato and pancetta pasta recipe
Gluten Free Tomato, Red Onion, and Pancetta Pasta Topped with Goat Cheese


My oldest is in another food phase. Currently he has decided that he isn't eating cheese. It's somewhat amusing since cheese used to be one of his favorite foods, but now he will pick it out. My guess is that he has learned some of these habits from my husband and I . While we both love food we also have definite opinions on what we do and don't like. For example my husband eats a vegetable and beans at every meal as part of his diet. I am horrible about vegetables. I eat more than enough fruit, but I only eat vegetables at dinner (this will be one of my food habits that I will be working on in the next year). My husband is the opposite, he can eat more spinach than anyone I know, but hates any fruit. So I try to find foods that everyone in my family can compromise upon. Tomatoes and pasta are two foods that my family absolutely loves. Tonight I tried a new recipe for Roasted Tomato and Pancetta Pasta from the Everyday Food insert of the March 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First since I eat gluten free I used gluten free pasta. Second my store doesn't carry cherry tomatoes during the winter so I substituted grape tomatoes. I also increased the cooking time by ten minutes, used canola oil instead of olive oil and pressed down on the tomatoes after they were roasted to ensure that they were fully burst. Finally, I topped the servings with goat cheese.

My oldest son loved this recipe. He ate his whole serving, which is the most he has eaten for dinner in weeks. My husband liked the flavors, but thought that the total amount of pancetta should be doubled or swapped for uncured chopped bacon. Then again the males in my family think that everything needs more bacon. I did not add the extra pasta water at the end, but instead poured the juices from the roasted tomatoes into the pasta, which created a nice flavor.

For the recipe go to Roasted Tomato and Pancetta Pasta.

March 5, 2013

Flavorful Tomato Yogurt Chicken Curry

click for a flavorful recipe for tomato yogurt chicken curry


The area which I live in is slowly getting better about having food other than pizza as dining options. We live in a college town so the majority of food involves a meal with fries or pizza, lots and lots of pizza. Since I eat gluten free pizza doesn't hold the same appeal as it did before my diagnosis. When I first moved and met my husband their were only a few ethnic restaurants and almost all of them were Mexican food. I quickly learned that I was going to have to learn to cook as many things as I could at home or be stuck with the frozen ethnic aisle (which is never great) at our local grocery store. So I bought a ton of cookbooks and failed at making a lot of dishes. However, I kept trying and talking to friends about the dishes that they grew up making in their various households and I learned that with practice all food is doable. Now I look at recipes for the flavors and feel confident that I can make a large variety of foods. Tonight I tried a new recipe for Tomato Yogurt Chicken Curry from the October 2012 issue of the Food Network Magazine.

This recipe has 18 ingredients. It takes 1 hour 15 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 4 to 6 servings. I made a few modifications to this recipe. Since I was cooking for my kids (and I have never actually seen them at our local stores) I left out the dried arbol chiles. 14.5 ounce cans of whole tomatoes are another rarity in my area so I bought a 28 ounce can and weighed out the needed amount of tomatoes and liquid. I had leftover baby red potatoes from another recipes so I cut them into fourths and used approximately 10 of them for this recipe. Finally I used 2 percent Greek yogurt not whole since it was what I already had in the fridge.

Using a dutch oven really does make this recipe easier to make. If you haven't already bought a dutch oven they are a great kitchen tool and make it much easier to make soups, stews and curries. Based on my family I would say that this recipe serves 4 people. If you want a larger amount or leftovers I would suggest doubling the recipe. Overall this was a nice basic Indian curry recipe that can be adjusted to suit your desired spiciness level.

For the recipe go to Tomato Yogurt Chicken Curry.

March 4, 2013

Mediterranean Rigatoni

click for a delicious Mediterranean chicken pasta with olives, tomatoes and feta

My two boys have decided that they are chefs lately. They enjoy taking things from around the house and my fridge and making a dish. Most of the time they claim that they are experimenting. I think they might watch too many cooking shows with me since they are always creating something with food that they find. They have made some things that I have to admit were pretty good. Yogurt seems to be their specialty lately, they have discovered some combination that have actually turned out pretty well. I love that they like to cook and they don't see it as a pursuit that only girls should do, which I think is great. I try to reinforce with my two boys that they should learn how to do everything around the house since it's always a good idea to be self sufficient. Teaching my kids to cook is something that is very important to me and my oldest helps me with dinner at least three times a week. Tonight for dinner my son helped me make Mediterranean Rigatoni from the March 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 26 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. Since I eat gluten free I used gluten free ziti. I have never seen cubed feta in my area so I bought whole feta and crumbled it instead. After the pasta was done I added it to the sauce and allowed it to cook with the tomatoes until they started to break up. My husband isn't a fan of firm fresh tomatoes so I always allow them to cook slightly longer than recipes call for.

If you have a family that likes a lot of protein in their food I would suggest adding more chicken to this dish. Since their is only a pound of meat for six servings, there isn't a lot of chicken per bite. I would double the chicken and the amount of tomatoes. The flavors are nice and I liked the taste of the olives and fresh oregano. A balsamic vinegar reduction would also be delicious with this dish and the flavors would make the dish even better.

Currently this recipe isn't available online (Family Circle's decision not mine :). Here is the link to the photo on their site or you can find the recipe in the March 2013 issue of the magazine. 

March 3, 2013

Cornbread Made Two Ways - Sweet and Gluten Free and Southern Style

click for a recipe for sweet gluten free cornbread
Gluten Free Sweet Cornbread

My husband and I agree on most things, except cornbread. Since he has lived his whole life in West Virginia he insists that his cornbread have absolutely no sugar and the pan be greased with bacon drippings. I on the other hand grew-up far away in Seattle and my idea of cornbread normally came from a box or our local Marie Callender's Restaurant. Sweet would be an understatement. Not only do I like sugar in my cornbread I also slather it with honey or sorghum syrup and butter before eating it. I have a minor sweet tooth as you can tell. When we got married I made cornbread. My husband wasn't impressed. He commenced to explain (and demonstrate) the correct way to make his version of cornbread. I wasn't impressed with his salty cornbread, so we agreed to disagree. I also learned to make two batches, one for him with salt and one for me with lots of sugar. Tonight for dinner was no exceptions I tried one new recipe for Gluten Free Golden Sweet Cornbread from Allrecipes.com and one for Southern Cornbread from the Food Network.

First up the Golden Sweet Cornbread (picture at the top of the page). This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes a total time of 35 minutes, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 12 servings. I did make a few changes. The original recipe is not gluten free, so instead of all-purpose flour I used 1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour and a 1/2 cup of brown rice flour. Instead of regular milk I substituted low-fat buttermilk, I prefer the taste in cornbread. Finally, I baked the cornbread in a square 9 inch glass pan instead of the round pan suggested by the recipe, which gave me a total of 9 servings.

click for recipe for southern style cornbread
Southern Style Cornbread


The Southern Cornbread has 8 ingredients. It takes 45 minutes of total time, 25 minutes of which is active and make 9 servings (4-6 according to the Food Network). I followed this recipe pretty similar to how it was written, with only a few changes. I greased the pan with bacon drippings. My husband insists this makes for a better crust and I have been doing this method since we were first married. By now it is second nature to me. I found that my cooking time was closer to 25 minutes since I reduced the temperature to 400 degrees so I could cook both batches of cornbread at the same time.

The sweet cornbread was definitely sweet. It was sweet enough that I just ate it plain with no honey. If you want to add something sweet on top I would suggest reducing the sugar to 1/3 cup. My husband really liked the Southern Cornbread. It was perfect for him since it has absolutely no sugar and tasted slightly like salt, which he loves. My two boys had some of each kind and seemed to like them both (good boys!).

For the recipes go to Golden Sweet Cornbread and Southern Cornbread.

March 2, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Stew and Easy Homemade Cornbread Recipe



The winter weather seems to be back in my area. It has been spitting snow all day, which just makes me want to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. I love winter weather for about a month, then I get increasing sick of it. I am one of those people that loves when the seasons change and then quickly get tired of the new season. Now there are some seasons that I like more than others, winter being pretty far down the list. One of the things that saves winter for me is the food. I am a huge fan of soups and stews and fall and winter are the perfect time of the year to prepare them. Approximately once a week (at least) during the winter I pull out my slow cooker and try a new stew recipe. I find stew in the winter comforting and makes the cold weather more bearable. Last week I tried a new recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Stew and Homemade Cornbread from the February 2013 issue of All You magazine.



The beef stew recipe has 17 ingredients and the cornbread has 8 ingredients. The cornbread takes a total of 25 minutes, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 9 servings. The beef stew recipe takes a total of 8 1/2 hours, 30 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I did make a few changes to the recipes. For the beef stew instead of all-purpose flour I used brown rice flour. I made my own beef broth from scratch. If you have never made beef broth before it is very easy. Roast 2 onions, 2 carrots and 1 pound of beef bones in the oven at 425 for 40 minutes. When they are done roasting add them to a large stock pot, add 12 peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of parsley and cover with water. Bring to boil and then turn down to a low simmer for 4-6 hours. The longer you cook the stock the stronger the flavor. I chose not to top my stew with cilantro since my kids have decided that they currently won't eat it. For the cornbread I only made a few changes. First I used low-fat buttermilk instead of full fat. I try to limit my dairy fats and low-fat buttermilk is a great way to do it. Since I was not eating the cornbread I did not make it gluten-free, but instead made the recipe as written.

This beef stew has a little bit of a kick from the chilies and chipotle pepper. I topped my boys servings with a little bit of sour cream to cut down on the spiciness, My husband and I didn't find that the dish was that spicy, but my boys noticed immediately. I like that the beef turned out very tender and the parsnips gave the beef a delicious sweet root vegetable undertone.

For the recipes go to Beef Stew and Homemade Cornbread.

March 1, 2013

Homemade Crusty Bread Using a Dutch Oven


After my husband and I were married my mother-in-law gave me a bread machine. I have never made bread before and had always bought it from the store. The first couple of loaves that I made turned out okay, not great. Then I finally found my groove and made approximately two loaves a week. Eventually the bread machine broke and I decided that instead of buying a new one I would make my bread by hand. I fell in love with hand made loaves. The texture and shape were so different and there is something so therapeutic about kneading bread. Today I modified a new recipe for Homemade Crusty Bread to be baked in dutch oven for a perfect crust.

The recipe I modified has 4 ingredients. It takes 4 hours of total time, a half an hour of which is active and makes 12 servings. I made a number of modifications to the original recipes. First I did not use a mixer to make my dough. Instead I kneaded my dough by hand for a total of 8 minutes. I combined the flour, salt and yeast and then added the water and stirred using a plastic spatula. Then I kneaded the dough. I followed the rests the same as the recipe. However, instead of two loaves I made one large loaf. For the cooking of the bread, I pre-heated a dutch oven at 425 degrees for a 1/2 hour during the breads final rise. Then I put the bread in the dutch oven, put on the lid and let it bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I took off the lid and let it cook for an additional 15 minutes.

The crust on this bread turned out perfect. My boys and husband loved it. It would be great for grilled cheese sandwiches or just with butter.  Using the dutch oven was perfect for making a great crust, but if you don't have one the steam method used in the recipe would be an alternative. Overall a great recipe that I would definitely use again.

For the recipe go to Homemade Crusty Bread.

My Guest Post for Homemade Dinner Rolls

If you have read my blog for any given amount of time you know that my family loves bread. Homemade bread is a great way to make something comforting and delicious. My mother-in-law shared her recipe for homemade yeast rolls with me a while back and I am sharing it over at Fun Recipe Friday on Happy Kids, Inc. as a guest post today. They are always a hit at any holiday meal and are melt in your mouth yummy! You can find my post and the recipe at Homemade Yeast Rolls.
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