Thursday, February 28, 2008

Make the most of your meat

On Monday night we cooked a Pork Roast. We made a simple marinade and then served it in slices (cubes for the kids) as the main dish for our meal.
The best part about it is that now we have 2 cups of leftover meat that we can turn into another night's dinner.
Cooking more meat than you might need for a recipe is a good idea because it makes the rest of the week a little bit easier. I try to do this as often as possible so I have an easy night during the week when I know that dinner is not going to take as much time.
We are turning our leftover pork roast into

Quick Chow Mein
2 cups cooked meat, cut into 1/2-inch strips or cubes
2 Tbs chopped onion
1/2 green pepper, cut in strips
1 1/2 cups celery, diagonally sliced
1 Tbs oil
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup cold water
cooked rice

Heat oil in wok or electric skillet. Stir-fry meat and onion until lightly browned.
Add chicken broth. Lower heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add green pepper and celery; cover and cook 5 minutes.
Mix cornstarch, soy sauce and cold water. Add to meat and cook, stirring until thick. Serve immediately over cooked rice.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever leftover vegetables you have- mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, or whatever and also whatever meat you have left over.
Quick and Easy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Our newest grocery picks- Pomelo and Broccoflower

Broccoflower- This is a mix between cauliflower and broccoli. It looks more like cauliflower and the texture is like cauliflower, but tastes more like broccoli. We steamed it and it was a hit!

Pomelo- This is larger than a grapefruit and the skin is very thick! It was extremely hard to get to the fruit but it was sweeter than a grapefruit and quite good. For more info on pomelo- click the link

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Red Velvet Peppermint Cake

The link for the Red Velvet Peppermint cake is here. It is delicious!


Last night we had some leftover root vegetables-carrots, turnips, and parsnips. I decided we could roast them in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and dill. Then, this morning I got my mail and there was the new issue of Cooking Light. One of the first recipes in the issue was Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Glaze. The picture looked just like our dinner last night!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pesto Pizza-Very Tasty

This is one of the pizza combinations we made for our recent birthday celebration
Pesto Pizza
1 pound chicken breast tenders
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
3 tbsp. pesto
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 medium zucchini, halved twice and thinly slice
yellow, red, orange, and green bell peppers, thinly sliced
mushrooms, thinly sliced

Pizza dough: 3 and a half cups flour
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. yeast
2 tbsp. honey
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp of salt

Mix ingredients for pizza dough ahead of time and let rise for 1/2 hours. Cook chicken for a few minutes, in a little bit of oil over medium high heat, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Before it is cooked through, add zucchini. Add more Italian seasoning and cook until chicken is done and zucchini is tender.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray round or 12 by 8 pan. Put pizza dough on pan. Bake for 6 minutes on 450 degrees. Spread pesto evenly over pizza crust. Top with chicken/zucchini mixture, peppers, and mushrooms. Put cheese on top. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until cheese melts.

Monkey Cake and Jaguar Cupcakes

This monkey cake was so fun to make and the actual cake/frosting combo was very tasty.
It was a banana cake with chocolate and regular buttercream frosting. It was not very easy to pipe the frosting onto the cake, but it was worth the effort.

Baby Jaguar Cupcakes were fun to make also. I used a cake mix and store bought frosting, which also is not as easy to use as decorator frosting for details. The kids loved these.

Lunch Ideas

A friend asked me to post some ideas to make lunch a little more exciting. When I am done she might be sorry, but here goes!


Bugs Bunny Favorite- In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cups raisins, and 2 Tbs. orange juice. Add to basic tuna recipe: 1-6 1/2 oz can tuna, 2 Tbs light mayo or plain yogurt, 1/2 very small chopped onion, and 2 tsp. lemon juice. Toss with 1,2 cup shredded romaine lettuce. Roll in a spinach tortilla and cut in half.

Supreme Bean- Combine 1 cup drained black beans to basic tuna recipe(above). Roll up in whole wheat tortilla.

Crack-up- Add 1 chopped hard-boiled egg and 2 Tbs. finely chopped dill to basic tuna recipe. Spread on 8 crackers and top with 8 crackers.

Baked Potato- Bake a couple potatoes in the microwave (they have ones that are pre-wrapped at the store) and top with Bacon bits, shredded cheese, broccoli, chili, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds or whatever you want.

Peanut Butter Ideas

Banana-Rama- Top 4 rice crackers with 2 tsp fruit spread. Top 4 more crackers with 2 tsp pb. Slice a banana and drizzle with lemon juice. Place banana on fruit spread and top with other crackers.

Apple Bites- Mix 1/2 cup smooth pb, 1/4 cup golden raisins, and 1/4 cup wheat squares cereal. Thinly slice an apple without cutting into the core. Drizzle apple slices with lemon juice and spread pb mixture on half the apple slices- top with remaining slices

Berry Patch- Break 4 graham crackers in half to make 8 squares. Top all squares with 1 tsp pb and place sliced strawberries on 4 crackers. Cover with remaining crackers.

Pita Pizza- Put the toppings and sauce and cheese inside a pita or cut it in half lengthwise and make it that way.

Pasta or Rice- Cook pasta or rice in advance and mix with tuna or chopped chicken or beans, any veggie-tomatoes, green beans, celery, carrots, peppers, zucchini, and then mix with some salad dressing-italian, balsamic vinaigrette (my fave), sesame ginger, greek or ranch

Eggs-Scrambled or Hard-boiled or an omelet or frittata- eggs are good for anytime of the day

Mini-Bagels- these are sometimes fun for kids to put sandwiches on. play around with the filling. You could do pesto, mozzarella, and fresh tomato slices; cheese cubes, peppers, romaine and salad dressing (in a pita too)

Ham and Cheese Hot-dog- Stack 3 pieces of low-fat ham and wrap around a cheesestick, place in a hot-dog bun and spread a little mustard on top. serve with pretzels, fruit and milk

Finger Foods- Serve cubes of cheese, grapes, hummus, crunchy breadsticks, baby carrots, other veggies to dip and whatever else that kids can eat with their fingers

Mandarin Chicken- mix 1/4 cup mandarin oranges, 1/3 cup shredded chicken breast, 1/3 cup steamed broccoli and 1/4 cup chow mein noodles.

Macaroni Salad- 1/4 cup pizza sauce, 1/3 cup peas, 1 cup macaroni noodles, and 1/4 cup diced mozzarella cheese

Taco Salad-1/4 cup salsa, 1/3 cup rinsed black beans, 3/4 cup chopped lettuce, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 1/3 cup baked (or not) tortilla chips-broken up

Ham and Cheese Roll-ups- Unroll a can of refrigerated cresent dough (I use reduced fat) , divide into 8 triangles, and spread a little mustard down the middle of each. Wrap a small slice of cheese inside a piece of ham, place on the mustard and roll into a cresent. Bake accordingly. I always serve this with edamame.


Bean and cheese roll-up Spread refried beans on a tortilla, cover with shredded cheese and put under broiler until the cheese is melted. Cut with a pizza roller into 8 pieces and then roll those pieces up into cresent shapes.

Baked Ravioli with Dipping Sauce- this is a recipe that I tried a few years ago and it is worth the time!

Chicken Noodle Soup


Macaroni and Cheese with veggies

Most of the recipes above are for 1 serving so double or triple according to how many people you are feeding

Some of these ideas may take a little more thought beforehand and a little bit more effort but it is worth it to get out of a rut.

Also there are some really cute kid cookbooks that have great, fast and easy lunch ideas, as well as ideas for any other time of the day. Some of my Favorites are:

Sesame Street C is for Cooking

Better Homes and Gardens- Kid Favorites Made Healthy

BH&G- Junior Cookbook

Pillsbury Junior Cookbook

Anything by Annabel Karmel especially Lunch Boxes and Snacks

You can get them for a good price at Amazon

There you have it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Our Monthly Cooking Class

A group of women in my neighborhood decided to get together once a month and have a cooking class. There really isn't a set format- we choose a subject or food we want to learn about and then someone volunteers to demonstrate in their home and we all get to eat. Not a bad set up if you ask me.

Last night we learned how to make a versatile dish that has interchangable ingredients and is fast and easy to prepare.

Chicken Bake

Cut two chicken breasts (the meat) into bite size pieces and saute in 1 Tbs hot oil with 3 cloves of garlic minced, until golden. Then put the heat to low and let it cook for 15 minutes, covered.

Spray a 9*13-inch pan with cooking spray and layer whole wheat tortillas, torn into 1 inch strips, on the bottom of the pan. Make sure the tortillas cover the entire dish. Spread half of the cooked chicken over the top, 4 oz. of green chiles (or green pepper or scallions, whatever you have on hand) and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Repeat the layers again starting with the tortillas, and ending with the cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together 8-10 eggs, 1/4 -1/2 cup skim milk, 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp each of pepper, salt,garlic powder,chili powder, and thyme.

Pour the egg mixture over the top of the casserole and place 12-15 thin slices of tomatoes on the top.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

This recipe can also be made with 1 lb. browned sausage or ground beef.

She served it with Rice- 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water. fry the rice in 2 Tbls oil for a couple of minutes, and the super hot water, bring to a boil, and boil for 4 minutes. Then turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.

She also made a chocolate cake (mix) and showed us a frosting recipe

Take 8 oz. cream cheese, softened and 1 cup powdered sugar and blend with a hand mixer. Add 1/2 cup sour cream and mix a little more. Fold in 8-10 oz Cool Whip and spread on top of cooled cake. This is also a good topping for jello.

This week's cookbook of interest

If you have ever walked in my front door, then you know that I have a major weakness- Cookbooks! I love looking through them to get ideas and I just find them really interesting, as I love reading and books in general. I was looking through this particular cookbook and thought that everything sounded so good and also liked how The Barefoot Contessa described her home and attitude about casual entertaining. Here are the recipes I want to try, the ones that caught my eye.
Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Pesto Pea Salad
Lamb Kebabs with couscous
Zucchini Pancakes
Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes
Frozen Berries with Hot White Chocolate
Pumpkin Mousse Parfait
Black and White Angel Food Cake

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pepperoni Pizza Sandwich

How can anyone not like cheese? My son doesn't, unless of course it is melted on pizza. That is the one exception. One day, I was making grilled cheese sandwiches, but he wanted pizza. The PIZZA SANDWICH was born.
I take two slices of bread and spread soft butter on the outsides.
Then I spread pizza sauce on the inside of one piece and put in on the hot griddle.
Next comes a layer of mozzarella cheese, a layer of turkey pepperoni (a healthier option, not as greasy), and another layer of cheese
I spread pizza sauce on the inside of the other piece of bread and place that slice of bread, sauce side down on top of the layer of cheese.
From there on out it is treated as a grilled cheese sandwich.
The taste of pizza, but the ease of a sandwich- could you ask for anything more?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

This Week's Menu

In case anyone needs ideas for dinner this week, I thought I would post what we are making at my house.
Sunday- Spinach Pesto Manicotti, steamed broccoli, rolls, apricots dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and chopped pistachios
Monday- Bean Burritos, Romaine Salad with Tomatoes and Green Pepper
Wednesday-Pizza Sandwiches, Edamame, Baby Carrots, Apples
Thursday- Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes, Turkey Bacon
Friday- Lemon-Dill Tilapia, Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Red Potatoes

Notes- the manicotti calls for ground beef but I always use ground turkey instead (in almost all recipes). Most of the time I use ground turkey breast ,but this time I used Lean Ground Turkey 93% lean. It was really good.

Carrot Cake

This is the literal carrot cake I made my younger brother for his birthday last year. I doubled the recipe and made 1- 9 by 13-inch cake for the carrot part and 1- 8 by 8-inch cake for the greens. He loves carrot cake, so I took a hint from Clare Crespo's The Secret Life of Food and made a giant carrot. This is also a healthy cake, so give it a try!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups grated carrot
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter and lightly flour the cake pans. (2- 8 or 9-inch rounds, 1- 13 by9 by 2-inch pan, 24 cupcakes) Sprinkle the carrots with the lemon juice and stir in the zest; add the raisins and, and if desired, walnuts, and set aside.
3. In an electric mixer or food processor, cream the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, oil, and honey. Sift together the dry ingredients and gradually add them to the mixture, stirring just until smooth. Stir the carrot mixture evenly into the batter and pour into prepared pans.
4. Bake 35 minutes for round cake pans, 40 minutes for 9 by 13, and 20 minutes for cupcakes, or until the top feels firm to the touch. Wait for the cakes to cool before removing them from the pans.

7 ounces cream cheese
3 1/2 Tbls milk
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a medium mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese and milk until soft and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in sugar.
3. Add the vanilla and blend until smooth.
note- this icing can be dyed with food color paste to make it more fun!