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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Marshmallow Pops

We are entering the second week of my husband's "business trip". I have been home alone with the three kids. The last couple days though, they've been pretty good. Only minor mishaps. So today I thought I'd reward them by letting them make and eat some super sugary treats. I may pay for it later though.

We made marshmallow pops with a fall colored theme.

Our ingredients were:

Large marshmallows
yellow and orange sprinkles
chocolate frosting
white chocolate Lindt truffle balls
white lolli pop sticks

Since there were only two of them eating these, I only used 6 marshmallows. I melted a couple spoonfulls of chocolate frosting and in a separate bowl, I melted two of the truffles.

We put the marshmallows on the sticks and dipped them into the chocolates and then we added sprinkles.

I ate one and they were actually pretty good. I'm sure though that at any second, I'm going to go into sugar overload and start shaking. The kids loved making them and eating them. All in all, a sweet success.






Monday, September 26, 2011

Brown Butter Green Beans

I love vegetables. However, the rest of my household isn't huge on them. My daughter will eat them... sometimes... But getting my boys (the hubby and our son) to eat them is a different story. Tonight though, I got all the kids to eat some green beans.

I'm really bad with measuring things so bare with me while I explain my "measurements".

My neighbor gave me a huge bag of green beans and it was great because they were already cut and prepared.

In a skillet, I melted about 3 tablespoons of butter.

I then threw in about two large handfulls (like that?) green beans. I didn't want to cook too much and waste it since its just the kids and I for dinner tonight.

I let the beans cook in the butter for about 5 minutes. Just as they began to get tender, the butter began to brown. A nice gold color.

I then added a tablespoon of onion powder as well as a tablespoon of garlic powder.

The beans continued to cook and the butter continued to brown, especially more so now that I put the seasonings in.

When the beans were cooked, I added salt and pepper to taste and then sprinkled about 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese on top.

I cooked mine a little too much... Its hard to cook dinner when you're alone with a 3 year old, a two year old and a 3 month old demanding your attention... and food...

Despite the slight overcook, they were still delicious and I'm looking forward to cooking them like this again. I think next time I'll throw in some red onions as well.


Sundried Tomato Pesto Tilapia

Oh, man! This is a good one. It is so much more delicious than I expected. Not only does it have my new love in it, basil, but it has another food that I am so fond of, sundried tomatoes. I LOVE sundried tomatoes. I could eat them all by themselves. SO good. With this recipe, I combined both of them and it was bliss on a fish!




Preheat your oven to 375

Place two tilapia fillets into a baking pan.

Make your Pesto. Click this link to get my pesto recipe. Its much easier than I thought it'd be.







Chop up enough oil soaked sundried tomatoes to get a result of 3 tablespoons. I think from the jar that I have, I used about 6 tomatoes.



Mix the tomatoes into the pesto.

Separately, mix together 3 tablespoons of shredded Parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons of panko bread crumbs.

Spread the pesto mixture onto the fillets.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture onto the prepared fish.

Bake until fully cooked. Mine took about 20 minutes but my oven is weird so it may take you more or less time.

Serve with your preferred sides. I used white long grain rice and my brown butter green beans for sides.

It was amazing. I gave a fillet to myself and split the other between my 3 year old and my 2 year old. They ate all of theirs and about 1/3 of mine. This goes to say that even kids like it. I loved the panko crumbs on top because they gave it a nice crunch. I love using the panko crumbs because they don't seem to get soggy like regular bread crumbs so quickly will.


 Super easy. Super delicious.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Throwing Something Together: Parmesan Mushroom Chicken


When planning for tonight's dinner, I knew I needed to use up the heavy cream and the rest of the mushrooms before they went bad. I hate throwing food away so lately, I've been making it a priority to not waste food. I ended up making what I'm going to call a Parmesan Mushroom Chicken dish.

I used one chicken breast. We have a tendency to throw away leftovers because we forget about them so since it was just the kids (3 and 2 years) and I eating dinner, I only needed to use one breast. I cute this breast into strips and put them in a baking dish.

I topped the strips with the sliced mushrooms.

While doing all this, I melted 2 tablespoons of butter.

Then, I combined the butter, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, 1/4 table spoon garlic salt, 1/4 tablespoon ground coriander and salt and pepper to taste. After mixing all these ingredients together, I poured them over the mushrooms and chicken.

I baked the dish at 400 degrees until the chicken was cooked, about 20 minutes.

It didn't look pretty but it was so delicious. The kids practically inhaled theirs and I also enjoyed it. I think next time that I'll only use 1 tablespoon of butter though.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Creamy White Wine Mushroom Sauce

I love pasta. I could eat it all day every day. Well... maybe not that often but I like it. My husband likes pasta even more than I do. I'm pretty sure that our kids love it too. Personally, I prefer the white sauces. I decided to tweak the sauce from my pork chops "au poivre".

Ingredients:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (or more) sliced mushrooms
2 large cloves of garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
Pasta (I used bowtie noodles)

Instructions:

In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add grated garlic and mushrooms. Saute mushrooms until tender. In a separate pot, combine vinegar, wine, butter and olive oil. Bring to a boil and reduce to about 1/2 cup. Begin boiling water for pasta. When ready, add pasta to water and cook noodles. Add the Parmesan, cream, and pepper to the reduction mix. Bring to a boil, stirring often. When pasta is finished cooking (we like ours al dente), spoon mushrooms on first and then top with sauce. Serve hot.


I loved it. I can't say that it was loved by every one in the family. I think that this dish is great for people who don't mind that hint of vinegar and wine. I'm looking forward to the leftovers for dinner tonight!

Pesto Toast

So, it recently occured to me to make home made pesto. I have my basil, I've got garlic, olive oil and parmesean cheese. What else do I need? Something to put it on... I decided to try a new "garlic bread" to go with my pasta. I made home made pesto, spread it on my slice of french bread and toasted it. SO yummy!

Pesto:

handful of fresh basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic
1/8 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of olive oil
a teeny tiny shake of salt and peper
(since I was spreading in on bread, I added 1 tablespoon of butter)

Now, here comes the best part... Throw all the ingridients in the blender and turn it on. Wah-lah. Pesto. Doesn't get any easier than that.

Spread the pesto on the bread and bake it for a few minutes at 350 degrees.

I had never had it with such fresh basil before. It was so delicious and aromatic. As weird as this may sound, it was pretty too. The fresh cut basil mixed with the other ingredients was such a pretty shade of green.

A wonderful way to spruce up bread for dinner. I can't wait to make more pesto and mix it into some pasta.





Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cilantro Lime Pork Chops

Pork, like chicken, is great because you can do pretty much anything you want with it. Not everything works, but most flavors do. I decided to use my cilantro again with this dish. And garlic, lots of garlic. The list of ingredients and amounts are for 2 adults and 2 young children. Not a lot is needed for healthy portions.
Ingredients:
4 small pork chops
chopped fresh cilantro, about 3/4 tablespoons
3 large cloves of garlic ( did I mention that I love garlic?), chopped
fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Mix all the ingredients together. I let them sit together for about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend a little. Put the pork into an uncreased baking dish. Spread ingredient mixture onto pork and place into the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until pork is fully cooked. Serve with your favorite side dishes. I served mine with baked french fries (made with real Potatoes... the noble vegetable).
This was a super easy dish and was very tasty. The lime and cilantro gives it a bright, fresh flavor. Pretty healthy too. No butters or oils.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Baked French "Fries"

We buy just about all of our groceries in bulk and potatoes are one of our regular items. I'm constantly trying to do new things with them since they go bad surprisingly quickly.

One of my favorite things to make with them are baked french fries. Its always healthier to bake something rather than deep fry it for the obvious reasons. Tons of grease is the last thing I feel like feeding to my two year old who's diapers I'm still changing. Baked doesn't mean that they have to have less "flavor" though. You can do just about anything you want with these.

For a family of two adults and two small kids, for healthy portions, I use three large potatoes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I skin the potatoes and cut them into fries. You can use a knife or you can use a tool like the one I use. I have this great Kitchen Aid device that has changeable "settings". I can cut larger fries or smaller ones (I did the smaller this time) or core/slice an apple. Its great and its small and its not electric. I'll have to take a picture of it and post it. I would now but I think it got packed up today.

I then soak the "fries" in water (completely submerging the potatoes) with about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of granulated sugar for about 15 minutes.

After draining them, I pat them dry and put them back into a bowl.

From here, you season them. You can use just about anything you want. I know some people who use garlic salt or even chipolte seasoning but I used sea salt, fresh ground pepper and paprika. Put your seasoning on the potatoes in the bowl (I do all of mine to taste) and add about 1 1/2 table spoons of oil. Mix it all together until fries are coated.

Put them, single layer onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until they're cooked and golden.

After they're "fresh out of the oven", sprinkle a little more salt on them to taste. Doing it when they're nice and hot will help the salt stick.

Serve.

My whole family loves these fries and I don't have to deal with the mess of frying them. They're healthier and pretty darn tasty.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Omelets

I love omelets. My mom used to make them every Sunday before church. I ate the "western omelet" for every meal while in the hospital after I had my first daughter. I LOVE to go through the omelet line at buffets. My husband asked me last night if we could have some this morning and I was more than happy to oblige.





The great thing about omelets is that you can put whatever you want in them. My favorite combo is ham, spinach, onions, tomatoes, bacon and cheddar cheese. My husband likes steak omelets. Pretty sure that if my dad made an omelet, it would be so stuffed with goodies that you wouldn't be able to close it. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I craved hot dog, spinach and onion omelets. And they were delicious.





This morning I made bacon, cheese, mushroom and chive (from my "garden") omelets. I was nervous about the mushrooms. I love mushrooms and I love omelets but I'd never eaten them together and I wasn't sure what to expect. However, after eating it, I decided that I will always put them in from now on. It was SO good.


I cooked the bacon and sauteed the mushrooms in butter before filling the omelet. I put the mushrooms on top of the omelet for my husband and put them in the omelet for me. I liked mine better. The flavors blended a little while they cooked inside the eggs.

Breakfast is my favorite meal. I feel like it sets the mood for the rest of the day. If you have a bad breakfast, or none at all, you'll be a little down, even sluggish and unable to focus. If you have a fantastic breakfast, one that you really enjoyed, you'll be in a good mood and ready for action. I'm testing this theory today since I had such a delicious breakfast. I'll do follow up later and let you know how the rest of my day when and if my attitude stay positive. So far so good. I feel great, I'm happy and the kids banging on the office door, crying for me to let them in here (which isn't going to happen) doesn't bother me one bit. I'm on an omelet high :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not: Banana Bread

I hate throwing food away. Having little kids, food gets wasted all the time. I'll buy something that they beg me for, they'll take two bites of it and never finish it. I bought bananas at the pleading of my two year old. He ate two before he decided that he didn't like them any more... again...

What's to be done with rapidly ripening bananas? BANANA BREAD!!! I love warm, home made banana bread. There's something about the way it smells and tastes that uplifts the soul and makes a person feel warm and happy inside. I love it.

I got my recipe out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook: Heart Healthy Edition and tweeked it just a little bit. I like how I make it best.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.

Betty Crocker has steps to mixing and melting and all that jazz but I honestly just throw it into my kitchen aid mixer and turn it on. Turns out just fine in my oppinion.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of softened butter
2 eggs
4 very ripe bananas (Betty uses 3 but I like my banana flavor a little stronger and adding the extra one helps make the bread a little moister as well)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour (Betty uses 2 1/2 cups of all purpose only but I like to add the whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup of chopped walnuts

Throw it in the oven and bake it for about an hour. Betty says to let it cool for about 2 hours but I like to serve mine right away when its hot and you can melt butter on it.

My mouth is watering right now just typing this.

I'm seriously considering going to the kitchen and eating a slice right now.






Thursday, September 1, 2011

Croutons (and Basil Bread Part 2)

Tonight was my husband and my 4 year anniversary. Since getting a babysitter for three kids on a weekday night is not high on our financial priority list, we stayed home to celebrate. I cooked dinner for him, which he thanked me greatly for. I cooked him rib eye steaks with Bearnaise sauce, twice baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, corn on the cob and salad. As an appetizer, I made the basil bread again, keeping a close eye on it this time to prevent burning.




I made the basil bread same as before. This time though, I just broiled it right off the bat instead of baking it for a while first. Turned out fantastic. Each flavor was nice and strong and wasn't over powered by the burnt flavor.

The salad was normal. Romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, carrots, chives and home made croutons. I cut up some French bread (can you tell that I like French bread?) and drizzled olive oil on it and then sprinkled it with garlic salt and a mix of oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic. Then I baked them for just a few minutes at 350 degrees. I love the golden color of croutons but many times they're so hard that its like trying to eat little rocks.

My favorite part of the whole meal though was the mushrooms. I wish I'd made a ton more of them. I'm pretty sure I could have eaten only the mushrooms and been just fine. I melted two tablespoons of butter, threw in two cloves of hand grated garlic and let them blend a little before I threw in the baby portobello mushrooms. I am not sure how many mushrooms I used since they were already sliced but it was about 4 handfuls. SO good! I cooked them over really low heat for probably close to 20 minutes. I can't wait to make more.


 


All in all, it was a great anniversary dinner. I was pretty happy and I think the hubby was too. If he wasn't making funny faces or sitting really quiet, cutting really slow or feeding it to the dogs, I'm safe :)