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Month: September 2011

Pretty Smoothie

Pretty Smoothie

Don’t buy bearded strawberries. You’ve been warned.

In California, organic strawberries come from conventional starter plants. This means that farmers can plant a non-organic strawberry starter and the first berry to pop out can be called organic. We’ve been duped! Wanna read more about this totally boring topic? Go to this totally not boring blog, Grow Switch.

Well, well. Look who got a Real Housewife makeover? It is our friend from last week, the ugly smoothie! Look at our swan now! Here’s her new recipe:

Pretty Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 2 cup blueberries
  • 2 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
Instructions
  1. Um, blend.
 

Are your eyes tired? No? Then feast on this…

Toilet jokes means it is time for bed. Goodnight folks!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Remember the dip I raved about a week ago? Well, I made a double batch of it for my brother’s rehearsal (minus the rehearsing) dinner on Friday night. The recipe can be found on Frank’s RedHot site. It’s easy, tasty and a serious crowd pleaser. Unless one of the people in the crowd is my brother Ron, who pretty much hates everything I make. Here he is as Best Man with my niece, Paige, who was just five a couple of minutes ago. Yikes!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dips & Spreads
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. pkg.cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
  • ½ cup FRANK’S REDHOT Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or FRANK’S REDHOT Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • ½ cupcrumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Rotisserie chicken
Instructions
  1. HEAT oven to 350.
  2. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.
  3. MIX in salad dressing, Frank’s RedHot Sauce and cheese. Stir in chicken.
  4. BAKE 20 min. or until mixture is heated through; stir.
  5. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers or vegetables.
 

TIPS:Microwave Directions: Prepare as above. Place in microwave-safe dish. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 5 min. until hot, stirring halfway through cooking.Slow Cooker Method: Combine ingredients as directed above. Place mixture into small slow cooker. Cover pot. Heat on HIGH setting for 1 1/2 hours until hot and bubbly or on LOW setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir.Tailgating Tip: Prepare dip ahead and place in heavy disposable foil pan. Place pan on grill and heat dip until hot and bubbly.Tip: You may substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken.

Here is what a double batch looks like:

I used rotisserie chicken (more than what you will see in the photo) and 1/2 blue cheese crumbles with 1/2 shredded mozzarella and Ranch dressing. I don’t love using bottled Ranch, it is just plain full of yucky stuff. However, I wasn’t about to make dressing from scratch for this gooey dip. When going bad, go real bad. I have to say that I like the way that Katherine’s dip turned out better. I felt like mine was a bit too thick, so I’ll need to chat with her and report back about what she says.

Oh…and I made mine in the Ninja! I’d love to try a crock pot version next. This dip is best when kept nice and hot.


Let me stop to say that this dip is just not very photogenic. Luckily, it is friggin’ delicious.

What to Do with 5 Pounds of Carrots

What to Do with 5 Pounds of Carrots

In our Costco frenzy yesterday, I grabbed as many produce items I thought would fit in the fridge. I had two choices when it came to carrots, five pounds of baby carrots or five pounds of full sized carrots. Both were organic and I’m thinking the full sized were cheaper. Who has time to wash and cut multiple pounds of carrots? Not me!

When squash gets really cheap (anytime now), I don’t mind buying and roasting them. Until then, I am more than happy to buy the pre-peeled, pre-cut variety. As soon as we got home, the jumbo carton of butternut squash went into the oven with some olive oil, sugar and cinnamon on top (at 400 degrees) for about 40 minutes. It’s good cold or hot and makes both my toddler and preschooler happy. Score!

Back to the carrots…

I found a recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook on Slash Food, before it moved to Huffington Post. Click the link to find the original recipe, the one below has been changed a bit to make life easier. I used pre-chopped onions and garlic, courtesy of Fresh & Easy. For the chopped nuts, a couple blasts in my Ninja blender did the trick.

Carrot Butternut

Carrot & Butternut Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Ingredients
  • 2 or 3 pounds baby carrots
  • 4 cups stock or water
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1-2 small cloves crushed garlic
  • ⅓ cup chopped cashews or almonds
  • 3+ cups of roasted butternut squash
  • Choose one:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt or buttermilk plus a little honey
  • ½ pint heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • Seasoning choices:
  • -2 pinches of nutmeg, ½ teaspoon dried mint, dash of cinnamon
  • -1 teaspoon each of thyme, marjoram and basil
  • -1 teaspoon grated ginger
Instructions
  1. Place carrots, liquid and salt into a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp.
  2. Saute the onion, garlic and nuts in the butter until the onions are clear. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo of your choice. Add roasted squash in batches. Puree everything together in a blender until smooth.
  3. Whisk in one of the dairy products.
  4. Garnish with toasted nuts, some toasted bread crumbs or eat just as it is.
I have to stop at this point and mention that the recipe makes this soup sound like it takes more work than it actually does. You could omit the squash if you didn’t roast any. I wouldn’t omit the nuts, they add a little crunch. It was pretty easy to make this, I swear and my whole family loved it. This is including Jy, who doesn’t consider anything a meal if it doesn’t involve meat.

My local Costco sells Bolani, which is Afghan bread. We grabbed the spinach filled type and played around with the sauce trio also sold at Costco. It helped give our lunch a little something extra. Dallas (my four year old) really liked all the Bolani toppings, and they are spicy! I learn something new about my little crazy man every day.

The Costco Diet

The Costco Diet

1-12-0

Those are today’s stats. Apparently, 10-20-30 doesn’t just happen on its own. I had one, ONE serving of fruit today and zero vegetables. I usually have at least four or five. Today, my food sponsor was…

We ate Costco pizza at a super fun birthday party around 11 am. It was at this wonderful party where the sweet Katherine, introduced my family to Buffalo Chicken Dip. I think I said, “Holy. Crap.” about twenty times this morning. Each time was in between dip bites. I have never had this ridiculously addicting dip before, have you?

Apparently, the rest of the world knows about the delicious, spicy Franks Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe. Just google it, you’ll see. It looks really easy and hey, I even found a “light” version over at Skinny Taste!

So that was lunch, pizza and lots of dip. Lunch was followed by more yuminess, a cookie cake! We all crashed at home and before hitting Costco for some produce I ate two pieces of cinnamon raisin bread. Too far of a stretch to call the raisins a fruit.

Two cranky kids and Costco on a Saturday? Smart idea, huh? Luckily, Jy was there to bring us all hot dogs and fountain drinks while we shopped. Mmm…crap.

See, junk food is so bad for you that it wreaks havoc on your vocabulary, all I can say is crap tonight. Crap, crappity, crap, crap.

Speaking of, did you know that my dad used the word crap in a wedding speech? It was at MY wedding! He said that my husband let our dog crap in my parent’s yard. Guess the crap word runs in the family.

Jy with my dad and brothers on our wedding day.
The majority of today’s fiber all came from shredded wheat. The exercise was put off until night and well, you know how that goes.
So, after a Costco stock up, here is the plan to get 10 servings of fruit & veg (that’s how the Brit’s say it, or at least Jamie Oliver does.)
  1. Canned pumpkin mixed into oatmeal (yep, totally counts! 1/2 cup)
  2. Blueberries in a smoothie
  3. Spinach in same smoothie (can’t taste it, swear)
  4.  Apple
  5. Watermelon
  6. Carrot soup
  7. Bell Peppers with hummus
  8. Strawberries on yogurt
  9. Mushrooms in our dinner

and for the 20 grams of fiber…

  • oatmeal (rolled oats) 5 gm
  • apple 4 gm
  • pumpkin 3 gm
  • spinach 3
  • blueberries 1.5 gm
  • carrots 3.5 gm
  • strawberries 1.5 gm

Getting in the ten servings of fruits/veg (I know I am really heavy on the fruit) will easily help me reach the fiber goal at the same time.

And…the 30 minutes of exercise will happen after the kids are fed lunch. There, it has been written. It shall be done. Oh, we have (meaning Jy and I) added a 40 to the equations. At least 40 oz. of water. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it is a lot more than the 12 that I typically drink.

Have a great Sunday everyone! It’s almost a new season. Enjoy your OFFICIAL last Sunday of the summer!

 

Italian Breakfast for Dinner

Italian Breakfast for Dinner

Also known as, Spaghetti Carbonara! Haven’t tried it? You should! It is one of the easiest and most filling meals one can make in under 30 minutes. In some cases, under 20. I blogged about Ruth Reichl’s recipe a couple days back. I followed her basic recipe tonight, but forgot to add some garlic flavor. Darn!

This meal is so perfect for those nights when you have nothing planned to eat and 4 pm rolls around (tonight). We are trying to make a habit of cooking large amounts of eggs, rice and meat on Sunday, so we have plenty of go-to items for the week. This Sunday, I baked a whole package of bacon.

All I had to do tonight was boil some whole wheat pasta (you can use white if you prefer) and slice up some bell peppers. Peppers are not part of the recipe, but they add a nice cool, sweetness to balance out the dish. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and throw it back into the same pot you boiled it in. Immediately crack one to two eggs and give it a stir. By the time you drop in the chopped up bacon, sprinkle the parmesan and grate some pepper, the egg will be cooked!

Try it, I promise it will be a new dinner favorite!

Why I Didn’t Eat Dinner

Why I Didn’t Eat Dinner

I had planned to make a special meal for Jy and the boys tonight. All day Jy and I talked about making something fun like Gumbo, but I would call it Dumbo, because it would be kid friendly. Then we talked about making fried chicken, no…wait, creole chicken on top of beans and rice. See, we just watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s – No Reservations last night. We always get sucked into his show. He’s just so interesting and there is always something to learn when we watch. Food is just the tie that binds his show together.

After our relaxing afternoon, strolling a local downtown that we don’t often visit, we decided to check out a local winery. An hour later, after getting lost and discovering that it would cost us a pretty penny to join the wine festival tasting that was occuring, we hopped back in the car. We are a pretty relaxed couple, so Jy and I decided to stop for a fun little lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. Screams anniversary doesn’t it?

I posed so Jy could sketch me at the romantic location:

I’m not sure why I have a Barry Bond bicep, but whatevs.

After our mediocre lunches with sub-mediocre service, we decided to hit the grocery store for dinner ingredients. We made sure to shop for brownie needs, bbq needs (for Labor Day) and anything else we might be short on at home. Guess what we forgot to buy? Chicken, or any meat for that matter!

We picked up our boys from my parent’s house and learned that rather than saying “Bampa,” which means grandpa in Max’s language, that he was saying “Obama.” At least this was according to my mom. She showed Max a photo of my dad with Obama and I guess Obama sounds a lot like Bampa.

Once we got home, both kids were on the verge. Max was sleeping and didn’t tranistion to his bed well. Dallas wanted candy and brownies. While Dallas took a bath and Max slept, I added up today’s Weight Watcher points. My salad at BWW was 23 points. I had gone over my points for the day and used up all, yes….ALL my extra weekly allowance points.

I’m still stuffed from everything I ate today, so missing dinner wasn’t too big of a deal. I am bummed that I wasn’t able to create anything to blog about though!

Jy left to go take care of a dear friend’s kids while my pal took a trip to the hospital with her newborn. Baby is fine, mom is just getting checked out. Her husband left Jy some pizza, so it all worked out well. I’m sure he is happy to watch Sports Center in peace and hang in a house where the kids stay asleep! I couldn’t ask for a better man to have married!

Coconut Flour Strawberry Muffins

Coconut Flour Strawberry Muffins

I decided to attempt another coconut flour recipe today. The last attempt taught me that coconut flour is a great ingredient to add when baking paper weights. The key to baking with this grain-free flour is to add liquid, a lot of liquid.

I started off with my go-to muffin recipe from Mark Bittman in his encyclopdia, How to Cook Everything. Then, I swapped out a cup of white flour for coconut flour and doubled the milk. I also baked at 400 instead of 375, not for any other reason than reading the recipe wrong!

After gently mixing the wet into the dry, I sprinkled in strawberries (about a cup full). Any berries would work well in this recipe.

Coconut flour gives baked goods a springy texture. Your batter will be thick and biscuit like. Be sure not to mix until you have a smooth, cake type batter. That won’t fly with these muffins.

I don’t often time my baked goods, I just grab them when the house starts to smell like whatever I am making. It’s not the best science, but it usually doesn’t fail. If you are worried, I’d say to stick with 375 for 40 minutes or 400 for 25-30.

Coconut flour will also make your muffins look like they aren’t quite done. Just do the old toothpick trick and check for yourself, they will be baked through! You can also check the muffin bottoms to look for a golden color. As soon as mine came out, I spread a thin layer of butter over the tops and sprinkled with some raw sugar. Raw sugar just has a great texture to it that you don’t get with white.