Friday, February 27, 2009

Lunch at Grandma's


Thursday is our crazy never ending day. We are running around like crazy for hours on end going to various appointments and classes, these are the days when the drive-thru beckons. Since Lent started this week, I brown bagged it for us this past Thursday. What I made brought me back to my Grandma's kitchen and the sandwiches that she would serve me. I do not remember ever eating a sandwich there that did not have butter on it. My fondest memories are of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She would make me a PB&J and add butter, which unfortunately I still do not think a peanut butter and jelly tastes right unless the butter is added. Forget the calories, the fat, the cholesterol, and all the other things that we should stay away with for our health, something about the taste of a PB&J with butter reminds me of days from my childhood filled with love spending time with Grandma and Grandpa. In loving memory of my Grandmother, I share with you the joys of a ham and butter sandwich.


To make use two slices of white bread (Wonder is the best for this) and slather them generously with butter. Place a slice of cheese on one side and on the other pile as much ham as you would like (I recommend brown sugar ham). Put the sandwich together and slice diagonally. Serve with fruit, because no matter how unhealthy the sandwich would be, Grandma would always serve fruit with it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dinner

The last few days have been crazy. Long days followed by longer nights has left me with little interest in cooking any amazing dinners. Sunday was grilled cheese, John had white bread with Munster with grapes, I chose to have a Jalapeno Cheddar Bread with sharp Cheddar and a small salad. On Monday we ate Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken with Rice and somehow I managed to burn, yes burn the broccoli that I was cooking to go with it. I had no idea that broccoli could burn. It was very strange and an experience I hope to never repeat (the smell was awful). Last night after karate I was so tired that I let John eat cheese, grapes, and crackers for dinner. Tonight John requested the pork stir fry that I have written about before. I am in no mood to deal with a fight over dinner so pork stir fry it is.

On a different note, we have given up all fast food for Lent this year. Last year we did the same thing and with a busy schedule and two kids, the drive thru looks tempting quite a bit of the time, so this can be a challenge. I am looking forward to some creativity with lunches, if anything is really interesting I will definitely write about it. What do you give up for Lent?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Giada Inspired Meal


Whenever I want background noise I tend to turn on the Food Network, I can deal as long as people like Guy, Sandra Lee, and the Ace of Cakes aholes are not on. I was doing something else and I heard Giada talking about butternut squash and prawn rigatoni. I was intrigued enough to stop what I was doing and watch the show for a bit. I really loved this meal. It was simple flavor wise, but was filling and kid friendly. My son could not eat the pasta fast enough. I chose to add some flavor to this dish. Here is my version, there is a link to Giada's after. I hope you enjoy.

1 1/4 pound of pre-cut butternut squash (I get the package from Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons of ribboned fresh sage
2 extra large shallots sliced thin
1 pound of colossal shrimp peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 cup of vegetable stock
a splash of dry white wine
1 box of rigatoni
salt
pepper
4 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place squash on a cookie sheet and roast until squash is soft and browned. While squash is roasting in a small skillet take 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown 1 and 1/2 of shallots and 1 tablespoon of sage, when done set aside. Place cooked squash and shallot mixture into a food processor and puree with vegetable stock. Note: you may not need to use full amount of stock, the goal is to get the mixture close to a spaghetti sauce consistency. While pureeing squash mixture bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook for 10 -12 minutes. When has 8 minutes left to cook, heat remaining olive oil in a skillet. before oil begins to smoke add shrimp seasoned with salt and pepper, the rest of the shallot, sage, and a slash of dry white wine. Cook shrimp for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. When pasta is done drain and add squash sauce. You can add milk or more vegetable stock to thin out sauce. Serve a plate of pasta topped with grated cheese, and 4 shrimp, garnish with sage if so desired.

Banana Bread


We had some bananas that were very brown so I decided to make some Banana Bread this morning. Here is the recipe, I hope that you enjoy trying it.

3 ripe bananas
1 3/4 cup of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest until well combined and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time to butter and sugar mixture, after eggs are incorporated add bananas and mix well. Slowly add flour mixture. When all ingredients are mixed place into a greased bread pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool before slicing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Too Tired

I am beat, I have a few meals that I really want to post about, but I am so ready for bed after a long day. I am going to pour myself a glass of milk, eat some cookies and hit the hay. Look forward to a Giada (is that how you spell it?) inspired meal. A great quick side from Trader Joe's and the woes of not having a great cheese shop near by. I hope that everyone has enjoyed their meals tonight.

Greek Stuffed Chicken


Derek had wanted Chicken Parmigiana, but do to bad planning on my part that did not happen. Do instead I threw together this quick Greek Stuffed Chicken.


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup of chopped roasted red peppers

6 chopped kalamata olives

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano

4 tablespoons of feta cheese

salt

pepper

1 tablespoon of Greek Seasoning


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butterfly each breast and season with salt, pepper, and Greek Seasoning. Stuff each with 1/4 of the roasted red peppers, olives, feta, and oregano. Place stuffed chicken into a baking pan and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with a Greek salad or anything else that sounds good to you. Enjoy...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kitchen Sink Meatloaf


Dinner tonight was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. I took this typical American dinner and added a twist, the kitchen sink. I hope that you give this recipe a try and enjoy the serving of vegetables that you get too.


1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef

1 pound of ground veal

1 zucchini, grated

2 carrots, grated

1/2 cup of finely diced onion

1/2 cup of finely diced yellow bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic

3/4 cup of bread crumbs

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 egg


Mix all ingredients together and form a loaf on a large baking sheet. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Place loaf in oven and cook until internal temperature hit 155 degrees F, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. After 10 minutes of cooking add topping sauce.


Topping Sauce

1 part Worcestershire sauce

2 parts ketchup


Mix until you have enough to cover loaf with thick glaze. Reserve extra for serving if you wish.

Cravings Salad Lunch


When I was pregnant with my daughter I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and I found myself always craving one of my favorite things, Chili's Boneless Buffalo Wings. I highly doubt that more than one of Chili's Boneless Buffalo Wings would be considered diabetic friendly let alone an order of them. So, to get my Chili's cravings taken care of in a healthier and more economical way I used to turn to those wonderful food scientists at Morningstar Farms who have found a way to make vegetables taste better than chicken. The other day for lunch I was having a simillar craving so here is what I did.

Bake 4 of the "Buffalo Wings" according to package directions. Let cool and add hot sauce, I recommend using something like Texas Pete's or Louisiana Hot Sauce. Mix the nuggets and sauce up in a plastic bag. Cut one Romaine Heart into bite size pieces, place in bowl. Dice a tomato and add to lettuce, shred 1 ounce of Colby Jack Cheese over lettuce and tomato, add 1 tablespoon of Ranch dressing, top with Boneless Buffalo Wings, and enjoy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Full Quiver Italian Sausage Dinner


I wanted to make up some food that we having sitting in the freezer from our last trip to the farm and I decided to use the Italian Sausage that we picked up. I made this into a simple pasta sauce and all of us enjoyed it immensely. I think that the only problem is that I am getting ruined on other meat. The flavor of the meat that we have purchased from the farm is just so good I do not want to eat meat that is not 100% Organic anymore. Trust me when I say that the price difference is more than made up for in flavor. I only wish that more organic meat was readily available. Anyway, I could go on a huge local organic rant, but why bother, here is the recipe from last night.


1 pound package of Full Quiver Farm Italian Sausage

1 drained 280z. can of Muir Glenn Organic Diced Tomatoes

1/2 onion, diced

1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

2 tablespoons of Italian Seasoning

4 tablespoons of grated Parmesano Reggiano

1/2 box of organic thin spaghetti


Bring a pot of water to boil. Heat a large skillet on high and add sausage, cook sausage until browned, drain and place in a bowl. Using the same skillet reduce heat, add onion and garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes. When onion is translucent add tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer for 3 minutes and return sausage to pan. Add pasta to boiling water, while waiting for pasta to cook, simmer sausage mixture on low. When pasta is done, about 8 minutes, drain and mix pasta with sausage sauce. Garnish with cheese and serve.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Joy of the Greek




What is it about a Greek salad that is so refreshing, fulling, and enjoyable? I have been thinking that more roughage is needed in our diet so last night we had a Greek salad with chicken. I used some Earthbound Farm organic romaine hearts, with a nice and ripe red bell pepper, some English cucumber, a little red onion, and feta, all topped with Kraft's Greek Salad Dressing. I did not add any olives because until I started writing this I had forgotten that we even had olives in the fridge. All of us even the little man enjoyed our meal. We left the table feeling full but not stuffed and considering what a long weekend it had been I think that this was a perfect feast for us to sit down and talk over.

Best Sushi EVER in Hampton, Virginia?

I know you have to skeptical, how could you not, Hampton, VA, I mean where is that even? Those were my thought when I first made it to the Hampton Roads area and decided to be brave, really, really brave and go get sushi in Southern Virginia. I have been lucky enough to eat and some great sushi restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Area, and in San Diego. I did not think that I was going to find a good sushi restaurant out here in Virginia, but I was willing to try since giving up good Mexican food, In and Out Burger, and Mitsuwa Market, I really did not want to loose the pleasure of eating sushi. My prayer were answered by the wonderful Michael and Sun Kim, the owner’s of Musasi Japanese Restaurant.

Seeing Mr. Kim behind the sushi bar working just gives me such a sense of confidence and joy. I know that no matter what I chose to order that night, it is going to be the freshest and best fish that I have ever tasted. For those new to the restaurant I highly recommend get the sunomono salad. This is not the cucumber and crab salad that most sushi places serve this is a mix of sashimi cuts of sushi mixed with a seaweed salad, topped with the house secret dressing. I have ordered many of the rolls on the menu and I think between myself, my family, and my friends we have tried almost everything on the menu, and there is NOT one single thing that I would not order again, or recommend. For those of you not into sushi there is a great selection of Japanese and Korean dishes that are fish free and taste great, for those with kids who are not as adventurous as mine, there are “Japanese Chicken Nuggets” and some if the best grape juice that your child will ever try.

Now I guess I should get to the point of why I am gushing so hard over this great restaurant, on what must be the busiest day of the year for Musasi, I was lucky enough to get an amazingly beautiful to go order of sushi. My husband was not going to get home until after the restaurant closed and after a phone and a quick visit down to Musasi, I knew that Valentine’s Day dinner was not going to be ruined. I placed my order on Friday afternoon and asked when would work best with the restaurant’s schedule for the night for me to come back and get my order. I was told to be there at 6:00 and by 6:15 on was on the road and ready to wait for my husband to get home so we could enjoy a great meal. I only wish I had gotten a picture of the to go platter that I received. I have never been so impressed with food to go from anywhere. However, this should not surprise me as after the first time of eating at Musasi I have been more than willing to put my trust in the Kim’s and their great restaurant. If you are ever in the Hampton Roads Area, make the trip to Musasi Japanese Restaurant at 49 W Queens Way, Hampton, VA 23669, or give them a call at (757) 728-0298.

Surf and Turf

On Friday night I had to eat something other than red beans and rice, I was talking to my son about dinner on the way to drop him off and asked what he wanted to eat and the first words out of his mouth were "lobster.” You tell me how anyone could say no, to that especially when one of the local grocery stores had lobster tails on sale for $6 each. I could not. I picked us up five tails, a New York Strip steak to split, and with a nod to Tiki Tom's in Oakland, CA (or more like the old location in W.C. that had surf and turf Tuesday's). I got some baby bok choy and Yukon gold potatoes. I knew that dinner was going to be great. I cooked the lobster in my son's favorite way, meat out of tail and cooked in butter on stovetop with a splash of lemon juice. Before cooking the meat, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. For the steak, I cooked it up in my cast iron skillet so that I could use the pan juices to cook up the baby bok choy. Warning the next statement may cause you to be ticked off if you have strong passions about potatoes: Yukon Gold Potatoes are the best for making mashed potatoes of any kind! I do not know the why or the how of it, but let me tell you, for great mashers the Yukon Gold is the only way to go. It was nice to enjoy a great meal with my son. I wonder what ind of foodie he is going to be since at four years old he is already asking for lobster, tuna, salmon, and sushi.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feeling like a Forest Gump Character

I have not had much to write about the past week since I have been trying to eat all the red beans and rice that I made last week. Let me tell you that I have eaten every combination of red beans and rice that I can think of. Red beans and rice with chicken, red beans and rice with kielbasa, red beans and rice with shrimp, red beans and rice with sausage, red beans and rice with... well you get the picture. So if you are at all interested in coming up with your own combinations of what to eat with red beans and rice when you make so much that you can freeze it, give some away to friends, and still have so much to eat that you might not ever want to eat red beans and rice again, here is the recipe for you.

Red Beans and Rice

1 bag of red beans soaked and picked through
1 pound of chopped cooked jowl bacon
1 cup of diced bell pepper
1 large onion chopped
1 cup of diced celery stalks with leaves
1/2 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon of ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of creole seasoning
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 cups of chicken broth
4 cups of water
3 cups of cooked rice

Heat a large sauce pot to medium high, add oil and bacon. Heat until bacon begins to release oils then add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook stirring gently until onion becomes translucent. Add seasoning and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes stirring regularly. Add beans, broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover cook for 2 to 4 hours checking regularly to make sure that mixture is covered at least 3/4 of the way. When beans are soft use a wooden spoon and mash beans against the side of the pot. Stir and add in cooked rice. Serve and enjoy for at least the first two servings, after this wonder what made you decide to cook enough food to serve a small village.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Red Beans and Rice


I have wanted to make red beans and rice from scratch for some time; today I finally did. I do not think that this is a hard dish to make, however it is very time consuming. On the plus side this gave us a great use for the jowl bacon that we got from the farm. I will be posting the recipe I used later, I am to tired to get it all written out tonight. I hope that your Sunday has been great and your food just as good.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Derek's Pork Chops


My husband was craving a Mediterranean flavor for dinner tonight and the meat I had on hand was some bone in pork chops. This dish was made to please using ingredients from the pantry. The tomato, olive, and caper sauce would work great for many other dishes. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Derek's Mediterranean Pork Chops
4 bone in 1/2 inch thick pork chops
1/2 tablespoon of garlic power
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 12 ounce can of organic diced tomatoes
1 4 1/2 ounce can of chopped diced olives
2 1/2 tablespoons of drained capers
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Season pork chops with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, In a large heavy bottomed skillet heat olive oil to almost smoking point. Place seasoned pork chops in pan and brown on both sides, remove pork chops from skillet and place on a plate to rest. Add tomatoes, olives, minced garlic, caper and lemon juice to the pan, stir and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, add pork chops and any juices from the plate to pan and saute until pork is no longer pink in center 9 to 15 minutes). Plate pork on top of creamy parmesan polenta(recipe follows) and serve.
Creamy Parmesan Polenta
1 package of precooked organic polenta
1 cup of milk or cream
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
In a large pot mash precooked polenta. Place of stove and heat on low adding milk or cream slowly until almost all is absorbed. Before serving sightly increase heat and add in cheese stirring until melted and incorporated into polenta.

Friday, February 6, 2009

John's Dreams of Spring Pasta


John (my almost 5 year old) and I were looking at a magazine and saw a toddler pasta we decided to give it a try for dinner with a few family twists. I hope that you try it and enjoy.

1 cup of diced broccoli
1 cup of diced red pepper
1 cup of diced carrots
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen corn
3 cups of ruffles pasta
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 pound of steamed shrimp
3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta for 10 minutes. Drain and add all other ingredients to pan. cook for 5 minutes, add pasta, stir in cheese, add lemon zest, and serve. This is a quick, healthy, and light meal that cooks up in 15 minutes, and is super kid friendly. I hope that you enjoy your dinner, I know that we did.

Teriyaki Beef with Rice and Garlic Walnut Broccoli


For dinner last night we were going to grill up the tri-tip that I had been marinating in the best teriyaki sauce ever Soy Vay for the past three days. I was willing to brave the 20 degree weather, but the grill was out of gas. So I decided to cut up the meat in chunks and stir fry it instead. The meat came out nice and tender which I was worried about since stir fried meat can get a little tough. As for the broccoli, I blanched it, then added it to the pan after the meat was cooked and mixed in some chopped garlic and walnut pieces. I cooked this on a lower heat setting until the walnuts were toasted. In retrospect, I should have added the walnuts first as I normally do when I make broccoli this way. In my defense, I was tired and just wanted dinner done. I hope that you give Soy Vay and the broccoli a try. I hope you enjoy your dinner.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The only Rachel Ray Recipe worth Trying


I must say that I cannot stand Rachel Ray. She is annoying, laughs at her own jokes, uses cheesy abbreviations that for some reason other people have decided is a good idea (I am talking to you Restaurant Secrets Lady), and uses the strangest flavors in her cooking. However a few years ago I happened to catch an episode that made for the first and last time want to cook something I saw on her show, Beef and Black Bean Chili with Green Onion Corn Cakes. I do not follow her recipe exactly for anything but the corn cakes. I add in more meat, more beans, more chili powder, and use tomato paste instead of sauce to thicken the chili. If you are willing to give this recipe a try I promise that you will not be disappointed. Here is the link to the Food Network site: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/beef-and-black-bean-chili-with-green-onion-corn-cakes-recipe/index.html

The Joy of Rotisserie Chicken

Since my lazy cooking night I picked up a Rotisserie Chicken and have made two meals out of it so far. I can think of 101 things to do with a rotisserie chicken and here are two of them:

Our first meal was a nice breast of chicken with roasted potatoes and one of my favorite products, Green Giant Digestive Health steamers. The range of Green Giant products in the little boxes makes life easy when you need a veggie and do not feel like cooking one. Take a look at http://www.bettycrocker.com/Products/Green-Giant/Products.aspx to see all of the different varieties. Most take less than three minutes took cook; which I think is great since this is normally the time it takes me to plate everything else.

The other meal was a simple Chinese Chicken salad made with Broccoli Slaw, a blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and teriyaki sauce. I added some left over chicken, toasted peanuts, and chow mein noodles and enjoyed.

Bourbon Steak Sauce

I have been in a lazy cooking mood since my steak got overcooked on Sunday night. Thankfully the Bourbon Mushroom sauce I served with the steak saved the meal from being a disaster. The Bourbon Sauce is easy to make and would be great with chicken too. Heat a cast iron skillet on high, add a tablespoon of butter, before butter brown add in steaks and brown on both sides. Place skillet in a preheated 400 degree oven and finish steak to desired doneness. Remove steaks from skillet and let rest. In the same skillet add 1 cup of mushrooms and 1 chopped shallot, cook until mushrooms have absorbed all of pan juices. Add 1/4 cup of Bourbon and 1 tablespoon of butter, cook until Bourbon has reduced by half, add in about 1/8 cup of half and half or heavy cream, stir and serve over meat.

3 Cheeses from Spain


We decided to have a pre meal snack the other night and tried three cheeses from Spain. The first was a Mahon, the second an aged Mahon, and the third was Drunken Goat. I have had Drunken Goat a few times and love the subtle red wine flavors. The Mahon, from the island of Menorca, is one of a few cow's milk cheeses from Spain. Mahon reminds me of a Swiss or farmer's cheese, it has a light tangy and salty flavor. The Aged Mah├│n is a new and intriguing experience for most Spanish cheese lovers. The Aged Mahon was great, this is a cheese that I would use in place of Pecorino Ramono in cooking or serve as a tapa with olives and wine or beer. You can also eat it the traditional way, sliced, then sprinkled with olive oil, black pepper, and fresh tarragon. We enjoyed trying something new and hope that if you are looking for a different cheese from Spain to try I highly suggest the Aged Mahon.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Farm Trip

Today we went and saw where some of our food comes from. We took about an hour drive out to Suffolk and visited the awesome folks at Full Quiver Farm. I cannot begin to tell you how neat it was to see not only where our food comes from, but to get the opportunity to meet our food producers. The family who works Full Quiver was on hand to answer any of our questions, such as why chickens are available in the warmer months of the year. We got to see a two day old cow, some goats, pigs, tons of chickens, and the new chicks that had recently arrived. Our trip was worth the time and really helped us see the relationship that we have with the land, the farmer, and our food. This was a great lesson to teach our 4 year old and one that I hope he appreciates.

Dinner was the pork stir-fry that I wrote about a few days ago. Pictures will be coming soon. For the sauce, I combined about 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a teaspoon of honey. The sauce was great, my son ate as much as he could and my husband drank some Gew├╝rztraminer with me. It was a nice and relaxing night. I hope that you enjoy your dinner.