Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Classic

Many people are having money issues in these tough economic times, why not enjoy a classic low cost dish that is great for breakfast or lunch, a fried egg sandwich. I went simple on mine for lunch today and just added cheese, but there are so many different options for a fried egg sandwich. Add bacon, ham, a sausage patty, tomato slices, avocado, the list could go on and on. A special thanks to The Alchemist Chef, at http://alchemistchef.blogspot.com/ for coming up with a great list of recession proof meal ideas.

Pesto Pizza

I found some new premade pizza crust the other day at the grocery store, Mama Mary's Thin and Crispy Pizza Crusts. Put your favorite toppings on and cook according to the package instructions, and these really come out nice and crispy. In the most recent issue of Bon Appetit, there is an article on a pizza and prosecco party, that gave me an idea for a simple pizza that I knew John would eat. Pesto and Feta, simple toppings, but 5 year old friendly. I highly recommend that you try these premade crusts the next time you are in a hurry and would like an easy meal and check out the other ideas for pizza in Bon Appetit for some inspiration.

Soup to Heal

I have been plagued by a sinus bug the past few days and I have a recipe that never fails to clear me out and make me feel better, it is my version of Caldo Tlalpeno, or Mexican Chicken Soup. To let you know in advance this is not a recipe for those who cannot handle spicy. I grew up in Southern California and have been eating spicy foods for most of my life, it takes tons of heat before I am unable to eat something, this recipe does not push the threshold for me, but for those who find a jalapeno spicy, you are not going to like this dish.

1 32oz. carton of Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth/Stock
1 can of chicken noodle soup
1-2 organic chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1-3 serrano peppers, sliced with seeds, how many you use depends on how spicy you want the soup
1 onion, diced
1 plum tomato, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 tablespoon of fresh chopped cilantro
1-2 tablespoons of Tapatio
salt and pepper to season

Heat a large pot on low. Add chicken broth, onion, serranos, and the broth from one can of chicken noodle soup. Heat on low for around a half hour. While onions and serranos are cooking with broth heat a large skillet on high and add oil, before oil starts smoking, add chicken seasoned with salt and pepper, and brown for about 5-7 minutes. When chicken is done browning, add to broth mixture. Now is the time to taste the soup, if you do not feel that the soup is spicy enough, add some Tapatio, then bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for another half hour. To serve soup, in each bowl add a portion of tomatoes, carrots, and cilantro, pour soup over uncooked vegetables and serve.

Great Spring Recipe

A friends and I were talking about recipes using vegetables that are in season right now, and she mentioned that Food and Wine magazine had a great pasta recipe. After hearing about it, I knew that I had to try this recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/penne-with-asparagus-sage-and-peas. It is a habit of mine to never make a recipe as written, this one was no exception. For this one I did not use sage, I used one of my favorite Italian cheeses, Pecorino Romano, and used mini cheese raviolis instead of penne. I also cut down on the chicken stock, used low fat milk instead of heavy cream, and reduced the amount of cheese, garlic, and butter. I really do not feel that I made the recipe from Food and Wine, however it was definitely my inspiration and deserves credit as such. Give this recipe a try or add your own touch to it. Take the recipes advice and serve with a nice Sauvignon Blanc. While on the website for Food and Wine check out some other great recipes, there were quite a few that I am dying to try. I hope this recipe inspires you to get some asparagus and taste the flavors of spring.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lawry's Taco Seasoning/ Huge Taco Salad

I have a problem in Virginia, no store that I have been to sells Lawry's Taco Seasoning. I have had to have friends visiting import this item for me, I am almost out and now I am going to just order some online, but really Virginia retailers, what is wrong with you? This is the best Taco Seasoning packet going, it is great on ground beef, chicken, ground turkey, and can be played with and used as a marinade. I beg all VA retailers to start carrying this product. Please forgive my rant over the lack of this product in Virginia; it just gets frustrating when you cannot get your hands on the right ingredients.

Anyway, I bought some great ground beef and needed to use it so I was thinking about all the things that I make with ground beef and decided I really felt like taco meat. I had three packets of Lawry’s left so I did not think my husband would get upset with me for making tacos without him. I used my packet and followed the directions on the back, from there the sky is the limit with what you can do with taco meat. Tacos, nachos with ground beef, burritos, salads, a favorite in my family is a mix up bowl, where cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo are mixed together with the meat and scooped up with tortilla chips. I was feeling like I had not been getting enough vegetables in my diet so I pulled together this monster salad. It feature a chopped heart of romaine lettuce, ½ an avocado chopped, 1 ounce of shredded Colby jack, 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo, 3 tortilla chips that have been crushed, and about 2-3 ounces of taco meat. For a dressing I mixed 1 tablespoon of sour creams with a teaspoon of Tapatio hot sauce. I ate a little over half of this and was more than full.

Lolly Chops aka Lamb Chops

Looking at my food pics I have been a bit remiss in my postings. I did not even share my recipe for lolly chops, as John likes to call them. This is a great main course that takes no time at all to cook up. All you need is a rack of lamb cut into chops and a grill and you are ready to go. I recommend buying your rack at Costco; they have been selling it around here for only $9.99 a pound, which is quite a steal. If I did not have a Costco membership, I would be tempted to get one just for the price of lamb. Anyway on the recipe….

1 rack of lamb cut into chops
1-2 cloves of garlic minced (depends on your taste)
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large ziploc bag, add chops seasoned with salt and pepper, and rest of ingredients. Marinate in fridge for at least ½ hour up to overnight. A half hour before cooking take chops out of fridge to bring to room temperature. While chops are out pre-heat a gas grill to high. When chops have been out for allotted amount of time, place on hot grill. Close lid and cook on each side for about 3 minutes. My grill tend to set fire to the chops, so watch carefully, luckily for me, I like mine charred rare, so this really is not an issue.

Serve chops with mashed potatoes and some greens. Keep seasoning on side dishes light, as you do not want to overpower the lamb, trust me on this one, last time I made this I served it with seasoned wild rice and the flavors from the rice took away from the lamb. As for wine, I recommend serving this with a Petite Sirah, Guenoc and Bolger both make great ones that do not cost a ton.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Birthday John

John turned 5 today and to celebrate he dragged me to his favorite place, Silver Diner. This is not my favorite place to eat to say the least. I am not a fan of chain restaurants, and this place is a diner chain, also just one of the every single chain restaurants you can find in Newport News, VA, the chain restaurant capital of the world. Can you tell I am bitter much? However tonight I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the service great, (ask for Tony), but my food choice was great too. I have been there a ton of times, it is John' favorite, and someone is always eating the meatloaf, I decided that I had to give it a try. I was smart about it and asked for the gravy on the side, thankfully so. I could barely stand the smell and would have had to send back my entree if it had arrived smothered in gravy. The meatloaf was tender, onion and red pepper filled, flavorful, and a HUGE serving. I think that I may have to rethink my aversion to Silver diner after this experience. I will say that I need to apologize to anyone sitting around us, 3 rowdy boys and a baby never make good dining companions, if you ever see us coming be sue to ask for a different table.

Something New from TJ's

I am a huge Trader Joe's fan, just in case you have not noticed. I have been shopping there since I was 10 years old, and when I moved to VA, I was very happy to know that there was one just a few miles away. The other day when I stopped in searching for some honey goat cheese, a product that I found out was seasonal :(, I got a taste of something new. Rice Noodle Mac and Cheese. They had added some peas, something that I would have never thought of, but what a great way to get kids to eat their veggies! I had to buy a box the second I tasted it. This is not your Kraft Mac and Cheese. This product has a great cheese flavor, is wheat and gluten free, and I promise you and the kids will both love it. Next time you are at your local TJ's make sure to pick up a box, don't forget the peas.

Pierce's BBQ Pitt

In Williamsburg, VA as you travel along the 64 you may find yourself overwhelmed by the smell of BBQ, one day this smell may lead you off the highway to discover where this smoke is coming from, if you do have that urge, you won't be disappointed. The smell will lead you to a local food institution that has been serving up great food since 1971, Pierce's BBQ Pitt. This is one of the first places that I ate at in VA and whenever I am in the area I stop by. This is just a great place that I could not wait to take a bite of my Regular. Pierce's is so well known that is was featured in the Jan/Feb issue of Paula Deen's magazine. My favorite thing to get is the pulled pork sandwich. It is made from a Boston butt that has spent 8+ hours smoking. If you go there make sure to get your coleslaw added to your sandwich. To learn more about Pierce's stop by their website at http://www.pierces.com/default.asp.

New Egg Salad

I have not been cooking much for dinner as the days are sooo very long for me lately. I have been playing around with my lunches. One experiment was this egg salad. I made this yesterday and must have been feeling like eating something green to celebrate St. Patty's Day.

Egg Salad with Dill and Capers

2 hard boiled Eggs (use only one yolk)
1 tablespoon of capers with juice
1/2 teaspoon of fresh copped dill
1 tiny little bit of mayo
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 pieces of toasted Sourdough Bread
1/2 cup of arugula

Dice eggs, place in bowl and mix with other ingredients. I hate mayo so I only used a tiny bit to try and glue the mixture together, for those who like mayo, use more. Place arugula on toasted bread, top with egg salad, serve and enjoy.

Just a note on this recipe; I may try to play with this more, I was not able to really get the salad to stick together, probably due to the lack of mayo... I also need to work on my picture taking...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A week

It has been a week since my last post and other than two meals I have been eating only chicken and white rice. I am recovering from a vicious stomach bug and really while there has been tons of meals that I have wanted to cook, I do not think that I could have eaten them. Before I got sick I made two things that are worth writing about (at least in my opinion). One was a great mac and cheese, the other, a great BLT. Since I am still low on energy and not in the mood to write recipes, the posts for those will have to wait. I am off to get another chicken roasting and rice steaming, hoping that this will be the day of three days of this meal.
1 croissant
some mixed greens
3 slices of cooked bacon
1/2 avocado, sliced
some thinly sliced red onion
some sliced tomato
1 slice of Swiss cheese
Place all ingredients on a croissant sliced in half. Enjoy the best BLT ever!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Chicken, green beans, and stuffing

I tried to recreate the sauce that I did on the chicken last week and failed. This sauce came out way too salty even though no salt was added to the sauce. Too weird. I had a feeling that I would not be able to get it the same again just because I was eyeballing everything. However, I did make some great stuffing.

Jazzed Up Stove Top

1 box of Whole Wheat Chicken Stove Top

6 small breakfast sausages, casing removed

1 large apple, peeled and diced into 1' pieces

1 small onion chopped

2 handfulls of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet cook sausage and break up into small pieces. When sausage is no longer pink add onions and apple, cooking until onion is translucent and apple is soft. Set aside. Cook Stove Top according to package directions. When Stove Top is done transfer to a medium casserole dish and mix in sausage, onion, and apple mixture. Fold in mixture and add cranberries. Place in the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes and serve.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

It must of been Sunday last week, I was falling asleep and watching Throwdown, a show I do not think I have ever watched before and I was inspired to make Meatballs for dinner. I also want to head to Northport, New York and eat at Maroni Cuisine, but that will have to wait. Inspired by Mike Maroni's recipes simplicity I decided to give my meatballs a makeover. I made some rigatoni since I had enough left in a box and served up a simple Cesar salad on the side and enjoyed with the rest of the family. Here is my simple meatball recipe:


1 lb. of ground chuck

1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic

1/4 cup of bread crumbs

1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon of grated pecorino romano cheese

1 egg

Simply mix all ingredients and form into balls. Place meatballs in a skillet and add water to cover about half way. Heat skillet on medium low and cook for about 15 minutes. Check to make sure that there is no pink meat visible add meatballs to sauce. When serving top with more cheese and some fresh basil.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Moricci's Inspired Lunch

If you ever find yourself in the Walnut Creek area of Northern California, I highly
recommend visiting a local favorite, Morucci's. This family owned deli is not your normal deli experience. With over 16 speciality sandwiches, there is one that will soon become your favorite. One of my favorites is the Smokey the Bird or the #3. Smoked turkey on a baguette with brie, sprouts, and a sweet hot mustard that I would kill to know what brand it is. For my version I used oven roasted turkey, St. Andre cheese (yummm), and a new Grey Poupon, savory honey, and sprouts. This is a sandwich worth every calorie and ounce of fat. Try your own or get to Walnut Creek, CA and visit Morucci's at 1218 Boulevard Way.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oven Roasted Chicken with Pan Mushroom Sauce

The kids enjoyed their meal, now it was time for the adults to eat. I made oven roasted chicken with a pan mushroom sauce. I served this with Mahatma Long Grain and Wild Rice mix. I forgot to add the greens, but I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. I am going to do my best to recreate the sauce, but since I was not measuring, forgive my use of eyeballing it terms.

Oven Roasted Chicken with Pan Mushroom Sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 tablespoon of lemon zest

1 tablespoon of fresh parsley

1 tablespoon of onion powder

1/2 tablespoon of ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon of salt

1/2 cup of mushrooms

1/4 cup of vegetable broth

a splash of milk

1 teaspoon of butter

1 cup of spinach for each serving

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. While oven is preheating season both sides of chicken breast with the first 5 ingredients. When oven is heated cook chicken for about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F. Place chicken on a plate to rest. Take pan that chicken cooked in and place on a burner heated to medium. Add butter, using a wooden spoon stir melted butter to get up pan drippings, add broth and mushrooms, stirring for 5 minutes. Right before serving add milk and stir, reduce heat. Plate by placing spinach on plate, put chicken on top of spinach, add sauce, and serve.

Perfect Kids Meal

The other night a friend came over for dinner with her two kids. I knew what I was making us, but I did not think that the boys were going to enjoy the meal as much as us. I took some chicken tenders and season them with seasoned salt, garlic powder, and pepper, and cooked them in a skillet until browned. I served these up with some fresh veggies and fries. This meal got three boys to sit still and clean their plates. Considering the ages of the kids, this is a blessing for any parent with preschool aged kids. I hope you give it a try on a night were you want to enjoy a later meal without the kids.

Fish Friday with Mango Salad

John and I were not in agreement over dinner on Friday. I wanted to make scallops, John regularly says "I am so over scallops." What a sad state of affairs. I decided that the last thing I wanted after a long and tiring week was an argument over dinner, so I made his favorite, Salt and Sugar Salmon. I needed something more to go with this, so I made a mango salad. This is a super simple salad that consists of diced mangoes, avocado chunks, red onion, red bell pepper, and little bit of feta, topping mixed greens. The dressing is what really makes this salad, the juice of a lime mixed with honey. I love this dressing and use it in many of the summer salads that I make, which considering how warm it was here on Friday, it seemed like the perfect dish. Here is John's picture of his meal.

On a different note, it is obvious that spring is in the air. I experienced my first taste of grill envy on Friday night. The smell drifting off a neighbor's grill filled the air and made me long for something other than the excellent meal that I was having. I hope that the smells of warm weather are headed your way too, and if you live near me, I hope that your grill envy gets you outside cooking too.