6/07/2009

Classic BBQ Ribs

From a reader, I received this wonderful classic BBQ ribs recipe. Trust me when I say this one is excellent. It wouldn't be Lulu and Stuff, however, if we didn't tweak things a bit, so... to "Aunt Lassie," I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. celery salt
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. Worcestshire sauce
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. ketchup
2 c. water
2 pounds pork ribs, boneless, sliced into 4 inch by 2 inch pieces
1/2 c. sliced scallions
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Simmer the first seven ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat for about 1/2 hour, stirring frequently. Wash, dry and trim fat from ribs. Place onto broiling pan. Pour 3/4 of the sauce over the top. Reserve the last 1/4 of the sauce.

Remove ribs from oven and allow to rest about 5-10 minutes. Place onto serving platter, or plates and pour remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with sliced scallions, salt and pepper.

Serve with cornbread and fresh green salad. OMG - heaven on a platter!

6/06/2009

Quick and Easy Pasta Salad


Here's how to turn leftovers into something new and delicious - Quick and Easy Pasta Salad! Made this one up on the fly tonight, after coming home from baseball and a full day with the kids. I quickly stopped by the store on the way home and created a list of ingredients to add to the leftover cooked pasta in the fridge.

As with many of our recipes, experiment with the flavors you love best!

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked whole wheat pasta (we used spiral pasta tonight)
1 6 oz. can black olives, sliced
1 diced red bell pepper
2 sliced scallions
2-3 T. prepared balsamic vinaigrette dressing (or make your own with 1 T. each olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste)
1 1/2 cups cooked diced chicken or tofu (rotisserie chicken is an easy shortcut)
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

try throwing in 1/2 c. chopped cherry tomatoes and/or artichoke hearts, too
extra delicious if you add fresh herbs like basil from your garden....

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and serve. Best if the flavors can marinate together for about 1/2-1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Enjoy with fresh baguettes, butter and happy children!

6/05/2009

Marinated Grilled Chicken

This marinated grilled chicken tops the list for ease and flavor! Seriously - any time of the year, this will be your go-to recipe for a quick, tasty, low-calorie dinner. Nothing beats grilled chicken breasts, unless you've marinated it in this 2-ingredient sauce.

We just made this last night (seriously) and the kids love it everytime. Be sure to add any left-overs into our semi-famous coleslaw recipe.

When we visit Washington state over the summer, marinated grilled chicken is always on the menu! Thanks mom!

Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-2 inch thick slices
1 bottle Wishbone Italian Dressing (not low-fat)
1 c. soy sauce

Directions:

Place chicken breast slices into a freezer bag. Combine Italian dressing and soy sauce. Pour over chicken, seal and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.

Remove chicken and grill over a pre-heated gas or electric flame - about 350 degrees- for 3-5 minutes each side. If you wish, you can place the chicken on a skewer beforehand, but its not required....

Serve with corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, fruit salad and/or greens. Yep, its delicious!

6/04/2009

Herbed Butter

I absolutely love growing my own herbs, both in the garden and inside on my kitchen windowsill. There is nothing that brings out flavor in your recipes than freshly chopped basil, thyme, rosemary, etc....

Incorporating fresh herbs into butter is a delicious way to bring out savory tastes in your grilling or steamed recipes. Just pick your favorite flavor - then follow the easy guide below!

Ingredients:
½ pound unsalted stick butter, softened - NOT melted!!
5 T. chopped fresh herbs of your choice (rosemary, dill, mustard seed, parsley, chives, mint, basil, etc.)
1 t. lemon juice and/or 1 t. grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
1 t. dry mustard or ground cumin

Directions:

Cream the butter with a mixer, add remaining ingredients and combine until smooth.

Shape into a block, or smaller segments. Chill or freeze for use up to six months

Great for adding to fresh fish, steamed or grilled vegetables, potatoes or pasta! Try it with french bread, or on a light sandwich like tomato and cucumber. Let your taste be your guide.

Do you have a favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

6/02/2009

Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Last weekend, my husband and I went out to celebrate our anniversary. Yes, it was a few weeks late, but you do what you can....

I loved the appetizer we enjoyed and decided to come up with an Easy Stuffed Mushrooms replica of our delicious starting course!

Ingredients:

12-15 large firm mushrooms, gently washed
1/2 pound ground sausage
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 T. chopped rosemary
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 c. chopped green onions

Directions:

Wash mushrooms, trim off stems and set aside
In a medium skillet, brown sausage, about 6-8 minutes over medium heat.
Add chopped mushroom stems, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stir.

Place mushrooms on a greased baking sheet, cap-side down. Place 1/2 t. sausage mixture into each mushroom and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375 for about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and then sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Delicious! And low-fat!

5/31/2009

Classic Fruit Salad

There are so many fruit salad recipes out there, and I always wonder why people feel inclined to add to the sweet, juicy goodness with (IMHO) unnecessary ingredients. That's why I come back time and again to this Classic Fruit Salad recipe.

Fruit salad is always in season, so to speak. Whether enjoyed as a side at a BBQ or family picnic, its easy to prep and the kids always like it!

Ingredients:
3 c. freshly chopped fruit (your choice) - I recommend cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, blueberries, grapes and/or strawberries - bananas are good, but tend to brown
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. sugar
1 T. lemon juice

Directions:

Place chopped fruit in a serving bowl, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top. Add lemon juice and stir a few times to combine.

I suggest you fill up on this classic fruit salad instead of fatty potato chips!

5/30/2009

Carrot and Raisin Salad

This recipe is a classic one from my childhood. Since I don't have the recipe handy, I'm just going to make it up from memory. With only three ingredients, its easy and inexpensive. And - most kids like it!

You'll use this recipe as a side dish for BBQs, or even another great tasting dish for wedding or baby showers.

Let nostalgia reign. And good eyesight (from the carrots) will be a wonderful side effect.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. shredded carrots (use full-sized carrots and a grater)
3/4 c. raisins
3-4 T. light mayonnaise

Directions:

Grate the carrots into a large bowl. Add raisins, mayo and combine.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate until mealtime. This is a great salad to prepare ahead of time. 12-24 hours will allow the flavors to combine well. Keeps in the fridge for about 2-3 days.

Sweet, healthy goodness!

5/28/2009

Family-Style Tortellini

Yesterday, I saw a cooking segment on the Today Show, featuring a family-style tortellini recipe. Now, truth be told, I was working out at my gym at the time and didn't jot down the recipe. However, I've recreated it as best as I can, making a few minor tweaks of my own.

Pasta is a tasty, filling dinner that is light on the budget when you cook at home. This family-style tortellini can feed a group of 6, so its perfect to enjoy with the kids, or with a few of your neighbors!

Don't forget fresh salad greens and crusty french bread.

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked cheese-filled tortellini
1 c. cubed mozzarella cheese
1 c. cubed salami
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. fresh, halved cherry tomatoes
2 T. fresh chopped basil
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Cook tortellini according to directions in 2-3 quarts boiling water, salted with 1/2 t. salt. Drain.

In a large bowl, mix pasta with mozzarella and salami, stir in olive oil, basil and cherry tomatoes.

Place pasta mixture on a large serving platter. Top with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Garnish with basil sprigs.

Mangia!

5/27/2009

Tasty Tuna Sandwiches

Like most people, we've been cutting back as much as we can on our spending. Grocery bills are one area that is somewhat difficult to control, especially with a larger family.

That's why my kids are thrilled with my recipe for Tasty Tuna Sandwiches. Actually, count my husband in too. He goes through our reserve before you can say "chicken of the sea."

A can of tuna is often less than a dollar at the store. When you add in the minor additional ingredients, including bread, you can feed 4 people for less than $3 total!

Tuna is a great protein source that is not only less expensive than sandwich meats, but also better for you! Consider the fact that it is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, and low in sodium. That's a win-win for us.

Ingredients:

1 12 oz. can of chunk light tuna, packed in water (note: tuna is regularly packed in 6 oz. cans, but its cheaper to buy the larger size)
2 T. light mayonnaise
1 T. dill relish - or 1 T. capers
1/2 t. minced garlic
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
4 slices of cheese (your choice - optional)
8 slices of sandwich bread
lettuce, tomatoes, sliced pickles... if you want



Directions:

Open tuna and drain well. Stir together in a medium sized bowl with remaining ingredients. Do not add too much mayo!

Create sandwiches by buttering one or two sides of bread (if desired), adding 2-3 T. of the tuna mixture and topping with sliced dill pickles, or fresh lettuce and/or freshly sliced tomatoes. Add a slice of cheese, too, if you like!

Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate, tightly covered.

Yes, I'm hoping that I'll look like that hot model in the Chicken of the Sea commercial (pre-elevator door closing) by eating plenty tasty tuna sandwiches!

5/26/2009

Country Fair Burgers

My neighbors came over yesterday for a Memorial Day BBQ. I never thought I would be surprised by a burger recipe. Meg brought over the fixings for sandwich hamburgers, which she called "Country Fair Burgers."

Perhaps the most exciting thing about this recipe - other than its gooey deliciousness - is the fact that you probably have all the ingredients right now. Its quick and easy for dinner!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground hamburger
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 T. garlic powder
1 t. sea salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
12 slices white bread
12 slices american cheese
2-3 T. margarine or butter spread

Directions:

Combine hamburger, garlic powder, salt, pepper and egg.
Take 1/2 of the onion and use a grater to grate into the burger mix. Reserve the other half.
Using your hands, combine above ingredients. Form into 6 thin burger patties (about 1/2 inch thick)

Slice remaining half of onion thinly and set aside.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, cook burger patties about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from heat. Drain excess fat.

Butter each of the 12 bread slices. Take 6 slices and place, butter-side down into the fry pan. Now, add one cheese slice, a few sliced onions, a burger patty, the second cheese slice and top with the last bread slice, butter side up.

Cook on each side, flipping once, about 2 minutes on each side.

Slice in half and then imagine yourself with a big cone of cotton candy when you're done!

Don't you just love summer?

5/24/2009

Tomato and Cucumber Sandwiches


One of my favorite summer-time treats is fresh from the garden. Tomato and Cucumber Sandwiches. Fresh, light and healthy, this sandwich is simply heavenly when paired with a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade (splash of bourbon, optional).

Ingredients:
8 slices of white bread - whole wheat is usually a healthier option, but this sandwich is best on white bread - trust me
2 ripe firm tomatoes, sliced
1 peeled and sliced cucumber
1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion, sliced (optional)
3 T. mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice
1 T. chopped fresh dill

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine the mayo, lemon juice and dill.
Spread mayo mixture on 4 of the 8 slices of bread
Arrange slices of tomato, cucumber and onion on top. Salt and pepper if desired
Finish with the second slice of bread

If you are lucky enough to grow (or can shop for) heirloom tomatoes, use them in this recipe! The fresh, sweet, tangy taste is divine.

I'm off to the kitchen now. I have some yummy sandwiches to make. The front porch is calling.

5/23/2009

Cheesy Bratwurst Wraps

Summertime often means brats and beer at my house! As an alternative to buns or rolls, we've combined these seasonal favorites in this delicious Cheesy Bratwurst Wraps recipe.

Actually, Leslie should be writing this post, having lived in Wisconsin for a couple of years! I'm sure she can attest to the fact that this dish would have been exactly what she would have found in some of the various watering holes there!

Ingredients:

4 bratwurst
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1/2 c. thinly sliced green peppers (optional)
1 T. olive oil
2 bottles (12 oz.) beer - your choice, but a full-bodied ale works best in my opinion
1-2 T. steak sauce or BBQ sauce
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 flour tortillas, warmed



Directions:

Pour beer into a saucepan, add bratwursts. Heat over medium-high heat about 5 minutes. Then, transfer the brats to a pre-heated grill. Finish by grilling another 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly.

Meanwhile... back to the stovetop. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil about 5-8 minutes, until golden brown. Stir in steak sauce or BBQ sauce.

Arrange tortillas: Add onion mixture, about 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese and one bratwurst into each tortilla. Wrap the bottom side up first, then fold in the sides.

Serve with frosty cold ale on a warm summer afternoon!

5/22/2009

Homemade Salmon Burgers


Yep, its burger season! With Memorial Day this weekend, grills all over the country are firing up. Does this mean you need to give up on your diet? What if you don't eat red meat?

My favorite alternative is Homemade Salmon Burgers. So much easier (and healthier) than you might think. Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. And, it may be an option if you or your guests are vegetarian.

This is no fish tale! You may never go back to boring burgers again...

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds fresh salmon filets (remove skin and any bones you can see), but into small, 1-2 inch pieces
4 green peppers, sliced
1/2 T. fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper
rolls or buns for 4 people
any condiments you may enjoy: sliced avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, tartar sauce
1/2 fresh lemon (optional)

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse the salmon a few times until coarsely chopped. Add the green onions, dill, and about 1/4-1/2 t. each salt and pepper. Continue pulsing until combined.

Preheat your grill to medium-high. Use oil or cooking spray to lubricate before grilling.

Take the salmon mixture and form into 4 patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Grill on each side about 3-4 minutes. Toast the rolls or buns, if desired. Top with freshly squeezed lemon juice, sliced veggies (tomatoes, lettuce or avocado), and any sauces you enjoy.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

5/20/2009

Mixed Green Salad with Fruit

Mixed Green Salad with Fruit is an excellent accompaniment to your main course. You may even want to make it into a meal by adding sliced rotisserie chicken before tossing. I bring this salad recipe with me to potlucks and parties often because it is so fresh and tasty. Just wait before adding the dressing until right before serving.

Fresh raspberries and strawberries are especially delicious in the summer. At cooler times of the year, try experimenting with pomegranate seeds or blood orange slices instead of mandarins.

Ingredients:

1 package salad greens (about 1 1/2 cups freshly washed greens - throw a bit of spinach in too)
1/2 c. fresh raspberries
1/2 c. fresh sliced strawberries
1 can mandarin oranges (drained)
1/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 c. raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Directions:

Toast almonds by placing in a baking pan in a single layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Stir often.

Combine salad greens, fruit, cheese and then add nuts. Right before serving, add salad dressing and mix well.

That's it! Now you can focus on your dinner conversations instead!

5/19/2009

Cheese and Bacon Chicken Breasts


Nothing says summer like chicken and grilling. If you are looking for a little more flavor, we recommend Cheese and Bacon Chicken Breasts. It looks much fancier than the 1/2 hour it takes to whip up. Added bonus: kids love cheese and bacon. So, this one is an easy sell on a hot summer's night.

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 strips of bacon, cooked and drained
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh snipped rosemary

Directions:

Between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness. On each breast, add 2-3 T. of shredded cheese and 2-3 T. crumbled cooked bacon. Roll up tightly and secure with toothpicks.

Heat grill to medium temperature (325-375 degrees). Brush chicken with combination of balsamic vinegar and oil. Sprinkle with rosemary. Grill on both sides about 10-15 minutes, turning as needed.

Enjoy Cheese and Bacon Chicken Breasts with crusty french bread and fresh salad greens. Don't forget your sunscreen and bug spray!

5/18/2009

Poblano Stuffed Peppers

Spring is a great time to enjoy spicy food! This light recipe for Poblano Stuffed Peppers is not only easy, its low-fat and vegetarian. In just 1/2 hour, you can have a delicious Mexican-flavor dish for your family that you'll be proud to serve to guests, too.

Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers, halved and seeded (or substitute 4 green bell peppers)
4-5 plum tomatoes, cut in half
1 red onion, sliced
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. instant polenta
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 10-oz. package frozen corn (or 3/4 c. fresh corn kernels)
1/4 c. goat cheese
4 sliced green onions
1 sliced green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to broil. In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes, peppers, onion and olive oil. Place vegetables on a broiler sheet, cut side down. Broil 5-8 minutes, stirring carefully a few times. Reduce heat of oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, onion, connamon, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper. Blend until smooth. Spread 1/2 of this sauce evenly in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Place the peppers on top, cut side up.

Prepare the polenta according to package directions. Cook 3-4 minutes. Stir in corn kernels, goat cheese and 4 sliced scallions.

Now, divide the polenta mixture among the peppers, then take the remaining sauce top the polenta stuffed peppers. Bake about 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 sliced scallion before serving.

5/14/2009

Chicken and Couscous

For a fast, low-calorie, low-fat meal, its time to consider Chicken and Couscous. This is satisfying and relatively inexpensive. Two important factors for my lifestyle!

In about 20 minutes, you can serve a family of 4 at less than 400 calories each. Of course, this means you can have ice cream bars later! Or perhaps another glass of wine.

Decisions, decisions.... In the meantime, let's review dinner!

Ingredients:

3/4 c. couscous (uncooked)
2 t. olive oil
1 pound chicken breast tenders (uncooked)
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 T. chopped garlic
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. raisins
1 t. chopped thyme
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. red pepper
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. ground cloves

Directions:

Boil 1 c. water over high heat in a saucepan. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and wait 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Heat the olive oil, then stir fry the chicken, onion and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in broth and all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Serve chicken mixture over cooked couscous. Delicious! We enjoy Chicken and Couscous with rolls and fresh salad greens.

5/11/2009

Grilled Sirloin Salad

Love summer. Love BBQ. Love salad. Yep, its time for Grilled Sirloin Salad.

This one is for those of us that have healthy appetites, but don't want to load up on empty carbohydrates and calories. However, if you have a husband that still craves that stuff, then serve some crusty french bread and beer on the side.

At less than 300 calories per serving, you CAN have your steak and your waistline too!

Ingredients:

1 pound lean boneless sirloin steak (or substitute flank steak)
1 T. chili powder
2 t. oregano
1 t. thyme
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
8 c. salad greens (pick up pre-mixed greens, or make your own)
1 c. sliced red bell pepper
1 c. sliced red onion
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t. olive oil
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 can (1 1/2 c.) whole kernel corn (or substitute with fresh corn kernels)

Directions:

Rub steak with the next 7 ingredients above, coating both sides. Grill over medium heat approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until desired temperature. If you don't want to fire up the grill, then bake at 400 degrees about 10-12 minutes, turning once.

Slice the steak across the grain, into 1/2" thickness.

Combine salad greens and all remaining ingredients in a large salad/serving bowl. Add steak.

Serves 4 people (about 3 c. salad with 3 oz. steak).

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

I'll be honest, "Philly Cheesesteak Pizza" doesn't really involve steak. But that's the good thing! This recipe is much less expensive, and just a bit healthier. Homemade pizza is a the closest thing to fast food our family comes these days.

This recipe serves 2-4, and has a cost of about$3 per person (or less)! Start, to finish, you can have dinner on the table in about 20 minutes. Because it is "open faced" you'll save on the extra bread that comes with a true cheesesteak sandwich.

Ingredients:

1 Boboli pizza crust (or other pre-baked crust), 12 inches in diameter.
1 pound ground beef
1 yellow onion, sliced thin and separated into rings
1 green or red bell pepper (optional), cored and sliced into 1/4" slices
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (or pizza blend cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir and cook about 5-6 minutes. Add onion and pepper. Cook another 3-4 minutes. Make sure no pink remains with the beef. Drain the fat. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Take the pizza crust and place on a baking sheet. Top with the beef mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Don't worry that there is no "sauce" with this pizza. You won't even miss it.

Enjoy a great Philly Cheesesteak Pizza dinner tonight!

5/10/2009

Veggie Quesadillas

Kids usually love Mexican food, but how can you get them to eat their vegetables? Its easy with Veggie Quesadillas. Based with corn, onion and pepper, these are harmless, tasty vegetables, that most children will love.

Have a vegetarian lifestyle? This is perfect for you! Quick, easy and low-fat. My top three for a great recipe.

Who doesn't love a quesadilla? Certainly not anyone in my family!

Ingredients:

1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
7 oz. canned corn (or about 1/2 c. frozen corn)
1 T. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. honey
4 flour tortillas
1/4 c. salsa
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. sour cream

Directions:

Saute the onion and pepper in the olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add corn and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar and honey. Cook for about 1 more minute, then remove from heat.

Take out the tortillas, then spread each with 1 T. of salsa. Divide veggie mixture among each one. Sprinkle each with cheese. Fold bottom of the tortilla up, then each side in.

Place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil under high heat for 1-2 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Enjoy a quick and tasty dinner!

5/09/2009

Easy Yogurt Pie

Happy Mother's Day! If you are planning a meal for mom, and you have young children, this is the simplest, no-fuss dessert recipe. Easy Yogurt Pie has just three ingredients. No cracking eggs or measuring a single thing! You won't even turn the oven on.

We serve this all summer long, as it is low-fat and refreshing. Just pick Mom's favorite yogurt flavor - or make a couple pies for variety!

Ingredients:

1 prepared graham cracker pie crust
1 32 oz. container of yogurt (2 pounds) - any flavor, low-fat, non-fat, you choose!
1 16 oz. container of Cool Whip, thawed

Directions:

Remove the wrapping from the graham cracker crust. Leave the crust in the foil container.

Combine the yogurt and Cool Whip. Spoon into the crust. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Remove immediately before serving.

If you like, you can garnish with fresh fruit - sliced strawberries, blueberries, etc. Add a sprig of mint to really dress it up! You may even want to drizzle some chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, or decorative sprinkles over the top.

Mom will be so proud - and happy not to have a big mess in her kitchen!

5/08/2009

Spaghetti Primavera


Kids love noodles, but not so much vegetables. That's why Spaghetti Primavera is such a great way to get your children to eat green. If you involve them in the preparation, you can probably even get them excited about dinner!

This spaghetti recipe is vegetarian too, but if you want a bit of protein, try tossing it with some cooked chicken breast or tofu.

Ingredients:

8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1 1/2 c. broccoli florets
1/2 zucchini, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
1 c. peas, shelled (frozen works too)
1 tomato, chopped
1 T. butter
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. vegetable broth
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:


Cook the spaghetti noodles according to directions. Drain and set aside.

Steam broccoli and zucchini over boiling water in a covered saucepan about 4-6 minutes, until tender crisp. Don't over cook!

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and saute the green onions 1-2 minutes. Stir in peas for an additional minute. Add tomato, plus pre-steamed broccoli and zucchini and continue sauteeing for another minute. Stir in the cream, vegetable broth, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Continue to cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Stir in cooked spaghetti noodles. Enjoy your springtime, green dinner!

5/07/2009

Grilled Fruit Kebobs

For a delicious twist on fruit salad, you should try Grilled Fruit Kebabs (aka shisk-kabobs). Trust me, this isn't just any fruit on a stick! As with most of our recipes, feel free to experiment yourself, trying different fruits as they are in season.

We enjoy this recipe as an appetizer, or with other summer offerings, from burgers to grilled salmon.

Ingredients:

2 c. fresh strawberries (and/or other firm fruit - try pineapple, cantaloupe, peeled apple chunks)
4 fresh apricots (cut into wedges)
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. dark rum or whiskey
1/2 T. fresh mint (optional)

Directions:

With wood or metal skewers, thread strawberries, alternating with apricots (again, you can use any kind of fruit you like instead).

In a food processor or blender, combine the butter and brown sugar. Pour in the alcohol and mint (if desired) and pulse a few times.

Use a pastry brush to "paint" the flavored butter on the fruit. Grill over medium-high heat for 1 minute on each side.

** Tip: I read in a book that when washing the strawberries, use white or red wine instead of water. This will help the berries stay firm, and will boost their flavor.

5/06/2009

Bass With Tomato and Leeks

Anytime I think about cooking a healthy dinner, my mind tells me that its too much work. Intuitively, I know that its not true. Especially with a meal like Bass with Tomato and Leeks, where you can have your meal on the table in less than 1/2 hour. Please excuse your inner critic from the dinner table!

Fish is healthy and eco-friendly. I especially love this recipe because I can get healthy fish oils as well as vegetables all in one.

Ingredients:

4 six-once filets of striped bass or tilapia
1 slice bread, torn into small pieces
1 t. chopped fresh rosemary
2 T. olive oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 leeks, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 c. cherry tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a food processor or blender, combine the bread, rosemary and 1 T. of oil.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Place filets on the sheet. Spread the mustard on each filet and then sprinkle with the prepared bread crumbs. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the fish is in the oven, heat 1 T. oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, garlic and 1/2 c. watetr. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over the prepared fish filets.

Serve with fresh, light salad and rolls, if you wish.

5/05/2009

Top 3 Margarita Recipes

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Its time to celebrate with the top 3 margarita recipes that we've found through friends and followers (on Twitter, that is). Not only will you learn the tastiest Tequila concoctions, but we're also here to offer tips on making the best margaritas.

Make sure you have plenty of tapas - whether chips and dip, or something spicier. You don't want your new found fame as a Cinco de Mayo bartender to go to your head!

Classic Margarita (i.e., rocks with salt)

I've never been a blender girl. I much prefer my margaritas simple and straight-up. That's why this one tops the list.

Ingredients:

3/4 c. tequila (pick something good, like Cuervo 1800)
1/2 c. fresh lime juice (this requires 4-5 limes)
1/3 c. premium triple sec
1/2 c. crushed ice
kosher salt (optional)
1 sliced lime

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, triple sec, crushed ice. Take each lime, roll them on the counter, pushing hard. Slice in half and squeeze each half over the other ingredients.

Shake for about 20-30 seconds.

Take 4 rocks glasses (please, save those fru-fru Mexican glasses for vacation) and rim them with a sliced lime. Place the salt on a platter and dip the rims of each glass in the salt. Add ice cubes and pour margaritas into each one. Garnish with a lime slice.

Rock Your World Mango Margarita

Your guests won't see this one coming. Its a spicy version of a mango margarita. Be sure to have some water on hand to cool your tastebuds.

Ingredients:

1/3 c. Tabasco Tequila
1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced (or use 1/2 c. frozen)
1/4 c. Triple Sec
1/4 c. fresh lime juice (see above)
1/4 c. simple syrup
3/4 c. crushed ice

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. Best bet is to serve in a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a speared mango, if you wish.


Beer Margaritas

No, this is not the white trash version of the Mexican cocktail. You'll be surprised at how delicious this one tastes. Adding beer to the mixture cuts down on the sweetness and gives the drink a bit of "heft." Just be sure to consider the extra alcohol content so you don't over-do it.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. tequila
1/2 bottle of beer (go with Corona or a similar light lager)
1/2 c. Grand Marnier
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 lemon (juiced)
1 lime (juiced)
** if you don't have the citrus fruit on hand, you can use 1-2 T. concentrate

Directions:

Add all to a blender with 1 c. crushed ice. Blend well. Garnish with a lime and enjoy responsibly!

Have a great celebration!

5/04/2009

Best Homemade Chicken Enchiladas

What are your plans for Cinco de Mayo this year? The annual celebration on the 5th of May (traditionally a Mexican holiday, but now recognized throughout the world) includes delicious Mexican dishes, margaritas and perhaps a few shots of Tequila.... if you have the day off work the next day!

We're enjoying the best homemade Chicken Enchiladas this year, since we're not going to be partying with the young crowd (unless you count our children). In less than an hour, you can dine as if you are in an authentic Mexican restaurant, at about 1/3 of the cost. Now that is worth celebrating!

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 t. ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shred the meat off the bones
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 c. grated Montery Jack cheese
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch size)
  • 1 c. salsa


Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the tomatillos, onion, pepper, garlic, cumin and about 1/2 t. of salt in the oil. Cook, stirring frequently about 10-12 minutes. Take mixture and place into a food processor, add the cream and puree.

Combine the shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, 1/2 c. of the tomatillo sauce you just made, and 1/2 t. of salt and pepper, each in a separate bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 13x9 inch baking dish, spread 1/2 c. of the tomatillo sauce.

Take out the tortillas. Add about 1/4 c. of the chicken mixture to each tortilla. Fold in bottom and then fold in the sides. Place into the dish, seam-side down. Top with remaining tomatillo sauce and Montery Jack cheese.

Bake 12-16 minutes, until browned. Serve with salsa and/or guacamole. Especially tasty with an ice-cold margarita!

5/02/2009

Chile and Rice Casserole

Three days and counting until Cinco de Mayo! If you're entertaining a crowd, they'll enjoy Chile and Rice Casserole. Super easy and vegetarian to boot! This is a definite go-to recipe for any type of party or potluck.

It can stand as a main course, or side dish for tacos or burritos. Bring on the tortilla chips, too!

Ingredients:
  • Two 7-oz cans diced roasted green chiles, drained
  • 3 pints low-fat sour cream
  • 1 t. salt
  • 6 c. cooked rice (white or brown, but remember - whole grain is healthier!)
  • 1 1/2pounds Montery Jack cheese, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese


Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix the chiles, sour cream and salt together.

Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Layer 1/3 of the cooked rice into the dish, cover with 1/2 of the sour cream mixture and 1/2 of the Montery Jack cheese strips. Repeat the layers again, then end with a layer of rice. Top with the cheddar cheese and cover with foil.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1-1 1/2 hours until bubbling and brown on the edges.

Serves 9-12 people! Party on!!

Short cuts: Make the dish ahead of time and refrigerate for up to a day, and/or bake ahead of time and serve at room temperature.

5/01/2009

Wild Mushroom Salad

For a tasty spring treat, go light and delicious with Wild Mushroom Salad. Its a perfect vegetarian meal, as well, satisfying with meaty pieces of mushrooms. We suggest using chanterells, porcini and oyster mushrooms. Throw in a few brown cap mushrooms to help you stay in budget.

Before we get started, a quick note about storing mushrooms. Always purchase whole mushrooms and store them in brown paper bags. Presliced mushrooms are not as flavorful and will go limp and soggy soon. Another tip: Do not peel mushrooms unless you have to. Gently wipe off any dirt instead of washing them. This will preserve as much flavor as possible.

Ingredients:
1 pound mixed mushrooms, sliced (see notes above)
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 T olive oil
1 lemon
2 T. real cream butter
2-3 cups mixed salad greens
1 bunch fresh snipped chives
1 T. dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste


Directions:
Take a medium saute pan and rub with the clove of garlic. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add mushrooms and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir until melted.

Roll the lemon on the counter, pressing firmly. Cut in half, and squeeze lemon juice over the mushrooms (use both halves).

Place washed salad greens into a serving bowl. Remove the mushrooms from the pan with a slotted spoon, reserving juices. Add mushrooms to the salad.

Return the saute pan with mushroom juices to the stove, add sherry and cook over medium heat about 2-3 minutes, reducing to 1/3 volume. Pour over mushrooms and salad greens. Add snipped chives, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

4/30/2009

Potato Chips and Chocolate

When I first saw this recipe, I really could not believe it.... potato chips and chocolate! Have I died and gone to heaven? Well, maybe if they could erase the bloating and weight gain, then yes!

Sadly, this is one of the dishes that you'll have to enjoy in moderation (darn it!) Still, when you've had the week that I had... it is totally worth it! There is always another day for dieting.

In the meantime, console yourself with the fact that dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, which means this is good for you!

Ingredients:

9 oz. kettle-cooked plain potato chips
4 oz. dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 t. vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped pistachio nuts
1/2 T. coarse kosher salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Directions:

Combine the chocolate and oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. Nuke on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is melted. Stir.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Dip the potato chips into the chocolate mixture, one at a time, and then set onto the lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle with the nuts, salt and/or cayenne pepper.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm.

Do I need to tell you, its ready for eating and enjoying?

4/29/2009

Olive Crostini

This is our middle sister, Jeanette's, "famous" Olive Crostini recipe. We've been enjoying this tasty, easy appetizer for years - at every holiday, party and even just casual gatherings. Trust me, once you make it for the first time, it will be a reliable stand-by for you in years to come.

Ingredients:

1/3 c. black olives (pitted)
1/2 c. green olives with pimento
2 garlic cloves
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley
1 fresh baguette

Directions:

In a food processor, chop both types of olives coarsely. Put into a medium bowl and set aside. With the food processor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube and mince. Add Parmesan cheese, butter and olive oil. Process the ingredients into a paste.

Add paste to olives, then fold in Monterey Jack cheese and parsley. Stir together.

Preheat oven to broil.

Cut baguette into 1/4 inch thick slices. Spread with olive mixture. Broil until bubbly and browned (about 3-5 minutes - watch very carefully so you don't burn them!)

Serve warm. Oh my goodness - who doesn't love olives? This is such an easy, delicious appetizer recipe. Enjoy and please do share in the comments below if you try it!

4/28/2009

BLT Smashed Potatoes


I will say right now that this is the best potato recipe you'll ever taste. BLT Smashed Potatoes are easy and super delicious. After you whip this together a few times, you won't even need to consult the directions. In my book, that is a perfect recipe!

I even found a way to serve this to my vegetarian friends (alterations below). Potatoes are a great side dish for many meats and burgers. Since I don't care whether or not I have substantial protein at each meal, I'm happy to enjoy this dish as my meal.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound bacon
1 bunch fresh leeks, washed and diced
1 fresh tomato, diced (alternatively, one 9 oz. jar dried tomatoes, chopped)
1 T. butter
1-2 pounds red potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash leeks well, separating stalks to make sure to get all grainy sand rinsed out. Dice leeks, then saute over medium heat in butter.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the red potatoes. Steam in a colander, covered, over medium-high heat, for 5-8 minutes, until tender.

While potatoes are steaming, cook bacon. I prefer to line a baking sheet with foil and and then cook at 400 degrees in the oven. You can also fry in a large saucepan over high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Crumble when finished.

After the potatoes are cooked, drain and put into a serving bowl. Add sauteed leeks, chopped tomato and crumbled bacon.

When I made this for a vegetarian couple, I substituted bacon with dried tomatoes. You get just as much flavor, with lower fat and calories.

This recipe is an easy, family favorite. Try it a few times and before long, it will be a staple dish in your home.

4/27/2009

Sea Bass with Mustard Champagne Sauce


Most of us could stand to eat less meat and more fish and vegetables. Cold water catches like Sea Bass are delicious and high in nutrients like zinc and Omega-3s. Conversely, they are low in fat, yet satisfying due to their high protein content.

Recently, people have been concerned about the safety of eating large amounts of fish due to mercury levels. While Sea Bass is not exempt from the warnings, it is relatively low in mercury levels, compared to swordfish and halibut (see the attached FDA webpage). Like all good things, be sure to enjoy in moderation!

Sea Bass with Mustard Champagne Sauce is a delicious meal that can make any evening feel special.

Ingredients:

6 sea bass fillets
3 T. freshly chopped shallots
1 c. champagne or sparkling white wine
2 T. Dijon mustard
3 T. butter
1 T flour
1 c. half and half
1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a 13X9 baking dish, spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add chopped shallots in a single layer. Place the sea bass fillets in the dish, then add salt and pepper.

Dot the fillets with butter. Pour the champagne over the top and cover loosely with foil (dull side up). Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove the fillets and place on a large serving platter. Reserve the liquid in the dish!

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add the flour. Stir for 10-15 seconds, then add the liquid from the baking dish. Whisk in the cream and mustard. Reduce sauce to desired consistency. Add juice of one lemon (roll lemon on counter first, cut in half and squeeze into pan). Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the sea bass fillets and serve! Garnish with additional slices of lemon and fresh parsley if you wish.

Excellent with delicate salad greens and wild rice.

4/26/2009

Tasty Apple Crisp

So, I know its not fall, but I just have to share my favorite Tasty Apple Crisp recipe. We made this last night and brought it over to a friend's house for dessert.

Given that you can get good quality apples year-round, who wouldn't want to enjoy a bowl of apple crisp, with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream?

Be sure to pick the best apples for baking, however. Red Delicious are great for snaking, but not so tasty in apple crisp.

Your better choices include: Jonathan apples, Rome Beauty, Winesap or Golden Delicious. For apple crisps and pies, tart varieties work best!

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh apples (about 8-9 apples), peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 lemon
1/2 c. butter (one stick - works best), plus 1/2 T. butter
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Peel, core and slice the apples and place into a large bowl

Roll lemon on the countertop, slice in half and squeeze over sliced apples (careful not to get seeds in the bowl!)

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to apples and stir well.



Take a 13x9 inch pyrex baking dish and grease with 1/2 T. butter

Pour apples into the dish and spread in a single layer

In a medium bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, oats and chopped nuts. Take 1/2 c. (one stick butter) and, using a pastry knife or fork, combine until crumbly. **NOTE: some people prefer to melt the butter and then add to the flour mixture.

Sprinkle the flour/oat mixture over the top of the apples.

Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes.

Did I mention how great this tastes with vanilla bean ice cream? Dig in!

4/25/2009

Shrimp With Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

With swimsuit season around the corner, you may be thinking about cutting back. Trust me, its no fun eating rabbit food and rice cakes all the time.

That's why I love Shrimp With Tomatoes and Feta Cheese for dinner instead. For under 300 calories a serving, this flavorful protein-rich dinner will keep you from dangerous evening snacking later!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (not bay shrimp)
2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz. each)
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley
1 t. fresh minced dill
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

In an oven safe skillet, saute onions in olive oil for about three minutes on the stovetop (over medium heat). Add minced garlic and saute for another minute or two. Stir in 2 cans of tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7-8 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in fresh herbs and shrimp. Add salt, pepper and feta cheese.

Place in preheated 425 oven and bake 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy on its own, or over whole grain rice or pasta. "Dieting" never tasted so good!

4/24/2009

Fettuccine with Peas and Ham


On the go all the time with your family? Join the club! But please drive right past the fast food outlet.

There's something better: Fettuccine with Peas and Ham! This is a super fast recipe that takes less than 2o minutes to get on the table. And the taste puts Big Macs to shame.

Think Fettuccine is too heavy? This one is less than 400 calories per serving!

Ingredients:

1 package fresh fettuccine pasta (9-10 oz.)
1 T. butter (don't use margarine -butter is fresher and better tasting)
1 clove minced fresh garlic (you can use 1 t. bottled minced garlic in a pinch)
1 c. frozen green peas (substitute fresh peas in the summer)
3/4 c. sliced mushrooms
2/3 c. half and half
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 c. thinly sliced ham - cut into 1/4 inch strips

Directions:

Cook the pasta, per the package directions and drain. Set aside

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add peas, mushrooms, cream, cheese, salt and pepper. Stir and continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring the entire time. Do not bring to a boil. Turn off heat.

Stir in pasta and ham. Serve!

This recipe makes enough for a family of 4 (over 1 cup per serving). We serve fresh greens with balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side.

4/23/2009

Blueberry Granita

Early summer is here on the High Desert. Its been in the 80s this week, which gets me in the mood for Blueberry Granita. Such a perfect dessert recipe because you can make it 24 hours ahead.

Don't worry, it sounds like much more work than it is. And if blueberries aren't your thing, feel free to replace with raspberries, blackberries, or the like.

Ingredients:

For the Granita:
2 quarts blueberries (or other fresh berries)
1 1/2 c. water (divided)
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3 T. fresh lemon juice

For the Compote:
2 c. sliced strawberries (divided)
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
1 piece lemon rind (about 2 inches thick)
3/4 c. blueberries (again, replace with other berries above if you aren't going blue)
1 t. fresh lemon juice

Instructions:

Make the granita first, by placing berries in a food processor or blender and processing until smooth (1-2 minutes). Slowly add 1 c. water and continue processing.

Strain the berry mixture through a sieve and discard solid pieces.

Combine 1/2 c. water and 3/4 c. sugar in a saucepan over high heat on the stove. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Take the mixture and add 3 T. lemon juice with berry mixture from above. Pour into a 13 x 9 glass baking dish and allow to cool. Freeze for 2 hours, then flake with a fork. Return to freezer and repeat flaking and re-freezing every 30 minutes for 2 hours. Cover and freeze one more time for 1 hour.

Prepare compote by placing 1 c. strawberries in a food processor or blender and processing until smooth. As above, strain through a sieve and discard solids.

Combine 1/2 c. water, 1/3 c. sugar and lemon rind in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute tand then remove from heat. Take out rind and discard.

Add strawberries puree, quartered strawberries, blueberries and 1 t. lemon juice to the saucepan. Stir and then let cool.

To serve... spoon compote into 8 bowls and then top with granita.

This is a wonderful, practically non-fat dessert for under 200 calories!

4/22/2009

Honey and Balsamic Glazed Chicken

This post is in honor of my son, who happened to be watching the Food Network while I was having a pedicure last weekend. He asked me to make Honey and Balsamic Glazed Chicken, but I missed the show (admittedly, I was reading the latest Oprah magazine, instead).

So, we had to improvise a bit. Fortunately, my son agrees that my recipe tastes as good as he imagined it would be!

Ahhh... what a good boy. Try this and see if you agree!

Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T. fresh chopped thyme
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. honey

Directions:

1. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and thyme.

2. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 4 minutes on each side, turning once. Remove chicken and keep warm.

3. Add balsamic vinegar and honey to pan and simmer 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until glaze thickens.

4. Pour glaze over chicken and enjoy!

You can use this glaze for salmon or pork, as well. Its so versatile and delicious!

4/21/2009

Homemade French Fries

Wondering what to serve with your grilling recipes this summer? My family loves homemade french fries! Perfect for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any fun gathering, seasoned fries like these are a tasty addition to burgers, chicken, fruit salad, etc.

Step away from the freezer. You don't need those stale, tasteless potatoes to ruin your meal. Come on - these homemade fries are the perfect accompaniment for your delicious recipes. And they're so easy. Since they are not deep fried, they are so much healthier too.

Ingredients:

2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2"-1/4" inch strips
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil
1 t. kosher salt
1/8 t. freshly ground pepper
1/8 t. red pepper flakes (if desired)
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 paprika
1/4 t. seasoning salt
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (if desired)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir well.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and crispy.

If you watch your serving size (these directions make 4 servings), you'll add only 200 calories to your main dish (compare with 250 calories for a small fry helping at McDonald's)!

Where will you eat your homemade french fries this year?

4/20/2009

Chicken and Mandarin Oranges

Quick! Its almost dinnertime! What are you going to serve tonight? Why not Chicken and Mandarin Oranges? No, really... its not too much work (though it tastes like you spent much more than the 20 minutes it will take you from start to finish.

Take a "wok" on the wild side, or use an ordinary non-stick skillet. You'll see why this Asian-inspired chicken recipe is a family favorite at our house!

Amazingly, this recipe is less than 400 calories per serving (serves 4) That means its a double bonus recipe: fast AND low-calorie!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (4 breasts, sliced into smaller tender pieces)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1/2 c. orange marmalade
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. lemon juice (slice 1/2 lemon and squeeze the juice, carefully catching and removing seeds)
1/2 t. dry yellow mustard
1/2 c. chopped green onions
1 can (7 oz) mandarin oranges

Directions:

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat butter and olive oil in a wok, or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 4 minutes on each side, until browned. Leave in pan, but turn off heat until third step.

2. In a medium bowl, combine marmalade, cornstarch, lemon juice and mustard with a whisk. Stir in mandarin oranges.

3. Add orange mixture to chicken, and simmer over low heat about 5-6 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Sprinkle with chopped green onions

Serve with white or brown rice, seasoned with 1/2 c. each sliced green onions and chopped cashews. Or, serve over cooked and drained rice pasta noodles.

4/18/2009

Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops


Nothing says summer like grilling season! Trust me, your neighbors will certainly drop by when the smell the aroma of Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops coming from your backyard. The sweetness of bourbon and honey has never met a chop it didn't like! First, it serves as a marinade, and then after bringing to a boil, its a luscious sauce.

Add some fresh peaches, and you're that much closer to heaven.

Ingredients:

4 boneless pork chops, trimmed
1/3 c. bourbon
1/4 c. honey
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. vegetable oil
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh peaches, pitted and cut in half

Directions:

Combine bourbon, honey, soy sauce, oil, ginger, red and black pepper. Wash and pat dry pork chops. Add to a large freezer Ziploc bag and pour marinade in, add peaches. Combine well, lock bag and set aside.

Pre-heat your grill to medium high heat (or you can use a nonstick grill pan indoors), spray with cooking spray. Grill the pork about 4 minutes each side. Grill the peaches about 4 minutes total.

Meanwhile, place the marinade in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Spoon marinade over the grilled pork and peaches.

Did I already say "heaven?" Unbelievably delicious!

4/17/2009

Lemon Souffle Pancakes and Blueberry Syrup

Its the weekend! That means leisurely breakfasts and an extra cup of coffee.

Don't go out for brunch on Sunday... make Lemon Souffle Pancakes and Blueberry Syrup. I think I originally saw this recipe in Sunset magazine. The souffle part comes from the extra step of beating the egg whites and folding them into the pancake mixture. Instead of heavy, dense pancakes, you get heavenly light, lemon-y bites!

We've tweaked the original recipe a bit to make the lemon taste stand out. Its even better if you have your own lemons, but if you aren't so fortunate, just pick fresh citrus from a local fruit stand, if possible.


Ingredients:

2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 fresh lemon (For a sweeter taste, pick a Meyer Lemon): from this you will need 1 T. grated lemon peel and 3-4 T. lemon juice
2 eggs (separate yolk from whites - you need both parts)
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
4 T. melted butter (divided)
1 c. maple syrup

For another interesting breakfast idea, check out this White Chocolate and Blueberry Pancake recipe!



Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

Take the lemon and roll it gently on the counter, pressing firmly on the top. This will help release the juices. Before juicing the lemon, use a small grater and peel 1 tablespoon of the zest. Reserve. Cut lemon in half and use a juicer (or you can just squeeze over a small bowl) to get several tablespoons of juice.

Now, mix together the zest, lemon juice, egg yolks, buttermilk and 2 T. butter, melted.

In a deep mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff.

Add buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Fold in egg whites.

Preheat a griddle to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray or butter to grease beforehand. Pour batter, 1/4 c. at a time into portions. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Watch carefully!

Over medium-low heat, combine 2 T. butter, maple syrup and blueberries. Heat about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve blueberry syrup with lemon souffle pancakes and enjoy!

4/16/2009

Mediterranean Vegetables


If you love stir-fried vegetables, you'll enjoy Mediterranean Vegetables even more! This recipe is made on your stove top and is delicious as a side-dish, or stirred into cooked pasta for a great, low-calorie vegetarian meal. This will make about 6 servings.

With spring in the air, people are starting to plant their gardens. Just harvest your fresh veggies and herbs, then stir this up. So easy, fresh and delicious.

Ingredients:

2 c. sliced zucchini
2 c. sliced sweet peppers (green, yellow and/or red)
2 c. chopped broccoli
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 T. chopped fresh basil and/or fresh oregano
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. chicken broth
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste

Directions:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine zucchini, peppers, broccoli, garlic, herbs, pepper and broth. Bring to boiling, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomatoes at the end. Salt to taste.

For a main dish, add to 2 c. cooked pasta (I prefer whole wheat), add 1-2 T. olive oil and 1/4 c. fresh shredded Parmesan cheese. Hot, for a main dish; cold for a great tasting pasta salad.

Don't you just love fresh veggies?

4/14/2009

Beef Tenderloin

If beef is the answer for: "what's for dinner tonight", then you'll love this recipe! I really enjoy cooking a big "meat" meal -- especially on the weekends. It is so wonderful as the smells waft through the house and coax everyone downstairs to taste what's cookin'.

This recipe is from my chef neighbor's recipe box. It's delicious and wonderful to serve the family or company!

Marinade/Rub:

1/2 cup olive oil,
1 bunch chopped flat leaf parsley (leaves and thin stems only),
5-6 fresh garlic cloves-minced
1 tsp black pepper

Mix together and then pour over/rub a 2 pound beef tenderloin cut at least 24 hours before cooking. Cover and refrigerate.



Cooking Directions:

Remove beef from the mixture and scrape off most of the garlic.

Salt meat generously (about 1 T per whole tenderloin).

Place in roasting pan on the rack. Heat oven to 400 degrees and then roast tenderloin for about 25 min. Check temp with meat thermometer (145-150 degrees for med. rare). Continue to roast, checking every 5 min. until desired temperature is reached.

NOTE: If the meat has not browned enough on the outside, you can broil it for a couple of min. to crisp it right before you take it out of the oven.

Remove from roasting pan and place on cutting board that can catch juices. Let stand, covered with foil for about 15 min. before carving. Then carve into 1 inch slices and serve.

Collect all the "jus" and put in a pitcher on the table to pour over the tenderloin. Serve with roasted vegetables and salad. Delicious!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

OK, admittedly, Baked Macaroni and Cheese is not low-calorie (or even low-fat), but when you are craving comfort food, those kind of considerations go out the window. With spring in the air, you cannot tell whether it will be 40 degrees or 80!

On cooler days, I like to surprise my family with a hearty meal after baseball practice, or just a long day at school. For adults, this is a super way to take a little trip back down memory lane. Maybe just skip dessert afterwards!

If you are following a vegetarian diet, then put this one in the recipe book. Other than the hottest couple of months during summer, you can make this dish year round.

Ingredients:

1 c. smoked cheddar cheese (in Oregon, we love Tillamook), shredded
1 c. heavy cream (not half and half, please read the labels!)
3 whole shallots, roasted
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. white wine
1/2 t. fresh chopped thyme
3 cloves garlic, roasted
1 tomato, roasted
1 c. cooked elbow or penne pasta
1/4 c. bread crumbs with herbs
salt and pepper to taste



Directions:

First, roast shallots by combining them with 2 T. olive oil, 1/4 c. white wine and 1/2 t. fresh chopped thyme, then cover with foil and roast on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

You'll also need to roast the tomatoes and garlic. This will take two steps. The tomatoes can be done in 15 minutes after cutting it into quarters and coating with a bit of olive oil. Roast at 350 for 1/4 hour. Garlic will take a bit longer - coat with olive oil, salt and pepper then cover and bake for 45 minutes at 350.

All your hard roasting work is about to pay off.

Bring the heavy cream to a boil, slowly over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the garlic, shallots and pre-cooked pasta. Stir and cook for 3 minutes. Turn down heat to low and add cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Later, stir in tomato.

Pour into an oven-safe dish and sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Cook for only 8 minutes at 350 until browned.

Dig in and enjoy!