Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

Don't you wish you were my neighbor? We made plates of fudge and this delicious peppermint bark popcorn for neighbors and friends this Christmas. I love this recipe for peppermint bark popcorn because it's easy to make large batches as gifts and it tastes amazing!

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

16-20 cups popped popcorn
1 pound white chocolate almond bark
1 6 ounce box candy canes, crushed (about 1 generous cup)
2 teaspoons peppermint extract or a few drops peppermint oil to taste
3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Place popcorn in a very large mixing bowl.

Melt almond bark according to package instructions. When completely melted, add extract or peppermint oil. If using extract, it's normal for the almond bark to seize (get lumpy) which is okay, just stir very quickly because the more you wait the more it will seize.

Pour melted bark mixture over popcorn, adding crushed candy canes on top. Stir to coat evenly. Pour popcorn onto waxed paper, parchment, or foil and spread out.

Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Drizzle over popcorn mixture. Let popcorn dry completely until chocolate and almond bark are hardened. You may place in the fridge to speed the process along.

When chocolate is hardened, use your hands to break it into large chunks and then serve.

Who Dished it first? Our Best Bites

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

I'm slowly venturing into my own uncharted territory of eating eggplants. I don't know if it's my unfamiliarity with the squash or previous negative experiences but I fear eating eggplant. So...this middle eastern eggplant salad was a giant leap for me. Yum! I'm glad I took this jump. This salad is easy to make and surprisingly kid friendly seeing as my kids ate it up.

Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

2 medium red bell peppers
1 medium tomato, peeled and seeded
3 Tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Dash of ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat broiler.
Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop.
Place tomato in a blender; process until smooth. Combine tomato puree, tomato paste, 2 Tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground red pepper, and garlic in a blender; process until smooth.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add eggplant; cook 30 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in bell pepper and tomato mixture. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper.

Who Dished it first? Cooking Light, July 2009

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. If you have any leftover cranberry sauce or turkey gravy then I have the recipe for you.

My first reaction to this recipe was definitely not positive. I'm not a huge fan of cranberry sauce, especially jellied cranberry sauce. My husband on the other hand loves the mixture of cranberries and turkey. In honor of his taste preferences and because I love a good hamburger I decided to make this meal.

The verdict: Thanksgiving dinner in a bun. Serious!

The patties are moist and packed with Thanksgiving flavors of thyme, turkey, cranberry, and even gravy. I would definitely cook these in a fry pan instead of a grill because I'm not sure how well they will would hold together. The burgers held for me but they were delicate. I overlooked adding oil to my fry pan and since turkey is a leaner meat the patties were stickier than I would have liked so be sure to add the oil.

The best compliment I can hope for is my husband sincerely praising the dinner after each bite he takes.  This meal hit that nail on the head! He L.O.V.E.D. it! Gravy and jellied cranberry on a turkey burger. You might be surprised. No, you will be surprised.


1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 cup turkey-flavored stuffing mix
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1 Tbsp. oil
6 lettuce leaves
6 hamburger buns
1/3 cup turkey gravy, warmed
6 slices jellied cranberry sauce

In a large bowl combine whole-berry cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and thyme. Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well. Shape into six patties.

In a large skillet, cook burgers in oil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees and juices run clear.

Place burgers on lettuce-lined buns; top with a spoonful of gravy and a slice of cranberry sauce.

Who Dished it first? Taste of Home magazine October/November 2010

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baked Caramel French Toast

I love easy morning breakfasts that are warm and delicious. This breakfast casserole recipe includes preparing the dish the night before using a loaf of French bread and baking it in the morning.  Easy! I've eaten many variations similar to this but most use eggs as a main ingredient whereas the focus of this dish is bread and caramel. Delicious!

Baked Caramel French Toast

1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1 inch slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup

Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish; arrange the slices of bread in the dish. In a large bowl beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.

Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Who Dished it first? AllRecipes

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nerd Ice Cream Sandwiches

We still have a lot of Halloween candy in our house. I handed out 900+ pieces one by one to the swarm of kids at my door and I'm not exaggerating. My kids even donated some of their candy loot to the pot but we still have candy to get rid of. So, since I can't make these sweets go away as fast as I want we'll just eat and enjoy.

My kids were so excited when I told them what I made for dessert. Nerd ice cream sandwiches! Chocolate, ice cream, and candy all in one. What kid wouldn't be happy to eat one of these? My kids were all too willing to pull out their Halloween candy, contribute the Nerds, and roll away.

I liked the tart flavor and crunch the Nerds add to the cookie sandwich. The cookies held together when squished but I thought they were somewhat dry. The ice cream covered the dryness of the cookie but eaten alone (I snuck a bite fresh from the oven) they were not as enjoyable. Possibly they're meant to be dry so they don't crumble under the pressure (lame joke) or I might have over-baked them. Either way, the dough is fabulously rich in bittersweet chocolate flavor and we enjoyed our sweet treat.

Nerd Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups tiny tart candies such as Nerds

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop 24 slightly rounded Tbsps of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until firm around the egdes but slightly soft in the middle, 9 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Form sandwiches with 2 cookies and 1/4 cup ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes or up to 1 day. Before serving, place the candies in a bowl and roll the edge of the ice cream in the candies to coat.

Womens Day (October 17, 2011 magazine)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Curry-Tomato Sauce with Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Chickpeas

In an attempt to eat healthier, save dollars, and rotate my long-term food storage I'm making an effort to cook more meatless meals. This dish is one of my new favorites. De-li-cious!!

What I love about this curry spaghetti meal is:

  • The whole wheat pasta adds a great nutty flavor to the dish.
  • I didn't have curry powder on hand so I used the substitution of the 5 spices listed below. I really liked the fresh flavor of the spices versus premixed curry and will definitely be using this fresh mixture in the future.
  • The fresh goat cheese topping adds a tart flavor that completes the blend of pepper heat and warm curry.
  • The Hawaiian chile pepper I had on hand is very hot so for the my kids' benefit I substituted a shake of cayenne pepper to give the dish some kick but not too much.
  • Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas. ("Tomato. Tomahto.") I love these little beans. They add a solidity to this dish making it more than just noodles and sauce. They're like the meatball to this Mediterranean pasta.

Curry-Tomato Sauce with Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Chickpeas

1 lb whole wheat or other whole grain spaghetti
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 fresno or other fresh chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp mild curry powder (or about 2 tsp turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp each ground cumin and coriander, and a scant 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and cardamom)
1/2 cup dry white wine, chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 can (28 to 32 oz) san marzano tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained
Grated aged goat cheese or tangy pecarino-romano cheese, for topping
Flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it and add the pasta. Cook to al dente; drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile pepper and garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the curry powder (or your own curry blend) amd season the salt. Stir to toast the spices for a minute. Deglaze the pan with the stock.

Add the tomatoes and crush with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced, 15 to 20 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the sauce and reserved pasta cooking water to combine. Top with the cheese and parsley (or cilantro).

Who Dished it first? Rachael Ray

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing

I love green salads, preferably made with romaine or green leaf. For me Iceberg is like eating crunchy water and lacks the high vitamin content I want while spinach really feels too similar to eating leaves. I know, I am eating leaves. I just don't want to feel like I'm eating leaves. Know what I mean?

If you want your dark green leafy veggies but don't want to feel like a rabbit as my husband puts it, here's a fun way to eat your greens and enjoy great flavor. Kale is a vitamin-rich leafy green that's crisp and firm (not wilty like spinach) and the strong flavor of the leaf is masked by the peanut dressing. My husband the devout carnivore had seconds of this salad and I even heard a compliment or two.

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing

2 large bunches curly kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups)
1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper
2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup vegetalbe oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup salted peanuts
2 Tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup salted peanuts

Toss 2 large bunches curly kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups); 1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, halved crosswise and thinly sliced lengthwise; and 2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise, in a large bowl.

Puree 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup salted peanuts, 2 Tablespoons packed light-brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in a blender until smooth.
Pour dressing over vegetables just before serving. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped.

Who Dished it first? Martha Stewart

Monday, November 14, 2011

Persimmon Milkshake

Persimmons. This month I received some in my veggie/fruit coop box and didn't know what to do! Last year I made a bundt cake that was good but not my favorite. This year my persimmons sat on my counter waiting. They do make great fall decorations! These cute little orange fruits with a star center are so new to me I just don't know how to eat them. Some like their taste plain like apple slices but we're not yet accustomed to their taste.
When my neighbor sent me her recipe for persimmon milkshakes I was excited to try it out. This shake is sweet and light with a very distinct cinnamon flavor that reminds me of Christmas. Plus, it is low in calories without added sugar. Mmmm!

Persimmon Milkshake

1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tray of ice (12 cubes)
2 persimmons, quartered
1 banana
dash of nutmeg
big pinch of cinnamon
add sugar if your banana is not sweet

Blend all ingredients until frothy and serve immediately.

Who Dished it first? My neighbor, the very one who introduced me to persimmons.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins

I recently reviewed Santé Nuts over on Moana Saves. Besides enjoying these lightly roasted nuts in a fresh spinach salad I also tried a new banana nut muffin recipe. I like that this recipe calls for 4 mashed bananas, more than I usually use in a bread. The muffins were moist and the flavor delicious. To quote my husband: "I think this is my new favorite best banana bread recipe."

Banana Nut Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 over-ripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter one muffin tin.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have  a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 12 muffins

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Healthy Food

My kids are always hungry, especially when they come home from school. Most days when they ask if they can have candy or cool off with a sugary popsicle I tell them yes if they first eat something healthy like a piece of fruit.

Our family's latest healthy after-school snack is milkshakes made with greek yogurt, a variety of tropical fruits and a handful of spinach. This treat provides protein so they feel full, it's cold so they cool off and it's loaded with healthy fruits and veggies. My kids LOVE my green milkshakes. Someday they'll realize that green isn't the most flavorful color when it comes to milkshakes but for now they're are blissfully happy.

I laughed so hard when I watched this mom serve her kids green milkshakes. I love all of the Kid History YouTube videos but this one with a mom trying to help her kids eat healthy foods hit home for me. Enjoy!    "I'm on top of the world lookin' down on creation..."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Sauce

Heaven on a plate. That's what I'm calling this meal. De-licious!

I have two tomatillo plants growing in my garden but I don't have a lot of experience cooking with tomatillos. I've made the fabulous tomatillo ranch salad dressing that I could drink straight if you asked me to. I also love green enchilada sauce and once I realized it was prepared with tomatillos I decided to try and make some myself. Well, once I made this recipe the very next morning I planted four more tomatillo seeds. If my plants grow like I hope they will I'll soon be roasting tomatillos, making this sauce and freezing it by the quart. I have never tasted green enchilada sauce with such flavor as this. Can I gush with praise any more? It's divine! 

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Sauce

Chile Sauce:
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced

Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
10 large flour tortillas
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, sour cream and guacamole for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the Chile Sauce:
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. (I loved the chunkiness of the sauce!)

For the Enchiladas:
Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish with cilantro, tomato, any remaining tomatillo salsa and sour cream and fresh guacamole if desired.

*My Notes: I roasted the tomatillos, onions and jalapenos for 20-25 minutes or until they began to lightly brown. I also used the requested chile sauce ingredient amounts but it was not enough sauce to pour into the pan, coat the tortillas, include in the chicken veloute AND pour on top of the enchiladas. Once I realized this I used a bit of canned green sauce to coat the pan and the tortillas but the rest of the sauce I used was the chunky fresh tomatillo salsa.

Who Dished it first? Tyler Florence. Thank you, my Spanish food inspiration!

Healthy Steps Tropical Fruit Popsicle

Kitchen tools for a healthier lifestyle

Don't we all want a healthier lifestyle? I sure do. Recently in an attempt to improve my eating habits and ultimately my health I began a food journal. My friend calls it our confession journal as we record all we eat and are now more aware of what we're eating as well as our portion sizes. ("Forgive me food journal for I have sinned. That chocolate cookie was too tempting.") What I like most about keeping a food journal is that I'm better at managing my portion sizes. Portion sizes. Now that's something we've all heard before.

How does all this talk of eating healthy and portion sizes tie in with this photo of tropical fruit and a funny looking kitchen gadget? I recently reviewed a few products sold by Healthy Steps including this fruit popsicle mold. Healthy Steps? That sounds like a weight loss step by step plan. No, it's more like a healthier lifestyle facilitated by kitchen gadgets.

The Healthy Steps website is a gold mine of information for those of you seeking to improve your eating habits. I found a link to the Healthy Steps YouTube channel where I watched a great video about food journaling (yay!) and their new dressing cruet. I want this! Too much salad dressing is a weakness of mine and using a cruet that measures the recommended 2 Tablespoon serving size would be fantastic! I also read their recipe selection and learned more about the benefits of eating avocados.  The avocado pro tool would be so handy in my kitchen especially with the avocado tree I have in my backyard.

The first words I heard after my daughter tasted her tropical fruit popsicle: "Mom! This is really good!" Our fruit pop was filled with fresh papaya, passion fruit and a sugar-free orange-mango fruit juice. What I liked about the popsicle mold was the push-up design where you push the handle up as you slowly eat the popsicle. We did have problems with juice leaking once the popsicle began to thaw but that just means you eat faster! Eating a fiber rich, low-sugar, fruit filled popsicle is a great healthy summer treat. I was also sent one of Healthy Steps portion control gadget, the shalt shaker. This is a great measuring dispenser for those who want to limit the amount of salt in their diet. Some of the other portion control gadgets I dream of owning are: starch server and the ice cream scoop.

To keep up on all the latest and greatest from Healthy Steps, follow them on Twitter, like their facebook page, and read their blog. I know I'm already making plans to follow Healthy Steps and learn new ways to improve my eating habits.

BUY: The Healthy Steps website lists retailers that sell their products. Check them out!

I was not compensated for this post. Any and all opinions here are mine.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Busy Eating Over at Moana Saves

My recipe posts have been slow lately. In my defense it's August and so HOT! I know that's not much of an excuse but this heat seems to be sapping all of my energy. 

I've also been busy over at Moana Saves reviewing products. I review all sorts of things from shoes to kids toys. Some of the food items I've most recently reviewed include a cookbook, a cooking app featuring Chef Fabio Viviani and Bertolli olive oil, Nakano seasoned rice vinegar, another great cookbookchocolateseafood, and I've even been cooking with Pringles

So, my apologies for the sporadic and seldom posting. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tzatziki Sauce

My cucumber plant is still producing madly so in addition to making cucumber tea sandwiches for the first time, I also made tzatziki or Greek yogurt with cucumber. This sauce is light and adds great flavor to a chicken pita sandwich.

3 cups Greek yogurt
juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
about 1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.

In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)

This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.

Who Dished it first? Kayln

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Turkey Burgers with Avocado Mayonnaise

I received sprouts and tomatoes in this week's fruit and veggie co-op box and was so excited to make this favorite recipe only to find it wasn't on this blog. So, I'm a couple year's too late but here is one of our all-time favorite turkey burger recipes (served on my homemade hamburger buns). It's simple yet packed with flavor. 

I also like the variety of healthy nutrients found in the avocado, sprouts and tomatoes. This was initiation for my children into the wonderful world of sprouts and they loved them! My eldest child said: "Mom, these parsley things taste like green peas." We've eaten sprouts for lunch all week now. Mmm, mmm!

Turkey Burgers with Avocado Mayonnaise

1 lb ground turkey
1/4 c Panko bread crumbs
1 t chili powder
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t seasoned salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 c mayonnaise
1 avocado
2 t lemon juice
1/4 t garlic powder
shake of tobasco sauce (optional)
4 whole wheat burger buns
1 small tomato
1 c alfalfa sprouts

Heat grill. In medium bowl combine first five ingredients; mix well. Shape the turkey mixture into four 5-inch patties. When ready to grill, oil grill rack. Place patties on gas grill over medium-high heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink in center, turning once. Meanwhile, in blender combine mayonnaise and peeled and pitted avocado, lemon juice, garlic powder and tabasco sauce. Blend until smooth.
To serve, spread bottom halves of hamburger buns with mayonnaise mixture. Top with turkey burger, tomato slice and sprouts.

Who Dished it first? this is a family recipe

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cucumber Sandwiches

It's summer and that means my menu preferences are dishes that don't require turning on my stove or oven. Yesterday we drove to the other side of the island to explore the beaches and enjoy some "staycation" fun before school starts. As I packed our picnic lunch I realized my fridge was overflowing with cucumbers. Since I couldn't see us munching on cucumber spears/slices while sitting on a sandy beach (sand and finger foods don't mix) I bravely decided to pack our lunch with a completely different and random choice of sandwich, cucumber sandwiches.

Have you ever eaten cucumber sandwiches? I've never attempted these before and while searching for a recipe I found that most cucumber sandwiches are simply white bread and thinly sliced cucumbers.  Hmmm...the English seem to enjoy them but cucumbers and sponge bread just didn't sound like a hearty enough lunch for beach play. That's when I found this version with pickled cucumbers and an herb infused cream cheese spread. I served our sandwiches on freshly baked whole-wheat bread and my kids devoured their lunch. I'm not sure if it was because they were starving after the sun exposure but even my youngest and pickiest eater requested seconds.

Just a note: In my opinion eating these with wheat bread does detract from the subtle cucumber/cheese filling flavor but it makes a much heartier and lasting meal. Also, slicing your cucumber with a mandoline would be ideal since it would give you extra thin slices.

Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
1 medium cucumber
1 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dill - optional
a loaf of white or sourdough bread

Wash the cucumber, then peel and thinly slice. Mix the water and vinegar in a bowl and let the cucumber slices soak for half an hour. Remove and drain thoroughly.

One half hour before serving mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise and the spices. Put a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture on two slices of bread and place the cucumbers between the two. Cut the crust off the sandwhich and cut diagonally twice; you will have four triangles.

Who Dished it first? Fun Tea Party Ideas

Here's a photo from the Fun Tea Party Ideas website of a crustless triangular cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on white bread, just perfect for a tea party snack!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Honey-Mustard Pork Chops

I love meat cooked on the grill but I must admit that pork is my least favorite. Whenever I grill pork it still ends up chewy and hard to swallow and lacking flavor, that is until I found this marinade. One secret I've learned is that the longer you marinade the better it tastes. This marinade has great flavor with the combination of mustard, honey, parsley and all the other ingredients. Even better, my husband helped me grill this to perfection.

Honey-Mustard Pork Chops
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
6 boneless pork loin chops

In a small bowl combine all the ingredients (excluding the pork). Pour half the marinade into a large re-sealable bag; add pork chops. Seal bag and turn to coat, refrigerating for 6-8 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.

When you are ready to grill, drain and discard the marinade. Grill pork, covered, over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees, basting frequently with reserved marinade.

Who Dished it first? Taste of Home

Friday, July 8, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

Here is a great recipe for all you moms with young kids going back to school in the fall. Mornings can be hectic and it's easy to serve cold cereal for breakfast on school mornings because it's quick. Try this recipe as it is a tasty healthy alternative and all the preparation is done the night before.

I like to eat oatmeal for breakfast but it can get boring. This is a great way to perk up your bland oatmeal.
I'm also going to remember this dish for the next time I'm asked to feed a large crowd. What I especially like about this version of oatmeal is that I don't have to stand by the stove and constantly watch the oatmeal to make sure it doesn't boil over or burn. Hooray for easy oatmeal!

Baked Oatmeal

1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup fruit or nuts

In a bowl mix together the butter, honey and eggs. Add in the oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and milk. Mix and then fold in fruit/nuts of choice. Grease a 9x9 baking dish and pour the oatmeal mixture in. Cover tightly and place in fridge over night.

In the morning preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When the oven is hot, uncover your oatmeal dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with milk.

My Notes: I used 3/4 cups mashed strawberries (a little more than the recipe called for) and 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts. As my youngest would say, this was a "strawberry shortcake" treat.

Who Dished it first? this recipe is adapted from Your Homebased Mom

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Red White and Blue Cupcakes

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. Ours was perfect with a beach visit in the morning where a paddle board competition with 500+ boarders was going on. Next we went to a potluck with friends and delicious food and lastly was fireworks on the beach. For the potluck I wanted to bring a festive dessert and that's when I decided to make these cute little cupcakes. The cakes made from scratch were flavorful and dense and everyone at the party loved the tri-colored theme.

Red White and Blue Cupcakes
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
red and blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line the muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking powder, then add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally, stir in the milk until batter is smooth.

Divide the batter into three equal portions. In one bowl add red food coloring and in a second add blue food coloring; mix the batter until the coloring is even. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, starting with the blue, then the white and lastly the red. This batter makes exactly 24 muffins so be sure to spoon only a small spoonful of each batter into the tins.

Bake 20-25 minutes; cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Red White and Blue Buttercream Frosting
3-4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cups soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 Tablespoons milk
red and blue food coloring

Combine the powdered sugar and soft butter, blending for 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla and milk and blend again until combined. Place 1/2 cup of frosting in two separate bowls adding red food coloring to one and blue to another. Keep the frosting in the fridge until you're ready for icing to keep it firm.

When you're ready to ice the cupcakes place red frosting on one side of your frosting bag, blue on the other and a large amount of white frosting in the center.

Who Dished it first? me

I'm adding this recipe to Sweet as Sugar Cookies weekend link party! Come check out the sweet selection.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Roasted Tomato Turkey Burgers

I'm a product reviewer at Moana Saves, a fantastic site with reviews and many great giveaways. I review everything from children's games to personalized iPad cases to a whole list of food items (Bacon Hot Sauce, Beano's sandwhich sauce, The Everything Bean Cookbook, etc). Recently I had the chance to review some food products from Giada De Laurentiis's gourmet food line sold at Target. I'm having so much fun with Giada's Pepper & Eggplant Tomato Spread. This sauce is for mixing with your pasta or serving on a baguette but I'm experimenting with it and finding new ways to enjoy it's roasted pepper, tomato and eggplant flavor. My latest invention, these turkey burgers, was a huge hit with my family.  The addition of the sauce added great flavor to the patties, served bun-less alongside rice and vegetables. 

Roasted Tomato Turkey Burgers

1 pound ground turkey
1 1/2 Tablespoons Giada De Laurentiis's Pepper & Eggplant Tomato Spread (sold at Target)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup italian breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon season salt
1 egg
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Mix all ingredients excluding the ricotta cheese. Form 5 small patties, reserving additional meat mixture. Place a spoonful of ricotta on each patty and top with additional turkey mixture, sealing the ricotta in the center of each patty. Grill 5-7 minutes on each side or until the meat is fully cooked.

*My notes: these are moist patties with the addition of the cheese filling so be careful as you flip them on the grill.

Who Dished it first? this is an original by me on The Dish List

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Guest Posting on Perry's Plate

Today I'm guest posting on Natalie's blog, Perry's Plate. I love her blog, her taste in food, her photography...I could go on and on! Thanks Natalie for featuring this delicious sweet potato curry chicken recipe! Make this curry. You won't regret it!

Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 ½ cups vertically sliced onion
1 ½ teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained or 2-3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes
1 large peeled sweet potato
¾ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup frozen green peas
3 small carrots
½  Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

First is the ingredient preparation. Peel and dice the sweet potato into ½ inch cubes for a total of about 2 cups. Next finely grate the carrots and set aside. Dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes and set aside in a separate bowl. In a small bowl combine the curry powder, coriander, turmeric, salt, black pepper, red pepper and bay leaf.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce heat to medium; add the onion, cooking for 10 minutes or until tender. Increase heat to medium-high, return chicken to pan and cook one minute to warm the chicken. Stir in ginger and garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add curry powder mixture, broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour.

Stir in potato and chickpeas. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Add peas and carrots, cooking 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf, stir in lemon juice and serve.

Yield: 7 (1 cup) servings

Who Dished it first? this recipe was adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cooking with "Everything Beans"

I have never been inspired to eat black bean burgers. Beans in place of delicious beef or turkey? That just didn't sound appetizing to me. It's not that I don't like black beans. I actually love black beans. But a mushy patty made from beans inside a hamburger bun? The following burger recipe definitely changed my perspective.

The story behind trying to eat more meatless bean dishes comes from my inspiring sister-in-law, Rebecca.  My family and I enjoy eating beans but I've never made a point of specifically planning a menu with meatless bean meals like Rebecca does. Recently I had the opportunity to review The Everything Bean Book, a digitalized cookbook (eBook). In it I found recipes for white bean alfredo, chickpea wraps, and among other great recipes this fabulous Mexican black bean burger. These toppings plus the additional crunch of tortilla chips really make this burger desirable. (I have a few patties frozen and I'm thinking this is going to be my lunch today!)

Mexican Black Bean Burger (patty) recipe

How I served my burger:
Top with salsa, avocado slices, tortillas chips (adding this crunch is a must!) and my cilantro lime sour cream.

Cilantro Lime Sour Cream
1/2 cup sour cream (may substitute with greek yogurt)
2 Tablespoons minced cilantro
Juice of half a lime
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and spread on your black bean burger bun.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do You Use Canned Beans?

Living on an island makes for some expensive grocery bills! I was talking with a visitor at church on Sunday and he said he was shocked to purchase 2 potatoes at the store and pay $2.40! Another person joked: "Well, you have to realize that we only eat every other day and that's how we can afford to live here." (ha, ha!)

One trick I've found to saving money with my food budget is cooking hard beans instead of buying canned beans. I like to cook a large amount of beans and then store them in 1-2 cup portions in the freezer. Some of the benefits of keeping cooked beans on hand are:

  • I can easily toss in a handful of beans to a recipe that might not normally call for beans
  • I'm more inclined to plan my menus with beans instead of meat (great health benefits!)
  • My grocery budget is a lot less costly since dried beans are comparatively inexpensive
  • Using cooked beans instead of canned reduces the indigestible sugars that normally cause gas
  • Storing dried beans keeps you prepared in case of a disaster. Knowing how to cook your beans and include them in your diet is even more important.
  • Our bodies are adjusting to eating more beans. If a natural disaster were to occur and our diet consist of our food storage our bodies won't go into shock eating an increased amount of fiber. 
Just a side note,  this month I received an email from the emergency response system saying the tropical storm season has begun and to be prepared if a hurricane was to hit. Experiencing the tsunami warning a few months ago after the Japan quake and now living in hurricane territory it's not an option to not be prepared for a natural disaster.

There are lots of ways to cook beans. My preference is as follows:
    • rinse and drain the beans
    • place in a slow-cooker (turned off) and fill with water; soak the beans overnight to soften.
    • drain the soaking water and refill at least 2 inches above the bean line
    • turn the slow-cooker on low and cook for another 5-7 hours or until the beans are soft (check the water level throughout this process to make sure it doesn't get too low)
    • drain any excess liquids and let the beans cool
    • divide the beans into 1-2 cup portions, placing them in freezer bags
    • beans defrost fairly quickly or can be added frozen to any soup or stew.

    Here is some additional information that I've gathered from online sources:

    Soak dried beans overnight or at least for five hours. (This isn't necessary for dried peas and lentils.) Discard the water, add fresh water, cook for half hour and discard the water. Rinse beans thoroughly until water runs clear. Cover with fresh water and cook until tender. This method will help prevent "gas," which is caused by complex carbohydrates (raffinose sugars) that are not broken down in digestion. When they ferment in the large intestine, they produce carbon dioxide, hydrogen and a little hydrogen sulfide, that can cause gas.

    If you want to include more beans in your diet, but increase your "comfort zone" with them, you should: 
    Start slowly by eating beans only a couple of times a week at first. This helps your body adjust to digesting them.
    Drink lots of fluids to help the digestive system handle the increased dietary fiber.

    Other helpful hints for cooking beans are to add one tablespoon of oil to beans to keep the foam down while cooking. If your recipe calls for tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar or other acidic foods, add these items after beans are tender. The presence of acid keeps beans from softening. Also, contrary to advice you may have heard, DO NOT use baking soda when cooking beans. It robs them of their nutritional value.

    Soak and rinse beans several times to remove gas-producing sugars, USDA researchers advise. Always change the water before cooking.

    Adding garlic and ginger, dried or fresh, to a cooking pot of beans can reduce the beans' gas-producing properties, according to research in India.

    Beans are full of starch including some that do not digest easily. Digesting this starch can produce gas, giving rise to the rhyme Beans, beans, the musical fruit.... There are several ways to quiet this music so you can enjoy the health benefits of beans.

    Gradually increase the amount of beans you eat, so your digestive system can adjust.

    Soak beans overnight then discard the soaking water. Some, but not all, of the hard-to-digest carbohydrates dissolve into the water and are then poured off.

    This quick method also helps reduce gas: Cover beans with water. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Let set at least one hour, but preferably four hours. The longer beans soak, the more gas-causing substances are removed.

    Try Beano, a product found in the pharmacy section or on the bean aisle of the grocery store. Its natural enzymes help digest gas-producing carbohydrates.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Teriyaki Pork-and-Mango Stir-Fry

    It's mango season here in Hawai'i!

    Last night as my family walked down the street in the cool evening weather we noticed many neighbor friends outside with their 15 foot-long poles with metal cages on the ends to pick ripe mangoes. I don't have a tree but my family and I regularly snack on dried mango and my husband loves "mango nectar" juice purchased at the store. (Hopefully a tree of our own is in the plan for this summer.)

    A neighbor friend has a large mango tree and I think her family has eaten mangoes every night for the past week. (She was the one who found and shared this recipe.) I don't usually think of Asian dishes as including tropical fruit but my husband lived in Taiwan and he has corrected my assumptions. He tells me that often he came home to find large sacks of mangoes hanging on his front door.  In my husband's opinion this tropical/Asian dish was a 9.5 out of 10.

    Teriyaki Pork-and-Mango Stir-Fry

    1 pound boneless pork chops
    1/2 cup flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 small head napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (about 7 cups)
    4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
    3 tablespoons store-bought teriyaki sauce
    2 mangoes, cut into matchsticks
    2 cups bean sprouts

    On a work surface, place a pork chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound 1/4 inch thick; repeat with the remaining chops. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick strips. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; add the pork and toss.

    In a large nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Shake off any excess flour from the pork and arrange in a single layer in the skillet. Cook until browned and crisp on one side, about 3 minutes; turn and cook, stirring, until browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

    Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the cabbage to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the teriyaki sauce, then toss with the pork and mangoes. Top with the bean sprouts.

    Who Dished it first? Rachael Ray
    My Notes: This definitely needed additional salt to taste on the finished product.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Hamburger Italia, i.e. Lasagna on a Bun

    I recently reviewed the George Foreman GRP4B Next Grilleration™ Removable Plate Grill over on Moana Saves. As part of the review I came up with a unique hamburger recipe that my kids like to call: "lasagna on a bun." In an attempt to be a little more classy, I call this "Hamburger Italia!" (Or would "Italiano" make more sense? I don't know.)

    Hamburger Italia
    1 pound ground beef
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon onion powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper
    ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

    ¾ cup fat-free Ricotta cheese
    ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
    3 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely diced
    1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely diced

    2 large tomatoes
    7 button mushrooms

    In a small bowl combine the Ricotta and Parmesan cheese with the basil and parsley. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Prep the mushrooms and tomatoes by thinly slicing them and setting aside.

    Place the ground beef in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and form into four ½ inch thick patties, leaving ground beef to spare.  Divide the mozzarella cheese evenly among each patty, placing it in the center. Seal the cheese inside each hamburger patty with the remaining ground beef.  Place the meat on your and cook the burgers for 7-10 minutes or until they reach your desired doneness; remove from the grill. Cover the hamburgers to keep warm while you prepare the rest of the burger.

    Grill the mushrooms on your George Foreman by placing them inside, closing the lid for browning.  They should be done in 5 minutes. Next place the tomatoes on the grill and season with salt and pepper. Close the lid and grill for 3-5 minutes, creating a ‘sun-dried tomato’ effect. Carefully remove the tomatoes from the grill and immediately place them on your burgers; they will be delicate to handle. (*Note: You can saute the mushrooms in a frying pan with a little butter if you don't have the grill. For the tomatoes: place them on a foil lined baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a shake of salt & pepper, broiling for 5-10 minutes or until done.)

    While the mushrooms sauté and the tomatoes “sun-dry”, spread the ricotta mixture on the bottom side of a Kaiser roll. (This is the heavy half of your finished product and therefore needs to be the bottom half of the roll.) You want a good thick spread of cheese mixture. On the other half of the roll spread butter. Place both in the oven to broil. The buttered half will brown faster so be sure to watch it and remove once it’s brown. The ricotta mixture needs to get browned and slightly crispy on top.

    To serve, place the meat and tomato on top of the ricotta mixture and top with the browned mushrooms.

    Who Dished it first? This is an original by your's truly; Me!

    Notes: The ricotta-covered bun can get soggy. Make sure this is the last thing you do before eating. Also, fresh herbs are a must in my opinion as they add a light and fresh flavor that dried herbs can't duplicate.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Grilled Pizza

    I grilled my first pizza. Mmm! This white pizza had an oil-based sun-dried tomato sauce made by Beano's, fresh mushrooms, mozzarella and parmesan and slivered fresh basil on top. Delicious!

    Pizza Dough
    1 1/2 cups warm water
    1 Tablespoon yeast
    1 Tablespoon honey
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 cups flour
    olive oil
    pizza toppings

    Proof (prep) the yeast by combining the water, yeast and honey in a liquid measuring cup. Let this sit until the yeast begins to bubble. In a separate mixing bowl combine the flour and salt and add the dough hook to your mixer. Pour the yeast mixture into a mixing bowl and mix for 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and place in a separate bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover and let sit for one hour or until dough has doubled in size.

    While the dough is rising it's important to prep your toppings because when the pizza is cooking on the grill you'll need to spread toppings fast. I pulled out a large tray and set the pizza toppings, all sliced and diced, on the tray.

    Once the dough has risen you want to turn your grill on so it can be preheating for at least 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface, forming it into a rectangular or "log" shape. I like to make small individual sized pizzas because it's easier to handle on the grill and the toppings cook faster on a smaller surface area. If you want smaller pizzas cut the dough into 6 pieces and roll them out to 1/4 inch thickness. (This isn't a thin-crust pizza; the dough gets stretched when rolled but will immediately begin to shrink once you stop rolling it. It will also puff while cooking.) Spread olive oil on one side of each pizza and you're ready to grill!

    Place the pizzas, oil side down, on your grill and immediately close the grill lid. This will allow for convection cooking. After 4-5 minutes check the underside of the pizzas; you want to see lightly browned grill marks. If the dough is cooked brush olive oil on the uncooked side and flip all the pizzas over. Quickly spread the ingredients on the pizza tops, then close the grill lid again for 5 minutes. Check the underside of the pizza again for grill marks and when cooked remove and serve immediately.

    *My Notes: I've learned my lesson that grilled pizza is best cooked with sliced mozzarella and not shredded. It makes for easier spreading of ingredients and less mess!

    Who Dished this first? me.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Watermelon 'Otai (Juice)

    Mmmm, watermelon juice!  I'm told that in Tongan you call this drink 'otai and I read on Wikipedia that in Somoan it's "vai meleni". Either way, if you want to enjoy your watermelon island style with milk, coconut and sugar then you'll love this cool treat. I'm convinced that it hits the spot on a hot afternoon (if I'm not watching my weight, of course).

    Watermelon 'Otai (Juice)
    1 Ripe Seedless Watermelon halved and sliced (this is the smaller round watermelons)
    1 can crushed pineapples or 1/2 cup pineapple juice
    1/2 cup shredded coconut
    1 can of evaporated milk
    1/2 Cup Sugar
    Ice Cubes

    Prepare the watermelon by mashing the watermelon with a fork in a large bow. If this becomes tedious try squishing the watermelon with your fingers, making sure the end product is small pieces. If you don't use a seedless watermelon make sure that most of the black seeds are removed with a spoon. 

    Stir in the pineapple and it's juices, coconut, evaporated milk and two cans of water using the can of milk. Add Sugar and stir, adding more to taste. You may add ice cubes when you're ready to serve.

    Who Dished it First? The Polynesian Kitchen with a slight alteration by me.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos

    Tacos and sweet potatoes? Both in the same sentence? Take my word for it, this is a good one. In fact, it won a recipe contest! This sweet potato taco recipe is from the cooking blog Perry's Plate. The health-conscious & food-fabulous blogger responsible for all the great posts over at Perry's Plate is the one and only Natalie.

    There are so many great reasons for cooking a foil packet dinner. First, it's the easiest way to get your kids involved in dinner prep.  Sprinkle, pile, stack and done! Even better, your dinner preparation is quick and your cleanup a cinch. We ate our foil packets on paper plates on the back porch picnic table so my cleanup was only the silverware and cutting board. Love it!

    Besides easy prep and delicious taste I'm really happy my kids ate this right up.  My eldest actually asked for two packets! I love finding ways to sneak spinach into our meals.

    Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos
    1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
    2-3 T taco seasoning
    1/2 cup tomato sauce (4 ounces)
    1 can black, kidney, or pinto beans, drained
    2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups total)
    2 T butter
    1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
    1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole for garnish
    6 12-inch long pieces of aluminum foil

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and beans. Set aside.

    To assemble packets, spray the foil with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup sweet potato cubes in the center of each piece. Top with a small piece of butter (about 1 tsp) and a pinch or two of salt. Sprinkle some chopped spinach over the sweet potatoes, followed by about 1/3 cup of taco meat and sprinkle of cheese. Fold the sides in, then bring the top and bottom ends of the foil together in the center and fold, sealing the packet.

    Repeat with remaining ingredients, placing the packets on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.

    Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.

    Makes 6 servings.

    Who Dished it first? Natalie at Perry's Plate

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Salsa

    Dear Blogger: Do I dare post again? I apologize for the duplication of this post but the previous post was deleted. Hopefully this one sticks around.

    Just say the word salsa and I smile. I grew up in a home where salsa was a fridge staple just like ketchup and it was eaten as often if not more often than any other condiment. (Remember watching those Pace Picante commercials on TV in the '90s? "This stuff's made in New York City?!?")

    This corn salsa is a great crowd pleasing fresh alternative to anything made in NYC. (*wink*) My dad is the guacamole, salsa, Mexican relish maker in our family and once he made this dip we were all hooked. The ingredients are easy, fresh, and so delicious.

    Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Salsa

    3 green onions, finely diced
    1/3 cup chopped cilantro
    2 diced tomatoes
    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
    1/4 cup white vinegar
    1 package Italian dressing powder
    2-3 avocados
    fresh lime juice

    Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour or until you're ready to serve. Prior to serving, pit and mash your avocados and add them to the salsa mixture. Squirt the juice of one lime on top to add flavor and keep the avocado from browning. Serve!

    Who Dished it first? This yummy recipe is courtesy of my Dad.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

    We celebrated Cinco de Mayo over the weekend with some friends and I have to say that it was the perfect party. Good friends + yummy Mexican food (my favorite) = the perfect combination!  I wanted to make a dessert to share but every recipe I found online was fried. That's when I found this recipe for Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies. I've tasted similar cookies in the past and thought they were dry and lacking in flavor but I decided to blindly make this recipe (first time ever!) for a potluck. Brave? Maybe more crazy than brave.

    The reason I made these cookies was because of the recommendation source. My source was one of my favorites, Pioneer Woman. Seeing as the purpose of my site is to share recipes that I highly recommend and Ree over at Pioneer Woman has never led me astray I decided to bite the bullet and try baking the cookie. (Added bonus: these cookies have a short and simple ingredient list so I didn't have to go to the store.)

    The verdict: If you're careful and don't overcook it, the cookie literally crumbles in your mouth. It's similar to a buttery shortbread but much lighter. This is definitely a recipe we'll be making again.

    Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
    2 cups powdered sugar
    2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup finely chopped/coarsely ground pecans
    Toast pecans in oven at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture, beating until well blended. Mix in pecans with a wooden spoon.

    Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough with palms into 1-inch balls. Arrange balls on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until light golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 16-18 minutes. Check cookies throughout baking to be sure not to over bake. If baked too long, bottoms will burn and cookies will be very dry.

    Pour 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar in pie dish. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again once cooled. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough, or reserve remaining powdered sugar and freeze dough for later use. Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. For extra powdered sugar on your cookies, save leftover powdered sugar and sift over cookies just before serving.

    Who Dished it first? This is Shared Sugar's version of a combination of Bon Appétit and Betty Crocker recipes.
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