Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peppermint Cookies...

I have to confess, I am a Christmas loving gal- I love everything about the holiday including the desserts, and my favorite--- anything pepperminty! I love the Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks, I love the chocolate dipped thin candy cane thing-ies, I love the Peppermint Joe-Joe's at Trader Joe's (honestly, you haven't experienced Peppermint heaven until you try these!!!)
**Side Note Picture of Peppermint Heaven, Trader Joe's Joe Joe's**
Ok, back on track now----So, I am always (well, that's not true) almost always in the mood to try a new recipe, so when I saw these in a Rachel Ray Magazine and they looked so divine all sprinkled with peppermint goodness, I have to give them a go. They turned out pretty good, so for the sake of not rewriting a recipe, I thought I would just link it here and you can follow hers if you are feeling in the mood for something new and pepperminty! I will include my pictures, because I am a visual learner and thought some of you may be too.

Side Note- She recommends baking cookies for 18 minutes- that will give you a crispy cookie (like an oreo) but if you want a fluffy or chewy cookie, I would remove them after about 10 minutes. You choose... or maybe do a sheet of each :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Here's this weeks meal plan... and if you need a movie plan and want to stir up the way you feel about food and how it goes from the processing to your table--- check out the film "Food, INC." if you haven't seen it already. It will definitely get you thinking on what you buy and what you eat. (And if you're interested in some Grass Fed Beef and you live local, let me know, I have a great rancher that sells and drops off here from Tehachapi).

For now, the menu:
Monday: Steak Cob Salad
Tuesday: Dover Sol, Green Salad, Sweet Potatoes (the farming connections have hooked us up with a 40 pound box of sweet potatoes, so we have a lot of them to eat- Thanks Buddy!)
Wednesday- Firehouse Tortilla Soup **New Recipe**
Thursday- Turkey Chili, Asparagus and Cornbread
Friday- left overs
Saturday- out

Friday, December 4, 2009

5 Minute Fudge

This is one of my favorite desserts to make and give away during the holidays, probably because it's so easy and yet so incredibly tasty! It really only takes 5 minutes to make (REALLY!), refrigerate until it hardens, and then it's ready to cut and serve!

12 oz chocolate chips
9 oz butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Super simple. Put your chips in a glass bowl and microwave them for about 1 minute, stop and stir, and continue in 30 second intervals until the chips are completely melted (be careful, the glass bowl will be hot!). Once the chips are melted and mixed, add your condensed milk and vanilla, give it another swirl, add your chopped walnuts, and mix until it's consistent throughout. Using a 8 x 8 greased baking dish and spatula, scoop the fudge out and smooth until it's evenly distributed. Refrigerate until firm, cut into squares and put on cute Christmas Plates! Wasn't that easy??? and it really was 5 minutes huh??

(Thanks for your request Katy~ sorry it took me so long! Happy Fudging!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quinoa, Chicken, & Veggie Pilaf...

Ok, so here's what I do when I don't feel like a lot of prep (or brain effort) but still what a good meal loaded with protein and lots of yummy veggies. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WA) is a great staple to have on hand- it's packed with protein, calcium, and iron plus it cooks quickly! At the end of the week, I pull out whatever veggies are left, saute them, and throw them in this dish. It's different every time, but easy all the time!

Chicken pieces browning
Sauteing vegetables; red pepper, onion, & garlic
Everything combined in one skillet before adding it to the quinoa...
3 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups quinoa
2 cloves garlic
1/3 onion (use what you have)
1-2 chicken breasts
veggies of your choice; I have used these combinations:
  • red pepper, brocholi, red onion, chicken
  • mushroom, snowpeas, yellow bell pepper, green onion chicken
  • carrots, celery, onion, left over turkey pieces
In a large skillet, add your chicken broth and quinoa, and let comet to a boil while you prep everything else. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat and let simmer 10-12 minutes. Wash & dice you veggies (if you are adding chicken, wash & dice that too and brown it in a separate pan, seasoning it with s & p and some garlic powder). Once all your veggies are chopped, add a TBSP of grape seed oil into a hot pan, add your veggies & garlic and let sautee for about 3-4 minutes. At this point, hopefully your quinoa will almost be done cooking, so add your veggies and chicken, stir altogether, cover and let cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add any seasoning you prefer, or leave it as it is with its light flavor and yummy vegetable taste.

*** Lots of times people give me feedback in person, so I will try to pass it on when I remember to add it to the post. A recommendation for this dish was to serve it with Soy Sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos if it is to bland for your pallet.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meal Plan for Nov. 30- Dec. 5th

Hope you all had a wonderful and tasty Thanksgiving Dinner, now, back to the ol' stomp and grind...

Monday-Caesar Salad with Seasoned Chicken
Tuesday- Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi, Swiss Chard, Brown Rice
Wednesday- Quinoa, Veggies & Shredded Chicken
Thursday- Mexican Lasagna
Friday- left overs plus White Bean Salad (to snack on & have for lunch)
Saturday- out

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

17 Mixed Beans & Turkey Soup

Here's a little concoction that I came up with, super easy, very hardy, and very little to it! This is a different soup with chunks of ground turkey in it or try it with left over turkey chunks if you're feeling adventurous! The red wine in it gives it a really great flavor, making it taste different than most typical bean soups. **Warning, you need to soak your beans the night before, so this isn't a last minute guy!

2 TBSP Grape Seed Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large (or 2 medium) yellow onions, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 bag of mixed beans (I buy mine at TJ's)
1 package of ground turkey
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 (32 oz) cartons of Vegetable Broth (also from TJ's)
3 handfuls spinach, rinsed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/8 cup red wine
Here's the bag of Beans & Barley I used...
This recipe does require a little fore-thought, you need to soak your beans over night in a large bowl or pot of water. When you are ready to cook, use a slotted spoon and remove and floating ]extras and drain and rinse your beans. Then, in your biggest pot, add your oil and all your chopped veggies. Let those saute while you brown the ground turkey in a separate pan, adding some salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the turkey while it's cooking. When the turkey is browned and the veggies are sauteed, combine them and add your drained beans and veggie broth. Dump in your tomatoes and add your seasoning and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce and let simmer for 1 hour. Add spinach for the last 5 minutes and serve with french bread or solo- you choose.
Beans soaking over night...
Drain your beans and rinse in a collander...
All the ingredients before the broth...

Pumpkin Pie- (not from scratch!!!) and Homemade Whip Cream

Now, I know a lot of you out there are working hard at gettin' food on the table... so here's a little something you can do to cut some corners. With the holidays coming up, kids running around your ankles, and the calendar overflowing, there are some short-cuts that I prefer to take... especially when I am bringing more than one dish (more like 4!!!) to our Thanksgiving Feast! If you want that yummy pumpkin pie that everyone will ohhh and ahh over, here's your ticket- and they'll be amazed, it's still warm in a homemade dish not a store bought container!!! The secret, it's on the back of "Liby's" can!!!

1 can Liby's pumpkin (& follow her recipe plus 1 secret ingredient!)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg ** the one thing I add to the mix
2 large eggs
1 can evaporated milk
Pie Crust- if you have the necessary tools, make your own crust, if not, go out and get your self a premaid, prerolled, uncooked refrigerated pie crust by Pilsbury.

Mix sugar and spices together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat eggs, add sugar mixture and pumpkin and gradually stir in the evaporated milk. Lay your pie crust in a pie dish and push it to the sides of the dish, pour the mixture and bake for 15 minutes on 425 then turn your oven down to 350 and let it bake another 40 -50 minutes until you can stick a knife in towards the center and it comes out clean. Let it cool about 2 hours before serving.

TIP To save your crust from getting too brown, cut strips of foil and cover the crust all the way around the pie, then 20 minutes before it's done, remove them and they will turn a beautiful golden brown!

Don't forget the homemade whip cream!!!
1/2 pint heavy cream
3 TBSP powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pour ingredients in a glass bowl and beat on medium-high until it's fluffy! Refrigerate and serve a dollup with your pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Homemade Apple Pie

Just in time for the holidays.....
My dad is by far the BEST APPLE PIE MAKING MACHINE OUT THERE! Without fail, his pies turn out beautiful and delicious everytime, no buts about that! I love going up for a visit during apple season, you can bet he'll be in the kitchen whipping up one of his famous crispy, warm, toasted, sweet yet a little tart- apple pies... you droolin' yet??? I am!

6 thinly sliced apples (I do 4 tart, 2 sweet)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP lemon juice
pie crust, homemade or refrigerated, uncooked like Pilsbury

Preheat your oven to 425. Lay your pie crusts in your pie dish and let sit. Stir together your sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon juice and salt. Peel, core, and slice your apples and add them to the mixture, gently mixing them. Pour the mixture into the dishes and cut your butter into slices and lay them on top of the apples. Cover it with the top crust, seal and flute it. Cover the edges of the pie with foil so that it doesn't burn and remove the foil for the last 15 minutes so it can turn a golden crispy brown. Cut a few slits in the top to let air and moisture escape. Bake it for 40- 50 minutes until the juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust. Remove, let cool for a bit, but serve warm solo or a la mode!

Need some help choosing the right apples? Try these: Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Pippin, Fuij, Braeburn, and Pink Lady

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spinach Salad with Nuts, Crans, & Apples

This is a great salad to make this time of year, apples are at their peak and it looks festive in fall colors of green, red, and cranberry. It's easy with minimal chopping, therefore great to prep before hand and bring along to large gatherings (it's what I am taking to Thanksgiving Dinner!). **You can also substitute the spinach for romaine if you prefer.

candied pecans (or walnuts)
apples chopped
goat cheese (or feta if you prefer)
balsamic dressing (use fresh garlic, it's wonderful!!!)

Wash and spin your spinach and refrigerate until ready to eat. Candy your nuts with this recipe, the cinnamon in it gives the salad a wonderful flavor! Chop your nuts and store them in a ziplock until serving. You can prepare this salad ahead of time and then put it all together right before you eat. At the last minute, chop you apples, throw in your cheese & nuts, and pour on the dressing. Toss and serve.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Meal Plan for Nov. 22- 28

Here we go, nice and easy for this Thanksgiving week....
Sunday: heat up a frozen soup
Monday: Lime Chicken Tacos & Green Salad
Tuesday: Mixed Bean & Ground Turkey Soup
Wednesday: Gremolata Mahi Mahi & Baked Sweet Potatoes
Thursday: Thanksgiving Feast!!!
Friday: left over Turkey Dinner
Saturday: Black Bean Chili (Crock Pot)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Baked Chicken....

So when it starts to get colder, I find myself not wanting to BBQ as much and instead wanting to heat up the oven- so in that case, try this simple recipe for baked chicken, using whatever seasoning you are feelin' up for!

Super simple, here's what to do: take out a Pyrex dish, I spray a little Olive Oil spray on it then I wash and pat dry my chicken breasts, and sprinkle some salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides. Then pop them in your preheated oven at 400 degrees and let them bake for approximately 40 minutes (depending on how thick they are). I stick my thermometer in them and when it reads 170 I know it's done, or cut one of them in half and make sure it's no longer pink and the liquids are clear. The last 5- 10 minutes you can add some BBQ sauce if so desired! Enjoy!!! *** Picture: Served with simple asparagus and Harvest Grains from Trader Joe's****

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Meal Plan for Nov. 15th- 22nd...

Here she is, this weeks meal set up. I am really trying hard to get more out of our meals, so I am doubling and freezing where I can to save me time.

Sunday- BBQ Marinated Flank Steak, Asparagus, Harvest Grains
Monday- Black Bean Soup (doubled, freeze half)
Tuesday- Big Green Salad with left over steak on top (maybe with a slice of Parmesan Toast if needed!)
Wednesday- Roasted Veggie Pasta with Chicken (doubled)
Thursday- Santa Fe Pizza
Friday- left over Pasta
Saturday- out

I will buy the big chunk of mozerella cheese and use half of it in the pasta dish and the other half on the pizza (but shred it all at once on Wednesday to save on time and clean up). Also, you can change up the beans on the Santa Fe to Pinto Beans if black beans twice in the same week is too much for you- you make the call!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black Bean Soup

Okay so this soup actually turned out really great, so different and totally not what I was expecting. I found the recipe on someone's blog (sorry can't remember where!) it didn't have a picture so I didn't know what to expect, but I thought I would give it a whirl! And I am glad I did! It made lots (maybe because I always add more than what's called for) so I froze it and heated it up on a day when I didn't feel like cooking. If you do the same, serve half of it and pour the other half in a freezer bag, lay it flat to freeze, and once it's frozen, you can stand it up right and store lots of frozen entrees like little books in your freezer!

1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cans black beans
1 jar salsa
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup barley or couscous
2 cups frozen corn
2 shredded carrots
2 tsp. cumin
4 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a large pot, drizzle your grape seed oil, saute your onion, green pepper, celery and garlic for about 5 minutes, turning every once in a while. While that is cooking, drain 1 can black beans and dump them in the pot and add 1 can of black beans to your blender and puree until smooth and dump that in as well. Next, add your salsa, veggie broth, barley (I used whole wheat couscous cause that's what I had on hand), carrots, corn, cumin, and lime juice. Stir everything together, bring to a boil, and cover on low to simmer for 30 minutes.

Peanut Clusters

These remind me of my childhood, our sweet neighbor would make them every year for Christmas and bring us a bag of them. They are so so so simple, even the non-baker can whip these up--- and let your kids join in, they are error proof!

1 lb. white chocolate
2 cups rice crispy cereal
2 cups Spanish Peanuts (they have red skins on them and are salted in the snack isle)

I like to buy the chocolate in chips (Trader Joe's sells white chocolate chips) because they melt faster and more evenly verses a bar, so put your chocolate in a glass bowl (if you are using your microwave) or your double boiler (if you are using your stove) to melt them. Melt them to a smooth consistency (if you are using your microwave, do in increments of 30 seconds and stir in between, should take around 1 minute 30 seconds to melt them). Next add your nuts and cereal, stir lots until everything is evenly mixed and then get out your cookie sheets lined in parchment paper. Using a spoon scoop them in dollops onto the sheet, you will probably need 2 cookie sheets. Stick them in the fridge for about 1 hour to firm up. Package them in cute cellophane bags, Chinese take out boxes, or something of the like and share them with those you love!

** Side notes: I have tried them with milk chocolate and dark chocolate, and I have to be honest, white chocolate turns out the best.... but the others are good too so feel free to mix it up if you want to!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chocolate & Carmel Turtles

Here the are before going in the oven, all laid out on the cookie sheet...
Close up
Finished Product!!!

Here's something quick and easy, great for a last minute gift- fill up a tin or a jar with these for the holidays- or use them as favors for a shower--- or heck, just eat 'em, they are SOOO good and literally take minutes!

pretzels, the twisted kind
pecan halves (you can use different nuts, but pecans turn out the best!)

Preheat your oven to 200. Place twisted pretzels on the cookie sheet, unwrap your rolos and place them on top of the pretzel. Fill up the cookie sheet. Pop them in the oven for 4-5 minutes, pull them out and push a pecan half into the center of the rolo. Let them chill in the fridge for about 1 hour, pop them off with a spatula and package them up to share with others!

The last time I made these, my sister-in-law and I packaged them up like this for a baby shower!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Asparagus Dipping Sauce...

I had complete forgot about this little treat until visiting my mom this weekend, she makes this everyone once in awhile as a dipping sauce for steamed asparagus. It's really simple and you will already have the ingredients on hand.

1 tsp. mustard
1 1/2 TBSP. Soy sauce

These measurements make enough for one, so multiple it times as many people as you are serving. Then, measure, pour, and mix. Serve it with steamed or boiled asparagus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple Crisp....

Here's an awesome EASY dessert passed on from my sister's recipe stash perfect for the upcoming holidays... it is so yummy, be sure you make enough!

8 apples (4 sweet, 4 sour)

1 cup sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 butter, soften
3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup oats

Preheat oven to 350. Take out a 9 x 13 pyrex dish. Wash, peel and slice your apples (the most time consuming part) making sure your apple slices are the same so they bake the same. Put them in your pyrex as you go, once you have enough apples to fill your dish to the top, generously sprinkle your cinnamon and give a shake of salt evenly over the dish. Mix it all up, add more cinnamon if needed, then start on the topping. Mix all those ingredients together, spoon it over the apples evenly and bake it for 45 minutes until it's golden brown on top. Let it cool for 5 minutes before cutting. Serve it solo or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.