Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Taco Tuesday

Tuesday is Taco day at our house.  I am so busy on Tuesdays and my kids usually bring their friends over to eat.   I  finally decided I  needed to feed them something else besides pizza.    I decided tacos were the answer.  I usually have two different types of meat and/or fish, and  a boat load of toppings - that way there is something for everyone.

Today's taco bar will include:
- ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning (I follow the package directions)
- chicken - I add sauteed onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper
- taco shells
- salsa
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
- chopped black olives
- shredded iceberg lettuce
- diced tomatoes
- guacamole


Some Tuesday's I have fish.  I  usually use the Trident  Spicy Fish you can find at Costco.    It is great for tacos.

Happy Eating,

Geri

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Best Thanksgiving Kitchen Appliance Was????????

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving dinner, as I was working on loading the dishwasher, I thought which kitchen appliance I am  most thankful for.

Without the oven, I could not roast a delicious juicy turkey, make pies, cake, cookies or breads.  Without the stove I could not make my side dishes, stuffing, or gravy.  Without the mixer it would be hard to make the cake, cookies and breads.   The food processor was necessary to chop my cranberries, apples, and nuts just  right, not to mention the slicing of the mushrooms for the stuffing.

Without my dishwasher, I would spend days washing and drying all the dishes used to prepare and eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Soo what is the best kitchen appliance?  I don't know if I can pick just one - but if I had to it would be the dishwasher.   Why -  I would still be doing the dishes and I would much rather be cooking than washing and drying dishes.

What is your favorite??

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


 I hope you have a blessed and safe  holiday with family and friends.


 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Incredible Cranberry

Cranberry Fluff, Cranberry Salad, Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Bread, and Pumpkin Cranberry Scones are just a few of the"cranberry" foods we eat during the holidays.  I knew cranberries had health benefits, but I did not know how many.  Here are just a few of them I found while surfing the web.

1.  Cranberries treat and prevent urinary tract infections.

2. Cranberries contain quinic acid.  This means cranberries are beneficial against the formation of kidney stones.

3. Cranberries lower harmful cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol.

4.  The antioxidants present in cranberries improve the function of blood vessels.  This means a reduction in the risk of heart  diseases and heart attacks.

The list goes on and on. Wow!!     I am going cook with cranberries all year long -  not just at holiday time.   You can buy dried cranberries or just buy bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them (they last up to nine months).  If you are going to cook with frozen cranberries do not thaw them.  They are easier to chop or grind when they are frozen.

Be adventurous  and creative when adding cranberries to your diet.

Happy Eating!!

Geri

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cooking+Friends=Great Time

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  That expression describes my son David.  Ever since he was a small fry, he liked helping me in the kitchen.

Today, he is in college and  still likes to cook.  Last night, he invited some friends over and they had a cooking night.  They decided what they wanted to cook, went shopping for the ingredients, and set to work cooking.

They started out with chips and salsa,  then grilled  burgers on a charcoal grill ( in cold weather), portabella mushrooms and salmon.  They also baked some blueberry muffins.
According to their Facebook comments, they had a great time.

Best of all for me, they cleaned up the kitchen.  Thanks guys and gals, you can cook at my house anytime.

Friday, November 19, 2010

From Ranch to Sweet Chipotle

I have been working on different snacks to have on Thanksgiving.   I pretty much have the ones done before "Turkey Time." It was after "Turkey Time"  I needed to work on.

I looked at different recipes from Chex Mix to Popcorn.  Finally, I found a recipe for Ranch Pretzels.
The recipe sounded good,  easy to make, and not a lot of clean up.   I made a test batch and decided it needed a little southwest zing.  My original thought was to make a Chipotle Ranch pretzel recipe.  But like most of my recipes, it evolved.

The recipe now has nothing to do with Ranch.  However, the Chipotle is still there and so are the pretzels.


                        Sweet Chipotle Pretzels



2-1/2 cups mini pretzels
1 egg white
1-tablespoon water
½ cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
1/8-teaspoon chipotle chili powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg white and water together until frothy.

2.  Place pretzels in a large mixing bowl.  Pour the egg white mixture over the pretzels.  Toss the pretzels until well coated.  Strain the pretzels and set aside.

3.  Place the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and chili powder in a large zip lock bag.  Close the bag and shake well to thoroughly mix the ingredients.

4.  Add the pretzels to the sugar and spice mixture.  Shake well so the pretzels are coated with the sugar and spice mixture.

5.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread pretzels on the parchment paper - single layer. 

6.  Bake pretzels for 10 minutes, rotating the pretzels halfway thru the baking time.

7.  Remove the pretzels from the oven and let them cool completely before serving.  Store in an airtight container.


Yields 2-1/2 cups


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Tasty Field Trip

I just got back from a Cub Scout field trip.  We took the boys to Whole Foods so they could earn their nutrition - Food Pyramid requirement.  It was the best field trip we have taken as a Den.  Our guide, Nick, gave the boys a great education on food.

Not only were the boys told about food, we also got to sample a bunch of food.  Nick gave us raspberries, shrimp, smoked salmon, almond butter, yogurt, cheese,  chicken, cookies, and last but not least, pizza.

The boys and parents said we needed more field trips like this one.  So, if you need to take Cub Scouts,Girl Scouts, school groups, or any youth groups to a fun and tasty field trip, I recommend Whole Foods.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harry Potter and Pumpkin Juice

My kids and I are excited about the release of the latest Harry Potter movie.  To get us in the "mood" for the new movie we watched old Harry Potter movies and drank Pumpkin Juice.  As one of my kids said, "Pumpkin juice is surprisingly delicious."  I was thinking of serving pumpkin juice on Thanksgiving as we are playing games or watching a movie with some popcorn.



                                    Pumpkin Juice


1- 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1/3 cup apricot fruit spread
1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1-quart apple juice.


Directions
1. In a blender place the pumpkin, apricot fruit spread, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar. Blend on high for one minute.

2.  In a 2-quart pitcher add the apple juice and the pumpkin mixture.  Stir well.

3.  You can serve the juice hot or cold.  It taste great either way.


Makes six 8 ounce servings.




Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eleven Days and Counting

It's  hard to believe  Thanksgiving is  11 days away.  At our house, we have family and friends over around 1:00.  We eat, watch TV, eat, play games , and eat some more.

I usually try at least one new recipe during the Thanksgiving holidays.  Last year, I got an idea from Dorie Greenspan on baking a stuffed pumpkin.  This year, I thought I would expand on the idea and try a bread pudding baked in a pumpkin- stay tuned .

Our Thanksgiving dinner also includes family favorites from the past like  Cranberry Fluff, Olde English Stuffing,  pumpkin and pecan pies - just to name a few.

I will have Thanksgiving recipes from my home posted on the blog during the next eleven days -  so check back for some tasty recipes.

Happy Eating,

Geri

Friday, November 12, 2010

If It's Friday, It's Pasta

Friday's is pasta day at my house.  I am usually recovering from a busy week and want something easy to prepare to start the week-end.

Pasta is quick, easy, inexpensive,  and  something you can make ahead of time, freeze, and enjoy later.

Today, I am making macaroni and cheese.  I have loved macaroni and cheese ever since I was a kid.  It is one of my kids  favorites, too. I experimented around with different cheeses and pastas to come up with our family favorite.  This recipe has been a favorite at pot lucks, youth group functions, and my kids study groups.



    

Four Cheese Macaroni



Ingredients

    * 12 ounces dry large elbow macaroni
    * 3 tablespoons butter
    * 3 tablespoons flour
    * 2 cups milk
    * 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
    * 1-teaspoon salt
    * ½ teaspoon pepper
    * 1 cup shredded Dubliner cheese
    * 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
    * 1 cup grated Velveeta cheese
    * Topping:
    * ¼ cup cheese bread breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs
    * 1-tablespoon butter melted
    * ¼ cup shredded Mexican Cheese
   
   
Directions

    * Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    * 1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain in colander and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
    * 2. In a medium saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add flour to melted butter and whisk together until combined. Cook for 2 minutes. Add onion powder, salt, pepper and incorporate well.
    * 3. Stir milk into the butter and flour mixture. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil stirring frequently.
    * 4. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
    * 5. Stir in the Dubliner cheese a little at a time being sure all has melted before adding more.
    * 6. Stir in the mild cheddar cheese a little at a time being sure all has melted before adding more. Repeat with the Velveeta cheese.
    * 7. Add macaroni to the cheese mixture and stir until well coated
    * 8. Grease a 1-½ qt round baking dish.
    * 9. Pour macaroni and cheese into the baking dish.
    * 10. In a small bowl combine the melted butter and the breadcrumbs. Mix until well coated.
    * 11. Top the macaroni with the breadcrumbs, then top with the Mexican cheese.
    * 11. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
    * 12. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes longer or until bubbly.


 Yield: serves 6



Sunday, November 7, 2010

On The Beaten Path

Just got back from a long fall walk.  The kids, Sally the dog, and I walked about five miles.  The day was just perfect, not too cold, not too hot, and not too windy. The trees had golden, red, and purple leaves.  Our mountains looked so majestic against a clear blue sky.

I always make sure we have "provisions" for our walks.  I always have water and a surprise snack for us - freeze dried fruit, nuts, popcorn, Power Bars, etc.  Today I packed some home-made trail mix.  It had a salty sweet mixture to it.  It is one of my family's favorite.

Salty and Sweet Trail Mix


1-cup salted peanuts
1 cup salted cashews
½ cup whole almonds
1-cup butter toffee cashews
1-cup peanut brittle broken into bite size pieces



1. Put all of the above ingredients in a medium mixing bowl
2. Mix well.
3. Store ingredients in an airtight container or in a large zip loc bag.



Makes approximately 5 cups

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Soup's On

With the crisp weather, I get in the mood for soup.  Soup is a great meal.  It is filling, tasty, a great comfort food, and easy to make.

I make your standard soups most of the time -Chicken Noodle, Split Pea and Ham,  Beef and Barley soup, and Potato Soup just to mention a few.

I thought I would be adventurous and experiment with a new soup.  My experiment choice wasPasta e Fagioli  soup.  Try it and let me know what you think.



                                Pasta e Fagioli Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped carrots
1 rib of celery finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1-teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
11/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
11/2 quarts chicken broth
1-15 ounce can tomato sauce
1-15 ounce can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1-cup ditalini
Salt and pepper
Grated Pecorino Romano

1. In a large pot heat the oil and add the pancetta
2. Brown the pancetta, and then add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper , Italian seasoning and bay leaf.
3.Cook for 10 minutes.  Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, kidney beans and red pepper flakes to the vegetables.    Bring to a boil. 
4. Reduce heat, cover and cook soup for 10 minutes.  Add the ditalini.  Cover and cook until the pasta is cooked al dente.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.
5. Remove soup from the heat.  Let the soup rest and cool for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the bay leaf,  ladle soup into bowls and top with grated cheese.

Serves 8