Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu for Feb. 28 - March 3 - Monday: Caramel Pork

Pin It Now! Short week this week since I'm not cooking Fri night.  :)  Trying some more new dishes this week and one I've made before.  My girls really enjoy soup, so I try to find fun variations for them.  I'd love to hear from you about your cooking experiences!  Happy cooking!

Monday:  this was in the new issue of Cooking Light and it sounded really good and very easy to make.  I'm making a slaw to go with it.  (see recipe below)

Tuesday: Curried Cauliflower Soup

Pin It Now!  I've never even tried cauliflower soup, but I'm going to make this!  I love the idea of the curry seasoning.  I'm going to serve it along side some grilled (or pan cooked) sausage.

Wednesday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Pin It Now! This is one of those dishes you know you shouldn't make everyday...even though you really (really) want to.  I think my kids would eat the sauce with a spoon.  Yes, there's a lot of sugar, but you can adjust that to your taste.  (some have also used brown sugar)  I like the good'ol white sugar.  And I LOVE the sweet-sticky mess that is this sauce.  I keep the skin on, for the simple reason that I love it.  If you're watching your calories and fat, feel free to take it off. 

Thursday: Cider Roasted Pork Loin & Savory Beet Soup

Pin It Now! I love when I saw this, I just had to try it.  I know my kids will eat it just because of the color!  I'm taking another reviewers tip and I'm making the cider pork to go with the soup.  Should be a great meal!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Homemade (Feel Better) Chicken Noodle Soup

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Since I had some leftover chicken thighs AND a sick kiddo...I thought I would make some homemade chicken noodle soup.  This is my mom's recipe tweaked with a few ideas from Julia Child...enjoy!  (This is a large recipe...made to have leftovers...scale down as you see fit for your family)

*Edited Jan 2014- my old recipe called for boxed chicken broth, but I have found that with my addition of the herbs, garlic and ginger, my soup base already has amazing flavor.  I enhance it with just a bit of the bouillon but I make sure to use the low sodium.  This soup will seriously make you feel better...its worked every time for my girls.  :)  

Menu for Feb 22nd-25th... Tuesday: Crab and Asian Slaw

Pin It Now! So, I have been inspired by the great Julia Child.  I finally watched the movie "Julie and Julia" and I found myself wanting to rush out and by her book before the movie was even over!  The best part, is that I have learned that I have been making some mistakes in my cooking and through her, I'll be cooking better!  I'm going to try and create one dish a week from her famous cookbook.  This weeks will come on Thursday!  If you've made something you call a family fave, don't hesitate to share!

Tuesday:  great sale on Dungeness crab at Vons...keeping the crab simple, just going to re-heat (since already cooked) and serve with a side of melted butter and perhaps cocktail sauce.  Going to make this lovely sounding slaw for the side.

Wednesday: Falafel with Avocado Spread

Pin It Now! We need to cut back on the amount of meat we I'm looking to cook up some great vegetarian dishes.  This sounded very tasty and got great reviews.  Going to serve with a side of corn and pita chips.

Thursday: Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

Pin It Now! it is...the famous Beef Bourguignon.  This is not a simple dish to make; however, it seems more time consuming then technique.  I am attaching the recipe that also tells how to make the mushrooms and onions that she serves with the beef.  I've read through the recipe 10x already and will probably do so a few hundred more before attempting to start.  For most, this would be a dish you would make on the weekend..I'm dedicating Thursday to it!  :)  Fingers crossed!

Friday: Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

Pin It Now! Since I landed such a good deal on spaghetti squash last week, I need to get creative with it.  This dish sounds amazing!  All my faves.  And it would be very easy to convert to vegetarian by simply omitting the chicken.  I may serve with some bread or a small salad.  **note:  even if you're not a fan of squash, you should really give this particular squash a chance.  It does not have a strong flavor to it and basically picks up the flavors of the dish itself.  Be daring!**

You can also save time by cooking the squash in the microwave. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Food For Thought...

Pin It Now! Great article about cooking, plus it has a FREE downloadable book for soups.  (It works, I tried it)  :)  Happy cooking!

“Isabel, is non-stick cookware really that dangerous?  I’ve tried cooking with other varieties that are not non-stick and end up burning everything!  What should I do?”
Let’s address first things first. Is there even a reason to ditch the non-stick cookware?  The overwhelming consensus is YES. 
According to the Environmental Working Group, nonstick coatings can “reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 3-5 minutes, releasing 15 toxic gases and chemicals, including two carcinogens."  The company Dupont (creators of Teflon, the chemical used in non-stick cookware) claims that their pans should be used at temperatures below 446 degrees Fahrenheit (although some people have claimed that the temperature is closer to 500 and some have even said 600, but the inconsistency in the research is just as scary as this fact).  Cooking at these temperatures is nearly impossible and anything that requires cooking at heats higher than “low” will quickly reach temperatures well beyond 446 degrees (even as high as 700 degrees), emitting these toxic fumes from the Teflon lining in pans. 
One of the main chemicals used in the manufacturing process of Teflon and other nonstick pans is perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) also known as C-8. This chemical has led to cancer and birth defects in lab animals, and may have led to birth defects in DuPont plant workers. In 2005, an independent panel reporting to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared PFOA a likely human carcinogen.  Yikes!
If these facts weren’t scary enough, it is highly recommended that anyone with pet birds not use Teflon lined pans at all in their homes or their birds will most likely die because of the fumes that are emitted.  Uhhhh…does that not raise a humongous red flag all around???  Gases that will kill your birds can NOT possibly be, in no way shape or form, good for you or your family.  Wouldn’t you agree?
The bottom line?  Toss those non-stick pots and pans out and let’s look into some safer possibilities.
But before we get to those, let’s look at some newer types of cookware on the market today that may or may not be alternate choices.
Copper cookware
With all the controversy surrounding the dangers of Teflon and non-stick pots and pans, many people have begun to turn to other options.  Unfortunately some of them are not really the best choices.
Copper leaches into food when heated, prompting the FDA to caution against using unlined copper for general use. Accordingly, the cooking surfaces are usually lined with tin, nickel or stainless steel. Coated copper cookware can lose its protective layer if damaged or scoured. Keep in mind that the metals of the “protective” surface can also end up in your food.
Ok, a teeny, tiny bit better than Teflon, but still doesn’t make me feel good about cooking my healthy food in it.
Aluminum cookware 
Aluminum is a soft and highly reactive metal that can leach into food, especially when you are cooking with acidic ingredients. The metal-food reaction can form aluminum salts that are associated with impaired visual motor coordination and Alzheimer’s disease.
Aluminum is one of the most abundant elements on the earth, so avoiding it is nearly impossible, but minimizing its presence in your food is a smart choice, especially since its consumption has been so closely linked to Alzheimer’s.  You may also want to minimize your use of aluminum foil and only use it in cooking when absolutely necessary.  I, for example, no longer bake potatoes wrapped in foil.  I bake them in the oven without the foil and they turn out just as delicious and soft.
So what choices are we left with?
Stainless steel cookware
Time and time again, stainless steel cookware comes out on top in food cooking safety research.  I personally have been using only stainless steel pots and pans for 10 years now and have really mastered the art of NOT burning every bit of food that touches the pan.
What’s the secret?
Yes, you read that correctly.  When cooking with stainless steel pots and pans, you will need to use a good cooking oil (like coconut oil, butter or ghee) and cook most foods at low temperatures.  This does take a bit longer to create your food masterpieces, but you will not have food sticking to the pan and your food will be even more delicious than if cooked quickly.
Let’s take eggs for example, I will melt the coconut oil or butter in a stainless steel pan heated on a very low setting.  I will then add in the eggs…let’s say scrambled…and slowly move the mixture around with my stainless steel spatula.  Sometimes I will cover it for a few seconds at a time to speed up the cooking time, but I do not leave it unattended too long.  People usually experience “sticking” problems when they abandon their food and leave it on the stovetop too long.
I highly recommend looking into the different varieties of stainless steel cookware on the market today.  I know some varieties can be pricey, but I am always looking for sales and coupons on the internet and in the paper (yes, the old school newspaper) before I make any major purchase (I’m not just a healthy mom, I’m a very thrifty mom as well).
I’ll be back in a few days with some more helpful cooking tips, but until then, take a look through your cabinets and see which items may not be the healthiest cooking options for you and your family.
Speaking of cooking, everyone has absolutely loved and been enjoying the complimentary Soup Recipe book I sent out last week to our customers only.  Be sure you have downloaded your own personal copy here:
Click here to download Super Soups with Isabel

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu for Feb 15-18.. Tuesday: Pan-Grilled Sausages w/Sauerkraut

Pin It Now! Since most people would be out for dinner for Valentine's, I started the menu on Tuesday this week. A little more budget friendly this time around.  Kept the recipes simple as well.  Enjoy!

I had some sausage in the fridge I needed to use came up with this one.  I grew up eating sauerkraut and for as long as I can remember, I've loved it.  Hoping to get my girls on the bandwagon too.  This is a very simple dish to make, easy on the wallet too.  Happy cooking!

Wednesday: Sweet Potato, Ham and Leek Soup

Pin It Now! Soups on!  Who'd have thought a soup this simple would be so yummy!  The flavors are lovely and my girls devour their bowls.  A nice side salad rounds it out.  Make sure to cook the potatoes till they are very soft, they blend better that way.

Thursday: Grilled Chicken Thighs with White Barbecue Sauce White BBQ Sauce & Grilled Asparagus

Pin It Now! I love when chicken thighs go on sale...they are so versatile and there are so many recipes to chose from.  I grabbed this recipe so I could spend some time cooking on my grill.  Going to make the white bbq sauce with it as well.  Serving with a side of sweet potato fries and asparagus.

okay, so I forgot to put the sauce on the plate when I took the picture...but we did use it and it was yummy!

Friday: Spaghetti Squash Gratins with Chunky Tomato Sauce

Pin It Now! This is such a delicious dish.  My kids had no idea it was straight veggies.  I may add some mushrooms this time for a little twist.  I make mine in a 9x12 casserole dish and it turns out great.  We call it "spaghetti cake."  :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wasabi and Panko-Crusted Pork with Gingered Soy Sauce

Pin It Now! Another week...another batch of fun dishes.  Had some meat in the freezer, so using up some of that.  Again, let me know if you cook any of these and how they turn out!  :)  And please, share your recipes with me!

I've made this dish before and the flavors are amazing!  And, the wasabi paste gives a great taste without the spice.  My girls really like this.  I'm going to make it with the cucumbers on the side.  (Maybe some rice for the girls)

Tuesday: Brunswick Stew with Smoked Paprika

Pin It Now! This stew sounded really tasty...even though the hubby isn't a fan of potato's, I vetoed him.  :)  I have some crusty ciabiatta bread to serve on the side.

Wednesday: Crispy Orange Beef

Pin It Now! Had some sirloin leftover from last week, so thought I would do something different with it.  I read the reviews and I'm going to make some modifications to the sauce (like cutting back on the sugar and ginger, and using fresh OJ instead of concentrated).  Serving with brown rice and broccoli and some pre-cooked egg rolls.

Thursday: Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

Pin It Now! Usually when I ask my husband for ideas on what to cook...he just sort of stares at me.  Or suggests something so off the wall, even I don't want to cook it.  So this time when I asked...the hubby requested something with here we go.  Plus, I already had the sweet potato's and chicken.  Nice.  I'm going to serve it over Israeli couscous.  

Friday: Beef Daube Proven├žal

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This sounded so good, I just had to make it.  Plus I already had the chuck roast from last week that I never cooked.  Just keeping it simple and serving with a side of bread.  And don't be afraid of the name, it's very simple to make.  :)

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