Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My "can't live without" in the kitchen...

Pin It Now! Many new chefs, when reading recipes are going to stumble upon the infamous "Dutch Oven."  When I first started cooking I had NO idea what they were talking about!  I had to google it find out what one even looked like...
So I recently had to say goodbye to my huge dutch oven.  She decided to chunk off a quarter size chip of enamel right from the middle of the pot.  Depressed I tucked her away in the recycling bin and then proceeded to research Dutch Ovens.  Here's what I've's slim pickin's out there!

Now I don't know about you, but I just can't drop $250 (and up) for a pot (Le Creuset).  I had to find something else.  I ended up purchasing a Lodge (great reviews and affordable...check Amazon).  So, without further she is:

I'm in love; however, I wasn't paying attention when I purchased and ended up with a 6 quart.  Now, that doesn't seem small, but for me, it is.  I need at least 8 quarts..if not even a bit bigger.  I usually double recipes in order to have extra for lunches.  Not wanting to order another one (though I may) I went on the hunt to Home Goods and Marshalls...fingers crossed, but no luck.  So, I'm still going to look for a larger one, but I'm keeping this one too.  Tested it out on the Oktoberfest Stoup and it worked really well.  So, I'm happy.  :)  


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to Poach an Egg - CHOW

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I never thought I would like poached eggs, but then I finally gave in and tried Egg's Benedict...all I can say is YUMMY!!!! So, I decided to learn how to make them my self. This is also a great inexpensive way to create so fun lunches to take to work and school. Happy cooking!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pizza for Breakfast!

Pin It Now! Are your kids in a breakfast rut??  Cereal each morning?  Try this one day and surprise them!

*Kid Korner:  have the kids spread on the cream cheese and add their own fruit toppings

Pizza for Breakfast? Yes, Fruity Breakfast Pizza!

We made these for my daughters birthday party.  The kids had so much fun putting them together.

Fruity Breakfast Pizza.
Here they are coming together in the prep area.  I didn't add the bananas until right before we were ready to create...didn't want brown banana pieces!  :)

Me and my princess...having a great time!  

Ready for the oven!

Fruity Breakfast Pizza:
  • English Muffins (I used Trader Joe's Brand)
  • Strawberry Whipped cream cheese  (or any other kind your kids like)
  • A Sprinkling of Cinnamon and Sugar
  • Fruit of Choice, cut into bite-size pieces (I used Strawberries, Bananas and Blueberries)
Halve muffins.  Spread with cream cheese and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Arrange fruit on top, and toast in oven.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Menu for March 21-24- Monday: Ginger-Garlic Tuna Burgers on Cucumber Salad

Pin It Now! Monday:  Ginger-Garlic Tuna Burgers on Cucumber Salad

This is a Rachel Ray recipe.  I tried to find a link for it, but no luck.  So typing it in for you.  :)  This sounds light and fresh and looks like a great way to start off the week!

Tuesday: Oktoberfest Stoup

Pin It Now! This just flat out sounded awesome!  I don't care if it's the end of March...I'm making this!  Our one bad meal of the week.  I'm going almost all Rachel Ray this week...(I was perusing her cookbook that I pilfered from my mom)  Hoping this tastes as good as it sounds!

Wednesday: Lemon Roast Pork Tenderloin with Warm Beets, Chicory, and Goat cheese

Pin It Now! Rachel Ray again....I LOVE beets, so I just had to give this a try.  (and pork is on sale)  Never used Chicory before (don't even know what it looks like) but Rachel says it trumps regular ol' lettuce.  We'll see.
*update:  use Endive if you can't find Chicory.

Thursday: Fish Sticks

Pin It Now! *Quick and Easy!
Yeah, you read that right.  Good ol' fish sticks.  My friend gave me a great recipe and we made some a couple weekends ago.  SO good...(and I grew up dousing my fish sticks in ketchup just to get them down.)  These are great and the kids LOVE them!  Serve with a side of veggies or a fresh salad.

At Costco, you can buy a bag of frozen Mahi Mahi fish.  They are individually sealed so you can use as much or as little as you need.  Light tasting fish.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kitchen Technique of the Week

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A couple of readers have asked for some info on the proper way to chop an onion. This video is short and sweet and the best part is it's Gordon Ramsay (yeah, I'm a fan) :) Hopefully this will speed up some of your prep and keep those tears at bay! :)

Just a thought...

Pin It Now! So, I've been spending time checking out other cooking blogs.  I see all kinds of fancy cookware, huge kitchens, and top of the line appliances.  I thought I should share where the "magic" happens in my house.

My kitchen is roughly 9x9 with a total working space of about 4x5.  My stove (although gas) has two temps..boil and boil faster.  (I can't get ANYTHING to simmer on this thing..had to actually through out an entire meal because the damn stove cooked it to smithereens.)  My oven loves to overheat and shut itself off mid cooking.  My broiler is the kind that is a pull out drawer and likes to just heat one side of whatever I put in there.  I have knock off skillets bought at Home Goods and Ikea.  Though, I did just get a new (hopefully decent) dutch oven (picture to come when it finally arrives).  My old one decided to create a giant chip in the center.

Yes, I'm slightly obsessed about taking pictures and I want my meals to look "oh so delish," but I'm okay with that, it's who I am.  I am lucky to be able to stay home with my kids and therefore have more time to prep meals.  But, all in all, I'm just a normal mom trying to keep things the kitchen.  :)  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday: Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

Pin It Now! Quick and Easy!!  I've made this dish before and I've really enjoyed the taste.  I didn't know where to find Chipotle chili peppers in adobe sauce, but I then spotted them in the International section of the grocery store.  They are by the jalapeños and green chili's.  It supposed to have a bit of a kick, so I'll use sparingly to start and then let the hubby spike his own dish.  I use frozen corn and this time I'm using a rotisserie chicken (time saver).
Serve with a side of chips and salsa, or guacamole.  It would also been fun to put inside one of those taco shells!  :)  Enjoy! 

Beef and Bok Choy

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Family All-Time Fave
We LOVE this recipe...I always make double the amount to ensure there are leftovers.  If you are carb-watching, skip the noddles..but I always use them.  :)  I could eat this every week...the only reason we don't is that flank steak tends to be pricey (check Costco, they have good deals though).  So, I try to make it twice a month!  LOL  enjoy!!   (by the way, this is a Weight Watchers recipe and is worth 4 points.)

Beef and Bok Choy

1 ½ pounds of flank steak
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 TBS grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic gloves minced
2 ½ cups thinly sliced bok choy
2 TBS sesame seeds

1 package Thai rice noodles (or other flat noodle) 

Cut steak diagonally across the grain into very thin slices and set aside. Combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients in a large Ziploc bag, add steak and seal bag...let stand for at least 10 min...longer if you want stronger flavor (I go for an hour or two)
About 10 minutes before you're ready to cook the meat, get a pot of water boiling and cook rice noodles according to package directions.
Heat large skillet over med-high heat and add steak AND marinade...cook 4 min or until browned...add bok choy, sauté 3 min or until tender.  
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over noodles.  You can also spice it up with extra red pepper or Siracha.  :)

Wednesday: Italian Sausage Soup

Pin It Now! Quick and Easy!!  This is a very easy dish to make with wonderful flavors.  I use Trader Joe's Sweet Chicken Sausage instead of like it better.  :)  I also buy regular diced tomatoes and add my own spices.  (fresh oregano, basil and minced garlic)  This is a great weeknight meal that will come together fast and taste great.  For kids who are picky about bits of tomatoes, you could sub just tomato sauce instead of the diced.

*Kid corner:  for older kids, you can have them help you add each ingredient to the pot as you cook.  Let them stir every now and then too.

Thursday: hubby night

Pin It Now! I'm having some dental work done today and I'm not even going to think about cooking...just getting through this visit.  (I have a fabulous fear of the dentist)  Ugh.  So, dinner is up to the hubby tonight!  :)

3/25/11 dear husband brought home some delish Thai food.  Made me feel SO much better after spending almost the whole day at the dentist.  :)

Friday: Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata and Roasted Asparagus

Pin It Now! I found these recipes in last month's Cooking Light Issue.  I have never cooked with Meyer lemons before and it sounds really tasty.  If you have trouble finding them at your grocery store..try places like Whole Foods or a farmers market.  For those in Cali, I found mine at Henry's Market.  Serving the chicken with the roasted asparagus.  You could also try serving the chicken over angel hair pasta (which I will do for my kids)  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Roasted Garlic

Pin It Now! We are making some yummy burgers tonight and we wanted to use roasted garlic.  I found this link to show you how to roast the garlic in a very simple way.  Roasted garlic has an amazing flavor and can be used in pasta, spread on French bread, used on burgers...just to name a few.  Hope this helps you too!  :)  (photos and recipe from

Roasted Garlic Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes


1 Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2 Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
roasted-garlic-1.jpg roasted-garlic-2.jpg
roasted-garlic-3.jpg roasted-garlic-4.jpg
3 Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.
4 Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
Eat as is (I love straight roasted garlic) or mash with a fork and use for cooking. Can be spread over warm French bread, mixed with sour cream for a topping for baked potatoes, or mixed in with Parmesan and pasta.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Foto FYI

Pin It Now! I've had people ask me about the photos on the blog...those are my actual dishes, not ones from the recipe sites or anything.  :)  Want you to see how it actually turns out for me...not some professional chef.  :D

Monday, March 14, 2011

Breakfast Bliss

Pin It Now! A friend reminded me that I forgot to post this yummy recipe!  I can't take the credit...I got it from the lady working the sample counter at Trader Joe's.  No way is this a healthy breakfast, but for those days when a cup of oatmeal just won't do...whip these up.

I have no idea what to call if you have a creative name, I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Menu for March 14-17 - Monday: Thai Peanut Butter Noddles with Chicken

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Monday:  LOVE this dish!  Made it a couple of times already.  What I do is make two separate sauces, one for the kids and one for us.  That way I can spice it tastes really good with a kick to it.  I use the Thai Rice noodles from Trader Joes.  You could also add some additional veggies...I tried broccoli, but I didn't care for it with the sauce, I did like red bell peppers though.  I serve it with a side of cucumbers (see recipe)...I slice my cucumbers thicker though and place everything in a plastic zip top to marinate while I cook the noodles.

Tuesday: Pizza

Pin It Now! Girls have been asking to make pizza for a couple of days now, so, I'm giving in.  Here's the best part...they eat a ton of veggies when we do this.  A trick?  Nope.  Just let them make their own pizza.  All you have to do is provide the toppings... and stay out of their way.

Here's what we do:
Either buy some pizza dough or purchase already made Boboli (I buy the individual size ones)
Ideas for toppings:
black olives, red or green pepper (or both!), broccoli (yes, seriously), turkey pepperoni, tomatoes, mushrooms, ham...and anything else you can think of.  Be adventurous...especially for the sake of the kids.

I take whatever veggies I'm using and mince them up...pretty tiny.  The broccoli just becomes a mass of green pieces.  Then each veggie gets it's own little bowl.

Place the pizza shell on a cookie this BEFORE you start adding toppings...pain in the ass to try and move after everything is heaped on top.

I use marinara sauce instead of pizza sauce...I like the flavor better and it's usually cheaper!

*KID KORNER...let them do it all!  spoon on the sauce and let them spread.  Then, let them go at the little bowls.  I promise you they will put a little of everything on that pizza.  Help them spread it out evenly if they need it, but don't say a word about what they are putting on the pizza.

*GROWN UP TIP...KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!  if you don't like olives on your pizza..fine.  JUST DON'T SAY IT!  you may only like cheese, but if you give your kids a chance to try something...even if YOU don't like it...they will.  Just cause you don't like something doesn't mean they will too.  Keep an open mind here.

Top with your fave cheese and bake in the oven.  Turn the oven light on and let the kids watch it cook.  Let them help you cut up THEIR special pizza that THEY made.  Talk about how wonderful they did...etc etc.

Sit back and enjoy.  (good job parents!)

Guinness Irish Stew

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Celebrating St. Patty's Day a little early...getting together with friends and this is the night that worked.  My friend is in charge of the corned beef...I'm bringing...the STEW!  Good ol' Guinness beef stew.  I'll probably grab a loaf of Irish soda bread to go with it.

* Kid Korner:  add a few drops of green food coloring to milk, whip up some green jello for dessert, or use food coloring in pudding.  yum. :)

Thursday: Eggplant Parm

Pin It Now! I know most of you are reading the title of the dish and skipping on to the next thing on the menu.  Well, for one, this is the end of the menu for this week...and a little.

Many balk at the thought of eggplant...yep, me too...until I decided to suck it up and try something never know.  So, I did make this one night and man was I surprised!  It was really very good!  So be a little brave, surprise your family...don't even say what you're making, I bet they actually like it.  And for those of you who love eggplant, this is a killer dish.  And filling!  Serve with a nice green salad for bonus veggies and some crusty bread.

*Tip- this takes a bit of time to assemble, so if you don't have day time to prep (and I know most of you don't) save this for a nice weekend meal.

*Kid Korner:  let kids help out by having them dredge the eggplant pieces in the egg and Panko.  They can also help layer and add sauce and cheese.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quicker Way to cook Dry Beans

Pin It Now! One more tip I found today while making my soup.  If you like using dried beans for their flavor, here is a way to get them cooked faster...and without soaking overnight!  I've got mine in the oven right now with some of the soup stock.  Should be great!

Potato Peeling...Made Easy!!!

Pin It Now! For all of you who hate peeling potatoes, check out this video.  Great way to save some time and mess!!  (just remember NEVER to put peels in your garbage disposal!)  Happy cooking!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu for March 7-11- Monday: Chicken, Cheddar, Chowdar

Pin It Now! Looking to use up some items from the freezer this I came across these wonderful dishes...I just love being in the kitchen and creating fun things to eat! :)

Monday:  I just love soup!  :)  So, this one sound simple, easy and delish.  Plus, the reviews raved about it.  Looking forward to dinner tonight!

Tuesday: Shrimp Etouffee

Pin It Now! In honor of Fat Tuesday, I'm going to attempt my first Shrimp Etouffee.  I'll be toning down the spices for the sake of my girls, but I'll separate it and re-season for me and the hubby.  (and knowing him, he'll add even more)  Hoping this turns out well!

Wednesday: Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence

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Attempting another Julia Child recipe this week.  This one is much simpler!  :)  I am only using thigh meat because that is what I have on hand.  If anything, it sounds SO yummy!  

Thursday: Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli

Pin It Now! More soup!  Yea!  I was intrigued by this dish in that I had never heard of cranberry beans...and I came to find, they are impossible to find.  (at least where I live) I could order them online, but I'm not that obsessed with cooking yet.  I was told by a chef that pinto beans are a fine substitute and would save me about $5.  Sold.  So, I'm following the recipe except for inserting pinto beans for cranberry.  (You could make this vegetarian by omitting the pancetta, but the reviews say it gives a wonderful flavor.)

Friday: Classic Beef Pot Roast

Pin It Now! Making this wonderful dish again.  I have some rump roast to use, so I'll be cooking with that instead of chuck.  May not be quite as tender, but I'm sure it will taste fine just the same.  Also, I'm subbing mushrooms for potatoes.  (well, I may add a few potatoes.)

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