Thursday, June 30, 2011

How do you Hot Dog?

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We're celebrating our nations independence...and when we think about good'ol American dogs surely come to mind.  I'm grabbing a few of these killer hot dog recipes from Food Network (the photos are theirs...I haven't made all these dogs yet!)  LOL  Wanted to give you some ideas for your upcoming BBQ.  Instead of the same'ol hot dogs with ketchup and mustard, why not try something with a little more flair?  Let me know which one is your fave!  Happy Cookin'!     
Share your fave Hot Dog recipe!  Go to the Share Your Recipe link and I'll post your fave!
chicago dog is a popular hot dog choice
Chicago Dog: 
Serve boiled hot dogs on poppy-seed buns with dill pickle and cucumber spears, sliced tomatoes, sweet pickle relish,pickled peppersdiced onion and yellow mustard.  Sprinkle with celery salt. 

Picture of California Dogs Recipe

California Dogs:
Serve boiled tofu dogs on whole-wheat buns with diced avocado and cucumbersprouts and shredded carrot. Drizzle with green goddess salad dressing.

Picture of Po' Boy Dogs Recipe

Po Boy Dogs:
Serve grilled hot dogs on grilled buns with remoulade sauce or Creole mustard, shredded romaine and pickled okra. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning.

Picture of Philly Dogs Recipe

Philly Dogs:
Serve grilled hot dogs on hoagie rolls with cheese sauce, sauteed peppers and onions, and a dash of hot sauce.

Picture of Curry Dogs Recipe

Curry Dogs:
Cook 1/4 cup each lime juicebrown sugar and pitted dates, 1/4 teaspoon each cuminchili powder and salt, and a splash of water until thick; puree. Brush chicken dogs with vegetable oil, sprinkle with curry powder and grill. Serve on soft buns with the pureecurry snack mixonion and cilantro.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Birthday Dinner

Pin It Now! You know you're loved when you have family who is totally excited to cook for you.  Even though I touted this week as Italian only, I had a craving for Asian for my birthday dinner.  With my mom in town, I wanted her to make something..(aside from her traditional birthday cake) and I wanted the hubby stationed on the grill.  So, this is what I asked for my birthday meal:

Dumpling Soup
Grilled Asian Flank Steak
Asian Cucumber Salad  

I'm already drooling.  So, I figure I'll just park my butt on the couch with my girls, pop in a movie, grab a glass of wine, and...vegg.  

(wanna know a secret though?  I really love cooking...and I'll kinda miss being in the kitchen tonight...well, just a little)  :)

Glitch In The System

Pin It Now! All these weeks I've been wondering why not a single person has commented on any of my recipes. I mean, usually someone says something, right?  Then a reader commented on Facebook that she kept trying to post and it wouldn't stick.
I quickly rushed to the net and surfed to see how to fix the problem..and, well, I think I did it.  Something was wrong in the design.  We did a couple of tests and I think it's working properly.  (I hope)

So, I want to apologize to all my, for making it impossible for you to comment, and two for not being able to get back to you about your comments.  What a mess.  And please, in the future, if you find something not working properly, let me know.  You can always reach me via email.

Thanks so much to all my readers and I'm hoping that now we can share comments and questions.

Happy cooking!!  (and commenting!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday: Staci's Orecchiette with Fresh Tomatoes and Sausage

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To indulge my inner Italian, I'm declaring this week...ITALIAN WEEK!  (it makes me excited just to type that)  I've searched for some fun new dishes and I'm cooking up one of my personal faves.  

I know that Italian food sometimes gets a bad rap because of the high carb content.  However; I've been to Italy (yes, lucky me) and let me tell you, they aren't all obese!  The reason?  They don't eat a vat of pasta for each meal.  A typical Italian dinner will include at least three courses eaten over the span of a couple of hours (or more).  You'd start with an Antipasti (appetizer), followed by il primo (first dish that is usually pasta...about one cup worth), il secondo (usually meat or fish), and a contorno (a side dish of veggies).  Also there is bread and wine of course.  And usually espresso with dessert if ordered.
Now, as much as I'd like to sit for two hours and enjoy my dinner, my kids aren't going to go for that.  So, I'm forced to just enjoy the il primo course or il secondo.  I have prepared a true Italian meal once for a family party at my home, but that was pre-kiddos.

So, keep in mind, when preparing Italian food, keep your portions smaller and you won't have to worry so much about the carb count.  And best of all, just enjoy the deliciousness that makes Italian food so damn good.

For today, I'm making my fave pasta.  It started as a recipe I found in a cookbook and then I've tweaked it from there.  I love this dish.  Mostly because of the gorgeous and sweet tasting cherry tomatoes.  I don't bother seeding or removing skins...takes too much time and actually I like both.  Cherry tomatoes can be pricey, so I don't make this often.  Orecchiette is a pasta that gets it's name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Italian orecchio means ear, and the suffix 'etto' means 'small'.  It's a dome shaped pasta that is starting to show up more and more in regular grocery stores.  If you can't find any, use small shells instead.  

Hope you enjoy my fave pasta dish!  Happy cooking!

Tuesday: Northern Italian Trattoria Burger

Pin It Now! Wanna impress some dinner guests?  Make these burgers.  They'll think you went out and bought $25 gourmet burgers.  They are that good.  Everything about these burgers just rock...from the crispy cheese on top to the crispy prosciutto on the bottom and the creamy herb butter (that would go good on almost anything).  Most important, don't skip out on the hot makes the dish.  (you can find it at your butcher counter)  
If you don't like spicy food, just cut back on the amount, however, when it's cooked into the burger, it's no where near as spicy as it is by itself.  

It may seem like a lot of work, but it's really not.  Just a long list of ingredients.  I couldn't find smoked prosciutto, so I'm just using regular.  (but I'm going to find it somewhere!)
For a side dish, I'm going to make a lovely risotto.  Click here for the recipe:  Spring Green Risotto

Gourmet, melt in your mouth, ooh and ahh deliciousness....

Spring Green Risotto

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I'm making this as a great side to the Trattoria burgers.  A lot of people get a little skiddish when they think about making risotto.  It's really not as hard as is seems, just time consuming, and a good tip is to have everything prepped before you get started. 
I've also been dying to try marscapone and wasn't sure how to cook with it, until now.  You can find it at most supermarkets, and I know for sure that Trader Joe's has it in stock.  And of course, the marscapone does add to the fat content, but hey, gotta indulge once in awhile.  ;)  

This rice was rich and creamy, but not overly so.  It is very time consuming to make; however, it's easy.  So, you just have to make sure you can park yourself by your stove and you can make a killer risotto very easily.  

Wedesday: Surprise Dinner

Pin It Now! Today is my birthday.  I'm not cooking.  :)  Lucky me, my mom is in town and between her and my husband, I'm going to get to sit back and watch them cook.  Plus, my mom is making the traditional birthday cream cake.  Post for that will follow.  :)

But, of course, not to leave you empty handed.  I urge you to try this dish: Eggplant Parm
Give eggplant a try, it's really quite lovely!  

Thursday: Lasagna Soup

Pin It Now! Okay, so it's not exactly lasagna soup, but it does taste like lasagna!  Found this recipe by Paula Dean...before even looking at the ingredients I assumed it was going to be loaded with fat.  I mean, it's Paula!  But, I was pleasantly surprised..not a lick of butter!
My mom is in town and we loved the idea of making this, but I didn't have any oven proof bowls.  So, we headed out to Home Goods and found some for a decent price.  (yes, I know, who goes out to buy bowls just to cook a recipe?  Me.)  

It's a very simple dish to make and doesn't take much time.  Another great Italian meal for this week's menu.  I'm in heaven!  Thanks Paula!

Friday: Pesto Pasta

Pin It Now! My week of Italian cooking has come to an end.  :(  But, I'm already looking forward to next week:  burger week baby!  The hubby is all fired up about that one!  So, on to the final dish on the menu.

A couple months ago, I made this delicious dish.  I really enjoyed the taste and was surprised to find that I actually do like pesto.  Not to mention, this recipe for pesto is a fantastic twist to traditional basil based pesto sauces.  With all of the heavy meals on this week's menu, I thought this would be a great way end the week.  Light and lovely.  
A nice fresh salad would go great with this...topped with some parm cheese.

Felice per la cottura! (Happy Cooking!) Pesto Pasta

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hawaiian Pineapple Honey Slaw

Pin It Now! Yesterday I was trying to think of a fun side dish to make with the Baked Teryiaki Chicken.  As I looked around my kitchen, I spotted a head of red cabbage that needed to be used up pretty quick.  So, I started surfing the net looking for something that would taste good.  Through an app in my Ipad, (BigOven), I found this recipe.  And I'm so glad I did!  The hubby and I aren't big fans of mayo slaw; therefore, I was happy to see that this came with a lovely light dressing.  Because of the pineapple juice and honey, I expected a sweet dish...but it wasn't.  I think the recipe makes a bit too much dressing; however, and I didn't use up all of mine on the slaw.  Next time I'll scale it back a bit.  
I also used 3/4 of a  green cabbage and 3/4 of the red.  
Using the grilled pineapple rings as the "plate," you get a great mix of flavors. The sweetness of the pineapple and the texture went so well with the coleslaw.  Even my kids liked it.  The hubby and I spiked ours with some Siracha for a great kick.      

A perfect summer dinner...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Monday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Pin It Now! Okay, my freezer is going to this week is officially "Clean Out Freezer Week."  Starting off the week with an easy recipe that I really love.  Baked Teriyaki Chicken.  The flavors of this sauce are outstanding.  Keep yourself sane for clean up and make sure to line the baking dish with foil.  

Great sides would be rice (fried or sticky rice), Asian veggies, grilled pineapple or an Asian/Chinese salad with mandarin oranges and those little fried noodles. 

Tuesday: Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

Pin It Now! We have an extremely busy day today, so the idea of throwing everything into a crock pot was very appealing. 
(girls morning dr. appointment, then they both have gymnastics in the morning, lunch, then swim lessons, then nap, then dress rehearsal for dance class...whew!)

Continuing with "Clean Out Freezer Week," I'm using up some beef chuck I have.  And a bonus I still have some barley leftover from another recipe.  Perfect.  
I read through the reviews of this recipe and I will be making a few adjustments to the original recipe.

First, I'm going to cut up the meat into cubes and brown before adding to the crock pot.
Second, I'm using beef broth instead of water and bouillon cubes.
Third, I'm adding all the ingredients EXCEPT the barley and bay leaf.  (that goes in for the last hour)
Adding half a cup of red wine and 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce.
Cook on low for 10 hours then add the barley and bay leaf.  Can't wait for dinner tonight!

Deep rich flavors...and chock full of veggies.  Delicious!

Wednesday: Thin Cut Pork Chops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce over Wild Rice

Pin It Now! Last week I had a recipe for Maple Glazed Pork Chops.  Went to the store and picked up the chops.  Didn't really give them a good look.  Opened up the package to get dinner started and saw that they were cut really thin...too thin for what the recipe called for.  Giving into my perfectionist self...I packed up the girls in the car and ran to the store to get some thick chops. 

Of course, that meant I had 2lbs of pork left over.  Sigh.  Started surfing to find out a good way to prepare these thin little things.  Ran into a response to a question on and decided it sounded too good to pass up.  I even emailed the poster to get clarifications on a few things.  Looking forward to getting these out of my freezer...and lesson learned...check my chops before leaving the butcher block.

Thursday: Turkey (beef) Lasagna

Pin It Now! Just located 2lbs of ground beef sitting in the freezer...ran through some of my previous recipes and stopped when I hit Turkey Lasagna.  Okay, yes, the title says turkey...well, I have beef, just going to make a swap.  

The whole family loved these the last time I made them (with the help of one of my daughters).  It's an extremely light lasagna (if there is such a thing).  Not overloaded with cheese...which may be a downside for some of you, but it's a plus when considering the hubby's cholesterol!  :)  The no-bake noodles are a god-send too.  

Get your kids involved in this one and enjoy a great family meal!  

so, so yummy......

Friday: Spaghetti Squash Boats with Homemade Marinara Sauce

Pin It Now! Well, we've made it to the end of the week...and my freezer is no longer bursting at the seams.  By, now; however, I'm out of frozen meat to cook.  What a perfect night for a vegetarian meal.  I saw this on an episode of Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives.  I quickly hit record and then played it back to get all the steps and ingredients. I've cooked with spaghetti squash before and loved girls too.  This takes a bit of time (cutting veggies, simmering sauce), but they outcome will be worth it, plus you get a dish chock full of veggies.  :)  
You could also prepare the sauce ahead of time and have it ready to go when you put together the filling. 
It's an amazingly delicious dish, full of flavor and healthy veggies.  Can't wait to make this again!

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Strawberry Milkshake" Cupcakes

Pin It Now! My fab cupcake making friend whipped these up the other day.  Sigh...if only you could eat a picture....
Simple and easy for the everyday chef to make, yet they look like you paid $5 per cupcake.  She is brilliant at what she does and I'm so thankful she shares these recipes with if I could just get her to mail samples to me...hmmmmm.....

Yeah, You know you want one...or two...or three....

Check out more of her amazing recipes at:

Click "read more" for the recipe

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Monday: Beef Yakitori

Pin It Now! I love when you manage to score a good deal on something and it turns out just has wonderful as you hoped.  I received a ad in the mail to get a Food & Wine cookbook (plus a bonus cookbook) for the cost of shipping.  So, I figured, why not...I mean, I'm a book fanatic and another cookbook will look great on my shelf.  Funny thing is...I've been reading through it non-stop.  There are some really great recipes in it.  Now, can you find the same recipes online?  Sure.  But I just love curling up on the couch with a book in my hands.    So, this week's menu are all recipes from Food & Wine.  Should be a fab week of food!  :)

I made Chicken Yakitori a couple weeks ago and there weren't any leftovers.  So, why not try the beef version!  My girls tend to turn up their noses at mushrooms, but I still put them on their plates.  (they have to try at least one)  Maybe they'll like them one day...maybe not.  But, that doesn't keep me from making dishes with mushrooms!  :D  And I mean, who doesn't love meat on a stick!?  ;)  Going to serve this with some Udon noodles and stir fry veggies.

Tuesday: Smokey Ribollita Soup

Pin It Now! Soup?  Again?  hell yeah.  I truly find that my girls will eat just about anything if it's in some sort of broth.  Never made this soup before...never heard of it either.  But, I just love the taste of fire roasted tomatoes.  (and I love that I can buy them in the can and not have to worry about making them myself)  I make another recipe ( Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara)  that uses the fire roasted tomatoes and I just love that smokey taste.  
I'm sure for you die hard carnivores out there, tossing in some pancetta or even Italian sausage would taste great with this too.  ;)  

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Tacos & Pan-Roasted Corn & Okra

Pin It Now! Taco night baby!  I don't know what it is about corn tortillas...but the smell, the texture, the tastes...oh it's just a little bit of heaven to me!  The hubby prefers flour...but since I'm doing the cooking...I'm vetoing him.  This is a very simple dish with great flavor.  
Corn is still wicked cheap right now, so I'm going to do this simple side to go along with the tacos.  I'm going to cut the okra up smaller than the recipe suggests...thinking the girls will eat more of it that way...who knows.  And, I may just whip up some guac and serve some chips with it.

Thursday: Maple Glazed Pork Chops and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Pin It Now! One of the grocery stores has pork chops wicked cheap this week.  Thought I'd give this recipe a try.  I think the girls will love the sweet taste of the maple glaze.  However, I have to omit the pecans because the hubby can't stand them.  (well, maybe I'll just sprinkle it on everyone's but his)  
I wanted a good side to go with this and since the hubby and I both love Brussels sprouts, I thought this would pair well.  Most people just flat out hate these little veggie gems, but I find that if you cook them the right way, the flavors are amazing.  Do my girls love these...not really, but they'll have to eat at least one.  I'll probably make sure to have an additional veggie side for them just in case.  (see, I don't cook a different meal, I just make sure they have options)

Friday: Spaghetti with Fresh Soppressata

Pin It Now! I swear I should have been born Italian.  I just LOVE pasta dishes.  Word of warning...this dish needs to be prepared a day ahead.  You need to marinate the sausages overnight.  
It only makes 6 servings, and I'm worried there won't be any leftovers... :/  This is another one of those dishes where I'll spend the extra money and get the San Marzano tomatoes.  (no, they aren't paying me to advertise for them...I just really love the taste of these compared to the other canned's a HUGE difference)
Buona cucina!  (happy cooking!)

*Note:  I googled Ssppressata and found that it is supposed to be Italian cured dry salami.  So, not sure why Food & Wine called this "Fresh Soppressata"...none the was AMAZING!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Noddles Hogging all the Broth??

Pin It Now! Have you ever made a wonderful soup with lots of flavorful broth...then add the noodles and watch all your broth get slowly soaked away??  I have done that TONS of time...and I wonder...what happened to my soup??  Where's all the lovely broth?  I wasn't making a stew here!  
You can imagine, then, how happy I was when I found this little tidbit.  I was surfing around for soup recipes, found one I liked and then proceeded to read the reviews.  One review mentioned this:

"When making a pasta for soups, you under cook it by about a minute, then strain and rinse it, and afterwards put it into a big bowl of ice water (mainly a bowl of ice with water to cover. Once it has completely cooled and is very cold, you can add it to the soup, after the soup comes down from a boil. Removing the extra starches and chilling it to  stop the cooking will make a huge difference in the texture of the pasta.  This will also prevent the pasta from absorbing a lot of the liquid in the soup and you won't need as much broth."

And what do you worked!!!  My soups have been turning out amazing!  I think every recipe involving soups and noodles should mention this in a note section.  I know that I'm going to add it to all my soup recipes.  (one of the worst this happened to was my Pasta turned into a pasta dish with no broth at all)  So, keep this little tip in mind when preparing your soups and you'll have great soup with all the broth that's supposed to be there.  Happy Cooking!  :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday: Sweet Corn Cheeseburgers & Potato Dominoes

Pin It Now! To me, summer has always meant lovely ears of sweet corn.  I miss it all year round and I can't wait till the stores are basically handing them out!  Found this recipe in a parenting magazine and it just sounded perfect for a beautiful summer night meal.  I wanted a fun side dish (something different from the normal sweet potato fries) and thought I'd give these little potato dominoes a try.  Simple and extremely budget friendly.  I know I should have some kind of green veggie, but I'm just going to count the avocado as my green.  ;)  Happy cooking!  

Tuesday: Slow Cooked Soup...Minestrone Style

Pin It Now! It's going to be one of those days when you know you just won't feel like cooking when you get home (from work, errands, whatever..).  So pull out the slow cooker and let dinner cook itself!  This delicious soup is packed with veggies and flavor.  You can save even more time by buying pre-chopped veggies.  Then all that's left for you to do when you get home is cook the noodles (unless you did the night before) and throw them into the pot with the zucchini and spinach!  Soup's on!    

Wednesday: Seaworld!!! (Wasabi and Panko-Crusted Pork)

Pin It Now! Okay, no, that's not a meal.  I promised I would never leave you without a dish for each night if I could help it.  However; we are taking advantage of our Seaworld passes and spending the day there.  But, I won't leave you totally empty handed.  Here is one of my fave recipes...made it before and will make it again (and again).  I'm amazed every time at the flavors of this dish.  And keep in mind, it's not all.  Don't be afraid of the wasabi!  It's a great budget dish if you can find pork on sale.

So happy cooking to you and I'll be thinking of you as we watch Shamu soar through the air...(okay, I really hope I'm not thinking of my blog.  LOL)

Wasabi and Panko-Crusted Pork with Gingered Soy Sauce 

Thursday: Cantaloupe, Prosciutto and Arugula Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Pin It Now! Cantaloupe, along with all the other melons are crazy cheap right now.  Tis' the season and all that.  Well, I for one am always trying to pick out a great melon only to get it home and have it taste horrible.  Did some research and found this great video on picking out cantaloupe.  This time I'm at the store I'm going to score!

The recipe for this salad sounds lovely.  If you've never tried cantaloupe and procuitto, you're missing out.  We first had it during a trip to Italy.  I kinda balked at the melon with what looked like uncooked bacon wrapped around it...but oh my, my mouth said "More Please!!"  Great blend of salty and sweet.

I'm going to make this as a side dish to some delicious Chicken Picatta
Here's the link to that recipe:    Chicken Picatta

View the whole recipe and find a video on how to pick out the pefect cantaloupe.  Just click: Read More

Chicken Picatta

Pin It Now! Making this dish to go along with a fabulous cantaloupe and procuitto salad.  I've always loved the lemony taste of chicken picatta.  I'm going to mix Giada's version with a Cooking Light version, but you can watch Giada prepare part of the meal below.    

Friday: Pizza Muffins- "Breakfast" for dinner

Pin It Now! I've mentioned before how much I like using muffin tins to make a fun meal.  These sounded just too good not to try.  I says pizza, how bad can they be?  Quick and easy to make and the bonus is that they are full of veggies.  (shhh...don't tell your kids!)  ;)  A nice salad would be fun to have with these.  Or for a more breakfast feel, some sausage links or even a fried egg.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cook the Perfect Pork with the New Temp Change!!

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Breaking News!!!

For juicy, tender and flavorful pork, it might be time to toss out Grandma’s advice. According to the new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, pork chops, roasts and tenderloins can be safely cooked to medium rare at a final internal cooked temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a food thermometer, followed by a three-minute rest time.

cuban pork tenderloin

The new cooking temperature will produce pork that’s succulent and tender—not an over-cooked hockey puck – and will likely yield a finished product that is pinker in color than most of you are accustomed to.  

Restaurants have been following this standard for nearly 10 years. The new temperature recommendation reflects advances in both food safety and nutritional content for today’s pork, which is much leaner than Grandma’s, and even Mom’s, pork. On average, the most common cuts of pork have 27 percent less saturated fat than the same cuts 20 years ago. 

Both the USDA and the National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Pre-cooked ham can be reheated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or enjoyed cold on sandwiches.

In addition to the new lower cooking temperature recommendation for pork, the USDA food preparation guidelines advise the following:

• Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often
• Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate
• Cook: To proper cooking temperatures
• Chill: Refrigerate promptly
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