Friday, July 29, 2011

Fresh Summer Veggies - Sauteed

Pin It Now! The garden gods have blessed us this year.  Well, at least in the zucchini department.  My ONE zucchini plant is about 3 feet in diameter.  And the veggies just kept on comin'!  I already made zucchini bread and since I still have over half a dozen left, I had to do something else.  I surfed around and found a really nice base for a saute from Simply Recipes.  Then I added a bunch of other veggies along with the zucchini.  
Now, I'm going to list fresh veggies for just about everything, but to be honest I just used frozen veggies I had sitting around in the freezer.  Though, I am going to make this again with fresh (at least corn) because I think the taste will be amazing.
Quick, simple dish with tons of flavor.  For my girls, I served it over white sticky rice.  You could also toss in some chicken and take it from side dish to main dish!  Happy cooking!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oma's Egg Rolls

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My mother-in-law is in town and the first thing my husband had to say was..."will you make me egg rolls??"  20 plus years ago she took an oriental cooking class and made the rolls for the family.  She received rave reviews.  Shortly after, my husband decided that he wanted those egg rolls every year on his birthday and it became a tradition.  (however, his two other brothers were never so lucky...Matt's the baby of the family) 

As I'm typing this post...the meat for the rolls is cooking in the background.  My goodness, my house smells amazing!!!  The process is a bit time consuming (chopping up all the veggies and what not), but so worth it.  Another part to note is that the meat freezes well, so you can make the amount listed and if you find you have extra meat...pop it in the freezer till next time!  :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lazy Leftover Monday

Pin It Now! Okay, I swore I would never post that we were eating leftovers for dinner.  (and we hardly ever do) But, with my in-laws in town over the weekend and the mass cooking we did, I just couldn't reason spending money to make another dinner for tonight...not with a fridge chock full of delicious food.  
So, we're going to raid the fridge tonight and indulge on all the goodies we made over the weekend. 
However, I'm not going to leave you empty handed, just in case you need a last minute idea for dinner tonight.  This is still one of my fave quick and easy dishes to make.  I don't care for boxed beef and mac, and I was leery about this the first time I made it.  However, the flavors just meld so well together for a whole different taste to beef and mac.  Super easy to make and can be ready in no time!  

Tex-Mex Beef and Mac

Tuesday: Chicken and Egg Soup with Pastina

Pin It Now! I'm starting to feel the pressure of the move and upcoming craziness.  I want to make my hubby dishes that I know he won't make for himself while we are apart.  However, I also just want to make some nice, simple dishes too.  So, this is one of the later.  Simple, easy, delicious.  It's very similar to an Asian egg drop soup, but obviously with more sustenance.
Tuesday's are such busy days for me with 2 hours spent at gymnastics for the girls (boy, I'm sure going to miss taking them to gymnastics in Saudi) and then swim lessons right after.  Quick and easy is definitely what is on the menu for tonight.  Don't skip out on any of the ingredients, especially the dill...really gives a fab flavor!  Happy (quick) cooking!  :) 

Wednesday: Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Pin It Now! When I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner this week, my darling carnivore of course said "steak."  Luckily there were some nice top sirloins on sale at the grocery store.  One of his all time fave ways to eat steak is with a chimichurri sauce on top.  Chimichurri sauce is a salsa-like condiment which originated in Argentina and is used on beef. There are many different variations of this sauce, but he wanted to stick to the original (or as close as I could get)  He specified that it HAD to have cilantro in it.  I googled around and found this recipe and he gave the thumbs up.
For the steak, you just want to keep things simple and let the sauce take center stage.  You can use any kind of meat with this, so just go with what you have or what's on sale.  Happy cooking!  :)   

Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (aka Pigs In the Blanket)

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A few weeks ago, I made a stuffed cabbage recipe.  It was really good, but I kept grandma's is SO much better!  LOL  (of course the other recipe was way different than grandma's)  My hubby loves cabbage, so I figured why not give grandma's recipe a go!
My mom called her up on the phone to get the recipe to relay it to me.  (yes, I could have called too, but my mom wanted to chat with her anyway)  :)  Here's the thing, this is one of those good ol' family recipes that was never really written down.  It was just taught.  My grandmother is 87 years old and still lives in her own house.  She has so many wonderful recipes that we are trying to get written down so we can keep cooking them for years to come!
We did our best to come up with an ingredient list and good directions for you.  This is not a hard dish to make by any means, but it is time consuming.  It could seem daunting as you read through the directions, but keep in mind, we're adding extra info to help you make the dish easier.
Can't wait for my house to be filled with the smell of memories in my grandma's kitchen.  So lucky to still have her around to share her recipes with us!

Friday: Italian Beef Stew

Pin It Now! Okay, so while my in-laws were in town, my hubby fired up the smoker.  He was rummaging through the freezer to see if there was anything else he could toss on the grill.  We found that I still have an obscene amount of chuck roast left in there!  With the move getting closer and closer, I know I need to start using up what we've got on hand.
Surfing around some apps on my iPad, I found this recipe from Cooking Light.  I have most of the ingredients already, so it was a perfect choice to cook.  I left if for Friday so we would have leftovers for lunch over the weekend.  I know it's not exactly a summer weather dish, but I love it just the same!  :)
Simply wonderful.

Update on My Life

Pin It Now! Hello cooking friends!  Well, my life is about to get REALLY interesting!  A few days ago we officially announced our move to Saudi Arabia.  To my pleasant surprise, we've had an amazing amount of support from our friends.  This was not an easy decision, but my hubby and I truly get one life...make the most of it.  We spent an obscene amount of time researching, getting on expat forums, emailing people already living there...and now, we feel as though we have friends eagerly awaiting our arrival. 
My husband was offered a job and it was just too good to pass up.  We'll be there for 2 years and do a lot of traveling too!  
Around the beginning of September, I'll be moving to Florence, Italy for two months while I wait for my husband to get paperwork ready for us to join him in Saudi.  Then back to the states to get the family visa processed.  You can be sure I'll be posting some fun dishes from both countries!  
Safe to say, my blog will vary depending on where I'm living at the time.  I may not be able to keep up a weekly menu, but I promise to post recipes!  :)  
You can also follow along with our adventures at the new blog I started and get more info about Saudi and what life is like there.  :)

Looking forward to sharing our magic carpet ride with all of you!  Hang's going to be a wild ride!  :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Pin It Now! We were so excited to plant a garden this year.  My husband and his friend got the ground all ready with great soil and then we headed to the nursery to pick out veggies to grow.  Top on my list were tomatoes and I've gotten a few so far...think we planted them a little late.  We also planted cucumber, zucchini, artichoke and my hubby has half a dozen hot pepper plants.  LOL  We got a few cucumber and we have three little artichokes growing right now.  The zucchini; however, has taken over!!!!  I've already picked close to a dozen and there are at least half a dozen more with flowers still blossoming!  I never knew that little plant would get so big.  
So, with zucchini coming at me from all sides, I needed to do something with them!  I have never made zucchini bread (I've never made any bread for that matter).  But, I thought, why not give it a try.  (knowing my luck with baking I'll screw it up somehow)  Took me an hour to find my loaf pans.  LOL  
This is a Paula Dean recipe, so I have to believe its going to be good.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!  :)

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

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I saw this post on Facebook from the blog A Spicy Perspective. I can't wait to make this!  The girls and I LOVE strawberries and they are pretty cheap right now.  Sad to say, with my love/hate relationship with baking...I don't own a bundt pan.  Hoping I can borrow one from a friend...and then of course give her a huge, lovely slice of cake.  Looking forward to making this...

Moist yumminess...wonderful light

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cucumber Slaw with Thai Dressing

Pin It Now! Yesterday I was trying to think of a nice side to go with Thai Peanut-Sauced Chicken Pitas.  I polled my friends on Facebook and got some great ideas.  Some said a cold salad, come said an Asian slaw.  I have some cucumbers from my garden so I thought, why not make a nice cucumber slaw?  I wanted to keep with the Thai theme so I googled a dressing that might go nice.  This all came together really well.  The dressing was light with a little vinegar zing and all the veggies were crisp and crunchy.  Best of all, got thumbs up from the whole family.  :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Monday: Thai Peanut-Sauce Chicken Pitas

Pin It Now! Okay, I admit it...I'm on a peanut butter kick.  Three recipes in three weeks.  Ah well, you eat what you love, right?  This just sounded too good to pass up.  Simple, super quick, tasty.  Check Check Check.
New recipe for Cooking Light, so no reviews on this one either.  (I must be getting more adventurous if I'm cooking food no one else has commented on!)  I'm also going to make my own peanut sauce from this recipe: Thai Peanut Butter Noodles with Chicken
I've never bought the bottled stuff before and not sure how spicy it is.  By making my own, I can control (ah, hello inner control freak) my own spice.

*note, this recipe is for two pitas, so double or triple accordingly

I haven't decided what to make for a side with this....any suggestions?  

Tuesday: Vegetarian Rice Noodle Salad

Pin It Now! Much to my hubby's dismay, I wanted to make a vegetarian dish tonight.  (trying to branch out more and all that)  I saw this recipe in my new Cooking Light magazine.  My daughters LOVE noodles and I figure if they can eat the tofu in miso soup, we can make this work. 

I've never cooked with tempeh before, though I know I like it.  It's one of those things that any normal meat eater would balk at.  Although tempeh is made from soy, it has a unique taste and is mildly flavorful on it's own, unlike tofu.  If you aren't fond of tofu, tempeh is also very high in protein and calcium, as well as beneficial isoflavones, but tastes nothing like tofu.  Tempeh has a textured and nutty flavor.  I just tell my girls they are eating chicken and with all the noodles mixed in, I'm sure this'll be a hit.  

Since it's a brand new dish for Cooking Light, there aren't any reviews about the recipe yet.  Perhaps I'll be the first!  :)    

Wednesday: Giada's Pasta e Fagioli

Pin It Now! I'm slightly addicted to the Food Network.  Love watching the variety of shows...even if I catch a bunch of repeats.  I'm not a big fan of Giada's actual show, but I love her cooking.  
My in-laws arrive today.  Now for some people, they might groan and moan about that prospect.  Me?  I'm a lucky one.  I love my in-laws.  My father-in-law is a retired Colonel in the Air Force.  My husband had me terrified to meet him the first time...then, a few glasses of wine later...we hit it off big time.  I think he finds me amusing.  My mother-in-law is a Mary Kay rep...and to her dismay, I didn't join the ranks.  (not my thing)  But she's great at what she does (earned a free car!).  She's a lot of fun and the girls have a blast with her.  So, yeah, we're totally stoked they're here to visit.  :)
My father-in-law loves Italian food.  (I knew I loved that guy!)  Since I am making a nice big Tuscan spaghetti on Friday, I thought I would keep with the flavors but make a nice soup.  I've already made two different versions of pasta e fagioli, but never one that doesn't even feature tomatoes!  However, the reviewers raved about it.  And it's Giada, the woman knows true Italian food!  This will be a wonderful dinner to sit down and visit with each other. 

Okay, so this doesn't look totally appealing, but let me tell you, this is SO good...the flavors are amazing.  Great soup, doubled the recipe and there still weren't any leftovers.

Thursday: Rotisserie Chicken Tostada's

Pin It Now! With the in-laws in town, I want to do some impressive cooking.  I catered to my father-in-law last night with a lovely Italian soup.  Tonight, my mother-in-law gets the attention.  She loves Mexican food.  Me?  I'm not really the biggest fan of traditional Mexican food.  However, I like when I can find a happy medium.
We made these a couple of weeks ago, some weekend where we were just kickin' it at the house.  At the time I just wanted something super quick and easy.  We just loved the feta in this.  All the flavors blended really well together and it was a light tasting dish.  Make a side of quac and chips and you've got a great, healthy meal.     

Friday: Traditional Tuscan Pasta Bolognese

Pin It Now! Okay, I've made this dish twice now.  Both times no one could stop eating it.  Didn't matter if you were full, you went back for more.  Honest.  I'm just warning you now...this is a food coma dish.  And I can't wait to indulge again tonight!  
Catering to my father-in-law again (and loving that I can make pasta even if the hubby doesn't want it...his daddy carries the trump card!)  :) 

Now, I'll mention again, the directions for this look wicked long and hard.  They aren't, it's actually an extremely easy dish to make.  This dish is one of those put in the time and love and you are rewarded with an amazing dinner.  
Another note, don't skimp on anything.  Especially the salt.  I know it seems like a lot...but it's just perfect.  If anything, make this your "bad" dish of the week and eat low-sodium the rest.  ;)  And make sure you really brown the veggies and the meat.  Makes a huge difference.

Buona cucina!  (happy cooking!)

Traditional Tuscan Pasta Bolognese

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday: Thai Peanut Butter Noddles with Chicken

Pin It Now! It's been a crazy weekend!  Had some family in town and we hit up the beach on Saturday and spent all day yesterday at Knott's Berry Farm.  Everyone had such a great time, especially my husband!  My grown man acting like a little kid.  There wasn't a ride he didn't want to go on.  Nice to see him so carefree and happy (the man works hard).  So, seeing how I didn't get to sit around and plan a menu over the weekend, I quickly threw something together while the girls ate breakfast this morning and we headed out to the store.  I rummaged through my freezer to get ideas and this week is sort of a hodgepodge of recipes.
That being said, I can't wait for dinner tonight.  This is one of my top five fave dishes to make.  Love it.  To the point that I actually just eat the sauce by itself.  Trader Joe's used to sell rice noodles, but, to my heartbreak, they stopped.  I've found them at specialty stores and some grocery stores may carry them.  If you can't find any, you can easily sub fettuccine noddles.  Don't skip the sirracha, it makes the sauce.  If you aren't a huge spicey person, just add a little at a at least want a little of the flavor in there.  ;)

Peanut Butter Noodles with Chicken 

Tuesday: Beef Yakitori

Pin It Now! As I rummaged through the fridge, I found some steaks just begging to be cooked.  Doing some up Yakitori style and the rest I'll just grill on Thursday.  This is such a simple dish and it's fun to let your kids help you with it. Plus, I don't know too many kiddos that would pass up eating food off a stick!  :)
Metal skewers work better here with the steak, but if you don't have any, just make sure to soak your wooden ones in water for 15-20 minutes before adding the meat and veggies.  This way they won't catch fire.  

If you are trying to cut back on the red meat, give the  Chicken Yakitori a try.  Similar ingredients and a great dish!  Happy cooking!

Beef Yakitori

Wednesday: Southwest Chicken Soup

Pin It Now! I'm the kind of person who always reads reviews...on anything.  Computers, camera's, kid stuff, and especially recipes.  Not just to find out if other people liked it, but I also love to see what they did to change things up.  I find a lot of people "like" a recipe, but they've totally strayed from the original.  Not that it's a bad thing to do...I mean get creative and all, but I always wonder if the original was better or is their creation the way to go?  I tend to follow the original, at least the first time around.  I'm able to see what the initial recipe tastes like and then I can decide what to change up from there.  

I spotted this soup, saw it got good reviews and proceeded to read through them.  So, this time, I'm going to stray from my inner control freak and tweak the original recipe by using some of the suggestions from other cooks.  I think it's going to make for a fantastic soup.  Going to crisp some flour tortillas for dipping too.  Happy cooking! 

smokey goodness...mmmmm

Thursday: Lemon-Lime Soda Marinated Sirloin Kabobs

Pin It Now! I had steak in the freezer, its summer, the grill is just calling me.  Googled for some sirloin recipes and found this one.  I know, steak on a stick twice in one week.  Hey, if it ain't broke...and all that.  
*Note:  this is an overnight plan ahead
The next best part is the grilled veggies...and pineapple.  There is something lovely about grilled pineapple...sweet and smokey at the same time.  
Another little much as I LOVE the look of the meat and veggies threaded together, I like to put them on separate skewers.  This way, I don't have to worry about veggies cooking faster than meat (or vice versa)  If you are planning this for a party and want to wow with the look, you could always re-skewer after the food is cooked.  We just tend to pile everything on a platter and eat it family style.  :)  

Friday: "Spaghetti" with Bolognese sauce

Pin It Now! Gazing into my freezer I noticed a bag of homemade marinara sauce and a pound of ground beef.  Perfect...pasta night!  Then I thought, maybe I can get more creative.  Instead of regular ol' noodles, I'll cook up some spaghetti squash instead.  Adding a power punch of veggie goodness.
If you've been following my blog, you'll see that I've cooked spaghetti squash quite a few times and I've never been disappointed.  (and my girls have never turned it down, though, they think it's just some kind of special noodle)  ;)  
This is a total "fly by the seat of my pants" recipe.  And totally off track from my usual "follow the recipe" method.  So, if you make this, I'd love to hear your thoughts and any tweaks you may have tried.  Happy cooking!  :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bite-Sized Banana Splits

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 We're not a family who eats a lot of sweets.  Don't get me wrong...I LOVE chocolate, especially the dark kind, but we don't keep it in the house.  (if I can help it)  Does this mean I torture my children with no fun foods?  Nah, we just do it in moderation.  Sometimes a "special treat" after dinner will be applesauce, other times it's strawberries and whip cream.  And there are those few times we get ice cream.  I just want my kids to realize that sugary foods aren't great for you and you should only indulge in them periodically.  (yes, I speak to them like that too...j/k)
That being said, I'm always looking for fun sweet treats that aren't over the top.  I'm not going to bake an entire cake, because seriously, who the hell is going to eat it?  We're trying to be healthy here people!  So, when I stumbled on this recipe, I thought...PERFECT!  They get the sweet ice cream and chocolate (plus healthy bananas) in fun, little kid portions.  I think these might have to be once a week treats.
Go grab your kids and make these for dessert tonight!  :)

Banana Split Mini Bites

photo from Bakers Royal...(mine to come!)  :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tuesday: Guberburgers (there's a secret ingredient!)

Pin It Now! It's Burger Week!  In the spirit of the summer season, let's get our burger on!  I found some great new burger recipes to try and I figured we'd have a burger marathon this week.
As I lovingly perused my Food Network magazine, I found this intriguing burger recipe.  The name itself caught my attention, but what really had me hooked was the secret ingredient...Peanut Butter!!  Now, if you've been keeping up with my blog, you know that I love adding peanut butter to different dishes...however; I never would have thought to put some on top my burger.
This recipe comes from the Wheel Inn Drive-In, located in Sedella, MO.  According to the article, the chef tells anyone that if they don't like the burger, she'll make them anything else on the menu...and she's never had to follow up on that.  Looking forward to my first Guberburger!  :)
For sides I'm dishing up some fresh corn on the cob and sweet potato fries.

Wednesday: Greek Turkey Burgers with "Z" sauce

Pin It Now! I love a killer ground beef burger any day, but there was no way I could eat 4 days worth of beef burgers (and not add to my husband's cholesterol!)  So, bustin' out the ground turkey.  Even though I haven't been too happy with previous Rachel Ray recipes, I'm going to give her another try (actually two this week)
My husband has been begging me to make "Z" sauce for weeks.  Traditionally known as Tzatziki sauce, it's a Greek yogurt sauce that tastes killer on grilled meats.  I didn't care for Rachel's version, so I found a different one to whip up.  
This is a great tasting, healthy burger with tons of flavor.  I'm also making Greek Zucchini for a side (which will taste awesome dipped in the Z sauce.)

I added extra spinach...these were so good!  Don't skip on the cucumber slices...the crunch is great!  And the sauce is just perfect!  Got rave reviews from everyone....keeper!

Thursday: Sliders...White Castle Style

Pin It Now! Okay, so I think most of us have heard of the infamous White Castle Burgers.  (and many of you have seen Harold and Kumar's adventure there)  Well, Food Network published their sacred (okay maybe not sacred) recipe in their current magazine.  My girls love "baby burgers", so these went on the menu for the week.  

Such a simple dish to make and it's a fun family meal.  I'm going to throw some cheese on the girls burgers (shhh, don't tell White Castle!) since I know damn well they won't eat those onions.  Okay, yes, I will put some on there, but I'm not getting my hopes up.  Keeping things simple with some baked beans and some veggie (haven't decided on that yet.)

This recipe makes 36 sliders, so if that's a bit much for your family, just halve the recipe. 
Looking forward to making some killer smashburgers!  Happy cooking!

Friday: Curry Turkey Burgers with Thai Slaw

Pin It Now! Giving Rachel Ray another shot with burgers this week.  My husband loves anything with curry, so these are a big hit.  I also like that the recipe calls for mild curry paste...that way my girls won't have a problem with the burgers.  Making the slaw to go on the side and perhaps some sweet fries (for the girls mostly)

For those of you not familiar with's a bit of info (courtesy of Wikipeida):

Red curry paste: Red curry paste includes red chili peppers (fresh or dried), shallots, garlic, galangal, lemon grass, coriander roots, peppercorns, salt, shrimp paste and kaffir lime leaf.

Green curry paste: The ingredients for green curry paste are similar to those for red curry paste, except green chilies are often used in place of red.

Yellow curry paste: Yellow curry paste is also similar to both red and green curry pastes, but it is made with turmeric, where it derives its yellow colour, and occasionally yellow chili peppers.

Massaman curry paste: Massaman curry is an Indian influenced curry, and unlike other Thai curries it contains many ground dry spices as ingredients, including cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.

Panaeng curry paste: Panaeng curry is generally more mild than the other types of Thai curry.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Make Your Watermelon a Meal

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Everyone loves a nice, fat, juicy wedge of watermelon.  But, sometimes it's fun to change things up a bit.  Instead of your watermelon being just a snack at your BBQ this year, why not give it a starring role on the menu.  This simple, delicious salad will impress your guests and wow their taste buds.  It's super easy to make and you can prepare it ahead of time.  Happy Cooking!  and Happy 4th!  

                                         Watermelon Salad Recipe
(photo from Cooking Light)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Birthday Cake Tradition

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The other day was my birthday.  Funny how, the older we get, the less special birthday's seem.  At least to me.  Perhaps it's the fact that my world revolves around my kids now...or the fact that I don't want to start looking at the numbers getting bigger.  
Figured this year's birthday would be pretty uneventful.  Nothing really planned.  Then my mom decided to come for a visit.  (yippee!)  There's just something special about having your mom around on your birthday.  (could be the fact of the matter that you wouldn't be having a birthday if it wasn't for her...)  :)  So, my uneventful birthday turned into a great little family event.  My hubby is going to come home early to cook for me and my mom is going make our traditional birthday cake.

Our family is fond of traditions.  And birthday's were one of them.  For my brother and I, on our birthday, we would wake up to see the house decorated with balloons and streamers.  But, the best part was the cake.  Mom always made this cake...ya know, tradition and all.  And to this day, if mom is around for my birthday, that's all I want her to make.  It's simple and delicious.  Over the year's, she's changed the recipe to make it a bit healthier too.  But, if you want to go full fat, have at it!  :)      

So, Happy Birthday to me!  And thanks mom!  (now it's time to chow down on this cake!)

This may not be the most gorgeous looking cake...but it's even more special knowing my daughters help to make it for me.  (oh, yeah, and the Skittles were their idea...not normally part of the hindsight, M&M's would have tasted better.) 

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