Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Loving Leftovers

If you're like us, who just cut up vegetables and more vegetables with no regard for the exact amount the recipe calls for, you too, might end up with lots of leftover roasted vegetables when all the quesadillas have been made and eaten. This is not a bad thing!

Think of all the things you could do with those savory vegetables, besides the obvious choice - Roasted Veggie Quesadillas tomorrow night! But, if you're looking for something different.....

Roasted Veggies in your morning omelet!

You wake up in the morning and you want a quick and healthy breakfast - what DO You DO? You break a few eggs into a bowl, pour a little milk in for fun, sprinkle in a touch of salt, maybe some pepper - don't go spastic - remember, the veggies are already all spiced up. Pour the eggs in the heated skillet and spoon in some roasted vegetables. When it's almost done, choose a cheese, like Parm or Romano and dust the omelet with it. Voila! Loving leftovers at breakfast!

But what if you only eat oatmeal for breakfast? Well, then save the veggers for dinner. Remember the Portabellas you picked up the other day because you were planning on making the Italian Stuffed Portabellas from the March 19th post? Well, instead of using only the red peppers like the recipe "suggests", go crazy and kick up your veggie intake for the day by dropping a spoonful or two in with those peppers - they won't mind. They probably hate being the only vegetable swimming in the cheese anyway.

See! Loving leftovers for dinner too!

Tomorrow.... Gourmet Minty Mushroom Ice Cream!!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Filets

With the wonderful spring warm-up we've been having around here lately, it's impossible to not want to fire up the grill! Oh, but what to make? As Sheri has already talked about, Barry and I are lucky enough to have a couple of different options as to where we get our beef. And since we usually buy half a cow at a time, we almost always have a freezer full of it. So when we started feeling the pull of the grill, I began looking through my freezer to see what we still needed to use up from last year's beef. Lo and behold, there were 2 packages of filet mignon! How on earth those got missed, I'll never know!! I pulled them out and decided there was no time like the present to get those babies eaten.

Now I'd never grilled filets before, so I did a little internet research before beginning. It seemed that there was one ingredient that you can't do without...BUTTER. No problem there! We love the stuff! So I started there and added some things I think always enhance the flavor of beef...mainly garlic, onion, and bacon.

Sheri and I strapped on those aprons of ours and got to work, preparing side dishes and dessert, while Barry went out to start the grill. Before long, he was back...we were out of gas! Rather than wait for him to run into town to get more, we decided to use the broiler instead...well, because we were hungry - and impatient! But let me tell you, grilled or broiled, these filets were T.A.S.T.Y!!! Try them out - they were super easy!

Bacon-Wrapped Filets

4 filets mignon or beef tenderloin
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. dried onion flakes

2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 strips bacon

First, wrap a piece of bacon around the outer edge of each filet. Secure with cooking twine or a toothpick. Now, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add in the parsley, onion flakes, and garlic. Brush the tops of the filets with the butter mixture, and be generous! This is the flavor, baby! Place the bacon-wrapped filets on your broiler pan about 4 " under the broiler and broil for about 9-10 minutes on each side for medium. Obviously, broil them less time for those of you who like your meat rare! And don't even think about making them well-done. That completely ruins filets, in our opinion!

Important!! Don't forget to brush the tops periodically with your butter mixture! Keep the flavor going!

Your kitchen will smell soooo good by the time these are finished. Take a big whiff and prepare yourself for the flavor explosion of your first taste!

Coming Soon.... Gourmet Minty Mushroom Ice Cream!!!
But First - Loving Leftovers!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Zucchini Quesadinnis!

My ten year old nephew, Mitchell loved these Quesadinnis! After he had eaten a few slices, he asked, "Is there zucchini in here?"


"Wow! That's a really smart way to hide zucchini!"

My intent was certainly not to hide the zucchini - I was actually looking to showcase it, but hey, whatever works when it comes to feeding kids vegetables, right? Abby, age eight, really liked them too and Emma, six, was not as crazy about them because they were a little "too spicy" for her. The "too spicy" was my fault because I chose the Raspberry Chitpotle salsa, even though I knew it may be too much for her. The adults at the table, however, loved the salsa's kick, so consider what kind of flavor you want in your quesadinnis!

This is one of those recipes that has so many flavors emerging from every bite, that you find yourself a bit dazed and confused about what it is you're tasting and I love that!

Have you ever seen a Cirque Du Soleil show? Jen and I have, twice! At any given moment, on every corner of the stage, there are unbelievable flips, tricks, and aerobatics being performed and realistically, your two eyes can't take it all in at once. You never know where you should be looking because everywhere you look, something incredible is happening. It's an experience like no other. These Quesadinnis are Cirque Du Soleil on a plate!

Zucchini Quesadinnis

2 Cups Diced Zucchini
One Cup Chopped Leeks
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Ounces Neufchatel Cheese
1/4 Cup Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup Salsa - your choice - choose wisely
6 Nine-Inch Flour Tortillas

Saute' the zucchini and leek in a wok or skillet with 2 tablespoons oil. Saute' until they are softened. Remove from heat and stir in Neufchatel Cheese and Cheddar Cheese.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Drop a little oil in. Place half of tortilla in the heated pan, while holding the other half up. Evenly spread 2 tablespoons of salsa and 1/2 cup of filling over the bottom half. Fold the top over. Top with a lid to keep the heat in. Flip so both sides are grilled.

Move each tortilla to a plate and cut into triangles.

As mentioned above, I used Raspberry Chitpotle Salsa and I think it was a major contributor to the Cirque Du Soleil effect. Between the sauteed leeks bouncing off the raspberry salsa and the olive oil-soaked zucchini bathing in the Neufchatel cheese, you're going to have one circus of a meal! Enjoy!

Coming Soon... Filet Mignon! Need we say more?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"The Clean Fifteen"

Jen and I are both big believers in eating organic foods as much as possible and we consider ourselves lucky that we each have the ability and acreage to grow fruits and vegetables right in our own backyards. Jen has more than enough room to plant for and feed an entire army - me, not so much.

Jen and Barry raise their own chickens to get the best tasting and nutrient-rich eggs and if their chickens go on vacation, I try to score some from my sister or my Dad. My brother-in-law is the "go-to guy" for the organic, free-range chickens. He's the BEST because he knows how I feel about ugly chickens, so he guarantees me the cream of the crop.

Several years ago, my dad found a gentleman willing to sell us premium organic beef for the price of conventional beef, so we're crazy about that guy. He's a good man raising his cattle the right way and letting the rest of us reap the benefits. Also, new good friends have offered up their high-quality beef, so we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have all these resources available to us.

Still, eating organically can get expensive - fast! I know sometimes I get caught up in grabbing organic everything without really thinking about whether everything needs to be bought this way. Author Cindy Burke debates organic versus non organic in her book, "To Buy Or Not To Buy Organic" and in it she has two lists: The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen.

Today, we're going to address the Clean Fifteen because it's quick and easy. These fifteen foods are the foods that are the least likely to contain pesticide residue, even if they are not organically grown. Sometimes it's just not profitable enough to use pesticides on the crop, or maybe the plant has a weird or bitter taste that bugs just don't like. Of course, there are the natural predators who do the work for the farmer. Whatever the reason, these are the fifteen that year after year have showed little or no pesticide residue.

So, if you're trying to eat more organically, but your wallet's a little light, save what money you do have and spend it on the dirty dozen. The Clean Fifteen is where you can buy conventionally and feel okay doing it.

"The Clean Fifteen"

Shelling Peas
Sweet Corn
Watermelon (domestically grown)

What are you waiting for? Go get yourself some shelling peas!

Coming Soon... Zucchini Quesadinnis!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Outstanding Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

Outstanding Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

1 c. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. quick oats

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. milk
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. sugar or maple syrup
1 c. ripe bananas, sliced

My, oh my, folks...pancakes are royalty around here, and this recipe is the king! This is yet another find from the Moosewood Collective. We just LOVE that book, don't we? The first time we made these pancakes, we were blown away by their mild banana flavor as well as how fast they fill you up. Simple AND quick to throw together, these pancakes will quickly become a breakfast staple in your house, just as they have in ours!

Begin by mixing all of the dry ingredients in a pretty bowl. Well, we guess it doesn't HAVE to be a pretty bowl, but why not? We like pretty dishes!! Now, it should be noted that we usually use more like 1/2 cup of oats, but that is completely optional. And if you don't have quick oats, just pulse your regular oats in a food processor a few times...that will work just fine!

Next, mix your wet ingredients in a separate (but just as pretty) bowl. Don't be afraid to pour that maple syrup right in there...it's GOOOOOOD!! Actually, if you don't mind, we'd like to have a word right now about maple syrup. Please, please, PLEASE do not use Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth's, Hungry Jack, or any of those imposter syrups!!!! This is of utmost importance! Well, maybe not UTMOST importance, but still...it's important to us. Real maple syrup is D.I.V.I.N.E. ...don't mess with perfection! And anyway, those imposters are full of yuckiness, like high-fructose corn syrup and artificial maple flavoring and caramel coloring. YUCK! Trust us on this one, ok? Follow us blindly. Have we earned your trust yet? We certainly hope so!

Now that we've gotten that off our chests and hopefully persuaded you to try REAL MAPLE SYRUP, let's move on. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Now don't get overzealous and mix too much...just enough to moisten everything.

Make sure your griddle or skillet is sufficiently oiled and heated. Test it by flicking some drops of water on it and see if they dance in the oil. If they do, you're ready to go! Spoon out dollops of batter using a measuring cup or ladle and let them cook until they bubble. This means it's time to flip! Now, make sure it's really time by lifting up an edge and checking to make sure they are nice and brown underneath. This is important, because we only want to flip our pancakes ONE TIME. It keeps them nice and fluffy!

When they're done, remove them and quickly top them with butter and REAL MAPLE SYRUP. We like our syrup heated up...try it if that's not how you normally do it. You'll like it! It makes the butter melt and run all over those delicious pancakes...what a way to start out your day! Enjoy!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Italian Stuffed Portabellas

The first time we made these we were so impressed with ourselves. Not sure why - we didn't come up with the recipe, we just followed it, but that's how our minds work. When we create something new in the kitchen, we fall in love with the enticing aroma, we puff out our chests as we display it on the table with pride, and when we sit down for that first taste....."Ahhhhhhh," we exchange happy smiles for a job well done. For us, it's not just that we created something new to eat, but that we discovered a new and fabulous flavor for our excited palates to enjoy.

Now, when it comes to stuffing a Portabella mushroom, there are as many possibilities as there are flavors of ice cream. (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the last time Portabellas and ice cream will ever share space in the same sentence - simply because it's unnatural!) And even though we would love to share with you all the possibilities, today we're just going to stuff them Italian style. Tuesday was all about the Irish and today is all about the Italians.

Italian Stuffed Portabellas

4 Large Portabella Mushrooms
One Cup Onion, minced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2/3 Cup Red Peppers, minced
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil (or one tablespoon dried)
2/3 Cups Ricotta Cheese
One Cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons Bread Crumbs

Saute those onions until nice and softened - add the garlic and peppers and saute five minutes more. In a bowl, mix basil, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, salt, and bread crumbs. Stir in the sauteed veggies. Brush Bellas with oil, then top each one with the cheese/veggie mixture. Bake at 400 degrees uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until mushrooms release their juices and cheese melts.

Enjoy your Italian Stuffed Portabellas and stay tuned for future possibilities!

Consider using Baby Bellas for this recipe instead of the larger portabella. The small mushroom is a nice addition to any meal, while the large mushroom is the meal. Choose the kind of meal you want.

Portobello or Portabella?
Which is it? Originally it was Portobello, but to make it sound more Italian, somebody changed it to Portabella. Both spellings and pronunciations are accepted in the food world. Take your pick - we have!

Coming Soon... Another Fabulous Pancake Recipe from Jen, the Pancake Master!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stout Irish Gingerbread

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

This Day originally started out as a religious holiday, celebrating the life of St Patrick and his determination and success in converting pagans into Christianity. He was a proud symbol for all of Ireland. Slowly over time however, the day has become more about celebrating all things Irish - beer style.

We would like to honor St. Patrick and his admirable efforts all those years ago and celebrate the day Food-Style with this hearty Gingerbread made with Guinness Stout. This bread is not for the faint of heart. It is for the wanna-be Irish who think they can hang with the leprechauns.

It smells absolutely divine while it's baking and it's flavor is truly robust and full-bodied. We dare you to try it because we're sure you'll like it!

Stout Irish Gingerbread

One Cup Oatmeal Stout or Guinness Stout Beer
1-1/4 Cup Unsulphured Molasses (not Blackstrap)
One Cup Butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 Cups Brown Sugar, Packed
3 Large Eggs, Beaten
3 Cups Unbleached White Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Ground Ginger
2 Teaspoons Grated Nutmeg
One Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
Pinch of Ground Black Pepper

Start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9x5-inch loaf pans and dust with flour.

In a large saucepan, bring the stout and molasses to a boil; then set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Next, add the eggs slowly. In yet another separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet in two or three batches, alternating with the cooled molasses mixture, to make a smooth batter.

This batter looks just like chocolate cake batter, but this is no chocolate cake. This is hardcore Irish Gingerbread. Carry on....

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pan for about ten minutes and then turn out onto a rack.

This may be served with whipped cream.

When I was missing a few ingredients I defied the recipe and used 1/2 Cup Molasses, 1/2 Cup Blackstrap (even though they specifically told me not to), and 1/4 Cup Brown Rice Syrup and guess what? It was still good! AND it was a little more nutritious with the Blackstrap in it. Also, I used regular Turbinado sugar instead of Brown Sugar just because I never use brown sugar in anything.

Oatmeal Stout is a sweet, full-bodied dark ale brewed with rolled oats and roasted barley. If you don't want to use Guinness Stout, Samuel Adams also makes a good one.

Coming Soon... Stuffed Portabellas - Italian Style!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Burst of Lemon Muffins

Okay, Lemon Lovers...Step Right Up!

If you loved the Luscious Lemon Dream Puff from the February 21st post and now you’re itching for the taste of lemons in the morning, we’ve got you covered! Not to say the Puff couldn’t be eaten at breakfast because we don’t make those kind of rules around here, but on your typical morning, a muffin may be a better idea….maybe.

Not only does the lemon juice go straight into the batter with these muffins, once it’s baked we punch little holes on top of it’s head and pour even more lemon juice inside. Why? Because we’re lemon lovers, that's why!

Burst of Lemon Muffins

1-3/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup Sugar
One Teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
One Cup Vanilla or Lemon Yogurt
1/3 Cup Melted Butter
One Egg
One to Two Tablespoons Lemon Zest
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Sugar
Cherries (optional)

Mix together yogurt, egg, butter, and lemon juice. Slowly add dry ingredients just to incorporate.

Because we love surprises, sometimes we fill the muffin tins halfway, drop one cherry in the center, then pour in the remaining batter to 3/4 full. While the muffins are doing time in the hot box, mix the 1/4 cup lemon juice and two tablespoons of sugar into a pan over medium heat. When the muffins have baked in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, remove them from the oven to cool slightly.

Once the muffins are cooled, use a toothpick and poke 5-6 holes right in their tops. Take a spoon loaded with the lemon juice and sugar and slowly pour the lemon lava into the holes and watch the muffin Soak. It. Up!

The flavor of these muffins are best when completely cooled because that's when the lemon delivers it's mightiest punch, which means, you’ll have to wait a little while to actually taste them. It’s called willpower, people!

Whadda ya know? Blueberry works too!

Consider using one cup oat flour, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, and 1/4 brown rice flour instead of all white flour. Also, consider using plain yogurt - it will cut down on the sugar considerably and it will still taste wonderful!

Coming Soon... Stuffed Portabellas - Italian Style!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Spinach Salad Popeye Would Love

It's a little known secret that Popeye really didn't like eating spinach out of a can, but rather he preferred to eat his spinach, salad-style with eggs and protein to help build his muscles. But realistically, they couldn't have Popeye sitting down for a big bowl of salad every time there was an emergency, so they went with the spinach-out-of-the-can scenario.

As interesting as that little story is, it's completely made up. BUT, it sounds reasonable doesn't it? Who wouldn't prefer a fresh, tasty spinach salad over spinach in a can?

Luckily, you can walk into any store at any time and buy fresh spinach, but its true growing season runs from March through May and from September through October, so right now is when its freshest. So RIGHT NOW is when we’re going to make Spinach Salad.

Most salads include lots of vegetables like carrots and tomatoes, while other swanky salads candy their pecans, dry their cranberries, roast their pine nuts, and flavor themselves up with some gorgonzola cheese. Today, we’re not going to do any of that. Today’s salad is all about spinach and protein.

We always recommend buying the pre-washed spinach, because nobody but June Cleaver has the time to wash the sand and dirt from each and every leaf. So, you can start by moving the spinach from the bag to the salad bowl and pat yourself on the back, because you’re halfway done. ( feel free to wash the spinach yourself, just to be safe..)

Hard boil 4 eggs.
Cook up 6 slices of bacon (turkey or pork – it’s your salad).
Open a can of water chestnuts.
Cut up the eggs and drop in the salad.
Crumble the bacon and do the same.
Cut the chestnuts into at least half and you guessed it, add it to the salad.
You could add some thinly sliced red onions too. In fact, we highly recommend it!

Just imagine for a moment, if you had the eggs boiled and bacon cooked ahead of time, this salad would go together in a flash! Just something to think about....

Our families have always made their own dressing for this salad, which is super easy and super fast – just like the rest of the recipe. I suppose you could always buy your salad dressing from the store and if that is the route you choose, French would probably be the closest thing to what we are going to create ourselves.

For the homemade dressing you’re going to need:

1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 cup Oil
1/3 Cup Vinegar
1/3 Cup Ketchup
One Tablespoon Worcestershire

Mix together and shake, shake, shake.

Two Quarts Fresh Spinach
4 eggs
6 Bacon Strips (Turkey Bacon works too)
One Can Water Chestnuts, sliced
Some Very Thinly Sliced Red Onion (optional)
Some Fresh Bean Sprouts (optional)

This has been taste tested on children and adults alike, so if your child likes spinach, then you’ve got yourself a winner here!

Coming Soon... Sloppy Joe....Slop..Sloppy Joe... AND Our Greatest and Most Exciting Discovery Ever! (seriously!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Party Moment!

We interrupt the regularly scheduled recipe for Popeye’s favorite meal to bring you this important Party Moment. We realize from the recipes and pictures we have received from you that we may have failed to make ourselves clear about the type of Party in the Pantry pictures we are looking for. We want to see you having FUN in YOUR kitchen.

Yes, we are looking for your favorite “Toot Toot!“ recipes that you wish to share with the us and the world, but just as important as the food we make is the fun we have creating it! We shouldn’t be having one without the other, so send us your best impression of funky fun in your own kitchen today!

As you can see from the lovely photo above, Jen is sharing with us the super special talent she has of balancing a spoon from her nose. She has been known to casually walk about her kitchen amusing Kendall and Noah with this special trick.

Jen teaching Sheri this trick took some practice and the photos of her intense meditation-like concentration and goofy expressions were conveniently deleted. All that remained was this photo capturing her three seconds of success.

We hope these pictures bring about some inspiration in all of you and we promise to share more of our fun in the future. If you have a recipe you would like us to try – whether it’s one of your favorites or just one you are curious about, send it our way using the Contact Info to the left and we’ll see what we can do. Don’t forget the picture!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oh My! Molasses Softies!

Don’t Molasses Softies sound yummy in the tummy? That’s what I asked my nieces and nephew the first time we made them together. Of course, what child doesn’t think cookies sound deelish? And when kids help in the kitchen, they always love what they help create.

I know when I volunteered in the kitchen as a youngster, I was always looking for any opportunity to grab a taste of something sweet. My nieces are no different. Sweet Emma was just two years old when she dipped her little finger in the powdered ginger, and boy was she disappointed! She couldn’t scrape that powder from her tongue fast enough.

Then, while I was tending to Emma, her older sister, Abby saw the chance to take a quit swig of the vanilla extract – and she too, was unpleasantly surprised. I had to laugh about that one. I assured her that a person only makes that mistake once.

As tempted as you’ll probably be to taste test ingredients yourself, try to show a little restraint while making these cookies. That way, you’ll be plenty ready to taste the warm soft cookies when they’re pulled from the oven.

Molasses Softies

Four Cups Flour
1-1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Blackstrap Molasses
3 Tablespoons Karo or Brown Rice Syrup
2 Tablespoons Milk
One Egg
One Cup Butter
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1-1/2 Teaspoons Ginger
1-1/2 Teaspoons Clove

As with all cookies, we beat the butter and sugar together first. Then we add the molasses, syrup, egg, and milk until smooth. In a separate bowl, blend all the dry ingredients, add them to the wet ingredients, and mix them all together.
Roll the dough into little balls and then roll them around in some sugar. Place each little future cookie on a baking stone and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
When those twelve minutes are up, you’re going to open the oven door to beautifully flattened molasses cookies. After they sit for a minute or two, grab one for a taste test and prepared to be impressed!

We use Brown Rice Syrup as a healthy alternative to Karo syrup. We hope you give the brown rice syrup a try if you’ve never used it before.

Even though many people use white sugar, we prefer Raw Turbinado Sugar that can be found in your regular grocery store. Jen points out that rolling the little balls of dough in the Turbinado sugar adds the perfect little crunch to this cookie.

Coming Soon..... Popeye's Favorite!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lemon Chicken Scallopini

Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds all fancy...but I promise you this dish is very easy and VERY delicious! The first time we made this dish, Sheri and I were looking for something new. We proclaimed that for the entire summer, we would not repeat one SINGLE recipe...everything had to be something new. I flipped through recipes I had cut out of papers and magazines, and this one fit the bill...meaning it was something new AND I already had everything I needed right in the fridge!
We put the recipe together and when we sat down to eat, all of us were moaning with pleasure with every single bite! The chicken is so tender, and it has just the right amount of lemon. Even more importantly, it goes together quite quickly...and it's great with the Rockin' Orzo!! Or if you want to have a lemon "theme", you could pair it with the Frozen Lemon Puff as well...there are no rules here!!

Lemon Chicken Scallopini

4 boneless skinless breast halves
1 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. dry bread crumbs or panko
2 lemons
1/2 c. grated parmesan
1/2 c. pine nuts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
approx. 2 tbsp butter
approx. 2 tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap until they are about 1/4" thick. Don't skip this step, or your chicken will not be melt-in-your-mouth tender! Now, take out a good-sized plate and combine flour, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper on it. Crack your eggs into a little bowl, give them a quick little mix, and pour them on another plate. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs, zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tsp.), 1 tsp. salt, parmesan, pine nuts, and basil. Now, go back and sprinkle the chicken with the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Here comes the fun and messy part!! Coat both sides of chicken in flour first, then eggs (allowing excess to drip off), then bread crumbs, pressing mixture in slightly. Now, you may be wondering why the four first, and THEN the eggs, right? This is the important part...the eggs go on top of the flour to help seal the juices in! And believe me, it does!

Let's continue! In a large skillet, over medium heat, add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp EVOO. When your pan is hot, add 1-2 chicken breasts and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. At this point, the kitchen really starts to smell gooooood! Remove the chicken to a covered dish to keep it warm. Don't be afraid to add more butter and EVOO to your skillet with each batch. We want the chicken to be nice and buttery and crispy around the edges! Cut the remaining unpeeled lemon into large wedges. Squeeze 2 wedges over the chicken before serving and place the remaining wedges on the platter with chicken to make it look pretty. And yes, I know I used slices instead of wedges in the above picture, but sometimes I bend the rules like that...it's just how I roll!! LOL!

*We tried this same technique with fish too, and it was just as good! Go crazy...bend the rules!!*

Coming Soon... Warm Molasses Cookies, Oh My!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Garden Muffins

These muffins came to life one day, as I ran across an interesting muffin recipe on the internet - kind of like you're doing now! I looked at it, studied it, and thought to myself...."I don't have that, I don't like that, Yuk! Yuuuuum! That's sounds good. I could replace that with that and this with that" and before I knew it I was whipping up my own muffin recipe.

I don't anticipate Tim Hortons knocking down my door any time soon looking for these guys, with their flat tops and all, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't!

Just to make sure I wasn't the only one smiling after consuming, I brought some warm ones straight from the oven to my co-workers one morning. I asked them for honest feedback, not polite compliments. The overwhelming consensus was "delicious". Chad liked everything about them - especially the zucchini, Jen liked it with the pecans, but "would have loved it without them", and Michele said she was in love with them and that she would dream of them everyday until I brought more in (Michele's the dramatic one in the office). Mary gushed over them as she does all my food - bless her heart - and promptly ordered a dozen to be baked for her each week. I, myself just have one thing to say....

"Toot Toot!"

Directly below, is my version of the muffins and further below that is a version that may be more conducive to your pantry. They'll both taste great, but my healthier version will add years to your life and life to your years!

Garden Muffins

1/3 Cup Brown Rice Flour
3/4 Cup Oat Flour
1/2 Cup Oats
1-1/4 Cups Sugar
1-2 Tablespoons Flax Meal
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
One Heaping Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
One Cup Shredded Carrot
One Cup Shredded Zucchini
One Shredded Granny Smith Apple
1/2 Cup Broken Pecans (optional)
3 Eggs
3 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice Concentrate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shred carrots in a food processor (measure out the one cup after shredding). Shred the zucchini the same way. Shred apple (including skin) in the food processor. In mixing bowl, combine flours, oats, sugar, flax meal, salt and baking soda together. Mix in carrots, zucchini, apple, and pecans. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, oil, OJ Concentrate, and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into carrot mixture and then spoon into muffin cups. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Enjoy!

1-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour*
1/2 Cups Oats
1-1/4 Cups Sugar
One Tablespoon Wheat Germ*
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
One Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 Cups Shredded Carrots (if you don't have or like zucchini)*
1 Shredded Granny Smith Apple
1/2 Cups Broken Pecans (optional)
3 eggs
3 Tablespoons Vanilla
1/4 Cup Oil*
2 Tablespoons OJ Concentrate

These muffins are so tasty, so moist, and so healthy that I dare say that if you ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you just might make live to be one hundred and one, and look good doing it! How about that?

Remember: Muffins, when completely cooled, can be stored in the freezer, pulled out when hungry, and when thoroughly thawed, taste just as moist and flavorful as the day you first baked them. (My favorite magic trick EVER)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chicken and Sour Cream Enchiladas

16 oz. sour cream
2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
8 oz. shredded co-jack or mexican blend cheese
1 c. salsa
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. ground cumin
(10) 6" flour,whole wheat, or low carb tortillas
1 c. shredded lettuce
1 c. chopped tomatoes

This is a family pleasing recipe that can be thrown together very quickly, as long as you do a little prep ahead of time. We first made these enchiladas while trying to find a way to use up all that yummy leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. They were so good that we knew it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to use chicken in place of the turkey for an everyday type of meal...and boy, were we right! Try them tonight and have yourself a little fiesta!

We're sorry, did someone say MARGARITAS???? Please send directions, we'll be right over!!!

The most important part of making this meal quick is to cook the chicken either earlier in the day, or even a day or two ahead of time. We either bake it or grill it with a little cumin sprinkled on top, and then dice it up and store it in the fridge until it's time to put the enchiladas together. We would even venture to say that you could bake it, dice it, and freeze it to pull out whenever you want to use it...you be the judge! And besides, we're all about freezing things when you can to make life a little easier. And don't forget that lovely, green, fresh cilantro!!! Cilantro is wonderful...don't be afraid to use it, even if it's not your favorite. It's very mild in this recipe...we promise...and it gives it just the right amount of sass!

Ok, so now that you've already got your chicken cooked and diced, let's start by mixing 1 cup of sour cream, the tasty chicken, 1 cup of the cheese, 1/4 cup of salsa (pick whatever level of heat you like), the cilantro and cumin in a big pretty bowl. Doesn't it look yummy already? Go ahead and stick your finger in there for a taste...you won't regret it!

Now, spoon about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto each tortilla. We really like the whole wheat or low carb tortillas...they get a little crispy around the edges, which is always a plus in our book! Roll each tortilla up and place them in a 9x13 baking dish. Top with the remaining 3/4 cup of salsa (or more, depending on your taste!) and cover with foil.

Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of cheese and continue baking until the cheese is melted. Now, make it pretty by topping with chopped lettuce and tomato and serve with a nice sized dollop of sour cream and a bit of salsa on the side. Don't fear the sour cream, people...it's the stuff dreams are made of!

Coming Soon... Muffins With Fiber AND Fabulous Flavor! They DO Exist!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mediterranean Layered Dip

Look what our great friend, Amy brought to the party! This dip looked so magnificent and delicious, that we were the first ones to dig in - no lie! And even though Amy is a wizard at photography, even she could not do justice to this Mediterranean masterpiece.

This dip has so much flavor and personality, you're sure to fall in love with it! All the fabulous ingredients that make up this tower of freshness are healthy and alive with flavor. We're probably embarrassing Amy by gushing all over her dip, but we don't care because we consider this dip totally Gush-worthy.

We want you to know that even though one look at the recipe down below may be intimidating because of the long list of ingredients and seemingly tedious steps, Amy assures us that it really was quite easy and quick to put together and WE assure you that whatever it takes to make this dip happen is absolutely worth it.

Also, if any of you out there have every single one of the ingredients necessary to make this dip in your pantry right now, put on thy crown, take up thy robe, and declare yourself a true Party in the Pantry Diva, because You Rock!


Mediterranean Layered Dip

Step One

Prepare the Tapenade:

12 Ounce Jar of Red Sweet Peppers

½ Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives

½ Cup Pimiento-Stuffed Olives

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

One Tablespoon Snipped Fresh Basil

One Tablespoon Drained Capers

One Teaspoon Snipped Fresh Oregano

¼ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Drain 12 ounce jar roasted red sweet peppers. Pat peppers dry with a paper towel. Measure ½ cup red sweet peppers to use in the tapenade and chop the remaining for one of the layers in the dip; set aside. In a food processor combine the ½ cup drained red sweet peppers, ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives or pitted ripe olives, ½ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 Tablespoon snipped fresh basil, 1 Tablespoon drained capers, 1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano, and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Cover and process with several on-off turns until the ingredients are coarsely chopped. Makes 1-1/3 cups.

Step Two

Combine Tomato Mixture

2 Medium Tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 cup seeded and chopped Cucumber

3 Tablespoons Snipped Fresh Italian (flat leaf) Parsley

4 Teaspoons Snipped Fresh Mint

2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice

1/8 teaspoon Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Coarsely Ground Pepper

Combine all ingredients and set aside.

Step Three

Dip Assembly

1-1/2 Cup Purchased Hummus –

I mix an 8 ounce container of regular hummus with a 4 ounce container of roasted red pepper hummus

2 Cups Shredded Fresh Spinach

4 Ounces Feta Cheese Crumbles

¼ Cup Sliced Green Onions

¼ Cup Sliced or Chopped Pitted Kalamato Olives

Spread hummus on a 12 inch serving platter.

Arrange spinach on top of the hummus layer, leaving a 1-inch border of hummus.

Spoon Tapenade over the spinach, leaving a 1-inch border of spinach.

Drain and discard excess liquid from the tomato mixture. Spoon tomato mixture over Tapenade layer,

leaving a 1-inch border of Tapenade.

Sprinkle feta over tomato mixture.

Top with reserved ¾ cup chopped roasted red sweet peppers, green onions, and olives.

Make Ahead Tip:

Prepare Tapenade up to 1 week ahead; cover and chill.

Prepare tomato mixture 6 to 24 hours ahead; cover and chill.

Drain as directed above.

The assembled dip may be covered and chilled for up to 1 hour before serving.

Serve with Pita Wedges


For those of you who don't have all of the ingredients you need on hand, here is your grocery list! (This spring may be the perfect time to start a garden and cut down on that list)

1-1/2 Cup purchased Hummus OR
( 8 ounce container of regular Hummus and 4 ounces of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus)
2 Cups shredded fresh Spinach
4 Ounces Feta Cheese crumbles
¼ Cup sliced Green Onions
3/4 Cup sliced or chopped pitted Kalamato Olives
2 Medium Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup seeded and chopped Cucumber
3 Tablespoons snipped fresh Italian (flat leaf) Parsley
4 Teaspoons snipped fresh Mint
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
12 Ounce jar of Red Sweet Peppers
½ Cup Pimiento-Stuffed Olives
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
One Tablespoon snipped fresh Basil
One Tablespoon drained Capers
One Teaspoon snipped fresh Oregano
¼ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Pita Wedges

Coming Soon... Chicken Enchiladas!!!