Welcome Fellow Food Enthusiasts

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Simple & Healthy Kids Lunch

Who said Doritos aren't healthy?
Okay, okay . . . but in this small portion, you betcha.  I think it's important to remember "all things in moderation."  My kids love tuna on wheat sandwiches.  And my daughter loves strawberries, while my son enjoys carrots.  Here's the rule of thirds that Megan pointed out: sandwich, fruit, and chips.  And 100% juice to drink.  They devoured it - I mean look at the daughter couldn't wait to eat her sandwich before I took the picture.  And actually I let her take the picture - she's an Eat Your Veggies Peas blog cook in-the-making. :)

Helpful Tip...
Also in doing this challenge I've found an easy way to ensure my lunches have at least one, if not more, healthy items.  After I've come home from doing my grocery shopping and getting all my fruits and veggies, I immediately rinse, cut, slice, or peel them.  Then I stick them in Tupperware stacks in my fridge.  This way when lunch (or dinner) rolls around, I can reach in my peeled and cut carrots Tupperware and throw them on our plates in less than five seconds.  Not to mention, dice them up real quick and throw them in my Tortellini Soup for dinner.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos and Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice

**these both from the new Best Bites Cook Book with my alteration in italics**

*Note: The taquito recipe as listed is sort of a healthier option because these are baked instead of deep fried taquitos. Other options for making it healthier, you can use Greek yogurt, or plain yogurt instead of cream cheese.

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
1/2 c (1/2 stick) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 green salsa
1 T lime juice (I also grated the rind)
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t granulated garlic (not so sure what this is, so I used 2 chopped up garlic cloves)
3 T chopped cilantro (used a lot more, you can add to taste)
2 T chopped green onion
2 c shredded chicken (cooked first of course)
1 c shredded pepper jack cheese (I am pretty sure I always use way more cheese than recommended)
Corn tortillas
2 T canola oil
Non-stick cooking spray
I also suggest tooth picks

Mix cream cheese (microwave for about 20 seconds if it isn't at room temperature) with green salsa, lime juice and peel, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Then add chicken, cilantro, green onion and cheese.

VERY important - wrap 3-4 tortillas at a time in a damp paper, or cloth, towel and microwave for about 15-20 seconds. This way they won't crack as you roll them (see the taquito on the far right of the photo above - that one wasn't microwave, thought they were fresh enough).

Scoop a couple tablespoons of the chicken mix onto the tortilla - but on the edge, not in the middle. Roll the taquito and place a toothpick in the taquito to keep rolled up. Repeat and roll taquitos until you have used all the chicken mix.

Also VERY important - spray the cookie sheet very well (I thought of using one of my silpats, but forgot to try). These little guys stick big time, even with a fair amount of spray.

You can then spray the tops of the taquitos or brush them with the canola oil (this helps them crisp in the oven. ) You can also sprinkle with salt.

Bake in the oven at 425 for 15-20 minutes (I did 15). Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before eating.

*I mixed 1/2 cup of green salsa with sour cream (again you can use yogurt) for a dipping sauce.

Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice


2 c rice (white or jasmine)
1 - 14oz can coconut milk
2 c water
1 t salt
Splash (1-2 t) white vinegar
2-3 t sugar
1/4 c chopped green onions
Black pepper, to taste

(I cooked in the rice cooker)
Combine rice, coconut milk, water, salt, vinegar and sugar in sauce pan. Bring to boil and then lower heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Allow to stand before serving. Top with green onion and pepper.


{market streets} clam chowder

THIS IS AMAZING!! i'm not even kidding i could eat the WHOLE pot!!

6 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 C. diced potatoes
1/2 C diced celery
1/2 C. diced onions
1/2 C. diced green pepper
2 cans (61/2 oz) snow's chopped clams with juice
1 1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 1/2 tsp. slat
1 1/4 tsp italian seasoning
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
6 Tbsp white cooking wine
1 C. water
2 C. half and half
2 C. heavy whipping cream 

Combine melted butter and flour in oven proof container and bake @ 325 for 30 min (turns light golden brown and is kinda crumbly). Simultaneously, in large saucepan combine remaining ingredients except half and half and whipping cream. bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Remove bay leaves and stir in butter-flour mixture. stir until thick. Mixture will be slightly less thick then cookie dough. Remove from heat, stir in half and half/whipping cream until blended. heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally. 

*this chowder is pretty thin. 

Delicious in sour dough bread bowl!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strawberry Walnut Salad

I didn't mean for my Live Longer Lunch challenge to first be a typical salad.  But here we are.  It was tasty - so thought I'd share. More to come... :)

spring mix salad
cut up fresh strawberries
feta cheese
shredded chicken
strawberry vinaigrette dressing

toss together and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

grown up grilled cheese/ ariel's favorite panini.


lately at my house we've been obsessed with using the george foreman grill. i always forget about my small appliances, and i'm glad i dug this one up from the depths of my cupboards! one of my favorite things to make on the is paninis. i've done a whole lot of experimenting and this is by far my favorite combination:

sourdough bread
mozzarella cheese
brianna's blush wine vinaigrette

i like to use bread from an unsliced loaf so i can cut it as thinly as i like. lightly butter the bread on the outsides, pesto & shredded mozzarella on one side, 1-2 tsp vinaigrette spooned over the other side, a couple of minutes on the and voila! best panini ever! you seriously need to try it.

{i'm not putting this in the "live longer lunch" category unless you feel like the sides make it a super healthy meal...}

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Pioneer Woman's Lasagna

I didn't follow my own advice on this one. I know that her recipes feed an army, and yet I still didn't half this one. I think because it calls for the same amount of noodles as my family's recipe, I figured it would make the same amount too.

Um, this is the lasagna before I put it in the oven.
Yah, it kind of makes a lot.

Here is the recipe:

1 T olive oil
10 oz Lasagna noodles (8 noodles)
1 lb mozzarella cheese, Shredded (I use fresh mozzarella, slice it and lay it atop when needed)
1 1/2 lb ground beef (I used 1 lb)
1 lb hot ground sausage
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 - 14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes
2 - 6 oz cans tomato paste
12 (or more) basil leaves, chopped (I used more, I really like basil)
1/4 c Italian leaf parsley, chopped
3 c cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 c Parmesan cheese, grated


1 Boil the noodles. Once they are done, drain water, and lay the noodles out on tin foil (don't ask why, but it worked and they didn't stick...)

2 Brown the meat in the olive oil. (I browned the beef and then the sausage, I think that is way too much meat for one pan, so I did it separately. After all meat is cooked and is drained of excess fat, put back into the pan, add the tomatoes with their juice. (I cut the tomatoes in the can with kitchen scissors so that the tomatoes aren't whole, but not small chunks). Also add the tomato paste, 1/2 t salt, and freshly ground pepper to the pan. Simmer for 45 minutes - stirring occasionally.

3 Chop the basil and the parsley. Add half of the herbs to the meat mixture after is has simmered for 45 minutes.

4 In a bowl, mix the cottage cheese, eggs, 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan, and the other half of the herbs.

5 Assemble the lasagna. Lay four noodles on the bottom of your dish. Spoon half of the white sauce on top of the noodles. Sprinkle 1/3 of the grated, or lay freshly sliced, mozzarella on the white sauce, and top with half of the meat mix.

6 Repeat - the other four noodles, the rest of the white sauce, 1/3 of the mozzarella, the rest of the meat sauce. Now sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and the rest of the mozzarella.

7 Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. I put a cookie sheet under my casserole dish to catch the dripping.

8 I recommend letting it sit 10-20 minutes before serving. We served it hot, you can see on the plate shot below, it was a a little runny.

The little guy at his all up, so I'd say it was a hit.


Valentine's Day Cake (or Anniversary, etc...)

Happy Birthday Mommy!

I am seriously so behind on blogging about stuff I've cooked in the last two months. Oye! This is from Valentine's Day, which also happens to be my cousin's birthday. I'm going to try this again for my "niece's" baptism (she is the daughter of one of my cousins) this Saturday, except I am going to put a rainbow in the middle. It is kind of fun figuring out shapes to put in the middle. I really want to figure out a princess crown next.

I am truly a huge fan of the cake recipe I introduced/shared it once and referenced it another time, well make that two references, because I am doing it again. It is such a great cake. I think I will experiment with flavoring it next time too. But it was plain white again for this cake, at least the white part. The red is a strawberry cake with extra red food coloring (the recipe called for red velvet, but that doesn't work for this blogger who is allergic to chocolate).

Here is the blog that explains how to assemble it step by step.

My notes: I don't have the fancy tool for leveling a cake, I use a knife which is really easy, especially when you have a long bread knife. And I just use the edge where the cake starts to round on top, hopefully you know what I mean, as my line to cut along. I also made a five layer, not four layer, cake. Um... I mentioned the strawberry cake (I just used a box mix). Oh and the frosting, I am not a fan of frosting (unless it is sour cream, cream cheese or coconut pecan). If you look at my dessert plate after eating cake, it has a pile of frosting on it. (Graham crackers anyone?) This is some yummy frosting though. I followed the blogger's suggestion of using almond extract (which goes along with the almond extract I add to the cake batter). So here is the recipe for the frosting:

Magnolia's Buttercream Frosting

1 c unsalted butter, softened

6-8 c powdered sugar (I used 4-5 c)

2 t vanilla extract

1 t almond extract

1/2 c milk

(I doubled the recipe to have enough for this cake)

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Taste the frosting, if it isn't sweet enough for you, add more sugar, 1/2 c at a time, beating after each addition until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency.

After assembling the cake, I refrigerated it (mostly for the sake of the cake) and take it out 30 minutes prior to serving.

Here's a closer view of the heart.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tomato Mini Pizza

I make this A LOT its so delicious!

2 Large pocketless pitas (I feel better if I do Whole Wheat)
2 Large plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil (must be fresh)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large non-stick baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place pitas on the baking sheet.

2. In a small bowl. mix the tomatoes and salt; stir in the basil, oil and garlic. Top the pitas with the tomato mixture, drizzling any liquid in the bowl over the toppings. Bake until the tomatoes are hot and softened, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese; bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes longer. Cut the pitas in half before serving.

Make 4 servings
131 Calories
4g. Fat
18g. Carbohydrate
6 g. Protein

Healthy Tip: Whole Wheat tortillas will change the nutrition, for the better.

Money Saving Tip: Grow your own tomatoes and basil. I do every year just for this recipe!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Everything in 3's

Well I'm not sure that we qualify for super healthy eating at our house, but we are definitely trying. I have a very picky 5 year old and every meal other than breakfast is a challenge. So one thing we have tried recently that seems to be helping is the everything in 3's rule. There is something about variety that usually gets him to start eating and if he eats 2 of the 3 items than I'm a happy camper. We do this with dinner's as well (although sometimes I have more than 3 things). Plus I found these cute little divided plates at target and we love them.

Here are three examples of what we've tried to do around here. I always try to include some fruit or vegetable as one of the 3 choices. Luckily he will eat raw veges, just not cooked ones. As well as some dairy. We are also trying to cut back on the breads since he would eat sandwiches everyday if I would let him. (fyi it does not always work out so well, but we try)

day 1... today we had 4 things
lil smokies with bbq sauce,  orange slices, string cheese, and yogurt, with apple juice

 day 2...
toast with peanut butter on it, carrot sticks, and string cheese, with milk
(he is not a fan of jams or honey right now so we just toast a piece of bread and add PB)

day 3...
cheese and crackers, pepperoni slices, and bananas, with apple juice
(if I have cottage cheese we will put that on the crackers as well, or lunch meat)

Kevin is always good about taking leftovers and if there is enough then I will usually have that the following day as well, if not then Ty and I will eat the same sort of things. This seems to be working well for us and it keeps Tyler full longer so he isn't always wanting snacks. The same goes for me too!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cranberry-Orange Chicken Salad

So I have soooo many recipes I have experimented with lately that I have been meaning to post, and just haven't done it. Then the new challenge came. I'll be honest, my lunch everyday is leftovers of something I've cooked during the week. I pre-plan my weekly menu, well in our house we alternate cooking and I usually cook 3-4 nights a week. Conveniently the item I prepared tonight strikes me as being a perfect lunch item as well. I will give you the recipe as it appears in the cookbook and I'll mention my changes throughout the instructions in italics.

Cranberry-Orange Chicken Salad
(from Our Best Bites Cookbook)

1 lb (about 2 cups) chopped chicken (I used turkey breast)
1 c celery, chopped
1/3 c chopped green onions (5-6 onions)
Zest of 1 medium orange (about 1T) (I also squeezed the juice - why waste it)
1/2 c craisins (I chopped mine up)
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 t coarse grain mustard (I had it out on the counter, but totally forgot to add it. It was good without it, so maybe this is an optional item?)
2 T cranberry sauce (I used the kind with the whole cranberries in it. I also used 6 T)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground pepper (I used fresh ground salt and pepper)
1/2 c chopped pecans, toasted (I didn't toast mine)
Croissants, rolls or pita pockets (I used whole wheat pitas)
Lettuce leaves (I used spinach, I prefer it to lettuce on my sandwiches)

In a bowl, combine chicken (or turkey), celery, green onions, orange zest (and juice), and craisins.
In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard (optional), cranberry sauce, salt and pepper. Add to the chicken mixture and toss to fully combine. This salad is best refrigerated for several hours before serving.
Just before serving, add the toasted pecans. Serve on a croissant or roll with a lettuce leaf.
(I put all the ingredients in a bowl except the mayo and mix them all together. Then I add the mayo - I didn't use as much as recommended. I just used what was needed to give it a good consistency - and that is how you live longer - don't use a lot of mayo.)


(p.s. I hope you don't mind if I still post all my other recipes during this challenge.)

Cottage Cheese salad

One of my go-to lunches that I prepare for myself and my daughter on a weekly basis is so simply, yet so incredibly delicious {assuming you like the two major ingredients}


cottage cheese 

  • I usually do about one cup low-fat cottage cheese and then dice or mash up one half of a large avocado.

Trust me, it is really divine, and quite filling. When it's for my daughter I usually give her a banana or some mandarin oranges on the side, when they're on hand.

When I make it for myself I also add in some diced tomatoes and then grind pepper over it, and if I am feeling adventurous, I warm up a whole wheat pita pocket and eat that with it as well.

It is really simple, but believe me when I say it is really yummy. And proof that kids will eat this:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cook Challenge: Live Longer Lunches!

And I'm not talking about lunches living longer in your refrigerator. Eew.  I can't stop the bacteria growth on your PB&J, mmmk?  But what I can do is make lunches that will help me and my family live longer.
My sweet friend has inspired me to do this challenge.  She is one of the healthiest eaters I know. And the method for her madness?  longevity! She wants her and her family to live a long and healthy life.  As simple and as genuine as that.  And to that I say: me too please.

This quarter's challenge is healthy lunches.  I'm talkin' whole grains, peaches, carrots sticks and low fat cottage cheese.  What crazy-good n' healthy lunches can you serve up?  Challenge yourself this month to share with our blog readers a healthy alternative to chicken nuggets, french fries and a shake.

You have until the end of March.  Chefs: on your mark . . . get set . . . cook!

P.S. If you're not an official cook on this blog, feel free to leave your healthy lunch recipe in the comments. (Or become a cook of this blog  Email me!)