Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Menu Planning - March Madness

Ok, it's been too long since I've posted so I thought I'd share some of my menu ideas this week. March is the beginning of the craziest month in Austin so I am hoping to start it by being prepared!

Monday - Slow Cooked Pork Sandwiches (I may cheat and buy the pork already prepared at Whole Foods)
Tuesday - Bacon & Tomato Presto Pasta (yes - this is a Kraft recipe, but I plan on getting my supplies at Whole Foods, so that makes it ok, right?)
Wednesday - Broiled Salmon with Thyme and Tomatoes with a side of rice
Sunday - Seared Cod with Stuffing and Squash Casserole

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet Italian Sausage with Zucchini and Tomatoes

I took this from Whole Foods iPhone app. It turned out ok. I think I'd add some other types of spices to it if we make this again.

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage
2 tbls olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbls fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 tbls dried)
1 lb zucchini cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 lb mixed red and yellow cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper

Cook the sausage according to the package directions. While the sausages are cooking, prepare the vegetables.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan, add garlic and oregano, stir for a few seconds, then add the zucchini and cook for 3-5 minutes more.

Once the sausages are cooked, slice them into bite size pieces, then add them to the pan along with the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Once everything is heated up, it's ready to be served and eaten hot!!

Tuna Melt Pie

I took Rachel Ray's Tuna Melt Pie recipe and modified it for our family's taste:


1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
8 florets of broccoli, chopped (you can also use chopped stems)
Four 5-ounce cans of tuna, drained
2 tblsp mayonnaise
1.5 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup flour
2 tblsp butter, melted

First, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Then, heat olive oil in a large skillet, add the onions and stir until they are translucent. Add the chopped up broccoli and cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the tuna and mayo and mix together.

Then combine the onion/broccoli mixture as well as 2/3rds of the cheese. Mix well.

Then, in a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flour and butter. Stir that into the tuna mixture and transfer the entire thing to a 10 inch pie dish. Bake until browned - about 35 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and broil until the cheese has melted.

My kids really enjoyed this meal and asked for seconds and thirds. Whew!

Pretty Yummy Chili

I made this chili last month and it turned out rather yummy! The kids even liked it!


1 lb of organic ground beef (we buy ours at Costco)
1 bottle of V8 juice
1 can of diced tomatoes (or several fresh ones cut up if you have them)
1 can of organic kidney beans
1 can of organic black beans
2-3 cups of frozen corn kernels
1 onion (I used medium yellow), chopped
1 teaspoon of chili powder
Salt and Pepper to taste


Brown and break up the ground beef in a large chili pot until it's no longer pink inside (over medium-high heat). Add the chopped onion and cook until it's translucent. Add the chili powder, tomatoes, beans, V8 juice and corn and mix it all up. Continue to cook on medium heat until everything has heated through.

You can serve this with grated cheddar and fresh chopped onions if you desire.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quinoa, Black Beans, Corn and Spice!

Tonight, I sauteed up some collard greens in olive oil, onions and garlic. It turned out yummy as always. This went really well with our main dish (all gluten-free). Here's how I made the Quinoa with black beans and corn:


1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked Quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can black beans
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (or more or less to heighten or soften the flavor)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


In large sauce pan (or deep skillet) heat oil, then add chopped onions and garlic and saute until translucent. Add Quinoa, brother, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and mix. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add corn and mix/cook for a few minutes. Finally, add black beans and cilantro and mix through to heat.

Serve hot with the collard greens.

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Curry Vegetables

I got this recipe from The Six O'Clock Scramble and decided to post it here because it's so darn yummy. Definitely make the vegetables with the polenta because they go so well together (and the veggies are super easy to make).

Grilled Polenta Ingredients:

24 oz of plain prepared polenta (sold in a tube) or garlic basil polenta, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
1/4 cup olive oil (I actually could have gotten away with 1/8 a cup for this)
1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 1-2 cloves)
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

This can be done on the grill or in the broiler. If doing the grill, preheat it, put the polenta on a vegetable tray and grill until it's lightly browned - about 3-4 minutes per side.

We did this perfectly in the oven on the broil setting (about 410 degrees for approx. 7 min per side - or just until lightly browned - be sure to flip). I put them about 4-5 inches from the top broiler.

It's a good time to get your sauce together and start cutting veggies and preparing the vegetable side.

For the polenta sauce, mix together the olive oil, garlic, basil, and salt. Once the polenta is done, drizzle the sauce over the slices, top with diced tomatoes and then sprinkle the cheese on top.

Curry Vegetables Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 diced onion (I always use a whole one)
1 diced zucchini (I always use two)
2 cups frozen corn kernels (or 4 ears of corn with kernels cut off)
salt and pepper
1 tsp curry powder

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the corn to the skillet and cook for another 3-5 minutes (if it starts to brown, turn down the heat). Season with salt and pepper and 1 tsp of curry powder (optional but so good!).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brown Sugar Wafers

I think this was my Dutch grandmother's secret recipe, but I can't be for sure. I came across this recipe written by my mom and decided to make it with my boys last night. They had fun and have been gobbling these cookies down ever since. I think they'll make my dad proud too.


1 cup butter
3/4 cup packed organic dark brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup pure cane sugar (or granulated) for pressing


Beat the butter until it's creamy. Gradually add the sugar while beating. Add vanilla and yolk next. Add flour and salt. Mix well, shape into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. Butter the flat bottom of a glass cup then dip in granulated sugar, press onto cookie balls until flat. Re-dip in the sugar between each pressing for less sticking.

Bake 340 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then carefully remove with a thin spatula onto a cooling rack.

These are great by themselves or with a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings (from a friend)

I keep meaning to try this (even though hubby won't eat chicken or now gluten, I still want to save this in case I get the chance to make it.) I love me some chicken and dumplings!! This is a friend's way of doing them:

"Boil chicken bouillon, drop little balls of biscuit dough into it,
cook for 10-20 min. Stir in chopped (already cooked) chicken a minute
or three before serving so it warms up. I like Mark Bittmans biscuit
recipe, and i put the whole batch in the bouillon (in balls). Makes
the liquid get thick and creamy."

Here is a Mark Bittman biscuit recipe:

Combine 3 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves. Use your fingers to rub in 1 1/2 sticks of butter until the mixture resembles small peas. Add 1 cup buttermilk and stir until just combined. Drop large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees until golden, about 15 minutes.

Last week of Summer Menu

This is the last week before the kids start school and needless to say, I'm home with them all week (no camp). Here are some ideas of what we'll be cooking this week. Oh yea, and hubby decided to go Gluten-Free a few weeks ago so it's going to be a challenge.

Curried Vegetables and Polenta

Grits and Greens (although I'll probably do Quinoa and Greens)

Rosemary Flank Steak (I'll have to remember this recipe since I didn't write it out)

Tostadas and/or Crispy Tacos

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Perfect Tuna Sandwich

Heavy duty, super packed Whole Foods Fourteener Bread (lightly toasted with butter in the oven), mixed greens, tuna w/ mayo, and fresh sliced tomatoes from Tita and Papa's garden.

Super yummy for a Sunday afternoon lunch. We paired this with yogurt and fresh, mixed berries.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beef Shells Supreme with Veggies

I made the Beef Noodle Supreme recipe from this site and of course I had to modify it (just because I wanted to use my veggies on hand and add a little spark). My mom used to make this recipe but instead of green onions, she'd use parsley.
I followed the recipe but added fresh spinach and asparagus to the sauce as well as fresh parsley to the cream cheese mixture. It turned out so well!! I like the canned tomato sauce rather than using a pre-made "Prego-type" sauce.
It wasn't a total kid pleaser, but honestly, what is these days? My kids don't like pizza, so don't bank on your kids not liking this (I loved it as a kid).

Ingredients I used:

1 lb ground beef
1 tblsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
3 small (8oz) cans of tomato sauce
1 package of cream cheese (spreadable is easiest, but if you get regular, let it sit out for an hour before making this meal)
1 small jar of sour cream (about 1 cup)
8-10 green onions (whites and greens, chopped)
handful of chopped fresh parsley (or about 1 tblsp of dry parsley)
handful of fresh spinach* (optional)
5 stalks of asparagus (cut into about 1/2 inch pieces) * (optional)
12-16 oz noodles (I've used egg noodles as well as medium shells)
2 cups of shredded cheese (cheddar or colby/jack)

First start the noodles in boiling water. While the water is boiling, brown the ground beef with the garlic and olive oil (if needed). Cook until it's no longer pink, then add the pasta sauce, salt and sugar. Let this simmer for a few minutes. Add the spinach and asparagus * (optional) and cook until the spinach has shrunken down.

While the pasta is simmering, mix together the softened cream cheese with the sour cream until smooth. Fold in the onions and fresh parsley. Set aside.

Once the pasta has cooked to al dente, drain, then layer on the bottom of a casserole dish.

Add the cream cheese mixture to the pasta and spread it out in an even layer on top.

Top with the meat sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 (or 340 for convection oven) for about 30 minutes. Watch to make sure the cheese doesn't burn or dry out.

Serve with salad and a nice Malbec or Chianti wine.

This is a great meal to double up on and freeze some for later. Just cook about 1 hr - 1.5 hours from a thawed state. With the recipe above, this made dinner for 4, lunch for 2 adults the next day, and a meal for 4 in the freezer. A pound of ground beef goes a long way.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Garbanzo Beans!!

Oh my lordy this is probably the best chocolate cake I've ever had!! And it doesn't have gluten!

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Put the chocolate chips into a microwave safe dish and nuke them for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 20 or 30 seconds to make sure they're mixed together and melted.

Mix the beans with the eggs in a food processor until smooth. Add the sugar and baking powder and give it another whirl to mix it all together.

Fold the beans into the chocolate and mix well. Pour into a greased and flour powdered 9 inch round cake pan and bake for 40 minutes on 350 degrees (or 340 in a convection oven).

Cool for several minutes in the pan and then reverse dump onto a large plate. Top with sprinkled confectioner's sugar, whipped cream, strawberries, or frosting.

So perfect!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Freezer Meals I'm Trying

BBQ Beef - Crock Pot - this was fantastic and so easy to thaw and eat!!

Beef Noodle Supreme - haven't tried yet but it is very similar to one my mom used to make.

Greek Style Fava Beans - scroll down. This was fantastic fresh with Lima Beans - will have to see how it freezes.

Beefy Rice Casserole - this was pretty good but got too crispy on the top cooking it after it was frozen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna Rolls

Ingredients (this feeds a family of 4)

8 uncooked lasagna noodles (can use more or less)
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups washed baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Cook the noodles 9 minutes, drain and set them out on a platter (cutting board, work surface, etc). Once they've cooled to the touch, spread two scoops (about two tablespoons) of ricotta on each noodle.

Next, spread about two spoonfuls of marinara on each noodle.

Now, spread some of the baby spinach on top.

Now roll.

Fill casserole pan (that you have already sprayed with non-stick spray).

Top with remaining marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella. Cook at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Bubbly goodness!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The best Brussels sprouts EVER!

These are absolutely the best Brussels sprouts I've ever had!!

Leave it to Simply Recipes to find me another great recipe! I think it's definitely important to blanch them first, as this seems to really add to the taste and texture of the sprouts. We'll definitely be making this one again!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cucumber and Pimm's

1/2 Pimm's
1/3 Ginger Ale
Slices of cucumber and lemon

Super tasty on a nice cool evening.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shrimp and Grits - my own combination!

So the Whole Foods Shrimp and Grits didn't satisfy me and the amount of work to accomplish that "bleh" was way too monumental.... soooooo I decided to make my own recipe - or rather combine a few. I ended up making grits (with garlic and butter) and topped them with shrimp scampi and peas. This turned out better than I expected. Kudos for spontaneous thinking!!

I basically made the grits like this:

Southern Grits

2 cups water (I used 4)
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup grits (I used 1 cup)
1 Tbl butter

Added* 2 cloves of chopped garlic

Use small heavy pot with thick bottom and tight fitting lid. Pour water into pot followed by remaining ingredients. Bring to full boil and immediately reduce to simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. The longer it simmers, the better it is.

And I made the shrimp like this (although I added an onion to the olive oil sauteing):



  • One standard sized bag of Shrimp (I used about 10 large shrimp for two adults)
  • Half of Garlic bulb (approx 5-6 cloves)
  • 4 tbsp of butter (I used about 2.5)
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • Few sprigs of freshly chopped Parsley (I omitted this and added a half an onion instead)
  • Dash of Olive Oil and S+P

*Optional- Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio- I definitely used this!!)

How to make Easy Shrimp Scampi (Garlic Butter Shrimp)


  • First rinse and peel your shrimp.

  • Chop the Garlic Cloves and Onions (or Parsley)

  • Start to fry shrimp in dash of olive oil (I actually sauteed the onions for about 3 minutes first), add Salt and Pepper and lemon juice. Pour 2 ounces of wine if desired, simmer for two minutes

  • Add the garlic, butter and Parsley (if using), let fry for 2-3 minutes (or until shrimp are pink and garlic is cooked)

  • Remove from heat and dish onto grits (be sure to smother the grits with the butter sauce)!

I also threw a bag of frozen peas onto the burner with a little bit of water (of course in a pan). When these were heated, I put them on the side of the main dish. These turned out to be a great addition to the entire meal because once the shrimp was gone, the extra grits and butter sauce went well with the peas!!

Sorry, we ate this faster than we could take a picture.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper

Do you ever have one of those nights that you just wish you were without kids again? Well this was one of those nights. I have to say, I prefer the Topo Chico to the sugar filled or diet tonic waters.

Whole Foods Muenster and Jalapeno Sliders

We bought the pre-made mini sliders at Whole Foods (they're a pretty good deal) as well as their mini buns. These turned out sooo good topped with fresh jalapeno slices and then Muenster cheese on top. Of course we left the jalapenos off for the boys, but they loved them!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

This week's Menu

Monday - Ravioli
Tuesday - Peruvian Soup al la Minuta
Wednesday - Asparagus Pesto Pasta
Thursday - Spaghetti w/Meatballs
Friday - Pizza night

Black Bean Soup (leftovers)
Turkey Sandwiches
Bean and Cheese Soft Tacos
Banana Bread

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grandma's Famous Banana Bread

My kids love this. The neighbor kids ask for these banana muffins every time they come over. I had to make another batch tonight. My grandma and mom always made these into loaves of bread. This makes for having to figure out how to keep the chocolate chips spread evenly throughout the bread (mine always fall to the bottom) and how to get the bread to fall out of the pan easily (I usually lose half the loaf to the oiled and floured pan - WTF?). Anyway, these silicone cupcake liners have been wonderful for us over the years. Here's a run down of the recipe from memory:

Mash 2-3 bananas in a bowl (old frozen bananas work well as do fresh ones)
In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of warm butter (my grandma called it spry - love that word) and 1.5 cups of sugar (I use a little less and use turbinado or pure cane sugar).
Mix in two eggs
Add 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix mix mix.
In a small measuring cup, combine 1/3 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar (to sour the milk).
Alternate adding bananas, then milk, then dark cocoa chips (optional) into the flour mix. Once you've mixed it all together, spread into about 18-24 muffin/cupcake tins and bake 350 for about 45 minutes (my oven is convection, so the timing may vary). When doing a loaf, it calls for an hour and 15 minutes cooking time (another reason to do the cupcakes).

Tuesday Lunches

I am pairing these with some organic peanut butter and jelly whole wheat bun sandwiches. I am also hoping that I can find these "all natural" cheese puffs again. They even came with a $1 off coupon! I should have bought all of the bags they had! I think the boys will eat the green cauliflower too. I'm not sure why they don't really like it when it's white... I guess it's not broccoli enough for them then?

Sockeye Salmon with Sunshine Rice

This Salmon with Sunshine Rice recipe from Whole Foods had such a cool name that I thought, "How can I not love this?" Well, I guess it's kind of like that really snoozer book that had the cover that just called your name. I don't think I'll make this one again :( I must admit, I made too many changes (cooking changes) and I don't usually like brown rice, so I think those are two major reasons for my unhappiness about this meal. Plus, it just took way too long. I didn't have a dutch oven (nor any type of big pot that could go in the oven) so I thought I'd research and find out how to do it in the crock-pot. That worked, but I just wasn't pleased with the overall taste and combination of the ingredients.

Without a step by step detail, I'll just post the pictures I took along the long, hungry journey.

If I would have left it here, it probably would have been good.

Adding the tomatoes was a bad idea for the recipe (in my opinion). I think a can of coconut milk would have done wonders for the flavors though!

I cooked the salmon separately in the oven and it actually came out just fine (I sprinkled it with salt and curry powder and drizzled with olive oil).

Recipes I'd like to try!!

Pea Hummus
Spinach and Cannellini Bean Dip
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Green Curry Broth
Summer Succotash with Bacon and Croutons
Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint
Crushed Peas with Smoky Sesame Dressing
Asparagus Pesto Pasta

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shrimp and Grits with Sweet Peppers

Pretty yummy Shrimp and Grits with Sweet Peppers from start to finish! I cheated and microwaved the bacon though - I used olive oil and butter to compensate for the lost bacon grease. It was still yummy though!!

Creative lens on the grits (thanks hubby)!

Onions, garlic and two bell peppers (red and yellow are my favorites!!)

Mixing in the shrimp, lemon and hot sauce.

Sprinkled bacon on top!

Waalaah! Edible to the nth degree!