Monday, March 19, 2012

Quinoa or Cous Cous Salad

This is my new favorite salad and I have a feeling I'll be eating it all Spring & Summer. Inspired by my chef friend, Lize. You're in for a vegetarian treat.

I made a big batch of the cous cous mix (see below) and used 1/4 of the bag as a hot side with the below mentioned Rib recipe. I then reserved the other 3/4 & chilled it for this salad.

You can store this salad for 2-3 days and it's still SO good!


1 package of Cous Cous (I used the Quinoa, Israeli Cous Cous, Small Garbanzo, etc. mix from TJ - sooo good), prepare as the bag/box indicates. Remember Quinoa has as much protein as meat, so it's heartier than Cous Cous, although my kids prefer the later.

1/2 pepper, diced. I used a yellow one, but you could use any color.

20 pit-less Kalamata olives, sliced in 1/2

1 small cucumber, diced (you can use the miniature variety or a Persian one).

1/2 Lemon, juice only - make sure you don't get any seeds when you squeeze

3-4T of EVOO (best quality, Spanish preferred for flavor)

Cilantro, 6 stems - leaves chopped

Lawry's Seasoning Salt, 3 shakes
Lawry's Garlic Salt, 3 shakes
Paprika, 2 shakes
Dill, 2 shakes

**Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate = the yummiest, lightest salad ever.

Today I packed this as my "sack lunch" on a field trip. Easy to pack and eat on the go.

Easy, Fall-Off -The-Bone, Ribs

Quick Sunday Meal (or any day) Get your crock pot ready. I turned it on at 8am and it was ready by 12noon (when we got back from church).

Rack of pork ribs, cut in 1/2 to fit in the crock pot.
1 C of Apple Cider vinegar
Lawry's seasoning salt
Lawry's garlic salt
1-2C Bulls Eye BBQ sauce (or your favorite), amount depends on how "saucy" you like your ribs.

1. Place ribs in the crock pot & season
2. Pour in vinegar, avoid pouring over pork since it might remove the salt.
3. Place on high for 4 hours.
4. Pour BBQ sauce over the top and let it cook for another 30min-1hour while you make your sides. See "patatas a la pobre" for a yummy potato side.

Roasted Cauliflower

Head of cauliflower
Lawry's Seasoning Salt, 5 shakes
Lawry's Garlic Salt. 5 shakes
Paprika, 3 shakes
EVOO, poured for 3-4 seconds =) (roughly 3-4T)

**Preheat oven to 400 (I roasted for 10 minutest @ 425 then reduced to 400)
1. Use a baking sheet (I cover it in tin foil so I keep the pan clean).
2. Chop up cauliflower into large florets.
3. Place cauliflower, seasoning & oil into a mixing bowl & hand toss.
4. Lay flat on baking sheet.
5. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes (until edges get a little golden but stem becomes translucent.)

**Serve alone as a side or appetizer OR add sauce.

Cheese Sauce
(Optional); Use as a Dip or Pour over.
1/2 Cube of butter
1/2 C of milk
2T of flour
1/4 C of shredded cheese
Garlic Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2t of Paprika
1/2t of dry mustard
1 t of Worcestershire sauce

1. Melt butter over med-high heat
2. Whisk in flour
3. As flour & butter begin to form, slowly add in milk - keep whisking!
4. Once mixed together and giving a "sauce" look, add in cheese - keep whisking! 5. Take OFF heat once mixed all together.
**You may need to reheat if you don't serve immediately b/c it may clump together.

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

As for most of my inventions, these ingredients are approximate. As your own chef, you'll have to gauge. Prep & Cook Time: Ready to serve in 30 minutes.


3C of chicken broth
1 can of coconut milk (I used the reduced fat from TJ. 1/4 of the fat - all flavor)
1 breast of chicken, sliced & cubed
2 Garlic Cloves, diced
4 Scallions
Red pepper flakes
Turmeric, dash
Paprika, dash
Sea Salt, 3-4 pinches
Shredded fresh ginger, optional if you have it and/or like it.
Mint leaves, for a little extra and for color (& if you like it.)
Hot sauce, Thai hot sauce preferred - to kick it up a notch

1. In a dutch oven, Saute until translucent - garlic and the white end of the scallions (save green for end)
2. Add in broth, coconut milk, chicken & seasoning - bring to a boil then reduce to med-high heat until chicken is cooked (about 10-15 minutes).
3. Add in green part of scallions (cut in half) let it simmer (for about 10 minutes).
4. Add in hot sauce to your liking and serve.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Faux BoBeau Brussels Sprouts




There is a restaurant in town called BoBeau. It's my high school friend's family restaurant. One of the favorite dishes: Brussels sprouts. Di-vine. Let me preface this by saying I have NEVER liked them. My mom didn't make them growing up. I tried them a few times in adulthood, hoping the nutritional value would offset my taste buds, but no. It has remained one of the few foods I wouldn't eat...until now. I carefully examined the ingredients and while I can't exactly mimic the fine chef's detail, I was able to make something close enough that my family flipped over.


Brussels sprouts (organic always tastes better), cut in 1/2
Red Onion, 1/2 & sliced and diced
Hard Salami, small cubes - roughly 1C
EVOO (I prefer Spanish, it has more flavor), about 2-3 Tablespoons
Few sprinkles of Lawry's Garlic Salt & Seasoning Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (2-3T)
Shaved Parmesan cheese

- this is the quick & easy version. See below for mods.
1. Preheat oven @ 400
2. Place sprouts & salami in a bowl, drizzle EVOO, salt & pepper over it. Toss.
3. Place on lined baking sheet with inside of sprouts facing down. Make sure cubed salami is even spaced throughout the pan. Make sure sprouts aren't too crowded.
4. Roast for about 30minutes (check may need longer by 10-15 minutes depending on oven)
5. Once they begin getting brown/black edges then take them out and flip them individually (so inside is facing up). Roast for another 5-10 minutes (be careful not to burn them).
6. Serve on a flat serving dish or bowl. Drizzle with balsamic. Generously sprinkle fresh shaved Parmesan over the the top..even the crumbles are good.

Enjoy! The crispy salami is so yummy too!

1. Flash fry the sprouts in a sauce pan w/ 1T of EVOO for about 2-3 minutes; constantly tossing before placing into the mixing bowl (step 2).

2. Use pancetta instead of hard salami.

3. Create a balsamic reduction to drizzle over sprouts at the end.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year :: Five New Recipe Trials

I tried 5 new recipes the first week of January and only three were worth sharing. Thankful to have a family that let's me experiment like this & indulges (or digests) my hobby.

All recipes were from Martha Stewart's "Great Food Fast" book. I love this book because it guides you to eat seasonally. One of the best things you can do for your immune system, overall energy & health.

Here is my quick review. You can google the recipe easily, if you're interested in trying.

#1 Mushroom Tart - Excellent. Great for entertaining. We had it for dinner. (see post)

#2 Garlic-Roasted Chicken & Broccoli Rabe- Excellent. Full of flavor, mild in spice & easy. (see post)

#3 Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce - Good. Must like pumpkin. I would probably use less puree & 2x more cheese next time. I enjoyed it, my husband didn't.

#4 Crispy Apricot Pork Chops - Blah. Dry & not much flavor.

#5 Baked Shells with Winter Squash - Attempted to make, but was missing squash so I didn't follow recipe at all. The result? A great new pasta bake invention. (see post "baked shells carbonara).

Baked Shells Carbonara

i attempted to make the MS "Baked Shells with Winter Squash" and then I forgot the squash! So I had to invent something else with what I had. The result! Divine.

4 T Olive Oil
1 Onion, Halved & thinly sliced
6 strips of bacon (use turkey if you're on a diet)
1/2 C whipping cream (use 1/2 & 1/2 if you're on a diet)
Coarse Salt & Pepper
1T oregano

1lb small pasta shells
Butter for the baking dish

1 C grated Parmesan cheese
3 slices of crusty baguette, cut into cubes (or you can use bread crumbs in a bind...add crushed corn flakes for added flavor).

1. Preheat oven @ 400. Butter the 9x13 dish. Heat oil in pan on medium-high heat. Add in chopped bacon & onion. May need to cover. Cook until bacon is done and onions are translucent and browned. Add in cream, salt & pepper and stir (do not let it curd) until mixed and heated through (about 2-3 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, cook shells in salted water for 2 minutes LESS than directions. Drain, reserving 1.5C of cooking water. Return pasta to pot.

3. Stir in bacon/onion/cream mixture AND 1/2C of Parmesan cheese. Transfer to baking dish.

4. Combine bread crumbs w/ remaining Parmesan and oregano. Season with salt & pepper. Top the pasta with bread crumb mixture; bake until golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

Mushroom Tart

This could be an appetizer, lunch or a light dinner (if shared!). Also from MS Great Food Fast book.


1 (from a 17.3-ounce package) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions [I used TJs whole wheat pizza crust for more of a pizza style.]
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 packages (10 ounces each) white (or crimini = more flavor) mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 package (10 ounces) fresh baby spinach
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place the pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score dough to form a 1-inch border. Using a fork, prick dough inside the border every 1/2 inch. Bake until golden, rotating pan once, about 15 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, toss onion with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking with cover on for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat remaining oil. Add mushrooms; cover and cook until tender and all liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Fold in spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes more. Drain any liquid.
4. Top dough with mushroom-spinach mixture. Scatter onion and goat cheese on top. Bake until cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Garlic-Roasted Chicken

Anyone else need a good cleanse as you kick off 2012. Garlic is one of the best things to cleanse, build up your immune system & prevent illness. If only I didn't have to avoid the human population for 48 hours after consumption, but it's worth the benefits. Dr. Weil eats 2 raw cloves {gag} everyday as part of his routine.

{Taken from Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast book}:: "Roasting softens and mellows garlic, turning it into a mild, delicious spread for crusty bread. Leftover chicken can be used in dishes like chicken enchiladas. The garlic tops serve as a rack for the chicken. Garlic bottoms are flipped halfway through to soak up juices." And wow...that garlic is SO good spread over fresh bread.

This chicken was moist, full of flavor & EASY! Enjoy.

Serve with your favorite sides. I served it with Sauteed Broccoli Rabe.

Serves 4-6; Prep: 10minutes; Total time: 1 hour, 10minutes

4 heads of garlic (see I wasn't messing around)
8 sprigs of fresh oregano (I used dried b/c I didn't have fresh)
2 whole chicken breasts (3.5lbs) rinsed and patted dry
2T olive oil
Coarse Salt & Fresh ground pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tops from garlic heads, reserving the bottoms; arrange the tops, cut sides down, in the center of an 11-by-17-inch roasting pan. Place 1 sprig of the oregano over each garlic top, and arrange the chicken breasts over the garlic.
2. Place the reserved garlic bottoms, cut sides up, next to the chicken in the pan. Drizzle the chicken and garlic bottoms with the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; place the remaining 4 sprigs of oregano on top.
3. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes; turn the garlic bottoms cut sides down, and rotate the pan. Continue roasting the chicken until the skin is browned, the juices run clear, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes more.
4. Pour the pan juices into a measuring cup; skim the fat from the top. Serve the juices with chicken and roasted garlic.

Dr. Oz & Frozen Vegetables?!

I watched a great episode on Dr. Oz last night (my latest insomnia addiction, episode after episode). Beyond this grocery list (which made me feel like a great mom & healthy individual since I purchase 99% of these), he also recommended buying frozen vegetables to save money.

Here is my take on his rationale. Most families will purchase large quantities of vegetables at the beginning of the week with the hope to eat them all in a few days (or at least by the end of the week). Unfortunately they end up only consuming 1/2 or less (wasting food & money) and not eating it in time to savor the freshness & nutrients. While fresh is always best, if they're not consumed within a few days most of the nutrients are lost. Remember most of our food has already been in transit for over a week! (yuck!) Local produce is supreme for this reason. So what's the alternative if you can't buy local? or don't have fresh on hand? Buy frozen so you can always incorporate a vegetable in your meal. Frozen vegetables are packed with nutrients and its easier to incorporate them with the correct portion size vs. overeating because "they're about to go bad."

I'm going to try a variety of frozen vegetables in 2012 and just maybe my son will eat more than his select favorites.