Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sesame Shrimp Soba Noodles

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to the Asian Supermarket near our house to look for bento lunch supplies. I didn't find anything I wanted, but I have trouble walking out of a store with nothing. I always feel like the owners are staring me down, calling me names in their heads. 

So we walked around for a while, checking out all of the bright packages we couldn't read and looking at bulk bins of things like tiny dried fish. I finally settled on a pack of wonton skins, 2 different sizes of wooden skewers, some cute plates and bowls, and a package of soba noodles. Shortly thereafter, we went to Trader Joe's, where I picked up a bottle of toasted sesame oil. There was a sale on shrimp at the regular grocery store, and suddenly I knew what we were having for dinner on Seafood Friday.

Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Kitchen Bucket List

Over the years, I have definitely grown more comfortable in the kitchen, but there are still a few foods that intimidate me. This year, I plan to tackle them all. Let me know if you see any good recipes for them so I have somewhere to start. Thanks!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

The first thing my mom taught me how to make was pancakes. The second thing she taught me was breaded chicken. I remember many, many nights standing at the counter and double-dipping chicken breasts into egg and bread crumbs. This turned out to be one of my all-time favorite dinners. As I got older, I learned that the egg and bread crumb combo could be applied to pretty much anything, like pork chops or zucchini, cube steak or eggplant. Now, I'll be honest. I love eggplant but the boys aren't really into it. But if you have boys that are anything like mine, if it's fried, they'll eat it. The first batch usually doesn't even make it to the sauce-and-cheese phase of the meal prep.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Baked Jicama Fries with Creamy Lime Dip

I've heard a lot about jicama (also known as a Mexican potato) but had never tried it, or even seen one. But the last time I was at the grocery store, there was a whole display devoted to the things. I picked one up and inspected its thick waxy peel and tried to smell something, anything, but it wasn't giving up any information. I figured I'd have to buy one if I wanted to see what this curious looking veggie was all about. 

I brought it home, peeled it, and cut it into pieces for everybody to sample. It had a very unique flavor, definitely apple-like, but different. It's kind of like an apple that isn't sweet. Not tart like a Granny Smith, just not sweet. And the texture is like if you crossed an apple with a raw potato, but very crunchy. (Yes, I have eaten raw potatoes, but we'll save that for another time.) I threw them in K's lunch and they were a smashing success. 

After days of eating these as-is, I decided it was time to experiment.  Everyone loves french fries, so I figured I'd play on that. They are great this way, but if you like heat, feel free to toss in a pinch of chili powder.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homemade Bread Crumbs

As I've mentioned about 327 times, I got a bread machine for my birthday. It is my most favorite thing in the whole kitchen (until the day I finally get a KitchenAid, that is) and I use it all the time. Like two or three times a week to the point where I do not buy bread at the store anymore. It tastes better, it's cheaper, and it only has the few ingredients bread should have. 

But for some odd reason, I was still buying whole wheat bread crumbs. That is, until I turned the canister around a few weeks ago. I'm not sure why I thought the ingredient list would be any less tragic than a loaf of bread with its 35 components, but I did. And then it hit me - I make my own bread, why not make my own bread crumbs? The whole thing is so simple and (my favorite part) it's made from something I was going to throw away. They are fresh and real and tasty and now my only problem is that I'm suddenly trying to coat everything in bread crumbs. This too shall pass.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Everything-but-the-flour Cookies

I am always on the lookout for meal cookies. You know, the ones that don't have added sugar and have lots of healthy ingredients so they can be eaten for breakfast on those mornings when your alarm clock goes on strike and you wake up 3 minutes before the school bus shows up. Or they can tide your kids over when they are starving and dinner isn't quite ready yet. Or they can keep you going on those days when you're so busy you forget to eat. 

So I was super excited when I came across this recipe over at My Whole Food Life. A few tweaks later and we were in cookie heaven. The base of the cookie itself is soft and chewy, with bits of sweetness from the raisins and chocolate chips. Healthy and satisfying, these cookies are a win-win! 


While I love to create my own recipes, I do watch a LOT of cooking shows for inspiration. I have a notebook full of famous-people-food that I love. Alton, Giada, Sandra Lee, Nadia, and Rachel Ray are some of my favorites. But the other day, I watched Kelsey Nixon make the most amazing sounding Smoky Panzanella with Market Vegetables. I couldn't wait - I went to the store that day to gather the ingredients. 

If you're not familiar with panzanella, it is an Italian bread and tomato salad traditionally made with day-old bread that soaks up this delicious homemade dressing. Kelsey adds cheese and a few other veggies to really take this one over the top. It's such a simple dish but the flavors come together so well and the bread soaks up the dressing and the basil screams summer and, well, I could go on and on about this. It's such an easy and perfect side dish, and it will only get better as summer heats up and tomatoes hit their peak. You should make it. Today. Now. You won't be sorry, I promise.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Garlic Knots

I love garlic knots. You know, those chewy little bits of pizza dough tied up all perfect with garlic and butter in every little nook and cranny. They taste so good, but I hate the price. Around here, the pizza shops charge $3.95 for 4 of them. That's crazy! For some dough that costs them like 2 cents to make with some garlic and butter thrown on top?? No, no no, it's definitely time to make my own.

Friday, March 15, 2013

BBQ Shrimp over Spinach Rice

When I was 13, I went to a barbecue at one of my mom's friend's houses. I'm not really into crowds of people, so I usually pick a spot in the corner and stick to it. This time I hung out with the kid that was manning the grill. Well, he wasn't really a kid at the time; he was 23. I say "kid" now because I am almost 10 years beyond that, but I was 10 years his junior back then - perspective is everything!

Anyway, in addition to the standard burgers, dogs, and chicken, he made barbecue shrimp. I thought this was quite an odd pairing, but he insisted I try it as he taught me how to make them. We ate them straight off the grill and they were so, so good. The sweetness of the shrimp and the smokiness of the barbecue sauce are a surprisingly amazing combination. To this day, it is still one of my favorite shrimp recipes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kahlua Ice Cream (no ice cream maker needed)

I have always wanted an ice cream maker for as long as I can remember. I browse through kitchen stores quite frequently, but none of the machines ever seemed to scream "Take me home!" until recently. I found it on the clearance shelf for $12. It was tiny and it must have been the most bare-bones model known to man. But it was mine. 

So we brought it home, did all the prerequisite hot soapy water washing, read the instructions three times (I am a fine print freak) and got started on a simple vanilla recipe. About 10 minutes in, we ran out of ice. I'm still not sure how that's even possible since the thing barely makes more than a pint and I had plenty of ice on hand. Thank goodness we only live a few hundred feet from a convenience store or I may have cried. It must have gone through half of a party bag of ice by the time it was finished. It looked good, so we said a quick prayer and tossed it in the freezer to "firm up overnight". I got up early the next morning to sample our hard work. It was terrible. I can't even explain it, it was that bad. It thinned out and changed color and tasted like freezer burnt vanilla milk. 

The bad news? The ice cream maker is now an oversized paperweight.
The good news? I have now devoted my life to creating ice cream that does not require an ice cream maker. 
The best news? This Kahlua ice cream is probably the easiest and absolute best ice cream ever and I cannot wait for you to try it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tater Tot Casserole

I have a TON of cookbooks. I have ones that are for specific meals, like desserts, pasta, and chicken. I have others that are geared towards cooking methods, like cooking in foil pouches or using slow cookers. I have a few dedicated to TV shows and cooking contest winners. And I have a bunch that cover everything from soup to nuts. But my absolute favorite cookbooks are the ones that only have recipes using 4 or 5 ingredients. This recipe came from one of those, maybe 7 years ago, and it used to be one of the most requested dishes in our house. I haven't made it in a while, but Andrew has been begging for it lately, so I finally gave in. It's quick, it's easy, it's a real family-pleaser, and I'll bet you already have all of the ingredients on hand.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Oatmeal Almond Fruit Bars

I recently went to Trader Joe's for the first time. Among a million other cool things, I picked up a jar of Organic Super Fruit spread. It was hiding in a row of cute little jars on the very bottom shelf under the specialty peanut butters and I just had to have it. We brought it home and tried a tiny bit straight out of the jar to see how it tastes. While it was really, really good, it seemed a little too sophisticated for plain old peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, so it sat on the counter while I waited for my muse. Then I remembered we used to eat a lot of toaster pastries and breakfast fruit bars. I thought this might be just the thing I needed to create a homemade version that was versatile enough for breakfast or dessert. OMGosh - where have these been all my life??

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bangin' Black Bean Burgers

We LOVE burgers in our house. Beef is definitely our first pick, but I've been working on getting the boys to branch out. They didn't mind the Very Veggie Quinoa and Bean Burgers, and they recently started liking turkey burgers. I figured I'd push my luck a little more and see how far I could get. I snuck a can of black beans into the kitchen and got to work. The smell won Andrew over before he even tasted it (they smell amazing) and the fact that they look very beef-like had K diving in without a word. All in all, they were a total success!

3 Grain Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Crispy treats are one of the greatest inventions ever. Think about it - you take a cereal that no one would ever eat without 3 pounds of sugar sprinkled on top and turn it into something totally edible by mixing it with sugary marshmallows. Suddenly kids everywhere are clamoring for the things. 

It has been my experience that most all natural cereals that are actually good for you don't taste all that great on their own (think fiber twigs). I have also learned that if you bring some buttery marshmallow goodness to the party, everything tastes better - even cereal that resembles tree bark. Even so, I left the fiber twigs at the store and made these with three simple puffed cereals that resembled the originals enough to make any kid happy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Peanutty Udon Noodles with Veggies

Andrew loves pasta. K is obsessed with peanut butter. I am all about the veggies. This recipe marries all three. The best part? You can customize it any way you want. Switch the veggies up, use regular pasta, try a specialty flavor of peanut butter. Make it your way - don't forget to come back and tell me all about it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

French Toast Sticks

Between sports, music lessons, doctor's appointments, and everything else busy moms need to take care of these days, boxes of processed food and the local drive-thru seem like much easier options when it comes to feeding the family. I know because that is how we used to eat. But if you plan ahead, you can have homemade food ready whenever you need it.

The Best Chicken Salad

Arby's sells amazing chicken salad. You can get it on bread or wrapped up in a tortilla. It has grapes and nuts and a tangy sweetness that keeps you coming back for more. Then Arby's closed. Well, the one near my house closed. The next closest one is almost an hour away. I had to figure out how to duplicate this awesomeness at home, and I finally nailed it. It's a little different, and I think it might actually be better than the original. I could eat this every single day and be a very happy Mama. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sweet and Sassy Roasted Veggies

I recently asked my Facebook readers if they had any recipe requests. The first response was from my dear friend Lynda, asking for healthy roasted veggies. Not knowing her favorites, I set out to create a recipe that I felt would work for a variety of vegetables so it could be used year round with whatever was in season. They turned out even better than I thought they would - I hope Lynda agrees.

Avocado Hummus

I am a huge hummus fan. I have recently forsaken all other dips in favor of this Middle Eastern spread. I particularly like the one that has extra minced garlic piled on top in the container. Yes, I said container. I, Foodie Mama, buy my hummus. It's embarrassing to admit, especially since there are so few ingredients involved and only one prep step, but every hummus recipe I have ever tried turned out barely edible. Until this one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Magic Double Berry Coconut Cobbler

I have been craving something fruity and summery lately. I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted, but I knew I'd know it when I saw it. Then I went to the grocery store and they had the most beautiful blackberries. Now I don't buy blackberries very often because I rarely see them for less than $5 for a tiny 6 oz. container, but they were on sale for two bucks! I got two of them and some strawberries and I knew a cobbler was in our future. To really up the ante on my summer craving, I used coconut oil instead of butter. It added such a nice touch to the sweet berries and the crispy topping. It was the perfect thing to tide me over these last few days of winter.

Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas

Andrew makes the most amazing beef enchiladas. He uses corn tortillas and a ton of cheese, and they are so, so good. He knew somebody whose sister had a friend who was from Mexico and she made "authentic food". She was kind enough to share a few of her recipes with him. Because of this, Andrew is the go-to guy around here whenever we want mexican food.

I make tacos. From a packet. That's about where my expertise ends. But I decided to give it a shot and see what I could come up with. Andrew looked at me kind of funny when I told him I was making enchiladas and no, it wasn't his recipe. It only got worse when I started talking about beans and rice and such. But when it was all over, he was hooked and we were fighting over the leftovers. K even cleaned his plate before I was half done, and that's saying something. Move over Andrew, Mama's going south of the border.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Italian Herb Dressing

Bottled salad dressing is expensive! And don't even get me started on the funky things they put in there. This simple dressing is perfect over your favorite lunchtime greens or for marinating meat.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chocolate Pumpkin Mini Muffins

We love my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, but they are a little too big to fit in K's bento-style lunch box. Besides, him and dairy aren't getting along at the moment so that means the chocolate chips were a no-go. I reworked the recipe to make smaller muffins that skip the chips. They worked out beautifully and he can have them whenever he wants - breakfast, lunch, after school, or as a bedtime snack. The cocoa makes them decadent, the pumpkin makes them moist, and the oats make them a "healthier" option. You (and your kids) are going to love them!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Baked "Fried" Pickles

I am a Southern girl trapped in a Northerner's body. I used to live in North Carolina and I can't wait to move back. I listen to country music. I can rock a southern accent like it's the cool thing to do. I adore sweet tea and chicken fried steak and lots of other cowboy-type fare. Lately, fried pickles have become a popular trend down in the South. While I can't bring the girl to the country, I can certainly bring the country to the girl.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...