Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday: Spaghetti with Meatballs

 
There's nothing like homemade meatballs. These ones are especially tasty and super easy to make. This recipe came from a special edition magazine that FamilyFun published called Dinnertime! It is AWESOME! I found it at Walmart's magazine rack, and if you have kids, I HIGHLY recommend it. 
 
I only made one small modification to the original recipe. It called for frying the meatballs in oil over the stove, but I decided to go the healthier route and bake them instead. You can easily make these with ground turkey or chicken...see Change It Up below for alternatives. You will most likely have leftover meatballs...either serve them in a savory sandwich the next day for a tasty lunch or freeze them individually on a baking sheet to use whenever you need them. 

Meatballs Recipe
Serves: 8 Prep: 15 minutes Bake: 25 minutes
 
1 cup breadcrumbs (or 2 slices of bread in the food processor)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 lbs ground lean beef
2 eggs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 1/2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375* F. Soak bread in the water in a small bowl. Gently squeeze the bread, and discard any excess water and transfer to a large bowl. Add the ground beef through pepper to the bread. Stir mixture with a spoon until well combined. 
2. Shape into 2 inch balls. Place on to a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15-25 minutes until meatballs have hardened and are browned. Serve with spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce Recipe
Serves: 4 Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 27 minutes
 
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, Italian style 
2 leaves fresh basil, torn into bits or 1 tsp dried basil 
salt
1/2  lb spaghetti 

1.In a large skillet, sprayed with cooking spray, add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add garlic. Cook 1 more minute. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Sprinkle salt to taste. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook it over low heat for 15 minutes. 
2. Pour half the sauce into a blender, and puree. Return mixture to skillet. Cook spaghetti for about 7 minutes in boiling water. Serve sauce over spaghetti and topped with a couple meatballs. YUM!

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Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Bake meatballs ahead of time, keep in fridge and then reheat when needed. 
~Cook tomato sauce ahead of time, and keep in fridge until ready to use.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Try ground chicken, turkey or pork instead of beef.  
~If you are trying to cut down on carbs, serve this sauce and meatballs over spaghetti squash instead.
~Use Romano or Asiago cheese instead of Parmesan.
~Add a couple shakes of chili powder to add a little punch. 
~Buy 1 14oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes and 1 14oz can of regular diced tomatoes if you like your tomato sauce spicy.

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Tuesday: Pretzel Crusted Chicken Fingers with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

 
Does anybody else get their kids involved with preparing dinner? I love finding kid-friendly things for them to do in the kitchen, so they can have some kind of ownership of the meal. I've noticed when they help make something, they are more likely to eat it. For the pretzel crusted chicken, the kids helped me crush the pretzels in a big zip-lock bag and mix the honey-mustard dip together with a wooden spoon.  When daddy got home that night, they proudly told him that they helped make dinner, and that it was going to be yummy. They were right, they were delicious! This recipe also came from FamilyFun's special edition magazine Dinnertime! I am so excited about this magazine, that I can honestly say, I will probably be making all 98 recipes they have in it!

Pretzel Chicken Recipe
6 servings

 1/4 cup mayonnaise (light preferred)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 1/4 lb chicken tenders
3 cups hard sourdough pretzel nuggets (I used Snyder's of Hanover Sourdough Nibblers) 

1. Mix mayo, mustard and chicken in a large ziplock bag, coat it and stick in fridge for 15 minutes. 
2. Heat oven to 425* Degrees. Put pretzels in a large ziplock bag. Crush them with a meat mallet or rolling pin until course crumbs are formed and pea sized chunks. Pour 2/3 of mixture into a shallow bowl.
3. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Take chicken out of bag, and dredge in the pretzel crumbs. After every 3-4 tenders, add more pretzel crumbs to dish. Put tenders on the baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. 
 Bake for about 18 minutes. 


Honey-Mustard Sauce Recipe
6 servings

 3 TB mayonnaise
2 TB whole grain mustard ( I didn't have this...just used 3 TB Dijon and it turned out fine)
2 TB honey
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice 

1. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Serve with the tenders and a crunchy vegetable like broccoli or cauliflower that has been slightly steamed.

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Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Crush pretzels and keep in zip-lock bag until ready to use. 
~Marinate chicken in bag ahead of time for up to 24 hours. 
~Make dipping sauce ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to use.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Serve with baked sweet potatoes instead of broccoli.  
~Use crushed cornflakes, saltine crackers or breadcrumbs instead of pretzels.  
~Add parmesan cheese to the pretzel crumbs for a cheesy flavor. 
~Sprinkle some Italian seasoning on top of the chicken tenders. 

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Wednesday: Asian Pulled-Pork Sandwiches with Waldorf Coleslaw

 
Need a break from making dinner one night? Pop all the ingredients for this tasty sandwich into the slow-cooker one morning, and VOILA you have am effortless meal for dinner.You can also make the coleslaw the night before, but make sure you don't mix the dressing in until it is ready to be served. Our family loves coleslaw, and I couldn't wait to try this Waldorf version of it. It did not disappoint, and went well with the pulled-pork sandwiches. 
Most of the meals I make, I take pictures of them outside where the light is so much better than in our dark house. Since our backyard is shaded when dinner time comes, I usually have to take pictures in our front yard that still has some good sunlight hitting it. There are two thoughts that come to mind when I do this nightly routine: My neighbors probably think I'm crazy and are coming up with all kinds of stories about WHY I would be taking pictures of our food. Or, they might think I have this huge ego about what I make and am displaying this yummy food to the whole neighborhood to show off my mad cooking skills.

Sandwich Recipe
5 servings
 
1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 1/2 TB ketchup
1 1/2 TB rice vinegar
4 TB honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TB fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder (both hoisin and five-spice powder can be found at your local grocery store in the asian food aisle)
2 lbs butt pork roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 inch chunks (beef brisket works too)
5 buns or english muffins 

1. Add soy sauce through five-spice powder into a slow cooker and whisk to combine. Add pork and mix to combine. Cover and cook for 8 hours. (Note: If you have a newer model slow cooker like I do, you might want to check the pork after 4 hours. That's when mine was done. Newer models seem to run a LOT hotter than the older ones. Anybody else experiencing this? )
2. When pork is done, take out of slow cooker, shred with two forks. 
3. Add shredded pork back to sauce in slow cooker. Place on two toasted bun halves with sliced onion and fresh sliced tomatoes. Serve with Waldorf coleslaw.

Waldorf Coleslaw Recipe
6 servings
 
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup yogurt
2 TB mayonnaise
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB agave syrup, maple syrup or honey
8 oz coleslaw mix or broccolini mix
1 Granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. In a large bowl, whisk orange juice through syrup together. Add the rest of the ingredients to the dressing, and toss to combine. Refrigerate up to 2 days.

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Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Make coleslaw ahead of time and keep refrigerated. 
~Make slow-cooked meal ahead of time, keep refrigerated, and warm up when ready to use.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~This recipe can be made with chicken breasts, beef brisket, etc. use your favorite meat.  
~Instead of apples try to diced peaches or pears. 
~Replace grapes with blueberries or pitted cherries. 
~Add dried cranberries, raisins or dried cherries.

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Thursday: Caprese-style Chicken rolls with Fresh Salad

 
I love the blend of fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato all rolled up in a pinwheel. Taking a bite, made me feel like I was sitting at a red and white checkered table in an Italian Cafe with grape vines hanging over lattices and violin music playing at the town square nearby.  Serve with an Italian style salad, and you've got yourself a healthy meal. Delizioso! 

Chicken Rolls Recipe
Serves: 4 Prep: 15 minutes Grill: 15 minutes
 
4 chicken cutlets (1 1/2 lbs) (my grocery store were out of cutlets, so I just bought chicken breasts and then pounded them with a meat mallet) 
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tomatoes, cored and sliced (I just used a handful of cherry tomatoes cut up) 
1 TB olive oil 

1. Preheat your BBQ to medium. Arrange cutlets on a single layer on a cutting board. Season cutlets with salt and pepper. Divide basil among the 4 cutlets in a layer, then add mozzarella, and then tomatoes.
 2. Roll up chicken and poke a toothpick in each one to secure. Brush rolls with 1 TB olive oil. Season outside with salt and pepper.
3. Add chicken rolls to grill, cover and grill, turning occasionally. Cook until golden-brown and cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a clean cutting board. Let stand for 5 minutes, take toothpicks out. Slice cross wise and serve with a yummy salad. 

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Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Shred cheese and cut up tomatoes ahead of time. Keep refrigerated. 
~If you are using chicken breasts, flatten them with a meat mallet ahead of time. 

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Replace regular tomatoes with sun-dried ones.   
~Instead of mozzarella cheese use monterrey jack, use cilantro instead of basil and add a couple shakes of chili powder for more of a Mexican flavor. 
~Use spinach instead of basil

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Friday: Pork and Mango Stir-fry with Jasmine Brown Rice

 
One of our favorite go-to meals is stir-fry. Several years ago, I was trying a diet called Macrobiotic eating, and it focused on old Japanese methods for cooking. During that diet trial, we probably had rice once or twice a day. After we stopped eating macrobiotic meals, for several years we didn't want to have anything to do with rice. I'm glad we are over that stage, and LOVE rice again. It is so healthy for you and the brown variety provides a great source of fiber. As most of you know, I LOVE lot's of color in my meal, and this Ellie Krieger recipe delivers that to it's fullest.

Stir-Fry Recipe
4 servings
 
3/4 cup chicken broth, low sodium (didn't have this on hand, used vegetable broth) 
2 tsp cornstarch
4 tsp canola oil
1 lb lean pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 TB ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 lb snow peas or snap peas
1/4 cup dry sherry or cooking wine
3 TB soy sauce, low-sodium preferred
1/4 cup Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (This seemed too spicy to me, I used 1/8 tsp of chipotle powder, or you can just leave the red pepper flakes)
1 large firm and ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
3 cups cooked brown rice 

1.Whisk together broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved. 
2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add pork and stir-fry for about 4 minutes. Transfer meat to plate. 
3. Heat remaining 2 tsp of oil, to the same skillet. Add onions, peppers, ginger and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes until vegetables soften. Add snow or snap peas, cornstarch broth, sherry, soy sauce, five-spice powder and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. Cook another 3 minutes. Return pork to pot. Add mango and heat through about 2 minutes. Serve over brown rice. 

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Plan and Prep Ahead


Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Chop up all vegetables and keep refrigerated until time of use. 
~Make sure to cook rice ahead of time. 
~Stir fry pork and keep in fridge until ready to use.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Use cubed chicken instead of pork. 
~Try with cut up tofu instead of meat for a vegetarian flare.
~Instead of mango try cut up orange slices.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday: Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream

 
We don't eat out a ton, but if we ever go to a Mexican Restaurant, one of my favorite meals is fish tacos. I love the cilantro and lime combination, on top of flaky white fish all wrapped up in a soft corn taco. When I saw this recipe in an Ellie Krieger cookbook, I had to try it right away. I'm glad I did, because it was so yummy! If you prep this meal, it only takes 7 minutes to cook everything! That's the beauty with white fish like mahi mahi, halibut or tilapia...it cooks in under 10 minutes! Does that get anybody motivated to try it? :)

Fish Tacos Recipe
4 servings
2 TB olive oil
2 TB lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 lb white flaky fish, like tilapia, mahi-mahi or halibut
1/2 cup plain yogurt, non-fat preferred
2 TB mayonnaise
1/8-1/4 tsp chipotle chile pepper powder (see "Change it Up" for substitutions)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups green cabbage, shredded (see "Change it Up" for substitutions)
1/2 cup corn kernels (thawed if using frozen)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Lime wedges, optional

1. In a small bowl combine oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour into a large plastic seal able bag, place fish inside, seal, shake it up a bit and let marinate in fridge for 20 minutes.
2. Put the yogurt in a strainer lined with a paper towel. Let drain for 20 minutes. Check out this link that explains it more in detail. Greek Yogurt
3. Remove fish from marinade and grill on a preheated grill or nonstick grill pan over medium high heat for about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through. Put fish on a plate, cover with tin foil to keep warm.
4. Combine thickened yogurt, mayo and chipotle pepper.
5. Heat tortillas on the grill or grill pan for 30 seconds on each side. 
6. Flake fish with a fork. Top each tortilla with 1 TB of chipotle cream, fish, cabbage, corn and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges if so desired. Delicious!

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Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Make chipotle cream ahead and keep in fridge until ready to use.
~Marinade fish ahead of time, and keep in fridge without marinade until ready to use.
~Chop up cabbage, cilantro ahead and leave in fridge until ready to use.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Instead of cabbage use lettuce cut into strips
~If you don't like cilantro, use parsley instead.
~Not a big fish person? Use cut up chicken or beef instead for chicken or beef tacos.
~Can't find chipotle pepper powder where you live? Replace with smoked paprika or chili powder.

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Tuesday: Mushroom-Beef Burger with Colorful Broccoli Slaw

 
We finally got around to cleaning out the BBQ for the summer. Boy, was it a mess. Guess that's what happens when you don't touch it for 9 months! This is hard to admit, but I am way out of my comfort zone with the BBQ. I can make meals on the stove or in the oven all day, but when it comes to the BBQ, something always gets burned, overcooked or undercooked. Besides, cooking on the BBQ is supposed to be a man's job, right? :) Okay, no excuses...I just never really got around to learning how to cook stuff on it.  My husband Travis loves to BBQ and is quite good at it, but during the week there just isn't enough time. So, I am going to try to tackle the beast this summer and become an avid BBQ-er. So, if any of the pictures look a little "crispy" you'll know why. 
This is a "healthier" version of your typical beef burger in a hamburger bun, because of the added mushrooms, extra-lean ground beef and it's nested between an english muffin instead of a huge hamburger bun. My kids can never fit one of those mega hamburger buns between their chubby little hands, so english muffins work a lot better for us.

~Anybody have any good tips on using the BBQ?~

Burger Recipe
4 servings
 
Cooking Spray
8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed ( I didn't find these in my grocery store, so I substituted with baby bella mushrooms-chopped)
1 small onion or 2 shallots, chopped
1 lb extra-lean ground beef
3 TB reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tsp tomato paste
4 english muffins, split and toasted
1/2 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded or sliced
3 dill pickels

1. Preheat your grill to medium. In a skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray, cook mushrooms about 5 minutes. Add 2 TB water, cook for a couple more minutes until water is evaporated or mushrooms are soft. Transfer to a coliander, and once the mushrooms have cooled, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of them. Place in a medium sized bowl, and set aside. 
2. Wipe skillet out with paper towel, spray with cooking spray again, and cook onion over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add half of the onion and ground beef to mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Form mixture into 4 patties. 
3. Transfer remaining onion to a small bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and tomato paste. Toast english muffins. Spread the mayo mixture onto the bottoms of each english muffins half. Divide half of the lettuce among each of the muffin bottoms. Add patties to the grill. Cook for about 4 minutes. Flip, divide cheese among each burger. Cover with foil and cook until melted, about another 2 minutes. Stack patties on to muffin bottoms, top with pickles, remaining lettuce and set english muffin tops in place. Serve with colorful broccoli slaw.  

Broccoli Slaw Recipe
4 servings
  I love how healthy this coleslaw version is. It uses mostly non-fat yogurt for the dressing and instead of your traditional cabbage it uses grated broccoli and carrot. Add some roasted sunflower seeds and cranberries to top it off! So yummy!


1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt, non-fat preferred (happen to have regular yogurt at home? Check out this link to find out how to make your plain-jane yogurt into greek style. Greek Style Yogurt )
3 TB mayonnaise
2 TB lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 12 oz package of broccoli slaw mix, or use the stalks from 1 large head of broccoli and 1 large carrot
1/4 cup shelled roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1.Whisk in a large bowl the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper together. If using whole broccoli stalks and carrot, peel of hte tough outer layer of the broccoli stalks and trim off 1/4" from the bottom. Peel carrot, then shred the broccoli stalks and carrot in a food processor with the shredder attachment. Add shredded broccoli and carrots or broccoli slaw mix to the dressing and toss to coat. Stir in sunflower seeds and cranberries. Serve with mushroom-beef burger. This makes the perfect summer side dish, especially at potlucks or BBQ's!
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Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Form burgers ahead of time, place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cover with seran wrap and keep in fridge until ready to use. 
~Make broccoli slaw ahead of time and keep in fridge.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Try using ground turkey or chicken or a mix of different kinds.  
~Add green onions instead of onions. 
~This burger would be yummy with 1/4 defrosted corn.
~Use cabbage instead of broccoli slaw mix. 
~Throw in some dried cherries instead of cranberries.  

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Extra-Sharp Cheddar 

What I like about using extra-sharp cheddar in most of my recipes is you don't need to use as much to get great flavor in your meals. That means overall your food will be less fat and calories! Can anybody say WHOOHOO? :)

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Wednesday: Moroccan Tagine with Tri-Colored Couscous

 
I had this Vegetarian Times recipe sitting on my counter top for at least 3 weeks, with good intentions of making it. Honestly, I was hesitant. I wanted to try a dish that we have never had before, but was unsure how my family would like it. I might as well let you know right now...I'm a people pleaser. I really want my family to enjoy the meals I cook for them, and sometimes get disappointed when I put in a lot of hard work and the meal just doesn't turn out that great or it is not to our liking. That's one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to share recipes our family has tried and really enjoys, so some of them might become your family favorites as well.

There was a big sigh of relief coming from my end of the table, when we all enjoyed this spiced Moroccan meal. :) We were already familiar with couscous, and have enjoyed it in other recipes, but we don't usually put chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), dried apricots and black olives in the same meal. Check out more about what a
"Tagine" is at the bottom of this post.

Tagine Recipe
6 servings
 
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 TB olive oil
1 leek, cut into 1 inch circles
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or a 15oz can, rinsed and drained)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 dried apricots, quartered
1/2 cup dry-cured black olives, optional (we used kalamata)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Combine the first 5 ingredients (spice blend) in a small bowl. Set aside. 
2. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and bell pepper, saute for 3 minutes. 
 Add potatoes, chickpeas and garlic. Mix in the spice blend. Cook for 30 more seconds. 
 Stir in apricots, olives and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes at medium-low heat, or until potatoes are tender. Serve over couscous and sprinkle cilantro on top. 

Note: Don't do what I did...I read the recipe wrong and started cooking the tagine stew in a skillet instead of a pot. After these pictures were taken, I had to pour the ingredients into a soup pot because they didn't all fit. My punishment was I had to wash extra dishes that night! :)
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Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Chop up all the veggies and keep in fridge until time of use. 
~Mix spice blend together and keep at room temperature until ready to use.
~If using dry chickpeas, make ahead of time and keep in fridge or freeze until time of use.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Use your favorite bean instead of chickpeas. 
~Mix up a different spice blend like oregano, basil and thyme for an Italian flavor instead of Moroccan.
~Skip the couscous and add this stew over rice, bulgur or orzo pasta.
~Instead of leeks try 2 scallions (green onions) chopped up. 
~Replace dried apricots with dried cherries or cranberries for a different flavor. 
~Chop up fresh parsley instead of cilantro.

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Moroccan Tagine


A tagine is a traditional North African dish that is slow-cooked inside a ceramic or clay cooking vessel. The bottom of the cookware is a wide and circular shallow dish that is used for serving and cooking, but the top of it is shaped into a dome or cone. Normally, the tagine stew contains meat, chicken or fish with lot's of veggies or fruit with it, but vegetables can be cooked in it alone as well. Learned something new today? I sure did!

Thursday: Chicken-Grape Skewers with Garden Lentil Pilaf

 
I saw this recipe in an Ellie Krieger cookbook and happened to have lentils sitting in the freezer (Seriously...who has lentils in their freezer? Me apparently!) waiting to be put into a yummy dish. Also, I bought some wooden skewers about 7 years ago, with good intentions of using them on the BBQ, and NEVER made anything with them. They have been sitting in my utensil drawer all this time... I'm surprised termites haven't gotten to them yet! So, I brushed off the dust from the skewers, defrosted the lentils, and whipped this meal together fairly quickly. 
I found out this week that my kids LOVE green grapes. I used to always buy the red ones, because I heard somewhere that they were better for you, had more vitamins...blah, blah, blah. My kids never really got into them. Bought green ones for this dish, my kids downed them. Guess I'm getting green ones from now on.

Chicken Skewer Recipe
4 servings
 
2 TB olive oil
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
8 skewers
1 1/2 cups seedless green grapes

1. In a small bowl combine oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, cumin, coriander and salt. Pour into a large plastic seal able bag, place chicken inside, seal, shake it up a bit and let marinate in fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes, but no longer than 4 hours.While the chicken is marinating, soak the skewers in water if they are wooden (ahem...I somehow missed these instructions, so I just ran them over cold water minutes before sticking them on the BBQ...they came out a little crispy...make sure you soak them :) ! )
2. Alternating between chicken and grapes, thread them on the skewers. Spray your grill with a grilling spray so these baby's won't stick. Turn grill to medium-high heat. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side. Sprinkle with mint and serve with lentil pilaf. 

Garden Lentil Pilaf Recipe
  
1 cup green lentils
2 cups water
2 TB olive oil
2 TB diced shallots
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup (1/2 pint) grape tomatoes, halved 
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 TB lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

1. Place lentils in a pot with water, bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes until lentils are tender but hold their shape. Drain water, and set aside. 
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, lentils, basil, mint and parsley to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for another minute. Take off from heat, and stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve warm with chicken skewers.

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Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Marinate chicken ahead of time.
~You can even skewer the meat and grapes ahead of time and keep on a plate, covered with saran wrap until you are ready to fire up the grill.
~Make lentil pilaf ahead of time and keep in fridge until time of use. Just reheat.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Instead of chicken try beef or pork. 
~Try lime juice instead of lemon for the marinade.
~Replace green grapes with pineapple chunks, bell pepper, or whatever sounds good to you at the time!
~Use orzo pasta or brown rice instead of lentils for a different kind of pilaf.

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Friday: Salmon-Asparagus Orzo Salad with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette

 I think it's nearing the end of asparagus being in season, but our grocery store still had it so I decided to make this very easy but delicious Cooking Light meal. I usually make this dish for lunch, but thought it would make a good dinner as well. This salad makes great leftovers, so make sure to leave a little extra for the next day. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Egg in a Basket Topped Asparagus & Smoked Turkey

 
About a year ago during the Christmas season, we were cruising through Walmart (that's the only way you can walk through Walmart...cruising! )when my daughter Hannah started tugging on my shirt and saying, "Mommy, mommy look at those over there." I looked where she was pointing to and saw a huge cylinder box labeled 99 cookie cutters for every season. My first thought was, "Seriously, couldn't they have just made it a 100 ?! " My daughter brought me back to reality, "Mommy, I want to make cookies with you. Wouldn't those be the perfect ones to make cookies with ?" How can you say NO to that? So I caved in, and bought the box of cookie cutters, still feeling jibbed of that one cookie cutter that they left out. 

Lunch Idea: "It's not easy being green" Salad

 
I usually LOVE color to my salad, but I thought it would be fun to go monotone for once. There was some leftover pesto in the fridge, begging to be eaten, and fresh lettuce in the garden ready to be picked, so I said, "Let's go green today." Ironically, I wore a green shirt while eating my green salad; apparently my clothes have to match the color of what I'm eating today. Oh! I think I might have just come up with a fun, new idea for the kids' lunches; pick out your favorite shirt, and then you have to eat for lunch whatever matches your shirt color! Brilliant! :) Hmm, blue might be a hard one...but you can always go for yogurt with blueberries or blue sprinkles! :) 

So, the salad I threw together for lunch today included red leaf lettuce, spinach, green grapes halved, pumpkin seeds, sliced cucumbers, a couple leaves of fresh mint and I mixed 1 TB of yogurt with 1/4 cup of pesto for the dressing (I didn't use all the dressing, about half...so now I can have the rest for my salad tomorrow!).  

Try this yummy pesto recipe. It's the perfect dip, dressing or sauce for summertime. 


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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~More green things to throw in to your salad? Steamed asparagus, raw broccoli, snap peas, green peas, green olives, green bell pepper, sliced green apples and green onions.
~Some things to try for an orange salad? Orange bell peppers, carrots, sliced oranges, mandarins or tangerines, orange hued tomatoes.
~Going for a red? Red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red apples, red radishes.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday: Farm Fresh Beet Stacked Burger

 
The word that best describes this burger is FRESH. The herb infused goat cheese topping used in this Rachel Ray recipe reminds me of a German spread called Quark. Germans like to spread it on their toast for breakfast for a light and fresh start to their day. To make the burger a little leaner, I used half ground turkey breast, half ground chicken, but you can use whatever meat you prefer. Enjoy!

Burger Recipe
4-6 servings
 1 beet, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1 1/2 lbs ground meat (chicken, lean turkey or lean beef)
1/3 cup plus 1 TB flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped or grated
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
3 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup sour cream, creme fraiche or Greek-style yogurt (want to make greek-style out of regular yogurt? Check out this link on my blog to see how: Making Greek Yogurt)
1 TB fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dry thyme
1 TB finely chopped dill, or 1 tsp dry dill
1 tsp lemon peel, grated
4 crusty rolls
1 red onion, cut 4 thin slices off
4 lettuce leaves

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the beet and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until tender. Drain.
2. Combine ground meat, 1/3 cup parsley, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Form into patties (4-6) and make a thumbprint in the center of each. Coat each pattie with cooking spray.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties, and cook for 6-8 minutes. While patties are cooking, in a medium bowl crumble goat cheese, add yogurt, thyme, dill, lemon peel and remaining 1 TB parsley.
4. Place the patties on the roll bottoms. Top with beet slices, goat cheese mixture, onion, lettuce and the roll tops. 

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Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Make yogurt spread ahead of time and keep in fridge until time of use.
~Cook beet ahead of time, and refrigerate until time of use.
~Make burger patties ahead of time, and keep in fridge up to 24 hours.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Instead of lettuce use spinach leaves. 
~Try chopped basil instead of parsley, use only 1/4 cup chopped basil for burger and 1 TB chopped basil for yogurt spread.
~Replace thyme with fresh oregano or rosemary.
~Use a little pesto on each roll bottom.

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Tuesday: Zucchini-Quiche Crusted Pizza

 
Here's a great recipe for those of you that have an OVERWHELMING amount of zucchini this summer in your garden. The crust to this pizza has a "quiche" like texture...soft and fluffy. Our family loves pesto, so I brushed some on before adding the topping. This recipe can easily be made gluten-free. Just replace the all-purpose flour with Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour.  Delicious!

Pizza Recipe
6 servings

3 cups of shredded zucchini (about 1 1/2 to 2 medium sized zucchini)

3 eggs
1/3 cups of all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups (8oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used part-skim to cut down on calories and fat)
1-2 roma tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup pesto, store bought or homemade 
Try this link for pesto recipe:  Yummy Pesto  

1. Preheat oven to 450* F. Place shredded zucchini over a colander and squeeze it with your hands to drain all the moisture out. 
2.In a large bowl, mix zucchini, eggs, flour and salt together. Spray a 12 inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Spread the mixture over pizza pan and bake for 8 minutes. 
3. Reduce heat to 350* F. Brush crust with pesto.
 4. Sprinkle cheese.
5. Add topping.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and golden. 

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Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Chop veggies ahead of time.
~Grate cheese and keep refrigerated until time of use.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Try grating a different cheeses like monterrey jack, gouda or swiss 
~Add smoked sausage or chorizo to pizza.
~Slice up some roasted red bell pepper instead of tomato. 
~Replace green bell pepper with corn kernels
~Instead of pesto use a tomato sauce base. 
~Use chopped sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh.

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