Memories... Like Mom Made!

Memories... Like Mom Made!
Out of dark moments, flowers grow.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Pork Milanese with Creamy Lemon Pasta and a Movie!!!

Have you seen Remember Me? Well if you haven't and you expect to see a fluffy happy romantic comedy: that is not what you are in for. I repeat: Remember Me is not a romantic comedy... It is a very roughly scripted and filmed (artistically though.. I am in no way offending this movie) romantic drama. The ending will knock you on your ass.

So obviously I got to go see a movie tonight!!!! The movie was at the free movie theater here on base, and it started a 7, so I didn't have much time to prepare, cook, and eat dinner between Donovan coming home from work and needing to get ready and leave.

So I had some pork chops thawed out.

And I had some lemons and some heavy cream I needed to use.

And I had a leek that was sad and lonely and begging to be made into something delicious.

So this is what I did:

Virginia's Pork Milanese with Creamy Lemon Pasta
Start to finish 20 minutes (I know, right?!?!)

Start a pot of salted water on the stove. While it is heating up to a boil (you will be cooking your pasta in this) lightly pound 4 boneless pork chops with something heavy and flat-ish to about 1/3 inch thickness... or just pretty thin... I used a pickle jar (from the purging of my fridge which I will be posting about shortly). If you have a meat mallet you won't have to get creative like I do. Oh and put it between two pieces of waxed paper for easy clean up.

Beat two eggs in a shallow bowl, and in another shallow bowl mix about 3/4 c italian bread crumbs (or almond flour and your favorite seasonings for all my primal friends), and 1/2 c parmesan (the kind that comes in a can).

Dip each chop into the egg then coat in the crumb mixture. Put these aside while you heat up about 1/4 c butter and a few glugs of olive oil on med hi heat in a skillet. In another pot, melt 1 T on medium high heat.

Thinly slice some leeks (I only had one, but you can use as many or few as you like), a small onion, and some garlic cloves. Toss these into the pot with the melted butter.

Add enough angel hair pasta to satisfy however many people you are feeding. Now back to your chops. Carefully add them to the skillet and let them cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, or until gorgeous golden brown.

Once your veggies are tender in the other pot add 1/2 c heavy cream, 1/4 c milk, zest of two lemons, juice of two lemons (about 1/4 cup). Don't you love how I am trying to juggle three things at once here? It sounds so much more difficult in a recipe... but it isn't at all hard, remember, this only took 15-20 minutes to do!

Stir this well and double check on your pork. It is probably ready to flip.

Now all you have to do is let the pork finish, drain and rinse the pasta, and let the sauce thicken.

Arrange each serving of pasta in a nice little nest on the plate with the pork milanese laid nicely up against it. Now drizzle your sauce over everything... Garnish with parsley, fresh basil, and lemon slices.

Enjoy your restaurant worthy, incredibly delicious, super fast, easy meal!!!

Here is the breakdown:

4 boneless pork chops - pounded to 1/3 inch thickness

2 eggs

3/4 c italian bread crumbs
1/2 c parmesan cheese

Heat 1/4 c butter and a few Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Dip each chop into egg, then coat in bread crumbs and cheese. Add to skillet and cook each side for about 4 minutes or until browned and cooked through.


Creamy Lemon Sauce

1 T butter
thinly sliced leeks
thinly sliced onion
minced garlic
zest of two lemons
juice of two lemons
1/2 heavy cream
1/4 milk
salt and pepper to taste

Saute leeks, onion and garlic in butter until tender. Add zest, juice, cream and milk. Bring to a bubble and let bubble for about a minute or until thickened slightly. Add black pepper and salt to taste.

Serve on angel hair pasta (or any pasta for that matter) and pork milanese. (would also be good on chicken or shrimp.. or anything for that matter).


Happy eating!

The Purging of the Fridge

So today I have gone through my bimonthly ritual of settling on the couch with a pen, paper, and about a gagillion coupons. Seriously though, I probably went through about 200... not even exaggerating a little bit. Not at all.

As I go through the coupons (most of which get tossed aside due to limited products in the commissary, expiration, or the fact that we don't eat much in the way of processed food) I plan what we will be eating for the week. I try and think up new and exciting things, and jot down my grocery list while I go... I have discovered that I HAVE to have a grocery list for two reasons:

1. Because I am FORGETFUL... And I really get sick of making 5 or so trips to the commissary for things I have forgotten... hence: grocery list

2. When I don't have a list or a meal plan, I just start going wild grabbing things off the shelves and convincing myself that I need a huge thing of laundry detergent or fancy little bottles of olives... Stupid sale signs throw me off. I need FOCUS... If I focus, I can block out all the gimmicks set out to trap people like me.

3. Lists save money. Proven fact people... Okay I am not sure exactly how "proven" it is... but for me, it is a fact. I spend far less when I have a specific list. See #2... focus....

4. Because I like to check things off. It makes me feel like I have accomplished something.

5. Because like I have already said... I am forgetful. I will probably buy half the things we already have because I forgot that we had them...

Okay so that was more than two reasons. What can I say? I like making lists.

So the other thing that I am doing while sorting coupons, writing my list, and planning exciting yummilicious meals for us to eat is:

Avoiding the next step.

Cleaning out the refrigerator and taking inventory to avoid the above #5.

So I am sure we all dread this inevitable chore... No one gets excited about dumping out rotten food and gagging into the garbage disposal (sorry if that last line made you gag). But every time I finish I feel refreshed, I feel cleansed, I feel... depressed at how much food we actually waste. It is disgusting.

So today I decided to break the cycle.

I did more than just do the usual inventory of "milk, eggs, butter, cheese, condiments... check!" This time I did a row by row, shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer inventory of every single thing we have in our refrigerator. It is a very, very long list. I never realized how many different types of mustard, jelly, barbecue sauce, or hot sauce one family could own...

Let me digress for a minute and talk about the responsibility of this task... It automatically falls to me for multiple reasons that some may find a little outdated:

1. I am the one who cooks. Therefore I must have an idea of what goes on in the refrigerator.

2. I am a woman...

3. I am a woman who is also a housewife...

4. I am a woman who is also a housewife and stay at home mother, who currently is not working...

Now if any of you female stay at home mother/housewives are reading this and saying "my husband does this for me all the time!"... You disgust me. Okay, not you exactly, but the privilege with which you are bestowed. I hope you appreciate it. I hope you give your husband a big fat kiss and tell him what a rarity he is.

My husband is NOT one of those husbands. God Bless him (really, God bless him... I am not meaning to be sacrilegious in any way), he does do one thing relating to the Fridge for me... He cleans and organizes the freezer. In fact, he actually makes a point to comment on the status of organization in the freezer. If it starts to go south a little from my constant rummaging, he points out that I am being too reckless... Gotta love him! And I do. ;) I have long since accepted the fact that I will always be the one to clean out the fridge, and he the freezer. This is probably because he knows that the likelihood of him running into rotten food is slim to none... Lucky.

So anyway, back on point... where was I?

Oh yes! My list! Let me just say that I highly recommend this to anyone who thinks they keep spending too much on their groceries and yet feel like they "don't have anything" in their fridge. You probably do. And then you will probably see a few things that stick out like lemons, onions, pork chops, cream, and leeks and then create an inspired idea for dinner. And then everyone will be happy.

And your husband will come into the kitchen, give you a big fat kiss, and tell you how much of a rarity you are and how much he appreciates you.

Darn it I am lucky.

Yet another Giveaway (Not mine)

Sailor Wifey has another giveaway! This one is really cool because I could possibly win a button for my blog... Pretty sweet.

You should check it out!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

To cut or not to cut...

That is the question...

pertaining to my hair, of course.

So I have VERY long dark hair... And I generally like it long, but summer is coming and it gets close to 115 degrees out here, so I am thinking that my hair is going to be more damaged than anything when I get done with it by the time fall comes, what with piling on top of my head in ponytails and all the sweat and nastiness... It makes me shudder..

Anyway so I can't decide if I should cut it short again. I had short hair before and some people said they loved it, but it was just so... normal. I want to do something edgy and chic that I have never had before. Like a bob or something.

Okay so now let me post a couple pictures of me with different hair styles... Then I will post the one I am considering, and then you can all weigh in.

This is one where I had medium length hair (and it was a lighter brown, which I think is where my hair belongs as far as color goes). And it was also during my modeling days so I have fond memories of this hair style...

This is when my hair was short and black and I dyed and cut it out of a desperate need for change... I had virtually no modeling jobs or photo shoots with this hair cut, and I didn't win any of my pageants (if I was even in any at this time). I think this particular hair cut is bad news for me. But if I go short I think I would go shorter and lighter... and I want bangs... I think... but will my face look too fat?

Okay this next one PLEASE ignore the outfit... I was in college and it was for a themed party.. and this theme was basically a redneck/white trash party... So I rolled with it... don't know why I am wearing one of my pageant sashes but I am lucky I didn't lose my title for that one! Okay so I think this is when this haircut looked the best on me - the black got dyed to a dark brown with caramel highlights, and the length was a little less severe... And heck I was tan as freaking leather! (I had no better comparison...)

Okay and this is how it is now... I hardly ever wear it down, which is a problem. I want to wear it down, but I get frustrated with it and end up putting it up. It is past the middle of my back and if I chop it all off I can donate to a place that turns human hair into wigs for children with cancer. I would have just said locks of love, but they only accept non dyed hair.. some places take dyed hair, I need to find one of those places.

Here the hair is longer with bangs...

Bangs again... but the downside is that they blow everywhere... ugh...

Okay so here is the haircut I want... Check out this girl's AMAZING blog and look at her haircut (she is the one in all of the pictures). I really don't think I have the ability to pull this off.. Tell me what you think.

or this one... from yet another beautiful girl's blog...

Do you think I could rock a haircut like this? And do you agree that the dark brown suits me best? Do you have any other idea of what would look good on me?


Fried Chicken and Peas and Caramelized Onions

So today I wasn't feeling like going too overly involved for dinner, so I did something that is a bit of a stand by in this house and something that is completely new. I did "fried chicken" of sorts, which we have many many times in this house and is adapted from a Joyful Abode recipe. Something new to me that I did is a take off of a Rachael Ray recipe that my friend Anneka posted on her blog.

But of course, we ALL know that I did it a little differently, because that is just how cooking works... Everyone puts their own spin on things.

The chicken basically is like Emily makes it, but I fry mine a little more in the frying pan in some EVOO (this is a bit of a better alternative than completely frying them in the pan, they still come out crispy but don't have flour on them and aren't completely soaked in oil).

First I preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

I sprinkle the chicken thighs and drumsticks with homemade lemon pepper salt and paprika and whatever else I am in the mood for, which changes daily.

Then lay them skin side down in a hot frying pan making sure that the skins cover the most surface area possible, and let the skins get nice and crispy. You can add a little bit of EVOO after the skins start crisping so that they don't stick to the pan (don't use a nonstick pan, the result isn't nearly as good), but if you do it before it will take longer to crisp and they will be a bit soggy.

After the skins are pretty crispy (a nice golden brown), flip them over and let the other side start a bit, that way any bits of skin on that side can get crispy too.

Place the crisped but not fully cooked chicken into a baking dish and pop them into the oven for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked.

Meanwhile, keep the oil in the pan you just used good and hot (so that any raw chicken juices cook and are not dangerous to cook in) and toss in some peeled pearl onions. I would say about 10 or so is a good number. Toss them in and sprinkle some sugar on top (about 2 tsp). They will instantly start to sizzle and caramelize... Yum...

Stir them around so that they don't get burnt but get really good and browned all over. Now for the fun part: get your white vinegar and your white cooking wine out, and give a good splash of each... WHOOOOSH! This is the sound of the reaction when you add the acids.

Sprinkle them with thyme and salt and pepper, and then toss in some green peas. I did about a half a bag, but now I wished I would have done a whole bag... I suggest partially cooking them if they are frozen, or thawing them before hand... Or you could use canned peas, but that is up to you.

So add you peas and give it a good stir, lower the heat to medium, and cover it for about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through to make sure that it heats through thoroughly without burning.

The wine, vinegar, caramelization of the onions, and the leftover chicken grease makes for the yummiest peas I have ever tasted.

I would usually make mashed potatoes with this meal, and then after removing the chicken from the oven I would drain the grease off of the pan and make a pan gravy out of it... This makes for one of the most delicious gravies ever...

To make the gravy:

Transfer peas and onions to an oven safe dish and put the chicken and the peas back into the now turn off oven to keep warm. They will only be there for a minute or two, so I promise they won't dry out.

Put your chicken drippings back into your skillet. If you are a measuring type person, measure out about 1/3 c of the drippings. Add 3 T flour, whisking vigorously and carefully. Sprinkle in a bit of fresh ground pepper and a little bit of ground sea salt until smooth. Make sure that the flour is fully incorporated before going on to the next step. Add 1 1/2 cups whole milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. (If desired, thin with additional milk.)

Now pull your peas and chicken out and serve your super yummy dinner!

Sailor Wifey Giveaway

So I am still completely and totally new to this whole blogging experience, but I did come across a very cool blog from a lady who lives on the same base I live on! How cool!

Well anyway, she is having a giveaway because she just hit 50 followers! How cool is that?!?!

Check it out and check out her awesome blog. If you are in to make-up, or if you are a military wife, this site will completely appeal to you. She also talks a lot about fashion and her every day life... Very cool.

Never-Buy-Store-Bought-Again Applesauce

This following post is actually imported from my facebook group page: Like Mom Made. It is from March 5, but I figured that it would be a good addition to the site! Enjoy


So yesterday Gypsy and I went to the "Free Fruits and Vegetables" giveaway and received a dozen delicious Pink Lady apples, among other things. When I got home, I looked at my already full apple basket and asked myself what the heck I was going to do with all those apples before they went bad... It only took me one second to start getting out my huge pot to make applesauce!!!

This is so easy peasy that you will never want to buy store bought applesauce again! The best part is you will avoid the added sugar that most store bought sauces have - using a mixture of sweet and tart apples eliminates the need for any sugar whatsoever!

Ok so I started with an assortment of apples - basically I just used what I had on hand, and I suggest you do the same! If you are buying apples specifically for this purpose, buy what is cheap and what sounds good. I suggest using at least one tart apple, like a granny smith, and a couple naturally sweet apples, like a Pink lady or honeycrisp... The rest can be typical baking apples like red delicious, Jonathan, gala, fuji, or whatever you like.

I used:
1 Granny smith
5 Pink Lady
2 Braeburn

Core your apples. It is up to you if you want to peel them or not. I chose not to peel them for two reasons. A) I wanted to retain as many important nutrients as possible, and B) I wanted to unload the dishwasher before Donovan came home and I needed to start dinner, so it was much easier to just chuck them in the pot.

Cut your apples into chunks. I did fairly big chunks (like the size that an apple slicer gives you but then some cut in half), but you can do what works best for you. The size of your chunks will play a bit of a role in the chunkiness of your sauce. If you want super chunky sauce, make your chunks big. If you want a smooth applesauce (like the store kind) then make them a bit smaller.

Toss them into a large pot and add a cup or two of apple cider. I chose to use cider because I had it on hand, and because I wanted to have an extra punch of flavor. Also, you can reserve the juice like at the end of the recipe and cider makes the juice have so much flavor!!!

You do not want to cover your apples with cider because then they will become far too watery. A cup or two should do it. They will produce more juice while they cook!

Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Check to make sure that your liquid is still there, though I am sure it will be because the apples will be contributing their juices.

You can add cinnamon and other spices at this point if you want... I forgot and did it at the very end and it was still delicious.

After the apples have become very tender (but NOT mushy! Do not cook them to the point where they look like applesauce or it will be a mushy nasty mess!) pull them off the heat and break out your food processor. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the chunks into the bowl of the processor. Once they are all in the bowl, you can add any spices you haven't added yet (I did cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, since PPS has nutmeg, cloves, and all sorts of yummy goodness in it already). Turn it on and let it work its magic for a few seconds, or until it gets to the consistency that you like. Now if you don't like the thickness, add a little bit of the reserved juice to the bowl. You may want to just stir it at this point so that you don't over process it.

Congratulations! You have applesauce!

So I know my instructions were long, but it is really this easy:

1. Core and cut your apples into chunks.
2. Throw them in a pot with 1-2 cups of apple cider.
3. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until tender.
4. Scoop apples into a food processor and process until the consistency you like.
5. Add spices, and cooking liquid if you don't like the consistency.

All done!

Oh yeah, that reserved cooking liquid? I poured mine into an ice cube tray and froze it so I could store it in a freezer bag for any time I want to add a little bit of flavor and nutrients to something I am cooking.

Recipe Contests

So I have never thought of myself as the "recipe contest" entering type... Not sure why, but until February I had never even considered entering a recipe contest.

So February I saw a Baby Food Recipe contest on one of my favorite websites and decided to enter it. I entered a very simple recipe for making fruit leather without the use of a dehydrator (I didn't yet have one) and to my shock and surprise, it won!

The next month I entered the same recipe contest on the same site, this time submitting my recipe for making homemade cheese crackers suitable for babies, and was flabbergasted to discover that I won AGAIN!

Well I entered for April, thinking that no way on earth would I be able to keep up this winning streak (for surely the other participants are getting irritated with me) and I just received word that I have won for the third time in a row...

I don't even know what word is higher than flabbergasted... but that is what I am... more than shocked, more than surprised... I am simply excited and honored to have won a contest three times in a row!!!

I have only entered these three contests, and so far I have won each time. I do not know of any other recipe contests, but I would be interested in trying them out... If anyone knows of any open recipe contests, please leave a comment and tell me where to go!

Flavored Butters

So this is pretty much the most simple thing that anyone, anywhere, could ever write an entry about...

Which means it is perfect for me on a day where I feel awful and my brain is functioning about on the level of my 1 year old son... (would be lower than that but I at least have to much wits with the Kiddo).

So one of my favorite things to offer guests when I serve bread, rolls, sweet breads, muffins, etc., is flavored butter.

Are you rolling your eyes yet? Okay well stop that. Seriously, you probably are thinking "yeah yeah, that is easy enough", but have you ever done it? If you have, then you are exempt from the explanation part of the recipe, but at least look at the different combo ideas and things that I have tried... Then resume eye rolling.

So this is how easy peasy this is:

Lug out your magic bullet (my favorite kitchen tool, or at least pretty high up there), food processor, or blender... Or, if you are really ill-equipped and have none of these things, grab a fork and roll up your sleeves!

Set a stick of butter on the counter about 30 minutes before you plan on making this so it can get soft, but not melty. (margarine will work fine, but butter tastes so good...!!)

Choose what type of butter you want to make and add those ingredients to your blender container, along with the butter which you have cut into tablespoon or smaller sized pieces.

Turn on blending device.... Blend until smooth... Remove from blender and scoop into a serving dish (I always try and round mine out like a ball to make them pretty) and chill until ready to use.

How hard was that?!?! Not hard at all, I know... (I saw you roll your eyes just then...!)

Types of Flavored Butter:

Maple - add a generous amount of maple syrup (about 1-2 T, then add to taste)
Honey - same as above but using honey
Southern Style Honey Butter - same as above but add 2 T sweetened condensed milk and extra honey to taste
Almond - add a few drops of almond extract and a couple crushed slivered almonds to taste
Vanilla Honey - add a few drops of vanilla and 1-2 T honey plus extra to taste
Orange - add a drop or two of orange extract and some orange zest
Orange Honey - add a drop or two of orange extract, some orange zest, and 1-2 T of honey
Lemon Butter - add a drop or two of lemon extract (don't over do it, lemon is strong), and some lemon zest
Lemon Herb - make lemon butter but add italian seasoning and garlic, this is delicious on light dishes, like on top of asparagus or chicken
Italian Herb - add a generous sprinkling of italian seasoning and some garlic powder if desired (don't use garlic salt, butter has plenty of salt if you are using salted butter)
Rosemary - crush some rosemary with a mortar and pestle until fine and add a generous amount, or for a butter with some texture, leave it coarse
Basil - add a generous amount of dried basil
Garden Herb - add favorite herbs like dill, thyme, a little celery salt, and any favorite herb for a perfect addition to any spring time meal
Pumpkin Honey Butter - sprinkle in some pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 c honey, and about 1/4 c canned pumpkin puree

These are only just a few options for flavored butter... You can get as creative or simple as you would like.

Okay... NOW we are sick... :(

So yesterday I was extremely optimistic that my beginning sniffles and scratchy throat were merely a product of the weather change and high pollen count...

I was wrong.

I am pretty sure I have a full blown cold right now.


Seriously, having a cold in winter is bad enough, but at least you get indulgences like cuddling up on the couch with a big fluffy blanket and a hot bowl of soup. But not this time of year. Oh no - I had to go and get sick when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming and when it would be the perfect, most opportune time to be outside basking in the sunshine BEFORE California enters the 110 degree plus daily weather... I said it once and I will say it again:


I feel like I have been sick quite a lot this year. I had a bladder infection a few weeks ago, the flu before that, a cold near the New Year, and oh, how can I forget the whole "having cancer" bit. That took up most of last year for me too. Just feeling awful, more than anything. I wonder if it has weakened my immune system and that is why I am getting sick more frequently? I never used to get sick this often when I was younger... well, before 13 when they removed my tonsils finally, I did get sick a lot. But since then I have only been ill (I needed a break from the s word) a handful of times.

Well any who.... I am sitting on the couch at 7 freaking AM drinking hot tea with lemon juice and honey, and testing out my verbal capabilities at this point... Not so good. I guess this means excessive blogging today.

To all the military wives out there: don't you wish your husbands could just take off a day at work to nurse you back to health? I sure do!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yummy Cupcakes NOT made by me! (Thank Goodness!!!)

So I absolutely 100% love to cook and bake... But I am, by no means whatsoever, a "baker". I can bake, but I can't create amazing mouth watering creations that are as appealing to the eye as they are to the taste buds... I am not trying to put myself down... I am just very honest and realistic... In fact, my husband calls me "tasty but sloppy" (Worst Cooks in America fans will laugh at that one!).

Though I am hopeless when it comes to things like making birthday cakes and beautiful cupcakes, I have a friend who knocks my socks off every time she posts something new. She started her business a little over a year ago and she gets better and better every day. She makes wedding cakes, cupcakes, birthday cakes, custom cakes, cupcake cakes.... basically if it has "cake" in the word, she makes it... Oh except I don't think she makes cheesecakes - but I do!!! We are like Yin and Yang. It is a great harmony.

So I am sure you are drooling on the screen now saying "WHO!? WHO IS this incredibly talented woman and HOW can I view her menu?!" Well calm down, wipe the drool off your chin, and check out her Facebook page, or her website. Her website is still under construction, so be sure to check out her Facebook page for delicious mouth watering pictures!!!

Above is one of her special designs for mother's day, and below is the amazing anniversary cake that she made for me and my husband!

Mmmmmmm Hummus!

So I am sure somewhere along the road you have tasted homemade, or store bought, hummus... You probably loved it, because, let's face it: hummus is unbelievably delicious!!! If you didn't love it, don't count it out quite yet. Try making it yourself and using one of my "techniques" to spice it up to your liking... If you try this and still don't like it, then I guess I have failed you... But I am very optimistic!

Ok so basic hummus is pretty simple. I simplify mine even further because I don't use tahini (sesame) paste in mine. You can feel free to toss some tahini in yours: it makes it even creamier and gives it a subtle roasted flavor. I leave it out of mine because my one year old is a huge hummus lover, and sesame seeds are one of "those foods" recommended by the experts to delay introducing to children.. So all of the following recipes do not contain tahini, but easily can (add a few tablespoons or whatever you are comfortable with, remember to taste while adding so you don't add too much!)

1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
2-3 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic
dash of cumin
olive oil

If you are like me and you are lucky enough to have a magic bullet, then this will be super easy for you. If you have a food processor, then that will get the job done too. I am sure you can toss all this in your blender and make it work, but I haven't tried it that way. In fact, today I started out in my food processor and finished in my magic bullet (I love that thing!).

Start by adding your garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic and cumin to your food processor (or bullet). While processing, start pouring olive oil into the processor bowl little by little. When it starts to look creamy you are done. Make sure that you don't have any large chunks and that it is super smooth and creamy. Spoon in to a bowl, drizzle some olive oil on top, and serve with warm homemade pita bread, spread on toast, eat with pita chips, or even Carrot or Sweet Potato Chips.

Now some ways to spice up your hummus...

Avocado Hummus
Basic Hummus recipe but add a ripe avocado toward the end of processing and blend until smooth. This is delicious spread on toast or used on sandwiches. It is also extremely heart healthy and contains a burst of nutrients that you can read about here.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Add a roasted red pepper to your hummus along with the garbanzos. If you want to try a specific recipe, here is one that contains tahini.

Black Bean Hummus
Add a drained can of black beans along with the garbanzos to the basic hummus recipe. Also add a pinch or two of curry powder for a good kick! If it is too thick because of the beans, try stirring in two tablespoons plain yogurt, or more olive oil.

Sunshine Hummus
Basic hummus recipe with shredded carrots processed in at the beginning. This will have a very different texture from regular hummus because of the carrots, so keep that in mind.

Hummus Melts
Spread some hummus on a whole grain tortilla or flat bread (or homemade pita bread), arrange a layer of sliced granny smith apples on top, then top with grated sharp cheddar cheese and broil for 2-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Hummus Dip a La Kristie
Spread some hummus into a bowl and top with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, cheese, and swirl some extra herb infused evoo on top. Serve with pita chips and watch as this completely disappears! Thanks Kristie for the idea!

Carrot and Sweet Potato Chips

So last week I got a bunch of carrots and sweet potatoes at the free fruits and vegetables through FoodLink. This has forced me to come up with various ways to use these vegetables (as well as spaghetti squash). I have made Carrot Bread, Sweet Potatoes fries (I will post the recipe later), Sweet Potato and Plantain Soup (I will post this later as well), thrown some carrots into our Chicken and Dumplings, and so on and so forth. Well today Landon and I are going to have some hummus with our lunch (our ultimate pick me up) along with some homemade pita bread that I am thawing from the freezer. A while ago I saw a recipe on one of my favorite blogs that I decided I would try one day. Well today I am going to try Emily's Carrot Chips, with my own twist!

Here is how you make them:

Peel your sweet potatoes and carrots
Slice thinly using a mandoline, food processor, or do it the old fashioned way with your knife and cutting board. The thinner the slice, the crispier the chip... however, you want something substantial that will hold up... so don't get too carried away! *Tip* Keep the veggies separated if you are doing both at the same time... The cooking time may vary and you don't want to have to fish out some badly burning sweet potatoes or carrots while the other veggies are under done...

Heat a little bit of your go to oil in a frying pan. I prefer olive, but that is just me.

Add your "chips" and let them crisp for a minute or two, then flip. You will know when to do this, trust me...

When they are ready to come out, use a big slotted spoon and lift them onto paper towels to drain.

Now comes the fun part. You can toss your chips with some brown sugar and cinnamon (for the sweet potatoes) a little cumin or curry (either one), sea salt and garlic (carrots), or just some sea salt and pepper (either one).

Be creative and remember to do a little test batch before committing your entire batch to one flavor...

And since good chips never go naked (well okay, sometimes they do go naked... but not today)... how about a yummy dipping sauce for those who don't like hummus?

This dipping sauce is superb on sweet potato fries and chips, and if you leave out the yogurt it is incredible to drizzle on grilled watermelon (I will post that recipe later too).

Honey Lime Dipping Sauce

2 T Honey
2 T Lime juice
zest of lime
Heaping spoonful or two of plain yogurt
*optional* Splash of pineapple juice (if you happen to have it on hand like I did)

Mix first three ingredients well, then stir in the yogurt. If you are using pineapple juice, add it with the first three ingredients. You want the sauce to be a thick enough consistency to dip, so add more yogurt as needed and be sure to taste it as you add.

April 28, 2010

So I figure that this blog is more or less my diary... so why not have a post every day that is just a reflection... then a sprinkling in of recipes or whatever when I make something exciting...

So today Landon and I are not feeling too wonderful. We aren't "sick" exactly, but we have this sore throat (and runny nose for him) thing going on... I think it has something to do with the weather change... I always thought Missouri was the mood swing (weather change) state... We could go from 60 degree gorgeous weather to a blizzard in just a day or two... but California seems to be taking a few pages out of Missouri's play book... Seriously. One day it is 85 degrees out and we are enjoying the slip n slide and grilling burgers, and the next it is gloomy as can be and we are wearing sweaters... What's up with that?!

Since the sniffles have taken over me and the kid, we are going to have some comforting chicken noodle soup for lunch, with a chicken sandwich on the side for mommy, and carrot chips with hummus for us to share. Oh and the cool thing about the chicken noodle soup??? I made it using the leftovers from last nights chicken and dumplings minus the dumplings!

This may sound strange, but hummus seems to be a comfort food to my 16 month old... Any time he has been sick or had diaper rash, bumped his head, or done something that warranted a little extra babying, I would make him some homemade hummus and homemade pita bread. This always seems to turn his mood around! He has been enjoying hummus (without Tahini if you are sharing with a little one!) since he was about 8 months old. We also like to occasionally toss in a carrot, roasted red pepper, or avocado to the hummus and blend it up. It makes for a super tasty spread on sandwiches, or dip for veggies.

I will post the recipes later today... Right now I have some cuddling to attend to!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Landon's Lunch... and Mommy's too!

So those of you that know me know that I am very particular about what my son eats. I love for him to eat healthy food, though I don't always follow my own advice... Today I made a lunch that was delicious and healthy for both us: Spaghetti Squash and Carrot mash for Landon, and Spaghetti Squash with cheese and olive oil for me...

Spaghetti squash is that big yellow thing in the squash section of the super market... I know: I never noticed it either... And then a friend started talking about how great it was, and I figured I would give it a try... Guess what: I am sold!!! Practically no calories and I can pretend I am eating pasta... it is great!

The reason spaghetti squash got its name is because the inside of the squash really looks like long stringy noodles! It is pretty amazing!

If you want to make a lunch like Landon and I had, this is what you do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees... Take a knife and stab your squash all over, then place it in a baking dish and stick it in your oven. Set the timer for about 70 minutes... All the directions always say 45-60 minutes on 375, but trust me, do it this way...

When the timer beeps, take your squash out and plunge your knife into it... If it goes in it like butter, you are good to go. If it is still hard, put it back in for 5-10 minutes... I wouldn't leave it in too much past 80-90 minutes though.

Ok, using an oven mitt, slice it open all the way and scoop out all the seeds and fibers like you would a pumpkin (save them for roasting!). Take a fork and scrape out the noodles. If you want to make Landon's lunch, scrape the noodles into your child's bowl with some grated carrots... Then mix in a tablespoon or two of natural plain yogurt. Sprinkle some nutmeg on top and serve. (make sure the temperature is appropriate).

For you: scrape the noodles into your bowl and add a glug of olive oil, some fresh ground pepper, and sea salt. Toss with some parmesan, then top with a little grated cheese and microwave for about 30 seconds..

Enjoy your super easy lunch!

Chicken and Dumplings in the Crock Pot!!!

So last night I threw a pack of chicken (we always buy chicken breasts in bulk and then, using our food saver system, split the chicken breasts into different portion sizes- 1 lb, 2 lb, 2 breasts, etc, -for us to use in meals) into the fridge to thaw for me to use in the crock pot this morning... Well when I went to slice the meat for the chicken and dumplings, it was still pretty frozen... This makes for VERY easy slicing... So, word to the wise, slice your chicken while it is still frozen!!! Same goes for beef and other meats that you need to cut up. Another bonus: no icky juicy mess is left behind. Still be sure to wipe down all surfaces on which raw chicken has been thoroughly, but at least you won't get chicken goop everywhere.

Okay so to make chicken and dumplings in your crock pot:

Cut about 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts into 3 inch strips, then toss them into your crock pot. Dump 1 can of cream of chicken soup on top: I use reduced sodium, but use whatever you have on hand. Add 3-4 cups of chicken stock. Add 3 large sliced carrots (I use my food processor slicer blade... so fast!). If your chicken is not fully covered by the stock and soup mixture, add some water to make it cover... I even mixed some chicken base in with the water so that it wouldn't water down the flavor, but just go with your gut on this. Next, sprinkle it with oregano and basil and stir it all up really well. Then toss a bay leaf or two in there.

Cover and set on high for 6 hours, or low for 8-10 if you have that much time... I didn't...

Now you may be wondering where the dumplings factor in here... You will make them later...

Okay so when you have about 45 minutes left before dinner, get into the kitchen and start a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil... Meanwhile sprinkle about 2 cups of flour into a bowl... Using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut in 5 tablespoons butter until you get a cornmeal like consistency. Add an egg, 1/2 milk, and some salt. Mix it into a workable ball (adding flour or water as needed) and roll it out on your counter...Cut your dumplings into whatever shape you desire: strips, squares, triangles, circles... Now drop your dumplings one by one into your pot of boiling water. Let them boil for just a few minutes and then carefully drain the pot, or lift the dumplings out one by one with a slotted spoon and add to your crock pot. Now you should have about 15 minutes left before dinner... Let the dumplings finish in the crock pot with the rest of the food, and then enjoy!

Variations on this dumpling recipe is to use a can of refrigerated biscuits and tear them into dumpling sized pieces and drop them in the pot, or make a dumpling mix with just an egg and some flour... You can also make dumplings using Bisquick or Jiffy Mix and some milk and an egg... Just do whatever works for you. I had originally posted my husband's grandma's dumpling recipe, but after making it again tonight and not being happy with it (sometimes it is great and others not so good), I decided that the other ways are the way to go!

Oh, I usually add a cup or two of frozen peas at the 45 minutes left mark too...

Happy eating!

Carrot Bread... Like Mom Made

So this recipe really is one that was my mother's. Except she always made zucchini bread. I remember her making carrot bread ONE time, and I was in college at the time, because I took it back with me to the dorm and I think it lasted like... five minutes... Poor, hungry college girls and delicious quick breads go together VERY well...

So anyway, I have all of these carrots that I got from the free fruits and vegetables last week.. And I am talking HUGE honking big carrots! So I decided to dust off my cookbook (written by my Mom and Nana) and find the old zucchini bread recipe... A few modifications and I have turned it into the perfect carrot bread recipe.

Here is what you do:

Cream together
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c oil
2 tsp. vanilla (or if you are like me just splash it in there until you are happy enough)
3 eggs

After this is good and creamed, add 2 c shredded (I used my food processor grater thingy), carrots... or zucchini. I am not going to lie, I didn't REALLY measure the carrots... I would say it was probably closer to three cups than two... Give that a good stir and then sift in (mom and I are both the same on this... we wouldn't use two bowls, we just sift it in on top, making sure that the salt and soda and powder is sifted in the middle of the flour, then give it a good stir):

2 c. flour (I did half whole wheat, but feel free to do whatever combo you prefer)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (because, why not!? this was not in the original recipe, in case you wondered)

After all this is mixed really well, throw in one cup of nuts, or some raisins, or cranberries... or whatever... Because, well, why not!?

Pour into 2 well greased pans, and bake for 1 hour at 325.. or until done...

Also, I like to sprinkle just a tiny bit of sugar on top in the middle of baking because it makes for some yummy gooeyness and caramelization.

I hope you enjoy it! I will upload pictures of my finished bread after it is all done baking!

** note ** I changed the flour amount from 3 cups all purpose to 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup bread flour... This is also because I added more carrots than normal... If you are using zucchini, keep in mind that zucchini is much more moist than carrots, and add that last cup of flour.

April 27, 2010

So today I drove Michelle Dillow, a very good friend and the lovely lady who was the maid of honor in my wedding, to the airport. It is funny how you can spend a few days with someone and have such a great time, and then at the last minute suddenly you feel like you could have or should have something a little more... epic to commemorate the occasion. As she grabbed her bag and got out of the car, I felt like there should be one last thing we could say or do to really make her visit memorable... But of course all we did was say "Keep in touch" or "Take care of yourself"... And then she kissed Landon goodbye and he cried when she shut the door.

And he cried the whole way home.

And he cried when I laid him down for his nap.

And then he slept.

And while he slept I started thinking about writing a blog.

So I did.

And here we are.