Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie. - Jim Davis

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fruit Salsa

So last night I was clueless as to what to make for dinner.  I really wanted to make a chowder of some sort, then decided against it at the last minute - mainly because I can never make it taste like my mom's.  And since her's is delish and mine is less so, I don't bother.  I should really ask her for her recipes sometime. 

While wander around the grocery store I settled on fish.  Haddock specifically.  Then came the decision of what to do with it:  batter it, bake it...oh the possibilities.  Then an idea struck: I'd pan fry the fish and make a fruit salsa to go on top!  Perfect!

And it really was close to perfect, if I do say so myself. 

This is one of those less exact, make it how you wish recipes.  Here is mine:

1 mango, diced
1 ring of pineapple, diced
1 plum, diced (if you're patient enough, peeled)
1 mini cuke, seeded and diced
1 ring slice of red onion, diced
1 side of an orange bell pepper, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, diced finely
1/2 - 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
juice of one lime
healthy sprinkle of sugar
healthy sprinkle of salt

Throw everything into a bowl and let is sit a while; at least an hour.  It will be come juicy and delicious.  If you want it juicier add more salt and/or sugar. 

The only thing I wished I had thought to add to it was strawberries.  Peaches would be quite yummolicious in this as well. I only use a half a jalapeno and found it to be plenty spicy.  If you like it spicier go for the whole shebang.  Just remember the heat comes from the seeds and ribs, so be sure to remove those, unless you like it inferno spicy, then by all means give'er.

I recommend for this recipe you use a mild flavored white fish.  As I mentioned I went with haddock. 

Once your fish is cooked and you've decided and prepared what your side will be (I went with regular white rice) spoon this colorful delight on top. 

It was flavorful and fresh and was a perfect complement to the fish.  This is something I will definitely make again!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Wow it has been awhile since I last posted.   Completely unintentional, I promise.  It would seem life has other plans for me that didn't involve my lovely little blog.
In any case, here I am and I come to bring you pumpkin recipes!

It is (long since) officially fall which brings with it cooler air, sweaters and pretty leaves.  This is very much my favorite season.  If it could be fall all year I'd be a very happy me.  It is during these cooler months we give ourselves permission to enjoy heartier meals.  Meals with substance, if you will.  Its time for hearty soups, stews and casseroles.   No one really wants a beefy stew in the middle of July, but on a cool October evening, it sounds just perfect.

This time of year also brings with it pumpkins.  Pumpkins for decorating and pumpkins for eating.  One of my most favorite things is pumpkin pie, and no one does it quite like my momma.

For this little post I bring to you Pumpkin Mac & Cheese.  Not for the faint of heart, or the lactose intolerant.  Read on.....if you dare.......

The Needs:
1lb dry pasta
1 quart whole milk (I used 1%)
1 stick butter, divided
1/2c flour
1 15oz can pumpkin (make sure it is pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling - they're two very different things!)
8oz grated gruyere cheese
8oz grated cheddar
4oz cumbled gorgonzola
1/2c romano cheese
1tsp mustard powder
1/2tsp nutmeg
1/2tsp ground pepper
1tbl spoon salt
1 1/2c panko break crumbs

The How: 

Cook pasta to al dente

Preheat oven to 350F

Heat milk in saucepan.  Be sure the milk doesn't boil, but is heated through.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in large pot over medium heat.  Once melted add flour and whisk constantly until combined and turns a light brown color. 
Slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth and thick.
Remove from heat, stir in gruyere, cheddar and gorgonzola, pumpkin, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mustard powder.
Stir until combined
Add pasta, stir until covered
Pour into lightly greased baking dish
Melt remaining butter, mix with panko crumbs and romano cheese and spread over top of pasta.

Bake 30-40mins

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I'm back....

...and I've got a tomato sauce recipe for y'all!

Sorry I've been MIA.  This summer was met with two weddings, both of which I was in, and a busy work schedule, which left not much time for anything else.

The fall is my favorite time of year.  While fall isn't officially upon us the weather has shifted just enough that I can start thinking about stews and casseroles and all those yummy things that are too heavy for the hot summer months. 

Today I whipped up a batch of tomato sauce.  I was given a bunch of tomatoes and fresh basil that just begged to be made into a delicious sauce.  And since they asked so nicely I happily obliged!

The Needs:

at least 8 large, fleshy tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 sweet pepper, chopped
3 tbl spoons red wine vinegar, or actual red wine
2 tbl spoons white sugar
1 tbl spoon balsamic vinegar
generous bunch of basil
1-2 parmesan rinds
Oregano to taste
S & P to taste

Now, if you're like I was an are intimidate by using fresh tomatoes instead of canned I am here to tell you it is easy peasy! 

The Hows: 

To prepare the tomatoes simply slice off the stem end and dig out the core. 
Place the tomatoes a few at a time in a pot of boiling water for about 30secs.  Remove them and immediately place in an ice bath to halt the cooking process.  The skins should easily slip right off.   At this point remove the seeds as well.  Now your tomatoes are ready to roll.

In the bottom of a  large pot heat a splash of olive oil over low heat. 
Add the chopped onion.  Stir to coat in the oil.  Cook until translucent. 
Add garlic.  Stir to combine. Cook approximately 2mins.
Add the tomatoes.  Allow to simmer over low.
*now, I can't tell you how long to let it simmer.  Mine took quite awhile as it seems my 'maters had lots of water in them, so it took awhile for the extra liquid to evaporate.
**I also discovered as the tomatoes started to break down that I wasn't going to end up with much sauce, so I added a large can of stewed tomatoes to stretch it out further
Add in the handful of basil.  I recommend not chopping it as you're going to fish it out at the end.
Add the chopped pepper
Allow to simmer 45mins-1hr.
Dig out the basil. 
Add in the parmesan rind(s).  Trust me on this one.  If you don't have the rind, grate in some fresh parm.
Simmer an additonal 20mins
Add red wine vinegar and balsamic
Add sugar (this helps cut the acidity of the canned tomatoes)

Before adding the rest of the spices give the mixture a taste test then season accordingly. 

This sauce breaks down nicely on its own, so you can leave it as it is if you prefer a slightly chunky sauce.  Myself, I prefer a smoother texture so I lightly processed mine.

You can store this in the fridge in an air tight container for about 5 days.  This also freezes well for use at a later time.

To me, this is a perfect sauce.  This could be easily turned into a meat sauce by adding browned ground beef.  Or add some dried chili flakes for a little extra kick.  Either way, tasty on its own or a great starting point for creating a sauce that is all your own!  Use it on pasta, in lasagna, or perhaps for chicken parm...either way, I'm sure you'll love this as much as I do!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Simple, tasty steak marinade

I just have to say I love BBQ season.  Sure you can grill all year round, but there is just something about grilling in the sunshine that makes it so much better.  I'm happy its here.  I don't recall the last time I cooked something on the stove or in the oven.

I snagged a couple of steaks over the weekend.  Now, I knew I wanted to grill them but I also wanted them to be more than just a couple of steaks on the grill.  The solution: marinade them.   I whipped together a bowl of awesome delicousness:

(no exact measurements here, folks)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
quirt of prepared mustard
fresh cracked pepper
worscestershire sauce
soy sauce

Toss your steaks into a zip lock baggie and pour this liquid delicious on top.  Let sit in freeze for a few hours (overnight would be even better).  Remove from fridge about an hour before grilling to allow them to come to room temperature (just throwing them straight on to the grill will make 'em tough: cold steak + hot grill = boot leather).

And once again I'm slacking in the photo department.  Sorry gang.  I'll try to remember for next time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coke Float Cupcakes

You guys, these are like chocolate cupcakes on crack. 

No joke.

The cake is light, fluffy and moist.  It is pretty close to cupcake perfection. 

This recipe could easily be adapted to use root beer, or another cola of your choice. Simply swap out the Coke for your fizzy beverage of choice. 

And here come the details:

The Cupcake-

1c Coke
1/2c butter
1/2c veg oil
1/4c cocoa, sifted
22 marshmallows (yup, 22.  precisely)
2c flour
up to 2c sugar (though I used 1c sugar, 1/4 granulated sweetener)
1tsp baking soda
1tsp vanilla
1c buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325

In pot over med-low heat mix cola, butter, veg oil and cocoa.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add the marshmallows, cover pot to allow marshmallows to melt.  Stir occasionally.

In mixer, mix flower, sugar and baking soda. 
Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

Combine the melty marshamllow goop with the flour.  Mix until just combined.  It may look like the batter is rather runny.  Don't worry.  It is supposed to look that way.

Line cupcake tin, or spray with nonstick spray, fill to 2/3. 
Bake 20mins.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.
I was going to make a fancy schamncy Coke infused boiled icing to go with these.  But then I realized it was almost 10pm and I just wanted to be done and get to bed.  So I went with my standard buttercream, threw in a splash of Coke and some cocoa and we were off to the races.

The Frosting-

1c softened, unsalted butter
3-4c icing sugar (if you wish to make chocolate buttercream add 1/4c cocoa in place of some of the icing sugar)
1/4tsp salt
1tblsp vanilla
up to 4 tblspns milk (or in this case Coke)

Beat butter
Add 3c icing sugar (plus the cocoa if using); mix on low speed
Increase speed to medium; add vanilla and milk (or Coke)
Add more icing sugar as needed to reach desired consistency

This frosting works well if you want to pipe it, it works just as well if want to just slather it on willy-nilly.  It also works well for eating directly out of the bowl.  No cupcake needed.  Jus'sayin.

These little babies were made for a bake sale.  Because I was tired and wanted to tap out and go to bed I totally forgot to snap a picture.  So you're just going to have to trust me when I say not only are they delicious they're also pretty darn cute!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nacho Casserole

Ok ladies and gents, this is a fly by the seat of my pants creation.  So if you're expecting an exact recipe this is not the post for you.  But, if you are expecting a description of how I created tonight's yummolicious dinner then this post is exactly for you!

The decision of what to make for dinner tonight was more of a challenge than it should have been.  I spent the day at work and just wanted something easy when I came home. Unfortunately for me I am running low in the grocery department.  Random bits and pieces I have, but actual things to make a cohesive meal? Not so much.

I opened my cupboard and spied a bag of nacho chips, a jar of tomato sauce and a can of corn.  I also knew I had a small package of ground beef in the freezer.  I was pretty certain I could create something out of these things, so off I went.

Preheat oven to 325F

1) Brown ground beef in pan.
2) Drain off fat.
3) Add can of corn and a can of mushrooms
4) In separate bowl mix together a few spoon fulls of mayo (the tangy Miracle Whip stuff, not the legit mayo), a healthy pour of tomato sauce (see, told you this wouldn't be exact), a sprinkle of paprika, cayenne and chilli powder.
5) Pour mayo mixture over ground beef, stir.
6) In bottom of baking dish crumble nacho chips - just sort of break up the chips so they lay flatter in the dish, but don't mulch them up too much
7) Pour the beef-mayo mixture over the nachos
8) Bake at 325 for 15-20mins
9) Remove from oven, top with grated cheese of your choice (I used white cheddar)
10) Return to oven for another 5mins to melt cheese
11) Place heaping piles of this delightfulness into bowls 
12) Enjoy!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stuffed Mushroom Caps with Roasted Veggies

I again was in the mood to cook today.  I always enjoy cooking but there are some days when I just *want* too cook.  And today was definitely one of those days.

I made a trip to the Farmer's Market yesterday and came home with carrots, beets, milk, cheese and a bottle of wine.  A well rounded trip if I do say so myself!

I knew I wanted to roast the beets and carrots and wanted something to go with them.  I made a trip to the grocery store to see what grabbed my attention.  And then there they were, portobello mushroom caps.  And there, my friends, was the inspiration for dinner this evening.

The Mushrooms

6-8 mushroom caps
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
half a large onion, minced
1 carrot, grated
8-10 asparagus spears, chopped into half inch size pieces
1-1.5 cups broccoli florets cut up into small pieces
1 package ground sausage meat (I used mild)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425

-Prepare mushroom caps. Scoop out the ribs and remove the stem.  Place in baking dish, stem side up.
-Brown sausage meat in pan over medium heat
-Throw all the veggies and garlic in a separate pan with a splash of olive oil and cook until onions are soft and broccoli is cooked through
-Combine the sausage with the veggies
-Scoop mixture into the mushroom caps
-Bake in oven 12-15minutes
-Top with grated cheese, place back in oven until cheese melts

The Veggies

1 small bag of baby potatoes
1-2 onions, quartered
12 carrots (the bunches you can buy with the tops still on); or as many as required to feed your party
12 beets

-Remove tops from beets. Place in a foil pouch with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake at 425 for 40mins.
-Prepare veggies, place in baking dish with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake at 425 25mins.
-Remove beets from oven, allow to cool enough to handle to remove the skins. Place beets in same dish as rest of veggies.  Return to oven, bake an additional 15mins.