Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

It's time again for another muffin recipe.  Muffins and yogurt are a breakfast staple in our house.  The kids have that combo at least once a week.  I try to mix up the breakfast menu so they don't have the same breakfast every day.  One morning I'll give them cereal, another morning bagels, and once a week muffins and yogurt!  While I'm not a big fan of chocolate muffins for breakfast I thought it helped that these had zucchini!  The original recipe, which I've linked to below, had spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.  I wanted to keep the muffin more chocolatey than spice flavored so I left those out.  These muffins were super moist and tasty!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com by Larry B

3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.

2.In a large bowl beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar and oil. Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.

3.Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until just moist.

4.Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Store loosely covered.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meatless Monday: Macaroni n Cheese Pancakes

Wednesdays in our house are pretty busy.  The kids are at two different camps and then after camp my daughter has gymnastics class.  Last Wednesday there was a special reptile show at the library that I had signed us up to go to at 7 p.m.  I knew that we'd be really crunched for time between coming home from gymnastics and getting ready for the show.  My daughter was home with me last Wednesday so I ended up making these pancakes for us for lunch and then they were already made for dinner for my son.  The kids loved these, but really, how couldn't they?  Pancakes plus mac & cheese?!!  Those are two of their favorite foods!  They ate these up and also had them for breakfast a couple of days too.  While this isn't "gourmet" food, it's nice every once in awhile knowing that I'm making a meal that I know the kids will enjoy!

Mac n Cheese Pancakes
recipe from Every Day With Rachael Ray April, 2012

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/2 cups cooked macaroni (1 1/4 cups dried), preferably elbows, drained and cooled
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
Maple syrup, for serving

1.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2.In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined (the batter will be a bit lumpy). Using a spoon, fold in the macaroni and cheddar.

3.Preheat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and lightly grease. Using a 1/4-cup measure and working in batches of 4, scoop the batter onto the griddle to make pancakes. Cook until the undersides are golden-brown and bubbles start to form on the top, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes. repeat with the remaining pancake batter. Serve with maple syrup.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Penne with Turkey and Broccoli Rabe

I love pasta.  Although I've never made home-made pasta before, I usually cook some type of pasta dish at least once a week.  The kids love pasta as well so I try to make kid-friendly pasta dishes that I hope they'll eat.  This recipe looked good and was easy to make.  Notice how I said it "looked" good.  Both my husband and I commented that it just didn't do it for us with the ground turkey.  We're used to eating a similar dish with sausage.  And we realized that it definitely tastes better with sausage too!  Every bite we took we were expecting a sausage taste but instead we had bland ground turkey.  The parmesan cheese helped to flavor it up but this was not a favorite dish of ours.  The kids enjoyed it though and I'm always happy when I make a dinner that they eat and like!

Penne with Turkey and Broccoli Rabe
Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray, April 2012

3/4 pound penne
1/4 cup EVOO
1 bunch broccoli rabe
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
grated parmesan for topping (optional)

1.In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the penne until al dente, 11 to 13 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

2.Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add 2 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and season with salt and pepper. Stir in 2 tbsp. water, cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

3.Lower the heat to medium, add the remaining EVOO and the onion and cook until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Push the onion to the side of the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and crumble in the turkey; season. Cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

4.Add the pasta, broccoli rabe and three-quarters of the reserved pasta water to the turkey; toss well. Add the remaining pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.

Family Rating: So-so.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Caribbean Jerk Salmon Bowl

My kids like salmon and I felt like I had to redeem myself after the (canned) salmon cake disaster from a couple of weeks ago.  I first saw the picture of this recipe and it looked so good.  This was easy enough to make but taste-wise it was just so-so.  The kids weren't big fans and were mostly eating the pineapple and rice.  I even omitted the spicy components of the original recipe to make it kid-friendly.  I don't remember what kind of salmon I had bought but it wasn't the pink kind!  My husband came home and said he thought it was tuna (as in the canned kind!)  :(   Overall, this looked better than it tasted.
Caribbean Jerk Salmon Bowl
recipe slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

1 lb salmon filet, skin on
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp brown sugar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked rice
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1/2 lime
Pineapple Salsa (recipe below)

Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the salmon on the foil. In a small bowl, combine all the spices with the oil to form a paste. Rub over the salmon, then broil the salmon until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. When it's cool enough to handle, break the salmon into bite-sized pieces, removing the skin as you go.

Meanwhile, stir together the rice and beans, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide the rice mixture evenly among bowls and top with salmon and pineapple salsa.

Pineapple Salsa
1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
kosher salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt to taste, and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Family Rating: So-so.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

I know that not everyone likes carrot cake so I wanted to have another dessert available for guests.  While I did serve watermelon I didn't want to go to the trouble of making a fruit salad.  I ended up deciding on this fruit cobbler.  Both the peaches and blackberries were on sale too which was a plus.  This was easy to make.  I got it ready before we sat down to eat and while we were eating popped it in the oven to bake.  I served this with vanilla ice cream.  Everyone was raving about this.  I know my daughter isn't a big fan of warm fruit but she surprisingly ate some and enjoyed it.  I think there are too many cobbler-like recipes out there that I haven't made  that I probably wouldn't repeat this one again.  However, I highly recommend it!

Peach Blackberry Cobbler
Recipe from Cooking Light, May 2008

1/4 cup butter, melted and divided
Cooking spray
3 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 1 pound)
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup 1% low-fat milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter into the bottom of a 2-quart dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Combine peaches, blackberries, and 1 tablespoon flour in a large bowl; toss gently. Add 1/4 cup sugar and ginger; toss gently to combine. Pour peach mixture into prepared baking dish. Lightly spoon remaining 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 cup flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and milk, stirring with a whisk. Pour batter evenly over fruit mixture.

4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Carrot Cake III with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Back when I was teaching, I discovered that my co-teacher loved carrot cake.   The first year that I was teaching with her I made her a homemade carrot cake that she loved!  Since then, it became a tradition that I made her a carrot cake every year for her birthday.  When I was asking my son what kind of dessert he wanted for his birthday his response was "a carrot cake with a race car on it."  I wasn't even sure that he had ever eaten carrot cake before, but he was adamant about his request.  So carrot cake it was.  After trying out different recipes, this one has been my go-to recipe for the annual carrot cake.  This is definitely not a "light" recipe but the cake turns out really moist!  The recipe for the cake that I posted below came with a cream cheese icing recipe (click on the origial recipe link to see it).  I posted below the cake recipe the icing recipe that I used.  I had used the whipped cream cheese frosting for another recipe and loved it and decided to use it for the cake.  I think that half of the icing ended up in my tummy but I made sure that I left plenty to ice the cake.   My husband, who is way  more artistic than I am, did the car decorating!  My son really enjoyed the cake and I was glad we could honor his request. 

Carrot Cake III
Recipe slightly adapted from allrecipes.com by Tammy Elliott

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup  brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

2.In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pan.

3.Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
Recipe from allrecipes.com by Tom
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1.In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.

2.In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sesame Noodle Salad

Last, I was looking for a carby side dish for the party.  I thought about a potato salad with a vinegarette type dressing but finally decided to do a pasta type dish.  I liked the idea of a Sesame Noodle Salad because it can be served either warm or cold.  It was super easy to make and really tasty!  This side dish had the least amount of leftovers!  My kids were big fans of this dish.  I would definitely make this dish again.

Sesame Noodles
Recipe slightly adapted from allrecipes.com by jkmom

1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, or more if desired
1 green onion, chopped
1/2  red bell pepper, diced

1.Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the angel hair pasta, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.

2.Whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl. Toss the pasta in the dressing, then sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onion, and bell pepper. Serve warm, or cover and refrigerate for a cold salad.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tangy Cucumber Salad

I grew up with my mom making a marinated cucumber salad using rice vinegar.  I have made this similar salad numerous times and the kids seem to enjoy it.  I was looking for something different for the party though and found this recipe.  It also used tomatoes which I thought was a nice addition, although I was disappointed the tomatoes from my own plants weren't ripe enough to use.  This salad was light and refreshing but I wasn't totally wowed by it. After a day everything got kind of mushy in the leftover juices/marinade and wasn't very appetizing.

Tangy Cucumber Salad
Recipe from allrecipes.com by Edna Hoffman

2 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
dash cayenne pepper

1.Place cucumbers in a strainer; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and toss. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain well. Place in a large bowl; add tomatoes and onion. In a small bowl; add tomatoes and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients; pour over cucumber mixture and toss. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Eggplant Salad

As we were creating the menu for my son's family birthday party my husband looked at the grocery circular, noticed eggplant on sale and said let's make eggplant.  He described ingredients and steps that sounded very similar to this salad recipe that I had in my recipe folder.  It was easy enough to make and the only cooking involved was the microwave!  The look of it reminded me of baba ghanoush but it was a little chunkier.  At the meal it was a light side that tasted okay.  I definitely wasn't a fan of the leftovers the next day.   

Eggplant Salad
from food network magazine

2 eggplants
1/4 cup red onion, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
half a lemon
salt and pepper


Soak red onion in water. Pierce the eggplants with a fork; microwave until soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly, then halve, scoop out the flesh and chop. Drain the onion; toss with the eggplant, olive oil, some chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Drizzle with more olive oil.

Family Rating: So-so.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Marinated London Broil

After my husband and I decided on making chicken, I realized that I also had a twin pack of london broil in the freezer.  We figured we'd marinate those up and grill them and our mains were taken care of.  Normally I do an asian-inspired marinade with hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and garlic.  I wanted to do something different and my cookbook was open to one of my dessert recipes (see Friday's post this week!) and this recipe was on the opposite page!  How convenient!  I put the marinade together the night before and my husband grilled this up the next day.  It was flavorful and tasty and the meat was cooked perfectly medium!  It was a nice change from our usual marinade and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Marinated London Broil
recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, May 2008

1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-pound) boneless top round steak, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Pierce steak with a fork. Add steak to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.

2. Heat grill.

3. Remove steak from bag; discard marinade. Scrape shallots and garlic from steak; discard shallots and garlic. Place steak on heated grill . Sprinkle steak evenly with salt and pepper. Grill approximately 5 minutes on each side, to desired doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Weekend Chef: Grilled Chicken with Cola Sauce

The menu for our son's family birthday party was really a last-minute job.  My husband perused the circular Friday night and said, " How about chicken? Chicken thighs and legs are on sale?"  Okay we could do that.  I found two different grilled chicken recipes and let my husband pick since he was doing the grilling.  This recipe calls for 3/4 cup of cola.  This was a great way to use the bottle of Pepsi that we have had in our cabinet for over two years now!  Yes, it was flat, but we didn't need the bubbles for the recipe.  Just the sugary sweetness.  The original recipe used 6 chicken breast halves.  My husband ended up doubling the recipe since we were making 16 chicken legs and thighs.  We ended up with a bunch of rub and sauce left over and might not have needed to double it, but I always like to have more than not enough.  I did post the original recipe below though, with the original ingredient amounts.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the chicken.  I'm not a big chicken on the bone eater so I had nibbles of the pieces that I cut off for my son.  I found the sauce to be tasty though and the chicken juicy.....so I guess this was a good recipe! 

Grilled Chicken with Cola Sauce
recipe from Cooking Light, September 2011

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup cola (such as Coca-Cola)
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
6 (6 oz ) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in cola and next 4 ingredients (through chili powder); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until sauce reduces to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally. Set 6 tablespoons sauce aside.

3. Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients (through cumin), stirring well. Rub spice mixture evenly over both sides of chicken. Arrange chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; baste with 3 tablespoons remaining sauce. Grill 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; baste with 3 tablespoons sauce. Grill 5 minutes or until done. Serve with reserved 6 tablespoons sauce.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Broccoli Cheeese Corn Bread

Instead of serving biscuits or rolls at my son's 4th birthday party for the family, I decided to make this bread.  I know there are many different recipes and variations of this out there.  I found this recipe though and went with it. I thought it would be a good way to get in additional veggies. Now don't be fooled by this recipe's title.  The cheese in this recipe is cottage cheese!  Whether you're a fan or not though of the stuf, you don't taste it, honestly!  It just helps add moistness!  I did have some shredded cheddar that I was going to add (as a variation) but totally forgot! No worries, it was great without.    This recipe is quick and easy and really tasty. A guest commented that the onions were a bit crunchy and strong.   I rarely make the same recipe twice so I probably won't be making this again (even though it was tasty and I liked it a lot!) but if I did, I could saute the onion before putting it in the batter.  As I'm getting ready to post this recipe I just discovered that this is the one dish that I did not get a picture of in all the craziness of the meal prep!  And of course this is the one dish that I do not have any leftovers of!  Honestly, it was so good that I'm posting it anyway, with the link to the original recipe, in case you would like to see pics! 

Broccoli Cheese Corn Bread
from allrecipes.com by MARBALET

Yield:  12 servings

4 eggs
1 (10 ounce) package chopped frozen broccoli, thawed and drained
1 cup cottage cheese
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (8.5 ounce) box Jiffy mix
1 teaspoon salt

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease an 11x7 inch baking pan.

2.In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal mix and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, cottage cheese, onion and butter. Stir the egg and cheese mixture into the flour mixture. Fold in the broccoli. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3.Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Golden Artichoke Dip

My son turned 4 this past Saturday and we had several extended family members over to celebrate.  Over the next few days I will be posting various recipes that were made for the party.  My husband and I were making a lot of salads and sides with our dinner so I didn't want to go crazy making a lot of appetizers.  I served crackers with cheese, hummus and baby carrots, chips, and this artichoke dip.  It seemed a little fancier than just putting out onion dip.  Unfortunately, my husband did the grocery shopping for the party and came home with Lays Tomato & Basil potato chips.  They tasted great, but not so good with artichoke dip!  Luckily, Ritz crackers tasted just fine in this dip! I haven't made a lot of recipes off backs of products, but this was tasty enough that I'd make this dip again.

Golden Artichoke Dip
recipe from Lipton Recipe Secrets
(originally found on the box of the Lipton Recipe Secrets Golden Onion Souop & Dip Mix!)

1 envelope Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Golden Onion Soup Mix
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1 container (8oz.) sour cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (about 4 oz.)

Preheat oven to 350°. In 1-quart casserole, combine all ingredients.

Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.

Serve with your favorite dippers.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This recipe was shared at:
Fireflies & JellyBeans
Somewhat Simple

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Salmon Cakes with Sesame Sauce

When I read through the Sunday paper I always enjoy reading the USA weekend little booklet.  I usually just glance at the recipe that is printed near the back but when I saw this recipe, provided by Food Network chef Ellie Krieger I ripped it out and saved it.  I've cooked a couple of her recipes in the past and they are usually healthy and tasty.  Prior to making this recipe, although I'd seen canned salmon in the supermarket, I had never cooked with it.  And now I know why!  I saw the ingredient list, 2 15 oz. cans of salmon picked over for skin and bones.  Well, if like me, you have never seen what canned salmon looks like, it looks like a big mess of skin, bones, and fish.  While this recipe seemed quick an easy, I spent at least 15-20 minutes (probably more!) picking all of the skin and bones out of the salmon.  We all still found little tiny bones in our salmon cakes while eating too!  Taste wise, these were okay.  Honestly, I'd rather have a nice crab cake.  The kids at their cake though (even with my daughter complaining that it smelled and looked like tuna fish and she hates tuna fish!).  My son really liked the sauce and was dipping his veggies and his salmon cake in it.  Definitely a little disappointed with this recipe and will not be making again.....although I now realize why most salmon burger recipes and what not call for fresh salmon that gets chopped up in the food processor!

Salmon Cakes with Sesame Sauce
recipe slightly adapted from USA Weekend, May 10, 2012

1 cup bread crumbs
Two 15-ounce cans salmon, drained and picked over for skin and bones
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 scallions (white and green parts)
½ cup canned water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tsps. olive oil

1.  In a large bowl, flake apart the salmon with a fork. Add the eggs and mix well. Finely chop 4 of the scallions and add to the bowl. Add the water chestnuts, pepper and the bread crumbs and mix well. Shape the mixture into 12 patties.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1½ tsps. of the oil over medium heat. Add 6 patties and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Add the remaining 1½ tsps. oil to the pan and cook the rest of the cakes.Serve the cakes with the sauce on the side, garnished with scallion.

Sesame Sauce

4 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce

Add the mayonnaise, sesame oil and soy sauce and whisk until smooth.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Asian Burgers

Restaurants offer so many different and interesting types of sandwiches and wraps that I rarely order a burger when eating out.  I don't often make them at home either.  But every now and then I'm in the mood for a good burger, especially when I saw this recipe.  My family enjoys eating almost anything with Asian flavors (could it possibly be due to me being Korean??!!).  I thought that these burgers would be juicy and flavorful.  Unfortunately, I found them to be pretty dry (which could be due to me overcooking them) and lacking a bit in the flavor department.  I've made other variations of "Asian" burgers in the past that were much tastier.  I've made marinated cucumbers as a sid dish before but serving them on the burger was different.  The kids at their cucumbers on the side and dipped them in salad dressing.  I served these with french fries and the kids ate all of their dinner but I wasn't really impressed with these burgers.

Asian Burgers
recipe slightly adapted from parents.com

Yield:  6 servings

1 pound lean ground beef

2 scallions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
English muffins, split and toasted
1/2 medium seedles cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
Rice vinegar

1. In a large bowl mix together the beef, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Shape mixture into six 1/2-inch thick patties.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties about 5 minutes per side or until done (160 degree F).

3. In a small bowl, toss cucumber with a bit of rice vinegar.

Serve burgers on English muffins topped with sliced cucumber.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I don't bake a lot.  Although my family loves cookies, brownies, cupcakes, etc. we just don't eat a lot of them.  My kids have a very chaotic schedule this summer.  Between who goes to camp on which days, swimming lessons, gymnastics, etc. I had to create a special calendar just to keep track!  Last week my daughter was at camp all week but my son only goes three days a week.  So on one of his home with mommy days I recruited him to help me make these cookies.  They were easy enough for him to help make.  What I love about making cookies is that they don't take a lot of time to bake.  In less than 15 minutes we were sampling a warm out of the oven cookie.  I was going out to dinner with an old colleague of mine later that night so I packed a little bag of cookies to give to her.  The kids were going to my parent's house for dinner that night (so I could go out!) so we brought along a bag to share with them.  And after all that sharing we still had plenty of cookies left over for us to enjoy.  These had a lot going on but were a tasty treat.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
from Edesia's Notebook

Yield:  Approximately 4 dozen

½ cup shortening
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, cream together shortening, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips until just combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just light brown. Don't over-bake. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kiwi Breakfast Cake

It's that time again for the Eating the Alphabet Challenge hosted by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic.  The goal of the challenge is to make a recipe that features a fruit, vegetable, grain, or legume that begins with one of the month's featured letters.  I enjoy participating in this challenge because I try to cook with ingredients that I don't normally cook a lot.  This month's letters were K and L.  A couple of months ago when I was weeding out my ripped out of magazines recipe collection, I put this recipe aside specifically with this challenge in mind.  I recently started buying kiwis since I discovered that my kids like them.  I don't think that before this recipe I had ever cooked with them though.  The recipe was easy enough.  Although I'm not sure if I did step number one correctly because my milk didn't curdle as directed.  As you can tell from my picture below, the kiwi is not really visible and doesn't look anything like the picture featured here.  My daughter renamed this cake "Kiwi Surprise" since we didn't know where the kiwi was.  After finding the recipe online at the Rachael Ray site I found the tip that says to cut the kiwi extra-thin (about an 1/8 inch thick) or else the kiwi will sink into the batter (which I assume is what happened to mine!).  I thought that the kiwi was already thin when I cooked it and didn't find the kiwi flavor standing out.  It tasted more like a cinnamon cake with a few kiwi slices. 

Kiwi Breakfast Cake
recipe from Every Day with Rachael Ray

2 kiwis
1 cup milk, at room temp
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
3 eggs

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Slice 1/3 inch off ends of kiwis and press pulp from ends into fine-mesh sieve set over bowl of milk to extract juice; set aside for 10 minutes to curdle.

2.Meanwhile, peel kiwis and slice crosswise very thinly. In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Using mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. With mixer on low speed, alternately incorporate dry and milk mixtures in 3 parts.

3.Pour batter into buttered 10-inch cast-iron skillet and arrange kiwi slices on top. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Children's Books: Dinosoaring


Written by: Deb Lund
Illustrated by:  Howard Fine
Published by:  Harcourt Children's Books, 2012

from goodreads.com:
These daring dinosaurs have conquered land and sea-now they're ready for the sky!
But to get airborne, they need a plan. They dinoblow. They run, push, leap, flap-and take flight! The sky becomes their stage, as they join an air show. Zipping and zooming and dancing on wings, the dinos are soon upside down and dinosick! They decide to bail, hoping their dinochutes will work. They dino-do!
In this exuberant follow up to Dinosailors and All Aboard the Dinotrain, the rollicking rhymes and paintings of reckless reptiles are dinofabulous.

*  My son loves dinosaurs, so I usually put books on hold that feature them without really reading a description of the book.  Told in rhyme this book tells the story of a group of dinosaurs who take to the sky and end up joining an air show.  There was a bit of an overuse with the "dino-" words.  Although I wasn't a big fan, my son enjoyed the story and the colorful illustrations.  This is part of a series including Dinosailors and Dinotrain.  Not sure if we'll be checking those out anytime soon.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Children's Picture Books: Willow


Written by:  Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan
Illustrated by:  Cyd Moore
Published by:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2008

from goodreads.com:
Miss Hawthorn's room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that's how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn's classroom comes young Willow. She doesn't color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.

* I thought this would be a great book to read to my art loving daughter.  In this story Willow's art teacher Ms. Hawthorn wants everyone to make their art look exactly like hers.  But Willow doesn't see things the same way and does her own thing, which annoys Ms. Hawthorn.  It is Willow's kindness and creativity that eventually sparks a positive change in Ms. Hawthorn. This book has won multiple awards including the Mom's Choice Award Honoring Excellence.  Although I'm not much of an artist myself, I enjoyed the message about embracing creativity and individuality and that kids can help influence positive change.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up. 

Blueberry Corn Muffins

I bought some blueberries the other day at the grocery store, having this recipe that I recently saw, in mind.  My son asked, "Can we eat these this time since you cooked them last time?"  I told him that I was cooking with the blueberries again but I bought him some strawberries to eat!  Now that the kids have started camp I thought these muffins would be a tasty breakfast for them in addition to some yogurt, before they started their busy, fun-filled days.  We love corn muffins and blueberry muffins so I knew that these would be a hit! They were super easy to make and so tasty.  I nibbled on one warm right out of the oven, with a dab of butter.  Delicious!

Blueberry Corn Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a regular-size muffin pan with paper muffin cups or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, melted butter, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. The batter will be lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and serve.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Children's Book Review: The Cow Loves Cookies

The Cow Loves Cookies

The Cow Loves Cookies
Written by:  Karma Wilson
Illustrated by:  Marcellus Hall
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010

from goodreads.com:
The horse loves hay, the chickens need feed, the geese munch on corn, the hogs devour slop, the dog eats treats, but THE COW LOVES COOKIES? A twist on the ordinary barnyard picture book, the latest read-aloud from bestselling author Karma Wilson is a clever entry into an curious incident on the farm. As the farmer makes his rounds each day, most of the animals chew on the foods a young reader would expect. But when it's time to feed the cow, she feasts on a special treat! Wilson's signature style and Marcellus Hall's spirited watercolors will delight children on and off the farm--because when it comes down to it, who doesn't love milk and cookies?

* Told in rhyme this is a cute, simple story about farm animals and the food that they like to eat.  The horse eats hay, the chickens eat feed, the hogs eat slop, etc.....but what does the cow like to eat?  In this book, the cow loves cookies!  And really, who doesn't enjoy a good cookie?!!  Our family was introduced to the author, Karma Wilson, with her Bear series.  This was another book that the kids enjoyed.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Mexican Breakast Hash

A few weeks ago I had a bunch of different ingredients left over that I thought would make a great breakfast for dinner meal.  Breakfast for dinner is always a huge hit in our house and I'm guaranteed that the kids will eat all of their dinner.  This dish was no exception.  The chorizo was a little spicy for them but otherwise they enjoyed this.  I know hash is normally made with fried eggs.  My husband made some fried eggs for his when he got home.  But since I hate egg yolks, (especially runny ones) I made scrambled eggs for the kids and I.  This was a nice hearty meal that used a bunch of leftover ingredients up!

Mexican Breakfast Hash
my own recipe

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Eastern potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 chorizo link, casing removed and crumbled
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa (more for topping)
 shredded cheddar cheese for topping
6-8 eggs scrambled

Heat oil in cast iron skillet (or large frying pan) over medium heat. 

Add potatoes and onions and cook until browned, stirring every once in awhile for approximately 20 minutes.

Add chorizo crumbles and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add black beans and salsa and cook for 3-5 minutes until heated through. 

Spoon hash on plate, pile scrambled eggs on top, top with a couple of pinches of cheese and additional salsa if desired.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

I love fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes.  My parents gave me some tomato seedling plants which have been growing beautifully on my deck.  I'm hoping to have a bunch of home-grown tomatoes soon!  However, I'm not a big fan of warm, cooked tomatoes.  This recipe sounded good because the bruschetta was served over the cooked pasta and chicken, so it doesn't really get warm.  This dish was quick and easy to make (minus the hour marninating time) but uses a lot of pots/dishes!  I liked how the different components of this dish are layered.  So I was able to give the kids pasta, sauce, and chicken with just a taste of tomato.  My daughter ate her dinner but my son didn't like the sauce.  I thought the bruschetta was delicious and mixed with the pasta, alfredo sauce, and chicken, made a tasty dinner!

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
slightly adapted from Crumbs and Chaos

1 lb. chicken breast
bottled Italian dressing
15 oz. jar alfredo sauce
8 oz. penne pasta
4 tomatoes, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Place chicken in a plastic bag or container with a lid, cover with Italian dressing. Put in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Make bruschetta: in a small bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil and onion. Add olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Grill or broil chicken. Slice into thin pieces.

Cook pasta as directed on package. Heat alfredo sauce in a small saucepan.

When ready to serve, layer pasta, sauce, chicken and bruschetta.
Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Children's Book Review: Chester

Chester (Chester)

Written and illustrated by:  Melanie Watt
Published by:  Kids Can Press, 2007

from goodreads.com:
Chester is more than a picture book. It is a story told, and retold, by dueling author-illustrators.

Melanie Watt starts out with the story of a mouse in a house. Then Melanie's cat, Chester, sends the mouse packing and proceeds to cover the pages with rewrites from his red marker, and the gloves are off. Melanie and her mouse won't take Chester's antics lying down. And Chester is obviously a creative powerhouse with confidence to spare. Where will this war of the picture-book makers lead? Is it a one-way ticket to Chesterville, or will Melanie get her mouse production off the ground?

* This is an interesting and humorous children's book.  It starts off with the author telling the tale of a mouse. However, Chester the cat, pictured on the cover holding a red marker, does some interrupting and editing to the story.  He changes text and illustrations and the author and Chester duel it out over the pages of this picture book.  This isn't necessarily a good read-aloud story.  You need the book in front of you to enjoy the full effect of the book.  My six year old daughter was able to understand and enjoy the humor of the story.  My husband wasn't a big fan.  I enjoyed it though and thought it was a clever and humorous book.  Definitely different than most picture books out there!

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

After spending a week away at my parent's beach house and then doing "quick and easy" meals (a.k.a. - take out, packaged gnocchi, leftover freezer soup!) this weekend, I was ready to be back cooking in the kitchen.  It was nice getting a little break from HAVING to cook to WANTING to cook! 

I'm not a huge philly cheesesteak fan, although I can't say I've ever had an authentic "Philly" cheesesteak! I do like the combination of mushrooms, onions, and cheese though!  I thought this recipe sounded different using ground meat instead of "steak" meat.  I don't own steak sauce so I adapted the recipe I found and used worcestershire sauce instead.  Overall, I thought that the dish would have more flavor.  It wasn't bad, mind you....just didn't have the wow factor I was hoping for.  I tried picking the mushrooms, onions, and peppers out as best as I could and gave the kids just meat and cheese on a roll.  I served the sandwiches with some sauteed broccoli.  I was happy that the kids ate all of their dinner!

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
recipe slightly adapted from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Brat Buns
Provolone Cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground turkey, and brown for about 5 minutes, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Add onions, green peppers and mushrooms. Saute until veggies are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in beef stock and  worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce reduces by half.

You can toast the buns if desired. Place a slice of cheese on the bottom of each bun, and spoon meat over top. The heat from the meat should melt the cheese.  Sprinkle additional worcestershire sauce on top if desired.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Children's Book Review: Squid and Octopus Friends for Always

Squid and Octopus Friends for Always

Squid and Octopus Friends for Always
Written and illustrated by:  Tao Nyeu
Published by:  Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012

from goodreads.com:
A friend for always is someone who... knows how to cheer you up when you're feeling droopy, usually sees things your way, and never lets a quarrel get out of hand. As you'll see in these endearing, silly stories, a friend for always is the very best thing in the deep blue sea.

* This picture book is actually four short stories in one.  Each story tells about the friendship of Squid and Octopus.  The stories are simple but sweet.  There is a lot of detail to the illustrations and I liked the color choice and use of blue, green, and orange.  The commentary and side dialogue by the various sea creatures added humor to the stories.  This was an enjoyable book to read to the kids.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Children's Book Review: Art & Max

Art & Max

Art & Max
Written and illustrated by:  David Wiesner
Published by:  Clarion Books, 2010

from goodreads.com:
Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max’s first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind trip through various artistic media, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls. Although Max is inexperienced, he’s courageous—and a quick learner. His energy and enthusiasm bring the adventure to its triumphant conclusion. Beginners everywhere will take heart.

* This was our first book by David Wiesner.  After reading the bookjacket we discovered that he is a three time Caldecott Medal award winner!  The book was a little confusing in the beginning for us, trying to figure out which character was which.  Once we figured it out, the book takes you on a wild, sometimes humorous visual ride.  Max, a budding artist, wants to paint. When Arthur, the more serious artist suggests that Max "paint him".....well things get interesting from there.  This book was visually impressive and we will be reading some more of Wiesner's work!

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Cheesy Ranch Chicken Pasta

Usually when I make pasta I can assume that the kids will eat the dish.....usually!  They ate all of their dinner though the night that I made this.  This dish seemed like the perfect comfort food meal.  It was mac and cheese kicked up a little with bacon and chicken.  This dish was pretty easy to make.  Like I mentioned, the kids really enjoyed this.  I wasn't a huge fan.  But I'll eat anything if it has bacon in it! 
Cheesy Ranch Chicken Pasta
recipe from Life as a Lofthouse

8 ounces dried pasta
1 Tablespoon butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 Tablespoons flour
1 packet dry ranch dressing seasoning mix
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped, cooked bacon

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add dried pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain water.

Meanwhile, heat butter over medium-high heat, in a large skillet. Add the chicken pieces, and cook until no longer pink. About 10 minutes.

Once chicken is thoroughly cooked, sprinkle the flour and packet of ranch seasoning over the chicken. Stir. Pour milk into the skillet, and continue to stir and cook until mixture starts to thicken. Stir in cheddar cheese and bacon pieces. Stir until cheese melts.

Add the cooked pasta to mixture and stir to combine. Serve immediately!

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Children's Book Review: Archie and the Pirates

Archie and the Pirates

Archie and the Pirates
Written and illustrated by:  Marc Rosenthal
Published by:  Joanna Cotler Books, 2009

from goodreads.com:
From the creator of "PHOOEY!" comes a story about one charming monkey named Archie and his friends in a tale of adventure and derring-do where Archie faces down a band of rough and smelly pirates and saves the day.

* My husband had read this book with the kids a couple of weeks ago.  Since I hadn't read it I asked my son if he wanted to listen to it again.  Of course he did!  He told me that the book was really funny because there was fruit on someone's "hiney".....more about that later!  I think this story was almost like two stories in one.  We were half-way through the book and hadn't met any pirates yet!  I think the story could have just been about meeting Archie, the monkey, his life on the island, and him making new friends.  But 3/4 of the way through the book Archie awakes one morning to find pirates on the island.  He comes up with a master plan to scare the pirates away and makes some new friends in the process.  So after reading the story I ask my son, "I thought that you said their was fruit on someone's "hiney"?  So he flips back to the page where the pirates are being attacked by fruit and points to a picture of a pirate with fruit on his "hiney."  Yes, indeed, he was correct....of course, both my husband and I hadn't even seen it......the things kids notice!

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Meatless Monday: Creamy Avocado Pasta

I had a leftover avocado that I wanted to do something with.  I saw this recipe and thought that it looked tasty.  My husband and I love avocados.  I had never thought to mix avocado with pasta.  Honestly, after making this recipe, I don't think that I will again!  Unfortunately, I didn't have usable cilantro.  I knew I had some in the fridge, but when I went to use it I discovered that it had gone bad.  I don't think that cilantro would have made this recipe more palatable.  It was just kind of plain and tasteless.  The avocado was creamy and coated the pasta but added little flavor.  I made this on a Saturday as a quick lunch for my husband and I, knowing the kids wouldn't eat it.  They had pasta with butter and cheese.  Overall, my husband and I weren't too impressed.

Creamy Avocado Pasta
from two peas & their pod

6 ounces pasta
1 large ripe Avocado, pitted and peel removed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.

2. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce by placing the avocado, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy.

3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and put into a large bowl. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss until pasta is well coated. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

Family Rating: So-so.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dark Chocolate Muffins

We needed some more muffins in the house for breakfast.  I was trying to find a recipe with ingredients that I already had in the house.  I normally try not to do chocolate, especially in the morning.  But I saw this recipe and the ingredients were so unusual I had to try it.  The original recipe was made with mini muffins.  But I went the regular muffin route. This recipe used no eggs and had molasses and balsamic vinegar in the ingredient list.  Interesting, right?!  Overall, they weren't too bad.  Not a favorite but good.  I could taste hints of the molasses in the muffin.  They are best warm right out of the oven.  They lost their moistness as the days went by.

Dark Chocolate Muffins
from Carrie's Sweet Life

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Coat muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a bowl combine flour, sugars, cocoa powder, soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside. In another bowl combine milk, applesauce, oil, molasses, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Stir in half the chocolate pieces.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate pieces. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for mini or about 15 minutes for regular muffins or until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Brazilian Potato Salad

This is my last "Brazilian" post for our trip Around the World this month.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to make any desserts, which my daughter was really excited about!  It's gotten very busy though with summer vacation arriving.  Hopefully next month we'll have some tasty desserts to share!  This potato salad was different than any we'd had before.  It called for sweet potatoes and black beans.....yes, more black beans!  But it was so tasty!  This was my husband's favorite dish.  He thought it could even be a main dish by adding some cooked salmon.  The kids weren't big fans.  My daughter isn't a big fan of sweet potatoes to begin with and my son is an extremely picky eater.  However, I will definitely be making this potato salad again!

Brazilian Potato Salad
from food.com by cookiedog

1 1/3 lbs sweet potatoes
2/3 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup drained and rinsed black beans
1/3 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/3 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2/3 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon pepper

1. Scrub the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and cover. Bring to a gentle boil and boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and let stand until the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle.

2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into cubes in a bowl. Add the black beans, onion and cilantro and toss to mix.

3. Whisk the mayonnaise, olive oil, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour over the warm sweet potato mixture and toss to coat.

4. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Brazilian Collards

Although we don't eat them or cook them very much my husband and I like collard greens.  He's made them before with some of his yummy fried chicken.  I thought that I'd try them out in this recipe.  I ended up halving the recipe, which originally called for 6 servings.  I knew the kids wouldn't be big fans and I didn't want a lot of leftovers.  Leftover collards definitely don't taste as good the next day!  I didn't halve the amount of bacon though because we all LOVE bacon!  You can never have too much of the stuff, right?!  And of course this is the recipe out of the three on my crazy night of cooking that I saved to make last.  I didn't really pre-read the recipe (again!) and of course the original recipe called for cooking an hour and 15 minutes!  Everything else was pretty much done at this point....I was not cooking these for an hour!  It ended up being about thirty minutes give or take.  Regardless, I thought that these came out really good!  Even my daughter asked for seconds (although I think she really just wanted more bacon!).  I don't know how Brazilian this recipe is.....I did omit the cayenne pepper the original recipe called for to make this child-friendly.  I would definitely make this dish again though. 

Brazilian Collards
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com - by Javagoddess
original recipe click here

Yields: 3 servings

1/2 pound peppered bacon, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pounds collard greens - rinsed, stemmed and torn into 3x6 inch pieces
1/2  cup chicken stock
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1.Place bacon in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook until browned and most of the grease has been released. Stir in onion and cook until tender and glistening, about 4 minutes.

2.Place collards into the pot and stir to coat with the bacon drippings. Pour in the chicken stock. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

3.Stir red wine vinegar into the pot. Continue cooking 10 minutes, until liquid is reduced by about 1/2.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Around The World: Pork and Black Bean Stew

This recipe was made on a night when I was making two other dishes -Brazilian Collards and Brazilian Potato Salad (see upcoming posts!).  It was a little crazy in the kitchen that night.  I spent about an hour and a half cooking only to have my kids....okay, mostly my son, not eat anything.  I was also going to the gym that night after my husband got home from work so I only took a taste of each dish when plating for the kids, since I didn't want to work out on a full stomach!  So I ended up eating dinner at around 9 PM.  This dish turned out more like a soup than a stew.  The flavors were good, even with the black beans, which I'm not a huge fan of.  I liked the addition of chorizo, since I don't often cook or eat it.  I could see this being a good meal on a chilly fall or winter day. Over the summer in 90+ degree heat.....not so much!

Pork and Black Bean Stew
recipe from allrecipes.com by MICHELLE0011

Yield: 4 Servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 (12 ounce) pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 (19 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 chorizo sausages, cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

1.Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat, stir in garlic and onion, and cook a few minutes until the onion softens and turns translucent. Remove the onion, and place into a saucepan. Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into the skillet, and place over medium-high heat. Add cubed pork, and cook until well browned.

2.Meanwhile, pour 3/4 of the black beans along with 1/4 cup water into the bowl of a blender, and pulse until finely chopped, but not quite smooth. Pour whole beans and bean puree into saucepan along with pork cubes, chicken stock, chorizo, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Around The World: Picadinho'A Brasilie

Happy 4th of July!  I have scheduled recipe posts only for the next couple of days while I'm on vacation with the kids at my parents beach house in Rhode Island.  Unfortunately, my husband recently started a new job and has no vacation time.  Since this is a yearly vacation tradition, I had to take the kids!  Plus, my sister and her husband and daughter, and my brother will all be up during the week, so it should be a good time!

As we continue our tour of Brazil I made this recipe.  I ended up halving the recipe, which I posted here, since the original recipe served 8.  The day I made this my son was sick with a 102+ temperature and not into eating.  Not that I think he'd eat this even if he was feeling well! This is not a quick recipe to make.  The onions were first caramelized, which takes 15-20 minutes.  Honestly, you couldn't tell in the dish that the onions were caramelized.  I think they could just be sauteed for a few minutes and it would taste very similar.  But, there's a lot of simmering.....like altogether over an hour.  I don't really know of any substitutions for red wine, so I ended up opening up a bottle.  The red wine added flavor to the dish but the rest of the mostly full bottle went to waste, since neither my husband or I are big wine drinkers.   I served this over white rice.  My daughter was picking out the onions and tomatoes....so it took her awhile to eat.  Overall, we weren't big fans of this dish.

Picadinho'A Brasilie
recipe from allrecipes.com by Woman Whisking

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onions, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 pound ground beef
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 eggs
1/2 (15.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup red wine

1.Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions have caramelized to a deep, golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir frequently as the onions cook. Meanwhile, place the ground beef, bell pepper, eggs, tomatoes, and parsley into a mixing bowl; mix until evenly combined.

2.Add the meat mixture into the caramelized onions, and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly and no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the red wine. Continue simmering, covered, until the liquid evaporates, about 1 hour.

Family Rating: So-so.