Monday, September 28, 2009

My beautiful grandmother, one of the greatest cooks I have ever met, passed away on Saturday, Septemeber 26, 2009 from complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Words cannot express how dearly I will miss her. Her hands were always kneading dough, making rolls, and feeding people. As much as I miss her and feel sorry for myself and my family that she is gone, I am grateful that those beautiful hands are no longer in pain. I'm grateful that she can take a deep breath, and move on her own. I'm grateful to have known and loved her.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blueberry Muffins to die for.

Blueberries are kind of a big thing around here. My oldest son, Mason, is a blueberry fanatic. If it comes in blueberry, he loves it, he eats it, he wants it. When we were in Maine last October, he ate blueberry everything. Unfortunately, blueberries aren't as readily available here as they are there, but we certainly try.

These muffins are made from frozen blueberries, which I think, give the muffins the best texture. If I had fresh, really good blueberries available, I'd try those. But, I don't, so frozen wild blueberries were the next best option.

Stop. It. These muffins are SO good. The texture and flavor are hands down some of the [if not the] best I've tried. The trick is in the sour cream, and the way it is mixed. There is something very satisfying abou t whisking things by hand! To take them to the next level, make sure to do one of the topping options. [Shown is the cinnamon sugar topping.]

Thank you ATK!!!

We went to Maine Blueberry Muffins

yield 12 muffins

  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 T. butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 c. frozen wild blueberries

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a 2nd medium bowl, whisk egg until well-combined and light colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and combined well, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine. You should have a nice pale yellow, smooth mixture at this point.
  3. Add frozen berries to dry ingredients and with your fingers, gently toss to combine. [Making sure berries are coated with flour, this will keep them from sinking during baking.] Add sour cream mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together and berries are evenly distributed, 25 to 30 seconds. [Small spots of flour may remain and batter will be thick. Don't overmix!] At first it will seem like the batter will not come together by folding, but it will! Don't rush it!
  4. Use an ice cream scoop, another large scoop, or large spoons to drop batter into greased muffin tin. It is okay if the mix fills the entire tin, and even goes above it! That's perfect.
  5. Bake until light golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Invert muffins onto wire rack, stand muffins upright, and cool 5 minutes. Serve as is, or use one of the toppings below.

Cinnamon Sugar-Dipped Blueberry Muffins

  • While muffins are cooking, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl and melt 4 tablespoons butter in small saucepan. After baked muffins have cooled 5 minutes, and working one at a time, dip top of each muffin into melted butter and then cinnamon sugar. Set muffins upright on wire rack; serve.

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Muffins

  • While muffins are baking, mix 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Bring 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; simmer until mixture is thick and syrupy and reduced to about 4 tablespoons. After baked muffins have cooled 5 minutes, brush tops with glaze, then, working one at a time, dip tops of muffins in lemon sugar. Set muffins upright on wire rack; serve.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Classic Grilled Fajitas

I had a better picture, but I deleted my memory card, 'cause I'm cool like that.

I think I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again---I love simple, yet delicious food. This is one of those dishes that has minimal ingredients, basic cooking techniques, but a really awesome dinner.

Plus, it involves avocados. I have a seriously unnatural love for avocados. I could find a way to eat them every meal every day. But, even though they are healthy, and a "healthy" fat, I don't want to be the guinea pig to see what a "healthy fat" does for my girlish figure. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and let me know!

I served these with the basic chunky quac, and fresh tortillas. Nothing else is really necessary! [Although, they'd be killer with some homemade salsa!] The guacamole isn't the kind filled with tomatoes and other unnecessary schtuff. It's basic, it's all about the avocado and it's freakin' amazing. Seriously. If the salsa didn't make you eat your weight in tortilla chips, this just might.

Chunky Guacamole

  • 3-4 ripe Haas avocados [they have the pebbly skin]
  • 1/2 onion, minced fine
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced fine
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves*
  • salt
  • juice from 1 lime
  1. Halve one avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Mash lightly with onion, garlic, chile, cilantro, and salt with the tines of a fork.
  2. Halve, pit, and cube remaining avocados. [Just like this!] Add cubes to the bowl with the other ingredients.
  3. Sprinkle lime juice over diced avocado and mix entire contents of bowl lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasonings with salt, if necessary, and serve.

*You can subsitute fresh parsley if cilantro is too strong for your tastes. This is best made and served immediately, otherwise it may turn black. You can cover with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto the surface of the mixture, and refrigerate for up to 1 hour...but it's best to make it and serve it fresh.

Classic Fajitas

  • 1 flank steak [size depending on how many you are serving, but about 2 lbs]
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • salt, and pepper
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/2" rounds [don't seperate yet]
  • 2 large red and/or green bell peppers, cut and flattened
  • flour tortillas
  1. Preheat grill with all burners set to high and lid down until grill is very hot, about 10-15 minutes. Scrape rack clean with wire brush.
  2. Generously sprinkle both sides of steak with lime juice and salt and pepper. Grill, covered until well seared and brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and continue grilling another 2 to 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer meat to cutting board; cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. While meat rests, adjust heat on the grill to medium. Grill onions and peppers, turning occasionally, until onions are lightly charred [about 6 minutes], and peppers are streaked with grill marks [about 10 minutes]. Remove veggies from grill and cut into long, thin strips.
  5. If using fresh tortillas [found in the refrigerated section of the store], cook them on the grill instead of the stovetop. If using the already cooked kind, warm them on the sides of the grill [low heat].
  6. Slice steak very thin on bias against the grain; adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately with tortillas and guacamole.

And then wonder why your husband doesn't like avocados. Super freak, for sure!

This dish can also be made with chicken, or make both!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kiwifruit Smoothies

The picture is confusing, I know. This isn't a recipe for large forehead bruises or cute little boy fingers. It is, in fact, Cam-a-roni, devouring his "after school snack."

What is it about school that makes kids absolutely famished? I KNOW they eat good breakfasts and lunches. Are they doing military style training all day long? Running laps in the gym with the heat turned on? Whatever it is, it's serious. You've never seen hungry until you've seen a boy [maybe a girl, but I don't have one of those in school yet] come inside from school with the comatose death look in their eyes. It isn't until they've been properly fed again that they start to return to normal.

So...once I learned this, I realized that boxed crackers and milk just weren't going to cut it for my dudes.

The littles LOVE kiwi. All 3 of my kids can go through the jumbo sized box of kiwi in less then a few days. Which is okay with me! Did you know what a super fruit kiwi is? I didn't! One serving of kiwi contains more potassium than a banana, the vitamin C of TWO oranges, and all the fiber in a bowl of bran! Hel-lo?! Why didn't I know this. [From]

I found this recipe inside the big polyg-sized box of kiwi I bought at Sam's [or was it Costco?]. My littles loved to help make it, and it was SO tasty!

KiwiFruit Pear Smoothie

  • 8 oz. plain yogurt [I used vanilla, because it's what I had on hand]

  • 1 c. pears, peeled and diced [I used canned pears, 1 whole pear, and I didn't dice it.]

  • 1 banana peeled and chunked [I did do this!]

  • 1/4 c. honey

  • 1 c. ice cubes

  • 6 green kiwi fruit [I think I used 4 or 5, because we were at the end of our kiwi box]

  1. Combine the yogurt, pears, bananas and honey in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Add ice cubes one at a time and process until smooth. Slice each kiwifruit in half and spoon fruit out into blender. [Much like you scoop out an avocado with a spoon!] Pulse until blended. Makes about 4 servings.

Also, throw in some flax seed to make it even better for you! My boys are forever requesting this now! This would be a great breakfast as well. If you aren't on the kiwi wagon, I highly suggest jumping on soon. It's pretty freakin' awesome.

BBQ Pork Slaw Sandwiches

Let it be known: This is the first time I've ever made something with the word "butt" in the name. I don't know if it is the vegetarian in me, or the normal in me [there is a tiny bit], but seriously, "pork butt"? Is that necessary?? Who named it a 10 year-old boy?

Now, normally I'm all for calling a spade a spade. But there are a few places I think the line can be drawn. I'm okay with being in the dark sometimes. Just call it pork lump or something. Honesty isn't always the best policy.

That being said, this is the first time I've ever cooked pork.

I rode out all of the "other white meat" hype for a long time. But my husband really likes BBQ pork sandwiches, and my pal Guy Fieri gave me some help with Triple D and Guys Big Bite . Well...that, and I just finished reading Charlottes Web with the littles.

I didn't make my sandwich anything like Guy's. He is really into BBQ. The Southern, cult-following, "slow & low" malarkey. Me, not so much!

BBQ Pork Sandwiches w/ Apple Slaw
  • 3-4 lb. boston butt pork roast
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves garlic [peeled, but left whole]
  • salt & pepper
  • liquid smoke [I did steal this bit from Guy]
  • BBQ sauce of your choice
  1. Chunk one whole large onion, and lay in the bottom of your crock pot. Layer with the whole cloves of garlic. Season the butt [ha!] with salt and pepper on all sides. Lay on top of the garlic and onions.
  2. Add about 2-3 cups water, maybe more, depending on the size of your crock pot. [Enough to go about 1/2 way up on the meat]. Add a splash of liquid smoke. ***I use the same method people do with "coke"...but I don't want to add all that extra sugar, so I just used water.
  3. Cook on low for about 8 hours.
  4. Remove butt [ha!] from crock pot and drain water, onions, garlic, etc. Shred the pork and return to the crock pot. Add one bottle of barbecue sauce and mix. [The Shirley J BBQ seasoning is wicked awesome here!]
  5. Heat for about 30minutes to 1 hour on high.
  6. Serve on my awesome wheat buns and top with apple slaw for a great crunch!
Basic Apple Slaw
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix [or you can shred your own if you are superhuman and don't have a clingy baby on your hip...]
  • 1 medium red onion, diced small
  • 2 green apples, shredded
  • shredded carrots [I didn't measure, about 1+ cup]
  • fresh parsley
  • 2 T-3T sugar
  • 1 c. mayo
  • 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar [my favorite vinegar EVER, fyi]
  • salt & pepper
  1. Mix veggies together and toss with mixed dressing. Alter according to tastes [more sugar, more s&p, etc.]. Let sit covered in fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.
Now. Just so you know, I made this dish just for my husband, as my feelings about pork have been discussed. I made it, felt a tiny bit proud that I'd conqured butt, dished my husband up a beeee-yootiful looking plate. [He ate after us, because he got home from work late, and I don't hold dinner for him, because I'm just that sucky.]
I asked him, "So....did you like your dinner?" [I'm not above asking for compliments!]
Do you know what he said?! "I'm not a fan of coleslaw."
Oh, yes. He did.
I haven't fed him since.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I swear.

...that by "coming soon" I meant sometime this year!

I have dozens [literally] of recipes to post, but I just can't seem to find the time to get to them all. I can't seem to get into the new "back-to-school" groove.

And, seriously. Having 2 boys in soccer, and 2 games a week [each!], is way overrated.

But, I swear, I'm going to get it together. [Probably not tonight, because I have a haircut. If that doesn't sound exciting to you, it's probably because you are a] a male b]you take your kids with you. But to me, it means an HOUR of blissful ALONE time where I get to chat with my sister [who just happs to do my hair]! I don't have to change diapers, nurse, wash laundry, put laundry away, do dishes, iron clothes, brush teeth, help w/ homework ALL for ONE FULL HOUR.]

It most likely won't be Tuesday either, because that's a preschool and soccer day. Maybe Wednesday? Lucky you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Coming soon...

A meal inspired by your friend and mine from the Triple D...only better!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fresh Salsa

I am exactly 0% Mexican. I haven't done the research or geneology, but I can say that with 100% certainty. [And if you've ever seen me, you'd probably agree! And if you haven't ever seen me, you aren't missing much!]

Regardless of my lack of Mexican heritage, I have picked up a few skillz here and there. A long time ago, before I had kids, and a mortgage, and nursing boobs, I had a job. A real live, actual paying, Monday through Friday, respectable gig. It just so happens that a girl I worked with [for a while] was Mexican [I'm not sure of her % or pedigree, we weren't that close]. But, I do know, that she gave me a great fresh salsa recipe.

This is one of those things you can make, and eat it for lunch, dinner, snack... Taking one little "sample" may or may not turn into you eating your weight in a Costco size bag of tortilla chips. [Not speaking from experience, however, I did see Chris in a salsa coma the other night. It wasn't pretty, trust me!]

Fresh Salsa
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 1/2-3 lbs. tomatoes [romas!]
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 jalapenos
  • salt, pepper & chili powder
  1. In a large saucepan, cover tomatoes, garlic and jalapenos with water. Boil just until tomatoes are tender. [When you see the skin start to break!] This won't take very long, and don't overcook them or you'll end up with water loaded, yucky tomatoes!
  2. Cool tomatoes completely. [At this point, if you prefer, you can take the skin off the tomatoes. I don't, but if you want to, it won't change anything!]
  3. Meanwhile, puree garlic and jalapenos in a blender.
  4. When the tomatoes are cooled, add them, one at a time, to the blender [keep the jalapenos and garlic in the blender]. Pulse tomatoes [add one, pulse, add another, pulse, etc.] quickly. Usually a one second push on the button, and they are good. Continue until all tomatoes are pulsed.
  5. Pour into a large covered dish and cool completely in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  6. Dice onions and chop cilantro and add to the tomato mixture. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder. It may take a lot of seasoning to get it to the right flavor.
  7. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before eating. I prefer to let it sit a bit longer, if you can wait!
  8. This will store in the fridge [covered] for several days.

*Depending on heat levels, you can decrease the jalapenos. I usually take the seeds and ribs out of mine if I know I don't want it too hot.

Also, you don't need a boatload of cilantro, just enough to give it the right taste. If you are hesitant, start of with a handful, mix it in, taste, and go from there. You want it to accent the flavors, not overtake them.

Sometimes it takes a bit to get the right amount of salt, pepper & chili powder just right. I always start off with less [chili powder] and keep adding.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monster PB cookies [flourless]

These aren't your traditional PB cookies! They are fun, because you can change out the "mix-ins" and alter them to your tastes. The dudes helped me make these, and decided to add peanut butter reese's pieces [the ones made for baking--they are smaller]. You could easily add mini-m&m's, chocolate chips...whatever you have on hand!

These are also a great "pantry" cookie. They use up oats, peanut butter, brown sugar...things that almost everyone always has on hand!

Monster PB cookies

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. peanut butter [creamy, crunchy is gnarly]
  • 4 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
  • mix ins: reeses pieces, plain m&m's, chocolate chips, or a mixture of each!
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except for candies, until well combined. Mix in candies.
  3. Drop cookies by heaping spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake about 8 minutes. Do not overbake! Cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets until cookies are set enough to transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

[Cookies will be soft until they are completely cooled! Even then they will be a softer cookie!]