Thursday, July 22, 2010

Garden Harvest

It's that time of year. Garden fresh vegetables are abundant. If we aren't growing a certain type of vegetable, we know someone who is, or can buy fresh local produce at the stores or even local organic produce from some farmers markets. We have green beans and hot peppers coming out of our ears. And we love it. What we don't eat we freeze or share, and others do the same. A friend brought me a bag of onions a few days ago. And I've given fresh basil, rosemary and thyme to everyone who steps foot on our property. I don't remember very many mid summer family get togethers, pot lucks, reunions, picnics or barbecues without someone bringing a big batch of cucumber, onion and tomato salad. Here's how I make it.

2 cucumbers
several tomatoes, I used five in different sizes and varieties
one medium sweet onion
Nakano seasoned rice (roasted garlic)
Bragg or other apple cider vinegar
Sea salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Slice cucumbers thin, halve onion and slice thin, Halve and slice toamotes. Add a 1.5 teaspoons of sugar, salt and pepper to liking, and pour most of bottle of seasoned rive vinegar over vegetables. Add a few tables spoons of cider vinegar and a quarter cup (or more to taste) of water. Cover and shake or stir gently so you don't break up tomatoes. Enjoy the taste of summer!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm back!

I have neglected my blog already, but now that a few crazy busy weeks are over I plan to be more diligent about my postings. I plan on posting a few times weekly though, instead of a big one once a week.

Sausage, potatoes and garden fresh green beans

This is a Midwest favorite comfort food dish served traditionally in the middle of summer when fresh green beans are plentiful.

One smoked or Kielbasa sausage, cut into half lengthwise, then in slices. Cook over medium heat in skillet until browned. Set aside.
One medium onion, chopped and sauteed.
One pound (we used 1.5) fresh green beans, snap off ends, snap into bite sized pieces, string if needed
one and half pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large bites
Large container of chicken broth.

Cover beans and potatoes with broth. Bring to a boil then return to medium until potatoes and beans are just done enough. Stir in sausage and onions, allow to heat for a few more minutes. Serve immediately.

Creamy pesto chicken pasta with veggies

one container button mushrooms, quartered
one sweet onion, chopped
pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
one zucchini, halved and sliced
7-8oz pesto sauce
2-3oz half and half or cream
3/4 - 1 lb linguine
one pound chicken breast cooked and chopped into bite size cubes (Omit or add vegetarian chicken substitute for a delicious vegetarian dish)
salt for pasta water

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile saute onions, mushrooms and zucchini, adding mushrooms one minute after onions and zucchini two minutes after mushrooms. Set aside with tomatoes and chicken. In small sauce pan add pesto and cream or half and half to desired consistency and heat on low. Drain pasta when done, and toss all ingredients together. Serve with optional fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.

Day Three

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Week Five/ Camping

We are about to do some traveling and camping. I thought I should share a few of the super easy throw together things I am bringing.

A loaf of good bread. GO high fructose corn syrup free. It's worth the money. I am bringing a loaf of sesame poppy seed five grain. Mmmm.

Pasta noodles. I'm bringing cavatapi.

Jar of pesto sauce.

pre sliced grape tomatoes

Pre sliced cheese. I'm bringing co jack.

Stick of butter.

Pre shredded Mexican style cheese.

Small can of authentic salsa casera: hot.

Can of organic black beans.

Pre cooked sauteed onions, garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms.

Big burrito size flour tortillas.

Pre made chicken salad. I'm using this recipe:

Peanut butter


Baked potato chips

flat pretzels or crackers

pre made hummus

box of good granola bars. I'm bringing Cascadian Farms organic dark chocolate and almond.

fruit. bananas and apples travel well, and I have them already, so that's what I'm bringing.

coffee, sugar, water and percolator

This will make
two breakfasts for two people of fruit and granola with coffee
one lunch of grilled cheese and chips
one dinner of pesto pasta
one lunch of chicken salad sandwiches or wraps
one dinner of black bean and veggie burritos complete with cheese and salsa
snack of hummus and pretzels or crackers

I'm too busy packing to worry about writing out the rest for the week so you'll have to wait until we get back.

Have a Happy 4th of July!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Week Four

This will be a short week, we have some traveling to do. Yay for Six Flags with the family!

Day One

Pork sandwiches

Using the leftover pork from carnitas to make sandwiches. I'll use balillo rolls, muenster cheese slices, caramelized onions, and a bit of broth from roast the night before. I will also be serving this with asparagus- which isn't really fitting for the meal but it was on sale and fresh, so I had to have it. I will sautee the asparagus in olive oil with fresh garlic until just done.

Day Two


I am making chili tonight so that on Saturday, while Aaron and I are partying it up at our friends wedding, the kids and in laws will have a good leftover meal. This is usually the time of year where we don't make much chili. We had it twice monthly over the winter and are awaiting the taste of fresh tomatoes. Sometimes I make extra just to use for chili cheese burritos a couple nights later. I reduce it on the stove then process it into an almost paste like substance, add to tortillas with cheese, onion, sour cream and or avocado. I can't really share my recipe with you as I never actually measure. I just taste and add as I go.

1 lb ground turkey
2 cans organic hot chili beans
2 cans black beans
one large onion, diced
one bell pepper, diced
five cloves garlic, minced
four cans stewed tomatoes, diced
chili powder
garlic powder
black pepper
cayenne pepper
onion powder
dash of curry powder
minced hot peppers

I puree one can of black beans in a processor with most of the seasoning and garlic to make it thick and hearty. That's the way everyone here likes it: ) Cook all together and allow to reduce for at least an hour and a half. Serve with saltines, shredded cheese and or sour cream.

Day Three

Beef and shrimp stir fry

sugar snap peas
3/4 pound sliced beef
1/2 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
stir fry sauce
1 cup rice- cooked according to package directions

saute each of the first five ingredients one at a time until just done, removing and setting aside in a large bowl after each is done. Then cook shrimp until just done, remove. Repeat with beef. Add all cooked ingredients back together and mix with stir fry sauce. Serve over rice

Day Four

leftover chili
(I sometimes use the leftover chili to make chili cheese burritos)

Day Five


Day Six


Day Seven

Chili dogs

I know, I know, processed foods are poison, but sometimes you gotta give into cravings. I will use kosher dogs at least.

hot dog buns
shredded cheddar
hot dogs
premade hot dog sauce (or leftover chili, processed until pasty)

serve with

canned green beans

Day Eight (trying to minimize the grocery trips)

Chicken fajitas

1.5 lbs chicken, cut into slices
mushrooms, sliced or quartered
sweet peppers, julienne
two onions, halved then sliced thin
one fresh lime
ground cumin
ground chili powder
black pepper
shredded cheese
avocado, cut into slices
fresh salsa

cook first 4 ingredients until just done, season generously with cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper ( I don't measure, sorry). Squeeze juice from lime than add to mix. serve on tortillas with last three ingredients to garnish.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Week Three

I'm a little behind on this post as I have been dealing with other things. Sorry!

Day One

Birthday request from Aaron: chicken wings

Boil fresh chicken wings for about 5 minutes. Remove from water, place in strainer and allow to drain until mostly dried. Bread with half corn starch, half flour, seasoned to taste if desired. They can also be put in as is. Deep fry at 350- 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Serve with (T. Marzettis) Blue Cheese dressing and carrot and celery sticks.

Day Two

Bruschetta and salad

Soon I will be able to make my own bruschetta when I have tomatoes.... very soon. Until then I buy the jar of bruschetta topping from Trader Joes. Toast slices of French or Italian bread and toast until lightly brown. Add bruschetta to each slice. Top with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bruschetta is hot. I will also serve with a living lettuce wedge salad consisting of lettuce, carrots celery, green onion, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Top with favorite dressing.

Day Three

Tuna Casserole

Home made shells and cheese, cream of mushroom soup, two cans of drained albacore tuna, and fresh black pepper mixed and put in a hot skillet until bottom is lightly browned. I will serve this with green beans. Nothing fancy, but the kids love it.

Day Four

Grilled Swordfish, our favorite broccoli, and African wedding rice

Cook rice according to package instructions. (I can't give you the recipe for African Wedding Rice as I don't know the spice ratios or contents. A friend of mine spent 6 months in Africa and brought me home a BIG BAG FULL OF SPICES!!! (And fabric. What a GREAT friend! Thanks Jon!!) In this bag was a packet of wedding rice seasoning, that is traditionally eaten at weddings. So good!
Rub swordfish steaks with olive oil. Season steaks with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Grill until medium well. Saute broccoli florets over medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil, a half tablespoon of butter, three tablespoons of water and a few tablespoons of honey. Salt to taste.

Day Five

Coconut Curry chicken. I follow this recipe:

* 1/2 cup coconut milk
* 1 tablespoon red curry paste
* 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
* 2 cups coconut milk
* 3 tablespoons fish sauce
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar
* 3/4 cup bamboo shoots, drained
* 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
* 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
* 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
* 3/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


1. Bring 1/2 cup coconut milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in the curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 2 cups coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, vegetables, bamboo shoots, and basil; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Pour the lime juice over the dish and remove from heat. Serve warm.

Day Six


* 4 tablespoons seasoned salt
* 4 pounds pork butt or shoulder cut into 2-inch cubes, some but not all of the fat removed
* 1 cup water
* 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
* 1 medium onion, quartered
* 5 large garlic cloves
* Warm tortillas, for serving

Sprinkle the pork with the seasoned salt.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put a roasting grate at the bottom of a roasting pan and pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the pan along with the liquid smoke. Arrange the pork on the grate and top with the onion and garlic. Cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 2 hours, then remove the cover and bake until the pork is fork tender, about 1 more hour.

When cooked through, transfer the pork to a large bowl. Shred the meat and stir in the pan juices. Serve with warm tortillas or use when making tacos, tamales, etc.
I'm using it to make corn tortilla tacos with shredded Monterrey cheese, lettuce, avocado and salsa.

Day Seven

Mama's not cooking. Fend for yourselves.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My favorite food

Many times I have been asked "What is your favorite food?" and every time I feel like a deer caught in headlights. This is not a question I feel I can answer. If I were asked what my favorite dessert is, or maybe breakfast I feel I could actually answer the question. But food? I can't pin that down to one thing! I can't even decide on a favorite five coarse meal. It depends on my mood. And the weather. And what's in season. Who I'm eating with. Am I out of town? If I'm in Chicago it would be between a Chicago Pizza and a Chicago hot dog. In Pittsburgh it would definitely be a Mineo's pizza. If I were on the right coast it would be crab. In Kansas or Tennessee it would have to be BBQ ribs or pulled pork. At home in winter it would be a toss up between hot and spicy chili and chicken and dumplings. Mid summer it would be between garden fresh tomato basil bruschetta, or fried green tomatoes topped with Gorgonzola and broiled until bubbly. Or maybe grilled burgers topped with fresh jalapenos and cream cheese. But over the past few days I have decided if I HAD to pick one food to be my favorite it would be cheese. It's great on most of my favorite foods. It's comforting. And delicious. Goat cheese, jack, cheddar, Gouda, brie, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, buffalo mozzarella, feta, cream, Mexican style, I LOVE IT ALL. Except Limburger, which I have never tried. Can't get past the smell.
Anyway, above is a picture of tonight's meal, covered in goat cheese and Parmesan. I also added some chiffonade basil since the garden is now producing for us.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lunch time

This is something I throw together often. Healthy. Easy. Spicy. Delicious.

two ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and chopped
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
juice from one lime
one bunch cilantro
half of medium sweet onion, diced
one jalapeno, more or less or seeded to taste diced
three cloves fresh garlic, pressed
sea salt
black pepper

Combine all ingredients, stir. Eat as is or with shredded lettuce as a salad. Wrap in lettuce leaves. Wrap in lunch meat. Add black beans for more substance. Even a dollop of sour cream.... hmmm... I'll have to try that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Week Two

Okay, so I made it to week two. I really hope I don't abandon this. I'm also hoping more people will start reading. But we will just have to see what happens. Here are my plans for after I go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Day One

Tuscan white beans and chicken

Sometimes we have busy weeks. Not always, but sometimes. And with the next two being the last of the school year, they will be busy. So sometimes, although I would prefer to eat more organic and budget friendly, I cheat. This is one of those quick and easy meals.

one rotisserie chicken, pull off meat and discard the rest
two medium zucchini, quarter then slice
one sweet onion, chopped
four cloves garlic, diced
two cans of organic great northern beans
fresh rosemary diced to taste
fresh thyme diced to taste
sea salt
black pepper
olive oil
freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (WILL NOT CHEAT ON THIS. If it's not in a hunk of cheese form, I will not buy it. There is a big difference.)

Saute onion and garlic in oil on medium high until transparent. I usually wait about 1 minute before I add the garlic so it doesn't overcook. Add zucchini and saute until just barely soft. Add beans, chicken, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring about every minute until heated. Serve immediately. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Day Two

Black and blue salads

Steak, seared until blackened, sliced, then topped with crumbles of Gorgonzola or blue cheese and blue cheese dressing over field greens or romaine, celery, cherry tomatoes, red onion and yellow or orange bell pepper. A few turns of fresh ground pepper and you have perfection.

Day Three

Lasagna and side salad

I am going to cheat again. I would really like to make a wonderful home made bolognaise sauce but sometimes you have to consider how much less money it costs to buy pre made sauce when the garden isn't giving tomatoes yet. And then there is not having to have the stove on for two hours for reduction. Cooking can get expensive when done right. Muir glen makes a decent organic tomato sauce.

organic tomato sauce
lasagna noodles
ricotta cheese
fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
fresh basil

Assemble layers and bake on 350 for about 40 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

leftover lettuce from the night before with added celery, carrots, olives, onion, cucumber and a garlic powder, black pepper and salt seasoned balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil mix for dressing.

Day Four

Greek pita pizzas

Whole wheat pita bread, toasted until almost crispy and brushed with olive oil. Topped with (sliced olives, minced garlic, sliced tomatoes, sea salt and black pepper covered in balsamic vinegar to make a sort of "sauce"), either goat or feta cheese, torn baby spinach, and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake until heated then broil until cheese gets melty. Cut into fourths and serve immediately.

Day Five

Veggie black bean quesadillas

Fill flour tortillas with shredded cheese (I like monetery jack for quesadillas) sauteed onions, mushrooms, peppers, black olives and black beans. Fold on half then toast on skillet with a bit of butter or oil until insides are warm. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Day Six

A pork tenderloin grilled slow until just done, broccoli cooked with honey (see earlier post) and seasoned rice. Everyone will clean their plate tonight.

Day Seven

We should not waste food. And sometimes mom needs a break. So tonight is leftover night. If there aren't any left, then tomato soup and grilled cheese it is: )

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The best cooked brocoli

So, my intentions to have asparagus were quickly dissolved when not only was it $3.99 a pound, but the tips were mushy. Ugh. No thanks. So I bought some organic broccoli florets instead. This is how I cooked it (both of my kids wanted MORE). There was leftover chicken, but 16 oz of broccoli florets were gone: ) Success!

Get a large saute pan HOT. Add 1Tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter and broccoli. Also add about 1/4 to 1/2 C water. This will steam your broccoli. Now for the best part. Salt the broccoli to the normal desired taste and add about 4 Tbsp of honey. I use local raw honey because of the many benefits but I'm sure generic honey will be good too. Stir all this up and let it steam until the broccoli is bright green and softish but not mushy. Sweet and salty and healthy. Try it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

My first blog

I am a food lover. I thought it would be a good idea to post a blog entry about what I am cooking. From time to time I will post recipes, but the idea here is to help other moms struggling to not cook the same thing week after week, and to motivate myself to cook up something different and wonderful more often. When I have time and when something motivates me to do so, I will post meal specific posts. But my goal is to post a weekly entry with a list of what I plan to cook for the week. (Evening meal only.) I'm hoping this will motivate others to make suggestions for my menu also!

Week One

Night One:
Grilled chicken breasts (I buy split breast because the skin keeps the meat from getting dry) fresh steamed asparagus with a lemon, garlic, butter sauce (and a splash of white wine when we have it)
harvest multi grain side dish from Trader Joes

Night Two :
Home made pizza's
Two pizza doughs, all natural pizza or pesto sauce, 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced, 12 oz monterey jack cheese, various toppings (we commonly use some of these: marinated artichokes, garlic stuffed olives, black olives, jalapenos, mushrooms, chicken, salami)

Night Three:
Salads, pita bread, hummus (this is my lazy night)
Bag of butter lettuces, celery, carrots, little tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onions
whole wheat pitas, cooked until warm and soft for me and Dom and until crispy for Aaron and Cass.

I buy hummus. I know it's easy to make, but my hummus stinks. I've tried so many times and I just can't get the right recipe. So I let Trader Joes do it for me. I like the Mediterranean best.

I also started buying Bolthouse Farms yogurt dressings. My kids love it, I can tell a difference in taste but it is a good difference compared to the nasty shelf stable preservative filled crap I used to buy. Yum! If I'm feeling the need to go extra light I will just drizzle my salad with Balsamic vinegar with no oil, a sprinkle of garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper. Not too bad for no calorie dressing.

Night Four:
Oh so bad but oh so good, this is a unanimously favorite sandwich to my family.
Rye bread buttered, toasted and filled with corned beef, sour kraut, Swiss cheese, and home made thousand island dressing. Better get a good jog in today!!!

Night Five:
Fried chicken (this is due to my husbands pleading for some and because we have a new fry daddy and he just can't help himself- and HE will be cooking the chicken! Yay, another take it easy for me dinner!)
potato salad (mine is the best and my husband will kill me if I share so this recipe has to be kept top secret. But I will hint: don't use sugar and DO use pickle juice!)
breaded and fried cauliflower
Another good jog day!

Night Six:
Butternut squash bisque similar to this recipe:
Turkey Sandwiches on multi grain bread with melted smoked Gouda, tomato and avocado slices.

Night Seven:
Chicken tacos
soft flour tortillas warmed and filled with chicken breast slices, lettuce, sour cream, avocado monterey jack cheese and salsa.