There's a summer coming to close, and a new school year approaching much too quickly. The timing seems reasonable to take a small-ish break from the blog. We've got to get back on something that somewhat resembles a schedule around here :)
But, of course, we still have to eat, so I'll be snapping pics along the way and probably blog my little heart out when school starts back!
About 6 months ago I blogged about my first attempt at making fettuccine alfredo. You can read about it here. Or I can just give you the short story right now :) Basically I tried two recipes at the same time; one traditional and the other more calorie-conscience. Both were good, but neither was perfect. The one with real butter and cream tastes delicious on the first bite, but that's about all I want to eat of it. The "healthy" version just leaves a little something to be desired. Since that evening I've made the dish probably a dozen more times and now I've come up with what I'm calling The Happy Medium. I've been "lightening" up practically every dish I make for years now, so there's a possibility that I've just grown accustomed to the tastes, BUT I actually think they end up tasting just as flavorful as the original recipes. I dunno. Maybe that's just me.
The 7 yr old insists that he doesn't like fettuccine alfredo. The 2 yr old loves it. It's one of very few things he actually loves.
Fettuccine Alfredo: A Happy Medium Recipe adapted from Cooks.com
1 lb fettucine
1/2 cup Smart Balance
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups fat free half and half
1 cup lowfat milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch of salt
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt when water is boiling.
Add fettucine. Cook uncovered 10-12 minutes (or according to package directions). Drain; cover and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt the Smart Balance. Saute chopped garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. I mixed the half and half together with the lowfat milk in a large measuring cup.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the half and half/milk mixture .
Cook over medium heat 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. When hot, stir in fettucine. Add remaining half and half/milk mixture, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.
(The low fat half and half/lowfat milk combo doesn't thicken up as nicely as using the cream or even using all half and half. I just let mine simmer quite a bit longer, but you will definitely end up with a thinner sauce than a more traditional alfredo recipe)
Today's recipe finishes up my week of recipes from Greens and Chocolate. These were supposed to be on the menu for the evening of taste testing, but we didn't quite get around to them that night. They basically had to wait a week.
So there's a little bit of a story about these scones, and I'm not really sure what to say about them except to tell you exactly how things went down. I'll try to be brief, you know, just in case it's one of those you-had-to-have-been-there-to-appreciate-it stories. ;)
A couple of friends and I have been dying to try out this scone recipe. Unfortunately, one of them couldn't make it over to my house that day, and being the kind of friends we are, the other friend and I decided not to wait for her. (Ok, really I'm not that mean. I put all the leftover scones in the freezer to share with her later) On with my story. (Can I name drop here? It's getting a tad confusing already). So, JB came over one morning so that we could get this little show on the road. Perhaps I should mention that between the two of us we had 4 little boys running around the house at the time. I had just combined all the dry ingredients when she arrived and so she jumped right in to help and we soon had scone dough. I cook (or bake, in this case) with my laptop right on the counter so I constantly glance over at the instructions as I work. At this point, my mind was desperately trying to figure out how these two balls of dough were supposed to turn into triangular shaped scones. That's when JB suggested the pizza cutter and it worked perfectly! The first batch of scones went into the oven. She and I talked; the boys played.
I've heard that scones are to be served chilled, but we already knew we weren't going to wait for that. The first batch came out of the oven and the second batch went in. We immediately grabbed plates and dug in. Mmmm, pretty good! we thought. Then we thought they needed a glaze. I grabbed the powdered sugar and some lemon juice and Viola! Very lemony, very sugary. Two very good things.
So we pick back up on our conversation while we eat and JB is telling the story about the time she made croissants from scratch. All I remember hearing is the word "butter" and I dropped my fork! Suddently my brain remembered that the ingredient list for the scones we were eating had called for a stick of butter, and I most definitely had not used any butter! How could that be? So I grabbed the laptop and she and I both re-read the instructions, and, sure enough, there was no mention of butter. Then I scrolled back up, and, sure enough, there was a stick of butter listed in the ingredients.
I had to quickly do a Google search to figure out where the butter should have been added. Apparently it should have been cut-in to the flour. Apparently you can make scones either with or without butter ;) We both laughed about it and decided we should try it again another time WITH the butter and see what results we get. But, interestingly enough, we were perfectly happy eating our scones without butter.
I suppose I didn't really keep with my brevity claim, but there you have it; the whole story. These are definitely going in the "make again" category. So go ahead and make yourself some of these scones! :)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers to release the oils, until thoroughly mixed. (I used the back of a spoon instead of my fingers for this step)
In large bowl, combine sugar/lemon zest mixture with flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds. (I'm pretty sure this is where the butter comes in) Set aside.
In small bowl, combine 2 eggs, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in egg mixture. Stir with wooden spoon until it comes together.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead a few times until it holds its shape. Divide into two equal portions. Roll each portion into an 8-9" circle (I eyeballed it). (I just used my hands to press the dough out, much like a pizza crust, and then cut the dough with a pizza cutter) Cut each circle into 6 or 8 triangles and place the triangles on prepared baking sheet.
To make egg wash, combine additional egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water and whisk to combine. Lightly brush the triangles with the egg wash and bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through. Mine were done right at 20 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack until cool enough to handle/eat without burning your mouth. Enjoy!
The theme this week continues with another recipe from Greens and Chocolate. I served this soup as the dinner entree for my evening of taste tasting. I hesitated to make a soup since it's the middle of summer, but this seemed like a good choice for a light dinner since we had lots of eating to do :)
I'm not exactly sure where things went wrong, but mine was not the "creamy" soup that Taylor blogged about. I used fatfree half and half; perhaps that was the culprit in the failure to thicken? Regardless, everyone gave this soup recipe a good review. They said it tasted like a nice homemade chicken soup, but with an enchilada spiciness twist to it.
Have I mentioned that green is a tricky color to photograph? ;)
2 tbsp olive oil 1 medium white onion, finely diced 1 green pepper, seeded and diced 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or diced 2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth 1 (28 oz) can green enchilada sauce 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles 2 cups frozen corn, thawed 1 tsp cumin 3/4 cup half-and-half 1 cup monterey jack cheese cheese and tortilla chips for topping
In 5 quart dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add green pepper and continue cooking 4-5 more minutes. At this point, I was also sauteing the chicken in a little bit of olive oil in another saucepan. (I decided to follow her lead here) You could also bake or boil the chicken, then shred or dice it up.
Add chicken broth, enchilada sauce, green chiles, corn, and cumin. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add half-and-half, cheese, and cooked chicken. Stir and let simmer for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Serve topped with crushed tortilla chips and extra cheese!
I'm continuing with yesterday's theme with a week of recipes from Greens and Chocolate. I served this Creamy Avacado Dip as an appetizer for our little taste-testing girls night dinner. Let me tell you two things: 1.) Yum, 2.) You have to make this! Ok three things: 3.) Green is a difficult color to photograph!! :) The consensus seemed to be that this was the favorite recipe of the night. We preferred the taste of the Wheat Thin crackers over the tortilla chips and even decided it would be a tasty dip for some raw veggies. Only I didn't have any raw veggies. Oops!
I love avacados, and this recipe didn't disappoint. The cumin in the background is perfect. One friend said she would have loved it with more cilantro. I went light on the cilantro because it seems to be one of those flavors that not everyone loves. But check this out. This is what Taylor at Greens and Chocolate tell us when she didn't want to eat a day's worth of calories in chips and dip: "That's when I remembered Greek Yogurt. Have you seen the nutritional stats on the stuff? In one 8 oz container of 0% Fage Greek Yogurt there are: 120 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 20 grams of protein. TWENTY! That's crazy"
16 oz. 0% Fage Greek Yogurt 2 avocados, cut into chunks 1/4 large red onion, chopped 4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used less) 3-4 tbsp cilantro, chopped 1 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp kosher salt (pretty sure my salt isn't kosher)
Directions In large food processor, blender, or large bowl using an emulsion blender, puree the greek yogurt, avocados, cumin, and salt. Add the onion and cilantro pulse a couple of times. Pour/scrape into a large bowl and add diced tomatoes. Serve in a colorful(optional) bowl with tortilla chips.
This is my first month to join in The Secret Recipe Club! The idea is that each participating blogger is assigned one of the other participating blogs (much like a Secret Santa). No one reveals whose blog they have, they just visit, pick a recipe, and make it! If you'd like more information about joining in, just pop on over and visit Amanda at Amanda's Cookin.
My assigned blog this month was Greens and Chocolate! I was thrilled from the first moment I visited her blog! It is full, FULL, of mouth watering recipes :) I had waaaay more fun with this challenge than I had anticipated. See, it's like this: there was no way I could choose only one of Taylor's recipes. So I chose 4!! And then I had a girls' night in at my house and prepared her lovely recipes to share with my friends. Did I mention we had a lot of fun?! So stick around because this entire week is going to be devoted to each of her recipes that I tried!! :)
But for today, let's talk about these brownies!! Ordinarily, I would have opted for a boxed brownie mix and then added the toppings. But in the spirit of the challenge, I decided to be true to her recipe and make the brownies from scratch. It really wasn't difficult at all and they turned out delicious. But, oh my goodness, the chocolate chip cookie dough topping stole the show!! It was easy to whip up as well, and contained no raw eggs. Y'all know I have strict rules about raw eggs, right?
I'd be remiss if I didn't warn you about this ingredient list you are about to read. Surely it should come with a warning from the Surgeon General! :) Five sticks of butter for starters. Yipes! By the time I had completed this recipe I was laughing hysterically at the sheer volume of dessert I had just cranked out. I took this awesome picture with my phone of the pan of brownies atop my kitchen scale weighing in at just under 10 pounds! So, uhm, just make sure you have plenty of people to share the goodies with when you make this recipe! :)
Cookie dough: 3 sticks butter, at room temperature 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 2/3 cup granulated sugar 9 tbsp milk 3 cups all purpose flour 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13" pan with baking spray.
For brownies: Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add sugar and and stir to combine. Keep mixture over heat about 3-4 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Transfer butter and sugar mixture to a mixing bowl, and stir in cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. I whisked these dry ingredients together first before adding them to the sugar mixture.
Next, add the eggs and whisk to combine completely. Lastly, add the flour and stir with spatula or wooden spoon to combine, then stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean in the middle. The edges should appear set and center should appear moist but not uncooked. Cool completely.
For cookie dough: In large bowl, beat together butter and sugars with electric mixer until creamy. Beat in milk. With mixer on low, add flour and mix until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
To assemble, spread cookie dough onto cooled brownies. I put my brownies in the refrigerator for about an hour to speed up this process. Chill the brownies until the cookie dough is firm, then cut into bars. Enjoy!
Sure I've posted a couple of macaroni and cheese recipes before, but can you really have too many? Certainly not if it's this one we're talking about adding. And, as luck would have it, it IS this one we're talking about today ;)
I had to scale this recipe back to half, because Lordy, that's a lot of macaroni and cheese! This recipe does, however, come with one caveat: you have to avoid the short cut of using packaged shredded cheese. Sorry, I didn't make the rules. I just follow them. Shred your own cheese, folks.
For some reason I had the idea in my head that I didn't really like the breadcrumb topping. But that's just crazy talk! It was really good and I was so glad I decided to go ahead with it. The 7 yr old informed me that this does NOT taste as good as the boxed macaroni and cheese. Please do not believe him! The 2 yr old practically inhaled this dish! It was adorable; he simply could not get enough fast enough. Kudos, P! Ku.dos.
2 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon onion salt
2 (10-ounce) blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 4 1/2 cups) and divided (I went with Medium Cheddar)
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (I only had plain breadcrumbs)
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well. Set aside.
Place milk, flour, and onion salt in a quart jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously 1 minute.
Stir together flour mixture, 3 1/2 cups cheese, and macaroni.
Pour macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish or 2 (11-inch) oval baking dishes. Sprinkle evenly with remaining one cup of cheese and then breadcrumbs; drizzle evenly with melted butter.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
While wandering through various Internet parenting sites the other day, I came across an professional who advises parents to never say “Because I said so.” She maintains that if a parent lacks a “logical reason” for a request, the parent should not make the request. And when a child asks for a reason, she tells parents to encourage their children to challenge authority “because the authority over them might not always be looking out for them like you do.”
What say we deconstruct this advice and have a little fun in the process? First, imagine that a parent wants a child to pick up his toys for no reason other than said parent has reached the limit of her tolerance for clutter. What is the “logical reason” here? “I want it done” fails the test. It is subjective.
Furthermore, it may be impossible to secure a consensus of parents who agree that the toys should be picked up. And if the parent in question is seemingly the only person who wants the toys up off the floor and put away, then is it not “logical” that the parent should pick them up herself? It seems that this reasoning applies to any instruction to a child that does not involve the child’s health or safety. Therefore, no parent should ever again request a child to do something simply because the parent wants it done.
Now let’s move on to encouraging children to challenge authority because the authority in question may not have the same interest in the child as the parent. The fact is that no one is more likely to act out of a desire to promote a child’s best interests as the child’s parents. By that standard, the child should obey no one but his parents. But remember, he should obey only if they give him a logical reason for the instruction in question. Otherwise, it is logical that they perform the task themselves.
I think it can be safely asserted that this expert who recommends against “Because I said so” in favor of “logical reasons” is not at all logical. At least, her argument makes no sense to me.
One of a parent’s duties is to prepare his or her child to function responsibly as an adult. That requires that the parent bring reality into the child’s life, slowly but surely. One of the realities I live with is I must obey legitimate authority whether said authority gives me a logical reason or not. For example, I pay a hefty chunk of my income to the government. For at least 80 percent of this payment I have been given no logical reason at all; nonetheless, I pay it. Because they say so.
Likewise, I am given no logical reason why when I cross the border from one state to another, the speed limit sometimes decreases. The road looks the same, as do the surroundings. Nonetheless, I slow down. Because they say so.
In recent months, unknown persons have viewed me without clothes on at the several airport security areas. No one will ever give me a logical reason why a law-abiding citizen of the USA must submit to this procedure, but when the security person tells me to do so, I put my hands in the air, face in the proper direction, and smile for the camera. Because they say so.
In light of the above, I submit that it telling a child that he must obey instructions from legitimate adult authority figures for no reason other than they tell him to obey is right, proper, logical, and in the child’s best interest, not to mention everyone else’s.
Not so much a recipe today; just more of an idea. And a great idea at that! :) I can't remember which blog I found this on, so if you're reading and it was yours then leave me a comment and I'll link back to you!! As soon as I saw them I thought the idea was genius and I was excited to re-create them.
Basically you just customize with whatever pizza toppings you love. Slice open the pita pocket (I ended up slicing mine almost all the way open just to get everything inside), add some pizza sauce and then go from there. For the boys, I just used cheese and turkey pepperoni. The both love pizza, but neither seemed to really be a fan of these. I suspect the whole wheat taste of the pita was what they didn't love. It was quite an overly wheat-y tasting pita :) Mine had mozzarella, turkey pepperoni, sliced red onion, green bell pepper, and black olives.
I baked these on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven. I don't remember my exact cooking time. I got the boys' out after about 8 minutes, but let mine go a little longer since it was obviously more stuffed than theirs.
Whaddya think? Will these be on your menu this week? Or perhaps I'm just on the slow train and everyone's thinking Oh yeah, we totally make these all the time already! ;)
This recipe was perfected by my sister. Don't ask questions. Just do as she says! :) The other day I was going on about how I often use my dinner guests as guinea pigs for blog material. This recipe was originally on the menu one of those evenings but I chickened out and made the Acutally Delicious Turkey Burgers instead.
I ended up making this recipe for a weeknight dinner at home. But no worries here; these turned out great! They can definitely be served to your friends. At least that's my opinion. And I'm willing to admit that I'm slightly biased :) In fact, this whole blog, as well as everything that I cook and/or bake, is strictly for my own amusement anyway. (Uhm, wow, passive-aggressive much?) The sandwich in the picture was mine. Yum! The 7 yr old decided he would just eat the meat, sans the bun. I'm pretty sure the 2 yr old didn't eat that night. I have trouble remembering since he only seems to require food every 2.5 days.
Recipe adapted from Pillsbury Soup and Crockpot Recipes
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
8 oz Velveeta cheese, diced
2 Tbls milk
1 can Rotel
2 splashes Worcestershire sauce
8 hamburger buns
Toppings of your choice (lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.)
In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey with the onion, garlic, and green bell pepper until thoroughly cooked. Drain.
Transfer the meat mixture to a crockpot, add in the Velveeta, milk, Rotel, and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and cook on high about 3 hours or low for 6 hours. To serve, spoon mixture onto hamburger buns
But who needs those 76 degree summer evenings with that cool ocean breeze and the lovely scent of salt water in the air? ;) Doesn't all seem right with the universe when it's still 95 degrees outside an hour after the sun has set? Ok, maybe not
1.) Buy my sister a birthday gift! Why do I not have her gift already? (Rhetorical question) I mean, it's not like her birthday sneaks up on me every year. Because WE SHARE THE SAME BIRTHDAY! So I have no excuse. I shall remedy the situation before the big day. Probably the day before the big day :)
Kellie on the left, me on the right
2.) Clean my refrigerator. Because John Tesh says we should clean, yes, clean, not just "clean out", our refrigerators once a month. He also says we should remove our laundry from the washer within 30 minutes, lest bacteria start to grow. Pshaw! Shows what he knows!! ;)
Not my fridge...
Hmm, that sure looks like the outside of my fridge! The inside? Not so much
(photo via Google)
3.) Teach the 7 yr old to tie his shoes. Or beg request his Occupational Therapist to please (please!) help a mom out!
But in the meantime? God bless the person who invented the Z strap!!!