Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Specialties

Peanuts characters are © Charles M. Schulz


I am whipping up a few of my favorites for Thanksgiving Dinner today. Thought I would share the recipes with you. These are super easy ways to make the ordinary a little more extraordinary. On today, I am happy to say, I am so thankful for my friends - who are my family - because without you, I would not be as courageous as a I am. If you decide to make one of these recipes, please know that you don't have to follow it specifically. For example, no sausage - that's fine just add the veggies or no spiced cider, just use regular. Enjoy your special day!

1 bag Fresh Cranberries (12oz)
1 cup Spiced Cider
1 cup Sugar

Add all ingredients to a pot, heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Once they are bubbling, simmer until most have popped open, approx 5-10 minutes. Pour into a dish and cool.

1 large box Stuffing w/ seasonings
1 Onion
3 sprigs Celery
2 Apples
1 package sausage
4 Tbsp Butter
2 Cups Chicken or Turkey Stock
4 Eggs
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook sausage in pan breaking up into small pieces. Once cooked thoroughly, remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl and set aside. Chop Onions, Celery and start to sautee in pan that you cooked sausage in. Add salt & Pepper to taste. Chop Apple and add to pan. Continue to sautee until soft, approx 2 more minutes. Add all of this mixture to the bowl with sausage. Add bread from stuffing mix to same bowl and begin to mix. In a separate bowl mix 2 cups stock with 4 eggs. Slowly start pouring liquid and seasonings mixture into bread mixture a little at a time. Continue to mix so that all of the stuffing is lightly wet and not soggy. Now pour all ingredients into a well buttered casserole dish. Cover casserole dish and bake at 350' for approx 30 minutes. Remove cover, dot top with butter and cook until golden brown, approx 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crock Pot Chili-Lite

It has been getting chilly for Southern Cal... down into the 40's at night. Burr! This winter weather has me hankering for a slow cooked warm meal in my crock pot. I am not a bean connoisseur, but I am a healthy meal and leftovers connoisseur... My kids will eat up anything that has beans in it, so making a meal full of beans not only uses what I already have in my cupboards, but gives me a meal that seriously will last all week if I want it to. Here's how I made it and there are a few different ways to serve it up!

2lb. can Pinto Beans
14oz. can Black Beans
14oz. can chopped tomatoes
4oz. can tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots peeled & diced
1 brown onion diced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper seeded & diced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper seeded & diced
1/2 Anaheim Chili seeded & diced (more to preferred spice)
1/2lb lean ground turkey
4oz. Gimme Lean Ground Sausage (vegetarian)
1 Chili seasoning packet
Salt & pepper to taste

Seed, peel & chop all veggies. Start cooking in a pan over medium heat by sauteeing onion, diced peppers, ground turkey and sausage in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add a dash of salt & pepper as well as some of the chili spices. Cook until meat is not pink.

Rinse beans and drain. Add beans, meat mixture and the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot. Add more or less water as needed. Note, I use a half of the small can of tomato paste. This chili is mild - so my kids would eat it, if you like it spicy add the seeds from the peppers (the seeds are what hold the majority of the spice) and include the whole Anaheim chili and additional 1-2 jalapeno peppers can be diced and added if you like to really turn up the heat.

Turn the crock pot on Medium. Thoroughly mix all ingredients. Cover the crock pot and leave it set for 4-6 hours. Since the meat is pre-cooked, you can technically eat at anytime, it just tastes better if all the ingredients are given some time to melt into eachother.

Chili over Baked Potatoes
Chili Hot Dogs
Chili 'n Mac 'n Cheese
Chili & Grilled Cheese

Not only did this recipe warm my home, but it also warmed all of our bellies many times over. Bonus, I felt like a good mama since there was not really any added fat and we all got an extra serving of veggies in the form of the peppers & carrots. My kids had no idea. And it reminded me, I need to make some split pea soup again because it's a similar idea and they devour their veggies like there is no tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tacos de Pescado

When I visit San Felipe, I crave Fish Tacos! There is something about being on the coast in Mexico that requires me to eat Fish Tacos and lots of them. Unfortunately, there are very few restaurants locally where they will serve you up such a delicious fresh treat. Rubio's has made it's mark on the Fish Taco. Many try to duplicate it, but for a fast food chain - they know what they are doing with their fish!

From time to time, I have been offered fresh fish and have no idea what I'm going to do with it. It used to sit in my freezer until I felt like creating some delicious fish dish. Quite frankly, I strongly believe most fresh fish should be grilled the same day it's been plucked out of the ocean. However, that is not always an option.

Wondering what to do with this fresh fish someone gifted us, I happened to stumble across a recipe that I was compelled to attempt. Some of it was a bit much for me, but the basics really make this dish. This gets to be quite messy with all the different ingredients and steps. But I swear when you are done, you will not be satisfied with just two tacos.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup beer (dark Mexican beer)

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon minced capers (optional)

1 quart oil for frying
1 pound cod fillets (or other fish), cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions
1 (12 oz) package corn tortillas (warmed)
1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded
lime, cut in wedges


Beer batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Blend egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture.

White sauce: In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly runny. Season with cayenne, cumin, oregano and dill (optional: minced jalapeno and capers).

Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). If you don't have a deep-fryer, simply heat 2-3 inches of oil on medium high in a deep pan on your stovetop.

Dust fish pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. Approximately 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Warm tortillas and place fried fish in a tortilla, top with white sauce and shredded cabbage. Serve with a wedge of lime, salsa of your preference and diced avocados if you so desire.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Appropriate Food Portions

Recently, I ran across the fun read "Finding Betty Crocker" and was reading a page out of the original Betty Crocker Cookbook, that spoke about Meat Portions as it referred to stretching the meat that each family was rationed post WWII. That got me to thinking about our portions today. I cringe when I see someone force there child to finish a happy meal that has almost 1,000 calories or a heaping plate of food when I know that child's belly can only process so much at one time. To note, I am not against withholding food from children. But serving up and helping them to understand appropriate portions is an important part of my job as a parent. And my responsibility to taking care of myself is to eat in appropriate portions --- most of the time;)

After a little research, I found a great resource through the Listing normal foods and appropriate portions. I am still shocked to see that appropriate beef strip steak is only 5oz. I would challenge most people to find this portion already sliced and available for purchase at the average grocer. Instead, the portions that are available to us to purchase make us feel like we are depriving ourselves if we do not eat the entire thing in one meal. Unfortunately, that leads us to overeating... and to where we are today with an ever growing obesity rate and portion distortion that is out of control.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Taco Tuesdays

I've gotta tell ya - I love Taco Tuesdays! Way back when I started planning family dinners weekly, I quickly coined Tuesdays as "Taco Tuesdays." I could eat Mexican food every meal of every day for the rest of my life and be completely satisfied. Sometimes Taco Tuesdays consist of enchilada's, carnitas or when I'm really busy, quesadillas and beans. But tonight was a sincere Taco Tuesday Night. Now, I've been trying to cut back on my fats and eat a little lighter while always hiding lots of hearty vegetables so my kids will eat 'em. Add beans to any plate and my little girl is a happy camper.

(Serves 4)

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
4 oz firm tofu
Vegetable Oil
1/2 bell pepper chopped finely
1/4 medium onion chopped finely
Steak Seasonings (garlic, salt, pepper)
Taco Seasonings (like Lawry's)
Pace Picante Salsa as needed
1 can Pinto Beans
Taco Shells
1/2 cup Shredded cheese
iceberg lettuce chopped finely
Optional: Sour Cream, Guacamole


1. Start by chopping all the veggies. Tonight I had a mixture of red, yellow and green bell peppers. Choose whatever is in season.

2. Ground Beef - Heat a large pan on medium heat and add 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil. Start sauteing 90% of the vegetables in the pan. Add 3-4 dashes of steak seasonings. Add ground beef and tofu chopped into small pieces, break apart and stir while cook. Add taco seasonings and Pace Picante to your liking. Continue to stir until fully cooked.

3. Beans - Heat a medium sauce pan on medium heat, add 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil and sautee the rest of the vegetables with 3 dashes of steak seasonings in this pan. Rinse and drain beans in colander and add to sauce pan. Heat on medium heat until warm, then keep on l ow until ready to serve. If you prefer refried style beans, mash these up a little and they will be a healthier version of your favorite fried legume.

4. Taco Shells - it's easy to find the pre-made taco shells in most grocery stores. And to tell you the truth, I don't mind them - they remind me of my childhood in the 70's. But for an authentic taco shell, pick up some small corn tortillas. In a small to medium frying pan heat 1-2 inches of Vegetable Oil on medium high until it reaches 350'. With tongs, add one corn tortilla to the oil until it starts puffing. Bend in half and continue cooking for a few more seconds until lightly golden. Remove from oil and place on towels to drain.

Now, you'll want to stuff the fresh taco shells while they are still warm. I prefer a layer of beans, followed by the ground beef, sour cream, shredded cheese, Pace Picante and lettuce. It seems to hold everything together nicely. But fix however you and your kids prefer. This is a fun meal to let kids put together themselves. Just give them the pieces and let them go to town. Tonight my son ate his taco upside down and my daughter removed all the contents from the shell, mixed the beans in with it and ate it with a fork.

Dinner Planning Tip - pick whatever theme's you like and assign them to a night. Then when you start planning, you have an outline to go by. Here's a few I use: Spaghetti Sundays, Asian Wednesdays, Meatless Mondays, Pizza Fridays, etc..