Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chicken Bouillabaisse (Garlicky Chicken Stew)

Abe got Jimi a Play Station 3 for Christmas this year and was very excited to start streaming movies through it.  We used to watch movies all the time when we were dating, but once little kids came into the picture, suddenly we... ok, I mean I.... was too tired to go out to the movie rental place to stand there for 30 minutes, trying to remember the movie I had wanted to see back 5 months ago.  Then, by the time we get it back home, I'm ready for bed.  Hey, you try getting up with 2 babies every night for the last 2+ years.  I used to be more exciting, I swear.

So, Netflix members, we now are.  I was excited to choose the first movie.... Julie and Julia.  A movie about... surprise.... a food blogger and how she cooked her way through Julia Child's iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook.  We both really liked the movie.  And it put us in a French cooking kind of mood, something I don't cook very often at all.

While I don't have a Julia Child cookbook, my mother did just get me an Ina Garten cookbook.  She's well-versed in French cooking, so I thought it close enough.

I know the title can seem overwhelming and way too fancy/hard/snooty/uppity/you-chose-the-adjective.  But it wasn't.  It did take a bit of time to slow cook, so make sure you set aside about 2 hours.  Perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon.

The ingredients have a few things that might not be in your pantry (do you have a pantry?  Man, I'd love a walk in pantry....).  I, personally, never heard of Pernod.  It's a licorice flavored liquor that's hard to come by- any licorice liquor will do; I used arak, an Arabic spirit, but ouzo will do too.  If you don't have any of these, or don't want to, white wine will do.

Saffron can be found in most grocery stores in the spice section.  It's a bit pricey, but it lasts a long time and adds a delicate flavor to the dish.

Now, onto the rouille.   This stuff is so damn good.  Don't skip this part of the recipe, thinking it's too hard.  It's not, but it does take a slow hand (you older folk will remember the song I'm referring too and the younger ones can google it).  And when I say slow, I mean, slooooooow.  After getting the all of the ingredients in the food processor and you're ready to add the olive oil, make sure you have a few minutes to spend on it.  Turn the processor on and add a few drops of the oil and watch it emulsify.  Add a very,very thin stream of oil into the processor until it's all in.  If you did it slow enough, you have a mayo-like sauce.  If you didn't, it still tastes freakishly good and can be used in the recipe.   I like the leftover sauce on sandwiches.  Yum.

So, make this recipe and then brag to your friends how you're a French chef.  Even if you are like me and can't correctly pronounce the dish.


Chicken Bouillabaisse
Serves 3-4

1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or any combo of chicken pieces on the bone)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Olive oil
1 large head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups good chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Pernod  (or any licorice-flavored spirit or white wine)
1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
Rouille, for serving, recipe follows

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it generously with salt, pepper, and the rosemary. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces in batches until nicely browned all over, about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, saffron, fennel seeds, tomato puree, chicken stock, white wine, Pernod, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper to the pot. Stir and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the garlic is very tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Carefully pour the sauce into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree until smooth. Return the sauce to the Dutch oven and add the sliced potatoes and browned chicken pieces with their juices. Stir carefully.

Cover the pot and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is done. Check the seasonings and serve hot in shallow bowls with big dollops of Rouille and slices of crusty bread.


4 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup good olive oil

Place the garlic and salt on a cutting board and mince together. Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.

With the machine running, pour the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube to make a thick mayonnaise emulsion. Transfer the rouille to a serving bowl and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: 1 cup

                        Bouillabaisse Soup

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Streusel Muffins

What better thing to do on a cold post-Christmas day, but make muffins?  You know Adam's game.  He was pushing his chair up to the chopping block as soon as I asked "Do you want to bake muffins?"  That boy is going to be a chef by the time he's grown.

I wanted to make something with apples, so I adapted 2 recipes I got off of the net to make this apple strussel muffin. 

Adam loved eating the raw strussel topping while we baked so much that he muttered "Mmmm, yummy" with each fistful.  Only in childhood can you eat raw butter and sugar without guilt.

It's made with 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour.  I use a white whole wheat that is lighter than the average whole wheat.  If you're not interested in using whole wheat, you can just replace it with white flour.

Don't overfill the muffin tin, as the muffins will all meld together to make one massive streusel-topped apple muffin mess.  On the other hand, that might not be a terrible problem to have.....


Cinnamon Apple Streusel Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (I used Granny Smith)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle with the steusel mixture (see recipe below).  Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

Streusel Topping

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened  
Mix ingredients well together, either with a pastry cutter, fork or even you hand.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thumbprint Cookies

I'm doing Christmas cookies for the first time this year.  I hadn't planned on doing it, but I got seduced by the cookie article in my Food Network magazine.  Damn.  Now I'm doing 3 types (well, 2 for sure.. not sure if I will have time to make the third one).  On top of cooking Christmas dinner.   With a toddler and infant in tow. 

Yeah, I'm a wee bit crazy.  But I was seduced, so I can't be blamed.

The dough for this one was pretty crumbly.  Not sure if it was supposed to be like that, but it still worked.  It just was a bit messier than I had expected.  The cookies came out well.  They are tiny, so you can enjoy a few without feeling too guilty.  I used apricot preserves and "superfruit" jam because that's what I had on hand.  Any jam or jelly would do just fine.


Thumbprint Cookies
Makes 72 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, softened (1 and 1/2 sticks)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Jelly, jam or preserves, any fruit flavors
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  In a large bowl, cream sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.  In two batches, add flour mixture until just combined.  Knead a few times by hand to bring the dough together.

Roll teaspoons of the dough into balls and place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Make an indentation in the center of each ball with your thumb or small measuring spoon.  Fill each indentation with 1/8 teaspoon of jam.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Olive Oil Muffins

Today, the windchill is -1, so it's a stay-inside-make-muffins kind of day.  I was tired of making the typical banana muffins that Adam and I make, so I searched for a new recipe while drinking my morning coffee. 

Oh, and the one I found is delicious.  It's so delicious, in fact, that I suspect it's closer to a cupcake.  But, it being called a muffin makes me feel better about eating 2 (or 3) of them, so muffin it is!

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Olive oil muffin being that tasty?  And with balsamic vinegar??  Did I lose my mind?  I'll admit, the name of the recipe isn't the most appealing.  But I assure you, make them and you will not be a skeptic anymore.  Come back and let me know how wrong you were initially!

I didn't add the toasted almonds because Adam is being tested for a tree nut allergy.  So, I replaced them with raisins.  But if he passes the test, then I'm adding them the next time. 

I got the recipe from  Picture is mine.


Olive Oil Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar, for sifting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

Blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, eggs, and zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vinegar and milk. Gradually beat in the oil.

Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Crush the almonds with your hands as you add them to the batter and stir until mixed. Fill the muffin tin almost to the top of the paper liners. Bake until golden on top and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins onto a platter and let cool for 5 more minutes. Sift powdered sugar over the muffins and serve.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken

No exciting story behind this one (you know, as opposed to my other exciting food blog stories..... snicker).  I needed to feed the crew and after Abe being out of the country for business for 2 weeks, I had not a lot in the fridge.  But I needed a slow cooker recipe to make the boys happy, so off I went to search.  And this is what I came up with.  And good lordy, is it easy.

Abe loved it.  Like, really loved it.  I was almost embarrassed about how good he claimed it tasted and for the glowing looks I was getting during dinner because I kept thinking that I probably should tell him it's the cream cheese he was falling in love with, not my cooking ability.  But hey, pleased as punch was I.

Jimi on the other hand did not like the black beans and I am pretty sure he freaked himself out over seeing tomatoes in the dish (HATES tomatoes).  Even when told it was just salsa, which he loves very much, he still had a "I see tomatoes in my food!" look on his face.  He did say the chicken part (you know, the only thing left) tasted good.  Abe declared how wrong he was and promptly snatched up Jimi's plate and finished his portion of chicken for him. 

Did I mention Abe really liked it?

The only thing I didn't like about the recipe was that not all of the cream cheese melted into the dish, so clumps were visible.  I think that was because I didn't give the cheese enough time to melt before feeding the hungry ones.  I'd give it a good 1/2 hour on high to melt.  It didn't affect the taste, just the appearance.

I got the recipe from   I served it over rice, but it looks like it would be good over egg noodles too.


Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts(can be frozen)
15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
15-ounce can corn, drained
16-ounce salsa
8-ounce cream cheese

Add chicken to slow cooker and cover with black beans, corn and salsa.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours until chicken is cooked.  Place cream cheese on top and cook an additional 30 minutes.  Serve.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes

 I was invited to a ladies brunch and white elephant exchange (love those!) with a group of good friends.   We were equally excited for the chance to all hang out sans kids and laugh, as well as the yummy foods that were going to be served.  And then there were the mimosas.....

I decided to bring a cupcake and set out to find a new recipe.  I decided to check out a site called The Cupcake Project, a website that was created by a woman who decided to make cupcakes for a friend's wedding, even though she didn't know how to bake.  She spent a 9 months making a new cupcake every week for them to try and then decide on 3 for their wedding.  She's gone on to do 2 more weddings and now is doing a charity project.  So, she's got a lot of cupcake recipes, needless to say.

My heart raced a bit when I saw the recipe for the Eggnog Latte cupcake.  The host of the party the host of our Monday morning Smelly Boys play dates.  Our routine is to rotate who brings the Starbucks lattes and Nancy loves her Eggnog Latte.  So, what could be more fitting?

I think they were delicious.  Abe had several of my leftovers.  The cupcake has a distinct eggnog flavor and the frosting is different than the average, but very scrumptious.   It probably not for kids with the amount of coffee in the frosting, so reserve it for your favorite adult people.

Coffee extract is something you can order online, but I made my own.  I made a VERY strong coffee and simmered it in a pot for 30 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate until use.  It's recommended to do at least the day before.  You probably could also take instant coffee and add a little bit of water as a substitute too.

Recipe and photo are from


Eggnog Latte Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups eggnog
1/4 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 350°F. and line twenty-four 1/2-cup muffin cups with paper liners.

Into a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy and beat in vanilla.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and with mixer on low speed beat in eggnog and rum until just combined.

Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating until just combined after each addition.


1 cup chilled whipping cream
8 oz mascarpone
2 teaspoon coffee extract
1/4 cup ground coffee
2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar (depending upon how thick you prefer frosting)

Whip up whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Fold in mascarpone, coffee extract, and coffee grinds. Then while mixing over low speed, slowly add the confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, being careful not to over whip frosting.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Strawberry-Banana Muffins

When you're a stay at home mom of a toddler, you end up baking a lot of muffins.  Well, at least I do.  It's a way to break up the day and give the little guy something fun to do with Mama.  He loves to push his chair up and help me stir the ingredients.  Here's a picture of him in action....

Usually I'm trying to use up old bananas, but today I realized our uber-large carton of Costco strawberries were going bad already.  There's something about being at Costco for too long that makes their ginormous container suddenly seem average size.  Until you get it home and you realize it's the size of your first apartment's bathroom.  Anyway, I digress.

So, off I went to search for a new muffin recipe for the two of us and came across a basic and healthy one.  We both loved it.  I'm thinking this would be a good candidate for a little sweet streusel topping next time.  Mmmmm.

It calls for whole wheat flour, which I know not everyone likes for their baked goods.  I use it because Adam is none the wiser right now.  I use a white whole wheat flour that uses a lighter whole wheat that has a more delicate flavor.  Don't get me wrong, it ain't no white flour.  But it's a big improvement on the standard whole wheat.  If you're not keen on the whole wheat, you can always use 1/2 whole wheat/white flour.  Or just use all white flour.  I won't judge.
I got this recipe from


Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12

2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas, mashed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen unsweetened

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 12 large muffin cups, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and bananas. Combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon; Stir into the banana mixture until moistened. Stir in the strawberries until evenly distributed. Spoon batter into muffin cups until completely filled.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed lightly. Cool before removing from the muffin tins.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crunchy Oven Fried Tilapia

Crispy and flavorful fish is always great, but often times it has to be fried in order to get that result. Great for the taste buds, but not so good for the waistline (or arteries). 

While this recipe isn't exactly fried fish, it is a tasty and healthy alternative.  Abe and Adam loved it.  Adam even had fun helping me make it.  Well, he mainly watched me make it, while stealing bits of the cornmeal/bread crumb mixture (kids eat the weirdest things).  But it would be an easy meal for older kids to make.  The drizzle of olive oil crisps up the fish.  If you want to avoid the calories, you can spray them with a non-stick cooking spray or even just bake them as is.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on

I served it with roasted maple glazed acorn squash and brown rice.


Crunchy Oven Fried Tilapia
Serves 4

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg white
4 tilapia fillets or loins
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Sift or stir flour, salt, and pepper together in a shallow dish, and set aside. In a bowl, beat egg whites until white and frothy. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs with cornmeal and spices.

To bread the fillets, dip first into flour, shaking off any excess, then into egg whites, then into bread crumb mixture. 

Spray a shallow baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Lay fillets flat in the dish, tucking under any thinner ends or edges for more even cooking. Drizzle olive oil on top of fillets. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a folk.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Barbecued Pork Chops

Nothing fancy- just a quick way to cook up some pork chops.  I had something in the oven and couldn't use the broiler, so I used my grill pain.  Jimi, especially, enjoyed it and asked for seconds.

I'd write more, but I'm multitasking by NWB... Nursing While Blogging.  :-)

I got the recipe from  I served it with roasted butternut squash and homemade coleslaw.


Barbecued Pork Chops

1/4  cup  packed brown sugar
1/4  cup  ketchup
1  tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce

Remaining ingredients:
6  (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
1  teaspoon  dried thyme
1  teaspoon  garlic salt
1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
Cooking spray

Prepare grill or broiler.

To prepare sauce, combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Place 1/4 cup sauce in a small bowl, and set aside.

Trim fat from pork. Combine the thyme, garlic salt, and pepper; sprinkle over pork. Place pork on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; cook 6 minutes on each side, basting with remaining sauce. Serve pork chops with reserved 1/4 cup sauce.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beer Can Chicken

My best friend and her husband have made one of these on their grill.  When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe that the ink from the can doesn't seep into the chicken.  I guess it doesn't, but hmmm.... still was an odd concept to me.

Until I saw it made on Food Network and just had to try it.  It looked so funny and I thought Jimi would get a kick out of seeing a chicken with a can up his wahoo.   He did.  You can barely see the can in my picture, but it does make for a pretty funny presentation. 

If I weren't nursing, I would've enjoyed the bit of beer you drain off to prevent major overspill.  You, on the other hand, I recommend sipping it while the chicken cooks. 

The meat turns out flavorful and very juicy.  It can also be made on the grill. 


Beer Can Chicken

1 (2 to 3-pound) whole chicken
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 (12-ounce) can beer

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Wash chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Mix dry ingredients in small bowl. Rub 1/2 of the ingredients on inside cavity of chicken. Gently peel skin away from chicken and rub mixture into meat of chicken. Open beer can pour out about 1/2 cup. Drop the garlic cloves into the beer can. Place chicken, open end down, over the beer can to insert the beer into the cavity. Place chicken, standing up, in large saute pan.

Place chicken in the oven for 10 minutes and then lower temperature to 325 degrees F and cook for another 1 hour, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin

Looking for an incredibly basic and tasty recipe?  Try this, especially when you realize late in the day that you forgot to plan for dinner.  4 ingredients and bam! You've got a tasty dinner.  Abe ate his up.

I got the recipe on  I served it with broccoli mashed potatoes.


Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons steak seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 lb. pork loin, trimmed of fat

Mix first 3 ingredients together in a bowl.  Pour over pork in a resealable bag.  Marinate from 2 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pork and marinate in glass baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, until internal temperature reads 145 degrees, about an hour.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Cupcake are the new rage.  Cupcake shops are popping up on every corner.  Wedding receptions and 1st birthday parties everywhere have cupcake towers, filled with not just the average white cake and butter cream frosting varieties.  No, these cupcakes have names like Bumpalicious and flavors like Egg Nog and Peanut Butter and Jelly.  And, the biggest indicator of the fad's popularity.... a reality show called Cupcake Wars (yeah, I don't predict it to last).

I have a group of friends who meet every Monday morning for a play date with our toddler boys.  We call it the Smelly Boy group; 6 toddler boys, plus 2 infant boys and 2 infant girls, all pile into a play room to play, throw tantrums, smack a kid or two (that wouldn't be my son :::cough::::) and have a pretty good time, while the moms enjoy lattes and a homemade dessert.  My friend Nancy is usually the host and also usually the pastry chef.  But this week I wanted to pitch in.  And when I saw this recipe, I couldn't type "I'm making the treat this week!" fast enough.

And wow.  They were good.  Really, really good. And surprisingly easy.  Baking isn't my forte, but this came out pretty good.

I got the cupcake recipe from Rachael Ray magazine.  I originally was going to swap out their frosting recipe, which seemed to get poor ratings, for a cinnamon cream cheese frosting I've done before.  But a cooking misstep (me forgetting to add the dry ingredients to the wet) made me have to pitch a batch of cupcakes and therefore, have to use the cream cheese needed for the frosting.  So, I switched it to a cinnamon buttercream frosting.  I'm sure they'd taste good with the cream cheese frosting, too.   


Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes


One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2teaspoons salt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking liners. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar for 3 minutes. Beat in 1 egg white and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. 

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, granulated sugar, oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture.  

Layer each muffin cup with some of the pumpkin batter, then the cream cheese mixture, then more of the batter. Bake until springy to the touch, 25 minutes. Let cool.  Frost and enjoy.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter, at room temp.
3-3/4 C confectioners' sugar
3 Tbsp. milk (or more)
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 tsp. cinnamon

Place butter in large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low until fluffy, 30 seconds. Add conf. sugar, 3 Tbsp.. milk and vanilla. Blend on low until sugar is incorporated, 1 min. Add cinnamon, increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 min. more. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chipotle-Barbeque Chicken

No real story behind this recipe.  I just happened to see it in my new Rachael Ray magazine and thought the boys would like it.  And boy was I right.  We had the kids' cousins over today and boys declared that the chicken was "sooooo good" and everyone cleaned their plates.  Well, except for the salad, but that's to be expected.

I found the sauce to be a bit chunky (I guess I needed to chop the onions more finely), so I'd maybe run it through a blender if that bothers you.  It didn't make a difference to my tasters.

Helpful Tip Alert....The chipotle in adobe sauce is often times something that goes to waste.  You buy the can to use in a recipe that calls for one of the peppers and a tablespoon of the sauce and you don't know what to do with the rest.  You think you're going to maybe make a Mexican dish later in the week, you never end up doing it and you are forced to throw the rest of the can away.  Well, one way to store the leftover is in a small freezer bag, laid flat.  That way, whenever your recipe calls for some chipotle, all you have to do is snap off a piece.

I served it with smashed potatoes and salad.

Photo from Rachael Ray's website.


Chipotle-Barbeque Chicken
Serves 4

3 tablespoons butter
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
8 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce to the skillet. Add the ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes (throw it in a blender or use a stick blender if you want a smooth sauce).

3.Using tongs, coat the chicken in the sauce and place skin side up on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Garlicky Roasted Pork Loin

It's no secret that I am not a chef.  I can't create my own recipe and don't even try.  I don't remember what the purpose of baking soda is in a recipe or what braising does to a piece of meat versus searing. 

I'm queen of looking up a recipe online, though, and have gotten pretty good at knowing what my family will find tasty.  I am pretty good at reading the recipe and duplicating it, even if I can't taste it to adjust seasonings.

This recipe, however, is my first semi-own recipe and even came up with its name (super fancy, wouldn't you say?).   And I'm proud to say that Abe loved it so much, he wants me to serve it on Thanksgiving.  So, yea me!   And Jimi gave it a "that was yummy!" kiss of approval.

It came from me realizing that I didn't have a pot roast, but actually had a pork roast (yes, one is beef and the other is pork and the only similarity was the roast part.. duh).   So, the recipe I wanted to do didn't apply.  I scrambled to find a recipe in order to get dinner ready for my hungry boys.  I didn't want to follow the recipe completely, so I modified it to meet my needs.  And I'm glad I did.

Now, it's nothing fancy, but just a tasty way to serve that pork loin you found on sale.   I served it with brown rice and green beans.  Abe and Jimi enjoyed the leftovers the next day wrapped in a tortilla with sauteed onions and salsa.


Garlicky Roasted Pork Loin

1 (3-4 lb.) boneless pork loin roast
8-10 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

With a paring knife, make small slits over the top of the roast.  Push garlic cloves into each slit. 

In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and rub over entire roast. 

Bake, uncovered, in oven for 2 to 3 hours, until meat thermometer reads 160-170 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Indian Spiced Vegetable

Abe requested that I cook vegetarian a few times this week because he's trying to get healthy.  I had just gotten a new Rachael Ray cooking book (yes, to add to my 50 million other cookbooks...) and thought this would be a good try.  Abe isn't always the hugest fan of Indian food, but he really did like this one.

Don't let the interesting combination of hot vegetables on top of cold salad turn you off to the dish; the combo actually is really good.. now I know what they mean on cooking shows about contrasts in food and this one has hot/cold and tender/crunchy. And since there is no rice or starch, the recipe is super healthy.

And yes, the picture is mine.  Finally.


Indian Spiced Vegetables
Serves 4

Spice Blend

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (not ground cumin)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pinches cinnamon

3 large waxy white potatoes, peeled and diced
Coarse salt
1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus some for drizzling
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 15- ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup frozen green peas
1 small head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
4 radishes, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the ingredients for the spice blend and set aside.

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water.  Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil.  Take off the lid and add salt.  Boil the potatoes for 6-7 minutes, then add the cauliflower to the same pot.  Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, then drain.  The potatoes and cauliflower should still be a little undercooked.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil, then the butter.  When the butter melts into the oil, add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the drained potatoes and cauliflower and the chickpeas and combine.  Stir the spice blend into the vegetables and cook for a minutes or two to develop flavors.  Stir in the stock and turn the vegetables to evenly distribute.  The dish will turn a bright yellow.  Cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes longer.  Add the peas and turn off the heat.  The carry-over heat will warm them through.  Taste to adjust the salt of the dish.

In a large bowl, combine the shredded lettuce with the almonds, radishes, mint and parsley or cilantro.  Dress the salad with the lemon juice, a drizzle of vegetable oil and some salt.  Pile the salad on plates, top with the hot vegetables and serve.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spiced-Rubbed Roasted Salmon with Lemon Garlic Spinach

I had about 10 minutes to find a way to make one piece of salmon for Abe's dinner and use up a bag of spinach that was going bad.  Voila!  Healthy, easy and very tasty.  I looked like a rock star to the husband and little does he know it was a last minute scramble!

I know the recipe calls for one big piece of salmon, but it could easily be used with fillets.  

I paired it with asparagus risotto from Trader Joe's. 

I got the recipe from (along with photo).


Spice-Rubbed Roasted Salmon with Lemon Garlic Spinach
Serves 4

1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon  ground coriander
1/4  teaspoon  paprika
1/8  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1  (2 1/4-pound) skinless salmon fillet
2  cups  thinly sliced onion
Cooking spray

1  teaspoon  olive oil
2  garlic cloves, minced
2  (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
1  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare salmon, combine first 6 ingredients; rub spice mixture evenly over fish. Place onion in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Place fish on top of onion; bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

To prepare spinach, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add half of spinach; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add remaining spinach; cook 4 minutes or until wilted, stirring frequently. Sprinkle spinach mixture with rind and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in juice; remove from heat.

Place salmon on a plate. Arrange onions and spinach evenly around salmon

1st Blog Giveaway!

In honor of my little pumpkin's 2nd birthday, I'm giving away a $10 Target giftcard when we reach 150 Facebook fans.  All you have to do is become a follower on the blog and then go to my Facebook page and make sure to "like" it.  That's all!   Spread the word to friends and family!

Happy birthday, Adam!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chicken in Wine Cream Sauce

I'm back! 

You missed me, right?  6 weeks ago, I gave birth to our little girl, Ava.  She has brought a lot of joy to our house... and also, a lot of work!  Having 2 children under 2 years of age (my husband seems proud of the fact and tells people we're in the 2 under 2 club) makes time management a tricky thing, to say the least. So I haven't been food blogging or trying many new recipes. I actually didn't have to do a lot of cooking right after she was born either. I am lucky to belong to a playgroup that will bring meals to a member right after they have a baby.  So, I didn't have to cook for 3 entire weeks!  As much as I love to cook, it was soooo nice to have someone bring me a complete meal so I could just enjoy my family. 

But, now I'm back in the saddle and I found a great new recipe.  And it's healthy, so you can enjoy its creamy goodness and not feel an ounce of guilt.

I got the recipe from, including photo.   I served it over brown rice.

Man, it's good to be back!


Chicken in Wine Cream Sauce
Serves 4

2  teaspoons  dried oregano
2  teaspoons  dried basil
1 1/2  teaspoons  dried rosemary
1  teaspoon  garlic powder
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  pepper
1/4  teaspoon  paprika
4  teaspoons  olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
8  chicken thighs, skinned (about 2 1/4 pounds)  

1/3  cup  all-purpose flour
2 1/4  cups  1% low-fat milk
1  cup  dry white wine
2  cups  sliced mushrooms
1/4  cup  tub-style light cream cheese

Combine first 7 ingredients and 2 teaspoons oil in a small bowl; rub over chicken. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan; set aside.

Place flour in a bowl; gradually add milk and wine, stirring with a whisk until blended. Add to skillet, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is done. Add mushrooms; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; cover and set aside. Add cheese to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring constantly with a whisk. Place 1/2 cup rice on each of 4 plates.

Calories: 444
Fat: 14.5 grams

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pasta with Squash, Brown Butter and Rosemary

We don't eat a lot of pasta in this house.  Not sure why because I do love a good plate of noodles.  I think in the past I've gotten the impression that if it doesn't have a good amount of red sauce on it, Abe's not that into it.  He does love my spinach lasagna, though, so that's my old standby.

When I saw this recipe, something about it just appealed to me.  It looked simple, but tasty.  Plus, I had most of the ingredients, which helps when you're 40 weeks pregnant (today is my due date!).  I just needed a butternut squash, which I figured would hold if I happened to go into labor before getting a chance to cook dinner (which didn't happen).

At first, Abe was a bit hesitant to call this dish a winner... I think his need-for-sauce bias got in the way.  But but the end of the dinner, he exclaimed that it was really tasty.  Phew.  I, myself, loved it.  It has a delicate, yet hardy flavor.  It makes for a great break from the red.  Adam gobbled his up, too, so this might be a nice dish for our little ones.

An easy way to peel the butternut squash is to cut a little off of each end, so there's a flat spot to stand it up on.  Then using a very sharp knife, just run it down the length to remove the skin.

The recipe calls for broken lasagna noodles, which gives the dish a homemade noodle feeling (people will think you're a fabulous cook!).  It's also a great way to use up those broken noodles that are almost always in the box.  Collect them as you use the whole noodles for other things and you will have enough in no time.  Of course, you can use a new box, like I did, and just break them up.

I got this recipe from my Rachael Ray magazine.  Photo is mine, for once (loving my new camera!).


Pasta with Squash, Brown Butter and Rosemary
Serves 4

One 3-pound butternut squash- peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 onion,   chopped to similar size as squash cubes
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 1/2 teaspoon of dried)
Salt and pepper
2/3 pound lasagna noodles,  broken into pieces
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss the squash, onion, olive oil and rosemary; season with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet and roast until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain and transfer to a large bowl.

3.  In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice.

4.  Add the roasted squash, brown butter and 1/3 cup parmesan to the pasta and toss; season with salt and pepper.  Top with pine nuts and remaining parmesan.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sloppy Bombay Joes

I'm a Food Network addict.  Little Adam has yet to be sat down in front of a cartoon or Yo Gabba Gabba, but he's seen his fair share of Barefoot Contessa and Top Chef.  I even got Jimi into the competitive cooking shows, which is pretty amazing for an 11 year old.  So, when The Next Food Network Star show started this season, I was glued.  And happily, my favorite contestant, Aarti Sequeira, a sweet natured Indian woman who reminded me a lot of my friend Loilene, won the show.  Her prize is her own show on The Food Network.  So I set my DVR.

This recipe is from her first show.  I love Indian food.  So, an entire show about taking an Indian twist on familiar foods is awesome.  I don't normally make sloppy joes, but I know they are always an easy hit with the boys.  Jimi isn't fond of Indian food, he claims, so I tested them out on Abe.  He really liked them.  And there's a funny story that comes with that.

I normally don't eat what I cook at home since I'm the only vegetarian.  I'll eat the sides or just the salad- no biggie.  This time, I wanted to try Aarti's recipe.  So I decided to make 1/2 of it with ground beef and 1/2 with veggie crumbles.  Abe's made it clear in the past that veggie crumbles are pretty much yuck, so I never use them.  Dinner was a hit and I packed up the leftovers in separate, but similar tupperware.  The next day I realized that Abe had taken the veggie crumble one, leaving me with the beef.  That evening, I asked him how lunch was and he raved about how great it was and how he shared it with a friend who loved it too.  So much for how gross veggie crumb

If you're familiar with Indian food, you will love this.  If you're not, it's a nice way to get introduced to some new flavors.  Garam masala is one of the lead spice combos and can be found in the international section of the grocery store or any Indian/Middle Eastern market.   It can be made with ground turkey, beef or veggie crumbles.

This recipe is from Aarti Party on The Food Network.


Sloppy Bombay Joes
Serves 4-6

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced (save the other half for the turkey)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (if you using veggie crumble or something very lean, add more) 
  • Small handful shelled pistachios, about 1/4 cup (I couldn't find this, so I omitted) 
  • Small handful raisins, about 1/4 cup 
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds 
  • 1/2 large white onion, finely diced 
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced  
  • 1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact (don't chop it up unless you like things spicy!) 
  • Kosher salt
  •  1 pound ground turkey (or beef or veggie crumble) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey 
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half 
  • Small handful chopped fresh cilantro (soft stems included) 
  • 4 to 6 hamburger buns 
Begin by making the sauce: Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Saute until the ginger and garlic brown a little. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile for the turkey, in large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil. When shimmering, add the pistachios and raisins. Cook until the raisins swell up and the pistachios toast slightly. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of oil, and warm until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 10 seconds, or until some of the sizzling subsides. Stir in the onions and bell pepper; saute until softened and starting to brown. Add the serrano pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes, seasoning with a little salt. Stir in the turkey, breaking up the big lumps. Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, your sauce should be ready. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the turkey. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
Once the turkey is cooked and the sauce has thickened a little, remove the serrano pepper. Add the honey, half-and-half, pistachios and raisins. Stir through and taste for seasoning. Before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro.

Toast the buns, fill with the turkey mixture and serve.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Spinach Ricotta Bites

I think a lot of my friends think that I am this great cook who is always making my family homemade meals.  While that rings true for dinner, most of the time, I tend to fall a bit short when it comes to lunch for Adam.  Lunchtime tends to sneak up on my and before I know it, I have a very hungry little boy who lets the whole world know he's needing food.  So, often times, lunch for him consists of a can of soup or a cut up soy dog and some veggies or fruit .  Once in a while, is fine, but I'd like to have healthier go-to options.

Oh and don't even ask when sad little meals are called my lunch....... 

I've been visiting a great website called Weelicious, a food blog created by a mom who wanted to share her kid-friendly and healthy meals.  The woman is a supermom and most of us shouldn't even try to come close to her greatness.  But we can take away some yummy recipes!

This one seemed appealing because it incorporates healthy foods and my latest food tool obsession- the mini muffin tin.  Adam loves anything he can carry in his own hand and eat on the go, so I had to go try it.  Much as expected, Adam loved it and kept asking for more (or in his case, "moah").  They are like cute, little quiches.

The recipe is super easy.  The only tip I wanted to pass along was a nifty trick I just learned of how to squeeze the water out of the spinach.  I used to use the clean dishcloth method, which always burnt my hands and just seemed sort of unsanitary.  Then I read to put the spinach on a plate, lay another plate right on top (facing the same way) and the press together.  Presto!  Dry spinach and not a burnt hand in the house.

Picture and recipe are from


Spinach Ricotta Bites
Makes 20 bites

2 Tbsp Butter
1 Small Yellow Onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
2 Large Eggs, Beaten
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese (low or full fat ricotta will work)
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
1 10 Oz Pkg Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained WELL
1/4 Tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and cook the onions for 4 minutes until tender.  Add the garlic and cook an additional minute then set aside to cool.

Whisk eggs in a bowl and stir in ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Once combined, stir in spinach, salt and cooled onion and garlic mixture.

Pour the mixture into lightly greased mini muffin cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and golden on top.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Simple Berry Sauce

Adam loves yogurt and can easily eat an adult size one for breakfast or snack.  I happily indulged him until I realized how much added sugar was in one (or high fructose corn syrup).  So I decided to try making a sauce that I could use in plain Greek yogurt.  Not only could I then control the amount of sugar going into my little one, but I could save some money.  Win-win. 

The recipe I found is so simple, I doubted how yummy it would be.  But it was delicious!  I mixed it to Adam's yogurt and he ate it up.  I even ate it on my yogurt and can see it working wonderfully on pancakes, waffles, french toast, ice cream........ 

I got the recipe from  The original recipe was for raspberry, but I had a carton of blueberries that was on its last leg, so I made 2 kinds.  The raspberries cooked faster because they were frozen, so I'd add a few more minutes to any fruit that has a tougher skin.  I used a potato masher with the blueberries too.  Next time, I might throw them in the blender.  Adam didn't mind the chunkiness, though.  If you want the sauce to be more like a syrup, omit the cornstarch.


Simple Berry Sauce

12 oz of fresh or unsweetened berries (raspberries, black berries, blueberries...)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)

1. Combine berries and honey in pot, stirring to combine and using spoon (or potato smasher) to smash down fruit.

2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until fruit is soft.

3. Whisk corn starch and water in a separate bowl.  Add to fruit and stir until fruit thickens. 

4.  Cool and serve.  Store the rest in the fridge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zucchini Muffins

Now that I have a bigger kid (11) and a littler kid (20 months), I realize that some recipes that little Adam loves might work great for him, but not for older kids or us adults.  Adam is such a good eater that he will eat most anything I serve him (how many toddlers do you know who eat radish salad and Brussel sprouts?)  But I know that the older kids have more complex taste buds, so to label something as "kid friendly" might be a bit misleading if Adam's the taster.

So, I came up with a new category: Toddler-Approved.  These recipes will be something that you can serve to older kids and even adults, but will be more geared toward our littlest ones.  Don't hesitate giving it a taste yourself to see if maybe you found a new favorite!

I wanted to find something to quickly serve Adam in the morning and had a zucchini to use up.  So, of course, zucchini muffins came to mind.  But the real recipe is usually filled with sugar and not that healthy.  So I went on a new favorite food blog,, and found a healthy version.  Adam loves them so much, he ate 2 full sized ones this morning alone (as I type this, he came running over for another bite!).

The recipe calls for agave nectar, but can also use honey or maple syrup.  I'm assuming you can also use sugar, but regular sugar might not be sweet enough for the limited amount used.   I used maple syrup.

I was out of eggs when I made it, so I used flax seed and water as a substitute.  They came out nicely, but I'll be using eggs or bananas next time.

Hope you and your little ones enjoy!

Zucchini Muffins
Makes 12 muffins (or 24 mini muffins)

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Eggs, whisked
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/3 Cup Vegetable or Canola Oil
2/3 Cup Agave Nectar (or honey or maple syrup)
1 1/2 Cups Zucchini, shredded (about 2 small zucchini)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Place the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined.
5. Pour the zucchini mixture into large or small muffins cups.
6. Bake 15 minutes for small muffins and 20 minutes for large ones.
7. Cool and serve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seared Mahi Mahi with Zesty Basil Butter

A simple and easy way to serve up mahi mahi.  Not much else to say about the recipe, just that's it's great in its simplicity.  Well, Adam gobbled his up, so if a toddler likes it, it's pretty safe that most kids will.

I got this recipe from

I served it with boiled salted potatoes and sauteed zucchini.


Seared Mahi Mahi with Zesty Basil Butter
Serves 4

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (6 to 8-ounce) mahi mahi fillets

Zesty Basil Butter:

Combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until the butter melts. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook the fish for 3 minutes; then turn and cook until just opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the fillets to individual plates.

Spoon the warm basil butter over the fish and serve.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Buccaneer Pork Kebabs

I had to look up what a Buccaneer was.... I guess it's a pirate who attacked Spanish ships in the Caribbean Sea.  So, feel free to slap on the eye patch, slam back a rum shot and belt out your best "Aaarrrr, matey!!" while dining on this tasty treat. 

For those who aren't familiar with jerk seasoning, it's a Caribbean thing.  Think spicy. This recipes adds a nice sweetness to balance the hot. 

I wondered where I'd get pickling spices, but the mix was right along the regular spices (and pretty cheap).  Not sure what I'll do with the rest of it, but hey, maybe you'll see a pickling recipe coming soon.  The jerk sauce was found next to the bbq sauces. 

I got the recipe from my Food Network "50 Kebabs" recipe booklet.  The photo comes from


Buccaneer Pork Kebabs

How to make kebabs:

1. Cut the ingredients into similar-size pieces and prepare as the recipe directs. If marinating, refrigerate 1 hour for fish and up to overnight for meat and poultry.

2. Preheat a grill to high. Thread the ingredients onto skewers.
3. Grill the kebabs, turning, until the ingredients are charred and cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 15 minutes.

If you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes before grilling.

Buccaneer seasoning:

Boil 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons each salt and brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pickling spices and 4 garlic cloves. Add 1 cup rum, then cool.

Add cubed pork tenderloin and marinate.

Skewer with pineapple. Grill, basting with bottled jerk sauce.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Angry Chicken

Admit it.  When you hear of a dish called Angry Chicken, you can't help but sit up and wonder... what exactly does an angry chicken taste like?

Well, apparently pretty damn good.  Abe declared it one of the best chickens I've ever made and Jimi requested that we have it once a week.  I'll take the compliment.

I had really wanted to make the dish solely on the name.  But one glance at the Indian-inspired ingredients made me quickly realize that it was more than just spicy chicken.  The boys agreed that it was like Buffalo Wild Wings meets India. 

The recipe comes from a chef who has a restaurant in Mumbai, India and apparently it's their most popular dish.  The recipe looks like it could be a bit elaborate, but it really came together nicely.   You will need to plan a bit ahead to allow the meat to marinate.

The ingredient list calls for lots of whole spices ground down with a pestle and mortar.  Yeah, no.  While I do have a few of the ingredients in their whole form, I'm 32 weeks pregnant and not about to hand grind anything right now.  So, if you're like me (well, perhaps not the pregnant part), you can just use the spices already in their ground form.

Garam masala is a delightful Indian spice mix that can be found in any spice shop or Indian market.  It makes all the difference in taste, so I'd really suggest getting some (or look up a recipe for making it at home).  I use it a lot in dishes, so I always have some on hand.

Last minute I omitted the blistered chilies step, which I now regret.  I will for sure do it next time and definitely if I serve this to company.  I think they really are the "angry" in the Angry Chicken.  I also omitted the fried noodles part (laziness), but I can see how this would add a bit of drama to the dish.

I got this recipe from


Angry Chicken
Serves 4

2 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chickens quartered (I got mine ready packaged as whole chickens cut up)
Spicy Yogurt Marinade, recipe follows
2 cups chicken stock
24 assorted long fresh hot green and red chile peppers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bunch Fried Rice Noodles, recipe follows
Lime wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Trim any excess fat from the chicken. Rinse and pat dry. Place the chicken quarters in a large bowl. Measure out 1 cup of the Spicy Yogurt Marinade and reserve for the sauce; refrigerate in a small covered container.
Pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken. Turn the pieces to make sure they are all well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange the pieces on 1 or 2 half-sheet pans or large baking sheets. Discard the chicken marinade.

Roast for 40 minutes, until the chicken is tender and lightly browned and the juices run clear when the thighs are pricked with the tip of a small knife. Transfer the pieces to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
While the chicken is roasting, make the sauce. Boil the chicken stock in a medium saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to 1 cup. Whisk in the reserved 1 cup Spicy Yogurt Marinade and cook just until heated through. Do not boil, or the yogurt will separate. Keep the sauce warm.

As soon as the chickens are done, preheat the broiler. Toss the chiles with the oil to coat lightly and spread them out on a broiler rack or small baking sheet. Broil the chiles about 4 inches from the heat, turning them a couple of times, until they are blistered and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

To serve, layer the chicken and chiles on a large platter. Pour the sauce around the chicken. Top with the Fried Rice Noodles. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the chicken.

Spicy Yogurt Marinade:

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups hot sauce (recommended: Frank's)
1 1/3 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/3 cup soy sauce

To make the marinade, grind the peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, and cardamom in a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle (or use ground). Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the chili powder, garam masala, and salt. Add the hot sauce, yogurt, cream, and soy sauce and whisk until smooth and well blended.

Yield: about 3 1/2 cups

Fried Rice Noodles:

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 bundle thin rice noodles (mai fun)
Add vegetable oil to reach about 2 inches up the sides of a large saucepan or a wok. Heat the oil over high heat to 340 degrees F. Separate 1 bundle of thin rice noodles into 2 portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, add the noodles to the oil. They will puff up almost immediately. Using a large wire skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roast Pork Loin with Apples

Pork loin was on sale for $1.97 a pound, so I had to snatch one up.  I figured apples and pork paired well together, so this healthy recipe would be a winner.  It's low in fat and calories, so you can have an extra slice.

I don't have an oven-safe skillet (mine have silicon handles), so I used my Dutch oven instead.  If you don't have either of these, you can cover your handles with aluminum foil to keep them safe.

I got this recipe from

I served it with rice and a green salad (first lettuce of the summer from our garden!)


Roast Pork Loin with Apples
Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (2-pound) boneless center cut pork loin, trimmed and tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
2 carrots, thickly sliced
2 stalks celery, thickly, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 apples, such as Cortland or Rome peeled, cored and cut into 8 slices
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large ovenproof skillet heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Season the pork loin all over generously with salt and pepper. Sear the meat until golden brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate and set it aside.

3. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, herb sprigs, and 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet. Stir until the vegetables are browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the sliced apples, then push the mixture to the sides and set the pork loin in the middle of the skillet along with any collected juices on the plate. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the loin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 140 to 150 degrees F, about 30 to 35 minutes. (See Cook's Note.)

4. Transfer the pork a cutting board and cover it loosely with foil while you make the sauce. Arrange the apples and vegetables on a serving platter and set aside. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Return the skillet to a high heat and add the vinegar scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen up any browned bits. Reduce by half then add the cider and reduce by about half again. Pull the skillet from the heat and whisk in the mustard, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Remove the strings from the roast and slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces and arrange over the apple mixture. Drizzle some sauce over meat and serve the rest on the side.

 Cook's Note: Pork cooked this way will be slightly pink. If desired, cook the pork to 160 degrees F, but be aware that this lean cut will not be as moist at the higher temperature.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grilled Portobello-Goat Cheese Pitas

Something a little different for dinner.  I've been trying to add more vegetarian meals to our rotations; you'd think after being veggie for over 13 years, I'd have a ton.  But I don't.  So I'm trying to mix it up a little.  This turned out surprisingly good and makes for a great light dinner on a warm summer night.  It's a great meal to serve your vegetarian friends at your next barbecue (hint for those inviting me over for dinner this summer ;-).

You can use a well-oiled grill pan or throw everything, except for the tomatoes, on the grill. If you like a chewier pita, opt for the Greek style or don't over-grill the regular kind.  If you like your pitas crispy, grill away!

I got this recipe from (including photo) and made some adjustments.


Grilled Portobello-Goat Cheese Pitas 
Serves 4 (they are more filling than you'd think)

1 1/2  teaspoons minced garlic
1  teaspoon  olive oil
4  (6-inch) pita rounds
1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper, divided
Balsamic vinegar
1  (6-ounce) package portobello mushrooms
2  medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/3  cup  (3 ounces) goat cheese
1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil
2 roasted red peppers, jarred

Preheat a grill pan over medium heat.

Combine garlic and oil; brush evenly over pitas. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper evenly over pitas. Place pitas in pan, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until toasted.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar over mushrooms and tomatoes and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper evenly. Place mushrooms in pan (grill); cook 6 minutes or until tender, turning once. Remove mushrooms from pan. Add tomatoes to pan; cook 1 minute.

Spread goat cheese evenly over pitas. Arrange the mushrooms and tomatoes evenly over pitas. Sprinkle with chopped basil and top with roasted red peppers.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicken Biryani

I love Indian food.  I love the spices, I love the all-you-can-eat buffets and I love that many of their dishes are vegetarian.  Give me an Indian lunch buffet and I will eat until I'm sick.

I decided to try this recipe based on it getting such high reviews.  And now I see why.  Abe LOVED it and declared it as good as something from a restaurant.  It was super easy to  make, so it will be added to the regular menu.

I know the recipe calls for boneless thighs, but I couldn't find those, so I substituted boneless breasts instead.  If you wanted to make this vegetarian, I'm sure cubed potatoes, chick peas or even fried extra-firm tofu would be lovely in this sauce.

Don't substitute ground cinnamon for the cinnamon stick- you'll regret it.  Buy some and then save the rest for holiday toddies.

I'm thinking you could omit the saffron, if you don't want to buy it.  It does add a nice flavor to the rice, however.

I got this from


Chicken Biryani
Serves 6 (well, who are we kidding.... serves 3-4)

3  cups  water
2  teaspoons  salt, divided
1/4  teaspoon  saffron threads, crushed
1 1/2  cups  uncooked basmati rice
1  (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
1  cup  chopped onion
2  teaspoons  curry powder
1  teaspoon  minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2  teaspoon  ground cardamom
1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
2  garlic cloves, minced
2  serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1  cup  plain whole-milk yogurt
1/2  cup  golden raisins
1/2  cup  chopped dry-roasted cashews
1/4  cup  fresh cilantro

1. Bring water, 1 teaspoon salt, and saffron to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add rice and cinnamon stick to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Discard cinnamon stick.

2. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan; cover and keep warm.

3. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

4. Add curry and the next 5 ingredients (curry through serrano chiles); cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add yogurt, stirring with a whisk; cook 3 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Add chicken and raisins; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add rice; stir well to combine. Sprinkle evenly with cashews and cilantro.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Poblano, Mango and Black Bean Quesadillas

I was looking for a way to use up the leftover poblano peppers from the kebob recipe.  This one called my name because it has a lot of the things I like- black beans, avocado and mangoes.  Plus, you can't really mess up a quesadilla.

I got this from (along with the photo) and made a few tweaks.  If you don't like a spicier dish, skip the hot sauce and replace it with a tiny bit of cumin.


Poblano, Mango and Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people)

1  teaspoon  olive oil
1 1/2  cups sliced onion
1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
1-2  poblano chile, seeded and chopped
1  (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1  cup  jarred sliced peeled mango (if using one in heavy syrup, rinse)
1/3  cup  cubed peeled avocado
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1-2 shakes of hot sauce
4  (8-inch) flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, oregano, salt, pepper, and poblano, and sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add beans; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in mango, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce.  Squirt lime juice over mixture.

3. Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Arrange about 3/4 cup bean mixture on half of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheddar cheese over bean mixture, and fold tortilla in half. Lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until cheddar cheese melts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marinara Sauce

I wanted to use up what we have in the freezer and needed a way to serve up frozen ravioli.  This recipe was basic, but very yummy (and easy!).

I got the base from, but tweaked it a bit.

If you like a chunky sauce, use chopped tomatoes and don't over use the processor.  If you like it smoother, I'd use crushed tomatoes and run the whole thing through the processor at the end after you cook the onions into it.

If you don't like a slight kick, omit the red pepper flakes.

Don't have a bottle of white wine around?  We aren't wine drinkers, so I keep cooking wine in the pantry.  Keeps forever and works perfectly.  


Basic Marinara Sauce
Serves 8

2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley)
3 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Large pinch of sugar

Pinch of red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup white wine

1. In a food processor place Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat saute the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.
3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicken Fajita Kebabs

We got a new grill this summer and I was determined to try grilling.  The grill has always scared me a bit... I'm afraid I will blow up.  Then again, I'm also scared to put air in my tires for the same reason.  Maybe I need to relax a bit.....

I got a little booklet titled "50 Kebabs" from my Food Network magazine and decided this was the perfect way to get over my fear.   How bad could a kebab go?

It was a hit!  Easy and quick.  Nothing better for summer.  I'm excited to try the 49 other recipes this summer.

I served it with rice and steamed broccoli.


Chicken Fajita Kebabs

Puree 1/2 cup olive oil, a handful of cilantro, 2 seeded jalapenos, 2 garlic cloves and salt; add cubed chicken breast and marinate.  Skewer with onion and poblano pepper pieces.  Grill, basting with lime juice.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Salad

I needed to get rid of some corn on the cob from this weekend's barbecue.  This recipe was great and is definitely going to be added to the rotation.   It will be the perfect side for any summer dish.  Plus, it's healthy!  Ok, maybe don't tell the kids that part......

I didn't have bell pepper or cilantro, so I can only imagine this recipe is mouthwatering with them.

I got this recipe from


Black Bean and Corn Salad
Serves 4-6


1 small clove garlic
Pinch salt, plus 2 teaspoons
Juice 1 1/2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small hass avocado, halved, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

Make the dressing: Smash the garlic clove, sprinkle with a pinch of the salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Whisk the garlic paste, lime juice, salt and chili powder together in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream.

For the salad: Cook the corn, bell pepper, and onions in the olive oil until beginning to brown over medium-high heat in a skillet. Toss in the black beans and cook until warm. Add the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. Serve.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Roasted Chicken Thighs Provençal

My friend Michelle recently commented on how often I cook chicken thighs and how they aren't as healthy for Abe.  I had never noticed, but yes, there are a lot of recipes on this site for thighs.  And now there will be one more.  I couldn't help it.... I saw chicken thighs on sale for $.75 a pound and couldn't pass them up! 

I didn't follow the recipe to the letter because when I went to the fridge to pull out the olives, I realized that my pregnant butt had eaten them all.  So, I made it without, but I'm assuming they'd add a very nice flavor and will use them the next time.  But just know the dish is delicious without them.

I added some quartered onions and thickly sliced garlic cloves and think that any vegetable good for roasting would go perfectly in the recipe.  Throw in whatever root veggie that looks like it's on its last leg.  I put the veggies on one baking sheet and the chicken on another and just roasted them at the same time.  I guess you could put them together, but the chicken made a lot of grease, so I wouldn't suggest it.

I kept the skin on the thighs to keep them moist, but you can remove them to cut down on the fat (or just not eat them).

I got this recipe from  I served it with a green salad.


Roasted Chicken Thighs Provençal 
Serves 6

3  pounds  small red potatoes, quartered
4  plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 6 wedges
3  carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Cooking spray
1  tablespoon  olive oil
1 1/2  tablespoons  chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme, divided
1  teaspoon  salt, divided
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
6  (6-ounce) skinless chicken thighs
24  niçoise olives
Preheat oven to 425°.

Place potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle vegetable mixture with olive oil; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss gently, and spread into a single layer on pan. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Remove vegetable mixture from pan, and keep warm.

Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and olives to pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on chicken. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until chicken is done.