Monday, August 31, 2015

Flour, Too's Parmesan Polenta

I didn't grow up in a house where we ate any kind of southern food, so I didn't try grits until I stayed at a friend's house over night, and her mom made us grits for breakfast.  I loved them, promptly went home and told my mother that, and she just grimaced and said she wasn't going to make grits any time soon :).  I still don't have grits, or polenta, very often, but when I do I always enjoy them, and this is a delicious recipe from Flour, Too.  We had some short ribs along with the polenta, also from Flour, Too, but I am only going to feature the polenta.  It's an easy recipe, and we gave them a 9, and each serving was 155 calories for 9 servings.  Here's the easy recipe the way I did it:

3 c beef stock
2 c whole milk
3/4 t salt
1 c coarsely ground polenta
1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring the stock, milk and salt to a boil.  Whisk in the polenta in a slow, steady stream.  Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, about 15 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.  Season to taste and serve.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Picky Palate's Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cake Bars

Here is where we found this easy, delicious recipe from Picky Palate, and even Owen, who doesn't like pumpkin, gave this a 9, just like Noah, Jonah and I did.
Each bar, and we cut the pan into 16 servings, was 238 calories, and I used pumpkin spice chips rather than the cinnamon chips the recipe calls for, and we really enjoyed them.  It's a great, easy fall dessert, one I would enjoy making again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nacho Cheese Mac N Cheese

So this was one of Noah's ideas, he loves to think of fun foods.  We weren't sure how this would come out, but the end result was yummy and interesting.  It looks like mac n cheese, but it has a nice kick to it.  The sauce wasn't perfect, but it was pretty good, and we really liked it with chips, so that was a nice plus, because I love me some nacho cheese :).  We all gave this an 8, and each serving was 415 calories when divided into 8 servings, and that will leave some nacho cheese left over.

2 c elbow macaroni, cooked until al dente
1 T canola oil
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 t cumin
about 2 T Rotel
3 1/2 c milk
3 T cornstarch
6 c grated cheese, I used a mixture of pepper jack, cheddar, and Monterey Jack

Mix the cornstarch with the grated cheese.  Heat the oil, then add the jalapeno, tomato, cumin and onion.  Season the veggies and cook until they are tender, stirring often so they don't burn.  Add in the milk and Rotel, stir it well and make sure the milk is warm.  Remove the pan from the heat, add in the cheese, and stir well until the sauce comes together.  Use about 3 cups (more or less) of the sauce and mix it with the macaroni, then serve.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Flour, Too's Oven Baked Potato and Red Pepper Tortilla

I loved this, even though it is eggs.  The flavors and smells were so enticing, I couldn't wait to dig into this.  We found this recipe for a Spanish tortilla in Flour, Too, and as always, the recipe turned out really well.  Each serving, for a total of eight servings, was 274 calories.  Noah gave this an 8, Owen and I gave this a 9, and Aaron gave it a 7 (no meat :)).  I like that this is Spanish, a tapas, and the fried potatoes really make this a delicious breakfast meal.  Here's what to do:

3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
6 eggs
3/4 c whole milk
1 c grated Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
4 scallions, minced
3 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
5 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t paprika

Boil the potatoes until fork tender, drain, and remove the peels after they have cooled a little.  Slice them into slices 1/2 inch thick.
Preheat the oven to 450.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, Parmesan, green onions, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
Heat 1 T of the oil in a large oven-proof skillet, then add the onion, pepper, and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften.  Season with salt and pepper, then transfer the veggies to a bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, heat 3 T of the oil over high heat.  Add the sliced potatoes and reduce the heat to medium.  Sprinkle with the paprika and more salt, then let cook for about 3 minutes.  Flip the potatoes over, drizzle with the remaining 1 T olive oil, and sprinkle with salt if desired.  Cook for an additional 3 minutes or so, making sure to get some crispy potatoes in there, even if not all of them are browned or crispy.  Remove the skillet from the heat.
Spread the veggie mixture over the potatoes, then pour the egg mixture over everything.  Bake for 16-20 minutes, until the middle is just set and the egg puffs and browns.  Let cool a few minutes, then serve.

This was great for breakfast the next day as well, so it holds up well in the fridge.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Yammie's Noshery's Cheddar Bacon Stuffed Pretzel Buns

We found this cool idea at this website, and although I had to adjust the ingredients a little to make the recipe work for us, these were still a delicious, fun treat.  I always love how creative Yammie is, and I love her photography.  Anyway, this pretzel bun recipe was good, but I added way more flour to make the dough come together, like 6 cups at least rather than 4 1/2 c of flour, but other than that, this worked out well.  I would also place these on parchment paper rather than on greased sheets, but those are just my thoughts.

Follow the top link to this fun recipe, each bun is about 450 calories with the extra flour.  We gave these an 8.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vicki's Nico's Super Fries

During the many years we lived in Tucson, one of the things we most enjoyed was the amazing Pima library system (really just I did :)), the cost of living, but mostly the variety of things to do and places to eat.  I am definitely a city girl at heart, and although Tucson isn't my favorite city ever, I loved living there.  Aaron not so much...:)  Anyway, they had a chain of shops there called Nico's Taco Shop, and we loved it.  They had these super fries that Aaron and I would split, and it was delicious.  We started going there while we were without kids, and continued going after both of our first two.  The boys loved their beans and rice.  Anyway, we don't have a Nico's here, so I decided to recreate the recipe.
One of the important things is the amount of cheese used.  I always love cheese, but for these, there doesn't need to be too much cheese.  Aaron and I both felt like this was a really good take on one of our favorite take-out foods, we gave it a perfect 10, and so did Owen, and Noah gave it a 9.  Each serving, for 5 servings, was 583, but that includes LOTS of steak.  Here's the easy recipe

Pico de Gallo:

3 Roma tomatoes (or a little less), chopped
1/2 large jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
2 T chopped cilantro


1/4 recipe Pico de Gallo
2 Haas avocados


1/4 c tequila (or a balsamic vinegar and some soy sauce might be good too if you don't use alcohol)
1 lime, juiced
dash of coriander
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1/2 large jalapeno, diced
1/4 c olive oil
1.5 lbs flank steak, trimmed of fat and seasoned

Fries-homemade or storebought
sour cream
1/2 c Mexican cheese

Mix together the ingredients for the pico and stir well, being sure to be generous with the salt.  Set in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Mix together the tequila, lime, coriander, garlic jalapeno and salt.  Drizzle in the olive oil, then pour over the flank steak.  Let marinate in the fridge for a few hours.
When ready to prepare, cook the fries either in the oven, or if frying your own, in oil.  Mix together the guacamole, then portion the fries onto five plates.  Top each fry portion with cheese, then top with steak.  Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Flour, Too's Sausage and Lentil Soup

One of our most favorite soups ever, this stew from Flour, Too was amazing.  Aaron and I gave this a perfect 10, and the boys gave it a 9.  I made a couple of changes to make this more our style, and it was so flavorful and delicious.  Each serving, for 12 servings, was 189 calories the way I made it, and here's the recipe:

12 oz sweet Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 T tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 T paprika
1/2 t thyme
1 t turmeric
1 t oregano
3/4 t cumin
1/2 t fennel seeds
1/2 t curry powder
2 small potatoes, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and chopped
1 small turnip, peeled and chopped
2 quarts chicken broth
1 c tomato sauce
3/4 c green lentils, rinsed
2 c arugula

Cook the sausage over medium heat until well browned, then with a slotted spoon remove the sausage to a plate.  In the left over grease, cook the onion, garlic, carrot, salt and celery until the onions are translucent, scraping the bottom of the pan.  Add in the tomato paste and salt, then add in the bay leaves and stir for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, add in the spices, and toast the spices for 3-4 minutes.
Add the sausage back in, then stir well, add in the potatoes, parsnip, leeks, and turnip.  Add the broth and the tomato sauce, and stir in more salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add in the lentils and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Discard the bay leaves, then add in the arugula.  Serve.

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Gourmet Mediterranean Burger

My sister Sonia is sharing her recipe with us today, I'm so glad she is helping out on my blog :).

This isn't our picture, but I forgot to take one before we ate ours all up, so I borrowed one online from  This is what ours looked like before we cooked them (except theirs is more nicely formed).  

Anyway for the first time since we moved to Oregon my basil plant is thriving.  I had so much basil I didn't know what to do with it and I wanted to make something with it.  I was also in the mood for hamburgers.  So I asked my family what they thought of me incorporating basil in our hamburgers.  They all said it might be good so I went about making me some burgers.

I decided I wanted to go a different route than the traditional recipe that I usually make because of the basil so I opted for more Mediterranean ingredients.  Here's what I did: 
(All measurements are approximations because I didn't measure.  Sorry.)

1 lb hamburger
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp dried minced onions
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp feta cheese crumbles
2 Tbsp oatmeal
salt and pepper to taste

Joe grilled them and then we topped them with mashed avocado, sliced tomatoes, mayo and/or ketchup, and some of us added pickles as well.  We tried brioche buns from the store as our bun.

I thought they were very yummy.  I really enjoyed the flavor.  My husband and younger daughter seemed to think they were good, but my older one thought that even though the flavor was good they should have been made into a different meal than hamburgers.  The combination of the American Burger and the flavors didn't wow her.

The only thing I would change is that I would add a little more salt and an egg.  The burgers didn't stay together as well as they should have and I like a little more saltiness in my burger.  I also think it might be fun to add some sun-dried tomatoes to the mix.

I will definitely be doing these again, but maybe after the kids leave home. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Simply Recipe's Shrimp, Bacon and Avocado Pasta Salad

This is a great summer salad, I loved having something easy and fresh to make for our family that was a great light dinner on a hot night.  I found this easy recipe here, but I will post the ingredients I used, which are a little different from the recipe.  Follow the link for instructions.  Each serving was 351 for six servings, Aaron and Noah gave it an 8, Jonah really liked it, I gave it a 9, and Owen gave it a 6 because he didn't like the peppery flavor.  Here are the ingredients I used:

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 oz tri-color rotini
1/2 t chipotle chili powder
1/4 t ground coriander (to also sprinkle on the shrimp)
3 slices thick cut pepper bacon
1/2 onion, diced
1/3 c diced red bell pepper
1/3 c diced green bell pepper
1 green onion, diced
1 avocado, chopped

1 1/2 t whole grain garlic mustard
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T white wine vinegar
2 T olive oil

Monday, August 10, 2015

Flour, Too's Cinnamon Cream Brioche

So although this isn't a beautiful picture, this is a beautiful pastry :).  Flour, Too, a great cookbook, came through for us again.  I have previously mentioned my love of pastry cream, and since this pastry uses that, I knew I would love this, and I did.  Owen and I gave this a perfect 10, and Noah and Aaron gave it a 9.  While high in calories, not surprisingly, this is so delicious and worth it.  Each pastry was 596 calories, and the recipe makes 8 pastries.  Here's what to do:

1/2 batch Joanne Chang's brioche dough
1 3/4 c pastry cream, or any recipe
3/4 c (or a little less) sour cream
1 1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon

Preheat the oven(s) to 350 and line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together.
Shape the brioche into 8 rounds, similar to mini pizzas, making sure the center is quite thin.
Spread the pastry cream into the center, then top with about 1 T sour cream, or a little more.  Top with the cinnamon sugar mixture, making sure to sprinkle the entire pastry with the mixture.  Bake the pastries for 25-30 minutes.  Let them cool and serve them warm.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chicken Cutlet Sandwiches

This was a really easy, delicious recipe, and I am happy at how much my family liked this.  I used toasted brioche, which made for a super delicious sandwich, but any good quality sandwich bread would work, just maybe not quite as well.  I used my basil cream chicken recipe, without making the sauce, and spread the bread with pesto, and topped the sandwich with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, arugula, and cucumbers.  This was a hit for us, and although each sandwich was around 600 calories, it was delicious, something we'll have again.  We all gave this a 9.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Owen's Fried Vanilla Bananas

So while this wasn't a huge hit at our house, it was still a fun idea.  We tried to make fries out of this, and it didn't really work, but we used my mother-in-law's egg batter recipe for frying, and we gave this an 8, because it really is tasty.
Owen loves bananas and vanilla, so this was his choice.  This egg batter is what my mother-in-law uses to make chile rellenos, and it is easy and delicious, so I just tweaked the recipe a little to make it a sweet egg batter, and we fried ourselves up some bananas :).  Each fried banana was around 250 calories, and here's what to do:

1 banana, halved and cut into thirds, so six banana pieces
2 eggs, separated
1 T vanilla
2 T flour
2 t sugar, divided
dash of salt

oil for frying

Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat.  
Beat the egg whites and 1 t sugar until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks, 1 t sugar, and vanilla until well blended, then whisk in the flour and salt.  This should be quite thick, if it isn't add in some more flour.  Fold in the egg whites.
Spoon some egg batter into the hot oil, place a banana slice on the batter, then top with some more batter.  Fry for about 2 minutes, flip it, then let it fry for about a minute longer.  Keep an eye on this, it goes quickly.  Serve with whipped cream.

To make the egg batter savory, just eliminate the sugar, add a little more salt, and exchange the vanilla for water.  Top with a chili stuffed with cheese rather than the banana, and you have yourself a delicious chili relleno :).  Thanks Chris!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Noah's Fried Chicken Burritos

Isn't my Noah so cute?  This was his idea for a meal to have, and it was a hit around here, as most burrito recipes are, and when we fry things, people like them even better :).  I did the same thing as these chicken nuggets, just altering the spices and cutting the chicken up smaller.  We all gave this a 9, and the calories per burrito were about 450.  Here's the easy recipe:

oil for frying
12 oz chicken tenders, cut into small bite size pieces and seasoned

1/4 c flour
1 t chili powder
1 t garlic salt
1 t onion powder
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t coriander
pinch of baking soda
salt and pepper to taste

1 egg
1/2 c buttermilk

1/2 c bread crumbs
seasonings to taste (spices, salt and pepper)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  In one bowl mix together the flour and seasonings, the next bowl mix together the egg and buttermilk, and in the third bowl mix together the bread crumbs and additional seasonings.  Dredge the chicken in the first bowl, then the second, then finally the third.  Drop the nuggets into the hot oil, and fry until golden brown.  These cook very quickly, so just get them brown and serve them.  We like our burritos with refried beans, cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, cheese, and of course salsa :).