Thank you so much for allowing me to doctor my kids' Shells & White Cheddar with pureed cauliflower, SmartBalance spread, Mexican cheese blend, extra skim milk, and TJ's organic ABC/123 pasta.
I really appreciate you alleviating the guilt of not making my kids a completely homemade meal.
Anyhoo...if you haven't heard what a Vita-Mix is, it's a high-performance blender. This bad boy can do everything....literally...grind homemade flours/spices, soups, ice creams, bread, etc. For us, we've used it every single day...at LEAST once a day...usually 2 or more times a day for us. We've been making smoothies galore. We're talking fresh-fruit smoothies here...complete with carrots, spinach, cabbage, inulin, grape seed extract, flax, oatmeal, etc. I always wanted one but shuddered at the price (they are really expensive). But, I don't think we'd ever live without it. So much so with the upcoming move, we're not packing it but bringing it with us instead. Yeah, we're that hooked. "5 a Day"...HA! We're well above that guideline!
My current favorite breakfast is my chocolate peanut butter banana oat smoothie. I used the following ingredients:
- Vanilla Soy Milk & skim milk (more of the former than the latter since girlfriend is lactose-intolerant)
- Skippy's Natural PB & Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams PB (although I don't favor chocolate, I do like dark chocolate)
- Ground flax seed
- Old-fashioned oatmeal
- TJ's grape seed extract & inulin
- Wheat germ
- Oat bran
Veggies in a fruit smoothie...only in the Vita-Mix.
I actually made this when it was still warm over here but getting cooler. Right now would've been PERFECTO to make this bad boy. I also added loads of beans. I'm not one of those chili people who don't like beans in their chili. C'mon...fiber is soooooooo good for you!! Also, I had bottles of Guiness sitting in the pantry (the Hubs and I aren't drinkers) and needed to use it (I had it for another meal we love from our BFFs the Martinos...Beer Beef & Potatoes...mmmmmmm). I threw it in the chili and oooooooooh...that's what it's been missing!! Anyway...I lack measurements when I cook but here's what I put in it:
Tan's Chili Con Carne
Large onion, chopped
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
Beans – kidney, black, pinto, etc.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Large can(s) diced tomatoes
12oz. bottle Guiness Beer
Small can of tomato sauce
Canned beans…however many you want (I typically add 4-6)
Brown the beef in a few teaspoons of olive oil. Season w/salt & pepper. When thoroughly cooked, add onions. Allow to cook for several minutes, add garlic. Add spices & beans. Cook for a minute. Add entire contents of canned tomatoes, beer, & tomato sauce. Add water to canned tomatoes & tomato sauce…swish and add to pot. Simmer on high until thickened and liquid has reduced enough. 10 minutes prior to serving, add corn.
Serve w/plain yogurt, chopped green onions, & lowfat cheese.
Kathleen's Garlic Pasta
Kathleen is a good friend of my sister, co-worker, and a FOODIE too!! Kim has told me plenty of times how the whole fam are great cooks! So, of course when Kathleen & Kim plugged me into their food emails (during work no less...tsk, tsk, tsk...hahahaha), I had to try one of Kathleen's recipes! Thank goodness I did. This was simple, easy, and YUMMY! THANK YOU, Kathleen!!!
Kathleen's Garlic Pasta
6-8 (good size) cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2-3 Tbls. olive oil
1/4 cup cream (more if you want it creamier)
lots of parmesan cheese (1/4 cup shredded - ish)
sprinkle of pepper (white pepper if you have it)
a bit of chopped fresh parsley
Sauté the garlic in olive oil . Add the cream and simmer a few minutes until bubbly & well combined. Toss everything with the pasta.
Ina's (aka Barefoot Contessa) Pizza & what to do w/the leftover dough
So, I suck...really, really, really ridiculously suck at making bread. Quick breads...no sweat. But put yeast in the ingredients & kneading...you have NO GO with me. The center of the bread is usually wonderful...however, that is after you have miraculously broken through the concrete crust with a combination sledge & jack hammer. Yes, I am THAT bad. So, several years ago I tried Ina Garten's (aka the Barefoot Contessa) recipe for Grilled California Pizzas. I was confident that my girl wouldn't let me down...and she didn't! I had successfully made a yeast bread w/o fail! WOOHOO!!! However, I managed to eek out 5 single pizzas out of this dough not knowing that one single pizza was enough to feed two! OOPS! So, this was the third time I made it and after being inspired by Em's yummy post on garlic knots this past summer...I knew what to do with half of the dough recipe! The photo above of my garlic knots was a bit off...and missing a knot since it was in mah belleh! ;o) But, I think I would've changed the salt content of the dough...too salty for the knots. I think I would've preferred a sweeter dough.
Anyhoo...the last thing:
Eggplant Caprese from Shape Magazine
My sister, cousin, and I were scarred from a eggplant experience in our youth. I have since outgrown that experience...but I don't think they have yet. ;o) Let's just say after a month of the same same eggplant dish...we were good for a lifetime.
Anyhoo...Shape Magazine had this Eggplant Caprese recipe in one of their issues way back. It's become a favorite of ours and it's low-cal. Totally satisfying and YUMMY! Sean's my carnivore and this is a satisfying meal for him. It probably helps that I make a 5 lb. salad for the two of us. ;o) The photo above doesn't do the meal justice since A) I almost burnt the eggplant since we were packing up for our drive to DC and B) I almost burnt the eggplant while packing up for our drive to DC. ;o) TRY IT! It's so good!! You can find the recipe here.
Oh me oh my!!! So, I'm a sucker for good blogs with awesome photos. The Pioneer Woman Cooks is a blog that has me crackin' up and lovin' some good photos! Anyhoo, I had seen her recipe for her most favorite-est salad ever. I wanted to try it, but wasn't going to give it a go without the hubby here to help eat it.
We used our usual Barilla Plus pasta to make the salad...giving us our serving of protein, Omega-3s, & more fiber. But, if you want more protein, some grilled chicken or steak (or pork or seafood) would be PERFECT with it too!
Please try this recipe! It was soooooo fabulous! And you won't feel guilty horking down a ginormous bowl/plate of it! Unless you eat several pieces of garlic bread with it...MAYBE like we MIGHT have done last night. ;o) We don't play with garlic bread in this house...fresh minced garlic, butter, & olive oil...mmmmmmmmmmmm. The kids could eat an entire loaf if we let them. Anyway...TRY THIS DISH!!!
Yes, the hubby finally came home...early & on his birthday no less!!! We rounded up a pretty darn fine meal...if I must say so myself! ;o) The meal made up for, I hope, the lack of cleaning I intended to do for his birthday gift. Hahahaha. One day we will have a clean house. Usually it's when we get stationed somewhere else. HAHAHAHAHA.
Anyhoo...here's the menu we had planned for LT Muscles:
Gung-gung's Cabbage Salad
Garlicky Steamed Cauliflower
Special Dark Chocolate Cake w/Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
Now, who the heck is Gung-gung? Well, he is my 98-year old maternal grandfather who, up until his debilitating stroke about 12 years ago, was an amazing cook! He studied the chefs in Hong Kong and cooking really was his passion. Not only could he cook, but the man could bake too!! Goodness!! Anyway, as this blog continues, I'll probably continue to post recipes from my grandfather that were passed on to my mom who is now teaching us. This way, my kids (and cousins/family) can have something of my grandfathers to always hold on to. Anyway, he is an amazing, amazing man who, long story short, was an orphan when he was still a single-digit age, immigrated to Mexico, then to Honduras, married my amazing grandmother (Lord, Lord, Lord is this woman amazing), raised nine children, owned & ran a store in Honduras, immigrated w/the whole fam to Miami, and just is plain awesome. Now...take an orphan in China (at 6, I believe and raised by his older sisters until his teens) who moves to Mexico & Honduras...has to learn another language, starts business & family, takes care of a slew of extended family back in China, moves to the US, learns another language, and takes care of everyone still. My grandmother...well, she's definitely another paragraph and I will save that for her 5-Spice Garlic Pork...mmmmmmmmmm. My paternal grandparents are equally as amazing too!! But, since this is a food blog, I digress.
Now, the cake. When I first started becoming addicted to, errrr, reading The Repressed Pastry Chef's blog, I was reading about her mint chocolate cupcakes. I mean, really, after being greeted with that photo, how could you not be sucked in??? Plus, I *heart* mint chocolate. So, I used my usual chocolate cake recipe (I love you, Ina Garten!) and my usual buttercream recipe (you're my hero, Em!). Add less vanilla & WAY more peppermint to the buttercream...along with blue & green food coloring, and I was GOOD to go. Sean normally doesn't eat frosting but devoured the whole slice of cake with a huge icy glass of milk. This was RIGHT AFTER two plates of the above meal (of course his had way more meat & rice). Yup. It was that good. My kids helped decorate it. You'll be quick to notice my 3YO son's decorating skills in the center of the cake. ;o)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEAR!!!
The kids' portion.
Now, our family loves ourselves some pesto. Jaron just loves pasta...period...and rice. That boy is all about his carbs. Anyhoo, we love basil too...love it, love it, love it. Almost as much as garlic. But, garlic reigns supreme in this household and I doubt any other ingredient could usurp it.
- 3/4 lb penne rigate pasta
- 1/2 lb (about 4) Roma tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
- 8 large, fresh basil leaves
- 2 Tbsp unsalted roasted almonds
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano)
This was our serving (w/a bottle of crushed red pepper...hahaha)...with garlicky brussel sprouts & salad w/garlic-balsamic vinegarette.
Here's the recipe:
The Awesome-est Blueberry Muffins
3 cups minus 2 tablespoons flour (I actually substituted in a cup of almond meal...hence the browner color of my muffins)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Heavy pinch of salt
Dash of Nutmeg (I did not do a dash, I did a bit more to balance out the cinnamon I added) Cinnamon (a very healthy dose of it...we're talking a least 1.5 teaspoons)
1 cup sugar (I did substitute a bit of Splenda in it)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 generous cup plain, unflavored yogurt (throw in extra if you want)
2 cups fresh blueberries
Vanilla Extract (as usual, I added waaaay more)
Softened Butter, for muffin tins (I used muffin liners)
Turbinado sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In another large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, cap-ful of vanilla (I used about 1-1.5 teaspoons since a "cap-ful of vanilla" is NOT in my vocabulary...I can't even process that phrase), egg, and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients and stir to a count of 10. Add blueberries, reserving 1/2 cup, to mixture and stir 3 times.
Add mixture to well-buttered muffin pans. Sprinkle remaining berries on top and press down lightly. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over top. (Brown sugar can be used instead.) Bake 20 to 25 minutes and allow to cool completely.
I would DEFINITELY not leave out the turbinado!! It balanced out nicely with the texture and the sweetness balanced the tart blueberries. I would've substituted the oil with applesauce but I used my Omega-3 blend veg oil and figured that healthy fat needed to be in it. So, have fun and enjoy!!!
Heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken in batches, and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Add the onions and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring well. Stir in the chicken stock, lentils, and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 1 hour.
Add the rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and return the soup to a simmer. Cook covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, add the cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice and cook, uncovered for 5 minutes.
Ladle into warmed soup bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.
Aura, the eldest great-grandchild by 5 days!
Kaia, the middle great-grandchild
Jaron, the baby & only great-grandson...for now
We also made one of Kaia's all-time favorite meals...pan-fried dumplings.
This is the pork & shrimp (and roughly half or more veggie) version. One day, I'll have to post the recipe. I make a chicken version too. Sean & Kaia like to have dumpling eating contest. Even though Sean obviously outweighs Kai-Bear, I think ounce for ounce, Kaia is the CLEAR winner. Kaia can eat 9-10 of these bad boys...which is sometimes more than me!
So, we've gone from Oatmeal Brulee to French Fries to Cookies n' Cream Cake. Yup. Cookies n' Cream. Now, mind you, I apparently didn't have enough powdered sugar on hand to make a full batch of that fabulous buttercream I blogged about earlier. But I did, however, have enough to make a half batch...only realizing this a little bit later when the neurons started firing between the synapses. My synapses were probably in carb heaven and still snoozing. Anyhoo, I made enouch but when my cake was done, I realized it was enough for a batch of cupcakes but NOT enough for a two-layer cake. Thus, the shots of I have are good enough to not embarrass me too much. ;o) For the cake, I used Ina's recipe again. I think having all of Ina Garten's cookbooks allow me to call her Ina or I-nizza or I.G. or...ok, I really need other adults around. Anyhoo...so, Ina's recipe (using Hershey's Special Dark cocoa), vanilla buttercream, and crushed Newman's Own organic chocolate sandwich cookies. I think I actually would've use Oreos for this bad boy next time. I may think about finely crushing the cookies and mixing them into the buttercream for the middle layer instead of just placing it on top of the frosting in the middle layer.
I can say one thing healthy about this cake...I used dark chocolate which is has good nice antioxidants in it...as does the coffee in the recipe too. Also, this is one of the FEW Barefoot Contessa recipes that doesn't use butter for the cake and I used my Omerga-3 blend oil. Am I far reaching on this one since the bad outweighs the good? Yeah, I think so too.
My cookie crushing, cake decorating helpers.
So, here it is...6 hours later:
Anyhoo...on to my daikon soup. I learned how to make this comfort food from my mama and added my own flair to it. It's sooooo simple, satisfying, and savory. It's DEFINITELY a must-make during cold fall/winter months. Low-fat, healthy, and just yummmmmmmmy! Cook be warned that this will smell really, really ridiculously good...until you add the radishes...then you might want to make sure only those who love you and know you're a good cook are in the house. Others may doubt your abilities as well as not want to enter your abode.
Alrighty, I am BIG on making my own stock. There is just something about making your own stock that makes a soup that much better. Plus, you get to control the sodium levels & everything else you put into it. So, I started with some rib bones (I honestly like to buy anything that has a good amount of meat on it and big bones). Sometimes I get lucky and buy the ginormous beef bones available at the commissary (the military grocery store), if they have it. Anyway, wash the beef goodness off and place in a large pot and cover them with cold water.
After you simmering for several hours, you'll want to continuously skim off any fat globules (that separate from the meat) & liquid fat from the soup. You'll feel better about yourself after your belly is nice and full and you know you ate only good stuff.
After several hours, I like to bump up the flavor by adding at least one can of CHICKEN broth...yup, I still will add premade canned chicken broth to my stocks to enhance the flavor and make it a bit richer (unless I've been cooking stock for the whole day...literally and have a load of bones up in that puppy). Season to taste AFTER you've added the stock. You may want to add soy sauce to taste too...I usually don't. I did this time though.
About 30-45 minutes prior to serving the soup, take the daikon, peel it, and slice it into 3/4-1 inch rounds (which you may want to slice those round in half...totally optional since you're eating it and not me). I also will throw in several more carrots since we love carrots & the added nutrition. HOWEVER, too many carrots will turn this soup SWEET. When all is said and done, have some hot, cooked rice waiting (we like brown or a combo of white/brown) in some bowls. Ladle the hot soup over it and VOILA! Healthy, satisfying, guiltless yumminess waiting to be in your belleh! We also like to make a simple dipping sauce for the meat by pouring a small amount of soy sauce into a dipping bowl, add olive oil (or whatever oil you like), and lots of fresh ground pepper. My mom likes the sauce with more soy, I prefer more oil.
Thank you, Mom. I don't tell you enough, but I'm so grateful for you and all the things you have taught me. The biggest things you've taught me are to be super affectionate & my love of food.
I'm going to make some soup tomorrow for the kids. I made some homemade chicken veggie barley soup with tiny ABC pasta & big ABC/123 pasta for my sick little ones, but since it was chicken soup, it wasn't something I was going to blog home to Mom about. However, I will post the one I'm making tomorrow because it's:
A) the best soup to eat on a 90ish-degree day in FL (heavy on the sarcasm)
B) because it's easy & goes in line with my lazy weekend
& C) it's just FABULOUS!
Again, it's probably a post that I'll have to refer to when the fall/winter comes. ;o) I do have on the menu eggrolls/springrolls/lumpia (whatever your ethnicity is, call it what you will)...we'll see if I make 'em since it doesn't go with my lazy mood. If not, I'll make some Asian-y chicken dumplings since I like to hide veggies in those bad boys to make my naughty boy eat veggies.
I also brought strawberries that probably won't last past Sunday and I may...MAY try to make lemon cupcakes w/fresh strawberry buttercream (wish me luck, Em!). We'll see and if it's good, I intend on giving most of it to Kaia's class since I like my muffin top to shrink, not overflow. Dammit...I also promised to make blueberry pancakes.
Crap...so this really isn't a lazy weekend. ;o)
Oh yes, perfection in a bowl.
Avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, GARLIC, red onion, lime, a bit of extra virgin olive oil (which I normally don't use in guacamole but added it for a bit more extra healthy fat), & a lil' S&P...YUM, YUM, YUM!!
Kaia could not stop raving about it for 5 minutes straight. She was so cute. My little girl is so making me proud becoming the little foodie that she's become! I remember when she was three and we just got in from our 12 hr. drive from MD to FL. I decided to save money and whip up a quick linguine w/clam sauce. As the garlic is sauteing in the pan with the olive oil, Kaia walks in and sniffs the air and proclaims...mmmmmmmmmm GARLIC! WHAT?!?!?! Yeah, she made me exponentially proud at that very moment. The next week, I made the Barefoot Contessa's Garden Pasta (this recipe is so simple and SOOOOO yummy). Kai Bear tried it and said, "Ooh, I like this basil!" Yup...at the tender age of 3, my daughter's palate was so crazy refined.
Anyhoo...I tried to get a video of her critique but she was already full at that point. I had grabbed the camera to record her but, being typical Tanya, detoured to take photos of my "guac" before it browned and then my neighbor called and then Kim called! Hahahaha. Yeah, the moment was lost to capture it on film (or rather, memory stick), but my daughter's glowing review of a simple dip made me feel so nice!
So, yeah...this guacamole was sooooooo yummy! I wanted to add some jalepeno peppers but with that damn salmonella scare and that Kaia liked it, it was a no go. Anyway...I'm enjoying my healthy dip (w/baked Scoops...which happen to be healthy than multigrain Tostitos...if only I had a Trader Joes near me...*sigh*)! Did you know avocados & tomatoes are an ideal paring? The heart-healthy fat from the avocados help the body to absorb the antioxidants from the tomatoes. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat.
I really should start posting some recipes.