Friday, January 30, 2009

Fennel and Orange Salad

Fennel and Orange Salad

Anyone who follows me on twitter (follow me here) knows that this is my region of the country's growing season and I am getting a wonderful box of produce from my local farm co-op (CSA Box). My only problem seems to be my plethora of fennel.

I really don't like fennel all that much. I find that the flavor when cooked is a little strong and tends to over power anything it is going with! I decided I had better try it raw and see how that goes. At this point I had 4 large bulbs of the stuff. Thank goodness my sister is here and she was able to help out with eating all of this!

I looked around for a couple of ideas and came up with a Fennel and Orange Salad...Big yummm. I had some arugula going wild in my garden so this went into the salad! This one is really a winner!!!

I am entering this into GYO because I grew the arugula from seeds that we planted in October. Grow Your Own is a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. This months event is hosted by Andrea of Andrea's Recipes. Go on over and check out the round up tomorrow!

Fennel and Orange Salad

3 or 4 bulbs of fennel , tops removed and bulb thinly sliced
large bunch of arugula, cleaned and torn to bites sized pieces
2 oranges, supremed or thinly sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
juice from the remaining orange scraps
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all salad ingredients. Whisk together the oil, orange juice, salt and pepper. Toss together and serve chilled!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge...Tuiles!

Once again I am a very, very bad Daring Baker. Why oh why do I leave my challenges all until the very last minute and I mean the very last minute by doing it the night before it is due to be be honest I am really sucking at this!

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux

Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they're named. The Dutch angle: traditionally this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on 31st December, representing the year unfold. On New Years day however, the same batter was used but this day they were presented to well-wishers shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that's about to roll on. And of course the batter is sometimes called tulip-paste....

What we would like you to do is:

- use one of the batters given,
- shape it either prior (using a stencil) or right after baking and
- pair it with something light; fruit, sorbet, a mousse, or maybe even a fruit soup, think glazes or dips…..

Bend it, shape it, anyway you want it!

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

I had wanted to shape mine in a muffin tin immediately after baking to make little cups to hold my filling but for some reason I could not get them to do this so I tried rolling the tuiles around a rolling pin as suggested. That didn't work so good for me either and they started to crumble. The second batch I had my sister help me roll and we used a baster to do the deed. This worked great and I ended up with cannoli like tubes. For my filling I made a very simple whipped cream with frozen mixed berries.

I had to make a mild adjustment to mine as I had no vanilla extract!!! I ended up making do with lemon extract...

Would I make these again? They were incredible and I'm not sure if it was from the lemon extract or if they really tasted this good. T. and my sister inhaled the broken and damaged ones and I barely got pictures of the finished and filled ones before they were all over them! My sister described it as being a nice, light dessert! Huge hit and nice and easy to make...yep I would make these again!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Whole Wheat Pancakes made lighter...

Whole Wheat Pancakes made even better!

I am pretty excited today! Not only is one of my most favorite people in the whole world coming to visit me (yep that's you sis!) but I just found a way to make my Whole Wheat Pancakes even better!!!

First off my sister flies in this morning to spend a week just hanging out with T, me and the kids. How lucky am I? This means shopping, lunches, long walks on the beach and just hanging out with the one person in the world that knows me best (and still likes me!).

Now onto the incredible pancakes!

Whole Wheat Pancakes (Weight Watchers point value...2 pancakes=3 points)


2 cup whole wheat flour
2Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1-3/4 cup milk
4 Tbs unsweetened apple sauce
1 mashed banana


Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl mix the banana, applesauce, milk and eggs.

Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just moist.

Cook on an electric griddle or fry pan.

This makes about 16 pancakes but the girls like the heated up the next day or even cold from the fridge as a snack! Recipe halves well for less pancakes!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pasta with Tomato and Basil

Okay, the picture I had on here all day was bugging me. I made this again and with whole wheat pasta...for the picture!
Don't tell me you've never done that!!!

I have had a couple of really hectic days and my poor family is really paying for it this time. Last night for dinner I fed the kids panko breaded tilapia, from the freezer!!! Along side of that I served a frozen dinner roll. Nice dinner huh?

So while I was up in the middle of the night while EVERYONE else slept I was trying to do a bit of meal planning. You see my sister is coming into town for a week starting Monday and I have nothing done. No cleaning, no cooking, and certainly no grocery shopping. Thanks goodness it is only Saturday and have a full 2 days to get this all done!!!

While I was thinking about food I realized that I had not posted one of my all time favorite meals in a long time. Not because we haven't been eating it but because we are so used to eating it that it doesn't seem that special anymore. But, I bet to you guys who are not getting fresh tomatoes right now this will seem mighty special to you and you will want to book mark for use in the summer!

The absolute best thing about this dish is that you make it ahead of time and it is good served either at room temperature, with a slight chill to it or warmed up a bit! I call that pretty versatile don't you?

Pasta With Fresh Tomato and Basil (4 weight watcher points figured at 6 servings)

1 head of garlic and 2 Tbsp olive oil
3 ripe plum tomatoes (I just use whatever is tasting good right them)
1/3 C fresh basil (chopped)
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box of long thin pasta (angel hair, linguine, spaghetti)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Peel of most of the paper from around the garlic head. Slice off the pointy top of the garlic. This should expose all of the cloves a bit. Place in an oven proof pan (I use a pie plate). Top with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and coarse salt. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool then remove the cloves and mash with a fork.
  • Dice the tomatoes (if the have a ton of seeds squeeze them out).
  • Add the garlic, basil, capers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
  • Cook pasta.
  • Mix sauce with pasta and serve warm or at room temperature. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Give this a try the next time you have some delicious ripe tomatoes. I know you will love it too!!!

As Always...


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brrrrrrr...and Chocolate Banana Muffins!

It is mighty cold outside right now! 36 degrees is nothing to laugh at when you are pleasantly used to an average temperature of about 80 degrees. It doesn't happen often here but when it does it is BIG news!!! You can bet I will be baking or cooking today to try and get my house warmed up!

For today though I have nothing that will warm you up but it will surely make you happy!

I always use up my old banana's in something. They rarely if ever get thrown away but I was getting tired tired of the same old, same old. Banana bread, smoothies, cookies etc...Then I saw these from Elle at Elle's New England Kitchen and that changed all that and as luck would have it had some old banana's just waiting for this recipe!

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins (from Elle at Elle's New England Kitchen)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, combine bananas, oil and egg.
3. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. The batter is quite thick, but keep folding it gently, making sure to get the batter on the bottom of the bowl, and it'll all come together.
4. Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups three fourths full.
6. Bake at 350 deg F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

***Updated - I just made these again using applesauce instead of the oil and 1/2 cup of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour to replace 1/2 cup of AP Flour. They turned out perfectly and reduced this recipe by 2 WW Points to a total of 4 Points per muffin!!!

I am going to make these again! Everyone loved them. I will try and sub some applesauce for the oil next time though. Should lighten them up significantly!

Silly picture of my great big huge mutt in his favorite position! Less than a year old and still growing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or Golumki's

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Meatballs!

Oh this has been a ling time coming. I have truly wanted to make these things since my friend Jenn The Leftover Queen Posted about them last February. At that time I even bought a cabbage but it went bad and I threw it out :(!!!

This time when my CSA box had cabbage I knew I was gonna do it...but how? Guess what I did? I Twittered it! I love my Twitter friends. They respond to my every food whim in the form of recipes galore!!!

With all of the great recipes I got I was able to pick and choose and I also emailed T's Mom and got the original...

Coconut & Lime
The Leftover Queen
Sunday Nite Dinner
To Market, To Market with San Diego Foodstuff

They all had great things about them. T. wanted his memories though and that didn't involve dill, Asian or dried fruit (bookmarked and will happen!!!)

One thing I did find out and can't wait to try is that you can eliminate the boiling process by freezing the head of cabbage for 24 hrs or longer. My idea is to buy one and freeze it until you need it. When it thaws the leaves will be limp like that lettuce that gets accidentally frozen! Easy to roll without all the boiling...I am truly all about simplicity!!!

Here is the recipe that I ended up with and it seemed to fulfill T.'s memories of all of the Polish and Italian women's cabbage rolls or golumki's that he grew up with!!!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Golumki's)


2 lbs lean ground beef (90% lean)
1-1/2 cups rice, cooked and cooled
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
29 oz can of tomato puree
2 Tbsp brown sugar
15 oz can of sauerkraut, drained and rinsed

  • Boil a pot of water large enough to hold your head of cabbage. Once boiled immerse cabbage in water for about 2 minutes. Remove from water and let drain. When cool enough to handle gently remove leaves. When you reach the point where they aren't soft enough dunk back into your still boiling pot of water. Repeat process until you have all the leaves you need. Alternate method that I want to try is freezing the head of cabbage for about 24 hrs. Allow to thaw. Leaves should be soft like lettuce leaves that you have accidentally frozen. Would save this tedious step.
  • Mix the beef, rice, onion, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and 3 Tbsp of the tomato puree.
  • In a large roasting pan or casserole dish (I used a 10X15 glass pan) covered with aluminum foil, evenly spread the sauerkraut as the bottom layer.
  • Lay your cabbage leaf on a clean work surface and fill with an amount that will be easily rolled. Not too full or it may split during cooking. Roll for the stem side in folding in edges as you go.
  • Lay seam side down on the sauerkraut. Continue with this until you are out of leaves.
  • I had some extra filling left over so I made little meatballs and stuffed them in spaces in the pan. Doesn't have to be perfect!
  • Mix 2 Tbsp of brown sugar into the tomato puree and pour over rolls and meatballs. Add about 1/2 can of water to the edges.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 hrs or until everything looks nice and tender and the meat is cooked through!
I made these in the afternoon and refrigerated them. When T. got home he popped them into the oven and reheated them.

He said they were perfect. My girl's loved them. Even my tomato hater. She just ate the inside but that's good enough for me!

These worked out to be 6 weight watchers points per serving calculated at 8 servings. Not a bad meal!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Short Ribs Cooked Low and Slow...

I have found out that I LOVE braised meat. Big confession here (I may have confessed previously), but I have never (until now) been able to cook a roast or any type of meat that was suppose to be cooked and served like a pot roast. We have had it so bad that even after hours of cooking the meat was soooo tough that we had to order pizza!

To say the least I was very hesitant to braise or slow roast anything. Especially something that we would have to smell cooking for about 3 hrs before we could find out if it was edible or not. I managed to succeed with the Braised Chuck with Vegetables in Red Wine but this was different. I had never even had short ribs before I tried this recipe!!! Thank goodness I have Kelly of Sass & Veracity to talk me through this!!! I tried this over Christmas when my Mom was here and T. wanted it again. It was a definite hit.

When he brought home short ribs on Friday I knew I had to do something. His craving was serious.

Now, I have a bit of a problem though. I liked it but there are so many more recipes out there that I want to try. Once you get over a fear of something you want to try it again and again right??? That's what this was like. I hunted and searched for some new recipes. The only one that really caught my eye was one I found on Epicurious. It was an interesting recipe and I thought about it all day but after I read the comments on the recipe (love Epicurious because there are comments from people who have tried the recipe and are willing to give feedback on it) I had to say no to it. I just had such a hard time wrapping my head around chocolate being in it. Really funny thing is though that while I was watching TV on Saturday night Megan from Megan's Cookin posted the very same recipe and said it turned out great!!! It is definitely saved and waiting for the next time.

Now that I am more comfortable with this method I am able to change the recipes around a bit and be a little more flexible than I was before. This was probably the very best that these turned out! My youngest one loved them and ended up eating 4 large ribs!

Play around with this recipe it is very flexible...I used parsnip and no shallots. Cooked more ribs in the same liquid and reduced the amount of wine and it turned out incredible!!!

Beef Short Ribs in Wine (I got from Sass & Veracity who adapted it from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook...)


3 T extra virgin olive oil
8 good-sized short ribs (3" square)
salt & pepper
1 bay leaf
1 T fresh rosemary
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 sprigs parsley
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 shallots, diced
1 T flour
1 T tomato paste
1/2 c. ruby port
2 c. red wine
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
3-1/2 c. veal or beef stock
3 c. mushrooms
flat egg noodles (we served it with potatoes this time and the sauce was great on them!)


Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Sprinkle all surfaces of the beef with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or large lidded, oven proof pot, heat 2 T of the olive oil and brown the short ribs, turning each to make sure a nice, rich color is achieved on each side. Remove the ribs to a bowl as they finish browning before adding the remainder.

After all the ribs have been browned, add the remaining 1 T of olive oil with the carrots, celery, onions, and shallots to the pot. Over medium heat, cook, stirring frequently until veggies have begun to soften, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the flour and tomato paste, mixing well for about 1 minute. Add the port and stir, scraping the brown coating from the bottom of the pan. Add the red wine and allow to simmer until the liquid is reduced, 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic cloves, veal stock, herbs, and short ribs with juices to the pot and return to a simmer. Add the mushrooms, stirring into the mixture, place a lid on the pot and put into the oven for approximately 3 hours until meat is extremely tender.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Soup and Chili Weather!

It doesn't really get "cold" here, it just feels like it is to us. After living our summers at 90 degrees and above when the temperature starts to drop below 75 degrees we feel a little chill in the air! Go ahead laugh all you want but when it is in the 40's during the night and only the 60's during the day we need to be bundled up!!! Hence my huge desire for soups and chili last week.

I put a shout out on Twitter (follow me here to find out what I'm up to!) looking for chili recipe and "Wow" did my friends deliver! I have so many chili recipes favorited and that I can't wait to try! Due to my daughter still being sick I wasn't able to head to the grocery store to pick up any missing items so I was rather limited on what I could make. Someone sent me this Weight Watchers recipe though that fit all of my requirements and was low in points (5 points per serving) as well!!!

Bean and Beef Chili (adapted from WW)


2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion(s)

2 medium stalk(s) celery

2 medium garlic clove(s)

1 small jalapeño pepper(s)

1 pound(s) lean ground sirloin

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 piece(s) bay leaf

1/2 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

28 oz canned crushed tomatoes

8 oz canned diced tomatoes

15 oz canned kidney beans

3/4 cup(s) canned chicken broth


Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, garlic and jalapeño; sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add beef and sauté until browned and cooked through, breaking up meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes; drain mixture through a colander to remove excess fat.

Return beef mixture to pan (set over medium-high heat) and add chili powder, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, salt and red pepper flakes; stir to coat vegetables and beef with spices. Add tomatoes, broth, diced tomatoes and beans, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

To serve, discard bay leaves, ladle chili into bowls and top with chopped shallots. Yields about 1 heaping cup per serving.

I loved this recipe and despite it being a WW recipe I will make it again and again! This would be great for a buffet meal or a pot luck. Cook as per directions and then hold warm in a crock pot!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Operation No Kid Hungry

I guess everyone knows that I have a bit of a soft spot for kids and not just my own. It actually pains me to think of any child going hungry, EVER. I have found an organization that is trying to eradicate Childhood Hunger. So when they contacted me yesterday and asked me to help get their message out I jumped at the chance. I have been fortunate enough to support them at other times but when I heard that AT&T was doing this in conjunction with them I couldn't wait to be involved!

By having food blogs we have so much power to help get information out and in the public eye so please repost this if you can...

Share Our Strength has launched a brand new campaign to raise funds to help end childhood hunger. "Operation No Kid Hungry" responds to President-elect Obama's call to action to end childhood hunger by 2015.

Share Our Strength has partnered with AT&T to offer two great ways that you can support and participate in "Operation No Kid Hungry":

1.Donate by text: Text "SHARE" to 20222 on your mobile device to donate $5. AT&T will match all text donations up to $100,000. Help us meet this challenge grant! Find out more at

2.Hold a food drive: Beginning January 19th, a national day of community service, help feed those in need by holding your own community food drive.
Visit to find a food bank and a list of the most needed nutritious foods.

For more information about "Operation No Kid Hungry" and how you can help end childhood hunger, visit Share Our Strength's website:

There are also more ways you can help get the word out, including banners for your blog and social networking pages here:

Let's do our part to help this very worth while cause!!!

As Always...


Friday, January 16, 2009

Oh Baby, It's cold outside...

Tuscan Pumpkin and White Bean Soup - Warm and hearty soup for a cold night!

It has been cold here in Florida. Yah, I know it's absolutely nothing like what you are all getting up North but for here it's definitely time to get the soup on...

Last night I wanted something fast, easy, warm and delicious. This recipe sure fit the criteria. I was looking for something with squash or pumpkin (I had roasted and pureed a squash at Halloween that I knew I wanted to use). I also wanted it to be kind on the waist line. I went with a modified version of a Weight Watcers recipe and was very pleased! I will be making this again and again!!!

Tuscan Pumpkin and White Bean Soup (adapted from Weight Watchers)


1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
15 ounces of pumpkin puree (I used roasted and pureed pumpkin)
1-15.5 ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
3-1/2 cups of organic chicken broth
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
grated Parmesan

  • Heat oil in a large soup pot set over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
  • Stir in pumpkin, broth, beans and oregano; simmer 8 minutes.
  • In a blender (or using an immersion blender), process soup in batches until smooth. (Note: Make sure not to overfill blender in order to avoid splattering.) Return soup to pot and reheat; season with salt and pepper.
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day!

I really didn't think I would like this...

I had a very sick little girl home with me yesterday and I knew I needed to make her some soup. I made turkey soup for us for dinner. I needed bread to go with it. I asked around for some bread recipes and this kept coming up. You really can make Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day!!!

You have to get this book!!!

If you hunt around on the internet you can come up with a basic recipe but the real deal is in this book.

The idea is you make a big ball of dough in 5 minutes (for real). Then refrigerate it. You pull off dough balls as you need them for bread. This dough lasts for 2 weeks in your fridge. Can you just believe this!

Thanks Zoe!!!

Also it's delicious...

I have committed to BYOB for this year and this just fits right in. Not only does it taste better and is more satisfying but I know what goes in it and it saves me money!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dinner from Sunday.

Corn on the Cob and Baby Bok Choy ready for dinner!

I haven't been talking much about my CSA box this year and I am not sure why. I guess the main reason is that by the time I get home after picking it up it is pretty much dark and I don't have a whole bunch of light left. I did get one picture I took of this weeks delivery but it was kinda small. I did complain about it and they have promised to rectify it. Still the quality, variety and the flavor of the produce is beyond belief.

Cilantro, avocado, scallion, green pepper, carrots, baby bok choy, corn, lettuce, cabbage and Asian Spinach!

This brings me to Sunday night's dinner. I haven't been very organized about planning meals and it's been too hot to eat soup very much but I did take a couple of steaks out to thaw. I knew I wanted corn and I had seen a post of Jaden's site The Steamy Kitchen that had stir fried baby bok choy and had book marked that. Dinner came together nicely despite a football game and my husband blaring in the background!

We take grass fed Chuck Roast (Whole Foods) and cut them into steaks and freeze them individually. Almost looks like a New York Strip doesn't it?

I didn't get any pictures of the Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy but you can find the recipe here and I highly recommend it. It was delicious!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Customized Trail Mix

See all that healthy goodness. Good thing the kids don't realize it's good for them!

I was just hanging out reading some of my favorite blogs the other day when I came across Jo's blog The Adventure's of Kitchen Girl. First off I saw her really cute kids but then I saw what the post was about and immediately called my girls over. They loved this idea!!!

Customized Trail Mix (see Jo's version here )

combinations of ingredients:

pretzels (goldfish, sticks or twists)
Trail Mix (unsalted all cashews, peanuts, pistachios, sunflower kernels, raisins and dried mango)
peanut butter chips
chocolate chips

Today I bought:

Dried apricots (will cut them up)
banana chips
dried cherries
salted cashews
grated coconut (unsweetened)

I mixed this up in 2 zip top bags for the girls. That way they could each make there own. They packed a smaller bag up to take to school. I think they really loved that they could make it whatever they wanted it to be and I like it because despite the chocolate and peanut butter chips it is still healthy and makes for a nice high energy snack!

I will be making this over and over again! Thanks Jo for a great idea!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Easy and Fast Apple Crisp!

A quick and delicious weeknight dessert!

My kids like dessert and snacks. Okay, they LOVE dessert and snacks and you know what? They get it a lot. I buy a very minimal amount of processed foods. I make our bread, all of our food, and most of their snacks.

There really are several reasons that I do this. The first being for our health. When I make them the food they are eating I know exactly what is going into their little bodies! I know they aren't getting High Fructose Corn Syrup, Red Dye #40, any of the other dyes and no artificial sugars! Are they always getting "healthy" desserts and snacks. Hell no! They have cookies, cakes, quick breads, turnovers, and whatever else I feel like making them during the day! These are some lucky kids huh?

The other night I was going out for dinner with a friend of mine and I made sure that the family had leftover pizza for dinner but I also quickly threw together a really quick apple crisp with some poorly neglected apples. I was inspired to do this after reading Kelly's post here about a very elegant Maple Oat Apple Crisp that she had made. This one needed to be quick though. So this is what I threw together...

Easy and Fast Apple Crisp (I have no idea where this is from I have used it FOREVER)

5 cups peeled, sliced apples, pears or peaches
2 - 4 Tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 cup regular Quaker Oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

  • Pre heat oven to 375°
  • Place fruit in a 8 X 1 1/2 " round baking dish (or any other small dish that you choose), stir in the 2 - Tbsp brown sugar.
  • For the topping, in a mixing bowl combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. Cut in butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. I usually use my fingers to do this. It seems to mix it faster.
  • Sprinkle topping over the fruit.
  • Bake in a 375° oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is a nice golden color.
  • This can be served warm with ice cream.
This recipe is incredibly versatile but the basic one I follow. Here are some changes I make
  • Throw in some dried fruit
  • Use a different shaped pan or dish
  • Add some neglected pears or berries
  • Make it smaller or larger
  • Add more crumb topping
  • Add different spices (cardamom, cloves etc.)
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, January 9, 2009

Look at my breakfast!

I am trying to eat healthier in the New Year. Christmas and New Year's did me in this year and my energy was not where it needed to be. By eating healthier and lighter meals I am rapidly correcting this! Having my wonderful CSA box right now helps a whole bunch but you can do this with food from your grocery store too!

Today it was an egg scrambled with Asian spinach and tomato. Yesterday it was the same egg scrambled with leftover pizza sauce and cremini mushrooms.

All I do is reach in the fridge and find something fresh and cook it up. When it's just about cooked I add the beaten egg and there you have it. Breakfast in less than 5 minutes!!!

Weight Watchers - 1 egg is 2 points. Most veggies are 0

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Swiss Chard And Summer Squash Frittata

This was suppose to be with tomatoes instead of the summer squash but I have a tomato hater and an old summer squash...

Yesterday morning I was in a real bind about what to make for dinner. Once again it needed to be something that I could make ahead of time and reheat when it was time for all of us to eat. We had Karate after school and it makes it much easier when we get home at 6:45 to have something that can be reheated and set on the table immediately. So what did I do? I tweeted it!!! I had several responses but @nandita from Always Order Dessert won this round. She suggested my exact dinner!!! If you are not familiar with twitter maybe you should be. And if you are really interested you can follow me there on Twitter @nofearentertain

I did call on T's help with the side dish to the frittata. I had him throw butternut squash fries into the oven for me when he got home. All I did was take 2 baby butternut squash and peel them and clean out the inside and cut them into French fry shapes. These were sprayed with some olive oil spray and tossed in a preheated oven of 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Removed from the oven and sprinkled with kosher salt and flipped and placed back in there until nice and crispy. About 20 minutes more. These were so good. They are so much better than sweet potato fries and I will be making these again and again!

Anyway onto the main player here...

Swiss Chard and Summer Squash Frittata (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, the Moosewood Collective)

1 lb. Swiss chard
1 summer squash, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 cup chopped onions
2 tsp. Olive oil
6 egg whites
2 whole eggs
3 Tbs. Chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Wash the Swiss chard, remove and discard the large stems, and finely chop the leaves. In a 10 inch cast iron skillet, saute the garlic, summer squash and onions in 1 teaspoon of the oil for 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the Swiss chard, stir, cover, lower the heat, and cook for a bout 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and drain the Swiss chard if juicy.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, eggs, basil, salt, and pepper until blended. Stir in the sauteed Swiss chard. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the remaining tsp. of oil and return it to medium heat. When the skillet is hot, pour in the Swiss chard-egg mixture. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the edges are firm and the bottom is golden and beginning to brown. Place in a preheated 400 degree
oven and cook for about 5 minutes, until the eggs are fully cooked. Serve immediately or at room temperature, topped with grated Parmesan if you wish.

This was such an incredible meal that was a hit with both of the girls. It will be made again and again in our house!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thanks Jo and Yummr!


About a month or so ago I won a Pesto Challenge, with my Arugula Pesto and Wild Mushroom pizza, that was hosted by my friend Jo of The Adventures of Kitchen Girl and Yummr. The prize for the contest was 5 pounds of Barilla Pasta! Now that was exciting enough but I got the box the other day and as most of you know I have made myself a little nutty the past couple of days so I never got around to opening it (wayyyy too busy crying you know-what a DA* I am some times). Anyway I opened it yesterday afternoon and not only did they send me 5 boxes of Barilla but they sent me letter cutouts YUMR!!! How fun is that.

During the day yesterday I was going to make the girls some cookies but in my bleary eyed state (you know from crying all the day before-DA* me!) I opted to make them brownies from a box with some add ins to make them better. I dumped in some nuts, chocolate chips and some cookies that I had in the freezer from my Gourmet cookie event. They turned out delicious and were even more fun once I used the letter cutouts to spell YUM!!!

Thanks Jo and Yummr!

*DA = Dumb A**

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, January 5, 2009

Coq au Vin

Served over rice this was a hearty and delicious meal that can be made ahead!!!

Can I really even call it that? I had to use red wine and I couldn't even be as clever as the RecipeGirl and call it Coq au Zin as she used zinfandel. I just had a bad bottle of red that I used! But it was good. This dish was really, really good. Who cares what it's called right?

I based it on a couple of different recipes that I found and I really liked how it turned out.

Coq au Vin-my way (inspired by here, here and here)


6 leg quarters
2 Tbs olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder to season chicken
1/2 tsp dried thyme
10 cloves of garlic, cleaned and left whole
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large onion, rough chopped
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock


Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or pan. When the oil is hot add the chicken skin side down and brown well (you may have to do this in batches). Only brown the skin side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Remove all of the oil but for 2 Tbs and add the garlic, onion, celery. thyme and mushrooms. Cook until soft and the onions are starting to brown.

Add the red wine and reduce to about 1/2. Once reduced add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up and simmer until it is cooked through.

This turned out to be a really good meal served with rice and the sauce as an au jus. I was able to make this in the afternoon and refrigerate it, in the same pot, while we went to karate and then just heat it back up on the stove for dinner. Love a meal like this. So did the family!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Beef Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine (Slow and Low)

Yesterday was a beautiful day! We got up and the house was nice and cool and seeing it was Sunday we had no commitments until later in the day (I had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese-please shoot me now!!!), we decided to take advantage of the weather and head to the beach for a nice walk. T. had too much to do to spend the day but a walk was great!

For dinner I had decided that I needed something that I could get in the oven and have ready for me while I was gone with minimal babysitting! Kelly over at Sass & Veracity had just the thing. This isn't the first time I made this either. Yes, it's that good!!! I made it when my Mom was here over Christmas and it was a huge hit then as well.

Beef Short Ribs in Wine (I got from Sass & Veracity who adapted it from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook...)


3 T extra virgin olive oil
8 good-sized short ribs (3" square)
salt & pepper
1 bay leaf
1 T fresh rosemary
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 sprigs parsley
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 shallots, diced
1 T flour
1 T tomato paste
1/2 c. ruby port
2 c. red wine
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
3-1/2 c. veal or beef stock
3 c. mushrooms
flat egg noodles (T. made some homemade noodles to go with)


Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Sprinkle all surfaces of the beef with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or large lidded, oven proof pot, heat 2 T of the olive oil and brown the short ribs, turning each to make sure a nice, rich color is achieved on each side. Remove the ribs to a bowl as they finish browning before adding the remainder.

After all the ribs have been browned, add the remaining 1 T of olive oil with the carrots, celery, onions, and shallots to the pot. Over medium heat, cook, stirring frequently until veggies have begun to soften, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the flour and tomato paste, mixing well for about 1 minute. Add the port and stir, scraping the brown coating from the bottom of the pan. Add the red wine and allow to simmer until the liquid is reduced, 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic cloves, veal stock, herbs, and short ribs with juices to the pot and return to a simmer. Add the mushrooms, stirring into the mixture, place a lid on the pot and put into the oven for approximately 3 hours until meat is extremely tender.

***This was a delicious meal and I think it is one that will be made again and again. I had never had short ribs before and this made me a true fan...twice!!!

I have also found that I love to braise meat. The flavor is incredible and the secret is in getting that meat nice and browned and using up all those brown bits of heaven that are left on the bottom of the pot and deglazing to get every bit of flavor!!!

Check Kelly's site for some better pictures and step by step ones as well!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, January 2, 2009

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

During Christmas when my Mom was here, we made a run to Costco to pick up some things. Mom loves Costco for the very same reason that my girl's do...SNACKS!!! I can go through that place after taking them to skating on Saturday mornings and can almost get away without serving them lunch that day!!

Well Mom walked past the lady who was sampling the Spanakopita. They weren't quite ready yet. Mom decided to camp out until they were ready. Lucky for us it wasn't too long and she had her little triangle package of bliss...or was it? I tasted mine and my first thought was I can make this better!!! So I started searching for recipes and of course I didn't have to look too far!

Peter, one of my bestest buddies, at Kalofagas-Greek Food and Beyond was able to hook me up. Only thing was he made his own Phyllo Dough???!!! Very impressive but not what I had in mind. So I emailed him and we went back and forth a couple of times before I headed off to the grocery store to BUY some frozen phyllo dough.

This made for an incredible meal and even as large as the slices were the girls ate a whole one each.

I used a 9" Square baking pan and it worked perfectly for us!

Spanakopita (adapted from Kalofagas-Greek Food and Beyond)


1 roll of frozen phyllo (filo) dough, thawed and ready to use
1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
8 oz. feta cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 bunch of scallions, sauteed in oil (softened)
2 boxes of frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

  • Mix all ingredients (but the phyllo dough) together and check for taste.
  • I used a 9" square pan and it worked fine. Grease your pan (bottom and sides with oil (best not to use olive oil or butter for this as it could burn).
  • Now you take the phyllo sheet by sheet and layer it in your pan, alternating directions. Use 12 sheets for the bottom and that will leave you 8 sheets for the top. When the bottom is layered melt some butter and add some olive oil and drizzle some on your bottom layer and spread with a pastry brush. Poke some random holes with a fork in the pastry.
  • Spread your spinach mixture evenly over then pastry. You will have pastry overlapping the sides of the pan.
  • Start layering the top layer of phyllo dough. Alternating directions. When all 8 pieces are on fold the edges together and roll down. Using your butter/oil mix be sure to coat the top layer well.
  • Cut through the top pastry layer to help avoid breaking your dough once cooked.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour in a 375 degree oven. When nicely browned remove from oven and cover with a clean tea towel for about 15 minutes.
This was so incredibly fast and easy! I know I didn't make the little triangles but this is much more practical for a meal. I will be making this again and again! My pie was definitely fuller than Peter's and he had cautioned me about overfilling it as it may ooze out. I think my filling was a bit thicker than it should have been so I didn't have that trouble and I liked it nice and thick! We served it with a green salad and it was a nice hearty meal! I may try my hand at making my own dough. See here for Peter's step by step instructions!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!