Wednesday, January 28, 2015

10 Things I might make for the BIG Game...

You know the Big Game?
The SUPER one?
As Seattle peeps, you already know who we are cheering for!
Two in a row?  Yes, please!
Here's what I MIGHT make... you can't expect me to commit right now, can you?
I thought it was great that I narrowed it down to ten selections!

I gotta admit... we are not "football people", but this event is bigger than that.
We are out there cheering for our SEAHAWKS!

We're keeping it small... maybe just another 1-2 couples, people who understand our sports deficiencies.  People that we like to hang with, comfortable, loud, cheering people, who patiently explain stuff that makes us scratch our heads.

A couple of years ago I did a Super Bowl Recipe post... now, in hindsight, I don't think it's that good.  I need more SNACKY foods!!! So here you go... 
Now, in looking at my list, I feel like the LAZIEST cook around. 
What?  You like that?
Whew....these are simple recipes folks!
Go for it.  I can't have you tired for the game, now can I?

Having a martini or two might kick it off... bring on the Skittles!
Beast Mode Skittle Martini

A selection of yummy grazing appetizers are the answer... I better get the big bag of Juanita's "Crack" corn chips! 
Almost everything here can be scooped up on a chip, pita, or some veggies!
It's Vegetarian (OK, Pescetarian friendly!) and simple to make.

In alphabetical order... Artichoke and Roasted Cumin Dip 
Ugly, but yummy.

Artichoke Olive Cheese Bread
Kinda ugly, and takes longer than anything on the rest of the list, but you CANNOT beat the yumminess factor on this one.

Avocado Hummus 
This one looks a LOT better than guacomole after about 30 minutes.


Chipotle Black Bean Dip
Takes about 2 minutes to make...

Prawn Queso Dip  - or if this menu is too heavy on prawns (LOL), then just make it with Hot Links!  Spoiler Alert... two more prawn recipes below!


Prawns with Cilantro Sauce
I don't care what you put this sauce on, it's yummy!

Prawns with Creamy Habanero Sauce
Make the sauce ahead of time.  Grill up some skewers of prawns before everyone gets there.  This sauce is the BOMB on chips too...

Sesame Dip for Veggies  

Smoked Salmon Spread with Capers & Green Onions
So easy, so great on bread, pita, chips or veggies!

And lastly...
Spicy Feta Dip/Spread   
Actually, if it was just me?  I'd just make this one and sit with a bowlful.


Why you should consider going Meatless once a week

The concept of Meatless Monday’s has been around since WWII when rationing meat to feed our troops and save resources was needed for war efforts. Americans were proud to do their part to help out.  Recently, Meatless Monday has become popular again due to concerns about carbon emissions, fossil fuel and water usage to bring meat to the consumer’s table. If Americans simply reduce their meat consumption by adopting Meatless Mondays, it appears that we could save billions of pounds of carbon emissions each year and help to reduce global warming.
          Carbon emissions contribute to global warming, and mass agriculture and feedlot meat production are major contributors in creating these emissions.  In the 20th century, the size and scope of agriculture has changed drastically over past years with the introduction of large scale farming with bigger machinery combined with man made (fossil fuel) fertilizers and pesticides.  
Michael Pollan says in his Farmer in Chief letter that in the 1940’s the U.S. produced 
“2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one [nation] that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food” (1). 

With limited fossil-fuels at our disposal, and concern for global warming, we must make a change in how we view, and produce the calories that we eat. According to Roger Segleken from Cornell University, protein from grain-fed animals needs over eight times the amount of fossil-fuel needed to produce plant protein. With that one fact in mind, Americans can make a big difference by reducing their meat consumption once a week.  Plant based protein, fruits and vegetables can provide all the nutrients and the variety needed for a healthy diet.  With a little ingenuity and attention to our choices, Americans can reduce their own grain-fed animal consumption while satisfying their taste buds, their wallets and their waistlines with a plant based diet one day per week.

          Meat production has a carbon footprint of over 18% of total greenhouse emissions in the U.S., more than all the cars and SUV’s combined (enveg). Considering America’s love affair with newer, bigger, better and faster automobiles, it is shocking that the food we eat could possibly take even more energy to produce than our cars use. While some researchers have debunked the way these statistics are written (Page) and likening them to each other is like comparing  as ‘apples to oranges’, we can all agree that fruit is still fruit in this instance, and the energy needed to create a pound of grain-fed meat is too expensive of a price to pay with our environment.  No matter how these statistics are minutely computed, without a doubt, we can all accept that we should not be paying such a high carbon footprint price to raise and deliver meat to our tables while there are so many choices better for our personal well being and our Earth’s environmental health.
          Former vice president, Al Gore, famous for his climate change movie, calls Meatless Monday one of the top 12 things you can do now for a better world (climatecrisis). Cutting meat out of our diets entirely would reduce carbon emissions by over 5,000 pounds per capita.  While trying to convert the entire nation to Vegetarianism might be an extreme challenge to undertake to reduce global warming, promoting and following a Meatless Monday regime once a week would not, and could make a tremendous difference in our environment.  With over 310 million people in the United States today (census), even reducing every individual’s consumption by one meatless day would account for reduction of carbon emissions over 712 pounds per person, and when multiplied by 310 million people, save our fragile environment over 220 billion pounds of needless emissions.
          Grain-fed livestock consumes over 60% of American raised corn and 40% of our soybeans. It takes six to ten pounds of grain to produce a single pound of beef in the U.S.  (enveg). David Pemintel, professor of Ecology at Cornell as saying "If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million” (Segelken).  In a world where people still routinely die of hunger in Third World countries and many others are malnourished, consuming this amount of grains via the meat we eat, seems like a shameful, over consuming way of life.  It’s a very high price to pay to get meat onto our tables every day of the week.
Could cutting meat out of your diet one day per week really help to save the planet?  While most Americans know to use CFL light bulbs in their homes and to turn off lights when they are not in use to reduce their energy consumption, Meatless Monday is still somewhat unknown as a way to reduce your carbon footprint.   Talking with your friends and family about the amount of energy needed to get one pound of meat to your table, and the wonderful savings and health benefits you personally experience with meatless eating one day per week, can go a long way to create awareness on this great program to save our planet.

Works Cited
"12 Tips - Climate Crisis." Home - Climate Crisis. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.
"7 Clear-Cut Reasons Why Meat Is Bad for the Environment | EnVeg." EnVeg | Saving the Environment One Meal at a Time. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.
Page, Lewis. "'Go Veggie to save the Planet' UN, EU Plans Debunked • The Register." The Register: Sci/Tech News for the World. 23 Mar. 2010. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.
Pollan. "Farmer in Chief." Web.
Segelken, Roger. "Livestock Farming Method Criticized." Cornell Chronicle Online. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.
"U.S. & World Population Clock." Census Bureau Home Page. Web. 09 Mar. 2011.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chicken with Mushrooms & Garlic

I've been a little remiss lately...
Not blogging, not cooking too much, entirely too busy, especially for January!
What's up with that?

This was pretty easy... and low carb, and gluten free.... and well, YUMMY.
Baking the chicken thighs while you're preparing the rest makes it very quick to prepare.

I know some of you may not like to eat chicken on the bone... I get it, I really do.
I'm thinking you could easily make the sauce part of this dish and serve it over grilled or pan fried boneless chicken too.

As you can see below, I am using fresh thyme.  It's very satisfying to go out to my herb pot on the deck and see one little plant still chugging away with fresh leaves for me to use.  If you don't have a pot of it, I'd suggest you get one this spring.  A very forgiving plant and is useful all year too.

Serves 3-4

6 Chicken thighs, with bones & skin, about 2 lbs
12 oz sliced mushrooms (I used 1/2 package of the above)
2/3 cup chopped onions
5-6 garlic cloves, minced (lots)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, about 1 tsp of small leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
Green onions or chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Salt and Pepper some chicken thighs on both sides.  Add to a large 9x13 baking dish. No need for oil or butter, the chicken skin will release enough to keep them from sticking to the pan. Bake the thighs in a hot oven, 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  

They should look nice and crisp and browned and be cooked through.  You can pierce the part near the bone to see if the juices are clear. If they are reddish, cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Note:  Be sure to drain the fat and juices from the baking pan.  Add it to a dish, and put it in the freezer or fridge to solidify the fat.  Discard the fat when firm and use the broth for something some other night. It takes a bit too long to do this with the juices for this dish, but this is nice broth/stock that you'll be able to use later! I got about 1/2 cup of very rich stock.

While the chicken is cooking, slice up the mushrooms, onions and crush the garlic.
Saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic in the butter & olive oil.  Saute for about 4-5 minutes until they start to soften.  DON'T add any salt to the sauting mushrooms, they release too much water and don't brown up very well.

Add broth, wine, cream, fresh thyme.  Simmer for about 3-4 more minutes.
To thicken, add the corn starch to a tablespoon of water and mix, adding it to the sauce as it simmers.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes and let it thicken.

Add the sauce around the chicken thighs and serve at once over noodles, rice or quinoa

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin


Ooey, gooey satisfying baked cheesy noodles... 
Aw, well...., actually it IS squash.
Doesn't seem too sexy with squash somehow, but in full ethical disclosure it seemed like I should name it appropriately.

But spaghetti squash does seem like noodles!!!  Low carb, gluten free and a nice way for peeps to eat up their veggies.

Here's a little picture of the dish served up.

Serves 4-5

1/2 spaghetti squash, about 4 cups "noodles"
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus 1/4 cup for top
2-3 Tbsp Parmesan, freshly grated, plus 1-2 Tbsp for top
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp butter
3-4 Tbsp cream cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

To prepare the spaghetti squash, do NOT cut it half when it's uncooked!  
It's quite difficult... instead, pierce the whole squash with a sharp knife in 4-5 places.  Microwave on High for 5-6 minutes.  Test... does it feel soft?  Does it give a bit?  If so, remove and carefully cut the squash in half.  It will be HOT!  Remove the seeds with a spoon, scraping carefully to remove.  With a fork, starts ruffling up the squash, pulling it into "noodles".  It does this easily, so don't work about the noodle part.  Retain 1/2 the noodles for another use.  It freezes very nicely too, I freeze it flattened in a Ziploc bag, easy to thaw for another dinner.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In another large bowl, add the cream cheese (cut into small chunks), the butter, the minced garlic, the sour cream and the grated cheeses.  

Drop the hot squash noodles on top of the mixture, and using tongs, toss to coat.  Try to mix in any lumps.  

Add to a small baking dish, I used a 5x9 dish, but you could use 4 small individual dishes too. Top with more cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the edges are starting to brown.  Serve at once.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hamburger Crust Pizza- Low Carb & Delicious

 (this looks a little greasy, however, this is mostly meat juices if you use lean ground beef 88%)

It's amazing how happy the suggestion of a dinner idea can make some people.
After I mentioned this in passing  to my husband, he kept bringing it up.
When are you going to make it?
What do you need at the store?
Need any help?

The funny thing about this dish is that my Mom made it years ago when we were kids, and I remembered it fondly too.  So I guess I was pretty excited to eat it as well.

If you are "low carbing" it , or just want a fun idea for dinner, a hamburger crust pizza will surely fit the bill.  We ate the leftovers in our lunches, and it was a very satisfying lunch too.

Whoops, I forgot something!

Here you see the Canadian bacon and pepperoni that I used!

Serves 4

1 1/2 lb Lean ground beef (88% lean is good- I use fresh from Costco)
Salt & pepper
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp oregano

Mix altogether, press meat mixture into a pie plate and up the sides.  I used the largest quiche dish I have... about 11", but a large pie plate would work too.

Bake, without any topping, at 375 for 10 minutes, pour off any grease.

Foolishly, I added the sauce, so it was a bit tricky to pour off the accumulated fat and juices.

Then add:  
1/2 cup pizza sauce, or thick spaghetti sauce (recipe for a quick one below)
Sliced pepperoni 
Chopped canadian bacon
Chopped onions
Sliced olives
Sauteed mushrooms (raw mushrooms will release too much water...)
Bell pepper, sliced or chopped (optional)
1 cup mixture of mozzarella and cheddar cheese, grated

Bake another 10 minutes
Cut into wedges and serve.

You can see here that the whole thing DOES shrink a bit....

I was able to lift this to a cutting board with two spatulas.

Here's a picture of a slice, ready to eat!

Recipe for easy pizza sauce:
1- 15 oz can of diced stewed tomatoes with basil and garlic
1- 4 oz can of tomato paste
A little dried, or fresh garlic
Salt and pepper

Process this in your mini chopper, food processor and blender.  Yummy!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mexican Avocado Chicken "Parmigiana"

This one is obviously NOT Chicken Parmigiana.
Not Italian at all.
However, the technique is a bit similar, hence my name for this dish.

I pan seared some seasoned chicken breasts on both sides, added a bit of enchilada sauce, layered on some avocado slices, springs of fresh cilantro and some slices of cheese.
Voila! I mean... Ole.

We've been trying to eat low carbthis month to take off a couple of pounds from the holidays.  I always forget how much better I feel off of carbs... maybe it's the gluten, as our daughter is very much gluten free feeling so much better when no one "slips her some gluten".  I think this recipe is a keeper for many people, whether low carb, gluten free or whatever.  It's exceedingly tasty.

One note, I have never eaten hot avocados, and I must say, they are exceedingly delicious like this.  I may have to think of some other ways to use them.

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
Cayenne or Chili Powder
1/2 cup enchilada sauce (or make some from my recipe here)
1 small avocado, thinly sliced
Cilantro Springs (optional)
Cheddar Cheese, thinly sliced or grated Mexican blend cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Season up the chicken breasts using as much, or as little spice as you like. Pan fry on both sides in a medium hot pan with some olive oil or non-stick spray.  Depending on the thickness of your chicken, it may take about 5 minutes per side.
They look pretty tasty like this too...
Top with a little enchilada sauce and some slices of avocado, springs of cilantro (optional) and some slices of cheese. Pop into the hot oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Don't leave it in there too long... all your cheese could melt off!



HEY!  I know you are all wondering what I did with that ginormous can of enchilada sauce?
Well, obviously I didn't use the whole thing, so I packaged it up into about 3 one cup containers, labeled it and put them in the freezer. Smart, no?  Remember not to fill the containers too much, as liquids expand when they freeze and the lids could pop off in the freezer.  As you can see, I filled these too full.  I spooned some out right after this picture.... 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Spinach & Goat Cheese Tilapia

What is all this bunk about not putting seafood with cheese? 
Well, HA, I'm breaking another rule. 
I love breaking rules... it really does something for me. 

Here's probably where the "rule" on pairing cheese and seafood came from. 
Seafood has delicate flavors, and Cheese is strong and over powers the fish. 
Well, that's easy, don't put Limberger on your fish. Duh.
Think of all the classic dishes that already DO pair seafood and cheese... lox & cream cheese, seafood quiche, Coquille St. Jacques (scallops in cheese sauce) and many, many more.

Tilapia and Goat Cheese are two things that people tell me that they don't like but they both happen to be some of my favorite ingredients.  Tilapia is so mild, I just can't see disliking something like that.  I love it.  Same with goat cheese, but I guess I can see that some people don't like the tang of goat cheese.
I put the two things together, that way those difficult dislikers of tilapia and goat cheese are never going to get beyond the title of the dish. Smart, huh?

Need some more ideas for Tilapia?  Here's a bunch more.

Serves 2

Olive oil or spray Pam
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, minced
1/2 10 oz bag of spinach, chopped
2-4 Tbsp goat cheese (I used about 4 Tbsp) 

2 tilapia filets, or other white fish
Olive oil or spray Pam
Salt & Pepper

Green onions for garnish, optional

Preheat oven/broiler.

Cut up the pepper and onion. Add to a medium hot fry pan with some more olive oil or non-stick spray.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until they get some color and start to soften.

Add some fresh spinach, but be sure to chop it up so it's not in big ol' pieces.

Add the spinach to the peppers and onions, and cook until wilted.  
Meanwhile, add the goat cheese to a bowl, and microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften it
Add the veggie mixture to a bowl with the goat cheese.  Stir until combined.

Salt and pepper both sides of the fish fillets.

In the same fry pan, over medium high heat with some olive oil or non-stick spray, cook the tilapia, browning it on both sides.  Cooking for about 5-7 minutes.  You don't need to cook it completely as you will finish this dish in the oven.

Top with the goat cheese mixture and add the pan to the hot oven.  Turn on the broiler and cook until the goat cheese veggie mixture is starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Serve at once.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Taco Huevos

Happy New Year!
I've decided to start the new year out right, and also do more "simple" posts.
This one involves leftovers... but, they are common leftovers that I think many of you will have on hand quite often.  It was pretty easy to make with the leftovers from last night's nachos.

This little idea is yummier than taco omelettes and certainly prettier than taco scrambled eggs.

Here's what you need for a big breakfast for two, or 4 small breakfasts

4 eggs
1 Tbsp butter (optional)
4 corn tortillas, about 6" round
1 cup taco meat, shredded pork or chicken
1/2 - 3/4 cup salsa (not too chunky)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour Cream
Sliced olives
Pickled sliced jalapeno slices
Green onions or cilantro

First, heat up the taco meat in the microwave while you are doing the other steps.  You want this nice and hot when you're ready for it.

Beat the eggs well, add a little salt and pepper, if desired.
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt some butter and add the eggs.  Stir constantly to get a fine texture and avoid big lumps of egg.  Turn off the heat when they are almost done, about 2-3 minutes.  They will continue to cook while you do the rest.

In another skillet over medium heat, add about 1-2 Tbsp of salsa

Add 1-2 corn tortilla's and cook 1-2 minutes a side to soften and add the salsa flavor.  Flip over.  Move tortillas to a plate with a spatula, repeat for the rest of the tortillas. 

Layer the hot taco meat on top of the tortillas.  Add the scrambled eggs.  Add cheese.  If needed, microwave the plate to melt the cheese (30-40 seconds).  Add the jalapenos, olives, extra salsa and sour cream.  Sprinkle with green onions, or cilantro.  Serve at once. 

Like "Mexican-esque" Breakfasts?  I do too...
Breakfast Migas
California Eggs Benedict
What's in the Fridge Frittata
Huevos Rancheros, Mexican Eggs and Tortillas