Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer In Your Mouth

That's right I said summer in your mouth. That is seriously the best way for me to describe this super simple healthful salad. The sweet burst of the grape tomatoes, the crispness of the cucumbers and the peppery bite of the radish is all of the greatness of a summer salad without wasting any tummy space on lettuce! An added bonus is that it won't wilt in the sun. You bring along your healthy option on a picnic and you can be assured that it will keep fresh!

Oh, and the Princess and I love to mix it in with a couple spoonfuls of cottage cheese! I seriously would eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Super Summer Salad
serves 4

1 English Cucumber or 2 baby cucumbers
1 c grape tomatoes
8 Radishes

1 Tbl Grapeseed Oil
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced then crushed

Mix together all of the dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop the cucumbers and radishes, set in a bowl. Add the tomatoes. Drizzle the dressing on top and mix. 

You will be very happy that you made a healthy choice today!



Monday, May 30, 2011

As American as Apple Pie...or Rhubard Strawberry Pie

Have you been out this week? It’s red, white and blue everywhere you go. To me Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have served our country, creating the history we have and making it the nation that it is today. America. And since this is a food blog, well then we will celebrate with food! I really think that the only suitable desserts for Memorial Day are…S’mores and Pie! Now that’s American! I know you’re thinking apple pie, right? Well, I will wait until late summer when apples are in season here to make apple pie. So let’s do strawberries…they are ripe for the pickn’ and the rhubarb is lookn’ good too. Both of them are screaming “Spring” and “America” to me! The tartness of the rhubarb, the sweetness of the berries, the brightness of the orange zest, all married and nestled into the savory flaky crust…oh ya…am I making your mouth salivate yet?

I am not lucky enough to have a garden this year…other than a few herbs. But you will see me at the Farmer’s Market every weekend to bring home the freshest picks! Thankfully I was able to find some rhubarb there this weekend and there is a local strawberry patch where the kids and I enjoy picking the berries.

I do a lattice crust on most of my fruit pies and maybe some day I’ll give instructions on how to do it when I have an extra set of hands for taking the pictures. My mom taught me how to make pie when I was 6 or 7 and when 7, I entered my first pie contest and won first prize! Anyway…years later…here’s a pie that will put a smile on your face!

Country Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

5 c chopped rhubarb, I peel the larger stalks
2 cups quartered strawberries
1 ¼ c sugar
¼ c corn starch
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbl lemon juice
2 pie crusts (a top and a bottom), you can make your favorite or purchase one or use my current favorite crust http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/12/p-p-p-pie_crust_and_its_p-p-p-perfect/

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all the ingredients together. Set aside while you prepare the crust. Pour into the bottom crust. Top with the 2nd crust.
Egg Wash
1 Tbl milk
1 large egg yolk
2 – 4 Tbl sugar

Beat the milk and egg yolk well. Brush on the top of the pie crust. Sprinkle with the sugar.  Take a piece of foil a little larger than the pie and loosely fold the foil and set on top of the pie. Bake for 45 min, take the foil off and bake for another 45 min.

You will not be disappointed in this pie! 

And for the s'mores...well this really shouldn't be your first time trying them because they are a classic! A family evening favorite of ours is to get the fire pit going and sit around it to just relax. We love the simple but quality time together. And if we’re lucky, Superman will let us make s’mores!

One thing I do have to say about s'mores...the marshmallows MUST be roasted over a fire. Not any of this microwave business. 

So get your graham cracker out. Break one in half. Smear one half with peanut butter and set your chocolate section on top of the PB and set aside. For a perfectly golden roasted s'more, hold your marshmallow on a stick just a few inches away from the fire, NOT touching the flame. Slowly rotate the marshmallow until it puffs and is golden brown. Set it on top of your chocolate and set into place the remaining Graham cracker. Gently push down and watch the gooey melted mallow ooze! Let it hang out for a minute so the chocolate can melt a tad. Finally...take a bite and lick yo lips! 

Today as I observe Memorial Day, I thank those who are serving and who have served this country. I am grateful! 


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Semi-homemade Hamburger Buns

OK! Stop calling me and messaging me about my BUNS! Just kidding, you can always call or message me. But ask no more! These are the perfect buns to go with your hamburgers or BBQ sandwiches this weekend.

When it comes to hamburger buns, I'll admit that I cheat. There are just 4 of us and even though Superman can usually knock out 2 burgers or BBQ sandwiches at a time that still leaves us with leftover buns. I could go through all the trouble of making them homemade, but I’m not there yet. So instead I buy a big bag of frozen dinner rolls and take out how many I need for that one meal. Then we have FRESH baked buns, no leftover unwanted bread and we always have it on hand!

Semi-homemade Hamburger Buns

any number of frozen dinner rolls (I use Rhodes, there’s 36 in a bag)
2 Tbls butter, melted (this is the amount I use for 6 buns)
Seasame seeds
Garlic powder
Dried minced onion

Place desired number of frozen rolls on the lightly greased or buttered pie plate. I wouldn't put more than 6 or 7 on one pan though, they really grow. Cover with a clean dish towel and let them hang out in a warm place for 5 hours.  

Preheat the oven to 350. Brush the tops of the rolls with the butter and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, garlic powder and minced onion. Bake for about 20 minutes. 

I didn't use sesame seeds this time...but we usually do!

Don't they look Yummy!

You can make 2 or you can 20! It’s perfect! And they are tasty! You can top them with whatever you like! So easy!


It's Grillin' Time and National Burger Day

I'm not kidding...it really is National Burger Day! And I am more than happy to celebrate! After all, I was born into a well known cattle ranching family in Nebraska! Beef...it's what's for lunch today!

There are endless ways to make delicious burgers. Here's an easy one that you can't go wrong with. Plus with memorial weekend here...it's time to fire up that grill!

 Super Easy Burgers

1lb ground beef (I used 93/7, a lot of people insist that you need more fat...mine are always juicy)
½ packet dried onion soup (I use Lipton)
1 c cheddar cheese

Fire up the grill on high and let it get good and hot. Mix all three ingredients together. Form into equal patties. I measure out 3 oz patties. And they fit perfectly on my Semi-homemade Hamburger Buns. Place them on the HOT grill. Turn the grill down to med-low and close the lid. Hang tight…don’t go too far, they’ll be done in a few minutes. Close the lid and cook for about 4 – 5 minutes then flip them. Cook them for another 4 – 5 minutes with the lid closed. Depending on how you like them, you can adjust the time. I like mine nice and juicy but cooked all the way through.

This time I opted for jalapenos, salsa  and guacamole. Put your favorite toppings on and savor each bite! 

Happy Burger Day!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Carnitas...Midwest Style

Last weekend my local farmer’s market inspired my salsa (a post to come). In the middle of making the salsa inspired these carnitas. One of my favorite places to visit is Arizona.Two of my favorite people in the whole world live there. When we visit we do a lot of running around and a lot of food tasting! You can imagine the amazing Mexican food that we've had so close to Mexico. I think my favorite is the tamales. I haven’t given the tamales a try, I’m actually kind of intimidated. But I think that I’ve been able to replicate the carnitas pretty well...with maybe a midwest twist (the cheese)! One important key to the carnitas is the corn tortillas. You see a lot of flour tortillas for tacos around here, but they only use the corn soft shell tortillas. I really like the texture and the flavor better. I've seen them make the meat on the grill…but I put it in my slow cooker. Afterall, I have two very busy kids to keep up with and I needed the meat to sit and chill somewhere that I didn’t have keep an eye on it. And I am so glad that I did. The meat was so tasty and tender and happy!

Carnitas (Slow Roasted Pork Tacos)

For the meat

2-3 lbs pork roast, pork shoulder, pork butt…whatever
½ small red onion, thinly sliced then chopped (you won’t even know it’s in the meat)
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground mustard
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbl brown sugar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbl chili pepper
1 tsp cumin

Pull out the slow cooker and set it on high (or low if you have all day). Lay the red onion on the bottom. Set the pork roast on top of the onion. Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the meat. Put a lid on it a let it hang out for 5 or 6 hours. If the meat doesn’t fall apart when you put a fork to it then you need to give it another hour or so. When it’s done take it out of the slow cooker and set it on a cutting board and let it hang out for about 20 minutes. Shred the meat with a fork. Put the meat in a dish and ladle a spoonful or two of the juice from the meat to it. 

For the Carnitas

Corn Tortillas (the soft ones)
Lettuce (we used a romaine and cilantro mix)
Cheese (we use Monetary Jack or the Mexican mix)
Salsa (homemade preferably, recipe to come soon!)
Guacamole (homemade preferably, also to come soon!)
Sour Cream
To assemble the tacos heat the corn tortillas on a hot skillet or like me, directly on the clean burner, about a minute on both sides. And fill’er up! Use the toppings I suggest Or whatever you like!

Enjoy! I love you and miss you AD and UF...hope to see you soon! Go get a good tamale with lots of guac for me!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Double Lemon Cake Balls

You know those little cake balls that are all the rage now? Well, I'm joining in on all the fun! I don't know where to give due credit to for these delectable little bites! I've seen them for a while now and I see them everywhere! I'm going to be completely honest with you, I had never had one nor had I ever made them. Yep, it's true! Being very careful about what we put in our bodies, I didn't want these little treats sitting around our kitchen! I knew I wanted to make them though and needed a place to share them! This week I had the perfect opportunity, when my little warrior had his preschool end of the year program. The warrior boy and Superman were insistent on my famous Chocolate Chip cookies (the all time favorite in our home), but I needed to try something new. These lemony refreshing treats were calling my name. It is spring, and lemon treats are definitely a spring must!

Basically pick any cake mix and frosting and go! Lemon had been on my mind, so that's the cake I chose and even more lemon sounded amazing, so that's also the frosting I picked. I heard you can dip them in candy melt things or almond bark, but I never use that stuff. I've dipped a lot of goodies in my time and I always use good old fashion chocolate. In this case Ghirardelli white chocolate and ran out so I finished with Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate.  Wish you were there don't you!

Double Lemon Cake Balls

1 box Lemon Cake mix (I used Duncan Hines) plus the ingredients to make the cake, eggs, oil, water.
1 can lemon frosting (I used Duncan Hines)
1 lb good chocolate
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Follow the directions on the cake mix. Bake and cool the cake. Then crumble the whole thing up. I just took a fork to it. Add the frosting I did the whole thing, I don't really know if you're suppose to or not, but it seemed to work for me. If you think it's getting too moist stop adding frosting. Mix it together very well. Next time I'll add the zest of a lemon.

Next I used a cookie scoop to make little balls and placed them on a cookie sheet to go in the freezer for 15 minutes.

During the last 5 minutes of freezer time, I prepared the chocolate for dipping. Take 1lb of chocolate, cut into pieces or use chocolate chips. Pour in a microwavable bowl with the vegetable oil. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir then microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. If the pieces don't melt all the way when you stir, then repeat the process in 15 second intervals.

Line a cake pan or cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Take half the balls out of the freezer and dip in the chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off. I used 2 spoons to do the dipping, do what works best for you. Place the dipped balls on a the lined cookie sheet and allow the chocolate to set. Repeat with the second set of balls. If the chocolate seems to get thick, scrape the sides of the bowl and microwave the chocolate for 15 - 30 seconds. Repeat as often as necessary. I only had to do this once.

Mine made 45 cake balls. Store in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Moment In Time

Today was one of those sweet days...you know the kind when you think about the events of the day and the last several months and then you hold those captured moments in your mind and you can't help but sigh and grin!
Today was little Warrior's preschool graduation/end of the year program. His class didn't really "graduate" from preschool, they were all 3 when they started last fall and will have a second year of preschool this fall before starting Kindergarten. But it was definitely a milestone in his little life. We love his school. It is an amazing private school and we plan on him and his princess sister continuing their education there. We love his school and we LOVE his teachers and we love the family atmosphere of the entire organization. Anyway, I am just amazed at all of his progress through the last 9 months. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually!  The passion he has for life is aspiring! I am so proud of the young guy he is! And even better, he is proud of himself too!

They sang the sweetest songs!
His Preschool Teachers, whom we love dearly. Unfortunately one is moving out of state, she made my son feel welcomed and loved at school every day and will be greatly missed. 

I love this guy more than words can express and am so thankful to be his mama.


Monday, May 23, 2011

My Very Merry Blueberry Muffins

This is my favorite food on the planet. And there is no better place for me to start than my greatest weakness...muffins. Oh my how I love muffins. Banana, apple, even raisin bran. It doesn’t matter what kind, I love muffins. But THESE are my ultimate favorite! They are moist, soft, spongy, bursting with blueberry sweetness. And to top it off, a delicious crunchy crumb topping.

I don’t know about you, but I do not NEED a dozen wonderful muffins sitting around my kitchen. So a while back I perfected my blueberry muffin recipe and cut it so it only makes six! One for Superman, one for the Warrior boy, one for the Princess girl and three for me!

Oh ya, I guess I need to share one more detail about my family with you. We are very healthy eaters. VERY healthy. In fact I don’t know anyone else who eats as whole as we do. But I still love my food and fabulous recipes. And I love making people smile with my food. So, this is a special occasion food and it is in no way healthy! And I love it! So, please don’t try to suggest to me how I can make this healthier. Cause I don’t wanna. That’s why I’m only making six of them, okay? Oh wait, I use fresh blueberries amongst all the butter and flour and sugar. And blueberries are REALLY healthy, so there!

My Very Merry Blueberry Muffins
(makes 6)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1/3 c milk
2 Tb oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup butter, melted
Handful of chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Spray or grease 6 muffin tin wells (I don’t know the “correct” terminology, but you know what I mean). In a med bowl mix all the dry ingredients (first 4 items). In a small bowl or measuring cup beat egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just a couple of times, parts of it will still look dry. Now add the blueberries.  I use a full cup, you may think it’s too much, I don’t! Divide equally into the 6 muffin wells. I use a large ice cream scoop and they come out perfectly equal every time. 

Now for the crumb topping mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter, mix well. Add in walnuts if you choose. Spoon over the muffins. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. 

While they are hot, if you dare, cut in half and smear with butter. OH MY! Enjoy!

Look at all those amazing blueberries!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Things to come...

Here are some of the things I have been working on that I cant wait to share with you! I had to do a little teaser because I don't have time for a regular post today! Be excited! Be very excited!




Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Very Best Chocolate Cake

For my birthday week (yes, I said "week". I am spoiled like that), I choose to make the most amazing chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had! They were moist, very chocolaty and rich. They are so good that the day after I made them I had to start giving them away to friends so that I wouldn't eat every single cupcake! Had I known that Superman planned a surprise get-together with our closest friends for my birthday, maybe I would have kept some around! Thanks Superman for the party! And for the DQ Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard Ice Cream Cake!

Anyway, I had an idea for a recipe for the cake and had decided that it must have a white chocolate cream cheese frosting for the top but I wanted it to have more…certainly NOT because it needed it though. Then I remembered that I have this amazing 4 berry jam that my sweet friend Rebecca had canned. That was going inside! I also did another version of the same chocolate cake but with peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache on top…but you will have to wait for that post. So, for today…

The Very Best Chocolate Cake

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. In large bowl with an electric mixer cream butter for about a minute or until smooth and kinda fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix for another minute. Continue to mix and add oil, milk, and sour cream and pudding mix. Now the eggs, one at at time, mixing very well with each addition.
In another mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Now slowly add it to the wet mixture.  Mix for a good 2 minutes then fold in the mini chocolate chips.

I usually make cupcakes (makes 36) but I suppose you could make a couple 9” cakes or a 9X13 cake. Grease or spray the muffin tins. I use an ice cream scoop to measure the batter for the muffin tins and they come out perfect.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes for cupcakes.  Or until the toothpick comes out clean. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN BEFORE 25 MINUTES!
Let them cool completely.

For the filling I just took a paring knife and cut a small cone shape out of each cupcake and filled it with a tablespoon of my friend Rebecca’s 4 berry Jam. You can use any strawberry or raspberry jam.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

3 ounces of white chocolate
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbl heavy cream

In a small microwaveable bowl, melt chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. You shouldn’t need to exceed 1 min but if you need I definitely wouldn’t go longer than 1 min 30 seconds. Stir until smooth and then set aside to cool.

In a bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in the white chocolate, heavy cream and vanilla. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is fluffy and creamy.

Spread or pipe over the cupcakes.

Eat one right away and then give the rest to people you love, so that you won’t eat the whole batch! 

PS. Sorry, I warned you about the pictures...I know they are not the best!