Archive for the ‘Someone’s in the Kitchen’ Category
Tomorrow is a special day ’round these here parts. Once again, we get to enjoy the great booming voice of Big Tex as he thunders across Fair Park with his stiffly cheerful, “How-dy, Folks!” Once again, the Cotton Bowl becomes a prized destination as crowds, loyally dressed and decorated, flood its seating bowl to watch epic pigskin battles. Once again, the Texas Star spins slowly across the east Dallas skyline.
And once again, the smell of fried anything wafts through the air.
Now there are certain things that are required eatin’ for fairgoers. Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, for one. Never mind the long lines or the huge stack of tickets required to enjoy a glorified hot-dog-on-a-stick. You have not been to the fair until you’ve indulged in at least one. With mustard. Only. Trust me on this. Another must-have is a funnel cake. I realize these are a dime-a-dozen at most carnivals. But somehow, they just taste better here. Add a healthy dose of powdered sugar and you’re in fried-dough heaven.
Or you could be more adventurous and sample some of the winning fare from the Big Tex choice awards. This year’s finalists included Fried Sauerkraut, Deep Fried Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and Fried Autumn Pie. Because down here in the south, it’s a firm rule: EVERYTHING tastes better when it’s fried.
Thirsty? Try some Fried Coke or a Deep Fried Latte or even Fried BEER.
Need something the kids will eat? How’s about some Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese, or a Fried PB & J Sandwich?
Prefer the spicy side of life? Get yourself some Fried Salsa, or Fernie’s Fried Chili Frito Burrito, or even Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack – which, despite the absence of the word is, indeed fried.
Don’t want to mess with the classics, man? Then you ought to try some Fried Sweet Potato Pie or Fried Praline Perfection or Deep Fried Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy or Chicken Fried Bacon. There’s even some good ol’ Deep Fried Southern Hospitality which has your collard greens, pulled pork, and cornbread: it’s one-stop eatin’!
Need something a little more healthful? Then step right up for some Fried Canteloupe or El Bananarito (which, in case you hadn’t figured it out, is deep-fried banana).
Got a sweet tooth? Then you definitely need to get yourself a Heavenly Deep Fried Brownie, Fried Cheesecake or Fried Caramel Pecan Candy.
And when you’re all done, you can cleanse your palate walking around the Fair chewing on some Fried Bubblegum.
Most of the time, I’m a pretty good mom.Â That’s not to say I haven’t had moments of EPIC FAILURE in that department, but my kids will even admit – to perfect strangers, nonetheless – that as a mom, I’m certainly above the 50th percentile.
And then there are days like today, when I totally nail it…and stick the landing, to boot.Â Hit it out of the park.Â Serve up an ace.Â Out-kick my coverage.Â When it’s a slam dunk.Â When I *know* I rocked it.Â When I get to hear things like, “You’re the BEST MOM EVER!” and then get covered in slobbery smooches and treated to great big bear hugs and rib-crushing squeezes.
So what did I do to deserve these accolades?Â What great feat did I accomplish to deserve such raving reviews from my harshest critics?Â What amazing achievement provided this ego-inflating boost and hoisted me to this grand pedestal?
Well, if you’ll allow me a little chest-thumping and swagger-stepping, I’ll show you.Â It’s this:
Yeah, that’s my beautiful, sweet, spirited, precious, amazing daughter.Â I’m always proud of THAT accomplishment, believe me.Â But really, this time it’s not so much about her but rather what she’s holding.Â She is holding her homework project for this week, which she and I spent most of a rainy Saturday and a sunny Sunday afternoon putting together.
It’s her very own Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.Â I don’t know what makes me prouder: the fact that she made a cookbook, or that it’s all about CHOCOLATE!!
She came home on Monday with a project list based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of the projects was to create a Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.Â I had just finished making a prayer journal at the Christ Fellowship Women’s Retreat (thanks to the creative and uber-organized Renee Lewis) and thought this would be the perfect way to create something very special for Crisana.Â Something that went beyond “just” a homework project, but something that would become a treasured keepsake, something she could enjoy and add to throughout the years, something I could hold on to and give to her as a housewarming gift in her first apartment…or as a gift for her wedding.
I actually purchased the papers and ribbons, but bought a little extra to give her some creative choices.Â She did a great job helping me cut all the papers, run the letters through the Xyron, adhere the cover and binding, and put all the recipes inside.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the miracle “YES” glue that Renee had recommended, so we ended up using plain old Elmer’s white glue.Â And that made the paper wrinkly.Â But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Crisana thought this was a masterpiece.Â And she absolutely had a blast spreading the white glue with her fingers all over the cover of the composition book.
Inside the front cover, I had every intention of making a Table of Contents or a dedication page explaining when and why this book was created.Â Unfortunately, I ran out of time for this assignment, but when we get the book back, I will be sure to add that inside.Â I want her to always remember the love I spoke to her through every step of this project, and how much I enjoyed the time we spent together making it.
We collected recipes online through email and Facebook, as well as the old-fashioned way, culling through our many cookbooks.Â But I wanted to be sure to include special recipes that our family has enjoyed and that have meaning to her.Â She was so excited to see that we had included Trey’s specialty – these Gobbler Goodies – and the Chocolate Pretzel Rings she helps me make every Christmas.Â She spoke over and over how one day she will tell her children about these recipes and show them what their Uncle Trey looked like when he was a child.
Of course, we were sure to include a bookmark, as well as several recipes from Mom, the Original Chocolate Lover.Â Every recipe is a testimony to the love I have for all things chocolate (except chocolate cake…go figure) but also the love I have for this little girl, who surpasses the sweetness of chocolate, who makes my life far richer than any decadent chocolate dessert, and who fills my heart with far more joy than any candy bar ever could.
Yesterday was our neighborhood’s National Night Out and as we always do, we hosted a friendly competition for the food.Â Neighbors bring finger food in various categories and we do a secret ballot to determine the winners in each.Â This year, the kids decided to outdo the parents!
Crisana settled on Black Cat Cupcakes.Â She helped with every step, mixing the batter, baking the cupcakes, and setting them out to cool.Â Even though Mom helped a bit with the frosting and decorating, Crisana was actively involved in the entire process.Â And just look at how cute they came out:
Not to be outdone, Trey made his own special festive treats.Â We first made these Gobbler Goodies 2 years ago for a pack campout, and we’ve ended up making them every year since.Â Each time, he’s taken more and more ownership of the process and can probably make them on his own next year.Â This was probably our best batch ever:
My scale and I are not speaking to each other.
I know, I know.Â It’s my fault.Â Mr. Scale is just being honest.Â But that doesn’t mean I have to *LIKE* his honesty, or his blatant in-your-face attitude.Â I mean, really…whatever happened to a thing called GRACE, huh?Â How about cutting a girl a little slack, here, Mr. You-Really-Wanna-Know-What-That-Sonic-Shake-Cost-You?!?
So until he quits with the attitude – or I get my act together and stop fooling myself into believing that a chocolate chip cookie from McDonald’s is part of a low-carb lifestyle – I’m no longer speaking to him.Â I’m hopeful we can resolve our differences peacefully and that he won’t end up curbside in the Blue Cart of Doom.
Since I don’t have any weight loss to report, thanks to Mr. You-Ate-More-M&M’s-Than-You-Thought, I’m going to share with you this recipe which I made for breakfast this morning.Â It was a bit time consuming, as it only makes one at a time.Â I had to make Matt’s first, and then once he was off to work and the kids were off to school I made mine.Â It was easy and simple, but oh-so-good.Â And Mr. No-That-Birthday-Cake-Is-Not-Low-Carb should be impressed.
EGG PANCAKE (original recipe from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Low-Carb Cooking, but I tweaked it some)
1 T butter (I used Smart Balance)
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter over medium-low heat in a 10″ skillet.Â Beat eggs, adding salt and pepper to taste.Â Pour eggs into skillet and cook without stirring until set on top.Â Using a spatula, slide egg pancake onto serving plate.
In a separate skillet, I sauteed 1/4 C diced green peppers, diced onion, and sliced mushrooms in 1 T Smart Balance butter (you could use olive oil as well).Â I put the veggies on top of the egg pancake and sprinkled a small amount (less than 1/4 C) of low-fat mild cheddar cheese over all of it.
It’s man-approved, too, as Matt gave it a big thumbs-up.Â Serve with a glass of tomato juice or V-8 and you have a perfect low-carb, South Beach-friendly breakfast that’s easy to whip up.Â You can use whatever veggies, meats, and cheeses you have on hand and make your own flavorful combinations:
zucchini, red bell pepper, and basil
cilantro, black beans, salsa, and cheddar
spinach, mushroom, and mozzarella
feta, olives, and diced tomatoes
bacon, avocado, and a dollop of sour cream
ham, shredded swiss cheese, and asparagus with sprinkles of thyme and rosemary
Oh, and one other thing.Â You can even roll up the pancake with the veggies inside for an on-the-go breakfast burrito!
Happy breakfast, everyone!
Yep, it’s officially springtime in Texas.Â The signs are undeniable: it’s light until nearly 8 P.M.Â Daytime temps are consistently above 70.Â The lawns are greening up. The pear trees are blooming.Â Everything and everyone is covered in a nice hazy shade of pollen.Â I even saw my first bluebonnets of the season in the median beside Central Expressway.
That can only mean one thing: it’s time for the annual OTGAT Spring Fling!
We do this get-together once a quarter.Â Unfortunately, last spring due to scheduling conflicts and my husband having cancer and my mind being way too preoccupied, we weren’t able to have The Fling.Â And because I was traveling over the Christmas holidays I missed the Christmas Tea.Â So it had been nearly six months since I had seen these beloved friends, and two years since they had convened at my humble abode.
Therefore, this Fling had to be special.Â The food had to be excellent.Â The atmosphere had to be relaxing and comfortable. The decor had to be light and simple.
May I say, I rocked it.Â You knew I would.
Now, I’m no Martha Stewart.Â My table settings would never make it into a spread in Southern Living.Â But I put together a menu that was downright fantastic, and all the pieces fell into place to make this one of the most enjoyable Saturday afternoons I’ve spent in a long time.
For several years, we taught together.Â But over the past decade, life has taken us in many different directions.Â Now some of us are retired.Â Some are facing retirement.Â Some have come out of retirement to work in a different environment.Â We’ve celebrated weddings and births and new houses and grandchildren together.Â We’ve shared tears as we’ve lost loved ones.Â We’ve ooh’ed and aah’ed over pictures of trips and shared stories of adventures and the journeys we’ve taken.Â We’ve laughed and commiserated over life’s ups and downs and the humor that each day holds.
And we left – after several hours – eagerly anticipating the next time we’ll all be together: at the Summer Cooler!
and for those interested, here are the recipes I used, all taken from the Taste of Home Celebrations Cookbook.
Well, it’s either that or “bad things happen in threes.”Â But since I’m a positive person, I’d rather look on the bright side.Â Whatever cliche’ you use, the results are the same: the miracle of multiplying food at Taco Bueno has struck again.Â For the third time.
As has become custom for me on Wednesdays, I was headed through the drive-thru to pick up lunch in between piano students.Â I already had a drink, and I was low on cash, so my order was simple.Â ONE item.Â My favorite: a vegetarian black-bean burrito.Â I ordered, was told my total, gathered my cash, and proceeded to the window to pay and receive my order.
And somewhere in between, a blessed miracle occurred.
For you see, when I opened the bag after driving away from the window, I noticed not ONE wrapped food item, not TWO wrapped food items, but FIVE.Â It was obvious, even though they were wrapped, that at least one was burrito-shaped.Â Some were taco-shaped.Â Some were even quesadilla-shaped.Â None were vegetarian black-bean burrito shaped.
I’ll be honest:Â I was tempted.Â Tempted to take the food and run.Â Tempted to be grateful for being the recipient of another divine blessing over my Taco Bueno order.Â But when I discovered that there were no vegetarian black-bean burritos…and remembering the last time when I had been cheated out of my cheesecake chimis…well, I knew there would be no rejoicing in this meal.
So I turned the car around and headed back through the drive-thru.Â I rolled down my window and in my sweetest southern drawl informed the attendant that I had not, in fact, received MY order.Â Sheepishly, he admitted, “You ordered the vegetarian black-bean burrito.Â I think you got a #5.”Â And in a flash, my miracle order was reduced to one vegetarian black-bean burrito in a little plastic bag.
And I was happy.Â Â Not as happy as I would have been if they’d thrown in a free mixed berry cheesecake chimi, but happy nonetheless.
Okay, this is hands-down one of the greatest meals I’ve had since we started South Beach.Â Totally yum-o.Â For Phase 1, leave off the buns…though that is truly one of the things that made this such a great meal.Â For Phase 2, we used sugar-free Nature’s Own Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns, and though it certainly wasn’t as good as, say, Mrs. Baird’s totally white and fluffy jumbo seeded sandwich buns, it was definitely respectable.Â And with a hearty thumbs-up from both kids, it’s a double winner in my book.
TURKEY SLOPPY JOES
1 lb. ground turkey breast
1/4 C chopped onion
1/2 C no-salt-added ketchup
3 T barbecue sauce
1 T prepared mustard
1 T vinegar
1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t celery seed
1/4 t pepper
6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
In a nonstick skillet, cook the turkey and onion for 5 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink.Â Ad the next seven ingredients; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.Â Serve on buns.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional analysis: 236 calories, 365 mg sodium, 37 mg cholesterol, 29 gm carbohydrate, 23 gm protein, 3 gm fat
Serve with a side salad and you’ve got a great and easy summer supper!
For some strange reason, I enjoy fish for dinner in the summertime.Â Yes, I really said that.Â Don’t be too concerned, however, since I still don’t like lobster and you’ll never catch me smashing a crawfish out of its shell.Â But whatever the reason, I have found that I enjoy a light summer supper of fish and veggies.Â I guess it makes me dream of the beach, and those cool ocean breezes.
So here’s a great supper recipe that uses lots of fresh veggies to make an easy supper that takes only a few moments to whip together.Â And in our family it’s gotten the kid seal of approval as well, so it’s a sure winner!
FISH AND VEGGIES PRIMAVERA
Recipe from Taste of Home Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 1999
1 T margarine or butter, melted (I use SmartBalance sticks)
4 fresh or frozen fish fillets (I use tilapia, but you can substitute orange roughy, cod, or haddock)
2 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 C broccoli florets
1 C cauliflowerets
1 C julienned carrots
1 C sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 C sliced celery
1/4 t dried basil
1/4 t salt
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
Place margarine in a 13″x9″x2″ baking dish; add fish and turn to coat.Â Sprinkle with lemon juice and pepper.Â Bake, uncovered, at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, saute garlic in oil.Â Add the remaining veggies and seasonings; stir-fry until veggies are crisp-tender, about 2-3 minutes.Â Spoon over the fish; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 450 degrees for 3-5 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional analysis: 232 calories, 434 gm sodium, 39 mg cholesterol, 7 gm carbohydrate, 29 gm protein, 10 gm fat
Side Note: I have used a 12-16 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower/broccoli cuts in place of the fresh when I am in a pinch.Â Just saute’ a little longer to be sure the frozen veggies thaw completely and cook up a little before baking.
This is a great summer recipe as it is chock-full of summertime vegetables.Â We ate it for breakfast, but it could easily be a light summer supper as well.Â We found this to be incredibly filling – so you may want to adjust on the smaller side.Â With the corn, this would be a good Phase 2 recipe, but on Phase 1 you’d need to leave the corn out.
DELUXE SCRAMBLED EGGS
Recipe from Taste of Home Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 1999
1/2 C each chopped green onions, zucchini, green pepper, and sweet red pepper
1 T vegetable oil (I used olive oil instead)
1 C fresh or frozen corn (I used canned corn)
1/2 to 3/4 t salt
1/2 t dill weed
8 eggs, beaten
1 C (4 oz.) shredded sharp low-fat cheddar cheese
pepper to taste
In a large skillet, saute onions, zucchini and peppers in oilÂ until tender, about 5 minutes.Â Add corn, salt and dill; mix well.Â Add eggs; sprinkle with cheese.Â Cook and stir gently until eggs are completely set.Â Sprinkle with pepper.
Yield: 4 servings
One of the things about being on South Beach for so long is that I’ve noticed a definite shift in my tastes.Â Things that I would never have eaten before (like salmon, for instance), I am eating regularly and enjoying.Â And although I’m not nearly as daring as some, I have branched out of my comfort zone and am trying recipes with new flavor combinations.Â This recipe is one of those.Â I’ve had it for a long time but never tried it because, frankly, I thought “ewww.”Â But when I made it recently, my reaction was more like “yum.”Â Both Matt and I really enjoyed it and I believe it will become a favorite for its yummy flavor, healthful goodness, and ease of preparation.
AVOCADO SCRAMBLED EGGS
Recipe from Taste of Home Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 1999
1/2 C milk
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
2 T butter or margarine (I use SmartBalance spread or sticks)
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (I use turkey bacon)
In a bowl, beat eggs.Â Add milk, salt, and pepper; stir in avocado.Â In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.Â Add egg mixture; cook and stir gently until eggs are completely set.Â Sprinkle with bacon.
Yields: 6 servings
(I adjusted the amount of the ingredients to make only 2 servings.)