Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pasta with Lentils, Sausage and Tomatoes

A few weeks ago I had it with grocery shopping in the sense that I felt like I was buying food to just buy food. I would get home and not even know if I had bought stuff to make dinner for that week. So I decided like so many of you out there to do meal plans for the week.

I have to say so far so good because now when I go to the market I know what I need to get because I put it all on my shopping list. It also takes the question "what do I make for dinner tonight..." away which is nice. I am trying to make at least one new recipe a week which is cutting my list of recipes I want to try down a little bit.

Here is one recipe that is a keeper and one that is a great week night dinner.

Pasta with Lentils, Sausage and Tomatoes

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 19-ounce can lentil soup
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or parsley
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 ounces fusilli

1) Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

2) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up clumps with a fork, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add lentil soup and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil (or parsley) and season with salt and pepper.

3) Cook pasta until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with sauce and serve.

Review: I had this recipe on my list for a while now and decided to make it last week because it seemed easy and fast. That was the name of the game last week because I had a lot of prep work to do for the party. I did a couple of thinks different because it was what I had to work with...I used sweet Italian sausages because I couldn't find the hot ones and just added a pinch of red pepper flakes to the meat, I also used parsley instead of the basil because I already had that in the house, and I also used a different pasta again because that is what I had in the house. This is a keeper because the taste was good and it was fast to make. Mike thinks I should add more sausage to it next time but I think then it isn't as "healthy" as it was intended to be.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Party Favors

Yesterday we had William's birthday party which was so much fun and everything went according to plan. The food was great and the service we got was excellent...what more could you ask for.

I continued with my animal cracker/circus theme from the invitation into the favors I made for the party. I wanted to give everyone something homemade and yummy to eat. I knew immediately what I to make because it is circus type food and something I have made before...caramel popcorn.

I found the classic red and white strip popcorn bags at a party store which got me totally excited. Then I decided to make it more like cracker jacks with a prize inside and found fish whistles at the dollar store. It wasn't until we got to the restaurant that I realized it sort of went together (the party was at this great local seafood place) because I was thinking what do fish whistle have to do with the circus.

All packaged and ready to go.

Set up in front of each place setting

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homemade Granola

A couple of weeks ago I had a weak moment at my local BJ's and bought something I normally don't buy...granola. It looked so tasty and I was thinking it probably is a some what healthy treat. Well little did I know that the baby would be in LOVE with it. He just inhaled it like he would never get it again...and it even stopped him from crying a couple of times.

I made my own granola a long time ago and thought it was about time to make some again. I was pretty sure I used the Alton Brown recipe that is on the food network's website. Of course after I made I remembered where I have the recipe that I made the last night but not big deal.

Homemade Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Review: I have been wondering why sometimes granola is so expensive in the stores to buy. The recipe I made I tweaked with the ingredients I had in the house...the original one called for cashews as well and for maple syrup but I decided to use honey instead. One reason for the honey is because every time William eats some with maple syrup he smells like that for days. I can understand if you put everything under the sun and use really good ingredients why the cost is so high. I really like this recipe because it can be customized to your taste and what you have in the house...like most of them. I think once we are done with this batch I will have to try a different combination out.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

This has been on my list of Recipes I Want to Try for a while now. I have been trying to make some healthier meals and thought this one was a good one to try. I used to buy veggie burgers all the time in the past but I like the idea of making one myself. The other best part about this recipe is 99% of the time I have all the ingredients in the house.

Black Bean Burgers

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch

1/2 onion, cut into wedges

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 egg

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.

3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.

4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.

5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.

6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

Review: Like I said above this is a great recipe because I have all the ingredients in my house already. A great last minute meal if i can't think of anything else to make that night. The flavors of this "burger" are really great and totally addicting to me. We used the leftover avocado cilantro mayo as a condiment which was a great accompaniment. This recipe is a keeper!

If you go on allrecipes.com and read the reviews some people had the problem of them falling apart which I sort of did as well. Not sure if it needs more bread crumbs or maybe another egg to bind it together a little bit better. I did end up making them about 2 hours before I was going to bake them in the oven and had them in the refrigerator which probably helped a little bit. Honestly I would never think of cooking these on the grill because I can just see a mess happening. I would love to make these into like "meatballs" and bake them in the oven...serve them up falafel style.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Apple & Sage Pork Chops

I have been eying this McCormick Recipe Inspiration spice packets for a few weeks now. The idea of pre-measured spices just seems easy and fun to me. I acutally was going to the make something with pork chops and saw they had one for that. They were also on sale this week so it was just meant to be.

Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the final result because I did not eat it right away and before I knew it it was all gone.

Apple & Sage Pork Chops

1 tbsp Flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried Rubbed Sage
1 tsp dried minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp paprika
4 boneless pork chops, 1" thick (about 1 1/4 lbs)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 red apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tbsp brown sugar

1. Mix flour, all of the spices and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with 1 tablespoon of the seasoned flour.

2. Cook pork chops in hot oil in large skillet on medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Remove from skillet. Add onions; cook and stir 3 minutes or until tender. Add apples; cook and stir 2 minutes.

3. Stir in juice, sugar and remaining seasoned flour until well mixed. Return pork chops to skillet. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until desired doneness.

Review: I really enjoyed this dish and thought it was super yummy! It really did not take much time to make it which is always nice. I made a couple of little mistakes but nothing that really changed the recipe or results. I used bone in pork chops because that is what I had in the house already. I also used all the flour mixture on the pork chops instead of only 1 tablespoon because I misread the directions. I plan on making this again...it is a keeper.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Avocado-Cilantro Mayonnaise

I am on this quest to make my own Mexican style food lately. Not sure why but it could have something to do with the nice weather we have been having lately. I have made it one of my summer goals to find and perfect a recipe to make my own salsa. I came across Rick Bayless website (who is well known for his Mexican food) which has a bunch of different types of salsas to try.

I did try to make his recipe for Salsa Mexicana which was good but I think I need to try it again with really fresh ripe tomatoes from my garden. With the leftover cilantro I had I made this recipe I also find out his website for Avocado-Cilantro Mayonnaise.

Avocado-Cilantro Mayonnaise
Rick Bayless

1/2 cup top-quality mayonnaise
1 avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin
1/4 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro

In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, avocado and cilantro. Pulse until mayo and avocado are thoroughly combined. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/4 teaspoon.

Review: I am so in love with this mayo it isn't funny. It is another one of those easy to make recipes since it only has 3 ingredients on the list and you throw it all in the blender together. The taste reminded me little bit of guacamole and the color is just so pretty. It will be awesome on a sandwich...I have to go out and get some cold cuts now to try it out with. I also wonder if I could use plain yogurt instead of the mayo to make it a little bit healthier. This one is a keeper!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How a 1 Year Old Eats A Cupcake

I thought I would share with you the pictures I took of William eating his birthday cupcake. I knew he would love it but I had no idea how funny it would be to watch him eat it. I just picked out his cake for the family party...white cake with cannoli filling!

The beginning

The middle (and my favorite picture)

The End!

He did seem to have a little sugar high after he ate it but I am really not sure how much he actually ate. Since most if it was on his hands and face...oh and in his lap.


Related Posts with Thumbnails