August 31, 2010

Chex Giveaway

About a year ago I was training a new nurse and I found out that she had Celiac Disease. Now, I love bread and knew that that disease would be so hard for me. But then I found out so many things contain gluten - it is everywhere (even soy sauce!). Then a friend of mine's 11 year old daughter was diagnosed. She was having a hard time because she felt she was restricted from so many things. One of her favorite dishes was cold cereal. Well, I found out Chex is gluten free (except the wheat of course)! Lucky for her, she can still have one of my favorite treats - Muddy Buddies! (They also have lots of other gluten free recipes)

Muddy Buddies
recipe courtesy of
9 c Rice Chex®, Corn Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Tip: Freeze your Muddy Buddies - you will never go back! The only downside is you do have to wait at least 15 more minutes to taste these frozen goodies.

You are in luck! Chex is giving away a this prize pack:

Want to win the prize? Leave a comment telling me what your favorite Chex Treat is before Friday, September 4th at midnight MST.
For extra entries (leave a comment for each extra entry):
1. Tweet, blog, and/or facebook about this giveaway
2. Add my button to your sidebar

Sorry this giveaway is now closed. To see the winner click here.

August 30, 2010

Hiding Vegetables

Can you tell we eat a lot of pasta in our house?
When my husband and I were first married, I told AC that I was too tired and was just going to make Spaghetti. In my house growing up that was my mom's easy meal - pasta, jarred sauce, and steam some veggies (or a salad). Well AC was so excited that I made spaghetti and just raved about. I never knew that it could have such praise. Silly really. (He is nicknamed the "Carb King.")
Well, I decided to try out this recipe mostly because I was too lazy to make a salad but thought we need a bit more veggies than just the sauce.

I have a confession, I am on vacation so these pictures are straight out of the camera without any editing... so... sorry.

Vegetable Marinara
1 large carrot
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried italian seasoning
pinch sugar
salt and pepper
2-15 oz cans of pettite diced tomatoes
2 cups spinach

Grate your carrot and onion (use the food processor to make it easier). Put in a large frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute until almost soft, add garlic cloves. Add tomato paste, seasoning, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. When combined and fragrant add tomatoes and spinach. When spinach is wilted add to cooked spaghetti and top with parmessan cheese.

If you are trying to hide the veggies for kids, chop the spinach up into smaller pieces (remember it will wilt a little so you don't have to be too tiny).

If you don't have a grater attachment on your food processor or dont' want to take the time, just buy preshredded (use about 1/4 - 1/2 cup).

Add any other veggies you want to hide. Some that might work:
  - broccoli - put through your shredder and add with carrots
  - peas - puree and add with tomatoes (might make a funky color)
  - mushrooms - slice and add with garlic
  - bell pepper - chop small and add with onions
  - olives - add just before serving

August 27, 2010

The Anniversary Gift

So last week I mentioned I had a great gift for my husband. Well, it has to do with the song I sang him for our wedding, "I Will" by the Beatles.
My friend Alma is an amazing graphic designer (not like the graphic designer where someone designs a blog and then calls themselves an graphic designer - she is a true artist!). She had this print I immediately knew I had to give to AC. It has the words from the song I sang to AC at our wedding luncheon. See how great it turned out! It is appropriately hanging above our loveseat. (I took a picture of it before I let AC see it - hence being on the floor). I have to say it was a huge hit - he loved it. In return I got an amazing gift. AC wrote and recorded a song for me. It is the best!

Check out Alma's website and her husband's to see what amazing artists they are!

August 25, 2010

Anniversary Dessert

So I have been on a no-dessert diet for a few weeks now. I allow myself a little taste once a week. I knew I was going to want something decadent for our anniversary so I saved up for two weeks. My sister suggested I make Marta's "Melt in Your Mouth Mini's" They are really good. Although, I might double the chocolate next time to make it extra rich! (I have to splurge once in a while.) But as usual, Marta did not disappoint. Simple and a quick bake. Just how I like it.

Plus they are fun, these perfect innocent looking cakes then take a bite and it is chocolate lava heaven all over your plate. Just don't tell anyone I might have licked my plate.

August 23, 2010

Simplified Eggs Benedict

I was going to make a delicious breakfast Saturday morning before we had our anniversary celebration. Well, it didn't happen. Our church had a softball tournament Saturday morning starting at 8:30, Lou didn't wake up until 7:45... so we had cereal. We'd save it for Sunday. Well, Sunday we were invited to breakfast with some friends and the breakfast was bumped again.

So this became the first-day-of-school meal. Yes, AC had his first day of Law School this morning. He needed some protein to get his mind going and off his stomach. (Eggs are brain food, did you know?) So I made my version of Eggs Benedict. The sauce is not that similar to a hollandaise sauce except for in texture, and slightly in color. But I don't use eggs and there is much less butter (So that makes it healthy right?). It is much easier to make. My roommate actually taught me how to make this sauce, she called it her egg gravy. By the way, she hates mustard but still uses it in this, so the taste is not strong at all for all you mustard-haters.

Simplified Eggs Benedict
egg gravy, see below
4 eggs
4 slices of Canadian bacon, heated up in small frying pan
2 English muffins, cut in half and toasted

Faux-Hollandaise aka Egg Gravy
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp yellow mustard
1 1/2 c milk
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat in saucepan. Add flour and stir with wooden spoon until slightly golden in color. Add mustard and a little salt and pepper. Slowly add the milk, a few tablespoons at a time until well incorporated. Once all milk is in, bring to a soft boil until the thickness is to your liking. If it gets too thick you can add more milk.
Poach eggs and toast just before ready to eat. To poach eggs bring water to a soft boil, turn heat to low. Drop eggs in gently and let simmer over low for about 4-6 minutes or until yolks are hard enough for you. To test, push gently on the yolk with the back of a spoon. Remove with slotted spoon and drain off water.
To assemble place English muffin, then Canadian bacon, then egg, then sauce. Serve immediately and eat up (cause nobody likes cold eggs).
Serves 2.

  • Here is the timing I like to do (I like my eggs on the runny-side):
    • 1. Put water on stove to boil
    • 2. Start egg gravy
    • 3. Once you added milk to the gravy - place eggs in the water, English muffins under the broiler (or in toaster if I am making this for one).
    • 4. Once gravy is almost thick enough, warm up Canadian bacon.
    • 5. Assemble with all ingredients ready at the same time (or almost).
  • I have heard lots of tricks of how to keep your egg whites together and have less of that web-y stuff in your water. But really, the only thing that really works for me is to have the freshest eggs possible. Look at the date on the box and make sure you are getting the newest eggs in the store.

August 20, 2010

Four Years Ago

Almost four years ago I married the man of my dreams who started as a friend from high school. It was one of the happiest days of my life. We love each other more and we have had more fun than we could have ever thought.

Ariel starts law school on Monday so we are celebrating our Anniversary this weekend (even though it is next Tuesday). I am making a fancy breakfast and he is planning the activity. I am also going to make him a delicious decadent dessert. I have sworn off desserts but give myself one treat once a week - I thought that was reasonable. I have gone two weeks with nothing, saving up for a tasty treat tomorrow.
I have a fun gift in mind for my husband. It has something to do with this (I will tell you later, but sometimes he reads my blog):
This was the scariest gift I ever gave - I sang to my performer husband at our luncheon with all his pitch-perfect family members there. He sure was surprised (the second solo in my life - the first was a school assignment).
He then sang a song to me at our reception.

August 18, 2010

Guide to Cooking Terms

Ever come across a cooking term and wonder, "what does that mean?" or "what is the real definition of al a Mode?" I thought I would share with you some of the things I have learned when coming across some cooking terms I didn't know, as some I found in my research. Now you can be like Giada and whip out words no one has any idea what they mean, but at least you sound fancy!

à la Mode - literally, “following the fashion”. In the United States, it is a food that is served with ice cream; in France it names braised meat smothered in sauce. (I thought this was so interesting - don't order in France thinking you are getting a dessert!)

al Dente - Italian for to the tooth; used to describe a food, usually pasta, that is cooked only until it gives a slight resistance when one bites into it; the food is neither soft nor overdone. (Don't over cook your pasta ever again!)

Antipasto - assorted hors d’oeuvres, Italian style. Often included are ripe black olives, green stuffed olives, garlic sausage slices, salted anchovy curled on a sliced tomato, cooked dried beans in a vinaigrette dressing, prosciutto (thinly sliced fat ham) with cantaloupe.

Bain Marie - Simply a water bath. It consists of placing a container of food in a large, shallow pan of warm water, which surrounds the food with gentle heat. The food may be cooked in this manner either in an oven or on top of a range. This technique is designed to cook delicate dishes such as custards, sauces and savory mousses without breaking or curdling them. It can also be used to keep foods warm. (I actually heard Ina Garten use this term and it inspired this post. It is a gentle cooking method and keeps the temperature stable and things cooking evenly)

Bechamel sauce - This is a white sauce made with milk or cream and thickened with a roux. Bechamel sauce is generally used as a base for other more complex sauces, though it may be used alone for binding or moistening. (see definition of Roux below)

Blind Bake - To bake a pie crust without the filling. Metal weights or dried beans are usually used to keep the pastry from bubbling. (Mmm. Pie!)

Bouquet Garni - A bunch of herbs (traditionally parsley, thyme, and bay leaf) bundled up in a cheesecloth bag that usually dangles into a stockpot via a string. The herb bundle gives the stew, soup or stock an aromatic seasoning. The bouquet garni is removed before serving.
Bruschetta - Grilled slices of bread brushed with olive oil and fresh garlic. (I included this because I think so many people think Bruschetta is the tomato part - but it is really just a toast, you can put anything on it!)

Butterfly - To split a piece of food down the center, cutting almost through. The halves are fanned open and laid flat to cook or fry. The fan resembles a butterfly. ex - butterfly shrimp.

Chiffonade - French for 'made from rags.' In cooking it refers to a small chopped pile of thin strips of an ingredient. Usually it is raw, but sometimes sautéed. Mostly used to garnish. (I learned this is when you roll up herbs or leaves, like basil, and cut into strips...)

Cream - To beat butter, margarine, or other fat until it's creamy looking or with sugar until it's fluffy and light. THis technique beats in air, creating light textured baked goods. (Mmm. Cookies.)

Cut-In - To mix a solid fat such as butter or shortening into a dry ingredient such as flour, using a pastry blender, a fork or two knives. (This is usually for recipes like pie crust or biscuits - something you want to be flaky.)

- A process of adding a liquid such as wine, vinegar or stock to a hot pan to collect the bits of food left on the pan during cooking. Deglazing is most common with sauteed and roasted foods.

Dredge - To lightly coat food with dry ingredients like flour, cornmeal, or bread crumbs...the usual preparation for frying.

Emulsify - The process of combining ingredients like water and oil with a binder. The blended product is an emulsion. These blended combinations can last from a few minutes to a few days depending on the ingredients. Mustard and egg yolks are two common emulsifiers. (Notice how I use mustard in a lot of my salad dressings? That's why!)

Fork Tender - A degree of doneness for cooked vegetables and meats .When the food is pierced with a fork, there is only a very slight resistance. 

Julienne - to cut food, especially vegetables into thin, uniform matchstick strips about 2 inches long. 

Pare - to cut away the skin or rind of a fruit or vegetable. (Get it? You usually use a Paring Knife? Oh they are clever.)

Proof - To dissolve yeast in a measured amount of warm water (105 to 115 degrees F), sometimes with a small amount of sugar, then to set it aside until foamy. 

Roux - A mixture of flour and fat such as butter or margarine, used to thicken sauces, gravies, soups, and stews. Roux can also be made with bacon or meat drippings or poultry fat. After thickening, roux are cooked for a short time. In Creole cooking roux are cooked for a longer time, until they are a dark brown color. (Roux is the plural of Roux... it isn't a typo... though it is throwing me off too.)

Scald - To heat milk almost to the boiling point just as tiny bubbles start forming on the inside edge of a pan.

Score - Making shallow cuts in meats before cooking, making the meat more tender.

Soft Peaks - When cream or egg whiles are beaten until the stand in peaks that bend over at the top.

Stiff Peaks - When cream or egg whites are beaten until they stand in peaks and hold their shape. 

Temper - To slowly add a hot liquid to to an egg mixture or other food being prepared to raise the temperature without making them curdle or begin to cook. (Like in pudding or a custard... mmm. Flan.)

Zest - The colored skin of citrus fruit - not including the white layer.       

August 16, 2010


Okay, don't go to the next blog post just because this one says meatloaf. I am not the biggest meatloaf person, but really this was delicious. Not as bland as most are. My husband told me after this came out of the oven that he usually dosen't like meatloaf (I didn't know this!) but he really liked this one. Another bonus - I used half ground turkey so it's less fat than those 80/20 loafs out there. I did a little olive oil but that's a much better fat for you.
This was a perfect Sunday dinner for us. I served mine with green beans, mashed pototoes and a green salad. Serve on a silver platter and the everyday looks gourmet!

5 oz bag of garlic croutons (thanks to Alton Brown for this idea)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 onion, cut in 6 pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half
2 garlic cloves
2 celery sticks, cut in half
1 lb ground beef
1 pkg ground turkey (mine was 19 oz)
1 Tbsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup catsup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Add to crouton mixture. Add in meats and salt. Mix in egg. Combine well by folding and stirring, don't "squish" it.
Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Bake for about 10 minutes. While baking make your glaze.
Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. After the meatloaf has been cooking for 10 minutes, brush the glaze on. Cook for about 40 more minutes or until internal temperature has reached 155 degrees.

August 13, 2010

Chicken Stir Fry with Green Beans

Well, we have moved to Lincoln, Nebraska! The move went ridiculously smooth - and my baby did great for a 16 hour car ride - go Lou! It really was a blessing. Our kitchen is unpacked, and the rest of the house can wait. I finally started making some real food. I love eating out - but two weeks straight can really wear on you (and your waist line - yikes!). I did a couple grocery store trips and feel like our kitchen is almost stocked. The freezer is pretty bare, but it's getting there.
Yesterday was one of our first real meals. I had made dinner before but it was simple things like nachos, spaghetti, things like that. Nothing you don't know already how to make.
This stir fry was inspired by Jamie Oliver (if you haven't signed the petition yet, go sign it!). I love making stir fry it is kind of a clean-out-the-fridge meal. You can put whatever you want in it. And don't stress about having a big variety of vegetables, this only has two. I even love it with just one (remember Broccoli Beef? That's only one vegetable!) The thing with stir fry is you can't cook while you prep. Do all your prep work before hand. I love big cutting boards for this reason - cut and push aside, cut and push aside. No need for lots of bowls. Have everything close to the stove and you will have your stir fry cooked in about 6 minutes!

Chicken Stir Fry with Green Beans
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 thumb-size peice of fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 to 1 serrano or red chile, seeds and veins removed
2 green onions
2 carrots
2 large handfuls of green beans, cleaned
2 chicken breasts
Peanut or vegetable oil
one lime
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tbsp corn starch
reserved cooking water
1 package chow mein noodles

First - fill a pot with water and set on high to get boiling while you prepare your ingredients.

To prepare the stir fry:
Remove leaves from cilantro, set aside. Chop cilantro, ginger, garlic, and chile into a very small dice. Set aside. Slice the green onions thinly. Cut and discard ends of green beans; cut into bite size pieces. Slice carrots thinly (I like to cut them into a long, thin julienne.) Slice chicken breasts thinly. It's easiest to slice the chicken if it is a little frozen.

To cook the stir fry:
Preheat your wok or large frying pan over high heat. Once it is very hot, add a "glug" of oil to pan, swirl around. Place chicken in and turn once slightly browned, a couple minutes. Add in cilantro stalks, ginger, garlic, and chile, and half the green onions. Stir fry for about 30 more seconds, keeping everything moving. Now add your noodles to your boiling water, cooking 2-3 minutes. Add cornstarch, sugar, and a 1/4 cup cooking water, keep it moving. Add vegetables. Cook for another 2 minutes, keeping everything moving to not to burn (have I said that enough?). Remove from heat. Add soy sauce and juice of half a lime, stir in well. Drain noodles, reserving a little liquid. Add noodles to pan, stir well. Add a little water if needed to loosen it up. Taste, add soy sauce if needed. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with remaining green onions and cilantro leaves. Serves 3-4.

For fresh ginger, peel by scratching with a spoon then reserve the remainder in the freezer.
Careful with your chile pepper - the oils can stick on your skin for a while, wear gloves if needed. (My fingers were burning until I went to bed!... I wasn't being careful...