29 August 2015



This is a yummy dish I made earlier this week. I had already decided it would be the one I shared today, and so was pleasantly surprised to find my daily email from Punchbowl telling me that it's Chop Suey Day.



According to that definition, this recipe counts as Chop Suey!  It's basically a deconstructed pork egg roll, but also kind of like pork fried rice.  I got the idea from Mostly Homemade Mom, and switched it up a little, adding some extra veggies and seasonings.  Here's my version.

Pork Egg Roll Skillet

Ingredients:
1½ lbs. ground pork
14 oz. package cole slaw mix
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup edamame, thawed
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp powdered ginger
¼ cup soy sauce
Green onions, sliced
Sweet chili sauce, optional

Directions:
Brown the ground pork in a large skillet.  Add the mushrooms, cole slaw mix, mushrooms, and edamame, and cook over medium-high heat.  Stir in the garlic powder, Bangkok, and powdered ginger.  When vegetables are beginning to soften, add the soy sauce and stir well.  Taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary.  When veggies are cooked to your preference, remove from heat and garnish with sliced green onions.  Drizzle each serving with sweet chili sauce, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.  

This is so super easy to throw together.  Love it!  And my family loved it too.  Of course, it is totally customizable to fit your family's preferences and works well with whatever you happen to have on hand at the moment.  You can chop regular cabbage instead of using the cole slaw mix, but I love the convenience of it, because it also adds carrots without having to get out your grater.

I used Penzeys Bangkok Blend, which is a salt-free Thai-style seasoning.  I happen to know that Penzeys is offering a 1/4 cup jar of it as a free gift with purchase right now on their website. (They are also offering free shipping with $30 order.)  I am not affiliated with Penzeys in any way (I wish!), and I don't benefit in any way from promoting them, I just thought I would pass that little tidbit along! I really love the Bangkok Blend. If Penzeys isn't an option for you, I found that Spice Islands has a Thai Blend.

This dish really does taste like an egg roll without the wrapper.  Perfect for my husband and I who are doing low carb.  According to my calculations, it comes out to just below 4 carbs per serving (without the chili sauce).  Very nice! Of course, that will vary depending on the veggies you choose.  I served it over brown rice for my kiddos.  If you are not low-carbing, you can just add cooked rice right into the skillet to make it like fried rice.  I splurged a little (carb-wise) and drizzled some sweet chili sauce on top of mine.  It's fine without, but that made it even better.

My whole family loved this, and I love having another super quick and easy recipe for dinner now that my kids are heading back to school next week.



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22 August 2015


I've made this coffeecake twice now. The first time I followed the directions and it came out way overdone.  Totally dry and too brown around the edges.  This time I cut way back on the baking time and it came out perfectly.  I got it from Renee's Kitchen Adventures.

Cherry Almond Coffeecake

Ingredients:
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tsp almond extract
1½ cups flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
12 oz. package frozen cherries, thawed and drained
½ cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp Sugar in the Raw

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 9” cake pan with baking spray.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg, buttermilk, and almond extract.  Mix well.  Slowly fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until just incorporated.  Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.  Place cherries on top, pressing down lightly into the batter.  Sprinkle the top with the almonds and raw sugar.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or the edges begin to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool before cutting and serving.

Makes 8 servings.




You can see that I *almost* over baked it again, as the edges were getting pretty brown.  I accidentally reset my timer when my daughter was brushing her teeth at bedtime.  Oops!  But I pulled it out just in time because it was still moist inside.

This is such a great coffeecake.  I love the almond flavor.  And it's not too sweet.  Just perfect.  And it's pretty too!  It's pretty easy to throw together as it doesn't require a crumb topping or anything like that.  If you wanted to serve it for dessert, a nice almond glaze would be lovely on top.



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20 August 2015



It's time for this month's Improv Challenge.  The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.   

This month's assigned ingredients were tomatoes and herbs.  Perfect for this time of year, when gardens are overflowing with both.  I don't garden, unfortunately, but I have a nice lady named Marge who plants some herbs in pots for me since she knows I like to cook.  The basil in the pic above came from my yard.  No tomatoes for us this year; need to make that more of a priority next year.

This is a recipe I made on a chilly evening in late June when we had some friends over for dinner.  We love grilling in the summertime, but it can get pretty boring always grilling the same things, so I like to get creative on the grill.  I put it all together and my husband mans the grill.  I have to say, he has been absolutely rocking the grill this summer.  Especially chicken.  I found some Caprese Grilled Chicken saved on my "On the Grill" Pinterest board from Add A Pinch.  It was plain chicken grilled, then topped with the mozzarella and tomato and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  I twisted it up a bit and decided to marinate the chicken in balsamic instead of doing the reduction.  The results were fantastic.

Grilled Caprese Chicken

Ingredients:
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh basil, torn
4 chicken breast cutlets
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Fresh tomatoes

Directions:
In a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, pour the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and torn basil.  Close bag and smoosh it around to evenly mix.  Open bag and add the chicken breast cutlets.  Close bag and refrigerate for 4 hours.

When ready to grill, remove chicken from the bag and give each cutlet a quick rinse with water to remove excess marinade.  Grill chicken over medium heat.  When you flip the chicken over to the second side, top each with a slice of mozzarella and a slice of tomato.  Grill until the chicken is cooked through and the mozzarella melts.  Remove from grill and garnish with additional basil, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

So the dark color of the chicken is not from grilling; it's from the balsamic marinade.  It's kind of the color of a cooked mushroom.  I did rinse off the excess marinade before grilling, but the chicken is kind of "stained" from it.  It didn't bother us or our guests; the marinade makes it so tender and flavorful you aren't going to give a rip what color it is.  Way better than a drizzle, in my opinion.  And topped with gooey melty mozzarella, the vibrant tomato, and fresh perfumy basil? Amazing!

This was a big hit with our friends and was so much better than the average "burgers and dogs" cookout.  And really, not that much more work!  I served it with an Italian pasta salad and my Broccoli Salad.  What a fun summer meal.

Be sure to check out all the other awesome tomato and herb recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with apples and oats.  Fall already? Oh man!


15 August 2015


This is a great chicken recipe I have made a few times now.  Yummy chicken does not get much easier than this.  Just mix a few seasonings into Dijon mustard, slather it all over your favorite cut of chicken, and throw it in the oven.  Then you have 45 minutes to do whatever you want.  Easy peasy. It's an adaptation of a recipe I saw on ifoodreal.

Dijon Baked Chicken

Ingredients:
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
4-5 chicken thighs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°.  

Combine mustard, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Rub this mixture all over the chicken thighs, top and bottom.  Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Makes 4-5 servings.

So easy, but so good. The mustard mixture creates a kind of "crust" on the chicken skin.  You can use any cut of chicken you like; this would work well with drumsticks or bone-in, skin-on breasts too.  You may also be able to use boneless, skinless, but since they cook a lot faster, the mustard probably won't have enough time in the oven to get that crispy goldenness to it.

I served this with fresh green beans and whole wheat stuffing, but it would be good with pretty much any side dish you like.  It's very versatile.

My five-year-old ate one and a half of these all by herself last night.

The next time thighs and drumsticks go on sale at your grocery store, stock up and give this a try.



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13 August 2015


How about another great veggie side dish?  I've made this one several times this summer and it's always a big hit.  It has all the flavors of a loaded baked potato: cheese, bacon, chives, and sour cream, but with far fewer carbs than a potato.  There are a million recipes for this around, but I decided to wing it and created this one on my own.

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Ingredients:
1 medium head cauliflower
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup French onion dip (or sour cream)
4 strips microwave bacon, divided
Fresh chives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut cauliflower into small florets.  Place in a microwave-safe bowl, fill with water, and cover.  Microwave on high 8-10 minutes or until cauliflower is somewhat tender. (I use my large Pampered Chef Microcooker for this.)  Drain well.  It helps to spread the cooked cauliflower out on a clean dish towel while you are preparing the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and onion dip.  (If using sour cream instead of onion dip, you might want to add a little onion powder for flavor.)  Crumble three strips of the bacon and add that to the cream cheese mixture, along with some freshly chopped chives (I don’t measure those).  Add the drained cauliflower and mix well, coating it all evenly.  Add ¾ cup of the cheddar cheese and toss again.

Pour mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining ¼ cup cheddar cheese and crumbled strip of bacon.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melty.  Remove from oven and garnish with additional chopped chives, if desired.  Serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.


Cheesy, bacony goodness.  Not your everyday veggie dish, but great for the times you want to indulge a little bit.  


This dish looks like an 8x8", but it's not. It's a bit smaller than that.  But I think this would work well in an 8x8".

I estimate this to be somewhere around 5 carbs per serving, but if you are a serious carb-counter, please calculate it yourself as ingredients may vary.




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12 August 2015


These yummy broccoli patties are a fantastic side dish I discovered today.  I saw them on Po' Man Meals and had to try them.  Glad I did!  They were a huge hit with my family.  I ended up changing them a bit.  Here's my adaptation.

Roasted Broccoli Cheddar Patties

Ingredients:
6 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
Salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ shallot, minced
1 tsp dried dill
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese (from the can)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°.

Place broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and then fill bowl with water.  Cover and cook on high for 4 minutes.  (I use the large Pampered Chef Microcooker.)  Drain well, then put broccoli in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze as much water out as you can.  Put broccoli in a food processor and pulse just a few times (4 was perfect for me), until the broccoli is slightly chopped up but still has small chunks.  Let broccoli cool slightly.

Combine egg, shallot, and dill in a large bowl.  Add the cooled broccoli and toss well.  Add the Panko and Parmesan and toss again.  Finally, mix in the cheddar cheese.

Spray a baking sheet with Pam (not necessary for stoneware, which is what I use).  Take a handful of the broccoli mixture and form it into a patty shape and lay it on the baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining broccoli.  I got 8 patties from my batch.

Place pan in preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Gently turn patties over and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown on both top and bottom.  Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings, 2 patties each.

My husband and I have been trying to cut back on carbs, so I've been getting more creative with vegetables lately, which is a very good thing.  Broccoli is one veggie my kids don't complain about, so I'm thrilled to have found a new way to serve it.  We love it roasted with simply oil and salt, but how can you go wrong adding cheddar cheese to it?  I cut way back on the Panko, but didn't omit it completely because I thought they might fall apart.  I recommend using the powdery Parmesan in the green can because it acts as a great binder (and is carb-free).  I might experiment using all Parmesan and no Panko.  It would reduce the carbs and make them gluten-free.

I used fresh broccoli instead of frozen.  The original recipe didn't call for pulsing the broccoli florets, but there was no way I was getting patties with the big chunks.  It just fell apart.  A little spin in the food processor solved the problem.

I served these with my Lemon-Soy Swordfish Fillets.  Forgot the avocado butter again!  I don't make swordfish often because it does not fit within my grocery budget, but I saw these the last time we went to Trader Joe's and decided to splurge. They were worth every penny!  My husband did an awesome job grilling them.  They're in the freezer section if you want to look for them.

I estimate these patties to be somewhere around 4 carbs each, but if you are a serious carb-counter, I encourage you to calculate your own nutrition info because ingredients and brands may vary.

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