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Monday, July 4, 2011

It's Grilling Time!!!!!

Wow, it's July 4th already! Fire up the grill, it's time to dine out in the great outdoors. Invite some friends over and enjoy the longer summer days and warmer nights.

Few things spell s-u-m-m-e-r like the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. For Americans, grilling could easily be described as a national pastime -- nearly 70 percent of the population grills outdoors, and 41 percent do so year-round.

Time to get out of the kitchen and outside on to my deck with my brand new grill!! With grilling the options are only as limitless as your imagination! From veggies, steaks, hamburgers, BBQ chicken, pork chops seafood, pizza, and many more!!!!!

Grilled Ribs....The easiest way is to cook them ahead low and slow. Choose your favorite Rub. I prefer cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, minced garlic, brown sugar, and some kosher salt and pepper. You can choose how much to your taste. Mix these together and rub all over the ribs. Preheat the oven to 225. Cover the ribs completely in foil and allow to cook for 7-8 hours. Once the ribs are almost falling off the bone, preheat your grill to medium. Coat your ribs with you favorite BBQ sauce. I like to cut my ribs into sections so they will be easy to turn on the grill. Close the lid, but keep a close eye on the ribs so they do not burn. About 5-6 minutes per side.

Grilled steaks are amazing! If you are on a tight budget you can use a braising steak but you will needed to marinade the steaks for at least 6 hours. You can use italian dressing, teriyaki sauce, or be creative. I used this one last time.

1 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tsp. salt and pepper

Place you steaks in a large zip lock bag. Add the marinade and make sure all the meat is covered. Try to lay the bag flat in your refrigerator. Turning several time to be sure the meat is all coated. Pre-heat your grill to Medium High. About 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness and how you would like your steak done.

Resist the urge to cut into your steak, as you will lose all their precious juices. If you have a meat thermometer, of course this would be a great choice. If not these tips will help:

Touch your thumb and your index finger together in the "OK" sign, and then press the fleshy part of your palm right below the thumb with your other hand. Feel how soft and malleable that is? That's the way rare steak feels when you press it!

Now touch your other fingers to your thumb, one at a time. As you move from your index finger to your pinky, the pad of your thumb will get progressively more firm and resistant. This feels similar to steak as it cooks, moving from rare (index finger) to medium-rare (middle finger) to medium (ring finger) to well-done (pinky).

As your steak is cooking, occasionally press its center and then compare it against this finger test, taking the steak off the heat as soon as it feels as done as you like it. Try it for yourself!

Touch your thumb and your index finger together in the "OK" sign, and then press the fleshy part of your palm right below the thumb with your other hand. Feel how soft and malleable that is? That's the way rare steak feels when you press it!

Now touch your other fingers to your thumb, one at a time. As you move from your index finger to your pinky, the pad of your thumb will get progressively more firm and resistant. This feels similar to steak as it cooks, moving from rare (index finger) to medium-rare (middle finger) to medium (ring finger) to well-done (pinky).

As your steak is cooking, occasionally press its center and then compare it against this finger test, taking the steak off the heat as soon as it feels as done as you like it. Try it for yourself!
Tip Courtesy of :

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Potato Tot-Topped Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie recipes were first developed in England in the mid-19th century. Recipes differ from traditional meat pies because they do not involve meat enclosed in a pastry crust. Instead, shepherd’s pie consists of a layer of ground meat and a few vegetables topped with a creamy layer of mashed potatoes. The dish is baked until the top of the potatoes forms a golden-brown crust.

The first shepherd’s pie recipes included ground lamb, a bit of onion, and perhaps some peas and carrots. The lamb produced some gravy as it was cooking. The result was almost an upside down version of potatoes with gravy. Shepherd’s pie had more substance than simple mashed potatoes, though, because of the quantity of meat in the recipe.


2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 pounds coarse ground sirloin, pat very dry with paper towels
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
Salt and pepper
About 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons butter
2 rounded tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cloudy apple cider or amber beer
2 cups beef stock in a box
1 cup chopped watercress leaves (I omitted this, my family would not have eaten it)
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 bag frozen tater tots

For a quicker version, I omitted the fresh vegetables and substituted a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.


Preheat oven to 400°F.
Heat a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high to high heat with oil, 2 turns of the pan. When oil ripples, add meat and brown well, stirring occasionally. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook to soften vegetables, 10-12 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and reduce heat to simmer.

In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in cider or beer. Reduce by half then whisk in stock and thicken to a loose gravy.

Place meat and vegetables in a casserole dish and stir in watercress and gravy. Top with cheddar and tots, and bake until tots are golden and crispy on top.

Recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray -

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crock Pot Orange Chicken w/ Sweet, Spicy & Tangy Broccoli

With every ones busy schedules, crock pot recipes our a lifesaver! This one I found exceptionally easy and delicious!!

Crock Pot Orange Chicken
•2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
•2/3 cup all-purpose flour
•2/3 cup orange marmalade
•1/2 cup mustard
•1/2 cup ketchup
•2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
•2 Tbsp. soy sauce
•2 Tbsp. brown sugar
•1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
•3 scallions, chopped

Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Cut up chicken into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle flour over chicken and toss to coat. (I browned my chicken pieces first before putting in the crock pot, this takes a little more time, but is well worth it!) Place in crock pot. In separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on LOW 6-8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours. I garnished mine with slivered almonds and scallions.

Recipe courtesy of


4 cups of broccoli florets
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 to 5 long strips lemon peel
1 teaspoon salt

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 2 TBSP. of sea salt. Add broccoli and cook for 3 minutes and drain. Return to pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, and chili flakes until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon peel and cook briefly until beginning to turn golden brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add the vinegar mixture and salt and simmer 2 minutes longer.
Pour dressing over half the broccoli florets and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of

Hunter Style Chicken

As many of you know, my daughter has a passion for food and cooking as well. She takes culinary classes at Parkway. She recently came home with this fabulous dish. I just had to post it and will have to make it myself soon!!!!


2-2 1/2 lb. fryer, cut in serving pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. clarified butter
1/4 cup of flour
2 eggs
1 c. sliced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. sliced green pepper
1 1/2 c. sliced onions
4 tomatoes
2 tbsp. sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

Peeling tomatoes:
Bring a medium pan 3/4's full of water to a boil on high heat. Drop tomatoes in for 30 seconds - start timing immediately. Remove tomatoes and drop into a bowl of cold water. Now peel them with a knife or your fingers - peel will come off very easily.

For the tomatoes:

Rinse and pat dry the chicken parts. Dregde the chicken in egg than flour. Shake off excesss. In a large skillet, combine butter and oil; heat. Add chicken and brown. Remove chicken from pan. Add onions, garlic and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, celery, sugar, salt, parsley and chicken. Cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until tender. Serves 6-8.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Teryaki Chicken Legs

This is a simple, economic, and delicious recipe! I have made these several times and everyone devours them. This simple marinade (Marinade refers to the liquid foods marinate in. Marinades always contain some acidic liquid like lemon juice or vinegar to tenderize the foods, and may contain spices or herbs to add flavor) can be used on any cut of chicken or steak. In this recipe I used the oven, but in the summer I definitely like to grill.

Teryaki Marinade:

1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of soy sauce
1-2 green onions, diced
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1 TBSP. of olive oil
1/4 TSP of black pepper
1/4 TSP of salt

Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Heat on medium-high (3/4) heat to a gentle boil.
When a gentle boil is achieved, stir mixture until it thickens and the brown sugar is dissolved. Let the marinade cool to room temperature. Place your chicken legs in a large bag and pour marinade over the chicken. (reserve 1/4 cup to marinade during the cooking process) Allow to marinade, in the refrigerator, for at least 4 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 375. Place chicken on a cooling rack with a pan underneath. The cooling rack will allow the chicken to cook from underneath as well, allowing the chicken to be crispy on the bottom as well as the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165. While the chicken bakes, spoon a little of the reserved sauce sauce over the meat every 15 minutes.

bon appetit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash and Scallion Couscous

I am a fan of Moroccan cuisine. When I saw this recipe in the Cooking Light Magazine, I was surprised. The recipe was listed as a cook time of 40 minutes. Since typically, tajines in Moroccan cuisine are slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce. They are traditionally cooked in the tajine pot. I am a enthusiast of this magazine, so I decided to give it a whirl.


2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoons of cinnamon
2/3 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 pound beef shoulder roast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 shallots, quartered
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
1 14.5 can of diced tomatoes
3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
1/2 cup of cilantro


Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Heat in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and shallots; cook 4 minutes or until brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add squash; cover, reduce heat, and simmer in 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Yields 4 servings.

Calories 284 Protein 26.6 grams

For the Scallion couscous. Bring 3/4 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in 1 cup of uncooked couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in 1/3 cup of chopped green onion. Yields 4 servings.
Calories 169

Review: 5 out of 10. What a let down. This dish was bland and one dimensional. It was mediocre as best. The upside was that I was able to get my children to eat squash, which is a feat on it's own. Also, the couscous was acceptable. The consensus among the family was it was edible, but we would not want this again.

Friday, January 28, 2011

6 Flat Belly Drinks

Sip your way top a sexier stomach!

1) Water - Prevents Overeating - A new study found that people who drank water before meals three times a day lost 5 pounds more tan non-water drinkers over the course of 12 weeks. If you don't like plain water, add some flavor with a citrus twist of lemon, lime, or Orange.

2) Red Juices - repairs Muscles - You may be leary of getting too many calories from juice, don't be, with ruby juice like tart cherry and pomegranate. Science supports their health-promoting prowess. The anthocyanins from tart cherries helps speed muscle recovery after strenuous activity; and pomegranate juice's polyphenols help reduces oxidative stress in the body and hardening of the arteries.

3)Low-Fat Chocolate Milk - Boosts Metabolism - A study revealed that women who consumed 1200 milligrams of calcium per day lost significantly more weight than those who fell short on the calcium quota. Low-fat chocolate milk is also the drink of choice for muscle recovery as it offers the perfect carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.

4) Tea - Burns Fat - Tea is a natural fat fighter. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, three cups of green tea a day can stimulate the metabolic rate and burn fat at a faster rate for up to 24 hours after drinking.

5) Soy Shakes - Curbs Cravings - A study at the University of Illinois found that soy proteins mimic the action of leptin, a hormone that signals fullness and tells you to stop eating, which leads to weight loss.

6) Coffee - Ups Calorie Burn - Your morning java may whittle your middle by helping you burn fat at a steady rate. According to the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, women experienced the greatest fat burning boost over a 24 hour period after they drank caffeinated coffee.

Article from Oxygen Magazine Feb. 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

OK, I decided to give the 400 Calorie Cook Book a second chance. I decided to make the tortilla soup since it was so cold outside.

4 servings - 310 Calories - Protein 22g


1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 can fat-free chicken broth
1 cup of water
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1" cubes
1 medium onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic,minced
1 tablespoon of chili powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
4 6" corn tortillas
1/2 Hass avocado, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1 line, cut into wedges

Place the tomatoes, broth, water, chicken, onion, chipotle, garlic, chili powder, and salt in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Spray the tortillas on one side with cooking spray. Cut the tortillas in eighths (I cut mine into strips). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp. Ladle the soup into four bowls. Top each with tortilla, 1 tablespoon avocado, and 1 teaspoon cilantro. Serve with 2 lime wedges.

I would give this a 8 out of 10. The soup was extremely tasty. The flavor was rich and warm. Everyone in the family enjoyed the soup and wanted seconds. My son even wanted it for breakfast the next day. (No, he will not be getting it for breakfast!) My daughter, who does not like spicy soup, actually liked this. The spiciness from the chilpotle was warm and subtle. She did add sour cream. The downside to this soup was there was not much substance to the soup. It needed something more. Next time I will add black beans and corn to make it more hearty for a meal. This will add some calories, but black beans are a great source of protein. And also, as Jillian Michaels says in her Master Your Metabolism Cookbook,
If you do only one thin to help you lose weight, eat more beans!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fish and Chips

OK. I decided to make "Crispy Catfish with Lemon Tarter Sauce" (4 servings)

Calories 270 - fat 13g - Saturated fat 3 g - Protein 21 g

Recipe courtesy of the cookbook, 400 calorie Fix

3 tablespoons of light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons of fat-free plain yogurt
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of paprika
2 large egg whites, lightly beaton
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
4 cat fish fillets (4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 450. Coat a large baking sheet wit cooking spray.

To make the tarter sauce, combine the mayonnaise, pickle relish, yogurt, and lemon zest in a small bowl.

Combine the flour and paprika in shallow bowl. Place the egg whites in a second shallow bowl and the cornmeal in the third. Sprinkle the cat fish with the salt and pepper. Working with one at a time, dredge both sides of the fillets in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in the egg whites and then in the cornmeal. Set on baking sheet.

Lightly coat the catfish fillets with the cooking spray and bake 7 minutes. Turn the catfish over, coat with cooking spray, and bake for 5-6 minutes more, or until the fish is cooked through and crisp. Serve topped with tartar sauce
For the "chips" I did take a short cut and purchased froze sweet potatoes which I baked.

Review: I would rate it a 5 out 10. First, I must say, I do not like corn bread or corn muffins. So the cornmeal was a reach for me. I also have never had catfish. I now know I do not like catfish. The fish was very strong. My son described it as "muddy". The crust did get a little crispy, but stuck to the pan even though I used the cooking spray. I was only able to eat a piece after drowning it in malt vinegar! The only other family member who ate an entire piece was my son Travis. He dunked it in tons of ketchup. I ended up throwing the rest away. What a disappointment.

I always have to have coleslaw with my fish. So, I turned to one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Paula Deen!

The Lady's Coleslaw.

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 large carrot, chopped
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cabbage head
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (recommended: Jane's Krazy Mixed-up salt)
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Using a food processor, gently process the bell pepper, onion, carrot, and parsley, being careful not to over process. Cut 1/2 of the cabbage into chunks and place in the food processor and process lightly, making sure the cabbage doesn't become mushy. Slice the remaining cabbage thinly. Mix the cabbage together with the processed vegetables. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together and allow to stand for a few minutes. Combine the mayonnaise mixture with the vegetables and toss. Chill for 1 hour

Review: I would give it a 7.5. This was tasty and I liked the use of parsley and green peppers. It was easy to make and I substituted a packet of splenda for the sugar. I will make this again. Although I still think my Mom's is better!

It's a New Year - Time for Some New Recipes

Happy New Years to you! It has been a few months since my last post. Where does the time go? With a New Year, comes new year's resolutions. Many are to lose weight and get healthy! I know mine is! So, what better way than to introduce my family to some new healthy recipes. With my vast array of cookbooks and magazine subscription, not to mention the numerous web sites, the options are endless. Now, I want to eat healthier, but do not want to give up flavor and variety. One can only eat so many plain chicken breast and boring salads. When you limit yourself, it is too easy to cheat, and give up on the diet. I am going to try and make these recipes and share my review as well as the families review of the recipes. Tonight I am choosing a recipe from the 400 Calorie Cookbook. Let's see how it taste.