Friday, November 7, 2008

Breakfast Inspiration

Lately, we have been eating a LOT of Sam the Cooking Guy's version of grilled vegetable sandwiches. We eat them at least once a week, sometimes more. I love them because not only are they crazy healthy, but I love the way vegetables taste when grilled or roasted or otherwise cooked to the point of carmelization. It's the best way to eat vegetables. Plus, my husband and my toddler absolutely adore these sandwiches, too.

But anyhoo... Eating these sandwiches always leaves me with one little leftover square of ciabatta bread because said toddler eats a half-sized sandwich. Finding something to do with leftover bread is not difficult, as bread is one of my great loves in life. Seriously, I would rather die slowly than give up bread. One recent morning, I had a lovely bit of inspiration. I was about to unceremoniously devour the bread when the large bag of tomatoes from a friend's garden gave me an accusatory look. Clearly, they would not be ignored. My Foreman grill was still out from the night before (Hey, no judging. This isn't a housekeeping blog.), so I sliced up a tomato and threw it on that baby. (Man, I LOVE my Foreman grill, even if it is nearly a decade old.) Of course, now that grilled tomato was in the picture, plain ciabatta bread wouldn't do, so I spread a little butter on it, added a slice of Monterey Jack and popped it under the broiler. In a couple of minutes, this is what I had:
Now THAT says good morning- even on a paper plate.
P.S. Sorry for the crazy text spacing- I'm having issues with Blogger.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Not a Pie, Still Delicious

Blackberries were on sale the other day, so I decided to pick some up. I got some raspberries, too, because I think blackberries are too tart on their own. By the time I got home from the store, the berries were begging to be something greater than a salad ingredient, so after dinner, I obliged.

I made a pie crust and set it on a cookie sheet, then mixed the berries with a couple of teaspoons of sugar, a couple more of cornstarch, a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of zest. Then I piled the whole thing in middle of the pie crust and folded the edges of the crust over the top, leaving just a small area in the middle uncovered, put it in the oven and let it bake for an hour-ish.

I don't know the technical name for this concoction- I've heard them called tarts and crostatas and words I can't spell, but whatever it is, it's really good- especially with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt on top. The only thing I would do differently next time is add a touch more sugar to the berries, and maybe do an egg wash or some sugar on the crust to pretty it up a bit.

Image Hosted by

Even with a suck-tastic camera, it looks delectable.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spiced Apple Butter Muffins

These muffins scream "fall", but they're equally delicious any other time of the year. I got the recipe in an email from, so you can be assured they're reasonably healthy, too. when I made them, I subbed honey for the molasses (I have this thing against molasses, mostly that I hate the way it smells) and I used half rice milk and half 2% milk because I didn't have any lowfat milk. Oh, and I threw in a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed at the end. They were really good- good enough that my two-year-old called them cupcakes.


1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unprocessed wheat bran or oat bran
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup spiced apple butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar or 1/4 cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup finely diced peeled apple

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat 12 standard 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with cooking spray. Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside.
2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in bran.
3. Whisk egg, milk, apple butter, brown sugar (or Splenda), oil and molasses in a large bowl until blended. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Drain the raisins; add them and the diced apple to the bowl. Stir until just combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan (the cups will be very full).
4. Bake the muffins until the tops spring back when touched lightly, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges and turn the muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

TIP: Wrap leftover muffins individually in plastic wrap, place in a plastic storage container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To thaw, remove plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel and microwave on Defrost for about 2 minutes.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's time to Revolt

You know what makes me crazy? Drives me up the wall and fills me with the desire to storm restaurant kitchens and have words with the chef? Good, because I'm about to tell you.

I HATE IT when I am at a restaurant and see garlic bread on the menu, and thinking, "Yum, garlic and bread together is one of heaven's greatest gifts," order the garlic bread only to receive a basket of slices of french bread with a butter/garlic powder mixture on it. That is not garlic bread. That is bread with a garlicky butter on it. Putting garlic in some form on top of bread does not make the bread itself garlic bread. In fact, putting anything on top of bread does not change the type of bread that one has. You do not put peanut butter on bread and call it peanut butter bread. (ooooh! Peanut butter bread! Delightful! Hurry, someone go invent that and send it to me. And maybe to Sara Lee or something, too, because that stuff will be HUGE.) You do not put jam on bread and call it jam bread. (Although you do put butter and cinnamon and sugar on toast and call it cinnamon toast... odd.)

Garlic bread is bread that actually contains garlic. La Brea makes a wicked roasted garlic loaf that has beautiful, lovely chunks of roasted garlic in it. It is delightful with dinner and for making eggs in a basket the next morning. THAT is garlic bread, my friends. Not this french-bread-with-butter-and-garlic-powder passed off as garlic bread at restaurants and grocery stores and dinner tables nationwide. And I am not going to take it anymore. No siree, next time that happens to me I am SENDING IT BACK. And then probably leaving, because I don't want to eat a dinner that has been spat upon. But I will have made my point. Take THAT, lazy restaurateurs!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Worth Getting Out of Bed For

Alright all you Utahns, the moment we've all been waiting for is upon us: Next Wednesday (July 2) Sunflower Market is opening in Murray (6284 South State Street)! The doors open at 7 am and the first 200 customers will receive a free reusable shopping bag filled with groceries valued at over $50 (note how it says customers- you do actually have to purchase something to get the free stuff, but trust me, once you're inside, you'll want to buy stuff). Now believe you me, I don't get out of bed before 7 am for ANYTHING, but if I could be in the area next Wednesday, I would be in line waiting for the doors to open with a big grin on my face. $50 in free groceries from Sunflower Market has that effect on me. SO, if you want to know why I love Sunflower Market as fervently as I do (Lovely cheap produce! All natural wheat mac & cheese that tastes like the blue box stuff! Ethnic food! Natural meats! Flatbread! Bulk bins!) and you want some free groceries to try out, get your bum out of bed and drag yourself down there in your pajamas if you have to and rejoice! Now you have the glory of a Sunflower Market near you!

P.S. No, they don't pay me, but they should, huh?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Yes, I DO Have Problems, Thanks for Noticing.

Yikes, sorry for not posting for so long, three loyal readers. This whole single-mommy act has been a bit draining lately, and blogging has been at the absolute bottom of my list. But tonight after cooking a real meal and not something from a box or the freezer, my tummy is full and my tastebuds are delighted (homemade guacamole does that to me), and I get back on the bloggy horse. And off we go.

I have to confess something. It's a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but it's a huge skeleton in my culinary closet. Yesterday, I was watching Sam the Cooking Guy- have you ever watched him? I love him. I used to watch him when he was on the public-access cable channel, and I can't tell you how happy I am that the folks at Discovery picked him up. Anyway, yesterday he was making guacamole (which very blatantly inspired my guacamole-making tonight), and the ingredients were very straightforward: avocados, tomatoes, onion, lime juice, cilantro, chipotles. It looked yummy. EXCEPT. Here's the thing...deep breath... I've never had chipotles... because I'm scared of them.

Stop laughing. Yes, I am scared of chipotles. I know that they are smoked jalapenos, and I am not scared of jalapenos nor smokiness, but I AM scared of chipotles. For some reason, I think they are going to taste suspiciously like mole sauce, which I think is vile. Chocolate is not meant for use in savory dishes no matter what the ancients say. And while I KNOW intellectually that mole and chipotle are nothing alike, and that there is no chocolate in chipotle, I can't bring myself to try it. I am afraid. Very afraid. And I know this really affects my culinary cred (what minuscule amount I hallucinate that I have) because chipotle is the biggest flavor trend since, I don't know, wasabi. I mean, there's an entire chain of restaurants called Chipotle. Have I been? No. Hear it's good, but uh, yeah, that whole chipotle thing kind of gets in the way.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Or Not.

Perhaps my last post about me being a gourmet and such was a wee bit premature. I recently went to visit my husband who has been away on business for a long enough span that I was compelled to go visit him. During my stay, the hubs asked me to make some oatmeal for him one morning. Despite the utter lack of measuring devices and all familiar kitchen accoutrements, I agreed, because I am a team player and I make oatmeal multiple times a week and have mastered it.

Or not.

What was intended to be a little stove-top-cooked pot of stick-to-your-ribs love turned out to be something else. Something solid and inedible with the ability to defy gravity. That's right, DEFY GRAVITY. When hubs saw the abomination that was supposed to be his breakfast, he grabbed the pot, turned it upside down, and NOTHING HAPPENED. Not even one little lump of gluey horrendousness fell to the floor. And then my husband proceeded to laugh at me. A lot. Very loudly.

And that is why perhaps my previous post may have been a teensy, tinsy, almost imperceptible bit premature.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I'm A Gourmet! And Other Exciting News

Okay, I'm not a gourmet in real, actual life. BUT. I did make a recipe from Gourmet magazine, which me five years ago would never have imagined because me five years ago wouldn't make a recipe that had more than four steps to it, so it's a huge sign that I've come a really, really long way. And maybe making a recipe from Gourmet magazine kind of sort of makes you almost a gourmet. Or at least solidly a wanna-be. And I can totally live with wanna-be. In case you were wondering, the recipe was for Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto. It was my first foray into the world of risotto, and I now fully understand its addictive powers. Shortly after, I made risotto with peas and fresh Parmesan cheese. Holy mama. This is so going to rain on my whole-grain parade.

The other exciting news is that I got linked! By someone who does not know me and thus feel obligated to humor me and my nutty obsession with food! Linked! Now, if you're, oh say, my sister, this would not be a huge deal since roughly 92,000 people read and love her blog. But if you're me? Reason to celebrate, my friends. Thanks for the link, Deb! You made my week.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'm Not a Vegetarian, I Just Play One On TV

I realized something recently. I'm practically a vegetarian. I only eat meat a couple of times a week and I don't usually miss it. I probably could be an herbivore if I had some strong moral opposition to meat, if I thought eating meat was cruel to animals and a narcissitic show of dominion over other creatures and was somehow morally superior, but I don't. Which I guess makes me like a fence-sitting pseudo-vegetarian who's not committed to the cause, or a meat-and-potatoes girl gone horribly wrong. Just so we're clear: I love meat. Just not all the time. I used to have a bumper sticker on my car that said "If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?" I still feel that way. Meat is good- beef, chicken, lamb, pork, deer, turkey, quail, veal... YUM. To all of it.

So why do I bring this up? Not to launch a discussion about vegetarianism vs. meat-eater-ism. No. I would find that boring, and since this is my blog, I choose not to be bored. Not even to discuss the reasons I find myself eating less meat now than I did a few years ago. Again, BORING. And quite frankly, generally speaking, I don't really care why you do or don't eat meat. If you do, give me your recipes. If you don't, give me yours, too, but spare me the lecture about how meat is going to kill me. Yadda, yadda, yadda. We all gotta die sometime, right?

SO. The reason I bring this up is because I wonder, on nights when people aren't eating meat and also aren't eating fish (which is not meat), what are they eating? I'm guessing for most people, it's pizza or pasta of some sort. Those were our only meat-free (and fish-free) meals for quite a while. But that got boring pretty fast, so I started looking around and I've discovered tons of really good vegetarian food and recipes. Several months ago I made soba noodle bowls, and stuffed portabello mushrooms before that. A couple of weeks ago I made egg drop soup and vegetable lo mein (though I'm looking for a better recipe), a couple of nights ago we had vegetarian stuffed peppers. I just found an insanely good recipe for a roasted vegetable sandwich that I can't wait to make, and this fall is going to be The Fall of Risotto- I plan to make it with nearly every variety of fall and winter squash available in order to find my favorite combination. So what about you? Do ever go meatless? And if you do, what do you eat? Have any favorite recipes?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

While at Sunflower Market with a friend the other night (yep, I force friends to go with me so I can convert them), I got some really great news: Vegas is getting 3 more Sunflower Markets next year! WOOOHOOO! Soon you may be able to share in the joys of having your very own in-your-area(ish) Sunflower Market. Let the happy dances commence.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Three Bean and Corn Salad with Salsa Vinaigrette

If you invite me to a potluck barbecue, chances are I'm bringing this. I love it because it's easy, it's healthy, and it's so good. The original recipe came from a chef on the Today show a few years ago, but I've made a couple of changes.

1 can each kidney beans, Great Northern beans, and black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
3 green onions, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup tomato salsa
2 to 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a bowl, combine all the beans with the corn, green onions and bell pepper. Mix well.

2. In a small bowl*, whisk together the oil, salsa, vinegar, garlic and cumin. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and stir to mix. Let stand for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

4. Just before serving, garnish with cilantro.

*I put all of the dressing ingredients into a jar, put the lid on and shake it up- especially if I'm making this ahead of time or taking it somewhere, since I can just leave it in the jar until I'm ready to use it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


So, I was in the Mart of the Wal persuasion today, picking up a few things, and I found myself in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle looking for shredded carrots. I did not find shredded carrots, but you know what I did find? Pre-sliced onions. Who on earth buys a pre-sliced onion? Especially at two or three bucks a pop? Who is that supremely lazy or knife-challenged? One might argue that it is not much different from shredded carrots, but I would. Shredding carrots is a pain in my butt. I have no fancy food processor which shreds them for me, and so my options are really to cut them into tiny matchsticks or grate them on my box grater, thus not producing a substantial enough section of carrot to truly be a shred. But slicing an onion? Takes about ten seconds, a minute if you truly suck at it. I posed the "who buys a pre-sliced onion" question to the hubs at dinner, and here's what we came up with: If you own no knives and are on your way to a barbeque in which you are expected to bring sliced onions for topping burgers and the person who is hosting the barbeque also has no knives and you can't afford to spring for a knife, you might buy a pre-sliced onion. Or if you have no fingers. Or hands. Or arms.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mmmm.... Cake.

For my daughter's birthday, I decided to be A Real Mom and make a cake. In all honesty, I decided to do it because A. I'm cheap and B. last year we got cupcakes from a bakery and I was totally pissed about the crapola decorating job they did that was SO NOT WHAT I ASKED FOR. So, this year, I would do it myself. Let me first say this: I am a good baker, as we have established in previous posts. But, I rarely make cake and I don't think I've ever decorated one before. So, naturally, I decided to take it on the day before my daughter's birthday party. Because that makes sense.

My daughter's party was on a Saturday. So, mid-morning Friday I decided to bake the cake so it would have ample time to cool before I decorated it. I pulled out the boxes of cake mix, prepped my pan, mixed everything up, poured it into the pan, and sent it happily into the oven. About 40 minutes later, I pulled out a lovely, huge and delicious-smelling cake. I let it cool for a little while, then attempted to remove it from the pan. I reached into my bag o' cooking-show-learned tricks and put a sheet pan on top of the cake before inverting it. Then I tried to lift off the pan. The cake was not moving. Hijinx ensued, and this is what happened to the cake:

Apparently, simply greasing the pan is not enough if you hope to actually take the cake out of the pan. You know, like for serving it. Mary called just then, and she was able to school me in cake making/decorating 101. She informed me that if one hopes to remove a cake from a pan, after greasing and flouring a pan one should line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. So, I ran back to the store for cake mixes #3 & 4, came home and started over. Mary knows her stuff- this time it worked like a charm!

After a few hours of cooling, it was time for me to attempt the cake decorating. My toddler couldn't decide between a flower cake and a Funshine Bear cake, so I made a flower cake and stuck a couple of Care Bear figurines on it the next day.

SO much better than what the bakery did last year!

This is art.

Highly edible, delicious art.

Let's just be honest: I rock at cake decorating.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easiest Dessert EVER.

And it's delicious, too!

Here's what you do:

BUY: 1 Angel Food Cake bar
1 carton of Cool-Whip
1 bag of frozen berries (I like the mixed berries, but it's really your choice)

When it's time for dessert, pour the frozen berries into a small saucepan. Add a little fruit juice (or fruit-flavored juice, whatever you have on hand will work), a spoonful of sugar, put the pot on the stove and crank the burner up to medium-high. Stir it a little and then let it do its thing. The fruit will break down and start to get all bubbly. Add a little cornstarch, stir it in, drop the heat to medium-low-ish and let it do its thing again. Now, slice the angel food cake bar, putting one slice in each person's bowl. Go back to the fruit sauce. If it's thick enough for you, pour it over the angel food cake. If it's not, add some more cornstarch, stir it in and give it a minute to thicken up. Once you've poured the fruit compote-y-ness over the cake, top with Cool-Whip. Viola! You're done!

I made this up about a year and a half ago and everyone I've served it to just oohs and ahhs over it. (I'm sure plenty of other people have come up with it before me, but that's when I figured it out.) There's roughly 82,000 variations on this, it takes about ten minutes, and it's delicious. I think I'm in love.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Favorite Finds

Don't you love when you try a new thing and it instantly becomes a favorite thing? I know I do. Here are some of my newest favorite foods:

Quaker Simple Harvest Multigrain Hot Cereal
This has been out for a few months, and while I wanted to try it, the price tag scared me away. But one day, I was at Smith's and it was on sale for $1.99 (it's usually over $4.00), and I had a $1.00 off coupon, and lo and behold, the goods were mine. My favorite is the Vanilla, Almond and Honey. When you open the microwave the smell hits you, it's just intoxicating. I could sit and smell it all day. Eating it is even better.

Flat Earth Baked Veggie Crisps
I discovered these about a year ago, and have tried almost every flavor. Thus far, my favorites are Tangy Tomato Ranch and Wild Berry Patch (the sweet flavors are dusted with sugar instead of salt). They're a great alternative to regular chips, and if you ask me, they taste a lot better. Bonus? Every ounce has a half-serving of fruits or vegetables. If you haven't tried these yet, you should. Go to their website, and you can get a bag for free.

Orville Redenbacher Natural Simply Salted Popcorn
I'm an anomaly when it comes to popcorn. I don't like butter on it. And I HATE movie theater butter. It. Is. Gross. I've been looking for a plain or salt-only microwavable popcorn for a long time. Newman's Own makes one, but none of the stores by me carry it on a regular basis, and it's kind of expensive for microwave popcorn. But now Orville has come to my rescue with their Natural line and its Simply Salted Popcorn. The lack of unpronouncable chemicals is good and all, but I was excited that someone had heard my silent pleas for a butterless popcorn. I can hear you all saying "Popcorn without butter, but with salt? Sounds dry." Nope. Not dry. Palm oil solves that problem- without a heavy flavor. Even my movie-theater-butter-addicted husband loved this. Seriously. Good. Stuff.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I Owe It All to Rachael Ray.

Really, I do. When I was really, really stupid about food, Rachael Ray took me by the hand, led me to the kitchen and said, "Really, it's not that scary. Let me show you." Okay, maybe she didn't ACTUALLY take me by the hand, but she very figuratively did.

When I realized how much I needed to learn to cook, I turned on the Food Network and got very, very scared. Here were all these people making fancy, fancy stuff with ingredients I'd never heard of. (Lest we forget, I knew not what a green onion was, so things like polenta and risotto were way beyond my reach.) Then I found Rachael Ray. "Hey," I thought, "She reminds me of every best friend I've had since I was about 15. I think I can speak her language." And then she started making burgers. Burgers! I know burgers! I can do burgers! That's when I knew we would be friends for life, if only in a one-sided, through-the-TV sort of way. Like all good friends, we've had our ups and downs, me and Rach. Sometimes I wanted to throw something through the TV and tell her to stop being so persistently HAPPY all the time. Couldn't she see that I was in a mood and she was annoying me? Then I realized, that no, she can't, and her job kind of depends on her being happy, and eventually we'd make up. Sometimes I strayed from her down-to-earth food to covet the more gourmet offerings of the other chefs. But I always came back. She had me at hello.

It was Rachael Ray who taught me about formulas vs. recipes, and even emboldended me to create my own recipes. Before her, I was amazed at the powerful recipe-creating powers of all those cookbook people. Now, while still amazed, I understand that it's actually easier than I imagined. With Rachael's persistent encouragement, and her daily reminders that no one is going to come to my house and inspect my chopping methods, cooking has become less of a mystery and more of a hobby. Someday, I hope I can run into her in the grocery store so I can say, "Look! Look at my cart! I have ingredients in here! Ingredients to make meals because I know how to cook, and you helped!" At which point she will probably be a bit scared and walk away at a quickened pace, and the tables will have turned and I will be the happy one, yelling after her down the aisle, "Wait! I have to tell you about my meatloaf recipe! I made it up! All by myself! Aren't you proud of me? Rachael? Hello?"