Sunday, June 29, 2014

Refreshing Mint and Lemon Ice

This is the perfect summertime dessert or snack. Make this easy simple syrup and freeze. Easy pleasy! Keep the alcohol seperate so it freezes faster. I used a bowl but it works better on a sheet pan with high sides.

Mint and Lemon Ice

2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 bunch mint sprigs
2 TBSP lemon juice

Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring bring to just below a boil. (You have made a simple syrup!)
Remove from the heat and add a handful of mint leaves. Steep the mint leaves in the water for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice.  Cool and add to a bowl or a pan with high sides. Once ice crystals start to form, stir every 30 minutes until you get a slush. Serve with your favorite adult beverage or eat by itself. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jalapeno Hushdogs (puppies) with Chili

I felt a bit like a short order cook today. My oldest had wanted my chili cheese fries and I wanted
hush puppies. I call them hushdogs because they are so big. They are the perfect side for my chili. Yes chili in June!   It has been so cold here on Lake Michigan.The jalapeno adds a zip to this perfect cornbread goodness. I hope it warms up for the 4th!

Jalapeno Hushdogs 15-20 large or up to 30 small

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 jalapeno pepper minced
3 inches vegetable oil

Heat a large pan with olive oil. The oil is ready when you see the bottom of the pan begin to ripple. Add a pinch of the batter into the oil and it will begin to bubble.

Add all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine. Add the eggs and gradually add the milk and jalapeno. The batter will be thick. Use a tablespoon (for large) or a teaspoon (for small) to add the batter into the oil. It will initially fall to the bottom but in a minute or two your hushdogs will float to the top. These take 2-3 minutes per side. Flip over when you see them light brown. Drain on paper towels and serve by themselves or as a side to chili.
This is how my Mom made chii and how I still make it today. You can substitute tomato juice for the tomato soup if you like. Sometimes I add 8 oz. of beer right after I brown the meat and then reduce the amount of water I add. This gives the soup more body.

Mom's Chili

1 lb ground beef
1 onion diced
1 large can stewed tomatoes chopped into pieces
2 cans chili beans in sauce drained
2 cans Campbell's tomato soup (small)
3-4 bean cans full of water
1 tsp. salt
2-4 TBSP chili powder
10 dashes of hot sauce

Brown the ground beef and onions together breaking into small clumps. Drain off any fat several times along the way.  We like it with larger piece of meat. Next add beer if you'd like and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes or add the diced tomatoes and let them do the same. Add the beans and the tomato soup. Lastly add the water and chili powder. This soup doesn't need to sit for very long. I simmer it on low for 30 minutes tops. Add the salt and hot sauce to taste. I also serve the hot sauce on the side along with sour cream and cheese on top.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rhubarb Crumble

Tis the season for rhubarb. All you need is some sugar and flour to make it a great accompaniment for vanilla ice cream. This turns a veggie that is normally very sour, into a something sweet and delicious.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. I used a 9x13 pan but I think it would work better in a smaller dish.

rhubarb flour, and sugar mixture
Rhubarb Crumble

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups rhubarb sliced


1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 brown cup sugar
1 pkg. instant vanilla oatmeal
1/2 cup cold butter cubed

Cut the rhubarb into slices. Coat with the sugar, flour, vanilla, cardamom. Place in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. In a separate bowl mix the crumble ingredients. Cut with a pastry cutter. Place on top of the rhubarb. Bake in the oven 35-45 minutes or until the top is brown and the rhubarb is bubbly. It will be extremely hot when it comes out of the oven.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blueberry Streusel Muffins: Special Breakfast Day

Every Sunday is "Special Breakfast Day" here in my house. It's a time when we are all in the house at the same time and can all be at the table together. This has been especially hard lately with sleepovers and camp coming up. This muffin is a breakfast all in it's own. It reminds me of the Mrs. Field's muffins I used to make when I was a Assistant Manager there way back in the 90's. Anyhow I know you will fall in love with this muffin and it's delicious cinnamon streusel topping!
the streusel soaks down into the muffin

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
the underside 

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup. milk (I use Fat free)
1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 pkg. instant oatmeal (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup butter cut into cubes
2 tsp. cinnamon

For the muffins preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add all of the dry ingredients and stir. Mix together the egg, oil, lemon juice, and milk. The batter should not be really thick but more like a cake batter. Thin out with more milk if too thick. Lastly fold in the blueberries. I strongly recommend using liners. I buttered my tin and had to run a knife around to remove.

Make the streusel with a pastry cutter. It should have a crumbly texture. Pile on top of each muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I recommend looking at them at the 20 minute mark. They are done when a knife or toothpick comes clean when pricked. I dare you to eat only one!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tabbouleh Confetti Salad

I fell in love with tabbouleh a number of years back when it was brought to a party. Tabbouleh is made from bulgar wheat which is packed with nutrients. It has 5 grams of protein per serving and is very filling. It can be eaten with other Mediterranean dishes or on its own as a main dish. I will sometimes have it for lunch by itself. This salad includes tomato, cucumber, and mint that will cool down your palate. I sometimes add feta or blue cheese to the salad for an extra zing. The bulgar will plump up much like couscous. I found it's often more times cost efficient to buy this in bulk.

Tabbouleh Confetti Salad

1 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1 Roma tomato diced
1 cucumber diced
3-5 mint leaves julienned
1/4 cup olive oil
2-4 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup feta or blue cheese optional

The bulgar wheat I purchase for around a dollar required me to rice my wheat several times. Next it asked me to add boiling water to it and let it sit with enough water covering the bulgar. After the thirty minutes, I drained the bulgur in a colander and squeezed out the excess water with my hands.

To the bulgar I added the cucumber, tomato, and mint leaves, along with the olive oil and lemon juice. I seasoned with salt and pepper and covered it with plastic wrap. Into the fridge it goes to sit and cool. Remove it from the fridge and taste for seasoning and acidity. You may add more mint if you wish. Serve as a side or as a main dish.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fresh Corn and Avocado Salad

The bi-colored corn has arrived! I went grocery shopping today and the corn is finally looking hearty. My family loves creamed corn but I wanted to try something new as a side for BBQ chicken. By the way, I saved some money by buying chicken quarters and cutting them apart myself. I then had enough chicken for two meals. The chicken thighs and drums I baked at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. I added the BBQ about 20 minutes before pulling out of the oven.

This recipe is perfect for picnics and can sit in the fridge until you are ready to use it. You can also vary the veggies in this salad. I used one corn cob per person.

Corn and Avocado Salad

4 corn stalks
1/2 red pepper
1 small onion diced
1 large Roma tomato seeded and diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup blue cheese (I used shredded)
1/4 cup vinegar
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 avocado in chunks
salt and pepper
1 tsp. Thyme

Firstly heat a large pot full of water. Add the shucked corn into the boiling water mix in the sugar and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and place in a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. This will stop the cooking process. Once cooled, with the wide end on a cutting board start from the top of the corn with the blade of a knife as close to the cob as possible. Remove all of the corn and reserve in a large bowl.
Add the onion, red pepper, cheese, and lastly the avocado. (Here is where the lemon juice comes in handy. It will keep the avocado from turning brown) In a separate bowl mix the vinegar, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper, and Thyme. Pour over the corn salad and refrigerate. Taste before serving and add salt and pepper accordingly.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Easy Chicken Piccata

This is a easy recipe to make and a budget extender. You butterfly boneless skinless chicken breasts and pound them out with a kitchen mallet to 1/4 inch thickness doubling the amount of meat. I generally use one chicken breast per person. You can also vary the wines you use with this. You can use anything from Chardonnay to Marsala for this dish. I also change up the sides I make with this from polenta,  to orzo, to couscous.

Easy Chicken Piccata
Add cured olives for that extra zip

4 boneless chicken breasts
cover with Saran wrap and pound out 
1 cup flour plus 2 Tbsp
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp. Thyme
2 TBSP Capers
2 TBSP lemon juice
8-10 brined olives (optional)
olive oil for frying and a large frying pan

coat each breast with seasoned flour
Butterfly each chicken breast by holding your hand firm on top of the chicken breast and placing a sharp knife on the side of the breast making a pocket. Cut the chicken breast down the middle but not all the way to the end. Use a piece of plastic wrap to cover the breast and pound out to 1/4 inch thickness with a kitchen mallet. On a paper plate, season the flour with salt and pepper. Coat each chicken breast with the flour. Heat the oil in the frying pan. When the oil bubbles when a pinch of flour is added, it's ready. Fry each piece of chicken 2-4 minutes per side.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the butter. Once the butter is frothy, add the flour and mix with a whisk until light brown. Add the white wine and chicken stock along with the Capers and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and continue stirring. The sauce will begin to thicken. Add the chicken back in to warm through. Serve over your favorite side. Orzo made with chicken stock goes perfect with this.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mini Cream Puffs on The Weekend

I got my free can of Reddi-wip coupon in the mail this week and it inspired me to make some cream puffs. My grandma was such a good cook and would make cream puffs and eclairs. This was my first attempt. I followed directions but felt mine were a little too brown. We will eat them all I am sure lol I think the ones I made in a glass baking dish turned out better. Next time I think I will spread out parchment on a baking sheet first so the bottoms don't get so brown.

Here's how I did it. You will need a hand mixer, a pastry bag (or zip loc bag with a end clipped off), and a wooden spoon.

Mini Cream Puffs (24)

1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter cut into pats
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cup flour
4-5 eggs depending on size ( I used mediums)
1 large can of Reddi-Wip
powdered sugar for dusting
Your favorite berries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Add the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a large sauce pan. Bring to a rolling boil and take off the heat. Add the flour and return to the heat for 30-60 seconds stirring with a wooden spoon. It will get foamy. Heat for 1-2 minutes so the mixture loses some of the water content. Remove from the heat and add the eggs one at a time. Use the hand mixer after the addition of the egg being sure to wipe down the sides.

Add the batter to a pastry bag. It will be thick. Pipe onto a baking sheet in round buns. (about a inch across.) Bake in the 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake 25 minutes more. Start checking on them at the last 10 minute mark. Remove if they become too brown. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 10 minutes. Cut the puffs open with a serrated knife. Add Reddi-Wip to each puff. Dust with powdered sugar. Eat as soon as possible or fill them right before the dessert. Another option is you can add fresh berries to the cream puffs with the whipped cream.
Here's how they look on the inside.

The kids can help out with this step. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Carrots Galore! No Egg Carrot Cake and Hot/Cold Coconut Lime Carrot Soup

In the bottom of my fridge I had two pounds of carrots that needed to be used. One of the cakes I like to make is carrot cake. It isn't reserved only for Easter Time. It's a great way to trick your kids into eating their veggies too. I was out of eggs. A good thing to remember is you can substitute 1/4 cup of applesauce for each egg. The leavening in this cake is provided by the baking powder.
unfrosted carrot cake

Carrot Cake
2 cups raw carrot shredded
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup lite sour cream
2 ounces veggie oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs or substitute 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg.
1 box of raisins

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl Butter the sides of the baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. (in a glass baking dish.) Add the raisins lastly. Bake until a knife comes out clean. Mine was done at 35 minutes.


Let the cake cool first and the cream cheese come to room temperature.

1 brick lite cream cheese softened
1 cup  powdered sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup water (to thin out frosting)

Mix all of the ingredients with a electric mixer. Frost cooled carrot cake. Refrigerate cake and enjoy.

Coconut Carrot Soup

This soup can be served hot or cold. It would make a great first course during a hot summer day. I picked this one up from my local Curves. This is for a Paleo diet but you could add chicken broth to the soup also to make it winterized. I don't have a blender and steamed the carrots in a small amount of water until they were partially soft. I then added the liquid ingredients and ran it through the food processor. Feel free to vary the seasoning as you like.

4 medium carrots (I doubled this so I could make it family friendly)_
1 1/2 ginger peeled
1/2 cups almond milk (I used non-fat)
1 cup coconut milk (you can use the lite version)
1/2 tsp. ground Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
squeeze of lime

Chop the carrots. Add them to a sauce pan with about 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil and cover. Check for softness. I wanted mine to be able to be pierced with a knife but not go all the way through. Remove the water and add to a food processor or blender. Add the seasoning, coconut milk, and fat free milk. Blend until smooth. Serve hot or cold with a garnish of Cilantro and avocado.