Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Start The Day off Right!

Breakfast 002

I love breakfast! Afterall, it is the most important meal of the day. The only problem, I'm not a morning person, so when it comes to cooking breakfast, I fall short. My body is like a car left out in the cold overnight and has to be warmed up before it can properly function. That is where the coffee comes in. I need to wake at least an hour before I can eat anything, so I compensate my time by reading the daily paper and enjoying my morning java. Occasionally, and I requote "occasionally", I am able to cook a substantial breakfast. We all have our favorite breakfast food and mine is pancakes! I have had a hard time over the years making pancakes that tasted just right. I mean, a pancake is a pancake right? NO! You need the right fluffiness and taste. I have tried pancakes with just about everything but the kitchen sink added to them. Cottage cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, whole wheat, flaxseed, and on and on... Alas, I discovered what I think may be the perfect pancake recipe. I was recently browsing the Pioneer Woman's website when I noticed a recipe for Perfect Pancakes. I really enjoy that woman's website! She has such great detail to her recipes. You must visit her website Click on the recipe section and you will find her recipe for Perfect Pancakes. Oh, and they are just that! They taste more like a cake, probably because you use cake flour instead of all-purpose. Mine were a little thinner than hers. Could it be I missed a step? Who knows and who cares, they were awesome! I give this recipe a five star rating (like my opinion matters to the food gurus, but we will pretend it does!).

Ok, now I have you started with your pancakes,(that you ARE going to make). You need something to go with those fluffy babies! I complemented mine with some sun-dried tomato and goat cheese scrambled eggs and bacon. The sweet and tart taste of the sun-dried tomatoes mixed with the robust tartness of the goat cheese just make your mouth happy! You will be singing my praises! (That is if you like goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes!) Now, I know you probably think that scrambling eggs is a no-brainer, but your WRONG! There is a simple way to cook perfect scrambled eggs. You do not just heat you skillet and toss the eggs in them swirling them around a couple hundred times and then viola!, your eggs are ready. No, my friend, there is a better way, and I will guide you through this nifty journey. You see, to get fluffy eggs, ( and you want fluffy eggs to go with your fluffy pancakes), you must heat your skillet over medium-low heat. Slowly cooking the eggs is the key to happy, fluffy eggs! Once the eggs are done, you need to transfer them immediately to your plate, because the eggs will continue to cook in the skillet. You learn something new everyday! Ok, here is my recipe for Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Chees Eggs:

3-4 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitue)
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
2 basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

* mix eggs, dijon mustard, slat, pepper and sun-dried tomatoes into a bowl. Add to heated skillet and cook until done. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Bon Appetite!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Smell Something.....

Ooh, how I love this time of year. There is definatly a change in the atmosphere. Us Southerners are creeping out of our man caves and into the most perfect, balmy weather! I truly relish this time of year, and rightly so; it doesn't last long. We have such a short Spring season, before you know it, Summer has made its untimely entrance. Well, with the warm weather comes the firing up of the grill, a.k.a. "the egg". We still use our grill throughout the fall and winter, but once warmer weather rolls around we burn that sucker up! (No pun intended). I have "food moods". This past week I was in the mood for burgers. My kids: Macaroni and cheese. My husband: whatever I was kind enough to cook him! He's so easy going and rarely ever complains about what I cook, even if he is not in the mood for it. Got to love a man like that! Well, since I am trying, (note the key word here:"trying"), to eat healthier, I decided that I would make a tasty, but healthy burger and a healthier version of macaroni. Well, it saddens me to admit, but the macaroni recipe I found on the foodnetwork's website. So, gosh-darn-it, I can't take credit for it! The burger however, I can! Remember what I always say, you can expermiment with your own ingredients and make it your signature burger, This is mine:

beach 2010 001

Smoked Gouda Burgers with Carmelized Onions

For the patties:

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. worchestershire
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

* Mix together all ingredients. Make nice thick, rounded patties. Cook over heated grill about 6-8 minutes per side. Tip: Don't flip the burgers more than once, this will cause uneven cooking. Also, don't press out the juices once you turn them, that is good stuff baby!

* The last couple of minutes remaining for the burgers to cook, add a sliced of smoked gouda and the carmelized onions. Serve on your choice of bun. I chose whole wheat biscuits. Yes, you read that right, biscuits. Don't knock it till you try it! I also spread a spicy mayo on the biscuits, just to compliment the smoked flavor.

Carmelized Onions

1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. REAL butter
1 tsp. sugar

* Heat a skillet over med-high heat. Place butter in skillet and allow to melt. Add onions and sugar. Cook until onions turn a carmel brown.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Light and Fare (with a little sin on the side!)

I admit, when the weather gets warmer, I want to cook more. The challenge: putting together tasty, yet healthy meals. Not to mention one that the kids will eat! My ally: the warmer weather. Now that things are heating up, literally, the meals get lighter. Fresh veggies and herbs can really add a light, flavorful flare to any dish. I like to keep things simple, but I am not afraid of a challenge! Usually that challenge is in the forms of an almost 6 year old and 7 year old! I am sure I'm not alone in this category! With Spring comes an automatic sense of eating lighter and healthier; probably because us women know bathing suit season is creeping up on us! I have a great dish that I made for the fam this week, and alas, the boys loved it! It is a light take on Chicken Carne Asada Tacos, with robust flavor. There are many different variations you could do with this recipe and I encourage you to get creative in your kitchen! For the kiddos, where that is where the sin comes in! Chocolate Buttercream Cupcakes! Yum! I hope you enjoy!

Easter 2010 022

Chicken Carne Asada Tacos

1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1-2 chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-8 corn tortillas OR flatbread (which I used)
1 avocado ,diced
1/2 cup mozarella, shredded
1/2 cup fresh, chopped cilantro

* Combine first four ingredients in a bowl, stir til sugar dissolves. Bring onions to a boil in a saucepan then immediatly drain and submerge into cold ice water. This stops the onions from cooking any further. Drain onions and add to citrus marinade.
* Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and garlic. Sprinkle chiken with oregano, cumin, salt and pepper, toss to coat. Add to skillet and cook until browned, about 4-6 minutes.
Easter 2010 020

* Heat tortillas or flatbread to your preference. Divide the chicken mixture among tortillas or flatbread. Top with drained onion marinade, cheese, avocado, salsa and sour cream. Sprinkle fresh cilantro on top. Enjoy!

Oohh, do I have a temptation for you! See if you can make these for the kiddos and not eat one yourself! I dare you! I am going to open the door for you and allow you to have my secret cake recipe for yourself. I may regret this! Here goes:

Mrs. Scarlett's Chocolate Buttercream Cupcakes

Easter 2010 019


1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix (thought it was something secret, uh)
1 small box vanilla sugar-free pudding mix
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (yep, you read that right!)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter, softned

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners and spray with cooking spray. Mix all above ingredients in mixer at low speed for 30 seconds and then increase to medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour 1/3 cup batter into each cupcake mold. Bake about 16-25 minutes, depending on how fast your oven cooks. Cool.

Frosting: (you will need to double this recipe)

2 2/3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter, softned
1/3 cup half-n-half
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted ( I used Hershey's)

Add Confectioners sugar and cocoa, mix until blended. Keeping mixer on low, add butter, half-n-half and vanilla. Increase speed to medium and continue mixing until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes. I do hope you enjoy!