"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - La Rochefoucauld

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm Moving!

Hello faithful followers,

You may have been wondering why the posts have slowly come to a stop. That's because Cook Fast, Live Young is moving over to a new home at NewProspectorMag.com, where we're turning away from the modern American habit of consumption and trying to do as the pioneers did! There, you'll find quick and easy yet healthy recipes for everyone else, gardening, DIY for the home and yourself, hipster homeschooling, local food, local business, and indie fun.

Join us at New Prospector!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Savings.com Post: Quick and Easy Recipes with 3 Ingredients or Less

My first article as a guest blogger for Savings.com is up:
Quick and Easy Recipes with 3 Ingredients or Less

Check it out, and leave a link for your favorite recipe with 3 ingredients or less!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Food Finds: Shrimp

Shrimps is probably my favorite seafood. Unfortunately, my husband's stomach sometimes reacts funny to it, so we don't have it as often as I'd like. Here are three recipes I'd really like to try when we get around to it.

Adriatic Grilled Shrimp from The Splendid Table
Garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes -- do I need to say more?

Coconut-Crusted Shrimp from Chew on This
Who doesn't love this classic dish? You'll also find her recipe for a fruity dipping sauce

Mezze Maniche with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Shrimp from Fabiolous Cooking Day
Mezze Maniche are basically wider, shorter penne noodles. If you can't find them or have other pasta available already at home, just replace them!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Food Finds: Soups

Yes, I realize it's the start of summer and probably not the best time for soups, but since soups are so easy to freeze and reheat later, it's a favorite in our household!


Creamy Onion and Blue Cheese Soup from One Perfect Bite
We made this soup last week. It was a surprisingly sweet soup with a delicious strong taste. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Spicy  Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup from Beach Eats
An interesting twist on the traditional tomato soup.

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Morel Mushrooms and Ramps from Closet Cooking
Asparagus is in season! Now's the time to make this soup.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cinnamon Strawberry Bread

Josh and I had some leftover strawberries that were on the verge of going bad, so I called my mother up to get this recipe. It's a little like banana bread, moist and sweet!

Cinnamon Strawberry Bread

Servings: 8 - 12
Total Cost: $5 - 6
Reheat Factor: N/A
Freezer Factor: N/A
More about the Ratings.


Ingredients
(1 Not in Pantry)


16 oz. strawberries (frozen or fresh)
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups canola oil
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1. Grease and flour the pan.
2. Combine sugar and oil.
3. Beat eggs, and add to sugar and oil.
4. Slightly mash the strawberries with a fork, and add that to the mix.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Source: My Mom

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tasty Onion Chicken - A Use for Leftover French-Fried Onion!

I never know what to do with leftover french-fried onions from my green bean casserole -- until now! This is one of the tastiest chicken meals I've found, and it's very easy to make.

Tasty Onion Chicken

Servings: 2
Total Cost: $5 - 6
Reheat Factor: Unknown. We ate it all.
Freezer Factor: Unknown. We ate it all.
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients

(4 Not in Pantry)

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
Leftover french-fried onions
2 chicken breasts

1. Mix the butter, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard together.
2. Dips the chicken in the butter mixture and then coat it with the french-fried onions.
3. Grease your baking dish with the remaining butter mix.
4. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.

Source: Taste of Home

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Food Finds: Pizza

This week's Food Finds theme is the Italian classic, Pizza! Think outside the box with these great recipes.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Blue Cheese from Vanilla Sugar
Like the author of this recipe, I hate wings, but I love Buffalo Chicken. This recipe looks delish!

Pizza with Asparagus, Fiddleheads, Mushrooms, and Ramps from Seasonal Ontario Food 
You'll get your fill of veggies with this recipe! Great for this time of year since asparagus and mushrooms are in season.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Two Girls Cooking
Because you can't make a pizza without good dough!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Honest Scrap Award

My first blog award! Thanks Angie from Angie's Healthy Living.


As a recipient of this prestigious honor, I have to share 10 random things about myself and then pass the award along to 10 other bloggers! Yes, it's a chain letter type thing, but it's fun and I am happy to have received it.

10 Random Things About Me

1. I have a Chihuahua mix puppy named Lady.
2. My favorite TV show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
3. I am a firm believer in the power of garlic.
4. I lived in Brazil for almost a year to learn Portuguese, my mother's native tongue.
5. I am currently reading The Magician's Elephant, even though I am partway through The Road.
6. I recently lost my copy of The Road.
7. As a kid, I was terrified of that big flying dog from Neverending Story -- and hated the movie.
8. I prefer white wine to red.
9. I am a grammar junkie.
10. My favorite fruit is raspberries.

And the Honest Scrap Awards go to...

Auggie at Auggie's Doggie Bloggie
Karen at Bright Autumn Sun
Kevin at Closet Cooking
Melissa at the Frugal Gourmom
Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks!
Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen
Laura at Hey, What's for Dinner, Mom?
Mary at One Perfect Bite
Christine at Fresh and Local Best
Aubree from Living Free

I can't wait to see who responds!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Teriyaki Salmon

Since our fridge is overrun with processed sauces and salad dressings, we're trying to find recipes that help us to simplify. Of course, we're also saving money since we're not letting what we have go to waste. First on our list was some leftover teriyaki wing sauce, after seeing Closet Cooking's recipe for Salmon Teriyaki. It was delicious, and we will be making it again. Here is the recipe for our meal:

Teriyaki Salmon
Servings: 2
Total Cost: $5 - 6
Reheat Factor: 2/5 Personally, I'm not a fan of reheated fish.
Freezer Factor: 5/5 I would recommend freezing the raw fish in the sauce, and the cooking it.
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients

(2 Not in Pantry)
2 Salmon Fillets
Teriyaki Wing Sauce

1. Place salmon in a tupperware container. Coat with teriyaki wing sauce on all sides.
2. Marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.
3. Preheat the oven to broil. 
4. Place the salmon on a baking tray or dish and pour some extra teriyaki wing sauce on top.
5. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quick Tip: Save Money and Time by Freezing Leftovers

Making eight servings of chili doesn't really take that much longer than cooking four, and it can save you money and time in the long run. If you prepare in bulk, it pays to know a little bit about the best practices for freezing food. Here are a few tips:

-  Know which foods you shouldn't freeze. Eggs in their shells or food in cans are not safe for your freezer. (However, if you remove the food from the can, then it is safe to freeze.) And other foods, such as mayo, lettuce, and cream sauce, are technically safe to freeze, but they won't taste good after their defrosted.

- Know which food freeze well. Soups, casseroles, chili, pies, lasagna, meatballs, marinara sauce, and many other foods taste just as good after a few months in the freezer. You can also seek out specific make-ahead recipes. If you're not sure about a particular meal, cook up a little extra and give it a try.

- Don't let the food stand. Instead, cool it in the fridge for 30 minutes to a few hours, and then freeze it. Putting warm food in the freezer can raise the temperature of other foods, and also the center of the meal may not freeze fast enough to prevent spoilage.

- Store it in small amounts. If there are two of you eating, put two servings per container. This way, you can just defrost the quantity that you will be eating.

- Wrap it well. This will help to maintain freshness. Only use only moisture-resistant containers for storage, such as plastic bags and Tupperware that are made for use in the freezer.

- Don't leave empty space, unless you are freezing a liquid which may expand. Otherwise, fill the empty space with crinkled wax paper. For plastic bags, squeeze out all the excess air before putting it in the freezer.

- Label your foods. You'll be thankful you did when it comes time to telling the difference between the meatballs and the chili. If you include the dates, you can be sure to use your food before it loses its taste.

Learn about the FDA's recommendations here.

Check back next week for tips on the best way to thaw your frozen meals!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Food Finds: Pasta Dishes

I'm always on the look-out for a good pasta recipe. They're generally fast, easy, and filling meals. Substitute whole wheat pasta to make your meal healthier!

Pappardelle Pasta with Marinated Chicken from The Frugal Gourmom
These wide egg noodles are delicious, and this citrus and herb marinade sounds like a perfect combination!

Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce from Golubka
There's no actual pasta in this recipe. Instead, the spaghetti is made from zucchini! If I had a spiral slicer, I would have already made this yummy meal.
Fettuccine Alfredo is one of my favorite meals, but the Alfredo sauce is not really that great for you. This recipes takes the fettuccine noodles in a totally different direction.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Marinated Buffalo Chicken


This recipe is super simple! My husband and I tried it on a whim the other night with some left over Buffalo sauce, and it came out quite yummy.

Marinated Buffalo Chicken

Servings: 2
Total Cost: $3 - 4
Reheat Factor:Unknown
Freezer Factor: It's so easy, why bother?
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients

(2 Not in Pantry)
2 Chicken Breasts
Buffalo Sauce

1. Cut the chicken breasts into strips. (This allows more of the sauce to stick to the chicken.)
2. Marinate in enough Buffalo Sauce to cover the chicken for a few hours or overnight.
3. Dump the entire mixture -- chicken and sauce -- into a baking dish.
4. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes at 400 degrees or until completely cooked.
5. Eat up!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Food Finds: Vegetarian Recipes

This week's theme is vegetarian recipes! If you try any of these recipes, share the results in the comments below.

Roasted Cauliflower from Within My Kitchen
Ceecee set out to make a very simple and healthy recipe for roasting cauliflowers into a "deliciously sexy" side dish. It sounds like she succeeded!

Fruit & Nut Pilaf with Wild Rice from Seasonal Ontario Food
I love wild rice, and I love dried fruit! I can't wait to try this recipe.

Italian Onion and Bean Soup with Parmesan Toast from Lisa's Kitchen
This recipe is straight from a great vegetarian blog! If you're not tempted by the title, check out the photos on her blog. Yummy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chocolate Pots de Creme

I recently found a great, easy to make dessert recipe on the blog Closet Cooking. I made a few small changes to the recipe and the cooking method to make it even easier for myself, and it came out absolutely delicious and very rich. I will definitely be making this again, and I may be trying his Maple Pots de Creme recipe some time soon. Thanks, Kevin!


Here is the recipe with my modifications, but you can see the original recipe here.

Chocolate Pots de Creme


Servings: 4
Total Cost: $3 - 4
Reheat Factor: N/A - Served Chilled
Freezer Factor: Unknown - We ate it all!
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients
(2 Not in Pantry)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 egg yolks

1. Heat the cream, milk, vanilla and sugar in a small sauce pan until simmering.
2. Reduce heat. Add chocolate chips, stir until well-melted.
3. Turn off the heat. Add the egg yolks.
4. Pour into 4 small glass bowls.
5. Place the bowls into a baking dish and pour hot water into the dish until it comes half way up the bowls.
6. Bake in a preheated 325F oven until it sets, about 30 minutes.
7. Chill in the fridge until you're ready to eat.


We topped ours with whipped cream -- delicious!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Trial and Error: Jalapeño Peppers... and My Pained, Burning Hands

Another important cooking lesson learned, one that will really stick with me: do not pick out the jalapeño pepper seeds with your bare hands. I've cut jalapeño peppers before, so I'm not sure why I never experienced the intense and frustrating burning sensation that occurs when the oil from the peppers gets into your skin. I imagine it's because I normally cut the seeds and interior of the pepper with a knife, while yesterday I just dug in with my fingers. Never again, my friends! Never again.

While I enjoyed the Cinco de Mayo fish tacos and sweet corn tomalitos we made, it certainly made the whole experience uncomfortable. I scoured the internet for remedies... and discovered there really are none. For every theory, there was five people saying it didn't work for them. To make matters worse, there were many people who reported going to the emergency room to get drugs. Luckily, my case wasn't that severe.

Here is a list of all the home remedies I tried... that failed:

- Vinegar
- Milk
- Sour cream
- Iced water
- Hot water
- Tomato paste
- Aloe Vera
- Rubbing alcohol
- Dish-washing soap
- Hand lotion
- First aid cream

I'm probably forgetting some. Each of them felt comfortable for a few minutes, but eventually the sensation came back. What did end up working? I downed a few tequila shots and waited it out.

In the future, I will be handling only the exterior of the jalapeño pepper and immediately washing my hands very, very well. If chopping up many peppers, I will be putting on gloves. Learn from my mistake!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pita Pizza


Last week, my husband and I purchased some delicious hummus and pita from the farmer's market, but when we were done, we had pita left over -- but no hummus. I decided to whip up a quick pizza of sorts with the leftovers. It was quite good! Here is the recipe.

Pita Pizza

Servings: 2
Total Cost: $4 - 6
Reheat Factor: 0/5
Freezer Factor: 0/5
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients
(3 Not in Pantry)

2 Tomatoes
2 Pitas
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese
Olive Oil
Vinegar
Salt
Pepper

1. Chop the tomatoes. Season with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.
2. Place the pita on a baking tray. Cover with the tomato mix.
3. Cover with cheese.
4. Bake it in the oven (or toaster oven) at 375 degree for approximately 10 minutes (or until cheese is bubbly.)
5. Enjoy!

Source: Me!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Asparagus and Mushroom Puff Pastry Pie

It's springtime, and that means asparagus is in season, which means it's cheaper and yummier than usual. This pie is an easy, delicious way to include this nutrient-packaged green veggie in your meal plan.

When we were making this meal, we came across some portobello mushrooms for only $.99 at the grocery store, so we used those instead of the standard button mushrooms. I highly recommend it.

Asparagus and Mushroom Puff Pastry Pie

Servings: 6
Total Cost: $10 - 12
Reheat Factor: 5/5 - Delish!
Freezer Factor: 4/5
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients
(4 Not in Pantry)

2 bunches fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

6 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup prepared hollandaise sauce
1 (17.25 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Using a steamer basket above boiling water, add asparagus and cover pan. Cook about 6 minutes.
3. Add olive oil to pan, cook mushrooms and garlic for about 5 minutes or until cooked.
4. Remove from heat. Add asparagus to the mix.
3. Prepare the hollandaise sauce according to package directions. Stir into the asparagus and mushrooms.
4. Lay one sheet of puff pastry out flat in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish, letting any extra dough go up the sides.
5. Spread the asparagus mixture evenly over the dough. Top with the other sheet of pastry, and pinch the edges together to seal.
6. Optional: If you want a prettier, glazed top to the pie, beat one egg and add 2 tbsp of water. Then brush a light coating over the top of the pie.
7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until pastry is golden brown. Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Food Finds: Cinco de Mayo

What will you be eating this Wednesday to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? My husband and I are excited to try a new fish taco recipe we found. Here is that recipe and a few other interesting meals that I found this week.

There are many fish taco recipes on the web, but I wanted to find one that was beer-battered and had an interesting sour cream sauce. Too many of them just included cabbage as a topping. This one even includes some cheese! 

Annie's Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips from Ann Page on AllRecipes.com
A sweet version of nachos! How can you go wrong with that?

Mexican Rice from Closet Cooking
A delicious side dish for any Mexican meal.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Herb Burgers


These burgers are juicy, and the vegetables and seasoning make it a more interesting meal! If you want to change it up even more, you can top the burgers with Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream.

I wasn't not really sure what to call the recipe. Herb Burger doesn't really cover it, but it's the best I could come up with. Any ideas for a better recipe title? I'd love to hear it!

Herb Burgers

Servings: 4
Total Cost: $6 - 8
Reheat Factor: 3/5 -- Like most burgers, it's better the first day.
Freezer Factor: Unknown. I've never frozen a burger.

Ingredients
(1 Not in Pantry)


1 pound ground beef (I use ground sirloin.)
1 medium tomato diced
1/2 cup black olives diced
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt/pepper
4 hamburger buns

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Form mixture into 4 patties.
3. Grill about 4 minutes per side.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Breaded Italian Chicken

I don't think I have ever come across a simpler, more delicious recipe than Breaded Italian Chicken. A friend passed it along in college, and I've been making it ever since. It's great to eat on its own or chopped up in a salad or creamy pasta.


Breaded Italian Chicken

Servings: 5
Total Cost: $5 - 8
Reheat Factor: 4/5 -- It definitely is best the first day, but it reheats alright.
Freezer Factor: 2/5 -- The recipe is so easy that I wouldn't recommend it.
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients
(3 Not in Pantry)


1. Put the chicken breast in a plastic bag. Cover with Italian dressing until it is well-coated.
2. Put it in the fridge and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. (You can also do this overnight.)
3. When you are ready to cook it, coat the breasts with breadcrumbs. To do this, you can either throw it in a plastic bag with breadcrumbs and shake it. Or you can pour breadcrumbs onto a plate and lay the chicken in the breadcrumbs. Then turn it over to coat the other side.
4. Put it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes at 375 degrees or until juice runs clear.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Food Finds: Week of April 24th

Here are a few recipes I discovered this week that are worth checking out!


Healthy Nachos from Angie's Healthy Living Blog
A really easy way to make this Mexican snack healthier!

Tri-Color Vegetable Risotto from Kitchen Daily
Portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil? Yummy.

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla from Lisa's Kitchen
The ingredient list is long, but the prep seems like it would be pretty easy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Avocado Frappe -- Why Won't These Damn Things Ripen?

Last week, my husband and I bought some avocados from the Farmer's Market in order to make fresh guacamole for an event happening a few days later. Wow, what a stupid idea. The avocados were still as hard as a rock by the time the event rolled around, so we had to run to the grocery store to buy ripe avocados for the gathering.

Since we were left with three avocados and no plan for them, I scoured the internet for an interesting avocado recipe, discovered Avocado Frappe, and made a few changes. We have all the ingredients required already, so it was really easy to throw together.

Avocado Frappe

Servings: 5
Total Cost: $3 - 4
Reheat Factor: N/A -- Served cold!
Freezer Factor: 3/5 -- I'm sure it freezes alright, but part of what makes it so delicious is how fresh it tastes.
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients
(2 Not in Pantry)

2 avocados
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch salt
3 cups milk
1 tbsp sugar

Peel avocados and remove the pits. Cut flesh into chunks.
Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
Pour into dish, cover, and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Garnish with avocado slices if desired.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quick Tip: Save Money and Time for Ground Meat Recipes

The next time you're in the store and see a sale on extra lean ground meat, purchase several pounds. 


Cook up all the ground meat and drain it. Then divide it into several freezer containers and freeze.


Then, when you're ready to cook a recipe that calls for ground meat, simply unthaw in the microwave for a faster, cheaper meal.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dipping Sauces for French Fries

My husband is a HUGE french fry fan, so we decided to make our own healthier version at home. One of our favorite preprepared fries to buy is the Chipotle Ranch BBQ fries at Trader Joes, so I scoured the internet for a comparable recipe. We weren't sure if it would taste the same, but we're gave it a go.  It was pretty different but delicious! So was the honey mustard recipe we tried. (The French Fry recipes were not that great, so I won't share those.)


But here are the dipping sauces:


Chipotle Ranch BBQ Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup barbeque sauce, whatever's left at the bottom of the jar
1/4 cup ranch dressing (eyeball it)
1 chipotle in adobo, seeded and chopped (optional)

Source: RachaelRay.com


Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared Dijon-style mustard
1/2 cup honey

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Food Finds: Week of April 17th

Cheese is the unintentional theme of my food finds this week!

Meyer Lemon Pesto and Feta Cheese Pasta with Shrimp from Closet Cooking
Pesto, shrimp, and feta cheese -- how can this not be delicious? I'm not sure what a meyer lemon is, but I'm willing to find out in order to make this recipe.

Veggie Frittata from Hey, What's for Dinner, Mom
Another recipe with feta! With only two ingredients not in my pantry, this meatless recipe seems like a quick, easy, and delicious dinner.

Mexican Pizza from For the Love of Cooking
This recipe looks like a yummier, and way healthier version of the Taco Bell treat.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Green Bean Casserole (without Canned Soup!)

For Easter, I ALMOST made green bean casserole, but I thought the recipes I wanted to try might be too heavy along with my planned multiple-course meal. During my casserole journey, I found an interesting history of the traditional cream of mushroom soup version of this dish on Random Musing of a Deco Lady that's worth a read. I also found a recipe on Frugal Gourmom that intrigued me, so I decided to give it a go as a meal this week! We forgot to purchase the bacon, but it was still absolutely delicious! I highly recommend it.

I'll post the ingredients here and my usual ratings, just so you're hooked, but you'll have to go to her blog to get the full recipe.

Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole

Servings: 8 (We halved it.)
Total Cost: $6 - 8
Reheat Factor: 5/5 - Just as good the next day!
Freezer Factor: Unknown
More about the Ratings.

Ingredients
(6 not in Pantry)

2 bags of frozen green beans (I used fresh green beans.)
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 hefty tbsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 small sweet onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups of 2% milk
1 lb of crispy bacon, cooked & drained
1 bag/container of French Fried Onions
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
1 cup of shredded colby/jack

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

Like the Pineapple Chicken recipe, this is great because there is no prep work and all the ingredients are easy to store in your pantry until you need a quick meal. When you buy the salsa, I recommend that you look at the label to find one without High Fructose Corn Syrup.

On occasion, we've added crunched tortilla chips on top or even eaten it a little like a bean dip.

Black Bean and Salsa Soup


Servings: 4
Total Cost: $4
Reheat Factor: 5/5 - Just as good the next day!
Freezer Factor: 4/5 - But the recipe is so fast to make, I don't recommend it.

Ingredients
(3 Not in Pantry)

2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup chunky salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion (optional)

1. In a food processor or blender, combine beans, broth, salsa, and cumin.
2. Blend until fairly smooth.
3. Heat the bean mixture in a saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated.
4. Ladle soup into bowls, and top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the sour cream (and 1/2 tablespoon green onion if you have them.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Split Pea Soup -- Great for Easter Ham Leftovers!



Not a huge fan of green peas? Me either. But that doesn't stop me from LOVING split pea soup. It's more like a bean soup than a pea soup. In fact, "split peas" look very different from the normal round green peas that come to mind.

Split Pea Soup

Servings: 8
Total Cost: $4 - 10 (depending on if you have leftover ham or not)

Reheat Factor: 5/5
Freezer Factor: 5/5 - You may want to add a little water before reheating.

Ingredients
(4 Not in Pantry)

1 package (16 oz) green split peas
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 small carrots, chopped
1/2 cube chicken bouillon (or a can of chicken broth)
Leftover Easter ham
Salt and pepper

1. Sort and rinse the split peas.
2. In a large pot, add the chopped onion, minced garlic clove, and c and one crushed
garlic, and the carrots.
3. Cook for a minute, and the add the peas.
4. Cover with 6 to 8 cups of water. Add 1/2 cube of chicken bouillon. (Alternately, you can use 2 cups of chicken broth -- just reduce the amount of water.)
5. Add the leftover ham in one piece.
6. Bring the water to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Remove ham from pot and cut into small pieces.
9. Return the ham to pot and cook for another 2 minutes.
10. Add more water if necessary.

Source: My Mom

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Food Finds: Week of April 10th

Here are a few recipes I found this week while searching the food blogosphere that I found interesting:

Tomato and Feta Baked Egg from Closet Cooking
Eggs poached in a tomato feta sauce. How do you poach an egg? I have no idea, but this recipe looks so yummy that I might have to learn.

Fruity Sauteed Chicken from Within the Kitchen
This recipe was "kid-approved." That's always a good sign. I was also drawn to the recipe because it is SUPER easy to make with few ingredients.

Guilt-Free Potato Chips from Cooking from Scratch
Um, yes! I think the recipe title says it all.

I'd love to hear about any recipes you discovered on the internets this week and your favorite food blogs! Share in the comments.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How to Eat Seasonably - A Calendar!


If you eat fruits and veggies that are in season, you can save money, eat yummier food, and make less of a negative impact on the Earth.

The problem? Unless you're a farmer, who knows what's in season?

Enter the Eat Seasonably calendar! On the website, you can select a fruit or vegetable to see when its in season -- or you can download a poster for your records.

If that doesn't seem accurate for the food at your farmer's market, try looking for a harvest calendar for your area. I found this great list for Southern California and this map for the rest of the US.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce

I pretty much love eating anything that I can dip in butter, so artichoke is high on my preferred vegetables list. A bonus, these veggies are high in cynarin, which lowers cholesterol, promotes good digestion, and is great for the liver and gallbladder.

Steaming these veggies is an easy and healthy option. Since the cooking method involves little water, the artichoke retains more nutrients.

Today I think I'm going to try a simple lemon butter sauce to go with it, just for something a little different.

Steamed Artichokes

Servings: Depends on the number and size of the artichokes
Total Cost: $1 - 3
Reheat Factor: 0/0
Freezer Factor: 0/0

Ingredients
(1 Not in Pantry)

Artichokes
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1. Trim and rinse the artichoke. Cut the top of each artichoke leaf, cut off the base, and remove outer leaves if they look old.

2. In a large pot, add an inch or two of water, a clove of garlic, and lemon juice (or a slice of lemon.) Insert the steaming basket.

3. Place the artichokes in the steamer, tips up. Cover and cook for 25 - 40 minutes.

4. Make sure you can easily pull out the inside leaves, and cut into the base of each artichoke to check if they are soft. If not, cook them longer, checking about every 5 minutes or so.

5. Drain artichokes upside down on a paper towel.

6. Dip them in butter sauce and eat. (Not sure how to eat the leaves? Check this out.)

Simple Lemon Butter Sauce

Ingredients
(0 Not in Pantry)

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp lemon juice
pepper to taste

1. Mix the ingredients together.
2. Serve!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil Appetizer (& How to Store Basil)


This is one of my favorite summer snacks! It's fast, light, inexpensive, and yummy.

Servings: 4
Total Cost: $3 - 4
Reheat Factor: 0/5
Freezer Factor: 0/5
More about the Ratings

Ingredients
(3 Not in Pantry)

8 oz. Mozzarella (fresh is best!)
2 Tomatoes
Fresh basil
Olive oil
Vinegar
Salt

1. Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes.
2. Wash the basil, and remove several big leaves.
3. Alternate slices of tomato, mozzarella, and the basil leaves.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Salt to taste.
4. Serve at room temperature.

Tip for Storing Fresh Basil -- for Weeks!

Don't store basil in the refrigerator, because it will spoil faster. If you've purchased freshly cut basil, treat it like you would a bouquet of flowers. Create a mini vase of sorts by filling a glass with water. Make sure only the stems are covered and change the water occasionally. Using this storage method, basil can sometimes last weeks -- it may even develop roots! Cutting the stem regularly can also help the basil to stay fresh longer.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Trial and Error: What To Do If You Don't Have a Grill

A few ago, my husband and I planned to make a pork recipe we hadn't tried before for dinner. We had all the ingredients out and were ready to go, when we realized that it needed to marinate for 6 hours before cooking. Doh!

So we made the marinade and put it away in the fridge for the next day. Instead, we had a really wonderful salad with fingerling potatoes, bacon, and an easy, homemade vinaigrette.

Then, the next night, we resumed the pork recipe's preparation... only to realize that it asked you to grill the tenderloin. We do have a grill in the pool area of our condo, but it seemed like way too much effort for the meal.

Instead, we broiled the seasoned tenderloin, which was cut in one inch cubes, for about 15 minutes. This seemed to work well, even though we ended up not being big fans of the marinade.

Lessons learned? Read -- or at least skim -- the whole recipe before you plan to make it. And if you need to use an alternate cooking method, check the internet for approximate cooking time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Dinner Menu & Recipes

For big holiday meals, I like to throw away the idea of "cooking fast" and enjoy making the best meal I can. However, since I'm still learning how to juggle cooking multiple items at the same time, I like throwing some simple recipes into the mix, so I don't overload myself.

Here's my Easter Plan, including my shopping list, preparation plan, and all the recipes I'm attempting!

The Menu

Appetizer: Deviled Eggs
Main Meal: Ham
Sides: Carrot Patties, Strawberry & Spinach Salad
Dessert: Easter Egg Dipper Rice Crispy Treats

The Cooking Plan

Saturday Afternoon
- Go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients.
- Hard boil the eggs and store them in the fridge.
- Make Easter Egg Dipper Treats.

Sunday Morning
- Trip to the Farmers Market to pick up fresh veggies.
- Make the carrot patty batter.
- Make the ham glaze.
- Make the salad dressing.
- Devil the eggs.
- Wash the spinach.
- Wash and chop the strawberries.

Sunday Afternoon
- Cook spinach.
- Cook the ham.
- After I remove the ham from the oven, fry up the carrot patties.
- Eat!

Farmers Market Shopping List
1 pound carrots, grated
2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries

Grocery Store Shopping List
12 eggs
1 (10 ounce) package regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels or milk chocolate morsels
5 teaspoons shortening
Multi-colored sprinkles

Items I Already Have
bread crumbs
butter
garlic cloves
all-purpose flour
mayonnaise
mustard
paprika
pepper
poppy seeds
salt
sesame seeds
vegetable oil
white wine vinegar
white sugar

The Recipes

Deviled Eggs

8 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 tsp paprika
1 garlic clove, minced (This is the first time that I'm adding this! We'll see how it goes.)
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons water

To Hard Boil the Eggs:
1. Place eggs in large sauce pan, and cover them with about an inch of water.
2. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
3. Cover and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from hot water. Rinse eggs under cold running water to cool them faster.
5. Drain and peel the eggs.
6. Halve lengthwise

To Devil the Eggs:
1. Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out the yolks.
2. In a bowl, combine the yolks, mayo, mustard, paprika, and minced garlic clove.
3. If it isn't smooth, add 1 - tablespoons of water.
4. Enjoy!

Stuffed Baked Ham

Ingredients

5 lb boneless ham
5 oz. frozen, chopped spinach
Half of an onion, chopped
One clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Glaze Ingredients

1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp of dry ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
2. Cook the spinach according the to package. Add salt to taste. Drain well.
3. Fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add to spinach. Mix.
4. Using a sharp knife, slice two cavities into the top of the ham.
5. Press the spinach into the cavities to stuff the ham.
6. Put the ham in the oven for one hour.
7. Mix the glaze ingredients together. Set aside.
8. After the ham has cooked for an hour, remove it from the oven and baste with the glaze.
9. Put it back in the over for another 30 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven, and let the ham cool for 20 minutes.
11. Enjoy!

Source: My Mom

Carrot Patties

Ingredients

1 pound carrots, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup bread crumbs or matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the grated carrots, garlic, eggs, flour, bread crumbs, salt and black pepper; mix well.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
3. Make the mixture into patties, and fry until golden brown on each side.


Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients

2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1. In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
3. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.


Easter Egg Dipper Treats

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (10 ounce) package regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels or milk chocolate morsels
5 teaspoons shortening
Multi-colored sprinkles

Directions

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat.
2. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
3. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.
4. Using 1/4-cup measuring cup coated with cooking spray divide warm cereal mixture into portions.
5. Using buttered hands shape each portion into 2 1/2- x 1 1/2-inch egg shapes. (Or, coat insides of plastic snap-apart Easter eggs with cooking spray. Press cereal mixture into eggs. Remove cereal mixture from plastic eggs.) Cool.
6. In small saucepan combine chocolate morsels and shortening.
7. Cook over low heat until melted, stirring constantly.
8. Dip bottoms of cereal eggs into chocolate. Decorate with sprinkles.
9. Place on wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Does Farmer's Market Lettuce Last Longer Than Prepackaged Lettuce?


My husband and I purchased lettuce from the farmers market for the first time last week, Romaine lettuce, to be more specific. We are used to panicking about the longevity of leafy greens in our fridge, so this weekend, I was shocked to discover that over a week later, the lettuce still looked as green and yummy as the day we bought it. Not only that, but this was a head of lettuce that only cost us a single dollar.

When we go to grocery store, we usually buy prepackaged greens, which range in price from $2 - 4, so I'm not sure if this difference is that we bought a head of lettuce -- uncut and unwashed -- or if it is because the lettuce is super fresh.

Either way, we are pleased and will be buying more greens from the farmers markets in the future!

What's your experience with wilting lettuce?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010