Thursday, September 29, 2011

Garlic Chicken Stir Fry with Quinoa, Peppers and Basil

Well. I finally bought my first box of quinoa, and now I feel like I have finally joined the party, even though I'm late. I have seen many wonderful recipes over the blogs, some vegan or vegetarian, some not.  I just wasn't sure how I wanted to prepare it. I bought my Organic White Quinoa at Trader Joe's, where else? Then I saw this wonderful recipe on the back of the box,  it was simple to prepare, and I had all the ingredients in the house, so I had to make it. We loved this dish, even Scott.  The quinoa had a nice fluffy texture,with a nutty crunch, which makes it unique and is a great alternative to cous cous, or rice.  It can be served as as side dish, or a main dish like this one. You can also make it vegan or vegetarian very easily. Quinoa is so versatile, it can also be used  in soups, salads, breads, and puddings. Now I have an eye on Leanne@Healful Pursuit's  Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake .  Yum! I also have an eye on Kim@Liv Life's Quinoa Salad with Avocado Black Beans with Chipotle Lime Dressing.

As you are reading my blog today, I am at my garage sale today and tomorrow.  Wish me luck, and hope that it doesn't rain.

For those of you who are not familiar with Quinoa, pronounced  "keen-wah", the quinoa plant is native to the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia and Chile on the continent of South America. .It is a grain like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds, and is not a member of  the grass family, so it not considered a grain.  It is more related to the spinach and beets family. There are many different varieties of the plant, wild, and red, just to name a few.   The quinoa we eat today has been cultivated in South America for around 5000 years. It is definitely an "Ancient food. Quinoa has only been in the U.S. since the 1970's.

The virtues of Quinoa are many.  Quinoa is high in protein, but the protein it supplies is a complete protein,  meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. It also has Lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis. It is also gluten free. There are many other health benefits, too numerous to mention here, so click on the link to read more about this wonderful food,  Quinoa.

Garlic Chicken Stir Fry with Peppers and Quinoa Serves four From Trader Joe's

**Always rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly, Quinoa seeds have a bitter-tasting coating, which is removed by rinsing in cold water several times, and then drained.

 1 cup Quinoa, prepared with chicken stock, according to package directions (so you'll need two cups chicken stock) I used TJ's low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, or chicken breasts
1 tbsp o1ive oil
 1small onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (I used green)
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
20 leaves fresh sweet basil, julienne
grated parmesan cheese

**Always rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly, Quinoa seeds have a bitter-tasting coating, which is removed by rinsing in cold water several times, and then drained

Cut chicken into one-inch pieces. Heat large nonstick skillet over high heat and add the oil. Add chicken and saute for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add onions, bell peppers; saute for one or two more minutes; add garlic and saute until peppers become slightly limp, but still bright, about one to two minutes; season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from heat; add basil and quinoa. Toss until basil wilts; garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serves four.

I recieved no compensation or products from Trader Joe's.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Whole Grain Apple Crisp

When I think of Fall, I think of crisp juicy apples and eat them daily.  I put them in my oatmeal, in salads,and of course desserts, like apple crisp and apple pie.  There are many versions and recipes for "Crisps and Crumbles."  I have been making  the same apple crisp recipe forever, since the late 60's.   Now that I'm trying to cut back on the bad carbs, I wanted to change my apple crisp recipe. So I used whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour, and subbed Splenda brown sugar for regular brown sugar.  I was already using rolled oats. I still had to use butter, because with the Smart Balance, it doesn't get "crispy."  I tried that once before, Still I wasn't sure how the crisp would turn out using the whole wheat flour.  To my amazement, the crisp turned out very well, and not different from using the AP flour in  appearance and taste.  However the whole grains have more nutritional value.

This Apple Crisp recipe is very easy to make with just a few ingredients, and goes together quickly.  It is very good warm, even with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but not for me now. Well, maybe I'll take just a bite out of Scott's dish. Everything in moderation, right? This recipe is for 9x5 loaf pan and serves 2.  The recipe may be doubled for an 8x8 pan, or tripled, for a 13x9 pan, depending on the size of your apples.

Apple Crisp -for a 9x5 loaf pan, serves 2

 I use a pastry blender to make the topping.  If you don't have a pastry blender, you can cut in the butter with two knives.

1/3 c. brown sugar or Splenda  I used Splenda Brown Sugar
¼ c whole wheat flour, or AP flour
1/4 c. old fashioned rolled oats
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter
3 Jonagold, Yellow Delicious, Gala,  or apples of your choice
More cinnamon to taste.

1. Combine first 5 ingredients and cut in butter until crumbly, like small peas, and refrigerate until the apples are peeled, sliced and cored. .
2. Peel, slice and core apples. I use an apple slicer, which makes this step much easier. Sprinkle more cinnamon over the apples, if desired.

3. Spray a 9x5 pan and pile apples into pan. Take topping out of fridge, and spread the topping over the apples.  Bake in 375 degree oven 35-40 min., until apples are tender and topping is golden. Then, turn oven up to 400 degrees for five min. to "crisp" topping. Cool on rack. Serve Warm-Enjoy Fall!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scott's Turkey Chili with Five Beans

Weekends, Fall , Football, and tailgating, speak to chili.  I'm sure that there as many chili recipes as, people in the US lol,  maybe not, but everybody adds their own little touches to their chili recipe, Scott makes Turkey Chili with five different types of beans, and everything but the kitchen sink. Now, don't let the long list of ingredients scare you away. If you  don't have all of the spices or Mexican chocolate, you can certainly substitute.  However, he does add a can of vegetarian refried beans to thicken the chili, and give it the nice rich color and thickness, Regular refried beans are made with  lard, in case you didn't know, vegetarian refried beans are not.

When we were first together, he used ground beef and just opened the cans of beans and added them, without draining or rinsing them. The sodium  mg. were through the roof.  Now he uses Ground Turkey, and drains the beans.  He still won't rinse them, but I'm working on that. Last year, he was making this chili and added 2 jalapenos, and way too much chili powder and adobo seasoning, and he started coughing.  I was in the great room, which is right by the kitchen, and I started coughing, too.  Then we saw a cloud like vapor rising from the pot, Atomic chili.  Atomic chili was so hot, that even, Scott couldn't eat it. 

Whether you like your chili mild, a little spicy, or very hot, beans or no beans, just make a big pot of chili, and savor the flavors of the chili and the sights and sounds of Fall. Enjoy!

Scott's Five Bean Chili
1 lb ground turkey
2 c chopped onion
1 green pepper chopped
6 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 jalapeno thinly sliced w/seeds
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp Adobo seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1 28 oz can and 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes,
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 oz Mexican chocolate
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup red wine or 1 cup of beer Scott used red wine this time
1 can of refried beans
Juice of 1 lime

  •   In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, brown turkey.
  • In a large pot add Tbsp oil, saute onions, green pepper, and garlic. When onions are almost transparent, add jalapeno w/seeds.
  • Add all spices
  • When onions are transparent, add diced tomatoes with juice.
  • Add browned ground turkey
  • Add all beans,  drained, except refried beans.
  • Add chocolate and cinnamon
  • Add wine or beer, and heat thoroughly.
  • Add refried bean, simmer for 1 hour
  • Right before serving, add lime juice.
May be served with chopped onion, shredded Mexican cheese, sour cream, or whatever you like on your chili, it's your call and your chili.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fresh Herbed Chicken on the Rotisserie and I Won Again!!!

 We love to make chicken on the rotisserie grill because it turns out so darn good, crispy on the outside, and so moist and flavorful on the inside, and healthy besides. We used no salt  in this chicken, and we don't eat the skin, which is really hard not to do.  We used all of our fresh herbs, basil, lemon thyme, and rosemary from our patio, and placed them  under folds of  the skin on the breast,  which made it taste even better. First, we rub olive oil all over the outside of the chicken, after it is washed and patter dry. Then, place the fresh herbs under the skin of the breast. In the cavity we placed four cloves of garlic, the zest of two lemons, and then slices from the those two lemons, and about 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Truss your chicken with string. Here is a link  to a video on how to truss you chicken,  How to Truss a Chicken. The main reason to truss a chicken is to  make sure that the breast is juicy. If you don't truss the chicken, the air circulates in the cavity, and the breast dries out before the legs and thighs are done .Mmmm. maybe Scott should see this video, but there is more than one way to truss your chicken. Rotisserie. per the instructions of your grill. You can also roast in the oven at 325 degrees F, until the internal temp of the chicken is 165 degrees F.  Once chicken has reached the internal temp of 165 degrees F, remove from grill or oven, and let rest for 15-20 min, before carving.  Enjoy!

We had fresh green beans from Pauli's garden, steamed, with garlic, lemon thyme, and lemon juice, half a baked sweet potato, to go with the herbed chicken. It was so flavorful with all of the herbs, Yum! You also have a lot of leftover chicken for sandwiches, salads, tostadas, or tacos, just to mention a few.
Now, I won the giveaway from Wendy,The Weekend Goumet for the Kernal Seasons gift package.  This is the second time that I have won a giveaway from Wendy.  She is my lucky charm for sure.  Thank you, Wendy for this wonderful popcorn package! All of the products are Low/No Fat, reduced sodium, All Natural, No MSG.  There is a Popcorn Sprizer, four popcorn seasoning;s Chocolate Marshmallow, Nacho Cheddar,  White Cheddar, and Butter,  Also, in the package was a bag of popping corn, a bag of Aged Cheddar popcorn, and Movie Theater Butter popping oil.  Who doesn't love popcorn?  I see a popcorn party in my future.  Thanks Wendy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Walnuts

"Baking is like chemistry..." I saw that quote on someone's blog last week, but of course I can't remember whose blog it was.  If you know whose blog has that quote, please let me know, so I can give them recognition and a shout out.  That quote has been rattling around my head for last week, like an old song that you can't think of the person, who made it famous.

I have been baking for over 50 years, since I was about 8 or 9.  I was in 4-H Clubs of America and made cookies for the County Fair. Since then my baking skills have progressed. I am sure glad that I hadn't seen the "Baking is like Chemistry", when I was younger, because I never liked Chemistry, and might have been "turned off" to baking, Like my Grandma, who never used recipes or measurements, a pinch of this, a handful of that,  I have forged ahead with pretty good results, but I do use recipes, sometimes. I have adapted many recipes, and not given one thought about chemistry, until last week when I saw the "Baking is like Chemistry" quote. 

You see, I wanted to start baking with whole wheat flour again.  Years ago I baked with whole wheat flour when I was " Earth Mother", but got away from it. I have since forgotten the texture of baking with whole wheat.  Thanks to the Internet and cookbooks, I always look at a jillion recipes, before I adapt one to my liking.  Besides using whole wheat, I knew that I wanted less sugar and fat, that most recipes had. This time was different, because the "Baking" quote was rattling around in my head. How will the whole wheat flour react with less sugar, with Greek yogurt?  Should I use half whole wheat flour, half all purpose flour?  I decided to use all whole wheat flour, King Arthur brand, Greek yogurt, Splenda, egg whites, and Smart Balance, and of course bananas, cinnamon, and   walnuts. The bread turned out so well.  It is more dense, than if I had used half AP flour, but isn't heavy like a rock. It is very moist. thanks to the Greek yogurt, and has just enough sweetness, thanks to the ripe bananas, and the crunch of the walnuts.
 If you have never baked with whole wheat flour, I urge you to try this quick bread recipe for Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Walnuts. You won't be disappointed.  Whole wheat is a complex carb which can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Let me know how your bread turns out, if you try it. Deelicious!!  It's healthy and tasted good at the same time, My husband has peanut butter on his slice for breakfast.  Enjoy it! Next time I have to try Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Bread.  Stay tuned!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Walnuts
 Adapted from Cooking Light
  • ¼ c Splenda or ½ c brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light butter, softened or Smart Balance
  • 1 1/2c. mashed, ripe bananas, about 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 6 0z   container Greek Yogurt, plain for less carbs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine Splenda and butter in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, yogurt, and egg whites, beat well, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; stir well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating until blended. 

Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350º for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until pick inserted in middle comes out dry, Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Cool on rack. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Italian Chicken and Sausage Stew?

I made this Italian Chicken Stew?, when the Chicago Bears football game was on.  It was a rainy, dreary day, perfect for making a soup or a stew to chase away the chill in the air and fill the house with wonderful smells coming from a simmering pot on the stove. This is another recipe from Joy Bauer's cookbook,  Slim and Scrumptious.  As I was pulling ingredients out of the pantry, I was sure that I had a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes.  When I looked at the can it was 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes. Now the quandary,  would I go to the store to buy a can of diced tomatoes now, go to the store tomorrow to get the diced tomatoes, or just go ahead and use the crushed tomatoes? WWBD, (What Would Becky Do?)  If you have read my blog for anytime at all, you knew that I would roll with what I had on hand at the moment. If Scott had been cooking, he would have waited to make the stew.  What would you have done?

As you can see in the picture, the stew is quite saucy, and my husband called it pasta sauce. He made linguine, and ate his "stew" over the linguine. To me, it has many more ingredients than pasta sauce.  I say it's Stew, and he says pasta Sauce.According to Wikipedia,  A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, beans, peppers and tomatoes, etc.), meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used. Whatever you call it, it is very good and  healthy.  The stew is low in fat, sodium, and carbs, but full flavor, and bursting with vegetables. The stew has diced sauteed chicken breasts, chicken sausages, red pepper,celery, onion, garlic, oregano, diced or crushed tomatoes, okra, and fresh or frozen green beans, basil,  thyme, fennel seeds. I used fresh basil and thyme, TJ's Garlic Chicken Sausages, and NO OKRA.! I do not like okra. If you like okra, feel free to put it in your dish.

This is a wonderful one pot dish, what we like to cook for leftovers, and lunches, or it would feed a wonderful football crowd. Serve with brown rice or  whole wheat pasta (if you must),  and crunchy bread, (if you are not watching your carbs), and a green salad. Enjoy!

Italian Chicken and Sausage Stew  Serves 6

Adapted from Slim and Scrumptious by Joy Bauer

1  ½ lb (boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cups (¾ lb/340g) okra, sliced-didn't use
3 sweet Italian chicken  or turkey sausages, fully cooked and sliced into rounds
2 tsp dried basil or 4 tsp. fresh, chopped basil
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
¼ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat a large 4½ qt Dutch oven. Cook chicken with a tablespoon of oil until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate.

Sauté onion, garlic, celery, and red bell pepper with another tablespoon of oil until tender. Next, stir in basil, oregano, thyme, and fennel seeds, followed by tomatoes, okra, (If used) chicken, and sausages. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and allow stew to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if necessary. I certainly didn’t need water.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Granola Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts

I have been craving cookies for a long time and hadn't baked any cookies in forever, it seems.  I have seem many yummy recipes across the blogoshere. However, I had a physical recently with a cholesterol test, and mine came back at 226, last year it was 190.  How can that be? I am 5' 3 1/2 " tall and weigh 111 lbs We eat low fat low sodium, because of my husband's bypass. I was stymied, for sure. What could be causing the rise in my cholesterol this past year?

My lifestyle and diet hasn't changed over the year, except I stopped eating oatmeal for the summer. However, I am a year older, and my Mom's cholesterol was 300, had two heart attacks, and my dad had a heart attack at 83 with a subsequent bypass, so heart disease runs in the family. I do have trouble doing cardio, due to my nerve damage, but I try to do Pilates.  Now, I didn't have blog until the latter part of last year.  Do you think that having a blog can raise your cholesterol?  Have I been eating way too many carbs?  When I bake something, I try to give away most of what I bake. Now, I am really looking at the carbs, as well as the fat and protein in foods. Would I ever be able to eat cookies, cakes, muffins, again?

As fate or karma would have it, shortly after my blood test I won Claudia@Blogs got Heart, giveaway, and these two books landed on my porch.
Somebody or something was sending me a message.  Thank you again Claudia.  I certainly got a wake up call,  I thought that I had been eating healthy, but evidently that wasn't the case. Now, I have three months to lower my cholesterol, or take the meds. Now, I'm eating oatmeal again, trying to do cardio, and watching my carbs and dairy. Also, much to my husband's chagrin, I'm adding more whole grains into our diet.   (He's already on the meds for high cholesterol.) I'll let you know, how it's going.

Now back to the cookies.  As I was looking through Joy Bauer's book, Slim and Scrumptious, I saw a recipe for Soft Oatmeal cookies with Cherries and Chocolate. It had too many carbs, so I modified the recipe. The recipe called for 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 AP flour, and I used all whole wheat flour. I also used Egg Beaters in place of the eggs, Splenda Brown Sugar for the regular brown sugar, dark chocolate for the semi sweet chocolate and walnuts for the dried cherries. The recipe also used rolled oats, applesauce, and only 1 Tbsp canola oil. These Granola Cookies, turned out so well, not overly sweet, chocked full of dark chocolate, and walnuts with vitamins.  These would be a good, healthy, breakfast cookie or snack with a glass of Almond milk. You could also sub mashed banana for the applesauce, and add peanut butter.  I think that I'll try that next time. I made larger cookies and some smaller. Even my husband liked them, and he usually doesn't like "healthy foods."

This recipe makes about 32 cookies, I think.  The reason I don't know is because I had a cookie thief in my midst. Does she look like a cookie thief? Bailey?
 Oh Yah, she was the culprit. When I went to take a picture of the cookies, I left the cooling rack with the rest of the cookies, too close to the edge of the counter, and she grabbed a few, I believe.

Now, Here is the recipe for these yummy cookies, enjoy!

 Whole Wheat Oatmeal Granola Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts Makes 32
Adapted from Slim and Scrumptious by Joy Bauer

11⁄2 cups quick- cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
1  cup whole wheat flour
1 ⁄4  c Splenda brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1 ⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt- I didn't add
1 ⁄3 cup  dark chocolate chips 60% cacao
1 ⁄2 cup walnuts
1 ⁄2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 egg whites, lightly beaten, or ½  c Eggbeaters
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat one or two baking sheets with oil spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rolled oats, whole wheat  flour, Splenda. baking powder, baking soda, and salt until the ingredients are evenly
distributed. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts, and stir to combine.
3. In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, canola oil, egg whites, and vanilla
extract, stirring until smooth.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the applesauce mixture. Stir until just combined
and no streaks of flour remain.
5. Drop scant tablespoons or teaspoons of cookie dough onto the baking sheets, and press them lightly with your fingers to flatten the cookies slightly. (To prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers, dip your fingers in water before pressing
on the cookies.)
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies start to turn golden brown at
the edges. Let them cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes; then transfer
them to a wire rack to cool completely.  (Watch you dog!) Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Marinara Sauce with Garden Tomatoes Plus a Few Fresh Additions

My neighbor, Farmer Pauli, gave us a lot of San Marzano tomatoes from her garden.   Scott and I made a wonderful home made, fresh tomato Marinara sauce with the tomatoes. I didn't hesitate one minute to click on Gina@SP Cookie Queen's recipe for  Fresh Marinara Sauce. Now we didn't have 20 lbs. of tomatoes, but only about 5 lbs, but they were beauties. You would have to adjust Gina's recipe according to how many tomatoes you have.
Also, we weren't going to can the sauce, just freeze it, if we had any left.  My husband likes left overs. We had enough sauce for three dinners for two people, three lunches for my husband. I even gave a container of sauce to Pauli.  She has been giving away all of her tomatoes. That's just the way she is, a wonderful friend. 

My husband just didn't want "plain" Marinara sauce, so we made a few additions.  We had a pound of fresh mushrooms and a fresh green pepper, so they went in the sauce, as well as two links of  Chicken Sausage with Jalapeno. We got them at Trader Joe's and they are wonderful, and are fully cooked.  They have many varieties and are low in fat and sodium, compared to traditional sausages.  We only had the ones with jalapeno, but the sausages with garlic would be good, too.
Now, I know if you are Italian, you are rolling your eyes.  It was very good, a little spicy, but it added a kick to the sauce, like a Fra Diavolo sauce, "Brother Devil.". Thank you Wikipedia The kitchen smells so good as the sauce cooks away. Now if you don't want a spicy sauce, you can use a different type of sausage or meat, or make it totally vegetarian,  That's the beauty of Marinara sauce. Make it your own We served this wonderful sauce over whole wheat Rotini for fewer carbs.  (I now have to watch my carbs, but that's another story). 

Thank you Gina for the inspiration and recipe for the Marinara sauce, and Thank you Pauli, for the gorgeous tomatoes, and all your hard work in your garden.

I did not receive any compensation from Trader Joe's. The opinions expressed here, are those of the author.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grilled Ratatouille Boats

I saw this recipe for Grilled Ratatouille Boats in the Rachael Ray mag and was intrigued. I had never cooked eggplant before and wasn't quite sure what was in  Ratatouille.  Anyway. I have seen pics on the web, and  I also knew that it was Disney's Chef rodent.  I can"t even say the "R" word on a food blog. 

Ratatouille, don't you just love to say the word, Rat-a too-ee?  Or I might have to ask Jill Colona -Le Blog for help.  (I still remember my 4 yrs. of French from high school though. Amazing, since I can't remember where my keys are.)  I "googled" Ratatouille and it is a vegetable stew originating in Provence, France. It is comprised of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, garlic, and zucchini, all of which are stewed together (perhaps after an initial sauté to better develop their flavors) until the mixture is very soft and the flavors have blended together I didn't put peppers in mine.. It is often flavored with a hint of bay leaf and thyme. I used basil.  It is most often eaten hot, but is also delicious served cold on a hot day.

*Before you start cooking the globe eggplant, you need to salt it to remove the bitterness.  If you are using a narrow Japanese eggplant, you do not need to salt.  That's per SP Cookie Queen , Thanks, Gina. I had a globe eggplant, so I had to salt. it.  First, peel your eggplant, and cube it or slice, according to your recipe. Then you  generously salt your eggplant and place in a colander for about one hour.  Salting helps pull out juices that carry bitter flavors, and it collapses the air pockets in the eggplant's sponge-like flesh, thus preventing it from absorbing too much oil and getting greasy.  Rinse the eggplant in plenty of water to remove the salt, firmly squeeze a few pieces at a time in the palm of your hand to draw out almost all the moisture, and then pat the eggplant dry with paper towels. Thorough drying is important; squeezing out excess moisture will give you a less greasy result, and a silky texture.

These Ratatouille Boats make a great side dish. lunch  or light dinner with all the wonderful flavors of the zucchini, eggplant, tomato, garlic and basil topped with cheese. Voilà! Enjoy! Parlez-vous français?

Now your ready to start Grilled Ratatouille Boats.

Grilled Ratatouille Boats Adapted  from Katie Barreira, Every Day with Rachael Ray
  • 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise**
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 eggplant, cubed, and salted *
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Make zucchini boats in a flash by scooping out the seeds and a bit of flesh from the center for a hollowed-out shell that can be stuffed and grilled or baked in the oven.

1.      Scoop balls of flesh from the center of the zucchini to create boats (see tip for help); reserve the flesh balls. Preheat a grill to medium-high.
2.      Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, the eggplant and zucchini balls; cover and cook for 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in the basil; season with salt and pepper.
3.      Fill the zucchini shells with the ratatouille, sprinkle with the cheese and grill, covered, over medium-high until the cheese is melted and the shells are slightly softened.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Grilled Porks Chops with a Simple Basil, Lime and Garlic Marinade or Rub

We were going to grill pork chops again, and wanted a quick marinade for them. Using a marinade or rub, can give the meat a a boost of flavor, without adding salt.  Because we still have a ton of fresh basil, we wanted to make a simple marinade or rub with the basil.  We took some basil, chopped it up, 4 cloves of garlic, chopped, the juice of 1 lime, and some olive oil.  that's it.  Stir it all together, pour in a plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or longer. You get such moist. flavorful pork chops, with the zing of the lime, and garlic and undertones of the basil. If you want to use this as a rub, just omit the olive oil, so simple and delish! We used this marinade on pork, but I can't wait to try it on chicken, turkey burgers, or shrimp, Yum!

Basil, Lime Garlic Marinade or Rub for 2 large chops
1/4 c fresh, chopped Basil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 olive oil

For Marinade:
Combine all in ingredients in small bowl and mix well. Pour marinade in large plastic bag, add chops, and marinate for several hours, or overnight.

For Rub:
Combine first three ingredients, omit olive oil.  Rub over meat to be grilled.  Grill to desired preference. Enjoy!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Tenth anniversary of 9/11 this wekend.  My heart and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones and friends, the survivors, and first responders. of this terrible event. I do not know how you will commerate this Anniversary, if at all, but I'm  going spend time with my loved ones. Remember, Freedom isn't Free. Never forget 9/11!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Banana Peach or Peach Banana Mini Muffins, You decide

I made these yummy muffins recently for a brunch that we went to. I wanted to make them fairly healthy.  You could also use half whole wheat flour, half all purpose flour. but I didn't want them "too healthy", if you know what I mean. Otherwise, some people might not eat them.  I also wanted to use some peaches that I had, and to put the Greek yogurt in it.  I love the texture of the baked goods, when you use the Greek yogurt, so moist and delicious. I looked at some banana bread recipes, and ultimately decided to modify a banana bread recipe.
Banana and Peach Mini Muffins

Then I added peaches to the banana batter.
Peach and Banana Mini Muffins
Well, which one are these muffins, Banana Peach or Peach Banana Mini Muffins?  Anyway that you look at them, they are delicious.  Make them for yourself and decide!

Next time I make these, I will use half whole wheat, half all purpose flour:)

Banana Peach or Peach Banana Mini Muffins  Adapted from Cooking Light
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. mashed, ripe bananas, about 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup diced ripe peaches
  • 1 6 0z   container Greek Yogurt,  I used Peach
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • I tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sugar
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine sugar and butter in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, yogurt, egg whites, beat well, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; stir well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating until blended. Fold in diced peaches.

Spoon batter into 24 cup min muffin pan or 12 cup muffin pan coated with cooking spray. Cupcake liners may also be used.

 Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 min, or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 5 min. on a wire rack; remove from pans. Let cool in pans 5 min. on a wire rack; remove from pans. Sprinkle  warn muffins with cinnamon sugar mixture.  Let cool completely on wire racks.

Note: To make one 9-inch loaf, spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350º for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chocolate Butterfinger Birthday Cupcakes

I made Chocolate  Butterfinger Cupcakes for my friend, Joanna's birthday.  She likes Butterfingers, so  I wanted to make Butterfinger Cupcakes.  I looked at several on the web. but I knew that I wanted a chocolate cupcake with  Butterfinger pieces on top of the frosting.  Then I mixed in Butterfinger pieces in the batter, too, for a richer flavor.  I didn't want a filling per se, you have to watch your calories, you know:)  I used a Chocolate Butter Cream for the frosting.  These cupcakes are OMG delicious. They are chocked full of Butterfinger flavor and pieces.  If you like Butterfinger candy bars, chocolate , and peanut butter, you will love these cupcakes. Happy Birthday Joanna!

I used 1 small 8 pack of the Fun size Butterfingers in the picture and 1 2.1 oz  candy bar. I was going to buy a bag of the Butterfinger Fun size, but Meijer Grocery Store only had Butterfinger "Snackerz", which had a soft middle. I had never seen these before, and now the original version is hard to find. That has happened to me with Milk Chocolate Hershey's Kisses, which I use to make Peanut Blossoms, and even Nestle's Toll House Semi Sweet chocolate chips  These companies make more variations of the original type candy or baking products, and then you can't find the original product that you fell in love with. That's my pet peeve. What is your pet peeve? 

Have a great Labor Day!

Chocolate Cupcakes Adapted from Chockylit
makes12 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoons baking soda
¾ cups milk  I used almond milk
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

1 8 pack of Fun size Butterfingers
1-2.1 oz Butterfingers candy bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Measure out everything but the eggs, directly into your mixer bowl.
2. Mix on low speed just until incorporated.
3. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs, beat on high speed again for 2 minutes.

5. Chop candy bars into 1/2" pieces.
6. Gently fold in 1 cup Butteringer pieces into the batter.
7. Reserve remaining Butterfinger pieces to put on top of frosting.

Measure out into cupcake pan lined with cupcake papers. A 2″ ice cream scoop works great for this. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a rack to cool completely before frosting. Frost with chocolate Butter Cream Frosting and top with remaining Butterfinger pieces. Enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Turkey Burger with Fresh Herbs and a Kick

Just in time for your Labor Day BBQ, is this wonderful turkey burger chocked full of all the fresh herbs from your garden or patio, and a kick, if you want. Of course there is the star of my herb garden, Basil, the most proliferous on my patio. Then we have Rosemary in the supporting role, Lemon Thyme, and last but not least, our friendly Cilantro.  All of these characters, plus a few other ingredients, blend to give an Oscar winning performance. To top it off, you can add your favorite hot sauce, red pepper, flakes Sriracha sauce, or your favorite choice of heat. If you don't want a kick, you don't have to add any.  This burger is so moist and bursting with all of that herby flavor, with that exciting kick at the end.  This burger is low in fat, sodium, and full of flavor. This isn't your typical, dry boring turkey burger. Enjoy! This is my husband, Scott's, original concoction, recipe.

This recipe uses a lot of the herbs from your garden,  I have so much basil  now..  How do you preserve your herbs? Do you dry them? freeze them?  Let me know! Here is one of my basil pots...
And here the other one.
If anyone who lives near me wants some basil or walnuts, send me an email. Yes, we have falling leaves and lots of walnuts, Oh no! There is a bumper crop of walnuts. We have to pick them up, before, Bailey, the Wonder Dog, plays ball with them. This is just the beginning...

I want to wish all of you a Safe and Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Turkey Burger with Fresh Herbs and a Kick
Recipe from Scott, Baking and Cooking, A Tale of Two Loves

1 med red onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/4 lb. ground turkey  We used 93/7 mix
1/4 c. chopped fresh Cilantro
1/4 c. fresh chopped Basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh  Rosemary
1 Tsp. chopped fresh Lemon or regular Thyme
1/3 c. low sodium, Soy sauce
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbsp. Extra virgin Olive oil

Saute onion is olive oil until soft. Add Garlic and hot sauce, continue sauteing a few minutes.  Let cool. Save Pan, if cooking on the stove or you may grill these also. Add fresh herbs, soy sauce, pepper, and cooled onion mixture to ground  turkey. Mix well and form into patties.  We made four patties. Grill or saute burgers in frying pan sprayed with cooking spray, until juices run clear, about 7 min per side. Yum!

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