Thursday, March 31, 2011

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Happy Thursday to you! I hope that your week is going well and your meals have been successful.

Last night I finally tried a recipe I found on that's been on the meal plan for two weeks or so. The recipe listed prep time as 15 minutes and cook time as 15 minutes but somewhere in my brain I was just convinced it was going to take longer in prep. Maybe it was just my aversion to dealing with chicken that kept me away. Either way, yesterdays prep was a pleasant surprise. As was the final result. Several bites in, I was actually surprised to hear "you made these? I thought they were store bought.". It was a great compliment. The fact that my increasingly picky and stubborn toddler approved as well was just the icing on the cake! So here's the recipe. Make sure to keep ahold of this one as I'm sure you will end up making it as frequently as I have a feeling I will be!

Baked Chicken Nuggets
Prep: 15 min, Cook: 15 min.
1-1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (I used 5 boneless skinless breasts-1 for each of us)1 cup corn flakes cereal (I used corn flake crumbs and had to add an extra 1/4 cup to cover more meat)1 tsp. paprika (I omitted)1/2 tsp. Italian herb seasoning (omitted)1/4 tsp. onion powder (omitted)1/4 tsp. garlic powder (I used garlic salt instead)
Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Cut chicken into bite-sized cubes. Place cornflakes in a plastic bag. Crush using a rolling pin. Add remaining ingredients to the bag and shake well. Gradually add chicken pieces to the bag. Shake to coat. Place coated chicken pieces on a lightly greased cooking sheet so they are not touching. Bake until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes.

I served ours with tater tots ("Crispy Crowns" to be specific). It was a great fast casual meal. Together with some different dipping sauces we picked up on a recent grocery trip (sweet n' sour, honey mustard, barbeque sauce, and ketchup), it was pretty tasty.
I hope you enjoy this easy, better than fried, version of a classic. We did and they'll be repeated again soon I'm sure.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Success seconded! Two hits in one day :)

So the brownies were in the oven and Yay! I get to sit and relax for a bit. What?! It's time for lunch?? What do you mean it's time for lunch??
That presented an issue I wasn't yet prepared for....what to do for lunch? So, looking at the bag of potatoes on the floor, I remembered a recipe/idea I came across a few weeks ago and marked for 'some undetermined future use'. Undetermined schmundetermined! Today's lunch will be Broccoli cheese topped potatoes.
I found this recipe/idea on

Vegetable Stuffed Potato

Just 4 easy Ingredients:
Cream of Broccoli and Cheese soup (I used 2 cans low-fat. Could not find an organic alternative)
4 potatoes (or one per person being served)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups frozen broccoli mix.
(I omitted)
I added some chopped ham to the mix
Rinse and scrub potatoes. Poke several times with a fork. Wrap with paper towel and microwave until cooked. (about 5-6 minutes per potato) I zapped each one separately.

Cut potato in half and smush down with fork.
Cook broccoli mixture in microwave according to the directions.
Mix soup, cheese, and broccoli mixture.
Scoop cheesy broccoli mixture over potato. Enjoy!

Everyone enjoyed this lunch. Pretty quick and easy and certainly a healthier more well rounded alternative to most lunch choices. Don't get me wrong, mac and cheese and pb&j are proven successful and mighty tasty but this is a great option when looking for something outside the box...lunch box that is. ;)

Enjoy the yummy topped taters!

Success on Sunday!

Happy Monday!!! :)
I hope you had an excellent weekend! Ours was pretty uneventful but somewhat productive and completely enjoyable. ALWAYS a great combination.

So this weekend I finally got to a recipe that I've been wanting and meaning to get to for about 2 weeks. Zucchini Brownies courtesy This is an egg free recipe which is great as I am trying to limit Justice's exposure to eggs. It's also got 3 cups of zucchini stashed in it! Brownies made healthiER. ;) Now before you get too taken aback by the 'zucchini in brownies?!?!' part, let me assure you...You'd never know!!! With the exception of the consistency not being quite brownie-like, (as the recipe says it's more muffin like than brownie), they're pure brownie! Now this recipe is designed for veggie picky toddlers that are used to sweet treats but it's absolutely perfect for anyone in the family. I had a very skeptical adult declare that he thought they were delicious. Evan hasn't tried them yet, but he had a small taste of the batter and became an immediate fan. I personally, not being a chocoholic, could have had several helpings last night! ;)

These brownies turn out moist and delicious with the consistency somewhere between brownie and muffin. They make a delicious treat, breakfast or snack and have 3 cups of zucchini hidden inside. Your toddler will never know! This recipe is also great for vegans (choose ingredients like sugar wisely of course), families with egg allergies or those who haven't introduced eggs to their children yet.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Total Time: 40 min

1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded zucchini (about 4 small - peel first)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
(I used 10x15)
Using a large bowl with plenty of space for all ingredients, thoroughly mix the oil, sugar and vanilla.
Now cream in the cocoa.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt and then stir that into the sugar and oil mixture.
Fold in the zucchini and do not be afraid. Depending on the moisture level of your zucchini, this turns out looking somewhere between chunky hot cocoa mix powder and stringy brown paste. It's ugly. That's OK. The zucchini releases a lot of moisture as it cooks.
Spread it in the prepared pan evenly and bake it for about 30 minutes or until it just springs back when touched in the center. (Don't use the toothpick test on this because if it comes out clean, they're probably overcooked.)

These were a great success and I will be making these more often. A nice treat for everyone with the bonus of a healthy addition. I may use a baking sugar sub next time. I've never baked with substitute before, so if you have any tips, I'd LOVE to have them.

Can't wait for the feedback

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A delayed post...Honey Garlic Chicken

Well this one is only 2 days late... my apologies to you.
Tuesday I decided to try Honey Garlic Chicken, another find. I got the chicken out and was all ready to go when I looked at the end of the recipe better and realized it was supposed to be broiled. That's a bit of a problem since we're without a broiler pan. Not being able to go out and get one, I decided to try baking it instead. Afterall, that was my planned meal for the day and I was all ready and everything!
This one is a definite repeat but probably not until I get a broiler pan. The chicken had delicious flavor, but was a bit dry. Broiling would help alleviate that.
So here's the recipe;

Honey Garlic Chicken
Prep: 10 min, Marinate: 40 min, Cook: 10 min.
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used 1 med-large clove)
Arrange chicken breasts in a baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Pour over chicken and turn to coat. Marinate 40 minutes. Turn on broiler. Arrange chicken on a broiler pan and place 5 inches from heat source. Broil 5 minutes per side, basting occasionally with marinade, or until chicken is opaque throughout.
I added my marinade ingredients to a medium glass jar and shook vigorously to mix then poured it over the chicken. Next time I will mix in the jar then add to gallon size zippered bag with chicken to marinate. I've used this method many times when marinating and it works better than leaving in a dish I find.
I served this chicken with corn and mashed potatoes. Nothing extraordinary as I fixed the sides after coming home from karate testing (Hyahhhhhh!!!!!)[which also accounts for the lack of pictures-my apologies] but they were good compliments to the sweet hints of the chicken.
Hope you enjoy this flavorful chicken as much as we did.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A recipe referral-Home made Graham Crackers!

I wanted to pass this one along for any and all to try. A great friend of mine, Amber, tried this recipe and passed it along. I don't have a mixer to try this one out yet but it's definitely a goal. I'm posting the recipe with Amber's notes along the bottom. This recipe is courtesy

Graham Crackers
Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, and 101 Cookbooks, because for some absurd reason that will be immediately rectified, this book is not yet in my collection.
If you’re new to graham crackers, do know that the word “cracker” is misleading. They’re moderately sweet, like a cookie or biscuit, but they do have the snap of a cracker. I can’t say that I’d serve them with cheese, but if you’ve never schmeared them with cream cheese frosting, you’re missing out.
The topping amount will make a heavy coating, like the store-bought ones. Make only half if you just want a light-to-moderate sprinkling.

Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour works well here, too)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

Topping (optional)
3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Make the dough: Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

[Alternately, if you don't have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they're very well incorporated.]

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. [This makes a traditional graham cracker shape. I rebelled and made mine into 2-inch fluted squares with one of these.]
Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Decorate the crackers: Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. [The baking time range is long because the original recipe calls for 25 minutes but my new oven -- which I suspect runs crazy hot but have yet to confirm with the actual purchase of an oven thermometer -- had them done in way less. Be safe, check them sooner. Nobody likes a burnt cracker!]

"Not too hard to make, but you have to keep cooling the dough in the fridge because it gets goopy really easily." Oh, and of course, the most important note of all "I'm not gonna lie...They are pretty amazing!"
That last one was all I needed to hear!

So I hope everyone enjoys this totally tantalizing sounding recipe and reports back immediately!
(Thanks Amber!!  <3  <3 )

Beef Stir-fry with Shrooms & Spinach

Well here's another recipe that I found and am definitely doing again! This is another find. A last minute run to the store excluded, this one is pretty quick and easy. So without further ado, I give you.......The recipe. :)

Beef Stir-Fry with Mushrooms and Spinach
Prep: 10 min, Marinate: 15 min, Cook: 10 min.
1 bag porcini mushrooms (couldn't find at 3 diff stores so we omitted this one)
3 Tbs. lite soy sauce, plus more for serving
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. dry sherry or Chinese rice wine (optional) (omitted)
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. boneless sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced (way cheated and used ground)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup scallions, chopped (omitted)
6 ounces spinach, washed, tough stems discarded (used thawed frozen organic)

Cover mushrooms with hot water in a bowl. Let soak 15 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Rinse mushrooms under running water. Pat dry and slice. Set aside. Combine next 4 ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously. Place sliced steak in a mixing bowl. Pour marinade over steak and toss to coat. Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a wok or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat. Stir-fry ginger and garlic 45 seconds. Add steak and marinade and stir-fry 2 minutes or until steak begins to brown. Add scallions and mushrooms and stir-fry 2 minutes or until scallions are softened. Add spinach and reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Stir-fry another 45 seconds. Season to taste with pepper. Serve with additional soy sauce

I made 6 servings of Minute Rice to accompany this and it was wonderful! Everyone enjoyed, although Justice wouldn't eat the rice she enjoyed the meat & spinach. I decided that next time I will double the recipe and make a little more rice. Leftovers would be delish!
Apologies for the lack of pics, it totally slipped my mind amidst the quick store run...(Thanks Nick)

Happy Stir-frying everyone!

2 easy lunch fixes

Good Monday afternoon friends!

Hope you all had great weekends. Ours was nice. Not all that eventful which is just fine by us!
I thought that I'd put up a couple of quick lunch fixes I've come up with. I frequently don't have much of a lunch but Justice definitely needs hers so I've come up with a couple of quick and easy fixes for her lately. I've discovered that Justice doesn't have typical toddler tastes as she won't eat pasta of any kind or hot dogs. What a weird kid huh?! It's made lunch (and a couple dinners) just a little tricky. So here are a couple of my concoctions for you to try;

Salmon Cresents

1 package salmon (2.6oz pouch)
1 tube crescent rolls (reduced fat for a healthier choice)
mayo to desired consistancy
spices (pepper, garlic powder) to taste

Preheat oven to 375 (or per crescent roll directions if different). In a small bowl mix salmon, mayo and spices to desired consistancy. Seperate the triangles of crescent roll dough then slice in half length wise (now you have 2 longer skinnier triangles). Add a little salmon mixture to the wide end of the triangle and roll up as normally would. Place on greased baking sheet or on ungreased baking stone. Bake 11-13 minutes or as directed on crescent tube. Makes 16 mini crescents perfect for toddler fingers (& grown up sized ones).

Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 as well as protein. Tuna certainly works too if you'd rather.


1 tube crescent rolls (reduced fat for healthier choice)
8 slices desired lean lunch meat
1 stick light string cheese

Preheat oven to 375 (or per cresent roll directions if different). Slice string cheese in half length wise then again length wise so you have 4 strips. Cut those in half width wise to have 8 short sticks. Wrap 1 slice lunch meat around each cheese stick then place at wide end of dough triangle and roll up as you usually would. Place on greased baking sheet or ungreased baking stone and bake 11-13 minutes or as directed on crescent package. Slice in 1/2 for toddlers and let cool or enjoy whole for yourself or older kids. Makes 8 full size crescents.

Hope you try and enjoy my quick creations. Let me know what you think-

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A new repeat and a no-no; recipes # 6 & 7

Good evening friends!
Well this evening's meal brought us a yummy change of pace and a universal veto. Recipes #6 & 7 are Baked Sweet-Glazed Hamsteaks and Baked Carrots both of which came from The Hamsteaks are a bit of a departure for us. The Ortega/Jantz household doesn't usually have much pork products, aside from Bacon of course which makes Everything better! In an attempt to stray from the usual chicken and turkey I thought these would make a nice change. I was right! The recipe is easy, fast and delicious! And so much cheaper than buying a premade honey baked ham (Bonus!!). Other than the last minute run to the store for brown sugar, it went quickly and was easy. The Baked Carrots required a bit more prep and didn't turn out as well. We're calling this Veto Numero Uno. :) Can't win 'em all huh?! BUT-I'm still absolutely encouraging you all to try them. Don't hesitate based on our tastes.

So here are the recipes and pics for your perusal;

Baked Sweet-Glazed Ham Steaks
Prep: 10 min, Cook: 20 min.
•1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
•1/4 cup honey
•1/4 tsp. dry mustard
•4 whole cloves
•4 boneless ham steaks, about 1/4 lb. each (I had 5)
•4 pineapple slices
Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 2-3 minutes. Discard the cloves. Place ham steaks in a well-greased baking dish. Top each steak with a pineapple slice and an equal portion of the honey and brown sugar glaze. Bake for 15 minutes.

I left ours in for about 25 minutes (I had 2 pans with a total of 5 steaks). If you make more than 4 you'll need to increase the amounts of each above by a little. I didn't put any glaze or pineapple on the 5th as it was for Justice. During baking, the steaks release some of their water so it thins out the glaze a bit, hence the recommendation to make more glaze for more than 4 steaks. ;)

Baked Carrots
Prep: 10 min, Cook: 25 min.
•1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
•1 ounce Swiss cheese, grated (I'm pretty positive I used about 3-4oz as I grated about 1/2 the 8oz block)
•1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. unsalted butter
•1/4 cup onion, minced (I used dried minced as usual and only a Tbsp or so)
•1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. all purpose flour
•1 cup skim milk, hot
•1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (cornflake crumbs as usual)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place carrots in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam 3 minutes or until tender. Transfer half the carrots to the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle half the cheese over carrots. Add remaining carrots and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion 2-3 minutes or until tender. Whisk in flour and salt to taste. Cook 1-2 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble. Very gradually whisk in hot milk and stir until sauce is thickened. Pour sauce over carrots and cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 15-20 minutes or until top is golden.

I used cornflake crumbs and let me warn you, 1/2 cup is too much. You only need 1/4 cup. Ours turned out way too 'crumby' and I didn't even use the whole amount. This dish just wasn't to our tastes, but it sure did sound good. Carrots-good. Swiss cheese-good. What's not to love? For us, it was the overall finished product but I absolutely still recommend you try this one. I hope to hear from many of you telling me how much of a hit it was for you. Let me know!!!

Justice guarding the finished hamsteaks! :)

Hope you all enjoy these new additions to the mix and can't wait to hear some feedback!

Zucchini Casserole - recipe #5

Happy Thursday and St. Patrick's Day to you!

So yesterday I tried the Zucchini Casserole recipe I found on . The recipe says it serves 6-8 and I was a little questioning given the amounts listed in the ingredients. Since it's topped with stuffing, that helps do just that, but I'd still say 'serves 5-6'.

Prep wasn't too time consuming, I'd say all-in-all, about 20 minutes. Since the cooking method once all prep is done is baking, the 45 minute cook time is no biggie.

Serves 6-8 (5-6)
3 cups cut-up zucchini (I thinly sliced them)
2 carrots shredded
1 small onion (I used a Tbsp or so of dried minced)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used organic creamy mushroom)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup melted butter
4 ounces Pepperidge Farm stuffing (I used the whole 6oz box of Stove Top Low Sodium Chicken)
1 ½ cups cooked chicken (I threw mine in the chopper and shredded it since it was cold leftovers from the other day)
Cook zucchini, onion and carrot in a small amount of water for ~ 10 minutes.  Drain.  Mix melted butter with cooked stuffing.  Add sour cream, chicken soup and chicken.  Mix and put in casserole dish.  Sprinkle top with stuffing.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I questioned at first glance whether or not the stuffing was supposed to be cooked prior to adding the melted butter and topping the casserole (I almost NEVER make stuffing), but after thinking about it for a moment and realizing it wouldn't moisten up and cook itself in the oven, I cooked it according to box directions then added the melted butter over the top. In a mixing bowl (that I had had the veggies in prior to cooking) I mixed the sour cream and the soup then added the chicken. I then put the veggies in the pan and added the soupy chicken mixture to it and mixed well. It seemed easier than trying to mix it all in a bowl then putting it in the my mind anyway. ;)

It was delicious and well received. Justice picked out the zucchini slices, I think because of their texture, but ate the rest quite happily. Evan and I both had small second helpings and there was just a little bit leftover. This one is another 'repeat' in the future! Yay!

Hope you all enjoy making and eating this one as much as we did.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tonight is nothing special... :)

Well folks, tonight's dinner will yield no new or special recipes as I've got a long day at the karate studio ahead of me. I've picked an easy to make and reheat, fairly new find for us as the guys will most likely be doing the prep and dispensing. :) This evening's meal is Kraft Macaroni & Cheese HOMESTYLE (I really need to be getting paid for this promo!!). We found this recently in the store and thought we'd give it a try. Basic, easy to make, new twist on an old favorite... It was a HUGE hit in the Ortega/Jantz house! Since I cook to feed 3 adults, a boy that eats as much (and sometimes more than) an adult, and now a toddler, we use 2 packages. I add 1lb ground turkey (a staple in our house) to finish it off for a pretty complete meal and do the optional Oven finish listed on the bottom of the directions on the back of the bag. As I type, it's cooling on the counter so that I can cover it with foil and throw it in the fridge for later. I'll have Dominic or Nick preheat the oven to 350 or so and it can be thrown in for a few minutes, covered, to reheat (although it's probable that they'll just dish it and nuke it...). There it is! Easy peasy Mac & cheesy! :D I'm posting a couple pics to help get those taste buds kicked into gear and get ya goin!

Just a quick note-Dominic suggested adding some taco seasoning to the meat to add a little more flavor, but Justice can't have that so it's been nixed for this particular 'recipe' as she loves this meal as well!!
Everyone is eagerly awaiting dinner tonight, and I have to admit, I had a hard time not digging in to it once I pulled it out of the oven!


Tomato FREE Meatloaf - New recipe's #3 & 4

Hello all! :) Well, I attempted new recipe #'s3 & 4 last night. #3 was a NO tomato meatloaf that I found on I personally, am not a meatloaf fan. It made frequent appearances in my mom's house and was never one of my favorites but in an attempt to find more options, I decided to try it. Let me tell ya now....It was Good!! :) I even had a small 2nd helping (as did Evan). Justice quite enjoyed it as well. And just a word of warning; Nick tried ketchup on it...Not a good choice apparently. LOL  As mine was made with ground turkey instead of beef, that could be the culprit but-consider yourself warned! ;) I made this, as with most of these recipes, during the late morning/afternoon and then refrigerated it once cooled. I preheated the oven to about 325 or so and threw this on (covered in foil) to reheat. It handled this quite well. I was also rather impressed because it was NOT dry. At all! Yay! So here's the recipe. My changes are in red (as always).

1 lb each of ground beef and ground chuck (I used 2lbs ground turkey)
1 cup chopped green peppers (I omitted-no peppers in THIS house)
1/2 cup minced onion (I used dried and didn't measure this much out-just sprinkled in)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used cornflake crumbs)
2 eggs
1/2 can Cream of Mushroom soup (I used 10 1/2 oz [standard can size] of Organic Creamy Mushroom)
1/2 can Cream of Chicken soup (I omitted [cream of chicken in with beef or turkey??])
1 packet dry onion soup mix
I added some celery, a few dashes of Tabasco, and some Hamburger seasoning -- quite good and the sandwich the next day was stellar!

Mix all ingredients together.

Bake in a loaf pan at 350° for about 75 minutes or until done.

I added some diced celery and it was a nice addition. Afterward, I see I probably could have used a little more cornflake crumbs, but all in all it was quite good! :)

I also made another new recipe last night, Buttermilk & Bacon Mashed Potatoes that I found on I grew up with pretty tasty skin-on, hand mashed potatoes (never instant in my mom's house) and that's what I made for years. I admit, I've done almost solely instant potatoes for the last 2 years out of laziness, but I got back to the good stuff last night. My apologies for the lack of pics for this one, they were done in a little bit of a rush after I got home late from karate (Ayahhhhhh!!!!!!). Here's the recipe;

Bacon and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Prep: 10 min, Cook: 30 min.
•3 slices of bacon
•2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (I left skin on and used about 4-5 med. potatoes)
•1/2 cup buttermilk (I added a little more when they looked a little dry during mashing)
•1 Tbs. fresh chives or scallion tops, chopped (I used dried chives)
Sauté bacon in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat 4-5 minutes, or until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain, reserving 1-1/2 tsp. drippings. (I used pre-cooked bacon and just nuked it for 22 seconds) Crumble bacon and set aside. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water about 30 minutes, or until very tender. Drain well. Return potatoes to pot. Add buttermilk, reserved bacon and drippings and salt and pepper to taste. Mash and add chives. I also threw in some finely shredded cheese as well to top it off.
These were a little dry and thick (I prefer creamy) for my taste. The buttermilk certainly adds a different flavor. I usually just add milk and butter to desired consistancy with my normal potatoes...

I hope you all enjoy these 2 recipes and by all means-let me know what you think!!


Monday, March 14, 2011

New week & a Great find! :)

Hey friends!

Just thought I'd share a few things with you. 1st off, I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Ours was pretty great. Nothing too spectacular, but a good weekend. :)
2nd- Sorry for the break all. Thursday was a bit of a rough day all in all and dinner was had 'out'! And boy, was it needed!! Friday we did burgers so there was nothing to post/report on of any significance. Last night was eventful though I tell ya. We decided to hit up Arby's after grocery shopping. I figured Justice could try her hand at a chicken strip or two and I knew she'd dig the fries. Well...let me just say...No More Eating Out For Justice until she sees an allergist! It's just too stressful for Mom and Dad. First, she choked on too big a bite of fry (no major deal) but her eyes and mouth got super red and seeing that darn near gave me a heart attack! Then, after some seriously funny faces from the little love, I softly rubbed/'pinched' her cheeks and then they got all red and splotchy. There was obviously something on my fingers that her skin was not a fan of because I barely made contact (certainly NOT enough to make her red). So there was an attention grabber! ~Sigh~
After her reaction to the Gerber meal a few weeks ago (to what we have not yet identified), it's just too much! So on top of making dinner every morning/afternoon I will also be trying to stock up on easy-to-travel-with foods for Justice. If/when we go out to eat, we'll just have to take something along for the sweet girl to eat.

At any rate, I also wanted to share with you a FANTASTIC and immeasurably helpful website I found on Thursday. It's .  I stumbled onto this site and almost danced for joy! It has, seemingly, a MILLION recipes. One of the most amazing and usable tools I've seen, maybe ever, is the Search function. Or more specifically, the Advanced Search. You can select foods/food groups you want to be EXCLUDED in recipes. You can also specify Desired Nutritional Levels as well as Prep/Marinade/Cook times. It's Absolutely Wonderful!!! Each recipe has complete nutritional information with it as well. Needless to say, I've been on that site almost endlessly finding wonderful recipes that I can't wait to try!

Back to the kitchen today with a new recipe (actually NOT found on the above site). I'll be sure to take and post pics with the recipe and results.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Recipe #2 - Chicken/corn patties

I tried this one yesterday. Again, this one is courtesy of They were delicious, my only caveat would be to mention how much prep/cook time these required. I had about an hour of prep (cooking chicken, then cutting everything) and the actual cook time was about an hour and a half. I was quite surprised at how long it took but was pleased with the result as was everyone else (Justice had them for both lunch AND dinner!). My next attempt I will be changing a few things, like using a chopper to do the chicken and possibly the corn, and finding some yummy dipping sauces. A garlicy sauce and a sweet/tangy asian style sauce would go quite nicely.

I doubled the recipe as I was looking to feed 3 hungry adults, a growing boy that out eats some adults, and a toddler. I will be tripling it next time...

Yield: 24
1 cup chicken breast – minced (approx. 1 breast)- I cooked the chicken with some garlic salt and lemon pepper for a little different flavor. It was good and light.
1/3 large fresh corn-on-the-cob
(I used frozen organic)
3 pieces of water chestnuts – finely diced
10 strings of fine French beans – finely diced
1 small red onion (about 60g) – minced (I omitted)
½ cup normal breadcrumb/ panko crumb (Japanese breadcrumb) (I used cornflake crumbs)
2 ½ tbsp cornflour
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
2 tsp cooking oil (I used olive oil)

1 tsp salt
¾ tsp sugar
¼ tsp paprika (optional) (I omitted)
Dash of pepper

1.Put chicken breast, sweet corns, water chestnuts, fine French beans and red onion into a mixing bowl and combine well. Add in breadcrumb and cornflour to the mixture.
2.Add in egg, seasoning and oil. Stir in one direction until the batter is well distributed.
3.Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan. Drop1 tablespoonful of batter into the pan and flatten slightly with a spatula/ fork. Lower heat and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Cook the patties in batches. (refer to note 2)
4.Transfer patties to a serving plate lined with kitchen paper. Best to serve warm with dipping sauce.

1.Remove the outer leaves and thin hairs (silk), wash and rinse and then carefully run a knife down the cob to cut out the corns.
2.Keep the patties manageable at a heaped tablespoon. Too large a patty will take longer to cook and the patty may break up. Use a spoon to scoop the batter and pressed it against the side of the bowl then a fork to scrape the batter into the pan.
3.There is no need to pre-cook the fresh corns.

Enjoy! Justice (and the rest of us) sure did!


New meal #1 - Cheesy cauliflower casserole

New recipe #1 was one I found on . As this site's author is out of Singapore, the measurements were in grams and Celsius. I did some conversion (and a little hoping) and tried this yummy sounding dish as a complete meal. I added noodles and ground turkey to round it out. The only issue I had was that with the addition of the noodles and meat, the original amount of sauce didn't find it's way to the bottom of the dish and some of the noodles and meat were dry. Next time I will double the amounts for the bechamel sauce. I also added some corn flake crumbs to the top before putting it in the oven to give it a nice topping.
The family enjoyed this meal and requested it be made again (with more cheesy sauce!).

Source: Adapted from Nora’s dinner (and breakfast, lunches and snacks for you to cook at home)
Serve: 4
1 medium size cauliflower
1 cup Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter
3 tbsp plain flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp mustard or mustard powder (I omitted)

2 tbsp crème fraiche (I omitted)
Salt and pepper
1.Preheat oven to 400°.
2.Grate the Cheddar and Parmesan cheese separately. Set aside.
3.Prepare béchamel sauce (creamy white sauce)
4.Melt butter in the small saucepan over a low heat.
5.Add the flour and, using your wooden spoon/ hand whisk, stir well, keeping the heat turned down low – the mixture should start to look like damp sand. This mixture is called a roux (pronounced “roo”)
6.Add the milk slowly, still stirring to make sure there are no lumps. If there are any, beat these out.
7.Bring the sauce up to the boil, then turn down low and allow the sauce to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring all the time until it starts to thicken. You now have a white sauce, also called a béchamel sauce.
8.Take the sauce off the heat. Add the mustard, half the grated Cheddar cheese, all the grated Parmesan and the crème fraiche. Stir well, and add a little salt and pepper. Stir again and taste the sauce. Add a bit more salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.
9.Prepare cauliflower (refer to note 4)
10.Put the large saucepan of water on to boil. Add a good pinch of salt to the water.
11.Wash the cauliflower, then use the sharp knife and chopping board to cut off the stem. Split the core in half so all the small florets fall apart. Add the cut-up cauliflower to the salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes.
12.It is important not to overcook it or it will go mushy.
13.Drain the cooked cauliflower very well in a colander.
14.After the cooked cauliflower it is fully drained, tip the cauliflower into a medium overproof baking dish (or 2 small baking dishes) and cover with the sauce in step (4).
15.Sprinkle the remaining grated Cheddar cheese over the top (refer to note 5).
16.Place in the pre-heated oven on the middle shelf and bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbling.
17.When finished, remove from the oven.
18.You can serve it as main meal, side dish or even as a snack.

1.To make it a complete meal, you can add cooked pasta (ie macaroni) and other ingredients (ie canned tuna or cooked salmon).
2.You can give this recipe a twist by substituting half of the cauliflower with broccoli.
3.I used Masterfood fine wholegrain mustard. You can also use Dijon mustard.
4.Alternatively, you can steam the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes.
5.Adding 4 tbsp of fresh breadcrumbs will give this dish a crispy-cruncy top

I sprinkled cornflake crumbs across the top before baking to give it a nice topping.

Hope you enjoy - Mo

Our Story

Ok so here we go. I'm starting this to get some recipes and experiences out there for anyone else looking. Here's a little bit of our backstory;

When my sweet girl Justice was just 4 months old we discovered she has an allergy. Not to anything 'typical' mind you, none of the major allergens. She's allergic to Eggplant. It was one of her brother's favorites when he was a baby so it was the 2nd food I tried her on. Oh Boy! Thankfully she was quite distracted and not really accustomed to eating "food" yet so she wasn't really getting any in her mouth. After less than a minute of trying to feed her, I realized that the whole bottom half of her face (from nose down) was Bright Red! And then came the hives. I wiped her face off as soon as I noticed and removed the food from the area. The hives were continuing to erupt and a couple of them were not exactly small. I was on the phone speaking with a pediatric nurse who was going through a few things for me to check, like breathing and swallowing ability, both of which were seemingly not affected when I noticed her bottom lip was slightly swollen as well. Since her breathing and swallowing ability were not affected, and the general redness had started to subside, the nurse advised me to just continue close supervision for the next 4-5 hours for ANY changes but that we could stay home and save us all an ER visit if there were no changes. I immediately took to the internet to find the plant family that eggplant belonged to and what else was in it. I was surprised to find that eggplant is related to tomatoes (not a shock since the seeds are identical), potatoes (regular not sweet), bell peppers, chili peppers, and tobacco (yay!). What an odd grouping huh?! Needless to say, we've carefully avoided all of those foods since. Her doctor's have agreed with our decision to also stay away from eggs (I have a slight allergy to a component of eggs). While my curious now-toddler managed to eliminate potatoes from the mix (finding and helping herself to a stash of tater tots and subsequently completely freaking out her father and I), we're diligent about avoiding the rest of the group until allergy testing can be done.

This has brought our family into the midst of a new adventure. Justice is now 15 months and is clearly "done" with baby food (of which has always been organic). She has almost all of her teeth and desperately wants to use them on 'real' food. So many of the meals that I routinely make have tomatoes or are just not toddler-self-feeding friendly. Thus began my search for healthy, toddler/family friendly meals that are tomato free and at least mostly egg free. Because of our after school schedule (both my 8 year old son and I are in karate 4-5 nights a week) I am unable to prepare a full healthy meal in the evenings and so have taken to making dinner in the mornings/afternoons for reheating later. I am conscious of what our family eats and most specifically what my children eat. To date, my son Evan, has had maybe one soda in his life and it was a lemon/lime type that was caffeine free. He has maybe 6 pieces of candy a year and maybe as many cookies. He loves his vegetables and fresh fruit. He has great eating habits. He doesn't get a lot of salt and actually looks at labels now to see what the sugar and protein contents are. Justice has't had juice yet, likes some fruit, loves all the vegetables she's had (especially sweet potatoes and spinach), had a tiny bit of cake for her 1st birthday photos, and downs at least a full cup (10oz) of milk a day. She's a great water drinker too. None of her baby foods had preservatives or anything added (especially sugar).

So-what follows will be our trials with new recipes and my/our experiences with food and cooking. I was able to find some pretty great recipes online that are toddler/family friendly, relatively easy to make, and tomato free. I'm constantly on the search for new and more things to try.
Hopefully this can help or at least lend some support for anyone else going through similar issues.
Happy searching, cooking, and eating to all!