Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Moving Day!!!

I've been meaning to move this blog for quite sometime, but I got caught up in writing at Tales From the Juice Box since it's baseball season and that seemingly is consuming my life! But I finally found a spare moment and have moved the site.

Please rebookmark me at - all of the old content is there and that's the only place that new content will be added. And yes, I'm starting new content again! In fact, I have new feature - Forty by Forty that begins this week and will be adding another new one in a couple of weeks - Eat the World!

So come join me a the new location and we'll cook up a storm!

Friday, March 11, 2011

When All Else Fails...

When I haven't planned for dinner or when we're hungry and need something quick or when I just don't "feel like cooking" I have a go to meal. When all else fails, we have sausage and peppers. There are lot of ways to serve it, it's hot and it's comforting, and so it's an all around winner in my house.

My favorite way to eat sausage and peppers is on a nice thick crusty piece of bread. It's messy and delicious.  However, I'd have to plan in advance for that since I'd need fresh crusty bread on hand. Sometimes, I don't want to plan. Sometimes, flying by the seat of your pants ends well. This was one of those nights.

There's no real "recipe" that I use for this but I'll give you the jist.  I start with slicing a couple of bell peppers (I like using red and green, but only had green on hand) and slicing one nice sized white onion. The slices don't have to be perfect or super thin as the peppers and onions will cook down nicely regardless of size, but if you're in a real hurry, the thinner they are the quicker they become soft and pliable!

While I slice up the peppers and onions, I put links of Italian Turkey Sausage on the stove to cook. Now, I like hot Italian Turkey Sausage, but if you're not a fan of spicy, then the sweet is equally good.

Over medium high heat in a nice big skillet add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, then the peppers. Let them cook a few minutes before their friend, the onion, joins in the party.

When the peppers are soft and the onions are transluscent and just beginning to carmelize, add a couple of cups of marinara sauce. Now you can use the jarred if you like, but you know how I feel about that. Hopefully, you've been cooking along with me and have some of Lindrusso's Magnificent Marinara on hand! Mix the veggies and sauce together and lower the heat to medium or medium low. If you keep it on high...your stove will look like it has the chicken pox as your sauce splatters. Ask me how I know. ;D

While you've got all of this going on, throw a pot of water on to boil and cook up some of your favorite pasta. We like fettucine in this house and I had some on hand, so into the pot it went. Now if you have some good crusty bread, just slice it about 6 inches long and cut it open to stuff with the sausage, peppers and sauce!

When the sausage is done cooking, removing it from the pan and slice it into bite sized pieces. Take the sausage bits and toss it into your veggies and sauce.

End result? Dinner.

Monday, February 14, 2011

When Your Heart Breaks on Valentine's Day.

I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day. I've always thought that if you love someone you should show them by how you act and how your treat them all throughout the year, not just one predetermined day that Hallmark has created into a monstrosity. Today, I really didn't like Valentine's Day.

The morning started with the weeone and I heading to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. You see, the weeone's a pretty healthy kid. At a month shy of 9 years old, she's been on antibiotics twice - ever. She has asthma, and I talked all about her need to breathe a couple of years ago. What I never talk about is the acid reflux that often accompanies asthma in kids and that she's struggled with for several years. Lately, it's been out of control and today we found out it's probably not acid reflux she's been dealing with all this time.

Is this really that big of a deal? Probably not, but there was something about the weeone crying on an exam table because she has to have an Endoscopy and 24 hour esophageal probe inserted. There was something about her hearing that despite being of normal weight because of all the GI issues, she needs to lose weight. There was something about the perfect little weeone not being so perfect that was hard to hear on Valentine's Day.

The toughest...while sorting through her stash of Valentine candy from her school friends tonight she made a "I can definitely eat this"pile and a "the Gastro would say I shouldn't eat this" pile. Oh, and there was a "mom loves this candy" pile too. Sweet kid.

Food's about to change in this house. It's a good thing for both of us and I know we try to eat pretty healthy as it is, but some things are going to become definite no-go foods and there will be lots of new things I'm sure we'll try as a result of all of this.

Is this really that big of a deal? Definitely not, but there was something about Valentine's Day this year.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Incredible Edible Egg!

We like eggs at night in this house. I know I'm not alone in this phenomenon. There's a reason that plenty of restaurants serve their breakfast menus all day and it's because of eggs. That's my theory at least.

You see, eggs are warm and comforting and right. Eggs are the only perfect protein on earth (they contain every amino acid your body needs). Eggs are just a little bit of happiness.

Eggs with lots of really yummy stuff in them? That's, um, or breakfast, Call it what you will. It's a meal and it's not just good, but good for you!

Quiche makes a regular appearance in our house, but Frittatas? Not so much. No particular reason for this other than the fact that I love the creamy goodness that is quiche. I thought it was time to give the Frittata a fair shake.

I didn't photograph the cooking of bacon because you guys see me cook bacon all the time...but it never hurts to look at cooked, crumbled bacon. I think God shows us he loves us by giving us bacon. It's got to be in my top 10 favorite things to smell and to eat.

Onions - I need to just grow them I use so many!  I took my mandolin and sliced some yellow onion into pretty thin slices.  I also drained and squeezed all the moisture from 2 packages of chopped frozen spinach. You need to squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Then in a pan on medium high heat, toss in a tablespoon of olive oil, the spinach and the onions and sautee them for about 5 minutes, adding salt and pepper as you do.

While those veggies are doing their thing, go in search of eggs. You'll need about 8 if you're working in a 10" skillet. Crack the eggs into something (I used a measuring cup), add about 1/2 cup of any cheese you'd like (I used Colby Jack since I had some grated already).  I think Swiss is always great with spinach  if you have that on hand.

Next you simply add your eggs and cheese in with your veggies. Stir everything up to combine it and let it cook a couple of minutes until the edges of the egg are set and cooked.

Move the skillet into a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the egg is cooked through.

When it's all cooked and ready, you're left with a really colorful and tasty meal.  We had ours with grape tomatoes and toast, but you can serve it with anything that strikes your fancy.

Oh! And one more thing - this is really good 3 hours later when you want a snack! ;D

Bacon, Onion and Spinach Frittata
Serves:  6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 of a large yellow onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted and drained of all liquid
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 organic eggs
1/2 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat an ovenproof 10 inch skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil, onion and spinach, cooking for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the eggs and cheese, stirring to combine. Let cook on the stove until the edges of the egg is set.  Move the skillet into the oven to complete cooking, about 10 minutes or until the middle is set.  Serve warm.

Nutritional Information: (serving is 1/6 of frittata) Calories: 208, Fat: 11g (sat fat: 3g), Protein: 12g, Carbohydrates: 17g, Fiber: 1g

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tackling the Scary Beast

Sometime over the weekend the weeone and I always go through my vast piles of magazine pages I've ripped out or bookmarks on my computer of my "I want to try" recipes. If I plan on making 4 new things this week, I let the weeone pick 2. She gets to control exactly half of the menu. It could be the sides, the entrees, but half. This accomplishes a couple of things. #1- She's willing to try anything that she picked, and #2- She wants to help cook whatever she picked.

Last week one of the weeone's picks was Lobster Risotto. Shocked? Yep, I was too. I mean, what 8 year old says, "Lobster Risotto sounds like a good choice this week"? Apparently, mine. She's an adventurous kid. What can I say.

Here's the thing- risotto is a scary beast.

I've never understood why. I've made it on several occasions in several variations, and always with success, but there's something about risotto that seems "undoable". Is that a word? If not, I think it should be. You get my drift though, right? It seems like it's hard to make.

Interestly enough, several food magazines took the challenge of risotto on in the past couple of months, hoping to prove that risotto is NOT a big scary beast - risotto is actually easy-peasy.

I started with these three lovely lobster tails. Aren't they cute?

With no bodies, I couldn't let them swim in the ocean, but I DID let them swim in a bath of chicken stock and water!  They boiled for about 4 minutes to cook them through then came out to cool down for a bit.

Once the lobster tails were cooled, I split them down the back and removed the meat.  Now, don't toss the shells, we have plans for them!

The shells went into a ziplock bag and I then I took all of my frustration out with a meat tenderizer. ;D Yep, I crushed them. I took the crushed shells and tossed them back into the pot of stock / water to let the lobster flavor take over the liquid. This took about 20 minutes.

While my stock was being "lobsterfied" I diced up the lobster meat. I didn't want it too small, but bite sized.

Once the stock was ready I could really get started. I melted some butter and tossed in the Arborio Rice, letting it toast in the butter for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Here's where the fun really begins. You start by adding 1 cup of your hot lobster broth (that you've strained the shells out of) into the rice. STIR CONTINUOUSLY. Yes, I used caps. It's important. So you stir constantly until the liquid is almost completely absorbed then you continue to add the rest of the broth, 1/2 a cup at a time stirring always and adding only when the broth is completely absorbed from the last addition of liquid.

Once you've added all the broth, you should have a nice creamy risotto that's been infused with your lobster broth - YUM! Take it off the heat, add some peas and your lobster tail meat and...

Voila - you've got lobster risotto! Now, there are only 5 ingredients in this recipe, but it can be time consuming. Just know that it's gonna take at least an hour and you will be heavily involved for at least 30 minutes (stirring, mostly). I employed the weeone for a good bit of stirring, so I advise you procreate just for this purpose.  It's handy to have those small people for these tasks!

I thought this was a really tasty treat of a meal. The weeone picked out the peas and lobster and just ate those and declared the risotto "too creamy" for her. Oh well. She tried. Maybe her tastes will change eventually and we'll have risotto again. But on the upside, she said we should eat more lobster!


Simple Lobster Risotto

Cooking Light

Total: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)


  • 4  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3  (5-ounce) American lobster tails
  • 3  tablespoons  butter, divided
  • 1  cup  uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
  • 3/4  cup  frozen green peas, thawed


Bring broth and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lobster; cover and cook for 4 minutes. Remove lobster from pan; cool for 5 minutes. Remove meat from cooked lobster tails, reserving shells. Chop meat. Place shells in a large zip-top plastic bag. Coarsely crush shells using a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Return crushed shells to the broth mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Strain shell mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving broth; discard solids. Return broth mixture to saucepan; keep warm over low heat. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture, and cook for 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 2 tablespoons broth mixture. Add the remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total). Remove from heat, and stir in lobster, the reserved 2 tablespoons broth mixture, 2 tablespoons butter, and green peas.
Sustainable Choice: The American lobster population is well managed in Canada and the U.S.

Nutritional Information

10.7g (sat 5.8g,mono 2.6g,poly 0.9g)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Keep You Warm on a Winter Night

*Note to readers:  I learned this week that the 2 spaces I was taught to put after a period ends a sentence is technically incorrect these days. I guess that's what I get for learning to type before computers were commonplace. So, I'm going to try with all my might to break that nasty habit. If you catch me double spacing, let me know...there might be something in it for you!*

When it gets cold outside we all crave hot comfort foods. It might be the only time I crave stew. I grew up eating stew on a somewhat regular basis because my father's a fan, but I've never been a big stew eater and the recipe I'm about to share with is the first time I've ever cooked stew in my life! Can you believe it?!?!?!  Shocking, I know.

So, as a complete stew newbie, I relied heavily on a recipe, as in - I followed it EXACTLY - and I never do that! But it seemed like the thing to do with something I'd never tried before. So here's the scoop - it was easy peasy!

I started, as I often do, with diced onion in olive oil. This time they were joined by well chopped carrots and garlic. I cooked these for a several minutes before removing them from the pan, and setting aside.

Meanwhile, I'd been trimming and cubing a 2# chuck roast, which I then dusted in flour before sending into a hot dutch oven with olive oil. I browned the beef on all sides (this was done in 2 batches). It took about 5 minutes per batch of beef to get it all browned nicely. Then the beef was removed from the pan as well.

Into that same dutch oven went a cup of vino. This allowed all the beef bits to come off the bottom of the pot and join in the party! That cooked down for about 5 minutes before it was rejoined by the beef, onion, garlic and carrots from earlier. They were joined by diced, peeled plum tomatoes, beef broth, mushrooms, oregano, thyme, and a bay leaf. This was brough to a boil and then simmered at a lower heat for 45 minutes, covered. Then it was uncovered, joined by some sliced carrots and cooked for another hour at which point the basil and parsley were added.

This was a meal that was simple, hearty, all cooked in one pot and made everyone pretty happy! Well, the weeone didn't "love" it, but she ate the meat out! I'd make it again - so one set of thumbs up!

Italian Beef Stew

Cooking Light 

Total: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)


  • 7  teaspoons  olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 1/2  cup  chopped carrot
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  pounds  boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1  cup  dry red wine
  • 3 3/4  cups  chopped seeded peeled plum tomato (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 2  teaspoons  chopped fresh oregano
  • 2  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1  (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 3/4  cup  (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped parsley


1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add onion and chopped carrot; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.
2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add half of beef to pan; sauté 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure.
3. Add wine to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping pan. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 5 minutes). Return meat and the onion mixture to pan. Add tomato and next 6 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, and stir in sliced carrot. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, and parsley.

Nutritional Information

13g (sat 3.9g,mono 0.8g,poly 6.6g)

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Family Flashback

Before we talk about things I've cooked...the weeone and I are happily back in our little abode! The floors are refinished and beautiful and *almost* all of the boxes are unpacked...maybe, just maybe, my lazy arse will get to wrapping that up this weekend!  In the meantime, we've eaten Mexican, Chinese, Sandwiches, Mac and Cheese...yep - all from restaurants!  Oh, wait - I made soup the other night, so I've, um, er....cooked!  Oh well - here's a meal from last week -----

There are about six meals that immediately take me back to my childhood.  Last week, I decided to pull out one of those for dinner.  It's no accident that Beef Stroganoff is one of my father's favorites and I had been imposing on my parent's hospitality for a little over a week.  Just seemed like the right thing to do.

Now, I don't have the recipe my mom used when we were kids and I've only made Beef Stroganoff a few times in my life, but I looked over a few recipe options and blended a few of them together to come up with what I think was a tasty and pretty healthy meal.

I started by slicing a 1 lb sirloin against the grain into about 1/4" thick slices and then sauteeing it until it was all nice and brown.

Once the meat was brown on all sides, I pulled it off the heat, and dumped it into a bowl.  To the hot pan of beef juices, I added diced onion and a bunch of sliced mushrooms.  Now, I've got to say that I generally don't eat fungus.  It's a known fact among family and friends, however, in beef strokin'-off (as my friend Ashley calls it and makes me giggle) mushrooms are heaven.  I don't know why....maybe I need a shrink.

Cook the mushrooms for 10 minutes or so until they're nice and soft and then dump them in that bowl over there with the beef.   Now your hot pan is empty again!  Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in it and then add a couple of tablespoons of know...make a roux, it's what we do!  Once that's good and blended, I slowly added about 1 1/2-2 cups of beef broth, whisking the whole time so you don't get icky lumps.

 If the weeone hovers over you watching closely to see if you secretly add any ingredients she would otherwise not eat, it will not speed up the process!

Now, once I cooked the "sauce" down for several minutes allowing it to thicken, I added the beef, onions and mushrooms, stirring to get them all hot and bothered again.  To that I added some sherry followed by sour cream, stirring until it was the perfect consistency and color.

While all this is going on, you'll need to cook either some rice or egg noodles to pour all the yumminess over...but that's really all there is to it!

Voila!  Dinner is served....

Beef Stroganoff
Serves 4-6

  • 1  pound  boneless sirloin steak, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 ounces mushrooms 
  • 3/4  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cup  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4  cup  dry sherry
  • 3/4  cup  reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4  cups  hot cooked egg noodles 
  • Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

Slice the sirloin against the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices that are no more than 2 inches long.  Over medium high heat, brown the beef on all sides.  Set the meat aside.  In the same pan, sautee the diced onions and mushrooms for about 7-10 minutes or until the onions are transluscent and the mushrooms are soft.  Set the mushroom mixture aside with the beef.  Melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour until the mixure is smooth.  Slowly add the beef broth, stirring the whole time to incorporate it without lumps.  Simmer for several minutes until the sauce thickens.  Add the beef and mushroom mixture back into the sauce as well as the sherry and sour cream, mixing and heating everything through.  
Serve over hot egg noodles.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 352, Fat: 11.7g (sat 5.3g, mono 3.9g, poly 1g), Fiber: 1.8g, Cholesterol: 87mg, Iron: 3.1mg, Sodium: 355mg, Calcium: 40mg