Thursday, August 27, 2009

To Die For Salad. With Lemon Agave Poppyseed Dressing.

Happy Friday all. Happy Not So Fat Friday. Haven't spent much time in the kitchen this week so excuse my absence. Instead, I've been organizing the house & getting ready for Tristan's 6th birthday party next month. These parties take all my focus & attention. I can't wait to share the details!!!!!

So I thought tonight was going to be another boring dinner until my dear friend Kacey & mommy chronicler emailed me to say how much this salad put her in the better mood she needed. The same salad she sent me a recipe for a week or so ago. Along with a cute card.

She does things like that. She also sends plastic cutlery in the mail because it'll go with the theme of Tristan's party. Yep, she does things like that. And I love her for it!

So I picked up the ingredients & made it for din din tonight. Hubs already ate but still had a bowl & then asked for a second. It was absolutely delicious. Very light & refreshing & a great example of simple flavors coming together for a beautiful combination.

2 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar ** (used agave nectar syrup)
2 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp poppy seeds
6 oz pkg baby spinach
1/2 large cucumber cored & sliced
1/2 red onion chopped
8 oz strawberries, trimmed & sliced thin
1/2 cup toasted almonds

Combine juice, zest, sugar, vinegar, olive oil & poppy seeds. Combine remaining ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad.

{Food for Thought}

I have a thing about sugar. Ya see, I rely on my consumption of adult beverages to give me all the sugar I need so I am very careful about my other sources. I am also not a big sweets person. When I saw the 1/3 cup sugar I got scared & almost dropped my white wine. So, I decided to reach for the Agave Nectar that I always have on hand for Mexican Mojitos. Don't look at me that way!

Anyhoo, 1/4 cup Agave can be substituted for 1 cup of sugar. Use your judgement or just use the sugar. I put in about 1/6 cup of sugar & a couple of squirts of Agave. I may use all Agave next time.

As for the almonds, you can use slivered or sliced or whole. I wasn't sure what my Crafty Queen of Repurposing used so I bought sliced almonds & put them in a pan over medium heat & tossed them frequently until golden.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

Have a great weekend everyone. I have some family in town so there will be cooking & playing. Look out for some stuffed party shrimp, mini milanese pork tenderloin & a new way to cook burger sliders.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Cake

My son started kindergarten yesterday but it was today that marked the first time in 5 years I didn't walk with my son through a school door. Instead, we did the drive by drop off. But he was amazing & pumped up for kindergarten. And I am equally excited for him. Teary eyed but so excited!!!!

I hope everyone has had a great start to a new school year!

So, onto more sweetness. This chocolate cake in a mug seems fairly popular but I had never heard of it before until I started blogging. I had always meant to try it but then I saw the recipe in Good Housekeeping this weekend. It was more my curiosity than a love for chocolate that made me try it right away.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional -but not if you're a chocoholic)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug & mix well. Add the egg & mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk & oil & mix well. Add the chocolate chips & vanilla extract & mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 2 ½ minutes. The cake may rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little & tip out onto a plate if desired.

{Food for Thought}

While it was not nearly as good as regular baked cake, I can see it satisfying a craving for chocolate cake without all the fuss. I also think this can be played with a lot. Maybe add a dash of kahlua or almond extract. I also wouldn't have enjoyed it without an addition like whipped cream. If you cook it too long it will be rubbery. I used an oversized rounded mug but if you use a regular straight one then it will be easy to cut into slices.

Please Visit Blessed with Grace for more TMTT!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Peppery Hush Puppies

My son is starting Awana Bible School on Sunday.

My son
is beginning kindergarten on Monday.

My son is turning 6 with a huge Spongebob Bikini Bottom pool party in September.

My son.

He's ready for it all. But am I?

On the other side of things & almost just as sweet are these hush puppies with a twist. A twist that made me like them more than any restaurant versions I have tried. They went perfectly with a fish fry last weekend.

2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup pancake mix
2-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, pancake mix, sugar, baking powder & salt. In another bowl, beat the egg, buttermilk, oil, jalapenos, onion & hot pepper sauce. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

In an electric skillet heat 1 inch of oil to 375°. Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls into oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm. Yield: 4 dozen.

{Food for Thought}
The batter appeared a little loose so I just added just a tad more pancake mix. They flatten a bit when you drop them in the oil but it was a nice shape. Just don't expect big round balls. Even with the jalapeno pepper & hot sauce, I didn't find these to be too spicy at all. Just a very nice flavor.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Old Fashioned Coconut Creme Pie

My darlin' 5 year old Tristan is a picky eater so I am usually putting two different things on the table for dinner. I rotate all the things he loves & that's that. So, when he had an actual request for a coconut creme pie I had to oblige. Even if the only reason was because the gang from iCarly was eating coconut creme pies like they were going out of style on one episode.

I did my usual & researched online since I never made one ~ looking at the differences & reading reviews. This one had 453 reviews with a 4 1/2 star rating. Impressive. Even so, Tristan didn't care for it which doesn't say much but I really enjoyed it. I am not even a pie person & still found myself with a slice each day after. Next time I will try making my own crust.

3 cups half & half
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour & salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut & the vanilla extract. Pour into pie shell & chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.

Top with whipped topping & with remaining 1/4 cup of coconut.

Note: To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan & bake in a 350 degree F oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

{Food for Thought}

While everyone's fridge is different, this definitely needed 4 hours to firm up in the fridge.

Visit Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Roasted Veggie Pitas

I feel a little lame today because this recipe is just too simple. But it's not lacking in the taste department. I just threw this together last weekend for lunch after having extra veggies floating 'round the fridge. It was so delicious that I found it to be post-worthy & I was a little proud of myself. Hubs loved it too. And this definitely qualifies for Not So Fat Fridays!

Assortment of veggies, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Garlic, minced
Whole wheat pita rounds
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Balsamic Vinegar

Pre-heat oven to 400. Combine all veggies (I used zucchini, onion, red & green pepper) with oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Place on shallow baking sheet & roast for 25-30 minutes depending on how soft you like your veggies. Toss halfway through.

Pre-toast your pita rounds just until lightly toasted. Do not cut through them. The uncut rounds curl up a bit after toasting, making a nice little shallow bowl for the veggies. Top them with some veggies. Place a little mozzarella cheese on top. Broil for just 1-2 minutes until cheese melts & pita round is a little crispy. Drizzle with just a little balsamic vinegar.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

Hope all you have a great weekend. As for me, I have to finish creating invites for my son's 6th bday party next month & handle some organizational projects around the house.

Oh, & take a shower for the first time in my totally finished bathroom. Yep, today the glass shower doors were installed so we are totally done now. You saw the first stage of progress here with a little before & after. You can see we ended up taking down the medicine cabinet which just didn't belong anymore & replaced it with a picture that really works. We have a jungle theme in our bedroom which I will get around to showing soon so the bathroom really flows well with it.

{This is how the shower used to look. Old!}

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shrimp Fritters

I love shrimp. At 8, I remember always ordering shrimp scampi at restaurants. I love it fried, broiled, thrown over pasta. Dipped in sauce, dipped in butter. Or stuffed into little wontons. I just love shrimp. Sooooo, when I saw this recipe in Better Homes & Gardens I just had to make it right away.

Such a fast, simple & delicious treat , I made these for the 2nd time last week when my parents came over for dinner, after a long day at work. That's how easy they are. And they're not deep fried so you don't have to worry, my 'fraid of frying folks!!!!!!

1 lb peeled & deveined cooked shrimp, tails removed
1 egg
6 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp seafood seasoning blend

For the sauce:
1 lime
1/3 cup mayo
1 tblsp honey
1 tsp seafood seasoning

For the sauce, shred 2 tsp peel from lime. Cut lime in half. Juice half into bowl. Stir in peel, mayo, remaining seafood seasoning & honey. Set aside.

Coarsely chop shrimp. In bowl beat egg. Add shrimp, 2/3 of the onions, the flour & 2 tsp seafood seasoning. In a large skillet heat ¼ cup cooking oil over medium heat. In 1/3 cup portions, carefully drop shrimp mixture in hot oil. Slightly flatten with spatula. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden & heated through. Repeat with remaining shrimp mixture. Makes about 8-10.

{Food for Thought}

The shrimp mixture will be fairly loose so you need to carefully drop it in the oil by bringing your cup or spoon all the way down into the pan. But if you think it's too loose then add just a bit more flour. I used a 1/3 cup measuring spoon which is ideal. When you flatten it slightly with the spatula a little of the mixture might break loose. Just lightly pat it back in.

By the time you flip them they should stay together easily but I made sure by using two spatulas & the side of the pan. Otherwise, these really are very easy to make. I also added a bit of garlic powder to the mixture.

I could take or leave the sauce so if you don’t feel like being bothered, just buy a nice seafood aioli to go on the side. These were also surprisingly amazing the next day after the flavors blended more.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

I just love these red baskets. I find them at restaurant supply stores where I also buy the paper that goes in them. Cute, huh?

Visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yo Vinny, lemme get a slice over heeere!!!!

Ah, pizza. The word conjures up memories of my childhood growing up in the Bronx & Yonkers where there were mom & pop's & joey & vinny bag-o-donuts pizza places around every other corner. There IS something about NY pizza. A few down here in FL come close so I don't feel like I am missing out much, except for the friends I shared those old memories with.

Pizza at home may not come close but that's ok, it's just plain ol' fun as is the endless possibilities of toppings! The 1st recipe is from Publix. My girlfriend Tam came over with some she made & we devoured it. We made it the next night, that's how good it is!!

The 2nd is somewhat of a creation, although I got the idea of the diced tomatoes from a magazine. Less sugar & fat than jarred sauce. I loved it as much & by lunchtime the next day it was even better slightly warmed up!


1 lb fresh pizza dough
¼ cup flour
2 tblsp olive oil
1 1/3 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
¾ cup Buffalo hot wing sauce plus 4 tblsp
¾ cups Chunky blue cheese dressing
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

As the package says, let pizza dough rest for about an hour at room temp. Preheat oven to 400. Sprinkle flour over work surface. Roll dough into a large circle to fit your pizza pan or baking sheet. Brush top lightly with olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes until slightly golden.

Meanwhile, combine chicken & wing sauce. Spread remaining wing sauce evenly over crust. Cover with half of the mozzarella cheese then top with the chicken mixture. Spoon or drizzle small amounts of the blue cheese dressing over the top of pizza. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake about 10 minutes or until cheese melts & crust is crisp.

{Food for Thought}

This recipe came from Publix & was intended for 2 pizzas, each being an 8x10 oval with different toppings. Instead, I wanted one big Buffalo Chicken pizza so I almost doubled the ingredients above & used the entire 1lb dough for the one pie. So, feel free to use a little more or less than what is listed, depending on your own preference. The recipe also called for grilling the crust first for about 4-5 minutes. I didn’t want to deal with that so I pre-baked the dough in the oven for just 10 minutes.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}


1 tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
6oz spinach
1 lb fresh pizza dough
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained well
2 fully cooked chicken sausage links, sliced thin
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

Saute onion in pan for a few minutes. Add garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add spinach & cook until wilted. Set aside. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 & bake pizza crust until slightly golden, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle tomatoes over crust. Top with spinach mixture. Add chicken sausage & then shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake about 10 minutes or until cheese melts & crust is crisp.

{Food for Thought}

I made this for my parents this week for dinner so just to make something simple a little special I bought fresh mozzarella & shredded it myself. It was delish & worth the extra cost. The chicken sausage was packaged & Italian style.

I haven't made much pizza in the past & have just gotten on a roll so if you make pizza differently where you don't pre-bake the crust then that's great. I just did it because it seems the crust doesn't get crispy enough for me & then while it's cooking I can prep the other ingredients.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

Coming Soon to This Pizzeria: mediterranean style roasted vegetables with feta and perhaps a Shrimp & Spinach in a white bianca sauce.

{Have a great weekend everyone.

I will be posting soon about a lot of goodness going on here lately}

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fun-ion Time!!!!!!!!!!

It's 2-fer Tuesdays. 2 recipes today & both involving onions. I thought this was one of the best sandwiches ever & I loved these homemade onion rings more than any I've ordered anywhere!!!! It may seem strange to pair this duo, what with all the onions, but I really was in the mood to make both. And it was actually fun!!!!!!

Many people have commented about frying things at home & how nervous they get but don't be! I don't fry a lot but what I do fry is totally worth it & easy!!!!!!!!! I urge you, dare you, encourage you, to try these onion rings. They're not like fast food, dripping with grease & the flour breading is very light!!!!!


1 large onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 tsp sugar
Pinch salt
4 tsp spicy brown mustard
3 tsp horseradish
2 tsp honey
8 slices bread like sour dough 5 grain
12 slices deli ham
4 slices low-fat Swiss cheese

Coat a medium skillet with nonstick spray & place over medium heat. Add onion, sugar & salt to skillet. Cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until lightly browned. Remove from heat. Stir together mustard, horseradish & honey. Set aside.

Spread 4 slices of bread evenly with mustard mixture, then layer 3 slices of ham over each piece. Place about 2 tblsp onions on top of ham then place 1 slice of Swiss on top of the onions. Place the remaining bread over cheese.

Spritz both sides of sandwich with nonstick cooking spray & cook in a nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes or until cheese has melted, turning halfway through.

{Food for Thought}

The original recipe called for regular whole wheat bread but I bought some fresh bread at Publix, some type of sour dough 5 grain bread & I wouldn't change a thing. You want something a little bigger than whole wheat & a little more special. As for the special sauce, I recommend doubling up if you're like me & like to spread a bit on each side.


2 large sweet onions
2 ½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs
3 tblsp water
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Vegetable oil

Cut onions into ¼ in slices. Separate into rings. Place in a large bowl & cover with buttermilk & soak for 30 minutes, stirring twice.

In a shallow dish, beat eggs & water. In another shallow bowl, combine flour, salt, chili powder, cayenne, sugar, garlic & cumin. Drain onion rings, dip in egg mixture, then roll in flour mixture.

In medium to large skillet, heat 1 in of oil to 375. Fry onion rings, a few at a time for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

{Food for Thought}

These weren't spicy at all, just a nice little sweet kick. When you fry the rings, just let the golden color be your clock. Once the outside is golden on both sides the onion ring is perfect on the inside.

Visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!!!!