Friday, April 30, 2010

Turkey Sausage and Tortellini Soup....

In spite of the warm weather, as previously mentioned, I get "tastes" for things.  This soup is light and has a spring look to it.  The bright mixed vegetables and the flower looking tortellini remind me of spring.  It is simple and very delicious!  Freezes well.  Makes about 8 servings.

Turkey sausage & tortellini vegetable soup

1 lb. turkey sausage, casings removed
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 quarts homemade chicken stock or water with a couple of tablespoons of Better Than Bouillion
2 1-lb packages frozen mixed vegetables
1 lb. frozen tortellini
Salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large soup pot over medium high heat, cook sausage, breaking up into small pieces, until fully cooked. Drain if necessary. Add carrots, celery, and onion. Continue cooking about 15 minutes.
2) Add chicken stock and continue over medium heat for 30 minutes. Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain, set aside.
3) Add frozen vegetables, simmer another 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Food Math 101....

I had a situation with my older guys recently.  I came across several large boxes of candy.   This makes the hair on my neck stand on end.  Anyway, I got to thinking how much I love to bake and the treats I provide for my family.  I love a good cookie or a piece of fresh fruit pie.  No artifical colors, corn syrup, or hydrogenated fats.    I then did a little research on how to calculate grams of sugar into an actual teaspoon/tablespoon measurement.  I also did some calculating on the boxes of candy, or shall we say, the contraband.....

Keep in mind that the recommended amount of sugar per day is about 40 grams.

Here is how it goes: 
Every 4 grams of sugar translates to 1 teaspoon of sugar.....

So this 4 oz. package of Skittles actually has three servings...about 32 little pieces, 150 calories per serving..

There are 29 grams of sugar per serving....translation:

29 divided by 4 = 7.25

7.25 teaspoons of sugar for each of those little piles of candy.....

7.25 divided by 3 (three teaspoons/tablespoon)

2.42 tablespoons of sugar per serving, nearly 2 1/2 tablespooons per serving....

Looks like this:
Now, does anyone ever really eat just one serving of a box this size, it's only 4 ounces for goodness sakes!

Want to see what the whole shabang looks like?

Here you go:
29 grams of sugar x 3 servings = 87 grams

87 divided by 4 = 21.75 teaspoons of sugar
21.75 divided by 3 (three teaspoons/tablespoon) = 7.25 tablespoons
There are 8 tablespoons of sugar in 1/2 cup...

Just shy of 1/2 cup of sugar, in ONE 4 oz. box.....

450 calories.....basically a meal....

Isn't this astonishing?  The actual sugar measured into tablespoons and cups is very eye opening.

At least when you make something homemade, it is made with real ingredients.  It has fat, flour, for me, usually a whole grain like whole wheat flour or oatmeal, eggs, and maybe some flavoring.

The human body knows what to do with it. 

Show this to your kids.

By the way, one average 2 1/2 " homemade chocolate chip cookie contains 9-11 grams of sugar per serving.

Is it any wonder that there is an obesity problem in our country?

Please share with everyone you love.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting....

This is one of those "go to" recipes for just about any gathering.  It is made in a jelly roll pan, so you get many servings out of the recipe.  This is another one bowl recipe that goes together in minutes and will become a family favorite, I promise!  There is nothing like your loved ones requesting something YOU make.  Again, this is a sweet treat that is made with REAL ingredients, so bake with love and enjoy!

Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin

1) Evenly coat a 18 x 13 x 1” jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350’.
2) In a large mixing bowl, add flour through salt and mix well. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and add oil, eggs, and pumpkin. Mix well, do not over mix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness.  Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Add milk a teaspoon at a time until you get a good consistency to spread over cake. Ice cooled cake. Refrigerate.

**Note** you can lighten up the frosting by using only 4 tablespoons of butter and increase the powdered sugar by 1 cup.   You will need to add more milk at the end.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What's on my mind.....

Chorizo....homemade, made with turkey instead of incredibly fatty pork, yes, this is good...
Breakfast skillet, with homemade turkey chorizo, crispy oven fried potatoes...eggs over easy...
Spicy chicken wings, oh yeah, with homemade light bleu cheese dressing, yes, I said light.
Salads...lots of salads...with really delicious "goodies."
Cinnamon rolls..cream cheese frosting, of course...
Easy fall off the bone ribs...homemade BBQ sauce...did I mention easy?
Warm bleu cheese potato salad...
Oh yeah, pies...blueberry...peach crumb...toasted coconut cream...with homemade pastry cream, of course...

These are the things that I've been thinking about.  These are the kinds of things I'm working on.

I don't know about you but we are eating out less and less these days.  Truly there is nothing you can eat in a restaurant that you can't make even BETTER at home!  Please feel free to let me know if there is something you'd like to see on my blog. I LOVE requests!

Have a great evening.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grilled Yogurt, Garlic, & Rosemary Marinated Chicken.....

This is a very interesting way to marinate chicken.  The tang of the yogurt with the lemon juice really make for a tender result, and what's not to love about rosemary and garlic?  Make it a day ahead for the best flavor.    

Grilled Yogurt, Garlic, and Rosemary Marinated Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts with skin and bone, or 2 lbs. chicken pieces of your choice with skin and bone
1 ½ cups plain fat free yogurt
5 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh or bottled
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6-8 springs fresh rosemary
1-2 large zip bags for marinating

1) In a small mixing bowl, add yogurt through pepper and mix well.
2) Pull skin up from each piece of chicken creating a pocket. With your hands, put 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt marinade and a sprig of rosemary under the skin, rub additional marinade over the back side of the chicken, place in a gallon size zipper bag, add any remaining yogurt marinade to the bag. Place bag of chicken in a large bowl and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
3) Heat grill on high for 5-10 minutes and clean with grill brush. Turn heat down to medium. Place chicken pieces skin side down on the hot grill. Allow to cook for several minutes (5-8) before turning. Adjust heat if it is cooking too fast. Cook approximately 45-55 minutes.

If you’d like to spend less time at the grill foil line a cookie sheet and bake at 350’ for 35 minutes, then proceed to the grill. Cook an additional 15-20 minutes on heated grill.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fresh Pineapple Cake with Caramel Sauce.....

This is soooo amazing!  This moist cake is a one-bowl recipe, so simple.  I used fresh pineapple in the cake and for the garnish.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla icecream and a drizzle of caramel.  So versatile, serve all by itself, as shown above, or with cream cheese frosting.  (recipe below)  Enjoy!

Fresh Pineapple Cake

2 ¼ cups flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs, beaten
¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
¾ cup pureed fresh pineapple
1 cup finely diced pineapple
Caramel sauce, optional
Vanilla icecream, optional

1) Preheat oven to 350’. Coat a 9 x 13” pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl add flour through cinnamon and mix well.  Make a well in center and add the rest of the ingredients.
3) Mix until just blended, do not over mix. Pour into pan and bake for 45 minutes. When a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean it’s done. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Add a small amount of milk if necessary to get the conistency you like.  Ice cooled cake. Refrigerate covered and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Simple Supper-Rigatoni with Meat Sauce.....

This is truly delicious.  You can use any combination of ground meat you like.  I recommend using hot italian sausage, after all ingredients are added, it has just a little kick.  Double or triple the recipe and freeze to enjoy on another hectic night.  Just boil pasta and dinner is on the table in minutes.  Serve with baby frozen peas, yummers!  

Simple rigatoni with meat sauce

¾ lb. lean ground beef
¾ lb. hot (or mild) Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 24 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 24 oz. can water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
16 oz. package rigatoni
Parmesan cheese

1) In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, cook beef and sausage until cooked through, drain well. Add diced onions and cook until translucent, 7-10 minutes. Add garlic, cook about 2 minutes.
2) Add the tomato paste to the meat mixture, cook about 7 minutes, stirring often to caramelize the tomato paste. Be sure to stir often, it can easily burn. Add crushed tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, allow to simmer about 20 minutes, stir occasionally.
3) Under cook pasta by 2 minutes. Put pasta back in the pan and add sauce, cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stir gently.  Top with parmesan cheese, serve immediately. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank you, Jessica!

Jessica, a fellow blogger posted a comment regarding Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.  I thought I'd posted  her comment, but something happened....could it be the margarita I'm enjoying on the deck while blogging?....probably not a good idea!  Anyway, she said that if I was truly inspired by the show, to go on line and sign the petition, so I did.  Here is the link:

We all need to do our part for the future of our children.  I'm thrilled that a celebrity chef has taken action, one from another country no less!  Thank you Jamie Oliver!  Let us all take action to become healthier.  Baby steps.  We can do it!

Have a great week!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.....

Hello everyone!

Anyone watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?  I love it!  It's very much what I'm all about, getting everyone in their kitchens and using good, real ingredients.  Yes, I do sweets, but the recipes contain all REAL ingredients.  As always, sweet treats must be enjoyed in moderation. 

Have you noticed the foods that are coming into season?  Strawberries and asparagus.  So many more are just around the corner.  Try to fill your cart with good produce, healthy whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat pasta, lean meats, and low fat dairy. 

Let's all strive to elilminate processed foods.  Here are some things I do not bring into my house and the alternatives I do:

NO to Soda,  YES to juices such as apple, orange,  and grape that do not contain corn syrup.
NO to Processed/packaged  cookies, YES to home baked goodies with real ingredients.
NO to Fruit roll ups/candy, YES to plenty of fresh fruit, grapes, pears, bananas.
NO to sweet lunch drinks, YES to water for lunch.

These are just a few things that can make a big difference.  If you have any suggestions you'd like to share, please do!  Feel free to email me.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

John Flanagan's Beef Marinade.....

This is an excellent marinade submitted by John Flanagan.  He recommends using flank steak, which is what I did when I first made the marinade...there was nothing left to photograph!  I made it again, this time with sirloin in the form of kabobs...delish!  I doubled the recipe so that I'd have enough to marinate the mushrooms and onions before grilling.  I skewer like vegetables and meats.  Everything cooks at a different rate, so I don't like to put say something like tomatoes with onions or beef, they end up falling off before the meat or onions are cooked.  Serve with simple brown rice and grilled asparagus.   Tip-if using bamboo skewers, soak in water for at least an hour before skewering meats or vegetables.  This will prevent them from burning too quickly on the grill.  

John Flanagan's Beef Marinade

¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon onion, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup lemon juice, fresh or bottled

Put all ingredients into a blender and liquefy, reserve a couple of tablespoons before marinating to spoon over cooked meat.  Double the recipe to marinate vegetables.  (I do not recommend cooking this marinade after marinating over night, it breaks too much of the protiens down and will create a "curdled" sauce.)

For Flank steak:  John recommends marinating in the refrigerator overnight, the longer the better!  I suggest putting the steak into a large zip bag and add marinade.  Squish around several times to distribute marinade.  Grill to your preferred doneness.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil before slicing.  Thinly slice against the grain.  Spoon reserved marinade over meat, enjoy!

For meat kabobs:  You can buy lean stew meat that is already cut up, or sirloin and cut it into cubes yourself.  Skewer the meat onto bamboo skewers before marinating, that way you can avoid the mess.  If you use sirloin, no need to marinade longer than an hour or two.  If using stew meat, marinate over night.  For medium cooked meat, grill on medium high about 10 minutes.

For vegetables-Into a large plastic zip bag, add cleaned whole mushrooms and onions cut into wedges.  Pour about 1/2 cup marinade into bag and refrigerate until you're ready to grill. Give the bag a toss a couple of times to evenly coat veggies.  I use metal skewers for these as they take a bit longer to cook and the bamboo skewers often burn up.  You can marinate these anywhere from an hour to several hours.  To grill asparagus, no need to marinate, simply coat with a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill on medium high heat about 6 minutes, rolling occasionally.

Cook the vegetables first, as they are excellent served at room temperature alongside the grilled meat.  

Thank you John, this one's a keeper!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Good morning.  I am looking forward to today.  We first go to 9:00 a.m. mass and then the "food" festivities begin.  I am baking homemade chocolate chip banana bread for "coffee" at my sister-in-law, Nancy's  house today.   Later today, for dinner, we will go to my other sister-in-law, Mary Beth's house for a delicious ham dinner.  I will be bringing dessert.  I think I'm going to make pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting.  I will try to save a piece to photograph and will share the recipe.  This is one of my "go to" recipes. 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday today.  I am thankful for YOU!

Blessings to you and yours, Happy Easter!