Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Weekly Menu Solutions

November 12, 2010

We all have to eat. The dreaded question is always the same. What to eat for dinner? This thought often strikes fear into the hearts of parents, college students, singles, and young married folks alike. You want something tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare. In this post, I hope to shed a bit of light on this dilemma. World Peace…no. Satisfied tummies… yes.

An idea that I share during speaking engagements is “Cook once eat twice”. In your recipe files you should have a few recipes that are your “Go To” aka “Sanity Saver” recipes. For me… I have an easy chili recipe that I can quickly whip it up in the crock pot because I cook the ground turkey before hand and keep it in the freezer. It doesn’t take much more effort to brown 2 pounds of meat when you are doing it. Chili also freezes well. Here are some ideas to do with Chili. I would not recommend using them all in the same week. Your family may revolt and boycott chili all together, so think about which ones you want to freeze and use later. Fried Rice, Udon and Yakisoba noodles are another Go To for me. I always have frozen veggies. I love the assorted veggie mix. Between canned or frozen. Frozen is the healthier option. The product is picked in season and flash frozen. Calzones are another Go To for me since I always have a loaf of frozen dough, motzarella cheese and sandwich meat. I also serve fruit with dinner or leave it out on the counter for the starving troops to eat while I’m finishing up getting dinner done. My kids are very into the Pomegranates and Apples right now. And on those nights when you are running around too much to throw anything together, have a frozen main dish item that you can use as emergency back up. I keep one or two on hand and suppliment with fresh fruits and veggies, and milk. Still cheaper and healthier than most restaurants.

I have listed some ideas for you to try. I have #1 as what you eat first. Then take your pick of the items below as how you can tweak the leftovers of the #1 meal to serve a new dinner the next day. The ( ) show what post the recipe is listed under. As always, you can leave me a question in the comment section of this post. The first few times you try it may seem hard but keep at it and pretty soon you will get good at finessing your own cook once eat twice menus.

Chili with Red Beans

  1. Chili with the fixings. Try using nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Add some steamed broccoli or a salad, Baked Tostitos Scoops, and corn bread.
  2. Chili Baked Potato Bar with the fixings. nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, Oven Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup (liquid diet), Veggie Platter
  3. Chili and Cheddar Cheese whole wheat Quesadillas. Add some homemade guacamole (Whole Foods Demo), salsa, steamed corn on the cob, hydroponically grown compari tomatoes, and nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  4. Chili Shepherd’s Pie with Creamy Garlic Parsley Mash Potatoes. Add Steamed Green Beans or a tossed salad.

Rotisserie Chicken

  1. Baked Chicken dinner with carrot and corn casserole, and cheesy herb muffins. I like the No Salt Chicken at Whole Foods. Save the carcass/bones to make Chicken Stock. (Freezer Queen)
  2. BBQ Chicken Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust, Easy Mexican Rice Soup (same name)
  3. Chicken tortilla bake Add some homemade guacamole (Whole Foods Demo), salsa, steamed corn on the cob, hydroponically grown compari tomatoes, and nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  4. Chicken Fried Rice (what to do with cold hard rice), Miso soup with spinach and tofu (cooking with an eleven yr old)
  5. Teriyaki Chicken Udon Noodles (Glendale Whole Foods Lunch box make overs)
  6. Roasted Chicken chunk, cheese cube, bell pepper strip, cherry tomato, cucumber cube, all stuck on a skewer like a kabob.

Pork Chops

  1. Pork Loin chops with Italian Bread crumbs, fresh cranberry sauce (seasonal recipes) rice/pasta, heirloom tomato slices with Balsamic Vinegarete
  2. Penne Pasta with Kicked up Marinara sauce (Cooking for College Aug 2010) and Pork loin pieces topped with Motzarella Cheese, Oven roasted veggies (Free class at Montrose Library)
  3. Tonkatsu is a pork piece pounded thin, dredged in flour, egg, then panko Japanese bread crumbs, then pan fried, it is served with a sweet sauce found in the asian food aisle. Miso soup (cooking with an 11 yr old), brown rice
  4. Take the brown rice from above dinner and make it into fried rice, (what to do with cold hard rice)

Turkey

  1. I love the flavors of thanksgiving dinner. Get a Roasted turkey breast from your grocery store’s hot case. Turkey slices with garlic parsley mash potatoes, cranberry sauce (seasonal recipes) oven roasted sweet potatoes and oven roasted carrots. Oven roasted asparagus.
  2. Turkey pot pie. fresh salad, steamed broccoli
  3. Pumpkin crepes with turkey and fontina cheese with a garnish of cranberry syrup. Minestrone soup aka Stone Soup (seasonal recipes)
  4. Turkey Barley Soup (Liquid Diet), Roasted garlic crostini (Liquid diet), fresh fruit.
  5. Mock Ropa Viejas, Spanish dish means “old rags”. (crockpot wonders)This is great on top of rice or mash potatoes.

Ground Turkey

  1. I try to keep browned ground extra lean turkey in the freezer.(freezer queen) Here are some recipes I make out of it.
  2. Tacos, Chili, spaghetti, lasagna, stuffed shells, Yakisoba, Udon, fried rice, sushi rolls (A spooky halloween meal under dracula’s coffin), add to minestrone like meatballs, quiche, homemade pizza/calzone,
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A Terrific Summer Job for Many Reasons

July 1, 2010

My 10 yr old has gone into biz for himself. It all started with the cookbook and the notion of cooking and charging his family. I told him we were the taste testers and he couldn’t charge us. But I did share the idea of cooking for friends and neighbors. Well, he made Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells. And I must say they were better than mine. You should have seen the look of pride. I told him the neighbors would love to have such a tasty home cooked meal. He wrote out a menu with prices. We talked about how businesses figure out the cost of their products. First he was going to charge what the book listed as the cost to make the dish. I explained that price would be just ingredients then he would have no profits. So he figured Ingredients plus profit. That is better thinking but I explained that businesses also have to take into consideration overhead. So for him it would be electricity, rent of my kitchen, water, gas. I told restaurants double or triple the base cost on their menus. Since he is just starting, he decided to double it. And I decided to be a nice mom and not charge overhead. In fact I even paid for the first batch of ingredients. He has to pay for the ingredients after that out of his profits. I explained to him that if he adds meat then he can charge more since meat is an added cost. He packed one stuffed shell for each household and walked them over to the neighbors. He explained that he was taking orders for his home made food and here is a sample of the stuffed shells. Then he had to be patient and wait for the orders to come in. Of course grandma and grandpa ordered one of everything on his menu. Even during their visit he got out the fry pan and made pancakes on the spot. The grandparents were impressed with how focused he was making them. A few days later he got his first order from the neighbors. He is funny. He told them he is not open on the weekend and he can only handle 2 orders at a time.

Here is the menu he passed out. Each item feeds 3-4 adults.

The Amazing Menu

A Dozen Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Marinara

With Extra Lean Ground Turkey….$18.00      Without Meat ….$12.00

Dinner Salad …….$5.00

Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Garbanzo beans.

Homemade Lemonade

by the cup…$1         by the Pitcher…..$5.00

Wheat Pancakes with your choice of toppings…….$3.00

Topping Choices …. M & Ms, Blueberries, or Cranberries

So being the teacher that I am, I couldn’t let this venture go without getting a few academic lessons in. I have him making a bar graph of menu items with number of orders on the other axis. Then he has another chart with a running total of customers and their order totals. And finally a subtraction problem deducting the amount he has from the $300.00 that he is trying to earn.

I paid for the ingredients to make the first batch so that he could make 2 orders of stuffed shells. Now that he has some money I made him pay for his own ingredients. He was shocked that the cost of the ingredients was so much. So after filling the 5th order at the cheaper price, we decided to raise the price of the stuffed shells from $10-$18. (i think it is still a bargain for a nice family size dinner entree.) He wanted to raise it to $30. I told him people might not want to pay that. I explained once he gets a fan base, then people will pay higher for his food because they know how good it is.

He has added a new item on his menu. Did I tell you he is a chocoholic? I found him a recipe for chocolate fudge. He has never had fudge. I told him it is a type of candy that is denser than a brownie and very sweet. We’ll see how it goes.

So the cafe is a success. He is just delivered his 9th order of stuffed shells. He has his heart set on buying a digital camera with his money. So we went comparison shopping at Office Depot, Best Buys, and Costco. He purchased a Nikon CoolPix in electric blue. Very cool. He is very proud of his purchase and has gone around snapping many pictures. I’ll see if I can get him to figure out how to get photos onto the blog.

2 b continued. please check back.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

June 18, 2010

My son’s school had a book fair set up in the library. Apparently he saw a book that caught his eye and asked his dad for some money to buy it. Imagine my surprise when he comes up to the cash register with a cookbook of healthy money saving recipes. I asked him if he was sure that this is the book he wanted. He said Yes. I am going to cook the items and make money this summer. He proceeded to show me that each recipe had a dollar amount attached to it. He then stated that he would cook the recipe and have us, his family, pay for our meals. (What a clever idea.) I explained that we were his test subjects and he can’t charge us but he could cook and charge our neighbors. We have an amazingly wonderful group of neighbors. I thought of our immediate neighbors who are retired seniors and my other friends who have small kids. I told him. I’m sure they would love to not have to cook and instead enjoy one of his home cooked meals. He liked that idea. His first recipe was for a Broccoli Orzo Salad. I thought it was quite nice. What surprised me even more was that he liked it. He is a kid that doesn’t like salads. It just proves that if a child has a hand in cooking it he will be more likely to eat it.

Broccoli Orzo Salad reformatted from the Eat Well, Save Big Cookbook

Hardware- knife, cutting board, slotted spoon, colander, 2 large bowls (one with ice and cold water), whisk, lemon juicer, measuring cups, can opener, microplane zester, serving bowl, salad tongs,

Software- 1/2 lb orzo pasta (it looks like big grains of rice), broccoli florets, 1 C jarred roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, 15 oz can of low sodium cannellini beans, 1 C shredded parmesan cheese, 1/2 C fresh basil leaves, chopped into ribbons. (you can use kitchen scissors)

2 b finished later. please check back

Fitness is the other half of the Equation

June 12, 2010

As you know eating healthy is something I try to do everyday. I pack my kids lunches with all the right foods. Teach others about how to get your kids and you to eat healthier and like it. Yet, some part of the formula was off balance for me. I consider myself a pretty active person. I take Tai Chi classes, Hip Hop boot camp, and belly dance. I even started playing tennis again. Yet it still is not enough. Nor consistent enough. So… with a friend’s encouragement… I signed up for Extreme Boot Camp. Yes, I am now one of the crazy people running all over town, doing jumping jacks and sit ups in the park. Did I mention that I hate running. It does help that I have my friend suffering with me. After all misery loves company. I have to say though, I was very proud of myself for not collapsing after the first day. And I was pleasantly surprised that although I was sore, it wasn’t terrible. I may survive this yet.

I encourage you to add a 30 minute walk into your day, play some music and dance around with wild abandonment, play tag with your kids, or whatever makes you want to move.

I am in my second week of boot camp. I can hardly believe it but I am able to do the 2 mile run without walking, well, Mon and Tues. runs anyway. I have to admit that I feel very empowered by the end of the hour class. I like the instructors. They don’t yell at you the whole time. They are doing the runs with us. And they seem like nice people. The students are all shapes and sizes. So don’t feel that you have to be in top shape to do something like this. I certainly am not. I am noticing that I am getting toned and stronger. And as I am typing this, I’m not sore. That must be a good sign.

Ok. I had to come back to add that today’s workout was really painful. I guess I was getting ahead of myself so the instructor, mind reader that he is, decided to make today killer lunge day. I’m going to feel it tomorrow.

I am at the half way point. I have decided that this boot camp is like having a personal trainer so that I can pretend to live the life of a celebrity. Although they do have a personal chef and driver as well. If I won the lotter, that is what I want a chauffer. Yesterday my son came to join me for the Friday class. It was another killer lunge and strange push ups day. He did excellent during the class. He kept right up with a veteran boot camp guy that I call “the Machine”. And he beat me. My son thought it was so much fun he asked if he could come back on his birthday. Isn’t that a funny one. Ah, the boundless energy of youth. Well, this morning he asked if I was sore. I told him I’m not. He said his thighs and calves were very sore. So even though he was faster since I’m not sore… I think I’m in better shape.

End of week 4. It was a hard week for me because my original coach. We’ll call him Mr. M left on a trip and we have a sub. I was really fond of Mr. M. He was motivating and changed up the work out program so we not bored and also working on different muscle groups. I liked the days when we had relays or obstacle courses. I really hope he comes back. Having a good trainer is important but having a good trainer that you enjoy working with is even better. To celebrate finishing week 4 I brought my son’s favorite summertime drink to class. Watermelon juice. It is refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. Not to mention it has the antioxidant lycopene, lots of vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, lots of water and since it is pureed,  all the fiber.

Beginning of Week 6. I can hardly believe it is almost over. Half of the people have dropped out and we who are left are the tough ones. Today Mr Marine was saying how we have earned so much respect by making it. On our run he said that I am the best runner in the group. Isn’t that funny. I still hate running but I’m so competitive. I told him my son wants to join me and he said yes and he would tone it down for him. I told him he didn’t need to my son was able to hang with the best of them. And can you believe it Mr. Marine asked if he was as good as me. Boy, do I feel empowered. But not empowered enough to do another session. Atleast not right away. I really want to try Zumba.

Watermelon Juice

Hardware- Blender, knife, cutting board, wooden spoon, paper towels, pitcher

Software- whole watermelon

  • Wash the outside of the watermelon with soapy water.
  • Place a damp kitchen towel under a cutting board to prevent it from slipping and also so soak up the juice so it doesn’t spread all over the counter.
  • You can also place a paper towel on top of the cutting board to keep the melon from slipping around while you try to cut it in half.
  • Remember to never have your hand or fingers in front of the knife blade. Your knife could easily slip on the watermelon’s smooth rind.
  • Carefully, using a smooth bladed knife cut the melon in half. Put one of the halves aside.
  • Remove the paper towel.
  • lay the melon on the cut side so it doesn’t wobble around.
  • Cut it in half again and continue to cut parallel lines. then lay the semi circles on their sides and cut off the rinds. Throw these in your compost pile.
  • Cut the watermelon flesh into chunks and put them in your blender.
  • Put the lid on and blend away.
  • If your blade gets stuck, simply stop the motor and move the watermelon pieces around with your wooden spoon.
  • Put the lid back on tight and blend again.
  • Transfer your frothy drink to a pitcher.
  • Pour it in a tall glass over ice cubes and enjoy.

Guilt Free Ice Cream

Part of the boot camp experience is writing down what you eat in a day. Ice cream happens to be a huge weakness of mine. While trying to make a quick smoothie, I accidentally created this pleasant surprise. I hope you like it as much as I do. It has sweetness, creaminess, and the chill of ice cream w/0 the fat. You get protein and creaminess from the yogurt and antioxidants and vitamin C from the berries and potassium from the banana.

Bananas are a great fruit to have on hand. When I notice that they are getting very spotty and over ripe, I peel them and stick 2 in a sandwich ziplock bag and freeze them. Label it 2 bananas before you stick it in the freezer. Then you can use it for smoothies, guilt free ice cream, or to make banana bread (just let them defrost first for banana bread).

Hardware- mini blender (I use something like the Magic Bullet), spoon, bowl or ice cream cone

Software- 4 frozen strawberries and or blueberries, 1/2 a frozen banana, nonfat plain greek yogurt (I like fago brand), squeeze of honey

Steps

  • Put the berries, banana, and 2 tablespoons of yogurt in the blender. Add the squeeze of honey.
  • Make sure the lid is on tight
  • Blend till smooth.
  • Scoop it out into a cup or cone and enjoy

Oven roasted Cauliflower

One of my boot camp classmates needs to add more veggies to her day. Here is an easy and tasty cauliflower dish. Since it is summer and super hot, you can do it on the grill in a foil tray or in a toaster oven with a bake setting. (my mom even sets the toaster oven outside on the back porch so as not to heat up the house.) But, in the winter it is great to make in the oven because it heats up your house and makes it smell good.

Hardware- tray to roast the cauliflower in, cutting board, knife, foil, bowl, measuring cups, lasagna dish

Software- 1 large head of cauliflower (look for uniformed whiteness, no browning), 12 0z of low sodium chicken broth, dried bread crumbs (store bought or homemade-take your stale wheat bread and pulse it in a food processor or blender), dried oregano, dried basil, blended fresh garlic, fresh flat leaf parsley, black pepper,  grated parmesan cheese.

Steps

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Rinse of the cauliflower in a large bowl of water. Since I’m in L.A., I then dump that water on my flowers and lawn.
  • Cut off the florets as close to the bottom of the stems as you can. If a floret is large cut it in half.
  • Spread them out on a lasagna dish. In the bowl mix together the garlic and chicken broth.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and seal the edges.
  • Bake in the oven for  25 minutes or til a fork can pierce through a floret with just a little resistance. You don’t want it to be mushy.
  • Meanwhile, mix together in a bowl the bread crumbs, oregano, basil, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
  • Rinse off the flat leaf parsley and pick off the leaves.
  • Either with a pizza cutting wheel or scissors chop up the parsley leaves
  • Add the chopped leaves to the bread crumb mixture and stir
  • Remove the foil and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture generously on top of the cauliflower. Return to the oven without the foil to crisp up the bread crumbs. Once they are lightly brown, carefully remove the dish. Cheers.

With summer here I though of doing it on the grill so you don’t heat up the house. If you are doing it on the grill, use a foil tray or make a foil envelope and uncover it once you add the bread crumb mixture. Instead of oven roasting it you will be steaming the cauliflower in the chicken broth. Then opening it up just to crisp up the bread crumbs. If you do it this way, let me know how it worked for you.

Angelic Deviled Eggs

Usually deviled eggs are made with all the egg yolks and mayo. Mine are angelic because we swap out some of the yolks and all of the mayo. You want some yolks because egg yolks not only give your deviled eggs the yellow coloring but they also help to prevent Macular degeneration in the eyes.

Hardware- small pot with lid, bowl of ice water, egg slicer, tablespoon, teaspoon, mixing bowl, slotted spoon,

Software- number of eggs that will fit into your pot (for me it is 6), 2-3 teaspoons of greek nonfat plain yogurt, 2 pinch kosher salt, 1/2-1 teaspoon sweet pickles chopped or sweet relish without the juice, fresh cracked black pepper, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard, small drizzle milk, rinse and finely chop 3 baby carrots.

Normally you want really fresh eggs for cooking but this is an instance where an older but not expired egg is best. Reason being that eggshells are porous. They let air and moisture in and out of the egg. Eggs have an inner membrane just beneath the shell. As the egg gets older and it is hard boiled, the air between the shell and that membrane expands and you will notice that the shell won’t stick to the hardboiled white part of the egg. So you won’t be pulling the white off along with the shell when you peel it.

Steps:

  • Boil the eggs in the pot. Remember start with cold water on med low for 5 minutes to bring the water and eggs up in temperature. Then turn up the heat to med. Once the water starts to boil set your timer for 1 minute or count for 60 seconds.
  • After the timer goes off, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 15 minutes.
  • As soon as the timer goes off, carefully scoop out the eggs with the slotted spoon and put them in the cold ice water to stop the cooking process. Using this method prevents the darkness that often is on hard boiled egg’s yolk.
  • Take your eggs out of the water and peel them. Put them back in the bowl of water just to wash off any tiny eggshells that you might have missed.
  • Cut the eggs in half lengthwise.
  • Pull out the yolks of 4 eggs and put them in a mixing bowl. Give the other 2 yolks to your dog or throw them away.
  • Chop up 2 of the egg halves using your egg slicer or a fork and add it to the bowl. This adds more protein to each egg halve and bulks up the mixture.
  • Add the greek yogurt, relish/pickles, mustard, carrots (I like the color and crunch),salt and a couple of turns of pepper
  • Mix well
  • Using a teaspoon scoop the mixture into the egg whites so it makes a gentle mound. Or you can get fancy and put the mixture into a piping bag and squeeze it in the whites.
  • Place them on your serving plate
  • Either sprinkle the tops of the yellow mixture with paprika or cracked black pepper
  • If you aren’t going to eat them right away, put them in a tupperware and stick them in the fridge.

Enjoy.

2 b continued. please check back

Freezer Queen

May 8, 2010

I truly could be named the Freezer Queen. It isn’t that I have a frigid personality, I just love to use my freezer to make my life easier. I have found that making 2 batches of meatballs isn’t much more time than making one. That by having cooked chicken/ground turkey in the freezer I am saving myself valuable time and not stressing out during the dinner/homework crunch time. It is very easy to make chili if the meat is already cooked and in the freezer. I just dump it in the crock pot with the other ingredients in the morning and by dinner everything is perfect. I have also found that when the meat I like goes on sale, I can buy a lot, prepare it and freeze it. Some recipes that freeze well are…chili, meatballs, chicken enchiladas, lasagna, spaghetti sauce, teriyaki chicken, meatloaf, bbq chicken, seasoned extra lean ground turkey, won tons, hot and sour soup, escarole soup, miso soup w/o the tofu, butternut squash soup, split pea soup, stuffed shells, panini sandwiches, bean and cheese burritos, quesadillas, homemade chicken stock, (I actually freeze these in freezer Ziploc bags in the orange juice cardboard carton after I cut off the top folded in part. I find that they stack better in the freezer.)

I also try to keep in the freezer …Horizon yogurt tubes, frozen organic strawberries, blueberries, (so I can make a Smoothie a Go Go at any time) peas (great for putting on head bumps to reduce swelling), corn, mixed veggies combo, spinach, old bananas that I didn’t have time to make into banana bread, (I bag these in 2 bananas portions that way when I do need to make banana bread and I have no banana I can use these.) Frozen bananas are also great to have on hand for a smoothie or my guilt free ice cream recipe. One or two pizzas by Paul Newman. (His have no nitrates in their toppings.)  one bag of frozen southern style hash browns for making breakfast casserole and quiches. Puff pastry is great to put on top of chicken pot pies or to make a simple rustic apple gallete.

Preparing/cooking Ground Meat for Freezing

I always buy extra lean ground turkey. Lean turkey is deceiving in that you think you are eating healthy since it is turkey. You may not realize that lean turkey has dark meat and the skin ground up in it. Extra lean ground turkey has only the white meat in it. It will be drier so I add it in sauces to help give if moisture and flavor.

Hardware- skillet, pancake flipper, freezer ziplock gallon bags

software- 2 packs of extra lean ground turkey, 1 Tablespoons minced garlic, olive oil

Steps

Using a Sharpie pen, label your bag with “Cooked Ground Turkey” and the date. Heat up your skillet on med heat. Give it a 3-5 second drizzle around the skillet. Tilt the pan to let the oil roll around and coat the bottom of the skillet. Let the oil heat up. Using the flipper add chunks of the ground turkey into the oil. Once all the turkey is in the pan, add the minced garlic. Using the flipper break up the chunks of meat and gently flip and move the meat around. Keep breaking up the chunks as it is cooking. When it is all done, let it cool down. Scoop the meat into the ziploc bags. I divide it between 2 bags. By having it into 2 bags I know that I can make a recipe that calls for one pound of meat with it. Seal it tight and firmly press out as much air as you can. It is the evaporation of liquid due to exposer to air in the freezer that causes freezer burn. Place it in the freezer. Not the freezer door. Since it is already cooked you don’t have to worry about raw meat or long cook times when you are ready to prepare it.

I use this in chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos, stuffed shells, pasta bakes, udon, yakisoba, quesadillas, enchilladas. Also, you can use it in the fried rice recipe that I have on this blog under What to do with cold hard rice.

Another item that I freeze often is the ricotta mixture that I make for my lasagna. I find that I always seem to have too much ricotta mixture compared to the amount of noodles. So I put it in a freezer safe container labeled with blue painters tape. Note. make sure you put the tape on the container before you freeze it. Be sure to label what is in it with a sharpie pen. Then when you make calzones you have just the right amount to use. I find that my ricotta mixture reduces the saltiness of the salami turkey stuffing in the calzone.

Some items are as versatile as jeans in your wardrobe. I find that chicken is that way. When I am cooking chicken in a basic manner, I try to cook enough to freeze. For example… Shaking around a chicken breast in seasoned flour and pan frying it can work for Chicken Marsala, Chicken Maribella, Chicken fried rice, Chicken teriyaki, Chicken e’toufee. Chicken is the foundation and the sauces and herbs are the shirt and accessories.

Miso Soup

Hardware- 2 cup pyrex measuring cup, measuring teaspoon, tableware tablespoon, soup pot, ladle, cutting board, knife,

Software- Miso paste, Hon Dashi, firm tofu, Slices Napa cabbage (optional), green onion (optional)

The steps to miso soup. You need half a teaspoon of Dashi. You can find this product at the asian market. Then you need to put five cups of water into a soup pot. Wait for it to boil. While you wait for it to boil put two tbs of miso into a mug.  Slowly pour in one  cup of hot water into the miso. The miso is very salty to me, I don’t know about you though. When the water in the pot is boiling add in the miso and if you feel like it put some cabbage in it.

The soup freezes well with the cabbage. But the tofu does not freeze well. If you want, you can freeze just the broth part and add the tofu when you are reboiling it. I have done that before and it is fine.

Lasagna’s Ricotta Layer

Everyone loves lasagna. There is something so satisfying about the warm gooey layers of cheese and sauce with sheets of pasta. Only problem is that making a lasagna from scratch can be a daunting task. I have such a whirl wind of a week, that I have tried to create some short cuts. I use my pumped up store bought sauce recipe and my precooked frozen ground turkey and pair it with a prefrozen layer of ricotta and cottage cheese. Add a store bought bag of shredded motzarella and I can have a company worthy lasagna in no time.

I came up with the idea of the ricotta layer because I had so much ricotta stuffing left after making a calzone. I decided to line a lipped cookie sheet with plastic wrap and spread the ricotta mixture in an even layer and cover it with more plastic wrap. After sticking it in the freezer, the mixture has become a solid sheet of ricotta that was the perfect size and depth for a lasagna tray. This was fabulous. I could start to assemble the lasagna and after laying the noodles down simply peel off the plastic wrap and lay the sheet of ricotta on top. It was always a bit tricky to spread the ricotta evenly while the pasta was wet. Now I didn’t have to worry that the layer wasn’t even.

Low fat Ricotta Mixture

Software- low fat ricotta, low fat cottage cheese, 1 egg, half a box of spinach (defrosted and drained), grated parmesan cheese, fresh cracked black pepper,

I Flipped For It

April 12, 2010

This post is dedicated to places and things that I flip for because I love something about them. I will list what it is and why I love them. I am not wanting to complain about others but merely to applaud steps I see in the right direction or to express gratitude to others. You can try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

http://www.cachampionsforchange.net is a great website to learn about all kinds of fruits and vegetables. They have them listed by photo and name. When you click on it, you will get information on what to look for when picking it out, what the health benefits are, and suggestions on how to store it and cook it.

Portos in Glendale. This is an amazing success story. Betty Portos and her family run this delicious bakery and cafe. Her parents started with one small store on Brand Blvd. With their hard work and dedication to quality products, Portos has expanded to 2 large stores including a cafe. There are long lines to taste the wonderful treats that come out of the kitchen. Betty has a warm and inviting personality and personally gave my young chefs a tour of the bakery and a special tour of the underground set up that they have for the cake decorators.

Healthy Cheetos at Whole Foods there is a Cheese Puff that looks like Cheetos and has the same crunch with out all the junk in the ingredients list. I love the fact that they are oven baked. They have a low sodium count and is the 365 Brand (that is Whole Foods brand) If you have a child that love cheese puffs give these a try and I’m sure you’ll love them too.

Gluten Free Almond Cracker by Blue Diamond. I found these during my Autism Awareness Guacamole demo. I needed something for the kids to dip into the guacamole that was gluten free. My kids love these. I buy the one that has a hint of sea salt. Remember lower in sodium is better for you.

Dried Unsweetened Unsulfured Mango slices at Trader Joe’s. These are a great snack to keep in your purse, pack in your kids lunch, or take on car rides. I love the fact that they are unsulfured and unsweetened. You need to watch for those words. Although sulfur will keep your dried fruit looking pretty by keeping the colors, it is not healthy for you. Sulfur is a preservative.

The Dish in La Canada is a cozy restaurant that we go to often. Kevin, the owner, and Sasha, the pastry chef, were kind enough to have my cooking class come and get a tour and make a delicious Red Velvet cupcake. Some of the kids’ creations were so perfectly frosted it looked like it should be in the showcase. The Dish is a local favorite and often seen supporting various community events. Kudos to them.

Desserts and Others- Everything in Moderation

April 1, 2010

Oatmeal Fruity Breakfast Cookies

I love recipes like this because you can eat it and not have to feel guilty about it. I call it my breakfast cookie because it is a bowl of oatmeal fruit and more disguised as a cookie only less sweet. It is ready to be a breakfast on the go.

Oatmeal is packed with fiber, can lower your cholesterol, and gives your cookies bulk and chewiness. By adding the flaxseed meal you are adding Omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Those are the healthy fats found in salmon that are good for your heart. As a added bonus flaxseed meal doesn’t have any possibility of mercury contamination. And wheat germ is the valuable part of the wheat plant. I double the batch since my family loves them. In the cooking class I teach, we made one batch with raisins and another batch with chocolate chips. The raisins were better. And as an added bonus cinnamon is an antioxidant. These cookies are best hot out of the oven so mix up a batch and store it in a tupperware so you can bake them for sudden drop in guests or potlucks. They will make your house smell amazing. Especially handy if you are having an open house or in laws over.

Hardware: cookie sheet, 2 mixing bowls, wooden spoon, mini blender/blender, flatware fork, measuring cups, measuring spoons, flatware teaspoon, flatware knife, Optional- disher (looks like a mini ice cream scooper), kitchen scissors

Software: 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats, 1 Cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/8 C flaxseed meal, 1/8 C wheat germ, 3/4 C dark brown sugar, 1 large egg, 3 Tbspoon butter at room temperature, 3 Tspn canola oil, 1/2 C steamed zucchini, 1/2 c banana (one small over ripe), 1/2 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn salt, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup pecans (optional), 1/4 cup dried unsweetened mango snipped with kitchen scissors. I like the dried mango at Trader Joe’s because they are unsulfered and unsweetened.

Procedure:

  • Open oven door to check that it is empty. Preheat oven to 350 F
  • In one of your mixing bowls combine your dry team wheat flour, oats, flaxseed meal, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  • In the other bowl combine your wet team, add the butter and brown sugar. Using the fork smash the butter through the tings so that the butter is all mixed up with the sugar. The abrasive nature of the sugar should make it easy if your butter is at room temperature. If your butter is cold then zap the butter in the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds and try again.
  • Once the butter and sugar are creamed together, Add the banana and smash it all up with the fork so it is mixed up with the butter sugar mixture.
  • add the egg and mix it with the fork to scramble the egg with the butter sugar mixture.
  • Add the oil and zucchini puree. Mix it all together.
  • Add the dry team to the wet team bowl in 2 dumps. stir after each dump.
  • Add the raisins, cranberries, mangos, and nuts. For a pot luck I leave the nuts out since people may be allergic to them.
  • Be careful not to over stir the mixture otherwise you will have tough cookies. Due to activating the glutens in the flour. You just want all the ingredients to not look dry.
  • Using the flatware teaspoon or disher, scoop out the batter onto a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for approximately 14 mins. -18 mins. It depends on the size of your cookies.
  • When they are Golden brown and delicious take them out of the oven and resist the temptation to pop one in your mouth at once. You will burn your tongue. Let them cool for a few minutes.
  • Enjoy with a cold glass of milk. Maybe even share some with friends.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

There are some pairings that are timeless. Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Tom and Jerry, but I would have to say that peanut butter and chocolate are one of my favorites. There is something to be said for the richness of chocolate against the creaminess of peanut butter. Not to mention that dark chocolate is a good source of flavonoids and peanut butter has protein. These can’t be all bad. Just don’t eat the whole pan in one sitting. I use the mini marshmallows but a friend of mine recently told me about brown rice syrup. I bought some to try it. As of now I will write the recipe with the marshmallows. After I try the rice syrup in substitution for the marshmallows, I’ll let you know how it goes. This is basically like making a rice krispie bar.

Hardware: large soup pot, wooden spoon, lasagna pan, tupperware to store them in/take to potluck, one empty butter wrapper. (I save the wrappers in a ziploc after the butter is gone for these type of recipes), cutting board, sharp knife, parchment paper

Software: 2 tablespoons of butter, creamy or crunchy peanut butter without  hydrogenated oil, (I like the 365 brand at Whole Foods or Smart Balance with the added Omegas), 2 Cups mini marshmallows, original Cheerios cereal, Kix cereal, Cocoa Krispies cereal,  brown rice syrup, mini chocolate chips

Procedure:

  • Take the butter wrapper and rub the butter side all over the bottom and sides of the lasagna tray. This will prevent the finished product from sticking to the pan.
  • AHN- Adult Help Needed to set the stovetop to med. low heat to heat up the pot and melt the butter, once the butter is melted swirl it around the pot to coat the bottom.
  • Add the mini marshmallows. Stir so the butter coats the marshmallows. Wait a minute or two between stirs so that the marshmallows have a chance to melt together. Once they start to spread out then stir. You want to avoid getting brown color on the marshmallows. Reduce the heat if you need to.
  • Once the marshmallows have no more bumps then turn off the heat
  • Pour in 1/2 C peanut butter
  • Pour in 1/2 C rice syrup
  • Using the wooden spoon, stir to combine.
  • add the cheerios and Kix. Stir to coat the cereal with marshmallow.
  • Then add the rice krispy cereal and stir again. It will be hard but be sure to get the marshmallow evenly spread out.
  • Dump this sticky mixture onto your lasagna tray and spread it out with your hands.
  • sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top and press them in. They should stick to the bar.
  • Let it cool for one hour. After it has hardened up a bit, place a cutting board on top of the tray and holding the sides of the tray and the board, flip them so the tray is upside down on the cutting board.
  • Lift the tray off. This should reveal your perfect chocolate peanut butter crunch bar.
  • AHN- have an adult use the sharp knife to cut the bar up.

Enjoy with a glass of milk. They will keep in the tupperware with parchment paper between the layers so they don’t stick together.

Oven Baked Churros

This recipe has all the flavor of Churros w/o the deep fryer. I did this one for a girl scout troop event and my Mexican Tacqueria during summer cooking camp. They all loved it.

Hardware- cookie sheet lined with foil, pastry brush, knife, cutting board, 2 teaspoons, 2 bowls, empty salt shaker/spice shaker (optional)

Software- fajita size flour tortillas, smart balance buttery spread, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 4 tsp white sugar,

Steps

  • AHN adult helped needed to preheat the oven to 375.
  • Lay out the tortillas on the cutting board. Cut them in half so you have a semi circle shape.
  • In the bowl combine the ground cinnamon and sugar. Congrats. You just made cinnamon sugar.
  • Carefully pour the cinnamon sugar into the shaker. You are ready to sprinkle this on your french toast, oatmeal, unbaked muffins, pancakes, I like to give my cake pans a light spray of Pam and sprinkle cinnamon sugar around to stick to the pam instead of buttering the pan.  (If your an adult, try it on your coffee)
  • Put some of the Smart Balance in a microwaveable bowl, cover it with a paper towel,
  • microwave it on high for 20 sec. Stir with a teaspoon,
  • If the buttery spread hasn’t all melted, repeat for 10 more seconds. Stir again.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the tortilla with the melted Smart Balance
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar all over. Like you would glitter on glue.
  • Pick up the tortilla so the excess comes off.
  • Carefully transfer your tortilla to a foil covered cookie sheet
  • Have an adult put them in the oven.
  • Bake for 9-11 mins. or til brown and crispy.
  • When they are done, have an adult take them out of the oven.

This is the hardest part. Let them coool down before biting into one. Que Rico. Enjoy.

Roll the can Ice Cream

This is the recipe and method we use at home because I don’t have an ice cream maker at home. It comes out soft so you have to transfer it to a freezer safe container and stick it in the freezer overnight.

Hardware- 2 metal coffee cans with lids, one should fit into the other and still have room for ice to go around the smaller one. I have used a plastic jar for the inner can. Masking tape, freezer safe container, big metal spoon, 1/2 C rock salt, ice

Software- 1 Cup heavy cream, 1/2 C sugar, 1/3 C sliced strawberries, 1 C Milk, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract,

Steps-

Starting with very cold ingredients will speed up the process. Combine ice cream ingredients into the smaller can. Place lid on the can. Put tape over the seams so salt water doesn’t get in. Cover bottom of the large can with ice. Place the smaller can inside. layer half of the the salt and ice around the smaller can. Place the lid on the larger can. Roll the can around The more you shake it around the faster it become ice cream. Empty the old ice and salt. Stir the ice cream to the center and repack the cans using new ice and salt. Roll some more. When the ice is melted, open the large can and enjoy. It should be the consistency of soft serve. If you want it firmer transfer it into the freezer safe container and stick it in the freezer for a while.

Guilt Free Ice Cream

Part of the boot camp experience is writing down what you eat in a day. Ice cream happens to be a huge weakness of mine. While trying to make a quick smoothie, I accidentally created this pleasant surprise. I hope you like it as much as I do. It has sweetness, creaminess, and the chill of ice cream w/0 the fat.

2 b finished later. please check back

Help Build the World’s Largest Rice Krispy- 10,000 Pounds

March 3, 2010

Such exciting news about the World’s Largest Rice Krispy Bar being built here on the field of our community center. I talked with the ladies in charge at the TLC network and she will be highlighting local groups and programs that are participating. I told her all about my cooking class kids. She would love to have them in the show. So not only will my class this month get to be a part of this but we will also be making zucchini bread, teddy bear biscuits, and stone soup. I’m rescheduling the restaurant tour for another session. Being a part of something in the Guiness Book of World records is a once in a lifetime chance. Then come back on Sunday and eat a slice at the Carnival. The giant bar will be cut and served as a fundraiser for the new community center.

I have just added an April cooking class too. From April 16-May 7th. We will make a special love gift that you can give a special mom/grandma in your life. The classes are for Kids age 3 -10. I hope you have a chance to join the fun.

4 Fridays in March,

preschool 1:15-2:30 ;  age 6-10 3:15-4:30 Please list any allergies.

2 fridays in April 2 fridays in May

preschool 1:15-2:30 ;  age 6-10 3:15-4:30 Please list any allergies.

To register call 818 790-4353 or http://www.cclcf.org click on programs

My Healthy Rice Krispy Bars By Request

I recently spoke at the Lake Avenue Church MOPS group. MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. It is a nonprofit support group for mothers of newborns through kindergarten. I have been in this group for 9 years. I have received so much from MOPS through mentor moms who have traveled on the journey of childrearing to prayers and hugs from other moms when I needed it the most. It was my pleasure to be able to give back to MOPS in a short cooking demo. I titled it How to get your kids to eat healthy and like it. One of the samples I made were the healthy rice krispy bars that I make for my kids. Some of the ladies wanted me to put the recipe on my blog so here it is. Feel free to add or subtract more as your family prefers.

Software: 3 cups of mini marshmallows, 1 Tbsp butter, 4 cups of whole grain oats cereal. I use cheerios (plain or multigrain), 3 cups of rice krispy cereal, 1 cup of dried cranberries and or blueberries. (I like a combo of both) raw almonds would be a nice crunch factor as long as no one is allergic.

Hardware: one large soup pot (a non stick surfaced one makes for easier clean up), butter knife, wooden spoon, lasagna tray or other dish with sides that can have hot items in it. one empty butter wrapper. (I save the wrappers in a ziploc after the butter is gone for these type of recipes), cutting board, sharp knife, tupperware, parchment paper

Procedure:

  • Take the butter wrapper and rub the butter side all over the bottom and sides of the lasagna tray. This will prevent the finished product from sticking to the pan.
  • AHN- Adult Help Needed to set the stovetop to med. low heat to heat up the pot and melt the butter, once the butter is melted swirl it around the pot to coat the bottom.
  • Add the mini marshmallows. Stir so the butter coats the marshmallows. Wait a minute or two between stirs so that the marshmallows have a chance to melt together. Once they start to spread out then stir. You want to avoid getting brown color on the marshmallows. Reduce the heat if you need to.
  • Once the marshmallows have no more bumps then turn off the heat and add the cheerios. Stir to coat the cereal with marshmallow.
  • Then add the rice krispy cereal and stir again. It will be hard but be sure to get the marshmallow evenly spread out.
  • Add in the dried berries. They might not stir in well. It is ok.
  • Dump this sticky mixture onto your lasagna tray and spread it out with your hands. This is the time to push in any berries that fell off.
  • Let it cool for one hour. After it has hardened up a bit, place a cutting board on top of the tray and holding the sides of the tray and the board, flip them so the tray is upside down on the cutting board.
  • Lift the tray off. This should reveal your perfect rice krispy bar.
  • AHN- have an adult use the sharp knife to cut the bar up. Enjoy. They will keep in the tupperware with parchment paper between the layers so they don’t stick together.

Cheesy Spiders invade The Little Gym

October 14, 2009

The Little Gym in La Canada is having a Halloween Party. Come and get your wiggles out.  I will be teaching goblins, vampires, princess and more how to make a cheesy spider during the party. This is a spider Miss Muffet would not have run away from. The party is free for members and $5/child for nonmembers.

Come and Make a Gingerbread House

September 30, 2009

Sugar and spice and everything nice. Here is the perfect class for you have fun with your child or to connect with your inner child. After all, why make the big mess and have a bunch of left over candy at your house. I will be teaching a one day workshop at the Community Center of La Canada Flintridge on Dec 4th at 1:00 for preschoolers/kindergarteners and 3:30 for all other kids. This class has no age limit. I will put the houses together. Last year I assembled a whole village. I will provide lots of fun things to decorate your winter wonderlands. I even get some healthier options in there too believe it or not. To find out the details go to http://www.cclcf.org or call 818-790-4353. Last I heard I already had 7 kids signed up. These make such cute holiday decore for home.