Sunday, March 28, 2010

Downsizing Life

So I am downsizing my life. I will be doing one blog. No more additional blogs, no more facebook or twitter. If you want to catch up on me or my family then the blog will be your ownly way to do so.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Eating My Way Through Thursday

Well, Thursday was a great food day in my house. Thanks Rachael for some great meals this week. I was able to eat some of Wednesday nights leftover salad and I enjoyed it immensely for lunch. The flavors blended well and it was absolutely delicious.

That being said, dinner on Thursday night was amazing. I even had a good friend of mine over who agreed that Rachael's vegetable stew kicked some butt!! It was so good! I enjoyed it as well. Shane and Althea both enjoyed it. Andrew (the pickiest eater in my household) was not a big fan but I made him a piece of tillapia so he ate that and part of a potato and cheese pancake.

Vegetable Stew with Potato and Cheese Pancakes


2 Tbs EVOO
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 lb crimini mushroooms (about 16-20) halved (I used 8 oz crimini and 8 oz white mushroomos and I cheated and bought them presliced...I did this because the sliced mushrooms were on sale at my grocery store and I always enjoying saving some money.)
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1" pieces
1 medium onion chopped (I used half of a large red onion...again working with what I had on hand and what was on sale at the grocery store.)
salt and pepper
1 can chickpeas (15 oz), drained (I chose not to use chickpeas as I am not a big fan. I did add in a couple of handfuls of fresh greenbeans that I trimmed the ends from and cut into bite sized pieces.)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 can diced tomatoes in puree (28 oz) (There were no diced tomatoes in puree at my grocery store. I chose to get the regular can of diced tomatoes and drained only about 1/2 of the liquid.)
2 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves, fresh chopped

Potato and Cheese Pancakes

EVOO or vegetable oil, for frying (I chose to use canola oil for mine.)
2 lbs all purpose potatoes, such as Russet variety (about 3 large potatoes) peeled and shredded
1 small onion, grated (I chose to use one leek and grated the white part and part of the light green part.)
3 Tbs all purpose flour
8 oz smoked Gouda cheese (1 1/4 cups), shredded (My grocery store only had one option for smoked gouda and it was very pricey and less than 8 oz. In order to save money and to only have to buy one block of cheese, I chose some delicious smoked provolone to substitute this one out for.)


In a medium pot over moderate heat, saute garlic and mushrooms in EVOO for 2-3 minutes. Add zuccini and onion to the pot and season vegetables with salt and pepper. (I also added the green beans at this stage since I was using fresh green beans.) Saute another 5 minutes. Add chickpeas, cumin, tomato, and rosemary. Bring stew to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a thin layer of EVOO or vegetable oil to the pan, just enough to coat the bottom. Combine potaotes with oninons and flour. Mix in shredded cheese. Spoon piles of potato and cheese mixture into the pan, making 3 inch rounds, one inch apart. Cook cakes until golden and crispy, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove cakes and repeat process.

Arrange cakes, three per person, on dinner plates and top with mushroom and zuccini stew. (I am kind of weird about foods touching so I chose to serve mine along side the stew with the stew in a bowl and the pancakes on a small saucer plate.)

So cooking is going well. I am really enjoying myself far more than I would have thought and I have such a feeling of plessure and pride about the fact that I am actually sticking to something and doing such a great job at it. My family is enjoying this venture as well, because who would not love a home cooked meal each day. I am learning more about my family through our dinner time that is eaten at the dinner table as well.

I do have one question for your foodies or cooks out there. Is there anything that you can do with your shredded potatoes to keep them from changing color? Now, my potatoes did not do too bad but they were starting to get dark near the end of my cooking and frankly I did not make them all so the leftovers of course changed colors. I would love a good tip on how to keep the potatoes from changing colors so that I could actually make the leftovers the next time I prepare something like this. Let me know please. Thanks.

Also if anyone out there is reading this let me know what you think. Let me know if there is a recipe or meal that you would like for me to try as I am willing to try out different things. Please keep in mind that I am a vegetarian so meals with meat will not be the best choice or the best option.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tonight's Dinner!! Yummy!!

Tonight was leftover night at our house. We had a variety of leftovers...the kids chose to eat pizza and ALthea ate some of the soup that she had enjoyed so much. I ate the soup and the following salad and Shane also enjoyed the salad but had the rest of the curry. We have lots of leftover salad for lunch tomorrow and I am going to whip up something of Rachael's since we have talked about going out to dinner as a family tomorrow. If we don't go out to dinner then we will be eating something from one of Rachael's recipes.

I did choose to make a salad of Rachael's to go with our leftover feast.

Fennel, Celery, Portabello, and Parmigiano Reggiano Salad

1 fennel bulb (So, I had a problem with this one as my grocery store only had one fennel and it was not looking too fresh so I chose to use two leeks instead of the one fennel bulb.)
1 red onion
1 celery bulb, darkest green stalks removed (I used five stalks of regular celery as Shane is not a big celery fan.)
5 or 6 crimini mushrooms (I used a handful of already sliced crimini mushrooms.)
A handful of fresh basil (I was out of basil so I used a handful of fresh cilantro.)
A handful of fresh parsley
2 Tbs EVOO
Juice of one lemon
Salt and Pepper


Cut fennel bulb in half and thinly slice each half until completely shredded and dump into a big bowl. (I cut the dark green parts from the two leeks and discarded them. I then chose to cut them in half and slice them very thinly.) Remove outler layers of the red onion and slice in half. Slice onion halves thin and add to the fennel slices. Thinly slice celery, starting at bottom of the heart and working your way through to the tips of the stalks. Add to fennel and onions. Thinly slice mushrooms and herbs and add to the fennel.

(I chose to add a small bag (5 oz) of shredded parmesan and mix this into the fennel and toss prior to adding the dressisng or instead of serving with the cheese as a garnish)

In a separate bowl, whisk together EVOO, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing to the fennel mixture and toss. Serve.

This salad was great and it was very very pretty. It would be a great option to serve for a family dinner or when we are entertaining friends or family.

Tuesdays Lunch

Tuesdays are my night to be at school so I am unable to cook supper for my family. So I decided that I would cook lunch on those days.

Tuesday's lunch was Tortellini Soup from you guessed it, right? Rachael Ray.

The lunch was delicious.

5 Ingredient Meal: Tortellini Soup

Rachael says that this soup serves two, however we had it serve six, so I guess portions are different depending on who you are.


1 quart chicken broth (I used vegetable stock instead since Shane is allergic to fowl.)
1 bag tortellini (16 oz), dried or fresh, regular or whole wheat (I actually used frozen as it was a lot cheaper than fresh and I am not a big fan of dried.)
1 bunch of spinach
zest of 1 lemon
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I used shredded parmesan.)


Place a medium pot over medium high heat and bring stock to a boil. Drop the tortellini into the pot and cook, according to the package directions. In the last 30 seconds of cooking, add the spinach and lemon zest to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and garnish each serving with cheese before serving.

The soup really surprised me as it was really really yummy. I don't usually like vegetable stock in soups as I always preferred chicken broth, but since that is no longer an option to me I was forced to use the vegetable stock and it was delicious.

Both Althea (my 19 mos old daughter) and Shane both enjoyed this dish as well. I ended up eating the leftovers as dinner on Wednesday night.

I cheated on the diet Tuesday night by ordering some cheese pizza from Aurelio's...yummy!!

What I'm Learning

Well I am learning a lot of stuff about myself and my family by cooking. Typically I have at least one of my kiddos cooking with me and we have started eating dinner together at the dinner table. It is amazing all of the ways that we have been able to spend more time together around the dinner table. My 6 1/2 year old son has even started doing chores and setting the table for our dinners.

Thank you so much Rachael for bringing my family together. I appreciate all of this great time that we are spending together.

So I will make a late post in a bit for the dinner on Tuesday and for tonight's dinner.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dinner Tonight...

So here's what's happenin in my world.. Dinner tonight was great. I used a new one of Rachael's recipes and it was pretty good. Shane and Althea enjoyed it but I could not get Andrew to try this one.

Warm Ginger Carrot Slaw


2 Tbs vegetable oil (I actually chose to use 2 Tbs of sesame oil.)
1 small savory cabbage (1 1/2 lbs) (I used 1 1/2 lbs of red cabbage.)
1 bunch scallions
1 cup snow peas (a couple of handfuls)
1/4 cup honey (eyeball it) (I chose to eyeball it this time too.)
3 Tbs cider vingegar (eyeball it) (Again I eyeballed it this time too.)
3 Tbs pickled ginger, drained and thinly sliced, found in Asian food isle (I could not find pickled ginger in my grocery store so I used about 1 tsp of ground ginger instead.)
1 sack store-bought shredded or juliene cut carrots (10 ounces)
salt and pepper


Cut cabbage into quarters, and cut away the core. Shred the cabbage and set aside. Cut cleaned, trimmed scallions into 3-inch lengths. Pile scallions lengthwise and juliene them into thin strips. Pull the threads from the ends of the snow peas and juliene into thin strips, lengthwise, like the scallions.

Drizzle honey into a small bowl. Add vinegar and combine with a fork.

Heat a non stick skillet over high heat. Add 2 Tbs oil, two turns of the pan. Add pickled giner and cut carrots and stir fry for two minutes. (I chose to use 1/2 tsp of ginger stirred into the oil before adding the carrots...the other 1/2 tsp of ginger I stirred into the honey and vinegar.) Add cabbage and stir fry 2 mins more. Fluff and toss the veggies with tongs so they stay dry and crisp while cooking. (I used a spatula and mine turned out fine this way.) Add scallions and snow peas and stir fry another minute. Add honey and vinegar combination, pouring it all around the pan in a slow stream. Cook the liquids down 30 secs more and turn off the heat. Continue to toss the slaw and season it with salt and pepper to taste.

With this delicious warm slaw I chose to have some yummy home-made egg rolls. The following is my personal recipe for home-made egg rolls.

Egg Rolls


1/2 head of green cabbage
5 crimini mushrooms
2 scallions
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garlic salt
oil, for frying
egg roll wrappers


To begin get your vegetabls ready. Take the 1/2 head of green cabbage and slice it into thin slices and then cut into small shredded pieces. Then take the crimini mushrooms and slice them and then cut them into small pieces. After that take your scallions and cut into small sections and then cut them lengthwise in a juliene style cut. Mix the soy sauce, ginger and garlic salt and pour over the cabbage mixture. Take the mixture and place in an egg roll wrapper and wrap it up. Then fry them in the oil until golden brown on the first side, turn them over and fry on the second side until golden brown on this side as well.

This was all served with jasmine rice. I used Rachael's suggestion from her television show to reduce the amount of water. I found the rice to be cooked perfectly. Thanks for such an amazing tip for fresh healthy rice, Rachael. This one is sur eto be used time and time again.
So Sundays are usually my big cooking day. Not so this weekend as we got new furniture and Shane was busy putting it away while I was busy working with the kiddos and trying to cook.

I had originally planned on cooking tacos but could not stomach the idea of ground beef after watching the Food Inc. documentary. I can not believe what hamburger filler is and that they actually put this crap into hamburgers. Now, to be more realistic about it, the hamburger that I bought would not have contained any of this but it still made my stomach turn so dinner became something a bit different. I had been planning on making both beef and portabello tacos but we ended up with yummy portobella wraps instead.

My recipe from Rachael was our breakfast. Personally it was not for me. I don't like bananas but tried this anyway figuring that it could not taste too much like bananas with everything else. However, I did discover that it did taste too much like bananas for me. Shane seemed to really like them though, but Althea (also not a big fan of the banana) did not eat hers either.

Monkey Buns


non stick cooking spray
1 large banana, thin sliced
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (I had substituted with light brown sugar as this is what I had on hand. In the future if I try these, along with picking a differnet fruit, I will be using the dark brown sugar.)
10 Tbs honey
2-3 Tbs cinnamon
1 tube refridgerated biscuit dough


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray 10 cups of the 12 muffin cup pan with non stick cooking spray.

In each of the 10 cups of the muffin tin, lay down a few slices of banana and cover with about 1 Tbs of brown sugar, 1 Tbs of honey, and a dash of cinnamon. Pop open the tube of biscuit dough, separate each portion and place one piece into each muffin cup, pushing them down slightly so the dough touches the bananas and sugar. Bake the biscuits as directed on the package, until golden brown. (I also added a dash of cinnamon to this side of the buscuit as I love cinnamon.)

When the buscuits come out of the oven, let them cool for a couple of minutes, then place a large platter or baking sheet on top of the muffin pan. Carefully but quickly, invert the muffin tin and platter or baking sheet together. Remove the muffin tin (fishing out any buscuits or topping that may have stuck to the bottoms of the cups)and let the buscuits cool further. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Our dinner was some yummy portabella wraps that were actually pretty too. The kiddos ate some fried portabella slices with cheese and crackers instead of the wrap.

Fried Portabella Wraps

2 portabella mushrooms sliced
1/4 of a red onion thin sliced, slices cut into strips
1 green onion, thin sliced lengthwise after being cut into shorter lenghts
1/2 cup parsley rough chopped
2 cups Bisquik baking mix
2-3 Tbs season salt (depending on your tastes)
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbs butter
6 Tbs olive oil
small (taco sized) corn tortilla shells

Mix together season salt and baking mix in a small bowl. Pour milk into another small bowl. Put 2 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs olive oil in a frying pan and slowly heat over medium low heat until all of the butter is melted and it is hot.

Dredge the portabella slices in the baking mix and season salt, then dip them in milk, and finally dip them a second time in the baking mix and season salt mixture, and then fry until cooked on both sides. After each batch of mushrooms fries you should add another 2 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs olive oil to prevent the pan from becoming too dry. Lay the mushrooms on a plate that is covered in paper towel.

Then warm your tortilla shells in the microwave. place a few slices of the mushroom on the shells and top with red onion, green onion and parsley.

The wraps were delicious but I would have rather used cajun seasoning instead of seasoned salt but we were out of the cajun seasoning.