Apr 29, 2010


Alrighty lovelies, here's my take on a great marinade. Simple, delicious, savory, easy cleanup, tender tender tender meat, and a plethora of flavors await you. A good marinade can take an ok dish to greatness. It can add so many different layers of flavor to your dish, without adding ginormous costs; and most of the time, it gets your prep going the day before.

A few basic rules of marinades:

Your meat needs to have direct contact with the marinade. Marinate in a ziploc baggie sitting inside a pan just in case it leaks. In the baggie you can easily squish the meat around to make sure it's all marinating nicely.

Flat cuts of meat marinate more evenly. Think steak.

Refrigerate your marinating meat.... then bring to room temp immediately before cooking.

Your meat should be trimmed, and ready to cook as soon as it comes out of the marinade. No point marinating it if you're just going to trim it off.

Marinades are not reusable. Once you've used it, chuck it. Otherwise, say hello bacterial infestation.

Marinated meat is STILL RAW MEAT! Treat it that way!

Ok, onto the recipes.

My FAVORITE marinade of all time is....

1 Tbps olive oil
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard
1-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
pepper to taste

Makes enough marinade for approx 3-4 steaks. You can always double it if necessary.
Whisk everything together... add your meat. Marinate overnight.

This is great for everything! Chicken tenders, pork chops... but especially steak. My DH is really not a steak fan, and when I use this marinade he asks for more! It's got such a great flavor, no steak sauce is needed. Make sure you blot the meat when you're ready to sear it. Wet meat doesn't sear quite as well.

Chicken marinade
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
ground black pepper

Whisk everything together. Put in your chicken, make sure all the fat is trimmed and it's ready to be cooked. Marinate overnight. Cook on a grill, or even in a pan, it's got a great flavor!

Teriyaki marinade

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder (if you prefer a stronger ginger flavor then add in more)
4 tablespoons liquid honey (or 4 tablespoons maple syrup, DO NOT substitute brown sugar or white sugar or pancake syrup)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons powdered meat tenderizer (optional, I never use this.)

Whisk all ingredients together. Add meat, marinate overnight.
What are some of YOUR favorite marinades? I can't wait to hear about them!

Mushroom Chicken

This is a super easy dish to make. It's so easy that I make it once every few weeks. My DH loves mushrooms, and this was an easy delicious way for me to add them into our dinners on a regular basis. Marinating the chicken in different marinades subtly changes the flavors of this dish.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 8-10 chicken tenders
1 shallot or 1/2 an onion, finely minced
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
olive oil for sauteing
2 Tbsp butter separated into 1 tbsp increments
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 pkg button mushrooms ( or whatever mushrooms you prefer, this is great with baby bellas)sliced thinly
1/4 to 1/2 c chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp milk or heave cream (optional)

In a large saute pan heat up about 1 Tbsp of olive oil on low heat. Add shallot and garlic, saute until softened and shallot is translucent. Turn up heat slightly and add 1 Tbsp butter. Dry off your chicken (it browns better). Cook chicken until you have a nice golden brown color, 4-6 minutes. Flip chicken over and start it browning on other side. After chicken is slightly browned on second side, about 3-4 minutes add mushrooms and chicken broth. Simmer until chicken is done, make sure you check that it's cooked through. Remove chicken from mushrooms, add the rest of the butter if you're choosing to this is the time to add the cream or milk. Simmer for another few minutes to thicken your mushroom sauce. Serve chicken with mushroom sauce over top. Delish!


Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs. I'm going to post a few of my favorite recipes for you. These are always a crowd pleaser. I've never met anyone that doesn't love deviled eggs... of course in my family the 40 or so hard boiled eggs that we hide at Easter are gone the same day...

Classic Deviled Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs
1-3 Tbsp mustard
1-3 Tbsp miracle whip or mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper to taste
Paprika for sprinkling

Cut hard boiled eggs in half and remove yolks carefully, you don't want to damage the whites. Smush the egg yolks up with a fork, or... if you wanted to... you can throw them in a big ziploc baggie and smush them with your hands ( this way is more fun )Once you've got the yolks nice and mushy add in your salt and pepper, mustard and miracle whip or mayo. You can adjust how much you put of each, so if you prefer more mustard then put more mustard. After you've got everything mixed together go ahead and start filling your egg whites up. If you put it in the plastic bag then just snip a corner off and use it like a piping bag. If you didn't, then you can just use a spoon, a piping bag, or a ziploc bag. :D Easy peasy. Sprinkle paprika over the top for color, and a tiny bit of flavor.

Deviled eggs with avocado

6 hard boiled eggs
1/2 avocado
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp low fat greek yogurt (or any plain yogurt)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Sea salt to taste

Cut eggs in half and carefully remove yolk. Mix everything except the egg whites together. Put filling in the egg white halves, or serve with crackers or fresh veggies.

Another variation
6 hard boiled eggs
1/4 c mayo or miracle whip
1 Tbsp milk
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried chives (or use 1 large very finely chopped green onion in place of dried chives)
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1/8-1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste, I use seasoned salt)
1/4 teaspoon paprika (a little more for dusting the eggs)
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Cut eggs in half and remove yolks. Mix everything except egg whites together. Fill egg whites and then sprinkle with some paprika.

Yet another variation

6 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise or miracle whip
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 green onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp well-drained pickle relish (you can use dill or sweet they'll add different flavors)

Cut eggs in half and remove yolks. Mix egg yolks until smooth, add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth, add green onions and pickle relish. Spoon into egg whites and sprinkle with paprika.

Spicy deviled eggs

6 hard boiled eggs
2 Tbsp mayonnaise or miracle whip
2 Tbsp mustard
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1 dash lemon juice
1 dash horseradish sauce
1-2 dash Tabasco sauce
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp paprika plus some for garnish

Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks. Smush egg yolks, and mix with all other ingredients. Fill the empty egg whites with filling and sprinkle with extra paprika.

I've got many more recipes... this is just enough to wet your whistle hopefully! Deviled eggs don't have to be boring, they can vary from wonderfully simplistic to amazingly gourmet and decadent. Enjoy!


Tuna Noodle Casserole

After a busy day, I wanted to make something delicious and comforting. This is my Mom's recipe. I remember eating this as a kid, and completely loving it. When she makes this she has to make two casseroles because everyone in my family loves it that much.

1 - 2 7 oz cans of tuna ( I use two because I LOVE tuna, one can works just as well though)
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 6 or 8 oz pkg egg noodles
1 soup can worth of milk ( use empty soup can for measurement)
1 small pkg potato chips ( optional, I usually omit this)
1/2 c or more grated cheese ( I use cheddar and colby )

Cook noodles according to pkg directions. Mix milk with soup and warm. Stir to keep film off and prevent scorching if doing on stove top. Place 1/2 of the cooked noodles in casserole. Sprinkle over 1/2 of the tuna, spoon in 1/2 of the soup, sprinkle with 1/2 cheese and chips. Repeat. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min. until the top layer of cheese is melted and bubbly. Enjoy! IMHO this is one of those comfort foods I wouldn't be able to do without, It's truly amazing and simple.


Cheddar cheese biscuits

Let me preface this post with a little disclaimer... I LOVE BREAD!!! Breads, biscuits, rolls, whatever they may be, I simply adore a well made bread product... Ok... onto the recipe!
These biscuits are all over the web, if you search cheddar biscuit recipe you will get a bazillion results. This is my favorite way to make them. You can add garlic powder to the biscuit mix itself if you want more garlic flavor. This is also super quick and easy because it uses bisquick as the base for the biscuits. Obviously you don't have to use bisquick... it's just simpler.

You will need:
2 c. bisquick
2/3 c. milk (whatever you have)
1/2 c. cheddar cheese ( I usually use 1/2 c cheddar and 1/2 c colby jack... I like cheese )
1/4 c. butter melted
1/4 tsp garlic powder
parsley flakes

Combine bisquick, milk, and cheeses together. Your dough will be very sticky, that's the right consistency. Spoon onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. I prefer using the parchment because cleanup is a breeze. Make sure you push any points down, otherwise your biscuits will have pokey things on them. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes. While your biscuits are baking go ahead and combine your butter and garlic powder. You can change how much garlic goes into it, I sometimes use a tiny bit more depending on how I feel. :D Remove your biscuits from the oven and let them cool just slightly. Only let them cool enough so that they don't fall apart when you move them. They absorb the butter better they are warm. Put them on a plate or whatever you choose then pour the butter/garlic mixture over the top. Sprinkle generously with parsley flakes. Enjoy! Btw, if you did use the parchment paper, all you have to do now is gather that up and toss it! Rinse and wipe down your pans if you choose to, and your cleanup is done!


Apr 20, 2010


If you've never heard of this Quinoa is a grain like seed that has a balanced set of essential amino acids, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is gluten free, and LOADED with protein. :D

In its natural state quinoa is covered with a bitter chemical compound called Saponin. Most quinoa sold in North America has been processed to remove this. This compound makes quinoa unsavory to birds and animals and therefore can be grown with little to no protection over it, unlike corn and wheat.

Quinoa is a popular alternative to white rice and even couscous because of the nutritional value. It has a slightly nutty flavor and is very mild. You can add basically anything to quinoa to get its health benefits at every meal. It can be eaten sweet or savory, and is great both ways.

If you want to add quinoa to a salad or cold dish, I recommend soaking it in water for several hours to allow the seeds to germinate a bit and soften up. If you skip this step and you're not cooking it, you could very well crack a tooth... it's not soft. If you are going to cook it, it has the same basic rules as rice it's a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa.

First we'll do a savory recipe:

Quinoa and black beans

2 c. chicken broth approx 1 can
1 c. quinoa
1 shallot, finely minced
2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (you can used dried and reconstitute them if you prefer)
Cayenne pepper
Crushed Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil
2 roma tomatoes diced

Rinse quinoa. It's messy... and I don't have any awesome time saving tips for this... if I find an easy way I'll let you know!
Put chicken broth and quinoa in a sauce pan, bring to boil. Simmer covered for 12 to 15 minutes until the germ has separated (they're tiny solid colored curly q's). Remove from heat and let sit covered for 3-5 minutes to finish absorbing the liquid. While your quinoa is cooking get another sauce pan, and a small saute pan. In the saute pan heat a bit of olive oil, probably less than a tsp, on low heat. Saute shallot and garlic until translucent. Put the beans in the other sauce pan with all of the seasonings, garlic, and shallot. Simmer the beans while the quinoa finishes cooking. Once the quinoa is done fluff it with a fork and mix it with the beans. Top each portion with some diced tomatoes.

And something sweet:
Quinoa and fruit

1 c milk
1 c water
1 c quinoa rinsed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp Agave nectar
2 c.fresh fruit, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, apple... pretty much whatever
1/3 c. nuts, pecans, walnuts, or almonds

In a saucepan bring water, milk and rinsed quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, turn down heat and simmer covered for 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let quinoa rest to finish absorbing the liquid. Fluff quinoa with a fork, add in spices, and fruit. Stir to combine. When serving sprinkle nuts over top, and add 1 tsp agave nectar to each serving. Best served warm.

Apr 8, 2010

Why choose Organic foods? updated

With so many "Super" stores out there, Wal mart, Target, & mass market grocery stores all over why take the extra time and slight cost increase to buy organic? Well, my #1 reason is taste. Fresh organic produce tastes amazing, IMHO organic beats out non-organic in taste. #2 It supports local farmers. The organic produce in your local grocery store comes from people in your neck of the woods that work their behinds off to make sure that you get the best product that there is to offer. #3 Certified organic produce is free from pesticides, fertilizers with growth activators, and hormones used to produce growth.

Organic foods should be a part of your life. If you aren't eating organic what are you putting in your body? The truth is you don't really know. You could be eating pesticides, hormones, fungicides, herbicides, & antibiotics among other things. That doesn't mean that everything you eat that isn't certified organic has all of these things in it. I'm just speculating that it could.

You don't need to change everything in your fridge. I know it's not plausible for large families to buy exclusively organic all of the time. I know that there are budget constraints on most of us at this time. I've got just a few tips for you...

I'm going to list some foods that are considered to be the foods most vulnerable to the addition of too many pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics etc. This list of food items where home washing and cooking practices are unlikely to result in reduction of the chemical or hormonal residues:

Beef, chicken and pork
Dairy products: Milk, cheese and butter
Strawberries, raspberries and cherries
Apples and pears
Spinach and salad greens
Stone fruits: Peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries
Peppers (capsicums), green and red

If you change nothing else, add these foods to your grocery list and try organic whenever possible.

Another bonus to choosing organic is that you will have a greater variety of FRESH seasonal produce. When fruits and veggies are in season they are less expensive by far, generally a steal. When a fruit or vegetable is picked it starts losing its nutrients. If the produce is grown locally it has less distance to go, and therefore will retain more of its nutrients and generally be in better condition.

Let's talk for just a minute about products that are certified organic. It seems more and more labels now say that the ingredients are "organic". Let's throw a little bit of light on the subject. If a product is less than seventy percent organic, the organic ingredients may be listed on the side of the package but the packaging cannot say "organic" on the front. If the product is organic there is a USDA Seal that will verify that the product is filled with at LEAST 95% organically grown ingredients. Just because a product says it is "Natural" does not mean it's organic. It might have some organically grown parts, but unless it has that wonderful USDA seal it is not certified organic.

Can you tell me the difference between "free-range" and "certified organic"? Anyone... anyone...? Free-range meat only means that it had access to the outdoors. Yep, that's it. It doesn't control their diet, if they had growth hormones, anything like that. Free-range meat is generally on a controlled diet, not a natural diet. Free-range Organic meat has access to the outdoors and is on a natural diet. By that I mean eating organic things that it would normally eat. Not being force fed corn, dry straw, whatever they can find to feed them. No extra hormones are given, no plumping of the meat, no injections of any kind. Free-range organic is definitely the way to go if you can afford it.

Be objective and realistic in your choice to go organic. Think of your body, and what you're putting in it. Know your limits, if you can't afford it, figure out what pieces to change out. Think of your family, wouldn't you rather give your child or husband, or even dog, cat or bird, food that you know will nourish them? Why wouldn't you want that? Food with the vital nutrients that they need to grow healthy and strong. Is there even a choice here? Why would you choose any differently? If not for you, do it for them. Give them what they need.

Try growing a garden. Start small, with a little bit of land and some TLC you can save yourself loads of grocery bill. Grow tomatoes, peas, green beans, bell peppers, melons, squash, cucumbers, broccoli; think of how wonderful things from the garden taste. My parents have the greatest neighbors every year they grow the biggest zucchini I've ever seen. It's always delicious, and has so much more flavor than hitting the grocery store and picking up a teeny tiny zucchini that costs $2 a lb.

Bottom line is that this is my personal opinion. These are all stats I've found in books and online. I feel like going organic when possible is the best thing for me, and my family. We've got a garden going this year, and you will get to see and hear all about it as it grows.

I hope that I've made you think a little bit. It all comes down to you. What you choose has to be the best decision for you and yours.

Update: after writing this post the "Dirty dozen" list for 2010 came out. I'm adding it so you can see what has stayed the same, and the few that have changed.

1. Celery
Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals (64 of them!) that are used on crops. Buy organic celery, or choose alternatives like broccoli, radishes, and onions.

2. Peaches
Multiple pesticides (as many as 62 of them) are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit.

3. Strawberries
If you buy strawberries, especially out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that have less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.

4. Apples
Like peaches, apples are typically grown with poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Tests have found 42 different pesticides as residue on apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely, so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, bananas, and tangerines.

5. Blueberries
New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.

6. Nectarines
With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include, watermelon, papaya, and mango.

7. Bell peppers
Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides. (Tests have found 49 different pesticides on sweet bell peppers.) Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli, and cabbage.

8. Spinach
New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.

9. Kale
Traditionally, kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus, and broccoli.

10. Cherries
Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries. Government testing has found 42 different pesticides on cherries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include raspberries and cranberries.

11. Potatoes
America's popular spud reappears on the 2010 Dirty Dozen list, after a year hiatus. America's favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include eggplant, cabbage, and earthy mushrooms.

12. Grapes
Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and raspberries.

*Dirty Dozen list from Yahoo.com

Apr 3, 2010

Sugar cookies

This recipe says it yields several dozen... I got maybe two dozen out of this. I did use a rather large cookie cutter, who wants miniature easter egg cookies? I'd say overall this is a pretty good recipe. I used almond extract instead of vanilla and I think I'll try vanilla before I make a decision on whether to keep this recipe or not. Don't get me wrong, they're good, but I don't know if they're my favorite. I will say that after I had cut them out they did hold their shape rather well, although they did spread slightly.


* 6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups sugar (white granulated)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring (I like almond myself)
1 tsp. salt


1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.
2. Chill for 1 to 2 hours (or see Hint below)
4. Roll to desired thickness and cut into desired shapes. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350
5. degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. This recipe
6. can make up to 5-dozen 3” cookies.

HINT: Rolling Out Dough Without the Mess — Rather than wait for your cookie dough to
chill, take the freshly made dough and place a glob between two sheets of parchment paper.
Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop
it into the refrigerator. Continue rolling out your dough between sheets of paper until you have
used it all. By the time you are finished, the first batch will be completely chilled and ready to
cut. Reroll leftover dough and repeat the process! An added bonus is that you are not adding
any additional flour to your cookies.


40 clove chicken... Yum!

I personally have a huge amount of love and adoration for garlic. I will pretty much put it in everything I make. :D Minced, roasted, fried, I just cannot get enough. When I've made 40 clove chicken in the past I have roasted an entire chicken... and every time I have loved the results... but not the amount of time it takes. It seemed to turn into a production every time. Some pieces roasted faster than others, it got dry, the pan was a PITA to clean, just normal cooking things. So... when I was channel surfing one night I came across one of my very favorite shows Good Eats with the adorable Mr. Alton Brown. He was making -you guessed it- 40 clove chicken.

I watched completely enraptured as he chunked up his chicken, browned it in the pan, and then baked it like that! I decided I have got to try this method, it seems so much easier than the way I've been doing it. And so I did. I wish that I had thought to take pictures throughout the process, it was enjoyable and tasted amazing! I'll give you the recipe and show you the finished product. I encourage everyone to try this! It's easy, tastes amazingly gourmet, and I will make it again and again.

I served this with deliciously crust french bread - to sop up all of the wonderful garlic oil, boiled potatoes, and spicy kale with bacon.

40 clove chicken

Cooking time 1 hour 30 minutes Yield 6 servings

* 1 whole chicken (broiler/fryer) cut into 8 pieces
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 10 sprigs fresh thyme
* 40 peeled cloves garlic
* Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss with a 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown on both sides in a wide fry pan or skillet over high heat. Remove from heat, add oil, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove chicken from the oven, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, carve, and serve.