Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Enchilada Sauce

I always thought I didn't like red enchilada sauce, turns out I don't like canned enchilada sauce. I found a recipe on about.com.

Quick and Easy Mexican Enchilada Sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 cups water
1 8 ounce can tomato paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt

Heat the oil, flour and chili powder together in a large pot. Allow to cook for a minute or two.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Stir well to combine and dissolve tomato paste in water. Allow to cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more spices as desired. 

My notes:
I didn't change this at all, it was great as is! Also made the house smell warm and spicey.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sugar.... oh sugar you dastardly devil

Our kid is a sugar fiend. So much so that she has taken to hoarding sugary foods/candy and sneaking it when she thinks we do not know about it. We ended up throwing out her Halloween candy because she got caught sneaking it. Pretty typical for a 9 year old from what I read but we definitely do not want it to become more of an issue than it already is.

I've decided that we are going to cut back on sugar in the house. I myself am not much of a sugar person; ha ha, I say that but I've been eating my wedding cake almost every night for the last 2 weeks.... shhhhh! Truthfully, I do not NEED dessert and most times I do not have it (the wedding cake is an exception). But Jeff and Ashley both have a sweet tooth. I think it's time for a life-style change. So I'm looking for some recipes and ideas that will help satisfy the sweet craving but still are healthy.

While doing research I found this article, which I thought was to the point and had good information.

Cut That: Simple Ways to Slash Sugar

Candy hands
Your five-year-old asks for sugar on top of her already sweetened cereal. Then your sleepy 10-year-old wants free-pouring rights with the maple syrup. It doesn't take a degree in nutrition to know this is sweet-stuff overkill. But because sugar isn't always that easy to spot, your child can pack away an astonishing quantity before you can say, "Want a juice box with your frosted granola bar?" after school.

What Is It?
Sugar is a carbohydrate that delivers energy to the body quickly. Trouble is, it has zero nutritional value. And if you've hosted a birthday party or witnessed a post-Halloween binge, you know its energy-boost is short-lived, resulting in a sugar crash that can leave your child hungrier than before.

There are two types of sugar:
  • Natural sugar is found in many foods -- including fruit, certain vegetables, milk, and dairy products.
  • Added sugar is commonly found in most packaged products -- think cereals, candy, ketchup, and salad dressing -- to boost flavor. Added sugar is often called high-fructose syrup or super-concentrated sugar; fructose, fruit pectin, and cane juice are other names.
Why Cut It?
While sugar is okay in moderation, most kids consume it in excess -- and there's nothing sweet about the consequences. Research has linked excess sugar to pediatric obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children.

Major Offenders: It's easy for kids to overdo sugar simply by drinking sweetened beverages. OJ at breakfast, a juice box at snack, a chocolate milk at lunch, a sports drink after soccer, and wham -- your child has gulped down three times the daily recommended amount. Candy and processed, packaged sweets and snacks are more obvious culprits, along with syrup found in canned fruit and the maple variety that kids love to drown waffles in.

How Much Is Too Much?
It's best to keep your child's (and your own) sugar intake to less than 50 grams a day, advises Jaimie Davis, Ph.D. and registered dietician. You'll find more than half that amount in one can of regular soda.

Seven Ways to Keep Sugar in Check:
  1. Try low-sugar drinks. Choose drinks with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving, like water, seltzer, and low-fat milk. For more flavor, try these kid-approved low-sugar drink recipes.
  2. Dilute fruit juices with water or seltzer. Try a one-to-one ratio; kids often won't notice a difference.
  3. Diet trumps regular soda. If you can't avoid soda, go with its diet counterpart. In moderation, it's a better alternative to regular soda.
  4. Note serving size. In this super-sized world, many packaged snacks and drinks contain multiple servings in one container. A typical beverage serving is 8 ounces, but some individual bottles contain two or more servings, which means double the sugar, too. Look for true single-servings when you buy individually packaged food and drinks.
  5. Teach compromise. To tune kids into how much sugar they're getting, teach them about making smart choices. For example, tell them they can have the double-serving lemonade now or ice cream for dessert later, but not both.
  6. Choose cereal wisely. Look for cereals with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Be on the lookout for buzzwords like "brown sugar cinnamon," "honey," or "maple" in the name. They often indicate that even an otherwise healthy cereal is loaded with sugar. If your child can't find an appealing choice, try mixing half of her favorite with half of a low-sugar/high-fiber variety. Get more tips on finding healthy foods for kids.
  7. Monitor portions on toppings. Given the choice, kids will smother most any food in chocolate syrup, maple syrup, ketchup, and other high-sugar add-ons. The recommended two-tablespoon serving for maple syrup, for example, packs nearly 22 grams of sugar -- and most kids will use far more. To give your child a sense of control, provide a tablespoon and let him measure the right amount, or measure it into a small dish for him to pour from.

A Word on Artificial Sweeteners: Though it's best to choose sugars or sweeteners derived from natural sources such as honey whenever possible, artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame can help reduce sugar in a child's diet, says Davis. It's not clear that artificial sweeteners cause harm to children, but there is solid evidence that excess sugar plays a role in pediatric obesity and diabetes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Enchilada Pasta Casserole

 I stumbled on this recipe by accident on Pinterest (where else?). I wasn't looking for recipes and I hadn't been on Pinterest in quite some time.

Enchilada Pasta Casserole
By: Table for Two
Serves 6

1 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
5 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce (I used the red sauce)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
12 ounces egg noodles
Salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, bring water to boil and cook egg noodles according to package instructions.
  3. In the meantime, in a very large skillet, brown your ground beef then drain the fat. Then add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Add in the cream cheese until melted and combined.
  5. In a large bowl, combine sour cream, enchilada sauce, half the cheddar cheese, half the monterey jack cheese, corn kernels, and diced green chiles. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour mixture over the beef and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, drain your pasta. After you’ve drained it, add the pasta to the beef mixture. Make sure everything is coated in the sauce.
  8. In a large casserole dish, pour in the pasta mixture and top with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has completely melted.
  10. Serve hot. Keep in airtight container for up to 1 week.
My Notes:
 I didn't have diced green chiles, monterey jack cheese, or enchilada sauce. I made some enchilada sauce from scratch, substituted mozzarella for the monterey, and left out the green chiles. Instead of just corn I tossed about 2C of mixed frozen vegetables in the mix.
I doubled the recipe and used 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 ground beef. Everyone liked this dish, pretty sure it's going to go on the regular rotation. I also have decided from now on I will be making my own enchilada sauce, it's just waaaay better.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Naturally Sweet Agave Glazed Carrots

This is part of my cooking for a month series.
Who doesn't like carrots? I mean they are pretty awesome, this recipe is no different. Tasty, easy to make, easy to freeze, easy to reheat. Tada!
You can find agave just about anywhere now, I get mine at costco mainly because it's a good deal and I never think to look when I'm at the grocery store. Agave can be substituted for honey in equal parts.

Serves 8

2lbs carrots, cut into batons
¼ C water
¼ C freshly squeezed orange juice
3T unsalted butter, melted
2T agave
3T fresh lemon thyme

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine carrots, water, and orange juice. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are just tender (remember you are freezing these so don’t over-do it).
Add butter, agave, thyme and cook uncovered, stirring often, until liquid has evaporated and carrots are glazed. Season with salt and pepper, stirring one last time. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

To Freeze – pour cooled carrots into gallon size freezer bag.

To reheat – thaw completely overnight in fridge then reheat carrots in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until heated through.

My notes
I don’t know what batons are and I don’t really care. I just diced the carrots.
Good luck finding lemon thyme in your grocery store. I used regular thyme and it turned out just fine.

Make it a Meal Meatloaf

This is a part of my month of meals series. Generally speaking I am not a huge fan of meat loaf. It's just not high on my list of things I love to eat; but! Jeff is a fan of meatloaf and who doesn't want to make their guy happy? So when I saw this recipe in the cookbook I thought, why not?

About little less than half of this loaf fed us for dinner, along with glazed carrots. I'm serving again tonight with the remaining carrots and some mashed potatoes.

Make it a Meal Meatloaf
Serves 8

1lb extra-lean ground beef
1lb ground pork
2 eggs
2T Dijon mustard
1/2C dry whole wheat bread crumbs
3 scallions, minced
2 carrots, minced
1C dried cherries
1T Italian seasoning
Pinch of cayenne

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a large loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to loaf pan, firmly packing.
Bake for 75 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes then invert to remove from Loaf pan. Allow to cool completely.

To Freeze – wrap meatloaf and freeze

Oven reheat – Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.

My notes
Serve with glazed carrots and mashed potatoes. Yum! Jeff was skeptical about this one when I was making it because of the cherries. I have to admit, so was I. However, this turned out quite tasty and all 3 of us enjoyed it. I ground the fatty end of a center cut pork loin for this after talking to my butcher, it’s a versatile cut of meat.  They are usually cheaper than buying pork chops pre-cut and you get 2 smallish roasts after you cut it up. Can you say pulled pork? Mmmmmm