Monday, September 28, 2009

Israeli Cous Cous


I became a fan of cous cous in college, before then I hadn’t had anything more exotic than white rice. Now, I love to experiment with different types of grains. I found these Israeli Cous Cous at Whole Foods and I am trying to figure out good ways to use them. This time, I used a rice pilaf recipe I had and adapted it to the cous cous.

It turned out good, I served it with grilled salmon and veggies. The texture was different, almost like a risotto or orzo. I will be trying out some different recipes with them in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

1 1/3 cups Cous Cous
1 ¾ cups chicken stock
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 tbsp olive oil
Seasoning salt
Black pepper


1.Toast almonds in a saucepan on medium-low heat until slightly browned and fragrant. Remove from pan.


2.Add olive oil to the saucepan on medium heat

3.Add cous cous and toast for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned.


4.Add seasoned salt and black pepper and quickly combine.

5.Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

6.Reduce heat to low and simmer 12-15 minutes.

Cheesesteak Sandwiches


I am from Philadelphia, but please don’t expect these to taste anything like the authentic Philly cheesesteaks they make up there, we just don’t have the right ingredients down here in Florida. That being said, I do sometimes like to make a steak sandwich on “easy” nights and Mike is a big fan (he hasn’t tried the real thing yet). I usually just buy rare deli roast beef and heat it up with some provolone cheese. I serve it on a crusty sub roll and call it a cheesesteak, it works for us.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

1 tbsp butter or butter spray
¾ lb Rare Deli Roast Beef, sliced thin
4 slices provolone cheese
2-3 Hoagie Rolls


1.Coat skillet or flat griddle pan with butter on medium heat

2.When butter is melted, create 2-3 “piles” of roast beef, one for each sandwich you are making.


3.Brown beef in skillet.

4.In the meantime, slice hoagie rolls in half down the middle and brown under the oven broiler.

5.Rip cheese slices in half and add the slices onto the pile of beef, add cheese throughout the beef so there are no dry spots of the sandwich.


6.Cover each sandwich pile with a saucepan lid, adding one icecube under the lid before covering the beef and cheese, this will steam the cheese.

7.When cheese is melted, scoop each pile into a hoagie roll. Serve hot with chips, fries, or a salad.

Pasta e Fagioli


I have had this Olive Garden Copycat recipe forever, it’s definitely one of my favorites. I decided to make it Sunday night because the whole family is recovering from and cold and because, well, I had a massive hangover after attending my class reunion. This soup hit the spot, it has a spicy zing to it which helps clear congested sinuses and keeps it from being a bland meal, but the broth is very good when recovering from sickness (of all kinds).

You can make this more of a stew by adding more pasta and less broth, I do this so the baby can eat it too (he’s not so good with the spoon yet). If you want more broth, just add more beef stock and go easy on the pasta. If sinuses are your problem, don’t be afraid to add more Tabasco sauce, it really does the trick.

3 tsp Olive Oil
1 lb ground beef
1 chopped onion
2 cups slivered carrots
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 box beef stock
1 ½ tsp Tabasco sauce
1 42 oz can spaghetti sauce
1 cup ditalini pasta

1.On medium heat in a large stock pot, saute ground beef in oil until brown.
2.Add carrots, onion, and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or until soft.
3.Add rinsed beans to pot
4.Add beef stock, spices, Tabasco, and spaghetti sauce
5.Simmer until veggies are tender, about 45 minutes, adding pasta into the pot in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

I also like to make some crusty bread to go with the soup. I just take French bread and put it under the broiler for a few minutes until it’s lightly browned.


Nate loves his soup!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yummy Parmesan Risotto


I don’t remember why I first tried to make risotto. I hadn’t heard of it before but it sounded like it could be good. I compared a bunch of recipes and came up with this one after a few questionable attempts. I make this a lot, usually on weeknights. It’s one of my son’s favorite foods, so it’s fun to make it for him. I made this for my parents last night and it turned out wonderful!

This amount will serve about 4 people as a side dish.

1 cup Arborio rice
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup white wine
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 box chicken stock (4-5 cups)
1 handful grated parmesan cheese


In a medium-sized skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and add chopped onion, cook onion for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until garlic is slightly brown.


Add rice to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.


Add wine to pan and stir until wine is completely absorbed by the rice. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and reduce heat to medium. Stir rice frequently until stock is completely absorbed. Continue adding chicken stock in ½ to 1 cup increments and stir until absorbed by rice. Continue doing this until rice is soft but slightly al-dente (taste to check), this usually takes about 4 cups of chicken stock, more if you like a softer risotto.

Tip: Sometimes if I am late getting dinner started, I will cheat by covering the pan for a few minutes at a time to cook the rice faster. The risotto still tastes fine if you do this, it’s just not traditionally how you make risotto.


Turn off heat and sprinkle parmesan cheese over risotto. Serve warm.


If you have leftovers, risotto is really good the next day if you coat it with a little flour and fry it in olive oil to make a fried rice cake.

Chorizo, potato, and cheese Frittata


I have been trying to make breakfast more often lately since I now have two very hungry men to feed in the morning (one happens to be 3 feet tall, but has the appetite of a lumberjack). Both of them like eggs, but I really don’t. I’ve tried omelets, fried eggs, and scrambled and I just don’t enjoy them. I have seen people on the food network make frittatas and they were described as light and fluffy so I thought, why not?

I basically winged this one, I had a potato on hand, some chorizo, cheese, and eggs. I thought that sounded like a good combo. This came out fantastic!! It was so much better than I was expecting. I loved it and so did the boys. I will definitely be making this in the future.

1 large russet potato
5 eggs
2 tbsp milk
½ lb chorizo sausage (or any sausage really)
Cheese, for topping


1.Preheat the oven to 400 F

2.Dice the potato and boil pieces until they are fork tender (not too soft). Drain the potatoes.

3.Meanwhile, cook the chorizo on medium heat in an oven-safe skillet and then scoop and set aside to drain on a paper towel.

4.Cook the potatoes in the skillet using the grease from the chorizo. Cook until crispy.

5.Return the chorizo to the skillet with the potatoes.

6.Beat the eggs with the milk and the salt and pepper.

7.Pour the egg mixture over the chorizo and potatoes and let the eggs “set” for 2-3 minutes.

8.Sprinkle the top of the egg with cheese and place the skillet in the oven.

9.Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, the frittata will be light and fluffy and the cheese will be bubbly.


TGI Friday's Black Bean Soup

I found this on when I was searching for some vegetarian recipes. I have never had TGI Friday’s black bean soup, so I can’t compare, but this recipe is fantastic! My 1 ½ year old son gobbles it up every time. I usually make this with a quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich. This time, I made it with some baked salmon and crispy, oven baked tortilla chips and it was a wonderful dinner.


•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•3/4 cup diced white onion
•1 cup diced carrot
•1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
•2 tablespoons minced garlic
•4 (15 ounce) cans black beans
•4 cups chicken stock
•2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
•2 teaspoons chili powder
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1/2 teaspoon cumin
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke

• shredded monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend, blend
• chopped green onion, sour cream

1.Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium/low heat.

2.Add onion, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic to the oil and simmer slowly for 15 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

3.Keep the heat low enough that the veggies don't brown and be careful not to burn the garlic.

4.While you cook the veggies, pour the canned beans into a strainer and rinse them under cold water.

5.Measure 3 cups of the drained and strained beans into a food processor with 1 cup of chicken stock.

6.Puree on high speed until smooth.

7.When the veggies are ready, pour the pureed beans, the whole beans, the rest of the chicken stock, and every other ingredient in the list (down to liquid smoke), to the pot.

8.Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until soup has thickened and all the ingredients are tender.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meatball Sandwiches


I am always looking for ways to save money lately and I started noticing a while ago how much it is costing for our family to pick up lunch at a restaurant on the weekends. It costs about $20 per meal depending on where we go. I decided this weekend to cook up meatballs in the crockpot while we go out, and then we'll have lunch ready for us when we get home.

This worked out great, I made the meatballs at 8am and by lunch time they were perfect. It only costs about $10 for the ingredients and we have a ton of leftovers to have for lunch tomorrow and probably a meal that we can freeze. A comparable meatball sandwich would cost about $5-10 per person, so we saved some cash by doing this. I will definitely try this again.


•1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
•1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
•1 (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
•1 (8 ounce) can tomato paste
•2 teaspoons olive oil
•3 garlic cloves, minced
•1/2 sweet onion, chopped
•1 teaspoon salt
•Italian seasoning


•4-5 lbs meatloaf mixture (ground beef and pork)
•1 cup breadcrumbs
•2 slices bread, cubed and soaked in milk
•3 eggs
•1/2 cup parmesan cheese
•2 garlic cloves, minced
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon pepper
•Italian seasoning

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix breadcubes soaked in milk, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, garlic, pepper, and seasoning in the bottom of a large bowl.


3.Add meatloaf mix and combine with other ingredients using your hands. Don’t mix too much, just make sure all ingredients are well blended.

4.Roll mixture into balls using your hands and arrange meatballs on a cookie pan (with sides, not the flat kind).

5.Bake meatballs for 30 minutes. You can brown them under the broiler for a few minutes if you like a crunchier meatball.


6.In the meantime, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil on low heat until translucent, do not burn.

7.Combine the sautéed onion and garlic to the rest of the sauce ingredients in a large crock pot or stock pot. Turn crock pot on high (if using a stock pot, bring contents to a boil).

8.When meatballs are done in the oven, mix into the sauce mixture. Cook in crock pot for 4-6 hours on high heat. If using a stock pot, reduce heat and simmer meatballs for 4 hours or until ready to serve. (I serve them on rolls with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Watermelon Cupcakes for Labor Day

I first saw these on Bella's Bistro and I knew I had to give them a try for Labor Day. We had a pool party at my parents house with my friends and their kids so I wanted to make something everyone would enjoy. These came out great! They were so cute and they tasted good too. I made my own icing (see recipe below) but I followed the same basic instructions. These are great for a summer party, I will definitely be making them again!


1 batch of your favorite vanilla cupcake mix (from scratch or a box)
1 batch of your favorite vanilla frosting (from scratch of a can)
Mini chocolate chips
Red food coloring
Green food coloring

Once your cupcake batter is made, add some red food dye and stir until it is the desired color.

Stir in some mini chocolate chips (I used probably about 1/2 cup) and fill cupcake tins 3/4 full.

Bake according to directions, allow to cool completely.

Stir some green food coloring into the frosting. Pipe it onto the cupcakes or frost with a knife.

Basic Cupcake Icing
•1 stick butter, softened
•1 lb box/bag 10x powdered sugar
•Milk (about ¼ - ½ cup)
•1 Tsp vanilla (optional, the icing is good with or without the vanilla flavor, you can use other flavors too)


1.Beat softened butter with about ¾ box powdered sugar (reserve some sugar) with hand mixer on LOW setting.

2.Add milk and flavoring (vanilla, lemon, etc) gradually until you reach a thick paste

3.Add more milk and/or sugar as needed to reach a spreadable icing consistency, use a knife to test thickness.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

This is a great weeknight dinner because I can stick the pork roast in the crockpot first thing in the morning and by the time I get home from work it’s nearly ready to serve. I don’t usually have a chance to brown the meat before I put it in the crockpot, but I found that it comes out fine without that step. I use a pork shoulder so I like to remove the fat and bone from the pot before I add the BBQ sauce. I usually serve this with Oven baked fries or baked chips.


•2-3 lb pork shoulder roast
•½ cup cider vinegar
•2 cloves garlic
•1 cup BBQ sauce
•Bread for sandwiches

1.Put pork roast, garlic cloves, and cider vinegar in crockpot and set to LOW for 8-10 hours.

2.Drain the pork in a colander and remove bones and excess fats from the pork.

3.Pull the cooked pork and return it to the crock pot.

4.Set the crockpot to high and add 1 cup BBQ sauce, mix well with the pulled pork.

5.Cook the pork with the sauce on high for 15 minutes or up to one hour, mixing the meat often.

6.Serve on buns for sandwiches

SPICY Chicken Tortilla Soup

My husband and Son have both been feeling a little under the weather lately so I wanted to make them some soup. Instead of making chicken noodle, I decided to make a chicken tortilla soup that would have lots of yummy broth but would also be a hearty meal. I used a recipe I saw on “Rescue Chef” and change it up a bit to make it a more balanced meal. I found the two Jalapenos to be very very spicy, so just cut out one of them or use milder chili peppers instead if you don’t like super spicy food.


•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•1 small onion, finely diced
•2 tablespoons minced garlic
•2 jalapenos, finely diced
•6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
•1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used Hunt’s brand)
•1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
•1 cup instant brown rice
•3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
•2 limes, juiced, plus wedges for garnish (optional)
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
•1 (8-inch) flour tortilla, grilled, cut into thin strips ( I used pita, tasted just as good)

1.In a large saucepan heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.

2.Once the onions have softened add the garlic and jalepenos and cook for another minute.

3.Pour the chicken broth, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add your chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes.

4.Once chicken is cooked remove from pot. When cool enough to handle, shred it and return it to the pot.

5.Add brown rice and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until rice is cooked.

6.Add lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot. In a serving bowl, ladle soup over chicken and top with a lime wedge, and grilled tortilla strips.

Pizza Night!

After several take-out pizza experiences that ended in stomachaches and indigestion for my husband and I, I decided to start making our pizza instead. We usually do pizza night on Thursdays, so to save time I get a frozen, pre-made pizza dough from the grocery store and thaw it out while I’m at work. My husband prefers calzones, so I break up the dough into four parts and make him two calzones and I make two small pizzas for my son and I.

My pizza-making is still a work in progress, I change up the toppings, the pan that I use, and the heat/time that I cook the pizza. I would like to get a pizza stone soon so I can try that out, but right now I use a nonstick pan.

I assemble the pizza and calzones by rolling out the dough and shaping them. Then I fill the calzones and fold them over, I use a fork to close them up. For the pizza, I just roll out the dough and shape them into an oval. I spray the calzones with olive oil and top them with a little bit of Italian seasoning. I cook them at 425 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or until the crust is crispy. YUM!!