Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grilled Sweet Potato Sticks and Grilled Okra

Grilled Sweet Potato Sticks

1/2 cup natural walnut pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 bags HEB Ready, Fresh, Go! Sweet Potato Sticks (I was so dissappointed I couldn't find these, but bought sweet potatoes instead)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 Central Market All Natural Dessert Spice Rub (I used cinnamon)
1/2 cup honey

Combine walnut pieces and sugar in heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Stir mixture while cooking 3-4 minutes, until sugar melts and glazes the walnuts. Immediately spread glazed walnuts on a sheet of foil to cool. Chop walnuts into small chunks or desired texture and set aside.

Prepare sweet potato sticks in microwave according to package directions. (I sliced mine lengthwise, left the peel on, and steamed them in the microwave about 5-6 minutes.)

Carefully remove sweet potato sticks from bags and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Add olive oil and toss sweet potato sticks gently. Sprinkle dessert rub on sweet potato sticks and toss gently. Set aside.

Prepare charcoal or gas grill for cooking (375 degrees) and spray a grilling mesh with nonstick cooking spray. Place sweet potato sticks on mesh and grill covered 5 minutes. (I cut mine into slices after grilling.)

Place in serving dish, top with glazed walnuts, and drizzle with honey.

Grilled Okra

1 qt. okra, washed
Balsamic vinaigrette

Toss okra in vinaigrette and let sit as long as possible. Grill 5-10 minutes, or until to desired doneness.

We had these sides with steaks and loved them both. Grilled okra is our new favorite for now! Russ said it's as good as fried.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crockpot Sloppy Joes

I've never been a fan of crockpot cooking, really. This summer changed my mind. It would be so much cooler, smarter, not to mention economical to use this thing as often as possible. I'm going to try to start incorporating crockpot meals more often!

This one's for my Babe--I never really liked Sloppy Joes because they have onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers. 3 things I don't care for at all. Russ doesn't like onions or bell pepper, but loves these--go figure! He loves these.

Riley called them Sl'Joey's too--we kept asking him what we were eating. Too cute!

Crockpot Sloppy Joes

2 pounds lean ground beef (I halved for the 3 of us)
NOT 1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 T Worcestershire sauce
3 T brown sugar
2 T mustard
2 T cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
hamburger buns

In heavy skillet, brown ground beef with garlic and NO onion. Drain of excess fat.

Combine ketchup, bell pepper, Worcestershire, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and chili powder in slow cooker. Stir in ground beef mixture. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours. Serve spooned over hamburger buns.

I served with tater tots and some leftover grilled veggies.

I like mine with pickle slices. Russ likes his open faced with picante sauce poured on top. Riley wanted a slice of cheese on his and proceeded to dip it in ketchup (for his tots) and then Ranch (for his veggies)!

I didn't think it needed to be cooked near 5-7 hours, but maybe that was because I only halved the ground beef. I wouldn't leave this one while you're gone for the day at work. Keep an eye on it...try it on a Saturday!

(NO photos! These weren't photogenic AT ALL!)

Lemon-Dill Tilapia and Butternut Squash Saute

I was pleased with these two things and how they went together--what a healthy meal! My sweet Riley ate ever bit of his tilapia and veggies--gotta love it!

Lemon-Dill Tilapia

4 fresh tilapia fillets (5 oz each)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 lemons, sliced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
2 T fresh dill
2 T fresh parsley
2 T butter
Parchment paper or foil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper.

Cut parchment paper into 4 13x9 rectangles. Place 3 lemon slices crosswise in center of each parchment piece. Top with 1 fillet. Repeat with remaining lemon slices, fillets, and parchment paper rectangles. Sprinkle fillets evenly lwith carrot, dill, and parsley. Top each fillet with 1/2 T butter.

Fold 1 side of parchment paper over fillets; tuck excess parchment under fillets, pressing folds to form a crease.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes with fork. Serve immediately.

(Serves 4)
(Southern Living Magazine)

Butternut Squash Saute

4 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
NOT 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 small butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (6 cups)
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh or 1/8 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 cups firmly packed baby spinach leaves
*I added walnuts and they were fantastic in this dish!*

In 12 inch skillet, cook bacon over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. DO NOT stir in onion. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until crisp tender.

Stir in squash, thume, and pepper. Cover; cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender. Stir in spinach and walnuts*. Stir until spinach is winted.

(8 servings)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pasta Salad Royal

Pasta Salad Royal

16 oz. Rotini multi color pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1 large bell pepper--chopped (I used a yellow one)
12 cocktail tomatoes, quartered
1 cup frozen peas
NOT 1 bunch green onions
1 can sliced black olives
8 oz. salami, cubed
16 oz. grated mozzarella cheese (I used cubed)
3/4 to 1 whole bottled zesty Italian dressing (I love Wish Bone Lowfat Italian)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T vinegar
*I added cucumber chunks to this*

Mix all together and refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to mingle.

I served with Tastefully Simple's Beer Bread--that stuff is awesome!

I was shocked how much Riley loved this. Helping with the preparation plays a part I know, but not only did he finish his bowl, but he helped himself to seconds (and he's never done that with anything but dessert before)!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chicken Luau and Roasted Carrots

Chicken Luau

2 pounds chicken breasts
2 T macadamia nut oil (I used canola...macadamia nut oil was about $25 for 2 ounces)
2 tsp. minced garlic
4 cups chicken stock
3 boxes frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Heat oil in large skillet and saute chicken and garlic until light brown. Add stock, cover, and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is tender. Drain spinach and stir spinach and coconut milk into skillet. Simmer for 5 minutes.

(Serves 8)
(Source unknown)

This didn't have near the flavor I thought it would. And I even served with rice and used coconut milk instead of water for flavor. None of us liked this one--what was I thinking serving a "luau" dish with no pineapple? I should've known!!

Roasted Carrots

1 lb. carrots
6 T Italian dressing, divided

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut carrots into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Place in foil-lined shallow baking pan. Toss with 2 T of dressing. Cover with foil.

Bake 20 minutes.

Remove foil; stir. Bake additional 20-25 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Serve tossed with remaining 4 T dressing.

(Serves 4)
(Kraft Food and Family Magazine)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Being that it's been a very hot and dry summer, I wasn't really looking forward to tonight's meal (and Russ probably even less). We were pleasantly surprised--it was comfort food, light! The sour cream base really lightened it up and we all really liked this one.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

12 oz. uncooked egg noodles

12 oz. water packed tunafish, drained

2 cups button mushrooms, sliced

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

16 oz. fat free sour cream

1/2 cup fat free mayo

2 tsp. Dijon mustard (I used 1 tsp. Dijon and 1 tsp. regular mustard)
1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook noodles according to package directaions without added fat or salt; drain and transfer to a large bowl. Fold in tuna, mushrooms, and peas.

Whisk sour cream, mayo, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper together in a separate bowl; fold into noodle mixture. Transfer to a 4 qt. casserole dish; top with cheese. Bake until top is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

(Serves 8--1 cup each)

(; 6 points per serving)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pronto Stuffed Pasta Shells

Pronto Stuffed Pasta Shells

18 jumbo pasta shells
2 pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups diced rotissere chicken
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 container low-fat cottage cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 (16 oz.) jar Alfredo sauce

Prepare pasta shells according to package directions.

Meanwhile, drain chopped spinach well, pressing between paper towels.

Stir together spinach, chicken, basil, and next 4 ingredients. Spoon mixture evenly into shells.

Spread half of jarred Alfredo sauce in a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish. Arrange stuffed pasta shells over sauce, and pour remaining sauce over shells.

Bake, covered, at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until filling is hot and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes.

Note: To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed except for baking. Cover and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake, covered for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

(Serves 4-6)
(Southern Living August 2007)

They weren't as "pronto" as I would've liked them to be, but they were good. Not Russ' favorite, but he did eat them--Riley and I liked them!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

This morning, before Backyardigans and Dora started at our house, Paula Deen was on. She was making strawberry shortcake and Riley let me watch it. He turned his head to look at me and said, "Mommy, can we make that?" I was happy to oblige--and we were going to our neighbors for dinner, so that would be the perfect treat to share with friends.

Paula's Strawberry Shortcake

1 angel food cake
1 8-ounce pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 12-ounce container whipped topping, thawed
1 cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
3 T strawberry gelatin
1 cup water
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
whole strawberries and mint leaves for garnish

Slice cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. (I cubed the entire angel food cake.)

Mix together cream cheese, condensed milk, and whipped topping in a bowl; set aside.

In medium saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, and gelatin; add water. Cook stirring over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Fold in strawberries.

Place one layer of cake (I placed 1/3 of cubes) in trifle bowl. Top with a layer of glaze, followed by a layer of the custard mixture. Repeat steps for remainder of cake. Top with 3 whole strawberries and fresh mint leaves if desired.

(Serves 8-10)

Unfortuately I didn't get a picture of this one. It was beautiful AND delicious though, I promise. Thank you Miss Paula!

Monte Cristo Casserole

Monte Cristo Casserole

1 cup milk
1 T powdered sugar
2 cups freseh strawberries
2 pkgs frozen french toast slices
8 oz deli roast turkey, diced
8 oz. deli baked ham, diced
6 eggs
4 oz. swiss cheese, grated
1/2 cup strawberry ice cream topping

Preheat oven to 375. Heat milk in microwave on high for 3 minutes. Whisk eggs in small bowl. Add hot milk to eggs, whisking until blended.

Cut French toast into cubes; place in large bowl. Pour egg mixture over French toast cubes, toss gently.

Dice ham and turkey. Grate cheese. Combine ham, turkey, and cheese in medium bowl. Layer half of French toast cubes in bottom of 13x9 baking dish. Top with half meat and cheese mixture. Repeat.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and set in center. Remove to cooling rack; col 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Slice strawberries. Combine with topping in small bowl. Cut casserole into squares and top each with strawberry mixture to serve.

(Bunco Cookbook, from Tina--I think this was originally a Pampered Chef recipe)

This was great--I served as breakfast, but I think would be great for dinner too. We all loved it and I halved it and baked in an 8x8 baking dish--less leftovers!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (I prefer orange)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
NOT 1/4 cup chopped onions
2 green chile peppers, chopped (Anaheim if you buy fresh)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl, toss together all ingredients except for spices.
Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Serve with tortilla chips. Also great on fajitas!!

Cucumber Dip

Cucumber Dip

5 small cucumbers, unpeeled (I used 3 large)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (didn't realize I was out, so substituted apple cider with about 2T sugar)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. garlic salt, divided
2 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayo
NOT 2 tsp. fresh chives
Pita chips (Bagel Crisps are great too!)

Grate cucumbers into a medium bowl. Toss with rice vinegar, salt, and 1/2 tsp. garlic salt. Cover and chill 8 hours. Drain cucumber mixture well, pressing between paper towels.

Beat cream cheese, mayo, and remaining 1/2 tsp. garlic salt at medium speed with electric mixer 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Stir in cucumber mixture and NOT chives. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Garnish (NOT with more chives), and serve with pita chips.

(Yield 3 cups)
(Southern Living July 2007)

This was a great light, summery dip. It was a hit! I also think it would be great with baby carrots...or even cucumber slices.