Welcome to One Little Corner of the World. I share with you new recipes, some family recipes, and the antics of my kids. Enjoy reading!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey and Noodle Soup or Turkey and Noodles - Using leftovers from Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is over and I have leftovers in my fridge!  I know; it is surprising.  Who would have thought that someone would make more food than people would eat on a holiday?

One of my main concerns with Thanksgiving leftovers is making something tasty and healthy.  While I didn't watch my carbs too much on the holiday, I do have to watch almost every other day.  My goal in making leftovers is to morph my turkey into something that is low carb, or at least good carbs.

The whole wheat pasta that I used has lots of fiber and is made with whole grains.  It was a great change actually from the regular pasta I used to use.  The whole grain pasta doesn't fall apart, because it is much more substantial.

Anyway, today I made turkey stock and Turkey Noodle Soup - a really thick soup.  Hubby likes stew, I like soup, so I try to compromise and make a thick soup.  Maybe I should actually call this Turkey and Noodles....whatever.  It made for a terrific meal!!!

For the stock, I cleaned out my produce drawers from Thanksgiving.

Turkey Stock - my version today

1 turkey carcass
3 stalks celery, chopped in large pieces
3 carrots, chopped in large pieces
1 onion, chopped in large pieces
1 turnip, chopped in large pieces
1 small bunch fresh sage
1 small bunch fresh thyme
5 cloves garlic - whole
2 tsp peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce and partially cover. Simmer for 2 hours.  Pull the carcass out and take off any meat.  Set aside.  Remove everything else from the stock and throw away.  Allow stock to cool.  Put in freezer safe containers and freeze.  Keep for up to three months.

Thick Turkey Noodle Soup or Turkey and Noodles - you choose

4 quarts turkey stock - thawed
8 oz, whole grain pasta - your choice
Leftover turkey from stock
Two tbsp Turkish seasoning - or steak seasoning of your choice
1 tbsp italian seasoning
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
One large bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 to 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

Thaw four quarts of stock and bring to a boil in a stock pot.  Add Italian seasoning and Turkish seasoning to stock.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  While pasta is cooking, make a roux with the butter and flour.

Whisk the roux into the soup mixture.  Add turkey and heavy cream to soup.  Stir in parsley.  Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup was totally yummy!  I added a lot of turkey to make it a really thick, stick to your ribs soup.  The cream, while not a lot, added a richness and creaminess to the soup.  It hit the spot.  I have been making turkey and noodles or chicken and noodles for years, and I personally think this batch is the best I have made so far.  Homey comfort food at its best.

I hope your holidays were wonderful!  Talk to you soon!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pumpkin-Chocolate Whoopie Pies

We tried a test run on a dessert for Thanksgiving today.  I think it is a hit!  Pumpkin-Chocolate Whoopie Pies!!  My oldest and I have been checking this recipe out for a while now, and today we decided to give it a test drive.  I know this isn't a good carb choice, but it is holiday time, and the kids need tasty desserts!!!

This is a very easy recipe to make - didn't take much time at all.  My only comment would be about the chocolate mixture.  If one goes by the exact recipe, I think the chocolate will be too stiff.  I added more heavy cream as I was mixing to loosen up the chocolate, and I think it worked out well.  There was also a lot left.  I added some to the pies, and still had quite a bit left over.

The pumpkin cookie was moist, but not too sweet, and I really liked the middle - so did my son - he is cleaning out the bowl as I type.  This will definitely be on the dessert table this year.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 c. all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. fine salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. pure pumpkin puree
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/4 c., room temperature
3/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar, plus more for serving

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, melted butter and 1/4 c. heavy cream. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and whisk just until combined.

2. Drop dough in 2 tbsp. mounds, 1 inch apart, onto two parchment- lined baking sheets. Bake until tops of cookies spring back when gently pressed, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets haflway through.
Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

3. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room temperature butter, 1/2 c. cream, cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar on medium- high until fluffy, 2 minutes. Spread filling on flat side of half the cookies; sandwich with remaining cookies. To serve, dust with confectioner's sugar. Makes 10.

Per pie: 446 cal; 19 g fat (12 g sat. fat); 6 g protein; 67 g carbs; 3 g fiber.

Source: Everyday Food Magazine

Enjoy your holiday with family and friends!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dinner with Family

Ok - last Saturday night was family cooking night.  With pizza crusts from the hill, pepperoni from Volpi's, and sausage from the fireman, we were ready for pizza making.  The boys had a blast creating their masterpieces.

I love to shop on the Hill in St. Louis.  I usually try to go with friends, but sometimes I take the kids - they love to eat on the Hill.  Pizza or spaghetti is their favorite.

There are a few Italian grocery stores I love to go to on the Hill.  Viviano's, DeGregorio's, and Urzi's always have what I am looking for.  Volpi's is a great little meat place, where I like to get sausage and other meats.

I always make a stop at World's Fair Donuts on the way home.  They are the only donuts in the world worth stopping for.  Opened in 1977, this little donut shop is the Bomb!!!  If you get a chance, head down there.  Great donuts from scratch are hard to come by.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crabmeat Dip

A few months ago, I made a crab dip from a cookbook I bought while on vacation in the Outer Banks.  It was an easy recipe that was enjoyed by everyone.  I unearthed the recipe yesterday and made it for the Chicken and Beer dance.

The Chicken and Beer dance is an event that is put on by the Community Hall trustees- it is a local event that has been going on for years.  The chicken, beer, and music is provided, and people bring their own sides.

We had a good time dancing and hanging out with friends.  It is nice to have a night out with adults and no kids every once in a while.

Crabmeat Dip from A Taste of the Outer Banks

3 oz. package cream cheese softened
1/2 cup mayonaise
2/3 cup tomato soup, undiluted
1/2 pound crabmeat, cooked
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
Tabasco (optional)

Stir in mayonaise and tomato soup into softened cream cheese and blend well.  Mix in crabmeat, garlic, salt, pepper and Tabasco.  Serve with crackers, vegetables, or chips

I like to let the dip sit in the fridge for a while - let the flavors combine.  The soup really adds a creamy texture and great flavor.  Try it next time you are in a pickle for what to make!

Graham Cracker Banana Muffins

Ok so I went to the store and bought more graham crackers.  My muffins are in the oven as I type.  I just wanted to jot down the recipe so I could recycle the graham cracker box.  I don't have the nuts to put on top - I actually just used the last of my walnuts and totally forgot to buy more.  Oh well; maybe next time.

Banana-Nut Graham Muffins

16 graham crackers, finely crushed
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk - it called for fat free, but I used 2 percent
2 tbsp honey
2 fully ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine graham crumbs, sugar, and baking powder until well mixed.  Mix all remaining ingredients except nuts in a large bowl.  Add graham mixture; stir until just blended.

Spoon into 12 paper lined muffin cups; top with nuts.

bake 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for five minutes.  Remove to wire rack; cool slightly.

My boys and I tried one - they took a lot longer to cook than what the directions said.  They were very moist; the moistest muffins I have ever tasted.  I thought they had an interesting flavor - we will see later!

I am taking these to a "Chicken and Beer" dance that Hubby and I are going to.  I hope everyone likes them!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Raspberry Corn Muffins

I wanted to make something for the boys this morning, since I didnt' have to work.  I had originally planned to make banana graham cracker muffins, but I didn't have enough graham crackers.  They are next on the agenda after a trip to the store.

I looked to my Good Housekeeping cookbook for inspiration.  That book always seems to have a recipe that sounds yummy.  I decided on the Blueberry Corn Muffins.  This past summer, my youngest developed a love for corn bread; I thought this was a great fit for him.

The muffins were great.  I used raspberries instead of blueberries, and mine were frozen, but they worked well.  The cornmeal added a coarser texture and an earthiness to the muffins that I really liked.

Blueberry Corn Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup blueberries or raspberries

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin tin or use muffin cups.  In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a small bowl, with fork, beat buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla until well blended.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).  Fold in berries.

2.  Spoon into prepared muffin tins.  Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean - 20 to 25 minutes.  Immediately remove muffins from pan.  Cool on wire rack or serve warm.  Makes 12 muffins.

I hope if you have today to share with your family, you have great family time!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cubed Beef Stroganoff

I know I have talked about this before, but I am going to mention that we get a side of beef each year once again.  The reason this time, is that I made a beef stroganoff with cubed round steak that was really very good.

I am always wondering what to do with some of the meat that comes with the side.  We always seem to get a ton of cubed round steak, and I always have a problem deciding what to do with it.  It is a very tough cut of meat.  I have dredged in flour and egg, and made a version of chicken fried steak, but I don't want to do that all the time.  I have made a beef stroganoff before in my electric skillet, but again, the meat is usually pretty tough.

This time, though, I finally got smart.  I cooked my meat mixture in the oven for two hours - made for the most tender beef stroganoff I have ever made.  It was one of my best dishes, I think.

Here is the recipe - I don't have a picture.  The ones I took didn't turn out well.

Cubed Beef Stroganoff

3 lbs. cube steak, cut into bite sized chunks and combined with steak seasoning
1/2 tbsp steak seasoning
olive oil
1 leek, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 to 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp steak seasoning split
1 - 2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 quart beef stock
1 lb. pasta - your choice, cooked per package directions.
sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Italian parsley chopped

Heat oil (enough to liberally coat bottom of a large oven proof skillet or brasier).  Add leeks and cook until softened.  Add garlic and mushrooms - you may have to add more oil to pan, and cook until softened.  Add meat and saute until meat is browned.  Add rest of steak seasoning, Italian seasoning,  and beef stock.  Stir to combine.

Cover pan and cook in a 300 degree oven for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven.  Add flour; combine until mixture is thickened to your likeness.  Add sour cream and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over pasta.

I didn't put a lot of measurements for the ingredients, because I add until the taste is where I want it for my family.  I also used a whole grain pasta - it really holds up well in this recipe.  The steak seasoning I used is a very bold seasoning with a lot of pepper - adds a great punch to the dish that is a little mellowed by the sour cream.

I hope you all enjoy! This was an easy recipe to make.  There were leftovers, and dinner was enjoyed by all!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Mistake - A New Recipe

I used to wonder how recipes were created.  I figured out one way a few months ago.  I was cooking some chicken breasts and thighs in the oven, and darn it! I overcooked them a bit!  While that really isn't a big deal with the chicken thighs, I was worried about the chicken breasts - they get so dry.  I could tell by looking at them that they were dry.  I didn't want to get rid of them, but I wasn't sure what to do with them.

I decided to put the chicken in the food processor.  I don't know why, but that was my decision.  I made a spreadable chicken salad.  I didn't know how it would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Hubby and my oldest went nuts - they really liked it.

My philosophy concerning this particular salad is to just put in whatever ingredients you have in the fridge.  I have made this salad with quite a few ingredients, and it always turns out well.

Here is the basic recipe.

Chicken breasts and/or thighs
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Steak seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place chicken on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning.  Cook about 10 on the first side, flip and cook about 6 minutes on second side, or until chicken is done.  Let cool.

When chicken is cool, cut into medium sized chunks and place in food processor.  Process until chicken is starting to break up.  Add any combination of other ingredients to the chicken and process until desired consistency.

Here are my other ingredient combinations that I have come up with.

hard boiled eggs

Black olives

Black olives
Green onions

Come up with your own combinations - this is a creative dish!

Put mixture in a large bowl and add mayonnaise and Dijon mustard.  Combine; season with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning if desired.

This turned out to be one of my favorite recipe creations.  I really like that it came out of a mistake in cooking.

This is also a good recipe for those who are watching carbohydrates.  What I have added to my chicken is either low in carbs - or has no carbs at all.  Just watch what you put the salad on.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eating Healthy - Learning about food

For the past year, I have been working on lowering my blood sugar.  I found out last August that my blood sugar was over the “normal” range.  My doctors wanted me to start taking medication to lower my levels, but I wanted to try doing it naturally.

When I talked to his office, the nurses were less than enthusiastic about me trying it on my own, and they had no problem telling me so.  Needless to say, I pushed, and was given three weeks to bring my levels down.

That night, I went to the grocery store, and I spent two hours there looking at every food label, trying to understand exactly what I was eating.  I found websites geared towards diabetics to understand what food was making my blood sugar rise.

This website – from Self magazine allows the reader to figure out what is in almost any food.  I found this to be extremely helpful.  I also went to the American Diabetes Association website.  While I haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, I thought this website would help me get a handle on how to not become diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

I realized pretty quickly that I was eating about 100 carbs before I left my house each morning (bagel, 56 carbs; banana, 30 carbs; and orange juice, 25 carbs).  I was totally amazed.  My ideas of healthy eating were totally blown away.  I had to revamp my entire diet.

One of the things my doctor’s office told me was that I was going to have to eat like a diabetic.  For someone who loves to cook, that sounded like a death sentence.  The diabetic web sites, on the other hand, stated that if a person ate according to the food plate, pyramid – whatever is the correct term – was fine.  I thought to myself, “I can do that.” 

I started changing what I ate, and three weeks later, my blood sugar was down by over 40 points.  I had also lost about 9 pounds!    This past year has been eye opening.  My blood sugar has stayed at normal levels with no medicine, and I have lost 50 pounds.  I feel much better. 

Here are some of the changes I made

Breakfast:  before I would eat a bagel, banana, and orange juice.  Now I eat a tortilla with 7 carbs, turkey and cheese, and V-8 juice.  Every other day or so, I still have a banana.

I used to eat crackers for a snack, but that is total carbs.  Now I snack on a serving of nuts – usually almonds. 

Lunch: I used to take leftovers, but now I take WASA crackers with Laughing Cow cheese and some lunchmeat.  For my fruit, I take blackberries and raspberries.

Dinner:  if I make pasta, I make sure that I am using a whole grain pasta with fiber – that means it will go through my system slowly.  I have lean proteins, vegetables and one carb serving.  Last night for example, I made tater tots for my family, and I ate one serving – 22 carbs.  That was the only carb in my dinner.  For the rest of dinner we grilled pork chops and brats, and I made some spinach.

I have found that my food choices have really affected the way I feel.  Prior to my diet change, I would get tired every day around 1:00, but now I usually don’t.  I just don’t get that afternoon slump any more.

More later.  Enjoy your day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gooey Butter Cake - my favorite!

I know I haven't posted in a while, and I know this isn't a good blood sugar recipe, but sometimes, you just have to say, "What the hell."

I love gooey butter cake; it is one of my all time favorite desserts of all time.  If I am not mistaken, it has its roots in St. Louis history, along with toasted ravioli.  I found a recipe in one of my cookbooks - A Taste of the Hill, a St. Louis local cookbook.  It turned out so well - and it was so easy too!

Gooey Butter Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
3/4-1 box powdered sugar to sprinkle over top
3 eggs
1 pkg. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cake mix, 1 egg melted butter; pat into bottom of ungreased 9 x 13- inch glass baking dish.  mix powdered sugar, 2 eggs, cream cheese, and vanilla.  stir until well mixed and then pour over top of cake mixture, making sure that the cream cheese mixture covers the edges.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar and cool.

I made sure my eggs and cream cheese were at room temperature.  I personally think that the cake is better today than yesterday.  It really set up well and tasted to me, better.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quick trip to visit family

My kids and I took a quick trip to Ohio to see my grandma - she is 100 - and to Canada to see my cousin and her new baby.  While it was a quick trip, we had a great time.

 Grandma was amazing.  At 100, she is slow, but she is all there.  I am amazed every time I see her.  I have such great memories of her - she has been a part of my life since forever.  I am blessed to still have her in my my life.  While I know I won't ever have pumpkin pie or potatoes cooked in bacon fat; yum!

My kids talk about her quite a bit.  She is their great grandma, and she loves to sit there and hold her hands and stroke their faces.  While they are at an antsy age, they sit quietly for her and answer all her questions.  The link between the young and the old is a wonder to see.  When they were younger, they used to beg to sit by her at meals.  They think she is pretty cool.

I also spent time with my aunt.  She is one of my favorite people in the world.  She always has an upbeat attitude, and is just plain fun to be around.  She and her husband winter in Florida every year and spend the rest of the year in Ohio.  She and her hubby are very creative, and they seem to work well together.  I am glad they found each other.

We also went to my cousin's house in Canada.  She and her husband live on a farm, and he raises pigs.  I have never seen such a large operation.  The boys both got to hold a baby pig.  I think they had the best time in Canada - it was their first trip to a foreign country, and they enjoyed looking for the differences between the two countries.

I was impressed how my kids interacted with their new cousin, a five month old baby boy.  Spending so much time with him prompted my kids to ask all kinds of questions about how they acted as kids.  They wanted to know if they did the same things their baby cousin was doing now.  I have to say, it was really cute.

We also went to Niagara Falls - what a beautiful place.  I was there once before, when I was a freshman in high school.  The falls haven't changed, but the area around sure has.  There is so much to do, other than the falls.  I have to say, it was strange to see the difference in the falls between my two visits.  The first time I was there, I don't remember anything but the falls and one little gift shop.  Now there are go kart tracks, many gift shops, restaurants, a Ripley's theatre, and so much more!  Not being into commercialism, I amazed myself, because I want to go back and explore more.

My cousin was a great host!  Niagara Falls is only about an hour and a half from her house, but of course, the QEW was closed and we had to figure out a different way to get there.  A short trip ended up taking more than twice as long to get there.  Even though it took a long time to get there, we had a great time.  We stopped at McDonald's for lunch.  It is the first time the boys have been there in a year.  I think they savored every bite!  

On our last day in Canada, we saw one of my other cousins.  She is woking her way through college, so she has to work a lot.  We at at the restaurant where she works.  We didn't get to spend much time with her, but it was good to see her.

Our trip was short, but I am so glad we went.  I didn't get to spend very much time with my grandma - she had a busy week planned.  I wasn't the only person to visit; my dad and stepmother, my brother, and a friend from California came to visit too.  She is a very popular person.

Family is very important.  I hope I teach that to my kids as they grow up.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer camp

The boys went to cam for the first time this year.  It was only for three days, but I totally missed them!  I can't believe how much I missed their noisiness, hugs, arguments, snuggles, and all that goes with raising boys.  It was so quiet Monday night and cooking dinner for two was strange.

They went with two of their friends from school.  The camp is located in a small town about an hour away.  There is a nice lake and the boys cabin sat right on the lake.  They told me they had the best view of the lake, but the worst bathroom.

Going to their camp brought back so many memories of my days at camp.  I think my summer camp times were some of the best times from my childhood.

All the councilors at camp had camp nicknames - the boys' councilor's name was "Falcon."

 They had a blast, though, and are ready for more next year.  I have a year to get ready for the empty nest again.  

Baked Eggs

Yesterday, I  decided to bake my eggs for breakfast.  It was so easy.  I also made toaster hash browns to go with them, but I cooked mine in the oven.  It was a quick easy breakfast that I am adding to my breakfast menu rotation.

Baked Eggs

4 eggs
chopped ham or other meat
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Butter two ramekins on sides and bottom.  Add chopped ham to the bottom of the ramekins.  Add two eggs to each ramekin - try to not break the yokes.  Add salt and pepper and little broken bits of butter to the dish.  This helps the eggs to not burn.  Top with grated cheese.

Place ramekins in a shallow pan and fill pan with water.  Bring to a simmer on the stove top.  Place in oven for 5-7 minutes until whites are just set.  Serve immediately.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Frog in the Pool!!!!

Last night, Dad and the boys were going to get into the pool.  First we had to get out the largest frog we have ever seen in our neighborhood.  It took a few minutes to scoop it out of the pool as he was hopping from side to side very quickly.  The boys thought it was pretty cool - he was large!

Anyway, he seemed to kind of pass out for a few minutes.  We carried him to the water in our ditch in the front yard and set him down.  I didn't hold out much hope for him, but when I went back later to check on him, he was gone.  I guess he woke up and hopped away!

KC Masterpiece Buffalo Sauce

I received a bottle of KC Masterpiece Buffalo Marinade as a gift from Foodbuzz and Masterpiece.  It is very easy to use.  Just pick your meat, and marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge.  If you want even more flavor, just brush on more while on the grill.

I chose to make buffalo shrimp tonight for dinner.  All I did was clean the shrimp and marinade in the buffalo sauce for 30 minutes.  It couldn't have been easier, and the flavor was pretty good too! If you are looking for a quick meal, KC marinades are for you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Exploring in the Outdoors and Making a Quick Dinner

Ok, so the other day, I took the boys to Silver Lake with a friend of mine.  We had lunch and then explored a bit of the lake.  Everyone had a good time, and the kids really liked climbing the rocks.  I love summer and the different activities that we get to do.  It is really nice to have such a nice lake right in our own back yard.  It was a perfect day for a picnic and a small hike.  I think we are planning to return to do some more exploring.

For dinner that night, I looked to the fridge.  I had some chicken chorizo sausage, arugula, pasta, and cheese.  I decided to make a light pasta dish with with the sausage and arugula - yum!!

8 oz pasta - your choice.  I used up leftover whole grain pasta
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olie oil
3 links Chicken chorizo - cooked and sliced thinly
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 large handfuls arugula lettuce
pasta water
1/2 cup parmesan cheese - shredded
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, heat up garlic and chorizo in a large skillet with olive oil over med high heat.  Deglaze pan with white wine and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, add cooked pasta and arugula.  Stir to wilt lettuce.  Add cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.  Yum!!

My oldest just loved this pasta.  It is a really light and airy dish that is perfect for the summer.  Next time you don't know what to cook for a meal, look in the fridge - the answer might be in front of your nose!

Vacation to the Outer Banks.....Again

We went to the Outer Banks for our vacation again this year.  We really like North Carolina, and the boys are in love with the place.  We are planning on going back again next year.  We stayed at a different hotel this year - The Nag's Head Inn.  While the rooms were a little small, the hotel was clean and well managed.  The staff was very friendly and helpful.  Our room overlooked the ocean; it was so relaxing to sit and listen to the surf and watch the water.  I am always amazed by the power of the ocean.

I kind of felt like we were totally reliving last years vacation, as we stopped at Los Avages in Charleston, West VA just like last year.  We really like that Mexican restaurant.  The food is simple but very good, and the margaritas are some of the best I have tried.

As we were driving in the Outer Banks, we couldn't help but notice the smoke that seemed to be everywhere.  We looked for the source of the smoke to no avail;  we finally arrived at the hotel and asked the desk clerk where the fire was.  She told us that the fire was in the flatlands quite a ways away from Nag's Head.  Depending on which way the wind blew determined how much smoke was in the area.  We were a little worried that first night, as the smoke was very thick, but we didn't see much at all for the the rest of our time there.

Just like last year, we went to Pamlico Jack's for dinner our first night.  I had the same dish I had had the year before - tuna.....yum.  Hubby had tuna as well, but his was prepared differently.  We tried a new restaurant called Awful Arthur's.  We will definitely be back.  The food was excellent - the kids tried clam strips and loved them.  I had sauteed soft shelled crabs and Hubby had a combo plate.  We were all very impressed.

For our last night, we went to Pier House, a restaurant we have gone to each time we have visited the Outer Banks.  It is a small restaurant, but the food is probably some of the best we have ever had.

We just happened to stumble upon it when I was pregnant with my oldest.  We had taken a vacation to the East Coast; Williamsburg, Asheville, and the Outer Banks.  We only spent an afternoon in the Banks, but it was a memorable time for us.  We had dinner at the Pier restaurant and then took a walk on the pier.  This year, we went fishing on the pier first - I caught the ocean's smallest fish.  The boys had fun trying out different fishing poles and watching the ocean water.  Our dinner this year was as good as ever.  I don't know what it is about the place.  It is a simple restaurant, nothing fancy.

We spent lots of time on the beach, and we visited another lighthouse.  This year we climbed to the top of the Currituck lighthouse - the last lighthouse built on the Outer Banks.  I don't know why, but there is something romantic about lighthouses.  I just love them.

We decided to take some bread out to the sea gulls on the beach.  What was so interesting is that we found one gull close to us, so we decided to give him a little bread.  Within twenty seconds, we had about seven gulls flying around us.  It was like the one gull had sonar or something.  The boys thought it was really cool, and I think I got some neat pictures.  We got the idea from a waitress, who told us that the gulls will take french fries right out of a person's hands.  The boys were hooked after they heard that.

There was much more that we did, but I would need a week to tell you about it.  What I want to say is that I feel very fortunate to be able to spend time with my family in such a beautiful spot.  Creating memories for the kids is very important - for us too!  Have a great day!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

It always happens.  I get this huge urge to cook when I am on vacation.  So of course, when I got home, I cooked.  I made pumpkin muffins for my oldest and lemon poppyseed muffins for my youngest.  I love poppyseed muffins and was excited to find this recipe in my binder.  It seems that I printed it out quite a while ago and never made it.

The only change I would make is to add more lemon; other than that, the muffins were great.  I really like the texture of them, and they were pretty easy to make.  I just pulled out my ingredients the night before and started cooking in the morning.  Enjoy!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - from Big Oven

1 1/3 cupsCake flour
1/2 teaspoonBaking soda
4 ouncesButter
1 1/3 cupsSugar
3 tablespoonsLemon juice
3 teaspoonsLemon Peel; grated
2 teaspoonsVanilla
5 tablespoonsPoppy seeds
1/2 cupSour cream

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter muffin tins for 12 muffins. Sift the dry ingredients (flour and soda) and set aside. Cream the butter in a large bowl and add the sugar a little at a time, beating until light and fluffy; add the eggs one at a time, beating well, then add the lemon juice, vanilla, lemon peel and poppy seeds. Add the flour and sour cream to this making sure the batter is well mixed. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm or cool on a cake rack. The original recipe calls for separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites separately with half the sugar. This meringue is then folded into the batter just before baking. This makes for a lighter muffin, but is unnecessary.

New Produce Box

We just got back from vacation.  Just like last year, we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  On the way to the Banks, there is a large produce stand called Morris Farm Market.  There are several items that we like to buy.  Hubby loves the bloody mary mix, we all love the ciders, and I Just love to try new things, so we always buy salsa, syrup, and other items.  This year we bought jams for the boys.  The little one picked a peach jam, while the older one picked black raspberry.

Hubby started carrying our stuff around in a box we thought was meant to use kind of like a cart.  We were mistaken - they were for sale.  I, for some reason, really liked it and decided we just had to have it.  When we got home, I decided to use it for the produce that we buy.  It is a nice memento to have of our vacation.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kids' Burger Competition and Jakey in June

This past weekend was the fourth annual Jakey in June BBQ contest.  This event is something that my kids look forward to every year.  The get to enter the contest as well.  For kids 10 and under, there is a burger grilling contest; for kids 11 and up, there is a pork chop grilling contest.  My kids talk about their burger recipe throughout the year, thinking about the different combinations they want in their burgers.

My oldest told me about a month ago, that he wanted a "backwards" burger - with the bun on the inside.  After looking at different recipes, we decided that bread crumbs would be a great solution.  He also loves pesto sauce, so that went in as well.

Italian burger
8 oz. ground beef
A scant 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs, plus more for coating burgers
1/4 to 1/2 cup pesto
1/4 cup fresh grated parm cheese
2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients.  Make two burgers.  Dredge burgers in bread crumbs and coat completely.  Grill to desired doneness.  Garnish with Caprese Salad.

My youngest on the other hand, decided that he wanted to put cilantro and green onions in his burger.  He also wanted cheddar cheese.  We decided to also add black beans and taco seasoning.

Mexican burger
8 oz. ground beef
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/8 cup diced green onions
1/8 cup chopped cilantro

Mix all ingredients.  Make two hamburgers and grill to desired doneness.  Garnish with chips and salsa.

The boys didn't win, but they had a blast creating their burger recipes, and we had a lot of fun practicing.    I think we made these burgers at least six times.  This past Friday was a bonus for the boys and me.  We went to the Hill to get the bread crumbs and ended up having lunch at Guido's Pizzeria.  My oldest started getting full when he had three pieces of pizza left.  He then took it as a "Man vs. Food" challenge and ate the rest of the pizza.  It was a riot.

I am glad we enter the contest each year.  We are creating great memories and giving the boys a chance to use their imaginations to dream up their own burgers that reflect the foods they like to eat.  They already have ideas for next year's burgers!

In addition to the burger contest, I got to judge for four different categories.  On Saturday night it was the Anything But, dessert, and Margaritas.  The Anything But is a great event for judges.  The teams prepare anything but chicken, ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket.  We had shrimp, salmon, filet, pork tenderloin.....yum!!!  The second category was desserts.  They looked fabulous!!!  I tried brownies with a raspberry surprise, chocolate cheesecake, grilled pineapple, a chocolate pie, and a caramel apple pie.  It is a difficult job, but someone has to do it.

After that it was time for margaritas.  There were some really good margaritas this year.  I think my favorite was the margarita with the hint of a pepper in it.  It was surprise, but very good.

Sunday morning brought more judging.  This was the big time.  Chicken, ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket were on the menu.  It is amazing how people can take the same procedure and make a completely different tasting piece of meat.  I really enjoy judging BBQ; it makes me want to learn how to smoke and slow cook meats better.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A New Shrimp Recipe - Totally Rocks!

For Memorial Day, we practiced making burgers for Jakey in June - a local BBQ contest that has a kids' Q contest.  For the past three years my boys have entered the contest, and for the past three years, we have had a blast putting our burger recipes together.  I will post our recipes after the contest.

We also tried a new shrimp recipe - Margarita Grilled Shrimp from Allrecipes - with a name like that, how bad can it be?  Well I can tell you, it was really good.  What I liked most was that the ingredients are all usually things I have on hand.  I only marinated my shrimp for the prescribed 30 minutes - the acid in the limes will start the cooking process if you go any longer, and that might give you tough shrimp.

The shrimp had a nice little kick to it.  I liked the flavor of the tequila, and the garlic flavor really came through.  I only used 1/8 tsp of the red pepper, as I don't like really hot food.  I didn't tell my husband I cut down the pepper.  The more heat the better as far as he is concerned.

I hope you all had a nice Memorial Day.  I always think of my former students who have entered the armed forces and are protecting our country.  This day is really about them, those who fight to protect us and our rights.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pesto Mozzarella Bread - a new staple in our house

My son loves Pesto sauce.  Since he was three, pesto has been his favorite sauce for pasta.  A few weeks ago, I decided to try something different, and I put pesto and fresh mozzarella on some asiago cheese bread I had purchased on the Hill in St. Louis.  Number One son loved it!

One of the things I like most about this is that I can eat a couple of pieces and not worry about the carb count - Two small pieces of this bread don't amount to many carbs.  Good if you are watching your blood sugar.

It is so easy to make.  All I did was rub garlic on the toasted bread, spread pesto sauce on the bread and topped with the fresh mozzarella.  I put the bread under the broiler to melt the cheese and served.  Following is the pesto recipe I used - courtesy Food Network.

5 big handfuls basil leaves (about 2 hefty bunches)
1/2 cup pine nuts or 3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt
About 20 grinds freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients with 1/2 cup of the oil in a blender and blend. Gradually drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil until pesto is thick and smooth.
Enjoy!!  Talk to you soon!!

Memorial Day and grilling. A great start to summer

I have to say that I am glad that school is over.  Not that I don't like school, I do, the end of the year is just so busy for me that when it finally ends, I am sort of glad.  On the flip side, I am happy to start the year each August too.  Maybe I will have some more time to post to my blog.  I sure hope so.

Enough of that, for our first grilling of the "summer," I decided that we needed to grill some wings.  Last week was our annual Strawberry Festival, and while I was there, one of the groups that grills brats cooked some wings that I thought were very good.  I searched on the internet and found the recipe.  It is from a  Marlboro cookbook - I never even knew Marlboro had cookbooks.

This recipe is very easy and quite tasty if you like an oriental twist to your recipes.  Marlboro JK's Original Western Wings recipe can be found on Group Recipes.  The next time I make it I might put some green onions in the marinade - I love green onions.  I also marinated them all night.  I think that made the flavor stronger.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meatball Soup

I just love soup.  For some reason, soup really reenergizes my soul.  This soup recipe hit the spot.  The recipe is from a coworker of my husband’s.  He thought it sounded good, so I made it last week.  While I didn’t have the curly endive, I did have spinach – made for a great substitute.  As I am watching my carbs, I chose whole grain pasta too.  I liked the flavor and texture the noodles added to the soup. I also used turkey Italian meatballs – lower calories and fat, but great taste.

This recipe came from Stephanie Ashcroft’s book 101 Things to do with Meatballs

Italian Meatball Soup
1 pound Casa Di Bertacchi Italian Style meatballs (5/8-ounce size), frozen (about 25 meatballs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced into one-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
12 cups low-sodium chicken stock 
1 1/2 cups uncooked twist pasta
1/ 2 bunch of curly endive, rough chopped
Cracked black pepper
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

– Place large soup pot on medium-high heat. Add olive oil and preheat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped onions and carrots to soup pot. Stir vegetables into olive oil and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent. Pour chicken stock into pot with onions and carrots. Add frozen meatballs and uncooked pasta. Add rough-chopped endives to soup pot. Bring soup to a low rolling boil. Simmer until pasta is al dente (firm but not hard) and meatballs are fully heated through. 
– Season soup to taste with fresh cracked black pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese.

This was a nice soup to make on a cold day – we have had a few here lately.  The flavors blended well, and the soup was quite filling.  I would most definitely make this again.  My only change would be to make a half batch for my family.  This recipe makes a ton of soup.

Happy eating!!