Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Salad de Barbacoa

The only thing I know of barbacoa is what they serve at Chipotle, although I'm not sure I've ever had that since I usually get the chicken.  
But I saw this at Food.People.Want and bookmarked it right away.  

It actually reminds me a lot of PW's spicy shredded pork that I love so much, just done with beef. hard to choose a favorite!  It's like trying to choose your favorite child...maybe you just shouldn't!

It was hard for me to take a decent picture of a bowl full of meat without out it looking kinda blech, but here's a snippet.

I chose to have mine on a bed of greens, along with some of that pineapple-pepper relish that I had left over, but the rest of the family had theirs taco style.  Either way, I think we all loved it.

Here is the recipe from their website:


  • 1/3 cup  cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3-4 canned chipotle chiles, no adobo  (I couldn't find any that were not in adobo, so I just rinsed them was still good!)
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt or 3 teaspoons Kosher
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 pounds boneless chuck roast, excess fat removed
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 20 warm corn tortillas
  • Diced white onion, chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°.
  2. Combine the cider vinegar, lime juice, chipotle chiles, garlic cloves, cumin, oregano, clove, black pepper and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until completely smooth — about a minute or so.  Transfer the spice paste to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Dry the roast all over with paper towels, cut away any excess fat and slice the meat into 4 evenly sized pieces.  Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a very large pot set over high heat until it begins to shimmer.  Working in batches if necessary, sear the beef on all sides until deeply browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chile puree to the pot and stir until the beef is well-coated.  Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and bring the liquid to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the lid with tin foil and add the lid to create a very tight seal.  Place the pot in the oven and braise the meat for 5-6 hours, removing the lid during the last hour or so to allow the simmering liquid to reduce slightly. Allow the beef to cool slightly, spoon off any easily removable fat from the braising liquid and then use two forks to pull/shred the beef into bite size pieces.
  5. Taste and adjust as necessary for seasonings.  Serve spooned onto warm corn tortillas topped with diced white onion, chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple-Pepper Relish

Found this one at My Recipes.  I'm always a little leery about trying to prepare fish, but this turned out pretty good.

I especially loved this relish made with fresh pineapple, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.  I thought it went perfect with the fish.  The fish was a little spicy (as the title suggests) but my son just loved it too.

Here are the how to's:

  • 2  teaspoons  canola oil
  • 1  teaspoon  Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 4  (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1/3  cup  chopped onion
  • 1/3  cup  chopped plum tomato
  • 2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1  small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4  lime wedges


Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle fish evenly with spice mixture. Add fish to pan, and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.
Combine pineapple and next 5 ingredients (through jalapeño) in a large bowl, stirring gently. Serve pineapple mixture with fish. Garnish with lime wedges.

I received a nice surprise from the people at Quorn this week.  It's a way cool measuring spoon with 3 sides with a different measurement on each side.  Nice way to have less clutter in your kitchen drawer. 
Not that I would know what that's about.

And lastly, a new family member arrived at our house today.  A lime tree!  I'm awfully excited, I think I'm going to call him baby limey.  But that would be stupid, so I'm just going to call it a tree.  I have no idea how long it takes to bear fruit.  But I'll be dreaming of lime pies and possibly margaritas until then!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

So I fell off the wagon today just a little.  Or more than a little.  It was inevitable and I blame this book.

It's supposed to be about the author's year long spiritual journey, but so far to me it's just pure food porn!  Fortunately I'm up to the part where she just left Italy so hopefully it will ease up a bit.  I'm finding it a pretty good read, considering it's not about angsty teenage vampires or werewolves.

Which brings us to today's dinner....Spaghetti and Meatballs.

I've made spaghetti with meat sauce at least a million times, but never with meatballs.  Since I was off the wagon, I figured I might as well do it right.

This is a combination of Ina Garten's and Rachael Ray's Recipes.  
It's Ina's sauce, and Rachael's meatballs.  I would have liked to have gone Barefoot Contessa all the way, but Rachael's recipe let me use stuff I already had on hand.  (no fresh ground veal in the house, wouldn't ya know it!)

Rachael has you bake the meatballs rather than frying, which I suppose is a good thing...

Then they finish cooking by simmering in the sauce for about 25 minutes.  

My assessment is they're pretty good meatballs, but I'm not feeling any new spiritual awakening because of them.  

Here are the 2 recipes for you.

1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin (I just used extra lean ground beef)
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together, roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes.

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. 
Serve it atop your favorite pasta and enjoy!

Wish me luck getting back on the straight and narrow tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan--Lightened Up

Are you somebody who really loves eggplant?  Well, this dish might be for you.  I personally would have preferred it with some chicken.  

I found this recipe at Cooking Light, and it's lightened up by not frying the eggplant but just browning it under the broiler.  
I did think the sauce was tasty, and I liked the way the cheese got all brown and melty.  

Here's the how-to's if you need your eggplant fix.


1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 (8-ounce) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (1-pound) eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup water
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Vegetable cooking spray
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Fresh oregano sprigs (optional)  

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.
Place eggplant in a large bowl; add water to cover, and let stand 30 minutes. Drain well; blot dry with paper towels. Combine 1/4 cup water and egg whites in a shallow bowl. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese; stir well. Dip eggplant in egg white mixture, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
Place half of eggplant on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and broil 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining eggplant. Set eggplant aside.
Spread half of tomato mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of eggplant over sauce; top with half of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers with remaining sauce, eggplant, and cheese.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh oregano sprigs, if desired.

Yield:  8 servings

CALORIES 298 (26% from fat); FAT 8.5g (sat 5g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.4g); IRON 2.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 27mg; CALCIUM 422mg; CARBOHYDRATE 38.8g; SODIUM 818mg; PROTEIN 19.2g; FIBER 2.6g 

Oh BTW...I went and got myself a Facebook Page.  I'd love to see ya there :D

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Breakfast Confessions

Since Sundays, and the weekend in general, seem to be a fairly quiet time here on my blog, this seems like a good time to make a confession to you all.  It's rather dark in nature and I'm not proud of it.  But I need to get it out there.

I have an addiction.  I've tried to stop.  I've tapered off.  Gone cold turkey.  Tried mental imagery.  But I always go back.  
I know in the big picture it's not really "good", and definitely not good for me.  But something coded into my DNA needs it, and needs it in a bad way.

You guessed it, it's McDonald's Sausage McGriddle.

I know, many of you are just shaking your heads, possibly making little gagging noises.  I just can't explain it.  Like millions before me, why do I continue to run back to something that only harms me, and takes my money?

I don't know the answer to that question.  But I may have found a solution.  Once again thanks to Hungry Girl.

This little guy is the fake McGriddle.

I think I could grow to love him too, and he'll be much kinder to my arteries and my thighs.

These are the main components to the pancake part of the fake McG.

Here's how you make it:

1.  Melt 1 tsp light buttery spread in the microwave.
2.  Add 2 1/2 tbsp sugar free syrup, 1 1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour, and 1/4 tsp baking powder and mix well.
3.  Bring a skillet sprayed with non stick spray to med heat.  Add batter to form 2 small pancakes.  Cook for 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown.  Then set pancakes aside
4.  Cook a veggie sausage patty (I used Morningstar Farm's) according to package directions.  Place between pancakes and enjoy.

Here's how I think the nutrition info breaks down.
The sausage patty is 80 calories.
The components of the pancakes add up to about 70 calories.
So about 150 calories compared to 420 for the real deal?  It's time for me to finally let go of my addiction.

Now if I can figure out how to put an "M" on top and mass produce it, I'll be in business.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Chicken Stir Fry

There are thousands of ways to make stir-fry, but I think the absolute best way is to take whatever sounds good to you at the moment and throw it in the proverbial wok.  
I was a single girl for a long time (hard to believe, I know) and I would often make a variation of this for myself with just the chicken, canned mushrooms, and onion.  That's not a bad way to go, but my kids frown upon the 'shrooms, and I felt like I needed some color today.

And of course there's a ton of sauces and seasonings out there, but today this was the trifecta, along with some garlic and a little extra soy.  Which might make it a cinco-fecta, but I don't really think that's a word.
I'm really liking this Veri Veri Teriyaki.  I'm not sure where all it's sold, I found mine at a Fresh and Easy.

So this is kinda how my stir fry method goes:

Start with a package of chicken breasts (I used tenders and slightly froze it to make it easier to cut into bite size chunks)
I drizzled just a bit of the sesame seed oil over the chicken; about a tablespoon, and also added some of the teriyaki; about 1/3 cup.  Then added about 2 tbsp of minced garlic, mixed the whole thing together and let it sit in the fridge about an hour.
In the meantime I chopped up the veggies I was wanting to use:
Red bell pepper
1/2 Onion
Small broccoli head
Snow peas (not chopped of course)

With my skillet over med-high heat, I sprayed it with cooking spray (since I've already got oil in with the chicken) .
Then added the chicken to the pan with its marinating sauce, and cooked until done. 
Then added all the veggies, with a little extra terikayi and garlic, and about a tsp of that hot chili sauce (I'm a weenie) and cooked it for just about 2-3 minutes more.  If you like your veggies a little more done than that, feel free.

Served it up over a bed of rice and dinner is ready.
My daughter even felt that broccoli is slightly edible when prepared in this fashion.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Frozen Hot Chocolate ala Hungry Girl

This one's from my Hungry Girl cookbook, which I plan to be putting to a lot more use in the near future.  The girl child declared "it's as good as Starbucks!" she may have been coerced just a little.

I'm not ashamed to show you my poorly photographed, cracked, water-spotted plastic cup from Ikea.  Keepin' it real here.

This uses some pretty simple ingredients. I think it will be worthwhile for me to keep this stuff around. Might keep me out of the Ding Dongs.

One 25 calorie packet hot cocoa mix
1/4 cup light vanilla soymilk
1/2 oz sugar free calorie free syrup (vanilla or white choc)
1 tsp sugar free chocolate syrup (didn't have any so I used regular)
2 no-calorie sweetener packets
2 tbsp Fat Free Reddi-wip 
1 cup crushed ice

Place hot cocoa mix, choc syrup, and sweetener in a glass and stir in 3 oz of hot water.  Next, add soymilk and sugar free syrup and stir again.  Place mix in fridge or freezer to cool for a few minutes.
Pour mix into a blender and add ice.  Blend on highest speed about 45 seconds until well blended.  Pour into spotted cracked beverage container of your choice and top with Reddi-wip. Slurp loudly and enjoy!

Nutrition Info:  58 cal, 0.5g fat, 184 mg sodium, 10g carbs, 1g fiber, 5g sugars, 3g proten.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

It would seem I'm on a bit of a spinach kick...just call me Popeye! 
This one is also from Gina's WW Recipes.  Since I made a few changes I'll post the recipe below also with what I did different.

I found the prep to be pretty easy, which is always a plus in my book.  

Instead of using the tomato sauce referred to in the recipe, I had a chance to use the Bertolli Arrabbiata pasta sauce I received as a part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program.
I have to say I really like this sauce.  A lot of bottled pasta sauces are either bland or just too sweet. But this was neither and had just a little kick of spice too it.

My daughter and I really liked this dish.  Hubby was indifferent, and the boy only ate one bite under duress.

Here's the recipe with my changes:

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked  (I used whole wheat)
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta cheese (I used low fat, I tend to greatly dislike fat free stuff)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 32 oz tomato sauce (used Bertolli's sauce)
  • 9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

*also added a heap of garlic to the spinach mixture

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

As promised/warned, I'm trying to lighten things up with my cooking, and this was my first attempt.  I found this recipe at Gina's WW Recipes. (you can click there for her recipe and nutrition info)

It seemed to have potential with the mixture of ricotta, feta, spinach, parsley, garlic, and green onions, but mine seemed to be lacking something.  Maybe more garlic, or more salt.  I'm just not sure.

And in the interest of simplicity, if I had it to do over, I would just bake the spinach filling separately and serve it along side the chicken.  It smelled really good while it was baking!

Can we talk about maltitol for a minute?  
I have eaten products that contained this sugar alcohol before, and was aware of their possible side effects.  
So yesterday I bought a bag of cookies which will go unnamed Joseph's to help dampen my cookie craving without so much sugar.  Then proceeded to eat what was a regular serving of cookies according to the package.  
In about 2 hours, I was feeling a lot like this dog.

Like I said, I was aware of the GI disturbances that this product could bring on, but I was floored by the severity of it. And oh my stinking heck, the headache!  I had no idea about that little bonus.  Apparently the headache happens more often if you consume maltitol on an empty stomach.  
Oh well, live and learn. And in this case, I literally tossed my cookies, into the trash!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Operation Baking GALS: Round 17

Almost ever since I've become a part of this little world of blogging, I've seen this button here and there but never really stopped to think what it's all about until recently.
I'm sure you're aware Baking GALS is a group of people who bake homemade goodies and sends it to military men and women who are currently deployed.  

my forearms look a lot like hers

I joined Beantown Baker's team for round 17 that is mailing their goodies between March 1 and 10.

In my boxes I included the Ranger Cookies like I made a couple weeks ago.  
And also some Magic Cookie Bars.  (oddly enough, I've never made those)
I hope they travel well!

Here are my boxes packed and almost ready to go.  I also include a few little goodies like toothbrushes, chapstick, slim jims, twizzlers, and what have ya.
You know you can order these flat rate boxes from the post office for free, and you can pack anything (legal) in them and mail them for $11.95.

And one of the boxes will include this sweet little note from my daughter.  

Isn't that just the cutest?
When I think of the sacrifice these folks make, I really have a hard time wrapping my mind around it.  It leaves me feeling humbled, and very grateful.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happy Weekend

Hello kiddies! It's been a while, I know.  I've been lurking and commenting around on your blogs some but haven't had much time to attend to my own.
This week has been one ball of stress and tension and I'm quite happy to put it behind me.  But, the good thing about stress....

Yeah, I had Haagen Dazs for breakfast one morning, and I'm glad I did!

But now, the feel of my little corner of the interwebs may change a bit.  I can no longer ignore the fact that I need this sign slapped on my ass.
It's pretty much the size of Houston.  
I haven't been able to muster the willpower or enthusiasm to even try to do anything about it, considering my over-40 metabolism, and my disdain for exercise.  But I've been psyching myself up (or out) and I'm going to give it a try.  

I see lots of these in my future.

Don't worry, this isn't going to become a weight loss blog.  Although I can't imagine what would be more fascinating than reading how much time I spent on the Wii Fit and how many tenths of a pound I lost in a day.  But, if I find a lighter recipe that appealed to me, I'll share it.  
And I'm sure there will still be some good stuff too.  Butter and cheese make the world go around!   And, if I fall on my face I can say I tried :)