Monday, January 31, 2011

Its a Zoo out There Bento

Sliced kiwi, Clementine orange, little bowl of carrot sticks and
cherry tomatoes with little zoo animal food picks. I found out
that these little "lunchables" fit perfectly in my sandwich container =D

Ham and Egg Wraps

1 whole egg
3 egg whites
sliced deli ham, chopped
2 large whole wheat tortillas 
1/4 cup shredded Medium Cheddar Cheese 
 beat whole egg, egg whites and ham until well blended. Heat nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Add egg mixture; cook 3 min. or until set, stirring occasionally.
Then spoon egg mixture down centres of tortillas; top with cheese. Fold in opposite sides of each tortilla, then roll up burrito-style.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Grilled Pork over Rice Noodles

Vietnamese Spring Rolls and
Grilled pork over Rice

For the spring rolls I purchased all the ingredients in my
local grocery Safeway store. They can be found in the
asian section of the grocery store. So we need the rice
noodles shown to the left and the spring roll wraps shown
on the right. 
The secret to making spring rolls is to make sure all your
ingredients are prepared ahead of time and cut
up ready to go. I start marinating the pork for these spring rolls
the night before or early morning of the day of. I used
a pound of pork loin but you could also use pork shoulder or butt.

This is the marinade for the grilled pork:
1 lb pork chops, loin, butt or shoulder. Sliced thin.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil

In a plastic zip lock bag, combine all the 
ingredients. After marinating over night or for several
hours, grill pork (the grilled pork tastes best when
I can grill it on the outside grill in a grilling basket)
but being in the winter I just use my cast iron grill

Making the noodles: 

These noodles, unlike regular pasta noodles only
need about two minutes cooking time and they 
are ready. In a pot boil the water and then 
add the noodles. Stir around. After about two minutes
of cooking, drain and run cold water over the noodles
to stop them from cooking further and they need
to be cold to wrap them into the rolls

Let's Wrap!

About 6-10 rice paper wrappers

a bowl of warm water that we are going to dip
one at a time the rice wrappers. 

Leaf Lettuce

Cucumber, cut into long very thin slices so
it is easier to roll into the wrap

fresh mint and cilantro

Bean sprouts

Carrots, sliced thin and then set in a small bowl
and sprinkle sugar all over the sliced shredded
carrots and let stand for about 15 minutes until 
they become limp

Rice noodles

So here we are all ready to go with the ingredients:


In the bowl of warm water, dip each rice paper wrapper 

for about 10 seconds until it is on a plate or work 

surface  on work service. Lay the lettuce as your first layer to add

strength to your wrapper, then place the pork, herbs and the 
other vegetables. (you can also add shrimp but due to its
Cholesterol content I left it out) 

 Roll up spring roll about 1/3 way through, then fold in the sides

(just like a burrito)  

Serve with hoisin peanut dip.

Hoisin Peanut Dip Recipe:

1 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbs rice vinegar
2 garlic, crushed
1 minced thai chili, or more for desired spiciness


I used the extra rice noodles and put them into a bowl
then added the rest of the grilled pork on top
then the same vegetables used for the spring rolls
and the same herbs mint and cilantro. I then chopped
up some peanuts and sprinkled on top. Then you 
make a sauce that will be poured all over on top
and you mix everything together.

Here is the sauce recipe:

1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar 
3 tablespoon lime juice

Add fish sauce, water, sugar and lime juice in a small bowl and mix well. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Pizza Night cooking with Kids

Pizza making night with the boys...we gave
this a try and it turned out pretty yummy! I actually
like how the crusts turned out! 

Bananas For you Bento Lunch

Bananas For you Bento Lunch

Chicken salad sandwich, carrots, broccoli,cherry
tomatoes, cheddar cheese shaped in leaves and
a banana

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken Fajitas and Spanish Rice

Wednesdays are usually my favorite day of the week! 
Not exactly sure when Wednesdays were noted as my 
favorite but it always seems that good things happen on 
Wednesdays and its also garbage day and don't you 
just feel like all renewed after garbage day? lol! Well tonight 
was not one of my favorites it was quite chaotic actually...after 
a day of cleaning and I pick up my 5 year old Jayden from 
school and within a half hour of being home he does this: 

100 piece puzzle everywhere! Then my 3 year old 
son Ian yells out his newly favorite "bad word da**it" really
 loud. Off to time out they went in their rooms. As I started
 to make dinner and trying to get ahold of my heart strings 
listening to the cries behind their closed 
"creation station"  aka the kitchen started to look like this:

yes... chaos. What you also don't see in this picture
is the bulk of yellow onions purchased from
Costco that went rolling all over my kitchen floor and my 
little "Princess" ran over to see what fun and grab the onion skins 
and began to rip them all over the place as I was trying to pick
 them all up

yes,,,she went on time out too. I was trying to sip on my 
cup of tea while cooking to "remain calm" and I found this in 
my spice cabinet:

the thought did go through my mind if it might go 
"with tea" =D
Ok anyhoo....let's tie the Apron strings and get started 
with the recipe on :

Spanish Rice
1 cup onion, chopped (1 large)
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped (1 Large)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder 
4 tablespoon no salt ketchup
3 1/2 cups cooked white rice (better cold leftover rice =D)
2 cups no salt tomato sauce
2 cups no salt stewed tomatoes
1 cup of Chicken broth (I use organic from Costco)
1 cup of salsa 

First heat up some oil in your pan and fry the garlic for a minute or two and then add the onions...cook the onions for a good five minutes until they become clear. Then add the rice and other ingredients to 4 quart sauce pan. Cover and simmer on low heat 40 minutes.
The slow cooking allows the flavor to blend and green pepper and onion to become tender

Chicken Fajitas

The Marinade
1 bottle Zesty Italian Dressing
1 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cilantro
Chicken cut into strips. Marinate for at least 4 hours. 8 hours or overnight is best.
1 Yellow Onion, cut in 1/4 inch strips

1 Green Pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips
1 Red Pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips
1 Yellow pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips

The Extras
Whole wheat tortillas
Sour Cream
Mexican-style shredded cheese
Combine the chicken/marinade with the pepper and onions and mix well
Cook the mix together on the grill in a grill basket or wrapped in foil. If grilling's not an
 option (or it's cold out), you can cook it inside in a large skillet. 

Pooh Theme Bento Lunch

Sandwich is strawberry jam with sliced
carrots cut out like flowers with a little cookie cutter
slices of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes
cheddar cheese cut out in pooh cookie cutters
strawberries and grapes and a little Clementine
orange topped with a leaf food pick

Monday, January 24, 2011

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup


Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

We are going to do a "copycat recipe" of this
yummy soup that is a fave of mine when
we go to Olive Garden. Its an easy to prepare recipe,
and everyone will think you spent the whole day
cooking it =D


1 cup chicken breasts,cooked and diced (you
can also use a rotisserie chicken...I get
mine at Costco for 5 dollars)

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablesspoons flour
1 quart half and half
1 14 once can chicken broth
(whats neato is there is a point label for
the school on the can =D)
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup onion, finely diced 
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon parsley
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 pound potato gnocchi- found in gourment section
of many supermarkets (I actually found mine at Target
of all places)


Saute the onion, celery, an garlic in the butter and olive
oil, over medium heat when the onion becomes translucent,
add flour and make a roux, let the butter and flour
mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart
of half and half.
Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

Into the roux add the carrots and chicken. Once the mixture
becomes thick add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens
again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach and seasonings, 
simmer until soup is heated through.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Ultimate Grocery List

Here is the "Ultimate Grocery Shopping list" I said I would post today. Download the list here

Sundays are the day when I get everything prepared for the upcoming week. 
Today I made these preparations:

1) Cut up two onions, peeled 10 carrots, washed and cut up celery and washed 
leaf lettuce and stored them in the fridge for use this week.
2) Grated about 5 cups of cheddar cheese that I will be using during the week
3) Made a "Make-ahead" blueberry juice to add to my kid's meals, a "Make-ahead"
 cauliflower puree to mix in meals and a "Make ahead" spinach-blueberry puree. 
4) Made ahead chocolate chip pancakes that I can freeze
5) Made ahead homemade potato chips
6) washed and cut strawberries, grapes and fresh pineapple 

I will note the recipes for these on tomorrow's kiddo meal menu. Have a wonderful
evening everyone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rigatoni with Mushrooms, Sausage and Spinach

Rigatoni with Mushrooms, Sausage and Spinach


1 1/2 lb. mild Italian pork sausage, casings removed 
2 Tbs. olive oil 
4 garlic cloves, minced 
1 1/2 lb. assorted mushrooms, such as
cremini and shiitake, brushed clean and sliced 
1/4 cup sherry 
8 oz. chopped spinach 
9 Tbs. unsalted butter 
9 Tbs. all-purpose flour 
6 cups milk 
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
2 cups ricotta cheese 
1 egg 
1 3/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
1/4 cup chopped assorted fresh herbs, such as
basil, thyme, rosemary and sage 
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 
2 lb. rigatoni, cooked until tender 
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, brown the sausage, stirring and crumbling with a fork, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and just beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, whisking until light brown and fragrant, about 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and whisk until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the béchamel sauce from the heat.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg, 1 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the assorted fresh herbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper until well blended. Fold in the sausage and the mushroom mixture, then stir in the béchamel sauce and the cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the pasta into a 5-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano over the pasta. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the top is golden and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes more. Sprinkle with the parsley. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The History of Aprons

I don't think our kids
know what an apron is.
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath
because she only had a few and because it was easier to wash aprons than
dresses and aprons required less material.  But along with that, it served
as a potholder for  removing
hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even
used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks,
and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from
the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much
furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron,
and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace
that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.
Let's tie our apron strings and get started =D