Saturday, June 30, 2012

Amazing Zucchini Pita BLT's

I found this great recipe in my Taste of Homes magazine.  They take the typical BLT and add crispy baked squash and put in in pita bread.  We had it twice this week because we really liked it.  We didn't end up making baked crispy squash (Cliff just grilled it) because we ran out of time.  You have got to try this recipe.  You can use mine below or this link gives you details to make it with the crispy baked squash-either way you are going to be happy you did!
 The squash makes these more filling!
 From the bottom: mayo, lettuce, tomato, grilled squash, bacon
Zucchini Pita BLT's
2 pita pockets (we use whole ones, toast them, then cut them open from the side)
lettuce of your choosing (we used iceburg this time)
1 large tomato 
6 slices of bacon
1 large or 2 small squash + olive oil for cooking

Heat your grill.  Slice squash lengthwise and place them in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil on them and seasonings of your choice and mix to coat.  While you grill your squash (5 minutes per side on med heat), cook your bacon in a large skillet.  Cut your tomato and lettuce and start to toast your pitas.  Assemble everything together and enjoy!

Hope everyone is off to a great weekend.  We are having friends over and cooking out tonight so that should be a lot of fun!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Baked Zucchini Fries

I have had Zucchini Fries at a couple different restaurants, and let me just say I thoroughly enjoy them.  I am not the type to pig out on appetizers (surprising I know), because I usually want to be hungry for dinner, but when zucchini fries are ordered, I change my mind as soon as I try them.  Who cares about dinner when you get to eat zucchini fries before, they are the best dipped in ranch.  I don't even want to think about how unhealthy they are, they are a vegetable right?  Okay, so I saw these the other day and immediately knew I needed to make them.  They are really easy and we had them 2 days in a row because they are really good.

 Warm and toasty baked zucchini fries
 Toss your raw zucchini in flour to coat.  Then dip in egg wash and then breadcrumbs
 Place on a large cookie sheet and bake!
Delicious, healthier alternative to the deep fried, battered zucchini fries you can get at restaurants.

Baked Zucchini Fries
1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. Tony's Creole Seasoning
Garlic powder and pepper to taste (just a good sprinkle)
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour (may need more or less)
2 medium zucchini

Preheat your oven to 425 and lightly grease a large cookie sheet.  Cut your zucchini in the shape of fries.  Put flour in a medium bowl, set aside.  Whip egg and milk in a bowl (a wide shallow bowl will work).  In a larger shallow bowl mix all the ingredients above garlic powder, this will be your breadcrumb coating.  Make a little assembly line starting with cut up zucchini, then flour, egg, breadcrumb mixture and pan.  Place in bowl with flour and toss to coat.  You want all of them to be coated with flour, then take a few at a time and dip them in your egg wash.  From there dip them in the breadcrumbs and make sure they are coated well.  Place them on greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  After ten minutes, mix them around and flip them.  They are good dipped in ranch or marinara sauce.  Enjoy!

Happy Friday, have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sloppy Joe Braid

Sloppy joe, sloppy sloppy joe sloppy joe.  That song (by the way the original version of this on Saturday Night Live is better) has been in my head for two days.  I made sloppy joe mix earlier in the week to save time on cooking dinner.  I also had some bread dough leftover from the weekend so I decided to try something new.  I had seen a bread braid on Mels Kitchen Cafe and have been curious about it ever since.  I used my Mom's Refrigerator Roll recipe which is amazing.  Making the bread braid is a lot easier than I thought.  It is also really cool because you could fill it with a large variety of fillings, sweet and savory.  Cliff and me think a pizza one would be good or a bbq brisket one!  On to the good stuff

 Right out of the oven
 Much better than a sloppy joe sandwich in my opinion
 Roll out your dough, fill it with your favorite toppings!
 Cheese, sloppy joe mix (cooled), more cheese.  Cut the edges with a pizza cutter
 Fold edges over each other and kind of pinch them together.  Rub olive oil and seasonings on top and bake at 450 for 20 minutes
 You get this massive Sloppy Joe Braid
 I really like this meal.  I am excited to try other fillings.
 Warm cheesy yummy dinner!
In case you wanted to try it with the Sloppy Joe mix I made here it is (note that I made this the night before and put in on my bread dough cold):

Sloppy Joes
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey (I used turkey this time)
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1/2 chopped yellow bell pepper (or any bell pepper)
1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
3 Tbsp BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp. water
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Dash of hot sauce

In a large skillet cook meat, onion and bell pepper over medium heat, stirring often.  Stir in tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, water, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and hot sauce.  Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Serve immediately or store in refrigerator to make a Sloppy Joe Braid.  Enjoy!

This weekend I will post about the zucchini fries that we made to go with this.  They were awesome so stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Skillet Mac

I have made this before, but it is worth bringing up again.  I love mac and cheese, and have tried many home-made versions.  I like it baked, I like it with Velveeta, I like it in the skillet (this recipe), I like it from the box.  I am not a picky person when it comes to cheese, butter and noodles.  I will say that this is the easiest home-made mac and cheese I have ever made and it is one of my favorites.  If you have not tried it, get your ingredients and try it this week-you will not regret it!
 Oh so creamy and delicious!
 I always like a side of green beans with my mac and cheese.  You could also add ham and peas to the skillet if you wanted.
 Cliff took this awesome up close!  Good stuff you can even see the steam.
Try this recipe.  I got it from Mels Kitchen Cafe.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quick and Easy Breakfast Tacos

Growing up in New Mexico, there was no such thing as a breakfast taco.  There were breakfast burritos, which are the big papas of breakfast tacos.  True to my upbringing, breakfast burritos will always be my favorite, but the breakfast tacos have grown on me since moving to south Texas 3 years ago.  These were so easy and delicious, I will be making them again soon.
 I made a few extra and wrapped them in plastic wrap and foil to eat later in the week!
 First you brown up some breakfast sausage.  I used haft of a pound and cooked it like hamburger meat.  When that is done, crack your eggs right into the skillet.  I ended up using 7 eggs.
 Stir that until the eggs are cooked.   While this was cooking, I also browned up some hash browns (one small potato baked and cut into cubes) in a separate skillet to add to the mix.  This was enough mix for 5 breakfast tacos.
 To make things really easy, when my mix was done, I turned off the heat, covered the mix with my tortillas, and put the lid on it.
 Let that sit for about 5 minutes, then you are ready to assemble your tacos
We like ours topped with cheese.  Eat immediately or wrap and store in fridge for up to 5 days.

Easy Breakfast Tacos
1/2 pound uncooked breakfast sausage (the tube you find near the bacon in the grocery store)
7 eggs
1 potato (cooked in microwave or baked), cut into cubes + 1 Tbsp oil to cook in
S&P to taste
5 tortillas
Shredded cheese optional

In a large skillet brown your breakfast sausage.  In a separate small skillet cook your potatoes over high heat in oil (about a tablespoon) until browned (I do this at the same time I am cooking the sausage and eggs).  When your sausage is done cooking, add your eggs and stir.  When eggs are cooked stir in your browned potatoes.  Turn off the heat and place tortillas over your egg mixture and cover for about five minutes.  Assemble your tacos and enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fat Releaser Banana Chocolate Smoothie

It makes me giggle to write fat releaser on the title of this blog.  I made a smoothie I found in a Reader's Digest magazine and it was yummy.  The recipe was from an article promoting their Digest Diet book.  It sounded really good, so I had to try it.  I didn't change much.  I will say this, it would taste a lot better with peanut butter (but seriously, I need to be okay with not putting peanut butter in everything!).  On a side note, let me just say Reader's Digest is fun to take on road trips.  I always bring them and read the funny stories out loud to Cliff.  Time flies when you are having fun.  

 Light and creamy!

Fat Releaser Banana Chocolate Smoothie
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp. dry milk powder
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 ice cubes
1 frozen banana
1 tsp cocoa powder + 1 tsp carnation chocolate powder

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until frothy!  This is a very refreshing smoothie.  I told Cliff, this smoothie is going to release so much fat. 

Have fun with this one:)

By the way, while I am talking about this fat releasing smoothie, I have to show you this awesome dessert we had Friday night.
 These are pretty much the same picture
 But can you see how seriously delicious this was.  Dark Chocolate ice cream with peanut butter and Oreo's mixed in, with a waffle cone of coarse.  So good.
Happy Monday Everyone!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Best Ever Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Let me start by saying, I have failed many times at making healthy breads.  It makes me so annoyed when I think something is going to be awesome and healthy, but then it takes worse than cardboard.  Of all the things I have cooked, I have failed the most at this.  So, I pretty much quit trying to make healthy muffins or quick breads.  Well, after we went blueberry picking, I could not stop thinking about how amazing some homemade blueberry muffins would be.  Last night we went to Trader Joe's and we saw some amazing looking Blueberry Raspberry Oat Bran muffins.  They looked so yummy, I really wanted to try and make something similar.  I looked at the ingredients and then got online last night and searched my heart out for a healthy muffin recipe that wouldn't fail.  You know me, I combined several ideas and made my own version based on things from the past that did not work for me.  The base of my recipe came from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, and then I made a few modifications.  Check these beauties out:

 Warm out of the oven served with sausage and potato eggs and cheese
 This is right after I added the liquid, it is all in the center because I made a "well" in the dry ingredients.
 Add your blueberries and walnuts
 Fill your muffin tin, I love jumbo muffins now.  You don't have to bother with eating two because one will fill you up!
 Right out of the oven
 I put a little butter and devoured this, oh ya:)
When you eat them leftover, I recommend cutting them in half and putting them on a hot buttered skillet.  This way they taste as good if not better than fresh out of the oven.  This is now my official go-to blueberry muffin recipe, enjoy

Best Ever Healthy Blueberry Jumbo Muffins
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oat flour (just blend old fashioned oats until they resemble flour)
1/4 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 cup milk mixed with 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice)
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 egg
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
Add last:
1 cup fresh blueberries (if you use frozen, thaw them overnight in your fridge)
1/3 cup nuts (optional, I used walnuts and probably less than this)
Top with granola if you want, or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, I did both!!

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl mix mashed banana, buttermilk, yogurt, egg, oil and vanilla.  Make a well in your dry ingredients and pour your wet ingredients into the well.  Stir until just moistened and add your blueberries and nuts.  Stir until just combined into batter (you do not want to over-mix this batter).  Lightly grease your muffin pan and pour batter until 3/4 full.  Sprinkle granola and cinnamon sugar on top.  Bake for 28 minutes.  Makes 6 jumbo muffins.  *Note:  I made jumbo muffins, if you are making normal sized it will make 12, and you need to bake them at 375 for about 15 minutes.  Store in refrigerator 2-4 days.
Tips:  If you want to save time, mix all the dry ingredients the night before.  It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but it is pretty easy and so worth it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Easy Crock-pot Chicken

One of my co-workers gave me this recipe and said it is amazing.  After she told me what was in it, I was a little nervous about the variety of ingredients, but hopeful because of how easy it was.  Did I mention she said it is her family's favorite way to eat chicken.  This week was really busy so it was the perfect time to try it because it is a crock-pot recipe. 
 Into the crock-pot:  1.5 pounds chicken, 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce, 1 packet dry onion soup mix, 2/3 cup Catalina dressing.  It is that simple, and it makes an awesome sauce

It was delicious served over brown rice
Easy Crock-pot Chicken
1.5 pounds raw chicken breast
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 packet dry onion soup mix
2/3 cup Catalina dressing (she used and 8oz bottle)

Place all ingredients listed above in a crock-pot and cook on low heat for about 4 hours.  Crock-pot cooking temps vary, so your time may vary.  We actually cooked ours for 4 hours on high and it was dry, so I would recommend cooking it on low.  If it is still looking raw after 3 hours, turn it to high for the last hour!
Enjoy with rice and veggies.

I have a lot more recipes to post about this weekend, I am excited.  Hope everyone is off to a great weekend.

We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adventures and New Recipes

It is sad that it has taken me so long to blog but here I am!  I have had an intense couple of weeks month.  Not in a bad way, just really busy with travel and work.  This month we have gone to Austin, Corpus Christi and San Antonio.  I have also traveled a couple of times for work.  Work has been going good, I am learning a lot and we have a lot of projects to keep us busy.  I can't complain:)  To be honest, I have not cooked a lot because I have been getting home later and feeling tired.  I have done a few simple things and we have resorted to frozen pizza and eating out a couple of times.  By the way, I am totally hooked on an amazing salad at Freebirds.  Their Ancho dressing is so good you could drink it.  On to things I have cooked.  We went to the river last weekend and I made Oreo Balls for our friends Birthday.  I'm sure you have heard of them, but if you haven't tried them, get your butt to the kitchen and get busy NOW because they are so good. 
Trust me, these are so good
 Three ingredients:  1 package Oreo's, 1 block cream cheese, 1 bag of chocolate chips or melting chocolate.
I used my Ninja to crush the Oreo's
 Place the crushed Oreo's in a bowl and add softened cream cheese
 Stir well, roll into balls, and dip in chocolate.  I melted half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and half a package of melting chocolate.

 I put sprinkles on them for Birthday fun!

 Oreo Balls
1 package Oreo's
1 block cream cheese, softened
1 bag chocolate chips or 1 package melting chocolate (or half of each which is what I did)

Crush Oreo's into fine crumbs (there can be a few small chunks).  In a mixing bowl stir crumbs and cream cheese until well combined.  Roll into balls and place in freezer while you melt your chocolate.  When you chocolate is melted, dip your Oreo balls into the chocolate.  Refrigerate until you are ready to eat.

Here are a few pictures from our river trip with our small group.  We had a great time relaxing and cooking/eating lots of good food.
 Here is the Birthday girl!  Hi Deb
 We have good friends that have access to good snacks!  Let's just say that all the donuts were demolished.
 Pancakes, eggs, turkey bacon, strawberries and fresh squeezed OJ
 This is our awesome group
 On our way to the river, which was relaxing and great (sorry no pics on the river I was way to scared to take my camera)

I plan to blog all weekend and have some great food in store.  Hope everyone has been doing well.  See you soon
P.S. this is what happens when you eat Oreo Balls
 Aaron may have been the biggest fan, see that half eaten Oreo Ball in hand.  It was so funny how he reacted when he tried these

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blueberry Pickin

We found a great blueberry farm about 20 minutes from our house so we went blueberry pickin on Saturday!  So exciting, things like that remind me of my childhood and I tend to get excited like a little kid.  We had a lot of fun and now we have lots of yummy blueberries to eat!
 A cute blueberry farm that was a lot bigger than we expected!
 Cliff was really good at picking blueberries.  I started by roaming around to many trees, sampling blueberries at every tree.  I was not getting very far until I found Cliff and stuck with his method.  Find a tree with a lot of berries and pick them from the top!
 We both had out buckets (he filled his a lot faster!)
 We ended up with 3 and a half pounds for only $7.
 And in case you didn't know, that is a lot of blueberries
 Oh so delicious.  I got home and immediately made us a smoothie
 I will be making many more of these
 Blueberry pancakes were the best though.  We had these this morning and I am already craving more
 So much better with fresh blueberries.  I just used Kodiak mix to save time this morning.  After church I just got a few things done around the house and started on dinner early because I made bread!
 This is from a bread mix my Aunt gave me a while back.  I wanted to make it so I could have bread for sandwiches this week.  It turned out great.
 I also made zucchini meatballs (saw them on Iowa Girl Eats and followed the recipe exactly because they looked so good!).  We will be having meatball subs with them tomorrow
 I also made green beans, and garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes
 It was a lovely dinner.
We went to Culver's with friends afterward.  Chocolate custard with Reese's and peanut butter, my all time favorite!
Hope everyone has had a great weekend.  I am ready to turn in for the evening so I can get up early for the workweek.  Happy Monday and have a good week!