Monday, February 28, 2011

Meatless Mondays - Israeli Moroccan Couscous

I have been  trying for ages to have a meatless meal one day a week. The health and financial perks have always been intriguing, but lately I have been inspired by the  Meatless Monday movement. Really everyone should check it out.  Honestly, I will may cheat and have fish occasionally, but a true vegetarian meal every now and then might sneak past the family.

One of my client families loves meatless meals every couple weeks, so this is one that I made for them. All I can say it that it is AMAZING. It does not taste at all like what I was expecting when I tried the recipe I found on . After some tweaking I think the recipe is just the way I want it. The flavors are intense intense in this hearty stew. It was so easy to sneak a large variety of vegetable into my unsuspecting kids.

Check out the tray of veggies!


The onions and garlic were sauteed in a tiny bit of oil, then vegetable broth was added.


Afterwards I added in all the vegetables.

Then the seasonings were added.


Doesn't it look delicious????


After I made this big batch up, I let it cool and froze it in a Food saver bag. The couscous is a bit thicker and less soup like.

I have to say that it is REALLY good. The sauce is surprisingly sweet and the veggies are so tender that they kind of melt in your mouth. This recipe is wonderful and will most likely make a frequent appearance on our Meatless Mondays.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
4 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
2 turnips, peeled and 1 sweet potato, cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
1 red bell pepper, cubed
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pinch saffron
1 pinch curry powder
2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1.Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; saute onion and garlic until golden. Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in all the vegetables and simmer for 30 minutes
2.Stir in garbanzo beans, tomato sauce, cinnamon, turmeric, saffron and curry powder. Simmer until heated through.
3.Meanwhile, bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 to 7 minutes. Fluff with a fork and mix into the vegetables. Simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes.

Israeli Couscous on FoodistaIsraeli Couscous

Week 9- Better Late Than Never

Well, last week was a bit more chaotic then planned, but Girl Scout cookie season is over and life can get back to its normal level of insanity. She ended up selling 1157 boxes (whoop) and earning enough money to almost cover 2 weeks of camp! I am super proud of all the work she did.

A few of last weeks meals are getting rolled over to this week, so yes, there are some repeats.

Monday- Moroccan Style Isreali Couscous
Tuesday - Lamb and Lentil Curry
Wednesday - Green Chili Pork Tacos- LOVE these
Thursday -Carribean Chicken - this has been in my freezer since I did a chicken stock up and I can't wait to see how it is.
Friday - We are going out! The kids are going to a Parents Night Out program and we are going out to celebrate.I am not sure what we are celebrating but we are going out!

Anyway, thats they week in a nutshell. More exciting posts to come....I hope.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

True Confessions of a Cookbook Addict

Hi, remember me? I know I have been kind of scarce lately. Life has just been kind of wacky since we were all sick and I can't seem to get back into my groove of posting. No worries, I have been cooking up a storm and taking pictures when I remember. It just seems that anytime I sit still long enough to write a post, I fall asleep!!  So if I start to wander and sound crazy, just know that is probably because I dozed off in the middle.

Today we finished up the Girl Scout cookie sales with one last booth and I decided to take my daughters to Half Price Books to celebrate. My oldest passed her goal by selling 1157 boxes of cookies, so I thought that deserved some celebrating!!  Anyway, while we my youngest was entranced by the selection of pink and purple books in the Unicorn, fairy and Princess section, I found myself looking longingly at the cookbooks aisle. Lately I have been trying to declutter and simplify by not bringing new things into the house that doesn't have an equivalent going out. Kids books don't count. They can have stacks and stack all over and I won't mind. Big people books are different though. We don't  read and reread them nightly so they don't get to accumulate. Unfortunately this means no new cookbooks. I tried to hold myself back, but the temptation was too great. I did it- I looked at them.

Rows and rows of cookbooks were calling me, pulling me in with their crisp spines and promises of delicious meals yet to be made. I perused the International cookbooks, vegetarian selections and then I saw it, the book that made me cave. Gourmet Mickey Cookbook: Cooking with Mickey Volume 11.  We are actually planning our first family Disney World vacation so anything with that damn mouse sucks me in.  The book could have been titled " Best Toilets in Disney" I probably would have looked at it. Anyway, I pulled the book off the shelf (my first mistake) and decided to flip through the pages. The first recipe I land  on is "Tournedos of Beef with Cabernet Raisin Sauce". Um, yeah I want to try that and there is no way I will be paying Disney prices for that meal, so the cookbook came home with me.

When I got home I looked through the cookbook for awhile and then decided to go put it on the shelf for a bit with the others. That's when I did it. I COUNTED my cookbooks. Well, lets just say that I stopped at 100. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?? Seriously, most of the recipes that I use I have gotten online. Several of them are books that were hand me downs from my mother and I have never even opened them. Look for me on the next episode of Hoarders under a giant stack of cookbooks. 

This has got to get under control. So my solution is to use them. That's right I am going to use them all, EVERY LAST ONE. I will go through each cookbook, find at least one recipe that looks good and try it out. If I can't find a recipe to try, then I will pack it up and take it back to Half Price Books. If the recipe sucks, I will pack it up and take it to Half Price Books.  I WILL make room on my shelves by taking some of these books back to Half Price Books. And maybe while I am there I will check out the cookbooks..........

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Yes, finally the plague seems to have left us. The red x has been scrubbed from our front door and I am ready to re-enter the world. Sadly, it is not going to be a soft entrance, but more of a bone jarring kick in the pants. This is the final week of Girl Scout cookie sales and we have to make up for lost time. My daughter is close to getting to 1000 boxes so we will be hitting the ground running to finish up.

Today I went ahead and prepped everything for the week. One of my clients had requested 7 meals to be ready tonight, so I doubled the batches and have dinner ready for the week! Yes, I know that is kind of cheating, but I don't care. Seriously, right now I am needing to use all the tricks I can!!!

Monday- Marinated New York strip with  blue cheese butter and a root vegetable mash.
Tuesday - Pork roast stuffed with plantain and Ajili Mojilli sauce and Caribbean pineapple Cole slaw
Wednesday - Turkish Meatballs with cucumber salad and Naan
Thursday - Mediterranean Chicken thighs with Greek Orzo and roasted veggies
Friday - Isreali Moroccan Couscous
Saturday -  Curried Lamb and Lentils
Sunday - Swanky Chicken Rundown with Pumpkin rice

I am really excited about this weeks meals and showing some new flavors to my family. Hopefully even the finicky 4 year old will try it out.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week 7- It Just Ain't happening

The flu is kicking our butts over here. I had an awesome plan all set out for the week. Monday,  I was supposed to have 7 meals ready for a new client and I was going to make doubles for us for part of our week of meals. I do still have a few tentative plans so we will see what happens.

My big romantic plan for Monday night is Lobster Mac and Cheese followed by a nice shot of codeine cough medicine and a Tamiflu.

Tuesday's plan is out with family and friends for my birthday.  Maybe this will happen? I doubt it since my oldest daughter is now starting to feel bad. Nothing says "Happy Birthday" like sharing the plague with friends.

Wednesday is going to have to be something quick. Either we will be healthy and almost recovered and running out the door to try to catch up on cookie sales or we will still be wallowing in our own misery.

Well, thats all I got. Cooties are kicking us in the teeth this week. It may end up being a can of chicken noodle type of week afterall.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Derailed!! And my thoughts on Iron Chef

Everything has totally been derailed this week. This time it wasn't by the weather so much as a tiny little bug, or more exactly a germ. We have the flu!!! Do you know what you cook when you have the flu? NOTHING.  Ugh. I hate being sick. Ok I know that everyone hates being sick, but really I don't handle it well. I have way too much to do to hang out in bed and wait for the next hot flash or wave of chills. Of course, I do have to say that the codeine in the cough medicine is kind of cool and taking me back to my college days.

Anyway, I have been stuck in the bedroom to try to keep the cooties to myself and watching DVR'd episodes of Iron Chef. After watching several episodes in a row I am starting to realize a few things.

1.  Alton Brown is awesome on Good Eats, but make me crazy on Iron Chef. One more pun and I might rip the flat screen of the wall.

2. I have no idea what an immersion circulator does. It looks cool though and I totally want one.

3. Offal is awful. It would be just my luck to get asked to be a judge and have the secret ingredient be entrails. Seriously- who come up with these secret ingredients?

4. The time announcer lady seems to get a bit more smug as the time gets closer to running out.

5. Who decided Mo Rocca is qualified to judge fine cuisine? I will respect the opinion of a food critic, chef or someone in the industry, but really Mo Rocca??? WTF???

6. Jeffey Steingarten is so cranky because his heart is clogged with foie gras and truffle oil.  A good cleanse might help his attitude and outlook on life.

7. These dishes are totally not practical for a family cook. My 4 year old will not appreciate the attention to detail that goes into making Black Truffle Gnocchi with Gruyere and micro greens

8. Bobby Flay is a sore loser. You can see his eyes flare and freckles turn red each time a dish is criticized by a judge. I keep waiting for his hair to burst into flames or for him to punch the chairman in the throat for announcing the challenger as the winner.

So anyway, those are my food insites for today. Stay tuned for what another day of isolation and medications will bring!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Clean Eatings Last Chance- Slow Cooked Chicken Barley Stew

This is my third recipe to try from Clean Eating and I was not holding out much  hope. The other recipes had been rather bland, but I was willing give it another try.  This time I went with Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Stew.

I started by putting garlic, cilantro, thyme, basil, dill and bay leaf in the crock pot. 


Then I added in the chicken broth


And then the barley and black eyed peas.


Then I peeled a few potatoes


And added those in with the onions, carrots, and chicken


I left for several hours and it made this nice looking pot of stew.  It smelled great at first, but as the day wore on I think i got tired of smelling it.

It looked good, but now comes the big test, the taste test. I served up a bowl for my oldest first. She is usually the easiest to please.

She liked so I pushed along and dished some up for the rest of family. The kids liked it. The husband liked it. Me, well I though it was bland again. This meal is supposed to hold up well in the freezer, so I packaged up what was left and will try it again in a couple weeks. Maybe it will be better then? I am starting to think that the clean eating diet works because no one really enjoys the food. ;P

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gadget Tuesday: Pampered Chef Mix and Chop

About a year ago a friend of mine started a Pampered Chef business and I agreed to host a party. One of the ice breakers we played was to tell the group about your favorite Pampered Chef product. This crazy looking thing showed up more than once, so I thought "What the Hell?" and bought it. it was the Mix and Chop.

This crazy looking thing is amazingly handy. It slices, it dices, it makes great drinks....ok will maybe not, but it sure can crumble ground beef and evenly spread seasonings throughout the pan.

The website descriptions says : Unique, beveled pinwheel blades efficiently chop and crumble foods for even cooking and seasoning. Its high-quality nylon design follows the curves of your cookware and won't scratch the surface. A soft grip and thumb rest help you comfortably grasp the handle and chop more easily. Heat-resistant to 428°F. 11".

Check out the crazy end.

I have to say that this thing is pretty awesome. It really works well, cleans easily in the dishwasher and is worth the money. My kids love using it when they are helping me in the kitchen. Considering the amount of ground meats and sausages I cook, the Mix and Chop definitely gets a work out in my house. It makes whipping up a batch of Turkey Swedish Meatballs or Harvest Meat Pockets a quick and easy process.

As far as I know, you can only get one from a Pampered Chef consultant, so find one near you, ASAP. You will have crumbly, evenly seasoning meat before you know it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Clean Eating Magazine Recipe- Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

In an effort to go for a healthier lifestyle, I decided to try some new things and see what the "clean eating " trend is all about.  For those of that may not be familiar with the clean eating concept, it basically involves cutting out processed foods and eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. My family already eats few processed foods so that part wasn't hard  and I started looking for a few recipes. The Pumpkin Surprise Pasta from Clean Eating Magazine was a bit of a disappointment, but I decided to give their recipes another try, this time with the Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff.

First, I cooked some onions and garlic in a bit of oil until they were translucent.

Then I added a mix  of sliced white and Portobello mushrooms.

 While they were cooking down, I used my awesome immersion blender to puree the tofu for the sauce.

The tofu, sour cream, beef stock and tomato paste were added to the pan and cooked until the sauce smooted out a bit and then cajun seasoning was added.

The sauce and mushrooms were served over whole wheat egg noodles. It look pretty good doesn't it?

I was really excited about this meal and couldn't wait to try it. Once again, I was disappointed with the bland flavor of the dish.  The basic bones of the dish are good, but it just needs a bit of something. Next time....


•12 oz whole-wheat egg noodles

•Olive oil cooking spray

•1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

•4 oz white mushrooms, thinly sliced

•8 oz portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced

•1 clove garlic, minced

•14 oz medium-firm tofu, puréed in blender or food processor

•8 oz low-fat sour cream

•8 oz low-sodium beef stock

•1 tbsp unsalted tomato paste

•1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning

•Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

•1 tsp dried dill


1.Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2.Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low, mist with cooking spray and add onion. Sauté for about 8 minutes or until caramelized. Add white and portobello mushrooms and garlic. Mist with cooking spray, if needed, and sauté until cooked, about 5 more minutes.

3.Add tofu, sour cream, stock and tomato paste, and stir until smooth. Stir in seasoning, salt and pepper.

4.Pour mushroom sauce over cooked noodles. Serve topped with dill.

Nutrients per 1-cup serving: Calories: 140, Total Fat: 3.5 g, Sat. Fat: 0.5 g, Carbs: 18 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 9 g, Sodium: 140 mg, Cholesterol: 15 mg

Portobello Mushrooms

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Week 6- I Was Run Over by the Wagon

Well, last week was a disaster when it came to following my meal plan. I had a ton of orders for my business Menus, Meals and More which is wonderful, but also very time consuming. Then we had this crazy weather front that made it super cold with rolling brownouts and "snow" in Central Texas. Throw in a road trip, sick husband and a 5 year old that now thinks sleeping is not necessary and it was just a bad week. Needless to say I not only fell off the planning wagon, it ran over me, backed up and did it again. We ended up with a leftovers night, a night of delivery Chinese food, and a random meal that they were demoing at the local HEB when I was buying milk for Snowmageddon as my friend Gini from the Big Fat Gini Blog called our dusting of snow covered ice that shut down the town. 

Well, the ice and snow have melted and we are back to warmer days, so I its time to move past that crazy week and plan for the next one.

Monday- going meatless with a Vegetarian Cassoulet with garlic Confit featured on the Gingerbread Bagels blog. It looks hearty and with enough garlic my husband may go for the vegetarian thing,

Tuesday - Lebanese Meat and Okra Stew- this is a new one I can't wait to try. I love okra in gumbo and fried so hopefully this will be another hit.

Wednesday - Herbed Wild Rice Chicken casserole - a homey family favorite from my freezer

Thursday - Apricot Glazed Pork loin - I am finally going to cook that dang thing!!

Friday - Chicken pot pie - you can't go wrong with a pot pie.

So that's the plan and I am sticking to it. At least I  think so :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

The TexMex Craving Continues- Taco Stuffed Pasta Shell

I am not sure if it's the fact that a Chuy's just opened up this week in my town or the random cold snap is making me want some spice to heat things up, but I have been craving Tex Mex all week. Hrm or maybe it was the article about the Taco Bell lack of meat in the meat? Anyway,  it started with the Chicken Enchiladas and has taken me to this next recipe- Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells. What can be better than yummy taco meat in a delicate pasta shell?

First, I browned some lean ground beef in a large skillet.

Then, I added finely diced onions

The meat and onions were seasoned with taco seasoning.

 and Mexican Oregano

Once the meat was nicely browned I added the best ingredient EVER

Taco Bell Mild Sauce! That's right, all the flavor AND the meat! Woo-hoo

Next, I mixed refried beans with shredded cheddar cheese.

Then the seasoned meat was added in.
A heaping spoonful was stuffed into a cooked pasta shell

It was placed on a layer of salsa.

I used 8 for a very healthy 2 person meal (probably with some left for lunch the next day).

 The rest of the salsa was spooned over the top,

and then sprinkled with cheese.

The shells were flavorful and delicious. They definitely helped satisfy my need for Tex Mex. Well, at least until the next day......

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells

 1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 finely diced onion
2 tbls taco seasoning mix
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 cup water
1/2 bottle Taco Bell Mild Sauce ( you can go for the medium or hot if you like the spicy stuff)
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 cup shredded  cheddar cheese, divided
1 jar (16 oz) salsa, divided

Cook beef and onion in a large skillet until brown; drain. Add seasoning mix,oregano, water and Taco Bell sauce; cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add beans and 3/4 c cheese; mix well. Spread 1/4 c salsa over bottom of each of the 2 8" baking dishes.

Fill pasta shells with beef mixture; place half of the shells in each baking dish, filled side up. Spoon remaining salsa over shells.

To Freeze: Freeze in freezer to oven safe container.

To Reheat: Heat oven to 375. Cover with foil and bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with green onions and cheese and serve with sour cream if desired.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Secret Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with a sour cream sauce is about one of my favorite things. From the time I was a child I have loved the. Every time we go to a Mexican restaurant I look for them. They are really one of my favorite things and I have fortunately found a recipe that I love as well. Plus, I have a secret ingredient that puts them over the top! Thankfully, it is also some of my customers favorites so I get to make them often for people and then keep an extra pan for my family.  No more waiting to go out to satisfy my craving.

These enchiladas can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months. Mine never make it that long!

First, I sautee some finely chopped onion with a bit of oil until they start to become clear.

Then I add cream of chicken soup, Rotel tomatoes and diced green chilies.

Doesn't that look good?

I added some oregano and cumin, covered and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Warm tortillas roll better, so I covered them with a damp paper towel and microwaved  the stack for one minute.

Ok and here is that part where I reveal my secret. I use diced SMOKED chicken. We have an awesome smokehouse that we bust out several times a year to fill fill with chickens, brisket, sausage and turkey. After we feast like ravenous beasts, the leftovers are frozen and used in some favorite meals over the next month or two.

To assemble the enchiladas, I would take warm tortilla and spread a spoonful of sauce on it.

Then a handful of chicken

Then a sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese.

I rolled the tortilla up and placed it seem side down in the container.

These are going to be packaged in serving for 2, so only 4 at a time.
 Then I added a 16 oz carton of sour cream to the remaining sauce.

 and spread the sauce across the top of the enchiladas.

 A big handful of sharp cheddar was sprinkled across the top before sealing them up and freezing.
Don't they look good!


 (3lb.) chicken
salt and pepper to taste
Cooking oil
1 Tbsp. cumin powder
1 large onion chopped
1 carton sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 6oz pkg. frozen tortillas
2 10 oz cans Ro Tel tom. Drained
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese grated
2 4 oz cans mild green chilies
2 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Smoke chicken in smoker until done or purchase a smoked chicken. Steamed chicken can also be used.

Sauce is prepared by sautéing onion in small amount of cooking oil until clear. Add soup, tomatoes, green chilies, salt and pepper to taste and cumin. Simmer about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add sour cream.

Place Tortillas on  microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for one minute or until warm. Fill each tortilla with chicken, sauce and Monterey jack cheese. Roll and place in large casserole dish, fold side down. Pour remaining sauce over all and top with 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 about 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serves 8