Friday, April 29, 2011

Wrapping it up and Taking Some Time!

Last week I had an order for some tasty wraps. These are great items to have in freezer and just pull out when you need a quick lunch or dinner. Portable food has a ton of advantages when your on the go!We were going for a healthier alternative to fast food and eating out, so all of these wraps were made on the large whole wheat burrito size tortillas.

The first batch was a flavorful mix of tender beef, onions and peppers for Philly Cheeseteak style wrap. The onions and peppers smother down in the sauce for about 45 minutes. It takes a huge amount of onions because the cook down so much and honestly I would suggest using a mandolin to slice them or you will be crying for an hour! My family could smell the vegetables cooking  from the sidewalk!


These Sicilian Sausage Wraps had a blend of pepper onions, tomatoes and olives with sweet italian sausage. This my be my favorite of the wraps. It was so full of amazing flavors and smelled amazing. This is a definite must try.


I have a ton of family stuff going on these next few weeks so I am going to be taking a break from the Blogosphere. Don't worry though, there will still be lots of fun at It Happens at Dinner. I have a few blast from the past posts set with adorable pictures of my kiddos when they were younger and a guest blogger all set up. Kimberly at It Began in Camp 4 has graciously written a couple of guest posts for us to be published on next Wednesday and Friday.  Its going to be great and don't forget to go check out her blog. She is full  of great food, homeschooling and frugal living info, plus her kids are adorable. Check her out!  It Began in Camp 4

Philly Cheese Steak Wraps

Makes 4 wraps.

1 1/2 pounds thin steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
 coarse salt and black pepper, to taste
3 medium sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 bell peppers, thinly slices
6 ounces shredded smoked Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup A1 brand or other steak sauce

4 (12-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas

Combine soy, cayenne, cumin and vegetable oil. Rub mixture into meat, coating both sides evenly. Sprinkle with  coarse salt and black pepper and let stand.

Heat nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over high heat. When pan is over hot, place meat onto skillet or grill and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high. Turn steak over and cook 10 to 12 minutes more. Place a loose foil tent over meat to reflect heat and control spattering. Remove meat from pan and let stand.

Return pan to heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Add onions and peppers. Cook 10 until soft and golden brown. Cover the onions to smother them while they cook.
To assemble, paint a tortilla with steak sauce using a pastry brush. Pile meat, smoked shredded cheese and veggies down the center of tortilla. Tuck the top and bottom edges of wrap in and twist the tortilla a quarter turn. Wrap and roll meats up into a burrito shape. Split each wrap in two with a cut across the middle of the wrap.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spice Island Chicken Legs

What is up with all this crazy heat?? Yes, I know it's Texas and that heat and droughts are too be expected, but not in April!!!! The wildfires have been really bad and we have had some hazy days from the smoke. So basically it has been hot enough where you don't want to heat up your house with the oven and yucky outside so you don't want to spend long periods out there at the grill.

One evening I decided to get all the food that was going to need grilling that week and go ahead and do it all at once. The microwave's 50% power setting was going to be my friend. I threw on a California Thai Sirloin, Lemon Grass Grilled Beef and these tasty Spice Island Chicken Legs along with a ton of veggies.

The Spice Island chicken kind of goes with our tour around the world. The flavors of this dish are popular in St Martin. It is slowly cooked over low grill  and served over curried rice. The smells make me think of beaches and fruity drinks out of a coconut.

A flavorful marinade was made of soy sauce, rum, and spices. The chicken took a nice soak overnight.


A few of the chicken legs got a spicy habanero addition.


The skin got a bit charred, but the meat was so tender and juicy, it just enhanced the flavors. This one is definietly worth a try and has a lot of potential as a batch party dish. I think next time I might go with chicken thighs though.


Spice Island Chicken

1 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 vegetable oil
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced ginger
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Juice of 1 lime
8 to 10 chicken thighs or drumsticks.

Mix up all of the ingredients and let the chicke soak for at least a couple of hours. Cook over indirect heat or a low flame for 45 minutes, turning every 15. Serve with curried rice and grilled vegetables.

Check out other awesome meals like this at Wanderfood Wednesday or Blogging Hints Catch a Wave Wednesday
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kids Can Cook Good Stuff- Chicken Parmesan


This was a great and fun recipe for my daughter to try out. She is getting more and more confident in the kitchen. Soon my dreams of relaxing and sipping mojitos while the kids cook dinner will become a reality! Ok maybe not, but this Chicken Parmesan recipe taught Ashley several new techniques: breading, searing and baking.

First she started by rolling the chicken in seasoned flour,


Then beaten eggs,


 and a mix of panko and parmesan.


She set them on a cooling rack inside a cookie sheet.

The chicken was browned on each side in 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of butter for 3 minutes on each side.

The chicken was topped with parmesan cheese,


and mozzarella cheese.


Each chicken breast was covered with marinara sauce before being put in the oven to bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Here is dad helping her spread the marinar over each of the chicken breasts.


Dad wants every drop of marinara on the chicken.


Don't they look amazing?!?!?!

We took them out of the pan and let them rest while we made the rest of dinner.


Ashley did a fantastic job!!!!

Check out other yummy posts at Tuesday's At The Table

Friday, April 22, 2011

Where's the beef?

We have been trying to eat healthy around here lately. Summer is coming and it is time to trim off some of the winter weight. This house has has been overrun with chicken and light dishes for weeks. Finally it is starting to get to us (well mainly my husband) and we, like Clara Peller want to know "Where's the beef?".

Sometimes I miss that old woman. I don't really ever have eaten at Wendy's other than the occasional Frosty, but I remember the commericals really making me want to go in and take advantage of that big Super Bar they used to have. Ahh memories.


 I decided to find a way for us to meet our steak cravings, but still have a light dinner. Grilled Lemongrass Steak salad was the perfect fit. The meat is sliced thinly and layered on salad greens for a hearty yet healthy meal and I got to cook it outside on our grill. Not heating up the house to cook is definitely a bonus with the unseasonably warm weather we are having here. Unseasonably warm is never a good thing in Central Texas. That means we have gone from really warm to gates of hell hot. Ok, 95 degrees in mid-April is not really gates of hell hot, but it sure makes me nervous about summer.

Anyway, back to the steak.  I used a large top sirloin steak and marinated it in diced lemon grass, soy sauce, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

Everything was mixed together and the steak marinated for a couple hours.

The steak was grilled for about  7 minutes on each side for medium rare. When I flipped the steak, I poured the last of marinade over the top. After letting the steak rest for about 15 minutes, I sliced it thinly.

Yes, I know it is still very pink in the middle. Here is my secret. We didn't eat it on the day I cooked it. I had the grill on and was making a ton of other things like grilled veggies and Spice Island chicken so I just added it on.  I put the sliced meat in the fridge and we had it the next day. I pulled it off early because I knew that reheating it later would cook the meat a bit more.

I served this on a bed of salad greens with shredded carrots and a touch of clilantro. Delicious!!!

Check out this and other posts like it on Tasty Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Swanky Chicken Rundown with Pumpkin Rice


Looks good doesn't it?  That's what I thought when I saw it in a Eat Caribbean cookbook that my friend Leslea let me borrow.  A recipe with swanky in the name has to be good. The cookbook suggested pairing the Swanky Chicken Rundown with pumpkin rice, but didn't actually provide the recipe. The recipe I found used butternut squash instead of pumpkin. Apparently that is a bit more authentic.I am not really sure about that and to be honest it was actually a bit bland. I think my fear of over spicing backfired on me.


Saveur Pumpkin Rice Recipe

For the chicken, I started with the rundown sauce. First diced scotch bonnet peppers were simmered in coconut milk until the mixture reduced by half. Make sure to wear gloves or you will end up in pain like I did!


The chicken was seared and cooked in a very hot pan.


The reduced sauce was poured over the chicken.


It was pretty tasty, but a bit milder than I expected. Next time I am really going to spice up the sauce. OH and maybe serve it with a fruity drink and lots of rum? That sounds like a great idea!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Cookies with the Kids

2011 seems to be speeding by. Easter is late this year, but still has managed to sneak up on me. For some reason it has just taken me by surprise that it is time for dyeing eggs,  pretty pastel baskets and egg hunts.

This weekend we started off our Easter fun with a trip to the George Bush Library Easter Egg Hunt. If you ever happen to be in Central Texas on the weekend when they do this you should definitely check it out. They have lots of games and activities for the kids including a huge Easter egg hunt and a visit from the bunny himself. It's tons of fun and a great way to kick off the Easter celebrations.

The next day we decided to make some Easter candy necklaces. It was a cute kit that I picked up at the grocery store and the kids had fun stringing the beads and of course eating the necklaces as soon as they were done.


We also made some cut out cookies. This has been family tradition for ages. I remember my mom sitting with my nieces and nephews and making cookies years ago. We make cutout cookies for all holidays and sometimes, just because we feel like it. This time, I decided to cheat and buy a roll of sugar cookie dough. BIG MISTAKE! I really should  have made our dough. The tube of dough was too loose and the cookies did not retain their shape. The kids ended up decorating random cookie blobs, but they had fun and loved eating them.




To check out more ways to have fun with your kids in the kitchen, check out The Kids Cook Monday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 16- Keeping it going

This week I am cooking for some clients, so my family is going to get a few of the same meals. It's gett ing pretty warm here in Central Texas so I plan on making great use of our grill. No need to heat up the house if I don't have to!

Monday - Lemon grass grilled beef with grilled vegetables and couscous
Tuesday - Spice Island Chicken with peppered beans and slaw
Wednesday - Diablo pork with sun dried tomato paste- quinoa and grilled vegetables.
Thursday -  California Thai Sirloins Salad
Friday - Korean pork bbq with sweet beans and greens

Check out more meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Breakfast

Today is my oldest daughter's birthday. Ashley is 11 now and turning into such a warm, bright and beautiful young woman. I am incredibly proud of the person she is becoming and couldn't ask for a better daughter.

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!!!


We decided to start off the morning with a Chocolate Chip french toast.  Ashley had assembled it a few weeks ago and the  pictures are in this post,  cooking-with-my-kids-ahhhhhh. The finished product was wonderful and freezing it made no difference in the quality. Seriously, it was wonderful and I can't imagine a better birthday breakfast treat!


Chocolate Chip french Toast Casserole -
Adapted from You've got it made by Diane Phillips

1 cups sugar
8 large eggs
2 cups of heavy cream
1 tbls vanilla extract
1 large french bread loaf torn into cubes
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix the first 4 ingredient in a large bowl. Add the bread and stir to coat, then add the chocolate chips and stir again. Pour into a 9*13 pan and cover with foil.  Freeze for up to 1 month.

Thaw and  bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes -uncovered. Broil to brown the top.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kids Cooking Camps!

A few weeks ago I held a couple of cooking camps over Spring Break. Cooking camps are a great way to feed a kids interest in food and cooking. They get to spend a few hours making treats with other kids and having a great time. I like to sneak in a few healthy treats too! After spending a few hours at cookie camps, kids often want to cook more at home and are at least a bit more interested in what is going on in the kitchen.

 The first Spring Break camp was a big kids camp where they made Irish Brown Scones, Minty Ice Cream Pie, Chocolate Mashed Potato Cake and Irish Butter Cookies. The second was for the younger kids and they rolled out and decorated sugar cookies, made Leprechaun bark, Rainbow skewers and Shamrock biscuits.

Look at how much fun they had!

The big kids getting ready to make the butter cookies.

Ice Cream Pie!


Nadia making brown scones.


The little ones had a ton of fun as well.


For more ideas on how to get kids involved in the kitchen check out Kids Cook Monday for lots of great kid friendly recipes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week 15- Back on Track

I am getting into the groove again of making meal plans each week. Finally!  This week is going to be a busy one. My baby girl is turning 11  - AAAGGGHHH. Where did the time go? We will be working on finishing  up her Girl Scout service project and planning for her birthday fun.

This weeks menu is going to have several of my kids favorites and couple new dishes for us to try out.

Spinach and pea pesto - I am giving the Clean Eating Magazine recipes another try. I will keep you posted.

Cranberry Pork - family favorite and easy slow cooker meal! Love it!!

Individual Lamb Pies - there are a few more in my freezer that are calling me

Sausage and pasta - Ashley's birthday dinner. She LOVES sausage and pasta and I might even let her make it :)

Honey glazed salmon - got to get the fish in this week. Honey makes everything taste good right?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eating Around the World- African Bobotie


Looks good doesn't it? That is a Bobotie, or South African fruit and meat pie.

Lately I have been trying to vary our meals and introduce a wider variety of flavors into my kids diets. One way we are doing this is by testing out the traditional dishes of other countries. We used to do this on significant holidays for the countries and tried to learn about about the holidy. That is a practice I think we will be starting up again.  Anybody have a list of religious and national holidays around the world??

 The Bobotie is a traditional South African dish with  nuts, curry and beef and an egg topping. We don't really eat fruit and meat together very often so it was something I wanted to give a try. My kids love raisins and apricots so I thought that they would really like to try them in this dish. They loved the sweetness of the fruit with the mild heat of the curry. It was a really interesting and delicious meal.

The base component of the pie is bread cubes soaked in milk.


and lots of tender onions and garlic.


Ground beef is added and browned and then mixed with the rest of the ingredients.
The pie is baked and fills the air with the most amazing aroma.  The end result is a delicous meat pie!



1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 oz dried apricots
2 slices white bread
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tbls lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 oz raisins
4 tbls flaked almonds
2 eggs

Peel onion and chop it finely. Peel and crush  the clove of garlic. Chop the dried apricots finely.
Tear the bread into pieces and put into a shallow bowl with half milk. Leave it to soak.

Melt the butter in a frying pan cook onion and garlic over low heat for 5 minutes until they are soft.
Add the ground beef. Cook it for another five minutes, stirring it all the time until it is brown all over.

Mix the curry powder, chili powder lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the meat mixture.

Add the raisins, almonds, apricots and soaked bread. Stir in the remaining milk that the bread was soaked in.

Spoon the mixture into the greased dish. Whisk the eggs and the rest of the milk together. pour it over the meat.

Put the dish into the oven and bake it for 45-50 minutes until the topping has set and turned golden.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Peanut Lime Chicken

This is going to be the newest addition to my batch party selections!!! Lime, Peanut, how can you go wrong???


Tender chunks of chicken breasts or thighs were marinated in an awesome sauce of lime, peanut, soy and red pepper. The marinade was mixed in a bowl and then poured into a freezer bag.


Add the chicken to the bag, seal and freeze.


When it time to cook- thaw the bag completely and thread the chicken chunks on skewers.  Cook for 5 minutes on each side. The end result is tender zesty chicken with a slight hint of heat.  I served this over rice with a side of grilled vegetables.

Peanut Lime Chicken

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup peanut oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 minced garlic cloves
1 chili pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cubed

Mix all of the ingredients  together and put in a freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Thaw completely, thread onto skewers and grill for 5-7 minutes per side.