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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baked Zucchini Fries with Fiesta Dip

I sure wish I would have decided to try this recipe in the summer season when zucchini's were taking over my entire backyard. But leave it to me, to decide to try this, when I have to pay my local grocer for something I can grow myself. Yes, zucchini season is over for me! Well, at least now I know of a great way to use up some of the zucchini I grow next season. Here is the funny part...when zucchini is in season, it's too stinking hot to turn on the oven to cook this, so what is a girl to do? I guess  the answer is crank up the air conditioning in the summer and just make this anyway! Yes it's that good. It's just a new way to prepare zucchini, since I think I have actually tried every other way possible. The dip was so good with it also. In fact, I wanted to just get a spoon and eat the dip, I refrained. But barely!
Recipe Sources:

For the Fiesta Dip:
4 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt  
1/8 cup light mayonnaise  
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped 
3/4 tsp lime juice 
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
2-3 Tbsp chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers 
1 Tbsp finely chopped green onion

Place the first 7 ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth. Add the roasted peppers and the green onion and pulse the processor just a few times until blended they are blended in.
Place in a bowl and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Zucchini:
3 zucchini
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 packet Shake & Bake Coating Mix
1 egg

Heat oven to 450ยบ
Trim the ends off the zucchini, then cut crosswise in half, then cut each piece into 1/4-inch sticks.
 In the shake and bake bag, add the shake and bake mix and the Parmesan cheese. Shake to combine. 
Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Add the zucchini slices to the egg and toss to coat the slices thoroughly.
Place 1/4 of the zucchini in shaker bag; close bag and shake to evenly coat. Spread onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining zucchini.
Bake for 12 to 15 min. or until golden brown, rotating the baking tray halfway through the cooking time.
Remove the baked fries from the oven, and serve them with the fiesta dip. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Pina Colada Dipping Sauce

I have to confess something. Are you ready? Here goes: I could have eaten the entire tray of these things! Did I you ask? No...but trust me I did eat far too many. I really could have just taken a spoon and eaten the whole bowl of dip. Did I you ask? Well...let's just say that there was none left to throw away lol. You figure that one out on your own ;)
I'm not kidding when I tell you that these sweet potato fries dipped in this sauce, seriously tasted like a donut. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!
When my hubby first tasted them and said "these taste just like a donut" I kind of figured he was being sarcastic. But then I tasted it for myself and I was thinking "wow...he's not kidding." So next time you have a craving for a donut for dinner, try these out!
Recipe Source for the Sweet Potatoes:

For the Sweet Potatoes: 

2 large sweet potatoes
Olive Oil

Heat oven to 425°
Cut your sweet potatoes into french fry sticks. Try to get all the pieces approximately the same size as they will cook more evenly this way.
Place the cut sweet potatoes into a bowl of water. Soak them for 30-45 minutes.

Drain the water.
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with cornstarch. Use enough to have a light coating of cornstarch on all of the fries. 
Place the soaked fries on a cookie sheet that either has Parchment paper lining or has been well sprayed with Pam.
Drizzle the fries with olive oil.
Bake at 425° for 30- 45 minutes or until they are as crispy as you like them. Serve them plain or dip them in the following dipping sauce.

For the Dipping Sauce: 
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh pineapple, chopped finely
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut cream

Mix all ingredients together until blended well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Banana Chocolate Muffins

These muffins have two of my favorite ingredients. Now if they just had peanut butter in them, it would be all 3 of my favorites. I guess it's a good thing they didn't, because I'm not sure I would have refrained from eating them all. As it was, it was hard enough. I am still trying to watch what I am eating...and I don't mean watching it go into my mouth haha! I took one bite of my daughters, just for quality control purposes. Yes, I will keep telling myself that story.... that someone has got to do quality control for me and who better than me? That's my story and I'm stickin to it! :)
Recipe Source:

2 cups flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with a half a lemon squeezed into it and allowed to sit for 15 min or more)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or butter (or spray with Pam) the pan thoroughly if you do not want to use liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, mash the bananas, then whisk in the buttermilk, sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and whisk just until blended.
Remove one cup of the batter, and place it in a small bowl. Whisk in the cocoa powder, just until blended.
Divide the main (non-chocolate) batter between muffin cups. It’s about 1/4 cup of batter per cup.
Scoop 1 Tbsp of chocolate batter on top of the batter in each muffin cup.
Using a toothpick, swirl the chocolate batter into the banana batter.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for about five minutes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Latin Quinoa

Have you ever made a side dish that you actually want to eat as your entire meal? This was the side dish that made me want to do that. Although, I loved my dinner, I seriously wanted to forsake everything else on my plate and wallow in this quinoa. The crunch of the pine nuts and the acidity from the lime juice, made this quinoa so good. Of course, anything with Latin flavors is bound to knock my socks off. Thankfully, I live in So Cal, so trust me, even in the dead middle of winter, if my socks get knocked off, it's still NOT cold! ;)

Recipe Source:

1 cup  quinoa, toasted, see note below
2 tsp   canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1/4 cup  pine nuts, toasted (see note below)
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 large lime, juiced
1/4 tsp salt
1. Toast quinoa in a large dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it crackles and becomes aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly. Set aside. 

2. To toast pine nuts: place them in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside..
3.  Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chiles and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the quinoa and broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, then cover and cook until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Add pine nuts, cilantro, green onions, lime juice and salt to the quinoa. Mix gently and fluff with a fork.

Mozzarella and Pesto Panini

If my hubby did not want meat every night with dinner, I could very easily become a vegetarian. This sandwich proved it to me again. Every bite was so amazing and completely satisfying. Since he wants meat, I will just sneak in dinners like this once in awhile for a surprise. He really did enjoy it, but I'm sure he would have enjoyed it more, with a hunk of chicken or beef in it! Oh yeah, come to think of it, I'm actually sure I could NEVER give up sushi! But honestly, I could probably eat this sandwich 3 nights a week and be content.
2 slices sourdough bread
2-3 fresh tomato slices
Pesto sauce
Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper * Optional

Spread Pesto sauce on both sides of the bread. You can use as much or as little as you would like, depending on how much pesto flavor you would like to come through in your sandwich.

Add cheese slices on top of the pesto sauce. Layer tomato slices on top of the cheese. If you want to add crushed red pepper to your sandwich, then shake some of it over the tomato slices.

Place the other bread slice on the top. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the bread. Grill on your panini press until the cheese is completely melted and the bread is golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rice Krispy Treat Pumpkins

These rice krispy treat pumpkins turned out adorable if I do say so myself. What fun they were to  make also. I loved the bright orange coloring on them and the tootsie roll stem just makes me smile. I love Fall and I love baking fall goodies! So if you want an easy treat to take to work or just to share with family or friends, this one would be highly recommended by me.
Thanks to  for this cute idea!

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
orange food coloring, (or mix yellow and red food coloring according to pkg directions- to create orange)
5 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispys
Tootsie Roll Midgees (mini tootsie rolls)
A pat of butter (to use on hands to keep them from sticking)

 In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are completely melted. Add food coloring until desired orange color is reached. Add Rice Krispys and stir until completely combined. Turn off heat and let sit for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle. (These actually roll better when they are cooled off, but don't let them cool too much or they are a little tough to form)
When mixture is cooled, spread a very tiny amount of butter onto your hand and roll a handful of the mixture to form a pumpkin shape. Unwrap a tootsie roll and shape into the stem. (you can soften a few tootsie rolls in the microwave first, but only for a second or two, they melt fast!)
You will need to "rebutter" your hands before shaping each pumpkin!
Let them cool and serve.

Halloween Finger Cookies

This sure gives new meaning to the words "Finger Food". They look so gross, that I can't actually even imagine eating one. I saved some to take to the high school I work at tomorrow and I'm quite sure that high schoolers will have absolutely no problem devouring these, as gross as they are!
My youngest daughter was visiting today. She wanted to make some Halloween goodies to take to her friends. It was quite nice to have someone else be able to drive to the store and get all the stuff to bake. So while she ran to the grocery store, I started baking cupcakes (which will be in one of the next couple of posts). We had so much fun making these and it was quite hilarious to listen to us making them. As we were putting the "nails" on the fingers, we were both laughing and saying "that's so disgusting"! But we made it through and I do believe she even ate a couple ;)
1 box sugar cookie mix ( Don't buy the refrigerated tube kind, they spread too much while baking)
2 egg whites
Sliced almonds
cocoa powder
red food gel in the squeeze tube

Make the cookie dough according to the package directions. Be sure to use the directions for "cut out" cookies, not the rolled cookie directions.

When the dough is done, begin to roll the fingers. Take a small amount of dough and roll it between your palms. (kind of like when you were a kid and would make play dough worms). Try not to make them too long and make them A LOT skinnier than you want them to be in the end, because they do "puff" while baking.

After you have the finger, place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Pinch the portion just above where the knuckle would be and just below it. Take a knife and make little lines into the knuckle portion of the finger. You don't have to go way deep, but it definitely needs to be cut!

After you have cut all the knuckles, use a pastry brush and brush egg white onto each cookie. This helps the browning process.

Next, place an almond piece into the tip of the finger to form the fingernail. Push it into the dough slightly.

Mix the cinnamon and cocoa together. No particular amounts, but definitely heavier on the cinnamon than the cocoa. (Here is where the orignal recipe said to go ahead and bake the cookie and put the cinnamon on after they are baked). I mixed the cinnamon/cocoa mixture and lightly dusted it onto each knuckle and fingernail edge before I baked them. I think next time, I will wait until after to put the cinnamon/cocoa on them.

So decide if you will dust the fingers before or after they are baked and do so accordingly. Let cool. If you want to put blood on the fingernails, just squeeze a tiny amount of red gel around the fingernail area.
Bake according to package directions. Check them frequently so they don't burn or turn too brown.

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

Pizza without all the carbs? Yes please! This is such an easy way to get all the pizza flavor with less calories and so much healthier. I only used Parmesan on mine, because I am trying to cut down on fats, but you could load this baby  up with Mozarella cheese and I'm sure it would only add to the yumminess of it! I loved how quick this was to throw together and after a day of baking Halloween goodies with  my daughter, I sure needed something quick, yet tasty.
 3 Large Portobello Mushrooms
Pizza sauce
 2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Roma Tomatoes, chopped (or any other medium sized tomato)
1/2- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt to taste
Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
6 or 7 leaves of chopped Basil

Heat oven to 400°

Wash your mushrooms thoroughly and twist/pull out the stems. Lay the mushrooms out on a paper towel, cap side up, to drain of any excess water.

In a skillet, heat the 2 Tbsp olive oil. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft. (You don't want them completely mushy....just crisp tender). Stir in the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are somewhat soft also. Stir and season with crushed red pepper flakes and salt.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large baking dish and spread it all over the bottom of the dish.

Using a spoon, place as much  pizza sauce as you desire into your mushroom. (I didn't list an amount because this is such a personal preference. I LOVE pizza sauce so I used about 3 Tbsp on each mushroom) Spread it around. Now fill each mushroom with the filling that is warm on the stove, until it is all gone.
Place each stuffed mushroom into the oiled baking dish. Top each mushroom with Parmesan cheese and basil. Bake at 400° for about 10- 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and they are heated through.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Green Chili and Chicken Stew

For the first time in a very long time, it was cool enough outside, a few days ago, to warrant making "good ole" comfort food. I am longing for the days when it feels good to stoke up the oven, instead of causing me to sweat profusely and crank up the air conditioner even more. Those days don't happen all that often here in Southern Cali! So when they do, you bet I get excited about cooking even more than normal. Soup just sounded so good and I knew I had the ingredients on hand to make this recipe. This one is a keeper and I say "bring on more cool days" so I can make this again!
Recipe Source:

1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large can diced green chilies
 1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 bag dry Northern white beans, rinsed
9 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup corn (I used frozen corn that had been thawed)

 salt/pepper to taste
1 cup warm milk
2 Tbsp Masa
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Fresh lime and Avocado, for garnishes
(original recipe stated that sour cream and jack cheese are good garnishes also)

In a large stock pot, saute onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil, until soft. Add green chilies, serrano pepper and rinsed beans. Add the chicken broth cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour and then add the cooked, shredded  chicken and the corn. Cover again and simmer for 1more hour or until beans are completely soft and tender. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper as needed.

In a bowl, combine the warm milk and masa. Stir well. Then pour into the stew. Stir well and cook for 10 more minutes, uncovered. Add cilantro, stir and serve with fresh lime juice and avocado slices.

Grilled Ginger and Sesame Chicken Salad

Who doesn't love a light, refreshing Asian salad? I know this girl sure does. I wanted to make something light and low calorie tonight for dinner. This salad fit that bill. I have never used black sesame seeds before and they definitely have a little different taste than their light counterpart. I liked them though. They added, not only color, but a little different taste and a nice crunch! I guess Fall days in Southern California aren't so bad, if I can keep making salads like this!
Recipe Source:

For two salads:

Marinade and Dressing:

1/8 cup  soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp salt
 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup finely chopped green onions

Marinade and dressing -
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
2 small chicken breasts


1/2 head Napa Cabbage, sliced thinly
1 carrot, julienned
2 green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/2  tsp black sesame seeds, toasted

To toast sesame seeds:
Place sesame seeds in a hot dry skillet. Stir them continually and toast on med/high heat for just a couple minutes until you see them start to turn golden. Remove from heat. With the black sesame seeds, just toast for the same amount of time, they will darken just a bit.

To make the marinade:
Whisk together the soy sauce, ginger, olive oil, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sriracha and salt. Place the 2 chicken breasts in a gallon ziplock bag and add 2 Tbsp of the marinade mixture to the bag. Set the rest o fhe marinade mixture aside. (make sure you do no allow the rest of the marinade mixture to touch any of the raw chicken as it will be used to make the dressing). Squish the marinade around over the chicken and place the bag of chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinade.

To make the dressing:
To the reserved marinade, add in the red wine vinegar and green onions. Place in the refrigerator until ready to put on the salad.

To make the chicken:
Grill the chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill until it is cooked through. Let the chicken rest after cooking, before slicing it, to retain the juiciness of it. When it has rested about 10 minutes, slice into thin slices. 

To assemble the salad:

On your salad plates, add the cabbage, carrots, green onions, cilantro and chicken. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad and then garnish with almonds, sesame seeds and black sesame seeds. 

Lemon Parmesan Asparagus

Isn't it amazing that as you get older, you begin to love the vegetables that you used to turn your nose up to? I have loved eating asparagus for a very long time (this should be your first clue that I am getting very old) and it amazes me that my 3 year old grand daughter will also eat it. I know I wouldn't have at that age. Maybe she will have a much  more open minded pallet than I did.
This asparagus dish has just the right amount of "tang" from the lemon, crunch from the asparagus and that oh so yummy Parmesan cheese flavor!
Recipe Adapted From:

1 bunch asparagus
Lemon Infused Olive Oil
1/2 fresh lemon
Zest from 1/2 a lemon
Parmesan Cheese
salt/pepper to taste

You can either roast or steam your asparagus.
If you roast it: Preheat oven to 400° Place asparagus in a large baking pan and drizzle 1 Tbsp of water over the top. Roast for 15-30 minutes, depending how crunchy you like your asparagus.
If you steam it: Place asparagus in vegetable steamer over boiling water and cook until asparagus is crisp tender..

Once asparagus is cooked, remove from the pan and drizzle lemon scented olive oil over it. Squeeze half a lemon over the asparagus. Sprinkle the lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper over the top. Serve warm.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Chicken and Fruit Salad with Banana Dressing

Clearly it's Fall, when my nephew's girlfriend that lives in Oregon, posts that they are having the first fire of the season,  in the fireplace. After reading her post, I began to think of good old winter comfort foods. A few passed through my brain, such as: chili, chicken and dumplings, soup etc etc. Then I looked down and realized that I was in capri pants and a tank top. Also, I was too warm to be thinking of these kinds of foods. Clearly, Southern California has not gotten the Fall weather memo yet! Ok, Ok, it could just be that hot flashes now keep me in a permanent state of "summer" ;)
Whatever the cause, I knew that tonight's dinner would have to be of the light and refreshing variety. I scanned my Pinterest boards and this one caught my eye. Wow, I'm so glad it did.. This was super light, wonderfully refreshing and I can see this being a great "go to" summer lunch or dinner meal!
Recipe Adapted From:

For 2 Salads:
2 grilled chicken breasts
Spinach leaves
Spring Salad Mix
1/2 cantaloupe, chopped into chunks
Several red grapes
1 large, ripe banana, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced
1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

On two dinner plates, place the spinach leaves and the spring salad mix. You want enough of a bed of greens to place all the chicken and fruit on.
Place one sliced grilled chicken breast in the center of the greens, on each plate. 
Place an equal amount on the fruit on each plate, surrounding the chicken breasts. 

To make the creamy banana dressing:
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/6 cup brown sugar (or 2 and 2/3 Tbsp)
juice of 1/4 lemon

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until pureed and creamy. Serve on top of the salads.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Roasted Corn with Spicy Cilantro Butter and Lime

Both of my girls did not like corn when they were growing up. Now one of them really likes it and the other still won't eat it. Well...the one that likes it, was here tonight for dinner. While my grand daughter was taking a nap, we decided to make  this corn for nice side dish to go with our meat tonight. Boy, I'm glad we made this, because it was really delicious! I think next time I make it, I will try to make it even a little spicier. My motto is: You can't get food spicy enough EVER!! So if you  want to tone down the spice, you could omit the cayenne pepper, but if you want to kick it up a notch, add some more!
Recipe Adapted From:

5 ears of corn, husks on 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature 
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped 
1/8 tsp ancho chili powder
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt/pepper to taste

2 limes, cut into halves for squeezing on the corn
Heat oven to 350°. 
Place the corn, with the husks still on, into the heated oven on the middle rack. Bake for 30 minutes. 
While the corn is roasting, mix in a small bowl, the butter, cilantro, ancho chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Mix together with a fork until the ingredients are all distributed evenly throughout the butter. Set aside. 
Remove the corn from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. This will cool it down enough for you to remove the husks. Carefully remove the husks and the corn silk.

Spread some of the cilantro butter onto each corn cob and squeeze fresh lime juice over the corn. Enjoy!!

Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

I have a confession. While this bread was baking, I wanted to go and stick my head into the oven. No, I do NOT have a suicide wish. I just could not stop wanting to open the oven door and smell this bad boy! If I could have, I would  have crawled all the way into my oven and eaten this with a fork, before it was even done. But I was a good girl and I waited until it was actually finished cooking. Then, I was an even better girl and only tasted one of the smallest bites you could imagine. I served this to my family though and it got rave reviews!  It's so easy to put together and it's faster than making rolls from yeast, (which I actually love to do)!

 Recipe Adapted From:

1 can of refrigerated Grands biscuits (not the flaky layers)
1/2 stick of butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder

 Preheat the oven to 350°
Throw the cold 1/2 stick of butter in a bundt pan and let it melt in the preheating oven.
While the butter melts, cut the biscuits into quarters and set aside.
In a bowl, toss the biscuit pieces, minced garlic, Parmesan cheese,
Italian Seasoning and garlic powder together.  
Once the butter is melted in the Bundt pan, place the biscuit pieces into the butter. You may need to put some on top of others to get them all in there. Sprinkle any leftover herb/cheese mixture that gets left behind in the bowl, onto the top of the biscuit pieces in the bundt pan.   
Bake at 350°  for 20- 22 minutes until golden brown. Turn out onto a serving dish and serve warm.