Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Taco Salad

Taco salad is a great go-to meal for a hot summer evening like tonight! We cook up some ground turkey, which we season with "taco seasoning", and black beans and mix in lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onion, etc. Tonight we had some cucumber from our garden so that went in too. Top with some tortilla chips, cheese, hot taco sauce and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Usually I like to add diced avocado too but didn't have any on hand. The warm meat melts the cheese and softens the chips just slightly for a hearty but still light meal.  This would be great with some sour cream, salsa, guacamole, whatever your family likes! ...click here for the recipe!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baby's First Butternut Squash - Homemade Baby Food

Butternut squash is a perfect first food for baby, it purees up smooth and has great mild flavor.   Fill a baking dish with about 1 inch of water.  Slice the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and strings and discard. Bake cut side down in baking dish @ 400'F for 40-45 minutes or until knife tender. Cool, then scoop out insides and discard skin. Puree until smooth, adding 1/2 cup water at a time as needed until desired consistency.
Freeze puree in ice cube trays. I have also used "pre-chopped" squash. It's convenient but much more expensive. Some grocery stores sell some, already peeled and cubed. You can steam this until tender and then puree as above. ...click here for the recipe!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

I made these to bring to church for snack this morning and they were pretty tasty if I do say so. They struck a good balance of sweet and tart. There is some orange juice and orange zest in them that really compliments the cranberry flavor. This is a Cooking Light recipe (click here to view recipe). The only thing I modified was that I used Plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream, just because we don't normally have sour cream on hand. I think this recipe would also be tasty made with dried cherries and lemon zest! ...click here for the recipe!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grilled Chicken & Veggie Fajita Quesadillas

A delicious lunch made with last night's leftover grilled chicken & veggies. We love leftovers at our house. What could be better (and more money saving) than cooking once and eating twice. We usually try to prepare a larger portion so we purposefully have leftovers for the next day's lunch or dinner. ...click here for the recipe!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps

This is an easy summer dish. It's got alittle spice to it and a tasty Asian flair from ginger, red wine vinegar and soy sauce. We served it up in lettuce cups to make for a lighter meal. It would also be delish in tortillas or over rice.

A good way to use up some of the fresh zucchini from our garden since we have so many!  This is a great dish for kids too, our 3 year old had thirds!

Recipe (serves 4)
Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
salt and fresh ground pepper
olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 medium zucchini, sliced in thin strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons Low-Sodium soy sauce
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
12-14 lettuce leaves for wraps

Directions:
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper, cook about 2-5 minutes in a large skillet with olive oil, turning once, until browned and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165'F. Remove from heat and keep warm by wrapping in foil
2. Add vegetables to the pan, cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to the pan, cook another 1 minute.
3. Add soy sauce, vinegar and cornstarch mixture and remove from heat. Slice the chicken into strips and add to pan with vegetables, stir to coat. Serve in lettuce cups, warm tortillas or make into quesadillas! ...click here for the recipe!

Baby's First Green Beans - Homemade Baby Food

Start with fresh organic green beans (or green peas if using) wash well and trim off the ends. Green beans turn out best when steamed. Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water, bring to simmer and drop green beans into strainer in pot.  Cover and steam about 15 minutes until tender but still green.
When they are cooked through, pull strainer out immediately and place green beans in an ice water bath to stop the cooking and lock in that beautiful bright green color, it also seems to help them puree up better!
Next, add beans and about 1/2 cup water or cooking liquid into the food processor and blend thoroughly, about a minute.  Scrap down the sides as needed.  Green beans are a great first baby food but they do have some fibrous pulp so you can strain them for younger babies.   
 My 3 year old son likes to help with it. 
It takes about 3-5 minutes to push the whole big batch through a strainer into a gallon size resealable bag. 
The end result should be only a couple tablespoons of pulp remaining, discard pulp.  You will be left with perfectly smooth and bright green, flavorful green beans for your little one to enjoy.  As with all your purees, simply "pipe" directly from the bag into BPA-Free ice cube trays, freeze, then pop your portioned cubes into a fresh bag for storage up to 3 months in the freezer!
The homemade purees can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days (until you free up your ice cube trays) and then they really need to be frozen.  Remember this stuff is filled with flavor not preservatives. 

...click here for the recipe!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

















This is a delicious and light summer dinner.  The goat cheese made it extra yummy and decadent.  It is a recipe from Cooking Light (Click here for the recipe) and can be made ahead and served at room temperature, super easy.  There's fresh basil and oregano from our garden, which brings an extra fresh brightness to the salad.  Delish!  I substituted fresh organic spinach for the arugula. ...click here for the recipe!

Baby's First Sweet Potatoes - Homemade Baby Food

Start with organic Sweet Potatoes, wash well, quarter them and roast on a baking sheet in a 400'F oven for about 20-30 minutes or until fork tender (flip once, 1/2 way through). Let them cool completely. Once cool, peel, the skins will fall away from the flesh.
Blend in food processor with about 1/2 cup filtered water until desired consistency. These puree up so well! They are naturally butter smooth and the baby loves them!  
Transfer puree to a gallon size resealable bag (helps to put the bag in a bowl). Snip the tip of one corner of the bag and you've got yourself a "pastry bag".
"Pipe" the bright orange goodness into BPA-Free ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen completely (the next day), pop out the cubes into a fresh Zipper top bag, label, date and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Each cube is about 1 ounce, which makes for easy portioning and very little waste for beginning eaters.  
To make the most of your time, I suggest making a large amount at a time (I used ~ 3 pounds of sweet potatoes here).  We gave our first son homemade baby food also and I absolutely loved making it for him.  I found that by spending ONE afternoon per month I was able to make plenty of homemade cubes for him to last the whole month.  It may sound crazy, but I love steaming, roasting and pureeing up many different things all at once.  And I especially love watching my babies enjoy their food thoroughly!  ...click here for the recipe!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cashew Chicken {MYOTO}

This is a great take out fake out, it's Make Your Own Take Out {MYOTO}. The sauce is sweet and spicy and it works great with a variety of vegetables, whatever you like. Try it with tofu or shrimp too. It was my hubby's Father's Day dinner request. Served with steamed Jasmine Rice, made with chicken broth for extra flavor and topped with toasted cashews and fresh chopped cilantro.

Recipe (serves 4)
Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups rice (jasmine or brown)
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders (or chicken breasts sliced in strips)
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak seasoning
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 medium squash (yellow summer or zucchini), sliced
3 tablespoons Chipotle in Adobo (available on the international foods aisle) or 1 1/2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 real maple syrup (don't use the fake pancake stuff it won't be good)
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup cashews, toasted

Directions:
1. Prepare the rice per package directions, I like to substitute chicken or vegetable broth for the water to add more flavor.
2. Season both sides of the chicken with grill seasoning and cook on a skillet over medium-high health until it reaches an internal temperature of 165'F, ~2-3 minutes per side. Set aside and cover with foil.
3. Add onions, garlic, bell peppers and squash (or broccoli florets or other veggies you like) to the pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil if needed. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until vegetables are just tender but still vibrant in color. Dice the chicken into chunks and add to vegetable mixture.
4. Add the chipotles and cumin to the pan and stir until the chicken and vegetables are coated. Add the honey and real maple syrup glaze and remove pan from heat. Garnish with nuts and chopped cilantro and serve with rice.
...click here for the recipe!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Soft Tacos
















Lean ground turkey browned and seasoned with some Mexican seasonings, mixed with whole pinto beans.  Combine bean and meat mixture into soft tortillas, top with freshly grated cheese, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and Hot Taco Sauce. ...click here for the recipe!




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