Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Pizza

This one is fast and easy.  I needed a break after cooking all weekend.

The Ingredients

pre-made pizza shells

pizza sauce (in the pasta section)

mozzarella cheese

mushrooms, chopped

sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

dried oregano

garlic powder

I used a cookie sheet to prepare the pies for the oven.  I layered the pies with sauce, oregano, garlic powder, and cheese.

I added the chopped mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.

I baked them directly on the oven grates for a crispy crust, according to the package directions, which in this case, was 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Yum!  ~Nancy

Grilled Zucchini

This one is so easy and yummy 🙂

The Ingredients

zucchini or squash

olive oil

salt

ground pepper

Preheat the grill for about 15 minutes at high heat.  Wash the zucchini, then slice it to about 1/2 inch slices.

Drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and you’re ready for the grill.  If you don’t have a grill you can easily use a grill pan on the stove top.

I tried to alternate the position, so I could get nice grill marks, but it’s not really that important.  I turned them about every 5 minutes, and total cook time was about 20 minutes.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!  Here at my house, the leaves are starting to fall from the trees already 😦  ~Nancy

Banana Bread

Long before I learned how to cook, I was a baker.  And the strange thing about that was, I never had a sweet tooth.  So I would bake and then give it away or take it to work, where my co-workers complained I would make them fat.

I told my husband I wouldn’t be baking banana bread again until the fall because it makes the house too hot, but when I see bananas like this, they just scream banana bread.  I adapted this recipe from one that I found on AllRecipes.com

The Recipe

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1 egg

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 c. milk

2 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

1/2 c. toasted almond pieces

First, I mixed the butter and sugar.  Then, I added the rest of the wet ingredients and mixed it together.

Next, in a separate bowl, I mixed the dry ingredients, and added them in, a little at a time, to the wet mixture.  Last, I added the chocolate chips and almond slices.

I put the mixture in a bread loaf pan, and baked it at 325 degrees for 55 minutes. Since everyone’s ovens vary a bit, I would start checking it at about 45 minutes to see if it is done. In case you do not know how to check a baked good to see if it is done, you stick a toothpick into the center.  If it comes out clean, it’s done.  If it doesn’t come out clean, it needs more time to bake.

Because of the name of the blog, I figured it was about time I put something “sweet” on the blog.  With all the butter, this is definitely not on my diet, but we all need a treat every now and then. Enjoy! ~Nancy

Chicken Meatballs

We recently had an open house in our new home. It was nice to finally get to meet some of our neighbors.  I made these meatballs and they were a hit!

The Recipe

1/2 white onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

1 T.  olive or canola oil

3 lbs. ground chicken

1 c. panko bread crumbs

1 egg or 2 egg whites

2 T. dried parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Pasta sauce, I like to use the 45 oz. Ragu, Traditional sauce

I started out sauteing the onions and garlic until almost soft.

I then mixed all the ingredients together, and formed the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs.

I baked them on a foil-lined sheet for about 20 minutes, at about 350 degrees, then finished cooking them in the pasta sauce over the stove.

They kept very nicely in the refrigerator for two days.  The day of the party, I heated it over the stove, and then put it in a crock pot to stay warm. I served it alone, but you could get some nice italian rolls, and make meatball sandwiches as well.

Enjoy! ~Nancy

Spanish Rice and Beans

Growing up, I had a hispanic stepmother who taught me how to make this recipe. She used a spice, called sofrito, in many of her recipes.  It is a wonderful mixture of vegetables and herbs all chopped up in a blender or food processor.  As far as I’m concerned, the star of this mixture is the cilantro, although my father would have disagreed.

Sofrito is made with cilantro, onions, peppers, hot peppers, and other ingredients, so when you blend them all together, it is very aromatic to say the least.  My german-blooded, meat and potato, father always hated when she made this, but to me it is oh-so-good.

Luckily, I live in an area which has a high number of hispanics, so I can by the sofrito in the freezer section of my local grocery store.  If I get brave enough to try making it from scratch, I will be sure to post the recipe.

In my teens, 20s, and 30s, I was blessed with good metabolism.  That, and I smoked. (A stimulant.)  Not so much in my 40s.  So, as a teen and young woman, I read all the fashion magazines, with all the teeny, tiny models.  I was constantly trying to stay skinny.  One of things that I read was that you shouldn’t rinse rice or pasta because you would be washing away the nutrients.

So when my stepmother showed me how to make the rice, and she rinsed it before cooking it, I argued with her that it was not the right way to do it.  She replied, “My grandmother rinsed the rice, my mother rinsed the rice, I rinse the rice, and you’re going to rinse the rice.” To this day this still makes me laugh 🙂 Enter the rice cooker!

My husband is filipino and his mother had given him this rice cooker, so we brought it to our new house.  I had no idea how to use it until one day a hispanic friend of my husbands was over, and he told me what to do.  The best part is, you really don’t have to rinse the rice!

The Rice

1 c. white rice

1 1/2 c. water

2 t. olive oil

Put all the ingredients into the rice cooker, cover, and turn it on.  This one just turns off when the rice is done.  If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can make it over the stove.  The directions usually call for twice the amount of water to rice, but that usually makes mush.  Try starting with a little less water, you can always add more at the end if you need to.

The Beans

2-3 T. of sofrito

1 T. Olive oil

1 15.5 oz. can of beans (any kind)

2/3 of a 8 oz. can of tomato sauce

1/2 packet of Sazon (Goya section)

I cooked the sofrito in the oil for a few minutes, then added the beans, with its liquid, which is why I try to use the lower sodium versions now available.  I add the tomato sauce and Sazon, bring to boil, cover and simmer over low heat until the rice is done.  The Sazon adds a lot of flavor, but the reason I only use 1/2 of the packet is because there is MSG in it and I try to avoid using too much of it.

This recipe makes about 3-4 servings, depending on portion size.  You can serve it separately or all mixed together, which is how I like it.

Enjoy! ~Nancy

Grilled Potatoes

My Dad died in July of 2001, just 2 months before 9/11.  Since he was a WWII veteran, having fought for his country, I was happy that he did not get to witness this atrocity.

As a young man, he was a Boy Scout Leader, and liked to hike and cook out, either on the mountain or by the river.  (Life was way simpler then!  No computers, handhelds, iPads, you get it.)  He would make these potatoes for me and my sister and whatever friends we drug along with us.

I don’t have amounts of ingredients, you can make as much or as little as you like, and adjust spices to your own taste.  I’m sure my Dad’s version was all butter, but I used only olive oil this time, and they were still yummy!

The Ingredients

Potatoes, I prefer red because they are so creamy

Carrots

Sweet Onion

Olive Oil or Canola Oil

Parsley

Salt

Pepper

I started by peeling the potatoes, quartering them, and slicing them very thin.  I grated some baby carrots, so they would cook fast.  I also grated the onion, (thank you, Racheal Ray) which turned out all brown and crunchy, adding a really nice flavor.

I mixed all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, coating with olive oil, then adding the parsley, salt, and pepper.  I then transferred the potato mixture to a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, then sealed the foil into little pouches.

I cooked them at about 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, then turned off the flame when I started the other two to make my meat and veggies, which in this case were turkey burgers and grilled zucchini.  Total cooking time was about 40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Spicy Chicken Chile

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Spicy

When I say this dish is spicy, it is not necessarily hot.   You can adjust the spice however you like.  Tone it down or add more kick, whatever you prefer.  The heat mainly comes from the hot sauce, which I made very mild.

The Recipe

1/2 lb. Ground chicken or turkey, browned

2 T. Olive oil or Canola Oil

1/2 White onion, diced

1/2 Bell pepper, diced

1 – 15.5 oz. can Pinto beans, with liquid

1 – 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel, in canned tomato section)

1/2 cup water

1 t. Chile powder

1 t. Paprika

1/2 t. ground Cumin

1/2 t. Garlic powder

Dash Cayenne pepper OR 1/2 t. hot sauce, optional

1/4 c. shredded Mexican blend cheese

I start by sauteing the diced onion and bell pepper in about 1 T. oil.  This usually takes about 10 minutes until it is nice and soft. At the same time, I brown the ground chicken in the other 1 T. of oil.

Next, I combine the sauteed vegetables and meat with the remaining ingredients, and add the spices.

Last, goes in the cheese. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat.  Cook on very low for about 30 minutes.

Yum!  ~Nancy

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

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6/29/16

Tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh at our local orchard, and as always this is a great, easy, go-to side dish for lunch, dinner, picnics, whatever.  It is very healthy and light tasting with only 1 T. of olive oil in the recipe. I’ve updated the prior post to include the use of fresh basil, although dried is fine too.  I hope you enjoy this fast, easy, light recipe!

~Nancy

Original Post

The other night, my neighbor stopped by and gave us a bag of tomatoes, all shapes and sizes.  Fortunately, I have a nice back yard, and I like to garden. Unfortunately, the wild life is not cooperating.  I planted two blueberry bushes and they have been eaten down to the ground by the squirrels and rabbits.  So much for blueberry pie 😦

So what to do with all those tomatoes?

 

The Recipe

2 Medium Tomatoes

1 Cucumber, quartered and diced

2 T. Balsamic vinegar

1 T. White wine vinegar

1 T. Olive or Canola oil

1 Clove garlic, minced or pressed

2 t. Dried basil, or 2 T. fresh chopped basil

1/4 t. Dried Oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

For this recipe, I mix the liquid and spice ingredients first in a small bowl, so the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Then I dice the tomato, peel and slice the cucumber. This one can’t be easier!

Add the liquid and spice, mix together, and you’re done.

Enjoy, and have a great day! ~Nancy

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

As I mentioned, I recently married and there is a cultural difference between me and my husband.  We are both Americans, but I am of German decent, and he is of Filipino decent.  He did not know what the term “comfort food” meant.

Being of German decent, I am all too familiar with that term.  Growing up, I would eat mashed potatoes with bread, kinda of like the Polish Pierogie.  The starchier the better.  Anyway, in this recipe, I am using less butter and substituting low-sodium chicken broth for the milk.

The Recipe

6 medium potatoes, diced

1 T. butter

1 garlic clove, pressed

2/3 c. low sodium chicken broth

1 t. dried parsley

Salt and Pepper to taste

I have discovered a line of freeze dried herbs made by a company called Litehouse.  They are the closest in taste to fresh herbs, and they are so convenient.  Having high blood pressure, I try to use as little salt as I can without making the food taste too bland.  This is why I have  turned to herbs and spices to add flavor to my foods.

So, for this recipe, I started by peeling and dicing the potatoes.  I cooked them in water for about 20 minutes, drained them and set them aside.

In the same pot, I added the butter, sauteed the pressed garlic and added the parsley.

I added the potatoes, chicken broth, salt, and pepper, and mashed the potatoes with a hand masher.  I don’t mind lumps, and John ate 2/3 of it!

Enjoy!  ~Nancy

Summer Salsa

Of course, this recipe is for all year long, but there is nothing better than fresh salsa, and it is the perfect time of the year for it.  Even if you don’t have access to fresh tomatoes, you can get these gorgeous vine ripened tomatoes pretty much all year long at the grocery store.  This recipe is adapted from my good friend, Donna, whom I lovingly call, Ma Donna.  She is an awesome cook.

The Recipe

3 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1/4 c. finely diced onion

Juice of 1  lime

1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 t. ground cumin

Salt & Pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste, I prefer Frank’s Red Hot

I start out dicing the tomatoes, peppers, and onion.  I prefer to use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, because I don’t like the green ones, and it adds another element of color.

Tomato and Orange Bell Pepper

Onion and Jalapeno

I remove the seeds from the jalapeno, before dicing, since that is were most of the heat lives, and I don’t like my salsa too hot.  Next I use the leaves of the cilantro and chop them finely.  I am combining the ingredients in a bowl as I work.

Cilantro

Lastly, I add the lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper, and Red Hot.  I used about 10 shakes of the hot sauce.  You can adjust the spices to your taste.

The finished product

To save on fat and calories, I use Tostito’s baked scoops.  You can get a lot of salsa in the scoops, and I love that!

Enjoy! ~Nancy