Mexican Shrimp Tostadas with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

>> Monday, October 22, 2012

I think I could eat these once a week and never tire of them.  I really, really love these tostadas and luckily so does everyone else in my family.  As good as shrimp, black beans, guacamole and cheese are, it's definitely the cilantro-lime slaw that elevates these tostadas into the realm of super awesomeness.  My family has some food sensitivities and this recipe is naturally gluten-free and for Finley, I simply omit the cheese.  Easy-peasy and everyone is happy!  If you aren't a shrimp fan, you can easily substitute chicken, pork, or beef or they're hearty enough to just serve them vegetarian.

Mexican Shrimp Tostados with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

for the shrimp:
2/3 lb small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Tex-Mex seasoning (or a mixture of garlic powder, salt, pepper, Mexican oregano and cumin)

for the slaw:
1/2 bag cole slaw
3-4 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 lime, zest and juice
2-3 tablespoons cilantro
salt and pepper

for the tostadas:
12 tostada shells
1 store bought container good-quality guacamole (or make homemade)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 oz crumbled Mexican or feta cheese
1 tomato, chopped

Early in the day, combine all of the shrimp ingredients together in a ziplock bag and gently mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.  Then assemble all slaw ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a mixing bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with foil and arrange the 12 tostado shells on the baking sheets.  Cook the shells for 2-3 minutes to crisp them up.   Remove them and let cool until you can handle them.  Spread 1-2 tablespoons of guacamole on each tostada.  Evenly divide the black beans between the tostadas and then top the beans with cheese.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is softened.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook shrimp, flipping halfway through, 2-3 minutes or until no longer pink.

Remove tostadas from oven.  Top with slaw, tomatoes and shrimp.  Serve immediately.


Chorizo, Potato and Mushroom Tacos

>> Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's no secret in our house that my husband loves him some chorizo.  It's also no secret that I'm always on the look out for a quick weeknight meal.  This recipe fit both and sounded delicious, so I decided to give it a try.  Normally when I make tacos, I serve them with cheese and sour cream, but now that we're a (mostly) dairy-free household, I can't do that anymore.  This recipe was so flavorful and filling that I didn't miss the dairy at all!  So next time you have taco night, I highly recommend you trying this recipe!

Chorizo, Potato and Mushroom Tacos

Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday, as seen on Pink Parsley

12 oz fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz of your favorite mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
12 oz red skin, yukon gold or russet potato, grated
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
12 warm corn tortillas, for sering
3/4 c tomatillo salsa, for serving
1 avocado, sliced, for serving
Margaritas, optional but definitely recommended!

Crumble the chorizo into a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often to break up any large lumps, until some of the fat starts to render and the sausage looks half-cooked, about 4-5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the onions, garlic and mushrooms.  Cook, stirring nearly constantly, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the grated potato over the sausage mixture and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft, about 3 minutes, stirring often.  Reduce the temperature if the potatoes start to brown before they soften.  Taste and season with salt if necessary - some chorizo is highly seasoned.

Scrape mixture into serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.  Serve with warm tortillas, tomatillo salsa and sliced avocado.


Crusty, No-Knead Bread

>> Wednesday, April 18, 2012

About ten years ago, I decided to make homemade bread for my co-workers for their Christmas presents.  All I remember from the experience (I think I blocked it out as it was so traumatic) was that I swore I would never make bread from scratch again.  Ever. Kneading bread dough was just not my cup of tea.

Trying to find good bread without any dairy in it is possible, but definitely not an easy task.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it because it didn't have any dairy and because you didn't have to knead it.  Praise the Lord for no knead bread recipes!

I loved this recipe for so many reasons.  Have I mentioned that you don't have to knead it?!?  There are only four ingredients, all of which you probably already have in your pantry.  Your active work time for this recipe is only about 5 minutes.  And lastly, the bread has this wonderful crust while still being soft and moist inside.  Delicious!  Also, you can easily add-in other ingredients if you'd like to make flavored bread.  I think my next loaf will be a breakfast bread with dried cranberries and pistachios in it...

Crusty, No-Knead Bread

recipe from Simply So Good (for step-by-step pictures, check out SSG's blog post)

3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t salt
1/2 t yeast
1 1/2 c water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside (don't refrigerate) for 12-18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven reaches 450 degrees, place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and let pot heat for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Remove pot and carefully place dough into pot.  Cover with the lid and return to oven for 30 minutes.  Take lid off and bake another 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.


Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork

This recipe was the best pulled pork I've ever made.  The meat had a wonderful flavor and was so tender.  It only took me about 45 seconds to shred the meat since it was literally falling off the bone.  Yum!  This recipe is going back on the menu again this month.  The liquid smoke was a crucial element as it added a true barbecue flavor that is normally lacking in slow cooker recipes.  (I found liquid smoke in the aisle with the BBQ sauces.)

Also, I couldn't find less than a 9 lb pork shoulder roast at my grocery store, but the butcher was more than happy to cut it down for me.

Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork

recipe from Six Sisters Stuff

3-4 lb pork shoulder butt roast (can be bone-in)
3 T paprika
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1 1/2 T pepper
1 t garlic powder
1 t dry mustard
1/3 c liquid smoke
1 (16-20 oz) bottle of BBQ sauce (I used Stubb's)

Spray the inside of your slow cooker with nonstick spray.  In a small bowl, combine paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, mustard and liquid smoke and whisk to combine.  Rub marinade into all sides of pork and place meat into slow cooker.  Cover with lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove pork roast from slow cooker and shred meat.  Add meat back into slow cooker and stir in BBQ sauce.  Serve on buns and enjoy!


Once a Month Cooking

Does anyone do this?  I'm trying to figure out if I can swing it.  I think we'd eat out less often (and thus save money) if I had meals in the freezer ready to cook.  I literally spent four hours yesterday trying to plan out a menu and collect recipes and I'm still not finished.  Anyone have any advice for me???


Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas

>> Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When it comes to enchiladas, nine times out of ten I will order Queso Enchiladas, beef enchiladas topped with chili con queso.  Be still my heart.  Sadly, now that we're a (mostly) dairy free household, I can no longer indulge in such delicacies.  So in order to feed my enchilada craving, I came up with these delicious, and much healthier, Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas.  Serve a plate of these with a green salad or Spanish rice and you've got a fantastic Mexican meal that you don't have to feel guilty about!

In order to save time, I used canned enchilada sauce, but these would be even better with a homemade sauce.  If we could eat dairy, then I think this Poblano Cream Sauce would pair beautifully with these yummy enchiladas.  Also, I like my enchiladas on the drier side, so I only used one can of enchilada sauce, but if you like them wetter, use two cans.

Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup water or broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 large ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
12 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheddar, pepper jack cheese, or Daiya cheddar cheese substitute
1 10-oz can red enchilada sauce
optional garnishes: sour cream, extra cheese, chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and/or black olives

In a small saucepan over medium heat, saute onions, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent.  Stir in beans, water, chili powder, oregano and cumin.  Let beans mixture simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is almost all gone, about 10-15 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a casserole pan with nonstick spray.  Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan.

In a small bowl, toss avocado slices with lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and a little pepper.  Set aside.

In a saute pan, add 1/2-inch depth of vegetable oil and heat it on medium.  Test the oil by dropping a few water droplets into the oil.  If they sizzle and bubble, the oil is ready.  If they don't, then let the oil continue heating and test again.  Using tongs, carefully drop one tortilla into the hot oil for 5-10 seconds. Remove to your work surface.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of bean mixture down the center of the tortilla and top with 1-2 slices of avocado.  Roll up enchilada and place seam side down in baking dish.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Sprinkle cheese over enchiladas.  Pour enchilada sauce over the cheese.  Bake 25-30 minutes in preheated oven.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sour cream, more cheese, chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro and/or sliced black olives.


Weekly Meal Plan

This Week's Menu:

Avocado and Black Bean Enchilada; Spanish Rice

Tomato Basil Cream Sauce; Rosemary Baguette

Cobb Salad; Homemade Bread

Pulled Pork Sandwiches; Potato Salad; Kale Chips

Turkey Lettuce Wraps; Brown Rice; Edamame


Weekly Menu

>> Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This Week's Menu:

Tacos al Pastor; Black Beans; Sliced Avocado

Barefoot Contessa's Steak Sandwich; Roasted Potato Wedges; Fresh Fruit Salad

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto; Rosemary Baguette

Spanish Roasted Chicken with Chorizo, Potatoes and Asparagus; Green Salad

Last Week's Menu Reviews:

Key West Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Skewers; Cilantro Lime Rice - a wonderful, and easy, dish to with which to welcome the beautiful spring weather!

Chorizo, Mushroom and Potato Tacos - this recipe is quick to prepare and a delicious alternative to the traditional ground beef taco filling.  Yum!  Look for a full recap of the recipe on the blog soon.

Artichoke Chicken; Caramelized Brussels Sprouts - This chicken dish was really tasty, even using the fake, non-dairy cheese!  Unfortunately, I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table that evening so I completely forgot to take a picture.

Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce - I love this one-dish meal.  Whenever I'm in the mood for spaghetti, this is the recipe that I use.

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps - always a family favorite. And healthy to boot!


Roasted Tomato Basil "Cream" Sauce

>> Friday, March 9, 2012

This whole 'dairy free' thing has turned out to be a wonderful change of pace for the family.  Finley is actually eating more (and hopefully gaining weight since she's a skinny minnie), Andrew has already lost two pounds and while I haven't lost any weight (but I'm crossing my fingers I do!), I feel great because we're eating so much healthier than we did before.  I'm also enjoying that going dairy free has pushed me out of my cooking comfort zone and forced me to try new recipes, like this one!

This sauce truly felt decadent while we were eating it, but I loved not feeling guilty about it since there wasn't actually any cream or butter in it!  The sauce is so flavorful from the roasted tomatoes, garlic and loads of fresh basil.  Really, how could you go wrong with those ingredients?!?  Even my carnivorous husband happily ate every bite without any comments/complaints about the lack of meat.  Finley and I happily ate our dinner and then we had leftovers for lunch the next day.  While the leftovers still had a wonderful flavor, the sauce had disappeared (i.e. absorbed by the noodles), so these noodles are definitely best served immediately.  Or just serve the sauce on the side rather than tossing them together.

Roasted Tomato Basil "Cream" Sauce 
adapted from Oh She Glows

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6-7 oz whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place tomatoes on baking sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Roast for about 25-30 minutes, or until tomatoes are slightly charred and bursting.  Let cool.

Meanwhile, put water on to boil for the noodles.  When boiling, add noodles and cook according to package directions.  Drain.

In a blender or food processor, add tomatoes, cashews, chicken broth and tomato paste.  Blend until fairly smooth.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  When hot, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Add tomato mixture and stir to combine.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the sauce if it is too thick.   Let sauce simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and stir in most of the basil (reserving some for garnish).

Toss sauce with hot pasta.  Garnish with reserved basil.


Key West Chicken and Veggie Skewers

>> Thursday, March 8, 2012

This past weekend we had glorious spring weather and that put us in the mood to bust out the grill for the first time in 2012.  I love grilling, mostly because it means I don't have to do all the cooking myself since my husband is the Grill Master!  This marinade was so simple (as in I had everything I needed for it already) and delicious.  And I love that I got the main dish and a side dish all in one - that makes this mama very happy.  You know what else makes this mama happy?  The fact that any food on a skewer will automatically be consumed by my child.

Key West Chicken and Veggie Skewers
adapted from Grocery Budget 101

for the marinade:
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 limes, juice and zest
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons cilantro, minced

for the skewers:
2 large chicken breasts, cubed
1 zucchini, cut into thick slices
1 yellow squash, cut into thick slices
8 oz fresh whole mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
wooden or metal skewers (if using wooden, soak in water for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling)

In a small bowl, stir together all the marinade ingredients.  Pour marinade into a large ziplock bag.  Add chicken and cut vegetables.  Close bag and shake well to evenly distribute marinade.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, flipping bag over once.

Preheat grill.  Drain marinade and discard.  Threat chicken and veggies onto skewers.  Grill over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, flip and move the skewers to indirect heat for another 4 minutes, or until juices run clear.


Freezer Friendly Berry and Banana Smoothies

>> Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Okay so the recipe title is a bit misleading.  Really, I just froze the "innards" per se of the smoothie rather than the actual smoothie as a whole.

You see, I am not a morning person (not in the least), but my sweet munchkin seems to enjoy waking up around 6:00 every morning.  For some odd reason, she wakes up hungry, whereas I just wake up grumpy.  Once I'm out of bed, I move at a snail's pace until I've consumed my first cup of coffee (after which, the world is a much happier place).  So to combat the exhaustion in the morning, I first made the freezer friendly breakfast tacos.  While they're totally awesome, they could be more nutritious.  So I decided to also make fruit smoothies.  In combination they are the perfect breakfast know, if you only needed two things to make a trifecta.

FYI - I bought whatever berries were available and on sale, so feel free to mix things up a bit.

And if you need any more convincing to try these, here is Finley's review: "Yummy foothie, Mama!"

Freezer Friendly Berry and Banana Smoothies

to freeze:
1 pint strawberries
1 pint blueberries
2 pints raspberries
1 pint blackberries
4 bananas, sliced

for smoothie:
1 bag frozen fruit medley
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk

Wash and dry (dry them well! or else they will freeze together in big icy clumps) the berries.  Cut strawberries in half.  Spread fruit (berries and bananas) on foil lined baking sheet and freeze for a few hours.  Package 1 cup of fruit in ziplock snack-sized baggies.  Return fruit baggies to freezer until ready to use.

To make smoothies, combine the contents of 1 fruit baggie with orange juice and milk of choice in a blender.  Blend away and serve immediately.  Makes 1-2 servings (1 serving if you're serving the smoothie by itself or 2 servings if you're serving it with another dish, like the breakfast taco).


Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce

>> Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When I hear people say that if you prepare vegetables well enough and often enough, then your child will eat them and love them, I automatically think one of two things.  First, they are incredibly lucky to have a child who apparently isn't a picky eater.  Or secondly, they don't have kids.  These naysayers also judge those parents who choose to 'hide' vegetables in the food they prepare their children.  "I mean, by hiding vegetables in food, how will the poor child ever learn to eat and appreciate vegetables on their own?!?"

I used to be one of these people.  Being somewhat of a foodie, I naively believed that by offering Finley the same foods I prepared for Andrew and myself, she would naturally develop a sophisticated palate.  And compared to most kids her age, maybe she has.  But she's still only two and a half and will choose a (veggie, organic) chicken nugget over broccolini any day of the week.

But here's what I've learned through my short years of motherhood.  Most kids are fickle eaters and they go through phases (usually fairly quickly!) of what they like and don't like.  For instance, one night Finley ate 10 spears of asparagus with her dinner.  I was so proud, pretty much ecstatic really, that I had a toddler who loved a green veggie besides canned green beans!  I marched to Costco the next day and bought the 6-lb bag of asparagus only to come home to a toddler who adamantly refused to eat. a. single. bite. of. asparagus. ever. again.

And this is why I am a firm believer of offering tasty, fresh vegetables at every meal (because sometimes Fin surprises me and eats her carrots or broccoli) BUT also hiding vegetables in meals wherever I can.  I mean, really what is the harm in packing more vegetables into a meal?  It's healthier all the way around!  This is a spaghetti sauce recipe I created when Fin was going through her 'I-only-want-to-eat-pasta-and-ice-cream' phase.  We enjoy the sauce so much, it's now the only meat sauce I ever make anymore.  It's jam packed with vegetables (onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, celery, zucchini and squash) so it's healthy and tasty.  When I make this spaghetti, I can rest easy because if Finley refuses to eat any of her vegetable side dishes that night, I don't have to worry since she ate some of the dreaded veggies without even knowing it.  And that makes me happy :-)

This recipe makes enough for about 10-12 servings.  I always make the full recipe - I serve it for dinner and then divide the leftovers into two or three large ziplock bags and throw them in the freezer for another night. Also, if you need to clean out your veggie drawer, feel free to throw in any other vegetables too!

Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce
a Baking and Eggs original

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
4-8 oz fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, shredded
1 yellow squash, shredded
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 cup red wine (or substitute with more beef stock)
1/2 beef stock
1 lb Italian sausage or Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 lb ground beef or ground bison
2 29-oz cans tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
1 14.5-oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes with garlic, drained
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving (omit if you're dairy free)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
1 small can tomato paste
cooked spaghetti noodles, for serving

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add bell pepper, onion, carrots, and celery.  Cook, stirring often, until onion becomes translucent.  Add mushrooms, garlic, zucchini, squash, basil, fennel seed, oregano and rosemary and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Stir in wine and beef stock and let simmer while the meat cooks.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan cook Italian sausage and ground beef over medium heat, breaking up any big lumps, until meat is browned.  Drain fat.  Add meat to vegetable mixture.

Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine.  Cover and lower heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for at least one hour.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  About 20 minutes before serving, stir in tomato paste if the sauce is too watery.  Continue to cook sauce over medium-low heat until ready to eat.  Serve over cooked noodles and sprinkle with extra parmesan.


Weekly Meal Plan

>> Monday, March 5, 2012

This Week's Menu:

Key West Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs; Cilantro-Lime Rice

Chorizo, Mushroom and Potato Tacos; Roasted Tomatillo Salsa; Black Bean, Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Artichoke Chicken; Caramelized Brussels Sprouts; Creamy Chive Pasta

Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce; Roasted Lemon Broccoli

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps; Edamame

Last Week's Reviews:

Arroz con Pollo - great comfort food!  I loved how well all the different flavors married together.  A company worthy dish!

Best Meatloaf; Caramelized Brussels Sprouts - While the meatloaf was good, it wasn't the "best" to me.  The meatloaf was fairly crumbly and didn't stay together well and I think I just prefer traditional flavors in my meatloaf rather than Asian-ish flavors found in this meatloaf recipe.  But enough about meatloaf because the brussels sprouts totally stole the show.  They were fantasticly delicious!

Wonton Soup - It was good but it was also a lot of work to make all those homemade wontons.  Not sure if the end result was worth all the time and effort...

Chicken and Veggie Quinoa Stir-Fry - When it came time to make this dinner, I just wasn't feeling it.  So I opted to improvise and I made homemade chicken nuggets, quinoa and roasted veggies.  Good food but nothing to write home about.

Spinach Stuffed Shells - I didn't ever make it to the health food grocery store for nutritional yeast so I postponed this recipe for another week.


Seared Scallops with Cauliflower-Corn Puree

>> Saturday, March 3, 2012

Even though I'm not a huge seafood lover, I was really looking forward to this fun, classy, little-bit-more-gourmet-than-usual meal.  I love to get in the kitchen and make dinner when I'm really excited about a new recipe.  I decided to serve this as our Valentine's meal at home.  I love to celebrate Valentine's at a fancy restaurant...just not actually on the day because I hate the crowds.  So I usually make a nice dinner at home (like last year's Filet Oscar) and then we got out to dinner on another night.

This meal really isn't hard to put together, even though it has several different components.  This is a pretty healthy, low carbohydrate meal.  Sure it has some butter in it, but not too much.  And it was a celebratory dinner after all.  (Of course it was before our household was dairy free!)  The scallops were fantastic and I was really surprised at how good the cauliflower puree was.  So if you're looking for a fancy-schmancy, but easy-peasy, meal, look no further!

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower-Corn Puree
recipe adapted slightly from So Forking Good

Olive oil
6 thin slices pancetta, chopped
8 large scallops
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted completely
salt and pepper, to taste
arugula or watercress, for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet.  When hot, add pancetta.  Cook, stirring often, until pancetta is crispy and has rendered its fat.  With a slotted spoon, remove pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate.  Leave pancetta fat in the pan and set aside.

Clean scallops by rinsing in cold water.  Gently slice an X-pattern on the top of each scallop.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat a pot of water to a boil.  Add cauliflower and cook until fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Drain and return cauliflower back to pot.  Add cream, butter and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix with a hand mixer until smooth.  Stir in corn kernels.

Meanwhile, heat the pan with the pancetta fat on medium-high heat.  If needed, add a little more olive oil until the surface of the pan is coated.  Once hot, place scallops in the pan.  Pan fry for about 2-3 minutes and then flip, browning the other side for an additional 1-2 minutes.

To serve, spoon a good helping of the cauliflower mixture on a plate.  Top with scallops.  Garnish with pancetta and arugula (or watercress).  Serve immediately.


Chorizo Chile con Queso

>> Friday, March 2, 2012

So this recipe isn't dairy free, but it was too good not to post!  I apologize for the crap-tacular picture, but it's hard to get a photo in which queso looks pretty!

To celebrate the Super Bowl, I made several appetizers on which to munch.  For me, the Super Bowl is about food, not football.  Sad, I know.  Anyway, one of the dishes I made was Chorizo Chile con Queso and it was fabulous.  Why have I never thought to add chorizo before?  The chorizo adds a great savory and spicy depth to the queso.  Even my mom, who told me ahead of time that she didn't care for chorizo, really liked this queso!

Chorizo Chile con Queso
a Baking and Eggs original

12 oz chorizo sausage, casings removed
1 small white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 lbs Velveeta, cut into cubes
2 14.5-oz cans Rotel (or diced tomatoes with green peppers)
Chopped jalapenos, optional
Milk or chicken broth, if needed
Tortilla chips, for serving

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chorizo, onion and bell pepper, making sure to break up any large clumps of chorizo.  Continue cooking 10-15 minutes, or until chorizo is cooked through and vegetables are translucent and soft.  Drain off the red grease.

In the bowl of a slow cooker, place cubed Velveeta.  Pour chorizo mixture over top of cheese.  Drain 1 can of Rotel and add to slow cooker.  Do not drain the second can and add entire contents to slow cooker.  If you want to dial up the heat, add jalapenos.  Stir to combine ingredients.

Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.  If the queso is too thick for your liking, add a little milk or chicken broth to thin it to your desired consistency.  (I didn't have to do this.) Lower heat to low or keep warm (this allows the queso to stay at the perfect dipping consistency/temperature) and serve with tortilla chips.


Arroz con Pollo

>> Thursday, March 1, 2012

While Arroz con Pollo simply means chicken with rice, this dish is much, much more than that.  This is a wonderful, comforting and hearty dish that helps me fill the comfort food category in my new dairy free cooking adventures.

What really elevates this Arroz con Pollo recipe is the added step of roasting your own tomatoes, which adds a wonderful sweetness that you simply can't replicate by only using canned tomatoes.  Seriously, a perfect bite from this dish is a piece of tender chicken, fluffy rice, sweet tomatoes that burst in your mouth, salty olive slices and the bright fresh flavor of cilantro.  Yummy to my tummy!

This recipe makes A LOT of food, so I'd suggest inviting friends over for dinner or be prepared to eat the leftovers for a few days...which is not a bad thing!

Arroz con Pollo
adapted slightly from Eat, Live, Run

for the marinade
1 orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1 Meyer lemon, juiced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 4-lb whole chicken, cut into pieces

for the dish
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 white onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons roasted cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 14.5-oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 2/3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups white rice, uncooked
1/2 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
1/2 cup Spanish pimento stuffed green olives, sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
hot sauce (optional)

For the marinade: In a large ziplock bag, mix together the orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add chicken pieces.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, flipping bag over once.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Spread cherry or grape tomatoes on the cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Roast tomatoes for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are slightly charred and have started to burst.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Turn oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

After the chicken is finished marinating, remove chicken from the bag and discard marinade.  Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a heavy 5 1/2 quart ovenproof pot.  Once the oil is hot, add half the chicken pieces and brown on both sides.  (Just brown the chicken, don't cook it through!)  Remove chicken pieces, and brown the rest of the pieces.  Set chicken aside.

In the same pot, add onions, bell pepper and garlic to the hot oil, scraping up any browned bit left from the chicken (flava flav!).  Saute veggies for about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and crushed saffron to the veggies and mix well.  Add roasted cherry tomatoes and diced tomatoes (with their liquid) and mix.  Add bay leaf.  Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add rice, stirring well to combine.

Lay chicken pieces in the pot, cover with lid, and place in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.  Stir in the peas and olives.  Cover with lid and let rest for 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot sauce on the side.

serves 6-8


February 2012 Potluck - "Man"luck

>> Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our theme this was month was the "man"luck - meaning we didn't care what you brought but the guy had to do the cooking!  I expected loads of meat, so I was very pleasantly surprised with the assortment of offerings that the guys whipped up.  I'm pretty sure that this theme will become an annual tradition!

 Cory's Beef Kebabs

Clint's Pico de Gallo 

Casey's Grandmother's Potato Salad 

 Stacy's Sesame Orange Kale Salad

Taylor's Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips 

 Craig's Mac and Cheese

 Cameron's Feast of Grilled Meats - Chicken, Ribs, Bacon Wrapped Venison and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

 Clint's Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Icing - this month's winning dish!

Andrew's Chocolate Pretzel Ice Cream (add about 1 c broken pretzel pieces in the last 5 minutes)

And now from the food and onto the peeps!
 Jennie, Taylor and Amanda chatting it up

 Andrew, Cory and Clint having some guy talk

 Erin, Candace, Robyn and Meagan trying to make it look like we're just there to pose for a picture but really we were there to chow down on the chips and salsa

 Lora and Jenni

 Craigles and Clinty

 Jennie and Robyn

 Candace, Erin and Lora

 The dudes hanging out by the grill (I have no idea why my husband is making that face)

 The chef with his grilled feast o' meats!

 Ah, showing some bro love!

 Erin chowing down on some of the badass ribs

 Candace was trying to look good while eating ribs

 Whoa, hold the presses!  LB is eating meat off a bone!!!

 The birthday boy

 The birthday girl

 Robyn and C-Ray

Time to choose the games for the evening's entertainment

 Isn't my husband cute!

 Cameron, Clint, Jennie, Stacy and Amanda - AKA Team Chairs (plus Meagan and Taylor)

Craig took his job of buzzing very seriously!

 Casey's turn

Craig, Candace, Cory, Robyn (AKA Team Couch - plus Erin, Andrew, Lora and Casey)

Clint's Pico de Gallo
3 cans Rotel (your preference)
1/2 - 3/4 cup cilantro
1/3 cup onion
2 T garlic, minced
1/8 t red pepper flakes
3 dashes chili powder
generous 1/4 t cumin
1/2 t salt
1/2 T lime juice (I used one whole lime)
1/8 t Tabasco sauce (more if you want some heat)
splash of white wine vinegar

Put all ingredients in blender and blend on low (time will depend on desired consistency).

If you like it hotter, add a jalapeno or serrano pepper

Casey's Grandmother's Potato Salad
- red new potatoes (leave skin on)
- cover with cold water and bring to a boil; boil at medium heat until potatoes are easy to cut with a knife (about 30 minutes)
- drain and cool to room temperature
- add cut celery
- add 1/2-1 sweet onion, chopped
- add Hellman's mayo (the real, original formula - not "lite" or some "salad dressing") one tablespoon at a time
- add following items and gently mix: green olives with pimentos; hard boiled eggs; salt; pepper; paprika

Stacy's Orange Sesame Kale Salad
Wash one bunch of kale and strip leaves off of stems.  Dry and cut into bite-size pieces.
Whisk together:
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T sugar
2 T soy sauce or Tamari
1 T sesame oil
Pour dressing over kale and toss in:
2 T toasted almonds
1/4 cup pepitas
1/2 apple, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
crystallized ginger, optional

Taylor's Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips
4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
2-3 parsnips, peeled and cut into strips

Coat veggies in olive oil, sea salt, pepper and Tony Chacere's seasoning.
Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Five minutes before they're done, squeeze fresh lime juice and drizzle agave maple syrup on top.  Bake 5 more minutes.  Remove from oven, cool slightly and drizzle a bit more maple agave to sweeten.

Cameron's Feast of Grilled Meats
for the shrimp:
buy only gulf shrimp (farm raised taste different)
peel and devein shrimp
place shrimp in bowl with hickory flavored BBQ sauce
wrap in bacon, optional
grill until firm (for more flavor, grill over mesquite)

for the venison:
slice venison backstrap into 1/2-inch thick pieces (cutting against the grain)
place in bowl and add moderate amount of your choice of seasoning (salt, pepper, season all or Tony Chacere's)
wrap in bacon
grill until medium-rare to medium (for more flavor, grill over mesquite)


Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Not too long ago, I read that brussels sprouts were the most hated vegetable, but I swear, if you follow this recipe, they may just become your favorite!  These were so delicious that I opted to have another helping of them instead of eating dessert.  That says a whole heck of a lot!  The recipe says that it feeds four as a side dish...but last night it only fed two since Andrew and I just kept nibbling on them. You should have seen the horrified look on Andrew's face when he realized that I had finished them all off.  You'll just have to trust me, but I have never seen him look so upset over a vegetable.  And I can't remember ever being so excited over a vegetable!

The rather mellow flavored brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and meld perfectly with the sweet brown sugar and the crunchy toasted nuts.  I didn't make any major changes to the recipe and it was a perfect, and healthy, side dish that I will add into my regular rotation.  Although, I do think adding a little bacon or pancetta might be nice too...

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
recipe from Eat, Live, Run

12-14 brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 pinches of kosher salt
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Slice each brussels sprouts into thin ribbons.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute garlic for about 30-45 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant.  Add the brussels sprouts and continue sauteing them for another 5 or so minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender.  Add salt and brown sugar and stir to combine.  Finish by sprinkling the nuts over top.  Give it all a good stir and it's ready to serve.


Freezer Friendly Breakfast Tacos

>> Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Since so many things have dairy in them, it's a lot harder to eat on the fly.  As a result, I've started making more quick-fix meals ahead of time and freezing them to have on hand when we need a fast meal.  This breakfast taco recipe is fabulous and flavorful!  The recipe takes about 30-45 minutes to make, but you get 20 tacos out of it and have all the breakfast cooking finished for the week.   I also love that Finley will get some vegetables in before lunchtime.  For all the cheese-lovers out there, feel free to sprinkle on some cheese; however, these tacos are so tasty that you really won't miss the cheese at all!

Dairy-Free Freezer Friendly Breakfast Tacos
adapted from Hot Coupon World

2 tablespoons vegan butter (or regular butter)
1/2 lb bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb breakfast sausage
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 lb frozen hash brown potatoes
12 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
20 flour tortillas
plastic wrap or aluminum foil

In a large (I used my 14-inch skillet) over medium heat, melt butter.  Add in bacon and cook for a few minutes, or until bacon is starting to crisp up.  Add sausage, onion, bell pepper, and potatoes.  Cook, stirring often, until sausage is browned and veggies are tender.

Crack eggs into a bowl and scramble with a fork.  Pour eggs into skillet with meats and veggies.  Stir often and cook until eggs are set.  Remove pan from heat and let cool.

Spread tortillas out on work surface.  Top each tortilla with a generous spoonful of egg mixture.  Roll tortilla up and wrap individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.  Place tacos in large ziplock bags in the freezer.

To reheat, unwrap tacos and place seam side down on paper towel.  Microwave for 1 minute, turn over and microwave an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until heated through.


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