Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Golden Chili with Carmelized Onions and Sausage

I made this recipe late last week and oh-my-goodness it smelled amazing simmering in our kitchen. I originally set out to develop a new white chili recipe, but after some toying and mixing, I ended up with more of a golden color.

Golden Chili with Carmelized Onion and Sausage

2 onions, chopped
1 T olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 jalepenos, deseeded and minced
2 t ground cumin
1 T ancho chili powder (regular is fine too)
2 t chili powder
1/2 t ground oregano
1 1/4 pounds (one package) of Turkey Italian Sausage
2 c of chicken broth
2 - 15 oz cans chickpeas
1 -15 oz can pinto beans
1 - 15 oz can creamed corn

In a large stock pot, heat the oil to medium heat and add the onion. Cook until carmelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, jalepeno, cumin, chili powder and oregano, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking it up with the spoon into small pieces (make sure you remove the casing first to make this easier). Once the sausage is browned and no longer pink inside, deglaze the pan (basically, just pour the broth into the hot pan) and scrape the pan to get all those yummy bits off the bottom. Add 1 can of the chickpeas and the pinto beans.

In a blender, puree the 2nd can of chickpeas and creamed corn*. Add the mixture to the chili. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the chili is the desired consistency. The great thing about chili, if it gets too thick, just add some chicken broth or even a beer to thin it out.

Top with shredded cheese, sour cream and green onion.

Serves 6-8

*pureeing the corn and chickpeas gives the chili a better consistency and adds two "hidden" vegetables to the chili.

Sweet eats!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Autumn is really here

The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are starting to change, and I am fired up to create some more meals.

Halloween will be here before we know it too. I see more and more pumpkins popping up on front stoops around the neighborhood.

I had thought I could convince R to be a fire fighter, and then I was going to dress G up as a dalmatian. But R is *insists* upon being a pilot, and I have made my peace with the fact that I won't be able to control their costume (or any for that matter) choices forever. But, come on, look how darn cute they looked last year in the costumes I chose for them:
What are your little pumpkins dressing up as this Halloween?

Our meals for the week:

Jambalaya with Pureed Cauliflower
A new Baked Penne recipe with a Spinach Salad
Baked, Stacked Quesadillas
A new Pork Tenderloin recipe with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and whatever veggie I pick up at the Farmer's Market this week

Have a sweet week,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I think I need to keep a closer eye on G

I have a stool I let R and G stand upon when I am preparing non-hazardous/messy parts of dinner so they can watch and learn.

G has watched R and I use the microwave to prepare our microwave popcorn many times. I just didn't realize how much he had learned...

In goes the sippy cup:

A quick door close,

a few buttons to push,

and voila, microwave action!

Needless to say, G was very, very proud of himself and I put the stool away for the day.

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A new SP ingredient

I've been wanting to try this for weeks and finally remembered to pick some up at the grocery store:
Basically pasty flour is a more finely ground whole wheat flour. It works well in pizza dough, and I used it in the muffins from yesterday. It still doesn't have as much gluten (what allows flour to work with yeast to make the dough airy and puffy) as white flour, so it is more "dense" in a bread or dough than white flour. However, it's just as nutritious as regular whole wheat dough, but looks more like white flour, which could be a bonus for those with kids that like things plain Jane white.

I give it two thumbs up,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nutty Crumb-y Banana Muffins

**The nuts are only in the topping, so omit the topping for your little little ones who can't have nuts, or the adults (like SPH) who just don't "do" nuts in things like this.**

For this recipe I took a couple different recipes, experimented with them, and lowered the fat and sugar content. Enjoy!

Nutty Crumb-y Banana Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
4 large ripe bananas, smashed
2 eggs beaten well
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla

Dry Ingredients:
1 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon

Topping Ingredients:
1 T butter
2 T ground flax seed or flour (the ground flax seed boosts the nutrition and gives it a good extra nutty taste)
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/3 c walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined (over-mixing will make the muffins tough). Pour into prepared muffin pans (either use papers or spray each muffin hole with cooking spray) until about 1/2 way full.

Optional: Mix topping ingredients (except walnuts) with the back of a fork, to incorporate the butter into the mixture. Blend until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand. Add walnuts and mix. Put about 1 T of mixture on top of each muffin.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

(That's R's finger reaching for his muffin, making sure I didn't take it )


Monday, September 22, 2008

A camera, a broken toe(?) and other fun stuff

Doesn't that look good? R and I made these yesterday. I will post the recipe tomorrow, it is my new recipe for Nutty Crumb-y Topped Banana Muffins. But really, look at that picture...head and shoulders over my old ones, n'est pas?

It was 2001 when SPH and I last bought a digital camera. At that time a 16 MB memory card was really rockin' and the dimenstions of 5 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide made it teeny tiny. I am loving the new camera we picked up this weekend and hope you will love the improved pictures as much as I do.

Oh, and I think I may have broken my toe.

I slammed, I mean, *really* slammed my toe with the pantry door Sunday morning trying to retrieve some items to make oatmeal for the boys. It smarted. A lot. I can still move it, but it kind of feels funky/numb-ly/weird when I do. I am going to give it a day or two and if still feels this way, perhaps I'll go see the doc. Anyone out there an orthapedic doctor?

The weather is cooler this week and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is here, my favorite time of the year to really get into the kitchen and get cooking.

Our meals for the week:
Chicken Poblano
Cashew Chicken, but made with tofu instead of chicken
Curry Shrimp, Mater Paneer and Brown Rice (using Trader Joe's Indian Packs and Marinade)
Chili, Fast or Slow
Pizza Bread, Spinach Salad and Fresh Pineapple

Have a sweet week,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Make It Better--Frijoles Refritos

Two things you should know about me upfront:

1. I was born in New Mexico and was raised, even in utero, on Mexican food. I *love* it.
2. I try to be humble.

That being said, I think this recipe is one of the best Frijoles Refritos (aka, refried beans) I have ever tasted. Recipes like this convince me that I could go vegetarian, if only it weren't for my undying love of bacon. :) I made these beans with some brown rice and Tomatillo Dip and we feasted like kings.

A couple reasons I developed this recipe--first, my boys *love* refried beans. Second, canned refried beans are pretty high in salt. Third, it came to me the other day...refried beans would be a very easy place to hide more vegetables.

This recipe uses dried pinto beans that you soak overnight. Why did I use dried beans? After reading Amy's Super Healthy Kids blog, I was inspired. If you aren't inspired to do so, canned work just as well.

No Can-Opener Needed Frijoles Refritos
2 t vegetable oil
1/2 c onion, minced
1 t garlic, minced
1 T jalepeno, minced (remove seeds if you don't want it too spicy)
1/2 of a roasted red pepper (about 1/3 cup)
1 tomato, diced
2/3 c dried pinto beans, soaked overnight (alternatively, use a 15oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cayenne
1/2 c - 1 c water

In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium high and add the onion and garlic. Cook 4-5 minutes or until the onion begins to get translucent. Add the jalepeno, roasted red pepper and tomato, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the pinto beans, spices and 1/2 c water. Cover and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the lid and let simmer while you mash the beans with the back of a big fork or spoon, potato masher or pastry blender (or, if you really want them "mashed," whip some up in your food processor).

**These beans only get better the longer you cook them...I made my last batch during the preparation of some other food. They simmered for about 20-30 minutes and needed additional water added. If you are mashing the beans and they seem too thick, add a bit more water.**

Sweet Eats,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cauliflower Au Gratin

With the extra time on my hands earlier this week, the boys and I spent some extra time in the kitchen. This is a quick and easy twist on potato gratin that is low carb, light and really tasty. I decided to wing it and loved it on the first try. Both the boys ate it up!

Cauliflower Au Gratin

1 large cauliflower head, cut into florets
4 oz light cream cheese
1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, diced
1/2 c skim milk
1 T cornstarch
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper
3 T grated parmesan
3 T panko or regular breadcrumbs

Steam the cauliflower in a large pot for about 5-6 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the cauliflower in an au gratin or 9x13 glass pan.

In a metal or glass bowl, mix the cheeses and milk. Place in the pot that has the water from steaming (sort of like a double boiler). Mix until the cheese melts and incorporates in the milk. Add the cornstarch (add a little bit of the warm milk/cheese mixture to it in a small bowl first to avoid lumps) and spices, and wisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Pour the cheese mixture over the top of the cauliflower.

Sprinkle top with parmesan and panko. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly brown on top.

(amazed at the beauty of this picture? Don't despair, a new camera is in the works...)


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike Remnants + Cold Front = A Big Mess

I was still nursing my wounded sports ego after the trouncing of the Buckeyes late Saturday when things got pretty windy here on Sunday.

Basically the remnants of Ike were passing to our west and unexpectedly hit a massive cold front from the east and created 70+ mph winds for hours on end. Basically, we had a Category 1 hurricane in Ohio. The strangest thing was that it was completely unpredicted...we were literally about to walk out the door to take the boys to the pool.

We were very, very fortunate. Check out some of the pictures from our neighborhood:

Monday morning the boys and I hopped in the bike/chariot to tour around the neighborhood. Trees uprooted, cars pinned under trees, and more branches than I could count. I know, I know, it isn't as bad here as it was in Texas, but again, this was totally unexpected and out of the blue.

More than 2 million people in Ohio lost their power...we were amazed that we never lost power...just our phone, cable and internet. Many of my friends and neighbors still do not have power.

I figure some good old fashioned comfort food is in order this week. Our menu:

Roasted Chicken, Green Beans with Almonds and Lightened Cauliflower Au Gratin (recipe tomorrow--it rocked!!)
Barbecue Chicken Pizza with a side of Broccoli
Pasta Carbonara
Turkey Burgers (California style--with avocado, red onion and yellow tomatoes), Oven Fries and "Fried" Okra
"Make it Better" Frijoles Refritos (recipe coming soon) and Rice with Tomatillo Sauce

Sweet Eats,

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Really cool...for a Trojan Fan

I have to share with you my second favorite (after SP&P, of course) "cooking/mom-of-two-boys" blog in the whole world.

It is long overdue that I share Rookie-cookie.com with you. Rookie's site makes mine look like, well, what it is...a thrown-together-do-whenever-I-have-a-free-second blog to help me keep my creative juices flowing. Whitney, where *do* you find the time to make yours so beautiful?

I've been enjoying getting to know Rookie through her posts and then realized this past week she is, gasp...a USC Trojan fan. In about 8 short hours my beloved Buckeyes take the field in a battle against the Trojans. While I am a Buckeye through and through, I am hoping we pull it out, since, well, if anyone knows what happened the last 2 National Championships, I have a right to be nervous.

In the meantime, you have to check out some of Rookie's posts--like her Fish Tacos. Can anyone say, "yum."

Go Bucks!

PS--If you wish to join me in my usual "big Buckeye pre-game" activity, I would highly recommend this recipe.

Friday, September 12, 2008

UFI Commercial Alert

A couple of you have emailed me/posted about the new pro-high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) commercials produced by the Corn Refiners Association (ie, producers of HFCS). If you want to check out the commercial:


And then to hear the other side of the story (thanks Whitney!):

Blogher Post

I think between growing public concern and the rising cost of corn, HFCS producers are trying to market something to Joe Consumer that, while made from natural (corn) materials, last time I checked, is found *no where* in nature. Let me know if you have seen HFCS-cane growing in the Caribbean or bee hives producing HFCS, but otherwise, I will stick with my sugar and honey.

I have yet to actually see these commercials. If I had seen it, I am afraid my blood pressure would have risen...deep breaths...I get so annoyed when less-than-healthy/natural food is marketed to us as such. Americans have enough food issues already without HFCS being promoted in commercials.

It makes me want to donate money to the broccoli association or mango farmers so they could more aggressively market *real* food.

Just my two cents,

PS--I know this commercial is being shown in Houston...anywhere else?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This Sweet Pea is tired...

Long day here=short blog post. Nothing traumatic/eventful...well, R and G's first day of school which went beautifully on all ends.

A quick food tip from a neighborhood friend who I bumped into at our local Wednesday afternoon farmer's market:

She takes fresh, really ripe raspberries on her peanut butter and jel, I mean raspberry sandwiches. Yummy. What a great way to get some *real* fruit and less sugar into little bellies. Thanks for the tip Ali!

Have a sweet night y'all,

PS-My digital camera (which was already on it's last leg) has gone and lost it's battery. Think we need a new one. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I have a new favorite drink that I must share. Here's the "recipe":

Ginger Lavender White Iced Tea

Heat 2 cups of water in a small sauce pan, add 1/4 c brown sugar (packed firm), and 2 teaspoons minced ginger. (I used my favorite go-to ginger) Heat to a simmer or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add two stems of lavender and 1/4 c white tea leaves -or- 8 tea bags. Steep 15 minutes and strain into a pitcher. Add 2 cups of ice and 4 cups of water. Drink up!

I used lavender because we have it in our garden...mint, basil, cilantro, even citrus could be used instead. White tea is "immature" (you know, it talks back to its parents, thinks it rules the world and is somewhat selfish) green tea...but any mild, unflavored tea will do.

I have to give Ellie Krieger a shout-out for this idea. I saw her make a type of similar tea on her show recently...

This tea reminds me a *lot* of one of my favorite Republic of Tea flavors:By the way, white tea has about half the caffeine of green tea, which generally speaking has half the caffeine of black tea.

***Sweet Pea tip: R loves tea. If you steep any tea for 1 minute, this removes more than 90% of the caffeine. So...whenever I make tea and R asks for some, I just use the leaves or bag from my tea to make his...lots of flavor, next to no caffeine.***


PS--I am sipping this tea as I type. Can you tell that I am smiling from the tone of my post?

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tropical Storm Cometh. Crab Dip Anyone?

The Sweet Peas are back, trying to re-enter our typical routine after a visit East that involved a speeding ticket (happily, not mine), boating, fishing, the beach, crab cakes (they just don't make 'em right this far from the Chesapeake Bay), a tropical storm, and tons of time in/on the water. Here are some pictures:
The picture of R&G was about 6 hours before Hanna really kicked up the ocean. Notice the waves to the left of G...this was nothing compared to the complete churning the ocean got with the full force of the storm. Seeing Hanna from this bird's eye view gave me a new respect for hurricanes. Amazing.

During Hanna's appearance at the beach, we decided to whip up some crab dip. I didn't have a recipe, but this is basically what I created. I am not sure if it was the fact that we were stuck inside and didn't have many other alternatives, but it sure did taste good to me!

Tropical Storm Crab Dip

8 0z crab meat (we used back fin)
8 oz cream cheese
2 T mayonnaise
1/4 c red onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
a few good shakes of Old Bay (probably about 1/4-1/2 t for all you measure-aholics out there)
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except the parmesan cheese. Put in an oven safe dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Bake 15 minute or so or until bubbly.


After all this fun in the sun (and some fun in the wind and rain), today has been a whirlwind of unpacking and all the chores that smack you in the face with the reality that vacation is really over. Our meals this week will rely heavily on the pantry, and whatever we can get out of the freezer.

Tomorrow R&G have orientation for school (G is doing a Mother's Morning Out on Wednesday AMs) and then Wednesday is the first day. Can I get a "woo hoo?"