Monday, June 30, 2008

Summertime Blogging

Some pictures from this past week:

G, enjoying a swing in the park

R, zooming his trike on his "race track" drawn on the back driveway

Our weekend consisted of not one, but two ill-timed trips for outdoor fun. On Saturday, we loaded up the boys to go to the pool and about 10 minutes into our dip, a thunderstorm blew into town. Sigh...back home we went, to pop popcorn and watch "Ratatouille." Yesterday our plan to go to the playground was also thrawted by rain.

All our rain has also dampened our Sweet Pea garden. Our cauliflower plant is looking downright sad and the zucchini, while prolific, has had a few more rotten vegetables than usual. But it was so fun to pull cilantro, jalepenos, zucchini (the non-rotten ones) and mint from our garden last night for our dinner.

Side note: thank you, thank you, thank you to Robin, Renee and Buffy for your recent kind words about the blog. You made my day.

Meals for the week (theme of the week, "It's all about easy")

Kashi Frozen Pizza, Salad
Veggie Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries
Recipe Free Pasta Salad
Grilled BBQ Chicken, Corn on the Cob and Summer Rolls
Red, White and Boom (night out with SPH's employer)


Saturday, June 28, 2008

FNB--Stacked Quesadillas

For dinner on Friday I meant to do chicken enchiladas, but I was short some tortillas. What's a mom to do? Improvise (the theme of the week, apparently):

Stacked, Baked Chicken Quesadillas

Mix together:
1-2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1-15oz can no-salt added corn
1-15oz can black beans
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin

6 whole wheat tortillas
2-7 oz cans of salsa verde
2 cups of grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour a couple tablespoons of the salsa verde on the bottom of a 9x13 pan and place 2 tortillas on top, slightly overlapping to cover. Cover with half of the chicken mixture, then half of the salsa verde and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly brown.

Another hit, easy peasy to do.

Have a sweet weekend,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not bad, eh?

Here's our version of the strawberry tart. R is addicted to blueberries, so the inner ring in a little shout out to him.

BTW, the recipe made gobs and gobs of the glaze, so if you are looking to make it, I think you could easily cut the glaze in half. We also cut the sugar in half in the cream cheese filling and I think it is perfectly sweet.
Oh, and here's a tip from our kitchen: want to make a "graham cracker crust" whole wheat? We used these instead of the grahams:
Really, I used them because at the last second I realized I didn't have the grahams. So I improvised...and it worked great.

Sweet eats,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Yesterday afternoon R and some friends from his preschool went strawberry picking. Oh, and they let the parents and siblings come along too...

We met up at Jacquemin Farms, where the owners told us, "feel free to sample the berries as you pick." G took this advice to heart, leaving a path of strawberry juice wherever he walked and touched.

There is just something about smelling fresh, warm, ripe berries in the air. The smell puts those heinous faux berry fresheners smell to shame.

With this sudden strawberry surplus we are making this incredible looking Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart:

(Photo Source: Cooking Light)

Yum. I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mess in the Oven?

Last night I put some sweet potatoes in the oven and they dripped their gunk on the bottom, causing a not-so-lovely burnt smell and odor to start competing with the perfect aroma of my home-cooked meal. I still needed to finish cooking and didn't want to try and clean a hot oven.

Does this ever happen to you?

Try this tip my mom taught me:

Pour salt to cover the burnt gunk (yes, this is the technical term) at the bottom of your oven. It will stop it from burning and you can continue cooking.

This is supposed to be a temporary solution, I suppose, but I can say from experience as long as the gunk is covered with salt, you can keep cooking and cooking and cooking for weeks, um, actually months this way.


Monday, June 23, 2008

New Week, New Summer Camp

Isn't summer supposed to be relaxing?

This week R started a new camp for an hour or so each morning. I was waiting during check-in with a mom who told me:

"How long do you think this is going to take? I have my oldest daughter at swim team right now. I have to get her (points to other daughter) to swim lessons in 15 minutes at the pool. Then I need to come back and get (son) a few minutes early so I can drop him off at swim lessons, then back to the other pool for swim team pick-up and then home to eat lunch before our afternoon activities."


I got tired and stressed out just listening to her. Whatever happened to playing at the pool or park or just in your own backyard?

Speaking of backyards, we plan to use our grill again this week for meals:

Grill-smoked whole chicken, oven fried okra, sweet potato fries
Chicken Salsa Verde Tacos
Grilled Pizza and Fennel/Grapefruit Salad
Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri and Roasted Zucchini


Saturday, June 21, 2008

What goes around...

When I was growing up, my cousin Jill was the closest thing I had to a younger sibling. Her mom and my mom were sisters, and we lived nearby, so we spent a lot of time together when we were very young.

I have a vivid memory of when Jill was perhaps 2, and my brother and I were coaxing her on a hot summer day to take the cantaloupe off her plate and put it down her shirt and in her hair. We thought it was hilarious; my mom, not so much.

Yesterday G and R were finishing a meal, which happened to include cantaloupe. I hear R saying coyly to G, "oh G, don't put your cantaloupe in your hair," in perfect reverse-psychology tone and intonation. Of course G dutifully began smashing cantaloupe in his hair to rave reviews of laughter:Mind you, his hair is usually straight...

Life is sweet,

Friday, June 20, 2008

FNB Five Spice BBQ Pork

Here's a tried and true recipe from the Sweet Pea files. I took a Cooking Light recipe and adapted it a bit to our tastes. We use it on pork tenderloin, but it works with pork loin and loin chops as well. The flavor is spot on and it is super easy to make!

Five Spice BBQ Pork Tenderloin (or loin or chops...)

2 - one pound pork tenderloins (basically, what comes in those pre-packaged pork tenderloin packs)

1 t five spice powder (an asian spice mix)
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground red pepper
1/4 t onion powder
1 T brown sugar

1 T molasses
3 T hoisin sauce
2 T orange juice
1 T toasted sesame oil

Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional)

Mix the rub and rub on your pork. You can either throw the pork tenderloin on a hot grill or pop it into an oven that is preheated to 425 degrees (if you are doing pork chops, use the grill and alter your cooking times). Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the pork has a good browning on the outside. Mix the sauce and baste the pork liberally and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 155-160 degrees. Let the pork rest for about 5-10 minutes, slice and serve.

We are making this tonight with our Napa Asian Slaw and a fruit salad.

Have a sweet weekend,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I need your two cents...

I mentioned it awhile ago briefly, but lunch has become a bit of a power struggle for young R and myself. It started when he was still going to Lunch Bunch one day a week at school, starting to just eat his snack part of the lunch (like the chips or pretzels) and not the sandwich or fruit. Not much I could do when he was at school, so I tried to just let it slide.

Now our challenge is he sometimes goes on a hunger strike at lunch. Won't eat it, and if I save it for afternoon snack time he still won't eat it so then he super hungry and ornery before dinner. Lately I have been telling him that he can tell me when he is hungry, and they giving him a "lunch time is almost over" warning. This works sometimes, but not always. I just don't want to get in the practice of him skipping lunch, only to snack up a storm instead.

So my questions are: A. Does this ever happen to you? B. Any good tricks up your sleeve?

I have cut out the morning snack so, in theory, he should be very hungry. I also give him a couple options from which to choose for lunch, not forcing one option on him.

I'm all ears,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Recipe Free Cucumber Salad

Our whole family loves fresh summer cucumbers. We're hoping our garden yields some fresh cukes this summer, but regardless, this is my new favorite way to dress up cucumbers for a meal.

This is so easy, you won't believe it.

Recipe Free Cucumber Salad

One cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
A few radishes, very thinly sliced
Optional: A few very slices of red onion or scallion, diced -OR- 1/2 or more of shelled edamame
1/2 cup or more of *seasoned* rice wine vinegar

Mix in a bowl and let least an hour or so, but they get better after a day.

So easy, and so tasty:
Give it a try. This is so easy, what do you have to lose? :)


Monday, June 16, 2008

Beach Recap

Indulge me for a moment and allow me to forget my life in the kitchen as the Sweet Pea Chef. After a relaxing and fun week at the beach, I feel so thankful for an opportunity to get away with the family and have some good time, just to the two of us, with SPH to celebrate our #8. Here are the highlights:

Once I recover from "re-entry," I will be back to the blogging as SPC. But for now...I've got some laundry to do!

We did manage a quick trip to the grocery yesterday, so I will be making this week:

Korean BBQ Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries and a Salad
Sloppy Joes with 3, 4, or 5 Bean Salad
Chinese Pork Tenderloin, Napa Asian Slaw and Fruit Salad
Grilled Fish, Charred Vegetable Salad
Our Garden Pasta Salad

Life is Sweet,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sweet Pea Chef Virtual Cookbook

***If you don't see the recipe you're looking for in the index, be sure to check out the "SEARCH THIS BLOG" feature on the right sidebar.  You can search by key ingredient (ie, "quinoa") to find any recipe that features it.***

Appetizers, Snacks and Drinks, Etc.
Apple Nachos
Applesauce, Slow Cooker Maple Cinnamon
Avocado Hummus
Baba Ganouj
Caramel Corn
Cashew Cream

Chocolate Pudding, Sweet Pea
Chimichurri Sauce
Cilantro Lime Honey Salad Dressing
Cilantro Sauce (for grilled meat, salads, etc)
Cowboy Caviar
Cranberry Salsa Rounds
Crab Dip, Tropical Storm
Easter Egg Dye
Edamame Caviar
Fondue, Easy Peasy Cheesy
Frosting, Naturally Orange Pumpkin
Fruit Salsa, Jill's
Ginger Lavender White Iced Tea
Goat Cheese and Tapenade Dip
Greek Seven Layer Dip
Green Tomato Chutney
Homemade Strawberry Lemonade Jam

Horseradish Sauce
Hot Ryes
Hummus, Even Better

Hummus, I’ll-Never-Buy-Grocery-Store-Hummus-Again
Jarred Soup Mix
Kale Chips
Mango Jicama Salsa
Marinade, Tequila Lime
Mole (rhymes with Ole!) Sauce
Hot Chocolate for a Crowd
Hot Chocolate, Snowy
Lemonade, Simply Sublime
Mediterranean Hummus and Feta Appetizer Pizza
Peanut Butter Energy Bars
Persian Fresh Herb Dip

Pesto, Fresh Basil and Walnu
Pickled Radishes
Pita Chips, Easy Peasy

Pizza Dough, Whole Wheat
(also try it for Pizza Bread)
Pizza Sauce, Sweet Pea

Playdoh, Jersey Baby's Homemade

Pops, Red, White and Blueberry
Homemade Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn Balls
Pumpkin Butter, Slow Cooker
Pumpkin Dip, Sweet Pea's
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Rainbow Fruit Snack

Ranch Mix, Homemade
Raw Bars

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Tomato Salsa
Skinny Dip
Soft Pretzels, Homemade
Strawberry Heart Fruit Snacks
Sunshine Salsa
Super Granola Bars
Sweet Potato Chips
Taco Mix, Go-to
Tomatillo Dip
Tortilla Chips
Wasabi Edamame Hummus
Watermelon Salsa

Breakfast Foods, Served All Day

200 South Street Inn Granola\
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal (Vegan)
Apple Pecan Flax Granola (Gluten Free)
Avocado Smoothie
Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Carrot Cake Pancakes (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
Cinnamon Apple Stuffed French Toast
Coffee Cakes, Individual Apple and Bacon
Egg Casserole, Baked Sandwiches
English Muffin Egg Pizza Breakfast Sandwiches
French Toast, Individual Peach
Gluten-Free Pancake Mix
Granola, Cinnamon Vanilla Overnight
Ham and Cheese Gratin, Lightened Easter Morning
Hash Brown Waffles
Harvest Muffins
Hello Sunshine! (Mango, Ginger, Clementine and...B...
Heart Muffins
Nutty Crumby Banana Muffins
Oatmeal, Flax and Apple Breakfast Cookies
Orange Cranberry Muffins
Pancakes, Homemade
Peach Raspberry Muffins (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
Pumpkin Muffins, Awesome
Pumpkin Spice Latte, er, Smoothie
Quiche, Football
Quick and Easy Breakfast Tacos
Quinoa Breakfast "Oatmeal"
Shamrock Shake Smoothie
Shrimp and Grits Bake 
Strawberry Coconut Breakfast Bites (Vegan and Glut...
Waffles, Whole Lotta Good Stuff
Whole-Grain Pancake Mix
Zucchini Muffins (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free)

Sides and Salads

Asian Pasta Salad, Super Veggie

Asian Quinoa
Asparagus with Balsamic, Roasted
Asparagus with Olive Oil and Sea Salt, Roasted

Asparagus Bruschetta Deconstructed Salad
Barbecued Baked Beans
Basil and Feta Corn on the Cob

Basil Succotash
Bean Salad, 3, 4 or 5
Black Bean and Corn Quinoa
Butternut Squash, Herb Roasted
Brussel Sprouts, Roasted  

Cantaloupe, Basil and Mint Salad
Caramelized Onion Quinoa
Cauliflower Au Gratin
Cauliflower, Mashed
Chickpea Salad, Herbed
Citrus and Fennel Salad
Collard Greens, Garlicky (Couve a Miniera...
Corn Salad
Cornbread (Gluten Free)
Corn Spoonbread, Lightened
Cranberry Sauce, Homemade
Cucumbers, Summer Marinated
Cucumber Salsa
Easy Italian Summer Vegetables
Fennel with Parmesan, Roasted
Fresh Coleslaw with Cucumber, Baby Corn and Mint
Fresh Sweet Pea and Potato Salad
Fried Okra
Fries, Grilled
Frijoles Refritos
Green Chili Rice
Greens, Simple (Kale, Collard, etc)
Indian Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas
Italian Bread Salad
Kale Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Latkes, Vegetable
Lemon Glazed Green Beans
Lemon Thyme Grilled Vegetables
Make-It-Your-Own Asian Noodle and Vegetable Salad

Marinated Green Bean and Red Onion Salad
Minted Sweet Peas
Mom's Elixir (Homemade Cold and Flu Relief)
Napa Asian Slaw
Oven Fries, Real Deal
Parmesan Grits
Perfect Oven Roasted Potatoes
Raw Vegetable Salad, Detox
Red Cabbage, Braised
Sesame Ginger Quinoa Summer Rolls
Sweet and Sour Carrot Salad
Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle, Vegan Scalloped
Sweet Potato and Chard Cakes
Sweet Potato and Squash Bake
Warm Cobb Salad
Simple Wild Rice with Rosemary and Cranberries

Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad

Yellow Beans
Zucchini, Bruschetta Stuffed
Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Roasted with Mint and Feta, Ann's
Zucchini Salad, No-Cook Greek

Lunch and Beyond

***School Lunchbox Ideas***
Chicken Salad, Lunch Bunch
Curried Chicken Salad
Egg White Salad with Chives
Fresh Lemon and Herb Tuna Salad
Greens and Ham Rolls
Lunchbox Mini-Meatloaves

Mini-Cornbread Taco Lunchbox Bites
Paninis, Two Ways
Peanut Butter Pizza
Pickles in a Blanket SandwichPizza Rolls (aka, my son does *not* like lunchbox sandwiches)
Poached Eggs and Avocado Sandwiches
Quinoa and Curried Chickpea Salad

Smoked Turkey, Cheese and Red Potato Salad
Taco Roll-ups
Thai Vegetarian Wrap, Rookie Cookie

Asian Tuna Noodles

Baked Penne, Make it your Own

BLT Pasta

Broccoli and Bowties

Broccoli and Bacon Ranch Pasta

Chicken Sausage, Peppadew and Feta Pasta
Darn Good Skillet Dinner (Pasta with Turkey Kielba...
Farmer's Market Pasta Salad
Garlicky Smashed Tomato and Arugula Spaghetti
Greek Orzo Salad
Heart Shaped Pasta
Home Run (Mediterranean) Pasta Salad
Italian Stuffed Shells
Lemon Caper Pasta
Lemony Orzo with Shrimp and Feta
Lightened Macaroni and Cheese
Pasta Carbonara
Pasta Jambalaya, Deconstructed
Pasta Pizza Pie
Spaghetti Lasagna
Tomato, Basil and Cheese Tortellini Salad
Winter Pumpkin Pasta
Zucchini Alfredo

Soups, Stews and One Dish Wonders
Baked Couscous
Barbecue Brunswick Stew, Slow Cooker
Black Bean Soup, Slow Cooker
Burrito Bowls
Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
Carolina Pork BBQ, Slow Cooker

Chicken and Orzo Soup, Perfectly Simple
Chicken and Pastry, Lightened
Chili, Fast or Slow
Corn Chowder, Simple Delicious Slow Cooker
Cream of _______ Soup (to replace the canned variety)

Chicken Taco Soup, Slow Cooker TGIF Fiesta
Creamy White Bean Soup
Enchilada Rotini
Gazpacho, Easy Garden
Golden Chili with Carmelized Onions and Sausage
Italian Bean and Artichoke Heart Slow Cooker Soup
Lentil Soup, Slow Cooker
Lightened Gumbo
Light Jambalaya
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli and Bacon
Oktoberfest Dinner
Peanutty Stirfry

Pizza Soup
Pork Tacos, Amazing Slow Cooker 
Posole, Quick Vegetarian Black Bean
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
Senate Bean Soup, Slow Cooker
Seven Bean Soup
Taco Kale Salad
Taco Lasagna with Cilantro Lime Cream Sauce
Thai Green Curry Noodle Soup (Slow Cook...
Tortellini Soup
Vegetarian Taco Soup
Watermelon Gazpacho
White Chili, Slow Cooker

Mains, Vegetarian

Baked Burritos
Best Barbecue Veggie Burgers

Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas
 Calzones, Popeye/Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Caramelized Onion Calzones
Chana Masala (Spiced Indian Chickpeas)

Cherry Tomato, Basil and Corn Pasta Salad
Chipotle Taquitos
Cilantro Lime Empanadas
Dried Beans (how to cook them in your slow cooker)
Falafel with Yogurt Tahini Sauce
Gnocchi with Zucchini and Roasted Peppers in a Goat Cheese Sauce
Greek Quinoa

Grilled Portabella Burgers
Grilled Tofu and Spinach Sesame Salad
Lemon Dill Couscous with Cashews
Layered Asian Salad
Layered Taco Salad
Mango Dal
Mater Paneer
Northstar Cafe Burgers
Pad Thai
Pizza Margherita
Rainbow Quinoa
Rice and Bean Salad
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Sesame Lime Noodles or Quinoa
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
Spring Risotto
Sweet Pea Pizza
Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Tofu and Veggie Stirfry
Vegetarian Enchiladas
Vegetarian Moussaka Pasta

Mains, Poultry and Meat

Balsamic Glazed Herb Chicken
Barbecue Chicken Meatloaf
Beef, Cremini Mushroom and Butternut Squash Stew
Cashew Chicken Stirfry
Chicken and Vegetable Tetrazzini
Chicken Paprikash, Slow Cooker
Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Poblano
Chicken Pot Pie, Slow Cooker (**Can also be made chicken-less)
Chicken Sausage and Sauerkrat, Slow Cooker
Chicken Tenders, Tender
Chicken Tikka Masala, Slow Cooker
Chinese New Year Lettuce Wraps
Citrus Glazed Chicken
Corned Beef, Slow Cooker
Five Spice BBQ Pork Tenderloin
Grilled Chicken Satay with a Coconut Peanut Sauce

Hanoi Pork
Hoison Marinated Pork
Honey Mustard "Fried" Chicken
Indian Roast Chicken
Meatloaf, Black Bean and Chicken
Mexicali Pie
Mexican Barbecue Grilled Chicken
Minestrone Stuffed Shells
Moo Shu Pork, Slow Cooker

Olive Olives and Chicken Enchiladas
Pastrami Style Pork Tenderloin
Pomegranate Braised Pork Shoulder
Pork Barbecue, Slow Cooker Carolina
Pork Loin with Apple and Sage (can be made in the slow cooker)
Quesadillas, Stacked and Baked Chicken
Roasted Chicken, Slow Cooker
Rosemary Chicken, Slow Cooker
Rosemary Lemon Chicken Burgers

Sesame Chicken and Broccoli with Orange Sauce
Sesame Ginger Chicken Burgers
Sloppy Joes, Lightened and Less-mess
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos
Stuffed Chicken Nuggets

Taqueria Asada Tacos
Turkey Burgers, Chipotle Cheddar

Mains, Seafood 

Asian Salmon Burgers
Bourbon Ginger Salmon
Caramel Shrimp Stirfry
Chili Lime Salmon
Chili Rubbed Maple Salmon

Easy Baked Coconut Shrimp
Grilled Fish, Really Good
Lemon Pepper Flounder
Mom's Oh-so-good Tilapia
Olive Bar Fish
Seafood Enchiladas
Seared Flounder with Blood Orange Drizzle

Seared Tuna Salad
Shrimp and Grits, Easy Carolina
Shrimp Ceviche
Southwest Grilled Shrimp with an Avocado Mash

Summer Rolls

Tilapia with Mango Salsa 

Berry Pavlova
Black Bean Brownies
Blueberry Ginger Crumble
Candied Orange Peel
Chocolate Chip Cookies, Short and Sweet
Chocolate Drizzled Salty Pretzel Caramels
Chocolate Mousse Dip (Dairy Free)
Chocolate Oat Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies
Chocolate Pudding, Sweet Pea
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (with a sweet heart topping)

Christmas Biscotti
Classic Summer Berry Crisp

Coconut Macaroons (Gluten-Free)
Coconut Pineapple Pops 
Coconut Pops (with a Patriotic Touch)
Dark Chocolate and Almond Butter Cups (ak...
Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Easy Chocolate S'Mores Cake, Slow Cooker
Gingerbread Dip
Halloween Candy Cheesecake
Honey Vanilla Cheesecake
Honey Almond Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)
Individual Chocolate Cake
Mini Kiss Meringues
Naturally Pretty in Pink Frosting

No-Bake Summer Cookies
Peanut Butter Flourless Cookies (Gluten and Diary Free)
Peanut Butter Kisses, The Best
Pecan Sandies
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Raspberry Granita
Red, White and Blue Watermelon Cake (Gluten-Free)
Simply Delicious Dessert (Strawberries with Chocolate Sauce)

Soft Sugar Cookies
Strawberry Pear Clafouti

Strawberry Pomegranate Sauce
Sweet Treat Pretzels
Tiramisu, Lightened
Vanilla Squash Custard
Yule Log Cake

"Top" Lists

8 Great Pumpkin Recipes
10 Real Food, Real Good Slow Cooker Recipes
Top 7 After-school or Afternoon Snacks
Top 7 Cold Weather Soups
Top 11 Recipes of 2011
Top 12 Healthy, Real-Food Recipes of 2012
Top Ten Turkey Leftovers Make-Overs
Top Seven Super No-Cook Suppers
Top Seven Super (Unfried) Seafood and Fish Recipes

Home Goods

Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Produce Wash 

Homemade Fruit Fly Trap
Homemade Laundry Detergent

Pantry Organizers

Removing Refrigerator and Freezer Smells

Seed Starts for Vegetable Plants

Seed Starts, Part 2 (how to "harden" seedlings before planting)

Silly Bands in the Kitchen

Starting Seeds Using a Coffee Filter
Tips to Maximize Your Garden Harvest Before the Fr...

Now get cookin'!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Playing along

Slacker Mama tagged me to do a meme on a few short questions. Since we are at the beach this week and the last thing I am thinking about is being in the kitchen, I figure this is a great (easy) post for Sweet Pea Beach Week (a much toned down version of the more widely known High School Graduation Beach Week).

Here are the rules: Answer all the questions. Tag people to do the same.

Not that you asked...

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

Working on Capitol Hill for a Congressman from South Carolina and living with two of my good friends from college in Alexandria, VA. SPH and I were dating. As an aside, you know how certain weird, random memories stand out in your mind for no apparent reason? I vividly remember visiting Columbia, South Carolina for a work trip and having to gas up before I returned the rental car to the airport. Cost for gas? 89 cents a gallon. No joke. (I can just hear me as a grandma someday, "Back in my day, you could fill your gas tank for 10 dollars. Yes, the whole tank!")

2. What are five things on your to-do list today?

Go to beach and take family photos. Eat some good beach food. Drink a beer. Read a book. Check the computer.

3. Snacks you enjoy?

Tortilla chips and guacamole, Cheetos, Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Ice Cream, Cheese and Crackers, and the list could go on and on and on

4. Places you've lived?

Clovis, NM
Las Vegas, NV
Phoenix, AZ
Korat, Thailand
Tackley, Oxfordshire, UK
Rocky River, OH
Springfield, OH
Arlington, VA
Alexandria, VA
London, UK
Columbus, OH

5. What are 5 things you would do if you were a billionaire?

Come up with an investment/savings/donation plan
Start donating
Buy a restaurant or wine bar
Plan a world vacation with my family and close friends
Buy a place in Tuscany or Provence

6. People you want to know more about?

I tag...

Living Life Wright
Songs in the Key of Kibi
Super Healthy Kids
Steph's Cafe
Fearless Chef


Monday, June 9, 2008

Recipe Freedom

We made it to the beach and G is napping, so I am typing on my laptop while I watch the surf from my in-law's balcony.

Life is good.

I was thinking recently how in the summer I tend to do a lot of recipe-free cooking. You know what I mean...lots of grilling, salads, pasta salads and sandwiches that don't really require anything fancy, just some imagination and a few ingredients.

What is your favorite summer recipe-free meal? Here's one of mine:

Cherry Tomato, Basil and Corn Pasta Salad

1/2 pound of pasta--we use rotini if it is a side dish, cheese tortellini for a main dish
a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
a handful of basil, chopped
half a package of frozen corn (or fresh off the cob if you have it)
olive oil
salt and pepper
shredded (not grated) parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta. While it is cooking, put everything but the parmesan in a bowl. Mix the pasta in when it is done, and then let cool a bit. Mix in parmesan cheese. Yum. Perfect for an easy meal or taking to the pool for a dinner al fresco.

I am off to the beach...

Purging the "-est" words

When R was born, there were a lot of "-est" words floating around in my head.

"He's the sweetest child," "Isn't he the cutest baby in the world?" and "You have the greatest smile," were all typical thoughts in my head and things I would say to R.

As a parent, I had been pre-programmed to secretly know, though I never would say it outside our immediate family circle, that our child is the cutest/smartest/sweetest child on earth.

So then along comes G and I find myself repeating the above refrain. Herein lies the problem: I have two of the same gender so I can't use the convenient escape hatch my parents used with my bother and I of saying we were both their favorites, he, their favorite boy, and I, their favorite girl.

I think I have this "-est" problem nipped in the bud, but I do still have my moments. I mean, when G is almost asleep and I put him in the crib and he smiles back at me, I can't help but say, "you are the sweetest..." Am I the only one that struggles with this?

Meals for the week:

The Sweet Peas are on vacation at the beach this week! I will post when I am back at the condo during G's naps, but I am officially on vacation from the kitchen. Hey, even a die-hard foodie needs a break now and then too, right?


Saturday, June 7, 2008

UFI--Food Dyes

A quick post on an article I read this week. The FDA has been urged to ban 8 different food dyes because of a possible link to ADHD and other behavior issues. If you go to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's website, you can read the whole press release.

Since we aim to eat only 100% natural foods in the Sweet Pea house, I really try to avoid food dyes like the plague. I make exceptions for Christmas cookies and other special occasions like birthday cakes, but otherwise, why would you need them?


Friday, June 6, 2008

FNB--Turkey Burgers

We love turkey burgers. We eat different types all the time, but this is my tried-and-true-go-to turkey burger recipe. The best thing? They are super yummy, super healthful and you cannot tell that there are beans in them! The whole Sweet Pea crew are big fans of this turkey burger rendition.

If you can't find ground chipotle pepper, you can order it from Penzey's or just substitute regular chili powder.

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Burgers
1 pound of ground turkey
1 cup of Great Northern beans
1/2 c of panko or regular breadcrumbs
1/4 c BBQ sauce
1/2 t ground chipotle pepper
1/2 c of sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small 1/4 inch diced squares

Place the beans in a microwave safe dish and cook for one minute. With a fork, mash the beans until they are almost smooth (microwaving makes them softer=easier to mash). In a bowl, combine the turkey, beans, panko, BBQ sauce, and chipotle. Mix very well. If the mixture seems to "wet," add a bit more panko (some BBQ sauce is more liquid-y than want the mixture to be firm enough to stay together on the grill) until a typical burger consistency is reached.

Once mixed, gently add the cheddar cubes, and form into patties. When forming the patties, try to get most of the cheddar inside the burger, but don't sweat it if some is on the outside. Pop the burgers into the fridge or even freezer for about 10 minutes to help them firm up before grilling. Grill and serve.

Sweet Eats,

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sweet Pea's pumpkin update #2

The boys and I planted pumpkin seeds earlier this spring. Once I transplanted them from the pot to the garden, they turned all yellow and looked like they were goners for sure. But I am happy to report with a little of this:
and lots of sun and rain, the plants are looking pretty good:I am not sure if you can tell, but in the top right, we even have a pumpkin blossom. Woo hoo!

If you are interested in organic gardening you have to check out Espoma Natural Gardening Solutions. A lot of their products, like Plant-tone and Garden-tone are available at big home improvement stores. I highly recommend them!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mamma Mia!

As R trends more to the picky side of the food eating spectrum, despite employing all my efforts (I think it is more about power struggles, but more on that later), I found myself wanting a veggie-heavy pizza sauce to use on our homemade pizza. We have homemade pizza at least a couple times a month, if not more, so I wanted to advantage of the opportunity to sneak in some more vegetables.

I started with two red/orange vegetables: carrots and red peppers. Why? Three reasons: 1. they are both super healthy and full of antioxidants, 2. their color and taste makes them a good blend with tomato sauce, and 3. R doesn't eat either very often on their own.

This sauce is jam packed with nutrients and is just as tasty as a traditional pizza sauce. It is a bit more red-orange than just red, but the taste is spot-on. Not only is it tasty, it is super easy and can be made ahead.

Sweet Pea Pizza Sauce

4 plum tomatoes
1/2 red pepper
1 c of shredded or sliced carrot
2 t olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 t salt
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
2 T fresh basil

In a large fry pan, place the whole tomatoes and 1/2 red pepper, skin side down. Cook until the tomatoes and red pepper blacken, turning as necessary. Remove the tomatoes and pepper to cool. Once cool, peel (the skin should come off easily if blackened) all the vegetables and set aside.

Place the carrots in a microwave safe dish and add a few tablespoons of water. Microwave for 3 minutes to steam.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in the pan you used for the tomatoes and peppers. Add the onion and garlic, cook 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots, salt, tomatoes, peppers, tomato sauce and basil. Cook for 1-2 minutes, remove from heat.

Pop the entire mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Hope your pumpkins love this as much as we did,