Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chili Lime Salmon (or Tilapia, Grouper, Flounder, etc)

Looking for uber-healthy fast food? This dish can go from refrigerator to table in less than 15 minutes flat. Fish is good like that.

Before I learned how to cook fish from my darling SPH, I would often read a seafood recipe for a specific type of fish and if I couldn't find that particular type of fish, I would abandon my hope to cook said recipe.

I've now learned from others that many types of fish are interchangeable in simple seafood recipes. Want proof? Consider a restaurant chain like Bonefish Grill, that gives you seemingly infinite options to combine different fish with their preparation techniques.

We've used this recipe for flounder and salmon. And while our family enjoys salmon, the bold flavors of this recipe can help tone down the strong salmon flavors if you aren't a huge salmon aficionado.

Chili Lime Salmon*

2 - 8 ounce salmon filets
zest and juice of one lime
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Rinse and pat dry the salmon filets. Place skin side down on the foil-lined baking sheet.

In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Rub on the top of the salmon. Let sit for 5 minutes to let the flavor soak in a short bit.

Place under the broiler. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish, but for salmon, about 5-7 minutes is about right.

Serves 4.

Even R and G ate up what we deemed "taco salmon," a marketing angle, since the boys adore tacos. It worked!


*or whatever fish you care to use, just alter the broiling time so the fish doesn't overcook.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Miniature Smiley Face Pizzas

This morning I shared a fun idea for making customized, healthful pizzas on Good Day Columbus, an idea generated by cooking in the classroom of my older son. Using whole wheat English Muffins, your own children can get creative while helping make their own pizza.

Pizza is not generally one of the first things you consider when you hear "healthy eating," but through some simple changes, pizza can become more healthful. First, replace the white dough with whole wheat, which adds fiber and nutrition.

Next, you can either make some Sweet Pea Pizza Sauce, which is chuck full of loads of vegetables, or simply use a jarred Marinara Sauce. Both will give the pizza a foundation full of vegetables, and by using an English Muffin, you can really pour on a good amount of sauce.

For toppings, replacing the heavy amount of full-fat cheese with a more modest sprinkle of skim mozzarella decreases fat and calories without sacrificing flavor. On top of the cheese, choose vegetable and lean protein options to allow kids to create smiley face, or alien, monster or other creative faces.

Once you've topped your pizzas, pop them under an oven broiler or toaster oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese fully melts. It's fun. It's easy. It's fast. It's healthy. Sounds like a winner to me!

Thanks GDC for inviting me back,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Indian Roast Chicken

To my friends who are looking for a new twist on a classic recipe, this recipe has got your number.

Roasting a chicken is simple, but can sometimes border on plain. With this easy Indian inspired spice rub, your taste buds will awaken and say, "whoa, this is *delicious*."

Why Indian? Because it tastes good. Real good. And I wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to incorporate some of these great flavors in every day dishes. As an added bonus, Indian food boasts some of the most healthful spices on earth.

Indian Roast Chicken

1--4 to 5 pound chicken
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare the chicken: remove any innards (usually bagged, so you don't have to touch them) and rinse the bird. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (garam masala through sugar) and mix well. Spread the rub all over the outside of the chicken, and a bit under the skin, if able, without ripping the skin.

Place any remaining rub inside the chicken.

Put the chicken inside the oven. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees inside the chicken (do not touch a bone while measuring the temperature).

Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve with sides. May I suggest?

Serves 6-8.

A sweet way to jazz up a simple chicken-

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Warm Cobb Salad

After our 70s weather yesterday, we're hovering in the high 40s early this morning. We live in Ohio after all, which boasts the following official weather motto: "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change."

Keeping this in mind, and knowing that Ohio is far from the only state in the Union that features changing weather, this salad is custom made for a March or April dinner.

I came up with this idea for a warm Cobb Salad after SPH had been requesting one in February but made the statement, "this isn't exactly salad weather." It features a yummy warm dressing and as with so many of my favorite family recipes, it can be altered to suit all sorts of kids' tastes.

G loves, loves a good salad, and is happy munching away on anything with greens. R? Not so much. So I lower the amount of salad greens, and up the vegetables he likes, along with the hard boiled egg and cheese I know he loves.

Warm Cobb Salad

Warm Dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cups shredded red cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 cups Bibb or Boston lettuce
1 cup shredded carrots
2 tomatoes, diced
8 hard boiled eggs
4 slices bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
diced turkey or chicken (optional)
other options: cheddar cheese, sliced cucumbers, sliced peppers, croutons

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook 4-5 minutes or until the onions begin to wilt. Add the vinegar and mustard, stir well. Add the cabbage, salt and pepper. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, or until the cabbage wilts. Keep the mixture covered and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, arrange the greens and other salad components amongst 4-6 servings. Top with 1/2 cup of the cabbage mixture* and toss.

Serves 4-6.

*Cabbage for a salad dressing? The oil, vinegar and mustard are the real "dressing" of this salad, but the cabbage serves as a great vehicle to get the dressing on the salad. The cabbage becomes almost sweet as it braises in the dressing components. Really.


Sunday, March 20, 2011


Can I tell you how very excited I am for spring to be here? Growing up and now living again in Ohio, I am not adverse to winter, but this spring seems especially sweet.

SPH's mom is here visiting for a long weekend, so we've spent plenty of fun time outside in our warmer weather. As I type the thermometer outside the window is just shy of 70 and just this morning R, G and I put the screens back into the windows.

More than anything, I love the feel of fresh air coming inside. The window above the kitchen sink has its screen, and I much prefer doing dishes with the aid of some spring breezes than with the window closed.

My desk area is in our kitchen and this is what I am seeing as I type:

(Imagine the window panel blowing in the gentle wind, and then you have the full idea)

Our meals for this first week of Spring:

Grilled Seafood and Tomato-Caper Pasta
Taquiera Asada Tacos and Mango Jicama Salsa
Barbecue Chicken Meatloaf, Guacamole and Oven Roasted Potatoes
Tortellini Soup
Cassoulet (one last trial run before I share the recipe)

The Meatloaf, Soup and Cassoulet are for later in the week, since, (sniff, sniff) the weather will have another cold spell come week's end. But for now, I'm off to enjoy this warm spell, outside!

Spring is Sweet,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What better excuse?

Happy St. Patrick's, er "Perfect Excuse to Eat Green Foods" Day!

What better reason than celebrating today for your kid's to eat green?

The photo above is from this morning's breakfast. Tonight, we will have Thai Green Curry, with tons of green vegetables. A far cry from how I used to celebrate this holiday in my pre-kids days, but celebratory in its own way nonetheless.

Today is also the start of March Madness. We're doing family brackets again this year, a way to practice printing disguised as fun. The winner gets to choose where the whole family goes out for a victory dinner.

R and G diligently worked on their brackets over the last few days. Last year R won our contest, so if you're looking for any help, here you go:

Life is sweet,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Stuffed French Toast

It never ceases to amaze me how often as a mom I am interrupted. Often it is something small, like an interruption from one of the boys while I am talking on the phone. But sometimes it is a bigger deal, like last week when R decided to catch strep for the first time and instead of my week going as planned, I was reduced to a weary mom who resorted to lots of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-tired-pants meals.

In other words, there will be no "Monday Meals" list of recipes for the week since I completely abandoned last week's meal plans in lieu of surviving the week with my sanity intact. So with the meals already shared that I'll be making *this* week, how 'bout a new recipe instead of my traditional meal plan post?

Ok? Great.

This recipe is a Sweet Pea creation I whipped up a couple weekends ago. I love stuffed French Toast, but I wanted to see if I could make little individual stuffed French Toasts that were healthful. We loved the result.

For this recipe, it is crucial to get firm, preferably "oldish" (yes, that is a technical term) bread. If you use light and fluffy bread, it will sort of just disintegrate when you try and soak it in the egg and milk wash.

Cinnamon Apple Stuffed French Toasts

3-4 medium Gala apples, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
8 slices firm bread, crusts removed
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
dash of salt
cooking spray or vegetable oil

Peel and seed the apples:

Mix the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon and brown sugar in a microwave safe dish. Add 1/4 cup water and cook for 2 minutes. Stir. Cook an additional minute, or until the apples are very tender. Set aside.

In a shallow dish, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger and salt (if using).

Preheat a skillet to medium heat and coat with a bit of cooking spray or oil.

Take one piece of bread, place two tablespoons of the cooked apples, and cover with a second piece of bread. With a fork, crimp the edges of the bread together slightly.

Gently place the bread into the egg wash, and carefully flip, then place in the pan. Cook 3-4 minutes, flip, repeat.

Repeat with additional bread.

Serve with additional apples on top of each stuffed French Toast.

Serves 4.

Have a sweet week,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chips on Fish

My friend Nicole emailed me with a request for a healthy version of Fish 'n Chips for the Lenten Season.

Nicole, ask and you shall receive:

I posted this Sweet Pea original recipe for a healthy version of Fish Sticks on a couple of years ago. It remains an easy way to prepare fish that both my boys are guaranteed to eat. The step-by-step instructions are on the link, but basically you coat fish with crushed tortilla chips and Os cereal:

And then bake them until golden and delicious.

And for the chips? We love this Sweet Peas and Pumpkins recipe for Oven Fries. They are a cinch to make and so super crunchy and tasty, you'll hardly miss the fried version.

Nicole, let me know what you and your family think!

Sweet Eats,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Meg Hogan Photography

My kitchen is many things to me: a creative workshop, a utilitarian provider of sustenance, a place of happy memories, a family gathering place and a source of endless meals.

An artist studio, it is not. Or so I thought.

Meg Hogan of Meg Hogan Photography kindly offered up her talents to create a new head shot for this blog and my space at

(photo by Meg Hogan Photography)

Thanks Meg for some really fantastic photos. You turned the simple act of kitchen tasks into some awesome images!


Monday, March 7, 2011

A watched pot

A watched pot may never boil, but, note to self:

if you are waiting for some onions to cook before you finish the rest of a recipe, you may want to watch your pot and your curious 4 year old.

I've taught G several times about kitchen safety, so I am glad he exercised caution whilst "helping." But you can tell he has been told not to work on the stove top without mommy's help by the look in the second picture:

That's right G, caught you red-handed. In this case, I'm very grateful his hands weren't literally red as a result of his "helping." I better keep a closer eye on this one.

R's home sick today with a fever and strep. I've been up the last couple of nights with him and as such, I am dragging a bit myself, so I've decided to take it easy and do some easy meals this week:

Tomato, Olive and Feta Pasta (inspired by my friend Jennifer B's recipe)
Asian Salmon Burgers, Sweet Potatoes and Soy Green Beans
Slow Cooker Jambalaya (for Mardi Gras, of course!)
Slow Cooker Italian Bean and Artichoke Soup
Indian Veggie Burgers (from Trader Joe's), Indian sides
Mama Mimi's Pizza Night--sometimes even the most ardent pizza maker needs a night off!

Have a sweet week-

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Forth and _____

I love how "March 4th" sounds when you say it. Say it now out loud with me:

March 4th.

But now think of it a different way, as in an inspiring command, "march forth!" I read somewhere years ago that a family celebrated each March 4th with their idea of how to march forth in some area.

So I challenge you this March 4th (or even if you are reading it on the 5th, 6th, or heck, in April), to think of something that you've wanted to tackle or try and get it on your calendar. Maybe even try a new recipe or food in your kitchen. Need an idea? I just happen to have one:

For years homemade bread has been a huge stumbling block. I've tried and tried with limited success. But recently, I've tried a new technique and instead of dry, heavy bread, I've had heavenly results:

I owe this all to my friend Camille. Camille is not only a master in the kitchen, but she also humbly and generously shares her knowledge and garden bounty (yes, she has a wonderful garden too, which boasts a mini-orchard too!).

Months ago Camille mentioned a book and method of baking bread, called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I finally decided to march forth and try my hand at this bread making method. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I whipped up a batch of dough and figured I didn't have a lot to lose.

The result? SPH said "you could sell this at any bakery in town."

I decided to pick up the authors' follow-up book:

The whole wheat bread is just as tasty and super-healthy, great for sandwiches and to accompany a dinner.

So I shared my recent "march forth!" experiment...time to get crackin' on your own idea. Feel free to share and perhaps inspire others, just like my friend Camille.

Have a sweet weekend,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Honey Almond Cake

Here's the thing when you have a big week and a big surprise like I did last week: where do you go from there? I mean, it's pretty hard to share a recipe that will even come close to garnering the same sort of reaction as my Friday post. But try I must, so here's the latest thing I've created in my kitchen. It is a dessert, so that is bound to garner a little excitement, right?

Early in February we gathered my extended family together and celebrated two birthdays. Anytime you have a large family party, there are bound to be dietary restrictions, but this one had the following:

Gluten Free
Dairy Free
No Refined Sugars
No Artificial Anything

I love a good challenge so I started brainstorming. My first thought was to make my Chocolate Flourless Cake, but this recipe has sugar (strike one) and butter (dairy--strike two).

Back to the drawing board...

I started googling ideas and came across an idea at one of my favorite food magazine websites, a recipe Flourless Honey Almond Cake.

Excited, I made a few tweaks and whipped up the honey cake. It was delicious! The perfect (fairly) healthy dairy and gluten-free dessert.

Honey Almond Cake (based on a recipe from Eating Well magazine)

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds, plus more for sprinkling on top
4 eggs at room-temperature, separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided use
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour (use GF flour or cornstarch) a springform pan, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper, being sure to grease the paper too.

In a food processor, process the almonds until they resemble the consistency of sand.

In a mixer, mix the egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Add the almond meal until well combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the whites until white and foamy, but not too stiff, about 2 minutes.

Using a spatula, gently fold (bring the bottom of the contents of the bowl up and over to the top with the spatula) the egg whites into the almond mixture:

Once the mixture is fully combined, pour into the springform pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes or so, then run a butter knife around the edge to loosen, and then release the side of your pan.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of honey in the microwave for 20 seconds. With a pastry brush, brush the top and sprinkle with more slivered almonds, if desired.

Serves 12

Life is sweet,