I've gotten so sick of my usual recipes and cookbooks, that I finally went back to my cookbook shelf and took out one of my old weight watcher's book of recipes. I didn't use them for a long time because so many of the recipes called for ingredients I had to buy special for them (esp if they were Thai) and tons of red and green peppers for filler.

I was surprised when I looked through the Take-Out book. There were a few recipes there that sounded good, didn't require tons of bell peppers in them, and I'm, if not exactly inspired, at least I'm motivated to try them out.

Two nights ago I made some sort of "Greek" casserole that had beef in the middle and spaghetti on the bottom and top layers. Not a lasgana, but I may use the spaghetti idea instead of the traditional lasagna noodles. The inclusion of cinnamon into the meat, and another spice that's not typically Italian, is what made it nominally Greek. That, plus the white sauce that used three eggs, 2% milk, and corn starch as a thickener. Plus Parmesan. Hey, it came out pretty good, and WOW, was it FILLING!

I adapted their chicken based chili to be vegetarian (mushrooms instead, thanks South Beach Diet) and added canned corn with chipotle chilis in the can to the mix. Everything else is the same, except for the onions, which Tall Boy doesn't like.

I *would* like to go meatless, but I think that's going to be a gradual process, what with a carnivore husband and me, and the kids. The best I can do right now is try and buy meat from animals that have been raised humanely, and that's not easy to do, to find out. I'm not even sure where to look to find out about farm conditions, or where the stores get their stuff.

Ah well. THe chili looks YUMMY, and I have some shredded cheddar waiting to go on top.

I'm going to try and do a combo of the South Beach Diet and the Clean Eating Diet--both have a no processed carb basis, and they both actually have a lot in common. Yeah. Okay, gotta go pick Mermaid up from her boyfriend's house.

Boyfriend. Holy crap. She has a BOYFRIEND. She's FOURTEEN (almost 15).

Tall Boy was after me for days (and periodically before that!) to make some pumpkin bread/cake with him or for him. Last year, his class made it together, and he was HOOKED on the stuff. He doesn't really like the pumpkin bread from Trader Joes (I LOVE the cranberries).

Here's the recipe we made last night:

(off of Allrecipes.com, recipe submitted by Shirley Sober)

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 cups sugar
3 eggs (we used large)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
 16 oz can of pumpkin puree (we used a can of pumpkin already flavored for pie)
Spices: 1.5 tsps ground cinnamon
1.5 tsps ground cloves
1.5 tsps ground nutmeg
We didn't add the spices because it was already in the puree

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, and mix well.
Combine the dry ingredients, stir into the butter/sugar/egg mixture until moistened (as if you were making muffins)
Stir in the pumpkin puree.
Pour into two greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.
Bake at 350F for ~1 hour until bread tests done.

Okay, we don't have pans to those measurements, so I bought foil pans at Target that are 8x4x3, and ended up using three of them.
I baked the bread for 50 minutes at 350 in our small oven since our large one is still broken. The outside crust was deeply browned, but WHOA! You know what happened? Because of all the sugar in this recipe, the crust *carmelized* and was actually sweeter than the bread itself.

Make sure the butter is well-integrated into the sugar. I used a hand mixer, but it didn't shred the butter up as small as it could have, and so there are weird buttery sections of the bread. It's not too bad, although Mermaid did get a piece which "tasted weird" and she didn't like it; but the next piece she had was much better.

And that's it! Very simple recipe, doesn't use ANY oils, which is good....I wonder if you can substitute some of the butter with apple sauce, though.


Bimey, I've got to make dinner. It's my special, ultra-simple lasagna, gleaned from two different recipes. Brown and season the meat (if that's what you're using). Add in onions, if you want. (I won't be because Tall Boy asked this time if I could leave it out). When the pound of meat cools enough, mix it with garlic and 2 cups of Ricotta cheese. That's right. Add some parmesan cheese to the mixture if you want, or layer it on as you make the lasagna. Get out your dry cook-as-you-cook-the-lasagna noodles and one to two bottles of spagetti sauce. I usually choose extra garlicy sauces. Layer as much as you want, making sure to leave enough sauce for the top layer.  Cover the square pan (I use a glassware thing) with foil to the lasagna doesn't dry out. Bake it for about half an hour with the foil on. Remove the foil, add some cheese to the top, and bake without the foil for about 10-15 minutes so that it's nice and brown on top. Let it sit for five minutes or so.
And OMG, my dog is leaking gas and I'm going to have to leave the den before I gakk out and die from the smell and lack of oxygen. I'm afraid to light a match in here. I'm afraid the house would go up in flames.
Well, the vegetarian chili I made last night from a recipe in the South Beach Diet Supercharged book was a massive Fail.  Even I couldn't finish the two cups I spooned out into my bowl. It lacked flavor, the texture just wasn't...there. I think I should have chopped the mushrooms up even further than the big slices they came in. Maybe I was supposed to add in cayenne pepper and didn't see it on the page?

To make a bad chili worse, because we ran out of Goldy's wet dog food, which I mix with his dry or he won't eat it (yes, I spoil him a bit), I mixed some of the chili in with his dry food. Unfortunately, it wasn't until he looked *really unhappy* and uncomfortable that I remembered that onions are NOT GOOD for dogs. There were plenty of onions in the chili. And beans. And garlic is considered deadly for dogs, too. Mushrooms, a main part of the chili--aren't good either.  Poor dog had massive, RIPPING gas about half an hour after he ate. He was panting and clearly not feeling well. Fortunately he seems better today, but I'm keeping an eye out on him. He's "seeping" at the moment.

Neither of the kids tried it, either. I don't understand. Last time I made it, it came out pretty good.
Tall Boy kept mentioning how much he liked the chili I made last time, who knows how long ago. It's been a while. And since he's not exactly picky, but has definite ideas of what he thinks he'll like and not like, I jumped on the chance ot make something that isn't pizza, or burgers, or hot dogs (you know: traditional fattening American summer fare, because I've been lazy as shit this season about cooking).

So, off to Trader Joes for the ingredients. I didn't have any frozen ground meat on the premises.

Ingredients (winging it):

1 lb, give or take, of ground grass-fed, organic beef. It could have been ground turkey, or pork, or even mushrooms. This part doesn't matter too much, except that it's important to me that he gets his protein.

2 cans of roasted chopped up tomatoes.

1 can of rinsed black beans (had that already)

Cayenne pepper

Chili pepper

Roasted minced garlic

Powdered garlic

Cinnamon. That's right. Cinnamon powder.

I would have added a sweet onion we had hanging around, but frankly, I wasn't up to the acids making me cry while I chopped it up.

Chili is simple.
  1. You brown the meat/mushrooms/what have you in a pan. Add some chili powder and cayenne pepper and garlic to the mix.
  2. Meanwhile, dump the tomato into the crockpot.
  3. Rinse the beans, dump those in, too. Mix it up with a spoon.
  4. Add some minced garlic, maybe some powdered stuff. Just don't add *too* much of the stuff, or you will overwhelm all the other flavors in the chili.
  5. When the meat/protein/mushrooms etc is all browned up, dump THAT in, too.
  6. Add some cayenne and chili pepper powder in to taste while you're at it with the garlic.
  7. Add the cinnamon, too. Yes. It adds a certain sweet flavor and kick to the chili that'll leave your family wondering why it tastes so good and yet, is a little different from the usual run of chili. Heh heh. Let them wonder.
  8. Mix it up with a spoon, and set your crock pot to High, and leave it alone for at least two or three hours.
I also cooked up some rice, topped off each bowl of chili with cheddar cheese and a dollop of low-fat sour cream (could have been Greek yogurt, but that's too sweetish and besides, that's one of the items I had in the fridge).

Now, if I had scallions, I would have added those after the cooking was done, for an added flavor and for some green.

The chili received high marks from everyone in the family, and there was none left at the end of the evening.  Yay for chilli!


May. 30th, 2010 11:27 am
I haven't written about food/recipes in a while. I know, I know.

This is simple knowledge, you can find it everywhere, but yes, it DOES help to write out a menu for the week. I tried it both way in the past couple of months. I have to say that NOT writing it out leads to evening frustration, bad planning (der), not-great or healthy meals (if you don't have the ingrediants available for a good meal) etc etc etc, all the reasons you'll find on frugal websites and cooking websites.

This week, I went back to the planning. I sort of stuck with it. There were a couple nights when I simply wasn't in the mood to do any cooking, what with all the driving on those particular days. On those days, I went to the store and picked up frozen pizzas, or made pasta with tomato sauce. That's an old standbye I remember my father relying on whenever we kids visited him on the weekends.

The biggest surprise hits this week were from the South Beach Diet Super Charged book (the large paperback with the silver foiled cover). Keep in mind I've made these recipes before, and although they were received enthusiastically from the adults in the family, the kids were less than happy about them. But THIS time, both kids were very happy. Kids. It's been about a year, so their tastes may have changed.

So: Two Bean Chili Con Carne on page 293
I picked this one because hey, it uses cans of beans, some spices which I already had, an onion, two cans of diced tomatoes, one 8oz can of tomato sauce, some tomato paste (oops, look like I wasn't supposed to use the entire tiny can; I was supposed to use only 1 tblspn!), and that's about it, I think. Oh yes. For added color and crunch, one chopped up green pepper. And I used Bison meat. Very lean. Next time I may go vegetarian with meat flavored soy product, but the protein is necessary for growing kids.

It's simple as hell to mix this one up, and while it was being prepared, both kids, but particularly picky Tall Boy, asked what that awesome smell emanting from the kitchen was. Not on those words, exactly. But it did smell good enough to amp up the anticipation for dinner. Tall Boy ate some-not as much as I thought he would, but I think he'd pigged out on snack food beforehand. Either way, the next day, he wolfed down about a cup and half of the chili.

Next: Homestyle Turkey Meatloaf with Mushrooms and White Beans, on page 212
The name of the dish is self-explanatory. The last time I made it, I froze some left-overs that I ended up tossing some months later. It had a decent response from the family as a whole, and a WTFoo response from Tall Boy, who at the time was Little Guy. THIS time, however, instead of forming the loaf into a...loaf...that would take an hour and 15 minutes to cook (see, the crew was getting hungry), I popped lumps of the stuff into a cupcake tray--you know, the kind that bakes 12 cup cakes at a time?  As I sauteed the first stage of the loaf in a pan--that would be onion, garlic, some spices and mushrooms (to replace carb-loaded bread crumbs) again, Tall Boy asked what was cooking, because it smelled GOOD! The cupcake pan reduced the time from 1.25 hours to about 30 minutes.

And I think the "format" of the meat loaf made ALL the difference. The kids were both intrigued that I would make it that way, and as a bonus, because it wasn't overwhelming in size, Tall Boy ended up chowing down on two of the turkey-loaf cupcakes. The white beans didn't gross him out, thank heavens. He actually like them, and didn't pick them out.  As a bonus, the Guy ended up fetching the remaining three out of the freezer and chowing down on them later in the evening. And since the Guy has this thing about being served a meal that has more than one item on the plate, I was saved by a bag of Trader Joe's garlic-parmesan seasoned french fries. They were really good. Unfortunately, I had run out of broccolli, our stand-by frozen vegetable. Ah well. No complaints there, anyway. There were beans in the turkeyloaf, so, that made up for it.

I'm definitely getting higher marks when I cook up dinners from "scratch" (ie, partly out of basic canned ingrediants and other fresher ones). Now all I have to do is figure out how to get Tall Boy to stop equating the crap he gets in school with the stuff that I make at home. I think he's starting to "get" that I make better food than the LAUSD food system does, but he's not always entirely convinced.

On Memorial Day, this Monday, we're going to start grilling, and I'll have the Guy grill mounds of veggies. And then I'll use the muffin/cup cake tin again, and make some grilled veggie pastries in them, and some "meat muffins" with pastry. I buy my pastry dough from the store; I am not a pastry chef. Then the food will last out the week, and the Guy and I will have lots of left-over to eat during the week.

For the hell of it, I made a menu last week, because I didn't want to go back to the grocery store except perhaps once more during the week. We've had a lot of bills come in, and I'm trying to stay within the budget.

When I've made up menus in the past, they never worked out, because I'd make the list, buy the ingredients for the recipes, and end up with food wasted because no one liked what I made. That was by following the menu plan I used to buy from an online company--you subscribed to the service, and you'd get a weeks' worth of recipes AND (joy!) an already made-up grocery list to go with it!  Or even when I made up my own.

Getting back to it; this past week, I asked both kids what they'd like for dinner. They each got to choose one dinner. The Guy got to choose another one, and for the rest, I picked out old tried and true recipes. It turned out pretty well. I didn't get anxious about what the heck I was going to serve each night. I had leftovers for some of the nights as well, and on those nights, we'd (or the Guy) would eat that when he got home. The main thing is to KISS it. Mermaid chose bacon burgers. Tall Boy chose Trader Joe's Orange Chicken with rice and broccoli. Another night was Trader Joe's minimeat balls in spaghetti sauce and pasta. Last night was Freschetta's pizza night. So, I didn't totally cook from scratch on two of the nights, but at least everyone got something they liked, and would EAT, and that wasn't overly involved.

I'm finding that I really like that $7 a Meal cookbook that I mentioned before. The recipes in it are pretty simple, use common ingredients, and are usually pretty tasty and aren't full of unnecessary fats--enough for the recipes to taste good, but not enough to make you fat eating the food!

Fat free cream cheese absolutely sucks. It has a weird gelatin consistency that feels horrible in my mouth.

Okay. I think I'm off for the night (ha! like that'll ever happen!), so I'm going to hunker down and get some chuckles from MP&Mummies. I don't want this book to end-luckily, it's pretty long. I can get cheered up for as long as I need!

Dinner: hamburgers with applewood bacon, lettuce, tomatoes (do tomatoes have toes?) and french fries, with frozen corn on the cob in the oven finishing up. Yeah. Lovin' the simple dinners.

Tomorrow: since we're not getting back until 5pm, I'm going to put some Trader Joe's mini-meatballs and Ragu into the slow-cooker, and make pasta with veggies on the side, of course.

Wednesday night: I'll have to look at the menu, but something easy to make since we'll be out until 5 or later again!

In an effort to use up some of the food in my house before it goes bad, I've concocted my own variation of the many recipes you can find on the internet.

In this case, I cooked up some ground turkey, flavored it with a little garlic and Italian spices out of a bottle and then mixed in what was left of a bottle of Ragu pizza sauce. There was enough to coat the cooked turkey. I put that aside and boiled up some pasta I had in the cupboard, a combo of whole wheat rotini and white butterfly pasta. Along with those two ingredients, I hauled out what was left of a bag of shredded mozarella cheese. Unfortunately, there wasn't as much as I'd hoped, so used some shredded cheddar cheese, too. Because I didn't have enough pizza sauce, I used some spaghetti sauce.

The pasta, the meat, the cheese and the sauce was alternated (to me it doesn't matter too much in what order it's done), and for the top layer, I added a few thin slices of pepperoni I remembered I had. It's cooling down on the counter before I serve it up for dinner. At least it means I don't have to cook later on tonight when I'm more tired than I am now!

Last night I prepared a dinner based on a recipe in  The $7 a Meal Healthy Cookbook: 301 Nutritious, Delicious Recipes That the Whole Family Will Love (pg 179)

Olive Oil    ---I used Olive Oil Spray from Trader Joe's. Did the trick.
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground beef  -- The Guy bought ground buffalo instead
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb uncooked egg noodles
2 cups nonfat sour cream -- this is the really important part of the dish, as it's what makes it Stroganoffy!

Cook the 1 lb bag of egg noodles until they're finished in the boiling water.  Start slightly after you start the veggies. Drain, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a pan large enough to contain all ingrediants.
Add the garlic and onion first. (I added in the chopped celery at the same time; it didn't seem to hurt the recipe)
Add in the beef and the celery. Cook until the beef is done.
Add in the sour cream, mix, cover and remove from heat (so the sour cream won't do awful things like curdle)

Spoon the meat/sour cream mixture over the egg noodles, and serve!

This was a big hit with the family, with everyone either A) trying it to begin with (Tall Boy and Mermaid) or B) going back for seconds (me and the Guy). 

If you're a vegetarian, I think you could substitute a soy product, or heavy textured mushrooms instead, just make sure to chop the mushrooms up small enough so that it 'disappears' into the sour cream along with the other veggies.

Plain Greek yogurt might substitute well for the sour cream. You'll get a tarter taste that way, and you'd have to remove the pan from the heat *right away* so you don't mess up the yogurt and end up with a vegetable morass instead of Stroganoff.

This one is on my "must repeat" menu now. Maybe every two weeks or so.

Now, I realize the title of the cookbook includes "$7 Meal". That was certainly not how much it cost for our dinner. Buffalo is 1/3 more expensive than beef around here.  I think the 1 lb package is $7 or 8 dollars. Sour Cream in a larger tub is at least $4. Garlic is cheap (I used bottled minced I already had), and so is celery, which I already had. A 1 pound bag of egg noodles is roughly $2 or $3.  So, in all, this meal cost us about $15, give or take. But to me, that's still pretty good, considering that if we'd gone out to eat, that $15 would pay for one person! I could probably get better deals than the full price ingredients used here (ie, use cheaper ground beef), but I'm into using better quality stuff these days when I can.

A couple of days ago I slow-cooked a couple of chicken breasts with salsa for about 18 hours. Had it for dinner last night on a plate, and tonight, I used the left-over-overs in a Mexican inspired casserole. I layered corn tortillas, refried beans, salsa,rice and the salsa chicken in my casserole dish and it looks really good. It hasn't finished cooking yet, so I haven't tried it yet.

Edited to add:

It was good! It was also very dense, thanks to the corn tortillas and refried beans that were scattered into the layers.

I baked it in the oven for about 40 minutes at 350F, which heated it up all the way through.

Another winner!

More food

Jan. 18th, 2010 06:57 pm
I'm full. I cooked up some taco dinner tonight. Taco night is easy--just plop cheese, meat, refried beans and other stuff in bowls, cook up the seasoned meat, and you're done.

Last night I made a simple two-step meal from the The $7 a Meal Healthy Cookbook: 301 Nutritious, Delicious Recipes That the Whole Family Will Love --the Texas Mash-up. At least, that's what I'm calling it.

  • 2 baking potatoes--boil and mash, but don't add milk or butter
  • 1 lb of ground meat (or tempeh or meat substitute)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped up
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup or so of low-fat sour cream
  • 1 16oz bag of frozen mixed veggies--broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. I was fortunate to find it in the store: it's called the "California mix".
  • 1/4 c beef broth (I didn't have any on hand, so I just used some chicken broth--I would have used veggie broth if I had some of that)

In a *large* skillet, heat up some olive oil, start cooking the chopped onion until it becomes translucent. Minced garlic is good, too.
Add the meat or meat substitute, brown it.
Add in the taco seasoning packet, incorporate it into the mixture.
Add the veggies, allow them to heat in the pot for a few minutes.
Add in the broth and sour cream and the smashed up potatoes.
Mix it all up together-potatoes, meat, veggies, sour cream, everything.

Scoop the mixture into an 8x8 baking casserole dish (I used my glass Pyrex) and stick it in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400F until it heats through.  Oh yes. You might want to top it with some Parmesan, as the recipe calls for, or sharp cheddar, which is what *I* called for!

I think it came out pretty good. Mermaid tried a little bit, but didn't like it. Tall Boy wouldn't even try. But Mermaid's friend who was staying overnight went back for seconds. There is currently 2 cups of left-over in the fridge now. I'll have it for lunch tomorrow. I still have two slices of the turkey meat loaf I made three days ago. I put those in the freezer today.

Surprisingly, even with the potatoes and the sour cream, this Texas Mash-up's calorie count was only ~340 calories. And it was very filling, too!
I've been in a cook book frenzy, it seems. Last week I bought a copy of <a href="Cook This, Not That!: Kitchen Survival Guide  and although it has some flaws (check the amazon site for a particularly good review of this book) it does have a couple of kick-butt recipes that I've tried out so far.

On page 206 I tried out the Hearty Lasagna, which, when split into four rather substantial pieces, totals about 430 calories! That is a little high even so, but it can be tweaked.

The original recipe:                                                  My version:
1 15 oz container of part-skim ricotta                    the ricotta stayed
1/2 bunch of fresh basil                                           I bought the basil, but realized it tasted slightly licoricey, so left it out
2 links of chicken sausage                                     I had 1/2 lb of ground turkey left-over from the night before-browned it w/garlic
1/3 c of 2% milk                                                         used skim organic milk instead
2 garlic cloves                                                            used minced garlic with the ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes                             threw some of that in, too
2.25 c tomato sauce                                                 I used almost 24 oz of Ragu sauce with enough left over for Tall Boy for his pasta
8 no-boil lasagna noodles                                      Barilla flat no-boil noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan                                        kept that the same

Now, I also added a pinch or two of dry rosemary leaves (crumpled up) into the ground turkey, and that added a subtle taste. I've no idea what it would have tasted like with the sausage, but generally, unless you're very picky, sausage has a lot of fats and sugars in them to make them taste better to the American public.

Once the turkey was cook I mixed it in directly with the ricotta, the milk, a little more garlic, and the red pepper flakes. NO EGGS.

Spread about 1/2 c of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 pan, layer two noodles, then the ricotta mixture, then some more sauce (I dribbed and drabbed it on with each layer), then another layer of noodles, and so on. I can't remember how many layers I finally finished the lasagna off with, but it filled my glass 8x8 casserole dish up to the top, so, it turned out fine.

The oven went on at 425F. The lasagna goes in for 20 minutes *with a foil cover*. After 20 minutes, take the foil off the top, and let it cook further for 15 minutes more.  The top of the lasagna has this terrific toasty top of crisped up Parmesan.

The 4x4" sized piece I ate was amazingly filling. I topped my piece with the fresh basil, and really really liked the added flavor. The Guy hates anything that tastes the least bit like licorice, so it was a good thing I left it out; but it was just fine as a topping. According to the directions, you would add the fresh basil into the ricotta mix.

A note--look carefully at the brand of ground turkey you buy, because apparently, some manufacturers of the stuff like to add in fatty parts of the bird, and that raises the fat content up high, obviously.

****next paragraph is about my dissatisfaction with the way animals are treated by the meat industry and my own discomfort in contributing to it***

The Guy and I are increasingly uncomfortable eating meat, and we're pretty much in agreement that I'm going to start getting our meat at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods from now on. Frankly, if I could figure out a way to convert a lot of the recipes I have so that I use much less to NO meat at all, I'd be happier than I am now about contributing to the inhumane lives and deaths of animals that have to go through the US's current butcher system.

Now, with this baby, there are ways to get the calorie count down (like using low-fat cream cheese, yo). Without calorie cutting, one serving of this is about 525 k. I'll mark down where I'd make my own substitutions.  Serves 6. You can go to All Recipes and vary the number you want to make. Very cool feature of the site.

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese with chives  --here's where you use the low- or no-fat cream cheese, and use fresh chives!
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard  -no problems here
  • 6 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas  -you can find 80 calorie whole wheat high fiber tortillas now on the market that are *awesome*!
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce  -no problemo here
  • 12 slices thinly sliced deli turkey   -use what you like, or use fresh cooked turkey or chicken you already have in the fridge
  • 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese  -LOW FAT shredded swiss cheese and yes, it exists
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled --turkey bacon for the truly devoted to weight loss, but dudes, I'd go for the Trader Joe's Applewood Smoked bacon every time.

  1. Mix together the cream cheese and Dijon mustard until smooth. Spread each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture, spreading to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the tortillas.
  2. Arrange about 1/4 cup of shredded lettuce on each tortilla, and press the lettuce down into the cream cheese mixture. Place 2 turkey slices per tortilla over the lettuce, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of shredded Swiss cheese. Top each tortilla evenly with tomato, avocado slices, and crumbled bacon.
  3. Roll each tortilla up tightly, and cut in half across the middle with a slightly diagonal cut.
This is a simple wrap recipe. How hard could it be?  You might also want to add cilantro instead of chives for a varied taste, or ham, even, with barbecue mixed into the cream cheese. Or does that sound gross? The point is, flexibility. And use LOTS of veggies in your wrap. The meat? Is there for flavor. Well, that's what the bacon is for, but it's not even necessary, if you don't like the stuff. But who doesn't like bacon?

And to throw this wrap recipe in (because I'm just that kinda gal), here's a truly simple wrap called a B.L.A.T.-a BLT with an Avacado in the mix.

Here's a recipe I bookmarked three years ago on Allrecipes (and wow, has the site grown since then!

  • 1 (4 pound) whole chicken
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1/2 (12 fluid ounce) can beer
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the lime over the whole chicken, then place the halves into the cavity of the chicken. Set the half full beer can in the center of a roasting pan or baking dish, and place the chicken over it in an upright position with the beer inserted into the cavity. Pour water into the bottom of the pan. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil, and place roasting pan and all into the oven.
  3. Roast the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven, removing foil during the last 20 minutes. Baste occasionally with the drippings. When finished, the internal temperature of the chicken should be 180 degrees F (80 degrees C) when taken in the meatiest part of the thigh. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Apparently, other cooks have added lime juice to the beer in the can, and garlic cloves--2 seems to do it-- and some onion, too. And most of the commenters say they do NOT put foil over the chicken, saying they like crispy skin, and besides, the chicken still comes out plenty moist even on the outside.
It's gotten rave reviews. I think I might try it, but my oven is weird and I don't think it has the height to stand a roaster chicken in.

Makes: 5 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 35 minutes, plus pasta

2 1/2 cups ziti or other tube pasta (8 ounces)
1/2 pound 93 percent lean ground beef
1 large chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (28-ounce) can drained fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook and drain pasta as directed. Meanwhile, coat a 12-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large nonstick skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic 6 minutes on medium until beef is no longer pink and the onions are softened. Stir in zucchini; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling. Add drained pasta; toss to coat. Spread in baking dish. Cover tightly with nonstick foil; bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Per serving: 366 calories, 24 grams protein, 7 grams fat (16 percent calories from fat), 3.1 grams saturated fat, 56 grams carbohydrate, 34 milligrams cholesterol, 649 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

For a quick meal, refrigerated CHEESE TORTELLINI WITH SPINACH AND TOMATOES is about as good as it gets. Cook 1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini as directed along with some sliced sun-dried tomatoes. Reserve 1/2 cup water and drain. Toss the tortellini with the reserved water, some spinach and 1 tablespoon butter. Serve with packaged GREEN SALAD and ITALIAN BREAD. Enjoy SLICED MANGOS for dessert.

This recipe is from the
7-Day Meal Planner by Susan Nicholson on uExpress.

I'm going to check my pantry to see how many of these ingredients I have on hand. The fire-roasted tomatoes would seem to be a key ingredient in this recipe, so I may have to try this tomorrow. Bummer.


Mar. 30th, 2009 09:34 am
Cool easy breakfast idea from Hungry-girl.com!

In the "Now, why didn't I think of this before?" category:

Get a microwave-safe mug. Give the inside a quick spray from a spray oil (like Pam). Put in Eggbeaters whites only (if you're trying to lose weight) and some small pieces of cheese into the mug. Zap in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so, mix the egg whites and cheese, zap again until the eggs are set. And there you have it!

The size of the round egg mixture might be just right for two slices of high fiber bread cut with a circular biscuit cutter. Or a bagel. Or an English Muffin.

Awesome idea. I think I'll try it out this morning, instead of using the mini egg-sized skillet I bought a few weeks ago.

UPDATE:  The mug idea works great! I mixed in some bacon crumbles instead, and layered on very thin slices of pepper jack on top of the egg. I also used one whole large egg instead of the white only. Also toasted high fiber bread slices and cut them with the round biscuit cutter we have. Mmmm. Excellent. Better than the MacDonald's biscuit I used to love, which no longer tastes like anything.



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