Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sumptuous Banana Milk Smoothies

What's a mom to do when there is NOTHING that sounds good for breakfast?

Seriously, my oldest would eat only bacon if I let her. Then, SOMEONE discussed with her where bacon comes from, and guess what? Suddenly, no more interest in bacon. I can't really feel bad about this. Not really. The child needs to have something healthy to start the day.

So, after a round of "do you want this?" or "What about this?" and, just when I was about to command: "You're eating the oatmeal and liking it!" We came around to a solution that was both healthy and filling.

Banana Milk Smoothies - or, Mama is tired and the girls need protein.

* 2 cups milk
* 2 bananas
* 1 pkg Vanilla Instant Breakfast

Blend, serve in Princess Straw Cups
Goes wonderfully well with heaping handfuls of dry cereal.
Seconds, please! :)

Traditional Holiday Roast Beef

No holiday gathering is complete without the traditional Roast Beef. Just think about it for a second. Mmmm.

The distinct scents of succulent, flavorful roast greets your guests as they walk through the door. Hugs and back slaps precede the trek to the kitchen to peek into the oven to see what's cooking.

"What's in the oven?" They'll ask...

"Oh, just a roast," you'll blink back with an easy smile.


Have them bring side dishes and desserts. Toss a quick salad and top with a balsamic vinaigrette you've prepared from the Temecula Olive Oil company's compliment of infused oils & vinegars.

Grab a loaf of bread from the local bakery--I suggest Great Harvest Grains "Cheddar Garlic Loaf. All dressed and perfectly coiffed, as you pour a glass of wine for all, take jackets, and know that not only does the house look great but you do, too. Why? How is this possible?

Because you've prepared the most easy holiday feast in the universe.

You’ll need:

  • Your butcher’s cut of Prime Rib Roast - Approximately ½ pound beef per guest
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 clove crushed garlic

· Seasoning rub made from of: 1 tsp each: Thyme, Montreal’s Steak Seasoning, Lemon Pepper, Parsley

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Rub your roast first with olive oil, and then pat all over with the seasoning blend until crusted with herbs. Sear all sides of your roast in EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), crushed garlic, and butter until golden brown, turning every few minutes.

Place the rubbed, seared roast in roasting pan--fat side up. Drizzle with EVOO, and cook approximately ½ hour per pound, inserting meat thermometer to ensure proper temperature is reached.

Serve with Mashed or Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Root Vegetables, tossed salad, and pair with a peppery bottle of Ruby Syrah.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas is Coming Brittle!

Cuz, baby, it's cold outside!

The Chargers are losing. The kids--after helping "clean out" their toys to find donations for those less fortunate than us--have rediscovered a slew of toys. One ZuZu pet. One remote control car. One pair of fuzzy Duck Puppets (which they are currently tormenting their father with).

And, while there are many creatures stirring inside, I have had time to make a batch of Spritz Cookies (recipe coming) and this fantastic "Christmas is Coming Brittle!" Some call it Saltine Brittle. There are about a million recipes online already. But, this is what I'm making with found ingredients as we have yet to descend on the local grocery store for our annual baking break the bank trip.

Here's what you need:
  • Enough Saltine crackers to cover the bottom of one cookie sheet.
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 bag Toll House Milk Chocolate Chips
Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  1. Line a baking sheet first with Parchment Paper.
  2. Cover baking sheet with tight little rows of saltines.
  3. Then, in a pan, melt your butter over med-high heat.
  4. Add in the brown sugar to the melted butter, and stir until boiling.
  5. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes until everything's all nice and bubbly.
  6. Add your vanilla at the end, give a few more good stirs.
  7. Next, pour bubbly mixture over top of the crackers. Make sure it's all nice and evenly covered to the edges. Best if no part of the crackers are showing.
  8. Shove the tray into the oven, and let it bubble there for about 5 minutes. This gives you about enough time to wash the pan, and pretend you can't hear the Chargers throw ANOTHER interception or miss another 50+ yard kick.
  9. Drag bubbling tray out of oven, and liberally sprinkle chocolate chips over mixture. Using a paddle knife or spatula, spread melting chocolates evenly over top of the goop covered crackers. Make sure it's all covered up good.
  10. Cool.
  11. Defend the tray of cooling candy. This is the tricky part because the kitchen smells so good. The little ones wander over in search of "good deeds to do" or other ways in which they can "help." But, it's really, really hot--so shoo them away.
  12. Ideally, this creation should cool for 2-4 hours. 6 is better. 12 would be best.
  13. Crack apart into sections, and hide some for after it's been devoured.

Seriously, one recipe I saw for this said that it was impossible to determine shelf-life of this candy, and I can't agree more. It's THAT good.

So, happy holiday season, moms! readers! and author friends!

His Darling, now available...

Don't forget to pop on over to download a copy of Tessa Takes a Chance... a free read, on me, in case you haven't already! If you have, let me know and I'll point you to a copy of Sparks Still Fly!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Suddenly Sloppy Joe's!

Sloppy Joe's - inspired by Disney Family Fun Slow Cookin' Recipes!

So, my freezer is PACKED. P-A-C-K-E-D full of food. So stuffed that I cannot even BEAR to think about what to cook. I know we have fixings for a month in there, but what? Chicken? Beef? Pasta?

Perry's been balking at too much chicken lately. I didn't know there was such a thing. I could eat chicken all the time and never bat an eye. Though, I think I heard Rachel cluck this morning. So, I got to thinking ground beef might be the way to go today.

I remember when my mom made Sloppy Joes. I can't recall if I liked them or not. Drippy, fun to eat sandwiches where no one gets fussed at for making a mess, served with a roll of paper towels within easy reach? Sounds like heaven for my youngest. For my oldest...heaven only knows.

Time to make: 15 minutes

Ready In: 4-6 hours
serves: 4-6 (hopefully!!)


    1 lb ground beef
    1/4 cup chopped onion
    1 cloves garlic, minced
    2/3 cups ketchup
    3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    3 tbs packed dark brown sugar
    1 tablespoons stone ground mustard
    1 tablespoons vinegar
    1/8 tsp chili powder
    Toasted hamburger buns

Cook and stir ground beef, onion and garlic in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until beef is browned and onion is tender. Drain and discard fat.
Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, mustard, vinegar and chili powder in 4 1/2-quart CROCK-POT® slow cooker. Stir in beef mixture. Cover; cook on LOW 4 to 6 hours. To serve, spoon mixture onto hamburger buns.

Here's a Disney Family Tip
Don't worry about making big batches of food in your CROCK-POT® slow cooker. Instead, plan ahead to freeze the leftovers as individual portions. Just reheat a single serving in the microwave for fast meals or impulse snacks.

OOOH! good one. As soon as I can spy space in my freezer, I'll try it. HOWEVER, leftovers are actually consumed in this house the day after, usually. Reheated leftovers? Anyone? I'm thinking maybe, no.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chili Relleno Bake!

I scoured the cookbooks yesterday in search of this recipe, instead, found a variation online. The original recipe came off a can of Rosarita Refried Beans...and this has some zingy updates that I liked. Ellie, for once, let me crack and separate the eggs--and watched while the Kitchenaid mixer frothed the eggwhites for us. Really. There's NOTHING to be afraid of with egg separation if you own a Kitchenaid mixer.


    • Pam cooking spray
    • 3 large eggs, separated
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 (7 ounce) cans diced green chilies
    • 1 (16 ounce) cans rosarita vegetarian refried beans
    • 1/4 cup onions, chopped finely (optional)
    • 1/3 cup salsa verde (optional)
    • 2 cups cheddar, monterey jack pepper cheese OR 2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded (I used cheddar)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spray 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Beat egg whites* in small bowl until stiff peaks form.
  4. Whisk egg yolks in separate bowl; fold into egg whites.
  5. Add Flour into eggs until just combined.
  6. Fold in green chilies.
  7. Spread beans over bottom of dish.
  8. Layer chopped onions over beans and make sure to get sides.* (we didn't use onions...Perry & the kids not a big fan of crunchy stuff in the beans... ugh)
  9. Spread layer of salsa verde, smoothing into the sides.
  10. Mix all the beans, onions and salsa verde together.
  11. Top with half of the egg mixture, spreading evenly.
  12. Sprinkle with half of the cheese, then remaining egg mixture and remaining cheese.
  13. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until golden brown.
    Mine got nice and toasty on top after about 25 minutes, so it depends on your oven. This REALLY dresses up a side dish. And, my Spanish friends have always told me--you can tell a great restaurant by their Chile Relleno. Casa De Ludwig serves up a mean one!
    Also--as for my finicky family? Rachel had a corn dog, apple sauce, and cheddar cheese with a side of tomatoes. Ellie ate a taco with her daddy, tried the relleno bake, and informed me "I liked the crunchy top and the beans. Didn't care for the green stuff."
    *How to separate an egg: Crack and peek into egg over your bowl, weight the yolk side to one half, let whites drip down, turn yolk into other half of shell, when white is all in the bowl, return yolk to other bowl. If you want to be more heart healthy, go 1 yolk to 3 egg whites for this recipe. I made it with all 3, though. Delicious.Oh! and another trick! don't turn the whites more than you have to, once they're all frothed up. Keep it light and fluffy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flank Steak with onions

This was a quick dinner that we cooked after kids had eaten. We finished just in time to put them to bed. We enjoyed it with a Nuit-Saint-George from one of our favorite wineries that we are trying desperately to get in California. Dinner was perfect, even though the girls popped out of their room every 5 minutes with another request:

Bavette a L'├ęchalotte: Bistro Steak with Shallots and Red Wine Jus

We substituted the shallots for a yellow onion (because that was what we had) and served it with a combination of peas, broccoli, sugar snap peas and spinach because those were the frozen veggies we had in the freezer.

It is important to note that we had a thinner steak than the recipe called for (the same kind you can easily find in the U.S.) so we carmelized the onions longer and didn't put the whole thing in the oven. We cooked it a little longer on the stove top. Perfection! We ate every last bit. I guess we should have made more. We're still remembering it.

The kids might have enjoyed it too, but we were not really interested in finding out.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Need to Cook in Summertime...Why Not Corn Chowder?

So, tearing through the refrigerator, the confounded urge to make something out of nothing surrounded me. Filled every cell of my being. There had to be something I could make that could fill the empty spot inside. Something...comfortable. Soup. That was it. I'd seen a recipe in a Parent's Magazine the night before. Something that called for corn.

Inside the crisper, six neatly wrapped ears of corn, and beside it, rolling in the back of the drawer lay a lonely yellow onion. Yes. I could make this work.

Summertime Corn Chowder:

  • 6 ears fresh corn
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices bacon (preferably thick-cut), chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Shuck the corn, then stand each ear up in a bowl and use a knife to scrape off the kernels; set aside. Put the cobs, 1 cup water, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a 4-qt. pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the water bubbles gently, cover, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Leave the cobs in the pot until you are ready to make the soup, then discard them, reserving the corncob stock

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it begins to render its fat and turn golden-brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, another 5 minutes or so.

3. Add the milk, reserved corn kernels, and bacon and onion to the stock, and bring to a boil; lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes

4. Whisk the cornstarch in a small bowl with 2 Tbs. water until smooth. Add to the soup, stirring until the soup thickens, about a minute. Taste, adjust the seasoning, garnish with parsley, and serve.

The whole corn chowder preparation was therapeutic for me, I have to admit. With all the bubbling, sizzling, and chopping, I really reached some sort of summer cooking nirvana. I was out of corn starch, opted instead for flour with a pinch of salt.

I also substituted salt and cracked pepper for Lawry's Garlic Salt and fresh Costco Lemon Pepper in generous portions. Tasting, bubbling, adding some of this and that, and it made for a delightful meal with a side salad and glass of Chardonnay.

Next time, I'll let the bacon get crisper, I'll add in some cheese, and I'll time it better with something the kids will actually eat, like chicken fingers.

I Want to Cook! Who's Gonna Eat It? Why Do I Care!

Yes, today I was confronted with information... heartbreak. Pain. Agony. Angst. Friends in need. My own mom dealing with her grief in Arkansas, going through my grandparents' home.

I got out the kitchen aid. I frowned around the kitchen, in search of ingredients, and saw some bananas in need of attention. Done. I started mixing up a batch of Banana Bread.

Ellie wanted to help. I doubled the batch, allowing her to crack eggs with her delicate touch. Seriously. The kid is amazing. Almost five, and though I have her crack them in separate bowls, there's not a shell to be seen.

We used:

6 Bananas
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups Sugar
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
dash of cinnamon
dash of sugar to top

In the mixer, let the bananas mash up, but not too much.
In a separate bowl, whip up the eggs in a frenzy. Add to bananas until combined.
Then, stir together dry ingredients and slowly shake into mixing bowl until mixed.

Pour into bread pans, either that have been lined with parchment, or sprayed with cooking spray. Top with sprinkled sugar and dashes of cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for one hour and just hold the kids off until it's done. Mine want to break down the oven door!

Banana Bread rising in the oven, hungry misses shooed out the door to the pool with their daddy, I finally had some time to think. But that's only half of it. The second thought came that my starving little waifs and their dad would all expect to be fed upon return.

But I still had the urge to cook...a recipe burning a hole in my pocket, and bread to deliver as soon as friends in need returned...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Paris Sole Family Style

The Fish:
2 whole sole from Poissionniere Bleu (heads and all!)

1/2 thinly sliced lemon
about 1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg
about 1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt

about 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (i used old not very good pita that I briefly toasted after crumbling)
2 garlic cloves
1 or 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/4 tsp salt

Fillet the fish with a great deal of discussion and angst and the instructional video from BBC. Congratulate the fillet-er once he or she has successfully created 8 boneless fillets.

Marinade sole in lemon slices, white wine and salt for about 1/2 hour.

In a shallow bowl whisk together egg, milk and salt.

In a separate shallow bowl combine bread crumbs, finely chopped garlic cloves, dill and salt.

Dip fish in egg mixture and drip dry. Dredge fish in bread crumbs and set fish on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. In a non stick pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and 2 tsp butter over medium high heat. Carefully place 4 of the fillets in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Flip the fish once, and finish cooking. Keep the fish warm in an oven on a baking dish.

The Veggie:
Coarsely chop about 1 large courgette (zucchini) for each three people eating. Count children as adults! They love this. Saute courgettes in olive oil and butter until its just a little brown.

The Salad:
Red leaf lettuce or whatever it was we found at the market that was so yummy. Add chopped tomato, oil, vinegar, dill salt and pepper. Toss.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Honey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

oven at 350

1/2 stick of butter
1/3 cup white sugar


1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg


in a separate bowl combine

1 cup oats
1 cup flour (I use half regular half whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (maybe more if you think you need it)

Add to butter, sugar, egg, honey, vanilla mixture and mix until combined.

3/4 cup golden raisins (or whatever dried fruit you have on hand that sounds good)

Mix to combine

Distribute in walnut sized scoops on cookie sheets. Flatten them just a little.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Let them cool on the pans for about 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool.