Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Black Bean, Corn and Feta Dip

It’s Super Bowl week!  To me, the best part of the Super Bowl is the pre-game show, the commercials, the half-time show, the food and the premiere of The Voice afterwards.  Whether you are hosting friends, going someplace or staying at home with your family, this week’s recipes are dedicated to making it a tasty few hours.

I was introduced to this recipe by Linda who got it from Amber so you can see that it’s one worth passing along.  David eats it with a fork (that’s because he’s healthier than the rest of us) but the kids like to try it with the various chips.  Sometimes they even remember to put the dip on the chip.

Go Horns! (oh wait - this is pro football)

    Black Bean Corn and Feta Dip
  1. 2 cans of black beans, drained. 
  2. 1 can of corn, drained (or 2 cups of fresh boiled or roasted)
  3. 1 package (6 oz) crumbled plain feta
  4. Cilantro, stems removed and finely chopped.  Amount to your liking – I used about ½ c
  5. 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
  6. 1/3 c olive oil
  7. 1/3 c sugar
  8. Chips – Fritos Scoops, Tostitos Scoops or Pita Chips (like Stacy’s simply naked pc)
Drain and rinse black beans and corn.  Put in a bowl.  Add the feta and cilantro.  Mix the dressing (ingredients #5-7) in a separate container and then pour over the bean and corn mixture.  Gently stir.  Serve with Fritos Scoops, Tostitos Scoops or pita chips.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken Marbella

This is an oldie but a goodie from The Silver Palate Cookbook.  If you haven’t made it recently, dust off the cookbook and make it again.  I was first introduced to it when our younger kids were born.  The great parents in our older son’s pre-school class took turns bringing meals (thank you – that is the best gift ever!) and one mom brought Chicken Marbella.  I was so enamored that I asked for the recipe.  As I raved about it to fellow moms, I quickly learned that many others had discovered this dish before me.  The best part is that you marinate the chicken the night before and then simply bake it the following night.  The quantity can scale down for your family or up for a crowd.  It’s good hot, room temp or cold.  The recipe below is slightly adjusted from the original, i.e., I have scaled it down to feed our family, cut the amount of brown sugar in half, etc.  Click here for the original recipe.

  1. 2 bone-in, skin-on breasts (about 2-3 lbs) + 2 leg quarters
  2. Chicken Marbella
  3. 1 T minced garlic
  4. ¼ C dried oregano
  5. Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  6. ½ C red wine vinegar
  7. ½ C olive oil
  8. ½ C pitted prunes
  9. ½ C pitted Spanish green olives
  10. ¼ C capers with a bit of juice
  11. 3 bay leaves
  12. ½ C brown sugar
  13. 1 C white wine
In a bowl, combine ingredients #1-10.  Place chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour marinade over it.  Zip and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.  The Ziploc bags make it easy to flip and shake and lay flat in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and pour marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting regularly.  The chicken is done when the thickest portion of the chicken reaches 170 degrees.  Serve it with a side of rice (I like Near East rice pilaf with toasted almonds) and a vegetable.  Tasty!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

It looks like pasta week at our house – how did that happen?  Maybe subconsciously I am thinking that it is winter and semi-chilly in Dallas, so we are stuffing ourselves with carbs in preparation for hibernation in case it actually turns cold here.

Barefoot Contessa has a great Lemon Fusilli with Arugula in her At Home cookbook. 

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
1.      1 tablespoon olive oil
2.      1 tablespoon (2 cloves) garlic, minced
3.      2 cups heavy cream
4.      6 tablespoons lemon juice
5.      1 pound dried fusilli pasta
6.      1/2 pound baby arugula
7.      1/2 cup grated Parmesan
8.      1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
9.      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, 6 T lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, and tomatoes. Toss well and season to taste.

This dish makes a great side for a roasted or grilled chicken.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pancake Poll Results

The results are in and have been tabulated and verified by the independent accounting firm of MannWaterhouseCoopersMann.

·        Morning person – I make mine from scratch. 17%
·        What they don’t know… - I make mine from a box mix.  64%
·        The 7-11 Type – I like the convenience of pancakes from the freezer. 0%
·        Diners – I prefer that someone makes and serves them to me. 14%
·        Bah-humbug – I don’t eat pancakes. 3%

Personally, I feel relieved that I am not alone in being lazy (I mean - enjoying the convenience) and using a box pancake mix.  I will also attest that making them from scratch was not complex (I made both recipes in the same night) and delicious. 

Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe - I'm gonna eat me some pancakes morning noon and night.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pasta with Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes

I have a meeting tonight and need to prepare dinner before I leave.  My friend, Amber, created this dish - yes, that’s from scratch – a few words that have never been used to describe me and my cooking.  And another thing, Amber has a library of cookbooks that would dwarf my stack.  It's like heaven over there.

I enjoy the flavors of this dish – the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes, the nuttiness and crunch of the pine nuts and the comfort of the pasta and chicken.  This dish is easy to make at home or if you’re traveling and have access to a kitchen.  These proportions easily serve our family with plenty of leftovers.      

    Pasta with Chicken
    and Sundried Tomatoes
  1. 1 jar of sundried tomatoes (I prefer the julienne cut (vs whole or minced))
  2. 1 container of pesto
  3. 1 C pine nuts, toasted
  4. 1 C of grated parmesan cheese
  5. 1-1 ½ lb of chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
  6. 1 lb of cooked rigatoni, penne or mini-penne
Drain the sundried tomatoes.  Reserve 2 T of the oil in which to cook the chicken.  Saute the chicken breasts in the sundried tomatoes with 2 T oil.  When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the pesto (I tend to only use about half of the jar).  Pour this mixture onto the cooked pasta (I like the mini-penne) and add pine nuts (toast them first in a dry saute pan or in the oven) and parmesan.  Stir to mix.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


It’s the end of the weekend.  Family has been in town (so fun!!)  We went to the Fort Worth Rodeo this afternoon (so fun2!!)  I’m worn out (in a really good, happy way) but everyone is still looking to me for dinner and I prefer to avoid the “I don’t like this dinner” refrain.  Out comes a fan favorite – spaghetti and meatballs.  These meatballs are easy and quick to make.  Mix, roll and bake then submerge in your favorite sauce to absorb the flavor and voila!  Dinner is served.

Below are 2 versions, thanks to Susan B. again, for sharing hers.

Ingredients – Meatball v1:
  1. 1 ½ lb ground beef (or ¾ lb ground beef and ¾ ground pork; or ground turkey)
  2. 1 small onion (or ½ T onion powder)
  3. 2 clove garlic (or 1 t garlic powder)
  4. ¼ dry bread crumbs (plain or Italian)
  5. 1 egg, slightly beaten
  6. 1 jar (28 ozs) marinara sauce
Preheat oven to 375.  Mix ingredients #1-5.  Line pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  Roll the meatballs about the size of golf ball (hey, even David could do this part!)  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Ingredients – Meatball v2:
  1. 1 1/2 lbs ground meat (beef or turkey)
  2. 1/3 c Italian breadcrumbs + 1/3 c water, mix until water is absorbed
  3. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  4. 1/3 c Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 425.  Combine all ingredients, roll into meatballs and bake for 10 min. Turn and bake for an additional 10 minutes (total cooking time: 20 minutes).

Place in your favorite spaghetti sauce (we happen to like Classico Four Cheese) and simmer.  The longer you simmer, the more flavor the meatballs will absorb.  Serve over spaghetti and with a slice of crusty bread and something green (meaning a vegetable - if your bread has something green growing on it, throw it away).

- - - - -
Think pink CCM!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Reality check!  I assumed (and you know what that means) that everyone made pancakes from a box of Aunt Jemima mix like me, however I have received 2 make-from-scratch pancake recipes within the past week.  Readers participated in a Pancake Poll and voted for their preferred way to make pancakes - the results are below:

·        Morning person – I make mine from scratch. 17%
·        What they don’t know… - I make mine from a box mix.  64%
·        The 7-11 Type – I like the convenience of pancakes from the freezer. 0%
·        Diners – I prefer that someone makes and serves them to me. 14%
·        Bah-humbug – I don’t eat pancakes. 3%

Linda's (left) - Susan's (right)
There is no doubt that my oldest kid’s favorite day at the cafeteria is “breakfast for lunch.”  Linda W. serves pancakes for dinner too. Her theory is that the eggs and milk in the batter make it healthy.  Sounds logical to me!  Susan B. (see sea bass recipe) also shared her pancake recipe.  Her kids prefer this recipe so much that she takes it with them on trips (I can imagine her packing list: toothbrush, underwear, pancake recipe…)! 

Break out of the box – try one of these recipes this weekend.

Linda W.’s recipe:
  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 tablespoon white sugar
  5. 1 1/4 cups milk
  6. 1 egg
  7. 3 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Susan B.’s recipe
  1. 1 1/2 cup All-purpose flour
  2. 3Tbsp sugar
  3. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1 1/4c milk
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 1/2tsp vanilla
  8. 3Tbsp butter, melted
Combine dry ingredients. Blend in milk, eggs and vanilla. Once combined add melted butter. Let stand 10min (while griddle heats up)

Cook on griddle heated to 350 degrees. Cook until bubbles begin to pop, then flip and cook another 2-3min.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My friend has gone vegan so now I’m intrigued with this way of eating and searching for recipes that she might use (French fries are on the list – how bad can this be?).  Did you know that honey is not considered vegan? (or at least there is a debate, but strict vegans say that since it is made by bees, then it is not true to the definition of vegan which is “someone who chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products.”)  The granola recipe on the blog would not qualify unless you use the karo, molasses or maple instead of the honey.  The Trail Mix would qualify, in case you were considering becoming vegan too.

Tapenade is a good appetizer and not one that you see everyday.  It’s easy to make in your food processor and you can pair it with a variety of different foods: serve it with French bread slices toasted with olive oil, in seeded cherry tomato halves (try using a small melon baller, a grapefruit spoon or a small paring knife), on endive leaves or cucumber slices, as a dip for your favorite vegetables or as a spread on a sandwich.

  1. 1 (6 oz) jar pitted kalamata olives (about 1 ½ c)
  2. 1 T drained capers
  3. 1 T sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
  4. 1 t lemon juice
  5. 1 small garlic clove
  6. ¼ t fresh ground pepper
  7. 2-3 T olive oil
  8. ½ c sun dried-tomatoes, drained, but reserve the oil
Place ingredients #1-6 in food processor and pulse.  Gradually add in olive oil and continue to pulse until the mixture forms a coarse paste. 

For a little different twist (fyi, 4 out of 5 surveyed preferred this variation), add some sun-dried tomatoes to the tapenade.  Follow the directions above (ingredients 1-6 + 8), pulse, then add 1 T of the oil from sundried tomatoes and pulse some more.  The tomatoes give it a sweeter flavor and mute the acidic kick of the olives. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Whole Roasted Chicken

Have you come off of your sugar high yet?  After eating that sheath cake all weekend, the gym is calling my name.  Most days I just don’t answer.

I know that a whole roast chicken is available at every store around: Central Market (David’s favorite), Whole Foods ($1 off on Wednesdays), eatZi’s, Boston Market, Kuby’s (smoked chicken)… yes, it is super convenient to pick this up and I often do.  However, if I am in the mood to have home cooked and have an hour to bake, it really is pretty easy.  The recipes that I have found and tried are basically the same with a few variations of flavoring: Joy of Cooking – butter and salt;  Ruth Reichl, Garlic and Sapphires (book club - loved it!) - olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) - butter, salt and pepper, lemon, herbs.

Side story – in Ina’s recipe, it provides directions to “Remove any ... leftover pin feathers....”  Has anyone ever bought a chicken that still has pin feathers?  Really – where?  She puts the true meaning into “farm fresh.” (Since the original post, some helpful readers have enlightened me: kosher chickens tend to have pin feathers.  Thanks for making me wiser!).

The short, basic version for all of these is:

Roasted Chicken
Butter (left) - Olive Oil (right)
  1. 1 whole chicken (about 4-5 lbs)
  2. Butter or olive oil
  3. Salt and pepper
  4. Additional herbs and vegetables, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 (Ina cooks at 425).

Rinse and pat dry the chicken.  Grease (with oil, butter or Pam) your shallow roasting pan or baking sheet.  Brush or rub the chicken with butter (2-3 T) or olive oil.  Liberally sprinkle the skin and the cavity with salt and pepper.

Bake for 55-65 minutes (for 4 lb chicken – if you have a larger chicken, cook 8 minutes more for each additional lb) until the thickest part of the breast reaches 170-175 degrees (using your handy dandy meat thermometer!). 

If you want to cook some vegetables with the chicken, then consider adding these around the chicken in the pan: yellow or white onion, sliced or cut into chunk pieces; carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks; fennel, tops removed and cut into wedges; Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 pieces; 3-4 garlic cloves.  Prior to placing in the dish, toss the veggies with olive oil until lightly coated then spread in the pan around the chicken – you can also sprinkle some salt and pepper on them too. 

Some recipes suggest placing a lemon in the cavity by either puncturing it first or cutting the lemon in half.  You can also place thyme sprigs and/or garlic cloves in there too.  It depends on the flavors that you like.

As you can see from the picture, we had a bake off.  The butter (chicken on the left) made a browner skin.  The oil (chicken on the right) made a bigger mess of my oven.  David claimed that he couldn't taste the difference.  There you have it - very scientific and definitive.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate Sheath Cake

I warned you that this day was coming.  If it’s too much, then look away.  As I was making the icing, David looked in the saucepan and said “I didn’t know there was a stick of butter in there.”  I lied and told him that it wasn't real.  Good thing he didn’t see the other 2 sticks that are part of the cake batter! 

I am not above making cake or brownies from a box but this recipe – again from my mom – is worth the extra measuring.  There are 3 ways to top it – traditional (with pecans); allergy-free (no pecans); and the 8 and under set (with marshmallows).  It actually tastes better the day after you make it – my problem is that I can’t wait that long. 

Chocolate Sheath Cake
  1. 2 c flour
  2. 2 c sugar
  3. 3 sticks of butter, divided
  4. 8 T cocoa, divided
  5. 1 c water
  6. ½ c buttermilk (to make buttermilk, pour almost ½ c milk and add 2 t distilled white vinegar, mix and let sit for a few minutes)
  7. 2 eggs, beaten
  8. 1 t baking soda
  9. 2 t vanilla, divided
  10. 6 T milk
  11. 4 c powdered sugar
  12. 1 c chopped pecans (obviously don’t use if someone has a nut allergy or substitute with mini-marshmallows instead – just top the icing once it’s on the cake and press down so the marshmallows adhere to the icing)
Preheat over to 400. 

Sift together the flour and sugar (ingredients 1-2).

Place 2 sticks of butter, 4 T of cocoa and 1 c water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour this mixture over the sugar/flour mix.  Stir well.

To this cake mixture, add ingredients 6-8 and 1 t vanilla.  Mix well and pour into a jelly roll pan.  Bake for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

5 minutes prior to the cake coming out of the oven (this is a timing thing), bring to a boil 1 stick of butter, 4 T cocoa and 6 T milk.  Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl containing items 4 c powdered sugar, mix.  Add 1 t vanilla (and item #12, if you choose).  Pour onto cake immediately after the cake is removed from the oven.  The warmth of the cake and the liquidity of the frosting will allow you to easily spread it evenly and smoothly across the cake.  If you top with marshmallows, press them gently into the icing so they adhere. 

Try to let the cake cool before taking a bite – it will be challenging - and pour yourself a tall glass of milk.

Joy of Cooking

I love a great deal and for 2 days you can get one!  Groupon is selling "The Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition" from BookPal for $12 (retail: $35) + $5.95 S&H.  If you don't have this cookbook, you should add it to your collection - it has some of the best "basic" and "classic" recipes around (and be sure to try the apple pie II, chocolate bread pudding, chocolate pecan pie...)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Trail Mix

This trail mix is served in the pro shop where the kids have tennis lessons.  The staff says that they get it from Costco but since (a) I don’t have a membership at Costco and (b) I probably couldn’t eat a Costco size bag of trail mix, I reverse engineered it (my techie friends will understand that one) and this tastes pretty close.

Trail Mix

  1. 1 c almonds, unsalted and dry roasted
  2. 1 c cashews, unsalted and dry roasted
  3. 1 c peanuts, unsalted and dry roasted
  4. 1 c walnuts
  5. 1 c raisins
  6. ½ c sunflower seeds
  7. 1 c chopped dates
You can make this to any quantity you want (meaning: if you want to try it first before committing, cut all quantities in half or quarter and see what you think).  Just measure and mix.  If you sprinkle in some M&Ms, you might actually get your kids to eat it too.

Happy Birthday M!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chinese Chicken with Pasta

How many ways can I cook chicken and still get the kids to eat it?  Mixing it with pasta is always a good bet (another is wrapping it in a tortilla or serving it with a sauce like ketchup or BBQ – what is your secret?).  This is really a combination of a few, different recipes so try them both and have your own taste test. 

    Chinese Chicken with Pasta
  1. Chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  2. Olive oil
  3. Kosher salt
  4. Ground black pepper
  5. 1 bunch asparagus
  6. Red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite size pieces, optional
  7. Thin spaghetti
  8. 1-2 T toasted sesame seeds
  9. Scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced, optional
Dressing #1
  1. ½ c vegetable oil
  2. 1/8 c apple cider vinegar
  3. 1/6 c soy sauce
  4. 1 ½ T toasted sesame oil
  5. ½ T honey
  6. 1 garlic clove, minced (or ½ t pre-minced garlic)
  7. 1 t peeled, grated fresh ginger (or ½ t ginger powder)
  8. salt and pepper to taste
Dressing #2
  1. ¼ c soy sauce
  2. 2 T brown sugar
  3. 1 T grated peeled fresh gingerroot (or ½ T ginger powder)
  4. 4 t Asian toasted sesame oil
Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-45 minutes (chicken should reach 170 degrees).  Allow to cool.  Once cooled, remove skin and pull meat from the bones.  Cut into bite size pieces.

To cook asparagus, either cut into bite size pieces (about 2 inches long) and sauté in 1 T vegetable oil or blanch (whole) in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from boiling water and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain and then cut into bite size pieces.

Boil water and cook spaghetti per directions on the box (about 8 minutes).  Drain.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for either dressing #1 or #2.  Combine pasta, asparagus, chicken and red bell pepper (optional) and then pour your selected dressing over the entire mixture.  Mix.  Top with toasted sesame seeds and scallions, if desired.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sea Bass

This recipe comes from fellow cook, mom and blog follower, Susan B.  I am grateful to have a fish recipe as I am not very proficient in this area and the sea bass was not fishy tasting at all.  To me, fish is either shellfish or fried.  Neither of which falls into the “healthy in 2012” campaign which is still going strong after 5 days but I’m starting to feel the need for some chocolate cake soon. 

Sea Bass
Back to Susan - somehow she finds time to cook while being a full-time professional, mom to 2 active boys, wife, cyclist, painter…  She is a great cook even if she doesn’t wash her lettuce (she claims that it’s triple-washed – read the package).

  1. 2 - 6oz sea bass fillets about 3/4 in thick
  2. 2 T fresh lime juice
  3. 1 1/2 T soy sauce
  4. 1 T chopped fresh cilantro
  5. 1 T  chopped peeled fresh ginger
  6. 1 T minced shallot
  7. 5 t olive oil, separated
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  

Whisk ingredients #2-6 + 3 t olive oil in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Of course, fresh ingredients are always preferred but don't feel guilty if you have bottled lime juice or ground ginger powder (although use half the ginger if not using fresh).

Brush a 9 inch round or square baking dish with the remaining 2 t olive oil.  Arrange fish in the prepared dish and turn to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spoon ½ T sauce over each fillet.  Roast fish until just opaque in center, about 10-15 minutes (depends on thickness of fish).  Serve (over rice is nice) and top with remaining sauce.

Try it on halibut or other hearty (and probably less expensive) white fish.  Be sure to add this one to your repertoire.

Meat Thermometer

A meat thermometer can quickly and easily tell you the temperature of your meat, chicken, lamb, turkey...  No more guessing and I'm not good enough to determine "doneness" by "firmness."

I like the Maverick Redi Fork Pro - it's electronic and has an easy guide on the panel for each type of meat's recommended temperatures.

Meat Thermometer

Food and Exercise Tracking - Online Tool

Whether you want to lose weight or simply educate yourself by tracking the food that you eat, the calories you consume or the activity that you do and the effect that these have on your weight, MyFitnessPal is a helpful and easy online tool.  It's free too!

Measuring Cup with Fat Separator

Measuring Cup with Fat Separator
My mom bought me this and at first, I thought it was kind of silly (sorry, mom).  But this thing really works and I feel less guilty knowing that the fat is being left behind and just the juice is going back on the meat.  I guess mom really does know best.

Oxo offers 2 cup and 4 cup options.

Nut Chopper

Nut Chopper
For the times that you need chopped nuts and feel like doing them yourself (or ask the kids to do the work for you), use this handy tool.

I have this one from Williams-Sonoma, search on “nut chopper.”  Target and Bed Bath and Beyond carry one by Progressive International.

Meat Tenderizer

Use a meat tenderizer to flatten chicken and tenderize meats.  There are 2 sides - a flat side for pounding and a textured side for tenderizing. 

Meat Tenderizer

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Turkey Breast

David is by far the healthiest eater in our family.  Despite all the salads and turkey sandwiches, he wasn’t losing weight so he went to a nutritionist.  After mumbling about “waste of my time” and “tell me something new”, he started to implement her strategy of portion control, decreasing the amount of salad dressing he used and becoming more aware of food’s sodium levels and started to see results. 

I, however, am not willing to give up my occasional Oreo cookie so my doctor suggested that I track my caloric intake with an online tool like MyFitnessPal.  It was such an eye opener.  The tool made me aware of just how much food I was consuming and educated me on how the calories can quickly add up (and how if I exercised, I had more calories to spare!)  So I will treat myself to an Oreo here and there, but maybe not 6 at a time – the tool is counting!

During David’s quest for healthier eating, we started cooking this turkey breast.  With a half turkey breast (about 4-5 lbs), there is plenty for dinner and then for a few sandwiches during the week. 

Turkey Breast
Here is a link to Barefoot Contessa’s original recipe.  Below is a modified version using ingredients that most of us probably already have in our pantry.

  1. 1 bone-in turkey breast (see above – we cook a half breast, about 4-5 lbs)
  2. 1 T minced garlic (3 cloves)
  3. 2 t dry mustard
  4. ½ T rosemary (or 1 T chopped fresh)
  5. ½ T sage (or 1 T chopped fresh)
  6. ½ t thyme (or 1 t chopped fresh)
  7. 2 t kosher salt
  8. 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  9. 2 T olive oil
  10. 2 T lemon juice (mine comes from a bottle)
  11. 1 C dry white wine (if you don’t want to open a bottle just for this, try a cooking wine like Holland House.  If you don’t have wine, use chicken broth instead.  The liquid just helps keep the turkey from drying out and provides a nice juice when serving.)
Preheat the oven to 325.  Place the turkey breast in a pan, skin side up.

Combine items #2-10 to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers.  Pour half of the paste directly on the meat and the rest evenly on the skin. Pour the wine onto the bottom of the pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown.  The time always varies for me (aka, it’s usually longer) and I definitely use my instant-read thermometer (like a Maverick Redi Fork Pro) to make sure the turkey reaches 165 degrees (test the thickest and meatiest parts of the breast). If the turkey is starting to get brown and crispy on top, place some aluminum foil loosely over the breast and keep cooking.  When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.  Pour the pan juices into a measuring cup with a fat separator (Oxo makes a 2 cup and 4 cup).  This will help you pour just the juice, not the fat, over the sliced turkey. 

Happy Birthday G, J and E!

Monday, January 2, 2012


The holidays are over and I don’t know about you but I’m feeling large. 

Side story – David was filling out some forms the other day which included providing our weight.  That statement alone should give you a sense of where this is headed.  He wrote down “x” for me (go with it – it’s to protect the innocent) and let’s just say that “x” was like my weight in high school.  So in a follow-up interview, I corrected the information to be “x+15” (again, go with it) and the lady on the other end of the line begins the inquisition with “Your husband says ‘x’ – you say ‘x+15’.  Which is it?”  To which I reply “do you mean before or after the holidays?”  She was not amused and we proceeded to the next question.  So let’s try to eat healthy (at least for a few days) and then we’ll move on from that new year’s resolution because there are too many good recipes out there to ignore even if it means getting busted by some uptight woman who believes that your husband would actually know what you weigh. 

My Uncle Willy (the banana bread recipe is his too) makes his own granola.  If we’re visiting and he has extra on hand, he’ll send us home with a container.  Since we don’t get to Houston as often as we’d like, he gave me the recipe.  The first time that I made it he asked “how did you adjust the recipe?”  I just laughed.  I figure that recipes are written for a reason and that’s for me to follow them.

Here's to a happy and healthy new year!!

UPDATED: The original post has been modified with a another granola recipe submitted by TBM reader and contributor, Stacey W.

Uncle Willy's Granola
  1. 4 C oats
  2. ½ C wheat germ
  3. ¼ C sunflower seeds
  4. ½ C chopped pecans
  5. ½ C chopped walnuts
  6. ½ C chopped almonds (skin on)
  7. 1 t cinnamon
  8. ½ C brown sugar (dark or light, according to preference)
  9. 1/3 C vegetable oil (or any other oil, except olive, according to preference)
  10. 4 T honey (or karo or molasses or maple or a combination, according to preference)
  11. ½ C water
  12. 1 t vanilla
Mix ingredients #1-6 together.  Other than the oats, all other items can be increased, decreased or eliminated all together, depending on preference.

Combine items #7-12 together in a pot.  Warm them slightly on a stove burner – they will combine and dissolve easier). 

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture and mix well.  Spread out on a baking dish or jelly-roll pan.  Depending on your desired crunchy-ness, bake at 325 degrees for at least an hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. (For very brown and crunchy granola, your baking time may exceed one hour.  It also depends how shallow your mixture is on the baking dish.)

When cooled, consider adding raisins, chopped dates, chopped prunes, dried cranberries - just about any dried fruit.  Store in an air tight container.

Stacey's Granola
1.      7 cups rolled oats
2.      1 cup wheat germ
3.      1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
4.      1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
5.      1 cup chopped almonds
6.      1/2 cup coconut oil
7.      1/2 cup honey
8.      1/2 cup boiling water
9.      1/4 cup brown sugar
10.  1/2 teaspoon salt
11.  1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Boil water.  Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, wheat germ, coconut, sunflower seeds and almonds.  In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, honey, boiling water, brown sugar, salt and vanilla.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until evenly coated.  Spread in a thin layer onto two large baking sheets.  Bake for 2 hours. Switch racks every 30 minutes for even baking. Granola will crisp up more when cooled.