Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pretzels and Cooking with Kids

I have mentioned before that some of my fondest memories with my grandmother and Mom have been cooking together in the kitchen, for holidays and at the restaurant.

I find that as my older kids prepare to leave the nest in the next few years I am more focused on making sure they have recipes available that they can easily find (the blog), they have the basics down (rice, steamed veggies, smoothies, etc) for healthy eating in college and that they have memories to cherish.

I hope that they understand and know that homemade food taste better and it's often times, better for you.  I do realize that life happens and they will have to figure out busy schedules, budgets and roommates and at times food may not be that big of a priority as it is to me.

We have tried to teach them to read labels, shop as local as they can (Farmers Markets, CSA's), choose lean meat, eat plenty of fish, drink lots of water and exercise every day.

Isabella, our 5 year old, loves to cook and be in the kitchen.  As we planned out her homeschooling weeks, I felt it was important that she have some class time in the kitchen.  I needed a recipe that could be done in about an hour, one that she could help with her hands and that would teach her a few things (measuring, portions, time management).

I was thrilled when Melissa from Chindeep shared on her blog that she and her daughter, Gracie had made pretzels.

I would be able to teach Isabella how to measure flour, to read all of the instructions of a recipe FIRST ( I helped her with most of the reading) and how to use a timer.  It was a great first recipe for us.

 I am here to promise you that these pretzels are the best!  There is that taboo word, but, they quite simply are the best that I have ever made.  In my past attempts at making pretzels, they always lacked something….the chewy tender texture.

Well, this is what I love about this recipe.  It taste just like any pretzel you buy at the mall and even better!

The batch makes 12 and Isabella and I were surprised when they quickly disappeared in about 30 minutes. The family wanted more!

Today, we decided to make them again.  This time I was hoping to switch out some of the plain white flour for spelt (a type of whole wheat flour that some people can eat easier than regular whole wheat).  It's always a bit nerve wracking when you take a perfect recipe and try to change things a bit.  You just never know what you will get.

My house soon smelled like fresh wheat bread was baking in the oven.  This was a good sign.  They baked up great.  The taste was just like a wheat pretzel.


Recipe:  Homemade Pretzels
Adapted from Chindeeps recipe

for the dough:

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon of yeast

2 cups warm water

Soda wash:

1/4 cup of baking soda

1 cup of warm water

Add yeast and sugar to warm water. Let rise for about 4 minutes.

In Kitchenaid, add flour and salt.  When yeast has activated, add to the flour.

Mix until combined and then knead for 6 minutes. Turn your oven to 500 degrees.

 I had Isabella measure everything into its own bowl and then I went back and double checked as I added the ingredients to the Kitchen Aid mixer.  She did really well measuring everything.

Let dough rise for 30 minutes.  When a few minutes are left on the rise time, prepare your warm water and baking soda mixture.

 For some reason, my kitchen cupboards are ice cold.  I microwaved my glass bowl for 45 seconds so that the dough went into a warm bowl.

Have two cookie sheets ready to go.  Dump your dough onto your table and cut it into 12 sections.  I usually cut the dough in half, then those halves are split in half again. From the four quarters on the table, you should be able to get three smaller sections which will total 12 small mounds of dough.

Spray your table with Pam and start rolling your dough into long "snakes, about 20 inches. 

Dip each pretzel in the soda wash, and place 6 on each baking sheet.

Have your oven trays so that one is in the middle and one below that.  Add your sheets together.  Let them cook for 4 minutes and then switch the trays.  If you want your pretzels to be darker then just add an extra minute or two.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

 I brushed with butter when they got out of the oven and then sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar or salt.

Enjoy your day!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rice and Beans

Recently I have been caught in that gap between being a MOM and being a professional.  Sometimes the two worlds work really well together and sometimes they don't.

I recently read an article about a blogger who was sued for her opinion.  Granted it was a pretty strong opinion(s) and it went too far. $2.3 million has gotta hit you pretty hard in the pocketbook.

I then read an article about the "forbidden word list".  Really?  I had no idea a list even existed.

I loved the article about home bloggers not being Chefs.  (rolling eyes)  Don't get me wrong, I understand the difference between the two but do we have to always elevate ourselves above another human.  Not to mention I have many blogging friends who are indeed chefs too.

Then there are the countless articles about balancing career and motherhood.  My opinion is that some of us do it very well and some don't.  Then there are those of us in the middle that could easily qualify as a circus act.  You know the one, she spins all of these plates on long wooden dowels hoping that they don't fall.  She has perfected the art of keeping them all spinning, maybe not all fast, but they keep moving.

I felt a little overwhelmed this week with so much information being thrown my way. I actually started to doubt myself on so many levels.  

The simple truth is this.  I blog about food.  I take pictures.  I create recipes.  I make other bloggers recipes.  I am a Mom first.  A wife.  I write.  I share.  I am happy.

I don't need validation from another journalist, because quite simply I don't have a journaling degree. I just love to tell the stories that are surrounded around the food that I make and eat.  I have to remind myself that I started this blog for my kids, my nieces, and nephews…my family.  I write for them and for my readers. 

 Do I make mistakes?  Absolutely. 

 Do I use stupid words like…yummy, EVOO (technically not a word..but it was on the list), foodie, etc

It's who I am.  

I don't need to compete with chefs.   I have cooked for 30+ years.  I am by all respects a home cook and proud of this fact.  I learned from my grandmother and Mom. Believe me, if I had to do a few things over in my life, I would have gone to school to become a chef.  Back then, my passion for food was different and I chose to focus on different things, like photography.   I think what got me the most was last night I watched Chopped.  They had a very experienced chef up against one young girl in particular who was still "learning" to be a chef.  She was humble and grateful.  I loved watching her.  The other was pompous and rude.  He was shocked when he lost to someone of her "abilities".

To the chefs of the world: I am not trying to take your job.  I value your cookbooks and buy them frequently.  I love your cooking shows.  Many of you are my heroes in the kitchen.  With this said though,  am I not allowed to attempt making a few of the things that you make without being looked down upon for "copying" a recipe?  It's challenging to make croissants, the perfect hollandaise sauce, and curd.  It's actually inspiring to those of us kitchen cooks when something turns out that once appeared to be daunting.   Our readers like to see that something fabulous can easily be made by someone who hasn't had the professional training that a chef has had.  

I am not going to deny the fact that doing a blog is a lot of work.  It's a lot of pressure that I put on myself.  I could easily walk away from it all but I love what I do.   I remember once when I went to a photography group in UT and the discussion turned to the market being flooded by photographers.  They felt that every Tom, Dick, and Harry had a camera and they were paranoid about their businesses being taken away or dropping.   I was surprised when they admonished the photographers in the group to stop mentoring their friends and families about taking pictures because "we don't need any more photographers".   Suffice it to say, I did not go back.  

I don't live by that fear and "lack of " mentality.  If there is anything this blogging world and my fan page has taught me is this.

1.  There is plenty to go around.

2.  As cooks and bloggers we come in all shapes and sizes.  

3.  Every day there are new people being introduced to the love and passion of cooking.

4.  Staying positive is the kind of motivation I want in my life.

5.  There is a balance that only you/I can make and determine.

6.  Becoming the next Rachel Ray/Martha Stewart never crossed my mind.  I admire those that seek after this type of spot light but it is not something I want.  I like being little ol' me.

This is my passion, my joy and my journey.  I have my families support and best wishes.  At the end of the day I am happy.

I am happy to cook, to do the dishes, to print off new recipes, to talk with my fan page friends, to take a few pictures (ok, a lot of pictures), to inspire others.  Bottom line is that I am happy being a food blogger and a food photographer.  I am always trying to better myself and I will continue to read these articles that are shared on line.  I believe we are all  teachers, but mostly students, and I enjoy learning.  I just wish  sometimes that it was not an us and them mentality but one of unity and support.

Despite all of the supposed rules, formats and opinions I still have to be me and true to who I am at the end of the day.

I am sharing a recipe with you that I printed off, started to make and then added my own twist to it.  I quilt the same way.  I start off with a pattern and then make changes.  

I printed this recipe for Cuban Black Beans and I honestly had every intention of following it to a tee.  After tasting the final result, it lacked a little something and so I added an extra spice and some chicken broth to deepen the flavor a bit.  So I am just going to call it rice and beans.  

Recipe: Rice and Beans

1 T. olive oil
1 cup of diced bell peppers
1/2 cup of red onion
1 tsp. of minced garlic
1 can of black beans, drained
1 cup of chicken broth
1-2 tsp. of cumin
1/2 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of oregano
1 bay leaf, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of left over rice, I used Minnesota Wild Rice

diced avocados
blanco queso cheese, crumbled

In a large sauce pan, saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil.  Add the can of drained black beans and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the rice, chicken broth, spices and herbs.  Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally.  The chicken broth with reduce and you will have a thick batch of rice and beans.

I served the rice and beans with a large basket of corn tortilla chips.  I also topped the rice and beans with fresh avocado and blanco queso cheese.  This cheese can be found at most grocery stores in the cheese section.  I learned that the cheese that is "squishy" is the one to use for cheese dips and the firmer variety is easier to use in these types of dishes.

I served this dish with grilled veggies and jalapeno poppers made on my grill.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Salmon Taco's

Our weather in Maryland has been fantastic!  I mean how can you argue with 70-degree temperatures in March?  You can't!  

When the time changed and our days became longer,  we yearn for the smell of BBQ and grilled meats and vegetables.

At least my family does.  The first time we light the grill we know summer nights and days at the beach are right around the corner.

I try to cook fish for my family once or twice a week.  One of our favorites is salmon.  I usually marinate it or steam it in foil.

On this day, I decided to openly grill the whole filet right on the rach.  I have to admit it was a bit scary.  It was a lot of money to waste if, for some reason, it did not turn out, burned or fell through the cracks.

I was pleasantly surprised that the salmon cooked just fine!  It tasted wonderful too.  I seasoned it very simply…OLD BAY SEASONING.  If you live in Maryland you know that this is our "salt", "secret spice" and "little piece of heaven".  

Marylanders love this seasoning.  It's true.

Our dinner that night was wonderful!  I served it with grilled zucchini, parmesan couscous and garlic shrimp. 

So what do you do with leftovers?  Make tacos.

I have to say,  the tacos were pretty dang good.  I used the sweet chili sauce and this blew them out of the ball park.  


Recipe:  Salmon Taco's

Grilled Salmon, I used our leftovers from the night before
1 mango, sliced into strips
grilled zucchini
taco shells
sweet chili sauce

To grill the salmon:  Take a filet and season with Old Bay Seasoning or a combination of spices that your family enjoys.  Lay the salmon on an oiled grill and cook 4-6 minutes on each side.  This, of course, will depend on how hot your grill gets.  You know it's done when it starts to flake or is firm to the touch.

To grill the zucchini:  I used a mandolin and sliced the zucchini lengthwise 1/4 inch.  I added salt, pepper and olive oil.  I laid them across the grill and cooked them on each side for about 2-3 minutes.

Assembly:  Cook your corn shells, slice your mango, pull apart the salmon, prepare the cilantro and warm the zucchini strips.  You can add just about anything to make these taco's fit into your family's taste sphere.

I served them with a store-bought sweet chili sauce because I liked the sweet and spicy sauce paired with the salmon and corn tortilla.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Carrot Cake

I did not grow up eating carrot cake.  I don't even remember my grandma making a carrot cake, EVER.  So I was caught off guard when I had the urge to make one myself.

I could not stand eating cooked carrots as a kid.  Just the smell would send me running to the bathroom in horror.  Raw carrots were okay once in a while, just not the cooked ones.

I can remember being at a church event about 20 years ago and being presented with the opportunity to test someone's "famous" dish.  Not wanting to say no or be unkind, I agreed.  We walked back to the kitchen and there before me was a HUGE bowl of cooked carrots that had been prepared with a ginger flavored sauce.

I found myself in an uncomfortable position….what to do, what to do.

Mentally I was freaking out, and outwardly I had the appearance of a refined lady.  I smiled, took the plate and took the first bite.  I waited.  I expected the carrots to remind me that they were not accepted by my body and to take off running to the nearest bathroom.  

I waited some more…and nothing!  I had been cured of my aversion to cooked carrots.  YEAH! 

To this day, I don't go out of my way to make them often, but I did get the recipe for the carrots I tasted above and have served them several times through out the last few years.  I will search for that recipe and share them this summer when I get some fresh carrots from the farmers market.

My feelings for this vegetable might explain why my family never made carrot cake…LOL  

I chose this recipe to make because it had so many fun ingredients: coconut, pineapple, pecans and carrots.  I felt like it would be a tropical paradise in every bite…and it was!    The title for this recipe has the word "best" included in it.  I can tell you for a fact that every recipe with this word does not make it the best every time.  I have been disappointed and so went into this with an understanding that it may or may not be the BEST.

I can tell you, after the fact, that it is pretty close to being the perfect carrot cake recipe.  I delivered half of this cake to my neighbor and he LOVED it, my husband ate the other half (just about) and the kids thought it was good too.

The cake is beautiful when cut, holds it's shape, stays moist and as it sits for a few days in the fridge, becomes a little bit better.

My daughter who is 5 is always telling me, "Mommy, when I am older, I will like that food".  She is much wiser then I ever was at her age.  She is right.  Our taste buds change and develop as we age and it's always a good idea to try new things throughout your life time.  I am glad that I did and the carrot lesson taught me to revisit some food items from my past that were not my favorites.  Since then I have discovered that I enjoy: beets, grits, beans, blue cheese and of course, carrots.

Enjoy your day!

Recipe:  Carrot Cake 

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Line 2 round cakepans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Stir together first 4 ingredients.
Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in carrot and next 3 ingredients. Pour batter into prepared cakepans.
Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Cut the cakes in half so that you have four layers.  Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.  See below to frost your cake with out having a ton of crumbs to deal with.

Recipe:  Cream Cheese Frosting

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
5-6 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
3-4 T. milk,  I used coconut milk

Pictures below of instructions:

I shredded my own carrots.  One cup was about 2 medium size carrots.

I filled the cake pans this full and they baked wonderfully.  I was able to cut the cakes in half and this gave my my four layers.

Having the parchment in the bottom of the pans is amazing!  Your cakes will never stick.  Use a pencil to trace the bottom of your pan onto the parchment paper and cut out the circles.  Place them in the bottom and spray with oil and flour.  When your cake is done, turn them over onto a rack and peal off the paper.

Stack your slices and add the frosting to each layer.  Take a basting brush and dust off any crumbs on the plate and on the sides of the cake.  When frosting a cake you do not want lots of crumbs in your final layer of frosting.  By brushing off the crumbs you will eliminate some of this.

The next step is the under layer of frosting.  This is important because this the layer that traps those final crumbs.  I usually do a thin layer to fill in any holes and gaps, level the cake, and insure that the crumbs are all under control.  I take this cake and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  When I add the final layer of frosting it is amazing out simple and easy the process is.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beef Noodle Soup

If I had to eat one style of food for the rest of my life it would be a toss-up between Italian and Asian. 

 We love the flavors of Japan, Korea, and Thailand.  I don't eat a lot of Chinese food because everything I like is fried…LOL  

I love rice and noodles.  I love soups.  We love the flavors of soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, spicy, sweet and salty.  These are the flavors that I find when we cook Asian meals.  

I always feel good after eating a meal like these because they are not heavy and usually have a ton of veggies.

This soup can be made without noodles too.  In fact, I usually make the noodles separate and add the noodles to each bowl and then pour the soup over it.  The broth is the best part, in my opinion, and so when the noodles are all gone and the veggies have been fished out…I still keep the broth and have it for a quick lunch the next day.  No need to waste the tastiness of this yummy soup.

The broth is what always remains the same and the veggies or meat change base on what I have on hand.  You are seeing two sets of pictures from two different days of preparation.  You can really customize this dish to what you and your family enjoy.

Recipe:  Beef Noodle Soup

1 package of Asian noodles.  I use the Ho Fan (Vermicelli)  These work best for us.  You can use any rice noodle that your family enjoys.

2-3 cups of meat.  I have used chicken, shrimp, and beef in this recipe with excellent results. I usually don't mix the three types of meat, but you could if you like that combination.

10 cups of beef broth  It sounds like a lot, but our family loves this soup and we eat it for two days.

1/3 cup of soy sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce

1 head of bok choy

5 cups of veggies:  carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, garlic, or anything your family enjoys.

cilantro for garnish

Prepare your noodles according to the package.  Read your directions for the noodles.  Depending on which noodles you buy they have different preparation methods and this can mess you up if you have to let your noodles soak for 30+ minutes.

In a large pot, add your broth, soy sauce, and fish sauce.  You will want to taste your broth to make sure the flavor is to your liking.  Some like more fish sauce and soy sauce.   I have given you the minimum recommended amount.

Cook your meat.  I have used ground hamburger, sliced flank steak, grilled chicken or precooked shrimp.

Prepare all of your veggies :

Carrots: sliced or shredded
Mushrooms: sliced or whole
bok choy: I leave about 3 inches of white rib and then slice the leaves in 1-inch strips.
onion: sliced or diced
garlic: minced
bell pepper: diced

Throw these veggies and your meat into your hot broth.  Stirring occasionally to mix the things that float to the top of your pot.  This should cook for about 15 minutes.

In a soup bowl, add your noodles.  Top with broth and veggies.  I like to serve mine with cilantro if I have it on hand….it tastes amazing!


Purple Potato Chips

I love discovering new things to play within the kitchen.  Discovering these purple potato's was so much fun!

I am encouraging you to try and find purple potatoes and surprise your friends or family with purple potato chips.  


Recipe:  Purple Potato Chips

This is David Leite's recipe from Leite's Culinaria.  His site and the original recipe can be found here. My notes are in red.

Peanut or canola oil for frying I used canola.
2 large baking potatoes, peeled if desired I used purple potatoes

1. Pour enough oil to reach a depth of 2 3/4 inches in a deep fryer or a large, deep pot. Do not overfill the fryer or pot as the oil will bubble up when the potatoes are added. Heat the oil to 325°F (163°C). Line a baking sheet with a paper bag cut open or with a wire cooling rack and place it next to the stove.
Reaching this temperature takes longer than you think, this was my error in the past.  Using a thermometer made a huge difference for my chips.
2. Meanwhile, set up a turning vegetable slicer with the straight blade. Cut off both ends of a large baking potato and attach one end of the potato to the grip at the end of the handle; the other end of the potato should sit flush against the blade. Turn the handle, pushing toward the potato with gentle pressure. The potato will rotate through the blade, forming extremely long ribbons of potato.
I used my mandolin set on the smallest width and sliced them into a bowl of water.  With 5 small potatoes, I got about 3 cups of chips.
3. Place the potatoes on paper towels and pat dry; they should be very, incontrovertibly dry before they go into the hot oil, as any residual moisture will cause the oil to bubble up and spatter even more.
4. Carefully add some of the potato ribbons to the hot oil, working in batches. Add only enough potatoes to make a layer that is no more than 2 inches thick. Fry the potatoes until they are golden brown on the bottom. Using long tongs, gently turn the potatoes over. Continue to fry until the potatoes are evenly browned and crisp, about 6 minutes total, depending on the thickness of your ribbons.
I found with the purple potatoes, I knew they were done when they started to turn a slight brown color on the edges and middle…but not too much or you will burn them.
5. When the potatoes ruffles are done, use tongs to carefully lift them onto the paper bag or rack to drain. Serve the ruffles on a platter with a generous sprinkling of fleur de sel.
I found that the oriental round wire scoop that I bought to remove tempura veggies worked great to remove the chips.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms and Spinach

We have had the best weather this week…today we were over 70.  That is awesome in my book.  We actually never really had a winter in Maryland.  A few dustings of snow and cooler temperatures in the 30s at night but nothing like what we have experienced the last 24 years living in Colorado, Illinois, and UT.  

Wind, snow, blizzards, whiteouts and more snow! Not this year though…Yippee Skippee!

So why would I make soup on one of the nicest days we have had this 2012 year?  It's simple

We love soup.

My family is not picky about only eating soup when it's cold.  We like it all year long!  

Today I also made traditional Irish soda bread.  I used the recipe from Baking Sheet .  Click on the name and it will redirect you to their site.  It turned out really good and it was so simple to make.

I have fallen in love with the flavor and texture of Minnesota Wild Rice and try to use it often.  I already had the mushrooms and spinach that HAD to be used today and so this soup was created.  I think we all went back for seconds and thirds were out of the question because we ATE the WHOLE POT!

Soup and my Soda Bread.

Recipe:  Minnesota Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms and Spinach

5 cups of Chicken Broth
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup of sliced green onion
1 tsp minced garlic
3 T. butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup of milk
1 cup of cream
1 1/2 cup of fresh spinach
2 cups of Minnesota Wild Rice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare your wild rice first.  It takes at least an hour for this type of rice to be ready to use.  Follow the directions on the box.  I only used 2 cups of the rice but you can certainly add the whole 3 cups if you like.

In a large pot warm chicken broth.

In a saucepan melt butter.  Add garlic, green onions and mushrooms.  Toss to coat with butter and cook for 5 minutes.

Add flour, salt, and pepper to mushrooms and stir.  Cook over heat for a few minutes.

 Add mushroom mixture to broth and stir.  Add milk and cream and stir.  Your soup will thicken as it gets hotter and hotter.  I did not boil mine and turned off the heat right before this stage.

 I added the fresh spinach and let the hot soup cook the spinach.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes and your spinach should be soft and wilted.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rueben Eggrolls

Sometimes our Rueben sandwiches are messy.  They drip juice and our fingers and hands are sticky. With these little logs of heaven, our hands stayed dry.  Happy dance!

Now don't get me wrong, these will never replace my beloved Rueben sandwich but they are a close second, awesome treat, easy to serve, great appetizer and so tasty good!


Recipe:  Reuben Eggrolls

4-8 slices of Pastrami or Corned beef from the deli
8 slices of Swiss or Provolone Cheese
1 can Sauerkraut
12 eggroll wrappers, large

In a large pot start heating your oil.  I put about 2 inches.  Bring to a temperature that you can deep fry the eggrolls.  I usually test the oil first with the tip of the eggroll, if it starts to bubble then it is ready.

Mix equal parts of mayonnaise and ketchup for the sauce.  Depending on how many eggrolls you are serving will decide how much to make.

While the oil is heating, prepare your mixture.

I used 4 pieces of pastrami, diced. If you want more meat, by all means, add more. I used 8 slices of provolone, diced.  I used 1/2 cup of sauerkraut.  Mix together in a bowl.

Spread out your eggroll wrapper and put about 3 T. of the mixture inside.  Fold over one corner, then the sides and roll towards the last corner.  Use water to seal the ends to the eggroll.

Fry the eggroll until golden brown.  Mine took about 5-6 minutes.  You may need to turn them halfway through so that both sides get browned.

Let cool on a wire rack.  Cut diagonally and serve with the mayonnaise/ketchup sauce.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Recipe:  Chicken Lettuce Wraps

2 chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 T. Oyster Sauce
1 T. Hoisin Sauce
2 T. Soy Sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
2 tsp. corn starch


1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup of fresh mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of red onion,  diced small
2 small zucchini's, diced small

In a medium-size bowl add chicken pieces all of the ingredients listed under "chicken".  Set aside and let marinate for 15 minutes.  This gives you time to dice your veggies.

Dice and prepare your veggies according to the recipe.

You should have two bowls…one with chicken marinating and one with veggies.

In a pan, heat peanut oil and add veggies.  Saute for 4-5 minutes.  Remove and return to bowl.

In a pan, add more peanut oil and cook chicken with marinade.  The sauce will thicken a bit and should be watched and stirred so that it does not burn.

Once the chicken is cooked add the cooked veggies and stir.

Remove from your heat and serve with lettuce chunks.  I cut ahead in half and then in quarters.  I removed the very center parts and left the darker green parts of the lettuce.

Peanut Sauce makes a little over a half cup

3 T. peanut butter
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/4 tsp. minced ginger
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. soy sauce

I added all of the ingredients to a microwavable bowl, heated for 30 seconds, stirred and served.

It was tasty, easy and went well with the wraps.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola

As I was eating this latest version I felt like I was eating Chocolate Pebbles Cereal.  The little oatmeal flakes floated to the top of my bowl and my milk turned light brown.  I thought…could I make a Fruity Pebble flavor granola using different flavorings….my mind was on fire!   I will have to think long and hard to decide if I want to duplicate that very sweet cereal into granola.  It somehow doesn't seem right, but then again, it may be awesome too!

Recipe:  Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola

6 cups of oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of shaved coconut
1 cup of almond slivers

1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of maple syrup, the real syrup
2-4 T. peanut butter…the more you use the stronger the flavor.
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. EVOO
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips, I used Ghirardelli 60% chips.

Preheat oven to325.

In a large bowl mix the first 4 ingredients.  You can add other ingredients or substitute other things for what I have used.  Just try to keep measurements the same.

In a small pot, bring the honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, vanilla, and EVOO to a warm temperature…it does not have to boil.  Once the sauce is warm you can add the chocolate chips and stir to melt the chips.  Remove from heat and add to dry mix.

Stir well together to coat ALL of the oats and nuts.

Spread mix onto a large cookie sheet and start to bake.  The total bake time is about an hour.  You will need to stir the granola every 10 minutes.  If you do not stir, then you risk the possibility of burning a portion of the granola.

Let the granola cool and store in an airtight container.

Serve as cereal, on yogurt, ice cream or cobblers. ENJOY

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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