Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Turkey-Veggie Burgers

I make these turkey-veggie burgers once a month.  We eat a few then freeze some for later.  We all love the taste.  And as a mom who's good at sneaking in veggies into foods, I'm very happy with what goes into this burger and that my family gobbles them up every few weeks. 

I save the fattening, real-meat burgers for special outings and restaurant visits now.  This is my go-to recipe for around the house, baked burgers. 

You could probably put these on the grill too but since they're pretty moist, I've always been too afraid they'd fall apart. 

Here's the recipe:

Turkey-Veggie Burgers
(Makes 7 to 8 patties)

1 pound of ground turkey
1/2 cup of pureed broccoli 
1/2 cup of pureed (or shredded) carrots
1/2 cup of oats, old-fashioned rolled
1/2 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup of skim milk
2 Tbsp soy sauce, low sodium
1 Tbsp A-1 steak sauce (or use Worcestershire sauce)
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp honey mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (or combo of salt and pepper)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a large oven safe skillet with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients.  Form into seven or eight burger patties. 

Place into skillet that has been greased and warmed on the stove-top. Cook one side over medium heat for about seven to nine minutes. 

Flip burgers and then place entire skillet into oven.  Bake at 400 degrees for about ten to fifteen minutes. 
Carefully remove the skillet using a pot holder since the pan will be very hot!  Serve on bread or buns. 

Leftover burgers can be frozen in freezer safe storage bags for up to three months.  Reheat them in microwave. 

Would your family try these?  My friends and family are always amazed that they're eating a burger made of turkey and vegetables that taste this good! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Whole Wheat Biscuits

Who doesn't love flaky or golden, buttery biscuits?  I know I sure do.  Melt in your mouth yummy goodness.  But what I do NOT love is the amount of fat and calories that go into the store-bought or restaurant-style biscuits.  I shudder thinking about it.  And although these aren't a vast improvement, they certainly are way better because I make them with whole wheat and a lot less butter.  Yet they were still, surprisingly just as tasty that you were reaching for more.  From now on, I'm making these for my family.  Pillsbury can kiss my butt!  ;-P 

Whole Wheat Biscuits
(Makes 8)

 - 1 and 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour (I use the White Wheat kind by King Arthur - it's my favorite - great taste and not as harsh of a texture like other wheat flours!)
- 2 Tbsp sugar (or Splenda/Truvia alternatives)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp (1/2 of a stick) of butter (I use the light kind or Smart Balance) - 1/2 cup of fat-free or light buttermilk (or use regular milk with a drop of lemon juice)
- optional seasonings: dash of onion, garlic and Parmesan grated cheese (I used a 1/2 tsp combo of them all)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking or cookie pan then set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Sift and mix well.  Cut in your butter with a knife until it blends into the mixture and crumbles.  Pour in the buttermilk (or just regular milk with a drop of lemon).  Sprinkle in your seasonings if you decide to use any. 

Use your hands to mix and blend.  Now knead by shaping the flour mixture into a ball then flattening and pulling the edges outward and back inward into a ball.  Repeat for 8 - 10 times.  Now place the dough on a floured surface like wax or parchment paper.  Roll it out and use a round drinking glass to cut into circle.  Make them into circles that are about 2 inches think. 

(Note: I made mine too thin, closer to 1 and 1/2 inches.  They still came out tasting great but they were a bit crumbly when I went to slice them in half to butter them!)

Spread out on the baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until your desired brownness.  Let them cool for about 3-4 minutes before you cut them in half to butter them or place jam on them.  I served ours with dinner (spinach ravioli).  We all really enjoyed them! 

I hope you enjoy them too!  Try making your own biscuits so you can save yourself the calories and unwanted additives in store-bought biscuits!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Birthday Cake #3: Cookie Crumb Fudge Layer Cake (aka - the messiest cake ever!)

Now for the final event - the moment you've been waiting for.....  My third and final birthday cake!  Or as I've named it -- the messiest cake ever! 

It was so messy, I even had a casualty from baking it.  That's right I had to throw away a towel because it was so covered in cake and chocolate, I couldn't imagine it ever being clean again.

So Rest.In.Peace my dear kitchen towel - wasn't that a grand way to leave this earth?  Death by chocolate cake! 

And now for the recipe and disaster photos.  Then somehow I turned this MESSY cake into something quite amazing. 

Cookie Crumb Fudge Layer Cake

To make the cake:
(Makes 2 round 9-inch cakes, for a double layer)
3 cups of flour (I used organic, unbleached white)
4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of butter
4 eggs
1/8 cup of vanilla extract
1 cup milk (I used 1%)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, place your flour, baking powder and the pinch of salt.  Mix well and let it sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter together.  Then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat for about two minutes.  Pour in the milk and beat until smooth. 

Pour the batter evenly into the two greased cake pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven.  The cake should pull away slightly from the sides and be lightly brown, like this:

While the cakes are baking, you can start the prep work for the frosting and filling. 

To make the vanilla butter-cream frosting:

3 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 cup of butter (2 sticks, I used Smart Balance)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 Tbsp of whipping cream (I used fat-free evaporated milk)

In a large bowl, place the sugar and butter together.  Mix on low speed until blended.  Then increase the speed to medium and continue beating for another 3 minutes.  Add in the vanilla extract and whipping cream (or milk) and beat for another minute.  It should be creamy and smooth like frosting.

Be sure the cakes have cooled for an hour or longer before you begin frosting.  I've made that mistake many times - became hungry and greedy and tried to frost too soon and then pulled off half the cake by frosting it! 
I actually let my cakes cool overnight this time.

After the cakes are well cooled, transfer them to a new container (Tupperware, or other cake holder) and place wax paper beneath it.  Then frost the cakes.  It's fun and pretty, well at least in the beginning anyway....

Since I made a double-layer cake, I now needed to make the filling to put in between the two cakes.  

To make the filling
1 package regular Oreo (or similar sandwich style) cookies, half of them should be pureed into crumbs (about 2 cups).  The other half should be smashed and broken into bits. 

Place your Oreos in a food processor as whole cookies, like this:

Then puree them into bits, like this:

Or you can be totally lazy and buy an already used package of Oreo cookie crumbs.  I think I may do that next time!  Less work, less mess!

Once you've smashed up and broken several Oreo cookies, you'll place them directly on the frosted cake.  So they are part of the cake "filling."  Here is what mine looked like and here is where the problem started:

When you put this much on your cake, it kind of makes the second layer on top of it become lop-sided and awkward, like this:

For some reason, this reminded me of a strange-looking hamburger.  But WAIT, IT GETS WORSE!

After I put the frosting on it, the cake looked like tooth decay, like a dirty mouth beginning to rot.  What do you think?  (see below photo)

I should have stopped here.  I really should have.  But I kept going.  And things just got MESSIER and MESSIER.

After I did my best of frosting the cake, now comes the never-ending trail of topping.

For the cake topping:
1 can of chocolate syrup (fudge topping) - I used Hershey's syrup
2 cups (or a bit less or more) of the Oreo cookie crumbs - the ones you already pureed

Now is the time to put a towel or two or ten under your cake.  After your cakes are frosted, gently and slowly pour the chocolate fudge over the cakes.  Or be a rebel and get it everywhere like I did....

Cover the cakes as best as you can with the fudge.  Curse if you need to as you're wiping up chocolate from the table.  Or down the wall.  Or just wherever.  Once it's black and chocolatey,  place the cakes in your freezer for an hour so it can harden.   This is an important step - don't skip it!  (Be sure ahead of time you have room in your freezer for it!)

You'll still need those towels below it in the freezer.  Check out how MESSY mine was.  You can see chocolate dripping from the sides and even on the door!  Sheesh!

Again, just when you think it's going to be easier, things go DOWNHILL once again.  Because after you have froze the cake and hardened the fudge for an hour, you are now going to sprinkle (or pour or dump) the Oreo cookie crumbs all over it. 

Don't get carried away, like I did.  See unbelievable picture below!

I MEAN HONESTLY - DID YOU EVER SEE SUCH A THING!?   My husband walked in at this point.  His jaw dropped; he shook his head and walked out.  There was no way he was entering my kitchen of shame. 

What could I do?  I had to prevail.  I was DETERMINED to make this cake wreck into cake edible! 

So after some yells, moans, groans and a roll of paper towels, I began wiping away all that excess cookie crumbs and fudge.  Wiping, wiping and cleaning away the edges of the cake. 

This is where I had to throw away my kitchen towel.  I'm going to share the photo once again..... I said a few nice words to it - gave it a proper funeral and all.

Then LO AND BEHOLD - the cake began to look presentable, even kind of beautiful too. 

Just look at it (below)!

I added a bit of the leftover frosting on the top and placed a single Oreo cookie on top.  Nice touch, huh?  I almost made it look professional!
What in the hell would it look like when I cut into it though?  Well, here's what it looked like:

Yeah, not quite as pretty.  The top layer looked heavier and taller than the bottom layer.  When I cut it, it definitely kind of fell apart and was well, crumbly.

But thank goodness, thank the heavens it tasted good.  Great actually.  Want to have a slice?

So yeah, that's what it looked like.  It had a tendency to fall apart. 
It was very delicious and I'm proud of myself for making it and sticking through it even when it was leaving a messy trail all over my kitchen. 

However, with that being said, here's what I would do differently if I were to make it again:

I'd make a single layer cake, not a double layer cake!
- I would skip the fudge.  Or if I were to try fudge I'd get the "Magic Shell" kind that hardens for you. 
- I would make the filling with cookie crumbs and not the smashed, up broken cookies.
- I would make a caramel frosting and/or use flavored Oreo cookies for a variety

So there you have it.  My third and final and crazy cake baking experiences for my 33rd birthday! 

When I first started the process, I thought to myself.... "Hmmm, I should make cakes more often.  Maybe I should challenge myself to make one cake per month.  Something new and different."  But to be honest, by the time the third cake was done, I was sick of it all. 

I don't mind occasionally making a cake but I prefer things like cookies, brownies and bars.  Something easier and bite-size and less time consuming. 

I'm just not a cake decorator either.  My stuff never comes out pretty.  I'm okay with that though.   I still try and it still tastes good. 

So if you've made it through this long post and you've seen all the photos, PLEASE LEAVE ME A COMMENT so I know that my two hours of typing this was worth it!  Let me know that I'm a wacky mom with crazy ideas for putting this whole thing together.  Unleash.  Let me have it.  I'm ready!  :-)  Thank you for reading and thank you for your interest in my site and my cooking adventures!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week (Aug. 22 - 28, 2011)

Well this is going to be a busy week.  It's the first week of school.  I work at a university so it's the first week of classes which means my phone and office will be buzzing with phone calls and people.  My daughter is switching to a new classroom with a new teacher at day care/ preschool.  And my husband is out of town, traveling for work for most of this week (so I'll be a single parent). 

So with all that being said, I'm planning to keep things very low-key in the kitchen.  I'm not making anything new - just digging in my freezer for what I already have.  That's the great thing about doing bulk cooking and preparing meals ahead of time - you can take almost a week off when you need to.  And I think I will need to do so this week! 

This may change at any moment, but here's the plan I hope to mostly stick with this week:

Monday, August 22
- Mini Shrimp and Spinach Alfredo Pizzas (using pita bread I have in the fridge and leftover shrimp cooked over the weekend)

Tuesday, August 23 - Better For You Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs (which I have on hand in my freezer!)

Wednesday, August 25 - Eat Out or grab Take out food (Chick-Fil-A or other kid-friendly restaurant)

Thursday, August 26 - Sweet Potato Soup, Hummus Dip and Pita Chips (I have both of these in the freezer too!)

Friday, August 27
- Slim Sloppy Joes in a whole wheat wrap (also stored in my freezer!)

Saturday, August 28
- Chicken Parmesan with honey mustard flavor with green beans and easy beer bread

Sunday, August 29
- Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas - I haven't made these in awhile but I'd like to have them again.  It's good to go meatless sometimes!

And what else? 

Although I'm not making any new recipes this week, I hope to do some stocking up again on purees like carrots and avocados.  I also want to make a batch of these early start muffins and a small batch of pumpkin muffins too.

I'm also going to find time to juice and zest 20 limes that my husband's co-worker gave us.  I plan to freeze most of it for later to use in margaritas, lime pie and in a chicken dish. 

I hope you have a fabulous week and have some great foods on your table!  I'll be back soon with my third and final birthday cake recipe.  You don't want to miss how I turned the disaster cake into something presentable and edible!  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Birthday Cake # 2: Nutella Flour-less Cake with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

The second cake I made for my birthday week was indeed my favorite one.  It was easy, delicious and I just loved it!  I used a whole container of Nutella so of course it had to be fabulous! 

Have you ever tried Nutella?  It's like heaven in a bottle!  It's my newest best friend I tell you! ~

Enough with the talk now - let's get straight to the recipe.  And I have step by step photos of how I put it all together too.  Lucky you and lucky me for it turning out so delicious!

Nutella Flour-less Cake

(Serves 8 - 10 but only if you feel like sharing!)

1 container (13 oz.) of Nutella - which you can find in the Peanut Butter section of the grocery store
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
1 stick of butter (I used Smart Balance)
6 large eggs, separated into the yolks and whites
12 oz bag of chocolate chips, melted (I used dark chocolate)
1 and 1/3 cup of almonds, chopped into small bits (If you can find hazelnuts, then use those.  I couldn't)

For the Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz of cream cheese (I used the 1/3 reduced fat kind)
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch round spring-form pan with cooking spray.  Set aside. 

Now grab two bowls and separate out your six eggs - with the yolks in one bowl and just the whites in the other bowl. 

This is the most tedious part of making this entire cake but still easy and quick if you have the right tool for this.  I love my egg separator.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the whole container of Nutella, brown sugar and stick of butter together.  Blend until almost smooth. 
Using a separate heat-proof bowl, melt the chocolate chips.  I use my microwave for this, heating them for about a minute; then stirring them smooth.  I microwave it a bit longer if needed.  Set this aside until you're ready to use them.

Add the egg yolks to the cake batter in the mixing bowl slowly, one at a time if possible.  Beat until incorporated.  Now spoon in the melted chocolate.  Beat until smooth.  Then add in the egg whites and the chopped almonds (or other nut of your choice).  You can simply stir those in together with a large wooden spoon. 

Transfer the batter to the greased 9-inch spring-form pan.  Shake it or smooth it down with a spoon if needed.  Mine looked like this:

Then bake it at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes in the oven.  The edges should pull away from the sides just a bit.  You should be able to insert a knife inside and have it come out mostly clean so the cake isn't wet. 

It will look like a giant brownie.  And it will taste like one too....  Yummy!

While your kitchen is smelling so wonderful and your cake is cooling, you can make the frosting.  The frosting is simply amazing, probably the best I've ever eaten in my life.  I think I will make it for all future cakes.  Oh yeah, it's that good!

To make the frosting:
Grab a medium size mixing bowl.  In it place your 8 oz of cream cheese, 2 Tbsp of butter, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 4 Tbsp of Nutella.  Then just blend with a mixer until smooth, until it looks like this:

When that cake has cooled (and trust me, I know it's hard to wait), you can use that handy spring-form feature to transfer it into a cake-storage container so you can seal it up for freshness.  I love those spring-form pans - one of the best inventions ever!   But you should wait about an hour until it's very cooled.  Once it's cooled, spread this delectable frosting all over your cake.  Try not to lick the entire bowl before you can do so.  It's very hard to resist! 

Frost your cake, slice it up and if you feel like it, share it with a few friends or your family.  They will LOVE it!  Trust me! 

This is definitely the BEST cake I've ever made and my current, new favorite too!  I've got one more birthday cake recipe to share with you.  So come back in a few days to see that one.  I may have to include a slide show of photos from the disaster it took to put it all together!  You won't want to miss it, trust me!  It will surely give you something to laugh at - me!  :-) 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Birthday Cake #1: Berry-Pineapple-Almond Cake

This was the first cake I made for my birthday last week.  I modeled the recipe after a simple coffee/breakfast cake that I make and enjoy.  I added berries and various almond flavorings to it.  The end result was a very moist and tasty cake.  It wasn't dense or calorie-heavy.  It was the perfect start to my birthday celebration (which lasted for five days, mind you). 

Berry-Pineapple-Almond Cake

(Serves 10 - 12)

1 cup of strawberries, diced (or other berries of your choice)
1/2 cup of pineapple, sliced thin
A few dashes of lemon juice
2 cups of flour (I used half oat flour and half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup of sugar
3 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup of applesauce
2 eggs, beaten
3 tsp of almond butter, creamy (found in your peanut butter aisle)
1 cup of almond milk (or use regular if that's all you have)

For the cake crumble topping:
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp almond extract
4 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a tube pan (or other cake pan) with cooking spray.  Cut and slice your fruit.  Pinch out a few drops of lemon juice on the fruit to keep it from turning soggy or brown.  Set aside. 

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add in the almond extract.  Stir well.  Then push the mixture down and make a hole in the center.  You'll pour your wet ingredients into that hole.  Toss in the eggs, almond butter, almond milk and applesauce.  Stir together well with a large spoon.  Gently fold in the diced fruit.  Pour or spoon out into the greased cake pan. 

Now make the topping by placing the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, almond extract and cut up pieces of butter together in a small bowl. 

Mix until it resembles a crumble.  Sprinkle this crumble topping over the cake batter. 

Bake in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes.  Edges of cake should be slightly broken away from the sides with a hint of brown.  Test with a fork or knife to ensure it is done. 

Let the cake cool for about a half hour.  Then slice, serve and enjoy.  You'll want to place this cake in the fridge for long-term storage.  Or you can freeze this as well.  I did and it came out just fine by placing it back in the fridge to thaw for a few hours. 

Although this cake was very delicious, it wasn't my favorite of the three I made.  Stay tuned for which one was the best! 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pizza Subs

I'm guilty of it - stopping by Subway, Firehouse Subs, Roly Poly or whatever sandwich shop may be on my way home at times.  It's silly when you think about it.  You're paying four bucks for a sub that you can easily make at home.  Plus you can make it more nutritious for your family too. 

I love pizza subs and they are one of my favorites to order out at a sandwich place.  Finally I decided I should start making my own at home though.  Here is the simplest way I found to create these good sandwiches without adding those extra calories and spending additional money from your wallet:

Pizza Subs

(I made three.  Make as many as you want!)

3 to 4 Hoagie style breads, cut in half - you can make your own OR use store bought (whole wheat would be best~)
Butter spread (I like Smart Balance best)
1 tsp of Garlic salt seasoning
1 tsp of Oregano or Italian seasoning
1 cup of tomato or pizza sauce (I use the all-natural Ragu or whatever I find on sale usually!)
Turkey pepperoni slices (About 3/4 cup at least for four sandwiches)
Shredded cheese - whatever kind you like best (I used reduced fat cheddar)
Additional veggies of your choice - onions, peppers, mushrooms
Additional cheese such as Parmesan - if desired

Directions: The measurements are approximate because my family is small and everyone likes different things on their sandwiches.  However, here are the basics you need to know:  Cut your hoagie bread in half.  Butter each bread with a knife.  Sprinkle the garlic salt on each bread.  Or use garlic powder and sea salt separately.  By buttering your bread, you give it that extra flavor; PLUS you can freeze any leftovers you have without the bread becoming soggy! 

Spoon out the tomato/pizza sauce on your hoagie breads.  About 1/8 to 1/4 cup on each bread slice should be enough.  Now lay out the turkey pepperoni slices on top of the sauce.  Cover every inch of that saucy bread!  :-)  Next sprinkle the Italian seasoning and/or Oregano over the pepperoni pieces.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.  Then add a bit more tomato/pizza sauce on top of that.  Here you add any additional veggies you may want here (onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives or whatever you like!).  Top each bread slice with your shredded cheese. 

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about fifteen minutes.  The edges of the bread should be slightly brown and crispy.  Let it cool for a few minutes. 

You can eat it just like that - as pizza garlic bread.  Or you can put the bread pieces back together and you've got your own tasty Pizza sub, like this:

Mmmm, mmmm!   Just as good as Subway.  Maybe, hopefully even better! 

What kinds of other subs can you make at home to save you money and calories?  Got any ideas?  Share them here! 

Slim Sloppy Joes

"Sloppy Joes, Slop, Sloppy Joes...."

If you've never seen or heard the Adam Sandler "Lunch Lady Land/ Sloppy Joe" song, then PLEASE do yourself a favor, watch this video above.   (If the video doesn't work, then try this link:  http://youtu.be/E_-KbstEG4E).  It's seriously one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life!  Love it!

Anyway, I have perfected the Sloppy Joe mix and made it a slimmer, lighter version that is nutritious and more filling!  You must try it.  I literally ate it for four days in a row last week as my lunch.  No exaggeration! 

Slim Sloppy Joes

(Serves 6 to 8)

1 lb of ground turkey
1 jar (16 oz) salsa, mild
1 and 1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers (about 3 peppers, combo of green and red)
1 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of pureed broccoli
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (or a combo of salt and pepper)
3/4 tsp garlic powder

Generously grease a skillet with cooking spray.  Saute peppers in skillet on stove.  Add in your ground turkey.  Cook until brown.  Remove from heat.  Drain or blot any excess grease.  Place meat and peppers in a large bowl.  Add in all other      remaining ingredients.  Stir well with the salsa, ketchup and all seasonings.  Serve in wraps or on buns. 

Freeze leftovers in plastic containers.  Sloppy Joes will keep for up to four months.  Reheat in microwave or on stove. 

Enjoy this one!  It's a great meal that takes minimal time to make and enough to eat on for days! 

Birthday Recap, Meal Plan and What's To Come!

I had a great birthday.  The actual day was Friday the 12th.  But I ate cake for four days straight beforehand so you can say it was more like a five-day fiesta!  :-)  In fact by the time my real birthday arrived, I was a bit sick of cakes! 

I ending up making three different kinds - (1) Almond-Berry-Pineapple, (2) Nutella Flour-less with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting and (3) Oreo Cookie Crumble Double Layer Cake.  All were good.  The first two were easy to make.  The third and final one was a giant utter mess!  I am working on typing up the recipes and sharing the funny photos with you real soon!  Thankfully all tasted excellent!  The Nutella one was my favorite though.  It looked and tasted like a nutty brownie with wonderful frosting on top.  So... maybe next year, I'll just make myself that one cake.  We shall see! 

My birthday was a great day.  My husband took the day off and we had breakfast together as a family, saw a funny movie, did some shopping, ate out Mexican, enjoyed a few margaritas (Two for one baby!) and then had a family cake picnic on our living room floor that night while watching another film.  A great day with my wonderful family! 

For my birthday present, my husband and daughter gave me this very cool double-layer Belgian waffle maker by Waring Pro (pictured above).  He knows the way to my heart - useful kitchen appliances!  LOL!  So I've made waffles for two mornings in a row now - a blueberry oat and a spiced pumpkin flavor!  They are oh.so.yummy!  Please visit my Facebook page for those recipes if you want them right now!  Trust me, you won't regret it!  :-)

I've got those three cake recipes coming soon for you.  Then I've also got two great sub sandwich recipes that you can make for your family - quick, easy, nutritious and delicious!  Stay tuned and come back soon for those!

Meanwhile, here is my meal plan for the week:  I'm keeping it low key.  I'll try out two new recipes and make some easy stuff too.  It's our anniversary on Wednesday so I'm sure we'll eat out for dinner.  My parents are dropping in for a one-night weekend stay so I'll make some waffles for them!  The rest is my tried and true favorites.  No desserts this week!   I still have leftover cake and I'm going to up my exercise workouts to make up for all I ate the past few days! 

Here is what I have lined up:

Monday, August 15 - Creole white beans with turkey sausage served over brown rice with a side green salad (That's right, even I open up a can of food sometimes, especially of this stuff - it's hard to beat the flavor!)

Tuesday, August 16 - Beer Batter Waffle Ham and Cheese sandwiches with sweet potato fries

Wednesday, August 17 - My Nine-Year Wedding Anniversary!  Eat Out for Dinner!

Thursday, August 18
- White Chicken Chili in the slow cooker with corn bread

Friday, August 19
- Sloppy Joe Pizza with a side green salad

Saturday, August 20
- Smoked Tilapia AND Grilled Garlic-Tequila-Lime Shrimp with sweet pepper kabobs

Sunday, August 21 - Big Homemade Breakfast for our House guests:  Spiced Pumpkin Waffles and Cheesy-Eggs-Grits Casserole
Dinner: Leftover Pizza or Chili;  Or eat out.

It's going to be a great week!  What do you have lined up for your menu? 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What Three Birthday Cakes Should I Make For Myself? (And This Week's Meal Plan Too! )

Well, I wasn't kidding when I said before that August would be a busy month for me!!!  I can't believe a week has already gone by.  I spent the first part of this month doing special things for a friend of mine who needed me.  Then I entertained my B-F-F that I've known since we were babies all weekend long too.  Food has definitely played a big part in the last week - preparing a meal for a family, cooking homemade pizza, blending up frozen coffees, baking grits casserole and cookies for a much-deserved pal on vacation.

Busy, busy, busy!  I enjoyed it all though.

But now, this week is MY TURN to shine!  My birthday is Friday, August 12.  I will be turning 33 years old.  In honor of my special day, I've come up with an idea.... to make three small cakes for myself!  I mean, after all, why just have one when I can have three???  Don't you agree!? 

Now I'm just trying to decide what three cakes I should make?  What am I in the mood for?  I still have five days to decide, or maybe just three or four if you include grocery shopping time to prepare for it.  I'm sure one should be chocolate.  Maybe even caramel or peanut butter too.  What about the others?  Should I have one called sinful, one called deadly and then one called six feet under because they are each so decadent and rich??!

Decisions, decisions!!  Help me decide.  What would you make? 

Well, think it over and let me know, will ya please!?   In the mean time, here is my meal plan for this week.  I'm not making anything new, just some of my favorite family recipes from my cookbook.

If you have trouble reading it, the photo says the following:

Monday - Sloppy Joes
Tuesday - Pepperoni Pasta
Wednesday - Sandwiches and salad
Thursday - Eat Out
Friday - Eat Cake.  Enjoy my birthday!
Saturday - BBQ
Sunday - Sausage and Black Bean Corn bread

I hope to share the one for Sloppy Joes in a few days.  But we'll see, I think I might be too preoccupied looking up cake recipes!  :-)

Please share your ideas, recipes and even links to cakes in the comments below.  I want to make three cakes for my 33rd birthday and I need your ideas! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Island Rice

This is a wonderful sweet rice side dish.  It would greatly accompany a meat such as teriyaki chicken or pineapple ham or even pulled pork.  It has hints of sweetness with a bit of spice so it would be paired perfectly with a salty meat or even a bean dish too.

Sit back and pretend you're in the Caribbean seas while you eat this meal, minus any hurricanes or stormy weather that is!   Sip a cocktail with a little umbrella too!  :-)

Island Rice

(Serves 4)

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 cup (8oz) crushed pineapples, with juice
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 roasted red pepper, diced, with oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp of curry powder

Prepare your brown rice according to package directions.  Meanwhile, grease a skillet with cooking spray.  Toss in your diced roasted red pepper, green onions, pineapple pieces and juice and garlic.  Cook for about five minutes.  Toss in the cooked brown rice.  Sprinkle in the curry powder.  Mix well.  Heat for another 5 to 7 minutes.  Serve immediately with your main dish.

What foods remind you of the islands?  Or is it just the fruity drinks?  :-)