Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sandy's Green Smoothie Stuff

Green smoothie? Gross right? Don't be so quick to judge, it's actually very good.....and healthy!  Yep, I said it, good AND healthy!  I can't even taste the 'green stuff' (aka. spinach) and neither can the 17 month old picky patron.  Usually I'm not one to hide vegetables in the food I give Aaron, but this smoothie is an exception.  What a great way to get him to get his recommended dose of leafy greens.  Even the hubby tasted it and said it was good, but had too much banana.  Better he said 'too much banana' rather than spinach! hehe

Aaron enjoying his green stuff.

So, whether you have picky eating kids or just want another way to get some healthy greens in the ole bod, I can't think of a more tasty way!

This makes enough for 4 servings, so I only make a quarter of it since it won't keep well.  I have been informed that a half recipe will fit in a normal size blender.  
For Aaron's smoothies I keep it simple:
1/3 cup OJ (more or less)
1/2 banana
1/4 apple
small handful of spinach
3 ice cubes

To print, left click >file >print. To save file to your computer, right click on image, then "save image as".

Optional add ins, use one or more as desired:
 1/2 carrot (not too much)
  chunk of cucumber w/skin
  a piece of cooked sweet potato 
  2 T of canned pumpkin (freeze remainder in ice cube tray for future use)
  4-5 cherry tomatoes  or 1 slice of a large one
 coconut milk - 2- 4 Tablespoons or grated coconut (fresh would be ideal)
lime or lemon juice- a squirt or two
parsley or cilantro , fresh - a couple sprigs  
vanilla,  about 1/2 teaspoon 
fresh grated ginger 
Experiment with other stuff, erring on the cautious side so not to spoil the taste, all measurements are just a suggestion - adjust to your taste. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bistro Style Burger

What fantastic burgers we had last night...and they didn't come from some fancy restaurant, but rather my kitchen.  Every month when I receive my subscription of Cooking Light magazine, I thumb through it tearing out the recipes of interest such as this one for Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts.  Burgers at our house typically consist of slapping a frozen turkey burger patty on the Foreman Grill and then top it with American cheese.  I know, boring, but that's why I shake things up periodically with new and exciting twists on an old simple favorite.

The hubby and I loved these burgers and will definitely make again.  Who knew it would be so flavorful and easy to make.   I would have to credit the porter beer for the deliciousness of the sauteed mushrooms and onions.  That got me thinking that I could probably substitute red wine for the porter to make burgundy burgers like the ones at our favorite local burger bar, Relish Burger.   OH SO GOOD!

I followed the recipe exactly other than subbing fresh ciabatta bread for the rye.

Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts
from Cooking Light Magazine, October 2010
1 pound ground sirloin
cooking spray
1 T. olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package sliced crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 t. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. dark beer (such as porter)
8 (1.1-ounces) slices rye bread
4 (3/4-ounce) sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Shape beef into 4 (4-inch) patties.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add patties; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, salt, pepper, and mushrooms; saute 3 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over mushrooms; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in beer; cook for 30 seconds or until thick.  Remove from heat; keep warm.

When patties are done, remove from large skillet.  Wipe pan clean; heat over medium-high heat.  Coat 1 side of each bread slice with cooking spray.  Place 4 bread slices, coated sides down, in pan.  Top each with 1 patty,  1 cheese slice, and 1/4 of mushroom mixture.  Top with remaining bread slices; coat with cooking spray.  Cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

UPDATE: Want a recipe card?  Well, here you go!

To print, left click >file >print. To save file to your computer, right click on image, then "save image as".

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quick & Tasty: Penne with Broccoli

Busy days, I love them!  I'm the type that always has to be doing something otherwise I go stir crazy, sort of like my 16 month old son.   So, when it came time to think about dinner, Penne with Broccoli was my ticket.  This is my go-to recipe for quick, easy & flavorful.  It's a solid recipe, but I add some grilled chicken to make it complete.

Thanks Lisa for sharing this recipe with me :)


  • 1 1/2  pounds  broccoli florets
  • 1/4  cup  olive oil
  • 3  cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  hot chili flakes
  • About 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • About 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12  ounces  dried penne pasta
  • 1/3  cup  grated pecorino romano cheese


1. Rinse broccoli and trim and discard stem ends. Coarsely chop tops and stems. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, stir olive oil and garlic often until garlic sizzles, then stir in broccoli, chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is very soft and mashes easily with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water to pan if broccoli threatens to scorch.
2. Meanwhile, in a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring 4 quarts water to a boil; add penne and cook until tender to bite, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and return to pan.
3. Stir broccoli mixture into pasta along with cheese. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

UPDATE: Want a recipe card? Here you go!
To print, left click >file >print. To save file to your computer, right click on image, then "save image as".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall means Chili

Fall, my favorite time of the year in Northern California.  It means an end to another drought ridden summer of no rain and not even the sight of a cloud for months.  Fall means cool delta breezes, trips up to Apple Hill, the Amador wine country fall crush, and enjoying the outdoors in sub-100 F temperatures.   And of course, fall means waking early to watch Florida Gator 9am.  Soon, the rain will transform the Sierra Foothills from a scored golden brown to lush green.  It's funny that every year it's as if everyone forgets how to drive in the rain, so it's best to stay home the first few rainfalls.   Not to mention, who wants to be out in the rain anyway.  I'd much rather be home curled up with a good book and eating some homemade chili.

I came across this recipe in 2006 while at our typical Gator football hangout...The Wilson's house.   Lisa served up the absolutely best chili for the game.  This recipe is remarkably easy to make and it could even be done in the slow cooker.    At times that I don't have the Heinz chili sauce on hand, I use a knock-off recipe that is excellent (recipe is listed below).

Serving suggestions:
~with cheddar cheese, sour cream and oyster crackers/cornbread
~Cincinnati Chili: Serve over spaghetti. Top with diced raw onions & grated cheddar cheese
~Texas Chili: Serve over rice.

Elaine/Lisa's Chili
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 T. chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes (diced, whole, seasoned, whatever)
1 (12 oz) botttle Heinz Chili sauce
1/2 t. dried oregano
3 t. sugar
1/2 t. dried basil
1 tomato, diced
1 bay leaf
dash Tabasco sauce
1 can kidney beans
1/4 t. dry mustard
1 t. cumin
salt & pepper to taste

Cook onion & bell pepper in a pan until soft. Add meat, cook. Drain if needed. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes. 

1 cup tomato puree
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 t. onion flakes (or 1 1/2 t. powder)
2 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. lemon juice
1/8 t. garlic powder
Whisk together in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Geo's Cornbread (the good sweet kind)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Update 1/25/2011:
After having chili in a sourdough bread bowl at Boudin Bakery, we though we would try to do it at home.  Granted we didn't have the real deal Boudin Bakery San Francisco sourdough, our homemade chili in a grocery store sourdough bread bowl tasted great! We toasted the bread bowl, filled it up with chili and topped it with some sharp cheddar cheese. Yum!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ramen, Ramen, Ramen

Who knew there were so many recipes that used ramen noodles?!  And I only thought they were for making soup or tossing on a salad in place of croutons.  I did a little research, and by research I mean I Googled "Ramen Noodle Recipes".  Lo and behold there is a smorgasbord of ramen recipes.  Some sound good, others just plain revolting like "Jail Break Ramen" that includes salsa, pepperoni, pickle relish, and mustard.  It must have been one starving and desperate college student that came up with that one! Blech!!!

On to the more exciting and tasty ramen noodle recipes...

My mom recently sent me this recipe which is quite similar to the Broccoli Slaw recipe I posted a few weeks ago.  However, this one takes the cake.  This salad has that sweet and salty taste that made me search for more salty nuts with every sweet tangy bite (I used a blend cashews, almonds, and pecans). Yum! Next time I need to add more nuts :)

As a side note, this recipe makes a lot, so I opted to just make a half recipe.

Asian Cole Slaw (from the kitchen of Liz Bears)
2 bags         shredded cabbage and carrot
2 boxes        of child size raisins
2-3               green onions
2 pks           ramen noodles any variety you like. I like chicken
1/3 cup        balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup        peanut oil
1/4 cup        brown sugar
1/3 cup        mixed nuts salted or otherwise
1 T              sesame seeds
1/2 ts       mint leaves finely chopped
Put 2 T oil and 1.5 pks of seasonings, and the nuts chopped up
into a shallow pan. Mix with the crushed noodles (uncooked) and
stir to coat everything. Toast for 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees.
While that's toasting, mix your cabbage, raisins, and finely
chopped green onions together in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl whisk the remainder of the oil, the sugar, the vinegar,
and the sesame seeds together to make the dressing. Pour dressing
on the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Then sprinkle half the toasted
mixture onto the salad and toss till evenly mixed. Top with the remaining
half of the toasted mixture and serve.
Note: some people like to use pine nuts, but I'm too cheap. You'll like
it if you do. Just be careful they burn easily.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sausage Pappardelle

This one, the hubby gets excited about when he hears I'm going to make it. :)

There's a special little restaurant in downtown Sacramento that we absolutely love called Lucca.  The cuisine is Italian with a Californian spin.  They have a dish that consists of pappardelle pasta with spicy sausage and a mushroom ragu, they call 'Pappardelle'. It is to die for, so naturally I had to try to re-create it at home.  I found a recipe that comes pretty darn close on Martha Stewart's website.  It's actually a recipe adapted from celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver, so miss perfect Martha can't take all the credit!

Here's a link to the recipe...Pappardelle with Spicy Sausage and Mixed Wild Mushrooms 
(This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver's cookbook, "The Naked Chef Takes Off" (Hyperion, 2001))

1 T. olive oil
9 oz spicy sausage, casing removed (or sweet Italian sausage)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (I sub white or crimini mushrooms)
2 T. fresh thyme leaves
1-2 small dried red chiles, crumbled (optional)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh Pappardelle pasta
3-4 T. unsalted butter (I use 2-3 T.)
1/2 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-heat; add sausage, onion, and garlic, breaking up sausage with a spoon.  Cook until onions are golden, about 7 minutes.  Add mushrooms, thyme, and chiles; cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates, 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt and pappardelle.  Cook until al dente, 3-5 minutes.  Reserve a 1/2 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta.  Return to pot.

Add butter to mushroom mixture along with some of the cooking liquid to loosen, if necessary.  Return mushroom mixture to pot; toss to combine.  Transfer to a large serving platter.  Garnish with parsley and cheese;  serve immediately.

I love spicy food, but it doesn't sit well with Albert, so I swapped out the spicy sausage for Trader Joe's Sweet Chicken Italian Sausage.  I have also used Johnsonville's Sweet Italian Sausage, which worked out well too when I made this recipe while visiting my family in Florida. Trader Joe's also has the pappardelle pasta I like to use, but I would think you could sub any pasta without a problem.