Friday, July 29, 2016

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos


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I want to talk a minute about Mexican food.

Oh, how I love thee, let me count the ways!  If you love Mexican food as much as I do, then this recipe is for you.  How great is it to come home with dinner already cooked and almost ready to put on the table by using your slow cooker??  It's AWESOME!





Today's recipe is perfect for your TACO TUESDAY.  These shredded beef tacos are easy to make and will satisfy even the pickiest eaters.  It also satisfies my cravings for Mexican food that occurs about every other day!  Actually there isn't anything better in my book than a taco.  Using a roast gives you lots of shredded meat, and is more economical too.  Add some tomatoes and spices and you have the makings of a wonderful base for your tacos. All this from a slow cooker? Yes!  Oh, and remember that any leftover meat can be frozen in portions to use another day.





We made a soft taco bar that was set up with all the fixings.  It was a quick and easy meal on a weeknight.  Since the meat only has a few ingredients your preparation is done quickly in the morning.  All that's left is a little chopping and warming of the tortillas.  Serve your tacos with a salad or some Mexican Rice like we did.  A quick easy meal is hard to beat, and a Mexican one...SCORE!






Slow Cooker Beef Tacos

2-3 pound chuck roast
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with onion and peppers
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 Tbls cumin
salt & pepper
Flour tortillas


Toppings:
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped onions
Salsa
Guacamole
Sour Cream



Place chuck roast into a large slow cooker on medium or high heat. Add tomatoes and sprinkle with cumin, salt & pepper.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. About 30 minutes before serving add the sliced bell pepper.   

Remove beef from slow cooker and remove all but 1 cup of liquid from the cooker.  Shred the beef and place back into slow cooker.

Serve with warmed tortillas and any optional toppings.
NOTE:  Freeze any leftovers.







Saturday, July 23, 2016

Snickerdoodle Pancakes


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Hi there, and happy Saturday!

Do you have a favorite cookie???

I have to admit I have several.  Chocolate chip being one and my other favorite is Snickerdoodles.  I have such great memories of mom making snickerdoodle cookies.  Oh, the smell that filled the house when they were baking had me running for the kitchen to get one hot out of the oven!


There is something about cinnamon that I love.  Maybe it's the deep earthy scent.  Or, it could be the combination with the sugar.  Either way I love it.  I use cinnamon in my baking all the time, it's definitely a go to spice in our home.

So what do cookies have to do with pancakes?  Well I thought I'd combine the flavors of the two and turn our Saturday morning pancake breakfast into Snickerdoodle flavored ones.  Oh yes!  They are good, I mean really, really good!  The scent of cinnamon hits you and everyone comes running and can't wait to sink their teeth in the best tasting pancakes. 


This pancake is a little special though.  Not only is there cinnamon in the batter, but you cook a cinnamon sugar mixture on the top of one side of the pancake, which creates a crunchy caramelized crust.  Pour some hot syrup and a pat of butter on top, take a bite and oh man!  Heaven!!!

Enjoy your weekend!

Other cinnamon recipes:




Snickerdoodle Pancakes


1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbls brown sugar
¼ tsp of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbls canola oil
1 egg
1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Topping:
2 Tbls sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

In a medium bowl add dry ingredient (flour through cinnamon).  Stir to combine.  In a small bowl whisk together the oil, egg, milk and vanilla.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until combines.  Allow to stand 5 minutes.

Add butter to a skillet over medium heat.  Pour 1/4 cup scoops of the pancake mix in to the hot skillet and sprinkle 1 tsp of topping on each pancake (the wet side).  Cook until bubbles pop on the surface and the bottom is golden brown.  Flip and cook another minute or so until the pancake is browned and fully cooked inside.  This side will have a crunchy cinnamon sugar side cooked in.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.

Continue cooking until all batter is used.  Serve immediately with maple syrup and butter if desired.


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad

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Hi there!  Is everyone having a great summer so far?

We certainly are.  The heat is on and we have decided that this is the summer of salads.  We love eating the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available to us now and what better way to showcase them than by salads (plus the fact that MGG can't go a day without a salad...#rabbitatheart). 

I've joined on the salad band wagon with him but I like my salads with some sort of protein in them to consider them a main dish.  That usually means some form of chicken for me and being summertime grilling the chicken is my go to method.


On Sunday, MGG and I visited our local farmer's market and found the best salad greens.  This particular vendor grew only greens and they had baskets of loos salad greens to mix and match.  Love it!  So we grabbed a few bags full and went on our way to see what else we could find.  An hour later we came home with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, berries, melons, and bell peppers, and on and on....

On Monday I was working at home and decided to put the salad greens and bell peppers to good use and make a salad for lunch.  I decided to create a Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad.  So I grabbed my favorite marinade, Organicville's Island Original Teriyaki sauce, and some cashews, and pineapple to create this salad that reminded me of a great teriyaki bowl.  Oh it was soooo good.  I tell you, MGG missed out on this one!

The dressing is a combination of the teriyaki sauce mixed with rice vinegar, some pineapple juice (so save the liquid in the can) and some olive oil. Yum!  This dressing is light and tasty and the perfect topping.


So grab all your fresh veggies and make a wonderful salad for your lunch.  No need to share...I won't tell anyone.  But if you do find yourself in a generous mood you can just double, triple etc..this recipe and make enough for the family.

Enjoy!




Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad

serves 1

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup teriyaki marinade (such as Organicville's Island Original Teriyaki sauce)
2 cups of mixed baby greens
1/3 cup of sliced red and orange bell pepper
1/4 whole cashews
1 8 oz can of pineapple chunks, juice saved for dressing   

Salad Dressing:
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 Tbls rice vinegar
2 Tbls olive oil
2-3 Tbls pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple rings)

To prepare chicken marinate the chicken breast in the marinade for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile prepare the salad ingredients by placing them on a platter or in a medium bowl.

Prepare the dressing.  In a small bowl or mason jar add the teriyaki sauce, vinegar, olive oil, and pineapple juice.  Shake until combined.  Set aside.

Heat a gas grill to medium high.  Add chicken, discarding remaining marinade.  Cook covered about 5 minutes per side or until it reaches 160 degrees internal temperature.  Remove from grill and all to rest 10 minutes.  Slice chicken into slices and add to the salad.

Drizzle salad with dressing, toss to coat.  Serve.





Another recipe using Organicville's Island Original Teriyaki sauce:  Teriyaki London Broil










Saturday, July 16, 2016

Summer of Grilling: Grilled Citrus Pork Tenderloin

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2016 is going down as the summer of grilling for us.

This is the year that we are going to perfect our grilling skills and it all starts with a Master Grilling Class that we took.  What an excellent class!  It was a small group of 10 people with hands on grilling for about 2 hours.  We prepped, studied, grilled, studied some more, and then ate a delicious dinner.  We got to learn various grilling techniques on different types of food.  The menu was simple:  How to grill vegetables, How to make the perfect steak, direct vs. indirect heat, searing, and grill to oven with chicken.  As an added bonus we made several different sauces such as a chimichurri, a teriyaki for grilled shrimp and a lemon herb for the chicken.

The best part was all the Q&A sessions where we learned so many tips.  It really helps when you get to pick the brain of a chef.  "It's all about technique" chef Mike says.   You can take the same recipe and have 5 chefs make it and each one will be unique because their style and techniques may be slightly different.  Makes sense right?  Otherwise we wouldn't have so many restaurants with overlapping dishes.


To put our Master Grilling class to good use we promptly went and bought a wonderful pork tenderloin (you know, the other white meat...) to try out all the tips we learned on the grill.  We don't eat pork that often although we love it, and I usually roast my tenderloins, so this was going to be fun!  Pork, like chicken is a neutral bases that lends itself to so many different flavors.  Since summer gives us an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables I wanted to theme our dinner around light summery flavors.  I whipped up a wonderful Citrus Glaze to go on the pork, and we served it with my Sautéed Zucchini with Mint, Basil, & Pine Nuts as a side dish.   

Wow, the class was a hit, the grilling came off like a breeze, and the dinner was a fabulous success!  The pork turned out tender and juicy and the glaze was the perfect amount of light citrus, sweet and heat all rolled into one.  Could not have been any better.


We have so many things we want to grill this summer so be on the look out for more delicious food coming your way!

Enjoy some grilling this summer!







Grilled Citrus Pork Tenderloin

serves 2

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 - 1 1/4 pounds)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¾ cup orange marmalade (I used one with pieces of fruit in it)
Zest and juice from 1 orange
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Garnish:  lemon slices

Remove the silver skin from the pork tenderloin.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Allow the meat to come to room temperature (about 15 minutes) while you heat the grill to medium-high heat. 

Meanwhile in a small saucepan add the orange marmalade, zest from the orange and the lemon, and orange juice and lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Add the red pepper flakes and heat over low heat until the sauce starts to melt a little and combines well.  Remove several spoonfuls to a bowl to use for serving and the remaining glaze will be used during grilling.

Place the tenderloin on the grill and cook 8 minutes on the first side.  Turn the tenderloin over and baste with the glaze.  Cook another 8 minutes.  Turn over again and baste with the glaze.  Cook turning frequently so the glaze does not burn until the meat reaches 155 degrees.  Remove from the grill and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing into 1/2" pieces.

Serve with additional glaze drizzled on top and lemon slice on the side if desired.










Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer Dessert Heaven: Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream

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Yay for summertime!

I love summer.  Eating alfresco, cooking on the grill, and hanging by the pool.

We had a nice bash over the weekend with some friends we hadn't seen in forever...and we took that time to fire up the grill for some fresh food.  Even dessert was finished up using the grill!



So let's talk about this dessert.  Do you like lemon?  MGG loves it, it was my mom's favorite as well, and I like it mainly in baked goods such as muffins and cakes.  Pies? not so much.  In planning my menu I was sifting through an old Cook's Country magazine and had dog-eared a recipe for Meyer Lemon Pound Cake.  Say what? Lemon pound cake...ummm yes please!

Now, I know it's summer, and it's taboo to turn on the oven  but this was a serious situation here.  I had to have this pound cake.  So I got up really early and used the oven before the day got hot.  Success!!!  This cake was so easy to make. I even snuck some of the batter, so I knew it would taste outrageous.  And it did!  Everyone said so....haha!



Typically during the summer, our desserts run toward angel food cakes, trifles, pudding of some sort etc.  You know, throw it together quick and easy stuff.  So the pound cake did require more time than we usually put into our desserts but it was well worth it.  You could just as easily buy a ready made pound cake (it may not be lemon) and it would work just as well, but you really should try this lemony one.  The flavors of lemon and strawberry together are heaven.  So worth the effort.



Once the cake is made the rest is easy.  After the dinner grilling was done I grilled slices of this luscious lemon pound cake and plated them with macerated strawberries and a big ole scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Oh man, was this gobbled down by everyone.  Our long lost friends may not be so lost after eating this.  I'll bet we see them often this summer just to get more of this Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream!

Enjoy!



Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Slice Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream



Pound Cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 additional tablespoons
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

Toppings: 
Macerated sliced strawberries
Vanilla Ice Cream


To make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the sour cream and lemon juice together in a small measuring cup.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the lemon zest and sugar. Rub together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter to the bowl and beat the butter/sugar mixture on medium speed until very pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the eggs in 3 additions, beating well after each addition until the mixture is smooth (stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary). With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the sour cream mixture in 2 additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Once all the ingredients have been added, scrape down the bowl then beat on low for another 30 seconds to fully combine.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Smooth the top then tap the pan on your work surface to release air bubbles. Bake the cake for 55-65 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted near the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out.

Once the pound cake has completely cooled, (about 2 hours) slice it into 1 inch thick slices.  Add slices to an outdoor grill, or indoor grill pan and all to toast several minutes on each side until grill marks appear.  Top with strawberries that have macerated in sugar for about 15 minutes.  Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve immediately.


Pound cake was adapted from Cook’s Country, April/May 2006

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

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I think I've mentioned that MGG is a rabbit.

It's true.  He eats so much salad and veggies that I know he must have been a rabbit in another life.  He's even starting to look like a rabbit to me!  haha!

The other day "said rabbit" and I were walking through Costco and he picked up a container of Poki and a container of quinoa salad.  The poki is a favorite of his, but when I saw that quinoa salad and the price tag, I had to stop him there.   "But it tastes soooo good" he says.  "Yes honey, I know it does, but I can make it for you at home for a fraction of the cost and it will taste AWESOME!"  "Trust me...."



He grudgingly put it back and off we went.  Now I was under the gun to make a totally awesome quinoa salad that compares to the likes of Costco!  No problem.

I got to work in the kitchen while he looked over my shoulder to see what I was putting in it.  (Not as if I hadn't made quinoa salad before...sheesh!)  I think he was really counting on the lemony flavor of the Costco brand.  So I put a nice big lemon in front of him and put him to work zesting and juicing it.  That seemed to satisfy him for the moment.  The real test would come when he actually took his first bite.



About 30 minutes later we sat down to lunch with this huge wonderful Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, his poki, and some fruit and he had his first taste!  He savored the flavor, and then a big smile erupted across his face.  BINGO!  I knew I had him. He leaned over and gave me a big smooch.  Oh yea! One satisfied customer.

Enjoy!!


Mediterranean Quinoa

serves 10

2 cups  multi-colored quinoa or any colored quinoa 
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Tbls olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest   
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, red and yellow, halved    
1/2 cup yellow, orange and red mini bell peppers, small dice   
1/2 cup chopped English cucumber, diced  
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp fresh mint, minced  

Rinse and drain quinoa in a mesh strainer.  Bring broth to a bowl over high heat in a medium saucepan.  Add quinoa and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.  Uncover and fluff with a fork.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile prepare the vegetables.  Add the quinoa and vegetables to a large bowl.  In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, zest, lemon juice, vinegar and salt.  Drizzle over salad and toss to combine.  Sprinkle feta cheese and mint over the top and serve.








Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Triple Berry Cream Cheese Spread

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I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!

We took a little bit of time off to relax and celebrate with friends.  It was wonderful seeing good friends, playing in the pool, and eating all that great food!

It's hard to get back into the daily swing when we had such a relaxing holiday.  One way to do that is to make life simple, and to make our breakfast's simple too.  After a weekend of goodies it's time stop the baking and cooking for a little bit.  In doing so we decided to spend our last day of holiday with a quick and easy breakfast of fruits, coffee and tea, and fresh bagels. 



We are lucky to live near a Western Bagel store and so we picked up several varieties of bagels to enjoy.  My all time favorite is an egg bagel.  Soft and yummy, that's how I like them.  There's nothing better than fresh, soft bagels and Western Bagel has the best in Los Angeles. 

To go with our bagels I decided to whip up a special cream cheese spread.  I wanted to make it just a little bit fancier...just a little.  Which leads us to today's recipe, Triple Berry Cream Cheese Spread.  It's a blend of cream cheese, feta cheese and Smucker's new Fruit N' Honey fruit spreads.  Smucker's describes them as " Ripened fruit is naturally sweetened with honey for a simply delicious way to complement your breakfast or dress up your appetizers and desserts."  I found this new product at my store and decided to pick up a couple.  The one I used today was Fruit & Honey Triple Berry Fruit Spread.  Of course you could use this recipe with any jam, jelly, or fruit spread, I chose this one because I was curious to have a spread with honey in it instead of refined sugar.  



It's just the perfect additive to my cream cheese to jazz it up a bit for our breakfast.  It turned out so delicious, with little chunks of fruit mixed in.  Perfect on a bagel or a piece of toast.

So next time you have a simple breakfast, try this easy cream cheese spread.  You'll enjoy it's light and fruity taste, and make your breakfast extra special!

Enjoy!




Triple Berry Cream Cheese Spread


1/2 tub of whipped cream cheese
3 Tbls feta cheese crumbled
3-4 Tbls Triple Berry Fruit Spread (Smucker's - or your favorite fruit spread)

In a medium bowl add all the ingredients and stir until well combined.  Serve with bagels or toast.  Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator up to a week.












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