Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Apple Smiles and Zombie Heads

I don't "do" Halloween, but I know many others who do, and since I love cooking with my kids and also doing crafts with them, I decided to post something for the season, starring my main assistant chef, Megan.

Here are two very easy and very cute Halloween treats you can make with your younger children for a Halloween party or just to enjoy. Older kids will enjoy making them also, but these two are particularly great for the younger kids, and snacking on them after is always fun. They also didn't break the bank to make, which is always one of my goals.

So let’s get to it!

First, the Apple Smiles. You’ll need apples, peanut butter, and mini marshmallows. The first two steps are for the adult or older child: quarter the apple and cut out the seeds. Slice each quarter into fourths.

To make the smiles, spread peanut butter on two slices of apple. Fix 5 mini marshmallows onto one slice, standing up, not lying down. Place another peanut buttered apple slice on top. Easy, right? And so much fun to make!

Here’s my lovely assistant, my daughter Megan, who has Down syndrome, making Apple Smiles with me. At first she was laying the marshmallows on their sides, but then I showed her how to make them stand up. You can see how happy she was afterwards to show off what we made.

Now for the Zombie Heads. You’ll need a bag of white Candy Melts (Wilton), food coloring, white yogurt covered pretzels, and decorations. We used pearl gems, Halloween M&Ms, and those tiny colored ball sprinkles. Use whatever you have on hand.

Melt about 25 or so of the Candy Melts in a double boiler or in the microwave. Then place about 2-3 tablespoons worth in a small bowl and add food coloring. We did the different colors one at a time because if we did them all at once, they would harden and have to be melted again. So here you see the blue we used first.

With a butter knife, spread a little of the colored mixture into the top two wells of the pretzel. These are the eyes, with the bottom being the gaping mouth.

Add decorations in the middle of the colored eyes, to be the eyeballs. Press them down slightly to hold them there.

Here is my lovely assistant Megan again, making Zombie Heads with me. And showing off the finished product. She really was happy, but the photo with her smiling real big was blurry! ;-)

So there you go, two easy treats to make together for a time of  fun and making memories with your children. I hope you enjoy making them as much as Megan and I did.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Garlic Butter Shrimp and Quinoa

Quinoa is one of those lovely grains of which we actually eat the seeds, like buckwheat. I’ve used quinoa flour for several years, which was interesting, but for the first time this year, I used the quinoa seeds. They have a very unique texture, and I’m saying that as one who has sensory issues, so I notice texture a lot. I really liked it; it was not unpleasant to me at all. It’s somewhat expensive, but if you can get it at a natural foods store in bulk, it’s well worth it.

This recipe combines the delicious flavor, high protein, and unique texture of quinoa with shrimp, garlic, and a touch of red pepper flakes for some spice. I nixed the celery and added in broccoli florets instead. I also used cooked small shrimp to spread the shrimp further, and decided against the oregano. The result was so delicious, the leftovers were fought over! I’m sure you’ll enjoy this too.

So, let’s get cooking!

Dice the onion, green and red bell pepper, and mince the garlic.

Cut the broccoli into florets.

In a little oil, sauté the peppers, onion, and garlic in a skillet for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Add the quinoa and cook for a minute to toast somewhat, stirring.

Pour in the chicken broth and the dried thyme. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Stir and level the ingredients in the skillet. Place the broccoli florets evenly on top of the quinoa mixture. Cover and simmer again until broccoli is al dente, about 10 minutes or so.

Add the shrimp on top, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes to heat the cooked shrimp. Stir in the melted butter and red pepper flakes.

Serve and enjoy! ~TMMF

Garlic Butter Shrimp and Quinoa

4 c fresh broccoli florets
1 Vidalia onion
1 bell pepper, ½ green, ½ red
4 cloves garlic
1 c uncooked quinoa
2 c chicken broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1 lb small cooked shrimp
2 Tbl butter, melted
½-1 tsp red pepper flakes

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Valerie's Creamy Mexican Soup

This is a recipe that I made based on one I found on All Recipes, called Amy’s Mexican Soup. It sounded so good, but when the rubber hit the road, I changed it so much that it seemed silly to keep her name for it. So I named it Valerie’s Creamy Mexican Soup. To see the original, go look it up; it‘s too much to list all the changes here. You just *know* I added a boatload of veggies to it. ;-) As for what this soup is now, stay tuned and I’ll show you what I did. ;-)

So, let’s get cooking!

Prep the veggies. Remove the seeds and dice the jalapeño peppers small. Remember to use gloves, and wash your hands well afterwards. And the knife, And the cutting board. ;-)

Dice the sweet onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Mince the garlic. I use my garlic press most of the time for that.

Peel and dice the carrot into small pieces.

Cube the chicken breast. I like to make the pieces rather small; it spreads it further in the recipe. Sauté in a large pot with a little oil. Then set aside.

In the same pot, use a little oil to sauté the celery, bell and jalapeño peppers, onions, garlic, and carrot until tender, about 8 minutes or so.

Drain and rinse the kidney and black beans. Add to the sautéed veggies, along with the chicken, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, chili powder, and cumin.

Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer for 30 minutes.

Cut the cream cheese into chunks. Turn off the heat and add the cream cheese to the soup, whisking in until thoroughly combined. Serve with shredded Fiesta Blend cheese on top if desired.

Enjoy! ~TMMF

Valerie’s Mexican Soup

1 lb chicken breast
2 lg jalapeño peppers
½ green bell pepper
1 sweet onion
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
4 c chicken stock
1 14.5 oz can kidney beans
1 14.5 oz can black beans
1 Tbl chili powder
1 tsp cumin
8 oz cream cheese
shredded Fiesta Blend cheese

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pizza, Part 14: Stuffed Crust Pizza

Stuffed Crust Pizza….ever since the pizza places came out with it, I’ve loved it. It’s always so much more expensive than the regular crust, so you know I had to try and recreate it. ;-) It took me a few tries to figure out the best way to do it, so the cheese would stay inside the crust, but I finally got it. I think you’ll really like this one. And I put ground meat on mine with a couple veggies. Use whatever you want, but I’ll show it the way I made it.

So, let’s get cooking!

In a skillet, sauté the hamburg or ground turkey until cooked. I generally use the ground turkey because I can’t afford hamburg unless it’s on clearance. ;-) When done, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, chop the vegetables you plan on using.

Spread the pizza dough on a greased round pizza pan. The one I have is a 15” diameter pizza pan. You can find my pizza dough recipe here. Spread the dough evenly, all the way to the edge.

Taking the mozzarella sticks, place them about half an inch from the edge of the dough, with the sticks end to end.

Start folding the dough over the mozzarella sticks and roll it a little bit more towards the middle of the pizza dough. Press down the dough on the inside side of the sticks, to seal it good.

You have to kind of keep the sticks end to end with no spaces in between, and kind of curve them the best you can. It’s not going to be perfectly round, but the Geometry Police won’t be stopping by to measure. They don’t know where you live anyway. ;-)

Spread the sauce on the pizza and then sprinkle the cheese on top.

Top with the meat and veggies, or whatever toppings you’ve chosen.

Bake in a 425° oven for 18 minutes exactly, and you’re ready to roll. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Stuffed Crust Pizza

1 pizza dough
8 ½ mozzarella sticks (approx.)
1 c sauce
1½ c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 lb ground turkey
½ green bell pepper
½ sweet onion

Friday, October 16, 2015

Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

What could be more comforting on a cool night than a plate of spaghetti and meatballs? How about a bowl of Spaghetti and Meatball Soup? This is a great recipe that I found on Skinny Taste. You make it all in one pot, which is a bonus.

The changes I made: I added basil and oregano to the soup, and instead of the small amount of tomato sauce, I used a can of crushed tomatoes. I also added green bell pepper to the soup, and green bell pepper plus grated carrot to the meatballs. You knew I’d be sneaking extra veggies in there, right? ;-)

The only negative thing I can say about this recipe is that the meatballs are better cooked in the oven and added later. The first time I made it, I did cook them in the soup as directed, and you can go ahead and do that, but they didn’t hold together as well as when they were baked and added at the end. It doesn’t add to the work; I mean, you have to cook them anyhow, whether you do it in the soup or in the oven, right?

So, let’s get cooking!

First, dice the pepper and onions. Mince the garlic and peel and grate the carrot. The carrot will be used in the meatball mixture.

Sauté half of the diced peppers and onions and the minced garlic in the oil in a large pot, until tender.

Add the chicken broth, water, crushed tomatoes, and spices. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for twenty minutes.

While that’s cooking, make the meatballs. In a bowl, mix together the ground turkey, the other half of the diced peppers and onions, grated carrot, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and eggs. I find that using my hands to mix it is the best way. This is also a fun step for kids to do and have them involved in the cooking.

Form the meatballs by using a small scoop to make little one inch balls. This is also a fun way for the kids to help. I portion out the meatball mixture, and then have one of the kids roll them with their hands.

If you’re going to cook them in the soup, just set them aside, but if you’re doing them in the oven, which I do recommend, put them on a sheet pan and toss them in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes or so.

If you’re cooking the meatballs in the soup, add them now, and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the broken spaghetti. I broke it into thirds.

If you’re doing the meatballs in the oven, add the broken spaghetti (in which case I still broke it into thirds, hahaha!) to the soup, cooking for about 7-8 minutes, and then add the cooked meatballs.

Ladle into the bowls and watch the smiles. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

1 green bell pepper
1 Vidalia onion
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
5 c chicken broth
2 c water
1 1.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbl dried parsley
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 tap black pepper
1 lb ground turkey
3/4 c breadcrumbs
1/4 c parmesan cheese
2 eggs

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Braid

This dish is one of those that you just know you’re going to try and think you done died and gone to heaven. It’s like the epitome of the best hot pocket that ever lived. Yes, it’s that good! I got it from Wine and Glue (<---what??) earlier this year. The thing is, it’s a little more involved than most recipes, but sooooo worth it.

One problem I had was that there was just one photo for it, the finished picture, and I had to just hope I was doing it right. That’s one of the reasons I started TMMF, and why I use so many photos, so people can see what they need to do and not hunt around in the dark hoping they’re doing it right. So you will enjoy the benefit of that and be able to create this lovely piece of heaven easier, with pictures and clear directions.

I have to say, this makes enough for about 4 people, so for a bigger family, you’ll need two. I seriously wanted to eat the whole thing myself, it was that awesome, but then my kids would have whined that they were hungry. ;-)

So, let’s get cooking!

Sauté the chicken in a skillet with a little oil.

Cook the peas and carrots, then drain. The recipe said frozen, but I didn’t have any, so I used frozen peas and then diced a carrot for it.

When the chicken is cooled, dice somewhat small.

Grate the cheddar cheese.

In a bowl, soften the cream cheese a little in the microwave so it’ll mix easy. Use a whisk to combine the cream cheese and condensed cream of chicken soup.

Mix in the chicken, cheese, peas, and carrots.

Now, with parchment paper on your sheet pan, unroll the sheet of crescent roll dough. I had the crescent rolls, not the sheet, so I unrolled them, laid them down together, and pressed the perforations together.

With a knife, lightly press into the dough to mark it into thirds the long way, as a guide.

Then slice the two outer thirds into 1” strips.

Spoon out the mixture into the middle of the dough. Then start "braiding." The idea is to fold the strips over, alternating sides and overlapping, but when I did it, it seemed to need me to do the top two strips on the left, then the top two strips on the right. Then I was able to do one left strip, then one right strip, yada yada. Do that all the way down, and press together each end of the lovely dumpling to seal it.

When the whole thing is done, you just bake it in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let it sit and catch its breath for a few minutes, then slice and serve. Oh my, you’ve never tasted anything this good!!

Enjoy! ~TMMF

Chicken Pot Pie Crescent Braid
   (serves 4)

1 can refrigerated crescent roll sheet
1 c worth cooked chicken breast
1 c peas and carrots
½ c cream of chicken condensed soup
4 oz cream cheese
½ c shredded cheddar cheese

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lasagna Soup

Oh how I love cold weather meals! Stews, soups, casseroles….and how about a casserole soup?? This one comes from Damn Delicious, and is it ever good! It combines the best of lasagna with the warm comforts of soup, without all the fat and calories. Of course, I did tweak it a little. I added some zucchini to the mix--you knew I would, right? ;-)

The recipe did call for a pound of ground Italian sausage, but being that I’m inclined to find ways to eat rich on a shoestring budget, I used two large Italian sausages that I had in the freezer. They were also cooked already, leftovers from a summer meal. All I did was thaw and cut. Works for me. :)

So, let’s get cooking!

Set a pot of water to boiling for the pasta. When it’s cooked al dente, drain and rinse with cold water, setting aside.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. I peel it and have it ready for my handy dandy garlic press when it’s time to sauté. My dad and his wife gave it to me years ago and it’s one of my most used kitchen tool. I hate cleaning it, but love using it. ;)

Dice the zucchini any way you want. This time my assistant chef Megan cut it like cucumbers for a salad.

In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil. If you’re using ground Italian sausage, this is when you’d throw it in to cook, nixing the oil. Otherwise, carry on. ;)

Slice the sausage if you’re using leftover like I did. I cut it into small pieces to spread it further.

Add the chicken stock or broth, the diced tomatoes, and the spices. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer for another ten minutes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….oh, wait, never mind. ;-) While that’s cooking, make the topping. Simply mix the ricotta and parmesan cheeses together in a bowl.

When the zucchini has cooked, toss in the sausage and pasta, cooking just to heat through.

Ladle out the soup into bowls and top with about two tablespoons of the topping mixture, adding shredded mozzarella on top. When served, just mix that into the soup and get ready to sigh with the warm fuzzies of gastric contentment. ;)

Enjoy! ~TMMF

Megan cutting zucchini
                   Lasagna Soup

                   8 oz smallish pasta
                       (I used radiatore)
                   1 lb ground Italian sausage
                   1 Tbl oil
                   3 cloves garlic
                   1 Vidalia onion
                   2 small zucchinis
                   6 c chicken stock or broth
                   1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
                   2 tsp oregano 1 tsp black pepper
                   ½ -1 tsp red pepper flakes
                   8 oz ricotta cheese
                   ½  c parmesan cheese
                  1 c or so mozzarella