Friday, September 25, 2009

Banana Bread

My friend Laura had a fun "end of summer" party at her house today for all the kiddos. She had two little pools set up in her backyard, a slip & slide, a water table, and we had a potluck picnic lunch. It was such a great idea!! The kids all played outside and had a blast while the mommies got to sit around talking. I mentioned at one point I had made banana bread yesterday, and Jen B. said I should post the recipe because it was super easy. I checked the Weight Watchers website for a recipe but didn't like what I found. I also checked Cooking Light and found some that looked good, but the ones I liked I was missing some of the ingredients. So I checked and found one that was super easy and came up when I used healthy recipes as a qualifier in my search. (Wow..."qualifier in my search" is a phrase I haven't used in quite some time!) This was by far the easiest banana bread recipe I have ever made!

Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one loaf pan.

Mix ingredients in the order listed. Pour into loaf pan and bake one hour or until the loaf tests clean.


See? Totally easy! I tell ya, banana bread does not last long around here. There are maybe two slices left in the pan. A bunch of banana bread fiends I have on my hands! This was really good, and like I said, super easy. However, when I put it into the WW Recipe Builder tool, it came out as 4 points per slice (assuming 14 slices in the loaf), which doesn't really make it worth it to me. Yeah it's good, but I can think of better ways to use four points than on a slice of banana bread. Like...two light beers! ;)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sloppy Joes

I'm really not very excited about tonight's dinner, but I couldn't come up with anything different to make that didn't involve a trip to the store. And I first had lentil tacos slated for tonight, and this does sound slightly better than that. I think my first week on WW I should have stuck with recipes I know and have made before instead of trying all new ones.

Sloppy Joes

4 tsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp hot red pepper sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 rolls or hamburger buns

In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat the oil. Saute the onions, celery, carrot, and bell pepper until the onions are translucent, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the oregano and thyme, then add the beef and cook, breaking it apart until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, tomato paste, and 2 Tbsp water; add to the beef mixture and cook 1 minute. Stir in the worcestershire sauce, vinegar, pepper sauce, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Serve on the rolls/buns.


I usually really like sloppy joes, so I don't know why I'm so lukewarm about this. I think we'll have baked potatoes on the side and some kind of mixed vegetable blend.


These were just okay. I like my usual Sloppy Joe recipe a lot better and will probably stick with that going forward. None of us were overly fond of this recipe.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Southern Oven "Fried" Chicken

I have many, many Weight Watchers cookbooks. I went through one of them recently and marked a ton of recipes to try. So when I was figuring out my meal plan for the week I started with that cookbook. This sounded good and easy, plus I have an almost empty box of corn flakes in my pantry, so this seemed like a good way to use that up and clear out some pantry space.

Southern Oven "Fried" Chicken
POINTS: 5 per serving

1/2 cup fat free buttermilk
2-3 drops hot red pepper sauce
1/2 cup corn flakes, crushed
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 pounds chicken parts, skinned
4 tsp canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk and pepper sauce. On a sheet of wax paper, combine the cornflake crumbs, flour, salt, and pepper. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the cornflake mixture, coating completely. Place the chicken on the baking sheet; drizzle with the oil. Bake 30 minutes; turn the chicken over. Bake until cooked through, 15-20 minutes longer.


I'm going to use chicken breasts instead of parts because it's what I have. Oh, and since I'm using boneless chicken breasts the cooking time should be much shorter than what's listed in the recipe. I think I'll probably put the chicken pieces on a baking rack on the baking sheet so that the bottom doesn't get soggy. For side dishes I'm going to make mashed potatoes and some kind of vegetable, probably peas or green beans.


This was surprisingly good! To be honest I thought I was going to need a back-up dinner plan when I was breading the chicken. I didn't read the recipe right and ended up pouring in way more flour than what was called for, so I was worried it was going to taste like chicken with too much flour on it. But, this was REALLY, REALLY good! Using the baking rack really helped, too. I ended up using three chicken breasts, but I pounded them out and cut them in half, so I had six pieces of chicken. Only four fit on my baking rack, so I put two right on the cookie sheet. Those two were pretty soggy, but the ones done on the baking rack were nice and crispy. I also sprayed them with non-stick spray which probably helped some too. This is definitely something I'd make again--and a great way to use up a little bit of leftover corn flakes! We actually had the leftovers the next night as chicken sandwiches. I mixed up some dijon mustard and mayonnaise and spread on hamburger buns, then topped the chicken breasts with lettuce, tomato, and lite muenster cheese. They were fantastic!!

Spicy Black Bean Soup

This is one of my most favorite WW recipes ever!! I planned out my breakfasts and lunches this week so I can keep track of my points easier. This recipe popped in my head, and I got ridiculously excited. It's so yummy! When I was in college both of my roommates were vegetarians. When we lived on campus, my roommate Courtney would always get black bean soup in the dining hall when they served it. I joked that it looked like sludge and was totally grossed out when she'd eat it. I don't really know when I came about and started liking black beans, but they're probably my favorite bean. I used to add them to everything for a little extra protein and fiber--especially spaghetti sauce and mixed in with rice. Sadly the husband doesn't like black beans, so I don't eat them as often as I used to.

I'm making this soup to have for lunch throughout the week. I really struggle with lunch because if we have leftovers from the night before I usually send them with the husband for his lunch, and whatever the kids eat usually doesn't appeal to me (I can only have so many PB&J sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs). A lot of days I end up just snacking instead of ever eating lunch, so I'm hoping if I plan out my lunches for the week I'll do a lot better.

Weight Watchers Spicy Black Bean Soup
POINTS® Value: 3

1 spray(s) cooking spray
1 medium onion(s), finely chopped
4 medium garlic clove(s), minced
45 oz canned black beans, undrained, divided (three 15 oz cans)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
14 1/2 oz fat-free chicken broth, or vegetable broth
10 oz canned tomatoes with green chilies, such as Rotel Tomatoes
11 oz canned yellow corn, drained

Coat bottom of a large stockpot with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Place one can of beans in blender; add sautéed onion mixture, red pepper flakes and cumin. Cover and blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture back into stockpot.

Place second can of beans and broth in blender and puree until smooth; add to stockpot.

Stir third can of beans (do not puree first), tomatoes and green chilies, and corn into stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Yields about 1 1/2 cups of soup per serving.

© 2009, Inc. All rights reserved.
WEIGHT WATCHERS and POINTS are the registered trademarks of Weight Watchers International, Inc.


Mmmmm!! I didn't realize how low on garlic I was, so I will probably just use garlic powder since I didn't buy any at the store this week. I really have no desire to run out for one thing with both kids (one of which is a sick baby), so garlic powder will have to do.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Crusty Black Bean Chorizo Subs

Oh man. I am so, so, so, so, so excited for dinner tonight!! I was watching an episode of Rick Bayless' show Mexico One Plate at a Time recently where he was talking about Lucha Libre (the crazy Mexican wrestling with masks) and made a super torta. It looked FANTASTIC. Then it just so happened that the last time I was looking at cookbooks at the library, his Mexican Everyday cookbook was back, so I checked it out and am once again holding it hostage. I was flipping through it and found that the torta he made on that episode was in the cookbook. It also just so happened that I have some chorizo in the freezer I need to be using up, so this worked out great. I've been looking forward to this dinner for a week now. I was going to make it last night, but my aunt called and invited us over for mixed grill. I'm not one to turn down a dinner made by someone else--especially if my uncle is grilling--so I bumped this back to tonight.

Crusty Black Bean Chorizo Subs
aka Tortas de Chorizo y Frijoles Negros
Copyright 2005, Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday

8 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed (about 1 cup)
3-4 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil (divided use)
Two 15-ounce cans black (or other) beans
4 bolillo rolls, crusty French rolls or submarine sandwich rolls (6-7 inches long, 3 inches wide)
6 ounces queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe to follow)

Set a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the chorizo. Cook, breaking up the clumps, until browned and thoroughly cooked, about 8-9 minutes. Add 1-2 Tbsp of the oil (depending on how much fat the chorizo has rendered) and the beans. As the beans come to a simmer, mash them to a smooth paste with a Mexican bean masher, old-fashioned potato masher or the back of a large cooking spoon. Cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the consitency of very soft mashed potatoes--expect about 10 minutes after adding the beans. Taste and season with the salt if you think necessary. Keep warm over the lowest heat, covered to keep the beans soft and moist.

Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium. Slice the rolls open. use fingers or a spoon to scrape out some of the soft bread in the center of each half, making a small hollow. Brush the insides with the remainig 2 Tbsp oil, then lay them cut side down on the griddle or skillet to crisp to a rich golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Smear about 1/2 cup of the chorizo-bean mixture over the bottom half of each roll. Top with slices of the cheese and the avocado. Spoon on the salsa or dash on the hot sauce. Set the top of each roll i place, and you're ready to serve.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Copyright 2005, Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday

4 medium (8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
Hot green chiles to taste (2 serrano or 1 jalapeno), stemmed and roughly chopped
About 1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lay in the garlic and tomatillos, cut side down. When the tomatillos are well browned, 3-4 minutes, turn everything over and brown the other side. The tomatillos should be completely soft.

Scrape the tomatillos and garlic into a blender or food processor and let cool to room temperature, about 3 minutes. Add the chiles, cilantro, and 1/4 cup water. Blend to a coarse puree. Pour into a salsa dish and thin with a little additional water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.

Scoop the chopped onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water. Stir into the salsa. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 tsp.


Mmmmmmm...I cannot wait for this dinner!!! The chorizo I'm using is bulk chorizo, so I don't need to worry about removing the casing. It's also chicken chorizo, which I'm assuming is slightly healthier. I just started doing Weight Watchers to get rid of this darn baby weight, so I'm all about healthier choices. I'll probably cut back some on the oil, too.

I wasn't really sure what to do for a side, so I looked on and found a potato recipe that sounded pretty good and like it would be a nice accompaniment...Ancho Chile Fries. We'll probably have a salad on the side, too.


Rick Bayless is a god among men...but only in a food/cooking way, not in a blasphemous, breaking-a-commandment way. Oh man...these were so good!!! Super easy to put together, too. I'm so glad there was some left because I've already slated it for lunch today. I didn't put enough of the salsa on mine at first, so I added some more. YUM! The boy didn't really like it, but the baby ate quite a bit of the chorizo/bean mixture. Crazy, huh?! I swear that baby will eat anything. The chorizo wasn't very spicy, otherwise I wouldn't have given it to him. It could have been a little spicier, but that's really my only complaint, and really it was my own doing. I will definitely make these again!!!

Oh, and the salsa was AWESOME!! I'm kicking myself for not having bought any tortilla chips when I went grocery shopping this week. We have to go to Target today, so I'll be sure to pick some up there so I can enjoy every last drop of the tomatillo salsa.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Easy Sole Meuniere

I'm definitely on a Barefoot Contessa kick lately, as this is another of her recipes. Maybe I should just start cooking my way through all of her books. I was at the grocery store I don't like recently, and they had packages of Dover Sole on manager's special. I rarely see sole in the markets, much less marked down! So, I grabbed two packages because I had remembered seeing this in the Back to Basics cookbook. I already had my meal plan figured out for last week, so I slated it for tonight. I'm so excited to try this!! I got even more excited when last week on Top Chef, one of the sauces they had to prepare was a meuniere sauce.

Easy Sole Meuniere
Copyright 2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Have 2 heat-proof dinner plates ready

Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow plate. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side with salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side cooks, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish filets on the ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining 2 fillets. When they're done, add the cooked fillets to the plates in the oven. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.


Sounds simple and delicious!!! I might make a Barefoot Contessa wild rice dish to go with this, but the recipe isn't on the Food Network website, and I'm feeling too lazy to go get the cookbook and type it out. We'll see how I feel about cooking it at dinner time. If I don't make that I think I have a box of Trader Joe's Mushroom Risotto in the pantry I can make, and then some kind of vegetable on the side. Yum! Oooh...I should go put a bottle of white wine in the fridge now so it's ready at dinner time!

Steak Fajitas

Last night we had steak fajitas for dinner. I wasn't really sure how to season the cousin's fajita seasoning recipe, my friend Jen B's fajita recipe, or find a completely new one. I decided to use my cousin's but change it up a bit.

My Cousin Kim's Fajita Seasoning Recipe

Her recipe uses chicken bouillon, but since I was doing steak I thought that might be weird. So I substituted for Montreal Steak Seasoning. I also added in a bit more cumin (because I really heart cumin) and instead of 2 Tbsp of chili powder, I did half chili powder and half ancho chili powder. I wasn't sure what the directions were on a packet of regular fajita seasoning, so I just used this like a dry rub on the steak I was grilling.

Wow. WOW!! This was super tasty!!! The meat was so flavorful. I loved the sort of crust it got on the outside of it from the seasoning rub. Even though i ended up using the meat for fajitas, I'd use this as just seasoning for a regular steak or London Broil. I will definitely make this again!

Thanks, Kim, for a great recipe!!

(Here's something weird...before I posted this just now, I noticed over on my side bar where I see who comes to my blog that something like four people had recently gone to my original post with the recipe. Isn't that weird?!)

Birthday Sheet Cake is it I've fallen off the blog posting wagon again?! what is wrong with me?! Oh yeah, I haven't really been cooking. Last week was a FAIL. We didn't have the stuffed peppers because the husband thought they looked weird and wasn't crazy about the filling, so we pulled some veggie lasagna out of the freezer and had that instead. I had every intention of having the peppers for lunch, but then we ended up eating out for lunch like five days in a row. Weird because that NEVER happens. Friday night we didn't have dinner because he wasn't feeling good, so Saturday night we had Trader Joe's marinated ahi tuna, which ended up being a little mealy since it had been sitting in marinade for 24+ hours. Sigh. Sunday we went to my mom's for dinner, Monday the husband had a meeting at church and had dinner there. It's just crazy when I go through spells like this!

I did do some baking over the weekend for my Barefoot Bloggers group. The first recipe for September was chosen by Susy at Everyday Gourmet in honor of her birthday. Happy Birthday, Susy! This was a recipe I hadn't paid much attention to before (from Ina's Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook) because I don't like to do a lot of baking. It just seems to dirty so many dishes and take so much longer than cooking. But, the boy likes to bake with me, so I do it for him. Ah, the things we do for our kids. Anyway, I read the reviews of this recipe on the Food Network website and was surprised to see that a lot of people didn't like it. I'd never seen that for an Ina recipe before!! I was glad I read through all of them because I figured out how to change mine up so it would be a little better. I'll post the original recipe and then note afterwards how I changed it.

Barefoot Contessa Birthday Sheet Cake
Copyright 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All Rights Reserved

For the cake:
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:
24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chocolate candies for decorating (recommended: M&M's)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.

For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.

Spread the frosting evenly on the cake. Have the children decorate the cake with chocolate candies.


I really had no need to make an entire sheet cake, plus a lot of the reviews said their sheet pans weren't tall enough, and the cake spilled over. I HATE cleaning my oven, so I wanted to avoid that at all costs. In reading posts from some of the other Barefoot Bloggers, I discovered a couple people had done cupcakes! Perfect, I thought! So I cut the recipe in half and did cupcakes. I omitted the lemon zest because I'm not a fan of citrus and chocolate together, plus a lot of the reviews said it was overpowering. They also advised cutting the baking soda down to 3/4 teaspoon, so since I was halving the recipe I only did about 3/8. For the frosting, I used half semisweet chocolate chips and half milk chocolate chips. Did I think to cut the frosting recipe in half? Nope. Now I have a huge container of frosting in my fridge that I don't know what to do with. got any suggestions? Leave me a comment!

Anyway, I overfilled the cupcake pans, so mine ended up kind of square on top once the cupcakes puffed up while baking. Oops. Just gave me more surface area to cover with frosting! I really liked the flavor of the cupcakes themselves...great texture, great flavor. Denser than cupcakes you get from a boxed cake mix, which I enjoyed. The frosting was really, really sweet. I liked it, but I felt like I couldn't put too much on each cupcake because it was so sweet. Maybe because I added in milk chocolate with the semisweet chips. I don't know. I think I'd make these again but use a different frosting recipe for it. Ha! Who am I time I need cupcakes I'll just go get a mix. ;) But, if you like to bake then give this a go!

My zany kitchen helper:

This is why I hate baking...all these dishes for 18 cupcakes?!

My square-topped cupcakes, pre-frosting:

Mmmm...M&Ms on top of cupcakes!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

The rental house we stayed at on our Seattle vacation had a few issues of Vegetarian Times magazine, so I figured I'd flip through them to get some ideas for new vegetarian dinners. Now that I'm down to just nursing the baby once a day I want to start kicking up my weight loss efforts, so I'm going to start making more vegetarian dinners (trying to get back to three or four a week) and bust out my Weight Watchers cookbooks for ideas, too.

I had some quinoa in my pantry and wasn't sure what to do with it. I saw this recipe in the VT magazine and figured I'd make it when red peppers were on sale next. Well, I didn't need to wait because Costco yesterday had a bag of six red peppers for $5.49! The cheapest I can get them at the grocery store is usually $1 each, so I snatched up a bag and put this on the meal plan for this week. I'm excited to try it!!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 Tbs. ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup quinoa
3 large carrots, grated (11/2 cups)
1-1/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.


I'm glad I'm posting this early in the morning...I didn't realize how long it needed to bake! I'm really excited to try this. This will be my first time making (and eating, I think) quinoa. It sounds like this will be pretty flavorful, and I'm hoping it ends up that way. Not sure what we'll have with it since there's a grain in the peppers and vegetables. We may just have a salad to go with it, I'm not sure.

Shrimp and Crab Dip

I wanted to have some kind of dip for the party, so I pulled out my Best of Louisiana cookbook for some ideas. I thought this sounded good and easy...that was all I needed!

Shrimp and Crab Dip

2 cans Small Shrimp
2 blocks Cream Cheese (8 Ounces Each)
½ cans Shrimp Juice
Juice Of 2 Lemons
1 Tablespoon Grated Onion
1 teaspoon Pressed Garlic
1 can Crabmeat (6.5 Ounces)
Tabasco To Taste

Drain shrimp and reserve the juice. Cream the cheese and combine with shrimp juice. Add lemon juice, onion, garlic, crabmeat, Tabasco, and half of the shrimp. Add the last of the shrimp and fold in carefully. Serve with Ritz crackers.


This was REALLY good! I couldn't stop eating it. I think I could have added in more of the shrimp juice, but I didn't want it to be overpowering and figured the flavor would get stronger the longer it sat. This is something I will definitely make again!!

Muffuletta Sandwich

We are back from our trip to Seattle, and I have a ton of blog updating to do!! I can't remember if I had mentioned we were going up there for the LSU vs. UW football game. The husband went to LSU and is a huge Tigers fan. The game wasn't quite the blowout I expected it to be, but it was still fun. We're still a bit hoarse from all the cheering we did.

Prior to the game we had a tailgating party at my bro's house with some of his friends, my friend Jess, my mom, the husband, and my boys. We had quite a feast!! I made Aunt Holly's Gumbo, this muffuletta sandwich, and a shrimp & crab dip. My brother's friend Siri grilled salmon and made an awesome salad with mixed greens, heirloom tomatoes, chives, blue cheese, and a dressing that was kind of like a green goddess. Yum!!! Oh, and my bro had bought three dozen raw oysters. I'm telling you, it was a feast like none other!

The best muffuletta sandwiches are from Central Grocery in New Orleans, but they don't give out the recipe (trust me, I did A LOT of Googling to try and find it). I found this recipe on and thought it sounded good and pretty similar to Central Grocery's. Actually the cookbook this is from is one I'm holding hostage from the library.

Recipe #373115

Olive Salad
1 cup green olives (pitted and coarsely chopped)
1 cup black olives (pitted and coarsely chopped)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces jarred roasted red peppers (drained and chopped fine, 1/2 cup)
4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (drained and chopped, 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced

1 large round Italian bread (or French bread)
8 ounces thinly sliced mortadella
8 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
8 ounces thinly sliced hard salami

For the olive salad, mix everything together. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.

To make the sandwich: Drain olive salad, saving the marinade. Cut the bread in half horizontally and remove most of the soft interior. Brush both inside pieces of the bread with the reserved marinade.

Place half of the olive salad in the bottom half of the hollowed-out bread. Top it with the cold cuts. Put on the rest of the olive salad. Put top half of bread on top of it all.

Wrap in plastic wrap. Put it between two dinner plates. (It might work best to turn the top plate upside down, depending on if the plates have any curvature to them or not.) Put 2 or 3 heavy cans on top of it to work as weights. (Mufuletta is pressed-down sandwich). Chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.

To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges.


I was having a hard time finding mortadella so resorted to looking for spicy bologna instead, but I ended up finding it at a fancy schmancy grocery store in the deli. I tell you, I would go broke grocery shopping if I lived in Seattle! There are so many nice grocery stores there. I also added ham to mine because I could have sworn that the muffs at Central Grocery had ham as well. This was a FANTASTIC sandwich! The husband said it was as close as he'd ever had to Central Grocery's, so I took that as a huge compliment! I ended up using a loaf of Italian bread because I couldn't find rounds anywhere. And really it could have been pressed down for longer (and with something heavier, but it was slim pickings for things at my brother's), but it was pretty freakin' awesome. I'm guessing the husband will be requesting it every now and then to get his muff fix!

Sigh...I have pics to add to this post, but they keep erroring out. What a pain! I'll post them later.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Some info on high fructose corn syrup

I think I've shared how I've been cutting out products that contain high fructose corn syrup. After doing some research on what it is and learning that childhood obesity rates have increased as HFCS usage has increased (although it's claimed the two are not related, but it seems pretty coincidental, don't you think?), I wanted to cut it out of my family's diet. I started reading lables of EVERYTHING I buy at the grocery store and won't buy a product if HFCS is anywhere in the list of ingredients. If you haven't looked at ingredients for packaged foods, you should. It's pretty enlightening--and scary--what we eat. I'm trying to avoid buying food products that have ingredients I can't pronounce.

Anyway, I came across a blog post with some interesting links and some more info on the potential dangers of HFCS and wanted to share:

High Fructose Corn Syrup = Bad

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White Pizzas with Arugula

Here's the other Barefoot Bloggers recipe for August. A picture of this recipe is on the back cover of the Back to Basics cookbook, and it's always looked super tasty to me. I was excited that this was one of the recipe choices!

White Pizzas with Arugula

For the dough:
* 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
* 2 packages dry yeast
* 1 tablespoon honey
* Good olive oil
* 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
* Kosher salt
* 4 cloves garlic, sliced
* 5 sprigs fresh thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:
* 3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
* 1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
* 11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:
* 1/2 cup good olive oil
* 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 8 ounces baby arugula
* 1 lemon, sliced

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Let it rise. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.


The only thing I changed up was that I used my quick homemade pizza crust recipe instead of the dough/crust recipe here. Mostly because I didn't want six pizzas, I just wanted one and knew what size crust I'd get with my recipe. And it doesn't have to rise/rest for very long, so I didn't have to get it together way in advance. Getting things together in advance is not my strong suit! Oh, and I didn't have fresh thyme, so I just sprinkled in some dried. I was bummed because I really like fresh thyme, but I couldn't find it at either store I was at yesterday (Walmart and Trader Joe's...I actually didn't look at Walmart because I figured TJ's would have it...that's the first time TJ's has let me down...sigh.).


Wow. WOW. This pizza was so yummy!! The husband was darn near drooling looking at the piles of shredded cheese on the counter when I was assembling the pizza. I ended up only putting the arugula on half of the pizza because the husband seemed really skeptical of it, and I didn't know if the boy would eat it that way. I LOVED it with the arugula on top...I love the peppery bite of arugula and with the lemon and olive oil mixed in it added a great flavor and texture to the pizza. I honestly thought the bites I had with just cheese and no arugula were a little too cheesy--and that's not something I say very often, if ever! We all really liked this, and this will definitely be a pizza I make again!

(Picture to come later once I get it uploaded!)