Saturday, December 31, 2011

.so long and faired well.

when i reflect on 2011 like many of us are doing today, i've gotta tell you- i feel really blessed. while there were those moments that left me breathless like losing my little mochaccino and a very rough start to a work year, there were so many others that took my breath away.
in the spring of this year, i married my eye guy and sealed our deal forever. it's me and you, kid. with our marriage, we both gained new forever families. i couldn't be more grateful for all the wonderful people that have been added to my life.

in the summer, we rescued and adopted our scraggly, rollin-about, grunting, adorable applejack. and, poptart loves his new brother. we're a happy family.

friends have had babies, others have celebrated their babies' varying birthdays, others yet have become engaged to be married themselves and start their next chapter.

i gave birth to this, my blog, in 2011 and that in and of itself has been a sweet journey for me in both my kitchen and with writing, a true passion for me.

on the days i'm upset about how tight my pants are or how early i have to wake up for work or why i can't find anything to cook for dinner, let me remember all that i do have. putting things in perspective isn't always practical and is even harder to do all the time. however, i would like to make strides in the year ahead to do just that.

with 2012 a blink away, i look at the twelve blank chapters that lie before me and wonder what tales i'll write this year. what about yourself? our best stories come from what we overcome and accomplish. i wish for you stories of triumph, humor, adventure, love and most of all peace. happy writing...

Monday, December 26, 2011

.sweet tater waffles.

what to do with all those leftover sweet about make a savory sweet tater waffle?

take one baked sweet potato and mash it up really well. mix in 1/2 an egg. wait a second, half an egg? yes, just scramble it and use only half. you trust me, right?

go ahead and heat up your waffle maker and spray it with some non-stick spray.

then, mix in a dash of salt, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of ginger. if you have little tiny hands, maybe do two pinches. if you have huge, giant hands, don't overdo your pinches now. add one 1/3 cup cake flour. keep stirring.

take 1 tbs butter and 1/8 cups of milk and mix, mix, mix. if you are not as a big a fan of math as i am, i'll let you in on a little number secret. take your 1/4 measuring cup and just fill it halfway up.

pour your sweet tater batter in your heated waffle maker and sprinkle a few chopped pecans over top. close the lid and let the waffle maker make. once the waffle is well formed, add a little dollop of butter and sprinkle some more cinnamon on top. you've got yourself a baked sweet potato in waffle form. enjoy.

sweet tater waffles
what you need
1 baked sweet tater
1/2 an egg
dash of salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ginger
dash of cinnamon
1 tbs butter
1/8 cup milk
few chopped pecans
1/3 cup cake flour

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

.buffalo chicken tacos.

let me frank. i'll be me of course, but i intend to have you let me put it bluntly. this is an easy recipe.

chop up some celery and toss it with ranch or blue cheese dressing. chop up some lettuce of your choice. we like really dark green lettuce in our house. chop up some cooked chicken and toss it with a concoction of buffalo wing sauce. chop up some tortillas- wait- i got carried away. just get out some tortillas.

layer the tacos like so: buffalo winged chicken (that's not in fact wings at all), then lettuce, then celery swimming in ranch or blue cheese. if you have it on hand (which i did not), some blue cheese crumbled on top would totally take this taco to a divine level.

for you vegetarians, yeah, i'm talking to me. use some fake chicken. you know you love morning star farm products. yeah, i'm talking to me again.

dinner is done.

buffalo chicken tacos
what you need
chicken breasts (one large breast should be enough for 2-3 tacos)
buffalo wing sauce or buffalo wing dip for added thickness
ranch or blue cheese dressing
tortillas (one per taco hehe)
blue cheese crumbles (optional)

what to do
cook your chicken on the stovetop or in the oven. chop it up and mix with buffalo winginess. chop up your celery into little pieces and toss with dressing.
prepare your lettuce for tacos by chopping into smaller pieces. assemble all ingredients inside tortilla and top with blue cheese crumbles if you have some on hand. serve it up with a big smile on your face.

.welcome to the neighborhood.

when some close friends introduced us to their friends from another part of tennessee, i knew they were good people. friendly and kind, i was excited to soon learn they'd be moving to memphis themselves due to a career change.

there are three of them, if you're counting the little baby boy hidden inside that baby bump. what an exciting time in their lives and i can only imagine the jitters of a new city, new home, new career and new baby all at once.

.new mixers maiden voyage for new beginnings.

so, what would be the perfect magic elixir to ease all their nerves? cookies. ok, maybe it isn't an answer in and of itself, but it sure is a nice way to welcome someone to the "neighborhood."

i used this recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and hoped that the growing baby would enjoy them the most.

to finish up the welcome gift, i boxed the sweets in a little white box.

then, added some ribbon for pizazz and cuteness. who doesn't love cuteness?

welcome to memphis- we hope you're going to like it here!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

.granola a.k.a. crack.

am i allowed to just write "do this. it's good."? sure i am, i can write whatever i want. but you probably know by now that i'm not really an expert in keeping things precise.

i had a craving come to me that i wore like an invisible food cloak all day. without shaking it, my only choice was to make it happen. to make it.

granola. it really is a simple concept, but man can it be delicious. here's how to make some for yourself. preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

mix 3 cups of oats in a large bowl with 1/3 cup sliced almonds, and 1/2 cup coconut.

add a tsp each of cinnamon and salt. the cinnamon will give a much needed punch of taste and the salt will bring out the flavor in everything. it is a magical ingredient.

set the bowl of mixed ingredients to the side and grab a saucepan. melt one stick of unsalted butter, 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup of honey until it is one cohesive sticky liquid.

once the saucepan mixture is a smooth liquid, pour it over your bowl of dry ingredients and mix it all together. let me just warn you of something right here. if you do not like the most enticing aroma ever, do not make this because your nostrils will be under a wonderful attack.

spread your granola mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet. bake for 15 minutes and then remove to toss. bake for another 15 minutes and remove to toss once more. then, finish it off by baking for another 10 minutes.

after allowing the flavored oats-turned-granola to cool completely, feel free to add some little tasties. i added dried cranberries to mine, but you could add your favorite dried fruit, some dark chocolate, mini marshmallows, whatever suits your taste buds.

this stuff is food crack. my eye guy and i both love nibbling on it. top some greek yogurt with this stuff and you have a dynamic breakfast. mix it with frozen yogurt and add a lovely crunch to your dessert.

believe me when i tell you that you want to make this so you can eat it. and share it. and make friends by doing so.

3 cups oats
1/3 cup almonds
1/2 cup coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
mix in a large bowl the oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon and salt. set aside. in a separate saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and honey until the sugar is all melted. pour the melted mixture over the bowl of dry ingredients and mix.
on a parchment lined baking sheet, spread our your granola flavored oats mixture. with a little heat, it will soon be granola.
bake for 15 minutes, then remove and toss the mixture. bake for another 15 minutes and toss once again. after an additional 10 minutes of baking, toss one last time and allow to cool completely.
after your browned granola has completely cooled, add in some tasty ingredients like dried fruit, dark chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or whatever flavor you like. after one last toss, you have a good amount of delicious granola. there's enough to share.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

.tangy wonton tacos.

oftentimes, there are nights where i feel like my creative dinner juices are more dry than a sleeve of crackers. i'll find myself going towards a staple dish like pasta or enchiladas. however, i prefer trying something new whenever i can, a dish to add to the nighttime repertoire. hence, the beauty of searching for internet recipes provides me that chance.

this recipe i found for wonton tacos is a keeper. not only is it a unique dish, but it is low calorie and really simple to make. i think you're going to like this one too.

i've discovered that keeping a pack of wonton wrappers in the fridge is an excellent idea for all of the different purposes it can serve. so, i started by pulling out 8 of them, draped them over a baking dish into two triangles and turned them a little crunchy in the oven. doing this forms the taco to fill with the yummy stuffings.

while the original recipe calls for chicken, i had some tofu to try out. hey, i can hear you gagging! just stay with me here. even though i'm a long time vegetarian, i can count on my hand the number of times i've actually bought tofu. mainly, i just can't seem to cook it as well as restaurants can and the texture always bothers me. i decided to try again with this recipe by pan-cooking it in a wee bit of cooking spray on the stovetop. i flipped the pieces of firm tofu i'd cut up back and forth until they had a bit of a crisp to them. now, if you are still gagging, feel more than welcome to use chicken like the original recipe suggests.

in a separate microwave safe dish, mix the cole slaw mix and asian dressing and then nuke for about a minute. this will soften the crispy cole slaw a bit and make it mesh well with the dish.

while the mix is microwaving, go ahead and mix your tofu (or chicken) with the bbq sauce. spray a baking sheet and place your eight wonton tacos on it. stuff them with the bbq mixture and top with the asian dressing mixture. you'll only need to bake them for about 5 minutes and ta-da- you're done!

a little extra crunch is something i will never turn down. so, i topped mine with crunchy chow mein noodles. if your goal is a low calorie recipe, you probably should skip this step.

see, i promised you it would be easy. not only are these little buggers simple to make, but they are oh so very good. they have a nice variety of flavors in every bite and you don't even feel guilty when you're finished. i served up four to both my eye guy and myself. i wish i had one ready right now to pop in my mouth. only one way to satisfy that craving...

wonton tacos
adapted from hungry girl

8 small square wonton wrappers (usually stocked with the tofu in the refrigerated section of the market)
1 cup dry coleslaw mix
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (i omitted)
2 tbsp. Newman's Own Lighten Up! Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing (i used kraft low fat asian sesame dressing)
4 oz. cooked and shredded (or finely chopped) skinless lean chicken breast (i used tofu)
2 tbsp. BBQ sauce with about 45 calories per 2-tbsp. serving
1/3 cup chow mein noodles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray the inside and outside walls of a deep square or rectangular baking pan with nonstick spray. Evenly drape the wonton wrappers over the pan's walls on a diagonal, making triangle-shaped "shells." (Use two pans, if needed, to keep wontons from overlapping.) Bake until just crispy enough to hold their shape, about 3 minutes.

Remove pan from the oven, but leave oven on. Carefully remove wontons and gently open to form "taco shells." Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine coleslaw mix, cilantro, and dressing. Mix well. Cover and microwave for about 1 minute, until slightly softened. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine chicken with BBQ sauce; mix well and set aside.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute the BBQ chicken among the shells, followed by the slaw, about 1 tbsp. of each per shell. Lay the filled shells gently on their sides on the baking sheet.

Spray the shells lightly with nonstick spray. Bake until warm and crunchy, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly and then serve!