Monday, December 13, 2010

mpm: week of December 13th

for more menu ideas or to submit your own menu see

MONDAY  pesto-chicken italiano :: crusty bread

TUESDAY  Oven French Toast with Orange Apple Syrup :: sausage

WEDNESDAY  Quick Shrimp Po' Boys :: oranges

THURSDAY  Apple, Ham, and Cheddar Melt :: steamed vegetables

FRIDAY  Pizza Night-  take out from a cheap, local mom and pop pizza place :: raw vegies and dip

SATURDAY  leftovers day

SUNDAY  Chicken Tikka Masala (recipe to come) :: brown rice and/or naan :: fresh mango slices for dessert

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

peaches n cream

I really am going to miss all the fresh picked fruit that comes with visits to the farmer's market or a friend's backyard. Especially our local peaches. My goodness these are good. My favorite way to eat them is sliced thin with a little bit of milk. Otherwise known as Peaches n Cream.
 Thinly slice one peeled peach into a bowl. (You could leave the skins on if you want.)
 Pour in desired amount of milk, almond milk, or rice milk. Perfect as is. You don't need to add sugar.
Serve and enjoy! How easy is that?! I let mine sit for a bit so that the milk gets peach-flavored.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

talk about comforting

I love the brisk chill of Fall. But after spending long amounts outside, I'm ready to come inside and have something warm and comforting in my tummy. 

The last time we visited my Grandmother, she asked us if we wanted something to eat. She began rattling off the various things she had in her fridge. I had no preference as I wasn't very hungry, but then she said, ". . . leftover Cabbage casserole . . . " and I said, "wait, you mean that stuff made with the cabbage, hamburger, and soy sauce?! I haven't had that since I was a teenager!" My mom made it quite often growing up.

This past week or two, .I've been craving the comforts of home. I pulled out our family cookbook and just like I thought, grandma's cabbage casserole was in there. As I was putting it together and sticking it in the oven, I was filled with so much nostalgia. The smells of a familiar dish, actually brought comfort and happiness to my soul.

This might not be the best thing you've ever had, but for me it tastes every bit of delicious as any of my other beloved favorites. I'm not sure how my grandmother came up with this recipe, but I think what makes it unique from other cabbage casseroles are is its minimal ingredients and the fact that there is no tomato sauce or cheese of any kind. Blech! The combination of ingredients used in this recipe give it an Asian flavor in my opinion.

What are some of your favorite comforting dishes that fill you with nostalgia?

Grandma's Cabbage Casserole
1 lb. hamburger (I used organic grass fed beef)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cups chopped cabbage
1-2 carrots, grated
6 cups cooked rice

4 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. soy sauce

Saute meat and onion together until cooked. Drain. Mix together with rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add sauce and combine until coated evenly. Pout into 9x13 casseole dish and bake at 350 for 1 hour. I cover mine for the first 30 minutes and cook uncovered the last 30 minutes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

yogurt parfaits

We love the yogurt and fruit parfaits. They are easy to make and healthy too. That is, if you use plain lowfat yogurt and not the amazing full fat coconut Liberté that I used last time. . .  that made it a dessert.

Yogurt Parfaits
1.5 cups plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh fruit (any variety-the one above just has strawberries)
1 cup granola of choice (we used one with almonds)

Place yogurt in a bowl. Add maple syrup and lemon juice and mix until thoroughly combined. Layer alternately in a parfait glass (or any clear glass you would like to use) the granola, yogurt, and fruit. You can do the layers a number of ways; thin layers, or thick like mine above. You can also use other types of cereal in place of the granola or in a combination. Garnish with a sprig of mint if desired and serve! We love how the maple syrup and lemon juice give the plain yogurt a sweet and flavorful taste.

Monday, October 4, 2010

mpm: week of October 4th

to see other mpms or to add your own go to
B:   fruit and yogurt parfaits (recipe to come)
L:   choco-nana shakes :: toast with honey
D:   hootenanny pancakes :: popeye smoothies

B:   oatmeal :: orange juice
L:   snack platter:  crackers :: cheese :: apples :: almond milk
D:   nachos (recipe to come)

B:   steel-cut oats with apples and pecans
L:   chips and guacamole :: small salad with garden veggies
D:   Pesto-chicken Italiano

B:   oatmeal :: orange juice
L:   pb&j sandwiches :: kiwi fruit :: almond milk
D:   grilled chicken :: spring mix salad with poppy seed dressing

B:   fruit and yogurt parfaits
L:   nachos
D:   pizza night :: Pioneer Woman's Tomato-Basil Pizza

B:   muffins :: orange juice
L:   Pioneer Woman's veggie and cheese bagel
D:   eat out

B:   cold ceral and milk
L:   trail mix :: apple slices :: turkey slices
D:   fajitas :: homeade refried beans (recipe to come) :: mexican rice

Monday, September 13, 2010

mpm: week of September 13th

to see more menus or contribute your own, go here

b:  cold cereal :: orange juice
l:   pasta with garlic and parmesan :: peas :: apples

snacks & treats:  popcorn :: watermelon slushies

l:   pb & honey sandwiches :: carrot sticks with ranch
d:  BBQ chicken salad

snacks & treats:  apples and cheese

b:  cold cereal & almond milk
l:   apples :: carrots :: cheese :: pretzels
d:  eat out

snacks & treats: watermelon slushies :: popcorn

b:  cold cereal :: almond milk
l:   spring mix salad with garden vegies :: bananas

snacks & treats:  crackers :: laughing cow cheese

b:  cold cereal :: almond milk
l:   avocado on toast :: mixed fruit
d:  pizza night :: raw vegies :: ranch dip

snacks & treats:  apples :: peanut butter

b:  cold cereal :: almond milk
l:   tamales from the farmer's market :: salsa :: apple slices
d:  leftovers

snacks & treats:  Oatmeal Squares cereal :: bananas

b:  cold cereal :: milk
l:   pb & apricot jam sandwiches :: vegie chips :: orange juice
d:  fajitas

snacks & treats:  cheesecake :: yogurt :: granola

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

arancini: italian rice balls

Annabel Karmel writes some of my very most favorite children's cookbooks. I have made so many yummy recipes from her books and she inspires me to use my own creativity and ideas for recipes and ways of feeding my family.

These rice balls are from her book, Cook It Together. The reason they are so great? The whole family likes these, they can be put in bentos, and for some reason, making these somehow makes me feel as though I am  one with the Italian side of the family. They would be so proud.

I usually double or triple this recipe.

1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. diced onion
1/3 cup risotto rice
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
5 1/2 oz. mozarella, cut into 5 x 3/4 inch cubes
2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
oil, for frying

1.  Heat the oil. Cook the onion. Add rice and stock. Simmer for 25 minutes until cooked, stirring often. Add 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, salt and pepper.

2.  Cool then refrigerate the rice for 3 hours or until firm. Then break it up, divide it into 5 portions, and squash into balls.

3.  Make a hole in each ball and push in a piece of cheese. Squish the rice around the cheese.

4.  Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining Parmesan. Dip the rice balls into the egg.

5.  Roll the rice balls in the breadcrumb mixture.

6.  When the balls are completely coated, fry them in oil for 5 minutes or until golden.

Serve with your favorite tomato sauce. Or eat them like us! Plain.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

baked brie with pepper jelly

First, get your wheel of brie. This one is from Costco and it's prety big. Just over 19 oz.
Plop it into an oven safe dish.
We love pepper jelly. Not just any ole pepper jelly however. Our favorite is an Oregon company called Rose City Pepperheads. We have been known to order a few from time to time. Our favorite is Apricot With Attitude. We have however found a couple of good substitutes at our local farmer's market since.
What you do next: Bake your brie in an oven safe dish without anything on it. Do not remove the rind. You will bake it at 500 degrees for about 7 minutes, or until Brie is soft.
When you remove it from the oven, you will pour your favorite jam or jelly over the top of your Brie. Another yummy way is cranberry sauce. I have a recipe for another version that I will share at a later time.
Yum. The inside will be nice and melty. It is best served pretty much immediately. This wheel serves a lot of people. So if you want to have it for a smaller crowd or just 2 of you, get a small Brie wheel. This is great served with apples, pears, fancy crackers, etc. You can also make your own pepper jelly. This recipe is delicious!

Friday, August 27, 2010

back to school bentos! (#s 81-87)

For the life of me I could not get this picture to upload in the right direction so turn your heads to the left. This is in the laptop lunchbox. It is seven-layer dip, tortilla chips, cantaloupe chunks, and some cinnamon goldfish.
In the sassy baby mealtime box: whole wheat bread with local honey, baby carrots, cinnamon goldfish, and cantaloupe. This bento was for the 4 year old at home.
In the sassy box again: grapes, chocolate goldfish, deli turkey rolls, vegie straws. (I get a box at Costco that are in snack size bags). This bento was also for the 4 year old.
In the dino dips container: green grapes, cinnammon goldfish, cheddar cheese chunks, turkey, and edamame.
These two twin ones turned out so pretty I think: They are both identical just different color boxes: frozen blueberries, cherry tomatoes from our garden, chicken sausage with apple and gouda cheese, vegie chips.
cantaloupe, yogurt, cherry tomatoes from the garden, and 2 small slices of thin crust cheese pizza.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

mpm: week of August 23rd

to see more menus and share your own, see here!

seven layer dip :: tortilla chips :: watermelon

hawaiian meatloaf (found at orgjunkie's menu this week) :: rice :: tomatoes

zucchini pizza bites :: salad with garden cherry tomatoes

hootenanny pancake :: chicken sausage with apple and gouda cheese :: berries

pizza night :: take-out

leftovers day

chicken fajitas

Monday, August 16, 2010

mpm: week of August 16th

see more menus and/or add your own at

tamales (in steamer) :: watermelon

homemade waffles (recipe to come) :: fruit compote 


potluck picnic at a park


leftovers day


Thursday, August 12, 2010

bentos 79 & 80

organic fuji apple slices, 2 wedges of light laughing cow swiss cheese, 2 Rosemary La Panzanella crackers, and leftover Mike & Ikes from our movie date.
This is an ugly face sandwich. It's pb and grape jelly with cheese face shapes, pretzels, apple slices, and carrot sticks with a little container of caramel underneath for the apples

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

our little garden

This is our second year doing a little community garden. Community as in two other families. One of the families has a big space at their home that wasn't in use for anything so we all pitched in and built this garden. I took these after spending a good couple of hours weeding.  
Above: strawberry patch (with lots of weeds in it still) and tomatoes next to that. We are growing heirloom and cherry. As you can see we've already picked everything.
On the other side of the tomatoes are red and green bell peppers and jalapenos. In the plot next to it, there is currently nothing but weeds. Earlier it had romaine lettuce, broccoli, and peas. Against the gate are various herbs and some swiss chard.
This is our biggest box running along the fence next to where the herbs and swiss chard were in the previous picture. We have zucchini, yellow summer squash, cucumbers (where the wooden lattice is), green beans (where the tall green poles are), and at the very end cantaloupe and baby watermelons.
This is our first take home bounty. I did pick the cantaloupe too soon. I was a little eager. Gardening is a great workout! My body has been sore for days from all that weeding and picking. . .

Monday, August 9, 2010

mpm: week of August 9th

add your menu or see more at orgjunkie

Apricot Chicken :: broccoli :: rice

spinach and pesto lasagna :: crusty garlic bread

brinner: Fly off the Plate Pancakes :: sausage :: fruit

tamales (except not in the crockpot this time) :: cold vegies and melon from our garden

pizza night :: Papa Murphy's

leftovers day

slow cooked pork roast :: salad with garden vegetables :: mashed potatoes

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jam Thumbprint Cookies, or "I Love Butter" Cookies

I remember eating these a few times as a little girl. I know there are recipes for these cookies in vintage cookbooks, because whenever I look through my mom's old cookbooks, or in a used bookstore, I always stop on these recipes and want to make them. I finally did it. I don't remember where the recipe I have came from. It might be Martha Stewart. I like that there are minimal ingredients. This is also a fun recipe for kids to help with because they love making the dents in the middle of the cookies and filling them up with hot jam. I use raw organic sugar. As far as I can tell, there isn't a difference in taste, but I swear you can still see the grain of the sugar and taste the crunch in the finished product. But maybe that's just me. 

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup jam (any type) we used strawberry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, and beat until completely combined. With mixer on low, add flour, and mix just until incorporated.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (about 2 Tablespoons each). Place on baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart.

Moisten thumb with water, and gently press the center of each ball, making an indentation about 1/2 inch wide and 1/4 inch deep. In microwave or on stove, heat jam until liquefied; spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. If storing, place in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

Monday, August 2, 2010

mpm: week of August 2nd

see more menus here
7-Layer Bean dip :: tortilla chips :: watermelon

Kung Pao Chicken :: rice

Caprese Salad :: bread and pesto for dipping

Chipotle Grilled Chicken with Avocado Sandwiches :: local sweet corn

Lemon-Thyme Zucchini on Flatbread (from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook p. 315)


grilled apple and cheese sandwiches :: salad with garden veggies

Thursday, July 29, 2010

bentos 77 & 78

These photos turned when I uploaded them. Oh well. These bentos are definitely similar as you can see.
Bento 77 on top:  cucumber coins, a plain mini chocoloate cupcake, mozzarella cheese chunks, 1/2 of a banana, and rice and bean chips.

Bento 78: cucumber slices, monterey jack cheese chunks, a mini pb and chocolate cupcake for dessert, 1/2 of a banana, rice and bean chips, and a almond granola bar.

In other food news this week: I have been baking batch after batch after batch of chocolate cupcakes and peanut butter frosting. I'm trying to come up with the perfect recipe. So far I've found the perfect cake. It's a dark chocolate fudge. The pb frosting I am not happy with yet. Last night's version came out more like a fondant. It was basically a peanut butter cup in cupcake form. So far the peanut butter frosting recipe I posted is the best so far. My reason for so much baking is I want to own my own bakery someday and I need "perfect" recipes, you know? HF takes them to work so other officers and dispatchers can taste test them. They aren't much help. Each batch gets a "these are the best cupcakes ever!" result. I enjoy making their tastebuds happy however.

Also, I've been spring cleaning my kitchen. Reorganizing cupboards, getting rid of things I no longer use, organizing recipe binders, and menu planning.

We are beginning to harvest our garden and do lots of weeding. I will take pics soon so you can see our humble garden.

And lastly, my almost 2 year old son has been wreaking havoc around the house. I found dark brown food handprints going down the stairs to the basement one day, and the next it was Tapatio handprints, including nice thick smears on the carpet steps. In an effort to exert his independence, he refuses to be uncivilized any longer and demands a fork or a spoon when he eats. I would say he gets about 10% of the food in his mouth. He has also excelled in climbing. His newest discovery is the bathroom cabinet above the toilet. He can climb up there and explore inside the cabinets. He discovered that he does not like the taste of deodorant, but he does enjoy exchanging toys for toiletries. This morning I found a zhu zhu pet inside in exchange for q-tips. While this is the stuff memories are made of, my days are filled with very messy cleanups and laundry as you can imagine. But he does get an A for effort.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

agua de pepino or cucumber cooler

You might have noticed that I like to make drinks. This is something that HF loves drinking during the hot summer months. I grew up in Southern California and was able to eat/drink lots of amazing Mexican food and as I raise my own family, I am finding that a lot of this food has made its way into our traditions and habits. I love it. Reminds me of good times and good friends. HF lived in Tucson, Texas, and New Mexico for a time and developed a taste for Mexican food as well. Our four year old son, Luke, loves this drink as well as you can see above.

If you look online, you will see that this drink can be made a number of ways. Some people put lime or lemon juice in theirs, some leave it out. This is simple to make and really does feel refreshing in the summer.

Agua de Pepino

3 cucumbers, peeled and chopped (I happened to use English cucumbers)
3 qts. cold water
1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

Puree the cucumbers with 1/2 cup of water using immersion blender or food processor. Strain, using cheesecloth or a sieve to reserve just the cucumber "juice" and discard the pulp. Pour into large pitcher. Add lime juice and sugar. Adjust lime juice and sugar to desired preference. Chill and serve over ice.

Monday, July 19, 2010

menu plan: week of July 19th

for menu plans and submitting your own, go to orgjunkie

MONDAY  leftover tamales (these were a hit!) :: Rice and Bean chips :: agua de pepino

TUESDAY  spanish tortilla :: sausage :: fruit

THURSDAY  White-Cheddar Corn Chowder :: watermelon

FRIDAY  Pesto Pizza :: salad with cherry tomatoes from our garden

SATURDAY  chicken teriyaki burger with grilled pineapple (also from last week- yum!)

SUNDAY  Steamed Kalbi (Korean recipe from a friend-recipe to come)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

bentos 74, 75, and 76

All of these bentos were for HF to take to work this week. Taquitos cut in half to fit, little container of salsa, a grapefruit, segmented, and put in a heart-shaped silicone baking cup, and a coconut cream pie slice for dessert.
Chicken salad sandwich on a French hamburger bun, 2 nectarines, cherries, carrots, and a cup of sweet and salty nut mixture. It has yogurt covered raisins, cashews, peanuts, and pretzel pieces.
Tuna on whole wheat (it's a local made bread. just 5 ingredients- stoneground wheat, honey, yeast, salt, and water), cantaloupe, cucumber slices. What's not pictures is that I included a chocolate peanut butter cupcake, a yogurt cup, and a string cheese. I don't remember what this container was called. Maybe snapware? But it stacks on top of each other and snaps on the sides so they stay in place. The lid on top also snaps in place on the side. It's a very handy dandy size for grownups.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I've been bad. . .

There is a well known gourmet bakery in our city that has amazing cupcakes. I get them whenever I have an excuse. Well, my absolute favorite is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes. The combo is to die for. I am not a frosting person, but somehow this lady has managed to create a delightful peanut butter frosting that in large amounts does not make you sick. It perfectly compliments the chocolate cake. Instead of me going in to the shop, I wondered if I could make my own that would taste just as good. The verdict? Just as good, maybe even better. I wasn't very hopeful that this would happen, and so when it did, I looked at the remaining cupcakes and knew that I had to act fast. I sorted them onto plates and delieverd them to friends and neighbors because I knew that I could eat the whole lot easily in one day. I really only had six one, okay?

The only thing I will do differently next time, if there is a next time, is change the cake recipe. I have yet to find the perfect chocolate cake recipe. There's always something not quite right. This one was still good, but I will just say to use your favorite chocolate cake recipe. When I figure out a good one I will post it. If you have one, I would love to know what it is!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcakes

make your favorite chocolate cupcakes, using cupcake liners. Let cool. While cooling make the fluffy peanut butter frosting:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter (we used Adams all natural)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk or heavy cream
tiny splash of vanilla (1/4 tsp.)

Beat butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add milk 1 Tbsp. at a time and then vanilla. Beat for 2-3 minutes, occasionally scraping the sides of bowl. Spread a generous amount on cooled cupcakes. Top with chopped Peanut Butter Cups. I didn't have a frosting bag to make the frosting look pretty and professional piled on top, so I just plopped it on there and spread it a little with a knife.

If you love peanut butter and chooclate, then these will make your eyes roll to the back of your head in ecstasy. Or maybe that's just me.  This was also a very easy recipe for the kids to help with.