Southwest Soup

IMG_6839Surprise! It’s me! I know I am long overdue in sharing a new recipe with all of you, so I hope you are all still out there in cyberspace and that you’re hungry, because this one is amazing!

In the last week, we have hit the 100 degree mark 5 different days, with a heat index at its highest, at 125 degrees, on Saturday. We usually have an afternoon rain storm every day this time of year, but we’ve only had one in the last week at our house. This has definitely not helped the situation. Needless to say, it is HOT and we are all pretty much over it. It is so hot that my A/C runs continuously and we even purchased two new super-powered fans, just to help keep things cool. We have even been eating a lot of foods that do not require use of the oven or stove, in order to keep it from getting so hot in here in the afternoons. However, one family can only eat so many salads and sandwiches before you just can’t take it anymore. By the time the next electric bill comes, we will probably only be eating beans and rice for awhile.

Today I was getting really hungry and really craving soup (because in my mind I am imagining it is already fall), so when I opened the freezer and saw a big bag of roasted corn, I knew what I had to make. I looked around in the fridge and pantry and pulled out a few things that went together and went to work. The result was pretty amazing! It was full of flavor, very easy to make, and did not require a lot of effort. The fact that it was done in just over 30 minutes, made it nearly perfect. I rank this soup right up there with my Bonfire Chili. If you haven’t tried that yet, you really need to add it to next week’s menu. That chili has become a family and friends favorite.

Feel free to adjust these ingredients to include things you might have in your fridge and pantry. Or, take away some things you may not like, and add in something you do.

*This recipe is gluten-free as long as you are using a GF broth.

*For the vegetarian version, just omit the chicken and use vegetable broth.

Southwest Soup

  • 4 tablespoons avocado oil (2 for chicken, 2 for veggies)
  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 cups of red, yellow and orange sweet peppers, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 3-4 cups of white or black beans (I used white because that was all I had)
  • 2 cups petite diced tomatoes
  • 1.5-2 cups roasted corn (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • juice from 1 large lime
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (I probably used a cup, adjust to your taste)
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • cumin and chili powder, adjust to taste (start with 2 tbsp cumin and 1 tbsp chili powder)
  • salt and pepper, adjust to taste
  • optional: sour cream, jalapeno, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, avocado

Season both sides of chicken generously with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil, once it is hot, add the chicken. Cook on both sides until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and let rest.

While the chicken is cooking, in a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil and the peppers and onions. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until they soften and just start to caramelize. Add in garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder and stir. Next add in the beans, roasted corn, lime juice, and chicken broth. Stir until combined, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cut the cooked chicken breasts in half, then shred each piece with two forks. Add the shredded chicken, green onions and chopped cilantro to the soup and stir until well combined. Cover and let cook for an additional 5 minutes.

We added jalapenos, avocado and sour cream to ours!

IMG_6828Enjoy!

 

 

Posted in Chicken Dishes, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Mexican Inspired, Recipes, Soup, Southwestern Inspired, Vegetarian | 5 Comments

Beets and Goat Cheese on Cracker-Bread

IMG_6336For the majority of my adult life, I thought that I hated beets. I can’t even remember when I tried them the first, and last time, but I have always had it in my head that I very much disliked them. Until last month. We have some wonderful clients that live in Sweden and have a vacation home here in Orlando. We have done quite a bit of renovating on their  home for them over the last year or so, and have come to really enjoy their company. Last month, they had their family and friends in town on holiday, and invited us over for dinner. The appetizer was this amazing “cracker-ish/flat-bread stuff” that was topped with sliced beets and creamy goat cheese that had something drizzled on the top, and then served on a bed of dandelion greens. My husband is very picky and I was sure that he wasn’t going to like it, and I had always convinced myself that I didn’t like beets, so I was a little nervous. However, I would never want to not try something, especially when goat cheese is involved, and the presentation was so beautiful. You could tell that they had put a lot of effort into this meal for all of us.

So, at about the same time, we both took a bite, and then looked at each other. It was absolutely delicious! I mean, really, really amazing. I thought it was probably one of the best appetizers I had ever eaten. I was so pleasantly surprised at the taste, and even more so, that my husband liked it, too! We were very impressed, and I knew from that moment on, that I was going to have to figure out how to re-create it at home.

I didn’t get the recipe from her for the cracker-bread (at least that is what I was calling it), or what it was that they drizzled on the goat cheese, so I had to improvise. I looked all over Publix to see if I could find something that looked similar to what she had made. I came across this Wasa, Crisp’n Light product that looked almost exactly like what she had served us. When I was looking this up online, to show you the link for what it was, I found out that this product is actually made in Sweden from a company that was started in 1919. How cool is that? I found this product in the grocery in the aisle where the peanut butter/jelly and specialty crackers were. I would imagine it is probably pretty easy to find in most grocery stores. It is very good and is so versatile that you could top it with any number of items to make a great appetizer.

I couldn’t remember exactly what the flavor was that she mixed into the goat cheese, but I was thinking that lemon and chives would pair well with the beets. Unfortunately, I didn’t have either of those items fresh, so I started digging through my spices. If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw the post I put up last week about Penzeys Spices. A good friend of mine turned me on to Penzeys and I am just completely in love with their products. We have a local store here in Winter Park, Florida, but there are many other locations throughout the US, and you can order any of the products online. If you love to cook or bake, you must pay a visit to them. The best cinnamon I have EVER had is their Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon. You just haven’t tasted cinnamon until you have had this one. Request a catalog if there is no store near you, and give them a try. They have great sample boxes that you can purchase that will allow you to try a few of your favorite spices at once to see if you like their brand. You will not be disappointed. Anyway, back to the recipe.

I ended up going with my Penzeys dried lemon peel and freeze-dried chives, along with a little ground pepper and pink salt. The combination was perfect and made for the most wonderful taste. This could be a very easy and simple, make-ahead appetizer for a party. If you’re making it up a little ahead of time, just dry off the beets with a paper towel, so that there is not an excess of liquid, that would soften the cracker-bread too much. (See UPDATE at the bottom of recipe for the original recipe)

If you already know you love beets, then you probably already have your favorite flavors that blend with them. Feel free to alter up the ingredients and make it your own. I would love to hear about your favorite pairings for beets…now that I know I love them! I didn’t have any greens on hand, but this is certainly delicious atop a bed of dandelion or other greens.

**This recipe is Gluten Free as long as you use a GF cracker/bread, or just eliminate that all together and use the beets, goat cheese and spices.

**This recipe is vegetarian.

Beets and Goat Cheese on Cracker-Bread

  • sliced, pickled beets
  • goat cheese
  • dried lemon peel or fresh lemon zest
  • freeze-dried or fresh chives
  • fresh ground pepper and pink salt
  • Wasa, Crisp’n Light cracker-bread
  • optional, dandelion or other fresh greens

There is no measurement to the recipe, you can add as little or as much of each item, according to your taste. On top of the cracker-bread place the sliced beets, top with the crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle on the lemon peel, chives and salt and pepper.

Voila! Instant, easy and delicious appetizer, or, if you’re like me this past week, it’s for lunch!

UPDATE: Since I started the draft on this post, I received an email from our client and she told me that she used a thin sourdough bread, which she toasted lightly. Then added the sliced beets and goat cheese and put in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese and then put a drizzle of maple syrup on the top. Give both of these options a try, they are equally amazing!

Posted in Appetizers, Bread, Cheese, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Snacks, Toppings, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Coconut Pie

IMG_4426Hello! Welcome to OhMyGoodyGoodness all of you new followers, and long time no see, to the rest of you! It is hard to believe that we are almost to Thanksgiving. I haven’t posted near as many new recipes as I have wanted to this year. But, instead of looking back and being hard on myself, I have decided to share this recipe for coconut pie. Because, well, it is seriously amazing and much better than me having a pity party!

Last year around this time, I was looking for something a little different to serve for dessert on Thanksgiving. Our family loves coconut, so I was determined to find some special treat that revolved around it. I came across this recipe for a coconut pie from BasicnDelicious. I slightly altered her recipe.

It was my very first time making a custard, and I was surprised at how easy it was, and how silly I felt for never trying one before. I have made this pie several times in the last year and it has now become a family favorite. The one thing I love most about this, aside from the amazing flavor, is that you can make it up the day before you need it, store it in the freezer, and leave it to thaw out a little before you’re ready to serve it. It is a perfect make-ahead dish for a busy cooking holiday like Thanksgiving, and it will be on my table again this year. It isn’t really heavy on your belly and isn’t overly sweet either, which makes it perfect, in my opinion!

** This recipe contains substitute ingredients to make it GLUTEN, DAIRY AND SUGAR FREE.

Coconut Pie

For the custard:

  • 1 cup milk (if you want the dairy free version, just use 1 cup coconut milk in place of milk, so you will have a total of 2 cups for the custard recipe)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 5 tablespoons of cornstarch (I prefer a non-GMO version)
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (for the dairy free version, use cream of coconut or for the dairy and sugar free version, you can use this recipe to make your own.)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

In a blender or food processor, combine the milk, coconut milk, egg yolks, condensed milk and cornstarch, and blend until combined. Pour into a medium size saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture starts to thicken up. When it is thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon, it’s ready. Remove pan from heat and whisk in vanilla and coconut extract. Place in a bowl and push plastic wrap down over the top of the custard and over the sides of the bowl. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until chilled.

IMG_4372For the crust:

  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup ground graham crackers (use a gluten free version if you need to)
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut sugar, I use this brand, which I found at my local Publix. You can also just use brown sugar.
  • 6-7 tablespoons melted butter (or melted coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the almonds, graham crackers, and sugar together until well blended. I use a large whisk. Then pour over the melted butter and mix until dry mixture is coated. Press into the bottom and sides of a large pie dish and bake for 10 minutes. Let crust completely cool before adding the filling.

For the whipped cream:

  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream (for the dairy free version, us this recipe, and make enough for 2 full cups)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (for the sugar free version, you could add a touch of honey or agave, or just leave it out altogether)

Whip the heavy cream (or substitute) and the powdered sugar with a hand mixer or stand mixer until it forms stiff peaks.

IMG_4378

Stir the chilled custard filling into the whipped cream until it is well blended, and then pour into the crust. Freeze for about 2 hours before serving. You can also make this up ahead of time and freeze overnight, then just take out about an hour before your going to serve it.

For the topping:

1 cup of shredded coconut (you can use sweetened or unsweetened)

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees. Place coconut on a baking tray and spread it out so that it is in a thin layer, then place in oven. I usually start with about 5 minutes and then check it, adding an additional minute or two if necessary. Watch it very closely, because it can burn quickly. Once it is a nice, golden, brown color, remove it from oven. Place toasted coconut on top of pie, just before serving.

IMG_4388I hope you will enjoy this as much as my family does!

Posted in Dairy Free, Dessert, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Sides, Snacks, Sugar Free, Toppings, Vegetarian | 5 Comments

Welcome to all of the new followers and a few of my favorite recipes!

I wanted to take a minute and welcome all of the new followers to OhMyGoodyGoodness! I am so happy that your here and I hope that you have enjoyed what you have seen so far. Thank you to all of the readers that have been with me for awhile, I apologize for being MIA for so long!

2013 has been quite a crazy year for my family and it is hard to believe that we are nearing the end of September already. I just have no idea where all the time keeps going. This year has proved to be one of the toughest ones yet for me, as I have been dealing with some health issues that have affected nearly every aspect of my life. In my quest to figure out how to live with the things that have happened, I am learning a lot about myself and how to have more compassion for others.

Of course, through all of that, life does go on and life around here is crazy! Between home schooling an 11th grader and one in kindergarten, running the office for our very busy small business and taking care of the every day stuff is enough to make me want to clone myself several times.

I kept thinking that I was going to have so much time over the summer to catch up on blogging and get new recipes on here for all of you. As most of you know, that just didn’t happen the way I planned! Then, about 7 weeks ago, we found 4 abandoned 3 week old kitties in the attic of our workshop. Oh, boy! It has been quite interesting around here since they arrived in our life! My daughter thought she hit the lottery she was so excited! They were so tiny, scrawny and covered with fleas, they were pitiful! We syringe fed them kitten replacement formula, rid them of fleas, and brought them into the family! It has been quite the adventure, as you can imagine!kittiesI am working on getting more recipes uploaded as well as making this site more user friendly. Things like, adding in a print feature so that you can easily print out your favorite recipes, as well as some other upgrades and changes that will be an asset to the blog. I know this isn’t the fanciest food blog you have ever visited, but keep in mind that I do this for fun and for something to share with others who love food as much as I do. Until I can get to all the fun upgrades, please hang in there with me! I have a lot of great recipes coming along soon! If you want to read about why I started this to begin with, you can check out the About page.

Until then, I wanted to share the links of some of our favorite recipes that are already on here.

If you’re into an Asian flare, you might really like these:

My Asian Fried Chicken, which is a family favorite and always in regular rotation.

IMG_0364Or this one that is fairly new, but also a new favorite, Sesame Chicken.

IMG_5815If you’re into soup, there are several on here as well. We love this BonFire Chili and I know you will too! It is a great choice for fall and winter!

IMG_1546This Italian Wedding Soup is another really great one. Easy and sure to impress your family and friends.

ital wed soup 10There are quite a few salads on here as well. My absolute favorite is this Chicken, Roast Pear, Pecan and Blue Cheese one. It never disappoints!

IMG_3447 (800x533)Or this long-time family favorite, Bekah’s Chicken Salad. If I know we have a busy weekend, I will make this up on Friday so that we have a quick go to meal for lunch for the next couple of days.

IMG_4263If your looking for some ways to spruce of your veggies, these green beans are amazing.IMG_1034If you don’t think you like Brussels Sprouts, well, this recipe will change your mind!IMG_3415If your into seafood, these Fried Shrimp are the best you’ve ever had!

IMG_1640Or, these Fish Tacos, will blow your mind!

IMG_2772If your looking for some appetizers or some fun foods for your football parties, there are several you will love!

We love these Empanadas, they require a little effort on your part, but worth every single second of it!

empan 37These Quarterback Chicken Sliders are so good that we make them all the time!

IMG_1095BLT Wraps are another easy party favorite or a quick dinnertime fix.

blt wraps 9This is absolutely amazing, Buffalo Chicken Dip.

IMG_1518There is almost always a big jar of this salsa in my refrigerator. It is better than any store bought one I have ever tried! We use it on so many dishes!salsa 2This Fiesta Corn Dip is really easy and totally delish!

corn dip 4If you’re looking for the best burger ever, you must try this Stuffed Habanero version. We can’t go too long without having these for dinner! IMG_5605Since Mexican is one of my favorite foods in the world, I have several recipes under that section that I could have every day. One of those are these Pulled Pork Tacos.

IMG_3765These Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas are out of this world as well.CC ENCH 22This is one that the whole family loves, Mexican ‘Mortar’ Shells.IMG_1609And if you love using a crock-pot for meals, you should try these Apple Bacon Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Apple and Onion Coleslaw.IMG_4202I hope you will enjoy checking out these recipes and that you will find a new favorite for your family. Thank you for stopping in and sharing in my love of food! I look forward to seeing you around more often!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Herb Blend (used as a dipping sauce for bread or to top a pizza crust)

When I eat Italian food, one thing I always love to have is a loaf of fresh bread and some crushed herbs with olive oil for a dipping sauce. Well, really, I could just eat that for my dinner. Something about the blend of all those spices mixed with a good extra virgin olive oil really makes my heart sing!

I use this same blend of herbs when I make flat bread pizzas at home. I love to cover the top of the crust with some olive oil, these herbs, mozzarella or goat cheese and plum tomatoes. Mmmmm! It doesn’t get much better than that.

I am making one of my favorite homemade Italian pasta dishes tonight for dinner along with this herb/olive oil mix and bread and thought this would be a good recipe to share with you. It is so easy to throw together and includes most of the spices you probably already have in your pantry. You can use dried spices or fresh, whatever you have on hand. If you use dried, you can make this up ahead of time and store it in an airtight container until your ready to use it.

If you have a mortar and pestle, this is a perfect time to get those out. Or, if your like me and you don’t own those, you can get creative and use what you’ve got on hand. I have one of those Pampered Chef ice cream scoops and I use the back end of that to smash my herbs together. I also use it to muddle herbs for cocktails! It’s a great 3-in-1 tool…if you’re a bit of a redneck like me! :)

When you mince up your fresh garlic, you will want to take a paper towel and press the garlic to dry it out a little. It helps it not be so sticky and clump up the dried mixture.

**This recipe is gluten free

**This recipe is vegetarian

Herb Blend

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (if you like yours with a kick, you can add a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon (or 1 clove) fresh minced garlic
  • high quality extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients into a shallow dish and crush/mix together until well blended.

IMG_4315If you are using the mixture for a pizza crust, at this point, you would just drizzle over the olive oil and then sprinkle this blend evenly over the top of the crust.

If you are using this to dip bread in, you will want to use a small shallow dish. I have a set of these cute little dishes that are used exclusively for this purpose. Add some of the herb mixture to the dish like this. You will want to use about 1-2 teaspoons per serving.

IMG_4317Then drizzle in some olive oil and use a flat whisk or a fork to blend the mixture into the oil. I never measure the olive oil, I just pour it on until it looks like enough to evenly distribute the herbs. In a small dish like this I would say a little less than 1/4 cup.

IMG_4319Get a loaf of your favorite fresh bread and dip away!

Posted in Appetizers, Bread, Dinner, Dips and Spreads, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Sauces, Sides, Snacks, Toppings, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Taco salad, taco seasoning, taco salad dressing and my new favorite pans!

This year for Independence Day we decided to forgo the traditional food and go with something a little different. I had taken my son shopping the week before for some new clothes and shoes and we just happened to stop in a Ross Dress for Less store. As I was waiting for him to make his selections, I was perusing the rack at the end of the aisle and found a box of these Perfect Tortilla Pans. (I just used the Amazon link here, but there are several places you can order from that are even cheaper, or look at your local Ross store.) I had seen the commercial for them so many times and thought they were really cool, but had never purchased them. These were only $7.99, which I thought was a great deal, so I bought them. As it turns out, they are pretty much awesome!

I have used them several times already and they are so easy to use. You just drop in a flour tortilla and bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you want them. I had purchased some coconut oil spray at Trader Joe’s and I used that to spray on the tops of them before I baked them, but you don’t have to use anything if you don’t want to. You can use small, medium or large tortillas. I have been using the small size and they are so perfect for little individual salads. You could use these little beauties as bowls for salsa or dips, like this yummy Fiesta Corn Dip! I am even thinking that they would be great to serve up my recipe for Bonfire Chili! If you haven’t made that chili yet, you must add it to your to-do list!

During the summertime we eat a lot of salad. My husband works out in the heat a lot and salads are refreshing and really light on the belly  after a hard days work. I am constantly on a quest to find as many different new ways to make salad as I can find. We love this Greek version and one of my all time favorites is this Chicken and Roast Pear. However, as I have mentioned several times in the past, I am all about Mexican foods. Besides steak and sushi, it is my favorite kind of food to eat.

For the 4th I decided to just have lots of different toppings set out in little bowls so that there would be something for everyone. I was able to do all of the prep work in the early part of the day so that I could just enjoy my friends later and not have to spend the whole time in the kitchen cooking. Now, unfortunately, I was so worried about eating, that I never took any pictures of these beautiful salads. I still felt like it was important to do a post about it, because these are so amazing that I wanted to encourage you to make them! There is something about the freshness of the ingredients and the crispiness of these bowls that make these one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life!

**This recipe is gluten free as long as you use a gluten free tortilla. I have not tried a corn tortilla in these pans, but it may work just as great. Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning ranch packets are gluten free.

First I wanted to share with you the easy recipe for homemade taco seasoning. It is easy to just buy the pre-made packaged kind, but if your like me and tend to use a lot of it, it is convenient and much cheaper to just make your own. Then you will have it on hand whenever you need a little, or a lot of it!

Taco Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Store in a Ziplock bag or sealed container until ready to use. This amount equals about 2 tablespoons, which is the amount in a standard size packet of taco seasoning. If you’re going to make this taco salad and dressing recipe, you will want to double this recipe when you make it.

This is the recipe for the taco salad dressing I always make. This is just a basic recipe, please feel free to adjust the seasonings to your preference. You can eliminate the mayo if you want to as well, and just use a little more sour cream. We love this dressing and can’t have a taco salad without it. If you are feeding a lot of people, just double the recipe.

Taco Salad Dressing

  • 1  cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 3/4 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning

Mix ingredients with a whisk until blended thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator and keep cold until ready to use.

For our party I used chicken and shrimp, but you could do ground beef as well.

Taco Salad

Meats

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

When I cook chicken breasts, I always slice them through the middle so that I end up with two breasts out of the one piece. It allows them to cook so much more evenly and I just don’t like to eat a piece of chicken that thick. But that’s just me! :) Season chicken with salt, pepper and taco seasoning. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the chicken and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and shred with two forks or cut into small pieces.

1 pound of uncooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned

Season shrimp with taco seasoning. Melt about 2-3 tablespoons of butter, in a skillet, over medium heat. Add the shrimp and toss them around in the butter, so that each piece is coated, and cook just until the shrimp turn pink and remove from heat immediately.

1 – 1  1/2 pounds of ground beef

In a skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground beef until it is fully browned and cooked through. Then add about 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and about a 1/4 cup of water, stir to combine, and let simmer for about 2 minutes.

The following items are all optional, you can pick and choose what you want or even add in some other things you love. I saute the sweet onions and sweet peppers together in a butter/olive oil mixture over medium heat until they have softened and begin to caramelize, usually about 10 minutes or so. I will also chop up the mushrooms and saute them in a little bit of butter over medium heat until they brown nicely and get a little crispy. You will have to adjust the amount of toppings you need depending on how many you will be serving.

Additional Toppings

  • green onions, sliced thin
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • plum tomatoes, diced
  • black olives, sliced
  • avocado, diced
  • black beans
  • pickled peppers or pickled habanero peppers
  • red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, diced and sauteed
  • sweet onions, diced and sauteed
  • mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
  • lettuce (I used an organic spring mix, but you can use whatever you prefer)

If you are not using the tortilla bowls, you can make these just on a bed of lettuce or crunch up some tortilla chips as your base. Add what you want to the lettuce and top with the taco salad dressing. I love the idea of using the small tortilla bowls to hold mini taco salads and serving as an appetizer for a party.

Enjoy!

Posted in Appetizers, Beef, Chicken Dishes, Dinner, Dips and Spreads, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Mexican Inspired, Products, Recipes, Salad, Sauces, Seafood, Sides, Snacks, Southwestern Inspired | Leave a comment

Revision to the Sesame Chicken Recipe

I am so, so sorry! Somehow I left out the most important ingredient to the Sesame chicken recipe, the SOY SAUCE!  I have changed the recipe and added it to the ingredient, so please check back and take a look before you make it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sesame Chicken

IMG_5815For the last two years I have been trying to get my family on track for more healthy eating habits. I didn’t start out by changing everything all at once, for fear that everyone would just completely freak out and go crazy on me. I started it a little at a time and changed things slowly so that everyone would get used to eating better a few things at a time. It is hard when you have kids and especially when one of them is a very picky eater. I buy organic as much as possible and when choosing meat, I do my best to buy organic and/or grass fed meats. I have tried to reduce the use of anything that comes in a can and stay away from everything that has high fructose corn syrup, but mostly I don’t buy anything that is already processed. To accomplish this, it means that you have to pretty much make most of what you want from scratch. I am not perfect with this by any means and there are still things that we eat that we probably shouldn’t, but we are a whole lot better off than where we were two years ago.

Eating organic and eating better is definitely more expensive which is just unfortunate. It should be the other way around. One way that I cut corners is by not going out to eat anymore. It is amazing how much money you can save when you skip the restaurants and eat at home. We will still go out for the occasional sushi meal and sometimes for a special occasion to support our chef and server friends.

One of my favorite meals is sesame chicken. I don’t really know why I like it so much, but I do. I decided this past week that I was going to try and make it on my own and see what happened. I gathered a few ingredients from the fridge and pantry and this is what I came up with. Even my daughter, Princess Picky Pants, ate an entire bowl full for dinner. She actually thanked me for cooking and hugged me. This was priceless to me, because normally she just eats PB & J. She runs screaming at the sight of vegetables. I just keep hoping that one day she will appreciate a mama who makes gourmet meals every night.

Seriously though, this turned out much better than I actually expected it to and we loved it. There is just something about the hint of sweetness from the honey, the bite of the ginger and garlic and the mixture of soy sauce and cider vinegar. I absolutely loved this meal. It will be making the rounds in the regular rotation around here. I hope that you will enjoy it too! It is actually really easy to make and once you have the prep work done it goes really quickly.

**This recipe is gluten free as long as you use a gluten free soy sauce.

Sesame Chicken

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (preferably organic, cage free chickens)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil (or enough to cover the bottom of a large skillet)
  • 1/2 a red pepper (or about a cup), finely diced
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin

For the sauce:

  • 3/4 cup of raw honey (or regular honey)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6-7 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar (or regular cider vinegar)
  • 3-4 tablespoons sesame seeds (I used both black and white sesame seeds)
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, pressed or grated
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger

For the batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups corn starch
  • 3 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 2 egg whites, whisked

I served this chicken over Jasmine rice. You can use whatever you prefer.

In a large measuring cup combine all of the ingredients for the sauce and whisk until all of the flavors have combined. I ended up adding just a touch of cornstarch at the end, just to thicken it up just a little bit. Please feel free to play around with the honey or the oil to make it the perfect consistency for you.

IMG_5799Cut the chicken breasts down the center in a filet so that you end up with 2 breast pieces cut out of the one piece. Cut each of those pieces into 3 strips and then each strip into 4-5 chunk pieces. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

IMG_5798In one large bowl whisk the egg whites well and then add the chicken pieces to the bowl and make sure they are all coated with the egg whites.

In another large bowl mix the cornstarch, powdered ginger and minced onion and whisk to combine well.

Take each piece of chicken from the egg whites and dredge in the cornstarch mixture. Make sure each piece is coated thoroughly and set aside on a large plate.

Pre-heat coconut oil in a large skillet (or wok) over medium-high heat. Once it is hot enough, add the chicken pieces in a single layer to cover the pan. I have a large skillet and was able to cook all the chicken in just two batches. Cook chicken for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. Set cooked chicken aside and repeat until you have cooked all of the chicken pieces.

IMG_5803Once all the chicken is cooked and removed from the pan you will add the red pepper and green onion to the skillet. I ended up needing to add a little bit more coconut oil to the pan for this stage, maybe 2 tablespoons more. Saute until peppers are soft and caramelized.

IMG_5804Then place all of the chicken back in the pan. Give your sauce a good whisk again and pour over all the chicken in the pan making sure that each piece is coated with the sauce. I stirred mine around for a couple of minutes making sure that everything was coated nicely.

IMG_5806Remove the chicken mixture from the heat and serve over rice.

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Posted in Appetizers, Asian Inspired, Chicken Dishes, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Sauces, Sides, Snacks | 12 Comments

Empanadas a la Bekah

empan 34I love empanadas! You can’t find them just anywhere, and sometimes when you do find them on a menu, they just aren’t that good. So, a couple of years ago I decided that I needed to come up with a recipe of my own to make them. I knew what I wanted in terms of a filling for them, so then it was just a matter of trial and error coming up with a recipe for the dough. Voila! Sweet success!

These are really easy to make and put together, however, they are very time consuming. It is only for that reason that I don’t make them often. They are so delicious, though, that you really should give them a try sometime. These are one of those things that take forever to make and are gone in an instant. These are great for a party appetizer or a main course with some coordinating side dishes. You can also deep fry them instead of baking them if you want, but these come out really crispy without frying, and baking is definitely the healthier option.

When I make these, I make two different fillings for them. One is more of a traditional style filling and the other is has a little more of a southwestern flair. Both are equally delicious. Feel free to experiment with your own favorite flavors for the filling as well.

One recipe of the dough will make enough for one batch of the filling. Since I don’t make these often, when I do make them, I usually make a double batch of dough and both of the fillings. After I put them all together, I usually cook half of them and freeze the other half to make another time. It is easy to freeze them and then just pop them in the oven when your ready. Lay them on a wax paper lined cookie/baking sheet and put them in the freezer until frozen, then take them out and put them in Ziploc freezer bags until your ready to use.

Empanadas

For the Dough:

  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 sticks of cold butter, cut into 1 tablespoon sections
  • 2 large eggs, plus one extra for egg wash
  • 2/3 cup ice water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl and blend in the butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles course meal with some tiny lumps of butter.

empan 3 I start with the pastry blender and then use my hands to really blend the butter together.

Beat together the two eggs, water and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add this slowly to the flour mixture stirring the whole time with a fork until incorporated.

empan 8The mixture will look somewhat shaggy, like this.

empan 9Turn out the mixture onto a lightly floured surface (I use a big bowl so I just keep it in the bowl to do this step). Kneed gently with the heel of your hands a couple of times, just enough to bring the dough together. Form the dough into two flat disks, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

empan 10While your dough is resting, you will start making your filling.

Filling option one:

  • 3 small/medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Peel and dice potatoes. Put them in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover them and add salt. Boil over medium heat until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat, and using a mixer, blend potatoes until completely creamy, no lumps. Set aside.

  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup green olives with pimentos, diced
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • cumin, salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once pan is hot, add in the onions and peppers and cook until they are soft and just start to caramelize. Then add in olives, green onions and your seasonings. Stir this well and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place mixture into a bowl. Set aside.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 pork sausages, casings removed (Don’t eat pork? Just substitute a little more beef.)
  • 4-5 oz tomato paste (this is about 3/4 of a small can)
  • cumin, salt and pepper, to taste

Using the same skillet you used to cook the veggies, you will crumble in the meats and cook over medium heat until evenly browned. Add in tomato paste and seasonings and stir well. (You want just enough tomato paste to add richness to the meat, but not so much you make it runny) Add to this mixture the cooked veggies and the mashed potatoes and stir until completely blended together. Set aside to completely cool.

Filling option two:

  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange pepper, diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn (preferably non-GMO)
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • mushrooms, diced (optional)
  • shredded Monterrey jack cheese

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add garlic and simmer for about a minute. Toss in the peppers, green onions and sweet onion (with mushrooms if your using) and saute until soft. Add in the beans, corn and salt and pepper and simmer until the beans are soft and all of the flavors are blended together. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Set aside and let completely cool.

To assemble:

Get your dough out of the fridge and flour your surface well. Using a rolling pin, roll out your dough to about 1/4 an inch thickness. You don’t want it so thin that it can’t hold the filling, but you don’t want it so thick that you feel like all your eating is dough!

empan 26Use a round bowl or cutter that is about 5 inches across to cut out your disks. After I cut mine out, I ended up rolling them out slightly larger with a rolling pin.

empan 27Continue to roll out and cut out your disks until you have used up all the dough. Whisk your other egg in a small bowl, and using a pastry brush, add some egg wash to the bottom half of your disk. This will help the top part stick to it when you go to seal them up.

empan 28Place your filling in the middle of the disk. You don’t want to overfill it, but add just enough so that you can get it sealed up well. Fold the top down to the bottom, press the sides together and then seal it by using a fork pressed down around the sides.

empan 27 (2)Make sure that the edges are firmly sealed together so that the filling will not come out during baking.

Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Line up empanadas on the baking sheet and brush the tops of all of them with the egg wash.

empan 29Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

We make a sauce to dip the empanadas in. It’s just sour cream, minced garlic and sea salt whisked together. I don’t have detailed measurements for this, we just kind of add to it until it tastes right to us. Sometimes I chop up fresh cilantro and mix that in too. It is a perfect compliment to these.

empan 35 (2)Enjoy!!

empan 37

 

 

Posted in Appetizers, Beef, Bread, Breakfast, Cheese, Dinner, Dips and Spreads, Lunch, Pork, Potatoes, Recipes, Sauces, Sides, Snacks, Southwestern Inspired | Tagged | 1 Comment

Stuffed Burgers

I haven’t met too many people who don’t like a good hamburger from time to time. These days it seems like a lot of restaurants are trying all sorts of new ways to re-invent the burger and offer up lots of different toppings to suit even the pickiest of eaters. Two of the best burgers I have ever eaten were at the B & B Joint in Miami, Florida. Oh my goodness! My husband and I were there in 2011 celebrating our wedding anniversary on Surfside Beach. We tried the Hotel California and the Mustang Sally burgers and we split them so we could share. It was the first time I had ever had a sunny side up egg on my burger and it was AMAZING. If you like eggs and have never tried one on a burger, your missing out, for sure!

We also have a slight addiction to the show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. Man, I could watch that show all day, except that it makes me so hungry. One night we were watching and saw a burger joint that made stuffed burgers. We just looked at each other and knew that we just had to try that. I mean, it makes total sense to load up the middle of a burger with all of your favorites.

Since we like things a little on the hot side around here, we stuff ours with cheese, these Pickled Habaneros that I posted a couple of days ago and these Zingy Pickles. If you are going to do the habaneros, it is imperative that you use the zingy pickles as well. The sweetness of the pickles blends amazing with the heat of the habaneros, to tone it down just a touch.

If you have the time to plan ahead, throw your ground beef into a bowl and mix in a generous amount of sea or Himalayan salt, pepper and some very finely minced garlic. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight in the fridge. This makes for the most flavorful burgers, whether you stuff them or not.

I have a kitchen scale and I use it to measure out the ground beef into roughly 1/4 pound sections. This makes for a nice size burger and enough meat to make a patty big enough for all the stuffing. If you don’t have a scale, just try to eyeball it so that you get each section about the same size. When I make these, I usually buy a large amount of beef and make quite a few at once and then freeze what I don’t need for that one night’s dinner.

IMG_5595Take one section and squeeze it in half. Flatten one half with your hand. You don’t want this so thin that it will rip, but you want it to be a good size too. Just flatten with one hand while you push up on the sides with the other hand to create a small lip around the sides of the beef.

IMG_5596Then you are just going to top with your favorite cheese and whatever toppings you love the most on your burger. The possibilities are endless. This one has cheddar/jack, pickled habaneros and zingy pickles.

IMG_5605Then you just flatten out the other section of beef so that it is as big around as the first one. Lay it over the top of that one and press down the edges so that they are sealed. Then I usually pick it up in one hand and just pinch the edges together to make sure that they are completely sealed up. You don’t want to lose any of the good stuff when you throw these on the grill. Also, if you make a small indention in the middle of the top of a burger before you grill it, you won’t end up with a bubble burger, it will stay in the same shape and not swell up.

IMG_5602Once they are all stuffed and sealed up, then just cook them on the grill. Because the middle of the burger is stuffed, these do not take as long to cook as a regular burger. The stuffing keeps them super moist all the way through.

Every bite is amazing and full of flavor. The next time I am adding bacon to the middle and a sunny side up egg on the top! Mmmmmmm…..It’s making me hungry just thinking about it.

IMG_5612I encourage you to take the extra time the next time you make burgers to try them like this. I promise your gonna love it and you may not want to go back to a boring old burger again!

Posted in Beef, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Toppings | Leave a comment