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Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

28 Apr

shrimp tacos 015

Right now, in my mind, I am on vacation. I am not actually on vacation, I am somewhere towards the beginning of what will eventually turn into the busiest, most stressful, and exhausting month of my life.

The month of May has now been dubbed Hell Month.

Do you ever have one of those months? Where you just stare at your calendar in disbelief and wonder how all of this got so out of control?

I can’t complain too much. I will be busy making money, which is good. I have goals for crying out loud! And we are about to hit one of those goals this week! The hubby and I have been doing Dave Ramsey since about August, and although we fell off the wagon in December (poor planning on our part) and couldn’t hop back on until last month ( tornadoes and thefts will do that to you), we have managed to (nearly) complete Baby Step #3 of the Total Money Makeover! That is 3 months of salary worth of savings for those of you not familiar. WooHoo! Go us!

But anyway, back to vacation.

So, this month (I mean May) I will be running the crap out of my new catering business with no less than 3 special events,  4 weekly deliveries, 1 dessert buffet, and a couple of new on-site events that I am pretty excited about. Besides the catering, the winery’s new wine club is due for it’s second shipment and I cannot believe the astounding success we have had so far! As of today, I will be putting together nearly 60 shipments for our loyal customers! With the winery, there is also of course our Summer Events that are starting up; movie night, happy hour, Blues & Wine music series and a county wide tour called Hickman County Arts & Ag Tour that is now in it’s second year. And as if that wasn’t enough, one of the newspapers I write for has asked me to do 4 extra articles on top of the weekly column that I already write for them and that is all due by May 10th.

Oh! And our 9th wedding anniversary is May 29th (Happy Anniversary babe!).

And then…vacation.

I have never longed for a condo in Hot Springs, Arkansas so badly in all of my life. Thanks to my mother-in-law for allowing us to tag along all of these years. I have pretty much decided that vacation is less about where you go and all about who is there to help you watch the kids. Vacation is also about quick and easy dinners and, if you are close to the water, seafood.

Shrimp is a favorite of mine and I have totally been on this shrimp/fish taco kick lately. I can’t seem to get enough. So I whipped up this simple recipe and imagined that I was sitting on a balcony, overlooking the water with a cocktail in one hand and a shrimp taco in the other.

June can’t get here soon enough.

shrimp tacos 022

Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 t. cumin
  • ½ lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 T butter
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • avocado for serving
  • Jalapeno slaw (recipe follows)
  • Jalapeno Slaw
  • ½ green or red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 2 T chopped green chilies
  • ½ t. dry dill
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 t. grated onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 t. cumin
  • ½ t. cayenne
  • 1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine shrimp, cumin, juice of lemon, and salt and toss to combine. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted, add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the shrimp and pink and just cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl to keep warm. Wipe the skillet clean, and warm each tortilla in the skillet according to package directions.
  2. For slaw: In a large bowl, place the shredded cabbage and set aside. In a blender, blend together the remaining ingredients. Pour half of the dressing over the cabbage and mix well. Add more if needed or set aside the remaining dressing for extra sauce. Refrigerate for up to one week.
  3. To serve, place a spoonful of slaw into each tortilla and top with 3-4 shrimp and a slice of avocado.
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Chickens and Eggs

18 Mar

Chicks!

 

A few weeks ago I was looking back through some old posts and came across one about what I hoped to have one day (and stuffed artichokes which by the way are delicious and I should totally make this again soon). The very first line of that post is:

“My dream is to one day move out of suburbia and back into the country. I would like to have a few acres of land for the kids to run around on freely, I would like some chickens, maybe a goat, a clothes line to hang out laundry and a nice, big garden.”

As I read this post from 3 years ago I realized that I have everything I ever wanted right now. Everything…including chickens!

A few weeks ago, the kids and I went to the feed store in town for 6 baby chicks. We came home with 8 and everything we needed to keep them alive until a chicken coop could be erected to house our new little bundles of joy and poop.

Speaking of coops, my husband has taken it upon himself to build the chicks the most awesome chicken coop on this side of the Mississippi.

This may not seem like much to those of you out there who are married to a very skilled carpenter, but my hubby is a restaurant manager and building anything has not been included in his skill set. Until now! He has really gotten into it (and maybe over-engineered it just a little) and I couldn’t be prouder.

Once it is all said and done our new girls will be housed in high style. Hopefully it will be soon because these birds aren’t getting any smaller.

So, in preparation for the overwhelming mass of eggs that we won’t have until sometime in August I am working on egg dishes. This one is easy and perfect for Easter!

deviledeggs

P.S. Thanks to April’s Attic for letting me borrow some super cute dishes!!

Horseradish Dill Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 3 t. prepared horseradish
  • 1 t. spicy brown mustard
  • ½ t. dried dill
  • ½ T sweet pickle relish
  • ¼ cup light mayo
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Pinch of paprika

Instructions

  1. Peel eggs and cut in half. Remove yolks to a bowl and mash lightly with a fork. Stir in horseradish, Dijon, dill, mayo, pickle relish and salt and pepper. Whip until creamy. Scoop the filling into a small plastic bag and cut out one corner to make a piping bag. Fill each egg half with filling and then top with a sprinkle of paprika. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Chinese Lettuce Cups

21 Feb

Lettuce Cups

My guilty pleasure is Asian cuisine. More specifically, Chinese takeout. Back when we lived in Atlanta, I kept the local Chinese restaurant very busy, especially after the twins were born. I ordered so often that the delivery guy began to comment on how big the kids were getting and would notice when I didn’t call in an order for a while. They even recognized my voice when I called. If we would have stayed there any longer, I would probably start getting Christmas cards from them.

Needless to say, there are not many Chinese takeout spots way out here in the country. This is a good thing since there have been plenty of nights when I would have happily called in my order for General Tso’s chicken, crab wontons, Pepper Steak, and some Sweet and Sour Chicken for the kids.

Besides being expensive, Chinese takeout isn’t very figure friendly (and I’ve got high hopes for a smaller swimsuit this year). So, as I roamed the aisles of the new discount grocery in town, I found nearly all of the makings of some very yummy lettuce cups. Healthy and tasty. It’s the best of both worlds.

Chinese Lettuce Cups

Ingredients

  • 16 lettuce leaves (use Bibb, Boston, or Iceburg)
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T minced pickled ginger
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 (8oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 t. dark Sesame oil
  • Sriracha (optional)

Instructions

  1. Rinse lettuce leaves and gently pat dry. Set aside to dry.
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat, add the oil and brown the beef until cooked through. Drain and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium, in the same pan cook the onion until just softened. Add in the garlic, hoisin, soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar. Stir to combine. Toss in the water chestnuts, sesame oil, green onions and beef and stir until coated in sauce. Cook until heated through.
  3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and fill each one with the beef mixture. Top with Sriracha sauce if you want and eat like a burrito!
  4. Tip: You can find all of these items in you store's Asian aisle. Pickled ginger is the pink stuff you find next to your sushi. It comes in a jar and is very refreshing. Substitute 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger if you like.
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A New Year,a Spicy Salad and a Pantry Challenge

1 Jan

Happy New Year!! 2013 has arrived despite all of the Mayan prophecies and many people are making all of the usual promises to themselves. I don’t know why we feel compelled to make all of these changes on the first day of the year. We could just as easily do it on a Tuesday in the middle of August. Nevertheless, here we are with grand intentions of bettering ourselves by this time next year and I am no different.

Top of the list is the always present “Lose X pounds”. I’m changing this up a little this year. It’s more like ” Get your butt off the couch and exercise 5 days a week. And quit eating like a teenager and drinking like a frat boy.” As my 31st birthday looms ever closer (3 weeks away. eeck!) I’m going to have to accept that I no longer have the metabolism of a perky waitress in a dive bar in Memphis. It’s my last hold-out and it’s days are numbered. I figure if I can stick to this, then the weight will gradually fall away.

My next, and probably easiest, resolution is to get back on the Dave Ramsey wagon. We started back in August and did really great up until December. December was (and always is) an expensive month. We didn’t lose any money but we didn’t save any either. So back on the budget we go and that’s okay with me.

This last one is something that I really didn’t think about until yesterday and it fits right into the budgeting goal. It’s a Pantry Challenge and I came across it over at Good Cheap Eats. Ya’ll…I need this. I have so many random things in my pantry that I really need to use. I don’t want to throw it away, but I am tired of moving them around. I have tons of dried beans, pasta, canned squash, relishes, and pickles. I also have lots of off-the-wall things; rice noodles, fish sauce, canned sardines, and Irish oatmeal (what makes it Irish anyway?). With the gardening season coming up, it’s time to make a little room. Oh! And we bought a side of beef, so I need to make room for that too.

So, this recipe is kind of a combo of all of these things. It’s very healthy and filling and the creamy dressing used quite a bit of ingredients in the fridge and spice cabinet. Hooray for me! The salad is enough for one, but the dressing makes enough for four. It’ll last 3-4 days in the fridge. It would also be great as a dip for grilled chicken or raw veggies.

Happy New Year!!

Check out this recipe on the Shine Supper Club too!

Southwest Salad with Spicy Cilantro Dressing

Ingredients

    Salad:
  • 2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kernel corn
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz. sliced grilled chicken breast (I used a Southwest seasoning on mine)
  • Dressing:
  • 1 - 6oz. container 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • 2T mayo
  • 1/4 c fat free half and half
  • 1/2 t dry dill
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/2 t sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine the salad ingredients and top with the grilled chicken.
  2. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  3. Top the salad with 1/4 of the dressing. Serve and enjoy!
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

21 Dec

The kids are finally out of school and the final days before Christmas are upon us.

The presents are piled under the tree, the twinkle lights are shining, Melvin the Elf is planning his escape, and the Christmas baking is well under way. Today we will be working on those last minute gifts for all of our friends and neighbors ( and we are fortunate to have so many). On days like this, a quick recipe that won’t take up oven space is a welcome addition and if it is made from peanut butter and chocolate it’s even better!

This is a great recipe to do with your kids. Feel free to substitute almond butter for the peanut butter and white chocolate for the semi-sweet!

Try not to eat them all before you give them away! Merry Christmas everyone!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 4 T softened butter, divided
  • 1 – 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter, and 3 tablespoons butter until very well combined. Shape the mixture into 1 – inch size balls and place on a wax paper lined tray. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of butter over a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate, shake off the excess, and return to the wax paper to harden. Repeat with the remaining balls. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 dozen
  2. Tip: Make your own double boiler by placing a glass or metal bowl on top of saucepan with 2 inches of water in the bottom. Heat the water until just boiling to create the gentle heat of a double boiler, but don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.
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Hot (Cocoa) for Teacher

6 Dec

My kids have some extraordinary teachers. They are kind-hearted, patient and have managed to make Kindergarten the most fun place to be for my babies. Honestly, my kids love Monday mornings because that means they get to go back to school! They come home with folders jam packed with construction paper and smiley faces and a look of pride that can’t be beat. I just hope that my kids hang on to this love of education for as long as possible.

So, for the two women who take care of and teach my children 5 days a week I wanted to make something very special. I also wanted something that the kids could help put together. Everyone loves hot cocoa and to make it over the top I even made some homemade marshmallows. Making marshmallows is not hard at all, and once they are set the kids can have a great time cutting out fun shapes with small cookie cutters.

This makes a great gift for teachers, bus drivers, hair stylists, neighbors, mail carriers, or anyone else who makes your daily life a little bit better.

 

Hot Cocoa Mix and Peppermint Marshmallows

Ingredients

    Cocoa Mix:
  • 2 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1 ½ cups dark or Dutch processed Cocoa
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ t. salt
  • Peppermint Marshmallows (adapted from My Baking Addiction)
  • 3/4 cup water, divided
  • 3 (1/4 ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • ¼ t. peppermint extract
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. For Cocoa Mix: Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. To Serve: For each serving mix 3 heaping spoonfuls of the cocoa mix and 2 T cold milk or water in a mug and mix until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of hot milk or water and top with peppermint marshmallows. Makes 4 1/2 cups
  2. For Marshmallows: Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with plastic wrap and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spray another piece of plastic wrap to cover the top, and set aside. In a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup of water and let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix ¼ cup of water, sugar, and corn syrup together. Bring to a hard boil and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Turn the mixer on low and slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin. Turn the mixer to high and whisk for 10-15 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add the peppermint extract and blend until incorporated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the lined pan and smooth the top with an oiled spatula. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to set for 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Mix together the sugar and cornstarch in a pie plate. Remove the marshmallows from the pan and slice into cubes with an oiled knife. Toss in the cornstarch/sugar mixture to coat and store in an airtight container.
  7. Tip: I love the peppermint with the hot chocolate. It tastes like one of those chocolate candies you get on a hotel pillow, but substitute 1 T. vanilla extract for a more traditional mallow.
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How to Avoid a Turkey Sandwich

20 Nov

 The turkey sandwich is the iconic Day-after-Thanksgiving food for most Americans and our household is no exception. Members of our family have been known to nearly chase you around the house with a turkey sandwich like some kind of turkey sandwich hustler. As if the fate of the world depended upon that turkey being eaten…and soon! No one shall be allowed to go Black Friday shopping unless a turkey sandwich has been consumed. It’s pretty serious stuff.

The thing about a turkey sandwich, though, is that they aren’t all that exciting. Bread, mayo, cheese lettuce, maybe some tomato. Sounds like the typical lunch box fare to me. I like to jazz things up a bit and the best jazz-in-a-bottle you can buy is Sriracha sauce.

Sriracha may be the best thing to ever come out of the Asian aisle in the grocery store. It’s a spicy ( but not too spicy) sauce that has a lingering heat that makes everything better. We put it on anything here; eggs, toast, fried chicken, stir fry, the list goes on and on. And it really does wonders for a turkey wrap especially paired up with the avocado. Make sure you get the big bottle of Sriracha. You are going to need it.

Spicy Turkey Wrap

Ingredients

  • 1 large burrito size flour tortilla
  • 1 T light mayo
  • 1 t. Sriracha Sauce ( or any hot chili sauce)
  • ½ cup chopped cooked turkey breast
  • ½ avocado, mashed
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar
  • ½ cup lettuce
  • ¼ cup sliced tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Lay tortilla out on a flat surface. In a small bowl mix together the mayo and Sriracha sauce. Spread the spicy mayo in a thin layer over one side of the tortilla. In a row down the middle place the turkey, avocado, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Roll up, burrito style, making sure to fold the ends in so that the filling won't fall out. Heat a dry skillet over medium high heat and place the wrap seam side down into the skillet. Place another skillet or heavy lid on top of the wrap to press it down ( think panini press) and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is browned, flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Slice down the middle and serve! Makes 1 wrap
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Salmon & Potato Chowder

11 Oct

Is it crazy to be wishing for a really cold winter? I feel like we got so jipped on last year’s unseasonably warm weather and this year I am craving cold followed by snow and joined by heaping bowls of soup. The last few mornings I have secretly enjoyed the sting of cold on my un-socked feet as I roll out of bed every morning. My morning cup of Joe ( or Johann – I love that commercial) is made even better when it warms my belly and my fingertips.

Maybe I just love the feeling of being warm and comforted. Not that that doesn’t happen in the Summer  but there is something about Fall and Winter that makes you want to snuggle close to your loved ones. And I do love to snuggle especially with my little monkeys.

Since the kids have started school, I have really started to notice just how big they are. Their little personalities are blossoming and their little faces are transforming into the  features that they will carry for the rest of their lives. If I look close enough, I can see the beautiful young woman my daughter will be and the handsome and fun-loving man my son will become. They will be tall and slender and full of life. They both will still have that little crinkle at the corner of their eyes when they smile and freckles will still grace their cute little noses. I’m sad for me and excited for them all at the same time. I guess that is the way it works for mothers.

Mothers also like to try to make everyone happy. So, when I came across this recipe in the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine cookbook, I thought it would be an easy sell to all parties concerned in our house. The result was simple and delicious and I will make it again even though my daughter only ate the potato soup and my son picked out all of the fish to eat. My husband and I thought it was perfect, so that must count for something.

P.S. Thanks again to April’s Attic for letting me borrow dishes. You guys are awesome.

P.P.S. If you are in the Dickson, TN area you can now read me in The Dickson Herald!

P.P.P.S. If you anywhere close to the middle Tennessee area you can come to a free cooking class that I will be putting on at Grinder’s Switch Winery on Oct 21st! Call to sign up!

Salmon & Potato Chowder ( adapted from Gourmet Today)

Ingredients

  • 5 slices Bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 salmon fillets, skinned ( about a pound)
  • 2 t. dried dill
  • 1 T butter

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy saucepan, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp and then drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 T of fat in the pan and saute onions, celery and potatoes until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add milk to the pan, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until potatoes are very tender, another 10 minutes. Using a stick blender or a food processor, blend the soup until it is creamy and only a few small chunks of potatoes remain. Stir in salmon, dill and butter and continue to simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.Serve in bowls topped with bacon ( and maybe a little cheddar cheese)
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Parmesan Popcorn

21 Aug

It’s been forever since I have posted recipes but in that time I have successfully gotten my two five year olds started in kindergarten. My pocketbook took a final huge sigh of relief as they climbed on the bus and headed toward a free education (goodbye daycare!)

Since then, lots of people have asked me if I cried their first day or if I am sad to see them growing up. I have to say that my answer to them is a pretty solid “no”. Although I got a little dewy that first morning at the crack of dawn before I had had any coffee, I am nothing but proud of my children. They are ready for this and so am I. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the new baby smell and those first recognizable words, but this age is my favorite. I love watching their little minds work out problems ( or in my son’s case, schemes), form opinions, and develop their individual personalities. It’s a chapter in our lives that we are all eager to start.

That being said, 6AM ain’t no joke. Packing lunches at 6AM is even less of a joke. I have been writing a series on healthy lunches in my hometown paper encouraging parents to pack at least 2 healthy lunches every week for their kids. Doing my best to practice what I preach, I have also been packing lunches for my kids ( whether they like it or not). School lunches here are $1.75 each (before ice cream). For two kids, that’s $70 a month. And it’s not like the food is all that great, nevertheless, my kids want to eat it. I’m sure there will be days that I send in my $4 for them to eat whatever the lunchroom is serving but until then I’m packing lunches.

So far the main dishes have been pretty easy, but since we live waayyy out of town we seem to run out of snacks and side food before the end of the week. Therefore, this Parmesan Popcorn is a great cheap, healthy and quick substitute for crackers or chips. The idea came from my friend Diana back in Georgia who served the kids and I up some of this for a snack one day. It was a big hit all around.

Parmesan Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of air-popped popcorn (or 1 bag of microwave popcorn, no salt)
  • 2 T light butter, melted
  • 2 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • ¼ t. garlic powder

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the popcorn and butter. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the popcorn. Toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!!
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Sauteed Swiss Chard and Summer Squash

31 May

The arrival of summer squash is a reason for celebration in our family. Everyone with the exception of my brother ( who has a limited palette anyway) loves fresh squash any way they can get it, and it’s a good thing too. In an attempt to beat the squash bugs to the punch I planted quite a few squash and zucchini plants thinking that the squash bugs would do as much damage as they did last year. Well my plan worked. The squash bugs have found the garden but I have managed to keep them at bay and the plants are so healthy that it would take a major infestation to kill them now. Of course, I now have 10 ( yes 10!) squash and zucchini plants that are pumping out 1 or 2 squashes each every day! Pair that with the Swiss Chard that is just as prolific and what you end up with is a woman trying her best to figure out what to do with all of this produce. I envision this happening a lot this Summer. Anyway, one of the dishes I have come up with uses both of my over zealous veggie varieties. If you can’t find Swiss Chard feel free to substitute spinach. Or just stop by my house and get some for yourself. Pull a few weeds while your there, will you?

Sauteed Swiss Chard and Summer Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 medium to large squash or zucchini, sliced
  • 1 lb Swiss Chard
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 T fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop Swiss chard leaves and stems, keeping them separate. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onion, chard stems and garlic to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add squash, chard leaves, oregano and salt and pepper to the pan. Toss the mixture until all of the veggies are coated with the oil. Continue to cook until the Swiss chard has wilted and the squash are cooked through, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes. Remove the veggies from the pan and toss with crumbled feta cheese. Serve immediately.
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Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Red Onion Marmalade

21 May

Memorial Day weekend for many is the rope drop for Summer. I don’t even have to look at the calendar to know when Memorial day weekend is, I can tell it’s close by the throngs of cars parked on the side of the road by the creek just above me. Come Memorial Day, screams of terror followed by a loud splash fill my yard as teenager after teenager jump off J.H. Barber bridge. And during the Summer, I am often reminded of an eternal question asked by parents everywhere, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” The answer to this question is obviously “Yes” for many.

This weekend is also a time to honor our military, past and present. The urge to serve our country runs pretty thick in our family with just about every male for as long as I can remember serving at least a little time in one branch or another. I can’t imagine what our country would be like without the service of our brave men and women in uniform and I am thankful for the sacrifices that they have made for us. If it weren’t for them, the freedom to choose how we live would be taken from us and that would be a horrible fate. Worse than jumping off the J.H. Barber bridge.

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Red Onion Marmalade

Ingredients

    marmalade:
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • ½ t. salt
  • burgers:
  • 1 ½ lbs ground chuck
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • ½ c. crumbled blue cheese
  • to serve:
  • 4 sesame seed buns
  • lettuce
  • mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Prepare your grill.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter for the marmalade. Add the onions to the pan and stir to coat with the butter. Cook the onions for 15-20 minutes or until they are soft and tender. Add the sugar, vinegar, and salt to the onions and stir to combine. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the ground chuck, Worcestershire and garlic powder. Shape into 4 large balls. Press a indent into the center of each ball and fill with blue cheese crumbles. Shape into a patty around the cheese so that it is completely enclosed and patty is about ½ inch thick. Grill burgers over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Spread a thin layer of mayo on each bun, top with lettuce, burger and red onion marmalade. Serve and enjoy!
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Tex Mex Tortilla Salad

23 Apr

It seems I have gone AWOL from this poor little blog lately. These things happen. For the last month, we have been hopping from one activity to another. Dance and T-Ball on Monday, Taekwondo on Tuesday and Thursday, T-Ball again on Friday. Of course there is also work at the winery, writing for the newspaper, and lets not forget laundry. The never ending laundry. The garden is also becoming more and more productive, there fore requiring more of my attention.

I will not complain about the garden. It is my happy little oasis in the corner of our yard. So far, we have gotten several delicious strawberries out of our patch as well as radishes, spinach and lettuce. And I am pretty excited to say that I will have fresh Summer squash a good month ahead of everyone else.

The point of all this rambling is to say that I have become well acquainted with the uber-quick dinner.  More than once dinner has been a grilled cheese sandwich and a bunch of grapes or some much unhealthier version of that. Lucky for me, BBQ season has started and thanks to my husband, our fridge is well stocked with lots of smoked and pulled meat. While BBQ sandwiches are always delicious, sometimes I need something with a vegetable on it ( call me crazy!). So, because I never throw away my food magazines I adapted a Food&Wine recipe to fit what I had in the fridge. I made this with chopped brisket but it will also work well with chicken, pork or even some grilled white fish.

Tex Mex Tortilla Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 taco shells ( the crispy ones)
  • 5 ½ T cooking oil ( any kind will do)
  • 2-15oz – cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup tomato salsa
  • ¾ t. salt
  • 1 ½ T wine vinegar ( red or white)
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ t. black pepper
  • ¼ t. chili powder
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 head lettuce ( romaine or iceburg)
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked kernel corn
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • ¼ pound of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound warm shredded meat ( brisket, pork or chicken)
  • 1/3 cup black olives

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350. Place the taco shells on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Break each one in half and set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the beans, salsa, and a ¼ t. of salt to the pan. Using a potato masher, stir and mash the beans for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining salt, mustard, pepper, and chili powder. Add in the remaining oil and whisk until the dressing looks creamy. Stir in the cilantro.
  4. Spread a spoonful of bean mixture on each taco shell half and place 4 on each plate. Top with layers of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, corn, meat, cheese, olives, and avocado. Drizzle each salad with dressing and serve!
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Asparagus Gremolata

22 Mar

Spring has certainly arrived here in the South and it has brought buckets of pollen with it. Everything I own is covered with a fine layer of yellow dust. Sneezes, snotty noses, and watery eyes are the standard fare for everyone in our family. We have all developed a close, personal relationship with our allergy meds.

Other than the stuffy noses, all of our plants and flowers are beautiful. Everything is so green and fresh including the produce coming out of the garden. The one thing I wish I had in my garden is asparagus. Asparagus is such a commitment for a garden. One spot has to be dedicated for at least 2 years before you see any delicious edible spears sticking up from the ground. It’s hard to be that committed in a rental house with only 2 bedrooms. So, I am forced to buy my favorite Spring veggie.

I like my asparagus simple. I generally just toss them in a little olive oil and salt and pepper and roast them in the oven until just tender. This gremolata makes the asparagus slightly more fancy.

Asparagus Gremolata

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 slices white bread
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano or parsley
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 T lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss asparagus, olive oil, and salt and pepper together in a baking dish. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until crisp tender.
  2. Meanwhile, pulse the bread slices in a food processor until you've made breadcrumbs.
  3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the crumbs and stir until they are golden and crisp. Spread on a plate to cool.
  4. Pulse, lemon zest, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor until they are the same consistency as the bread crumbs. Mix together with cooled crumbs.
  5. Plate asparagus and top with gremolata.
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Saucy Mama’s Low Cal Sausage Skillet and a Giveaway!!

22 Feb

I’ve been so busy lately. The catering business is starting to pick up, the winery is getting busy, and my kids are really getting into their extracurricular activities ( Remind me to do a post about the awesomeness of taekwondo for my son).

For that reason I have been turning down a lot of products and promotions for this blog. I just feel like I may not have time to really do the product justice, ya know? So when I got an email from Barhyte foods for a new Saucy Mama “Skinny Mama” contest, I nearly passed it up. But then I remembered the last time I did a Saucy Mama contest and how much fun it was to create a recipe around a new product! (Getting my hands on some more superb Saucy Mama products didn’t hurt either) So, I joined in the contest and put my thinking cap on.

The contest is all about healthy cooking. The recipes that are submitted have to follow some nationally recognized diet ( i.e. Atkins or low-cal) By the time I got my box of delicious mustards in I had some ideas floating around in the ol’ noodle that I was dying to try. I tried a few different things. I did some potato skewers, some baked breaded chicken strips, a pretty yummy salad, but I wasn’t blown away by anything I was coming up with. Then I thought, ” What do I like mustard on? Sausage. What goes with sausage? Peppers and Onions, of course! And potatoes! Why not! With some kind of mustardy sauce! Perfect!”

I get very excited when I talk to myself, obviously.

So, I hit the kitchen and got to work and you know what? It came out really dang good. And the kids even ate it! And it’s only about 320 calories for a serving! Sweet!

The only thing left for me to do is enter this recipe in the contest. The only thing left for you to do is make this dish, vote for me, and enter the giveaway for some of your very own Saucy Mama mustard.

Giveaway rules:

Comment here ( make sure to fill out your email so that I can get in touch with you if you win) telling us your favorite healthy tip!

Facebook followers who share this link get extra entries! ( Just comment here again to let me know)

Giveaway ends March 11th!

 

Sausage Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 14 oz. package smoked turkey sausage, sliced
  • 2 just baked Russet potatoes ( microwaved is fine), cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 t. salt
  • Mustard Sauce
  • 3 T Saucy Mama's Smoky Garlic mustard ( or dijon)
  • 3 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 T chopped scallion tops
  • 1/2 t. pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add turkey sausage, potatoes, pepper, onion and garlic to the pan. Saute, stirring often until veggies are soft and potatoes and sausage have browned, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in half of mustard sauce and toss to combine with the sausage mixture. Add water to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium and cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Serve in 4 bowls and top each dish with remaining mustard sauce. Garnish with more scallions. Serves 4.
  4. About 320 calories per serving.
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Alphabet Soup

18 Feb

There hasn’t been much of a winter down here in Tennessee. Take yesterday for example. It was 64 degrees outside! In the middle of February!  This weather is just crazy. We have had the odd day or two of really cold temperatures. We actually had some snow last week…briefly. I took that opportunity to make this recipe that I have been thinking about for a couple of weeks now.

So, maybe I’ve told you before that there are only 2 grocery stores in my small town. One is a local chain that does their best, but is a little expensive. (I go there to buy “weird” things like balsamic vinegar or Romaine lettuce). The other grocery is a Save-a-Lot, which I do most of my shopping at. I consider it an adventure to shop at Save-a-Lot and I have found some really great things there. Last week I found fresh mozzarella and queso fresco. They periodically have Cornish game hens and a 15lb sack of the biggest dang baking potatoes I have ever seen.

Hey, you move out to the middle of no where and then see what you get excited about finding at the grocery store.

So anyway, on a recent shopping expedition I came across this bag of alphabet pasta for $.47 each. How much fun is alphabet pasta?! It’s practically a barrel of monkeys if you ask me, so I bought two bags. I turned one bag into this yummy vegetable soup. I added some ground turkey ( $1 per pound at ye ol’ Save-a-Lot) and made it even more yummy. And the kids loved it too.

 

Alphabet Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning
  • ½ t. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 (6oz.) can tomato paste mixed with 1 quart hot water
  • 1 (15 oz.) can each of green beans and kernel corn, drained
  • 1 t. sugar (optional)
  • 1 ( 7oz ) package dried alphabet pasta or other small pasta
  • ½ cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add turkey, onion, carrot and celery and cook until the turkey is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and seasoning and cook for another minute. Pour in stock, tomato paste mixture, beans and corn. Taste the soup. If it’s a little bitter, add sugar. Heat to boiling. Add in the pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente, stirring often. Add in the peas and allow to heat through, 3-4 minutes. Serve with a salad or a grilled cheese sandwich.
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