Wednesday, June 30, 2010

grilled filet mignon with roasted garlic chimichurri

recipe adapted from Chef Robert Mignola (South Beach Diet Cookbook)

We don't eat a whole lot of red meat in our house.  When we do, it is usually a lean cut like filet mignon. Because filet doesn't have a ton of flavor on its own, this chimichurri sauce adds the perfect amount of punch to this perfectly textured, tender cut of beef.

This is a great entertaining recipe because the majority of the work is done ahead of time.  It takes about 45 minutes to roast the garlic but other than turning on the oven, there is no work involved.  Just toss everything in a magic bullet or blender and it's done!I make the chimichurri the night before and leave it in the fridge.  The next day, the steaks take about 12 minutes to grill.  I take the sauce out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while the steaks cook.  

Filet Mignon
4 filet mignons (6 ounces each)

Roasted Garlic Chimichurri
1 head garlic
2 T jarred jalapeno slices (pickled) (OR 2 whole pickled jalapenos OR 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce for a smokier flavor)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

To make chimichurri:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cut the top 1/4 off of the garlic, wrap loosely in foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Cool.
Squeeze garlic into a magic bullet or blender.  (Roasted garlic should be soft.)
Combine remaining ingredients in the magic bullet or blender and blend until parsley and peppers are finely chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.

To make steaks:
Preheat grill.
Season steaks with salt and pepper.
Grill the steaks to desired doneness.  (About 4-6 minutes per side.)
Drizzle with Chimichurri before serving!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

grilled tequila lime chicken

recipe adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

I love so many of The Barefoot Contessa's recipes.  This particular dish tastes like summer on a plate to me.  The original recipe uses split chicken breasts with the skin on which of course works well too.  On this particular day I used chicken tenderloins because that was what I had mistakenly ordered from peapod.  I usually make it with boneless skinless chicken breasts because that is what we prefer.  I marinate about 2 pounds of chicken and use the leftovers to toss in our salads during lunch.

It takes about 15 minutes to make and clean up the marinade the night before and another 15-20 minutes to grill it the next day!  Quick and easy!


  • 1/2 cup gold tequila (Don't worry, the alcohol cooks off!)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins  


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight.*
Heat up the grill and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them  for a few minutes, (or more) depending on the thickness. Turn the chicken and cook for another few minutes ( or more), until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
*I mix mine in a large ziploc bag.  Be careful if you do this.  There is quite a bit of liquid.  It gets difficult to hold the bag and add ingredients without spilling!

Friday, June 25, 2010

quick and healthy breakfast smoothie

recipe adapted from the Eat Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno
I realize breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I am just not hungry when I wake up.  I drink some coffee and then need to eat an hour later.  Of course I have already made breakfast and cleaned it up at this point and the thought of going through the process again is less than appealing.   I own one of those magic bullet blenders and decided to experiment with some smoothie recipes that would keep me full and require little clean up.  This one is my favorite.  It has about 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  A healthy and filling breakfast that gets me through the morning!

As soon as the girls saw me drinking a frothy, milk shake looking breakfast, they immediately wanted to taste it!  They LOVE it.  The recipe below makes one shake and fits perfectly in the magic bullet.  If I am tripling the recipe for the girls, I need to bust out the big blender!

Banana Nut Smoothie
1 frozen banana ( I usually peel it and stick it in the fridge the night before.  I make these with regular bananas too and they are just as good.  Using a frozen banana does disguise the little bits of oatmeal left behind.)
1 T of your favorite nut butter (We use peanut butter.)
1/4 cup of uncooked, dry oatmeal
1/2 cup of your favorite milk (We use soy or skim milk)
1-2 ice cubes (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a magic bullet or blender!  Serve cold!!!
* I like to add 2 T of raw sunflower seeds to mine.  The girls don't like it because it adds a "bitty" texture.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

slow cooker barbecued pulled pork with homemade onion rolls

Pulled pork is one of those great set it and forget type slow cooker recipes.  The longer it cooks, the better it tastes.  Our middle daughter, Talia, was born with severe food allergies.  I quickly got into the habit of compulsively reading food labels and carefully reviewing ingredients.  Everyone loves barbecue sauce in our house but finding a brand that was safe for Talia and did not contain yucky ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, was extremely difficult.  I now make my own barbecue sauce and have included the recipe below.  It tastes just like the Sweet Baby Rays brand, which I use if I am pressed for time.

Because the pork recipe is so low maintenance, I love to use my bread machine to make the dough for these onion rolls.  When the dough is done, knead it a couple of times on the counter,  let the rolls sit for a little bit and bake them.  This is a great dish to serve on a summer weekend when hosting a little backyard BBQ.  There is so little work involved you can actually visit with your guests and not be hanging out in the kitchen or sweating in front of the grill.  Serve with some salads and you're good to go!

Pulled Pork
3 pounds boneless pork ribs* (Ribs taste great but are a little fatty.  I often buy a lean 3 lb boneless pork roast  instead. Cut it in half and place in slow cooker.)
1 carton Natures Promise Beef Broth
4 1/2 cups of homemade BBQ sauce (recipe below) OR an 18 oz bottle of barbecue sauce (We like Sweet Baby Ray's)
Foil Pan (or any 9 X 13 dish)


  1. Place pork in slow cooker.  Pour beef broth over it.
  2. Cook on low 8 hours.  
  3. Remove pork from slow cooker and shred.  Pour desired amount of bbq sauce on the shredded pork, stirring to combine.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce (a sweet BBQ sauce)
The ingredient list is long but most are kitchen staples!  


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 4 teaspoons hickory-flavored liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, wine vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke and butter. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for up to 20 minutes. For thicker sauce, simmer longer, and for thinner, less time is needed. Sauce can also be thinned using a bit of water if necessary. 

Homemade Onion Rolls


  • 3/4 cup plus 5 T lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 t active dry yeast
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup dried minced onion


  1. Place the water, butter, salt, sugar, onion powder, 3 tablespoons of dried onion, oats, flour and yeast into the pan of a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the Dough cycle, and press Start.
  2. When the cycle has completed, remove the dough from the machine, and knead on a lightly floured surface for about a minute. Cut into 8 equal pieces, and form into balls. Place on a baking sheet, and cover loosely with a towel. Let rise about 40 minutes (they will double in size).
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Whisk together the egg white and water in a cup. Brush over the tops of the risen rolls, and sprinkle with remaining minced onion.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Cool completely, then slice in half horizontally before using.

Monday, June 21, 2010

garden primavera

We have a small garden in our backyard and come mid-July it yields more veggies than one family can eat in a week!  I end up chopping and mixing them into almost everything.  During one of those weeks last summer, I came up with this pasta dish that has lots of  fresh vegetables and lots of flavor.  I like to make it a day or two after we have some kind of grilled chicken.  I have Mike season up and grill a few extra pieces so I can chop them up and toss them in this dish right before serving.  

Prep Ahead:  Save time by preparing step 2 the night before.  It takes about 20 minutes to chop, saute and clean up the vegetable mixture.  The next day, right before dinner, I boil the pasta and toss it all together to heat through.  


  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked farfalle pasta
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled with lemon pepper seasoning and chopped *(optional)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • 2 small yellow squash, chopped
  • 4-6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place farfalle in pot and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente; drain.
  2.  Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet. Stir in garlic and onion, and cook until tender. Mix in zucchini, squash, tomatoes and basil.   Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 1/2 cups of broth. Season with red pepper. Continue cooking 10 minutes.
  3. Mix pasta and cheese into skillet. Toss in chicken( if using it). Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until heated through.  If it seems dry add more broth and maybe a little olive oil.

Friday, June 18, 2010

jam and bread

Oh how I love strawberry season!  In our house it is the official start of summer.  I wasn't going to post the jam recipe I use because it's right inside the Sure Jell box you can buy at your local market!  In the past two weeks,  I have given it out 6 times so I decided it was worth posting!

This recipe is for freezer jar jam.  Many consider this to be a baby step toward canning.  In making freezer jam, you follow the same process as you would in traditional canning, minus the heat. This saves time and a little bit of effort! Don't feel like you are cheating though! In my opinion, uncooked fruit stays much fresher than cooked preserves, so when you crack open your strawberry treasure in mid-January, it will taste more like the fresh summer fruit you picked from the field.

This jam is the ultimate in prep ahead recipes.  I'm not claiming it's low in calories and super healthy because it's not.  My kids run around like maniacs all day so a little bit of sugar is perfectly fine with me in their otherwise healthy well-balanced diet!  I always double this recipe and get about 12, 8 oz jars out of it.  There is nothing better than opening a fresh, homemade jar of strawberry jam on a frigid winter morning.  A little taste of summer in those cold winter months is the best!

This recipe is so quick and easy, we made it before Riley headed off to school the other day!  After we came back from the bus stop I threw all of the ingredients in the bread machine and we had jam and bread for snack that afternoon.  Yum!  But who needs bread? I could drink this stuff.

French Bread (bread machine recipe)
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 1/2 t salt
2 T sugar
4 cups bread flour (You can use 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour also)
2 t yeast

Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order given.  Set on french setting and medium crust.

Strawberry Freezer Jam recipe from Sure Jell


2 cups crushed strawberries (buy 1 qt. fully ripe strawberries) I use a potato masher.  Be sure to measure the crushed fruit !
4 cups  sugar, measured into separate bowl
3/4 cup water
1 box  SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin

I use 8 0z glass ball jars.  I wash them in the dishwasher first.  When filling them with jam, I leave about an inch at the top of the jar for expansion.  I always double the recipe from above and get about 12 jars out of it.

make it!

 Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly, 1 cup at a time. I use a potato masher. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into large bowl. Stir in sugar. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally.
MIX water and pectin in small saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring 1 min. Add to fruit mixture; stir 3 min. or until sugar is almost dissolved. (A few sugar crystals may remain.)
FILL all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use.   Don't be afraid to spread some on a piece of bread immediately.  It will be a little runny as in my picture but still yummy! Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.