May 06 2010

Pure Comfort…

Having a husband that occasionally eats 3 McDonald’s cheeseburgers and 2 McDonald’s baked apple pies* for lunch…I need to get a little creative for weekend lunches to keep the boy fed.

*Dan has been on a search to find the deep-fried pies they used to sell – he actually found a website that talked about the smaller McDonald’s having them due to space issues – they use the deep fryers to cook them…one day, victory will be his!

While I try my hardest to eat pretty healthy, a few comfort food/family recipes still find their way into the rotation. Ace’s Mom and Dad used to make “Meat Cups” for the boys and their simple recipe got passed along to me.

I made them as an appetizer for a block party a few years back and all of my drunk neighbors gobbled them up. I have to say, it is the perfect “drunk food”

For appetizers, I use my small muffin pans – 24 muffins…but this past weekend I wanted more of a lunch sized portion, heavier on the filling…

The ingredients include:
1 lb. lean ground beef (I have substituted ground turkey and shredded chicken before with excellent results)
BBQ Sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s has become an easy favorite (I’ve made my own BBQ sauce as well)
Refrigerated Biscuits – I usually use the Pillsbury Grand Biscuits and cut them into 4’s for the smaller muffin pan. This time I used Pillsbury Grands! Jr – Golden Layers – Buttermilk, any brand will do…or you can use pizza dough or make your own.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese – Tillamook is my favorite – I definitely prefer using cheese I’ve shredded myself, pre-shredded doesn’t melt right.
Garlic – to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sidenote: Speaking of Garlic – Trader Joe’s carries Dorot – a frozen crushed garlic – I often use it mid-week when I’m pressed for time. They also have frozen herbs by the same brand. LOVE them! Just pop em’ out and put the rest back in the freezer for later.

So the first step is to preheat the oven to the instructions on the biscuits. It varies depending what brand or kind you use. You then need to brown the ground beef with  salt, pepper and garlic. Once the meat has been browned and drained…add your BBQ sauce. Eyeball the amount of BBQ Sauce. I probably used a cup for the 1lb. of ground beef. You want the meat to be coated really well.

Using a non-stick muffin pan – flatten out your biscuit dough and place into each individual muffin hole. If you don’t have non-stick, I would definitely spray or coat the pan, so you can easily get them out.

You then add the meat into the biscuit cup…

and top with the shredded cheese – Like I said above, I used cheddar…but have used jack and mozzarella – just depends what your other ingredients are.

Slide them into the oven – when using the smaller muffin pan, you really need to watch them. They cook much faster.

I made sea salt oven fries for Dan and a spring mix salad for me. While we don’t have these very often, they sure are a great comfort food and substitute for Dan’s obsession with fast food lunches. He definitely prefers the smaller appetizer size, makes it easier to eat one after another.

Combos that would be good – ground turkey, chicken or beef, marinara and mozzarella – ground turkey, chicken or beef, taco seasoning or chili seasoning and sharp cheddar…the possibilities are endless and kids have loved them.

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May 04 2010

Gonna dress you up in my love…

So I have a slightly small obsession with salad dressing. Store bought, make my own, I pretty much love salad dressing. I’m about to unveil the ridiculous number of dressings I currently have housed in my fridge door. When on South Beach a year or more ago, I happened upon these delights:

Galeo’s – Their slogan is “One taste and you’re hooked for life” – yep…I pretty much cry when the Nugget is out of stock.  Oh my god how I love me some low-fat miso…What? You don’t get all hot and bothered over salad dressing? 

Miso Sesame is my favorite. With only 22 Calories per tablespoon, 2 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of carbs and the shocking low 35mg of sodium…it’s MONEY! Totally worth ordering online if you don’t have some overpriced/stuffy market nearby.

Mr. Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinagrette also worked its way into the photo – it’s a sweet pear and gorgonzola dressing – shelf life isn’t too long, so I only buy it on occasion…when I have tasty pears on hand. I like a variety…I want to be able to have a different dressing daily if possible. I pretty much eat a salad for lunch on most days.

Next up…Girard’s – I’ve been in love with their Light Champagne since forever. My Mom used to use the full fat version and I found the light version and it was a perfect substitute, still fabulous taste and fewer calories and fat. 

To my surprise….I found 3 additional flavors at the grocery store this past weekend. Apple Poppyseed, Light Raspberry (Love their full fat Raspberry and this one is another perfect substitution) and Peach Mimosa. I got home from the store, whipped out my container of spring mix and started taste testing. I loved both the Apple Poppyseed and the Peach Mimosa…gotta find the right salad fixings for those puppies. Any ideas or perfect combos you can think of? I’ve already used the Light Raspberry on a spring mix, goat cheese, walnut and fresh raspberry salad – Yum!

In the homemade dept. I got a really cool Bonjour salad dressing container/mixer  for Christmas from a girlfriend. She also got me the Salad Dressing 101 book and I’ve been mixing up a storm ever since. I often make the following simple dressing:

Maple Mustard Dressing
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup – use the good stuff!
1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

I usually cut down on the Dijon a bit…but overall, it’s great when I’m feeling that I need a change from my other 27 bottles.

The crazy thing…Dan pretty much only likes Thousand Island dressing…

Nothing beats a lunch time salad by the pool with my latest catalog…love me some home decor catalogs. Today’s salad consisted of mixed greens, radishes, tomatoes, asparagus, green onion, feta and pecans…I used the balsamic from my handy-dandy Bonjour container. I teamed that with a Thomas’s Everything Bagel Thin with Laughing Cow Light Cheese. Mah belly is happy.

Now it’s back to work for me.

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May 03 2010

The Cauliflower Tabouli Experiment…

So I had the head of cauliflower from last weekend’s farmer’s market trip. I had come across a 6 easy side dish page in my latest Food Network Magazine and I immediately thought “Yep, gonna try my hand at Tabouli” – My first stop was Wikipedia…um WTH is Tabouli? I found various spellings, but learned that Tabouli Salad is a Middle Eastern delight that usually contains wheat bulgar or couscous. This all started making sense. The recipe was replacing the bulgar or couscous with cauliflower…nice!

The first step was to gather all of the ingredients:

1 Head Cauliflower
2 Diced Plum Tomatoes – (I only had sweet cherubs – no problem)
1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (I used light)
2 Chopped Scallions
1 Bunch Chopped Parsley
2 Tablespoons Chopped Mint
Salt and Pepper

The second step was to wrestle the cauliflower into submission.

Now to get the smaller pieces graded. I’ve always had a fear of the grater…probably because I do it wrong. I purchased a Good Cook brand standing grater and that helped a lot.

Wow…someone has pudgalicious fingers… I proceeded to grade all of the florets. The pieces were kind of inconsistent, but it didn’t seem to matter in the end.

I had my bowl of cauliflower pieces and was ready to add the other ingredients. I just kept dumping things into the bowl and then gave it a good stir.

I took the final dish outside for a photo shoot. The backyard is starting to come out of its winter slump…

The perfect setting for the perfect new side dish. I ended up putting the dish into the fridge for a good 4 hours before diving in. I think the acid from the lemon really helped to soften the cauliflower. If you like tangy things…then give it a try. I will definitely be making this again, but for now, I’ll be enjoying it all week – I could not pay Dan enough to even give it a try.


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