Monday, April 30, 2012

Marinated Steak Tacos - Cinco de Mayo



It is Cinco de Mayo Friday so we are having Mexican food week. I actually do a unit on Mexico at school with my fourth grade art class and at the end we celebrate Cinco de Mayo by making our own tortillas in class. I can't wait for that tomorrow (I don't work on Fridays so we have to do it early). I put a link below to how to make your own tortillas too because once you make them yourself you will never want store bought ones again. 

At home, I could eat Mexican food every day. I really wanted to make my own tamales but I could not find any local corn husks, so I will have to do that another time and order the corn husks online. There are not many Mexican markets in New Hampshire!  I decided to make a marinated steak taco instead. The recipe is from this Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications   - simply titled Mexican. I think this might be the same one on Amazon but the cover is different. It is FULL of great authentic Mexican recipes and little facts. I have been drooling over it for months and it was past time to try something from it. This recipe calls for flank steak, which is not my favorite, so I opted for a round steak that was sliced thin. You can use either. 


Marinated Steak Tacos 

  • 2 pounds thinly sliced steak round or skirt/flank steak
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 2 ts chilli powder
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 corn homemade tortillas

1. Trim fat from meat. Make sure your meat is extra thin (about 1/4" thick) and tenderize with a meat cleaver  until it is. 
2. Cut the meat into thin strips (about 2 inches wide) and put into a gallon sized ziploc bag. 
3. In a medium sized bowl combine the rest of the ingredients for the marinade: lime juice, canola oil, chili powder, minced garlic, and salt. Pour over the steak in the bag, zip it shut, and make sure the marinade coats all the meat. 
4. Place the bag in the fridge for 60-90 minutes.
5. Grill the meat over a charcoal grill or an electric indoor grill (like I did). 

Enjoy in a homeade corn tortilla (Mealpod Recipe), with Mexican Rice, Roasted Corn, and a little sour cream. 

I actually cheated on my Mexican rice since I was already making tortillas and the steak (you can't make everything the right way), by combining 2 cups rice cooked in a rice cooker, a half a jar of my favorite salsa - Green Mountain Salsa - and a bit of garlic to lessen the acidity of the salsa. It comes out mooshy instead of fluffy like when you do Mexican rice the right way, but it works! Check out the ingredients on the Green Mountain Salsa: 

INGREDIENTS: Ripe Tomatoes, Fresh Onions, Fresh Tomatillos, Fresh Pasilla Peppers, Fresh JalapeƱo Peppers, Fresh Cilantro, Apple Cider Vinegar, Fresh Parsley, Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Spices
ALL OF OUR PRODUCTS ARE: All Natural, No Preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. Gluten Free, Cholesterol Free, No GMO's (Genetically modified produce).
That is what a food label should look like! This stuff TASTES AMAZING too  and they actually sell it online by the case, which my Mom did buy one year and passed it out to her friends back home. 



To make the tacos into a frozen Mealpod (after devouring several fresh) I mixed the rice and corn together and put it in the bottom of a Mealpod foil packet (simply a sheet of heavy duty foil) and placed two strips of steak on top. 


Other Mealpod recipes celebrating Mexican food:








Friday, April 27, 2012

Lunch Roundup #10

Pretzel-dog carrots, string cheese, strawberries and watermelon. 

Lunch Roundup # 10! For people new to our blog, and especially our new Paleo followers, this blog is written by my sister Melissa and I. Melissa is the Paleo poster, and while I try to not eat to eat too many grains in a week/day, my family and I don't follow Paleo. I will often make Paleo like meals and gluten-free ones mainly because I think the American diet has too many excuses to eat breads and grains, but my school lunch roundup usually has some sort of whole grain in it. 

I had to try my hand at making real pretzels (instead of breadsticks that resemble pretzels like last time). The difference is just boiling them for 30 seconds in water and baking soda, which seemed scarier than it ended up being. For the lunches I wrapped the dough around chicken sausage to make pretzel-dogs and with the rest of the dough I experimented with different shapes and sizes of pretzels. 


There are so many recipes on the web for pretzels to choose from. I used this recipe  from cdkitchen  that uses half whole wheat flour, and a bit of honey and they turned out great. 

For the dogs I used the recipe above (because I wanted a whole wheat recipe) but followed the directions on Joy The Baker for how to wrap the sausages. I started with cutting my sausage in half and rolling a long snake of dough around the sausage making sure that the seams get pressed closed. Take a look at Joy the Baker's post to see how that is done.  Getting it water tight is important because after you put the dough on them, they will need to be boiled for 30 seconds in a bath of water and baking soda. I used a large skillet filled with water as high as it could go without spilling when boiled, and added 4 tbs baking soda. Then I put the wrapped dog in the boiling water for 30 seconds on each side since it was not fully immersed. 

After boiling them, place them on a greased cookie sheet and brush them with egg yolk and water. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 until they get a nice dark pretzel color. You will be tempted to take them out early - but don't! Wait until they LOOK like a pretzel! Believe me I took way too many out too soon including the one in the photo. The ones where I forgot about them in the oven (oops) turned out the best!

The pretzel dogs have about 200 calories, 2 g fiber,3 g fat from my estimation on Livestrong.com 


We did make plain pretzels too for a snack and I will be doing them again soon with some spelt flour expeiments!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Deviled Chicken Salad








Behold!  The mealpod in it's natural habitat!   Most of my lunches are eaten at my desk, in front of my computer, during the hour that our filter is turned off.   Today lunchtime caught me perusing one of my favorite Paleo recipe websites, Chowstalker!

This is one of my all time favorite Paleo recipes.  Combining egg salad and chicken salad makes it packed with protein and fairly low calorie.  If I wasn’t so lazy I would totally make my own mayonnaise. It’s supposed to be easy, but it is totally one of those things that scares me.  I usually eat it right from the container, at my desk, at lunchtime, but I have been known to occasionally eat it with gluten-free crackers or in a carved out tomato or green pepper.  That probably would make a gorgeous photo.  I should do that some day. 
Deviled Chicken Salad
Prep Time: 10 min               
Cook Time: 0 minutes            
Yield: 6

INGREDIENTS:

12 oz chicken breast, cooked and cubed
3 hardboiled egg, chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 bunch green onion, diced fine
salt & fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

·         Cube chicken and put in mixing bowl

·         Mix in chopped egg, celery and green onions

·         Fold in mayonnaise and mustard, mix gently until well distributed

·         Add salt and pepper to taste.

Portion 1 cup per mealpod and store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 6 PODs: 216 calories, 8g fat, 201g sodium, 3.5G carb, 0g fiber, 10g protein

nutrition information estimated at Livestrong.com:



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chicken Drumstick Vesuvio



Like a lot of households, things have been kind of lean around here.  Gas and grocery costs seem to keep going up, but nothing new is coming in.  One thing I love about chicken drumsticks is they are CHEAP, but they are also easy to make and easy to eat.  If you grow your own herbs like my sister Nicole, it's even cheaper. This recipe freezes well and reheats even better, the freezing / reheating process seems to make the herbs really sink in.
 Chicken Drumstick Vesuvio

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 60 minutes            
Yield: 8

INGREDIENTS:

8 chicken drumsticks
4 average sized potatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup fresh green beans
1 tbsp fresh oregano
½ tsp sage
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

DIRECTIONS:

·         Preheat oven to 375

·         Cut potatoes into wedges

·         Place drumsticks, potato wedges and green beans into a 9 x 13 dish

·         Sprinkle with oregano, sage, salt & pepper

·         Drizzle with melted oil

·         Bake 30 minutes, stirring once, be sure to flip each drumstick

·         Sprinkle with garlic and chicken broth and continue baking another 30 minutes

Once cool, garnish with parsley and store as mealpods

Nutrition: 8 PODS 235 calories, 13g fat, 231g sodium, 16G carb, 2g fiber, 15g protein

nutrition information estimated at Livestrong.com:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mini Sweet Potato & Beef Shepherd's Pies


Mini Sweet Potato & Beef Shepherd's Pies
or
My First Shepherd's Pie

I have wanted to try shepherd's pie for a while, so I went with the big guns and started with Gordon Ramsey's recipe and then made some little variations like adding peas along with carrots, and using sweet potatoes on top (minus the butter and cream). I actually did half the recipe with yukon potatoes for the kids, but I don't think they are going to like this recipe... toO much wine flavor, which was really yummy for me, but not for them. I am going to have to make a very dumbed down version for them next time if I want them to eat it... sigh.  

Since I made both white potato topped pies and sweet potatoed tops I could compare them. I found that I enjoyed the sweet potato ones so much more.  The sweet flavor went so well with the wine and onions. Also because sweet potatoes mash creamy without any additions (as well as have a bold taste), I didn't find I needed to add butter or cream. I don't do well with super rich foods so, yay, and it keeps the calories lower per serving. 

Mini Sweet Potato & Beef Shepherd's Pies Recipe

·  2 lb Ground Beef 93/07
·  1 cup Red Wine, Alcohol Will Be  Cooked Off
·  1 medium Onion, Sweet, shredded
·  1 cup Carrots Shredded
·  1 cup Green Peas (frozen, rinsed and drained)
·  2 tbsp Thick Classice Worcestershire Sauce
·  3 cloves Garlic Clove
·  1 1/2 tbsp Tomatoes Paste
·  2 tsp Thyme, Fresh·  1/2 cup chicken broth
·  6 medium or Sweet Potatoes/yams



1. Peel and boil potatoes until soft. Mash the sweet potatoes with a hand mixer until there are no lumps. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. 

2. Brown the ground beef over medium heat. Drain.

3. Mince/shred your onion using a grater on your food processor or just cut really small. Add to the ground beef along with garlic, thyme, shredded carrots (storebought), frozen peas rinsed and drained. Let cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Add red wine and let cook off. 

5. Add 1/2 cup - 1 cup chicken broth and let simmer until thickened. 

6. Add salt & pepper to taste and Hungarian Paprika for color. 

7. You can either spoon the entire mixture of meat into a casserole dish and then top with the mashed sweet potatoes, or you can use little ramekins. Mine hold about one cup total and I have 5 of them, so I made 5 individual pies, and then ut the rest in a casserole dish. You can either spoon the potatoes on or use a cookie press and squirt it on with a star tip like I did. I had JUST enough potatoes... shew! 

8. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. If the potatoes are not starting to get a little stiff and browned, switch to broil at the end. The sweet potatoes seem to take longer to brown than white potatoes. 

14 servings – about a cup of food – 166 calories, 4.5g fat, 2.4g fiber, 14.9g protein 



I love these little ceramic ramekins my Mom bought me. They hold almost one cup of "stuff" and have lids for easy storage. I found some similar ones on Amazon, Good Cook Ceramic Set Of 2 4 Ounce Ramekins, Red, but my Mom got mine at Marshall's. 

The five ramekins are for lunches - oops I mean 4 (I ate one) and the rest from the big casserole dish will be put into foil Mealpod packets and frozen. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pickin' Weeds Dandelion Greens


I was shopping innocently at my local Market Basket looking at all the pretty bundled greens & what did they have? Dandelion greens! I had to buy them, even though my yard is full of the little devils (theirs were all pretty and clean and probably their neighbor doesn't use Chemlawn like mine does). 

Excuse my ignorance, but I had no idea that they were edible, so a Google search was in order. I found this site, Miriquita Farm, that seems to know a whole lot about cooking them. 

Serenity in the Garden also has a great post on harvesting dandelions and what to do with them. You apparently can pick them wild, but check for bugs, lol. At least that's what my Mom said when I told her what I was making. She insisted that all dandelions have little yellow bugs on the other side of their leaves. 

Why eat dandelions? Well they are actually super nutritious! Take a look at their cooked nutrition profile! http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2857/2 Loads of Vitamins and minerals!

I chose to sautee mine with garlic and olive oil to eat along with my scrambled eggs and mushrooms for breakfast. 



Here's how they looked right from the grocer. Much prettier than the ones in my yard up above.


I chopped them small, removing any large spines but keeping the small ones. 


Then I sauteed them in a 1/2 tbs of olive oil with garlic, onions, and mushrooms just until soft. 

I thought they were okay... but much prefer the flavor of cooked spinach which has a similar but slightly better nutrition profile. So will I ever cook dandelions again? Maybe... I have to admit that my Mom's voice was right there with every bite reminding me of the little yellow bugs. I am happy to know that they are edible though... if there ever is a nuclear holocaust and all plant-life has died... I bet that the dandelion will be the first plant to come back after nuclear winnter. So while every other family will be walking along Mc Carthy's  Road hungry, we will be snacking on dandelion leaves. 







Friday, April 20, 2012

Chicken Taco Meatza



I think it's become obvious that my sister, Nicole is the chatty and artsy one in the family.  I like to cook, but this whole blogging thing and taking the pictures does not come as naturally to me.  I feel like there should be a "story" with each recipe, but honestly there isn't.   I tend to find recipes by googling ingredients that I think sound good together and then taking bits and pieces of each recipe I find and creating my own mealpod recipe.  


So... this is Chicken Taco Meatza.   What is Meatza?  It's one of my favorite Paleo recipes, basically you replace the normal crust with MEAT.  \o/  Yay!  My favorite Meatza of all time was my Margherita Meatza which was absolutely amazing.   The Greek Meatza was yummy but not as much of a home run as the first attempt.   The Chicken Taco Meatza, I think, is #2, even closer to #1 when garnished with sour cream and guacamole.


Chicken Taco Meatza

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Yield: 12


INGREDIENTS:


CRUST:
1 lb Ground Beef
1 can diced green chilis
TOPPINGS:
4 oz shredded cheese of choice
1 cups shredded chicken
½ cup salsa, drained
1 small can black olives, rinsed and drained
¼ cup onion, diced


DIRECTIONS:


Preheat oven to 450°


Measure and mix your crust seasonings together in a small bowl.


Flatten beef into a circle on a pizza pan roll pan and place into oven for 10 minutes.


Spread the crust evenly with shredded cheese.


Arrange shredded chicken on the top, then sprinkle with remaining ingredients


Bake in preheated oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 10 minutes.


Allow to cool. Slice, then freeze.


NUTRITION: 6 PODS - 361 CALORIES, 21G FAT, 982G SODIUM, 4G CARB, .5G FIBER, 40G PROTEIN

My kitty liked the Meatza too!





Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Crockpot Greek Chicken


The inspiration recipe for this mealpod had carrots instead of parsnips.  Also, my recipe does not include the black olives I threw in at the end.  What I discovered while cooking this was that it was extremely ~WHITE~ which didn't look very appetizing, even though it tasted delicious.  So I threw in the black olives and sprinkled a little paprika on top.  Viola!  Color!  LOL.  

CROCKPOT GREEN CHICKEN



Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 5 hours
Yield: 8


INGREDIENTS:
1 pound parsnips, cut into 1” pieces
1 pound mini potatoes, washed and sliced in half
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 ½ cups of chicken broth
¾ tsp salt
1 15oz can of artichoke hearts
1 large egg
2 large egg yoks
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup fresh dill

DIRECTIONS:
Spread parsnips, garlic and potatoes on the bottom of slow cooker. Arrange chicken
on top and pour broth over all. Cover and cook for about 3 hours on high.


Add artichokes to slow cooker, cook for five minutes.


Transfer chicken and veggies to serving bowl using a slotted spoon. Add ½ cup
cookie liquid to the egg mix and whisk until smooth. Add back to the slow
cooker, cover and cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes to thicken.


Add dill and pepper, then pour the sauce over chicken and veggie mixture.


Allow to cool, then portion 1 cup per mealpod for freezing


NUTRITION: 8 PODS 308 CALORIES, 14G FAT, 920G SODIUM, 23G CARB, 5G FIBER, 22G PROTEIN


NUTRITION INFORMATION ESTIMATED AT LIVESTRONG.COM:
http://www.livestrong.com/recipes/mealpod-crockpot-greek-chicken

Monday, April 16, 2012

Taco Cups with Sweet Potato Black Bean Cumin Filling





Taco Cups?

It is the first official day of Spring Break in the Caulfield house. So what to cook when the kids are home all day and wanting to be entertained, driven everywhere, and have friends over (sometimes it feels like all at once)? Taco cups of course. I say that very sarcastically because who has ever heard of taco cups? Not me.

I was drooling over two recipes on Pinterest last week: Mexican Sweet Potato Skins by Pinch of Yum and Mini Mexican Pizzas by Dashing Dish. This is sort of a hybrid of the two you could say or just inspired by both. I made the cups from corn masa instead of store bought tortillas and then made several fillings including a sweet potato and back bean one. Now all week we can fill them with whichever topping we want. If we need a protein boost: meat, cheese, and salsa.  If we need more veggies for the day: Mexican Salad. For something well balanced: Sweet Potato Black Bean filling. 

First how to make my taco cups. The Dashing Dish used storebought flour tortillas in a muffin pan, which I know would turn out great, but so is using Masa and I always have some on hand. Whichever way you to choose to do it is great. 



Taco Cups 


1. First I mixed the dough by following the directions for making tortillas on the Masa bag (see below). Make sure it is Masa for making tortillas. Combine corn flour, water and salt. 


2. Roll out a 1 1/2 inch ball of dough with either a tortilla press or a rolling pin. 

3. Oil a muffin pan with a brush or use an oil spray. 


4. Using a round cookie cutter the size of the bottom of the muffin pan bottoms and place in the cups. You can get 3 rounds out of one ball of dough. 

5. Roll out another ball of dough. Cut the pressed circle in half and line the sides of the muffin cup pressing to connect it to the round. 


6. Brush the inside with olive oil. 


7. Bake at 420 until browned. If you take them out and the bottoms are too soft place them upside down on a cookie sheet and bake for a little longer until the bottoms are crisp. 


  • Black Bean Cumin Taco Cup Filling
This stuff is so yummy. I used canned Cumin spiced black beans which I really love. I drain and rinse them really well but the beans still hold so much of the cumin flavor. The liquid the beans sit in DOES contain some gluten so if you are highly gluten sensitive or have celiac's disease, then use regular black beans and add some cumin into the recipe. I don't usually use a processed roduct like this but they are so good and I try and rinse away the bad stuff (I hope).

 

  • 15 oz Canned CUMIN Black Beans rinsed well and dried
  • 3 Small Sweet Potato
  • 15 oz Canned, Whole Kernel Corn, No Salt Added rinsed and dried
  • 3/4 cup Sweet Red Peppers chopped
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Onion chopped
  • 1 tsp Adobo All Purpose Seasoning
  • 2 cloves Garlic Clove
  • 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced

Directions

1. Rinse and dry beans and corn. Don't combine.

2. In a medium high skillet add your corn (with OUT oil) and let it roast a little. Sprinkle with 1/2 the Adobo seasing while roasting. Pour in a large bowl. Add rinsed and dried beans to the bowl.

3. Chop your onions and peppers small and sautee on medium high with olive oil and minced garlic until starting to soften but still has a crunch. Season with rest of Adobo seasoning while cooking. Add to the large bowl.

4. Stir and add more seasoning if you wish., If not using cumin beans, add a tsp of ground cumin or cumin seeds.





Friday, April 13, 2012

Lunch Roundup #9


Lunch #9 actually has too much food for my kiddo, so I knew some would end up coming back. This week there is cold WW spaghetti, Garden Veggie Chicken Sausage, carrots, Pea pods, mixed fruit, and faux Nutrigrain bars (Oatmeal Squares).


The reason why I started making these bento box lunches is because of my youngest. I would buy one box of "treats" from the store for her lunches which was usually boxed Little Debbies. They started to become a huge issue however. She would eat them one right after the other early in the week at home so there would be none left for her lunches. I would inevitably go buy more so she would have her one sweet thing at school like her friends. The more she ate the crankier and more bossy she would become. It became a vicious cycle. 

Since I have been making the lunches and snacks homemade, she has been much more pleasant to be around although there was a week of hell to contend with when we started. Now, she isn't eating one sugary treat after another and I only have to go midweek grocery shopping for more fruit. The recipe below is supposed an alternative to Strawberry Nutrigrain bars. My oldest preferred them with jam and my youngest without. You can actually add anything into them you want like mini chocolate chips or dried fruit. 





  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Splenda
  • 2 large Egg White
  • 2 tbsp , 1% (Average)
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (100% Stone Ground)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cinammon, Ground
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 cups Oats - Rolled
  • 1 cup Lowfat Plain Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Canola Oil




  • 1. Heat oven to 350

    2. In a large bowl combine: sugars, yogurt, egg whites, oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix well. 

    3. in medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the large bowl and mix well.

    4. Add in oats and mix well. 

    5. Spread into a 9 x 13" pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are a little brown. 

    6. Remove from oven and cool completely. Cut into 24 square bars.

    6. If you would like to add jam: slice each bar into 2 layers. Spread jam int he middle. 




    Servings 2 suares: 218 calories, 4g fat, 4g fiber