Friday, April 29, 2011

how to cook spaghetti squash (the easy way)

Spaghetti squash is one awesome vegetable.  Have you ever had it?  We eat it just like spaghetti, with meat sauce on top!  It's a great way to incorporate a vegetable into what otherwise would be a carb-filled meal. 

But how do you cook it?

Most people I know do the traditional method of cutting the squash in half and baking it.  It's an excellent method, but a bit more time consuming than I traditionally prefer.  Let me show you the cheater's method...

First, pierce the squash with a fork several times.

Put it in the microwave for 20 minutes.  After every 5 minutes, give it a quarter turn (so it's not resting on the same side during the entire cooking time).  You'll know it's done when it's squishy to the touch.

Remove it from the microwave and cut it in half.  Let it cool for a few minutes.

Take a spoon and gently scrape out the seeds in the middle.

Then, scrape out the "noodles"!

Here are a few of our favorite dishes to incorporate spaghetti squash with:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

slow cooker fajitas

Oh. my. goodness.  These fajitas are so good!  And, they are made in the slow cooker.  Don't you just love foods that are both easy to make and delicious to eat?

Start with three bell peppers, and pick out different colors (makes it pretty)!  I made things easy this time around and cooked the peppers in the slow cooker with the meat.  Another option would be to leave them out and then saute them right before serving (we actually prefer this option - we like them a bit crisp-tender).

The peppers and some sliced onion go on the bottom of the slow cooker (or just sliced onion if you are cooking the peppers separately)...

followed by strips of sirloin steak (or chicken breast!) and a can of Rotel...

...and then all of the seasonings!

Cover and cook the whole bit on low for 8-9 hours, or until the meat is tender.  It will smell so good.

Serve in tortillas with a dollop of sour cream.  You'll love them!

Slow Cooker Fajitas
3 bell peppers, each a different color
1 onion, sliced
2 lbs. boneless beef sirloin steaks OR 2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into strips
1 can Rotel
few shakes of liquid smoke (optional)
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. lime juice
1 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Place peppers and onion in a slow cooker.  Top with the beef and the remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours.  Serves 8.

Note: Another excellent option is to leave the peppers out and saute them separately right before serving.

Nutrition (beef): 264 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 82mg cholesterol, 363mg sodium, 6g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g sugars, 34g protein, 5% vit. A, 85% vit. C, 4% calcium, 13% iron.

Nutrition (chicken): 150 calories, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 65mg cholesterol, 367mg sodium, 6g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g sugars, 27g protein, 5% vit. A, 87% vit. C, 2% calcium, 6% iron.

Monday, April 18, 2011

mini liqueur cheesecakes

These are definitely "adult" cheesecakes. :-)  Delicately laced with liqueur, these have a fabulous yet subtle flavor that is especially enhanced when drizzled with dark chocolate sauce.  They are the perfect individual desserts for your next gathering!

I can't take credit for the idea...I found a recipe for Baby Grand Marnier Cheesecakes over at Tasty Kitchen and just had to try them.  I modified the recipe a bit by halving it and using currant liqueur instead of grand marnier.  Here are my reflections on the process.

The recipe seems complicated, but it's not.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.  You start out by preheating the oven with a plain old empty cake pan on the bottom rack.

While the oven is preheating, you whip up the cheesecake filling.  I dumped all ingredients in my blender and just let 'er rip.  I was especially excited about the prospect of using my currant liqueur.  I've been thinking about what other flavors would taste good...maybe cherry cordial?  thick wine like Madeira?  Yum!

You also need to mix up the crust.  This is a great job for a child...or a husband. :-)

Press the crumb crust into the bottom of your muffin pan.  Silicone pans really work well here because the finished product just pops right out.

Then you fill up the muffin tins with your filling.  I admit that I actually filled too many!  I thought perhaps the filling would expand, but it didn't.  I'm wishing I had made fewer cheesecakes with more filling...just an afterthought.

When they are ready to go in the oven, pour a kettle of boiling water into that preheated pan.  Then, put the cheesecakes on the middle rack in the oven.  They only need to bake for about 15-20 minutes, and then they'll need to set in the refrigerator for about 6 hours.

I was a bit skeptical of the finished product, but after one taste I was hooked!  These are such a cute dessert, and they keep my portion size small (a major plus).  The addition of chocolate sauce and berries just put them over the top.  And did I mention that you can just freeze leftovers and bust them out when you have a special occasion? 

You should go check out the original recipe.  You can get a printable here on Tasty Kitchen, but go check out the original blog post as well.  This blogger makes cheesecakes professionally and provides lots of tricks of the trade.  She's also just got a beautiful blog!  Go there...get the recipe...make

Easter Cookies and Goodies

Link up your Easter dessert recipes here!  And don't forget to check out my co-hosts, Kristen at From My Tiny Kitchen and Tina at Mom's Crazy Cooking!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

spinach mushroom enchiladas

I'm generally a meat-and-potatoes girl, but if anything were to convert me to vegetarianism, these enchiladas could do it.  Spinach and mushrooms are an absolutely perfect combo, and the sour cream sauce is to die for.  I haven't quite figured out how to make these low-fat yet...using skim milk doesn't work nearly as well as cream...but this is a delicious meal that uses only real ingredients (and I call that healthy!).

Begin by dicing two jalapenos...remember to wash your hands afterward!

 Saute the jalapenos with two cups of sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter.  Cook and stir until mushrooms are tender.

Add a teaspoon of cumin and 10 ounces of fresh spinach, stirring until the spinach is wilted.

For the sauce, combine 1 cup of cream (recommended) and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small saucepan and mix well.  You could try milk here, but the sauce won't be as thick.

Add 16 ounces of sour cream, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, a dash of red pepper, and cilantro to taste. Cook and stir on medium high heat until mixture comes to a boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring continually.  Remove from the heat and add 2 ounces (2 slices) of Monterrey Jack cheese.  Stir until melted.

 Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and put 1/2 cup of the milk mixture in the bottom.

Prepare 12 corn tortillas (microwave for 1 minute inside a paper towel).  Fill tortillas with about 1/3 cup of spinach/mushroom mixture and place seam side down in dish. 

Pour the rest of the sour cream sauce over the top of the enchiladas...yum!

Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and garnish with cilantro. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

This recipe makes about 12 enchiladas (6 servings).  They go wonderfully with refried beans and Spanish rice.  Sometimes I like to make extra sour cream sauce to pour over the top just before serving.

Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas
2 jalapenos, diced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 T. butter
2 t. cumin, divided
10 oz. fresh spinach
1 cup cream (recommended) or milk
1 T. cornstarch
16 oz. sour cream
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. salt
dash red pepper
cilantro to taste
2 oz (or 2 slices) Monterrey Jack cheese
12 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Mozzarella

Saute mushroom slices and jalapenos in butter until tender.  Add 1 teaspoon cumin and spinach; stir until wilted.

In a small saucepan, mix cream and cornstarch.  Add sour cream, 1 teaspoon cumin, chili powder, salt, red pepper, and cilantro.  Cook and stir on medium high heat until mixture comes to a boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring continually.  Remove from the heat and add Monterrey Jack cheese; stir until melted.

Prepare corn tortillas by microwaving for 1 minute inside a paper towel.  Spray a baking dish and put 1/2 cup of the milk mixture in the bottom.  Fill tortillas with spinach/mushroom mixture and place seam side down in dish.  Cover enchiladas with the rest of the sauce.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and garnish with cilantro.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serves 6.

Nutrition (1 enchilada, made with reduced-fat sour cream): 212 calories, 13g fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 38mg cholesterol, 332mg sodium, 17g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g sugar, 8g protein, 52% vit. A, 14% vit. C, 21% calcium, 7% iron.

Monday, April 11, 2011

this week's craving: eggs!

Eggs are incredible, right?  There's so many ways to fix them!  You can go scrambled, sunny-side up, hard-boiled, fried, Cadbury...  I love eggs. :-)

This week's craving post features egg recipes, and I had planned on showcasing an amazing egg recipe.  I envisioned miniature egg bakes with crushed tortilla chips, Rotel, and Monterrey Jack cheese.  It was going to be awesome...and then I made it.  Ick.  It tasted like a cumin-flavored sponge.  Alas, another kitchen experiment gone sour!

I'm not giving up on my Mexican egg bake, but until then, let me showcase some of my major egg successes...these are fabulous!


Link up your egg recipes here!  And don't forget to check out my co-hosts, Kristen at From My Tiny Kitchen and Tina at Mom's Crazy Cooking!

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