Yum Peaceful Cooking: June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Homemade Mayonnaise - It's Easier Than You Think

Really...its simple. It's sooo easy. And I think it's even versatile. But for some reason, it has totally intimidated me. Maybe it was the raw egg factor. Maybe it was fear of the unknown. Probably more like a little of both. But I've heard some of my peeps in Bakespace talking about making it, and well...I kinda got the bug. My nerve toughened up and well...like the commercial says...Just Do It! so I just did it.


Before I say anything more, I need to tell you who started this whole thing....the responsible, guilty party who spread the bug. Not only did he spread the bug, but he squished my fears. With all his food tech talk about acid and bacteria killing stuff....and all sorts of other things that his brain somehow retains and explains like some sort of mad food scientist. The one and only Culinary Alchemist!!! If you wanna know all the eewy goooey details of mayo making (and it really is awesome information. You'll totally benefit from it...and I highly recommend it) then click on his post titled My Big Fat Greek Mayonnaise.

Btw....have I ever mentioned that I really like mayonnaise? I think there are two types of condiment people. Mayonnaise and Mustard. It's weird cuz in my family you either like one or the other. I didn't influence any of my kids, one way or the other...it just happened. I'm a mayonnaise person and my husband is a mustard person. He doesn't like mayonnaise. I don't like mustard. We have 2 daughters....one likes mayo, the other likes mustard. My dad likes mayo, my mom likes mustard. I wonder if its like that in other families.

Ok, lets get down to business. Here's what you need:


1 large egg (why do I have 3 in the pic?)
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (please use fresh!!!)
1/4 teaspoon mustard (hahaha there's mustard in my mayonnaise!!)
pinch of salt
1 cup of olive oil (or your oil of choice)

(nope...don't really need the margarita, but it don't hurt to have one handy!)

I think I used canola oil this time cuz I didn't have any light olive oil and I thought EVOO would be too heavy.

Now, there are some things you can do and can't do in regards to the lemon juice, such as using vinegar instead. This is where Culinary Alchemist comes in handy. If you want to know the details....read his stuff!

I used a blender to make my mayo. I learned from my other BakeSpace bud DDpie that if you use a blender, you can take the bottom out and just push all the mayo into the bowl without having to fight with everything trying to salvage it all from the blades and stuff.

Sooo...with that said...(sorry I don't have any pics for the steps but they turned out like crap and if you wanna see details...once again, check out Culinary Alchemists blog!)

Crack your egg, add your lemon juice, mustard and salt and turn on that blender for a second to mix it all up. Add 1/4 cup of the oil.

Now turn on the blender and leave it on. Slowly drizzle in the remaining oil so that it emulsifies. Keep blending until it becomes white and thick. ooooh...its looking like mayo now!!!


But wait....no no ...its not ready!! Cover it and let it sit for an hour.

Then it's ready to go. Ready to spread....ready to do its condiment duty.

Btw...I will be doing this again. Cant beat a quick and easy spread!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Turkey Challenge and Salubrious Sunday's Floppy Fourth

Oh...I had great plans. I had all the ingredients. I had all the time. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I can't even blame the recipes. Well, I can blame one of them.


I had a turkey breast in the freezer. The "challenge" this month at BakeSpace.com was to make something with turkey. I've roasted several whole turkeys and I've made lots of stuff using ground turkey and turkey sausage. What I really wanted to do was cook a turkey tenderloin. But noooOOOOooooo.....my grocery store didn't have one. So I bought a breast on the bone instead. And I marinated it using my fancy schmancy good-for-you-healthy Balsamic Marinade. I let it sit over night in the fridge. I then stuck it in a roasting pan.....


covered it with tin foil and stuck it in a 325' F oven for a couple of hours or until the little line on the meat thermometer was in the "poultry" range. (aaahhahaha...I made a funny. get it? poultry...range? eeeh...never mind)

Oh ya...during the last 1/2 hour or so, I did pull back the foil so the skin could brown....


The flavor of the skin wasn't what I was looking for.....you just can't beat that Thanksgiving Day turkey skin! Turkey skin isn't like chicken skin. Cooked chicken skin tastes great with various flavors. Turkey skin doesn't, apparently. I really tried getting that through my head. But my head must be a lot thicker than I thought. I tried not to eat the skin after that first taste....but I kept going for it...(reflex I guess) and then I'd be sorry the minute it was in my mouth. Did I think it was going to get better? It took a couple of times before I finally stopped.

Anyways....after it rested a bit, I "carved" it....


Eh...not bad. Not great....but not bad.

Now for the sides. I used 2 recipes from my Cooking Light recipe book.


Thats the best I can say. Lets go over the evidence and I'll let you decide.

We'll start with the:

Green Beans with Roasted Onion Vinaigrette


2 lbs green beans, trimmed
2 red onions, peeled
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme (I hate thyme...I used rosemary)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard

uh umm.....brain fart time. I read the word "ground" and therefore used powdered mustard (thinking once ground, it becomes powdered). That was not a good move. It was actually a rather BLONDE move!!! Why didn't the ingredients just SAY prepared mustard? sigh...I should've used something like Dijon. Actually, I shouldn't have used any mustard at all. I don't know what my problem is. When I'm trying a new recipe, even if I KNOW that I don't like an ingredient, why do I use it? I don't like mustard! Duh....I should've used horseradish.

Preheat the oven to 400'

Cook green beans in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water, drain again. Place beans in a large bowl. (I like my veggies a little softer so I didn't make them take the plunge.)

Cut the onions in half, vertically. (you're guess is as good as mine....vertically is relative to which way your onion is lying. right?). Drizzle the cut side of each onion half with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place one thyme sprig (or rosemary in my case) on 1 onion half and top with the other half.


Wrap each regrouped onion in foil. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Cool to room temperature. Toss the thyme away and chop the onion.


Combine remaining tablespoon of olive oil, vinegar and mustard.....(do not use ground mustard as shown)


Add onions and green beans. Toss to combine. Serve chilled


It looks pretty and all.....

I wonder how it would've tasted if I had done it right? Or if I had used horseradish instead? Btw....the onion was fabulous!

Serves 8
Calories: 83 (29% from fat); Fat 2.7g (sat. 0.4g, mono 1.7g, poly 0.4g); Protien 2.9g; Carb 14g; Fiber 4.8g; Chol 0mg; Iron 1.6mg; Sodium 109 mg; Calc 65mg

And now for my next flop. There are a few things funky about this recipe, as you'll see along the way. But first and foremost was the use of processed cheese. You know...Velveeta style? Hmm. Cooking Light thinks thats a good thing? And as I go over the recipe for the blog, I'm just now noticing for the first time the word "light" before the words "processed cheese". I smell an oxymoron. And no...I didn't use light processed cheese. I used the regular processed cheese in all its crappy glory. I should've listened to my nagging instincts and used good ole cheddar. I think it would've tasted better. Even if I had used light cheddar, it would've been beddar....(oh ya...I'm full of it tonight). But hey!! I bought no fat milk for the recipe!! Woo hoo!! I'm so proud of me.

Broccoli, Cheese, and Rice Casserole


1 cup uncooked instant rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup fat free milk (beams proudly as I display my purchase)
4 oz light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 (10 oz) packages of frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed 30% reduced sodium, 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup

I used fresh broccoli, slightly steamed. And I added a few sliced mushrooms cuz I like em. And next time I will add more liquid. Or maybe I'll just use cooked rice. I'll tell you why in a minute....

Preheat oven to 350' F

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and then scoop into a 2 quart casserole dish.


Bake for about 45 minutes.


I don't know if you can tell by this picture but some of the rice is still hard. Arrrgh!!! See? Do you think precooked rice would've been a good idea? So I added a couple of spoonfuls of water, mixed it up....sprinkled some real cheese on top and covered it with foil. I let that sit on the counter for a few minutes. Then everything was fine.....


I think the Velveeta was a stupid ingredient. Health wise and flavor wise. Cheddar cheese would've been much better, not as strongly flavored and much better for you. Anyways...as published in the cookbook, this recipes nutritional facts are as follows:

Yields 8 servings
Calories 137 (29% from fat); fat 4.4g (sat 1.7g, mono 1.4g, poly 0.9g); Protien 6.6g; Carb 19.2g; Fiber 2.2g; Chol 8mg; Iron 1.1mg; Sodium 410mg; Calc 160mg

my thoughts: I wonder why cooking light seems to use instant rice so often. And what do they have against fresh veggies? It seems that several recipes call for frozen veggies. There also seems to be a lot of partially processed ingredients that are called for. I'm quickly losing my faith in "Cooking Light". It may be light but its not as good for you as I thought.

I sure hope next Sunday's Salubrious dinner is much better.

I just have one last thing to say....

Thank God for Double Stuff Oreos


And YES...I used WHOLE MILK to dip that baby in

(besides....even an Oreo doesn't know what to do with processed milk. have you ever noticed that skim and low fat milk don't get absorbed by oreo cookies? try and see, I dare ya)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eggs $1.70 a dz, Bell Pepper $2.99 lb.....

.....Breakfast cooked by your daughter....priceless!!

This morning before I left for work, before most teens even think about getting up on a summer day, and even before the cat was awake

Ok, I'll give you that one....the cat's always asleep. I'm sure the other one was too but I couldn't find his fat ass.

Anyways...early this morning Natalie asked me if I wanted an egg for breakfast. She's discovered how good eggs are when you add tons of goodies. Most people do this with omelettes, but not Natalie. She makes "Fancy Scrambled Eggs".

Last week she jokingly sent a picture of her breakfast to my phone (thinking she was sooo funny cuz I'm always taking pictures of food). When I offered to blog about her breakfast I think she kinda liked the idea. Sooo....here it is.

She started off sauteing mushrooms, onions and I think garlic but I didn't catch everything she chopped up...oh ya...and some orange bell pepper....

(hmmm....what are those green things in there? Must be a couple of green onions that snuck into the wrong baggy)

Then she added in some grape tomatoes, sliced in half....


Added a couple of eggs...


Scrambled and stirred until softly cooked, then topped with some chopped cilantro and cheese....


Meanwhile toast up something good. I love Thomas English Muffins. My kids have discovered these new Hearty Grains, Whole Wheat, Extra Fiber honey sweetened, good for you Thomas Muffins that are pretty good. Maybe a little sweet...but not bad.


So I saw a couple in the toaster and I asked Nat if one was for me.

Her reply...Noooo! I didn't know you'd want one!

Ooook, guess I'll make my own. I can do that much. After all she IS making me Fancy Scrambled Eggs.....

And serving them up in a Fancy Bowl...


Hmm...is this payback for something done many moons ago? I mean she KNEW I was taking pictures! The little shit.

(Love you baby doll....breakfast was great!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chocolate Banana Nut Bread, A Woman's Best Friend

Last week when I came across Girlichef's post about her Chocolate Banana Bread I KNEW that I needed to make this....and fast!!! (when you check out her post, you'll soon discover that this bread has been around!). I've tried to integrate chocolate into my banana bread several times and have been sorely disappointed. A simple handful of chocolate chips just doesn't cut it. But I never even thought about using cocoa powder! (I'm not much of a baking brainiac) ooooooh.....yaaaaaaaa....THATS the ticket baby! Cocoa Powder is now my personal hero!


As you can see...I like to make mine mini muffin style. I have 2 mini muffin pans and this recipe will make about 48 muffins! Now, there are several good reasons for making your Chocolate Banana Bread (or any kind of banana bread you happen to prefer) mini muffin style.....

1. They cook faster and you get to eat them while the second batch is cooking.
2. You can share some with your friends and neighbors without giving it all away (or looking cheesy by giving 1/2 a loaf away).
3. They're bite sized so you feel NOOOOO guilt when you pop one (or 2 or 5) in your mouth.

You can probably use your favorite banana nut bread recipe by replacing 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. But if by chance you don't have a personal favorite, I'll share mine with you (cuz I'm like that. When I feel like it. But don't ask for the last reeses peanut butter cup cuz I get real 3 yr old selfish like).....


2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter - softened
1/3 cup milk
1 egg - slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup mashed bananas (ripened to the point of the skins being brown)
1 cup chopped pecans (or you can use walnuts or chocolate chips...ooor both)

Preheat your oven to 350' F. Grease the bottom of your mini muffin tins (or loaf pan(s) 2 - 8x4 or 1 - 9x5).

Mix the butter, sugars and egg, until smooth....


Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, milk, and vanilla until combined....


Last but most important, add the bananas and nuts.....


Stir until just combined. Fill your mini muffin tins to just below the rim....


Bake as follows:

Mini Muffins - about 20 minutes
Loaf Pans - about 65 - 70 minutes

I messed up and cooked my muffins a few minutes too long so they were a bit dry. The flavor was fabulous! I will no doubt be saving (hiding) my bananas so I can make this again very soon! (sorry kids...no bananas this week....hee hee. shhhh don't tell them they're hiding in the liquor cabinet)

Oh...and while I was busy snapping shots, checking the outcome of said photos and trying various angles (with the flash, without the flash....yadda yadda yadda)...I turned around and....


Half of one of my "model muffins" had disappeared!!! WTH?! Look to the right...look to the left... AH HA!!!

You are sooooo busted Natalie!!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

White Lasagna

I've been wanting and looking for a White Lasagna recipe for quit some time, but couldn't find anything that matched what I had in mind. You know how there's chili and while chile? One is with beef and red sauce and the other is with chicken and well, a greenish white sauce but still....it's a big enough and nice enough difference, if you follow what I'm saying. I just wanted a lasagna with a white, non tomato sauce, that wasn't too rich.

We had a potluck at work on Monday and I had nooooo idea what I was going to make. I did a search on the internet for potluck casseroles and stumbled across what was called Artichoke Spinach Lasagna on the Taste of Home website. After reading the ingredients I KNEW that it satisfied 2 cravings....1. was my desire for a truly White Lasagna that did not include tomato sauce and 2. my need for a potluck recipe.


I did alter the recipe.... added some stuff, left out some stuff. The results were exactly what I imagined they should be in a White Lasagna. (don't you just LOVE when that happens?)

I didn't start cooking this until about 10:00 p.m. cuz I was busy making and eating dinner for Father's Day (our make shift Salubrious Sunday Dinner for the week). So I put the lasagna together that night and then popped it in the oven early the next morning before I took it to work.


  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 14 oz chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (I probably used more...have you ever tried measuring fresh ground pepper? LOL)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered (I recommend splurging here and getting the priceyer can. I find the cheaper cans contain tougher hearts..if that makes sense)
  • 10 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cooked chicken breast halves, chopped or shredded
  • 1 package of Knorr Garlic and Herb Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 box no-cook lasagna noodles
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or more if you're a cheese hound like I am)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • Desired amount of parmesan cheese, shredded
In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Stir in the chicken broth, rosemary, nutmeg and pepper....


Add the ricotta cheese...stirring a bit to get rid of the lumps.....


Bring to a boil. Add the spinach and stir for a minute until it reduces down a bit...


Add the artichoke hearts, mushrooms and chicken.....


Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Knorr Garlic & Herb Sauce as directed on the package. Whisking together 1 1/2 cups of milk with the seasoning...


Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to simmer stirring occasionally until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the Knorr sauce to the veggie & chicken sauce. Hmm...I may have added this before I added the veggies but it doesn't really matter.

Now it's time for the assembly. Spray the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Spread some of the sauce in the bottom.....


Cover it with the no-bake lasagna noodles and cover those with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese...


Repeat the layers 2 more times....then top with the Italian seasoning and garlic and desired amount of parmesan cheese.....


Ya...guess what I did again? What the hell is my problem? I forgot to include the parmesan cheese in the picture of ingredients!! (poor parmesan cheese is going to start getting a complex)

Ok...Now cover and bake at 350' F for 40 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 10 minutes before cutting.

I really liked this dish and it wasn't too rich like a lot of the other recipes seemed they would be with alfredo sauce. My daughters are bummed that they didn't get any. So I'll be making this again soon.

I thought....if you want the sauce to be thicker (especially if you're going to be cooking it the same night you're making it and not giving it a chance to get all absorbed) you might consider reducing the milk thats added to the Knorr packet to about 1 cup.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers Day Dinner - Salubrious Sunday the 3rd


When I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner for his Father's Day dinner he said "That marinated chicken from Vallarta". Vallarta is a chain of stores that specializes in mexican food. They have what they call Marinated Chicken Steaks thats wonderful!


No matter how we cook them...grilled, sauteed....(well, those are the only ways I've made them so far) the chicken comes out so tender and flavorful.

Of course I had to plan a meal around the meat. I don't know how "salubrious" it is but other than cheese and the tortilla (which are optional), there wasn't anything fattening about it. So I guess this would fall under my theme of Salubrious Sunday meals. I just don't have a calorie count or any of those other details. Besides, it was Father's Day and we did what the dad wanted! :)

Here's the menu:

Grilled Chicken Steaks
Spanish Rice
Black Beans
Sauteed Veggies

First I started with the rice. mmmm....I loves me some goooood spanish rice. I found a recipe on BakeSpace.com, posted by Katherina, that is probably the best homemade spanish rice I've come across...here's a link to her Mom's Spanish Rice. I didn't change a thing...it's good as is:


2 cups white rice
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
10 oz chicken broth
5 oz water
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 an onion left whole

Saute the rice and garlic in oil in a good sized pan with high sides. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Pour in the liquid (be careful of all the steam):


Now add the tomato sauce:


Stir just to combine, but not too much. Put the onion "face down" in the middle of the rice so that it looks like a dome:


Cover the pot. Let it boil, but keep an eye on it. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, lower the temperature and let simmer until all the liquid is gone. Leave the lid on until you're ready to serve.


Discard the onion, fluff with a fork and enjoy.

While all that was going on I chopped up some veggies. I had onions (both white and red), bell pepper and zucchini:


Saute until crisp tender and a little browned.....mmmmm.....love that aroma!

I made some guacamole but it wasn't all that great so I'm not going to share the recipe with you. My husband came home and said a guy at work and made some just by adding salsa verde and that it was really good. To me, it was tasteless. But it looked pretty LOL


Then I marinated some shrimp in butter and garlic on screwers to also be grilled (have no idea how that turned out since I'm allergic and well....)


Now check out these "Chicken Steaks"


and they look even better on the grill.....


Say hello to Scotty.....


He's my African Grey that lives outside and keeps us company while we grill. He's such an attention hound!

Oh ya...and we heated up some black beans and my favorite tortillas...


I like to heat up the tortillas on my stove. I just love that little bit of charred flavor. We could've done it on the grill but I didn't want to contaminate them with shrimpy juice, ya know?

mmmm...it's all coming together now! One of the fun parts of this meal is that you can basically make what you want, how you want it.... burrito style:


Taco style:


Free form:


aaaaand carbless:


We all enjoyed our Father's Day Salubrious Sunday Dinner. Happy Father's Day Hon!!! We love you!

hmmm...now that I think about it, it's very possible that tonights dinner is more salubrious than last nights....spaghetti sauce with turkey italian sausage over whole wheat, whole grain pasta. Just step away from the garlic bread (cuz it's aaaaaaall mine...muuuaaaah haaa haaa)