Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mediterranean-Inspired Chicken Wraps and Vegetable Couscous


Couscous, where have you been all of my life?  Sadly, this lovely gem was not a part of my household until I began making food for my daughter.  I knew about couscous, but never really came across it in a ton of recipes.  While reading a baby food cookbook, I noticed couscous as a recommended food for babies.  I love introducing new foods to my daughter - so I bought a box for her.  While feeding her, I found myself eating most of this delightful dish.  I love it because it's so simple, healthy, and versatile.  Enjoy this easy and delicious dish for a quick weeknight meal, or a yummy lunch treat!  Wishing you best dishes and yummy dreams!

xoxo,



Chicken and Hummus Wraps

Flatbread wraps (I buy light sundried tomato)
1 package of chicken tenderloins, or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
Hummus (We love Sabra original flavored hummus)
Greek vinaigrette dressing (or any other salad dressing - we like to use a light Italian
Mixed greens and tomato

Marinate chicken in the salad dressing for an hour.  Cook the chicken in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, or on the grill in a grill basket.  Spread the hummus on a wrap, place the chicken and lettuce on the hummus and wrap it up!  *Optional:  You may want to add some feta cheese


Vegetable Couscous

1 zucchini
1 red pepper
1/2 onion
5 Cremini mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1 box of wheat couscous
olive oil
salt


Slice all veggies and saute them in a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Prepare the couscous on the stove according to box directions.  Add in sauteed vegetables, a tsp. of salt, and any other seasonings you might like!  You can put this couscous inside of the wrap, or eat it alone.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Creating a "Mini-Foodie": Homemade Baby Food

My adorable little "foodie"
My daughter's six favorite foods:  yogurt, avocado, zucchini, cheese, mango, and couscous - and I'm happy about this list!  I've been feeding my daughter some of these foods since she started eating table food.  She is willing to try just about anything and she enjoys everything too.  I made over fifty percent of my daughter's baby food and am so glad that I did.  Books and websites make usually the process of making baby food seem so time consuming and difficult, but the truth is that if you are eating healthy, fresh foods, then it is so simple!  (Trust me - I was working full time!)  If we were having zucchini, then I would steam a bunch of extra zucchini, pop it into the baby food processor, and put it into little containers to freeze for later.  I also started mixing in seasonings and spices pretty early to get her used to new variations and flavors that we often cooked with at home.  
Making baby food gave my daughter an opportunity to eat foods that she wouldn't have tried if she only ate jarred food, and it also allowed me to control the quality (and yumminess!) of ingredients in her meals.  When looking at jars of baby food "meat" I was so disgusted.  I bought one jar of chicken and opened it - it looked horrible, smelled horrible, and my daughter would have NOTHING to do with it.  Can you blame her?  Knowing how important iron is, I knew she needed some type of meat.  I began baking extra chicken in foil with olive oil and then processing it with sweet potatoes, or broccoli - she loved it.  Chicken is still among her favorites today!  I STRONGLY recommend making at least some of your child's baby food.  Here are some extremely helpful tools that will help to make this process super-easy:

steamer basket that fits in multiple-sized pots (this can be used to steam any vegetables very quickly    while saving the nutrients - boiling depletes the nutrients, so steaming is best!)
- BPA-free electric food mill - I have a fabulous one from Kid Co. (no need for expensive processors, a simple $25-35 processor will do the trick)
BPA-free containers to store food to freeze for later (I recommend One Step Ahead containers - stackable with a screw-top lid - amazing!)
baby food books (not only will you get great ideas and guidelines for age-appropriate foods, but if you have extra time on your hands there are many recipes for different ages and stages)

Books I recommend:  
"Top 100 Baby Purees" by Annabel Karmel
"Cooking for Baby" by Lisa Barnes

Don't just stick with the usual green beans, carrots, and mashed peas in jars - be creative and introduce your little one to the wonderful world of food!  The more varied experiences, the better!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pasta Sauce Success!

The thought of making my own pasta sauce scared me.  I know, I know ... it's such a simple thing to make.  But I have a fear, a large fear of ... tomatoes.  Crazy, I know.  It's the fresh ones that make me squirm.  I wish I liked them, I really do.  But I do adore a good sauce.  We use Emeril's marinara sauce, but have found it a bit too sweet to use for a baked italian dish like lasagna or ziti.  I finally decided that I needed to suck it up, put my big girl apron on, and try to make a simple pasta sauce that we would love.  I browsed a couple of recipes and found one that sounded pretty good.  I have to admit, I saw the word "wine" in the ingredients list and I was sold.  I'd like to share my version of the recipe with you - I made changes based on our likes and dislikes.  It was a yummy success!  
Best dishes and yummy dreams!

xo,


Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce



  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes - I use San Marzano and chop them into bite-sized pieces, discard the extra liquid
  • 1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce 
  • 1/2 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine (one that you would like to drink)
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or more
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper 
  • 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef (optional)
  • Also optional:  mushrooms, chopped zucchini, etc.

  • 1.  In a pan, saute onion and carrots in olive oil, add garlic right before onions are ready (optional twist - saute mushrooms too!).  
  • 2.  When sauteing is complete, place vegetables into a slow cooker.  
  • 3.  In the same skillet, brown ground beef, then remove and rinse.  
  • 4. Add the beef and all of the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir.  
  • 5.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours...the longer the better!  
  • Turn to warm and allow sauce to slightly cool and thicken before serving.

  • Bon Appetito, loves! xo   

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crab Cakes Anyone? The BEST Crab Cake Recipe

WARNING, WARNING:  I know that I usually post relatively figure-friendly recipes, but this is not one of them.  It is by no means "fried snickers status," but its not diet food either.  I believe that in order to make the perfect crab cake, you must be willing to consume extra calories... tough, I know ;)
My husband is a self-proclaimed crab cake "connoisseur".  He spent his childhood vacationing on the Rappahannock River in Virginia where the family would venture into the muddy creek (nets in hand) to scoop up a crab, place it in a bucket, and take it home to a steaming pot.  He introduced me to this family tradition seven years ago.  If you know me, then you know that I am by no means an "outdoors" girl.  In any case, I put the net in my hand, those ugly water shoes on my feet (hey - I'm not stepping anywhere I can't see without protection), and gave it my best shot.  I loved it.  There is nothing like catching your own food to really make you appreciate how it should be prepared.  After having too many crab cakes with too much "fluff," we both agree that crab cakes are only acceptable if #1 - you can SEE that crab is the main ingredient and #2 - you can TASTE that fresh crab is the "star of the show."
This recipe has evolved over the past five years.  It began as a basic Food Network recipe; as we ate different crab cakes at restaurants, and looked at different recipes, we decided to add things and delete many things.  We've had successes and failures when testing different ingredients and amounts/kinds of spices, but have finally created our own ultimate crab cake recipe.  It's not fancy, or overly "different",  it's just really, really good.  Please try this and let me know what you think - you won't be sorry!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!




Little Mommy's Crab Cakes

1 large red bell pepper, or 2 small
3 green onions
1 shallot

1 egg
1 pound of jumbo lump crab meat (it does make a difference, pay the extra amount)

1 c. regular bread crumbs
1/2 c. light mayo
2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire (reduced sodium)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Old Bay
splash of lemon juice

Cornmeal coating:
2 tbsp. cornmeal
2 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp. flour
salt and pepper

Saute diced pepper, onion, and shallot in olive oil.  Mix crab and egg together in a bowl.  Add to the bowl the other crab cake ingredients (including sauteed veggies, once cooled).  Mix and shape into about 10 cakes.  Mix together cornmeal coating ingredients and then coat each cake in the cornmeal.  Pan fry in an inch of canola oil.  Enjoy!

Please share this blog with your "foodie" friends!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Some things are just too yummy not to share: Grilled Fajita Marinade Recipe


I love to grill...wait, I don't grill.  I love to eat grilled food, but my husband does the grilling.  I would do it... I just can't seem to turn the grill on properly and it frightens me...a little bit...or a lot.  So, tonight WE made some yummy grilled chicken fajitas.  I used to make these particular chicken fajitas using KC Masterpiece Caribbean Jerk Marinade.  I don't have a problem with the taste of the marinade, but when looking at the bottle - I couldn't identify most of the ingredients...problem.  Here's my "natural" take on this yummy marinade -  it's the perfect recipe for a great grilling night!
Best dishes and yummy dreams!

xoxo,



Little Mommy's Grilled Chicken Fajita Marinade

1 package of fresh chicken breast tenderloins
2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. of white vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. molasses (great source of calcium!)
1 tsp. Sriracha 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Splash of lemon or lime juice

*Optional addition- fresh pineapple

Mix all of the ingredients (aside from the chicken) together and pour it into a large ziplock bag.
Add the chicken into the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Put the tenderloins on skewers and grill them, turning and adding leftover marinade as needed.

We eat ours with sauteed peppers and onions...enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Have a Sweet, Healthy Breakfast!

Skip breakfast?  Never!  In fact, I'd never skip any meal.  I don't know how those "one-meal-a-day" people do it.  "I was just too busy to eat."  Really??  I mean, I eat in front of my kids while I'm teaching if I'm hungry (I know it sounds mean, but a girl's gotta eat, right?).  I remember going on vacation with an old boyfriend's family and ...gasp... most days they didn't eat lunch.  I would ask when or what we were going to eat and they would look at me as if to say "You can't just wait until dinner?"  NO!  I am a three-meal-a day (or more) girl and if I don't get all three of those meals, I'm likely to show up at a doorstep looking for a handout.
In all seriousness, I am hypoglycemic and if I don't eat often, I feel miserable.  So, I never skip a meal.  I am a picky breakfast-eater though.  I would really just like to eat donuts, cookies, and pastries everyday but then I wouldn't be able to call this blog "Little Mommy."  When you think of healthy breakfast choices, many people think of oatmeal and yogurt as being a sound choice.  While they have their health benefits, they are often loaded with sugar, or sugar substitutes.  So, I'd like to share two simple, and healthy breakfast choices that help to fix my sweet tooth most mornings.  (When my sweet tooth is too large - O'DoodleDoo's Donuts are soooo yummy  ...just once in awhile)  ;)


Little Mommy's Quick and Easy Yogurt Parfait
1 1/2 c. of plain fat free (regular) yogurt 
1/2 c. granola (I like BareNaked Peak Protein)
1/4 c. frozen organic blueberries (I leave them frozen as it makes for an interesting change in texture.)
1-2 tbsp. (more or less) of Agave

I mix this together in an empty coffee mug, or small glass container and eat it as I'm headed to work.  Who says there isn't time for a healthy and satisfying breakfast?


Little Mommy's Oatmeal
1/2 c. of Quaker oats
1 c. water, or skim milk
Microwave for 1 min. 30 sec.
Add in 1/2 - 1/4 c. walnuts
1 tbsp. or more of organic brown sugar
2 tbsp. Craisins

For a little twist - use brown sugar, a tbsp or more of canned pumpkin, and apple pie or pumpkin pie spice.  Yumm!

Enjoy these two breakfast "treats" without the guilt of the prepackaged sweeteners and artificial colors.  Best dishes and yummy dreams!

Time for a Fiesta! Taco Seasoning Recipe



High-sodium, high fat tacos?? Not in my house!  In an effort to steer away from prepackaged seasonings and sauces, I have been making my own taco seasoning for quite some time.  I love my taco seasoning – we use it for everything:  (chicken breast or extra lean beef) quesadillas, burritos, tacos, fajitas, mexican dips.  It’s great because it is low in salt (in contrast to the prepackaged varieties) and if you are on a low-sodium diet, you can nix the salt altogether.  This recipe makes a pretty large amount – I keep the extra in a jar for future use.  When adding this seasoning to meat, I like to drop in some medium taco sauce …even the baby likes things extra spicy around here!  Enjoy the recipe.  Best dishes and yummy dreams!

xoxo,


Homemade Taco Seasoning:
(Adapted from Healthy Cooking Magazine)

Printable recipe
1/4 c. chili powder
3 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. salt, or less
1/4 c. flour

Mix together and keep in a sealed container.  When mixing with a pound of meat, use 1/4 of mixture to 3/4 water or chicken/beef stock and add a splash of vinegar and taco sauce.

Thanks for reading, loves xo

Little Mommy, Big Appetite


Don’t read this if you are looking for your mother’s recipes: casseroles, roasts, “meat and potatoes” and whatnot.  Browse other blogs if you’re hoping to see slightly pretentious, trend-setting food … a deconstructed egg roll with a micro-green (microscopic) salad, blah, blah blah.  I am not a tree-hugging, natural, organic food nazi.  I just love food… I love trying new foods, I love fresh foods, I love healthy foods (and some unhealthy),  most of all – I love making food.  I live for a bring-you-to-your-knees, close-to-heaven dining experience.  Making food for my family fills my soul and I’d love to share some of my favorite recipes, tips, and tricks. Here is what I am about:
1.  I love fresh fruits and vegetables.  Just not fresh tomatoes…I know, I try, but  just can’t do it.
2.  I buy some organics (mostly the “dirty dozen”..although have you noticed an organic pepper is $4.00???  I think I’ll risk the toxins.)
3.  I try to avoid canned, prepackaged foods.  The only cans you’ll find in my kitchen are beans and some tomatoes.  Yes– I can tolerate a canned tomato in a recipe…weird.
4.  I try to make meals as healthy as possible, without sacrificing flavor, or taste.  I believe in “sneaking a vegetable in” dishes for adults..not just kids.
5. I have a little one… and I made over 50% of her baby food, so I love to chat about that and her ever-changing tastes and food experiences.
6.  I also love to eat out (hey – the cook needs a break too!).  New places and new dishes intrigue and inspire my cooking at home.
Preparing meals for my family is my way of providing for them.  I love to set a meal in front of them and know (almost) exactly where it came from and how it was prepared.  I love being able to have control of ingredients and creativity.  I am a little mommy with a big appetite.  Here’s to best dishes and yummy dreams!