Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos

Phew, What. A. Week. I have been super busy this week and have not even had a single chance to get anything done! Taking a moment now while Bailey is entertained by My Little Ponies and Taylor is napping.

So this last week has been a little up and down in the cooking department. Made some winners (cilantro lime shrimp tacos!!!) and some major losers. There is no nice way to put that. When Arthur says, "Oh wow, something really did go wrong, didn't it?" you know there is a problem. That man eats anything and everything!

The hardest part of cooking for me, is that I was brought up on major staple meals. Very rarely did we stray from the routine menus. Not that there was anything wrong with that, my dad had to cook for 2 picky kids and you gotta feed em what works. But now that I am older, and on my own, and I really want to train Bailey to like a variety of foods, the experimental side of cooking is kinda hard. You want me to cook a traditional savory dish, you betcha! You want me to cook a delicious dessert, absolutely! You want me to cook apples, onions, sweet potatoes, and chicken? Hmm... Maybe not so much.

But thank goodness that I can stray a little (just not too far) from the norm. Hence, Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos.

I'm not a huge fan of cilantro, but it really works in these tacos and isn't too overpowering.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos
(Serves 4, about 787 calories)
½ pound of medium shrimp
Juice of 2 limes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 avocado
Cheese of choice for topping
Pico de Gallo (see recipe below)
Sour Cream
8 soft flour tortillas (see recipe below)
  1.  Peel and devein shrimp. Combine lime juice, cilantro, and shrimp in a bag to marinade for 2 hours. (You do not have to marinade the shrimp but I think that it helps absorb the cilantro/lime flavor)
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic. Cook until soft and just turning brown.
  3. Add shrimp. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until done.  (The citrus from the lime will start to cook the shrimp during the marinade, so watch carefully, it will cook very quickly)
  4. Fill the tortilla shell with shrimp, avocado slices, cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream, or other toppings of choice.
 Pico de Gallo
½ cup grape tomatoes, diced
¼ cup onion, diced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
¼ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lime juice (about ¼ of a lime)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and let marry for at least 2 hours.
Flour Tortillas
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tbsp oil or shortening

1 tsp salt
1 cup Warm water

Wax Paper
Small pot lid
Rolling Pin
  1. In a large bowl cut together flour, salt, and shortening or oil.
  2. Add in ½ cup of water and gradually add more until dough has formed a ball but is still sticky, DO NOT OVER MIX!
  3. Divide dough into about 8 pieces.
  4. Preheat electric skillet to 400 degrees. Lightly spray with oil.
  5. Lightly flour one piece of wax paper and rolling pin.
  6. Place one ball of dough on wax paper and sprinkle with a small amount of flour. Roll until very thin. Use pot lid to create a circle, pressing down to cut, and tear away the remnants and put to the side.
  7.  Remove tortilla from wax paper and place on skillet. Spray top side with a small amount of oil.
  8. Cook for 1 minute on each side, tortilla is cooked when they have developed deep brown spots.
  9. Remove from skillet and place on a plate under a paper towel. Repeat process
  10. Use immediately or store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To reheat, place in microwave under paper towel for 10-15 seconds.
(Disclaimer: I was so hungry I didn't take very good pictures, so you may have to use your imagination!)
OK, so true story, next time I make this I am totally doubling the amount of shrimp for the same number of servings. I try to be really thrifty with my groceries and I used a half of bag of shrimp for some shrimp alfredo and reserved the other half for later, but I love a big fat taco, and that is my only complaint. They were sooooo delicious! Even Bailey devoured her food in about 20 minutes, when she spends an average time of about an hour to eat her food.
I served these with a kind of Cuban black bean concoction. I'll share that recipe tomorrow (which is Bailey's 5th Birthday!!!).
This was by far one of the fastest meals I've made in a while that was made completely from scratch (a part from the side dish, Sandra Lee from Semi Homemade would approve of it though!) and everyone loved it. No leftovers. None. It was disappointing. Next time more shrimp.
What new meal have you tried with your family recently that they just couldn't get enough of?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Easy Apple Crisp

As my air conditioner hums away, I lose myself in that little corner of my mind that I have set up for fall now. We bought apple cider yesterday and you better believe that I warmed up a mug, added some cinnamon, sipped, and enjoyed.
Ahh yes, I can see the leaves coming down now.

So now I'm thinking that it's going to be full fledged fall cooking. Weather be damned. I have a really, really, really good imagination. This could work for me.

Our families new favorite dessert is apple crisps. We love it. Bailey finishes hers and then hovers around Arthur and I waiting for her next bite. We were making these soy free and dairy free by using Earth Balance Vegan Butter, but Bailey's symptoms have returned for the last few weeks and when I tried to introduce milk or soy products back into the diet, there's no changes. Not sure what that's all about since I thought for sure she was cured for the first two weeks of the trial. I'm afraid to start taking more out of her diet though without talking to a dietitian or seeing if the doctor will just go ahead with the allergy testing. It's been really frustrating. So for the next few weeks, we are just back to normal everyday eating seeings how it's not making a difference any way.

The recipe I've been using for the apple crisps (kind of) is from here. I made a few adjustments because hers is SUPER easy, but I never keep prepackaged oatmeal in the house, just the big tub of it. So we do it the long way. But never fear, this is still pretty stinking easy.

Apple Crisp
(Serves 4, about 200 calories)
2-4 medium sized apples
(I like pink lady’s mixed with granny smith)
2 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup instant oatmeal
2 – 4 tablespoons butter, cubed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut apples into cubes into an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.
  3. Sprinkle apples with half of the butter. (Does not need to cover the whole thing, just a small amount to keep apples moist during baking)
  4. In a separate bowl combine the oatmeal with the remaining cinnamon and brown sugar. Pour over apples.
  5. Sprinkle remaining butter over the top of the oatmeal.
  6.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.

I peel my apples for the simple fact that Bailey won't eat the peels, but you can leave them on and it's really just as delicious. Most nights we just eat it straight out of the oven like this, but last night...

we decided that we would go all out and have apple crisps a la mode! That's right! Melty, warm, delicious, right out of the oven. Like a warm apple pie...
My only problem is that I can't eat just one serving. But it's just oatmeal and apples, right? This could totally count for breakfast food! Right?! Oh well, I get a cheat day once (most days) a week.
And if you do just want one serving, just use about 1/4 to 1/3 of the recipe and put it in a small baking ramakin.
What's your favorite fall back dessert (HA no pun intended!!)?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Risotto

October. Autumn. Changing of the Seasons. Football. Halloween. Thanksgiving.

All this should be striking up a cold weather cord, but here in AZ the weather is still hot (the high today was 93)! I keep seeing the commercials for warm cozy fires, the leaves changing to the beautiful orange, gold, and red that signify that soon winter will be here, Thanksgiving. My poor little Kansas heart still doesn't quite grasp the fact that here, instead of what most of the United States knows as fall, it's really like spring time. The grass is greener, the trees and bushes are really starting to show their colors, flowers are blooming... It's not fair. My body is telling me to grab a hot cup of cider, wrap up in a blanket, and snuggle up, but quite frankly it's still too hot for that! I want cooler weather! I want to play in a pile of leaves! I want to wear some cute sweaters and scarves! I want a cup of hot cider! And, I want some good fall food!

UGGHH!!! (Phew, that feels better, sorry about that!)
I had all intentions of making something today from the fresh strawberries we picked up at the farmers market. They smelled so delicious that I was thinking a strawberry spinach salad, or some strawberry avocado salsa over a grilled steak. But my heart just wasn't in it. It sounded to springy. Too much like it was still summer. Sigh Why can't it be fall weather here too?
I know I shouldn't complain, but I'm totally jealous of all the food posts I've seen of fall foods, so today, despite the hot weather, I made a fall dinner. HA! Take that Arizona heat!
I am on a total sweet potato kick lately. I don't know if it's because Bailey actually likes something that's healthy for her, or what, but I want them all the time! I am, however, pretty worn out on sweet potato fries and really didn't want to make the typical sweet, sweet potato dish. So I stumbled upon this amazing little gem of a recipe: Sweet Potato Risotto. Sounded pretty delicious with some minor adjustments and some roasted chicken! Yum! I'm escaping to my own little corner of fall in my brain right now!
Sweet Potato Risotto
(Makes about 6 servings, 247 calories)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup medium grain rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. In separate saucepan or microwave safe container, mix stock and water. Heat mixture and keep hot for duration of cooking.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until absorbed.
  6. Add 3/4 cup of stock at a time and cook, stirring occasionally and waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding the next. It should take 25 to 30 minutes for all the water to be absorbed.
  7. Stir in the Parmesan and poultry seasoning.
(NOTE: When making risotto it is very important to make sure that the liquid being added is at the same temperature as the rice or hotter, otherwise rice will become hard on the inside and mushy on the outside. Also, the amount of liquid needed may vary, you may need to use more or less until desired consistency is met. If using chicken broth instead of stock, do not dilute with water, use 5 cups broth instead.)
 Oh, my, goodness! This dish was delicious! I have never made risotto before, but this was super easy. The hardest part was that I really couldn't walk away from it. The only bad thing about it was that the parmesan was a little too much, I think next time I'll only add a 1/4 cup instead.

I can't believe how creamy this was. And it was honestly even good before I added the parmesan cheese to it, so you're really not losing too much if you make it dairy free. The sweet potatoes didn't taste like anything that I've ever had, since this is the first time I've made them savory. I cannot wait to try this one again.
Thank goodness for a dinner escape to fall. Now back to Arizona reality.
What foods help you escape from the weather blahs?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Cookies

You know sometimes how you think, "Oh man, wouldn't this (insert random craving here) be freaking amazing right now?!" And then if you are like me, you get on the internet and start searching for hours (sometimes days!) for the one recipe that looks good enough to satisfy your craving and pray that you have all of the ingredients in the house (because seriously I am not getting out of this house right now with the baby that is sleeping and the 4 year old that is running around telling people crazy stories about, "this one time... (insert embarrassing stories here)" oh and I haven't dressed or showered today). Phew, if you read that all in one breath you can hear the real stress that it puts me in to think about shopping on a day when I can't do it by myself or with the man to help, ha!
SOOO, anyway, the point is that they had some fresh raspberries on sale at the grocery store this weekend, and all I could think was how good would it be to make some cookies with them. Now truly, the only raspberry cookies that I have ever had that didn't involve jelly, were the ones from Subway, but they are amazing, so I set out to find a recipe.
That was on Saturday. So much for mere hours of searching...
The only thing I could find were recipes that included using Jiffy's Raspberry Muffin Mix as the base. Which sounds great too, but I have fresh freaking raspberries to use here!
I searched for muffin recipes that I could convert to cookie recipes. It wasn't too promising. I'm not a master baker or anything so I wasn't sure how to convert what liquids to what percent dry.
At the end of it, I made a dangerous preposterous adventurous? decision:
 I would write my own recipe!
I'm not gonna lie, you know that anxious, adrenaline rush you get when you start your first day of school, or a new job, or you just found out you're pregnant, that's what this gave me. I was shaking. I was terrified. I told my mom I wish she was here to hold my hand while I did this. (Yea, I'm a grown woman that still likes my mommy to be there for me when I need her, what of it?)
And without further ado, here it is, my first cookie recipe.
(P.S. unfortunately this is not a dairy free or soy free recipe, but sometimes mama needs a special treat too! Sorry Bailey!) And for the calorie counters out there, 114 in each cookie.
White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Cookies
(Makes about 40 cookies)

4 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup butter flavored shortening
1 ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 oz (about ¾ cup) fresh raspberries, broken into small pieces
1 11.5 oz package of white chocolate chips
1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees .
2.       In a large mixing bowl cream together the cream cheese, shortening, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
3.       In a small bowl mix together milk and lemon juice, let stand about 15 minutes, or until appears curdled.
4.       Add curdled milk, vanilla, and egg to mixture.
5.       In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
6.       With mixer on low, slowly incorporate dry with the wet, just until mixed.
7.       Gently fold in white chocolate and raspberries.
8.       Place rounded tablespoonfuls of batter on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
9.       Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cookies are done when they begin to brown around the edges and have a moist, golden brown appearance in the middle.
In hindsight, I definately forgot how rich white chocolate is and they covered up the raspberry taste more than I cared for, next time I think that I will cut the white chocolate chips down to just a cup and increase the raspberries to a full cup as well.

 Despite the richness of the white chocolate, these guys were pretty awesome! I asked the man to be as critical as possible and he says he doesn't like flat cookies. Ha. Well the good news is that even though they are flat, they are still very chewy and moist. And you can defintely taste that little "cheesecake" kick. (Plus, he must not care that much that they were flat because by the time I was done baking 3 were missing)
 As I am an incredibly novice baker, I honestly have no idea how to make a cookie not as flat, any suggestions? Or do you have a raspberry cookie recipe that you love? Let me know, I would love to try it!  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

To A New Beginning

Let's just get things straight from the start, I am not good at a lot of things. I have, however, always been good at my job. Four months ago though, I made a major career change, I went from full time, always on the go, career driven woman, to stay at home mom with lots of time (and no money) on my hands. 
I have 2 beautiful daughters, Bailey, who will be 5 soon, and Taylor, who was the blessing that has sent me into the trenches like so many mothers before me. I have never once believed that women who stayed at home had it easy, but now that I am one, man... I don't even know what to say. There are still lots of days I don't know how I make it through and even more that I wonder how so many women have the patience to do this their whole lives. Don't get me wrong, I love every minute of this insane, crazy life, but serious kudos to all stay at home mom veterans.
Now in my new life, I have found that I have had a lot more time to cook and bake, which I have always loved, and good thing too since we just recently found out that Bailey may have some kind of food allergies. When the doctor told me that Bailey's health issues could be due to food allergies and she wanted us to try food elimination trials, I had no idea what I was getting into. "Oh cut out milk and soy first off? Sounds good. Should be a cinch!" HA! What the heck was I thinking?! We've had some definite failures of recipes in this dairy free soy free world we've entered, but we're starting to get the hang of it and would like to help out those families that have kiddos (or themselves) with the same issues.

So, first things first, breakfast! No better way than to start at the beginning right? These tasty, moist, fruit-packed muffins are an awesome morning meal that were pretty easy to turn dairy/soy free without a lot of expensive specialty products. (And for those of us counting calories, only 150 calories in one of these filling little bad boys!)

Bailey's Sunrise Muffins

(Makes 12 Muffins)
1 cup almond milk
½ cup orange juice
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 mashed banana
¼ cup Craisins (I like the cherry flavored variety)
¼ cup raspberries, broken into small pieces
½ cup apples (granny smith or pink lady's work the best)
1 egg
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease muffin cups. (If using paper muffin cups, spray with cooking spray as mixture will stick to liners since they are so moist).
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk, orange juice, fruit and oats; let soak for 15 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and oil; stir in oatmeal mixture.
  4.  In a third bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients, just until combined.     
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups until cups are 2/3 full.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.


Hope that you all enjoy this yummy breakfast treat! Bailey and I sure did! Let us know what you think!