Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cajun Style Meatloaf Patties

This recipe is adapted from Rachel Ray's Cajun Style Meatloaf Patties found in her Book Of 10 cookbook.

Cajun Style Meatloaf Patties

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/8 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt & freshly ground pepper
(I omitted the salt)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
(I omitted this as well. Nutmeg & beef? Not in my book.)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
(I used 1 tablespoon in the non-stick skillet and felt that I would omit it completely the next go round)

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock
(I used a Knorr beef boullion cube with 1 cup water)
1/4 cup heavy cream
(I substituted 1/2 & 1/2 for the heavy cream)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
(I substituted 1/8 cup dried because it was raining and I didn't feel like venturing out into the garden)

Rachel says to:

"Place the meat in a large mixing bowl and create a well in the center of the meat. Fill the well with the bread crumbs and dampen them with the milk. Pour the egg over the bread crumbs and then add salt, pepper, the Worcestershire, nutmeg, tomato paste, green peppers, garlic, and scallions. Mix together and form into 4 large oval patties, 3/4 inch thick."
Teresa says to:
"Dump all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your clean hands. Form 4 large oval patties, 3/4 inch thick."
Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with the vegetable oil. Again, I think you can do with out this completely in a nonstick pan. (Avoiding grease splatters that still escape even when using a splatter screen :) Fry the meatloaf patties for 7 minutes on each side. This timing was really accurate so I wouldn't deviate from it.
Remove the meatloaf patties to a platter, tent with foil, and return the pan to the heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, the onions, and the red pepper flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes and then sprinkle the onions with the flour. Cook the flour for 1 minute and then whisk in the stock and the heavy cream. Bring the gravy to a bubble. Taste and season with salt & pepper. Stir in the parsley and remove the gravy from the heat.
We served these Cajun-Style Meatloaf Patties with veggies from our garden and field, corn on-the-cob, steamed green beans and cherry tomatoes.
When David sat down to dinner he said, "What did I do to deserve this?" The gravy is delicious. Really. I'd lick the pan clean if I was by myself in the kitchen! :) This was a 4 spoon recipe for our family.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to School Week: Chewy Granola Bars

You may remember - a long while back - that I posted another recipe for Granola Bars.  While pretty, they just weren't what I was looking for in a granola bar.  Because all the ladies here at Blah to Ta-Daa are doing a Back to School Week theme, I thought it would be a good time to finally find a granola bar recipe that lived up to all my wildest dreams.  Ok, maybe not all my wildest (calorie-free food ranks up there in wildest) dreams; but definitely yummy and a keeper recipe.

And, I've found it!  Holy Smokes, these things are good.  Even after I cut out some of the butter and sugar, they were still like eating little cookies.  Yummm...5 Spoons for us!


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Chewy Granola Bars
heavily adapted from

1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. natural peanut butter (microwave it for a second if it's not easy to stir)
1/4 c. agave syrup or corn syrup or honey
2 Tbsp. butter, melted  (or your favorite nondairy substitute)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. oats
3 Tbsp. wheat germ
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8" square pan.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir in the oats and wheat germ.  Then, fold in the chocolate chips.

Spray your hands with cooking spray and then press firmly and evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until edges are browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and let rest overnight before cutting into bars and removing from pan. Yes, overnight! These bars get better as they age, so resist temptation to cut into them early!

Ingredient Lineup:

The mixture may seem crumbly, but don't worry.

Press firmly into a greased pan.

Bake until just the edges are browned.

Let rest overnight before cutting.


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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Carrot Salad

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I can't believe we are gearing up to go back to school in a few days!  I want my summer back!  Since I can't prevent it from coming I figure I might as well get into the spirit of things.

I'd like to start by saying we are NOT adventurous in this house when it comes to lunch.  Two of my kids will only eat peanut butter sandwiches for lunch.  Without jelly.  Every. Single. Day.  I get a little tired of making PB sandwiches, I must admit.  My oldest is a little more adventurous and likes to mix it up a bit.

So, when the ladies said they wanted to do a back to school themed week featuring lunches I really had to rack my brain.  I mean, I'm sure you all know how to make a PB sandwich on your own.  I wanted something that was somewhat healthy and that I had a chance of my kids eating.  That is a harder challenge than it sounds.

It dawned on my that I hadn't made a carrot salad in a really long time.  Like probably since before I had kids.  The last time I made it was for a family picnic but I figured, hmmmm....why not try to mix things up a bit and turn it into a sandwich?  Healthy, my kids eat carrots, this could work.  The best part of this recipe is you can really mix it up any way you like!

Please forgive my lack of pictures.  I forgot to take out my camera.  I know, shame on me! 

Carrots, shredded (1 cup or more, depending on how many sandwiches you are making)
raisins (as few or as many as you want!)
walnuts (optional)
white vinegar
vegetable oil
Pita bread

Shred carrots and mix with raisins, and walnuts if using.  Add a splash of vinegar, a smidge of oil, a little salt and pepper and mix up.  Serve in a pita. 

To change things up:
mix it up with mayo, use a different flavor of vinegar, or use a salad dressing of your choice

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to school week- boxed luch toddler style

ok, so I would love some feedback on this. I have worlds pickiest child and she is very hard to get to eat anything besides a PB&J... among a few other select items.


I don't have school aged children so my recipe/idea... no real recipe is just a portable lunch, fun way to spice it up, (would have been perfect for a picnic)


Heart sandwiches = whole wheat bread, natural PB, honey. Use a cookie cutter whatever shape you have and cut the sandwiches into fun shapes, I got 3 hearts out of one sand which, you could do variety of shapes, or stack them with toothpicks to make other shapes.

Finger foods= string cheese, nuts, pretzels, blueberries or any fruit, carrot sticks, applesauce and other little container things, candy... etc whatever you want and as healthy as you want.

Drink: MILK, we love milk at our house, but fruit juice if 100% juice, or water is the next options. Have fun!! I can't rate this but my dd seemed to rate it a 5... she was extremely happy to see her sandwich cut into shapes and loved that I gave her blueberries. She did leave the carrot sticks and cheese sitting there lonely... no party in her tummy for them! **Yo gabba gabba fans What do you do for your picky children? Have you heard of MTM (muffin tin Monday?) It's a blog meme I wanted to try one of these days, today would have been perfect for it, but I wonder if eating out of a muffin tin would please her... *shrug* I have learned if she makes her lunch she often eats more of it if any at all... I got all the stuff out to make real sandwiches with lunch meat etc... she ended up making a mustard and cheese sandwich.. LOL but she ate it... ! :)


All of these items are easily thrown in little baggies or reusable baggies, and taken anywhere... The milk works for a sippy cup- but most school aged kids don't have sippy's LOL

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's In My Kid's Lunchboxes?

Last year after seeing this video - I was moved to start sending lunches with my kids! I am happy to be sending such colorful, good for them and healthy lunches. I am happy to report that they are still choosing while milk most of the time.


Since then we have been learning a lot about what goes on in the lunchroom and classroom.


This is a black bean, spinach and cheese quesadilla.

My kindergarten told me this morning about the kid sitting next to him with a pop. The best part? He was outraged. Not out of jealousy...he knew it wasn't right.


This is a ham, cheese, spinach and bacon roll up.

My 4th grader gets to take a snack to school for after 2nd recess...he's a little bummed that I won't send chips like most of the other kids. His teacher put a ban on candy for I asked what's the difference between chips and candy - neither has nutritional value - he said Nothing.


This is a ham, cheese and spinach sandwich. Every day I try to include fresh fruits and veggies.

But all is not sad...all 4 of my kids flipped out when I sent a pear (like a real pear - just washed still in it's skin) in their lunch boxes. They were so excited - I guess it pays to talk up trying new things.


We have learned that if our kids are eating wholesome foods - they eat a ton more. I used to have a limit on the amount of food that they could eat...but who could say no to one more apple, banana or broccoli?


They like things rolled up - this is just real peanut butter and real fruit jelly...but they love it.


You'll notice that there are a couple of things that aren't really goldfish or banana pudding. I don't put a ban on things like this...I just put a limit on how many times I will include them. This way they are learning that it's OK to have them just not all the time. It also creates excitement when they do get to have a little junk.

Do you send lunch with your kids?


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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back To School Week - Pesto Pasta Please!

This week we are sharing Back-to-School lunchbox recipes and ideas. Our boys like sandwiches in their lunchbox but it's always nice to change things up a bit and go sandwichless a couple days during the week. Sunday I made a batch of Swiss Chard & Basil Pesto. This is the base for this healthy lunch.

I tried using a variety of colors, textures and flavors to keep the lunch interesting. This lunch was made with our 7 year old son, Sawyer, in mind. We are still harvesting from the garden and I wanted to include as much of these vitamin packed fruits and veggies as possible. Here's what you see in the picture:
  • Swiss Chard & Basil Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sliced Peaches and Blueberries
  • Babybel Cheese

I usually froze a bottle of water the night before and used that as the ice pack to keep the lunch fresh. By the time the kids broke for lunch the water was just about thawed out. At the Montessori school the boys attended, and I worked, parents were asked to include cloth napkins and real utensils in the children's lunchboxes. The napkins served a dual purpose of place mat & napkin.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Taking It Easy!

We are a family of tryers. What? That's not really a word? Oh who cares...I love to try new recipes...therefore my family is often subject to a taste test recipe.

This week we tried:

Melon Salsa
Cooking Light Magazine July 2010


Mix 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 Tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add 3 cups of diced seeded melon, 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced. Toss gently, cover and chill until ready to serve.

I used watermelon and cantaloupe as my melons of was really yummy with tortilla chips as a snack.

What have you tried out recently?

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Miso Chicken

One of my coworkers is a total foodie, so I often find myself gabbing with him about food and cooking.  Yesterday, he mentioned this recipe to me, and I instantly wanted to try it out.  I've been needing a good Asian-style way to cook chicken, and this totally fit the bill.  It's super quick to whip up, and only takes about 15 minutes to cook, start to finish.

The one potentially intimidating ingredient is miso paste.  I'd never even seen miso paste, let alone buy it.  There were 6 different kinds at my local Whole Foods...want to know how I chose this one?  It had a recipe for Miso Soup on the container, so I figured it was a good choice :)  Ha!

Bo and I loved this recipe.  You'll notice that we used chicken thighs and cooked them on the grill.  Don't do what we did.  Follow the recipe, and use chicken breasts cooked in a skillet.  The grill overpowered the mild miso flavor; it will stand out more if cooked in a skillet.  We rate this recipe a 4 Spoons as we cooked it, but we think it'd be an easy 5 spoons if it were cooked as directed in the original recipe.

Thanks for the recipe, Ray Ray!


Miso Chicken
adapted from Epicurious

4 skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. canola oil

2 Tbsp. miso paste
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. red chili garlic paste *
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, chopped (I used crystallized)
2 Tbsp. sake **

Flatten the chicken breasts with a mallet to about 1/2" thick, and place into a shallow dish.  In a separate bowl, mix all marinade ingredients.  Coat the chicken breasts with the sauce and cover to marinate overnight or all day.

Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes per side.

* Note 1:  The original recipe uses red pepper flakes, but as you've noticed by now, we love using chili paste anywhere that calls for heat.

** Note 2:  The original recipe calls for water, but why not use this as an opportunity to add some flavor?  If you're opposed to sake, you might try chicken broth or soy sauce.

Ingredient Lineup:

What Miso Paste looks like:

The chicken in our marinade:


p.s.  Happy Birthday to Brandy (aka Royal Family)!!!

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Caprese Pasta

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My kids love pasta.  It is one of those meals that I can almost always guarantee they will eat.  However, I get a little bored with the spaghetti and marinara sauce or baked ziti that is their favorites.  I was looking to switch it up a bit and came across this recipe in my Family Circle magazine.

I had plans in the late afternoon so I cut up all the ingredients and put them in a covered bowl before I went out.  All I had to do when I got home was boil the pasta and mix it in.  I served this dish hot for dinner but the next day ate leftovers for lunch straight out of the fridge cold.  My oldest son, husband and I all went back for seconds.  I rate this a 4 spoons. 

The only thing I'd advise differently in the directions is, instead of putting the oil on the other ingredients and then adding the pasta, mix all the ingredients together first and then add the olive oil.  I found that the oil and vinegar pooled on the bottom and didn't coat the pasta as well when I stirred that in. 

visit me at Life in the BAT Cave

1 pound cavatappi pasta
1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped
2 tablesppons capers (I didn't use, forgot to pick them up)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound fresh mozzerella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup fresh basil, torn

1.  Cook pasta following package directions, about 9 minutes; drain
2.  In a large bowl, stir together the tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and balsamic vinegar.  Add pasta to the bowl and stir to combine.  Fold in mozzarella and basil.
3.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

pasta caprese

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Black Bean Corn Salsa



1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 11 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1 t minced fresh jalpeno pepper
1 avacado, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro (I just did a small amount didn't measure)
1/2 c. Sliced Green Onions
1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes, squeezed)
1 t. salt
tortilla chips for dipping
Combine all ingredients except avacado and chips. Cover and chill for at least two hours. Add avacado just before serving. Serve with chips.

I just finished making this and I rate it a 5spoon already, can't wait for hubs to get home and try it! :)

**update- this is good on scrambled eggs, it's good mixed with rice with a side of chicken, even my baby liked it for finger food...
it's good good good and I used it all up all by myself since Hubs doesn't like it-- he is too picky and doesn't eat half the stuff in it :( LOVE it and want to make some more!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sweet and Salty Shrimp


I am not sure if it is the fact that I am watching a lot of cooking shows like Master Chef, Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen or the fact that I learned to cook by watching the food network...but this week I wanted to do something on my own. I came up with:

Sweet and Salty Shrimp Kabobs


I made a shrimp marinade of 5 Tablespoons of olive oil, 3 Tablespoons of honey, 3 Tablespoons of soy sauce and salt and pepper. Then marinaded the shrimp while I chopped up the pineapple and onion.

Thread shrimp, onion, cherry tomatoes and shrimp onto skewers. Drip extra marinade on shrimp skewers.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and enjoy.


The good news: These turned out fairly good.

The bad news: They didn't really taste like either honey or soy sauce.

They did have a good flavor and of course tasted good with the pineapple, onion and tomato. Hubby and I thought that this might have been really good with garlic infused butter...the kids were getting ready for bed when I tried this - they were walking through the kitchen asking if they could stay up and try kids love shrimp! :)

3's sad to say - but they weren't very spectacular...what would you have put on your shrimp?

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