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Sunday, February 28, 2010

PB & J Blossom Sandwiches

As any parent will tell you meal times can be a point of stress among a family. When kids are younger finding things they will eat is a chore, and as the grow older simple getting time to squeeze a meal into there busy life is the challenge. For myself my two beautiful daughters seldom agree on a meal. However I find success very often when I combine the simple and add a dash of fancy. Flowers is the shape of choice with my daughters however this works well with nearly and Theme; space and Halloween are two such examples. But for two little girls nothing beats a Sunday afternoon fancy tea party with facny sandwiches.

These cute sandwiches made with peanut butter and jelly (or cream cheese and jelly, or any other fillings) are perfect for parties, lunch boxes, or snacks.

  • Bread
  • Peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Jelly or jam
  • Water bottle cap
  1. For each sandwich, cut two slices of bread into flower shapes with a cookie cutter.

  2. Cut a hole in one of the slices by pressing a water bottle cap into the center.

  3. Spread the peanut butter and jelly on the whole piece and place the slice with the hole on top.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Braised Rabbit with Grainy Mustard Sauce

Wow! This recipe is absolutely fantastic as is, but I halved the recipe (only one rabbit) but used the full amount of garlic. I didn't thicken the sauce, just reduced the sauce. Just delicious. I served it with red potatoes, roasted tomatoes and braised fennel (saute fennel in butter until it's golden, add white wine and simmer until the fennel is tender. Add a bit of cream or half and half).

yield: Makes 8 servings

active time: 50 min

total time: 2 1/2 hr

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pot Luck Etiquette Advice

Organizing Your Potluck Party Although the term "potluck" suggests a random assortment of dishes, it's likely to turn out better when the host does a little bit of organizing. If you don't want to risk the chance that all of your guests will bring only desserts, begin by assigning your guests a specific course to bring along. Next, ask each guest to commit to a general category of food even if they're not prepared to tell you the exact recipe. After all, as much as I love brownies, five plates of brownies wouldn't give much variety to your potluck and there would be a lot of leftovers!

1. The host generally provides one of the main dishes, plates, silverware, napkins, and glasses.

2. If you are a guest, ask the host what to bring. The host may have food categories divided among the guests such as bread, salad, appetizer, main dish, side dish, dessert, and beverage.

3. Arrive on time. Do not inconvenience the other guests by making them wait for you and your dish to arrive.

4. Bring the appropriate serving utensil for your dish. The host may not have the utensil or have enough serving utensils for everyone's dish.

5. Unless you have an unusual serving dish and utensil, it is best to tape your name to both for easy identification. Have your name attached is helpful if you forget to take your dish home.

6. The dish should be ready to serve and kept at the appropriate temperature until placed on the table. If bringing hot food, keep it hot until it is placed on the table and bring a hot plate to protect the table surface. If bringing cold food, keep it cold until ready to serve.

7. When at the buffet line, only take a small portion of each item to taste. Part of the fun of a potluck is to sample everyone's dish.

8. Help the host with clean up. If everyone helps with clean up, it will get done in a fraction of the time with little effort on everyone's part.

9. If your dish has leftovers, then take them home unless you would like to offer it to the host. Do not take someone else's leftovers.

10. Show appreciation. Let everyone know how much you enjoyed their dish and thank them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Grilled corn on the cob with a thyme & roasted red pepper

The smell fills the air around you and it just waters your mouth. You can enjoy it any way you want. But I would definitely recommend the butter, and salt. My daughter is so much into corn that it is hard to displease her when this is being roasted. Kids can help dehusk the corn. A sense of accomplishment comes from doing chores in the kitchen and picky eaters are more likely to eat the food they helped cook.

Yield: 8 servings
Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 15 min

Unsalted butter, room temp: 1/2 cups
Roasted red peppers, dry & fine chopped: 2/3 cups
Large shallots, minced: 1
Sherry vinegar: 1 1/2 Tbsp
Fresh thyme leaves, chopped: 1 Tbsp
Kosher salt: 1 Tsp
Black pepper: 1/2 Tsp
Ears of corn, shucked: 8 pcs
Olive oil: 2 Tbsp

1. Put the butter, red peppers. shallots, vinegar, 2 tsp. of the thyme, 1 tsp. salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until blended. Transfer to plastic wrap, roll tight and refrigerator up to 1 week.

2. Dehusk the corn and heat grill, brush the corn with olive oil, the remaining tsp of salt and a pinch of pepper.

3: Put ears on the grill, reduce heat to medium low cover and grill turning every couple minutes. until brown all over and tender; about 15 min. Transfer to a large platter, top with half the butter and remaining 1 tsp. thyme. Serve with remaining butter on the side.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

10 Smart Breakfast Tips for Families

Breakfast time will be a snap with this smart advice that includes 10 tips for on-the-go families, breakfast-averting kids, and moms who can feed everyone but themselves. Enjoy!
  1. Don’t have time for breakfast? Make it ahead so you can grab-and-go. Make a batch of muffins on the weekend, wrap them individually and freeze. Just take one out the night before to thaw by morning. Or spread some peanut butter on a whole wheat wrap, drizzle on some honey and a sprinkle of dried cherries, and wrap it up. Stash it in the fridge overnight and then eat it on your way out the door in the morning.
  2. If you are never hungry for breakfast, it could be you are eating too much at night. Try eating a light dinner and have no more than some fruit as a snack in the evening. Chances are you will get up in the morning with a healthy appetite. You’ll be better off because you’ll be get energy early in the day when you really need it, and probably eat fewer, more nutrient-packed calories overall.
  3. Skipping breakfast to save calories is like skipping homework to save brainpower. People who skip this morning meal tend to make up the calories and then some later in the day. Plus, eating breakfast has been tagged one of the key habits of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off.
  4. Who says you have to have breakfast food for breakfast? If your kids don’t like cereal, eggs, and such, give them their favorite mac-n-cheese leftover from last night's dinner, make them half a turkey sandwich, or try mini pizzas made with some pasta sauce and part-skim mozzarella atop a whole-wheat English muffin.
  5. A bagel with cream cheese can run you close to 500 calories. Instead try a whole-wheat English muffin with some peanut butter. It is deliciously satisfying and only 320 calories.
  6. Crave the smoky, meaty taste of bacon? Well, you can have it in a healthy way. Canadian bacon is actually lean ham that is smoked liked regular bacon and is perfect at breakfast time for a third of the calories and one fifth of the fat.
  7. If your child just won’t sit down to breakfast in the morning, don’t force the issue. Instead, make a little snack bag with nuts, dried fruit, and their favorite whole-grain cereal. (Note: Dried fruit and nuts can be a choking hazard for kids younger than age 4.) Give it to them with a low-fat milk box to eat on the way to school.
  8. Now it's easier than ever to grab a healthy breakfast on the road. I love that Starbucks now has delicious hot oatmeal to go, with yummy toppings like dried fruit, nuts, and brown sugar. Next time, grab that with your skim latte. Or look for similar healthy choices -- such as low-fat yogurt or a hard-boiled egg -- at your usual morning pit stop.
  9. Turn your supermarket's cereal aisle into a treasure hunt for your kids. They’ll learn about nutrition and be well on their way to a healthier breakfast. Challenge them to find a cereal to buy that has less than 9 grams of sugar per serving and whole grain as the first ingredient. With smaller children who can't yet read, talk to them about different cereals, and why you won't buy one cereal but you will pick another choice.
  10. Smoothies are like milk shakes, so kids love them. Always keep a variety of unsweetened frozen fruit on hand -- peaches, berries, cherries, mangoes -- so your kids can pick and choose. We whir it up with yogurt, milk, and a dash of honey for a smile-inspiring quick breakfast.

How to Make Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

This surprisingly simple recipe to make chocolate dipped strawberries has some expert tips to help you achieve the best possible results. Once the strawberries are coated with chocolate, you can decorate them with Valentine sprinkles or, once the first layer of chocolate is dry, you can drizzle the strawberries with a contrasting chocolate color. However you serve them, chocolate dipped strawberries are a perfect offering for any Valentine.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries Recipe

1 pint of perfectly ripened strawberries with stems and leaves intact

about 4 ounces of chocolate chips - dark, white, milk or even chocolate mint flavors

microwavable bowl and microwave

cookie sheet covered in wax paper

optional: Valentine sprinkles, small candies, contrasting color of melted chocolate
choc-berries3 (7K)
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside.

Wash strawberries and pat dry, leaving stems and leaves intact. Strawberries should be completely dry before proceeding with the recipe.

Melt chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl, using the Defrost setting (or 10% power). Heat for 90 seconds, then stir; repeat until the chocolate has just melted and can be stirred smoothly. (Chocolate goes from melted to burned very quickly, so monitor the procedure and remove the chocolate from the microwave as soon as melting is complete.)

Hold a strawberry by the stem and leaves and dip it into the melted chocolate. Withdraw the strawberry and swirl it in a tight circle to spin off excess chocolate. If desired, shake sprinkles or small candies over the wet chocolate coating.

Place the chocolate dipped strawberry on the wax paper and set aside to dry. A cool room temperature is preferable for drying. Repeat with the remainder of the strawberries, reheating chocolate for a short time, if necessary, to keep the coating consistency.

If possible, dip and serve the strawberries on the same day. Once dry, you can place each strawberry in a small paper candy cup.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seafood 101 - The Basics

Cooking seafood is fast, and best of all it's easy. These simple techniques will open up a world of seafood flavor. Just follow the 3 easy steps and these helpful tips

We recommends these types of seafood for broiling:
Fillets or steaks 1/4" to 1-1/2" thick, shrimp, scallops, squid (preferably skewered)
Broiled Seafood is cooked in the oven, directly under the heating element. Preheat the broiler before putting the seafood in the oven. Place the rack 3-4 inches from the element. Broiling cooks seafood quickly, but be careful to keep it moist during cooking so that it does not dry out. Try marinating more delicate fish (those with less natural oil) to keep it moist during cooking. Fish with a higher fat content, like salmon, sea bass, bluefish, tuna, shark and swordfish are all good choices for broiling.
1. Lightly season with salt and pepper, or prepare a marinade. Add the seafood to the marinade, turn gently to coat the seafood evenly. Marinate the seafood in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 hours.
2. Preheat the broiler. Line a broiler pan with foil and lightly oil. Remove the seafood from the marinade and place it in a single layer on the broiler pan.
3. Broil the seafood for half of the total cooking time. Turn and baste occasionally with the marinade to keep the seafood moist. Continue broiling until the seafood is cooked in the center. Cooked seafood turns from translucent to opaque in the center when done.

We recommends these Seafoods for steaming:
Fish fillets or steaks, shellfish, whole fish.
Steamed seafood is prepared by placing a rack over boiling water in a covered pan. No added fat is needed for a great health-wise choice. For a complete dinner in minutes, steam vegetables beside the seafood.
1. Arrange the seafood in a steamer. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Bring the water to a boil in the steamer, add the seafood on the rack (be careful that the seafood does not touch the water) and cover tightly with the lid.
3. Steam the seafood until it is cooked in the center. Cooked seafood turns from translucent to opaque in the center when done.

We recommends these Seafoods for baking:
Fish fillets or steaks, shellfish, whole fish.
Baking is a method for cooking seafood quickly at a high temperature.
Bake in a preheated oven at 450oF. Measure the fish at the thickest part, and cook for 10 minutes per inch thickness, or until the fish is cooked in the center. Cooked seafood turns from translucent to opaque when done.
Baking actually requires very little or no added fat, another ideal choice for healthy eaters. Easy ways to keep the seafood moist during cooking include coating with seasoned breadcrumbs, lightly brushing with olive oil or melted butter, or topping with thinly sliced vegetables.
1. Preheat the oven. Arrange the seafood in a single layer in a lightly oiled or buttered baking dish. If cooking fillets, fold under the thin ends so that they will cook evenly.
2. Season the seafood or add a coating or topping
3. Bake the seafood until it is cooked in the center. Cooked seafood turns from translucent to opaque in the center when cooked. Spoon any remaining cooking juices over the seafood.

Clearwater recommends these Seafoods For Sautéeing:
Fish fillets under 1-1/2" thick, shucked oysters, large shrimp, scallops.
Sautéing, or pan frying is somewhat similar to stir-frying. Sautéed seafoods are cooked over medium heat. The seafood is browned on one side, and is then turned over to finish cooking on the other side. Try lightly coating the seafood with flour, fine cornmeal, breadcrumbs or finely chopped nuts for a crisp outside and tender inside. Try using a skillet with a non-stick surface to avoid using a lot of fat for cooking.
1. Carefully pat the seafood dry to keep any splattering during cooking to a minimum. If desired, lightly dust with a coating of your choice.
2. Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the seafood and cook until browned.
3. Turn the seafood and continue cooking until well browned and opaque through the thickest part. A good rule of thumb is to cook the seafood 10 minutes per inch thickness.

We recommends these Seafoods for Poaching:
Scallops, shrimp, shucked oysters, whole fish, fish fillets and steaks.
Poached seafoods are prepared by carefully placing seafood in hot liquid, resulting in highly flavored food with no added fat. Choose your favorite – simply water, or combine the water with seasonings, herbs, fish stock or wine.
Use a broad and shallow pan that fits the amount of seafood you plan to cook in an even layer. Be careful not to boil the water!
1. Place enough water (or other liquid according to your taste) and seasonings in a broad, shallow pan, to completely cover the seafood.
2. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat so that you see some movement across the surface, but no bubbles actually break the surface. Add the seafood. Do not cover.
3. Poach until the seafood is cooked in the center.

We recommends these Seafoods for stir-frying:
Shrimp, scallops, squid. Cubes or strips of firm fish (halibut, monkfish, salmon, swordfish, tuna, shark).
Stir frying cooks small pieces of food in a pan over high heat. Because the food cooks very quickly, don't forget to stir constantly to cook evenly and avoid sticking. Avoid stir frying delicate fish, because it will fall apart during cooking. Also avoid overcrowding the pan, or the food will release liquid and poach rather than fry; cooking in batches alleviates this. Either a wok or a large skillet is ideal.
1. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. If using vegetables, add them first and cook very quickly, stirring constantly. When vegetables are tender-crisp, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
2. If necessary, add more oil to the pan and reheat. Add the seafood (if necessary, cut in evenly sized pieces) and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and opaque in the center.
3. Return the vegetables to the pan, add any sauce or seasoning and toss to evenly mix. A meal in minutes!

We recommends these seafoods for grilling:
Cod, salmon, shrimp, lobster, scallops, mussels.
Grilling is a fun, low fat way of cooking with heat and direct contact. Because most fish contain relatively little fat, marinating or brushing lightly with oil before placing on a grill is also recommended. This maintains moisture inside the seafood and prevents it from sticking to the grill.
To keep the fish from sticking to the grill, oil the grate before adding the fish.
Fish Steaks: Marinate the steaks, or lightly brush with oil. Place directly on the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked. Fish is cooked when it turns from translucent to opaque in the center.
Fish Fillets: Fish fillets are more fragile than steaks. To prevent them from falling apart during cooking, the should be carefully cooked in a grilling rack or in foil. Fillets with the skin left on one side can be cooked directly on the grill.
Lightly oil the grill and fish. Cook until done, basting frequently.
Cooking Time: Measure the fish at the thickest part. Be sure to include the stuffing or rolling. Cook for 10 minutes per inch thick.
Fish Fillets and steaks can be marinated prior to cooking. Fillets with skin should be cooked skin side down to deep the flesh form drying out. Steaks and fillets can be cooked directly on the grill; lightly oil the grate before adding the fish.
Thin or delicate pieces can be cooked on foil set on the grill, or wrapped in foil, lettuce leaves or corn husks before cooking.
Smaller seafood can also be cooked on racks to prevent them from falling through the grill during cooking.
Try threading scallops or shrimp on skewers, alternating with vegetables, for a fun appetizer. Cook 2 – 3 minutes, basting occasionally. Turn over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until done. Scallops are done when they turn from translucent to opaque in the center.
Mussels In The Shell: Lay the shells directly on the grill. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until the shells open wide. Throw away any whose shells do not open. Be very careful when removing the shells from the grill. The liquid that you will find inside is scalding.
Frozen seafood should be thawed before grilling, so that the oil, marinades, or spices will be absorbed.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Your kitchen pantry make-over.

Have you ever started cooking only to realize that something has gone bad or you are missing an ingredient (or 2 or 3…) Well you’ll never do that again! Use these helpful tips and avoid cooking interruption and a jumbled pantry. Stay organized and you can also cut your cooking and preparation time. Since I organized my pantry, there have been no mysteries, empty spots nor have I had to stop cooking to go out shopping or abandon a recipe. I only have to shop my pantry and I have everything I need, every time.

1- First step is to clean out your pantry by going through all the items and throwing out items that are too old or past their expiry date. It is important that all the items are fit for eating for your health as well as to prevent these finds mid-recipe. What ever is missing, stock up on your basics.

2- When you organize your shelves, store items like they do in the grocery stores. Sort by category, storing baking and cooking items separately, tallest in the back, and frequently used items where you can immediately see them.

3-When you stack your cans, for easier maintenance and identification of what stock is depleted, mark where the position where items or categories of items are positioned on the shelf. Angela likes to use a label maker like the Brother P-touch 1000. This makes controlling your pantry so much easier.

4-Store all your baking items separately. Use baskets, wire or wood to contain all your baking items, everything you use to bake like your flour, sugar, vanilla, baking soda and powder and getting them to the counter and back is a snap.

5-Need more space? Go vertical with expandable shelves. No assembly, but instantly increases your space. Maximize that space also by using bins or baskets and store those loose items potatoes, onions, or smaller items like soup or sauce packets, sleeves of crackers and cookies out of the box. They also add an element of esthetics.

6-Is there only one sleeve of crackers left and the box is taking up precious space? Store the sleeve in Ziploc storage bags. To ensure the freshness of the items, remove the air by rolling the bag up to press out the air. Be sure to mark it with the date you packed the item.

7-Tidy up your pantry on a regular basis. Keep it clean and free from crumbs and debris for pest free storage. Shake out and wash off your baskets, sweep out or vacuum out food particles off the shelves at least once every 3 to 6 months.

8-Rotate your stock. Anytime you get a new can or container, make sure to place it behind the oldest of the same item so that you are making sure to use the oldest item first.

9-Items rarely used or stored at the back can get forgotten. Make an inventory list of those items in your pantry and never lose sight of your food stock.

10-Do you buy bulk items like beans, rice, pasta or nuts? Buy boxes of Mason jars form the supermarket and store the items in the jars. They look lovely on the shelf but are also practical. They are airtight and you can see easily see what it in each jar.

A Romantic Valentine's Meal, Gentalmen take heed

The key to preparing a delicious and romantic meal is time and forethought. With that in mind, make sure that you are well organized if you are planning to treat your lady to a nice quiet evening at home this Saint Valentine's Day . You might be able to escape persecution if you mess up her birthday or your anniversary dinner, but on the one night that she expects you to take her out to a plush restaurant for a romantic dinner is the one night that you can't afford to foul up on your in-house culinary creation. What exactly are you going to cook for your love? If you think you can get away with Hamburger Helper, you better think again. If you're lacking ideas, fear not; here is a simple chicken parmigiana recipe that will knock her off her feet and land her in your arms. This is a fairly straightforward recipe, and any amateur or expert can pull it off.

main course


  • Chicken fillet (at least one per person).
  • Sliced bread.
  • Tomato sauce (enough to cover the chicken).
  • Romano and Parmesan cheese.
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Vegetable oil.
  • Four eggs.
  • Any pasta of your choice (preferably fettuccine or linguine).
  • Garlic clove.
  • Butter.
  • Green vegetable of your choice (green beans or broccoli).


  • Toast the bread and crumble.
  • Break the eggs in a bowl and gently beat.
  • Dunk each fillet into the eggs.
  • Roll each fillet in the bread crumbs until they are breaded.
  • Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with the vegetable oil.
  • Gently position the breaded chicken fillets in the casserole dish.
  • Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken fillet.
  • Sprinkle the Romano and Parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.
  • Top it all off with some mozzarella cheese.

Cooking time

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cover the casserole dish and place in oven for 40 minutes.
  • After 40 minutes, cut into the fillet to see if it's ready (chicken is ready when the meat is white).
  • Remove the cover, set the oven to broil and cook for two minutes or until the mozzarella is slightly browned.

on the side

This is a filling meal that serves well with garlic bread. But since you will be exhausting plenty of energy later on that evening, you can prepare some pasta to go along with it.


  • Boil water and add a splash of virgin olive oil, to ensure that the pasta does not stick.
  • Add the pasta and boil for 7.
  • Mince the garlic clove.
  • Drain pasta and place back in pot.
  • Add garlic and 2 tbsps of butter to pasta and stir.


Position the pasta, vegetables and chicken next to one another on a plate. Add more sauce to the chicken if you like and top it off with a small sprig of parsley. Arrange the garlic bread in a nice basket, set it on the table and voilà, Chicken Parmigiana.

Gentlemen, there you have it -- everything you need to know in order to pull off a perfect Valentine's Day supper for the one you love. You have an easy Italian recipe, some pasta, and garlic bread. You're on your way to a perfect evening.