Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Fudge

Yesterday where Jamison works they had a pot luck for one of his coworkers to celebrate his retirement so I decided to whip up a batch of fudge to send. It’s a decadent treat, but what better for a celebration or holiday! And luckily Jamison took it out of the house because this stuff could be seriously additive! As Cookie Monster nows says it’s most definitely a “sometimes food”! 😉

What You’ll Need:
3 cups of organic cane sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened (Note: If it’s soft to begin with it melts faster.)
2/3 cups of evaporated milk
12 ounces of chocolate of your choice
1 jar of marshmallow cream (Note: Look for one with no high fructose corn syrup.)
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt butter, sugar and evaporated milk until smooth. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Bring to soft ball stage (235 F) using a candy thermometer to gauge temperature. Once the boiling begins it will take roughly 3-5 minutes to bring it up to soft ball stage. I can not stress enough STIR CONSTANTLY!! It is very easy to scorch something with sugar in it if you aren’t paying complete attention.

Remove pan from heat and stir in marshmallow cream and chocolate until melted and smooth. (Note: To make the marshmallow cream come out of the jar easier pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and it should slide right out). Pour mixture into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been buttered. Let cool to room temperature and cut into small squares.

Fudge can be stored in the fridge or even freezer until ready to use, but it isn’t necessary. It will last about a week at room temperature.

Notes: You could add a cup of nuts and/or Goji berries for a nice change of pace. Pumpkin seeds would also be good. The size of the squares are completely up to you, but in my opinion the smaller the better. It’s very rich! 😉

Onion Burgers

Onion Burger

As a kid when we used to camp at the lake all summer we ate a lot of burgers. One of my mom’s friends made the best onion burgers! She used onion soup mix in the meat and worcestershire sauce and they were delicious. On the 4th of July we usually spent the day together and she always made those burgers!

The other day I was thinking about my mom’s friend and her burgers and I decided to play around in the kitchen with what I had on hand and see if I couldn’t put something together that was similar. The result was delicious! Pair the burgers with some oven “fries” and you’ve got the perfect meal!

What You’ll Need:
1 pound of ground beef or turkey
1/3 cup of A1 Steak Sauce
1 small onion, chopped fine (I used a red onion…Which the name of by the way irritates me…It’s purple people! 😉 )
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl mix all ingredients until completely incorporated. (Note: The best way to do this is either in your mixer or with your hands.) Form into patties and cook until desired doneness. Top with your favorite burger toppings.

Makes 2-4 burgers depending on how big you like your burger.

Onion Burger

Notes: I don’t add salt to this personally because the A1 is salty enough in and of itself to me. I also use the leanest grass fed beef available or the leanest ground turkey.

Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

I love tuna, but I don’t eat it that often due to mercury concerns. Every once in a while I grab some a tuna roll, grill a tuna steak or make some tuna salad. Yesterday was one of those days that started on a bad note and unfortunately when you start on that path you get caught up in a negative feedback loop and it’s hard to snap out of it and it was just a sour day all over. Tuna salad is one of those ultimate comfort foods for me, so I whipped up a batch.

Tuna salad is usually heavy, but it doesn’t have to be bad for you. In fact it can be good for you, though as I mentioned above with mercury concerns it’s not something you want to eat everyday, but it is possible to make a lighter version of the heavily mayonnaised versions you might get in a deli or even grandma might have made. You can make it into sandwiches, serve it in a bell pepper or tomato or even just eat it plain. The possibilities are endless and it’s quick and easy to mix up. What’s better than that?

What You’ll Need:
2 – 8 ounce cans of tuna packed in water, drained
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 eggs, boiled and chopped
1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl to incorporate. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Notes: I sometimes add in chopped bell pepper and/or chopped cucumbers to the mix as well. I also sometimes omit the pickle relish. I always use light mayo because it has half the calories and fat, but still tastes like the full fledged equivalent.

Sweet Corn Chowder

Sweet Corn Chowder

When you think Corn Chowder you think rich and decadent, but it doesn’t have to be. You can cut out a lot of fat and calories by reducing the amount of fat you use and slimming down the dairy. It’s a simple way to make things lighter, yet just as delicious.

I’ve seen many recipes for similar chowders that call for a stick or more of butter, topping it off by adding heavy cream, but in this version you use just enough butter to give it flavor, then utilize the healthier fat in olive oil to get the job done. You also let the onions help in that area as well, as they add a heavenly background flavor. The fat free half and half makes it taste decadent too, but it’s a very pleasant illusion. Fresh corn rounds out this recipe and helps thicken and sweeten the pot.

Sometimes you just have to rethink the way you do things. Lighter doesn’t have to be bad.

What You’ll Need:
4 ears of sweet corn, removed from ear
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of butter
1 small red onion, chopped
1 pint of fat free half and half
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut the kernels off of one ear of corn. Place in the food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

Cut the kernels of corn off of the remaining three ears of corn set aside.

In a medium sized stock pot saute red onion in butter and olive oil over medium heat until caramelized. Add pureed corn, corn kernels, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and fat free half and half stir to mix. Bring to a quick boil and then lower heat to simmer and cook covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve hot.

Makes about 4 servings.

Sweet Corn

Notes: The pureed corn helps to thicken the chowder. You could easily make this soup in the middle of winter with frozen corn kernels by processing 1 cup of corn kernels until pureed and also adding 2 cups of frozen corn kernels or by freezing corn during the summer for later use. It’s good either way, but the fresh corn right of the cob really can’t be beat! Also the leftovers are even better the next day!

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Who says chicken fingers have to be fried? You can make a healthier version by baking them in the oven and they are just as scrumptious! What’s not to like?

What You’ll Need:
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of salt free seasoning mix (It’s like season salt, but it’s salt free)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder or salt

Boneless, skinless chicken tenders (Note: You can always take a boneless skinless breast and cut it into strips if you can’t find them already pre-cut at your butcher’s counter.)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch dish with non-stick.

Beat eggs and sit aside.

In a large bowl mix bread crumbs, Parmesan, seasoning mix, a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, paprika, parsley and garlic powder or salt to combine.

Dip one chicken tender into the bread crumb mixture to coat. Then dip into the beaten eggs mixture and coat both sides. Dip back into the bread crumb mixture and coat once again and place into the pre-sprayed dish. Repeat until you run out of chicken tenders. Make sure the chicken tenders aren’t touching. They can be close to one another, but give them a little room in between.

Bake for 8-15 minutes until chicken is done through and tenders are golden brown.

Notes: You could add crushed pecans, macadamia nuts or cashews to the bread crumb mixture for a different taste. You could also add in Cajun or Creole seasoning in place of the seasoning mix to spice things up. Leftovers make good sandwiches.

Hobo Dinner

Hobo Dinner

This meal is the epitome of easy, fresh and cheap dining! With all the veggies coming in at the Farmer’s Market and in the garden this is a very easy dish to pull together. It’s perfect for camping cooked right over the camp fire (that’s where we always had it and it reminds me of summers at the lake), grilling or even in the oven. Mix and match what you have on hand and you can have a basic “Hobo” Dinner or even a “Not So Basic” version. What you put in it it completely up to you, but you’ll enjoy it none the less!

What You’ll Need Per Person:
Aluminum foil
Non-stick spray
1 serving of meat (ground beef, chicken, fish, seafood, steak, etc.)
1 small potato (sweet potato, russet, yellow, etc.)
1 small yellow squash
1 small zucchini
2 slices of onion
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Take aluminum foil and foil up sides to make a square “dish”. Spray the foil with non-stick spray and place meat serving in the middle of the the “dish”. (Note: To make this completely vegetarian/vegan you could use mushrooms in place of the meat. Just slice a few button mushrooms and add to the bottom or use a large Portabella mushroom cap.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next layer potatoes over the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a layer of squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Do you see a pattern forming here? ;o)) Next add the zucchini and then a bit more salt and pepper. Top with sliced onions and fold the foil over to form a packet and seal.

Place foil packet on a baking sheet or in a dish and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until meat is done and veggies are tender. Serve immediately by sliding the packet onto a plate. You’ve got everything right there in the packet, ready to go.

Notes: You could easily add other veggies. What ever you like would work. Corn would be nice. Carrots would be good too. Rutabaga, turnip…Well you get the idea! You could also add in other spices or seasoning. Old Bay seasoning would be perfect with shrimp or seafood. Mix it up and make it your own!

Blueberry Ice Cream

Blueberry Ice Cream

My Mom and Daddy were visiting this week from Tennessee and my father is a big snacker. He’s also a big ice cream eater, so I thought it would be nice to whip up a batch. I had a bunch of blueberries in the freezer that I had frozen over the past few months and thought it would be fun to put them to use in Blueberry Ice Cream! I had never had this before, but what I came up with was really wonderful! Alexis really loved it and my Mom and Daddy seemed to like it too. I certainly loved it! It has a wonderful blueberry flavor that is a refreshing change from standard ice cream. Sometimes it’s nice to mix things up!

What You’ll Need:
4 cups of blueberries (Note: I had frozen the blueberries, but fresh blueberries will work just as well. You’re looking for big, normal sized blueberries, not those tiny frozen ones that you find in the freezer section.)
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
1 pint of half and half
1 quart of heaving cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk
1 cup of organic cane sugar

In a medium sized pan cook blueberries, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water until sauce forms. (Note: You can cook it further until the blueberries break down or let them retain their shape. I chose to let them retain their shape so that there were lovely bits of frozen blueberries that popped in your mouth when you ate the ice cream. It’s a matter of personal choice.) Remove from heat and let cool completely before using in ice cream mixture. The easiest way to accomplish this is to put them in the fridge.

Mix cooled blueberry mixture, half and half, heavy cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk and sugar and stir to mix. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s directions. Serve immediately for soft serve ice cream or place in the freezer to let it set up to a harder state.

Blueberry Ice Cream

Note: I really loved the color this ice cream turned out to be! I used a large ice cream maker for this recipe. You can substitute any fruit you like for the blueberries. Strawberries are a personal favorite and peaches as well. You could even do a mix and make things really interesting!

Peanut Butter Granola

Peanut Butter Granola

When you think Granola it makes you think of wholesome goodness. Buying commercially made granola is a toss up though. You never know what you’re going to get and who really wants a grab bag when it comes to what you’re eating. Many of them have nasty preservatives you can’t pronounce, and/or high fructose corn syrup, and/or other refined sugars and/or the dreaded trans-fats. None of that is stuff you want to eat, or shouldn’t be anyway.

A while back I came across a recipe that I adapted from Mother Earth Living for homemade granola bars and Alexis, my sister, Nelson and I loved them!

At the time I thought it would be nice to subtract the butter, add another healthier fat and make it granola instead of granola bars, so today I tried that. The result was scrumptious! And the best part is that this is an excellent way to incorporate whole grains!

What You’ll Need:
1 1/2 cups of extra thick rolled oats (This is the Whole Grain kind, not the instant version)
1 cup of unsulphered coconut
1/2 cup of raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup hempseed
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup of whole, raw almonds
1/4 cup of whole flax seeds
4 tablespoons of natural peanut butter (I use Tree of Life Blended Peanut Butter)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix together oats through flax seeds on a very large baking sheet and put into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the oat mixture is heating in a pot melt peanut butter butter, honey and maple syrup. Once the mixture is nicely melted melted bring to a quick boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Remove oat mixture from the oven and leave the oven on. In a large bowl mix oat mixture with the peanut butter mixture and stir to coast. Stir in raisins and then spread granola mixture out so that it isn’t completely touching on one large pan or two smaller pans. Put mixture back into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool and store granola crumbles in an air tight container. When they first come out of the oven they will be slightly soft, but they will harden as they cool. Serve plain, as cereal of as a topping for yogurt or ice cream.

Notes: You could add any seed or nut you wanted in addition to or in place of the ones I chose for this mix. Last time I used cashews. Peanuts would be good too! Mix it up and make it your own!

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad

What better to do with left over Salt and Pepper Shrimp than make some shrimp salad! It’s cool, delicious and not so bad on the waist line either. You can’t go wrong with that.

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of shrimp, cooked and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1-2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you like it with a zing, less if you don’t. If you’re not a fan of Old Bay you can leave out the seasoning and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper instead.)
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Dump ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix. Let set in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.

Serve on lettuce leaves, a split tomato or on bread as a sandwich.

Shrimp Salad Sandwich

This makes four generous sized servings at about 170 calories a serving without the bread. You can’t beat that!

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Shrimp are a quick, simple and delicious addition to a healthy meal! They are perfect along with a few steamed or baked veggies. They are even good the next day right out of the fridge! What’s not to like?

What You’ll Need:
Shrimp
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rinse and dry shrimp. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. (2 pounds to 1 tablespoon ratio.) Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake for 3-5 minutes just until shrimp turn pink. (Note: Don’t overcook or the shrimp will become rubbery. Keep an eye on them and as soon as they turn pink bring them out!)

How is that for fast, easy and delicious?

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Notes: Jumbo shrimp work the best. Don’t want to heat up the oven? You could easily do this in a steamer as well. Just steam for 4-5 minutes until pink. You could also put them on a skewer and do them outside on the grill. The guy at the fish counter said you should figure one pound of shrimp per persons served so I bought a pound for Alexis and I, but it could have easily fed 3 or 4 grown people along with the steamed veggies.