Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shrimp Fest

Awe, Day 2 of the Beach, it seems like the week is already going by too quickly.  We went to one of several local seafood markets today and purchased 4 lbs of peeled and deveined SHRIMP!!  I used up one 1 lb of it for dinner and made a Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta served over basmati brown rice.  We all that it was exquisite, and ate it as two shrimp boaters drove by as they were calling it a day.

Final turnout as it was pulled from the oven.
Here it is spooned over rice (Andy and I had ours with leftover black olives).
We boiled the other 3 lbs using Zatarain's Shrimp Boil recipe: 4 Tbsp salt, a quartered lime,and a package of boiling spices. 
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We served 1 lb with cocktail sauce as an appetizer (and refrigerated a pound for tomorrow's shrimp cocktail and the last pound was chopped and will be used later this week for Shrimp Rolls!
This mornings breakfast was a slice of challah french toast (beaten egg with splash of milk and vanilla extract) two tsp natural peanut butter, sliced banana, cinnamon, and honey.  I also had one spicy hot sausage pattie.  I ate this while watching the ocean view from the screened porch along with a mug of cinnamon bun coffee.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Afternoon of Indulgence

The Five Layer Mexican Dip (with the addition of sliced black olives) was scrumptious with Spiced Pita Chips and Bean Burrito's for lunch.  I loved the sharp cheddar cheese used in the burrito and dips are always fun to eat because you can pick at them and reach across the table to dive into :O)

The perfect bite
Crunchy pita crisps
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Bean Burrito's served with medium Pepper Dog Salsa from Apex, NC

Mom LOVES cheesecake, after all she's the one that taught my sister and I to love it so much!  We made our Classic Childhood Cheesecake for dessert but used lime zest instead of lemon.  We tried a new Graham Cracker Crust recipe that calls for canola oil verses butter and calls for the addition of lime zest and cinnamon. The crust tastes great and has a nice crunch, but it slices and has poor presentation.
  • 1 cup whole-wheat or honey graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. 
COMBINE graham cracker crumbs, oil, sugar, orange peel and cinnamon in medium bowl; stir well. Press onto bottom and side of ungreased 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie plate. 
BAKE for 8 to 10 minutes; cool. Use for refrigerated pies or baked pies.


Other than cooking, I've taken a short nap, surfed the Internet at my leisure, and have been enjoying the book "Mindless Eating" by Brian Wansink, PhD.  It does make me think about the amount of food I eat and why we all mindlessly eat.  I like the idea of plating 20% less on your plate at each meal, by decreasing your portions by a small amount your mind and stomach won't miss it yet you can cut out 100-150 calories a day!

Up With the Sunrise

We enjoyed a cozy and laidback breakfast while watching the sun rise over the grey blue ocean. Breakfast was a couple frozen and re-baked hanky panky's (each one was a half whole wheat english muffin, ground turkey seasoned with sausage blend, and a sharp cheddar cheese sauce). I placed them frozen on a baking sheet at 375* for 15 minutes and then 2-3 minutes under the brolier on high.  With a cup of coffee (1 tsp cinnamon bun creamer, 1/4 cup 1% milk, and 1/2 cup coffee).  The dogs and I (along with Mom and her two dogs) are headed out to the pier and back - 4600 steps.
There's not much better than this...

Before breakfast I made a 5-Layer Mexican Dip and placed in the fridge to chill before lunch.

The recipe uses 1 Tbsp Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce - mince the additional peppers with sauce and place in a freezer bag or ice cube trays for later use.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Cooler Load and Menu Plan Monday - Beach Edition

In case you haven't been reading along over the past month, I have spend the past several weekend making ahead beach meals and freezing like crazy - summer tomatoes, squash puree, and rhubarb (early summer)to name a few.

We purchased a new large cooler to load up all our beach freezer goodies, it's a Coleman 62-Quart Xtreme Wheeled Cooler.

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Here's what's packed:

The top basket of the freezer: chunked rhubarb in 1 lb portions, black raspberries (from Mom), sliced okra from our summer CSA, spicy marinara sauce using tomatoes from our garden, Mom's, and the CSA.

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The top layer - before the beach items were loaded.

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Freezer after the cooler's loaded.

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Finally the loaded cooler; and we're heading out!

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Menu Plan Monday


*Subject to change depending on our vacation mood

Sunday: Pizza Take-Out

Monday: Hanky Panky, Pastitsio, and Mexican Avocado Dip

Tuesday: Sausage and Egg Hoagies, Slow Cooker Gyro's and Cheesecake

Wednesday: Whole Wheat Pancakes, Florentine Mac and Cheese, Black Bean Burger’s

Thursday: Shrimp Rolls, Bean Burritos, Black Raspberry Cobbler

Friday: BBQ Sandwiches and Broccoli Slaw, Best Hamburger's, Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday: leftovers

See here for previously posted links; I’ll also re-post them with photos throughout the week.

Saturday Treats and Slow-Cooker Beef and Mushroom Barley Stew

My parents arrived safe and soundly Friday night as we make are way towards the beach for this coming week. Mom and I had fun together yesterday running several errands: Daisy Cakes for breakfast, Durham Farmer's Market, Fresh Market, Trader Joe's, World Market, BJ's Wholesale Club, and the best stop - a 60 minute massage and 30 minute facial!

At Daisy Cakes (I've been wanting to try her cupcakes for months!) we shared a Vanilla Chai with Chai Spiced Buttercream and Pumpkin Spice with Orange Buttercream - they were outstanding.

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The perfect moist and thick cupcake base and a real butter, extra creamy icing - the flavors speak for themselves. We also picked up a strawberry preserve "Pop-t-Art" for an afternoon snack - mmm.

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Then it was on to the Farmer's Market - here we picked up Fig and Honey Goat Cheese, Camembert Cheese, Dolly Mama's Roasted Pumpkin and Chile Dark Chocolate, freshly ground Whole-Wheat Flour, and a gorgeous yellow bell pepper, for slicing later.

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We each had a goat cheese sample.

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And Sara Foster was the "Chef in the Market" - we caught her setting-up for the demo.

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I move into Durham Centre (right next to the market so I snapped a shot) the Monday I get back from the beach!! It going to be a lot of fun working in the Downtown Durham atmosphere: walking at lunch, snacking at the locally owned eateries, and being amongst all the night life entertainment. At work on Friday I packed up 28 crates before leaving - 20 of which were general HR files and 8 crates of my own items.

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In advance, I browned the beef and prepped the other ingredients for the stew so that we could enjoy ourselves all afternoon. This was great to come home to and we served it with some re-heated crusty bread for dipping.

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1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons EVOO oil
1 onion, chopped
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups low-sodium beef broth
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2/3 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves, garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; season beef with s&p, brown, and add to the slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients in order to the slow cooker.

Cover and cook, on either low or high, until the beef is tender, 6 to 7 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high. Before serving, stir in the parsley.

To Make Ahead
The night before (or a day in advance), brown the beef and store in a container in the fridge. Wash and dice all the vegetables store in a separate container in the fridge; be sure to store the browned meat in one container and the vegetables in another container.

In the morning, add the chilled ingredients to the slow cooker, then add the tomatoes with their juice, the broth, thyme, and barley to the slow cooker. Proceed with the cooking instructions above. The cooking time will run to the high end of the range given in the recipe.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Peanut Butter and Date "Panini"

Oh how I love warm toasty bread!!  I had high expectations for this sweet and decadent panini - and I was happily surprised that they were surpassed!  The dates made the panini outstanding!

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The ingredients: sourdough bread, peanut butter, honey, dried dates, and cinnamon.

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Spread one half with peanut butter and top with freshly sliced dates.  Place honey and cinnamon on the opposite slice and toast.  Spread the outside of each slice with smart balance butter.

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I had packed my grill pan and kind of wanted to use my cast iron skillet anyway.

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This was perfect - a sweet dinner or dessert.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cumin Chicken Tenderloins with Peppers and Caramelized Apples

I decided to also use apples in this dish and was very pleased with the results.  The apples sautéed for several minutes on one side until caramelized.  They complimented the tender chicken and peppers well.  I couldn't resist drizzling the entire dish with a little honey when serving.  Have I mentioned recently how much I love fall?

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  • Cooking spray
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken tenderloins
  • 2 anaheim peppers, sliced
  • 2 yellow apples, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • honey, drizzled

Spray a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. Place chicken in the pan and sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper.  Grill until grill marks have formed and chicken is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from heat, let rest for 5 minutes, then slice into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Add peppers and apples to the pan, cook 8-10 minutes. 

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Stir the chicken slices back in.  Drizzle with honey when serving.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roma Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad

Both of these were really good - I loved the tangy goat cheese and red wine vinegar combo with the juciy tomatoes and crunchy beans and corn. The Mexican pizza of course was fun and satisfying to eat. I think the pizza would have been nice topped with shredded romaine and sour cream too...I'll have to do that another time.

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  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound roma or green beans, stem ends snapped off
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 2-3 oz goat cheese, optional
  1. In a large sauté pan, add the beans and bring 2 cups water to a boil; cook until very tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the beans in the pan using the lid to hold the beans back. Add oil to the pan with beans, and add the peppers and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. At the end add the tomatoes, vinegar, and frozen corn.
  2. Just before serving, top with goat cheese.

I also made a Mexican pizza with about 3/4 cup salsa as the base. I baked the dough and salsa for 10 minutes. Then topped it with 3 oz cheddar cheese, 20 sliced olives, and 1 Tbsp taco seasoning sprinkled over the top. Re-bake for another 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eastern North Carolina BBQ

I picked up a 1 1/2 lbs pulled BBQ pork tonight (as the final item to freeze and take with us to the beach )from Byrd's BBQ along with 1/2 lb tonight for dinner. We both decided to forgo a bun, the pork was warm, juicy and delicious all on its own. I quickly split and baked an Acorn Squash and we were ready to go!

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Final Summer CSA - Week 12

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roma beans lb

yellow cherry tomatoes pt

4 mini-pumpkins (munchkin)

4 mini-white pumpkins (baby boo)

3 pump-ke-mon

eggs dz (they went right into the fridge and I forgot to pull them back out to photo)

I got enough baby pumpkins to share with my Mom when she arrives Friday night!!! Yeah, a week with my parents - been a long time since I had mom to myself for that amount of time :-p

A Little Home Improvement

Andy and I have always wanted to paint our stair well and upstairs hallway and loft. We've finally gotten the feeling that it's the next household project that we want to dive into (it's been awhile since we've done anything indoors). I found a really cool paint color in this summers Pottery Barn catalog called atmospheric! I purchased one gallon today for a trial run. It's kind of a stormy blue with a hint of green - we both like it!! We plan on painting it all a weekend or two after we get back from the beach. BTW, the odd photographs are of Andy's electronmicroscopy lab work from grad school.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: leftover Butternut Squash pasta

Tuesday: Byrd's Pulled BBQ Sandwiches and Baked Acorn Squash (CSA Vegetables arrive)

Wednesday: Homemade Pizza with CSA Roma Beans Corn, and Yellow Cherry Tomato Salad

Thursday:  Cumin Grilled Chicken and Peppers with Squash "fries"

Friday: Peanut Butter and Date Panini's

Saturday: Crock Pot Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup

Sunday: Topsail Island Beach Week Begins!

Powdered Sugar Crisps

20 calories per crisp and these will keep up to 6 days in an airtight container.  Another creative use for wonton wrappers!

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Cooking Spray
10 wonton wrappers 
1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar (or cinnamon sugar!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place the wonton wrappers onto  the baking sheet in a single layer. Spritz with cooking spray.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until they are golden brown and crisped.

Dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Ellie Kriger

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Butternut Squash, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Rotini

I reheated a package of yesterday's squash puree along with 1 cup of pasta water, salt and pepper.  Tossed it with whole wheat rotini (boiled for 7 minutes), sprinkled several halved cherry tomatoes over the top, and baked at 375* for 30 minutes.  As it came out of the oven I sprinkled it with a couple ounces of goat cheese!  It was great!

(I needed to use a few summer squash up so I grated two of them, along with two minced jalapeno's, sauteed these first for a few minutes before adding the puree to the pan.)

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Blueberry, Banana, Pineapple Pops

These turned out great and my tongue was able to taste each of the three fruits!  The yogurt keeps them just soft enough so that you can bite right into them.

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  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, drained if canned

In the bowl of a food processor, puree bananas until smooth. Add yogurt and lemon juice; pulse to combine. Add blueberries and pineapple to processor, and pulse until just combined.  Transfer mixture to ice cube trays (or popsicle molds) and freeze until frozen, about 4 hours.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Squash Puree and Pesto

I'm getting addicted to this making ahead and freezing stuff or maybe I'm just taking advantage of freezing great vegetables at their peak to have all winter long.  Either way, it gives me great satisfaction!  These purees can be used for recipes that call for pumpkin puree too.

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butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

Fill a large pot with enough water to come 2 inches up the sides of the pot. Set a steamer rack in the pot, cover, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the squash and steam over medium heat until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

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Transfer the squash to a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Basil Pecan Pesto

  • 3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup pecans (I wanted a few pistachios too)

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Begin to pulse herb, garlic, and nut mixture.  Drizzle in about a 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.  (Add a couple Tbsp parmesan cheese later when using the pesto in a recipe.)

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I have always portioned it into ice cube trays, froze and placed into baggies.  This time I had the idea of freezing the mixture into a thin layer and breaking/cutting off a small portion when needed.  I think this make for easy use...we'll see.

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A few other items

Deep Dish pizza for dinner with pineapple, avocado, and cheddar cheese.  It was delish!

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Finally, my cute new hair cut (that I'll never be able to style like this :o)

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