Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mom's Birthday Party

We celebrated my Mom's birthday.  I made her a tea brunch and the girls and I celebrated with Mom and her twin sister via skype while she (my aunt) was also hosting a tea party in Georgia.  Then a couple of days later (due to crazy schedules) we had an amazing and healthy birthday dinner.  Here were the results:

For the tea we had crepes with cream and strawberries and lemon scones with an assortment of teas.

We're about to sit and enjoy the tea.  The girls don't look too happy because they have to wait until we're all ready - it took a while.


For Mom's Dinner we had several appetizers.  The first was Broiled Scallops with Sweet Lime Sauce 


Then we had prosciutto wrapped pears that Aubrey loved!  Who knew a 4 yr. old would like that?


Along with artichokes with happy hollandaise sauce  


Then the entree was Chicken Pomodoro which was absolutely amazing!!!

And for dessert, we had chocolate souffle' with raspberries 


A wonderful, fanciful, healthy feast!!!

Girls' 4th Birthday Party

The girls birthday was a special event for many reasons.

#1 - It's their 4th birthday!  I can't believe how quickly time has passed.  It seems like only yesterday they were tiny babies whose preemie diapers were too big on them.  Now they're already 4!!!  It reminds me to savor each and every moment. 

#2 - My sister and her husband got to be home for the first time for one of their birthdays!  That was very exciting and the girls loved having them there for their special day.

#3 - It was another opportunity to throw a party!  I love party planning and themes.

So this year's theme was ice cream sundae themed.  Here are some of the highlights that my friend, Jen, so graciously photographed for me:

My friend, Mandy, made the most amazing caramel and hot fudge!!!

Jen just gets every fun, little detail!  You can hardly see it, but the table cloth was aqua with white polka dots on it cut from white paper with a clear vinyl covering over to hold them in place. 

The cake pops I made as favors are from Bakerella's site: Cake Pop Tutorial

Their birthday sundaes with candles that they blew out and chowin' down!

Aren't they so cute???

I made them felt food for their play kitchen.  They got a cherry pie and a sack lunch:



March is Healthy and Hearty Month and my Chicken and Rice Recipe

I know you probably all thought I fell off the face of the earth.  However, I've still been cooking, etc... but have not had time to update my blog.  So, March's menu calendar is done now.  I will hopefully get the shopping list up soon.  If I do, it will be the first one ever, even though I've promised it from the beginning.  To keep with the health kick, I'm sticking with the mostly healthy recipes.  This month is dedicated to being healthy yet giving us hearty comfort food at the same time.  Yes, it can be done!  I hope you enjoy the recipe selections.  I'll be posting more regularly - I hope!

Some of the following posts are recipes - I have links to them on the calendar when they're due.

Here is my own chicken and rice casserole recipe.  It's really good, packed full of nutrition and gets rave reviews.

Chicken and Rice Casserole
Serves 4-6
Bake 350 for 30 min.

1 cup brown rice
1 cup torn, cooked chicken pieces
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. white wheat flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook brown rice according to package directions - it will yield 2 cups after being cooked.  While that is cooking, melt 1 tbsp. butter in saucepan and saute mushrooms, onion, and garlic until tender and fragrant.  Empty out of pan into 13x9 casserole dish.

In the same pan make white sauce by melting 2 tbsp. over low heat.  Stir in flour, salt & pepper.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat and add the milk and broth.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Pour sauce in casserole with vegetables and add the chicken and rice.


Stir all together and add more milk if too dry.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Smooth surface of casserole and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly.  The top will have a crusty texture, but this makes it really good and crunchy!  Enjoy!

Stuffed Tomatoes

6 Servings
Prep. 20 min.
Cook 10 min.
Bake at 325 for 30 min.

6 large ripe tomatoes (10-12 oz each)
1 lb ground sirloin (I am going to use ground chicken)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 lb. cooked brown rice
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Crusty bread and salad for serving

1. Heat oven to 325.  Rinse tomatoes and pat dry.  Cut tops off tomatoes and scoop out pulp.  Turn tomato shells upside down on paper towels to drain.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over med. heat.  Add meat and garlic, breaking up meat with wooden spoon.  Cook 7 min., until meat is no longer pink.

3. Add rice, pine nuts, oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt and the pepper to the skillet.  Cover and cook on med-low heat for 3 min.

4. Remove pan from heat and stir in the blue cheese and 1 1/2 tbsp. of the chopped parsley.  Invert tomatoes and sprinkle insides with salt.  Spoon filling into tomatoes, mounding slightly, 2/3 to 3/4 cup each.

5. Place tomatoes in 13x9x2 in. baking dish.  Cover dish with foil and bake at 325 for 25 min.  Remove foil and bake an additional 5 min.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tbsp. parsley.  Serve warm with salad and crusty bread.

Per serving: 291 calories; 12 g fat (5 g. sat.); 22 g. protein; 23 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 513 mg sodium; 51 mg cholesterol.

Recipe from Family Circle, October 2009

Harvest Pot Pie

Makes 6 Servings
Prep. 15 min.
Cook 21 min.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes

2 bunches Swiss Chard (I would think you could use spinach as a substitute)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion diced
2 med-sized carrots sliced
1 pkg. (20 oz) ground turkey
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 can chicken broth
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3oz box) thawed

1. Heat oven to 400. Coat a 2 qt. baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Rinse chard well; trim stems, then separate at base of leaves.  Cut into 1/2 inch pieces; set aside.  Chop leaves. 
2. Place half of the leaves in a large nonstick skillet.  Cover and cook over med. heat for 3 min., until wilted.  Transfer to a bowl.  Repeat with remaining chard leaves.
3. Add oil to same skillet; stir in onion, chard stems and carrots; cook 5 minutes.  Stir in turkey and thyme, breaking apart with a spoon.  Cook 7 minutes, until carrots are tender.  Stir in wilted leaves; increase heat to med-high. 
4. In bowl, blend broth, cornstarch, mustard, salt, & pepper.  Add to skillet.  Bring to a simmer.  Simmer 3 min., until thickened and clear.  Transfer to prepared dish; top with puff pastry.  Cut a few holes to vent.
5.  Bake at 400 for 25 minutes, until browned. Cool 15 min. before serving.

Per serving: 377 calories; 17 g. fat (4 g sat.); 31 g protein; 26 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 805 mg sodium; 39 mg cholesterol.

Recipe from Family Circle, October 2009

Tomato Bisque Soup & Kabob Tutorial

This is a simple, yet amazingly tasty soup.  My good friend, Joanne, gave this to me years ago and it has become a household favorite.

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 clove pressed garlic
3 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp. of dried
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat oil and saute onions until lightly brown.  Add garlic and thyme.  Stir one minute.  Add tomatoes, broth, honey and salt.  Bring to boil then reduce and simmer about 15 min. Using a blender, puree soup in batches until smooth.  Return to pan and add cream until heated through.   Enjoy immensely!

Here is the outcome of my shrimp, chicken, and veggie kabobs the other night.  I really wanted to grill, so my broiler becomes my grill during the winter.  Short note to self  - take shells off of shrimp before grilling - it will make for easier peeling unless someone has a trick that I don't know of.

Chicken, Shrimp, and Veggie Kabobs
Here are the chicken and shrimp threaded onto the  skewers ready to go under the broiler.  I marinated all of the meat in fat free Italian dressing for the day.

The mushrooms and grape tomatoes I placed in the upper part of the oven while the meat was broiling - they got done at the same time and were perfect. 
I also broiled some asparagus too - it was delicious!
 All ready to eat - come and get it!