If you’re looking for an impressive yet easy romantic dinner then here’s your answer. This is the perfect Valentine’s Day “stay in and cook something special” dish for the adults of the family. I tried this dish on my kids and they were not fans at all (and they also kept calling everything by the wrong name, too…clams instead of scallops, lettuce instead of arugula, and grits instead of polenta). So they definitely proved their point that this upscale meal should be left to the enjoyment of adults only, at least in our house. And I don’t know about you, but we certainly don’t mind a quiet evening alone every now and then! Plus this is not one of those fancy dishes that will have you in the kitchen cooking and cleaning all night long either, so get ready to enjoy.
Archives for January 2012
I don’t know about you, but at this point in the school year I feel a lunch rut coming on. It can be a challenge to come up with real, portable, creative (and for my daughter’s school – nut-free) ideas for the lunchbox every single day! If you feel like you could use some “fresh” inspiration at this point as well then I have the perfect solution for you. One of our long-time sponsors, The Fresh 20, has expanded their dinner plan offerings to now include lunch! And aside from getting their 6-week lunch plan package The Fresh 20 has put together the cutest little lunch e-book that contains lots of “getting started” tips as well. Now feel free to visit their website to purchase this package OR you can buy it here and get something extra for free. :) I just love getting the best deals for you guys! As a special bonus “The Fresh 20” is going to offer our readers 3 weeks of FREE dinner plans when they order the 6-week lunch plan package. Don’t forget this means they’re doing all the work for you (including making out the shopping lists) and it’s all “real food.” So just to recap:
I must be living under a rock because I just recently learned about jalapeno poppers that are wrapped in bacon instead of battered and deep-fried. Some Texan friends (of friends) brought these little treats to a New Year’s Eve party, and I had to force myself to stop eating them so there would be enough for others! Even though I don’t normally go for spicy dishes. Apparently this appetizer is very much a “Texan thing,” and once I got home and “googled” it I realized I must be late to the party. Well I guess it’s better late than never so here’s our version of this recipe…just in time for those upcoming Superbowl parties!
I’ve shared this recipe on the blog before, but to be honest it’s kind of buried in the intro paragraph of another recipe, which basically means it’s hard to find. And now that I’ve realized how incredibly popular this slow cooker “overnight chicken stock” recipe is I’ve decided it deserves a page all of its own! If you don’t already own a slow cooker I like to give people plenty of reasons to buy one because I love mine (we use this basic, inexpensive slow cooker) and use it quite frequently for everything from “Flank Steak Fajitas” to “Refried Beans.” But one of the best crock pot discoveries (thanks to a friend!) has definitely been this recipe below for chicken stock that cooks while you sleep using the leftover chicken bones from your dinner. I highly recommend using the leftovers from “The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot” recipe, but any chicken bones will do, and you’ll be amazed with the outcome. Get ready to say goodbye to canned chicken broth forever!
There are millions of blogs out there so last month I asked my facebook fans what other “real food” blogs they follow (and possibly even write themselves). Some of these blogs aren’t solely about real food, but they’re obviously doing something right to be inspiring others. So without further ado…here’s the list! And feel free to share any others in the comments below. 101 Cookbooks 52 Babysteps An Organic Wife Cannelle et Vanille Clean Eating Chelsey Deliciously Organic Eating Rules Elana’s Pantry Family Fresh Cooking Food Renegade
My husband’s family is from New Orleans so they get all the credit for introducing me to the unique and flavorful cuisine of The Big Easy. From jambalaya to crawfish etouffee to seafood gumbo…many new dishes have been added to my list of “favorites” since my first visit to New Orleans almost 15 years ago. And even though beignets are basically deep-fried white flour treats, they certainly make my list of favorites as well. :) Today I want to share a family recipe that came from my husband’s Aunt Vicki. It was introduced to us as a “seafood gumbo,” but what I’ve learned over the years is that this dish can easily be an “anything gumbo” instead. What that means is don’t go out and buy a bunch of new ingredients to make gumbo…instead try to use some of what you already have on hand. If you don’t have shrimp and crab well then throw in some leftover Thanksgiving turkey (if you still have some in the freezer like us). And if you don’t like bell peppers then just add more celery instead. My favorite dishes are the ones that are flexible so use this recipe as a guide and don’t be afraid to get creative. As long as you start with the suggested roux (butter and whole-wheat flour) it’s pretty hard to mess up.
A lot of readers have been asking lately if I can recommend any other “real food” blogs or cookbooks, and I think Deliciously Organic is your answer. It’s both a blog AND a cookbook…and weekly meal plans, too! And for one week Carrie Vitt, the lovely woman behind Deliciously Organic, is extending two very special offers to my readers. Here’s the deal…
This recipe could go two ways. You could make this dish the next time you have guests over for brunch, especially since the mixture could be made and put into the muffin cups in advance. Or you could bake a big double batch this weekend and freeze them for those busy weekday mornings. If you decide to freeze them with the foil muffin holders still on then you’ll be able to pop them right into the toaster oven. Or if you take the muffin holders off before freezing they’ll be microwave ready. Either way I do recommend taking them out of the freezer the night before so they can thaw out overnight. Whatever you decide to do with this recipe though I don’t think you’ll be disappointed…it’s hard to go wrong with breakfast food!
Don’t be fooled by these misleading food myths: A healthy diet means eating “low-fat” and “fat-free” food products…wrong! Michael Pollan basically abolishes this myth in his book In Defense of Food, and you can check out our mini-pledge post from week 6 for some detail. Mutli-grain crackers are better than crackers made from white flour…wrong! “Mutli-grain” is a misleading buzzword because unless those grains are actually “whole grain” the product is really no better than those made from refined grains (like white flour). It’s “natural” so it must be a good choice…wrong! If a product is natural it simply means it wasn’t made from any artificial ingredients, which is certainly desirable, but don’t forget that white flour, sugar, and even high-fructose corn syrup are all derived from “natural” ingredients and they are also all highly refined. Organic packaged food is better than conventional…okay, mostly true.
Thank you for contributing to our more than 4 million pageviews in 2011…it was certainly an exciting year! Below were the most popular blog posts and recipes. Please leave a comment with what you’d like to see in 2012. Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011 Free “Real Food” Meal Plans Real Food Tips: 10 Ways to Switch up your Kid’s Lunch An Elementary School Snack List – Nut Free Supermarket “Real Food” Cheat Sheet Real Food Tips: 12 Ways to Keep it Cheap Real Food Tips: 21 Ways to Plan Ahead for School Lunches Real Food Tips: 21 Essentials for Pantry, Freezer & Fridge Sandwich Inspiration (and my view on lunch meat)