Sunday, May 29, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: Okra & Sausage Stew


As promised from yesterday's post, today's recipe is a healthier version of a Southern Classic. I decided to experiment with okra tonight by making an okra & turkey sausage "stew". I actually combined a couple of recipes found on YouTube. The first came from Ateyaa titled, Okra, Shrimp, Sausage, Fresh & Dried Shrimp, & Crab. Click on the link to watch her video. She had a LOT of stuff going on in her version and since the hubby doesn't like seafood, I decided to omit all of that. The other recipe came from a southern cooks cookbook with a similar recipe which didn't have the meat but suggested to add the corn and stewed tomatoes. What resulted was a delicious blend that I made a little healthier by adding smoked turkey sausage instead of smoked pork sausage. I also used "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light" and cooking spray instead of the butter and oil. As stated in the previous blog, I am not a fan of okra or tomatoes, but I am finding myself experimenting more and more with new recipes and new vegetables. Even I liked this one. Try it out and let me know what you think.

A friend of mine from grade school saw the picture and thought that it looked kind of like a thick gumbo to him. That got me thinking again... I bet this would be really good over some rice and made a little spicier with some cayenne pepper. Sounds like a plan for the leftovers. Hubby and I just ate it straight like this in a bowl and man was it good. Hope you like it!


INGREDIENTS

2 packages frozen cut okra (12 oz)
1 package frozen kernal corn
1 medium onion - chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes
8 oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light
1 Tbsp flour (optional)
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 package Smoked Turkey Sausage
cooking spray


DIRECTIONS
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of light butter in large skillet.
  2. Add okra, onions, and vinegar to skillet. Cover and saute over medium heat for approximately 20-30 minutes stirring frequently until okra is no longer slimy.
  3. Add corn and tomatoes to mixture. Stir well.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and flour. Stir well to blend seasonings. The flour will thicken the sauce.
  5. Reduce heat, cover skillet, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Spray another skillet with cooking spray.
  7. Chop smoked turkey sausage and saute until browned lightly.
  8. Add turkey sausage to okra mixture and mix well.
  9. Can eat plain or over rice.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: Watermelon Lemonade Spritzer


Back to Monique's blog at YesDivasCanCook. This delicious drink came from her video entry to Recipe Lion, found here. I'm not sure if it was a contest or not, but she added it to her email for summer recipes. Since I happened to have some watermelon already chilling in the refrigerator, I thought I would try this yummy looking drink. It was pretty easy to make and tasted amazing! Of course I changed it a bit by adding a little coconut rum to it. Trust me, it was great! LOL

Here's the recipe, I hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
16 oz. Seltzer Water
3-4 cups watermelon – cubed
2/3 cup hot water
½ cup sugar (more or less depending on how sweet your watermelon is)
½ cup fresh lemon juice – equiv. to 2 large lemons
2-4 oz Coconut Rum (optional)


DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine sugar with hot water to make simple syrup. Stir until sugar has dissolved, set aside.
  2. Add chopped watermelon to blender, puree until chunks are gone, approximately 1 minute.
  3. Strain watermelon puree in mesh strainer to remove pulp and seeds over your serving pitcher. May have to use a spoon or spatula to stir the watermelon to press juice through strainer.
  4. Add simple syrup and lemon juice into serving pitcher. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour seltzer water into serving pitcher. Stir well.
  6. Add coconut rum to mixture and stir well (optional).
  7. Pour into glasses directly over ice.
  8. Garnish with a slice of lemon or a watermelon wedge and enjoy!

KITCHEN KREATION: Fresh Tomato Pie


Ok blog family, I know I have been missing in action lately, but I am truly blaming it on the fact that things have been really busy and hectic around here. I narrowly missed not one but two tornadoes this past week, I got to fly to Philadelphia to visit some family, and then had to come back and put my car in the shop. Wooo! It has been a crazy week...

So anyway, I decided to make it up to my dear hubby who has been so supportive and patient with the craziness around here. Tonight I decided to make my BBQ Chicken pizza which he loves and I decided to experiment with a new drink (the Watermelon Lemonade Spritzer). Thanks, Monique, it was AMAZING!!! I also tried another one of her recipes the Fresh Tomato Pie. Now keep in mind that I am NOT a fresh tomato eater at all and even I had to say, dang, this is good! Tomorrow, I will be experimenting again with an Okra and Sausage Stew (and no I don't eat okra either). Of course all recipes have my spins on them based on what we like to eat over here, so be sure to stay tuned!

The tomato pie recipe actually came from the YesDivasCanCook blog email, but she said that she will put up the video in a few weeks. Here is my slightly adapted version of her recipe. If you like tomatoes or even if you like Italian food, you have GOT to taste this! It tasted like everything that should go in spaghetti without the actual pasta. Hubby gave this recipe two thumbs up and as the self-proclaimed tomato hater of the family, I even had to admit it turned out really delicious. Hope you like it.


INGREDIENTS

Pie Crust
5 tomatoes, seeded & diced
1/2 small red or yellow onion Рsaut̩ed
1 clove garlic - minced
3 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup Light Mayonnaise
1/2 cup fat free mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
fresh basil, chopped (optional)
cooking spray


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Press pie dough into 9-inch pie dish plate and poke holes in crust to prevent crust from rising.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden.
  4. Sauté onions in skillet using cooking spray until tender.
  5. Add minced garlic to onions and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Stir well.
  6. Season diced tomatoes and onions with Italian seasoning, oregano, salt & pepper. Stir well to coat the seasonings. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and spread evenly.
  8. Mix mayonnaise and cheeses in small bowl.
  9. Spread mixture evenly over the onion and tomato mixture.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.
  11. Top with fresh, chopped basil (optional)
  12. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.
  13. Serve warm or cold.

NEW NOTE: Hubby just had his 2nd piece and said, "Babe, you just made a pie out of tomatoes and it's the freakin' bomb!" LOL

I just entered all the data for this recipe into the SparkPeople recipe calculator and 1 serving (1/8 of pie) is only 221 calories! It would probably be even less if I used fat free mayo (may have to try that next time).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!


Wishing all of the mothers out there a blessed & happy Mother's Day today!
Whether you are a birth mother, an adoptive mother, a grandmother, sister, aunt, or cousin who is taking care of & raising children, I wish you a wonderful & relaxing day today. You definitely deserve it for all that you do and as a child to a wonderful mother, we appreciate you!

A lot has happened between Mother's Day of 2010 and Mother's Day of 2011. I can honestly say that I am so happy & blessed to have a mother who loves me enough to drop everything and to come take care of me, to sit by my bedside, and to pray for me. Thank God I have a praying mother, not sure where I would be right now if I didn't have her interceding to the Lord on my behalf.

That being said, we took another Mother's Day picture in front of her house this year. I look at this picture and I'm amazed when I look at the picture from last year where we are in almost the exact same pose. Can't wait to see next year's picture. What a difference a year can make...



Friday, May 6, 2011

TGIF Music Blast: Adele - Rolling In The Deep



Ok, this has been my favorite song of the week. This is Adele's first and lead single from her sophomore album "21".
Let me tell you, I have been singing this song at the top of my lungs off and on all week. I love Adele's voice. It is so sultry and soulful and the words to this song are amazing. Check it out, you'll find yourself tapping your foot to the old feel of this song.

There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch, and it's bringing me out the dark
Finally I can see you crystal clear
Go ahead and sell me out and I'll lay your shit bare
See how I'll leave with every piece of you
Don't underestimate the things that I will do
There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch
And it's bringing me out the dark

The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can't help feeling
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Baby, I have no story to be told
But I've heard one of you
And I'm gonna make your head burn
Think of me in the depths of your despair
Making a home down there
As mine sure won't be shared

The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can't help feeling
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hand
But you played it with a beating

Throw your soul through every open door
Count your blessings to find what you look for
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold
You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow

(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
We could have had it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
We could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
It all, it all, it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

You could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)

But you played it
You played it
You played it
You played it to the beat.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

May 4th, 1975

Thirty-six years ago I came screaming into this world. Knowing me, I was probably cold, hungry, and cranky. My brothers would tell you that not that much has changed since then. LOL

Today has been an absolutely wonderful day. I feel so blessed because of the health issues that I had last year. Due to my health problems, we had to place our adoption on hold for months and we are only now getting everything back going. A few months ago, I remember my hubby asking me what I wanted for my birthday this year. I told him that I didn't really need anything and the only thing I wanted was our baby. Unfortunately, he was not able to work a miracle with getting me a baby but I remain hopeful and prayerful that she will be here soon by the Grace of God.

That being said, I thought long and hard about what else I wanted. This blog is all about my adventures in the kitchen trying out new recipes and making old recipes a little healthier. I completely forgot that two muffin recipes ago, the motor on my little hand mixer went out. She had served me well for about 10 years or so and I definitely got my money's worth a couple of times over. So, when the hubby asked me what else I wanted, did I remember to ask him for the brand new, shiny, pink, KitchenAid stand-up mixer that I have been cyber-stalking on Amazon for the past month? Nooo, I asked him for a bread machine!
LOL
A bread machine?
Yup, a bread machine.
I had been online looking up all the fabulous things you can make with one, so when he asked me what I wanted, that's what popped out of my mouth. Did y'all know that not only can you make fresh homemade bread, but you can also make rolls, pasta, pizza dough, cookies, cakes, and even homemade jam in these things? I didn't know all that and I definitely had to get one!
The hubby, being the IT guru that he is, decided to stalk the internet and got me the Zojirushi.
In our house, it's pronounced, "The Zooo-ji-ruuu-shi"!
Hehehehehe
I love my techie and my test kitchen lab rats are probably salivating wondering what goodies they'll be testing out soon.

It is so awesome and I cannot wait to make my first loaf of homemade whole wheat bread. Yumm yumm!

Ok, so back to the birthday...
I started off by opening my awesome presents and getting phone calls from my wonderful family. I had a free massage scheduled from my chiropractor's office. OH. MY. WORD.
What was supposed to be 30 minutes of tension-relieving bliss turned out to be 30 minutes of tense awkwardness (at least on my part). Why so tense you ask? Oh, I'll tell ya.
  1. I've gotten massages before, but I have never gotten a massage from a man. Keep in mind that you are naked from the waist up lying in a dim room lit by aromatherapy candles covered by a sheet but it wasn't Helga smoothing the kinks out of my muscles, it was Sven.
  2. I've never gotten a massage by a man who looked like he could go audition for the doggoned Chippendales. Yes, ladies, you heard right. To quote my cousin, that man was "swole". So there I am lying on my belly, naked from the waist up and all I could think about was, dang, my rolls are showing. Should have had a few less muffins. LOL!
  3. To quote Jodie Foster from Sommersby, "You are NOT my husband!" LOL
Afterwards, the Chippendale told me that I had a lot of tension in my upper shoulders and neck. Out loud I replied, "Yeah, those are the spots that always tense up when I'm stressed."
In my head I said, "Dude! You are a dude and you are not my husband! Do YOU know what you look like???"
Aarrrggghhh
Never would anything that ridiculous have happened to me when I was young and nubile and single!
LOL
So after I got over the fact of this strange man rubbing down my fat back, I spent the second half of the massage wondering if he was single and if he would be offended if I introduced him to my single friend Traci. LOL!

So after my fiasco of a massage, I took myself to lunch at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants and had a yummy meal of Garlic Chicken with Stir-fried Veggies (my favorite from this place).
Then, I went to the Riversong Spa & Salon for a pedicure and an eyebrow waxing. After my spa treatments, I went shoe shopping!


Ahhh, it doesn't get any better than that.

Check out my new toes and my new blinged out sandals!

Last but certainly not least, I had a romantic dinner date with the hubby. We went to this nice restaurant here called the "Sapphire Bar & Grill" at the penthouse level of the Double Tree Hotel here in JC. It was really nice and offered a wonderful view of downtown. The meal was pretty good (if a little bland) but the view and the ambiance was wonderful. I also got a piece of birthday cheesecake. A wonderful end to an awesome day. I am so blessed.


So, while I had a few sad moments thinking about the baby who isn't here yet, the rest of the day was full of fun times, good food, and great shopping! Hopefully by this time next year, I will have a chubby baby to kiss for my birthday.

Peace and blessings!
May 4th, 2011

On another note, our Etsy store that we opened online is moving along. We are raising money for our adoption fund and are selling cute bracelets. We've sold two bracelets in two days, so I think that's awesome! Check it out!

Monday, May 2, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: Muffins, Muffins, & More Muffins!


I know, I know, right? I am on this insane cupcake/muffin obsession over here.
With my sweet tooth and our efforts to keep slimming down, I think cupcakes are the perfect way to indulge myself. This way, I get one perfect serving and I can still hold myself accountable. I won't be able to keep trimming "just another sliver" off of a cake.

So, Sunday morning, I woke up after this crazy dream where I was running all over KMart and Walmart looking for the brown sugar Splenda because I just had to make these muffins. Needless to say, when I woke up, I headed straight to the kitchen to make up what were literally the muffins of my dreams. LOL

Thought I would try something a little different this morning though. I made up a batch of the basic muffin batter and in a separate bowl, I used my ice cream scoop to scoop out four portions into a separate bowl. Next I mixed in blueberries, carrots, and chocolate chips. Yum! It smells like a bakery in here.


When I first headed into the kitchen this morning, I started whining about not remembering to get a new hand mixer. The last one kicked the bucket after the carrot cake muffins. I had it for probably 10 years or so, but it just couldn't seem to keep up with my new baking frenzy. I have to say, it served me well. I'm pretty sure I got my money's worth out of it. So anyway, I had to shake it off and remember, how did the women back in the day bake things? By hand, of course! So, I got out my handy dandy wisk and my spatula and put in some elbow grease this morning.

I am very happy to say that these muffins came out moist and semi-healthy. I didn't stuff them with the cream cheese frosting and didn't put any frosting on top. I just added the coarse sparkling sugar on top for a little extra sweetness & crunch. They came out really well, although I have to admit that I liked the blueberry muffins the best followed closely by the carrot muffins.
*HANDY DANDY TIP OF THE DAY: Coat your blueberries with flour before mixing them into the batter. It will keep your blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffin. Cool, huh?

Notice the pretty even distribution of blueberries?

Here is the recipe, hope you enjoy.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup blueberries (either fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup chocolate chips (your preference, I used 1/4 c. white chips & 1/4 c. milk chocolate)
1 Tbsp flour
Coarse sparkling sugar (optional)
Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line muffin pan with muffin liners. Spray liners with cooking spray.
  3. Combine the flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. In separate bowl whisk the eggs, water, and vegetable oil together until well incorporated.
  5. Slowly stir in the wet egg mixture into the dry mixture.
  6. Mix well until fully moistened.
  7. In small bowl, add blueberries and the tablespoon of flour. (This will keep all of your blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.)
  8. Using an ice cream scooper, dole out four servings of the muffin batter.
  9. Mix with blueberries.
  10. Scoop the four servings into four muffin liners.
  11. Scoop four more servings into bowl, add grated carrots and mix well.
  12. Scoop the carrot mixture into liners.
  13. Lastly, add the chocolate chips into the remaining muffin batter. Stir well and scoop into liners.
  14. Sprinkle sparkling sugar over muffin batter (optional)
  15. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
  16. Enjoy!
Makes 12 muffins.
Mine ended up making 13 muffins because I didn't measure my carrots out and had one extra carrot muffin.
Enjoy!
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