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D loves pancakes, they’re his most requested weekend breakfast. One of the reasons that I got this new cook book was because the pancake recipe looked so good. We’re trying very hard to eat much healthier, and this cook book Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Lifeseemed the best way to start. Her philosophy on eating healthy, common sense, quality ingrediants, and skill instead of diets and an avoidance of the no fat full of chemicals food, resonated very well with my own feelings on the subject, so I grabbed this book up with some of my Christmas money. It’s every bit as nice as it seemed like it would be, and the pancake recipe was so good it’s now the new standard! The book was very reasonably priced.

These pancakes had the right texture, the right taste. They were delicious, and strawberry syrup was simple perfection. Don’t overcook the pancakes, they tend to fall rather quickly if over done. This was proven when I tried to cook them as long as I cook the usual ones.

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Whole Wheat Pancakes With Strawberry Sauce

3/4 c. AP flour

3/4 c. whole grain pastry flour or whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1 c. lowfat buttermilk

3/4 c. nonfat milk

1 tbls. honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, nonfat milk, honey, and vanilla. Coat a large nonstick griddle or skillet with cooking spray and preheat over medium-low heat. Stir the wet ingrediants into the dry ingrediants, mixing only enough to combine them. The batter will be somewhat lumpy. Use a 1/4 cup measure to ladle the batter onto the griddle or skillet. Flip the pancakes the whey are golden brown on the bottom and bubbles are forming on top, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cook the other side until golden brown, about another 1 1/2 minutes. Keep the pancakes warm in a 200 F oven as you finish cooking the remaining ones.

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Strawberry Sauce

2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, or 4 cups frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbls. pure maple syrup

Place the strawberries in a food processor and process them into a chunky puree. Transfer the puree to a small saucepan over low heat and heat just until warm. Stir in the lemon juice and maple syrup.

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There are a million ways to cook a good fish, and I’m not one to turn my nose up at most of them. Anything that lives in the oceans, rivers, and lakes is on my menu. This way of making fish is the one I always use whenever I need to know I won’t be disappointed. It’s got a perfect crunchy fried fish texture, without being unhealthy. The flavour is totally up to you, there are a few ways I make it that I like but it’s very versatile in what spices you use. The whole thing takes about fifteen minutes from raw to on the plate, you can’t ask for anything easier or faster. Grab your favourite fillets of fish (Tilapia is my favourite), any firm, white fish is fine. Flounder is what I’m using here. In one bowl combine three eggs, and an equal amount of the mustard you have around. It should form a gravy like texture when you mix them together.

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Add a good amount of spices, this has a mixture of dill, garlic, and jalapeno (no heat in it), and I added paprika. Isn’t it pretty? In another bowl, mix a lot of instant potato flakes (2 cups sounds right) with more of the spices you used in the egg mixture.

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Picture 370 A little olive oil in the pan is all you need. Make sure the bottom of the pan is covered by the oil, then cook the fish on each side at a medium heat for about seven minutes. How long you cook them depends on how thick they are, the fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork. They should be a nice golden brown, without getting very dark.

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The salad was very simple. Romaine lettuce, garbanzo beans, green onions, and strawberries, with a Paula Deen Vidalia Onion salad dressing. Very tasty!

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It all started off well, there was confidence in my stride and a spring in my step as I marched into the kitchen. “Who needs cook books?” I announced, grabbing things out of the fridge with abandon as I set out to make a healthy, tasty meal from what was laying around. Canned salmon, leafy greens, potato flakes (that’s right y’all, I love instant potato flakes and keep them around so there), some corn on the cob all happily jumped in bowls and pans with the sort of cheerful smiles you like in your supper ingredients. The salmon patties are fried in a very small amount of olive oil, cooked slowly over a low medium heat so they get nice and crunchy without needing lots of hot oil. The recipe below is close to what I did, it’s not a very exact thing so whatever you like will work. The corn on the cob was plain old boiled, and the salad… Ahhh, yum!

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It’s simple, but it was perfect. A few leaves of romaine, a few leaves of spinach, walnuts, cranberries, golden raisins, green onions, and pieces of

avocado tossed with Paula Deen’s Vidalia Onion And Poppy Seed dressing. A little flax seed sprinkled over the whole thing, and it was ready to serve. It was the kind of salad you end up being sad when it’s gone, and the main course starts feeling neglected. Fortunately, those little fishies made a come back with style!

1 can of salmon, three green onions chopped, seven Ritz crackers crushed up, somewhere between a half cup and a cup of instant mashed potato flakes, some dill, some pepper, and two eggs. Mix it all together, make small patties, and fry them in a little olive oil for a while on each side until they’re crisp and golden to dark brown. Very tasty.

Then came the world’s ugliest cake. After dinner, D and me got a sweet craving and I went rummaging. There was a mocha cake in the fridge, a batter I’d been experimenting with and never ended up putting together and frosting. Feeling lazy, I grabbed a can of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting out of the fridge as well and sliced up some strawberries. The cake was too thin on the outside, so I cut circles out of the middle and sliced them in half to make four layers. The frosting was too cold, the cake was moist from the fridge and when I tried to frost it the whole thing fell apart! Stuck it together anyway.The strawberries went between each layer on top of the frosting.

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Is that not the ugliest cake you’ve ever seen? This was after it slid around and fell over half way. It was so tasty!

It would have been nice to start off this project with a grocery list and a full menu, but that ain’t gonna happen. Most of the shopping was already done for the month when I decided to do this, and I’m almost up to the budget. D said that we could probably stretch the usual budget a bit if we needed to but I’d like to do everything I can without doing that. The challenge this month will be to represent each state, and use what’s already in the kitchen!

The first state is Alabama, and without further rambling here’s tonight’s recipe : Whipped Sweet Potatoes. What better way to start talking about Alabama then by bringing in sweet potatoes and pecans (that’s pee-KHAWNS) and putting them in a pink cup? It was a simple recipe tonight, nothing fancy while giving me the chance to play around a little.

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It was easy, grabbed one big can of sweet potatoes from the pantry and mashed them, then I added 3/4 cup brown sugar, a sprinkle of nutmeg, two tablespoons of orange juice, and one egg. The mixture is whipped together with a mixer until creamy, and it’s set aside. A few handfuls of pecans were chopped up in another bowl and mixed with some brown sugar and butter, and then pressed onto the edges of a custard cup to make a coating. Filled the cups with the sweet potato mixture, and baked it at 350 for about 40 minutes. It ain’t fancy, but it’s a nice sweet potato custard that isn’t loaded with white sugar.

The rest of the meal was improvised from what I had on hand, some flounder fillets poached in a broth of water, dill, onions, lemon juice, lemon zest, paprika, garlic, and pepper, with some cherry tomatoes thrown in a few minutes before serving.

 Picture 193A can of lima beans went with everything. It was a decent meal, a bit bland but good in a simple way that my tummy was happy about after being icky for a few days.

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After a lot of thought, the menu theme is decided on. It’s dorky, and sounds like an elementary school lesson plan project… It’s the year in US states! With a few days for holidays kept holiday themed, the rest of the year can be divided up into the 51 states (including Puerto Rico lest my darling leafy girl beat me), which should work out to about a week per state. To make sure none are forgotten, I decided to do them in alphabetical order. Nothing fancy, the rules are only that each dinner has to have one part of it be related to the state of the week, and that none of the recipes are ones I’ve used before. No gourmet food, just what I can find that makes sense for each state as I learn about it’s food history. Please join in if y’all ever feel motivated to!

What else could these strawberries become? The shortcake recipe is simple, and I only made a few changes to it. Grated a small bit of lemon zest into the dough, and I used skim milk instead of the half and half. It didn’t make much of a difference in texture, but a lot in the fat. The butter technique is the best! She says frozen, mine was in the fridge and it grated without any issues. Didn’t brush it with egg white either, don’t really want shiny biscuits. The original recipe was longer, but I didn’t follow the diretions about the strawberries. It was the usual sugar and fruit thing, and that’s often too blandly sweet for me. Instead, I took about a pound and a half of the strawberries, and sliced them all. Half of them I put some sugar on and put aside, the other half I used for the sauce. About a cup of low acid orange juice, a half cup sugar (your guess is as good as mine on the amount of sugar, it’s up to you), and the juice of half of a lemon with some zest went into a saucepan and simmered until the sugar was dissolved. Then the other half of the strawberries went into the sauce pan, and it all simmered for a good 20 minutes to blend. A few tablespoons of water and some cornstarch were mixed together and put into the sauce, and boiled until it was a thick, tasty sauce. It’s very sunny tasting, not very tart but enough to be cheerfull and upbeat instead of heavy and more of the same.

To put them together, the biscuits were split, and I put sauce on the bottom half, topped it with the sugared strawberries, and then put the whipped cream on the top. The top of the biscuit went on, and I repeated the sauce, strawberries, and whipped cream. Wanted to use real whipped cream, but we were taking them to D’s mom’s, and I was worried the whipped cream wouldn’t do well through dinner. That’s right, it’s Cool Whip darn it! D says the first picture is his favourite, because it looks like a puppy. (This is where we nod and smile at D, as if he was making sense.) (Ok, so it does kinda look like a puppy.)

Strawberry Shortcake Puppy

Strawberry Shortcake

INGREDIENTS
For shortcakes:
2 cups all-purpose bleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, frozen
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup half and half
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 425 degrees. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and 3 Tbs. sugar in a medium bowl. Grate 2 Tbs. of the butter on the coarse holes of a box grater into dry ingredients; toss to coat. Repeat grating and tossing with remaining butter. Combine egg and half-and-half; pour into flour mixture. Toss with a fork to form large clumps. Lightly press clumps into a ball; add a teaspoon more half-and-half to the bowl if dough won’t come together.
Turn dough onto work surface; press into an 8-by-4- to 5-inch rectangle. Cut into 6 squares, placing them 1 inch apart on a small baking sheet. (Can be refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.) Before baking, brush tops with optional egg white for a particularly attractive sheen. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs. sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool until warm, 5 to 10 minutes.
This shortbread recipe was originally featured in the USA WEEKEND article Very Berry Shortcake Simplified on July 13, 2003, written by Pam Anderson.

Strawberries What was I thinking? Usually the strawberry display doesn’t tempt me, they’re measly pale little things that look like they’ve seen better days, the sort you expect to whip out a harmonica and tell you how they used to be the big man on Wall Street with a trophy wife and 2.5 kids. These were big, bright, look at that colour! They smelled perfect, and before I knew it a two pound box was in my basket. They’re locally grown a few towns over, which is why they were so cheerfull! The only problem was I’ve never really made much with them before, unless you count frozen ones in smoothies. Told y’all some of this cooking stuff is new to me.

 Speaking of smoothies, the next morning was their first sampling. Smoothie Blender In they went, with about a half cup of low acid orange juice, three Dannon strawberry banana yogurt (it’s all I had on hand), and about one third of the blender full of ice.

The results Strawberry Smoothie In Cup went very nicely with one of our usual Saturday breakfasts, pancakes and scrambled eggs. The pancakes are really easy, and the one on top is always a heart shaped one for D (you can’t see it well in the pic). The eggs are seasoned however I feel like doing them at the time, these were a few dashes of a spice called It’s A Dilly (a combination of dill, jalepeno, garlic, and a few others I can’t remember right now). No salt in the eggs, I never use the stuff unless I have to when cooking. It always tastes saltier if you salt things at the table, and you end up using less. The butter is Move Over Butter, the only butter spread I’ve ever found that’s good for you and tastes like something with butter. Did I mention how picky I am about “diet” foods? Sugar substitutes, fat free version, fake butter, most of it makes me go running in the other direction. It’s very rare that I use any, and when I do it better taste exactlly right. Would much rather go with a different dish than use a substitute most of the time.

Pancakes And Eggs

 

The pancake recipe is included, they’re the tastiest every day pancakes I’ve had. There are fancier ones, but these are the ones I always mix up when it’s a usual day.

 Pancake And Syrup That’s maple syrup, the real stuff is the only kind I like these days. yes, I’ve become a syrup snob.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few dashes of cinnamon
a dash of nutmeg
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt together in a bowl. Make a small indention in the center, and pour in the egg, milk, and oil. Mox until ingrediants are wet, but be carefull not to over mix. It shouldn’t be very smooth. Let the batter sit for a good ten minutes, go throw in a load of laundry or bother the cat to give the baking soda and salt a chance to do it’s thing. Pour the pancake batter in whatever shapes you want into a pan with butter or Pam and cook at a medium low heat until the batter loses it’s wet shininess and starts to form bubbles. Flip, cook a few minutes more, and serve with maple syrup.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a few dashes of cinnamon
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt together in a bowl. Make a small indention in the center, and pour in the egg, milk, and oil. Mox until ingrediants are wet, but be carefull not to over mix. It shouldn’t be very smooth. Let the batter sit for a good ten minutes, go throw in a load of laundry or bother the cat to give the baking soda and salt a chance to do it’s thing. Pour the pancake batter in whatever shapes you want into a pan with butter or Pam and cook at a medium low heat until the batter loses it’s wet shininess and starts to form bubbles. Flip, cook a few minutes more, and serve with maple syrup.

 The menu isn’t happening today, it might tommorow if I can come up with one. It’s been an annoying week, and I’d rather wing it this time.

Shopping List

Milk
Eggs
Green onions
Garlic
Salad
Chicken breasts
Bread
Chicken

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This is the meatloaf that I made yesterday. It’s a simple thing, and as always my measurements aren’t very exact when cooking.

2 1/2 pounds ground turkey

1/2 large yellow onion

A few sprigs of fresh parsley chopped

Two pieces of multi grain bread crumbled

One egg

1 clove of garlic chopped

Mix it all together with your hands (there really is no better way to get a consistent meatloaf texture), and put it in a loaf pan. An hour and a half at 350 F will make it all nice, I pull it out after an hour and put ketchup on the top before baking it for another 30 minutes. Turkey loaf is delicious, it’s not all greasy and heavy like ground beef, and it’s smoother. The recipe is not exact at all, you can add anything to a turkey loaf and it will come out good. The important parts are the bread and egg, and the mixing it up. It ain’t gourmet for sure!

Roast chicken on Sundays is something that I love, it’s the perfect time for it. Grocery shopping is done on Friday, so the chicken is nice and fresh. The lawn guy we had before cut my herb garden down, but this Friday I grabbed a bunch of plants at the store and we have fresh herbs again!

                 

The chicken is simple, a little diced garlic, rosemary, dill, and lemon juice sprinkled over the top, big slices of onions in the pan, and a little olive oil. Into the oven it goes, to do it’s thing at 350 F while I attempt something that I haven’t tried before. D said he loves lemon meringue pie, and not being one to turn the nose upwards at a lemony treat I decided to find a recipe and try it!

The chicken was happily baking, so the next step would be to grab some lemons and get the juice out of the charming fruits. Like the corkscrew, there was no lemon zester in the house either so a grater had to do. Poor little things, don;t they look like they’ve had a rough day? Oh, the lemonanity! Juice, sugar, and zest starting to boil on the stove, it was time to separate the eggs!

                            

Juice, sugar, and zest starting to boil on the stove, it was time to separate the eggs! There’s something very graceful about separating eggs, it’s one of those little things that makes me feel accomplished for a moment. A reassuring bit of encouragement when doing something new was what I needed.

Hot juice and sugar into the eggs, and they didn’t cook! That was a really big worry, the technique isn’t a familiar one to me (y’all stop laughing, I’m new at some of this!) and it was nice to find out it wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected it to be. Aren’t these pink bowls D’s mom gave me for Christmas nice?

Whip until stiff peaks form, do those look like stiff peaks to you? The crust was a Pilsbury roll out, and to be blunt I don’t intend to try one of them again. It turned out bland and shrunk in a very off putting way. The idea was to have one less thing to worry about when trying a new pie, but the effort saved wasn’t worth the icky result.

It looks like a lemon meringue pie! Better yet, it tastes wonderful. The chicken was tender and juicy, and the pie set up nicely. The filling was only a little looser that was desirable, that’s only because it was getting later and we wanted to try some before going to snooze. It’s nice and firm now. The taste was perfect for our preferences, very sweet and tart from the zest. The meringue came out like… meringue, which surprised me as I’d never made it before. Light, fluffy, and not scorched at all!

                     

D’s plate is the one with the dark meat, his preference. It works out perfectly, he isn’t fond of white and I’m not fond of dark. He’s being kind enough in these pictures to hold the plates while I’m taking pics. The nice pic of the pie was taken by D, isn’t he good at it?

                                

Lemon Meringue Pie

Found on http://www.allrecipes.com

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. To Make Lemon Filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.
  3. To Make Meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.

To start, let me make it clear that only two burners on the stove work right. This makes cooking many things a challenge in itself, but we do what we have to do. Tonight’s attempt is chicken cordon bleu, which I’ve never made before. D (pscyclone) is a big fan of it, so here I am in the kitchen with my scary stove and some on sale chicken breasts. Right out of the gate there’s a problem, we have no corkscrew in the house. Neither of us are drinkers, me not at all and him only the occasional stout, so it’s not surprising that in turning this kitchen from the former bachelor pad into my domain, a corkscrew has been overlooked. D is now on a mission to try to figure out how to get the cork out of the white wine.

Success! A multi tool was located in the garage, he’s a man of many blades, and we have wine.
 
Now the toothpicks have gone missing. From the proclaimed confusion of the whole household, a toothpick thief must have claimed them while we were out as not one single splinter is to be found anywhere. Right! Thread it is, and let me state here that neatly securing the edges of raw chicken with toothpicks is much different than trying to wrestle thread around ham, cheese, and annoyed chicken. Tied up and into the flour and paprika they go, and from there it’s a small flop into the simmering butter. The soundtrack is Johnny Cash, as it usually is around our house.
 

The chicken is browning nicely, no scorching of the butter and in goes the wine. Woosh! Always been very fond of that sound, when the liquid hits the fats and everything smells delicious as it rises in a beautiful plume from the pan. The cream, the decadent cream, mixed in with the wine and butter perfectly, and what I was at first worried was too dark turned a beautiful warm colour. Poured over the chicken breasts, it made me feel like a real cook. Some green beans (out of a can), and Cuban bread from the grocery store’s bakery were added, and this is the result. The taste is so good that I couldn’t be more pleased. The sauce was scoop it up with the bread, lick your fingers good (not that I’d ever *ahem* do such an uncouth, unladylike thing), and I’m pretty sure from the look of it that D licked his plate clean. He pronounced it a success!

The recipe, found on www.allrecipes.comas Chicken Cordon Bleu II.

Ingredients

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese
  • 6 slices ham
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
  3. Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve warm.
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