Smarter Than Pancakes

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rainy Day Picnic

A few weeks ago, we had tickets to Symphony on the Prairie; but just about the time we should have been leaving the house, the sky opened and we considered ark building instead. I’m not kidding you, there was so much rain that all of the neighbors’ yards were under water. The street was even under water a little ways down from us, and that never happens. The amount of water was crazy!

Of course I had already packed a fabulous picnic dinner, so we were forced to have a picnic on the living room floor instead. (It’s probably for the good of the blog that the concert was rained out because it didn’t occur to me to take pictures of the food until I was plating it on boring old plates to eat in our boring old living room.)

But just for you…

Most of our picnic fare on regular old plates!
Goat Cheese & Tomato Salad Wraps, Lemon & Quinoa Salad, and a simple Spinach Salad with Raspberries and a Red Wine Vinaigrette. (We had a few other things, like berries in spiced yogurt and peach lemonade, but I didn’t take pictures of either so I’m not going to post those recipes right now.)

Quick Lemon and Garlic Quinoa Salad
Serves 4 – 6.2 ww points per serving (But you’ll get in your healthy oil for the day!)

This recipe originally came from my good friend Ginny, but I tweaked it just a little to make it easier.

Salad

1 cup dry quinoa (Rinse in a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the bitter coating that quinoa sometimes has.)

2 cups water

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup carrot, chopped

1/3 cup parsley, minced

1/4 cup sunflower seed

Dressing

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used part Tamari and part Braggs Liquid Aminos.)

  1. Throw the quinoa, water, and pinch of salt in a 3 qt. microwavable container with lid. Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until the water is almost entirely gone.
  2. When the water is gone–stir, re-cover, and let sit for five more minutes.
  3. Prepare dressing in a small bowl.
  4. Add carrots, seeds, parsley, to the cooked quinoa, and toss well.
  5. Pour dressing over the top, and stir until well combined.

Simple Spinach Salad with Raspberries and Red Wine Vinaigrette
The Dressing makes 14 (1 Tbs.) servings and has 2.3 ww points per tbs.

My sister Dawn first made a version of this for me about 20 years ago, but I think her version had sliced strawberries and some other salad toppings. I had just gotten the spinach and fresh raspberries from my friend, Costco; and I wanted to keep the rest pretty simple for travel.

Salad

fresh baby spinach

fresh raspberries

Dressing

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup (scant) sugar

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dry mustard

  1. Combine dressing ingredients
  2. Arrange and serve

Goat’s Cheese and Tomato Salad Wraps

Serves 4 – 4 ww points per wrap

4 1/2 oz goat’s cheese, crumbled

1 1/3 cups tomatoes, seeded & diced (I used one red and one yellow for color.)

1 1/3 cups cucumbers, seeded & diced (I also peeled mine.)

5/8 cup green onions, chopped

2 1/16 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 1/16 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 flour tortillas — about 25 cm (Nuke them for a few seconds to soften before rolling if necessary)

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas.
  2. Divide mixture evenly between the 4 wraps, and enjoy!

(Here’s my hint for wrapping—Put the filling in a little line along one side of the tortilla. Fold the short side over and then fold the ends over. After that, fold the sides of the long side over by just a little—maybe half an inch. Then roll it the rest of the way up. It you do it that way, the filling won’t fall out.) 😉

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Ok, so I’m a Costco addict, and I’ve noticed that at my friendly neighborhood Costco (30 minutes away is neighborhood–right?) there are bags of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers for a very good price.  I’ve been buying bell peppers each time I run to Costco, so by now I have bell peppers coming out of my ears.  (Too bad my garden peppers didn’t fare as well.  Maybe next year.)

I present to you…

Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese
Serves 4 as a side dish – 1.5 ww points for 2 pieces

1 oz. soft goat cheese

1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded or grated

1 Tbs. snipped chives

1 Tbs. snipped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil, crushed

2 medium sweet peppers

  1. Combine the cheeses and herbs in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Wash the outside of your peppers, then quarter them lengthwise.  Remove the seeds.
  3. Throw them on your grill over medium heat, and grill them until they start to get crisp tender and brown just a little, turning once. (Maybe 8 minutes?)
  4. Spoon the cheese mixture into the pieces evenly, then put them back on the grill for 2-3 minutes until the cheese starts to melt.
  5. Yum.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome to my Birthday Party Picnic!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — shaye3 @ 2:35 pm

A few weeks ago, I posted an invitation to my birthday party; and invited everyone to come and bring a dish to pass! I started getting RSVP responses almost immediately, which thrilled me to no end! I love to entertain, and I love this entertaining even more because I didn’t have to clean my house one bit!

*****
Our lovely picnic will start with a lovely pasta salad from DD of Thoughts of a DayDreamer. DD’s blog isn’t exclusively a food blog, but she does frequently post recipes. I, for one, am thrilled to have her along!

DD says, “This is a simple dish, but very flavorful. It is something that I would and have taken to potlucks, bbq’s, etc. Normally, my aunt makes it for me, but today I made it myself. I was so glad that I did not overcook the pasta! lol You see, I am so not a cook…I usually just bake simple things, like cookies or cupcakes from a box. Anyway, if you want to know, I blurbed about my food experiment on my post.”

When asked about their usual and customary picnics, DD said “We usually just have family bbq’s. Everyone just hangs and catches up. Depending on the locale, we may swim in my brother’s pool, sometimes we play cards, horse shoes, basketball, and then there’s always birthday & holiday fesitivities!”

Sounds like fun!

*****
Next up, we have Turkish Pizzas from Elle at Elle’s New England Kitchen.

Elle says, “These are delicious and different from your everyday pizza. Easy to make, simple, nice to work with dough, and a great meat topping. Kids like them, too!”

Elle says that she likes to sleep under a shady tree at picnics, but usually winds up chasing her kids around. (That sounds familiar!)

*****
Next, Nikki of Canarygirl arrives with Lentil Salad!

Nikki says, “I’m bringing this salad. Not only because it’s freaking fabulous, but because it’s a dish that lends itself *perfectly* to an afternoon outside with friends. So, Happy Birthday, Shaye! MUAC!”

She also adds, “What’s my idea of a great picnic? Lounging in chaises by the pool of course. lol”

Save me a chair please!

*****
Next, we have my new imaginary friend Jessica at The Delish. She comes bearing cherry pepper chutney, sweet heat bbq sauce and jerk-style rub.

She says, “I love to make my own bbq sauce, and this time I used grilled peppers and sweet michigan cherries to make tangy, finger-lickin’ pork ribs. the flavor in the sauce inspired a jamaican jerk-style rub with a little sweetness and a little spice that pairs wonderfully with the sauce. the recipe can actually make two meals – or the chutney can be skipped altogether.”

Why would you want to skip the chutney???

Jessica says, We live in a county in northeast Indiana that boasts 101 lakes, so it seems like every picnic is at the lake. We mostly sit around and drink beer, hang out on the pontoon, swim, and break to eat. There’s almost always a poker game later on in the night. Cards, lots of cards. You name it, we play it.

I know they’d let me play because I have terrible luck at cards! Ask anyone who has ever played poker with me, you always leave with more money than you came with if I’m in the game! 😉

*****
Finally, we have the pièce de résistance! The Webkinz “Wishing Well” cake, and constructed by my friend Jen!

Ok, she actually made the cake for her daughter Hayley’s 8th birthday, but she said I could claim it as my own! Thanks Jen!

So thanks to everyone for coming and making my birthday picnic spectacular! I feel the love!!!!!

**If you would like recipes of any of the dishes we sampled today, just click on the individual links and visit my friends’ lovely blogs!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Baked Potato Skins in honor of the Potato Hos of the Blogosphere!

Well folks, Cathy at Noble Pig is having a blogging event to satisfy her obsession with potatoes. Now, it seems, that the third Wednesday of every month will be Potato Ho Down Wednesday for Cathy and several of her Potato-Ho friends. (And yes, I’m cracking up because they are self-proclaimed Potato Hos.)

Unfortunately, I’m am a potato slacker because July 14th is the last day to enter for this month; but you can see the results at Noble Pig on Wednesday July 16th! (Heck, if you’re a true potato ho, you’ll probably fix a potato dish tonight AND Monday, so you can just snap a pic and enter one of those dishes! If not, there’s always the third Wednesday of August.)

I made these potato skins for the first time last New Years Eve. I have to warn you, they are highly addictive! Normal potato skins are resistible, but the spiced oil that you brush on these babies makes them utterly irresistible.

And before you read the recipe name and question my sanity, you need to question the sanity of the folks over at Noble Pig because it is a requirement that you use your official “ho name” to name your dish, and I’m not one to buck the system! (In case you were wondering, your “ho name” can be found by combining your pet’s name and your middle name.)

And so, I present to you…

Daisy Elaine’s Tater Skins
8 servings
6 WW Points per potato half

4 potatoes, scrubbed and baked (I nuke mine.)

3 Tbs vegetable oil (Evoo is too strong. I use canola.)

1 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp paprika (Smoked is really good. Regular works fine.)

1/8 tsp pepper

1/4 cup bacon bits (Soy works fine.)

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

4 green onions, sliced (Or use some of those chives that’ve been taking over your herb garden.)

  1. Cut baked potatoes in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out the pulp. (Leave 1/4-inch shell.)
  2. Place on a sprayed baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the oil, Parm, salt, garlic powder, paprika and pepper and brush all over the skins inside and out.
  4. Bake them cut side up at 475° for about 8 minutes and turn them over.
  5. Bake them for another 8 minutes or so and then turn them right side up again.
  6. Sprinkle the bacon and cheddar on the inside of the cup part.
  7. Bake a couple of minutes longer until the cheese is melty.
  8. Top with sour cream and onions/chives.

(Feel free to leave off the sour cream and onions if you don’t like them. Or feel free to go nuts and put whatever you want on the nekkid skins. I think taco stuff might be good. Or maybe even chopped, steamed broccoli and cheese or something. They’re your skins, it ain’t none of my business what you wanna do with them!) 😉

I would also be remiss if I didn’t pimp my own Blogging Event! I’m having a picnic for my birthday, and you’re invited! Just bring some sort of pot-luck, pitch-iny kind of dish!
Click here for details!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me Blogging Event!! (And you’re invited!!!)

Filed under: Blogging Event — shaye3 @ 9:47 am
Tags: ,

My birthday is tomorrow, July 9th.
(Let’s not worry about the silly math problem of how old it makes me, let’s just consider me one year cuter.) 😉

Because it’s my birthday, I’d like to have a party–and you’re all invited!

I’ve always wanted to do a blogging event, so I thought I’d exploit my birthday for just that purpose. Besides, who doesn’t love a picnic? (Especially when I can guarantee that you won’t get any poison ivy or bug bites as a result!)

So here’s the deal–I would LOVE it if you would cook up a dish to bring to my picnic to share as a post. It can be anything you want that you would actually bring as a covered dish to a pot luck, pitch-in, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods. (You don’t even have to worry about being assigned a category like main dish, drinks, sides, desserts, etc. because those things always seem to work themselves out anyway.)

On your post please include a link to this announcement, say that your post is part of this event and that the event results will be July 28th. Heck, you can even copy and post a copy of the invitation if you want to! (There’s no such thing a party crasher when you’re inviting everybody anyway.)

Then email me at Shaye3333 at yahoo dot com and tell me:

  • Your name (the name you want to appear on the roundup post)
  • Your blog’s name
  • The URL that links back to your picnic party post
  • The name of your dish, a picture of the dish, and a very short description of the dish that I can post with the picture
  • Also, just for giggles, tell me what you like to at a picnic for fun. Are you croquet people? Or are you more casual frisbee people? Is touch football more your speed? Or do you like to picnic at the beach and then go looking in tide pools? I’d love to know how you’d spend time at your ideal picnic!!

(By the way, if you don’t have a food blog, that’s ok, too! You can still email me with a picture of your dish and everything except your blog info.)

I truly love my readers, and I hope you can all come!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Easy and Delicious Baked Eggplant (Aubergine) Parmesan

Filed under: Uncategorized — shaye3 @ 10:34 pm
Tags: , ,

Ok, I know that these are lazy days of summer; but I think I might have gone off the deep end. Last night we set off some of the fireworks that Steve got for Simon, then I collapsed into bed. This morning, Simon slept in until after 10:00, so we didn’t go to church. Actually, the breadth and depth of my laziness is evidenced by the fact that we do nothing every day now that the boys are home from school for the summer, yet I feel overwhelmed by the fact that I have two meetings at church this week. Tomorrow night I have to go give a report on the progress of the silent auction that I’m putting together for our church’s “Family Fun Fest”, and then Tuesday I get to spend the afternoon in a meeting with the state of Indiana to find out exactly what one needs to do to set up a church based childcare center. I know the childcare ministry is a good project, but unnnnnnngh! I just want to be able to sit around being lazy! My birthday is Wednesday. Shouldn’t you get a pass from boring meetings during your birthday week?

The good news is that there are still really good meals that we lazy people can make. This one is deceptively easy to make. You can serve it with spaghetti, salad and maybe some garlic bread.
Easy weeknight dinner!

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 4 generously

1 lb eggplant (Large eggplants have more bitter seeds. Do yourself a favor and get two or more smaller eggplants.)

1/2 cup mayo (Miracle Whip is NOT mayo and won’t work with this recipe. Light mayo works if you want to go that way.) 😉

1 Tbs minced onion (I used what was left of a red onion I had in the fridge, and I’m sure it was more than a tbs.)

1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (Or you can just use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs or throw any seasonings in that you want that add up to about 1/2 tsp.)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (PLEASE don’t stoop to using the crap in the green can, I’m begging you!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 425° and grease or spray two large baking sheets.
  2. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, salt both sides of the slices, and leave them to drain in a large strainer for a while.
  3. In the meantime, mix your mayo and minced onion in a little bowl.
  4. Mix your breadcrumbs, seasoning, and grated Parm in a shallow container. (I used a glass pie plate.)
  5. Now go back to your eggplant. Rinse off the salt and then pat each of them dry.
  6. Lightly spread the oniony mayo on both sides of a slice of eggplant, dip both sides in the breadcrumb/parm mixture, then deposit onto a baking sheet. (Or you can spread the mayo on one side, drop that side into the breadcrumb stuff and *then* spread the mayo on the other side if you want. I’ve done it both ways.) Repeat until you’ve covered all of the slices.
  7. Bake at 425° for six minutes, flip each piece over, and bake for six minutes more or until golden.
  8. Serve as is–or top with red sauce and mozzarella or provolone cheese and throw back in the oven to melt the cheese. (Simon has been known to make sandwiches out of the eggplant with the red sauce and melty cheese on garlic bread. I tasted it once and it was really good.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

All American Greek Meal

Filed under: Uncategorized — shaye3 @ 2:46 pm
Tags: , ,

I hope all of my American friends had a safe and relaxing fourth! We did the requisite picnic, patriotic concert, firework and parade thing on the third. After that, we were so exhausted that we just went over to some friends’ last night to sit around and chat while they set of their own fireworks. (If you want to see a few pics of our adventures, take a look at my non-food blog.)

For food pics, on the other hand, you’re in the right place!

I figured that you’re probably sick of hot dogs, hamburgers and the like, so today I’m offering you recipes for a few faux-Greek favorites of ours! On the up side, you can grill the gyro meat like hamburgers so you don’t heat up the house. OR, you can cook them outside like I did by putting your goofy Big George rotisserie oven (that you got for $20 at a rummage sale a few years ago and use constantly) out on a table on the patio so you don’t heat up the house.

Look! (Am I a small appliance dweeb, or what?)

Here’s a better picture of it actually cooking…

And here’s the finished product!

Gyro Meat

I posted this recipe on an internet cooking site about four and a half years ago. So far, it has 61 reviews, and an almost perfect five star rating. (You know you always have the yahoos who say it’s far too spicy or far too bland. Some people just have no taste.) 😉

Serves 6-8

1 lb lean ground lamb (I frequently grind the lamb in my food processor or meat grinder If I do that, I’ll usually grind it once, add the spices, then grind it again to mix them in well.)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 teaspoon pepper

  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl, and shape into 1/2 inch thick patties.
  2. Broil or grill 8-10 minutes until it’s about 165º to 170º inside and no longer pink.
  3. (Or you can make it like a meatloaf and bake it until it’s 165º to 170º inside, or follow Alton’s directions and make it on a rotisserie. I’d double the recipe if you decide to bake it or use the rotisserie though, or it might dry out.)
  4. Slice thinly and serve on pita bread with sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, feta cheese, and cucumber yogurt sauce.

Along with our gyros, we also had a Greek salad that was quite tasty…

Greek Salad Dressing
(No idea how many servings this would be, but it covers a salad made with a head of Romaine and keeps well in the fridge if you have extra.)

3 Tbs olive oil

3 Tbs canola oil

1 1/2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs red wine vinegar

1 tsp dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, minced

  1. Whisk until blended.
  2. Season to taste.

We also had hummous with pita chips. (Sorry, there’s no way to take a pretty picture of hummous–at least not that I’ve figured out.)

Hummous
Serves 4

1 1/2 tsp minced garlic

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

  1. Throw everything in your food processor and whirl until it’s smooth.
  2. Serve with pita triangles, fresh veggies, pita chips, potato chips, chocolate chips, or whatever you want.

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