Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tiny Chef

I mentioned on my Instagram feed (follow me if you don't already: eguill3) when I made this dish that I hardly cook alone anymore.  Rex loves to help me in the kitchen.  As soon as he notices me in there pulling out ingredients and starting to prep he inquires, "Mama, you cooking dinner time?"  Shortly after my confirmation he makes his way to the pantry and pulls out his step stool and puts himself right in the mix.  Normally his first choice is to place himself somewhere in the kitchen that is unsafe, inconvenient and detrimental to my progress.  It usually takes a bit of adjusting on my end and then we are ready to conquer the recipe together.  This particular dish required a bunch of chopping, which of course Rex was more than eager to participate in.  We had to bring in his wooden knife from the toy box, but after he had the right tools he was steadily on his way to claiming his spot as my all time favorite sous chef!

Rex's Veggie Prep Shot from Instagram

Chicken and Vegetable Soup Recipe
Adapted from Cooking Light October 2012


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup sliced baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta) 
  • 5 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast 
  • 2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)


1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through thyme) to pan; sauté 4 minutes.

 Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil.

2.  Add pasta and beans;

cook 5 minutes. Stir in chicken,

and sprinkle with cheese.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Craving Crab

I don't cook with Crab much.  It really is a shame because I adore the flavor of delicate lump crabmeat, but a pound of crabmeat is just so expensive that I can't justify it unless it is for a special occasion.  I made an exception for this recipe because it looked so very delicious.  I love lettuce wraps and I love grilled corn so I figured crab meat would just take this to a whole new level.  Even though this was a very expensive weeknight meal, it truly was worth the money.  It was a nice change in the usual weeknight rotation and it was a great tasting meal!

Corn and Crab Lettuce Wraps
Cooking Light September 2010



  • 5 ears shucked corn
  • 1 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell pepper, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 16 ounces lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 
  • 3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 12 Boston lettuce leaves



1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Place corn in pan; cook 8 minutes or until slightly charred, turning frequently. Cool slightly. Cut kernels from ears of corn; place in a large bowl. Add bell peppers, green onions and stir to combine.

Gently add crabmeat  to corn mixture; toss gently to combine.

2. Combine lime juice, mayonnaise, black pepper, salt, and ground red pepper in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

 Pour dressing over crab mixture;

 toss gently to coat.

 Serve salad over lettuce leaves.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Trump Card Casserole

My Mom is a school teacher.  And for me as a person who works year round and has little patience for stranger's children, by far the most appealing part of that profession in my opinion is the summers off ;-)  Oddly enough, that is the thorn in my Mother's side.  Although she always welcomes the break from the school year come late May, she is normally going stir crazy two weeks in to her summer break.  She doesn't sit well and after the first few weeks of furiously working her way through stacks of novels as tall as she is, she is normally ready to pull her hair out.  So she basically plays tourist in her own city for the rest of the summer months.  She and one of her other teacher friends attend every NOMA art exhibit, take every French Quarter tour and dine at several local restuarants to keep busy during the days.

On one of her French Quarter excursions she picked up a very "souvenirish" gift for me, but something so neat that I was ecstatic to be the recipient.  It was a deck of playing cards called "Deck 'o Meals, 52 Creole recipes".  The deck of cards had more to offer than just 52 classic creole recipes, the recipes had to fit on one side of a standard playing card so they were all very easy recipes with few ingredients.  I quickly thumbed through them and decided I would be making several of them very soon.  The first one I chose was this zucchini casserole.  I wanted to add it as a side for a weeknight meal, but this was so good that I immediately deemed it Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner worthy.  I made a few changes in the preparation of the recipe, but stuck with the original ingredient list and it was AMAZING!

Zucchini Casserole
Loosely adapted from Creole "Deck 'o Meals" Playing Cards


  • 2 slices of bacon, cut up
  • 8 oz white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onions
  • dash of garlic salt
  • 3 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup cracker crumbs (Saltines)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt


1.  Partly cook bacon slices.  Remove from pan and place aside in large mixing bowl.

 Drain all but 1 Tbs of bacon grease from pan.  Cook the onions and mushrooms in the remaining bacon grease.

2.  Add cooked mushrooms and onions to the bacon.  Combine the remaining ingredients.

Adding cracker crumbs and eggs last.

3.  Bake in a 2 quart casserole dish, un-covered for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Click Here for My Printable Recipe

Monday, August 19, 2013

Super Sauce

Cooking Light has some phenomonal Asian inspired recipes.  I have blogged many of them before and even mentioned how perfectly matched their suggested ingredients are for these recipes.  I like "Chinese" food, but can honestly say we haven't ordered Chinese since we moved in this house about three years ago.  And I think that is because I have more fun making my own.  I have made Chinese food menu type dishes several times over the last few years.  After having a bunch of Cooking Light Asian recipes under my belt, I feel confident about two things: they are insanely delicious, but there is never enough sauce.  I know that Cooking Light has to stick to certain guidelines in order to be able to deem their recipes "light" and I am assuming they need to keep the Asian recipes under wraps when it comes to sodium content....hence, the reduced sauce volume.  So for this recipe below and most others, I just double the ingredients in the marinade/sauce portion of the recipe.  Totally cheating on sticking to the nutritional facts, but perfectly delicious!


Beef and Broccoli Bowl
Adapted from Cooking Light October 2012



  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag brown rice 
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 (12-ounce) boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips 
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets 
  • 1 cup vertically sliced red onion 
  • 1 cup chopped carrot 
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions



1. Cook rice according to the package directions.

2. Combine soy sauce, cornstarch, and hoisin in a medium bowl.

Add beef;

toss to coat. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove beef, reserving marinade. Add beef to pan;

cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove beef from pan. Add broccoli and next 4 ingredients (through sesame oil) to pan;

cook 8 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. (Place a lid on the pot and steam for about 2 of the 8 minutes if you desire softer broccoli).  Add reserved marinade to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Add beef to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve over rice.

  Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Secret Sayings

Every family has their own inside sayings and phrases.  Those ones that everyone knows exactly what they mean and what they mean usually isn't what they sound like.  Just like in The Godfather, they all knew what it meant when the phrase was uttered to "take 'em to the mattresses".  We have a similar phrase in my family although it has nothing to do with war amongst rivals.  We are Italian, but not THAT Italian ;-)

Now that we are all adults we joke quite often about "Going to Popeye's".  This isn't nearly as delicious as it sounds and it has absolutely nothing to do with fried chicken.  It originated because growing up we had Popeye's for lunch on Sundays.  Sunday, as it goes, is the day after Saturday night and usually a day where you were in trouble for something you did one of the two previous nights before.  My Mom was a very strict mother, but she was normally calm and collected in her strictness.  She was the school disciplinarian so her parenting frequently mirrored that style.  She was gathered and diplomatic in her disciplinary actions, but oh so pointed!  She wasn't one to cause a big scene when we walked through the door late or forgot to call when we changed our plans (these were minor offenses, since one day my son might read this I will leave the really bad stuff to your imagination).  She wouldn't utter a word about it and she would let you go to sleep thinking you had won and you had gotten away with your dirty deed.  But then she would come into your room the next morning and announce you would be taking a ride with her to Popeye's to get lunch for the family.  If she said, "get dressed, we are going to Popeye's" you knew you were toast.

I am one of four children and we all talk about those car rides now that we are adults.  Each of us experienced our fair share of them.  The things she uttered to us on those trips to Popeye's are funny now, but they had us shaking in our boots at the time.  Those one on one sessions where we were put in our places were never fun, but they were very effective.  And to this day if any of us are "getting in trouble" in a one on one fashion we still call it "Going to Popeye's".

I do most of my fancy cooking on Sunday's.  I work and my weeknight meals tend to be less involved.  I save all of my very detailed or time consuming recipes for Sunday lunch and dinner.  As I stood over the stove pulling together this recipe (which by the way was easy enough to be a weeknight meal), I thought about those Sunday trips to Popeye's and how I would be depriving Rex and any of our future children of those life lessons if I continue to cook on Sundays.  I need to think up a substitute car ride I can take my kids on when they are teenagers, should they ever need it.  Any suggestions, Mom?


Guinness Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Cooking Light April 2013



  • 8 ounces uncooked rotini pasta
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 6 ounces bulk turkey sausage
  • 3/4 cup diced onion 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Guinness Stout beer
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2.5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces light processed cheese, shredded (such as Velveeta Light)
  • Cooking spray 



1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

3. While pasta cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add flour, pepper, and salt; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in beer; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Add milk and cheeses,

stirring until smooth.

Stir in pasta.

Mix to incorporate.

Divide mixture evenly among 4 ceramic gratin dishes coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Top with fresh parsley or dried parsley flakes and serve.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Shrimp Scandal

I love to eat dishes with shrimp, but hate hate hate to peel shrimp.  Luckily I have a very willing shrimp peeler in my home.  Forrest always steps up to the plate without complaint when it is time to peel shrimp.  And EVERY single time he is peeling shrimp for us he reminds me why he really doesn't mind peeling shrimp.  As the story goes, he used to peel shrimp during P.E. class in high school.  His P.E. teacher would pay Forrest and his friend $5 for every 5 gallon bucket of shrimp they would peel for him during their regularly scheduled P.E. class.

Now.....there are so many things wrong with this story I don't even know where to begin.  First off, that is highway robbery.  Five bucks for the labor that would go into peeling a five gallon bucket of shrimp is nearly slave wages.  Then there is the whole "teacher paying their student" factor in addition to letting them miss their regular P.E. class for his own benefit!  Those are all of the more serious issues associated with the tale.  Then the practical side of me kicks in and I start thinking about the minor logistical details, like where did he refrigerate 5 gallon buckets of shrimp before and after they were done.  Or what was he doing with 5 gallon buckets worth of shrimp, did he own a restaurant? Cook for a shelter?

Regardless of the wackiness of this memory, I am just glad it didn't turn my husband off of his shrimp peeling ways.  And I am happy it worked in my favor, because my going rate isn't even $5 bucks..... all I can offer in the end is a really delicious meal!

Shrimp, Corn & Chorizo Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light July 2013



  • 12 ounces large shrimp, peeled
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 ounces sliced fresh Mexican chorizo sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 12 red grape tomatoes, halved and divided
  • 12 yellow teardrop tomatoes, halved and divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice



1. Combine green onions, garlic, corn and tomatoes in one bowl.

Combine Shrimp, Chorizo, Sriracha, and salt in another bowl.

Stir to distribute Sriracha.  Combine both bowls of the two mixtures.  Add 1/4 cup minus 1 Tbs chopped basil; toss shrimp mixture gently to combine.

2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp mixture to pan, and cook for 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and sausage is cooked, stirring frequently. Place about 1 1/2 cups shrimp mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls, and sprinkle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, 6 tomato halves, and a sprinkle of the remaining chopped basil.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Craving Creoles

It is hard to imagine a New Orleans summer being known for anything other than its oppressive heat.  Surely if you aren't a local that is how you would most rapidly associate our summer months.  Shoot, even if you are a local, it is pretty hard to deny this place is hot - really hot!  But I think foodie New Orleanians (aren't all New Orleanians foodies?) have two things to get us through these rough hot months of summer: snowballs and creoles.  Creole tomatoes are the delicacy of the summer months here in New Orleans and it is hard not to be totally addicted to these thick, meaty, juicy, bright red tomatoes.  I don't even really like tomatoes, but I can't get enough of the perfect creoles offered in South Louisiana.  You can find them anywhere from the local supermarkets and roadside stands to your Great Uncle's backyard garden. I don't remember a summer day growing up where my Grannie didn't have at least three creoles resting on her windowsill above her kitchen sink just waiting for their turn in the daily rotation of creole tomato sandwiches or creole tomato salad.

I have been buying a few creole tomatoes each week and finding different ways to incorporate them into our weekly dinners.  I have exhausted the more expected combinations and was thrilled when I came across this recipe.  It advertises this dressing as "tomato's new best friend" and I new immediately which type of tomato would round out this "friendship" perfectly.

Cucumber Basil Buttermilk Dressing
Adapted from Southern Living June 2013



  • 4 cups peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced cucumbers (about 4 large cucumbers)
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Non-Fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion; do not use juice)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated garlic (about 3 large garlic cloves)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 


Toss together first 2 ingredients; drain in a colander 30 minutes.

Mix together yogurt and next 9 ingredients using a rubber spatula.

Until well combined.

Stir in cucumbers; let stand 30 minutes.

Cut thick tomato slices and server dressing drenched over the top.  Finish with a sprinkle of fresh basil and cracked black pepper.  Refrigerate dressing for up to 2 days.   This makes a TON of dressing, so halve the recipe if you are only looking to serve this once.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe