Thursday, June 21, 2012

My 15 1/2 pound cabbage and Okonomiyaki.

Yes, you read correctly, it is a 15 1/2 pound cabbage that a friend of mine grew and gave to me.   And yes, those are baby cabbages growing underneath.  They were just too cute!  I couldn't wait to see what kind of recipes I could dig up to use this bad boy in.  

One of the first photos to pop up when I looked at Pinterest, was Okonomiyaki.  Trust me, I had no idea what this was either, but it looked pretty tasty.  Turns out, Oh-koh-noh-mee-yah-ke, is a Japanese pancake or pizza.  The main ingredient being cabbage.

Here is what mine turned out like. 

I'm sure it is a far cry from the original Japanese version, but it is my interpretation after looking at several recipes.  I'm happy because they were pretty healthy and quite yummy.

The ingredients are fairly simple for this pancake fritter thing. 

1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup diced green onion
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
2 eggs (lightly beaten)

and your favorite seasonings..I tend to always use..
Greek seasoning
roasted garlic powder
salt and pepper
I also added two dashes of soy sauce

In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, onions, carrots and seasonings.  Then add the eggs and Panko crumbs and mix lightly, just get everything incorporated.  

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add just a bit of oil for frying.  Drop the mixture into the skillet in about 1/4 cup little blobs and flatten them just a little with a spatula.   

Cook until browned on both sides.  It was probably about 3 minutes per side.   I like to place them on a paper towel or paper plate to absorb a little of the oil.   Allow to cool, just long enough so you don't burn your mouth...sometimes this is hard for me to do.  

The flavor of these allows you to use whatever dipping sauce you are in the mood for.  You can use pancake syrup or honey if you are in a sweet mood or use a ranch, sour cream or ketchup type dressing if you are in a savory mood.  I actually ate them plain so that I could enjoy the patty flavor all by itself.   Next time, I think I may either add a little cheese to the mix or top them with a little cheese.  I LOVE me some cheese.  :)

It's funny, this cabbage was SO big, all it took for this recipe was ONE of the baby cabbage heads off the bottom.   It's a good thing I like cabbage, because I have about 15 pounds left to eat.  Well, actually, I knew there was no way I could eat it all, so I gave about half of it away, but still have enough to eat for 2 weeks!  

Love what you eat and eat what you love.  :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cheesy zucchini cupcakes...yeah, you gotta try this!

Zucchini likes to test me every year.   When it comes into season, there is a nonstop plethora of the wonderful green veggie.  Pretty much you can use the old saying of, "I got so much zucchini, it's coming out my ears."  Although I absolutely love it, the overabundance causes me to experiment and find new ways to make it even more enjoyable.

This year, I saw a recipe for zucchini tots.  I actually called them cupcakes because I made them bigger than tots.  It really didn't matter either way, cupcake or tot.  Once they came out of the oven,  they were called GONE.   They were just what my taste buds desired.  I added cooked sausage to a few just to try it.  I loved them both.

One key thing you have to do is to get some of the moisture out of the zucchini.  I like to shred it and add a little salt to it, then just let it sit and the moisture will be pulled out.  You can also squeeze it tightly in a dish towel.  Just be sure to do one or the other, or you will have watery cupcakes.  BLECH!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix:
about 1 1/2 cups zucchini (water squeezed out)
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup cracker crumbs (I made mine out of Club crackers)
2 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan
large dash of garlic powder
large dash of Greek season
large dash of black pepper
1/2 cup cooked sausage (I only put this in half of them)
top with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese

Fill each hole to about 3/4 full.  Top with cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 18-20 minutes.  Until nice and golden brown.

Love what you eat and eat what you love!  :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My fashion drought is finally over.

After many posts on FOOD, I think it is time for some fashion.  I know that my idea of fashion may be 100% different than anyone else's, but I like to wear what makes me happy.   I think fashion should be what makes you smile inside when you wear it.  If you get a new top, belt, pants, skirt or even new earrings, if you love them, then you are enjoying a style moment.  Grab ideas anywhere you can and make you some style.  

Sometimes when I can't figure out want to wear, I will get the camera out and snap a few pics.  I recently had a necklace dilemma and pulled out the tripod.   My problem was that I fell in love with a necklace online then I found them really cheap and bought WAY too many colors.  Now I can never figure out which to wear with what and when.  

One of my faves is a pale yellow color.  I am wearing it below with heather gray, a color I tend to wear alot just because I LIKE it!

I also had the game of belt or no belt.  Sometimes

it is hard for me to decide which looks better.
I think if my belt had matched my shoes, I would go belt.  So after a trip to Walmart, I now have a belt to match, NEXT time.  

Here is another outfit with the pale yellow necklace.  The top is kind of a dark periwinkle blue, which was one of my favorite crayons growing up.  The white jeans are stretch and are soo comfy.   I forgot to get the brand, but I got them at TJ Maxx.
The shoes came from Rue 21.  The heel is pretty tall but still manageable.  

I like the blue and yellow together and felt comfortable in the color.  A very strange phenomenon, but some days I just feel a certain color.  I can wear a shirt one day and LOVE it, then try it on the next time and not feel it at all.  Try it on again later and LOVE it again.  I know I am weird but does anyone else do that?  hmm.

I pick up bits and pieces of inspiration for outfits as I am scouring the web.  This one I came across and it stuck in my head.  I used it with my new necklaces.   I love the white and stripes.   :)

So here is where I have too many choices.  I love them so much, I bought dark yellow, pale yellow, turquoise, red, blue, grayish purple and black.  The good thing is that my choices are endless.  The bad thing is that my choices are endless.   

 I hate to take too long to get dressed, so I am going to have to make some standby outfits to grab in a pinch, when I don't have time for the 7 necklace dilemma.     
The only good thing is that my hair and makeup take about 5 minutes, so I have time to spend on my clothes.

 I get so much inspiration from the fashion blogs I read.  Sometimes just a quick glance of a photo can make the creative gears start rolling.   Just wear what tickles your fancy because if you are happy in the clothes you wear, your smile will show it!


See what I mean about too many decisions.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eat all of the garden veggies in one bowl!

Garden season is here!  I know I sound like a broken record, but I am SO excited when the garden veggies start to come into season. WEE HAA!  This year, they are actually ahead of schedule.  We have had a very warm, actually HOT spring, so the tomatoes, squashes, and even sweet corn are rolling in.  So much that I almost have trouble eating all of it that I get from my parents and friends.  But I hate to waste food, so I am giving it my best shot!

I recently had sweet corn, tomatoes and zucchini that I needed to eat.   The dish that I came up with was actually pretty darn tasty.  I have grown to love quinoa, which is similar to rice, but healthier and tastier.  So I decided to mix all of the veggies into a yummy smorgasbord and even threw some sauteed shrimp in there. 

Here are the ingredients I used, minus the shrimp.  I just sauteed the shrimp for a few minutes in a little olive oil with some garlic powder and Greek seasoning.  

 Cook an ear of corn in the microwave for 4 minutes, husk and all.  While it is cooling, heat a large skillet over medium heat with just a little olive oil.  First add about a 1/2 cup of diced onions and a cup of chopped zucchini and saute until slightly softened.  When the corn is cooled, cut it off the cob and add it to the skillet with a couple of large dashes of Greek season and garlic powder.  Add about a cup of cooked quinoa and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes and cook a couple of minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in 1/3 cup of feta cheese and your sauteed shrimp.  

So many flavors were popping, I just loved it!  You can easily add yellow squash, bell pepper, green beans, shredded carrot...whatever veggie you may have in abundance.

Love what you eat and eat what you love!  :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Decadent butternut stuffed shells, lightened up!

No matter what I cook for myself, I try to make it as low fat as possible while still maintaining the deliciousness factor.  I don't always experiment on others with this super low fat idea, just because I don't want something to taste too bland.  I don't mind experimenting on myself.

I saw a recipe for butternut stuffed pasta shells, and my mouth watered immediately, so I knew I had to try it.  The problem was that it called for a whole stick of butter.  Yes, a whole stick of butter. That equals 800 calories and 90 plus grams of fat.  Another recipe called for a cup of heavy cream, also 800 calories and almost 90 grams of fat!  YIKES!  I think I can do without that, my cholesterol is already bad.   

I opted for way fat free cream cheese as a substitute.  So often, our toppings and sauces actually have more calories than the actual dish has.  That is one of the main things to watch out for.  Don't waste your calories on dressings.  Below are 3 of my favorite tasty cheeses for sauces and pastas.

For this recipe, I used a block of fat free cream cheese.  It will be used inside the shells and also in the sauce.   I grew my own parsley and basil this year, something that I am VERY proud of because I  usually can only grow weeds.  The fresh herbs really do brighten up a dish!   Chop a few leaves of parsley and basil very finely and mix it into the room temperature block of cream cheese.  

You will also need about a cup of cooked butternut.  I roasted mine because it is so easy, just cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.   

The measuring cup  contains stuffing for the shells.  One cup of butternut mashed well mixed with one half of the mixture of cream cheese and herbs.  Also add two heavy sprinkles of garlic powder to the mash.

I used the big shell noodles for this recipe, but you can easily use bow tie, fettuccine or any other that you may have in your cabinet. Just mix the butternut mixture into the cooked noodles and bake like below. 

Cook about 10 of the large shell noodles as directed on the package.  Pretty much I usually boil them for about 10 minutes.  Preheat your oven for 350 degrees.  Spray the bottom of a 8 or 9 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.  Drain the noodles well, stuff them pretty full with the butternut mash and place them in the baking dish.  Cover lightly with foil and bake for about 25- 30 minutes.

For the cream sauce, place the remaining cream cheese with parsley and basil in a microwavable dish with about 2 T of water and 2 T of feta cheese.   This cooks fast, so I started in 15 second increments.  Cook for 15 seconds, then stir and see if you need more water.  It needs to have a creamy but pourable texture.  

Once it is nice and creamy, place four of the shells on a plate and lightly pour some of the sauce over them.  Sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan and chopped parsley and DIG IN, oh yeah, you may want a nice piece of crusty garlic bread, that makes it much better.  I ate this last night, and typing this is making me SOoo hungry.   

Love what you eat and eat what you love!   :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Oven to grill RIBS!

Ribs are good, no doubt about it.  But, there is pretty much no way around it, ribs need to be cooked low and slow to get them to fall off the bone and into your mouth.  This is hard for me because I am what you would call a "speedy" cooker.  I like to cook things fast because Dang it, I am hungry.  I can whip up a meal and have it ready to eat in 10 minutes. 

So Sunday, being my day off, is the time I like to cook ribs.  That way they can cook all afternoon and be ready at suppertime.  I have found a way to cook them in the oven, then transfer them to the grill, just to get that grilling touch that they need.

I used a long rack of bone in pork ribs and cut the rack in half to make it easier to work with.  The night before, I generously coated the ribs with the 2 powder seasonings below, Southern Pride (Thanks to Bill for bringing me this yummy spice) and Strawberry's and wrapped them tightly in foil and put them back in the fridge.   I guess it would be an overnight powder marinade.  

For this recipe, the ribs will take 3 hours in the oven and about 20 minutes on the grill, so plan your day accordingly.   Set the oven to 250 degrees, place the foil wrapped rib packets on cookie sheet and get them in the oven already, I am hungry!  

After the ribs have cooked for an hour and a half, remove them from the oven, open the packet, and drain most of the juice from the foil.  At this time, for a little smokiness, you can sprinkle some mesquite liquid smoke onto the ribs.  Seal them back up and return them to the oven.

When the 3 hours is almost done, light your gas grill and get it nice and hot.  Open the rib foil packets and slather on some of the J. Earps Original Sweet Heat sauce.  I know Mr. Earp and it is too cool that he got his sauce bottled!  It is a great sauce, nice and spicy.  If you wanna try it, go to  I used some Sweet Baby Ray's because it is the bomb too.  Then sprinkled just a little of each of the powder seasonings on top of that.

Leave 2 burners on high and turn the burners off that are directly under the ribs.  They need the tops to get nice and caramelized, but not the bottoms.  Place them on the grill with the packets left open for about 20 minutes, like this...

The end result will look like this.

Cut them up and serve them immediately!  
If you have any dogs, they will be very happy, most dogs love rib bones.  :)
Love what you eat and eat what you love!  :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tilapia and cabbage, and everything is better with bacon.

I have been cooking alot of cabbage lately, mainly for its low calorie factor.  Eric, my husband, wanted to lose some weight, so he ate very light lunches, and I cooked him lots of fish and cabbage.   It was a big change from his typical steak and potatoes, but he actually said the way I cooked the fish made it better than steak, aww.  And he lost 27 pounds.  YAY!  

With cabbage, I typically chop it roughly, cook it down in a little water, then add a bit of oil and fry it until tender.  I sometimes add bell pepper and red pepper flakes, but I decided I wanted something with a little more POP.  After looking online, I found the answer...bacon wrapped cabbage.  When a photo of food makes me drool a little, I gotta try it.  

As a bonus, it is a really easy recipe to cook.   And like the saying goes...Everything is better with bacon.   ha!

To give you an idea what this will look like, this photo was taken about half way through the cooking process..

For starters, just cut your cabbage into about 1" slices or wedges.  The first cut off the cabbage tends to be a wedge, so I had some of both.  You will need about 2 slices per person.  Next, sprinkle with Cavander's Greek Seasoning.  This is my favorite seasoning.  It is great for veggies or meat...gotta have it.   Carefully wrap each cabbage wedge with 2 slices of bacon.  

Place the wedges on a cookie sheet.  For starters, cook them at 350 for 20 minutes.  Take them out of the oven and coat them with a little butter or if you are dieting, just splash them with a little beef stock. The extra moisture will help to soften the cabbage.  Place them back in the oven for about 20-30 more minutes.  Some people like their cabbage kinda crisp, so depending on how tender you like your cabbage, you can take them out sooner, just as long as the bacon is cooked.  I like mine cooked until soft, so it just kinda melts in your mouth.

I paired the cabbage with lightly blackened tilapia.  Tilapia is a great fish to grill, it is not too fishy and it holds up well on the grill.    Generously sprinkle tilapia filets with paprika, garlic powder, and Greek seasoning.   Spray the first side of the fish with cooking spray and place it on the grill over medium flame for about 5 minutes.  Then spray the second side of the fish and carefully flip it.    It takes about 5 minutes on the second side too.  I just usually make sure the meat is nice and white inside.  

Love what you eat and eat what you love!   :)