Friday, March 27, 2009

Steel Cut Oats...

So, this isn't technically a recipe, more like an idea- but a friend of mine asked me the other day what I eat for breakfast, she was in a breakfast funk! So, I told her about my latest favorite quick & easy breakfast. You can buy steel cut oats anywhere, but I found my favorite brand of quick cooking oats and you guessed it- it's from Trader Joe's! I love this option because it's chunkier than oatmeal (not as mushy) yet it's filling and healthy!

Boil 3/4 cups water, add 1/4 cup oats (just like the directions on the container) and I add a handful of raisins, and/or some bits of apple. Cover and let cook for 5-7 minutes, until it reaches the consistency that you like, I stir mine every once in awhile to keep it from sticking to the bottom. You can add some sprinkled brown sugar or a healthier option: honey and some cinnamon. 

Breakfast Strata....

How about a little menu for breakfast items- the next few entries will be a few everyday items and some special occasion items. Here we go, for starters, this delicious breakfast strata, great for big groups like showers and perfect for holidays like Christmas morning or EASTER BRUNCH! The best part, you get to make it the night before (in 10 minutes!) and then you are free the in the morning while it bakes away in the oven!

8 slices of potato bread, cut into cubes (no crust)
8 cups diced ham
2 cups of shredded swiss cheese
8 eggs
2 cups of milk
4 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. dry mustard (you can use regular mustard if you don't have dry)
s & p to taste

Butter a 9x13 dish, layer it with bread, then sprinkle the ham over top, then the cheese. In a bowl whisk the eggs, butter, mustard, and S & P. Pour that mixture over the top of the dish. Cover the dish and refrigerate it over night. In the morning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake it for 50 minutes. Let it stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serve with: fresh fruit and juice!

Marinated Flank Steak...

OK, this is a fabulous way to serve a large steak to a group (anywhere from 4-12). It's a family favorite of the Zaballos' and we often have it for special occasions. It's very simple- marinate and BBQ! The longer you marinate it, the more flavor it will have. Minimal marinating: 2 hours on the counter top or 8 hours in the fridge- BUT for the most flavor- I marinate it overnight in the fridge for at least a day, but up to 3 days!!!! It's soooooo good!

2-3 lb flank steak (I buy mine at Costco, great prices- use one, freeze the other) 
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh ground ginger (the kind in the jar)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup pineapple juice (I keep a 6 pack of little pineapple juice cans in the pantry!)

Pour all these ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together. Pull out your flank steak, I like to cut mine into steaks (about 4-5 peices from each flank) and then put them into a ziplock bag. Pour the marinate over the steaks, seal it up, and pop it in the fridge. (seem time range above), I like to marinate mine over night. Every few hours, I open the fridge and turn the steaks over and shake up the bag. When you are ready, BBQ it over medium heat, let it cool for about 5 minutes, then slice it into 1 inch stripes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Balsamic Vinegarette..

Here's a great recipe for a simple, light, low fat salad dressing that you can use as a staple or make in a pinch because you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen! I usually double it when I make it so it lasts for a while.

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. garlic powder or one fresh clove of garlic
1/8 tsp. pepper. 

Put it in a jar, give it a shake, refrigerate it and serve with any salad!

Monday, March 16, 2009


So, recently my daughter turned 1 and I had a blast making her birthday cupcakes. I've had a few people ask me how I did it, and you will be happy to know it was SUPER easy! So, here's some quick tips if your are looking for a way to personalize and top-off your yummy little treats, thanks to ideas from "Hello Cupcake".

To start, I melted some milk chocolate chips in the microwave and then spooned them into a pastry bag (you could easily use a zip lock bag with the corner snipped and a thin metal pipping tip).
I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then went to town making e's everywhere! ( I experimented with different sizes and styles on a paper towel first!)
After the sheet was full of letters, I doused them in little round sprinkles. **Hint, roll the sheet around and trap them all in the bottom corner to "reuse" some of your sprinkles.
Then I popped them into the fridge to harden. I would keep them in the fridge until right before you are going to apply them to the cupcake because they soften up quickly.
Frost your cupcakes, and while the frosting is still tacky, use a spatula to pop the letters off the tray and use your fingers to gently place them on top of the cupcakes. If you want the sprinkled edging around the sides of the cupcakes, pour some sprinkles onto a plate and roll the cupcakes on their side all the way around BEFORE putting the letters on top.
And your done! Here's the finished product, you could get really creative with this- the possibilities are endless! Happy cupcaking!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Something GREEEN! St.Patrick's Day Soup!

Hey, this isn't the official St. Patrick's Day dish, but it is yummy, delicious and SUPER EASY... and GREEN- what could be better this Tuesday night for St. Patrick's Day dinner???? SPLIT PEA SOUP! I have had many a'bowl of split pea, and this recipe is the best, thanks to my mom, Debbie Doo- and it's so easy, almost nothing to it!

1 yellow onion
2-3 chopped carrots
3-4 chopped stalks of celery
1 large potato, or 2-3 small ones
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups dried green peas
6 cups chicken broth (or water if you want)
1 hamhock or pork bone
**1 cup diced ham cubes (if there is no meat on your ham bone)

Get out a big ol' pot cuz you are going to make yourself some serious soup! Chop your onion, carrots, celery, potato, and press your garlic right into the pot. Wash and drain 2 cups of dried peas and add them. Next, put your hamhock in (ask your butcher for one if you don't see one out) then pour in your chicken broth until all the ingredients are covered with liquid. Bring your soup to a boil, once it boils, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for one hour. Take the bone out, and if it has meat on it, cut the meat off and add it back into the soup and discard the bone. If you have no meat on your bone, throw it away and add your cubed meat. Wha-la! You are done.. told you it was easy... easy as peas, split peas!

Serve with: warm french bread or a la carte- it's that hardy and that good!

NOTE: I think the best way to make this is when you have a left over ham bone with some meat on it (aka after a big feast or holiday dinner) but if that is not the case, just get a regular pork soup bone at the market, and buy a hunk of ham in the breakfast section of the meats and cut it up into cubes. Then add it towards the end since it's precooked.

REHEATING: If you are serving this as leftovers, it's wonderful, you might just need to add some liquid, be it chicken broth or water, because it tends to thicken as it sits.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baked Penne & Roasted Vegetables....

Okay, it's been a while since I updated, and this is ONE of my FAVORITES- best pasta dish, hands down! I got the original recipe from my sister-in-law, but I tweaked it quite a bit so that the ingredients were things I actually had on hand- hope you like it!

1 red bell pepper
2 green zucchini
2 yellow squash
1 yellow onion
2 handfuls of cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. marjoram
1/8 tsp. thyme

1 lb. penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce
1 cup peas
1 cup parmesan cheese
+ 1/4 cup parmesan to sprinkle on the top

Preheat oven to 450. Put on a pot of water to boil the pasta. Chop all your vegetables from the first list of ingredients, put them in a large bowl, drizzle the olive oil and seasoning on top, toss everything so that it's evenly coated. (Check your water, if it's ready, boil your noodles. You can under cook them a smidge because they will continue to cook when in the oven). Get a roasting pan or cookie sheet (I use parchment paper for easy clean up), spread all the veggies on it, and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes until they are roasted. Take them out, scoop them back into your big bowl, pour the cooked & drained noodles on top of that. Add your cup of peas, your marinara (I use the Vodka sauce from Trader Joe's, it's great in this recipe) and your cup of parmesan cheese. Mix that all together. Spray a 9x13 glass dish (or split it in two different dishes if you want) pour the pasta in and sprinkle your remaining parmesan cheese on top. Pop it back in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown on top. Enjoy- I know you will!!!