Archive | May, 2010

Homemade Ranch Dip

31 May

Move over hidden valley ranch packets! I have got an easy and fresh 100% homemade ranch dip recipe for you guys! Perfect accompaniment for your Memorial Day BBQ’s! And, all the ingredients are extremely common, so you are more likely to whip this up without having to go to the store to get that one last ingredient that you inevitably forgot. I love recipes like this!

Took me about 10 minutes to make this dip and prep all the vegetables for this veggie tray I ended up bringing to a birthday party on Saturday afternoon. I placed it down with the rest of the food buffet style and everyone helped themselves. A few hour into the party, the host came up to me and asked me specifics about the dip. I explained everything I put into it and to her surprise she responsed “its not one of those ranch dip packets?” NOPE!! She then said “fresh ranch is always so much better than store bought stuff” to which I totally agreed! There aren’t any random ingredients that you can’t pronounce in this recipe! All fresh and all 100% natural! My favorite quote from the party was “I could drink that stuff” (referring to my dip!) Needless to say, it was a hit.

I was planning on posting a different recipe today, but since this dip got rave reviews, I decided to post this instead! Hope you guys like it! And, you can add in some buttermilk or plain milk to thin it out and have homemade ranch dressing too! Two in one! Have a great day off!

Homemade Ranch Dip
yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup real good quality mayonnaise (I use Real Foods brand-yellow and blue label)
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup finely minced onion

Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Serve with cold fresh vegetables, or thin out dip with a few splashes of buttermilk to make ranch dressing.


Sweet and Sour Meatballs

29 May

GUESS WHAT? I was bored with the old website, so I quickly put together a NEW AND IMPROVED site during my daughters nap time yesterday! I tried to make it more user friendly and more functional. I have a more obvious search bar and labels column to search through the site for effectively. Also, you still can become a follower and even see what I’m up to day to day on twitter! You can be as involved as you want. I appreciate every comment, every follower and every tweet! If you’re interested, you can check out the golokitchen store and see some kitchen items that I can’t live without! And with that, here’s what I have to say about today’s recipe!

Well, here’s another video for you guys, as per request! Please excuse the ‘um’s’! I was a little nervous (and I clearly hadn’t looked in the mirror before filming, but thats a whole other story…) Oh well! Its all about the food anyways, right? RIGHT?!?!

Anyways, I wanted to do a more summery recipe because its Memorial Day weekend and most of you will probably be outside grilling up your steaks and eating lots of fresh fruit…..
or something like that. As for me and my gang, we are still stuck inside because of this awful weather! Boo to the rain. Well, at least my garden seems to be thriving! I am pretty excited for all my tomatoes and peppers and green beans and everything else to grow and ripen so I can eat it all! But, don’t get me wrong- I’m still unimpressed with this weather. I’m supposed to run 12 miles tomorrow! TWELVE! Most likely in this cold rainy weather. I’ll let you know how that goes…..

So all that weather banter was supposed to lead me to why I made these sweet and sour meatballs tonight- they are stick to your ribs good eats and are ready to eat in 30 minutes or less! So easy a monkey could make ’em! I didn’t have breadcrumbs on hand so I did without, but I did write them into the recipe because I usually do add them in. The first time I made these for Gordon, we had already been married a year and a half. I don’t know why I didn’t ever make them before then….hmm….anyways in a nutshell he basically said ‘why have you neglected to make these for me until NOW?’ meaning: ‘these are so good how could you have forgotten about them?’ My response was: “I don’t know…I just did” (I was pregnant at the time and blame it on that–did you know that a woman’s brain SHRINKS in size 3-5% during pregnancy? I just read that today. Shocker!) I am all over the map tonight. Sorry folks. I digress.

Back to these cute little meatballs–they are so good! Like I said in the video, its the sauce that makes these little babies great. My mom used to make these in a crock pot and take them to parties as an appetizer! All you need are toothpicks! Also, she’s used this sauce to coat chicken wings in which is also equally delicious. Try it sometime! Just FYI, I’ve tweaked my mom’s recipe a touch to make it better according to my palate and I hope you all will do the same! If you don’t like something in a recipe, change it! Don’t be a wimp! Ok, after that pep talk, get ready for a fun few minutes of cooking in your kitchen! Hope you like video #2!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
yield:15 small meatballs; enough for 2 or 3

for the meatballs-
1/2 lb. ground beef (80/20)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
1/3-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

for the sauce-
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

In deep skillet, heat oil. In large bowl, mix together ingredients for meatballs. Scoop into small meat balls and roll in between palms to form. Fry little meatballs until browned. In bowl or measuring cup, mix together all ingredients for sweet and sour sauce. Pour sauce into hot pan to cover cooked meatballs. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 15-20 minutes. Serve over hot with rice or cooked barley if you’re feeling extra healthy and adventurous. Barley has more fiber and protein and rice! Give it a whirl!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

27 May

Its been raining here a lot and there seems to be NO END in sight. It will occasionally stop from time to time but then it just picks right back up again. I don’t know why I feel the need to make soup when the weather gets bad, but there you have it. Maybe its something my Mom did OR maybe its engrained in my DNA or something! That would be cool. Either way, I made a huge pot of delicious soup and you lucky people get the recipe!

It takes around 1 hour to get all the ingredients prepped and cooked. The hardest part is chopping and waiting. And, to keep the calories low, I used fat free half and half, but who am I to tell you to use the fat free stuff. If you need a little pick me up, then use the good stuff OR the even better stuff: cream! You’ll have to take a few things up with your hiney, but its well worth the confrontation.
Also, this recipe calls for a specific kind of wild rice: Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice Original Flavor (6 oz. box that is skinny and orange) It is very important that you use that kind because it comes with a special spice packet that flavors the soup. Well, I don’t want to force you to buy this, but in my opinion you need it to get the same result that I did. It was only $2 or so. That plus chicken stock, carrots, celery and onions doesn’t end up being all that expensive. Splurging on a little rice never hurt anyone! Plus this particular rice in this soup is amazing! After taking his first bite, my husband said “wow….this is delicious!” So, there you have it folks! Get cooking!
Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
yield: 6
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
4 ribs celery, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and cubed
6 cups good quality chicken broth
3/4 lbs. chicken breasts, cubed
1-6 oz. box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice
1 1/2 cups half and half (I used fat free)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
plenty of salt and pepper
In large pot, heat butter and olive oil. Sautee onions, celery and carrots on medium low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Pour in chicken broth and cubed raw chicken. Raise temperature to medium high heat to poach chicken in cooking liquid. Once chicken has cooked and become opaque, pour in rice and seasoning packet that came with the rice. Cover and reduce heat to simmer lightly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In small bowl, whisk cold half and half with flour until smooth. Pour into soup pot and reduce heat completely to low. Cook 10 minutes or until rice is softened completely and soup has thickened slightly. Taste and season accordingly. Serve hot.

Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

25 May

The idea for me to make these mini cupcakes has been rolling around in my mind for a while now and today was the day that I tested them out! Holy hannah are these babies good! I used a boxed spice cake mix and added in grated carrot and crushed pineapple! The carrot adds texture and the pineapple helps keep the little cakes moist. I’m pretty sure pineapple is in every classic carrot cake–at least it’s in all the carrot cake recipes I’ve ever made in the past from scratch……it’s totally optional though! I used to hate carrot cake because there was pineapple in it, but now I love the textures and all the spicy goodness. I certainly hope you are a carrot cake lover because in my opinion, this stuff is GOOD. I know the cake on its own isn’t THAT special, but that is where the cream cheese frosting comes in. Give me a bowl of the stuff and a spoon and I would be one happy camper. My cream cheese frosting is just like the chocolate cream cheese frosting I make minus the cocoa (NO BUTTER!) Why add in extra calories when you don’t have to? Plus, I like the tangier taste. This cake + this frosting = magic! Such a delicious combination. I love it. Did I mention I’ve already eaten 6 of these little guys? Ok ok……7.
Now for some practical talk–
Carrots and cake mixes are some of the most inexpensive things you can buy at the grocery store. I usually always have carrots on hand and wait for cake mixes to go on super sale and then I stock up! I also am in love with my mini muffin pan. If you don’t have one, get one. They are inexpensive and turn anything into a cute, bite-sized portion.
Makes for great party food! Think bridal or baby showers. Too cute! Making these mini is also an optional choice–you can make regular sized cupcakes, bake it in a 9 x 13 or in a bundt. It’s really up to you. This recipe doesn’t take a lot of effort especially when trying to impress your friends and neighbors. Now, find someone you love and get baking!
Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
yield: 48 mini cupcakes
1 boxed cake mix in spice flavor (plus the water, oil and eggs)
2 cups grated carrot
1/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained (optional)
for the frosting:
1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb. powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk
cinnamon & nuts for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to 325. Prepare mini muffin pan by lining with paper liners or spraying with non stick cooking spray. Set aside. In large bowl, mix cake mix with water, oil and eggs according to packaged directions. If your recipe calls for 3 eggs, only use two. Gently stir in carrot and pineapple. Fill mini muffin tins to be 3/4 full. Bake 12-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
For frosting, whip cream cheese with vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar and mix as best as possible. Whip in milk until the consistency smooths out and becomes thick and viscous. You want the frosting to hold its shape–not too runny. The amount of milk will vary so start with 1 tablespoon and work your way up. Frost cupcakes and store in airtight containers. If you are going to pipe the frosting on, I’d recommend doubling the frosting recipe.

Beaver Tails Recipe – A Taste of Ottawa!

22 May

Before you think I went out and hunted a bunch of beavers, cut off their tails and then fried them up, let me explain:

I was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada — the nation’s capitol. Isn’t it purdy?
In Ottawa and other select Canadian cities (and the Canadian Pavilion at Disney World), there are restaurants called Beavertails that only sell beaver tails–a fried dough shaped like a beaver tail and then coated in cinnamon and sugar or other decadently sweet things. I only ever ate them once or maybe twice a year if I was lucky. It is a definite treat and a real taste of home. I hear they are similar to elephant ears, but I’ve never had one or seen one being sold here in the states.
Now, let me put some things in perspective for you: I went away to school in 2004 to Idaho where I met my husband. That’s SIX years, people! We just recently moved to Oregon.
I’ve been away from home for a while. Of course we visit from time to time, but there’s nothing like food to bring you back to the comfort of home. Beaver tails are one of those foods for me. Warm, comforting and reminds me of home. I remember going skating on the canal with my family and getting hot chocolate and beaver tails. By the way, the canal is the longest outdoor skating rink in the world, pictured below.
So for whatever reason, I was in the reminiscing mood and decided to make some beaver tails today. They are just so tasty and satisfying to eat. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like a fried piece of dough. Its just so good. There are very few recipes for beaver tails online and the ones I did find were for a huge crowd so I just made up my own recipe that only makes 8. You can store the dough you don’t use in the fridge and fry them up another day. So, lets get frying! Its worth the wait!
Beaver Tails
yield: 8

1/4 cup hot tap water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 package quick rise yeast (.25 oz.)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
any light colored oil for frying (such as canola, vegetable or peanut oil)
sweet toppings:
lemon juice
1. In large bowl pour in hot water and 1 teaspoon of the measured sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top and stir. Set aside to proof, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in microwave safe bowl, heat milk, butter and remaining sugar to melt butter and dissolve sugar. Stir to cool–you want it to be a little warmer than room temperature, but not scalding to kill the yeast.
3. Pour butter liquid into yeast mixture and stir. Whisk in egg and salt. Stir in flour using 1/2 cup increments until it forms a dough. Knead dough 2-3 minutes until a slightly sticky dough has formed, adding more flour when necessary.
4. Place dough into bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Store in a draft free, warm spot in your kitchen for an hour or so to let dough rise. Punch dough down and cut into 8 equal pieces.
5. Preheat oil in fryer or deep skillet to 350 degrees, or medium heat on the stove top. Roll dough out to be long ovals that are 1/4-1/8 inch thick…or should I say thin. And, they don’t have to be perfect looking either. Mine weren’t:
Carefully place in hot oil and fry 20-30 seconds per side. (See recipe tips at bottom)
6. Once beaver tail has finished cooking remove from oil and hold the beaver tail over the pan to let the excess oil drip off of it. Then immediately coat in cinnamon sugar–a classic combination for a beaver tail. You could also place on paper towels and then spread on nutella as well. Another favorite way to eat a beaver tail is coating it in sugar and then adding a little lemon juice. So tasty! Be sure to serve these warm and fresh!
Recipe TIPS:
Your oil should be hot enough to get a medium to lightly dark brown color on them within 30 seconds. The dough will puff up, so you may want to cut a slit in the middle to cook the dough evenly. You could also press the middle down into the oil using tongs.

Garlic Bread & Spaghetti Pizza

20 May

Oh my good gravy I have created a big delicious monster of a meal for you today! I know what you’re thinking : “Really?! Spaghetti on a pizza?! Are you kidding me?” No, I am definitely not kidding you. I was thinking that we all love garlic bread with our spaghetti so why not just skip a middle step and combine the two?! I know that this is like carb city on a plate, but once in a while you’ve got to indulge. My little family has been sick and it was rainy outside so I wanted something deliciously warm and filling. Plus our bodies are currently fighting off some viruses so we need all the extra calories we can get…….at least thats what we tell ourselves………….anyways………….about this pizza……….
Its pizza dough covered in melted butter and garlic salt and then topped with a healthy mountain of tomato sauce covered spaghetti and lots of mozzarella for good measure! Are you salivating yet? You just think about the combination in your mouth for a second while I continue–
I made everything from scratch because I had the time but if you’re in a pinch, pick up some prepared dough from the market along with some Bolognese or marinara and some pre-shredded mozzarella. That will cut your prep work in half at least!
Also, as some of you may know, I really like to hide vegetables in my spaghetti sauce and drain my ground beef to decrease the fat and increase the nutrients. Spaghetti sauce is the best place to sneak in some grated carrot, zucchini or any other vegetables you happen to have in your fridge. I also like to use low sodium V8 in place of just plain tomato sauce to increase the servings of vegetables. I tell you, these little changes make the world of difference!
Oh, did I mention its a buttery garlicy bread like crust topped with spaghetti and cheese? This meal is as kid friendly as it gets! Pizza AND spaghetti in one! Incredible! And you don’t have to feel so bad about serving this to your kids either, especially if you were sneaky and added in some extra vegetables!
Anyways, this should definitely make your dinner menu in the near future because yes, it really is that good!
Love you all like carbs,
Garlic Bread & Spaghetti Pizza
1 lb. pizza dough (my recipe is found below)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 1/2 cups prepared marinara or bolgonese (make sure its a good one!)
1/2 lb. spaghetti or spaghettini, cooked to al dente
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
parsley for garnish
extra marinara for dipping those crusts
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread pizza dough out to be 16-18” across. Place on prepared pizza pan. Brush crust with half melted butter and all the garlic salt, concentrating on the edges. Bake crust for 8 minutes. Mix cooked spaghetti with 2 cups of prepared sauce. Once crust comes out of the oven, brush edges with remaining melted butter. Top with coated spaghetti and spoon on remaining 1/2 cup of sauce to keep pasta moist. Top with grated cheese and bake 2-3 minutes more until cheese has completely melted. Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes. Top with parsley if desired. Cut into pieces and enjoy!
Recipe TIPS:
-My pizza dough recipe is pretty easy! In large bowl, combine 1 cup hot water with 2 1/4 teaspoons quick rising yeast (1 packet) and 1 teaspoon sugar or honey. Proof yeast 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour (start with 2 cups and work your way up). Knead dough 5 minutes. It should be slightly sticky and smooth. Coat in olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot in your kitchen and let dough rise 1-1 1/2 hours until doubled in size. Use as desired.

Grilled Vegetarian Burritos!

18 May

Is it just me or am I posting a lot of Southwest/Mexican recipes lately? Its just so easy to do because we usually have all the fixings! We also love all the flavor combinations between guacamole, salsa, cilantro, lime…. the list goes on!

Anyways, I never was a burrito lover or eater before I met my husband. He made fried burritos all the time growing up (which probably explained the excessive weight back then–I didn’t believe it at first either!) Anyways, one day he made them for me/told me how to make them and then I proceeded to assemble and fry me some burritos. I’m such a good wife, aren’t I?! The conclusion from that day was earth shattering, mind blowing and life changing. Fried burritos are the and I don’t care how many calories they are! Except for today because I felt like switching it up and making them vegetarian and grilling them. I promise you won’t miss the meat! I’m a meat eater and lover and these burritos were totally satisfying (and under 300 calories!) The semi crunchy semi soft outer shell is pretty stellar on its own, but then when you add in all the other goodies, its just incredible. My daughter ate these suckers up…and she’s 15 months old. I’d recommend putting all the goodies/fillings on the table and letting your family assemble their own burritos and then……use a panini press to cook them all at once!! GENIUS! I was pretty excited about that idea….but if you’re a plain jane traditional type then you can use your skillet. But seriously though, pick yourself up a panini press–now THAT invention was life changing….much like these burritos.
**Side Note: This post reminded me that I used to sometimes call my husband Gordito…..I should do that more often. Haha.
If you have picky eaters at your table, then use the fillings they’d like. These were all the ones I had in my fridge today! Burritos are really easy to assemble and you can make it to ‘order’–just how you like it–my kind of recipe!
Grilled Vegetarian Burritos
flour tortillas
grated cheddar cheese
black beans
rice pilaf (Plain rice would work but see recipe tips at bottom for recipe)
sauteed Vidalia onions (you want them to be soft and have brown crispy edges)
good salsa
diced tomato
butter for the pan or panini press
Heat skillet or panini press to medium to medium high heat. Steam or microwave tortillas so they are soft and easy to work with. Starting with grated cheese, fill your burrito with desired fillings. Top your mountain of fillings with more cheese and fold into a burrito, tucking the edges as you go. Brush hot panini press or skillet with butter (don’t be stingy!) Place burritos seam side down and cook until golden in color and crispy. Serve warm.
Recipe TIPS:
-For easy rice pilaf, sautee rice in 1-2 tablespoons butter. Stir in correct amount of chicken broth, 1 large bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then reduce heat until rice is completely cooked, about 20 minutes.