Thursday, July 28, 2011

My little carnivore ~ Grilled steak tacos!

As my readers know, I was a pescatarian for over 4 years. Recently, I started eating meat. I was never a fan of steak, but I think it's because I rarely had it prepared properly. Here's my take on some grilled steak tacos. These came out delicious! Here's the evidence:

Grilled Steak Tacos (serves 2)
6 flour tortillas
1 to 1 1/2 lb flat iron steak
4 garlic cloves, crushed
olive oil
good chile powder (I used ancho)
1 red onion
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
guacamole (I make mine with avocado, lime, red onion, salt/pepper, cilantro)
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
lime wedges

Combine 4 cloves of crushed garlic, ancho chile powder, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to make a paste. Rub paste all over steak and marinate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, you can prepare all of the other components. Slice red onion, red pepper, and green pepper (thick slices). Shred the lettuce and dice the tomatoes. Prepare the guacamole. 
When steak is ready to cook, place diagonally on grill. After about 2-3 minutes, rotate steak 180 degrees. Do the same for the other side to get nice grill marks - Cook until medium. Simultaneously grill the onions and peppers until tender. Place flour tortillas on the grill until they get light grill marks and are warmed through.
When the steak is cooked, place on a cutting surface for about 5 - 10 mins. Slice it thinly against the grain. Place steak slices in a tortilla, and top with grilled onions/peppers, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, tomato, and lettuce.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Backyard finds

I would like to share some photos I took yesterday of new things in my backyard! Watermelon growing, Lydia creeping through the garden, and cool green caterpillars eating my tomato plants.

Is this a doggy playhouse or a kiddie playhouse?? Maybe both :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Barney Butter Almond Butter Review & Giveaway ~ Ends 8/3

I was fortunate enough to win TWO samples of Barney Butter: the first was at a Twitter Party about healthy snacking, and the second was on the Barney Butter Facebook wall for tagging a picture of their products at my local Whole Foods. Now, I was a bit skeptical at first because I have tried other almond butters and I was not thoroughly impressed. However, Barney Butter Almond Butter is exceptionally delicious! It's also a healthy alternative to peanut butter. It is an all natural, peanut-free, gluten-free product. Here are the facts when compared to peanut butter:

As soon as I opened my package, I tried it and immediately looked at their website to feel inspired to create my own almond butter cookie recipe. They also have recipes for entrees, snacks, and other desserts, including gluten-free and dairy-free options.

Here's what I came up with today based on one of the recipes on the website ~ They are so yummy!

Barney Butter Almond Butter & Raspberry Jam Cookies
Recipe makes about 20 small sandwich cookies


1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup Crunchy Barney Butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Cream the butter, almond butter, and sugars together in an electric mixer until well-blended. Add the egg and vanilla until combined. Slowly mix the flour mixture in with the butter mixture. Divide the batter in half. Make 20 cookies that are one tablespoon each. Press all the cookies flat with your fingers so they are about 1/3 inch thick. Follow the same steps to make the second half of the cookies, only cut a small circle in the middle of each one. I used a cake-decorating tip to make the perfect-sized circles. Place all cookies in the oven and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Allow to cool on a cooling rack. Spread about a 1/2 t of jam on the complete cookie and place a cookie with a hole on top (to make a window to see the jam). Enjoy!

BUY IT!  Use promo code Almond20 to receive 20% off your order of Barney Butter.

WIN IT! You can win a box of Barney Butter Almond Butter
squeeze packs, great for lunchboxes and quick snacks on the go!

Mandatory entry: LIKE
the Barney Butter Facebook page and post on the wall "I was sent by Huppie Mama to win some Barney Butter Almond Butter!" Leave a comment below letting me know you posted.

For additional entries - leave one comment per entry:
1. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
2. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
3. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.

(*If you are already a follower of my blog, twitter, or Facebook, leave a comment telling me that - one for each)

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find youThis giveaway ends on 8/3 at 10:00 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck! 

* I received the aforementioned products for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Congratulations, Betsy, winner of my Barney Butter giveaway - picked comment #3!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

So, I baked bread...Now what?

Saturday I baked two loaves of honey white bread. I think they came out great for my first real attempt at making bread! But then... What do you do with two loaves of bread? We had some with Nutella, some with cheese, and some with butter. That was maybe 2/3 of one loaf. What to do the next day (or days 3 and 4)? Here's what I came up with for bread once it starts to get a bit stale.

Day 2 Recipe - Monte Cristo

Ingredients for 4 sandwiches:
8 slices of bread
8 slices turkey breast
8 slices ham
8 slices cheddar cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
a few tablespoons of heavy cream
pinch of granulated sugar
powdered sugar for dusting
raspberry jam (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Place butter in large pan (that can be placed in the oven) to melt. Mix together eggs, heavy cream, and granulated sugar. Assemble each sandwich with 2 slices of turkey, 2 slices of ham, and 2 slices of cheese (make sure the cheese is closest to the bread on both sides). Dip entire sandwich in egg-cream mixture, and place sandwich in large pan. Repeat to assemble all 4 sandwiches. Cook sandwiches on both sides until lightly browned. Place entire pan in the oven so sandwiches cook through (just a few minutes). Cut sandwiches in half, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with raspberry jam for dipping. Delicious!

Day 4 Recipe - Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

Ingredients for 2 servings:
1 ball quality mozzarella cheese
1 zucchini
3 tomatoes (each about the size of a baseball)
1/2 large red onion
4 - 6 thick slices of stale bread
1/2 cup olive oil 
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
about a dozen of your favorite olives, pitted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cube bread. Mix together 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss croutons in the mixture and spread out on a baking sheet. Place in the oven until toasted and crunchy (toss once mid-cooking). Cut zucchini, tomatoes, and red onion into large chunks and toss with remaining olive oil, remaining garlic, salt, and pepper. Place vegetables on a grill pan. Cook until both sides have nice grill marks. Cube mozzarella cheese. Cut olives in half. Toss together bread, cheese, olives, grilled vegetables, and torn fresh basil. Toss with balsamic vinegar (and additional olive oil if needed).

Two simple and delicious ideas for stale bread. Now it may be time for me to experiment with some other bread recipes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Planning Meals

I hate wasting food. This is one of my biggest pet peeves, especially when I spend good money on it. I also don't want to get bored with the foods that I prepare, so I decided this week to plan out 7 meals (and 2 desserts). I may eat them as lunch or dinners, but at least I have an idea of what ingredients I need (not just impulsively want). I tried to combine different proteins, veggies, fruits, and grains. I looked through cookbooks to get inspired to cook a variety of dishes.

Tonight I am going to Ruby Tuesday for my mom's belated birthday, but starting tomorrow morning, I am going to attempt to avoid eating in restaurants for one week. I think this will save us money but also ensure that we are making good dietary choices. If I find this to be successful, I will probably structure 2 meals a day. This week, we spent a little over $100 at Whole Foods, and we were able to purchase all of the fresh produce and proteins needed to prepare the meals I planned. (Although last week we spent over $200 at Publix, but that was mainly because we were missing a lot of staples, including paper towels, toilet paper, and other household products.) So here's the list:

Seven-Day Meal Planner
Queso flameado with flour tortillas and guacamole

Monte Cristos  with raspberry jam and a salad

Chicken Paillard with arugula and grape tomato salad, crostini with tapenade

Blackened snapper with pineapple salsa and cold orzo salad

Chicken cordon bleu with mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli

Turkey vindaloo with chana masala and brown rice

Pasta Bolognese (w/pork and turkey) with grilled caprese salad

Lemon cheesecake

Oatmeal cookies (from dough we prepared earlier in the week)

I hope my family truly enjoys the food that we prepare together. Lydia loves looking in the pots, pans, bowls, and cutting board. Richard has been really into preparing high-quality food lately, like nice steaks on the grill. Properly nourishing my family is so important, and I think we can find success in planning meals ahead of time.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Baking Bread

Several years ago, I said that I was going to try to bake my own breads. I baked one, it wasn't too good, and I quickly gave up. Last Black Friday, I got a Kitchenaid Mixer, and a few months ago, I got a bread hook from CSN Stores. I was watching Barefoot Contessa about a week ago on the Food Network, and she made what looked like a really simple recipe for Honey White Bread. Since I've been eating more sandwiches recently, I decided I would try it out! Here are my step-by-step photos of my first real bread-making experience:

 This was after adding the yeast, warm water, warm milk, honey, egg yolks, sugar, and 3 cups of flour. This was kneaded in the mixer for 5 minutes on a low speed.

 I added an additional 2 1/2 cups of flour and kneaded in the mixer for 8 minutes at a medium speed.  I removed it and placed on a floured butcher's block. Then I kneaded it by hand for 1 more minute.

 Now the dough is ready to rise!

 The dough has risen the first time for one hour.

 The dough has risen for an additional hour in the bread pans. Ready for the oven!

 40 minutes later and out of the oven.

 Perfect Honey White Bread!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Vacation in Sanibel

This past weekend, we went to Sanibel. I hadn't been in several years, so it was a nice little getaway. Richard, Lydia, and I went with Jamie, Mike, Kayla, and Kyra. Lydia loves being with her older cousins! The first day of our trip, we drove to Arcadia, FL and visited the Peace River Campgrounds. This area is known for it's fossil-hunting. We went in the river, sifted through the sand/mud, and found lots of little shark's teeth and bones. For the most part, everyone had a great time! Lydia loved splashing in the calm shallow water.

We spent a lot of time at the beach in Sanibel. Lydia and Kayla enjoyed digging in the sand together and playing along the shore. I enjoyed wearing a bathing suit and not caring if I looked like a beached whale. I was 29 weeks pregnant and feeling great!

Of course, vacations are all about the food, too. We visited our favorite restaurant in Captiva, The Bubble Room. How can you resist delicious cakes like these?? So yummy!

My favorite picture from the trip is one of Lydia and Richard. They are so in love with each other! <3

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