Introducing Creativity To The Alternative Diet: Many of us have segued from traditional dietary lifestyle to alternative dietary lifestyles, i.e. Gluten free, Vegan, Grain free, Real food, etc. What are we discovering?? These recipes are NOT mediocre!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tisha's Tasty Treats!

I was so impressed with this menu! I know I am late at posting it but I did actually make the recipe weeks ago and didn't realize I never said anything! I am not much of a rice salad fan so wasn't sure what I would think of this! I LOVED IT! My mom was in town so I made this for my mom and mary and it turned out to be a perfectly easy, perfectly satisfying summer meal.

I loved the shrimp although I did not soak my wood skewers so they kinda burnt a bit wherever exposed but other than that no worries. I really enjoyed the bold flavors of the shrimp with the balance of sweet and savory rice. I used more cocomut milk then the recipe suggested and less water just because I didn't measure but, it was super yummy. I also really liked that this menu could be used as a great entertaining menu and still didn't take long in the kitchen! Thanks to all! Now I am off to dream of greek goodness for next week!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seconds, Anyone?

Hello Ladies! Can you believe we are almost done with our first round of recipes? Three months! Time is a phenomenal thing... it will never cease to amaze me. There are a number of different ideas floating around for our next round but first I want to see if everyone is up for another round. If you are not, for what ever reason, that is really okay. I have enjoyed every ones participation but I know when life gets too crazy you have to start eliminating. So for now lets hear who's in or out. More thoughts and ideas to come! I am excited for the next round. :)

Serena's Salmon

I know I'm behind, but life has been CRAZY! I finally got to make the salmon. I only did the salmon and potatoes as I didn't have time to whip up everything. The salmon was delicious and I thought it went with the potatoes really well. The only problem was that I got to salmon too dry and it was my fault. I forgot that our little apartment stove always needs to be turned lower than the recipe calls for and food needs to be cooked a little less time. (I haven't baked a lot this summer.) My kids gobbled it down though (Juan kept saying - Mmmm chicken.) and even though it was a little dry, we still really enjoyed it too. I thought I would share Noah's prayer before the meal: Jesus, thank you for this salmon that gave its life . . . well, it didn't really give its life, it was taken . . . but thanks for it anyway . . .
Thanks, Serena. I will try again - it was so easy and quick!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Taste Explosion!

Hee hee hee. Well it was! I loved the greek food recipes! I went to to visit Rachel in California this last weekend and we decided it would be super fun to cook this together. So we did and I wish I could cook with each one of you because it was fun to visit and talk about each step, take the picture together (you will see our picture on Rachel's review) and then get to enjoy it together. It was great to watch another cook in action!
The Greek Salad was my very favorite- I will most definitely make that one again, in fact, I am planning it already because I have been craving it ever since. I loved the feta in the lamb and the potatoes were good. Although my one critique would be that I felt like the potatoes didn't really fit in with the rest of the meal. They tasted great but I wasn't feeling the greek vibe with them I was feeling the summer bbq vibe. Let me make one thing clear, though ... it didn't ruin the meal for me, that is for sure. I think I might have made myself sick from eating so much! We actually used store bought tzatziki sauce so no review on that from us.
Rachel chose a white wine to go with this and I can't remember what it was exactly so I will have to let her tell you about that. It was nice with the greek salad. I chose a Pinot Noir because I felt that with lamb we needed a lighter red and I really enjoyed that although the white was nice, too, I did like the Pinot Noir better.
I can't wait to make this again-it would be fun to have friends over for a Greek Night!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Aly Goes Greek

We made everything for dinner last night. This menu is perfect for us. Quick, easy, delicious! I did everything according to the recipes. However, I knew it would be too much to do the burgers with buns, so we just ate them as plain patties. We didn't miss the buns at all. It gave us the opportunity to really just taste the yumminess of the patty. And with the potatoes we still got enough starch to feel full.
Next time I'll use a little less olives in the salad. It was just a bit too salty for us. But that is what it's like to make a salad . . . the proportions of the ingredients have to be tweaked according to the size of the other vegetables. Now that I know what it'll turn out like, I'll know how much to put.
I can't actually think of anything else to write because I have no suggestions or criticisms or anything. Thanks, Carrie. I'll be making this again soon . . . and often.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Recipe: Greek-Style Lamb Burgers, Greek Potatoes & Salad

New Recipe!!!

I love summer burgers especially with a Greek Twist!

Greek Style Lamb Burgers
(serves 6 so just adjust accordingly, we usually half it for 2 adults and 2 kids)

2lbs ground lamb
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped and pitted Kalamata olives

Combine lamb, feta, and olives and make into six 1 inch patties. Season burgers lightly with salt and pepper to your own taste preference and then grill 7 min. each side for medium-rare or adjust time for your taste.

You can decide how you want to serve your burgers we've done it two ways. One is in pita pockets or the other is on Kaiser rolls both ways are yummy. Serve burgers with tzikki sauce (recipe follows) and they are good with red onion and tomatoe slices.

Tzatziki Sauce

16 ounces plain yogurt (Greek yougurt is especially good)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, lemon, and mint. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

We have made thit many times without taking the time to drain the yogurt, turns out fine just not as thick also if you don't have mint (which we never seem to) that's something we've at times omitted as well.

Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette (serves 4)

1 1/2 cups olive oil
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds large russet potatoes, cleaned, each cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, garlic, oregano, and parsley in a medium bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper.

Toss potatoes with 1/2 cup vinaigrette on a heavy, large, rimmed baking sheet. Reserve the remaining vinaigrette. Pour chicken stock around potatoes and season potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes until tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and more chopped parsley.

Greek Salad

3 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 European seedless cucumber, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chunked
1 cup Kalamata black olives
Several sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, about 1/2 cup
2 (1/4 pound) slices imported Greek feta
1/4 cup (a couple of glugs) extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons (3 splashes) red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in palm of your hand
Coarse salt and black pepper
Pita breads

Combine vegetables, olives, and parsley in a large bowl. Rest sliced feta on the top of salad. Combine oil, vinegar, and oregano in a small plastic container with a lid. Shake vigorously to combine oil and vinegar and pour over salad and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and let the salad marinate until ready to serve. Serve salad with pita bread blistered and warmed on a hot griddle or grill pan.

So for this recipe I prefer crumbled feta and don't do the pita bread when serving it as a side.

What's better after summer burgers then Watermelon for dessert!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sea Bass with Almond Crust

This is NOT one of our regularly scheduled recipes . . . just something I'd like to share. I don't know if any of you are into making whole fish, but last night I made some for my husband and I that was very nice. Would be nice to make (and so easy--no mess, hardly any chopping) for dinner guests. I adapted the recipe from Mediterranean Food of the Sun, by Clark and Farrow.

FOR 4 people use about 3 1/2 pounds sea bass, total weight (either one large or two smaller fish), cleaned and scaled with head and tail still on
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 powdered sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter + 1/4 more
1 onion finely sliced
generous pinch of saffron threads
Salt and black pepper
Lime wedges and sprigs of flat leaf parsley to garnish

Oven at 375. Grease shallow ovenproof dish with butter. Dish should be big enough to fit the whole fish.
Dissolve saffron threads in 1 Tbsp boiling water, set aside.
Make a paste of almonds, cinnamon, powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp melted butter, 4 Tbsp water.
You can use whole blanched almonds and throw all this in a food processor together. But alas, I have no food processor and opted to buy the almonds already ground and just mix it up.
Rinse the fish with cold water and pat dry.
Scatter onions on the bottom of the dish, add the saffron threads and water, season with salt and pepper.
Stuff fish with half the almond paste and spread the rest evenly on top of the fish. Melt remaining butter and pour over fish. Then bake, uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes, until the fish is done and the almond top is crusty.
Move fish to a serving platter. Arrange onion mixture around the edges and garnish with parsley sprigs and lime wedges.

I also made fried calamari rings at home for the first time (I am in a momentary seafood frenzy). Delicious! But the worst thing you can do is overcook them. Then they become rubbery, so beware! After we gobbled them up I realized I didn't even get a picture. Bummer.
Finally, I'd like to say . . . you all have children. I can see how I am out of touch, and this would not be "ideal" for a family dinner. Fish bones, protests about the head and tail, etc. . . . hahahaha. But, like I said . . . it could be good for a dinner party *sans* children. If nothing else, I hope you'll find the post interesting. Happy cooking, ladies!

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Recipe will post on Monday

So my life is going to be crazy for the next two days and though I know what I want to post I need to assemble my recipes and I'm thinking it's not going to happen until Monday the 18th. Thanks for understanding gals!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Yesterday we went to the fish market. I got mussels. I never get mussels. I was so proud of how they turned out. I had a great time cooking them and they were very fun to eat, too! I'll have to make them again soon. I boiled them for about 2 mins, meanwhile sauteing garlic green onions and parsley in butter and olive oil. Then I added the mussels with some white wine and a tiny bit of the "stock" from the boiled mussels. After just a few moments, I removed the mussels with a slotted spoon onto a plate. I reduced the sauce and poured it over the mussels. If anyone has any good tips for me on mussel preparation, please comment below! Thanks!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Recipe Box

Okay ladies, so by request we have a new recipe box. It's not what I would ideally do but its what is possible within the confines of what blogger can do and overall I think it will work fine. I only posted our "official recipes" not all of the other ones that have come up though we could do that so let me know your thoughts on that. I will just continue to add the recipes to the "box" as they are posted. Thanks!! (just to clarify I did this only after Jman showed me how :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mango & Shrimp...Gooood!

I feel bad making my post just after Alyssa did because her picture is so nice and mine is bad (hence no picture). Okay, we LOVED this recipe... don't I say that about every one? :) First off I was caught off guard by the paste for the shrimp. In my mind I was making a marinade and it most certainly was not a marinade but a paste. I followed the recipe exactly with one minor alteration, I doubled the paste part and in so doing only used 1 1/2 the amount of curry. We like curry but didn't want it to be too spicy for Abigail.
I have no experience with mango. I was a bit intimidated at first but dug right in anyway. What the heck is up with that weird pit thing in the middle?? Weird. The few times I have tasted fresh mango I am surprised by its spiciness; I like it. On with the review...
Everyone loved the yummy dinner, except Abigail. I can never tell if she doesn't like something for real or if she's just being 2. I think she was being 2 because she likes everything in there and she ate all the shrimp and loved them. I loved the spicy shrimp with the mango! What a great combo! I was a little surprised that the leftovers weren't as good for lunch today as I thought. You know how some things are better the next day? I thought this would be that way. I also made the dessert, it was very good! Refreshing... I love lime.
We made mojitos to drink with dinner, that added a nice touch. Something about the drink and the food made me feel like I should be in the Caribbean! Tisha, thank you! This meal is a redo, it will be great to make next week when my mom comes (she is allergic to gluten). Over all we give it four thumbs up!

Mango-Lime Parfait Disaster . . . and Other Related Stories

I am back on schedule with the recipes! I am please to report that I tried the Mango Rice Salad with Grilled Shrimp. It was very nice, and very pretty. I couldn't get any fresh cilantro, and I missed it sorely. It was still very good, though. My shrimp turned out quite salty, but once they were mixed in with the salad they were fine. The fish store was closed, so I had to use pretty small little shrimp that I had in my freezer. That might be why they turned out so salty, but they worked just fine. A great, fresh meal, perfect for these hot days.
About the dessert . . . I realized only after all the stores had closed for the evening that I never got the corn syrup. So, I made the syrup without it. That was okay, not ideal, but okay. We went to get some vanilla gelato to take back home. It wasn't super frozen and by the time we got home it was pretty melted. I put it in the freezer while I made the syrup, but that wasn't good enough. When I was scooping it out, it was the consistency of cool whip. Hmmm . . . I still made them, although it was like Mango-Lime Soup. My husband still liked it. We agreed the the recipe was great. All the tastes were so nice and yummy and refreshing together. I think we'll have to try it again as an ice cream dessert rather than a soup.

FOrmat Change anyone??

So, I first of all want to say that I am loving this!! Thank you again Rachel for pulling us all together to share our culinary experiences! Because I am so loving this I am often telling people to check out our blog. I have a link to it on my family blog and have heard alot of reviews.

The theme I am finding is that our blog is great and fun to read. However, when referring people to check out a certain recipe they are having great difficulty finding the recipe. I was wondering if anyone knew how we could change this so it is more user friendly. I too have difficulty going back and trying to find the recipe I want to redo (and yes, I have redone almost every recipe that has been posted).

My thought was that perhaps we could only Post recipes on the main page and then each persons that reviews it cando so in the comment under that recipe. I know it may not be as easy but then any one of us that goes back to look for a recipe will have them all right there as soon as we open the blog and the reviews will stay close to the original recipe even if it is added later on.

I would love to hear more of what you ladies are finding and see how we can improve on this fabulous idea!

Finally the Salmon and Potatoes Review

I finally tried the salmon, potatoes and basil lemon-limeade from Serena. First of all, the basil lemon-limeade was very nice! I was so curious to know what sort of taste the basil would give the lemon-lime. It was a winner! I got the basil simple syrup recipe from the Food Network website. I used the number of lemons and limes that Serena used. I ended up adding a good amount of water to keep it from being SO sweet. We found that it makes a yum, yum, yummy drink if you put a little less water and use it like a mixer with vodka.
I was worried that the salmon was going to be too sweet. However, my glaze thinned a lot when I put it on the salmon and a lot of it ran off so it was just lightly glazed--not too sweet at all. My husband and I both enjoyed the pecans on the salmon.
The potatoes are something I have made before, but never with sweet potatoes. That's why this blog is so great . . . always a new idea and a new perspective. Also, it made them so pretty!
All in all, I would say that I loved each recipe individually but with the drink, the sweet potatoes and the maple syrup it was quite sweet for my taste. I love the recipes and I will definitely make them all again, but maybe not all together at the same time.
Kudos to Serena for a great menu . . . next time I am somewhere that I can get all the ingredients I will try the salad and dessert. They look scrumptious!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Picture Stacy running in out of the house with children hanging from her legs.

Ok. I know the title is a bit much, but this was me making Stacey's recipes. First, I have to say that everything tasted amazing. I made the meal for my family and my in-laws who said they felt like they had just eaten at a fancy restaurant! :) My only problem with the recipes was that the mushrooms require both the grill and the oven. I think next time I will just do them on one place or the other as I was - well, running back and forth (from the oven in the kitchen to the grill out on the porch) with children crying each time I went outside to the grill. (That's the kind of experience you don't get at a fancy restaurant!) Other than that, everything was amazing. Thanks, Stacey, for helping me to treat my in-laws to a delicious meal!

Strawberry Jam!

We had a great Saturday morning outing as a family at the farmers market! I have been wanting to make strawberry jam and get some fresh fruit to just have in the freezer for winter. So yesterday was the day! We got a bunch of organic strawberries and last night after the kids went to bed Andy & I made organic strawberry jam!!! We love to spend time in the kitchen together cooking and baking, and now making jam. When it was all done I felt so resourceful and proud of my three batches of strawberry jam! Yeah! It was so fun!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pleasing Panzanella

We did the mushroom/chicken/panzanella/banana menu last night. Saturday night . . . perfect for a BBQ. It was so good, and fun to make as well! My husband is back home, so I got to try it all out on him. He loved it as well. I did everything by the recipe, except . . . freshly grated nutmeg. Did you guys get an actual nutmeg and grate it? I just used the already ground up stuff. And I don't have a microwave, so I warmed the oil/garlic on the stove--don't think that made any difference. I couldn't get portabellos so I used normal white mushrooms. They were big, but not as big as portobellos, so they were FULL of stuffing. Mmmm . . .
The chicken and salad were GREAT! We love the tomato/olive oil/basil/garlic combo. It's like bruschetta in a salad. Panzanella is good anyway, but to make it using the grill made it WAY better.
The bananas were fantastic! We went down to the gelato store and bought some vanilla in a takeaway and then made it with the optional chocolate sauce. I loved the combination of the cinnamon and chocolate. And my husband said "That was [explicative] good," (sorry, I know this is a family site, he can be a bit 'colorful').
It was so fun to make the whole meal on the grill. Thanks for great recipes! I will make this again and again . . . and keep it in the back of my mind for when we have company for dinner.
Finally, a big thank you for the recent recipes that include basil. I have three basil plants that are growing out of control. I think you can see two of them poking up in the photo. I was pleased as punch to be able to hack so much off of it between the panzanella and the basil lemon limeade from Serena (review to come shortly). Super!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Mango Rice Salad w/Shrimp

Hi ladies,
So this is a recipe from my cooking magazine of choice, Cooking Light. It was on the cover of their June 2005 edition, and I couldn't resist trying out such a colorful summery dish. If you're not a fan of shellfish, simply substitute the shrimp with chicken. So, here's to another summer menu!

Mango Rice Salad w/Grilled Shrimp

1 tbl minced fresh garlic
1 tbl minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tbl soy sauce
4 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1.5 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 36 shrimp)
2 cups water
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1 1/4 cups uncooked long grain rice (try basmati or jasmine)
3/4 cup shredded carrot
2 cups diced peeled mango (about 2)
1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tbl chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbl chopped fresh parsley
2 tbl lime juice
1/2 tsp salt

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add shrimp, toss to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour.
2. Bring water and coconut milk to a boil in a medium saucepan; add rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Add carrot and next 7 ingredients (through salt); toss gently to combine.
3. Prepare grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
4. Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 12 (6-inch) skewers (soak skewers beforehand to avoid burning). Place skewers on grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Serve skewers over salad. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Here is a nice simple dessert that would go well with the main course - if you're not too tired of mangoes. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds refreshing.

Mango-Lime Parfaits

1/2 cup sugar
2 tbl water
1 tbl light-colored corn syrup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled mango
10 gingersnap cookies crushed

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a microwave safe bowl; microwave at high for 1 minute, or until sugar melts. Cool completely. Add juice to syrup mixture; stir well.
2. Spoon 1/4 cup ice cream into each of 6 parfait glasses; top each serving with about 2 tablespoons chopped mango. Drizzle 1 tablespoon syrup mixture over each serving; top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger-snap cookie crumbs.
If you want, repeat the layers - or just leave it simple!

Happy Cooking!

It's a Miracle! A Maple Syrup Miracle!

I am so behind with this blog. It all started with the fact that I couldn't make ANY of the items on Serena's menu . . . apart from the drink. Although I can get most things here (reminder: I live on a small island in the Mediterranean), or a sort of substitute, sometimes it is just impossible to make certain things. Although I can get salmon, I couldn't get maple syrup which was the key to the salmon recipe. I haven't been able to get fresh rosemary at the moment (THAT is a weird one, because usually I can always count on that). I can't get fresh blueberries OR blackberries. Strawberries are now out of season, so they cannot be found either. BAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! I thought it was kind of funny, actually, since I don't really have this problem often, but this one was a doozy!
So, today I went to a grocery store that I don't usually go to, and I FOUND MAPLE SYRUP!!! Woot Woot! (It cost me around $11 for the amount to make the recipe once, but who cares! ahahaha!) So, I am going to go to another grocery store this week to see if I can get the rosemary and I will at least make the salmon and the potatoes. I so excited!
One more thing: I haven't done the current recipe (which is "due" today). My husband comes home from abroad this week, so I wanted to wait until I had someone to enjoy it with me. So, I'll be doing Serena, Staci and Tisha's recipes in quick succession. I'll be bombarding you with my reviews sometime later this week.
Thank you for understanding, girls. I've been a naughty participant lately, but I enjoy being included. I am as enthusiastic about this blog as ever!
Soooo, Tisha . . . What's cookin', good lookin'? Can't wait to find out!
P.S. Attached you will see me, the food snob, CLEARLY enjoying a hot dog and a Budweiser--from a roadside van, no less (oh, the shame!). High quality grub. Hahaha.