Monday, February 22, 2010

Strawberry and Mascarpone Cream Parfait with Balsamic Syrup

Pin It Now! Creamy, vanilla, sweet, summery, decadent and just plain scrumptuous.  Found this recipe from Lynda at Taste Food Blog.

The only thing I did different was made homemade whip cream thanks to a certain someone.  And I'm SO glad I did.  It's easy!  Great dessert for impressing guests.  It took everything in me to not lick the entire have been warned.

Serves 6-8

1/3 cup (80 ml.) balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
8 oz. (250 g.) chilled mascarpone cheese(organic if you can find it)
2 cups (500 ml.) whipping cream (recipe below)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 lbs. (1 kg.) strawberries, hulled and halved
6-8 whole strawberries
Fresh mint leaves

Prepare the Balsamic Syrup:
Combine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar and lemon juice in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely. (Syrup can be made one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)
Prepare the Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
In a mixing bowl combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream(see below for homemade recipe), 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.
30 minutes before serving, combine strawberries and balsamic syrup in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss gently to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Divide half the strawberries among 8 glass goblets. Spoon half the cream mixture over the strawberries. Top cream mixture with remaining strawberries. Top with cream mixture. Drizzle with any remaining syrup.

Homemade whipped cream
Found this on allrecipes:


  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar


  1. In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.

Poultry Pockets with Sauteed Whole Wheat Pasta

Pin It Now! After watching Food Inc. I have commited to making over the food I cook. (click here to read my rant after watching that movie)   I'm sure there will be times when I may cheat and used processed foods, but for the most part everything I make will come from organic, nonprocessed ingredients.  It's called clean eating and there are so many health benefits associated.   I have noticed a huge difference in the way food tastes when I use fresher, organic fruits,vegetables and meats.  According to Clean Eating magazine to eat clean means to:

Be label savvy
Clean foods contain very few ingredients.  Products with a long list of ingredients are processed and not considered clean.

Avoid processed and refined foods
White flour, white sugar white breads and most pasta.  Opt for whole grain instead.  It actually tastes better!

Shop with a conscience
Consume humanely raised and local meats.

Reduce your carbon footprint
Buy from local farmer's markets and use ingredients that are in season.  It's usually cheaper and also better for the environment.

With that being said I found this lovely recipe in a Cuisine at Home magazine a friend lent to me.  It's easy and delicious!

2 cups fresh spinach (or frozen is fine too)
2 boneless, skinless breasts, pounded to 1/4" thick, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 large tomato slices, 1/2" thick
2 slices swiss cheese
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 oz. dry whole wheat pasta
2 garlic cloves, minced
handful chopped chives (save a few to garnish)
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F)
1) Saute spinach in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high until wilted; season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and blot dry to remove excess moisture.

2) Begin cooking pasta in boiled salted water according to package directions; drain and set aside.

3) While pasta is cooking arrange chicken.  Layer a tomato slice, cheese slice and 1/2 the spinach on 1 side each prepared chicken breast.  Fold other side of each breast over fillings to enclose, and secure with toothpicks.

4) Saute pockets in 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet as spinach over medium high heat until browned, about 4 min.  Turn chicken over and saute on the other side 2 minutes, then transfer pan to oven.  Roast until chicken is cooked and cheese is melted, about 8 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and transfer pockets to a plate. 

5) While chicken is roasted, heat oil in a new skillet coated with nonstick spray over medium heat.  Add drained pasta and garlic, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes, tossing to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and add chives.

6) Return pan to the burner over high heat.  Deglaze pan with vinegar, reduce by 1/2, then drizzle sauce over chicken.

Serve chicken on top of pasta and garnish with chives.

Be sure to pound the chicken thin enough or else it will take longer to cook in the oven.

This recipe was intended for 2, but could easily be made for more.  Just use 1 breast, 1 cheese slice and 1 tomato per person and adjust spinach as you like.

Nutritional Info.
Per pocket and 1/2 cup pasta

Calories 556 (42% calories from fat); fat 26g (saturated 6g); Chol 102 mg; Carb 32g; sodium 304mg; fiber 10g, protein 49g; iron 7 mg, calcium 402 mg; omega 40g

Information and recipe obtained from Cuisine at Home.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where the heck is my food coming from?!

Pin It Now! I've been into documentaries lately.  I love them actually.  And tonight I watched Food Inc.  If you haven't seen it you should. Why?  Because it will open your mind to a whole new way of thinking about your food and where it comes from.  I've briefly seen videos on youtube and from PETA about the cruelty towards animals raised for food, but honestly I didn't take it too seriously.  It seemed like dramatic, biased information.  And maybe to some extent it is, but with good reason.  I plan on doing my own extensive research, but after watching this documentary I am shocked and disgusted by the treatment of animals.  Chickens and cows are not the cutest animals to ever exist and they both definitely stink.  But they're living creatures!  The people working for these corporations must have no soul.  Seriously. 

Chickens are kept in "houses" where they never see the day of light in their entire existence.  They are given antibiotics to make their breasts larger and to make them grow in half the time, as a result the chickens can barely walk two or three steps.  These were examples of chickens raised by a Tyson chicken farmer.  I will never, EVER again buy Tyson chicken.  If I continue to buy their product I am supporting that treatment and in a sense "voting" for supermarkets to continue to sell that product and condone such cruelty.  I refuse to support an organization that is so repulsive and clearly has no ethics.  That is just my personal opinion and hopefully I don't get sued as a result. 

Another disturbing fact mentioned in the documentary was the laws set in place to protect the corporations, NOT the consumer.  In the state of Colorado you can go to prison for criticizing the beef that is grown there.   What the hell happened to "freedom of speech"??!  Yet it's ok for people to have a say and opinion about the holocaust never existing or for white surpremicists to have opinionated, hateful websites?  Oh....that's right.  There is no money involved for those kind of opinions.  It's bullshit.  If there is information known by the government or food producers that would dramatically affect a consumers decision, then those are opinions that deserve to be spread.

Something as basic to survival as food is now consumed by greed and legal jurisdication.  It just seems out of control.  It makes me wonder if a lot of the disease and health issues that are worsening in our country have anything to do with our diets.  I know I have read articles linking diet to autism, but I honestly haven't done any research on it.  In the documentary one woman's 2 year old son went from being a happy healthy toddler to dead in 12 days because of e coli from a hamburger he ate at a restaurant.  He ate the burger on August 1 and the USDA didn't recall the beef until August 26 (even though they knew the batch was contaminated there were laws at the time that wouldn't allow them to recall right away).

As a parent it is ultimately my responsibility to be as educated as possible in everything that can affect my kids.  I can not control everything and I know there will be things that go wrong, however why not prevent bad things if I can?  I directly have control over the food my family eats.  Given that fact I am responsible for knowing where that food came from and what is in it. 

It's going to be annoying and time consuming to overhaul our lifestyle, but right now I feel commited to doing so.  Given Mr. Wright is a health nut he is on board, which makes things easier.  Until I can find quality sources of organic meat, we aren't going to eat it.  No more chips.  No more juices.  No more boxed cookies.  I have a major sweet tooth right now, so I'm going to have to figure out healthy ways to get my fix.  I know it will take time before we can fully eat the way I want, but I am taking the steps to get there.  I really want a garden now.  So here is to a new lifestyle change.  Day one starts this weekend... problem is  I have some meat in the fridge and freezer right now and am torn on what to do.  I don't want to waste it, but don't think I could stomach it right now either.  What to do, what to do.

I'll probably just start tomorrow.  Which means I have lots of researching to do on food products.  I plan to do a few research based articles on this topic, so stay posted!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Carne Asada served with a Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad

Pin It Now! Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum.  Though this is nothing like the food served at Chipotle, it totally satisfied my obsessive craving.  If you haven't been to Chipotle you're totally missing out.  Best food. Ever.  This dinner was so full of flavor and so delicious that it has allowed me to forget about how much I miss Chipotle.  We'll see how long that lasts.  I found the marinade for the meat over at Simply Recipes.  I love browsing this site for recipes because there is so much variety. The grilled corn, avocado and tomato salad with honey lime dressing is incredible.  You will love it.  I have a feeling I may make this once a week at least. It's fresh, and bursting with flavor and comes courtesy of Jehan Can Cook.


2 pounds flank or skirt steak
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeƱo chile pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed (best to lightly toast the seeds first, then grind them)
1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped (great flavor in the stems)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil


1 Lay the flank steak in a large non-reactive bowl or baking dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour the marinade over the steak. Make sure each piece is well coated. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for 1-4 hours if pressed for time. (note: I marinated overnight and think that is best)

2 Preheat your grill over medium-high flame (you can also use a cast iron grill pan on high heat for stove-top cooking). Brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Remove the steak from the marinade. If you are cooking indoors, you may want to brush off excess marinade as the bits may burn and smoke on the hot pan. Season both sides of the steak pieces with salt and pepper. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference. You may need to work in batches. Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.

Serves 4-6.

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato salad with Honey Lime  Dressing

Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes cut in halves
1 ripe hass avocado, roughly chopped
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Grill corn over medium heat for 10 to 15 mins.  The corn should have some brown spots and be tender and not mushy.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!!  Cut the corn off the cob and scrape the cob with  the back of your knife to get  the juices.  Set aside and let cool. 

Add all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and grilled corn.  Mix well  so that everything is coated with the marinade, but be careful not to mash the avocadoes. Let sit for at least 15 min,up to one hour in the fridge.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A trail of blogs leads to some perspective

Pin It Now! This week my goal has been to put visual reminders of my goals around the house.  Last night I was looking for pictures or ideas to put as my desktop.   One site I visit every so often is Joy the Baker.  I figured maybe I could do a screenshot of her site and use it as my background.  As I was scrolling through her site I found a post about the 2010 bloggie awards.  Basically it is the epitome of awards for the blogging world.  It is broken down into several categories such as cooking, politics, entertaining, most humorous, etc.  I was reading through some of them last night and just so inspired by the creativity of many of the blogs.  People who set out to blog about the things they are most passionate about in life.  I bookmarked the site knowing this would be become one of my visual goal reminders.

The thing about the blog world as I am coming to realize is it is a trail.  One blog leads to another that leads to another  and pretty soon 2 hours have passed.  It can be quite addicting, but also inspiring.

This morning I went back onto the bloggie award site to peruse through some other blogs and found one that I just love, Zen Habits ( It’s going to take me days, probably weeks to read through this guy’s site, but I am so inspired by it.  Now I am interested in not only feng shui, but also zen and eastern philosophy in general.  And I never would have found the site if I hadn’t set out to find visual reminders for my goal.

  After going through Zen Habits I stumbled across a blog by a guy named Marc,

His blog post today is so awesome!!  I love it.

Look at the picture taken from space of planet earth and then read the commentary by Carl Sagan

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

-Carl Sagan

 Couldn't have said it better myself.