October 2012

How long did your Sandy snacks last?

Many people are experiencing junk food gluttony remorse.

Hurricane Sandy is no laughing matter. But to those in its path, the topic of Sandy Food raised a few chuckles. In the hours leading up to Sandy's arrival, New Yorkers besieged local liquor stores, stocking up on beer, wine, and spirits (Oh, and bottled water too; why not?).

As the storm's outer edge began battering New York and the Jersey Shore, residents took to Twitter to confess that they had already eaten their Sandy snacks. As someone who lives in a storm-prone area, I can relate. It's a combination virtually guaranteed to ensure gluttony: you're stuck at home, with a house full of delicious stockpiled treats. Combine that with the anxiety of an impending large storm, and it's surprising any food remains in the house by the next day.

Easy cheesy chicken pasta casserole

A great family meal or cover dish dinner.

I love casseroles simply because you can make them ahead of time and then just pop them in the oven for dinner. They go great with salad and biscuits for an easy meal. If you're looking for a new casserole to try consider making my easy cheesy chicken pasta casserole.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Leftover chicken
  • 6 oz. ziti pasta cooked and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ small onion diced
  • ½ zucchini diced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 oz. Cheddar cheese

Oiling your wooden cutting board

It's probably due!

One feature of kitchen maintenance that I admit I'm not good at keeping up with is oiling my wooden cutting board. Most sources say you should oil it once a week. Personally, I oil mine whenever it starts to look dry and "thirsty," which works out to about every three months. Mea culpa.

Oiling is important maintenance for a wooden cutting board. Studies have shown that wooden cutting boards are better at resisting bacteria and viruses, because they can't penetrate the wood the way they can a nicked and scratched plastic cutting board, and because a plastic board will hold moisture for longer. But this is only true if you oil your cutting board.
Oiling your board puts a layer of protection between the wood and the world. It helps to repel water, which prevents your cutting board from getting warped damaged, and mildewed. This also helps prevent the growth of bacteria. And the oil itself is a barrier against bacteria getting into the wood.

Schools ban Flamin' Hot Cheetos

They can take our Cheetos, but they can never take our FREEDOM.

The war against junk food is getting surprisingly literal these days. Schools across the country are moving to ban Flamin' Hot Cheetos from school property. 

By the way, have you tried these things? Flamin' Hot Cheetos? I have to tell you, they are delicious. I'm not surprised the kids love them. Nor am I surprised that schools are trying to ban them. My understanding is that Flamin' Hot Cheetos evolved from a grassroots snack: Cheetos dipped in Tabasco sauce. If that gives you a feel for what we are dealing with here. (PS: That is delicious too.) 
There are several aspects of Flamin' Hot Cheetos which have sent school administrators 'round the bend:

Homemade cucumber salad

An excellent side dish full of nutrition.

I used to only make cucumber salad during the hot summer months however, I recently discovered just how many health benefits cucumbers have. Now I make it all year long. It actually tastes great along side almost anything your having for lunch.

Surprisingly, cucumbers are high in potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. They also contain magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, fiber, vitamin B, calcium and zinc. I love that this vegetable also contains a good amount of water. When I give it to my kids I know that they will not only enjoy the taste, but they'll be getting some much needed nutrition.

Three pretzel snack recipes you are sure to love

Fun pretzel snacks for kids

Pretzels are pretty cheap to buy in bulk, which makes them perfect for using in snack recipes for my kids. Of course, they would get bored if I just gave them pretzels, so I like to jazz the pretzels up with the following recipes.

1. Pretzel Snack Mix: Place a cup of pretzels in a mixing bowl. Add ¼ cup of nuts (your choice), 1/8th cup raising, and ½ cup of rice cereal. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pot. Mix in 1/8th cup of honey and 1/8th cup of brown sugar. Stir until slightly thick. Poor over the pretzel mix. Stir all of the ingredients together. Wait for the butter/honey/brown sugar mixture to cool before snacking on the pretzel mix.

2. Chocolate Covered Pretzels: Lay waffle style pretzels on a baking sheet. Place a chocolate kiss on top of each pretzel. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the chocolate begins to melt a little bit. Remove the pretzels from the oven and top with a mini-marshmallow. Cool in the fridge to stop the chocolate from melting any further. Serve to the kids.

Cooking pork loin chops

It's easy and delicious.

Ever since I went gluten free, I find myself cooking a lot more meat than I ever have before. This has been a real learning experience for me, and boy have I learned a lot!

Pork loin chops have become one of my staples. With the cost of meat being what it is, it's important to look for bargains. I guess pork loin chops are not very popular, because they are usually cheaper than almost any other cut of pork. And frequently on sale, to boot.
I'm not sure why pork loin chops sell so poorly. They are more tender than regular pork chops, and don't have that messy bone to chew around. Plus, being thicker, I find them easier to cook without overcooking.
However, as with all meat, a meat thermometer is key. I finally shelled out the fifteen dollars for one of the fancy kind. It has a probe you stick in the meat, and a cord that dangles out of the oven door to a sensor. You can set an alarm to go off when the temperature reaches a certain point, or set the timer by minutes and hours. And it's very easy to use, read, and set. Plus it's magnetic, so you can stick it to the front of the oven. It's a bargain, and a lifesaver.

Homemade baked tomato slices

A fun side dish for almost any meal.

My kids aren't big fans of just eating plain vegetables. I have to get creative and jazz the vegetables up. My most recent creation was baked tomato slices. I never liked stewed tomatoes, so this was a great alternative. Best of all, the baked tomato slices seem to go with almost any main dish.

You will need the following items to make your baked tomatoes:

  • 3 tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese