Saturday, July 21, 2012

Two Sauces & A Side {for your BBQ}

With the weather being so hot lately the thought of standing over a stove top just makes me exhausted. I don't know about you, but we have been making good use of our BBQ! To help give your different BBQed meats variety I'm sharing with you two of our favorite sauces {and if you are vegetarian scroll down to read about one of my favorite side dishes!}
Now a little side note: I want to remind you that my way of cooking doesn't have exact measurements - I "eye ball" alot of things to make it the right amount that I need. That is the beauty of cooking, it's not a science, it's an art. {Baking is totally different however} So be BRAVE and "eye ball" the ingredients to make the amount you need and taste as you go.

Mr. S. is in charge when it comes to cooking the steak at our house. This steak sauce is always on the table .

Steak Sauce
BBQ Sauce
Hot Sauce {optional}

You want to mix together equal amounts of ketchup, mustard & BBQ Sauce. Use the Worcestershire to get the sauce to the consistency that you want it. I like to add in hot sauce for an extra kick, but you can also do some freshly ground black pepper or try soy sauce for an Asian flair.

This is BY FAR my favorite condiment for steaks, chicken and tacos. I remember eating some portabella fajitas at Chili's once and they served this sauce on the side...I was hooked. You can do this with parsley, but I LOVE it with Cilantro! I love the pungency of the cilantro with the tartness of the good!!

Chimmichuri Sauce
Cilantro (about a cup)
minced garlic {about a Tablespoon}
Red Wine Vinegar {a few healthy splashes}
Olive Oil

In a food processor combine all ingredients EXCEPT the oil. Pulse until everything is combined and it looks like a paste. While the processor is running, stream in the Olive oil until the paste becomes more like a salsa consistency. Be sure to taste test to see if more salt or vinegar needs to be added.

What kind of a meal would be complete without a side dish? What I love most about these grill packets is that you can use any vegetable that you have on hand. I'll list what I have in this packet, but really the sky is the limit to the different veggie combinations! I few rules come with grill packets:
-Use heavy duty tin foil or two sheets of regular tin foil
- Before anything goes into the tin foil it needs to be coated with a cooking spray or oil so the veggies don't burn and stick to it.
- Vegetables like potatoes and carrots should be cut thin. The thicker they are the longer it takes to cook them {unless you like a crunchy potato, yuck!} For the carrots in this packet I used a vegetable peeler.

Grilled Vegetable Packets
Tin Foil
Olive Oil
Potatoes, thinly sliced
Carrots, thinly sliced
Bell Pepper Strips
Red Onion
Salt & Pepper
Seasonings & Parmesan Cheese

Oil your tin foil {either with oil or a cooking spray}. Place your sliced veggies in the center. Your veggies need room to cook in this packet. Pull out enough tin foil so the veggies go in the middle of the foil and you can pull up both sides, folding the edges together until it is rolled down into a packet {ends should be rolled up as well}. If you didn't give yourself enough room, get a second sheet of tin foil, oil it and place it on top of the veggies rolling up each of the sides together. Before you start rolling season your veggies with salt & pepper and your choice of seasonings. I've tried many different kinds, you can go Italian and do basil, oregano & rosemary. You can use a premixed BBQ seasoning, we like McCormick's Spicy BBQ. Along with the seasonings you can also add cheeses or even balsamic vinegar {really yummy} or soy sauce.
Place the packet on the grill and let it cook for ten minutes on each side {total cooking time 20 minutes}. If it puffs up during the BBQing that is just fine. When you take your veggie packet off the grill be sure to test the veggies inside. If they are tender they are ready to eat, but if the potatoes or carrots are still hard, roll it back up and put it back on the grill for another 10 minutes, or until done. **If you are cooking a large veggie packet {i.e. feeding 6+} plan on 30-40min cooking time and be sure to rotate every 20 Mins to ensure veggies are cooked on both sides***



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Give Me a Beat: Running Music

Running. Me running. It's  a story, but maybe I'll share that in a later post. I want to talk about running music. Music is a HUGE help to me in keeping my energy & pace up. Everyone is different when it comes to their music choice, for me I need three things from my music:
  •  It needs to have a beat. Dance music is really what I lean toward.
  •  Constant. No slow preludes. No slow down and speed up. If the music slows down I do too and when I start to run I've got to keep going or I will peeter out. 
  •  Relatively clean. I don't like F-Bombs or really explicit lyrics {i.e. the new Christina Agulera & Nicki Manaj song....I don't need my body parts being sung about like that}. Finding clean running music is hard, not impossible, but hard. Luckily iTunes, Amazon & Walmart offer clean-edits of some songs. Also, if you see the term Radio Edit, it ensures some words taken out. ** Everyone has their own level of what they deem appropriate. You may not agree with some of my music choices and that's okay**

Here are some of My Rules when it comes to running music:
1. Only listen to your running music when you are running. If you listen to it every day during the day, it loses its impact. While listening to Pandora one of my songs from my running play list came on and instantly I had the urge to run.
2. To go along with number one, when putting together your running list, don't choose your everyday songs UNLESS they have what you need in a run. I LOVE the Beatles! I know all of their songs and can pretty much sing to every one of them, but because of this familiarity I don't choose to run to Beatles songs.
3. Try every kind of music - you never know what song will hit you with motivation unless you listen to it. For example, I thought Rhianna's "Shut Up and Drive" would be great for my running, but while I was running to just didn't work, don't know how to explain it, but it just didn't. Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" totally came out of left field for me, but once I heard it {while running and watching Glee} it really revved me up!
4. Keep it at YOUR pace. It's important not to run yourself out, literally. I found this great website called that was put together by a group of runners. You put in your running/walking/biking pace and it will show you a list of songs or playlists that fit that pace - so you can find music that isn't too slow or isn't too fast. There are quite a few songs I keep on my list to help me keep my pace.

Music isn't for everyone. Nan watches movies while she runs. When I'm on the treadmill I like to watch Glee & recorded award shows - do what moves you!!

Here are some of our running songs for your running playlist considerations:

"Home" Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
"Sex Is On Fire" Kings of Leon
"Moves Like Jagger" Maroon 5
"Dog Days Are Over" Florence & the Machine
"On the Floor" Jennifer Lopez
"Shake It" Metro Station
"Animal" Neon Trees
"I'm Not Gonna {teach your boyfriend how to dance with you}" The Black Kids
"Hold It Against Me" Brittany Spears
"I Wanna Go" Brittany Spears
"Feels So Good" Paramore
"Blue Orchid" Jack White*
"Mr. Saxo Beat" Saxy Momma
"I Love You Like a Love Song" Selena Gomez
"Shut Up and Drive" Rhianna
"Crazy Love" Beyonce
"Sexy Back" Justin Timberlake
"Barbra Streisand" Duck Sauce
"Paparazzi" Lady Gaga
"The One That Got Away" Katy Perry
"E.T." Katy Perry
"Countdown" Beyonce*
"4 Minutes {To Save the World}" Madonnna ft. Justin Timberlake*
"Run Away" Bruno Mars
"Your Love Is My Drug" Ke$ha
"Hello" Martin Solveig ft. Dragonette
"Brokenhearted" Karmin
"Call Me Maybe" Carley Rae Jepsen
"Cry for You" September
"Part of Me" Katy Perry
"Starships" {Clean edit} Nicki Manaj*
"Stronger" Kelly Clarkson
"My Body" The Young Giants
"T.H.E." {Clean edit} ft. Jennifer Lopez & Mick Jagger
"Tongue Tied" Group Love
"We Found Love" Rhianna
"You Make Me Feel" Cobra Starship
"I Wanna Dance {with somebody}" Whitney Houston
"Turn Me On" Nicki Manaj*
"So Close" Calvin Harris
"Lights" {Fernando Garibray Remix}Ellie Goulding
"We Own the Night" Havana Brown
"Rock That Body" Black Eyed Peas
"Scream and Shout" {Clean Edit} & Brittany Spears
"A Little Party Never Killed Nobody" Fergie featuring Q-Tip & Goon Rock
"Good Feeling" FloRida
"We Come Running" Young Blook Hawke
"Check Yes Juliet" We The Kings
"Heartlines" Florence & The Machine
"Beauty & The Beat" Justin Bieber ft. Nicki Minaj
"Shake It Off" Florence + The Machine.....LOVE FLORENCE!!!!
"Roar" Katy Perry
"Applause" Lady Gaga *I think this would be a fun song to run the last leg of your run to!*
"We Can Do This All Night" Icona Pop
 I am constantly updating this list as I find new songs that I love! Be sure to check back and add to your playlist.

*Denotes my "Wall Songs". When you get to that part of your run and you don't think you can go any further...these songs - for me - get me to keep going!

What are some of your running songs? You can never have too many!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Birthday Party for Nan!

It's Nan's birthday and this year I wish I could be with her and have a party! Because we have this amazing place {our blog!} where I can take you anywhere with anyone - come with us as we celebrate another year of Nan with a {virtual} party!

The Queen was gracious enough to let us use Buckingham Palace

Cocktail dresses for the ladies & dapper suits for the gentlemen

Along with Mr. W and other family and friends of Nan's, we will have Audrey Hepburn, Princess Dianna & Jane Austen in attendance.

 After a few rounds of the Red Green Game {Nan would have to explain} we would be dancing the night away with

Nan is really not a hard person to shop for. I recently found our friend at  Paramore Artworks has a new line of swag themed  "I'd rather be at Pemberley" {does that scream Nan or what?}

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

This is a slice of the party you can actually take home with you! Nan {and I} have had this pinned for quite some time. I made it the other night & it was divine. I think it's something Nan would be happy to have as her birthday dessert.
The original recipe was quite labor intensive & kind of tricky. I simplified it. Enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
Inspired and Adapted from Mangio da Sola

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Oreo Cookie Crust:
 about 24 Oreo Cookies
3 TBS Butter, melted

Crush the Oreos into fine crumbs, you should have roughly two cups. Stir in melted butter. Press the Oreo crumb mixture into an 9 inch spring form pan. Eat the rest of the Oreos.

4 pkgs (8oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
4 Eggs

Beat together cream cheese, sugar & vanilla until it is smooth. With mixer on low, beat in each egg one at a time. Pour on top of the cookie crust. Bake for 55 minutes or until the center is set {no wet jiggling when you gently shake the pan}. If there are cracks on the top - don't worry - we'll be covering those up! Let cool for an hour at room temperature and then put it in the fridge for 4 hours. {I made the cheesecake part on Day 1 and the rest on Day 2}

Chocolate Mousse......the EASY way
1 pkg Chocolate Fudge pudding
1 C. Milk
1 C. Cool Whip

Mix the pudding and milk together until blended and thickened. Fold in the cool whip until incorporated.....yeah it's that easy! Sure, it may not be the authentic fancy-shmancy French mousse, but if it makes you feel better just say 'Bon Jour!" to everyone who comes through the kitchen, it will make the pudding more "French" if you are speaking French while making it.
Spread the chocolate mousse on the cheesecake. Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then release the spring form by running a butterknife around the edges before releasing the spring and slowly lift it off the cake.
Let the cake sit in the fridge while you make the ganache for the top.

The best/easiest Ganache that I know of is.......

8 oz. Semi sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips (I happen to know that Milk Chocolate works too)
8 oz of Heavy Cream (I also know that whole milk will work as well)

Put the chocolate chips & cream into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and stir. Let it go in for another 1 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is fulling melted and stirred into the cream. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure there are no little chocolate bits.
Kate advises that the ganache thickens as it cools so if it seems a bit runny, just wait a minute and it will start to thicken.
As it cools it will be thick and fudgy, like a frosting.
BEFORE it gets thick and fudgy (it should have the consistency of a thick syrup) pour it over the top of the cheesecake letting it run over and down the sides. Let set in the fridge or serve.

Cut into your deliciously rich, decadent pie and think of Nan!
Happy Birthday Nan! You are the best-est friend a gal could EVER have!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Summertime Breakfast: Parfaits with *Homemade* Granola

Let's talk about breakfast.

It's the most important meal of the day, right?  But sometimes it's also the most inconvenient.  Whether you're taking care of a family, trying to get to work or school, or all of the above, there's not always enough time to whip up pancakes or scramble eggs.  If you've fallen into a cold cereal rut, here is the perfect breakfast to help you start your day the right way with minimum prep time.

This breakfast parfait is simple.  You just need three ingredients:
Granola, yogurt, and fruit.
For this parfait, I used homemade granola (recipe below), strawberry yogurt, and thawed mixed berries from my freezer.  Layer the ingredients in any order you like, and you'll have an easy and delicious breakfast in just a few seconds!

The granola can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.  Better yet, the granola cooks for just a few minutes, so it won't heat up your kitchen too much on a warm summer day.

I found this recipe in a church cookbook my mom gave me, and the original contributor gave me permission to post it here.  It's a recipe that her family has enjoyed for many years.  The original recipe makes three cookie sheets' worth; I cut down the recipe to one cookie sheet and have made notes of the adjusted measurements in red.  Ready to rock?

Homemade Granola - Marilyn Deniker
1 1/2 (1/2) tsp salt
6 (2) cups old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
2 (2/3) cups coconut (I skip this because I never have coconut on hand)
1 (1/3) cup cracked wheat
1 (1/3) cup powdered milk
3/4 (1/4) cup brown sugar
1/2 (1/8, rounded) cup chopped nuts (optional)
3/4 (1/4) cup honey
3/4 (1/4) cup oil
1 (1/3) tsp vanilla extract
(1/3) tsp almond extract
Raisins, craisins, dates, or other dried fruit (optional)

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl; add wet ingredients and mix well.  Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Do not over bake; it should be starting to turn golden at the edges of the pan.  Let cool and then break into pieces; add dried fruit after baking.  Store in an airtight container.

Marilyn also added this note:
I have used coconut extract with the almond extract and friends of mine have tried things like flax seed with the cracked wheat. That is one of the other things I like about it, not only does it use a variety of food storage items, but it is versatile.

Thanks, Marilyn, for letting us share your recipe!

P.S. Does anyone else think of Shrek whenever they have a parfait?

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