Make your own “Lunchables”

Lunchables is something I have kind of always gotten for my kids out of a matter of convenience, a treat for them, whatever the case may be for their lunches, but the fact is, they are packed full of crap, preservatives, salt, you name it. Crap.

So in an effort to give my kids that fun lunchable feel, I made my own!Your kids can stack, eat, smoosh, and whatever else they see fit with these homemade lunchables, only you get to control what’s in them. Organic? no tons of salt? No crap.

What you need:

  • Cookie cutters
  • Soft Tortillas
  • Lunch Meat (smoked Turkey in this case)
  • A hard type of cheese (I used provolone)

What you do:

  1. Cut the tortillas, meat(s) and cheese(s) into shapes with the cookie cutters and pack them in your child’s lunch!
  2. I even thought about getting mini bento boxes for this idea, how fun! You can also use the flavored tortillas for color. 
  3. You could just buy crackers for this as well if your child would prefer instead of tortillas.

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Condiment Fun!

So today I catered a casual wedding in which we did a tray of meats and cheeses etc for sandwiches! I needed a vessel to put Mayo Mustard etc in and since this is not normally the kind of catering I do, I did not have such a creature, but what I DID have was mini mason jars I used to produce small jars of salsa for little gifts I put the condiments in the little jars and put these little tiny spoons with it my mom got me for Christmas and Viola! You could do this for anything, ketchup, salad dressing, whatever! You could even add ribbon around the rim or as my friend Suzanne suggested, paint the jars! Get creative with it 🙂

 

Flank Steak Salad w/ Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes.

This recipe is one I made up in my attempt to enjoy salad (really! I’m not a rabbit!) Now it’s one of my favorite things to make and I just love it! I put it on my catering menu and I have now taught this recipe in my cooking classes to many students and everyone has enjoyed it so much. So, I’ve broken down and decided to share the yummy goodness with all!

What you need:

  • Arugula (roquette)
  • Baby Greens and/or spinach
  • 1 Lemon Juiced
  • Olive Oil
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Soy Nuts
  • Flank Steak
  • 1 Lime Juiced
  • Garlic
  • S & P to taste
  • Red Onion
  • Croutons
  • Cilantro (ripped or roughly chopped)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Any other salad ingredients you might enjoy

What to do:

  1. On a platter combine 2 cloves of crushed garlic, cilantro, and lime juice, mix well
  2. Place Flank Steak on platter and let marinade for approx. 10 min, then flip to other side.
  3. While Flank Steak is marinading, fill a small sauce pan with your cherry tomatoes.
  4. Pour in enough olive oil to just cover the tomatoes (sometimes I like to throw in a bit of fresh garlic as well!)
  5. Place on med/low heat. You want the Tomatoes to POACH not boil.
  6. Your Tomatoes are ready when they skins just start to crack and you see bubbles coming up from the top of the pan (usually about 10-15 min.)
  7. Drain the tomatoes and place in the fridge Save the olive oil for later.
  8. place a skillet on the stove at a high heat and add olive oil, approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons.
  9. Once the pan is screaming hot (olive oil just starts to smoke) Place your steak in to sear.
  10. After approx. 1-2 min flip the steak on the other side
  11. For Med. Rare (depending on size and thickness) Cook your steak approx. 6-8 min on each side after searing and reducing the heat slightly.
  12. Once your steak is finished allow it to sit for at least 10 min and rest, This will allow the steak juices to re-distribute and your steak will be juicy and yummy!
  13. While your steak is resting, assemble your salad with any “fixins” you want. (Don’t forget your tomatoes in the fridge!)
  14. In a small bowl combine your lemon juice and approx. 1/4 cup of the reserved tomato olive oil Add Salt and Pepper to taste and which until emulsified. Be sure to taste and add more oil if it’s too tart or lemon(y) for you, or if it’s too oily add more lemon juice.
  15. Once your steak is done resting, slice on the bias AGAINST the grain of the steak. This is Key for tender flank steak.
  16. Place the steak on your salad and then drizzle your dressing over top.
  17. Add Parmesan and EAT!

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think, I was kind of winging the measurements so let me know if I’m off on anything 🙂 Enjoy!!

Chip and Jody enjoyed a special cooking class making this salad:

 

Chicken Marsala- My Way!

What you need: 

  • 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Garlic Salt
 Seasoning
  • Salt 
Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in halves and pounded thin
  • 
1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 
1 cup chicken stock (best if its homemade chicken stock)
  • 2 Cloves Fresh garlic

What to do:

  1. In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour and garlic salt, seasoning salt & Pepper and stir to combine thoroughly.
  2. Quickly dredge the chicken breast halves in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook the chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  6. 

Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter to the pan and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown around the edges 

Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 more minutes
  7. 

Add about a Tablespoon of your remaining flour (the same flour you dredged your chicken in) to the pan and stir around allowing the flour to cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  8. 

Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  9. When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  10. Lower the heat to medium and return the chicken breasts to the pan and continue to cook until they are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  11. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; add salt and pepper, to taste

For larger portions (more chicken) just add more ingredients to match.

I like to serve this over angel hair pasta, or garlic roasted mashed potatoes!

Garlic Confessions

So, let’s talk GARLIC. In my cooking classes I encourage people to use FRESH garlic as opposed to garlic in a jar. We have the debate all the time, the argument is always “it’s easy” “It’s fast” when trying to defend the jarred garlic. MY rebuttal is always “It’s easy” “It’s fast” and guess what “It’s FRESH, TASTIER, BETTER, Wont eat your insides!!”

So why not Jarred Garlic? Well, first let’s examine the fact that it’s minced, pasted, and flavored. It’s been sitting in oil for who knows how long, it’s a petri dish for bacteria, you have no idea where the garlic is grown, how it’s processed, where it’s processed, who grows it, under what conditions, nothing. Now, let’s talk about Phosphoric Acid. This garlic contains this chemical to help with preservation. Check out Phosphoric Acid on Wikipedia but I’ll give you my favorite bits and pieces about this chemical straight from their website.

  • Phosphoric acid may be used as a “rust converter”, by direct application to rusted iron, steel tools, or surfaces.
  • Phosphoric acid, (also used in cola’s) has been linked to lower bone density in epidemiological studies
  • Phosphoric acid is used in dentistry and orthodontics as an etching solution, to clean and roughen the surfaces of teeth where dental appliances or fillings will be placed
  • Phosphoric acid is used as a flux by hobbyists (such as model railroaders) as an aid to soldering.
  • Phosphoric acid is used as a cleaner by construction trades to remove mineral deposits, cementitious smears, and hard water stains
  • Phosphoric acid is also used as a chelant in some household cleaners aimed at similar cleaning tasks.

You can read the whole article yourself if your so inclined, but I think you get the point. No more chemicals people, use FRESH (organic if you can) garlic! If you feel the need to make it more convenient for yourself, one day take 10 minutes of your time, take fresh garlic, mince with a chopper or knife, place in a jar with some olive oil, put it in the fridge and it will keep for approx. 1 week maybe a bit longer. Otherwise, invest in yourself a handy dandy garlic press and do it as you go! But for Heavens sake, throw the jars away!

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

So, I got sick of going everywhere and just having crap Jalapeno poppers. With my Bacon party on the horizon I decided to invent my own popper to go with my bacon theme! They were a HUGE hit, and now everyone has been asking for the recipe, I honestly debated sharing because I am going to put this on my catering menu, but… I’ll be nice, this is something the world should enjoy lol

What you need:

  • 10-12 Fresh Whole Jalapenos, De-seeded, De-veined, and sliced long ways in 2.
  • 8oz Cream Cheese Softened
  • 5 Cloves of Fresh Garlic Roasted (see directions for roasting garlic below)
  • 3 slices of Bacon cooked to crispy
  • Raw bacon for wrapping – cut in half
  • S&P to taste
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese (1/4 for mixture, more to sprinkle on top)
  • toothpicks

What to do:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix, cream cheese, roasted garlic (make sure its all mushed up!) cooked bacon, about 1.4 cup of smoked Gouda cheese, S&P
  2. With a small spoon or piping bag, fill the jalapenos with the mixture
  3. Wrap raw bacon around the popper, and toothpick through the sides
  4. Place Poppers in a pan (do not stack)
  5. Sprinkle more Smoked Gouda Cheese on top of each popper
  6. Bake on 350 degrees for approx. 20 minutes. or until bacon is crisp.
  7. Serve hot

There you have it, the best poppers you’ll put in your mouth!

(please keep in mind measurements/amounts are approx. as I have never actually measured out this recipe)