Appetizer · Easy recipe · Fast meal · Fish

Mock Sushi Appetizer

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It’s crazy how our taste buds “grow up” as we do, isn’t it? I feel like I’ve ventured out a whole lot more in recent years, enjoying more spice than I ever would have tolerated. My husband has definitely branched out in his food choices. He grew up on the basic meat and potatoes diet, and then he married a girl who loves to try new recipes each week! He’s been so accommodating and has willingly tried everything I put on the table.

One area we’ve both grown to appreciate is sushi – him even more so than me. I love the fish – I don’t always love the additions. Knowing his love for sushi, I decided to venture out and try an easy “sushi” kind of appetizer for our Valentine’s dinner. Wow! We both LOVED it!

This recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs – Skinny Taste. She calls this a Spicy California Shrimp Stack. It’s not wrapped in the sushi paper – instead, you pile each ingredient into a measuring cup, pack it in, then flip it over onto the plate. It’s then topped with a drizzle of soy sauce and Sriracha Mayo. If you don’t have Sriracha, don’t worry – I used hot sauce in its place and it was delicious!

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My stacks aren’t quite as pretty as hers, but my measuring cups aren’t straight sides – they’re sloped, so my are more like “domes” than stacks! It didn’t change the taste, and that’s all that matters!! Here’s the simple recipe and instructions I found on her site:

Spicy California Shrimp Stack – From Skinny Taste

  • 1 1/3 cups cooked brown rice – I usually always make extra and keep it in the freezer. So handy!
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 8 ounces cooked shrimp, peeled and tails removed
  • 1 cup diced cucumber, about 1 small
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado, about 1 medium
  • 4 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons mayonnaise – I used light mayo
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce – I used hot sauce

Directions:

  • Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and oil.  When rice is done, add rice vinegar and stir.  Evenly spread rice on a sheet pan to cool.
  • Cut shrimp into 1-inch cubes. In a small bowl, combine cucumber and chives. In another small bowl, combine mayonnaise and sriracha sauce.
  • Using a 1 cup dry measuring cup, layer ¼ cup cucumber, then 2 tablespoon of avocado, then ¼ of the shrimp, and 1/3 cup rice.
  •  Carefully turn the cup upside down to turn the stack out onto a plate, lightly tapping the bottom of the cup if necessary.  Sprinkle with Furikake and drizzle with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and sriracha mayonnaise.
  •  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

This was a great appetizer, but would be a wonderful lunch, too! I’m still dreaming about the way it tasted with that spicy mayo on top. Mmmm. I can’t wait to make it again!

Are you a sushi eater? If you like shrimp cocktail, I think you’ll love this recipe!

What food do you eat today that you wouldn’t have eaten in years past?

Comfort Food · Dinner · Easy recipe · soup

Empty the Freezer Soup

Savory soups that simmer on the stove create two things –

  1. An aroma that’s irresistible
  2. A meal that satisfies both appetites and hearts

Last week I had the blessing of spending time with my parents and helping out during a time of hardship. Fixing meals each day was one responsibility I took on with great delight. A sampling of my menu included things like, Pinto Beans like Cracker Barrel’s, traditional Rump Roast dinner with all the trimmings, Baked Potatoes topped with broccoli cheese sauce – all recipe I’ve made many times.

But then my mom requested I make her recipe for Vegetable Beef Soup. She had this recipe in her head and verbally shared it with me one morning. I realized it would pull together very quickly, and would also use up some of the little bits of this and that in the freezer. Always a good thing, right?

During the fall and winter we eat lots of homemade soups. Some of my favorites are Senate Bean Soup, and Cream of Wild Rice Soup but both of these recipes are a little labor-intensive and take some time to prepare (but so worth it!). I love having a delicious soup recipe that’s a snap to pull together, and my mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup definitely fits the bill! You can use whatever vegetables you like/have on hand. This soup is a great way to use up those little bit of leftovers hiding in the fridge or stored in your freezer!

Here’s her simple recipe…

Vegetable Beef Soup

1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup lima beans
1 potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 can Bush’s northern beans
1/3 cup barley
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp Greek seasoning
A couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, brown ground beef and onion. Drain any fat. Add the chicken broth and then all the vegetables, spices,seasonings and barley. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes.

I like to serve a soup like this with a crusty bread and a side salad.

Yum! This is a perfect winter meal that will:

  • Wisely use up leftover veggies in your freezer
  • Warm bodies
  • Win the hearts of those that sit at your table!

Open up your freezer, grab those veggies and throw them in a pot for this delicious soup this week!

Refresh your menu with a savory soup!

Easy recipe · Lunch

Three Easy & Delicious School Lunch Ideas

Whether your children are at home for lunch or you’re packing their meal for them to take with them, I have a few great suggestions to make their noon meal something to look forward to!

It’s easy to just pack a PB&J sandwich, but how about bumping up your lunch game with one of these instead…

English Muffin Pizzas

English Muffin Pizzas – These couldn’t be easier!

English muffins, split
Pizza Sauce
Toppings of choice
Mozzarella Cheese

Toast the English muffin then spoon Pizza sauce on each half. Top with toppings and cheese. Place on a baking sheet and then place it into the oven under the broiler. Heat until cheese is melted.

Cold pizza is good, so you can pack these in a lunch for your children to take with them!

Tortilla Wraps

Tortilla wraps are a great alternative to a regular sandwich. Pile it with fresh things you love – tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, banana peppers, cooked chicken, cheese, sour cream and salsa! Roll it up and secure it with a toothpick, or wrap it into a piece of waxed paper or syran wrap.

Corn Dog Muffins

This is a simple take on the old Corn Dog! So easy and just as delicious as that dog you got at the fair!

Corn Dog Muffins

Jiffy Corn bread mix
Milk
Egg
Hot Dogs of choice

Mix up the Corn bread mix and place in greased muffin tins or tins lined with cupcake liners. Slice hot dogs and add slices to each muffin. Bake as directed. Serve with your favorite condiment!

These taste great at room temperature, making them the perfect addition to a lunch on the go!

What is your “go-to” when packing lunches? What creative additions do you add?

Refresh that noon meal!

Cookies · Easy recipe · Gluten-Free

Easiest Ever Four-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

I’ve been making these simple Peanut Butter cookies for years, because:
1) They only require four ingredients
2) They taste like the “regular” Peanut Butter Cookie recipe
3) They’re all ingredients I almost ALWAYS have on hand. That means I know I can always whip up a batch if I need a fast, easy treat.

I recently made these into bite-sized treats so I could have a taste of dessert with only 33 calories, but you could make them any size you’d like! You could also add mini chocolate chips or peanuts for some variety.

My mini size look like little buttons! So cute and so yummy!

Easiest Ever Peanut Butter Cookies

1 Cup Peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until creamed together. For small cookies, place one teaspoon batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
If you want the identifiable crisscross pattern, dip a fork in granulated sugar and press lightly in each direction.
Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack to cool completely.
Yield: 60 mini cookies

I popped them into a Ziplock bag and put them in the freezer. When I’m ready for a treat, I put one in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Add a glass of milk to these treats and you have a delicious snack or dessert!

Is this old recipe in your files? If not, I hope you’ll give them a try! They’re as delicious as they are simple!

baking · Bars · Easy recipe · snack

Your Favorite Granola Bar

Homemade granola bars that are full of good protein and fruit are snacks I try to keep in my fridge. Before I walk in the morning, on a busy day when I don’t fix breakfast, or when I need a little afternoon pick-me-up, these are the perfect bars to grab!

Pan is ready for granola bars!

Cooking light has given a recipe that gives you the necessary amounts of grains, nuts, butter and fruits, then gives you the option to choose your favorites of each so you can create your best-loved granola bar! In other words, they give the formula to successively create your kind of granola bar your way. Here’s how to create them:

Create a base

Toast oats in the oven to give them a nutty flavor. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 2 cups old-fashioned oats onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Transfer oats to a bowl, and cool to room temperature.

Add richness

Creamy nut butter and toasty coconut oil enrich the bars. Liquid sweetener, well, sweetens them. Place 1/3 cup nut butter,1/4 cup liquid sweetener (such as honey, maple syrup, or agave), and 11/2 Tbsp. coconut oil in a bowl. Microwave 30 seconds or until warm.

Boost the flavor

Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt to the nut butter mixture to heighten the flavor; whisk until smooth. Whisk in 1 large egg white; it’s a key part of the binder that will hold all the ingredients together.

Add Crunch and Chew

Stir 1/2 cup unsalted roasted nuts (or broken-up pretzel pieces) into the cooled oats for hearty crunch. Add 1/3 cup dried fruit (chop the pieces if they are large) for bright, sweet flavor and textural contrast.

Mix and Press

Pour nut butter mixture over oat mixture; stir well until all pieces are evenly coated. Transfer mixture to an 8-inch square metal baking pan lined with parchment paper. Press mixture very firmly into pan; packing tightly helps keep bars from crumbling.

Bake and Cool

Bake at 350°F until lightly browned around edges, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Lift bars out of pan with parchment paper; cool completely on rack before cutting (warm bars might crumble).

MY favorite combination is oats, walnuts, dried mixed fruits, maple syrup (or honey) and peanut butter. I store them in the fridge because I find it helps them not crumble as much. So good!

Rather than buying these, consider baking your own so you can customize them to your dietary needs and likes! Because of that, they will be your favorite bar!!