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How to Get Out of a Dinner Rut – Kabobs

November 8, 2010
Cheese And Chicken Kabobs

Cheese And Chicken Kabobs

Are you in a dinner rut? Do you find yourself making the same few dishes over and over? It’s OK – it happens to the best of us.

Shake things up with this Cheese and Chicken Kabob recipe: Murg Malai Kabab.  I’m here to encourage you – I’ve made it myself, it’s easy, and yes – YOU CAN DO IT!

This meal is WAY out of my kids’ comfort zone – Indian seasonings with spiciness on a bed of raw spinach and cucumbers. But our 5 and 7 year old kids liked it.  How on earth did I fool them? I feel like I got away with something.

Maybe they liked it because we watched Vahchef Sanjay Thumma‘s cooking video together and they thought his dance at 08:00 was hysterical.  And I reminded them that the Vahchef said “Kids go crazy over this chicken!”  A little bit of prep work went a long way.

Here’s the ingredient list for Cheese and Chicken Kabob [Murg Malai Kabab], be sure to scroll down.

Some of my tweaks:

  • I turned up the oven to 500 F – super hot.
  • I didn’t use meat tenderizer, it was fine without it.
  • I used chopped parsley instead of coriander leaves.
  • I didn’t make a paste with the chilies and parsley.  Instead I chopped up the chilies large enough so I could pick them out for the kids.
  • We made a quick ginger garlic paste by mashing together peeled/cut up ginger with peeled garlic.   My 5 year-old loved using the mortar and pestle.  See VahRehVah – Ginger Garlic Paste. Don’t blink, you might miss it!
  • I forgot the corn flour – no biggie, it was fine without it.
Ginger Garlic Paste

Ginger Garlic Paste

Our family weighs in:

  • The kids did “go crazy” and loved it!
  • My husband gave it a double thumbs up.
  • I loved it and am bringing it for lunch tomorrow – a good sign.

Is it time for you and your family to get out of your “dinner comfort zone”?  What do you want to try?

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How to Make Kettle Corn [Video]

November 2, 2010
tags: ,
Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn

The kids and I made Kettle Corn and a video tonight!  Check out this super easy recipe for Rachel Ray’s Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn. Only 4 ingredients:  Popcorn, vegetable oil, sugar and sea salt.

It’s nice to know what kinds of ingredients are going in your snacks plus I like the simplicity.  Don’t mind my realistic kitchen – dishes in the sink and all!

Five Soups for Sickie

October 20, 2010
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Tissues Photo by | Chris |

I’ve been sick for a week, so luckily for me I’m in a unique position to talk about the variety of soups I’ve eaten these past few days.

I absolutely love homemade soup. And when it comes to canned soup I’m extremely picky. My kids?  They’re picky about soup in the opposite direction.  The only kind they’ll touch is canned cartoon-character chicken noodle soup. Someday they’ll outgrow this. I hope.

I didn’t push this hot-button-soup-issue with the kids this week.  Mommy didn’t have the strength.

Here are 5 soups I’ve eaten this past week. All noteworthy in their own right.  These soups are good for frugal meal (a side of crusty bread, a small wedge of cheese).  And they all provide comfort for the sick.

Five Soups for Sickie



Parsnips Photo by *clairity*

Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup

In Minnesota, apple season is winding down and parsnip season is gearing up, so this is a great seasonal soup for the Upper Midwest.  The Apple and Parsnip soup I ate had a nice kick of ginger that gave the soup a medicinal quality.  But perhaps I’m stretching sentiment that a bit.

Take a gander at this lovely Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup from Guilty Kitchen.  Now tell me – how could one resist the allure of a parsnip after seeing those beautiful photos?

Chicken Soup

Matzo Ball Chicken Soup Photo by The Gifted Photographer

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

A Soups For Sickie list would not be complete without Matzo Ball Chicken Soup. Check out this recipe for Real Chicken Soup by Culinary Philosopher. Don’t let the photo of chicken feet in water freak you out.

Tomato Bisque

Tomato Bisque. Not Amy's Brand, but homemade. photo by Carmyarmyofme

Tomato Soup

Amy’s Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque is one of the few canned soups that I love. It has texture – chunky, just like the name says.

Lentil Soup

Lentil SoupPhoto by michael hilton

Lentil Soup

When you’re still sick…but you’re on the mend..but you’re not quite ready for full-on solids.  Take a look at Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup recipe.  Now I’ll have to find “freshly ground Grains of Paradise” for my spice rack.

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Another heartier soup for when you feel ready. Give this Vegetarian Split Pea Soup by 101 Cookbooks a try.  I have and can vouch for it.  Pretty tasty.

What are your favorite soups? Canned or homemade?

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Hair Donation for a Good Cause

October 17, 2010

This is completely off topic for a cooking blog, but thought you might enjoy.  Last Sunday I cut off 8 inches of hair to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths – wigs for cancer patients. Be sure to check them out if you’re interested in growing and donating your hair.

I grew my hair for 2 years.  It was well worth it.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so think pink and consider donating your hair!

Now I have less hair to pull back and put up when I’m cooking. There’s the connection.

Hope you enjoy my video.


How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

October 5, 2010


3 Pumpkins


Tonight we carved our pumpkins that we bought from a local pumpkin patch.  Our son wanted a smiley face and our daughter wanted a scary face. “It’s Halloween, so it HAS to be scary!”, she insisted. Our son dropped his pumpkin on the kitchen floor (on R.), which created a crack, so we decided his had a “mustache”.

Waste not! We removed the seeds for roasting. Here are a few pumpkin seed preparation tips. The 24 hours drying time is worth the wait.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1. Put the seeds in a colander, and rinse well. Squeeze the pulp in your hands to loosen the seeds.


Pumpkin seeds ready for rinsing

Pumpkin seeds ready for rinsing


2. Put the seeds on a baking sheet to dry overnight. Use parchment paper underneath if desired. 24 hours of drying time is best. Remove the remaining pulp the next day, when dry.


Dry pumpkin seeds before baking

Dry pumpkin seeds before baking


3. The Next Day: Preheat oven 250 degrees F. Line baking sheet with foil.

4. Coat your dried seeds with melted butter or olive oil. Or maybe a little of *both*.

5. Sprinkle with sea salt. Toss every 15- 20 minutes. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown.

Does anybody have any good uses for the pumpkin pulp? I threw it away, but couldn’t help but wonder what else it could be used for. Perhaps a “waste not” opportunity was missed.
Have you ever tried to make a pie or bread with fresh pumpkin?
We are really getting into the Halloween spirit this year!

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Blogadera Interview

October 4, 2010
Blogadera Interview - Micaela Vega

Blogadera Interview - Micaela Vega

Just a quick note to let you know about my interview on the website Blogadera.  We chat about beans, blogging, and being Latina/Hispanic. I hope you enjoy!

Recipe: Not Genetically Modified Salmon Patties

September 27, 2010
Pesto Salmon Patties

Pesto Salmon Patties

As if we don’t have enough to be concerned about when it comes to the food we consume, let’s add another.  Genetically Modified Salmon (also known as GM Salmon).

GM Salmon is “gene spliced”.  According the BBC NewsAqua Bounty’s salmon has been modified with growth gene from a Chinook salmon and an antifreeze gene from an eel, the ocean pout.

You might instead call it “Frankenfish“.

GM Salmon is likely coming our way – to the consumer.  It will be first genetically modified animal designed, in a lab, for human consumption.  If you want to avoid it, it could be tricky.  So far it doesn’t sound likely that GM Salmon, patented by the company AquaBounty, will be required a label identifying itself as genetically modified.  Stay tuned for that decision.  Another way to avoid it? Look for “Wild Caught” on a label if you want to avoid farmed salmon or GM salmon.

Want to learn more? Check out this very informative Minnesota Public Radio podcast:  “A scientifically improved salmon stokes debate”

Be on the lookout for GM Salmon. You may want to consider a “just keep swimming” attitude as you whistle past the “scientifically improved” stuff. Go for the wild caught instead.

Pesto Salmon Patties

Recipe by Striving Bean


  • 12 oz. canned salmon (2 small cans or approx. 1 large)
  • 1/2 cup (0.5 cup) bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (0.25 cup) pesto (can use more pesto, to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 – 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Mix all ingredients together, except oil
  2. Form into patty shapes, place on wax paper lined sheet/plate
  3. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes (this helps to prevent patties from crumbling when frying)
  4. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat (do not allow to burn)
  5. Place patties in pan, fry until brown on each side.
Homemade Pesto

Homemade Pesto

Preparing the Patties

Preparing the Patties

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

Our family weighs in:

  • Everybody loved this easy dinner, although my husband commented they were a “little dry” for him.  Perhaps adding mayo or more pesto would do the trick?

What are your thoughts on GM Salmon?

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