Monthly Archives: January 2012

I may not be stuffed, but the squash sure is

Standard

According to my reliable sources, there’s some sort of big athletic event coming up this Sunday called the Super Bowl. Apparently, it’s a game that has to do with two groups of big, burly men in spandex pants who run back and forth across a large grassy field carrying an oblong piece of stuffed brown leather, all the while trying to not get tripped or bear-hugged by their opposing teammates. If and when they actually make it to one end of the field called the end zone, they are then required to throw the piece of brown leather down and do a silly little dance followed by a few fist pumps… much like those puffy boys on steroids on the Jersey Shore, minus the alcohol. For the players, I mean. Apparently it’s an unwritten law or rule that if you are a spectator in this annual event, you must ingest your weight in beer over the course of the game and eat only foods containing mass amounts of cheese, meat and butter… all fried, of course. In my opinion, they should change the name of this particular event to the Super Bowel, because man oh man.. the action toilet bowls across America are going to see following these five hours of gluttony… yeah, pretty super.

Despite my hesitations to mi mama’s suggestion of hosting a party to celebrate this particular day, I still agreed it would be fun to have a group of people over for the event. At the very least, it would give me an excuse to cook up a lot of yummy, healthy foods for a bunch of mis padres crazy amigos. I just hope they’re not expecting the typical Super Bowl fare of chicken-fried bacon cheese fries, lard-infused Oreo-creme puffs and of course, the much-loved and ever-so-popular Beer Pong tournament. Sorry kids (and Mama), but not this year. No no, this year’s party will more than likely consist of my slow cooker Lentil Chili, a big bowl of my Creamy Guacamole and perhaps a few Peanut Butter Balls or two. I still haven’t narrowed down the final menu yet, but I promise to share with you everything else I come up with once I do.

Until then, I have a fun recipe to share with you today. It’s kind of a spin on my Stuffed Bell Peppers except utilizing a Carnival squash I received in my CSA box this past week. So today, mi compadres, I present to you my Spicy Mexican-Stuffed Winter Squash.

Spicy Mexican Stuffed Carnival Squash

1 Carnival squash, or spaghetti squash or acorn squash or delicata squash… use whatever kind you want

2 tsp can0la oil

1/2 lb ground turkey breast, beef, soy crumbles or lentils

1 /2 large yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 cup cooked rice, quinoa or millet

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup salsa or picante sauce

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

1 cup frozen or fresh corn

shredded cheese, for topping

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy innards. Bake cut-side down in a casserole dish filled with 1/4 inch of water for 30-40 minutes.

3) Remove from oven and set aside on a separate plate to cool slightly.

4) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add meat or meat substitute and onion and cook until onion is softened and meat is no longer pink. Add garlic and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes.

5) Add rice, diced tomatoes, salsa, corn and spices and cook until heated through.

6) Scoop mixture into squash halves. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes. Top with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

7) Plate and serve and enjoy! Such a fun stuffing for a plain old winter squash.

If you have any leftover stuffing, use it the next day wrapped up in a tortilla or heated up in a casserole dish.

Well amigos, I must be going now. I had my Bachelor’s degree from mi universidad framed over the weekend, and now I need to find an open space in my trophy room in which to display it.

Hook ’em

Advertisements

Better late than never

Standard

How did this happen? How is it possible that National Peanut Butter Day was on Tuesday, and I’m just now finding out about it? I mean seriously, I live with the Queen of Nut Butters for heaven’s sake, and still the day came and went as if it were just any other day. I’m hanging my head in shame right now and I sincerely apologize to all of you out there who rely on me to remember and notify you of such important events as the day in which we honor America’s all-time favorite sandwich spread.

Well since I can’t exactly turn back time (yet), I can still do my part in celebrating this all-important holiday, even if slightly belated. In my opinion, peanut butter should really have a whole month dedicated to it instead of just one day. Heck, China devotes a whole year to roosters and dragons and whatnot, and we can’t even honor the all-mighty peanut butter with any more than 24 hours? I think I definitely need to get in contact with my congresswoman about this issue. Well that and why it is that I’m not able to run for President of this country. So what if I was born in Mexico, bark at the vacuum cleaner and sometimes eat cat poop from the backyard…

So even though the day in which we were to celebrate this incredible edible has already come and passed, I still wanted to do my part in making peanut butter feel special. And I did so with these muy delicioso no-bake cookies.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

3 tbsp maple syrup, honey or agave nectar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts

1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup Rice Crisp cereal

Directions:

1) In a food processor, pulse the oats and cashews into a fine flour-like powder. Add all-purpose flour, sugar and salt and pulse until combined.

2) Add peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla and process until it resembles a cookie dough. Add flour if too sticky, add more maple syrup or peanut butter if too flour-y. Add peanuts and chocolate chips and pulse until combined but still chunky.

3) Scoop dough into a bowl. Add cereal and stir to combine.

4) Form into little balls and transfer to a plate. Freeze balls 20-30 minutes before eating… or 5 minutes as was the case with mi mama. When it comes to peanut butter, that chick goes totally loco.

So there you go. Happy Belated National Peanut Butter, mi amigos. Now do yourself, your loved ones and anyone else who would appreciate a tasty ball of nutty goodness, a favor and make some of these little babies. If nothing else, do it for the sake of peanut butter.

As for me, I better be going now. I just got out of the bath tub and need to get my fur blow-dried and styled. Beauty day for me!

Cake for dinner? Why not

Standard

What’s up with all the crazy fad diets out there? One minute carbs are good. The next they’re the devil. Fat is your friend. Fat is your arch-enemy. Protein is the key to losing weight, therefore adding even more protein is the key to losing the most weight. Gluten-free is the best road to optimum health. Don’t eat protein before noon, and then, only eat protein for the rest of the day. And of course one can’t forget the craziest of them all (and I apologize to anyone who has ever gone on this diet, but seriously, it’s whack), the Master Cleanse diet which consists of only consuming a liquid concoction containing water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Yeah, that seems totally logical. The “scientists” behind this one claim that it helps the body to cleanse itself from every day toxins that build up in the body’s system and that it’s the fastest, most effective and organic(?) method of losing toxic body fat in the form of excess weight. I’m not sure where that research was conducted (CrazyLand perhaps) but I definitely don’t buy into this diet one bit. Granted, one will lose weight going on the Master Cleanse, so that claim is actually true. But that’s only because a person is pretty much starving his/herself during that first week of the diet due to consuming fewer than 800 calories a day. One could eat 600 calories of Oreos a day for a week and lost weight as long as that’s all he/she is eating. Come on people! Whatever happened to just eating real food, moderate amounts of it, and not going on some crazy diet that’s guaranteed to be quick fix but obviously can’t be sustained over a long period of time? I may not have taken away everything I was taught during those 4 (or was it 6) years at the Universidad studying nutrition, but I did learn a thing or two about food and diet and overall health. And one of those is that there is no quick fix. There is no secret pill that will magically melt away fat. And that if it seems too good to be true, it more than likely is.

Okay, that’s enough of my little soapbox rant for the day. If you don’t agree with me, that’s totally fine. That’s the fun thing about having your own blog. It’s your forum for voicing your opinion and others can either take it or leave it. And honestly, I’d love to hear your opinion on it. Especially since I can’t guarantee my little rants on diets and nutrition won’t happen again. In the meantime, though, what I can guarantee is that I will continue to post wonderfully delicious recipes containing real, whole foods that shouldn’t be considered “off limits” to anyone because of some wacko diet they’re currently on. And on that note, I have a really tasty recipe for you today that not only contains some delightful full-fat mozzarella and cottage cheeses but also some wonderful carbohydrate filled whole wheat pasta (oh no, the horrors!)

Cheesy Turkey Spaghetti Pie Cake 

(initially this was going to be a pie, hence the name, but I cooked too much pasta to fit in the pie plate… oopsies)

16 oz package spaghetti 

1 cup cottage cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute

1 tbsp canola oil

1 lb. ground turkey breast, 99% fat-free

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

14.5 oz can tomato sauce

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

6 oz tomato paste

2 tsp dried Italian seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste

shredded Mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13″ casserole dish with Pam and set aside.

2) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and combine with cottage cheese, Parmesan and egg. Mix well. Spread evenly in bottom of casserole dish and set aside.

3) Heat canola oil in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add turkey, garlic, onion and bell pepper. Cook until turkey is no longer pink and onion is softened, about 5-7 minutes.

4) Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, pumpkin, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium-low and allow to simmer 15 minutes.

5) Pour tomato/turkey sauce over pasta and spread evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

6) Sprinkle shredded Mozzarella over top and allow to bake 5 minutes more.

7) Remove from oven and allow to sit 5 minutes before digging in. Holy yum-sauce! Serve with a nice salad and fresh loaf of bread and you got yourself a stellar dinner.

Definitely not part of the Master Cleanse, totally not Atkins-approved, but undeniably healthy and full of real, non-laboratory manufactured ingredients. Entirely Teeny-approved!

Well amigos, I must be leaving you now. I’m in the process of interviewing new musicians for my mariachi band and two of the young chaps have just arrived to sing-a-ma-jig.

TeenyLittleSuperStar

Standard

I don’t make it a point to talk about this on the blog because I don’t like to brag, but I am an extremely athletic little dog. I know what you’re thinking. “But Teeny, you’re a lap dog.” Yes yes, that’s true. But besides being an incredibly gifted lap-sitter, I’m also a world-renowned star athlete. In fact, I’ve won so many awards and medals from all my sport and athletic endeavours that there’s a whole room in our house completely devoted to showcasing all my talents. It’s a shame mi padres no longer have a living room, but hey, those trophies have to go somewhere, right? Especially my most recent gold medal that I was awarded for placing 1st in the Climbing Three Flights of Stairs Dash at the International Chihuahua Olympics held in my hometown each year. This is actually the fifth year in a row I’ve won this particular event and I even broke my previous world record from the previous year. It’s pretty much just a race to see who will place second for all the other contestants competing. I even beat the supposed up-and-coming superstar from Kenya who folks have been deeming the next TeenyLittleSuperSprinter, by almost 10 seconds… ha ha, nice try hombre. Eat my fur dust.

But like I said, I don’t like to brag. It’s obvious I’m the best, so I shouldn’t have to point that out to anyone. Instead, I like to help others in their quest to be as awesome and gifted as me. Let’s face it, you’re never going to be as great as me (I’m definitely a rare breed), but you may at least get to the point of being pretty good. And I like to be the guy that gets you there. So, today, in addition to sharing with you a tasty and delicious recipe to delight your eyes and palate, I will also share with you a little exercise tip to help you become a better athlete and more Teeny-esque. Are you ready for it? Okay here it is……….. haha, just kidding. I don’t have any tips to share with you. How could I possibly put into any words how to become more like me when I’m so superbly awesome. It just can’t be done. I’m this way because I was just plain born this way. Awe-inspiring and mind-blowingly magnifico. But like I said, I don’t like to brag.

But I don’t want to leave you without anything at all. I know you don’t read my blog just to see all my adorable little glamour shots at the end of each post. No, you also come here to gather up a new recipe from my most recent culinary masterpiece. And boy do I have a good one for you today.

 Sunflower Seed Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

3 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Combine sugars, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3) Add butter, applesauce, sunflower seed butter, vanilla and eggs. Mix well to combine.

4) Add flour and oats, 1/2 a cup at a time until all oats and flour have been added. Do not overmix.

5) Fold in chocolate chips.

6) Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and cook 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.

7) Pour yourself a big ‘ol glass of milk and enjoy a delicious cookie (or two!)

I promise if you eat some of these cookies, you may not become as awesome as me, but you will definitely feel better about yourself and all your short-comings. It’s why I make them for mi mama on a pretty regular basis.

Well mi amigos, I better be going now. I have an appointment with my personal trainer this evening and I need to go find my weightlifting belt. I’ll leave you with this lovely picture of me taken just minutes after receiving my above-mentioned gold medal.

From can to gourmet

Standard

As crazy as it may sound, there are times when I just plain run out of ideas for what to cook for dinner. Yeah, I know, it’s hard for me to believe myself since I’m normally such a creative genius. I try to not cook the same things more than once, or at least not exactly the same as I have previously. I like to keep things fresh and new and keep pushing the envelope with my recipes and creations. Unfortunately, because of this attitude, I sometimes head into the 6:00 hour racking my brain for a new concept of what exactly I should cook. Last night was one of those nights. And as ashamed as I kind of am to admit, I turned to the label on the side of a Campbell’s soup can for recipe inspiration. And even more ashamed to admit that I was actually muy impressed with what I came across. Campbell’s really knows what they’re talking about when it comes to simple, easy meals. Now don’t get me wrong. I definitely did not follow their recipe completely. I still had to spice it up a bit and make it more Teeny-ified. And the results? Well, pretty darn fantastico!

Creamy Chicken and Green Bean Casserole

6 oz box Stove Top Low-Sodium Chicken Stuffing Mix

2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, trimmed

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1″ cubes

1 can low-sodium Cream of Mushroom soup

1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Cook stuffing according to package directions. Set aside.

2) Steam green beans until crisp-tender, blanch and set aside.

3) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

4) Mix condensed soup, cottage cheese, yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a 2 qt. casserole dish. Add chicken and green beans and mix well. Top with the prepared stuffing.

5) Cover and bake 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

6) Remove from oven and allow to sit 5 minutes before digging in.

Couldn’t be more simple than that and yet tastes absolutely delicious. I only wish all things in life could be that easy. Like trying to figure out how to change this darn cold, snowy weather into something sunny and warm.

Maybe if I just close my eyes, I can imagine someplace just like that. Oh please, oh please, oh please….

Baking in a winter wonderland

Standard

I don’t know if you heard, but I’m a Chihuahua. As in, I’m from Mexico. As in, I’m a warm weather type of a guy. So imagine my surprise and bewilderment when I woke up this morning, greeted by this crazy white stuff falling from the sky.

Yep, that’s me doing my morning “business” outside in the snow… definitely no bueno.  The only other time I’ve seen this much white powder was when I visited my cousin out in Hollywood and accidentally hopped into Lindsay Lohan’s purse at a nightclub instead of mi mama’s.

So given the circumstances of today’s weather forecast, I made the wise decision to stay indoors and crank up the oven for a day of cooking and baking. Not that I need an excuse to stay home and perfect my culinary skills, but snow and extreme cold are definitely good ones. My delicate Mexican skin can’t take such frigidness. It can handle some yummy Pineapple Coconut Muffins, though. If I can’t be in a warm tropical climate right now, I can at least channel them mentally through some delicious baked goodies.

Tropical Pineapple-Coconut Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup ground flaxseeds

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp vanilla extract

8 oz crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup raisins

shredded sweetened coconut, for topping

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2) Combine flours, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.

3) Combine eggs, applesauce, vanilla, pineapple, carrots and raisins in another large bowl until smooth.

4) Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined.

5) Pour batter into muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle with shredded coconut. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

6) Repeat with remaining batter. I ended up with 16 muffins total.

7) Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Mmmm, these make me feel like I should be sipping a Mai Tai while lounging on the beaches of Acapulco in my little blue Speed-o… or at least how I probably would feel if I weren’t a four-legged canine who doesn’t drink because I have no alcohol dehyrogenase enzymes in my tiny digestive system in order to break down all that rum.

Well on that note, muchachos, I better be going. Instead of a beach, I have a nice warm blanket I need to go burrow in and hibernate. See you again once I thaw out. Perhaps the spring….

Conquering my fears

Standard

I have a confession to make. Potatoes kinda scare me. And I don’t mean in a, “ahhh the killer potato is after me” kind of way. I mean in a, “ahhh I just received six russet potatoes in my CSA box and I don’t know what the heck to do with them” kind of way. Of course I could always dress them up in clothes, a hat and a pipe and take silly pictures but even that gets kinda old after a while. It’s as though my mind’s creativity completely shuts down when it comes to potatoes and the only thing I can think to do with them, cooking-wise, is to either bake ’em or mash ’em. Booooring!

So imagine my surprise when last night I was standing in the kitchen, staring at my little brown nemesis, and mi mama made the genius suggestion of turning them into scalloped potatoes. Scalloped potatoes!!! Of course, why hadn’t I thought of that before. So after getting over the initial shock of it being mi mama who made this awesome suggestion, I got out my food processor and got to work scalloping my starchy little taters.

Easy Cheezy Scalloped Potatoes

4 Russett potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (I used my food processor; much faster and less risk of chopping a paw off)

1/2 tbsp stick butter or Earth Balance

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper, to taste

1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin

grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with Pam and set aside.

2) Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, milk, garlic, nutritional yeast (if using), cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and stir until sauce is thickened.

3) Add onions to sauce and stir well to coat onions with sauce.

4) Layer half of sliced potatoes on bottom of casserole dish. Pour half of the sauce over potatoes. Repeat with remaining potatoes and sauce. Top with Parmesan, if desired.

5) Bake in oven 50-60 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and muy caliente and potatoes are cooked through.

6) Serve and enjoy!

Hip hip hooray! I no longer fear the Russet and gone are the days of boring old baked potatoes. Now if I could just figure out what to do with those five pounds of beets also in the box…. anyone, anyone?

In the meantime, I better be going. I’m completely out of clothes and mi mama hasn’t figured out how to use the washing machine yet. Ugh, a teeny guy’s work is never done.