Quick Loaded Potato

For my guest thread at the Gaming Invaded forum!

Loaded Potato

Medium Potato (About the size of 2 fists)
2 cups frozen veggies (peas, corn, broccoli, your favorites)
2 Tbsp Butter/Margarine
2/3 C. shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp Sour Cream
Salt & Pepper

First, wash your potato. I just use my hands and scrub the skin really well under cool running water.  Next, poke the potato all over with a fork to give the steam inside somewhere to escape during cooking.  Put the potato in the microwave for around 8 minutes.  I would do 4 minutes and then another 4 checking for tenderness in between.  Or not, and be potentially ready to clean exploded potato off the inside of your microwave. When the potato is cooked properly, you should be able to cut it open and into several pieces with just a fork. That bit is really important - it actually will affect the taste if it is a little too raw still. Smash open the potato with your fork and immediately get the butter on there to melt.

Ok, now in a separate bowl, go ahead and throw your veggies in and nuke for a good 3-4 minutes.  All of these can be done while you're getting healz or during everyone's "bio" break.  The hardest part is done!

Salt and pepper the buttered, smashed up potato. Scoop your veggies on top with a fork (leaving extra water behind in bowl) and top with cheddar cheese.  Microwave once more just until the cheese melts and is bubbly.

Top with your sour cream and get back to gaming!

(I suppose you could top your potato with just about anything, but this gives a starch, some veggies, and just the right amount of fat and protein to be really enjoyable without being overwhelmingly unhealthy.)


Easiest Pho Ga

Anytime I go to a Vietnamese or Thai restaurant I am tempted to order this tasty soup (and usually do)!
Every time I eat it I think - I could make this at home for a lot cheaper, I'd bet.  And I certainly did.  Here's how.

Easiest Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup)

2 cans Chicken Broth
1 large chicken breast, diced roughly
1 can LaChoy Chop Suey Vegetables (drained well)
1 1/2 C. water
2 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
2 handfuls dry rice noodles
Lite Soy Sauce (low sodium) - Garnish
Siracha Sauce - Garnish

Crockpot (4 hrs on high/6 hrs on low) or stove is fine. The only uncooked thing you need to worry about is the chicken.  Put the broth, water, chicken, vegetables, ginger, and cilantro into the pot.  Cook until chicken is done and shred within pot.  Boil noodles separately (the way you would spaghetti) and add to the pot at the very end.  Serve each bowl drizzled with 1 tsp of soy sauce and even less siracha sauce (to taste).  Be careful of Siracha sauce, it is very very spicy and a tiny amount goes a very long way.

This recipe is flexible enough that you can use canned or rotisserie chicken so it's more of a heat and eat meal.  Also, if you can only get fresh cilantro I suggest adding it at the end of the cook time along with the noodles and allow it all to warm together.  Fresh cilantro is too strong to cook as long as the chicken would need to if starting with raw.

Enjoy this hearty and body-warming soup on a chilled winter day!


Fudgey Sundae for Under 250 Calories

A sundae even a dieter could love...

230 Calories, 5 grams of Fat, HOWEVER you get 10g of Fiber in this baby!

The secret to this sundae's greatness is that there are really only two healthier-option items in it. What works here is that age old saying about moderation being key oh yeah and a serious serving of fiber.  I would not suggest this as a breakfast replacement, just as an example of that moderation, but if you've got a serious hankerin' for some chocolate, this should do the trick.

Thanks to awesome blogger and now Food Network star, Hungry Girl, I have come to love these Vita Top Muffins.  So far I've only bought the double-chocolate, but they totally work as a brownie replacement in this recipe.  Word to the wise - they don't stay good very long in a cabinet, so keep them in your freezer. They are a quick 18 seconds until thawed.

Here we go!

Fudgey Sundae
1 Deep Chocolate Vita Top Muffin
1 Tbsp Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
1/4 Cup (or 1.9 oz on a food scale) Bryer's All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream
2 Tbsp Fat Free Whipped Cream (the type in the spray can)
1 Maraschino Cherry

Heat one Vita Top from frozen in the microwave for 18 seconds in the bowl you are serving it in. Using a scoop or a measuring cup, try to get pretty close to the 1/4 cup amount of ice cream. This is important for the calorie and fat count. Plop on top and surround with 2 squirts (approx 1 Tbsp each) of the Fat Free Whipped Cream. Very finely drizzle 1 Tbsp (or about 3 seconds) worth of syrup over the sundae. Top with the cherry!

Just perfect to curb a sweet tooth!!!!


Sub-Series: Restaurant Reviews - The London Tea Room

The London Tea Room
Washington Ave.
St. Louis, MO

Took a delightful friend of mine out for a "cuppa" and lunch and I think we both have rave reviews to share!

Price: Around $30 for two, sharing a pot of Goddess tea, sweet treats and hearty lunches gave us pause, but the experience was worth it after all.

Ambiance: Quaint and quiet, marble top tables, comfy wood chairs, and a wall of shiny tins with tea. English furniture shop adjacent: cute!

Iron Goddess of Mercy Tea: Mouthwatering, earthy, light, and fresh; a tea tied to beautiful legend. A sprinkle of turbinado sugar perfected the warming blend.
(Click here for the namesake's legend.)

Sweet Treats: Eccela cake with currants galore, made my sweet tooth no more! Flaky crust and just lightly browned, filled the gap 'til lunch came 'round!

Croque Monsieur & Broccoli Cheddar Bisque: The bisque so-so, sad to report, but the pugliese bread delighted: wrapping great Gruyere and Muenster among a pile of shaved smoked ham.

Brie and Apple Sandwich & Cream of Tomato Bisque (Guest Meal): The apple peel among soft brie left texture desired, but the tomato soup opened her eyes wide in flavor-to-be-admired.

Overall: Drink Me, Eat Me, the coquettish menus boast. Enjoy a giggle next to a tradition long upheld in this urban tea house where cultures meld.

I highly encourage all of my readers to also check out The London Tea Room website. Their brews are available to be shipped! Besides the one recommended here, The Queen of Hearts is an amazing treat as well (reminiscent of flavors found in Earl Gray, but with a mellow twist.)

Sub-Series: Restaurant Reviews - Rosalita's

Wow! Was my last restaurant review really in 2010?! I guess 2011 must have gone by fairly uneventful in the restaurant visiting world.  I am back with a vengeance, however, so you'll be seeing some of my absolute favorites coming up for review for the first time as well as some totally new places for us.

Now, let me start with Rosalita's... a great Mexican cantina in downtown St. Louis on Washington Ave.  We detoured due to a closed highway and ended up staying for a few drinks and dinner!

I couldn't take a lot of pictures without looking like a total tourist. The dining room was dim and the flash on my camera was a bit too obvious.

So here we go!

Rosalita's Cantina
Washington Ave.
St. Louis, MO

Now, we went all out and spent a grand total of about $75 for the two of us after tip.  We had a phenomenal server, so she got the full 20% gratuity.  Considering we each had two alcoholic drinks, full entrees, and dessert, I'd say the price was just right.

Appetizer: Chips and salsa were sublime! Crunchy, salty, fresh chips and garden delicious salsa treat the taste buds.

(Guest Post by Joshua) Classic Rosalita's Margarita:  They said they sell 100 gallons a week. I TOTALLY believe it - these were AMAZING. Now I want to try the 168oz "Tower of Power!" 

Paella Mexicana Entree: A swirl of flavors; surely the chef's best dish-a-sizzling carrying tomato rich rice, buttery scallops, freshest shrimp and spice a poppin'.

Service: Luck was a lady this night as Jane catered to our every culinary need with speed and agility. Friendly banter made our night.

Ambiance: Rustic, heavy wood dining sets, meticulously tiny-tiled walls, and low mood lighting lent to an old-world down-home good food feel.

Overall: Strolling Washington is a treat for the senses and the lure into this cozy cantina is no disappointment. A new regular spot!



I would've taken a picture, but we ate them up so fast, there wasn't time! Joseph ate TWO of these mini-sized burgers!

Thanks again to Sneaky Chef for another great idea. I can't find this one online either, but it is from her book The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue.  Basically she adds pureed green lentils and wheat germ to very lean ground beef.  They are pan-grilled and then placed with ketchup, mustard, and pickles (or toppings of your choice) onto a mini-slider bun

The burgers were just a tad on the moist side for my taste, but skipping even a tablespoon of the puree would probably fix that.  We all loved them - and like I said, my 3 year old ate TWO. Two sliders, a few chips, and a cup of applesauce. Must've been good!

I also wanted to make a mention that I have a few restaurant reviews coming up before January is over.  First The London Tea Room for a tete-a-tete with a BFF in downtown St. Louis, then a local Mexican food favorite named Mariachi's for a Girl's Night Out, and lastly a stop at Highway 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen after my fiance and I use our free guest passes to a showing of Sunday in the Park with George at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre.

All of the above places are linked to for your convenience.  Feel free to browse them and let me know your feelings or even make a request for me to try an interesting looking menu item on your behalf!!!


Yummy (and Sneaky) Breakfast for a Week!

This is definitely a review of a recipe.  I can't even post the recipe here because she hasn't shared it for free on her website (though there are some other goodies at www.thesneakychef.com).

I can, however, direct you to her  latest book: The Speedy Sneaky Chef.  Missy Chase Lapine has done something brilliant in this book... she uses her purees and addition of wheat germ and ground flax seed to boost the nutrition of packaged foods. For busy moms like me, this is a really useful trick.

My 3 1/2 year old is as picky as the next kid even though I constantly offer him many food choices.  He's not big on veggies or certain fruits, so I serve him the few he likes and pack the rest into the foods he loves around them.

I made her Banana Breakfast Quick Bread from the book mentioned above and they have been a hit!  While my fiance and I both know what's been added to the box mix, we are still loving the little muffins.  To make this experience even better, I got to use my new mini-cupcake maker and the mini-muffins came out moist and delicious. In fact, I cleaned my house during the 8 minute bake time these had as I made several batches to last us the week.

Just a little spoiler: she uses a store-bought whole-grain banana nut muffin mix and adds a puree of sweet potato and carrot as well as wheat germ and a boost of fresh banana to make them full of fiber and nutrition. And you know what they taste like? Bakery quality banana nut muffins.

For our Sunday snack night, I'm going to try her sneaky baked taquitos (with white bean puree). And by adding a little of that orange puree (sweet potato & carrot) to our normal chili cheese queso dip, I'll add fiber and nutrition to other fairly junky snacks.  And I'll tell you... we don't even notice a difference.

Happy, healthy eating!



So this was a pretty rough first day back to work and subsequently a bit of a rough evening... especially spending it alone.

Despite my Fazoli's cave-in (extra breadsticks and turtle cheesecake ordered) I remembered a most delicious low-calorie cocktail from Hungry-Girl's weekend episode on Food Network.

Big props to her - recipe and linkage in just a moment....

First let me tell you about my local Wal-Mart's after New Years Eve sale... sparkling wine for less than $6 in a bottle that has a resealable pressure cork.  This is reason enough to try a new recipe!

Ok so sipping one (or three) as I post... here you go!!!!*

PER SERVING (1/8th of recipe, 1 flute): 75 calories, 0g fat, 2mg sodium, 4.5g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 3g sugars, <0.5g protein -- PointsPlus® value 3* 
Prep: 5 minutes
Half a 15-oz. can (about 1 cup) sliced peaches in juice, drained
16 fresh raspberries
1 (750-ml.) bottle sparkling white wine, chilled
Puree peaches in a small food processor or blender. Evenly distribute the puree among 8 champagne flutes, about 1 tablespoon each. Place two raspberries in each flute and top with the wine. Enjoy!

PS - Maraschino cherries work just as well as raspberries.

Sip, sip, and away! :)


2011 Food in Review

With a year just ending and a new one beginning, I feel compelled to look back on the tasty... and the tasteless, and share the gastronomical experiences a year has brought me.


Worthwhile - Good quality blender and small food processor, fantastic set of knives, having "too many" of the same baking pans, 3 different sized Crockpots (which saved me in more than one last minute get-together), Lock & Lock food storage containers, low-cost digital cookbooks on Kindle and Kindle Fire, and Ziplist recipe box/grocery shopping list application for my phone.

Worthless - Electric pressure cooker with a failed gauge (less than a year old!), virtual or paper post-its for grocery lists, "free" (aka worthless) digital cookbooks on Kindle, cheap plastic ice cube trays, mismatched glassware, and hand-crank apple peelers that claim to skin potatoes.

Trust me, there's a story behind each of these LOL  Most of them start with, "I was trying to... and I found out that..." combined with either a giant cunning grin or a frustrated scrunchy face.

Food Bloggers

Worthwhile - All my "grass roots" type ladies who are making it big! I think the most successful way to touch a domestic-chef's heart is to use NORMAL ingredients.  Some of my favorites include Hungry-Girl Lisa (who made it to Food Network on popularity alone!) and sweet genius Gina from Skinny Taste!

Worthless - The "froo-froo" chefs who send you on a wild goose chase to the expensive grocery store for an item that you can barely find crammed into their exotic foods section. Um. It's a recession. Cook real food now, k?


Worthwhile - Places that give calorie counts and healthier options on the menus and, of course, all local eateries.

Worthless - Places that are sure we don't care what fat-laden mistreated animal pieces we're shoving in our faces and only offer palm-slicking, teeth-coating menu options.  Yeah and national chains... franchise it or be lost in the big-chain shuffle. I want to support fellow business owners near me, not line the pockets of some overly-tan schmuck doing all his business from a 4G tablet on some exotic beach. Though, I guess, good for you for climbing that creaky corporate ladder...

Don't get me wrong, I'm still gonna get a chick'n nugget and paper sleeve of golden fries every now and then. Just don't count on my last dime - if I'm gonna spend what little I have to give, I'm gonna look for quality and a conscience.

Tomorrow's blog - gonna feature a *delish* soup I learned a few years ago and a couple recipes that have become my recent favorite from my lovely lady bloggers!

Rebirth: The Recipe Saga Continues

Love the look?
Notice the winter veggies in the background? They won't stay long! But they do stick to the ribs as they're meant to for the chilly winter months.

Naturally, I will post sprint veggies just as soon as they sprout!

So, what housekeeping have I done? I've cleaned things up a bit here, removing things not related to cooking and -well- eating. I'm particularly awesome at the latter and hope to prove good taste in the former as you journey with me here.

While I haven't given up my dream of becoming a published author, I find that reality is leading me to another passion on a daily basis... cooking.

The science of baking intrigues me, the solitude of spices seduces me, and the multitude of available recipes amazes me!  Why reinvent the wheel when they are out there in all shapes and sizes - recipes for all tastes and diets?

So, for 2012, please look forward to recipe reviews and original postings as well as the sub-series reviews on local restaurants.  I'm going to give it to you straight every time, even if it means a negative review.

Please feel very free to leave comments and suggestions! I look forward to this journey together.

Happy New Year!