Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Perfect Beginning

My mom and dad's favorite food is Italian and if I could speak Italian and live anywhere, I would choose Italy. Naturally, making Italian food is something we do a lot. Last Friday night I had a romantic dinner with my mom and myboyfriend to celebrate our (my honey and I's) 5 month anniversary. Yes, I just said a romantic dinner with my honey and my mom. Romance apparently doesn't just come in duos. I made us a fabulous Italian Flag Dip, Eggplant Parmesean, and home made Scarborough Fair Herb Bread. My honey had driven 4 hours and it was excruciating waiting for him and just as I walk to the front door to check on his arrival, guess who approaches. You guessed it, Scott, in perfect timing. Just as I open the door to take a picture of what 'waiting' looks like, he rounds our big van all smiles. We welcome him to our Italian lake house and wrap him in the scents of Italy. His road fatigue vanished as hand him a fabulous Malbec wine that I hand picked up for this occasion.

I clinked glasses with him wishing him a happy 5 month anniversary and he looked surprised and I laughed. "Don't worry, I just figured it out this morning while we were at the grocery store." He laughed and the three of us sat down to a delicious Italian meal. Scott said, "You didn't have to wait for me." My mom and I being nonstop cooks in search of guests to eat the endless supply of food we prepare so we don't eat it all replied, "Of course not, we wanted to. We needed someone to eat all this food!" We have our own alterior motives, you must understand.

We sat around the table and feasted on Fresh Baked Scarborough Fair Herb bread, Eggplant Parmesean, Italian Flag Dip, and of course a lovely salad of fresh romaine and tomatoes tossed in a light vinegar and oil. It was the perfect beginning to what turned out to be a perfect weekend. Let yourself enjoy a perfect beginning too!

Italian Flag Dip

3 large tomatoes; diced
3 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 cup fresh basil; chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. parmesean cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients above and serve with bread toasts or really good crackers for a delicious spin on one of our favorites, the Italian flag. This is similar to a salsa, but made Italian style!

Eggplant Parmesean
1 large eggplant
2 tbsp. low fat olive oil mayo
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cups tomato sauce
2 tbsp. garlic
2 tbsp. italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant into half inch circles leaving skin on. Spread each side of slices with mayo and dredge through panko bread crumbs. Place in one layer on a greased cookie sheet. Bake eggplant slices for 20 minutes. They will be softened.

Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce, garlic, and italian seasoning in a bowl.

To create, grease a baking dish with olive oil spray. Place 1/4 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom. Layer slices of cooked eggplant on the bottom of the dish and cover with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. Place another layer of eggplant and continue layering with tomato sauce and shredded cheese until all ingredients are used up. Bake in 325 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes and then serve on top of spaghetti noodles and alongside the salad and bread recipes below! :)

Scarbourough Fair Herb Bread

3 cups bread flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 3/4 cup warm water
4 tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. sage
2 tsp. rosemary
2 tbsp. melted butter

Grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans.

Combine 1/4 cup warm water, honey, and yeast. Whisk together and let sit about5 minutes. It will begin bubbling indicating that it is getting happy!

Combine 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour and salt and 2 1/2 cups of warm water. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and water mixture and continue stiring to combine. Add the rest of the flour, 1 cup of whole wheat and 1 cup of bread flour.

Stir until smooth and gently kneed the dough with your hands, covering your hands with flour before kneeding to avoid having the dough stick to your fingers.

Cover and put in a warm place and let rise for an hour. It will double in size.

After an hour kneed the dough for another 25 strokes and divide the dough in half evenly and place half in each of the loaf pans.

Cover and let rise for another hour and it will once again double in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees after 30 minutes and continue to cook for 15 minutes covering the bread with foil to prevent over browing. Bread will sound hollow when you tap on the top. This is a good thing!

After the last 15 minutes, remove the bread from the oven and brush with melted butter. Cool for 15 minutes and serve immediately. These two loaves will serve 16-20 people... Maybe!

Mental Health Tip: Don't freak if someone is running behind or you forget something semi important. It is never too late to grab a bottle of wine, an eggplant, and some lettuce and make any day special. Even if there isn't a special occasion, treat yourself to one. If you don't deserve a special occasion, who does? I mean really. You deserve a Mental Health Day every once and a while. Celebrate your mental stability.. even if you aren't at the moment! :)

Here is to new beginnings from your kitchen from ours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

Monday, February 22, 2010

How it all began...

Some have asked me, where did we get the idea to write a cookbook? Great question. I had been living with my mom and dad since June 2009 and around August my mom starts complaining about her huge pile of cut out recipes that we have now added mine too. Then she suggests we use all of these recipes to write a cookbook. I say, "Okay, but if we are going to do this we are doing it right and getting it published and that is the end of it. Either we do this all the way or we don't waste our time." My mom says, "Okay, I'm in." and together we began our year of cooking all of our recipes together. These are her words....

"Allow me to begin with a few questions...

  • Have you or other people you know like your mom or grandma or auntie or sisters or dad or grandpa or brothers-- friends -- ANYBODY ever cut out recipes from the daily newspapers, magazines, on the back of boxes or cans?
If you answered in the affirmative, please continue to the next question...

  • Do you or people you know have a pile of cut out recipes somewhere lying around? Maybe like in a drawer, cabinet, shelf, bowls, or several overflowing folders that are jammed in closets, drawers... Are you getting the picture?
  • Can you ever find the recipe that you want when you WANT it?
  • Do you remember which recipes you even have?
  • Have you cut out the same recipe probably 10 to 15 times?
If yes, keep reading...
  • Do you have grand plans of typing them all up on the computer?
  • Organizing them nicely by food type and category someday...?
  • And lastly, perhaps more important, Do you continue to cut out more recipes buildling your collection taller and taller, messier and messier until you are about to blow a gasket when you see the pile?
I know, I can't stop either and neither can my daughter. It is like this crazy "I've got to have that recipe" addition for which there doesn't seem to be a cure.

This blog is for you and all your family memvers and frieds. We are spending this year, 2010, organizing and cooking ALL of our "cut-out" recipes. many we are updating and changing to make them healthy and nutritious, but we plan to coook and eat ALL of them. Many of these were passed down to us. It is time to finally get in the kitchen and do the cooking and writing!

Please let me thank you all of our FOLLOWERS! You are the BEST! We appreciate your comments and support. We really love it when you try a recipe and share it with friends. Remember this isn't just about the recipes, it is also about the sharing and bringing everyone to the table. Your comments keep our enthusiasm high and brings joy and happiness to our "messy" "hot" kitchen!

Please help my daughter and I spread the love and sanity through food. We are doing the best we can and your support helps us keep moving forward!"

So, in the vein of reminiscing, mom and I threw a Beach Party this passed weekend. We cranked up the wood stove inside, started a fire outside, and made sure everyone got laid when they came in. We made carribean themed food. We started with a Caribbean Salsa with chips and fresh veggies and hummus dip. Then I made a Spicy Pineapple Squash Mash, Cocunut Curry Rice Pilaf, and we served with Fresh Grilled Alaskan Salmon that we caught while we were visiting this summer. We topped it with an Awesome Aioli for a show stopping meal!

Carribean Salsa

3 karge tomatoes, diced
2 jalapenos; diced and seeds removed
1/2 cup sweet onion; diced
1 cup fresh pineapple; diced
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
3 tbsp. garlic; minced
salt and pepper to taste

Make sure all above ingredients are diced and mix together in a large bowl and serve with tortilla chips. I made a huge batch and it was all eaten before I could even get a taste! It was definitely a hit!

Spicy Squash and Pineapple Mash

1/2 cup coconut milk* (See my recipe below for homemade)
1 medium size squash
1 can pumpkin (14.5 oz)
1 cup fresh pineapple; minced
1 can black beans (14.5 oz); rinsed
2 tbsp. chili powder
3 tbsp. garlic; minced
1 tsp. ginger
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place squash on a cookie sheet face up and bake for 40 min. The flesh will be easily peirced with a fork when ready.

In a large bowl scoop out the meat of the squash and combine with pumpkin, garlic, coconut milk, chili powder, curry,ginger, and pineapple. Mash together to incorporate all ingredients. Add the salt and pepper and black beans and mix. Pour mixture into a greased casserole dish and continue baking in the oven set at 300 degrees for 20 more minutes. Serve with plain yogurt that has been mixed with the juice of half a lime for a little extra kick!

Coconut Rice Pilaf

5 cups whole grain rice; cooked according to package directions
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. all spice
3/4 cup green onion; diced
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 small can of diced chili peppers
1/2 cup fresh cilantro; diced
2 tbsp. garlic; minced

Combine the cooked rice with all the other ingredients in a large pot and heat over low heat for 25 minutes or until all flavors have been combined and the rice is hot and sticky! Add salt and pepper to taste! This is a delicious rice to serve alongside pork, chicken, or fish!

Simple Grilled Salmon

1 large filet of salmon
1/2 cup of low fat milk
1 lemon; sliced into rounds
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup fresh dill
Salt and pepper

To prep the salmon, soak in milk for 1 hour prior to grilling. When ready to grill, place the salmon in heavy duty foil and drizzle with olive oil. Rub the olive oil over the meat side of the fish using your hands. Sprinkel with salt and pepper and place fresh dill and lemon sliced on the top and fold the foil over the fish making a pouch.

Heat outdoor grill to medium (approx 350 degrees). Place the foil wrapped fish on the grill and close the lid. Allow to cook for 20 minutes. The fish will be slightly pink in the middle. The timing may vary depending on how thick the fish is cut and how large a peice it is.

We served it alongside an aioli and there wasn't an ounce of fish left!

Awesome Aioli

3 egg yokes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. parmesean cheese
1 tbsp. parsley

Mash garlic cloves and sea salt together in meduim bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until smooth and creamy. Serve over the salmon for a delightful treat!

Mental Health Tip: Winter can be a serious downner. It seems to never. Our remedy is to create fun events where we can be outside, be creative, and bring people together to share a meal! Why not do the same thing and create your own beach party where ever you are!

Happy sunshine days from our kitchen to yours!

~"Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen

Friday, February 19, 2010


Well folks,

Believe it or not mom and I are a "Weekly Winner" in the Phyllo Competition and just recieved a check in the mail. Needless to say I have been jumping up and down and screaming for the last 30 minutes and I know have a calf cramp! But is it all worth it! I am so excited and blessed to have all of your support! Stay tuned because this gives me the opportunity to continue entering and I am still in the running for the grand prize!

My mom was just asking when we were going to get paid for this... I told her "Wait for it mom." We got home from the store and the check was sitting on the counter from the mail today! Ask and you shall recieve, but sometimes you have to Wait For It! I am finding out that it is always worth the wait!

Thank you, Thank you to all our followers and supporters. Stay tuned for more excitement. I won't let you down!

Mental Health Tip: Don't waste your time trying to play it cool when something awesome happens. Scream, jump up and down, whoop, holler, and act like you are 2 again. You deserve it!

All Love,

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fat Tuesday? Who says? Can't it be Phat Tuesday?

Fat Tuesday came and mom and I were faced with a choice. To eat fat or "phat". I had just arrived back from a whirlwind Valentine's weekend with my honey Scott and his family. We had made donuts, homemade pizza (from the Abby's Makin Pizza blog) and eaten meatballs, and steak and shrimp dipped in butter. Needless to say I felt like I had just undergone a "Fat Weekend" without the 'ph'. When mom reminded me about Fat Tuesday, I suggested we have a "Phat" Tuesday instead. You know like rad, supercool, neato? Ooops, I'm showing my age aren't I? Anyway, lucky for me, mom didn't resist the idea and we chose healthy.

We made a delicious Skinny Mini Mexican Stew and ate it with baked corn tortilla strips. Now my mom didn't want to let Fat Tuesday go by without something decadent, so I made us a White Russian for a night cap and of course had a piece of chocolate. Now, we consider chocolate a health food. It has tons of anti-oxidants and is known to affect your brain similarly to falling in love. Which may explain why men are always bringing chocolate home when they are in trouble. Smart thinking on their part. Since my mom is missing my dad something fierce I thought chocolate might help her mental state as well. My mom's thinking... "Chocolate never hurts." My answer is... "Either does flowers!"

In line with this thinking, my mom thinks that this is a time when we rededicate ourselves to being healthy, loving, and happy. Instead of giving up something we love for one month, we prefer to focus on giving ourselves treats in moderation, but treating ourselves well everyday. Lent for us, being Buddhist and all, is really a time to expand our awareness of how we treat ourselves and others. In my family, this is a time to refocus our energy on good and positive things and spread those good vibrations to everyone we see and touch.

We have shifted our focus from fat to "phat" and had a great Tuesday night without any guilt on Wednesday morning. Whatever you do for lent remember to keep it real and keep your days "phat"! And as always, try a recipe and share with us how it went! We hope someone is out there reading this...

Skinny Mini Mexican Soup

1 medium white onion; chopped
1 medium zuchinni; chopped
4 cloves garlic; minced
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 can black bans (14.5 oz); rinsed
1 can To-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies (14.5 oz)
1 small can chopped green chilis (4 oz)
1 jar chipotle corn salsa (we love Mrs. Renfro's_
1 can low sodiom chicken broth (14.5 oz)
2 cups low sodium V-8 juice
1/2 tsp. red pepper
1/4 tsp.paprika
2 tsp. cumin and chili pepper
1/2 tsp. chicken rub
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cooked chicken breasts; chopped

Saute onion, zuchinni, and garlic for 3-5 minutes or onions are transluscent. Deglaze the pan with chick broth. Then pour all ingredients in the slow cooker saving the cilantro aside.

Cook for 6-8 hours.

Serve with green onions, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, and sour cream if desired. Serve along side tortilla chips or corn tortillas for a complete meal.

Corn Tortilla Strips

8 corn tortillas
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven for 375 degrees. Slice corn tortillas into strips and toss in olive oil. Place in single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until crisp and brown.
Salt and pepper to taste

White Russian (or as we call it a Montana Iceberg)

1 shot vodka
1/2 shot coffee liquor
4 oz fat free cream

Pour all ingredients into an 8 oz glass that has been filled with ice. Stir with a straw and enjoy. It is a great er dinner drink on a cold winter's night. Nothing like a little Montana Iceberg in your glass!

Mental Health Tip: When given a choice, the answers may not be obvious. Take a moment to look at the options from all angles and you may be able to come up with something even more imaginative than the original solutions. When in doubt, remember there is nothing wrong with a little chocolate and flowers! Take if from mom and I, despite us missing dad, we are still holding on! Okay, and a little whip cream helps even more!

Here is wishing you a "phat" day and life from our kitchen to yours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recipe for Love

It is almost Valentine's Day and one of those days where the calendar tells us to love. As if we need a calendar to tell us when to love another or when it is most appropriate. For me Valentine's day is every day. I know that sounds a little over the top, but I'm pretty over the top as it is. Valentine's Day gives me a excuse to finally be normal. My over the top antics all of a sudden don't seem over the top, but appropriate one day a year.

My mom and I dug through our piles of recipes and found recipes for delicious Sugar Cookies and Heart Healthy granola. We adapted them, as we do for every recipe, to the way that we really wanted them to be and are giving cookies and granola to our loved ones for Valentine's Day.
Mom and I sat outside to soak up the sunshine while these little Sugar Cookies baked. The frosting set up just like I hoped, but it ran and I ended up with flour all over myself. It was a messy process, but I ended up with pretty cute sugar cookies. 

I was so busy cooking that it was noon before I realized I hadn't eaten anything. My mom was skyping with dad and eating yogurt and our granola and I grabbed a protein bar and ate that so I didn't pass out. 

Dad was telling us about his fabulous gourmet meal he had eaten for lunch while mom and I, the so called 'chefs' ate cereal and granola bars. 

So, we don't always eat gourmet and sometimes baking actually impedes the good eating. 

That is my truth today. Sometimes even baking can get in the way and eating cookies and granola bars for lunch happens. 

Oh well. These cookies were worth it and I hope you all try them on for size yourself!

Here's hoping you a fabulous Valentine's Day no matter what you do or who you share it with. It is another day for love and how could that suck? I am pretty corney so what I did was modify the sugar cookie recipe and make it into a recipe for love. I know, pretty sappy, but maybe you will think its cute. 

Who knows. It was worth a shot. I couldn't find any heart shaped cookie cutters so I literally had to use the chocolate box lid to make the cookies into hearts! Pretty funny really.

Recipe for Love (or sugar cookies) :)
1/4 pound trust (butter)
3/4 cup honesty (sugar)
1 commitment (egg)
1/2 tsp. humor (vanilla)
1 tbsp. patience (milk or cream)
1 1/4 cup enthusiasm (flour)
1/2 tsp. encouragement (salt)
1/4 tsp. support (baking powder)

1. Preheat yourself to 350 degrees to prepare for the love-fest coming your way! Cream the trust and gradually add honesty. Beat the two until you are light and fluffy! Add the commitment, humor, and patience and continue mixing until smooth. Mix the enthusiasm, encouragement, and support together and combine with the trust, honesty, commitment, humor, and patience. Blend well. Roll it out into sheets and cut anyway you like.

2. Bake for a lifetime! Once done, sprinkle with good times! There you have it a recipe for long lasting love.

Frisky Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites

1. Whip all ingredients together. We don't have a blender and I used a food processor and it worked like a charm. This sets up great in about 15 minutes and you are going to want to make sure the cookies are cooled before you frost them. You can add food coloring if you like. I frosted the cookies and dipped them in pink sprinkles for fun and wrote using colored frosting too. Use your imagination and have fun!

Heart Healthy Granola

1/4 cup smart balance butter
1 cup All Natural Adams peanut butter (can be crunchy or creamy)
1/4 cup honey (we used my honey's - Lambeth Honey)
1/2 cup sugar free syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup flax seed
1 cup dried apples (you can also use cherries or cranberries)

1. Heat oven to 250 degrees.

2. Combine the butter, peanut butter, syrup, and honey in a microwave safe bowl and on HIGH for 1 minute to soften all ingredients. Add vanilla extract and salt. Stir until smooth, then add oats, walnuts, dried apples. Mix all ingredients until oats and nuts are completely covered.

3. Spread the mixture evenly on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Heat in the oven for 60-90 minutes checking after an hour for crispness.

4. This is delicious for breakfast served over low fat yogurt or as a power booster in the afternoon slump! Anyway you serve it those you made this for will know they are loved and cared for!

Mental Health Tip: If you don't know what to get your sweetie for Valentine's Day, a little sugar goes a long way. And I don't just mean food. Sweetness, affection, and tenderness go a long way for me for Valentine's Day and is really all I require. That is why Valentine's Day can be everyday. Be sweet to those you love and they will be sweet back. Share the sugar!

Happy Valentine's Day!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hope for Haiti

Like so many of you, I have been following the tragedy in Haiti and have been sending love, money, and whatever else I can think of to help. The destruction seems encompassing. I get overwhelmed watching the news and seeing the pain and suffering going on. I have read many heartwarming stories about children raising thousands of dollars riding their bikes around a park, miraculous recoveries, and families reunited. It is often in times of great pain that stories of great courage and strength emerge.
It is in times like these that I look within. I asked my father, the Zen Buddhist Priest, to offer some suggestions for all of us. How can we help. His response was,
"In Zen practice, meditation is paramount. However, we don't meditate to gain anything. Our mindful meditation is simply a complete expression of our own complete nature. Through this selfless practice of being present each moment we affirm our original completeness and the original complete nature of all things. Through our meditation we and all things are benefited. Thus, just the act of one person meditating can have immeasurable benefits to all beings." 
In essence, we can help the healing in Haiti by starting with ourselves. Start by healing our own hearts, letting go of our own pain and sorrow. One more healed person will make the world a stronger place. One happy person can send shock waves through the universe and heal hundreds. One person meditating can start a butterfly effect of awareness and create a groundswell for living with joy in each moment.

Dogen is the founder of the Soto Zen Secto of Buddhism and his words are:
  • "To Study Buddhism is to study the self (Through meditation and mindfulness)
  • To Study the Self is to come to know the self. (We begin to see how the egocentric monkey mind works)
  • To Come to know the self we can forget the self. (We become able to let go of self-centeredness & attachment to self)
  • When we let go of self we are in harmony and accord with all things. (We help all beings manifest their true natures)."
I am going to heal myself and meditate on positive thoughts. With each positive thought, someone else feels the transmission and can make one more step in the right direction. They can dig a few more inches and find that person under the rubble. The power of positive energy has the ability to transcend. It is what carries us from one adventure to another and beyond one tragedy and into the light of healing and overcoming.

We can do this together as a world consciousness. I do believe that this can and will happen if we all put ourselves into it completely. Heal thyself and the world shall heal. That I believe.
I also believe that healing can come through food. And there is nothing better than a warm, soft, and sweet Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin. Now doesn't it just make you feel good thinking about it?  The banana's rich and creamy textures paired with chocolate and hugged together with whole wheat flour make this desert not only comforting for our souls, but healthful for our bodies and minds.

The perfect comfort in the depths of healing and awakening of a new era for Haiti. If you don't have the money to spare in these poor economic times, give them a gift of healing and make these recipes and heal thy self.

I promise, Haiti will get your message.

Banana Chocolate Chip Enlightened Muffins
2 1/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 cup Ground Flaxseed
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Ripe Bananas; Mashed
1 Cup Non Fat Vanilla Yogurt
2 Large Eggs
2/3 cup aking BSplenda
1/3 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Walnuts; Chopped (optional)
1/4 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and flaxseed. In another bowl combine the eggs, splenda, apple sauce, mashed bananas, vanilla, and yogurt. Beat this with a whisk until smooth.
3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until well incorporated. Then add the walnuts and chocolate chips. The batter will be thicker than regular muffin batter because of the whole wheat flour.

4. Pour the batter into muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. These can also be frozen for up to a month in the freezer after baking so you always have some on hand!
Mental Health Tip: In our busy lives, don't forget to nurture and heal the most important person in your life; you! We will all benefit from a peaceful, hopeful, and happy you!

Peace and healing from your kitchen from ours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen

Monday, February 8, 2010

Celebrating Victory

In life it is pretty easy to celebrate large victories, like the Saints winning the Super bowl last night. However, achievements aren’t always so obvious and many go unrecognized in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. We often accomplish a goal only to rush off to the next task. It is hard sometimes to even recognize things as accomplishments, but victories come in all shapes and sizes. It is part of my daily practice to celebrate all of my achievements. They might not be big, but for me each small step in the right direction should be celebrated. Each moment when you make a choice that brings you closer to triumph deserves a little cheer. If you want to loose weight and you choose an apple instead of a hot fudge sundae that deserves a little happy dance.

The successes I am celebrating today are winning $30 last night, listened to a new friend share life stories, made a great breakfast Sunday morning, laughed with loved ones all weekend, and I finally set up a Twitter account. Go ahead and follow me: My successes might not measure up to the magnitude of the super bowl win, but never the less they are important. I am choosing to celebrate all of the micro-successes that lead up to the big momma victory. We celebrate each win of the super bowl champions along the way right? So why not give yourself the same gift and celebrate your own victories each day?

In lou of the Saints' big win last night, I am taking the opportunity to dig out my favorite recipe for Boast worthy Beignets. They instantly teleport me to the busy streets of the French quarter filled with fun-loving people, jazzy street musicians, and laughter. It is important to celebrate our successes; large and small. It might mean celebrating not hitting the snooze button, taking the dog for a walk, or finally getting that ONE thing on your to do list accomplished.

Please join me in tasting the delicious flavors of success for the Saints and yourselves. And do yourself a favor and drink a creamy café latté with them! You won't be dissapointed and making these sweet treats may be a success you get to celebrate tomorrow!

Boast worthy Beignets

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup splenda
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk (skim preferred)
7 cups flour
1/4 cup shortening
Oil for deep frying, we prefer to use vegetable oil
Confectioners' sugar
Cinnamon (if desired)

Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until yeast is dissolved. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. The yeast will bubble slightly. In a separate bowl whisk together sugar, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk, then pour into the water and yeast mixture. Stir in 3 cups of flour with a wooden spoon; mixing thoroughly to avoid lumps. Beat in the shortening. Then add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. Once all of the flour has been added; kneed the dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes ensuring the flour has been incorporated.

Place the ball of dough back into a large bowl that has been sprayed with baking oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place the covered dough in a warm area for at least 2 hours. This can also be prepared the night before and refrigerated overnight.

When ready to prepare; roll out the dough until it is 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut the dough into rectangles measuring 2 inches by 3 inches approximately. Heat the oil to 360 degrees in a deep fryer or deep saucepan.

Fry 3 or 4 beignets at a time until they are puffed and golden in color. You should turn them over in oil once or twice during cooking. It will take 2-3 minutes per batch. Once done, place them on a paper towel covered plate. They can be kept warm in an oven while the other batches are created or you can drop them in a bag of powdered sugar immediately and begin enjoying!

These should be served covered in confectioner's sugar and eaten fresh out of the fryer alongside a café latté!

Café latté

Brew one shot of expresso and top with steamed milk in a tall 8 to 10 oz. glass. It is the perfect compliment to these boast worthy beignets!

Let the good times roll!

Mental Health Tip: When you reach your goals, keep your promises, and follow your dreams don't forget to celebrate each victory along the way. Every large dream is achieved with small victories. Celebrate every one of them!

Here's hoping for victory for you in whatever you are pursuing!
~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

Saturday, February 6, 2010

In it to win it!

Super bowl is second only to Thanksgiving in consumption days in the United States. You know what that means? Lots of cooking goes on and lots of eating is happening! So I am here to help you all decide what to cook. I am a Saints fan so I am going to provide you with some great Creole ideas so that you can get your munch on and help me cheer on the under dogs!

I am not really competitive about anything. I am typically the one who, during a board game, will give up my turn or bonus card in order to make sure everyone else is having fun. When I tell people this that are extremely competitive I see them literally cringe and slowly back away; afraid this might be contagious. Don't worry it's not. But we all have 'things' that we don't back away from. Recently over our Saucy Italian Pasta dinner I was eating with my honey, Scott, I asked him what my 'thing' was that I don't back down from. He sat across from the candle lit dinner weighing his response. He didn't want to say the wrong thing and jeopardize the night. "Well, you are extremely sensitive about negativity. When ever anyone talks negative you are in there reframing, spinning, and looking for silver linings and rainbows." I laughed, I guess I had never thought of myself as the 'negativity assassin' but I guess that is pretty dead on (pun intended).

I might not be competitive about the football game coming up, but don't you dare say anything bad about the Saints or New Orleans or we might have a face off. So no matter what your 'thing' is or who you are rooting for this Super bowl 44, remember that the only competition for what to eat is making sure that you made enough to feed an army. It is one of the biggest eating days of the year remember! Your guests will love these recipes, I am sure of that.
In honor of the creole roots in New Orleans, I called up my best friend Mike, who is the Ambassador of Mardi Gras and asked for advice. He sent along his famous Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.  With it we are making our Massive Muffuletta and my own Mountain Momma Muffuletta version, which everyone preferred by the way. Of course the largest eating night of the year couldn't be without desert, so we have prepared Apple Pie Pancake Cookies and Delux Caramel Apple Bars.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
1/3 cup butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup chopped scallions
1½ cup uncooked chicken; diced
1½ cup sliced andouille or other spicy smoked sausage
1 cup fresh or frozen okra; diced
2 cups fresh or canned tomatoes
½ cup tomato paste
1 cup of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon sweet basil
½ teaspoon oregano
1 cup raw rice (wild or white can be used)

1. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan or dutch oven. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until tender.

2. Stir in scallions, chicken and sausage and sauté the mixture an additional 10 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, bay leaf, salt, cayanne, basil, oregano and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

3. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions using chicken broth instead of water. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork. 

4. To serve place a generous helping of jambalaya in a bowl and top with a scoop of rice. 

Note: We doubled the recipe and served eight people and still had leftovers!

Massive Muffuletta
1 large round sourdough bread
1 cup outrageous olive salad; recipe follows
4 oz. Genoa salami; thinly sliced
4 oz. pepperoni; thinly sliced
8 oz. black forest ham
8 oz sliced provolone
pepperoncini as garnished (as desired)

Slice the bread in half horizontally and remove a little bit of the bread from inside just to make room for the fillings. Spread 1/4 cup of the olive salad on the bottom and top of each of the halves of bread. Then layer the salami, pepperoni, black forest  ham, and provolone cheese. After each layer of meat and cheese spread more of the olive salad on the top and continue to layer the meat and cheese until everything has been layered.

Place the top piece of bread over the bottom and wrap in foil. Place in the fridge for all the flavors to marinade for at least an hour. When ready to serve slice the into eights and serve with pepperoncinis. Enjoy the delicious flavors of the Saints!

Outrageous Olive Salad

1 tsp. capers
1/2 cup large pimento stuffed olives
1/2 cup large niciose olives
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sweet white onion
1/4 cup celery
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
2 tbsp. garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until just combined. It should be slightly chunky, but very spreadable.

Mountain Momma Muffuletta
1 large round sourdough bread
1/2 cup outrageous olive salad; recipe above
4 oz. Genoa salami; thinly sliced
4 oz. pepperoni; thinly sliced
8 oz. black forest ham
8 oz sliced pepper jack cheese
3 tbsp. cesear dressing
3 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. roasted red pepper
baby dill pickles as garnish (if desired)

This recipe is extremely similar, but I add a few other things and bake it to make a gooey center. We need some extra warmth up here in the mountains.

Sliced the top off the sourdough bread round and scoop out most of the bread making a hollow bowl. Spread 1/4 cup of the outrageous olive salad into the bowl and up along the sides and use the other half for the top reserving some to spread in the middle. Then layer the meats and cheeses making one layer and spread 1 tbsp each dijon mustard and cesear dressing in between each layer. Continue layering the meats, cheese, and dijon mustard and cesear dressing until all is gone. Then top with roasted red pepper and cover the top 'lid' of the bread. Wrap in foil.

Bake in a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to settle for 5-10 minutes. Slice into eights and serve with pickles. Enjoy this delicious warm mountain version of the muffaletta! Delicious!

Apple Pie-cakes
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg
2 cups apples; chopped
2 tbsp. sugar free maple syrup

Using a mixer, combine the butter, apple sauce, sugar, and splenda in a large bowl until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing. In a separate bowl combine the flour,  cream of tartar, baking soda, and spices and combine with a whisk.

Next, add the dry ingredients to the moist ingredients until a dough forms. In a separate bowl, combine the chopped apples and the sugar free maple syrup stirring to coat the apples. Next pour the apples into the dough and using your hands, kneed in the apple chunks.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and drop the dough onto a greased cookie tray using a spoon. Then press the cookies down using a spatula and bake for 15 minutes.

I topped each of these cookies with a 1/4 tsp. sugar free syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon when they came out of the oven and they were delicious! Like apple pie in your mouth from a cookie! Delicious!

Delux Caramel Apple Bars

For crust:

1 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 tbsp. splenda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 apple sauce unsweetened
1 egg
1/4 cup plain fat free yogurt

Combine all ingredients above and kneed into a ball. The dough will be moist. Spread along the bottom of a large greased baking dish.

For topping:

4 cups apples with peels (chopped)
3 tbsp. sugar free maple syrup
2 tbsp. Splenda
2 tbsp. cinnamon
2 cups granola (we love Northern Gold Whole Grain Cereal)
1 cup creamy all natural peanut butter (we love Adam's All Natural)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (we love Hodgson Mill)

Combine all ingredients above in a large bowl stirring to incorporate all well. Then place this topping on the crust in the pan layer it evenly.

For Topping:

1/2 cup sugar free caramel ice cream topping
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Sprinkle the ice cream topping and the chocolate and peanut butter chips on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. This is delicious and you will will be transported back to the golden years of caramel covered apples!

Mental Health Tip: It doesn't matter who you root for during this Superbowl or what your 'thing' is. Do it with enthusiasm and own it. It is you after all and aren't you the best just the way you are? I happen to think so! Cheer loudly, without abandon and may the best team win!

May there be victory in your kitchen and for the Saints!

~"Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


When presented with choices sometimes we don't always make the best ones. We really try, but sometimes we just miss the mark. In my previous blog, I talked about forgiveness, but I feel remiss in not discussing the choices that bring us to having to forgive. When I was faced with that decadent slice of tiramisu at Ciao Mambo, last week in Whitefish, my inner angel said, "Abby that really isn't necessary, is it?" Well, that's when my inner hussy said, "Yeah, but you work hard and for once you AREN'T cooking tonight so treat yourself!" My inner angel responded and sighed, "Oh honey, it really isn't necessary, but you will make the choice that is best for you. I trust you."

Too bad my inner angel trusted me, because I listened to the hussy and ate it knowing I would pay the consequences later, but not caring at the time. It was delicious and absolutely decadent and I enjoyed every moment of it. The next day was another story though. I hadn't slept great because of the caffeine and consequently it resulted in a not-so great morning. Maybe you all can relate... But I had no other choice, but to forgive myself for this slip-up and promise to listen harder to my inner angel next time.

Every day we are faced with choices. Some involving healthy versus greasy foods and some having to do with work, relationships, schedules, and activities. Each day is a long string of decisions that may have a large effect or small one. Either way, each selection is important because it brings us closer to our authentic self. Personally, I am choosing the Saints to win the super bowl, to avoid the extra 6 weeks of winter (that damn ground hog), and love; always love. I can't help you all decide what to wear, how to act, what friends to have, but I can help you make smart decisions regarding food.

In this blog, I have several trampi recipes as I call them because we are using substitutions and essentially 'cheating' on the original ingredients. I have included my fabulous Shrimp Scampi and Sweetie Turkey Meatballs both served with Roasted Spaghetti Squash instead of typical pasta saving lots of carbs and calories. Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite pasta substitutions and contains only 31 calories and 5 grams of carbs per cup. Not to mention it is loaded with potassium and antioxidants! It can also be used for breakfast. To demonstrate, I have shared my Spaghetti Squash Scramble.. Bon Appetite with no need for forgiveness with these recipes!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash
1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
2 tsp. Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Garlic: minced
2 tsp. Dried Rosemary
1 tsp. Onion Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cut the squash in half length wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. 
2. Place each half cavity side up and sprinkle with olive oil, minced garlic, fresh or dried rosemary, onion salt, and pepper. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes. The top of the squash should be brownish and flake easily with a fork when done.
3. To plate, scoop out portions of the spaghetti squash onto each plate using a fork. The spaghetti squash will flake out like noodles. You can eat this alone with a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top or with your favorite pasta sauce to keep it simple..

Servings: 4 ( approx. 1 cup)

Nutritional Skinny:

62 calories / 2.6 g fat / 10 g carbohydrates / 2.2 g fiber / 1 g protein

Sweetie Balls
1.25 lbs. ground turkey
1 medium sweet potato; baked until soft
2 tbsp. garlic; minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire
2 tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. Italian seasoning mix
1 tbsp. minced onion
1 egg
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. bread crumbs

1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until incorporated. Then using your hands, make into small individual balls rolling them to form balls with your hands. 

2. Heat a large saute pan with olive oil and place the balls in the skillet and brown each of the sides turning the balls as they cook through. 
 3. Once they have been browned, place your favorite pasta sauce over them and allow to cook with the pasta sauce for another 20-30 minutes. We used a vodka cream sauce that was amazing! I also have several sauce recipes in previous blogs for you to check out!

4. Serve alongside roasted spaghetti squash with a salad and you are golden! You can also serve with whole wheat linguine pasta which we did this time!

Trampi Scampi with Spaghetti Squash
7 cloves garlic chopped
Fresh or dried basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon grilling seasoning mix
Pepper and salt to taste
Bunch fresh or dried parsley
1/3 cup dry white wine
12-14 shrimp uncooked

1. Combine olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and grilling seasoning mix in a pan and sauté until aromatic and garlic is heated through.

2. Put all of the shrimp in the pan and sauté on each side until both sides are pink instead of grey.

3. Once almost done add the dry white wine to the pan and add a pinch more salt and pepper to taste and turn the heat down and allow to simmer and get happy together for 5-7 minutes.

4. Serve over a bed of the roasted spaghetti squash! Delicious!

Spaghetti Squash Scramble
1 cup leftover spaghetti squash
6 eggs
1/2 white onion; diced
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese
1 small tomato; diced
1 tbsp. garlic
1 tbsp. low fat milk
1 tbsp. basil

1. Heat a large skillet and add onion, garlic, and spaghetti squash. Heat until onions are translucent.

2. Add tomatoes and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl until fluffy and add 1 tbsp. of milk and add to pan along with the cream cheese. Stir all together and add the basil. Cook eggs thoroughly on low heat for 3-5 minutes.

4. Serve alongside whole wheat toast and sliced oranges and this is a smart and healthy start to your day!

If you have leftover shrimp or meatballs, those can also be combined in and are delicious in the eggs for breakfast the next day!

Mental Health Tip: No matter what choices you make everyday, make sure they are authentic and laced with integrity. When given the choice, I choose to make things easier for your friends and loved ones. Even if that just means passing the dish across the table.

Keep your choices healthy and filled with happiness!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen