Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pizza Crust

As promised, here is an easy and delicious pizza crust recipe from my cousin, Beth.

Be creative with your pizza! How 'bout this Thai Chicken Pizza? Or just go for something simple with the freshest ingredients possible. Really, it's tough to loose!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Caved...

I ate out today. After an afternoon of running back and forth across town, and a little episode with my truck. By little episode I mean an annoying incident that left me on the outside of the vehicle while my keys hung out inside, on the seat in plain view. Just taunting me...

Last night I cooked a killer rib-eye with garlic mashed potatoes and a bourbon/thyme pan sauce. After all of the cooking and cleaning yesterday, plus the long afternoon running around, it was very easy to cave in and head to one of our local Mexican joints.

I suppose I am learning about my own weaknesses. Step 2 would involve learning how to combat them...

Tomorrow is another day!

Friday, August 7, 2009

That Was Easy

So far so good! I only ate out once this week.

Let me just say how lucky I am though! My mother lives about 2 miles away, and is retired, AND loves to cook. That means that goodies are constantly getting sent my way. Just yesterday, and I must admit this was a particularly generous day, I received gifts of shrimp and pesto pasta, lasagna, and home made North Carolina style pulled pork BBQ. Now who needs eating on the run when you have treasures like these partying it up in your fridge.

Now that my husband is brewing beer at our house, you may never see us out again! But visit.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ate Out Yesterday...

Yesterday I went to Panara Bread for lunch with friends. See, that's where I get to cheat....It's the "with friends" part that keeps that specific outing in line with my goals. The main purpose of this "month off" is to teach myself that with a little bit of disipline, I can save myself money and calories if I just plan ahead a bit. I however do not plain on curbing my social lifestyle.

Monday's pizza turned out fabulous, and I even made enough to send John off with some for lunch. I really think leftovers will be the key to success here because there is just no excuse for not finding the energy to heat something up for 60 seconds in the microwave, ya know?

Take today for example:

Breakfast: Leftover pancakes.
Lunch: Leftover egg salad sandwich on whole grain bread and some cherries

For dinner I am planning a beef and bean stirfry with a hefty serving of thai basil from my garden. See this recipe for the basics. Sub out any veggies or meats you want!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'll be Eating In, Thank You

I'm back! At least for now.... Ever since our move into a new house, things have been just so busy that my blogging has fallen to the wayside.

Hopefully I will still continue to post recipes and pictures, but for now, I am going to ease back into the blogosphere by posting about my latest scheme to eat more healthy/ save money/ save the world, etc. Ok, maybe the world will not be saved, but I HAVE set a pretty lofty goal for myself.

The goal is to not eat out for an entire month! Save for planned outings with friends, I will be cooking all meals at home and enjoying them! No more random stops at Wendy's while rushing around, or lazy nights when a hectic day has made cooking seem impossible. The perks here will be that I will splurge a bit on ingredients when I really want something. Yesterday for instance I had a bowl full of fresh veggies marinated in a delicious ginger dressing and an entire 1/2 pound fillet of pecan crusted catfish from Whole Foods for only 5 bucks...the cost of a crappy hamburger at McDonalds!

So here goes nothin'

Day 1 Breakfast: Coffee and a homemade granola bar leftover from this weekends bake sale. Yummy!

For lunch, I'll have to see what I can throw together...

Dinner: I've got some homemade pizza crust in the fridge, all set and ready for grilled BBQ chicken pizza this evening.

How often do you eat out? I think I was about 4 times a week...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spicy Turkey Chili

Here's a delicious lowerfat chili recipe that I'd like to pass on. I use lean turkey meat instead of beef, and bulk up the flavors using ancho chili powder, a dash of cinnamon and roasted corn. If you aren't interested in using ground turkey, ground beef would be just as delicious.


1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken or beef broth/stock
4 1/2 Tbs ancho chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 Tbs Mexican oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 large vidalia onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 green pepper
1.25 pounds of 93% lean ground turkey
2 ears of corn
1 can of black beans
3 Tbs pickled jalapeno peppers (diced)

Tasty Garnishes

sour cream
cheddar cheese
raw onions

Serves 6

Start by dicing up onions, garlic and green peppers. Saute ingredients in a large stew pot alongside all of the spices and herbs for about 5 minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften. Add in the turkey, and break up the meat until it is cooked through and in small morsels. Season with salt and pepper. Add in both cans of tomatoes and the black beans (drained of course) and the broth. While mixture is simmering, roast corn in the oven using your broiler until the kernels are golden brown in color. This should take 5-10 minutes. Once cool, slice the kernels from the cob and add into the chili along with the diced jalapeno peppers. Let cook for at least 30 minutes (or all day if you have time) check seasonings and serve with your favorite garnish. We love corn bread with this too!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Broccoli and Tomato Casserole

I hate the word casserole. It implies some sort of mushy baked concoction usually containing one or more cans of condensed soup, some sort of bland meat, and absolutely no personality. But every once in a while you try something that surprises you. May I present to you my Mom's broccoli and tomato casserole. A summertime delight that you'll have to work a little bit for, but trust won't mind one bit once you taste it.


3 cups of broccoli florets
3 large tomatoes ( sliced)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1.5 cups whole milk
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon oregano
a light sprinkle of garlic salt

Start by melting butter in a saucepan and adding in the flour. Stir for about 30 seconds until all of the flour is incorporated. In a microwaveable bowl, heat the milk until warm. Add half the milk slowly to a second bowl containing 2 beaten eggs. You're actually tempering the eggs. Add the other half into the saucepan with the butter and the flour, and whisk thoroughly. Now slowly add in the egg mixture and whisk until thickened. Next add in half of your cheese and 3/4 of the oregano. Stir until combined, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over an oven safe pan containing a mixed layer of broccoli florets and thick slices of tomato. Top with the remaining cheese, and sprinkle with garlic salt and a small pinch of dried oregano. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until slightly brown on top.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chocolate Covered Easter Eggs

Well, it's a little late, but these were so cute I decided to blog them anyway! Put this one in your recipe box for next year, or mold them into another shape for your next themed party. WARNING: THIS WILL SATISFY A SERIOUS SWEET TOOTH!


16 ounces of confectioners sugar (one bag)
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon milk
10oz chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Decorative coating (optional)

red food coloring
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Grass (optional)

1 bag coconut
green food coloring
yellow food coloring
zip-lock bag

In a mixing bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter and milk until blended. Mixture will be crumbly, but you should be able to kneed it a bit into something that almost resembles a stiff cookie dough. Shape mixture into small egg shapes and freeze for about 1 hour. You can freeze these for longer, but you may need to let them thaw a bit before working with them. When you are ready to work with the eggs, put chocolate chips into a saucepan with vegetable oil and melt over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Insert a toothpick into each egg, and dip into the chocolate mixture. When the eggs are cooled and set, remove the toothpick.

To decorate, heat white chocolate chips, vegetable oil, and food coloring as done previously with the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Drizzle this "icing" over your finished eggs.

For extra flair, try this easy coconut grass for serving with the eggs!

Empty desired amount of coconut into a zip-lock baggie. Add in a combination of yellow and green food coloring, close the bag, and kneed with your hands until you have reached a color that is pleasing to you! You may need to use quite a bit of coloring to get a nice rich looking bed for the eggs. I hope your family enjoys!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Smoked Salmon Pizza

Haha! She's back! I mean, I am back...not sure why I switched over into the third person. Over the past year, my husband and I subcontracted our own home, sold the one we were in, and moved into what is the nicest place I have ever had the pleasure of owning. It was one hell of a struggle making ends meet for awhile through the building process, but we're here. We're settled. And dammit, I am ready to cook!

First up, a shoot from the hip (use what's in the fridge) inspired, Smoked Salmon and Caramelized Onion Pizza. Shazaaam...and so delicious!


Enough pizza dough to make a 12'' thin-crust pie
1 tablespoon of cornmeal
1/2 cup cream cheese - room temperature
1/2-3/4 cup flaked smoked salmon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onions
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon of diced chives
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt (optional)

Serves 2- 3

Start by rolling out your pizza dough as thin as you can get it, and placing it on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. This keeps the dough from sticking and adds a nice texture to the crust. Then let it rest for about 30 minutes as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Oh yeah, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Next, place your onions into a small frying pan on medium heat along with the butter and olive oil. Saute for about 3 minutes, and then reduce heat to medium low and add in the sugar. Cook for about another 10 minutes until the onions are very tender and beginning to caramelize. If they look like they might burn during this process, sometimes I add in a splash of water just to help cool the pan down and create a little bit of a sauce for the onions to tenderize in as they cook. Set aside.

After 30 minutes, and before adding any toppings, pop your dough into the oven for 7 minutes. This will give the dough a headstart on the rest of the ingredients and give you a nice crunchy crust. Pull the crust from the oven, up the temperature to 450, and prep the rest of the pizza as the oven heats up. Top with cream cheese, salmon, caramelized onions and parmesan cheese. Season the pizza with a bit of cracked pepper and a tiny bit of salt. Go light here, or skip this step all-together if your smoked salmon is really heavily seasoned. Drizzle with some good olive oil and bake for about 5-10 minutes more depending on how crunchy you like your crust. You're finished! Let the pizza cool for a moment before cutting, and dig in!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

OMG I miss being in the kitchen!

Right now my kitchen is in shambles as we prepare to move to a new home. I must admit, I have eaten McDonald's twice in the past 2 weeks, as well as my share of frozen pizza, and Mexican. Look for a slew of healthy recipes coming your way soon. I intend to take full advantage of this Spring's bounty. Can't wait for colorful food, and dishes that make you feel good about yourself.

Until then....I bid you good-day!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Moving Kitchens

Hi internets! I tried to hold on, I really did, but life is getting crazy. Not only am I the general contractor on my own house right now, but we are also in the process of selling our current home. On top of that, I have a part-time job, and have joined a rock band. Haha! Life can be so much fun! At any rate, Follow the Cook is going on pause until I move into my new digs. The kitchen I will soon have to work in is amazingly inspiring, and I cannot wait to post more of my culinary adventures. For now though, it's business as usual. I'll be back real soon....I promise!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chili Pasta with Avocado and Lime

It's day three after the Superbowl, and Sunday's Chili has just about had it. Take those last few ladles, and spin them into an entire meal your family will love. I tried this on a whim yesterday, and will eat the leftovers tonight. It's waste not, want not these days...


2 cups of chili
2 avocados
1 lime ( sliced into wedges)
1 and 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 lb Bow Tie Pasta
cilantro (optional)

Start by cooking your pasta according to the directions on the box. Everything else will come together as your water boils, and your noodles cook. In a large saucepan, reheat your leftover chili. In the mean time, slice your avocado into chunks and season with a little salt and pepper. Once the pasta is ready, drain it and then transfer the noodles over to your saucepan of simmering chili. Mix everything together until the bow ties are coated well. Top with avocado, cheddar cheese, cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime juice. Hallelujah, these are my kind of leftovers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Wedge

Some nights you just don't have it in you to cook a big meal. The whole process of being creative, and then having to clean up a huge pile of dishes after the meal is just daunting! I've been there...every cook has. Here was my remedy one night this past week, a super simple and yet very appealing salad that was filling enough to be an entire meal. Don't you just love those?


6 large shrimp

1/2 an avocado

1 wedge of ice-burg lettuce

Ranch Dressing



1/8 of a lemon (wedge)

Serves 1

I am in love with those bagged, frozen shrimp that you get at the supermarket. The Foodlion near me usually has at least one size of the shrimp on sale each week, so it winds up being a rather affordable option for a fast dinner. For this recipe, I thawed 6 shrimp by placing them in a bowl and running them under warm water for a couple of minutes. Next, place the shrimp in a small pan with about an inch of water, and boil over the stove until nice and pink. This can take anywhere from 2-5 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp. While the seafood steams, rinse a quarter of a head of ice-burg lettuce, and pat dry. Set the wedge on a plate, and then chunk up 1/2 an avocado and sprinkle on top. Once the shrimp are done cooking, peel them and slice them each in half. Toss the pieces in a bit of fresh lemon juice, and scatter around the top of the lettuce wedge. Season the entire salad with salt and pepper, and top with 2- 3 tablespoons of your favorite ranch dressing. Fast, easy, and elegant. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Roasted Pork Lion with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Here is a recipe that just has to be shared. This is one of the tastiest pork dishes I have had in quite some time, and the sauce even doubles as a killer salad dressing. So here we go folks, courtesy of every-one's favorite Italian goddess, Giada De Laurentiis.



2 heads of garlic
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


1 3.5 to 4.5 lb pork roast
salt and pepper for seasoning

Serves 6-8

Preheat your oven to 475. Slice the heads in half cross wise. Place the halves on a piece of tin foil and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Crumple the foil together to make an airtight packet. Roast for about an hour until golden and soft.

Thirty minutes into the roasting of the garlic, place your pork lion in the oven. Be sure to season all sides, and roast for about 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 140-145 degrees. No need to cook until absolutely well done. The days of trichinosis are behind us!

To prepare the sauce, open the packet of roasted garlic and put the flesh into a blender by squeezing the bottom of each half and allowing the cloves to pop out. Add in parsley, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, and pulse until well blended. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly while the blender is running, and you are all set. Once Pork is out of the oven allow it to rest for about 7 or 8 minutes, and then slice into 3/4 inch thick pieces, and serve topped with plenty of the sauce. I served this the other night with biscuits, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and a salad. This will feed a big group, so invite your friends over and have a party!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Beef Wellington

Oh Internet! I have a confession to make. On New Years Eve, I prepared and served one of the most delicious and elegant dishes I have ever made, the aforementioned Beef Wellington. As I cut into the beautiful layers of pink meat and laid them across each of my guest's plates, I was so happy with the presentation, and so excited to share with my guests that I completely forgot to take pictures! As promised though, here is a very simple and delicious beef wellington recipe that I hope your guests can enjoy as much as mine did.


2 tablespoons of soft butter
2 pound beef tenderloin (trimmed of excess fat)
1 box frozen puff pastry (thawed)
1 egg
1 onion
3 large cloves of garlic
8oz box of button mushrooms
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh sage
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Rub the tenderloin with butter, and then season heavily with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes. This will allow a light crust to develop on the meat before it is wrapped in the puff pastry.

While meat is in the oven, make your mushroom topping. Start by finely chopping one medium sized onion and the 3 garlic cloves. Saute for about three minutes over medium heat with olive oil. Next add in 8 oz of finely chopped mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in the sage and parsley, remove from the heat, and season well. Set aside 1/2 cup of filling to use later in a sauce.

Once the tenderloin has cooked thirty minutes, remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Take the meat out of the pan, top with the sauteed mushrooms, and wrap in your puff pastry. Save the roasting pan and all of the crispy meat drippings for a final sauce to use when serving.

This is where you get to be creative. I was able to place the meat in the center of one puff pastry, and then use strips of the second to cover the top portion of the meat. Brush the individual pieces with egg to help everything stick together. I used any leftover scraps to decorate the top of the roast. (Try using cookie cutters to create really decorate shapes!) You may need to roll out the puff pastry a little bit with a rolling pin in order to make it fit your tenderloin. This is not a long as your puff pastry is somehow secured over your meat using the egg glue, you are all set. Next place the wrapped beef into the oven in a second, clean roasting pan and cover with tin foil. Cook for 15 minutes then remove the foil, and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes for a medium rare roast. You may use a thermometer to get the beef just right for your family. Use this chart as a guide. When the meat is done, allow it to rest for 15 minutes while preparing the below sauce in the meantime.

Beef Wellington Sauce

1/2 cup mushroom topping
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons flour
pan drippings
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat pan with drippings over the stove. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour into the mushroom topping, and saute in pan for about 2 minutes. Add in stock and wine, and whisk together until a thickened sauce begins to form. Season with salt, pepper and parsley. Serve beef slices with a drizzle of sauce, and enjoy!