Meg’s Cooking Corner

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dinner and a Movie: Gyros

I can't make greek gyros without thinking about "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Such a fun movie, and you can't beat the combo of family and good food. I love gyros because like tacos, the toppings are easy to personalize. I combined several different recipes to make this one. We like our flatbread/pitas charred and crispy, but you can also fold them soft like a sandwich. Hope you enjoy - Opa!

Greek Gyros

1-2 lbs 1-inch-thick sirloin steak (or can use rotisserie chicken)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Flatbread or pita bread
Toppings: thinly sliced cucumber, tomato and red onion, olives, shredded romaine or baby spinach leaves, lemon wedges

Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup plain yogurt (greek-style if you can find it)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated (or 1 tsp jarred minced garlic)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 dashes hot pepper sauce (optional)

  • Preheat broiler or a grill to medium. Drizzle the steak with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes, or until done to your liking. Let cool slightly, then thinly slice.
  • While steak is cooking, puree the feta, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and spices in food processor, blender or magic bullet. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Char the flatbread/pitas under the broiler or on the grill. Top with the steak and your choice of toppings. Serve with lemon wedges and yogurt sauce.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sneaky Summer Snacks

While I usually enjoy having all my children home for the summer, I do not enjoy the endless begging for snacks. What's a desperate mom to do, with food prices rising as fast as my boys' appetites? Here are some snacks that my kids love to eat and I love to serve because they are healthy:

-yogurt with granola mixed in
-all-natural fruit leather (costco sells them)
-fresh or dried fruit (Costco sells dried cherries & dried mangoes that are awesome!)
-homemade muffins with a vegetable puree mixed in (more on purees later)
-veggies with dip (okay, okay, so my kids don't enjoy this often!)
-homemade or store-bought popsicles (whole fruit ones are preferable)
-string cheese or cheese w/crackers (Try FoodShouldTasteGood Multigrain tortilla chips/crackers. They are great plain, topped with cheese or try with melted cheese for healthier nachos. Thanks to Michelle W. who found them at costco {thank heavens we have a new costco nearby!})

Try these recipes for easy summer snacks that the kids can help you make:

Fruit & Cheese Kabobs
1 pint fresh strawberries, halved
1 1/2 cups red or green grapes
1 pkg (8 oz) cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese cubes
(You could also add other fruits your family enjoys, like melons or pineapple)

On 12 wooden skewers, alternately thread the fruit and cheese cubes. Serve with dip.

Fruit Dips:

Mix 1 cup (8 oz) vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp honey and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Serve immediately with fruit or refrigerate.
Mix 1 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt with 1 1/2 cup cool-whip. Can add colored sprinkles for fun right before serving.

Berry Yogurt Popsicles:

1 can pear halves in heavy syrup
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups vanilla yogurt

Drain the pears, reserving 2 Tbsp syrup. Place ingredients in a blender. Cover and mix until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups with wooden sticks. Freeze until firm, 2 hrs or more.

Orange Creamysicles:

1 (6oz) can orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 1/4 cups heavy cream

Mix together and pour into six popsicle molds or paper cups with wooden sticks. Freeze until firm, 2 hrs or overnight. (To unmold, it helps to set the molds or cups in hot water for 30 seconds to loosen).
Frozen Bananas on a Stick:
  • 4 medium firm ripe bananas, halved crosswise
  • 1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips (also try white chocolate or butterscotch chips)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Choose for topping: granola, coconut, crushed nuts or cookies, mini choc chips or sprinkles
Peel bananas and insert a popsicle stick into cut end. Wrap loosely in wax paper and freeze for two hours. In top of double boiler (or microwave) melt chocolate with cream and butter until smooth and set aside. Transfer melted chocolate to a tall, narrow glass. Dip each banana into the chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Roll in favorite topping. Serves 8.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Homestyle Amish Biscuits

One of my major food weakness is bread. But not just any supermarket bread will do, we're talking hot, crispy bread from my bread machine, homemade buttery rolls & biscuits or sweet wholesome muffins. Oooh, I'm hungry already! These amish biscuits are a quick favorite to make and would be great with the jambalaya, hearty casseroles or soup.

Homestyle Amish Biscuits
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup cold butter or margarine
1 cup cold milk

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter or margarine (using a pastry blender or two knives) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until moistened. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Makes 1 dozen and they are great with jelly/jam.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Strawberry Spinach Salad

I love combining recipes to fit my tastes. This strawberry salad is a favorite during the summer!

Strawberry Spinach Salad
1-2 bags baby spinach leaves, or 6 cups fresh spinach, washed & torn
1 pint fresh strawberries,, sliced
1 pkg (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds or walnuts, toasted
red onion, sliced in rings

Combine ingredients in a large salad bowl. Serve with dressing. Enjoy! (My favorite salad dressings for this would be Good Seasons Red Raspberry vinaigrette with poppyseed, Brianna's Rich Poppyseed dressing or a good balsamic vinaigrette)

Family Favorites

I will post my recipes here now instead of on my family blog. Here are some family favorites.

Chicken Rice Casserole
(my favorite "comfort casserole" for these cold nights huddled around the heater!)

1 box Long Grain Wild Rice Mix, cook per directions on box
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup chopped celery
1 small onion, chopped
7-8 chicken breast tenders, cooked and diced

Combine all ingredients and put in greased casserole dish. Top with 1 small can fried onion rings. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Watch so top doesn't burn during last few minutes.

This is a great and easy dessert to make. I love it because you can use different flavors of pudding. Try lemon in the spring, pumpkin spice in the fall, and chocolate anytime!

Versatile Pudding Dessert
(from my mother-in-law Cindy, appropriate as this is Mother's Day!)
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 stick butter (softened)

-Mix together and press into a 13x9 pan. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Cool.

1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup cool whip (buy the 12 oz size)

-Whip with beaters and spread over cooled crust.

2 small pkg instant pudding
(any flavor, my favorites are chocolate, lemon or pumpkin spice)
2 1/2 cups milk

-Whip and pour over cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining cool whip.
-Optional: Sprinkle with chocolate chips or shavings, lemon zest or slices, crumbled gingersnaps, etc. to match your pudding flavor)

This is another easy dinner that the whole family enjoys and gets those veggies into your kids and husbands! Enjoy.

Maple-Roasted Chicken Thighs

4 large skinless chicken thighs (1 1/2 lbs)
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 (16 oz) bag baby carrots
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 450. In large shallow roasting pan, combine ingredients and toss to coat. Roast chicken mixture 40-45 minutes or until juices run clear and liquid in pan thickens slightly. Stir vegetables and turn chicken over halfway through roasting. Enjoy!