Why this blog??

Why this blog?? I often find myself stressing over what to make for my family for dinner. We live a busy life and some meals need time to prep, cook and let's not forget shopping for everything you need. I love cookbooks and websites, but there are so many recipe's at times it is overwhelming. The recipe's I will be posting are things I actually made. I will tell you if they are easy or more time consuming. I will also tell you if they are good. Most of these are recipe's I have made for years and continue to make because they are easy or quick and my family loves them and i know yours will too! I will also try to at least once in a whlie try a new recipe I've found on line or in a book and honestly rate it. I always encourage others to send me their favorite recipe's as well! I am a mom... not a chef. But I am a mom who enjoys cooking for her family and making a somewhat healthy meal (some days more healthy than others:) ) In each recipe I will share how I recommend serving it, any substitutions I can think of that are also good, or ways to prepare ahead of time to make the cooking part seem quicker! I am not a photographer, as you can see... most of these pictures are taken from my phone camera, so may not be the best! I love to hear from others who have made these recipes and what they have done to change the recipe... please post comments! Thank you! To "like" me on facebook, go to this link... It's What's Cookin

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cheeseburgers... McD's style

We love burgers, but I don't always want to get out the grill. Plus I LOVE McDonalds burgers. Wish I didn't, but I do. So making a cheeseburger that tastes as good as McD's, but MUCH healthier (and I know exactly what is in it) is a huge hit in this family!

Serves 8 cheeseburgers
*1 lb lean ground beef (i use organic grass fed ground beef. You can taste the quality!)
*8 hamburger buns (I like Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White buns)
*Classic yellow mustard
*2 T dried onion flakes
*1/2 Cup boiling water
*16 dill pickle slices
*8 thin slices deli american cheese

1)Put the dried onion flakes into the boiling water and let sit till rehydrated and no longer crunchy
2)Take meat and make 8 balls. Flatten each ball with your hand or wax paper till 1/8 inch thick
3)Brown faces of buns in fry pan over medium heat. Remove buns and in same pan cook burgers about 2 mins per side- salt each side to taste
4)On top bun, spread ketchup, mustard and onion in that order and add two pickle slices.
5)Put beef patty on bottom bun. Place cheese slice on top of patty. Quickly slap top bun on. Microwave for 15 seconds (until cheese melts).

We serve with Ore-Ida brand french fries or tater tots on the side. You could always do healthier sides too, such as corn on cob, baked beans or a dinner salad. Enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Turkey, Cheese and Avocado Melt

A recipe for a sandwich?! I know, sounds crazy. I mean, who doesn't know how to make a sandwich? This sandwich is SO good I had to share though. My husband and I love it and my daughter loves it minus the avocado!

*2 slices of Whole Wheat Bread
*1 slice cheese (I do cheddar or american)
*1 tsp butter spread 
*3 thin slices of deli turkey
*1/2 avocado cut into 4 wedges

1. Take one piece of bread and lightly butter one side. 
2. Place a fry pan over medium heat on the stove. Once heated, place the buttered piece of bread in the pan- butter side down. Now place the cheese on top. 
3. Once cheese starts melting on the bread, place the turkey on top of the cheese. Then add the 4 avocado slices on top of the turkey. Place top piece of bread on top.
4. Flip over and toast for another 30 seconds or so till bread on bottom turns a bit golden. 
5. Cut on a diagonal and serve.

I love how the cheese and turkey are hot and melted and the avocado stays cool and creamy tasting with the semi crunchy bread. I serve this with my daughters favorite snack- Apple slices and 1T of peanut butter for dipping her apple in.  A cold glass of milk for her and some ice tea for me makes this a great lunch!

cheese starting to melt

after being flipped over


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Warm Bruschetta

I am obsessed with this recipe. Some days if my husband won't be home for dinner, I just make this for myself and have a glass of wine with it. It's great as a side to a meal or as a appetizer. We make it a lot along steak or even just to accompany a big salad.

*2-4 tomatoes- cut into thin slices
*2-3 T EVOO
*2-3 minced garlic cloves
*around 1/4 cup italian bread crumbs
*around 1/2 cup shredded cheese (italian blend or i usually use cheddar or a colby/jack mix)
*italian seasoning
*Loaf of fresh italian or french bread- cut at angle into 1 inch slices.

Heat oven to 250. On a cookie sheet, drizzle about 2-3 T EVOO.  Dip tomato slices into oil so both sides get oil on them. Place tomatoes in single layer on cookie sheet. Sprinkle garlic over so garlic goes on and in between tomatoes. (use more or less garlic depending on how much you like garlic). Season with italian seasonings (small pinch on each tomato). Then use a medium pinch of bread crumbs on top of each tomato. Top each tomato with a large pinch of cheese. Put in oven and bake for about 10 minutes... or until cheese in melted and tomatoes are warm and soft. Place a tomato slice on a piece of cold bread.

YUM. Have a glass of red wine and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beer Brisket- "Cook This, Not That"

I absolutely love the book "Cook This, Not That!" By David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding. Not only does it give you better choices for things you already love to eat, but it also has some really great recipes in it... including this one! Here is what the recipe says in the book...

"Don't mess with Texas, they say, and we try not to. But it's hard not to fall in love with some of their more inspired culinary treasures like fajitas, nachos, and smoked brisket. They all share one thing in common, though: a need for nutritional improvement. We deliver that here with a leaner cut of beef, a light sauce, and a modest portion size." They then compare this recipe to the Lone Star Steakhouse's Texas Ribeye. This recipe saves you 622 calories and $16.85 per serving!

*3-4lb lean brisket
*2 Tbsp chili powder
*1 tsp smoked paprika (I just used regular paprika)
*Salt and Black pepper to taste (I used a mixture of sea salt and kosher salt and black pepper)
*1 can/bottle dark beer (i used guinness and I used 1 1/2 bottles)
*1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
*1/2 cup ketchup
*2 Tbsp honey

Here is the recipe they give... see my notes below to see how I did it a bit differently.

*Preheat oven to 325. Rub brisket all over with chili powder, paprika and salt/pepper. Place brisket in baking dish, pour in half of beer and cover thightly with foil. Bake for 2 hours, until brisket is very tender.
*At this point, you can eat brisket and be really happy with results. But to add that authentic char and smoky flavor, you'll need to heat a gas or charcoal grill (if using charcoal, add handful of soaked hickory or oak chips for great smoky flavor).
*Combine half of remaining beer with vinegar, ketchup and honey and brush over brisket. Place on coolest part of grill and cook until lightly charred all over, brushing with more of beer mixture along way. After meat rests for 10 mins, carve and serve with a bit more sauce or on a warm roll for a mean brisket sandwich.

****I cooked mine at 250 for 6 1/2 hours in the oven. Then I used the gas grill till it was slightly charred on outside. This is good served alone with the sauce (i recommend mash potatoes as a side). Also good first day or as left overs as a sandwich! I used 3/4 beer in the cooking and another 3/4 beer in the sauce... don't be wastefull- drink the rest:)

Before cooking- in about an inch of beer

After about 6 1/2 hours of slow cooking at low temp in oven

Grilling and brushing on the beer sauce

As Sandwich

Enjoy! Spoon more sauce over top of this.

I LOVE this cookbook. Full of great recipes as well as tips!