Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spaghetti with Sausage and Simple Tomato Sauce

I have for you today a family pleasing dinner.  A very easy sauce to make that was so fresh and flavorful.  The addition of sliced sausage, fresh basil and parmesan cheese makes this a delicious spaghetti dish. 

This recipe is featured on the recent edition (April 2010) of Cooking Light's magazine cover.  I doubled the recipe and I had about 3 cups of sauce left over that I froze for another meal.  The leftover sauce will be perfect to use for a quick weeknight meal over some penne pasta, for example.  Or it would be a great sauce to use for a baked ziti.  I will definitely be making this spaghetti again. 

Note:  When I doubled the recipe, I also doubled the red pepper flakes to 1 tsp.  The sauce is on the spicy side which we like but if you don't like spicy food then I would reduce the amount of red pepper flakes you use.       


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  This recipe calls for Hot Italian Turkey sausage.  That is my first choice when I buy Italian sausage because it is a leaner choice.  Unfortunately, my grocery store didn't have Italian Turkey sausage in stock so I did make this recipe using Hot Italian Pork sausage.  Feel free to use whichever type of Italian sausage you prefer. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cajun Frites (aka French Fries!)

I bet you think these french fries are fried.  Surprise!  They are baked and they are very good.  French fries are also known as frites in many parts of Europe.  We are huge fans of all types of potatoes and these baked fries were a big hit with the family.  

It only took 5 ingredients and a quick preparation to make these fries.  And much more healthier for you than frying them.  

The recipe came from the pages of Cooking Light magazine and was part of a full dinner recipe that included flank steak and kale.  CLICK HERE for the recipe on  

Note:  The recipe states that the potatoes will take 40 minutes to bake.  Mine were done in 25-30 minutes.  I would check them in 15-20 minutes, flip them and check them in another 10 minutes or so. 

Speaking of cooking with 5 ingredients, come back next month for the Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club where five bloggers cook dishes from Cooking Light and post about the meal on our blogs.  The chosen theme for April is 5 Ingredients or Less.  Also, read about this month's theme (A Taste of Spring) on Cooking Light's blog: Test Kitchen Secrets.


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  The key to getting these fries crispy is to heat the pan for 5 minutes in a 500 degree oven before putting the potatoes on the pan.  The potatoes will sizzle when it hits the pan.  Also, keep the fries in a single layer.  That will also help in getting them crispy and baked just perfect. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Food For Kids.....A Healthy Meal Plan for Children

Food For Kids is a 7 day healthy meal plan for children developed by Chef Joseph Ciminera.  Chef Ciminera is the host of a PBS cooking show called Taste This TV!  For the past several years, Chef Ciminera, has researched and perfected his healthy meal plan to help fight childhood obesity.  He has brought his recipes and tips to a Food For Kids DVD. (Click here for info)  I was contacted by Taste This TV! to share this information with my readers.  

Here are some facts about childhood obesity from the website.   

Almost 7 million American children and teenagers are believed to have high cholesterol levels.

Overweight kids are on a fast track to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, diseases that we usually associate with middle-aged adults.

Recent reports reveal that up to 40 percent of children with newly diagnosed diabetes have type 2 diabetes, the type closely associated with obesity.

Leisure time is so often spent watching television and DVD movies, playing computer games, surfing the web, or chatting on the internet, rather than outdoor play and activities.

Furthermore, portion sizes have increased quite dramatically leading children to consume more food.

Over the past two decades, the average portion sizes of food have increased by 50 to 135 calories, while the average beverage serving increased from 8 to 20 ounces.

Another factor that impinges upon the nutritional quality of a child's diet is the fact that many American families don't eat meals together very often.

Chef Joseph Ciminera presents a variety of healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes in his Food For Kids DVD.  Recipes such as:

Berry Banana Smoothies
Fruit Kebobs
Whole Wheat Pizza Muffin
Chicken Meatball Subs
Baby Pasta Primavera

The chef also gives eating and food tips that will help parents make better choices for their kids.  Tips such as:

Buy Multi-grain breads and Whole grain pastas
Buy cold cuts that do not contain nitrates
Use more olive oil instead of butter when cooking
Nuts, raisins and granola make great snacks
Cut sandwiches and vegetables in fun shapes (using cookie cutters) to keep food fun

Disclosure:  Taste This TV sent me the Food For Kids DVD for my review.

Chef Joseph Ciminera

As a mom of two teenage daughters, I am always challenged with providing them with balanced nutrition and better food choices.  I try to offer fruit and vegetables frequently.  I give them a variety of breads to make their school lunches with such as multi-grain, wraps or the new sandwich thins.  It isn't easy.  My daughters love chips, ice cream and desserts. (what kid doesn't, right?)  But, I know the more I offer them healthier choices, the more they will eat better which will follow with them into their adult life.  It really is all about balance.  I love to bake and I don't want to deprive my girls of special treats but I do want to teach them good eating habits as well.  Increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains is not only good for my daughters, it's good for me and my husband too.

Do you have any tips and healthy meal choices that you provide for your family?  I would love to hear about them.  Feel free to leave a comment and tell me about them.  

Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  There are hundreds and hundreds of choices when purchasing food in the grocery store and just as many choices when preparing meals in the kitchen.  I appreciate resources such as Food For Kids and the program that Chef Ciminera has developed.  Other great resources are:  Let's Move (Michelle Obama's initiative on fighting childhood obesity), USDA, plus so many great blogs like Meal Makeover Moms.  These are just a few examples of resources that will help you feed your family healthier and teach you about nutrition. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Charred Vegetable Rice

This is a great side dish and a wonderful way to "dress up" your rice.  You saute corn and zucchini with a little olive oil until slightly charred in a cast iron skillet or regular skillet.  Add in sliced green onions and halved grape tomatoes for about a minute and then add the vegetable mixture to some cooked rice.  And that's how you take ordinary rice and make it special.  My daughters love this rice and I feel good that they are getting a boost of vegetables with every bite.  

I saw this recipe in the Jan/Feb 2010 edition of Cooking Light Magazine.  I could not find the link to the recipe on the Cooking Light website so I wrote out the recipe below.

Charred Vegetable Rice
Recipe by Cooking Light

Cook 1 cup long-grain white rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Add 1/2 cup thawed frozen whole kernel corn and 1/2 cup chopped zucchini to pan, saute 3 minutes or until vegetables are charred. (watch out for jumping corn!)
Stir in 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes and 1/3 cup chopped green onions, saute 1 minute or until tomatoes almost wilt.  
Combine vegetable mixture, rice and salt to taste.        

I served this with Creole Grouper.  I've also paired it with salmon.  Would work well as a side dish with chicken, pork or beef too.


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  Bump up the nutritional value of this side dish by substituting brown rice for the white rice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing - Cooking Light's Virtual Supper Club

Ahh, Spring.  It's right around the corner.  I think we're all ready for a little sunshine and warmer weather.  It's March, a new month, and another "get-together" of the Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club.  This month's theme is "A Taste of Spring".

I chose Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing (click here for printable recipe) to represent this month's theme.  I'm seeing strawberries in my gorcery store lately and I couldn't be happier.  Strawberries are one of my all-time favorite fruits and what a great way to enjoy them then with this salad.  This salad is light and refreshing.  It's a great way to get your daily serving of fruits, vegetables and nuts.  The sweetness of the strawberries along with the crunch of the lettuce and toasted almonds is, well, literally, a taste of spring.  The poppy seed dressing is also on the sweet side which goes perfectly in this salad.  The dressing is very easy to make and very good.  A little drizzle goes a long way. 

Here is the rest of our Spring menu.  Be sure to check out each one for their posts and photos.

Jamie (me) from Mom's Cooking Club - Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
Val from More Than Burnt Toast - Rosemary-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Balsamic Sauce
Aggie from Aggie's Kitchen - Spring Giardiniera
Shelby from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch - Zucchini Ribbons with Saffron Couscous   
Helene from La Cuisine D'Helene - Raspberry Almond Crumb Cake

If Spring hasn't arrived in the corner of your world yet, I hope these recipes bring a Taste of Spring and a little sunshine your way.


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  Variations to this salad: add other fruits like grapes, blueberries or raspberries.  The recipe calls for romaine lettuce. Try it with baby spinach leaves (I added this to my romaine lettuce), spring mix or other variations of lettuce.  It would be great with some grilled boneless chicken breast added in.  This would make a very healthy main meal.
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