Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Carrot Puree' Homemade Baby Food

I know this is not a recipe that appeals to many, but what the heck. Elise has to eat too! With the madness going on with contaminated baby food products, I want to expose Elise to as little risk as possible. Therefore, we are making her baby food at home instead of buying the jars at the supermarket. An added bonus is that she does not get the extra sodium from the preservatives. One pack of store-bought baby food carrot puree' contains 80 mg of sodium!

Here is how to do it at home, have a healthier baby, and save money!

Homemade Carrot Puree'


Fresh carrots, either grown in someone's yard or bought at the grocery produce section (organic preferred).

That's it.


Wash carrots VERY well. Peel using a vegetable peeler, cut ends off with a sharp knife (keep away from baby). Cut carrots into small-ish pieces and put into a Glad microwave steamer bag. You don't need to add any liquid to it. Steam in the microwave for 3.5 - 5 minutes, allow to sit for a few minutes so you don't burn yourself on the steam. Empty into a bowl and use an immersion mixer to puree' very fine. You can also use a food processor if you have one. Once completely smooth, divide the carrot puree' into an ice cube tray using a regular spoon. Smoosh down so there's no air pockets. Cover with freezer wrap and freeze until solid. Remove from ice cube trays and keep in a sealed freezer bag for up to 3 months. Be sure to label expiration day on the freezer bag.

To serve, simply thaw out ahead of time or cook in the microwave for 30 seconds. Make sure it's not too hot for baby. I mix it with a little bit of formula, but not too much. Each cube is one serving. For less than $2 I can make 16 servings! It saves a lot of money and I know EXACTLY what my infant is eating!

Raw carrots, straight out of Mr. Noonie's garden!

Carrots are washed, peeled, chopped and in the microwave steaming bag!

Getting made into puree' by my immersion mixer - best tool in the kitchen!

In the ice cube tray, ready to be frozen!

Verdict: So easy and Elise seems to love it! Really, it's so worth the VERY small amount of time it takes to do this!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

This should really be called "Linguine with Meat Sauce" but people associate the red meat marinara sauce as "spaghetti" so there you have it. This is a Christen Original Recipe folks! I don't need to put a verdict because I've been making it for years and I've had rave reviews from many friends and family!

1 lb. ground beef
4 small cans Hunts tomato sauce (2 Roasted Garlic, 2 Basil & Oregano)
2 small cans tomato paste
1 pkg. frozen Seasoning Blend (onions, peppers, celery)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 small cans mushroom pieces and stems
1 small jar whole button mushrooms
1 can Rotel original
Seasonings to taste (Salt, Pepper, Tony Chachere’s, garlic powder, onion powder)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
½ can/bottle of beer (any kind will do)
1 tbsp McCormick’s Italian Seasonings
1 tsp sugar
1-2 Bay leaves –optional

Brown ground beef, seasoning while browning with salt, pepper, Tony’s, etc.). When browned, add minced garlic and frozen seasoning blend. Cook down until veggies are soft. Add can(s) of mushrooms, including liquid, stir well. Add Rotel and stir well. Add cans of tomato paste and mix evenly. Add the rest of the ingredients (tomato sauce, Worcestershire, beer, Italian seasoning, sugar, and bay leaves) and let cook on medium-low heat 20 minutes. Taste seasonings and adjust as needed. Let simmer about 30 more minutes, though the longer it cooks the better it will be! Stir often to keep from sticking to bottom of pot.

Serve over your favorite kind of pasta (I like linguine).

The Ingredients - minus Rotel and minced garlic which I forgot to include in the picture!

Ingredients are in, sauce is cooking!

The finished product...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tony's He-Man Chili

This recipe is one that my parents have been cooking for years. The version they cook comes from Tony Chachere's Microwave cookbook. I've adapted my own version because for one thing I don't have a big enough microwave, they make them smaller nowadays! Also, my tastes are a little different and I like to smell something yummy simmering on the stove for a while! Once you've tried He-Man chili, regular ground meat with chili powder will no longer deserve the name "Chili" in your book!

Christen's Version of Tony's He-Man Chili

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 pkg. bacon, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 lb. sausage of your choice - you can use more if you like (I don't like)
1 pkg. frozen Seasoning Blend vegetables
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup beer
2 cans diced Rotel tomatoes
2 cans red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
Seasoning to taste (Tony's creole seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt)

Cut sausage into bite size pieces. In a pot with a little oil, brown ground beef, bacon and sausage until no longer pink. Add the frozen vegetable blend and minced garlic. Once the vegetables have softened, add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well to mix. Season to taste. Cook for 1 hour on low-medium heat. Serve with cubed sharp cheddar cheese and cornbread (if desired).

The ingredients

Chili simmering

I like to use these cups so I can cuddle up on the couch to eat!

Verdict: As I said, my family has been making this chili for years so it comes as no surprise to anyone for me to give this two thumbs up. If it counted, I would even give it two big toes up ;) It's fantastic. Run, don't walk, to the store to get the ingredients NOW!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger and Lime

This recipe is another that is not new to us. We saw it cooked on Food 911 on the Food Network years ago (back when that show came on) and have been enjoying it ever since. My husband James cooked it for our Valentine's Day meal. Enjoy.

Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Show: Food 911
Episode: Party of One

2 big handfuls fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pinch sugar
Tony's cajun seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (6-ounce) block sushi-quality tuna
1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, and sliced

In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno,ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the
ingredients together until well incorporated. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with Tony's, garlic and onion powders. Lay the tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the cilantro sauce drizzled over the whole plate.

The Ingredients

The raw tuna steak all seasoned up!


The sauce simmering

mmmmm avocados!!

The finished product


Notes and The Verdict: MAKE SURE you use sashimi grade yellowfin tuna. Tuna is supposed to be cooked medium rare for best flavor and you don't want fishy tasting stuff that might make you sick. Don't skimp! We paired ours with asparagus and some chicken fried rice that my parents happened to have in their fridge. It was FANTASTIC! A nice red wine went great with it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beef Stroganoff

Once upon a time in a land far far away.... just kidding. But I really do have a story behind Beef Stroganoff. When my husband James asked me out for our first date, he invited me over to his house for dinner. I asked what he was cooking and he responded with "meat and noodles." It turned out to be Beef Stroganoff and it was very good. But oddly enough, that was the last time we had it, six years ago!

Yesterday I was trying to think of something good for supper and went on the Food Network website. One of the first things to catch my eye was Beef Stroganoff. I used Paula Deen's recipe and tweaked a few things to my liking. I'll put notes on what I did differently. Here it is:

Link to her recipe at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/beef-stroganoff-recipe/index.html

Beef Stroganoff


1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak, cut into thin strips (I used a ribeye steak)
House Seasoning, recipe follows (I just seasoned with Tony's, salt, garlic powder and onion powder)
All-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, sliced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth (I used Beef Stock)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
Salt and black pepper
1 cup sour cream
Cooked egg noodles
Season the steak strips with House Seasoning, then dust with flour. In a large skillet, quickly brown them on both sides in the olive oil and butter. Remove the steak from the pan. Add the onion slices and mushrooms to the pan drippings. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour. Put the steak back into the pan with the onion and mushrooms. Add the mushroom soup and beef broth. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in the sour cream the last few minutes, right before you serve. Serve over cooked noodles.

House Seasoning:

1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix the ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups

Notes: I left the recipe for her house seasoning in just in case you want to use that, as the recipe calls for. I used Tony Chachere's seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. After reading the reviews of her recipe before cooking, I decided to use a ribeye steak (available at Wal-Mart in a package of one) for more tender meat. I also used beef stock instead of broth, following recommendation of one of the reviews. And finally, I added a splash of white wine for a little extra something!

The ingredients

One ribeye, cut into thin slices

Onions and mushrooms cooking

The finished meal

The verdict: Very tasty. The sauce had a great flavor, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't darker though. Stroganoff tends to be more of a light brown sauce and this one wasn't. That would easily have been fixed by adding a bit of browning liquid but I didn't feel like messing with that. It tasted great and will definitely be served again!