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Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Recipes 2015 ♥

Memorial Day is this weekend, It's the start of the summer season! I have put together a medley of dishes for your memorial day cookout. If your camping, or hosting a barbecue these recipes are sure to be a crowd pleaser! Hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day weekend! Remember those who served for our country on Memorial Day, it's not about the recipes and cookouts, it's about being with family and friends and honoring those who served in this country to make it possible for us to live with freedom~ ♥

Skinny Picnic Pasta Salad ♥

Skinny Summer Macaroni Salad ♥

Copycat KFC Coleslaw ♥

For the main course fire up the grill for these favorites! 

California Hass Turkey Burgers ♥

Texas Style Summer Barbecue Pork Chops ♥

Backyard Barbecue Chicken 

Bailey's Dipped Marshmallows ♥

Patriotic Berry Flag Cake ♥

Summer Watermelon Popsicles ♥

Have a safe and Happy Memorial Day! ♥

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Backyard BBQ Chicken ♥

Here is my recipe for the best juiciest grilled barbecue chicken. The secret is in the brine! Perfect for upcoming Memorial Day! ♥

Ingredients ♥

Wood Chips and Smoker Box
Homemade Barbecue Sauce, Bottled Commercial Barbecue Sauce, or Dressed Up Bottled Barbecue Sauce 
1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken, cut up
2 tablespoons of kosher salt
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
Dry Rub Marinade:
2 tablespoons paprika
20 turns of the pepper grinder (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning or to taste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions ♥

For the Brine: Cut chicken up into serving pieces. Fill a large pot or container with enough water to cover the chicken well. Whisk the salt into the water until dissolved; whisk in the vinegar. Add the chicken and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the brine and allow to drain well. Discard the brine. Pat the chicken pieces dry, laying out on a platter or baking sheet that will fit in the fridge. Combine the dry rub ingredients and rub the chicken well with the dry rub, cover loosely and refrigerate several hours. Grill chicken covered, turning occasionally, about 12 to 16 minutes for thighs; 16 to 20 minute for legs. Cook breasts, skin side up, for about 10 minutes, turn and cook another 5 minutes or until juices run clear, or an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees F for dark meat, 160 degrees F for breasts. Apply barbecue sauce in the last few minutes of cooking.
Gas Grill Directions:  If using wood chips, presoak them for about 30 minutes before needing. Drain the wood chips and place them into a smoking box (or make a homemade aluminum foil tray for a gas grill/packet for charcoal) and put on top of the section of the grill you intend to keep hot.  Preheat grill to high on all burners about 15 minutes.

When ready to grill, leave one (or two) burners on high, turn all other burners down to medium low. Oil the grates, and sear the chicken on the hottest part of the grill, with the lid closed, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move the chicken to the cooler part of the grill, and grill covered, turning occasionally, about 12 to 16 minutes for thighs; 16 to 20 minute for legs. Cook breasts, skin side up, for about 10 minutes, turn and cook another 5 minutes or until done.  Check by using the tip of a knife inserted near the bone, there should not be any red showing.  Chicken is done when an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees for dark meat and 160 degrees for breasts. Apply barbecue sauce in the last few minutes of cooking.

Tip: Store your barbecue sauce in a pull top, squirt type water bottle. Instead of using a brush, squirt the sauce on the chicken in the last few minutes of cooking, taking care not to allow the bottle to touch the chicken. Store the remaining sauce in the fridge. 

If you are skittish about chicken on the grill because it always turns out charred on the outside and raw on the inside, if you don't want to deal with indirect cooking, if you're making massive amounts of chicken for a party or backyard barbecue, or, if you're trying to grill between rain like I was this weekend, consider pre-cooking the chicken in the oven first. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rubbed chicken pieces on a rack, on a foil-lined large baking sheet. Roast for about 50 minutes, then finish on a preheated very hot grill, over direct heat. Sear both sides of the chicken first, then brush with the sauce, turn, cook for about 5 to 10 minutes total, brushing with sauce and turning several times, until chicken is done.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mama's Russian Beef Stroganoff ♥

It's Mother's Day and I am remembering my mother with her comforting beef stroganoff. Being half Russian this was essential growing up! Below is the recipe ♥

Ingredients ♥ 

2 lbs lean boneless sirloin (trimmed of fat and gristle) or 2 lbs bottom round steaks, in one piece (trimmed of fat and gristle)
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf 
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon flour
 1-2 Tablespoons prepared Dijon style mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 lb mushroom, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 cup light  sour cream, warmed
 sprig of fresh parsley

Directions ♥

Cut meat into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place between sheets of waxed paper and pound until its 1/4 inch thick (be careful not to tear meat). Cut pounded meat into 2x1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper, let stand for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 TBS butter in a frying pan large enough to hold everything. Add sliced onion, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add meat to pan and cook for 3 minutes, turning meat to brown evenly.

Stir in flour and mustard, and cook 1 minute more. Add 1/2 cup wine. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

In another frying pan, heat 2 TBS butter. Add minced onion and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Add 2 TBS wine and cook 2 minutes more. Add mushroom mixture to meat mixture. Add Bay leaf. Check seasonings and add warmed sour cream.

Over lowest possible heat, simmer for 5 minutes to heat through. Do NOT let it boil.

Serve over egg noodles. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy! ♥ 

Miss you Mama....♥ 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Jalapeno Skinnygirl® Margarita's ♥

Happy Friday Everyone! Why not make your own margaritas without the guilt of carbs and sugar? Margaritas may be a tasty accompaniment to your tacos or enchiladas, but these are among the highest-calorie alcoholic beverages you can choose.Eight ounces of a standard margarita on the rocks will set you back about 455 calories, while a 12-ounce margarita has about 680 calories.
 I just love Skinnygirl® Cocktails! With only 100 calories in a four-ounce serving of Skinnygirl Margarita, you can get your margarita fix without consuming all those calories.   ♥

I am proud to be part of a wonderful program! 
Let me tell you about the the new Skinnygirl® Cocktails Tastemakers program, which has just launched. The Skinnygirl® Cocktails Tastemakers program invites you to share your love of Skinnygirl® Cocktails in exchange for all kinds of perks, discounts, rewards and exclusive behind-the-scenes info! 

Ingredients ♥

4 oz Skinnygirl® Margarita
2 – 3 thin slices of fresh jalapeño
3 – 4 slices of fresh lime
Sea salt or margarita salt

Directions ♥
Muddle the  jalapeño and limes in slices in the bottom of a glass or mason jar with the back of a wooden spoon. Muddle for a good 20 – 30 seconds until the juices really start to form.
 Pour a layer of salt onto a small plate (preferably one just slightly larger than the top of your margarita glass). Slice off a small piece of lime and run the wet edge of the slice along half of the rim of your glass. Dip the top of the glass into the salt at a 45-degree angle and roll it from side to side to catch the salt. 
 Reserve one lime slice for garnishing. Fill glass to the top with ice. Add Skinnygirl® Margarita to the top and gently stir to combine. now sit back, sip  and enjoy! ♥

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sweet Baby Ray's Beer Can Cola Q Chicken ♥

I am using my favorite product Sweet Baby Ray's!  This is by far the best barbecue sauce I have tasted! Their new product Cola Q adds some caramel kick to the regular barbecue sauce!  Here is my recipe for Sweet Baby Ray's Beer Can Cola Q Chicken! ♥

Ingredients ♥

2 cups Sweet Baby Rays' Cola Q Barbecue Sauce 
1 (12-ounce) can lite beer
1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken
2 tablespoons Basic Barbecue Rub, recipe below
3 to 4 handfuls apple or hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Barbecue Rub
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon hickory salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions ♥
Pop the tab off the beer can. Using a church key style can opener, make a few more holes in the top of the can. Pour out half the beer into the soaking water of the wood chips. Set the can of beer aside.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat the grill to high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.

Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water, drain, and blot dry inside and out with paper towels. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the rub inside the body and neck cavities of the chicken. Rub the bird all over on the outside with 2 teaspoons of the rub. If you have the patience, you can put some of the rub under the skin being careful not to tear it.

Spoon the remaining 2 teaspoons of rub through the holes into the beer in the can. Don't worry if it foams up, this is normal. Insert the beer can into the body cavity of the chicken and spread out the legs to form a sort of tripod. Tuck the wing tips behind the chicken's back.

When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss all the wood chips on the coals. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour.
Using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken in its upright position on the beer can to a platter and present it to your guests. Let rest 5 minutes, and then carefully remove the chicken from the beer can. Take care not to spill the hot beer or otherwise burn yourself. Quarter or carve the chicken and serve with the  Sweet Baby Rays' Cola Q Barbecue Sauce  ♥

Monday, April 20, 2015

Texas Caviar ♥

I have teamed up with Red Gold Tomatoes and they are doing a great promotion! Spring Shake-Up" promotion, which runs from April 22 through May 20 on Pinterest.

 Add your own Spring Inspiration for a chance to win an amazing picnic prize pack from Red Gold valued at $350!  This prize will make any average picnic a grand event! See the link below for the entry form! I added my recipe for  Texas Style Black Bean and Corn Salsa or as the Texans call it Texas Caviar, what will be your recipe?  ♥

Red Gold Tomatoes Spring Shake Up

Ingredients ♥

1 (14.5 ounce) can Red Gold® Diced Tomatoes, drained
2 (15.8 ounce) cans black-eyed peas,
2 fresh medium jalapenos, stemmed,
seeded and minced
1 small onion, cut into small dice
1/2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded
and cut into small dice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Directions ♥
   Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 2 days. Before serving, adjust seasonings to taste, adding extra vinegar, salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with chips or crackers. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Skinny Vietnamese Spring Rolls ♥

Want clean eating foods? Try my skinny Vietnamese spring rolls, packed full of shrimp and delicious veggies! A perfect lunch or dinner!

Replacing higher-calorie breads with rice paper wrappers can help you lose weight, as can keeping your fillings for rice paper wrappers healthy.One of the easiest ways to lose weight with rice paper wrappers is to use them as bread substitutes. Click for my recipe below along with my hoisin peanut dipping sauce!

Ingredients ♥

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 (16-cm) rice paper wrappers ( you can find these in any Asian ethnic store) 
1 cup baby spinach
4 ounces cooked vermicelli
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cucumber, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned


1/4 cup hoisin
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions ♥
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the dipping sauce, whisk together hoisin, peanut butter, rice vinegar and sesame oil in a small bowl; set aside.
Place shrimp onto prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste, and gently toss to combine. Place into oven and roast just until pink, firm and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing into half lengthwise.
Working one at a time, wet rice paper for 10 seconds and transfer to a work surface; place spinach in the center of each wrapper and top with vermicelli, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot and shrimp. Bring the bottom edge of the wrap tightly over the filling, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the sheet is reached, being careful not to tear the rice paper. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
Serve immediately with hoisin peanut dip.♥

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Margherita Pizza ♥

Now you can have low carb gluten free pizza! So what's the star ingredient in this pizza dough? Cauliflower! It is transformed into pizza dough, so this way you don't have to feel guilty about having pizza!  ♥

Ingredients ♥

Makes 1 large pizza - 3 or 4 servings

4 cups raw cauliflower, riced or 1 medium cauliflower head
1 egg, beaten
1 cup soft fresh goat cheese or 1 cup chevre cheese or 1 cup other soft cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch salt
4 tbsp tomato sauce
4.5 oz fresh  Mozzarella cheese, sliced
fresh basil (small bunch) 
freshly ground black pepper
drizzle extra virgin  olive oil 

Directions  ♥
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
To make the cauliflower rice, pulse batches of raw cauliflower florets in a food processor, until a rice-like texture is achieved.
Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, and bring it to a boil. Add the “rice” and cover; let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain into a fine-mesh strainer.
THIS IS THE SECRET: Once you’ve strained the rice, transfer it to a clean, thin dishtowel. Wrap up the steamed rice in the dishtowel, twist it up, then SQUEEZE all the excess moisture out! It’s amazing how much extra liquid will be released, which will leave you with a nice and dry pizza crust.
In a large bowl, mix up your strained rice, beaten egg, goat cheese, and spices. (Don’t be afraid to use your hands! You want it very well mixed.) It won’t be like any pizza dough you’ve ever worked with, but don’t worry– it’ll hold together!
Press the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (It’s important that it’s lined with parchment paper, or it will stick.) Keep the dough about 1” thick, and make the edges a little higher for a “crust” effect, if you like.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400°F The crust should be firm, and golden brown when finished.
Now’s the time to add all your sauce,then add fresh mozzarella cheese. Return the pizza to the 400F oven, 
Bake for another 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted. Let cool a bit before serving and add some more fresh basil leaves on top.Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!! ♥

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Orthodox Easter ♥

Today I celebrate  the Orthodox Easter, Easter or Paskha is the most important religious observance of the year in the Russian Orthodox Church. Easter in Russia is a lot more than just a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. ♥

In Russia Easter is usually celebrated later than in the West. This happens because Easter dates are determined by different calendars. When the Catholic and Orthodox churches separated in the 11th century, they both calculated the date of Easter in the same way. However, the Catholic church adopted the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, and the Orthodox church continued to use the old Julian calendar. Because the two calendars had a difference of 13 days by the 21st century, and because both churches use March 21 for the date of the vernal equinox instead of the observed equinox, the date of Easter is different in both churches.Preceding Easter is a 40 days long Lenten fast during which no meat and dairy products, fish, eggs, alcohol are allowed.  The fasting begins with Maslenitsa or Pancake week which is celebrated during the last week before the Great Lent. Though meat is already forbidden, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to partake of dairy products (russian pancakes, blini) and those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful and introspective Lenten season. Holy week, beginning with Palm Sunday is a busy time in Russian families, when houses are cleaned and Easter food is prepared. On Holy Thursday, Russians paint Easter eggs using their traditional method of boiling them in onion peels or other natural dyes. Painted eggs are a universal symbol of Easter, but in Russia they take on even greater significance.

On Holy Saturday, a strict day fasting in which no food at all is allowed, families are nonetheless busy preparing for the Easter feast. The feast, served to break the fast after the midnight mass, includes the Paskha cake and Easter eggs which are blessed by the priest on Holy Saturday.Sunrise services in Russia are not common on Easter morning, instead Orthodox churches hold a midnight mass, with a procession around the church.  When the clock strikes 12, church bells announce the resurrection of Christ. ♥

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Grandma Katrina's Russian Pancakes"Blini" ♥

Happy Saturday! Here is a special recipe that is near and dear to me...
My Grandma Katrina used to make the best blini, (these are russian pancakes), they can be served for breakfast, or for lunch or dinner, with a dollap of jelly, or sour cream, with salmon or caviar. enjoy! ♥

Ingredients ♥

3 large eggs
3 1/4 cups milk
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2-2.5 tsp dry yeast
Oil to grease the skillet
1 stick margarine to oil ready blini ( I use Smart Balance for a healthier approach)

Makes about 18-20 blini

Tools needed...
1/2 small raw unpeeled potato and a fork for greasing tool
3 quart covered pot (better enameled or at least stainless steel)
Non-stick skillet, 8-9" diameter
Ladle or a big spoon
Wooden spatula
Heat-proof dish to stack ready blini

Garnishes ♥
Salted herring, thinly sliced 
Melted butter
Soft boiled eggs, chopped
Sour cream

Directions ♥

1. Scald 1.25 cup of milk in a pot. Separate 1/4 cup and mix it with yeast until dissolved. Beat eggs, stir them in milk, along with yeast, salt and sugar. The mixture must be lukewarm, so if it cooled down, warm it up on very low heat constantly stirring.

2. Add flour and mix well until you get the batter/dough of rather thick consistency, like thick sour cream. Cover the pot, and let the dough rise in a warm place.  About 1 hour.

3. While the dough is rising, prepare garnishes (caviar and herring should be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated) and lay the table. Blini are served hot, so later you will have no time for this. Leave boiling of eggs to the end though - it's nice when they are served warm, just take then out of the fridge to acquire room temperature before boiling.

4. When the dough rises and at least triples in size, scald the remaining milk, and mix it in the dough in small portions (about 1/2 cup each), stirring well every time. Small portions of hot milk will not kill the yeast, but will keep the mass very warm. After all milk is in, leave the dough to foam for about 30 minutes, covered.  Don't mix the foam!

5. Prepare your baking tools. Pour some olive oil in a small bowl - for greasing your skillet. Make a greasing tool with a half of potato and a fork.
5. Your dough/batter will look like a thick foam when ready to bake. Heat the skillet on high heat, grease it with the potato dipped in oil, scoop a ladle of dough on the skillet, and smear it around. The thick foam will not spread easily just by tilting and turning the skillet. 

6. Bake on one side until bubbles form and the surface becomes mat, check if it's nicely browned by lifting the edge a little, then flip over with the spatula and bake on the other side. Adjust the heat so your blini don't burn, but bake through and are beautifully browned. Grease the skillet before each blin, otherwise your blini will not get a nice pattern.

7. Stack blini on the heat-proof dish, second side up (it is smoother and easier to oil), and gently oil each blini with the butter stick. Butter will prevent blini from sticking to one another.

8. When all blini are ready, loosely cover the dish with foil, and toss it into the 175 F oven to keep warm. At this point boil soft eggs. 

Serve everything with favorite garnishes. Herring, eggs, caviar, sour cream, jelly.enjoy! ♥

Leftover blini, if any, should be refrigerated. Blini will stick all together, so don't try to separate one blini - it will break. Warm them up all together in a microwave or an oven at 325 F, loosely covered with foil.