Garlic Shrimp Pasta

by Melody on May 22, 2011

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Garlic shrimp pasta with broccoli is a quick and easy dinner that’s healthy and nutritious any day of the week. Choose a sturdy whole wheat pasta for the best nutrition. To save time use frozen, shelled and deveined shrimp and prepared packaged broccoli florets. We are big fans of garlic so we’re generous with it and use both the liquid spice plus fresh. Adjust the seasonings to suit your own taste.

what's for dinner: garlic shrimp pasta and broccoliphoto © 2010 jenny cu | more info

Ingredients:
1 lb pasta, ideally Penne or other large pasta
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
3 teaspoons Watkins garlic liquid spice or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Watkins Grapeseed oil, flavor of choice
1 can chopped tomatoes (12 oz/
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Mothers Day Brunch Ideas

by Melody on May 6, 2011

Show your Mom how much she means to you with these sweet Mother’s Day brunch ideas. Rather than planning breakfast in bed for Mom and waking her up early, why not let her sleep in and use these ideas to create a Mother’s Day brunch Mom will thoroughly enjoy.

She will appreciate not having to cook on Mother’s Day. However, you’ll also want to make sure you’re prepared to clean up after yourself as well. It’s Mom’s special day so there’s no reason to make her clean up after the meal. She’ll really appreciate that you’re letting her relax and enjoy her special day without cooking and cleaning.

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Freezer Meals Storage and Reheating Tips

by Melody on April 9, 2011

Freezer Mealsphoto © 2010 Kathleen Franklin | more info (via: Wylio)

I love freezer meals because they save me time and money. If you have always wanted to try your hand at freezer cooking but thought you’d have to purchase dozens of plastic food storage containers and freezer-safe casserole dishes you are in luck. As it turns out you only need a couple of casserole dishes and a few food storage containers! Here are some tips on how to freeze, store, and reheat all of your meals:

You will want to stock up on aluminum foil or parchment paper, both gallon and quart sized plastic freezer bags and some labels.

To make the most of your freezer space, try to freeze your foods as flatly as possibe. You will be able to stack them on top of each other and fit more food into your freezer.

To freeze casseroles, you’ll simply line the casserole dishes with enough aluminum foil or parchment paper to come up over the sides of the dish. After the casserole is assembled, bring the foil or parchment paper up and cover the casserole tightly, and then wrap it in a second freezer bag.

Once the casserole is frozen, remove it from the outer bag, pop the frozen casserole out of the dish, and place the aluminum foil wrapped casserole back into the freezer bag. When it is time to cook the casserole, remove it from the freezer and place in the same baking dish to thaw. Once thawed, take it out of the freezer bag and cook. Since it is lined with the aluminum foil or parchment paper, clean up will be a breeze! Simply throw the foil or paper out and wash the dish!

Make it a point to label each freezer bag. You can write the name of the entrée and the reheating instructions on a piece of paper and stick it inside the bag, on top of the aluminum foil covered casserole or write the instructions on the bag with a permanent marker. Another idea is to print out the information on packing slip labels ahead of time and just peel and stick as you cook and freeze your items.

Keep track of the meals you have on hand by placing a magnet mounted whiteboard on your freezer door. If you add three lasagnas, two portions of chicken fajita meat, two beef stews and one ham casserole, write them on your board. As you take things out of the freezer to thaw, erase them. It can be easy to forget what you have previously made, and if you don’t remember it’s there, you’ll never be able to use it!

If you don’t have a deep freeze, try bulk cooking in two-week inventories. By freezing things flatly you should be able to store two weeks worth of food in a normal sized freezer.

If you find your family doesn’t like a certain ingredient after it’s been frozen, simply omit that item and add it the dish as you are cooking it for that night’s supper.

If your dish calls for pasta, remember to assemble it with slightly undercooked pasta. The pasta will finish cooking when you reheat the dish.

Here are some good freezer meal recipes to help you get started:

Chili freezes and reheats beautifully, try doubling this Vegetarian Chili or your favorite recipe.

Soup is another thing I love to freeze in food single serving or family sized storage containers. Try Homemade Turkey Soup, Butternut Squash Soup or Turkey Chili Soup.

Wow dinner guests with this Carrot Souffle that you made ahead and froze. Your secret will be safe with me.

Another good recipe for left over chicken or turkey is Turkey Pot Pie

Do you have your own freezer meal tips? Feel free to share in the comments!

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Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

by Melody on April 8, 2011

thing i love thursdays - FRUITphoto © 2009 Ginny | more info (via: Wylio)

What is fruit salsa? Does it contain hot peppers? I assumed it would so I never bothered to look at any of the recipes before. I confess, I’m not a fan of hot food. It turns out fruit salsa is basically chopped up fruit that can be eaten as an appetizer, snack or condiment!! Who knew?

I’m going to surprise hubby with fruit salsa and cinnamon chips this weekend. We both enjoy fruit and he’s always looking for something to snack on so I think it will be a great treat. Here’s the recipe:

2 cups fresh strawberries hulled and chopped
1 fresh mango, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup blueberries
3/4 cup pineapple (fresh or canned)
2 tsp of fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey

Directions: Add all chopped fruit to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice, drizzle with honey and mix gently. Chill for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with cinnamon chips.

Cinnamon Chips
4-6 whole wheat flour tortillas
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon honey
Watkins cinnamon

Directions: Melt butter and honey, brush on one side of the tortillas, place on a cookie sheet butter side up and sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Use a pizza cutter to cut the tortillas into wedges. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Tip: use what ever seasonal fruits and berries you have available, or your favorites, you don’t need to stick to the one’s listed above.

So are you a fan of fruit salsa? Go ahead tell me what I’ve been missing!

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Quick Breakfast Ideas To Fuel Your Family

by Melody on March 10, 2011

waffles with berries for breakfastMornings can be pretty hectic for most people, all too often breakfast is skipped or it’s something unhealthy, eaten on the run. Adults are rushing off to work, children need to get to school and breakfast just doesn’t seem important at that time. Following are some quick breakfast ideas for you that are nutritious and quick.

But I don’t eat breakfast! I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day” and it’s certainly true especially when it comes to children. Countless studies have shown that children who eat a balanced breakfast are more alert in school, perform better and in many cases are less prone to bad behavior than children who don’t eat breakfast. These are pretty good reasons why your kids should eat breakfast and you’ll enjoy the same benefits too.

Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas for you and your kids:

eggs for breakfastEggs are classic breakfast food because they versatile and nutritious, plus most kids like them. Start the day with simple scrambled eggs, you can add a little chopped ham, cheese, chopped tomatoes or mushrooms. Soft or hard boiled eggs with slices of whole grain toast will down well too.

This is my favorite! While store bought muffins aren’t always the most nutritious, if you bake your own you can add fruit or grated vegetable and a little honey for a naturally sweet breakfast muffin. You can also replace half of the amount of white flour for healthier whole wheat flour. And don’t just stick to sweet muffins, try a savory muffin such as cheese and ham. Bake them the night before for a quick and healthy breakfast.

Fresh fruit with yogurt and cheerio dip make a healthy fun breakfast for kids. Using a rolling pin crush a handful of two of whole grain Cheerios in a plastic bag and transfer to a bowl. Fill another bowl with yogurt and let your kids dip the fruit pieces in yogurt then in the cheerio mixture. Whole grain Cheerios have a lower sugar content then many of the cereals on the supermarket shelves.

Prepare a basic pancake batter the night before, cover and refrigerate. In the morning all you need to do is heat the grill and your whole family can enjoy delicious homemade pancakes. Serve with a little maple syrup or jam and some fresh fruit on the side.

Make up some extra waffles on the weekend, freeze them for quick week day breakfasts. Reheat in the toaster!

Split a couple of bagels in half, top with a little pizza sauce, grated cheese and some chopped ham for. Place under the grill for a few minutes and you have a nutritious breakfast pizza. You can also use English muffins or pita bread.

Banana peanut butter breakfast wraps Whole wheat wraps are a great alternative to toast and cereal. You can make a scrambled egg breakfast wrap with a little bit of ham or cheese added to it or you can add a little cream cheese and turkey or even make a breakfast pizza burrito. Spread a whole wheat wrap with peanut butter, roll around a banana, slice or eat as is.

Remember breakfast doesn’t have to always consist of the traditional toast, cereal and eggs, you can experiment a little to keep things interesting. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to always make the perfect family breakfast. If your kids really aren’t hungry at breakfast time a simple banana and a glass of milk will give them an instant boost.

The most important thing is that your child starts the day with one or two nutritious foods.

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Chocolate Truffle Recipe

by Melody on March 8, 2011

These chocolate truffles are sinful little candies that are simple to make. I usually make this recipe for special occasions and holidays. I planned to publish it for Valentines day but some how didn’t so here it is in plenty of time for Easter. Ingredients:
2/3 cup Watkins cocoa
1 3/4 – 2 cups icing sugar
1 cup butter, softened
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How to Cook Homemade Turkey Soup

by Melody on January 5, 2011

Homemade turkey soup is frugal, healthy and very tasty. What better way to use up some of that left over roast turkey? It’s not hard to make but it does take a bit of time. You’ll find a simple, basic recipe here and then some optional additional ingredients to make a more hearty meal type soup.

I have to admit turkey is one of our favorite homemade soups, maybe because I only make it a couple of times a year. We really should roast a turkey more often so I can make soup!

Ingredients for a simple, basic soup:
1 turkey carcass
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 – 3 tablespoons Watkins chicken soup base
3/4 teaspoon Watkins pepper
water

Instructions: In a large kettle or stock pot place leftover turkey carcass and cover with water. On high heat bring water to a rapid boil. Lower heat, cover and allow to simmer for an hour or so. I like to let it simmer for a couple of hours.

Remove pot from the heat and allow stock and bones to cool enough to handle. Strain broth into large pot or bowl. Reserve strained broth. Be sure to save any pieces of turkey meat before emptying strainer. Remove any turkey meat that remains on the carcass, discard bones. Cut meat into bite size pieces.

Return reserved broth back to a kettle or pot. Add unions, carrots and celery stirring to mix all ingredients together well. Bring to a rapid boil Add black pepper, chicken soup base to taste and optional ingredients such as corn, barley and lentils if desired (see below). Bring back to a rapid boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Taste and add more soup base if needed. Add turkey meat bring to a boil and turn off heat. If adding frozen peas (see below) add them now.

When I make meat and broth based soup I generally add everything except the kitchen sink, so I end up with a thick soup that’s almost a stew, filled with lots of vegetable and grains. If you fancy this type of soup or want to add more nutrition here are some more ingredients to add.

Choose one or more of the following additional Ingredients for a heartier soup:

1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup small pasta or noodles
2 parsnips, diced
1 cup kernel corn, frozen or canned
1 cup green beans, frozen or canned
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup frozen peas (I like to add these at the very end)
1 -2 cups roasted turkey meat, diced
leftover turkey gravy

I generally add only one grain, rice or barley or the pasta, not all of them.

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Sassy Salsa and Sour Cream Seven Layer Dip

by Melody on December 30, 2010

Here’s an easy, make ahead salsa and sour cream seven-layer dip that’s sassy and delicious to serve at your next get together with family and friends. Serve it with healthy, baked tortilla chips, the recipe is below.

Ingredients:
1 tsp. Watkins Cumin
1 can refried beans
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 T. Watkins Salsa & Sour Cream Snack & Dip Seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup black olives
1 cup chopped, seeded tomatoes
1 can diced green chilies, drained
hot pepper sauce, to taste
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How To Make Pancakes From Scratch

by Melody on November 22, 2010

Homemade pancakesHere’s how to make pancakes from scratch, it’s easy to make these breakfast favorites simply follow along with the photos below. You’ll find two recipes below, one for pumpkin pancakes and a basic pancake recipe. All follow the same method! Your whole family will love these delicious and healthy pancakes on a cold winter morning. Serve them with real maple syrup or your favorite pancake toppings.

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Cooking Quick Tips For Bacon

by Melody on October 7, 2010

BaconWe love bacon, but unfortunately it’s not one of the healthiest foods and it can make a big mess in the kitchen that you have to clean up after wards. If you are a bacon lover too here are some quick tips for cooking bacon.

  • Precook the entire package or several packages at once, cook until almost done. Store the pre-cooked bacon in the freezer until needed. This way you can reheat just the amount you need with out all the grease and mess. Heat in the microwave or a fry pan.
  • Cook bacon in a counter top grill, this keeps all the grease and splatters to a minimum.
  • Cut bacon strips in half, they are easier to work with. Plus it looks like you have more pieces on your plate.  Great tip if you are watching your calorie or fat intake.
  • Drain cooked bacon on paper towel to remove excess fat. Pat with a fresh paper towel to remove more grease.

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The statements made and opinions expressed on this site are those of Melody Thacker, the Independent Watkins Associate who is the publisher of this document, and are not to be construed as the statements or opinions of Watkins Incorporated.