Monthly Archives: December 2012

Top 10 Posts From My Kozy Kitchen for 2012

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WOW 2012 is gone? It seems like just yesterday it was New Years Eve. How does time fly so fast? There have been so many things that have happened over the last year or so. Some good and some bad. 
We lost my father a little over a year ago and Kevin lost his father this year in September. 
My daughter moved to away from me for the first time and went to live with her father in California.
We moved from the only home I have known here in Washington, and at the same time the rest of our kids moved out on their own as well.
My little fur ball Angel developed SARDS and lost her eyesight.
But those are all things that have shown me the good things as well!!
My father is no longer sick and in pain.
Kevin’s father has finally rejoined his one true love that passed away over 25 years before he did.
My daughter is learning a lot about growing up and I am very proud of her.
I learned (I know it’s cliche) that home really is where the heart is. A house is just 4 walls.
I also learned that I am not just a daughter, Mom, girlfriend, I am me and it is OK to focus on what I want and need.
The #1 thing I have learned this year is a big one and it is thanks to all of you! I am a pretty OK person and I  have realized that I can make my dreams come true if I put my mind to it!!
You all are the greatest!!!
OK here are the top 10 recipes that you loved in 2012

A Collection of Appetizers to Make Your New Year Happy

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Happy New Year to all of you fabulous foodies!! I thought I would take a little bit of time to not only wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year full of love, health, and of course awesome food, but also share with you several recipes for appetizers from my friends all over the blogoverse. A sort of one stop shopping for last minute party planners. Or maybe you will find something you just can’t live without! 


Jamaican Saltfish fritters

Avocado Hummus AKA Guacammus

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I was really at a loss when I made this as to what I wanted to call it. It has chick peas in it so it is kind of like a hummus, but it has avocado, Serrano pepper, and cilantro in it so it is kind of like guacamole. Actually when I made it I was craving guacamole for lunch, but knew I needed some protein. I knew I had some chick peas in the pantry so in my mind I just smooshed them together and wound up with a really tasty and healthy lunch.
I really wasn’t to sure about how this would come out when I first started. But as I added all of the flavors I asked myself why I hadn’t thought of this before. I love chick peas, I used to pile them on my salads when I went to salad bars. And DUH I love guacamole, well actually avocado in just about any form makes my teeter totter.
So if you are looking for a new way to have your guacamole and hummus too, give this a shot. 


P.s. Kevin came home and loved this. Wow who knew I could get him to eat healthy?

Avocado Hummus AKA Guacammus
1 15-ounce can of chick peas, drained and liquid reserved
2 avocados, pitted and chopped
1 clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
1 Serrano pepper, finely minced
1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
2 limes juiced
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
Salt and pepper
Pita wedges for serving
In a food processor combine the first 7 ingredients along with about 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid from the chick peas. Blend until smooth, adding more liquid as needed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. 
Serve with pita wedges.
ENJOY!!

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake

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This was one of those pantry/fridge clean out recipes. I hadn’t made it out to the store and Kevin was too tired to stop on the way home. When he came in the door he said he was starving and asked what was for dinner. I was quick to begin the search through my supplies to see what I could come up with. I have certain things I keep stocked so I always have them on hand. Canned tomatoes (crushed, diced, and whole), pastas, and sausage (in the freezer) are pretty much always on hand. I had some leftover baby spinach from salads a few days before. Plus of course I am never without several different types of cheeses.
After about the third time of Kevin asking was was for dinner I told him to hush, I mean I never let him go hungry right? Sheesh all the pressure! I still think it is funny when he gets nervous about what I am making. He has told me several times that I have never made a bad meal. Where is the faith and the love? I mean come on, really?
After this was all done and put on the table all he could say is “Wow that looks and smells really good” *sigh*thank you! Seriously, I think he just loves making me crazy but I keep telling him it is a quick trip and he doesn’t want to push it too far too fast!

Anyway, back to the food. This is a great quick casserole for a busy weeknight. It really takes very little time at all and tastes wonderful. Kevin took the leftovers to work for his boss and himself the next day. That always lets me know he liked it!

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake
8 ounces short cut pasta (I used Penne)
8 ounces Italian sausage (sweet or hot)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 can 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to a large skillet and cook sausage over medium high heat, stirring to crumble. When sausage is browned add onion, cook until translucent, add the garlic and cook for an addition 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bit from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh spinach. 
  4. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a small (2 quart) casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the half of the mozzarella and Italian cheese blend. Cover with remaining pasta and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minute.
ENJOY!

Homemade Ranch Dressing the Healthy Way

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My son loves Ranch dressing. He will literally put it on everything! We used to go through Costco sized bottles in a week at times. 
Well in my quest to try and lighten up recipes, I became very determined to come with up a ranch dressing that was healthier but didn’t lose any flavor. I mean we all have a certain way we expect ranch dressing to taste right?
I have been trying for a couple years, but have come up with things that work ok and tasted good but just not “the” ranch dressing. I was beginning to get a little discouraged until I started working with Greek yogurt a lot. I sub it for sour cream most of the time now. I love the fact that I am not only reducing fat and calories but adding protein to whatever I put it in. I decided that was one of my missing ingredients in this recipe. Between that and adding more fresh herbs I nailed it this time! I will never go back to any other dressing!

I decided to give the step by step photos a try. So let’s see how it goes OK?
The cast of characters
Add your low fat mayo
Then that tangy Greek yogurt
Now all of those fab herbs. Kevin says it looks like I mowed the yard *eyeroll*
Some minced garlic
It can’t be buttermilk ranch without the buttermilk right? Low fat of course.

OK in our house we have to add the Sriracha. A little bit just gives it a tang so don’t be afraid, give it a shot!!
And of course some good ol’ kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
You can throw it in a food processor, blender, or one of these handy dandy attachments that come with an immersion blender. Have I mentioned how much I love this gadget?!
Then you end up with a fabulous dressing for salads and veggies. I leave mine rather thick, like a dip. Then it can be mixed with some more buttermilk or even milk to thin it out for salads.
Homemade Ranch Dressing the Healthy Way
  • 1 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced ( a good handful)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Dash hot sauce (Recommended Sriracha)
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk 

In a food processor or blender combine all of the ingredients and pulse until thoroughly blended. Adjust seasoning as needed. Pour into an airtight container and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using. 

Thin with more buttermilk if needed.

ENJOY!!!

Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That’s us!!
Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn’t get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren’t big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

You can use packaged dressing and taco seasonings if you want. I make my own now so I have them on hand to use. Here is the link to my Homemade Italian Dressing Mix. I will post the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom (I don’t have a post for that yet).
Quick and Easy Taco Salad
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package low sodium taco seasoning or 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning (see below for ingredients)
1 bag of chopped romaine hearts
1 to 2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or 2 tablespoons of my Homemade Italian Seasoning Mix
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce, optional
Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown the ground beef/turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small bits. Add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. You can add a splash of water here if needed. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocado, and cheese. Toss to combine. 
In a shaker bottle, or medium bowl, combine the dressing mix, olive oils, vinegar, and water. Shake or whisk to combine well. 
Add the taco meat to the salad mix, toss, add salad dressing (as much or as little as you want), toss. Crush up several handfuls of tortilla chips and toss with the salad. Dish up into bowl and top with hot sauce if desired!
Serves 4 to 6
ENJOY!

Steak with Red Wine, Shallot, and Mustard Sauce

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Do you sometimes just get this wild hair to make a gourmet meal for your significant other? I mean, especially with it just being the two of us now, the romantic bug bites me and I want to make a special meal for Kevin. I realize that it means more to me than it does him. I know he loves my cooking but I think I could give him a chili cheese dog and he would be just as happy.
But on this day I was determined to make a special meal. He loves steak so I picked up a flat iron steak from the store. He of course prefers rib-eye but who can afford a rib-eye every time you want to make steaks? Flat iron steaks have become my favorite because they are not that expensive, comparable to flank steak, but much more tender. I mean I have had some flank steak that I had to chew and chew and chew! Have you ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? You know the scene where they are sitting at the table trying to chew on the dry turkey? Ya, just like that.

This sauce is perfect for those people that are steak “purists”, as Kevin is. He doesn’t like fussy sauces and marinades. He tells me all he needs is salt, pepper, and maybe a little garlic powder. End of subject nothing else. However, he said he loved this sauce. 
Now I am sure you are thinking whoopdy frickin’ do Bobbi you made a steak, that is hardly a gourmet meal. Nope, I made two other dishes. Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Asparagus with Bacon Sabayone and I will post those later this week. 
Just let me say that I have realized I desperately need to work on my timing. By the end of cooking I was so stressed out I was thrilled it called for a cup of red wine in the sauce because that meant there was an open bottle and believe you me I claimed it as MINE!

Steak with Red Wine, Shallot, and Mustard Sauce



1 pound flat iron steak
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter (cold)
1 cup of dry red wine
1 cup of beef stock 
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

Red wine, shallot, and mustard sauce:

Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan, add the shallot, and cook until just translucent. Lower the heat to medium, add the wine and cook until almost all the wine has evaporated (it should just be covering the shallots), about 5 minutes. Add in the beef stock and cook until reduced by half, about 5 more minutes. 

Remove the pan from the heat and continue once the steak is resting.

Reheat the sauce and add the mustard. Swirl to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add the final tablespoon of cold butter and swirl the pan (don’t stir!) until it’s melted into the sauce.

Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.

Preheat a gas grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Cook the steak approx 3 to 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the steak) for medium rare. Remove and place on a plate or cutting board. Allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly, and against the grain.

Serves 4

ENJOY!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

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I have had so many people asking for slow cooker recipes. But with the kids moving out and it just being the two of us here,  my slow cooker has been sadly neglected. As a matter of fact when I went into my pantry to get my slow cooker, I couldn’t find it! I hadn’t used it since we moved several months ago. I finally found it down on a bottom shelf, all by it’s self, lonely and neglected. Poor thing! Right then I vowed to try and do a slow cooker recipe at least once a month. 
Wow I sound like a complete nut job right now don’t I? YIKES! Anyway, moving on….
I know I have gone on and one about my love for Mexican food, and the fact that Kevin does not share my affection. So long story short, I love it, he suffers through it for me. End of story. Poor guy had to have it three times this week though. He must really love me!!
I will say that, in my defense, he walked in the door after work and the first words out of his mouth were “What smells so good”….he couldn’t argue with me after that. Chalk one up for Mexican food and me!!

This is a great recipe and can be easily doubled for more people. I used two good sized chicken breasts and Kevin and I agreed that it would have easily fed four people. I also only used one jalapeno (left the seeds in) and it was not hot at all. Next time I will use at least two.
I also love this recipe because it takes 8 hours (can be shorter if you cook on high) so for people that work full time it is great. You don’t have a meal sitting in your slow cooker on warm for three hours. 
You can top the tacos with whatever you like. I used my guacamole, sour cream, and some Chalula hot sauce. 
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 good sized handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin,
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper
juice of 1 lime
1 cup chicken stock
Optional topping:
Sour cream
Hot sauce
Place the chicken in the crock pot. Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, lime juice, and chicken stock. 
Cook for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.
Serves 4
ENJOY!!