Friday, June 29, 2012

TGIF dinner

TGIF.  Heids McGhee needs a drink.  And a fantastic dinner.  Preferably prepared and cooked by the handsome Mr. McGhee while the mini McGhees play quietly and puppy McGhee does whatever well-behaved puppies do (guessing this is not jumping, biting, and peeing indoors).

And because I know Mr. McGhee reads this blog faithfully every single morning as soon as he gets to work, I am going to spell out for him what I want him to make me for dinner tonight.

Grilled shrimp and veggies.

Papa McGhee's (that's the mini's papa) grilled shrimp and veggies
  • uncooked shrimp, lots of it because I love shrimp
  • veggies (mushrooms, onion, zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes)
  • olive oil
  • chopped fresh garlic
1.  Marinate shrimp and veggies in the olive oil and garlic all day.  (So Mr. McGhee, you're going to need to get to the store NOW).  (Make sure you marinate the veggies separately from the shrimp).

2.  Grill the shrimp on skewers until they turn pink.

3.  Grill the veggies in a grill basket until they are brown and crispy on the edges.

Enjoy.  Poolside.  With well-behaved minis.  And non-jumping-biting-peeing puppy.  With handsome Mr. eagerly refilling your beverage  and actively listening to you obsess over whether you should sign up to run another half or full marathon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Puppy Mama Drama

So we've been taking our puppy to puppy preschool.  She's been learning lots of really important things like how to walk on a balance beam and jump through hula hoops.  And we are patiently waiting for them to start covering the lesser important things like how to stop jumping, biting, and peeing everywhere.  For now, we are overlooking all of these things and enjoying our puppy for what she is....a jumping, biting, peeing, sweet little ball of love.

My tiny mini loves her puppy.  We told her she is the puppy's mommy and she is owning that role.  And, like most new mommies, she worries constantly that her puppy is hungry and not eating enough.  So, she sneaks into the garage and gets handfuls of puppy food and puppy treats and hides in the corner and hand feeds her baby.  

Mr. McGhee and our tiny mini took her baby to the vet last week.  And guess what?  Our puppy is overweight.  And puppy's mommy (AKA tiny mini) did not take the news well because her baby is perfect just the way she is.  And since we let our 3 year old mini call the shots, we decided.....we're going to have an overfed puppy.  Because how can you say no to a mommy that does this.....

If you're wondering what my puppy drama has to do with my unprocessed cooking blog, I apologize.  The two are pretty much unrelated except for the fact that I was worrying about my fat dog yesterday while I was cooking these granola bars for my skinny minis.

  • 8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
  • 1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
  • 1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries
1.  Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan (I added some ground flaxseed as well). Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.  In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved (and mixture starts to get foamy).
4.  Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Use a buttered spatula to push down the mixture. 

I added some dark chocolate chips as well.  These are tasty and a great snack option for parents and minis.  Just keep them away from chubby puppies.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Superheroes and kohlrabi

So we had a little situation at our house the other day.  There was a bomb in the bottom of our swimming pool that was about to detonate.  And as if that wasn't worrisome enough, there were powerful gems surrounding the bomb that needed to be overcome before the bomb problem could even be addressed.  

Thank God I live with these guys.  

It was touch-and-go for about an hour, but they were able to capture all the gems.  They then discovered that the gems gave them superpowers, which they used to save the neighborhood (and, more importantly, their mom) from that ticking bomb that was in the bottom of our pool.

I don't know about you, but when someone saves my life, I want to do something nice for them.  And when I want to do something nice for someone, that usually means I want to cook for them.  And then I realized since my minis used their super powers to save me, I should use my super power to feed them.  So, I went shopping in my garden and realized I had kohlrabi that was ready to be picked.  My minis usually eat raw kohlrabi dipped in my veggie dip.

But I wanted to do something special for them so I decided I would try roasted kohlrabi.

Roasted Kohlrabi

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh kohlrabi, ends trimmed, thick green skin sliced off with a knife, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (garlic is optional, to my taste)
  • Salt
  • Good vinegar

1.  Set oven to 450F. 
2.  Toss the diced kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic and salt in a bowl. (The kohlrabi can be tossed with oil and seasonings right on the pan but uses more oil.) 
3.  Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and put into oven (it needn't be fully preheated) and roast for 30 - 35 minutes, stirring every five minutes after about 20 minutes. 
4.  Sprinkle with a good vinegar when serving.  (I left the vinegar out for the minis).

My beautiful home-grown kohlrabi.

Coated and ready to be roasted.

Roasted (perhaps a little over-roasted?).....but still was delish!

My superheros were thrilled with their kohlrabi.  And anyone who is concerned that it is child abuse to reward your minis with roasted vegetables should know that I also gave my superheroes a smoothie to go with their kohlrabi.  And they assured me that they felt properly fueled to go back out there and save the neighborhood again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Salad for Sadness

Mr. McGhee was out of town last week, which meant that I got to catch up on my shows.  That means I finally got around to watching the last few episodes of Glee.  I think I should be ashamed to ask this, but I have to I the only grown woman who cried like a baby during the season finale of Glee?  The whole Finn-Rachel break-up scene was all too much for me, I had the ugly cry going on.  And the next morning, as I was making breakfast  for the minis, I found myself actually worrying about Finn and how he was holding up knowing that Rachel was in NYC chasing his dreams and he was headed to Georgia to join the Army.  

Perhaps I get emotionally invested too easily.

Anyway, I knew that I needed to do something to cheer myself up, so I decided I would make myself my all-time favorite meal, a warm spinach with red onion and nectarine salad.  I first had this salad on a trip to Seattle last summer, so every time I eat it, I reminisce about that trip.  

Warm Spinach with Red Onion and Nectarine salad.

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 10 ounce baby spinach
  • nectarines, halved, pitted, each cut into 8 wedges 
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • medium red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup diced smoked ham, optional (I have never tried with the smoked ham)
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread almonds on a baking sheet. Toast in oven, stirring once or twice, until light golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. 2. Place spinach and nectarines in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Season with pepper and a pinch of salt.
  3. 3. Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in vinegar mixture and remove from heat.
  4. 4. Scrape hot dressing over spinach mixture and toss to coat. Divide among 4 dinner plates. Sprinkle each salad with goat cheese, almonds and ham, if using. Serve immediately.
Cooking onions, for the dressing.

Spinach, nectarines and goat cheese.  I added extra nectarines.

Tossed with the dressing.  The warm dressing melts the goat cheese to perfection.  It's delish and totally got me over my Finn and Rachel saddness.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Smoothie Shop

The McGhee family knows smoothies.  I talk all the time about how my boy minis want to grow up and work at a smoothie shop.  My oldest mini has a logo already drawn out, along with floor plans of his shop and we are working on recipes.  The thing my minis are adamant about is that their smoothie shop will be whole ingredients.  No nasty processed "smoothie mix" for them.  The downside to this is my mini's smoothies will cost you a few bucks, the upside is....well, you'll live longer and healthier!

Our latest smoothie obsession is a raspberry mango smoothie.

Mini McGhee's someday-we'll-make-money-off-of these raspberry mango smoothie

  • 2 cups mango (they use one cup frozen, one cup fresh)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • chopped ginger (add according to your taste, maybe 1-2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 scoop protein powder (unflavored)
  • 1-2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional, it changed the texture of the smoothie completely so be prepared)
1.  Blend all ingredients.  Enjoy while chatting with your minis about their smoothie shop.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Anniversary Lunch

This past weekend, Mr. McGhee and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.

Now, I know this is the perfect opportunity for me to gush about my marriage, but all I am going to say is this.  After 11 years of marriage, I still think Mr. McGhee is cool.  Mr. McGhee still thinks I'm cool.  The best part of my day is when I hear the garage door open and I know he is home.  The best part of his day is when I say, "Mr. McGhee, sit down and relax.  Let me get you a beer and after you eat this dinner I made for you, I will rub your feet while the minis play quietly so you can watch sportscenter."

Mr. McGhee and I celebrated our anniversary by taking the minis to the mall to do some Father's Day shopping and out to lunch at our favorite local restaurant.  We lounged by the pool before we went to watch our middle mini pitch his first little league game.  I've got to tell you, there is no fancy schmancy anniversary trip that could top this.....

I did have time to squeeze in an anniversary meal.  I love roasted red peppers, so when I found a recipe for roasted red pepper and goat cheese pasta, I knew I had to try it.  

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo
  • 2 whole red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fat free half & half
  • 4 oz. garlic & herb goat cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated parigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts (optional)
  • 1/2 lb. linguine, cooked to al dente
  • salt & pepper, to taste
1.  Roast your red peppers.  You can follow the instructions from the original recipe, here  or you can follow my instructions here.  

2.  Saute onions and garlic in olive oil 7 minutes or until tender. Pour in half & half, goat cheese, salt & pepper. Stir to melt goat cheese into sauce and keep warm over low heat.

3.  Uncover peppers, peel off skin and remove stem and seeds. Chop into large pieces and place into sauce along with parmesan cheese. Stir to melt cheese and remove from heat. 

4.  Pour sauce into food processor and puree, or use an immersion blender. Place back into hot pan and toss with cooked pasta. 

5.  Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, any italian seasoning you like). Top with more parmesan cheese, pepper, salt and parsley, if desired.  I also topped with fresh basil.

Sauteed onion and garlic, with half and half being added.  

The sauce pre-food processor.

Processed and ready to be tossed with pasta.

Delish and ready to enjoy.

Happy Anniversary Mr. McGhee.  I am blessed to a be a dreamer that has found a partner that makes dreams happen.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Garden Produce

Sadly, this is me.  

You know that saying "find something you love to do in life and then find a way to make money doing it?"  Somewhere between "find something you love to do in life" and "find a way to make money doing it" there is a huge stumbling block for me.  Actually, less of a stumbling block and more like a brick wall.  

But that's okay.  Because although I will never be able to financially support my family, if we ever find ourselves stranded and living under a bridge, I could plant a garden and feed us.

Because guess what.....I can garden!!!!

And I can honestly say there is no paycheck that could give me the self-satisfaction I get from watching my garden grow and feeding my family.  In fact the other day, my minis ate all the broccoli out of the garden.  I have never been so happy to see broccoli stuck in teeth than I was that day when they came giggling in the house to tell me what they had done!

I think the vegetable I am most excited about is the kale, which we harvested the other day for lunch.

We used the kale to make kale chips.  Now, kale is a veggie that is near and dear to my heart because kale chips are the reason I started this blog in the first place.  So even though I have shared this recipe already, I thought I would post it again for any new readers and as a reminder to those of you who aren't regularly making kale chips.  And I wanted to brag about my garden.

Heids McGhee's It-All-Stared-With-Kale-Chips

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • olive oil
  • seasoned salt (or sea salt)
  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
  3. Using a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale.   
  4. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.            

Bake until dark on the edges and crisp.

Serve warm on a plate.  Or just hover around the stove and eat off the baking sheet.

I recently whipped up an easy veggie dip that I thought I would share.  These kale chips need no dip, but I find that my minis love dip with their cucumbers, carrots, and broccoli.

Heids McGhee's Veggie Dip

• 1/2 cup plain yogurt
• fresh dill, chopped
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.  Mix together and enjoy with fresh cut veggies.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Birthday dinner

Last week my middle mini turned 7.  Here is what you need to know about him, my mini is the most amazingly kind, sweet, sensitive, and empathetic kid ever.  I know you're probably rolling your eyes and thinking that every mom says that about every mini.  Not true.  I would never say that about my other two.

I struggled with this birthday a bit because a part of me is afraid that when my middle mini grows up he may outgrow his cuddliness and his desire to curl up on my lap and rub the skin on the back of my arm.  OK, let's all hope he outgrows that someday.

But seriously, my middle mini is a doll.  He loves everybody and everybody loves him.  He has a very kind spirit and is a devoted brother and friend.  He works hard in everything he does.  He prays thoughtfully every night.  He loves baseball, superheroes, the Chicago Cubs, and his puppy.  He tolerates his long shaggy hair because he knows I love it.  And I can't believe it's been 7 years since that 11 lb, 1 oz bundle of joy came into my life.

And here he is today.  Sweet.  Adorable.  Aspires to be a stay at home dad and live in an RV on the beach after he retires from MLB at the age of 26.  He doesn't want to have kids when he's playing for the Cubs because he knows he will miss them too much.  Those words actually came out of my mini's mouth.  Told you he was sweet, kind, and thoughtful.

One thing I love about my middle mini is that he will eat anything.  My other 2 minis are picky, but my middle mini will try anything.  So for his birthday, I wanted to make him something he would love...and what better to make a little boy on his birthday than man-pleasing chicken?

Man-Pleasing Chicken

  • 1 package of chicken thighs (I did a pound of thighs and a pound of breasts)
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • fresh rosemary
1.  Preheat oven to 450F.
2.  Mix together dijon mustard, syrup, and vinegar.
3.  Put the chicken in a foil lined baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour mustard mix over chicken.  Flip chicken over to coat both sides.
4.  Bake to 165F.  Baste chicken throughout cooking.
5.  Let chicken rest 5 minutes.  Serve with sauce on top and sprinkled with fresh rosemary.

This chicken was simple to make and tasty.  I think my middle mini was pleased.  So perhaps I should rename this recipe the Mini-Pleasing Chicken?

Happy 7th birthday to my middle mini!!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Girls Night!!!

I have a group of friends that gets together about once a month for a girls night.  Now, "girls night" is one of those events that could be anything from this..... this......

I would say our girls night falls somewhere in between.

The topics of conversation at girls night vary from parenting advice to Macedonian weddings.  But the one topic that is consistently covered is food.  So today I am going to share with you two dishes that I devoured at last month's girls night.  And I mean, I seriously devoured these.  Like the kind of devoured, where I am fairly certain when I got up to get my 5th helping, the girls were shooting one another glances and thinking we need to cover the topic of "bring a dish to pass" etiquette at next month's girls night.


  • 1 12oz box orzo
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped baby spinach
  • ½ cup crumbled ricotta salata or feta cheese 
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1.  In saucepan, cook orzo according to package directions and drain.
2.  Cook garlic and thyme in olive oil on medium heat for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
3.  Add orzo and last 4 ingredients. Season with pepper, if you choose.

This is the recipe as it was written.  We all agreed on girls night that you always add extra garlic, fresh herbs, and feta.  And seriously, when do you get a room full of women to agree on anything?  Add extra. 

This orzo salad is amazing the next day for lunch.  I know this because when nobody was looking, I threw the leftovers in a bowl and stuck it in my purse.  

This next dish is a chickpea cucumber salad.  It was incredibly delish and equally amazing for lunch the next day.  My minis devoured it and I think my puppy enjoyed a bite or two as well.

Chickpea Cucumber Salad

  • 1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 large seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • large bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped small
  • feta cheese, chunked
  • olive oil
  • rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • salt to taste
1.  Rinse canned beans. 
2.  Combine all ingredients.
3.  Add olive oil, vinegar, mustard and salt to taste.
4.  Crumble feta (add a lot, make it nice and creamy).
5.  Mix well.

She noted on the recipe, I don’t measure the dressing portion just add until I like the taste. I almost always double the recipe because it keeps so nice in the fridge.

There you go.  Girls night done right.  Throw in some cocktails and great conversation and it's a total success.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Breaking the Rules

The little Mother Nature I carry around inside of me is uncomfortable with breaking the rules.  But, it's Friday and I'm feeling like cutting loose a little.  

I'm probably not going to go as far loose as my friend, Will, but these are things I plan on doing tonight.....enjoying a salty dog, eat some processed food, and stay up past 9 o'clock.  The reality is I am too tired to make the processed food I have been dreaming about all week.   So, I will probably make the salty dog, drink half of it and fall asleep before 9.  But, as of right now, the intent is there.

These brownies are my favorite dessert ever.  There is nothing more I can say.  

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies
  • one box of  Betty Crocker® Original Supreme Premium brownie mix
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • egg
  • one pouch of premade cookie dough (or you could make your own homemade cookie dough)
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 Tbsp butter

1.  Follow the recipe on the box to prepare the brownie mix.  Pour into a 13 x 9 pan.
2.  Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough into the brownie mix.  Push the dough down so that the top of the brownie/cookie dough mixture is flat.
3.  Bake according to package directions.
4.  Cool.
5.  Once cooled, in a small saucepan heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.
6.  Pour over the chocolate morsels.
7.  Let stand about 20 seconds and stir until smooth.
8.  Pour over brownies and let stand before cutting.  

I think I am pointing out the obvious when I say there are absolutely no health benefits to this recipe.  Unless you consider a mega floor of happy endorphins a health benefit.  I would argue it is.

Prepare your brownie mix and pour into a dish.

Drop in cookie dough and flatten.

Once brownies are cooled, prepare ganache.  Put chocolate chips in a bowl....

Add hot cream and butter mixture.

Let sit for 20 minutes.


....until it resembles this.....

Pour on top of brownies and let it cool.

If you can resist licking the bowl, you are a better woman than I am.  Better than this girl too.

Delish.  Sinful.  Enjoy.  Rest your tummy.  Go to gym.