Tuesday, March 30, 2010

{CLOSED} April Giveaway - Win a Burst of Sunshine!

** this giveaway is closed - thank you for your participation! **

I'm bringing this April giveaway a tad early.  We've all been getting bogged down by some wet weather so I wanted to bring a little sunshine into your lives!  This month, our giveaway sponsor is CSN Stores.  CSN Stores is an online U.S. retailer of home and office goods - they have over 200 sites where you can find anything from kids bedding to fitness equipment  to outdoor barbecues!

I'm so excited that this month CSN Stores is partnering with me to giveaway a Le Creuset 12-ounce Petite Oval Casserole dish in Dijon (2" H x 6.75" W x 4" D):

According to CSN Stores,
This Petite Oval Casserole is the perfect size for accenting a table with dips, condiments, cheeses, salsas, and aioli. The lid makes it practical for heating up sauces in the microwave or keeping snacks fresh. You can bake charming individual portionswhile entertaining guests. Crafted from high-quality durable stoneware, this piece will not chip, scratch, or stain. The Le Creuset Petite Oval Casserole is a stylish and versatile kitchen essential! 
Who wouldn't love to have this burst of yellow sunshine in their kitchen?? You can enter up to FIVE times by doing any or all of the following (but make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry!).  Here's how you can win it:

1. Publicly follow my blog by clicking "follow" over on the left side column. Leave a comment letting me know you're a follower.
2. Become a fan of Mama Jan's Kitchen on Facebook. Leave a comment letting me know you're a fan.
3. Add my blog to your blogroll and leave a comment here including a link!
4. Leave a comment telling me (1) Do you currently own any Le Creuset cookware? (2) If so, what's your favorite Le Creuset item you own?
5. What's your favorite warm-weather/spring dish to fix?

Open to residents of U.S. and Canada only. One winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, April 2nd at 9pm PDT.  Please make sure you include your email address in your entry OR have your email visible in your blogger profile.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

POM Pomegranate Barbecue Ribs

{print this recipe}

As a child, I remember coming home from school and having my mom cut me a big slice of pomegranate.  Then, I would sit at the kitchen table and pick the seeds out one by one until it was just a hollow shell (I loved the indentations the seeds left in the skin!).  Little did I know I was eating one of the world's largest antioxidant powerhouses (it contains more antioxidants than orange juice, red wine and even green tea)!

When the awesome people over at POM Wonderful offered to send me some of their 100% pomegranate juice to try out in recipes, I jumped at the chance.  I'm always looking for new recipes and especially ones that can be made with such good-for-you ingredients!

I don't go near the grill, that's my husband's territory (he's actually the one who made this recipe for our family last weekend).  However, this recipe can be made with a broiler rather than a grill if you prefer.

source: POM Wonderful
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 70 minutes
total time: 80 minutes
serves: 2-3

Sauce (enough for a couple racks, will refrigerate for two weeks):
1 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice
3 oz tomato paste (half a small can)
1½ Tablespoons molasses
1/2 cherry, chipotle or jalapeno pepper, minced (optional — for heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 Tablespoon cumin powder
2 Tablespoons honey
1 lemon, juiced

1 rack pork baby back ribs
1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
1/2 Tablespoon paprika
1/2 Tablespoon onion powder
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground coarsely

1. Prepare grill for direct high heat. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Prepare Pomegranate Barbecue Sauce: 

In a large saucepan, combine POM 100% pomegranate juice, tomato paste, molasses, garlic and hot pepper. Add dry mustard, cumin, and honey. Mix together. Whisk and simmer until thickened. Reduce sauce by about half. Remove from heat, mix in juice of 1 lemon. Multi-task! Move on to steps 3 & 4 while whisking. :) Set aside.

3. Prepare dry rub for the ribs: In a small bowl, combine kosher salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Pat liberally onto each side of the ribs.

4. On a hot grill, brown both sides of the ribs about 5 minutes on each side over direct high heat. Alternative: place under broiler, turning to brown both sides (make sure you allow heat to reduce to 275 degrees before baking).

5. Place ribs on a jelly roll pan and cover with foil. Place in preheated oven and bake 30 minutes.

6. Brush ribs with barbecue sauce (to avoid cross-contamination, make sure you don't "double dip" your brush - the sauce will be used as a garnish later). Cover with foil and bake 30 more minutes.

7. Serve in half racks or as individual ribs with additional pomegranate barbecue sauce to drizzle on the ribs.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pork Chop Suey

Chop suey ("mixed pieces") is an American-Chinese dish that's sort of just a hodge podge of vegetables and meats (believed to have been created when Chinese miners cooked together whatever foods they happened to have).

If you don't like pork, try substituting shrimp, chicken or beef! This recipe can easily be made meatless by leaving out the pork (duh). I actually found the pork was sort of in the way of everything else and will probably leave it out next time!

source: modified from EatingWell.com
total time: ~30 minutes

1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons molasses, preferably blackstrap
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
5 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
1 medium onion, slivered
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 cups (12oz.) mung bean sprouts
8oz. can bamboo shoots, thinly sliced (julienned)
8oz. can water chestnuts, slices
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

Although I have not tried it, I would also suggest trying this with sliced mushrooms, bok choy, and red pepper flakes (if you like a little heat).

  1. Combine broth, soy sauce, molasses and pepper in a medium bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the mixture to a small bowl; stir in cornstarch until combined. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pork and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the pink is gone, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. 3Increase heat to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, sprouts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and ginger and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add the reserved cornstarch mixture and pork (and any accumulated juice) and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  4. Serve over udon noodles (or other starch such as rice or barley).

1. Pork tenderloins are typically sold in packs of 2 (one pound each). Use one for this recipe and freeze the other one for up to 3 months.

2. I mistakenly thought I had fresh ginger in my freezer (one of the many great tips I've picked up from the Next Food Network Star, Melissa d'Arabian). In a pinch, I substituted 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and that worked well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mini Chile Relleno Casserole Recipe

Chile relleno means "stuffed chile" - traditionally roasted poblano peppers, stuffed with cheese and other goodies, then coated in a flour/egg batter and fried. This casserole is a nice spin on the traditional relleno. If you wanted to add meat, you could try chorizo sausage or shredded beef.

I had expected my husband home at a certain time and began preparing the casseroles thinking I would pop them in the oven when he called to say he was on his way home. He ended up working late (as accountants often do this time of year) and I realized how easy these are to make ahead! Prepare the ramekins with the dry ingredients (step 2), prepare egg mixture according to step 3. Cover everything and keep in the fridge for later. Then follow step 4 and 5!

Two mini casseroles each was plenty for my husband and me (the recipe is easy to cut in half if you're just cooking for two). I served it alongside fresh pineapple and strawberries and these amazing green chili corn tortillas I came across at Whole Foods the other day. Simple, delicious and ridiculously easy.

source: modified from EatingWell.com
prep time: 10 min.
cook time: 25-35min.
total time: 35-45min.
serves: 4 (two 6oz. casseroles or one 10oz. casserole each)

2 (4oz.) cans diced green chiles, drained and patted dry
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed and patted dry
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese (or combo), shredded
1 1/2 cups milk
4 large egg whites
6 large eggs
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat eight 6-ounce or four 10-ounce heatproof ramekins with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
  2. Equally divide green chiles, corn and green onions among the ramekins. Top with cheese.
  3. Whisk milk, egg whites, eggs, flour, chili powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined and clumps are gone. Divide egg mixture evenly among ramekins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until tops begin to brown and eggs are set (about 25-30 minutes for 6-ounce ramekins and 30-35 minutes for 10-ounce ramekins).*

* I had 7-ounce ramekins and they baked for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the snackTAXI gift pack!  Megan wrote:

Didn't win?  Head on over to Jessica Loves to Save Money's giveaway and enter for a chance to win a snackTAXI Waste Free Lunch Start-up Kit!  Her contest is open until 3/23.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Recipe for Chicken Casserole with Mushroom, Peas and Homemade Stuffing

I don't make a lot of casseroles and I definitely try to avoid canned ingredients (except for things like tomato sauce/paste, beans, etc.). But I love this casserole! It's a lighter, healthier version of good ol' comfort food. I love that it doesn't use canned ingredients - no cream of anything soup - and you can control the sodium content of your dinner! Plus it tastes delicious. I found this recipe maybe 10 days ago (on one of my new favorite food blogs) and I've already made it twice. Once for us and then just the other night for a dear friend who recently had a baby. I doubled the recipe (so easy to do with this one!) and brought half to her family.

It's a family-friendly, healthy casserole - easy to transport, great for leftovers and I think it would probably even freeze well (freeze at step 5 then when you are ready you can thaw and continue with step 6?).

source: elly says opa! (if you haven't ventured over to elly's blog yet, do it! I love her recipes!)
serves: 4

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 bay leaf*
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth, divided (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/2 cup milk (preferably warm or at room temp)
1/4 cup grated (about 2 oz.) parmesan cheese
1 lb. cooked and shredded chicken breast**
1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cups cubed, staled bread (left out overnight) or unseasoned bread cubes
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
scant 1/4 tsp. ground sage
scant 1/4 tsp. ground marjoram

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray a 1.5 – 2 qt casserole dish.

2. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add onions. Cook until onions are mostly translucent (they will continue cooking with the mushrooms so you don't want them to be too cooked yet!).

3. Add the mushrooms and bay leaf. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and have lost most of their moisture. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

4. Stir in the flour. Cook until the mixture turns a light golden brown. Slowly add 3/4 cup of chicken broth and the milk. Whisk out any flour clumps and continue to simmer until the mixture bubbles slightly and begins to thicken, just coating the back of a spoon. Stir in the chicken and the peas, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the mixture into the caserole dish. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.

6. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of broth with the staled bread and the herbs. Place the mixture on top of the chicken mixture. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

* I don't often use bay leaves so I didn't know this: leave the bay leaf in through the whole baking process. The first time I made this casserole, I removed the leaf when I transferred to my baking dish. Having had it both ways, I can tell you the bay leaf adds a ton of flavor during baking!!

** to cook your chicken breast, you can roast, bake or poach it. Or try putting it in your slow cooker, cover with water or chicken broth and cook on low for 8 hours - then shred! The slow cooker leaves it so moist and tender, and it shreds so easily.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

{CLOSED} Be my LUCKY winner!

** This giveaway is closed **

I'm partnering with snackTAXI for this month's giveaway!  snackTAXI was launched in 2003 by Erin Kelly-Dill, a fellow mom who cringed at the number of plastic bags her family went through in a year.  snackTAXIs are an environmentally-friendly substitute for plastic baggies - use (and re-use) them for snacks and sandwiches.  They are made of 100% cotton material with a nylon lining.  Free of lead and phthalates!  Machine washable.

Don't tote your snacks or lunch around with you?  Consider other uses for the snackTAXI... makeup bag, ipod tote, purse essentials...

snackTAXI has generously offered one of my incredible readers a gift pack including one "toadstools" sandwich-sack (7.5" x 6") and one "in the sky" snack-sack (6" x 4.5").

There are five ways to enter... you MUST leave a separate comment for each entry. If you leave one comment telling me you did all five things, that's only one entry!  Please make sure your email is visible in your profile OR leave your email address in your comment!

Here's how to enter:
1. Publicly follow my blog by clicking "follow" over on the left side column.  Leave a comment letting me know you're a follower.
2. Become a fan of Mama Jan's Kitchen on Facebook.  Leave a comment letting me know you're a fan.
3. Become a fan of snackTAXI on Facebook. Leave a comment letting me know you did.
4. Visit snackTAXI's website and leave a comment here letting me know another snackTAXI item you would love to have.
5. Leave a comment letting me know how you would use this gift pack if you won!

Residents of U.S. and Canada only please.  One lucky winner will be chosen on St. Patrick's Day, Wednesday 3/17 after 1pm PDT.

Thumbprint Cookies

{print this recipe}

These cookies are nutty and delicious - and not too sweet!  I used raspberry fruit spread but you can use any flavor (Whole Foods recommends raspberry, strawberry or apricot).  I tried them straight out of the oven and felt like they were better warm than they were the next day (although still yummy!).  The warmth brings out their nuttiness which balances the fruit.

makes: about 25 cookies


1 cup almonds (or pecans) 
1 cup rolled oats 
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 
1/2 cup safflower or canola oil 
(I used vegetable oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup (or brown rice syrup)
1/4 teaspoon salt 
about 5oz. fruit juice sweetened jam


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
2. Put almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until coarsley ground. 
3. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, oil, syrup and salt. Stir to combine well. 
4. Roll walnut-sized balls of the dough in the palm of your hand to form each cookie, then arrange on 2 large baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Press your thumb gently down into the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Spoon a scant teaspoon of jam into each indentation. 
I used Whole Foods Market brand fruit spread for this cookie. 
I love the jam and I knew I didn't want chunks of fruit in my cookies.
5. Bake cookies until golden brown and just firm around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely, then serve immediately or store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

Monday, March 8, 2010

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By YOU!

This post has been moved!  Please check it out here  :)

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito Recipe (vegetarian)

    {print this recipe}

    These are delicious, addictive and totally unique! I love how healthy they are with the black beans and sweet potatoes especially. Power packed with superfoods!

    The soy sauce adds a whole new element to them. Delicious and amazing. And very dense. We both ate one and then because they were so amazing, we split another one. And then quickly regretted eating as much as we did! For us, one is more than enough!

    I used to cut the recipe in half but now I make the whole thing since they're so easy.  I freeze six of the burritos for another day, we eat some of the remaining and then have some leftover for lunch or dinner the next day.  I often make these burritos when I'm bringing dinner to friends with new babies.  Always a hit!

    source: modified from allrecipes.com
    prep time: 20 min.
    cook time: 20 min.
    total time: 40 min.
    serves: 8-12 people (12 burritos)

    3 teaspoons vegetable oil
    1 onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    3 tablespoons chili powder
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
    4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
    ½ cup water
    4 teaspoons prepared mustard
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    4 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes (about 3-4 medium sweet potatoes) - can subs. canned sweet potato puree but I don't recommend it.
    12 (10 inch) flour tortillas
    ½ to one pound shredded Cheddar cheese

    1. Make ahead: wash and scrub sweet potatoes, pierce with a fork and wrap in foil. Bake at 350° for about an hour and 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then slip off peel and puree in food processor (or with hand mixer) until smooth. You can even bake the potatoes a day ahead, unwrap foil and store whole in your refrigerator overnight.

    2. Preheat oven to 350°. 

    3. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until soft. 

    4. Add chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in beans, and mash.  I like to use a pastry blender for this...

    Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat, and stir in mustard and soy sauce. 

    5. Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. 

    6. Fold up tortillas burrito style (fold two sides in and roll), and place on a baking sheet. 

    7. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, and serve.

    Freezer Directions
    Follow the recipe through step 4. At step 5, simply fold up the tortillas and place on a baking sheet into the freezer to "flash freeze". Once frozen, wrap individually in plastic wrap then place into a ziploc freezer bag. Label (with date) and remove as much air as possible.
    To cook: thaw and bake according to step 6.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Southwestern Chicken Barley Soup

    {print this recipe}

    This soup is fantastic!  I love the texture the barley adds plus I'm a huge fan of anything with black beans.  Look for barley in the bulk food aisle or packaged alongside other grains.  This recipe calls for "pearl" barley (as opposed to hulled) which simply means it's slightly more processed and cooks quicker (think rolled oats compared to steel cut oats).

    source: modified from allrecipes.com

    prep time: 15 min.
    cook time: 1 hour, 15 min.
    serves: 12

    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    3 cups water
    2 cups frozen corn
    2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 (15oz) can tomato sauce*
    1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
    1 (14.5oz) can chicken broth
    1/2 cup pearl barley
    1 (4oz) can chopped green chiles, undrained
    1 Tablespoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 pound cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (about 2 breasts)**

    1. In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender.  Add the remaining ingredients (except chicken).  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
    2. Stir in chicken.  Cook 15 minutes longer or until chicken is heated though and barley is tender.
    * Most recipes call for 6oz cans so make sure you notice this calls for more!  Two or three 6oz cans would be fine in this recipe, also.
    ** If you bake your chicken, try adding some spices such as cumin and chili powder when baking.

    Kitchen tip:
    The recipe is fantastic for freezing!  Eat half and let the other half cool slightly.  Store in ziploc freezer bags, removing as much air as you can.  Lay flat for quick thawing.