Sunday, February 14, 2010

Trader Joe's-Like Homemade Tartar Sauce

We don't eat fish all that often, but when we do, we LOVE Trader Joe's Jalapeno Tartar Sauce. I knew I was going to be stopping by the fresh fish market this weekend, but I also knew we had no tartar sauce and there was NO WAY I was heading into Trader Joe's on the day before Valentine's Day. I've done it before and I just can't take the crowds. After doing a little research, I found that homemade tartar sauce is ridiculously easy and there really is no reason for me to buy store-made anyway. I mixed this up based on what I thought would work for our tastes and was pleasantly surprised at how perfect this was. The spiciness was right on par for our liking, and it ended up a little spicier than the Trader Joe's version, which was great. It is also a little lighter than the Trader Joe's version, since I used low fat mayo. It is almost too easy to blog about, and the picture is pretty bad, but here is my recipe:

Homemade Jalapeno Tartar Sauce (my creation)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 heaping Tbs. sweet pickle relish
1 tsp sliced jarred pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
Mix all ingredients well in a small bowl. Cover and refridgerate, allowing flavors to marry for at least one hour. Serve alongside favorite fish.

Turkey Sausage Pasta Bake

As this blog may show, I am a sucker for casseroles. I love their comforting nature and I especially love that they make good leftovers. I am always on the lookout for casserole recipes that don't have condensed cream soups, so this recipe from What's Cooking in the Orange Kitchen was perfect for a delicious weeknight meal. I halved this recipe, and this still made several servings for lunches during the week. Since I love turkey sausage, I will definitely be making this one again soon. Since I added a bell pepper, I found it had a lot of the flavors of an Italian sausage, peppers & onion sandwich. Yum!

Turkey Sausage Pasta Bake
1 (1-pound) package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
1 bell pepper, chopped (I added)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I used a little more)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese (I used a little more)
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I used a little less)
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
3. Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, pepper and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil.
4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

A blog award!

I have really enjoyed blogging over this last year. It has been a great way to organize my meals, digitally scrapbook my trips, and organize my thoughts. This is a public blog, but I don't write all that often and I'm not incredibly active with promoting my blog online, so I always looked at the blog awards on the other sites I followed and thought, "There is no way I'll ever get one of those!" Imagine my surprise when Leah over at My Life Uncensored nominated me for a Beautiful Blogger award! The best part about blog awards is that it gives me a chance to point out some of my favorite blogs that have given me so much inspiration in this last year. So thanks to Leah, and thanks to all these inspirational blogs!

The Rules:

1. Thank and link the person that gave you the award.
2. Pass this award on to 15 blogggers that you have recently discovered and think are fantastic!
My nominees:
1. Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations: Mary Ellen's blog was one of the first I ever followed in my Google reader. She has inventive, tasty weeknight friendly recipes and I love tuning in to see what she comes up with next.
2. Elly Says Opa: I have used more recipes from this blog this year than any other. Elly's blog has some great weeknight friendly meals in addition to tasty ethnic cuisine (her favorites being Greek and Mexican, yum!).
3. Paved With Good Intentions: I discovered this blog last week and spent several hours (at work, I'm so bad!) reading back to read all about ThatGirl's fantastic trips. She and her husband like to take small weekend trips to explore California in between the big trips, just like me and my husband. Great travel pics and a nice writing style.
4. Simply Satisfying: Another great weeknight meal source. This blogger was also the first person to link to one of my recipes, so she'll always be special to me!
5. The Rookie Chef: This cooking blog has a great writing style and I love that she doesn't take herself too seriously. I love the progress that her blog shows, as everything she posts these days looks pretty non-rookie to me!
6. Lemons & Love: I love that this blog has a good ratio of baking to cooking recipes. I have definitely marked a lot of her recipes to try soon.
7. And a Cookie for Dessert: I love both of this blogger's blogs, but I'm nominating her cooking blog in the hopes that she has more time to post on her food blog soon (she has two beautiful babies to take care of, though, so it is tough!). Brooke's taste in recipes is similar to my own and she has a great writing style.
8. Macaroni and Cheesecake: In addition to having about the cutest blog name ever, this blogger inspires me. She likes to spoil her husband and friends with tasty baked goods and is the type of party guest who always brings something yummy. I would love to be more like that!
9. Le Petit Pierogi: I've been following this blog for a while, too. This was the first blog I linked to from mine. She's also got a great mix of sweet treats and delicious dinner options.
10. Confections of a Foodie Bride: The first recipe on her blog right now is deep fried goodness. That's enough for a nomination for a Beautiful Blog in my book!
11. A Taste of Home Cooking: This blogger recently had a baby girl and still manages to post more often than me with delicious recipes. I'm inspired by her ability to keep blogging about food when she is so busy.
12. Jenn and Food, Perfect Together: This blog has had some nice healthy options lately, which is much appreciated at the beginning of the new year. Many of her recipes are Weight Watchers friendly!
13. Cooking This and That: When I'm looking for something with a little extra pizzazz, I know I can find it on this site. She has a knack for taking something with simple ingredients and adding a polished, unique touch. Lots of great party ideas here.
14. Elizabeth's Edible Experience: Normally, I don't follow blogs that have lots of step by step pictures. This is probably the only one that I follow that does the step by step. Elizabeth does a great job with showing only the most important steps, and her recipes are great.
15. Crockpot Tuesdays: This blogger has so many crockpot ideas, and even though I haven't made anything from her blog yet, I have several recipes marked in my Google Reader and just seeing how often she uses her crockpot inspires me to pull out my own, especially at this time of year!
Thanks to all these fantastic bloggers for making this last year my best ever for cooking. I look forward to making more of your yummy favorites in 2010!