Friday, October 30, 2015

Kids in the Kitchen: Halloween Fruit Treats

Halloween is tomorrow and my kids are so excited to get dressed up and go trick-or-treating.  I know their plan is to ring as many doorbells as possible to get as much candy as their sacks can hold.  Free candy is nice... but it's also nice to put out some healthier Halloween treats for them to enjoy as well.  

I have noticed these three fun ideas all over the internet in the last couple of years. So, I thought the kids would have a blast making some mandarin orange pumpkins, apple and peanut butter teeth and banana ghosts in an episode of "Kids in the Kitchen".  We had such a great time making our little fruit treats. 

I know my kids will still love a candy bar from time to time.. but it's nice that the fruit treats were so enthusiastically enjoyed by them too.  I hope you like what the kids cooked up this time!


  • Seedless clementine or mandarin oranges
  • Celery and with  celery leaves
*optional (regular and mini chocolate chips to make jack-o-lantern face)

Peel clementine orange and insert a small piece of celery as the stem. Then garnish with celery leaves. 

  • Apples sliced
Note: soak cut apples in a bowl of water and 1 tsp of salt solution to keep from browning
  • Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Mini Marshmallows

Apply a thick layer of peanut butter one side of two slices of apple slices.  Wedge together and place mini marshmallows for teeth. 

  • Yellow banana (firm)
  • Mini chocolate chips for eyes
  • Regular chocolate chips for mouth

Peel yellow banana and slice in half. Make sure to keep a flat bottom to make the banana stand up.Use a skewer to make holes for eyes and mouth.  Press chocolate chips as needed to make eyes and mouth.  

Check out Kitchen Simmer on Yummly and remember to click on the "Yum" button near the top of this post to save any of my recipes to your Yummly recipe box.   Thanks!

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Devilishly Spicy Ghoul-ash

beef and pasta, goulash,

We are counting down to Halloween at our house and this Devilishly Spicy Ghoul-ash is definitely on the menu for the big day.    I always make the kids eat a hearty dinner before heading out in the cold to "trick-or-treat".  American style goulash is a favorite dish for my kids and I also love it because it's so easy to make since it all comes together in one pot.  To make this a one pot dish I first boil the pasta and then reuse the same pot to make the goulash.  The last thing I want to do is have a lot of pots and pans to wash when I have to hand out candy on Halloween.

American Goulash is basically a beef and macaroni dish with paprika and tomato sauce.  I added some celery, green pepper and onions to make it a little more hearty and stretch out the dish.   Then I made it devilishly spicy by adding jalapeno peppers, red pepper flakes, and Sriracha sauce. It's also has some Asian flavors in it with the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and fresh ginger.

I know my kids (and my hubby) will each eat a big bowl before going "trick-or-treating" this year.  I also know they will be very hungry after all that walking around for free candy in our neighborhood. Luckily this goulash reheats quickly and they can each enjoy a second bowl once they come home.  Since I will be staying home and handing out candy, I won't have the excuse to eat two bowls of this yummy "ghoul-ash".  I will definitely be enjoying the leftovers (if they are any) the next day.  

Making a big pot of this American style goulash is a fun and easy way to get dinner on the table when we are all busy getting into our costumes for the big day.  Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!!

Devilishly Spicy American Ghoul-ash 
by Ramona W.  from Kitchen Simmer

1 box of elbow macaroni 
1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef 
1 large onion finely diced
1 cup finely diced celery
1 small green pepper finely diced  
1-2 jalapeno peppers finely diced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2-3 cloves grated garlic
red chili flakes - to taste
2 Tbs paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp sugar (if you desire)
1 (14oz) can petite diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (14oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs hoisin sauce
2 Tbs Sriracha sauce
1 cup starchy cooking pasta water (more as needed)
salt and black pepper for seasoning to taste


Step 1:  Cook elbow macaroni in salted water until 80% cooked through.  Before draining pasta reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.  Drain pasta and reserve until later.

Step 2:  In the same pot you cooked pasta, brown the ground beef well on medium high heat.  Once beef is starting to brown, season with a little salt and black pepper.

Then add the celery, onion, jalapeno peppers and bell peppers to the ground beef with the garlic and ginger.  Season all ingredients lightly with a little salt and black pepper and saute for another 2-3 minutes.  

Next add the paprika, red chili flakes, dried thyme, basil, oregano and poultry seasoning.  Cook the spices with the meat mixture for a minute and add the cans of tomatoes next with a little sugar if your tomatoes sauce is tart.
Then add the pasta water (1 cup first to start) and the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sriracha sauce.  Next add the cooked pasta and mix well (add some more pasta water if you don't have enough sauce to cook the pasta through).  Lower the heat to medium low and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce/meat mixture for another 5 minutes.  Serve hot.  Enjoy.

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vegan Lentil Spinach Tomato Curry


I have always loved lentils since I was a little girl.  My mother cooked a lot of lentil curry when we ate our rice and curry meals so it is basically a big comfort food for me.  I have passed down my love of eating lentils to my children so I always have a big canister filled with masoor lentils in my pantry.  We usually make basic lentils, but there are times when I want to jazz them up.  I love all the flavor the tomatoes and spices give the lentils and the spinach is just a great addition of color, texture and nutrients. 

The great thing about these lentils is that they are vegan, full of healthy protein, fiber and delicious enough to be eaten with rice alone.  I ate a big bowl of lentils over some brown rice and no other curries were required.  That means a lot to me since a basic rice and curry meal usually consists of cooking 3-4 other dishes/curries to go with the rice.  This is a one pot wonder that is totally tasty, fast and satisfying. 

Vegan Lentil Spinach Tomato Curry
by Ramona W. from Kitchen Simmer 

Ingredients for cooking Lentils
2 cups masoor lentils washed well (these are little orange lentils) 3-4 cups water to cook lentils
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 inch small cinnamon stick 

Ingredients for curry
3-4 medium sized fresh tomatoes (ripe) chopped
3-4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
10-15 curry leaves (optional)

1 pandan leaf (optional)
2-3 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp turmeric
red chili flakes/red chili powder to taste
1 medium onion diced
1-2 green chilies sliced 

1 Tbs fresh garlic finely minced or grated
2 cloves fresh ginger grated
salt to taste
1 can coconut milk


Step: Wash lentils well with cold water until water runs clear.  Place in a large pan with water, cinnamon stick and turmeric.  Boil for 20-25 minutes until water is cooked out and lentils are very tender.  You should be able to mash between your fingers. Set aside until later.
In a separate pan heat 1Tbs of canola oil until hot on medium high heat.  Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, pandan leaf and curry leaves for 20-30 seconds.   Then add the green chilies and onion to the pan with a little salt and saute for 1-2 minutes. 

Then add chopped tomatoes and garlic and ginger and a little more salt.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Next add the cumin powder, turmeric powder and red chili flakes to taste.  Note: Juice from tomatoes will come out and make a little curry gravy.


 Next add the fresh baby spinach and cooked lentils to the pan.  Mix well.


Then add the coconut milk and stir well.  Taste for salt and seasoning and cook on medium low heat for 5 minutes.  Serve hot with rice or flat bread.  


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom and Onion Gravy

 salisbury steak, mushroom, gravy,

My mother cooked dinner for our family every night, so there was not many frozen meals eaten at our house when I was growing up.  However, she sometimes bought little frozen entrees for us to enjoy after school and I always picked the Salisbury steak.   Of course, now that I can cook for myself and my family, I love to make Salisbury steak at home.  I think the perfect bite is a little bit of Salisbury steak and big dollop of mashed potatoes covered in gravy. Yes, each forkful is pure bliss. 

This recipe is a spiced up version with a really flavorful and rich mushroom and onion gravy.   To complete the meal I always serve it with some green vegetable like peas, broccoli or green beans.  Today I decided to have peas (because it was simple) and some steamed carrots to give a bright orange pop of color to the meal. 

I can't express how much my kids (even my daughter who is our occasional vegetarian) loved this meal.  They were also excited when I took some of the leftover Salisbury steak, heated it up and sliced it to make sandwiches the next day for their lunch box.   Of course my husband loved it so much that he had a Salisbury steak as a midnight snack that very same night!  Next time I better double my recipe because I was the only one that didn't get to enjoy the leftovers...not fair for Mommy!

The good news is that this meal comes together pretty quickly and it definitely beats any frozen dinner out there. 

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom and Onion Gravy
Recipe by Ramona W from Kitchen Simmer


Salisbury Steak:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20 blend)
1 egg
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3 Tbs plain milk
2 Tbs sriracha
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt (more to taste)
3 Tbs grated fresh onion 
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika

Mushroom and Onion Gravy:
16oz sliced mushrooms 
1 1/2 medium onions sliced (use the other half for the grated onion in the steak)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup chicken or beef broth
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce 
red chili flakes - to taste
1 cup milk
1 heaping Tbs cornstarch
salt and black pepper to taste


Step 1:  Mix all the Salisbury steak ingredients together and form oblong shaped patties.  This will make about 8 large steaks.   

Tip:  Mix all the the dry ingredients/seasoning together first and the wet ingredients together first so gets added into the meat at one time and it all mixes evenly.  My photo shows it all separate for instructional purposes. 

Step 2:  Heat 2 Tbs canola oil in a large skillet (big enough to cook the steak and gravy together) and brown the Salisbury steaks on both sides on medium high heat until almost cooked through (about 3 minutes per side).  Then remove the browned steaks from pan until later. 

Step 3:  Make sure there is about 2 Tbs oil in pan and add the sliced mushrooms with a little salt and black pepper.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms brown.   My mushrooms released some of their juices (this helps make the gravy).   

Step 4:  Add the sliced onions and and cook with the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes.  Then add the poultry seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and the chicken or beef broth.  

Step 5:  Add the browned steaks into the gravy and cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes on medium low.  You can flip the steaks half way through simmering. Cook until steaks are fully cooked through.

Step 6:  Mix the milk and cornstarch together well and pour into the gravy.  Increase the heat to medium high and simmer until the gravy thickens.  Taste for salt and seasoning and adjust as needed.  Serve hot with mashed potatoes and vegetables.  Enjoy. 

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Apple Salad with Walnuts and Cranberries


Apples are in season these days and I love buying a big bunch to fill our fruit bowl at home so there is always a healthy quick snack around.  I made this apple salad with yummy crunchy walnuts, tart dried cranberries and some canned pineapple because... well I love pineapple.   I brought this salad over for a family meal over my sister's house and it was a big hit. 

I thought it would make a great light dessert for those of us who don't always want to eat a big slice of cake after dinner.  My mother thought the salad was great, but she decided to dig into it with her meal as a side salad.  So it's a pretty versatile salad because it can be placed on the main table as a side salad or on the dessert table as a light dessert.  Way to go apples! 

Apple Salad with Walnuts and Cranberries
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer 

10-12 medium apples (any kind)
* Bowl of water and 2 tsp salt to soak apples
1 (8oz) brick of cream cheese softened
1 heaping cup sour cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 (20oz) can pineapple chunks or tidbits drained

1. Wash and cut apples into small bite size pieces.  Note: peeling skin off apples is optional if you prefer.  Place cut apples into a solution of salt and water for 5 minutes to prevent browning. Then drain apple pieces on paper towel for a few minutes. 

2.  In a large bowl, mix softened cream cheese with brown sugar and sour cream until smooth.  Then add drained pineapple chunks, drained apples, walnuts and cranberries.  Mix well and serve immediately or chill and serve.  Enjoy.

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

 Welcome to Kitchen Simmer's second post, Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.  This ice cream is creamy, minty and full of chocolate.  It also has a hidden ingredient that will definitely shock you... Spinach! 

ice cream, mint, chocolate chip

My family loves homemade ice cream and this Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream was a big hit.  I also loved sneaking a healthy ingredient into the ice cream that was a total surprise.  After my family each enjoyed a big bowl of ice cream I asked them if they could guess how I made the ice cream green.  They all thought it was food coloring or mint leaves.  It was fun to tell them that the hidden ingredient was actually fresh spinach

Before you totally dismiss the idea of spinach in ice cream, I have to tell you that both my kids and husband could not even taste it.  I simply used it to give a little added nutrients and the lovely green color that we want to see when we think of mint ice cream.

I also used a good quality chocolate bar that I hand chopped so the chocolate was different sizes.  It was such a fun surprise to get a big piece of chocolate here and there as you ate your scoop of ice cream.    

This ice cream was enjoyed by all and there were even arguments about who would get the last scoop.  No worries, this mother can simply whip this ice cream any time so there is no reason to be "green" with envy.   My Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream was definitely a home run. 

PS.. don't forget to click the "YUM" button to save this recipe in your Yummly recipe box so you can always have it on file. Thanks!

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup regular milk
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup or a large handful of fresh baby spinach
1 can (14oz) condense milk
4oz chopped sweetened chocolate (semi-sweet)

In a blender, blend together the cream, milk, peppermint extract, condense milk and spinach until smooth, creamy and thick.  

Hand chop the chocolate and fold it into the ice cream mixture.  Place ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze overnight.  Allow ice cream to sit out for 10-15 minutes before serving for easy scooping. Enjoy.


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.