Cigar Shaped Grilled Kafta Kebobs

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Kafta Kabobs on Skewer

This middle-eastern dish may look like turds on a stick, but don’t be fooled. These cigar shaped kebobs are packed with flavor. I recently served them as an appetizer at a dinner party with rave reviews.

I love Mediterranean food so this received high scores from Blimpy Girl. I would love to take the credit for the recipe, but it was my honey man, the Wine Guy, who made the kebob mixture. A garlic yogurt dipping sauce was prepared to enhance the flavor of the lamb and beef.

Kafta KebobsOne or two of these kebobs are filling. Paired with a salad, you may not need a main course. If you have the appetite of a horse, this may not be true for you.

The kebobs were made with 1/2 lamb and 1/2 beef and cooked on the grill. Yes, yes, I know. It’s the middle of Winter here in Michigan, but we still cook on the grill if no major snow storm is fore casted.

The kebob recipe is straightforward and shown below. Make sure you press the kebob mixture tight against the skewer so that it sticks. Lightly wet your hands after preparing each skewer. As with all wooden skewers, soak in water for 10 minutes prior to using in an oven or on a grill.

Grilled Kafta Lamb & Beef Kebob


  • 1/2 pound lean ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef (I used sirloin)
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • Mince 2 cloves garlic
  • Finely chop, wash, and drain 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of: paprika, black pepper, cumin, all spice
  • Salt to taste
  • Wooden skewers

Dipping Sauce

  •  8 ounces fat-free yogurt (Greek Fage type)
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste

Mix dipping ingredients and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

How to

 Mix all kebob ingredients to form a dough-like consistency. Press onto the soaked skewer sticks until you form a cigar shape. Lightly wet hands after each skewer. Grill for 20-25 minutes or until meat is cooked through. You can also bake in the 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes.


Two New Cookbooks Arrive

My New Cookbooks!

I am soooo excited about the arrival of these new cookbooks. They are a gift from good friends, Kellie & Jefre, who live in Spokane, WA. This couple exemplifies a healthy lifestyle I can only hope to achieve. They ski, kayak, hike, eat healthy, garden with a purpose, and never waiver in their efforts to stay healthy.

My husband had a tattered and torn copy of the Moosewood Cookbook. The new copy was a special treat for him as he has used many of the recipes from this book. The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook is new to both of us.

This weekend, I hope to find time to browse and bookmark new recipes I would like to try. I already have my eye on a Savory Vegetable Cheesecake dish. I never thought I would enjoy the challenge of cooking. Yes, challenge is the right word! Considering I rarely (if ever) cooked before Blimpy Girl was birthed, I am actually having fun cooking and testing new recipes.

If anyone has favorite recipes from either of cookbook, please share.

Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Salad

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Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Salad with Hummus

At least three times a year my husband and I get together with long time friends for a joint dinner which includes a post-dinner soak in the hot tub. The host couple prepares the main course and the rest bring a side dish or dessert. Last night’s event was awesome and a reminder how connecting with lifelong friends enhances ones life. As couples, we laughed, shared stories, sipped wine, played Mexican train, soaked in the hot tub and appreciated friendship.

The main course was chicken and beef fajitas (with all the fixins’), a smoked salmon & cucumber salad, Kafta Kabobs (appetizer) finished off with a cheesecake and chocolate fondue dessert. Blimpy Girl’s dish was the salmon cucumber salad.

Thinly sliced smoked salmon.

I purchased smoked salmon from Costco. It’s imported from Norway and  the ‘long-smoked’ process gives a  nice delicate smokey flavor. 

Cream cheese is spread onto thinly sliced cucumber slices and rolled up with a chunk of salmon inside. Think lox!

Cubes of chunky tomato, thinly sliced red onion, capers and toasted pine nuts embellish the bed of salad greens.

Cucumber Roll-Up with Salmon & Cream Cheese A mandolin is handy when making the cucumber slices, but a vegetable peeler works well if you bear down on the cutting edge. Spread cream cheese onto each cucumber slice, insert a piece of salmon, and roll.

Each salad plate included 3-5 cucumber salmon rolls, 3 cucumber rolls with no filling, a bed of mixed greens, chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, non-pareil capers, chunks of salmon throughout, sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and a dollop of low-fat sour cream. Drizzle a homemade olive oil & lemon juice vinaigrette over the salad  and complement with a side of hummus and crackers.

 Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Salad with Toasted Pinenuts

Easy Chicken Stir Fry

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Easy Chicken Stir Fry

This recipe is a great way to use up left-over chicken. It’s quick, easy and tasty. I threw this meal together in about 30 minutes and served mock guack dip on the side. There really isn’t a recipe, per se, so I’ve listed what I included in my stir fry. You can switch it up to your liking.


  • 3/4 teaspoon taco or fajita seasoning mix (or to taste)
  • Sliced bell peppers, I used 1/2 red and 1/2 yellow
  • 1/2 small onion sliced
  • Corn on the cob (pre-cooked), remove kernels cob
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Fat-free or low fat Sour Cream
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup chopped chicken breast

Arrange Romaine lettuce leafs on plate.

How To

If chicken is not already precooked, chop into bite size pieces and place in a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking oil. Cook over medium heat until chicken just starts to brown, then add the peppers, corn and onion. If using pre-cooked chicken, add after the veggies have started to cook through.

Add taco seasoning to 1/4 cup of hot water and mix well. Pour into skillet and cook until the taco/water mixture is reduced and the veggies/chicken are cooked through.

The stir fry chicken veggie mixture.

Remove from stir-fry from heat and drain off any extra liquid from the skillet.

Spoon a 1 1/2 cup serving onto the bed of lettuce. Add a dollop or two of sour cream.

This dish served two. Calories are in the neighborhood of 225 per serving. If adding 1/4 cup mock guack, plan on an additional 59 calories.

It’s a meal well under 300 calories that is healthy, low-fat and easy. The marriage of flavor and convenience makes it a great “on-the-fly” meal. The stir fry also makes a great filling for fajitas.

Fat Tuesday Apple Dessert

Shredded Apples, Raspberries... Yumm

The grand kids missed Fat Tuesday at my house, so we made it a Fat Wednesday. Instead of Paczki, we had a baked apple, raspberry and strawberry dessert. Topped off with whipped cream, of course.

Fat Tuesday Apple Dessert

The kids loved that I designated dessert as the first course for this special celebration and they decorated Mardi Gras masks while waiting for dinner. My friend, Mike, who lives in Louisiana, shared with me what Mardi Gras really means (outside of the publicized craziness).

“The “real” Mardi Gras is truly a family event with lots of floats, parades, Gumbo cook-off’s, Cochon de lait (roasting a whole pig), BBQ, and really just visiting with everyone in town that shows up for the “from Fri night to Tuesday evening” party that goes on along the 5 mile parade route.  There are 11 different parades during that time and somewhere around 250 floats with people throwing beads and playing Cajun music, and everyone keeps their shirts and blouses in the down position here.”

Mardi Gra Fat Tuesday Mask for Kids


  • Shredded apple, no need to peel
  • Applesauce
  • Fresh raspberries, 5-6 per serving
  • Fresh strawberries, one per serving
  • Low-fat whipped cream in a can
  • Pinch or two of ground cinnamon

  Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras MasksI used  three (4) ounce porcelain ramekins for this recipe.

How To

Place 1/3 layer shredded apples in each ramekin, add 1 tablespoon applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder. Top with 5-6 fresh raspberries.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Place a whole strawberry in the center of each dish and garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon powder. It’s not a paczki, but the kids sure enjoyed it. It was a great lesson for them in American culture and how others celebrate special occasions and holidays based on their heritage.

 Here is the link for the printable mask the grand kids colored. Attach elastic string to each side of mask and cut out the eyes with an Exacto knife or box cutter. Use crayons, markers, adhesive jewels, colorful feather and ribbons to jazz-up the mask.

Chicken Puffs

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Chicken Puffs

It was my usual Wednesday (sleep-over) with the grand kids. They drop book bags, hang coats, and run to the kitchen to see what Blimpy Girl NeeNee has prepared for dinner. This week I made appetizer-size chicken puffs. It’s a take off from another dish I’ve been making for the last 35 years called Chicken Balls. My family has tried to assign the dish a more appropriate name, but we still end up calling them chicken balls. I’ll share that recipe at a later date.

The kids were hesitant about trying the chicken puffs, but within their first bite I knew this recipe was scoring big points. Shredded chicken, cream cheese, cheddar, diced apple and chopped spinach fill each puff. Believe it or not, my grand kids love spinach. I think they were happy to see it served differently. I usually plate it as a salad with ranch dressing.

A baby spinach lead is inserted in each puff.

The recipe is easy and ready to serve in under 30 minutes. It also makes a great hot appetizer. The puffs can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake.

The yummy chicken puff filling.

Yummy chicken puff filling.


  • 1 can refrigerator reduced-fat crescent rolls
  • 2 12 ounces cream cheese (OK to use fat-free)
  • 1/2 cup chicken, use the white chicken in a can, drained
  • 1/4 cup shredded apple, no need to remove skin
  • 1/4 cup finely diced mild cheddar (use fat-free to reduce calories)
  • 1/2 finely chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 16 whole baby spinach leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How To

 Combine chopped spinach, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, apple, chicken and seasonings in a medium size mixing bowl. Blend well.

Finely chopped mild cheddar cheese.

Unroll the crescent rolls and cut each triangle into two triangles. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling and one spinach leaf in the center of each triangle. Roll the dough around the filling.

Wrap the dough around the chicken filling.

This recipe makes 16 chicken puffs, each in the neighborhood of 50 calories. Not bad! Six of these little guys can make a meal (at least for me). Add a side salad (fat-free dressing, of course) or vegetable dish to fill in the blanks.

Warning: Chicken puffs hot from the oven can be addictive. You might want to keep count of how many you are popping into your mouth.

Stuffed Zucchini Boat and Baked Apples

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Stuffed Zucchini and Baked Apples

I had a sudden energy burst last night and decided to use up produce about to kick the bucket. The wine guy (AKA my honey man) gets annoyed when throwing out food stuff I fail to use, but ask him to purchase. Since he was attending a wine dinner, I wasn’t able to share that I redeemed our kitchen produce from a trash can death. I can’t wait to showcase my cooking handiwork over morning coffee.

I spotted one medium size zucchini in need of serious rescue. I was certain it would work well for my recipe. The size yieled more pulp and fewer seeds which was critical to my recipe idea.

Depulped Zucchini HalvesI washed and sliced the zucchini lengthwise. It was de-pulped (that means scooping out the innards with a spoon) and the pulp set aside. The zucchini bowls should be deep enough to house the filling.

Dish is best served hot from the oven. If you plan to reheat and serve later, slightly under cook the dish and reheat in microwave in short bursts.

Prep time is minimal and baking time around 20 minutes. You can have this healthy meal on the table in 40 minutes!  Grab the Recipe

Feta Cucumber Roll-Ups

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Cucumber Feta Roll Ups

What a refreshing salad course or appetizer dish. If using as a salad, arrange two cucumber rolls-ups on one leaf of Romaine lettuce. For pizzazz and color add a couple Romano tomato slices or grape tomatoes and lightly drizzle with a fresh vinaigrette basil dressing. Seedless cucumbers are the first choice, but if not available use a traditional slicing cucumbers.

Filling for the Cucumber Roll Ups

The feta mixture is placed on each cucumber slice and then rolled. A toothpick keeps everything in place (gotta love those toothpicks). There are couple of tips when making the filling.

1 ) Do not use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. The oil will make the filling runny and soggy.

2) When adding Kalamata olives, drain and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry before chopping.

3) Use ONLY fresh spinach leaves.

Place feta filling on cucumber slice and roll.

The addition of a fresh basil leave in each roll-up adds pizazz to the presentation and enhances the flavor combinations. If you don’t have fresh basil, use a baby spinach leaf inside each roll-up. Grab the Recipe

Other appetizer ideas include spooning the mixture onto round cucumber slices (a melon baller works great) or toasting thinly sliced baguette bread in the oven. Spread feta topping on toasted bread slices. Garnish with a sliver of red bell pepper.

Pizza Placemats

Pizza Placemat Hide and FindThis week’s place setting was all about pizza. Dinner was ordered from a local pizza joint. Of course, I had to make the place setting match the theme (because I’m anal and that’s what I do!)

Four pizza slices were missing from each 8-piece pizza pie place setting. The pizza slices were hidden around the house and each child’s name was written on the back that noted a special prize. Not every pizza slice yielded a surprise.

My oldest grand son, Carson, found a pizza slice gifting him a library day with NeeNee (that would be me). My grand daughter gets to pick out a special bed time book. My littlest guy (age 3) found a special helper pizza slice. He so loves helping.

This pizza slice was hidden (and taped) next to framed wall art.

These simple meal time place settings don’t have to always have to be about money or gifts. Kids love coupons which that gift special treats. My grand daughter loves the opportunity to help with dishes. My eight year old grand son enoys picking out a special movie for us on NetFlix. My three year gets excited about showering by himself.

Heck, make coupons for special alone time to bake cookies, an hour for doing a craft, printing out coloring pages on the computer or reading books. We are all finacially strapped, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find creative ways to enjoy time with our kids or grand kids.


Gummy Fruit Ice Cream Dessert

Valentine Jello Treat with Ice Cream

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The grand kids are here for an overnight while Mommy and Daddy enjoy an extended snowmobile weekend in Michigan’s UP. This gummy fruit ice cream dessert is on the menu for the grand kids tomorrow. Heck, I might even serve it over pancakes.

NO, NO, NO… the beet colored cut outs on the ice cream ARE NOT BEETS. The stacked cut-outs are actually a gel mixture made with blackberries, strawberries and blueberries.Mix the berries with water Emulsify the mixture and pour into an 8 x 8 pan and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from fridge and cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to make the vanilla ice cream patty. Place cut out gummy shapes on top and decorate with a splash of strawberry syrup. Place in freezer until ready to serve.  I’ll get the recipe posted in the next day or two.