Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I swear I have been Cooking!

Really, I have! I have been trying to keep more of a budget with our food bill... the extra money going to TOYS TOYS TOYS!  I think I may love Christmas more now than when I was a kid.  And really menu planning, when I make an effort to only go to the store once a week, saves a boat load! So here's the plan for the week, and I'm not allowing myself back to the store so I better get it all in one trip!

Tuesday: Turkey and (turkey) bacon melts and Sweet Potato Fries. For inside the sandwich crisp the bacon, get your deli turkey, add tomato if you like, shredded mozzeralla, little pesto, or as PJ would like, chipolte mayo, then lightly butter your bread, assemble it all and skillet each side. For fries, peel 3 or 4 sweet potatoes, cut into fourth inch straws, toss with a bit of EVOO then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, being as generous as you'd like. Bake on baking sheet at 400 for about 25 mins.

Wednesday: Creamy chicken and rice soup - going to try to find bread for soup bowls... We'll see.  Here's the recipe.

Thursday: The boys LOVE baked potatoes, so we'll back these up real nice for them with some delicious fixin's.

Friday: Salmon quesadillas. Grab a couple small cans of salmon, tortillas, mozzarella cheese, a little spinach leaves if you like, and for the sauce: 1 part EVOO, 2 parts red wine vinegar, 1 part Dijon mustard, pepper. Mix salmon with sauce, add as much as you prefer. Butter each tortilla (we use smart balance) then spread cheese and salmon mixture and spinach leaves and sandwich between tortillas. Skillet each side and cut into fourths. It is SO filling!

Saturday: PJ's Christmas Work Party - I'm off duty

Sunday:  Bears Sunday! We usually just do dips.  PJ loves the 'hot wing' dip.  We'll have some simple salad too.  Recipe down there.

Hot Wing Dip:

1 cooked and shredded chicken breat
hot sauce
Ranch dressing
shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. cream cheese

Mix cream cheese and sour cream together.  Spread on bottom of dip plate about 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle as much mozzarella cheese as you like on top of that.  Mix shredded chicken with hot sauce then add as next layer.  Last add more cheese and drizzle with ranch.  Microwave till cheese melts, about 1 minute.  Enjoy creamy spicy deliciousness!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Total Comfort Food Weather

So it's getting chilly.  I associate a few things with the cold weather, cozy sweaters, soup, casseroles, the desire to play Christmas music a bit too early, lots of pumpkin bread, to name a few.  So I wanted some new 'cold weather' recipes...

Monday:  I have never cooked with quinoa, but apparently all the healthy people are eating it and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon.  So here I have Lemon Parley Quinoa Cakes, why not.

Tuesday: Last week, I made a super simple one skillet meal and loved that it only took me 15 mins to make dinner... and the boys ate it! So I found this really easy casserole... 1 skillet, 1 casserole pan.  And I think my burrito lover husband will like Burrito Casserole.

Wednesday: I love veggies. I could really do without meat most of the time, this Veggie Pasta 'Lasagna' Bake looks warm, and healthy (can go easy on the cheese) and very filling! I think I'll switch the rice pasta with regular wheat pasta.

Thursday: 'Pantry veggie soup'.  See recipe below. And I love Jewels Rosemary and Olive Oil bread...mm mm mm.

Friday: Southwest Chicken Stew for tonight!

Saturday: This is a great hearty, healthy, good for leftovers meal: Baked Penne with Roasted Veggies

Sunday: I need a break man.  Left-overs or ordering a pizza.

"Pantry Veggie Soup"

-about 6 c. broth (veggie or chicken)
-1 can diced tomatoes (not drained)
-1 can corn or 1 1/2 c frozen corn
-1 can white northern beans
-1 or 2 chopped zucchini
-1 1/2 c frozen peas
-1 1/2 c. chopped carrots, fresh or frozen
-1 or 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 tsp dried tarragon
-1 TB (more or less if you like) Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I am LOVING Menu Planning!

When I look for new recipes I usually scan the number of ingredients and if that number is over about 7, it gets passed by automatically.  So I was thinking about the many delicious meals I've missed because of this approach to cooking.  Not that tons of ingredients equals a better dish, but I shouldn't be so quick to veto. So, little by little I have been using recipes with more ingredients, and have noticed that I've acquired some of the random spices that would normal turn me off to some dishes; dill, mustard powder, bay leaves, dried parsley, cream of tartar, etc, have all become permanent members in my spice cabinet making it not so daunting to take on some fuller-listed recipes.  And the Salmon Cake recipe below has a long list of ingredients, but is very good, especially to Salmon lovers like me!

Monday: Baked Spaghetti and Banana Berry Smoothies. Recipe below.

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes with this Creamy Dill Sauce that I love. I have made this salmon cake recipe before, and it is very flavorful! It also tastes good with Fat Free Miracle Whip instead of real Mayo as it calls for.

Wednesday: Roasted Sweet Potato and Corn Soup - I have started a love affair with sweet potatoes.... mmm... this is a new recipe but it looks very yummy and very fall.

Thursday: 'Beef Taco Skillet' with some steamed Broccoli. Super easy 1 skillet meal.  You can use very lean beef, and go easier on the cheese if you want to make it a bit more waistline friendly.   Recipe below.

Friday: Mascarpone and Strawberry Puree French Toast.  Prepare french toast as you would normally, dipping 2 pieced of bread into about 1 beaten egg.  Cook both sides. Thaw and puree as many frozen strawberries as you like.  Top french toast with mascarpone and strawberry puree.

Saturday: Pulling a double header Goddaughter birthday party today staring at 10:30 a.m. Kaitlyn is turning 2 and Ava is turning 1! We will all be eating double meals and double cake today!

Sunday: Crock Pot Chicken Enchiladas - I will make some Spanish Rice to go along with this too.

"Baked Spaghetti"

-box of spaghetti, can use wheat
-jar of favorite sauce
-about 1/2 c. ricotta (can use FF or reduced fat)
-3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
-4 egg whites

Cook pasta till tender yet on al dente side.  Let cool a bit in a mixing bowl so you can work with it and won't cook the egg whites.  Stir in egg whites and mozzarella cheese.  Dump into square baking dish. Spread top of spaghetti with thin layer of ricotta, add more or less depending on your preference.  Top with sauce then mozzarella, again as much or little as you like, but save some sauce for after you cut and serve. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 30-35 mins, check it from time to time, you may want to cover top with some foil so the top doesn't get too crusty.

-1 banana
-1 c. frozen strawberries
-about 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. orange juice (may need to add a bit more of each to blend well)

"Beef Taco Skillet"

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup (Regular or 25% Less Sodium)
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 (6 inch) flour tortillas, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Monday, October 10, 2011

Remember Me?

So if this blog was my rehab for bad cooking, I totally pulled a Charlie Sheen.  I am back now though, and between not so perfectly planned meals and quick trips to Portillios were some pretty good meals... one of my favorite dishes I made, and will be adding to Thanksgiving repertoire is Cauliflower Gratin. And one more meal that Patrick actually requests is Chicken Tortilla Pie.  So check those out.  Two dishes in 2 months, hey not bad! Here's the plan for the week...

Monday: We just had left-over Turkey Chili.  This is my own recipe, but I swear it's actually pretty good and very healthy! A great fall meal! See recipe below.

Tuesday: Grilled Cheese - Trader Joe Style.  I am such a sucker, another sample has hooked me.  Use wheat bread spread with Earth Balance butter. For the middle, slices of fresh tomato, mozzarella cheese, and hummus.  Skillet it, and eat it! Yuuum Yuuum! We'll have simple salad too.

Wednesday:  This is NOT gourmet so stop reading unless you are into processed meat from time to time.  I have had such cravings for hotdogs, usually yuck, but just one won't hurt.  Bought some veggie dogs from TJ's so thats actually not bad and turkey dogs in case the veggie ones are nasty :) Patrick likes sour kraut on his, along with sauteed onions. I like big slices of tomato, dill relish and sesame seed buns. We just made a little fire pit in the back yard, so we'll roast them over some back yard twigs :) And we'll have some of my new FAVORITE.... Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday: Bruschetta with Lentils and Goat Cheese. I've used a jar of bruschetta from TJ's mixed with cooked lentil beans and a bit of goat cheese.  Serve on baguette slices or crackers. Also for the little boys Baked Mac n Cheese and I'll add some cauliflower and broccoli in before I bake it. 

Friday: My friend Sabrina's wedding. So we will be eating something delicious I am sure, and trying to score some extra slices of wedding cake tonight. :)

Saturday:  Dinner plans :)

Sunday:  Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  I am veeery excited for this.  I love potato soup, and this one is loaded! Can't go wrong! Recipe below.

Turkey Chili:

1 lb ground turkey - browned in skillet
Chili powder - as much as you like (I used probably 4 TB)
Frozen Corn
1/2 onion, sauteed a bit to soften
1- 2 fresh zucchinis diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 cans tomato sauce (depends how thick you like it)
1/4 c water

Brown turkey in skillet, then add 2 or more TB of chili powder with a little less than 1/4 c water and let simmer till most of water is gone and turkey is all spiced up!  Dump all the other ingredients, along with the rest of chili powder.  Add salt and pepper to taste. And simmer, simmer, simmer till veggies and soft and there you have a perfect fall supper!! Patrick adds a dollop or sour cream and some cheese to make it extra good (but a little less calorie conscience)

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
  • 1 lb. bacon, diced - I'll use turkey bacon
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 3 T. butter - sub. earth balance butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • Sour cream for garnish, optional
1. In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain all but 2 T. of bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, until tender.
2. Add potatoes and chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot.
4. Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese, three-fourths of the bacon and half the sliced green onions to pot. Add pepper. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and top with some shredded cheese, bacon, green onions and optional sour cream.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Here we go...

I can't lie. Last week did not go so well.  I skipped out on a few of the meals I was supposed to make. Though one small victory is that I did NOT serve buttered noodles.  I couldn't bring myself to make the cinnamon roll French Toast - I was in the grocery store looking at the label and ingredients with horror.  That's why its better to order it at a restaurant where you can eat in wonderful nutritional info-less bliss! Also, the store I went to had NO good avocados for one of the chicken recipes, and I don't think my crazy sample eating, cracker box opening, gnawing through marshmallow bag, trying to hop out of the cart, surfing on the cart side children could take another store (nor could I without some sort of prescription). So hopefully this week will be better! I am excited for the meals I have planned!

Monday: Is there anything better than Mexican food? How about Mexican food in Kabob form! These Mexican Kabobs look pretty yummy.

Tuesday: I've never had Stuffed Peppers - I think I'll give them a whirl! And these cook in the crock pot

Wednesday: I loved my bruschetta the other week, we'll have that again, along with Italian Grilled Cheese Patrick is missing dinner again so this one is all for the boys and me!

Thursday: A very yummy looking Fish Taco recipe. 

Friday: Game night with some friends - kids are on their own!

Saturday: I love Thai food and so does PJ, so we'll have Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad

Sunday: Supreme Nachos! I'll marinade some chicken in Lime dressing then pan fry the strips.  While chicken is cookin, I'll put a mix of pita chips and tortilla chips on a big platter.  Add chicken, bit of shredded colbe-jack cheese, pico de gallo, a couple small dollops of sour cream, corn, black beans Place under preheated broiler just till everything melts a bit. Add the lettuce and cilantro at the end. Eat!

Here are some muffins I'll make at some point this week:

Reduced Fat Blueberry-Strawberry Muffins
NotRachaelRay original

3/4 cup skim milk 
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 
1 egg
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 cup roughly chopped fresh strawberries 

Preheat oven to 400*F.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper lines or spray with nonstick spray.  In a large bowl, whisk together milk, applesauce, egg, oil and lemon zest.  Add in flours, ground flax seed, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Your batter will appear slightly lumpy, but don't over mix!

Fold in berries.  Pour our scoop into prepared muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack and enjoy without guilt!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another Week...

So here we are, another week's menu planned.  We are settling into a routine here in our new house, with PJ's new job, and me only babysitting a couple days  - so it's been great to have some time to cook real food!  Though the boys still seem drawn to the kitchen while I'm cooking, I usually let them play with the water in the sink so I can dice and chop without little fingers in the way!

Monday: PJ is missing dinner, so we'll just have grilled chicken strips and fruit salad - so kind of plain! Liam will no doubt smother the chicken in ranch.  He usually end up rubbing it all over himself - maybe he's on to the next deep moisturizer! 

Tuesday: Breakfast Dinner.  You may have to do a few extra sit-ups after this, but they are soooo good! "Cinnamon Roll French Toast" and fruit smoothies.  For the Cinnamon Roll French Toast, buy pre-made or bake pilsbury cinnamon rolls - slice in half or into 3rds depending on thickness - dip into wisked egg - spray pan and cook.  And, ALL of my boys love these smoothies; blend 1 banana, 3/4 c. frozen strawberries and 3/4 c. frozen blueberries, about 1/2 c. lemonade and 1/2 c. milk

Wednesday: Yummy Cayenne Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa and simple salad

Thursday: Fish Cakes and fresh Pineapple and Grapes

Friday: California Gilled Veggie Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries 


My favorite Salmon recipe I've ever found "Honey and Mustard Crusted Salmon and Trader Joe got me with this recipe sample "Brown Rice with Edemame" (recipes below) 

Sunday: Probably dinner at our Mom's - or we'll order a pizza!

"Honey and Mustard Crusted Salmon"

2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TB Butter (I use Smart Balance)
2 TB Dijon Mustard
1 TB honey
2 to 3 pieces of Salmon (depending on size)

In fry pan, heat oil and butter till butter melts.  Stir in mustard, heat for 1 min.  Add Salmon - cook for about 4 mins  Add TB of honey and flip salmon to cook other side - again about 4 mins, but may be less. 

"Brown Rice with Edemame"
- TJ's steamable Organice Brown Rice
-TJ's frozen edemame or "Soycutash" (a mix or corn, edemame, red pepper)
- TJ's Sesame Soy Ginger Viniagratte

**Steam 1 whole bag of Rice, Boil about 1/2 of edemame/'soycutash' - or more if you like more - mix together.  Stir in about 1/4 to 1/2 bottle of dressing - up to youFish Cakes

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rookie + 1 week

Last week was a success, though we are not used to eating that heavy every night.  So I looked for some fun salads and other lighter meals this week- I've got to fit into my total-mom skirted-bottom bathing suit after all!  Aaaand last week was missing one thing... dessert! So I did make this delicious "Peach and raspberry Cobbler" last week - recipe is below.  And I have a couple planned for this week that I'll make when the mood strikes - probably both first thing Monday.

Monday: Wild Rice Salad with Yogurt Vinaigrette and watermelon

Tuesday: This is kind of a hodge-podge day. "Corn and Potato Hash" and "Shrek Soup" - it is a very healthy version of Broccoli Soup that Shawn renamed and requested for this week.  I know it is July and it's soup, but I can't resist that child and it is sooo good for you!!
Wednesday: Simple Bruchetta and Zucchini Fries and Grilled Nectarines. For bruchetta, I'll just chop tomatoes, add some fresh mozzarella, basil and vinaigrette; pick up a french loaf and drizzle a little olive oil and put that on the grill a few mins to toast.  See Zucchini recipe below - but I am excited for that one! For the nectarines, I leave the skin on and cut them up into big pieces, sprinkle a little brown sugar and grill just one side for about 5 mins
Thursday: Chopped Salad - portillos knock off style!  Chop some iceburg lettuce, I'll throw in some romaine too.  Crumble Gorgonzola, chopped chicken, fresh salsa from Jewel, little noodles (ditalini?).  That's all we add! Use a favorite dressing! 
Saturday: Our 6th anniversary - night out on the town! 
Sunday: Fancy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches - you will notice that I find every opportunity to use goat cheese.  Plus Shawn digs sandwiches - he can devour an entire Jimmy John sub in record time - he's like Joey from Friends
"Zucchini Fries" with Vinaigrette
6 small zucchinis, 1 TB olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 2 TB crumbled feta, 2 TB sliced basil - cut zucchinis lengthwise into 4ths. Brush olive oil and sprinkle salt n peppa. Grill.  Add feta, basil, and drizzle vinaigrette afterwards.
Vinaigrette - whisk 2TB extra virgin olive oil, 1 TB Dijon mustard, zest and juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper
"Shrek Soup"aka Broccoli Soup

2 pkg of frozen broccoli (I sometimes substitute one of the pkgs with broccoli/cauliflower mix)
1/2 yellow or white onion
1 cup of carrots (frozen or fresh)
3 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp powdered garlic

1. Bring broth to boil
2. Add frozen broccoli, chop up onion and add, carrots, salt, pepper, garlic
3. Bring back to boil, them simmer for about 10 mins or until you have tender veggies
4. Then blend or puree 1/2 at a time 
5. Then eat!   
"Corn and Potato Hash"
1/2 to 1 pound potatoes, cut into chunks  (as many as you and your guest would like to eat)
olive oil, salt, and pepper
1 small or 1/2 of a large onion, diced
2 fresh ears of sweet corn
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place potatoes on baking sheet, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tender and cooked through.
While the potatoes are cooking, saute onions in a cast iron skillet, over medium heat until tender and browned.  Turn off heat and set aside until potatoes are done baking.
Slice corn off the cob and chop parsley.
When potatoes are done baking, remove from the oven and place in the cast iron skillet with the onions.  Cook over low heat.  Add corn and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, salt, and pepper.  Toss until butter is melted and corn is just warm.
Remove from heat.  Toss in parsley and serve.
This hash lasts, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

"Peach and Raspberry Cobbler" - makes 1 8x8 in pan
5-6 medium ripe peaches, sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries (if using frozen, just thaw and drain)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place sliced peaches and raspberries in a square 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, oats, spices, and salt.  Add the butter and toss the mixture together with your hands.  Break the butter up into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small pebbles and oat flakes.  This took me about 4 minutes.
Toss a generous handful (about 1 cup) of crumble topping into the peach and raspberry mixture.  Toss loosely with your hands.  Spread fruit evenly in the pan and top with the remaining crumble mixture.  Bake until fruit is juicy and bubbling, and the top of the crumble is slightly browned and crisp, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and serve with vanilla ice cream.  Crumble is delicious served warm and can be stored, covered, in the fridge and reheated in the oven or microwave for serving.