Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crisp Baked Pork Chops

I was thinking earlier today about the dinner I had planned for tonight (a new recipe that I was really looking forward to trying), and I thought that I could modify it a bit and do it in the crockpot instead. After I fed the baby I went to the pantry and discovered that I was missing one of the main ingredients. I could have sworn I had some of it (I'm being vague because I'll make this next week and don't want to give anything away...because it's so important that I keep it a secret...please note the sarcastic tone in that last statement), so I was really surprised to find I didn't have it after all. One of the main reasons I was going to make it was that I had everything on hand except one small thing. Oh well. Better to find that out at 2:00 instead of 5:00!

So I looked through a couple cookbooks and couldn't really find anything that sounded good, which of course meant I turned to RecipeZaar.com. I wanted something with pork chops, so I entered in a bunch of search parameters (I LOVE the search feature on there!) and found this that sounded simple and tasty.

Crisp Baked Pork Chops
Recipe #40082 By: Dancer^

2/3 cup cornflake crumbs
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 (4 ounce) boneless center cut pork chops (1 pound)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine cornflake crumbs, flour, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper and sugar in a large resealable plastic bag. Brush egg white over both surfaces of each chop. Place them, 1 or 2 at a time, in bag with mix, and shake bag to thoroughly coat pork.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.


Sounds easy, and I have everything on hand for them. I think I'll keep the side dishes simple--baked potatoes and some kind of vegetable.


These were REALLY good. For some reason when I was putting everything together I thought they were going to turn out gross, but I don't know why. I ended up putting the pork chops on a baking rack on the cookie sheet so they wouldn't get soggy on the bottom. I also flipped them over halfway through the cooking time. The boy helped me mix up the coating--he crushed the cornflakes and then helped add in the spices. I love that he loves to help in the kitchen. He always wants to taste everything we're putting in, too, which I think is very cool. One of the comments on the recipe said they had spread mayonnaise over the pork chops instead of using eggs, so that's what I did because I was feeling lazy. It was really yummy. The coating stayed crunchy, and the flavor was really good. I'd definitely make these again.

(Sorry...I forgot to take a picture of the finished product!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mock Vegetable Risotto

Well, we're home from our vacation. We had a good time, although Myrtle Beach totally wasn't what we expected. It reminded us of Laughlin, NV but on the beach. There were no oceanfront restaurants or bars that we could find, really there were very few seafood restaurants we could find. And the weather was only okay--we only made it to the beach twice because the other days were rainy or cold. We did drive to Charleston, SC and went and toured Fort Sumter, so that was way cool. Charleston was a neat town--I'd definitely go back there. The boy had fun playing on the beach, and he played mini golf for the first time, and we went to an aquarium. It was a good trip, but I'm glad to be home. I'm pretty tired of eating out, so I was excited to plan out my menu for the week.

I filled in a few days with some things I've been wanting to make, but I had a couple holes. The husband said to try and fill them with vegetarian options, and I remembered this "risotto" recipe I had made awhile back. We really liked it, and all I needed to buy were a couple vegetables for it, so I thought that would be good.

Mock Vegetable Risotto
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup converted white rice
2-1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and finely diced
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into sixths and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 cup seeded, diced tomato, either fresh or canned
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
liberal seasoning of freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp white wine or dry vermouth
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil

Heat the butter in a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the vegetable stock and salt and cover the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Do not let it brown. Stir in the red pepper and saute 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and fennel and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the peas and a generous seasoning of freshly ground pepper. Remove the pan from the heat.

After the rice has cooked about 17 minutes, it should be tender, not mushy, and there should be a little stock left over that has not been absorbed. At this point, stir in the wine and then all the sauteed vegetables.

Sprinkle in the two cheeses and the basil, then gently stir to incorporate them. Cook 1 minute and serve.


I used brown rice last time I made this, and that's what I'll use this time as well. When I went back to look up this recipe I read my review and noticed I let the rice cook about 45 minutes. Since there's a lot of veggies in this, I think the only side we'll have is some good looking bread I bought at the grocery store today and some salad. I swear everytime I travel I come home wanting to eat nothing but vegetables.


This was good, just like the first time. I ended up using roasted red peppers because regular red peppers were $$$$$ at the store, and I had some roasted ones in the fridge. I also added in some canned corn because we'd had it the night before and about half the can was left. It was tasty. There were hardly any leftovers. And...I remembered to take a picture!

And, this was the first time I used my new Le Creuset mortar and pestle...very exciting!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Knives!!

I love my husband. I love him so, so, so, so, so much. I love him even more since he told me about the awesome deal on sellout.woot.com today. A set of three Shun Kaji Fusion knives for $250. I've been coveting Shun knives for awhile now. Actually I had one ordered from Williams Sonoma after Christmas, but they ran out and cancelled my order. I was very sad. I was hemming and hawing about whether or not to get them, so of course that meant a phone call to Jen B. to get her opinion. Turns out her husband has done a lot of research on Shun knives and thought this was an amazing deal. That was all the encouragement I needed. Now I have to patientily (or not so patiently) await their arrival. Want to see what they look like?

As a comparison, I checked the Williams-Sonoma website to see what they went for on there, and the 8" knife in the set on its own goes for $225!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another yummy...

The husband and I got to go on a date night the other night (big perk of traveling with family!!), and we ended up at a cigar and martini bar. We didn't have much time before we had to get back, so we skipped the cigars and just had martinis. The husband had a regular ol' vodka martini, but I went with a fancy one from the bar's extensive menu. It was a Snickers Martini...Godiva liqueur, butterscotch schnapps, cream, and chocolate and caramel drizzle. Lordy mama it was tasty!! The husband said he wished he would have had one had it not been such an emasculating drink. I may have to splurge on some Godiva liqueur at some point and try to recreate it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yummy Food and a New Cookbook!

Just had to share the yummy food I had yesterday. For lunch I had a shrimp BLT. It was awesome. Shrimp, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a dill mayonnaise on sourdough bread. Oh man, it was TASTY!!! Then for dinner I had She-Crab Soup. It was super tasty. I figured it was going to be mostly soup and a few chunks of crab, but it was mostly crab and just a little soup. I'd consider making it in AZ if I could find decent crab. The husband had shrimp and grits for dinner last night...cheese grits. I didn't try the shrimp, but I did try the grits. And by "try" I mean I ate all the grits he left on his plate. ;) I've GOT to find a recipe for that. I looked briefly on RecipeZaar.com but didn't find one that was similar, but I didn't look for very long either.

I also got a new cookbook, the Charleston Junior League cookbook. I've only briefly flipped through it, but there's a ton of stuff in it I can't wait to make. I love buying cookbooks like that. Plus I like saying "Charleston Junior League" in a Southern accent.

Monday, March 23, 2009


No, I'm not slacking (again) on updating my blog, I'm on vacation!! I'll be back in a week or so, posting again. I don't think I'll be doing any cooking while we're here, but if I do I'll be sure to post!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


In an attempt to not have leftovers at the end of the week, I'm using something I found in our freezer. When my in-laws were here at Christmas, my MIL made lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. We didn't eat all of it, and I didn't want it to go to waste, so I froze what was left. I had completely forgotten about it until I was looking for something in the freezer recently. I remembered it was there when I was figuring out meals for this week. I wanted something easy tonight since the husband has his class at church, so I got this out to thaw and will just throw it in the oven when dinner gets closer. Shoot, I just remembered I was going to defrost a loaf of bread dough to make along with this, but now there won't be enough time before dinner.

Here's the recipe my MIL uses for her lasagna. It's kind of cool in that she does the meat as a separate layer on top--meatballs and sausage--instead of having a meat sauce.

Aurelia's Lasagna

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pork Katsu Donburi

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!! May the luck o' the Irish be with you today! Did you know that the husband is Irish (well, Irish and Cajun)? He is. We actually went to Ireland in 2005 with my in-laws and the husband's sister and her family. It was a fantastic trip. My FIL even met up with some cousins he didn't know about until he did some family tree research once we were there. It was amazing. In fact, to celebrate today, here's a picture of me kissing the Blarney Stone!

And the husband and I having our first pints of Guinness in Ireland. It tastes so much better over there than it does here!

So to celebrate, we're having...Japanese for dinner. I know, I know, but I couldn't come up with anything Irish that sounded good. I was originally going to do this on Thursday night, but I moved it to tonight. I don't remember why, but I'm excited for it. We've had this once before, about two months ago, and we all really liked it. It's from the Meal Planning 101 blog that I follow and love. Jen B. made it first, and they really liked it, then of course I followed in her footsteps because I'm completely co-dependent on her. With her? I don't know the right phrasing. I bought some pork chops last week when they were on sale for super cheap ($1.66/pound for BONELESS!!), so I'm going to bust out those for this.

Pork Katsu Donburi
2-4 pork loin chops
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (try not to substitute or the result will not be the same)
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced into strips (you can substitute regular button mushrooms)
1 carrot, julienned (I am using a frozen Asian Veggie Blend with carrots instead)
2 tbsp white sugar
4 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped green onions
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked rice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cover the pieces of pork in plastic wrap and using a meat tenderizer, bash the meat until the piece is about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure you flip it over and do the other side as well. Do this to all your pieces. Then cut pork into cutlet sized portions, if needed. Now that your pieces of pork are cut and tenderized, season both sides with salt and pepper. In three separate bowls put flour in the first, beaten eggs in the second and Panko breadcrumbs in the third. Dredge each piece of pork in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, and place on a baking sheet with a baking rack on it. Drizzle lightly with oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, flip the pork, drizzle the other side lightly with oil and then place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

While pork is cooking chop veggies (or follow stir fry directions for cooking frozen veggies). In a large frying pan set to medium-high heat saute the onion in oil for 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and carrot and stir-fry a couple more minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce and salt and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle in half of the green onions, stirring gently.

When pork comes out of the oven, cut into strips.

Turn the heat down to medium-low for the veggies and pour beaten eggs over the mixture, stirring a bit to incorporate the sauce and egg. Gently add the pork over the top and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the eggs are cooked. You may need to add a lid for part of the cooking time to get the eggs to cook through on top.

To serve, scoop rice into four bowls. Divide pork and veggie mixture into four, and place on top of rice. Garnish with a little more chopped green onion. Serve immediately!


I'm only modifying it a little. Jen mentioned she had used some chili paste in her egg wash, so I bought some at the store today to mix in because I thought the last time I made it, the pork could usse a little more flavor. I'm skipping the mushrooms and carrots and just using a frozen stir fry blend. I think last time I microwaved the veggies, and they were a bit soggy, so this time I'll stir fry them so they stay crisp and yummy. Oh, and I didn't add the pork back in because I thought it might get too soggy. I don't think I'll make any side dishes with this since there's rice and veggies in it already.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Toss

Rarely does it happen that I'm figuring out what to make for dinner at 5:00, but that's what has happened to me today. We're going out of town in a few days, so I was trying to make dinners this week that wouldn't leave a whole mess of leftovers in the fridge that would end up going to waste. Then I remembered that tonight we're hosting some kids from Wisconsin that are visiting our church; they're supposed to have dinner before we pick them up, but I thought I should make something that there would be enough of in case they were hungry. So that ruled out what was originally slated for tonight--that and the fact that I don't the right kind of cheese. Oops. I tried to rearrange my menu plan for the week, but everything else I was going to make had ingredients that I was missing. So I had to come up with something new.

I looked in the fridge to see exactly what kind of cheese I had and saw a bag of mozzarella (or Italian blend--I'm not exactly sure which it was), so I started to think about what I could do with that. I remembered this random recipe I had thrown together at one point and thought this would be good. Woo hoo!

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Toss
2 chicken breasts
2 egg whites
Italian bread crumbs
8 ounces (dried) rotini pasta
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Grated parmesan

Cut chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Place egg whites in a pie plate, place bread crumbs into a gallon Ziploc bag. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Put chicken pieces into egg whites and coat chicken. Transfer chicken to Ziploc bag and close bag. Shake to coat chicken pieces. Move chicken pieces to skillet with olive oil; cook until golden brown and cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water and drain when done cooking. Return pasta to pasta pot, add in chicken. Pour in spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan. Stir to combine. Serve.


I have some pasta left in the fridge from the Chicken Cacciatore I made at the end of last week, so I can use up that and just cook up a little extra to go with it. I have some marinara left from the meatball pie and I saw an opened jar of Ragu in my fridge I can use up, too. The pasta I have in the fridge is spaghetti, and I have linguine in the pantry, so I'll be using those instead of rotini.

I think we'll just have some bread and salad with this. It's the Asian salad blend I bought last week, but I want to use it before it goes bad, so we'll just have to deal with an Italian dinner and an Asian salad. I'll just say we're continental. Yeah, that's the ticket...continental!


This was only okay this time. It was more like spaghetti with chunks of chicken than I remember it being the last time I made it. It was decent, and it came together easily, so I can't really complain. However, the Asian Blend Fresh Express salad was super yummy!!! I will definitely get that one again. I could eat the whole bag on my own.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Beef Broth, Anyone?

I was going through my pantry and realized I have five cans of beef broth. I have absolutely no idea why I have that many or what thought process went through my head causing me to buy five cans (I hope I didn't buy them all at the same time). I also have absolutely no idea what to do with that much beef broth. All I can really think of is French Onion soup, but with the ooey gooey cheese on top of it, I don't think that's the best healthy option.

So, I thought I'd see if anyone had any ideas on things I can make to deplete my stock (hahaha!!) and free up some valuable pantry space. Post a comment if you have any suggestions for me!!

Babies, Babies Everywhere!

I just have to say CONGRATULATIONS to my friends Jen A. and Joanne on the births of their babies!! Jen's son Cole was born Thursday night, and Joanne's daughter Catalina was born early Friday morning. Hooray for new babies!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

Don't get all excited, I'm not making some fancy new recipe. I'm taking the easy way out tonight. There's a thread on a message board I frequent about what products people like from Trader Joe's. It's pretty cool because you get first hand reviews of things instead of having to try them and see if they're any good (although I've rarely--if ever--been disappointed with something from TJ's). It's kind of like TraderJoesFan.com, which I like to peruse before a trip to TJ's. Anyway, the TJ Chicken Cacciatore Simmer Sauce got some rave reviews by other mamas on the message board, so I picked up a jar of it recently. All I'm doing is cooking some chicken and boiling some water for pasta. Oh, and heating up some bread in the toaster oven. I love an easy dinner on a Friday night! I'll let you know what I think of the sauce. I tried to find a picture online of it somewhere but no dice. I guess I could take a picture of the empty jar. Maybe if I bring my camera in from the car (we went on a fire station tour today!!) and remember to grab the jar out of recycling before the husband takes it out. Basically if the stars align, I'll take a picture of the jar. ;)

Happy Friday everyone! I think we're going out to dinner tomorrow night because 1) we'll only have the baby with us (who is being ridiculously cute right now, by the way, chewing on a giraffe toy/blanket (thanks Aunt Brookie!!) and trying to roll around on the floor), and 2) the husband got a bonus recently, and we need to celebrate. I think we may go to one of my favorite restaurants, Z Tejas. Mmmmm...margaritas!!


Mmmmmm. This was good. And easy. And a cheap dinner. Woo hoo--an all around winner!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meatball, Mozzarella, Marinara - Oh My, Calzone Pie!

So, I lied on my birthday by saying I was going to be making a Trader Joe's recipe last night. I forgot I had slated it for tonight. Last night I needed a quick crockpot dinner, so I went with my old standby, Chili Cheese Tortilla Wraps. It was good, as usual.

Oh, I want to point out that the boy has been an angel yesterday and today!! Since I usually complain about his behavior I figured I should let everyone out there know that he is capable of being nice. He really is a sweet boy, he just doesn't know how to deal with his anger and frustration. But he's been so, so, so good yesterday and today. Hooray!! It makes me a much happier and nicer mommy. :)

Last week I was looking on the Trader Joe's website and noticed a Recipe section. As you know (or probably could figure out), I'm a sucker for recipes. I didn't look at all of them, but the title of this one intrigued me. Then I was beyond delighted to discover I had most all of the ingredients I needed for this, except a pie crust, but that was easy enough to pick up at my grocery shopping trip this week. The recipe lists all TJ's ingredients, so I'll keep it like that.

Meatball, Mozzarella, Marinara - Oh My, Calzone Pie!
1 package Trader Joe's Gourmet Pie Crust, thawed
1 cup Organic Basil Marinara
1 package Frozen Meatballs (Meatless or Turkey work too!), thawed and quartered
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Follow the directions on the pie crust packaging for double pie crust. While filling, first spoon 2 Tbsp of sauce on the pie crust and spread to cover. Add meatballs and top with remaining sauce and cheese. Continue with the rest of the directions on the package, baking 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden.


Mmmmm...sounds yummy! I had a bag of TJ's Meatless Meatballs in the freezer, so I have those thawing on my counter right now. I'll probably use more than half a cup of cheese, too, because a small amount of cheese just isn't my style. I think I have an Italian cheese blend in the fridge. Not sure what we'll have with it, maybe some frozen peas or broccoli. I have a bagged salad mix in the fridge, but I think it's Asian blend which seems kind of weird to have with this. I was going to get Lite Ceasar, but the nutrtional info was better on the Asian one. Weird.


This was really good! We all liked it a lot. It was really easy to throw together which was nice. When I was assembling it I wondered if it would be weird having the cheese next to the crust on the top, but it wasn't at all. It was yummy with the cheese stuck to the crust. Mine baked for about 20 minutes, the crust didn't look quite done after 15 minutes. This is definitely something I'd make again. With the soy meatballs, it was a great easy vegetarian dinner, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!!

No dinner tonight, folks, as it's my birthday, and I don't cook on my birthday. We're going to The Keg for dinner because you can sign up for their birthday club and get a free prime rib dinner the month of your birthday. I'm all about free, and I'm all about prime rib.

I'll be back tomorrow with a new recipe I found on the Trader Joe's website!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chili Pasta with Beans

I was going to say "What a day" but haven't I been saying that just about every day lately? Ah, life with a three year old in the house. Always keeps things interesting. It's a good thing I'm nursing the baby because if I wasn't, I'd probably be an alcoholic. Just kidding. Maybe.

Anyway, this was another recipe from last month's Cooking Light, actually from the same article as the falafel recipe I mentioned in my post yesterday. It was on the same page as the falafel, so I happened to notice it when looking at that. I had pretty much everything on hand for it, and as I've been trying to use up items from my freezers and pantry I thought it would be good.

Chili Pasta with Beans
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 pound ground sirloin
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces uncooked ruote (about 2 1/4 cups uncooked wagon wheel–shaped pasta)
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles (such as Muir Glen), undrained
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and beef to pan; cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender and beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano; cook 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups water and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 minutes or until pasta is done.

Nutritional Information
Fat:8g (sat 2.3g,mono 3.6g,poly 0.9g)


I figured since the nutritional info was posted I'd include it here. I'm changing it up slightly and adding a can of kidney beans instead of the ground beef. I have a ton of ground beef for some reason, but I needed another vegetarian dinner in my meal plan, so I thought that would be a decent substitute. Also, a big THANK YOU to Jen B. for giving me some chili powder since I'm out and didn't want to go to the store with two kids (I still haven't braved that). Oh, and I couldn't find wagon wheel pasta, so I think I got fusilli instead.

I think I'm going to heat up some canned corn (I heart Trader Joe's canned corn so much!!! I've been known to eat it straight from the can. I hope that wasn't TMI.) and some bread to go with it. Had I thought far enough ahead I would have thawed a loaf of frozen bread dough, but I never think to do that with enough time for it to thaw and rise.


This was decent but not something I'll make all the time. If I need a dinner and have everything on hand I'd probably make it again, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to make it. I liked that it was healthy and made a lot, but overall it was just kind of "eh."

(I forgot to take a picture when I made it, so I took a picture of the leftovers when I was having some for lunch one day.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Feta Roast Potatoes

This is the potato dish I've decided on to go with our Falafel Pitas tonight. I'm copying it in from RecipeZaar.com but will post what I'm doing differently after the recipe.

Feta Roast Potatoes
Recipe #72411
1 1/2 kg potatoes, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon thyme (or regular thyme if you can't get lemon)
220 g greek feta

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Grease a large baking dish. Cut potatoes into 1 cm thick slices. Arrange them in the baking dish. Drizzle potatoes with oil and add the thyme. Toss the potatoes to coat in oil and herb. Roast potatoes for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender. Increase temperature to 220°C. Crumble feta over potatoes and toss through. Return dish to oven for 10 minutes until feta softens.


So, RecipeZaar has a cool feature that you can change the quantity of the recipe and along with that, change it to either US or Metric measurements. I changed it to four servings and US measurements (and looked up celsius to fahrenheit conversion on Google) and basically got this (although I rounded some of the ingredient measurements):

1 pound potatoes, washed
2 teaspoons olive oil
5 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme (or regular thyme if you can't get lemon)
4 ounces greek feta

Preheat your oven to 400°. Grease a large baking dish. Cut potatoes into 1 cm thick slices. Arrange them in the baking dish. Drizzle potatoes with oil and add the thyme. Toss the potatoes to coat in oil and herb. Roast potatoes for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender. Increase temperature to 425°. Crumble feta over potatoes and toss through. Return dish to oven for 10 minutes until feta softens.


I'm using red potatoes because when I went grocery shopping last time the only russet potatoes they had were in 10 pound bags, and there was no way I'd use that many potatoes before they went bad. I'm kind of hoping these end up tasting like the Greek fries at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant because those are so, so, so yummy. I don't have fresh thyme, so I'm just going to use dried thyme and may sprinkle some lemon juice over the potatoes. One of the reviews said they had done that.


Mmmmmmm. These were yummy! I added in some dried oregano as well and really liked it. I think next time I'd skip the thyme and use some fresh oregano instead. I love having easy, new potato dishes. The feta on top was really good, too.

Falafel Pitas

I've had a great weekend!! Yesterday Jen B. and I went to our local Le Creuset outlet because one of their colors was being discontinued, and all items in that color were 30% off!! We're both suckers for Le Creuset--especially on sale--so we couldn't resist. We got some great deals; I got a 4-quart oval pot, an oval casserole dish, a batter bowl, and my mother-in-law's birthday present. I'm not sure if she checks my blog, so I don't want to say what it is. ;) We hit a few other shops while we were at the outlet mall, then we had lunch at Pappadeaux's. Oh man, was it ever good. We both had the crawfish combo--fried crawfish and crawfish etouffee with dirty rice. YUM! We were in food heaven. Then the husband, kids, and I went over to my aunt and uncle's for an impromptu family dinner. My uncle grilled steaks which were amazing. It was a great food day, although I woke up this morning with a total food hangover. I definitely over-induldged yesterday, but it was worth every bite!

Originally we were going to have these falafel pitas last night, but when my aunt called inviting us over for steak I figured they'd be fine waiting until tonight. I bought the falafel at Costco on Jen B's recommendation. Her family loves them, so I thought we'd give them a try. I'm excited to have an easy dinner for tonight because it's been a bit of a rough day. This is her recipe, but I'm changing it up just a little.

Jen's Falafel Pitas
pita bread of your choice
2-3 falafel patties per sandwich (I am using pre-made)
lettuce of your choice (I like romaine or baby spinach)
sliced red onion
sliced tomato
sliced cucumber
Tzatziki sauce or hummus for topping
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Cook Falafel according to package directions. Place in pita with other ingredients of your choice. Eat like a sandwich.


In an interesting twist, the day I bought the falafel I was looking through last month's issue of Cooking Light and there was a similar recipe in the magazine, only it involved making your own falafel. There was a tzatziki sauce recipe included, so that's what I'm using on ours. I heart tzatziki very much!

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
2/3 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine ingredients.


Yum. I'm really excited for this and hope the husband and boy like it. I looked on RecipeZaar.com for some kind of potato recipe to go with this and found a couple that sound good. I'm going to stick with the Greek theme and am trying to decide between two recipes I found. I'll post that recipe once I pick one of them.


This dinner was a bit of a mishap, but it was totally my fault. I'm pita inept. Always have been, always will be. I cannot for the life of me separate them. I don't know what my deal is. So, we couldn't stuff the pitas with all the fixings, so we put them on top and tried to fold them. It worked okay...except for the falafel (is one falafel still called falafel?) that flew out of the husband's and landed in his drink. Seriously. I kind of kicked myself because at the store I stood there debating between pitas and naan, which Jen had used the last time she made this. I opted for pitas--forgetting about my ineptness--because they were something like $0.75 cheaper. Sigh. Should have gone for the naan. Next time.

The tzatziki was good, although I think I like it with shredded cucumbers instead of chunks. And I wish I would have thought far enough ahead to make it earlier in the day so the flavors had time to marry more than they did.

I will definitely make this again (and not just because there was falafel left), but I'll skip the pitas and save myself a lot of grief, and I'll go with naan instead. It was a yummy vegetarian dinner, and we all liked it.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I had originally planned something else for dinner tonight, but it used leftovers from the beef I was going to do in the crockpot on Wednesday. I've been thinking all day about what to make and haven't had any really good ideas. I asked the boy and he didn't have anything to suggest either. I thought about tacos and have decided to go with that. Easy, tasty...what more can I ask for?

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I still have some goat cheese left from my Costco purchase awhile back, and I want to be using it up. Awhile back we had some really good goat cheese and red pepper relish paninis, so I put those on the menu plan for tonight, but then I remembered I have some prosciutto in the fridge that needs to be used up, so I think I'm going to do prosciutto, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and basil paninis on ciabbata rolls. Not sure on the side dish yet...I haven't thought that far ahead yet. I still have some broccoli that needs to be used, so I'll probably steam some of that.

By the way, the red pepper relish in that other recipe DOES NOT freeze well. I had quite a bit left and stuck it in the freezer so it wouldn't go to waste. Yeah...it was pretty watered down and gross when I defrosted it. I'm just going to roast the peppers this time and put them on the sandwiches whole, skip the relish step.

These were super yummy!! I was kind of worried it was going to be too many flavors together, but it totally worked! I love paninis, and I love all the ingredients that went into this. I forgot to take a picture of my sandwich after it was done, so I took a picture of the husband's before it went in the panini press.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tomato, Basil, and Parmesan Gnocchi

I had something entirely different slated for dinner tonight, but I realized as I was awake at 2:30 AM feeding the baby that we're out of beer. That doesn't usually happen in our house, so I'm glad I thought of it with enough time left to figure out something else for dinner. I had bought a package of gnocchi at Target awhile back (who knew that Target carried gnocchi?!) and remembered reading a recipe on the back of the package that sounded good. It called for fresh basil, and I had a trip to Trader Joe's planned today (I love their price on organic basil!!), so I thought this would be a perfect fill-in dinner. I have to make some modifications because I don't have one of the main ingredients, but we'll get to that later.

Tomato, Basil, and Parmesan Gnocchi
1 package Archer Farms tri-color Gnocchi
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook gnocchi according to package directions; drain. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add cooked gnocchi, tomatoes, and basil. Cook, stirring often, until gnocchi is lightly browned. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.


I forgot to check the ingredients before we went to TJ's, and I was thinking it had marinara sauce in it, so I bought a jar of that. Oops. I have quite a few roma tomatoes on hand for HLT sandwiches (hummus, lettuce, tomato) I had planned on making this week for lunches, so I think I'll just chop those up in place of the grape tomatoes. I also thought the recipe called for mozzarella, so I bought a ball of fresh mozzarella. I think I'll dice that up as well and add it in to the mix, probably after everything else is cooked so it gets a little melty but mostly still holds together. I'm going to steam some broccoli to have on the side, make up a salad with some Romaine hearts I have, and I also bought some kalamata olive bread at TJ's today. Yum!


Mmmmmm...this was so super yummy!! I had wanted it to have little chunks of cheese, but the cheese got all melty because I tossed it in when everything was still really hot. Oh well, it was still really good--gnocchi swimming in puddles of ooey-gooey-melted mozzarella. This is something I would definitely make again, although it was pretty decadent with all the cheese. I love how fast and easy gnocchi are to make.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No-Guilt Pumpkin Cookies

Jen B. was talking the other day about making some pumpkin bread, so I've had pumpkin on the brain ever since. I found a can of it in my pantry, so I've been trying to decide what to do with it. I looked on my new favorite recipe website, RecipeZaar.com for pumpkin recipes and came across this cookie recipe. I had everything on hand for it, so I told the boy if he took a good nap today we'd make them. Plus I was happy with the nutritional info (LOVE that about RecipeZaar!!), so I thought they'd be a good snack to have around.

No-Guilt Pumpkin Cookies
Recipe #169079

1/2 cup sugar or Splenda granular
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, beat sugars and margarine until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges.


Wow. These are so yummy. I've had four five cookies from the first batch (this is why I don't normally bake cookies!!). The boy is having his second. I was a bit nervous because I've made other pumpkin cookies and was really disappointed with how they turned out, but these are super tasty. Very light and fluffy with a cake-like consistency. Yum. In fact, I may mix up another batch of dough tomorrow and freeze since I have half a can of pumpkin leftover.

Basil Pork Chops

This is going to be short and sweet because both my kids are napping, and I want to take full advantage of that!!! My friend Danielle told me recently she had tried a really good pork chop recipe. I'm always on the lookout for something new to do with pork chops, so I thought I'd give it a go. She found it on allrecipes.com.

Basil Pork Chops
SUBMITTED BY: Lisa Gilliland

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 (4 ounce) boneless pork loin chops, 1/2 inch thick

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, basil, salt and chili powder. Gradually stir in 1 tablespoon oil until crumbly. Rub over both sides of pork chops.
In a large skillet, cook pork in remaining oil over medium heat for 7-8 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.


Danielle emailed me last night that she had made them again and this time added some mushrooms into the pan and it turned out really good. I had to run to the store this morning for a couple things I forgot to buy on my regular shopping trip, so I picked up some to add in. I'm excited to try this. I'm going to make wild rice pilaf (recipe from Food Network website) to go with it and either some glazed carrots or steamed broccoli, not sure which yet.


Wow. This was REALLY good. I couldn't find my chili powder, but I had some chipotle chili powder that I used instead. It has a lot more kick to it than regular chili powder, so I only used 1/8 tsp. The mushrooms added in were really good, too. I put them on top of the pork chops when I plated everything. I will definitely make these again, especially since all the ingredients are things I normally have on hand. We all really liked it--the boy ate every last bite of pork on his plate!

The rice was super tasty, too. Just don't let your three year old son get a juice box out of the pantry while the pine nuts and garlic are browning because he may knock over a stack of tuna cans in the process which may cause your pine nuts and garlic to almost get too dark. Just pay attention is all I'm saying. The recipe for the rice did not say to cover the pan after the water came to a boil, but I figured since it was rice I'd need to. The boy didn't eat any of it, the husband only had a few bites, but I loved it.

I remembered to take a picture of my plate, but of course the camera is downstairs, so I can't upload the picture. Once I do I'll come back and add it in here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Peanutty Udon Noodles with Tofu

A couple weeks ago Jen B. and I found ourselves at Whole Foods. Neither of us make it there very often, so we decided to have a good coveting session while we walked around. Of course, it would have been much more enjoyable had the boy not been hitting her son all the time and if the baby hadn't been screaming. Sigh. It's probably for the best as I could easily blow my entire food budget in one trip there. It was getting to be lunch time while we were there, so we decided to get us lunch there and get Happy Meals for the boys. We each got a tray of sushi to share and then each got 3/4 pound of their spicy udon noodle salad. Lordy mama was it ever tasty!!

I liked the salad so much I thought I'd try to create something similar on my own. Did you know the Whole Foods website has recipes on it? It does. So, I searched on there and found this recipe, although I'm modifying it somewhat based on what I have on hand. This sounded like what I wanted, so we'll see how it goes.

Peanutty Udon Noodle and Tofu Salad
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
6 to 7 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic chile sauce (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
20 ounces tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-thick slices
10 ounces dried udon noodles
3 cups chopped napa cabbage, green part only
3 carrots, sliced
1 bunch red radishes, quartered
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts

In a food processor, mix together peanut butter, honey, 3 tablespoons of the tamari, vinegar, chile sauce, garlic, and 2 tablespoons warm water and puree to make a sauce. Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, cook tofu on first side for approximately 7 minutes. Carefully sprinkle tofu with half of the remaining 3 or 4 tablespoons tamari and cook for about 4 more minutes or until the first side is golden brown. Flip tofu and sprinkle second side with the remaining tamari. Cook until golden brown, then transfer tofu to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to let drain.

Cook udon noodles according to package directions, drain and transfer to a large bowl. In a large pot with a steamer basket, steam cabbage, carrots and radishes for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Combine noodles with vegetables and mix in reserved peanut sauce. Top with peanuts and serve.

Per serving (about 11oz/314g-wt.): 510 calories (200 from fat), 22g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1390mg sodium, 59g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 19g sugar), 24g protein


I bought some Thai peanut sauce at Costco, so instead of making my own sauce I'm just going to use that stuff. And I'm going to heat up a bag of stir fry veggies instead of the cabbage, carrots, and radishes. So really the only parts I'm keeping are the tofu and udon noodles.

I have my tofu draining right now, I like to give it at least 30 minutes to drain. I put some paper towels on a plate, then put the tofu block on that, then put another plate on top with something heavy resting on it to drain the excess liquid out of the tofu. You want to make sure it's drained really well, otherwise it won't brown up nicely when you cook it. I generally like to use extra firm tofu for something like this, but my store was out of it yesterday, so I had to settle for regular firm tofu. I hope it does okay.


WOW. This was yummy!!! I wish my camera(s) had been downstairs so I could have taken a picture, but they were both up here in the office since I had recently uploaded pics from the boy's birthday weekend. This was super easy to put together, which I love. The firm tofu held up well, and I think I may have actually liked the cooked texture of it better than extra firm. I used about 3/4 cup of the bottled sauce (this is the website for the stuff I bought) which was plenty. This could easily be made using regular pasta, like spaghetti or linguine. This is definitely something I will make again. Yum!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sweet and Sour Ribs

How did it get to be Sunday afternoon already?! The boy is down for his nap, the husband is sleeping on the couch (which kind of sucks since there are dishes to be done in the kitchen), and I'm trying to get the baby down for a nap. Once nap time is done, I'm going for a pedi and then grocery shopping. My feet can use some pampering, and I was virtually a single parent the past two days, so the husband said he'd treat me. Excellent (said in Monty-Burns-esque voice). I'm trying to get back in the habit of using coupons when I grocery shop, so we'll see how I do today. There's lots of stuff on sale that I have coupons for, so I'm hoping to save more than I spend...I love when that happens!

Anyway, dinner is already cooking away in the crockpot, which I love. Who doesn't love crockpots?! Did I ever mention how I stood coveting the All Clad Slow Cooker at Sur La Table a couple weeks ago? Man, would I ever love to have that grace the presence of my kitchen. I was pretty tempted to treat myself to it, but in the end I just couldn't justify it. Someday.

I still had some boneless pork ribs in the freezer, and I was trying to use up stuff I had on hand this past week because both of my freezers were ridiculously full. This is one of our favorite dinners, so the stars all seemed to align.

Sweet and Sour Ribs
1 can Contadina sweet and sour sauce
1 cup barbecue sauce
Dash of soy sauce
3 T. brown sugar
Boneless ribs

Cut fat from ribs and boil 10 minutes. Mix first four ingredients together. Place ribs in crockpot and pour sauce over to coat. Cook six hours on low. Or, place ribs in baking dish, pour sauce over ribs, and bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes, cover and bake for 40 more minutes.


I can never find the Contadina sweet and sour sauce, so I make due with something else. usually I get the Kikkoman bottle, but I compared the ingredients of that to the ingredients in the La Choy bottle, and I liked the La Choy ingredients a lot better. I don't remember why exactly. I forgot to put the soy sauce in, so I'll throw some of that in when I go back downstairs. For side dishes I'm going to make macaroni and cheese, some kind of vegetable, and corn bread. Yum!