Monday, April 27, 2009

Mu Shu Pork Pockets

I don't really like Rachael Ray. There, I've said it. She's okay and occasionally has a show I'll watch, but I find a lot of her recipes to be weird. And her personality really grates on me if I watch her show. I used to like her, not sure when that all changed. I have quite a few of her cookbooks, but all of them except her first one are in a pile to get rid of because I just never use them and need the space on my cookbook shelf.

That being said, this is one of her recipes that I really, really like. I don't remember when the first time was I made this, but the husband and I love mu shu and this is a great, easy way to make it at home. He's been asking for it for weeks now, but I didn't want to buy the stuff for it because ground pork was never on sale. Finally this week I figured I'd make it regardless because he's been so patiently waiting and I'm such a good wife. ;) No, I really like this, too, so I was glad when he suggested it.

Moo Shu Pork Pockets
1-1/2 pound ground pork
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 gingersnap cookies, ground in food processor
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 egg
1 cup hoisin sauce
6 large (12-inch) flour tortillas

Toppings:
Shred up a pile of your favorite raw vegetables or
2 cups shredded cabbage
Shredded carrots
Fresh bean sprouts
Thinly sliced scallions

Combine the pork and next five ingredients in a bowl. Form mixture into patties. Heat a large, nonstick skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Grill patties approximately five minutes per side.

Heat tortillas on a nonstick surface over high heat for 30 seconds on each side. Paint the tortillas with hoisin sauce, leaving a 1-inch rim from edge. Pile shredded mixed veggies in center of tortilla and top with cooked pork patty. Fold the tortilla up on all four sides and wrap burger in a square package. Invert pork pocket and cut on diagonal.

*****

I'm not sure what all I have for the "toppings" but I think I'll do some green onions, carrots, and maybe some cilantro if I have it. I think we'll have some type of frozen vegetable on the side with this, but I'm not sure what yet. I'm really excited for dinner tonight--according to the blog we haven't had this since July. Dinner can't get here soon enough!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

I really like cooking Sunday dinner in the crockpot. It's so nice to get the whole afternoon with my family instead of them getting to have fun while I'm in the kitchen. The husband always calls his parents on Sunday after church, so while he and the boy were talking to them this morning I got this in the crockpot. And now all I have to do is put on some rice to cook in an hour or so. Fantastic!! In fact, I'm sitting outside in our backyard enjoying this FABULOUS 80 degree day while the boy runs through the sprinkler. This is why I love living in AZ (and I'll try to remember that in a couple months when I'm complaining about how freakin' hot it is).

Anyway, we've had this before but not in a long time. I was looking for something in my freezer and saw some frozen sausage, and I knew I had kidney beans in the pantry, so I added it to the menu for this week. It kept getting pushed back for varoius reasons, but it's worked out great now that we're having it tonight.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
3 cups water
1 cup dried red kidney beans
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 (14-ounce) package turkey, pork, and beef smoked sausage, thinly sliced (such as Healthy Choice)
1 bay leaf
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Combine first 12 ingredients in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid; cook on high heat for 5 hours. Discard bay leaf; stir in salt. Serve over rice; sprinkle servings evenly with green onions.

*****

Instead of the red pepper and black pepper I added in some Cajun seasoning instead. And my sausage wasn't Healthy Choice, it was Hillshire Farm. I'm so excited for this dinner. I went grocery shopping this afternoon, and the house smelled amazing when I walked in from that. I think we'll probably just have a salad with this and call it good.

I had planned on making a really yummy dessert for tonight, too, because blackberries were on sale this week, but the store was all out of them. I'm so bummed! I did get a rain check at least, and I may stop in there tomorrow to see if they have some so I could still get them and have the rain check for later. On a bright note, I finally spent less than $80--I only spent $37! I feel like I must have forgotten some important things because that seems like way too little to have spent.

Get ready for some yummy dinners this coming week--I'm really excited for the menu line-up I have planned!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

We're going to a potluck tonight, and our name puts us into the "bring a side dish" category. It's a going away party for the pastor of our old church--he and his wife are moving to India to do mission work. I wasn't really sure what to take, and then macaroni and cheese popped into my head. This is my mother-in-law's recipe.

Aurelia's Macaroni and Cheese
(these are "unmeasured ingredients", add to your taste)
hot boiled macaroni (8 to 12 ounce bag)
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese (~8oz)
parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)
butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
few tablespoons of milk
salt/pepper

boil macaroni, drain. mix all other ingredients into the hot macaroni. place in 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
(toss in other cheeses as you like. ie american is good)

*****

I always add in two bags of cheese because I find one bag just isn't enough.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Veggie Pesto Pizza

I'm still full from lunch, but the husband and I have decided to have a late dinner and a mini date night at home. I've had a great day. This morning while the boy watched his morning shows I cleaned house, then my mom came over to stay with the kids while I went and got a much needed haircut. The last time I went was while I was pregnant...and the baby is five months old now. Yikes. It was BAD. Then when I got home we went out to lunch then to a Crocs warehouse sale. Now we've had a nice relaxing afternoon with the boy watching "Cars" and me doing not much of anything.

When I told the husband I wasn't hungry and didn't know what to do for dinner he said he was going to run to Walmart later and could pick up a pizza while he was there for us to have. I said I had pesto pizza on the menu for Tuesday dinner, but then I was sick and didn't make it. So we're going to have that after the boy goes to bed. Jen B. made this recently and really liked it, so I got the idea from her blog. I split the pesto sauce I made earlier this week into two bags and froze them, so I'll just pull one of those out to use for the sauce. I'll make my standard pizza crust, Jen A's Quick Homemade Pizza Crust. Now hopefully I'll be hungry by dinner time!

Veggie Pesto Pizza
1/2 of a red onion, sliced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 jar roasted red peppers, sliced; drained and dried with paper towels
2-3 sliced Roma tomatoes
1 bag of pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
olive oil to taste
balsamic vinegar to taste
salt to taste
pine nuts
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated finely

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

After dough has rested, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan dusted with corn meal. Spread evenly with sauce. Cover with cheese and toppings, in an even layer. Drizzle a little more olive oil, salt, and balsamic vinegar on top of pizza toppings. Scatter pine nuts and minced garlic. Bake 15-20 min. Let cool 5 minutes. Grate Pecorino Romano cheese on pizza. Cut and serve!

*****

Mmmmm...this pizza was awesome!! I ended up changing a bit of stuff from above. I didn't use roasted red peppers, instead I sliced up a red pepper and a yellow pepper into rings and used those instead. And I forgot to drizzle the balsamic vinegar on it. Regardless, this was incredibly good--definitely one of my most favorite pizzas. I LOVED the pesto sauce on it, and all the veggies made it super filling. Yum!



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Today is my friend Laura's birthday. Happy Birthday Laura!! Our friend Kelly hosted a lunch pizza party at her house to celebrate. It was so fun--good friends, pizza and watermelon and veggies and breadsticks for lunch. It ended on a low note with the boy having an accident in his underwear (thanks again, Kelly!! You're a SAINT!), but other than that it was quite enjoyable. Anyway, I had signed up to take cupcakes. But when I looked at the Evite yesterday, there were 34 people including kids, so I figured my one box of cake mix wouldn't cover everyone, so I opted for a 9x13 cake instead. I don't like store bought frosting (have you ever looked at the ingredient list on those?! Yuck!!), so I looked up recipes to make my own. I have a chocolate cream cheese frosting that I LOVE, but I didn't have enough powdered sugar for it. Turns out I didn't have enough powdered sugar for any of the frosting recipes I found. So I looked on RecipeZaar.com for one that I could use. I had two cups of powdered sugar, and everything I was finding called for three or more. Finally I found one that got good reviews and used just the amount of sugar I had on hand. It was meant to be.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Recipe #44126
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add sugar and cocoa, mixing well. Stir in milk in portions, stirring each time. Add vanilla. Spread on cooled cake or other items needing frosting.

*****

This. Was. Yummy. Everyone at the party really liked it. It was super easy to mix together and all the ingredients are things I normally have on hand. The original recipe on the website was for 3-3/4 cups frosting, but you can change the amount you need and it automatically recalculates everything for you. How cool is that?! So I played around with amounts until I got one that matched how much powdered sugar I had.

Giada's Orzo Stuffed Peppers

I'm taking dinner to a friend tonight, so I wanted something that wouldn't require a lot of hands-on work since I'm running food over to them once the husband gets home. I had originally slated Red Beans and Rice for dinner tonight since it's in the crockpot and would be put together ahead of time. I ran out of time this morning to get everything ready, and the recipe says it needs five hours on high, and, well, now we'd be eating way too late if I started working on it now. So I'll bump that to another night instead. I had this down for a dinner later in the week. I had extra pepper filling the last time I made this, so all I need to do is take that out of the freezer then stuff the peppers and bake them. Nice. here's the original post:

Giada's Orzo Stuffed Peppers



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Focaccia with Creamy Vegetable Spread

My brother's birthday was a couple weeks ago. He's kind of hard to shop for, so I usually struggle to come up with a cool gift for him. He's a vegetarian and loves sandwiches, so I headed to Amazon.com for some ideas. I found one, Vegetarian Sandwiches: Fresh Fillings for Slices, Pockets, Wraps, and Rolls and then I found another that sounded equally awesome, Great Grilled Cheese: 50 Innovative Recipes for Stove Top, Grill, and Sandwich Maker. A whole book devoted to grilled cheese?! Awesome. I was tempted to order both for myself as well, but instead I looked them up on our library's website, and they had both, so I put them on hold. Let me tell you, though, after checking them out, I'm pretty tempted to buy both of them. At the very least I'm going to renew both books so I can keep them for awhile because there are a lot of yummy things I want to make from them. (Ryan, I hope you liked them as much as I do!)

Tonight is the husband's last Bible Study, so I needed one more dinner that was going to be easy to prepare since he has to be at church at 6:30. This sandwich stuck out because I had most everything for it already, aside from the foccacia bread. I checked the grocery store for it yesterday, but my store didn't have any. Everything they had looked like it would be too much bread for this sandwich, so I went to my trusty recipe souce, RecipeZaar.com, to find a recipe for it that I could make. This will be my first time making foccacia bread, so I hope it turns out. If not, I'll run to Fresh & Easy because I know they have foccacia dough to buy that you just have to roll out and bake. If it didn't require dragging two kids to the store for just one thing, I'd probably do that, but I think it will be easier to just make it myself. The foccacia bread recipe will be first, followed by the sandwich filling.

The Easiest, Bestest Focaccia Bread Ever!!
Recipe #27968

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 dash ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)

Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl. Let proof for 10 minutes (until bubbles begin to form). In large bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, and black pepper. Add the yeast mix and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and combine. When dough has pulled together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm place 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Punch dough down, place on greased baking sheet. Pat dough into 1/2-inch thick rectangle (doesn't have to be perfect). Using your knuckle, make indentations in the dough about 1/2-inch apart, then prick dough with fork. Brush top with olive oil, then sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

© 2009 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved. http://www.recipezaar.com

Focaccia with Creamy Vegetable Spread
Creamy Vegetable Spread
1/2 cup fresh white goat cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 roasted red bell pepper or jarred roasted red peppers, well drained, coarsely chopped
1 Roma tomato, diced (about 1/2 cup)
One 6-1/2 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh basil
Dash of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

One 10-inch round or square plain foccacia, halved horizontally
Freshly ground pepper to taste

To make the spread: Process the three cheeses and the garlic in a food processor until nearly smooth. Toss all the remaining spread ingredients in a small bowl. Stir in the cheese mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Place the bottom of the focaccia on a cutting board; spread the cut side of the bottom with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with pepper. Top with the second focaccia half and press gnetly.

Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Use a serrated knife to slice it into 8 wedges or squares just before serving.

Variation: Add or substitute other vegetables (up to 1-1/2 cups total) to the spread, such as drained and chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or shredded carrots.

*****

I'm pretty excited for a yummy vegetarian dinner. I realized as I was typing this out that I forgot to get tomatoes at the store yesterday. Oops. I think I have some sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge, so I'll substitute those. I like the idea of adding shredded carrots, so I'll probably do that as well, and I bought some zucchini yesterday that I might shred and add too.

I still have some minestrone soup in the freezer that I had planned on serving with these sandwiches, but it's supposed to be 99 here today, and I'm thinking soup doesn't sound very good when it's that hot. I think I'll see if I have ingredients on hand to make a pasta salad or some kind of cool, refreshing side dish like that.

*****

This was a good sandwich. It was nice to be able to get it ready early in the day and just pull them out of the fridge when it was time for dinner. I forgot to take a picture of the actual sandwiches, but I did take a picture of some of the leftover spread.

Oh, my foccacia bread. Yeah...didn't really work out for me. All the reviews I read on RecipeZaar.com were good, so I have to think it was something I did. For one thing, my dough didn't rise AT ALL. I questioned it then but went ahead and baked it. And then when it came out of the oven, I packed up the kids and ran to the store. They ended up having packages of foccacia rolls for the same price as the foccacia dough, so I went the easy route.



By the way, that's one of my Williams Sonoma spoonulas. They are by far one of my most favorite kitchen tools. I have two of them and may get more because I use them constantly, so it happens a lot that they're both dirty in the dishwasher at the same time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pesto

Don't you just love the smell of fresh basil? Oh man...I sure do. And don't you love the texture of parmesan cheese you've grated from a big block of the stuff? I do...it's so soft, I want to make a pillow out of it. If the pillow wouldn't get really smelly and stinky after awhile. And don't you love smashing garlic with the back of a knife? Talk about a good way to get out your aggression! These were the things I was thinking about today when I whipped up a batch of basil. I had planned on actually using the basil for something tonight, but since I still can't really taste anything, I hate to waste another yummy-sounding new recipe when I can't even tell what I'm eating. I didn't want my basil to go bad, so I made the pesto I'll need for the recipe when I can finally make it. This way I can just stick it in the freezer and have it when I need it. Jen B. made pesto last week I think it was, and I was going to use her recipe, but I wanted to find one with a little less oil so it would be a little lower in fat...even though olive oil is a good fat. So, I went to my trusty "need to find a recipe" website, RecipeZaar.com, and found one that sounded easy and had great reviews.

Pesto
Recipe #49909

2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, cooled
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, depending on how creamy you want it

Put first four ingredients into food processor. Pulse to blend. Slowly add oil through feed tube to make a nice paste.

*****

I've decided I need a bigger food processor. I think mine is a seven cup, and it was just barely the right size for this. I'd like one I could do dough in, although I don't have a need for that very often. So probably in reality I'm fine with the food processor I have. I just had to stop every now and then and push everything down towards the blades so all the basil leaves would get chopped up. I'm not sure how much oil I ended up adding, I just streamed it in without measuring. I really don't like to measure things I've decided--so I guess it's good I like cooking more than baking.

Banana Bread

I'm still a bit under the weather, but I'm not quite as run down as I was yesterday. I'm still trying to take it easy. Like both kids are napping right now, so I feel like I should be mopping the kitchen or cleaning the boy's bathroom or putting away the ridiculous piles of laundry I folded this morning, but instead I'm relaxing on the couch playing online. Maybe I'll take the piles of laundry upstairs after I'm done here...that would at least be something.

Anyway, I had two bananas on my counter that desperately needed to be used, so I asked the boy if he wanted to make banana bread. He was beyond excited. He loves helping in the kitchen, so when we got home from grocery shopping (my first time doing it with both kids!) we made some up. I don't think I've ever shared my banana bread recipe, and I figured while I still had the recipe card out, now was as good a time as any. This is my mom's banana bread recipe, and honestly I've never found a recipe I like better.

Banana Bread
2 eggs
2 bananas
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. oil
1-3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. soda
1/2 t. salt

Beat eggs well. Cut banana into 1-inch pieces into bowl with eggs. Mix well. Add sugar and oil. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet mixture. Stir to combine. Pour in greased loaf pan, and bake at 350 for 55 minutes.

*****

Yum. I've already had two pieces from the loaf, although one was really, really thin, so I don't think it counts. Also, I don't sift the dry ingredients. That just means I'd have more dirty dishes to contend with, and I hate dirty dishes. So I just pour everything in and go to town.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sick

I've come down with a nasty cold and have absolutely no sense of smell or taste, so I'm not really motivated to make dinner. Especially since I had a new yummy-sounding risotto recipe I was going to try--don't want to waste that on not being able to taste. So I think the husband is going to pick up some kind of take-out for us on his way home.

The boy is also sick, but he just has a fever and no other symptoms, so we've done nothing today but lay on the couch or in my bed watching TV. I hate him being sick, but he's so cuddly when he is, and I'll take cuddles from him whenever I can get them!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Carnitas

We ended up not having dinner last night because we were still so full from lunch. Well, the boy had chicken nuggets, but the husband and I weren't hungry. We went on a hike in the morning with some friends and then came back to our house and got Mexican take-out for lunch from Carolina's. Lordy mama, was it ever good. Definitely some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. Their tortillas have won awards for being the best in Phoenix. Were they ever!! I wanted to wrap myself up in them. I was glad I had the husband pick up a dozen, although it took a lot of self control on our parts to not chow down on all of them yesterday.

I had planned on trying a new risotto recipe tonight, but I wanted to use the tortillas for something other than just snacking. I recently checked out a make your own take out cookbook from the library, so I checked the Mexican section of that for ideas. I saw a recipe for carnitas and went, "That's it!" The recipe for them in that cookbook sounded weird, so I started Googling. I wanted something I could do in the crockpot, and I found a basic recipe to follow and then decided I'd change it up a bit. I love carnitas, so I'm really excited and hope this turns out well. The recipe below is how I'm doing them.

Crockpot Carnitas
1.5 pounds boneless pork ribs
4 cloves garlic, each cut into four pieces
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 small can diced green chilies
1 bottle beer
Tortillas
Burrito fixings (tomatoes, cheese, olives, onions, lettuce, cilantro, guacamole, sour cream, etc.)

With a knife, cut several small slits into the ribs. Insert pieces of garlic cloves in roast. Place pork in slow cooker. Sprinkle cumin, coriander, and chili powder over pork. Sprinkle cilantro and chilies over pork. Pour beer into crockpot. Cover. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until pork is done. Once pork is cooked through, remove from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Add in some of the cooking liquid. Serve with warm tortillas and burrito fixings of your choice.

*****

I'm totally excited for this, and I'm excited to smell them cooking all day. This will be a great way to use up the remaining tortillas from yesterday's feast. I think I might make some of Jen B's pinto beans to put in the burritos, too. I found a recipe on RecipeZaar.com for carnitas where you cooked beans with the pork, but I don't have any dried pinto beans, and I really wanted to make this today. So I figured I'd make Jen's beans instead. I seriously cannot wait for dinner tonight--I don't know what I'm more excited for, the carnitas or having more of these tortillas!

*****

My review of this is tricky because I woke up with a nasty cold and have no sense of taste. To me they tasted like they could have used some more flavor or spice, but they may have been right on. I think I read somewhere that when using dried spices in the crockpot you should use more because of the long cooking time? Or maybe that was for fresh. Hmmm. Either way, I think jacking up the spices some more would help and maybe adding some fresh cilantro to the shredded meat as well as putting it in the crockpot. I'm always looking for a new way to use boneless ribs, so I'll probably try this again. Jen's pinto beans were really yummy in the burritos with the carnitas.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

BBQ Veggie Joes

We had this last night. I still need to figure out dinner for tonight because what I had planned just isn't sounding good, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet to figure out what to have in, oh, an hour.

I was looking at lentil recipes on RecipeZaar.com and thought this sounded good and easy.

BBQ Veggie Joes Recipe
#77364 by ratherbeswimmin'

1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt and pepper
5 pita breads, cut in half to form pockets (6-inch diameter)
lettuce leaf

Add lentils and water to a saucepan; bring to a boil; lower heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.

Add celery, carrots, onion, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and lentils w/ water into a 4-quart slow-cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10-12 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Just before serving, add vinegar and salt/pepper to taste.

Fill pita pocket with a lettuce leaf and 1/2 cup lentil mixture.

© 2009 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved. http://www.recipezaar.com

*****

This was okay. I didn't have enough ketchup, so I used 1/4 cup ketchup and an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, but I didn't take into account that tomato sauce tastes different than ketchup, so the flavor was a little too tomato, the husband said it smelled like tomato soup. I don't know if I'll bother trying it again. It made a ton, and since we weren't totally wild about it, I don't know if we'll want to have it again after we get through all the leftovers. Oh, and we had them on hamburger buns...I don't do well with pitas.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chili Cornbread Casserole

I feel like I'm always trying to use up things I have on hand--which must mean I either have entirely too much stuff on hand at any given moment in time or I keep buying stuff even though I don't mean to. And it seems that no matter what I do, whether I'm buying a lot or a little, my grocery shopping trips last an hour, and I spend $80. I need to evaluate my grocery receipt and see what all I got and what could have been reduced. I use coupons when I can--and match them with sales for the maximum savings--but I don't buy that many processed foods or foods for which there are coupons. If any one has any tips on really frugal healthy eating, please let me know!

Anyway, I did have everything on hand for this, which is why it got put on the menu plan for this week. We hadn't had it in a long time, and the cans of chili had been sitting in my pantry for awhile, so I was glad to use them up and clear up some space. We've had it before and liked it, including the boy. It's super cheap to make, fast to put together and bake, and tasty. What a great combination!

Chili Cornbread Casserole
2 cans chili w/beans
Cheese (shredded or sliced)
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 c. milk

Spread chili in a greased 8x11 dish. Top with cheese. Stir milk and egg into cornbread mix and spread on top. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until cornbread is done.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pasta with Creamy Tomato and Goat Cheese Sauce

I'm really grumpy. I think still waking up multiple times a night to feed the baby are catching up with me. I figure the last time I had a decent night's sleep had to have been back when I was seven or eight months pregnant, so that means I'm going on six or seven months of poor sleep. It's definitely starting to get to me. So, I've been grumpy lately. I'm also tired of having all this post baby weight which makes me grumpy, and my allergies have been killing me today, so that's another reason to be grumpy. Not a fun day at our house, in case you couldn't tell.

anyway, I'm making an easy dinner tonight because I'm not in the mood for anythiing complicated. Plus I had this planned out for tonight anyway. Maybe--just maybe--the baby will sleep decently tonight or at least only get up once so I can be well rested tomorrow and return to being my normal, jovial self. Okay, maybe jovial is an over-statement, but I don't want to be grumpy and tired anymore!

Pasta with Creamy Tomato and Goat Cheese Sauce
1 16-ounce box farfalle or rotini pasta
2 cups favorite prepared pasta sauce
1 4-ounce log goat cheese, cut into four pieces

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a serving dish. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the pasta sauce for 5-10 minutes or until lightly bubbling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Add the goat cheese to the pasta sauce and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the hot sauce over the pasta; toss to coat.

*****

Normally I use my own sauce, but the husband opened a jar of sauce from the pantry to make a quick pizza for the boy the other day, so I'm going to use that up. I think it's Classico brand Carbernet Marinara or something like that. I'm going to heat up some broccoli to go with this and some bread.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crab Quesadillas

A few weeks ago, a recipe I used to make all the time popped into my head. I think the last time I made it was before the boy was born. I had a coupon for imitation crab, and it was on sale, so I figured I'd get it and make these. They're so easy, and they're really tasty. I don't know how I forgot about them--we used to have them pretty often, and we really like them. They're another Cooking Light recipe.

Crab Quesadillas
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
3/4 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients, stirring well. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over each tortilla. Divide crab mixture evenly among tortillas. Fold in half, pressing gently to seal.

Place the filled tortillas on a baking sheet. Broil for 1 minute or until the tortilla is lightly browned.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 quesadilla)

CALORIES 275 (28% from fat); FAT 8.6g (sat 3.7g,mono 3.2g,poly 0.9g); IRON 2.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 58mg; CALCIUM 187mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30g; SODIUM 484mg; PROTEIN 18.5g; FIBER 2g

Cooking Light, APRIL 2004

*****

I didn't have green onions, but I didn't really miss them in the filling. And, like I said, I used imitation crab instead of real. Obviously it's not quite as good, but it does the job. Of course I used more cheese than was called for as well. I know when I used to make these I did them differently than the broiler, but I couldn't remember how. I may have just done them in a skillet, but this time I used the broiler. I watched them carefully so they wouldn't burn and then once they were browned, I took them out and flipped them over so the cheese would completely melt. I know the recipe says four servings, but the husband and I each had two, so I would say it's really two servings unless you have a lot of filling sides with it. I was going to make some pinto beans to go on the side, but I didn't have pinto beans in the pantry. Oops. I have two more bags of imitation crab in the freezer, so we'll probably have this again sometime in the future.

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies

We have turned a potty training corner!!! I kept telling the boy that if he pooped on the potty we could make cookies as a reward. Wednesday night he did it!! Of course, it was right before bedtime so I told him that Thursday morning we'd make cookies. I wanted to make something somewhat healthy, so I looked on the Cooking Light website. I gave the boy a couple options and he chose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (we left out the pecans).

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside.

Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and minichips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Yield: 3 dozen (serving size: 1 cookie)

CALORIES 81 (33% from fat); FAT 3g (sat 1.4g,mono 1g,poly 0.3g); IRON 0.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 12mg; CARBOHYDRATE 12.9g; SODIUM 76mg; PROTEIN 1.1g; FIBER 0.5g

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2007

*****

I was not impressed with these. The dough was really dry and crumbly, so they didn't hold together when I put them on the cookie sheet. The cookies came out really hard, too. I didn't even finish making all of them. They were okay right when they came out of the oven but after sitting for awhile they weren't very good. The boy liked them well enough, so at least he felt rewarded. These aren't cookies I would make again.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Verde Pork Enchiladas

One of the blogs I follow, Gumbo Ya Ya, had a really good sounding recipe posted recently for Pork Chili Verde. You might remember me mentioning last week a recipe I had planned to make but was missing a main ingredient...that was this. That day as I was thinking about this recipe I thought, "Why couldn't you do it in the crockpot?" So I decide to change it up a bit and do it that way. Because I live on the edge like that and am such a non-conformist. Yeah right. I used most of the same ingredients called for in the original recipe, just changed up the method a bit.

Verde Pork Enchiladas
1 1-lb pork loin roast
1 28 ounce can green enchilada sauce
1 small can diced green chilies
whole wheat enchiladas
shredded Mexican blend cheese

Place pork roast in slow cooker and pour green chilies and enchilada sauce over roast. Cover crockpot, cook on high three hours or until pork roast is cooked through. Remove roast and shred meat with two forks. Mix in a few ladels of sauce from the crockpot.

Coat an 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray. Cover bottom of dish with some of the sauce from the crockpot. Spoon some pork down the middle of a tortilla, top with cheddar cheese, and roll the enchilada. Place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat until all the pork is gone. Pour sauce over the enchiladas (however much you want) and then cover with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 for 25 minutes.

*****

I ended up having enough pork to make seven enchiladas which fit perfectly in my dish. You could, of course, use a bigger pork roast and fill a 9x13 pan with the enchiladas, I just happened to have a one pound roast in the freezer.

This was SUPER TASTY. We all really liked it. It was so easy to do the meat in the slow cooker, too, although next time I'd probably put some seasoning on the meat first to give it a little oomph--maybe some onion powder, garlic powder, and maybe a little chipotle chili powder for some added spice and heat. This is something I will definitely make again. I put the roast in my crockpot in the morning and then assembled the enchiladas during naptime and stuck the pan in the fridge. it made dinner super easy!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Dinner Plans

I think I'm going to rework my menu plan for the week and do things that I can either get ready during naptime and then throw in the oven when I need them or dinners in the crockpot. It's too hard trying to take the boy to the potty while trying to get dinner ready. So far tonight I left olive oil on the stove for too long, then left my frittata sitting half assembled for 10 minutes while I sat in the bathroom with him. Normally once the husband is home he could help with the potty duties, but he burned his hand on the lawn mower. Ugh. So, in order to avoid this chaos every night (and last night at dinner time was chaotic, too), I'm going to replan dinners. Not that anyone would have known I was doing that, I just felt the need to share.

Vegetarian Frittata

Once again I've found myself in the position of needing to use up Egg Beaters from Costco before they go bad. I've done better this time than a lot of other times I've bought them, so that's good. And it means we get to have Frittata!! According to the ol' blog here, I haven't made this since July! Good golly, is it possible it's been that long?! I'm excited for it--it's a healthy, light dinner that we always enjoy. I think I'm going to make some hash browns to go with it, and I have a container of Grands biscuits in the fridge that need to be used. I might make a fruit salad to go with it, or we have regular lettuce salad, too.

It's time for another trip to the potty for the boy, so here's the link to the previous post of this:

Vegetarian Frittata

I don't think I'm changing up much, although I may use feta instead of the parmesan cheese because I also bought feta at Costco, plus I think it would lend an interesting flavor to this. Yum...I'm excited for dinner!

Hushpuppies

I was reminded on our recent vacation how much I love hushpuppies. I hadn't had them in quite some time, and when we got seafood take-out one night, our dinners all came with them. Yum!! Lukcily the boy didn't like them, so the husband and I got to eat his. They were quite tasty. When we got home from our trip I was looking through the Charleston Junior League Cookbook, Charleston Receipts, I bought while on the trip and found a hushpuppy recipe. I had already decided we'd have the Catfish, so I thought these would go great with them.

Hushpuppies
2 cups corn meal
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp chopped onion
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
Red pepper, to taste

Mix all dry ingredients, add chopped onion; then milk and egg, beaten together. Drop by small spoonfuls into boiling deep fat. They will float when done. Drain on brown paper. Serves 8.

*****

Okay, I missed the part about floating when done, so it's no wonder mine were a little overcooked. The husband said that they were a bit too crispy on the outside but otherwise they were good. I cut the recipe in half after reading it made eight servings, and it still made a ton. I'll definitely make them again when we feel like indulging in fried food (which doesn't happen very often), but I'll be sure to watch how long they cook for.

Tom Douglas' Tartar Sauce

I had wanted a Tom Douglas cookbook for awhile now and kept asking for one for holidays but never got one. I happened to be at Sur La Table a few weeks ago and was looking in their clearance section and saw the one I wanted there, Tom's Big Dinners. Needless to say, it jumped into my basket! I had only flipped through it until Saturday afternoon where I sat down on the couch and read each recipe and looked at all the pictures. There's so much goodness in this cookbook, it's ridiculous. I can't wait to try more of the recipes. There's an Asian Feast menu I'm dying to try. I'll have to work that in once potty training is totally complete.

Tom Douglas' Tartar Sauce
Tom's Big Dinners, Copyright 2003
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp chopped capers
3 Tbsp finely chopped cornichons or dill pickles
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp finely chopped red onion
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce or to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*****

This. Was. Awesome. I will never buy tartar sauce again. I told the husband at dinner that I could just eat it with a spoon. I made it up a few hours before dinner so it would have time to sit and the flavors would combine. Most of the ingredients are things I always have on hand which will make it easy to whip up. Plus I never use an entire bottle of tartar sauce when I buy it before it goes bad, so this is an easy way to make however much I need.

In the cookbook, the tartar sauce is listed with a recipe for Fried Jarlsberg Cheese. Sounds yummy, so I'll have to try that as well. Oh, Tom, how I heart thee.

Catfish Sandwiches

I'll come out with it. Potty training is kicking my ass. Actually today seems to be going better, but the past few days have been horrible. It's so frustrating because the boy will sit on the potty and go a little but then 10 minutes later he has an accident and pees all over the place. Sigh. But, so far today there's only been one accident and it was early this morning. I'm resorting to major bribery, so hopefully that gets the job done.

Anyway, I never had a chance to post yesterday what with all the trips to the potty. I was pretty excited for our dinner, and it turned out well. Mostly well anyway. We had catfish sandwiches with homemade tartar sauce, hushpuppies, and coleslaw. I had originally planned on making catfish po'boys, but after looking through a Tom Douglas cookbook, I saw a recipe for homemade tartar sauce and decided to just do fish sandwiches so I could make the tartar sauce. I love Tom Douglas...if you're ever in Seattle you MUST go to one of his restaurants. I'm hoping to cross another one off the list the next time we're up there. There were a ton of good recipes in the cookbook I got, so I'm excited to make more from it, although I will admit that it made me really homesick for Seattle.

Catfish Sandwiches
1 lb. catfish nuggets
2 Tbsp milk
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
Oil for frying
French rolls

Combine milk and catfish in a bowl, tossing gently to coat. Remove fish from bowl; shake off excess milk. Combine cornmeal, flour, and Cajun seasoning in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag. Seal and shake to coat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes on French rolls.

*****

I did the catfish the same way as if I was making the po'boys but just changed the sandwich toppings. These were super good. I think I like them better this way than the regular Catfish Po'Boys I make. Or I like the toppings I used better anyway. The tartar sauce recipe is coming next!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pizza

The husband and I are going to have a mini date night tonight after the boy goes to bed. We had planned on grilling pizzas, but it's insanely windy here today, so I think we'll just bake them instead. I heard something strange on my patio and looked out to see my grill move at least three feet across the patio on its own--well, helped by the wind. Yikes. So I think we'll have two pizzas. I'll link to the recipes below because they're ones I've made before:

Quick Homemade Pizza Crust

Mushroom Prosciutto Pizza

The second pizza we have had before, but I didn't have a real post on it. I'm going to do artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and feta. I may caramelize some onions, too.

I'm excited to have a mini date night and get some alone time with the husband.

Oh, and in case you were wondering (which you probably weren't, but I'll update you anyway), the potty training is going pretty well. The boy had one accident yesterday and one this morning, but that's been it. I'm so proud of him!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Garlic Ciabbata Bread

We had to stop at Fresh & Easy on our way home from MOPS this morning for a couple things, and I saw a loaf of ciabbata bread that had been marked down to $1.47. I figured I'd get it and make some kind of garlic bread with it to go with the spaghetti tonight. Then on our way home I thought I remembered a Barefoot Contessa recipe for garlic bread using a ciabbata loaf. I pulled out the cookbook I thought it was in, but no luck. Then I pulled out a second...no luck. A third...no luck. Finally it was in the last of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. I knew I had seen one! I'm excited to try it because Ina has never led me astray!

Garlic Bread
Copyright, 2006, Ina Garten
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 loaf ciabatta bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced. Add the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse twice.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan and add the garlic mixture. Remove the pan from the heat.

Slice the ciabatta bread in half horizontally, and spread the butter on 1 half. Spread the garlic mixture on the other half of the bread, and put the halves together. Wrap the bread in aluminum foil.

Place the bread in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Open the foil, and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes.

*****

I cannot wait to smell this baking in my oven. I don't have any of the fresh herbs for it, but I'm just going to used dried instead. Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about this. Oh, and it was in the Back to Basics cookbook (and on the Food Network website).

*****

Wow. This was awesome garlic bread. The husband said he thought it was the best garlic bread he's ever had. I think it would even be better with fresh herbs, so I'll have to try it that way next time. I had a piece of cold garlic bread this morning, and it was tasty cold, too. This is a definite keeper!! Ina's streak continues!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

So today beings a new era in the life of my little boy--using the potty instead of wearing diapers. Once he gets up from his nap it's hello underwear, goodbye diapers. I have to admit I'm kind of sad because it means he's growing up, but I won't miss having to change two kids' diapers. And the few times he's worn big boy underwear, his little butt just looks so cute running around in them. Seriously, it should be illegal to be that cute. Since the rest of my day will most likely be consumed with trips to the potty (and I'm guessing multiple changes of underwear...for him, not me), I wanted something easy for dinner. I was going to do something in the crockpot, but the husband may have to work late, so I changed my mind and am doing something easy that he can eat if he gets home late. I stocked up recently on ingredients for spaghetti sauce, so I'm going to make some of that. I also seem to have a ton of ground beef, so I figured I'd make meat sauce for it. I'm going to use my go-to spaghetti sauce recipe and just brown some ground beef to add to it.

Brooke's Breakfast Casserole

My bestest friend Brooke sent me this recipe for a breakfast casserole over the weekend. The timing was pretty impressive because I had to take food for my MOPS meeting this morning. I was going to do a different casserole, but she said she and her husband LOVED this one, so I figured I'd give it a try. And I had everything on hand for it except hashbrowns--and you know I LOVE when that happens! She found it on a blog she visits to find coupon deals in Boise, but since she sent it to me, I'm dubbing it Brooke's Breakfast Casserole.

Brooke's Breakfast Casserole
1 package Grands biscuits
4-5 cups frozen hashbrowns, thawed
1 package bacon (1 lb?), cooked and chopped
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
8 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Spread 6 biscuits in the bottom of a 9x13 pan to cover the bottom. Sprinkle hashbrowns over the biscuits. Season with salt and pepper (I used Lawry's Seasoned Salt). Place pan in oven for 10 minutes. Remove pan and top hashbrowns with chopped bacon. Spread cheese over bacon. Beat eggs and pour over top. Bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes or until eggs are set in the center.

*****

This was really yummy! I had planned to take a picture of it once it came out of the oven, but we had to be getting out the door, so that didn't happen. There was none left to bring home, so I'll just have to make it again sometime so I can get a picture of it. :) It was really tasty, although I think I used too many hashbrowns. I didn't measure them out, just threw some handfuls into the pan. I might increase the number of eggs, too. I had to use mozzarella cheese because I was out of cheddar (okay, I had a block of it but didn't want to have to shred it), but I don't think it made a big difference. Oh, and I cut up the bacon using my kitchen shears before I cooked it. I prefer to do that over cooking it and then cutting it. Bacon is so doggone tasty. It was a good thing I didn't give myself a lot of time between when the bacon was done and I needed to put it in the casserole because I could have easily eaten all of it.

Italian Seasoned Fries

These are the fries we had with the Italian Beef sandwiches last night. They were from one of my Southern Living cookbooks. They sounded pretty easy, and I had everything on hand for them. Double bonus!

Italian Seasoned Fries
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter/margarine
1 28-ounce package frozen steak fries
3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt

Combine eggs and oil in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Add frozen fries; seal bag and toss. Combine breadcrumbs and cheese; add to fries; toss well. Place coated fries in a single layer on a lightly greased large baking sheet or jelly roll pan; sprinkle with salt. Bake, uncovered, at 450 for 22 minutes or until browned and crisp. Yield: 8 servings.

*****

Again, I forgot to take a picture of them. Oops. These were okay. My fries weren't all that coated, so I think I'd either double the amount for the seasonings or cut the amount of fries in half. Probably the latter because the whole bag of fries made a lot. I'm actually not sure why I went ahead and cooked the whole bag--I don't normally cook the whole bag when we have fries as a side dish. Overall they weren't great, but they weren't bad.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Slow Cooker Italian Sandwich Beef

It's almost bedtime, but I wanted to get my post in before I go to sleep. It will be so nice when I adjust back to my normal time zone! Of course, if the baby would sleep longer than three hours at a time during the night I might be a bit more well rested. Sigh. The boy was sleeping through the night by this point, so it's a bit annoying. I'm sad I don't remember what a full night of sleep feels like. Double sigh.

Anyway, I've had this on the menu plan for the past few weeks, but it keeps getting pushed back for whatever reason. But, I decided tonight was the night. Mostly because I needed to use the roast I had, but also because I wanted to use the amazing, wonderful, fantastic, generous, superb birthday gift my mom got for me--the All-Clad slow cooker. I know, I know...my mom is the best! Want to see what it looks like? This is from the Williams Sonoma website.



Beautiful, isn't it? I'm in slow cooker heaven!!

My friend Jen B. made this a couple months ago, and I thought it had looked tasty and easy, plus it would use up one of my many cans of beef broth. And it would get rid of the roast that had been in my freezer for way too long (the downside of not doing freezer inventory more often).

Slow Cooker Italian Sandwich Beef
Makes 16 servings; from Margaret Metz

Ingredients:
1 (3 to 4 pound) rolled and tied beef rump roast
1 (10 ounce) jar pepperoncini peppers
1 (12 ounce) can of beer
1 (14 ounce) can of beef broth

Serve with hoagie rolls

Directions:
Put the beef roast in the slow cooker. Add the pepperoncini peppers with liquid, beer, and beef broth to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve the meat piled high on hoagie rolls. Spoon juice over top or serve on the side in small cups for dipping. Cut the sandwiches in half to serve.

*****

Since we already had dinner I'll cut right to the chase. This was tasty. I had a 16 ounce jar of pepperoncinis, but I don't think it made a lot of difference. I took the roast out and shredded the meat, then added in some of the juice. I also put a few of the pepperoncinis on each of our sandwiches to spice it up a bit. We really liked it; the boy just had the meat, and he ate every bite on his plate without being forced--amazing! That doesn't happen very often.

I made some fancy fries to go along with it, but I'll have to post that recipe tomorrow because I'm tired. Tomorrow begins day one of potty training the boy at our house, so I'm sure I'll be even more worn out tomorrow night. We aren't starting until after naptime because we have a commitment in the morning, so hopefully I can update the ol' blog during naptime.