Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tuna Cakes with Dill Tartar Sauce

Two cans of tuna were on my list of ingredients I had to work with this week without going to the grocery store, and I found this recipe on a Weight Watchers recipe website I turn to fairly often when I'm doing WW. I had everything on hand, so it sounded like a great addition to the meal plan.

Tuna Cakes with Dill Tartar Sauce

Tuna Cakes With Dill Tartar Sauce
4 Points per Serving

Vegetable cooking spray
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons light process cream cheese product, softened
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
dash ground red pepper
1/3 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried whole dillweed
1 9-1/4-ounce can 60%-less salt tuna in water, drained
1 egg white

Dill Tartar Sauce (see recipe)

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add celery and onion; saute until tender. Remove from skillet, and place in a medium bowl. Add cream cheese and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Add breadcrumbs and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 2-1/2-inch cake.

Coat skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add 4 cakes, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove cakes from skillet; set aside, and keep warm. Repeat proceudre with remaining cakes. Serve with Dill Tartar Sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 cakes and 1 tablespoon sauce).

Dill Tartar Sauce
1 Point per serving

2 tablespoons reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon peeled, finely chopped cucumber
1 teaspoon dried whole dillweed
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients; stir well.


I was really intrigued with this and thought it might go over well with the boy because he really likes tuna salad. So how did it turn out? It didn't. We ended up going with my universal dinner back-up plan of Little Ceasar's pizza. Everything mixed up fine, but the darn cakes would not stay together when I went to flip them. I don't know if they needed more breadcrumbs or egg or what, but out of the eight patties, only three held together. I had one the next day for lunch on a sandwich roll, and as a sandwich it was decent, but I don't think this is one I'll be trying again.

Jen's Butternut Squash Soup

I've never been much of a squash fan, but I'm trying to branch out and embrace the squash. Last fall my friend Jen B. forced me to try making butternut squash soup. I was hesitant to say the least, given my dislike of all things squash (which may very well stem from my mom sneaking zucchini into everything when I was growing up), but I went ahead and tried it. The result? I LOVED it!! It was tasty and creamy and yummy and tasted like fall. I couldn't wait for fall this year to start making it again. I almost bought a butternut squash a couple weeks ago at the regular grocery store but decided to hold off because I wasn't going to be able to make the soup before we went out of town. Man alive, was I glad I waited because Trader Joe's had them for $1.49 each. EACH!!!!!!!!!!! Do you know what an awesome deal that is?! Everywhere else I'd seen them they were $0.99 per pound, and some of those can be big suckers! I only bought one at the time and kind of kicked myself when I got home for not getting more. I went back this week and got four--although two were for my friend Jen A..

This soup is so, so, so easy to make and equally tasty! Jen's original recipe called for two squash, but when I first made it I cut it in half in case I didn't like it. I cut it in half this time as well because I knew I'd be the only one in my house eating it. So, if you want the full recipe check out the link, but I'm going to post the half version.

Jen's Butternut Squash Soup

1 whole butternut squash
olive oil
garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter (not margarine)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Dash ground cayenne pepper
1/2 package cream cheese

Roast Butternut Squash on a cookie sheet as follows: First, season with olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Then, roast halved squash face down for 25 minutes and then face up for 25 minutes @ 375 degrees for a total of 50 minutes roasting time. When cool enough to handle, peel squash, and cut into chunks.

In a large saucepan, saute onions in margarine until tender. Add squash, chicken stock, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil; add cream cheese.

Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.


I've been eating this for my lunch this past week, but I'll probably freeze some to have on hand for later. I ended up adding in more chicken broth because it was REALLY thick after I blended it. Actually I used my immersion blender right in the saucepan. When I've reheated it in the microwave it's come out really thick, too, so I don't know if I should have added even more chicken broth or just added some in each time I've reheated it.

Go to Trader Joe's (if you have one near you), get a butternut squash, and make this right now!! Today! Hurry!

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

I have some massive blog updating to do! I was really trying this week to get back into a normal groove and get my house back in order after all the traveling we've been doing, but in doing that my blog fell to the wayside.

As I said in my last post, my challenge this week was to make dinners using only ingredients I had on hand. I cheated only a little and had to buy some chicken broth and brown rice, but that was it. I was excited to realize I had everything on hand for this recipe because it's one we really like, but for some reason I don't make it very often. I definitely need to add it to the rotation more often!

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

I had some andouille sausage in the freezer that needed to be used up, so I cooked that in a skillet to render off some of the fat, then I sliced it and threw it in the slow cooker. The husband and I always enjoy this when we have it for dinner, the boy ate it okay, but I was SHOCKED that the baby shoveled it down! He ate about as much as I did! He's going to be my spicy food kid for sure, even though it wasn't that spicy, but I have to imagine for a baby it was.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blog Change-Up

I think I'm going to change my blog format a bit. I'm so bad about coming back and uploading pictures of what I made and reviewing, so instead I'm going to post the next day instead of the day of. Does that make sense? I don't know. Like last night we had Portobello Mushroom Burgers, so instead of posting it yesterday and then last night or today adding a picture and review I would just do the whole thing today. Theoretically anyway, as I didn't take pictures last night, and it's something I've made before. So, that's my new plan.

Sorry for my lack of posting lately. I've felt completely overwhelmed constantly, so my blog has fallen pretty low on the priority list. I blame it on my insane travel schedule as of late. Since August we've been on five trips. Yikes. I couldn't put my finger on why I felt so behind constantly with everything, until I realized how little we've been home. But now we don't have any more trips for awhile, so I'm hoping things will fall back into our normal routine. It's kind of funny because I've noticed a lot of the blogs I follow haven't been posting as often lately either, so it must be something going around.

I'm challenging myself this coming week to plan meals using only items I have on hand. I have four out of five dinners planned for the coming week (we have plans next Saturday and Sunday that don't require me to cook) and lunches figured out, so I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Balsamic Chicken Drumsticks

first let me say that one of the shift keys on my computer isn't working, so I'm having a hard time capitalizing some letters. i was recently looking through my freezer and saw some chicken drumsticks that I had forgotten were out there. I got really excited when I remembered this recipe. We had only had it once before, but I liked it. Plus this time I can correct the mistakes I made last time!

(By the way, this will be my last post for awhile. The husband's birthday is Friday, so tomorrow night we're getting pizza for dinner, and then he and I are heading out for a weekend SANS KIDS!!!!!! You have no idea how excited I am!! Or if you have kids, maybe you do have an idea...)

Balsamic Chicken Drumsticks

I wanted to have some kind of couscous side with it, but wasn't sure what to do. I didn't see anything on that looked especially good, so I checked and found something that sounded good. I'll just link to it:

Company Couscous

I don't have red peppers but I do have green, so I figure I'll just substitute that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Barefoot Contessa's Cheddar Corn Chowder

I forgot last week when planning out my menu that it was a Barefoot Bloggers recipe week! Oops! So I decided I'd make it this week to have for lunches. It's still not soup weather here in AZ (really it's only soup weather for maybe a week or two out of the whole year), but it's cooler so I figured it would work. Plus I love a good soup! This recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, but it's also available on the Food Network website. Jill from My Next Life chose this recipe for us to try.

Cheddar Corn Chowder
Copyright, 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved

8 ounces bacon, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.


I read the ingredient list and thought, "Wow, that makes A LOT of soup!" Then I realized it said 10-12 servings. I'm really the only person in my house that eats soup, so that was going to be way too much. I decided to cut it in half. I also figured there were a few things I could do to make it slightly healthier. I figured since the bacon would render a lot of fat, and the recipe called for butter I could easily cut down on the olive oil. I used maybe two teaspoons, but it was probably closer to just one. I also used fat free half and half. I wasn't about to skimp on the cheese because I heart cheese. :)


I sat down to have a nice bowl of this soup for my lunch once both kids were down for their naps. I was a bit leery of it because the picture in the cookbook didn't really look like a chowder to me, it looked more broth-y. Mine ended up looking like chowder, but I definitely had my reservations while it was cooking until it had that creamy chowder look to it. I'd read another Barefoot Bloggers review of this recipe, and she thought it was under-seasoned as it's written in the recipe and had added in Old Bay. I was ready to add some in if it needed it, but I really liked the flavor of it without adding anything additional. I had one bite that had the perfect amount of cheese flavor, a bacon piece, potato, and corn in was fantastic!! The other bites were good but that one especially was great.

This was pretty easy to put together, and really tasty. I used frozen corn for mine and thought it was fine. Plus it's much easier to pour some frozen corn into the soup pot than having to cut the kernels off cobs.

I will definitely make this again at some point! Oh, and I put the recipe into the Recipe Calculator on the Weight Watchers website, and it came out to seven Points per serving, which I thought was pretty decent, considering chowders can be pretty decadent soups.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Honey Walnut Shrimp

One of the things I miss about living in Seattle is the really good Asian food you can get there. There are a couple Chinese restaurants in Phoenix I like, but I have yet to find anything that compares to Seattle Chinese restaurants. I've lived here 10 years--trust me, I've checked! I think I've found my most favorite Chinese restaurant up there, Lee's Asian Restaurant in West Seattle. It's so deliciously yummy and tasty!! I've eaten there the last two times I've been in Seattle, and it's like heaven on a plate. When we were up there a month ago I think I had thirds when we got take-out from there for dinner one night. And then ate leftovers for breakfast the next day. Oh man...I dream about good Chinese food!

One of the menu items we've gotten each time from Lee's is honey walnut shrimp. My brother is a pescetarian (vegetarian who eats fish, for those of you not "in the know"), so we get a few shrimp dishes so he can eat with us. The first time I tasted this I was amazed--it was so good! I was kind of surprised because I thought the sauce tasted like it had mayonnaise in it. I did some Googling after dinner for recipes and found out that the sauce does indeed have mayo in it! Crazy!

I had something else entirely planned for dinner tonight, but upon reviewing the recipe I realized that we don't have any cheese. We always have cheese, so I have no idea how this happened. I knew I had some shrimp in the freezer that needed to be used, so I looked up recipes for Honey Walnut Shrimp and was delighted to see I have everything on hand for it. Well, except walnuts, but I'm thinking of either skipping that or using pecans instead. I found this recipe on

Honey Walnut Shrimp Recipe #31581

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups oil
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 egg whites
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar
1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
1/2 head shredded cabbage

Boil walnuts in 5 cups water for 10 minutes; drain. Place walnuts and 1/2 cup sugar into 2 pints of boiling water. Boil for another 10 minutes. Remove walnuts from water and coat with honey.

Heat 2 cups oil until almost smoking, then fry walnuts until they are shiny and brown, about 5-8 minutes. Remove and place on cookie sheet to cool.

Mix cornstarch and egg whites together to form a thick, sticky mixture. Mix shrimp into this mixture and set aside.

Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice and condensed milk in a medium bowl until smooth.
Heat 1/2 cup oil and deep fry shrimp until golden. (Put only a few in at a time or they will stick together).

Drain shrimp and then fold into mayonnaise sauce.

Serve over the cabbage the sauce is great with it.


I'm skipping the cabbage because I don't have any, and I don't think it's really needed. I'm still not sure what to do about the nuts. I'll think on it while I'm getting everything ready. I'm going to make some WW fried rice to go with this, and we have some Trader Joe's egg rolls in the freezer. I'm really excited for this dinner!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rick Bayless Grilled Roadside Whole Chicken

I had something else planned for dinner tonight, but I realized we'd be eating dinner around the boys' bedtime if I went with it. We have somewhere to go at 3:30, and I'm guessing we won't be home until 5:00-ish. The cooking time on the other whole chicken recipe I was going to make was 65 minutes, and I figured it would be 15-20 prep time. So I needed a new plan. I figured I'd check my friend Jen B's blog for ideas. As I was waiting for her blog to load I thought of this method of grilling chicken, which made me think of this recipe. She made it one time when we went over for dinner, and it was super yummy. Plus you can't go wrong with a Rick Bayless recipe!

Rick Bayless Grilled Roadside Whole Chicken

For the marinade:
1-1/2 tablespoons ground Ancho chile powder
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
A big pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
3 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider vinegar gives a Mexican flavor)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp salt

1 large (3 lb) chicken (sometimes called a large frying chicken, or a small roasting chicken)
About 1 cup roasted Tomatillo Salsa, for serving

In a small bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients.
Heat one side of a gas grill to medium. If you have a grill with three burners, heat the outer two to medium, leaving the center one off. Or light a charcoal fire and let it burn until the charcoal is covered with white ash and about medium-hot; bank half the coals to one side of the grill, half to the other.

While the grill is heating, remove the giblets (if there are any) from the cavity of the chicken. Flip the chicken onto its breast. Using poultry shears, cut down both sides of the backbone from tail to neck; discard backbone. Or, if you don't have shears, lay the bird on its back, insert a long heavy knife into the body cavity and press down hard with a rocking motion to cut down through both sides of the backbone. Open the bird out onto your work surface, breast side up. Make sure that the legs are turned inward. Using your fist or a mallet, wallop the bird on the breast, hard enough to dislodge the center bones and flatten out the breast. Twist the last joint of the wings up over the breast and then down behind the "shoulders," tucking them in firmly to keep them in place during grilling.

Smear both sides of the chicken with the marinade. Lay in the center of the grill (it will not be over direct heat). Cook, without turning, basting from time to time with any remaining marinade, until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced deeply with a fork (an instant-read thermometer should register about 160 degrees when inserted at the thickest part of the thigh), about 45 minutes. If you're cooking over charcoal, you'll want to add more charcoal to the fire after an hour or so - the internal temperature of the grill should stay at about 325 degrees. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. It will lose less juice if you cover it loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the chicken into quarters (or smaller pieces). Transfer a portion to each of four dinner plates and you're ready to serve. Pass the salsa separately.


The only thing I'm missing is orange juice. I can't decide if I'll use something else in its place or maybe stop somewhere real fast on our way home from our friend's house. I'm not entirely sure what we'll have for a side. I was going to make orzo with the other chicken recipe, but I don't think that would work as well with this. I might do skillet roasted potatoes, and I promised the boy we could have peas with dinner tonight. This should be a yummy dinner, and we should be able to eat right on time (assuming I don't lollygag at our friend's house!).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vegetarian Tamale Pie

We haven't had this dinner in quite some time. It's filling, economical, and it was really good when I made it before! The recipe originally came off the back of a package of shredded cheese, but I modified it slightly. My friend Jen B. makes a tamale pie that's really good, so I combined some aspects of her recipe with this one. When I first posted this recipe I wrote it as it was on the cheese package, but I'm going to redo it here with the changes I made last time.

Vegetarian Tamale Pie

Vegetarian Tamale Casserole
1 can (8-3/4 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15-1/4 oz) red kidney beans, drain half the liquid
1 can (8-3/4 oz) garbanzo, pinto, or black beans, drained
1-2 chipotle peppers, chopped
2 tsp. adobo sauce (from canned chipotle peppers)
1 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup green onions with tops, sliced
2 packages (8-1/2 oz) cornbread mix

In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients but cornbread. Pour into a greased or sprayed 2-quart baking dish or casserole. Make cornbread according to pacakge directions. Pour over top and spread evenly. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden.


We all really liked this the last time I made it, so I'm hoping we have a nice, easy dinner tonight. I'm not sure what we'll have with it--salad and some kind of vegetable I think.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

So, did you miss me while I was gone? I realized that I forgot to post before we left. The kids and I just spent a week in Orlando with my mom and aunt, celebrating my mom's 60th birthday! We had a great time--spent two days a Sea World and one day at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We went to St. Augustine for a day and met up with my friend Nanci who I hadn't seen in a really, really long time. Her daughter is a year younger than my oldest, and they totally hit it off! They were adorable together, and he was so sad when it was time for them to head back to Jacksonville.

There wasn't really anything spectacular we ate on our trip. Orlando seems to be the land of the chain restaurant. We did eat at an awesome restaurant in St. Augustine--The Bubble Room. They had these amazing homemade potato chips covered with cheese and bacon. Yeah...they were freakin' awesome! Thankfully they were sitting at the other end of the table from me, so I didn't have that many. I had a really good veggie sandwich, but everyone's food looked fantastic. We debated going back for dinner before we left to try their signature Bubble Bread and get some desserts, but we didn't. We also ate at BB King's Blues Club that was pretty good. I was debating between two things for dinner and asked the waiter what he suggested, and it turned out one of them was his favorite thing on the menu. So, I went with that...chicken fried chicken with caramelized onion gravy and white cheddar macaroni and cheese. The whole thing was tasty, but the macaroni and cheese was amazing. It was probably the best mac and cheese I have ever had--and I've had a lot of mac and cheese! I need to do some Googling and see if I can find the recipe on one of those copycat recipe websites.

While we were gone my friend Amanda left me a note on Facebook that she was making my chicken parmesan recipe for dinner one night. I realized we hadn't had it in quite some time, so I mentally added it to my meal plan for the week. I'm excited--we all really like this, and it's easy and healthy! Thanks, Amanda, for reminding me of it!

Chicken Parmesan

I'm going to make homemade tomato sauce to go with it. This way I can freeze the rest of the sauce and use it one night next week for something. I'm going to boil up some spaghetti to go with this and steam some kind of frozen vegetable.