Monday, June 14, 2010

Ummm, maybe a change of plans...

Okay, not really, because I have already bought the groceries for the week, but I have a feeling I'll be making The Pioneer Woman's Chicken with Olives next week. Sounds fantastic!!

This Week's Menu!

Monday: Was going to be hamburgers, buuuut, I'm tired, hot, and not up for playing with raw meat. So, Stoufer's "boat pizzas" it is (aka French Bread Pizzas) with watermelon.

Tuesday: Chicken, black beans, and yellow rice! One of my favorite meals of all times!

Wednesday: Spaghetti with turkey meatballs, salad

Thursday: Hamburgers (maybe Ranch Burgers?)

Friday: Traveling again! Spartanburg for Father's Day

Nothing too exciting this week, just trying not to melt in this heat! I'll do a post later in the week about my favorite meal, black beans and yellow rice.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A few FIRSTS tonight!

Well, we didn't make it to the Farmer's Market last night to get veggies to go with leftover London Broil tonight, so I decided we'd run by the grocery, and get some veggies to make stir-fry. I don't know what got into me in the produce department, but I ended up getting boc choy AND broccolini...two veggies I've never even cooked (and I've never eaten broccolini!). I also got mushrooms, a red bell pepper, and yellow squash. I have to say, I made some pretty awesome veggie stir-fry!! (And in just a bit I'll be making fried rice with the LB since I think Wes would cry if I tried to feed him only veggies for dinner! He went to play golf tonight, though, so Wesley and I just ate the veggies). I did get some tips for this from

1 bunch bok choy, chopped in 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
1 bunch broccolini, cut in 1-2 inch pieces
1 container baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 small or 1 large sqash, cut in long 1/4 inch thick matchsticks

3 cloves of garlic, grated or very finely chopped
~3T canola oil
~1/4 c. beef broth
~1/4 c. soy sauce, mixed with 1T cornstarch

Okay, have everything ready before you start...this goes fast! Put the oil in a large frying pan or wok, add the garlic (to the cold pan!), and turn to med-high (according to, this will infuse your oil with garlic without scorching it over high heat...great idea!!). Once the oil is hot and the garlic is golden, dump all the veggies in, and use tongs to toss very well...and quickly! Toss for about 30 seconds, until everything is good an coated in the garlic oil. Pour in the broth and cover, letting steam for about a minute. Uncover, toss in the soy sauce mixture, and cover for about another minute. Toss once again before serving! You can add toasted sessame seeds on top if you'd like, but we didn't becaue Wesley is allergic :(
Delish and quick! Woohoo!

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's been a while!

Well, not a while since I've cooked, but a while since I've blogged! I'm trying really hard to plan out our meals for the week, based on coupons and store sales...we'll see how it goes! So, here's this week (maybe if I post every Sunday/Monday, it will keep me more accountable!)

Sunday: Wes had leftovers; Wesley and I had awesome Mustard Glazed Salmon* and a Caesar Salad

Monday: London Broil, Biitch Potatoes*, Sugar Snap Peas

Tuesday: Spaghetti

Wednesday: Leftover LB and/or Spaghetti, and Farmer's Market Veggies

Thursday: Tacos

Friday: Out of town for the weekend

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Mustard Glazed Salmon:
I basically followed Giada's Recipe. I didn't have any white wine, so I used just a splash of water, and I used MORE dijon mustard and LESS whole-grain mustard, because I don't really like the whole-grain that I have right now. A little tip, though...don't try to cut this recipe in half (or at least not if you're going to use the mini food processor!). There's not enough glaze to actually get "processed" that way. Also, I broiled my salmon fo the 2 minutes, then for about 9 more minutes. It was phenominal...and Wesley gobbled it up too!

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Biitch Potatoes:
Okay, I found this on a message board, and the potatoes were affectionately (ha) named after a disliked--but good cook--neighbor! Super easy...just take baking potatoes, slice them "accordion style" (not cutting all the way thru) in maybe 6 or so slices, depending on the size. In each slice, put a small sliver of butter, and a thin slice of onion. Sprinkle the top of the potato with salt, and wrap tightly in foil. Grill for about 45 minutes. The onion will practically disappear! They are so good! We had them last week too :)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And a tip I am going to try out today...boiling ground beef! Yeah, it sounds kind of gross, but from what I've read, it's a great way to cook a large amount of ground beef. So, I'm going to boil 2 lbs for the spaghetti and tacos this week, and I'll let you know how it goes. Basic directions seem to be this: put beef in a large stock pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to a good simmer. Break apart with a spoon, and cook until no longer pink. Drain in a collendar placed over a large bowl. Refrigerate the broth that you strain out, and the next day remove the fat from the top. Voila...cooked ground beef (that's healthier b/c you get so much of the fat out!), and homemade beef broth! There is varying advice on seasoning the water. I think I'm going to though.

Update: Okay, why had no one told me about this before?!? I may never fry ground beef again. It took maybe a total of 15-20 minutes to cook 2 lbs of ground beef, and by the way, I now have homemade beef broth too!! I used 1/2 an onion (cut in 1/4ths and held together with a toothpick), salt, pepper, and parsley to season my water.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eggplant Lasagna

Okay, first a disclaimer...I haven't actually eaten this yet! I made it last night, and we're having it for dinner tonight, but I don't think there's any way it could taste bad considering the ingredients :)

1 large eggplant
1 large tomato
about 2-3 oz. fresh parmesian cheese (I used shaved)
15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce (I used Classico Tomato-Basil)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella (I found "pearls"...teeny-tiny little mozz balls!)
Olive oil spray
Salt/pepper/garlic powder
Fresh* basil (okay, so I used the refrigerated squeeze from a tube kind...I need to plant an herb garden!!)

Preheat oven to 350. Slice the eggplant into very thin rounds (less than 1/4" if possible). Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread in one layer on cookie sheets. Roast in the oven until soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Slice tomato in thin slices as well. Mix the ricotta cheese with salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil to taste.
In a large casserole dish that you've sprayed with olive oil, cover the bottom with a single layer of eggplant, then a layer of tomato, then about 1/3 of the spaghetti sauce. Then, add a layer of 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, sprinkle with parm, and top with 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat all of the layers once more, then top with one more layer of eggplant and sauce, and top with the remaining parm and mozzarella.
As I said before, I haven't actually eaten this yet, but I'm thinking it should cook for about 30 minutes in a 350 oven. I'll update later if this isn't correct. I'll be serving it with noodles tossed in olive oil and herbs, since I have a feeling that Wes will be pulling the eggplant out with his nose turned up :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Marinated Cucumber Salad

I first had this years ago when I was doing Weight Watchers, and it was fabulous (and 0 points!). I'd lost the recipe, and failed when trying to recreate it a few times over the years. I think I finally did it though! Yay!

1 English Cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
1 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c water
1 c sugar (to make it 0 WW points, use Splenda)
1/2 to 1 T red pepper flakes (depending on the amount of heat you're after!)
1 to 2 T salt

Bring the vinegar, water, and sugar to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar dissolves. Stir in the red pepper flakes and salt, and pour the hot mixture over the cukes and onion. Stir. Put in the fridge to chill for at least an hour before serving, and stir a few times in that hour.

I think this would be awesome over a white fish (tilapia maybe?) for a light dinner!

Some variations I've seen that I'm anxious to try:
1) Instead of red wine vinegar, use white vinegar, and sub dried dill for the red pepper flakes.
2) Rachel Ray's Quick Pickled Onions and Apples sounds interesting--and somewhat similar--too!

Oven-Roasted Broccoli

After reading the reviews of Alton Brown's Roasted Broccoli, I decided I had to give it a try...especially since Wes won't ever eat broccoli, and Wesley has recently been turning up his nose at it about half the time!
I didn't have any panko bread crumbs, so I used regular ones, and I used parmesan instead of cheddar.

1 lb. broccoli
2 T olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I think I used 3 or 4!)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 c panko bread crumbs (I used closer to 1/2 a cup of regular bread crumbs, but next time I'd use more like 1/4 c)
1/4 c grated parm or cheddar

Preheat oven to 425.
Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces, including the stalks. Toss with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and set aside.
Toast the breadcrumbs on a metal cookie sheet or cake pan for about 2 minutes in the oven. Stir into the broccoli mixture, then put it all back on the cake pan. Roast just until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes (I think it took me about 15). Remove from the oven, stir in the cheese, and serve immediately!

I'm happy to report that both Wes and Wesley ate at least 2 bites each of this. Now, I don't see either of them requesting it for dinner anytime soon, but hey, tasting it is progress, right?!

Homemade Pasta...YUM!

Okay, I'm jumping on The Pioneer Woman bandwagon. How have I not heard of this awesome blog before?? I decided to try out Pastor Ryan's Homemade Pasta the other night, and it was so fun to make...and yummy!

I did have to use a fair amount more flour than she called for, but I'd start with the listed amount, then add as needed. We had it for dinner with homemade sauce, then Wesley and I had it the next day for lunch, tossed with a little bit of olive oil and seasoning. It looks very, hmm, earthy and sloppy, but very interesting at the same tiime!

6 whole eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour (or more)

slowly mix the eggs into the flour with your hands. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and knead, knead, knead! Add flour as needed until the dough becomes smooth. Let the dough rest for a bit, then roll out as thinly as possible. Cut with a pizza wheel(that's what I used) or sharp knife. Make sure to cut the noodles very narrow...they'll plump up when you cook them.
Cook the noodles in salty (very salty!) water for just a couple of minutes. They'll be plump and floating when they're ready.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black Bean Enchiladas

These were a great dinner last night...and Wesley loooooves black beans, so he ate quite a bit of the filling as his dinner. No need for the tortillas! I found the recipe on Annie's Eats. There are a few changes I made, as well as a few I'll make next time, which I noted.

2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
olive oil
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. corn kernels (next time I'll leave this out...didn't really care to have the corn in it)
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 c. salsa
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
2 T lime juice
2-3 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend
medium flour tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce (I accidentally got the medium...quite a bit of heat!)

Using an immersion blender, mush up some of the black beans to your desired consistency (I'd say about 1/2 the beans were mush, 1/2 were whole!). You could also mush with a spoon if you want.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and saute the onions and garlic until very soft. Add the beans, tomatoes, salsa, cumin and chili powder (and corn if using), stirring well, until heated thru and thickened a bit. Remove from heat, and stir in lime juice.
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Spoon some of the filling down the middle of a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, and roll up. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with as many tortillas as desired.
Pour enchilada sauce over the tortillas, and cover the dish with foil. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. YUM!
**One other thing I may do next time: add a strip of cream cheese as I did in these chicken enchiladas**

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Easy-Peasy (and YUMMY!) Chicken Pot Pie!

Now, I would prefer to make this with fresh (Farmer's Market!) veggies (and homemade stock), but 1) the FM isn't opened yet; and 2) Wesley and I had a playdate with Isabelle and Sallie today, so I didn't even go to the grocery to figure out what to eat tonight until about 5:30. So, we needed something super fast and super yummy! It helps a little that everything was organic from Whole Foods, right??

Olive oil
1/2 an onion, finely diced
1 rotisserie chicken (I used the herb roasted)
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup
vegetable stock (I used the boxed kind)
1 bag frozen veggies (peas, carrots, corn, greenbeans mix)
frozen biscuits
seasoned salt

Preheat oven (whatever temp it says for your biscuits...mine said 400). In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, and saute the onion. While the pan is heating/you're sauteeing, dice up the chicken. Add the can of soup and about 1 c. of stock to the pan, stirring well. Add stock until it's the consistency you like. Add the veggies, and let simmer for a few minutes, then stir in the chicken. Season as needed. Pour the whole mixture into an oven-proof casserole dish. Top with the frozen biscuits (Tip: I let the biscuits sit out on the counter while I was unpacking groceries/beginning to cook. They thawed just enough for me to flatten them some with my palm before putting them on top of the casserole). Sprinkle a little bit of the seasoning on top. Bake until the biscuits are golden...our dinner took about 25 minutes start to finish to prepare, and both the W's loved it...SUCCESS!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Potato Soup and Cornbread

Wes's mom, Vill, used to make potato soup and cornbread on a regular basis. His family would eat it on a plate...crumble up the cornbread, pour potato soup over, devour. I coluld never get into the idea of eating it as a plate of mush (don't worry, Wes knows I call it this), but I did like both the potato soup and the cornbread. I've tried to make cornbread a million times, but it never turns out quite right...I think I've finally figured it out though! I also looked at a few recipes for potato soup, and think I've come close to Vill's recipe. Wes was in the den when he took his first bite (all mushed up on a plate!), and I heard him from the kitchen say, "Wow! This is it! It's good!" Yay for making one of his favorite meals his mom used to make him!

Cornbread (and next time, I think I'll try it in a preheated cast-iron pan, but I didn't this time)
1 1/4 c. self-rising cornmeal
3/4 c. self-rising flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Add the egg/milk/butter mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring only until just moistened. Pour into a greased 9" pan, and bake for 25 minutes at 425*.

Potato Soup
*if you'd like to top with bacon (I do!), cook some until crispy, crumble, and set aside
*you may also cut up some scallions and grate some cheddar cheese on top
About 3 lbs. Idaho potatoes (I think I used 5 med. to large potatoes?)
1 c. sour cream
1 stick butter
2 2/3 c. milk
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Rinse, peel, and cut the potatoes into 1" chunks. Put into a large pot, and add just enough cool water to cover. Heat to a boil, reduce and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 35-45 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, and return to the pot and mash (Vill didn't really mash the potatoes in her soup, so I didn't mash it a ton...left some chunks). Stir in the sour cream, butter, milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer to heat through, and serve however you'd like--mushed up on a plate with cornbread (yuck!), or in a bowl, topped with shredded cheese, scallions, and bacon (yum!) with a side of cornbread.

**And leftovers are great--Wes ate most of them, so I stirred about 1/2 c. of the leftover soup with about 1 c. of frozen broccoli and heated through for Wesley and my dinner. YUMMY!

Disclaimer: I didn't say either of these recipes was healthy ;)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Day "Lucky Lunch"

Happy 2010, ya'll!
I wanted to post what I cooked for the traditional NYDay Lunch before I forgot how I did everything! It was so much fun...Sallie and Isabelle, and Maggie, Barry and Davis came over to eat with us. I was a little concerned that I'd cooked WAAAAY too much...but either everyone was starving or everyone was being polite, because the majority of the food got eaten!
So here it goes...we had black eyed peas, collard greens, macaroni and cheese (posted previously), and pork tenderloin. Oh, and the ladies enjoyed some seriously amazing pink champagne ;)

A great thing about this meal...I did 3 of the 4 dishes in crock pots (yup, I am the proud owner of 3 crock pots..more on that later). So, I was able to get everything prepared in the morning, veg on the couch for most of the day, then once everyone got here, I quickly cooked the pork and everything was good to go!

Black Eyed Peas:
6 or so slices of bacon
1/2 a large onion, diced
3 c. water
Glory vegetable base
1 can of RoTel tomatos, drained just a bit
2 10-oz packages of fresh (local!) black eyed peas
Salt and pepper

Cut the bacon into 1-inch (or so) pieces, and brown until crispy. Drain about half of the bacon on a paper towel, and add the onion to the remaining bacon, cooking in the bacon fat (those diet resolutions shouldn't kick in until the 2nd or later!) until very translucent. Put this mixture in the crock pot, along with the water, a heaping teaspoon of the vegetable base, the tomatoes, peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high for approximately 4 hours, checking the seasoning and doneness of the peas often. Crumble the reserved bacon over top of the peas just before serving.

Collard Greens:
1 T. butter
1/2 a large onion, diced
1 pack of Turkey Jerky
6 c. hot water
1 beer
Glory vegetable base (approx. 2 T)
2 bunches of fresh (again...local!) collard greens, washed and trimmed
1/3 to 1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion in the butter until translucent. Put in the crockpot along with the next 5 ingredients, and some salt/pepper to taste. Cook over high heat, stiring with tongs frequently to ensure all the collard pieces spend ample time submerged. About 1 hour before serving (once collards are very soft and yummy!), add the cider vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce, and s/p if needed. Serve with cider vinegar to be sprinkled on top if desired!