Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mama J's Cocktail Meatballs

I'm finally getting around to posting the meatball recipe I've been talking about for weeks. Better late than never, right? Right?

Okay then.

So. When Aaron and I first started dating, most of what we ate came from a restaurant, was fast food, or came out of a box. We were 21, what do you expect? Plus, he wasn't a huge fan of home cooking. His mom wasn't a horrible cook, but there are a lot of things she made that he hated (and still hates - see pot roast). But, there were also a few things that his mom made that he absolutely loved. These meatballs are one of those things.

Of course, now I've ruined him for fast food, convenience food, and food that comes out of a box. He prefers eating my cooking to eating out, which while a very nice compliment, means more work for me, even when I don't especially feel like cooking. Luckily, the few things his mom made that he loved are very easy to throw together, so it's win-win. He's not getting these for New Year's Eve like usual, mostly because we can't finish a batch between the two of us and we won't be able to eat the leftovers and stick to our vegetarian for a month plan. But you could make them if you need an addition to your spread; they're quick, easy, delicious, and at a party they're usually the first thing to disappear.

Oh, and yes, I know the ingredients sound weird, but seriously, don't knock it until you try it. The combination makes for a very flavorful sauce. I promise.

Mama J's Cocktail Meatballs

2 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 Tbsp. bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. seasoning salt (ex. Lawry's)

1 bottle chili sauce (the smallish one)
1 sm. glass grape jelly (I get the one that comes in a reusable glass, but if you can't find it, add most of a small jar - all except about a 1/4 c.)
juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix the ingredients for the meatballs until just combined, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Roll into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Slowly heat the sauce ingredients in a heavy skillet, whisking to combine as the jelly melts.

Drop the meatballs into sauce. Cook gently for 1 hour, uncovered.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Bay Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges

Our planned meal last night included cheeseburgers, fries, and raw beet and carrot slaw. Instead, we had chili dogs, paprika roasted broccoflower (delicious!), and roasted sweet potato wedges. This was mostly because I forgot the carrots and the fries at the store and decided I was craving a hot dog more than a cheeseburger. Despite feeding my meat cravings before the month o' no meat, my favorite part of the meal was the sweet potatoes. Even Gabbie ate them, which is no small thing these days (she's decided eating is not for her, thankyouverymuch). Plus, they're super simple and quick. Can't beat that!

Old Bay Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges
adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2009

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a baking sheet, toss sweet potato wedges in olive oil. Sprinkle on Old Bay seasoning, and roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender, turning half-way through baking time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 12.28.09

I can't believe it's the last week of the year already! The older I get the faster the years go, and having a kid sped up time significantly, I swear! (Unless she's sick, and then time drags on interminably. Go ahead. Aske me about my weekend!)

Anway, as I indicated over at my other site this morning, we're going vegetarian for a month starting on Friday. So. The beginning of this week is fairly meat heavy, and then we're quitting cold turkey (no pun intended).

Monday: Cheeseburgers, fries, beet and carrot slaw

This has been my number one craving for the past few weeks, so I figure I better indulge before I give up meat for a month. Otherwise, it would be one very long, difficult, meat-free month.

Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

We have a lot of leftover chicken from our chicken dinner last week, and I'm determined to use it. So, tortilla soup it is! I haven't made this in ages. It's been so long, in fact, that I can't remember what recipe I used to use. This one from Cassie's site looks great though, and we're planning on topping it with avocado and cheese. Yum!

Wednesday: Stirfried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps, leftover beet and carrot slaw

Recipe to be shared if we like it. I'm actually quite looking forward to this!

Thursday: TBD NYE Spread.

Probably nachos and margaritas. Definitely a bottle of our favorite sparking wine!

Friday: Football watching spread!

Veggies and Dip, Crispix mix, Pico & Guacamole, and something more main-dish-ish, but also vegetarian.

Saturday: Curried Chickpeas, some kind of salad with tomatoes or broccoli, basmati rice, homemade naan

Recipes also to be shared (probably next week).

Sunday: Pizza, Spinach Salad

I plan to make the dough and sauce from scratch. For the spinach salad, I prefer spinach, walnuts, red onions, and feta, but since I seem to have developed a walnut allergy in recent years, it will be with slivered almonds instead. I usually top it off with a balsamic vinaigrette.

And I swear, I'm going to post that meatball recipe this week!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 12.21.09

Hey! Look at this! I'm actually here writing something. How novel of me.

Anyway, I've nearly completed all of my big writing projects for work (save for some fairly intense edits, but still, the hardest part is over), I had a few days off to spend with my hubby while Gabbie stayed with my parents, and when I cooked dinner last night it was the first time I had cooked anything in over a week. It felt good to cook, so I decided I might as well throw together some sort of meal plan for the week. We'll see if it continues to go well, since I still have those aforementioned edits, the wrapping of presents, and the writing out and sending of Christmas cards to accomplish. Oy vey, I can't wait for this all to be over.

Anyway, here you go!

Monday: Tomato Soup, Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches, and Steamed Broccoli

One of my favorite meals of all time, and perfect on a nice cold day. Even though the soup is homemade, it comes together in no time and is absolutely delicious, probably because it is quite far from the lowest calorie meal I've ever made, what with the 6 Tbsp. of buter and the 1 1/2 c. of heavy cream. It is so good though. My only edits are to omit the sherry, due to a certain toddler who is learning to eat soup, and to puree the whole thing with my immersion blender, because I like my tomato soup to be smooth.

Tuesday: Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes, Salad, Bread

I haven't made this yet, but it looks delicious, especially since it contains two of my most favorite foods ever - mushrooms and artichokes. Yum! I can't wait to try this.

Wednesday: Fauxtisserie Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Steamed Green Beans

Since we'll be at Aaron's Grandma's house for Christmas Eve dinner, and at my parents' and grandparents' houses on Christmas day, I thought I'd make us a "fancy" dinner on Wednesday. I say fancy in quotations, because the chicken is impossibly easy, the potatoes and stuffing are from a box, and the green beans are already snapped and washed, frozen, ready to be steamed. Active cooking time for this meal is less than 15 minutes. You really can't beat that, and there's nothing like a roast chicken dinner every once in a while.

So, there you go. It's a short week for dinners, but everything is easy and delicious. Tomorrow I'm posting that meatball recipe I promised last week. It feels good to have time to post, really to do anything other than write continuously (and not fun stuff) for days on end.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cheddar and Hard Cider Fondue

A couple Saturdays ago, Aaron threw me a great birthday party, and as is usual at our parties, the food was the main focus of most attendees. We did have a good, but really easy, spread this time, including Aaron's Mom's BBQ meatballs, a veggie tray, spiced nuts, parmesan herb twists, cream puffs with chocolate sauce, chocolate cake, and my personal favorite: cheddar and hard cider fondue with soft pretzels and tart apple slices.

I've made this fondue for two occassions now, and it has always gotten a great response - usually both with profuse "mmmmm"s and several requests for the recipe. And it's so easy too! The first time I made it on the stove top, but this time I made it directly in the electric fondue pot, and it worked perfectly both times. If you have a party coming up and are still wondering what to make (or if the craving hits and you need to do a fondue night just for the fun of it), make this.

Cheddar and Hard Cider Fondue
Source: Food Network

One (12 oz.) bottle hard cider (I've used both Woodchuck and Strongbow, both were good)
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (or pressed)
8 oz. gruyere, shredded
8 oz. vermont or new york (very sharp) cheddar, shredded
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
Cayenne pepper

In a saucepan (or in the electric fondue pot) combine hard cider, stock, worcestershire, and garlic and bring to a steady simmer. Simmer for five minutes.

In the meantime, combine shredded cheeses and toss with the cornstarch to coat. After the five minutes of simmering, add by the handful to the hard cider mixture, stirring each addition until melted before adding another. Cook, stirring, until the fondue is smooth, about 15 minutes from first cheese addition. Stir in a dash or two of cayenne and a pinch of salt (or to taste).

Suggested dippers - soft preztels, slices of granny smith apples, slices of baguette, lil smokies or slices of chicken apple sausage.

Come back tomorrow (hopefully) for the BBQ meatball recipe!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday (+1 Day) Meal Planning(ish) 12.7.09

I was so proud of myself yesterday morning. I had a meal plan all set to go. I was going to make the Cream Cheese Chicken
Cassie talked about yesterday. I found a delicious and simple looking recipe for a pea and tofu curry (yes, I understand delicious is in the stomach of the eater), our family-favorite easy burritos, and Baked Bean Soup. I made a grocery list and sent it on to Aaron so he could swing by the store on the way home and pick up the ingredients. I was all set. Finally, I was feeling back on track.

Then Aaron called me and vetoed everything but the burritos. So, I told him that if he didn't like my plan he got to make his own plan. And he did.

We're having the aforementioned burritos, chicken strips with fries and green beans, spaghetti and meatballs, and pizza. Sounds like a total man-plan, doesn't it? Still it works for me, since I'm hosting our office holiday party this year and have a lot of cooking to do on Thursday night in preparation (I'm only responsible for the main dish - thank goodness - and I'm making The Pioneer Woman's lasagna.

So there! You kind of get two meal plans for the price of one. My work here is done.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caramel Apple Salad

A couple weeks ago I was reading on Angela's site, and then she wrote about Caramel Apple Salad, and I knew that it had to be mine. So, I made it for Thanksgiving, and it was delicious, and you should make it to. So go here, print out the recipe, make it, and melt with happiness. You won't regret it, promise.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I blew NaBloPoMo

On Friday night going to bed early was a major priority after a very,very stressful week, and I forgot to post. Of course, then I found myself wide awake at exactly 12:11 a.m. on Saturday realizing what I did. Oh, well. I've participated every year and have yet to make it through a whole month (well, maybe I did the first year; I don't really remember, and that was at my last blog). What can I say, sometimes a good night sleep trumps my desire to make it to the finish line in a blogging contest apparently.

Anyway, no meal planning this week. Since it's a short, and very, very busy week, we're taking it easy, eating some of the meals I've frozen in the past couple of months (meatballs, pasties), and getting ready for the big eating day (aka Thanksgiving! Can't wait!) and my 30th birthday (on Sunday).

However, I will be baking 3 pies, and I'll share those recipes over the week - a pumpkin pie (standard, can't avoid), a pecan pie (also standard), and something I haven't made before, a sweet potato pie, by special request of Aaron's aunt.

And now I've made myself hungry. I love pie.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pancake Sandwich

I know I'm not the only one, but sometimes I just need a big breakfast for comfort reasons, even if it's not the morning. Enter Brinner, and one of our favorite recipes that we use sparingly because too often would be way too much: The Pancake Sandwich.

Now this sandwich isn't for someone who is watching their calories, that's for sure, but it is delicious and very comforting. This is more of a list than a recipe, but the ingredients are so basic anyone could make this. Really.

Start with a pancake (we usually go with plain, but I can see how blueberry pancakes would add a little something extra). Place it on a plate, and top it with about 1/4 to 1/2 c. scrambled eggs. Top the eggs with a slice of American cheese. Criss cross two strips of bacon (place them on in an X) on top of the cheese, then top all of that with another pancake. Then, if you're really brave, drizzle the whole thing with maple syrup (real syrup, not that fake pancake/maple flavored corn syrup grossness) (just a personal opinion).

There you have it. One delicious, fattening, but really delicious sandwich. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or brinner!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

0 for 3

So, yeah. We didn't cook again tonight, and I'm calling it a wash. No new recipe today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Well, so far this week we're 0 for 2 in making the meals we had planned - last night we had a rotisserie chicken and tonight take out Mexican - but only because there's some sort of cold determined to take down everyone in my house this week.

Still, since I'm NaBloPo-ing it this month, I thought I'd share one a delicious dessert recipe that's perfect for this time of year. And that dessert is Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars. Seriously, how can you go wrong with that sort of combination? They're amazing, and also rich, so remember to cut them into fairly small squares. You really won't be sorry if you make these, I promise.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Source: Everyday Food

20 chocolate wafer cookies (half a 9-ounce package) (or the equivalent in chocolate graham crackers, which is what I used)
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 c. canned solid pack pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.

In a food processor, blend cookies with sugar until finely ground; add butter and pulse until moistened. Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and press gently into bottom (I use the bottom of a measuring cup and it works beautifully). Bake until fragrant and slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place cream cheese in a food processor; blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin, eggs, flour, spice, and salt. Process until combined. Set aside.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Add 1 c. of the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Drop dollops of the chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture; swirl with a knife. Bake until cheesecake is set, but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes.

Cool in pan. Cover; chill until firm, at least two hours. Using overhang, transfer cake to work surface. With a knife dipped in water, cut into 16 squares. Serve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 11.16.09

I'm doing things a little different this week; usually I post meal plans that are either what we ate the previous week, or made up of other meals that I've already tried, but this week I'm going to post what we're planning to eat this week. If the recipes turn out, I'll do a post for them coming up. I'll indicate if we've already tried a recipe and enjoyed it that's included in the plan. Here goes!

Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Salad

We love these meatballs! The recipe makes a lot, so I freeze half, and we're eating the reheated half tonight. I can't wait!

Tuesday: Beer Glazed Black Beans with Tomatoes, Cheese Grits, Tortillas

Haven't made these yet, but I can't wait to try them. We're planning on going vegetarian for the month of January, so we're testing out a few easy-looking recipes so we have additional staples for that month.

Wednesday: Twice Baked Potatoes, Salad

Thursday: Spicy Autumn Veggie Burgers on Hard Rolls, Tater Tots

Friday: Brinner - Migas, Toast

Saturday: Creamy Pasta with Ham and Broccoli, Rolls, Salad

Sunday: Comfort Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli

I know, I know...meatballs twice in one week. But! They're almost a week apart. And I love meatballs. So there.

Lots of new recipes this week! I'm currently at home waiting for the stove repairman to show up and replace my stovetop, so I'm celebrating with lots of cooking. I'm so excited to have a fully working stove again I can hardly stand it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Do

Even though I've been cooking and baking for a long time, and have made many things that my friends think take some skill, there are still more than a few things out there that I'd like to try to make. So, I figured tonight I'll post the start of my list and in the next few months I'll try to make them and post about it here. Might as well start tackling my cooking/baking goals, right?

Here are things I'd like to make/master (all from scratch):
  • pierogis
  • whoopie pies
  • macarons
  • coq au vin
  • beef bourguignon
  • cheese - mozzarella, paneer, cheddar, ricotta
  • caramel corn
  • 100% whole wheat bread
  • sourdough bread (with my own starter)
  • granola/granola bars
  • yogurt
I think that's a good start to a list, if not almost a little too ambitious. This is going to take me a while to get through!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Homemade Spaghetti-O's

Last night before I made the special dinner for Aaron, I made a special dinner for Gabbie. We try to feed her as little processed food as possible, as a rule, so I'm often trying to find ways to make some of my childhood favorites from scratch. On a whim  yesterday, I Googled "spaghettios recipe," and found this recipe, which, modified for size, was just what I was looking for. Gabbie wasn't crazy about it last night, but I think that was mostly due to her being able to see my giant pile of shredded cheese (intended for cheese grits; delicious, wonderful cheese grits), because she loved the reheated leftovers today.

Homemade Spaghetti-O's
Adapted from Oven Love

1 large can tomato sauce (28 oz or so - the equivalent of 3 cups)
1 1/2 c. water
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 lb. small pasta shapes (we used pasta stars)
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c. milk
1 Tbsp. butter
salt, to taste

Combine tomato sauce, water, and garlic powder in a large pot. Bring to a boil. When boiling, add the pasta to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently (mostly because the past will stick to the bottom of the pot due to its small size) for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is soft. Stir in the cheese until melted. Add milk, butter, and salt, and stir to combine. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night Date Night

I decided to do something special for Aaron tonight as he has had a long week at work. So, I flipped through The Pioneer Woman Cooks and decided on a pan-fried ribeye with whisky cream sauce, cheese grits, and a wedge salad. Delicious! And now, we're about to fall into a food coma, so I'm off. Happy Friday night!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm going to bake something from the book this weekend, too.

Guess what I finally got today:

(Ignore the mess in the background, Gabbie had just emptied her toy box minutes earlier.)

If you can't tell from the photo (I couldn't get her to hold it up any higher) I finally got The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook. I've already read it cover to cover, and now I have a big decision to make: what should I cook first? Should it be the Chicken Spaghetti? Lasagna? Sherried Tomato Soup? Migas? (It won't be the pulled pork, but only because we're still working on the roast I made earlier in the week, not because it doesn't look amazing, because it totally does.)

What would you make first?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crockpot Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes

This one is really easy. It took me all of 5 minutes to throw this in the crockpot, and most of that 5 minutes was for peeling the sweet potatoes. You could do this a million ways, I'm sure, but I stuck with incredibly simple, and it turned out perfectly.

Crockpot Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes

1 pork loin roast (ours was about 3 pounds)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch thick slices
chili powder
salt & pepper

Place the pork loin in the crockpot. Sprinkle liberally with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Rub in the spices, flip the pork loin and repeat with the other side. Add in sweet potatoes and 1/2 c. water around the sides. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is one of my very top favorite foods. I love it pretty much any way except for the condensed stuff. No thanks. I've tried a ton of different recipes, including lots of delicious ones, and this is one of the delicious ones. It was a great way to use up the last of our CSA tomatoes (a few weeks ago), but I can also see making it with a couple of pints of grape tomatoes, or a mix of whatever looks best at the store.

Speaking of the CSA tomatoes, the prep for this recipe was beautiful. Check it out:

Then I roasted them, pureed them, and ate them. And they were great.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Approx. 4 c. tomatoes, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt/pepper
3/4 c. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place tomatoes, onions, and garlic on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes. Let cookie sheet cool enough to handle and scoop them (and all the yummy juices) into a pot or a blender. Puree the vegetables (if in the pot, use an immersion blender) until smooth. Add broth and simmer over medium heat. Add herbs and any additional salt and pepper.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 11.9.09

Here's a quickie meal plan tonight. I'll post most of the related recipes throughout the week.

Monday: Crockpot pork roast and sweet potatoes, salad

This was really good and easy. I am loving my crockpot these days.

Tuesday: Mushroom spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad.

I just sautee up some mushrooms in butter and olive oil with some garlic, stir into jarred sauce and serve over pasta. Even though we call this spaghetti, we have been using bow-ties or rotini lately because they're easier for Gabbie to pick up and eat.

Wednesday: Cubano sandwiches and sweet potato fries

These use leftover pork from Monday. We really liked these!

Thursday: Roasted tomato soup, salad

Friday: Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, chips

Using up still more of the pork roast. It made kind of a lot.

Saturday: Steak, Guiness, and Cheese Pie, buttered peas

I LOVE this recipe!

This is totally a week full of quick, filling, delicious meals. My favorite kind of week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Tis the season for pumpkin-flavored goodies. I started the season with a pumpkin muffin at Panera, then got a pumpkin latte or two, and have topped it off with pumpkin creamer for my coffee so I get some every day. But it's time to take it to the next level - pumpkin sweets.

I got this recipe from All & Sundry a couple of years ago, and have made it each fall since. It's easy and delicious, which you know are my two requirements for something I make time and time again. In fact, the first time I made them, we ate them all and then Aaron requested I make another batch immediately. So I did, and we ate all of those too.

(Insanely Good) Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 small can pumpkin (or 1 1/2 c. homemade pumpkin puree)
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a 12 muffin tin (or line with paper liners).

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices together in a large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients except for chocolate chips in another bowl. Pour dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix. Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3rds full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dad's Pasties

Every time we head to the UP (Michigan's Upper Peninsula), we make sure to have pasties for dinner at least once. These UP staples are hot, hearty, and delicious, made with root vegetables and meat, and perfect for the long, cold winters that are the norm up there. Of course, there were quite a few years when we didn't make it up to the UP. When our pastie cravings got the best of us, my dad found and tweaked a recipe, and I have to admit that they're better than any I've had up north. All they're missing is the ambiance. These do take quite a while to make, but they're totally worth it. Plus, it makes so many that we usually freeze at least half the recipe, which means we have at least two dinners out of every batch. Freezing directions are at the bottom of the recipe.

Dad's Pasties
Adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seasoned America

Seasoning Mix
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. ground savory

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. seasoning mix
9 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 - 12 Tbsp. cold water

10 oz. lean pork, very finely chopped
3/4 lb. lean beef (I used sirloin), very finely chopped
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. seasoning mix
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 c. finely diced rutabaga
1 to 1 1/2 c. finely diced peeled potato
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic

1 egg
2 Tbsp. water

1. Combine the seasoning mix ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl.

2. For the dough: combine the flour, 1 tsp. seasoning mix, and the butter in a bowl and blend with a fork or pastry blender until the texture is mealy. Gradually add the water and work the dough lightly with your hands until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Form the dough into a ball. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.

3. For the filling: combine the pork and beef in a bowl. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. seasoning mix over the meat and work in well with your hands.

Melt the butter in a 12 inch skillet over high heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, add the onions and celery and cook stirring occasionally until the onions begin to brown about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp. seasoning mix and cook 4 minutes.

Push the vegetables to one side of the skillet, place the seasoned meat in the cleared space, and cook, stirring occasionally until just brown, about 3 minutes. Mix the meat into the vegetables.

Add the rutabaga, potato, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Pour the filling mixture into a shallow pan and refrigerate until cool. (In a Michigan winter, we cover it and put it outside for about 30 minutes, and that does the trick.)

Here's a picture of the filling so you can see the approximate size things should be chopped.
I make about 1 cm cubes of everything.

4. To finish: make an egg wash by beating the egg and water together.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 7 equal portions. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll out each portion of dough to a thickness of about 1/16 inch. Using a plate or a pan as a guide (I used a salad plate), cut a 7 to 9 inch round from each portion. When each portion has been rolled out, re-roll the scraps to make additional rounds. I usually get about 9 pasties out of the dough.

Remove the filling from the refrigerator (or bring it inside). Put about 3/4 c. of the filling in the middle of the dough round. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash, and fold in half to seal. Crimp the edge with the tines of a fork. Brush egg wash over the top of each pasty.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and place the pasties on the sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve warm with beef gravy or (as we do up north) lots of ketchup.

To freeze: Make pasties as directed up through brushing with egg wash. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Add 10 minutes to the baking time (or more as needed), and bake straight from the freezer.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Delicious Links 11.6.09

Some fun food-related links today:

I have wanted to make these bacon cups for forever. I was thinking they?d be really good filled with scrambled eggs and hash browns. Or maybe Caesar salad. Yummmmm?.

This thread on Ask Metafilter has some great ideas for holiday food gifts. I want to make limoncello this year (here's I want to use), but I need to start soon if that's going to happen!

I really enjoyed this article. It is a very fun read and incredibly interesting to see all of the different things that are going on in the food world these days.

That's it for today! Tomorrow: Pasties: a great food to make and eat, especially on the weekend because they?re a little time consuming. Totally worth it, though.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pear Butter

Hey look! I successfully canned something! It's pear butter and it's delicious. I had to do something with the plethora of pears I had from the tree in our backyard, and this just seemed the way to go. It was incredibly easy using the crock pot, and it's so good that Aaron is sad these jars are marked for giving away as Christmas gifts.

Pear Butter
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

6 pounds pears, peeled and chopped into large pieces
½ cups water
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest (Don't Omit)
½ teaspoons nutmeg
⅓ cups orange juice (or you can do like I did and just use the juice of the orange you zested)

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot. Stir. Cook on low for four hours. Mash or puree using an immersion blender. Cook on low for four more hours.

Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process for 10 minutes in a canner with the lids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mint Crinkles

There are two things you must know:

1. My official start of the holiday season every year is when I buy the Better Homes and Gardens special Christmas Cookies issue. I love it. I have every one going back to 2003 (plus some other special holiday issues). One year I didn't buy one and my mom, knowing how much I loved this magazine, bought me the issue so I wouldn't miss out on this special dose of holiday joy.
2. The way to my husband's heart is through putting something mint chocolate in his stomach.

Which is why I made these:

And I have to tell you, you must too make these and eat them nice and hot fresh out of the oven with a big glass of milk. Delicious!

Mint Crinkles
Source: BHG Christmas Cookies 2009

3/4 c. Andes mint chocolate and mint pieces (or 24 candies chopped finely)
1/3 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
additional Andes mint pieces, or finely chopped candies

In a heavy small saucepan, heat and stir the 3/4 c. candy pieces until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until well combined. Beat in cooled melted candy, eggs, and vanilla. Beat or stir in flour. Cover and chill until dough is easy to handle (about 3 hours).

Preheat oven to 350. Drop by rounded tablespoonful (you'll want them fairly ball-shaped before baked) 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are set (tops should crackle). Sprinkle a few candy pieces on top of each cookie (don't press them into the cookie). Bake 1 minutes more. Cool on wire racks. Makes 30-36 cookies.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Taco Calzones

The other night I stopped by the grocery store with about 10 minutes to spare and no idea what I was making for dinner. I kind of wanted pizza, but I also kind of wanted something Mexicanish, and my main goal was to use as few dishes as possible since I wasn't in the mood for a big mess. A recipe on the cover of a magazine inspired me to combine my two cravings and make Taco Calzones. I totally winged it, and I must say, it turned out to be a fairly easy and delicious dish! Plus, you only dirty a pan, a cookie sheet, a spoon, a knife, and a cutting board. It may sound like a lot, but that's a small mess for me. Goal accomplished!

Of course, these can be played with a lot - more of a technique than a firm recipe. I'm envisioning adding black beans in the future, or maybe even a schmear of refried beans. If I want a spicier version, I can see adding some salsa and pepperjack cheese to the mixture. They're just fine as-is, though. Even Gabbie managed to get down about half of one (she's on a non-eating kick these days; the complete opposite of how she was up until a month ago), so that's progress!

Taco Calzones

1 lb ground chuck
1/2 a medium onion, diced (about 1/3 c.)
Taco seasoning
1 c. shredded cheese
1/2 to 1 c. frozen corn kernels
1/4 to 1/2 c. diced tomato
Pizza crust (I used a Pillsbury tube of thin-crust pizza dough, but you can use whatever you like)

Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions.

In a large sautee pan, brown beef. When beef is almost done, add in onion and cook until translucent. Add in taco seasoning according to package directions. Remove from heat and stir in a handful of cheese, corn, and tomato.

Roll out pizza crust and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Add about 1/3 c. filling to the middle of each square, top with additional cheese, fold in half and seal. Bake according to pizza crust directions (mine took about 13 minutes). Serve with sour cream and taco sauce.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 11.2.09

I cannot believe it's November already. This year has flown by crazy fast!

My cooking slump seems to have mostly passed, thank goodness. Not only that, but my stove is getting fixed under warranty, so I don't have to shell out two arms and a leg for the repairs. I think that weight lifted made all the difference.

Anyway, I took a week off cooking and then I made up for it today, with pear sauce, mint crinkle cookies, and pasties (recipes all coming soon). I was in the kitchen on my feet for 4 hours straight, and I'm totally wiped out. Totally worth it though. I'm back, Baby!

And since I'm back, here are the meals for this week:

Monday: Spicy Mexican Squash Stew, corn bread

I made this in the crockpot by just throwing everything in and turned it on high for 8 hours. I think next time I'd add some beans of some sort to add bulk and make it more filling. It was good like it was - it tasted like a basic vegetable soup - but I can definitely think of a few ways to make it better.

Tuesday: Chicken wrap-ups, tater tots

We use frozen breaded strips and cook them according to package directions. Then we slice them in wrap them in a tortilla with all different kinds of fillings, depending on our mood. My favorite is basic - lettuce, tomato, cheddar, and ranch dressing with a little hot sauce mixed in. Delicious! (and so, so easy)

Wednesday: BBQ Beans and Sausage, salad

This one is such a huge hit in our house, that I get asked to make it almost every week. I limit it to once a month at the most, because I'm not a big fan of having the same thing over and over and over.

Thursday: Taco Calzones, Mexican Rice

I made this recipe up on Friday, and it turned out great. Recipe coming tomorrow.

Friday: Prosciutto Pasta, Herb Garlic Bread, Salad

Another house favorite, and another easy meal. I also saw Ina Garten make some garlic bread on tv over the weekend that I'm dying to try, and so I needed an excuse to make it. This dish is the perfect excuse.

Saturday: Pasties, pear sauce

Pasties are a northern Michigan favorite, and a household favorite too. My dad went to college in the U.P. and Aaron's family is from there too, so we have lots of northern Michigan traditions in our house. These will blow you away. Promise. Recipe to come soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I'm doing NaBloPoMo on both of my sites. Get ready for a lot of new recipes here this month! Starting soon with a recipe of my own creation: Taco Calzones!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Non-Meal Planning

I'm not cooking this week due to several reasons. I also didn't cook much last week, and what I did cook didn't turn out well. I'm in the middle of a cooking slump, and I hate when that happens. Does it ever happen to anyone else? I'm going along, cooking like normal, and all of the sudden nothing works. Nothing tastes good. I keep messing things up.

Aaron agrees that I have about one or two of these a year, but this one is definitley a doosey. It's never cost me much money before but I've made some expensive mistakes this time that have left me un-confindent in my kitchen skills.

Hopefully I'll get it together by next Monday, and hopefully I'll have a stove to cook on again by that time. If not, this may become crock pot central for a while.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coming Attractions

I totally spaced on doing the weekly meal plan this week, but I have a good excuse, I swear. I was busy making pear butter and canning it, which took me two whole days (almost). And I was busy running around town finding appropriate canning equipment (it is apparently not easy to do for a glass-top stove, FYI). But, now I have pear butter, and it is delicious, and a post about it is coming soon.

Also, I'm making pepper jelly some night this week, and there will also be a post about that.

In not-so-coming-attractions news, I made a terribly involved corn chowder, which was delicious, but which also has made me sick twice (due to me and my inability to eat massive amounts of fatty dairy products, not the soup - you'd think I'd learn after the first experience). Even though it was good, I'm sure there are recipes out there that are just as good and which aren't nearly as complicated. So, the search is on, and if I find one I'll share.

I have some recipes I made last week (like roasted tomato soup) that were delicious, but I don't want to post the recipe without the pictures I took and I can't seem to get time on the computer at home, so that's coming too when I finally get time.

Also possibly coming up - pear apple pie, chocolate chess pie, and some sort of pecan pie. I'm still on a pie kick and also testing out recipes for Thanksgiving.

Finally, you'll get some of my favorite recipes that we've made recently - wild rice stuffed acorn squash, piggy pudding, and breakfast sausage rolls. Yum!

So sorry you have to wait for the goodness. I promise it's coming!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

Growing up I was a very, very picky eater. I barely ate anything other than macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, hot dogs, and bread. I didn't even like pizza! I remained fairly picky until about the time I met Aaron. He made me try things, and I discovered that I actually liked some of them. Then I started cooking, and discovered many of the things I didn't like turned into things I loved when I made them.

One of those things is pancakes. I hated pancakes (and waffles) when I was a kid. I would choke down the obligatory one and then go play, sneaking into the kitchen later to eat some kind of snack (most likely cheetos and coke - it's amazing I survived when I regularly ate like that).

Then one day Aaron wanted pancakes, so I grudgingly got out my cookbook and made them. I got ready to choke down my one pancake, took a bite, and realized something - these things were delicious! I ate more than half the batch (and had a matching stomach ache later, but it was totally worth it), and have been making them regularly ever since. While I have tried others, this recipe is one I stick to most often, jazzing it up with blueberries quite regularly.

We top them with butter and real maple syrup (something Aaron had never had before we were together, and now we only eat the real stuff because it's sooooo good), and usually have bacon on the side. These are so satisfying, and remarkably easy to throw together.

Blueberry Pancakes
Note: Omit the blueberries for plain pancakes, which are very nearly as wonderful as the blueberry version.

2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 to 1 c. milk (depending on how thick you like your batter; I usually use the whole cup)
1 egg
1 c. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen are fine; you can use more or less berries depending on your preferences)

In a large bowl (or a large liquid measuring cup, which is what I use since it makes it easier to pour out the batter at the end), whisk together the butter and milk. Add in the egg and beat well. Add in the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Pour batter into a hot non-stick skillet by the 1/4 cup-ful. Drop a few berries onto the top of each pancake. When the top is covered with bubbles, flip the pancakes and cook until the bottom is golden brown. Repeat process until all the batter is used. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 10.12.09

Fall has definitely arrived here. We get to freezing or slightly below every night, I can see some gorgeous red leaves from my office windows, and it’s cold and rainy during the day. Definitely time for some comfort food!

Monday: Roasted Tomato Soup, Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches

The soup recipe (and even some pictures!) will be coming tomorrow. I’ve been serving grilled cheese made with mozzarella with my tomato soup lately, and it’s divine. I just use shredded mozz where I would usually use a slice or two of American cheese. The soup was delicious, and just what we needed after a long day of feeling crappy. Even Gabbie ate a serving of the soup – Baby’s first soup! – and loved it.

I have leftovers of the soup today for lunch, but since grilled cheese sandwiches aren’t really good for a packed lunch, I topped the soup with some mozzarella and stirred in some cooked pasta. Another one of those two meals in one pot things. I love it!

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie

This takes a little while to make, but if you have frozen chopped carrots and pre-cooked chicken on hand, it definitely goes faster. The time is totally worth it, though, because it is so good.

Wednesday: Brinner! Blueberry Pancakes, Pearsauce (like applesauce but made with pears), and Bacon

I’ll post the recipes for the pancakes and pearsauce later. I’ve been craving blueberry pancakes like mad lately, and with all the frozen blueberries we have in the freezer (my mom went picking and brought me a gallon bag full) I can make these any time! As for the pears, we have a pear tree in our back yard and had a huge crop this year (bigger than normal according to our neighbors) so I’ve been making pear puree, pear desserts, and soon: pear butter. The pears are wonderfully sweet, and even I, who usually doesn’t like pears, am a fan. Yum!

Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Joes, Cole Slaw, Potato Chips

Easy and delicious. I’m totally craving it right now, actually.

Friday: Out.
I have been craving a good steak, and since we don’t have a grill (yet), it’s out to the neighborhood steakhouse instead. Yum!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

See, I told you about the pie kick! Aaron sabotaged the originally planned recipe by forgetting everything in the frozen section (peas, puff pastry) of my shopping list (yes, I separate my list by sections - produce, dairy, meat, pantry, frozen, other; it really makes shopping more efficient, and I'm a list-making dork, so it's a win-win, except when someone forgets an entire category).


Anyway, I had to improvise, and if I do say so myself it turned out wonderfully. Aaron ate three big servings, which is something for someone who claims to hate chicken pot pie. Instead of using frozen peas in the filling, I used mixed vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, carrots), which I thought would be better for Gabbie who would likely pick out and eat the vegetables (she refused to eat more than 3 bites altogether and ended up having a banana for dinner - what happened to my usually great eater?). I made my own top crust in place of the puff pastry, adding extra salt, and pepper and dried thyme to the mix, and it was a wonderful savory crust. Altogether, this was a delicious, comforting dinner on a rainy, cold fall day. And quite ambitious for someone who only has use of one leg for standing in the kitchen. Thank goodness for our bar stools!

I didn't get a picture of this one because we were too hungry, and my ankle hurt to much to hobble over to get the camera and then back into the kitchen. Also, I hate crutches. Just wanted to throw that out there.

Chicken Pot Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, October 2009


2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 c. flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3 - 4 c. cooked chicken, cut into small pieces or shredded (we used 1/2 of the fauxtisserie chicken we made last week)
1 1/2 c. frozen mixed vegetables
1 tsp. dried thyme

1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/3 c. shortening
3 - 4 Tbsp. ice water
yolk from a large egg

In a medium saucepan, add butter and olive oil, and cook until butter is melted. Add onion and carrot, and cook until onion softens, about 5-6 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and has the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes.

Whisking constantly, add broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

While filling is simmering, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and thyme in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until it resembles course meal. Stir in ice water with a fork, one tablespoon at a time, until it can come together into a bowl. Roll out on a floured surface into rectangle just larger than a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.

Remove filling mixture from heat; stir in chicken, vegetables, pepper, and thyme. Pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Top with pie crust, rolling under excess and pressing to the side of the dish. In a small bowl, beat egg yolk with a little water; brush the entire crust with this mixture.

Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 35 minutes. You might have to put a cookie sheet under the casserole dish in the oven, because the filling is likely to bubble over (we learned this the hard way). Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tomato Pie

I have been on a pie kick lately. We've been averaging about 2 sweet and/or savory pies a week. Aaron doesn't mind in the least, except for the fact that I make a huge mess when I make a pie crust, so he prefers when I use pre-made crusts. I say that's cheating (unless I'm short on time or have an extra crust in the refrigerator).

This time I used a made my own crust and Aaron didn't complain at all, because his mouth was full for too long eating as much of this pie as he could fit in his stomach. We used a bunch of different heirloom tomatoes for the pie, so it was a beautiful mix of red, green, purple, and yellow tomatoes. This is so good. I promise.

Tomato Pie

1 9-inch pie crust
1/2 red onion, diced
3 large or 6 - 8 smaller tomatoes, about 3 cups, seeded, squeezed to remove excess liquid, and chopped, then drained on paper towels (you want to remove as much liquid as possible)
1/4 cup basil leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 c. mozzarella, shredded
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. mayonnaise
a couple of shakes of hot sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot)
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prick pie shell all over with a fork and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until very lightly golden brown.

Sprinkle the bottom of the pie crust with the onion. Top with tomatoes. Sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients until well combined. Spread over the top of the other ingredients, making sure it reaches the edges. Place in oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about 35-45 minutes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blondies

A while back I was trying to figure out what to bake first in my new oven, and Cassie suggested Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Bars. I, not quite in the mood yet for pumpkin, but also a big fan of snickerdoodles, was intrigued. So I googled Snickerdoodle Blondies and found this. Then I made them almost immediately, before I had even gotten my new oven, because they sounded so good.
Aaron thought they were undercooked, but this is also the man who prefers his brownies cakey instead of fudgey. Obviously he's nuts.

Anyway, these were excellent, even if they were a bit undercooked (I still maintain they were fine), and my best friend, her husband, and myself finished off the pan pretty quickly. I definitely recommend that you make these right away, and maybe even have one with a nice hot chai latte. Mmmmm...I think I'm going to have to have Aaron take me to the coffee shop on Saturday after a little time making these blondies in the kitchen. With my new oven. That I love.

Snickerdoodle Blondies
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamona
pinch nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.
Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan using a spatula. Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a little bowl; sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when pressed lightly. Cool before cutting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Leek, Bacon, and Pea Risotto

It doesn't take much to convince me to make a big pot of risotto. I'm definitely what you would call a fan of the stuff. Throw in the fact that we had some leeks to use from last week's CSA, and that we always have bacon in the fridge and peas in the freezer (Gabbie loves peas), and this recipe was just begging for me to make it. It was pretty easy, with a minimum of chopping, which is always a plus for me. Aaron and I loved it, while Gabbie ate all of the peas out of her serving and then asked for a banana. ("Mama? Yeah? Nana? Yeah?"; the cuteness, it kills me!)

We're going to try the other recipe included with this, which is fried risotto cakes. I was planning on making them tonight, but I have doctor's orders to stay off my feet (due to an awesomely sprained ankle) so it will be a few days before I let you all know how they are. The recipe can be halved if you're not going to make the cakes.

Leek, Bacon, and Pea Risotto
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, October 2009

2 leeks, white and light green parts only
10 c. low-sodium chicken broth
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
2 1/2 c. Arborio rice
1 c. dry white wine
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. grated parmesan, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter
coarse salt and ground pepper

Halve leeks lengthwise; rinse thoroughly. Pat dry and thinly slice. In a saucepan, bring broth to a simmer over medium heat. In a large, straight-sided skillet (or in a Dutch oven) cook bacon over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned but not crisp (about 5 minutes). Add leeks and cook stirring frequently until softened (about 2-3 minutes). Increase heat to medium-high; add rice and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

Add the wine and stir until it evaporates. Add 1 c. broth; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until broth is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Repeat process, gradually adding broth until the rice is al dente and risotto is creamy (you  may not need all the broth), about 35 minutes. Stir in peas (if using) after the final addition of broth.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in parmesan, butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Reserve about half (approx. 4 cups) for fried risotto cakes. Serve remaining risotto with parmesan.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 10.5.09

I totally fail at autopublish. I should have looked at a calendar rather than depend on my mad addition skilz to figure out yesterday's date. I set this to publish tomorrow (Wednesday) instead of yesterday (Monday). Who knows what I was thinking. Anyway, here is the week's worth of meals.

Are you ready for another double-duty meal again this week? I am loving cooking this way, and I even often have enough leftovers for Aaron's lunches on top of two separate meals. It really doesn't get much better than that!

Monday: Fauxtisserie Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans

This was so incredibly easy and delicious. Gabbie stuffed the chicken into her mouth by the handful and couldn't get enough. I actually had to cut her off, which is so odd since she usually couldn't care less about meat or flat out refuses it. We ate about half of the chicken and then saved the rest for another meal.

Tuesday: Leek, Bacon, and Pea Risotto, Salad

This was a delicious, light meal, and all three of us could have eaten much more of it than we did. We saved the leftovers for fried risotto cakes, which are on the menu for tomorrow. I'll definitely share both recipes then.

Wednesday: Tomato Pie, Fresh Cranberry Bean Salad, green salad

Elise describes this pie thusly, "Think pizza meets cheesy bread and they make-out in a pie crust." It's exactly right and oh, so delicious. I'll post the recipe with a picture and my edits later this week. Really, so, so good.

Thursday: Sloppy Joes, sweet potato fries

This is one of my favorite fall comfort foods. We top ours with some American cheese and call it good. Gabbie loves the fries, the meat, not so much.

Friday: Chicken Taquitos, chips, pico and guacamole

I made some of these with flour tortillas instead of corn, and they were great too. Aaron loves these taquitos probably more than is healthy, but they're easy and I frequently have leftover chicken I can use to whip them up, so it works for me. Even though they're slightly spicy, Gabbie still likes them too. Probably because of all the spicy foods I ate when I was pregnant (and breastfeeding too; I couldn't give it up).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fresh Cranberry Bean Salad

Our CSA is winding down for the season. I think we only have two weeks left (I should probably check on that to be sure), but that doesn't mean that we're getting fewer vegetables. In fact, we're getting the most we've gotten all season. One of the things I've been getting lately is cranberry beans. These beans are really, really pretty, and I'd read many times about how tasty they are over my years reading as many food blogs as I can. So, when I saw them at the CSA a few weeks back, I made sure they made it into my bag. Then they sat on the counter for a week. I got some more the next week, but still wasn't sure what to do with them. Since I wanted to try them so bad, I decided not to disguise them very much. I wanted a recipe for them that really highlighted the beans. I looked around and modified a few recipes until I had exactly what I wanted, and it turned out great. Gabbie and I love them, and have gone through nearly the whole large batch I made. Aaron's indifferent but doesn't really want to eat them since the texture reminded him a little of a lima bean. I want you to know, these are nothing like lima beans. They're wonderful.

Fresh Cranberry Bean Salad

2 c. fresh, shelled cranberry beans
2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add salt and beans and boil 20-30 minutes, or until beans are soft and no longer mealy. Drain, and toss with remaining ingredients while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie

We ate like crap last week - our dinners consisted of leftovers, macaroni and cheese and hot dogs, leftovers, eating out, and more leftovers. So, no meal plan this week.

But! I accomplished something as of this evening. All of my three pie plates were in use because since last weekend I had made three pies.

which was absolutely excellent. We've been eating it very slowly, because it's so rich, which is great because it means it lasts longer, and we definitely want something this good to last as long as possible. I couldn't find peanut butter oreos that the original recipe calls for, so I used regular ones and it was still amazing.

Cassie's Mom's Peanut Butter Pie

20 Oreo cookies
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. whipping cream

Pulse the cookies in a food processor until they've reduced to small crumbs. Add in sugar and melted butter and pulse a few more times, until combined. Press into a 9-inch pie plate and cook at 375 for 10 minutes to set. Let cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and vanilla. Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the peanut butter mixture. Spoon into the crust and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours until set.

That's all you have to do for this simple, delicious pie, which makes it even more awesome!

For the other two pies, you'll have to wait until tomorrow, but let me tell you, we've been eating like kings over here, what with peach raspberry pie and tomato pie in addition to peanut butter pie.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 9.21.09

Our meals this week were a little heavy on the red meat, so yesterday afternoon we discussed eating better this week. Then we got pizza and cinnamon breadsticks for dinner, so you can tell how well we're doing with that. There's always today, right?

The weather has begun to get a little more chilly, and since fall starts this week, it's the perfect time to bring a few cooler-weather meals back into my repertoire. Next week I'll probably have a "summer's last chance"  menu, and reminisce about the summer being over, but right now I'm excited for fall and all it brings. Especially pumpkin flavored things. That's one of my very favorite parts of fall.

Monday: Pot Roast with Carrots and Potatoes

Like I stated the other day, I really, really liked this. Admittedly, it's a little on the salty side, but absolutely delicious.

Tuesday: Three Cheese Skillet Lasagna, salad, garlic bread

I'll post this recipe tomorrow. I made this on a weeknight, and it was fairly simple and quick, and even Gabbie loved it. It was quick even with making marinara from scratch to use in the recipe. I especially loved that it was meatless, because Gabbie pretty much refuses most meat (everything but pot roast and chicken fingers).

Wednesday: Left-over Pot Roast Enchiladas, Spanish rice

I love meals that can be reused to make something nearly completely different, and this is a great example of this. I'm taking the enchilada leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I avoided eating them all weekend so I could take them to work, but it was hard to hold off.

Thursday: Butternut Squash with Coconut and Curry, basmati rice, naan

I saw this when going through my archives last week and, remembering how delicious it was, couldn't wait to make it again. I totally love Indican food.

Friday: Pizza

I made a homemade pizza using a purchased crust, sauce leftover from the skillet lasagna, a bunch of vegetables that I had chopped and sitting in the fridge (mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, green peppers), and 1/2 a pound of leftover Italian sausage. I topped it with a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan. It was better than any of the delivery pizza we can get around here (since all of our favorite places seem to have closed lately or changed ownership and gone downhill). Plus, it was another cook once, use the leftovers for another meal meal. Those really are the best!

Saturday: Chili and corn bread muffins

Our recipe for chili is a family secret recipe, but I'm sure there's one out there you already use or love. Make that, and then save the leftovers for chili cheese fries during Sunday football.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pot Roast with Bonus Enchiladas

As I mentioned on my other site yesterday, I made a pot roast for dinner on Wednesday, and it was delicious. On Tuesday night before bed, I asked Aaron what he wanted for dinner the next night, giving him a choice between pot roast and stuffed zucchini. He was worried that both of those took way too much time, but then I schooled him in the way of the 3 Packet Pot Roast, and, even though he's not a big fan of pot roast, that's what he chose. Even though he wasn't particularly fond of the end product, more because he doesn't like the texture of roast than that he didn't like the flavor, Gabbie and I powered through about half of the 2 pound roast (minus the fat present in any roast, so we probably ate closer to 10 oz. of meat than 16 oz), and probably could have eaten much more.

3 Packet Pot Roast
adapted from Recipe Zaar

1 (2/3 oz.) packet dry Italian dressing mix
1 (1 oz.) packet dry Ranch dressing mix
1 (1 1/4 oz.) packet dry mushroom gravy mix
2 to 3 pound chuck roast
1 c. water
2 large carrots, chopped into one-inch chunks
1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes (or two large baking potatoes, cut into one-inch chunks)

Arrange roast and vegetables in the bottom of the crock pot, roast in the middle vegetables around the side. Mix together the dry mixes and sprinkle over everything. Add 1 c. water around the sides. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

So, that's the roast. Then, I realized there were way too many leftovers in the fridge to cook something new for dinner, but I also knew Aaron wouldn't eat leftover pot roast for dinner, so I decided to use some of the leftover meat for enchiladas, and they turned out amazing (if I do say so myself).

Left-Over Pot Roast Enchiladas

Left-over pot roast, shredded
gravy from the pot roast
cheddar cheese
chipotle salsa
burrito sized flour tortillas
enchilada sauce

In a medium bowl, mix together the pot roast, a few tablespoons of gravy, a few tablespoons of salsa, and a handful of shredded cheddar. Place about 3 T of the meat mixutre in the middle of one tortilla, then roll filling tightly into the tortilla. Place in a greased casserole dish (I used a 9x13 pan). Repeat with remaining meat until all of the mixture has been used. Cover the tortillas with enchilada sauce and plenty of shredded cheddar. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before eating.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Meal Planning, 9.14.09

Short and sweet as I’m super busy today catching up on all the stuff that built up during a week off.

MondayBBQ Beans and Sausages

Aaron and Gabbie really, really love this, and it’s super easy, so they get it as often as they want. I actually made it with BBQ seasoning this time (instead of Montreal Steak Seasoning), but Aaron said he prefers it the way I made it the first time. I also followed the cooking directions, but think they turned out better when I cooked them for 10 hours on low as opposed to 6 hours on high.

TuesdayStuffed Zucchini & Salad

Another easy meal. The zucchinis I’ve been getting lately are huge, so instead of boiling them on the stovetop, I put them in a 9x13 dish and fill it halfway with water, then cover it and cook it in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the zucchini is crisp-tender.

Wednesday – Pasta, Pesto, & Peas, and Bruschetta

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas:
Cook 3/4 lb. Fusilli & 3/4 lb. Bow Tie Pasta according to package directions. When cooked, toss with 1/4 c. olive oil and let cool.
Puree together 1-1/2 c. pesto, 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and dried, & 3 T. fresh lemon juice. Add 3/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice & 1-1/4 c. mayonnaise and blend until combined.
Mix pasta with this sauce and add 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed, & 1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate, and serve.

ThursdayCayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa and rice pilaf
I’m stealing this joke from the last time I posted this recipe: Aaron said that he asked Cayenne nicely to stop rubbing the chicken, but he wouldn't. (He's a comedian!) I am super in the mood for avocado lately, and this always helps soothe that craving.

Friday – Queso Dip and Chips

We’ve been doing date night on Friday nights after Gabbie goes to bed, so she usually gets a grilled cheese (and avocado which we mash up and spread on one slice of bread so we can sneak in some extra veggies), and the we get the good stuff all to ourselves.

Here's my mom’s (and my favorite) queso recipe:
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 1b. Velveeta
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
Chili powder, garlic salt, and hot/taco sauce to taste.
Combine in a crock pot (you can cook onions and green pepper before adding, if you'd like) and cook over low until the cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

Saturday – Meatball Subs

I use this meatball recipe (it really is the best I’ve ever made), doubling the tomato puree. Then I brush sub rolls with olive oil and grill them in frying pan, turn them over, and place sliced smoked provolone on the top half and cook just until it melts. Then I halve 2 meatballs, and put them side by side on the opposite side of the bun, spoon over some sauce, add desired toppings (I like it as is or with some pepperocini rings, Aaron likes sliced green pepper, onion, and tomato). Delicious, and perfect for enjoying during a football game on a lovely late-summer evening. Like we did this week. It was heavenly.


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