Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 8.25.09

Tuesday Edition, yet again. I’ve been super organized at work and home lately, but it has kept me so busy that I keep forgetting about posting. I guess I just need to schedule it in somewhere – maybe a Saturday morning full of writing, scheduled to appear during the week. We’ll see how it works.

Plus, yesterday I was so starving in the morning that I couldn’t even bear to think about all of this delicious food. Let’s see if you can guess what hormonally driven cravings I’m having this week!

MondayTaco Joes, Cucumber Salad, Steak Fries

We top our taco joes with a slice of cheese and sliced avocado. For the steak fries, I toss them with a little olive oil, salt, and chili powder before cooking according to the package directions. This makes them go really well with the rest of the meal.

TuesdayBaked Creamy Chicken Taquitos with Creamy Lime Cilantro Dressing and Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeños

I made this meal for Aaron last week and he talked about it for days. It was really that good. I kind of riffed on the dressing because I had forgotten to pick up ranch dressing mix at the store. Instead I mixed equal parts of prepared ranch dressing and green salsa with the juice of one lime and a couple of tablespoons chopped cilantro. It was delicious, and really added a great flavor to the taquitos. The jalapeños were fun because there were two out of five peppers that I used that were much spicier than the rest. It was kind of like jalapeño roulette for your tastebuds!

WednesdayCorn on the Cob, Caprese Salad, Fried Zucchini, Foccacia

This meal was so good we’ve had it twice. For the foccacia – instead of following the recipe in that post, I did the following. I bought some frozen pizza dough from the local market and after it thawed I spread it on a greased pan and let it rise for 30 minutes. Then I used my fingers to make some dents in the dough, brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled on some fresh minced garlic. I baked it at 425 degrees for about 13 minutes (until it was brown around the edges, but it might be different in your non-ancient oven).

ThursdayChicken Bacon Stuffed Pizza Rolls, Salad

Since my last attempt at these rolls was so delicious, I decided to try this version. I haven’t made them yet, but I’m guessing they can’t be horrible.

FridaySmoky Beef Tacos with all the fixin’s

So, if you guessed Tex-Mex was my craving, you’re right. I’m even headed out to the Mexican restaurant across the street for lunch today. My PMS is killer this month. (Sorry for talking about that in a food post.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dinner Party

We’re finally having a couple of friends over for dinner tonight (and to show off the new house). We’ve been wanting to have people over for a while now, but the summer has been crazy busy, and our best friends work schedules that are fairly opposite ours. However, they finally have a weekend off at the same time we do, so it’s on!

The female half of the couple is a vegetarian, so that of course had a large influence on what I decided to serve, as did the fact that our kitchen is overflowing with fresh seasonal vegetables that are so ripe they don’t last for long and need used right away. So tonight I’m serving:

*Caprese Salad

*Fresh baked foccacia

*Fried Zucchini

*Fresh Corn on the Cob

*my favorite Vinho Verde - Famega

*and for dessert – Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie a la Mode

This should be an excellent dinner. I can’t wait to eat!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Best Go-To Dessert - Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Pies

For my job we do a yearly community service project. This year we’re sprucing up a rec room at a local homeless shelter, so to raise money for supplies we held a bake sale. I’m sort of known around the office for my baked goods, so I feel like I have to go all out to live up to expectations. However, I’ve also been really busy this week and came down with a horrible headache the night before, so I needed something quick, easy, and delicious. Let me just say, you can never go wrong with chocolate chip cookie pie. Since I needed something that packaged well for the bake sale, I decided to follow the lead of the ladies from Our Best Bites, and make bite-sized pies. They turned out wonderfully, and sold out first.

The full-sized pie is just as awesome, and we’re baking it again this Friday for when we have guests over. You seriously can never go wrong by making this pie for dessert. Or by topping it with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce.

I used the filling from the first recipe and the technique from the second. It worked beautifully.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Pies

1 recipe pie crust (or one refrigerated pie crust)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Roll out pie crust fairly thin, and use a glass or round cookie cutter, about 2.5 in diameter, to cut out small crusts. Place a crust in each cup of a mini muffin pan and press to mold to the cup.

Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts.

Fill each crust with a tablespoon of the filling. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown. (With my messed-up oven it only took about 16 minutes, but I’m sure any normal oven (like the one we’re going to buy tonight!) will take about 20 minutes.)

Raw Beet & Carrot Slaw

This recipe served two purposes for me this week – it used up a lot of CSA vegetables that needed using up, and it also justified my purchase of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to Aaron, who gets annoyed because I, “keep buying cookbooks, but don’t ever use them.” That’s pretty much a direct quote. I’ve been on a printed-recipe ban for a while now. He gets annoyed too about all the recipes lying around, all the extra paper that I use, when I have “those perfectly good cookbooks sitting right there.” I think he should just be appreciative that I feel creative about cooking for him, am I right?

Anyway, rant aside, we loved this salad. It was the perfect accompaniment to the pot stickers, and we ate almost the whole salad in one sitting. It sounds kind of weird, but it’s delicious. I promise.

Raw Beet & Carrot Slaw

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

· ½ pound beets, peeled and shredded

· ½ pound carrots, shredded

· ¼ of a medium red onion, shredded

· Salt and freshly ground black pepper

· 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste

· 1 tablespoon minced ginger

· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

· 2 tablespoons lime juice

· Minced cilantro

· Combine beets, carrots, and red onion in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients except the cilantro cilantro. Toss with the vegetables, sprinkle the cilantro over top, and serve.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aaron's Enchiladas

I started cooking for Aaron fairly early in our relationship; a habit he is very happy that I both started and have continued through the eight and a half years (!) we’ve been together. The first dish I made was lasagna, and he hated it. Then later, I made a pork tenderloin that was completely over-done, accompanied by what he still likes to tease me about to this day: pork jelly. I way over-thickened the gravy. It was spreadable (and disgusting!).

One day he had a craving for enchiladas and our favorite Mexican place was closed for the day, so I thought I’d try to whip something up. He was nervous, but agreed. I found a recipe online, made my list, went to the store, started cooking, and it turned out to be a success! This was the first meal not out of a box that I ever successfully made all by myself. I was 22. Since that day I’ve obviously found my groove in the kitchen and can whip up all manner of delicious dishes (if I do say so myself. Others agree.), but Aaron still requests this dish. We’ve made a few tweaks based on the enchiladas he ate at his Mexican neighbor’s house as a kid (and these tweaks are weird, but they work, I promise), but they still taste pretty much the same as that first time. I made these last week, and he was so excited he could hardly stand it. He had trouble stopping himself from eating the whole pan, but he did just so he could have leftovers for lunch the next day.

We usually serve these topped with sour cream, a little shredded lettuce, and chopped tomatoes. Sides typically include Spanish Rice (-a-roni) or corn bread. It’s not the healthiest meal ever, but it sure is delicious. It also doesn’t make a ton, but it definitely doubles well.

Aaron’s Enchiladas

1 large can enchilada sauce

½ lb. ground beef

2 c. (8 oz.) shredded cheddar (or other cheese of your choice)

1 medium-sized potato, peeled and cut into small cubes (about ½ c. after chopped)

¼ c. green peas

8 corn tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a frying pan, brown beef. Drain off excess fat. Add ½ c. of the enchilada sauce and 1 c. of the cheese. Keep warm.

3. Steam or boil peas and potatoes. When potatoes are fork-tender, add this to the meat mixture and stir to combine.

4. Assemble: In a clean frying pan, heat 1 T. oil. One at a time, add a tortilla and fry about 10 seconds on each side, just until the tortilla is soft and flexible. Don’t overcook these – they’ll get hard and you won’t be able to roll the enchiladas. Remove the tortilla from the pan and spread about a teaspoon of the remaining sauce over the top of the tortilla. Top with 1/8th of the meat mixture (about 3 Tbsp.), roll, and place seam-side down in a slightly greased casserole dish (9x13 is too large, the next size down if what I use – I think 8x10?). Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling until all enchiladas are rolled. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top of all enchiladas.

5. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, top with remaining cheese, and bake for 2 – 5 minutes more, depending on how melted/browned you like your cheese. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving, because they’ll be piping hot and it’s hard to resist digging in right away!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Meal Planning 8.17.09

Hey! I’m actually doing this for once! It’s been a hell of a month, and I’m just finally starting to feel caught up. Or at least caught up enough to plan meals again. So, here we go!

Monday: Enchiladas, leftover Southwestern Black Bean Salad

One of Aaron’s main complaints about my cooking (not that he has many, nor should he since I provide him with healthy, delicious meals on a near-daily basis and he probably doesn’t want me to stop, which I might do if he complains), is that I cook so many different things, that he can’t remember what he liked. One recipe he does like, one I started making for him pretty early in our relationship, is my enchiladas. They’re really easy, full of flavor, and even have a couple of unusual ingredients as requested by him. I’ll post the recipe later (I’m trying to break things up so I have more (and more regular) content), and it’s so quick and easy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try them soon (except if you don’t eat meat, because they’re quite beefy).

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Salad

This was just a throw-together, but it was quite delicious. I used some chicken breasts that I basted in BBQ sauce while grilling, chopped it up, and served it on top of a salad made of romaine, corn, black beans, red onion, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and bacon. I topped mine with ranch, Aaron topped his with honey mustard dressing, and both were equally delicious.

Wednesday: Vegetarian Pot Stickers, Raw Beet & Carrot Slaw

After a day of failed cooking and baking yesterday (my ice cream failed to freeze – I don’t think I chilled it long enough – and we managed to burn a batch of cherry-almond blondies (which were still delicious, and you’ll get the recipe soon)), I was scared for the pot stickers, but they turned out amazingly delicious, as usual. My only edit to this recipe is that I use wonton wrappers. I put the filling in the middle of the wrapper, and then fold the wrapper in half, sealing the three edges. So, my pot stickers don’t really look like normal pot stickers, but that doesn’t mean they’re not really, really tasty. (Oh, and we also use sriracha instead of sambal in the dipping sauce, but I’m not sure it makes that much of a difference).

Also more delicious than I expected was the Raw Beet & Carrot Slaw. That recipe will be coming soon as well.

Thursday: Stuffed Pizza Rolls, Salad

A couple of weeks ago, Cassie sent me the link for a recipe on Our Best Bites, and I’ve been practically drooling over the site ever since. The stuffed pizza rolls made it to the top of my “to-try” list, and I made them this past weekend. To say they were a hit would be a little bit of an understatement, even if I did mess them up because I apparently suck at multiplying. Aaron loved them because I filled them with his favorite pizza toppings (ham and pineapple), and Gabbie loved dipping the cheese-only version I made for her in the tomato sauce (and then licking off the sauce and dipping them again, until she ran out of sauce, at which point she actually and finally ate the rolls). These were very good.

Friday: Hot Dogs w/Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce, Cucumber Salad, Pasta Salad

We (maybe embarrassingly) eat a lot of hot dogs and sausages around our place in the summer. Our usual is hot dogs with ketchup and onions (me), chili, onions, and mustard (Aaron), or a plain soy dog (Gabbie). However, sometimes the usual is just too boring to handle, so we need to try something different. Enter the recipe from Cassie’s site for hot dogs w/Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce. We loved it! And I keep thinking of other ways I can use up the sauce (see the above BBQ chicken), because it made quite a bit. Even Gabbie loved to dip her soy dog in the sauce. That kid is a dipping fool these days!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chili-Lime Salmon with Southwestern Black Bean Salad

Man, oh, man is this poor website neglected lately. Between being sick, daycare emergencies, and trying to find a darned pair of sandals in August, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy and out of the kitchen. I swear I’m going back in there soon though. All of those CSA vegetables won’t cook themselves, so someone has to get on in there!

This recipe, however, has nothing to do with any CSA vegetables, but it is pretty darn delicious. I’ve been trying to eat much healthier lately (which has been working oh-so-well, especially since the scale was up this morning at my doctor’s appointment – darn!), and have been mostly succeeding. This meal is definitely very healthy, and we enjoyed it just as much as the non-healthy meals we sometimes eat. Not only that, it’s simple, and there’s a very minimal amount of cooking or chopping required.

First, make this Southwestern Black Bean Salad. It’s easy, and wonderfully fresh tasting. Amy pointed me in the direction of that website, and I’ve been drooling over the wonderful, and healthy, recipes ever since. Even Gabbie loved this, although she did separate out all the different items and made sure we got every speck of cilantro (it’s green! Get it away!) off of her plate before eating it. Plus, beans are her favorite food and one of the only non-dairy sources of protein we get in her, so this was perfect.

Then, make the following salmon recipe and serve it along side. We all ate this too, even though I don’t usually like fish and Gabbie had never eaten any before, and enjoyed it a lot.

Voila! A delicious, healthy meal is done in a hurry!

Chili-Lime Salmon

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. salmon filets

Juice of ½ lime



Chili powder

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Squeeze lime juice over flesh side of filets. Season with salt, pepper, and a generous amount of chili powder. When pan is hot, add olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the fish, flesh side down, and cook to create a nice crust. Flip over and cook until the fish is cooked through. Serve aside Southwestern Black Bean Salad.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Delicious Links

I’m constantly coming across blogs, articles, and recipes that look amazing, but rarely do anything with them. Since I’m not the only one who would probably enjoy these, I thought I’d share them here!

-I’m dying to try these Pie Lollipops that I first read about over at Not Martha, and then again when the always awesome Bakerella made them. Now if only I had the time…

-Not once do I go over to Tastespotting and come away without being either inspired or very hungry. This morning was no exception. These Jalapeno Cheddar Turkey Burgers look amazing, not to mention they would be a great way to use up some of the many jalapeno peppers currently residing in my kitchen.

-Between my parents, grandparents, and the CSA, I have so many vegetables I don’t know what to do with them. As I mentioned the other day, part of my bounty is cucumbers. Lots and lots of cucumbers. Last night I made Mark Bittman’s Kosher Pickles the Right Way, but I have no idea how they turned out yet, other than the fact they made my kitchen smell like garlic and dill. Next time I might try something like this recipe for freezer pickles, since they’ll last much longer than the pickles I made last night. Then I’m going to take a page from Deb’s book and start pickling any other vegetables that will stand up to it. It’s going to be a pickled August in our house!

-Finally, Gabbie has a deep and abiding love for frozen desserts. She’s not picky; she’ll eat ice cream, popsicles, and even frozen pieces of fruit, but she wants something every night. So, I figure it’s up to me to make it at least slightly healthy. I’ve been seeing recipes for yogurt popsicles (like these, for example) everywhere, and am thinking since I have quarts upon quarts of berries that need to be used, and quick, that it’s time to buy a popsicle mold and get to freezing. Man, is there anything better than all the fresh produce available this time of year?

-Other fun links:

*I can’t wait home and get to my DVR to see how the chefs on Top Chef Masters handled this! (Episode recap, that I’m not reading even though I love spoilers, here.)

*Cookie Scandal! I, too, tasted the Tagalong “knock-off” at Blogher, and it really did taste just like the real thing.

*Go Michigan! Seriously, though, Traverse City is one of my favorite places in the world, even before the food started to get so amazing. I can’t wait to get back up there – I mean, I do have a 5 year anniversary coming up!

*We went here for breakfast last Sunday, and it was so delicious I’ve been day-dreaming about it ever since. Eggs Benedict FTW! Their hollandaise sauce is made of magic, I swear.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cucumber Salad

Growing up summers were spent eating mostly fresh vegetables from my parents’ ½ acre garden. Eating seasonally is not new to me, that is for sure. We would eat whatever we could from the current crops and then freeze or can the rest. Right now is smack dab in the middle of green bean and cucumber season, and so I just froze a huge batch of green beans from my parents’ garden and we’ve been eating cucumber salad like it’s going out of style. I’m going to quick pickle the rest tomorrow, and if they turn out well I’ll definitely share the recipe.

But back to that cucumber salad. This is one of my favorites, and although Aaron gets tired of it after a week or two of having it at every dinner, I don’t think I ever get tired of this salad. It’s quick, easy, crisp, and tangy. Most of all, it’s a delicious way to use up cucumbers when you have so many they’re nearly literally coming out of your ears.

Cucumber Salad

1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

½ a small onion or one shallot, very thinly sliced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ Tbsp cider vinegar

2 tsp sugar

salt and pepper

Place the sliced cucumbers and onion in a bowl. Top with remaining ingredients, toss to coat, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This is even better the next day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Meal Planning - Sort Of (8.3.09)

I’m going to admit to you all that I am behind, and so there isn’t really a Monday Meal Planning post for today. Usually I post the previous week’s plan so that I make sure I’m not passing along any recipe duds, but last week itself was a big fat dud and I’m still getting caught up. So, instead, I thought I’d post five recipes that have been sitting on my to-cook list for a while – recipes that look amazing, but that, for some reason, I have yet to prepare. If you decide to try any of them, please tell me how they turn out! And I’ll try to work these into my meal plans sometime soon so that I can let you all know too.

Without further ado:

1. I’ve been wanting to try Nonni’s Tomato Sauce from Food on the Food for a while now. I love homemade sauce, and this one sounds wonderful.

2. Migas (from Simply Recipes) – Sounds like a perfect brinner (breakfast for dinner) recipe!

3. Pollo Fundido – this is so not on my diet right now, but it sounds DELICIOUS!

4. Crockpot Chicken Makhani – Crockpot? Indian? Butter (it’s Indian Butter Chicken)? Sign me up!

5. Crockpot Hickory Smoked Brisket – This just sounds like a cool thing to try. Plus, I love brisket. Now I just need to work on coming up with a house bbq sauce and we’ll be all set!

I’ll be better next week I promise. And, not only that, my recipes are about to get a heck of a lot healthier, because momma is going on a much-needed diet.


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