Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Planning Monday - March 1, 2010

Back to trying to plan and make meals - with two little ones! Yikes.

No links this week, all recipes coming from magazines or recipes in regular rotation.

This gets us most of the way through next week too, along with some meal deliveries from good friends (thank you!!) and some freezer meals.

-Chicken parmigiana, spaghetti, and asparagus
-Cozy Quinoa Casserole
-Tortellini Florentine Soup
-Hawaiian Chicken, rice, and green beans
-Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
-Breakfast for Dinner - Waffle Casserole
-Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant
-Zucchini, Sausage, and Feta Casserole and spinach
-Tuna Noodle Casserole and salad

-Peanut Butter Banana Bread
-Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
-Pumpkin Cream Cake

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Menu Planning Monday - February 8, 2010

Last pre-baby menu plan, so the goal here is quick, easy, and low mess!

-College dinner (wholewheat pasta with lean ground beef, pasta sauce, and frozen mixed vegetables)
-Wholewheat pasta with white beans and sauteed spinach, tossed with olive oil, parmesan, and black pepper
-Refried bean, cream cheese, cilantro, and corn quesadillas
-Easy chicken parm (made with breaded chicken) and bag salad
-Buffalo chicken sandwiches with carrots and celery
-Shrove Tuesday pancakes (English tradition for Mardi Gras)
-Windy City Pie (from March/April issue of Clean Eating magazine) - I had to try one new thing this week :)


-Pancakes and applesauce
-Baked oatmeal
-Fruit, yogurt, and granola
-Cinnamon rolls
-Egg in a hole

-Almond Butter Chocolate Chip cookies (for toddler birthday party)
-Pudding cookies (for hospital)

-Cheese sticks
-Fresh fruit
-Trail mix
-Granola bars

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Quick Lunch - Cheater's Salmon Chowder

Bean and I wanted a quick hot lunch, and after eating some pretty fake food at the Aquarium yesterday, I wanted it to be homemade. I adapted an already quick chowder recipe to be even faster. This whips up in 15 minutes - great for sneaking in pre-naptime!

Is it scary that I went to the Aquarium yesterday and today am cooking fish? :)

Salmon Chowder (adapted from a Robin Miller Quick Fix Meals recipe)
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tbsp butter
-1/2 onion, finely shopped
-1 container (4 cups) fish stock (this was a little more liquid than my preference - I would probably use half the stock next time)
-1 can diced potatoes
-1 can crisp sweet corn kernels
-1 can pink salmon
-1 can low fat evaporated milk

-In a medium soup pot, saute onion in olive oil and butter until softened and lightly browned
-Stir in tarragon and saute an additional minute
-Add drained and rinse cans of potatoes and corn and saute 30 seconds
-Add fish stock, bring to a boil, and simmer five minutes
-Lower heat to medium-low
-Add drained salmon and evaporated milk and cook an additional 2-5 minutes

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cherry Dump Cake

I want to hate this, because it's so, so unhealthy. But it's so, so, SO good.

I had originally rethought my plan and was going to make a crisp with a topping from scratch, but after celebrating Bean's birthday today I just didn't have the energy. And yet . . . I still had the craving!

Back to the initial plan of a dump cake, and - one hour and 2 STICKS (yes, 2 sticks) of butter later - I'm in heaven.

Our friend Nate gave us a butter slicer. It may be the best food gift ever, especially for projects like this!

Cherry Dump Cake (Source: Cooking with Carrie)
-2 cans cherry pie filling (I did a little taste test between store brands from my local grocery stores, and, while they both tasted about the same, one had about twice as many cherries in it!)
-1 yellow cake mix
-2 sticks butter

-Preheat oven to 350
-Grease a 13x9 pan and spread pie filling across bottom of pan
-Sprinkle cake mix evenly over top
-Slice butter and lay it evenly over cake mix
-Bake 50 minutes until golden, crispy, and bubbly
-Enjoy with ice cream or cool whip

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cilantro Succotash Quesadillas

This is one of my favorite dinners I've made in a while. It was super fast and convenient and yet totally fresh and healthy. Tasted like a summer meal, even though it certainly doesn't feel like summer out. Brrrrr!

We make quesadillas a lot and I usually do them in a pan. Baking them really helped to keep the loose filling from falling out.

We served these with guacamole and Mishke had black bean dip also.

Cilantro Succotash Quesadillas (inspired by Big Girls, Small Kitchen)
-One frozen bag Trader Joe's Soycutash (recipe suggests making your own using 5 ozs frozen edamame, 15 ozs can corn, and 1/2 small red onion, chopped)
-One 15 ozs can black eyed peas (recipe uses black beans)
-One lime, freshly squeezed
-1/4 cup chopped cilantro
-Few handfuls shredded cheddar jack
-8 wholewheat tortillas

-Preheat oven to 350
Cook soycutash as directed on package and drain in a colander
-To the colander, add can of beans and rinse thoroughly
-Squeeze lime over and mix in cilantro
-Lay tortillas on two cookie sheets without overlapping
-Divide filling mixture evenly among tortillas, spreading only on half of each tortilla
-Fold over and bake until browned and crispy

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hula Joes

(Subtitle: This actually IS a 30 minute meal!)

I like Rachel Ray's recipes and her magazine, though I'm not a fan of her show. But it always seems to take me way longer than 30 minutes to whip up one of her 30 minute meals. (they also make the largest four servings I have ever seen.)

This one actually came together really fast.And it was SO, so good. Sweet and tangy and delicious! We served it on challah rolls with steamed baby carrots.

Hula Joes (Source: Rachel Ray, as found on Real Mom Kitchen)
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/4 lb smoked ham
-1 1/2 lb ground pork (I only had a pound so used extra ham)
-Chopped sweet onion (recipe calls for 1, I used about 1/3)
-Minced garlic
-3 tbsp brown sugar
-3 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
-1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
-1 cup tomato sauce
-1 cup pineapple tidbits, halved, or fresh chopped pineapple

-Saute ham in olive oil in a large skillet until browned, then remove and set aside
-Add pork to pan and cook until browned and cooked through
-Add onion and garlic and cook until softened and translucent
-Return ham to pan
-In a medium bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, worcestershire, and tomato sauce
-Add to skillet and cook for one minute until bubbling
-Add pineapple and stir to thoroughly combine
-Serve on split rolls

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lemon Cookies

These cookies remind me of my SIL Janie. She's the queen of the cake mix cookie. Her funfetti cookies are to die for.

These are light and squishy and zesty. It's kind of strange to me to make a baked good where the only "real" ingredient is an egg, which is added to two processed food products, but they are a great once-in-a-while treat.

Lemon Cookies (Not sure where I originally got these from; I think from a WW message board, but I just found them again on
-One box lemon cake mix
-2 cups cool whip
-One large egg
-Powdered sugar for rolling

-Preheat oven to 350
Mix the cake mix, cool whip, and egg until it forms cookie dough consistency
-Drop by spoonfuls into powdered sugar and roll to coat
-Place on greased baking sheet, well spaced, and bake 13ish minutes
-Cookies will still be soft

Peachy Chicken

Only I would look at a blog I like, see a recipe labeled "Recipe Flop" and decide to try it. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the fruit-meat combo (I can picture my friend CRAJ cringing at this . . . she abhors "hot fruit.")

The verdict? I didn't hate it, but it won't be a regular in our house. Mishke didn't dig the taste of the onion soup in it. My biggest issue was the sodium, especially after yesterday's dinner. But I liked the combination of peaches and chicken. It kind of reminded me of something I used to buy in a jar in college (anyone remember Chicken Tonight? "I feel like Chicken Tonight!" Man was that stuff good.)

I didn't get to make the au gratin potatoes, because I was planning on making this dish another night this week and was short an ingredient. Sadly, the other dish was sabotaged by a breadcrumb challenge. So I made it with plain rice, and was too busy making cookies to come up with a veggie. Good thing I had a massive salad for lunch . . .

Peachy Chicken (Found at Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi, originally from Taste of Home)
-1 lb chicken breasts (I used tenders)
-1 tbsp oil
-1 tbsp butter
-1 15ozs can peached, undrained (mine were in syrup)
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 cup orange juice
-1 envelope onion soup mix (I used mushroom onion)

-Bown chicken in oil and butter a large skillet over medium heat
-Remove chicken and keep warm
-Add the peaches and their liquid, sugar, orange juice and soup mix to the skillet
-Bring to a boil for 2 minutes
-Reduce heat, return chicken to the pan and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, ensuring that chicken is thoroughly cooked

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Supper: Crockpot Italian Beef, Oven Browned Potatoes, & Green Beans

I was kind of sad this weekend. I'd been saving the weekend for months as the weekend I was going to go to Chicago to see our close friends before the baby comes, and it was not meant to be. Whenever they come visit us, they bring Novi's roast beef. It's one of my absolute favorite things (and I am NOT typically a roast beef kind of girl.)

So in the spirit of my missed Chicago trip, Sunday dinner is Italian beef sandwiches (made in the crockpot), with green beans and oven browned potatoes.

If the green beans look a tad insipid in this picture, well . . . they were. Sometimes digging through the freezer yields things better left uncovered!

Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches (Source: Lisa's Cooking Spot)
-3-5lb beef roast (I used a 4.25lb chuck which was on sale - yay!)
-1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
-3 beef bouillon cubes
-3 cups water
-Seasoning (I used red pepper flakes and Mrs Dash table blend)

-Place roast in crockpot stoneware and turn on
-In a small saucepan heat Italian dressing mix, bouillon, water, and seasoning on high
-Boil for three minutes, then remove from heat and pour over roast
-Cook 5 hours on high
-Remove beef and shred, returning to slow cooker (at this point I mixed in 1/2 jar of banana peppers)
-Serve on hard rolls with as much juice as desired

Oven Browned Potatoes (Source:
-2lbs new potatoes, quartered, skin on
-3 tbsp olive oil
-Seasoning (I used steak seasoning)

-Preheat oven to 45o
-In a medium bowl, mix potatoes, oil, and seasoning (I coated the bowl with oil first, then added half the potatoes and drizzled with oil, then the remainder, drizzled again, and tossed with tongs)
-Spread in a single layer in a 13x9 pan, and bake for 30 minutes
-Flip potatoes and cook an additional 20 minutes

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Menu Planning Monday - February 1, 2010

We're having a baby this month! YIKES! :)

Freezer cooking is officially done, although the freezer purging continues. I picked up a Groupon for a local meal prep service, so will be picking up four meals, a couple sides and some cookie dough next week, and that will fill the freezer to capacity. Yay! Mission (almost) accomplished!

I skipped a few things on last week's menu. Sadly, the commuting got in the way of the cooking this past week.

-Hula joes and baby carrots
-Vegetable curry with injera
-Fiesta stuffed chicken, sour cream rice, and beans
-Maple-glazed chicken and zesty vegetable side dish
-Italian Roast Beef sandwiches with green beans and potatoes
-Cilantro succotash quesadillas
-Peachy chicken, au gratin potatoes, and broccoli


-Strawberry Granola Bake
-Overnight Baked Oatmeal
-Instant Oatmeal
-Crumpets with butter and jelly
-Fruit, yogurt, and cereal

-Chocolate Silk Pie! For real this time! (this has been on the menu for 3 weeks now, and it's one of my favorites so I'd better make it.)
-Cherry Dump Cake
-Lemon Cookies (making a double batch to share with the L&D nurses)
-Bean's Birthday cake if we manage to pull off his celebration this weekend

-Cheese sticks

Friday, January 29, 2010

One for the Freezer: Kale and Pinto Enchiladas

These were some seriously green enchiladas! They were also a great source of vegetarian protein and iron. Yumm.

We doubled the recipe and froze half.

Kale and Pinto Enchiladas (Source: Found on Cate's World Kitchen, originally sourced from Daily Unadventures in Cooking )
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-Diced green chiles
-1 tsp cumin
-2 small zucchini, grated
-1 bunch curly kale, chopped
-1 rinsed can pinto beans
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
-1 can enchilada verde sauce (if you prefer red sauce there is a great recipe at the link)
-12 small corn tortillas
-Couple handfuls jack cheese

-Preheat oven to 350
-Saute garlic in a large skillet in a little olive oil
-Add jalapenos, cumin, and zucchini and saute a few minutes
-Add chopped kale and saute until slightly wilted
-Remove from heat and stir in pintos, cilantro, and a little enchilada sauce
-Place a layer of sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 pan
-Warm the tortillas in a single layer in the oven for 1 minute
-Fill each tortilla with a little filling before rolling and placing seam-side down in the prepared pan
-Top enchiladas with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese
-Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes

Recipe Save: Penne a la Betsey

This recipe is famous around the cooking blogs. It's from the Pioneer Woman, who is very funny, and takes great photos, and now has a cookbook.

The recipe is delicious. Unfortunately, my usual "oops, forgot an ingredient here and there" nearly killed it.

Turned out I didn't have a can of tomato sauce so I subsituted well-drained diced tomatoes. At least, I thought they were well drained, until the sauce turned into pink liquid. I thought it was ruined until Mishke suggested using half a can of tomato paste. It thickened it up and made the sauce the perfect velvety texture I was hoping for.

Between this dish and shrimp cocktail the next day, the giant sack of shrimp is no more!

Penne a la Betsey (Source: The Pioneer Woman, the below reflects a couple changes from the additional recipe based on what we had/like, but sticks with the original tomato sauce plan, because it works way better than our method did!)
-3/4 lb penne pasta
-1 lb shrimp
--3 tbsp butter
-3 tbsp olive oil
-2 cloves minced garlic
-1/2 cup white wine (used Martini Bianco)
-1 can tomato sauce
-1 cup heavy cream
-Chopped fresh herbs - PW recommends parsley and basil, we had cilantro on hand
-Salt and pepper to taste

-Put water on to boil and cook pasta until al dente
-Meanwhile, cook the peeled shrimp in a 1 tbsp each butter and olive oil until opaque and pink.
-Remove from heat, and finely chop
-Heat the remaining oil and butter in the skillet, add garlic and saute
-Add white wine and allow to reduce
-Stir in tomato sauce and cream to warm through, then reduce the heat
-Add the herbs and return the chopped shrimp to the pan
-Drain the pasta and toss together with the sauce

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Raspberry Granola Bake

Excuse the sad, blurry cellphone picture.

I will be making this ALL the time from here on out.

It's maybe my ideal breakfast. It's fruit, it's granola, it's warm, it fills you up, it kind of tastes like dessert for breakfast. YUM! And it is so easy to throw together.

Raspberry Granola Breakfast Bake (Source: Lynn's Kitchen Adventures)
-6 cups granola (Side note: I bought 2 boxes of almond granola because the nutritional information said that it contained nine 2/3 cup servings and I thought I wouldn't have enough. It was only when I got home that I realized that IS, in fact, 6 cups. Math has never been my strong point.)
-1.5 cups milk
-Up to 1/2 cup brown sugar - I didn't add any because my granola was sweet already
-One bag frozen raspberries (three-ish cups frozen fruit - recipe suggests blueberries.)

-The night before you plan to eat this, mix granola, milk, and frozen fruit in a greased 13x9 pan
-Cover and refrigerate
-In the morning, turn on oven to 350
-Cover pan with foil and place into the oven as it is heating
-Bake for 30 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crockpot Guinness Beef Stew

I'm not sure what it was about this stew - it's not particularly zesty or flavorful. It just has an amazing comfort food texture, and I can't stop eating it.

It uses 3lbs of beef, so I was relieved chuck stew was on sale at Whole Foods. I had to adapt the recipe a tad due to the usual "oops, I forgot a couple ingredients" drama. The below reflects how I made it.

Crockpot Guinness Beef Stew (Source: Mille Fiori Favoriti)
-3 lbs chuck stew meat
-1 cup flour
-3 cloves chopped garlic
-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
-4 potatoes, chopped
-2 tbsp tomato paste
-1 bottle Guinness Stout
-1 cup beef broth (I used 1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water)

-Dredge the meat with flour until evenly coated
-In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the beef in a little oil until evenly browned
-While meat is cooking, add vegetables to crockpot stoneware and turn on low setting
-Place browned meat over vegetables
-Mis tomato paste, stout, and broth in a medium bowl, and pour over contents of crockpot
-Cook on low 8 hours

One for the Freezer: Veggie Pie

This post should be subtitled "Bedrest Cooking." I sat down to make it so I don't feel like I cheated too badly . . .

No picture for this one, because the picture on the site where I found the recipe does it way more justice!

I used storebought wholewheat crusts rather than making my own, so I am just including the filling recipe below. The original posting includes a crust recipe that sounds like I could even get over my fear of making pastry from scratch! (I also removed onion and substituted cilantro - the recipe below reflects the way I made it.)

This recipe includes mayo. I can officially say I have never before now cooked with mayo twice in one week.

We made two and both went in the freezer.

Veggie Pie (Source: Eat at Home, adapted from the Whole Foods for the Whole Family cookbook)
-Wholewheat frozen pie crust
-2 cups chopped broccoli (I used frozen)
-2 sliced tomatoes
-1/4 cup-ish chopped cilantro
-1/3 cup mayonnaise
-1 cup shredded cheddar blend

-Preheat oven to 450
Steam broccoli until crisp tender
-Fill bottom of pie crust with broccoli
-Arrange tomato slices on top and sprinkle with cilantro
-Spread mayonnaise in thin layer across the filling
-Top with shredded cheddar
-Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes

Menu Planning Monday - January 25, 2010

Making extra for the freezer has been going well, and we've ramped up the urgency since getting the impression that we may have less time than we expected before baby arrives.

The problem is figuring out where to put everything, so the other meals this week need to use up some of the big things currently taking up room in the freezer. Ergo, this is not the healthiest menu ever created :)

We have quite a few things carried over from last week in this week's menu. Asterisks denote meals to be doubled and frozen

-Funky Lime Pizza
-4 Cheese Baked Penne* and salad
-Pinto Kale Enchiladas*
-Curly Kale Hodgepodge
-Penne a la Betsey
-Duggars' Tater Tot Casserole* (yes, there are Tater Tots that need using up in our freezer . . .) and green beans
-Chicken Tetrazzini* and spinach salad


-Raspberry Granola Breakfast Bake
-Overnight Baked Oatmeal*
-French Toast sticks and Clementines
-Cold cereal
-Peanut Butter Toast and Apples
-Banana nut pancakes*
-Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins*

-Cheese sticks
-Peanut butter crackers
-Granola bars

-Birthday Cake
-Chocolate Silk Pie


-Peanut Butter Snack Bread
-Whole Wheat Pizza Dough*

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tot in the Kitchen: Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes are awesome.

I think buttermilk is the secret ingredient that makes pancakes work, and now that I have cake flour I was able to get a combo that easily made fluffy delicious pancakes.

Bean helped me stir and "dump" ingredients (and "chop" and "chunk," although I'm not thoroughly sure either action was required.) He really wanted to add his cereal to it for a special touch, but I decided that raisin bran might not be my favorite add-in.

He calls pancakes "penkens." So enjoy these penkens!

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes (Source: The Train to Crazy, originally from RecipeZaar)
-1 cup cake flour
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 beaten egg
-1 cup buttermilk
-1/4 stick melted butter
-We added fresh blueberries as they cooked

-Mix dry ingredients
-Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined
-Cook on greased griddle over medium/low heat
-Add blueberries before flipping

Note: This recipe is pretty small. We doubled it to get enough to freeze. If you have more than three people in your family I would plan to double it.

Tot in the Kitchen: Surprise Carrot Cake

Mishke's birthday, and he loves carrot cake, so Bean and I decided to spend some time tonight making a mess/birthday surprise while he was at work. I found the recipe on the flour box! (after I bought cake flour for this recipe.)

It is a super-moist cake! I wound up using store bought frosting, because I was worried my cream cheese frosting would rip holes in the top of the cake. And because by the time I got to frosting it all I could think about was sleeeeeep.

Happy Birthday my Love!

I have a picture of the finished product but suddenly my computer will not let me upload the picture . . .

Surprise Carrot Cake (Source: Pilsbury Softasilk Cake Flour)
-2 1/4 cups Softasilk Cake Flour
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp ground allspice or ginger (I used pumpkin pie spice)
-3/4 cup mayonnaise (I was short an egg so used an extra 3 tbsp mayo)
-3 large eggs
-1 8oxs can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
-2 cups finely shredded carrots
-3/4 cup chopped pecans

-Preheat oven to 350
-Grease and flour two 9" cake pans
-Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl (flour through allspice)
-Mix mayonnaise, eggs, and pineapple in a large bowl
-Gradually add dry mixture, beating until well combined
-Add carrots and pecans and mix well
-Pour into prepared pans and bake for 28 mins
-Remove and allow to cool fully on cooling rack before frosting

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One for the Freezer: Chicken and Dumplings

Today was a day calling out for comfort food, and this hit the spot bigtime (especially because Mishke made it and I didn't lift a finger!) We made it in a 6 quart slowcooker and it was pretty full, so we had enough for dinner, lunch tomorrow, and leftovers in the freezer.

This is the first time that we made the homemade cream-of substititute. I definitely intend to use that again. Way lower sodium, and great taste!

Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings (Source: The Crockpot Lady - love her!)
-3lbs chicken thighs (recipe called for boneless. We used bone-in, and it was plenty of meat.)
-1 cup mushrooms
-1 16ozs bag frozen mixed vegetables
-1/2 stick butter
-6 tbsp flour
-1 cup milk
-1 cup chicken broth
-Seasoning salt and pepper
-1 tube biscuits (we used Immaculate Baking Company)

-Place chicken, mushrooms, and veggies in the bottom of the crockpot
-In a skillet, melt butter
-Add flour, stirring to make a roux, then add milk, chicken broth, and seasoning
-Pour sauce over contents of crockpot
-Cook on high 5 hours
-Remove chicken, shred, and mix back into sauce and veggies
-Lay biscuits over top
-Cook on high an additional hour until biscuits are puffy, cooked, and a little brown

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Menu Planning Monday - January 18, 2010

I learned last time that I can't plan longer than one week at a time. I find too many things in the meantime that I want to try, and I'm not good with delayed gratification :) It's slightly longer than normal, though, because I've tacked a weekend on at each end.

And so it begins . . . one month to go until baby, and starting to stock the freezer with this week's meal plan. (I meant to start this a month ago. Oops. Stay put, baby . . .)

Asterisk denotes recipes that will be doubled and frozen.

-Funky Lime Pizza
-Chicken and Dumplings
-Veggie Pie*
-4 Cheese Baked Penne*
-Guiness Beef Stew
-Steak, Broccoli, and Cheddar Pasta Skillet
-Last Minute Lasagna*
-Pinto Kale Enchiladas*
-Twice Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheddar*
-Curly Kale Hodgepodge


-Black Forest Bars
-Chocolate Silk Pie

-Amish Bread
-Oatmeal Applesauce Bread
-Wholewheat pizza dough*

-Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins*
-Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins*
-Pineapple Carrot Bread*
-Strawberry Pancakes*
-Blueberry Pancakes*
-PB toast and apple
-French toast and yogurt

Amish Bread

This will likely be the first of many bread posts. I got a breadmaker for Christmas - and I am in love! There's nothing like warm, fresh bread in the morning. Or in the afternoon. Or at night . . .

This recipe is my first foray into baking a loaf that was not from either the manual that came with my machine (Cuisinart CBK-100) or the Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Bread Machine Recipes. This meant that I had to actually read the manual to figure out what order to place ingredients and how to convert recipes.

Fingers crossed! It's rising as I type . . .

Amish Bread (Source: ShooseyQ on Allrecipes - the version noted below lists ingredients in the order in which I had to add them to my breadmaker)
-1/4 cup canola oil
-1 cup + 2 tbsp water
-2 3/4 cups bread flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1 tsp active dry yeast

-Add ingredients to breadmaker in order listed above (or as specified by your breadmaker)
-Set to white bread setting, 1 1/2 lb loaf size, medium crust
-Press start, and let your machine do the work!

*Note: the original recipe suggests stopping the machine and resetting after the first rise to allow a full three rising cycles. It seems that many reviewers didn't find that necessary, so I have skipped it. Here's hoping it works.

Update: This bread is delicious! I love the texture and I think it would make a great sandwich bread. The one bummer - for some reason our dishwasher appears not to be rinsing things very well, and so the loaf is infused with a slight lemon soap taste - bleeh.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars

Banana + Chocolate = YUMMMMM!!!

Black Bottom Banana Bars (Source: Bunny's Warm Oven)

-1/2 cup butter
-1 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 cup baking cocoa
-1 cup chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 350

-Cream butter and sugar

-Add egg, vanilla, and bananas, beating thoroughly.

-Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well

-Divide batter in half and add the cocoa to one portion of the batter

-Spread the chocolate portion in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish

-Spoon remaining batter on top and sprinkle with chocolate chips

-Bake 30 minutes

-Cool and cut into squares

Freezer Meal: Black Bean and Corn Chicken Taco Bake

I made this as a test for a freezer meal. If we like it (I'm posting while it's in the oven instead of loading the dishwasher like I should be - but it smells delicious!), I can easily throw together a couple in foil pans, but I'll do it on the day of the week the rotisserie chickens are on sale!

This wasn't on our menu plan for this week. I am bad at planning more than one week at a time. The first week is fine, but by the time I'm into the second week a) I've found a million more recipes I want to make, and b) we seem to have cannibalized the groceries we need for the second week's worth of food. I think for now I should stick to planning a week at a time.

Black Bean and Corn Chicken Taco Bake (Source: Eat At Home Cooks - this awesome site includes weekly menu plans with grocery lists!)
-1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and cut/shredded into bite-sized pieces
-10 small flour tacos
-2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (I used Mexican Jack blend)
-24 ozs black bean and corn salsa (I used 1 16ozs container medium black bean and corn salsa and 1 16ozs container mild chunky salsa)

-Preheat oven to 350
-Mix all ingredients in a greased 13x9 pan (I mixed the mild salsa with the cheese, tacos, and chicken, and then poured the black bean and corn salsa over the top.)
-Bake 45 minutes until hot

I could use some advice - I never know the best way to freeze things. Can I freeze this before cooking (just mix all the ingredients and freeze?) Or should I cook it first?

I Fought the Freezer and the Freezer Won: Apple Cherry Crisp

The lower freezer drawer and I had a little brawl. It won. My lovely friend Zay has been sending me chest freezer links from Craigslist. And I am VERY tempted given our space constraints in the current freezer and my desire to meal-prep pre-babe.

Anyway, the freezer drama resulted in me throwing out (uuuugh . . . money down the drain!!) a whole set of packs of old frozen meat, and finding several other things that I needed to use, stat. Like a half bag of frozen cherries, which I used for this crisp.

I usually eyeball topping ingredients, but this version is adapted from a real recipe. So I measured! Like a real baker!

The one thing I always do with crisps is to only sweeten and spice the topping. I love that the fruit still retains its taste but is sweetened by the topping ingredients. Also, if I just use apples, I always add nuts to the topping.

Apple Cherry Crisp (topping adapted from Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi)
-3 apples (I used Pink Lady, which are much better for eating than cooking but were all that I had on hand
-1/2 lb frozen sweet dark cherries
-1 cup flour
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 cup oats
-1 stick melted butter
-Sprinkling of cinnamon

-Preheat overn to 350
Chop apples (I use a hand chopper and don't bother to peel) and mix with cherries in a 2 quart casserole.
-In a medium bowl, mix topping ingredients
-Sprinkle evenly over fruit
-Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly

Note: the original topping recipe called for baking soda and baking powder. I haven't made a crisp with any rising ingredients in the topping, but I'm interested to try to see if it makes a difference

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Viva la Wooden Spoon! - The World's Best Blondies

So first, the wooden spoons. Despite loving cooking I somehow have lived without a wooden spoon in my home for approximately three years. We got a few for our wedding, and over the first few years of our marriage they gradually got manky and we threw them out. And then somehow I never remembered to buy replacements. Finally, this year, I asked for them for Christmas and my awesome Father-in-Law got me a huge set of wooden implements.

And so to inaugurate them.

There is one recipe I would rather bake than anything else in the world. It has never failed me. I literally make it in the saucepan I melt the butter in. It takes five minutes to throw together. There are infinite variations.

May I present: Mark Bittman/Smitten Kitchen Blondies!

Blondies (Source: Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Mark Bittman - not sure what if anything was changed from the original recipe. Check out the link for some awesome variation ideas, and pretty pics! Her blog makes everything look so delicious!!)

1 stick butter melted
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-Pinch of salt
-1 cup all-purpose flour

-Preheat oven to 350
-Grease an 8×8 pan
-Mix melted butter with brown sugar (I melt the butter in a saucepan and just add the sugar directly) until smooth
-Beat in egg (it hasn't scrambled on me to date.) and vanilla
-Stir in salt and flour, then any additions (My favorite is 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup dried cherries - this time had to use pecans instead of cherries)
-Pour into prepared pan and bake about 20 minutes or until set in the middle. You want to leave them pretty gooey.


I swear eventually I will post pictures again . . .

Feeding the Workers: Tuscan Lentil Soup

I had planned lentil sloppy joes for tonight, but right around when our bathroom painting and floor-laying turned into ripping out walls and floors, and the temperature plunged below 20 degrees, the universe seemed to be crying out for soup- making.

I Google readered (can that be a verb, please?) a lentil soup recipe and found a slew that sounded delicious. Good thing I have plenty of lentils . . .

We were missing a few ingredients and had to subsititute. It made a vat! Great budget meal.

Tuscan Lentil Soup (Source: The Sisters' Cafe)
-1lb small French green lentils, rinsed
-7 cups vegetable broth
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, chopped
-1 red pepper, chopped
-1 small cup pasta (we used hoops)
-8 ozs spinach, chopped
-1 14ozs can diced tomatoes
-Salt and pepper

-In a large pot, combine the lentils and broth
-Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer
-Cook, partially covered, for approximately 45 minutes, or until lentils are just tender (and then look in the pot and realize almost all the liquid is gone!!)
-In a small skillet, heat the oil.
-Add the onion and pepper and cook over low heat, stirring often, until vegetables are tender
-Set aside
-Bring a medium pan of water to the boil
-Add pasta and cook until al dente
-Stir in pasta, veggies, and spinach to soup and simmer 15 minutes or until warmed through

Mini Meatloaves

This is something I found from a menu posted on Menu Planning Monday. While they weren't the quickest weeknight fix, once we had made a double batch we have TONS of them, and they are super easy to nuke and eat. These will definitely go in the Baby freezer menu.

Our currently veggie toddler even ate them. Sweet.

Next time I think I may add some veggie puree to them. I've been reading Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef and this would be a great recipe in which to hide extra nutrition.

One of the Allrecipes reviewers suggested making this in a muffin pan, which made this even easier.

Mini Meatloaves (Source: Allrecipes, found through My Grand Central Kitchen)
-1 egg
-3/4 cup milk
-1 cup shredded cheddar
-1/2 cup quick cooking oats
-1 lb ground beef
-2/3 cup ketchup
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1 1/2 tsp prepared mustard

-Preheat oven to 350
-Mix egg, milk, cheddar, and oats until combined
-Add ground beef and mix
-Spray a muffin pan, and fill muffin cups with mixture
-In a small bowl, mix ketchup, sugar, and mustard
-Top meatloaf muffins with ketchup mixture
-Bake for 45 minutes until cooked through

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Couscous with Chicken, Spinach, & Mushrooms

We interviewed a doula tonight and were nearly hypoglycemic by the time she left. I had meant to bake something for our time with her but ran out of time, so we were bad hosts AND starving. Needed dinner to be healthy, wholsome (to counteract the mass amounts of sugar we consumed while waiting for it) and ready pronto.

This recipe was perfect and will go into regular rotation FOR SURE! 15 mins start to finish.

I just discovered the site this is from and I love it - great healthy ideas. I love group blogs!

Couscous with Chicken, Spinach, & Mushrooms (Source: Pass The Beans Please, barely modified but the below reflects how I made it)
1 T olive oil
-1lb chicken tenderloins, cut into 1/2" pieces
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 cups fresh spinach, packed
-1 1/4 cups water
-5 mushrooms, sliced
-2 tbsp lemon juice (can use white wine)
-1 package flavored couscous (we used tomato lentil)

-In a large skillet, saute chicken and garlic in oil until browned and cooked through
-Stir in spinach, water, mushrooms, wine and bring to a boil.
-Stir in couscous; cover and remove from heat
-Let stand 5 minutes and fluff with a fork

Makes 4 servings (300 calories per serving)

Picture to come

Lettuce Wraps (No pictures)

I didn't even bother to take pictures of these when we made them last night because the pictures on the site I found them were beautiful and did them way more justice.

Having gone on a mid-afternoon candy rampage, I only needed a light dinner. Mishke was a tad bummed that there was no starch involved, but contented himself with a banana.

Lettuce Wraps (Source: Delish - with a little change based on the ingredients we had on hand, reflected below)
-1.25lbs ground white meat turkey
-2 red bell peppers, minced
-4 mushrooms, diced
-Minced garlic
-5 tbsp tamari
-1 tbsp or so of hoisin sauce (we didn't have any sriracha, which the recipe calls for, so ours were probably sweeter and less hot than the original. We decided we love the word Sriracha, btw.)
-One head Boston lettuce

-Brown the meat and garlic together
-Add veggies and saute until softened
-Add the sauce and warm through
-Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves

Monday, January 4, 2010

Menu Planning Monday - January 4, 2010

2010! How did that happen?

Back to normal. Normal eating, normal cooking, normal schedules, at least until the baby comes . . .


Starting next week there will be some extras thrown in to try and stock the freezer before baby.

(this is almost a two week plan to get us through to the long weekend)

- Easy night - reubens and oven fries
- Pizza night - homemade dough (hooray for the new breadmaker!), artichokes, roasted red peppers, and feta
- Mini meatloaves and baby carrots
-Jill's Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom Couscous and asparagus
-Vegetarian Curry and Naan
-Kung Pao Chicken and brown rice
-Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
-Indian Lentil Sloppy Joes
-Sweet potato pecan burgers
-Pumpkin black bean chili
-Russian-style mac and cheese
-Lettuce Wraps


-Homemade bread
-French toast and fruit
-Blueberry Scones