Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Monday - Oct 26, 2009

Here's what we had last week:

Monday: Breakfast for Dinner... I don't know what it is about Mondays, but dinner is always last on my mind.

Tuesday: Stir Fry made from chicken, broccoli, green onions, mushrooms, carrots and celery - delicious! I start off with a little bit of olive oil and saute some crushed red peppers, garlic and ginger, then add the chicken, then the veggies, then a little sesame oil and then some soy sauce. I had a roommate in college who would do a sauce of one part water, one part soy sauce, and 1/2 a part sugar - it was delicious, but my husband's not a fan of a sweet dinner.

Wednesday: Pinto Beans.

Thursday: Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon and Chicken, served with a side of green beans.

Friday: We were at a friend's Halloween party and were so focused on getting our costumes together that we totally neglected eating (I was the ultimate nerd down to the lipstick on my teeth, my husband was the ugliest woman you've ever seen). We ended up have a dinner of chips and salsa and cupcakes.

Saturday: Busy busy day - we ordered pizza.

Sunday: My wonderful husband made dinner. Ahhhh.. He is the chili master and cooked up a delicious batch of chili along with some cornbread.

I've taken some requests for this week that I'm going to try to squeeze in. Steve wants me to make these delicious meat patties with gravy and mashed potatoes that his mom makes, Joe asked for Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches and Kathrynn wants me to make some Mac and Cheese - so my homemade Macaroni and Cheese recipe which is WONDERFUL should pop up soon. The PB&J will have to be a lunch thing - sorry, Joe. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Italian Grilled Cheese


I came up with this one when I had just the teeniest bit of spaghetti sauce and didn't know quite what to do with it. Instead of just buttering each piece of bread, I made them into garlic bread on one side of each and put mozzarella in between instead of cheddar and there you have it. It's delicious dipped in spaghetti sauce.

Bean Days

My husband and I were engaged for the entire winter and spent a lot of time at his parents house. Whenever we'd go over on a cold, gray, dreary day, she would have a big pot of beans ready for us and they were the most delicious, comforting thing imaginable. You'd never think beans could be so wonderful, but these are. Wonderful and simple. And then she gave us one of my favorite wedding presents - a big stockpot with a bag of pinto beans and the beloved recipe.
Now whenever it's a cold, dreary day, it's a bean day and we enjoy a yummy, comforting bowl of beans.

Pinto Beans

Fill a stockpot until 2" from the rim with water and bring to a boil while picking through the beans. Don't use old, dark or shriveled beans - or halves and pieces. Put the good ones in a colander and rinse well.
Pour beans into boiling water. Do not salt. Add 2-3 Tbs bacon grease or shortening (bacon grease is better) and cover, allowing some steam to escape. Boil hard on medium high heat for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, so it is still a good boil. Set timer for 45 minutes to an hour and check if water is boiled down. Add 3-4 cups boiling water. Repeat several times until beans are soft and the overall consistency is creamy - the creaminess happens naturally - no smashing beans necessary. Salt to taste.

Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon and Chicken

This is one of my favorite recipes and my kids LOVE it!!! I just HAD to make it tonight.

Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon and Chicken

9 oz Angel Hair (though I usually go with more)
1 1/2 cups cooked diced chicken
1/4 cup melted butter (though I usually go with less)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cook pasta. Toss in remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste (I like to use sea salt). Top with Parmesan.

Flash Freezing Fun

I didn't marry one of those men that comes home with the occasional bouquet of roses, I married one of those men who brings home an upright freezer after months and months of subtle hints. He also remodeled our kitchen to make it prettier and more functional after a year of out right begging. I love my husband. He's awesome!
So, this freezer is my new favorite toy. I've been able to store tons of fresh homemade juice for jams, make lots of stuff in bulk for use later and today I tried my hand at flash freezing to make some chocolate chip cookies for later cooking. I'm trying to steer away from anything store-bought or processed and am trying to create my own convenience foods - I'm going to try to make my own frozen pizzas soon.
I was really pleased with my results today and it was super easy - first I plopped little balls of cookie dough on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and placed it in my new awesome upright freezer for about.. well, I didn't time it.. but long enough to freeze the outer edges of the dough. Yeah.. and be careful when taking the cookies out of the freezer. Don't be in a hurry like I was with my second batch and bump the cookie sheet on the door of the freezer and drop all of the little balls of dough all over the floor. Luckily it was the second batch of flash freezing and there were only 8 balls - not a big loss, but frustrating still.

Once they were ready to go, I put them in a freezer ziplock with the cooking instructions on the front.

Now I have cookie dough that I can bake up anytime.

And, in case you wanted the recipe, which is delicious and the only chocolate chip cookie recipe that I've been able to make work since we moved to Utah. I got it out of the Lion House Recipe book and it's wonderful.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups softened butter
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
5 1/2 Tbs water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
6 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, water and vanilla; mix until creamy. Add flour, salt and baking soda; mix well. Gently fold in chocolate chips, mixing only until chips are evenly distributed. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 5-6 dozen 3 1/2 inch cookies.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Monday of Disappointment

I have nothing to post for Menu Monday this week because last week was pathetic. I mean PATHETIC!! We had busy days and sick days and lazy days and I made a good dinner ONCE. So, I really have nothing to post for last week except that I made some yummy spaghetti on Friday night.

I'll make it up to you next week. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Monday

I go about planning my menus a little differently than most people - instead of sitting down and planning out a menu at the beginning of the week, I kind of plan as I go. I cook what I'm inspired to cook and really focus on using ingredients that are already in my refrigerator or pantry - plus things always seem so much more creative and just taste better when I cook by inspiration.

So, every Monday I will post not what I plan on cooking this week, but what I cooked last week. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Homemade Canned Tomato Soup - I would share the recipe, but a friend helped me make and can it and it was just a completely insane experience (soup and salsa at once...). If you would really like it, leave a comment and I'll get it and post it.

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Pancakes and Eggs

Thursday: Quiche - I used the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. If anyone has a good one, PLEASE share!! Cooler weather always makes me crave quiche, but I'm looking for one with mushrooms and a mild taste.

Friday - Pesto Chicken with Tomato Parmesan Pasta and salad - The Pesto Chicken recipe comes from the South Beach Diet cookbook - SO delicious!!! I got my pesto recipe HERE.

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Crock Pot Italian Bowtie Pasta with green beans

Tomato Parmesan Pasta

This is a dish I invented in college that has grown in sophistication over the years.. it started off with butter and powder Parmesan and has changed and grown with my taste.
My own recipes are difficult to write down because I really don't use measurements, but I can give you the gist of it here.

Tomato Parmesan Pasta

Cook pasta according to package directions. You can use whatever kind you like and however much you want.
Drain pasta and put back in original pot. Toss in just enough olive oil to coat (not douse) pasta. Add a little fresh minced garlic and toss flavor in. Add some sea salt to taste and toss. Now add chopped fresh basil and some chopped tomato and toss. Toss in some fresh grated Parmesan. You can add a little more on top if you like, and then you're left with this beauty:

Crockpot Italian Bowtie Pasta

This is one of my FAVORITE recipes. If you have children who don't like seeing green stuff in their pasta, they might not be game for this one, in fact I made it once and my 10 year old step daughter turned to my husband and asked "Do you really like this?" without even picking up her fork. He answered "Yes," of course - he loves it - and so do my little ones. :)

Crockpot Italian Bowtie Pasta

1/2 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz tomato sauce
14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low 7-8 hours. I thought I could cut the time in half and cook it on high, but it wasn't nearly as good - go the long route with this one! Increase to high and add:

8 oz bowtie pasta (though I'm sure you could use any kind - just have to change the name...), cooked and drained
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup Mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan

Cover and cook 10 more minutes then serve.

Perfect Pancakes

This is our absolute FAVORITE pancake recipe - much better than any mix! So easy and simple and YUMMY! I think I got it off of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine a very very long time ago, but can't be certain.

Perfect Pancakes

Mix the following ingredients together:
1 cup flour
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a separate container, mix:
1 cup milk
2 tbs melted butter
1 egg

Mix wet and dry ingredients together and cook in a lightly oiled skillet. You know the rest.. watch for bubbles and browning of the sides and flip. Keep warm in an oven proof dish covered with foil in a 200 degree oven until you're ready to serve.