Thursday, April 25, 2013

This Week's Menu

I've been home for four days, functioning without a meal plan, living off of our freezer offerings.  As thankful as I am to have options there, I am SO HAPPY to have a plan this week!!  Wow.  It is way less stressful for me to take a few minutes each week to draft out a meal plan than to ponder for hours each day over what dinner is going to be.

Yay meal plan!!!
  • Friday: Pizza and popcorn. Even I take it easy on myself sometimes.  Picking up a couple of pizzas at Papa Murphy's (their taxo pizza is back!!).
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
Happy planning!!
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Buffalo Chicken

Rob and I share a serious addiction to spicy chicken.

If we come across something that includes the word Buffalo in it, chances are one of us will get it and the other will beg for "just a taste."  We. LOVE. Buffalo. Chicken.

It's kinda hard to make though.  I mean, not really make make, but to get the flavors exactly right.  I've tried periodically but can never seem to find the right recipe, or get the exact balance of flavors with the right amount of heat.

Until now.  Thank you Jeff Mauro!!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
Recipe ever-so-slightly adapted from Jeff Mauro
Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 15-20 minutes

1 tbsp canola oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup your favorite wing sauce, such as Frank's RedHot
French bread loaf
Blue cheese crumbles, optional

Ranch Dressing, optional

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
A little sweet, a little spicy.  Just the way I like it!

2.  Heat the canola oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, and cayenne.  Season both sides of the chicken with some salt and pepper, and the sugar mixture.
Don't be shy.  Use up all that good seasoning!

3.  Sear both sides of the chicken in the skillet until golden, about 4 minutes. Add in the wing sauce, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 10 minutes or so).
I love hot sauce.

4.  Let cool, and then pull the meat with your hands. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary and place back in the oven at BROIL until crusty and caramelized on top, about 4 minutes.
Shredded chicken GOODNESS.

5.  Cut the French loaf horizontally. Place an even layer of blue cheese crumbles on the bottom, then the chicken, and smear the top piece of bread with the Ranch dressing.

Honestly, I would have been happy with a decently good Buffalo chicken sandwich.  Really, I would!  But this chicken turned out so stinking good, that I will be making up batches of this regularly.  We LOVED this so much we chopped up leftovers for Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  I made Buffalo Chicken Nachos for lunch one day.  And sadly we ate it all before I could play around with Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas.

Guess that just means I need to cook up some more, PRONTO!

p.s. In case you're wondering, you can totally MAKE YOUR OWN FRENCH BREAD using that Basic Artisan bread recipe I posted earlier.  Just cut off the same amount as you would for an artisan loaf, shape it into a ball and then elongate it so it's about a 2" diameter.  Dust your pizza peel with flour instead of cornmeal and dust the top too.  Let it rise about 20-30 minutes.  Brush the top with a little bit of water and make those trademark slashes.  Slide it onto the stone, pour the same water into the same pan to make that steam, and let it bake about 20-25 minutes until the outside is crusty and it's firm to the touch.  YUM!!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Week's Menu

So, after I put this meal plan together, I went back to look at it and noticed I must be seriously pasta-deprived.  Normally I'd go back and switch things around for a more balanced, and less starchy, week.  However this week I'm just a little too tired, a little too distracted with other things.  And that's ok!  Life gets like that sometimes.

Maybe I'll buy some extra salad to make up for it. ;)
  • Thursday: New Recipe! Chicken & Noodles. All this dreary weather is getting to me; I need happy, classic comfort food!
  • Friday: Pizza and popcorn
  • Saturday: Gavin's been talking about how much he loooooooves mac & cheese lately.  I think he's dropping hints.
  • Sunday: Rob will be gone for I get to make what I like!  I think Microwave Tuna Casserole with some fresh bread sounds good.
  • Monday: Dinner out at Culver's!  There's a fundraiser for our church's day care so we'll do our part AND get a dinnertime treat all at once. :)
  • Tuesday:  Life will be INSANE this day so I'm taking one item off my To Do list by getting take out instead of cooking.  
  • Wednesday: Flying out for a long weekend celebrating my cousin's wedding!  I'll see you back here the following week. ;)
Happy planning!!
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stuffed Flank Steak

I have gone back and forth, back and forth, back and forth on whether I should post this one yet.  There are a few changes I'd like to make to the recipe (nothing major, just minor adjustments) so I feel like I should do those before sharing.  But it tasted really good, so why not share?  But I want to make sure it's perfect first!  But... but... but....

And then it hit me.

My Picky Eater, my resident I-rarely-enjoy-anything-with-beef child, asked for seconds of this.  And my toddler requested thirds.

So no matter what adjustments I make to this recipe, it would be wrong to NOT share this with you now, as it is, because clearly the flavor of this dish is nothing short of miraculous!

Stuffed Flank Steak
Recipe slightly adapted from Family Circle
Prep time: 20 minutes   Cook time: 45 minutes   Rest time: 15 minutes

1 flank steak (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup-ish chopped roasted tomatoes
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1 egg yolk
About 3/4 tsp garlic salt, divided
About 3/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Lay steak on work surface. Holding sharp knife parallel to work surface and starting at a long side, slice flank steak in half to opposite long side, without cutting all the way through; open up the steak like a book. Flatten to an even thickness (you do want to try and get the meat fairly thin to make for easier rolling later).
Regular ol' flank steak

Slice this open carefully!

Sliced open but waiting to be pounded

Flattened out

3. Squeeze liquid from spinach; discard liquid. In medium-size bowl, combine spinach, cheese, peppers, bread crumbs, egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon each of the garlic salt and the pepper.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm..... filling......

4. Season steak with an additional 1/4 teaspoon each of the garlic salt and pepper. Press filling onto steak, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides.  [NOTE: You'll want the filling layer to be thin so you may not use all of what's in the bowl; that's OK!  This is one of those adjustments I want to make.  A thick layer of filling will make for more difficult rolling]
I love all the pretty colors and flavors of this filling!

5. Roll up steak to enclose filling, beginning on a short side; the grain of the meat will be running from left to right. Tuck any loose filling back into ends.
Anyone else think this is begging for an outer layer of bacon?

6. Tie steak with cotton twine at 2-inch intervals to secure OR, if you don't have cotton twine, use a few toothpicks at the seam to secure the edge. Rub outside with oil, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon each garlic salt and pepper.
I used my broiler pan for the whole cooking process.

7. Roast at 425 degrees F. for 35 minutes, then increase heat to broil and broil for 10 minutes, turning once. Let meat rest 15 minutes. Remove twine or toothpicks, slice, and serve.
ALWAYS tent meat with foil and let rest BEFORE cutting into!!

Ok, now before you sprint to your kitchen to make this, in the interest of full-disclosure, I need to make something clear.  My kids didn't care for the filling.  I'm still counting though that they liked this dish!  I think part of it was that there was just too much of the filling.  And I may adjust the amount of spinach in it too, or change up the cheese a little.  At first Kieran enjoyed the whole thing, but then took a bit of just the filling and wouldn't touch it again.  Gavin also had a bite of just the filling, and though he didn't cry or gag, he didn't love it either.  That's ok though, this is how we learn!  At least the boys enjoyed the beef and the filling flavor wasn't completely offensive.  That gives me enough to go on for my next attempt!
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

This Week's Menu

I'm not exactly back yet from our little Spring Break vacation, but we head home tomorrow.  And I refuse to get home and be greeted with "so what's for dinner?" without an answer at the ready!  Having a plan in place is just one less thing for me to stress about.

  • Thursday: Our last night away from home...
  • Friday: Pizza and popcorn.  Thank GOD pizza dough freezes well, and I thought to make up a few batches a week ago for occasions just like this one.  While I'm driving home, it'll be thawing in the fridge!
  • Saturday: Freezer Find.  We're off to a friend's birthday party and just in case it runs over, I don't want to be fretting about making dinner.  Pulling a casserole or container of soup out of our freezer is as much effort as I'll want to do!
  • Sunday: New Recipe! Stuffed Flank Steak, baked potato, and tossed salad
  • Monday: Pork Chops in Wine, rice, and steamed veggies. My SINCERE apologies for the errors on the pictures.  I will fix it when I get home.  I am not sure why blogger keeps having issues with my pictures.
  • Wednesday: New Recipe! Buffalo Chicken Subs, chips, and fresh veggies
Happy planning!!
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