Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Week's Menu

Next week I'll be starting a fabulous and maybe a twinge frightening new food adventure: CSA!!  Rob and I decided to participate in Community Supported Agriculture this year and we get our first box of fresh produce AND eggs next Thursday!  EEEEE!!!!  I'm so excited and so nervous...  There are sure to be things in this box that either I've never heard of OR I'm positive I won't like.  But that won't matter!  Just like we constantly talk to Gavin about trying, and re-trying new foods, because our tastebuds are always changing, our whole family will be trying new things together this summer.  And don't you worry; I'll be documenting each box as I get it and taking you on this journey with me.

One week to go.... 
  • Thursday: I found some of those fancy tortellinis on sale a few weeks ago, plus I had a coupon.  I've been waiting for a night to keep things SUPER SIMPLE with this yummy pasta and a basic marinara sauce. Add in a tossed salad and some good, fresh bread and we are set!
  • Saturday: Grilled pork chops, New Recipe! Whole Wheat Cheddar-Garlic Drop Biscuits, and tossed salad
  • Sunday: New Recipe! Peach-Whiskey BBQ Chicken, pasta salad
  • Monday: Grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh veggies
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
Happy planning!!
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

This Week's Menu

So. Much. Happening.  Between birthdays, birthday parties, and holiday weekend, things are craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy!  But the food will be tasty at least.
  • Thursday: My baby boy turns 2!  Since he can't tell me what he wants, I'm going with my gut and making our family favorite: mac & cheese.
  • SaturdaySince we're doing the birthday party today, dinner will either be takeout, or leftovers from lunch (New Recipe! pulled pork sliders, brats/hot dogs, New Recipe! cole slaw, potato salad, fresh fruit, and chocolate cake).
  • Sunday: Chili and New Recipe! golden sweet cornbread
  • Monday: We're spending the day with friends!  It'll either be a cookout at their house or I'll find something in my freezer when we get home.  Sometimes it's ok to be flexible.
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: New Recipe! Indian Chicken Wraps, and chips
Happy planning!!
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Simple Roasted Shrimp

The warmer is gets, the simpler I like my dinners.  Like really, really simple.

Like, "on my table in LESS THAN 15 minutes" simple.

Simple Roasted Shrimp
Prep time: 2 minutes   Cook time: 8-10 minutes

1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp seasoning blend of your choice

1.  Preheat oven to 400.
Showing some MD love with my seasoning of choice!

2.  Spread out the shrimp on a cookie sheet and drizzle with the EVOO; toss to coat everything.
We prefer our shrimp completely naked of shells and tails.

3.  Sprinkle as much or as little seasoning as you like all over the shrimp.  Again, toss the shrimp to coat.
Don't be shy. If you can't see the seasoning, you can't taste it.

4.  Roast for about 8-10 minutes, until pink and curled.  If a few still look a little grey around the edges, just let the shrimp rest a few minutes on the hot cookie sheet.
Pink and perfect!

I truly don't think it gets any simpler or faster than shrimp.  And it's so versatile!  Enjoy these little beauties on top of some hot pasta with a drizzle of EVOO and some fresh herbs.  Load a bowl full and use a hunk of fresh, crusty bread to sop up the juices.  OR let these cool down and store them in the fridge instead.  Because eating these cold on a bed of fresh spinach that's been dressed in Italian dressing is out of this world.
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

This Week's Menu

As I type this, I'm taking a quick inside/shade break from gardening.  It is GLORIOUS outside so I'm taking advantage and getting my window boxes planted, and my herbs & veggies in the ground.  But, real quick, I need to figure out what groceries I need at the store tomorrow.  And I won't know what groceries I need until I know what I'm cooking next week. *sigh* It's an endless cycle...
  • Thursday: BLT's, fresh veggies, and chips
  • SaturdayFreezer Find OR takeout. I am spending the day working on my son's birthday quilt so cooking will NOT be on my agenda this evening.
  • Monday: Leftovers
  • Tuesday: New Recipe!  Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup, fresh bread
  • Wednesday: Tonkatsu, rice, and steamed veggies
Happy planning!!
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Broccoli, Chicken, & Quinoa Casserole

Can I share a little pet peeve I have with you? 

It really, really, REALLY drives me bonkers when I hear someone either imply or outright say that healthy food has a similar taste and texture to cardboard.  Seriously?!  Cardboard?!?

What happened to us??  Once upon a time we ate real, wholesome foods and enjoyed every last bite of it.  When did eating right for our bodies, making the right nutritional choices, become so bland and tasteless that now it's assumed that ALL healthy food is gross?  Some days it just makes me want to scream. 

Instead of screaming though, I just get reinvigorated to go to my kitchen, and pull together something that tastes totally decadent and wonderful, but is PACKED with as many healthy choices as I can figure out.  So when I find recipes like this, that have already done most of the work for me, I tend to do some serious happy dances, especially when they taste every bit as wonderful and "sinful" as I'd hoped!

So if you've ever mentally cringed at the idea of eating a healthy dinner, I DARE you to make this.  Make this, devour it, and then just try to tell me it even remotely resembles cardboard.

In fact, I triple-dog dare you!

Broccoli, Chicken, & Quinoa Casserole
Recipe adapted from Eating Well, Living Thin
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 40 minutes (60 if you need to cook the quinoa first)

To cook quinoa:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt

1 can (10ish oz) condensed cream of broccoli soup
1/3 cup mayo
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups cooked broccoli (preferably fresh and steamed)
2 to 2 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 cups  COOKED quinoa (see above)
Grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear.  In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible.  Fluff with a fork.
Similar to rice, but with more texture and a LOT more protein

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (9×9 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with cooking spray.
When you need fats, use the healthiest ones you can.

3.  In a medium bowl combine the soup, mayo, milk, yogurt, shredded cheese, sugar, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed. Set aside.
Now, I ask, does this look healthy to you?  Looks like creamy, sinful goodness to me!

4.  In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, shredded chicken, and broccoli.  Poor the cream sauce over top and stir to coat.
This looks good even unbaked.

5.  Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for ramekins) or until bubbly on the edges and golden.
A little Parm will make for a glorious, browned, cheesy crust.

Well?  What'd you think?  Creamy?  Cheesy?  Comforting?  Down-home deliciousness?  Yeah, probably doesn't even occur to you just how much protein you're eating between the quinoa, the chicken, the cheeses, and the yogurt.  Or all the fiber and nutrients from the broccoli.  Go ahead, have another helping!  It's good for you!!
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

This Week's Menu

When it comes to meal planning, in recent months I've been turning to Pinterest more and more, with maybe filtering in a few recipes from my food magazines.  It occurred to me yesterday that I have quite the cookbook collection; cookbooks that have been feeling sad and neglected.  Cookbooks that contain recipes I LOVE but haven't made for yeeeaaaaars since I've been so distracted by what I can find online.

Moving forward, I'm going to try and work a cookbook recipe into my meal plan, just so I don't forget about how many cool recipes I already own!  That's my promise to you. :)
  • Thursday: Waffles.  Plain, simple, glorious waffles.  And probably some fresh fruit.
  • Saturday: New Recipe! Well, sort of a recipe.  I'm not really using anything, just roasting shrimp with some Old Bay seasoning I got from my cousin's wedding.  Add in some fresh bread and a crisp salad and this Mama is in HEAVEN.
  • Monday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: Tacos with some of the refried beans I stuck in the freezer last time I made them.
Happy planning!!
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Monday, May 6, 2013

Open-Face Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers with Roasted Garlic "Cream" & Avocado

Sweet potatoes are not my favorite.

So when a friend of mine asked if I would try out a recipe for her, my gut instinct was to say "no, I don't really do sweet potatoes."  But that would make me a total hypocrite in the eyes of my son.  Almost every night at dinner, we talk about how our tastebuds are always changing.  Which makes it really important that we keep trying new things, and even re-trying old things that we didn't like before.  There are a number of foods that I hated as a child but looooooooooooove now.

So how could I, in good conscience, tell my friend "thanks, but no thanks."  I couldn't.

Dang it.

Thank you GOD for giving me a conscience.  Because otherwise I would never have known how FREAKING INCREDIBLE these burgers are.

Open Face Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers with Roasted Garlic "Cream" & Avocado
Recipe slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is
Prep time: 20 minutes   Cook time: 10 minutes

For the "cream" sauce:
1 bulb of roasted garlic
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt [You can use sour cream if the thought of yogurt makes you cringe]
1 tsp maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the burgers:
2 large sweet potatoes
1 cup cannellini beans (rinsed and drained if canned)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For sandwich assembly:
1 avocado, sliced
4 thick slices whole wheat bread

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
I went ahead and roasted 2 bulbs but only used one.

2.  To roast garlic, lop off the top 1/4 of the bulb; you want to expose as many cloves as possible.  Rub off some of the excess paper and place, cut side up, in a foil lined pan.  Drizzle the bulb with a little EVOO and let sit for 10 minutes.  Cover the pan (or ball up the foil around the bulb) and roast for 45 minutes; let cool.
Roasted Garlic = Garlic Candy

3.  Squeeze out the cooled garlic cloves into a bowl and mash up with a fork.  Add in the yogurt, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.  Mix to combine and set aside until ready to use.
If you don't like garlic chunks than zip this through the food processor.

3.  Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and place in the microwave.  If you have a Potato button on your microwave, fabulous!  If not, microwave on High for about 10 minutes, flipping over halfway through.  Remove the cooked potatoes from the microwave, slice in half and let cool until you can scoop out the flesh.
Two big potatoes makes 4 MASSIVE burgers

4.  In a large bowl, coarsely mash beans with a fork. Add in sweet potato and mash together, then add in spices, salt and pepper, minced garlic, egg, panko and oats. Mix together until combined, then place bowl in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes. This helps form them into patties.
Pat out the mixture and score with your hand to make fairly even patties.

5.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Remove mixture from fridge and form into 4 equal patties, then place in the skillet once hot. Since the mixture can be wet and messy, do not move until they are fully cooked and golden on one side! This takes about 5-6 minutes. Then, add more oil if needed (this really helps cook them) and flip burgers very gently. Cook for another 5-6 minutes.
Betcha I could freeze these at this point to cook up later.
WOO HOO for a Get Ahead moment!!

6.  To assemble, smear a healthy amount of the "cream" sauce on the toasted bread.  Top with the burger and fan out some avocado sliced on top.

You want some good heat to get that yummy, dark crust.
But not so high that the outside burns while the inside is still cool.

As I type up this post now, I am shoveling the last leftover burger into my mouth as fast as my taste buds can handle it.  These. Are. AWESOME!!!  I used a 1/2 sharp, 1/2 sweet paprika for some really good flavor, and plenty of good quality cumin.  The natural sweetness of the sweet potato helps balance out all the spices so it's not too savory, not too sweet.  With that sharp, sweetness of the roasted garlic in the yogurt "cream" sauce, and buttery mellowness of the avocado, you get this amazing contrast of flavors just exploding in your mouth. 

I dare you to eat these and NOT fall in love.  Your taste buds will thank me later. ;)
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

This Week's Menu

It's that time of year again!  The time where the temps are slowly starting to creep up.  When I contemplate salad, instead of soup, for dinner.  When picnicking becomes an option.  When I need to check the weather as much as I check our family's schedules before I can figure out what meal to make on which night.

I wonder if there's a market out there for a professional Meal Juggler-Planner.
  • Saturday: Grilled brats and hot dogs, tossed salad, and corn on the cob
  • Sunday: Daddy's Choice. I'm off to a dear friend's wedding so Rob's on his own with the boys!
  • Monday: Freezer Find
  • Wednesday: Leftovers
Happy planning!!
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Southwest Black Bean & Corn Salad

How on earth did I forget to post this one?!?!?!  Oh yeah, I know how.  Between Rob's business trips, a wedding weekend away, a guys' weekend, and more business trips it's all I can do to keep my head screwed on straight.

Still, that's no excuse not to share such an AMAZINGLY scrumptious recipe with you!  Especially when the temps are on the rise and soon gardens will be bursting forth. :)

Southwest Black Bean & Corn Salad
Recipe from Jenny Manning
Prep time:  15 minutes

2 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (or thawed frozen)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  If using fresh corn, cook it until just tender.
Collection of ingredients

2.  Combine corn, minced garlic, beans, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno, lime juice, and cilantro in a 5-cup non-reactive serving bowl; toss lightly. Season with salt & pepper to taste
I used a combo of red and gold tomatoes

3.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving to blend flavors.
Yum. Yum. Yummy yum yum.

I made this to have along side quesadillas, but honestly I think you could eat this as a main course if you wanted.  It's so wonderfully refreshing, hearty but light... I. Love. This. Salad!!!
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