Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Menu #30

Chicken Pot Pie

I’m a day late posting because we were out of town for my grandfather’s funeral.  This is from my real father’s side of the family who I don’t see very often but I do have very happy childhood memories of him, and those are the memories I will keep forever.  He was a good man and he lived a long happy life surrounded by friends and family.

Above is a pic of last night's chicken pot pie, which was absolutely scrumptious...I'll post the recipe tomorrow!  This week’s menu is basically made up of everything I didn’t get to last week since we left in the middle of the week, and here it is. . .

Monday:  Chicken Pot Pie & green salad

Tuesday:  Slow Cooker Pork Roast w/ tomatoes & mushrooms over whole-wheat egg noodles
I started the roast this morning before taking X-man to school, and it was super quick & easy.  It was just a bunch of mushrooms chopped in half along with onion wedges, crushed tomatoes, thyme, sun-dried tomatoes, and a pork loin roast thrown into the slow cooker.  I’ll post a pic of the outcome tomorrow along with the recipe.

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Teriyaki Chicken Bowls w/ broccoli, bell peppers & brown rice

Friday:  Grilled Salmon w/ quinoa & black beans and green salad
Hubby is doing dinner on this evening because I have a full afternoon involving children & Christmas cookies.  Xavier is hosting a Holiday Playdate for some friends we don’t see as often as we’d like because of all of our busy schedules.  The menu is potluck style to which I’m contributing mini sandwiches (turkey, brie, & cranberry relish for mamas and turkey & American cheese for the kiddos), a veg platter, and Christmas cookies for decorating!  We are making cute little reindeer cookies that have chocolate-covered pretzels as antlers…so cute.  I’ll definitely post pics!  J 

Saturday:  Hanging w/ the Stanfords!
We are enjoying holiday festivities at the San Diego Zoo with my best friend, Janna, and her hubby!  After the zoo we are joining them at their house for a fun Holiday Happy Hour of yummy drinks & appetizers.  J 

Sunday:  Chicken Stew w/ crusty bread
We are also enjoying a super fun morning at our friends, the Browns, for their annual Breakfast with Santa!  I love fun holiday festivities!!!  J

Monday, December 3, 2012

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

1 lb whole-wheat macaroni, cooked
1/2 roasted butternut squash, pureed (directions below)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, small diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T butter
3 T whole-wheat flour
1 C chicken stock
1-1/2 C milk
S&P, to taste
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 C parmesan cheese, grated
2 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 450F.

Split the squash down the middle and scrape out the seeds.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and roast in a oven for about 45 mins. 

When you can easily pierce the squash with a fork, it’s ready.  Set it aside and allow it to cool. 

Once it’s cooled, scrape the squash out into a bowl and puree it with an immersion blender (use a regular blender if you don’t have an immersion blender or you could even use frozen pureed squash).  Set aside the puree until ready for use. (You'll only need 1/2 the puree for this recipe, so just freeze the rest for later use)

Heat the oil in a large pan over med-high heat.  Saute the onions until caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the butter and allow to melt.  Once melted, add the flour and cook a couple minutes.  Add the stock and milk using a whisk and mix well.  Season with S&P, and nutmeg and cook 3-4 more minutes. Stir in the squash puree and mix well.  Once it starts to bubble take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese along with 1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese.  Once the cheeses have melted, stir in the macaroni. 

Pour macaroni into a casserole dish & top with remaining 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Menu #29

See those photos above?  Those are snapshots of my biggest addiction right now!  These are the Salted Caramel Cookies from Great Harvest Bread Co in Temecula.  Everything they make at the Great Harvest Bread Co is superb, but this cookie is just ridiculous!  It’s chewy, gooey, salty, and sweet with little jewels of caramel and dusted with sea salt.  It’s a wickedly sweet treat!

Now on to the weekly menu. . .

Monday:  Spicy BBQ wings w/ jalapeno poppers & veg salad
Laddie is in control of dinner tonight since I was busy with the private chef menu.  Since it’s Monday Night Football, he went with bar food but added salad so I wouldn’t complain.  ;)

Tuesday:  Leftovers
I had some excess food from the private chef menu including ham bone soup and chicken sausage & pepper pasta, so it will be a buffet dinner. 

Wednesday:  Vegetable Lasagna w/ green salad & garlic-cheese bread

Thursday:  Dinner Out
This is the evening of the Christmas Tree lighting at Temecula Duck Pond, so it's dinner out before we head to the ceremonies.  :)

Friday:  Picnic Dinner--Chicken Pitas w/ tzatziki sauce & couscous salad
This is the night of the Temecula Christmas Parade and we are going to have a picnic dinner while we wait for the parade to start.

I’m going to marinate chicken tenders in lemon juice, garlic, & oregano and then grill them.  The chicken will be served in whole-wheat pitas with tzatziki sauce, which is a cucumber yogurt sauce seasoned with cumin.  Served on the side will be a whole-wheat couscous salad containing cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, feta, and garbanzo beans dressed in a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette. 

Saturday:  Leftovers
I’m teaching a cooking class on this day, so it’s leftovers for the guys and an array of side dishes for me.  The class is based on side dishes and I haven’t entirely decided on that menu yet.  I have decided on a quinoa salad and a 3-bean salad, but I can’t make up my mind on veg sides because there are just so many!  I’m going to scan the web tomorrow in hopes of inspiration. 

Sunday:  Slow Cooker Pork Loin Roast w/ tomato-mushroom sauce over whole-wheat egg noodles
I found this recipe while I was browsing through one of my favorite slow cooker recipe books, Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.  This will be my first time trying it but I have a good feeling about it.  I’ll post the outcome later.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Menu #28

Turkey Noodle Soup

I hope everyone had a Thanksgiving to be grateful for!  I’m happy to say that the deep fried turkey worked out and was absolutely scrumptious!  We’ve had a great time with family, but it is definitely exhausting!  It’s been a whirlwind of activity since, with Black Friday shopping and taking X-man to his first ever NFL football game.  His first football game was such a great experience, and we have decided to make it an after-Thanksgiving tradition. 

This week’s menu is pretty much based off Thanksgiving Day leftovers, and here it is. . .

Monday:  Turkey Noodle Soup w/ corn muffins
The base of this soup is turkey stock that I made from the turkey bones, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, herbs, & peppercorns.  To make the soup, I sauté carrots, onions, garlic, & potatoes.  I then add bay leaves, the stock, and season with S&P and poultry seasoning.  When it comes to a boil, I add chopped up kale & noodles.  After 10 minutes of boiling, I add chopped up turkey meat and cook another 5 minutes until meat is warmed through.  It’s such a comforting soup!

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Creamy Tomato-Basil Sauce over Spaghetti Squash w/ garlic-cheese bread

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Tamales w/ black beans, Mexican brown rice, and salsa
I’ll be working all day at the winery, so hubby is in charge of dinner.  I have a bunch of shredded pork tamales that my aunt made stored in the freezer, so this should be easy for him to put together. 

Saturday:  Shepard's Pie w/ green salad & balsamic vinaigrette
For those of you who don't know about Shepard's Pie, it's a comforting dish of ground beef, carrots, peas, & onions in a brown gravy topped with mashed potatoes and baked.  For my Shepard's Pie, I top it off with a sweet potato-red potato mash and add parmesan cheese.  I'll post about it later.  :-)

Sunday:  Leftovers

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cranberry-Jalapeno Relish

Cranberry-Jalapeno Relish

2 oranges
2 jalapenos, seeded
3/4 C sugar
1 # cranberries
1 T fresh mint, finely chopped

Zest the oranges, peel them, and them coarsely chop them.

In a food processor bowl, pulse together 1/2 of the chopped oranges, zest, & jalapenos until finely chopped.  Add sugar and pulse a few more times.  Add cranberries and pulse until finely chopped. 

Pour into serving dish and add remaining chopped oranges & mint.  Mix together & enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

I made these kid-friendly mini stuffing muffins for X-man’s Feast Day at school.  My mom has made this cornbread stuffing as far back as I can remember, but she adds a lot more vegetables including lima beans, celery, onions, and olives.  I know how too many or unfamiliar vegetables scare kids, especially 4-year-olds, so I went with the oh so familiar peas, carrots, and corn.  J 

Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

12 cornbread muffins
1/2 C chicken broth
1/3 C frozen peas
1/3 C frozen diced carrots
1/3 C frozen corn
1 t poultry seasoning
S&P, tt

For the cornbread, I make muffins because they have more of the crusty edges which make stuffing yummy and they cool quicker.  Make them according to the package or just use store-bought. 

After the cornbread muffins are cooled, break it into crumbs. 

Add chicken broth a little at a time, until its completely moistened.  Mix in vegs & seasonings. 

Spoon stuffing mix into cupcake molds.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

Thanksgiving Countdown Plan!

There is no weekly menu this week because it’s time to get ready for Turkey Day!  I will be posting my Thanksgiving Countdown Plan along with pics and recipes rather than a menu this week.  We are celebrating the holiday with a Feast Party on Tuesday with X-man’s class and then heading to sis-in-law’s for Thanksgiving Day. 

For Feast Day, my contribution was mini stuffing muffins and turkey cookies.  For Thanksgiving, my sis-in-law is baking a ham with all the traditional fixings including mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and a veg casserole.  For our contributions, we went a little more nontraditional with a deep-fried turkey (wish us luck!!!), cranberry-jalapeno relish, and butternut squash mac n cheese.  I’m also making pastry-wrapped brie and a veg platter for appetizers. 

Let the countdown begin!

Monday:  Make Stuffing Muffins & Turkey Cookies.

Tuesday:  Feast Day & Shopping Day!  Make Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese.

Wednesday:  Make Cranberry-Jalapeno Relish.  Cut up vegs & make dip for platter.  Wrap brie.  Brine turkey.

Thursday:  Bake brie & mac n cheese, assemble veg platter, prepare turkey for frying.  Fry turkey at sis-in-law’s!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Menu #27

Sausage-Eggplant Shells

I’m a day late on posting my weekly menu because I was quite busy yesterday.  I was out wine tasting with my best friend, Janna…I do have my priorities!  ;-)  She had the day off for Veteran’s Day, so we had a fun girls day filled with great food & wine.  I had a Tuscan Bread Soup at Callaway Winery’s Meritage and it was superb.  I can’t stop thinking about this soup, so I’m going to try making a bread soup next week & I’ll post the outcome.

Since I was out yesterday, it was leftovers last night for the guys so they had the eggplant & sausage shells from last week’s menu.  These shells are great for batch cooking and then freezing to have on hand for a busy week.  I’ll post the recipe later this week. 

Monday:  Leftovers

Tuesday:  Green Chicken Enchiladas w/ black beans and Mexican brown rice
I’m going to make 2 dishes of these and freeze 1 for the “private chef” menu.  These were on last week’s menu, but I never got around to them because of our super busy weekend. 

Wednesday:  Cheesy Barley-Veg Bake w/ lemon-pepper chicken tenders
I’m also doubling up on these casseroles…1 for us and 1 for the PC menu.  This casserole is essentially like a mac n cheese, substituting barley for macaroni.  I start with a cheese sauce and add cooked barley, bell pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash.  I’ll post about it later this week.

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Spicy Pumpkin Soup w/ cornbread muffins
I’m going to put our Halloween pumpkin to good use.  J 

Saturday:  Spaghetti Bolognese w/ salad & garlic bread

Sunday:  Football & BBQ!
Not sure what I’m making yet, but we’re having some friends over to help celebrate November birthdays.  Broncos & Chargers are playing, so it will be Laddie vs everyone else in the room!  J

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

Last week’s dinners were just put together with whatever we had laying around the kitchen because we didn't have time for shopping with traveling from Visalia and back and Halloween.  Nonetheless, we still had some great dinners.  This BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Blue Cheese-Almond-Broccoli Stuffed Chicken was one of them. 

BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Blue Cheese-Almond-Broccoli Stuffed Chicken

2 chicken breasts, pounded out
1/4 C crumbled blue cheese
1/4 C almonds
1/2 C broccoli
S&P, to taste
4 slices bacon
1/2 C BBQ sauce (recipe to follow)

To pound out chicken, I place it between 2 sheets of wax paper to help it from moving around.  If I’m out of wax paper, I throw it into a Ziploc bag and seal it up.  This keeps things easy & clean.

Put cheese, nuts, & broccoli into a food processor and blend into a crumbly paste. . .this is the best way I can think of to describe it ;-).  

Form into log shapes and put into middle of pounded-out chicken breasts.  

Fold up the ends and then wrap with 2 slices of bacon each.

Grill for 20-25 minutes, turning every 4-5 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken breast has reached 165 degrees.  Brush the chicken with BBQ sauce the last 5 minutes of grilling. 

BBQ Sauce

2 C ketchup
1 T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
3 T BBQ dry rub (recipe follows)
1/2 C red wine
1/4 C rice vinegar
1 t minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over med-low heat for about 10 min. 

BBQ Dry Rub

2 T chili powder
1 T paprika
1 T brown sugar
½ T garlic powder
1/2 T onion powder
1 t cumin
½ t cayenne
1/2 t dry mustard
S&P, to taste

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Everything Brownies

Xavier loves to bake with me, so a couple of weeks ago we paged through my baking cookbooks for ideas.  We came across this recipe in my "Bake Sale Favorites" Cookbook, and Xavier was quite persistent that we make these.  I adapted the recipe a bit and came out with these ridiculously ooey-gooey and sinfully scrumptious Everything Brownies.  We just loved them!  In fact, we loved them a little too much.  I had to get rid of some so we wouldn't scarf them all down in 2 days!  I dumped off a plate of them to his principal for some extra "brownie" points! :-)

Everything Brownies

2-3/4 C quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C AP flour
1 C golden brown sugar, firmly packed
1 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 t baking soda
2 sticks butter, melted
1-3/4 C mini M&Ms
1 package fudge brownie mix (I used Ghiradelli), prepared according to package directions

Preheat oven to 350F.  

Combine oats, flour, sugar, nuts, and & baking soda in a large bowl.  Add butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs.  Mix in M&Ms.  Set aside 3 cups of this mixture.  Pour the remaining mixture into a 15x10x1 dish and pat down to form a crust.  (For brownies and bar cookies, I line the dish with foil with about 2-3 inch overhang so that I can just pull the whole thing out when it cools.  This makes it easier to cut into bars.)  Pour prepared brownie mix over the crumb crust, carefully spreading into thin layer.  Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over brownie mixture and pat down lightly.  

Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu #26

So, how was everyone’s Halloween?  We had a fabulous time just trick or treating and handing out candy.  Xavier went out in a mommy-made mummy costume, Mama was a witch, and Papa was a vampire…we were The Monster Crew as Xavier dubbed us.  Everyone took notice of him because there just doesn’t seem to be many mummy costumes out there, and he loved the attention!  There were a couple of wardrobe malfunctions, but he just kept on truckin’.  J 

There wasn’t much time for a planned menu last week since we were in Visalia for the 1st part of the week and then with Halloween, so we just kind of winged it.  I’m happy to be back on track with the menu planning, and here’s this week’s. . .

Monday:  Red Curry-Marinated Steaks w/ stir fry brown rice & salad w/ peanut dressing
We picked up some steaks today and I have red curry paste in the fridge, so I just rubbed the paste into the steaks with some fresh-squeezed lime juice.  It will marinate for about 4 hours, and then we are going to season it with salt & pepper and grill it. 

Tuesday:  Skillet Chicken & Rice w/ salad & mandarin oranges
This is Xavier’s pick for the week. . .chicken & rice. . .again!  I’m trying to change it up because he pretty much requests it every week.  I’m going to sear chicken breasts and then add a chicken-flavored rice, (I like Farmhouse’s all-natural Roasted Chicken Rice Pilaf), chicken broth, carrots, peas.

Wednesday:  Leftovers 

Thursday:  Baked Parmesan Fish Fillets w/ spaghetti squash & garlic wheat toast
I’m going shopping for it later this week so I’m not sure what kind of fish I’m using yet.  I’m going to drizzle it with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and sprinkle with parmesan.  For the spaghetti squash, I’m going to sauté it in olive oil with garlic, tomatoes, and basil. 

Friday:  Pizza @ the Park
We are meeting some friends for an evening park playdate and pizza dinner. 

Saturday:  Sausage & Eggplant Shells w/ salad & grapes
This is Laddie’s pick for the week.  I stuff jumbo pasta shells with a mixture of sausage, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, onions, ricotta, and mozzarella.  They are yummy! 

I’ve also started a private chef gig where I make weekly dinners for a friend.  This will be doubled to add to his menu also.

Sunday:  Chicken Enchiladas w/ rice & beans
This is on the private chef menu, and there’s no way I can make these and not have them for ourselves also!  J  These are my very favorite enchiladas with a tomatillo-pepper salsa base.  I’ll definitely post about them later.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Menu #25

We have decided to start a new Halloween tradition this year…cookies & witch’s brew left for the ghosts & goblins on Halloween Eve.  Xavier loves anything that involves cookies, so he’s thrilled about this idea!  I just added some blueberry simple syrup to milk, and voila we have witch’s brew.  J

We have a very busy week ahead of us, so our menu this week is short.  We are leaving to Visalia to help my mom move into her new house.  This is also the weekend of my brother’s twin’s baby shower…I can’t believe he’s having twins! 

Monday:  Crab Cakes w/ remoulade slaw
Never got to these last week…

Tuesday:  Chicken Tortilla Soup w/ corn tortilla quesadillas
I’m using leftover chicken for the soup along with any vegetables leftover from last week.

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday:  Visalia!    

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lil' Chefs School: Halloween Cookies

For October’s Lil’ Chefs School, we celebrated the season by baking Halloween Cookies and the kids loved it!  I used my favorite cookie-cutter dough recipe and made it in both vanilla and chocolate.  I love this recipe because it actually bakes up into the exact shape you cut out.  The kids & I made our own frosting using cream cheese & confectioner’s sugar, and we colored it naturally with blueberry simple syrup for purple and pumpkin puree for orange.  I do have to admit that my lil’ guy wasn’t too keen on the cream cheese frosting…he’s a traditionalist when it comes to sugar cookies.  He likes vanilla with buttercream frosting & sprinkles…why mess with a good thing, right?  J 

Cookie-Cutter Dough

3 sticks unsalted butter
1 C sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
4-1/2 C flour
1/4 cup cocoa (if you want chocolate dough)

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, & salt with an electric mixer.  Gradually add cocoa (if you’re making chocolate dough) & flour until well incorporated but don’t over mix or you’ll get tough cookies.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour (if the dough is super hard when you take it out of the fridge, just let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes to relax). 

Preheat oven to 375.  Separate the dough into 4 pieces, then roll out onto a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thickness.  Cut out your shapes and use a side spatula to transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-oz package cream cheese
1/4 C confectioner’s sugar

Beat together in a bowl until well incorporated. 

**We added about 2 T blueberry simple syrup to make purple to half the cream cheese frosting and about 2 T pumpkin puree to the other half to make orange.  We then placed them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to harden up.

Steak & Pepper Frittata

Steak & Pepper Frittata

1 T canola oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 banana pepper, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 green onions, whites & tops, sliced
1/2 C steak, cooked & diced
8 eggs
1/4 C cream
S&P, to taste
1/2 C cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat oil over medium heat in a 12” nonstick skillet (10” would work…you’ll just have a thicker frittata and would need to increase baking time by a few minutes).  Saute peppers and green onion whites for about 5 minutes. 

While you’re waiting for the peppers to cook, whisk together eggs, cream, and S&P. 

Add garlic & steak (this is perfect for leftover steak...I used leftover tri-tip) to skillet and cook 2-3 minutes more.  Add egg mixture, green onion tops, & cheese to skillet.  Allow bottom to cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides.  Transfer the skillet to the oven & bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.  You should be able to easily slide the frittata out of your skillet.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Menu #24

We just returned from a very relaxing and fun trip to Julian.  We decided to rent a cabin for the night since we were going later in the day due to Xavier’s soccer game.  Our cabin was such a cozy and charming place with friendly horses to pet and feed, which X-man just loved!  There was a shortage of apples to pick, which is why we went in the first place, but it was an enjoyable getaway anyway.  We occupied ourselves with really cool eating spots, like wood-fired pizza at Wynola Pizza & Bistro, pumpkin pie fudge at The Candy Basket,  and delicious apple-boysenberry crumb pie with cinnamon ice cream at Mom’s Pie House.  We also brought home our fair share of apples & pears from the Farmer’s Market.

Laddie will be gone for a few days working on my mom's new house, so it's dinner for two at the beginning of the week.  X-man was thrilled to help out with menu ideas...chicken nuggets, Mac n cheese, rice, and french toast were his highest requests.  :)

Monday:  Breakfast for Dinner—French Toast w/ breakfast potatoes & fruit salad

Tuesday:  Homemade Mac n Cheese & Chicken Nuggets w/ carrot sticks

Wednesday:  Teriyaki Chicken w/ brown rice, edamame & orange slices

Thursday:  Chicken Pot Pie w/ veg salad & short-cut peach cobbler for dessert
This will be hubby’s first night back from working on my mom’s house, so I’m making one of his favorite dinners & desserts as a thank you.  J  I’m making it the day before because I’m also making the same exact dinner as a Meals on Heels for my friend, Heather, who just had a sweet baby boy.  J 

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday:  Crab Cake Sliders w/ Asian slaw & oven fries
This is hubby’s request for the week.

Sunday:  Leftovers

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Menu #23

Lil' Chef X has been helping out quite a bit in the kitchen lately.  He made Marinara sauce with me a couple weeks ago and decided he wanted to add some butter and then tasted it and said, " sauce ever!"  He helped me out with pasta shells and cheese sauce the other day and then again said, "I definitely make the best sauces, Mama!"  Any recipe that he lends a hand in, just happens to be the "best ever!"  :-)

Monday:  Chicken Soup w/ Rice & parmesan-scallion biscuits
Xavier's request because he's been obsessed with the Maurice Sendak book, "Chicken Soup with Rice."

Tuesday:  Poached Tuna Salad over salad greens & leftover biscuits
Laddie's friend brought us fresh tuna from a fishing trip, so this was Laddie's request this week.

Wednesday:  Pork Chops w/ mushroom-onion gravy & smashed potatoes

Thursday:  Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs w/ salad & garlic wheat toast

Friday:  Leftovers or Pizza Delivery

Saturday:  Apple Picking in Julian

Sunday:  BBQ Tri-Tip w/ baked potatoes (Greek yogurt & scallions) & salad

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spaghetti Squash

Let’s talk spaghetti squash!  One of my favorite parts of Autumn food is all the different squashes.  Spaghetti squash is definitely a Waller Family favorite.  It doesn’t have a strong flavor, and it substitutes perfectly for pasta.  For my guys, they seem to really like the texture.  The other day I made Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti squash in place of pasta, and it was completely devoured. 

Below I have my basic steps for preparing spaghetti squash.  After it’s been fully cooked, I usually sauté it in a pan with olive oil, garlic, S&P and finish it off with parmesan cheese. 

First, slice off the ends so that you can stand it upright and cut it easily down the middle without it wobbling around.
Next, cut it straight down the middle and scrape out all the seeds (Xavier loves scraping out the seeds).

I then place the prepared squash into a large pot and cover with water.  I set over high heat to come to a boil and start checking after 10 minutes for doneness.  I just poke the skin side with a fork and if it penetrates easily, then it's ready (in the pic below, you can see how the fork easily broke the skin of the squash.) 

After the squash is done, I lay the halves on a cooling rack or just set it on a baking sheet to drain well & cool. 

When its cool enough to handle, you just scrape out the strands of squash (also one of Xavier's favorite parts) into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lil' Chef X scraping out spaghetti squash.

Chocolate-Butterscotch Cookie Bars

Chocolate-Butterscotch Cookie Bars

3/4 C butter, softened
3/4 C golden brown sugar, packed
1/2 C organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 C AP flour
1 C whole-wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2/3 C butterscotch chips
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.  Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.

Beat together butter, brown sugar, and cane sugar in a large bowl until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated.  In another bowl, mix together flours, baking sodas, & salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and blend until fully incorporated (don’t over mix or you’ll get a really tough texture to the bars).   Stir in the chips and spread into the buttered dish.

Bake 25-30 minutes.  Cool completely in dish on a wire rack before cutting. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Menu #22

Well, it’s another week of ridiculous heat in the Temecula Wine Country…estimated 104 degrees today!  So, I’m still having a bit of a cooking block since I’m dying for Fall weather to arrive.  This week I decided to make the menu planning a family affair and got input from both my guys, and here it is. . .

Monday:  Beer Can Chicken on the grill w/ grilled potato wedges & cheesy zucchini
Didn’t get to the chicken last week…

Tuesday:  Stuffed Salmon w/ wild rice pilaf & salad
This was Laddie’s input.

Wednesday:  Chicken Quesadillas w/ pinto beans & apple slices
I’m using the leftover chicken for these quesadillas, and I’m making a large batch of pinto beans in the crock pot.

Thursday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza & salad
I’m using the last of the leftover chicken for this pizza also.

Friday:  Breakfast for Dinner—Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, & Fruit
This was X-man’s input.

Saturday:  Dinner Out

Sunday:  Spanakopita Burgers in pitas w/ couscous-chickpea salad
This is another one of Laddie’s requests.  These really are tasty burgers.  I got the recipe years ago from a Rachel Ray show.  I use ground turkey and add caramelized onions & garlic with spinach & feta cheese. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu #21

Look at those two...aren't they cute?  Even with the goofy faces; actually mostly because of the goofy faces!  Xavier had a sleepover with Cousin Kennedy and he was thrilled as usual.  They played games, watched movies, and did art projects all day and had a blast.  They really do get along so well and it's great to watch (most of the time).  :-) 

As for our weekly menu, I had a bit of a cooking block and it was really hard for me to get this menu together.  I think it may be because of the mixed signals in my brain about wanting to start cooking Fall foods like soups & roasting & baking but being stuck with 90+ degree weather.  L  I may change it around since I’m not entirely enthused about it, but for now here it is . . .

Monday:  Veg Burgers w/ oven fries & fruit kabobs

Tuesday:  Chicken Parmesan w/ spaghetti squash, salad, & garlic bread

Wednesday:  Asian Veg & Noodles w/ chicken pot stickers

Thursday:  Turkey-Bacon-Swiss Panini w/ veg salad & fruit salad

Friday:  Beer Can Chicken (or “Dancing Chicken” as The Shinn Family refers to it) w/ black bean-corn salad & foil packet potatoes

Saturday:  Leftovers
Going wine tasting for a friend’s birthday, so most likely Pops will be putting dinner together for us.  J

Sunday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza w/ salad
I’m going to use the leftover Beer Can Chicken for this pizza, and I’m also grilling the pizza. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pot Roast & Potato Cakes

Last week I was supposed to make a Pot Roast in the slow cooker on our soccer night, but I just ran out of time and didn’t get it into the crock pot.  I decided to do the whole thing on the stove top, which I haven’t done in a while.  I also had leftover mashed potatoes so I decided to make potato cakes as a side dish.  My two guys loved the potato cakes and the pot roast was tender and flavorful. 


Pot Roast

1 3-lb chuck roast
1 bay leaf
S&P, to taste
2 T olive oil
1 onion, sliced into half moons
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
1 T tomato paste
1/2 C red wine
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 C beef stock

Crumble the bay leaf & mix together with S&P; use this to rub all over the meat.  Heat the oil over medium-high in a Dutch oven or a large heavy pan/pot that can be covered.  Brown the meat on all sides.  Remove the roast to a platter and add onions, carrots, & garlic to pan over medium-high.  When they begin to brown throw in tomato paste and mix well; cook for another 2 minutes.  Add red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon until the wine has evaporated.  Add the stock, turn the heat down to low and return the roast to the pot.  Turn the meat every 15 minutes and cook until tender (a fork should easily penetrate the meat & the juices should be clear), about 1 to 1-1/2 hours depending on thickness of roast.  Do not overcook!

To make a delicious pan sauce, remove roast from pot when finished cooking & skim the fat from the top.  Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring often, until thickened and almost evaporated.  Serve over the sliced pot roast. 

 Potato Cakes

1 C mashed potatoes
3 green onions, sliced
1 egg
2 T flour + 1/4 C for dredging
¼ C panko crumbs
2 T Canola oil

Mix together mashed potatoes, green onions, egg, 2T flour, & panko crumbs.  Shape into little cakes, lightly dredge in flour, and pat to remove excess flour.  Set in the refrigerator until ready to cook. 
When you’re ready to cook them, just heat up oil in a pan and brown each side until golden brown. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu #20

Kalua Pork Egg Rolls

Not a whole lot to say today except. . .WooHoo SF 49ers!!! 

That aside, here’s this week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Grilled hot dogs w/ macaroni salad & potato salad
Just sticking to the basics today.  Hubby’s Broncos are on Monday Night Football, so hot dogs & salads are perfect.  Go Broncos!!!

Tuesday:  Chicken Tacos w/ homemade salsa, rice, & black beans
I’m using a whole free-range chicken for these tacos.  At the CRUSH event I worked at over the weekend (which was tons of fun by the way!) a friend of mine was set up a few booths over, and he had a bunch of these beautiful chickens leftover and sent me home with some.

Wednesday:  Grilled Chicken over Salad Greens w/ cauliflower mac n cheese
I never got to the mac n cheese last week, so here goes another try at it.

Thursday:  Roasted Tomato Soup w/ grilled cheese sandwiches

Friday:  Dinner & Movie Out!
Not sure what we’re watching or where we’re eating. . .

Saturday:   Kalua Pork Egg Rolls, Orange Chicken, Pineapple-Bacon Fried Rice, Salad w/ Peanut Dressing
Our close friends, The Stanfords, along with my sister-in-law & her family are coming over for a dinner party so we can give them their Hawaiian souvenirs.  I haven’t decided on dessert yet. . .maybe pina colada pie or coconut cake or pineapple-coconut ice cream. . .???

Sunday:  Leftovers
I love party leftovers!!!  J