Sunday, August 26, 2012

Menu #17

This is little man on his way to school on everyone else's first day (he technically started last month but the actual Pre-K curriculum hasn't started til this week. . .they were having summer fun up until now).  ;)

This week's menu is only 1 day and the rest of the week it's tropical drinks out of coconuts, brightly-colored fish, and lots & lots of beach time!!!  Aloha!  :-)

Monday:  Breakfast for Dinner--Soy Chorizo & Black Bean Scramble w/ corn tortillas, breakfast potatoes, and fruit salad.
I'm using the leftovers to make killer breakfast burritos for our trip to LAX the next a.m.  :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nutella Blondies

While we’re on the subject of baking, let’s talk Nutella Blondies!  For book club a few weeks ago, I made these delectable little treasures.  They have such a great butterscotch-brown sugar aroma while baking.  I just knew there was going to be something great coming from that oven and I was not disappointed in the least.  Both my big guy and my little guy were overjoyed to sample them for me. . .over & over & over!  J

Nutella Blondies

Yields:  24 blondies

1-1/2 C brown sugar, packed
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 t vanilla extract
2-1/4 C AP flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1-1/2 C butterscotch chips
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 C Nutella

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease 9 x 13 baking pan & line with foil, letting ends hang over 3 inches along the 2 long edges.  Grease foil.

Combine sugar & butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat & let cool for at least 15 minutes.  Whisk in 2 whole eggs & vanilla.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder & salt.  Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix until smooth.  Mix in butterscotch chips and spread evenly into prepared pan. 

Using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, egg yolk, & Nutella until smooth.  Drop spoonfuls of Nutella mixture over batter in pan & use tip of a small knife to swirl it in, being careful not to scrape bottom of pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack.  When cooled, cover & transfer to refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours before cutting.  Before cutting, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan to loosen and then remove the blondies from the pan using foil handles. 

Peanut Butter Buttons

I don’t know what it is about cloudy mornings, but my instinct tells me I should bake cookies.  So, Xavier and I scoured the pantry for ingredients and decided on Peanut Butter Buttons.  These are the perfect cookies to bake with kids because they are super easy to make and only have 4 ingredients!  As we waited the whole 10 minutes for them to bake, Xavier danced around the kitchen singing, “I love Cookies!  Oh, I really love cookies!”  I love baking with kids!!!  J

Peanut Butter Buttons

1 C peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
3/4 C brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
3/4 t baking soda

Heat oven to 350.  Set oven racks on bottom third and top third so you can bake 2 sheets at one time.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using an electric mixer beat all ingredients together until well incorporated.  Drop them by the teaspoonful onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake 5 minutes, switch pans around, and bake another 5 minutes.  Allow them to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes; then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Menu #16

Spicy Peanut Dressing

Aloha!  Only 8 more days before we’re off on our Maui vacation, and I am absolutely ecstatic!   I feel like I did when I was a little girl and it was the night before going to Disneyland, but I have over a week to wait still!  That’s actually a good thing in reality though, because I have a lot to get done before we take off.  ;-)

Our Luau Party went over fabulously but, I’m sad to say, I have no photographic evidence.  I was too busy hosting and have a great time. The food was delicious with the exception of the coconut rice pudding.  I had to triple the recipe and in that translation something went haywire and just didn’t turn out quite as I had wanted, but there were still pineapple upside down cupcakes for dessert along with McConnell’s Island Coconut Ice Cream.  Now let me tell you about this ice cream…it’s the best ice cream ever!!!  It’s definitely one of my top 5 favorite things to eat right now.  My friend, Natalie, brought it to the luau to save me from my rice pudding debacle…Thanks Natalie!  McConnell’s is based out of Santa Barbara and uses a Hybrid French Pot Process to make their ice creams.  I’m not sure what this process entails, but let me tell you it makes some pretty damn good ice cream.  You see, I know all this information because as I’m typing this I’m eating this ice cream out of the pint.  I know it’s shameful but as I started typing about it I was overwhelmed with a yearning for it.  If you like coconut, you must try this ice cream!

Now let’s talk this week’s menu.  I have some luau leftovers to work with and the rest of the week I’m emptying the freezer and pantry before we leave to Hawaii.   

Monday:  Teriyaki Chicken Wraps w/ melon cubes & green salad w/ spicy peanut dressing

Tuesday:  Kalua Pork Egg Rolls w/ pineapple salsa, steamed brown rice & green salad w/ spicy peanut dressing
I’m going to make eggs rolls with the leftover kalua pork, cabbage, carrots, & scallions and make a salsa with the leftover pineapple for dipping.  I’ll just finish a few for dinner and freeze the rest to use as a quick appetizer for a future party.  J 

Wednesday:  Shrimp Louie Salad w/ garlic wheat toast

Thursday:  Pasta Primavera w/ garlic wheat toast & salad w/ balsamic vinaigrette
My primavera will include broccoli, yellow squash, red bell pepper, tomato, onion, & garlic w/ whole-wheat linguine.   

Friday:  Rachel Sandwiches w/ oven fries & fruit salad
The Rachel sandwich is related to the Reuben sandwich, but turkey is used instead of corned beef.  I make it on Rye with 1000 island dressing, coleslaw, & Swiss cheese. 

Saturday:  BBQ Chicken w/ quinoa-black bean salad and grilled peaches

Sunday:  Leftovers

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chipotle Beef & Rice Stuffed Peppers

As I mentioned in my previous post, my pepper plants have been producing like crazy with this scorching heat.  The Big Bertha pepper plant has produced the most with large peppers that are perfect for stuffing.  I've made stuffed peppers a ton of different ways, but this particular recipe is Laddie's favorite. 


Chipotle Beef & Rice Stuffed Peppers

4 large bell peppers
1 T Canola oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t cumin
S&P, to taste
1-14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers, minced
1 C cooked brown rice
1/2 C hot water

Lay the pepper on its flattest side and slice off the top third so that you can hollow out and stuff your pepper.  Dice the pepper tops.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook diced peppers and onions until translucent.  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.  Add beef, season with garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and S&P, and cook until browned (it doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through at this point because it’s going to continue to cook once stuffed into the pepper).  Add tomatoes & chipotle and stir to incorporate.  Take it off the heat and fold in the rice. 

Stuff the peppers with the beef and rice mixture and set the stuffed peppers in a shallow pot with a lid.  Add about 1/2 cup hot water to the bottom of the pan so that the peppers can steam, cover, and cook over medium-low for about 20 minutes.  Check the doneness of the pepper with a knife or fork and allow to cook longer if you want more tender peppers. 

Menu #15

Above is a picture of my beautiful Big Bertha bells!  The extremely hot weather has really kicked our pepper plants into high gear, and they are producing a ton right now…yay!

This week’s menu is really only three dinners because we are ending the week with a BBQ luau.  We’ve invited family and friends over to hang out and enjoy a Hawaiian feast before we leave on our vacation to Maui.  We’re serving Kalua pork, teriyaki chicken skewers, pineapple fried rice, macaroni salad, coconut rice pudding, and pineapple upside down cupcakes! 

Monday:  Tamales w/ black beans & calabacitas
I made a big batch of black beans last week so I’m going to use them up as much as I can this week, and what I don’t use I’ll just freeze for another time.

Tuesday:  Turkey & Swiss Wraps w/ broccoli salad & fruit salad

Wednesday:  Salsa Chicken w/ quinoa & black beans & whole-wheat tortillas
This dish is just boneless, skinless chicken breasts browned on both sides.  I then add salsa, cover, and let it finish cooking over medium-low heat.  When it’s done I take it off the heat, top it with cheese and cover for about 5 minutes to melt. 

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Prepping for BBQ luau
I’m going to pretty much make everything on this day so it’s ready to go for tomorrow’s party.  There will be a lot of taste testing so either we’ll be too full for dinner or we’ll just order a pizza.  J

Saturday:  BBQ Luau Party!

Sunday:  Luau Leftovers!  J 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Delicious Muffin

Let’s talk delicious muffins!  Xavier has dubbed these pumpkin muffins The Delicious Muffin, so who am I to change the name?  I know it isn’t quite pumpkin season, but I’ve had this can of pumpkin in the pantry and I needed to use it up.  I also had a few other delicious add-ins that just needed to be used up, such as the raisins, walnuts, and white chocolate chunks, and just like that The Delicious Muffin was created!

The Delicious Muffin

2 C sugar
1/2 C canola oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 C canned pumpkin
1/2 C water
1-1/2 C AP flour
1-1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t ground cloves
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 t salt
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C white chocolate chunks

In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin & water. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices & salt. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture & mix just until combined.  Fold in raisins, walnuts, & white chocolate chunks. Spoon into greased muffin tins or use paper muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Menu #14

This past week's menu went as planned with some major highlights that I will be posting about this week—namely Chipotle Beef & Rice Stuffed Peppers and Nutella Blondies! 

I’m looking forward to the Butter Chicken in this week’s menu.  It is an Indian-spiced, slow-cooked chicken dish I’ve heard about several times but have never tried.  I’m also going to make some Barley Strawberry Scones that I will definitely post all about later this week.  Now for the task at hand—this week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Grilled Chicken Kabobs w/ cucumber-tomato couscous salad & minty melon

Tuesday:  Butter Chicken w/ steamed brown rice, mango, & garlic naan
Naan is an Indian flatbread that I usually serve with curries and other Indian-spiced foods.  It comes in whole-wheat, garlic, and curry flavors.  Xavier’s favorite is garlic naan.

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Beef & Black Bean Tacos w/ calabacitas & Mexican brown rice
Calabacitas is a Mexican squash dish that is cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese. 

Friday:  Pizza or Chinese Delivery
Xavier and I are going to San Diego Safari Park on this day with my best friend, Janna.  I think all I’ll have energy for at the end of the day is a phone call for delivery.  J

Saturday:  Cooking Class—Appetizers
I’m teaching a cooking class for some friends of all appetizers on this evening, so dinner will consist of jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped BBQ shrimp, mini Caesar salads in parmesan cups, brie en croute, roasted garlic bulbs w/ crostini, and caramelized onion dip.  Everyone is bringing along wine or dessert, so it will be a fun night of appetizers, desserts, and wine…oh my!

Sunday:  Grilled Fish Packets w/ asparagus & potatoes