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.