Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Menu #71

December is just flying right by!  We are having some great holiday fun along the way though!  I am prepping for a holiday party this weekend, and I’m making this festive-looking pepper jelly as small Christmas gifts to hand out to our friends.  I’m short on time today, but I’ll get the recipe to you later this week.  It’s simple and scrumptious.  Our favorite ways to use the pepper jelly are on bagels with cream cheese, on brie en croute, and as a glaze for salmon…yum!

On to our weekly menu . . .

Monday:  B4D—Pork & Potato hash w/ tomatoes/poached eggs/pumpkin pancakes
I made pork steaks smothered in tomatoes and garlic the other night and I had 2 steaks leftover, so I’m using the leftover to make this hash. 

Tuesday:  Clam Chowder in “Sprouts” bread bowls
Didn’t get to this last week. 

Wednesday:  l/o

Thursday:  Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry/steamed brown jasmine rice/mandarin oranges & edamame

Friday:  Party Food Tasting
I will be busy with party food prep all day, so we will be forced to taste all day!  J

Saturday:  Holiday Party!
Barbecue Sausage Slices (spicy beef w/ jalapeno & sweet turkey w/ pineapple)
Queso Dip (spicy & mild) w/ tortillas chips
*Guests are bringing along more appetizers
Soup Station:
Chicken Stew
Roasted Tomato-Red Pepper Bisque
Cheesy Breadsticks
Whole-Wheat Rolls
Cooking-Decorating Table w/ sugar cookies, gingerbread people, vanilla frosting, and lots of sprinkles & candy
Peppermint Fudge

Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Menu #70

We’re back from Arizona and we had a great time!  Laddie’s parents bought a beautiful house on a golf course in the middle of the desert.  He had a great time golfing every day we were there.  X-man even played 18 holes with them one day and had a blast.  We drove to The Grand Canyon National Park and stayed in one of their lodges for a couple nights, what a great experience!  I’ve seen the Grand Canyon on TV plenty of times, but it was so breathtaking up close and personal. 

 Now, it’s back to school and back to our regular routine.  Here’s this week’s menu . . .

Monday:  Orange Chicken/Asian slaw/steamed jasmine rice

Tuesday:  Pasta & Bean soup/breadsticks

Wednesday:  Leftovers
This is Family Fun Night at X’s school and I’m in charge of one of the craft booths.  The kids get to make crafts and then wrap them to give out as Christmas gifts.  There will also be a cookie & cocoa station.  X is going to love this! 

Thursday:  Pork Chops/roasted broccoli/smashed potatoes
I’m not sure how I’m going to prepare the chops yet.   We got a bunch of meat from a friend who had a pig butchered and we are just loving the pork!  He gave us bacon, several different kinds of sausage, and lots of pork chops. 

Friday:  Make-Your-Own Pizza Night/ spinach salad/Ninjabread cookies
I found a great kit at our local grocery store for Ninjabread cookies!  There are little cookie cutters to cut out Ninja-shaped cookies and X can’t wait to make them!  J 

Saturday:  Clam Chowder/breadsticks
As much as I love clam chowder, I’ve never made my own for some reason.  I’m excited to finally give it a try!

Sunday:  Leftover Clam Chowder

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fall Dinner Party: Festive Pork Roast & Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce

Last weekend I threw a Fall Dinner party as a birthday celebration for some friends and family.  On the menu was a roasted pork loin, pasta with roasted butternut squash sauce, and bacon-wrapped green beans.  For the starter I served a fancy cheese platter with brie, gouda, Roquefort, and goat cheese rolled in cranberries & cinnamon.  For dessert I made a beautiful pumpkin roll served with butter pecan ice cream.  It sounds like a lot, but it was a fairly easy menu.  The roast was marinated for 24 hours and then just thrown in the oven to roast…easy.  I made the butternut squash sauce the day before, so all I had to do was re-warm it the night of the party and add some pasta water to thin it out a bit.  I blanched the green beans the day before, pre-cooked the bacon slightly, and wrapped them into bundles, so all I had to do was throw them in the oven for 10 minutes while the roast was resting.  I also made the pumpkin roll the day before, let it set in the fridge overnight, and just added a sprinkle of powdered sugar before serving. 

Festive Pork Roast

3/4 C dry red wine (I used a Paso Robles Pinot Noir)
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C ketchup
1/4 C water
2 T grape seed oil (use whatever cooking oil you have)
1 T soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 t curry powder
1/4 t black pepper
4.5-5 lb boneless pork loin roast

In a large sealable plastic bag, placed in a bowl to prevent spillage, add all the ingredients except the pork roast.  Seal the bag and mix everything up by squishing the bag until all the ingredients have combined to make a very fragrant marinade.  Add the pork roast and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Turn the bag every once in a while so the whole roast gets marinated well. 

After marinating, remove the roast from the bag reserving the marinade, pat dry with paper towels, and allow to set out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Place the meat on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan and insert a meat thermometer through the center of the roast.  Roast at 325 degrees for 2 hours 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 150 degrees. 

During the last 30 minutes of roasting, pour the marinade into a saucepot and bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes.  During the last 15 minutes of roasting, baste the pork roast with the marinade frequently. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce

3-3.5 lb butternut squash, roasted
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T butter
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 sage leaves, sliced or chopped
1 C reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 C heavy cream
S&P, to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepot over medium-high heat.  Add the bell peppers and cook until starting to caramelize.

Add the sage and garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the roasted butternut squash pulp and chicken broth, season with S&P, and mix to combine.  

Add this whole concoction to a blender and puree until smooth.  Return the sauce back to the saucepot and add parmesan cheese and cream, mix well, and taste for seasoning. 

This would be great tossed with hot pasta, but I just served it on the side so that we could add it as a sauce for the pork also and so that the kids could eat plain pasta if they wanted. 

The curry in the marinade of the pork goes so well with the butternut squash…yum!  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Menu #69

I'm not able to get to my computer right now, so no pics since I'm doing this post from my tablet.

Tomorrow I'm going to post pics and recipes from my dinner party I threw this past Saturday which, by the way, was fabulous!  I decided on a menu of red wine-marinated pork loin roast, pasta with roasted butternut-pepper sauce and bacon-wrapped green beans.  I had a fancy cheese platter for a starter and a beautiful pumpkin roll for dessert.  It was a great night, although I was moving a little slow the next day.  ;-)

We have a short menu because were leaving on Saturday to Arizona to visit my in-laws for a few days.  From there we head to a cabin in the Grand Canyon for a couple nights!  We'll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws on our way back to California.  This week's menu. . .

Monday:  Grilled Burgers on pretzel buns w/ spring mix, tomato, red onion, & Gouda/baked fries

Tuesday:  Zuppa Tuscana & garlic pretzel buns

Wednesday:  Creamy Tomato Sauce w/ whole-wheat penne/roasted spaghetti squash/salad w/  balsamic vinaigrette

Thursday:  leftovers

Friday:  Breakfast for Dinner to use up everything in fridge...probably frittata or potato-veg hash w/ poached eggs and pumpkin parfaits.

Saturday-Friday:  Visiting in-laws and the Grand Canyon!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Menu #68

X-man missed 2 days of school last week because he was sick with an ugly cold and now it’s my turn.  L  I’m in the recovery stage of an ugly cold and I can’t wait to be over this!  His sick-day soup of choice was tomato soup, which was pretty much all he ate last week.  My sick-day soup of choice is chicken noodle with lots of garlic and I definitely feel better after having it.  My mom always made garlicky soups and honey teas for me when I wasn't feeling well and it always made me feel better. . .and still does. 

Garlicky Chicken Noodle Soup

yields:  4 servings w/ leftovers

2 split chicken breasts
6 cups cold water
2 T grape seed oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 handfuls of baby carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 qt chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t poultry seasoning
2 large handfuls of whole-wheat egg noodles

Place the chicken breast in a pot and pour in the 6 cups of water and add a pinch of water.  Allow the water to just come to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer.  Poach the chicken for 30 minutes, remove from the water, and allow to cool before cutting into bite-size pieces.  Strain the poaching liquid and set aside for later use. 

In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and celery, season with S&P, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the reserved poaching liquid, chicken stock, bay leaves, garlic powder, and poultry seasoning, and season with S&P.  When it comes to a boil, partially cover the pot with a lid, lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn the heat up to medium and add the noodles to boil about 10 minutes, then add the cubed chicken and cook until warmed through and the noodles are tender. 

Tuesday:  Garlicky Chicken Noodle Soup/salad & breadsticks

Wednesday:  Leftover soup, salad, & breadsticks

Thursday:  Chicken Marsala/garlic & olive oil whole-wheat penne w/ zucchini

Friday:  Coconut-Curry Chicken Thighs w/ peppers/steamed jasmine rice

Saturday:  Fall Dinner Party!  Menu:  TBD
I’m having my BFF over for an early birthday dinner combined with a belated birthday dinner for her hubby.  It’s going to be a fun night filled with yummy food, tasty wine, and great conversation.   I haven’t quite decided on the menu yet though.  I want it to be comforting, Fall festive, and delicious, of course.  My first thought was a pancetta-wrapped pork roast w/ creamy baked polenta and butternut-pepper soup for a starter, but I’m now leaning towards a large pot of Beef Bourguignon over buttered noodles with a cheese, nut, & dried fruit platter for a starter.  I’m thinking something with apples for dessert. . .

Sunday:  Party Leftovers!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

This is a simple pork roast recipe that can easily be adapted to whatever you have on hand.  I used up some leftover vegetables from the week before along with herbs from the garden.  It was supposed to be served with polenta but I didn't have everything I needed for that, so I went with pesto smashed potatoes and parmesan roasted broccoli.  It was a delicious meal!

For the broccoli, I drizzled broccoli florets with olive oil and seasoned with S&P and roasted them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, added shredded parmesan cheese and roasted for another 5 minutes.  For the potatoes, I just made regular mashed potatoes with milk and a little butter and added a couple of large spoonfuls of pesto.

The next day I made little pesto tater tots with the leftover smashed potatoes and they were so tasty!  I used the same recipe for my regular mashed potato cakes omitting the addition of green onions.  I then placed them on parchment paper and baked them in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning them over during the baking process to brown all sides.  I served them with a marinara dipping sauce. . .yum!  I actually don't have a pic of the finished tots because they went so quickly!  :-)

Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

1 handful of parsley leaves
10 basil leaves
2 large sprigs of rosemary
1 T minced garlic
1-1/2 t salt
5 grinds of fresh black pepper
2 lb pork sirloin roast
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 C diced tomatoes
1/2 container sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 C reduced-sodium chicken broth

Coarsely chop up all the herbs and set them in a mortar along with the garlic and S&P.  

Use a pestle to grind everything into a paste.  You could easily use a small food processor for this step if you don’t have a mortar and pestle. 

Rub the garlic-herb paste all over the pork roast.  Heat up the oil in a large pan over high heat and sear the roast on all sides, creating an herb crust.

Put the carrots and onions into the slow cooker and add the roast on top.  Add the tomatoes on top of the roast along with the mushrooms and pour the chicken broth around the roast.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Menu #67

Orange Fudge

Wow…last week was crazy!  But we survived and it was actually a lot of fun.  I had Red Ribbon Week, which was a success, and there was all the excitement of Halloween, which was a blast!  I'll post about that yummy orange fudge later this week. 

Xavier the Green Ninja

This was our first year of real trick-or-treating because our old house always had tons of trick-or-treat traffic and X loved handing out candy to everyone.  This year we only have about 10 kids in our cul-de-sac, so everyone trick-or-treats in the community behind us.  Xavier the Green Ninja (he made us call him that all night!) ran into half his class and trick-or-treated with a group of friends the whole night.  He declared it the best Halloween ever!  J

Laddie & Xavier's favorite Halloween decoration!

This week’s menu doesn’t start until Tuesday night because we had our end-of-the-season soccer party last night at a pizza place.  The kids had a blast but X woke up not feeling well this morning and had to stay home sick.  L  I’m making a batch of chicken noodle soup this afternoon for him to have the next couple days.  As for Laddie and I, this is what we’re having this week. . .

Tuesday:  Slow-Cooker ItalianPork Roast/polenta/roasted broccoli
I’m going to post the pork roast recipe later this week.  I’m using up a bunch of leftover stuff from last week, including mushrooms, tomatoes, broth, and crossing my fingers it comes out like I’m envisioning. 

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Crispy Parmesan FishSticks w/ marinara dipping sauce/buttered noodles/garlicky spaghetti squash
Hopefully X-man is feeling better at this point so he can eat one of his favorite meals. 

Friday:  Crispy Beef Tacos w/ all the fixings/cilantro-lime rice/calabacitas

Saturday:  X-man’s classmate’s Birthday Party
We have been invited to a birthday party at one of X’s favorite classmates’ house.  He’s really excited and we get along great with the parents, so this should be a lot of fun. 

Sunday:  San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos!

I’m not sure what we’re doing yet, but I do know we are watching this game with Xavier’s soccer coach and her family as well as his soccer assistant coach’s family.  They are hardcore Chargers fans and BDL is a hardcore Broncos fan, so this will be a lot of fun.  We just don’t know if we’re hosting or coach is hosting. . .we’ll probably flip a coin.  ;-)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beef-Barley-Kale Soup

I love soup season!  This is a hearty, delicious soup that’s perfect for a chilly autumn night.  It’s even better the next day for leftovers too.  Xavier loved the soup with exception of the kale.  He doesn't like the texture kale, spinach, or any of the greens take on once they wilt, which I completely understand because I hated that texture as a child also.  He had a bowl of broth with lots of barley and carrots and had raw kale and a breadstick on the side; compromise that everyone can agree happily upon.  ;-) 

Beef-Barley-Kale Soup

2 T grape seed oil
3 carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
S&P, to taste
14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
4 C beef broth
4 C chicken broth
2 C water
1 C barley
1 bunch kale, stemmed & chopped

In a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat up the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the carrots and onion and cook until starting to caramelize, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  

Add the ground beef, season with S&P, and cook until browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.  Add the broths and water, season with S&P, and allow to come to a boil.  

Add the barley and cook about 10 minutes.  Add the kale and cook another 10 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and serve.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Menu #66

Do you know that when Xavier started Kindergarten I thought to myself, “Wow, all the free time I’ll have!”  Silly me!  With all the fall activities lately, I haven’t had a chance to make a real menu, much less post one.  There was a ton to do for the school’s Fall Festival the last couple weeks,  but I did go shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables and kind of just threw things together with what I had in the pantry and freezer.  Then I went straight to getting everything in order for our Red Ribbon Week, which kicked off this morning. 

Even with all the hustle and bustle, I’ve managed to get dinner on the table every night (except weekend nights…that’s my time off!).  The key has been simplicity.  I’ve been making very quick dinners and have been using the slow-cooker constantly.   

Above is a super delish butternut squash-red pepper soup I made last week that everyone loved.  I roasted the butternut squash in the morning while we were getting ready for school, which saved a lot of time in the evening.  Here’s the recipe. . .

Creamy Butternut-Red Pepper Soup

3 T grape seed oil
1 butternut squash
S&P, to taste
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 C heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Split the squash in half, remove the seeds, drizzle with 1 T grape seed oil, season with salt, and roast for about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Heat 2 T grape seed oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add the bell peppers, onion, and carrot, and season with salt & pepper.   Cook the vegs until starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes.  

Scoop the butternut squash pulp into the pot and stir. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from the heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth, add cream, and taste for seasoning. 

I served ours with a crumbled bacon garnish and garlic wheat toast. 

This week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Sliders/slow-cooker BBQ potatoes/broccoli salad
I sliced 4 small red potatoes and added them to the slow cooker.  I then seasoned 2 very large chicken breasts with BBQ seasoning, cut into 4 smaller chunks, and added them to the slow cooker also.  I topped the whole thing with about 1/2 C BBQ sauce.  Six hours later, I will have a yummy dish of shredded BBQ chicken sliders with BBQ potatoes served with a dollop of Greek yogurt and sliced scallions.

Tuesday:  Smorgasbord Night!    
We have plenty of leftovers to work on, including the yummy butternut squash soup above. 

Wednesday:  Italian Subs/pickles/baked onion rings or fries/fruit salad

Thursday:  Happy Halloween!!!  Ghost Pizzas/bloody eyeballs/witch’s fingers
Halloween menu translation—Ghost-shaped white pizzas with sliced black olives for eyes and mouths, turkey meatballs in marinara, and baby carrots with almond slices for fingernails.  J  Our school’s PTA is making Halloween goodies for the teachers, so I’m making orange fudge also. 

Friday:  Dinner Out or Take-Out
This is the last day of Red Ribbon Week and I know I'll be exhausted.  Were having sushi...just not sure if we're eating out or in.

Saturday:  Grilled Steaks & Prawns/baked potatoes/salad

Sunday:  Chicken Egg Rolls/veg pot stickers/rice noodle salad w/ peanut vinaigrette

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Menu #65

So Happy!

Yesterday’s menu was delayed because my whole family came to visit and we had a blast while they were here!  We went to the beach on Saturday with my mom, brother, sis-in-law, niece, and uncle and had one of the best times ever at the beach.  The tide was so low, the weather was absolutely perfect, and everybody was smiling and laughing.  I love days like those!  Then my other brother gave us all a surprise visit on Sunday morning with his twin babies and his fiancĂ©!  We watched football together all day, Xavier showed off his bike and soccer prowess as much as he could, and we had a fab BBQ of ribs, garlic-parmesan potatoes, baked beans, watermelon, and ended the whole thing off with homemade chocolate M&M ice cream. . .yum!  We had a houseful but Xavier could not have been more delighted.  The last of my family left last night, so here I am getting things back in order today. 

First things first, this week’s menu. . .

Tuesday:  Leftovers
We have so many leftovers!!!

Wednesday:  Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken Tostadas/cilantro-lime rice/refried beans/avocado-mango salsa
I have a lot going on tomorrow with Red Ribbon Week prep and volunteering for after-school movie, so I’m throwing salsa and chicken thighs in the slow cooker to do all the work for me.  I’m prepping my mango salsa in the morning with the addition of avocado.  All I’ll have to do when I get home is steam the rice and make refried beans.

Thursday:  Leftover Makeover--Chicken Chilaquilles/cilantro-lime rice/beans/avocado-mango salsa
I’m going to use leftover corn tortillas and chicken and layer them in a baking dish with cheese and salsa to make chilaquilles. 

Friday:  Parmesan Fish Sticks/mac n cheese/fruit salad
Laddie has a booth at the Del Mar Home Improvement Show this weekend, so it’s just me and the little guy for dinner.  I let him pick dinner for both Friday and Saturday, and I’m actually pretty pleased with his choices.  J

Saturday:  Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Soup & garlic-parmesan bread

Sunday:  Homemade Pizza/salad

X-man & Cousin Ken :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Menu #64

Cowboy Bowls

These sausage-bean-rice bowls are definitely in Laddie’s top 5 comforting dinners.  This is the kind of food he grew up eating on their ranch in Minnesota, which is where the name, Cowboy Bowls, comes from.  It’s a warm, comforting bowl of rice topped with sausage, beans, and peppers and then splashed with hot sauce.  This particular Cowboy Bowl was filled with Mayacoba beans, jasmine rice, and an array of hot & sweet peppers from our garden. . .Yum!

I’m running short on time, so straight to this week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Beer Can Chicken on the Grill/garlicky red potatoes/salad
Didn’t get to this last week. . .

Tuesday:  Chicken Salad Sliders/potato salad/fruit
Using leftovers from last night.

Wednesday:  Slow-Cooker Hawaiian Pork/steamed brown jasmine rice/edamame

Thursday:  Mac n Cheese/salad/fruit
BDL is on an overnight business trip to OR, so I let X-man pick dinner.  J

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday:  ???
My mom, brother, and my brother’s new girlfriend are coming to visit for the weekend.  We haven’t decided if we’re going to BBQ at our place or go out to eat. 

Sunday:  Pizza Dip & Italian White Bean Dip w/ soft pretzels & veggies 
Football Lounge Day!  We're eating pretzels & veggies with yummy dips while we watch the 49ers on Sunday Night Football. . .Go 49ers!!! I'll post about both of these yummy dips next week!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Slow-Cooker Green Chile-Chicken Stew

This is the perfect dinner for a chilly Autumn weeknight, after a very long day, when all you want to do is sit down to a warm bowl of comforting food.  This was supposed to be green chile-chicken & rice burritos, but with the chilly weather last night this was much more appropriate.  Although there are a lot of chiles in this they are all mild, so it isn’t very spicy. 

Slow-Cooker Green Chile-Chicken Stew

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lb)
2 7-oz  cans whole roasted green chiles, sliced + 1 4-oz can diced roasted green chiles (just because this is what I had in my pantry…use all whole or all diced if you want)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 tomatillos, diced
1 large tomato, diced (I used an array of tomatoes from my garden, and I’m guessing they were equivalent to 1 large)
2 Serrano chiles, minced (you can replace 1 jalapeno or omit altogether for a more mild stew)
1/2 T minced garlic
1 C redcued-sodium chicken stock
Salt, to taste

First add the chicken to the slow-cooker and top with the canned green chiles.  

Then throw in the onions, tomatillos, tomatoes, Serrano chiles (if using), and garlic.  Add the chicken stock and season with salt.  

Cook on low for 6 hours.  About halfway through cooking, give everything a mix and re-adjust the chicken a bit.

Serve this stew over steamed rice with chopped cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Menu #63

Is it really Monday again?!?!  Last week’s menu didn’t work as planned because there were a lot of unexpected events throughout the week.  BDL was really sick for the first part of the week, I’ve been chosen by the PTA to run Red Ribbon Week at my son’s school so there were a lot of meetings about that, impromptu birthday dinner out, and we hosted a BBQ for X’s soccer team after our game on Saturday.  Needless to say, there weren’t too many items from the menu cooked.  I’m not complaining though because we had a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed my night out with the girls for my friend, Lori’s, birthday and our soccer team BBQ was a blast!

 We made homemade vanilla ice cream for the soccer team but there just wasn’t enough to go around for the adults, so Laddie & I decided to make another batch the next day!  This time I used chocolate mint from our garden to steep with the cream and milk and added mini chocolate chips to make Chocolate Mint & Chip Ice Cream, and it was so creamy and refreshing with just a hint of mint.  BDL declared it his favorite ice cream to date and X didn’t have much to say because he was too busy licking the bowl clean.  ;) 

Chocolate Mint & Chip Ice Cream

1/2 gallon heavy cream
1 qt whole milk
2-2/3 C organic cane sugar
4 t real vanilla extract
Handful fresh chocolate mint (use whatever mint you can find at the store)
2 handfuls mini chocolate chips

Put the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and mint into a large pot over medium heat, stirring often.  When you start to see wisps of steam, turn down the heat to low and allow the mint to steep for about 30 minutes.  Take the pot off the heat, transfer to a large bowl, and set in the fridge to cool completely.  When it’s cooled, take out the mint and pour the cream mixture into your ice cream machine and use it according to your machine’s directions.  After about 20 minutes of churning, add your chips so that they don’t just all sink to the bottom. 

This week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Teriyaki Fish/stir-fry brown rice/edamame & pineapple
This is carried over from last week, but I didn’t give you the back story on it yet.  I’m not sure where he got it from but Xavier has been begging me to make catfish!  ???  Well, when I went shopping haddock was on sale and I bought it and told him it was catfish.  Don’t judge me for lying to a 5-year-old please! 

Tuesday:  Slow-Cooker Maya Coba Beans/leftover rice/leftover sausage/sauteed peppers
We have leftover sausage from the soccer BBQ, so I’m going to make sausage-bean-pepper bowls over leftover brown jasmine rice.

Wednesday:  B4D—veg frittata/waffles/yogurt-granola parfaits

Thursday:  Slow-Cooker Green Chili-Chicken & Rice Burritos/salad
Carried over from last week. . .

Friday:  Leftovers or Take-Out

Saturday:  Roasted or Beer Can Chicken/potatoes/cucumber-tomato salad
Depending on the weather, either I am going to roast a wholechicken and potatoes in the oven or BDL is going to grill it beer-can style with grilled potato wedges on the side.  I’m really hoping for the roasted version because it’s been a while since we’ve had it that way.

Sunday:  Chicken Salad Sliders/potato salad/leftover cucumber-tomato salad
I’m using the leftover chicken for chicken salad and the same with the potatoes. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Big Daddy Laddie's Wings & Drumettes

Over the years Laddie has perfected a few recipes, such as BBQ tri-tip, BBQ ribs, super garlic bread, and these hot wings & drumettes.  Whenever he perfects a recipe he dubs it a “Big Daddy Laddie” recipe; hence the BDL nickname.  There are no precise measurements for these BDL recipes because he kind of just throws them all together, but I can tell you what ingredients were used and how he cooked it.  J

BDL's Wings & Drumettes

Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Garlic cloves
Cayenne peppers
1/2 stick butter

So, he just throws the wings into a big pan and starts drizzling on the sauces and honey.  He adds whole crushed garlic cloves, cayenne peppers, and pats of butter.  The honey and butter help the sauce thicken and coat the wings perfectly.   He sets the whole pan on the grill and allows it to cook in the sauce for about 20 minutes.  He then removes them from the sauce and finishes it all off by grilling them.   

These wings and drumettes are super yummy and are perfectly paired with a cool veggie platter, ranch dressing, and a nice refreshing mug of beer.  Now we are ready for Football Lounge Day!  J  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Menu #62

Yup, I missed my weekly menu plan post yesterday. . .again!  My hubby is pretty sick right now, so yesterday I took care of my duties as well as some of his and at the end of the day I just didn’t have it in me to sit at the computer and type away.  Today things are looking much better and I’m ready to post my weekly menu. 

Above is this week’s breakfast item. . .breakfast quesadillas!  These are so yummy and can also be made and thrown in the freezer  to have throughout the week.  I just added scrambled eggs with zucchini, potatoes, and green onions to a whole-wheat tortilla and topped with strips of sharp cheddar cheese.  I sprayed them down with olive oil and toasted each side.  I served mine with a dollop of plain non-fat Greek yogurt and chipotle salsa. . .yum!

This week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Slow-Cooker Tri-Tip Sliders w/ BBQ au jus/watermelon
I got this all ready in the morning before Laddie even got up and then found out he was sick.  Needless to say, I had sliders by myself and X had PB&J in a slider bun with watermelon.  This is a super easy tri-tip recipe and the meat comes out so flavorful and moist. I'll post about it tomorrow.  

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Teriyaki Fish/rice noodle salad/edamame & pineapple
I’m going to marinate fish in a pineapple juice-teriyaki sauce and serve with a rice noodle salad that’s tossed with peanut vinaigrette, snap peas, radishes, and green onions.  

Thursday:  Slow-Cooker Green Chili-Chicken & Rice Burritos/salad w/ salsa dressing
This is another super easy slow-cooker recipe that's perfect for a busy day.  I add chicken breast to the slow-cooker along with chopped tomatoes, tomatillos, chopped green chilies, onions, and garlic and cook on low for 6 hours.  I shred the chicken and add steamed brown rice.  

Friday:  Delivery or Take-Out
I’m also teaching a Lil’ Chefs Class this afternoon and we’re making our own ice cream and Magic Shell.  Fun!

Saturday:  Crispy Chicken Sliders/fruit salad/onion rings

Sunday:  Football Food!  Antipasto Platter & Pizza Spirals

I’ll post about these pizza spirals too.  I’ve been seeing a lot of these “pizza rolls” on blogs lately.  It’s just pizza dough with sauce, cheese, and toppings and then rolled and sliced before baking.  They look like something X-man would love, so I’m going to try them out with just sauce and cheese and I’ll let you know how they turn out.  For the antipasto platter, I’m just setting out salami, pepperoni, caprese salad, goat cheese-stuffed red peppers, and olives.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fish Tacos w/ Peach-Avocado Salsa

These fish tacos are easy, healthy, and tasty; everything I’m looking for in a weeknight dinner.  The rice I served alongside was also simple and served as X’s taco filling as well.

I steamed brown jasmine rice in a rice cooker with just water and salt.  I had slow-cooker black beans in the freezer to add but you could easily use a can of black beans; be sure to drain and rinse either way.  When the rice was done, I added the rinsed beans, 1-2 T chopped cilantro, juice of 1 lime, and S&P to taste. . .Ta da, you have cilantro-lime black beans & brown rice!   X tried the fish and actually enjoyed it but he was not interested in the salsa at all, so he just had peaches on the side.  :-) 

Fish Tacos

1/4 C flour
1/4 C cornmeal
1/2 T mild chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
S&P, to taste
3 4-oz white fish fillets (sole, snapper, tilapia, swai, halibut, cod. . .), sliced into strips
2 T grape seed oil
6 corn tortillas
Peach-Avocado Salsa for serving, recipe follows

Mix together flour, cornmeal, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and S&P in a shallow dish.  Dredge the fish into the seasoned flour mixture.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Once heated add the floured fish and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
Serve the fish in warmed corn tortillas with peach-avocado salsa.

Peach-Avocado Salsa

1 peach, peeled and diced
1 tomato, diced
1 serrano chili, minced
1 T cilantro, chopped finley
4 green onions, thin sliced
1 avocado, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt

Mix everything together and serve with fish tacos.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Menu #61

Woohoo. . .my weekly menu is actually being posted on a Monday!  I owe it to our fun and relaxing weekend, beginning with X’s  first soccer game of the season, followed by a visit to our friends’ for a belated birthday BBQ and swimming, and ending with Football Lounge Sunday.  By the way, whoop whoop for the 49ers!!! 

Last week I made a simple focaccia with leftover pizza dough and it was wonderful!  The whole family loved it and it was great packed in X’s lunch the next day also.  Tonight I’m going to try grilling it and I’m betting it will be even better.  Although I only used half a dough ball, I’m going to give you the recipe using a 1-lb pizza dough ball, and here it is. . .

Simple Whole-Wheat Focaccia

Whole-wheat flour & cornmeal, about 1 Tbs each
1 lb prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
1 t garlic powder
1/2 T dried Italian seasoning
Salt, to taste

Adjust your oven rack to the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425.  Add a pizza stone to preheat also, but if you don’t have a baking stone just use a baking sheet with cooking spray. 

Lightly sprinkle the flour and cornmeal on the surface you will be stretching your dough.  If your dough seems a little hard to stretch let it sit at room temp for about 10 minutes and try again.  Stretch into a large oval and transfer to baking stone or sheet. 

Drizzle the olive oil onto the dough and massage it into the dough making dimples throughout the dough. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt. 

Bake the focaccia about 20 minutes, until golden brown. 

This week’s menu . . .

Monday:  homemade SpaghettiO’s/grilled focaccia/salad
Go Chargers!!!  Although I am a loyal 49ers fan, I have a soft spot for the Chargers since I lived in San Diego for many years.  :-)

Tuesday:  fish tacos w/ peach salsa & avocado/rice & black beans
I have peaches leftover from last week, so I’m going to use my mango salsa recipe and sub peaches. 

Wednesday:  B4D—French toast/omelets/fruit & yogurt smoothies

Thursday:  chicken & veg quesadillas w/ peach salsa & avocado/rice & black beans

Friday:  Family Game Night!  crispy Chex chicken fingers w/ honey-mustard sauce/veg platter w/ garlic-herb yogurt dip/apple slices w/ caramel sauce
X-man’s teacher sent a family activity list in his monthly homework folder and 10 of the activities must be checked off by the end of the month.  Board games are on the list, so family game night has replaced family movie night for the month.  Tasting different kinds of apples is also on the list, so I bought an array of apples to set up with caramel sauce for our dessert.  J

Saturday:  Date Night! 
Xavier is heading to our friend’s, The Browns, for a sleepover and we’re heading to Brew Legion for a tasty dinner and even tastier beer.  After dinner, we’re meeting a bunch of friends at a comedy club. 

Sunday:  Football Lounge Day!  grilled mussels/grilled Spanish chorizo/crusty bread
I’ve always steamed mussels on the stovetop but we thought we would give grilling mussels a shot.  We’re going to set them in a large pan with white wine, lemons, garlic, & herbs and cover tightly.  I’ll post all about them next week.  J

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sausage & Veggie Breakfast Burritos

I didn’t post my weekly menu this week but for good reason; I was just too freakin' busy this week!  We went to Visalia over Labor Day to visit my family for our birthdays.  My brother threw us a big birthday BBQ with grilled steaks and all the fixings including chocolate cake.  He stole Xavier for the afternoon and they baked our cake together—so cool! When we returned home, my in-laws were here to greet us.  It was nice visiting with them and X loved having breakfast with grandpa before school.  From there it’s been room parent & PTA meetings, soccer team mom obligations, cooking for the PC menu, and so on and so forth.  

With our hectic schedule I’ve been trying to think of ways to simplify our lives, and these breakfast burritos are one of my steps in that direction.    I made a big batch of eggs with whatever I could find in the fridge, wrapped them in whole-wheat tortillas, and froze.  Just like that we have a healthy and tasty breakfast to go!  I also started making big smoothie batches and freezing them in ice cube trays.  I just throw a couple smoothie cubes in a cup to thaw a bit while I’m getting ready in the morning.  I nuke a burrito, grab my smoothie, and I'm out the door!  :-)

Sausage & Veggie Breakfast Burrito

1 T grape seed oil
12-oz package breakfast sausage, chopped into bite-size bits
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
6 mini sweet bell peppers, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
12 eggs, whisked
Hot sauce, to taste
S&P, to taste
1 C Colby jack cheese, shredded
6 whole-wheat tortillas
Salsa to serve alongside

*Sub whatever meat, vegs, or cheese you have; this is just what I had left in my fridge when I returned from our trip to Visalia.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add sausage to cook for about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.  Add bell peppers and green onions and cook another 5 minutes.  

Turn down to medium-low, add the eggs, and season with hot sauce and S&P.  Allow to cook for a couple minutes, add cheese and fold in.  

When eggs are cooked to your liking, heat up your tortillas and wrap them into burritos.  Serve with salsa.  

 **If you’re going to freeze them, allow the eggs to cool before wrapping into burritos.  I don’t add salsa to the burritos because it makes them a bit too wet to freeze, which is why I serve the salsa alongside.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mexican Brown Rice & Black Beans

I grew up eating rice and beans at almost every meal and have never tired of the combination.  It’s wholesome, filling, and comforting.  This recipe is based off my mom’s Mexican rice but I’ve added black beans and chicken stock for protein and I’m subbing brown rice for the white rice to add more fiber.  Xavier eats this as his taco filling and we eat it as a side dish or as a base for a taco bowl.

Mexican Brown Rice & Black Beans

1 T grape seed oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 C brown rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 C diced tomatoes (you can use tomato puree, sauce, or even salsa)
S&P, to taste
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 C chicken stock(you can use all water if you don’t have any stock)
1-1/2 C water
2 T cilantro
1 15-oz can black bean, drained & rinsed

Add the oil to a pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and cook until the onions begin to caramelize and the rice is toasted, about 5 minutes more.  Add the garlic and cook another 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and season with S&P, garlic powder, and onion powder, cook another minute.  Add the chicken stock and water, bring to a boil, cover and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 45-50 minutes, until tender.  When it’s done, fold in black beans and cilantro and serve.