Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brussels Sprouts & Potatoes

A couple weeks ago I mentioned I was going to try a new Brussels sprouts recipe, and I’m here to tell you it was fabulous!  I really like the bacon Brussels sprouts dish at Stone Brewery’s restaurant, so I tried to re-create that with the addition of red potatoes.  Because there was bacon involved, Xavier even tried it and said, “I don’t like it a lot but I do like it a tiny bit.”  That’s a very small victory for vegetables!!!  J

2 T olive oil
3 slices bacon, sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 red potatoes, quartered
S&P, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large oven-proof skillet. Add bacon & cook until golden brown and crisp, then remove it and set aside onto a paper towel-lined plate. 

Add the onions to the pan & cook until soft. Add the Brussels sprouts and potatoes and toss to combine. Season with S&P, transfer to the oven, & roast about 30 min, until vegs are cooked through and golden brown.  

Top with cooked bacon and serve!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Menu #35

There was no recipe posting this past week because the stomach flu hit our house and there wasn’t a whole lot of food being eaten.  Towards the end of the week when everyone was feeling better, we all got together in the kitchen to make ourselves breakfast for dinner.  While I made the pancakes, Xavier did the strawberry kabobs & Laddie did the breakfast meats.  The pancakes were a hit!  Xavier sneaked 2 pancakes before we even sat down for dinner!  The yogurt sauce was super quick & easy with only 2 ingredients. . .plain Greek yogurt & maple agave. J    Here’s the recipe for the pancakes. . .

Oatmeal Pancakes

1 C old fashioned oats
1/2 C AP flour
1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
3/4 C plain Greek yogurt
3/4 C milk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
2 really ripe bananas, mashed up
3/4 C raisins
1/4 C walnuts, chopped
1/4 C melted butter

Whisk together oats, flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined (don’t over-mix or you’ll get dense pancakes).  Now fold in mashed bananas, raisins, & walnuts. Stir in the melted butter.

Keep a close eye on these pancakes while cooking on a griddle because they get dark very quickly because of the sugars from the bananas.  Cook them on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side.

Now for this week’s menu. . .

Tuesday:  Barley Risotto w/ spinach salad & crusty bread
Didn’t get to this last week.  This recipe is done in the slow-cooker with acorn squash & mushrooms.  It’s my first time making it, so I’ll post the results.

Wednesday:  Chicken Enchilada Casserole w/ pinto beans & brown rice
Since I’m getting things ready for the big Super Bowl Party this week, I’m making dinner easy on myself by using up some food I’ve had saved in the freezer.  I’m using up freezer chicken enchilada filling & sauce I had left from enchiladas last month.

Thursday:  Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese w/ chicken cutlets & apple slices
I also have a couple of these mac n cheese casseroles in the freezer for weeks like this. 

Friday:  Pan-Seared Fish w/ mustard sauce, brown rice pilaf & salad
I’m using up some Swai fish I have in the freezer and serving it with this delicious sauce made of Greek yogurt, honey, Dijon, lemon juice, & chives.  It’s a great sauce for either fish or chicken.

Saturday:  Leftovers or Pasta w/ Marinara sauce

Sunday:  Super Bowl Party!!!
My sis-in-law is bringing over a turkey for us to fry and I’m setting up a turkey sandwich station with all the fixings along with a nacho station & chocolate fountain w/ fruit, marshmallows, and honey-wheat pretzels!  Go 49ers!!!

Monday:  Party Leftovers

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Menu #34

Go San Francisco 49ers!!!  I am absolutely elated about the 49ers going to Super Bowl!!!  I know this a food blog, but I’ve been a fan for a long time and I can’t hold it in!  Now to figure out the Super Bowl Party menu, but until then here's this week's. . .

Tuesday:  Red Beans & Rice w/ cornbread muffins
Didn’t get to this last week because we went to our friends’ house to watch the playoffs.

Wednesday:  Cheese Pizza on whole wheat dough w/ salad

Thursday:  Breakfast for Dinner—Oatmeal Pancakes w/ fruit salad & turkey sausage
Xavier requested pancakes for dinner some time this week.  I’m going to make these super yummy & healthy oatmeal pancakes that use apple sauce instead of oil and I also add raisins & finely chopped walnuts.  I’ll post about them later.  J

Friday:  Out to sushi w/ the girls! 
The boys will probably eat leftovers! 

Saturday:  Mushroom Barley Risotto w/ salad & crusty bread
This is a slow-cooker recipe, and it’s my first time using it.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday:  Beef Stew w/ crusty bread
My mom-in-law gave me a super nice Dutch oven for Christmas, and this will be my first time using it! 

Monday:  Leftovers

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Roast Chicken (adapted from Julia Child's recipe)

3 1/2 - 4 lb whole chicken
1/2 onion, wedged (for stuffing)
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 stick Butter
Canola Oil (for drizzling bottom of roasting pan)
1 onion, wedged (for roasting on side)
15 Baby carrots
3-4 small red potatoes, quartered

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Wash the chicken and dry thoroughly. 

Season the cavity with S&P and stuff with the 1/2 onion, orange, garlic and celery (reserving 1 slice of orange to cover up the opening). 

Rub the chicken with softened butter and season all over with S&P & paprika.  Place reserved orange slice over stuffing to seal it in and tie together legs with kitchen twine.  Set chicken, breast side up, in an oiled roasting pan in the oven.

Roast for 15 minutes at 425 F, then reduce the heat to 350 F, baste the chicken, and roast for 15 minutes. Add the other onion, carrots, and potatoes to the pan, basting them and the chicken. Continue roasting the chicken until the juices run clear, for a total of 45 minutes plus an additional 7 minutes for each pound. (In other words, a 3 1/2 pound chicken would take a basic 45 minutes plus an additional 25 minutes, for a total 70 minutes cooking time.)

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lion's Head Meatballs w/ Stir-Fry Broccoli

I found this recipe years ago on a interview show with one of the actors from ER (it was the Asian actress who played a doctor and dated Mekhi Pfeiffer's character).  She said it was an old family recipe, and they were called Lion's Head because of their size.  The recipe sounded delicious so I went shopping, bought all the ingredients, and made it that night.  It was everything I thought it would be!  It's been one of my all-time favorite dishes ever since.  I don't make it often because there's a lot of pots & pans involved, which means a lot of cleanup afterwards.  I need a pot for the spaghetti, a pan for the meatballs, a bowl for the sauce, and another skillet for my side veg, but let me tell you, it is so worth the cleanup after!

Lion’s Head Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef
4 green onions, chopped
2 T cornstarch
1 T AP flour
1 T sesame oil
1 T fresh ginger, minced
3 thai chilies, minced (you can use 2 jalapenos or serranos if you can’t find thai)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 can light coconut milk
2 T Bragg’s Amino Acids (soy sauce can be substituted)
1 T curry powder
2 t turmeric (if you don’t have this spice, just add a tad more curry powder)
2 T canola oil
1 lb whole-wheat spaghetti noodles

Place beef, green onions, cornstarch, flour, sesame oil, ginger, garlic-chili sauce, and S&P in a large mixing bowl.  

Knead by hand until thoroughly combined, and then divide into 12 large meatballs. 

Combine the coconut milk, amino acids, curry powder, and turmeric in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over med heat.  Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  Pour out the fat from the skillet and pour in the coconut milk mixture.  Bring it to a boil, add meatballs, and reduce to low.  Cover and cook for about another 8 – 10 minutes, until cooked through.  Serve over whole-wheat spaghetti noodles with stir-fry broccoli.

Stir-Fry Broccoli

2 heads broccoli, chopped
2 T canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 T fresh ginger, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 T Bragg’s Amino Acids (you can sub soy sauce)
2 t sesame oil

Cook the broccoli in boiling water for about 3 minutes. . .just enough to brighten up the color and cook slightly.  Drain well.

Heat oil in a wok or nonstick skillet.  Cook garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add amino acides and sesame oil, toss to coat broccoli well and remove from heat.  Serve with Lion's Head Meatballs over whole-wheat spaghetti.

Menu #33

Above is a photo of my “leftover ingredient” pasta.  I gathered all the ingredients leftover from this past week’s PC menu, which were 6 slices of prosciutto, 1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, about 1/2 cup each of diced tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and frozen peas, and in about 20 minutes I had this yummy pasta.  I sautéed the prosciutto, bell pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil.  When they were cooked, I added the tomatoes and tossed in cooked spaghetti.  After the pasta cooked a couple minutes with the other ingredients, I took the pan off the heat and added the cheese & peas along with a drizzle of good olive oil and seasoned with S&P…easy peasy!  J

Now on to this week’s menu. . .

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Soup w/ garlic-cheese toast

Thursday:  Sloppy Joes w/ kidney beans on whole-wheat buns & sweet potato fries
For the Sloppy Joes, I make a basic sauce of bell peppers, onions, garlic, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, and brown sugar.  I’ve decided to add kidney beans to the meat for an extra kick of protein. 

Friday:  Salad Bar w/ garlic-cheese toast
I’m going to set up a bunch of chopped up vegs including carrots, cucumber, green onions, radishes, broccoli, and bell pepper along with Romaine, nuts, garbanzo beans, boiled eggs, and low-fat cottage cheese and let everyone make their own salad. 

Saturday:  Crab Legs w/ twice-baked potatoes
I’m not sure if we’re going to grill or steam the crab, I just know Laddie really wants crab this weekend.  I’m going to make the twice-baked potatoes with green onions, broccoli, shredded carrots, and a little cheddar cheese. 

Sunday:  Red Beans & Rice w/ cornbread muffins
This is my first time making red beans & rice, so I’ll post the outcome if it’s a good one. 

Monday:  Curry Yogurt Chicken w/ apples & carrots over brown rice served with garlic naan
For the last week’s PC menu, I made a Curry Chicken Salad with a yogurt-based dressing and added apples, celery, shredded carrots, and red onions.  It turned out super tasty and he asked if I could somehow transform that chicken salad to a warm dish. . .this Curry Yogurt Chicken w/ apples & carrots is my attempt at that.  I’ll post a step-by-step if it turns out!  J

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Split Pea Soup

This is a very hearty, thick soup that is great for chilly nights.  I love soup season, and I love that my 4-year-old loves soup even more!  I can put anything in a soup and he will gobble it down.  Last night we had butternut squash soup (to be posted later) and there were bits of thyme floating in it.  Xavier asked me what they were and I told him it was thyme, which was a fighter against bad germs in his body, because it is a great source of antioxidants.  So this morning he asked if I could please put thyme in his pancakes because he wanted some extra fighting power. . .I think all he heard me say the night before was “fighters.”  J 

Split Pea Soup

2 T canola oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 bunch thyme
4 C chicken stock (you can use water if you don’t have stock)
1 red potato, chopped
1 C green split peas
S&P, to taste
1/2 C frozen cubed carrots, thawed (optional)
Sliced green onions for garnish

Heat oil in a large soup pot and cook carrots, celery, and onion until starting to caramelize, about 10 min.  Add garlic, bay leaf, and thyme and cook another 1-2 minutes.  

Add chicken stock or water, potato, and split peas and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to low, cover partially, and cook stirring occasionally for about 45 min to 1 hr, until peas are very soft.  

Remove from the heat and remove thyme stems & bay leaf.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or you can just mash it with a potato masher).  Add S&P and add cubed carrots (this is mostly for texture. . .if you just want a creamy soup don’t add these carrots).  Garnish with green onions & enjoy!  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Menu #32

I made these yummy cheddar-scallion biscuits yesterday to go with split pea soup for my PC menu.  The house smelled scrumptious while they were baking!  I don’t have step-by-step pics because I was multi-tasking 5 other things at that particular time, but I do have the ending result photo along with the recipe.  J

Cheddar-Scallion Biscuits

2 1/4 C flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
2 t sugar
3/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
6 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (keep cold)
6 oz Cheddar, shredded
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup buttermilk (shake well before pouring)

Preheat oven to 450.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, & salt in a bowl.  Then blend in butter with pastry blender (if you don’t have a pastry blender you can use your fingers but work quick so you don’t melt the butter). Stir in Cheddar and scallions. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.  Drop dough in 12 equal mounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (if you don’t have parchment use a buttered baking sheet). Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Now on to this week’s menu! 

Tuesday:  Leftovers
It’s a buffet dinner of this past week’s dinners:  rice tacos, roasted chicken w/ carrots & potatoes, and baked spaghetti squash.

Wedensday:  Butternut Squash Soup w/ apple-cheddar Panini on whole-grain bread
This is one of my all-time favorite soups.  It’s sweet yet savory and just so comforting.  I'm going to dedicate a post to this soup very soon!  :-)  

Thursday:  Shrimp Fajitas w/ green rice & black beans
Bell peppers are on sale for a great price this week, so fajitas were the first thing that popped into my mind!  I’m going to serve them with Greek yogurt, scallions, avocado, & cheese.

Friday:  Dinner Out
Girls night out for me…yay!  We are heading for sushi & “This is 40!”  My 2 men are having a night out on the town themselves for “Hotel Transylvania” & pizza! J

Saturday:  Salmon or Fish w/ Brussels sprouts & potatoes
I’m not really sure what we’re doing on this day except for the above details.  I also found Brussels sprouts for a great price this week, so I want to do something cool & new with them.  I’m thinking about trying a Brussels sprouts-potato-bacon dish…I’ll let you know how it turns out.  J 

Sunday:  Slow-Cooker Steak Sandwiches w/ sauteed peppers & onions and oven fries
I use a 2 to 2-1/2-lb rump roast for this recipe.  I generously season it with S&P and then sometimes I sear it and sometimes I just set it in the slow cooker raw with all the ingredients on top…depends on how much time I have on my hands.  I then mix together 12 oz of beef broth & 6 oz beer (whatever you have on hand) with dried Italian seasoning, dried onions, & dried garlic, and a tiny bit of sugar and dump it on top of the beef.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours. 

Monday:  Leftovers

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Calabacitas (Mexican-Style Squash)

I make this side dish quite often with Mexican food.  I use whatever kind of onion, pepper, or cheese I have in the fridge.  This particular time I had a red onion, jalapeno, and Monterey Jack.  I also don't usually use as much cheese as I did last night, but Xavier thought he'd help out with dinner and added the cheese for me.  He was obviously a bit heavy handed with it. . .he doesn't even like melted cheese either!


2 T Canola oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
1 zucchini, cut into bite-size chunks
1 yellow squash, cut into bite-size chunks
S&P, to taste
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 C frozen corn
2 T cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 C Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion & pepper and cook until translucent.  Add zucchini & yellow squash season with s&p to taste, and cook about 5 min.  Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes more.  

Turn off the heat and add corn and cilantro and mix well.  

Taste for seasonings.  Add cheese and cover to allow to melt.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Menu #31

Happy 2013!!! 

It’s been a whirlwind holiday season and we enjoyed every bit of it!  We stayed in our friends’ cabin in Green Valley Lake before heading to see our families for Christmas.  Xavier was begging for lots of snow and that’s exactly what he got!  He made dozens of snow angels, and we sledded every day and made our adorable snowman, Frosty.  Christmas Eve was at my in-laws, and my Sicilian mom-in-law makes pasta with red sauce & meatballs every year…yummy!   She also makes my favorite cookie every year…gingersnaps!  Christmas Day was at my mom’s and traditionally she makes tamales but this year she decided to mix things up and make Chili Colorado (pork with red chili), which was ridiculously good, along with beans, rice, and tortillas.  New Year’s Eve was an absolute blast with our friends at Pechanga Casino’s Club Silk also.  Needless to say, it’s time to get to New Year’s resolutions!

With all the great food and tasty cocktails of the holidays, my first resolution every year is to get healthy with the eating and slow down on the alcohol.  We also decided to join a gym, because although I was running/walking outside, it just isn’t the best exercise for our joints (yes, we are getting old!).  We also took advice from our good friend and decided to take more time out for each other without the little rug rat in tow.  Although he’s great fun to have around, we have resolved on more date nights!  Also on advice from a good friend, I’ve resolved to post more step-by-step recipes.  J 

I’ve decided to post my weekly menus on Tuesdays now since it’s the day that I do my grocery shopping anyway, and here it is. . .

Tuesday:  Chipotle-Orange Chicken Tacos w/ calabacitas & quinoa and black beans
I have a slow-cooker pork taco recipe that I subbed chicken for and it turned out great.  I juiced 2 oranges into the bottom of the slow cooker, seasoned 2.5# chicken breasts with cumin, garlic & onion powders, dried oregano, S&P and placed them in the crock-pot, and then added 3 minced chipotles, 1/4 cup of adobo sauce, and 3 crushed garlic cloves.  It cooks on low for 8 hours and then you shred it…voila Chipotle-Orange Chicken Tacos!

Calabacitas is a Mexican squash dish with zucchini, yellow squash, onion, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and cheese.  It’s definitely one of my very favorite side dishes.  I’ll do a step-by-step of this and post tomorrow.  I have the quinoa & black beans leftover from last week. 

Wednesday:  Baked Spaghetti Squash w/ salad & balsamic vinaigrette
For this spaghetti squash recipe, I mix the squash with cottage cheese, mozzarella, spinach, garlic, and an egg.  I’m going to post this as a step-by-step.

Thursday:  Roast Chicken w/ carrots & potatoes
I’ve used the same Julia Child roast chicken recipe for years and it is my absolute favorite.  I’ll really try to do this as a step-by-step! J

Friday:  Curry Chicken Salad in whole wheat pitas w/ whole-wheat couscous-garbanzo bean salad
I’m using the leftover roast chicken to make the salad.  The dressing is Greek yogurt flavored with curry, turmeric, S&P.  I add scallions, shredded carrot, raisins, and cashews also.  I think this is probably Laddie’s favorite chicken salad.

Saturday:  Grilled Turkey Dogs w/ vegetarian chili & leftover couscous salad

Sunday:  Baked Parmesan Fish w/ oven fries & salad

Monday:  Lion’s Head Meatballs w/ whole-wheat noodles & stir fry broccoli
Lion’s Head Meatballs are Asian-flavored meatballs made from lean beef or pork.  They have garlic, ginger, scallions, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  They simmer in a coconut curry sauce and you serve them over spaghetti noodles.  I love this dish!

For the broccoli, I just stir fry garlic, ginger, scallions, red pepper flakes, and broccoli together and season with sesame oil and Bragg’s amino acids.  It’s quick, healthy, and delicious!