Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Potato-Leek Soup

Potato-Leek Soup

2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, sliced & rinsed well
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
5 small Russet potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
A few sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 C low-sodium chicken stock/broth
1/2 C heavy cream
Scallions for garnish

Make a bouquet garni by tying together the rosemary, thyme, & bay leaf with kitchen twine; set aside for later use.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add leeks, carrots, & celery and cook until leeks start to wilt, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic cloves & cook another 2 minutes.  

Add potatoes, season with S&P, & mix to incorporate with other vegs.  Add bouquet garni & chicken broth/stock, bring to a boil, season w/ more S&P, then lower to simmer for 30 minutes.  

Remove from the heat, remove bouquet garni, & puree with an immersion blender or puree in batches in a blender.  Add cream and taste for seasonings.  Serve garnished with sliced scallions.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Menu #43 (revised)

Another busy week just whizzed right past me!  We had 2 baseball games, Laddie went out of town for business, and I received a surprise out-of-town visit from my mom & brother!  My mommy knows I still get scared to stay by myself, especially at night, so she came to protect me.  I love that she feels this great need to shield us from our fears, even though we’re all adults with our own families!  :-)

There wasn’t a whole lot of cooking, once again, since we were heading here, there, and everywhere this week.  Besides our baseball games, we also had a great day at the beach and strolled around Old Town’s Farmer’s Market.  The produce being sold at farmer’s markets right now is simply amazing, but the flowers are majestic!  My mom bought me 4 bouquets to set around the house, and they just bring the house to life! 

Above is a pic of the couscous salad I made last week to accompany our curry chicken salad.  It’s one of our faves, so I thought I’d share the recipe before moving on to next week’s menu.

Couscous Salad

2 T olive oil
1-1/2 C whole-wheat couscous
1-1/4 C water
1 C chicken stock (or you can just use all water)
S&P, to taste
1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
2 baby yellow peppers, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 C parmesan cheese, grated
Good Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling

For the couscous, heat up the 2 T olive oil in a medium saucepan over med-low heat.  Add the couscous, stir to coat in oil, & cook 1 minute.  Add the liquids along with a little salt for seasoning.  Bright to a boil and then turn the heat all the way down to lowest heat, cover, & cook 5 minutes. 

Pour the couscous into a large serving bowl and mix in beans, cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, parsley, & cheese.  Season with S&P & drizzle with a good olive oil (you want to use a good-tasting olive oil here because it’s the only dressing), about 1/4 cup or so.  Toss together & chill until ready to serve.

This week’s menu. . .

Tuesday:  Chicken Sausage Lasagna/salad w/ balsamic vinaigrette/garlic-cheese breadsticks
He got in late last night, so lasagna was changed to this night. . .

Wednesday:  Leftovers
Baseball practice night . . .

Thursday:  BBQ shrimp over polenta & kale/whole roasted cauliflower bacon-wrapped asparagus
(Changed up menu because we still have asparagus left from last week)

Friday:  Grilled Citrus Chicken/potato-cauliflwer mash grilled asparagus/ratatouille
Xavier watched Ratatouille a few days ago and has been begging to make ratatouille.  I’m going to attempt to make the Thomas Keller rendition at the end of the movie, but we’ll see how that goes.  We’ll also see if X-man will actually eat it!  :/

Saturday:  Ratatouille-Chicken Wraps/watermelon slices

Easter Sunday Brunch:  Baked Ham w/ baby or fingerling potatoes & carrots/heirloom tomato-scallion frittata/cheesy frittata/granola waffles w/ macerated strawberries & vanilla bean whipped cream
We have friends & family joining us for our Easter Brunch & Egg Hunt, and then we are heading to Wilson Creek Winery.  The kids have a great time with their petting zoo and we have a great time sipping their wine. . .everyone’s happy!  J  We’re bringing snacks & goodies with us to munch on also.  I’m bringing mini strawberry cheesecakes & Easter-shaped Jell-O jigglers. . .yummy! 

Monday:  Easter Brunch leftovers!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Menu #42

Bacon-Asparagus Pasta

Spring is here!  That means lots of yummy Spring produce, like asparagus, green beans, peas, greens, & strawberries.   My little guy is excited for Spring for a whole other reason though.  He’s eagerly awaiting Spring showers because he got a new Scooby Doo umbrella from his uncle, which he can’t wait to use & abuse.  He has used it for several applications already including a cane (pretending to be an old man), Penguin’s (Batman’s nemesis) weapon, Captain Hook’s sword, and currently it’s being used as his show-and-tell this morning at school.  Who knew an umbrella had so many uses!  J 

This week’s menu is focused on both my men's faves.  My big guy is leaving on Thursday for a business trip to Oregon, so I'm making his favorites for his departure & arrival.  While pops is gone, I'm making fun dinners for me & my little man.  Here's our menu. . . 

Tuesday:  Curry Chicken Salad/ garlic naan bread/whole-wheat couscous salad
Curry chicken salad doesn’t appeal to my 5-year-old, so what I do for him is serve him a deconstructed version.  The salad contains scallions, raisins, almonds, & carrots in a light mayo-based curry dressing.  What he gets is chicken w/ raisins, almonds, carrots, & scallions on the side w/ a container of dressing for an optional dip.  He loves naan bread so there’s no issue with that; and the couscous salad contains cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives, which works for the whole family. 

Wednesday:  Chili Relleno Casserole/crock-pot pinto beans/green rice
This is Laddie’s absolute favorite dish, so I’m making it for him the night before he flies out the next a.m..  I’ll do a post all about this yummy casserole as well as the side dishes.

Thursday:  Mac n Cheese/carrot slices
We have a night baseball game and pops is gone, so we’re making it easy! 

Friday:  Dinner & Movie Out!
I have a lovely dinner date with my little guy planned.  We’re heading out for a fun dinner (place TBD) and then watching “The Croods.”  J

Saturday:  Homemade “Spaghettios”/garlic-cheese breadsticks/strawberries

Sunday:  Leftovers

Monday:  Chicken Sausage Lasagna/salad w/ balsamic vinaigrette/garlic wheat bread
This is another one of Laddie’s very favorites, so I’m making it for his arrival home!  J

Monday, March 18, 2013

Potato-Leek Frittata w/ Salsa Verde

Hope everyone had a fun St Patty’s Day!  We had a great time at our house!  The day started way earlier than I had wished, but it was fun nonetheless.  The night before, X-man put together a couple of leprechaun traps and was up at 5:45 a.m. to check the house for leprechauns!  Needless to say, he was so flipping excited to see his traps had been sprung but sad to see there was no little green elf on the inside.  L  His mood quickly changed to delight when he saw the trail of chocolate gold coins left by this sneaky little leprechaun.    Xavier says “He was a nice but tricky leprechaun.”  All was good!  J

There was plenty of green food and traditional Irish fare throughout the day.  From green pancakes for breakfast to corned beef & cabbage for dinner….yum!!!  For breakfast, besides the green pancakes, I also made a delicious potato-leek frittata.  Here’s the recipe. . .

Potato-Leek Frittata

1 T unsalted butter
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch leeks, whites & light green only, sliced
1 large russet potato, cooked & chopped into bite-size pieces
5 eggs
1/3 C (heaping) low-fat cottage cheese
S&P, to taste
2 green onion stalks, sliced

Salsa Verde, recipe to follow

Leeks are filled with dirt, so be sure to clean them well.  The best way I have found is to set them in a bowl filled with water and toss them around with your hands.  The dirt will fall to the bottom and then just scoop them out to a strainer to drain. 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a ovenproof, nonstick skillet melt butter into olive oil over medium heat.  Throw in leeks & cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.  

Add potato, season with S&P, and cook another 5 minutes. 

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, and S&P.  

Add egg mixture to the skillet & top with green onion slices (be sure to spread out potatoes & leeks to an even layer before pouring egg mixture on top.)  Use a flat spatula or spoon to scrape down the sides.  Allow the bottom to start firming up on the stovetop, about 5 minutes over med-low.  

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 10 minutes.  Serve garnished with plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream) & Salsa Verde.

Salsa Verde

12 tomatillos, husked & cleaned
2 jalapenos, stems removed
1 onion, quartered
1 T white vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
2 limes, juiced

Put tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, & vinegar in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat & simmer until the tomatillos are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain well & allow to cool slightly. Put all the poached vegetables into a blender, add cumin, lime juice, & salt, and puree.  Add cilantro and pulse to combine. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chicken Chili

The day before I go grocery shopping, I do a quick inventory of everything I’ve got in the fridge and pantry for meal ideas.  A couple weeks ago I had some peppers and a beautiful tomato that needed to be used up and I had chicken in the freezer, so immediately I thought chicken chili!  Here’s my recipe. . .

Chicken Chili

2 T canola oil
3 baby red peppers (or 1 large), chopped
4 baby yellow peppers (or 2 medium), chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-size pieces
2 T chili powder
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t cumin
1 large tomato, diced
3 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 29-oz can pinto beans, drained & rinsed

Mix together all the seasonings and set aside...this is your homemade chili mix.

Heat oil in large pot/skillet over med-high heat.  Cook the peppers, onions, & jalapeno until starting to caramelize.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  

Add chicken & homemade chili powder mix, and cook about 5 minutes.  Add diced tomato and cook another minute.  Add the broth, bring up to a boil and lower to a simmer.  Add the beans and allow to cook together for at least 20 minutes.

Garnish w/ sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, scallions, cilantro and/or cheddar cheese.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beef Stroganoff

This dish is a huge comfort food for me.  My aunt used to make it when I was younger, and it was always a big production.  She would invite the whole family over to share in this yummy beef-mushroom concoction over buttered egg noodles!  It brings back great childhood memories…I love when food does that!  J  Alongside our stroganoff, I served simple roasted asparagus.  Drizzle the asparagus with a little bit of olive oil and season with S&P.  Roast it in a 350-degree oven for about 10 min...easy peasy!

Beef Stroganoff

Yields:  6 servings

3 C beef stock
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2-2.5 lb chuck roast, cut into large chunks
6 T extra-virgin olive oil (3 T for meat & 3 T for shrooms)
1 onion, sliced
14 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 T plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), plus more for garnish
1 T Dijon
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 lb whole-wheat egg noodles, cooked, drained, & tossed w/ butter

Pat the beef dry & season it w/ S&P (this step is important to get a good sear on the meat).  Heat 3 T oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot/skillet over high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides, doing it in batches so not to over crowd the pan.  As the meat is browned transfer it to a plate and set aside.  

Turn the heat down to med-high & cook the onions in the same pot until they are caramelized.  Add the meat back to the pan along with the beef stocks, scraping up the bottom.  Season with S&P & add the thyme & bay leaf, set the heat to low, & cook partially covered for 1.5-2 hours.  Until the meat is fork tender & the sauce has thickened (it won’t be incredibly thick; this is a thinner stroganoff sauce). 

While the meat is cooking, you can cook the mushrooms.  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 T butter into 2 T canola oil.  Add the mushrooms & garlic and cook until mushrooms are browned & cooked through.  Season with S&P & set aside to add to beef later.

When the meat is done, remove it from the heat and add cooked mushrooms, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), mustard, & parsley.  Taste for seasonings.

Serve the beef stroganoff over buttered noodles w/ a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.  Enjoy!  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Menu #41

Wow…what a week it’s been!  We had Xavier’s birthday; his baseball Opening Day Carnival (our division was in charge of the cake walk); I catered a small dinner; and we went to Legoland!  Whew!!!  No pics of food because I didn't cook anything all that exciting (besides the catered party), but here is a small view of our busy but totally fun week!  :)  

His birthday movie party was a blast!  The kids had so much fun meeting outside of school for Wreck It Ralph.  I was quite impressed on how well 10 5-year-olds behave at a movie (maybe it was the incentive of a bag filled with M&Ms, popcorn, and cake pops).  ;-)   Legoland was spectacular for our little man!  When we first arrived he just kept saying, “I can’t believe we are actually in the Land of Legos!”  He loved everything about it…from The Dragon rollercoaster to the 4D Chima movie!  There weren’t a whole lot of people there because it had been storming the day before, so our longest line was 20 minutes!  It all worked out great, and X-man had a fabulous 5th birthday!  Our baseball league's Opening Day Carnival was also a great time. As you see below, Xavier won us a Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake.  He was so very proud!  :)  

Now onto this week’s menu. . .

Tuesday:  Beef Stroganoff/whole-wheat egg noodles/roasted asparagus
Didn’t get to this last week. . .

Wednesday:  leftovers
Baseball practice night. . .

Thursday:  Swai Fish/creamed leeks/quinoa pilaf

Friday:  Beer Can Chicken/spinach salad/potato salad

Saturday:  Corned Beef/cabbage & potatoes

Sunday:  Happy St. Patty’s Day!  Breakfast—Green Shamrock Pancakes/green whipped cream/green eggs/green milk;  Dinner—Corned Beef Sandwiches/potato-leek soup/green apple juice & beer;  Dessert—Green cookies & green milk  J 
I think we’re going bowling for our St Patrick’s Day celebration outing.  For dinner, I’m using up leftover beef & potatoes from last night.

Monday:  Curry Chicken Salad in pitas/couscous salad
Using leftover beer can chicken. . .

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Menu #40

Happy Birthday to my beautiful baby boy!!!  He turned 5 today…where does the time go???  I’m a day late posting the menu because I’ve been busy with his birthday preparations.  I decorated the house last night with balloons & streamers, so he’d wake up to a fun-filled “Birthday House.”  He was thrilled when he woke up to all the decorations this morning.  I also made that cool Legos cake for his classroom birthday lunch, and then made cake pops for his birthday movie tonight.  His birthday party is going to be at the movie theater for a viewing of Wreck It Ralph.  I made gift bags for all his guests that are filled with Xavier’s favorite movie treats along with a cake pop and a glow bracelet so I can spot all our kids easily in the dark.  J    

Well, I must get going to head for the theater.  Here’s this week’s menu. . .

Wednesday:  X-man’s Birthday Dinner Request—Mac n Cheese/garlic bread/ carrot sticks
Of course. . .

Thursday:  Chicken Enchiladas/refried beans/Mexican rice/salsa/guacamole
A friend’s family is coming into town and he asked if I could please make him this dinner to serve when they arrive.  It sounded good, so we’re having the same thing.  J

Friday:  Legoland???
This was supposed to be Xavier’s 5th birthday gift from us but it’s supposed to rain.  L  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Saturday:  Grilled Chicken Sausage/grilled potato wedges/pepper-onion kabobs

Sunday:  Sausage & Pepper Pizza/salad
Using leftovers from last night.

Monday:  Beef Stroganoff/whole-wheat egg noodles/peas & pearl onions

Tuesday:  Orange Chicken/steamed brown rice/stir-fry asparagus