Monday, July 29, 2013

Menu #56

This is a creamy slaw with hints of sweet, sour, and smoky.   It’s the perfect side to Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chops.  The pork chops are marinated in bourbon, Dijon, brown sugar, and garlic and then grilled.  This was all food for the private chef menu, but I had a small portion of slaw left that we’ll be eating tonight for dinner.

We were supposed to go to a family event at a local park tonight, but the weekend’s festivities have left us tired and wanting nothing more than to hang out and catch up on some DVR shows.  We actually had a last-minute date night on Sunday night and had a great time.  We first had appetizers and drinks at a nearby Irish Pub and then headed to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Gambling Cowboy.  X-man hung out with our good friends, The Browns, and had an equally fun evening.  Although we enjoyed our fun weekend, we are happy to do nothing tonight.  :-)

Cole Slaw w/ Apples & Pecans

2 apples, thinly sliced
2 lemons, for juice & zest
1 10-oz package shredded cabbage
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 C chopped pecans
1 T Dijon
3/4 C mayo
1 t chili powder
1/4 t cumin
1 t sugar
S&P, to taste

After you slice the apples, set them in a bowl with the juice of 1 lemon & water to cover.  Allow the apples to sit in the lemon water for a few minutes.  This will prevent them from browning. 

Put cabbage, carrots, onion, pecans, & apples in a large bowl and toss to combine.  Combine Dijon, mayo, chili powder, cumin, sugar, and S&P in a small bowl and mix well.  Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.  Set in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

This week’s menu . . .

Monday:  Ham-Swiss Sanwdwiches/cole slaw w/ apples & pecans/baked beans/pickles

Tuesday:  Shrimp Scampi/salad/garlic wheat toast

Wednesday:  Slow-Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches/grilled potato wedges/sautéed peppers

Thursday:  Chicken-Turkey Sausage Gumbo/brown rice/corn muffins

Friday:  Make-Your-Own-Pizza Night
This is my new sneaky way of getting X to eat veggies, although it’s not that sneaky because they’re in plain view and not hidden like I used to do with soup.  Pizza is my new soup!  I set out a bunch of different vegs and he adds whatever he wants.  He usually coordinates the shapes of his pizza dough to whatever character he’s pretending to be at the time and then “decorates” his creation with vegs.  For example, a month ago his pizza was shaped as a claw fist.  Yes, you heard me, a claw fist; this was the day he was pretending to be wolverine.  He decorated the claws with orange & red peppers as well as yellow tomatoes.  A couple weeks ago his pizza creation was a sword adorned with scallion & pepper jewls, because he was Captain Hook on this particular night.  I'm wondering what this week's creation will be since, at the moment, he's pretending to be Dr. Two Brains (an evil-scientist villain from PBS's Word Girl).  

Saturday:  Housewarming Party #3!  Tri-Tip & Hot Dogs/BLT potato salad/caprese pasta salad/garlic bread/raspberry-oatmeal bars & lemon bars
This is the last of our party-hosting summer festivities.  It’s been such a fun summer in our new home!  I can’t believe summer is almost over and X will be starting Kindergarten in just a couple weeks!  Somebody slow down the time, so I can catch up!!!

Sunday:  Party Leftovers!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spinach-Feta Turkey Burgers & Grilled Potato Wedges

I totally had the intention of giving you a way better picture of this burger so that you could actually see the burger itself, but I got so excited to eat it that I threw it on a paper plate & slathered it with sauce and then it was just too late.  Just imagine an oval-shaped burger with flecks of green from the spinach & white from the feta; it’s actually quite pretty.  The sauce is made up from a California version of Sriracha mixed with Greek yogurt and it was delish with the burger.  I’ll also share the super simple recipe for those tasty grilled taters on the side!    

Spinach-Feta Turkey Burgers

(adapted from Rachel Ray’s Spanakopita Burger)

Yields:  8 burgers

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 T minced garlic
2-1/2 lb ground turkey
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed & wrung dry (I squeeze it dry in a dish towel)
6 oz feta cheese
1 t paprika
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
S&P, to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet and cook onions until starting to caramelize, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Set in a large bowl to cool.

When the onions & garlic are cooled, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to incorporate.  Don’t over-mix or you’ll get a tough hamburger patty.  Form into 8 patties. 

Grill the patties until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, or pan fry in a skillet.  Serve in a pita drizzled with your favorite Greek yogurt sauce and grilled potato wedges on the side.

Grilled Potato Wedges

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Garlic Powder

This is not a measured recipe obviously.  First clean the potatoes; this particular time we had baking potatoes but you can use whatever potato you have on hand.  Now, to get the process moving along a bit, pre-cook the potatoes.  You can either poke holes in them, oil them, and microwave them for a few minutes or you can par-boil, whatever you choose.  Once they’ve cooled down from their pre-cooking, cut them into wedges and set them in a large bowl.  Drizzle them with olive oil and season to your taste with the rest of the ingredients.  Grill them, turning once, about 5 minutes per side. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Menu #55

I know I’ve already posted a couscous salad recipe, but this particular combination is one of my faves.  I’m not sure if it's the coconut oil, the tri-color couscous (flavored with spinach & carrot), or the yellow pear tomatoes, but it's really tasty!  Couscous takes only 5 minutes to prepare because it is pre-cooked, which is a large reason it’s one of my go-to side dishes.  Directions usually call for you to add boiling water to the couscous and cover for 5 minutes, but I like to toast the couscous first because it adds a nuttier flavor to the dish.  The vegs, herbs, and cheese in this salad vary every time, so feel free to mix it up to your taste.  J

Couscous Salad

Yields:  8 servings

4 T coconut oil (you can easily use butter or oil)
3 C tri-color couscous
3-1/2 C chicken stock, warmed
1 C warm water
1/2 t salt (add more to taste)
1 15.5-oz can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 2.25-oz sliced olives, drained
1 English cucumber, diced
Handful of yellow pear tomatoes, halved
2 T chopped parsley
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
Splash red wine vinegar
S&P, to taste

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a saucepan.  Add the couscous, stir to coat with the oil, and cook 1 minute.  Add the stock and water, bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat to lowest setting.  Cover and cook 5 minutes, all the liquid should be absorbed.  Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and allow to cool.  (I sit mine in the fridge for an hour.)  Once cooled, add the other ingredients and toss to incorporate.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Now, on to this week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Leftover Makeover—Grilled Chicken & Veg Quesadillas w/ salsa & Greek yogurt/Mexican rice/black beans
I changed our Housewarming Party menu yesterday to a fiesta with carne asada, tequila-lime chicken, seasoned ground beef, Mexican rice, and a southwest layered salad.  I’m using up the yummy leftover chicken as well as the crudité platter vegs to grill up some quesadillas.

Tuesday:  Spinach-Feta Cheese Turkey Burgers in whole-wheat pitas/couscous salad/grilled potato wedges
These are those spanakopita burgers from my menu last week.  Although I did assemble the burgers, we never got around to eating them.  I stored them in the freezer and they’re all ready for us to throw on the grill.  I’ll share the recipe soon!

Wednesday:  Orange Chicken/steamed brown rice/edamame

Thursday:  Broccoli Soup/cheese Panini
X-man is also hosting a water playdate this afternoon with water balloons and his Slip n’ Slide.  We’re having mini turkey & cheese and PB&J sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit salad, & ice cream sundaes!

Friday:  Picnic @ the Park!  Turkey-Bacon-Avocado Wraps/deviled egg potato salad/chips/raspberry-oat bars
We’re heading out for a picnic at our local Movies @ the Park to watch Wreck-It Ralph.

Saturday:  Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Tenders w/ honey-mustard sauce/zucchini fries/fruit of some sort

Sunday:  Dinner & Movie Out

We’re heading out to watch Turbo, and BDL is just as excited as Xavier!  J

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Quinoa Patties

Computer issues are resolved and I can now tell you all about these fantastic Quinoa Patties adapted from Skinny Taste!  They are protein-packed patties that are both super healthy and super tasty.  We ate them in pitas with cucumber-yogurt sauce the first night, then had some the next day over coleslaw for lunch; both ways were delish.  I made a large batch because these will freeze really well.  Try them; you’ll like them!  :)

Quinoa Patties (adapted from Skinny Taste)
Yields:  24 patties

2 C quinoa
4 C water
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 eggs
4 green onions
2 t minced garlic
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t red pepper flakes
S&P, to taste
1/2 C shredded parmesan
2 C panko crumbs
1 T extra-virgin olive oil

Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer (There’s a soapy-tasting residue if not rinsed.  Buy pre-rinsed quinoa if you don’t have a fine-mesh strainer or sieve).  After rinsing quinoa place it in a pan with the water.  Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes; most of the water should be absorbed.  Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, allow it to cool slightly.

When adequately cooled add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well, cover, and set the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that it’s easier to form into patties because it is a pretty wet batter (I left it overnight). 

Using a 1/4-cup scoop form the batter into patties.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook 10 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Be sure not to overcrowd your skillet so that you can get good color on each patty.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Menu #54

I'm having issues uploading pics to my computer right now and I'm hoping to have it resolved by tomorrow.  For now, here's this week's menu.

Monday:  Leftovers

Tuesday:  Meatball Zucchini Boats/tomato-sweet pepper orzo/spinach-arugula salad
This time I seasoned the meatballs with Mexican flavors and topped them with salsa when they came out of the oven.  They were delicious!

Wednesday:  Grilled Hot Dogs/3-bean chili/grilled potato wedges

Thursday:  Chicken Pad Thai/edamame

Friday:  Pizza Delivery or Out to Pizza

Saturday:  Spanakopita Burgers in whole-wheat pitas w/ cucumber-yogurt sauce/couscous salad/fruit salad
I've been meaning to post this recipe and I plan to next week.  This is a great burger made with ground turkey, spinach, & feta.  It's delicious & healthy!

Sunday:  Housewarming Party #2!  BBQ Tri-Tip & Grilled Salmon or Shrimp/cucumber-tomato salad/BLT pasta salad/rolls/make-your-own sundae bar

Monday, July 8, 2013

Menu #53

Sloppy Joes is a favorite in the Waller home.  It’s cheap, easy, and satisfyingly comforting.  It’s one of those meals that always takes me back to childhood, especially served with corn on the side.  Here’s my recipe. . .

Sloppy Joes

3 T brown sugar
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 t  paprika
S&P, to taste
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 T minced garlic
2 T tomato paste
1 lb ground beef
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T Worcestershire
2 C crushed tomatoes

Mix together brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and S&P to make a Sloppy Joe spice mix and set aside. 

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions & peppers and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic & tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the meat & season with the spice mix.  When the meat has browned, reduce heat to medium and add red wine vinegar & Worcestershire and cook another 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, stir to combine, reduce heat to a simmer and cook another 20 minutes longer.

This week’s menu:

Monday:  Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken/quinoa & black beans

Tuesday:  Sausage-kale-potato soup/whole-wheat rolls

Wednesday:  Shrimp Salad over greens/whole-wheat rolls
I’m also teaching a Lil’ Chefs School on this afternoon.  We’re making cheese ravioli out of wonton wrappers along with a make-your-own veg salad. 

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

Friday:  Movie @ The Park!  Quinoa-Spinach Patties in Pitas/hummus & pita chips/whole-wheat couscous salad/lemon bars
We’re going to picnic while watching Madagascar 3 at one of our local parks.  J

Saturday:  Housewarming Party #1!  Chicken-Sausage-Veg Kabobs/corn salad/pasta salad/chocolate fountain w/ fruit
This is the 1st round of housewarming parties we are throwing this summer.  We decided to divide the parties into several throughout the summer rather than one huge one, so that we have more conversation time with all our guests (and not too many kids at one time).  ;-)

Sunday:  Party Leftovers!  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dino Cookie Sandwiches & Chunky Monkey Tails!

Summer has hit hard in our area and I’ve been continuously trying to find things to keep a very active 5-year-old busy indoors that’s both cheap and entertaining.  We’ve done the movies, bowling, library, board games, but X-man’s favorite indoor activity has definitely been making fun frozen treats! 

Last week we read How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies by Jane Yolen.  At the end of this book are two cookie recipes—Cinnamasaurus Rex (cinnamon oatmeal cookie) and Fossilized Lemon Tracks (lemon sugar cookie).  Xavier was adamant about baking the “Cinnamasaurus Rex” cookies.  Although the temp was high outside we were in air conditioning, so the cookie baking began.  As they were baking we came up with the genius idea to make them into ice cream sandwiches, and just like that the Dino Cookie Sandwich was born!  I followed the book’s recipe, except for using different sugar and using half whole-wheat flour, and they were delicious cookies—very spicy with the cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves.  We all loved them!

Dino Cookie Sandwiches

1 C softened butter
1 C organic cane sugar (you can totally use granulated sugar; this is just what I had on hand)
1 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 T honey
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1 C AP flour
1 C whole-wheat flour
3 C old-fashioned oats
Vanilla ice cream, softened

In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugars with an electric mixer.  Add 1 egg at a time until fully incorporated.  Add the other ingredients in order, mixing well each time.  One you’ve added the oats, you’ll have to mix by hand.  Roll the dough into small balls and flatten them out a bit.  They do spread, so give them space on the cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes at 375. 

After they’ve cooled, scoop softened ice cream onto one cookie and smoosh down with another cookie.  Wrap these cookie sandwiches individually with plastic wrap and stick in the freezer until hardened.

This week we read Naughty Little Monkeys by Jim Aylesworth, which he absolutely loves because there’s a monkey named Xavier in the book.  We decided to link a fun frozen treat to this book also and came up with the Chunky Monkey Tail, so simple and easy but great entertainment for the 5-year-old.  J 

Chunky Monkey Tails

4 bananas
32 oz semi-sweet chocolate melts
Chopped almonds
8 popsicle sticks
Line a cookie sheet/cutting board/plate (anything that will fit in your freezer) with waxed paper or parchment. Cut the bananas in half & insert a popsicle stick into each banana half.  Place the bananas on lined sheet/board/plate and freeze  at least 1 hour.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave according to package.  Set the chopped nuts in a plate. 

Dip the frozen banana into the chocolate & then roll in the nuts.  Return to the freezer until they’ve hardened.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Menu #52

Hello, I’m back!  Here’s my new kitchen!  This is a pic of the functioning half with the most used hardware; the other half has a small island in a breakfast nook with a small recessed area  we use for bar/coffee station and, of course, the refrigerator (I just couldn’t get an un-fuzzy pic of that half).  

It’s been quite an eventful last couple of weeks.  My first week on hiatus was filled with packing, moving, catering, and the second week was filled with unpacking, a visit from my whole family, and Xavier’s pre-K graduation.  The highlights were definitely visiting with the twin babies and X-man’s graduation ceremony!  I give a huge round of applause for his teachers who put together a marvelous ceremony.  They managed to teach the whole class of 4- to 5-year-olds The Star Spangled Banner!  I was astonished to see my little man sing every single word!  Congratulations Sea Star Class of 2013 and big cheers for Ms. Tonia & Ms. Jackie!!!

Although I am done unpacking, I still have quite a bit to do around the house before I consider us completely moved in.  I’m so relieved to get back to a planned weekly menu.  Without it, dinner time was such a fiasco.  With that being said, here’s this week’s menu. . .

Monday:  Grilled BBQ Salmon/potato wedges/salad
I’m going to concoct a BBQ sauce with garlic, onion, tomato puree, honey, OJ, amino acids, & olive oil.  I’m basically using ingredients I have in my kitchen at the moment.  I’ll post the outcome on a later date.  X-man will get plain salmon with garlic & olive oil only, as he’s not into glazes & sauces.

Tuesday:  Sloppy Joes/blackbean-corn salad/watermelon

Wednesday:  Chinese Chicken Salad/veg egg rolls

Thursday:  4th of July Picnic—BLT wraps/pasta salad/chips/fruit salad/red, white, & blue Jell-o squares & white chocolate covered strawberries dipped in blue sprinklesJ 
We’re heading to a local park for their festivities & firework show.  Happy & Safe 4th of July to All!

Friday:  Grilled Pizzas/salad/fruit
It’s make-your-own pizza night, so I’ll just scrounge together every veg, meat, & cheese we have in the fridge and make a pizza/salad bar.

Saturday:  Going to The Feasts for a belated 4th of July celebration—Berry Shortcakes
Our friends live right next to Pechanga Casino and every year the Pechanga tribe throws a huge 4th of July Pow Wow, including a large firework show, the 1st weekend of July.  They’re having us over for dinner and firework show from their front yard.  I’m contributing berry shortcakes for dessert.  I’m making raspberry, blueberry, & strawberry sauces and topping them over sponge cupcakes.  I’m topping that with a whipped cream frosting and garnishing with the appropriate berry. . .yummy!  I’ll post about them on a later date.

Sunday:  Dinner & Movie Out
We’re heading out to watch Despicable Me 2, which X-man cannot wait to see.  I’ve been craving sushi, so we’ll probably go out for Japanese.