Sunday, December 20, 2009

Menu Plan 12/20-12/26

Sunday:  Sandwiches and Leftovers
Big Christmas program at the church tonight.  Light dinner.

Monday:  Beef Stew with Carrots, Mushrooms, and Potatoes

Tuesday:  Chicken Cobb Pasta Salad
Not quite sure what sort of dressing I'll do with this, but I think I'll let the kids build their own.  They like it when they get to choose the ingredients.  I'll probably add some extra veggies (like broccoli, bell pepper slices, and carrot matchsticks)

Wednesday:  Kofta/Meatball Kebabs with Quinoa Pilaf, Hummus, and Crudites

Thursday:  White Chicken Chili
We're going to a party in the evening with h'ors d'oeuvres and such, so we'll just have a light dinner.  We used to try and do the fancy Christmas eve dinner with the kids, but this is so much more relaxing. 

Friday:  Dinner with family & leftovers

Saturday:  Traveling

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pork & Pineapple Stirfry

This recipe is hardly authentic, but it is inspired by southeast Asian ingredients and flavor combinations.  I've learned that many southeast Asian cuisines don't rely on soy sauce as much (if at all) as more traditional "Chinese" (at least as presented in the US) recipes.  

Pork & Pineapple Stirfry (serves 4)
1-2 T oil
3/4 lb of pork loin, cubed
1 sm. yellow onion, sliced
1 sm. green bell pepper, chopped
1 c sliced mushrooms
zest of 1 large lime
juice of 1 large lime (~ 1/4 c)
1 t fish sauce
1 garlic clove, diced
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t salt
1 t honey
1 1/2c fresh pineapple chunks
  1. Heat heavy pan over high/ medium-high heat.  Add about half the oil and the onions, peppers, and mushrooms.  Cook til the onions soften (the peppers will be still a little crisp).  Remove from pan and reserve.
  2. Add a bit more oil, if needed, and add pork.  Cook til done.  
  3. My pork let off a lot of liquid.  I let that sit on the heat for a moment to cook down a bit.  Then I add the sauce ingredients (everything else except the pineapple).  When the garlic starts to become fragrant, add in the vegetables, pork, and pineapple chunks.  Heat through.  
Serve over rice.  Optional garnishes would be peanuts, lime wedges, bean sprouts, etc.  Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce is also a nice touch if you like spicy things. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Menu Plan 12/12 - 12/19

Menu planning has been a real struggle the last few weeks.  This week is similarly uninspired.  Add to that the fact that DH kindly volunteered to go grocery shopping before I made a list and came back with "stuff".  So I'm going to blame any randomness on that. 

Saturday:  Crispy Beef Tacos w/ Corn
DH discovered a couple brands of "safe" taco shells, so we thought we'd give them a try with the kids.  Normally we do soft tacos or ersatz taco salads.  DD really enjoyed making her own tacos, spooning in sauce and cheese, etc.  DS wasn't so impressed, but he really loves refried beans (Rosarita Vegetarian) so he was happy.

Sunday:  Sandwiches & Leftovers
After a big lunch out, I wasn't in the mood to cook.

Monday: FFYN
This is going to be a crazy night.  DH and I are both helping with a Christmas party from 5-7.  The kids will be in the nursery at church...not sure what any of us are going to eat.  I'll probably just pack something in lunchboxes for the kids that's quick and easy.

Tuesday:  Beef Stroganof over Rice
I may end up tweaking this recipe some more...if the modifications are worth posting, I'll update the original post.

Wednesday:  Carrot Souffle, Green Beans, & Roast Potato Wedges
This veggie dinner consists of things that were bumped from last week's plan when we took the pot roast over to my in-laws and let them fix the sides.  

Thursday:  Chili w/ Corn on the Cob
I was realizing I've never posted my chili recipe.  Maybe if the stars are properly aligned this week, I'll get it linked in here.

Friday:  Pork StirFry

Saturday:  Ranch Chicken Burgers w/ Oven Baked Fries and Broccoli
I did a version of these back in September.  Not quite sure what I'm going to serve them on...maybe DS will just get his sans-bread and the rest of us will have buns.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan 12/7-12/12

The Crock-Pot Herb Pork Roast was awesome last week.  The Pumpkin Pudding is a good idea but the kids thought it tasted too healthy.  I'm going to try again modifying it to be a little less virtuous -- and probably involving chocolate! 

The Chicken Souiza was a little disappointing -- good flavors, but I think it lost something with my dairy-free mods.  The cornbread also took much longer to cook than expected (and was too sweet for me), so I'm going to experiment with that.  

Monday:  Butternut Squash Soup w/ Sausages

Tuesday:  Roast Chicken w/ Wild Rice & Cranberry Pilaf & Broccoli

Wednesday:  Dinner out

Thursday:  Quick Paella
Using up leftover roast chicken and sausages to make an easy version of paella.

Friday:  Pot Roast w/ Roast Potatoes and Carrot Souffle
Some tried and true winter winners.

Saturday:  Hot Beef over Mashed Potatoes w/ Green Beans
Another leftover user -- Pot Roast from the night before + some instant mashed potatoes and canned/frozen green beans.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Menu Plan 11/28-12/6

The biggest hit of last week was Friday's dinner.  Meatball Kebabs plus our new favorite recipe -- Oven Baked Fries.  We rounded the meal out with assorted fresh veggies (baby carrots, grape tomatos, olives, and some marinated cucumbers). 

My personal favorite however was the Turkey Curry, but that was much less popular with the under 6 crowd.

We're still eating on our not Thanksgiving turkey so I've got 2 more turkey leftover menus this week.  

Sunday Lunch:  Turkey Tacos w/ Cranberry Salsa
My favorite dish at Thanksgiving this year was a raw cranberry relish that one of DH's cousins made.  It had jalapeno, cilantro, diced red bell peppers, onion, and orange juice.  Really a cranberry salsa.  I didn't get the exact recipe, but I think I'll try and replicate it this week. We still have plenty of turkey breast to get rid of.  I'm linking to a recipe that I found online.  The cranberry salsa is a little different, but it can serve as a stand-in until I work out my own recipe.

Sunday Dinner:  Crock-Pot Herb Pork Roast w/ Baked Apples and Roasted Carrots and Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pudding
This pork roast looks excellent.  However, having tried the insert the garlic clove pieces into the roast technique before to mixed results, I'm going to instead microplane the garlic and use it in the rub.  The pumpkin pudding recipe I'm going to make without the protein powder.  I'm thinking it's going to be sort of like Pumpkin Panna Cotta.

Monday:  Pork & Noodle StirFry
I'm going to save a bit of the pork roast to make a stir-fry.  Asian-style sauces are always a bit of a challenge with our dietary restrictions, so I may just have to pull out some ingredients beforehand for DS who will be happy with things plain. 

Tuesday:  Turkey Souiza over Cornbread with Sauteed Greens
I should call this my south by southwest meal.  I'm modifying the turkey recipe -- adding some coconut milk into regular corn for the "creamed corn" and some coconut milk yogurt for the sour cream probably with a little extra lemon juice to give it some tang.  My usual cornbread recipe has eggs and AP flour in it, so I'm going to try a gluten-free recipe I found on recipezaar.

Wednesday: Dinner at Church
They're having very not DS-safe chicken and dumplings, so I'll pack him his own dinner. 

Thursday:  Pumpkin Risotto w/ Grilled Chicken-Apple Sausage & Green Salad
I love risotto and this recipe sounds like fun.  I'll probably use butternut squash unless I can find a pie pumpkin at the store.    

Friday:  Leftovers
I'm going out for a girls' night out!  DH and the kids can clean out the fridge or raid the pantry.

Saturday:  Out
DH and I are going to a party.  The kids will probably just each hotdogs or similar.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Oven Baked Fries

We have been making sweet potato fries for quite awhile but have never really taken the time to work out a technique for classic french fries.  Frozen fries and tater tots are hard to find because almost all of them involve soybean oil.  We used to buy some great frozen fries from Alexia, but our usual source (Costco) hasn't had them in lately.  Plus they're not cheap...this is certainly MUCH cheaper.

We've tried frying a few times, but it's such a mess and I hate the smell of grease.  Blech!  So the oven it is and with a french fry cutter and a rimmed baking sheet with a rack it's pretty easy.

Oven Baked Fries (serves 3-4)
4 small russet potatoes* (4-6" long), peeled
1 T olive oil
1 t kosher salt
herbs/seasoning salt (opt)
*the size that comes in the 5lb bags not the big baking potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.  
  2. Cut the potatoes using a french fry cutter (smaller sized squares work better) and place them in a large microwave safe dish.  I usually use an 8" square pyrex.
  3. Microwave the potatoes for 5-7 min (depending on the strength of your microwave).  Ours is fairly wimpy so I went with 7.
  4. While they're still in the pyrex add the olive oil and seasonings and turn them to coat. 
  5. Place a baking rack on a large (9x13+) rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Using tongs place the fries on the baking rack in a single layer.  This is a little tedious, but if you do it now you won't have to do any turning later.
  7. Bake for 15-20 min. til done.  
That's it.  They're soft on the inside and reasonably crispy on the outside.  It's not like deep-frying but it is a passable substitute.

Kofta/ Meatball Kebabs

Yet another bastardization of a classic ethnic dish.  These are great just plain, or you could thread them along with veggies for a more complete meal.  My kids really like these.

Kofta (serves 4)
~1lb ground meat* (I've used beef, turkey, lamb)
1 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t cinnamon
3/4t Hungarian paprika
*These turn out better with slightly fattier meat - 85/15
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a rimmed baking sheet with lightly oiled aluminum foil.
  2. Place spices in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Add in meat and mix thoroughly.
  4. Shape into small approx. 1" meatballs.
  5. Thread onto skewers (I've found metal ones work best) and place on the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Remove and drain on paper towels for a few minutes.
These are great served over rice or couscous.  Or you could put them in pita with hummus, tahini, or tzatziki.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Curry

This was a good enough that I felt I should post it -- an excellent use for leftover turkey breast. 

Turkey Curry (serves 2-3)
1 T olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2-3 c broccoli florets, roughly chopped
1 carrot, shredded (I used a veg. peeler to make thin ribbons)
3/4 lb cubed, cooked turkey breast
2 t red Thai curry paste (was very mild w/ this amount)
1 t Chicken Better Than Bullion
3/4 can light coconut milk
  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat.  Saute onions til they become translucent.  Chop the other vegetables.
  2. Add broccoli and carrots to the pan.  Cover and allow to cook til the broccoli is soft.
  3. Add in turkey, curry powder, and bullion.  Heat through.
  4. Add coconut milk and stir.  Simmer over low heat (light coconut milk will separate if it boils).  
  5. Serve over brown rice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan 11/22-11/28

Well, my favorite from last week hands-down was the Chicken Kofta w/ Quinoa Pilaf.  Actually I ended up making them with ground turkey instead.  I'll be doing it again at the end of this week...will post the recipe then.

I've mentioned before that my DS has pretty bad eczema which we've always believed was at least partially related to food sensitivities.  Hence the reason that most everything I make is without dairy or soy.  We've recently decided to take him off eggs and wheat as well.  The eggs aren't really a problem, but I'm still trying to figure out my way around wheat-free baking.   So if anyone has any awesome wheat-free/gluten free muffins/cookies/quick bread/etc. recipes that aren't too complicated I'd love to hear them.  I have xanthan gum and a large bag of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free AP flour. 

Sunday:  Roast Turkey w/ Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Cranberry Sauce
I hadn't roasted a turkey in quite some time...I forgot just how long they take to defrost & cook.  However, not I've got a huge amount of meat to work with for the rest of the week/ to put in the freezer for later.  I also really love making cranberry's always just seemed magical to me that it's so easy. 

Monday:  Creamy Turkey & Mushroom Noodle Casserole
I'm modifying the recipe linked above to include turkey instead of chicken.  It's a nice dairy-free creamy sauce.  Since DS is wheat-free for now, I'll use tapioca starch in lieu of AP flour.

Tuesday:  Crockpot Pork Roast w/ Baked Fruit and Quinoa
Not quite sure yet how I'll season this pork roast.  Quinoa is getting to be very popular with me though -- I especially like it when I make it with chicken's pretty boring all by itself.  

Wednesday:  Turkey + Veggie Curry w/ Brown Rice
It's been a few weeks since we had a curry...nothing too earth shattering here -- turkey, coconut milk, curry powder/paste, broccoli, carrots, etc.

Thursday:  Leftovers
I'm just assuming that our schedule will be all out of kilter on Thursday even though we're not cooking.  Who knows when/where/what we'll eat.  

Friday:  Taco Night
This is always popular with everyone -- DD because she can try to make an entire meal of nothing but tortilla chips and DS because he LOVES beans and rice (and tortilla chips).  

Saturday:  Meatball Kebabs w/ Rice Pilaf & Roast Carrots
This was so good that I'm going to do it again.  Stay tuned for the "recipe" -- my spice mix really.  I'll be sure to pay better attention when I do it this time.  Hopefully I can replicate it.  Rice with saffron, almonds, golden raisins, and maybe peas plus some carrots roasted with a honey glaze. 

For more menu plans, visit Menu Plan Monday at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan 11/15-11/21

Another week of doing a pretty good job sticking with the plan.  The Chicken Tikka Masala was excellent and even better the second day.  Substituting the So Delicious coconut milk yogurt in the marinade worked great.  Also enjoyed the Chocolate Chip Cookie "Pie" DH and the kids made me for my birthday -- another dairy & soy free dessert for those of you in the market for such things.

Sorry for the lack of linked recipes this week.  It's another week of pretty simple stuff...kind of makes for boring reading though, I know.  I'll try and post the pea soup recipe soon though.  It's good and kind of a different take on pea soup. 

Also sorry for mistakenly posting that I was serving White Chicken Chili this week on Laura's MPM link.  That'll teach me to just press submit after updating the hyperlink.  That was two weeks ago, but I linked it again just in case someone came particularly looking for that. 

Sunday:  Dinner out
One of DD's friends from school had us over for a cook-out. Gorgeous weather -- love San Antonio in the fall!

Monday:  Soup & Sandwiches
Leftover green pea soup with BLTs sandwiches.

Tuesday:  Roasted Apple Sausages and Squash
Butternut squash, sliced bell peppers, and sweet onions roasted with Aidells Chicken Apple sausages. 

Wednesday:  Bacon-Wrapped Fillets, Roast Potatoes, & Salad
These were on special a few weeks back -- $2.99/twin pack...they've been hiding out in the freezer since then.  

Thursday:  Chicken Kofta, Quinoa Pilaf, and Crudites
DH suggested this one...a chance to try out our fun new metal skewers.  Middle-eastern inspired chicken meatballs with a quinoa pilaf.  Olives, hummus (Tribe's brand is safe), and maybe some cucumbers and carrots.

Friday:  Chicken Fingers w/ Baked Zucchini Chips and Corn
The kids' favorite -- oven baked chicken fingers.  Since DS is eliminating wheat, I'm going to try out some tortilla crumbs I found....hopefully they'll crisp nicely.  Then I'm going to try my hand at some zucchini chips -- thin sliced, toss in a ziploc with olive oil and some salt -- bake in a single layer at 425.

Saturday:  Roast Turkey w/ Cranberry Sauce and Sweet Potatoes 
We love Thanksgiving food and since we're not hosting the family dinner this year, DH wants to be sure to have his fair share of leftovers.  So we're going to roast our own turkey.  Look for lots of turkey leftover recipes next week. 

Want more menus -- check out Menu Plan Monday at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie "Pie"

This is another vegan recipe that I've adopted as my own.  I've found that vegan recipes are a great way to find dairy-free recipes...then you just have to sub out any soy products.  

This dessert is most like a really large cookie that's served in wedges like a pie.  Enjoy Life makes soy-free chocolate chips. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie "Pie" (Serves 8-10)

3/4 c whole wheat four
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t cocoa powder
1/2 c sugar
1 c oats (old-fashioned/quick)
1/2 c chocolate chips/chunks
3 T oil
1/4 c applesauce
1/4 c milk/milk substitute
1 t vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine dry ingredients (flour through chocolate chips).
  3. Mix wet ingredients (oil through vanilla).
  4. Combine together and spread evenly in a round glass dish.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Plan 11/8-11/14

Last week went pretty well.  I only bumped one meal because we had dinner with my in-laws one night.  I think my favorite meal from last week was the White Chicken Chili although really everything turned out well. 

I'm not feeling especially inspired this week, so there's lots of simple stuff or old standbys this week.

Sunday:  Cuban Pork, Black Beans, & Yellow Rice w/ Mangoes
This one got bumped from last week.  Pork marinated in lime and cilantro. 

Monday:  Pork Tacos with Baked Apples
Trying to keep it simple on our busiest nights -- using pre-prepared pork from the grocery store. 

Tuesday:  Grilled Chicken, Tater Tots, and Roasted Broccoli
Boring but pretty easy -- and hopefully pleasing to the kids.  I like how roasted broccoli is just a little crunchy.  Tater tots can be tough to find soy-free...the Cascadian organic brand are what I get usually.

Wednesday:  Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice and Curried Cauliflower
I'll be using coconut milk products in lieu of the dairy. 

Thursday:  Pizza
The kids have been asking for pizza again.  I'm thinking of making some pesto to jazz up the pizza for the adults. 

Friday:  Out
DH and I are going out to celebrate my birthday!

Saturday:  Potato Skins with Green Pea Soup
This is going to be an interesting experiment.  I'm thinking of topping the potato skins wtih bacon and goat cheese.  The soup is one I haven't made in a long time.  It uses frozen green peas instead of dried split peas.  Much fresher flavor with lemon and mint accents.  I'll post the recipes later this week.

Check out Menu Plan Monday at for more menus and recipes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili (Serves 4)
1/2 - 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 T cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1 t salt
1 c chicken broth
1/2 c jarred tomatillo salsa or 12-15 tomatillos, quartered
2 cans (or 4-5c) white beans, drained but not rinsed
  1. Combine chicken, spices, broth, and salsa/tomatillos in a crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours til chicken shreds easily.
  2. About an hour before serving time, add in beans. 
  3. Serve with extra salsa or a splash of Tabasco-style hot sauce.

For more crockpot recipes, checkout Crockpot Wednesdays @ Dining With Debbie

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Menu Plan 10/31-11/7

Last week actually turned out pretty well as far as following the plan goes.  My favorite meal from last week as Pot Roast w/ Carrot Souffle.  I also served some Rosemary Yukon Gold potato wedges alongside.  The Kale Chips were interesting...I might try the concept again with some other veggies.

Saturday:  Mustard-Maple Salmon w/ Sauteed Spinach & Quinoa
I left this TBD on last week's menu.  Wild-caught Coho salmon is on sale this week.  I like to sautee my spinach with some garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  I think the quinoa will be pretty straightforward...cooked in broth.

Sunday:  Hot Dogs/Sausages & Chips w/ Fruit Salad
There's a block party at church this afternoon where they'll be serving hot dogs.  However since DS's eczema has been bad lately, we're keeping a pretty tight reign on eating out with him.  I'm thinking we'll  bring our own "safe" food and go have a picnic dinner afterward. 

Monday: White Chili w/ Cornbread
I'm thinking the slow cooker for this one -- boneless, skinless chicken thighs, with white beans of some sort and jarred salsa verde.  Maybe I'll mix some mexi-corn into the cornbread for variety.

Tuesday:  Shepherd's Pie
Another quick and easy one.  I may cheat with instant mashed potatoes if I'm pressed for time.  The plain ones are safe.   

Wednesday:  Dinner out
Food allergies are a real pain to deal with at again I'll be packing in dinner for DS -- safe tortillas, refried beans, and maybe some chicken. 

Thursday:  Apricot-Salsa Chicken w/ Rice & Broccoli
This is a super-simple recipe -- chicken breast + equal parts salsa & apricot/peach preserves.  I've seen variations on this all over the place.  It work well as a "dump chicken" recipe for the freezer.  Depending on the texture you want, I've used chicken thighs and done a long slow cook to make them fall apart.  I'm going to double this to take to another family.

Friday: Cuban Pork, Black Beans, & Yellow Rice w/ Mangoes
I'm basing this dish on this recipe.  I'll be using "fresh" beans and homemade yellow rice. 

Saturday: Potato Gnocchi/ Spinach & Cheese Ravioli w/ Salad

For more recipes, check out Menu Plan Monday at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Carrot Souffle

I based my recipe on this recipe from Recipezaar.  Then I started making modifications to it.  So here's my version.

Carrot Souffle (Serves 4)
1.5 lb carrots, peeled & cut into a few pieces
1/2 c coconut milk
2 egg yolks or egg replacer
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1/4 c non-dairy milk alternative (I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage)
  1. Steam or boil your carrots til soft.  Then roughly mash them with a fork or potato masher.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Place coconut milk, vanilla, carrots, eggs, and bron sugar in a blender.  Blend til very smooth.  This is going to take a bit.  I usually have to stop and move things around a bit.  It works best too if the liquids are on the bottom.
  4. Pour your carrot puree into a glass casserole dish (I use an 8x8 square or smaller with this amount).  
  5. Mix in the baking powder.  You can also add in a couple of tablespoons of flour at this point to make a stiffer souffle if you like. 
  6. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  
My younger child loves this.  My husbands says it tastes like pie! 

You can vary the seasoning -- ginger or nutmeg would be a natural fit with carrot.  I was also thinking that some orange flavor would go nicely, so maybe using some orange juice (and less sugar, I bet) or orange extract instead of vanilla.  This is a great holiday recipe too.

Posted to  Our Krazy Kitchen's Fall Recipe Roundup

Pot Roast

Pot Roast (Serves 4-6)
1.5 lb top sirloin, trimmed
1 t ground pepper
1 t paprika
1 t salt
1 c water
2 t Beef Better Than Bullion
1 T Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced/grated
1/2 onion
  1. Sirloin and seasonings in a crockpot.  Add liquids and place the onion half on top. 
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Remove meat & onion from crockpot.  Pour juices into a small saucepan.  Return meat to the crockpot to keep warming. (I usually turn off the crockpot at this point).
  4. Boil the pan juices over medium-high til reduced to about 1/4 of the original.  You can add a bit of flour or cornstarch at this point if you want to make your gravy thicker.
Note:  You can include the traditional carrots and potatos as well.  Place them on the bottom of the crockpot and add the meat on top.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Potato Soup

Potato Soup (Serve 4+)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3-4 sliced of bacon, chopped
8 sm-med potatos, peeled & cubed (I used Yukon Gold)
1 lg clove garlic, smashed
3c chicken broth
1/4c milk (or milk alternative, I used some coconut milk)
salt & pepper to taste
chives & crumbled bacon (opt)
  1. Add onion and bacon to a large pot over medium heat.  Saute til onion is translucent and bacon fat is rendered.
  2. Add in potatoes & garlic.  Stir.
  3. Cover most of the way with chicken broth.  Cook over medium-low heat til potatoes are tender.
  4. Use a stick blender to puree soup to desired level of smoothness.  I like to leave mine a bit lumpy.  You can do this is a regular blender...but be careful!
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add in the milk and reduce to low heat til ready to serve.

Menu Plan 10/25-10/31

Last week's menus got made for the most part with a smattering of last minute improvs.

The Ranch Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad was a definite winner.  I made up a batch of DF-SF Ranch Dressing and thinned it out a bit to simulate the bottled dressing the recipe calls for.  I also added in a couple cups of chopped romaine lettuce.  Will definitely make that again!

The Cranberry Skillet Chicken was decent although I followed the suggestion in one of the comments and used 1 c homemade cranberry sauce, 1 T ketchup, 1 T mustard, 1 T worcestershire, and 1/4c cider vinegar.  Next time I'll omit the vinegar entirely -- not really necessary imo.  Plenty sweet also without the addition of extra sugar or all that ketchup.

I'm not sure what's going to happen this week.  As of Sunday morning, both kids are sick...hopefully we'll be able to get in to see the dr. tomorrow.  Fingers crossed it's not flu.

Sunday:  Potato Soup + Kale Chips + Vegan Pumpkin Cake
This used to be more of a loaded baked potato soup back in our old dairy days, but it's still fun with bacon and onion and good seasoning.

The Kale Chips are an experiment...not sure how they'll turn out.  Stay tuned. 

This is my husband's birthday, so there'll be cake too.  The cake is really a vegan pumpkin bread recipe that uses coconut milk, but I like to make it in a bundt pan to make it more like a cake.  I'll probably do a simple powdered sugar glaze on top for decoration.

Monday:  Roasted Italian Sausage & Antipasto Salad w/ Garlic Bread
I'm thinking rotini pasta with green olives, peas, and chopped pepperoni tossed with one of my favorite dressings -- Brianna's Real French Vinaigrette.

Tuesday:  Pot Roast w/ Potatoes & Carrot Souffle
I'm going to use a pot roast recipe I got from our local grocery uses Top Sirloin (which was conveniently on sale this week) seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, and fresh garlic.  I'm going to do a carrot souffle on the side...I omit the butter and puree it....yum! 

Wednesday:  Pad Thai
This is just a kit from the grocery soy -- woohoo.  I'll add in scallion, chicken, & egg...maybe some peanuts.  Garnish with lime.

Thursday:  Beef & Broccoli Fried Rice
This is going to be something sort of simple thrown together I'm betting. 

Friday:  School Festival -- dinner out
One of our favorite local restaurants is catering...fried catfish....yum.  Really hoping everyone is well by then.

Saturday:  TBD
Probably a make-up of something that didn't get made earlier in the week.

For more menu plans, check out MPM @

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Plan 10/18-10/24

Sunday:  Dinner @ church

Monday:   Ranch Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad
From the Cooking During Stolen Moments blog.  I'm going to be tinkering with a new product -- So Delicious Coconut Milk beverage -- to see if I can replicate a non-dairy/non-soy ranch dressing.  I'm probably going to have to reserve some of each of the ingredients since the kids object to mixed up foods.

Tuesday: Breaded Pork Chops w/ Roasted Asparagus & Baked Apples
HEB's running one of their 5for$5 specials again this week on whole pork loins.  The last time they did this I bought a 7lb whole loin (for $7) and got two large pork roasts + about 10 thick pork chops out of it.  I'm planning to pick up one again this week. Asparagus also on sale this week....South American maybe since I think of asparagus as a spring crop.  Rounding out the fall theme with some baked apples....I have a new favorite -- Honeycrisps. 

Wednesday: Sausages w/ Grapes & Balsamic Vinegar w/ Couscous & Salad
This is a very interesting dish -- Italian sausages and whole grapes roasted in the oven topped with balsamic vinegar.  Normally I'd serve it with pasta, but in the interests of speed and varying things up, I'm thinking couscous.

Thursday:  Cranberry Skillet Chicken w/ Wild Rice & Green Beans
My in-laws had us over for dinner last week, so this menu got bumped from last week's plan.

Friday: Carnitas w/ Spanish Rice, Tortillas, and Sauteed Squash
The carnitas are frozen from Costco...seriously salty but quite tasty. 

Saturday:  Out or FFYN

For more menus, check out Previous Food Stuffs Menu Plans or visit Menu Plan Monday on

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Apple-Pecan Pancakes

Apple-Pecan Pancakes
by 3KillerBs

The Verdict:  A+
I found this recipe on recipezaar last week.  It was fabulous!  Definitely more involved prep time than my usual pancake recipe, but really delicious. I loved the hint of lemon, the crunch of the pecans, the crisp bits of apple....

The only modification I made to the recipe was using rice milk in place of regular milk and the So Delicious Coconut Milk beverage in place of the heavy cream. 

The recipe says it makes 3 doz pancakes....I got about 8, but I made mine really big (like almost plate sized). 

I wish I'd taken a picture, but we were too busy eating.  The kids were totally silent if that gives you an indication of their opinion.  Even picky DD ate around the bits she was suspicious of without comment. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan 10/11-10/17

I noticed that this was my 14th or 15th menu plan.  I don't know if everyone reaches a point where the fun starts to wear off, but I just haven't been feeling the love lately.  Last week was a real slog to MAKE myself stick to the plan.  I guess I'm glad I did....

I've been working on a new jogging program for the last 6 weeks.  (The Couch to 5K plan from if anyone is interested.)  I'm at the stage where things are getting significantly more challenging, but on the other hand I'm really seeing the results.  Seeing those results (clothes fitting better, realizing my recovery time is dropping, going further than I could just a few weeks ago, etc.) is what's keeping me motivated -- along with having a plan to follow and check off as I go.  I need to get that sort of perspective going on my meal planning too.

Here's to a better attitude and a fruitful week of working my menu plan!

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken w/ Zucchini and Shells
Store-bought rotisserie chicken to the rescue.  Served with lightly cooked zucchini along with shells in homemade cheese sauce for the grown-ups and salt & olive oil for the kids.

Monday:  Chicken "Pot Pie"
I said I was going to make one of these a couple weeks ago, but it never got done.  We'll try again with the chicken leftover from last night.  I'm probably going to do it Rachel Ray style w/ a biscuit topping rather than a pastry crust.

Tuesday:  Egg Salad Pitas with Fruit & Chips
Sandwich night is quickly becoming a favorite of's such a relief after a long day at work.

Wednesday:  Cranberry Skillet Chicken w/ Wild Rice & Green Beans
Since I've been trying to cut back on our use of tomatos (they seem to make DS itch more), I'm always on the lookout for new sauce ideas.  I love cranberries too -- very fall.

Thursday:  Mushroom Turkey Meatloaf w/ Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Vegetables
From the Oct. 2009 ed. of Bon Appetit...with a few modifications to make it dairy-free.  Served with mashed potatos and roasted rutabaga, turnips, and parsnips (I'm trying to be more adventurous).

Friday:  Pizza!
What can I say -- it's popular with everyone and pretty easy for me.  Take-out is such a hassle when you're trying to avoid certain foods, but I miss the fun of it.  This is a decent compromise.  Plus I take a certain pride in knowing I made it all myself. 

Saturday:  Apple-Pecan Pancakes
This was one of the featured recipes on recipezaar this week.  Pancakes were so popular last week that I thought it'd be fun to do again.  I may modify this one slightly...we'll see, but I love apples and pecans.  Yum!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Italian Chicken Roll-Ups

Well these were fun and different.  I particularly like the cooking technique -- they're steamed in foil. 

Italian Chicken Roll-Ups (serves 4)
4 thin chicken breast pieces (I halve my breasts horizontally)
1/2 c filling -- this is really whatever you want -- pesto, sun dried tomato something, etc.
4 sheets aluminum foil

1/4 c toasted pinenuts (we toast ours in the hot air popper -- thanks Alton!)
1/4 - 1/2 c chopped fresh herbs (I used basil & tarragon)
2 scallions
zest & juice of 1 lime
1 t olive oil (just enough to help hold it together but not enough to make it loose)
salt to taste
  1. Start water to boiling in the bottom of whatever you use for steaming.
  2. Combine filling ingredients in food processor and chop to a rough paste.  
  3. Lay a piece of chicken on a piece of foil.  Spread 1-2T of filling all over the top.  
  4. Roll up the chicken (length-wise).
  5. Wrap the foil around it tightly, twisting the ends to secure it.  You'll end up with something that looks like a Christmas cracker.
  6. Place foil packets in the steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove from the steamer and check to make sure they're fully cooked by piercing it with a wooden skewer.
  8. Slice into roulades.
The Verdict:  B+
These were quite tasty.  I needed to work on my filling just a touch.  Next time I will also pound my chicken to a more even thickness before rolling.  All in all though, it was quick and easy.  The chicken was moist but fully cooked, and the presentation was nice.

Chicken Verde

I've renamed this recipe from Tomatillo & Chicken Tostadas.  This is the second Rachel Ray recipe (from Just in Time) on this week's plan.

Chicken Verde (serve 4+)

1 zucchini, quartered and chopped
4 scallions, chopped
12-16 oz of cooked chicken, shredded
1 t cumin (I used a good bit more b/c I love cumin)
1/2c - 1c tomatillo salsa
juice of 1 lime
  1.  Saute zucchini til it starts to soften.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients except lime and cook to heat through.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.
The recipe originally called for serving on crispy baked tortillas topped with cheese.  I was going to do that minus the cheese with my favorite uncooked tortillas.  Then they turned out like this:

Hahaha.  So needless to say ours were not tostadas/chalupas (there was much debate at our house about the proper terminology). 

You could also serve as a filling for soft tacos.

The Verdict:  B+
The flavors were excellent.  This particular execution was a little wonky, but I'll certainly try the basic concept again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Provencal Tuna Salad

This was a really yummy recipe.  It billed itself as a 15 minute deal, but it took me a bit longer than that to put the tuna salad together.  However, it's a great make-ahead kind of thing.

This is very slightly modified from the recipe of the same name from Just In Time by Rachel Ray.

Provencal Tuna (serve 6+)
18 oz tuna (water-packed, drained)
2T olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
6 sprigs tarragon, chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped
3 T capers, drained
1-2 shallots, chopped
1/2 olives, pitted & chopped

The Verdict: A+
I loved this.  I don't know about the rest of my family, but this hit all sorts of good flavor things for me.  I think what really makes this dish for me is the tarragon. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Menu Plan 10/4-10/10

I've been going through my cookbooks again and I've got quite a few new recipes.  I'll post them as I make them if they're any good.

Sunday:  Crispy Mustard Chicken w/ Fries & Salad
Bumped from last week's plan

Monday:  Roasted Asparagus Pasta *New*
I'm melding together a couple of recipes from one of my pasta cookbooks.  Right now I think the dish is going to involve roasted asparagus, roast garlic, and pinenuts. 

Tuesday:  Provencal Tuna Sandwiches w/ Chips *New*
This is a Rachel Ray recipe -- tuna w/ tarragon, basil, olives, shallots, and capers served on toasted bread.  The original calls for toasting the sandwiches with cheese -- some of us may do that, but we'll see.

Wednesday:  Tomatillo & Chicken Tostadas w/ Black Beans and Corn *New*
Another Rachel Ray recipe -- shredded chicken (HEB makes a pre-made shredded chicken for enchilladas, etc. that is dairy & soy free that we like to use), zucchini, and tomatillo salsa served on baked flour tortillas. 

Thursday:  Italian Chicken Roll-Ups w/ Couscous and Carrots *New*
I was intrigued by the cooking method in this one -- thin chickn breast pieces spread with pesto and rolled up in foil & then steamed.

Friday:  Bean burgers w/ Broccoli and Sweet Potato Wedges
Bean burgers are a San Antonio trademark -- right up there with puffy tacos.  Hamburgers are topped w/ refried beans, fritos, salsa, and cheese.  I'll omit the cheese for those who're sensitive.  Optional add on of guacamole if you want a really messy burger or pickled jalapenos if you want it hot.

Saturday:  Taco Soup
My mom used to make this soup all the time during the winter.  I'm going modify the recipe some to use up some leftovers from Wednesday's dinner plus some stuff hanging out in the freezer.  I'll post the recipe later this week.

Need more menu ideas? Check out Menu Planning Monday on

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sugar Cookies -- Belated Birthday Party Post

So I meant to post about this earlier, but it's just been too busy.  For DD's actual birthday I made the egg-free/ dairy-free Chocolate Cake that I've posted before.  However, for her party, I wanted to make something more portable/less messy since we were not going to be at home.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan 9/27-10/3

Sunday:  Chicken Parcels w/ Roasted Broccoli
This was a fun experiment.  I wrapped thin chicken breast pieces (from a larger breast cut in half horizontally)around a sauce of dijon mustard, mayo, and peach preserves.  Then wrapped that up in two pieces of fillo dough (brushed with olive oil).  Baked in the oven at 400F for 30 minutes.  The broccoli I roasted with a couple of cloves of garlic -- very popular with my son.

Monday:  Chili
I wished I'd had the ingredients to make this last week when we were having our seriously unseasonable cold and rainy spell.  It doesn't matter though I love chili no matter the time of year.  I'm contemplating using the top sirloin steak I have in the freer and doing this in the crockpot, but I may just default to using ground beef.  Also, I'm going to be fiddling with my recipe to see if I can reduce/eliminate the tomato since that seems to give DS more trouble when his hands are broken out (like now).  I'll post the recipe if it turns out to be worth remembering.

Tuesday:  Meatballs with gravy and biscuits and green beans
Meatballs are popular with the kids.  I'm thinking a brown gravy and then some homemade biscuits. 

Wednesday:  Pizza Night
This is my daughter's 5th birthday and she requested pizza for her birthday dinner. 

Thursday:  Pancakes & bacon & fruit salad
As a kid I always loved breakfast for dinner nights -- probably because breakfast (for reals) was usually just cereal.

Friday:  Out/FFYN
I've got a girl's night out and DH and the kids will be fending for themselves.

Saturday:  Crispy mustard chicken tenders w/ fries & green salad
This is always popular with both children.  The fries are the Alexia brand waffle fries which are quite good baked.

Want more?  Previous Food Stuffs Menu Plans or check out Menu Plan Monday @

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beef Stroganof

It's probably more accurate to describe this dish as a homemade hamburger helper (maybe the stroganof variety).  It was a fun change of pace for us and came together pretty quickly.

Beef Stroganof/Homemade Hamburger Helper (serves 4)
~1 lb ground beef
1 lb egg noodles
1 8oz can mushroom stems & pieces
1 t Beef Better Than Bullion
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c sherry (opt, but I really love the nutty flavor sherry brings to food)
1/4 c plain cultured coconut milk yogurt (or regular yogurt if dairy's not an issue)
1 T tomato paste
  1.  Brown the ground beef over medium heat and cook the noodles according to the package directions.
  2. Break up the beef and drain off any excess fat.
  3. Add in remaining ingredients.  Cook to warm through. 
  4. Serve over noodles.
The Verdict:  A+
DH and I really enjoyed it and the kids liked it pretty well.  It was really fast and didn't require a lot of effort on my part, which I appreciated on a Monday night.  It's not as creamy as boxed HH would be, but you could add more yogurt/make more of a gravy for it if you prefer it that way. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Plan 9/20-9/27

It's been a hard week for me.  I've been really lacking in motivation to stick with my plan or just to cook in general.  Looking back at last week's menus though it was actually all pretty good.  The peach/prosciutto/goat cheese pizza was really awsome (although not grilled).  The Monte Cristos were kind of fun and different. 

I'm not totally in love with this week's plan.  We've got a bunch of things going on this week and I'm sort of expecting an uphill slog on keeping on track.

This is a variation on the Indian "curry" we do about every other week.  It's become a regular around here since we stopped doing as many Asian stirfry-style dinners.  As a bonus DS usually really likes it and he's fond of cauliflower.  It's an easy vegetarian dish -- toss in whatever veggies you like.

Monday:  Beef Stroganof & Green Beans

Tuesday:  Dinner Out

Wednesday:  Chicken Soft Tacos
There was a sale on split chicken breasts at HEB this week, so I'm going to roast a batch of them and use the meat throughout the week.  Tortillaland uncooked tortillas, beans, sliced avocado, maybe some corn, and salsa to round out this meal. 

Thursday:  Chicken Potpie
We'll be making this up as we go along, but here's another appearance by the roast chicken, assorted veggies, and a homemade pie crust (possibly wrapped around individual hand-pies?).  DH will be doing an assist here since he likes to make pastry crust.

Friday:  Couscous Salad
We've got a church pot-luck that night, so this is going to be our contribution. 

Saturday:  Chicken & Sausage "Paella"

We've got a huge tub of rice w/ veggies that DH made over the weekend. I'm going to add chicken and some precooked sausage to it and probably some extra spices to jazz it up.

Saturday is also DD's birthday party (#5!), so maybe I'll post her party menu (once I have it planned!).

Sunday:  Grilled Chicken Breasts + Tater Tots + Baked Beans

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Menu Plan 9/13-9/19

Another week is upon me already!  This past week went ok -- FFYN end up being eat out but oh well. 
Extra:  Pineapple Punch
My favorite kind of punch.  It's a simple recipe that scales up or down well. 

Sunday:  Monte Cristos
I'm planning to make another batch of Artisan Bread and then make these with ham and jam. 

Monday:  Savory Bread Pudding w/ Applesauce or Fruit
More ways to use of fresh bread and eggs plus mushrooms and Italian sausage.  Fresh fruit as a side.

Tuesday:  Mediterranean Tuna Casserole (freezer)
Using the remaining half of this recipe that I made a few weeks ago. 

Wednesday:  Pasta Puttanesca w/ Salad
Another "traditional" Italian pasta treatment (recently read that the earliest versions of this sauce only date from the 1960s) with olives, capers, anchovy (paste in my case 'cause I don't do whole anchovy), garlic, and tomatoes. 

Thursday:  Dinner Out -- School Open House

When I saw this recipe, my mouth started watering.  It's right up my alley.  Plus, I've been seeing so many other grilled pizzas that I figured I had to try it out.  The rest of the family may do more traditional toppings for theirs. 

Saturday:  Chicken Tikka Masala w/ Roasted Broccoli and Basmati Rice
I'm going to attempt to de-dairy this recipe with coconut milk & coconut milk yogurt.  We'll see how it turns out. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vegetarian Samosas

Vegetarian Samosas (12 samosas)
1/2 package fillo dough, thawed (I used Athens brand)
2 T oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t garam masala
1/2 t ground ginger
pinch turmeric
3 sm-med potatoes, diced
1-2 c other veggies (I used peas & carrots)

oil for frying
  1. Heat oil in a deep, heavy skillet.  Once hot, add in the garlic and spices.  Cook 1 minute. 
  2. Add potatoes and stir.  Cook til they're about 1/2 done (you want them to be pretty tender).
  3. Add in other veggies and cook the rest of the way.  You might want to try mashing some of the potatoes to help the mixture hold together a bit better.  I didn't do that this time and it was a little hard to handle.
  4. Start heating your frying oil.  You want it at 350F.
  5. Unroll your fillo dough on a clean piece of parchment paper/wax paper.  Lay out a sheet of dough and fold it over length-wise (you want a long narrow rectangle).  Place about 2 T of filling at one end of the dough and fold the side of the fillo dough over the filling to form a triangle.  Then fold your dough up in triangles up the rest of the length of fillo. 
  6. You'll need to seal the loose edge of the samosa with a little bit of water.  Be careful not to overdo it or you'll get the rest of the fillo soggy. 
  7. Fry at 350F for 1-2 minutes. Drain well.
Serve with plain yogurt, chutney, etc.  I used plain cultured coconut milk yogurt (from So Delicious) and apricot preserves. 

The Verdict:  A-
They were tasty and the spice mixture is just right.  I would likely do more of a mashed potato mixture next time.  The fillo was pretty easy to work with.  The frying was a pain though because we don't have a real deep-frying setup.  I'm wondering if you could bake them?  Not something I'd make very often unless I could figure out an easier way to cook/crisp them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weekly Roundup

Chicken Tikka Masala from Recipezaar -- sub coconut milk for the cream & use the new So Delicious coconut milk yogurt (plain)
Spicy Peanut Sauce w/ Crazy Veggie Slaw from Frugal Organic Girl
Peach, Prosciuto, and Goat Cheese Grilled Pizza from Jerry's Thoughts (this sounds so good to me!)

Also I've just recently discovered the meme - Presto Pasta Nights.  Here are a few recipes from there that look interesting:
Fusili w/ Eggplant & Pinenuts -- probably something I'll save for just DH & I
Homemade Rice-a-Roni -- fun idea that would probably go over well with my kids
Easy Peasy Chorizo Pasta -- maybe with another type of sausage for great kid appeal

Then there was quite the bonanza of recipes from MPM this week.
Ranch Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad from The Finer Things
Drunken Jerk Chicken @ What's For Dinner?
Wheatberry Salad and Chicken with Apricots from Grand Central Kitchen
Savory Bread Pudding from My Frugal Adventures

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Menu Plan 9/6 - 9/12

We did a pretty good job with the menus this past week despite practically everyone being sick at some point or other.  I was proud of my excellent adaptation of the menu plan to use up leftovers as Pork Fried Rice became Spicy Peanut Noodles w/ Pork

One of the stand outs from last week was the Ranch Chicken Burgers.  I ended up cooking those over at my in-laws place b/c DH and his dad went dove hunting and wanted to eat their 5 dove fresh (that was an appetizer).  I put about a 1/2 t each of onion and garlic powder, 1-2 t of dried parsley, 4 large crumbled crackers, salt and pepper, and 2 sliced green onions in with the ground chicken.  Then cooked them in an electric skillet til they were done.  Served them on mini bagels with sliced avocado and mayo.  Those who were so inclined added a quarter slice of havarti on top.  They were great.   

Sunday:  Pizza w/ Caesar Salad
This is a hold over from last week.  We had a leftover night mid-week while DH & DD were sick. 

Monday:  Grilled Sausages w/ Corn on the Cobb and Arugula Potato Salad
The potato salad is a recipe I found on Stetted's blog.  The kids may not like it, but they'll have corn that they do like.  Also this is apparently the week for specials on corn around here -- both grocery flyers were advertising 5 ears/$1, which is the cheapest it's been all summer (this isn't corn country - esp. not with the drought).  If I'm lucky I'll get some extra ears to cut the corn from for other dishes. 

Tuesday:  Penne Tricolore
Trying a new vegetarian pasta dish.  Looks pretty quick and easy.

Wednesday: Taco Salads w/ Fresh Corn and Avocado Salsa
I've got a ton of ground beef in the freezer along with some fresh pinto beans I made last week.  Serve w/ tortilla chips, some shreded iceberg lettuce and corn & avocado salsa.

Thursday:  Veggie Samosas (New!) w/ Basmati Rice
This recipe is from a vegetarian cookbook and uses phyllo pastry wrapped around a mixture of spiced potato, onion, and peas.  I'm planning to make a large batch and freezing the extras.

Friday:  Homemade Rice-a-Roni w/ Meatballs and Green Beans
This will hopefully be another kid friendly menu.

Saturday:  FFYN
I saw someone else use this acronym on their blog and love it -- fend for yourself night!  This also give us some flexibility in case we have to bump the schedule if something comes up over the holiday weekend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Spicy Peanut Noodles w/ Pork

Well, the planned remix of Indonesian Fried Rice as Pork Fried Rice morphed into a pretty darn impressive repurposing of my leftovers from Porkchops w/ Pineapple.  I got the general idea for this from an Indonesian Hot Rice salad recipe in a vegetarian cookbook.  Then I rummaged around in the fridge and started throwing flavor combos together.

Spicy Peanut Noodles w/ Pork (serves 2-3)
1 porkchop ~ 8 oz cooked pork, sliced thinly
4 green onions, sliced (both white & green parts)
1/2 lg red bell pepper sliced thin and then cut into 2-3" pieces
1/2 c chopped fresh pineapple
2 small carorts, finely grated
1 c cooked noodles (I was using leftover capellini)
Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1-2 T oil

Spicy Peanut Sauce
3-4 T peanut butter
1 T lime juice
1/3 c sherry
2 T Worcestershire (or soy sauce)
2-3 T Sriracha or other chili sauce (less if you prefer less spicy)
  1. Heat oil in a wok or large heavy skillet on high heat.  Add in green onion, bell peppers, and carrots.  Cook for a few minutes. 
  2. Add in the pork to heat through. 
  3. Stir in Spicy Peanut Sauce and stir to melt the peanut butter and coat the meat and veggies.
  4. Add in the pineapple and noodles.  Use tongs to toss the pasta with the sauce.  Add an extra splash or two of liquid (your choice) if your sauce seems too thick.
  5. Once everything is hot.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro.
Next time I'll take the time to add some fresh garlic and ginger in at the beginning. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara (serves 4)
8 oz cooked long thin pasta of your choice (I'm using whole wheat capellini)
2-3 slices of bacon/pancetta, diced*
1/2 medium yellow/sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
red pepper flakes (opt)
1 bay leaf/ fresh or ground thyme
1/2 c white wine or broth
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt & pepper

*Pancetta really brings an amazing flavor to this dish -- I think it's from the juniper berries they use in curing it.  I encourage you to try it sometime.  That said, this week I'm using bacon because I already had bought it for another dish, and I'm trying to be more mindful of my grocery expenditures. 
  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions.  Drain.
  2. In a heavy pan, start cooking the pancetta/bacon over medium heat to render the fat.  You're not going for crispy bacon here. 
  3. Add in the onion and garlic and red pepper (if using) and cook til translucent/fragrant
  4. Add in bay leaf/thyme and deglaze the pan with the white wine.  Allow to simmer until the liquid is reduced.
  5. Add drained pasta directly to the pan.  Pour beaten eggs over the top and toss to coat all the pasta.  You're supposed to not really even cook the egg, but if you don't do un-/undercooked eggs then just let it stay on the heat for a couple minutes while stirring.  Remove to serving bowl.  Season with salt & pepper. 
  6. If you eat cheese, you can add some grated Parmesan at this point.  Or fresh parsley, etc. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

Cocoa Spice Rub for Meat from Dark Side of the Fridge
Baked Italian Chicken from the Krazy Kitchen (Simple Supper Saturday)
Mini BBQ Beef Pies (scroll down) from Living Locurto
Red Lantern Grilled Sirloin from Steamy Kitchen
Spicy Peanut Sauce w/ Crazy Veggie Slaw from Frugal Organic Girl
Sausage & Fennel Risotto from Food & Wine by way of Dark Side of the Fridge

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sausage & Bean Casserole: Recipe & Review

This is a brand-new recipe for me.  I found it in a copy of Southern Living (Aug 2009?) that I was browsing during DD's dance class the other day.  I've tweaked it a bit to use fewer pre-packaged products.  If you're not limited by allergy issues as we are, by all means take advantage of those time savers though!

Sausage & Bean Casserole (serves 8)
1 lb ground pork (original:  1 lb bulk pork sausage)
Breakfast Sausage Spice Mix
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
4-5 c cooked pinto beans (original:  4, 14.5oz cans of beans, drained)
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles, undrained
Cornbread Batter (original:  1 c self-rising cornmeal + 1 c buttermilk)
6-8oz cheddar cheese (opt.)

Breakfast Sausage Spice Mix
1 1/2 t fennel seeds
1/2 t caraway seeds
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t ground all spice
1/2 t ground sage
1/2 t garlic powder

Cornbread Batter (this is half a normal cornbread recipe)
1/2 c AP flour
1/2 c cornmeal
2 T sugar (opt)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 c milk
2 T oil/melted shortening
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Brown pork, breaking up as it cooks.  I didn't drain it since it seemed pretty lean and I needed some fat for the veggies. 
  3. Add in the diced onion, bell pepper, and spice mix.  Cook until vegetables are softened.
  4. Stir in beans and tomatoes.  Heat through.
  5. Place meat & bean mixture in a 9x13 casserole dish.  Top with cheese if using.  Pour cornbread batter over the top.  Spread it with a spatula to cover the top of the casserole. 
  6. Bake til cornbread is golden, 30-45 minutes.
The Verdict:  Adults -- A, Kids -- F
DH and I very much liked it although with the diced tomatoes w/ chiles it was "tingley" as my DH said.  Definitely use just regular tomatoes if you're not into hot.  This was an absolute failure with the kids.  I'm not surprised about DD not liking it, but I thought DS would go for it since he likes beans.  Not today.  They might have liked it better with more kid friendly vegetables (I'm thinking corn or similar). 

Also, I discovered that the cheese layer actually serves the important role of allowing the cornbread to really set up by keeping the liquids from the casserole from making the bottom soggy. 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chocolate Cake (Wacky Cake)

This is a fabulous recipe that has the added benefit of being free of several allergens commonly found in cakes! 

Chocolate Cake (Wacky Cake) (make 8" square/round or ~10 cupcakes)
1 1/2 c AP flour
3 T cocoa powder
1/2t salt
1 t baking powder
1 c sugar
5 T oil
1 T white vinegar
1 t vanilla
1 c cold water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Sift all the dry ingredient (including sugar) directly into your baking dish (or a bowl).  Mix them together thoroughly.
  3. Make 3 wells in the dry mixture.  Add the oil to one, the vinegar to another, and the vanilla to the third.
  4. Pour the cup of water over the top. 
  5. Mix well to remove all lumps.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until pick inseted in center comes out clean.
  7. VERY IMPOTANT!  Allow the cake to cool thoroughly before attempting to remove it from the pan. 
  8. You can then frost it, but my personal favorite topping for this cake is sliced strawberries dusted with powdered sugar.   Allow the cake to sit for awhile to let the strawberry juices soak down into the top of the cake. 

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Menu Plan 8/29-9/5

This week's a pretty mixed bag - some repeats and some new.  I'm still working hard to try and keep our busy days as simple as possible on the dinner front.  I've got a potluck on Sunday that I'm cooking some extra for and I also made an extra dinner for another family at the end of last week.  I'm linking those recipes as well.  The new recipes I will post & link this week as I make them so check back.

Extra Recipes: 
Southwestern Pasta (New!)
This is a quick and easy recipe -- a classic beefy pasta bake with a southwestern flair.

Spanish Green Beans
The Pioneer Woman's recipe...making a repeat appearance

Chocolate Cake (aka Wacky Cake) (New!) -- This is an egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free chocolate cake that's easy to make.  The only real trick is being patient enough to let it cool fully before you try to take it out of the pan. 

Saturday:  Chicken Cobb Pitas  
Fingers crossed that the avocado will be ripe!  No blue cheese but maybe some goat cheese of some sort. 

Sunday:  Sausage & Bean Casserole w/ Salad (New!)
I saw this recipe in Southern Living -- breakfast sausage w/ onions, peppers, pinto beans, and some diced tomatoes, topped with cornbread  I'm going to make my own "sausage" by seasoning ground pork with allspice, etc. 

Monday:  Pasta Carbonara (New!) w/ Zucchini
This is a classic Italian pasta dish with egg, pancetta/bacon, and onion.  It's super quick. 

Tuesday:  Pork Chops w/ Pineapple & Asparagus "Gratin"
Plain and simple -- pan fried pork chops with fresh pineapple and roasted asparagus w/ cracker topping.

Wednesday:  Ranch Chicken Burgers w/ Broccoli
Nothing too complicated here either -- seasoned chicken burgers w/ homemade ranch and steamed broccoli. 

Thursday:  Pizza w/ Caesar Salad
Homemade pizza w/ a crisp caesar salad

Friday:  Chickpea & Veggie Curry w/ Rice (extra for Friday)
Recipe repeat from a few weeks ago.  Coconut milk & red curry base with chickpeas, cauliflower, broccoli, and peas.

Saturday:  Pork Fried Rice
It was so much fun we're going to try it again with a few more tweaks -- remix of last week's Indonesian Fried Rice.  I'll post updates later if we have a breakthrough.

For LOTS more menus check out Menu Plan Monday @

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Southwestern Pasta

Southwestern Pasta (serves 4-6)
8-12 oz cooked pasta (cavatapi, large macaroni, etc.)
1/2 lb ground beef
2 c salsa
2 t lime juice
4-6oz grated cheddar cheese (opt)
handful of chopped cilantro (opt)
  1. Cook and drain the pasta.
  2. Brown the ground beef.  Drain the excess fat.  Add in the salsa and lime juice.  Stir to heat through.
  3. Stir pasta and meat sauce together.  Top with grated cheese and cilantro if desired.  You could bake it for a few minutes to brown/crisp the cheese a bit but it's not necessary. 
  4. Serve with extra slices of lime for squeezing over the top.  Would also be very nice with avocado (esp. if you omit the cheese) and green onion. 

Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad

Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad (serves 2-4)
1 medium yellow/sweet onion, diced
1 bell peppers, diced (any color is fine)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 T olive oil
1 c dry French green lentils/dry brown lentils (rinsed and picked over)
enough water/stock/broth to cover the lentils (1.5 - 2 c)
1-2T balsamic vinegar
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2t thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 oz chevre, crumbled
salad greens
  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat and sautee vegetables til softened.
  2. Add in the lentils and cover with water/broth/stock (just enough to go over the top of them.  Increase heat a bit to get them going.  Add bay leaf and thyme and balsamic vinegar. 
  3. Cook coveredover medium/medium-low heat.  Simmer the lentils for 15 minutes depending on how soft you like your lentils.  15 minutes will leave them still pretty crunchy/toothy.  If they're still a little too soupy and/or you like your lentils softer, remove the lid and let them cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Adjust seasoning.
  4. Serve over salad greens with a dollop of chevre on the top.  Drizzle vinaigrette over the top. 
I also served this with the Artisan Bread from An Oregon Cottage.  It was VERY easy and the flavors are great.  I think my dough was probably still a touch wet since it spread more than hers did.  Loved the dutch oven cooking method.

Indonesian Fried Rice

Indonesian Fried Rice (serves 4-6)
(Based on a recipe from Green Mangoes and Lemongrass by Wendy Hutton.)

3-4 T oil
3-4 c cold cooked rice*
7-8 oz beef or pork, thinly sliced (beef's more traditional for Indonesia)
2-4 T soy sauce (I used Worcestershire + some extra salt)
1-2 green onions, thin sliced

Seasoning Paste
1 t anchovy paste/ 1/2t toasted shrimp paste
4-6 shallots
1 garlic clove
1t lime juice
2t oil
1/2t seasame oil
1/2 t dried red pepper flakes

*It's best to make the rice the day before and let it hang out in the fridge to dry out.
  1. Heat oil in wok or heavy skillet over medium heat.
  2. Combine the seasoning paste ingredient in a food processor in pulse til a rough paste forms (don't need to liquify it just get everything chopped v. small).  It's gonna be very strong smelling, but don't worry it'll mellow out when you cook it.
  3. Saute seasoning paste in the oil until the shallots are becoming translucent and you lose the raw garlic and onion smell.
  4. Increase the heat and add in the meat.  Cook meat through.
  5. Toss in the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle soy sauce/alternative over the top.  Cook another few minutes.  You want to reheat the rice and get it thoroughly seasoned. 
  6. Remove fried rice from the work and keep warm.  Add a bit more oil and fry one egg for each portion. 
Serve fried rice topped with an egg and sprinkled with scallions.  We ate ours with some Sriracha on top.

The Verdict:  B+
It's a good starting point for a fried rice recipe.  The seasoning paste was really nice despite my skepticism when it was still raw.  It needed a bit more meat and some veggies in it to fit our tastes.  Also I need to tweak my soy sauce substitute.  It's a nice quick recipe though...not too much chopping or prep work needed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weekly Round-up

In honor of my recent Asian kick --

Soy Sauce Substitue
Beef Rendang from Rasa Malyasia (by way of the Meal Planner)
Szechuan Chicken & Noodle Wraps and Crunchy Peanut Slaw from the Meal Planner
Waiter:  The Indonesian Foods Roundup - Not a recipe but a whole site full of Indonesian/Malaysian recipes

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review: Naan and Bombay Chicken

(Image from Flickmor )

Naan and Bombay Chicken
The kids absolutely loved the naan.  I enjoyed it but thought it was more akin to a Greek flatbread than the naan I've had before.  I thought the recipe must be mistaken when it said to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, but it turned out very tender.  It's a touch sweet and I think I needed to roll the dough out a lot thinner. 

Amusingly that night, DH and I were watching a show about India where we saw someone cooking naan.  They cook it by sticking it to the inside wall of their tandoori oven.  Obviously the broiler doesn't have quite the same effect. 

The Bombay Chicken was nice too.  I just eyeballed the proportions for the sauce.  I ended up adding more curry because it wasn't curry enough for me.  I also split our chicken breasts horizontally (my new favorite trick for making it seem like we have a nice portion of meat while still decreasing the amount we're eating) so the cooking times were WAY too long.  I reduced it to 20 minutes & 20 minutes, but I could have gotten by with 15 & 15 I think.  Also I think this dish would be really great with a dark meat chicken, and of course would be a great freezer recipe. 

Chicken Stir-Fry with Mangoes and Cashews

It's night two of our Asian-themed dinners.  Tonight's stiry fry is Thai influenced.  This recipe is based on a recipe from Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass by Wendy Hutton.  The original included a diced tomato thrown in at the end. 

I cooked extra rice tonight to have cold on-hand for tomorrow night's fried rice dish. 

Chicken Stir-Fry with Mangoes and Cashews (Serves 4)
1 lb chicken breast, sliced thinly
3-4 T oil
1 mango sliced
1/4 c cashews
3 T fish sauce/ 1 t anchovy paste + 2 T water + 1 T Worcestershire + 1 t sugar
1 t lime juice
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
7-8oz snow peas/sugar snap peas
  1. Heat oil in heavy skillet/ wok.  Add chicken in batches and cook through.  Reserve.
  2. Mix together fish sauce (or substitute), lime juice, salt, and sugar.  Set aside.
  3. Leave about 1 T oil in the pan, add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook til fragrant. 
  4. Add peas, chicken, and sauce.  Cook another few minutes.
  5. Add cashews and mango.  Cook 30 seconds to warm through.
Serve over rice.

The Verdict:  B+
I had to make some substitutions -- there were no decent mangos so we used fresh yellow peaches (that were not particularly ripe).  Mango would have been much better.   Also I was using frozen sugar snap peas that had been lurking in my freezer for eons and were WAY past their prime.   Then, of course, there was my "fish sauce".  I think our fish sauce we used to have was soy-free, but the last couple times I used it DH seemed to have a reaction to it, so I was faking it tonight.  I think my formulation still needs some work.

I wasn't entirely happy with my sauce. I think next time I'll add some lime zest and maybe finish it off with some fresh cilantro/basil.  DH doctored his by adding some soy sauce and some leftover Thai chili sauce from our take-out Friday night. 

The basic elements were good, it just needs a little polishing I think.  I'll definitely make it again in the near future.  We used to do Asian stir fry all the time before soy sauce became a no-go for us.
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