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.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Menu Plan 8/22 - 8/29

Time for another week's menu plan.  The kids and I are back to school/work this week.  I'm in an "ethnic" mood so there's lots of Asian/Indian themed meals this week. 

Saturday:  Sausage & Onions w/ Gnocchi & Green Salad
This is a clean-out the fridge recipe.  This is the last of a batch of gnocchi I put in the freezer a few months ago.  It's been nice to have in there, but I don't look forward to having to make another batch....what a mess!

Sunday:  Bombay Chicken w/ Naan and Fruit Salad (review)
Trying out a couple of recipes I found recently. 

Monday:  Stir-Fry Chicken with Mango and Cashews w/ Jasmine Rice
This recipe and Tuesday's are from the cookbook Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass by Wendy Hutton.  I'll post them after I make them if they turn out well.  I'll also be experimenting with some fish sauce and soy sauce substitute recipes this week. 

Tuesday:  Indonesian Fried Rice
The recipe calls for beef, but I'm thinking I'll use some pork that I already have in the freezer.  It's served with a fried egg on top. 

Wendesday:  Church -- Fried Catfish, Red Beans & Rice, Coleslaw

Thursday:  Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad w/ Fresh Bread
This is a wonderful main dish salad made with French green lentils, sauteed peppers and onion, balsamic vinegar and chevre. 

Friday:  Meatballs on a Stick w/ Tater Tots and Green Beans
I'm making this one up as I go along.  I'm thinking of some kind of some kind of barbecue/sweet and sour sauce for the meatballs.  I'm hoping the kids will like this one.

Find more Food Stuffs Menu Plans here.  Or for lots more menu plans, check out

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is a wonderful simple dish that you can embellish with all sorts of different ingredients.  Try different vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, or peas.  Or add in a small amount of bacon or better yet pancetta or seafood.  It can be a main dish or side dish. 

Mushroom Risotto (serves 2-4 as a main/ 6-8 as a side)

1 T olive oil
1/2 mild onion, diced
1 c arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
1 c chopped mushrooms
~4 c chicken broth (hot)
pinch of saffron threads (bloom in hot water)
  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook til translucent.
  2. Heat broth and keep at a simmer.
  3. Add in the rice stirring to coat all the rice with olive oil.  Cook for several minutes until the rice starts to become a little translucent.
  4. Stir in the white wine and mushrooms.  Let the rice absorb the liquid, stirring frequently.  Don't let the heat get too high.
  5. Now begin adding the broth 1/2c at a time, stirring almost constantly until the liquid is absorbed.  Keep adding broth in this fashion until the risotto has a creamy consistency and the rice is tender. 
  6. Mix in the saffron.  Adjust seasoning.  If you eat dairy, you can mix in a 1/4-1/2c of parmesan cheese at the very end before serving.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: Jamaican Beef Stew

Started with this recipe from recipezaar.

I made a few modifications to the sauce (see below) -- the meat & veggies are unchanged.

Cooked in the crockpot on low for about 7 hours...the carrots weren't quite as soft as I prefer, but the meat was very nice and tender.  The sauce came out fairly spicy, but I think the BBQ sauce is the main source of heat so that'd be pretty easy to tone down with a different sauce.  The meat and veggies weren't particularly hot themselves.  I served it over mashed potatoes which helped off-set some of the spice

Sauce Base for Jamaican Stew (Crockpot)

1T sugar
1 t anchovy paste
1 t dijon mustard
2-3 T Worcestershire sauce
~1/4 c barbeque sauce (I used Rudy's which has a lot of pepper)
2 t apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 t Beef Better Than Bullion (I'm like a walking billboard, I know!)

Mix together in bottom of crockpot before adding in the meat.  Stir to coat meat.  Top with vegetables.  Finish off with the tomatoes.  I used a can of whole tomatoes chopped up and did NOT add the extra juice.  There was plenty of liquid produced during the cooking process.  I also did not add the cornstarch to thicken the sauce. 

The Verdict:  A-
It was a nice change of pace from a more traditional beef stew/soup.  I think the sauce could use some refining.  The top sirloin is the perfect meat for this sort of thing though.  It doesn't completely fall apart but is definitely much improved by the slow cooking.

Tuesday Recipe Roundup

Short list this week....saw some interesting items on menu plans but no recipes posted yet...maybe they'll make it on next week's list. 

Bombay Chicken from Today's Daily Dose (I'd be subbing olive oil for butter)
Easy Artisan Bread from An Oregon Cottage

Monday, August 17, 2009


I'll apologize upfront to everyone from Louisiana or elsewhere who knows how to make actual authentic Jambalaya. 

Jambalaya (serves 4)
1/2 - 1T olive oil
1 med onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1-2 bell peppers (green is traditional but I use whatever's handy)
1 garlic clove (diced)
8-12 oz chicken (cooked or raw, cut into bites)
1 t thyme
8 oz sausage (I used chicken-apple tonight, but normally I used Kielbasa)
14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 c water + 1t Better than Bullion (or 1 bullion cube/1 c broth)
3/4c uncooked white rice
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pan/skillet.  Add onions, celery, peppers, and garlic.  Saute til onion is translucent.
  2. Add in chicken and diced tomatoes.  If chicken is raw, let it get started cooking before adding in the rice.  You can crank up the heat a bit here.
  3. Add broth, sausage, and rice.  Make sure it's simmering well, then cover and keep at medium for 15-20 minutes til the rice has cooked. 
  4. Serve with Tony Chachere's. 
This is a very versatile recipe and a great way to use up leftover meats. I usually default to making it with chicken (esp. dark meat leftovers from a whole chicken) and sausage (any kind of smoked/cured sausage that you like). If you like shrimp/crawfish, you can toss those is as well.

Add some sherry and oranges and a pinch of saffron --> Quick Paella.

Omit chicken and add a can of kidney beans/red beans.  Substitute a can of tomato sauce for the diced tomatoes --> Red Beans and Rice

Review: Mediterranean Tuna-Noodle Casserole

I started with this recipe from What a Crock!


Dairy & Soy-Free White Sauce
2 c rice milk
2 c boiling water + 2 t Better Than Bullion (or you could use 2 c broth)
2-3T olive oil
1/2c + AP flour

I had a very hard time getting this sauce to set up.  I ended up adding a couple extra T of flour in (in a slurry w/ some of the broth) to get it to a decent consistency and even then it still didn't really thicken like it usually does.  I think the proportions weren't right since I was mostly using the proportions in the original recipe which called for whole milk which has some thickening properties of its own (unlike rice milk). 

I was not very optimistic when I poured it into the rest of the ingredients but it actually set up fine in the casserole. 

Cooking the sauce with the peppers in it also didn't make for a very easy time so I think next time I'll saute them then remove them from the oil to actually make the sauce.

Also, I had DH helping me and he didn't quite get that when I said to open 2 cans of tuna (I got 2 12 oz cans) that I didn't actually mean 2 regular 6oz sized cans.  So we ended up with only half of the amount of tuna called for.  In retrospect I kind of liked the fact that it wasn't overpoweringly tuna. 
I used elbow macaroni which DS (2) really liked.  It was good that the peppers and artichokes were good sized because they could be easily removed since he didn't care for them.

Verdict:  B+
A decent recipe.  The artichokes & peppers make it a bit more interesting, but it didn't blow my skirt up.  I think I would've liked it to be a bit zippier.  On the other hand, aside from my sauce issues, it was easy to prepare.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Menu Plan 8/15-8/21

Saturday:  BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
This is left over from the Crockpot Pork Roast from last week. I think I'll use the BBQ sauce recipe from What a Crock!

SundayMediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole (review)
I'm thinking about making the full recipe so I'll have one to put in the freezer.  I know the recipe calls for tuna in oil, but I'm not sure if I can do it. 

Monday:  Jambalaya
Nice one-pot meal to use up some of that chicken sausage 8pck thawing in my fridge!

Tuesday:  Jamaican Beef Stew w/ Mashed Potatoes (review)
I'll probably do this in a crockpot and obviously omit the soy sauce...maybe sub in some worcestershire (maybe anchovy paste??).  Soy sauce is really hard to replace - you can cover the salt obviously, but it's tricky to find something that suitably brings that depth of flavor. 

Also, yes, I know stew isn't exactly summer-y esp. with the kinds of temps we've been having.  But my theory is that around here if you wait for "stew"/"chili" weather you'll be waiting a long time, and since those are some of our favorite things to eat we just eat them whenever.  At least in the crockpot the heat in the kitchen is somewhat contained.

Wednesday:  Tilapia w/ Black Bean and Corn Salad
Tilapia's on sale again at SunHarvest for $2.99/lb. 

Thursday:  Mushroom Risotto & Salad w/ Mandarin Oranges & Strawberries

Friday: Dinner Out
Our anniversary is this week and my in-laws are getting back after a 3 week trip, so I'm slotting in a dinner out in anticipation that we'll go out or to their place at least once this week.

For more menus visit

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Recipe Round-Up

I'm going to try adding a weekly round-up of recipes I've found on other blogs/sites that I'm interested in trying out.

Raspberry-Glazed Chicken from MJPuzzleMom -- freezer/OAM appropriate
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork from Krazy Kitchen -- crockpot/freezer
Homemade Egg Noodles from Frugal Antics of a Harried Housewife
Dairy Free "Hamburger Helper" from $5 Dinners
Mediterranean Tuna-Noodle Casserole from MJPuzzle Mom (I'd be using a dairy-free "white sauce")
Naan from The Beans Blog -- I was just mentioning that I wanted to find a naan recipe the other day
Cobb Salad Pitas from Virginia Mom

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Menu Plan 8/8-8/14

So do I still get to call it Menu Plan Monday if I never seem to start it on Monday?  This week I decided to see if having a theme for each day made it any easier to plan.  I'm very envious of people who say "oh yeah, I just spend 30 minutes one day doing menu planning".  Just like grocery shopping, I'm a slow menu planner. 
The recipe calls for shrimp (which we've used before), but I think it would be great on chicken.  I think I'll probably serve the couscous as a cold salad. 
I got this recipe from the Happy Housewife's menu plan from last week.

I'm planning to buy a 3 pack of romaine hearts that I'll use for the salad on Sunday, this, the Caeasar salad tomorrow, and then hopefully it'll last til the BLT's.  I'll toss the lettuce in with some refried beans, tortilla chips, salsa, avocados, and a touch of ranch dressing.  The kids may just eat theirs as soft tacos, you never can tell with them.   

This is my standard "spaghetti sauce" -- ground beef with onions, celery, carrots, and tomato sauce.  I've got a little bread leftover from last week's menus that I think would make great croutons for the salad. 

I got this recipe from the Happy Housewife's menu plan too.  I'll round it out with fresh pineapple chunks (always popular with the kids) and fresh sliced tomatoes topped with a little salad dressing.

  • Sandwich Thursday: BLT Sandwiches w/ Pesto Mayo & Broccoli Salad
If there are any avocados leftover from Monday, these may become BLAT sandwiches.  I'll serve them in fresh bread.  The Broccoli Salad is the classic with bacon, raisins, sunflower seeds, and a mayo based dressing.

I'm thinking topping the pizzas with some chicken apple sausage we have in the freezer, bell peppers, and onions.  The kids will probably have theirs with tomato sauce & pepperoni. 

Instead of posting as I go, I'm trying to post all the recipes/links at the beginning of the week. 

Want more? Previous Food Stuffs menu plans or check out for more menus.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Great Summer Side Dish -- Couscous Salad

I snagged this recipe from recipezaar, and then tweaked it a bit.  The original is only for a single serving and when you scale it up the proportions just seemed off.  I made this for a little get-together we had tonight -- outdoors.  It was a great meal for making ahead to simplify entertaining.  It also was very pretty with the yellow, red, and green to liven up the couscous.  Also the hot sauce added just a hint of flavor but didn't really make it spicy.  You could certainly scale it back though it you're leary of hot things.  Even the kids claimed they liked it and that's a hard job around here.

Summer Couscous Salad (serves 6)
2-3 t olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced (divde white/light green bottoms from dark green tops)
1/2 c frozen corn
1 c couscous
2 c water
1-2 t salt
1 1/2 t hot sauce (like Tabasco)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  1. Place the tomatoes and dark green ends of the green onions in your serving/chilling bowl.
  2. Place garlic, rest of green onions, and olive oil in a medium saucepan over med heat.  Saute til the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the water, frozen corn, salt, and hot sauce.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in the couscous.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes.
  5. Add to bowl with tomatoes & green onions.  Stir and chill for at least 1 hour.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spanish Green Beans

Just a quick note to say that the Pioneer Woman Spanish Green Beans were absolutely fabulous.  I approximately halved the recipe using 2 cans green beans & 1 can of tomatoes.  I also added about a 1/2c of sherry to deglaze the pan before I added the veggies.  My 2 y.o. thought it was about the best thing ever.  Old DD not as impressed but that's par for the course - she doesn't even like what she likes half the time.  I could even see this as a main dish maybe with a nice side of risotto.  YUM!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chickpea Curry

I used this recipe from Recipezaar but made a few changes. I left out the tomatoes & tomato sauce/ketchup. I was unexpectedly out of curry paste, so I used several T of curry powder and a healthy dose of garlic powder, onion powder, and a generous shake of red pepper flakes. I used frozen cauliflower and peas and threw in 1/2 c of golden raisins. I didn't use the fresh onion/garlic because I didn't feel like doing extra chopping tonight.

We served it with roti that I found at Costco (RotiLand...looks like the same people who make the TortillaLand uncooked tortillas that are soy-free). They were alright. Roti's not my favorite Indian bread though. I think I'm going to need to find my own naan recipe or something.

CrockPot Sloppy Joes

Lessons learned....if you're using not particularly lean ground beef in the crockpot it's best to brown & drain beforehand.  It wasn't unbearably greasy but would have been a bit better.  On the otherhand there's a lot to be said for just chucking everything into the crockpot the night before and turning it on for DH to tend during the day.

The French bread part deux was not bad.  This time I put half into a loaf pan (it didn't get very tall though so I think probably closer to 3/4 of the dough would make a better loaf).  The other half I pinched off into 1-1.5 inch balls and made pull-apart style rolls.  The kids really liked those.  They were slightly overdone at 12 minutes in a 400 oven though so probably closer to 10 minutes.

This was my improvisation on various Sloppy Joe recipes I'd seen around.  It still needs some work I think.  DH said it was much better with some extra ketchup on it.  The watermelon was the perfect acommpaniment though. 

Crockpot Sloppy Joes (serve 4)
3/4 - 1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion diced
14.5 oz can diced tomato w/ chipotle
2 T worcestershire sauce
1 T molasses

Combine all ingredient in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours.  You'll need to break up the meat at the early stages of cooking.  Alternately you can brown the meat first and then add it cooked to the crockpot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

OAM Cooking and other recipe finds

I like the concept of OAM cooking and stocking up my freezer with lots of premade dinners, but I've found it difficult to find suitable recipes since casseroles play such a big role in many OAM recipe rotations. I'm always on the lookout for things that freeze well that also meet our dietary restrictions. Slowly I'm learning.

Today I browsed by Once A Month Mom's site and found several fun ideas in her August plan. In particularly I was intrigued by the recipe for homemade pop tarts. I might end up making my own pie crust if I can't find a premade one that I like, but still that's genius. I love finding recipes for making stuff like that. I also made special note of the French toast sticks and the Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches.

@ Happy Housewife I liked the Cuban Chicken Salad, Salmon Cakes, and Pork Roast (Crockpot)

This recipe for a dairy-free sour cream substitute looks interesting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Crispy Mustard Chicken

My freshman year of college I was on the 21 meal a week cafeteria plan. My absolute favorite thing they served was called Crispy Mustard Chicken. I've spent quite a bit of time over the last decade trying to recreate that dish. I've finally got my technique down pretty well -- not exactly the same because I'm sure that those were fried, but this recipe gives you a nice crispy oven-baked chicken. It's quite similar to the Brined Oven-Baked Pork Chops I made a few weeks ago. Normally I make this with breasts, but I have tenders today as a result of a $1.77/lb sale the other week.

I've found that the Panko breadcrumbs are really key to making this turn out crispy in the oven. I like to use Ian's Panko Breadcrumbs because they don't have soybean oil in them like most brands I've seen. These things are fabulous really. Great for topping casseroles, veggies, breading stuff, etc.

Crispy Mustard Chicken (serves 4)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or tenders)
2-3 T mustard (dijon, brown, etc.)
1 c Panko breadcrumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with olive/canola oil.
  3. Rinse and pat dry your chicken. Very dry chicken is important here.
  4. Put mustard in one bowl and breadcrumbs in another shallow dish for dredging. Sometimes I'll use a pastry brush to put on the mustard. Also sometimes I'll season the breadcrumbs with salt/pepper/paprika.
  5. After a chicken piece is thoroughly coated in mustard, drop it in the dish with the breadcrumbs. You'll have to pat the breadcrumbs onto the chicken to coat it well. Shake off the excess and place the piece on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat.
  6. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of oil over the top of the pieces (you don't have to douse them just a little on top).
  7. Bake for 10 minutes (tenders)/15 minutes (breasts) and then turn them over carefully. Cook another 5 minutes/ 10 to brown the other side. If you're using really thick chicken breasts it'll probably take closer to 30 minutes to cook the chicken fully.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tuna Panzanella

Panzanella is a classic Tuscan dish -- an excellent way to use up old bread. It's a perfect dish for summer when the tomatoes and basil are at their best. This dish is based on quite a few different recipes I've seen, so feel free to play with the recipe to suit your tastes.

Tuna Panzanella (serves 4 as a main dish)

12-16 oz good bread, cubed (I'm using a couple small loaves of French-style bread from last week)
2-4T olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
several ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 sm onion, sliced thin (traditionally red but use what you have)
1-2 t capers
bunch of fresh basil, chopped
6 oz tuna (I prefer water packed)
1/2 c vinaigrette (I used the Dijon vinaigrette recipe that follows)

Other good add ins: cucumber, olives, fresh mozzarella, cannelini beans, proscuitto/salami

  1. Mix the cubed bread, olive oil, and garlic. Toast in the oven until crisp on the outside.
  2. Mix bread cubes with remaining ingredients. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
  3. Adjust seasoning.

Dijon Vinaigrette

1 t Dijon mustard
zest & juice of 1/2 lemon (~1/2 t zest + 1 T lemon juice)
2 T apple cider vinegar
2-4T olive oil

My favorite way to make vinaigrettes is to put all the ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously. You can also lighten vinaigrette dressings by substituting plain water for up to half of the oil.

The Verdict: A+
This was really great. The bread had a lovely garlic-y (but not too much) flavor. The lemon-dijon vinaigrette was a perfect accent to the tuna without being overwhelmingly lemony. My tomatoes weren't even all that fabulous but they worked out just fine and the basil really made them taste fresh. Loved it!

Menu Plan 8/2-8/7

It's that time of the week again. This week I've managed to meet my goal of having one vegetarian night. As a bonus we've got two fish meals as well. Fortunately, my kids actually really like fish, so after a few weeks off we're back to that again. I'm also trying very hard to make my mid-week meals simpler since I won't be getting home until after 5. Hungry tired cranky mommy + hungry tired cranky kids + elaborate dinner prep do not make for a good recipe for sticking to the plan!

Sun: Tuna Panzanella
Mon: Crispy Mustard Chicken Tenders w/ Quinoa Pilaf & Cantaloupe
Tues: Sloppy Joes (Crockpot) w/ Watermelon
Wed: Chickpea Curry w/ Brown Rice Roti
Thur: Eggsalad sandwiches (bagels/pita) & chips
Fri: Baked Tilapia w/ Spanish Green Beans

I'll post recipes throughout the week and link them here.
Want more? Previous Food Stuffs menu plans or check out for more menus. This week's MPM hosted at The Happy Housewife.

Shepherd's Pie

Growing up, my mom used to make Shepherd's Pie as one of her usual weekly rotation meals. She made it with ground beef, beef bullion, and served it over instant mashed potatoes. We loved it of course. My mom was not a big fan of cooking in the oven so everything was done on the stovetop. I on the other hand do like to use my oven (even when it's ridiculously hot outside), so I make mine in a slightly more traditional mash on top style.

Shepherd's Pie (Serve 4-6)

For mashed potatoes
4-5 medium potatoes (I used red skinned), boiled & mashed
1 t Chicken Better Than Bullion (told you I loved that stuff)
1/2 c water (I used the leftover potato water)
1/2 c rice milk
1-2 t olive oil
salt to taste

Mash potatoes and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add additional rice milk til you reach your prefered texture of mash. Add salt to taste.

For meat and veggie filling
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
2T worcestershire sauce*
1 t Beef Better Than Bullion* (love that stuff!)
1 t dijon mustard
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
2-3t tapioca starch/cornstarch/AP flour
1/3 c water
1 c frozen/fresh mixed veggies (I used carrots & peas)
1/4 c shredded cheese (opt)

* I've recently found bottles of Lea & Perrin's that don't include hydrolized soy protien in the list of ingredients. Same with the Beef BTB. Always double check the labels though.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Brown ground beef and diced onion over medium heat until onion is translucent and meat is cooked.
  3. Add in worcestershire, bullion, dijon, and onion & garlic powders. Sprinkle tapioca (or other thickener) over the top of the meat (be sure to sprinkle it around so it doesn't end up in a giant clump). Stir in.
  4. Add water and veggies. Adjust amount of water/starch to create desired amount of gravy.
  5. Add meat mixture into a 8x8 square casserole.
  6. Evenly distribute mashed potatoes over the top and smooth with a spoon. Try and seal the top with the potatoes by pressing it firmly to the sides of the casserole.
  7. Sprinkle top with cheese (if desired). I also added a sprinkle of paprika and a splash of worcestershire (my homage to English cheese on toast).
  8. Bake for 30+ minutes until the bottom layer is bubbling.
  9. Pass under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown the top.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cuban Sandwiches

The Cuban sandwiches turned out well.  I've been trying to simplify some of my menu items (less work for me!), and I've seen quite a few other menu planners suggesting stuff like sandwiches.

Cuban sandwiches were the perfect fit this week since I was going to have pork loin already and then Black Forest Ham was on sale at SunHarvest. 

I did have to make my own bread though since as anyone who's tried shopping for commercially made bread without Dairy or Soy in it can tell's not easy to find.  I find that pretty ridiculous considering that many many classic bread recipes don't involve dairy and they most certainly don't involve soy anything.  I used this French Bread Roll recipe.  I substituted AP flour for the bread flour and divided it into 8 large sandwich rolls.  Not quite like true French bread but a very tasty sandwich roll.

I feel a little silly writing a sandwich recipe out, but here goes anyway. 

Cuban Sandwiches (serves 4)
1/4 lb pork loin, thinly sliced
4 slices Black Forest Ham
Pickles (I used bread & butter but dill is cool too)
Dijon mustard
4 sandwich rolls, sliced
cheese (opt)*

* Most Cuban sandwiches I have had involve Swiss cheese.  DH had muenster on his, and I had some goat milk cheddar.  The kids ate theirs w/o cheese.

Spread Dijon on both sides of the sliced roll.  Layer on a few slices of pork loin, a slice or two of ham, several pickles, and top with cheese if desired.  Toast open faced for a few minutes to melt cheese & warm the rest of the contents. 

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