Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan Oct 17th-22

I've been home alone the last two weeks, so I haven't done much cooking. It's no fun cooking for yourself!! I've had lots of wonderful friends invite me over or go out somewhere with me, but the occasional night I've stayed in has consisted of really exciting dinners such as.... toasted english muffin with peanut butter!  Stunning!

This week I'm finally getting back in the swing of things. I am so happy to have my hubby back home. It's been very lonely without him, especially since I could rarely have any communication with him. I don't know how people do it with their husbands gone for months or years at a time. I was going crazy without having him around, and it was only 2.5 weeks!

Ok, on to the menu for this week!

Monday - Lemon-Garlic Chicken with Pasta and Quick & Easy Alfredo Sauce
 --I love this alfredo sauce! It's quick, it uses ingredients I almost always have around the house, and to me, it tastes amazing. It may not be *quite* as good as REAL alfredo sauce, but I love that it is so easy and pretty much fool-proof to throw together! I always add extra garlic... mmmm

Tuesday - Cheese Steak Sandwiches (crockpot)

Wednesday - Gumbo with Chicken & Italian Sausage  (crockpot)
--I looked for a while to find a good gumbo recipe, and kinda pulled several together to create this one. I think it's exactly what I was looking for! dont' forget to add the roux at the end... gives it that something extra special!

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Argentinian Pork Tenderloin  (cooking the pork in the crockpot)

Saturday - leftovers again, or out to dinner with friends!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Sept 25th

Happy Fall!  It's only 3 months till Christmas!!! Just wanted to throw that out there! :)

Here's my plan for the week...

Monday - Almond Stuffed Chicken
- I am really excited about this one! Every time I look at the recipe, I get hungry and want to make it right now!  I really hope it lives up to my expectations!
**Ok, update... this was amazing! And it really wasn't that hard either. The cheese I got for it was Alouette garlic and herb brie cheese - I kinda splurged on that cuz I love brie so much but oh my goodness this was great! and it looked so fancy! Served it with couscous with some italian seasonings.

Tuesday - Pomegranate Beef in the Crockpot
 - however, I plan on substituting honey for the maple syrup, and leaving out the golden raisins and the cinnamon

Wednesday - dinner with friends

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Chicken Curry (crockpot)
 - this is one of my favorites!

Saturday - leftovers - whenever I make chicken curry I always have WAY too much!!

Sunday - Argentinian Pork
 - haven't decided if I'll cook this in the crock pot or on the grill... guess it depends on if we get our propane tank refilled! If cooking in the crockpot - cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the temperature of the pork registers at least 145 degrees.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

This is one of those weeks were I feel like meal planning is HARD! I'm struggling for motivation. I know that when I do plan meals, everything is way way easier throughout the week, but I still have a hard time encouraging myself to do it!

So... here we go...

Monday - Hamburgers on the grill

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday - Crockpot Baked Ziti - going to brown some italian sausage instead of ground beef, and add some chopped spinach or zucchini or whatever veggies I have laying around.

Thursday - Garlic Lime Chicken - serving with black beans and sweet corn

Friday - Jamaican Salmon

Saturday - Leftovers or dinner out!

PS Coffee buttercream frosting is amazing!!! I made some ghiardelli brownie cupcakes last night for a co-worker's birthday and frosted them with coffee flavored buttercream. YUM I am drooling just remembering them.

I still have a bowl full of the coffee frosting in the fridge... what else can I put it on? or should I just give in to my taste buds and have a few spoonfuls by itself? ;)

Have a great week!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - First week of September!

Happy September! This Labor Day weekend has been a fun-filled and relaxing one! I am sad for it to end.

This will be a short menu this week since there has been a lot of cooking out and eating out this weekend and we have a lot of leftovers to use up in the fridge, but here we go...

Monday - cookout

Tuesday - leftovers & homemade blackberry ice cream for dessert!

Wednesday - Peanut butter chicken (crock pot) - we didn't get to this one last week

Thursday - Tequila Pork Tenderloin - with corn on the cob

Friday - leftovers

Saturday - going out for the day with a friend

Wow, I'm only planning to cook twice this week? I feel like a slacker! ;)

Have a great week!


Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream!

I just bought myself an ice cream maker this week. The end of summer seems like an appropriate time for that, doesn't it?? :-P

Well of course I had to try out my new ice cream maker as soon as it came. I ran across a recipe for blackberry ice cream, and remembered that earlier in the summer when blackberries were in season, I pureed a bunch of them to freeze them for later. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to use them!

Here is the recipe I used... It calls for a custard base, then you add in the blackberry juice/syrup. I didn't strain my puree when I made it, and I didn't feel like waiting for it to thaw before making my ice cream, so I just dumped the frozen blackberry yumminess into the custard base.

...and mixed it all together until it thawed...

...which had the additional effect of cooling off the ice cream mixture enough that I could put it in my ice cream maker and start churning!

It only needed about 20-30 mins of churning to look ready to eat!

We had some for sampling, and put the rest in the freezer to harden up and save for later.

Next time though, I probably will take the time to strain the seeds out of the blackberry puree. I didn't mind them being in there too much, but I think I would like it better without them. All in all, this was a VERY yummy recipe :)

I think I'm going to go pull it out of the freezer and have some for breakfast!

Here's my scaled recipe for my 1.5 qt ice cream maker:

Heat half-and-half and sugar in a pan over low heat. Remove from heat when heated through, before mixture starts to boil so the half-and-half doesn't start to curdle.

Beat egg yolks until slightly thick. Slowly pour 1/4 cup of the hot half-and-half mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper them. Then pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan with the rest of the half-and-half mixture.

Cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly (between 5-10 minutes)

Pour heavy cream into a separate bowl. Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve and stir into the heavy cream. Add blackberry puree and stir.

Chill mixture completely. When cool, pour into ice cream maker and churn until frozen (20-40 mins)


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Aug 29th

Well now, how about that hurricane! We got hit pretty hard in our area. At my house, we had a window blow in, and just barely managed to keep the basement from flooding. We actually never lost power, and I am so thankful for that! Turns out we got to help out some family who didn't have power too, so all in all, not too bad of an experience with the hurricane! My thoughts go out to all those who had far worse damage than me!

Anyway, on to my meals for the week...

Monday - Spaghetti and homemade meat sauce, with fresh veggies from the farmers market

Tuesday - Brats with grilled peppers and onions (and maybe some mashed potatoes)

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Steak tacos - I will cook a beef roast in the crockpot all day for this

Friday - Peanut butter chicken (another crock pot one)

Saturday - Leftovers or eat out!

Happy *almost* September!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene's Indian butter chicken!

I have been wanting to try making indian butter chicken (or chicken makhani as I guess it's actually called) for a while now, ever since I had it at the local indian restaurant.

Here's the recipe I used... it turned out really yummy! Although my little makeshift spice packet didn't really hold up too well. I tried to use a coffee filter tied with a piece of thread but it split open at the bottom, so I had to fish out the cardamom pods. It wasn't too difficult, although I may have missed one!

Served this over basmati rice. I forgot to add any salt so I had to add some to my dish when we sat down to eat. It was a tad on the spicy side, so next time I may cut down or leave out the cayenne pepper. Next time I make this, I will also be attempting to make some naan!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Key Lime Meltaways

ok, I don't actually know what a meltaway cookie is.... but apparently I made some. They are nice and lime-y! (and buttery!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Menu plan August 8-12

Menu Plan Monday (on Wednesday!)

Ok, first of all... how did it get to be August?? It's less than 5 months until Christmas! Hope you're getting ready! I still have garland up over my fireplace cuz it's such a pain to take down! Guess at this point I might as well leave it until December... and yes, I do realize how sad that is! LOL!

Lets see, food for the week...

Monday - French Dip sandwiches (Crockpot) - YUM one of my most favorite meals EVER!
I make a few tweaks to the recipe that's linked - usually only make half the amount it calls for unless we're having company, and the seasonings I use are as follows: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup beef broth, 2 cups water, ~3 cloves garlic, 1.5 tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 t dried thyme, 1 t dried onion flakes, & approx 2 bay leaves. Double this juice & seasonings if you're making the full recipe amount.

Tuesday - leftovers

Wednesday - Home made pizza

Thursday - Indian Butter Chicken (Crockpot) - this one is an experiment! I am excited!

Friday - leftovers again...

Saturday - Ziti with Sausage and Zucchini (also found this recipe - I may end up combining the two...)

Homemade pizza sauce

Tonight is going to be homemade pizza for dinner! I like making my own dough, but this time I bought a ball of pizza dough from the store cuz it was barely $1 and that saves me the effort of making it! I had the dough in the freezer, so last night I pulled it out and stuck it in the fridge to thaw. This morning it seemed like it was already pretty much thawed, hooray! (I always worry about things not thawing enough in time.)

Pizza sauce is a big deal to me. It'll pretty much make or break a pizza for me. Especially using store bought dough that's probably very basic and not super flavorful. The last several times I made pizza, I used this basic pizza sauce recipe from food network, and I really liked it. Last time I made it though, I had to make a few tweaks because it calls for oregano and I had just run out and forgot to buy more. So I substituted half and half italian seasoning and thyme, and loved how it turned out! I'm trying my tweaked version again tonight (on purpose this time, haha!) and if I really like my re-creation, it just might be my new standard! So here goes:


  • 1 can (28-ounces) tomatoes (whole, diced, or crushed, depending on how chunky you want your sauce)

  • 1 small white onion, finely diced

  • 1-2 cloves garlic (I like garlic)

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried italian seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional - I like my sauce a little sweet)

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 T olive oil

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Saute onions for a couple minutes, mince garlic and add to onions. Saute for another minute. Add tomatoes and other spices. Mix well, and cover. Simmer at least 15 minutes until flavors are well blended, stirring often.

Makes about 3 cups of sauce... enough for 2-4 pizzas depending on how big & how saucy you like them! Spread sauce on dough, add your favorite toppings (and lots of cheese!), bake, and enjoy! I will probably bake the dough for a couple minutes before loading up the toppings. Makes it much easier to get it in and out of the oven, at least in my kitchen!

Yum! I am drooling in anticipation! How long until dinner??

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bread on the grill

Yes, I totally made bread on my grill. Should have cooked it a little longer, I guess it was a little thicker than the example I followed, but still... I was excited! And *bonus* I didn't have to turn my oven on! Next time I will know better, and yes there will be a next time, cuz it was actually pretty simple! (Although it did take me two attempts to make my baguette shape... I should have taken a picture of the first complete flop! Stuck that hunk dough back in the bucket to try again next time)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Last minute summer veggie ideas

Today is one of those days when I am running out of time to figure out what's for dinner, and all the meat we have is still in the freezer. (Those days happen a lot in my house!)

I have a bunch of veggies we picked up at the farmer's market this weekend so here's what I'm thinking...

Indian Summer Vegetable Stew
I don't have any eggplant so I will just leave that out and add some extra zucchini in it's place. Or perhaps just leave it out and halve all the spices and such. I think I already have the rest of the ingredients at the house. I will probably also leave out the cilantro, since I don't think I have any growing any longer.

Also...might save these for another day if the above idea works but if we need something more...
I saw this recipe for Zucchini-Riccotta fritters in a magazine yesterday but I don't think we have any ricotta cheese, and I wasn't planning on going to the store. So here's my plan B:

Zucchini fritters - I will probably add some corn kernels as well as the zucchini, since I had an extra cob of corn that was cooked yesterday.

Neither one of these should take too long, other than the chopping of the veggies.

Wish me luck! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 25th thru 30th

Well this is all I got so I might as well go ahead and post it!

Monday & Tuesday - hubby's got stuff going on and I need to finish up some leftovers

Wednesday - Black Bean and Veggie Quesadillas

Thursday - dinner at a friend's & making brownies :)

Friday - Indian Butter Chicken (Crock pot)
---except I can't find any garam masala so I guess we'll see if this actually happens!

Saturday - French Dip Beef Sandwiches au jus (Crock pot)
AND I might even be ambitious and make my own french bread rolls! HAH we will see :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

5 ingredient recipes! - Chicken in Garlic Lime Sauce

Another Vocalpoint recipe that I am planning on trying...

Chicken in Garlic Lime Sauce
This is an easy weeknight dish that can be marinated the night before and baked for a nutritious and tasty meal. You can also use the marinade with tofu or tempeh if you’d like a vegetarian option.

Serves 4

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 4 chicken breasts)
1 fresh lime, zest and juice
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1. Marinate the chicken thighs in a plastic freezer bag with half of the lime zest and juice, and half of the garlic for 2 to 4 hours. If you need more liquid to cover the chicken, add ½ cup of water.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and add the chicken stock, cornstarch, the rest of the lime zest and juice, and garlic. Whisk vigorously until smooth.

3. Heat the saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a boil, stirring frequently. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with a nonstick spray and arrange the chicken pieces, then pour the sauce over the chicken thighs.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Spoon the sauce over the chicken when serving. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

5 ingredient recipe! - Italian Quesadillas

Found this recipe at Vocalpoint and thought it sounded worth trying!

Italian Quesadillas

Change up your regular quesadillas with some Mediterranean flavors. Eggplant can be substituted for the pancetta or pepperoni for a vegetarian version. Lightly salt sliced rounds of eggplant, let stand for a few minutes, then pat off the moisture and salt with a paper towel.

Serves 4

8 large soft tortilla wraps
12 slices provolone cheese
12 thin slices pancetta, pepperoni, or thinly-sliced eggplant rounds
2 tomatoes, finely diced
2 tsp dried basil (or 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil)

1. Assemble each of the filler ingredients above on four tortilla shells, using 1/4 of each ingredient per tortilla. Gently press a second tortilla on top of the ingredients.

2. Heat a large dry skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully transfer one quesadilla at a time to the skillet and press down firmly with the back of a spatula. When cheese begins to melt and the bottom browns, gently flip the quesadilla to brown the other side. Remove from skillet and prepare the rest of the quesadillas the same way.

3. Cut quesadillas into six pieces and serve with sour cream or marinara sauce.

Nutritional info per serving: 762 calories, 37.2 g fat, 42.5 g carbohydrates, 55.6 g protein, 1.6 g sodium, 74.8% daily value of calcium.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Irish Stew!

Let me start this off by saying I am not Irish, and I don't really think I know any one who is, either. But I really wanted to figure out an Irish Stew that I could enjoy. So here it is...

It's based of of this one here from AllRecipes, and I read through a bunch of the reviews and made modifications from the suggestions of people who reviewed it.

Beef and Irish Stout Stew

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Hours
Ready In: 8 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 6

1-2 pounds beef roast
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 large onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
6 oz tomato paste
1 t celery salt
1/2 t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 t paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 T Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups Irish stout beer (such as
2 cups chopped carrot (optional)
3 cups beef broth

Add everything to the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Serve with Irish Soda Bread.

Menu Plan Monday March 7th

Monday - hubby has class tonight so we'll be eating at seperate times ... have to see what leftovers we have in the fridge.

Tuesday - HMO (Hamburger and Macaroni)

Wednesday - Spaghetti (and amazing delicious chocolate cake for my mom's bday!)

Thursday - Irish Stew in the crock pot

Friday - Homemade pizza! (w/ homemade dough and sauce)

Saturday - Lasagne with family :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Starting my garden!

It's just about that time! We're starting to have at least a couple days a week that feel like spring, so I am ready to start thinking about my garden for this year! It got hot here so early last year, so this time around I want to try to get an early start on some cold weather crops this year.

I had a bag of seed starter material from last year so I decided to try making my own seed pots from old newspaper. I figured I'd make some smallish ones, so I ended up using a toilet paper roll to make them.
I cut strips of newspaper about twice as tall as I wanted the pots and rolled them up around the toilet paper roll. Any jar or glass with an opening at the one end would work great.

Leave some newspaper hanging off the end. It then gets tucked into the end of the tube to form the bottom of the seed pot.

Then pull the toilet paper roll or jar out, and Voila! it's all ready to add dirt and seeds!
I'm just doing a few early season seeds right now to see how it goes. I don't want to lose too much if I'm wrong and we have another long frozen spell.

I filled them almost all the way to the top with the seed starter mix.

Misted them to get them good and moist. Actually I ended up putting just a little water in the bottom of the tub to let it soak up into the pots too.
Poked a little hole in each pot with a chopstick to make a spot for my seeds.

Don't forget to write on the pots while they're still dry or make some kind of label or chart so you know what you planted where!

Thursday, February 24, 2011 fun being sick

Ugh, so the dreaded flu finally caught up with me this year. I've managed to avoid it for several years but couldn't avoid it any longer apparently. Never got around to making a meal plan this week, and haven't felt up to eating anything other than pretzels and a plain english muffin until today! Thankfully I made a big batch of chili on Monday so my hubby hasn't been going too hungry with me out of commission :)

Anyways, looking for ideas now for the rest of the week. Still feeling a little on the cautious side, so I'm not planning anything too crazy. I'd be happy with plain pasta lol!

Tonight (Thursday) I'm thinking some kind of mac n cheese... maybe this one?

Friday, I think I will try this Easy Garlic Broiled Chicken

Saturday maybe I will feel more like eating and we'll have Irish Stew!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Caramel Mocha Cupcakes


We had a "cupcake wars" valentine's day event at work. I was inspired by these Caramel Caffe Mocha Cupcakes so I tried to recreate them.

I love these Rose liners I found at Joann's!

They're just basic chocolate cupcakes with a caramel candy pushed into the middle... I used rolos, but I should have used more than one because the cupcakes ended up so large, they candy sorta got lost.

But I thought the cupcakes themselves turned out very lovely!

Topped with a dark chocolate ganache... mmmmm

And then a coffee butter cream frosting. (and some chocolate shavings to spruce them up a bit)
Notice the one with the white frosting... I promised my hubby I would make him one without the coffee :) however, I think the coffee frosting might have been the best part!

but here it is with a few very minor tweaks that I made...

Caramel Caffe' Mocha Cupcakes
dark chocolate cake mix
chocolate instant pudding mix (small box - 3 oz?)
oil (or butter)
rolos (if cupcakes are large, use two per cupcake)

Preheat oven to 350. Put cute liners in cupcake pan. Make the cake mix according to the directions on the back of the box, but (optionally) use milk instead of water and use melted butter instead of oil, and add a box of instant pudding mix. Fill liners halfway with cake batter. Press a rolo into the middle, but don't push it all the way in. Cover the top of the rolo with some more batter. Bake for 22 minutes. Cool completely. Spoon on some chocolate ganache. Let set and frost with coffee butter cream.

Chocolate Ganache
1 c. dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. whipping cream
Boil whipping cream. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Let cool.

Coffee Butter Cream

1 c. butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. warm water
2 tsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
4 c. powdered sugar
Put warm water in small dish. Spoon in the instant coffee and let dissolve. Set aside. Cream butter. Add coffee water, vanilla and salt and cream again. Slowly add your powdered sugar, beating after each addition. If it is thick, add just a touch more water.

Enjoy!! :)

oh and here is a glimpse of the cupcake tower with everyone's creations piling up! Good turnout for a bake sale/contest!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Week!

Gotta get back on track! I basically took last week off from making dinners since my hubby was out of town the whole week on a business trip. Now that he's back home, it's time to get on the ball again!

Monday - Valentine's day... Steaks & baked potatoes with the works!

Tuesday - dinner with friends - don't need to plan anything

Wednesday - Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

Thursday - leftovers

Also, we are having a Cupcake War at work on Monday for Valentine's day... I am thinking I will make Caramel Mocha cupcakes, so you might get to see that mess as well :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It snowed!

If you can even count this 1/4 inch as snow, LOL! But something about the overcast sky with the blue at the horizon was just really pretty!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

almost February...

Still missed making one of the meals last week since we ended up getting pizza with my brother and sister-in-law wednesday instead of just eating leftovers, so one meal has to move to this week...

Here's this week's plan:

Monday - Moroccan Stew (crockpot)

Tuesday - leftovers

Wednesday - lime grilled chicken... have a packet of this seasoning mix to use... will probably make some rice to go with it.

Friday - leftovers

Saturday, January 22, 2011

change of strategy...

So... I've been picking out 5 meals for each week, figuring that if I skip a day during the week to eat leftovers, then we'll push everything a day later and have saturday and/or sunday already covered. But what I've been finding is we still have way too many leftovers, because it's just me and my hubby, and even when we take leftovers for lunches and eat them for dinner a day or two, we still have some left, and I hate seeing yummy food go bad!

So for a couple weeks, I'm only going to pick out 4 meals, and see how that goes.

Here's my plan for the week...

Tuesday - chimichangas (cook the meat in the crockpot)

Wednesday - leftovers

Thursday - minestrone (gonna cook this in the crockpot - probably will add chicken or mild italian sausage)

Friday - Moroccan Stew (another crockpot - one of my favorites!!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Catchup week

got a couple meals I didn't have a chance to get to over the last few weeks, so here's the plan...

Monday - Souvlaki from last week

Wednesday - Chicken Cheez-it

Friday - corn chowder

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jan 9-15 Meals

Monday - Buffalo chicken pasta
Tuesday - Chicken Souvlaki (cooked in the crockpot) with tzatziki sauce
Wednesday - Italian seasoned roast (crockpot)
Friday - Baked chicken with feta from last week

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

I've never been one for New Years Resolutions... maybe because I know for a fact that I won't keep them up, so why even pretend? :)

If I did make resolutions, though, one of them would be to really get good at making meal planning a habit!

So lets start the year off right... Here's my plan for the week:

Monday - Spaghetti w/ homemade sauce (my favorite!)

Tuesday - Black Bean Soup (this is a test - never tried this recipe before so we will see how it goes) this came out pretty well. I used 2 cans of black beans, pureed one of them, added 2 chicken breasts, and cooked it all in the crockpot on low all day. I will save the recipe, cuz it was good, but I am also planning on trying other recipes.

Wednesday - Oatmeal-crusted chicken tenders

Thursday - Steaks mmmm these were super good!

Friday - Baked Chicken in Tomato Feta Sauce