Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 5-One FLU Over the Cookoo's nest

That is what my life has been this past week. NUTS topped off with a healthy dose of manflu. Needless to say, blogging was not a priority in the many grocery store/medicine runs. Towards the end of the week I was doing good to have the energy to Lysol down the house and throw together a salad!

After a weekend of disinfecting and trying to get back to normal I think we have conquered the Flu and so far no signs of me getting sick. whoohhoooo So hopefully this week amidst all the appointments and preperations I have for my upcoming Babyshower and final Ultrasound etc. I can blog my backlog of recipes and add in a few more!

Let's begin with a quick look at a few standout National Foodie Holidays this week:
Sunday 30th: National Croissant Day (since its French shouldn't that be International?)
Wednesday 2nd: Heavenly Hash Day
Thursday 3rd: Carrot Cake Day (I'm totally going to try and take advantage of that one and a big bag of carrots in my fridge!)
Friday: Homemade Soup Day (Leaning towards my Cabbage Soup)
Saturday: Chocolate Fondue Day

For my Menu this week:
Sunday: Subway (it was a necessity, what can I say)

Monday: Green Onion Parmesan Mornay Sauce over Angel Hair Pasta served with Garlic Roasted Chicken and Salad

Tuesday: Lasagna

Wednesday: Ranch baked chicken and Black Bean and Avocado Salad

Thursday: Meatloaf, Greenbean Casserole and Macaroni and Cheese

Friday: Cabbage Soup (and Polish Sausage for Steve)

Saturday: Baked French Toast

Sunday (since its superbowl): Taco Dip, chicken Tender Sandwiches, Scones

Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 Week 4- Lesson in Budgeting

This past week was a very busy week as I knew it would be which is why I had the simple menu plan. I do have three recipes to post but I’m back logged due to limited computer time. I’ll get to them promise.

This week, I was inspired by helping a friend out with her budgeting and menu planning by doing an inventory of what’s on hand and planning around that to limit grocery expenditures. It was fun and something everyone should do periodically. This time of year, it’s typical to feel the need to clean out the stores of food as you prepare for Spring fever and want to get all the heavy holiday leftovers out.

It won’t be long before I’m preparing frozen meals to get us through the first few weeks of being new parents without requiring great effort from me in the kitchen as I just don’t know how well I will recover from the birth. So in order to make room, I need to clean out my freezer anyway. I was surprised at what all I had in there and will be eating out of it with limited purchasing for at least two weeks. This week I’m focusing on getting some of the main ingredients and bags of soups out. This helped reduce my budget since we went a little splurge happy on décor for the nursery anyway. Next week I will focus on supplementing main dishes with sides from the freezer as I have quite a bit of fruits and veggies frozen. I may do some baking too so you can look forward to that. Orange and blueberry scones anyone?

National Foodie Holidays This Week:
National Meat Week as well as National Irish Coffee Week

Sunday: Rhubarb Pie day
Monday: Peanut Butter Day
Tuesday: Irish Coffee Day
Wednesday: Pistachio Day
Thursday: Chocolate Cake Day
Friday: Blueberry Pancake Day
Saturday: Corn Chip Day

Beef Stroganoff with a side salad (Uses sour cream, leftover diced tomatoes and salad fixings from Fridge, Egg noodles from pantry, Green Peas from Freezer)

Chicken Mozzarella Skillet (Uses Boneless Skinless chicken from freezer, Rice from Pantry)

Spaghetti (Uses hamburger from freezer, cheese from fridge, noodles from pantry)

Chicken Soup (uses chicken Quarters from the freezer)

Leftovers (as these dishes all make a LOT)

Chili/Bean stuffed baked Potatoes (Uses leftover chili and Bean soup to top fresh baked potatoes)

Purchased ($40.00):
Can of Cream of chicken Soup
1 Bag of Mozzarella
1 Bag of Frozen Broccoli
1 lb beef stew meat
1 lb Macaroni Noodles
And odd and ends like apples, milk, soft drinks etc.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week 3 Menu Plans

This week, I'm feeling run down. Pregnancy will do that I hear, and this one is no exception. My son is wound up kicking me at night, keeping me up and then he sleeps during the day while I'm struggling to stay awake at my desk. Since we are also working on painting the nursery, re-organizing etc. I've decided to stick to some tried and true recipes that are easy to fix, provide plenty of leftovers for lunch and do not keep me in the kitchen for long periods of time.

Unfortunately, that means I will only have one or two new recipes to post this week but I do have links to the a few of the others if you haven't seen them before! (See, I'm nice like that.)

So enjoy this third week of the year as you are settling into routines, changing what hasn't worked and even slipping from those New Year's resolutions already. Yea, I know how that goes. ;)

National Foodie Holidays This week:
Sunday 16th: National Fig Newton Day and INTERNATIONAL Hot and Spicy Day
Monday 17th: Hot Buttered Rum Day
Tuesday 18th: Peking Duck Day
Wednesday 19th: National Popcorn Day
Thursday 20th: National Buttercrunch Day and National Cheese Lover's Day
Friday 21th: New England Clam Chowder Day
Saturday 22nd: Blonde Brownie Day

Sunday: Turkey Bacon, SW Omelettes and Grits Casserole

Monday: Grilled steaks, Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing, Baked Potatoes

Tuesday: Momma's Chicken and Dumplins

Wednesday: Momma's Southern Goulash

Thursday: Baked Chicken Nacho's (recipe coming soon)

Friday: Baked French Toast with Homemade Apple Butter

Saturday: Quesidilla's

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week 2 Round Up

Already another week has passed in this New Year. I did really good about sticking to the menu plan this week, which was aided by having a fairly simple menu that didn't take that long on any particular night.

Sunday: Healthy Shepherd's Pie

Monday: Homemade Pizza

Tuesday: Chicken Mozzerella Skillet (Kraft Family Recipes) with Spinach Salad

Wednesday: Steak, Baked Potatoes, Salad

Thursday: Spinach and Chicken Calzones

Friday: Subway

Saturday: Panera Bread

So we ate out a little more than we wanted to but sometimes its a necessary evil. Especially when it involved completely cleaning out my pantry and mouse hunting.

The good news is I did get a chance to do some catch up with Apple Butter (12 pints!)and Shortbread Cookies (which go great together by the way).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mozzerella Chicken Skillet

Since I quit eating boxed and processed foods, this recipe has become my replacement for those deliciously handy but oh so bad for you Hamburger Helper meals. One pan, One pound goodness on a tired night? yea, I dug it. Now I have this recipe though and as many times as I've made it, I've never blogged about it. Which is unbelievable as I blog about everything!

Definately a go to meal to add to your weekday repertoire.

Mozzarella Chicken and Rice Skillet
slightly adapted from

1 tbs olive oil
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 soup can of milk
2 1/2 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups Minute Rice uncooked
1 cup shredded Mozzerella
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Place chicken breasts in pan, cover and cook about 8 minutes per side. Remove lid and cook an additional 1-2 minutes per side to get a nice crisp brown outside. (check to make sure chicken is cooked through especially if using large breasts).

Remove from skillet. Add soup to skillet and then fill the soup can with milk and add that to skillet. Whisk until blended. Stir in Rice and broccoli and add chicken back on top. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 5-7 minutes until rice is tender. Season with Salt and Pepper. Add mozzerella and cover. Turn heat off and let set for 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve hot

Apple Butter

There is nothing more delightful than having a pantry stocked with homemade preserves and canned goods. The fall is the busiest time of the year for putting up the harvest but occasionally we get lucky and run across a chance to catch up. This past fall, I was fighting morning sickness so I did not get to do a batch of apple butter like I wanted. My Dad ran across a guy from West Virginia that still had bushel boxes of apples in his cold storage on his farm though, and for Christmas got me a box.

Since I did not have a chance to do the Apple Butter over my Holiday break, I decided to tackle that yesterday during the snow day as well. I am so glad I did. I now have 12 pints of beautiful light brown apple butter on my counter with their shining silver tops as well as a quart jar in the refridgerator that Stephen and I have already started working on! I am enjoying some with shortbread cookies and coffee at this very moment.

How perfect of a morning can you get? Sun is shining, ice is glittering, a tempting treat, hot coffee, hair in rollers...oh yea. That means i have to go to work in a few. Okay, so semi perfect morning!

Apple Butter
Lots of apples, peeled, cored and cooked in 1 part water to 2 parts apples (fill the pot with apples and fill with water halfway) until mushy. Strain through a small wire strainer reducing water as much as possible. Whirl apple puree in a blender or food processor (my new NINJA worked great for this) until a nice babyfood consistency. Return to stock pot and for every 8 cups add:

1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Bring to a high simmer over medium heat (lightly bubbly) and cook for about 10 minutes stirring often to prevent cooking to much on the bottom. Pour into hot sterilized canning jars. Wipe rims, place on lids. Place jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Then flip them upside down on a clean towel to cool. when jars are still hot but you are able to pick them up, flip them over. As they cool further the lids will seal (you will hear the pop).

Perfectly canned Apple Butter. (Just add the white sugar and you can do applesauce the same way).

Shortbread Cookies

Even though I missed National Shortbread Day last week, I still had plans to make these cookies and wanted to try them. I am determined that even if I miss the actual day, I'm still going to go forward with the plans. It's called Follow Through and this is like any other project I've undertaken!

With it being cold and icy yesterday, I decided a snow day home from work was the perfect time to get get caught up on the blog and on recipes. (Now if only I could have one of those days every week! Hear that? 4 day work week people, get on board!)

These cookies are deceptively simple but need a little finessing. (at least the way I did it). They are also more like like biscuits than a cookie but that's probably due to the European origination. We Americans, have distorted the lines between biscuits, tea biscuits, cookies, etc. What we think of as traditional probably isn't so traditional in the grand scheme of things.

As I type this I'm enjoying these little cookies dipped in homemade Applebutter (that I also made yesterday) with a hot cup of Breakfast Blend Coffee. It is a lovely little morning treat to get my juices flowing, I must admit.

Shortbread Cookies
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs butter, softened but not melted
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tbs cold water

Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add flour and slowly mix until crumbly. Add water and twirl a few times just to mix in. Pour crumbly mixture onto floured surface and work into a ball. It will just barely stick together. You can roll out to cut for shapes or pinch off 1 inch balls and press out with your hands for simple round cookies like I did.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick Homemade Pizza

To celebrate National Pizza Week, I decided to treat us to a quick dinner. A simple homemade pizza. My husband accuses me of being obsessed with cheese. (I seriously am). So I had to control my urge to really cover this thing in too much cheese as my homemade pizza's tend to be TOO cheesy. I finally made a homemade pizza meeting his approval.
Quick Homemade Pizza
Marinara Sauce Recipe1 small can of Tomato Paste

Meat topping of your choice:
Hamburger: browned and chopped

Toppings:1 cup Mozzerella
1 cup Colby Jack
1/4 cup Shredded Parm, Asiago, Blend

Black Olives
Sliced Red onion

1 Pillsbury Roll Out Pizza Crust

Directions:Lay out/prepare all of your topping choices. Make the marinara Sauce recipe while your brown your meat. Take Half of the Marinara Sauce and add it to a food processor (or blender) along with the can of tomato paste. Blend until smooth and thick.

Roll out your crust to desired thickness on a lightly greased cookie sheet or stone. Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce over (more or less if desired) crust. Add meat topping followed by cheeses. Lastly, top with veggie toppings of your choice. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is browned and risen.

Serve hot!

Turkey Shepherd's Pie

My husband has been asking me to try a Shepherd's Pie. Neither of us have had this particular concoction to my knowledge though I have no idea why. Just not something either of our families made. I caught an episode of Ellie Krieger on the Cooking Channel and she happened to be making a Healthy version of the Shepherd's Pie. I thought to myself (imagine a quizzical look and a thought bubble here) "Self, that's an easy recipe, and healthy to boot. I could do that!" So here we go. I changed it up even more from Ellie as I wanted to use my thawed ground turkey. It's not bad with the turkey but the onion overpowers the turkey so I think they red meats may have been a better option unless you cut the onion down.
(Possibly the worst picture I've ever posted but i was trying to show the inside and got in a hurry)

Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Inspired by Ellie Kriegar

Ingredients:1.5 lbs ground turkey
3 tsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped (if you use turkey, I recommend changing this to 1)
3 medium carrots, diced
2 tbs flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 1/2 lbs red potatoes (peeled)
2/3 cup milk
2 tbs butter

Directions:Dice potatoes and steam them until soft. Brown meat in olive oil and set aside. Add onions and carrots to same pan (possibly need a little more olive oil) for about 8 minutes. Return meat to pan. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in broth, salt, pepper and simmer. Stir in peas.

Place in large baking dish.

Mash potatoes and stir in milk and butter while hot. Salt and Pepper to taste. Spread potatoes over Meat mixture. bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Brioche Loaf

For a rich buttery bread to compliment Bean and Veggie Sliders, I decided to try a Brioche Loaf. The bread came out well, the sliders, not so much. Another great recipe for National Bread Machine Baking Month!

Brioche Bread
The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook

1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk

2 cups bread flour
2 tbs sugar
Optional: 2 tsps gluten for a lighter fluffier texture
3/4 tsp salt

1 3/4 tsp bread machine yeast

7 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Add in order according to your machines instructions: w/d/y except for butter. Set crust to medium, basic cycle, 1.5 loaf size. Start.

About 10 minutes into the 2nd Knead cycle, slowly add in pieces of butter until they are all incorporated. Close lid and let machine finish. Open lid after machine is done. 15 minutes after bread has rested, remove and cool on a wire rack.

Week 2-Menu

After last week's failure to complete the menu, I am pleased that this week has fewer National Foodie Days that I am compelled to attempt. I may even catch up on recipes to try from last week.

I did try to simplify the menu a tad this week as I overestimated my time to not only be able to cook the menu but then have time to blog about it daily. Hopefully this week will prove a little less stressful in that area, a little more organized and I won't have to wish for a snow day to catch up with!

National Foodie Week: PIZZA WEEK!

National Foodie Holidays:
Sunday: apricot day
Monday: Bittersweet Chocolate Day
Tuesday: Milk Day!
Saturday: Strawberry Icecream Day (WTF, it's the middle of winter people!)

Sunday: Healthy Shepherd's Pie

Monday: Homemade Pizza

Tuesday: Chicken Mozzerella Skillet (Kraft Family Recipes) with Spinach Salad

Wednesday: Steak, Baked Potatoes, Salad

Thursday: Spinach and Chicken Calzones

Friday: Leftovers or Eat Out

I have not planned all the way through as I need to clean out the freezer of leftovers etc. So I'm leaving one or two options open. The weekends tend to be the time when we blow the menu the most because we are out running errands or working on projects and are too tired to cook. So this week I'm going to play that portion by ear.

I also left plenty of room open to catch up on recipe posting, try some new things for the Foodie Holidays I missed. So I hope, you are getting into the New year with pizzazz, your routines are taking shape and you are sticking to those New year's Resolutions! Bon Apetit!

Week 1 Round-up

So my first excruciatingly detailed Menu post linked with Recipes fell a little short of my actual desire to keep up. I had curve balls galore which I handled well but my motivation for actually posting about the recipes wained halfway through the week with the wrenches thrown into the gears of efficiency.

In short, due to unforeseen circumstances, my plan was not executed very well. LOL

Wednesday, my Dr's appointment ran for over 2 hours due to an emergency the Dr. was called in for. Since we were slam out of dog food that required a pitstop and it was literally too late for me to cook what was on the plan. So a pitstop ensued. No biggie right? Saturday, my in-laws visited and took us out to Panera for dinner so another day down.

So let's review:
Monday: Mustard Parmesan Chicken with an Avocado and Black Bean Salad (both recipes courtesy of Paula Deen. I personally enjoyed this meal greatly. My husband was not a big fan of the chicken but enjoyed the salad.

Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Bread (Courtesy of the current issue of Martha Stewart Living)We both enjoyed this recipe but wasted a lot of leftovers as it made quite a bit and we got tired of it. Would not have frozen well in my opinion as the breading on the chicken gets denatured.

Wednesday: Parmigiana Sliders on fresh Brioche bread (Courtesy of the current issue of Martha Stewart Living and the Breadlover’s BreadMachine Cookbook). We ended up making this on Thursday and I enjoyed the sandwiches served on dinner rolls (I didn't have a chance to make the Brioche until the weekend). Stephen thought the meatballs were a tad bland.

Thursday: Bean Sliders (Courtesy of the current issue of Martha Stewart Living) and Shortbread Cookies dipped in Chocolate. This was a complete disaster. The bean patties completely melted apart when frying them and I ended up with a giant bean paste in the frying pan. Disgusting. I froze the rest of the beans and may try it again later but I'm not even posting the recipe, it was that much of a failure. Shortbread cookies did not get made.

Friday: Tomato Macaroni and Cheese (Courtesy of Paula Deen) with Turkey Meatloaf Neither of us liked this recipe, which is really surprising as we have never not liked a Paula Deen recipe before. Due to using all cheddar, it came out oily. The flavor wasn't too bad but the texture killed it. Stephen hated the tomatoes on top.

Saturday: Chicken Salad Panini with Cole Slaw and English Toffee. Neither of these items got made due to In-laws visiting.

So following the National Foodie days for main meals, not too bad. Following all the little desserts? Not my best idea as that is the first thing to get put off when my time gets crunched. Maybe I will improve as the weeks go by!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Meatball Parmigiana Sliders

The last recipe to finish out my Martha Stewart Living parmigiana bonanza, I decided to give us a break from all the chicken and “beef up” the menu with these adorable sliders. This may become one of my go to party favors for things like the Super Bowl and “man parties.” How can any guy not get on board with dainty sandwiches when they involve meatballs and red sauce? Seriously.

I expect pinkie fingers to fly out at a moments notice if for nothing else, then to wipe the drool from their mustaches. (Okay, my imagination may be running away with me a little bit, but if you see in your head what I see, you would be grinning from ear to ear.)

Meatball Parmigiana Sliders

2 slices sandwich bread, torn into 1 inch pieces
½ cp whole milk
2 pounds ground beef
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp chopped/minced garlic
1 large egg
Salt and Pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped

Marinara Sauce
1-2 dozen Brioche or dinner Rolls (depending on if you want to freeze half for later or make all for a party now)
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan

Soak bread in milk for 5 minutes. Gently add in the rest of the meatball ingredients: beef, parmesan, garlic, egg, salt, pepper and onion. Refridgerate for 30 minutes.

Roll mixture into 24 1 ounce balls (golf ball). Place in simmering marinara sauce over medium heat. Cook partially covered for 20-25 minutes until meatballs are cooked through.

Preheat oven to 400. Arrange rolls, cut side up on a baking sheet. Place 1 meatball, 1 spoonfull of sauce, 1 tbs mozzarella and 1 tsp Parmesan on each roll. Bake until cheese melts (about 3 minutes).

Since there are just 2 of us, I choose to freeze half the sauce and meatballs for a later meal (served over spaghetti, sliders, etc.) but you could easily half this recipe or make it all at once for a party.

MSL Chicken Parmigiana

Coincidentally, it was about this time, last year, when I posted a Chicken Parmiagiana recipe. While they vary a little bit, I think its always important to change things up, revisit, improve, expand. Cooking is like working with horses. You can never learn all there is to know, or know too much. There is always something to improve on.

Yesterday was National Spaghetti day, and so what better dish to serve in the winter, on National Spaghetti Day than Chicken Parmigiana with spaghetti. (According to MSL, serving parmigiana with noodles is an American tradition anyway, so I will argue you can’t get more appropriate!)

I followed the recipe petty closely with only slight variations, but you will find the recipe in its whole in the link. Below is how I did it.

Chicken Parmigiana

2 cups plain breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan
2/3 cup flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 package (8-10) Boneless, skinless chicken tenders
¼ cup vegetable oil

Marinara Sauce
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded Jack cheese (or Mozzarella)
¼ cup grated Parm
1 lb spaghetti noodles (small box)

While Marinara Sauce Simmers, boil noodles and heat oil in sauté pan.

Mix breadcrumbs, flour, ½ cup Parm in a shallow dish or pie plate. Beat eggs in a separate shallow dish or pie plate. Dip Chicken first in egg, then in breadcrumb mixture, then repeat before placing in hot oil. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until crispy and dark golden brown. Drain on plate lined with paper towels.

In a 9 x 13 baking dish, add 1 cup marinara sauce, top with Chicken tenders followed by another 1 ½ cups of marinara Sauce. Top with Cheeses. Cover with tinfoil. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes.

Drain pasta and add noodles to remaining Marinara, tossing gently. Serve Chicken Parmigiana over pasta.

Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce
Inspired by Martha Stewart Living

A good Marinara Sauce is a standard basic that everyone with a kitchen needs in their repertoire. As much as you may like your recipe, it never hurts to try someone else’s. Most of them, are pretty similar with maybe quanitites or an extra herb etc. My marinara is the most basic you can get since I stay away from dried herbs and peppers (you wouldn’t believe how mildewy/moldy those things can be from the way they are processed to the pepper cores etc.)

In the January issue of MSL, there is a whole section on Parmigiana with several recipes starting with their basic marinara sauce. I decided this was a great idea to try. So without further ado, I give you my take on MSL Recipes with some annotations for those that don’t have the pesky allergies I do.

MSL Marinara Sauce
3 tbs vegetable or olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 tsps chopped garlic
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 14 oz cans of whole tomatoes, pureed in food processor
Salt and pepper
(MSL uses ½ tsp crushed red-pepper flakes, ¼ cup fresh torn basil leaves, and 1 tbs fresh oregano as well. I enjoyed it without these additives though I’m sure its scrumptious with them).

Heat oil over medium heat in stock pot. Cook onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 25 minutes or until it thickens up some. (If you choose, add in herbs at the end).

MSL Notes: Sauce can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mustard Parmesan Chicken

This is one of those recipes that I decided to try after watching a Paula Deen episode. I love Paula Deen. Seriously. Brazen, tell it like it is in your Southern Grandma’s voice. LOVE HER. I took loose inspiration from her Oven Fried Chicken recipe to create this simple delightful creation. I enjoyed the juicy lightly flavored taste but my husband was not a fan.

Mustard Parmesan Chicken

2 cups Flour
1 cup Grated Parmesan
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper
¼ Mustard
2 Chicken breasts pounded ¼” thick (wrap in Saran Wrap to reduce mess)

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Combine flour, cheese, salt and pepper in a pie plate or shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish combine mustard, oil, salt and pepper and whisk.

Coat chicken in mustard mix then dredge in flour mixture coating everything well. Bake for 30-40 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Serve Hot.

Black Bean and Avocado Salad

Another recipe inspired by Paula Deen. (I think it was the same episode as the Oven Fried Chicken). I used the basic ingredients but changed up the dressing. An excellent salad: hearty, filling and fresh.

Black Bean and Avocado Salad

2 cups Chopped Romaine
1 Avocado (peeled and sliced)
Juice of One Lemon
1 cup Corn Kernels (drained)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes
Salt and Pepper

Mix all the vegetable ingredients in a large bowl. Top with juice of lemon, salt and pepper. I served with my Homemade Ranch Dressing drizzled over it. My husband was actually a fan of this salad (which is probably a good thing since he didn’t eat much of the chicken I served with it. LOL)

Sour Cream Bread

The first casual bread recipe I tried out in the Bread machine for National Bread Machine Baking month, this will fast become a favorite. Not as strong as sour dough, but a nice flavor on a dense white bread. Perfect for garlic breads and sandwiches.

Sour Cream Bread
The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook

As always follow your particular bread machines instructions when adding the order of the ingredients:
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs water
1 cup sour cream

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tbs light brown sugar
Optional: 2 tsp gluten for a lighter texture
1 1/4 tsp bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in and program to Medium crust, Basic cycle, 1.5 loaf and press Start.

Remove immediately when baking ends and cool on a rack before slicing.

January Week One

Last year, I tried to keep up with Menu Monday posts but towards the end of the year, I noticed that they were just space fillers. Yes, I continued to PLAN my meals for the week and post them, but I was in a rut and they became repetitive and un-interesting. So really, what was the point of you reading them as I highly doubt they were giving you any inspiration for your own menus?

To mix it up a little bit, I ‘m going to work harder at more descriptive menus, with at least a few new recipes per week which should be pretty easy since I’m following the National Foodie Holidays to help plan. The Holidays for the week will be posted each Monday so that you can participate on those days or just look forward to the recipes. I hope this will not only keep me motivated, inspire you but also add new favorite recipes (and even days!) to my repertoire!

National Foodie Holidays:

Month of January:
National Bread Machine Baking Month
National Candy Month
National Egg Month
National Hot Tea Month
National Meat Month
National Oatmeal Month
National Soup Month
National Wheat Bread Month
(I'm pretty sure there are more but I gave up). LOL

This Week:
Jan 2nd- National Cream Puff Day
Jan 3rd- Chocolate Filled Cherry Day (that must take talent!)
Jan 4th- Spaghetti Day
Jan 5th-Whipped Cream Day
Jan 6th- Bean Day
Shortbread Day
Jan. 8th-English Toffee Day

Meal Plan:
Sunday: I tried out my new Deep Fryer and made a hodgepodge of Finger foods: Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders, Homemade Mozzarella Sticks, served up with Deviled Eggs, Sour cream Bread (fresh baked in the Bread Machine!), and Profiteroles with Chocolate Cream Sauce. (totally not the best for you, but I promise I limited my quantity –except for the Profiteroles which I think I had 4 or 5 they were so good).

Monday: Mustard Parmesan Chicken with an Avocado and Black Bean Salad (both recipes courtesy of Paula Deen.

Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Bread (Courtesy of the current issue of Martha Stewart Living)

Wednesday: Parmigiana Sliders on fresh Brioche bread (Courtesy of the current issue of Martha Stewart Living and the Breadlover’s BreadMachine Cookbook).

Thursday: Bean Sliders (Courtesy of the current issue of Martha Stewart Living) and Shortbread Cookies dipped in Chocolate.

Friday: Tomato Macaroni and Cheese (Courtesy of Paula Deen) with Turkey Meatloaf

Saturday: Chicken Salad Panini with Cole Slaw and English Toffee

In addition to the above Menu, I have a bushel of apples on my counter, with the intent of making Apple Butter and Apple Pumpkin Butter. I need to find the time and energy to take care of that before they go bad. I would love to use my Deep Fryer and Perogie Press (both Christmas presents) to try some Apple Dumplings as well but they may have to wait till next week as it is apparent I will be pretty busy this week!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Profiteroles with Dark Chocolate Sauce

January 2nd is National Cream Puff Day. So to honor that, I decided to try a recipe I've had marked in a cookbook for quite some time. Profiteroles with Dark Chocolate Sauce adapted from Kitchen Library Desserts.

Cream Puffs have been in the US since 1880 but were actually invented in the 1540's by Catherine de Medici's pastry chef for Henry II.

The one issue I have with the recipe I used was that it did not tell you to cut them or pipe them immediately. It said to let them cool in the oven for 5 minutes so when I took them out they had deflated. BOO. However, deflated or not, these little bad boys are not only phenomenal but addictive. I am officially a Profiteroles fan. These remind me of my favorite Krispy Kreme doughnut: Custard filled, chocolate glazed. It's like little delicate bites of heaven.

Profiteroles (Cream Puffs) with Dark Chocolate Sauce
1/4 cup chopped butter
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs, room temp, lightly beaten

White Chocolate Filling
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 tbs sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup white chocolate chips

Dark Chocolate Sauce
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a baking sheet liberally with cooking spray. Put butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and add flour. Return to heat and stir to form a smooth ball. Set aside and let cool slightly. Add eggs to flour ball with an electric mixer until dough is smooth and glossy (thick paste like consistency). Using a cookie scoop place balls evenly on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and puffed. Turn off Oven and skewer a hole in the side/base of each puff and let dry in oven for 5 minutes. (When I took mine out they deflated immediately so I'm not sure how apt that direction is.)

For Filling:
Combine pudding mix and sugar in saucepan. Whisk in milk slowly until smooth. Heat slowly until boiling and thickening (mine thickened but I never quite let it boil, my fault). Remove from heat and add white chocolate. Stire until melted and let cool. Using a piping bag, filling each pastry with custard.

Combine dark chocolate and cream in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and drizzle over filled pastry.

Champagne-Soaked Baba

Okay, so actually It's Ginger-ale Soaked Baba but only because I'm pregnant. LOL

January is National Bread Machine Baking Month. Since my BFF Sarah bestowed upon me her Breadman (as she is now Gluten Free and those breads don't do as well with the Bread Machine) I decided to finally free it from the dark confines of my pantry and use it to honor National Bread Machine Baking Month. What better way to kick it off then with a New Year's appropriate bread?

Read your Bread Machine Instructions clearly as some machines prefer Wet/Dry/Yeast ingredients to be added in a different order. Breadman is a W/D/Y method. Seriously this is so easy my Dachshund could probably make this bread.

Champagne Soaked Baba
Page 521 of The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Baking Cookbook

For a 1 and 1/2 pound loaf:

1/3 cup water
3 large eggs
6 tbs unsalted butter, melted

2 cups bread flour (I used Gold Medal)
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (I used zest from one whole lemon)
1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 tsp bread machine yeast (I use Fleischmann's)

For Soaking Syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sweet champagne or Gingerale (for us pregnant people)

Directions:Add Dough ingredients to machine in manufacturer's order. Set crust for medium and program for Sweet Bread cycle; press Start.

My machine took about 3 hours to complete bread process, rise, baking time. So with about an hour left, I made the Soaking syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and heat until sugar is dissolved. cool until warm and add Champagne or gingerale. Set aside.

When bread is finished baking, poke wholes with a skewer and turn bread out onto a deep plate. Pour the syrup all over and let it stand to absorb. cover with plastic wrap until all liquid has been absorbed. Serve with warm fruit glaze. Recipe includes an apricot jam glaze but I chose to serve with homemade Pear Preserves or Applebutter.

Stephen and I are not huge fans of Soaked breads due to the soggy texture but this bread did have an excellent taste. Would have even been fine without the soaking mixture and just served with jam.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! 1/1/11

This year is bringing me such inspiration that I can't wait to get started. Already I have my desk littered with notes, a calendar full of ideas and Foodie Dates. A stack of Recipe Books at my feet filled with post-its marking new recipes. A spiral notebook with my chicken scratch of ideas.

As a crockpot full of seasoned black eyed peas simmers, a loaf of Baba bread is baking, a roast is in the oven, and future posts and recipes are swimming through my head (even though I should be taking down Christmas decorations.)

This year, my resolution is be an organized cook. To plan more meticulously AND adventurously. To help me out with that, I'm going to be using the National Food Holidays to give me direction as well as new magazine subscriptions: Cooking Light, Weight Watchers, Southern Living and Martha Stewart Living. Towards the end of the year, I began to get in a rut, planning the same old meals over and over with nothing interesting to blog about when Fall is typically a good time of year for my cooking endeavors (where as summer is usually busy with gardening/canning I have little time to blog about the activities). Granted last fall, I was dealing with morning sickness etc. so I'm giving myself a break.

Despite the fact that I'm expecting a bouncy baby boy in March, I am still planning to be active with this blog ESPECIALLY while on Maternity Leave. (I'm pretty sure, my plans may change when I'm sleep deprived and trying to function and decide cooking is not in my immediate future, three months from now. LOL)

To begin the year, I am going to list out 11 things I want to try this year. What do you aspire to make?

1. Croque en Brouche
2. Croque Madame (without ham)
3. Perogies
4. Bread Machine Baking
5. Deep Frying
6. Pannini's
7. Creative Salads
8. Creative Grilling
9. Homemade Pasta
10. Sugar Cookie Decorating
11. Pastry Decorating

Some of these may not sound very intimidating but they are things I haven't done a lot of, have new equipment for (Thank you SANTA!) or I've just been putting off for various reasons. I don't want to just try everything, I want to be really good at some of it!

I hope the New Year brings good things your way: good food, good friends, and lots of love. Hope to see you here all year!