Friday, July 31, 2009

Menus 8/3 - 8/7

I'm only going to be posting menus for this coming week because we're leaving for VACATION on the 8th and I won't be cooking (at least not in my own house!) goes:

Monday, 8/3: Baked Spicy Beef Chimichangas / Spanish Rice

At the end of the recipe, there are alternate instructions for traditional fried chimichangas. I haven't tried this recipe before, and I think I'm gonna do it baked for the first time. I couldn't find this one online - it is from the Southern Living "30 Years of Our Best Recipes"- so here it is:

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups (8 oz) 4-cheese Mexican blend shredded cheese, divided
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup picante sauce
12 (8 inch) flour tortillas
Toppings: salsa, sour cream, shredded lettuce

Cook first 3 ingredients in a large skillet over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, stirring until beef crumbles. Remove from heat and drain.

Stir 1 1/2 cups cheese, beans, chiles, and picantes sauce into beef mixture. Place 1/4 cup beef mixture just below center of each tortilla. Fold opposite sides of tortillas over filling, forming rectangles. Secure with wooden toothpicks.

Place on a baking sheet; coat chimichangas with vegetable cooking spray.

Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes; turn chimichangas, and bake 5 more minutes. Remove picks; serve immediately with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and desired toppings. Yield: 12 chimichangas

*Traditional Spicy Beef Chimichangas*: Pour vegetable oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375 degrees. Fry chimichangas, a few at a time, 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain and serve hot.

Spanish Rice: (I make this recipe ALL the time and LOVE it)
1 cup white long grain rice
1 (15 oz) can chicken broth
¼ cup tomato sauce*
1 T. cooking oil
½ t. dried onion powder
½ t. garlic powder
1 t. salt (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and add rice. Cook rice until light brown. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce and spices. Bring to a low boil and cover. Cook for 20 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings
*You can add more tomato sauce. The rice is more “dry” when you use less, a little more “mushy” when you add more.

Tuesday, 8/4: Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice

I strayed from my menu this week and didn't make the pork chops and gravy - so I have pork that needs to be used...this sweet and sour recipe is DELICIOUS! It can be used with pork or chicken - doesn't matter.

Wednesday, 8/5: Sesame Seed Chicken / Green Beans / Mashed Potatoes

I have some sesame seeds leftover from the sesame turkey - figured I'd used 'em up on this! From Southern Living 30 Years.

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
8 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Vegetable Oil
White Chicken Gravy

Combine 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup flour in a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken, and shake to coat. Combine eggs and milk in a small bowl; set aside. Combine remaining 3/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and sesame seeds in a small bowl.

Dip each chicken breast in egg mixture; coat with sesame seed mixture

Pour oil to depth of 1 inch into a heavy 10-12 inch skillet; heat to 350 degrees. Fry chicken in hot oil over medium heat 15 minutes or until golden Serve with White Chicken Gravy. Yield: 8 servings

White Chicken Gravy

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add chicken broth; cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.

Gradually stir one-fourth of hot mixture in to egg yolks; add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 10 minutes or until thickened and smooth. Yield: about 2 cups.

Thursday, 8/6: Hawaiian Haystacks

So as I was preparing these menus, I started thinking about all the packing and getting ready we're going to be doing by this time...and I got a little lazy. Haystacks are my fallback dinner - it is one of my absolute favorites and it is so easy. I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand - and it is perfect for summer! I don't really have a recipe for this - but here's what I do for my family of 4:

Boil 6-7 chicken tenderloins (approx. 2-3 chicken breasts) - reserve water/broth, remove chicken and cut into cubes.
Mix 1 can cream of chicken in frying pan with 1/2 can chicken broth from cooking chicken ( I don't really measure - you just want a nice consistency like a gravy)
Add chicken cubes to gravy
3 cups cooked rice (1 1/2 cups uncooked)

Choose from any of the following toppings:
green peppers
green onions
chow mein noodles
slivered almonds
sunflower seeds

Dish rice first, then top with gravy, then cheese - so it gets all nice and melted, then whatever toppings you choose!

Friday, 8/7: BBQ

So, we'll probably do hamburgers and hot dogs or something simple this night. Pack Pack Pack!

Then we're hitting the road early Sat. morning so you're on your own for the next week!

Sesame-Crusted Turkey Review

This recipe was very yummy. It was a little finicky in some places and I think when I make it again someday, I will try to make some adjustments.

First of all, when you toast the sesame seeds, be careful! Don't burn them! I only burned the top little layer, but it was annoying. Then, when I was making the cream sauce, I added the whipping cream too soon and so it wouldn't thicken so I had to do it all over again. And even after I did it again, it still wouldn't thicken - so I'm gonna have to work on that.

The other thing that I will change next time is that the recipe says to broil the turkey. I would rather bake it - the broiler caused the outer edges of the turkey to get tough. I think next time I'll bake it in my cast iron - just have to figure out the time because broil time is not the same as bake time.

So, once all was said and done, it was actually delicious. I served it over linguine noodles and we had peas on the side. Eric really liked it. The girls loved it. Especially slurping the noodles. But both girls ate all the turkey!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars until I can perfect it!

Check back soon for next week's menus!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Baked Tilapia Review

I think I mentioned in my other post that I am not a fan of fish. Eric loves it so for the last year or so I have tried to incorporate a little fish into our diet. By incorporate, I mean that we have had it about 3, maybe 4 times in the last couple years. I just don't like it. So tilapia, as I mentioned before, is a very mild fish. It is not nearly as "fishy" as some of the others.

So I thought the parmesan-sour cream sauce was really good. It helped mask the taste of the fish for me, so it wasn't terrible. Eric, on the other hand, thought it masked the fish taste too much! He prefers to just have a hunk of fish with a little bit of seasoning and call it good.

Haylie took one bite and, very politely, said "I don't really like that". And I really can't blame her! So I didn't make her eat it. Anna had a couple bites and did OK with it. She's just at that age where she is easily distracted and doesn't eat much as it is.

I'm not sure how to rate this one. I guess I'll say 3 out of 5 stars. I thought the sauce was good, but I just don't like fish, so I can't really rate it fairly. Eric didn't care for the sauce because he wanted to taste more of the fish...???

I guess you'll have to be your own judge on this one!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin Review

I am just so pleased with the recipes I've been trying lately! This pork tenderloin was, by far, the best pork dish I have ever made. It was FANTASTIC! Eric took the first bite and the first word out of his mouth was "Wow". The pork was so tender it was like eating chicken. Haylie ate two slices and Anna even ate a whole slice. They both loved it! I did baked potatoes and green salad to go along.

I cooked the tenderloin in a cast iron "dutch oven" - if you have one, use it - if not, a roasting pan is fine - but if you cook a lot of meat, consider getting cast iron - it is a GREAT way to cook all kinds of meat.

Oh, and I got the pork tenderloin at Costco for $3.59/lb. More than I'd like to pay but I missed the sale at SaveMart. The good news is - you get two tenderloins, and I only used half of one - so I froze the rest and we'll eat it later. If you look at it this way, the two tenderloins can make approximately 4 meals...that's about $4 per meal. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

5 out of 5 stars!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Italian BLT Sandwich Review

Alright y'all...if you haven't tried the Italian BLT recipe yet...DO IT!! They were so fabulous that my 5 star rating scale doesn't seem like enough. I think it was more like 6 or 7 stars out of 5!! Like I said, I couldn't find mortadella at the store so I got pastrami instead and it was a great substitute. Eric gobbled his down and asked if there was any more, and sadly, there wasn't and Haylie ate her half-sandwich like a champ - only it was sorta messy and hard to hold so I sorta' had to feed it to her -but no biggie - at least she ate!!

Go try it now!! ; -)

Creole Jambalaya Review

This was certainly something different that we have never had around here before, but I think everybody enjoyed it. Here's the thing: I used the cajun sausage or "Hot Links" as it was called on the package. You could actually see little red pepper seeds in the sausage. The flavor was delicious, and mixed in with the rice and everything else, the spice wasn't unbearable, but both Eric and I were sweating and wiping our noses cuz the spice was making 'em runny. The good news is that even the girls liked it - I made sure none of the sausage made it into their bowls - and they gobbled it up - Haylie had a little more to drink than usual cuz it was still a little spicy - but overall, I'd say it was a success.

I'll definitely make it again, but instead I think I might try to use regular smoked sausage, then just add a dash of ground red pepper to give it just a little kick. This one had just a little bit too much kick for me. 4 out of 5 stars. ;-)

No picture this time, forgot. :-(

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kings Ranch Chicken Casserole Review

I made the Kings Ranch Chicken Casserole tonight and it was delicious! Haylie didn't want to try it at first because that's just how she is, but when I finally got her to try it, she ate her whole serving - minus the green peppers.

The only change I made to the recipe was instead of using canned tomatoes with green chiles, I used fresh cherry tomatoes from my garden and a 4 oz can of green chiles. Probably didn't make too much difference.
Ok - so if there's one thing I'm really not good at (don't care about), it is presentation. So, I took a picture of my meal - and it doesn't look pretty, but you get the idea. Oh, and I remembered to take the picture after I had already started to dig in - so that makes it even less pretty. But here it is:

I give this meal 5 stars out of 5 stars. Very yummy and easy too!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Menus - 7/20 - 7/31

If I can find the recipes online, I will just post a link for you. If not, I will put the recipe right on here. I'll also be listing whatever side I plan to serve with the meal - obviously you can do whatever you want. Also, a lot of the following recipes are new to me, so I won't be able to share much about them! I am on a mission to stop making the same old stuff all the time! So here goes:

Monday, 7/21: Creamy Meatballs and Potatoes / Steamed Broccoli

This is a Metler family favorite. It is on the recipe website that my husband manages for my mother-in-law (who happens to be a fabulous cook).

I usually half this recipe for my little family of four and it leaves a lot of leftovers. I should also note that it is possible to do this one in a crock pot - which is great in the summer! You just need to brown the meatballs first then put them in the crock pot and do everything else as directed. I'd probably do it on High for 4-5 hours.

Tuesday, 7/22: King Ranch Chicken Casserole / Green Salad

This is from the Southern Living "Top-Rated" cookbook. I have not tried it yet, so I'll try to post something after we try it and let you know how it was!

Wednesday, 7/23: Creole Jambalaya

Also from the Southern Living "Top-Rated" cookbook. Never tried it, and not sure I even consider myself a fan of anything creole, but I did have jambalaya once in college and I liked it, so I thought it was worth a shot. I'm a little worried that it is going to be too spicy - but we'll find out!! I haven't really thought of a side dish for this one yet...any suggestions?

Thursday, 7/24: Italian BLT's / Caesar Salad

I LOVE BLT's. And over the last couple years, I've developed a taste for Italian subs - so this sounds like a perfect combo. Once again, from SL "Top-Rated" - I had a little trouble finding mortadella - I think I'd have to go to an actual deli for that - so instead I got pastrami - not sure yet if I'll use it, but I have it just in case.

Friday, 7/25: Chuck Roast in crock pot or chuck steaks / Grilled zucchini & yellow squash from the garden

This week, my Fresno friends, you can get a chuck roast or chuck steak at Save Mart for $1.59/lb. That is an excellent price. I keep my eyes on the Vons and Save Mart ads and usually only buy steaks/roasts when they are under $2.00/lb.

I don't have a recipe for this - I usually just throw the roast in the crockpot with some Pappy's seasoning, quartered potatoes and baby carrots. OR, I may have Eric throw some steaks on the BBQ.

Monday, 7/27: Pork Tenderloin / Green Salad

From SL Top Rated. Haven't tried it yet. Costco, I think, is the best place to get pork tenderloin. However, I just noticed in the Save Mart ad that you can get a tenderloin for $1.99/lb. Very good.

Tuesday, 7/28: Lasagna / Caesar Salad / Garlic Bread

No recipe for this one. I just follow the directions on the box of lasagna noodles. I use whatever cheap jar of spaghetti sauce I have and I splurge a little and add a layer of ricotta cheese. Yum.

Wednesday, 7/29: Baked Tilapia with Parmesan-Sour Cream Sauce

From SL Top Rated. I am not a huge fan of fish. Tilapia is just about one of the only types of fish I can handle and it is pretty inexpensive. This recipe looks very yummy. Any ideas for a side dish?

Thursday, 7/30: Pork Chops & Gravy in the crock pot / Mashed Potatoes / Green Beans

From SL Top Rated. This one I have made before and it is delicious. Especially with the mashed potatoes. I use the thin sliced pork chops - they seem more tender to me.

Friday, 7/31: Sesame-Crusted Turkey Mignons

From SL Top Rated. Haven't tried this one yet. I couldn't find turkey mignons so I bought a turkey tenderloin - it was a little more pricey than I like - but I find that every once in a while it is OK to splurge in the interest of trying something new.

(Don't forget to click on the link to the Creamy Wine Sauce within that recipe to make the sauce.)

On Saturday, we'll probably take any of the leftover meat we have and do a Brazilian Barbecue. Ever been to one of those Brazilian restaurants where the bring all kinds of delicious meats to your table? It's fun to BBQ and have a nice variety.

So there you have it. If you try any of these recipes, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought! And make sure you click on the right side to "Follow" the blog - that way I know you're reading and it'll make me keep up on the lists!!!


Okay, so I posted a "status" message on Facebook yesterday about having planned my meals for the next 2 weeks and done all the shopping, etc. When we were first married, I was REALLY good about planning meals in advance. Over the years, it has become increasingly rare, I almost said difficult, but I don't think it's difficult - it's just something that you have to take the time to do. And it pays off! The way I see it, if I've had a crummy day and I don't have a meal already planned, it usually results in us eating out (spending money!). Then, Eric doesn't have leftovers to take for lunch the next day, which again results in him eating out (MORE money!). Granted, he is VERY good about making himself a PBJ but we all know that can get old real fast.

Well, I had several friends request copies of my meal plan so that they, too, could plan ahead and have some new recipes to try. Thus the inspiration for this new blog. I work well under pressure. So maybe, if I promise you that I will post my meal plans, I will feel the pressure to keep making meal plans!!

Let me just say, for the record, that I am no gourmet chef. I can open a cookbook and read a recipe, and usually it tastes good. I will not take credit for any of the recipes I post - I will credit the cookbook I got them out of!

Also, so far, Eric and I have been blessed with high metabolisms - so I don't do a whole lot of low-fat cooking. But, I think with any recipe, you can make substitutions to make it as low-fat as you'd like.

Sooo...I'll be posting what I came up with for 7/20-7/31 shortly. Oh, I should also add that I don't cook on Saturday or Sunday! Eric will usually barbecue, or we have something simple like pancakes or french toast. So my menus only go from Mon-Fri!

Check back shortly!!