Sunday, November 15, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 11/16/15 and Menu Review

I've been successful over this past week creating meals that don't have too many leftovers and basically are the perfect amount for small families.  I've also discovered a way to keep lettuce fresh for at least three days {I've eaten every bit by the third day} or heck it might even last longer.  My secret is at least threefold.  First, buy organic.  Not only is the taste better, but the mere fact that it's organic produce seems to play a significant role in lasting longer {at least in my experience}. Second, wash the greens and allow them to drip dry in a colander then wrap in paper towels or even a regular dishtowel to remove as much water as possible.  Next, place a dry paper towel in the bottom of a glass bowl and place the greens on top to allow any remaining moisture to be absorbed.  The last step is to cover the glass bowl very tightly with the plastic wrap.  Remember air is the enemy in this case.  Use as desired to make fresh and crisp salads for as long as it lasts, lol.  This seems to be the only way that I seem to eat any salads {or veggies for that matter} on week nights as I can't stand to pull everything out of the frig or cut up any veggies after work.
One example...
and another.

The ravioli dish below is based on this recipe that I have been making for quite some time now.  I've slowly been making changes to things in my diet that don't sacrifice flavor but are lower in fat. Instead of using pre made Italian sausage in this recipe, I made my own using ground turkey.  When I searched for a recipe the first one I came across was this and...I figured what the heck, I'll give it a whirl.  I've now decided there is truly no need to buy anything but ground turkey or chicken and make my own sausage from now until eternity.  Yes, I know I've already extolled the virtues of these in last week's Menu Plan Monday post {on top of pizza} but....that's how impressed I am with the flavors. Since I only used half of the turkey meat and I was on a cooking streak, I decided to use another recipe to make Breakfast Sausage using the remaining ground turkey.  Of course, I had to 1/4 this one 'cause that was all the meat I had left.  Next time I'll make an entire pound of each. My only substitution for any of the ingredients in the two recipes is using fresh grated ginger in place of ground.  I did that because I'm not a fan of the dried stuff and I don't keep it on hand.  As I've said before, I'm certain that I can freeze both of these {cooked or uncooked} without any problems.
Roasting the asparagus prior to added an entire new taste level to this family favorite.  Recipes are just guidelines you know?

The Grilled Asian Style Chicken would have been great, had my grill not run out of it was I had the meal for dinner and lunch the next day so I wasn't really disappointed.  I liked the marinade and will use again in the future at some point.   I made mexicorn and roasted garlic couscous instead of what I had planned.  Quick and easy!

Saturday morning I made a breakfast burrito of sorts with spinach, garlic, eggs, chopped deli chicken leftover from the week}, and cheese.  Cooking the eggs over low heat makes them so delicious and creamy.

A few of my meals were leftover, but nothing like the last few weeks...thank goodness.  I hope I'll be able to judge portion sizes this week too. The temps have dropped here in Florida {only low 80's for the highs} which inspired me to make, what I think, is a stellar white chicken chili {a healthier version of my usual recipe}.  I'll include the recipe in a later post this week...
Have a wonderful week :o)

SUNDAY-White Chicken Chili, Cinnamon Cake
MONDAY-Coconut Curry Shrimp, Basmati Rice, Fresh Green Beans
TUESDAY-Cooking Club
THURSDAY-Cheesy Squash Fondue, Salad, Baguette
FRIDAY-Homemade Pizza or Take Out

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 11/9/15 and Recipe Review

Homemade Pizza Night, delish!

I didn't make one thing on my list last week even though I ate at home for all of the nights...even the night I met with a friend that I haven't gotten to gab with for a while.  My freezer meal of Mexican Pizza came in super handy on that night, especially since Ty came home a day earlier than expected. The individual flash freeze idea worked out beautifully and to be honest, the taste was better the second time around.  I baked them at 425 from frozen for about 25 minutes {checking after 15 minutes} then topped them with chopped lettuce, tomato, and a dollop of fat free Greek yogurt.  {I never buy sour cream anymore}  So much better than fast food!

I marinated some Springer Mountain Farms {these are delicious, worth the extra money even when they aren't on sale} chicken breast tenders in the Southwestern Marinade {I'm slightly obsessed with this one, yum!} cooking enough for at least two meals. My first meal was the grilled tenders with 1/2 of a baked potato.  The only thing green in that meal were the chopped green onions as a potato topper.  My aversion to washing dishes was rearing its ugly head so I didn't make anything else to go with.  To dispel my guilt over what I should be eating and since I felt like I needed some vegetables, I roasted some corn and black beans the next day and chopped lettuce, carrots, and celery for lunch and dinner salads.  I washed the lettuce, patted it dry with paper towels, then put a dry paper towel in the bottom of a glass bowl covering the whole thing tightly with plastic wrap.  {I also made homemade salad dressing} This darn lettuce stayed fresh for 3 days!  I'm hoping to duplicate the results this week for the Autumn Crunch Pasta Salad {with spinach}. I even have all the components ready for my Monday evening meal.  I'm planning to eat this salad for lunch for a few days so here's hoping my new process works.

Last week's super lasting salad!
1/2 baked potato for lunch, perfect sizing.  Now that I've seen this pic again, I just may be cooking potatoes tonight for lunches this week.

I'm always looking for ways to make "healthier substitutions" that incorporate easily in my life. This past weekend I decided to purchase a pound of organic turkey and make two different types of sausage.  I just so happened to search {while I was in the grocery store} and came up with two recipes from Taste of Home.  Since I've always had good luck with recipes from them...I gave them both a shot {adjusting the amounts of course} . This Italian Sausage was gristle or unknown additives to be found at all....and the Homemade Breakfast Patties are delicious.  On top of pizza, in recipes, for breakfast...I find the minimal work to be so worth the extra effort and the bonus is that the fat in these ingredients is significantly dropped without affecting the flavor.  Any leftovers {or mix and flash freeze patties or links for quick meals} can be frozen which works out when cooking for smaller families.

Here's what I'm planning this week but who knows what I'll really make...I'll let ya know.

WEDNESDAY-Asian Style Grilled Chicken Breast, Garlic Roasted Green Beans, Basmati Rice
THURSDAY-Browned Butter and Sage Pumpkin Ravioli, Roasted Asparagus

I know, pasta twice?  I have two packages that need to be used up so I may have to "bless" Tanner and Jesse with a meal.  Let's just hope they look at it like that :0) {vegetarian meals just aren't my boy's favorites}

Cheers to a great week of cooking and enjoying the little weather with temperatures below 80 degrees.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 11/2/15 and Cooking for One Review

Still grilling here in Florida

Short cut S'mores monkey bread by Ty
VERDICT:  DEE-licious

Pork schnitzel with mushrooms, roasted asparagus and homemade honey mustard sauce, made on leftover {none left} night.
VERDICT:  I absolutely hate the smell of any sort of pan frying but I love roasted asparagus and ate the whole pan}

I cooked quite a few times last week and did fairly well making my old recipes work for one person all I can say is thank heavens for the freezer.
Having it available is certainly a lifesaver when cooking for one and keeps me from eating the same thing over and over and over{literally}. I've been craving my comfort foods which we all know includes cheese and more cheese.  I gave in to that craving and instead of the grilled chicken burgers with fresh vegetables scheduled for Thursday, I made a version of this macaroni and cheese instead.  Chopped deli ham was added and I left out any added salt that I might have mixed in had I not been using store bought chicken stock, cheese and well...the ham.  The seasoning was perfect.  {for my tastes, especially since I added a little dried mustard, and cayenne pepper to the mix}
Now the bad news.  If any of you have made the similar slow cooker recipe then it will not come as a surprise that the result is truly not aesthetically pleasing. {therefore no pictures} The evaporated milk appears to curdle making the dish look like it should be thrown directly in the trash, but don't.   Stir again and then allow the casserole to cool a little. {or you'll burn your face off}  Enjoy with a green salad/ veggie {which I was too lazy to make} or just in a bowl.  I also ate this for lunch the next day and in my humble opinion preferred this casserole after cooling and reheating.

  My plan this week is going to focus on marinated grilled meats and lots of greens.  After eating all of the cheesy goodness last week I'm craving simple, clean flavors.

SATURDAY-Baked Brown Sugar Chicken {taking to a football party}
SUNDAY-Lemony Pasta with Garlic and Capers, grilled chicken breast, green beans, french bread
MONDAY-Taco Baked Potatoes, steamed broccoli
TUESDAY-Shrimp on the BarbieCilantro Rice, vegetable
THURSDAY-Sloppy Joe, green salad

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mexican Pizza Review

before baking
There is something about cheese, especially melted cheese that I just can't get enough of....that's my Achilles's heel for sure.   Needless to say, I loved this recipe!  I have an experiment of sorts going on too...I assembled two extra and flash froze them.  {like an individual sized frozen pizza}   I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and stored in a gallon size freezer bag.  Wrote some directions on the outside and voila my own version of fast food. {individually sized!}

VERDICT:  Yum. I was missing the green onions and I think that flavor will enhance the overall taste.  I purposefully left off the black olives because they are so salty and so is the taco meat, and so is the cheese, and so are the beans.  It didn't really taste like the fast food version but I liked it and it's something that will hopefully work in the freezer.  I'll let you know...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 10/26/15

have a bit of a love/hate relationship with autumn.
Autumn somewhere else...definitely not in my neck of the woods.  We're still in grilling mode.

I've been recovering from surgery for the last six days and haven't been eating anything that even remotely resembles a vegetable or embodies healthy in any aspect.  That's okay since I haven't been very hungry.  Well, except for the first day when I ate a fast food fried chicken sandwich for lunch, pizza for dinner, and cake for dessert.  I blame that business on plain 'ole relief that the pain would be manageable and that I was going to heal like I should...and I've never identified myself as an emotional eater, lol.

I'm not going crazy with cooking this week, but I am focusing on eating things made in my kitchen with lots of protein to help with the healing process.  My oldest favorite son, {as opposed to my youngest favorite son}, has moved in to his own place now and I'm learning to cook for one.  Leftovers for a day are great, for a week....not so much.  Even when I make half of a recipe, there is way too much for just me, thank heavens for the freezer!  

Mexican Pizza process 5
{using ground chicken breast meat, and I'm only making 1/3 of this recipe}
Green Salad
To Do:  Freeze remaining ground chicken making this recipe, defrost chicken, pack lunch, shred cheese.

Couscous with Parmesan
Roasted Asparagus
To Do:  Take remaining chicken off the bone portion for single meals

To Do:  Pack lunch 

Chicken Burgers Recipe
Roasted Potato Wedges
Sliced Lettuce and Tomato
To Do:  Nothing, tomorrow is Friday, probably will throw together a pizza.

Quick Pizza

I didn't start out planning to only use chicken this week...I'm so trying not to create an excess of leftovers that I might have been a little over zealous.  There could be some changes depending on mood and inspiration. Who knows, I might have a hankering for yak :p

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 10/19/15

My baby Ty Ty {yes, the one who is 18 years old} made me Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast on Sunday.  I read the directions and he mixed it up and cooked them and they were tasty.  I had him make mine plain, but he put white and chocolate chips in his then topped them with real maple syrup.   He said he loved his and may never use Bisquick again :0) In other cooking news, I made applesauce in the crock pot over the weekend.  I added about 4.5 pounds Granny Smith apples {unpeeled, quartered cause I was a little lazy and didn't want to peel, slice, or chop} along with 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 3/4 cup water and cooked on high for about 3 hours.  I used my Pampered Chef Chop and Mix to get an all natural smooth/chunky delicious result.  I was able to freeze 3 {one cup portions} for use at a later time.  I was thinking on pancakes???  I also ate a portion with graham crackers for dessert last night which has now become my favorite. {at least for this week}

And by the way, my plan this week is to have no plan.  I'm having a procedure this week that will keep me out of the kitchen for a few days.  I'll be eating on the kindness and ingenuity of family.
To be honest, macaroni and cheese will be my meal of choice, I'm sure.

However, here are a few links of things I want to make over the next few weeks or so.

{I've made this before, substituting some ingredients but truly a wonderful fall treat}

Have a great week and be blessed.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Cashew Chicken Review

I seriously have to learn to cook for one...even when I made half of this recipe I had enough left over to pack a lunch for myself and a large portion of lunch for my son.  As you can see, I think I went a little overboard with the cashews....I was hungry and they really taste good when toasted.  One thing not listed in the recipe though is whether to use salt or not with the seasonings.  I purchased low sodium chicken broth as I didn't have any {homemade} defrosted from my freezer at my disposal and followed the full recipe sauce directions. {to have enough for the rice}  It took me almost a day to realize that there isn't a need for salt since the cashews {although not specified in the recipe} are roasted and salted and the soy sauce added the required amount for my palate. If this isn't to your personal tastes....season to your hearts desire.  I also doubled the soy sauce and omitted the sherry because I didn't have any in the cabinet.

VERDICT:  I like this idea immensely, super easy and quick to put together, only dirtied one pan, and tasted delish.  Be careful though of the crushed red pepper.  My lunch the next day was seriously spicy after sitting in the refrigerator over night.