May 27, 2011

Menu: May 24-31

Tuesday: Easy Baked tilapia
Wednesday: Chicken Squash Bake w/ zucchini (my garden is overflowing with zucchini)
Thursday: Ham Quiche (have Easter ham in the freezer)
Friday: Hamburgers, baked fries, and easy apple dumplings
Saturday: Breakfast pizza w/ ham; TBD dinner; oreo cheesecake
Sunday: pineapple skewered shrimp, brown rice, green beans
Monday: Applesauce pancakes; ribs, grilled corn, rolls
Tuesday: Pasta and turkey meatballs

May 25, 2011

Nutri-Grain Bars

Original recipe by This Chick Cooks.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lightly beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup juice (apple, grape, cranberry, etc)
1/2 cup all fruit spread
2 tablespoons wheat germ, optional

Preheat oven to 325º. Mix the flour, oats, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add oil, egg, vanilla, and juice (I used cranberry since it's what we had). Mix well. Press half of the mixture in a greased 8x8 baking dish. It will be a thin layer. Spread the fruit spread on top. Spoon the rest of the dough on top of the fruit layer. Carefully spread it on top of the fruit.  It is a bit messy, but spooning clumps of dough throughout the top helps. Top with the 2 tablespoons of wheat germ. Bake 20-30 minutes. Let it cool before cutting into bars.

Really good! It's a nice change from my normal granola bars that I make most weeks for snacks. In fact, it's rather sweet so I think I'll use less sugar next time. :)

May 23, 2011

May Cooking Challenge: Chicken and Artichoke Pizza

This month's HouseHold6 cooking challenge (see the button on the right?) was to make a pizza without tomato sauce. I knew immediately I wanted to make a pizza with pesto. I LOVE this on a pizza. I don't make it hardly ever since DH isn't so fond of anything other than basic pepperoni or sausage pizza (how boring is that?!). I did end up making two pizzas. One used pesto according to the challenge, the other some leftover quick tomato sauce so my DH would actual eat dinner. ;) Do note that the recipe below does make two pizzas. I'm saving the other half of the pesto that I didn't use to go in pasta for lunch this week.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup yellow corn meal
3 tablespoons olive oil

1 can artichoke hearts, drained well
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Spinach-Basil-Walnut Pesto:
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil

For the dough, pour the water in a bowl. Add to it the yeast, salt, and olive oil. If you're not sure if your yeast is still good, mix just the yeast and water and let it sit for 5 minutes to check it. To the bowl add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. With your hands add the corn meal until well mixed. Knead until dough is smooth. Place dough into a greased large bowl. Cover and allow to rise, usually takes me 45 minutes. If time is a crunch for you, you can just let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

While the dough is rising, gather the ingredients for the pesto. In a food processor pulse together the walnuts, spinach, basil, garlic, salt, pepper, cheese, and lemon juice until a paste forms. Drizzle in the olive oil till smooth.

During this time I usually cook the chicken and shred it. I also set the artichoke hearts out to drain before loosely chopping them.

When the dough has risen, preheat the over to 450ºF. Separate the dough into two equal pieces. Using your hands spread the dough out on your chosen pizza pan (I choose to lightly spray my pans with olive oil because have issues).

Top each with pesto followed by mozzarella cheese and then the artichokes and chicken.

Bake at 450ºF for about 15 minutes.

Man, was this pizza GOOD!

It was also good using the quick tomato sauce instead of the pesto, but let's be honest... It wasn't nearly as sensational as the pesto version. :D

May 18, 2011

Why Menu Plan?

Yes, it does take time and effort. I do spend 2-3 hours a week going through recipes, checking the plantry and freezer, finding coupons, planning my menu, and writing up my grocery list. Keep in mind I tend to change my mind a billion times before settling on a menu some weeks, so it's very possible to spend just a few minutes on a menu. I want to try new dishes, remember old ones that have been neglected, and use favorites that I'm craving. All while sticking to my ideal of only spending $50 a week (keep in mind it's just 2.5 of us here). Which brings me to my first reason why I menu plan.

1. It saves money. Who doesn't want to save money? I make my menus based on what I already have in the house so food doesn't go to waste or get close to expiring. I make a grocery list based on what is needed to complete my menu. I only buy what's on my grocery list (well, most of the time). I'm also not running to the store almost every day, so there's a big gas savings and less opportunity for me to buy items I don't need. A hint for when you're shopping? Don't go down an aisle unless there's something on your grocery list in there. Which leads me to....
2. It saves time. Don't laugh at me! Even with me spending 2-3 hours planning everything out, I'm still saving myself time! I've got time during the week to do other things because I'm not running to the store for something else I've forgotten. I don't have to wonder at the end of the day what I'm going to cook. I just cook what I planned! And by having my organized grocery list on my iPhone, I'm in and out of the grocery store (with a baby in tow) in less than 30 minutes with a full cart.
3. It's healthier when planned accordingly. We very, very rarely eat fast food. There's no reason for it, even when  we're stuck somewhere till 6:30 and have to be someplace else at 7pm. If there's a heavily scheduled day, I make food ahead of time to be reheated or I plan something simple. Menu planning means we have enough fruits and vegetables for the week and they get eaten. We eat a balanced diet everyday. If something not so healthy is on the menu for a meal, the rest of that day's meals contain those needed nutrients. Do note that I plan breakfast, lunch, and dinners but only post dinners mainly because it gets boring seeing cereal, eggs, sandwiches, wraps, fruit, and leftovers on the  menu constantly.

My biggest tip when deciding to start menu planning? Keep it simple! Start with one week and don't get fancy. Pen and paper work just fine. :)

May 17, 2011

Menu: May 17-23

Tuesday: Szechwan Shrimp, stir-fry veggies, and brown rice (I ended up not fixing dinner one night last week.)
Thursday: cheese tortellini in quick tomato sauce
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: whole-wheat blueberry muffins; pot roast, roasted red potatoes, steamed broccoli
Sunday: leftover pot roast and potatoes with sautéed squash

May 10, 2011

Menu: May 10-16

Ended up having friends over one night and going out to eat another night, so had to move around last week's menu some.

Tuesday: broiled tilapia parmesan (I'd suggest cutting way down on the butter), steamed brown rice, broccoli
Friday: Stroganoff w/ ground turkey and peas
Sunday: Szechwan Shrimp, stir-fry veggies, and brown rice

May 05, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Tacos

This is our favorite taco recipe with spaghetti squash replacing the usual ground meat.

1 spaghetti squash
taco seasoning (recipe to follow)
Corn taco shells
Baby spinach
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked black beans (about 1/2 a can)
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup diced onion

Split spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. Cook however you normally would spaghetti squash. I like to place mine in a glass dish with a bit of water. Cover and microwave for about 15 minutes. While cooking, mix the black beans, corn, and onion in a bowl. Leave it sitting out. Once squash is tender, use a fork to get the squash strands out. Place squash strands in a saucepan, 1 cup of water, and taco seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place taco shells in the oven to crisp.
Fill tacos with seasoned spaghetti squash, black bean mixture, cheese, and spinach.

Taco Seasoning - recipe from Give Peas a Chance

3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried cilantro
4 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons black pepper

Mix. Store in an airtight container. Seasons one pound of meat.
This is (obviously) hot.

May 03, 2011

Menu: May 3-9

Tuesday: iron skillet deep dish pizza
Wednesday: spaghetti squash tacos w/ corn and black beans
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: waffles and sausage; broiled tilapia parmesan, steamed broccoli, brown rice

May 01, 2011

Whole Wheat Pancakes - Two Recipes

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes from 100 Days of Real Food

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¾ cups milk (you can use any kind – skim, 2% or whole)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + butter for frying
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 100% pure maple syrup for serving
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground flaxseed. Stir until well mixed and then make a well (hole) in the center of the bowl by spreading the flour mixture to the sides of the bowl. Pour the honey, eggs, milk, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter into the well, then gradually whisk from the center outward until the ingredients are well combined but still a little lumpy. Do not over mix the batter. Very gently fold in the mashed bananas (and/or other berries).
Preheat a non-stick or cast iron griddle (or sauté pan) over medium-high heat. Set electric griddles at 370 degrees F. Your cooking surface will be ready when a drop of water flicked onto the surface dances and evaporates instantly. Allow some butter to melt then ladle the pancake batter forming circles on the griddle or pan.
When the pancakes have begun to bubble in the center and the underside is golden brown, use your spatula to flip them. Cook until the 2nd side is golden brown, and then keep on a platter in a warm oven (200 degrees F) while you cook the remaining pancakes. Serve with warm maple syrup and a side of fruit. And freeze the leftovers for another day!

Whole Wheat Pancakes from Make Healthy Meals

Make that breakfast favorite just a little bit healthier. Still not exactly healthy, but an improvement. Mix in some berries to add a little something more. You can use other fruits as a topping, with whipped cream or syrup if you need that sweet taste.

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon common granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons oil

additional oil for frying

Oil a frying pan. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in one bowl. In another bowl, scramble the egg, then add the milk and the 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, well enough to eliminate dry spots but no more.

Heat the frying pan to medium temperature. Pour a pancake. The pancake will bubble. When the bubbling settles down and the edges are slightly dry, flip the pancake. When the pancake looks done, remove it and start another one.


Yeah, I fixed two types of pancakes for dinner tonight because I wanted to try them both. Besides, breakfast for the week is taken care of now. ;)

We found both of them to be great. The banana pancakes puffed up nicely and had a great sweet taste from the bananas. I think next time I will add blueberries in the regular whole wheat pancakes. I meant to do that tonight, but totally forgot!