Weekly Menu 2/27 - 3/4

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I'm really excited to try making a few new things this week. For some reason I can't manage to limit myself to picking just one or two things a week, I have to do it all at once. :)

Sunday - shepherd's pie

Monday - crab and corn chowder

Tuesday - Alice chicken (sides to be determined)

Wednesday - lasagna

Thursday - breakfast casserole

Friday - grilled cheese (and tomato soup, most likely)

I'm also excited about the baking I'm going to do tomorrow. I found a pear and granola crisp on Annie's Eats that I want to try out and Tom decided that we're making a chocolate torte with chocolate ganache and strawberries.


Asian Beef with Veggies

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For a few weeks I had been craving a meal like Chinese food but without the inevitable bloating feeling you get after eating take out. I was also curious to see how many vegetables I could put in one dish and still get Tom to eat it. On Monday I came up with this recipe.

I'm pleased to say that not only did he eat all of the vegetables in the dish, he didn't comment on the excess amount of them and he ate seconds. Vegetables, 1. Tom, 0.


Asian Beef with Veggies
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 4
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For the Marinade:
    • 1 lb. flank steak
    • 3 tbs. brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    • 2 tbs. rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup beef broth
    • 1 tbs. Schezuan or spicy sauce
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 1 tsp. powdered ginger
    • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper

    Combine everything but the flank steak in a large bowl. Stir well to combine. Add the meat to the mixture, cover and let marinate for at least 3 hours. (I marinated it for 8 hours.)

    Ingredients:
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 1 red pepper, diced
    • 2 carrots, juliened
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 10 oz. sugar snap peas
    • 6 oz. button mushrooms, diced
    • 1 tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tbs. rice wine vinegar
    • 1 tsp. Schezuan or spicy sauce
    • 2 tbs. olive oil
    • 8 oz. noodles (I used lo mein noodles)

    Directions:
     1. Put all of the chopped vegetables into a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and Schezuan sauce. Toss to coat.
    2. Add the olive oil to a large skillet or wok and heat over medium-heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and cut into 3 inch strips. Reserve the marinade.
    3. Add the meat to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is browned on all sides.
    4. Cook the noodles according to package directions for al dente. Drain.
    5. Add the vegetables to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes or until all of the vegetables are soft. Add the remaining marinade to the skillet.
    6. Add the noodles to the skillet and stir until the noodles have soaked up the excess liquid.
    7. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and serve immediately.

    This was delicious and exactly what I was looking for! There were a ton of veggies and a great flavor. I can't wait to make this again. Apologies for the picture though, I thought I had let it cool enough that the steam wouldn't make a blurry picture, but I was wrong.


Weekly Menu 2/21 - 2/25

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After weeks and weeks of doing homework every weekend for my college classes, I decided to take a break for a day. On Sunday Tom and I went to the beach to use the gift card his parents had gave us for an absolutely delicious sushi place. While Tom helped his dad and his brother, his mom and I went to Marshall's and did a bit of shopping.

I ended up with 2 shirts, a pair of tights, a picture frame to hold a wedding picture of us on my desk at work, and a small stand mirror that provoked a slight redecoration of our bathroom. This is the mirror:
Ignore me in the reflection, please. Our toothbrush holder matches the base of mirror exactly so I knew I had to get it. Previously, I used to have all of my hair stuff (dyer, straighter, brushes, etc.) in a basket that sat on the counter but I've moved that under the sink. Now I just need to find a small basket to hold the things that we use daily (deodorant, lotion, hairspray). I may end up finding a soap dispenser that matches as well since right now we just have a bottle of soap we keep refilling.

Anyway, onto the menu:

Monday - asian beef, vegetables and noodles

Tuesday - mango habanero chicken sandwiches (redone)

Wednesday - pork with creamy herb sauce and garlic mashed potatoes

Thursday - Muenster mac & cheese

Friday - Emeril's gaaahlicky sizzling shrimp


Shrimp Cocktail

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I felt bad posting two weeks worth of menu's in a row without having any recipes in between. I had planned on blogging at least one meal from last week but I kept forgetting to take pictures. So I had to dig through all of the food pictures on my computer to find something I hadn't blogged yet.

Shrimp Cocktail
Source: a family recipe
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. shrimp, shells on*
    • 2 tbs. Old Bay
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 vinegar

Cocktail Sauce:
    • 3 tbs. ketchup
    • 1-1 1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish

Directions:
1. In a medium sauce pan, add the water, vinegar and Old Bay. Bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain the liquid.
2. In a small dish stir together the ketchup and horseradish, adding more of each to taste.
3. Serve shrimp warm or cold with cocktail sauce.

* Depending on how you purchase your shrimp, you may also need to devein them. Mine came deveined with shells on.

I know this is kinda simple for a recipe, but its one of those appetizers that can be easily put together in a short amount of time. A few weeks back when we had an appetizer night I made these.

Weekly Menu 2/13 - 2/18

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Even though we went out for lunch yesterday I decided I was still going to make something nice for Valentine's Day. It definitely helped that the grocery store agreed with me and put filet mignon on sale for $8.98 a pound!

Sunday - chili

Monday - pepper encrusted filet with mushroom risotto and roasted asparagus

Tuesday - bacon pierogie bake

Wednesday - grilled chicken breast with baked potatoes and corn

Thursday - ropa vieja

Friday - I'm not sure yet

When I planned out the menu, we were supposed to go out to dinner today. Friday night Tom says to me, I'd rather go out Saturday for lunch. So I moved the chili I had planned on making on Friday to Sunday. I'm sure by Friday morning some idea for dinner will come to me. Especially since our freezer is overflowing with food.

Which was a bit of an accident. When I realized we had pretty much nothing left in the freezer, I picked up two pork tenderloins, a 2 lb. bag of frozen shrimp, 5 lbs. of ground beef and 8 chicken breasts. Before we could even make a dent in that, Redner's had the filet and seafood sale. I ended up with 4 meals of steak, 2 lbs. of crab meat, a flank steak, and 1 lb. of scallops. Add that to the pierogie and 3 different types of ice cream and lets just say that opening the freezer is a bit of a mission. You have to stand back pretty far so in case anything flies out, your toes are safe and then open the freezer with one hand while putting the other hand up to block any flying meats.

I really can't wait for the day where I have a huge deep freezer. I have a feeling this is what will happen when we finally get one:
Day 1 - install and turn on freezer. Purchase tons of plastic containers.
Day 2 - chicken noodle soup, beef stew, chili, and various other freezeable meals
Day 3 - pizza sauce, chicken stock, and similar items
Day 4 - insanely large grocery bill because I was let loose in a bulk purchase store like Costco.
Day 5 - figure out how to build dividers for freezer to keep everything organized.

Yes, I realize how insane this sounds to have planned out, but the over-organized in me can't help it. I wonder if there are over-organized anonymous meetings I can join. :)


Valentine's Sugar Cookies

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For the past two weeks or so my Google Reader has been full of cupcakes, cakes, chocolate mousse, cookies and various other Valentine's Day desserts. I was really disappointed that I have so little time with my college classes that I wouldn't be able to make anything.

Tonight I came home to a sparkling clean apartment, roses in a vase and a Valentine's Day card courtesy of my lovely husband. Now I had about 2 hours of extra time that I could do anything I wanted with. I could have spent it working on my college classes, but that didn't seem nearly as much fun. So I headed on over to the grocery store, picked up all of the usual groceries and then picked up the ingredients for sugar cookies and royal icing.

Okay, well that's not completely true. I picked up a package of cookie dough and some powdered sugar. Note to self: before planning to make red and white cookies, make sure you have enough red coloring. So I ended up with pink and white cookies, but whatever.

Royal icing is definitely one of the hardest things that I've ever made. Some recipes call for meringue powder and others call for egg whites. The amount of powdered sugar and water or milk varies from each recipe. I didn't have much success with the recipe that I used before, so I decided to try a new one out.

I used this recipe from Bake at 350. I don't believe I'll try another recipe. Here's the cookies:



Granted, I still need a ton of experience with piping and flooding with the icing. My #1 tip was disagreeing with me, I had misplaced my #3 so that left me with #5. Its definitely too large of a tip to do any small details, but it worked well enough. I can never get the right consistency for flooding the icing. It either ends up too watery or still to thick to spread. But at least I got the icing right!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Beef au jus Sandwiches

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A few weeks ago when I made french onion soup Tom had commented that it would be the perfect dip for a beef au jus sandwich. I had to agree.

A long time ago Tom wanted au jus sandwiches and I found a Rachael Ray recipe on Food Network. I made it, but I wasn't impressed. It tasted like I was eating lunch meat roast beef dipped in overly salty beef broth. This was definitely not the case with this recipe.


Beef Au Jus Sandwiches
Source: a Cookaholic Wife Creation
Yield: 5 sandwiches
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Ingredients:
    • 4 tbs. unsalted butter
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 2 cups beef broth
    • 2 tbs. all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. thyme
    • 1/2 cup red wine
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 lb. deli roast beef
    • 5 sub rolls
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic and bay leaf and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly caramelized.
2. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Let the wine reduce and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the bay leaf.
3. Add the flour and whisk until there are no flour clumps and it has coated the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beef broth and bring back to a simmer.
4. Separate the slices of roast beef and add to the pan. Stir until each piece is coated in the juice.
5. Pile the meat on the roll and top with a drizzle of juice. Spoon extra juice into a bowl to serve with the sandwiches.

Yum! This was pretty fast and easy to make and I'm sure it will show up on my weekly meal plan in the near future.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

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When I was a kid, we didn't eat a lot of soup. There was chicken noodle, vegetable, beef and vegetable and occasionally tomato if you were having grilled cheese. Cream of mushroom soup came in a can from Campbell's and was used in a chicken dish or in green bean casserole. Luckily, I've evolved.

I love soup, especially in the winter. There's nothing better than a big ole pot o' soup simmering away on the stove while the temperatures are in the teen's or below outside.


Cream of Mushroom Soup
Source: Joelen's Culinary Adventures adapted from Ina Garten
Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 8 oz. portobello mushrooms, diced
    • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, diced
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 cup fat-free half and half
    • 1 tsp. thyme
    • 1 tbsp. parsley
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes or until they are soft. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute more.
2. Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken broth, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the heavy cream, half and half and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Heat through but do not bring to a boil.

The recipe calls for leeks and fresh herbs. Unfortunately, none of the grocery stores up here carry leeks and they were out of both thyme and parsley! I plan on attempting to grow my own herbs on the balcony this spring. We'll see what happens!

Tom and I both thought the soup was delicious. It was brothier than the canned kind but still had a good hearty flavor. I can't wait to make this again!

Minestrone Soup

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A couple of years ago a friend of mine lost a ton of weight. I asked her what she was doing and she told me about the Abs Diet. That night, I went online and ordered the books. Five days later, I started the diet. One of the meals the Abs Diet suggested was minestrone soup. I never had it before, so I picked up a can of low sodium minestrone at the store the following week.

I ate it a lot while I was on the diet but I always thought it would taste so much better if the beans weren't so hard. I figured it was just because it was canned soup. I finally got around to making it on my own.


Minestrone Soup
Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman 
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 zucchini, cubed
    • 1 squash, cubed
    • 8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
    • 2 carrots, peeled and coined
    • 2 stalks celery, chopped
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 can corn, drained
    • 6 oz. green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 1 can canellini beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
    • 1 cup small pasta shells, uncooked
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the carrots, celery and onion for 5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add the corn, green beans, beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes more.
4. Add the pasta shells and cook for 5 more minutes. Then add the zucchini, squash and mushrooms and cook for 5-10 minutes more or until all of the vegetables are soft and heated through.

I'm really glad I tasted this recipe before putting it into containers and in the fridge. I had to adjust the salt and pepper a bit but the soup had a good flavor. Unfortunately, this was not the soup to make ahead of time and refrigerate. The pasta and vegetables sucked up all of the chicken broth. I needed to add almost 2 cups to get it back to soup consistency when I reheated it. The other problem was that all of the vegetables aside from the carrots became mushy.

I'll definitely try making minestrone soup again, but I won't cook it ahead of time. :)

Crock Pot Chicken Quesdillas

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The first time I had a quesadilla I was about 8 or 9 years old, sitting on cracked vinyl seats in a booth at a Friendly's restaurant. I was with my friend Cassidy and her mom. I think it was Cass who ordered the quesadilla. I had never heard of one before and my picky childhood self would not voluntarily order something I hadn't tried before.

I remember when the waitress sat down the plate. A huge flour tortilla with grill marks, cut like a pizza and orange cheese oozing out the sides with two small cups of salsa and sour cream on the side. Honestly, I was still a bit hesitant. I don't know if it was Cass or her mom that told me to try it, but I did. And I believe that was the moment I realized I was in love with cheese.


Crock Pot Chicken Quesadillas
Source: A Cookaholic Wife creation
Yield: 5-6 quesadillas
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Ingredients:
    • 1 package (10 count) tortilla shells
    • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 10 oz. jar salsa
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1/4 cup water
    • sour cream for topping

Directions:
1. Place the two chicken breasts in the crock pot and cover with half of the jar of salsa. Add 1/4 cup of water and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until the chicken falls apart when pierced with a fork.
2. Coat a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and place over medium heat.
3. Spoon some of the chicken mixture (about 4 tbs.) onto one tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and top with another tortilla shell.
4. Place the quesadilla in the pan and cook for 60-90 seconds on each side.
5. Cut into slices and serve with sour cream and additional salsa for dipping.
6. Repeat with remaining tortilla shells. 

Since the crock pot does most of the work for you, this is really easy to put together on a busy weeknight after work. Adding the salsa was a great way to get flavor into the chicken.  Next time I think I'll heat each tortilla in the skillet for 30-45 seconds before putting anything on it. Once cut, the quesadillas were a bit flimsy and made it difficult to dip in sour cream.
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