Weekly Menu 9/30 - 9/4

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It's been an interesting weekend. Let's start off with Friday.

I took off work Friday so I had the entire day to prepare for the party on Saturday. But somehow that kinda morphed into a shopping trip where I bought a ton of new sweaters from H&M, returned a dress from JC Penney and found really cute placemats and napkins, and picked up a new duvet at Target. So in between all of that shopping, I did manage to prepare the majority of the food and get the apartment cleaned.

But that didn't mean I was completely exhausted. Because I was. I didn't realize how heavy groceries are until you need to carry them in yourself. Up three flights of steps. And because you went a little shop-happy, making 9 trips to and from your car.

So, about that party. Initially it was a party for my family (mostly from the eastern shore) to come up and eat since neither of us make the trek in either direction to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas together. Well, everyone but my family that lives around me currently ended up canceling. But since I had food and intended to have a party, I just changed up the menu and invited my friends.

The initial party menu was comprised of mainly foods that I had never made before, which would have probably been a week-full of new recipes. But when the guest list changed, I decided to change the menu as well to cater to tastes, and well...I might as well be honest, to make it easier on myself. I do have a couple new recipes from the party that I'll be able to share with you though.

Then we have this little issue of the menu this week. I decided I was going to try a diet that comes along with the new workout dvd's that I bought. It's definitely not food that Tom is going to eat so for the most part he is going to fend for himself this week. I'm sure its going to be quite easy on my end to shove salad after salad down my throat while he's eating fun stuff like pizza and burgers, but I'd like to see if this diet will jumpstart my my weight loss, since nothing else appears to be doing so.

If I make it through the 6 days of this diet, I will share the meals and the results with you. If not, we'll just pretend that it never happened, okay? :-)

There are leftovers from the party that he can have tonight, enchiladas in the freezer, and one of the dinners in my diet is steamed shrimp and steamed sugar snap peas so at least three nights he'll have dinner.


Key Lime Pie

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Ever since we started grocery shopping at Wegman's, I've kept a mental inventory of ingredients I can find there that I can't find in any other grocery stores in our area.

Most of these ingredients are in the produce section and include things like baby bok choy, chinese noodles, purple potatoes, jimaca, leeks and key limes.

I've done some searching for recipes using these ingredients and this time, the key limes won out. I've never had key lime pie before. I know they sell bottled key lime juice and that key limes are grown in Florida, hence Key West and all that good stuff. I also remember an episode of Dexter where a coworker of his was dying and was talking about the perfect key lime pie.

I was a bit shocked to find just how simple a recipe for key lime pie is. Key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, crust, sour cream/powdered sugar topping. Really? I guess I was thinking more along the lines of a meringue that required a bit more dedication and work.

Our pantry is stuffed to the gills at the moment so not to chance an avalanche of foods falling on me if I added a box of graham crackers, so I cheated and purchased an already prepared reduced-fat graham cracker crust.



Key Lime Pie
Source: Emeril Lagasse
Servings: 9" pie
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Ingredients:
    • 1 9" prepared graham cracker crust
    • 1 cup key lime juice
    • 2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
    • zest of 1 lime, divided

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Bake the prepared pie crust for 5 minutes then let cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and half of the lime zest.
4. Once the crust has cooled, pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then place in the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
5. Whisk the Greek yogurt and powdered sugar together. Spread over the pie using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining lime zest. Serve cold.



Aside from cheating on the pie crust, I decided to cut down on the calories a bit and used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I pretty much always make that substitution in every recipe because I just can't taste the difference.

Since I've never had key lime pie, I assume its supposed to be mouth-puckeringly good. Which this is. However, since I started eating healthier and cutting back on sugar dramatically, even with the tartness of the limes, this was much to sweet for me to eat more than a few bites of a tiny, tiny slice. Oh well, more for Tom and my coworkers. :-)

Emeril's Sloppy Joes

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Sloppy Joe sandwiches aren't something I'm a huge fan of, but Tom loves them. They're super easy to make, especially if using sauce from a can, which might be part of the reason why I don't like them very much. I know most people "doctor" up the canned varieties by adding fresh sauteed onion and green pepper and some brown sugar, but even with those additions, it still never appealed to me all that much.

I think I've mentioned before that Tom is perfectly happy with eating the same things pretty much every week, right? Well, he used to ask me to "make something normal" but I've noticed recently he gave up on that. Maybe its because I'm not asking him for suggestions anymore or maybe he just realized its that the weekly menu is always going to have more new than old items now that he doesn't even see the point in telling me. But after a few weeks of subjecting him to foods where he raises his eyebrows at the combinations or scrunches up his face at the tastes, I feel that its only fair to toss in an "old" recipe every now and then, which is what lead to these sloppy joes.

I couldn't bring myself to make them with a can though. I figured maybe making them from scratch would be a bit more appealing to me.



Sloppy Joes
Source: Emeril 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 1 cup onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (90%)
    • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
    • 1 cup tomato sauce
    • 1/2 cup beef broth
    • 2 tsp. hot sauce
    • 6 hamburger buns
    • 6 slices American cheese (optional)
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, green pepper and onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
2. Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking it up until it is browned. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, tomato sauce, beef broth and hot sauce to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it has thickened.
4. Meanwhile, lightly toast the hamburger buns.
5. Spoon the sloppy joe mixture onto the buns and add a slice of cheese if desired. Serve hot.

I will admit, it was MUCH tastier to have a homemade version of this. I'd actually eat it as leftovers which is really saying something for this recipe.

Stuffed Zucchini

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Are you still sick of zucchini? Almost everyone I know has an overabundance of zucchini in the summer either from their out of control garden or a CSA they participate in. I figured I'd wait a while before posting this recipe just in case you were one of those people thinking "I'm going to cry if I see a zucchini ever again!"

I hope, however, that I don't make you cry seeing this recipe. It's rather tasty and pretty inventive so hopefully its not something that you've had yet this year.



Stuffed Zucchini
Source: Clean Eating, August/September 2011
Servings: 2
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Ingredients:
    • 1 zucchini, halved with seeds and pulp removed
    • 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 small onion, diced
    • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
    • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. bread crumbs
    • 1 tsp. Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-heat. Add the garlic, onion and mushrooms and cook for 7-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft.
3. Remove from the heat and transfer the mushroom mixture to a bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Toss until combined.
4. Spoon the mixture into the center of the zucchini. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

I didn't even bother making enough of this for Tom to try it. Every time I even pick up a zucchini in the grocery store he eyes it warily and asks me what I'm going to make with it. My standard response has become "nothing for you".

I thought these were great and much more filling than I expected.  

Chicken Focaccia Sandwiches

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Part of the reason behind redoing the focaccia bread recipe was so I could make this sandwich. For some reason, its really hard to find focaccia bread in the bakeries around here. So if I want a focaccia bread sandwich, I better make my own bread.

But if I'm going to make the bread from scratch, I want a relatively simple recipe that I can use with it. Granted, making bread really isn't all that much work if you have a stand mixer and dough hook, but it is somewhat time consuming.



Chicken Focaccia Sandwich
Inspired by: Better Homes and Gardens, Quick-Fix Family Favorites
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 tbsp. dried Italian seasonings
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 7 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
    • 4 slices fresh mozarella
    • 4 slices focaccia bread, homemade or store-bought
    • olive oil
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season the chicken with the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper. Place into a ziplock bag and drizzle olive oil in. Seal the bag and toss to coat the chicken.
3. In a small bowl add the mayonnaise and basil leaves. Stir until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. Toss the cooked chicken in a bowl with the sliced red peppers. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Slice each piece of focaccia bread in half. Spread the basil-mayo on both sides of the bread. Add the chicken and red pepper mixture to one slice. Add the mozzarella to the other. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
6. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake open-faced for 5 minutes or until the mozzarella has melted. Remove from the oven and place one slice of the bread on the other, creating a sandwich. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes more.



I really, really liked this sandwich. The fresh flavors of the basil paired really nicely with the chicken and roasted red peppers. And nothing is better than eating a sandwich on fresh homemade bread!

Focaccia bread

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Recipe Remake: I found a delicious looking recipe for a chicken sandwich on focaccia bread and knew it was about time to remake this recipe. I followed the same directions, I just choose to add in some caramelized onions for extra flavor. And I updated the picture, of course. 

The original recipe posted on 9/12/10. I hope you enjoy! 

Original: 
Tom is away for his bachelor party and two of my friends were supposed to come visit and go to a local orchard with me. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning to a cold, cloudy, drizzling day. My friends decided it wasn't worth the trip so I needed to find something to do today. I had done all of my cleaning yesterday in anticipation of company.

For my bridal shower I received a cookbook called The Food and the Music: Italian. When I had originally flipped through it, Tom asked me when I was going to make bread. I've never made bread before and every recipe I've made containing yeast hasn't went over too well, but I figured I'd do it eventually.

Eventually ended up being today. The recipe is actually black olive foccacia but I think olives are gross so I omitted them. It wasn't until I was pulling the bread out of the oven did I realize that I could have added herbs to make it a bit better. Oh well, next time.

Focaccia Bread
Source: The Food and the Music: Italian
Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients:
    • scant 4 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 1 tbs. salt
    • 2 tsp. dry active yeast
    • 1 1/2 cups tepid water
    • 6 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
    • 1 tsp. sea salt

Directions:
1. The first thing I needed to do was google scant and tepid in relation to cooking. Scant means not completely full cups. Tepid means a combination of boiling and cold water.
2. Boil 1/2 cup water.
3. Sift together the flour and the salt. Stir in the yeast.
4. Combine 1 cup cold water with the boiling water. Pour over the flour. Add two tbs. olive oil. Mix together until a soft dough forms.
5. On a lightly floured surface, need the dough for 5-10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a warmed bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
6. Brush two cookie sheets with oil. Punch the dough to remove all of the air bubbles. Knead for 1 minute more.
7. Divide the dough into two pieces and shape into approximately 11x9 inch ovals. Place on the cookie sheets.
8. Oil plastic wrap and place over the dough. Let stand for 1 hour or until the dough is puffy.
9. Preheat the oven to 400. Press your fingers into the dough to make dimples and drizzle 2 more tbs. of olive oil over the dough. Season with sea salt. (The recipe called for rock salt but none of the grocery stores around me carry it.)
10. Bake the dough for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden . Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and cover with a cloth to give a soft crust. Cut into slices.

For my first attempts at making bread, I thought this turned out rather well. I ate 3 slices of it, so it couldn't be bad. I think it needed more salt and would have probably been better with some other herbs. It was also a bit hard but I think thats because I misread the clock in the first hour and ended up moving on to step 6 about 25 minutes too early.


Weekly Menu 9/23 - 9/27

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It's a late post for me this week. For the past 5 months or so I've been up by at least 7 am every day on the weekend. This morning, I woke up at 5:30 to feed the cats and realized I had a slight headache. I decided that working out could wait and promptly went back to sleep until 9:30 AM. It was glorious.

Mother Nature hasn't figured out what season it is yet. Officially, it is fall but the temperatures aren't necessarily in line with that statement. Last week and the week before, we had some unseasonably cold days for what was still considered summer. Then yesterday it was in the low 80's. And today it's not even going to hit 70.

Which has made menu planning a bit difficult. I don't want a cold dish on a cold day and I don't want a hot dish on a hot day. So for the next couple of weeks or however long it takes for Mother Nature to get her temperatures in order with her seasons, the meal selected for each day will definitely be left up to the weather.

Sunday - Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Shrimp and Garlic Toast

Monday - Chicken Enchiladas

Tuesday - Roasted Chile Verde with Pork and Rice

Wednesday - Sesame Crusted Beef with Pineapple Mango Salsa and Sugar Snap Peas

Thursday - Asian Marinated Chicken with Corn and Basil Faux-Fried Rice

Last week I didn't end up making the brown butter sugar cookies. I hope I get a chance to make them today, but we'll see.

For lunches I plan on having the enchiladas from Monday sans the chicken and for breakfast I'm having an egg, Canadian bacon and Swiss cheese on a honey wheat English muffin.  


California Roll Burgers

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I did not know what to think when these burgers showed up in my reader. Sushi on a burger? How does that work? I couldn't imagine what it would taste like but that obviously didn't stop me. If you haven't noticed, I've been on a bit of a burger mission, trying out a ton of different burgers in the past few months.

A burger is such a simple idea that its just too much fun to try out different ingredients to make it interesting. Ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. Different breads, cheeses, seasonings, or toppings. The possibilities are really endless. So I couldn't pass up this combination.



California Roll Burger
Source: Pink Parsley, adapted from Use Real Butter
Servings: 4 burgers
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Ingredients:
    Burger:
    • 1 lb. lean ground beef
    • 1 tsp. fish sauce
    • salt and pepper 
    Crab:
    • 4 oz. crab meat, shells and cartilage removed
    • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
    • 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
    Mayonnaise:
    • 1 tsp. wasabi powder
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    Toppings:
    • lettuce, torn
    • tomato slices
    • avocado slices
    • 1/2 sheet nori, thinly sliced
    • 4 burger rolls
    • Sriracha sauce

    Directions:
    1. Combine the ground beef and fish sauce together and form into 4 patties. Season each with salt and pepper. Place on a plate and refrigerate until ready to use.
    2. In a small bowl, stir the mayonnaise and soy sauce together. Fold in the crab meat and refrigerate until ready to use.
    3. In another small bowl, stir together the wasabi powder and mayonnaise, adjusting to your taste. Also refrigerate until ready to use.
    4. Preheat your grill. Grill the burgers for 5 minutes, flip over and grill another 2-5 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
    5. Brush the burger rolls with butter or olive oil and grill for 1-2 minutes or until lightly golden.
    6. Spread the wasabi mayonnaise on both sides of the bun. Assemble the burger starting with lettuce and tomato on the bottom half of the bun, topped with the burger. Place a large spoonful of the crab mixture on top of the burger and then layer with avocado slices and nori strips. Drizzle with Sriracha sauce and top with the other half of the burger bun.

    I won't lie, I was incredibly hesitant to taste this. First, I was completely shocked at just how much it smelled like a California roll you'd get from your local sushi shop. Then I opened my mouth as wide as it would go, squished down the burger as much as possible and took a huge bite.

    I was shocked that it tasted exactly like a California roll (sans rice) on top of a burger. I mean, I'm sure that is exactly what its supposed to taste like, hence the name, but I just wasn't expecting the flavors to be so right on. Would you believe the ground beef loving carnivore wasn't overly impressed by this? I didn't! But apparently he likes his burgers and sushi served separately. Oh well, more for me! :)


Improv Challenge: Zucchini Parmesan Crisps with Sriracha-Brown Sugar Dipping Sauce

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Usually before an Improv Challenge I spent a lot of time online looking at different recipes before I decide what to make with the chosen ingredients. Sometimes I go through my cookbooks as well and other times I even consult Tom for his suggestions. Not this time. I immediately knew what I wanted to make for this month's Improv Challenge of zucchini and brown sugar.

Okay, fine. I'm exaggerating a little bit. I initially intended to make zucchini fries, but since I already made them, it was just too perfect to find Zucchini Parmesan Crisps in my Reader not too long ago. They're not all that different than my fries recipe which is why this worked out so well.



Zucchini Parmesan Crisps 
Barely Adapted from: Blissfully Delicious, adapted from Ellie Krieger
Servings: 2
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Ingredients:
    • 1 zucchini
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
    • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tsp. brown sugar
    • salt and pepper 
    • cooking spray
    • dipping sauce, *see below 

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds. Place in a bowl, drizzle olive oil over and toss until coated.
3. In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Dip each zucchini round into the mixture and toss to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining zucchini rounds.
4. Bake for 15 minutes then flip over. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until the zucchini are browned and crisp.

Sriracha-Brown Sugar Dipping Sauce
Source: A Cookaholic Wife creation 
Servings: 2 tbsp.

Ingredients:
    • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
    • 1 tsp. brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. Sriracha 

Directions:
1. Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.


The brown sugar in the breadcrumb mixture provides just the slightest hint of sweetness to the zucchini and then the brown sugar flavor really pairs nicely with the Sriracha in the dipping sauce. However, these didn't taste anything like zucchini at all. I have no idea what they tasted like though. But there was an amazing breakthrough...

Tom asked to try one. Then he had A SECOND one. Since he abhors zucchini, I thought those two sentences that the magnitude of the event required bolding and caps.

 

Prosciutto Egg Cups

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I love prosciutto. I may have told this story before, I'm not sure. But the first time I have prosciutto was at my aunt's house. She served it minced over top of fresh honeydew melon. The sweet and salty combination was absolutely incredible.

Practically every time that we would visit her after eating it the first time, I'd request to have it again. I never made it at home though. It's kind of like a certain something that you only eat when you are on vacation. Sure, you could probably recreate it at home or find somewhere that sells it, but there is just something different, special, magical about only eating it at certain times of the year that you refrain from doing so. Which only makes it all the more special when you can finally have it again.

 I've had this recipe in my to-make binder for quite some time. I always intended to make it but ended up using the prosciutto on something else. Okay, fine. I'm lying. I just ate it by the slice. Either way, it had been a while since I had prosciutto and I was tired of muffins for breakfast each week.



Prosciutto Egg Cups
Source: Every Little Thing, adapted from From Arepas to Zwetschgen
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 6 slices prosciutto
    • shredded mozzarella cheese
    • Italian seasoning
    • 6 large eggs
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Liberally spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Arrange each slice of prosciutto in the muffin tin, covering the bottom and coming up the sides. Add a pinch of so of the mozzarella cheese and a dash of the Italian seasoning.
3. Crack an egg into each muffin cup and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Bake for 15-18 minutes. 15 minutes will result in a semi-runny egg and 18 minutes will result in a fully cooked egg.
5. Run a butter knife around the edge of each cup and using two forks, gently remove from the muffin pan. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. 

I baked these for 15 minutes because I didn't want to overcook them, knowing I'd need to microwave them each morning. I made a few extras so we could try these out. Oh boy are they tasty. The prosciutto becomes even saltier when baked and provides this perfect little pocket for the egg and cheese.

This would be a perfect breakfast recipe for when you have some house guests. It whips together quickly in just a matter of minutes and you can easily pop them in the microwave to adjust for everyone's cooking preferences.

Linked up:
Pin It Wednesday @ Growing Up Gabel

Turkey Avocado BLT Sandwich

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I've been trying to eat healthier recently and have been looking for meals that are not only healthy, but will be filling enough to not leave me wanting snacks or junk food later on.

One of the recipes from The Abs Diet is a turkey blt sandwich served on a tortilla. I decided to take it on step further and add avocado to the sandwich. I also opted for honey wheat bread instead of a tortilla since it's harder to find whole wheat tortillas around here recently. I don't know what made me think to add avocado to this sandwich. Avocado was never something that I ate growing up and I'm not even sure I knew what guacamole was until I was in my late teen's, but recently I've been interested in adding avocados to my dishes.



Turkey Avocado BLT Sandwich
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:
    • 2 slices honey wheat bread (Stroehmann's)
    • 3 slices thin-sliced deli turkey (Oscar Mayer)
    • 3 slices avocado
    • 1 large lettuce leaf
    • 1 slice tomato
    • 1 slice bacon, cooked (Wegman's, lower sodium/fat)
    • 1 tsp. mayonnaise  (Kraft)
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Toast the bread. Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread and top with the remaining ingredients. Season the tomato slice with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Directions for a sandwich seem kind of Captain Obvious, but I figure I may as well include them anyway. I included the brand names of the ingredients I used, because when I entered the sandwich into My Fitness Pal, it told me the sandwich is only 224 calories with 12 grams of protein. I've had this sandwich for lunch every day for the week along with some baby carrots and I'm stuffed until dinner time. This is not something that usually happens.

Baked Churros

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Two years ago today, I was getting married. Well, unless you are reading this at a couple minutes past 6 PM, I wasn't truly getting married, but it was at least my wedding day. It's crazy to think how quickly these two years went by.

Happy Anniversary, honey. I love you! 

My anniversary, or at least the time that has gone by made me realize that I still have quite a few recipes to cross off my 28 before 28 list. October 10th will be the halfway point to my 28th birthday so I really need to get a move on. 

I won't lie to you, I'm incredibly hesitant to fry anything on a gas stove. Yes, I know tons of people do it all of the time, but I still haven't really adjusted back to having an electric stove for over two years. And as strange as it may seem to practically everyone, I really, really miss my trusty electric stove. We got along so well...

So when I was reviewing the list of recipes I still needed to make and my eyes landed on churros, I immediately went off to search and see if there was a baked version. I assumed there was, not everyone is a fan of fried foods, so I figured it was out there somewhere. 
Baked Churros
Servings: approximately 2 dozen 4" long churros

Ingredients:
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup purpose flour
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
    • cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.  In a heavy medium-sized saucepan, combine the water, butter and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
2. Remove from the heat and add the flour. Stir with a rubber spatula until combined and the mixture resembles mashed potatoes. 
3. Add one egg to the pan and stir constantly until it is absorbed and the mixture again resembles mashed potatoes. Repeat with the two remaining eggs then stir in the vanilla. 
4. Transfer the mixture to a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Spray two large cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Fill a small bowl with water. 
5. Squeeze the pastry bag and pipe 4" long churros. Dip your fingers into the water to create an even break between churros. 
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Place the cinnamon sugar mixture into a deep bowl. 
7. Remove the churros from the oven and spray with the cooking spray. Toss the churros in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a wire rack to let the excess cinnamon sugar fall off. Serve hot. 



Yum! These were light and fluffy and had the perfect amount of cinnamon sugary goodness in each bite. I opted not to make a chocolate or caramel dipping sauce for these, just to keep the calorie amount down. Personally, I didn't think a dipping sauce was necessary at all. These churros were delicious on their own.

Link Ups:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Mom's Crazy Cooking, Mangia Monday's, Sweet Sharing Mondays, Watch out Martha and Mouthwatering Monday's 


Weekly Menu 9/16 - 9/19

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What a weekend!

First, Blogger apparently made some changes recently which means whether you all can see it or not, I can only type in Times New Roman and in a smaller font than usual. While it's not that big of a deal, I at least prefer a heads up. Also, all of my posts say 'Cookaholic Wife' next to them which apparently means there is some option or to post as different people.

Second, did I ever mention I had the world's crappiest cell phone? Last September I made the choice to go with a no-contract carrier to save money. My brother-in-law suggested in and said he had no problems with his phone. I, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. Not exaggerating, my phone worked .5 in 10 times. I could rarely use apps without them freezing the phone entirely. Turning off the phone and restarting the battery did nothing. Then there was the little issue of signal. Those coverage maps are liars. Well, that and the phone just sucked. I didn't have signal, anywhere. Or if I had signal, the second I went to make a call or connect to the internet, it was gone. So I basically paid a reduced rate for a year to have a non-working cell phone.

I'm guessing you live under a rock (and if so, probably don't read this blog) if you somehow missed that Apple released the iPhone 5 last Wednesday. They also reduced the price of the 4s to only $99 if you purchased it online. Which means on Thursday I ordered two 4s models (Tom needed a phone too) and paid to have them send overnight. Friday I stalked the FedEx website and then the truck until the phones arrived. Where I then promptly held my breath as AT&T transferred over my number from the previous carrier. See, I've had my cell phone number since high school. It was either 2001 or 2002 when I changed my number to my current one and after a decade, it just seems wrong to change your number. Luckily, all went well and I still have the same number.

So if you knew me in high school and I signed your yearbook with my cell number, you could still contact me. Crazy, huh? Anyway, I spent the rest of the day figuring out the phone and downloading all kinds of apps. Now I'm patiently waiting for AT&T to update my bill online to see just how much data I've used. To be honest, I'm kind of scared.

Sheesh. Four paragraphs and I haven't even told you about Saturday yet. If you're not interested in what goes on in my life, that's totally okay and I'll just provide you with this week's menu now. If you are interested (or are just super bored and need something to read), I'll share my Saturday adventures with you after the menu.

Sunday - Grilled Flank Steak with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, Oven-Roasted Potatoes and Corn 

Monday - Out to dinner for our 2 Year Anniversary!!!

Tuesday - Asian Pork and Mushrooms in the Crock Pot

Wednesday - Pumpkin Ravioli (it got bumped last week)

Thursday - Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice 

Breakfast this week: pumpkin banana nut bread
Lunches this week: balsamic chicken and peppers
Desserts: brown butter chocolate chip cookies

And now for the adventures of Saturday. As I stated above, Monday is our two year anniversary. I can't believe it's been two years already. Time is really flying by. Which apparently means people should make comments about how I should be popping out children rather quickly now. Meh. I'm not even going to go there.

Anyway, we couldn't decide where/what we wanted to do for our anniversary but we had narrowed it down to sushi and steak. Then I decided why not have both? So yesterday we made plans to go to the ever wonderful Edo Sushi in Timonium. If you are within 2 hours of any Edo Sushi location, I highly suggest that you make the trip there. There sushi is to-die-for.

You know how some places skimp on their standard rolls like California and Philly? Not Edo. Their standard $3 and $4 rolls are just as good and made with just as much care as the more expensive specialty rolls.

So we started off our Saturday by going to the grocery store. Giant had some amazing deals that I also had coupons for and I can't pass up double the savings. First we stopped in the AT&T store and Tom picked out an iPhone case. Then while I did the grocery shopping, he got his hair cut and met me in Giant just in time to pick out ice cream. We dropped off the groceries at home and headed out to Edo.

We hadn't been there in at least two years and it was more than worth the wait. After gorging ourselves on more sushi than any sane person should, we stopped at Petco and picked up a new scratching post for the cats. Tom also got the great idea that he wanted to buy a harness and leash for Gidget because she is desperate to escape our apartment. While I don't think this is going to work, I went along with the purchase.

After giving the cats their new post and learning Gidget is so large (she's 15 lbs.) she can't wear a harness made for a small dog, we used Siri to find a nail salon nearby. We got pedicures and I got the shellac/gel stuff on my nails. And got my eyebrows waxed which was much needed. While waiting, I started to type out this post because of course there is a Blogger app, but unfortunately, it comes with no formatting what so ever. Boo!



Hey Apple, you should work on that! I'd love to be able to do a fully formatted post from my phone and schedule it in advance.

I did however, just update this post to include the pic of my dark purple shellac nails from my phone. Neat!

Hope you had an amazing weekend! 

Pork Tenderloin Salad with Grilled Nectarines

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I love the taste of grilled fruit. I think it brings out the natural sweetness in the fruits better than any other way to prepare it. Nectarines aren't fruits that I tend to eat on a regular basis. I like them, but I'm just not someone who can bite into a nectarine and eat it. Same goes for peaches, bananas, apples, etc.

I've been on a pork-finding recipe spree recently. I blame it on Cooking Light magazine. Not that its a bad thing at all, but now I finally have a ton of choices when choosing dinners for the week. And definitely not bad considering I picked up a huge pork tenderloin for $16 that I was able to turn into 4 regular sized tenderloins.



Pork Tenderloin Salad with Grilled Nectarines
Source: Cooking Light, July 2012
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 - 1/2 cups wild rice (Zatarian's)
    • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed
    • 2 nectarines, halved and pitted
    • 3 cups mixed greens
    • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced 
    • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 3 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. marjoram
    • 1 tsp. thyme
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat a grill. Prepare wild rice according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, marjoram and thyme together in a dish. Pour half into another dish.
3. Slice the pork into 1/2" rounds. Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Use one portion of the marinade to brush over both sides of the pork.
4. Place the pork and nectarines on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the pork reaches your desired doneness.
5. Toss the remaining marinade over the mixed greens. Top the mixed greens with the pork, nectarines and red onions. Serve with the wild rice on the side.



Knowing Tom's aversion to lettuce of all forms, I added wild rice to this meal and served his sans lettuce. I changed up the preparation of the recipe as well, by not cooking the tenderloin whole and then slicing just to save on grilling time, and by using the whole marinade on the pork, not just the maple syrup.

I thought this was great. It was a very light but filling meal. I had a bit of trouble getting the nectarines to get the proper grill marks but the flavor was still there. Of course Tom's first comment was "I like the rice..." Great honey, I pick up a box of wild rice you just add water and a seasoning packet to and you find that the best part of the meal. ::sigh::
 

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

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Corn Ice Cream. Ice cream made with corn. On the cob. That is what went through my head when I started seeing all of these corn recipes in my cooking magazines. I'm a fan of the unusual but this is one I wouldn't have thought of on my own.

I hemmed and hawed for quite some time before finally deciding to make this. I even started to talk myself out of it, assuming that I would be the only one to eat it and since I'm on a huge calorie-counting exercise every morning (5 days in a row, thank you very much!) kick, I didn't want to be stuck with 4 cups of ice cream, even if it was only 237 calories per half cup. Because really, who eats ice cream in half cup servings?

Oh, you do? Well more power to you then. I'm not one of those people. So I decided to cut this recipe in half.



Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Source: Cooking Light, August 2012
Servings: approx. 2 cups
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Ingredients:
    • 2 ears corn on the cob, shucked
    • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/8 tsp. salt 
    • 1/2 cup half-and-half
    • 3 egg yolks

Directions:
1. Cut corn kernels from the cob. Place the corn kernels and 3/4 cup of milk into a blender and puree until smooth.
2. Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, sugar, salt and corn cobs. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches 180 degrees and small bubbles form around the edges. Do NOT boil.
3. Remove from the heat. Let sit for one hour. Discard the corn cobs.
4. Heat the saucepan again over medium-high heat until it reaches 180 degrees. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks into the half-and-half. Slowly pour the half-and-half mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly with a whisk.
5. Slowly pour the rest of the half-and-half mixture into the saucepan until it reaches 160 degrees, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
6. Place a mesh sieve over a container with a lid. Pour the mixture through, pressing with a spoon and discarding any solids. Place the lid over the container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but up to overnight.
7. Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and process according to directions.


Italian Sausages with Green Pepper & Onion

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I'm pretty sure I've said it before that I'm not really a fan of sausage. Tom finds this incredibly hard to believe since just about every culture has their own form of a sausage and if all of those people have it, obviously it should be liked by everyone.

I don't necessarily dislike it, but if its on the menu with something else, I'm going for the something else first. However, if he chooses to pick up a package of Italian sausages at the grocery store, I will eat them. For a while we were eating them just with Sriracha sauce which is incredibly delicious but can get boring after a bit.

One afternoon when Tom was grilling them for lunches I happened to look in the fridge and noticed that we had half of a leftover green pepper. I figured it was a good of time as any to saute up some green pepper and onions and put it on the Italian sausage.



Italian Sausage with Green Pepper and Onion
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 2
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Ingredients:
    • 2 Italian sausages, grilled
    • 1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 hot dog/sub rolls
    • salt and pepper 
    • 1 tsp. olive oil

    Directions:
    1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
    2. Place the Italian sausage on the hot dog/sub roll and top with peppers and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

    I realize this is a very, very basic version of sausages and peppers, but it was what I had available. I confess, I did still add some Sriracha to this, but the peppers and onions provided a nice slight crunch that made me at least a little more interested in eating sausage. 

Recipe ReMake: Mango Habanero Chicken Sandwich

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I posted this recipe the first time on May 15th, 2010. I made this recipe not too long ago and decided to revise the recipe and take a much better picture. 

Original: About a month ago Tom and I randomly decided to order subs from Domino's. Living in the middle of no where, I didn't even know that we had a Domino's or that they delivered. Luckily for us, they did. I looked at their menu online and instantly decided that I wanted the Mango Habanero Chicken Sandwich. I love spicy foods and thought this would be awesome. It was. Unbelievably awesome. It had that right amount of spice that makes your lips tingle and just enough sweetness that you could keep eating it. I knew that I had to recreate this sandwich.


Mango Habanero Chicken Sandwiches
Inspired by: Dominos Pizza
Servings: 3
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Ingredients:
    • 3 chicken cutlets or tenderloins
    • 1 large jalapeno pepper
    • 1/4 cup shredded pineapple 
    • 3-4 tbsp. Mango Habanero hot sauce
    • 6 slices provolone cheese (Sargento)
    • 3 sub rolls 

    Directions:
    1. Place the jalapeno pepper in a small pot with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and set the jalapeno pepper aside to cool.   
    2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
    3. Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through.
    4. Shred the chicken or cut into bite sizes pieces. Place two slices of provolone cheese on each sub roll. Place the rolls on the baking sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the rolls are lightly toasted.
    5. Meanwhile, slice the jalapeno pepper into thin rings, removing the membrane and seeds if you want to reduce the heat.
    6. Layer each sub roll with chicken, shredded pineapple and jalapeno rings. Drizzle the hot sauce over the subs and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

    These were just as good as I remembered the first time, maybe even better. I still need to create my own mango habanero hot sauce but I can never seem to find ripe mangos and habaneros in the grocery store on the same weeks. I'm starting to think its a conspiracy against me. :-p
Link Ups:
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef-in-Training , Totally Tasty Tuesday's at Mandy's Recipe Box and Trick or Treat Tuesday at Inside Bru Crew Life



Tomato Stack Salad with Corn and Avocado

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When I received the August edition of Cooking Light magazine, this was one of the first recipes to jump out to me. I could eat a tomato as a meal. Slice it up, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and pass me a fork! I never thought to add corn or bacon to a tomato and really make it a meal, but since Cooking Light did, I couldn't wait too long to try it.

Of course, since this is 98% vegetables and 2% bacon, it was what I consider a 'weekend lunch meal'. Otherwise known as a meal that I can make for myself with no intentions to share with Tom since he'd just turn his nose up at it anyway.



Tomato Stack Salad with Corn and Avocado
Source: Cooking Light, August 2012
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:
    • 1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled (Oscar Mayer)
    • 1/4 cup corn kernels, cooked
    • 1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced
    • 1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced 1/2" thick
    • 1 tsp. mayonnaise (Kraft)
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh chives, chopped
    • splash of milk
    • splash of apple cider
    • salt and pepper 

Directions:
1. Remove the center and seeds of the tomato leaving the skin and outer ring intact.
2. Whisk together the mayonnaise, milk and apple cider. Stir in the basil and chives. 
3. Create a tower with the tomato slices and fill the inside with corn and avocado slices.  
4. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the top of the tomato. Top with bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I didn't feel like dragging out the Griddler just for a small amount of corn, so I just steamed the corn instead of grilling it for this recipe. I'm sure grilling it would enhance the flavors quite a bit, but I was really pleased with the way this turned out. I just added the extra corn and avocado slices that didn't fit into the tomato tower to my plate. I wasn't expecting this to be as filling as it was, but I could easily eat this for a meal on a regular basis. If only I could convince the carnivore to as well...

I linked up this recipe at This Week's Cravings, Mangia MondaysMy Meatless Monday and  Melt in Your Mouth Monday!  Check it out!



Weekly Menu 9/9 - 9/13

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The more fall-like temperatures are on their way this week. Yesterday we had some pretty menacing storms come through which sucked up all of the heat and humidity and left us a week of temperatures in the low to mid 70's.

I'm not ready yet! I don't want to wear jeans yet or have to confine my toes into actual shoes. Sundresses and flip flops are more my thing. However, since the weather is cooling down, I figured I might as well take advantage of it on the food front. There are quite a few recipes that I've held off on making just because of the weather (and season) that I decided to throw into the mix this week.

Yep, that's right, it's only the second week of September and I'm busting out a pumpkin recipe. I don't plan on blogging it right away though, if that makes you feel any better. I'm also making a soup this week. Bring on fall foods but not fall weather!

Sunday - Asian Pork Chops with Baby Stuffed Peppers

Monday - French Onion Burgers with Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans 

Tuesday - Mashed Potato Soup

Wednesday - Chicken and Mushrooms in a Garlic Wine Sauce

Thursday - Pumpkin Ravioli 

I've been slacking a bit lately on the desserts front, mostly because I've been exercising my butt off and I don't want to jinx myself with too many sweets in the house, but I plan on making a pie and some blondies today.


Recipe Swap: Honey Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

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I debated on not participating in this recipe swap because the theme was desserts and as we all know, desserts don't do very much to help out your waistline. Unless you count making it rounder. But I'm a sucker with a sweet tooth and I swear my mouse just clicked on a recipe, copied it and sent Sarah and email saying I'd participate before I could even think about it.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Okay?


I am SO glad I decided to participate in this swap. The recipe I was assigned just sounded incredibly delicious right from the beginning. Nutella frosting? How could anyone say no to that? And a honey cupcake!?! I had never heard of it before so that intrigued me even more. 

We receive our recipe assignments on a Friday and they are due two Fridays later. Usually I make the recipe on the second weekend, but not this time. I scanned and recipe and quickly realized I had all of these ingredients in the pantry and fridge. There would be no waiting for these tasty little cupcakes, I was making them right away. 

I did manage to wait until Sunday to make these, but only because I ended up with a migraine on Saturday which foiled my efforts to spend the day in the kitchen. 



Honey Cupcakes
Source: Cookies on Friday, as seen on Oprah.com 
Servings: 12

Cupcake Ingredients:
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tbsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla 

    Cupcake Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cupcake pan with paper or foil liners. 
    2. Add the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Stir until combined. Set aside. 
    3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and sugar. Using the beater attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, honey, buttermilk and vanilla. 
    4. Slowly add the flour mixture into the stand mixer bowl. Mix until just incorporated. 
    5. Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
     
    Nutella Frosting Ingredients:
    Source: My Baking Addiction
      • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
      • 2/3 cup Nutella
      • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
      • 4-6 tbsp. heavy cream
      • 1 tbsp. vanilla 
      • pinch of salt 
      Frosting Directions:
      1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and Nutella until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time with 1 tbsp. of the heavy cream at a time until combined. Add vanilla and salt, then additional heavy cream as needed to reach desired consistency. 
      2. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

      Cupcakes:
       Place frosting in a piping bag with a large star tip. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. If frosting gets too soft, refrigerate cupcakes until ready to serve. 



    Oh my Nutella heaven are these incredible! Everything that you want a cupcake to be is all rolled into this cupcake. Tom tried one before I did and said "Nope. Disgusting. Can't share these with the coworkers at all." Which means he thinks its amazing and doesn't want to share with anyone.

    Further prompting resulted in him telling me that they taste like E.L. Fudge Cookies. So if you are a fan of those, you might want to pick up the ingredients and get to your kitchen pronto.

    Link Ups:
    Crazy Sweet Tuesday at Crazy for Crust

Mini Mac and Cheese Cups

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When I first started to think about foods for the bingo, I immediately thought of mac and cheese but wanted a way to make it bite sized and relatively portable.

"I wonder if you can make mac and cheese cups?" passed through my head so I immediately went off to Google and see if anyone had done it before. Of course, they had. I figured I wasn't the only person with this genius idea. :-)

These were a pretty big hit at the bingo. Everyone thought they were super cute. If only there was a way to keep them warm and looking pretty, I think they would have all disappeared in minutes.



Mini Mac and Cheese Cups
Slightly Adapted from: Framed Cooks
Servings: 36 mini cups
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Ingredients:
    • 12 oz. elbow macaroni (Barilla)
    • 2 cups  shredded cheddar cheese (Sargento)
    • 1 cup  shredded colby jack cheese (Kraft)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    • salt and pepper 
Optional Toppings:
    • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
    • 4 tbsp. butter
    • 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Spray a mini cupcake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, Italian seasonings, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.
4. Add the cheese to the pot with the cooked macaroni and stir until melted. Pour the egg and milk mixture into the pot and stir until combined.
5. Spoon the mac and cheese into the cupcake pan, filling to the top.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
7. If using optional toppings, melt the butter and mix the breadcrumbs into it. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese cups. Return to the oven for 3-4 minutes or until crispy. Or top mac and cheese cups with cooked bacon.
8. Let cool 5 minutes before gently removing from the pan with a rubber spatula or spoon.



Adorable and tasty. What is better than that? I was a bit hesitant that they would stick to the pan, but a super liberal spraying of the non-stick cooking spray definitely helped out. You could also place these into mini muffin liners after baking for presentation purposes. In the comments of the original recipe it seems some tried to bake with the liners on and ended up with them melting into the mac and cheese. Paper may be a great source of fiber, but I think its' something worth passing on.



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