Monday, September 27, 2010

Crock Pot Taco Soup -great for lunch leftovers!

Made this on Sunday and we will be having it for at least two lunches throughout this week! Great flavor, once again there was something in this Relish recipe that I questioned but I still do it, I have learned it is what makes this dish at this point. The ingredient in question this time, ranch dressing mix, and like the lettuce wraps my daughter LOVED this meal. She ate her whole bowl! FANTASTIC FLAVOR!
Crock Pot Taco Soup
1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 red onion , chopped
1 packet taco seasoning
1 1-ounce envelope ranch dressing mix
2 11-ounce cans corn, undrained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, undrained
1 15-ounce can black beans, undrained
2 10-ounce cans Rotel tomatoes with chilies, undrained

1/4 cup shredded cheddar or pepper jack
1/4 cup sour cream
1 2.25-ounce can sliced black olives
4 green onions , chopped

[1] Cook the beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain.
[2] Combine the meat mixture and taco seasoning with the ranch dressing mix, corn, pinto beans, black beans, tomatoes in a slow cooker.
[3] Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Serve warm with the toppings.

 Linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table,  & Tasty Tuesdays.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lettuce Wraps and Yaki-Soba Noodles

So I know this isn't that traditional, I am using hamburger instead of steak, I had steak but I thought I would give it a try with hamburger because frankly I have hamburger on hand much more often than steak, it is more economical, and if it worked it could be a wonderful go-to meal. Turns out it was great, meat was tender -obviously- instead of chewy and the flavor was fantastic. The noodles are fresh noodles, I found them in refridgerator section near the produce and tofu.
I realize that on top it looks like cheese in this picture but it
is actually crunchy noodles.
Asian Lettuce Wraps
1 lb hamburger
1/2 cup Newman's own Ginger Sesame Marinade
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 raw peanuts
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce
1. Brown the meat add marinade when meat is almost done.
2. Pull meat out, put in a bowl off to the side. Cook onions with soy sauce and red pepper flakes until soft and then add peanuts to warm through. Put meat back in with mixture to stir all ingredients together. Put into a serving dish with a lid to keep warm, move it to the table (can garnish with some fresh green onions, sesame seeds, or crunchy Chinese noodles- I put those in a ramekin off to the side so they stayed crunchy)
3. Cut head of lettuce in half, take out just the inner core (be careful not to pull out too much because those inner smaller leafs are great for littler portions, I used the smallest for Molly) set the heads on the table for people to pick their own lettuce pieces.

Yaki-Soba Noodles
1 pkg. Fresh Yaki-Soba noodles (the brand I bought had three individually wrapped -personal sized portions)
3 green onions sliced
2 tsp sesame oil
1 pkg of seasoning packet from noodles (If your noodles didn't come with a seasoning packet you might need to add a small amount of soy sauce or sweet chili sauce would be good too, and a small- small dash of Chinese five spice)
1. Follow package directions (mine called for me to puncture the packets and microwave for 1 minute, and then put in a pan with a small amount of water with seasoning mixture)
2. After microwaving, I put it in the pan previously used for the meat mixture above and then added 1/2 cup of water and a seasoning packet, green onions, and sesame oil.
I don't think anything can sell a dinner than this picture, she ate so much - she LOVED this dinner!

 Nod to Relish for the original idea on this recipe.

A couple of bento lunches from this past week.

 I apologize for not writing more often, but with going back to school and all the reform that is taking place I am swamped. It is much easier to keep up with posting every day during the summer, during school not so much. I am still cooking although even I admit not every night, and there are sometimes when we are all so hungry by the time it is finally ready we dig in and I forget to take a picture until it is almost gone, and I am sure you don't want to see eaten food all the time. So even if I am not making dinner I still have to scrounge up lunch items, so Molly's bentos are still going strong here are a couple from this past week.

The top bento has some leftover roast veggies, herbed turkey rolls, cheese squares, and bananas with sprinkles and a little fish pick, the cheese fish has dots of fruit leather and a sugar eye.

This next series of bentos shows Molly's, Mom's, and Dad's lunch for the day. I had a left over package of tortellini that needed to be cooked, after they were strained I mixed them with some jarred sauce, 1/4 of a package of goat cheese, and some fresh basil it was soooo tasty! Starting with Molly's lock and lock system, she has some cheese squares, some carrot sticks and apple slices, pasta, and triscuits.

Mom and dad's lunches were all the same items just a little larger portions.

This last series of photos are for her lunch on Friday, we had slow cooker pulled pork for dinner and then the leftovers for lunch the next day. I used a hot dog bun for Molly's sandwich cut in half, it was just the right size. She also has grapes sitting next to the sandwich in the top tier of her bento box.

On the second tier she has a few candy pumpkins for a treat, goldfish crackers, a slice of cheese, and a few dried apples with a cherry tomato on top.

 Linked to Mingle Mondays, Meet Me Mondays.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Roasted Root Veg

I knew I wanted to do a chicken Cordon Bleu, especially for my husband as it is one of his favorites, but I didn't really know how I wanted to go about making it, but I wasn't into the recipes that I was looking at. So I just made it up! It is Parmesan chicken meets chicken cordon bleu (Parmesan chicken is my husbands second favorite).
Chicken Cordon Bleu
2 chicken breasts (good sized)
3 slices of black forest ham, tear in half
2 deli sliced Munster Cheese (it is what I had opened, not the traditional Swiss but what the hey, same principle), tear in half
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tbsp Dijon
2 tsp water
1. Preheat oven 350, butterfly the chicken so you have four (normal sized) chicken breasts, then flatten them with a meat mallet.
2. In the center put a half a slice of ham, and a half a slice of Munster cheese, then roll up like a jelly roll, secure if you need to with a wooden pick.
3. Mix water and Dijon to dilute and easier to coat chicken.
4. Mix panko, Parmesan and salt & pepper (some will just have to be thrown away, better to have more than enough then not enough)
5. Using a silicone brush, brush the outside of the chicken rolls with Dijon mixture and then roll in breading.
6. Put on a wire cooling rack in a lipped cookie sheet (this helps overall crunchiness, and cooking time) seam side up to help the cheese stay in, in oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Roasted Root Veggies
3 carrots, peeled and cut on an angle
5 red new potatoes, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1. Drizzle oil over cut up carrots and potatoes and then sprinkle seasonings over all of it, mix with your fingers till everything is mixed well (using dried herbs here is better because fresh can burn when cooked a long time like this).

Linked to: Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesday At the Table, & Tasty Tuesday. Chicken Cordon Bleu on FoodistaChicken Cordon Bleu

Sandwiches and Bento

Since I haven't been feeling that well and we have been away from home I haven't had the opportunity to cook, over the weekend most of my husband's side of the family did all of the cooking so I have very little to share in terms of photos over the  last few days.

This was our dinner last night, as we had a late lunch before leaving the beach house and were not very hungry. It is a turkey and salami sandwich with Munster cheese on a French roll.

Molly's Bento/homemade lunch-able from last week. She ate so many of the carrot coins and even without anything to dip it in! It is rolls of garlic turkey breast, and salami. Triangles of cheese, and triscut crackers.

Today's lunch was bamboo skewers with ham and turkey rolls, heart cheese, and a grape tomato. At the bottom some great pears from our CSA. She also got a few chips in another container not featured here.

Menu Plan Monday

Some of the following items were on the menu from last week, but as it was the first full week of school - I am a teacher and it takes a good week to acclimate- I was sick and totally uninspired to cook, as well as us heading to a beach house over the weekend there were literally only a few meals made by me in the last week. So I am recycling some of the menu ideas.
Monday: Chicken Cordon Bleu
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Wednesday: Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps
Thursday: Chicken with mustard sauce
Friday: Slow Cooker Taco Soup...
Saturday: ???
Sunday: ???

Linked to Menu Plan Mondays.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

German Meatballs and Garlic Noodles

I have been very sick the last few days and completely unmotivated for both lunches and dinner, hence the absence of posts and bento pics. SORRY! Since I didn't want to eat out again and I knew I had everything I needed for this recipe it was important to me that we have a good homecooked meal last night. This is what I came up with!
German Meatballs
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup of panko crumbs
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggs , white only
Sauce (in pan)
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Wrocestershire sauce
Wonderflour to thicken
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

[1] Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and egg white(s). Shape the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
[2] Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 10 minutes or until browned, flipping frequently. Remove from the skillet to a plate lined with a paper towel.
[3] Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the wine and bring to a boil and cook for one minute. Return the meatballs to skillet, cover, and cook 5 minutes or until done. Remove from heat.
[4] Remove the meatballs from the skillet to the plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add sour cream, milk, Dijon, Worcestershire, Wonderflour, salt and pepper to the wine mixture in the skillet and stir well. Add as much Wonderflour as you think you might need (you don't want it too thick so really just a few shakes will do).When serving, pour the sauce over the meatballs.

Egg Noodles with Garlic and Parsley

Prep and cook time: 10 minutes
16 oz package egg noodles
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

[1] Cook the noodles according to package instructions. In a small bowl, microwave the garlic and butter for 20 seconds or until melted.
[2] Drain the noodles and toss with butter mixture and parsley. Serve with extra sauce from the meatballs, if desired.
Note: You might have leftover noodles. Take for lunch with salt and pepper and Parmesan.

This is a fantastic side dish for most meals not just this one!

Recipe from Relish, my meal planning site!

German Meatballs on FoodistaGerman Meatballs

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leftover Makeover

I had leftover beef from gyros last night, a TON of CSA veggies so I decided to make a stir fry. I didn't have enough rice to have for dinner and leftovers for lunch...well I had some regular basmati which is our normal go to rice, but not enough, and then I had some brown basmati that I bought randomly when I was perusing the bulk section. I remember I was thinking about how everyone is always talking about brown rice being better for you but I had yet to find one that I actually liked. I decided to give this rice a try, and I also remembered from previous experience that brown rice can be so dry and that I read an article that talked about it taking a lot longer to cook. So I made the pot (I don't ever measure my rice and water... is that bad? I just eyeball it!) of rice and added a bit more rice to it. I then prepared all of my stir fry ingredients and checked the rice, it was even sort of ready. So even though I want to SING it's praises, because oh yes people, it is a brown rice you would LOVE! The downside though is that it takes forever to cook so be prepared.
Beef Stir Fry
1/2 lb leftover flank steak
1 onion thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
3 tbsp Stir Fry Sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Cooked rice
1. Stir Fry the veggies and then add the stir fry sauce and sesame oil. Add the meat to heat through.
2. Layer rice first with some soy sauce to taste, then meat and veg on top. DONE! Super fast meal, and a great way to use leftovers!

Molly's Bento for Tuesday (I forgot to take a pic of today's lunch)! Leftover brown rice with some scallions with a little bottle of soy sauce, then some fresh sweet corn from our CSA -needs to be used!- and then on the bottom tier animal crackers, cherry tomatoes (CSA) and then Galea Melon from CSA again with some sprinkles and a pick. We will see how this goes, she generally really likes rice, she ate a lot of her dinner. The sprinkles help to draw her eye and eat more. But she has been shying away from the tomatoes lately -maybe we have ate too many this year already???

Linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, & Tasty Tuesday.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Leftover-makeover (gyro meat from last night) Beef Vegetable Stir Fry over Rice
Tuesday: Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps with Japanese Noodles
Wednesday: Backwards Chicken Cordon Bleu and -Roasted Cauliflower- Might change this veggie side depending what it is my CSA bag!
Thursday: German Meatballs with Garlic and Parsley Egg Noodles
Friday: Dine Out...
Saturday: Enchiladas, Spanish Rice (prepared by my sister-in-law)
Sunday: Chicken with Creamy Mustard with Veggies (CSA)

Linked to Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie blog.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Flank Steak Gyros

The meat in this recipe, if marinated, becomes so tender and has great flavor! I would have to say if Molly were a bit older this would be a hit, but she still is having issues with sandwiches. After making tacos last week I was reminded how we used to wrap our tacos in paper towels to keep them wrapped tightly. Well great idea, but there is a problem I don't buy paper towels. My mom mentioned wax paper, brilliant! I tried that, but she was too entranced with the wax paper and why it was on her food to actually eat it. I will keep working on it though... again I would think for 3 or 4 year olds and up this would be a great meal for the whole family. The flavors are great, not too over the top but still very Greek gyro! This recipe came from Relish, my go to meal planning site!

Flank Steak Gyros

Prep time: 5 minutes Marinate time: 2 hours +
Cook time: 20 minutes

1 pound flank steak
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice

**You could also just buy the premade tazitki sauce!**

4 6-inch pita pockets
1 white onion , thinly sliced
1 cucumber , peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 good tomatoes (if they are on the smaller size, mine came from my garden)

1. Cut the flank steak into thin strips against the grain. (To make slicing easier, place the meat in the freezer for about 10 minutes and then slice it). Prop open a large ziptop bag and add the olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper and mix well. Add the meat slices to the bag and turn to coat. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate 2 hours or up to all day.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

2. In a small bowl mix together the yogurt, dill, garlic and lemon juice and set aside.

3. Spritz the pitas with a little water, wrap in foil and place in the oven to warm. (Don't skip this step it makes the pita nice and pliable, if you don't have a spray bottle just wet your fingers and brush them over the pita)

4. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove meat from bag and discard marinade. Add meat slices to pan and sauté until brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Sauté the onion until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Return the meat and any juices to the skillet and stir until heated.

5. Arrange the pita bread on plates and top with the cucumber rounds and the beef mixture. Spoon some yogurt sauce over the meat and top with feta. Fold the gyros in half and serve.

Linked to Mingle Mondays, Meet Me Monday, & Making Friends Monday.

Bento Lunch for Thursday (I think??)

This is the bento I made for Molly on Thursday. Thursday was my official first day of school with students, and then after that horribly long day, full with lots of talking and standing on our feet, I then had back to school night. Friday my kitchen was still a mess from Wednesday's dinner, don't know why that didn't get cleaned up, but it was completely uninspiring to cook when I came home. Then yesterday we had a fantastic party for my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary so I haven't officially cooked since Wednesday? WOW! Anywho, this needed to be posted. I should have had Brian take a photo of Molly's lunch for Friday. I came home and was so exhausted, I sat down for a half hour or so and then said, "Ah man, I still have to make lunches and my feet are killing me!" And what did my darling husband do? He said he could do it! I then said, "Really?" and he said as long as I was good with PB&J he could totally do it. Ahhhhh, sweet bliss! And totally cute!

I had high hopes for this bento, the top half was left over Ragu and papardelle noodles (her daycare lady said Molly tried a bite and said it was, "Spicy." Which is just ridiculous, it wasn't spicy at all and she ate a ton of it the night before! It just goes to show you, I never have any idea what she will like and what she won't. I just give it to her and if she doesn't like it she doesn't like, I just have to remind myself she isn't going to starve!) On the bottom tier was grapes, strawberries and cheese bears (the eyes and mouth are cut outs from fruit leather I stick them on with peanut butter so they don't move around).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homemade Pappardelle with Slow Cooker Ragu

Miss Molly's lunch today! I used the lock and lock box which I really liked. She had PB&J sandwich swirls (just use a rolling pin and flatten the bread make the sandwich like always and then roll it up and cut it with a serrated knife, a simple but fun way to jazz it up) A handful of almonds, some Sunchips packed in there, carrot sticks, and a Babybell cheese. According to her daycare provider when she asked if she liked the cheese Molly just said, "Mmmmmmm."  :-)

One of the key's to bento is packing everything in just so, and TIGHT, so that stuff doesn't move around where you don't want it!
I made a slow cooker Italian Meat Sauce or Ragu last night and left it in the fridge over night so it was easy to pop into the slow cooker in the morning. I love the feeling of coming home, breathing deep just as you walk in the door, and getting all the smells wafting from the slow cooker. I was originally going to make pre-made tortellini but then decided to make homemade noodles. There is nothing like homemade noodles. And this is a GREAT recipe, if you have a food processor.
Homemade Noodles
2 cups flour
3 eggs
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp water
1 tsp salt
1. Put all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until it comes together (if it looks a little meally and doesn't come together into a ball, pull it out  and if it comes together like dough in your hand  it is fine. Or if it isn't coming together vary small amounts of more oil and water until you get the consistency you want/need) On a floured surface kneed it a bit until it comes together.
2. Divide the dough into 4 equal sizes, work one at a time and keep the rest under wrap until you are ready for them.
3. Bust out the pasta maker and on the lowest setting (#1) roll the pasta through and fold it in on itself a couple of times to get the right rectangular shape and to kneed the dough just a bit more. Then working through the settings until you get to about the #7 (thin but not too thin) then I used my pizza cutter and very "rustically" cut out about 1 inch strips. Then say out loud, "Ta-Da!" because we don't say that enough and it makes you feel special, you are done (just repeat this last step three more time to get through the rest of the dough and you are golden to move on to cooking!
4. In a pot of salted boiling water, drop the fresh noodles in carefully so they don't stick (since they aren't dry they don't cook as long, think 4 minutes instead of 8-10) Then toss with your sauce and you have fresh, easy, and very "Trendy" right now pappardelle noodles!
(Night Before put together so all you have to do is pull it from fridge, plop into crock pot, and turn on!)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2 28oz cans of whole stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
1 1/4 cup of red wine
salt and pepper to taste
1. Saute onion, carrots and celery for a few minutes to soften. Then add meat and cook until done.
2. In crock pot dump the rest of the ingredients, when meat mixture is done include that too and then put in fridge. (If you want the wine a little toned down you could cook the wine in the meat on the stove prior to dumping it into the crock pot, I didn't do this step and I loved the sauce, and my daughter LOVED the noodles so win win!)
3. In the morning put in crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Before serving use a wooden spoon and break up the big chunks of tomatoes and taste the salt content, add more till it is to your liking.

This Ragu recipe is based off another Relish meal!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy 100th Post!!!!

I find this very exciting, yet at the same time when you see the RSS followers at only 12 it is a little anticlimactic. I mean I know I have more followers with google friend connect but still, 12 it's a little depressing :-)

Bento Lunch
This was Miss Molly's lunch for today, and I found out that instead of doing a lunch every Friday I now "get to" (and yes I really mean get to) make Molly a fun lunch everyday!

This is Molly's new bento box closed, I have wanted this one FOREVER, and it matches her cute lunch box as well.

She had in the bottom tier two small sandwiches with fruit leather flowers, some cherry tomatoes, and carrot "coins," And in the top container some fantastic Rice and Bean Chipotle Chips from Costco, and some shredded wheat. She ate the whole thing (at daycare they eat all day long so it isn't like she just sits there and eats it in one sitting.) I have to think of snacks and stuff too!

This was her labor day lunch, PB&J with a cheese octopus -notice the breakage in the cheese, it is getting to it's last legs it isn't as pliable anymore (fruit leather spots and smile and sugar candy eyes)! Cherry tomatoes on a pick, and more of those great chips; thanks Grandma Carter for giving us some.

Steakhouse Dinner
For tonight's dinner I finally got to make Steak Diane, with garlic mashed potatoes, and a fabulous salad of mixed greens, pecans, shallots and chunks of goat cheese. The basis for this dinner was supplied by my favorite meal planning site Relish.  I will provide the recipes like always because I have noticed whenever I cook no matter where the recipe comes from I change it to suit my family's needs. This dinner takes me back, I can remember this being one of my mom's favorite things to order when I was younger (wasn't this the one where they would light it on fire at the table?) Relax everyone, this one didn't require a flambe.
Steak Diane
4 beef tenderloin fillets (4-ounces each)

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
4 shallots , finely chopped
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 sprigs Italian parsley, chopped
1. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Cook steaks in butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 8 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan and keep warm.

2. Saute shallots in skillet 2 minutes over medium heat. Add beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and Dijon, stirring well 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute more. Serve sauce on top of steaks and top with fresh parsley.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1in chunks
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp olive oil
1. Cut up potatoes, put them in a pot and fill it with cold water, drop in the garlic cloves too!
2. When the potatoes are fork tender, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, strain the remainder of the water.
3. Put the potatoes back into the pot to keep the warm, and proceed to mash and alternate the cooking liquid with mashing until it is the right consistency.
Things to add in to help with texture and taste:
Salt & Pepper to taste
Touch of Milk and/or butter
1-2 tbsp of sour cream/ or plain yogurt
Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad
3-4 cups of mixed greens
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 minced shallot
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Prepared Dressing (for recipe click here)
1. Mix all together in bowl (careful not to "cream" the goat cheese you still want it in chunks)
Either my daughter is working up a hunger at daycare playing with her friends, or she really LOVED this dinner, she stayed at the table the whole time and practically cleaned her plate.

Linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, & Tasty Tuesday!
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