Friday, October 29, 2010

Share the Table Project

A few weeks ago I got a couple of free boxes of pasta from Barilla, I love their new campaign for sharing the table with your family. Fits right in with my blog right? I e-mailed them about it and they sent me some free pasta.

If you go to the Barilla site, click here, you will see that they have committed to getting people to think about family dinner time again. They currently have a button on the site that if you click and commit to meaningful meals with your family Barilla will donate a dollar to Meals on Wheels. You can also freely download a collection of recipes from Mario Batali who has lent his star power to help recognize the importance of bringing America back to the table. Something to think about. I will be using the pasta in different ways. So far I have only used it to supplement a frozen pasta entree (that I think uses too much sauce, and it is supposed to be only for two but by adding extra pasta it stretches it for the whole family with some left over, on those nights that I just don't have the energy to start from scratch). Look for more posts using this free pasta from Barilla and continual updates on their Share the Table project, as I feel it so closely connects to my idea for this blog.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos #2

Refer back to this post, this was the scrumptious slow cooker chicken taco meat from Saturday we then ate them as hard tacos on Monday. They were still very delicious! Just another way to have this delicious meat, next time I make this meat I will have to try enchiladas as my leftover makeover.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saturday Morning Breakfast (Eggs Benedict?)

During the week in the classroom I had a couple of classes that we were talking about poached eggs, believe it or not a lot of my students had no idea what I was talking about! I was talking about them so much they were really on my mind, so I made them this weekend. This is old fashioned I did not use any silicone poaching cups I literally just dumped them into water with a touch of vinegar. I didn't have English muffins, I had toast, and I didn't have Canadian bacon but I had regular bacon. I worked with what was in my fridge for this spur of the moment thing. So we had eggs Benedict of a sort, poached eggs on top of bacon, on top of toast, with a bit of Hollandaise (not from scratch - it was a mix packet I hate to admit) and a sprinkle of paprika to top it off. Overall I knocked this out in under 20 minutes. The bacon I tried to get Brian to do on the grill so I wouldn't have bacon smell permeating my house all day but he didn't want to. So I did the bacon in the microwave, toast in the toaster oven, Hollandaise in a sauce pan on the stove as the water is boiling for the eggs. I did put in a cap-ful of vinegar in the water, I don't know if this really matters to the egg or not, but I like the flavor it imparts. I have embraced the poached egg, they cam out great! YUM, runny golden yoke. My daughter loves bacon, she loved the sauce (probably not the healthiest thing on earth but she ate it! It was whole wheat toast, and the sauce was made with soy milk but still it had a 1/4 cup of butter in it and she was dipping her bacon in it!)

Love hearing back from people that have tried my recipe!

I finally heard back from someone that has made a recipe of mine! I LOVE IT! Thank you so much Shawn for writing and telling me you made one of my recipes and more importantly that you liked it! See her post here! If anyone out there in the blogosphere has made a recipe (you don't have to post about it) but I would love to hear from you on a comment or an e-mail. Like I told Shawn I cook what I like and what my family will like. I almost never do a recipe spot on, instead I change the flavors to suit our needs. So while I know what we like I don't know how other's perceive it, so let me know.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Post It Note Tuesday

Steak House Dinner

I love, LOVE, sauteed mushrooms and these were some of the best I have ever made! The steak was grilled, this past week we had 70 degree temperatures in the middle of October! The potatoes are a winter staple in our house, I love roasted root veggies. The key with potatoes is to just leave them alone, don't stir, you stir and they won't crisp up for you. Then for whatever reason, and I did feel a little guilty because I knew they came from too far away, my local grocery store had asparagus on sale. So we had grilled asparagus even though it wasn't spring time, and oh where they good! All in all it was a fabulous meal in my book.

Pepper Crusted New York Steaks with Glazed Mushrooms
4 New York strip steaks
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for steaks
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces sliced button mushrooms
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat grill to medium-high heat.
[1] Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper.
[2] Grill steaks to desired doneness, about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to plates and top each steak with a dab of butter.
[3] Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until wilted.Sprinkle with salt and remove from the heat.
[4] Divide mushrooms among steaks and serve.

Spicy Oven Roasted Red Potatoes

1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
5 medium-large red potatoes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
[1] In a small bowl, combine the salt, cayenne, paprika, coriander and parsley.
[2] Wash and cut the potatoes into long strips and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and turn to coat. Sprinkle with the spices.
[3] Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

*Asparugus are grilled and tossed wtih olive oil, salt & pepper.

Thanks to Relish for the recipe.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The Carter Carving Extravaganza happened this evening. We carved in total four pumpkins tonight. Molly was busy practicing her sharp cutting skills (Don't freak out grandparents! This meant a butter knife on pieces of pumpkin guts, that even mommy had a hard time letting her do). We ended with two evil looking pumpkins and two goofy faced pumpkins. Since I bought my fake candles at Costco (30 votive/tea light candles) they are lit outside as we speak! They look great, but the star of tonight was the pumpkin seeds! I had enough seeds to fill my cookie sheet in one layer give or take.

Crunchy Garlic Pumpkin Seeds
4 cups of fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
*cooking spray
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees, and spray the cookie sheet, toss all ingredients with freshly washed pumpkin seeds spread in an even layer on cookie sheet.
2. Cook in oven for 15 minutes then stir with a spatula to release moisture from all sides. Continue cooking for ten more minutes, stir again. Should cook for close to 30 minutes (depends on the size and moisture of your seeds, as they start to brown bring them out, you don't want them to burn but you want them sufficiently dried out so they are crunchy!)

Linked to Meet Me Monday, Mingle Monday, Mom Blog Monday, Making Friends Monday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

BEST EVER! Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos

At one of our local farmers markets our local Mexican Grocery store, and it is a big super market, has a little stall where they sell the most delicious tacos. These reminded me of those tacos! So good! And oddly very filling, we could only eat three a piece (and they are the traditional small corn tortillas). And even if you don't particularly care for soft corn tortillas you have to at least try them here it just really can't compare. And this makes a lot so we will have having them over the next week! So fresh and tasty with different textures and spices.. mmm..YUM!
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: On high, 3 hours (or on low, 6-7 hours)
4 Chicken Breasts, boneless skinless
1 white onion, chopped divided in half
4 garlic clove(s), thinly sliced
1 cup prepared chunky salsa, plus more for serving
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 small white corn tortillas
 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime cut into wedges
 [1] In slow cooker, combine chicken, 1/2 chopped onion, garlic, salsa, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours (or on low, 8 hours).
[2] Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, and shred, using two forks; moisten with cooking juices. Heat the tortillas in a dry pan on stove top about ten seconds per side and then pop into a tent of tin foil to keep warm and pliable.
[3] Top the tortillas with shredded chicken, pieces of raw chopped onion, sprinkle with cilantro, and use the juice from one wedge of lime per serving.
Linked to Family Food Fridays.

*Adapted from a Relish recipe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pinto and Corn Topped Baked Potatoes

So I haven't officially started weight watchers yet but this potato is only 8 points! And I couldn't even eat a whole one! I will have to remember this! Thank you Relish, what a great idea for dressing up baked potatoes!
Pinto and Corn Topped Baked Potatoes
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
4 medium baking potatoes
olive oil cooking spray
1/2 white onion , chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, or one ear of fresh corn -I used fresh-
1 1/2 cups prepared chunky salsa
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
 *8 weight watcher points

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
[1] Pierce potatoes with a fork; arrange in a circle in microwave oven. Microwave at HIGH 10 minutes, turning and rearranging after five minutes. Place in the oven and finish cooking for 25-30 minutes or until completely cooked.
[2] While potatoes cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, cumin and chili powder, salt and pepper to taste; sauté 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add beans, corn, and salsa; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
[3] Split potatoes lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Fluff with a fork. Spoon about 1 cup bean mixture over each potato. Top each serving evenly with cheese and cilantro and a dollop of sour cream. NOTE: if you would like to melt the cheese, place potatoes in microwave for a few seconds.

The salad in the background was just romaine lettuce with a little bit of cheese, a handful of crunched up tortilla chips, tomatoes, and bit of Spicy Ranch dressing. Have you heard of this dressing? I haven't but relish reccommended it here and it was pretty good!

Linked to What's Cooking Wednesday, and Welcome Wednesdays.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

I have noticed before on my weekly menu options on Relish that they have offered desserts before but I have never fully been tempted to try them. I am not a fan, believe it or not, of pumpkin pie or anything that has those sort of quintessential "fall" flavors/spices. So I have no idea why I was tempted this time, but darn am I glad that I tried. I have sung this websites praises very vocally with friends and family and I mention it on most of my posts. A couple of years ago I was spending a good day coming up with menu plans by stealing from several "free" menu planning sites and I was just so sick of how much time and effort I wasted to put it all together. I remember just searching for a menu planning site one day when I had had enough and came across this site. Their opening page reminded me of my favorite magazine Real Simple and so I thought why not I will give it a try. That was over a year ago and I haven't regretted it sense. They have grown sense then, changed and I believe only gotten better. Granted there are times when I use their recipes and then change it to suit my tastes, and then there are times when I just think the recipe is asking me to do something totally funky and I question it but I still go with it and every time they have been spot on. So after all that if I was going to try a pumpkin bread from somewhere it might have been here and now! Wow am I glad that I did. It was relatively easy (the only reason I say that is because I made it with my kitchen aide mixer and while I was trying to do too many things at once I flipped the switch the wrong way - sped up the paddle- and slung pumpkin puree and sugar and what not all over my kitchen! I had a bit of clean up, but that was totally my blunder, the recipe was great it was myself that was an idiot!).
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 1 hour
NOTE: this makes 3 loaves!
3 cups sugar
1 15-ounce can canned pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups miniature chocolate chips (I added more chocolate chips and I think it was too much, still good but a bit much so stick with the original amount here)
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 9 x 5 aluminum loaf pans (I have never gone out and bought these before specifically to use but since this was a large batch I don't have 3 of these in metal bakeware so I went ahead and bought them... the ease of use was very nice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
[1] Grease and flour three 9x5 inch loaf pans.
[2] In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Fill each loaf pan 1/2 to 3/4 full.
[3] Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted knife comes out clean (mine took an additional 15 minutes on top of the hour). Cool on wire racks before removing from pans. Wrap 2 of them tightly with foil and place in the freezer.
Linked to Meet Me Monday, Mingle Monday, and Making Friends Monday. Also 
                             Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, and Tasty Tuesday, Fresh Clean
                             and Fun Fridays.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lunches Over the Past Week

This was inspired by the left over rice from our chicken stir fry last week. I love doing the onigiri, I don't have the spice packs like I should but she seems to be ok with just using the soy sauce on it, so you have a bear in the top left corner (eyes and mouth made with black food coloring pen) some apple slices and a rabbit onigiri in the top right and then some animal crackers and fruit snacks. Onigiri, or molded rice, is a great thing to do with left over rice especially if you have fun molds like these! See my other post for more details on this fun idea.

This bento was created by dad! I was grading papers all night and was just plain exhausted so daddy volunteered to do lunches, imagine my surprise when this is what he created. Even punched the sandwich with the bento box! Made a face for it and everything! PB&J with sugar eyes a half a grape and a fruit leather mouth. In the other tier grapes, the remaining fruit leather, and fruit snacks.
*The other lunches not posted were simple lunches in her lock and lock box that just had some deli meat, cheese, crackers of some sort and some fruit. I really love the lock and lock system for easy little lunches, and you can almost create your own little healthier versions of a lunchable. For my little two year old on the go this is the perfect lunch for her at daycare to nibble on while she plays.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Food from the last week...

I have been very busy and stressed at work, and we have been trying to potty train pretty intensely over the last week; as you may have seen I have been noticeably absent. I have been cooking every night, but one of my go-to meals is chicken stir fry with just random veggies over rice, and let's face it there are only so many times that I can post the same thing! We also had homemade pizza and I felt like the dough was a fantastic recipe so I want to make sure to share the dough (I made it in the bread machine... I love being able to just dump it all in and the let the machine do all the work!) I have also baked, and tried some new recipes. Instead of doing all of it in one post though to help me out throughout the week I will write several posts and that should help me out when I am just too busy potty training, cooking, doing dishes, and grading a TON of essays to do a post as well! Soon to come a great recipe for baked potatoes, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and a fantastic authentic shredded chicken taco recipe for the slow cooker!
Bread Machine Pizza Dough (makes two large thin crusts #2
1 cup water + 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1. Place ingredients in pan in order listed or as directed per machine instructions. Select dough cycle. My machine goes for a long while, I believe I had the dough kneaded and rising in the machine for about 20-30 minutes which is less than the actual time on the machine.
2. Makes two 12 inch regular crusts or one 16 inch deep dish crust.
3. Roll out and place on pizza tray, I prick mine with a fork all over so it doesn't bubble up too much, and I prebake for about 6-10 minutes depending on how crusty you want it.
4. Top with desired toppings and bake at 400°F for 10-15 minutes or until crust is light brown.

I also have a lot of apples right now from my CSA, and I remembered that I had this really pretty bowl made especially for doing a baked apple in the microwave that I found in a cute little pottery shed on the coast and I haven't used it in forever. It was so delicious, you can of course do this in a regular bowl but the way this "special" is made I only have to cook it for about a minute before the apple is cooked through. I usually just add a little bit of butter, maybe half a tablespoon, a bit of brown sugar, maybe one tablespoon and a sprinkle of cinnamon. This brings me back to my childhood my mom used to make me baked apples all the time! Yum, nothing like fall!

And because I couldn't resist here is my Molly at the pumpkin patch this weekend. As her Nana says it looks like she is contemplating world peace!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Roast Chicken Sunday Supper

On Thursday my husband was working First Thursday at our business (in the downtown area on the first Thursday of the month all the art shops open and give out free drinks and appetizers, Brian didn't stay too long so Molly and I stayed home). We were on our own for dinner so I did end up having the ragu from awhile ago (froze it) it was a great dinner.

So my new thing is to have a great Sunday Supper a la 1950's, retro style. Tonight's dinner was the good old fashioned Roast Chicken. I did a slow cooker recipe and then pulled it out and popped it the oven to crisp up the skin. I am going to try and use the broth from the crock pot to make chicken noodle soup tomorrow.
Slow Cooker Roasted Rosemary Chicken

Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: ON LOW 8 hours
10 garlic clove(s), minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 celery stalks, quartered
2 carrots, quartered
5 pound roasting chicken
1/4 cup orange juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tbsp or less of butter
 [1] In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic and chopped rosemary, clean and cut up celery and carrots. Set aside. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry.
[2]Put carrot and celery inside chicken cavity.
[3] Loosen the skin from the chicken by inserting fingers and gently pushing between skin and meat.
[4] Rub some of the garlic mixture under the loosened skin. Place the chicken, bone side down in a slow cooker and spread the remaining garlic mixture over top. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour orange juice around chicken in bottom of slow cooker. Cook on low 7 1/2 hours.
[5] Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chicken breast section from the slow cooker, and drumsticks place in an oven proof roasting pan smear a tiny amount of butter over skin on breasts and drum sticks. Set in oven for 15-20 minutes until skin is a nice golden brown.

Serve with a tossed salad, and roasted potatoes. We had corn from our CSA that needed to be eaten so that is what we had.

Tried a new roasted potato tonight:
Savory Roasted New Potatoes

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
[1] Place the potatoes in a large baking pan and sprinkle with garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
[2] In a small bowl, combine the Worcestershire and olive oil and drizzle over the potatoes. Toss to coat and bake in lower half of the oven, stirring occasionally for 30-35 minutes.
 Linked to Mingle Mondays, Meet Me Mondays, Making Friends Monday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chili Cheese Sloppy Joes and Honey Lime Coleslaw

Oh my goodness people, I LOVE this coleslaw! I had two heads of cabbage from my CSA bag that I need to use in someway so this recipe sounded great. The other is destined for German Style Stuffed Cabbages (I am rubbing my hands together in glee, I can't wait - it's one of my favorite things!) I am going to do them in the slow cooker I think. Anywho, back to the coleslaw it has a dressing of mayonnaise, honey, and lime juice and then also some fresh cilantro. Oh it is so good! I like cabbage in general, so odds are most coleslaws I am going to like just because. The original recipe for our sloppy Joe's tonight needed a bit of something extra, so I added a traditional ingredient for sloppy Joe's, ketchup! Problem solved!
Chili Cheese Sloppy Joe's

Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
1 red onion , chopped and divided
1 pound lean ground beef
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 to 1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4 hamburger buns
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
[1] Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add half of the onion, ground beef, chili powder and garlic.
[2] Sauté until beef is cooked through, breaking up with spoon, about 5 minutes. Add beans and tomatoes. Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Mix in cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
[3] Meanwhile, place french bread on a baking sheet and warm in oven, about 10 minutes. Transfer toasts to individual plates and top with chili, cheese, and remaining chopped onions.

Honey Lime Coleslaw
Prep time: 10 minutes
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 cups coleslaw mix (or small to medium sized head of cabbage)
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
[1] In a medium bowl, whisk mayonnaise, honey, lime juice and salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Toss with coleslaw mix and cilantro, chill until ready to serve.

Leftover Makeover Ham and Brie Sandwiches with Pasta Salad

I made a spiral ham on Sunday, then I cut up the remainder of the meat and froze most of it to use in soups and beans throughout winter. I kept one portion of it out of the freezer though for last nights dinner. We had a ham, brie, and bleu cheese sandwich with a really great pasta salad. We had the left over pasta salad for lunch today and it was still very good.
Ham, Brie & Blue Sandwiches

8 slices thick French country sandwich white bread, sliced
8 ounces Brie cheese, sliced
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 cups of leftover ham (or steaks)
Preheat grill to medium heat or a grill pan until very hot. (or  you can just use a normal pan... that is what I did)
[1] Layer the brie on half of the bread slices. Spread with apricot preserves and crumbed blue cheese.
[2] Grill the ham steak until browned and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the ham from the grill and cut into portions (one for each sandwich.) Layer the ham over the brie. Top ham with the remaining bread slices to make sandwiches.
[3] Brush both sides of sandwiches with olive oil and grill until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

Pasta Salad with Feta and Snow Peas

Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
10 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 cup snap peas, strings removed, sliced diagonally into strips
1 yellow bell pepper , ribs and seeds removed, chopped into pieces
2 green onions , sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
[1] In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until cooked through but still firm to the bite. During last minute of cooking, add snow peas. Drain pasta and peas in a colander; rinse under cold water.
[2] In a large bowl, combine pasta and peas, bell pepper, green onions, feta, oil, vinegars and salt and pepper. Toss to combine and chill until ready to serve.
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