Sunday, October 30, 2011

Menu for week of 10/30/11

Well, this is going to be a crazy week because my in-laws will be visiting Wednesday through next Monday and they enjoy eating out. This week's menu is a little loosey-goosey so that if we go out to dinner I won't have to worry about what I defrosted going bad!

Sunday, 10/30- BBQ Pulled Pork and rolls
Monday, 10/31- Pumpkin Chili
Tuesday, 11/1- Tacos
Wednesday, 11/2- Pasta
Thursday, 11/3- Salads and Apps
Friday, 11/4- Pizza or some sort of take-out
Saturday, 11/5- Birthday dinner for my brother-in-law

Pantry Items/Stock Items: (these are things I always have on hand)
Sister Shubert's Yeast Rolls (Sun)
McCormick's Pork Rub Spice (Sun)
BBQ Sauce (Sun)
1 can diced tomatoes (Mon)
Taco seasoning packets (Tue)
pasta sauce (Wed)
pasta (Wed)
garlic cloves (Mon)
vegetable oil (Mon)
chili pepper (Mon)

Shopping List:
1 lb ground beef (Tue)
1 lb ground turkey (Mon)
1 lb pork shoulder (Sun)
Lettuce (Thur)
Tomato (Tue/Thur)
Onion (Mon)
Green pepper, Yellow pepper (Mon)
Pumpkin Puree (2 cups) (Mon)
Cheddar Cheese (Mon)
Sour Cream (Mon) * if desired for chili
Apps of choice (Thur)

Sunday, October 30- BBQ Pulled Pork

Wow... this was super good tonight! And, super easy too, thanks to the crock pot! I always buy pork shoulders at Giant when they are buy one get one free and freeze them. I love that there's no need to defrost before cooking these up in the crock pot. The recipe is below. We had Sister Shubert's Yeast Rolls with this. If you're not familiar with these rolls, I recommend you become familiar ASAP. They are great to pull out of the freezer when you need a quick side dish or bread that tastes almost as good as homemade. They are in the freezer aisle sold in bags of 10. I love that because you can just pull out the number of rolls you want, bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes and they taste great. Enjoy!

BBQ Pulled Pork

1 lb pork shoulder
McCormick's Pork Rub
1 can Coke
Bull's Eye BBQ Sauce
Reynold's Crock Pot Liner Bags

1. Place the liner bag in your crock pot.
2. On a plate, place the frozen pork shoulder, fat side up. Rub McCormick's rub into the pork. Flip the pork and repeat with the other side.
3. Pour the can of coke into the crock pot. Place the pork fat side down into the cooker. (I doubt you really need to do it this way, but fat on meat grossed me out and if I cook it fat side down the fat just falls right off into the liquid when you remove it from the crock pot.)
4. Cover the top of the pork generously with the BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

After the cooking time is up remove the pork from the crock pot using tongs. The pork is so tender that it generally falls into pieces, so you may have to do a few dips into the pot to retrieve it! Place in a serving dish and use 2 forks to shred. Use a ladle to scoop out some of the liquid in the crock pot and spoon over top of the pork. Serve with additional BBQ sauce if desired.

Week 5 Review

Well, it was another crazy week. Once I get going here I am going to start posting my weekly menu so we stick with it! Monday, 10/24 was Avery's 3rd birthday. She decided we should skip dance class so we could fully enjoy her birthday dinner at Friendly's. I hadn't been there in forever, and my total dinner calories were the same as my total daily calories, but it was great and delicious and totally worth it!

On Tuesday we did the ham steaks with orange champagne marmalade again. It was just as great as the first time. This time I had scalloped potatoes as a side and Sean had creamed spinach.

On Wednesday I used some left-over Williams Sonoma Weeknight Braising Sauce (Carmalized Onion) for something other than braising since that seems a little too time consuming. I tossed about 1/3 of the jar (which is what we happened to have left) into the crockpot with 8 chicken tenderloins. After 4 hours on low (since my chicken was already defrosted) we ate it over white rice. Sean really enjoyed it and I thought it was about as good as a quick, easy dinner could get.

On Thursday we just decided to order pizza. It was one of those nights. And on Friday night my father-in-law returned from an 8 week long trip so we met him for dinner at Reflections. Reflections is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants. I had a crab cake sandwich and it was one of the best I've had at a restaurant. But the star of the evenining was a Smashed Pumpkin martini. I wish I could remember what was in it, but it was easily the best martini I ever had.

Saturday we were without power for most of the day due to a freak snow storm so we decided to order Chinese since weren't sure what the cooking situation would be. Although the power was on it was a nice, relaxing finish to the week. We ate out a lot this week... a lot more than normal. But I guess that's not too terrible every once in a while.

Dinners Cooked- 2
Dinners Out/Ordered In- 4
Winner- Dinners Out (but at least all the dinners we paid for were $20 or less. Friendly's rang in at about $30, but Sean and I had ice cream so that wasn't too bad)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 4 Review

Well, it was another hectic week. Sometimes I wonder how it managed when I was full-time considering how busy I feel now working part-time. But, overall it was a good week in the kitchen. The weekend got a bit messy because we celebrated Avery's birthday in Bucks County, so I am not going to count Friday and Saturday since I wasn't in my own kitchen to cook :)

Monday- S. Clyde Weaver Made-To-Order Subs (we had coupons for free subs that were going to expire)

Tuesday- Chicken and Asparagus Risotto

Wednesday- Salads/Steak and Sweet Potato

Thursday- Chinese

Friday, Saturday, Sunday- Out of town

Dinners Cooked- 2
Dinners Out- 2
Dinners Not Counted- 3

Winner- Draw

Next week looks busy too. Better start planning my menu :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19, 2011- Baked Sweet Potato Chips

I bought a sweet potato when I went grocery shopping this week to go with a BBQ Pork I wanted to make in the crock pot but that meal got hacked from the menu for this week. So I was stuck with the starch and had not a clue what to do with it. Wednesdays are my Zumba nights so we usually do something quick and easy. I've always said that I refuse to be a short-order cook, but with 2 out of 3 in our family being picky eaters it's become a necessity. So- Sean grilled a steak from himself, Avery had mac and cheese, and I made a salad. And then there was the sweet potato. Here's what I did... and it was AWESOME!

Baked Sweet Potato Chips
1 sweet potato (for the 2 of us)
1 TBSP melted butter
2 TBSP brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice the sweet potato into thin chips.
2. Meanwhile, mix the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.
3. Spray a cookie sheet (or 2, which I needed) and spread the potatoes in a single layer. Brush potatoes with butter mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping half way through cooking.

Mmmm...... These were fantastic!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18, 2011- Chicken & Asparagus Risotto

Okay- so if you don't have a picky eater in your family, this recipe will be SUPER easy only requiring one pan. I modified this recipe from one I found in a magazine called Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto. I'll write up my recipe first and then post the original recipe below that. It was really good and my husband even enjoyed it. Another perk, not too bad on calories. Myfitnesspal calculated my serving at 570 calories, but that can easily be cut by 110 if you only have 1/2 cup of the risotto.

Chicken and Asparagus Risotto (Serves 2)
Chicken Tenderloins (I cooked a whole pound, but only used 1/2 pound for tonight and will use the rest another night this week)
1 bunch of asparagus (tips only, 1-2 inches)
1 box Creamy Parmesan Risotto
2 garlic cloves (minced)

1. In a saucepan, cook the risotto according to the directions on the box.
2. While this cooks, salt and pepper the chicken and cook over med-high heat (I used a setting of 5 and my stove goes up to 8). Remove the chicken and place on a back burner not in use. Reduce the heat on this burner to a low setting.
3. Place a small fry pan on the burner, add a little EVOO and toss in the garlic. After a minute add the asparagus. Saute until tender. I added a little bit of water a few times so it didn't get too crisp.
4. When asparagus is just about done add chicken tenders into pan with asparagus to reheat.
5. Serve over risotto. Or, if you are feeding some like my husband, plate his into 3 separate portions... asparagus, chicken, and risotto :)

This was 30 minutes start to finish. 3 pans... a little much for my liking, but not too bad. The original recipe (below) can be done all in one pan.

Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto (Serves 4)
1 lb shrimp, peeled
2 boxes garlic primavera risotto
8 oz fresh asparagus, ends trimmed, cut to 1.5-2 inch lengths

1. Heat 1 TBSP oil in a 12-in nonstick skillet over high heat. Add shrimp and saute 2-3 minutes until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add rice to skillet, stir 30 seconds. Stir in 5 cups water and seasoning packets. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 12 minutes; stirring occassionally.
3. Stir in asparagus; simmer 7 minutes. Stir in shrimp and any juices; cook 1 minute or until asparagus and rice are tender and shrimp is heated through.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe for Baked Ziti

16 oz (1 box) ziti
3 c spaghetti sauce (28 oz)
15 oz Ricotta
8 oz Mozzarella
1/4 c fresh parsley or 1 TBSP dry
1 egg
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 TBSP grated Parmesan

1. Heat oven to 375 and cook pasta according to directions. Drain.
2. In a large bowl (or I do this right back in the pot) mix hot pasta, 1.5 cups sauce (I use 2 cups), Ricotta, Mozarella, parsley, egg, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
3. Spread into 13x9x2 dish. Top with remaining sauce and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and back 30-40 mins.

*Make Ahead Directions*
Prepare recipe as directed, but do not bake. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze up to 2 months. Thaw frozen version in refrigerator overnight. Remove plastic wrap, replace foil and bake as directed, adding 10 minutes.

10- 1 cup servings

Pesto Recipe

Makes about 1 cup. I divide it up into 5 small tupperware containers and freeze them. Then defrost in the refrigerator the morning you plan to use it. I've made it with and without the nuts and enjoyed both. As always, I use extra garlic :)

2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts
3 TBSP grated Parmesan
2 small cloves garlic (I use 4)
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 cup EVOO

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the oil. Pulse until a thick paste forms (you may need to use a butter knife to scrap the paste down to continue pulsing). With processor on, add oil in a slow stream until mixture is well combined.

2. Transfer to an airtight container. Press plastic wrap directly onto pesto (to keep pesto from browning). Cover with lid; refrigerator up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 months.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week 3 Review

Well, another weird week. The fall always seems so busy. I am really hoping things settle down soon so we can get back into the swing of things! With being over-scheduled so much starts to become affected... diet, exercise, energy, motivation. This week it's back to working out 4-5 days and back to calorie counting for me. And back to cooking dinner!

This past Monday (10/10) we had a wonderful dinner at Isaac's, my favorite sandwich type place. A cup of Pepperjack Tomato Soup (the real deal) and a Twisted Chicken Sandwich hit the spot. Best part was that after 2 gift cards were cashed in the dinner cost us $8, including the tip! Can't beat that!

On Tuesday Sean grilled up some steaks and I added Alexia Olive Oil, Rosemary, and Garlic potatoe wedges. They were great.

Wednesday is pasta night in our house because I have Zumba. Tonight we had Penne Rigate with homemade pesto. I will be posting that recipe tomorrow.

Thursday... hmm. Thursday... what did we have. Well, I can't remember, but I know we ate in.

On Friday Sean left after work to go hunting for the weekend and my parents came out to stay with us. I made baked ziti for the three of us since that's one of the Italian dishes I love but can never eat since Sean doesn't eat red sauce. It definitely hit the spot! That recipe is coming, too.

Saturday brought us to the Caenarvon Fire Hall for the fall turkey supper. We leared that this feast first started in 1934. They serve well over 500 dinners in the hall on this day plus hundreds of more to-go orders. I always love this dinner because it's a great precursor for Thanksgiving! Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, homemade Amish pepper cabbage, and so much more. It was a good week of eating!

Dinners Cooked- 4
Dinners Out- 3
Winner- Dinners Cooked! Wahoo!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week 2 Review

Wow- this was a BAD week! I cooked Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas on Sunday night and the heart burn afterwards made me sick for a day. This weekend we embarked on our first camping trip and cooking on a campfire was a whole new breed of cooking for us!

On Friday night we cashed in a gift certificate to the Nauti Goose in North East, MD. Although the atmosphere was wondering eating on the Chesapeake Bay I was not overly impressed. The atmosphere was the best thing going for it. So disappointed we wasted a trip to North East by not eating at Woody's. But, it gives us an excuse to go down another weekend for their amazing crab bisque and other seafood dishes. Heaven on Earth... On Saturday I cooked sausage links and eggs on the campfire using a griddle. Sean's eggs (sunny side up) came out great... looked fantastic. My scrambled eggs were another story! They tasted fine, but since I only eat egg whites now it was a bit much. For lunch we made pizza mountain pies. I <3 mountain pies. So simple, yet somehow so delicious! Dinner consisted of hot dogs and s'mores. Although Avery says she liked camping, I think she really just liked the s'mores!

Back to reality tomorrow. On the menu, BBQ Pulled-Pork in the crock pot. One of my faves. Can't wait!

Dinners out- 3
Dinners cooked- 3 (no dinner Monday night)
Winner- Tie

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Been a slacker this week so far. Cooked on Sunday, felt sick and Sean made a steak for himself on Monday. And tonight I had a late meeting and we needed to run some errands so I had Salad Works at the Food Court.

Plan for tomorrow.... Grilled Porkchops and Sauteed Apples. This week is going to be a bad week though since we are going camping Friday-Sunday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tonight's adventure was Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas. But, before I take too much credit, I fully admit that this is from one of those McCormick spice kits that have the spices measured for you and all you do is follow the directions on the back. Did that prevent any major kitchen mishaps? No... what an adventure, but it was another great dinner!

Disaster number 1 of the night was that I totally didn't read the directions first and went to cook the fajitas only to realize the meat had to marinate for 30+ minutes. So, I quickly mixed the spices with orange juice and lime juice and began the 30 minute marinade. While the chicken marinated I worked on slicing the onion and green pepper. After the 30 minutes was up I grabbed the EVOO to add to the pan only to realize that it was supposed to go in the marinade. Oh well... Disaster #3 you will read about below in the recipe!

This was a quick, easy, delicious dinner... one that I am sure will grace our dinner table again in the future. However, I suspect the prep and cooking will go much better next time around!

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas- Easy Directions
Buy the McCormick spice packet in the baking aisle and follow directions on back :)

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas- Real Directions

1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced onions
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup each lime and orange juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips (I did this after they were cooked)
1 medium green or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 flour tortillas (8-inch)

1. Mix juices, olive oil, and spices in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade (and don't spill it all over the kitchen before using it! Disaster #3). Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag and pour in remaining marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor. While chicken marinates, cut pepper and onion.

2. Cook and stir chicken in large heated skillet on med-high heat for 4 mins. on each side or until cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Add bell pepper, onion, and reserved marinade to skillet; cook and stir for 5 minutes or until pepper is tender.

3. Return chicken to skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes or until chicken is heated through. During this time microwave your tortillas covered with a wet paper towel for 30 seconds to make the tortillas warm.

4. Spoon chicken mixture into tortillas. Serve with assorted toppings, if desired. We ate ours plain and there was plenty of flavor!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week 1 in Review

Well, although it was an atypical week for us, I did manage to cook great dinners 4 days this week. Okay- well the pasta with meat sauce wasn't great, but it was cooking. Thursday evening Sean and Avery had a date night to McDonald's since I was at an educators' forum at Millersville University and on Friday night we used a gift certificate to our favorite outdoor restaurant, TJ Rockwells in Elizabethtown. Wanted to squeeze that one in before the nice weather ran out and the deck closed for the season. Tonight we just ordered some pizza so we could enjoy the Phillies first play-off game against St. Louis. So... here are this past weeks' stats...

Dinners Cooked- 4
Dinners Out- 3
Winner- Dinners Cooked

Check back next week for some new creations. On the menu for the week Lime Chicken Fajitas, Apple Sage Porkchops and pesto. Mmm....