Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Caesar Crumb Chicken

See the recipe, photo and nutrition information at Cook and Count!

Menu Plan March 28-April 3, 2010

SUN 28: Pork chops in lemon and garlic marinade, stuffing, vegetables

MON 29: Chicken drumsticks with apricot-mustard glaze, brown rice, vegetables

TUES 30: Country-style ribs, hash-brown casserole, salad

WED 31: Tacos

THURS 1: Chinese takeout

FRI 2: Grilled cheese sandwiches and clam chowder, our traditional Good Friday meal

SAT 3: Ravioli with meatballs

Menu Plan March 15-28, 2010

Looks like I'm behind again! Here's the rundown on what we ate the past 2 weeks.

SUN 14: Caesar crumb chicken, orzo, vegetables

MON 15: Turkey enchiladas

TUES 16: Spaghetti

WED 17: Shepherd's Pie

THURS 18: Tacos

FRI 19: Ravioli with marinara sauce

SAT 20: family St. Patrick's Day party

SUN 21: Eagle Scout award dinner

MON 22: Chicken Caroline

TUES 23: Pork Carnitas

WED 24: Chicken Marsala bites

THURS 25: Spaghetti

FRI 26: Flatbread pizza

SAT 27: Takeout

Ranger Cookies

I cannot believe I hadn't already posted this recipe! These are delicious cookies! Don't tell that there's coconut in there--no one will ever know! (Of course, this advice does not apply in case of allergy.)

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups oats, rolled (raw)
2 cups rice krispies®
1 cup coconut

Cream sugars and butter.
Add egg and vanilla.
Add flour, salt, soda & powder.
Add remaining ingredients.
Scoop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes at 400 until lightly brown.
(I line my baking sheets with a silicone liner and bake these cookies about 12 minutes).
Makes about 5 to 6 dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What to Serve on Easter?

I'm undecided.
Ham or turkey?

Ham is the traditional Easter dish in my family. It's easy to make, and that helps a lot when you're playing at the NOON Mass. And we all like it--once. But then I think about all the leftovers, and we really don't eat up ham leftovers very well. All the casseroles I've tried that include leftover ham are never a hit with my crew.

Turkey is a hit with everyone. There are any number of things I can make with leftover turkey that my family will actually eat. But turkey takes longer to prepare, especially since I'd want to have homemade stuffing with it. I could make it work, but it would take a good amount of organization, something which I've really been lacking lately.

I've got to make the final plan and grocery list soon. I'll have to poll the family, too. Your input would be appreciated.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Question for the Scientists

I recently found a deal on Rice-a-Roni and Pasta Roni, so I've opened up a couple of boxed side-dish mixes in the past couple of weeks. (Hey, it was practically free!)

All of them, on the directions, call for "butter or margarine or spread without trans fats."

Here's my question: do the trans fats in some spreads cause the spread to melt differently, in a way that would mess up the sauce in either texture or flavor, or have the Food Police invaded Rice-a-Roni? It's certainly no nutritional superstar even without the trans fats, with all the sodium that comes in each box.

So what's up with that?

Pork Carnitas in the Nesco Roaster

The original recipe can be found at A Year of Slow Cooking. I modified the directions to work with a 6-quart Nesco roaster, which can slow-cook, but not quite as slowly as a traditional slow cooker. I also used a different cut of meat than the original recipe called for; I was using what I had in the house.

I'm pleased with the results. This made a lot, and I'll freeze the extra for sometime when I need a quick meal (just reheat and serve in warm tortillas!)

2 pounds boneless pork roast
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice (about 1 large lime)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 cup beef broth
flour tortillas
sour cream and salsa for toppings

Use a 6 quart Nesco roaster. Preheat to 400. Rub salt and cumin all over the pork, then put the pork into the roaster. Add garlic. Mix the lime juice, orange juice and beef broth. Pour this mixture evenly over the top.

Turn the roaster down to 225 and cook for about 5 to 5 1/2 hours, or until the pork shreds quite easily with a fork. Remove the meat, leaving the drippings in the roaster. Completely shred the meat and return it to the roaster. Mix it with the drippings, cover, and turn the temperature down to "keep warm" until you're ready to serve it.

Serve on warmed tortillas with desired toppings.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This was our St. Patrick's Day meal.  I got the recipe from Barbara at Bless Us, O Lord.  I changed a couple of things, so the recipe below is the way I made it.

Shepherd's Pie
salt and black pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large onion, finely diced
2 c. frozen peas & carrots
3/4 t. dried thyme
2 T. flour
1 T. butter
1/4 c. red wine
3 T. ketchup
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chicken stock (beef could also be used)
5 to 6 potatoes, boiled and mashed with milk and butter
1/2 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Melt about 1 T. butter in pan. Add onions and saute for a minute or two, then add the meat. Season with black pepper and thyme. Cook until browned, then drain any fat. Add the butter and peas & carrots. Sprinkle with flour and stir through. Add ketchup, wine and Worcestershire sauce. Let this reduce slightly, then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to taste.

Remove from heat. Pour into 9X13 casserole. (I learned the hard way that this is just too much food for a 2-quart baker!)  Mix cheese into the mashed potatoes, then spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. 

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.

NOTE:  My family wasn't crazy about the peas, so next time it might just be carrots in the Shepherd's Pie.  There WILL be a next time!  Also, I thought the Worcestershire sauce tasted really strong, so I will reduce that amount in the future.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Menu Plan March 8-14, 2010

MONDAY:  Chicken piccata bites, rice, broccoli


WEDNESDAY:  Sausage & pepper sandwiches

THURSDAY:  takeout

FRIDAY:  pizza

SATURDAY:  neighbor's birthday party

SUNDAY:  chicken drumsticks, Greek potatoes, vegetables

Irish Soda Bread

In honor of St. Patrick's Day! 

There are as many recipes for Irish Soda Bread as there are Irish cooks.  This is how my mom makes it; she got the recipe from a friend.

Get the recipe at Cook and Count.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Taco Tip

The other day I was really tired, having gotten up at 3:30 AM to take Big Brother to school for his senior trip.  I was happy that there was some premade taco meat in the freezer.

When I went to heat it up, though, it seemed kind of dry.  So I added in about 1/3 cup of salsa.  It moistened the meat and gave it a really good flavor.  Next time, that's going to be standard!

Do You Sit While You Cook?

My grandmother used to sit at the table and peel potatoes, cut turnips, and do all sorts of meal prep. I'm taller than she was (which isn't saying much!), but I find sitting uncomfortable because I'm not at the right height to work at the table. Kitchen chairs are just not high enough.

I recently found that this Winsome Saddle Seat Stool is perfect for working in my kitchen.  On those days when my feet are tired and I just don't want to stand there and chop stuff, I can pull the stool out from under the kitchen table (it fits perfectly) and have a comfortable spot to sit where I work.  The crossbars work well as a footrest, too!

This stool is 24" high, just right for working at the table.  It also is great for extra seating in any room.  Basic black goes with everything.  It comes unassembled, but I was able to put it together in about 15 minutes--all you need is an Allen wrench, which is provided in the box.

My kids all want one of these for their room, but this stool is mine and it's staying in the kitchen!

I received no financial compensation from CSN Stores or the manufacturer for this review, although I did get to keep the stool.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Meal-Planning Miscellaneous

In the past week or so I have seen a couple of really delicious-looking pasta recipes over at Amanda's Cookin'. That got me thinking: I'd love to plan a Pasta Week. Of course, that might have to wait until my husband goes out of town on business, because he's not the biggest fan of pasta.

I might feel differently about cooking more pasta after tonight's Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner. I'm doing the cooking--and it's spaghetti and meatballs. I bought bagged meatballs (bless me, Father, for I have sinned) but I refuse to buy jar sauce. I'll be heading over there in a few minutes to start the sauce in 2 Nesco roasters. Homemade sauce really only takes minutes to put together, and then the longer you let it simmer, the better it will be.

This coming week, Big Brother will be out of town from Tuesday through Saturday, on the senior-class trip. That means I'm only cooking for 4, and my Most Appreciative Eater won't be here. Also, he'll give me a guilt trip if I make any of his favorites in his absence.

Oh, I tried Tami's Greek Potatoes last night and they were a hit all around. My husband usually puts ketchup on any roasted potatoes I make, but he didn't this time. I'll make these again, probably soon! They were a great side item for baked fish.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Olive Garden-Style breadsticks

I worked up this recipe so I can have anywhere from 8 to 32 breadsticks.

yeast                1/2 tbl     1 tbl            2 tbl
water                ¾ cup     1 ½ cup      3 cups
flour                 2 ¼ cup   4 ¼ cup      8 ½ cups
butter, softened 1 tbl         2 tbl          4 tbl
sugar                1 tbl          2 tbl         4 tbl
salt                   1 ½ tsp     1 tbl         2 tbl

TOPPINGS             HALF        WHOLE      DOUBLE

butter, melted   4 tbl        6 to 8 tbl      12+ tbl
salt                    ¼ tsp      ½ tsp            1 tsp
garlic powder     1/8 tsp    ¼ tsp           ½ tsp
dried oregano     pinch      1/8 tsp         ¼ tsp

Proof yeast in ¼ cup of the water in mixer bowl for 5 minutes. Add flour, butter, sugar, salt and remaining water. Mix with paddle attachment until slightly sticky dough forms (5 minutes).

Knead 3 minutes. Shape into breadsticks. Arrange on covered baking sheet (silicone or parchment) Cover and rise 45 minutes.

Brush with half the melted butter, sprinkle with half the salt. Bake at 375 to 400 about 15 minutes. Top with remaining butter and seasonings.

Whole recipe makes about 16 breadsticks.


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