Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu Plan July 16-24, 2011

Saturday 16: French bread pizza with meatballs

Sunday 17: picnic for our church folk group: burgers, hot dogs, Dr. Pepper baked beans, corn relish, pasta salad, homemade sauerkraut

Monday 18: BBQ chicken in the slow cooker

Tuesday 19: chicken & dumplings

Wednesday 20: spaghetti

Thursday 21: combo tacos

Friday 22: not home

Saturday 23: burgers

Sunday 24: Mexican steak on the grill, Mini Farfalle

Mini Farfalle with Garlic and Onions

Here's a twist on a side dish I usually make with orzo. I was all set to make it tonight, and had already defrosted the chicken broth, when I discovered that I didn't have any orzo. So I improvised--and it was good!

1 small onion, chopped fine
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbl olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups mini bow-tie pasta
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When everything is soft, add the broth and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add pasta and peas, bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cover. Simmer 20 minutes. Stir in cheese and serve immediately.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Combo Tacos

Kind of a taco, kind of a burrito...very delicious.

1 can refried beans, heated
1 can Rotel (I used the lime & cilantro flavor)
1 lb. ground beef, browned & drained
1 small onion, chopped fine
10 flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar, Jack or a blend)
1 TBL adobo (if without pepper, add 1/2 tsp pepper)

After browning ground beef, saute the onions in the same pan until slightly caramelized. Return ground beef to pan and add Rotel and adobo. Simmer 10 minutes.
Serve on warmed tortillas with refried beans and cheese.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Cucumber Salad

It's time again for the Secret Recipe Club, where you visit a cooking blog, try one of their recipes, and report back.  No one knows who tried their recipe until they see the posts today.

This cucumber salad makes a nice simple side dish that's great for lunch or dinner in the summertime!  You don't get a huge amount, so if you're feeding a bunch or having a picnic, just increase the recipe.

Birthe's a wonderful photographer and the illustrations that accompany her recipes are amazing. New Yorker By Heart has many grilling recipes and also homemade pizza recipes! If I'd been sent to this blog at a colder time of year, I'd have chosen a pizza to try.

CUCUMBER SALAD from New Yorker By Heart

1 cucumber
2 TBL rice wine vinegar
2 TBL cider vinegar
1 tsp coarse salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 1/2 tsp sugar
(ADDED a few sprigs of garden-fresh dill)

Slice cucumber down the middle.  Scoop out the seeds.  Slice each half into 4 strips and then chop into small pieces.
Mix remaining ingredients (except dill) and pour over cucumber in small bowl.
Add dill sprigs and refrigerate a few hours until ready to serve.

Here's how to scoop the seeds out of the cucumber:  a melon baller works great!  As you can see, I had a little helper.

This blog is originally in Danish, which made things a challenge. I was thrilled to discover that the Google Chrome browser (which I use) automatically translates--but as a former language teacher I know that not all online translation works. I did guess at one ingredient in this recipe as it did not translate: risvinseddike which I am assuming is rice wine vinegar.

Some of the translation was funny--a few recipes called for items to be "executed" in the oven. Bake? Broil? Roast? I wasn't sure, so I kept to a simple recipe that I didn't think I'd lose in the translation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Menu Plan first half of July 2011

Is it a menu plan if you post it after the fact?  It's summer, and I've gotten more "fly by night" about menu planning, especially since attendance at dinner is sporadic as far as my 2 teens are concerned.  Very often I wind up changing the plan 3 or 4 times by the time 6:00 rolls around!

FRIDAY 1:   Shrimp scampi with pasta (now with pictures!)

SATURDAY 2:  Grilled chicken

SUNDAY 3:  Waffles

MONDAY 4:  Grilled steak

TUESDAY 5:  Carnitas

WEDNESDAY 6:  Maple-dijon chicken

THURSDAY 7:  Spaghetti

FRIDAY 8:  Homemade pizza (using the same dough as Calzones)

SATURDAY 9:  Burgers

SUNDAY 10:  not home

MONDAY 11:  Chicken piccata bites (now with pictures!)

TUESDAY 12:  not home

WEDNESDAY 13:  Beef noodle skillet

THURSDAY 14:  ate at the diner

FRIDAY 15:  Italian veal stew (now with pictures!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Cleaner Picker-Upper

Today I figured out a way to drain ground beef without making a huge mess and accidentally pouring grease down the sink (a BIG no-no if you don't want your drainpipes clogged).

My dirty-dish pile included a small skillet that someone had used to fry an egg for breakfast.  I lined it with 3 or 4 paper towels, then placed a colander inside.

Then I poured the cooked ground beef out of the big skillet and into the colander.

All the grease drained onto the towels below.

Sorry for that last shot--I know it's gross, but I wanted to show that there were NO spills.  I just carried the skillet with the towels right to the trash and dumped them in.  No mess and nothing down the drain.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


...that not everyone lives by the Pantry Principle.

Little Brother's friend is visiting for a sleepover.  I just sent them off to bed and reminded them to brush their teeth.

"I don't have a toothbrush," our visitor replied.

"I can fix that," I told him, and pulled a box out of the linen closet that had 5 or 6 new toothbrushes and a few tubes of toothpaste in it.

Wide-eyed, he asked me, "Are you a dentist?"

Nope.  And I'm not an Extreme Couponer either.  But I like to keep a few extras of life's little necessities around for times like these--when visitors don't remember to bring a toothbrush.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Everyone in my family likes calzones, but I haven't had the greatest success making them at home.  I had high hopes, though, when I bookmarked the recipe for Buffalo Chicken Calzones over at Once a Month Mom.
Since I don't like Buffalo chicken, I decided to make some of my calzones with barbecue chicken.  These wound up being the ones everyone loved. 

The next time, I filled the calzones with mozzarella cheese and sliced meatballs.  Once again, this was a hit!  (The pictures are from the meatball batch, but the technique is the same.)

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 cup Cheddar or Cheddar-Jack cheese, shredded
1 medium onion, caramelized
1 cup barbecue sauce

10 to 12 meatballs, sliced (1 per calzone)
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese

One sliced meatball per calzone.

Top with cheese (the kids want me to add more next time!)

Crimp it tightly so the filling doesn't leak out!

HOMEMADE PIZZA DOUGH from Once a Month Mom
15 ounces warm water
1 TBL active dry yeast
1 TBL sugar
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 TBL olive oil
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

This is the easiest pizza dough ever!  Just mix yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil with the warm water in a large bowl.  Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon.  No kneading necessary.  The dough will not look or feel like a kneaded bread dough, but don't worry!  Cover with a towel and let it rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.  (In summer, if I have the air conditioner on, I take the covered bread bowl out to the porch to rise the dough.)
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and divide it into 10 to 12 portions for calzones.

Calzone dough immediately after mixing.
2 hours later, here's the dough after rising!

TO BAKE:   Place finished calzones on cookie sheet (I cover the sheet in parchment paper.)  Brush tops of calzones with olive oil.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.  Bake in preheated 450-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Print this recipe!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Now with Pictures!!

I'm not the finest photographer in the world, but I do love to see photos of a finished dish (and sometimes, photos of work in progress helps me make sense of the steps.)

So, since I like that feature in other people's blogs, I've been trying to include it in my own.

Last night I made Shrimp Scampi with Linguine and photographed that before we dug in.

Are you hungry yet?  (Yes, I added the photo to my recipe post, but I put it here to whet your appetite.)  I'd eat this again today, but we're out of shrimp now.

I admit that the photo-adding idea is not my own; Kristen at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker has been working on this project, and her determination has inspired me to fill in my own recipe-photo gaps.  Thanks, Kristen!


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