Monday, December 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday ~ Christmas Week!

Yea! Christmas is almost here! Currently it is snowing outside, in fact, it is supposed to snow/sleet the entire week. It smacks of a down-home Christmas where all the family drinks hot cocoa, reading books by the fire place and throws holiday movies into the dvd player and cuddles together underneath the blankets. Ah, yes, we'll see how it pans out in reality :) One thing, our little family will be alone this Christmas. In some ways, it is sad. But in other ways, I enjoy being able to make our own little traditions. Like singing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning over a danish/coffee cake lit with candles. And reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke. Focusing on what a wonderful gift we have been given in our Savior!

Monday: Pesto Chicken (pesto from this year's basil harvest!), Baked Sweet Potatoes with butter and cinnamon sugar, & Salad
Tuesday: Parmesan Tilapia, Cous Cous, & Peas (this has been on the menu for weeks but for some reason it never actually gets made!)
Wednesday: BBQ Pork (crockpot), Baked Potatoes, Salad
Thursday (Christmas Eve!): Our Tradition: Knoephla Soup & Summer Sausage Sandwiches
Friday (Christmas Day!): We are foregoing the ham and making Manicotti Alla Romana & Salad, appropriate since it has both a red and a white sauce on it :)

Now, I hope to bake bread, bake a danish, make marshmallows and make a chocolate/mocha cheesecake (this one via the pressure cooker). It sounds busy and it's good thing that the roads will be horrible so I'll have to stay home and stay in the kitchen!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 12/14/09

A short week, due to the holidays and family but I tried to make it good :)

Monday: Mushroom Sauced Roast Beef (from the BH&G cookbook), Au Gratin Potatoes & Salad
Tuesday: Parmesan Tilapia, Cous Cous, & Peas
Wednesday: Swiss Chicken Casserole & Salad
Thursday: Ravioli, Salad & Breadsticks

The Best French Toast EVER!

Mike, a few months ago, requested that I make a bread called Challah. It is a traditional Jewish bread that is well, very rich. I used this recipe, although please note that the recipe does not call for rapid rise yeast but you really must use rapid rise, a.ka. instant yeast, if you really want to make this in a hurry. I finally got around to it last week and it turned out pretty well. I'm more of a sourdough or French bread kinda girl myself but Mike and the kids loved it!

Then, the next morning, Mike made us French toast. One might say that using French bread is the only way to really make French toast. I DARE this person to try this recipe and not fall in love. It is that good. Yes, that good. Let me please also note, that Mike did use a good quality egg nog to replace the half and half - but he cut down on the egg and a little on the sugar too to make up for that. The one thing that made this recipe stand out is the use of orange zest - a new must for our French Toast.

Challah French Toast (by Ina Garten)


  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon good honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large loaf challah or brioche bread
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil

To serve:

  • Pure maple syrup
  • Good raspberry preserves (optional)
  • Sifted confectioners' sugar (optional)


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for 5 minutes, turning once.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it's all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup, raspberry preserves, and/or confectioners' sugar.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 11/30/09

"Thirty days past September, April, May and NOVEMBER!" Yikes, November is over. Christmas, I mean, December is here! I've got a good start to my Christmas list. However, I've been invited to two cookie exchanges so I've definitely got some extra baking to do. :)

Monday: Sage Pork Chops, Sweet Potato Fries, Green Beans
Tuesday: Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Rice & Coleslaw
Wednesday: Tacos, Homemade Refried Black Beans, Salad
Thursday: Parmesan Tilapia, Parsley Potatoes, Salad
Friday: 15 Bean Soup & Crusty Bread

Monday, November 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - THANKSGIVING!

How wonderful that our nation's founders, culminating with Abraham Lincoln, decided to set aside one day a year to give thanks. We, in our household, are very thankful for all of you! And who are we thankful to? Why, our Heavenly Father! As I recently memorized in James chapter 1 - "Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers, every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow or change due to variation."

This week's menu:

Monday: Butternut Squash Risotto (need to cook some butternut squash for a pie!) & Almond Green Beans
Tuesday: Chicken Noodle Soup
Wednesday: Shipwrecks & Veggies with Dip
Thursday: Spicy-rubbed Turkey Breast, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Apple-Onion Stuffing, Salad (etc.)
Friday: BBQ Turkey Pizza and Green Salad

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 11/9/09

It is Holiday Specialtea week! Yea! Now all the work really goes to everyone else and they can make all the recipes that myself and a good friend included picked out. Pray for these women! Lord willing, no one will get sick.

This week's menu:

Monday: Roast Chicken, Rice and Roasted Asparagus
Tuesday: Five Minute Tomato Sauce (pressure cooker recipe) and Pasta, Salad
Wednesday: Spinach Tortellini Soup
Thursday: Chicken Tacos, Refried Beans, Salad
Friday: Cheeseburgers & French Fries

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sage Harvest

This year I started a bunch of sage plants from seeds. They are a perennial here and I think the gray-green foliage is pretty. I also like sage. Sage is delicious paired with pork and with another favorite garden produce item - butternut squash. Mmmmm....sage scented butternut squash soup - delicious!

So anyway, winter IS coming. It has already made it's presence felt a few days this fall. So I harvested some sage. All I did was place it on a cookie cooling rack. Then I left it in an out of the way spot (in this house, that means up HIGH!). After a few weeks I needed the cookie rack so I checked on it. Yep, it was dry! So then what was I to do?

I figured that I would one of my presents from birthdays past. This time it was a molcajete or in normal speak - mortar and pestle. It did the job fantastically and the product looks so much better than the dried rubbed sage I buy at the store.



Another Week of Menus

Alright, posting a day late again, but posting regardless!

Monday: Pesto Chicken, Brown Rice w/ herbs (baked), & Broccoli
Tuesday: Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes & Peppers (Rick Bayless) & Mashed Potatoes
Wednesday: Tatertot Hotdish & Romaine Salad
Thursday: Broiled Salmon, Raisin Cous Cous & Dilled Peas
Friday: Pizza!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 10/26/09

I've got news! The day we left for vacation, I found out that I took third place in the Mom's Best Cookie Recipe Contest. Yea! Check out the sponsor, The Sugar Association and their blog for the winning recipes. I've got my eye set on some other contests! And lots and lots of ideas floating around in my head for them.

On to business, this week's menu:

Monday: Black Bean-Chicken Tostadas (Rick Bayless recipe) and Salad
Tuesday: Butternut Squash Risotto (Ina Garten recipe) and Green Beans
Wednesday: Black Bean Soup & Salad
Thursday: Chicken with Thyme & Garlic Sauce (crockpot recipe), Cous Cous & Salad
Friday: Pizza! & Salad

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Multitude of Breads

I've been up to my ears in breads. MMMmmmmm. I do love bread. There is no way on earth that I could ever do an Atkins-type diet. No bread? How horrific!

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am working on a list of breads and spreads to be the taste samples for our wonderful church's Holiday Specialtea. Last week I really kicked it into high gear and made a large assortment of breads so I thought I'd share my findings with you. (The recipe titles are hyper-linked so go ahead and click to see the recipe).

Okay the first I made was Syrian Bread. It turned out pretty well. The first two did not puff up but the last six did. It really wasn't anything special. I think I would have preferred it to be a whole wheat pita. It was fun to use them for pita sandwiches with the kids. Over all, I give it a B- and think I'd look for another recipe for pita bread. So this one was taken off the list.

The second bread of the week was King Arthur's Asagio Ciabatta. This one is a two day process but relatively simple to make. The bread tasted great the first day - loved the chunks of oozy cheese. Sliced and used to make a turkey sandwich the next day, my husband said it was good enough to cater. I'm an even bigger fan of cheese than I am bread so putting the two of them together can't be wrong. This one goes on the list!

Next, I tried Lavash Cracker Bread. Very, very similar to the Syrian Bread in ingredients but totally different in texture. I felt it needed some visual "oomf" so I sprinkled with black sesame seeds while I rolled the subsequent rounds. They do need to be docked (pricked all over with a fork) before they were baked. I know the recipe author says you need to roll them very, very thin but I did and the first two still puffed up like pita bread. The docking took care of that problem. I paired this with a spread - Greek Feta and Olive spread. Oh my. OH MY! If you love Greek food (and I do!) then by all means, you must make this yummy spread. Delish!

Lastly, not to leave out our sweet breads, I made Coconut Pineapple Loaf Cake from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food PBS show. I know Martha Stewart has a reputation for using expensive, hard-to-find ingredients but Everyday Food is not like that at all. This quick bread/cake was a big hit at our small group bible study last night. Different and easy to make I call it a winner. The only change I would make would be to use pineapple tidbits (very well drained - maybe even pressed in a paper towel) and would be to increase the baking time by another 15 minutes.

So there you go! I'm sorry I don't have photos. I really should have snapped some but you know how life goes!

Menu Plan Monday 10/05/09

For all you menu plan gawkers:

Monday: Cochinita Pibil, Rice & Green Salad
Tuesday: Ziti with Tomatoes & Mushrooms (from "Pressure Perfect") and Spinach Salad
Wednesday: Butternut Squash Soup with Sour Cream & Bacon, Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Thursday: Chicken Fettuccine & Green Bean Almondine
Friday: Good Ole Pizza

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 9/28/09

Wow! Where has September gone? It seems silly to ask that question but still! Before I know it November will be here and that means our church's Holiday Specialtea is almost upon on us and I'm still in the midst of wading through sample recipes for it. We provide samples of fun foods to try along with recipe cards and also a nice meal (someone else is in charge of this area - Praise the Lord!). This is a great outreach into our community and I am so grateful to be a part of it. But it is time to kick into high gear! I'll be making lots of breads and spreads this week (this year's theme) - pray for me!

Monday: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Tuesday: Beef Tortellini with Marinara Sauce, Salad
Wednesday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, Refried Beans, & Salad
Thursday: Parmesean Sage Pork Chops, Brown Rice & Green Beans
Friday: Hamburgers & Oven Fries

Monday, September 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 9/21/09

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks because, well, because I've been busy! But isn't everyone busy? So that really is a lame excuse. I have still worked from a menu plan. I find it very hard to go grocery shopping without one so it is necessary to do. My wonderful husband is gone Monday through Wednesday on work this week so I'm just cooking for the kids and me - so easy does it!

Monday: Pigs-in-a-blanket, Fruit Salad & Veggies w/Dip
Tuesday: French Toast, Bacon & Fruit Salad
Wednesday: Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Oven Fries & Green Beans
Thursday: Pesto Chicken in Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Salad
Friday: Grilled Salmon, Raisin Cous Cous & Salad

Monday, August 31, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8/31/09

Watch out everyone! September is HERE! Or will be tomorrow at least. Are you ready for fall? I love fall but I'm not quite sure where summer went.

Monday: Roast Turkey, Cheesy Potatoes, & Wax Beans
Tuesday: Browned Pork Chops, Risotto (pressure cooker), & Salad
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes, Oven Fries, & Veggies w/ Dip
Thursday: Cheesy Turkey Pot Pie (first time using crescent roll dough as the top) & Salad
Friday: Pizza! and I may make some homemade Jalapeno Poppers too....

The other thing I know I need to make this week is hot sauce. Looking for some good recipes! But I bascially think I got it worked out to how I'm going to make it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday (er, Tuesday! 8/24/09)

Monday: Salmon with Dill Yogurt Sauce (added diced cucumber to the sauce), Cous Cous & Green Beans
Tuesday: Chicken Tacos, Black Beans, Homemade Salsa & Chips
Wednesday: Easy Slow Cooker French Dip, Roasted Potatoes & Squash
Thursday: Eggplant Parmesean & Salad
Friday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Monday, August 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8/17/09

I sat and stared at the computer screen a long, long time before I could come up with a menu for this week. Sometimes I just get tired of doing it but I know it is so much better to have a plan. I think I'll be pretty excited when cooler weather comes and we can have soups and stews again (just like I'm excited when grilling weather comes in the spring!). This week I also have plans for putting up some more garden produce. I'll be pickling jalapenos and I think I'll go ahead and do some dill pickle slices too. Although, I really would like to crinkle cut them - I just think they look so much nicer when they are crinkle cut! I'd also like to make some marinara sauce. If anyone out their has a great, approved for canning in a BWB canner marinara sauce recipe then please do share!!

Monday: Chicken Fajitas, Refried Beans, Chips & Salsa
Tuesday: Blue Cheese Burgers, Oven Fries, & Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob
Wednesday: Sauteed Chicken Breasts, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, & Green Salad
Thursday: Grilled Salmon, CousCous & Green Beans
Friday: Parmesan Sage Pork Chops (on, Wild Rice, Sauteed Squash

Monday, August 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8/10/09

It is August and we really should be having cucumber salad every night. Yes, I've got cucumbers. I did make some freezer pickles. Yes, I said freezer pickles. But I don't really have plans to make anymore pickles since I still have 6 jars of pickles in the basement from last year. Plus, I also have pickle relish. I've toyed with the idea of making faux apple rings (you know red hot candy and cinnamon flavored) but every recipe I see calls for pickling lime. I don't want to have to buy pickling lime.

Now the big question is whether I should make salsa or if I should make marinara sauce with my tomatoes. Hmmmmmm. I have all the stuff for both. I really do like freshly made salsa. I wonder if I can freeze my hot peppers and just use them through out the year? I've roasted and peeled some of my Anaheim peppers and froze them in cut rings. They'll make great "green diced chiles" through out the year.

Enough rambling:

Monday: Grilled Pork Chops & Peaches, BBQ Beans
Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Salad
Wednesday: Lime Marinated Grilled Chicken and Salsa Pasta Salad
Thursday: Parmesan Tilapia, Grilled Summer Squash, Rice
Friday: Hot dogs, Grilled Corn & Cucumber Salad

Please go to I'm An Organizing Junkie for more menu plan ideas :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Menu Plan Catch Up!

Yes, I'm playing catch up big time here with my menu planning. It's not that I haven't had a plan but just that I haven't gotten to posting it (read pure laziness if you'd like). But after Mike came home today asking about it and a friend mentioned looking at my menu plans tonight, I figured I better get it up. Keeps me honest :)

The garden is really producing now so we're eating a lot of fresh vegetables. I love it!

Last week's menu:

Monday: Salmon, Rice & Salad
Tuesday: Grilled Carribean Jerk Chicken, Cucumber Salad, Cous Cous
Wednesday: Moo Shu Pork with Noodles & Egg Drop Soup
Thursday: Grilled Cheeseburgers & Oven Fries
Friday: loving dh brought home supper
Saturday: Pizza Margherita & Salad

This week's menu:

Monday: Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Salad & Sourdough Garlic Bread
Tuesday: Tacos (I snuck in yellow squash in the meat!), Refried Beans, Chips & Salsa
Wednesday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches & Fresh Veggies with dip
Thursday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches & Chips
Friday: Thai Chicken Pizza & Salad

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sourdough Success!

Yesterday I baked my first loaf of sourdough bread from my own homemade starter! Sweet success! (or should I say "sour"?) I really couldn't believe that it worked but work it did.

My earlier post on this subject showed the original starter recipe. From that I fed the starter every day with 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 cup flour. I used various types of flour that I have in the pantry (always wheat flour). I figured in the end that it wasn't going to work so I just ran warm tap water instead of the bottled water I began with. One day I decided to add a 1/4 teaspoon of cider vinegar. Another day I may have added 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. But I think it worked because as one article I read stated "people who didn't believe the Earth was round did this for millenia. Do check out the hyper-linked article above - the author really made this whole process seem doable instead of insurmountable like in this article. Both provide a wealth of information.

The best news of all is that both Mike and kids actually like the taste of the bread. Luke says it tastes "lemony" and Mike had extras at supper last night. So over all it is a hit and I have more starter in the fridge!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 7/20/09

Is it July? I mean, really, it has been exceptionally cool. It is weird. But on the total upside, we've gotten to go for some family bike rides in the evenings, checking out and exploring some local trails and parks. I've also been more prone to take the kids to the park. But it is July, despite the lack of heat and that means that it is Mike's birthday this week! I'll be making him a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. From a box. Yes, from a box. My guilt will be overcome by the sourdough bread that I'm making from my own wild yeast and the blueberry jam that I'm planning to put up this week.

Without further ramblings:

Monday: Italian Beef Roast (crockpot), roasted baby potatoes & dilled carrots
Tuesday: General Tso's Chicken with Rice & Green Salad
Wednesday: Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches & Chips (with meat leftover from Monday)
Thursday: Manicotti Alla Romana & Green Salad (Mike's birthday choice)
Friday: May or may not be at home....?
Saturday: Date Night (and I'm not talking figs)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sourdough Exploration...

So I have this friend who is doing all this reading on artisan breads. So I decided to do some reading too. :) An online search produced masses of recipes and information. From everyone I've talked to, making your own sourdough starter outside of using packaged yeast (i.e. capturing wild yeast), is a difficult and elusive thing to do. So I figured, let's give it a try! lol

I'm likening the process to a fermentation process. And right now, in my basement, I am currently fermenting the cabbage from my garden to make sauerkraut. So why not try it upstairs on the counter and make a sourdough starter? The cabbage is fermenting so I must have wild yeast beasties running a muck in my house, right? (notice how I keep seeking your affirmation as I'm typing this).

After reading a short on-line sourdough starter recipe, I cut it in half and mixed together in a toss-able plastic container:

1 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat flour
1 cup water (I used bottle spring - figured the chlorine would probably hinder the yeast growth)
1 Tbl Sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Then I sat it on the counter and covered it lightly with the container's lid. I thought, "I'm crazy" and walked away. Last night I saw that water had separated and was floating on top. I left it alone. This morning, their is no liquid floating on top but but there are bubbles in the mixture. Could this be the beginning of the fermentation? I think so! I'm pretty pumped over the whole thing and I'll (hopefully) keep you updated.

Menu Plan Monday 7/13/09

Well, I never did get to posting the chicken & squash bake. But I do have a good excuse - I'm potty-training our youngest! That really is a full time job in and of itself. But I did have time to menu plan! Here's what we had and are going to have..

Monday: Cabbage Rolls & Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday: Apricot Pork Chops, Rice & Salad
Wednesday: Crockpot Whole Chickens, Risotto, & Peas
Thursday: Cheesy Ham & Potato Casserole with Mixed Veggies
Friday: Chicken Taco Salad
Saturday: Pizza Margherita (come on tomatoes - ripen!)

Pizza Margherita is simply where I take homemade pizza dough and slather it in it's round shape with olive oil. Then I sprinkle Italian seasoning and garlic powder on it. The toppings are sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, & mozzarella cheese (I've used both fresh and the "regular" kind). I usually add some parmesan cheese too. It is very tasty and cheap! Especially when you have tomatoes & basil growing in your garden. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 7/6/09

We are just back from vacation. Time to get back to reality! We had lots of fun and it was so nice not to have to cook every night. But in the end, I really do like to cook. Most days this week will be pretty easy. Here's the menu!

Monday: Hot Dogs, Homemade Baked Beans (pressure cooker), Green Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (we've got Anaheim peppers in the garden!)
Wednesday: Fish Tacos, Fiesta Corn on the Cob, Watermelon
Thursday: Italian Chicken & Squash Bake with Garlic Bread
Friday: Cheeseburgers, Chips & Fruit Salad

I've got an idea for the fiesta corn - not sure how it will turn out. Hopefully it'll be a winner! I'll post the Italian Chicken & Squash Bake later in the week (my summer squash is no where near being ready but my friend Horn Herd Mom was so nice as to give me some!). I've also got an idea floating around in my head for the garlic bread. I'm going to go more for an artisan style bread.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cabbage & Apple Saute

Two posts in one day? Will wonders never cease?

I've actually got to get this written down because I made it up last night and I want to remember how I did it so I can recreate it.

Now some people are not big cabbage fans. I'd have to say that once upon a time, I would have considered myself part of this group. However, my strong German ancestry is starting to make itself more and more known in my taste buds (hmmm, they probably never ate Thai food though....hmmm). Anyway, cabbage is now very much part of my diet. This is my first year growing it in the garden. It is one of those veggies that are just so cheap, why bother growing your own? I'm glad that I am though!

Alright, here's the recipe:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup onion, sliced
6-8 cups rough chopped cabbage (green or red)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
1 Tbl sugar
1 large apple, cored and sliced
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large, deep saute pan, soften onion in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cabbage, vinegar, apple juice, and sugar. Stir to make sure the cabbage is tossed with the liquids. Cover and allow to cook down - about 7 minutes. Add the apples, salt & pepper. Stir again. Cover, allow to finish cooking - approximately another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

We ate this with venison sausage and hot buttered noodles tossed with basil & chives. Enjoy!

Yes, Strawberry Ice Cream

I asked the kids the other week, "What kind of ice cream do you want me to make?" In my mind, the fruit and ice cream really don't go together but the answer was unanimous - any kind of ice cream that has berries!

In my fridge was a big ole package of strawberries from Fareway. We had used some but I knew the others needed to be used quickly so it was really the perfect use for them. A quick search on the internet came up with this recipe.

Strawberry Ice Cream

recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: Christy J.
Photo By: Trisha
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Servings: 6
"This vibrant frozen dessert offers fresh berry flavor at its best."
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
3/4 cup white sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1. Place the berries into the container of a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Pour into a large bowl, and set aside.
2. Heat 1 1/4 cups of the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble at the edge of the pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, remaining 1/4 cup cream, and corn syrup. Gradually pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Strain custard into the berry puree through a sieve, mix, and refrigerate until chilled.
3. Fill an ice cream maker with the mixture, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Now, some people suggested leaving some of the strawberries out of the puree. I, emphatically think this is a bad idea. I mean, a frozen berry in your mouth when you are eating a smooth and creamy dessert? No thank you! So I blended all the berries. Here are some before and after pictures.

As you can see, the pureeing really makes a difference in the total volume (as opposed to the mass - can you tell I'm married to an engineer?).

I didn't get a picture of making the custard. I did use a wooden spoon as opposed to a metal spoon. When you can swipe a finger across the back of it and see the trail it is done. It really doesn't take that long. What takes a longer time is for the ice cream base to cool down before you put it in the ice cream maker!

Here's one last picture just because I thought it was so pretty when I poured the custard into the strawberries:

I didn't get a picture of the finished product but it was a very lovely color and what is more important - it tasted awesome! The strawberry flavor was very intense. It was awesome with chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top. I think some cut up bananas would have made the sundae over the top! We also used this in smoothies. Very good!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 6/22/09

Whew! Summer has most definitely hit Iowa! This week is VBS at our church and I get the privilege of helping with the "game" station. So are outside and it is muggy and hot and very rewarding! But I definitely don't feel like heating up the kitchen anymore than I need to so here's the menu I came up with for the week:

Monday: Fish Tacos & Black bean-Red pepper-Quinoa Salad
Tuesday: Cheese Filled Ravioli with Red Sauce & Salad
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes & Chips
Thursday: Sassy Grilled Chicken, Cous Cous & Dilled Peas
Friday: Grilled Margerhita Pizza & Salad

Soon to come (I promise!), my attempt at making Strawberry Ice Cream. Mmmmmm.....

Friday, June 19, 2009

2009 Festival of Breads - My Experience

We are back from my first experience in the world of food competition. I could have also entitled this "The Greenhorn" or "Lessons From a Kansas Ballroom" but instead went with a more general title. I learned SO much in regards to wheat, the people of Kansas and to baking bread. I also learned more than I wanted to about how to bake in a hotel ballroom. I've come to the conclusion that I LOVE my humble kitchen!

After my oldest daughter's dance recital on Sunday, we headed off on our adventure. Traveling with the three kids went pretty well. We spent the first night in Olathe, KS and finished the drive on Monday to Wichita. The Hilton was our home base and also where the competition was held. It was a lovely hotel. Abby and I went to do some exploring soon after arriving, because quite frankly, all three kids should not be confined to a small place together for more than 2 hours at a time.

Wandering the hall, a man came up and said, "You look familiar. I think I know you." I'd never seen him before, thus I said, "I don't think so." To which he replied, "Tanna, right?" So I was introduced to the fact that everyone knew who I was by seeing my picture beforehand - a very weird feeling! His name was Bill and he was part of the Kansas Wheat Commission (KWC). Everyone from the KWC was wonderful! I've never felt so welcomed before. They put all of us contestants at ease.

We had a full three days. The first evening was a trip to Cowtown in Wichita. Cowtown is a living history town set circa the late 1800's. We had the run of the place and had fun wandering from building to building seeing how people used to live. We even got a ride in horse drawn wagon! There, we also were treated to a barbecue dinner and a concert by the Diamond W Wranglers band. Great cowboy music! Check them out if you get a chance.

Here are the 8 Finalists at Cowtown:

The next day we had an early breakfast and got to check out where we would be baking on Wednesday. We got to check all of our equipment; later we got to check all our ingredients. Then we went on a day long tour of the wheat industry. We started at the Cargill grain mill in town, then out to a farm for lunch and got to witness the combining of a small patch of wheat. Then we followed the wheat to the grain elevator where they explained the analysis and storage of the wheat. It was all very interesting and I felt right at home being a farmer's daughter. The people we met were passionate about their products from farm to mill to plate. I think the wheat industry is in good hands!

Now, let me talk about the other finalists. What a neat bunch of ladies! The majority of them had been in national food competitions before so I was definitely the youngest and the complete rookie of the bunch. But they were all very encouraging. We laughed as we were all hanging off of each others words as we chatted about cooking and our past experiences. I got a few tips of the trade and really met some characters! Marjorie Johnson was probably the biggest character there and I can see why the television world has sought her out. What fun she is! Jessie Grearson was so fun and encouraging to be around as she is another fellow gardener and cook. I really enjoyed getting to know her more. And the winner, Dianna Wara was also an encouragement when I was feeling defeated after the issues I had on baking day.

Me and Marjorie:

Ahhhh, yes, my issues. I didn't really think about the problems or issues that I may have baking bread in a large space that is not my own kitchen. I've made this bread so many times that it really is second nature. In fact, I probably ended up taking that for granted. We started at 7:30 am. The room was cool due to the air conditioning and the atmosphere was humid outside. Whatever the case, I had the worst time getting my bread to rise properly. I ended up baking it but it was a full inch or more shorter than what it usually is here at home. So before I had that out of the pans, I made another batch of dough and set that to raise in some new pans that I was given there that I hadn't used before, on the stove top to utilize the heat from the oven. Well, that dough raised well but not evenly and ended out coming out flat on top (tasting good but not pretty). I thought it was due to the new pans and went ahead and did another batch in my own pans from home. Set it again on the oven top to raise. After that had raised and was again flat, I realized my mistake was not the pans but the fact of where it was being placed to rise! So I started booking it to get a fourth batch in. I mean, I was cruising at speeds yet unseen in that ballroom. In fact, I was going so fast that I forgot some of the ingredients. My dear wonderful new Kansas friend and runner pointed out the canola oil but I totally spaced out the honey. Sigh. So that was my last batch and while I had it rise away from the oven, it came out blond and not so sweet.

While we were baking, there were baking classes being taught for the public. One of the things the instructors mentioned was how sugar was not needed in bread but it added to the color and to the taste. At the end of the last class, I brought an earlier loaf and one of my last loaves up front as a visual example of that information ;) Maybe I shouldn't have pointed out my weakness? Oh well, if it helps future bakers!

Let me also quickly mention my wheat spokespersons, Reba & Erin. Two nicer ladies I think would be harder to find. They were absolutely terrific! I really felt put to ease and it was good to have someone rooting for me and being there to help things go as smoothly as possible. So thank you again! I probably would have started crying had it not been for Erin that day.

Erin and me:

Reba and me:

So, I didn't win. But I gained a great experience, wonderful new friends, and a great knowledge of how we get from farm to fork.

Here is my recipe: Healthy Homemade Bread. All the recipes, including the winning one, are posted on the Kansas Wheat website here.

Healthy Homemade Bread
Tanna Richard, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I developed this recipe because I needed a tasty bread recipe that would be easy on the budget and easy to prepare at home.

1 cup King Arthur Traditional 100% Whole Wheat Flour
½ cup wheat germ
½ cup quick cooking oats, uncooked
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast2 ¼ cups very warm water (120-130°F)*
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
4 - 4 ½ cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
*Gauge water temperature with thermometer.

In mixing bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, salt, and yeast. Stir in water, honey,and oil; beat 2 minutes. Gradually stir in 3 cups bread flour to make a slightly sticky dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead in enough remaining flour to make a smooth and elastic dough. Knead 8 to 10 minutes by hand or with dough hook.

Divide dough in half. To shape: form dough to fit into 2 oiled 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch bread pans; press dough down to fill pan. Smooth top. Cover loaves with a damp towel; let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Bake in preheated 350°F oven 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and done. Tent with foil last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves, 16 slices each.
Nutrition information per serving: One slice provides approximately 108 calories; 3 g protein; 18g carbohydrate; 1 g dietary fiber; 3 g fat (.18 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 37 mcg folate; 1 mg iron and 219 mg sodium.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 6/8/09 & The Competition

Well it is Monday! Again! Time to whip out the ole menu plan (or pull it up on the Google calendar application I use) and post it here for all the world to see. I hope it gives you all some ideas!

Monday: Garlic Cheddar Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Dilled Peas
Tuesday: Mango-licious Tilapia, Cous Cous & Fruit
Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken, Rice, & Spinach Salad
Thursday: Cerveza Lime Pork Chops, Southwest Pasta Salad
Friday: Grilled Cheeseburgers & Chips & Fruit

I am a week away from competing in King Arthur's Festival of Breads competition. So time to really get serious and figure out how I'm going to display my bread for the judges. That, of course, meant it was time to shop this past week. I went to Michael's to look for a basket. Nothing that was right was there. Then I went to Pier 1. There I found a basket I liked but - yesh! - I'm cheap and wasn't paying the price they were asking. Finally, I ended up a Gordman's and found a basket that is JUST the right size and while I was there I got some red and white striped kitchen towels to line the basket with. What do you think? I will slice the two loaves and display them like this (see below picture). I only have about 1/2 of one loaf left of the last batch I made but I think this will give you a good idea of what I'm looking at presenting.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 6/1/09

It's June! I did have a menu plan for last week but didn't get to posting it due to having my wonderful husband home both on Monday & Tuesday. So - here is this week's:

Monday: Roasted Chicken, Risotto, & Spinach Salad
Tuesday: Pancakes, Sausage, & Fruit (requested by Abby - seemed reasonable enough)
Wednesday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches (w/ leftover chicken), Chips & Fruit
Thursday: Dal, Chiliean Style (requested by Mike - he heard about the recipe from listening to NPR....)
Friday: Grilled Cheeseburgers & Grilled Potatoes

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 5/18/09

Late but not forgotten....

Monday: Cerveza & Lime Marinated Pork Chops (grilled), Cous Cous & Spinach Salad - The pork chops were awesome! I left out the tequila and added a tablespoon of brown sugar - also did not make the full amount of marinade. Let them marinate for about 8 hours. Definitely a keeper....

Tuesday: Chicken Satay w/ Peanut dipping sauce, Rice, & Salad
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes, Chips & Fruit
Thursday: Greek Pasta with White Beans & Tomatoes, Salad
Friday: Crispy Oven Baked Fish, Oven Fries & Salad

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 5/11/09

Where does a week go? We've got lots of lettuce and spinach from the garden so we are "heavy" on the salads this week. Here is the menu:

Monday: Jerk Chicken, Rice & Salad
Tuesday: Lasagna & Salad
Wednesday: Fried Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes & Dilled Carrots
Thursday: Chicken Enchiladas, Refried Beans, & Salad
Friday: Hot Dogs, Potato Salad, & Baked Beans...and maybe a salad ;)

The last time I made potato salad, Mike raved over it. Now, if only I could remember what I did....I know I didn't use a recipe!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 5/4/09

Keeping on track! That's what the menu planning feature of this blog really helps me do. It is also nice for my husband to check at work to see what he's going to come home to ;) I have to admit, I'm not crazy about every night this week. But I honestly start running out of ideas of how to use ground beef - of which we have tons - and I'm very thankful for! That's why we are having the baked fleischkuechle. If you're from ND, then you've probably at least heard of it (although they are usually deep fried). If you aren't, well then, it is basically seasoned ground beef wrapped in a basic dough and then cooked. It's a Russian-German thing from what I gather.

Monday: Chicken & Mediterranean Pasta & Salad
Tuesday: Steak Fajitas, Rice & Beans
Wednesday: Tom Ka Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup), Egg Rolls & Salad
Thrusday: Baked Fleishkuechle, German Potato Salad, & Green Beans
Friday: Grilled Salmon, Rice Pilaf, & Salad

The salad in my garden is ready to go so we need to be eating it A LOT!

As always, head on over to for more menu plan ideas!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 4/27/09

It's time to use up those meals that got pushed back due to various reasons. The meals that usually don't get made are those with the ingredients that I always have on hand but don't need to use (i.e. tilapia is in the freezer but if it isn't thawed it can wait a week or two or three....).

Monday: Sweet Potato Manicotti (did not have last week) & Salad
Tuesday: Parmesan Tilapia (did not have two weeks ago), CousCous & Peas
Wedneday: Spinach Ravioli & Salad
Thursday: General Tso's Chicken & Egg Drop Soup
Friday: Grilled Steak, Pasta Salad & Fruit

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cheese & Herb Biscuits

I love going to Red Lobster. We don't often go though. And I'm not really a HUGE seafood fan, although I do like it. But I do love those Cheddar Bay Biscuits. They do rock, don't they? And every once in a while I get a hankering to have some at home. This is my latest attempt. They probably are not as good as Red Lobster but a whole lot cheaper!

Here is my inspiration recipe. I took this and ran with it.

Cheese & Herb Biscuits
2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 Tbl chopped chives
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbl red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and the seasonings. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Throw the flour-butter mixture into a bowl and toss in cheese and chives. Stir in milk and vinegar until all is just moistened.

Knead the dough on a well floured surface for about a minute. Pat out until about an inch thick. Cut with a 2 inch round, or do as I do and use a kid's cup. Makes about 10 biscuits.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 4/20/09

Last week's menu went pretty well. I had to do some switching and cut one meal out and replaced it with something else due to time constraints and other things that came up. I really liked the Salisbury Steak recipe that I made with my adjustments - very easy and I think cube steak is a great option when making this dish. I also made a pretty mean biscuit from scratch. I'll post the recipe today, you can give it a try and see what you think ;)

On to this week!

Monday: Country Style Pork Ribs (crock pot), Homemade BBQ Beans, & Potato Salad
Tuesday: Chili & Cornbread
Wednesday: Stuffed Pork Chops, Corn & Salad
Thursday: Molten Hamburgers & Oven Fries
Friday: Sweet Potato Manicotti (I'm making this one up) & Salad

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 4/13/09

I hope that everyone who reads this had a wonderful Easter! I baked a ham and made a glaze out of apricot jam, brown sugar, mustard and some vinegar. I also made some cheesy potatoes which turned out really well. We had peas and of course, as is tradition in my family, my mom's orange rolls - they are SO good. They maybe in a post coming soon to a computer near you ;)

On to this week's menu:

Monday: Crock Pot Chicken, Wild Rice, & Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Enchiladas (using left over chicken), Black Beans, Chips & Salsa
Wednesday: Salisbury Steak (I'll be using cubed steak and adding mushrooms to this recipe) Mashed Potatoes, & Corn
Thursday: Parmesan Tilapia, Cous Cous, & Garlicky Green Beans
Friday: Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza & Salad

Monday, April 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 4/6/09

Better late than never ;)

Monday: Chicken Breast Stuffed with Spinach, Blue Cheese & Bacon & Penne in White Wine Sauce
Tuesday: Sausage, Home Fries, & Fruit Salad
Wednesday: Chuck Roast, Baked Sweet Potatoes, & Salad
Thursday: Spaghetti & Meatballs with Salad
Friday: French Dip Sandwiches, Chips & Veggies with Dip

Monday, March 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 3/30/09

This week's menu:

Monday: Glazed Pork Chops, Mashed Butternut Squash (pressure cooker), & Salad, My second daughter's birthday cake for dessert
Tuesday: Tacos, Black Beans & Salad
Wednesday: Roast Turkey Breast, Risotto (pressure cooker), & Dilled Peas
Thursday: Turkey Tortilla Soup
Friday: "It's my birthday - I'm not cooking!"

Dilled Peas
I realize I plan dilled peas a lot as a side dish. This is what it takes to make this dish. I take one bag of frozen peas and cook in the microwave in a microwave safe container with a little bit of water. Drain the peas then stir in 1 1/2 Tbl of butter, then I add salt and lemon pepper to taste and about 1/2 tsp of dried dill. As soon as it starts growing in the garden, I'll use fresh dill. :) Very quick and tasty.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 3/23/09

Here's this week's menu! I'm trying a couple new recipes. Although, I've made variations of them before. The first is the Sauteed Cabbage with Apples and Cinnamon. This is a Robin Miller recipe from her Quick Fix Meals - cookbook. I love her premise of making one meal and then transforming the left-overs into another meal. She also totes the advantages of something called "meal packets." Go to Barnes & Noble and check out her book in person so get more of a feel for it.

Also, I turned to my current favorite cookbook Pressure Perfect for a pressure cooker soup recipe. That's where the Potato Cheddar Soup comes from. I love that I'll have this soup made in about 10 minutes. :)

The Old World Pilaf is a mix that I found in the grocery store's bulk food/organic section. It has brown rice, white rice, wild rice, lentils, dried peas and carrots in it. I figured I would give it a shot and see how it turns out. I'm planning on adding onions and garlic and some herbs, cooking it in chicken broth in the pressure cooker. We'll see how it turns out!

Monday: Poppyseed Chicken & Balsamic Roasted Carrots
Tuesday: Chicken Fried Steak (going to use panko instead of my usual Ritz cracker breading), Sauteed Cabbage w/ apples and cinnamon, Dilled Peas
Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie & Salad
Thursday: Potato Cheddar Soup & Salad
Friday: Grilled Salmon, Old World Rice Pilaf, & Garlicky Green Beans

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Use for Old Dressing

Here is a new use for that homemade poppy seed dressing. Mix one cup poppy seed dressing with a half a cup of mayo. Stir in with a bag of coleslaw mix (or do like me and shred your own cabbage and carrots). It is better than any cole slaw your are going to get at the deli!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 3/16/09

Here's this week's menu! I have two meals that have cabbage in them. Can one beat 15 cents a pound? Well, actually, I could. One store had it for 1 cent a pound (maximum of 15 lbs) at this price but I didn't want to go there because the other store I commonly shop at had 3 pound bags of frozen chicken breasts for 4.99 a bag. And I always go to Aldi. I like to keep it to two stores on shopping day, especially when I have kids with me.

Monday: Teriyaki Chicken, Brown Rice, & Green Salad
Tuesday: Grilled Steaks, Easy Grilled Potatoes, & Coleslaw
Wednesday: Moo Shu Pork over Noodles, Egg Drop Soup
Thursday: Mini Meatloaves, Au Gratin Potatoes, Garlicky Green Beans
Friday: Homemade Supreme Pizza

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coconut Ice Cream

I've been having lots of fun dreaming up ice cream flavors to make in our new ice cream maker (recently purchased off of Craigslist). While eating a sundae of caramel ice cream topped with Girl Scout Caramel deLites, I decided that a coconut ice cream was the way to go. I looked on-line to find recipes but didn't find one that suited my pantry list. So, I decided to make up my own (boy, am I brave!) coconut ice cream recipe. Let me tell you, it was da bomb! Yea baby! I highly recommend using that chocolate magic shell topping - it would be like eating a frozen Mounds ice cream bar...mmmmmm.

Coconut Ice Cream

1 can coconut milk
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir these ingredients together and pour into your ice cream maker (per manufactur's instructions).

Toast 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes (you must toast them, it really brings out the nutty sweet flavor of them). Add to the ice cream mixture 10 minutes after it has begun.

When the ice cream maker is finished, spoon the ice cream into an air tight container and store in the freezer. It is good to let this set-up a little more, so try to give it at least 4 hours in the freezer before you dig in. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 3/9/09

Hello everyone! I pray that all is well with you. My laptop is not "playing" well with any Google websites and I have no idea why. That's the main reason this post is late. Well, that and I had a gigantic Monday to do list. Thankfully, I actually usually menu plan on the weekend so I still had a plan for Monday night supper. And it was a winner! I very much suggest trying it. One of the must have ingredients is fish sauce - please don't be put off. The smell leaves something to be desired but the taste is great! And the whole bottle only cost me 1.99 at what I consider to be the most expensive grocery store in our town. So give the chicken satay with homemade peanut sauce a try!

Monday: Chicken Satay with Homemade Peanut Sauce, Rice, & Lettuce Salad
Tuesday: Pot Roast, Potatoes, & Carrots (making extra for a family who needs some help!)
Wednesday: Stuffed Pork Chops, Roasted Asparagus & Spinach Salad
Thursday: Ravioli with Butternut Sage Sauce & Salad
Friday: Fish Tacos, Rice and Beans

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Newest Apron

I had a good time sewing this apron and it cost me a dollar! And that was for the pattern (Simplicity). I can't sew very well so I still need a pattern to go off of but I think if you had some modicum of talent, you could do this without one. It was a pair of jeans from college - you know - one's that weren't straight legged but instead, slightly tapered? Yep, this is a much better look for them. :) I love aprons! Especially because I don't love laundry. So this, to me, is another helpful kitchen "gadget."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 3/2/09

It has become painfully obvious to me that I have a hard time posting on this blog outside of Mondays! Sorry about that! I really do need to become better. I've started "gardening" for the season and I guess that's taking up some of my mental facilities that normally would go towards writing posts and what not. I did sew myself an apron so I'll try to post about that sometime this week - after all - a good apron is a good kitchen tool in my book! (and the whole project only cost me a dollar).

Here's this week's menu!

Monday: Broccoli Beef Stir-fry, Rice & Egg Drop Soup (I also picked up some frozen egg rolls at Aldi).
Tuesday: Roast Chicken, Vegetable Orzo, & Strawberry Spinach Salad (w/ Poppyseed Dressing)
Wednesday: Shepherd's Pie & Green Salad
Thursday: Chicken Enchiladas (using leftover chicken from Tuesday), Homemade Refried Beans (of course, chips and salsa!)
Friday: Parmesan Tilapia, CousCous, & Green Beans

The vegetable orzo is a new item to our house. I went to the trusty bulk food section in our grocery store and saw that wild rice had doubled (yes, doubled) in price. That's going off the menu rotation for sure after what I finish up what I have left in the pantry. But they did have vegetable orzo so I though I'd give it a try. Orzo is technically just a pasta but it has a similar texture to rice. So if someone in your family can't have rice, try substituting orzo for it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 2/23/09

What a day! Already! My wonderful, loving, GENEROUS husband (really!), kept pulling the sheets off of me last night, so I kept waking up. Then I come downstairs to find that the refrigerator had been left open a crack so half the food in there had to be thrown out (that about made me sick!) and come to find that our 6 1/2 year old son has a tooth coming in behind his baby teeth (he hasn't lost any yet). Some are slightly loose but we're really going to have to work at getting them out. *sigh* But this is the day that the Lord has made and these are all really minor irritations that will probably be forgotten by evening. I will rejoice and be glad in it! Oh, and it brings to mind the verse I'm memorizing: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. For you know the that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Here's the menu:

Monday: Lasagna (using Italian sausage that was on sale this week!) & Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Tostadas, Rice & Beans (going to make the chicken in the crockpot with homemade salsa verde)
Wednesday: Pork Chops w/ Apples & Rosemary, Mashed Potatoes, Dilled Peas
Thursday: Broiled Salmon, Mushroom Risotto, Green Beans
Friday: Black Bean Soup, Chips & Salsa

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 2/16/09

Okay, the Moo Shu Pork from last week was a hit. It is great over rice. Or go crazy and serve it in tortillas - yes, I said tortillas. :) Here's this week's menu! For more menu and recipe ideas, go over to!

Spanish Rice with Chicken and Sausage (pressure cooker recipe)
Tuesday: Hamburger Potato Casserole with Roasted Asparagus
Wednesday: Ravioli with Butternut Sage Sauce & Salad
Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu & Dilled Peas
Friday: Chili & Buttery Cornbread
Saturday: Crustless Chorizo Quiche

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 2/9/08 & Cheesy Potatoes

Monday: Barbecue Chicken, Cheesy Potatoes & Green Salad
Tuesday: Moo Shu Pork over Rice
Wednesday: Roast Beef, Potatoes, & Carrot
Thursday: Beef Tacos (using left over roast), Black Beans, Salsa & Chips
Friday: Broccoli Cheese Soup & Biscuits

I've never had Moo Shu Pork but I saw Rachel Ray make this and it just looked so good! And since pork loins were on sale for 1.69 a pound (yes, that's a good deal!) and Fareway cuts and packages them as you ask - Moo Shu Pork went on the menu!

My Cheesy Potatoes

5 medium sized potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch
1 Tbl Butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1 stalk celery diced
2 cloves garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 paprika
(any other herb seasonings that you'd like i.e. sage)
2 Tbl Flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
4 oz American cheese (approxiately 4 slices)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Slice potatoes and microwave until slightly softened (or else they take forever to bake!). Saute veggies in butter, add seasonings, saute, add flour, cook for a couple minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth, then add the milk. Melt in the cheeses.

Stir the cheese sauce in with the sliced potatoes. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan, and bake covered in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Take off the cover and bake another 10 - 15 minutes.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 2/2/09

It's February. And it is Groundhog Day today. I am so thankful I don't have any groundhogs (aka woodchucks) in my yard. They are super destructive! But I do love, love, LOVE the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. For all of you that also love this movie:

"Watch out for that first step, it's a dooooOOOOzy." :)

Monday: Chicken Carbonara & Salad
Tuesday: Baked Asian-Style Honey Chicken, Rice, Egg Drop Soup & Fresh Fruit
Wednesday: All-American Cheeseburger Soup & Salad
Thursday: Broiled Salmon, Orange Cilantro Rice & Peas
Friday: Homemade Pizza & Salad

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Gadget To Love

I bring to you the Lemon Squeezer (or as I usually use it - Lime Squeezer!).

I picked this up at T.J. Max at a fraction of what they sell them for on but you can get it there too. I've always just used a fork or my hands to juice my lemons and limes. Well, no more! I used this yesterday for the first time. I had to juice some limes for last night's meal - Tom Kai Ga and for today's marinade for the fajitas I'm making. This little gadget made quick work of time limes saving me a few minutes of squeezing every last drop out of the lime. If you use lots of limes and lemons (and there are even bigger ones for oranges & grapefruit) then I suggest you get one of these.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 1/26/09

Is it Monday? Where, oh where, did the weekend go? I spent half of Saturday shopping - grocery and then for some craft items. I made the cutest (imo) baby shower sign for a shower that I am coordinating in the middle of February. I am not a scrapbooker but I can see how it could become a multi-billion dollar industry. :) I have a lot of extra paper but I figure the sign cost me around 5 dollars - not too shabby!

Okay on the food, this primarly a food blog, right?

Monday: Tom Ka Gai, *Salad & Chicken Egg Rolls (compliments of Aldi's)
Tuesday: Beef Fajitas, Refried Beans, Homemade Salsa & Chips
Wednesday: White Bean Ragu & *Salad
Thursday: Stuffed Pork Chops, *Salad & Baked Apples
Friday: Date Night and I'm not talking figs (we are going a Chris Tomlin Concert!)
Saturday: Seasoned Round Steak with Red Cabbage Slaw and Roasted Potatoes
*all salads now to include sprouts :)

Saturday's recipe is one that I'm developing for the National Beef Cook-Off. I hesitate even putting that information on here because I know that some many of the readers of this blog are outstanding cooks that could probably whomp me! But I am a rancher's daughter and I do have a freezer full of beef to cook with so it seems a natural fit that I try to win some money. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009


My screen name is "Garden Girl" isn't it?

It is pretty hard to garden year around here in IA. Oh, I know there are those books about four season gardening. And with the space and ambition (not to mention the monetary investment) for cold frames I'm certain that I could do a good deal more than I do. And perhaps some day I will, but the garden bug has bit again right now and all the seeds have been ordered and it is still too early to garden so I decided to try my hand at growing some sprouts.

Now, I say sprouts and not micros. I could do micros too, they are all the rage at upper-end restaurants but I felt sprouts would be nice because they are essentially soil-less.

I bought some sprouting seeds on-line. After talking with my husband, who does love sprouts. I decided to get a salad mix. It has several different types of seeds: broccoli, radish, red clover and alfalfa. Definitely shop around; I think I paid too much for mine. Try Pinetree Garden Seeds or Johnny's Selected Seeds. Both have better prices than what I paid at Garden's Alive (I bought there because I had some other stuff that was at the best price there and if I bought so much, I could get half off....).

And it is relatively easy to do. You need to let the seeds soak over night in water, then you drain them. You can buy a fancy top like I did or you can use cheesecloth and rubber band. Then, once in the morning and once in the evening, you rinse with water and drain. The second day, you'll see the seeds start to open (this is a GREAT science experiment to do with your kids). Keep the seeds out of direct sunlight, I kept ours in our pantry and that seemed to work really well. When the sprouts are about an inch or more longer, place them in the light. The leaves will start to green up then. Rinse a final time, swish in some water, the hulls will group together, go ahead and drain them off. And enjoy! Put them on salads or on sandwiches or in soups or to any casserole. They are super, super nutritious and I like the crunch and taste they bring to the plate.

Here's the finished product, ready to be rinsed and put into the refrigerator for up to one week!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Creamy Enchilada Sauce

Here's how I do it:

Creamy Enchilada Sauce

1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl flour
1/2 cup green salsa (medium)
1 4oz can green chilis
1 tsp cumin
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded Co Jack Cheese

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Stir in the flour and cook in the butter for a few minutes. Add the salsa & green chilis and stir. Add the cumin, stir. Slowly add the chicken broth as you stir. Then slowly add the milk. Melt in and stir the cheese. You can use this as a queso dip for chips or as a sauce for chicken enchiladas. Adjust the heat of the salsa to your taste if you like.

Menu Plan Monday 1/19/08

Well, the stomach bug hit last week. Ick. I think it is still hiding here in the house waiting to sneak up and snatch us caught unawares...Tricky little devil. Anyway, the menu from last week had to be changed around to include lots of "easy" tummy meals - think chicken & rice. So some of this is a repeat from last week.

Monday: Tacos, Black Beans (pressure cooker), Chips & Homemade Salsa
Tuesday: Swiss Chicken Casserole (crockpot meal!) & California Medley Veggies
Wednesday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas (I'm posting my creamy enchilada sauce recipe as another post), Refried Beans & Salad
Thursday: Barbecue Molten Hamburgers & Oven Fries
Friday: Caribbean Jerk Tilapia, Couscous & Green Beans

Here's how I've been preparing my green beans lately.

1 lb frozen green beans
1 Tbl butter
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup toasted almonds
salt & pepper to taste

Simmer the green beans in some water until they are done to your likeness. I have to admit, I like mine pretty well done. Drain. Toss in the rest of the ingredients. Yummy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 1/12/09 & Pork Chop Update

Snowy Monday, COLD Monday.....

Time to make some comfort food! This week's menu is full of standbys for our family; things I make often that I really don't have written recipes for them. I just make them. I'm sure most of you reading this post have those menus in your house too. You start with a basic meat or starch then add a little of this and a little of that and "Oh! I've got a little of this left so I'll throw that in too." That for sure is my vegetable beef soup recipe. :) Without further ado...

Monday: Chicken Parmesan, Pasta & Salad
Tuesday: Pot Roast, Potatoes, & Carrots
Wednesday: Vegetable Beef Soup & Whole Wheat Biscuits
Thursday: Hamburgers & Oven Baked French Fries
Friday: Crispy Roast Chicken, Wild Rice & Green Beans (I've been using frozen & adding some almonds and feta cheese - to die for!)
Saturday: Tacos, Black Beans, Chips & Salsa

And now for my smoked brined pork chop update. My husband loved them and the kids loved them. I thought they were pretty darn good. So here's the recipe. They came out a lot like ham!

Smoked Brined Pork Chops
1/2 cup Tender Quick (a Morton Salt Product)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 cups water
4-6 boneless pork chops (cut 1 inch thick)

Mix all the ingredients in a good size container - until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the pork chops. If necessary, you can add water up to 2 cups to cover the meat. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 30 hours but at least 12. To cook heat 1 Tbl. butter & 2 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the chops dry. Brown the meat on both sides. Place in a 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes to finish cooking. (works really well here to use a cast iron skillet or another oven safe pan).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 1/05/09 & Taco Pizza Recipe

Wow, last week was a lot of fun! On Wednesday, New Year's Eve, I experimented with developing a new recipe for us and I was so pleased with how it turned out. It was for Taco Pizza. I used Jay's Signature Pizza Crust recipe for the crust, then I made some homemade "refried" beans in the pressure cooker and made sure they were a little "looser" than those you get from the can (if you use canned, you'll need to add water to thin them out to the right consistency). The beans were the "sauce" for the pizza. I put the bean sauce on after the crust had baked for about 7 minutes. Then I used only half a pound of ground beef to make taco meat. That was sprinkled on the freshly applied bean sauce and baked. Finally, right before it was done baking I put on diced tomatoes, chopped green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, and a diced avocado. Baked for just a minute longer and pulled it out of the oven when I then topped it with crushed nacho cheese chips (e.g. Doritos). I spiraled on sour cream by simply putting it in a plastic baggy and cutting off the tip. When serving, I put some hot sauce on the table and each person could add to their own personal taste. I should have taken this picture before I cut it; it would have looked much nicer!

This week's menu plan:

Monday: Chili & Buttery Cornbread
Tuesday: Perfect Baked Jerk Chicken, Brown Rice & Salad
Wednesday: Parmesan Tilapia, Cous Cous & Green Beans
Thursday: Mini Meatloaves, Mashed Potatoes, & Dilled Baby Carrots
Friday: Smoky Brined Pork Chops, Apple Onion Stuffing & Cheesy Peas

I'm going to be experimenting again this week with the pork chops. I'll try to give a report on how they turned out.