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 Amazon.com 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.