Sunday, April 29, 2007

Let The Grilling Begin

I believe the real warm weather has finally arrived, So tomorrow I'm breaking out the grill for the first time this year. Right now I'm thinking of doing grilled steaks with some baked potatoes, but I might decide to slice up the potatoes and grill those too. We will see. Saturday we will grill again, this time it's tin foil dinners. This is one of my favorite things to make while camping and since it's not quite camping season, I'm hoping this will satisfy me.

What are your favorite grill recipes? Do you have a great marinade? Tips for grilling a perfect piece of chicken? Please share!

Week 9 Menu

Monday - Grilled Steaks and Baked Potatoes
Tuesday - Feta Penne
Wednesday - BBQ Chicken & Rice
Thursday - Macaroni Grill's Pasta Milano
Friday - eating out
Saturday - Tin Foil Dinners
Sunday - Papas Con Juevos & Smoothies

Week 9 Recipes

Orange Honey Glazed Carrots
(Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)

1 lb carrots, peeled
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cut the carrots diagonally in 1-inch thick slices. Place 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, butter, honey, 1/2 tsp salt and the ginger in a large saute pan and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes until all the water has evaporated.

Add the orange zest and orange juice to the pan, tossing with the carrots. Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, until the carrots are al dente and the sauce glazes the carrots. Add the pepper and more salt (if needed).

Lemon Yogurt Cake
(Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 freshly squeezed lemon juice

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one big bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan (so the glaze doesn't drip on your counter.) While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool. For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Grilled Potato Wedges (and Carrots)

I took one large potato (1 baking potato) and cut it into 8 equal sized wedges. I placed the wedges in a ziplock bag and poured in about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. I sealed the bag and then squished it around to coat the potatoes with the oil. When I placed them on the grill, I sprinkled them with my favorite grill spice (click here for details) and made sure to turn them several times so they wouldn't burn. They cooked in the same amount of time that our steaks did. Very tasty! I did the same thing for the carrots, but they were a little crisp still. Next time I'll microwave them a bit to soften them beforehand.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Favorite Kitchen Tool

I'm back. Sorry everyone, I had to take a week off. I was battling sickness, and then out of town for a funeral.

In one of my recipes for this week (Quesadillas) I mention a food chopper. Some of you may be quite familiar with the food chopper, but if not, here's a picture. Disclaimer: I got this picture off the Pampered Chef website, I did not take it myself :-)

This handy little food chopper is one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools. At one point I had two of them so there would always be a clean one for me to use. I use it to dice onions (my hands don't smell!) to dice cooked chicken (see quesadilla recipe) and to make my taco beef look just like Taco Bell's (the way taco meat should look, according to Mr. Dinner's on Me.) It also removes hard water stains from your kitchen sink. Not really, but it's almost that wonderful.

Pampered Chef is not the only place to find these. I've also seen them at other stores that sell kitchen supplies. Maybe hint to your hubbies that it would make a fabulous Mother's Day gift.

Post is over. I'm off to watch the much-anticipated Heroes. Have a great week everyone!

Week 8 Menu

Monday - pizza (thanks, Bonnie!)
Tuesday - Creamy Enchiladas
Wednesday - BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Thursday - Boston Market's Meatloaf & Roasted Red Potatoes
Friday- Brielle's Rhodes Dough Calzones
Saturday - Fajita Chicken Quesadillas
Sunday - Macaroni Grill's Pasta Milano (recipe to come)

Week 8 Recipes

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (crockpot)
(from Amanda Otis)

Spray inside of crockpot with Pam. Place 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in crockpot, cover with your favorite bottle of BBQ sauce (Amanda's is KC Masterpiece). Cook on high 2-3 hours. Before serving, shred with forks. Serve in buns.

Fajita Chicken Quesadillas

1 pkg fajita seasoning mix
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp diced onions
grated monterey jack cheese
black beans
1 can corn
La Victoria Green Taco Sauce or your favorite salsa
2-4 Tbsp vegetable oil

Dice chicken and cook in skillet until almost cooked through. Add diced onions and saute for 1 minute. Mix fajita seasoning mix with about 1/2 cup of water and pour over chicken. Stir and cook until chicken is done, and liquid has mostly cooked off. At this point you can use your food chopper to more finely dice chicken if you would like.

Before cooking, I like to assemble all of the quesadillas at once. Each of us make our own quesadilla how we like it, but here are the basic directions: Place one tortilla on a plate, layer with cheese, chicken/onion mixture, corn, green sauce, beans and more cheese. Then add top tortilla. My one tip to remember here is to make sure to have the cheese touching both top and bottom tortillas - that will help the whole thing to stick together well so you don't loose the yummy filling.

To cook: My preferred method is on the grill. Lightly brush one side with oil and place oil-side-down on grill. As that side browns, lightly oil other side. You might need 2 spatulas to turn the quesadilla, or one spatula and one set of tongs. The grill gives great flavor and a crispy edge to the tortillas.

You could also cook them on the stove top in a skillet, or probably even in the oven, although I've never tried that.

Brielle's Rhodes Dough Calzones

"they are so easy, all I do is take out a bunch of rhodes dough rolls and let them rise all day. Then I just have all the pizza stuff out like pizza sauce of course, and pepperoni, ham, pineapple, mushrooms, olives, cheese, whatever you like. Then everyone can make their own calzone. (your kids would love this). Take one rolls and smush it out flat on a cookie sheet then top with whatever toppings you like then cover the whole thing with another smushed out roll and pinch all the seams together. Bake them for just about 20 or so minutes, or until the crust starts looks crusty and their done. It's so easy!"

Monday, April 9, 2007

A Call For Menus

One of these weeks you will stop by my blog and my menu for the week will look something like this:

Monday - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
Tuesday - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
Wednesday - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
Thursday - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
Friday - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
Saturday - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
Sunday - toasted peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

I'm doing good so far though. This week there are two crockpot recipes from the "101" cookbook: Orange Chicken & Simple Beef Stroganoff. The Upside Down Spaghetti recipe is one I learned from my sister Mindy years ago. If you would like a similar recipe with a bit more substance to it (substance = meat) then check this one out from

Spaghetti Pie III

Now I'd like to hear what you guys are all eating this week. All you need to do is click on the little words below this post that say "# comments." Then add your menu there. Don't worry about posting recipes yet - we'll let you know if there's one that we want to try out too. Mostly, I would just like to make sure my family and friends aren't just chowing down on corn dogs every night (everything in moderation, people!)

Have a great week everyone!

**note added: In the recipes this week, I also added a pasta salad recipe that my mom emailed to me a few days ago.

Week 7 Menu

Monday - eating out
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - Simple Beef Stroganoff (crockpot)
Thursday - Upside Down Spaghetti
Friday - my birthday!
Saturday - Skillet Sarzana
Sunday - Orange Chicken (crockpot)

Week 7 Recipes

Simple Beef Stroganoff (crockpot)
from 101 Things To Do With A Slow Cooker

1 lb stew meat, cubed
1/2 cup dried minced onion
1 can (10 3/4-oz) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (4-oz) mushrooms, drained
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 cup sour cream

Combine all ingredients except sour cream in greased slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat 6-8 hours. Add sour cream the last hour of cooking. Spoon over hot noodles.

Skillet Sarzana

1/2 lb Itallian Sausage
1/2 lb lean ground beef (or you could use a full pound of either of these meats)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
1 (8-oz) package wide egg noodles
1 (16-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt/pepper to taste

In a large skillet (I use my electric skillet) brown ground beef and sausage. Add onion near the end and saute with meat. Add uncooked egg noodles, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently, and simmer for 1/2 hour. Keep checking it during this time; you might need to add some water if the noodles absorb all of the liquid too quickly. When the noodles are softened, add the grated cheese and continue to stir until it melts. At this point, do not overcook - the cheese might burn. Makes 4-6 servings, and it's great as leftovers.

Orange Chicken (crockpot)
from 101 Things To Do With A Slow Cooker

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8-1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce, optional

Place chicken in greased slow cooker. Combine all other ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 7-9 hours. Serve over rice.

Upside Down Spaghetti

1 package spaghetti
  • 1 large jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 package of dry itallian dressing mix
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to directions on package. Do not overcook. While pasta is cooking, cream sour cream, cream cheese and dry itallian mix in a bowl. Spread cream mixture in bottom of a 7 x 11 casserole dish. Drain spaghetti and add sauce until coated how your family prefers it (we like saucy spaghetti, some prefer it more dry.) Spread spaghetti over the cream mixture. Top with a bit more sauce (if you like) and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven until heated through and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

from Sharon Johnson
(A sister on our Temple night made this last year and it was such a hit)

7 oz. uncooked pasta (colored twisty kind is nice)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 med. zucchini, sliced and diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
(you could probably add anything you really liked, even cucumbers)

1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. salad oil (or olive)
1/4 c. Johnny's Salad Seasoning**

Cook pasta. Rinse and cool. Add vegetables and mixed dressing. Refrigerate.

**Johnny's Salad Seasoning, a dry combination of seasonings, I found in the aisle where the salad dressings are and comes in a jar.
You could also try where the spices are too.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

If I Were Stranded On A Desert Island...

the one spice I could NOT live without would be this one: McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning. I have a Costco-size jug of it kept in a handy location in my kitchen. Sometimes when a recipe calls for salt and pepper I just use some of this and it works great. This bad-boy of a spice makes it's first appearance on my blog this week in the recipe for BBQ Beef Sandwiches.

It was difficult to come up with my menu for this week. Tonight I discovered that when I'm really full, it's very hard to find recipes that sound good. I'm sure you're all thinking, "Well, duh!"

Two of my recipes this week are new to me: Pleasant Pork Chops & Hawaiian Haystacks. I've posted the recipes and I'll add photos and tips later this week.

Now for my favorite cooking song this week. It's an oldie but a goodie: "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" by They Might Be Giants. It's one of those songs that cycles through my favorites list every two years or so. Cue it up, and rock out! Have a great week everyone!

Week 6 Menu

Monday - Lasagna Rolls
Tuesday - Pleasant Pork Chops
Wednesday - Hawaiian Haystacks (crockpot)
Thursday - Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches (crockpot)
Friday - Hamburgers & Hot Dogs (BBQ time!)
Saturday - Ravioli & Red Sauce
Sunday - Happy Easter!

Week 6 Recipes

Hawaiian Haystacks
(4-6 servings)
from 101 Things To Do With A Slow Cooker

10-12 chicken tenders, cut in chunks
1 C. chicken broth
2 cans (10.75-oz ea.) cream of chicken soup
1 can (12-oz) evaporated milk
6 cups cooked rice

Place chicken in greased crock pot. Combine all remaining ingredients except rice and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours, or low heat 6-8 hours.

Serve over hot rice with a variety of cold toppings: grated cheese, peas, pineapple tidbits, shredded coconut, Chinese noodles, diced tomatoes, diced green peppers, sliced green onions, or other!

Pleasant Pork Chops

6 pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth**
1 bay leaf
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons paprika

Saute onion and garlic in hot butter. Remove from skillet. Trim excess fat from chops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chops in skillet; pour off fat.

Lower heat, add bay leaf and chicken broth. Cook covered over low heat for 1 hour (might be less if using thin cut chops). Transfer chops to a serving plate, but keep them hot.

Heat juices in skillet and reduce to half. Add the sour cream, onion-garlic mixture and paprika, blending thoroughly. Add chops and heat through, but don't boil. Serve over rice or noodles.

** You can substitute beef broth
(here are my changes: I used an electric skillet and it was great. I did use the beef broth instead of chicken and I only used about 1/2 cup of the sour cream, and only 1/2 tsp of paprika. During the cooking of the chops in broth, I did need to add the rest of the broth from the can to make sure there was enough for sauce. )

Johnson Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches

1 large rump roast or chuck roast (pretty much anything will work)
liquid smoke (found on same aisle as BBQ sauces)
garlic salt (optional)
celery salt (optional)
bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
hamburger buns

The night before, generously rub the roast on both sides with liquid smoke. I put a baggie over my hand so I don't smell like liquid smoke for a week. Also rub with pepper, garlic & celery salt (I LOVE McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning because it has all of those things in it, plus a tasty combination of others!)

Place roast in crock pot, add a little water (1/4 cup or less). Cook on low overnight. In the morning remove fat and shred meat with fork. Add your favorite BBQ sauce and cook on low all day. Serve over your favorite bun.

For a "speed" method, you can just start the meat first thing in the morning, shred it at about 3 or 4 pm and let it simmer in sauce until dinner. This works fine for the smaller size roast.