Monday, October 22, 2007

Week 34 Menu

Monday - Mac-a-Tacos
Tuesday - Mom's Potato Soup
Wednesday - eat out
Thursday - Vegetable Frittata
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Feta Penne
Sunday - Gingerbread Pancakes

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Basil My Way

Sad, sad day. I'm no longer participating in our neighborhood's produce co-op. So this is now my source of basil. Granted, it's not bad - at least I don't have to use the dried stuff that's been on the grocery store shelf for years. I sure wish I had a spot in my non-existent garden for some home grown basil. Maybe next year. For now, this is my basil. Strangely enough, it's packaged with its roots. If you've never tried fresh basil, make yourself a pizza and sprinkle some on top. Ah, basil!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

It's that time of year when "pumpkin" becomes an ingredient and not just a term of endearment.

This is a great fall recipe that will make your kitchen smell wonderful! Plus it makes two loaves - one for you, and one for sharing! My extra loaf is going to the generous soul who let me borrow her ground ginger (two stores were sold out - can you believe it?). Thanks, Valerie!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1/2 can (15-oz) canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups chocolate chips
1 Tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 loaf pans with pam.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil and eggs. Beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Whisk these dry ingredients for 20 seconds or so (to combine, and pseudo-sift). Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed.

In a small bowl, or ziplock, coat chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp flour (so the choc chips don't sink to the bottom of the loaf). Add to batter and stir once or twice to incorporate chocolate chips.

Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes, then turn out on rack and cool completely.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Zuppa Toscana + breadsticks = Olive Garden love

Tonight for dinner we tried a cloned recipe from the Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana. Mr. Dinner's on Me (our resident expert) proclaimed it so near the real thing, that we no longer have a reason to eat at the Olive Garden.

I served the Zuppa Toscana with some yummy breadsticks that we discovered in San Diego. I was delighted to see that our grocery store here carried them as well!

You can find them in the freezer section, with other garlic breads. They're great after just a few minutes in a toaster oven. You can also use your regular oven, if that's all you got! Now all I need is a clone for that yummy Olive Garden vinaigrette..... anyone have one?

Week 32?

I know, I know....I missed a week. I took a brief vacation from blogging because my week was filled with meetings, birthday parties, and more meetings. Not to didn't miss much, food wise. Just to prove it to you - here is my actual menu from last week:

Monday - turkey leftovers
Tuesday - eat out
Wednesday - turkey leftovers
Thursday - eat out
Friday - eat out
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - Papas con Juevos

I told you I was busy! This week's menu has a bit more variety. Tonight's recipe is a clone of Gavan's favorite soups from the Olive Garden. The link I provided has several "Zuppa Toscana" recipes on it. I'll pick one and try it out and then let you know what we thought.

Sunday's recipe is one that was suggested by a reader. He said his family tried it and loved it. It looks interesting, and we're giving it a shot on Sunday.

Week 33 Menu

Monday - Zuppa Toscana
Tuesday - Pasta (of some kind or another -undecided)
Wednesday - BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Thursday - eat out
Friday - Pizza Margerita
Saturday - eat out (Halloween party)
Sunday - Mac-a-Tacos

Week 33 Recipes

Pizza Margerita

-your favorite pizza crust
-fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
-fresh tomatoes, sliced thinly
-fresh basil
-olive oil
-parmesan cheese (optional)

This is about as simple as pizza can get! Drizzle a bit of olive oil on your favorite pizza crust. Top with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Bake until done. Serve with parm cheese, if desired.

Zuppa Toscana
Clone of Olive Garden's soup (serves 6-8)

1 lb Italian sausage (ground)**
2 large or 3 medium russet baking potatoes**
1 large onion, diced
4 slices bacon, cooked & diced very small**
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups kale or swiss chard, chopped small
2 cans chicken broth
1 qt water
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a skillet, cook sausage. Set aside. Peel potatoes and slice in half, then in 1/4 inch slices.

In a large pot, bring chicken broth and water to a boil. Add onion, potatoes and garlic. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.

Add sausage and bacon and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Turn to medium low heat, add cream and kale. Cook on low heat for another 10 minutes. Taste, then add needed salt and pepper.

**note: Next time I will use 3/4 lb sausage and 4 potatoes. This recipe makes it like Olive Garden, but we prefer more potatoes and less meat. For the bacon I use the pre-cooked bacon they have now in the stores. Then I just take out my 4 slices, microwave for 1 minute and dice. Easy-cheesy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Country Rye Bread

I found another delicious bread recipe a couple of weeks ago. It's a yummy, rustic bread that went great with our beef stew!

In the photo the bread almost looks two-toned. Sorry -that's my shadow. It's not really that dark of a bread. I did cut the recipe in half, since I only needed one loaf for my little family. Here is the link to the original bread recipe, and I'll list the measurements for a half-recipe below!

1 package dry yeast (1 1/8 tsp)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups rye flour
3 Tbsp molasses
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour, divided
cooking spray
1-2 tsp cornmeal
1 Tbsp bread flour

Hooray for

I love If you haven't gone there and looked around, you should. One of my favorite things is their ingredient search. Another little tip about allrecipes are their free printable cookbooks. Their most recent ones are a back-to-school cookbook, and a Halloween cookbook.

Here's the link

Andy's Fondue

For those of you always wanting to's my fondue recipe. I made it yesterday and finally bothered to write it down!

Andy's Fondue
(4 servings as main dish, 6-8 as Hors D Oeuvres)

1 1/2 cups white wine**
1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon)
1 lb Gruyere cheese, grated**
2 1/2 Tbsp flour
dash of nutmeg
1/8 tsp black pepper

for dipping:
1-2 baguettes, cut into chunks
2 small granny smith apples, cut into chunks
1-2 cups cauliflower florets (bite-size pieces)

Prepare bread, apples and cauliflower for dipping. Set aside. Grate the cheese, and place into a ziplock. Add the flour, close ziplock and shake to coat flour.

Heat fondue pot (electric recommended) to medium-high. Add wine and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, simmer for 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and reduce heat to medium low. Add grated cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly. As each handful melts, add another one. Continue to stir and add cheese until it is melted and smooth. Reduce heat to low. Add dash of nutmeg and black pepper, then serve.

**You may substitute the following for the white wine:
1 cup chicken broth + 1/2 cup water
1 cup vegetable broth + 1/2 cup water
1 cup white grape juice + 1/2 cup water

**other notes: Emmentaler cheese can be added to the Gruyere. Just have a total of 1 lb of cheese, grated. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS add the lemon juice. It helps to make a creamy fondue.

My Pre-Thanksgiving Tradition

Every fall, when the weather turns colder I begin the countdown to Thanksgiving. When I look at the calendar and see that my beloved turkey dinner is still TWO FULL MONTHS away, I decide I must have turkey now. So every year (no joke!) we have at least two and sometimes three, Pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Dinners. Our first one for this year is scheduled for this Sunday.

Now these Pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Dinners are the real deal. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls.... no short cuts here. Thank goodness for those little bone-in turkeys! They are smaller and don't take nearly as long to cook.

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Week 31 Menu

Monday - eat out
Tuesday - Fondue (oh, and salads!)
Wednesday - Fresh Pasta Primavera
Thursday - Chicken Taco Pie
Friday - Chicken Noodle Soup & Grilled Cheese
Saturday - Mom's Potato Soup
Sunday - Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner No. 1

Week 31 Recipes

Chicken Taco Pie
from Lion House Classics

1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp taco seasoning (or to taste)
1 3/4 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cans (10.5-oz each) cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
6-8 tortillas
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

In skillet, cook onion in oil until tender but not brown. Add seasonings, cream of mushroom soup, and sour cream; heat and stir until smooth and warm. Add chicken. Grease a 2- to 3- quart flat casserole and cover bottom with torn up, oiled tortillas. Spread half the chicken mixture on tortillas. Top with additional oiled tortillas, then cover with remaining filling. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly. Makes 6-8 servings.