Saturday, December 27, 2008

Week 81 Menu

Monday - Southwest Vegetable Soup & cornbread
Tuesday - Easy Baked Manicotti & corn
Wednesday - Cornbread Chicken & Herb Green Beans
Thursday - Cilantro Lime Chicken Wraps
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Pasta Primavera
Sunday - Ginger Pork Pot Stickers & Egg Drop Soup

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

One year ago I searched out and printed two different Chicken and Wild Rice Soup recipes. I stuck them in my "to test" binder and there they have sat. I considered them a few times for a meal in the past year, but they never made the cut. What a shame! I merged the two recipes together for dinner tonight and the result was amazing. It was the perfect soup for tonight's meal - we've had snow all day and just before dinnertime we were outside shoveling and building a snow fort. How wonderful to come inside to a warm pot of soup and fresh rolls. I'm afraid I have no photos - my camera is MIA. Has anyone seen a camera lying around somewhere?

**update** I found my camera! Well, actually some friends of ours found our camera in their driveway, under 8 inches of snow. It still works though, and here's proof:

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
serves 6-8

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cooked & shredded
1 (4.3 oz) box Rice-a-Roni Long Grain & Wild Rice (original flavor)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and saute for 7-8 minutes. Add chicken broth, water and shredded chicken. Bring to a boil and add rice (save seasoning packet!). Cover pot and remove from heat.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the seasoning packet and stir to combine. Slowly add the flour (in 1/4 cup increments) to form a roux and continue to stir. Add salt and pepper. Whisk in heavy cream and milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook and continue to stir until thickened - about 5 minutes.

Return broth/rice mixture to the heat and add cream mixture. Cook over medium heat until rice is softened and soup is thickened and heated through, about 10-15 minutes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Week 80 Menu

Monday - dinner with family
Tuesday - Chicken & Wild Rice soup, Rustic Pan Bread
Wednesday - either turkey or roasted pork
Thursday - french toast & broiled grapefruit (brunch)
Friday - Baked Chicken Breasts (new crockpot recipe)
Saturday - spaghetti & meatballs
Sunday - Robyn's Meatloaf, roasted red potatoes

This week's treat: Lemon Drop Cookies

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lava Cakes

I had a request for my Lava Cakes recipe. They sounded so good I made a batch for dessert today. Here's the link:

Lava Cakes

This time instead of topping it with vanilla ice cream, I have some of my all-time favorite... pink peppermint.

Here's another link to a great Christmastime dessert:

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Friday, December 12, 2008

Week 79 Menu

(Friday - Robyn's Meatloaf, baked potato wedges & sauteed asparagus)
(Saturday - eat out .... Christmas Party)
(Sunday - Oven Baked Salmon w/ Pesto, Three Cheese Bread)

Monday - Chicken Fajita Quesadillas
Tuesday - Fettuccine Alfredo & Rustic Pan Bread
Wednesday - Chicken Enchilada soup
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - eat out (Christmas Party)
Saturday - spaghetti & garlic bread
Sunday - family dinner (I'm bringing salad & dessert)

This week's treat: Cranberry Muffins

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rustic Pan Bread

Rustic is such a fabulously useful word. Have dents and scratches in your furniture? Oh - it's now rustic furniture. Is the landscaping around your house lacking the finesse of the neighbor's? No worries -it's a rustic landscape. Do you have a crappy old pan and only about an hour* to throw something together for dinner? Make Rustic Pan Bread!

I shared this recipe last year, but I feel like it's been buried. I'm re-posting it under a new name - although the "rustic" applies more to the state of the pan I use than the actual bread. Hopefully with the "rustic" title it will be less intimidating for some of you as well. I've found that this bread is kind of hard to mess up. I love that kneading is not required and you can top this bread with all sorts of things. One of my favorites is melted butter and dried rosemary.

Rustic Pan Bread
(mom - is this originally your recipe?)

2 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 Tablespoon yeast
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
melted butter

In a bowl dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let sit for a few minutes. Stir in flour and salt. Dough will still be quite sticky (see photo).

Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise* until double in size.

Grease a small cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. Spread dough flat onto sheet with palm of hand.

Spread melted butter on top. You can also add Garlic Parmesan Blend, sesame seeds, dried rosemary, or just butter! (hm. Looks like I went a little heavy on the butter this time)

Let dough rise again*. Bake 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.

*note: Rising times will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. The last time I made this bread it rose really quickly and it was done and ready to eat in about an hour.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic

This is my new favorite side dish for week night meals. It's quick to whip up, but looks and tastes like you put some thought into it. You can easily adjust the size of this recipe - I'd say for each two to three servings added, include an additional garlic clove. If you're not a garlic fan, use just one clove. If you LOVE garlic you're on your own. Just be sure and have some mints handy after dinner.

I have to add a disclaimer on my photo. The night I photographed these beans, I had let the pan get a little too hot and the garlic is a little too brown. You get the idea though.

Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic

fresh green beans (enough for 4 people), ends trimmed
2 garlic cloves (3 if small), minced
about 1 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Trim the ends of the beans. Fill a medium to large sized pot with water and bring to a boil. Toss in beans and continue to boil for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Drain green beans and add to skillet. Toss for 1-2 minutes, add salt, pepper and garlic. Continue to toss for another minute, watching garlic so it doesn't burn. Remove from heat and serve.

Cranberry Chutney

I had this for the first time last year at Thanksgiving and instantly fell in love. This dish even converted several so-called cranberry haters (including Mr. Dinner's on Me.) Thank you to my sis-in-law for sharing it with me, and thank you to her in-laws for sharing it with her.

This is the best kind of recipe - all loosey-goosey. No exact measurements - just taste as you go and stop when it is delicious. It really is so much better if you can make it the day before.

Cranberry Chutney

2 bags of fresh cranberries
juice of 2 or 3 oranges
zest of 1 or 2 oranges
juice of 1 or 2 lemons
zest of 1 or 2 lemons
about 3/4 cups sugar (maybe more)

Combine all in a food processor (or use one of these on the cranberries.) Do not over process - you want some chunks of the cranberries.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm Here...

I'm here! I'm busy - but I'm still here.

See...this is what I did today. I'm still cooking and baking, I just haven't had time to blog about it all.

Cinnamon roll, anyone?

Tomorrow I'll add two posts about some Thanksgiving side dish options: a delicious Cranberry Chutney recipe that I got from my sis-in-law, and some simple yet amazing sauteed green beans and garlic.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Week 78 Menu

Monday - Taco Salads
Tuesday - Steaks, Polenta and mushrooms to top it all off
Wednesday - Chicken Noodle Soup & Pan Bread
Thursday - Baked Salmon w/Pesto (something like THIS)
Friday - eat out
Saturday - BBQ Club Sandwiches (we eat these a lot!)
Sunday - Beef Stew & rolls

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Week 77 Menu

Monday - Mom's Potato Soup
Tuesday - Feta Penne, green salad & french bread
Wednesday - mac & cheese
Thursday - Roasted Red Pepper Soup & skillet cornbread
Friday - Ginger Pork Pot Stickers & Fried Rice
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - breakfast burritos & fruit salad

This week's treat: Pumpkin Spice Muffins and/or Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cranberry Upside-Downer

I don't know how I ever found this recipe. Occasionally I go on lengthy searches through the internet to find new and interesting recipes. Sometimes I get lost. This was one of those recipes I came across in my wanderings, and I'm glad I bookmarked for testing. Side note: My recipe testing bookmark list regularly has about 25 recipes on it.

After I tested this recipe (and loved it) I found the cookbook at my local library (LOVE my library). Since then, I've made other baked bits of heaven from the cookbook and loved them all. I believe I'll be asking Santa for my own copy of this huge book.

What did I love about this cake? I loved the size. It makes a one layer 8-inch cake; 6-8 servings. I loved the crunch of the walnuts and the tangy cranberries. They perfectly topped the warm cinnamon cake. I served it about 20 minutes out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Magnificent. Mr. Dinner's on Me thought it would make a good dessert to follow Christmas dinner.

Link to Cranberry Upside-Downer recipe

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Week 76 Menu

Monday - eat out
Tuesday - Pork Tenderloin w/ Sour Cream-Cider Sauce
Wednesday - Spaghetti, bread, green beans
Thursday - Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin & Carrots
Friday - Pesto Chicken Florentine
Saturday - BBQ Club sandwiches & spinach salad w/poppy seed dressing
Sunday - Chicken tacos

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chili Cheese Dip

Each October, my sister and her husband throw a great Halloween party in their huge garage (a.k.a. The Man Cave.) She makes an enormous pot of yummy chili and the party guests each bring a dish to share. There's a pumpkin carving contest, doughnut eating contest,

a costume contest (we won the "best family costume" category!), and a cookie decorating table - all of the great things we all love about Halloween parties.

Last year I made a chili cheese dip and by the time the party was over the dish was licked clean. So I decided to bring the same dip this year. You would think after two years of making the same great cheesy goodness, that I would think to photograph it for my blog - but NO! So sorry. You'll have to use your imagination.

Chili Cheese Dip
The flavors and consistency of this dip can vary depending on which salsa and chili you use. I prefer a mild chili and a thick medium-hot salsa. Then I can add heat with Tabasco sauce at the end.

16-oz Velveeta, cubed
16-oz Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can chili
8-oz sour cream
16-oz salsa
Tabasco sauce to taste

In a large saucepan, melt Velveeta and shredded sharp cheese over low heat. Stir often so it does not burn. Drain salsa and chili into a separate bowl and keep the juices.

When cheeses are mostly melted, add chili, sour cream and salsa. Continue to cook over low heat until cheese is fully melted and creamy, and all ingredients are incorporated. If sauce is too thick, add juices from chili and salsa.

Taste, and add Tabasco sauce if desired. To serve, I like to transfer it to a crock pot on low heat. Be sure to stir it every once in awhile so it continues to look appealing to the masses. Oh - and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Panko Crusted Salmon with Fruit Salsa

As requested, here is #6 from this post. I've made this recipe twice now. The first time, my son took a bite and proclaimed, "mom, this is great chicken!" The second time, I plated it up and he said, "Oh this is my favorite chicken!" He ate it so well, I couldn't bring myself to tell him that it's not exactly chicken.

I have served this salmon with two different fruit salsas. The first time I made this recipe, I topped it with the Pineapple Tomato Salsa (recipe below). I thought it was just okay, so the next time I tried the Peach Salsa (recipe also below) and I enjoyed it much more. The crunch of the Panko crusted salmon contrasted nicely with the soft, sweet peaches. Alas, the amazing fresh peaches are no longer in season.

Panko Crusted Salmon

1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp lemon pepper
salmon fillets, skinned
1 tsp canola oil

(this is enough to coat 4 or 5 fillets)

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine salt, panko and lemon pepper on a dinner plate.

Add oil to a large non-stick skillet and heat to medium-high. Dredge the skinned side of salmon fillets in bread crumb mixture. Add the salmon to the pan, crumb side down. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer salmon (now crumb side up) to the foil lined baking sheet.** Bake for 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. When testing for doneness, salmon should flake easily with a fork. Serve crumb side up and garnish with fruit salsa.

**note: I use an oven safe skillet, so instead of transferring fish to baking sheet I just turn the fish to crumb side up and place the whole skillet into the oven for 6-8 minutes.

Peach Salsa

2 peaches, peeled & diced
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1 Jalapeno (remove seeds), minced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Combine in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. note: I used only half of the Jalapeno at first. (You can always add more later, but you can't take it away if it's too hot for you.)

Pineapple Tomato Salsa

3 Tbsp shallots, diced
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar
salt and pepper

In a bowl combine shallots, pineapple, tomato and basil. In a separate small bowl whisk together lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce and sugar. Pour over pineapple mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week 75 Menu

Monday - Robyn's Meatloaf & baked potatoes
Tuesday - Roasted Butternut Squash soup & Pan Bread
Wednesday - Vegetarian Chili & cornbread
Thursday - Chicken Tikka Masala & Naan
Friday - pizza
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Chicken Parmesan, angel hair pasta & steamed broccoli

This week's treat:
Cranberry Upside-Downer

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What I Learned From My Mother (and Rachael Ray)

I must begin this post with a disclaimer. I am not a Rachael Ray fan. I am also not a Rachael Ray hater. My biggest beef with her is that she counts in a strange way (more on that later). I must credit her with something however, that has changed the way I cook - or more precisely how I prepare my food.

Years ago, just as good ol' Rach was becoming the next big thing, my mom mentioned her to me. She told me she had watched a few of her shows and thought she was entertaining. Then she told me about the garbage bowl concept. At first I thought, "What a bother. Why not just throw-as-you-go?" Now however, I'm a believer. As I prep most meals, you can find a medium sized bowl on my counter full of food-garbage. It's mostly filled with veggie peels, onion skins and maybe a small wrapper or two. I don't use my garbage bowl to drain cans of food like Rachael does (my sink is not that far away) but it sure is handy for all of the other little bits of stuff. It keeps the mess off of my cutting board and makes clean up so much easier.

Thanks, mom for passing on that great tip to me. It would have taken me awhile to catch on to that one since I don't really ever watch her show.

Oh yeah, and you want to know why I don't like to watch her show? I know it is going to sound ridiculous. When Rachael counts or needs to emphasize the order of things (as in "first we saute the onions in a little EVOO, then we add in the tomatoes and finish off with the salt and pepper") , she starts with her thumb, then her index finger. Who uses the thumb as #1? Everybody knows the index finger is #1. Watch any sporting event in the country. See those big foam fingers waved around by the crazy fans? What finger is pointing up? That's right - not the thumb.

Sorry Rachael. You count funny. But thanks for the garbage bowl idea!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yogurt Advice, Please

I need some help. I am getting bored with my breakfasts lately (I'm currently an Eggo Waffle addict) and I've been craving some fabulously creamy yogurt. The problem is that I am not sure where to find said fabulously creamy yogurt. Any suggestions? I prefer a plain or vanilla flavor, but I'm open to anything. Do you have a favorite brand that you always buy and cannot live without?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week 74 Menu

Monday - Chicken Noodle Soup & grilled cheese
Tuesday -
Fiesta Rice & cheese quesadillas
Wednesday - BBQ chicken sandwiches & green salads
Thursday - Robyn's Meatloaf & baked potatoes
Friday -
eat out
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Baked Penne & some yummy bread

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Want My Brain Back

I have had a craving for some of my childhood favorite no-bake cookies. When I decided to try and make a batch, I had no idea what kind of ordeal I was getting myself into. First I had to dig the recipe out of my old recipe box, which involved first finding my old recipe box, and then searching through 67 (yes, I counted) well used recipe cards from the dessert section of the box. Of course, I missed it the first time through the stack because while I refer to them as "no-bakes" the recipe card calls them "Chocolate Drop Cookies."

Ok. Recipe located. Now to gather ingredients. There's only seven of them so it should be simple enough. Margerine...check. it. there it is. Vanilla...yep. Now sugar. Uh-oh, not enough in the canister. Better refill it. I drag out the big 5 gallon bucket that I keep my sugar in and refill my canister. Next on the ingredient list is peanut butter. Oops - used the rest of it to make my son's lunch this morning. No problem, I have more downstairs in my food storage. Last is the oats. Now I KNOW I have oats. They're here somewhere. I look through my pantry. Nope. Hm. Try downstairs again. I look and look. I move cans, jars, bottles, jugs, tubs - still cannot spot the oats. I come upstairs and look in the pantry again. At this point I wonder if I really do want these cookies. Yes, yes I do. So I go back downstairs, more determined than ever to find those oats. I decide to look again on the very bottom shelf. I move aside a few things then stand up - frustrated. As I stand there hands on hips, trying to remember where on earth I put the oats. I look in my left hand. Oh there they are. In my search for the stinkin' oats, I must have touched them at least 5 or 6 times. Where is my brain?

Chocolate Drop Cookies
(a.k.a. No-Bake Cookies or Gorilla Poop)

1/2 c. margarine
2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. milk
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 tsp vanilla
3 c. quick oats

In a large sauce pan, bring margarine, sugar, milk & cocoa to a rolling boil. Boil for at least 2 minutes or the cookies will not set. For a drier, crumbly cookie boil for up to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter, vanilla and oats. Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper and let cool 1 hour.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hungarian Chicken

Tired of your same ol' chicken recipes? We tried this new recipe and loved it. It's from my sister-in-law's-sister-in-law's-cousin (hm - or maybe just my sister-in-law's cousin by marriage? How does that work?) Anyway - I'm glad she shared it with me, and it's now in my "favorite recipes" folder.

In her recipe she gives two cooking options. I used the stove top method (for 1 1/2 hrs), but next time I'll try the crock pot. If anyone tries the crockpot option, email me (or leave a comment) and let us know how long and on what temp.

Click here for printable version

Hungarian Chicken
Heidi Davies

1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 cup diced white onion
4 drops garlic juice, or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 can tomato soup
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
chicken pieces

Mix everything together (can be in a crockpot or in a pot on the stove) then add the chicken. Cook on medium heat until the chicken is tender (at least an hour). We serve it with rice and any vegetable.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Last Week's Winners

From the comments and emails I received last week, it looks like I'll be posting the recipe for # 6 first, then 4, 3, 2 and then the foil dinners. Thanks for your help in deciding the order, and stay tuned (or subscribe by email!) for the recipes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Week 73 Menu

Monday - Mom's Potato Soup & rolls
Tuesday - oriental ribs, rice & sauteed snow peas
Wednesday - Sweet & Sour Meatballs & Herb Green Beans
Thursday - Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes & steamed carrots
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Yo-Yo Dinner (it's a busy day!)
Sunday - Baked French Toast & fresh fruit

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Redux

Me: "Aw man. I have to come up with a menu for the week."
Mr. Dinner's on Me: "Just use an old menu."
Me: "You're brilliant."
Mr. Dinner's on Me: "I am."

Most of the time I find creating my menus enjoyable and I look forward to trying out new recipes. Sometimes however, it is a chore and the only thing that makes me do it is this blog. But I'm glad! Don't get me wrong. By the middle of the week I'm so happy to have the menu so I don't have to think about what to eat each day. Also, when I have a menu, I shop once. With no menu, I find myself making several "quick" trips to the grocery store. Ug.

For this week's menu, I (sort of) took my husband's suggestion. In the past few weeks there have been a few things on my menu that for one reason or another never quite made it to the dinner table. Life happens, right? So I've brought them back for this week's menu.

There have also been several recipes that DID make it to the dinner table but I haven't written the posts for yet. I have a folder on my desktop full of lovely food photos ready to be set free. I'll let you all decide which one I do first. Here are your options:

Just leave a comment with your vote. You can vote all you want. Mmmm - I know which one I vote for. (Number one and number five really are the same post, but different recipes.)

Week 72 Menu

Monday - Hungarian Chicken & rice
Tuesday - Roasted Tomato Soup & pan bread
Wednesday - spaghetti & meatballs
Thursday - BBQ Club Sandwiches & corn on the cob
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Oriental Chicken Wraps
Sunday - bbq ribs

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm A Bad Mom

Alright. This is food related, I promise. I've been seeing a commercial on television for a couple of months now and it really bothers me every time I see it. According to the Dixie paper plate people, I'm a bad mom.

My favorite lines:

"My children come first. It's as simple as that."

"I'm proud to use Dixie Ultra paper plates. If it means fewer dishes and spending more time with my family."

What? I'm sorry, but if your children truly come first, then you shouldn't be filling up the landfills with paper-plate-garbage for your children to clean up when they're adults. Bring your children into the kitchen with you and spend time with them there. Little hands are willing to help, and are quite capable of scooping, measuring, spreading and stirring. Teach them to cook. (Thanks mom)

Let them help dirty the dishes and then teach them how to clean them. Do the dishes together and spend more time with them shoulder to shoulder at the sink. I believe that one of the best things a parent can do is to teach their children to work. (Thanks dad)

Show your children how much you respect them and value family dinner time by using real plates, forks, spoons, knives and glasses. My goodness, you could even throw on a few placemats and light a candle or two every once in awhile. Paper plates are for picnics. Repeat after me: Paper plates are for picnics. Again: Paper plates are for picnics.....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dinner Makes A Difference

Today, September 22nd has been proclaimed as "Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children." Please eat dinner with your families. Turn off the television, sit at the table, eat dinner, and talk to your children.

Did you know??

Week 71 Menu

Monday - sweet corn soup & roasted vegetable pizza
Tuesday - Panko crusted chicken & green salad w/ poppy seed dressing
Wednesday - crockpot BBQ Chicken over rice
Thursday - fish tacos with peach salsa
Friday - Creamy Rosemary Penne with Chicken & fruit salad
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - tomato soup & pasta w/ basil pesto

Fried Rice

I would have to say that my husband is an aficionado of fried rice. When we eat out, if fried rice is on the menu, then he'll be ordering it. Where I consider fried rice as more of a side dish item, to him it is a main dish. He is happy with a plate full of fried rice and a beverage. Done.

That being said, we have tried many fried rice recipes. He has loved them all, but this final version is my favorite. For me, it is a nice balance between simplicity in preparation and flavor. Really, fried rice is quick and easy to prepare and there is no reason to use the fried rice seasoning mix when it's just as easy to do the real thing!

Another reason why fried rice is great, is because it's a flexible recipe. Do you really like carrots but not peas? Then add more carrots and omit the peas. Do you have only white or yellow onions and no green ones? Just fine. Do you have some ground pork leftover from making potstickers? Throw that in too! This is a large recipe. I would say it makes 6-8 servings. We are able to eat it as a main dish one evening and it leaves several servings for G's lunch the next day.

Fried Rice

2 cups uncooked long grain rice (not minute rice!)
2-3 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 eggs
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup diced onion ** (see note)
3/4 cup frozen peas.
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder **(see note)
2 Tablespoons butter
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the rice according to the package directions (I use my rice cooker). Let the rice cool.

If your sesame seeds are not already toasted, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until light brown in color.

Beat eggs in a small bowl and scramble in a large skillet over medium high heat. As they cook, break the eggs into smaller chunks. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrots and peas. Immediately top with the cooked rice. Do not stir for about 1 minute, to allow the peas to heat through a little. Then toss veggies and rice together and continue to cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Add soy sauce, 5 spice powder, toasted sesame seeds, and scrambled eggs. Toss to combine all ingredients. Taste, and add salt, pepper and more soy sauce if you desire.

**note: I prefer to use either diced white onion, or diced green onion (or a mix of both - whatever I have on hand!) For the chinese 5 spice powder, there are recipes online to make your own blend, or this can also be found at most grocery stores. Also, this may be omitted. My original recipe didn't include the 5 spice powder, but I would add a little garlic powder instead.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Week 70 Menu

Monday - Grilled Corn Salad
Tuesday - BBQ Chicken Pizza
Wednesday - eat out
Thursday - Chicken Cannelloni
Friday - Steak, salad & corn on the cob
Saturday - Roasted Tomato Soup & pan bread
Sunday - Hungarian Chicken

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ginger Pork Pot Stickers

Lately we have been on the hunt for a great (local) Chinese restaurant. A few years ago we found one in San Diego (Mira Mesa to be precise) and we haven't found it's match yet. Meanwhile, I saw an episode of Guy's Big Bite on the Food Network where he made some Ginger Pork Pot Stickers and man did they look good, and not all that difficult.

When I told my husband that pot stickers were on our menu for the week, he was excited. Here's how the conversation went:

Hubby: "I love pot stickers. My mom is great at making pot stickers."
Me: "Oh fabulous. That's not the best thing you could have said. Remember the now famous quiche incident of 2000?"
Hubby: "Oh yeah. Well, I bet your pot stickers will be good too."
Me: "Thanks. Can't wait."

What's the quiche incident of 2000 you ask? Well, I had discovered that my newly acquired husband's most favorite dish was quiche. Being the thoughtful wife I am, I made him a quiche for his birthday. It turns out that it wasn't quite as good as his mom's. That's fine. So I ask her for her recipe, and try again. Still no. I research more quiche recipes. Still no. This goes on for 3 years. I don't make quiche anymore.

Anyway, back to the pot stickers. I've never attempted pot stickers before, but this recipe was easy to follow and very yummy. In fact, the whole family got involved:

My son loved grating the carrots, and was more eager to try out this new meal since he had a hand in it's creation. (The carrots are for the fried rice.) Here are the pot stickers, ready to be wrapped, boiled and fried.

We paired the pot stickers with some fried rice (I'll have to type that recipe up later). The only thing that was lacking were the chopsticks. Oh, I did mix together a few things for a dipping sauce. Sorry I don't have the exact measurements - I just kind of eyeballed it.

Link to Ginger Pork Pot Stickers here

Dipping Sauce for Pot Stickers

In a small bowl mix:
soy sauce (about 1/4 cup)
about 1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp honey

In the end, I was happy with the meal, and we'll be having pot stickers again (probably soon). The only comment from Mr. Dinner's on Me was, "these are awesome!" with no reference to his mom's pot stickers. Either he has wizened up or I won this round. My guess is he's just more careful with what he says. I know I don't hold a candle to Bonnie's cooking!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Week 69 Menu

Monday - school picnic
Tuesday - BBQ Club Sandwiches & salad of some kind...
Wednesday - eat out
Thursday - tin foil dinners
Friday - grilled steak & Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Orzo
Saturday - good ol' spaghetti & meatballs
Sunday - Oriental BBQ Ribs

Need more menu ideas? Check out Menu Plan Monday

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pizza Cake

Ha ha! More cake! I told you I was a big fan of cake mixes. This one was for my nephew's birthday and I have to admit that this is not my original idea. I saw it in a magazine and thought it would be a cute and easy birthday cake. It sure was!

Here is the link to the original. I have a few tips for you though, if you're going to try this one out. First of all, use gel icing color and not the liquid drops you find in most grocery stores. The gel will help get a deeper color, more like a pizza sauce and won't change the consistency of your frosting. I used this size of jar of the regular red color (see image below) and I ended up using the entire little container, and still was not quite happy with the color. Next time I might get a regular red gel and a darker red gel and combine them to get better results.

Also, I wasn't able to find fruit roll ups (for the pepperoni) that didn't have tattoos on them. Finally for serving, I just bought some foil pizza trays and they worked fine. Although if I do this again, I might go to a pizza shop and buy two medium sized boxes from them. It would help protect the pizzas and help with presentation.

If anyone tries out these cute little cakes, email me a photo of it. I'd like to see!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Orange Crunch Cake

I'm a fan of cake mixes. Several times now they have come in handy when I need to whip up a quick dessert. I usually keep several varieties in my food storage along with muffin mixes, cookie mixes, and a brownie mix or two. One of my favorite things to do with a cake mix is a simple cup cake. They're easy to transport, and kids love 'em.

On occasion however, it's good to have alternate recipes available that use the cake mix, but would be more appropriate to serve to adults. One of my favorites has been the Honey Bun Cake but recently I discovered (and tested) a new recipe, an Orange Crunch Cake. This recipe appears on, but apparently it was originally from a Pillsbury ad in a magazine from years and years ago.

Orange Crunch Cake

1 cup graham cracker crumbs**
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter, softened

1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 Tbsp grated orange zest

1 (16 oz) can prepared vanilla frosting
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 Tablespoons grated orange zest
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained

**one sleeve of graham crackers makes about 1 1/4 cups crumbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch pans. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, walnuts and butter. Divide mixture evenly between the prepared pans. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cake mix, water, orange juice and oil until blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the orange zest. Pour the mixture evenly over the crunch layer in the pans.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting. Frost (crunch side up) between layers, on top and sides. Arrange orange sections on top, then refrigerate.

TO MAKE THE FROSTING: In a medium bowl, beat the vanilla frosting until light and fluffy, then mix in the whipped topping. Stir in the orange and lemon zest. Use frosting on completely cooled cake layers.

Week 68 Menu

Monday - something fun.... happy Labor Day!
Tuesday - Southwest Chicken Salads (w/ honey lime chicken...recipe coming!)
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - Fried Rice & Pot Stickers
Friday - BBQ Chicken Pizza
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - Potato Ham Skillet

More menu ideas found HERE

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Basil Pesto

Back in October I wrote a post about my having to purchase my basil from the grocery store (insert dramatic pause here, while I await your very audible gasp). No, I'm really not that hoity-toity. There's nothing wrong with buying fresh basil wherever you can find it. My reason for this post, is to say that this Summer I found a spot in my flower bed to stick a basil plant and I am so glad I did. It's uh, quite prolific.

I was talking to one of my fabulous sisters yesterday and she was telling me how great her basil plant was doing also. She needed some new ideas on how to use all of that basil and I figured others out there might need some suggestions as well. So I'm sharing my recipe for Basil Pesto along with a list (with links) of some of my favorite recipes that call for basil. (scroll down for list of recipes)

Basil Pesto

about 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves - no stems
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts **
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium low heat (optional**). Add pine nuts, basil, garlic, cheese, and 1-2 Tablespoons of the olive oil to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the remaining olive oil until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

**Toasting the pine nuts is completely optional. My husband cannot eat raw pine nuts, but if I lightly toast them, he's fine. Here's another pine nut tip: In the past I've been able to find nice large bags of pine nuts at Costco for a great price. Buy those, and keep them in your freezer - they'll last a LOT longer. Pine nuts tend to go rancid quite quickly, and no one likes to toss those adorable little golden nuggets in the trash.

Some of my favorite recipes using basil:

Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Orzo
Pizza Margerita
Fresh Pasta Primavera
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto Chicken Florentine