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!