Monday, January 31, 2011

Chickpea Stew with Polenta

This is from the Cooking Light "Quick & Easy Soups" cookbook.  I got this from my stepmom for Christmas and I LOVE it!!  Several recipes on the way from this book.

4 Cups Water
1 Cup Instant Dry Polenta
1 TB Butter
- Make polenta per package instructions & set aside.  It'll hold it's heat for the 15 minutes it takes to do the rest.

1 TB Olive Oil
1 sm Onion, Chopped
1 1/2 tsp bottled, minced garlic
1/4 C lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
1 tsp ground Cumin
Black Pepper - to taste
2 (15 oz) cans ChickPeas (rinse/drain)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (do NOT drain)

Saute the onions/garlic in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes.

chopped green onions (I added some chopped cilantro instead and it was good - but onions would be great too)
Sour Cream (low fat)

In a low/shallow bowl, spread the polenta and then top with a ladle of the stew.  Put a dollop of sour cream over each bowl and sprinkle with the onions.

This was really good.  Vegetarian too (MICHELLE!) :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This Weeks Menu

Sunday: Jambalaya
  Bob is doing his first practice for Becca's soccer team so I'm making (one of) his favorite meals.
 This is Emeril's recipe for "Kicked Up Jambalaya" available on -- good stuff!

Monday: Chickpea Stew scented with Lemon & Cumin
 Sounds fancy but it's actually quick & easy and it's vegetarian. 

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Pot Roast
 Crazy day requires easy dinner.  This one is from this month's Family Circle Magazine (I gotta admit - I love that magazine)

Wednesday: Taco Night
 Who doesn't love tacos?  These will be chicken tacos with a sour cream based sauce and a mango/avocado salsa. 

Thursday: Restaurant Night
 There are going to be leftovers so they've gotta be gone...  Mommy doesn't cook on Thursday this week.  Yay.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eggplant and/or Chicken Parmesan

1 Med Eggplant, peeled, sliced 1/3" thick
2 Chicken Breasts - Boneless/Skinless and pounded 1/3" thick
1/3 Cup Flour (season liberally with salt & pepper)
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 Cup breadcrumbs
1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese - grated
1 tsp each: thyme, oregano, basil

Spaghetti (or Spaghetti Squash) - prepared to directions
Spaghetti Sauce - heated in pan on stove
Mozzarella Cheese

Lay out three wide, shallow bowls and put them in this order:
1.) Flour with more salt & pepper than you think advisable
2.) 2 Eggs, beaten
3.) Breadcrumbs, Parmesan & Herbs

Dredge the chicken/eggplant in the bowls, in order, making sure that each piece is coated smoothly.

Lay your chicken/eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 for 10 minutes.  Carefully turn each piece over and cook another 10 minutes. (They should not be touching) 

Remove pan from oven and put approx 1/4 Cup of spaghetti sauce on each piece then top with the mozzarella and put back in oven for about 7-10 minutes.  Remove when melted and you cannot stand how awesome your house is smelling. 

This is 100% my own invention.  I love the flavor of really good eggplant parmesan but most restaurants fry it and then bake it with tons of cheese.  It's greasy and rich and fantastic.  But this version has all the same wonderful flavors but is MUCH lighter than the fried versions.  I've also been trying to feed less meat to my family.  The idea of doing a little bit of chicken and "filling" in with the eggplant worked out great.  My six year old LOVED it and had no idea she was eating eggplant until we told her.  The spaghetti squash was less successful but she did get a few bites down.  My husband actually liked both.  Yay for veggies!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This Weeks Menu

Sunday: Chicken & Eggplant Parmesan
Yum.  Warm, rich, indulgent (but I bake it so not too indulgent).  What's not to love?

Monday: Cheezit Chicken
Except for Kari's family, everyone loves this because it's easy & normal people love it (suck it Markhams!).

Tuesday: Minestrone
Putting the crockpot to use on my busiest day of the week.

Wednesday: Pork Milanese
Crispy pork, lemons & sauteed spinach and a side of Tuscan white beans. 

Thursday:  Chicken Ranch Salad
An excuse to finish off the Ranch dressing from Monday and it's super yummy. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jungle Salad (Thai style salad with beef)

This is kind of a hybrid between the stuff I put in my Beef Summer Rolls (more on that when I've got an afternoon free) and the Jungle Salad they serve at Houston's.  I have just improvised this a bunch of times and I love it SO much.  My 6 yr old eats until she could pop... it's really good.  Want a kid to eat a salad - make this one!

1 bag salad greens
Leftover steak (rare, sliced thin - or just grill it rare & slice it super thin)
Peanut Dressing (recipe below)
Green Onions
Red bell pepper
Water chestnuts
Carrot (matchsticks)
Mandarin Oranges
Fresh Mint & Cilantro (we use TONS, but whatever works for you)
Sliced Almonds
Toss it all together and top with peanut dressing and serve.

In a saucepan heat the first 5 ingredients just until the peanut butter is fully incorporated and the whole thing is smooth. 
2 TB Peanut Butter
1 TB Soy Sauce
1 TB Honey (or brown sugar)
1 tsp crushed garlic (jarred is good)
1 tsp crushed ginger (jarred is great)
3 TB Rice Vinegar
Fish sauce - if you have it, a few drops - but don't buy it special or anything.
LIGHT Coconut Milk - about 1/2 cup

let the peanut mixture cool a bit then put in the vinegar & coconut milk until it's a nice taste (tip of the finger tasting totally works here!) and then use it to dress the salad.  Yum!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Weeks Menu

I'm travelling for work this week so Mommy isn't cooking much.  My sainted husband, however, will be holding down the fort this week. 

Sunday:  Chicken & Corn Chili
A recipe from Family Circle Magazine but it looks very vibrant & fresh.  It's a chilly, drizzly day so it sounds perfect!

Monday: Jungle Chop Salad
There's a salad with this name at Houston's restaurant but I'm not sure how much they have in common anymore, besides steak & mango.  This is a bunch of my favorite Asian style ingredients, chopped into bite sized pieces and then dressed with a peanut/ginger/soy dressing.  I love this meal. 

Tuesday: Pork, Sweet Potato Fries and steamed Broccoli
Easy, weeknight fare.  Yummy.

Wednesday: Italian Sausage & Peppers
This is Bob's thing so I hope he tells you how to do it.  I'm no fan of sausage so they indulge when I'm out of town.

Thursday: Take Out Chili Bar
Becca's school is doing a fundraiser and selling Chili for $5/bowl.   Gotta support the kiddos....  that it makes it easier on the hubs when I'm out of town is a BIG plus too!

Chicken & Corn Chili

Found this in Family Circle Magazine this month and it looks yummy & warm for a c-c-c-c-cold, drizzly day.

Chicken & Corn Chili
2 TB Olive Oil
1 Large Onion , chopped small
1 Green Pepper, Chopped small
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 14oz can chicken soup
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed into bite sized pieces
1 box frozen corn
2 cans Cannellini beans (rinse/drain)
Shredded cheddar for the top

Saute the onion & pepper until soft/translucent then add in spices and cook one minute.  Add the broth & tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add the chicken and simmer 10 min or until the chicken is cooked through.  stir in the corn & beans and heat through.

I may put some avocado, sour cream & salsa on top with that cheese.  And maybe some Tortilla chips if we have some handy. 

Sounds so warming & yummy today!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Greek Salad

Okay, it was SUPPOSED to be in the 60's today but it's still in the 30's and I am not at all happy about having a salad for dinner when it's this cold out.  However, I'm a bit of a stickler for not wasting food so unless I come up with some brilliant idea for how to serve this warm... it's what we're having.

1 bag of salad greens, rinsed & crisp
1 English cucumber, sliced into half moons
4 oz julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
1 C leftover grilled chicken, chopped
1 can black olives, drained

Brianna's New American Vinaigrette (or whatever dressing you prefer)

Toasted/warmed Pita (optional but really nice on a chillier than expected day)

Toss the greens with the dressing, top with the rest of the ingredients and then drizzle with just a bit more dressing. 

Dinner... in 5 minutes flat.  Gotta love that!!

If you have some hummus handy, just cut red/green peppers into sticks, don't use the whole cucumber and cut some into 3" sticks and have that on the side as well.  Yummy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Braised Red Cabbage, Pork Chops and Mashed Cauliflower

I'll admit up front that this is a bit ambitious for a weeknight.  But when you have a craving you have to find a way to fix it.

Here's what I've got on-hand and will pull this together. 
1 head red/purple cabbage
Cinnamon Stick
Cloves (whole)
Brown Sugar
White Vinegar (or apple cider vinegar - I dunno yet)
1 Apple, sliced thin
1 Bay Leaf
1 Onion
2-3 thick, boneless pork chops
1 head cauliflower

Heat oven to 350
** Make sure you have two racks - one close to the bottom with enough room to fit your saute pan with the pork chops and then one above it where the Dutch Oven will sit with your cabbage. **

Start with the cabbage - just slice it thin and then rough chop it in the other direction so you get smallish pieces. 
In a Dutch Oven over med/high heat, saute the onion until soft & translucent.  Add the cabbage and cook for about 10 min until it's starting to soften.  Add in the Bay Leaf, 8-10 Whole Cloves (you could pop those into a cheesecloth sachet if you're so inclined - but I'll just pick 'em out later), Cinnamon Stick and the sliced apple and allow them to all heat through and get hot.  Then add the vinegar (about 1/3 cup) and about 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  If that's not enough liquid to keep the cabbage sitting in about 3/4' of liquid add in some apple juice (or chicken broth or water - I just happen to have a 6 yr old so I have apple juice).  Pop the lid on and stick the whole thing in the oven.  It should cook at least 30 minutes but could conceivably cook for hours and only get better.  (hmmm - note to self, try this in a crockpot some time!!)

Take a moment to clean your cauliflower and chop it into florets that will be easy to mash.  Looks don't matter.  You'll steam it to fork tender and then mash it when the pork is in the oven. 

Now to the pork: trim any fat, make sure the surfaces are dry then sprinkle each side with salt & pepper then drizzle with olive oil.   In a HOT (oven proof!) saute pan, sear the first side until it's brown and pulling back from the pan.  Flip the chops and then put in a meat thermometer and pop the whole thing into the oven.   (NOTE:  You could TOTALLY sear the second side and then add the pork & any accumulated drippings to the cabbage.  It would taste terrific but my family doesn't love this meal the way I do and they'd prefer to not have their pork turn purple.)

While the pork is cooking, steam the cauliflower until fork tender.  Remove from heat and put the cauliflower into a food processor with about 1 TB of butter and LOTS of salt & pepper.  Pulse it until it looks like mashed potatoes (you may have to scrape down the sides a couple of times).   If you like you could add some milk (or cream or sour cream or cream cheese) for texture & richness. 

By this point, about 30 or so minutes should have passed.  You can set aside the cauliflower (or put it into a casserole dish and keep it warm in the oven) if you're off on time (I sometimes guess wrong at these things). 

When the meat hits the right temp, just pull it out and allow to rest about 5 min before you slice it.  I serve the sliced pork on a bed of cauliflower with a bowl of the cabbage.  But you could totally put the pork right with the cabbage & it'd be great. 

mmmm.... cannot wait for dinner. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Tuesdays are why I need wine.  Just saying....

So tonight is fast & easy but I also want to give a word of parenting advice for anyone who has kids who claim to not like vegetables.  Please keep in mind a couple of things:
1.) Much of India is vegetarian.  They also eat highly spiced foods.  Their kids must be eating something, right?  
2.) When they're hungry, EVERYTHING tastes better.
3.) Tastebuds mature.  I hated cauliflower until I was 30.  I wish someone had shown me you could do more to cauliflower than drown it in cheese sauce, I might have discovered it sooner. 

So when you make a meal with unusual spices or veggies your kid "hates" - keep at it.  Tastebuds change (inform your kids of this so they'll keep trying - they're always trying to be more "grown up" - here's a way that will please both of you). 

If you know you're serving something that they're going to cringe at, don't give them any snacks before dinner.  Hunger is the best seasoning.

Don't shoot yourself in the foot.  If you believe that "kids hate vegetables" then your kid will hate them.  But obviously there are lots of kids who don't eat meat and they must be living on something.  So keep an open mind, don't give your kids any indication of what you expect them to think of dinner.  I've found my daughter more likely to balk at stuff when I insist that she will LOVE it... so now I just shut up and let her figure it out on her own. 

That said, tonight is an easy win.  Frittata...

6 eggs, well beaten with 1 TB water or milk
5 slices Canadian Bacon, diced
1 sm bunch Asparagus, chopped
2 TB minced onion
1 red pepper, chopped small
3 wedges Laughing Cow light cheese
LOTS of freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 400

Over Med-High heat a non-stick/oven proof pan with olive oil and saute the onions, peppers for 2 minutes then add the asparagus until it just turns bright green.  Toss in the Canadian Bacon and get that heated through.  Mound the fillings towards the center - not in a pile but just sort of concentrated at the middle.  When you pour in the eggs, the filling will flow to the the edges.   Gently lift the edges of the eggs and allow the raw to flow under.  Wiggle the pan and try to keep the entire thing in one piece but evenly distributed. 

Once it's getting mostly set, plop on chunks of the cheese and put the whole thing into the oven until puffy and set to your taste. 

Slide out onto a board and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

White Chicken Chili ...again

This is such a favorite in my house that you can count on it at least once a month until it's too warm to think about (pretty soon, here in Texas).

1# Dried Great Northern Beans - soaked overnight
1 lg box Chicken Broth
1 white onion, diced small
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 TB Oregano
1 TB Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves (don't skip this - it's really good)
1-2 Cups leftover cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 can Rotel Tomatoes/Chilis - Drained

Put everything but the chicken & Rotel into the Crockpot and cook on LOW for 8 hours.  When you get home, put it on high and toss in the chicken and drained Rotel.  Allow it about a half hour or so to get hot again.

We're trying to be very light in my house right now, so we served this with 2% Colby/Jack cheese shreds, diced fresh avocado and fat free sour cream.  Fritos are a really, really yummy addition...

I've posted this before (and will again).  The only change this time was the Rotel (I could SWEAR I bought diced green chiles but couldn't find them anywhere in my dang pantry... probably rolling around in the back of my car right now....)   The Rotel was nice but not a giant improvement. 

Very nice to come home to on a cold, icy winters evening. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Weeks Menu

Brrrrrrr!!   I am SO looking forward to this evenings dinner of "Ranchers Pie" after a day of selling Girl Scout Cookies in a snowstorm!!

Sunday:  "Ranchers Pie"
Found this on "Gluten Free Goddess" and I am super excited about it.  She uses beef instead of lamb and tops it with mashed sweet potatoes.  Squeee!  Here's the link:

Monday: White Chicken Chili
A great crockpot meal and all-time favorite of my wonderful husband. 

Tuesday: Frittata
Quick & easy - basically this is breakfast for dinner but with a snazzy name

Wednesday:  Pork Chops, Red Cabbage & Cauliflower
I was inspired by my friend Annie's culinary school version of this last week and have had a craving ever since.  This is the easy button version!

Thursday:  Greek Salad
It'll be warm outside by the end of the week and this is a terrific, easy salad that really feels like you ate dinner.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chicken & Peppers

Plans this week got all wonky when I used the side items from my chicken meal with the steak (although it turned out great!).

So a quick stop at the grocery store for:
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green)
Piquillo Peppers (they're the roundish, red ones - sweet/spicy.  But any moderately spicy pepper would do)
I had everything else in the pantry so here's what you do:

Chicken & Peppers  and Roasted Curried Cauliflower
1 pkg boneless/skinless chicken breasts
½ onion, thinly sliced half moons
1 red pepper, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced (you can used the jarred stuff)
1 pkg grape tomatoes – halved
4 Piquillo peppers – drained/chop (skip the seeds if you want it less spicy)
½ tsp Thyme
2 C chicken broth (or white wine if you have it handy)
2 slices ham – small strips
(for the cauliflower: cauliflower, olive oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp crushed ginger, 1/2 tsp (or to taste) of curry powder)

Preheat Oven to 400

In a Dutch Oven, over med-high heat, heat canola oil until shimmering.

Sauté the chicken until just brown, pull out and set aside.

Add the onion, bell peppers & garlic to the pan and cook until softened.  Add the tomatoes, jarred peppers and thyme.  Once hot, pour in the chicken broth, get it back up to a boil and then add the chicken, put the lid on and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into 1/2" slabs, toss with olive oil, curry, ginger & garlic.  Put it on the rimmed baking sheet and cook on the lowest level in the oven about 20 min (handy – just put it in at same time as chicken) and turn it halfway thru. The cauliflower should be golden, caramelized and fork tender.

At the 20 min mark, pull out the chicken and check to confirm it’s done.  If so, pull out the chicken and veggies and set aside (pop it in a bowl and set a plate on top to keep in the heat), put the pan over med-high heat and cook the juices for 1-2 min to reduce a bit, add the ham to the sauce and heat through.  Pour over the chicken and serve.

Hmm… I might slice that chicken after it’s rested a bit and then toss it all together.

Serve alongside the roasted curry cauliflower. 

Big, robust flavors will trick you into thinking this is a big, heavy meal but it's actually incredibly light with low carbs, low fat and high in fiber.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Steak Florentine

Slight change of plans on the menu this week.  Had this idea driving home yesterday!

1 large (enough to feed everyone) Sirloin, T-Bone or other lean steak
Canola (or other flavorless oil that handles high heat - not olive) Oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Meanwhile (back at the ranch...)

Heat an oven proof pan (cast iron is fantastic for this) over high/med-high heat until the oil is shimmering.  Season your steak(s) with salt & pepper and sear the first side of the steak (just a minute or two) as soon as it's caramelizing and pulls free from the pan, flip it over and pop the whole thing in the oven.  Insert a meat thermometer and cook it until it reaches the desired temp.  About 145 should be fairly rare.  This is a flavorful steak but not very tender so don't try this if you like your meat anything more than med-rare. 

While the steak is in the oven (should take about 10-15 min), slice up 2-3 mushrooms, smash a couple of cloves of garlic and open a bag of spinach.  Have them handy next to your stove and then get started on the Tuscan beans.

Tuscan White Beans:
In a medium saucepan, saute a clove of minced garlic in olive oil then add 2 cans of drained cannelini and a can of diced tomatoes (don't drain the tomatoes - and the flavored ones are good).  Simmer until the steak comes out of the oven.  Add a pinch each of thyme & oregano or Italian Seasoning.

When the steak is done, set it on a board to rest for 5 min and then thinly slice.  While the steak is resting, put the hot pan back on the stove over med-high heat and toss the mushrooms into the accumulated juices in the pan and cook for 1 min then add the garlic for one more minute and then toss in the spinach and toss until it's all wilted and covered in yummy steak juice.

Serve the beans in a small bowl for each person, plate the spinach/mushrooms and the slices of steak (pour any extra steak juice over the meat - YUM!).

A nice Chianti or other Italian red table wine would be fantastic with this meal. 

With a little thinking ahead, this whole meal can be on the table in about 20-30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pork Stir Fry

Steam some brown rice with this if you like.

FIrst, chop your meat & veggies.

1 pkg thin cut, boneless pork chops, trimmed of all fat and cut into tiny strips
2 sm zucchini, sliced into half moons
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 cup snow pea pods
2 cups coleslaw mix (especially helpful if you're skipping rice)
1 red pepper, cut into small strips

Then make the sauce.  You can tweak this and go with what you have.  All amounts are approximate - just taste as you go and do what feels right for you.

2 TB soy sauce
1 TB brown sugar (or white or honey)
2 TB rice venegar (or 1 TB cider or white vinegar)
garlic/ginger - 1 tsp each if you used the stuff in the jar (not dried)
-other stuff you can toss in if you have it handy: a dash of fish sauce, Thai red chili paste or Hoisin sauce.
You could also use the bottled sauces they sell at the store.

In a hot skillet get some canola oil shimmering and brown the meat, in batches if necessary.  Just don't over crowd the pan because you want to get a nice caramelization going and if it's too much meat, it boils and that's just gross.

Once your meat is nicely browned set it aside in a small bowl and start the onions.  Give them about a minute (you may need to add additional oil to the pan) then add in the rest of your veggies.  I sometimes dump it all in but I do think it works better if you do it a bit at a time so you can cook it all evenly. 

Once the vegetables are just barely cooked, toss your meat back in along with the sauce and cook until the moisture is reduced.  If you want a thicker sauce you can mix about a TB of corn starch with COLD water and stir that in.  But watch out - it thickens FAST.

Hope you like it. 

Serve over steamed rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds (if you've got some handy).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ratatouille & Chicken

This is easy and, if you take a little time to prep, it's super fast!  This is basically the same thing as my Ratatouille Pasta... just without the pasta.  We served some bread (for the kiddo) and a nice spinach salad.

This part can be done the night before:
1 Zucchini, chopped
1 White Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, chopped
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
1 Eggplant, peeled & chopped into 1" pieces

Drizzle a pan with olive oil and saute each vegetable, in order (order doesn't matter except leave the eggplant for last because it can kind of gunk up your pan).

The reason I do one after the other is that I can be cooking the zucchini while I'm chopping the onion, get it?  It also helps to do it in batches because the things cook really well (nice caramelization) instead of just wilting/steaming the way they do if you crowd the pan.

Into each veggie, throw a pinch of Thyme, some smashed garlic and some salt/pepper.  A little crushed red pepper is nice too, if you can sneak it past your kids.

If you're doing this as prep for later, pop it into a container and toss it in the fridge.  It'll be fine for a few days.   If you're doing it now, just set it aside for a sec and start on the stuff below.

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Goat Cheese (1 sm log)
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 can sliced black olives (drained)

Chop the chicken into 1" chunks and toss onto a rimmed baking sheet with plenty of olive oil, salt & pepper.  Roast at 400 for 10 minutes.  Add all the sauteed veggies along with everything EXCEPT the goat cheese.

Roast the whole thing at 400 for 30 minutes but pull it out and toss it all around every 10 minutes.  The moisture will all evaporate and it'll all get yummy & caramelized. 

Serve in shallow bowls with a good knob of the goat cheese plopped on top.  If you want to class it up, a sprig of fresh thyme is lovely. 


Sunday, January 2, 2011

This Weeks Menu

While I don't believe in dieting or New Years Resolutions - I DO believe that I'm going skiing next month and I will need to fit in my ski pants!  I'm also pretty sure that my body needs to detox after the holiday food-fest.  So this week I'm doing very veggie intensive, low fat and very lean.  I've found that I tend to feel bloated and gross when I eat pasta & other refined carbs  (bread, potatoes) so I'm working to avoid them for a few weeks until I kick this sugar habit I've developed....

Sunday: going out with a bang and eating up ALL the leftover yummies we've got around here (Reuben Dip, Ham Balls, Black Eyed Peas, Cranberry Pudding and Linzer Torte)

Monday: Ratatouille with Chicken
I'll do most of the prep for this on Sunday (check the recipe page for the Ratatouille recipe).  The on Monday I'll just chop up the chicken, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and then roast it in the oven with the ratatouille.  This will be served in shallow bowls with a knob of goat cheese on top. 

Tuesday:  Pork Stir Fry
Cutting the pork up into little matchsticks and sauteeing it with ginger and garlic.  Set it aside then saute zucchini, peapods, onion & red pepper in a simple sauce of soy, ginger/garlic, honey and rice venegar.  Add in a little Thai chili/garlic paste to the grownup bowls.  An Edamame salad on the side and if you want you can make rice but we'll skip that this week

Wednesday:  Broiled Steak, Curried Roasted Cauliflower & Sauteed Spinach
A simple meal with big, bold flavors.  The steak is seared then broiled for lots of flavor.  The cauliflower is tossed with olive oil, garlic, ginger and curry power and then roasted until caramelized and delicious.  THe spinach is sauteed in the pan the steak came out of (while the steak rests) for more flavor.

Thursday: Chicken Parmesan & Tuscan White Beans
Again, going very light this week, the chicken will be pounded thin and coated with egg & a little parmesan cheese then baked at 400, topped with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella until melted and yummy.  On the side will be Tuscan style Cannelini beans with garlic & diced tomatoes

I'll also be doing some little mini crustless quiches to take to work during the week.  Let me know if you need the recipe (SIMPLE!).

Hope you like it!  Sounds like a yummy week to me.

Ham Balls (really - give this a shot)

All those people raving about their Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes and other such nonsense need to come around to the totally retro Ham Ball.  Don Draper would be a happy man to come across these at a cocktail party.  Your family will be thrilled to have these for Sunday dinner.  It is a bit of work so it's not an every day option but, when you get down to it, it's candied meat... and that should be a little extra work and you definitely should NOT eat this every day.  That being said - WOW.  It's just so good.

This recipe is courtesy of my dear friend, Renee Doba.

1 Pound Ham - Hormel, nothing fancy but get the nice, lean stuff.  This needs to be ground - I'll explain later
2 Pounds Ground Pork
1 Cup cracker crumbs (Club Crackers is the norm but I think Ritz would be fine - as long as it's a sweet/buttery cracker)
1 Cup milk
2 eggs - beaten

2 Cups  Brown Sugar
1 Cup White Vinegar
2 tsp Dry Mustard

You won't find ground ham in your grocery store and my butcher gave me some bogus song & dance about eColi and the Feds saying he can only grind beef.  If you can get them to do it, super.  If not, use a home meat grinder (Haha -- if you have one, you're WAY cooler than me!) or just mince it and then put it into your food processor (in small batches) and grind it into tiny bits.  Don't go so far that it's pasty.  Just to where it's kind of "fluffy" but holds together when you pinch it.

In the same food processor (no need to clean it, it's all going together anyway) grind up your crackers into crumbs.  (Oddly, this step also makes it WAY easier to clean your food processor.  You're welcome.)

In a large bowl, mix your meats with the cracker crumbs. 
In a big liquid measuring cup, meaure in your milk then add the eggs and beat the whole thing together.  Pour into your ham mixture and work it all together.  The mix will be VERY soft.  That's okay.

If you have a wire rack that you can rest over a rimmed baking sheet, that's best.  Spray EVERYTHING with cooking spray.   I lined the pan with foil as well (Reynolds makes non-stick foil and it is nothing short of a miracle).   Roll the ham into golf ball sized balls and space evenly on the wire rack.  Give them a bit of space but not too much because they'll shrink.

Bake at 350 for 60 to 90 minutes (depends on how much they cool down when you do your basting). 
Here's the thing though - you're going to baste these little beauties EVERY 15 MINUTES!  Don't skip it - it's what makes them amazing. 

I took them out after the first 15 minutes for their first baste and they'd firmed up enough that I flipped them over.  Turns out that they'd actually gotten a bit flat on the bottoms so when I flipped them they had a nice way of holding onto the glaze.  SO --- give that a try.

Baste every 15 minutes until they smell divine and are at about 170 degrees internally.  Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. 

These are SO good.  Really.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reuben Dip and Black Eyed Pea Dip

I don't believe in New Year resolutions and I'm not superstitious but I sure do enjoy having an excuse to eat yummy snacks!!

Here's my version of a Reuben Dip:

1 pound Corned Beef, chop it into little pieces.
2 Cups shredded Swiss Cheese (keep back about 1/4 Cup to sprinkle over the top)
1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
1 Cup Thousand Island Dressing
1 lg bottle sauerkraut, drained

Mix all together and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with rye toasts (if you want to go all out, brush them with a little olive and toast)

Black Eyed Pea Dip
1 Can Black Eyed Peas, drain & mash with a fork, leaving a few whole
1 Jalapeno, seeded & minced
2 TB finely minced onion
1/3 Cup sour cream
1/4 Cup Picante sauce
2 Cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Mix all together, spread into a pie plate, top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 for 20 min or until cheese is bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Happy New Year!!