Monday, January 31, 2011

White Bean & Chicken Chili

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground chicken
1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp flour
2 (15-ounce canes) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken, 1 tsp salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese ad chopped parsley.

It made about 7 servings and I froze two to see if this would make a good chili to freeze and have on hand for quick lunches. The only thing I want to do different next time it try dried beans so that the sodium is reduced even more. I have had bad luck with dried beans in the past, so if you have had success with them, please share with me!

Weekly Meal Plan

Sorry this is late! I have a sick kiddo: croup. It has been a long weekend.

Sunday: White Bean & Chicken Chili with corn bread
Monday: Eggplant Paremsan
Tuesday: Left Over Eggplant
Wednesday: Sandwiches
Thursday: Seasoned Pork Tenderloin in the crockpot with veggies
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Turkey Meatballs (making a double batch to freeze)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chili-Glazed Pork

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1⁄4 pounds)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Heat broiler. Place the pork on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Rub with the oil, the chili powder, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Broil, turning occasionally and basting with the maple syrup twice, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Spicy Chicken Tenders

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
3 Tbsp hot sauce (yuck, I left this out)
1 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
Olive oil, for drizzling

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a heavy baking sheet liberally with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and 1 Tbsp salt. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and hot sauce. In a third medium bowl, mix together the cornmeal, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour and then into the egg mixture. Allow any excess egg mixture to drip off and coat the chicken in the cornmeal mixture. Arrange the breaded chicken in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 to 17 minutes.

Arrange the chicken on a platter and serve with dipping sauce.

Welcome to Tennessee, Piper!

Saturday we had a shower for Piper Graves. She is the daughter of my long time friend Laura. Cassie and I decided it was the best shower we have hosted. Why? A combination of come-and-go, no baby games, and the baby was there to love on!

Meet Piper! =)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday: Mexican Crockpot Chicken
Monday: Spicy Chicken Tenders (new recipe!)
Tuesday: Make your own Mini Pizzas! (Mom's B-day)
Wednesday: Chick-fil-a Spirit Night
Thursday: Mushroom Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce
Friday: Sweet & Sticky Orange Chicken with Rice
Saturday: Breakfast - waffles, eggs, potatoes, bacon, etc

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Molly got a new bed last night

And it was all Colin wanted to play with. He loved it. And Molly was nice enough to make room for him.

Fully Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup

This is the best potato soup recipe I have found. And if you are couponing and looking to make your grocery list based on sales (which I am trying to do!) you can make this one for pretty cheap. I am done looking for a new potato soup recipe - this it! I saw the Neely's make it on the Food Network.

4 Tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1 (12 ounce) bottle light-bodied beer
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar
Dash hot sauce
Dash Worcestershire
Sour cream, bacon, chives, etc for topping

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute in butter until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and continue to stir for 2 minutes to toast the flour. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually whisk in the stock, then the milk and the beer. Stir in the potatoes and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup until the potato is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes

Remove the pan from the heat and using an immersion blender (I used a hand mixer), puree the soup until smooth (I liked that the hand blender left it a little chunky but still pretty smooth). Return the soup to low heat. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring until melted and smooth after each addition. Season the soup to taste with hot sauce, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper.

Divide the soup among bowls and top with sour cream, bacon, chives, etc.

I didn't use hot sauce (b/c I think it is gross) or Worcestershire (b/c I didn't have it). And after many texts between Hallie and I, we decided that it is very important that you use the light beer. It will make or break your soup!

Assuming this serves 6, it comes out to 9 PointsPlus per serving (not including sour cream or bacon toppings).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oven Fries

2 large uncooked potatoes, baking variety, cut into 16 long wedges each
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for serving

Place over rack in top third of oven. Preheat oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick foil or coat with cooking spray.

Place potatoes on prepared pan; drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Spread potatoes into a single layer; bake for 20 minutes.

Remove potatoes from oven; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Flip potatoes and arrange in a single layer; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.

Return pan to oven; bake until potatoes are golden, about 15-25 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve. Yields about 8 fries per serving (4 servings).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Espresso Caramel Bars

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 12 whole (6 ounces) cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled or 2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
Chocolate Layer:
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt, optional
Special equipment: a candy thermometer

For the crust:
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment or waxed paper. Spray the paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the graham crackers and sugar. Process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend until the mixture forms into clumps. Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing gently to form an even layer. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is golden. Cool for 15 minutes.

For the caramel:
While the crust is cooling, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of cream, butter, sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully pour the caramel over the warm crust. Cool for 20 minutes. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

For the chocolate layer: Combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the espresso powder. Remove the springform pan from the freezer. Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel layer and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with smoked sea salt, if using. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm.

Allow the layers to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Using a warm, slightly wet knife, carefully cut around the edges of the chocolate layer. Release the side of the pan and remove the paper from the bottom. Cut into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch bars and store airtight in a covered plastic container.

Another Giada recipe. I don't think she has a bad recipe.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday: Burgers & Oven Fries
Monday: Spinach & Mushroom Pizza
Tuesday: Turkey Meatballs & Pasta
Wednesday: Potato Soup & Sandwiches (new soup recipe - will post soon!)
Thursday: Girl's Night Out - Pasta dinner for the boys
Friday: Chili-glazed Pork with Sweet Potato Hash (I just bought a food processor and I am so excited to use it! This is also a new recipe and will post soon.)
Saturday: Macaroni Grill

And a new dessert recipe will be posting soon. I used my food processor for the first time to make the graham cracker crust.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I am just curious...

...but do people not RSVP anymore?

And this is not directed to anyone that reads my blog. It is a shower for an out-of-town friend and her brand new baby.

For goodness sake - I put my e-mail address on there so if you were a stranger and didn't want to call my house you could just send me a quick "yes" or "no."

Maybe I am mean, but I figure if you don't tell me your coming then I don't plan for you. You will go hungry.

But Cassie is also hosting so she may not go with that idea... =P

I am so excited to meet baby Piper! I have been practicing her name with Colin.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And it's over

The crib side is back on. It didn't last long, and at least it is very easy to switch from the crib to toddler conversion and back!

He enjoyed playing in it.

Looks like this wasn't the answer to our sleep problem. I actually feel kind of dumb for even trying it. Oh well. I can say I tried right?

I ended up taking out the bumper - since he has been trying to climb up it he has broken the ties off several corner anyway - and gave him a comfier pillow. Maybe that will help some.

Moving on up?

I think I am going to start transitioning Colin to his toddler bed. He isn't climbing out yet, but he really seems to enjoy the elements of a "big boy bed": the pillows and soft blankets. He hasn't been sleeping great but if I put him in my bed and snuggles right up to the pillow and is out. I can't figure out if it is b/c he is near me or if it is the bed. Last night (since Andrew was gone) I put him in our bed in the middle of the night on Andrew's side. I didn't touch him...and he slept soundly, even allowing me to get ready without waking. Oh, and sleeping in my bed is not something we do if it is the bed he likes, he is getting his own.

The toddler bed isn't my favorite, and I would much rather get him a nice new comfy mattress and bed, but I am not prepared to take on that expense and then it backfire! If we are getting a REAL bed...he is also getting a room make over to make it more like a little boy's room. So you can see how I am holding off on that expense until I know he does well.

I am curious as to what made you switch to a toddler/twin bed and if you had any tips if we hit a rough patch.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fried Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich

So, I didn't get my burger tonight because I didn't want to go out in the icy cold weather. Paula Dean was making these (I had the Food Network on ALL DAY) when my mom stopped by around lunch and I was thinking about them ever since. I thought they tasted like a breakfast food and I might prepare them in the mornings occasionally.

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 to 3 ripe bananas
8 slices white bread

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a frying pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Make sure butter does not burn. In a small bowl mix together the peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon. Slice the bananas into 1/4-inch thick slices. Spread the peanut butter mixture on 4 slices of bread and cover with banana slices. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Spread the remaining butter on both sides of the sandwiches. Grill the sandwiches in the frying pan until each side is golden brown.

For topping, combine the sugar and cinnamon in shallow plate. Coat the grilled sandwiches with the mixture. Cut diagonally and serve hot.

*I just realized I didn't use honey. I went by my memory since I was only making two sandwiches instead of four. And I only had smooth peanut butter, but the crunchy looked really good on TV. And I used a little spreadable butter on the bread and sprayed the non-stick pan with butter cooking spray. I am sure they are great prepared any way you do it!.*

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baked Ziti

We haven't made this yet. It is on our menu for Friday, but it seems harmless enough so I am going to post it prior to making it.

6 Sprays cooking spray
1 pound uncooked pasta, rigatoni or penne
3/4 pounds part-skin ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, or more to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 cup marinara sauce, divided
1/2 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup basil, cut into ribbons, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Coat bottom and sides of a lasagna pan with cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cool water and drain.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, red pepper flakes, 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese and 1/3 cup marinara sauce.

To assemble ziti, spoon 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of prepared pan; top with half of pasta in an even layer. Evenly spread pasta with ricotta mixture; cover with half of remaining sauce. Top with remaining pasta and spoon remaining sauce over top; sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Tbsp Parmesan. Bake until cheese melt and is browned, about 20 to 30 minutes. Allow sit to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing in to 12 pieces.

I am now that mom

Picture it: we are grocery shopping on Friday afternoon. Colin just got done with his 18 month checkup (26lbs - estimate, he was not cooperating - and 33 inches!) and had to get 4 shots. I took in his sippy cup b/c we also went by the bakery to get him a sugar cookie. After devouring that cookie and washing it down with his remaining milk he pointed at the brand new gallon of milk in the cart. He tried to pick it up and obviously wanted more. I actually started to open the new milk and pour it into his sippy while we were in the frozen food section. I then decided he was fine and I was not opening a gallon of milk that would surely spill.

And he was fine.

We got our fruit and he wanted a banana. The thing about the banana is, you pay based on weight...and they can't weigh a banana after he has eaten it. So I hid them under other stuff and kept going.

Then I noticed those Buddy Fruits were on sale! I threw a ton of them in the cart. He then pointed and wanted one of those.

So right there I popped open a Buddy Fruit and let him eat it. I never thought I would let him eat food at the grocery b/f I paid for it, but I did. And the cashier even offered to throw away the empty package after she scanned it. =)

That was my eventful Friday.

Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday: Turkey Chili
Monday: Daddy is in Chicago this week (kind of jealous...if it weren't so cold) you know what that means: hamburgers! And probably chicken tenders for the little man. He isn't interested in hamburgers...yet.
Tuesday: Sandwiches and odds 'n ends
Wednesday: Easy Chicken Tetrazzini
Thursday: Leftover Tetrazzini
Friday: Baked Ziti (a new recipe!)
Saturday: Mom's Night In - pizza with the girls for me; my boys are on their own!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Spinach-Mushroom Pizza

I have made this before and will be making it again soon. A new recipe I want to try out uses part of a container of ricotta cheese and leaves some pasta sauce behind and this recipe can pick up the slack and finish it off. I'll post the other recipe soon.

1 12-ounce whole-wheat pizza crust, like Boboli
1/4 cup pizza/pasta sauce
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded mozzarella
6 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450. Place a large heavy baking sheet on the bottom of the oven. Lay the pizza crust on a work surface.

Spread the crust with the sauce, followed by the spinach and onion. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and mushrooms. Dollop the ricotta over the pizza and sprinkle with Parmesam. Drizzle the olive oil all over.

Use a thin cutting boards or the back of a second baking sheet to carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated baking sheet on the bottom of the oven. Bake until the crust is puffed and beginning to color at the edges and the cheese is melted, 10 minutes. Take the sheet out of the oven and preheat the broiler.

Broil the pizza, watching carefully, until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Let pizza cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Slice into 6 wedges and serve.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Brown Butter Sauce

Ok, so I normally stay away from a sauce recipe that starts with "1 stick of butter" but this was excellent. I just tossed it with angel hair pasta...since that is what we had, but next time I am going to pair it with some mushroom ravioli. Oh, and it is TERRIBLE on the Weight Watchers points - 7pts JUST for the sauce. Oh my...

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 fresh sage leaves (torn into pieces) or 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large, heavy frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until pale golden, about 4 minutes. Add the sage or basil leaves and cook until crisp., about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and the nutmeg. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

This is another recipe from Giada's Everyday Italian. It serves 4.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mashed Potato Casserole

My mom made this for Christmas dinner and it was amazing. I don't have plans to make it anytime soon, but I have to share this recipe with you guys.

Peel (I left a little peel on for texture) and cut 5 lbs red potatoes. Cook in boiling water till tender.

Mash and blend in:
1 bar cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 T. butter
1/4 cup + or - milk to right consistency
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Pour into greased 9x13 dish. Dot with butter, about 2-3 T more. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and put in fridge for up to three days.

When ready to bake:

350 degrees for 40 minutes or until heated through, uncovered.

Add 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar to the top and bake 5 minutes more.

**I think I will add less cheese on top when I make it. The original recipe also called for 1 Tbsp of garlic salt but mom felt like it might have been too much, so you can probably increase that from the 1 tsp she used if you would like.**
My mouth is watering...I may have to add this to our menu soon after all.

Picante Skillet Chicken

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 jar (16 ounces) Pace® Picante Sauce
2 cups regular long-grain white rice, prepared according to package directions (about 6 cups)

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides.

Stir the picante sauce in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken and sauce with the rice.

Pasta Primavera

3 carrots, peeled
2 medium or 1 large zucchini
2 yellow summer squash
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound dried farfalle pasta (bow-tie pasta)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the carrots, zucchini, squash, and bell peppers into thin 2-inch-long stripes. On a large, heavy baking sheet, toss the vegetable strips, onion, oil, dried herbs, and 2 tsp each of the salt and pepper to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another large, heavy baking sheet, and arrange the vegetables evenly over both sheets. Bake, stirring after the first 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the other vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the cooked vegetables to combine. Add the cherry tomatoes and enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the pasta to bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

This is from my Everyday Italian cookbook by Giada de Laurentiis.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday: Pasta Primavera
Monday: Waffles (trying out our new waffle iron) & eggs...breakfast!
Tuesday: Picante Skillet Chicken
Wednesday: Spaghetti (trying to make our own fresh sauce)
Thursday: Pizza
Friday: Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas
Saturday: Seriously need some ideas...