Thursday, June 24, 2010

Caprese Bites



I made these as an adult snack for my son's 4th birthday party. They were such a hit! So very simple, but really tasty and fresh. It was a great way to showcase my garden's fresh basil and cherry tomatoes.

Caprese Bites
serves as many or as few as you wish!

basil leaves
cherry tomatoes
small, fresh mozzarella balls (or cubed mozzarella)

frilly toothpicks

Take one frilly toothpick, thread a mozzarella ball, a basil leaf and a cherry tomato onto it. Repeat.

See! Easy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Menu Plan - June 21

Like I mentioned yesterday, this week is a come-down from a really hectic past few weeks. I am still getting into the swing of it. 

So...I broke my menus up into specific days. My husband doesn't like to help plan menus unless he has something to aim for, and this is the easiest way I could think of to do that. We have sandwich night, soup night, 2 meatless nights, crockpot night and then 2 blanks to be used for whatever we feel like having. Obviously these aren't set in stone and will probably change from time to time, but it gives us something to shoot for.

Monday: turkey and roast beef panini sandwiches, oven-baked sweet potato fries, salad

Tuesday: turkey white bean chili, homemade salsa, jalapeno corn bread

Wednesday: pinto beans and rice, homemade salsa, leftover jalapeno corn bread

Thursday: eggplant and tomato sauce with pasta, french bread, wilted spinach with garlic

Friday: creamy mexican chicken (recipe will be changed to make it lighter), rice, green beans

Saturday: black bean salad with grilled chicken

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm still here

We've been eating a buttload of take-out the past week or so. My mom was in town from Minnesota and my son had his 4th birthday party (hello, my name is over-planner). I'm a glutton for punishment apparently and ended up really overextending myself. I'm exhausted from staying up late so many nights sewing, baking and preparing. In the end, it was all worth it. He had an absolutely adorable birthday party that he just adored. I sewed him a pennant style birthday banner and can't wait to make more.


His party had a Candy Land theme. This was the invitation.


In true Candy Land fashion...


His cake. What a disaster! It was so humid! The buttercream didn't want to crust and the fondant didn't want to set. Top tier was an all-natural, strawberry cake with a strawberry buttercream. Bottom tier was a homemade vanilla funfetti cake with vanilla buttercream. Both were very well received!




It was a hot day! All the kids were sweaty from jumping in the fun jump.


Even the heat didn't stop him from getting excited about the fun new toys!


My youngest had a blast picking up forgotten candy and finishing it off. His favorite were the ring pops -- sweet pacifiers!

I'll have a fresh new recipe, perfect for the Summer's heat up shortly! Don't miss it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Menu Plan...Tuesday



With all the hustle and bustle preparing for my son's 4th birthday, I completely forgot about Menu Plan Monday yesterday. My mom is also coming into town to stay with us for a few days for his birthday, so I have double the stress.

Today is his actual birthday, and I'm sitting amongst a sea of wrapping paper and packaging. Every gift came with the proclamation "I always wanted that!" I have a feeling we're going to be watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles like 400thousand times today.



Monday: carnitas tacos, homemade salsa, black beans and rice

Tuesday: Incredible Pizza Company for C1's birthday

Wednesday: spaghetti and meatball soup (carryover from last week)

Thursday: grilled chicken and pesto pasta, salad

Friday: dinner out at Blue Dog Cafe (my mom's favorite restaurant down here)

I hope everyone has a fantastic week. I'm going to be busy busy until Saturday with C1's party, but I am trying to get new things up as I make them. I have a really great buffalo chicken wrap and some parmesan garlic pull-apart rolls that are to die for. Stay tuned!

As always, find more great menu plans at Org Junkie!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spicy Sausage and Potato Soup



My son really loves to cook. A few months ago, I bought him a kids cookbook. It's great except for the fact that most of the non-sweet foods are pretty bland...I guess that is why the recipes are considered kid food. I had a bunch of red-skinned potatoes leftover that needed to be used or thrown. I decided to make the potato soup in the kids cookbook. The picture in the book looked...white...and rather tasteless. I decided to jazz it up a bit, but still keep the recipe simple so he could help. My additions were simple but made for a really great, fast soup.

If you don't have an immersion blender, you can pour half the soup into a blender and then add it back to the pot. Be very careful when doing this. Hot liquids tend to explode out of the blender. Trust me on this. I would rather move than scrape black bean soup off of the ceiling again.

As for the sausage in the recipe, you're free to use what you wish. I used a pre-cooked habanero and monterey jack chicken sausage, but you could use a regular smoked sausage or even italian sausage. I would be interested to try vegetarian sausage crumbles as well.


Spicy Sausage and Potato Soup
serves 6

2 links sausage (if using uncooked sausage, remove from casing), chopped
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
3 shakes hot sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup milk
1 T. butter
green onions and parsley to garnish

In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown the sausage. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, garlic, chicken stock, hot sauce and black pepper. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

When potatoes are tender, remove from heat. Run an immersion blender through it a few times until it is smooth, but still pretty chunky. You just want to make it kind of creamy. Add the milk and butter, stir until butter is melted. Serve with green onions and chopped parsley.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - June 7



Our week went very much not as planned last week so I have a lot of rollover meals plus a few new ones. I've been trying to rebudget our household, so I'm trying to see how small I can make our food budget. To save on food costs, I'm planning many more meatless meals and meals that can be stretched into one or two more meals.

My son is turning 4 in less than two weeks and I think I might have overextended myself just a smidge with all of the things I've planned for it. I need to get his birthday banner finished! Our meals this week reflect just how little time I have until his party.

Monday: dinner out to celebrate my son's birthday with his grandmother.

Tuesday: spinach and ricotta stuffed crespelles, salad and french bread

Wednesday: slow cooker pinto beans and sausage, brown rice, garden fresh green beans

Thursday: stuffed bell peppers, garden fresh cucumber and tomato salad

Friday: spaghetti and meatball soup, garlic and parmesan pull-apart bread

Have a fantastic week! Enjoy that Summer heat!

For more great recipes, visit OrgJunkie.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Adobo Chicken Salad



This is my go-to salad during the Summer. It's so light and crunchy, but the flavors really pack a fiery punch. The chicken is mildly spicy but the cool salad really balances it out and cools it down. The fruit in the salad keeps it refreshing. I have all kinds of ideas for this salad, including adding grilled peaches or nectarines. yum!

The chicken is best marinated for a full 24 hours, but in a pinch just an hour or two will do.
 

Adobo Chicken Salad
Serves 4 as a main course

For the marinade:
Combine in food processor and process until smooth:

3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. chipotle chili powder
2 T. dark brown sugar
3 T. kosher salt
3 T. freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
6 T. orange juice
2 T. fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
4 dashes hot sauce
2 T. olive oil

Pour over chicken breasts in a large, resealable bag and refrigerate until ready to use.

For salad:

1 lb. chicken breasts, marinated in above marinade and grilled
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 15 oz. can black beans (optional)
1 avocado, diced
1 mango, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 recipe poblano-cilantro dressing 

Grill chicken, cover and let rest 10 minutes. slice thin.

Combine chopped romaine with bell pepper, black beans, avocado, mango and cherry tomatoes. Toss until thoroughly mixed.

Top with chicken and dressing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Strawberry Sorbet



If this doesn't just define Summer, then I don't know what does. It's so refreshing and the berries are so perfectly ripe. It is so much healthier than ice cream because it is essentially just fruit and a bit of natural sweetener, yet kids gobble it up. The bright red color is beautiful. This could go easily from a backyard BBQ to a fancy dinner party with just a small change in presentation.

You could make this without an ice cream maker, but I find that sorbets made by just blending the fruit and then freezing it are more granular than ones made with ice cream makers. You make the call. I, for one, know that my ice cream reservoir will remain in the freezer this summer just for this sorbet.


Strawberry Sorbet

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and chopped (preferably organic)
1/2 cup organic agave nectar
1 T. fresh lime juice

Make sure the ice cream reservoir is completely frozen.

Hull your berries and roughly chop them. Add the berries, along with the agave nectar and lime juice to a blender. Blend thoroughly until smooth.

Add the berry puree to the ice cream reservoir and process according to the manufacturers instructions. When finished, put in the freezer for an hour or two to continue firming.

To make without an ice cream maker:
Blend berries as instructed with agave nectar and lime juice. Place in a freezer safe, plastic or glass container and freeze until firm, stirring periodically.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Creamy Poblano-Cilantro Dressing

This dressing is so amazing. It's cool and crisp with a kick from the poblanos. It's really great on salad, and also good with cut vegetables as a dip. I grow extra cilantro in the garden so I can make it a lot. It is so incredibly simple and comes together in minutes.



I picked up this little dressing blender after I got my AeroGarden. It's the absolute best gadget ever. seriously. Add your dressing ingredients, hit button, eat. 

Creamy Poblano-Cilantro Dressing

Combine in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth:
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and quartered
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise (not miracle whip)
2 pinches of sugar

Use as desired....and you desire the adobo chicken salad I'm posting next!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spinach, Caramelized Onion and Feta Quiche



I found this recipe in an old issue of Cooking Light. The original version used canned breadstick dough for the crust and the filling rested on a bed of hashbrown potatoes. It seemed a little heavy for a mid-day lunch, so I doctored it up a bit. I also replaced the breadstick crust with a pie dough crust because I'm a traditionalist.

The outcome was so savory and yummy. My husband and  kids split 4 pieces between them....and I wonder why I can't keep food in the house.

Spinach, Caramelized Onion and Feta Quiche
adapted from Cooking Light
serves 6

1 T. butter
2 onions, halved and sliced thin
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
3 oz. feta cheese crumbles
2 large eggs
3 large egg whites
1 cup fat-free milk
1 prepared pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll pie crust and line a pie plate. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

In the meantime, melt 1 T. of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add onions, salt and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently until golden - about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine whole eggs, egg whites, milk, drained spinach, feta and caramelized onions. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake for 30-40 minutes or until egg is set in center. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Frozen Fruit Cups



These are the absolute best. They are a perfect way to cool off on a hot, Summer afternoon. They are healthy, yummy, all-natural and devoid of any extra sweeteners. My kids love them as is and I like to use them as a smoothie starter with a dash of plain, fat free yogurt for a fast breakfast.

The little bowls are made by Nuby. I found them at Big Lots for $3.00 for a 6-pack. You could also use the little tiny 8-ounce Gladware containers, but I could never find them. These work well enough. Be creative in the container you put them in. Ice cube containers would make mini cups. Dixie cups would work, but wouldn't be reusable.


Frozen Fruit Cups
adapted from Once A Month Mom

1/2 can frozen 100% pineapple juice concentrate
1/2 can frozen 100% orange juice concentrate
2.5 cans water
1 cup blueberries (frozen are fine)
1 cup raspberries (frozen are fine)
1 cups strawberries, chopped
2 bananas, sliced
1 14.5 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained

Mix juice concentrates with water and mix until dissolved. Add fruit and stir to mix. Fill cups, cover and freeze. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or microwave for 20 seconds before serving to make it easier to eat.

To use as a smoothie starter:
Add 1 cup to blender along with 1/4 cup yogurt (I like fat free plain, but flavored would work as well). Add a touch of juice or water to get it moving and blend until smooth.
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