Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Step Away From Food: Bathroom Remodel 2

It should be noted for posterity that not a single contractor came to my house today.

- The plumber has a guy out sick and is behind (I really am trying to be nice and not hope he has swine flu)
- The demolition guys can't finish until the plumber caps the sink/shower
- The electrician can't come in until the plumber caps the sink/shower and the demo guys get rid of the sink/tub
- And most importantly...I cannot SHOWER until the plumber comes and hooks up our temporary shower in the basement.

I've become amazing adept at showering with a bucket of water and my loofah.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Step Away From Food: Bathroom Remodel

For those wondering what this looks like (*wave* hi beth *wave*) here is "before" (aka when we moved in Oct 2008) and day 1 of bathroom remodel.
Yes, yes I did shower out of my kitchen sink this evening. Thanks for asking.

Menu Mondays

I love having DH make our meats on the grill. To hell with those who say it'll give me cancer! :P
Saturday: We had friends over -- we provided german potato salad, hot dogs (with fixin's for chili dogs), hamburgers (lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup, mustard), and friends brought chips, drinks, and yummy dessert!
Sunday: no cooking -- out enjoying the weather, and picking up supplies in anticipation of my bathroom demolition monday morning. eek!
Monday: steak on the grill, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, rice pilaf
Tuesday: leftovers from the weekend grill-a-thon
Wednesday: oil and vinegar marinated chicken on the grill, potatoes (or potato salad, if we're still eating it by then), green beans
Thursday: spaghetti with meat sauce, salads
Friday: leftovers

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Ice Cream" Cone Party Favor

Aren't these adorable?? My mom had them for our Easter dinner, so I thought I'd share them with you. She purchased them from a woman who makes and sells them as little favors.

I don't have any instructions on how it's put together, but we dissected one and came up with the following:

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, or, in the microwave.

Dip a large marshmallow into the chocolate, and then place in a small, child-sized ice cream cone, chocolate side down (probably have to go to a restaurant supply for the cones..they're pretty small?). This will keep the marshmallo adhered to the cone once it's dry. Then, gently take your marshmallow that's uncoated, and coat with chocolate. Either by dipping, or drizzling over. Add sprinkles, and let harden.


The pen is to give you an idea of size...hope it works!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Mondays

DH (finally!) got a grill this weekend, so in honor of him and his excitement for grilling, I've incorporated several 'grill nights' into our menu this week.

Sunday: lemon coconut bread for my co-workers, bread for DH's lunches this week, and a strawberry cream dessert DH requested
Monday: steak (on the grill!), cauliflower with cheese sauce, rice pilaf
Tuesday: spaghetti with meat sauce, salad
Wednesday: spicy honey chicken (grill?), herbed baby red potatoes, green beans
Thursday: burgers (grill?), waffle fries, baked beans
Friday: finishing up the inevitable pile of leftovers from the week

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trying new sauces...

My own homemade spaghetti sauce is good, but, DH isn't the biggest fan of it. I thought it'd be fun to choose a few from the blogs I read, and try them.

The first one I made was from smitten kitchen. I doubled her recipe, because she warned it didn't make a lot....but somehow ended up with 3 containers full of sauce.

So luckily, we liked this one -- because we'll be eating it several times!

I changed it from a spaghetti-and-meatballs recipe, to just a meat sauce recipe. I love meatballs, but sometimes it's just easier when the meat's in the sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 lb 80% lean ground beef (a little fat makes the sauce taste better)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
3 tsp minced garlic
2 pinches red pepper flake
1 cup good red wine (I used some tomato sauce because i dont like to cook with wine)
29 oz. can pureed tomatoes
29 oz. can chopped or diced tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

- Brown beef in large stockpot; remove to bowl and set aside
- In same stockpot, heat olive oil, then add onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5-10 minutes
- Add the garlic and red papper flakes and cook for 1 minute
- Add the wine (or tomato sauce), and move heat to high, scraping up all the brown bits from the meat. If using wine, cook until liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. If using tomato sauce, just turn heat back down to medium and continue
- Stir in tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper
- Simmer sauce as long as you like...at least 30 minutes. I simmered it for an hour.


These "enchiladas" have been floating around on a lot of the blogs I read, and EVERYONE has enjoyed them!

We gave them a shot as well, and found them to be delicious. They reeeeeeeeeally aren't enchiladas...I'm not sure they have a single authentic ingredient...but they're still amazing.

This recipe also makes a lot more food than it looks. We had ben-chiladas for dinner three times, and poor DH ate some for lunches as well! We enjoyed them plain the first night, but found on subsequent re-heating nights that the filling kind of congeals...so we added some canned enchilada sauce to our leftovers and it was delicious all over again!

To reheat, Annie recommends 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes


4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. reduced fat sour cream
8 oz. ranch salad dressing
flour tortillas (10-15)
jar of salsa (i used fresh)
shredded mexican cheese blend (as much as you want...anywhere from 2-4 cups!)

- Cook chicken breasts by preferred method, set aside to cool. When cool, shred or cube chicken (I skipped this step by baking my chicken and shredding it a few days before I made them)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine half the sour cream, and half the ranch dressing
- In a small bowl, combine the rest of the sour cream and the rest of the ranch dressing
- Stir both until well combined, then add shredded or cubed chicken to the large mixing bowl and mix well
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and grease a 9"x13" pan (and possibly another, smaller pan if needed -- it was needed for us)
- Take 1 tortilla and top with a little less than 1 tbsp of the sauce from the small bowl; spreading over the tortillas in an even layer
- Add some of the chicken mixture to the center of the tortilla, and top with salsa and cheese to taste
- Roll up the tortilla and place it seam-side down in your prepared baking dish
- Repeat until all ingredients are used up (Mine made 12 bursting-at-the-seams enchiladas on 10" tortillas with 4 chicken breasts)
- Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (30 for a crispier tortilla)
- Allow to cool a few minutes before serving

Grilled Baby Red Potatoes with Herbs

This is pretty simple, but so delicious....

Grilled Baby Red Potatoes with Herbs

8 baby red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4" to 1/2" slices
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tbsp coarsly chopped fresh parsley

- In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, pepper, and garlic salt
- Spray a sheet of tin foil with olive oil or cooking spray, and spread the potatoes into thin layers (2-3 potatoes thick)
- Add any additional seasonings you enjoy, and fold up the tin foil, making a little packet on all sides
- Grill over medium heat, carefully flipping over once
- Cook for about 15-20 minutes
- Remove from grill and add fresh parsley before serving

Lemon Coconut Bread

I thought this combination sounded heavenly, so I baked up two loaves of this over the weekend. I took one into my co-workers....I may keep the other one!

Lemon Coconut Bread

*Note: This bread is delicious on it's own, but toasted and slathered with butter it is a-ma-z-i-n-g!
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk (lowfat is fine)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened...it truly doesn't matter)
1/3 cup butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt
- Stir in sugar and coconut
- In a medium bowl, or large measuring cup, whisj together the eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in egg mixture
- Stir until just combined and only a few streaks of flour remain
- Add in melted butter and stir until just smooth; being careful not to overmix
- Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
- Turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing
- Makes 1 loaf

Spicy Honey Chicken

The picture above is DH's handiwork...or rather, DHGM (Dear Husband-Grill Master) as he's been requested to be called on my blog :)

I got this one from Leigh -- her recipes are always fantastic!

Since DHGM finally, FINALLY was able to buy a grill (he's so happy!), I included a lot of grill-friendly recipes in this week.

This chicken can be done inside, under the broiler, or outside, on the grill. I love those flexible recipes!
Spicy Honey Chicken

*Note: You can change the "spicy" aspect of this recipe by how much cayenne pepper you put in!)

8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (I used chicken thighs, but bone in, and some leftover boneless breasts)

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Combine the first six, 'rub' ingredients in a bowl and mix well
- Clean excess fat from chicken pieces and add pieces to bowl of spices, rubbing to coat
- Brush grill surface lightly with olive oil, and grill chicken for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through
- Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring until well combined
- Brush mixture onto chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling
- Since the glaze is sugar-based, you'l need to turn the heat down so your chicken doesn't burn; leave it on the grill a fw moments to caramelize
- You can also use these steps inside, under your broiler

Strawberry Cream Dessert

Sometimes, DH sees recipes, and brings them home to me to try. Since it's difficult to get him to tell me what he'd like me to make more of sometimes, I usually make anything he brings home as a request.

This was one of his requests, taken from a local 'free' newspaper called The Merchandiser. All the while I was making it, it sort of reminded me of my strawberry pretzel salad...I guess it was the use of jello and fruit.
There's a lot of 'processed' foods in this, but oh well. I'm far from a purist.

Strawberry Cream Dessert
(Local newspaper)

*Note from the recipe: This cool and elegant dessert will serve a crowd. You could use the chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos), for the crust if you'd like, but I think the golden variety is really nice.

30 Golden Vanilla Sandwich Cookies (Golden Oreos)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (6 oz.) package Strawberry Jell-O
1 3/4 cups boiling water
1 (6 oz.) can pineapple-orange juice (DH and I had a conversation that they USED to sell these 6 oz. cans of juice similarly to how they sell mango and pineapple juice in the ethnic sections nowadays. I had no luck finding these little cans, so I just bought myself a 64-oz. Dole Orange-Pineapple juice in the OJ section, and had tons left over for drinking/smoothies)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups mashed or pureed strawberries (about 3 cups if you're using whole berries)
1 (8 oz.) tub of Cool Whip, thawed
- Crush the sandwich cookies by placing in a heavy-duty plastic zip bag and pounding with a rolling pin (I would think a food process would do this much easier/faster/cleaner)
- Place crumbs in a 9"x13" glass baking dish and pour melted butter over it.
- Mix well with a fork, and press the buttered crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Set aside
- In a large bowl (seriously...use a HUGE BOWL), combine gelatin with the boiling water, and stir until the gelatin mixture completely dissolves.
- Add the pineapple-orange juice, and the cold water, and stir well. Add the strawberry puree and mix.
- Refrigerate until the mixture becomes a bit thicker (about 10-15 minutes)
- Using a wire whisk, stir the thawed Cool Whip into the mixture until smooth
- Chill in the refrigerator for another 10-20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens a bit more but is not set
- Pour over the crumb crust in the baking dish, cover, and chill for 4 hours or until set
- Dessert can also be frozen
- Serves 12-16

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Mondays

Just a quick peek at our menu this week...nothing fancy (I even have a two-nighter that revolves around canned soup. oh the horror!). We were out of town all weekend visiting my family...so this week is all about catching up.
Monday: steak (thanks dad for the omaha steaks!), broccoli, rice or pasta
Tuesday: cream of broccoli soup with chicken over waffles ("chicken and waffles")
Wednesday: eating out at The Vikings Club
Thursday: leftover chicken and waffles
Friday: homemade mac n cheese, leftover ham from easter

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tuna Ball

This is a 'different' twist on a tuna dip or spread. It's very tasty, and a little different.

It's good as a sandwich, or, on small slices of baguette, or tortilla chips (I like it best on tortilla chips)

Thanks for this one, dear co-worker-of-mine, Margaret!

Tuna Ball


1 large can of tuna, drained

1 small can of tuna, drained

1 8oz. bar of cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp tabasco sauce (can use frank's)

1 tsp minced onion

2 tbsp parsley

2 tbsp chili sauce


- In a large bowl, blend together. If desired, form into a ball for serving and refrigerate

- Serve with baguette, or tortilla chips, or anything else you'd eat with tuna!

"Primanti Bros" Style Cole Slaw

I found this copycat recipe in a file -- it's supposed to be a 'copycat' of the Pittsburgh restaurant Primanti Brothers cole slaw.

It's actually pretty close. I'd say cut back on the oil (it's a bit much) but otherwise, on a sandwich, it DEFINATELY tastes like primanti!

We served it on pulled pork this time -- very tasty!

(Sorry, no pictures..we gobbled it up!)

"Primanti Bros" Style Cole Slaw

1 head green cabbage, shredded
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons oil (don't use olive oil...the flavor would be too strong)
salt and pepper to taste

- Combine the shredded cabbage and onions in a bowl
- In a pot, dissolve the sugar into the vinegar and oil over low heat; add the salt and pepper and cool completely
- When cool, pour over the cabbage mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving

Menu Mondays

I have some updates to make, but didn't get a chance this past weekend....

Sunday: Made tuna salad for us for lunch, almond sandwich cookies for my co-workers and DH's co-workers, cooked the chicken for the Ben-chiladas, and made spaghetti sauce for Wednesday's meal
Monday: steak, broccoli, rice pilaf
Tuesday: Ben-chiladas
Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Thursday: Leftover ben-chiladas
Friday: Trip home for my mom's b-day and Easter!