Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu 2-28

We absolutely loved the lasagna soup. The cheeses (hidden underneath the soup) are what really make it taste like a good lasagna.
There is something so delicious and satisfying about a good taco. I think it's how all the ingredients are together and wrapped up leaving no choice but for the flavors to mix together. And it's a relatively easy meal too!
The Bunsteads were almost a meal gone wrong. I had it all spread on the bread when I realized I had forgotten to put the cheese in! Back into the bowl it all went. It was an easy mistake to fix and they turned out great.
The Apple Onion Cider Chicken turned out great. I changed a few things as I was making it but it all came together fine. My husband and I actually thought it was better the next day, after the chicken had soaked in the delicious sauce.
We have found the winning combination for Burrito Pizza! A few little changes here and there gave us a wonderful pizza.
I got a cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, from the library this week and tried a few recipes from it. The first was Cranberry Orange Muffins. I didn't have orange juice so I substituted pineapple juice which worked great. These also were better the longer they sat. I'm definitely going to keep this recipe and try it again.
From the same cookbook I also tried Cinnamon Swirl cookies. These too were better the next day. However, they will not be making another appearance in our home. It was a fun recipe to try but for the amount of work and time put into them the results were not spectacular enough.

Finally, a week where I didn't have a hard time making the menu. It's so easy to get discouraged sometimes about trying to get things to work but then you have a week where it falls into place so easily and you are completely rejuvenated!
  • Monday: Soup Night! Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: I love chicken and wild rice soup but have yet to find a go-to recipe. Maybe this one will be it?
  • Tuesday: Meatballs with Sweet and Tangy Sauce: I'm not sure which Meatball recipe I'm going to use yet. The sauce is a recipe from my mom.
  • Wednesday: Quesadillas: I'm hoping to either find a recipe or come up with a delicious combination that uses beans but not meat. I don't have tortillas right now and instead of making a special trip to Aldi I'm going to try to make my own using this recipe.
  • Thursday: Chicken Nuggets: This was my husband's request for this week. I'm not 100% sure what type of breading I'm going to use.
  • Friday: Pizza Night! Pepperoni Pizza: My husband will add black and green olives and our daughter and I will add tomatoes.
  • Saturday Brunch: German Apple Pancakes: I got a great deal on apples last week and these look great.
  • Sunday: Leftovers
Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cream Cheese Pasta

This recipe is a favorite of the entire family. It has pasta, cheeses, sour cream and sauce--what's not to love?
This is an easy meal to put together. The hamburger can be cooked well ahead of time or the entire dish can be assembled and then refrigerated or frozen until ready to use. Meals like that can be lifesavers sometimes!

Cream Cheese Pasta
 Print Recipe
Yields: 6-8 servings

1 lb hamburger
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 can pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1 lb pasta, cooked (I typically use rotini.)

   1.  Brown hamburger until no longer pink.
   2.  Using a mixer with a wire whisk, mix cream cheese, sour cream and Italian seasoning. Add pasta sauce and stir by hand. Add hamburger and 1 cup shredded cheese; stir until combined. Add pasta; mix.
   3.  Pour mixture in a glass 9x13 pan; sprinkle remaining shredded cheese on top.
   4.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until warmed through.
Source: For the Mommas

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza is my favorite! My failed search for a good one is what started my ventures into homemade pizza. Now we rarely have pizza that isn't homemade. I'd say we're pretty glad I couldn't find a satisfactory one!
I like to buy chunk pineapple and then use the food processor to shred it. I also try to precook the chicken, either earlier in the week or the day. It makes it really easy to put this pizza together. We use homemade dough but store bought is fine as well. We've found the key to a great pizza is to preheat the oven for a longer time than normal.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
 Print Recipe
Yields: 4 servings

pizza dough
1/2 can chunk pineapple, shredded
1 large chicken breast, cooked and diced
BBQ sauce
~1 cup shredded cheese

   1.  Preheat oven to 450 (or as pizza dough package recommends).
   2.  Roll out dough to fit pan. Spread BBQ sauce over dough, leaving the edges clean. Evenly place chicken and pineapple across dough. Cover with cheese.
   3.  Bake 12 minutes, broiling 1-2 minutes at end, if necessary. Let pizza sit 2 minutes before cutting.
This is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eggs in Rolls

We wanted to try something new for Saturday brunch. I was looking for a recipe that was different but not too crazy. I knew I had found it when I saw this. It was in a cookbook that doesn't have pictures for everything so I had to read through it and imagine what it would be like. I was intrigued and knew immediately which rolls I was going to use. Walmart always has these awesome rolls on the clearance rack that we love and they worked perfectly.
These rolls are going to be a great addition to our brunch rotation. All the flavors melded so well. It was amazing how the bread and egg complemented each other in every bite. This is definitely a keeper!

Eggs in Rolls
 Print Recipe
Yields: 3 servings

3 rolls
2 T butter, melted
4 eggs, separated
1/8 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
dash pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

   1.  Preheat oven to 425. Hollow out rolls, leaving a 1/2 inch wall. Place rolls on a cookie sheet. Brush insides of rolls with melted butter.
   2.  Mix egg yolks, 2 egg whites, milk, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and bacon. Cook in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat until just under done. Spoon eggs into rolls.
   3.  Beat remaining 2 egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff. Spoon over cooked egg mixture. Bake at 425 until golden, about 8 minutes.
Adapted from: Betty Crocker 1988 Cookbook

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Toasted Sesame Chicken

This recipe came to our family thanks to my husband. He wanted to find a recipe for Sesame Chicken, one of his favorite Chinese foods. One day last spring he came home early from work, took over the kitchen and made this dish. We enjoyed it, tweaked it and now it's a regular for us.
It looks like there are a lot of ingredients for this recipe. However, many of them are listed twice because you use them at two different points in the recipe. Within the list of ingredients I separated it into Chicken Coating and Sauce. The original recipe calls for the sesame seeds to be added before serving but I don't care for as many seeds as my husband does so we each just add our own.

Toasted Sesame Chicken
 Print Recipe
Yields: 4 servings

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
Chicken Coating
2 T flour
2 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 T soy sauce
1 T dry sherry
2 T water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 dash sesame oil
1 lb chicken breast, cubed
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup white sugar
2 T white vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 T sesame seeds
   1.  Cook rice: bring rice and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, stir once, cover and simmer for 35-45 minutes.
   2.  In a medium bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder. Add soy sauce, dry sherry, water, vegetable oil and sesame oil; stir until smooth. Stir in chicken until coated; refrigerate for 20 minutes.
   3.  After 10 minutes, bring chicken broth, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili powder and garlic powder to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into boiling sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally.
   4.  Once sauce is simmering, cook chicken in a lightly oiled skillet until no longer pink. Coat chicken with sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve over rice.
This is linked to Tasty Tuesday and Good Cheap Eats.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu 2-21

We tried homemade Tomato Soup for the first time on Monday. While it was tasty, it will not be a repeated meal here. Someday I would like to try making another variation of homemade tomato soup. It was a fun recipe to make, as I had never roasted tomatoes or used my blender for something like that. Our daughter enjoyed watching the blender in action as well.
The Cream Cheese Rigatoni, once again, did not disappoint. Time and again this is a favorite in our house. Our daughter especially loves this dish.
Wednesday was the first time I personally made the Sesame Chicken. We've had it quite a few times but my husband has always made it. I was pleased with how easy it was to make.
Thursday night we went to Olive Garden for our Belated Valentine's Day. I got my usual Cheese Ravioli but my husband tried something new, Shrimp & Crab Tortelli Romana, which he really enjoyed.

Pizza night this week was BBQ Chicken, probably my favorite kind of pizza. Delicious!
The experiment of Eggs in Rolls for brunch was a tremendous success. They turned out great and we all enjoyed them.
The recipes for Cream Cheese Rigatoni, Sesame Chicken, BBQ Chicken Pizza and Eggs in Rolls will be coming this week.

I was having a hard time putting together this week's menu. It just wasn't coming easily for me. Thankfully, all of a sudden, things just fell into place and now we have a menu that sounds pretty good.
  • Monday: Soup Night! Lasagna Soup: This looks delicious and hearty. I'm going to make a few substitutions based on what I have on hand.
  • Tuesday: Tacos: We have tortillas that need to be used and meat that's cooked and waiting so tacos seemed like a good choice. I'm missing some spices to make my own taco seasoning so we'll be using the packaged stuff.
  • Wednesday: Bunsteads: This is a recipe from my grandma's church cookbook that we grew up with. Now, I've introduced it to my husband and daughter and they both love it as well.
  • Thursday: Apple Onion Cider Chicken with some sort of Sweet Potato: I love apples and onions together and can't wait to try this. For the sweet potatoes-well, sad to say, I've never used a raw sweet potato before but that will be changing this week. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do yet though.
  • Friday: Pizza Night! Burrito Pizza: We've had this once before and enjoyed it but have some tweaks to try this time.
  • Saturday Brunch: Pancakes: It's time for the good ole standby.
  • Sunday: Leftovers
Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

Friday, February 18, 2011


When we registered for wedding gifts for some reason we did not register for a waffle maker. We eventually realized the silliness of that decision so last winter we finally bought one. That purchase was definitely well worth it because we love waffles!
The night before we first made waffles we watched Alton Brown's Good Eats episode about waffles. We learned some tips from that and got an excellent recipe. One time, I didn't have whole wheat flour like the recipe calls for and instead only used all purpose flour. Big mistake--the waffles were missing the crispness that we were used to. Lesson learned: use whole wheat flour!
Also, if you scroll down and look at the picture at the bottom of the post you'll see that my daughter was very anxious to get her hands on some waffles. :)

 Print Recipe
Yields: 8-9 waffles

1 T white vinegar
1 T lemon juice
~2 cups milk
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
4 T melted butter

   1.  Put vinegar and lemon juice in a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill with milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
   2.  While milk is resting mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
   3.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs then add melted butter. Whisk in milk; beat smooth.
   4.  Add wet ingredients to dry and fold gently with a spatula, leaving lumps. Let rest for 5 minutes.
   5.  While batter is resting, preheat waffle iron. Spray with cooking spray. Pour ~1/2 cup batter onto hot waffle iron; cook until done.
   To reheat frozen waffles: Preheat oven to 250. Put waffles on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Cook 2-3 minutes; flip and cook 2 minutes longer.
Source: Food Network

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cheesy Broccoli Pockets

When my husband heard what we were having for dinner and that there was no meat in it, he was a little skeptical. Thankfully he came around since our daughter and I really enjoyed this. She kept asking for more, which I was happy to comply with since she usually doesn't care for broccoli. That was definitely an unexpected benefit from this recipe-getting her to eat broccoli!
I used homemade pizza dough but using the tube stuff would be fine as well. Even with making the dough this recipe came together really easily. I can definitely see using this recipe for company because it looks more impressive than the work you need to put into it. :) Also, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe making small ones, more of a couple of bites size, would be a fun idea also. Hmmm...

Cheesy Broccoli Pockets
 Print Recipe
Yields: 4 pockets

1/2 cup chopped broccoli and cauliflower (from a bag of frozen CA blend vegetables)
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cheese
pizza dough (not pictured)

   1.  Preheat oven to 450.
   2.  Put half of the bag of CA blend vegetables in a microwavable bowl; remove carrots. Microwave broccoli and cauliflower for 45 seconds. Place in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Return to bowl.
   3.  Add green pepper, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, shredded cheese, salt and pepper and stir together.
   4.  Roll pizza dough into a rectangle; divide into four portions. Spread 1/4 of the broccoli mixture on one half of each portion. Fold the other half over mixture; pinch edges to seal.
   5.  Transfer pockets to a baking sheet; bake 10-12 minutes or until brown.

Adapted from: Good Housekeeping

This is linked to URS.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Apple Bacon Burgers

My husband took the initiative on this meal. We decided to incorporate bacon, apples and cheese into the hamburger. He figured out the proportions as he mixed it and formed the patties. The burgers turned out great! The smokiness of the bacon combined with the slight crispness of the apples played off each other well. We topped our burgers with cheese and bbq sauce.

Apple Bacon Burgers
 Print Recipe
Yields: 4 burgers

1 lb hamburger
3 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
1 small apple, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheese
sliced cheese
bbq sauce

   1.  In a medium bowl mix hamburger, bacon, apple and shredded cheese just until combined.
   2.  Form into four patties, with a slight indent in the middle of each.
   3.  Grill on preheated grill, 3-4 minutes per side or until no longer pink.
   4.  Place on bun and top with sliced cheese and bbq sauce.

This is linked to Tasty Tuesday, Good Cheap Eats and URS.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu 2-14

Monday night I did not feel on my A game in the kitchen so I was less than optimistic about how dinner would turn out. Thankfully, it wasn't a complete flop! We decided that the Chicken Pot Pie Soup was good but there's room for improvement so we'll try it again sometime. (It doesn't make for a great picture as everything except the green beans kept sinking to the bottom.)
I thought it was neat to see the different ways the Fancy Dinner Rolls baked. If I make them again I think I'll be able to make a more consistent, pretty roll. My husband isn't sure he's sold on the mildly sweet breads though so I might just try the technique with a different recipe.
The Apple Bacon Hamburgers were wonderful! My husband took charge of this meal and mixed up the burgers for me, making it his own recipe. He did a wonderful job! Everything went together really well.
Our Broccoli Three Cheese Pockets were quite a bit different than the original. I took the idea from the recipe but then modified it to use what I had. We really liked how they turned out. Our daughter was especially estatic about them.
While the Chicken Fajitas were good, I feel that there's still room for improvement. I think part of the problem is my proportion of chicken to onions and peppers was a little off but I'm going to try to get it right sometime in the future!
However, as always, the pizza was superb. Well, actually, we did have a slight difficulty in that my half of the pizza refused to come off the pan. I have no idea what happened as I put cornmeal down as is normal. Thankfully, it didn't affect the taste. This time I also added tomatoes and green peppers to the pepperoni.
For the time being, French Toast is our favorite brunch item. This week I used homemade Cinnamon Bread which really tops it off!

The recipes for Apple Bacon Burgers and Cheesy Broccoli Pockets will be coming this week along with the Waffles from last weekend.

This week I put together the menu using only items from the pantry with the exception of rolls needed for Saturday. I love it when that happens!
  • Monday: Soup Night! Tomato Soup: My husband is not the biggest fan of tomatoes but is interested to see how this turns out. We will, of course, be having Grilled Cheese with it.
  • Tuesday: Cream Cheese Rigatoni: We've had this many times and love it every time.
  • Wednesday: Sesame Chicken: My husband found this recipe last year (not sure where) and it has become a favorite in our house.
  • Thursday: We're celebrating a belated Valentine's Day and going to Olive Garden-my favorite!
  • Friday: Pizza Night! BBQ Chicken: Tasty, tasty!
  • Saturday Brunch: Eggs in Rolls: It's probably going to be more work than normal for brunch but it sounds like a fun idea.
  • Sunday: Leftovers
Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pizza Sauce

Friday nights are pizza night around here. We love Fridays! We usually have homemade pizza but occassionaly do throw in a frozen pizza because those still have a place. :) There is, however, just something so wonderful about a homemade pizza complete with homemade dough and sauce.
This was the first and last pizza sauce I attempted. Sure, it wasn't perfect the first time but it only took a few little tweaks until I had this. It is a mildly sweet sauce but not overpowering. Though it does have quite a few ingredients it does not take long to put it together. I usually try to make it in the morning and then keep it in the fridge. I attempt to remember to stir it a couple of times throughout the day but even when I forget the sauce still tastes great!

Pizza Sauce
 Print Recipe
Yields: Sauce for 1 large pizza 

1 6 oz can tomato paste
6 oz water (use the tomato paste can)
1 T sugar
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (This does give a bit of a kick to the sauce!)
2 T Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp parsley

   1.  Empty can of tomato paste in a small bowl. Slowly add water while stirring.
   2.  Add seasonings and mix well.
   3.  Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
Adapted from: Our Best Bites

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Orange Chicken

My husband loves Asian food. The first time I made this recipe he liked it but missed the thick sauciness found in many Asian dishes he enjoys. Once I changed the recipe to produce that desired sauce he decided he approves of this dish.
I appreciate how easily this dish comes together. In an effort to make dinner time easier I typically mix the sauce and cook the chicken earlier in the day. With that done there is very little left to do besides putting things together. Sounds great to me!

Orange Chicken
 Print Recipe
Yields: 4 servings

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 can mandarin oranges
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 T soy sauce
3 T teriyaki sauce
2 chicken breasts, cut in bite size pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 T cornstarch
   1.  In a medium sauce pan, bring water and rice to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer 35-40 minutes.
   2.  In a small bowl, combine chicken broth, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and juice from oranges.
   3.  While rice is cooking, warm olive oil in a large skillet. Cook chicken until no longer pink.
   4.  Add sauce and celery to skillet. Cook for 5 minutes. Add cornstarch and bring to a boil; reduce to simmer until thickened. Add oranges; warm for 1-2 minutes. Serve over rice.
Adapted from: Taste of Home

This is linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Broccoli Ham Pasta

When I was looking at this recipe I thought, "Well, it's pretty simple, just pasta, meat and veggies but that's always good." This time was no different. We all loved this dish, especially my one year old who knew she wanted more!
I can't personally speak about the ease of making this as my husband made dinner this night. (Wonderful!) However, he did tell me it was simple to make and he didn't have any problems. He even made an addition to the recipe and shredded colby jack cheese over the whole dish when it was done. It was a wonderful finishing touch!

Broccoli Ham Pasta
 Print Recipe
Yields: 6 servings

1 pound short cut pasta
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 T butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup cooked ham, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded colby jack

   1.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli for last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain and return to pot.
   2.  While pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion and saute until softened, about 3 minutes.
   3.  Add ham and cook 2 minutes longer. Stir in cream; simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes.
   4.  Pour cream mixture over pasta. Add Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded colby jack.
Source: All You

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I can't recall where we first came across this recipe but we sure are glad we found it. It makes such a filling and delicious soup. It's a wonderful crock pot recipe which some good ingredients. It tends to be my go-to soup as everything is a standard pantry ingredient.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
 Print Recipe
Yields: 5-6 servings

2 chicken breasts
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can beans-kidney or pinto, drained and rinsed
1 cup salsa
1 cup corn
shredded cheese
tortilla chips

   1.  Place chicken, tomatoes, beans and salsa in a crock pot. Cook on low 4-5 hours.
   2.  Thirty-45 minutes before serving, remove chicken breasts and either shred or dice. Add corn. Cook for at least 30 minutes longer.
   3.  Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.