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Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's for Supper? Menu 5

I love planning menus ... but some weeks, we just need comfort food. The way that this winter has been seemingly never-ending, I have enjoyed trying more "new" recipes, just to add a little bit of excitement to our week. This week, I have picked no "new" recipes (which is very unusual ... there are usually at least 2 if not 3 per week). This week, I let each member of my family pick one meal - so, without a doubt, this menu is comprised of some of the favorite meals of our family.

Meal #1: Matt
Garlicky Shrimp Scampi served over Angel Haired Pasta
Caesar Salad
Home-made Bread Sticks

Meal #2: Rick (father-in-law)
Winter's Catch - Italian Fish Fry
Rice Pilaf
Garlicky Green Beans
Honey-Wheat Bread

Meal #3: Trevor
Taco Night: Tacos for the boys and Taco Salad for the adults
Fresh Fruit

Meal #4: Nicholas
Cheeseburger Skillet (aka Home-made Hamburger Helper)
Sweet Corn

Meal #5: Annette
Chicken Rice Soup
Home-made Bread

Recent Menu Items

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Italian Parmesan Oven Fries
Savory Chicken & Wild Rice cooked in a white wine sauce served with a garden salad with strawberry chardonnay vinaigrette

Mexican Pizza

Margarita Pizza

Asian Sirloin Noodle Salad

Sensible Snacks

In our home, for my family, I really try to keep healthy and flavorful snacks around for the boys to munch on. The crisper in our refrigerator is filled with juicy apples, sweet seedless grapes, celery, and carrots. The bowl on our kitchen table is overflowing with oranges and clementines (the most requested snack by my boys).

When we have friends over, I love to cook. One of my favorite things to make is, without a doubt, appetizers. There are so many options and your imagination is the only limit that you have to face. Any main dish or dessert can be instantly transformed into an appetizer (just served in smaller quantities). Appetizers can completely transform any gathering, with just a few tasty ingredients.

A new favorite recipe to add to my perfect recipe collection is a savory chickpea hummus dip that is equally delicious with pita bread, fresh cut vegetables, and tortilla chips. I am already dreaming up new variations for hummus: Greek Hummus (adding fresh cucumber, basil, tomato, and a sprinkling of feta), sundried tomato, roasted red pepper, tomato-basil, spinach-artichoke. I think that there is no end to the flavorful variations - especially considering that you can use white beans in place of the chickpeas.

"Yummus" Dip (by Janet & Greta Podleski)
1 can garbanzo beans (which are also called chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup light sour cream
2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, process the beans until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process. Store in refrigerator. Serve with chips, pita bread, vegetables.

Happy snacking!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Layered Enchilada Crockpot Pie

I love potlucks. I love sampling the delicious "bests" that were brought to the potluck. I love gleaning new ideas - seeing new ways to prepare salads, new presentations for desserts, and finding new favorite items to add to our family's menu.

Today, our church had a potluck after our church service in the park. I brought a family favorite recipe - a wonderful, quick, flavorful meal that my family loves... and hopefully, my church family found it good as well as we brought home an empty dish.

Layered Enchilada Crockpot Pie

serves 10-12 (picture may be added at a later date)

5-6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 1/2 to 2 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pint of grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tsp cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup ketchup
2 cups salsa, divided (I used Pace Mild Picante sauce)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 bunch green onions

In a large skillet, brown the beef with onion, green pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Add seasonings and tomatoes and cook for a minute longer. Stir in 1 cup salsa and ketchup.

Spray your crockpot with non-stick spray or line with aluminum foil to avoid stuck on food. Place the first (single) layer of tortillas in the bottom of the crockpot (tearing them to make them fit, if necessary). Pile on 1/2 of the meat, some cheese, and some of the chopped green onions. Layer on another layer of tortillas, the remaining meat, more cheese and more green onions. Layer on the final layer of tortillas, the final 1 cup of salsa, more cheese and green onions.

Cook in a crockpot at low setting for 4 hours or at high setting for 2 hours, until cheese is melted and it is nice and bubbly.

** Note: I love to mix-up the ingredients I use in this versatile dish, depending on the audience I am serving.

Other ingredients I like to use:
Monterrey Jack or Pepper-Jack cheese (any cheese is good)
Sour cream
Red Peppers
Black Beans
Lime Juice (stirred into the meat, just after done cooking, before assembling the pie)
Doritos or tortilla chips, crumbled over the top

I hope your family enjoys this meal as much as our family does.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Brainstorming - Input Appreciated

So, I am planning to make a chocolate fondue this week. I was thinking of what to serve with it ~ my creativity has taken a short vacation.

My thoughts:

What else would be good? What is your favorite food to dip in chocolate fondue?

Another question:
What is your favorite type of fondue? How do you like to serve it?

All comments are appreciated!

What's For Supper? Menu 4

I love planning healthy, delicious menus for my family. This week, while mapping out the schedules, noticed just how busy of a week is ahead of us. This week's menu features simple, but flavorful suppers that minimize my time in the kitchen and maximize my time with my family.

Potluck Sunday in the Park:
Layered Enchilada Crockpot Pie
Peanut Butter-Fudge Decadence Dessert

Meal #1:
Asian Beef-Noodle Salad
Fruit Salad

Meal #2:
Savory Chicken and Rice One Pot Meal
Home-made Bread
Garlicky Green Beans

Meal #3:
Cauliflower Soup [made with chicken, wild rice, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower]
Bread Bowls
Garden Salad

Meal #4:
Mexican Pizza
Margarita Pizza
Garden Salad

Meal #5: Party Food
Hummus with pita and crudites [fresh vegetable platter]
Fondue with fresh fruit, marshmallows, and pretzels

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

May The Force Be With You ...

Boys. Some things can be completely and utterly explained by just that one word.

Boys are fantastic ~ especially my boys... not that I am biased or anything! I love how my boys are unafraid to use their imaginations. They are resourceful while they are at play.

Case in point~
Icicicles hanging from the roof of the house can be any of the below, on any given day:
1) Delicious afternoon treats for 2 little boys (Note from author - YUCK)
2) Easily shattered on concrete stairs
3) Swords used to re-inact scenes from STAR WARS

What could I write that could ever compare to these pictures?

'Nuff said! My boys and their imaginations light up my life and bring laughter to my days. I am, without a doubt, abundantly blessed!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Even Ask ...

Hi. My name is Annette, and I am a complete and utter klutz. I admit it openly ... I display this frequently. It is not everyone that can miss the top stair and flip head-over-heels down a flight of stairs and slap on a few band-aids and still make it to Baccalaureate on time or who can slip and slide down a staircase at church, breaking their tailbone - and still sing in the Praise and Worship team at church, after all ... is it? Yes, I am quite the accomplished klutz.

My latest brush with my hidden talent occurred last week. I had quite a revelation while in the kitchen. I decided that while making rice, that I could saute the onion and garlic in the rice cooker before adding the rice and the chicken broth. It worked splendidly ... and I have the scars to prove it!

After I got done making supper, I brought a beautifully garnished plate into my husband's office for him to enjoy... and then I asked him for the Silvadine. Silvadine is ointment used to treat burns. Matt was quite puzzled how I had managed to burn the top of my left foot while making supper that evening. I never did quite tell him the entire story. He is still baffled!

What happened? I told my dear husband, "Don't even ask..." But, for you - my friends, I will treat you with the rest of the story ... as a cautionary tale: When you are sauteing onion and garlic in a rice cooker - there is a significant amount of condensation on the lid. Never under any circumstances, lift the lid where that condensation can drip off and hit the top of your foot ~through heavy winter socks, I might add!

I hope that you enjoy a good laugh ... lessons learned!

Monday, February 8, 2010

What's for Supper? Menu 3

I am passionate about cooking well-balanced, healthy meals for my family. It is one way that I express my love for them. I love looking at recipes and planning menus that I think will appeal to them.

This week, I have planned 5 meals for our menu. I never assign a specific meal for a specific day of the week. I like to decide what sounds good that day, and also some meals take less prep time, and I like to save those for our busiest days.

Meal #1:
Black Bean Chicken Chili (leftovers from Super Bowl)
Quesadillas with salsa and guacamole

Meal #2:
Super Sub Sandwiches
Mozzarella and Basil Pasta Salad
Garden Salad

Meal #3:
Lemon-Infused Tilapia
Rice Pilaf
Garlicky Green Beans

Meal #4:
Baked Ziti with Zesty Marinara
Parmesan Sticks
Garden Salad

Meal #5:
Chicken Rice Soup
Honey-Wheat Bread

Enjoy this wintry winter week's forecast ... or at least the savory, warm menu plan that I posted.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Super Bowl Menu

Super. Bowl. Sunday. Three of my husband's favorite words. Why? Interesting question... It could be because my dear husband loves to host parties. He is such a social guy ~ and just loves to have people over to our home and entertain them. Another reason is that he genuinely loves the commercials that accompany the annual Super Bowl game. He sits back and emits the most wonderful chuckles as he soaks in the creative genius that the advertising world has to offer. My final reason that I believe that my husband loves the Super Bowl is the food that accompanies our annual event. We have had Cajun Deep Fried turkeys, "Soup"er Bowl menu themes, and various others. When Matt starts to plan the event, his first question always is, "Honey, what are you making?"

So ... I have known (for the most part) what our menu was going to be for this year's event. We are having just a very small party this year (due to the flooding of our basement ... again). I am focusing on a simple menu that has a lot of flavor.

Super Bowl Menu
1) Black Bean Chicken Chili ~ This chili is good all by itself ... or, you can always top it with Fritos, Monterrey Jack cheese, green onions, sour cream, avocado, fresh tomatoes, (the list could go on ...)
2) Home-made Winter Salsa (courtesy of The Pioneer Woman) with tortilla chips (It is winter salsa because I can use canned tomatoes to make it!)
3) Spinach-Artichoke Dip served with vegetables and crackers.
4) Garlicky French Loaf
5) Best Brownies (in honor of my brother-in-law's birthday ... they are his favorite. I will make a double batch. One for his birthday party tomorrow & one for our party).

Hope you all enjoy the game and have a super safe, Super Bowl!