Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

So I've been missing.  Or so it feels like it's been forever since I posted.  To me that's how it feels.  I will be back to my regular posting soon but we were busy preparing for and then taking a camping trip.  More on that later.  Now that we are back we have begun planning our first ever garden.  I really hope that it works out because I have tried multiple times to plant herbs indoors and they always die.....  Really I don't know what I'm doing wrong.  I plant them and water them just like the packaging says and they sprout and are beautiful for about 2 weeks and then begin to shrivel and die.  Now that we are settled back in I desperately need to bake bread, clean the house and do some laundry and get our menu plan put together for April, which shouldn't be too hard since we ended up not using several of our other planned meals. 

OK off to see how productive I can be.  So far I've made mini muffins, loaded and have the dishwahser running, and have some strawberries simmering on the stove for a strawberry jam/sauce.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu 3/16-3/31

3/16- Roast chicken, potato's, carrots and cornbread
3/17- Green eggs and green pancakes
3/18- Chicken burritos with salad (using leftover chicken)
3/19- Grilled pork chops with roasted potato's and steamed broccoli
3/20- Salad night (whatever veggies, fruit and meat we have on hand)
3/21- Waffles, bacon and fruit
3/22- Grilled roast with salad and bread
3/23- Leftovers/sandwich's
3/24- Hot dogs, french fries and salad
3/25- Chicken Alfredo with broccoli and spinach
3/26- Burritos with fruit
3/27- Stir fry veggies and rice
3/28- Out of town most of the day- so something easy
3/29- Crock pot beef stew with bread
3/30- Leftovers
3/31- Salad night

As you can see I am still trying to vary things add in more fruits and veggies.  I'm adding more salad nights, where the main course is a hearty salad with lots of fruit/veggies and some type of protein (eggs, leftover meat, or canned salmon/tuna).  Once you get a good salad made it's amazing how much it can fill you up.  Here is my salad from our past salad night.

That one has spinach leaves, carrots, cucumber, strawberries, grilled chicken and was drizzled with a little olive oil.  I couldn't even finish it but it was delicious.   The hubby had a similar salad but also added hard boiled egg, tomato and salad dressing to his and omitted the strawberries and cucumber.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Did you know....

Did you know that your supposed to refrigerate cookie dough overnight, or longer, before making cookies?  I didn't until I read this.  After reading it and seeing the amazing pictures of cookies I had to make a batch.  I didn't use the recipe listed but used one from my mother in laws cookbook.  I waited patiently and refrigerated the dough 12+ hours.  And you know what.......

That's where it stayed for 24+ hours.  I followed some of the recommendations from the article such as the refrigeration, beating the egg/sugar/butter mixture for 3-5 minutes and sprinkling salt on the dough before placing it in the oven.  I used table salt by the way.  I choose not to make the large cookies and opted to scoop mine out with a tablespoon measuring spoon.  That's generally the size I use for all of our cookies unless they are supposed to be smaller.  I noticed that the dough was much more like store bought dough when I started working with it and easier to work with because it was very stiff from being chilled. 

Here's what we ended up with. (I sent half of them to work with the hubby today though, I do not need that many cookies in the house, especially since they taste so yummy.)

I will definitely keep this up.  I liked the results and so did my family. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Successful Instance of Making Small Changes

Tonight we planned to have french toast with bacon and fruit for dinner.  Since my waffle variation last week was such a success I thought this would be another easy meal to tweak.  When we went grocery shopping there were some really beautiful strawberries.  I decided to make stuffed french toast using the strawberries.  I used about 2 oz of cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and two spoon fulls of chopped up strawberries for the filling.  I used a hand mixer and blended it all together.  It reminded me of strawberry cream cheese that you would buy in the store.  Then I used more chopped up strawberries and some honey to make a strawberry sauce by simmering it on the stove.  I'm really liking the fruit sauces lately, can you tell?  

I made the french toast as normal, I did slice the bread and leave it sitting out for about an hour to dry out a bit.  Then I dipped it in the egg/milk mixture and cooked it.  Once the french toast was cooked I spread the filling on one piece and placed the other on top and then topped with the strawberry sauce.  This time I did snap pictures.

It was delicious!  I am loving making these small changes that make our meals seem brand new.  Granted I have only done it with breakfast type meals but I figure I would start there since they are generally easy meals and I try to have breakfast for dinner once a week.

What is that???

I realized last week that there are several instances where I have been looking at menu plans on other blogs and thought to myself wow that sounds good, but I'm not quite sure what it is.  That got me to thinking about some of the things that I put in our menu plans that others might read and be like what the heck is she talking about.  So I'm going to make more of an effort to post pictures or at least remember to take pictures so that I can post pictures of the meals or at least a picture with the menu plan.

One of the things on our menu that I thought might be confusing are "gourmet" burgers.  I came up with the idea to make these after a dinner with the in-laws.  They had picked up burgers from the meat department at...I believe it was Fresh Market and they had different filling.  They generally had some type of vegetable and cheese mixed into the pattie.  After this dinner I told the hubby that I bet it would be really easy to make this type of burger at home.  So a few weeks later we picked up some portabello mushrooms and feta cheese and tried it out.  They were delicious.  I've experimented a few times with the fillings.  Mainly with the cheese.  I always use portabello's because they are probably the one vegetable that I can mix in that I like.  this past week we didn't have feta cheese but did have shredded mozzarella and cheddar.  So I did a combination of both.  Here are our burgers after they were pattied out.

Warning:  If you try this watch them closely because depending on the type of cheese you use it may cause the flames to flare up if you use an outdoor grill. (hmmm wonder how I know this...)  We've used a small indoor grill before with no major problems, mainly just the cheese sticking to the grill. 

Another thing that I make are the impossibly easy pies.  They use Bisquick and there are tons of varieties which can be found here.  They really do live up to their names.  These are simple and easy to put together and we love them.

Now that I've realized this I am going to make sure to post pictures of what we are eating more often.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My attempt at Pizza

OK, so I will say the words that make most people gasp and have caused me to receive many funny looks my entire life.  I don't like pizza.  And to add to that spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli or anything with tomato sauce.  I never have.  My mom tried over and over when I was little and each time I was brought to gagging until I almost threw up.  I still can't eat it.  If the smell is too strong and I am in an enclosed space with it I will feel nauseous.  Little man and the hubby love it.  They share pizza and are happy as can be. 

But I'm trying to branch out a bit and freshen up our menus.  I found a pizza dough recipe for the bread machine and am using leftover chicken that we cooked in the rotisserie, portabella mushroom and the tiny bit of spinach we still had.  It will be topped with mozzarella cheese.  No sauce this time.  Next time I may had a little homemade white sauce. Here is the finished product.

I also came across this article today when checking out Yahoo.  I decided to try my hand at the broiled banana's because it would be a while until dinner and I needed a snack.  It was super easy and fast to make, however little man was trying to smell them right out of the oven and burned his chin.  The poor kid screamed for at least 30 minutes.  He now has a red chin and at least one small blister....but once he finally stopped focusing on his chin he was fine.  The bananas tasted delicious.  I did eat mine cold due to playing doctor for little man's burn but I think they would be even better warm.  I can't wait to try again when I might actually get to eat it warm.  All the more reason to eat bananas.  Not only are they an inexpensive fruit, they keep you full for longer and boost your metabolism.  I'm game.

Small Changes

I mentioned when I posted our menu that I felt like we were eating the same things over and over.  Last night as I was preparing to make dinner I decided to change things up a bit.  I was reaching for the Bisquick, which is what I usually use to make pancakes and waffles, when I decided to save the Bisquick for other recipes I have planned and make our waffles from scratch.  I pulled out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook and made the waffle recipe listed.  It gave the option to use either 2 cups of all purpose or wheat flour.  I used one of each and for something a little extra added an over ripe banana to the batter. ( I mashed the banana up very well before mixing it in.)

Then I decided to use some of the blueberries that we picked last summer that were in the freezer to make a blueberry type syrup/sauce.  I added blueberries and a little sugar and water to a saucepan and let it start bubbling.  Once it was going I mashed the blueberries.  Then I added some of our regular syrup to the pot.  I let it all get warm and well combined. 

So we ended up with healthier, part wheat waffles, with a little banana covered in a yummy blueberry sauce.  It was still waffles but I changed them up a bit and it made a huge difference.  I guess even small changes in the menu items can make a big difference.  Out of curiosity I checked here and there are so many waffle recipes that we could have waffles every week and not have any repeats for a couple of months.  So I think I will be trying out some new waffle recipes.  I think that the chocolate waffles will be next.