Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monthly Menu-January 2010

Wow, I can't believe it's already 2010! I'm so excited to start sharing some new things on my blog; like my monthly menu. I just started planning my meals by month a little while back and it has totally saved me time and energy. I only have to set aside time once a month to get my menu and main grocery list together so I don't have to wonder on a daily or even weekly basis, "what's for dinner?" I always know what I'm cooking or what's on my grocery list. I do my major shopping at the beginning of the month, then I make (ideally) once weekly trips for the fresh stuff.

For January's menu, I've decided to revisit some recipes I've made that our family has really enjoyed, as well as incorporate some new recipes. I tried to find things that are very flavorful as well as healthful. Although I've made many of these recipes, I haven't posted about any of them! So, I'll be posting as I make them.

Dinner Menu
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Cashew Chicken w/ rice & broccoli
Italian Meatloaf w/ oven fries & green beans
Cider Roasted Chicken w/ Hamilton's Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Lentil Soup (Sunday Soup)
Orange Beef w/ rice & broccoli
Shrimp Scampi w/ linguini & peas
BBQ Smoked Cheddar Mac n' Cheese & Coleslaw

Chicken, Barley & Mushroom Soup w/ garlic knots (Sunday Soup)
Sliced Steak w/ Poblano Gravy, Chipotle Sweet Potatoes & Green Beans
Jerk Chicken w/ Island Rice & Broccoli
Ham Fried Rice

Baked Potato Soup (Sunday Soup)
Lemon Chicken w/ Roasted Red Pepper Hummus & pitas, & peas
Polenta Parmesan w/ Orange Edamame Salad

Other Goodies
Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Peanut Butter Icing
Apple Dippin' Peanut Butter Cookies
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Strawberry Yogurt Scones

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cranberry Chicken

This is one of the first recipes I ever collected and have made it on and off over the years. After making it again the other night I had forgotten how good it tasted! It had great flavor and couldn't be easier to make.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 bottle fat-free catalina salad dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken in a 9x13 baking dish. Mix cranberry sauce, onion soup mix and catalina dressing and pour over chicken. Cover with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes. Serve with hot cooked rice.

NOTES:This makes a lot of sauce, so I usually make it into 2 meals. I use half of the sauce and 3 chicken breasts. I cut the chicken breasts in half so they are more like chicken tenders; 6 pieces total. The rest of the sauce I popped in a ziptop bag and put it in the freezer.

When you're ready to make it again, take your chicken out of the freezer and only partially thaw it then cut it in half, if you wish. Then you can just pretty much squeeze the rest of the sauce, that you froze, over it right from the freezer since it never fully hardens when frozen. Cover and bake in 350 oven but cook a little longer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake for 16-18 minutes.

Makes 12-15 muffins

NOTES:You can feel good about sinking your teeth into these for breakfast. They're healthful, not too sweet and have great flavor. I used a #20/large scoop to fill each cup, which yielded 17 muffins. I found they were a little small though, so I'll probably either use a #12 scoop next time or fill them closer to 3/4 full to yield about 12-13 muffins.

Total calories=1838, per muffin(1/17)=102

SOURCE:Adapted from Joy the Baker

Homemade White Bread

10 1/2 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 1/2 rounded Tbsp saf-instant yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp liquid lecithin*
4 cups hot tap water

In mixer add flour, salt, yeast and powdered milk. Pulse until just combined. Add sugar, lecithin, and water. Mix for about 20-30 seconds and check consistency. If dough is too dry, add more water. It should look a little sticky, this will yield a lighter loaf. Mix for 3 minutes in mixer. DO NOT ADD WATER OR FLOUR TO THE DOUGH AFTER IT HAS FINISHED MIXING, it will not be able to form the gluten like the rest of the dough.

Spray counter, pans and your hands with cooking spray. Pour out dough onto sprayed counter. Separate the dough into 4 equal balls of dough. Roll each dough ball into a log the length of your bread pan. "Spank" it to get the air bubbles out and roll it again just enough to make it look smooth on the outside. Place in loaf pan and let raise. It's ok if it doesn't touch all sides of the pan when you first put it in the pan, as it raises it will fill the pan. Cover with a dish towel. Let raise 25 minutes or until dough has raised to the top of the loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Makes 4 loaves
(4x8" loaf pans).

*Do not try to measure lecithin, it is too sticky and messy. Instead, squeeze or pour approximately 3 Tbsp. (size of a quarter) of lecithin directly into the bowl. Our local Macey's grocery store carries lecithin but you can also find it at Kitchen Kneads, The Bosch Store and places like that.

NOTES: I went to a bread making class with my mom and it was the best thing I ever did to learn how to make bread.

I only make white bread when I'm making pizza, so I only make half a batch at a time. I use half the dough for the pizza and the other half I make into a loaf.

If you want to make whole wheat bread, click here

Calories per slice (1/16)=78

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hershey's Candy Cane Kiss Brownie Bites

For the brownie:
1 brownie mix 9×13 inch size
Candy Cane Hershey Kisses, unwrapped, about 36

For the ganache:
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 original candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare mini muffin tin(s) by generously spraying with cooking spray, both inside the cups and over the top. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.

Spoon batter into tins, filling about half way. Press kisses into center of brownie batter, pushing them in only about a quarter to a third of the way down; do not push all the way to bottom, some of the tip should stick out the top. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until brownies are cooked through.

As they bake the kisses will sink down a little...

and the brownie will start to envelop them...

until they are completely covered. Notice how the brownie bites didn't spill over even though they came over the top. If you do not spray the tops as well as the insides, the brownie will spill over, stick to to the top and make it virtually impossible to remove the bites intact.

Let brownie bites cool COMPLETELY in the tins, they are difficult to get out otherwise. Once cool, gently run a thin knife around them and ease them out onto a cooling rack.

Put candy canes in plastic baggie and gently crush, making sure not to make them into a powder.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth and melted. Stir in cream until silky smooth. If needed, microwave 10 seconds more. Dip tops of brownies into melted chocolate, then sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

NOTES:These can be kind of tricky, but if you are careful to completely spray the tins and cool the brownies before taking them out they should be ok. The flavor is wonderful. The Hershey's Kisses are amazing!

SOURCE:Adapted from Picky Palate

VARIATION: Raspberry Kiss Brownie Hearts

Use the following substitutions with the recipe above:
*use Hershey's Raspberry Hugs in place of the Candy Cane kisses
*use a pan with heart-shaped cavities (the pan I used had 6 cavities and could hold about as much or a little more than a standard muffin tin cavity)
*only fill cavities about 2/3 to 3/4 full; you won't need to spray the top of the tin, it shouldn't spill over.
*Bake about 18-20 minutes
*Makes 9 heart-shaped brownies

Linked to...
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Romano-Black Pepper Biscotti

1 1/2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns or peppercorn blend
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp.) cold, unsalted butter, cut into half inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Pulse peppercorns in grinder until coarsely ground. In a food processor or large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper. Pulse in the butter with a food processor or, if you’re using a bowl with a pastry blender or your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into thirds. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log, about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high (or to the size you want). Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart.

Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Transfer a log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.

Makes about 16 slices of biscotti

SOURCE:elly says opa!

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Homemade macaroni and cheese it pretty much the best comfort food there ever was.  I don't know what it is about it that just makes you feel like you're back home sitting on your momma's lap.

While this version certainly isn't the most indulgent it's still plenty rich and creamy, nice and cheesy.  It's a great basic recipe that is simple and quick to make.  Macaroni and cheese is very versatile in that you can use different cheese, different milk, throw in some veggies or even bake it topped with breadcrumbs after it's cooked.  However, if you're new to homemade macaroni, stick with the original for a while.  I highly recommend you use good quality, full-fat milk and cheese and make sure it's sharp!

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
3-5 servings

1 1/2 cups macaroni or other small pasta
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp (heaping) dry mustard, more if desired (or a squirt of dijon mustard will do in a pinch)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, Grated
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt, more to taste
dash salt and ground black pepper

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

In the mean time, in a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for about a minute, whisking occasionally. Don’t let it burn.

Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for 2-3 minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Add in cheese and stir to melt.

Add salts and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed. Don't under-salt.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.

Serve immediately.

Pioneer Woman

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Egg Nog Cupcakes

Are you an egg nog lover? Do you need a yummy holiday treat? Then look no further, I've got the perfect thing for you right here! These egg nog cupcakes are so dreamy and stuffed full of delcious egg nog from the batter to the frosting. I shared these at family gatherings of both my family and my husband's family and everyone loved them. Take these to your next party and you'll definitely get asked to bring dessert again!

Egg Nog Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 tsp. rum extract
1 1/4 cup low-fat eggnog
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp. low-fat eggnog
1-2 tsp. rum extract
generous pinch of nutmeg
2 (or more) cups powdered sugar

ground cinnamon
cinnamon sticks, cut in halves or thirds

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line 2 muffin tins with about 17 paper liners. In a small bowl, mix together the rum extract, eggnog, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, mix together the nutmeg, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.

Fill muffin cups half full; a #20/large scoop was the perfect amount. DO NOT OVER-FILL. If you have extra batter, line additional muffin tin with cups and fill.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter, eggnog, rum extract, nutmeg and powdered sugar. Add in more sugar if needed to make the frosting stiff, but spreadable. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Garnish by sprinkling cinnamon on top poking in a cut piece of a cinnamon stick.

Makes 14-17 cupcakes

SOURCE:Adapted from Annie's Eats

Linked to ...
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking
Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms

Chocoholic Mint Truffle Kissed Biscotti

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
10-oz. bag Hershey's Mint Truffle Kisses, unwrapped and halved

1 cup white chocolate chips
Sprinkles, if desired

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

In a stand or electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until well combined, scraping sided to incorporate all ingredients. Place flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add to wet ingredients following with the chocolate chips and kisses. Mix on low until just combined.

Divide the dough into two equal halves and form into two 10-inch logs on the prepared baking sheets, at least 4 inches apart. The logs should be about 10 inches long by 4 inches wide (they will spread during baking), and about 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep. Bake for about 30 minutes, then allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using a long serrated knife slice each log into 3/4-inch to 1-inch pieces on the diagonal. Separate on the baking sheet so that the sides are not touching. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Melt chocolate over a double broiler or carefully melt in microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth and melted. Dip tips or drizzle chocolate over entire surface of biscotti and then add sprinkles, if desired. Let chocolate harden on wax paper then enjoy with your favorite cup of hot chocolate!!

Approximately 16 slices of biscotti

SOURCE:Picky Palate

Gingerbread Biscotti

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 bag Hershey’s cinnamon chips
1/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices and cinnamon chips in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed just to combine. In a small bowl, combine eggs with molasses and stir well. With the mixer on low speed, pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Dough will be slightly crumbly.

Divide the dough into two equal halves and form into two 10-inch logs on the prepared baking sheets. The logs should be about 10 inches long by 4 inches wide (they will spread during baking), and about 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep. Bake for about 30 minutes, then allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using a long serrated knife slice each log into 3/4-inch to 1-inch pieces on the diagonal. Separate on the baking sheet so that the sides are not touching. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Place chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt until smooth. Dip half of each biscotti into the chocolate, shake gently to remove excess, and place on wax paper to set.

SOURCE:Annie's Eats

Monday, December 14, 2009

Every Day Chicken Cordon Bleu

I love chicken cordon bleu and before I had kids I used to make it often. Now that I have 2 little ones to chase around I try to simplify things as much as possible and make easier meals. We don't eat a lot of casseroles, but I really love this one. It has all the flavor of traditional chicken cordon bleu but a lot more ease.

for the chicken:
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 onion, quartered
8 peppercorns
1/2 tsp. salt
2 small chicken breast halves

for the sauce:
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 - 2 cups skim milk
1 cup low-fat Swiss cheese, shredded

1 pkg. Chicken flavored Stove Top stuffing
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
1/3 - 1/2 cup low-fat Swiss cheese, shredded

Place the water and the rest of the ingredients for the chicken in a large pot on the stove. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 45 minutes. Drain chicken and let cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

Near the end of cooking time for the chicken, preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare stuffing according to package directions and set aside.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium sauce pot. Add the flour and whisk together. Let bubble for about a minute. Add the milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken. Take off heat and add 1 cup cheese.

Add chicken and ham to cheese sauce and toss to coat. Pour into an 8 1/2 x 11 inch rectangular baking pan. Spread stuffing on top and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup of shredded. Bake in oven, uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I got this recipe from my sister. This is great for crowds and very easy to make. My sister also simmers hers in a crock pot, which makes it portable for any potluck or family party. It's also a kid-pleaser. The meatballs are very soft, so I just mash them up with the rice and they eat it great. Since you only use 1/3 cup of tomato sauce in the meatballs, I just use the rest of the can as part of the ketchup and then add enough ketchup to make 1 1/2 cups.

for the meatballs:
½ lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
½ t pepper
½ t garlic powder
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
½ cup chopped onion
2 eggs
1 T flour
1/3 cup tomato sauce
3/4 t salt
3/4 t soy sauce

Place meat and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix together and form 1-1 1/2 inch balls. Place on a baking dish and bake at 350°F for 40 minutes.

for the sauce:

2 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup water
1 ½ cups ketchup
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 t soy sauce

Bring to a boil. Thicken sauce with about 1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with just enough water. Then add 9 oz pineapple tidbits.

Simmer meatballs in sauce for 20-30 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Orange Cranberry Biscotti with White Chocolate Chips and Orange Glaze

These are my new go-to holiday treat, they are wonderful! I seriously could not stop eating these biscotti. I absolutely loved them and was so exited when I finally got to make them. They are perfect for treat bags or goodie trays because they keep well.

Orange Cranberry Biscotti w/ White Chocolate Chips and Orange Glaze
for the biscotti:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. orange zest
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

for the glaze:
3-4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl; stir together with a fork and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries with a rubber spatula.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one portion of dough, shape into a 12" x 3" log on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough so that the logs are laying parallel and spaced apart on the baking sheet. Bake until the logs are golden brown, 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 25 minutes, maintaining the oven temperature in the meantime.

Carefully transfer the logs to a work surface and remove the parchment paper from the pan (if you are using it). Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into ½-inch slices on the diagonal. Lie the slices on one of their cut sides back on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for 12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool almost completely. Drizzle glaze over each biscotto, spreading it if desired, then finish cooling completely. Store in an airtight container.

SOURCE:Adapted from Annie's Eats.

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursady @ Prairie Story
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking
Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms
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