Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week In A Day

If I am home at the right time, or scrolling through channels at the right time, I stumble upon the Cooking Channel. I admit, I am still in favor of the Food Network - I tend to like the shows better.
On Cooking Channel, Rachael Ray has a show called Week in A Day - where she basically preps/cooks all the meals for the week in about an hour or so. This appealed to me because weeknights for me are generally stressful. I drive 30 minutes to get Logan, and by the time I get home I am trying to play with him while getting dinner going. It's basically impossible.

First up I tried and actual episode:

Make It Work
Recipe Review:
Chicken with Fennel Cream Sauce and Penned - it was ok. Wouldn't make it again
Minestrone Soup - meh. Again, just ok.
Mushroom and Marsala casserole - awful. took 2 bites and threw it out. We had turkey sandwiches instead.
Pulled Chicken with Bourbon BBQ - i had forgotten an ingredient and didn't make this one.
Spaghetti with Bacon and Beef Sauce - this one was good but I prefer my regular spaghetti.

So all in all, it was a BUST. However, I could see how if we had liked all the food it would have been a wonderful time savings in the evenings.

I decided this week to try again.

This time I sat down and pulled recipes and tried to get some common ingredients. I also tried to think in terms of left overs.

First of all, I bought this during the week:
 I chose the Chicken Enchiladas and a Honey-Plum chicken recipe.

First, I started a whole chicken in a pot of water and then marinated chicken thighs in wine. Once the thighs had sat about 30 minutes, I put them in a dutch oven to brown:

Once the thighs were done, I mixed apricot preserves (i couldn't find plum), soy sauce, and honey and poured that over the top and let it simmer for an hour and a half.
The cookbook
The simmering chicken.
On the night we want the honey chicken, I just have to heat this back up and boil some egg noodles. Whala!

In the meantime I let the chicken cool and pulled it apart. Then started the chaos.

I had 2 skillets going. One for Enchiladas and one for chicken spaghetti.
I used half the pulled chicken for each.

Not your traditional chicken spaghetti. This one is better

Enchilada filling

Once I was finished making the spaghetti and getting it into a casserole, I assembled the enchiladas. Then everything had to find a home in the fridge:

That was... not easy.

Then I am done!

Oh wait...

There's this:


Here is the plan:

Sunday Night: Enchiladas
Monday: Chicken Spaghetti
Tuesday: Honey Chicken
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: We have a work event but Donald is watching Logan and there are hopefully still some leftovers.
Friday: We always go out.

This makes the week nights much easier. Basically walk in the back door and turn on the oven or boil some water.

It's worth the time it took me to clean up, I suppose... :)

What do you do to make your week easier?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

7(ish) Layer Dip

I say -ish because I don't like olives and therefore didn't add them...

Everyone loves a layer dip. I actually didn't like 7 layer dip until college. Hell I didn't really like guacamole until a few years ago.

But oh how I love this dip.

Here is what I used to make mine for the Superbowl:

1 can fat free refried beans (healthy right?)
3/4 large container of light sour cream (light is healthier...)
taco seasoning
fresh guacamole
1 cup 2% shredded cheese (2% is better than 100%...)
1 large tomato
green onions

Start with a layer of beans -

Then the guacamole (made fresh at my grocery store)

Then put the sour cream in a bowl and pull out some taco seasoning.
Personally I love Penzy's Taco Seasoning
I keep it on hand always.
Then mix it all up and add it to the dish:

Then use your badly manicured/chewed upon hand to add the cheese:
Now add un-uniformly chopped tomatoes:
Confession: I hate raw tomatoes. I think they smell funny and taste like grass. But, I can't have them missing on this dip so I just pick them off my serving.
Yet I will eat them in a bit of guacamole.
Go figure.
Now for some green onions:

If you have or like olives, chop some up and add them to the top. I actually was going to add them to one half but after 10 minutes of not finding them in the store, I gave up.
Happy Super Bowl everyone!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prime Rib and Beef Stew

The story around my absense isn't the greatest excuse but hopefully it will shed some light.

First, I do cook some of the same things over and over since they are easy, after work recipes. I don't want to clutter up with repeats.

Second, we spend all of Christmas Vacation with multiple sicknesses in this house. That led me not to eat much or cook much.

When I finally pulled my head out of the sand, I made a wonderful New Years Eve meal of Prime Rib:
Recipe: The Pioneer Woman

 And scalloped potatoes:
It was heavenly and the first real meal I had (and wine) in over a week.

Then I started playing with my new favorite toy from Christmas, my new Multi Cooker.
I love that you can saute right in the unit, and not have to fiddle with another pan OR moving the insert to the stove and back. Here is how this recipe went down:

First I sauteed the onions and garlic, then added a few tablespoons (about half a can) of tomato paste and some flour.

Then I started adding chicken stock and beef stock:

Plus any herbs and spices. You can barely tell in the photo but it's bubbling right there in the unit!

After all that I added the beef:

This recipe called for the veggies to be in a foil packet so they didn't mush and lose shape:

(Forgive my shortcut of pre-cut carrots but getting a meal into the slow cooker before work plus entertaining a toddler? HAHAHAH)

I found this method genius and it made me think of a time my mom was making potato soup. She makes her chunky, not pureed, and she went to stir the soup and said "Where did the potatoes go?!" They had disintegrated into the soup as they cooked. Why do I remember that? No idea.

I placed the packet on top of the meat mixture and set the timer for 10 hours on low:

Here is what the veggies looked like when I was ready to mix them into the stew base.

I mixed it all together and let it sit for about 30 minutes while I did my normal after work whirling dervish routine.

This was a good recipe, but it was missing a little something. I am sure I was too rushed in making it and will have to sit and look it over before making it again. I found it in the Slow Cooker Revolution Book that I got for Christmas!

You really can't go wrong with anything by America's Test Kitchen.

I will try to get better about posting what I am cooking. I may branch out into showing some of my tried and true methods, and how in the world I feed a growing boy!

Anything you would like to see on here as we start up the new year?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tortellini Soup

I am going to keep this short and sweet.


Because I want you to write down the ingredients, get off your butt, and go get what you need to make this soup NOW.

It's that good.

Recipe found at 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Italian Tortellini Soup

Basically you brown the meat and onions

I did this by putting the insert of my crock pot on the stove. I wasn't worried about damaging it because then that means i can get this..

I used my iPad as the cookbook, which was fun

Then you add the rest of your ingredients (minus the pasta)

Then just let it cook. An hour before you want to eat, add the pasta... it results in this:
It was so good that everyone at the table was burning their mouths rather than waiting on it to cool down because they wanted to keep eating it. It was also a hit with Logan, who's portion was cooled down and I made the pasta smaller for him.

It's even better the next day.

Now... GO!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

30 Minute Chicken Parmesean

When I get home from work, putting together a meal that is ready in time for us all to eat is a bit of a whirlwind. This meal was a product of what I had on hand and how to make it interesting!

First I flatted the chicken:
Then I sliced fresh mozarella and placed it in the middle:

Then I rolled them up, sprayed them with cooking spray and sprinkled bread crumbs on top and bottom.
I popped them into a 425 degree oven and moved on to the sauce.
At this point, I started the water for pasta.
Then I sauteed onion and garlic in a sauce pan and added a jar of simple sauce:
By the time the pasta boiled and the sauce simmered, the chicken was done (almost exactly 30 minutes!)
I put it all on a plate and whala! Semi-fancy weeknight dinner!

Logan loved it and it was very filling and healthy.

What are your go-to weeknight dinners?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Weight Watchers Recipes

Now that I am on Weight Watchers (which is going pretty well), I wanted to make easy recipes that made everyone in the house happy and didn't feel like diet food.

This week we tried 2 different ones.

First was Chicken Tostadas
3 spray(s) cooking spray   
4 small corn tortilla(s)   
8 oz raw lean ground chicken   
1 tsp minced garlic   
1/2 tsp ground cumin   
1/4 tsp table salt   
1/2 cup(s) canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained   
1/3 cup(s) salsa, verde   
1/2 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped, divided   
1/4 cup(s) low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, sharp-variety   
8 tsp reduced-fat sour cream   
1 medium plum tomato(es), diced   
1/2 medium avocado, diced   
1 tsp fresh lime juice  

   * Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
   * Place tortillas on prepared pan; bake until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes.
   * Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken, garlic, cumin and salt; cook, breaking up chunks of chicken with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes.
   * Next, in a bowl, mash beans and salsa with a fork until well-blended and most of the beans are mashed; stir in 1/4 cup cilantro.
   * To assemble pizzas, spread 1/4 bean mixture over each tortilla (slightly less than 1/4 cup); top each with about 1/3 cup chicken mixture and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake until cheese melts and topping is hot, about 3 minutes. (Broil pizzas to brown cheese even more, if desired.)
   * Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together tomato, avocado, remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime juice.
   * Remove tostadas from oven and top each with 2 teaspoons reduced-fat sour cream and about 1/4 cup avocado mixture.

I didn't bake the tortillas - I just put them in a wet paper towel in the microwave and it steamed them.
I also used black beans instead of pinto beans.

This was SO good and very satisfying for 6 points per tostada

Then I tried the Beef Fried Rice with Fresh Ginger
3 spray(s) cooking spray, divided   
2 large egg(s), lightly beaten   
12 oz lean sirloin beef, cut into thin strips   
1/3 cup(s) low-sodium soy sauce, divided   
4 cup(s) packaged coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)   
1 cup(s) frozen green peas, thawed   
2 Tbsp ginger root, fresh, grated, or less to taste   
1 Tbsp minced garlic   
3 cup(s) cooked white rice   
1/2 cup(s) scallion(s), sliced   
1 small jalapeٌo pepper(s)   


   * Coat a 12-inch or larger nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add eggs; tilt pan so that eggs cover bottom. When eggs start to set, break them up into pieces with a heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon. Cook over medium heat until eggs are cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove eggs to a bowl; set aside.

Rinse skillet or wipe it clean; coat with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add steak to skillet; toss with 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Stir-fry until browned, about 6 minutes; remove to bowl with eggs.
Add coleslaw mix, peas, ginger and garlic to same skillet; stir-fry over medium-high heat until coleslaw mix is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and remaining soy sauce (1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon); reduce heat to medium and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 1 minute. Gently stir in cooked egg, steak and scallions; heat through. Yields about 1 3/4 cups per serving.

Again - very good. I don't think I got the skillet hot enough and the coleslaw mix got a little soggy but I liked the idea to mix in relatively tasteless veggies so that you get more bang for your buck. This one was a 9 point meal.

I haven't had any wine since Sunday night. Lee is grilling tonight so I may splurge and have a glass. It's about 5 points per glass so I have to use flex points, but that's ok. What else are they for?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pork Chops and Asparagus

Last night I must say I made a dinner of epic proportions.

And I don't mean the portions were too big...

I made Breaded Pork Chops with Dijon Asparagus.

Here, in a few photos, is how it turned out:

This is a really easy meal - and pretty impressive to guests.

Changes I made: I browned the pork chops but since I had 6 to make, I put them in the oven for about 15 minutes to cook through. While they were cooking I was able to mash the potatoes with some cream cheese and butter, and make the dressing for the asparagus.

I hope you enjoy!