28 February 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 28 February

Did a little early spring cleaning over the weekend and turned up a number of odd food items:
  • 2 tins mackerel fillets in oil
  • 1 partial container french-fried onions
  • 1 Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Garlic Jam
  • 1 package frozen cocktail kielbasa
  • 4 packets beef-flavored ramen
Naturally, I thought I'd try to use these items in this week's menu plan!

  • French's "Tuscan Pork Tenderloin" with "Asparagus Sauteed in Butter and Mustard" from Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad. Ingredients: last of the french fried onions, rosemary, garlic powder, black pepper, organic pork tenderloin, Dijon mustard.
  • "Mixed Fish Pate" with crispbread and tossed salad. Ingredients: tuna fish in olive oil, mackerel fillets in oil, butter, lemon, garlic, salt, black pepper, parsley.
  • "Lit'l Smokies Macaroni and Cheese" with green beans. Ingredients: mac and cheese mix, milk, butter, thawed cocktail kielbasa, shredded Cabot seriously sharp, condensed cheese soup, parsley, black pepper.
  • Kraft's "Crunchy Asian Broccoli Coleslaw" (halved & tweaked). Ingredients: ramen, broccoli slaw, Italian dressing, scallions, sunflower kernels, crushed cashews, chopped leftover pork loin.
  • Stonewall Kitchen's "Roasted Garlic & Onion Meatloaf" with carrots. Ingredients: farmer's market ground beef (from freezer), ground pork, toasted breadcrumbs, garlic & onion jam, parsley, Dijon mustard, black pepper, egg, Worcestershire.
  • Betty Crocker's "Zesty Beef and Noodle Vegetable Soup" with biscuits. Ingredients: farmer's market ground beef (from freezer), Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles, frozen mixed vegetables, salt-free beef bouillon, beef-flavored ramen.

25 February 2011

Delicious Garlicky Penne

Wednesday, I made a half recipe of "Penne Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes" from Taste of Home Almost Homemade. It was the last recipe I made from this cookbook before returning it to the library and it was an excellent recipe to end on as it was a fine example of the cookbook at its best.

Creamy Penne Chicken

Ingredients: whole grain penne, mushrooms, garlic, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, garlicky Alfredo sauce, cooked chicken, Parmesan.

This recipe was delicious and easy and also nice enough to serve any casual visitors. I did make a few substitutions -- fresh mushrooms for canned (and twice as many!), olive oil instead of butter, and "Italian" flavored ready-to-use cooked chicken strips instead of "Southwestern."   While I felt a bit dirty using ready-to-use cooked chicken strips, I did not have any cooked leftover chicken on hand and the chicken strips turned out to be pretty darn tasty, anyway (I'm guessing it's all the salt and corn syrup solids!).

I'm pretty sure, come next November, I will be making this recipe with leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

24 February 2011

What's For Supper? Brown Food

Monday's supper of broiled lamb chops with mushrooms and asparagus was very tasty, but also very brown:

Lamb, Mushrooms, Asparagus, Yum!

Ingredients: lamb shoulder chops (from freezer), Dijon mustard, thyme, pepper, salt, asparagus, mushrooms, shallots, red wine vinegar, parsley, unsalted butter, lemon juice.

For the lamb, I used Betty Crocker's recipe for "Mustard Lamb Chops." Just brushed four lamb shoulder chops with Dijon mustard, sprinkled them with thyme, and broiled them for about 5 minutes on each side. Easy-peasy! So easy, in fact, I wondered why I didn't use my broiler more often!

The mushrooms and asparagus recipes both came from Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad and were also very easy and well worth repeating:

"Wild Mushroom Ragout"
I halved this recipe and use a mix of portobello, oyster, shiitake, and crimini mushrooms. While this ragout seems pretty standard -- melt butter, cook shallot, add mushrooms blahdy blahdy blah -- it's the addition of two tablespoons of red wine vinegar just at the end of the mushrooms' cooking time that really makes the dish sing. Next time, I will try Viestad's variation and add a little minced garlic, chili powder, and cinnamon for "some nice spiciness."

"Asparagus Sauteed in Butter and Mustard"
I'd never thought about pairing Dijon mustard with asparagus, but after trying this recipe, it is my new favorite. Just add asparagus to a very hot skillet and cook for a minute, turning asparagus so it browns but does not burn. Turn down heat, add butter, and cook until butter begins to brown. Add Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and black pepper. Cook, turning often, until asparagus is tender, but firm.

22 February 2011

Yummy, Elegant Salmon & Asparagus Crepes

Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad (Workman Publishing, 2003) is due back to the library by the end of the week and there are still four recipes I really want to make, so I'm trying to cook through my bookmarks before I have to let Kitchen of Light go on to some other deserving patron.

Monday being a holiday, I was home for lunch and decided to make a half recipe of Viestad's "Smoked Salmon, Asparagus, and Potato Cake Canapes."

Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Canapes

Ingredients: crepes, asparagus, lemon, smoked salmon, sour cream, dill.

Spread crepes with a thin layer of sour cream and top with salmon. Place an asparagus spear (I used two per crepe, arranged top-to-tail) on each crepe and roll up the crepes around the asparagus. Cut each rolled crepe into 6 slices and arrange on a serving plate. Sprinkle with dill. If you can find it, garnish each canape with a little salmon roe.

Overall, these canapes made for an easy, elegant, and tasty lunch. I look forward to making them again with Viestad's "Simple Salmon Mousse" and salmon roe. While the recipe works well with smoked salmon, it would be even better with Viestad's mousse but, as he writes, smoked salmon is an acceptable substitute if you're not sure of the freshness or hygienic handling of the salmon at your grocery store (and I wasn't). You could also probably use a commercially prepared smoked salmon spread, if you could find a good one.

(I appreciated Viestad's suggestion to add lemon juice and rind to the asparagus's cooking water as it did seem to keep the asparagus from yellowing as it cooked).

21 February 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 21 February

So sad! Taste of Home's Almost Homemade: 374 Easy Home-Style Favorites has to go back to the library this week as other cooks fancy it, too. We have certainly enjoyed the three recipes I've tried so far and look forward to this week's "Penne Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes."

I'm also finishing up with Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad as it, too, needs to go back to the library. I liked it a lot and plan on getting it out again in the summer to try some of Viestad's fantastic berry recipes like "Summer Berries with Bay Leaf Custard" and "Strawberry Snow."

  • Broiled mustard-smeared lamb chops with "Asparagus Sauteed in Butter and Mustard" and "Wild Mushroom Ragout" from Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad. Ingredients: lamb shoulder chops (from freezer), Dijon mustard, pepper, asparagus, mushrooms, shallots, red wine vinegar, parsley, unsalted butter, lemon juice.
  • Taste of Home's "Tomato Asparagus Salad" (partial recipe) with leftover lamb chop. Ingredients: asparagus, grape tomatoes, light Italian vinaigrette, Parmesan, salad greens.
  • Taste of Home's "Dilled Crab Salad" (partial recipe). Ingredients: surimi, sugar snap peas, salad greens, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, dill weed, sour cream, light ranch dressing, lemon juice.
  • "Cod with Artichokes and Basil" from The South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook with tossed salad. Ingredients: cod (from freezer), olive oil, basil, marinated artichoke hearts.
  • "Chicken with Cremini Cream Sauce" (half recipe) from The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook (Rodale, 2010) with green beans. Ingredients: boneless skinless organic chicken breasts, olive oil, cremini mushrooms, scallions, low-sodium chicken broth, 0% Greek yoghurt, dried rosemary.

20 February 2011

Kitchen Sink Stuffed Peppers

While I really enjoyed making (and eating!) my homegrown version of cheesy blasters, that experiment did leave me with a lot of leftover ingredients. While I'm not particularly thrifty these days, I still am not keen on wasting food and didn't just want to bin my leftover cheesy blasters bits. Eventually, after a good rummage through my cabinets, I came up with an idea for stuffed peppers ...

Cheesy Stuffed Peppers, Cooked

Kitchen Sink Peppers

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • Penzeys "Arizona Dreaming" seasoning blend, to taste
  • 1 can low-sodium organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Muir Glen low-sodium diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 container unnecessary salsa con queso
  • 4 organic bell peppers, tops and seeds removed
  • Leftover pizza sauce (about 6 oz)
  • Leftover shredded mozzarella-cheddar cheese blend (about 4 oz)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Generously season turkey with seasoning blend and cook until no pink remains. Stir in queso, beans, and tomatoes. Set aside.

Bring pot of water to boil, add peppers to boiling water, and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove peppers from pot, drain, and place in a square baking pan. (One of my peppers suffered from poor balance so I just propped it up against its mates -- if I were less lazy, I would have trimmed its bottom so it could stand on its own).

Fill peppers with meat mixture, pour pizza sauce over them, top them with cheese, and bake, uncovered, in preheated 375°F oven for about 35 minutes.

18 February 2011

You got cheesy blasters!

Alright! Cheesy blasters! You take a hot dog, stuff it with some jack cheese, fold it in a pizza, you got cheesy blasters!

Yes, I made cheesy blasters. It wasn't particularly hard -- just follow the song -- and making them just amused the heck out of me. Would I make them again? Maybe. If I were hosting a LAN party in, say, 1996.


  • Pillsbury "Classic" Pizza Crust
  • Sclafini "Home Style" Pizza Sauce
  • Kraft "Pizza" Mozzarella Cheddar
  • Cabot Monterey Jack
  • Hebrew National Quarter Pounder Beef Franks
  • Price Chopper's Central Market Salsa Con Queso
Cheesy Blasters, Ingredients

A lot of my ingredient choices came down to size/geometry. I wanted large franks, because I didn't want to make many cheesy blasters -- four at most. I used block monterey instead of shredded because the block was just slightly shorter than the franks. I used refrigerated dough because the tube was just a little longer than the franks.

I preheated the oven to 425°F. While it preheated, I cooked the franks as their packaging instructed and then set them aside to cool down a little (stuffing hot franks with cheese is not a good idea).

I rolled out the pizza dough, spread it with sauce and cheese, and then set it aside while I prepared the franks.

Cheesy Blasters, Stuffed Dogs

I cut a thick strip the length of the cheese block and then halved that strip lengthwise to make what was essentially a cheese stick. Then I cut a deep slit in two franks to within a ½ inch of their ends and inserted the cheese into each slit.

Cheesy Blasters, Layout

I arranged the two franks in the middle of the pizza to make sure they would both fit, then cut the pizza in half. I rolled each half around a frank and put them on a greased jelly roll pan (pizza stone and less dough would have been better, I think). I put them in the 425° oven and baked them for about 18 minutes.

Cheesy Blasters, Insides

(When The Husband saw them, he thought they looked like pasties or calzones and he's quite right. They're like calzones stuffed with a cheese dog).

While I had purchased nacho cheese for the cheesy blasters, I hesitated to use it as it wasn't in the song. In the end, we did not end up using it at all as the cheesy blasters where plenty cheesy and good all on their own.

Did we like them?

Cheesy Blasters, Remnants

Oh, I think we did!

Now, of course, I have a lot of leftover ingredients! Extra Cabot cheese is never unwelcome in our house and will be quickly nibbled away. As for the franks, they will go into tomorrow's scrambled eggs -- my mother used to do this a lot when I was a child and it remains one of those comfort foods I crave every once in a while. The extra pizza sauce, pizza cheese, and nacho cheese will get used up in the turkey stuffed peppers I was planning for Sunday dinner.

I shared this post for Gold Star Wednesday on 23 February 2011, because that is just how proud I am of my little project!

17 February 2011

Celebratory Soup

I made Frontier Soup's Illinois Corn Chowder for Valentine's Day and it was, as always, so very delicious.  I jazzed the chowder up with both cheddar and crab this time, to make it a little more Valentine's Day "fancy."

Crabby Corn Chowder

Crabby Crockpot Corn Chowder
½ pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced small (thumbnail-sized pieces)
8 cups turkey broth
2 cups heavy cream
4 oz shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp
6 oz canned crab
salt and pepper to taste

Combine broth and potatoes in soup pot and bring to boil. Add soup mix and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. Mash the potato pieces with a spoon or masher until most are broken. Add cheese and stir until combined. Add cream and crab and cook at low heat until slightly thickened (about 15 min). Remove bay leaf and season to taste.

I have three "Illinois Corn Chowder" mixes plus a "Beef Barley Bean" and "French Onion" left from the big batch I ordered in January ... I think that's enough to get me through to May, but we might have to start rationing!

Never thought I'd be so crazed over a chowder mix, but this stuff turns out really well with minimal effort and is salt and preservative free.


14 February 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 14 February

Brought a new cookbook home from the library -- Taste of Home's Almost Homemade: 374 Easy Home-Style Favorites -- and have already bookmarked a bunch of promising recipes!

  • Another yummy "Illinois Prairie Chowder" mix prepared in my slow cooker! Ingredients: soup mix, turkey stock, potatoes, cream, shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar, crab, fresh ground black pepper. (You're thinking corn chowder doesn't sound very special for Valentine's Day, but The Husband loves this stuff).
  • Leftover chowder with sugar snap peas and guacamole for dipping.
Wednesday (Peapod PM)
  • "Gnocchi Chicken Skillet" from Taste of Home Almost Homemade (using turkey instead of chicken) with roasted green beans. Ingredients: ground turkey, frozen gnocchi, tomato sauce, onion, oregano, Parmesan, green beans, olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper.
  • Leftover chowder with cucumber and tomatoes in light Italian.
  • "Asparagus Beef Lo Mein" from Taste of Home Almost Homemade (because I found a bottle of hoisin sauce in the back of a cupboard!) Ingredients: organic beef steak, asparagus, garlic, ramen noodles, hoisin sauce.
  • "Fiesta Chicken Chowder" from Taste of Home Almost Homemade. Ingredient: organic boneless skinless chicken breasts, low-sodium fajita seasoning, low-sodium black beans, Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes, mexicorn, chilies, brown rice, cilantro, lime juice, condensed cheddar cheese soup. (Recipe calls for nacho cheese soup, but Peapod doesn't carry it so I'll doctor cheddar cheese soup w/ Penzey's "Bold" taco seasoning).

12 February 2011

Crabby Cottage Cheese Salad

Thursday, I made a half recipe of Taste of Home's "Cottage Cheese Crab Salad" for lunch and was surprised by just how much I liked it. I did omit the sour cream as I had none and that probably made the salad quite a bit drier than it would have been otherwise, but I didn't mind that as my greens didn't get soggy in the five hours between packing lunch and eating it!

Cottage Crab

Ingredients: salad greens, grape tomatoes, surimi, 2% cottage cheese, green onions, celery, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, pepper.

I served this salad on a bed of greens just I could just as easily see stuffing it in a whole wheat pita pocket.

10 February 2011

Disappointing Veal

Veal w/ Asparagus & Mushrooms

Ingredients: veal scallopini, asparagus, cremini mushrooms, garlic, shallots, thyme, white wine, olive oil.

"Veal with Asparagus" from Betty Crocker's Low-Carb Lifestyle Cookbook did not come out as well as I had hoped. Indeed, we only found it just okay. While the vegetables were perfect, the veal seemed overcooked and the whole dish was a bit bland. If I were to make this again, I would use chicken or turkey cutlets, cook them less, double the garlic, shallots, and thyme and include liberal amounts of fresh ground salt and pepper. I might also cook the vegetables and meat separately -- starting the vegetables first -- and then just plate them together.

07 February 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 7 February

It's February and you know what that means, right? It means we're that much closer to spring! The last few days have been in the upper thirties and much of the driveway is finally clear of ice, so maybe there is something to that groundhog nonsense.

On the other hand, The Husband spent much of the weekend shovelling snow off our solar panels:

So who knows what the week may bring?

All I know is, I've put asparagus on the menu plan and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Barbecue-baked chicken breasts with Heinz baked beans ("The British Bean") and cucumber salad. Ingredients: Boneless skinless organic chicken breasts (from freezer), Lamothe's Maple Farmhouse Barbeque Sauce, cucumbers, garlic vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, dill, parsley.
  • Veggie-packed tossed salad topped with diced leftover chicken, black beans, and chipotle ranch.
Wednesday (Peapod PM)
  • "Veal with Asparagus" from Betty Crocker's Low-Carb Lifestyle Cookbook and tossed salad. Ingredients: veal scallopini, mushrooms, asparagus, white wine, thyme, garlic, shallot.
  • Taste of Home's "Cottage Cheese Crab Salad" (omitting sour cream and replacing imitation crab with tiny shrimp). Ingredients: salad greens, grape tomatoes, tiny shrimp, 2% cottage cheese, green onions, celery, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, pepper.
  • "Garlicky Pork with Basil" and "Harvest Roasted Vegetables" from Betty Crocker's Low-Carb Lifestyle Cookbook.  Ingredients: organic pork tenderloin, basil, low-sodium chicken broth, pepper, garlic, bell pepper, onion, grape tomatoes, zucchini.
  • "Easy Salsa Chicken" from Betty Crocker's Low-Carb Lifestyle Cookbook with "Best Black Beans." Ingredients: boneless skinless organic chicken breasts (from freezer), butter, zucchini, mushrooms, salsa, black beans, onion, garlic, cilantro, cayenne.

06 February 2011

Crunchy Cottage Cheese Salad

I made this based on Taste of Home's recipe for "Cottage Cheese Salad," but increased the amount and variety of vegetables as I wanted something really crunchy.

Crunchy Cottage Cheese Salad

1 4-oz container 2% cottage cheese
½ cup diced grape tomatoes
½ cup diced seeded cucumber
½ cup diced yellow pepper
2 radishes, diced fine
1 sliced green onion
2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Penzeys Buttermilk Ranch dressing mix
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all in bowl and allow to mellow over night. Serve over salad greens or with crunchy whole wheat pita chips.

04 February 2011

Comforting Soup

Made Frontier Soups' "Oregon Lakes Wild Rice & Mushroom" soup mix for lunch today as I wanted something comforting and easy. Instructions on the back of the packet called for chicken broth and shredded cooked poultry, but I used turkey broth and a pound of browned ground turkey I cooked with 3 cloves of minced garlic.

Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Mix ingredients: wild rice, portabella mushrooms, carrots, peas, onion, celery, green onions, herbs.

This soup was pretty good for a mix with lots of vegetables and well-seasoned low-sodium broth. However, we could not taste the mushrooms! Were I to buy this mix again, I would add crushed dried wild mushrooms and cooked fresh mushrooms.

Mini Menu Plan

Wrote this up on the flight home based on our scheduled Peapod order and my (surprisingly accurate) recollection of our freezer's contents.

      • Peppercorn crusted pork tenderloin w/ garlicky caesar salad. Ingredients: organic pork tenderloin (from freezer), crushed peppercorns, garlic, sea salt, caesar salad kit.
      • Mustard lamb chops with sauteed peas & celery. Ingredients: lamb shoulder chops (from freezer), dijon mustard, pepper, celery, peas, olive oil, garlic, thyme.
      • "Dijon Chicken Smothered in Mushrooms" with roasted green beans. Ingredients: chicken cutlets (from freezer), mushrooms, dijon mustard, chicken broth, garlic, flour, green beans, garlic, olive oil.