31 May 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 30 May

A busy week needs an easy menu ...

  • Pillsbury's (always delicious) "Ultimate Barbecue-Rubbed Chicken" with roasted asparagus. Ingredients: boneless chicken breasts (from freezer), brown sugar, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder.
  • Leftover grilled chicken with Spanish-style ready rice, blueberries, and low fat Greek yoghurt.
  • Grilled pork chops with tossed salad and baked beans. Ingredients: boneless pork loin chops (from freezer), cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic.
  • Tossed salad topped with leftover pork, black beans, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar, salsa, and chipotle ranch.
  • "Simple Seared Tuna" with steamed green beans and rice. Ingredients: wild caught tuna steaks (from freezer), Penzeys Parisian Bonnes Herbes, salt, black pepper, olive oil, lemon, steam-in-bag green beans, microwavable frozen rice blend.
  • Panko-crusted baked chicken tenderloins with Green Giant's Valley Fresh Steamers "Garden Medley" vegetable blend. Ingredients: chicken tenders (from freezer), panko, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, egg white, frozen vegetable blend.

28 May 2011

Lazy Picnic Food

We're going to a Memorial Day picnic tomorrow and I was told to bring pasta salad and dessert. Because I'm feeling awfully lazy, I just whipped up a batch of King Arthur Flour's sugar free brownies and tarted up a box of Betty Crocker's "classic" Suddenly Salad with lots of extra vegetables and parsley from my container garden. While I do not think I will win any prizes for originality or skill, I don't expect to bring home much in the way of leftovers, either.

Chopped Vegetables

24 May 2011

Simple Seared Tuna

Made tuna steaks for supper Monday night. I would have preferred to cook them on our grill, but it's been raining for what feels like weeks now and grilling in the rain is just no fun. I used the recipe for "Seared Herbed Tuna" from Weight Watchers 4 Ingredient 10 Minute Recipes and we thought the steaks turned out quite deliciously -- so deliciously, in fact, that I wondered why I didn't cook tuna more often!

Monday Supper
(I know tuna is "supposed" to be served medium-rare, 
but we're not very brave and stick with a warm bright pink center).

Ingredients: wild caught tuna steaks (from freezer), Penzeys Parisian Bonnes Herbes (instead of Herbes de Provence), salt, black pepper, olive oil, lemon.

I had planned on serving these steaks with "Sauteed Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes," but two stove top dishes just seemed beyond me considering how exhausted I was (three hours sleep, natch) so I microwaved green beans then tossed them with chopped jarred roasted peppers, lightly salted butter, and Penzeys Parisian Bonnes Herbes. The green beans came out really well and I will be making them this way again.

23 May 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 23 May

Picked up a Weight Watchers cooking magazine at Borders a few weeks ago and thought I should really give some of the recipes a try sooner rather than later. Also, Memorial Day Weekend is going to be a major gardening weekend for me (if it doesn't rain), so I've planned for a small no-frills picnic. If the lawn is dry enough, there will also be croquet.

  • "Seared Herbed Tuna" with "Sauteed Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes" from Weight Watchers 4 Ingredient 10 Minute Recipes. Ingredients: wild caught tuna steaks (from freezer), Herbes de Provence, salt, black pepper, olive oil, lemon, green beans, cherry tomatoes, garden basil.
  • Tossed salad topped with diced leftover pork tenderloin, plus low fat Greek yoghurt and blueberries.
  • "Chicken Milanese" and "Skillet Asparagus & Roasted Peppers" from Weight Watchers 4 Ingredient 10 Minute Recipes. Ingredients: skinless boneless chicken breasts, panko, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, grape tomatoes, red onion, salt, black pepper, garden basil, red wine, garden parsley, roasted peppers, asparagus, light balsamic dressing.
  • Tossed salad topped with leftover chicken, black beans, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar.
  • "Chicken Paprika" from Weight Watchers 4 Ingredient 10 Minute Recipes over whole wheat couscous with tossed salad. Ingredients: frozen bell pepper stir-fry mix, chicken tenders, black pepper, low-sodium marinara sauce, Penzeys Hungarian sweet paprika, low-sodium chicken broth, whole wheat couscous.
Saturday/Sunday (Memorial Day Weekend)
  • Hot dogs and hamburgers with pickled beets, tossed salad, pasta salad, and devilled eggs. 

22 May 2011

Low-Carb Schmarb, It's Good Food

I'd been weeding library cookbooks in February -- removing those that were falling apart, contained hilariously out-dated health information, or had been overly icked by messy cooks -- when I came upon a burgeoning shelf of unloved low-carb cookbooks. There's nothing wrong with these cookbooks. They simply represent a diet fad that has come and gone. Feeling sorry for them, I ended up bringing home Betty Crocker's Low-Carb Lifestyle Cookbook: Easy and Delicious Recipes to Trim Carbs and Fat (General Mills, 2005) and copying down a bunch of recipes.

Despite its lack of trendiness, the Low-Carb Lifestyle Cookbook is a perfectly decent cookbook with tempting photographs and recipes which promise tasty and healthy meals in very little time. So far, I've made four recipes with good to fantastic results:
All the recipes I tried were prepared in about thirty minutes -- very nice for the work week. Also, not only were they low carb, they are generally low-fat and low-calorie. (Obviously, you're mileage may vary as my idea of low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie cookery may be your vision of Dietary Doom).

20 May 2011


Monday I made the easiest lamb dish in the world using Taste of Home's "Slow-Cooked Lamb" recipe. I halved the recipe as there are only two of us and I didn't want leftovers, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It's one of those recipes that is so simple and short that it's practically foolproof.

Lamb in My Slow Cooker

I rubbed four lamb loin chops with a mix of oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then I set them aside while I layered the bottom of my slow cooker with a thinly sliced onion. Topped the onion with lamb and let it cook on LOW for 6 hours. Served the lamb with "light" Caesar salad and it made for a tasty work night supper. Look forward to making "Slow-Cooked Lamb" again.

Slow-Cooked Lamb Chops

18 May 2011

Homemade Spudulike: Baked Beanz

Baked beans on a baked potato? Trust me, it's better than it sounds.

Homemade Spudulike: Beanz

You need:
1 can Heinz (tomato-based) baked beans
2 large baking potatoes
2 pats lightly salted butter (I used Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery's cultured butter)

Stab potatoes with a fork a few times, rub with a little olive oil, roll in coarse salt, and bake at 425° for about 50 minutes.

Open baked potatoes, top with butter, and allow to melt (I popped mine back in the still hot oven for a few minutes to speed the melting process), top with baked beans, season with black pepper, and eat.

It's a tremendously simple, cheap, and filling supper. I expect we'll be eating this again in a few weeks -- especially if spring remains as dank and dreary as it's been.

16 May 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 15 May

Just cooking my way through our cupboards and freezer this week, making food that tastes good but that I don't need to think much about to make.

  • "Slow-Cooked Lamb Chops Recipes" with Caesar salad. Ingredients: onion, oregano, thyme, garlic, black pepper, lamb loin chops, light Caesar salad kit.
  • Tossed salad topped with diced leftover pork tenderloin, low fat yoghurt, blueberries.
  • My "Salsa Turkey Cutlets" with black beans and carrots. Ingredients: turkey cutlets, garlicky salsa, Penzeys salt free Arizona Dreaming seasoning blend, Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar, guacamole.
  • Tossed salad topped with tuna, low fat yoghurt, and peaches.
  • Grilled "Marinated Pork Tenderloin" with couscous and green beans. Ingredients: pork tenderloin, low-sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, cinnamon, garlic powder, olive oil, crushed dried onion.
  • "Orange-Roasted Pheasants" with rice and tossed salad. Ingredients: butter, orange peel, salt, pepper, onions, scallions, pheasants. (Kind-of excited about cooking pheasant as I haven't before, but there are two in my freezer I want to eat before they are freezer burnt!)

15 May 2011

Deliciously Simple Pork Tenderloin

Twice now, I've made "Italian Roasted Pork Tenderloin" from Betty Crocker's Low-Carb Lifestyle Cookbook and I'm beginning to think I would be happy cooking it every week -- it's so tasty and yet so simple. Seriously, this succulent pork tenderloin, well-seasoned with garlic and fennel, is easy enough to be a weeknight meal but tastes fancy enough to feed guests if paired with the right sides.

The first time I made "Italian Roasted Pork Tenderloin," I was in clean-out-the-fridge mode and served the pork with garlicky sauteed mushrooms and salad:

Saturday Supper

The second time, I served the tenderloin with cannellini beans cooked in tomato sauce with feta and green beans:

Pork Tenderloin w/ Beans & Beans

13 May 2011

Homemade Spudulike: Tuna & Sweetcorn Mayonnaise

Another week, another spudulike. And, as promised, I went with classic tuna and sweetcorn spudulike. How was it? Pretty darn good!

Homemade Spudulike: Tuna Sweetcorn Mayonnaise

Tuna Sweetcorn Mayonnaise

12 oz solid white albacore tuna, well drained
7 oz low sodium corn, drained
Mayonnaise, to taste
Parsley, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Portion out onto baked potatoes, use as a sandwich filling, spread on crispbread, or serve on a bed of mixed salad greens.
Tuna Sweetcorn Mayonnaise

(This recipe makes enough to fill two large potatoes and spread liberally across six crispbread).

11 May 2011

Spring Steak

My parents grill pretty much year round. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these grillmasters from their perfectly grilled steaks or chicken breasts. While I envy them, neither The Husband nor I are hardy enough to follow their example. No, we grill from May to October and count that a blessedly long season.

Tonight was our inaugural run -- we had our grill hooked up to our home's (emergency generator's) propane tank last autumn so we would never have to fiddle with changing grill tanks ever again. It's awesome. And the steak came out pretty well, too!

Spring Supper

I rubbed our last farmers' market sirloin steak with Penzeys salt-free Arizona Dreaming seasoning blend and let it sit on the kitchen side for about twenty minutes. Then The Husband grilled it for about 10 minutes -- I think 8 minutes would have been better as I like my steak closer to medium-rare and this was medium verging on medium-well. It's a fiddly business, you know, getting steak done right.

Served the steak with Dijon roasted asparagus -- tossed asparagus garlic, grape tomatoes, Dijon mustard and fresh ground black pepper then roasted it at 425°F for about 13 minutes. Delicious and heavily inspired by the recipe for "Asparagus Sauteed in Butter and Mustard" from Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad.

Also served the steak with Knorr Pasta Sides "Beef" flavor (made without butter) as I was just too lazy to make the rosemary-white bean mash!

09 May 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 9 May

No cookbooks this week. Just me, poking around the kitchen, going hmmm ...

(Which is not to say I didn't bring any cookbooks home from the library recently, just that I'm not currently cooking from any of them).

  • Home-made tuna & sweetcorn spudulike. Ingredients: baked potato, low-sodium tuna, low-sodium sweetcorn, parsley, black pepper, light mayonnaise, and shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar.
  • Tossed salad with tuna-and-sweetcorn salad (leftover spudulike filling) on crispbread.
  • Farmers' market sirloin steak, marinated & grilled, with garlicky asparagus and rosemary-white bean mash. Ingredients: steak, red wine marinade, asparagus, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, cannellini, rosemary.
  • Tossed salad topped with thin slices of leftover steak, plus cottage cheese and blueberries.
  • Grilled marinated pork tenderloin, green beans, rice. Ingredients: pork tenderloin, Penzeys Greek seasoning blend, olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic, black pepper, green beans, low sodium chicken broth, brown rice.
  • Fried clam strips, sweet potato fries, and a raspberry shake at the burger shack down the street, now that it's open for the season.

07 May 2011

Homemade Spudulike: Olé

There's a fast food chain in the the UK called spudulike. They sell baked potatoes stuffed with things like tuna and sweetcorn, baked beans (the proper British kind), coleslaw, egg mayonnaise (egg salad), and chili con carne. As far as I know, there's nothing like it in the US ... which is a bit sad as spudulike is cheap, filling, reasonably wholesome, and makes my tummy happy.

Until I saw the recipe for "Olé Salsa Potatoes" in Pillsbury Fast & Healthy, it never occurred to me I could make spudulike at home. I mean, it's not a complicated food! Everyone knows how to bake a potato. Just need to figure out what flavor of stuff you want on top.

Potatoes, Olé

(sadly, cell phone photo does not do it justice)

I microwaved the potatoes and, while they microwaved, prepared the beef filling -- just cooked very lean ground beef until browned, then stirred in garlicky salsa and Penzeys salt free Arizona Dreaming. When the potatoes were done and rested, I rolled them around on the counter as the recipe suggested and it really did loosen the potatoes' flesh quite nicely. Then I cut each potato in half and topped the halves with beef mixture, sour cream, and salsa. Next time I might also had a little shredded lettuce and some sliced olives for increased taco-ness.

Anyway, these were very good potatoes, The Husband was amused to eat spudulike off our best china, and I enjoyed the whole experience enough to want to make them again next week ... with tuna and sweetcorn, I think, as that is the best topping ever.

06 May 2011

Salad of Randomness

I had a bunch of odds and ends huddled in the back of the fridge that all needed eating up at the same time. Not knowing what else to do, I made them into a salad.

Empty-the-Fridge Salad

Salad of Randomness

1 generous cup coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
7 diced spicy marinated green olives
5 oz can solid white albacore tuna in water, well drained
2 Tbsp minced red onion
1 Tbsp canola mayonnaise
2 Tbsp light Italian dressing (any vinaigrette might work)
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 generous cups baby spinach leaves

Combine first six ingredients and mix well. Plop on plate or bowl lined with the baby spinach leaves. Season with pepper. Nom!

This was seriously delicious and almost worth buying coleslaw mix for. I've been on a coleslaw kick recently -- not that you'd know, as I haven't been blogging about it!

05 May 2011

Cute, Fast Pasta

I made "Taco Spaghetti" from Better Homes & Garden's Fast Fix Family Favorites for supper on Wednesday as such a a grey, dreary day positively cried out for the comfort of pasta. The spaghetti was quite easy to prepare and very flavorful. The Husband also pronounced it cute and asked if I was going to take a photo of it before we ate -- as he never says such things, I can only presume he was as smitten with it as I.

"Taco Spaghetti"

I made a few changes to BHG's print recipe to healthify the dish and/or make it easier for me to prepare:
  • Whole grain linguine instead of "regular pasta"
  • Lean ground turkey instead of beef
  • Penzeys salt Free Arizona Dreaming instead of taco seasoning mix
  • Low-sodium chicken broth instead of water
  • Cabot's 50% reduced fat Pepper Jack instead of cheddar

The dish is pretty easy to prepare, anyway. Just cook broken (I snapped mine into thirds) noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile, cook the meat and a diced onion until the meat is nicely browned. Stir in broth and seasoning, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 2 minutes. Stir in pasta, corn, half the shredded cheese, salsa, and chilies.

At this point, you're supposed to transfer the spaghetti to a greased casserole and bake it at 350°F until everything is hot. And I did that this first time around, but I won't next time as it doesn't seem to do anything interesting and stirring everything around in the hot spaghetti pot will heat it through just as well.

I served the spaghetti topped with shredded cheese, bagged shredded lettuce, diced grape tomatoes, garlicky salsa, and sour cream. Again, it was delicious (and cute?!) and I expect to make it again soon.

02 May 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 2 May

Borrowed Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook from the library last week so it should come as no surprise that most of this week's menu was plucked from its pages.

  • "Olé Salsa Potatoes" from Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook with tossed salad. Ingredients: baked potatoes, lean ground turkey, garlicky salsa, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar, light sour cream, Penzeys Bold taco seasoning.
  • Leftover salsa potato with tossed salad.
  • "Southwest Pork & Black Bean Stir-Fry" from Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook over quinoa. Ingredients: pork loin, low-sodium black beans, onion, bell pepper, garlic, corn, zucchini, black bean salsa, quinoa, low-sodium chicken broth.
  • Leftover stir-fry with yoghurt and fruit.
  • Marinated grilled chicken breasts with "Barley, Corn, & Pepper Salad" from Pillsbury Fast & Healthy Cookbook. Ingredients: Penzey's Greek seasoning blend, chicken breasts, lemon juice, black pepper, quick-cooking barley, diced bell peppers, red onion, olive oil, rehydrated cilantro.
  • "Taco Spaghetti" from Better Homes & Garden's Fast Fix Family Favorites with tossed salad. Ingredients: whole grain spaghetti, lean ground turkey, onion, Penzeys Bold taco seasoning, corn with peppers, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar, diced green chilies, shredded lettuce, broken tortilla chips, diced grape tomatoes, light sour cream.