Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Once-A-Week Shopping

Does anyone really do this?

I'm not one of those people who only shops
for groceries once a week.  I understand the convenience
factor but it's just not something that appeals to me.
Probably because I don't see grocery shopping
as a chore.  I actually really enjoy it!

Besides, I don't want to plan Thursday night's dinner on Monday.
I make multiple trips to the store every week.  Along with
whatever we need for the kids, the house, the cat, etc., I also
pick up the ingredients needed to prepare meals for the next
day or two.  I can sometimes stretch it to three if I'm
really planning ahead.

Today I will be shopping for dinner ingredients for tonight
and tomorrow.  This is the planned menu:

Tonight:

Egg Drop Soup
Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
White Rice or Udon Noodles

and Chewy Coconut Cookies for dessert!

Wednesday:

Spinach Enchiladas
Fried Mexican Corn
Black Bean and Salsa Soup


I'll be back for more shopping on Thursday.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Easy Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches

Tonight's menu consists of barbeque chicken sandwiches,
grilled potato salad, and fried pickles with a side
of spicy ranch dipping sauce.

These sandwiches are so easy it's almost embarrassing.

All you need is a slow cooker and these five ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12oz. bottle barbeque sauce (We like Stubb's Original)
1/2c. Italian dressing
1/4c. brown sugar, packed
2 TBSP Worchestershire sauce

1.  Arrange the chicken in a slow cooker.

2.  In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients
and pour over chicken.

3.  Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

4.  Using two forks, shred chicken breasts.

5.  Pile onto toasted Kaiser rolls and serve.
(I like to add a little butter and garlic salt
to the rolls prior to toasting.)
I've tried other barbeque chicken recipes
but hubby says he likes this one the best!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Family Favorite

So, last night's dinner was so good
that I'm still congratulating myself on it today.

I made Alton Brown's recipe for Shepherd's Pie

and paired it with Emeril's Rosemary Biscuits.

The flavor combination was fabulous!
I was fairly neutral on my overall expectations for this
meal though as I have never been a big fan of shepherd's pie.

The only reason I decided to try it is because hubby
and I had recently been at this little British restaurant
where we were told, "we're known for our shepherd's pie". 

He ordered it and we were not impressed.  It was very
bland and kind of reminded me of cafeteria food.
I was convinced I could do better. 
And I did - with some help from Alton.
The only modification I made to his recipe
was using ground beef instead of lamb. 

I had expected to have leftovers but the meal
was so amazingly good that we all went back for seconds.

I didn't even get a photo because I really just
wanted to get on with the eating. :) 
I'll take a picture next time.  There is no
doubt I will be making this meal again.
This guy is rapidly becoming one of my favorite chefs!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Italian Garlic Butter

Garlic, butter...what else do you need, right?

Add in a little Italian seasoning and you have
a delicious compliment to the bread at the
dinner table.

This is all you need:

1 1/2 sticks real butter, softened
4 cloves garlic, minced
Italian seasoning, to taste

Mix everything together and stick it in fridge
until it's time to eat.
Easy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sensational Stuffed Peppers

My husband and I both have childhood memories of eating
bell peppers stuffed with ground beef and tomato sauce. 
Nothing wrong with that but it's a little bland for our
current tastes and I am convinced there are better ways. 

Last night I made Emeril's version and it was fantastic! 
The peppers are stuffed with pork sausage, celery, onions, rice,
yummy spices....and not a single tomato!

We all agreed these are the best stuffed peppers I've made so far:

1/2 lb. bulk pork breakfast sausage, crumbled

1c. onions, chopped

1/2c. bell peppers, chopped 

1/2c. celery, chopped

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1 1/2c. long-grain rice, cooked 

1/4c. green onions, chopped 

3 TBSP parsley, chopped 

4 medium bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed

1/4c. dried fine bread crumbs (I seasoned mine with garlic
powder, oregano, and Essence)

1/4c. freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 tsp. Emeril's Original Essence

1.  Preheat the oven to 400* Brown the sausage in a dry skillet
over medium-high heat.

2.  Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, and cayenne.
Cook, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted.

3.  Add the rice and mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes.

4.  Remove from the heat and add the green onions and parsley.
Mix again.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the bell peppers.

6.  Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and sprinkle evenly
over the tops of the bell peppers.

7.  Place the peppers in a shallow pan and add just enough water
to cover the bottom. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until
the tops are crusty and brown.

8.  Top with extra Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Served with Fuji apple slices and French bread.
The apples are a great contrast to the spiciness
of the peppers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Best Baked Potato

I realize alot of people like to just nuke their potatoes
and be done with it but I am completely convinced
there is no better baked potato than one made the
old-fashioned way - in the oven.

When people say they can't be bothered to actually bake
their potatoes, I really don't understand that.

It really does make a difference!  My husband used to
never eat the skin off russett potatoes until I
quit throwing them in the microwave and started
baking them in the oven.  The skin has a better texture
than what you get from using the microwave.

Here's the way I do it:

1.  Scrub potatoes and prick holes all around with a fork.

2.  Lightly cover with olive oil.

3.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

4. Bake at 385* for about an hour, or until done.
Yum!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Garlic Soup

Last night's dinner consisted of balsamic chicken over couscous,
sauteed asparagus, and garlic soup.

Everything was delicious but it was the garlic soup
that really stood out.

My guys all went back for seconds and there were no leftovers!

I've tried a few garlic soup recipes in the past but there were always
comments about how this or that could have made the soup better.

So, this is the way I now make garlic soup:

2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/4c. chopped onions
14 whole cloves garlic (not bulbs!)
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8c. chicken broth
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1/2c. heavy cream
1/3c. grated Parmesan

1.  Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.

2.  Add red pepper flakes, onions, garlic cloves, bay leaves,
and pepper.

3.  Saute until onions are caramelized.

4.  Add chicken broth, minced garlic, basil, and thyme.

5.  Boil then simmer on low for about 45 minutes.

6.  Increase heat to high and whisk in cream and Parmesan.

7.  Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender.

8.  Serve hot.
The aromas that fill the kitchen as this soup is simmering are amazing!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Kitchen Gadget!

I've made several soups stews, and chilis that call for blending all
or part of the ingredients after simmering and before serving.

I would just ladle out the amount needed, dump it in the blender,
puree away, and then pour it back in the pot.  This actually works
just fine but today I decided I *needed* an immersion blender
for the new garlic soup I'm serving at dinner tonight.  

I'll post the recipe tomorrow if it's as amazing as I
think it's going to be.

If you're unfamiliar with this gadget, an immersion blender is just
what it sounds like - it's a hand-held blender you immerse in
whatever you're wanting to blend.  This saves the whole step of
transferring back and forth from the blender.

There are fancier and more expensive immersion blenders out
there but I went with this one.
The price was right: $20 at Wal-Mart.
Plus, I've read alot of good reviews online.

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