Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu: Feb 21-27

I got some new cookbooks (I got them all for a great price and am loving the new recipes) recently and went through a few to find some new recipes. I made a few of them this past week, amazingly enough. Looking back I realize that I wasn't feeling well the whole week, but managed to make some pretty good meals despite being sick (except for a couple of meals.)  I'm on my way to finally being over this cold and hopefully will be feeling all the way better tomorrow.

I have to tell you, I love having a picture of the finished product in a cookbook. They really help to decide whether I want to make it or not. That is probably one of the reasons I post pictures every week with the menu items. This week however, I was not all with it so the pictures either did not get taken (Avocado Soup) or I did not get a finished product (Sloppy Joes).

Here's the menu:

Monday: Cream of Avocado Soup (my son loved it, but neither Hubby or I enjoyed it a lot.) Somehow I did not end up with a picture of this, but I had a head-cold so it doesn't surprise me!

Tuesday: Feta and Cherry Tomato open omelet

Wednesday: Sloppy Joes

Thursday: Beef Stroganoff (made by my mom)

Friday: Orange Chicken - I made this recipe from Annie's Eats and we loved it! I added 1 Tbsp orange juice concentrate, substituted 3 Tbsp of the White Vinegar with Rice Vinegar, and reduced the brown sugar to 1/3 cup. One final note: if you don't do well with spicy (hot) food, don't add the cayenne pepper (or ground red pepper) to the sauce (you can still add it to the chicken dip.)

Saturday: Frozen Pizza

Sunday: Three Cheese Mac and Cheese I used Veggie Mac Pasta, hence the colors. Although I think my son thought the green ones were green beans!

He ate all the rest except for the green pasta!

Vote for the recipe you want to see next week.  Herb Baked Eggs will be posted on Thursday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Butter Parmesan Herb Pasta

When I was making Pan-Fried Pork Chops a week and a half ago, I decided to make a pasta dish to go with it. I needed it to be quick so I chose Angel Hair Pasta. I love Angel Hair, it is thin and takes less than 10 minute to cook. I also wanted it to be a light dish as I knew the Pork Chops would be heavy enough for the dinner. Sometimes these thoughts in my head turn out a great dish, other times it turns out not so great... but this one hit the spot and we loved it! Luckily I took pictures of all the steps so I remember everything that went into the pasta. The beautiful thing though is that you can use any herbs you want to! I'm going to tell you what I used but feel free to substitute any herbs you may have.
 Butter Parmesan Herb Pasta
 You can get all these ingredients ready while you're cooking the pasta, so put on the pot of water and cook the pasta according to package direction. First, you'll need 2 cloves garlic, minced.
 You'll also need 2-3 Tbsp butter.
 Fresh herbs, so delicious! I used 3 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley, 1 sprig fresh oregano and 1 sprig rosemary.
 Chop them up.
 Once the pasta is cooked, drain. In the pan you cooked the pasta in, melt the butter, add the garlic.
 Cook for 1 minute over medium heat.
 Add the pasta and stir to coat in butter and garlic.
 Toss in the chopped fresh herbs.
 Add 1/2 cup canned parmesan cheese.
 and 1 teaspoon salt.
 Stir to combine.
Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Menu: Feb 14-20

I've been on an unlucky streak lately... let me explain. Saturday I was cooking and burnt my pinky on a cookie sheet (not bad, and a rather small burn, but it still hurt!) Sunday as I was getting my coat (rather in a hurry), which had fallen onto the step of our closet (okay not a greatly organized closet, I admit) a drill (hidden by another jacket) dropped point first onto my foot. OUCH. It still hurts. Monday I woke up sick - I have a head cold ;). Also last night my son hit his head on my lip making it bleed slightly and otherwise just hurt. Today my husband ran over my toes with our car tire as I was putting my son in the car (we have a manual and he killed it just after starting it - he forgot to put his foot on the clutch.) Of course it was not the same foot as the drill hit so I feel like an attacked person! Luckily none of it was bad enough to go to the doctor. The foot that the drill fell on is the worst and has impeded me from exercising as it hurts me to have my foot flexed and to point it as well as move it a lot. It is getting better (translation: I'm not limping anymore.) I still have a head cold and probably will for a couple more days (Hubby had it about a week ago.) I certainly hope your last few days have been better than mine!

Here's our Menu: 
Monday: Ham and Red Pepper sauce Crepes

Tuesday: Chicken Soup (same as Chicken Noodle Soup without the noodles)
Wednesday: Egg Toast
Thursday: Black Bean Burger

Friday: Herb Baked Eggs

Saturday: Tortilla Soup
Sunday: Lime Steaks with Orange Rice & Veggies

Vote for the Recipe you want to see on Thursday! The two recipes that won were: Butter Parmesan Herb Pasta, Cuban Seasoned Pork Chops, I'll be posting one recipe on Thursday and one recipe soon thereafter.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Veggie Lasagna

I have to admit, this is actually the first time I've made lasagna... I've made lasagna roll-ups, but not an actual lasagna. I've always thought that they were too time consuming and too much hassle. Maybe it is also because I use to not be such a huge fan of tomatoes (and all lasagna's I'd had were made with tomatoes, not true with this one). True story, I HATED tomatoes. Growing up whenever we ate fast food and I had a tomato on my sandwich there were always at least 2 offers from family members to take it. It always went to the person who called dibs first...  All that changed when I got pregnant in the fall of 2007 (unfortunately the pregnancy was short-lived to 11 weeks.) I craved food - mainly tomatoes and orange juice with an occasional craving for steak. I was astounded - me the tomato hater actually CRAVING tomatoes. It's a crazy world, I think someone was playing with my head back then ;). Ever since I actually like tomatoes, well mostly... I don't eat them plain. I also don't eat tomato sandwiches like my mom.

However, if you don't like tomatoes, this is a perfect lasagna for you - not a tomato in the whole thing! No meat either which wasn't such a happy finding out for my dad. Although, if someone in your family doesn't think a meal is complete without some sort of meat, you could throw in some ham - either chunks spread out over the cottage cheese mixture or deli ham layered over the noodles. My husband and I actually enjoyed it without the addition of meat and I will be making this again in the future pretty much as is.  One suggestion - I would suggest making sure to have your Mise en place for this dish! There really is a bit of stuff to do (I missed shredding the carrots and cheese until I was at that step, which isn't a huge deal it is just a little annoying to have to take the time to do it when you're in the middle of making the dish.)

 Veggie Lasagna
 First, you'll want to cook your lasagna noodles (cook according to package directions). I had to cook mine in two batches because I don't have a pan big enough to make enough large noodles. I'd suggest cooking 10-12 noodles - you may not use them all, but I cooked 9 and didn't have quite enough for the top layer.
 While the pasta is cooking, we'll get the next two layers ready... First, saute about 1 pound of mushrooms, sliced and 1 large onion, diced (or sliced, it doesn't really matter - it should be about 1 cup) in 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium to medium high heat. Be sure the oil is hot before adding mushrooms and onions.
 While the onion and mushroom are sauteing, mix 2 cups Ricotta cheese (you can use only 1-2/3 cups if you only have a 15 oz carton of ricotta.)
 2 cups small curd Cottage cheese,
 2 Eggs,
 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning,
 in a bowl. Stir until combined.
 Set aside.
 Once the mushrooms and onion are tender, add 4 cloves of crushed garlic. Cook 1 minute more.
 Stir 1/8 cup flour, 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp salt in with the onions and mushrooms.
 Next add 1-1/4 cup milk.
 I guesstimated the milk... close enough ;).
 Add the milk all at once to the pan.
  Let it get warm while sitting in the pan before whisking it.
 Continue to cook and stir until it thickens,
 which does take a few minutes,
 so you'll have to be a little patient.
 It is so tempting to reach down and steal a mushroom from the pan!
 I have to say that if you steal one, you'd probably want another and another, so best not to snitch! Unless you have more self control than I do...
 It's starting to thicken.
 Now it is nice and bubbly. Perfect.
 Once it is bubbly, turn off heat and add the other vegetables.
One 10 oz package of frozen chopped broccoli and One 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach - these both need to be thawed and drained.
 Mix well.
 Also add 1-1/2 cup shredded carrot (about 5-6 medium carrots) and 1 cup Parmesan Cheese. The carrot is best when shredded more finely. The thicker grated carrot doesn't cook completely and is still a little crunchy (how after cooking for 40 minutes I have no idea, but it's true!).
 Mix well. Taste and season with additional salt/pepper if necessary (do not over-salt it though because you will be adding cheese in the layers which gives some salt to the dish).
 Now we're ready to layer!
 In the bottom of a 9x13 pan, layer pasta to completely cover the bottom of the pan. I used half whole wheat and half white (mainly because I didn't have enough whole wheat to do the job and had some white lasagna noodles hanging around.)
 Next, spread 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles.
 Then top that with 1/3 of the veggies to the top of the cottage cheese. I will have to admit, I found it easiest to use my hands to evenly layer the veggies.
 I washed my hands a few times while assembling this lasagna... mainly so I wouldn't get my camera really yucky.
 Then add 1/3 of 8 ounces of grated Mozzarella cheese. 8 ounces grated is 4 cups loose and about 2 cups packed cheese (at least in my testing experience).
 Start the second layer with the noodles again.
 Then half of the remaining cottage mixture
 and half of the remaining veggie mixture,
 as well as half of the remaining grated Mozzarella cheese.
 Now for the last layers - the noodles,
 The remaining cottage cheese mixture (this is where you learn how good you judged the thirds!)
 I had to include the side view!
 Top with the last of the veggies.
 And the last of the Mozzarella cheese. Now, if you're family is as cheese crazy as mine, you'll want to grate a bit more Mozzarella for the top.
 Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan Cheese.
 Looks wonderful, now time to bake!
 Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until cheese starts to turn golden in spots and the whole casserole is warmed through.  I baked mine on a cookie sheet in case it spilled over as it was almost filled to the top!
 Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.

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