Thursday, March 29, 2012

Almond Rice Pilaf

I had planned on having Swai again (at my family's request) and wanted a good side dish. I usually just use a boxed wild rice as a side dish which works. But this week, I wanted something more. Somehow I stumbled upon a recipe for almond rice pilaf, and I knew I had found what I was looking for.

It was fast. Easy. And just the right complement to the meal.

2 cups instant rice (though next time, I think I will just use my favorite regular rice and cook longer)

2 cups chicken broth

chopped onion to taste (I think the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup but I just added what I thought was a good amount, didn't measure at all)

1/2 cup slivered almonds (I just had sliced, so I used that)

1 tbsp butter or margarine (I did use Blue Bonnet Light)

In a saucepan, brown almonds and cook the onion until tender in the butter.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add rice, remove from heat, and let stand for 5-8 minutes.

Fluff with a fork.

I didn't remove mine immediately from the heat after adding the rice, so I burned the very bottom. But it didn't affect the taste at all.

It was a very nice side dish. But really, with almonds, how could you go wrong? :)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pot Roast Pizzaiola

Did I mention I am not a professional photographer? I probably don't need to mention it...

Anywho, once again, I was browsing on Pinterest and saw a picture that caught my eye (and my stomach); obviously these people DO know how to take good food pictures. And I just knew I had to try it.

When I read through the recipe, it sounded very similar to a family recipe we have called "Pizza Steak". That was one of my favorite foods growing up, though I haven't had made it much as an adult for various reasons.

I will say that this recipe, other than the lack of cheese that Pizza Steak has, was equally as good and worked for us.

It is easy.


And good.

I had a thumbs up from all at the table I believe. And at least two went back for more.

That is a success in my book.

Are you ready for this lengthy list of ingredients?

1 yellow onion, chopped (I knew my family would pick them out so I chopped big pieces just for flavor)

4 or 5 pound chuck roast (Mine was 3.6 lbs. Any bigger would NOT have fit in my crockpot. And my crockpot is not really small...)

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I used Prego, a Chunky version with onion, garlic, and tomatoes I think)

Layer in a crockpot: onions, chuck roast, spaghetti sauce.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high 3-5 hours.

I served it with Schwan's Baby Roasted Bakers (lightly seasoned potatoes) and rolls.

I would have made a salad too but we were limited on time.

I made this meal, the family enjoyed it, and I found myself wondering, "Why did this never cross my mind before?"

Simple and easy.

And good.

My favorite combination.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

English Muffin Bread

I have not been very brave in the breadmaking department. The only real experience I have had with yeast other than attempting pizza dough is the yeast I put in the breadmaker...the packet that comes with the breadmaker mix.

But when I saw a recipe on Pinterest for English Muffin Bread, I got brave.

Especially when Jillee, the author of "One Good Thing", promised it was easy.

Since it was spring break, I had a little more time on my hands during the day. I thought that was the perfect time to attempt this recipe.

The only disadvantage I had was that the weather was rainy and cool that day.

I am still not sure the dough rose like it was supposed to. I mean, it did some, but I wonder if it would have done better on a nicer day.

Still, I was VERY happy with the results and will make it again.

I served the bread with a couple of meals this week. I have also been using it for sandwiches. I cut thin slices (the whole counting calories thing) and then added my meat and other toppings. I really like it because it is heavier to me than just regular bread from the store, so I feel full when I finish eating it.

Here is Jillee's recipe; I take NO credit for this. I would encourage you to visit her site (just click on the words "Jillee's recipe") to see really good pictures and tips. The only changes I made were cutting the recipe in half. My mixer is not nearly that big and I only have two bread loaf pans. :)

Ingredients (for a full four loaves rather than two that I made):
5 1/2 cups warm water (I actually followed the yeast instructions as far as temperature range to make sure I did it okay)

3 packages Rapid Rise Yeast (that RAPID RISE part is save you from having to make it rise twice) Oh, and yes, I really used one and a half packages of Rapid Rise yeast when doing mine.

2 tbsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

11 cups flour (you can use bread flour or all purpose...I used bread)

Mix all ingredients together. I used the dough attachment on my mixer. From what I read on Jillee's site (in the comments section), you can even use a spoon to mix.

Spoon mixture into well greased bread loaf pans.

Let the dough rise until it reaches the top of the pans. Mine didn't quite make it to the top, which may have been impatience on my part or the weather. But it got close.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

Return to oven.

Bake for about 10 more minutes, until golden brown.

Allow to cool completely.

It is good stuff.

And best of all, I felt like a success in the bread department for the first time!

Thanks to "One Good Thing by Jillee" for the recipe!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Menu for the Week...

Always subject to change. And it probably will. It usually does.

Sunday: Pot Roast Pizzaiola (new recipe), Cheesy Mashed Potato Bake, Martha Harp rolls, possibly a salad
Monday: Butter Cream Chicken over angel hair pasta (new recipe), carrots/Ranch, Parmesan-Herb Biscuits (new recipe)
Tuesday: Bubble Up Enchiladas
Wednesday: OYON (On Your Own Night)
Thursday: Swai, almond rice pilaf (new recipe), garlic bread, carrots and snap peas and Ranch
Friday: Lasagna in a Bun, chips
Saturday: Grilled pork tenderloin, black eye peas, roasted baby bakers (Schwans), Garlic Cheesy Bread (new recipe)

What are you having this week?


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sour Cream/Panko Chicken

I had a very busy day. Not necessarily productive but busy.

This morning, I (along with three helpful children) made homemade donut holes. We had quite an assembly line. I cut the biscuits into fourths. The four year old rolled them into balls. The 10 year old fried them in a pot of oil (using tongs :) because I hadn't cleaned the Fry Daddy. And the 7 year old added the toppings. The 13 year old just ate them. He is into sleeping in these days.

Anyway, tonight I decided to try a new recipe. I had spotted a recipe (probably via Pinterest) that looked good for Oma's Sour Cream Chicken. It looked like something we would like; I have made some similar recipes but not quite like this. I also had seen a recipe for Parmesan Crusted Chicken. So I played around with the recipes, combining the best of both worlds. Okay, I left out the Parmesan which would be in the best world. I was trying to watch calories today or I would have added them. :)

Chicken breasts or tenderloins (I used about 1.5 lbs of tenderloins)
salt, pepper, garlic powder
8 oz. sour cream (yes, I used light :)
1 cup of Italian Panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp butter cut up

Sidenote: Hubby and I really aren't sure how we went our whole lives without knowing about Panko. They are like "breadcrumbs" but with some crunch.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Put the chicken on a cookie sheet or in a glass dish. I started with the cookie sheet but had trouble with the next step (spreading sour cream) so I switched to a glass dish which contained them better.

Spread the sour cream over the top of the chicken.

Sprinkle the Italian Panko on top.

Place small pieces of butter over the top. (I think next time I might melt it ahead of time to cover more area...)

Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes (that was for tenderloins...I would guess longer for chicken breasts).


It was quite a hit. We had only one small piece left. My four year old downed it like nobody's business.

The best part? It was easy. Quick. Simple. And delicious.

That is my kind of recipe.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oreo Milkshake (a "light" version")

Last weekend, I was really craving a shake. But since I am counting calories, shakes are not on the friendly list. At least not friendly for my waistline. I found a recipe on Pinterest for a lowfat/low cal version. It involved ice, milk, and Oreos. I was so excited...a low calorie shake. Except I didn't like it. Not at all. The texture was really "off" to me. It gave me no feelings of having a shake.

So I browsed Facebook again and found another version. This version had non-fat frozen yogurt. I had a feeling this was more in line with what I wanted in my "shake". And it was. I really enjoyed it. My only issue was that I blended it for too long and got distracted with the dog so it wasn't as creamy as it could have been (a bit more melted :). Next time I will blend with care and vigilance. :)

This recipe came from the Weight Watchers website.

I halved the recipe which supposedly was "2" servings rather than "4". I just poured the whole "2" servings into my glass which is what you see above. Not alot! But still, it gave me a taste of a shake for fewer calories...

1 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt (though chocolate would probably be good too :)
1/4 cup milk (I use 1%)
2 Oreos/chocolate sandwich cookies (I used the No Sugar Oreos just to lower calories a little)

The original recipe also calls for an optional mint extract addition (1/16 tsp) but I opted not to use it. :)

Blend the yogurt and milk together.

Add the Oreos and blend a little longer.



Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Spring Break Menu

Here is my proposed menu for the week. Always subject to change. And, yes, I still cook, even on spring break.

Sunday: Eating out (though I did have the pizza grilled cheese and a strawberry smoothie for lunch)
Monday: Swai fish and wild rice (leftovers)
Tuesday: Braided Spaghetti Bread, Caeser salad
Wednesday: Green Eggs and Ham (it is child 3's week to choose...seriously, this is what she chose!), possibly an English Muffin type of bread (new recipe)
Thursday: Sour Cream Chicken (new recipe), carrots/ranch, rolls
Friday: Hamburgers, Fries
Saturday: On Your Own

Now the trick is going to be getting to the store before the monsoon arrives. :)

What are you having this week?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sweet Potato Chips

The potatoes, sliced and ready to bake
The end result before I ate them up. All of them. :)

Yes, this is the recipe. The recipe I was attempting a couple of weeks ago when I sliced my thumb on the mandolin I was trying for the first time.

And while I was upset I was hurt, I was even more upset that I had to throw out the sweet potato slices I had cut.

I wanted these chips.

I REALLY wanted them.

They just appealed to all of my senses.

The funny thing is I didn't give sweet potatoes the time of day until the past few years.

And even now, I love sweet potato fries or chips. But I don't want anything sweet with them. I want them salty.

So this recipe (found on Pinterest) was PERFECT for me.

But first I had to buy myself a little safety net.
I started with just one sweet potato to make sure I liked them.

I did.

I now have about three more to cut and cook this week.

EASY recipe and yummy. Well, if you like salty sweet potatoes. :)

Sweet potatoes, thinly sliced (I used my mandolin)
peppercorn (freshly ground)
olive oil (I just used an oil mister)

Slice the sweet potatoes

Spread out on a cookie sheet. I think the original recipe suggested a silicone baking mat. I didn't have that. AND I was out of parchment paper which would have been my next choice. So I used aluminum foil.

Spritz with olive oil.

Season liberally with sea salt (freshly ground) and peppercorn (freshly ground).

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Take out and flip. Spritz and season the other side of the chips.

Then bake for another 13 minutes.

Turn off the oven and leave to crisp up.

I didn't follow the time exactly...I got nervous that they would burn. So I turned the oven off a few minutes early.

Mine didn't completely crisp up.

But that didn't stop me from eating all of them.


Oh, a friend suggested sprinkling with Parmesan cheese...I imagine that would be pretty tasty too!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Filet Mignon, Restaurant Style

If you are a vegetarian, you may want to skip this post.

It is about meat.

Delicious meat.

Melt in your mouth meat.

Tender and seasoned meat.

I saw a recipe on Pinterest not long ago for a restaurant style Filet Mignon.

My mouth was watering just looking at the picture.

But as much as we love steak, it isn't something we eat very often. Kinda costly you know.

But this week was Child 2's week to choose a meal.

And guess what she wanted?


So this seemed like a perfect opportunity to try this recipe out.

I even went out and bought my first ever iron cast skillet! Just for this recipe. (I think I will use it for others too...)

I won't type up the recipe because I would feel like a copycat. I mean, I followed the recipe on the website below VERY closely. The only differences? We cooked five filets AND I probably cooked ours a couple minutes too long. Next time I will follow the time guidelines on this site.

I will just say it was amazing.

And we will eat this again.

Except next time we will do it for a date night so we only have to buy two. :)

Here is the recipe.

Oh, we had this with potatoes in white sauce, black eye peas, and cheese stuffed breadsticks.

Did I say how much I loved this meal?

Oh, and the best part...quick.

Quick and yummy.

What could be better than that?


Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Week's Menu

Here is our menu for the week. It is kind of a strange week. Lots of kids' activities and almost spring break, so I didn't have as much to plan. I am happy to report I have already been to the store and everything. So we are ready for the week...though I somehow forgot a loaf of bread and my husband's favorite Peace Tea. (Grocery IQ didn't fail me, I did. :)

Sunday: Steak (new recipe!), Potatoes in White Sauce (not my first choice with steaks but oldest daughter is helping with this meal :), Black Eye Peas, and Cheese Stuffed Breadsticks
Monday: Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, POSSIBLY sweet potato chips if I get them made...wearing my new cut resistant glove that is. :)
Tuesday: On Your Own
Wednesday: Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, bread, salad
Thursday: Chick Fil A Night to support our school
Friday: Parmesan Encrusted Swai fish, wild rice (Yes, we just had it but this is actually JUST for me this time :)
Saturday: Undecided

So...what is for dinner at your house this week?


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lasagna Rolls

It seems like lately I have "seen" lasagna rolls mentioned everywhere. In a book. On a friend's blog. On Pinterest.

I LOVE lasagna, but I just don't make it often. It isn't usually as loved by my family as me. It can be a lot of work. And we usually prefer mostaccioli which is easier and just as tasty.

But when I kept seeing these recipes, I was intrigued. And hungry.

So I decided to make some, using a combination of recipes.

And they were good. I wanted several. But I only ate one (stupid calories).

They were fairly well received by the family. The boys ate them right up, the girls weren't as enthusiastic.

It really wasn't any less work than making lasagna itself.

What I did like though was that I could "customize" them.

Since I am watching calories, I put two in a separate dish (picture two) and just topped with a little spaghetti sauce. For the rest of the family, I baked them in a bigger dish with beef and spaghetti sauce. (picture one)

And I like the idea of making them ahead of time, like on Pillsbury's site. That way on days I need a quick lunch or dinner for me, I could just take them out of the freezer/fridge, pop them in the microwave, and enjoy.

Anyway, here is my version:
8 lasagna noodles
1 12 oz. container ricotta cheese (I am sure the cottage cheese Pillsbury uses is lower fat but I did use the light ricotta...I just like ricotta)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan (using my little rotary grater, love that thing)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup parsley (I am sure fresh is good but I only had dried)
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 pound (or less) ground beef, browned

Cook lasagna noodles according to directions. Drain and let cool slightly.

Mix together cheeses, egg, parsley, and basil.

Spoon mixture down the center of lasagna noodles. Start at end and "roll" the lasagna noodle.

Place in a greased baking dish.

Mix together spaghetti sauce and ground beef.

Pour over lasagna rolls.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

The one thing I didn't do that I would do differently is cover the dish with aluminum foil to help the noodles not covered by sauce not dry out.

The last few minutes, I topped with a little added Mozzarella cheese.

I served them with the rosemary rolls I mentioned in the last post.

Pretty tasty!
(According to Pillsbury's site, you can make them ahead, sans sauce, and refrigerate or freeze them. When ready to eat, place roll seam side down in a bowl and cover with wax paper. Heat in the microwave on high 1-2 minutes, then spoon about 1/4 cup sauce over roll and cook for about 30 more seconds. If frozen, cook on low for 1-2 minutes to thaw then follow the same procedure)

Happy cooking!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rosemary Rolls

Not long ago I was browsing on Pinterest (surprise, surprise...not really) and stumbled upon a recipe for Buttered Rosemary Rolls on the Pioneer Woman's blog.

I thought, "I need to try those."

Well today I starting thinking about what kind of bread to have at dinner. I was making Lasagna Rolls (recipe soon) which just screams "garlic bread" to me. Unfortunately, I had no garlic bread waiting for me in the freezer.

But I did have some frozen Rhodes roll dough (white dinner rolls).

So when I was at home for lunch, I pulled about 7 out and placed them on a dish (actually a skillet) sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

By the time we got home, the rolls had thawed and risen. They looked beautiful.

Except at that point I realized that I wasn't sure the skillet (I don't have an iron skilled) could go into the oven. I do have some that will but wasn't so sure on this one.

So I ended up transferring them to a round pie dish. In the process, they lost some of their "fluff". :(

Live and learn.

Anyway, I used Pioneer Woman's recipe as a guideline but I was determined to have a little taste of garlic...

Rhodes White Dinner Rolls (thawed and "risen")...I used 7.

4 tbsp melted butter (I used Blue Bonnet Light Margarine due to calories sake)

Garlic powder or salt

Sea Salt

Rosemary (fresh, chopped)

Brush the rolls with melted butter.

Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder/salt and rosemary.

Brush one more time with butter.

Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes (or at least that works for the Rhodes rolls).


I really wasn't sure what Rosemary tasted like but now I know.

And I have to say, I LIKE it!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Panko Encrusted Swai

The other day, a parent of a former student posted about her new food blog. The first blog post focused on a fish named Swai.

Ironically, I had seen this fish in a display at our grocery store earlier that week. I had wondered about it but didn't buy it without knowing anything.

After reading my friend's blog post, I decided to grab some the nest time I was at the store.

Today I needed a quick meal due to some other commitments. The fish seemed like a good fit for our dinner.

So early this morning, I took six fillets out of their packages and put them in a pan of cold water on the counter. (This can be done and put in the fridge 24 hours ahead of time also)

Then I started googling.

I didn't have the sauce my friend Karen had mentioned using.

So I checked out other possibilities.

Then I combined those sources to make my own...

By the way, Swai (rhymes with Why?) is a catfish from Vietnam though it doesn't really look like our usual catfish. It is very reasonably priced, is low cal (200 calories with the ingredients I used), and is one of the "least fishy" types of fish I have ever eaten.

I couldn't WAIT to eat some more tomorrow for lunch. Yum, leftovers.

What I didn't count on was the fact that both my boys would race to eat every last morsel.

And they did.


I guess I should just be happy they liked it.

I sure did!

I will make this again.

Panko Encrusted Swai

6-8 Swai fillets thawed (I put it out this morning in a dish of cold water)
olive oil
1/2 cup Panko crumbs (I just use plain)
Italian Seasoning
Parmesan (shredded...I HIGHLY recommend freshly shredded)
sea salt and freshly ground peppercorns

Line a cookie sheet with Parchment Paper.

Brush both sides of each fillet with olive oil.

Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I did a good job with this. I was SOOO thirsty by the end of the evening. I also added Italian seasoning. Just a few good sprinkles here and there.

Shred Parmesan and sprinkle over one side of chicken.

Spread Panko crumbs over the top.

I also "misted" them with olive oil to help the fish brown.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-20 minutes.

Like I said, they were a huge hit.

I will be making them again.

Next time, hubby wants to sear them first for a little crispness, then bake them.


PS About 200 calories a serving. :)

Weekly Menu, Minus a Thumb

I could not WAIT to share a recipe (had I liked it) for sweet potato chips. Except when I tried to make it this past week, I had a tussle with the mandolin while making the chips, and I lost. Really. I have a nicely bandaged thumb. I have done little cooking since (more due to our schedule than anything). I had one night of self-pity (mainly due to the throbbing pain), but now I am adjusting. Like using my left thumb to type on the space bar...

Anyway, I am thinking ahead. Here is my menu (proposed) for the week:

Saturday- Panko Encrusted Swai, wild rice, carrots and Ranch, and Rosemary rolls
Sunday- Baked Potato Soup, French bread
Monday- On Your Own night (school performance)
Tuesday- Lasagna Roll Ups (new recipe I keep trying to make and get interrupted), garlic bread, possibly a salad
Wednesday- On Your Own night
Thursday-Chuck Roast BarBQ sandwiches, sweet potato fries or chips...if I attempt them again :)
Friday-Bubble Up Enchiladas
Saturday-Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken, Fried Rice

We are also having a dessert, courtesy of Child 1. Not sure what yet...

What are you having this week?

And my new motto for the kitchen: Be safe in there. (Protect your hands...)