Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Menu...No Foolin'

I am still around.  Still cooking.  In fact, I feel like I cook all of the time.  Even my "on your own nights" usually involve some kind of cooking such as restocking the pear sauce in the fridge or baking a couple of loaves of homemade sandwich bread.  I guess this week I just didn't make as many new recipes.  (Unless you count the homemade "Peeps". :)

Anyway, here is the menu for the week.  I am excited about the foods but may be worn out by next Friday from all of the baking. What was I thinking?

Easter Sunday (today): 
Breakfast- Overnight Coffeecake (always a favorite around here)
Dinner- Ham, Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, 7 Layer Salad, Black-eye Peas, Yeast Rolls

Monday/April Fool's Day:
Breakfast Burritos (new), fruit

Mostaciolli (an oldie but goodie), "Killer" Garlic Bread (made with homemade French Bread), Caesar Salad

On Your Own Night

Breakfast- Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chip Muffins
Dinner- Sub Sandwiches (using homemade "sub" recipe), fruit, chips

Pizza Bread (made on homemade ciabatta)

Key West Chicken and Shrimp Kabobs, Almond rice, Garlic/Butter Rhodes loaf, Carrots/Ranch
Dessert- Chocolate Buttermilk Pie (new recipe)


What is for dinner at your house this week?

Hope you had a happy Easter!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Smashed Potatoes

The other night we ate "glazed" pork chops (good flavor but mine did NOT glaze properly).  I wanted a good potato dish to go with it.  So I turned to my Taters and Spuds folder on Pinterest and searched for just the right recipe. Lo and behold, this recipe popped out to me. 

So I made them.

And loved them.

I could have eaten the whole dish.

I don't think I have ever met a potato that I didn't love.

Anyway, this was fairly easy and full of good taste. And it complemented the pork chop nicely.

We will be having these again!

2 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean (I used Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes...they were just the right size)

Olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

3 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 cup parsley minced (which is about 1/4 cup)...I never actually measure. I just cut with kitchen shears until it looks like enough :)

zest of a lemon (I did not add very much and it was pretty strong "lemon" tasting)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Boil potatoes in water until tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400.

Remove potatoes from stovetop and drain/dry.

Sprinkle olive oil on a cookie sheet (I actually just used a glass baking dish).  Okay, I totally forgot to spread the oil first and did so after the fact. Thankfully, I didn't have much problems with sticking. Oops!

Place potatoes on the cookie sheet/baking dish in a single layer.  Flatten the potatoes (smash them) with a meat tenderizer or the bottom of a glass.  That was kind of fun. :)

Drizzle more olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 30 minutes, flipping once during the process.

I actually didn't have time to do it for 30 and did NOT flip them at all and they worked just fine.

Toward the end of the baking time, mix together the garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. 

After removing the potatoes from the oven, stir the parsley/cheese mixture in with the potatoes. I went ahead and topped with a little more Parmesan cheese because who doesn't want more Parmesan??? :)



Friday, March 22, 2013

Parker House Rolls

Not great pictures.

Sorry about that.

We were SOOOOO ready to eat some dinner, I was taking pictures on the go.


I will say that if you can get past the really bad pictures, this is an awesome recipe.

One of my favorite roll recipes to date.

In fact, probably in the top 3.

Right along with the cheese stuffed rolls and the yeast rolls.  (I have French bread in a category all on its own...)

And why shouldn't it be good?

It has a stick and a half of butter in it. And half a cup of sugar.

Really, it has no choice BUT to be good.

Oh, and if you click on the original link (and if you are a fan of food shows), you will recognize the "author" right away...

Parker House Rolls
1/2 cup warm water

1 packet dry active yeast (I just use about a tablespoon of instant yeast which is what is in my freezer)

1/2 cup sugar (I will admit, I thought that was a typo at first. I have NEVER seen a bread recipe with that much sugar in it!)

7 1/2 to 8 cups all purpose flour (I used my favorite King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose...I think I actually used closer to just 7.  I have learned with doughs and flour to just use a conservative amount and then slowly add to it until it is just right...not too sticky!)

12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled (Okay, I didn't wait for mine to cool really.  And it still worked. That is a stick and a half of butter in case you are wondering...)

2 cups milk at room temperature (again, mine wasn't at room temperature because I didn't plan still worked. The original recipe called for whole. I only had 1%. That worked.)

2 eggs, room temperature (unless you don't plan ahead like me :)

1 Tbsp Kosher salt

Additional softened butter and salt for the finished roll

Add yeast and sugar to warm water in a LARGE bowl.  Stir and give a few minutes to "bloom". I do not check the temperature of the water anymore; I have learned it should feel a lot like bath water. Unless you are like me and prefer really hot water. In my bath, not in the dough.

Add in eggs, milk, and melted butter.  You can use a mixer (and if you do, check out the original recipe for the proper order). I just hand mix. I do wear rubber gloves because of my long fingernails and to keep from having a big mess on my hands...literally.  And when I say hand mix, I actually use my hands to squish it and stir it. 

Add in the flour and salt. Like I said, add in flour conservatively (like 6 cups of flour) and then add additional flour slowly until it reaches the right consistency.

Knead for a few minutes until you form a large ball.

Most recipes call for buttering or oiling a different bowl and putting the dough in there to rise. I already make a big enough mess. I just use the same bowl.  I don't oil or butter it at all. There is usually a little stray flour and that keeps it from sticking. Anyway, cover and put in a warm place (if that is possible when it is snowing outside) to let it rise until doubled. The recommendation was 2+ hours which I did.  It might be shorter but I was I napping so I didn't check.

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 375.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle on a floured surface.  The rectangle should be about 8 x 16.  The dough should be about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Don't use a rolling pan. Just use those trusty hands. :)

From short side to short side, cut the rectangle in half in the middle.  I just don't have knives that work well with dough. I used kitchen shears instead.

Then cut each half into 12 strips. 

Take each strip and fold into thirds.  It is like you are folding it in half but overdo it so you tuck the extra in underneath.  There are pictures on the original recipe (under "pictures") that show this better than I can explain it. :)

Put the roll seam-side down on the baking sheet in three rows (8 in each row). They should be "tightly" packed. 

You don't have to let them rise again but I did give mine a few minutes to rest before I baked them.

What I really like is you can freeze them at this point by covering with plastic wrap.  Then you can pull them out within 3 weeks to cook at a later time. I will definitely do that in the future if I know I won't have time to do the whole rising thing on a given day!

Bake 18-20 minutes at 375.  If doing it from frozen, then bake at 325 for 25 minutes followed by 375 for 10 more minutes.

Brush warm rolls with softened butter and sprinkle with salt (I used freshly ground sea salt for that).


Oh, the bad news? They are 265 calories a roll. 

And that was using 1% milk!

But believe me, they are worth every bit of exercise I did for them. :)

Even Hubby who can be a hard sell on bread loved them. And my picky child 4 (who usually only eats Rhodes rolls) ate 2 of them...

Happy cooking!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hamburger Gravy

It isn't anything fancy.

And the picture doesn't help advertise it at all.

But it was good.

How do I know?

There was NOTHING left.


I try to do "breakfast for dinner" just about every week. But I don't want to do the same thing over and over again.

Recently on Facebook, someone posted about having "hamburger gravy".  I have had it on my mind ever since.

So last night I rolled out some buttermilk biscuits (a first for me...I need more practice in that department).  I fried up some hashbrown potatoes (need to practice that too).  And I made a little hamburger gravy. Basically it is a white sauce (very similar to the starts of baked potato soup) and I added in some browned hamburger meat.  Then we poured it over the biscuits and the potatoes.


It was just right for a cool evening.

(Note: Sausage would be good too...just not everyone in my crew likes sausage)

6 Tbsp butter (I use unsalted)
6 Tbsp flour (all purpose)
3/4 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
3 cups of milk
1 lb ground beef, browned

Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan.

Add flour and salt and stir until smooth and bubbly.

Remove from heat temporarily and add in milk.

Return to heat (I upped it to medium) and stir continuously until thickened.

Add in ground beef when the sauce is thickened as wanted.

It took about 10 minutes for mine to get pretty thick.

The key is to keep stirring so it doesn't burn on the bottom.

Like I said, nothing fancy. But it was good.  Apparently.  Because now it is all gone. :)


Monday, March 18, 2013

Sesame Chicken

I have been in the mood for some "Chinese" food.  And I do love the sweet and sour chicken. But making it can be a little time consuming. And though it is spring break, I have been busy today with other household chores (like baking sandwich bread and organizing the coat closet). 

So I needed easy.

But good.

Well, on Pinterest, I found just the right recipe.

Sesame Chicken.

It looked easy. Had good reviews. Was light in calories. And would partner well with fried rice which we will love to eat around here. 

So sesame chicken it was.

My pickiest eater said, "This is a really good meal even if it isn't sweet and sour chicken."  Trust me, that is a compliment coming from her.

And the chicken? ALL gone.  Nothing left.

There may have actually been a child licking the dish clean.

Yes, really.

I agree with all of the above. It isn't sweet and sour chicken (much milder) but it was good. And with the fried rice, it was an excellent pair.  We will definitely have this again, especially on those nights my time is limited.

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chicken tenderloins cut into chunks

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp whole wheat flour (or whatever flour you prefer...the original recipe called for one but I doubled it since I had closer to 2 pounds of chicken)

1 Tbsp sesame oil (seriously, could anything smell better???)

2 garlic cloves minced

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1/2 cup chicken stock (I used broth since I had that on hand)

sesame seeds (the original recipe used both white and black...I couldn't find black so we just used white)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

The original recipe has you start on the stovetop with a skillet then move it to the oven. I try NOT to put my skillets in the oven if at all possible, so I just stuck a 9 x 13 inch dish in the oven and transferred the chicken to it from the skillet.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet at medium heat.

Meanwhile, put the flour, salt, and pepper in a ziplock bag. Add the chicken to the bag and shake away.

Place the chicken in the hot skillet and sear on each side of the chicken for about 3 minutes each side.

Meanwhile, mix together the sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and chicken stock.

Once the chicken is browned, transfer to the hot dish (or keep in the skillet) and pour the chicken stock mixture over the top.

Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

Once cooked through, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and serve.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Middle of the Month Menus

It isn't that I am not cooking. I just haven't cooked a lot of new items lately. Or if they were, they weren't necessarily recipes I wanted to remember. :) Not bad, just not great. I typically don't share unless I really like it or my family really likes it.

And lately with the time change and my allergies/sinus issues, I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. And I do. Often. :)

Anyway, here is the menu for last week and this coming week. I even have the week after that planned, so I might as well share that too.

And the good news (well, for me anyway) is spring break this week!  That means I will have a little more time during the day to try out some new recipes.  I can't wait!

Week of March 10
Sunday- Pork and Rice, homemade rolls
Monday- Baked Potato Soup, rosemary bread (will share was really good)
Tuesday- Breakfast for dinner:  waffles and bacon, smoothies (strawberry for me, watermelon slush for kids)
Wednesday- On your Own Night (date night for the grown ups. :)
ThursdayPoppyseed Chicken, wild rice/white rice mix, carrots/Ranch, Rhodes rolls
Friday- Out and About (Child 2 and I ate out since we were out of town for a volleyball tournament, and the rest of the crew went to a baseball game)
Saturday- tacos, chips and salsa, refried beans

Week of March 17
Sunday- Dinner Out (a rare treat as a family)
Monday- Sesame Chicken (new recipe), fried rice
Tuesday- Hamburger gravy with buttermilk biscuits (new recipe), hashbrown potatoes, fruit
Wednesday- On Your Own
Thursday- Chicken/Bacon/Wild Rice Soup, herb and cheese focaccia bread (new recipe), chocolate buttermilk pie for dessert (new recipe)
Friday- Homemade Pizza (some meat, some four cheese)
Saturday- Glazed pork chops (new recipe), smashed potatoes (new recipe), parkerhouse rolls (new recipe), black eye peas

Week of March 24
Sunday- Sloppy Joes (homemade sauce and buns), fries (new recipe)
Monday- Shrimp/Chicken Pad Thai
Tuesday-Sausage and Potatoes, cheese stuffed rolls, salad
Wednesday- On Your Own Night
Thursday- Crockpot Swiss Chicken and Stuffing (a kind of new recipe...I never blogged about it before), rolls or bread of some sort

Friday- Out?

Saturday- Braided spaghetti bread, salad

There you have it.

We are set.


What is for dinner at your house this week? Or last week? Or next week? :)


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I saw this recipe (or rather the pictures from it which are MUCH nicer than my pictures) on Pinterest and decided we just really needed to try it.

So finally last week, we did.

And I really liked it. 

It was good stuff. :)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed (or in my case, minced)

6 boneless chicken breasts

1 jar of tomato sauce (or in our case, a jar of homemade non-tomato sauce)

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded

Croutons (the original recipe called for a whole package...I didn't use that many. I think I am too cheap :)

Pre-heat the oven at 350.

Spread the olive oil over the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Sprinkle the crushed garlic over the olive oil.

Place chicken on top of garlic.

Sprinkle the chicken with half of the chopped basil.

Top with the tomato sauce (or in my case, the non-tomato sauce :).  Sprinkle remaining chopped basil.

Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Sprinkle croutons over the cheese.

Then top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 35-45 minutes.



Sunday, March 3, 2013


Can you believe it is March???

February was a really busy month for cooking; I anticipate March will be too.  I have had a lot of fun trying new recipes and learning about what I can make ahead of time (and freeze).  I am also still working on eating on a budget.  We still need to work on it but we are getting there.

I have a yummy bread recipe to post from last night's dinner but I thought I would go ahead and post the menu for last week and this week (always a step behind where I should be...), so I will save the bread recipe for tomorrow. Looking at the last few posts, it looks like we only eat breads these days.  Not really, but it does look that way. :)

Menu for the week of February 24:
Sunday (24th)- Dinner date with the hubs!  (The kids had chicken nuggets with their grandparents :)
Monday (25th)- Chili with cheesy cornbread waffles (I need to post that recipe...YUM)
Tuesday (26th)- Teriyaki chicken over rice, carrots/ranch, yeast rolls
Wednesday (27th)- On Your Own Night
Thursday (28th)- Ham and Cheese "sliders" (made my own Hawaiian rolls this time!), chips, fruit
Friday (1st)- Pizza night (out)
Saturday (2nd)- Chicken-n-dumplins, cheesy bread (new recipe), salad

Menu for the week of March 3rd-
 Sunday (3rd)- Korean beef over rice, leftover rolls/bread, leftover salad
Monday (4th)-Panko encrusted Swai, angel hair pasta, cole slaw, "killer" garlic bread (new recipe)
Tuesday (5th)- French Dip (trying a new recipe), sweet potato fries (new recipe)
Wednesday (6th)- On Your Own night
Thursday (7th)- Chicken Parmesan (new recipe), pasta, breadsticks (new recipe), carrots/Ranch
Friday (8th)- Bubble Up Enchiladas
Saturday (9th)- Shakes and Popcorn/Movie Night

We also had homemade brownies, banana nut bread, homemade donuts (new recipe), and sandwiches for lunches on homemade bread.  We will probably be having some cinnamon swirl bread later this week for breakfast; I have a loaf frozen, ready to heat up. 

What is for dinner at your house?