Sunday, March 16, 2014

Meal Plan Sunday

79 hours. That's how many hours I was physically at work this week. 

I'm throwing it out there not to get into an "I worked harder than you" competition with anyone, or even really complain because it's been worthwhile work, but just to offer an easy explanation from my absence around here :) 

Though I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'm exhausted.

I suspect that many of us are exhausted by dinnertime everyday so I tried to gather up easy and healthy meals to inspire you in your menu planning. 

Happy planning!

Monday - St Patrick's Day!

Serve with: tossed green salad & garlic bread




Saturday Breakfast

Saturday CROCKPOT Dinner
Serve with: Chips & Salsa

Serve with: Roasted Green Beans & Steamed White Rice

Weekly Treats

Monday, March 10, 2014

Baba Ganoush (Secret Recipe Club)

There is a local Lebanese owned restaurant that we have fallen in love with. And without fail, we order baba ganoush every single time as an appetizer. I'm not a huge eggplant person but I absolutely LOVE it used in this classic Arabic dish. The eggplant is smoky, the dip is creamy, and it's perfect with warm pita bread. Believe it or not, I've never made it at home!

I've been on the waiting list to join Secret Recipe Club for quite awhile and this is my first month to participate. Each month, I'm assigned another food blogger to choose and make a recipe from. On reveal day, I find out who made something of mine, my assigned blogger can see what I made of hers, and you have the opportunity to see a slew of other great recipes from around the blogosphere.

This month I was assigned Ya Salam Cooking, where Noor shares {mostly} Saudi recipes. Let me tell you, I had a really really difficult time figuring out what to make. Just flipping through her archives made me incredibly hungry! You will probably see many more recipes of hers in the days to come because I bookmarked a ton.

Since I knew we'd both devour a bowl of baba ganoush, and I hadn't tried it at home before, I chose to try out her version. It tasted just as good - if not better - than our favorite restaurant version and was so easy to make at home! Not to mention cheaper :)

And yes, this bowl was gone in less than 20 minutes. Since it's got eggplant in it, I figure it counts as a serving of vegetable... right?

We are all about the carbs but you could also use cut veggies to dip with! 

Baba Ganoush
1 large eggplant
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil + more for topping
pita bread or veggies for dipping

Preheat oven to 350. With a fork, pierce the eggplant all over before placing on a baking sheet. Bake for 1.5 hours, turning often. When it's finished a knife should go through it easily.

Remove from oven, let cool, and then discard the peel. In a large bowl, mash the pulp with a fork. In another bowl, combine the garlic paste, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, tahini, and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Mix well.

Add the mixture to the mashed eggplant and mix well. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil.

Source: Ya Salam Cooking

Secret Recipe Club

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meal Plan Sunday

It's week two of my Meal Plan Sunday menu ideas! I hope these bring some inspiration to your weekly grocery shopping trip :)

Each Sunday I'll share 7 dinners, 1 weekend breakfast, and 2 sweet treats to make. 

Happy planning!

Serve with: Pita Chips & Storebought Hummus

Serve with: Green Salad & Garlic Bread

from Pinch of Yum

Serve with: Lemon Rosemary Coconut Oil Veggies & Baked Potatoes

Serve with: White Steamed Rice

Saturday Breakfast
from Lil Luna
Serve with: Bacon or Sausage and Scrambled Eggs

Saturday CROCKPOT Dinner
from Healthy. Delicious.


Weekly Treats

from Eat Cake for Dinner

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Crispy Swiss Cheese Chicken with Creamy Egg Noodles

WOW, life is crazy right now! I've taken on a ton of new responsibilities at work that have left me working an insane amount of hours. So much that this night owl has been in bed asleep before 9pm every night this week!

Unfortunately, it also means that the blog & my favorite hobby {cooking} has taken a backseat.

I'm still going to be posting recipes but there may not be as many as I normally share until my load lightens. Social media, responding to comments/emails, and comments on others blogs will also be few and far between. :(

When life is nuts, you often crave anything that brings comfort. And this dish is all about comfort. Egg noodles = comfort. Creamy sauces = comfort. Crispy baked chicken = comfort. It's perfect for a cold winter's day but I'd totally dig into it year round. The Swiss cheese is the star here so don't put it on the menu if unless you love it. Which I do. And thankfully Jason does too.

The instructions look long - I promise this is weeknight friendly and really not complicated!

Crispy Swiss Cheese Chicken with Creamy Egg Noodles
For the chicken:
1 cup panko
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten with fork
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
salt and pepper
4 slices Swiss cheese*

For the noodles:
8 ounces egg noodles
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup freshly shredded Swiss cheese*
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

*Buy an 8 ounce piece of Swiss cheese; shred half and slice half. It's cheaper!

In a shallow dish, mix together the panko and bread crumbs. In another shallow dish, add the flour. Add the eggs to a third shallow dish.

Preheat oven to 400.

Pour half the melted butter in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish and swirl it around to coat. Pound the chicken to 1 inch thickness. (I usually put the chicken piece on a cutting board, cover it with plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet.) Season each piece well with salt and pepper.

Dredge each chicken piece in the flour, then the egg, and finally the panko crumbs until well coated. Place each breaded piece in the prepared pan.

Drizzle the remaining melted butter over top the chicken and bake until cooked through, 20-25 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 165-175 degrees. 

Meanwhile, make the noodles. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain well.

In a medium saucepan, add the cream, broth, and mustard. Whisk and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and add the shredded Swiss cheese and cream cheese. Stir until melted.

Add the cooked drained noodles to the sauce along with a tablespoon of butter. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. 

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the oven and turn the broiler on high. Cover each piece of chicken with a slice of Swiss cheese. Broil until melted and bubbly.

Serve the chicken pieces over egg noodles and garnish with parsley. 

Source: slightly adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Monday, March 3, 2014

Crockpot Dr Pepper Pulled Pork Nachos

You know in Texas, we think anything can be turned into a nacho.

And it's mostly true - I'd eat just about anything piled on a tortilla chip!

Have you had BBQ nachos? Y'all... it's like the greatness of Texas BBQ combined with the greatness of Tex Mex. Now that we're in the lovely state of North Carolina, pork BBQ rules our world. Sure, a real pulled pork isn't going to come from your crockpot but us regular people aren't typically smoking whole pigs in the backyard on a weekday.

{and if you are, please invite me over!}

These nachos are so simple it's ridiculous. And, since it's a build-your-own dish, it's perfect for a crowd! This makes a TON of pulled pork - especially if you're using it for nachos. If you're only a family of two like us, throw half in the freezer and make sandwiches out of it a couple weeks later!

You could use another brand of coke/cola/soda but this Texan always reaches for the Dr. Pepper!

Crockpot Dr Pepper Pulled Pork Nachos
For the pork:
3-4 pounds boneless pork roast
2 cans Dr Pepper
1 cup brown sugar, divided
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1.5 cups barbecue sauce

For the nachos:
tortilla chips
additional barbecue sauce
sour cream (mix it with a few squeezes of lime juice to kick it up!)
sliced jalapenos
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Place the pork in your crockpot and pour both cans of Dr Pepper over top. Add half the brown sugar to the Dr Pepper in the bottom and swish it together. Spread the remaining brown sugar over top of the pork. Salt and pepper it well.

Put the lid on and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until it easily shreds with a fork.

Once finished, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked pork to a large non-stick skillet. Heat over medium high heat, add 1/4 of the remaining liquid in the crockpot, and shred the meat with two forks. Add the minced garlic and barbecue sauce. Continue shredding and mixing the meat with the sauce until well blended and hot throughout. 

Spread chips on a plate and layer shredded pork, cheese, sour cream, additional barbecue sauce, and jalapenos over top each one. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Cravings of a Lunatic

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Meal Plan Sunday (a new blog series!)

How many of us dread the meal planning aspect of the weekly grocery trip?

I know some families have 8-10 meals that they rotate through on a regular basis but that seems so boring! There are just way too many great meals out there to just stick with 10.

For those of you who struggle with meal plan inspiration, I hope this new blog series helps! Each Sunday, I'll share a suggested meal plan for the week - maybe you'll find inspiration, maybe you'll find a new recipe to try, or maybe you'll just find it entertaining.

7 nights of dinners, 1 weekend breakfast, and 2 treats.

Happy planning!

Serve with: Green Salad

Fat Tuesday
from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
Serve with: Bacon or Sausage

Serve with: Green Salad and Garlic Bread

from Very Culinary
Serve with: Steamed White Rice and Frozen Eggrolls

Serve with: Skinny Oven Fries

 Saturday Breakfast
from The Texan New Yorker

Saturday CROCKPOT Dinner
Serve with: Mexican Rice, Tortilla Chips & Salsa

Serve with: Turkey & Swiss Sandwiches

Weekly Treats

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Red Beans and Rice Soup

Have you been to New Orleans?

We spent a long weekend there many years ago and absolutely loved it! The culture, food, and hospitality is so unique compared to other parts of our country.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I've never attended any of the Mardi Gras festivities in The Crescent City but have heard many stories from people who live there or visit there during that time of year. Mardi Gras is right around the corner so I'm sure NOLA is already preparing for a good time of celebration!

We've all benefited from the unique cuisine that was born out of NOLA and one of the most popular dishes is, of course, red beans and rice. This soup is an easy, one pot twist on the traditional red beans and rice recipe - and we both loved it! It's hearty enough for a meal but the whole thing is made in your dutch oven on the stove top. Perfect for a busy weeknight!

If you aren't planning on a pancake supper on Fat Tuesday, make a pot of this instead!

Red Beans and Rice Soup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned on both sides, stirring frequently. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and half of the Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, broth, kidney beans, and remaining Cajun seasoning. Return the sausage to the pot and bring to a boil. Place the rice in a small mesh strainer and run cold water over it until it runs clear, about 30 seconds. Add the rice to the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until the rice is cooked, about 35-40 minutes. 

Season with salt and pepper before serving. 

See Aimee Cook

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