Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The most pitiful menu plan yet

I almost skipped this week. Cause, y'all. This is pitiful. But, in the spirit of transperency and honesty (and being able to look back and know what we survived!), I thought I'd throw it out there. Before my sweet baby was born 3 months ago, I found a great deal on ground beef. So, I stockpiled 17 pounds. As well as a month of pre-cooked meals. Then, we had friends bring us a couple of weeks of suppers. And, my husband's boss sent Omaha steak burgers (in the form of 6 more pounds of ground beef). That's a lot of ground beef.

Shortly after his birth, we made the decision to move, and we've been eating out of the freezer, cause who wants to move all that food? So, we're now at the bitter end. And, let me say, even for this self-proclaimed burger lover, I am TIRED of ground beef. Over it. Dreaming of chicken. About to die if I have to eat any more. TIRED. But, by golly, it's a challenge, and the freezer will not beat me! We can do it!! I have great faith in us.

Fri: pizza with GROUND BEEF. Heaven help us.

Sat: nachos (again with the beef)

Sun: tacos with pintos and BEEF

Mon: spaghetti (yep, you guessed it), salad

Tues: all BEEF hot dogs, slaw, baked beans (busy night)

Wed: cooking class for me; pancakes or quesadillas for the family

Thurs:at the EMC picnic; I am praying for chicken

Fri: salisbury steaks with mushrooms (comical at this point), rice, green beans

Sat: gumbo (and NO ground beef!!)

And, if you are looking for a meal plan with a little less beef, check out orgjunkie's Meal Plan Monday. Sure to find lots of good options over there!

Friday, September 17, 2010


I've mentioned it before, but in my house, tacos are THE beloved food. I get tired of the regular ole' crunchy taco shells with ground beef, though, so in order to keep everyone happy (including me!), I mix it up frequently.

This week, I spotted these sopes at our local grocery store. We used to eat them frequently, but I hadn't seen them in several years, so it was a treat to find them.

They are flat discs, sort of like fat tortillas, with a raised edge.

You pan fry them in a tiny bit of oil, until the edges are crisp and brown. Then, I topped with cheese. It would be good with beans, but my nursling hates beans, so I've sworn off them for a few months. But, if you have no nursling, try the beans.

On top of that, I added some carnita meat (just slow cooked pork butt, crisped in a cast iron skillet). But, they are versatile, just like tortillas. Add whatever you like.

And topped with tons of fresh pico de gallo. One of my favorite tastes of summer.

Only one thing left! Dig in! These were so good. If you see them in your grocery store (on the bread aisle, next to the tortillas), definitely try them.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Macaroni Salad

Last week, our neighbors had us over for a potluck. With three families, we had 6 small children under the age of 4. It was a rousing good time, and everyone was done and ready for bed by 8pm. We were all laughing at our "late night".
One of my neighbors made burgers, another made dessert, and I brought the side dish. This was very simple, but turned out well. Mike and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day, and it was even better then.

Pasta Salad
1 lb box pasta, cooked and drained
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bottle Good Seasons Italian dressing, made by the package directions

Mix, chill, enjoy. Couldn't be easier!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fish a la Veracruz

This was an ordinary weeknight supper that just turned out so very well. Don't you love easy meals that are fabulous? They are the best.

Several months ago, my husband won a certain amount of money from Omaha steaks in a promotion at work. He always lets me spend all his money (and that's why I love him!), so I started looking through the options, and I picked fish. I'm awful at cooking fish, mostly because we have it so very rarely. And, when we do have it, it's hard to get brave and experiment, because you're thinking "$10 a pound!" the whole time, you know? So, these 4 boxes of fish have really let me experiment some, which is great.

Sadly, this was our next to last meal of the fish. I keep telling him that he needs to convince work to do another fish promotion. Even without the free fish, this is a repeater. I'll just hunt down a sale. It's worth it.

This is a two part recipe. First you make this sauce with tomatoes and olives and capers and parsley. And you smell it in and sneak a taste. Yum!

And, then you bake the fish in the sauce. And your family swoons over it. And you know that it's a good one.

Fish a la Veracruzana
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexico One Plate at a Time
serves 2; can be easily doubled

3/4 pounds boneless, skinless meaty fish fillets like red snapper or halibut, preferably in 2 pieces each 1/2 inch thick
Freshly squeezed lime juice and a little salt

1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably part olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pounds (2 medium-large) ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
10 meaty green olives, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers
2 medium pickled chiles jalapenos (I used fresh this time; either is good)
1 tablespoon pickling juices from the chiles
1 teaspoons mixed dried herbs (such as marjoram and thyme)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus a few sprigs of garnish
3 bay leaves
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, very coarsely ground
1 cup light-flavored fish broth, bottled clam juice or water
Salt, if necessary

The fish: Rinse the fillets, lay them in a noncorrosive dish and sprinkle them with lime juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate about an hour.

The sauce: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 7 or 8 minutes. Add the garlic to the lightly browned onion and stir for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes and their juice. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Divide the olives and capers between two small bowls, and set aside one to use as garnish. To the other bowl, add the jalapenoes, pickling juice, mixed herbs and chopped parsley.

When the tomatoes are ready, add the mixture of pickled things, herbs and spices, along with the fish broth (or clam juice or water). Cover and simmer ten minutes, then taste for salt (and remove the cheesecloth-wrapped spices).

Finishing the dish: Fifteen minutes before serving, remove the fillets from the refrigerator and rinse them again. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the fillets in a single layer in a lightly greased baking dish. Spoon the sauce over them, cover the aluminum foil and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish just flakes when pressed firmly with a fork at the thickest part.

Serve the fillets on warm dinner plates with lots of sauce, garnished with a sprinkling of the reserved capers and olives and sprig of parsley.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. I always pick up new recipes over there. Each week, I discover someone new. Check it out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meal Plan

Happy birthday to my sweet brother Jon today! As a child, I always wondered how my mom always knew when it was her siblings' birthdays. And, now, as an adult, I totally understand. When I see September 13th written down, I always think of Jon first. He's had a rough year, but he's come out on top, and I love seeing him bloom where he's planted. He's fun to be around, I love living vicariously through his vacations and exploits, and all the women love him (as they should!). Enjoy your day, Jon!

Friday--sopes made with carnitas, pico de gallo

Saturday--sloppy joes (lunch), french dip sandwiches, roasted cauliflower (supper)

Sunday--BLTs (lunch), migas with rajas (supper)

Monday--spaghetti, salad (last week's spaghetti turned into stuffed bell peppers because of a great sale on peppers)

Tuesday--cooking class; I've been encouraging Mike to branch out, so I think they are having pancakes (LOL)

Wednesday--scalloped potatoes with ham, bok choy

Thursday--salisbury steak with brown gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, whatever else needs eating up (it's the day before payday/shopping day)

As always, I'm linked to Meal Plan Monday at orgjunkie. I can get lost for an embarassingly long time as I look at other people's ideas for stuff to cook.

Friday, September 10, 2010

will's birthday

My sweet baby boy turned 4 years old! The time has flown. It feels like it was only yesterday that I was praying for God to send us a baby. Little did I know just who we were going to be blessed with.

Will is a sweet, sweet soul who really wants to please us. Most of the time.

He loves his brothers, and he loves helping Mama. So, given a choice, he was all about helping to make his own cupcakes. We had a great time of it one afternoon while the little boys slept.

On his actual birthday, we went to the fountains at a local park and played and played. The boys love the fountains, and I think it's one of the best new trends in city parks that I've seen in a long time.

After the fountains, we had lunch at our favorite place. Chick-fil-A!

Everybody loves CFA.

And, this location (as do most of them) really help to make CFA an over the top good experience. When they found out it was Will's birthday, the hostess got him a complimentary dessert. Which she split into two cups for the two boys to share. And balloons. And stickers. And refilling Mama's lemonade several times. She's a saint.

For supper, we've started the tradition of the birthday person picking the menu. Will's favorite color right now is green, so he wanted (and got) green Kool-Aid to drink.

And these (pretty cool) green cupcakes with both sprinkles AND gummy worms. He thought they were the best thing ever.

Pizza for supper.

And blowing out the candles on the cupcakes.

Then it was on to presents!

The next day, Honey joined us for some fun at a local bounce place.

Having fun with his new scribble and write present. His main goal for age 4? Learn to write! So, this ought to help him do just that.
Happy birthday, Will!! We love you very much.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cioppino Date night

Last week, I went to one of my beloved $5 cooking classes (this month, the price goes up to $10, but it's still a bargain for 2 hours of fun, plus supper). The recipe? Cioppino, which was an Italian American invention in San Francisco. I love, love, love seafood and would never tire of it, as does Mike, so I knew that I had to try it out. The holiday weekend seemed like the time.

We started our evening with a drink called The Bee's Knees. (sometimes I pick drinks just cause of the name). Basically a not-so-sweet lemonade, made with honey. It was really light and refreshing. Which is good. Because it's fall here, but that means that the temperature hovers around 89, and the humidity is only about 60%. Refreshing is good.

This is the cioppino. It had mussells, clams, shrimp, and fish, all steamed in white wine. Then, all that goodness was mixed with a tomato sauce that had some allspice and cinnamon in it. Sounds weird, but it works. Oh, how it works. This stuff was delightful. I could have bathed in it.

We ate this with sourdough bread (the San Francisco thing) for sopping up the sauce.

Oh, cooking classes...you did me right this time! I can't wait to learn something new.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cheese tacos

This post is all about Mike.

God bless him, he is a great husband. A great father. A wonderful provider. A loving son and brother. My mom would add that he's a good son-in-law, too. And, of course, lest we forget, he is the Tomato King, provider of all garden goodness that goes on in our house.

But just one thing. He ain't a chef.

So, when I take a night off, he fends for himself and the boys, and they usually have the same thing. Cheese tacos. Different than quesadillas, for this is the man version, or so I hear. He lays tortillas out on a cookie sheet, covers with cheese, then bakes until everything melts. When they come out of the oven, they are rolled *just so* and enjoyed.

Last week, when I came home from a cooking class, I noticed this picture on my camera. Cheese tacos, all fancied up.

It makes me smile, cause I know that those cheese tacos were all a part of giving this mama a night off. Which is a very rare and very appreciated treat. So, when I look at cheese tacos, I see love.

I love you, too, Mikey.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meal Plan

As always, I meal plan Friday-Thursday. Then, life gets in the way, and I forget to post it!

As a bit of progress--I'm over half way done with the cross stitch, everything is cut out for the burp cloth, and all the ingredients are purchased for the onion jam. I'll be ready for the fair next Monday! Can't wait.

Friday--Chinese take out (as an aside....this is the first time we've gotten take-out with the boys. Take out is usually a treat for grownups only. They were fascinated by all the little containers. Doesn't take much when you are 2 and 4, does it?)
Saturday--cioppino, salad, bread
Sunday-- Mexican chicken salad
Monday--enchilada casserole
Tuesday--potluck with the neighbors...pasta salad, raw veggie plate (lots of littles around!)
Wednesday--chicken and rice casserole, green beans, salad
Thursday--spaghetti, salad

This post is linked to Orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday. It's a fun place to get lost in other people's ideas for the week. Check it out!

Mexican Chicken Salad

This is one of our favorite main dish salads. I make it all year long, but mostly in spring and fall, when the greens are abundant. This is a great salad for the beginning and end of the season, because it doesn't call for tomatoes. I'm a tomato snob, and I really only eat them in season, so I'm always looking for non-tomato recipes for the rest of the year. This is a very versatile recipe, too, because it can be served as-is (and that's how we ate it this week), or it can be served as the filling for tacos, burritos, chalupas, or the like.

Mexican Chicken Salad
adapted from Mexico, One Plate at a Time, by Rick Bayless

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
a little less than 2/3 cup olive oil
2-4 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped
1 small head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1-1/2 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (I usually use 1 breast if I'm cooking just for this recipe; otherwise, use leftovers)
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup coarsely grated Mexican queso aƱejo or other dry grating cheese, such as Romano or Parmesan (let's be honest--it's almost always Parmesan)

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and chipotles. Season generously with salt, usually about a generous 1/2 teaspoon. Add the cabbage, carrot, onion, cilantro and chicken. Toss everything together and let stand for 15 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt if necessary. Add the avocado and cheese and mix gently. Serve as is or with warm corn tortillas to make tacos.
This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Lots of great ideas over there. Check it out!