Wednesday, December 31, 2008

miniature bacon and swiss quiche

I have used this quiche recipe for years, but we always seem to have way too much leftover.  My crew does not seem to like leftovers, so I end up throwing some away.  So, this time I decided to make smaller versions so that the 'left over' ones could be frozen for future use.  

Instead of using the usual 9-inch pie shell, I purchased Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations, flattened them out and cut into squares.  I then fit them into my large-sized muffin tins (6 to a tin) and pressed them around until it made a little shell.  I adjusted this recipe and poured the custard into the muffin shells and cooked them for about 20 minutes.  Surprisingly, they actually turned out pretty good.  So good that we only had two of them leftover!  Unfortunately, those two were eaten the next day so I did not get to test out how they did frozen.  I guess I will have to give it another try sometime soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

shrimp and grits for Christmas!

One day last week Chef D suggested Shrimp and Grits for our Christmas Day meal.  He had ran into a friend from church who shared that this menu was a Christmas family tradition and that got his taste buds yearning for Shrimp and Grits.  I tracked down the friend and got her recipe and then compared it with a few others I found on the internet.    Chef D and I finally decided to use a combination of them all and create our own.  We used this recipe as a base, but adjusted it slightly by adding leeks and green bell peppers.  I left out the cheddar cheese to allow everyone to choose whether or not they wanted plain grits or cheese grits with their shrimp sauce.  In the end, I felt it definitely needed the flavor of the cheese, as shrimp sauce was kind of bland.  It was not bad, but it just was not special.  We will probably try a different recipe again someday.

I chose a family favorite, fresh fruit with mint-balsamic tea, to accompany the shrimp course.  It has been several years since I prepared this fruit salad, but it will not be that long before I make it again.  It was just as delightful as I remember.

I also decided to try out a new, easy roll.  We had these new place and bake rolls from Pillsbury -- crescent rounds.  The whole family was pleasantly surprised with their taste and texture and we will probably have them again sometime.

A few weeks ago we purchased some yummy sticky toffee pudding to serve to our Tuesday night Bible Reading group.  Chef D decided to try to recreate it using this recipe and served it for dessert.  He topped it with a little whipped topping and we were good to go...DELICIOUS.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

menu planning monday 12.22.08

It looks like I won't be cooking very much this week with all holidays activities on the schedule.  May you all have a blessed week celebrating the birth of our Savior.

: Grilled Ribeye Steaks with baked potatoes and a tossed salad; Holiday Baking: Molasses Cookies and Butterscotch Crispies (both Family Favorites)

Tuesday:  Staff Christmas Party at the Carter's

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  No dinner at church, but I am still apprehension-free since we will be eating a Christmas Eve buffet at Barb's after the candlelight service.

Friday:  Traveling to Florida to see my folks

Saturday: Tyler Florence's Steak Fajitas for the grown-ups and Taco Bar for the kiddos

Sunday: No Hospitality Sunday - someone else has decided to have a Hospitality Sunday of their own and invited us over for lunch after church:)

I am so grateful to have found the OrgJunkie website this year!  Please go check out all of Laura's great ideas and the other menu plans that are posted each week:)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

menu planning monday 12.15.08

I feel like I barely cooked at all last week, with all the holiday gatherings on the schedule.  I am happy to report that this week looks more like a regular week.  

Monday:  This will be a busy day, including picking up my daughter from college and bringing her home for the holidays.  In her honor, we will have one of her favorites, Chicken Noodle Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Tuesday:  Crockpot Honey Mustard Shortribs with mashed potatoes and tossed salad (probably the crockpot berry cobbler dessert that is on the shortribs link, too!)

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: Dinner at church will be roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas, salad and dessert.

Thursday: Barb's Crockpot Fajitas (I'll use boneless chicken thighs) with Tijuana Kitchen Rice (we loved this the first time I made it)

Friday:  Kid's Choice Night of hamburger, tater tots, and cole slaw.

Sous-Chef Saturday:  I'll pitch in to help Chef D after I get home from taking Lauren for our annual Christmas Mother-Daughter outing at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Hospitality Sunday: Chef D's Chili (we didn't do this last week as planned, so we will try one more time).

Thank you for checking out my menu this week!  Don't forget to look at all the great menu ideas at OrgJunkie:)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

menu planning monday 12.08.08

Last week was a great week for cooking 'warm your heart and body' foods.  I have also decided to be a copycat (thanks to Amanda for this great idea) and create Hospitality Sunday, since we want to begin inviting others to join us for our after church mid-day meal on Sundays.  Today Chef D made a scrumptious beef stew that we left in the crock pot during church, then we invited some 'friends like family' over to share it.  

So, here is our plan of menus for this week:

Monday: Breakfast for Dinner (pancakes for the boys; grits and eggs with sausage patties and biscuits for the grown-ups)

Tuesday:  Bourbon Chicken over rice with a tossed salad; German Chocolate Tarts (I am going to adjust this recipe by using small tart shells to make mini-pies) for our Bible Reading Group snack.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  Our dinner at church this week will be beef stroganoff, green beans, salad and dessert.

Thursday: I have a bonus apprehension-free day! Friends have invited us over for a snacking supper and to help our children make ornaments to take to our Nursing Home visit on Sunday.  

Friday: We have a Sunday School Class Christmas Party and will be taking Crawfish Puffs (recipe to come) and an ornament to play dirty Santa.

Sous-Chef Saturday:  Again I leave it up to Chef D to tell me what he needs me to do:)

Hospitality Sunday: Chef D's Chili

Thank you for checking out my menu:)  You can find many more menu planning ideas at OrgJunkie!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

comforting AFW

Yes, the cool days of winter are quickly approaching.  You know what I am talking about -- those cold winds that seem to cut straight through your coat.  Today was just that kind of day.  Good thing we had a comfort-food-filled Apprehension-Free Wednesday today!  Tonight's meal at church was soup, salad, and dessert with grilled cheese sandwiches for the kiddos:)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

a few quick reviews

As always, Sharla's Tortilla Soup was a hit on from all viewpoints. I even had one of the ladies from the potluck go back for seconds with the comment that this was the first time she had tried avocado. I love this soup and how easy it is to make.

However, the Chicken and Rice Casserole was not as big of a hit, at least on the home front. Both Chef D and I agreed that the cheese just did not fit with the flavor combinations. I will probably try it again sometime without the cheese.

Unfortunately, I loved the brownie cups way too much. Two of our fellow bible reading group members decided to bring dessert also, so I ended up with several of the brownie cups leftover...and I have very little self-control in limiting how many I eat!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

menu planning monday 12.01.08

We traveled to Charlotte, NC to spend Thanksgiving with family and just returned home last night.  The holidays are definitely here as I am already finding those extra events to plan my menus around.  This time of year makes me realize how grateful I am to have started menu planning!

Monday:  Sharla's Tortilla Soup (I'll make extra to take to a ladies potluck dinner at church) for Chef D, cheese quesadillas for the boys.

Tuesday:  Chicken and Rice Casserole with a tossed salad. Dessert for our bible reading group will be these Brownie Cups.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  Dinner at church will be soup, salad and dessert (grilled cheese for the kids!).

Thursday:  Crockpot Barbecue Pork Sandwiches with pinto beans (going to the Jars of Clay Concert)

Friday:  BB's Chicken and Dumplins' with steamed green beans (einstein has a field trip to see a Christmas play and then both the boys have practice for their church children's choir play this night).  I will be making a double-batch so I can take half for my share of the food at my monthly scrapbooking crop.

Sous-Chef Saturday:  Stay tuned to see what Chef D has planned for this week:)

Snacks for the week will be pumpkin bread and oatmeal bars.

Don't forget to check in over at OrgJunkie for more menu planning ideas!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

menu planning monday 11.24.08

We will be traveling to my brother's home in North Carolina later this week, so I have a limited holiday week menu.  I will be bringing our traditional cranberry relish for the holiday meal on Thursday. 

Monday:  Chef D and tigergirl will be working a thanksgiving food drive and will not be here for dinner.  The boys and I will have pasta and salad.

Tuesday:  Tigergirl requested Chicken Noodle Soup (yeah, she prefers the canned stuff) and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  Dessert for our Bible Reading group will be Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Don't forget to check out all the other menu plans over at OrgJunkie!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

dessert AFW

One of the best parts of Apprehension-Free Wednesdays is that there is always a dessert.  Tonight's meal at church included baked spaghetti, salad, garlic toast and a choice of two desserts -- german chocolate cake or apple-pecan cobbler.  Chef D chose the german chocolate (I never doubted he would choose otherwise since it is one of his favorite types of cakes and he does not care for cooked apples).  I, on the other hand, listened to Mr. Joe's advice (he helps serve dinner on Wednesday nights) and tried the cobbler.  Oh, I think I will keep on heeding Mr. Joe's advice because it was to.die.for delicious!

Monday, November 17, 2008

maple glazed salmon with baked potato

This salmon recipe is really easy and definitely leaves a nice crisp exterior and tender inside.  I didn't use enough salt this time, so the flavors did not all come through like they should have.   The potato was fluffy, yet still had a nice texture.  I originally planned to have steamed broccoli, but realized I had the makings for a salad already, so made a last minute change.

In the end, I still really liked this quick and easy meal.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

menu planning monday 11.17.08

MondayMaple Glazed Salmon with baked potatoes and steamed broccoli.  

TuesdayCrockpot Beef Curry with coconut rice and a tossed salad.  Yummy Mushroom-Squash soup for lunch.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  Dinner at church this week will be baked spaghetti, salad and dessert.

ThursdayPepper Chicken over rice and steamed asparagus [plans changed due to meetings and a late doctor's appointment so we will be dining out instead]

Friday:  I have a scrapbooking crop and haven't decided what to take to share.  Chef D and the boys will be on their own! [due to the change on Thursday's menu, I will be using the chicken thighs to make Chef D's version of Mimi's Sticky Chicken to take to the crop]

Sous-chef Saturday:  I wonder what Chef D has up his sleeve for this week!

Don't forget to check out all great menu plan ideas at OrgJunkie!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

steaks with sauteed squash, carrots, and asparagus

Tonight was sous-chef Saturday where Chef D prepares the meal.  Most of my sous-chef duties were cleaning up afterwards!

Chef D prepared bacon-wrapped filet's for the ladies and ribeyes for the menfolk.  On the side, we had some perfectly cooked, but crisp, fresh veggies and our favorite Sister Schubert rolls.

We ended the meal with a store-bought tiramisu kicked up a notch by Chef D.

Here are a few remarks from the test kitchen attendees:

Mama S:  Great.  Delicious. Splendid. Superb.
Ms. Diva:  The filets were almost like butter.
Mr. Diva:  Scrumpdeli-icious.
DW: Superb.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

crockpot bbq pork sandwiches and pinto beans

I have grown to love this Crock pot BBQ Pork recipe.  It is so easy.  All you have to do is throw some country ribs and a can of beef broth in the crock pot and let it cook on low all day long -- you end up with an unusually tender meat for your BBQ.  It cooked on low for about 2-3 hours, then I left it on the warm setting for another 6 hours.

I originally planned to make some cole slaw, but that didn't fit into the day's plans.  But, the pot of beans were great!  I like to add a little shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream to mine.

This is my second time using this recipe and there will be definitely be a third.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

dancing AFW

Oh, how I love Apprehension-Free Wednesday!  I am just so happy not to have to decide what to make for dinner tonight that I feel like dancing -- Russian dancing, that is.  

Tonight's dinner at church will be Russian Chicken, rice, squash casserole, salad, and dessert.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

menu planning monday 11.10.08

I hope to be back in the swing of following through with my menu-planning this week.  Chef D will be eating elsewhere a few nights this week, so I will have somewhat of a apprehension-reprieve those nights.

Monday:  Chef D will be eating dinner at the church Men's Club meeting tonight.  The boys and I will have vegetable soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  I am going to try to make these graham crackers for snacks this week.

Tuesday:  Fish Tacos with Blue Tortilla Chips (make enough for company that will be here) and mini blueberry dump cakes for dessert for our Bible Reading group.  Chef D will be smoking a pork butt for this week's to go meal (since he has a work holiday and will be home for the day!).

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  Dinner at church will be Russian Chicken, rice, squash casserole, salad and dessert. (start soaking pinto beans for Thursday)

Thursday:  Crock pot Barbecue Pork Sandwiches with cole slaw and pinto beans

Friday: Spaghetti, Salad, and Garlic Toast

Sous-chef Saturday: It's time again for Chef D to work his magic.  I look forward to serving in the sous-chef role!

Don't forget to check out OrgJunkie for more menu planning ideas!

Friday, November 7, 2008

crock pot apple-bacon pork chops over basmati rice with sauteed veggies

Tonight's meal came from a Food Network menu and recipe.  I chose it because the 'pork chops and applesauce' theme reminded me of that old Brady Bunch episode -- not really, but it did bring back the memory.  I was a huge Brady Bunch fan in elementary school...I even had a BB lunch box.  But, back to tonight's meal.

I did not follow the recipe's instructions for the vegetables.  Instead, I just sauteed the mushrooms in a little butter and olive oil and sprinkled a bit of Mrs. Dash's on them.  While they cooked, I prepared the zucchini by using my  OXO julienne peeler.  This is the best tool and I highly suggest you purchase one.  I also use it to make carrot strips for salad or soup.  After prepping the zucchini, I stir-fried them lightly in a bit of olive oil and seasoned them with a little Emeril's Essence...BAM!  A touch of freshly grated parmesan and it was ready to eat.

In the end, pork chops, even very thick ones still with the bone, do not do well in a crock pot.  Although they were tender and easy to cut, they were dry.  Chef D scraped all his apple-bacon-crouton goop from the top.  I liked it okay, but it wasn't anything special.  Unfortunately, this recipe is not a keeper.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

rosemary grilled chicken thighs with sauteed garlic spinach and two-cheese polenta

This Southern Living recipe just looked too good not to try and turned out to be pretty simple to prepare, as well.  Although the recipe said that boneless breasts or pork tenderloin could be used, I stayed with the thighs in hopes of a more moist meat.  The thighs marinated for about 20 hours and were true to recipe in only needing about 5 minutes per side on the grill.  At that point, I pulled them from the grill and wrapped them, covered in the fresh lemon juice, in foil and kept them in the warming oven until Chef D arrived home from work.  I used polenta in the place of the called-for grits (since I had some in the cupboard that needed to be used) and used chicken stock instead of water.  As always, it ended up needing extra liquid so I added about 1/2 cup of water extra during the 25 minutes of cooking.  

I wasn't too sure about the spinach, but decided to give it a shot.  Chef D was quite the good sport and ate all his spinach, even though I know it would not have been his choice of vegetable.  Personally, I did not care for it either, but ate mine as well.  The chicken was good and the polenta was divine (in my mind, grits are the perfect food).  I will definitely fix the chicken and grits again:)  

Sunday, November 2, 2008

menu planning monday 11.03.08

Well, I survived my busy week of planning and running our church fall festival.  It took place last Friday night and we ministered to between 800-1000 people over the course of 2 hours.  Whew!  Then, the next night we had our eldest son's 11th birthday party with 10 of his friends -- a Video Game Playing party (what more could any 11-year old boy ask for?)!  Needless to say, I am whooped.

I look forward to having more time again to plan and prepare meals this week.  I am also adding an extra to go meal each week that will be sent home with friends.  This week's to go meal will be on Monday.  So, here we go:

Monday: Fajitas (Chef D finally found skirt steak last week and started marinating it Sunday, so it's a done deal for tonight) with pinto beans ; Lasagna to go

Tuesday:  Lasagna, Salad, and Garlic Bread

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: Dinner at church will be Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans (start chicken marinating for Thursday)

Friday:  Crockpot Apple-Bacon Pork Chops over rice 

Saturday:  Football Game at Auburn (dining out with L & I afterwards)

Sunday:  Church Supper Club at the HBs

Don't forget to check out all the other menu planning ideas at OrgJunkie!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

got AFW?

If you want to answer yes to the question on your right, all you have to do is join me for dinner tonight.  Yes, it is another Apprehension-Free Wednesday!

Tonight's meal at church will be lasagna, salad, and dessert.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

birthday meal

Today was my eldest son's 11th birthday, so he got to choose our menu for the evening.  He chose ham, cinnamon rice, and pumpkin muffins. We ended up saving the muffins and giving them a dose of homemade cream cheese frosting before singing the requisite birthday serenade.  Our friends from our Bible Reading group were here to help us celebrate the momentous occasion.  

He will celebrate with his friends on Saturday night with a Game Party.

Monday, October 27, 2008

dessert egg rolls?

I used this egg roll wrapper and filling recipe as part of tonight's meal.  The boys had pizza rolls while Chef D and I had something closer to the egg roll filling in the recipe (fake crab meat in the place of the shrimp).  We ate them along with a light but hearty (because it had added rice) broth that Chef D made yesterday using some leftover wing tips not used in a batch of Mimi's Sticky Chicken wings that we took to a church potluck last night.

However, what you see on the right was our favorite egg roll filling: chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows and coconut with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar.  They were a hit!

Edited to add this very important information:  I did NOT make the egg roll wrappers from the recipe on the above linked site.  I bought egg roll wrappers.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

menu planning monday 10.27.08

Welcome to Kid-friendly menu week!  This week we will be celebrating my eldest son's 11th birthday and I will be organizing and directing our church Fall Festival for 500-700 people.  Yes, it will be a crazy week at the artisan household!

Monday: Homemade pizza rolls (and egg rolls for the big people!) with a hearty vegetable broth

Tuesday: einstein's 11th birthday!  His menu choice -- sliced ham, cinnamon rice (regular white rice with added butter, cinnamon and sugar), and pumpkin muffins (I will make a batch earlier in the week using 1/2 to make a loaf and the other 1/2 to make muffins)

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  Dinner at church includes lasagna, salad and dessert.

Thursday: Hamburgers, tater tots, and carrot sticks

Friday:  Fall Festival hot dogs, popcorn, drinks and lots of candy!

Saturday: einstein's birthday party! He requested a "munchie meal" (pretzels, chips, cheese dip, store-bought pizza rolls) and a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting at his Game Party at the church.

Don't forget to check out all of the other menu planning ideas over at OrgJunkie!

Friday, October 24, 2008

thai chicken skewer wraps with kow pad (fried rice)

This is my final test of a Cuisine at Home recipe.  The thai chicken skewer wraps were the last of the recipes I culled from my 2 year supply of Cuisine at Home magazines.  It seems that most of my choices were asian-inspired recipes and I found that many of them used red pepper flakes that brought way too much heat to the table.  I probably should not have tried to do them all in a two week period, but spread them out amongst less-spicy meals.

The peanut sauce was really good, even though I did make way too much.  I did save the remainder to use on ramen noodles. I did not necessarily follow the kow pad recipe exactly.  It was okay, but nothing special.

If I attempt this recipe again, I will make the following alterations: 
  • use iceberg lettuce 
  • velvet the chicken in small pieces and stir-fry it with some of the peanut sauce (instead of skewering and broiling -- no flavor)
  • omit the cilantro
  • make less of the peanut sauce

Thursday, October 23, 2008

italian sausage ragu with penne pasta

This Cuisine at Home recipe certainly led to a pretty photograph, but I am afraid that the flavor did not follow through in the same way.

Chef D ate the penne pasta with a bit of the sauce, but most of the vegetable portion of the meal remained on his plate at the end.  The tomatoes just did not cook down enough to break down their acidity.

I ate all of mine, but it is not something I would make again.  Perhaps if I started with a store-bought sauce and added the vegetables in, it may have worked better for us.   

Well, you live and learn.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

breakfast for dinner AFW

Have you ever had one of those days where you wore your pajamas all day long?  Well, this would be a perfect day to do just that...because we are having breakfast for dinner!  

This week's Apprehension-Free Wednesday meal at church includes: scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese grits (yumm!), biscuits and fruit salad (with pancakes for the kiddos!).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

blt pasta with orange-red onion salad

This was another recipe from my Cuisine at Home magazine.  This is the second recipe that has called for red pepper flakes and ended up being almost too hot to eat.  From now on, I am not putting any red pepper flakes in my recipes and will just wait until the end to season.  It was hard to even capture a taste of the bacon, tomato or spinach with all the heat from the red pepper-infused sauce.  Chef D ate it but did not really care for it.

The orange-red onion salad was a nice cool retreat from the heat of the pasta.  I really enjoyed the flavor of the dressing and even the onions (which I normally do not like on salads).  Chef D prefers a salad with a bit more crunch, so if I make the salad again I will include some iceberg lettuce with the mesclun/spring mix.

Monday, October 20, 2008

shrimp wontons with asian soup - repeat

The first time I made this meal, something was just not quite right, so I thought I would give it another try tonight.  Since the wontons were a little lacking in the flavor department last time, I added a bit more seasonings (extra fresh grated ginger and a minced clove of garlic).  These wonton wrappers did not do well in the purse-shape I created last time, so we had little 'envelopes' tonight.  

It still did not work.

Chef D explained to me why it did not work. They need to be fried, not 'boiled'.  All the seasonings get washed out in the water.  So, now I need to decide whether we are going to go for a three-peat in the future.  These are just so cute I really want to make them work!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

menu planning monday 10.20.08

I am still trying to consider nutritional information when choosing my menus, so I have included a few more recipes from my Cuisine at Home magazine that include the nutritional data.

:  Shrimp Wontons with asian soup

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  This week's church dinner is going to be a breakfast:  scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese grits, biscuits and fruit salad (pancakes for the kids!).

Friday:  Thai Chicken Skewer Wraps with Kow Pad (fried rice)

Supper Club Saturday:  No sous-chef Saturday this week since we will be joining our supper club group for dinner at Mr. & Mrs. M's house!

Check out OrgJunkie for more menu planning ideas!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

new wave questions

Is this not just the most perfect plate that Chef D showed me while we were out shopping today?  The lovely color and shape are just right for framing a beautiful meal, don't you think?  

Can you tell that I am trying to convince myself to store away (or, gulp, get rid of) our casual wedding china that we have used for the past 21 years and replace it with this little baby?

But, for now I will just dream...

Friday, October 17, 2008

surf and turf on caesar salad

This is the last of our Cuisine at Home recipes for this week's meals.  Chef D does not really care for hot food on salad, so I added a fried rice at the last minute (using the leftover basmati rice from last Friday).  I sauted some red onion and fresh minced garlic in some peanut oil, crumbled in the rice with a little salt, and fried it up enough to separate all the grains and get it warmed up.

This was a fairly easy meal to prepare.  Even though it seemed a little strange to layer the shrimp's sauce onto the salad, I decided to give it a try.  The flavor's seemed to go quite well with the Caesar dressing (which I did not make from the recipe but used a bottled version I already had in the icebox).  I was not sure if the rice would go with the meal, but it was a nice addition for me.

Chef D suggested that I not use the giant shrimp next time as their flavor is really not special for the increased price to procure them.  The shrimp's sauce was also a bit strong for his taste.  But, he did make a happy plate, so I call it a successful night.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

dan dan noodles with pickled cucumbers

This was yet another recipe from my Cuisine at Home magazines.  I decided to use a hothouse cucumber instead of the usual garden variety before I realized that the recipe called to julienne the cucumber.  I wasn't sure if it would provide enough crunch once I began to cut them up.   I did not have any of the long-life noodles, so I just used thin spaghetti.  

I made the cucumbers earlier in the day and I think I may have put in a few too many of the red pepper flakes.  Fortunately, the noodle dish did not have too much of a kick to it, so the cucumbers worked okay for me.  Chef D, on the other hand, prefers a previous non-julienned pickled cucumber recipe with a little less kick to it .  In the end, I really enjoyed this meal, even with the extra heat in the cukes. The peanut flavor was divine.  Chef D also enjoyed the noodles and said he could eat it again.  This one's a keeper!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

apple pie bites, part two

Einstein did not get one of the apple pie bites last night, so I made a small batch this afternoon to surprise him with when he gets home from school.  I used refrigerator biscuits this time instead of crescent roll dough.  The crescent rolls were so much easier to deal with since I did not have to roll them, plus they held together at the top while these biscuits did not.  But, they still tasted good (even though this version was cranberry-free)!

easy AFW

Yes, I am taking it easy today since it is another Apprehension-Free Wednesday!  You, too, can take it easy and join me for dinner at church.  Tonight's menu includes meatloaf, hashbrown casserole, green beans, rolls and dessert.

Just reach over and push that easy button.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

salmon cakes and asparagus with creamy dill sauce

This is my 50th post!  [just wanted to share that with anyone who cares]  Now, on to the business at hand.

The salmon cakes were much easier to prepare than I thought.  It just took a few moments to pulse the ingredients in the food processor then add in the salmon.   I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop it out and flatten out a bit before leaving it in the icebox until it was time to cook.  I also did a quick blanch of the asparagus and made the dill sauce in advance, so all I had to do at the end was add it together and heat up a bit.  

I really enjoyed the texture of the cakes, but Chef D and I both agreed it had a bit too much heat.  If I make this again, I will reduce the sriracha to 1/2 tablespoon.  I think this could easily be made with frozen salmon to reduce the cost.

Chef D recommended this apple pie bite recipe for our dessert after our bible reading group.  I had some crescent roll dough that needed to be used, so I used that instead of the biscuit dough.  I just rolled it out and flattened out all the perforations and cut it into 6 squares.  I also added an eggwash to the tops before baking.  They turned out great!  

Monday, October 13, 2008

menu planning monday 10.13.08

Chef D requested that I begin including nutritional data for my recipes.  Until I figure out the easiest way to make those calculations myself, I am going to include some recipes from my Cuisine At Home magazines (they have nutritional data!).  So, this week is Cuisine At Home Week that happens to include a lot of seafood! 

Monday: Chef D and the boys will be attending a church men's group dinner, so I am on my own for the night!

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  This week's menu at church is meat loaf, hash brown casserole, green beans, salad and dessert. 

Sous-Chef Saturday: I wonder what Chef D will have up his sleeve for tonight's meal.  Whatever the case, I know I will enjoy playing sous-chef for the night! [edited to add:  it now looks like we will be traveling to Tigertown to see tigergirl, so there will be no sous-chef work in my future this weekend]

Sunday:  TBD

Don't forget to check out all the other great menu ideas at OrgJunkie!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

weekend update

Chef D made some of his famous smoked ribs to take and share on Saturday when we did a little tailgating before the Auburn-Arkansas game.  The football team did not have a great night, but I know all who tasted those ribs only had great things to say.  His ribs are always great, but these were particularly tasty and I think it was, in part, by his addition of some brown sugar to his rub.  Way to go, Chef D!

This morning I started the crockpot chicken piccata and made the mashed potatoes before we left for church.  The flavor was pretty good, but the chicken was a little dry.  That may have been because I ended up using chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts (one of those surprises when your chicken thaws and it isn't what you thought it was!).  But, I also just don't think boneless chicken does well in a crockpot.  If I try this recipe again, I will use bone-in thighs.  I also realized this morning that I did not have the artichoke hearts, so I did not include them. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

yakatori chicken with stir-fried vegetables and jasmine rice

This is a recipe from Guy Fieri's Guy Off the Hook series on Food Network.  It sounded too good to pass up, so tonight we had a little Yakatori Chicken.  Since I had several bell peppers that had been purchased last week for a meal that was never made, I decided to stir-fry them with some onions and mushrooms.  Then, at the last minute, I decided we needed a starch, so I pulled out the basmati rice.  I noticed that it suggested to let the rice soak for 20 minutes prior to cooking to get the full length of the rice, so I decided to go for it.  Wow.  That was some long rice.

The preparation was a bit labor intensive, taking more time than I usually do to prepare dinner.  In the end, it wasn't bad, and even had a decent flavor. But as Chef D put it, "ooo, chicken mcnuggets!".  Yes, he was being a bit sarcastic, but in a funny way.  If it had been a quick and easy to fix course, I may have considered it again in the future.  But, this was way too much work for a meal that did not bring fireworks to the palate.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

slow cooker pork barbecued sandwiches with corn on the cob

Unlike food stylist photographers, my food is real and ready to eat.  That is why I was in a bit of a hurry when I took this picture.  I wanted to eat it!  So, I didn't exactly place the bun in the most attractive position.  That is not a bite out of the bun, but where it was separated from it's sister bun.  

On to the story, though.  This recipe was great and so easy!  I dropped the boneless pork ribs in the crockpot with about a cup of beef broth and let it go at slow for about two hours.  After checking it at that point, I decided it was probably done, but I wanted it to stay warm until I was ready to shred it so I left it on the warm setting for the remainder of the day (about 6 hours).  I said a quick prayer that it would not be overcooked and my prayer was answered in a wonderful way.  The ribs were fall-apart tender and so easy to shred with two forks in hand.  I just mixed in a bit of bottled barbecue sauce, tossed it all into a small iron skillet covered with foil, and put in the oven for the last 30 minutes to warm up.  

Chef D and I both gobbled up everything, except a bit of meat for his lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

AFW yummmm

It is going to be a yummy Apprehension-Free Wednesday today!  My sweet friend, VJ, is filling in for our usual church supper chef tonight and she decided to create an italian feast for our eating pleasure.  Tonight's dinner will include spaghetti, salad, bread and dessert.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

fish tacos and fresh fried corn chips with tomatillo sauce and pico de gallo

Tonight's meal was inspired by a recipe from Food Network's Tyler Florence.  Although I ended up using a different fish taco recipe, I saw the link on Tyler's to his fresh fried corn chips and tomatillo sauce and had to give it a try (since tomatillos have become my new love!).  Of course, I needed a little pico de gallo to round out the meal.  I want to give a shout out to a friend from church who submitted the fish taco recipe into our recently published church cookbook.  Thanks, Mr. A!

Now, as my friend Barb says, let's get to the facts.  I really enjoyed the meal and the preparation was not half bad.  The frozen tilapia worked just fine, although I have to admit that I did not taste anything that seemed to resemble fish in my taco.  I would never have known I cooked seafood if it had not been for the lovely aroma that remained in the kitchen.  The instructions for making the tomatillo sauce is the easiest of any I have made so far and I highly recommend this recipe.

Chef D's response?  He was a man of few words tonight, but he said it was good and ate all on his plate.  Sounds like a keeper. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

baked rigatoni with ham and mushrooms

Tonight's Baked Rigatoni with Ham and Mushrooms was one of those courses that have that down-home cooking feel to them.  It was kind of like an upscale ham casserole.  I liked the texture of the rigatoni noodles -- usually I completely cook a pasta that is used in a casserole before it is mixed and baked, but this time I only cooked the rigatoni for about half the usual cooking time.  It definitely helped give a little more to bite into.  It was not bad, but wasn't special, either.  Since it isn't exactly low-fat, we probably won't be having it often.  However, Chef D did say he may take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

menu planning monday 10.06.08

Monday: Kim's Baked Rigatoni with ham and mushrooms with mixed green salad

Tuesday:  Tyler Florence's Ultimate Fish Tacos with Fresh Fried Corn Chips and Salsa or I may go with a more simple version

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: Dinner at church will be Spaghetti, Salad, Bread and Dessert.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Barbecued Pork Sandwiches with corn on the cob

Friday: Guy Fieri's Yakatori Chicken with stir-fried vegetables

Saturday:  Tailgating at Auburn! Not sure what food we will bring.

Sunday: Michelle's  Crockpot Chicken Piccata with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh garden salad
As always, check out OrgJunkie for more menu planning ideas!

Friday, October 3, 2008

onion soup

I decided to show you before and after pictures today!  Above you see all the ingredients that I started with for tonight's meal.  Below is the finished product.  

While looking through different blogs during a past Menu Planning Monday post at the OrgJunkie, I came across a blog with both interesting-sounding recipes as well as beautiful photographs of the food.  Tonight's onion soup came from that website. The directions with it's accompanying photography were both helpful and enjoyable to look at.  In the end, though, there was just something missing with the flavor.  Although both Chef D and I finished our helping, we decided not to keep the leftovers. 

But, I am going to continue to keep up with her other recipes and give a few more a try.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

AFW Fiesta!

That's right, we are having a fiesta today as we celebrate Apprehension-Free Wednesday!  Just imagine yourself wearing your sombrero and dancing with the mariachi band as you enjoy a time of not having to decide what to have or prepare for your evening meal.  It almost makes me want to do the mexican hat dance!

Dinner at church tonight includes chicken enchiladas, beef tacos, mexican salad and key lime or cheesecake pie.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I am so grateful for leftovers.  I woke up Monday morning with a headache, that led to a sick feeling for the remainder of the day.  I did not make the grilled corn on the cob and just fixed myself a sandwich using the leftover brisket.  It was delicious.  However, later in the evening, my body regretted eating anything as I was struck with a stomach bug.  

After being up most of the night, I had little energy to plan anything today, either.  In fact, I was only able to eat a toasted english muffin and a bowl of grits over the course of this day.  Even Chef D's famous ribs (even leftover) could not call my name.

I was able to pull together a quick dessert for our bible reading group that met tonight.  I did not get a picture, but you can find the fruity pastries recipe here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

menu planning monday, 09.29.08

We had guests over for dinner on Saturday and cooked way too much food.  We have leftover meat for at least 3 meals, so I am going to base our meals for the beginning of the week around them.  

Monday: Smoked Beef Brisket (leftovers) with Broccoli Salad (also leftovers) and Bacon-wrapped grilled corn on the cob

Tuesday: Smoked Beef Ribs (leftovers) with pinto beans and cole slaw

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: Supper at church will be a Mexican Dinner.

Thursday: Smoked Sausage (leftovers) with hoagie rolls, sauteed peppers and onions, and Oatmeal Cake (Chef D's Birthday)

Friday: Creamy Onion Soup

Sous-Chef Saturday: We have no specific plans so I guess it is a surprise!

Don't forget to check out the other great menus over at OrgJunkie!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

sous-chef saturday -- supper club version

Chef D and I spent the day preparing for the arrival of 6 adults and 2 children to join our 3 adults and 2 children for our turn at hosting church supper club for this quarter.  It was a fun time had by all, as far as I can tell!

Our menu included:

Smoked Beef Brisket
Smoked Beef Ribs
Smoked Sausage
Broccoli Salad with Dried Cranberries
Mashed Potatoes with sour cream and butter
Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake (provided by one of our guests)
Berry Sorbet

Friday, September 26, 2008

beef burger with southern potato salad

I decided not to make the roasted tomato ketchup and just go with the Heinz in the icebox and just have any easy-going hamburger night.  I prefer no onions in my potato salad, so I left them out -- it turned out great.  I sure love good potato salad.  We did a taste test of the pickled onions before dinner and they did not pass -- just way too sour for our taste.  I am considering adding some simple syrup and serving with our brisket tomorrow night.  We will do another taste test ahead of time before setting them out for guests, though!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

salt-encrusted ribeye roast with broccoli salad with dried cranberries

I had never tried to cook beef using this salt-encrusting method.  It seemed pretty simple:  mix the salt with the water and put a layer on the bottom, put the beef on top and then pack the rest of the salt all around.  It did look strange, but I was willing to give it a try.  The recipe said it would take about an hour and a half for a rare roast, but I did not want a rare roast (although, Chef D would have!), so I put the timer on 2 hours.  After about an hour, I checked and the meat thermometer was all the way to the top!  Not good!  I couldn't imagine that it would have reached the well-done stage in just one hour.  I pulled it out and let it set for the recommended 15 minutes before removing the salt.  I checked it and it appeared to still be pink on the inside.  Whew!  I covered it with foil to keep it warm until Chef D arrived home.

Well, when he cut the meat, it was obviously well-done.  Bummer.  We ate what we could and are attempting a salvage by cutting it into thin strips and sitting with au jus in a crockpot for awhile.  I am still not sure if this method of cooking a good roast is the best choice for me.  

Einstein, one of my picky eaters, needs more protein and fiber in his diet. So, tonight I made peanut butter balls to put in his lunchbox.  I used this recipe from Family Fun, with a few adjustments.  I used less of the confectioner's sugar ( 3/4 cup) and added 1/4 cup of wheat germ.