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.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

grateful AFW

I am so very grateful that today is yet another Apprehension-Free Wednesday!  I am also grateful that the chairs for my new dining table arrived today.  What a great day all around!

Dinner at church tonight was chicken pot pie, green beans, salad, and blueberry dump cake.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

bb's chicken and dumplin's with a chicken salad sandwich

Since I ended up being out of town a few hours today instead of Thursday, I moved my crockpot-based meal to today.  So, today we had our family-favorite chicken and dumplings.  We had leftover chicken last night, so I made Chef D's favorite chicken salad for sandwiches on a slice of sourdough bread to have along with the dumplings.  This worked out great to stretch the meal since we ended up having two additional guests for dinner.  Everyone ate all of their dumplings (and I even sent some leftovers home
 with our guests) and the chicken salad was a success (except for a minor incident of someone sneaking their pecans out of their salad!).

Oh, my.  These Brownie Cups were delicious, according to everyone who ate them.  Of course, Chef D thought they could use a little more sugar, or at least a dollop of marshmallow cream!  He has quite the sweet tooth.

Monday, September 22, 2008

chicken enchiladas with roasted tomatillo-chile sauce with a side of saffron rice

This recipe from Food Network's Tyler Florence was not only fun to eat, but it was fun to make. I appreciated that it used a store-bought rotisserie chicken and even made it a bit easier by picking up pre-made guacamole and using a saffron rice mix.  Since only Chef D and I would be eating enchiladas (those picky children just miss out on all the fun!), I only needed half of the chicken.  I used the other half to make Chef D's favorite chicken salad which we'll use tomorrow night as a sandwich side for our chicken and dumplings (I am moving around my menu a bit based upon some scheduling changes on my calendar).

The enchiladas were a little softer than I had anticipated, but were yummy nonetheless.  Chef D gave a thumbs up, so I will keep this recipe in the queue for awhile.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

menu planning monday 09.22.08

This is my third week participating in Menu Planning Monday with the folks at Organizing Junkie. This week is a special edition where everyone is to include a family favorite. My family favorite is on Thursday.

: Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo-Chile Sauce with a side of saffron rice (review and pictures)

Tuesday: Salt-encrusted Ribeye roast with broccoli salad with dried cranberries and yeast rolls.  Brownie Cups (one of Laura's Family Favorites from the OrgJunkie) for dessert for our Bible Reading group.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: Tonight's dinner menu at church is chicken pot pie, salad, and dessert.

Thursday: Chicken and dumplings (prep pickled onions for Friday) (review and pictures)

Friday: Beef Burger with Roasted Tomato Ketchup with pickled onions and southern potato salad

Sous-Chef Saturday: I will serve as sous-chef to Chef D as we host our monthly church dinner club group at our home.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

broccoli salad with dried cranberries

This is one of those church covered dish supper favorites and is so visually appealing with it's varied colors.  I have had versions that included thinly-sliced purple onions and/or grated cheddar cheese, but I prefer this more simple version:

3 bunches broccoli, heads cut-up into small, bite-sized pieces
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. vinegar
1/2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 c. walnuts or pecans, broken into pieces

Mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar in a bowl and let it set for at least 15 minutes.  In the meantime, wash and cut broccoli and put it in a large bowl.  Add cranberries (or raisins), bacon, nuts and mix well.  Slowly add mayonnaise mixture and stir, adding as much to suit your personal taste for texture.  It can be eaten immediately, but I find that it tastes better if it can sit overnight in the icebox.

grilled ribeyes, baked potato, and grilled veggies

Chef D and I worked together on this evening's meal. He did his magic with the ribeyes and grilled sides while I prepared the baked potatoes/toppings, tossed the rolls in the oven, and made the dessert. I was so hungry, and distracted by the amazing aroma, that I forgot to take a picture of the meal. But, I did remember for dessert, so that is the picture of the day.

Baked potato with bacon, cheese, butter, sour cream and green onion
Grilled red bell pepper, fresh pineapple, onion, and baby zucchini
Mini blueberry dump cakes (recipe below)

We began making the mini-version of dump cakes in order to limit our dessert intake with each preparation. If we only have one small dish per person, we are not tempted to sneak in for a midnight snack later! You can easily use fruit of your choice (we've used snack pack peaches, canned cherries, and fresh blueberries in the past) in the place of canned blueberries.

Mini Blueberry Dump Cake

1 15 oz. can of blueberries, drained
sugar, to taste
5 T. butter (1 per dish)
ground cinnamon
uncooked oatmeal
yellow cake mix

I used 5 3" ramekins. Divide blueberries equally between the 5 dishes (just covers the bottom of the dish) and sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. sugar and cinnamon each (or, to taste). To each dish, add about 1/4 c. of the cake mix and then sprinkle cut-up butter on top. Sprinkle a little oatmeal and cinnamon on top and cook at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, September 19, 2008

asian beef lettuce wraps with curried basmati rice

This recipe was pretty easy since it was one that used leftovers for both parts. The beef for the wraps was leftover from slow-cooker roast beef night and the rice was leftover from pan-seared salmon with coconut rice night. I could not find bibb lettuce anywhere, so I picked out the most pliable lettuce I could find locally, which ended up being regular green leaf lettuce. The original recipe called for a curried couscous, but since Chef D is not a big couscous fan, we decided to use up the leftover coconut rice. Of course, I forgot to add the leftover coconut milk that I saved for just this meal. But, the rice turned out tasty anyway.

Chef D ate his portions of the meal, and was the first to remember the missing coconut milk. The ribs of the lettuce were distracting for him and, although the flavors of the beef were acceptable, they just were not special to him.

I really like the idea of lettuce wraps and will continue to search for a different recipe to try. But, I doubt I will use this one again.

Also, tonight is the inauguration night for our new dish we picked up at World Market last night. I thought it went nicely with our asian-inspired meal.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

crockpot apple and onion-stuffin' pork chops with steamed green beans

This crockpot recipe took a bit more preparation than I had anticipated, but once it was in the crockpot, all went smoothly.  I left it all day (7 hours) without a problem.  

The stuffing was very mushy, so Chef D skipped the 'gravy' because he thought the stuffing was more of a gravy anyway.  The varied flavors were a bit much for Chef D's taste.  

I enjoyed the 'gravy' -- especially the sweetness of the onions and pineapple-orange juice mixed with the saltiness of the bacon.  If I were to make this again (which I probably will not), I would reduce the butter in both the apple-stuffing and what is called for in the stuffing mix by at least half.  The meal just ended up very rich, with a layer of melted butter across the top of the crockpot mixture before it was plated.  I steamed the green beans for 7 minutes, then tossed them in a skillet with some melted butter and tossed in some slivered almonds.  I think I used too much butter with that dish, as well.

In the end, it was a tasty meal, but way too high on the fat content.  I didn't particularly like how the stuffing turned out, either.  YMMV (your mileage may vary).

chef D's version of mimi's sticky chicken

Chef D needed something to contribute for an office luncheon today and these were the resulting yummy morsels. He decided to adjust a recipe I used last week for a whole chicken. He used chicken thighs and legs, although you could easily use wings, as well (boneless breasts would not work as they do not have enough fat content). He took the seasonings from the recipe and coated all the chicken pieces, placed them in large aluminum pans (covered with foil) to sit overnight in the refrigerator. Last night he placed them in the oven on 250 degrees for 5 hours (just like the original recipe). When they finished (around 1 AM), he turned them on low for the rest of the night. He removed them from the pans (by that time, the juices were almost covering them, keeping them oh so moist), placed them on a broiling pan and broiled them for a few minutes to crisp-up the outside. He then placed them in fresh pans to take to the office. I tasted a piece and it was so moist and flavorful. As usual, another great job by Chef D ... your office is blessed to have you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

happy AFW

You would be happy, too, if you celebrated Apprehension-Free Wednesday with me!

Today's meal at church is ham, potato salad, green bean casserole, coleslaw and dessert.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

slow cooker roast beef with root vegetables

This roast beef was very easy to prepare. Just a few minutes of chopping the vegetables, seasoning the roast, and starting up the crockpot at 6:00 AM. Eleven hours later, I had a tasty, tender roast. This is what I love about cooking with a crockpot. It left me plenty of time to throw together some cornbread muffins to complete the meal as well as macaroons to serve during our bible reading group tonight.

This wasn't our favorite crockpot roast beef, and Chef D passed on the root vegetables in favor of the cornbread muffins, so I probably won't recreate this meal soon. But, it served the purpose of having a hot meal on the table for dinner. The macaroons, on the other hand, were quite good.

Monday, September 15, 2008

pan-seared salmon with pineapple-jalapeno relish with a side of coconut rice

This meal was just an all around success, in my opinion. First, it was easy and not overly time-consuming. I was able to quickly chop of the items for the relish in the beginning so the flavors could sit and meld together while I worked on the other parts of the course. I had never cooked basmati rice and I have to admit that just the name of it caused a bit of apprehension. But, I jumped right in and followed the very easy directions provided by Michelle [and I was happy to find the coconut milk at the first market I stopped by earlier today when I was finishing the grocery shopping for this week's meals]. This rice did seem to soak up the liquids sooner than other rices, and I did add a bit more water during the last 10 minutes of cooking, but it all worked out just fine. I usually bake or grill salmon, so this pan-fried version was a little new to me and I hoped the fish would end up moist enough for Chef D. The recipe held true to it's word and 4 minutes on each side on medium high heat was perfect.

Chef D informed me that he liked this rice for it's fluffy texture and good flavor. He definitely prefers it over the usual white rice, and even ate it without adding his usual cinnamon. Although he enjoyed the flavor of the salmon alone and felt it needed no additional flavoring, he did not dislike the relish. In the end, I am thrilled that he liked the whole meal!

I really liked the sweeter flavor and fluffier texture of the coconut rice. Moreso, though, I loved the pineapple-jalapeno relish and the flavor it added to the salmon. Much of that is the fact that I like to camouflage the 'fishy' taste as much as possible...and the relish did the trick. We will definitely have this meal again. Many thanks to Michelle from Michelle's Messy Musings for this recipe:)

[Chef D and I decided to save our leftover rice to use on Friday in the place of the couscous. I will add some curry seasonings and some of the leftover coconut milk and stir-fry it.]

menu planning monday 09.15.08

For more menu planning ideas, please check out The Organizing Junkie.

Monday: Pan-Seared Salmon with Pineapple-Jalapeno Relish with coconut rice from Michelle's Messy Musings.

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Roast Beef with Root Vegetables

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: This week's menu at church is ham, potato salad, green bean casserole, coleslaw and dessert.

Thursday: Crockpot Apple and Onion-Stuffin' Pork Chops with Orange-Pineapple Gravy and steamed green beans [more from Michelle!]

Friday: Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps with Curried Couscous [will use beef leftover from Tuesday's meal]

Saturday: Grilled ribeye steaks, baked potato, and tossed salad (review and pictures)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

'dinner with friends' with chef D

Chef D did it again with yet another spectacular and exquisite dinner to share with friends. The menu included:

Tuna Carpaccio
Tomato Bruschetta
Fettucini Alfredo (all from scratch!)
Roast Rack of Lamb
Sauteed Asparagus
Yeast Rolls
Chocolate Creme Brulee

Friday, September 12, 2008

asian-inspired salmon, noodles, and cole slaw

Although I believe this meal has an attractive and appetizing appearance, it just did not work when it comes to evaluating it's taste. The flavors were too strong and too similar for each course. We will not be making this again. Chef D was in total agreement with this decision.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

shrimp wontons with dipping sauce

This was a first for me, as I have never before made wontons, or asian dumplings, or dim sum (or whatever other name you want to call them). Before I began this blog, and my adventure in meal planning and cooking new types of food, I would have never attempted to do this without Chef D's assistance. I was excited to find that I was able to do it all by myself. So, if I can do it all by myself, you can, too! Late in the day, I realized that the course was a bit minimalistic and needed something other than just wontons, so I added a light broth to go with them.

Chef D thought the dumplings were bland alone, but were tasty with the accompanying ginger vinegar dipping sauce (I did not make the garlic chili sauce).
I agreed with Chef D on the flavor. I must add that in the middle of preparations, I realized that the coriander/cilantro that I had was actually parsley. I am curious as to how that affected the overall flavor.

Chef D had no comments regarding texture.
My only comment would be that the top part of the dumpling, where it is all connected like the top of a drawstring purse, was much tougher that the rest.

Ease of Preparation:
Making the dumplings did take a little more time than I thought (about 30 minutes), but they were actually much easier to build than I had anticipated. The recipe was right on target with it only taking 2-3 minutes to cook them.

Recommendations for future use:
Try it with the coriander/cilantro next time. Research additional seasonings to use with the bland shrimp main ingredient.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

AFW elation

You know what I am talking about -- pure elation. That is my feeling today since it is another Apprehension-Free Wednesday!!!

Tonight's meal at church is Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole, English Peas, Fruit Salad, and dessert.

Monday, September 8, 2008

mimi's sticky chicken with risotto

I ended up making a few changes to the menu for today. At the last minute, I decided to make a risotto instead of the whole grain rice. I also found some asparagus to steam in the place of a tossed salad. Tonight, we had a guest, Mama S, for dinner who agreed to provide her own review of the dinner.


Chef D thought the flavor tasted similar to rotisserie chicken. The risotto had a good flavor, a little on the sweet side, without the negative undertones of the risottos he has cooked recently.
Mama S liked the flavor of the chicken and said she would eat it again. She liked the 'sticky' skin the best because it had all the flavor. She also enjoyed the taste of the risotto.
[I loved the flavor of the drippings from the chicken, and the flavor of the chicken skin. I was a little concerned about the red onion in the risotto, but I was amazed at how it cooked to such a translucence that it was practically invisible in the end. Invisible, yet oh so tasty.]

Chef D enjoyed the chicken and risotto enough to pack up some of the leftovers for his lunch tomorrow
Mama S had breast meat and it was tender and not dry. The chicken skin was a little chewy and the risotto was kind of gooey, but still soft. The asparagus were tender, but a little tough on the bottom.
[When the risotto was first ready, Chef D was not home from work, so it had to sit for about 15 minutes before we ate. Unfortunately, that totally changed the texture, which originally was just about perfect.]

Ease of Preparation:
The chicken was easy to work around since it cooked long on such a low temperature. The risotto was not difficult to prepare, but it took constant attention.

Recommendations for future use:
If I make the sticky chicken again, I will ensure that I baste the chicken more often at the beginning. It went about an hour before the first basting and I am afraid that may be the cause for the toughness of the skin. If I make risotto again, I will try to plan the timing better so that it does not have to wait and end up gelling up like it did tonight.

Rating: 4 stars

menu planning monday 09.08.08

For more menu planning ideas, please check out The Organizing Junkie.

Don't forget to check out the previous menus and their reviews by yours truly and Chef D!

Monday: Mimi's Sticky Chicken with whole grain/wild/brown rice and a tossed salad (the chicken did not thaw in time to make it for the previously scheduled day, so we'll have it today)

Tuesday: Sharla's Tortilla Soup 

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: This week's menu at church is Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole, English Peas, Fruit Salad, and dessert.

Thursday: Shrimp Wontons with dipping sauce

: Asian-inspired Salmon, Noodles, and Cole Slaw from Heather's Home Blog.

Saturday: I hope to be serving in the sous-chef role to Chef D who will be preparing a special meal for a special family who will be joining us for dinner.

Sunday: Roast Beef with vegetables (I plan to cook it the longer version as noted in her comment section since it will need to cook for 3 hours while I am at church). This will be our second attempt at preparing a mid-day meal instead of dining out after church. Due to the above-mentioned slow-thawing chicken, it didn't quite work out as planned last week. Our goal is to eventually have this perfected so that we can invite another family over to join us for a home-cooked meal after church each week.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

D2's birthday meal

We spent the very hot afternoon celebrating D2's 7th birthday with a party at the church with his friends. We blocked off the old parking lot while D2, einstein, and seven friends rode their bikes, scooters and skateboards. Afterwards, D2 had the honor of selecting where he wanted to dine for his celebration dinner. Yes, just as I anticipated, he chose McDonald's. He even chose the new, fancy-schmancy Mickey D's with the indoor treehouse playground and updated decor. I have to admit that the Asian Grilled Chicken Salad was edible.

Friday, September 5, 2008

beef stew with honey cornbread muffins

Goal: Today's goal was to prepare a meal that could be made earlier in the day with little last minute preparation since I would be leaving to go scrapbooking immediately after dinner.

Chef D said that the stew lacked some of it's usual flavor (this is a recipe we've used much in the past). He said it seemed blander and may have just needed more salt. He also said he liked the flavor less than that off the usual boxed version I use.  I liked the flavor, but I did add more salt to my bowl. I definitely did not care for the cornbread's flavor, but I think that is because I used old cornmeal that had been in the freezer.

The texture of the stew was just fine, according to Chef D.
Texture was okey-dokey by me, as well. However, the muffins were dry.

Ease of Preparation:
The stew did take a little preparation and time, but since I was able to accomplish it in the morning during some down time, it worked just fine. The cornbread took a little more work than the usual box mix, but it would not have been a deal-breaker if the flavor had been worth it.

Recommendations for future use: On my next attempt at this meal, I will use more salt to the stew and use the Jiffy boxed cornbread mix.

Rating: 4 stars

Thursday, September 4, 2008

birthday mini penne

Since today is D2's birthday, he was given the serious responsibility of choosing the menu for today's dinner. He is a huge pasta lover and chose his most recent favorite, mini penne pastas with sauce, and fresh red delicious apple slices on the side. I decided to add a tossed salad (leftover from Tuesday's meal) and garlic toast (using some hamburger buns found in the pantry that were slightly stale, but still edible -- just dabbed some butter on them, gave them a few grinds of garlic salt and tossed them under the broiler for a few minutes). The boys passed on the salad, and Chef D and I passed on the apples.

I have to admit that I was thrilled that D2 chose this meal, because it is what I call my "old reliable" -- you know, the meal that you make when you just cannot think of anything else. I always keep dried pasta and jarred sauce in the pantry 'for such a time as this'. But, after dinner, I felt sort of...disappointed. I think trying the new things since I started this blog actually left me with some guilt for using my old reliable! Chef D and I agreed that old reliable did not require the usual review.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

carefree AFW

Do you remember that totally carefree feeling you had as a child at play? I remember running through the grass and the wildflowers (maybe they were weeds!), twirling around as I raised my hands and felt the wind through my hair. That is the feeling I have today because it is Apprehension-Free Wednesday.

Tonight's menu at church was: Beef Stroganoff over noodles, green beans, tossed salad, roll and dessert.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


That is the name that Chef D came up with for these tamales. They were made by a lady from Guatemala, not Mexico, and they are very different from the tamales we are accustomed to. Instead of being steamed inside of a dried corn husk, they are steamed within a huge banana leaf. They are also HUGE, with a whole piece of chicken (sometimes with a bone!), surrounded by mucho masa, and covered with a chocolate-infused molé. I served it with leftover Tijuana Kitchen rice from last Friday's meal and a crisp tossed salad.

Since this was not cooked by me I am just going to provide a general review. Chef D and I agreed that we prefer mexican tamales to guatamales. Although the chicken itself was quite tender, there was too much masa and the sauce just did not seem to complement the course. We will not purchase these again.

Monday, September 1, 2008

baked hoisin chicken

Hoisin Chicken with Broccoli: I chose something simple because I knew I might not have much prep time today since it was a holiday and we may be spending time away from home. We did end up dining out for lunch as tigergirl was on her way back to Tigertown (providing her own transportation in her own vehicle this time!). We made a stop at the market to pick up the necessary items for this week's meal before she hit the highway. I am happy to report that most of the cooking this week will be completed with items already in the pantry and icebox. I must add that I changed the menu by replacing the broccoli with fresh steamed pencil-thin asparagus, drizzled with melted butter and salt and pepper. I made this change when I realized we had asparagus in the icebox that needed to be cooked soon. The broccoli can be used with lunch salads during the week.

Goal: Today's goal was to have a simple meal that had at least one course that the boys would eat.

Chef D thought that the asparagus had a good flavor. He thought the flavor of the chicken was missing something. He does not find hoisin a flavor to stand alone, but has found that it needs to have other flavors added to complete it. Overall, the meal was a mixed bag of flavors. The asparagus and white rice did not really complement the hoisin flavor as more asian-inspired components might have done.
I liked the peanut-like flavor provided with the hoisin sauce and thought the asparagus were yummy.

Chef D was pleased with the texture of all items (chicken, rice, and asparagus).
I was really happy about the outcome of the texture of the chicken. I did end up using chicken breast tenders instead of chicken breast halves, though, since they were on sale this week at the market. I also pounded them a bit with the kitchen mallet. I halved the recipe and used 6 tenders with 1/2 cup of hoisin and cooked for 20 minutes. I steamed the tiny asparagus in a bamboo steamer in the wok for 2 minutes, then turned off the gas and they sat for about 4 additional minutes while we prepared our plates. That left them at that perfectly crisp stage that I love. The rice was fine cooked at it's usual 20 minutes.

Ease of Preparation:
This was a very easy meal to prepare and only took about 25 minutes of total preparation and preparation time for everything.

Recommendations for future use:
I will use this recipe again, but will research to find additional spices to add to the hoisin to make it a more complete flavor. Overall, it was a success at having a utilitarian meal providing protein, starch, and vegetable.

Rating: 3 stars
The boys ate the rice and freshly julienned carrots. Chicken nuggets from the freezer were added for D2, while einstein had a mozzarella stick and added some cinnamon to his rice.

menu planning monday 09.01.08

Here it is, my very first meal planning post participating with the folks at Organizing Junkie. Please check out her site for more menu planning ideas.

This is an unusual week for me, from the perspective of menu planning. This is due to the happenstance of both a holiday plus two days affected by birthday celebrations. For those of you visiting for the first time, please feel free to browse through my previous week's practice planning post and reviews. Reviews of each of these meals will be posted daily (hopefully!).

Monday: Labor Day! Baked Hoisin Chicken and steamed broccoli with white rice.

Tuesday: Tamale Tuesday (I've ordered tamales from the local tamale lady) with leftover Tijuana Kitchen Rice from last Friday's meal. One day I might attempt to create my own tamales, but not today.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: This week’s menu at church is beef stroganoff, green beans, salad and dessert.

Thursday: This is D2's 7th Birthday, so he gets to pick the meal - mini penne pasta with marinara and freshly cut apples. I will add a tossed salad and garlic toast to round out the meal.

Friday: It is the first Friday of the month, so it must be Scrapbooking night! This means I need a meal that can be fixed in advance with little after-meal clean-up required. Chef D requested one of my favorites, Sam's Beef Stew and I will add a side of cornbread muffins.

Saturday: D2's Birthday Party is in the afternoon from 2-5 pm. After it has ended, we will celebrate with a meal at a restaurant of his choice. I just hope it is not McDonald's. It looks like there will be no sous-chef Saturday this week.

Sunday: Mimi's Sticky Chicken, rice, and salad for mid-day dinner. Chef D and I have not been in the habit of cooking our Sunday dinner, as we usually either (1) dine out, or (2) find leftovers or sandwiches. We have recently decided to plan a cooked meal for enough to invite another family from church to join us after church each Sunday.