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.