Monday, August 29, 2011

Dannon Oikos Review

No doubt you've seen the still incredibly delicious John Stamos in tv spots for Dannon Oikos yogurt.  Come on, not only is he Uncle Jesse and Dr Carl and in a hilariously awkward moment on Friends, but he's Greek (my husband wants me to share the Glee with Stamos "doing the dance in hot pants," but alas, not on youtube.  And to whom are you going to listen when you want to buy GREEK yogurt, but a famous actor of Greek descent?

Ok, all weird sense of humor aside, let me tell you about this yogurt.  I've really become a fan of Greek yogurt lately, because it has much less sugar but yet tastes way sweeter than traditional yogurt, plus it's loaded with a lot more protein than regular yogurt.  It's thick and creamy and just tasty.

So, I've tried a lot of different brands of yogurts, as well as made my own.  Dannon Oikos was definitely the best tasting of the bunch.  I'm always concerned about the amount of sugar in yogurt that has fruit added or blended in, this had 20g in 5.3oz...  decide for yourself about that amount.  I really liked the size; it felt like I got a lot more than other single serve yogurts at the store, even though it looks like they're about the same size or even bigger.

I ate mine either as a morning snack or with my lunch, and it definitely kept me going without my typical mindless snacking.  Love that!  I also like that you can choose Dannon Oikos or Stonyfield Organic Oikos.  I only tried the Dannon, non organic, but since Stonyfield regular yogurts are so good, I would expect their Greek yogurt to be outstanding as well!

I tried three varieties--Black Cherry, Key Lime, and Raspberry.  All were delicious, though some might not like the seeds left in the Raspberry variety.  I love how smooth this yogurt is; I'm not a big fan of pieces of fruit in my Greek yogurt.

Here are some things the Dannon folks want you to know about their product:
  • Dannon® Oikos® is created through an authentic Greek straining process which gives it a rich and creamy-thick texture.
  • Dannon® Oikos® Plain and Fruit on the Bottom contains 0% fat, while the Dannon® Oikos® traditional blended varieties contains about 3% fat. Both are an excellent source of protein, twice that of most regular lowfat yogurts.
  • Dannon® Oikos® 0% varieties contain active yogurt cultures and range from 80 calories (Plain) to 130 calories (Fruit on the Bottom) per 5.3 oz. cup.
  • Dannon® Oikos® 0% Fat Berry Flavors beat Chobani 2-1 in a taste test!*

I hope you try and enjoy Dannon's Oikos as much as I did!  Let me know what you think if you do try.  Also, if you like them on facebook, they will soon be giving away coupons and other fun stuff!

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls on behalf of Dannon. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program but my opinions are my own. For more information and recipe ideas, visit or I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Spice Rubbed Chicken over Spaghetti with Salsa Verde Cream Sauce

Sometimes a meal goes into the meal plan and then doesn't get made for whatever reason.  So, I put it in the next week's meal plan.  Something like this was planned for tonight's dinner; the chicken needed to marinate for two hours, I still hadn't gotten around to it and time was ticking, then I realized my chicken was still partially frozen.

I turned to my BFF Google Reader and came up with this little recipe from A Taste of Home Cooking
Now, if you've been paying any attention, you can probably guess what my husband's response was when I told him the name of the dish, "Is it going to be spicy?  Is A going to eat it?"  I said, "No, it's got spiCES, but isn't spiCY.  And, no, he won't eat it, unless it tastes like PB&J."

So, I move on.  I make this really quick to put together dinner.  The cooked chicken smells awesome; I'm reminded of the chicken fajitas I almost ordered when we went to Friday's the other night.  Then I made the sauce, which also smelled out of this world. 

We sat down to eat, and no surprise, the 1 year old dug right into the pasta and didn't touch the chicken (Funny story from last night, he was actually sucking the sauce off his chicken pieces and putting the sauce-less chicken on his plate).  I really liked mine, because really, what's not to like?  My husband was like this is fine, I'd eat it again (yeah, what feedback.)  AND....

A ate it.  And said he REALLY liked it.  And that it was a keeper and I should make it all the time (as long as I make him mac and cheese too).  M commented that it was in fact spicy, but I said it was the pasta's sauce, which he was eating, so definite score there!

You have to try this recipe!  It's so easy to put together, you can get the spice rub made up in advance and have even less to do during the dinner dash.  If I can find a foolproof (because, at least when it comes to this, I'm a total fool) Mexican rice recipe, I will absolutely make it to go along next time.  The chicken has so much flavor, and the sauce on the pasta adds a whole new level of flavor and texture.

Spice Rubbed Chicken over Spaghetti with Salsa Verde Cream Sauce Source: A Taste of Home Cooking

1 pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup salsa verde
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Set aside.

Place chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper into a small bowl, stirring to combine. Sprinkle over both sides of chicken, then rub. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, oven-safe pot over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes each side. Continue cooking another few minutes to make sure the chicken is completely cooked. Remove from pan and cover with foil until ready to serve.

In the now-empty skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking and stirring until tender, about 5 minutes. Add salsa, tomatoes, sour cream and cilantro, stirring to combine. Just before serving add cooled pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.

Cut chicken into slices. Spoon pasta into serving bowls and top with slices of chicken breast. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro, if desired.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil

When I was growing up, my mother ALWAYS served macaroni and cheese with stewed tomatoes on the side.  While I wasn't nuts about it then, I crave it like nuts now.

So when I was making tonight's macaroni and cheese dinner, I knew I needed to serve a nice fresh veggie side dish and stumbled upon this, and thought it would be an excellent compliment.

I was absolutely right.  This was really tasty, very easy side dish.  I didn't have any shallots around, so just skipped them, but you could very easily use onions if you'd like.

Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil by Giada di Laurentiis


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan Crisps, recipe follows


Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain well; set aside.

Melt the butter and oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the beans and cook until the juices evaporate and the beans are almost tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and basil. Simmer 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl, and serve.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

My four year old ate the healthiest of his life on our recent trip to Disney.  Every day he had macaroni and cheese--when we forced him to eat something else, he ate either a cheeseburger or hot dog... maybe he ate pizza.  Somehow, all this macaroni and cheese hasn't made him HATE the dish, but now he expects to have it daily. 

Meanwhile, my husband dislikes macaroni and cheese.  I'm not quite sure what it is he doesn't like about it--pasta, good... cheesey goodness, gooooood.  Since I don't really know what it is he doesn't like about it, I keep trying different versions of mac and cheese to try and find one we all will like.

Lately, he's been watching a lot of Good Eats, which combines two of his loves, food and science.  He really likes Alton Brown, so I figured trying his version of macaroni and cheese would be a hit.

I got experimental and tried a new product in this macaroni and cheese.  I went with  Barilla Piccolini Mini Pipe with Carrots and Squash.

The mini pipe was so cute!  I noticed a little bit of an unusual taste when I tasted them without any sauce, and placed it as the sweetness of the squash.  I asked my husband what he thought and he didn't notice a flavor difference, but wondered what was up with the color of the pasta.  Good job, Barilla, for making a tasty pasta that sneaks in some veggies!  (Is it wrong that I really wish it was whole wheat too?)

So, the results of Alton Brown's recipe.  It made a lot a lot a LOT of dishes.  I love macaroni and cheese too, and thought this was very good.  I used about 4 ounces of monterey jack cheese in addition to 8 ounces of cheddar, which may or may not have made an impact.

I thought this was a good, if labor intensive, macaroni and cheese.  I really liked the panko bread crumb crunchies on top.  My four year old ATE DINNER!!  And then he said he didn't like it, because he ONLY likes elbow macaroni in his macaroni and cheese.  Aye.  The one year old loved his and screamed for more.  My husband finished his plate, but said he really didn't like it.

See, this is why I give you everyone's impressions--we ate the exact same meal, and all had different thoughts on it.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese by Alton Brown


  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg**. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

**To temper an egg, crack the egg into a bowl, mix it up with a fork, then add some of the hot stuff (that's called a roulx), mix it in, then add it all SLOWLY back into the original pot.  This keeps the egg from scrambling!**

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Apple Cider Braised Pork Sammies with Apple Slaw

I was a fan of Jeff Mauro's on Next Food Network Star from darn near the beginning, but really didn't think he'd be the big winner until about halfway.  In particular, I recognized him as a real contender after a challenge featuring the Rachael Ray show.

When my friend Lisa made (and raved) about the sandwich he made in that episode, I decided to once again follow in her footsteps and make the dish.

This dish made my kitchen smell like fall.  A few years ago, I tutored a girl whose mother simmered a concoction of nutmeg, cinnamon, and other good stuff to make the apartment smell nice, and this was similar.  I chose Woodchuck Cider's Limited Edition Fall flavor, which features those same spices and really added to the great smell.

This took a lot of work.  It was all EASY, but there was a lot of time in the kitchen being fairly hands on in the preparation.  Once again, I wish I'd not listened to the expert chef and not used the box grater.  Julienne or even dice would have been totally fine here (after recently slicing my finger grating a tomato on a box grater, this time I used my mandoline slicer complete with sucky finger guard).

I skipped the celery seed in the recipe, but this made one HELL of a cole slaw.  My husband commented that he couldn't wait for lunch tomorrow, to have the roll and that slaw.  I also skipped the gorgonzola dolce...  Lisa mentioned that she skipped it and didn't miss it, so when I DID find it at $16.99/lb, I figured it wasn't worth my money.  I couldn't find brioche, so got these amazing rolls that were a perfect accompaniment.

Now.  The pork.  As far as the flavor, it was delicious.  I couldn't find brioche, so got these amazing rolls that were a perfect accompaniment.  I didn't do a great job with the pork and we got mouthfuls of a little bit of bone or fat.  Not so much on the appetizing side. My husband, who really isn't a pork chop fan, put it best when he said that there is no problem with the recipe; the pork chops tasted good, had good flavor, but it really wasn't his STYLE of sandwich.    I had a hard time butterflying the very hot, extremely tender pork chop, so served it straight of the bone; this may be behind his response since the thickness probably impacted the texture.

So, give Jeff's recipe a whirl sometime and see what YOU think!

Apple Cider Braised Pork Chop Sammys with Apple Slaw by Jeff Mauro


Pork Chops:

  • 6 bone-in pork chops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups hard cider
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 whole cloves

Apple Slaw:

Sandwich Fixings:

  • 6 brioche sandwich buns, buttered and toasted
  • Spicy dill pickle slices, for serving
  • Gorgonzola dolce, softened, as needed


For the pork chops: Sprinkle the pork chops generously on both sides with salt and pepper. In large, heavy-bottomed deep skillet over medium-high heat, add the grapeseed oil. When the oil is super hot and glistening, sear the pork chops, without moving, until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Pull out the chops and set aside on a plate. Work in batches of 2 chops at a time to ensure they form a nice crust.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions and garlic to the pan. Season again with salt and pepper and sweat the vegetables, 8 to 10 minutes. Deglaze with the apple cider and hard cider, scraping the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the pork chops back to the pan along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Add the thyme and cloves. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until the meat falls from the bone, about 1 1/2 hours.
While the pork is cooking, work on the slaw: Whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, agave nectar, celery seed and Dijon mustard until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the coleslaw and apples and mix well. And more agave nectar if you prefer a sweeter slaw, or more vinegar if you prefer a tangier slaw.
To build the sandwich: Cut the pork away from the bone and butterfly the meat. Place on the bottom bun and top with the apple slaw and pickles. Spread some gorgonzola on the top bun and close the sandwich. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve with the bone on the side and your favorite chips

Mini Meatloaves

This may be the most requested dinner in our house, which is super strange considering that my husband does NOT like beef.  But yet, the beef's flavor is diminished when combined with the sausage and homemade BBQ sauce, and he likes it!  I typically make the whole meatloaf mixture, and freeze whatever's leftover to make meatballs but have also made it into burgers.

Since I last blogged about this recipe in 2007, and it doesn't even have a photo, I figured it was time for an update (not that this is an awesome photo).  I love this recipe, and in its most recent appearance, my four year old helped me cook (though he wouldn't go on and reach his hands into the raw meat, but he did touch it).  I love that I can use ground turkey if it's cheap or turkey sausage, I can use raw onion or dried onion depending on what I have.  I've used a variety of different spices, depending on my mood.  This time around, I used some fresh garlic as well as some garlic powder.  You have to eyeball a few things, like the amount of bread crumbs you use, and the baking time--definitely keep an eye on them after 30 minutes!

 Little Meatloaves Allrecipes


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian-style seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, bread crumbs, milk, cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, Italian-style seasoning, garlic salt, ground beef and ground sausage. Mix this together well and form into individual loaves. Place the loaves in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Mix this together well and spoon some of this sauce over each loaf. Garnish each loaf with some Parmesan cheese and seasoning to taste.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Skillet Shrimp "Fajitas"

My husband was so excited when he heard I was making fajitas, though he kind of raised an eyebrow at them being shrimp fajitas.  He started talking about fajitas to our four year old, describing the onions and the peppers.  He even told me I needed to get started early because I had so many veggies to chop.

Then I put the meal in front of him.  It's really not fair of Rachael Ray to call this a fajita, since what he was picturing is what American chain restaurants have conditioned us to imagine.  It would, however, be totally fair to call this a really yummy shrimp taco. 

Because that's what it is.  A really yummy shrimp taco.  And I've never before had a shrimp taco, so it was a little unusual, but I really did like it.  My husband, however, wasn't nuts about it, largely because of the fajita misconception.

So, tell your family you're making a shrimp taco (that's really yummy!) and perhaps you'll have great success than me!

Skillet Shrimp Fajitas Rachael Ray

  • 1 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek-style
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, for sprinkling
  • Eight 7-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp—peeled, deveined and tails removed


    1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Wrap the tortillas in foil and heat in the oven for 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat; add the onion, season with salt and black pepper and cook until browned, about 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes, increase the heat and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes; transfer to a bowl.
    3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic and crushed red pepper to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, season with salt and black pepper and cook until just pink and opaque, 3 to 5 minutes; stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Serve with the tortillas, onion mixture, yogurt and cilantro leaves.
  • Menu Plan Monday

    Woohoo, on time!

    Monday--Macaroni and Cheese
    Tuesday--Apple Cider Braised Pork Chop Sammie with Apple Slaw
    Wednesday--Chicken Rollatini with Ditalini
    Thursday--Garlic Chicken Pizza
    Friday--Baseball Game
    Saturday--Likely out for dinner
    Sunday--Alice Springs Chicken (didn't get made last week, so maybe this time around!)

    Have a great week!!

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    You've GOT to try this.

    I'll admit it.  I don't like Starbucks coffee.  For awhile, I had a Barnes and Noble credit card, which got me discounts on everything, including the in-store Starbucks.  I tried.  And tried.  And tried to drink their coffee.  I always ended up getting some super sugary latte, which was yummy, but not so great for me.

    So combine this with my husband's dislike of all things coffee, and I was kind of hesitant when I heard Starbucks had a new line of ice creams at the grocery store.  But then I was given the opportunity to try it, and took a good look.  My grocery store had two flavors that were more like the flavored coffee like drinks I often bought at the Barnes and Nobel Starbucks--Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino and Signature Hot Chocolate, and they also make another non-coffee flavor, Vanilla Bean Frappuccino.

    I chose the Signature Hot Chocolate because it sounded awesome.  We both absolutely loved it.  I love that it has swirls of chocolate fudge throughout, but it's different than other ice creams because it's still just an awesome texture--like a cold version of hot fudge.  (That was my favorite part of this ice cream).  I can't tell you if this is like another coffee shop's Iced Hot Chocolate or not, but this is delicious.  It's rich and it tastes like it has both dark and milk chocolates, and if it does, it has them in the perfect combination.

    I'm now really curious about the coffee flavors of Starbucks ice cream.  The Signature Hot Chocolate was so delicious, I can't imagine I wouldn't like all their flavors!  Also, check out the Starbucks Ice Cream website, which provides recipes of different fun things you can do with each flavor.

    I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Starbucks and received coupons and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.  Please check out the very awesome blogging community, Mom Central!

    Kid's Candy Cookies

    My husband has tried this summer to bake with our four year old as frequently as possible.  He went through my magazines and picked two choices for our son, and this was what he wanted to make.

    This was a really yummy cookie, though it spread more than I would have liked and was more crispy than chewy.  The pretzel M&Ms are a nice little surprise, though the individual candies used don't really stand out.  Instead, they make a really nice chocolate chip cookie.

    I think these would have been excellent with the addition of raisins, but suppose that's one that comes to preference.  Do you like your chocolate chip cookies with raisins, nuts, or neither??

    Kid's Candy Cookies Adam Gertler


    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
    • 1 cup Pretzel M&M'S
    • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1/2 cup toffee pieces
    • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking soda in a bowl.

    In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on low speed until incorporated, then increase to high speed and beat until light and fluffy.

    Add the salt, vanilla, whole egg and egg yolk to the mixer; beat until thoroughly combined. Add the Pretzel M&M'S and beat for a few seconds until slightly crushed. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until just combined. Mix in the bittersweet chocolate, toffee pieces and peanut butter chips.

    Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten each ball with your fingers.

    Bake the cookies until the edges are golden brown and the centers are no longer wet, 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Branson, MO

    This post brought to you by Hiltons of Branson. All opinions are 100% mine.

    We just came home from our first family vacation, so I'm learning how wonderful they are as a bonding experience.  I just learned about the wonderful things families can do together in Branson, Missouri.  For example, families can see the Legends of Kung Fu Show, cheer on (or participate in) the Branson Mountain Man Triathlon, among many other activities.

    Of course, families are concerned about value, and Hiltons of Branson  is a great choice.  Their Best Value Vacation Package offers the third night of a stay at either Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel or the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing free, show tickets, a shopping gift card, and meal credits.  Talk about stretching your dollar!


    Visit Explore Branson Site for the complete calendar of events, which includes a list of rainy day activities (parents will find this of importance when looking for ways to entertain the kids and themselves without parking in front of the tv all day!), as well as great outdoor activities like the Hillbilly Chili Cookoff! 

    So, when planning your late summer, early fall family vacation, consider Branson, MO and all the fun family activities they have, for both good and rainy weather!  Consider as well booking your stay at the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, where you can be in the midst of all the action and enjoy great late summer deals!

    Visit Sponsor's Site

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Meal Plan....Wednesday

    Doh!  Forgot to post this again; I was totally ahead in my meal planning, and have been sort of organized in it, but forgot to put it here in my central location.  My awesome husband even took the boys grocery shopping while I took care of other things!!

    Monday:  Skillet Shrimp Fajitas
    Tuesday:  Out to eat!!!  (Uhh, not part of the original meal plan!)
    Wednesday:  Meatloaf (Looks like this post needs an update)
    Thursday:  Chicken Souvlaki with Roasted Cauliflower
    Friday:  Taco Pizza
    Saturday:  Alice Springs Chicken
    Sunday:  Pappardelle with Corn

    Have a great week!!

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Radiatore with Grilled Chicken and Eggplant

    I love when some chef or magazine or whatever gives me a meal plan for the whole week that will reuse ingredients.  Problem for me, of course, is that there are so many "No makes" that those same folks love to add.  So it turns out that I pick and choose from the predone menu, sort of defeating its purpose.

    Rachael Ray is one such organization (chef?  magazine?  I'm not sure how to categorize her, and since I'm sure her people are doing this anyway, organization seems to be the best word choice) that does this helpful tool for email subscribers.  That's where I found the recipe for Radiatore with Grilled Chicken and Eggplant.

    This was almost a meatless meal for us, since putting frozen chicken in the fridge overnight didn't get it defrosted, but I put the bagged chicken in some water and let it sit on the counter, defrosting MOST of it well enough to grill.  Like so many pasta dishes, this one lends itself to substitution as your kitchen needs dictate.

    One note, though, is that the recipe suggests grating the tomatoes and garlic.  Don't.  Put it in your food processor, and save yourself the blood that I shed doing this DUMB task.

    We all enjoyed this one (of course, except for the child who will not eat), and I love that it's full of veggies (I'm thinking some cooked broccoli would be delicious next time), excusing me from making a side dish (what?  That's not what I'm supposed to do??)  If you're one of those lucky people who don't have a groundhog living under their deck, eating all their container vegetables, you could use whatever your garden is growing (I'm really starting to think about the suggestions of certain people that we gas or maybe take a shotgun to that groundhog...  I know my friend Lishie has a recipe for Groundhog Stew on her blog....I keeed I keeed of course.)

    It's funny, one of the nights this week I made one of Rachael's recipes, my husband commented that we typically don't like her stuff.  I don't think I told him that THIS was one of her's, so I guess I need to give credit where credit is due, and he'll embrace RR recipes again!

    Radiatore with Grilled Chicken and Eggplant Source:  Rachael Ray
    • 2 large tomatoes (12 oz. each)
    • 2 cloves garlic, grated
    • 1 tbsp. EVOO, plus more for brushing
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 sprigs basil, plus 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
    • 1 box (12 oz.) tricolor radiatore pasta
    • 1 eggplant (1 lb.), sliced crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick rounds
    • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
    • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced


    1. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Shred the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater set in a bowl. Stir in the garlic and 1 tbsp. EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Add the basil sprigs and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. 2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot.
    2. While the pasta is cooking, brush the eggplant with a little EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Lightly oil the grill grate and grill the eggplant, covered and turning halfway through, until grill marks appear and the flesh is soft, about 10 minutes. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill, covered and turning halfway through, until nicely marked, about 10 minutes. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
    3. Chop the eggplant and chicken and add to the pasta. Add the torn basil leaves and the onion. Remove the basil sprigs from the sauce and discard. Toss the sauce with the pasta, adding some of the reserved pasta cooking water to thin the consistency, if desired; season with salt and pepper.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Spaghetti with "Spicy" Turkey Meat Sauce

    There's nothing like a 30 minute meal.  There's a reason Rachael Ray has made millions creating recipes that could be made in that amount of time, though there's this weird backlash against her for her personality.  I dunno, I like her (most of the time). 

    So when looking to fill my meal plan for the week, I turned this time around to Rachael's weekly meal planner, and came up with Turkey Meat Sauce.  It just happened to coincide with an ENORMOUS craving for meat sauce.

    While a turkey meat sauce didn't quite fill that craving (because how could it possibly compare to a rich, restaurant prepared meal, which probably uses veal, pork, and beef?), it was quite delicious, AS I MADE IT.

    I trusted Rachael, and returned the can of crushed tomatoes I'd brought up from the basement back downstairs in exchange for diced tomatoes.  But then I stirred them in, and this was NOT a sauce for pasta.  So I went back to my gut, and made a much more saucier sauce, with some nice chunks thanks to the diced tomatoes.  I added in lots of fresh basil, a teensy bit of crushed red pepper, some Italian seasoning, another clove of garlic, and came out with a pretty tasty sauce for which I could pat myself on the back as my own sort of creation.

    I enjoyed this one a LOT.  E enjoyed this even more, eating at least three servings.  A barely touched it (though at least he didn't call it "spicy," considering I barely added any crushed pepper!), and M said it was "Not bad" (almost six years of marriage, and I'm still not used to that dig/compliment--it totally depends on his tone of voice, which makes it even more frustrating).

    Spaghetti with Spicy Turkey Meat Sauce adapted from Rachael Ray
    15 30 45


    • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
    • 1 pound ground turkey
    • Salt and black pepper
    • Two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
    • One 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • 1/4 cup chopped basil
    • 1T Italian seasoning
    • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


    1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Increase the heat to medium-high, crumble in the turkey, season with salt and black pepper and cook until the turkey is just no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and spicesand cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley and cheese.
    3. Toss the pasta with the sauce and 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water, adding more water to thin the consistency, if desired. Serve immediately with more cheese.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

    You know I love bruschetta; I've told you only about 100 times.  So when I saw this appear on "Point-less" Meals, I knew I'd be making it very soon. 

    This was so fresh and summery; the bruschetta tasted so perfect, I ate it straight out of the bowl.  Of course it went well with the grilled chicken, I've seen chicken with bruschetta all over the place, and have made a few versions myself.

    My husband was ill that night, so didn't eat any of this, E gobbled it up, and A wouldn't touch it. 

    As suggested at Pointless Meals, I also served this with Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad.

    You should try this while your basil plants are bursting and the produce stands are full of fresh, locally grown (not Florida!!) tomatoes!

    Bruschetta Grilled Chicken Source:  Gina's Skinnytaste, via Pointless Meals

    Grilled Bruschetta Chicken: serves 4 ( 4 oz. chicken + Bruschetta = 6 points + )

    • 3 medium vine ripe tomatoes
    • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
    • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin oil
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
    • 3 oz part skim mozzarella, diced
    • 1.25 lbs (8 thin sliced) chicken cutlets

    Combine garlic, onion, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside and let stand. Dice  and seed tomatoes. Add to balsamic mixture. Right before serving, add mozzarella.
    Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; grill until juices run clear. Serve chicken topped with bruschetta.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad

    My grill has been getting a workout lately, and I've been the Grill Meister...errr, Frauchen.  So when Pointless Meals suggested this recipe to accompany Grilled Chicken Bruschetta, I had no fear (cavalier...). 

    When I went to the grocery store, I chose the way less expensive, still with the roots, arugula, instead of the bagged, convenience, arugula.  BIG.  MISTAKE.  I washed it about a hundred times and there was still sand all over it.  Totally gross (and I'm a beach lover who eats a LOT of sand!), and quite a turnoff.  Lesson learned. 

    When my salad wasn't extra crunchy, it was quite tasty.  I also made the mistake of getting goat cheese instead of crumbled goat cheese, which also wasn't super appetizing in this preparation, but it added great flavor anyway.

    Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad Source:  Cooking Light via Pointless Meals

    ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
    2 T. honey
    3 peaches, each cut into 6 wedges
    1 T. olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    5 oz. Arugula
    2 oz. thinly slice prosciutto, cut into ¼ " strips
    2 T. crumbled goat cheese

    Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until vinegar is reduced to about 2 T. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Cool to room temperature.

    Place peach wedges on a grill pan coated with cooking spray. Grill 30 seconds on each side or until grill marks appear, but peaches are still firm. Remove from grill and set aside.

    Combine oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add arugula and toss. Arrange arugula on a platter. Top with peaches, prosciutto and goat cheese. Drizzle with balsamic syrup.

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Oven Roasted Broccoli

    It's not typical for me to think about side dishes.  They're usually at the last minute consideration, meaning it's frozen veggies nuked.  Something made me buy a head of broccoli at the store the other day, which worked out great for our carb heavy, veggie and protein light, dinner that evening.

    We've been on an Alton Brown kick of late, ever since my husband started DVRing Good Eats.  So, I went directly to the AB page on Food Network's website to find a great broccoli recipe, and found this one.

    I liked that it gave a nice flavor to the broccoli and made it very tender.  The addition of panko gave it a nice, unexpected, crunch too.  My anti broccoli 1 year old at least kept TRYING this broccoli, rather than throwing it on the floor.  He had a tough time with the stalks, but the problem didn't seem to be the taste.

    Oven Roasted Broccoli from Alton Brown


    • 1 pound broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or sharp Cheddar


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8-inch thick, round slices. Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and pepper and set aside.

    Spread the panko into a 13 by 9-inch metal cake pan and place into the oven for 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove the panko from the oven and add to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Toss to combine. Return the mixture to the cake pan, place in the oven and roast just until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, toss in the cheese and serve immediately.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Creamy Shrimp Rolls

    If you were to ask my husband what food he'd like for his last meal, he wouldn't reply a steak dinner (he hates beef of pretty much all kinds) or even his well loved Crab Legs.  No, this man would ask for a sandwich.

    When Lisa shared this recipe from Woman's Day magazine, I knew I'd be making it that week, because it sounded pretty tasty, easy, and most importantly, no cook (aka, no heat!).

    I was glad I did; we all really liked this, and my doesn't want to eat anything I put in front of him child asked for seconds and also wanted it for lunch the next day.  (Hallelujah, Woman's Day magazine and Lisa!)  I didn't have any tarragon, though I thought I had some in the cupboard, so instead used dried oregano.  Also, like Lisa, I couldn't find cornichons.  I took her advice to get the smallest pickle you can find, and used these.

    So give this baby a try for a ladies' lunch, Lenten dinner, or just because it's too darn hot!  I served with sweet potato fries and regular fries!

    Creamy Shrimp Rolls Woman's Day
    (Link is currently broken as of August 10, 2011.)
    Recipe taken from Yahoo! Shine
    Recipe Ingredients
    • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
    • 1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
    • 1/4 cup cornichons, chopped, plus 1 Tbsp brine Black pepper
    • 1 lb cooked, peeled and deveined large shrimp, coarsely chopped
    • 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
    • 4 hot dog buns
    • 4 pieces romaine or green-leaf lettuce
    • Potato chips, for serving
    Recipe Preparation
    1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise mustard, brine and 1/4 tsp pepper.

    2. Add the shrimp, cornichons and tarragon and toss to combine.

    3. Line the buns with the lettuce and top with the shrimp mixture. Serve with chips, if desired.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Chunky Gazpacho with Sauteed Shrimp

    Sorry to have been so absent for so very long.  It's embarrassing.

    I made this a few weeks ago during a huge heat wave.  I had no interest in heating up the kitchen, so gazpacho seemed a natural choice.  I haven't been traditionally a fan of gazpacho, so I hoped the addition of shrimp to the recipe would change the flavor dramatically but still keep my kitchen cool.

    While I didn't make the recipe exactly as written, since I used all red tomatoes, I still wasn't super enthused about this gazpacho.  I guess something's wrong with me; who wouldn't love the fresh flavors of summer produce?   I was right that the addition of shrimp would make a big difference; the spoonfuls with shrimp as well as soup were quite delicious.  Maybe you'll try cutting the shrimp into smaller pieces so there is shrimp throughout?

    But perhaps someone out there hasn't perused the Cooking Light website lately and happens to LOVE gazpacho, or will play with the ingredients a little different so that it's not so heavy on the cucumber flavor.

    Chunky Gazpacho with Sauteed Shrimp Cooking Light August 2010


    • 1 1/2 cups chilled low-sodium vegetable juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
    • 1 1/2 pounds red tomatoes, cored, chopped, and divided
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled
    • 1 cup chopped English cucumber, divided
    • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, divided
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 12 ounces yellow tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    • Cooking spray
    • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
    • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek-style plain yogurt


    • 1. Place vegetable juice, salt, ground red pepper, half of red tomatoes, and garlic in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed tomato mixture into a large bowl. Place the remaining red tomatoes, 2/3 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup bell pepper, 1 tablespoon basil, and lemon juice in blender; process until smooth. Add to pureed tomato mixture in bowl. Stir in remaining 1/3 cup cucumber, 1/4 cup bell pepper, and yellow tomatoes. Cover and chill.
    • 2. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp to pan; grill 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat.
    • 3. Ladle about 1 3/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 4 ounces shrimp, 2 tablespoons yogurt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons basil.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Meal Plan Monday

    My laptop is on the fritz, so despite having a few posts to write, it doesn't look like they'll be done any time soon, so I don't jeopardize my husband's ALL night.

    So here's what's on deck for this week:

    Monday--Pasta with Mascarpone and Roasted Grape Tomatoes with Oven Roasted Broccoli
    Tuesday--Grilled Bruschetta Chicken with Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad
    Wednesday--Orange chicken
    Thursday--Radiatore with Grilled Chicken and Eggplant
    Friday--Bacon Ranch Chicken Pizza
    Saturday--Skillet Shrimp Fajitas
    Sunday--Spaghetti with Spicy Turkey Meat Sauce

    I got tired of searching and searching for recipes this week, so I turned to Rachael Ray's weekly plans in my email, because I figure they're at least sort of seasonally appropriate.
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