Monday, June 28, 2010

Meal Plan 6/28-7/3

We had quite a large party this past weekend and have a bunch of leftovers from that so my meal planning didn't involve too much thought or shopping this week.

We leave for my family's camp way up north (4-hour drive) on Friday afternoon and we are responsible for Saturday night's meal over the campfire.

leftovers - hubby was (and is still) at a golf tournament so it was just me and my oldest for dinner tonight - I made a box of Pasta Roni Cheddar Macaroni since I knew he'd eat that and spiced mine up with some leftover BBQ chicken, some leftover salsa and a bit of extra cheddar cheese

Tacos! (We don't care for traditional taco seasoning packets, so I make my own taco filling. I brown the beef with some cumin and then add in some black beans, diced tomatoes and brown rice. I think I'm going to add some corn this time, too. And we've got some Romaine growing in the garden to use as a topping. Can't wait for this meal!)

Peppers Stuffed with Cranberry Bulgur (family favorite)


We will be up at the camp.... I'm kinda hoping to go to the Bull Moose Restaurant for dinner. Hubby and step dad talk about it all the time and I still haven't been.

Basil Orange Chicken
Whatever fresh veggies we pick up on the road

I never got to make these Homemade Chewy Granola Bars so maybe I will try this week....
We have a ton of food leftover from the party and we'll be heading out this weekend, so I won't make much extra. I'll be eating a lot of fruit salad for breakfast and snacks!

Meals and Treats with Orange Juice

I have been wanting to post for a while now, but just haven't been able to find the energy! I've been cleaning the house like crazy in preparation for my hubby's 30th birthday party this past Saturday and my dear oldest son has decided that he no longer wants to nap in the afternoons.... for the past two weeks. *sigh*

I have recently found or been given a few recipes that involve orange juice and we have loved and devoured them all. In spite of my love for maple syrup, the French Toast with Orange Syrup has quickly become a new family favorite. It's even the meal my hubby requested for Father's Day! Citrus Pork with Egg Noodles comes from an old/new friend and was a nice way for me to use up some of the pork tenderloins I found on sale. What's even better about it is that my hubby loves Egg Noodles!

The Basil Orange Chicken came from a recent Good Housekeeping and is a great summertime meal. It's a bit of a pain to zest the fruit, but I have found that it freezes pretty well. Last time I made the meal, rather than halving the recipe to feed just hubby and myself, I made the full recipe and froze 2 chicken breasts in the sauce along with some of the sauce in a small container. It tasted great once it was thawed.

My last recipe, I have not tried yet. The recipe is actually called Lemon Fluff Dessert and came from Healthy Cooking magazine. It is a-maze-ing! My mother-in-law and I decided that it would probably taste just as good, if not better, with orange juice and orange gelatin instead of the lemon. I was going to try it this weekend for hubby's, but I kinda forgot and drank the only OJ we had in the house. Oooops. I made the lemon version instead. It's a good thing the recipe came from Healthy Cooking and doesn't have too many calories because I could eat the entire pan. Since hubby won't eat anything that contains cream cheese, I'm going to have to find some family or friends to pawn some of the leftovers off on.

French Toast with Orange Syrup (from The Taste of Home Cookbook)

3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
8 slices day-old French bread

Orange Syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp butter
1 tsp grated orange peel (or 1 tsp orange extract)
1/2 tsp orange extract

In a bowl, beat eggs. Beat in the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Soak the slices of bread for 30 seconds on each side. Cook on a hot greased griddle until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the orange juice, corn syrup, sugar, butter and orange peel (or 1 tsp orange extract). Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in extract. Serve with French toast.

Citrus Pork with Egg Noodles

1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound boneless pork loin, cut into 2x1/2-inch strips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 pound egg noodles, cooked, drained

In a small bowl, combine cumin, salt and pepper. Add pork; toss to coat.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the pork and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes or until browned.

In a small bowl, blend the broth, orange juice, vinegar, and brown sugar. Reserve 1/4 cup of the broth mixture. Pour all but the reserved broth mixture into the skillet with the pork and garlic. Add the carrots. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook 7-8 minutes.

Blend corn starch into reserved broth mixture. Stirring constantly, pour the corn starch mixture into the skillet to thicken the sauce. Add the green onions. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 more minute.

Toss with the noodles. Serve immediately.

Basil Orange Chicken

1 lg navel orange
2 lemons
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1.5 lbs)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 pkg couscous
1 pkg (8 oz.) stringless sugar snap peas
Grilled orange and lemon slices for garnish

From orange, grate 1.5 tsp peel and squeeze 4 tbsp juice. From lemons, grate 1.5 tsp peel and squeeze 1/3 cup juice.

In medium bowl, combine 1 tsp of each peel and 1 tbsp orange juice with half of basil, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

With flat side of meat mallet, pound chicken breasts (placed between 2 sheets plastic wrap) to an even 1/2 inch thickness. (I don’t do this and cooking time is longer without it.) Add chicken to citrus mixture, turning to coat; set aside.

In small pitcher or bowl, combine sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper and remaining citrus peels, citrus juices, basil and oil; set aside. (Can be made to this point up to 8 hours ahead. Cover chicken and citrus sauce and refrigerate.)

Preheat large ridged grill pan or prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on medium-high.

Meanwhile, prepare couscous as label directs. In 4 qt saucepan filled with 1/2 inch water, place a vegetable steamer. Heat to boiling on high. (I microwave my veggies instead.)

Add chicken to hot grill pan or place on hot grill grate; cook 4 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until no longer pink in center.

While chicken is cooking on second site, add snap peas to steamer; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until tender-crisp. Fluff couscous and spoon onto large platter; top with chicken and snap peas. Drizzle sauce over all. Garnish with citrus slices.

Lemon/Orange Fluff Dessert

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 package (3 oz) sugar free lemon (or orange) gelatin
1 cup boiling water
3 tbsp lemon (or orange) juice
1 package (8 oz) reduced-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pour milk into a large metal bowl; place mixers beaters in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; set aside 1 tbsp for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into a 13x9 inch baking dish. Chill until set.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in lemon juice. Cool.

In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add gelatin mixture and mix well. Beat evaporated milk until soft peaks form; fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Note: I had regular gelatin instead of sugar free in the house so I used that and the recipe came out just fine.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meal Plan 6/14-6/20

I'm trying to make the Sunday night meal planning a habit so that the boys and I can get out first thing on Monday morning to get the shopping done. I am not a fan of afternoon shopping!

It's looking to be a busy week this week: Chris' 30th birthday and my step dad's birthday are Wednesday, Isaac's 4-month doctor's appointment is Thursday morning, we have a birthday party and graduation party to attend on Saturday afternoon and then Father's Day is Sunday. Phew! We're also doing some house projects to get our house ready for the party we're having for Chris on the 26th. We started some of the food shopping for that today.

Sage and Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin (was actually on last week's menu but we didn't get to it)
Green Beans
Wheat Dinner Rolls (left over from last week)

Basil Orange Chicken (from the freezer)
Spiced Carrot and Zucchini Quinoa (leftovers that are in the freezer)
Sugar Snap Peas

Wednesday - Chris' 30th Birthday! - Meal of His Choice
Rib Eyes
Egg Noodles
Wax Beans
(exciting, huh?)
Boston Creme Pie

Spanish Chicken & Mushrooms over Angel Hair

Homemade Pizza (have sauce leftover from last week to use up)

Tyler's 4th Birthday Party and Amey's College Graduation Party - not home for dinner

Sunday - Father's Day - Meal of Chris' Choice
French Toast with Orange Syrup - yum, yum, yum!
Fruit Salad (my choice - need a little something healthy in there!)

Light Wheat Bread (maybe x2)
Homemade Chewy Granola Bars
Cookies for Uncle Mike & Uncle Doug (definitely Cranberry Toffee Crisps and Chocolate Chip, possibly Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, Coconut Raspberry and Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies as well - it depends on how enthusiastic I'm feeling - I plan on getting some of the dough ready and freezing it to have on hand)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


One of the things I'm most looking forward to this summer is our garden.

I planted summer squash, zucchini, watermelon (small enough to grow on a trellis, which we have not put in yet), cukes, wax beans and green beans.

We also planted sugar snap peas, edamame (soy beans), tomatoes, broccoli, radishes, spinach, romaine, a pumpkin and just this past weekend, a row of red onions.

Charlie and I started almost everything in our garden from seed back in April. We got a huge bag of potting soil, our packets of seeds, some Sharpie markers and a bunch of Dixie cups and got planting! The only thing we didn't start inside was the radishes, but they grow so quickly, we didn't need to. I think I actually planted outside the first Monday in May. Chris had spent part of the weekend tilling the garden for me. Once it was done, Chris told me I was good to plant anytime. So, the next day, when the kids were napping, I snuck outside with the monitor and got planting. When Chris got home from work and I told him I got the garden in, he informed me that we were supposed to have a hard frost that night! Arg! Fortunately, he was able to cover it with a tarp and the plants made it.

This past weekend, Charlie, Chris and I shared the first sugar snap pea that was ready and it was delicious! We have also been able to test the first strawberries from our strawberry plants. Chris transplanted them from the lawn to the garden by the pool at the beginning of the summer and they are doing very well. We actually had to clean them up a bit this past weekend because they were getting out of control. The berries are super sweet and the seeds are so small they're unnoticeable, which I really like. Charlie surprised me by popping the one I gave him right into his mouth! He doesn't normally try foods so easily.

In addition to our veggie garden, we have been doing a lot of work on our perennial gardens and my herb garden. We have some absolutely beautiful clematis and some gorgeous fluffy peonies that are currently in bloom.

My herb garden is by far my favorite garden, although it's not quite as full as it was last year. My sage, oregano, echinacea (purple cone flower), chives, lavender and some scallions came back this year and I have more I'd like to add.

I started some basil, parsley and sage from seed indoors when I started the veggies and I have them in little pots over the kitchen sink. I can't use them yet, but they're looking pretty good. This past weekend, when we were filling some empty spots in the veggie garden (some of the cukes and watermelon didn't make it), I planted some herb seeds as well. I planted some more scallions as well as some basil, parsley and dill. My mom bought a bunch of herbs from my grandparents' garden store a few weeks ago and she ended up with an extra fennel that she passed along to me, so that's new in the garden this year. I'd like to go to my grandparents' at some point soon to see what else I'd like to add. I'd like to get some rosemary, thyme, mint (planted in containers so it doesn't take over), and maybe some different basils. My goal is to get there before the start of next week!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ritual

I was really in the mood for cookies tonight and was browsing through my cookbooks and the web looking for something that caught my eye. I was thinking something no-bake and was also thinking something chocolate with chocolate and white chocolate chips. But, I couldn't find any recipes that caught my eye and didn't want to wait for the no-bakes to set so I went with chocolate chip, or as Charlie calls them choppit chip.

I have made so many chocolate chip cookies in my life that this recipe has become a bit of a ritual for me and it's so familiar that it's pretty relaxing.

I use the Tollhouse recipe, but I have a few alterations, mainly that I use almost 1 cup of brown sugar and whatever white sugar I need to equal 1.5 total cups of sugar. The extra brown sugar makes a chewier cookie. I'm also pretty liberal with my homemade vanilla.

Part of my ritual is to get all of my supplies out and my ingredients measured and ready to go before I start mixing. I'm also a big fan of washing as I go so there's less to clean up when I finish.

My favorite part of making chocolate chip cookies is testing the dough. I think I actually like the dough more than the finished product.

In high school, my then boyfriend and I would actually mix up butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and sometimes vanilla when we were craving a not-so-healthy snack. I know - gross. If I could only eat that way today and be as thin as I was then! *sigh* :)

Now, I love my KitchenAid mixer, especially when I'm making multiple cookies or desserts at the same time, but I will not use it for my chocolate chip cookies. I feel it changes the texture too much and they don't bake the way I like them to when I use a mixer. So, I get a nice arm workout mixing the dough.

My air bake pans don't hold as many cookies as a normal pan does, but I love them. I can actually take the cookies out of the oven a little before I normally would and they'll continue cooking on the pan. I also love, love, love my cookie scoop!

A somewhat recent part of my routine includes making a few chipless chocolate chip cookies before the actual chocolate chips go into the dough. My hubby and my step dad are both fans of the cookies minus the chips. Although my step dad rarely gets any of my cookies because our family gobbles them up so quickly, I like to make a few chipless cookies for Chris. There are usually some left as I get towards the end of the batter, but to suck up a bit, I tend to make 3 or 4 in my first batch. ;)

Charlie enjoyed his cookie and milk (even though he didn't eat his dinner!)

and I definitely got rid of my craving although I think I actually had a little too much of the raw dough! Tonight's cookies were a bit darker and spread a bit more than normal, but they certainly were tasty.