Sunday, April 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - A Tasty Week Planned

We survived Spring Break. Nothing like having three ravenous teens and pre-teens descend on your house to realize exactly how important a menu plan can be. I always ready with an answer of the "What's for Dinner?" question. And I was glad to be able to expose the kids to at least one new thing: homemade, totally from scratch including the sauce, personal pizzas.

This week it is back to Mr. Gooch and I. And since I will be working for most of the week so we have only one new recipe that I am adapting from a pork roast recipe I found online. We also hope to actually blog about the recipe we submitted to a beef recipe contest.

Sunday: Teriyaki Marinated Steak
Monday: Crockpot Chicken with carrots and potatoes seasoned with smoked paprika and Northwoods Fire
Tuesday: Balsamic Rosemary Pork Chops
Wednesday: Forage in the Fridge
Thursday: Crockpot Garlic and Herb Roast (look for a blog post on this one afterwards) with Cheesy Skillet Potatoes
Friday: Forage in the Fridge
Saturday: Tuscan Steak (look for a blog post on this one afterwards) with Sweet Potato Fries

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week we have the kids for Spring Break so amazingly, I had the menu planned weeks ago.

With a busy week planned and my working part of the week (Mr. Gooch has the whole week off) we needed to have a plan made well in advance so I could prepare a few dishes in advance, we could coordinate with people's schedules and not be stressed about that dreaded question "what's for dinner?"

To keep surprises to a minimum, we kept to favorites we have made and enjoyed. I can only imagine the nightmare it must be to make a dish for the first time and seeing a series of horrified and "yucky" faces staring back at you from around the dinner table.

Sunday: Family Dinner (Grandma, Aunts and Cousins over for dinner)
Monday: Lasagna (made in advance)
Tuesday: Homemade pizzas
Wednesday: Balsamic Pork Chops
Thursday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Friday: Out for dinner (probably to the Cheesecake Factory)
Saturday: FITF

Tasty Breakfast Casserole

Sorry, I don't have a photo of this one.

By the time I remembered to get out the camera to take the photo, the casserole had been decimated by 5 hungry people. I figured the fact that only random pieces and chunks were left was high praise from the masses.

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Mr. Gooch's only complaint was that he thought it needed a bit more kick. However, the kids seemed to think it tasted just fine. So the consensus is that if I make this again for adults, I will be spicing it up a bit more.

Breakfast Casserole
(Source: Combination of various recipes and the depths of my brain)
Cubed bread (10 slices)
1 lb cooked sausage
small sweet onion minced
1 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese
3/4 lb ham, cubed
9 eggs, scrambled
1/2 cup skim milk

Place cubed bread in a greased 9x13 inch pan.
In a separate bowl, combine cooked sausage and onion.
Sprinkle sausage mixture over cubed bread.
Cover sausage layer with shredded cheese.
Top with cubed ham.
Scramble eggs, pepper to taste and milk then pour over entire dish.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until eggs are firm in the middle. (Note: if you make the night before add 10 minutes to the cooking time due to the casserole being cold versus room temp).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

There are a number of creamy chicken enchilada recipes floating around the Internet. Having never made enchiladas before but having all the seemingly necessary ingredients in my pantry, I cobbled together my own recipe.

Before I go any further, I have to tell you Mr. Gooch was so impressed that I had made a dish with such heat and flavor. You see, when we first started dating, heat and/or spicy were not really in my repertoire. To be honest, I was pretty close to the queen of bland. My idea of spicy was using Italian dressing as a marinade on a salmon fillet. And any heat was to be avoided. Yeah, it was that bad. But Mr. Gooch began to rub off on me. Starting with the Barbacoa beef burritos from Chipotle and moving onto spicy marinades for various meats. Apparently, hanging out with my hubby has opened my food horizons. Of course, living within 1.5 miles of a Penzeys doesn't hurt either.

Now back to the recipe review, I was nervous since this was my first enchilada attempt but the results were very very good. So good that we both has second helpings. As written below, the heat in the mouth factor may be considered by some to be quite high. This was especially pronounced since we did not eat it with any rice. To lessen the heat, you can remove the seeds from the chilies before you mince them.

Creamy Chipotle Enchiladas
(Source: the depths of my brain and about 50 different recipes found scattered around the Internet)
2 large cooked and shredded chicken breasts (approximately 3 cups)
10 taco size tortillas
1 jar enchilada sauce
2 chipotle peppers, minced and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a can
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 red onion chopped fine
1 green pepper chipped fine
1 Tablespoon olive oil
8 oz low fat cream cheese, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sweat onions and green peppers.
Add adobo sauce and chipotle peppers.
Saute for another 3-5 minutes.
Add cubed cream cheese.
Stirring frequently until melted.
Add shredded chicken.
Mix thoroughly and remove from heat.
Fill tortillas with chicken mixture, roll and place seam side down in a 9x13 nonstick pan. (I was able to fit them in a 2 x 5 configuration.)
Once pan is filled, cover with enchilada sauce.
Sprinkle cheese on top of sauce.
Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.
Let sit covered for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My New Potato Love - I Say It's My DNA's Fault

I love a good potato.

I love them roasted, mashed, sauteed or baked. Served with cheese, bacon, butter or herbs. Made on the grill, in the oven or on the stove top. I love Yukon Gold, Redskin and Russet. And now I have a new love. The Fingerling potato.

I saw the bag of multicolor Fingerlings at Costco and just had to buy it. I figure it must have been my Irish heritage crying out in my DNA telling me to "Eat the potatoes!!"

Once I brought them home, the questions was how to prepare them. Some I used in the Braised Herb Chicken Thighs With Potatoes and those were quite tasty but I still had plenty left.

On the drive home after a trip to Penzeys to get some more Italian Herb Blend, it hit me. Roasted with herbs, olive oils and roasted garlic salt. I could taste the goodness already. I also remember having seen an episode one of the chefs of some cooking show on PBS from years ago making a series of cuts in fingerling potatoes prior to roasting so I tried that as well. I think that the olive oil and salt were able to get into get into the cracks making these taste so wonderful.

Herb and Garlic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
(Source: the depths of my brain)
Fingerling potatoes
Olive Oil
Roasted Garlic Sea Salt (I purchased this at Costco)
Italian Herb Blend

Preheat oven to 350.
Wash potatoes.
Let dry slightly.
Make a series of cuts down the length of each potato about halfway through.
Place in a small bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with roasted garlic salt.
Sprinkle generously with Italian herb blend.
Stir to coat all potatoes with olive oil, salt and herbs.
Pour onto nonstick baking sheet.
Cook for 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Delicious WW Dessert - Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce

This is a total winner. I would make it each and every day if I could. It is sweet and satisfying and filling yet healthy, that ever elusive combination in desserts.

I suppose the only way to make it more perfect would be to some how to add chocolate to the dish. Now, I know, you don't have to tell me, chocolate is not particularly dietetic. But a woman can dream can't she?

And the leftover caramel sauce is great over low fat vanilla ice cream.

Weight Watchers Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce (3 points)
(Source: WW New Complete Cookbook page 390)
24 Apricot halves, chopped
4 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 small apples, cored (we used gala apples since they were on sale)

Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup evaporated fat-free milk
4 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine chopped apricots, brown sugar and vanilla in a small bowl.
Place each cored apple onto individual pieces of aluminum foil.
Stuff apricot mixture into the cavities.
Wrap apples tightly and place into a square baking pan (to catch any drips).
Place baking pan into oven and bake for 40-45 minutes (or until apples are soft)

Place a small saucepan on medium heat.
Combine 1/4 cup of the evaporated milk, brown sugar cornstarch and salt in the saucepan.
Stirring until ingredients are melted and smooth.
Add remaining milk.
Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low.
Continue stirring for one to two minutes.
Turn off heat and add vanilla, stirring to completely incorporate.

Once apples are cooked, remove from the foil, place in a small bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Creation Success - Chicken Roulade

Have you ever had an idea for a recipe rolling around your head? All you know is the ingredients you want to use? Well, I had this happen. It took a few days but I finally figured it out.

I would make a chicken roulade. With that decision, I was off searching for my meat pounding mallet. Or as I was calling it that night, the meat smasher. (Picture me rummaging in the lower cabinets in our buffet unable to find sad item yelling to Mr. Gooch, who was upstairs, "did you move the meat smasher?!?" Yeah, it wasn't pretty). But ultimately, I found the smasher and proceeded to smash the tar out of the chicken breasts.

Now the recipe below is approximates. Why? Because in my haste to put this together, I totally forgot to write down any amounts. Whoops.

However, the fact remains that it was so tasty! I will definitely be making this again.

Smoked Gouda Bacon Chicken Roulade
(Source: the depths of my brain)
Boneless skinless chicken breasts, smashed to 1/4 inch thick
3 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
Smoked Gouda, shredded
Penzeys Northwoods Fire spice mix (my new favorite)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Using a brush, coat the chicken breast with olive oil
Season both sides with salt, pepper and Northwoods Fire spice mix
Lay flat and spread crumbled bacon and smoked Gouda cheese
Roll breast, from the small end to the wide end.
Once rolled up, secure with a toothpick.
Place seam side down on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until juices run clear

Chicken, Ranch, Cheese and Crunch - Does It Get Better (WW Friendly)

I was reviewing the starred recipes in my Google Reader and came across this recipe for Parmesan Ranch Chicken on Kara's Kitchen Creations. It had all the things that I like chicken, cheese, ranch dressing and cereal. Mr. Gooch and I have discovered using corn flakes works really well to have a oven baked crispy dish (check out the WW recipe Southern "Oven Fried" Chicken to see what I mean). If this had bacon in it, it would be perfect!

Even better, it looked like with a couple tweeks, I could cut down the fat even more and make it Weight Watchers friendly. My changes are reflected in the recipe below. I also did all the computations to figure out the Weight Watchers Points. The point total for the entire dish is 32. And since we got 6 servings out of our breasts, that made it 5.5 points per serving.

Parmesan Ranch Chicken
(Modified from: Kara's Kitchen Creations)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (total pre-cooked weight: 18 oz. )
3/4 cup crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Cooking Spray

Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry with paper towel and set aside.
Combine corn flakes, Parmesan cheese, and ranch dressing mix in a shallow container. Mix thoroughly.
Coat chicken with olive oil, using a basting brush to make sure chicken is completely covered. Then dredge in crumb mixture, pressing mixture onto chicken breast to ensure coverage.
Place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
Drizzle any leftover olive oil over the coated chicken pieces.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or till juices run clear.


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