Sunday, January 31, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of January 31

Last week we did quite well in our menu plan.

We made the Beef Meatballs in Homemade Marinara over Rigatoni and Mr. Gooch made us a tasty Cucumber & Pepper Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.   We also enjoyed a tasty Steak on the Grill, even though it was about 10 degrees outside.  It just gave us an excuse to build a fire to combat the opening and closing of the slider door (and to have s'more for dessert).

We did not get to the Baked Potato Soup in the Crockpot or the Stovetop Taco Pasta so those will go back on the menu for this week.

Check in with us next Sunday to see how we did in following this week's plan.

Sunday:  Out to dinner with my parents after a show
Monday:  Crispy Baked Rosemary-Garlic Chicken  with Balsamic Roasted Potatoes (new recipes for us)
Tuesday:  Stovetop Taco Pasta
Wednesday:  Chicken Chile Verde (new recipe for us)
Thursday:  Forage in the Fridge
Friday:  Forage in the Fridge
Saturday:  Salmon with Lemon Ginger Sauce (new recipe for us)

Bonus Recipe:  Baked Potato Soup in the Crockpot

Make sure to visit to see what others are planning for their week's menu.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Check Out My New Toy!

I had a number of United Frequent Flyer Miles about to expired with no plans on taking any trips in the near future so I was able to turn some in to get this baby.

Isn't she beautiful?

Look at all she can do.

And it is all the better because she was "free" since I wasn't going to be able to use the miles for anything else.

I can't wait to take her out for a test drive.  Maybe cheesy skillet potatoes, sweet potatoe fries or apple cole slaw.  You can bet that I am already looking for ways to really get a feeling for what this baby can do.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mr. Gooch Cooks - Cucumber & Pepper Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

The night that I made Beef Meatballs in Marinara over Rigatoni, Mr. Gooch made this tasty salad.  I had been out running some errands at Home Depot (I swear that I am in that place weekly), Hobby Lobby, the grocery, and the bank.  So coming home to flowers and dinner already started was so sweet.

The best part of the deal?  This recipe is quick, easy and tasty. So if you need to whip up a quick salad that is an alternative to the usual lettuce based version, this is for you.

Cucumber & Pepper Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
(Source:  Depths of Mr. Gooch's Brain)
1 red pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 orange pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cucumber, quartered and cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Italian Herb Blend

Place peppers and cucumbers in a large ceramic bowl.
Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs in a small bowl. 
Mix thoroughly.
Pour over peppers and cucumbers.
Stir to coat.

For best flavor, place in fridge and allow flavors to meld for an hour or more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beef Meatballs in Marinara Over Rigatoni

I have to tell you, I am not a fan of ground meat.  I just don't dig the texture.  I definitely don't do hamburgers.  Too much ground meat all pressed together, I think.   But I do crave a good meatball.  Strange, I know.  But as Mr. Gooch has learned over the years, my food likes, dislikes and issues rarely make any sense.  I could do a whole post on why I don't like shellfish, tomatoes, beans cut into log shapes, mushrooms and a number of other foods.  That is for another time.

This post is about these tasty meatballs.  I have been following Le Petit Pierogi for some time now but haven't yet made any of her recipes.  If this one is any indication, I will definitely be trying more.  I actually have the recipe for Oven Roasted Chickpeas starred in my Google Reader and it should be coming up on deck soon.

These went together quickly and easily.  I used a dutch oven to brown the meatballs and to cook the meatballs in the marinara sauce since I wanted to try to keep the number of dirty dishes to a minimum.  Mr. Gooch loved them and said I would have to make them again. 

Even better, we had plenty left over to package up with some of the sauce and rigatoni to pop in the freezer for last minute meals. 

Beef Meatballs
(Modified Slightly From: Le Petit Pierogi)

1 lb ground beef (we used 18 oz)
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg
2 tbsp ranch dressing
2 tbsp red wine
3/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs (more or less depending on how the meatballs hold together)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp Italian dried herbs
1 qt marinara sauce (I used my homemade marinara)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients except for the marinara sauce.
Mix by hand until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
Roll into 1-2 inch diameter balls.
In a large dutch over, over medium-high heat, brown the meatballs on all sides.
Work in batches if necessary.
Once all meatballs are browned, place all back in to the dutch oven and cover with marinara sauce.
Stir gently to cover the meatballs with sauce.
Cover and bake for 1 hour.
Serve over pasta.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of January 24

Last week was a bit of a bust in the menu planning department.

I made the 3-packet roast but didn't get any pictures since we had my mom and dad over for dinner.  I ended up going out to eat more than I planned and even made myself a Lean Cuisine one night instead of cooking. Mr. Gooch was again working out of town most of the week, thus the eating out and Lean Cuisine. 

So I am hoping that this week will be better.

Sunday:  Chicken Panini with Peppers and Creamy Cheese Sauce (a Mr. Gooch Cooks original coming on this shortly)
Monday:  Meatballs in homemade marinara sauce over Rigatoni
Tuesday:  Out to the movies so a dinner of popcorn and movie treats
Wednesday:  Steaks on the grill
Thursday:  Forage in the Fridge
Friday:  Lean Cuisine
Saturday:  Stovetop Taco Pasta

Bonus Recipe:  Baked Potato Soup in the Crockpot

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Having a Cuppa - January is National Tea Month

I love tea.  I love green teas, fruit teas, black teas, white teas.  I especially like a cuppa in the evening on a cold winter night. If we have a fire in the fireplace, all the better.

Since January is National Hot Tea Month, I thought that I would share my favorite tea shop with you.  Todd & Holland Tea Merchants located in Forest Park, Illinois.  This is a gem located just west of Chicago on Forest Park's main street.  With dozens of different types of teas ranging from green to black to oolong to jasmine to herbal and more, their shop is a delight to visit.  I loved stopping in just to spend time smelling all the different types of tea. 

In addition to teas, you can find teapots, tea cups and other tea related accessories.

Before we moved away six months ago, I stopped in to stock up on some of my favorite teas and tisanes.   These included Serendipity, Moroccan Mint, Several Rooibos varieties, Vanilla Flavored Black Tea along with several others.   

I am actually sitting here drinking some Serendipity as I write this post and Mr. Gooch is drinking a cuppa of the Morrocan Mint while he is trying to conquer the world in one of his computer games.  Such a nice way to end the evening. 

Take a few minutes to check out the shop's web site and maybe sign up to get one of thier catalogs so you too can enjoy one of the amazing varieties Todd & Holland carries. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy 2010 & Resolutions - Better Late Than Never

I realized earlier this evening that I never wrote a "Happy 2010 & Here Are My Blog Goals/Resolutions" post. 


I guess the time got away from me as well as since we are making more progress on our house (check out our house blog Claiming Our Space to see what we have been up to outside the kitchen.)

My goals this year are simple:

1.  Keep cooking and baking
2.  Keep menu planning
3.  Try at least one new recipe a week
4.  Post that recipe in the same week we try it

Definitely doable.

Here's hoping you all have doable goals as well. 

Let's all check in at the end of December to see how we did. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of January 17

Last week was a great success.  Of the four new recipes we tried, three were good enough to stay in rotation and the fourth we decided was more appropropriate as a side dish. 

Not sure if we can match the success of last week but I am going to try.   This week is a crockpot week.  And our new recipes are all for things cooked in the slow cooker.  And since last week all our planned new recipes came from one source, the same goes for this week.   They are all from A Year of Slow Cooking (  You should bookmark this site if you regularly use your slow cooker.

Sunday:  Cheese Tortellini with Alfredo Sauce
Monday:  3-Packet Pot Roast with red skin potatoes
Tuesday:  Forage in the Fridge
Wednesday:   Crockpot Tandoori Chicken with basmati rice
Thursday:  Forage in the Fridge
Friday:  Old Fashioned Chicken Soup in the Slow Cooker
Saturday:  Forage in the Fridge

Bonus Recipe for the Week: Baked Potato Soup in the Crockpot with fresh baked bread

Beef Stew with Red Wine

After making Beef Cooked in Red Wine, we had quite a bit of stewing meat and most of a bag of potatoes left over.  What to make?  What to make?  How about Beef Stew with Red Wine?  I found this post on Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen.  Since they talked about modifying the recipe, I decided to go to the source and change it up to our tastes.

We added more of just about everything and skipped the onions (since we didn't have any in the house).  Mr. Gooch loved it (though he wished it had onions in it).  Guess I will have to add them next time.  Even I, not a huge fan of stews liked this one.  I think it is because there were no mushrooms and no beans. 

Next time, I plan to double the batch to ensure we have enough to freeze for a quick and easy meal when pressed for time. 

Beef Stew with Red Wine
(Sourced from Southern Food)
1 1/2 pounds stew beef

3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Smokey 4/S Seasoned Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
2 cups carrot chopped to bite size pieces
3 ribs celery, chopped to bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups beef broth
2 cup dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon
2 cups potatoes, chopped to bite size pieces
1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary

Trim stew beef and cut in small bite-size pieces.

Put in a zip top plastic bag with the flour, onion powder and seasoned salt.
Toss to coat well.
Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add beef to hot oil and cook, stirring, until lightly browned.
Add the celery; continue cooking, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
Add carrots, potatoes, garlic, broth, wine, and rosemary, bringing to a boil.
After reducing heat to low, cover and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until beef is tender.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pasta with Smoked Salmon in Cream Sauce

I love salmon. I love it so much I could probably eat it every single day.  I love it for dinner.  I love it for lunch.  I love it for breakfast.  I love it baked, grilled, raw and smoked.  With all that, you would think that this recipe was right up my alley.  And it was, sort of.

We made this for dinner and while it was tasty, it is quite light.  More suited for lunch or maybe a dish to add to a Sunday brunch buffet.  I would make it again, just not for dinner.  I would probably add just a bit more parm cheese, to help thicken the sauce.

Pasta with Smoked Salmon in Cream Sauce
(Source:  The Best Ever 3 & 4 Ingredient Cookbook)
6 oz (give or take) smoked salmon, cut into small strips
12 oz pasta
3/4 c cream
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbs butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to direction.
In a separate large saucepan, melt the butter.
Once the butter is melted, stir in the cream and heat without letting it boil.
Add 1/3 of the smoked salmon strips and heat through.
Add Parm cheese.
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Drain pasta.
Place in large serving bowl and pour cream and salmon mixture over top.
Add rest of smoked salmon and dried thyme.
Toss lightly to coat.
Sprinkle with Parn cheese and serve.

Chili-Spiced Chicken - This Time Done Right!

This is a redo of a recipe that I totally failed last week

Well, I can report that when you follow the recipe as written, it is quite tasty.  Actually, it is tasty enough that I wish that I had made an extra few chicken breasts to shred and freeze for use in other recipes.  There is just enough heat to keep it interesting but not enough to make you look for the nearest piece of bread. 

We both decided that this recipe goes quite nicely with corn on the cob and Cilantro-Lime Rice that you usually find at Chipotle

Again, the recipe is from the Best Ever 3 & 4 Ingredient Cookbook which is fast becoming one of my favorite cookbooks.  If you can find a copy, I wholeheartedly think you should get a copy for your own cookbook collection. 

Chili-Spiced Chicken
Source:  Best Ever 3 & 4 Ingredient Cookbook
Chicken Breasts (we used 3)
1 Tbs Chili Powder
1 Tbs Ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Tbs Olive Oil

Rinse and dry chicken breasts
Heat grill pan to medium high
In a small bowl combine chili powder, ground cumin and olive oil. 
Stir to combine and turn into a thin paste.
Brush chicken with spiced paste using a basting brush.
Place on grill pan and cook until cooked through.

Serve with rice or potatoes. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Beef Cooked in Red Wine

This was one tasty and easy recipe. 

I am so loving my Best 3 & 4 Ingredient Cookbook.  The recipes are easy to follow and with a minimum of ingredients (as evidenced by the title of the book, of course).

Mr. Gooch said he really liked this recipe and asked that we add it to the recipe rotation.  That is high praise since I have had a couple of misses lately in the recipe department.  I liked that it was so so easy.  And it only needs one dish.  You marinate in the same dish that you ultimately cook in.  Score! 

I hope you like this as much as we did. 

Beef Cooked in Red Wine
(Source:  Best Ever Three & Four Ingredient Cookbook)
1.5 lbs beef stew meat
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bottle fruity red wine
salt and pepper to taste
crushed dried rosemary to taste

Place garlic in bottom of casserole dish that has a lid
Place meat (cut into bite sized pieces) in dish
Pour wine over beef
Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours to marinate - I marinated overnight
Preheat oven to 325.
Place covered dish with beef, garlic and wine in the oven.
Cook for 2 hours or until beef is tender.
Once cooked, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a sprinkling of dried rosemary.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of January 10

Last week we tried two new recipes.  Neither were a real hit though one was totally my fault.  Note:  reading IS fundamental.  See why here.  But this week we are back to trying new recipes (and a redo of last week's mishap).  Here's hoping they are a greater success than last week. 

Sunday:  Mr. Gooch is cooking.  I have no idea.  Will report back later in the week.
Monday:  Penne with Cream and Smoked Salmon (a new recipe)
Tuesday:  Beef Cooked in Red Wine (a new recipe)
Wednesday:  Chili-Spiced Chicken (this is our recipe redo)
Thursday:  Chicken Quesedillas (using the leftover chicken from Wednesday)
Friday:  Forage in the Fridge
Saturday:  Forage in the Fridge

Whoops. I Got It Wrong - Chili Spiced Chicken

I decided to post this since failure is sometimes a part of cooking.  And while the chicken was edible (barely), it was definitely not what the author of the recipe intended.  Let me just say, reading IS fundamental.

Before I get back to the recipe, I just have to say I love BBC America.  I love the shows that feature British chefs and how their recipes are fabulous in slightly different way.  Maybe it is their accents.  Maybe it is using British terms for items; like rocket for arugala and poussin for small chicken.  Somehow it just sounds more exotic.  I think that is why I found myself flipping through my Best Ever Three & Four Ingredient Cookbook.  It is published by a London-based publisher so th e recipes havethat British flair.  Fair warning - I will be using more recipes from this book in the coming months since I have many I want to try.

Now back to the recipe. You would think since it was from a book touting recipes having only a few ingredients I wouldn't be able to screw it up.  Well, you would be wrong. 

Here is how the recipe is written

Chili-Spiced Poussin
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
salt and pepper

Take special heed of the words Chili Powder

Apparently I didn't. 

I used Cayenne Pepper instead.  Yes, they share some letters.  Yes, they are in the same box in my pantry (the box labeled C).  Yes, they are both red in color.  So you can see how I could get them confused...if I couldn't read (this is where the "reading is fundamental" is key).  Needless to say the chicken was so spicy that it made my mouth burn, and not in a good way.

I am not going to print any more of the recipe since I am going to try this again next week, with the proper ingredients. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Citrus Salmon Fillets - An Interesting Idea

I love salmon.  I could eat it several times a week.  Mr. Gooch, well, he tolerates salmon.

In an effort to expand the file of salmon recipes and to eat lighter in the New Year, I decided to try the recipe below.   I found it in a cookbook I hace had on my bookcase for years.  Favorite Brand Name Cooking Light.  I would link you to the Amazon listing but apparently the book is out of print. 

Unfortunately, we were underwhelmed with the final result.  It was a bit too sweet for us.  This seems to be a theme for us since we were not huge fans of Brown Sugar Pork Loin in the Crockpot or Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange.  But as we ate it, we realized that the recipe did have potential. 

However, that potential would only be realized with some subsitutions.  Some possibilities are subbing lime juice for some of the orange juice, adding a dried pepper to the marinade to add some heat, subbing grapefruit juice for some of the lemon juice, upping the amount of dill and adding another spice.  We will keep you posted on our next try at this recipe. 

Citrus Marinated Salmon
(Source:  modified  from the recipe Citrus Marinated Fish Steaks originally published in the 1993 edition of Favorite Brand Name Cooking Light)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
4-6 oz salmon fillets

Combine juices, olive oil and dill in a quart sized zipper bag.
Place slamon fillets in bag and seal.
Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, flipping bag to enusre all fillets are marinated.
Heat stove top grill pan to medium heat.
Place fillet, skin side down, on pan.
Grill on each side for about 4-5 minutes or until flesh is flakes with a fork.
At the same time that the fish is grilling, heat marinade in small sauce pan and baste the fish to keep moist.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The First Menu Plan for a New Year! - Week of January 3

I have been absent, I know.  But we have been busy here at Casa Gooch.  Watch for upcoming posts to hear all about what has been going on.

For now, it in on to this week's menu plan.

Sunday:  Steak on the grill (damned be the freezing temps) using this recipe.
Monday:  Citrus Marinated Salmon Fillets (a new recipe for us)
Tuesday:  Stove Top Taco Pasta
Wednesday:  Forage in the Fridge
Thursday:  Chili Spiced Chicken (another new recipe for us)
Friday:  Forage in the Fridge
Saturday:  Homemade BBQ chicken pizza

Be sure to visit to see what others are planning this week.


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