The “Rotation”

Cooking has become understandably more difficult since Margo has come onto the scene. However, eating healthier food at home has also become more important, so I’ve been working on finding easily prepared meals. We have a few favorites, but we also are being challenged to try new veggies since we get a CSA (community supported agriculture) produce box weekly. It’s pretty fun, Scott brings home a box full of in-season and locally grown items and we have to find a way to use them or freeze them (or make baby food out of them!) We’re stepping well out of our comfort zone, but also eating a lot more veggies than we otherwise would be. This week’s main challenge: Eggplant. Here‘s what I made, and it was delicious!! I’d never actually (knowingly) eaten eggplant until this weekend… it was pretty good & we’ll make it again!

This is our current “rotation” of good recipes:

Life-Changing Chicken – or bbq skewer chicken, if you want a more descriptive title. I like this one because 1. it’s DELICIOUS and 2. I can make it the night before lessening the work right before dinner. That’s a big challenge, since Margo hits the sack at 7 and Scott often gets home at 5:45 or so.

Yummy Salad – This is more of a strong side dish, but it’s fabulous for summer and I’ve been making it often.

Dry Rubbed Pork Chops – This one makes me feel all “cheffy” since I kind of don’t have a recipe & just wing it. I used this video as a basic how-to. I also throw a splash of apple juice in the baking dish while I let them marinate to keep the moisture for when they cook. Another dish I can make ahead… loves it! They’re yummy on the grill or in the oven!

Grilled Potatoes – If we’re grilling anyway, these are a great sidekick to our meat dishes.

I’m trying to branch out as much as possible, and use the wonderful produce we have. And whatever we have & don’t want to eat (*cough*SWEET POTATOES*cough*), well, Margo will get that in a month or so 🙂

Go make this salad.

That’s an order.

I haven’t done recipes on here in For-Evah! And I’m not sure if I’ll dust off that tag on the blog or not, but my good friend Megan made us some food right after Margo was born and I recreated the salad she brought yesterday. Omigah, it’s amazing. Don’t question the ingredients, just go make it. I had it for lunch yesterday and was seriously contemplating having it for a snack. Cause, you know, salad is a good snack? I’m no veggie nut or anything, but it’s a testament to how rockin’ this salad is.

I did buy most of the ingredients from Whole Foods (which is closer than Earthfare to our house… but we still prefer EF!) so most of the things in it were organic or natural in some way. Can’t say if it tasted better than with processed ‘gredients (such as Craisins and pesticide apples) but it tasted darn good this way.

Festive Tossed Salad
Dressing:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider or red wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
2 T finely chopped onion (pureed so it’s liquidy)
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil (vegetable, olive, canola, whatever)
2-3 T poppy seeds

Salad:
10 cup torn Romaine
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 med. apple, cored and cubed
1 med. pear, cored and cubed
1/4 cup craisins (or sweetened dried cranberries)
1/2-1 cup chopped cashews
In blender or food processor combine sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, onion and salt. Cover and process until blended. Gradually add oil. Add poppy seeds.
Combine rest of ingredients. When ready to serve, drizzle with desired amount of dressing.

Shrimp Scampi Linguine


So, I realize this is about 2 weeks after the fact, but here is the recipe that Scott made me for Valentines’ Day with some pictures 🙂 It was SO delicious, made lots of leftovers and Scott has decided it’s his new “thing” to make it for me. He actually made it last weekend too!

Shrimp Scampi Linguine Pasta

From: Food Network

  • 1 pound linguini
  • 4 tablespoons butter (Halfed this)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (We halfed this)
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional (NO MORE THAN A PINCH!!)
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (We used chicken the second time to be cheap, it was good, but not quite as good as the shrimpies!)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

Directions

For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

This is the mess he made 🙂 It was quite impressive… of course I helped clean up!

One thing that is cool about this recipe is I think it could easily incorporate other ingredients – if you have extra tomatoes or broccoli or WHATEVER, it could be added to this meal.

Pigs in a Blanket

I made this recipe a few weeks ago and we’ve been excited the whole time to make it again. 🙂 Make it with the mac & cheese – it does not disappoint!

Pigs in a Blanket
From: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Bread dough:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup milk
1½ tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
3½ cups (17½ ounces) unbleached flour
1½ teaspoons instant yeast
1½ teaspoons salt

10 hot dogs (we use low fat turkey dogs)
2 tablespoons milk

1. Heat butter in small saucepan over medium heat until just melted. Add ¾ cup milk and sugar. If butter re-solidifies, heat until it’s completely melted. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs.

2. Mix flour, salt, and yeast in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium (setting number 4 on a KitchenAid mixer) and mix until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 8 minutes. Knead in extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be not be dry, but soft. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds. (Alternatively, you can knead by hand for 10 minutes.)

3. Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; place in warm, draft-free spot until dough doubles in size, about 1-1½ hours.

4. Divide the dough into 10 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Let rest 10 minutes. Line baking pan with silicon baking mat or parchment paper.

5. Flatten each piece into a rough rectangle using the tips of your fingers. Roll in one direction until dough is ¼-inch thick. Roll in opposite direction (across shorter width) a few times, then fold in long edges to make perfect rectangle. Roll in long direction until dough is 1/8-inch thick. Place 1 hot dog near a short end, then tightly roll, keeping the tips of the hot dog exposed. Place seam side down on prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough and hot dogs.

6. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until dough is slightly inflated, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees.

7. Brush the dough with milk. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Meatballs. Not just any meatballs, the best ones. Ever.


Tonight, I think Scott and I found a new favorite meal. We raised a bar in our kitchen… those boring old recipes and casseroles are going to have to work hard to compete with this.

I just finished eating, and I’m still going to have to tell my stomach not to growl and my mouth not to salivate as I type out the recipe and post the picture. Mmmmm, it was fabulous!!!

Florentine Meatballs
(from Rachel Ray…who knew?!)

Ingredients:
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted in the microwave
1 1/3 lb ground turkey breast
1/2 of a medium onion, finely chopped (it called for all but 3 tbsp of a med onion, but we used 3 tbsp tonight and it was perfect…your call.)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large egg
1/4 c milk
1/2 c grated Parm cheese
3/4 c bread crumbs
Olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.

Wring out defrosted spinach. (Trivia: this is one of my LEAST favorite things to do in any recipe ever.) Place turkey in a bowl and make a well in the middle of it. Add the spinach, onion, garlic, egg, milk, bread crumbs, Parm and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and form into 12 large balls. (Next time we will make more smaller balls. It makes 12 VERY large meatballs…) Place on a non-stick cookie sheet & drizzle with virgin olive oil. Cook for 20 min in the oven until cooked through.

We LOVED them w/ a nice soft bakery sub roll. And some tomato sauce, and a slice of provolone cheese… Mmmmm.

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

OMG…these were crazy delicious! The hot sauce was hotter than I expected…maybe heating it up (temp-wise) made it hotter (spicy-wise)? Either way – I LOVED these… they were so so good. They were easier than they seemed like they’d be too.

And like all breaded chicken that I’ve ever made, re-heating them in the oven is highly preferable to heating them in the microwave bc of the mushy factor.

Oh, and in random news – I served it with some Hidden Valley Ranch dressing we had in the fridge that expired June 29 08. Guess what day we ate it? June 29th. Isn’t that vierd?

Buffalo-Style Chicken Strips with Ranch Dressing
Got it from Amber’s Delectable Delights

Ingredients
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (I omitted)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted)
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used crushed red pepper flakes instead…though IDK if they’re the same thing. I don’t think they are… eh well.)
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed cornflakes (I used whole grain Total – it was awesome!)
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Cooking spray
1/3 cup hot sauce (such as Crystal) (I used Franks Red Hot)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco) (Yeah, I omitted this too.)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fat-free ranch dressing
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 x 3-inch sticks
4 carrots, cut into 1/4 x 3-inch sticks

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Place cornflakes in a shallow dish. Working with 1 chicken strip at a time, dredge in flour mixture. Dip in egg whites; dredge in cornflakes. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken strips, flour mixture, egg whites, and cornflakes.

Lightly coat chicken strips with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until done, turning once.

Combine hot sauce, pepper sauce, and Worcestershire in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Drizzle hot sauce mixture over chicken. Serve with ranch dressing, celery, and carrots.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

Thanks to Ash for this fabulous recipe! It was not only delicious, but made a lot so we had it practically all week! Both Scott and I gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.


Crunchy Garlic Chicken

1.75 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c butter, melted (I subbed 3 egg whites here)
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp chives
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder (I think I upped this!)
2 c Total, crushed (I used Special K bc it was on sale.)
3 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp Parm cheese (my addition…)

Directions:
Pray a 9×13 in pan. In a shallow dish, mix butter, milk, chives, salt and garlic powder. In another shallow dish, mix crushed cereal, parsley, paprika and Parm cheese. Dip chicken into milk mixture, then coat lightly and evenly w/ cereal mixture. Place in pan. Drizzle with remaining cereal breading once you’ve breaded all the breasts. Bake 20-25 min at 425.

Here are some reflections and tips:

  • It would be a great recipe to make when having company over.
  • Warming it up in the microwave wasn’t the most wonderful thing in the world (the breading got kinda mushy) – but in the oven on the pizza stone it was awesome!
  • I used big ‘ole chicken breasts but Scott and I actually thought either cutting up the breasts or using chicken tenders would be a better utilization of the breading and achieve a better ratio of crunch to chicken (Yes, we actually talk like that…)
  • Ash also suggested using breadcrumbs to supplement the cereal chunks for more thorough coverage.
  • It’s a really versatile taste – the first night I made potatoes and last night we ate it as a chicken Parmesan type of thing, with some spaghetti. A total chameleon.