Monday, August 20, 2012

Our Dinner Menu Plan

My oldest son attends a year round school so technically we are on vacation until the middle of September.  I am going to post this weeks dinner plan and then I will take a brief break to spend quality time with the boys.

What are you serving for dinner this week?  (Please post in the comments section)

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Carolina Crab Cakes (loved this recipe - it has no mayo), Fried Okra, and Bunny Mac 'n' Cheese

*My husband caught 28 blue crabs at the beach this past weekend.  He spent about 4 hours removing the meat and boy were these crab cakes good!!)

Tuesday - Teriyaki Pork Chops, Rice and Mixed Greens

Wednesday - Healthier Version of Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo (use fat-free milk - recipe does not state) with Tomato Salad and Bread

Thursday - Refried Beans, Brown Rice and Side Salad

Friday - Pumpkin Waffles or Pancakes (I have not decided just yet), Bacon and Fruit Salad

Saturday - Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Bread

Sunday - Tacos, Spanish Rice, Side Salad and Banana Parfait

Crock Pot Quinoa Casserole

Crock Pot Quinoa Casserole
I am sure you have heard me talk about this before, but each week I try to prepare at least 2-3 vegetarian dinner meals.  I believe it can sometimes be cheaper and healthier, plus it brings us out of our comfort zone.

I came across a recipe for Crock Pot Quinoa Casserole and thought it sounded easy (I love easy), and healthy, plus it met the requirements for vegetarian night.  I did add garbanzo beans, as she suggested, to make it a little heartier.   I also added peanuts in the last 30 minutes of cooking, instead of almonds.

I really loved this dish, but my kids did not.  My husband said it was okay, but would be great with chicken (ha, ha).  I think that would officially take it out of the vegetarian category, don't you think?

You should really give this Crock Pot Quinoa Casserole a try if you are up for trying something new.  It would make an awesome side dish too!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

End of Summer Soup

End of Summer Soup
This week has been crock pot week for us.  I tried to find new recipes, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, that would be a great fit for my family.

Remember the lady that cooked in her crock pot every night of the week for an entire year?  Well, I have used some of her recipes in the past and thought I would give another one a try.

End of Summer soup sounded like a good way to incorporate lots of vegetables and perfect for vegetarian night.  I did make quite a few changes to the original recipe, like adding eggplant instead of squash, carrots instead of zucchini, okra and fresh herbs such as basil and parsley.  My family thought this soup was just okay.  I may have changed it too much from the original. 

It is definitely an easy soup to make and cook all day long.  I would give it another try, but stick with the original.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chocolate Cheerio Treats

Chocolate Cheerio Treats
As you all know I LOVE chocolate.  The other day I really wanted a snack with some chocolate, but of course, we did not have any.  I decided to put some things together to make these super chocolatey treats.

Sorry to say that I did not measure anything so please feel free to change the ingredients according to your tastes.  Next time I make this I think I will put less sugar and less honey.

Chocolate Cheerio Treats


*Measurements below are estimates

1/4-1/2 Cup Honey
1/4-1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/4-1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolates
Handful of small marshmallows
3 - 3 1/2 Cups Regular Cheerios

Melt honey, sugar, peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallows in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  

Once completely melted remove from heat and add cheerios.  Stir to combine completely.

Press into a 9 x 13 pan and let cool.  If you like your chocolate treats a little thicker press into a 9 x 9 pan instead. 

Once cooled, cut into squares and enjoy!

Our Dinner Menu Plan

End of Summer Bounty

Our dinner menu plan is not 100% complete because we have weekend plans.  Therefore our weekend meals will be based on what my parents chose.  Sometimes it's great not to have all the meal planning pressure :-)

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Bacon Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Side Salad

Tuesday - End of Summer Crock Pot Soup with Fresh Bread

Wednesday - Crock Pot Garlic Honey Chicken (this is already made, just need to throw it into the crock pot) with Roasted Asparagus and Corn

Thursday - Crock Pot Quinoa Casserole with Garlic Bread and Bruschetta 

Have a blessed week!

Crock Pot Swiss Steak with Onions and Peppers

I will add a picture of the completed recipe as soon as I can :-)

The crock pot is a great cooking device to use at any time.  I think the summer is just as good as any to use the crock pot and conserve electricity.  No need to get your kitchen hot and cause your air conditioner to work overtime.

This recipe for Crock Pot Swiss Steak is a favorite in our house.  Sometimes I compile all the ingredients and place it in a freezer bag and freeze for a later day.  You then remove the freezer bag, cut it open and place in the crock pot.  (If your crock pot is on the smaller size, you would need to place in two smaller freezer bags or thaw ahead of time to ensure it would fit into the crock pot).

Crock Pot Swiss Steak with Onions and Peppers


4-6 Cube steaks (depending on your family's size and the size of the steaks)
1 Large onion, sliced
1 Large green pepper, sliced
1 Can healthy request cream of mushroom soup
1/4 Cup water
Pepper to taste

Place steaks in crock pot and cover with onions and peppers.  

Combine soup, water and pepper.  Top steaks with soup mixture.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours.  It is okay if you cook these longer, as long as it is on low, because these steaks will become more tender the longer they cook.

I served these over mashed potatoes and a side of green beans.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cucumbers in Vinegar

Cucumbers in Apple Cider Vinegar

This may seem kind of weird to post about something so simple like cucumbers and vinegar, but I think it gets forgotten sometimes.

You may say "this is not a healthy side dish". Well let me tell you about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.  Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can lower blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and may slow the growth of cancer cells.  Who knew, right?

My kids really love cucumbers with apple cider vinegar and yours may too.

Cucumbers in Vinegar


1-2 Large cucumbers (depending on your family size), peeled (optional) and chopped
Enough apple cider vinegar to almost cover the cucumbers
Fresh ground pepper according to taste
Salt (optional)
1-2 Tbsp water (optional - it will reduce the strong flavor of the vinegar)

Mix all ingredients together and serve.  You may also put in the refrigerator to let the flavors marinate until you are ready to serve.

* My mom said that adding fresh tomatoes and onions is also a great twist to this classic.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Story of the Oven Mitt

Destroy Nate Allen Recipe Oven Mitt
Have you ever cooked a meal that turned out to be a complete disaster?  Of course you have!  I think everybody has at some point.

Well,  a hip and funky folk band called Destroy Nate Allen, came through our area this week and one of their songs called "Recipe" is about a meal disaster (named appropriately).  It truly is one of the funniest songs, maybe because I have had to many disasters in the kitchen myself.

Here is the oven mitt I purchased, modeled by oldest son, to go along with the song .  I totally love the hot pink, what you think?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Sorry to say that I most make this blog post very short.  My husband is sick with a stomach virus so things around our house today are crazy.  I did come up with our dinner menu plan and should stick with it unless God forbid someone else gets sick.

I hope all of you have an awesome week!

Our Dinner Menu

Monday - Hummus Pizza with Feta, Tomatoes and Black Olives and a Side of Fresh Carrots

Tuesday - Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken with Israel Couscous and Green Beans

Wednesday - Frito Chili Pie and Side of Roasted Asparagus

Thursday - Falafel Balls in Pita Bread and Cucumbers in Apple Cider Vinegar

Friday - Crock Pot Swiss Steak with Peppers and Onions, Mashed Potatoes and Peas

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Grilled Asian Chicken, Rice and Tomato Salad

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pork Tenderloins with Rice and Country Gravy

Pork Tenderloins with Rice and Country Gravy
The picture for these Pork Tenderloins did not come out exactly as I would have liked.  These tenderloins were much more appetizing than the picture makes them appear.  

The original recipe was found in Patti LaBelle's cookbook and I tweaked it based on our families likes and dislikes.  

This dish was definitely a comfort meal.  Enjoy!

Pork Tenderloins with Rice and Country Gravy


1 1/2 lbs Pork or turkey tenderloins, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tsp Mrs. Dash
1 1/2 Tbsp margarine or butter
1 Onion, chopped
1 Celery stalk, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 Uncle Ben's box rice (preferably 10 min variety), serving size 4
1 Can healthy request cream of mushroom
1/2 Cup fat-free half and half
1/2-1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 Tsp pepper

Season the tenderloins with Mrs. Dash and pepper.  

Melt butter in a large deep skillet.  Add the tenderloins, onions, celery, and carrots.  Cook until the meat is almost done and the vegetables are tender, about 10 mins. (flip tenderloin pieces after 5 mins.)

Remove the tenderloins and vegetables to a plate.  In the same pan, prepare the rice according to box directions.

While rice is cooking, whisk soup, half and half, thyme and pepper together in a small bowl.  

After rice is prepared add tenderloin mixture to the skillet.  Top with soup mixture and cook on low heat until it is heated through, about 10 mins.

Serve with your favorite vegetable for a complete meal.

My youngest loved this dish!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Smoked Turkey Sausage Noodle Skillet

If you need something super easy to cook for dinner, this recipe for Turkey Smoked Sausage with Egg Noodles is perfect.  It has less than 10 ingredients and most of them you probably already have in your pantry.  Serve it with a side salad for a dinner all will enjoy!

Turkey Smoked Sausage Noodle Skillet


1 16oz Turkey smoked sausage (I used Jennie-O), sliced
1 Small onion or shallot, diced
1 Small red or green pepper
2 Cans basil, oregano, garlic diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
13-16 oz Egg noodles (I used about 3/4 a bag)
3 Tbsp Fresh basil (optional)

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray or add a Tbsp of olive oil and heat to medium.  Add sliced turkey, onion, and peppers.  Cook until you have a little color on the turkey sausage and the vegetables are soft.

My kids will not eat diced cooked tomatoes so I pulse the canned diced tomatoes in the processor a few times to make them more like crushed tomatoes.  You can skip this step if your family will eat diced tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes to the sausage mixture with Italian seasoning and red wine vinegar.  Simmer until flavors are combined (about 10 mins.)

While tomato mixture is cooking, add egg noodles to a large pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.  

Add cooked noodles to the tomato mixture to combine.  Serve in individual bowls topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.  So easy and super delicious!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jalapeno Crab Cakes

Jalapeno Crab Cakes
After showing the picture of my husband's wonderful crab cakes I have had many requests for the recipe.

My husband adapted the original Jalapeno Crab Cake recipe based on what we had on hand.

Jalapeno Crab Cakes


14 oz Crab meat - steamed (we used blue crab)
1/4 Cup green onions, chopped
1 Jalapeno, finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp fresh thyme or oregano, chopped
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
1 Large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp honey Dijon mustard
1/2 Tsp cayenne pepper
1/2-1 Cup bread crumbs 
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp butter

Combine all ingredients except the butter together in a large bowl.  

Heat butter in skillet over medium heat.

Form crab mixture into about 6 cakes and place in the skillet.  Cook for about 5 mins. per side or until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels and serve!

*Next time I think I will get him to substitute plain greek yogurt for the mayonnaise (I am not a big fan of mayonnaise).