Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 5.31.10

Good morning, everyone! I hope you're all enjoying lovely long Memorial Day weekends with your families. Ours has been great so far, and it's about to get even better: We have a cookout this afternoon, and another one tomorrow.

Of course, as much fun as it is to cook out and have a day off of work, I think it's important that we not forget what this holiday is really all about: remembering the brave men and women who fought and died for our freedom. Joe and I lost a very good friend who was in the Air Force last October, so I've been thinking about him a lot this weekend. I'm so grateful for his sacrifice, and for the sacrifices of all the others who lost their lives.

Enjoy the holiday, everyone!

: We’ll be eating all day and most likely won’t be hungry for dinner!

Tuesday: Rigatoni with chicken, bacon and mushrooms, garlic bread

Wednesday: Rice burritos. The recipe calls them enchiladas, but they’re not baked in sauce, which means they are not enchiladas in my book. (Am I thinking about this too much?)

Thursday: Foil-pack chicken and artichokes with rice

Friday: Leftovers, sandwiches, or take-out

Saturday: Pulled chicken suiza sandwiches, tortilla chips with pico de gallo

Sunday: Pepperoni pizza puffs, salad

Friday, May 28, 2010

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Nachos

In the interest of full disclosure, you need to know this: This is probably one of the unhealthiest non-dessert recipes I’ve posted on this blog.

And I loved it.

I made these nachos for Joe and me last Saturday night as a special treat. Andrew was spending the night with his grandparents, we were trying to catch up on back episode of Lost before Sunday night’s finale, and it seemed like a good night to indulge. As you can imagine, the cheese sauce for these nachos was absolutely delicious. These aren’t something I would eat every day, obviously, but they would be a great appetizer for a party. If I were to make them again, I’d use shredded rotisserie chicken instead of the frozen pre-cooked grilled chicken strips, because we could both definitely tell a difference. Other than that, though, no complaints: These were spicy and creamy and deliciously indulgent.

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Nachos
source: slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

1 16-ounce package Mexican pasteurized prepared cheese product with jalapeƱo peppers, cut into cubes
3/4 cup salsa
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 9-ounce package frozen cooked fajita chicken breast strips, thawed and cubed
1 8-ounce container ranch sour cream dip
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
Tortilla chips for serving

1. Place cheese, salsa, beans and chicken in 3- to 4-quart slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low heat setting 3 to 4 hours, stirring halfway through cooking, until cheese is melted and mixture is hot.

3. Stir in sour cream dip and bell peppers. Increase heat setting to high. Cover and cook about 30 minutes or until mixture is hot. Serve over tortilla chips. Topping will hold on low heat setting up to 2 hours; stir occasionally.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Broccoli Salad

I’m sure most of you have had some version of this salad before. My family has been serving this at our gatherings for literally as long as I can remember. When I was planning the menu for Andrew’s second birthday party earlier this month, I wanted dishes that I could make ahead of time so I wouldn’t be crazy-busy the morning of the party. This salad fit the bill perfectly; it’s the kind of thing that needs a day for all the flavors to soak in.

Our guests loved this. My dad is a strong supporter of the broccoli salad he buys from the salad bar at his favorite supermarket, but even he said that this was the best version he’s ever had. It’s got a sharp bite from the onions, a tangy sweetness from the dressing, and an irresistible saltiness from the bacon. I can’t wait to make this again, and not for a party -- just for me and Joe and Andrew! (Andrew loves his “coccobi.”)

Broccoli Salad
source: adapted from Recipezaar

2 heads fresh broccoli (not frozen)
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 pound bacon
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (Don’t buy the pre-grated stuff for this; buy a block and grate it yourself. The texture is much better.)

2 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar

1. Chop bacon into bite-sized pieces and cook to desired crispness. Drain on paper towels.

2. Chop broccoli florets into bite-size pieces. Combine broccoli, bacon, onions and cheddar cheese in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl combine vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Pour over broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving (it’s best when made a day ahead).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Deviled Egg Pasta Salad

I love deviled eggs. I love them SO MUCH. Whenever I go to a gathering where deviled eggs are served, you can bet I’ll be eating at least three. But if I’m being completely honest, usually it’s more like four or five.

But deviled eggs are so fussy to make, aren’t they? First of all, I totally suck at peeling hard-boiled eggs -- yes, yes, even if I run them under cold water and let them completely cool. I never seem to be able to peel the white part perfectly neatly from the shell. Second, it just seems like a whole lot of work -- peeling the eggs, halving them, taking out the yolks, mixing the yolks with various other ingredients, stuffing the yolks back in the eggs...I just don’t have time for that.

So this pasta salad is my compromise. It tastes like a deconstructed deviled egg, with the yummy addition of pasta. There’s nothing not to love about this!

Deviled Egg Pasta Salad

1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cups Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup dill pickle relish (depending on how pickle-y you like it)

1. Cook pasta according to directions on box; drain. Rinse in cold water and drain again.

2. While pasta is cooking, whisk together Miracle Whip, mustard, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

3. Gently fold pasta, eggs, and relish into the sauce. Taste for seasoning; re-season as necessary. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and refrigerate until serving (it’s best the next day).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sweet Grape Salad

You know how some people are just “known for” certain dishes in some families? You know they’ll always bring it to holidays and family gatherings, and you look forward to eating it time after time. In our family, my mom was known for her potato salad; one aunt is known for her stuffing; one aunt is known for her zucchini casserole; one aunt is known for her Buckeyes; one of my grandmas is known for her wonderful pickles and meat(less) balls (I’ll share those with you sometime; they’re delicious!), and my other grandma is known for her potato soup and homemade bread.

All of this is to say: I served this grape salad at Andrew’s birthday party earlier this month, and it seems that it’s become what I’m “known for.” It was by far the hit of the party. We’re attending two Memorial Day cookouts this weekend (one with my family, one with Joe’s), and I was asked to bring this salad to both of them. Not that I mind making it twice more, because that means I’ll get to eat it a couple more times. I could eat this every day, that’s how good it is.

I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful, fresh fruit salad. The dressing is rich and creamy and sweet. The grapes are cold and juicy and pop so satisfyingly in your mouth. I love the texture and flavor contrast of the pecans. I love how refreshing this is on the hot summer days that seem to have officially arrived here in Ohio. I love, love, love this salad.

Who knows? If you make it for your next family gathering, it could become what you’re “known for” too. Or just make it for your family for dessert sometime this summer. They’ll love it, I promise!

Sweet Grape Salad
source: Recipezaar

2 pounds red seedless grapes
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 8-ounce carton sour cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons pecans

1. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Gently fold in grapes.

2. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecan pieces.

3. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve very cold.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Four-Ingredient Layered Mexican Dip

This week I thought it would be fun to share some recipes suitable for your Memorial Day festivities this coming weekend. Can you believe it’s Memorial Day already? The year’s practically half over.

I’ve been making this Mexican dip for years, ever since a childhood friend shared her recipe when we were in junior high. I really can’t get enough of this stuff! It couldn’t be any easier to make with only four ingredients, and it tastes delicious too. Sometimes I add some shredded lettuce and chopped tomato to the top for a touch of crispness, and that makes it even better.

Four-Ingredient Layered Mexican Dip
source: a high school friend

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 can Mexican-style refried beans
1 jar salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese
Tortilla chips for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spray bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 casserole with cooking spray. Spread softened cream cheese in an even layer in the bottom of the casserole dish. Top with refried beans, spread evenly, and salsa, spread evenly. Sprinkle with cheese.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 5.24.10

Last week was a heck of a week. I was sick for the latter part of the week, and I did a pretty poor job of sticking to our menu. We ate pizza rolls, delivery pizza, and fast food. It was...not good. Hopefully this week I can get back on track and make everything I have planned.

: Grilled BBQ pepper-jack chicken, creamy peas, Red Lobster copycat biscuits

Tuesday: Greek spinach and feta burgers with roasted red pepper mayonnaise, French fries

Wednesday: Zucchini-wrapped pork, roasted potatoes

Thursday: Primavera risotto nests with fried eggs

Friday: Leftovers, sandwiches or take-out

Saturday: Mom’s pasta, garlic bread. I can’t believe I haven’t shared her signature pasta dish with you yet.

Sunday: We’ll be at a Memorial Day cookout with my family all afternoon, and probably into the evening too. I’m making a sweet grape salad, which I'll share with you this week. It's so good!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

A while ago, I made this chicken and cheese lasagna from Real Mom Kitchen. And while it was good, and all three of us liked it just fine, it needed some...something. While we had dinner, Joe and I talked about what we could add to it to make it truly spectacular -- we mentioned broccoli, pimientos, and green chiles -- but when he returned from the kitchen with a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot to add to his serving, I knew exactly what I’d do the next time I made it.

And so this buffalo chicken lasagna was born.

This was definitely one of the best culinary ideas I’ve ever had. This lasagna was so delicious -- cheesy and spicy and creamy and just, well, yummy. It’s very low-maintenance too. There’s no slow-cooking of the sauce on the stove; you just mix all the ingredients together and layer them, and bake the whole thing for 45 minutes or so. I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken for this, which worked perfectly. I think this lasagna would be great to serve at a casual dinner party or family reunion -- after all, who doesn’t love buffalo chicken? Who doesn’t love lasagna? Combine the two, and it’s just as good as you’d imagine it to be.

I’ll definitely make this one again!

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
source: inspired by Real Mom Kitchen

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 1-ounce packet dry Ranch dressing mix
1 can cream of celery soup
3/4 cup hot sauce
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine evaporated milk, Ranch dressing mix, cream of celery soup, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Stir in chicken.

3. Spread a small amount of the chicken sauce in the bottom of a greased 11 x 7 or 12 x 8 pan. Layer a third of the lasagna noodles, poultry sauce, and cheese. Repeat layers twice more, ending with poultry sauce and cheese.

4. Bake for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apricot and Cheddar Chicken and Ham Melts

If you were to look at my iPhone, you’d notice right away that the majority of my apps are food- or cooking-related. I can’t even begin to tell you how many great recipe ideas I’ve gotten from my various foodie apps, and these melts are one of them.

This recipe was the What’s For Dinner Tonight feature on the Everyday Food app one day a couple of months ago, and I was immediately intrigued by the flavor combo. It sounded a lot like a chicken cordon bleu melt, but open-faced and with the addition of apricot preserves. I always have apricot preserves on hand because Andrew and I love them on toast, and most of the other ingredients are staples in our house, so I thought this would be a quick and easy choice for a weeknight dinner.

Of course, I managed to screw up the two ingredients I did need to pick up at the store -- a baguette and sharp white cheddar cheese. For some reason I grabbed a loaf of French bread, which was way too small for the melts, and I picked up yellow cheddar by mistake. The cheese mix-up especially irritates me, because I got the really expensive stuff, when yellow cheddar is readily available in cheaper varieties and white cheddar is not. I am such an airhead sometimes.

Anyway, I had to adapt the recipe quite extensively. I decided to make regular old melts on white bread, and I just used the yellow cheddar cheese. I also scrapped the chicken marinade you’ll see in the original recipe (I’ve linked to it) in favor of just seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and pan-frying it quickly.

Even though I changed the original recipe a lot, we really enjoyed the end result. I wish I'd pounded the chicken thinner and used a thicker bread, but those are minor quibbles. I loved the sweet apricot preserves paired with the salty ham and sharp cheese; it was a really great flavor profile. I served these with a simple spinach salad, and this actually did turn out to be a quick and delicious weeknight dinner -- even if the end product didn’t look all that much like I thought it would.

Apricot and Cheddar Chicken and Ham Melts
source: extensively adapted from Everyday Food

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded thin
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
4 slices buttered white bread
1/4 cup apricot preserves
4 ounces thinly-sliced deli ham
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1. Season chicken liberally with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pan-fry over medium-high heat in olive oil until browned and cooked through; set aside.

2. Dividing evenly, spread 2 slices of bread with apricot preserves, and layer with chicken, ham and cheese. Top with another slice of bread. Cook in a skillet or on a griddle until bread is browned and crispy. Slice sandwiches in half and serve.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jalapeno Popper Macaroni and Cheese

By now you all know that I love the flavor combination found in jalapeno poppers. I’ve stuffed the ingredients into chicken, and more recently on top of a delicious burger, but I thought it was high time I combined them with one of my ultimate comfort foods: macaroni and cheese.

I’m almost certainly not the first person to think of this. But seriously -- jalapeno popper mac and cheese? It just doesn’t get any better than that. I think I gained about twelve pounds just looking at this macaroni and cheese, but it was so worth it. This is so amazingly delicious! Cooking the jalapeno peppers right in the roux really distributes their flavor through the entire cheese sauce, so you get the spice in every single bite. Add some bacon for saltiness, some cream cheese for extra creaminess, and a topping of buttery crackers for a crispy element, and it's pretty much comfort food heaven. I really can’t wait to make this again!

Jalapeno Popper Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 pound bacon
1 pound cavatappi pasta
1/4 cup butter
2 large jalapenos or 4 small jalapenos, finely diced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cups milk
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
5 ounces cream cheese
1 cup bread crumbs or crushed Ritz crackers
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook bacon to desired crispness; drain on paper towels, crumble, and set aside.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

4. Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add jalapenos and cook for 3 minutes, or until they’re slightly softened. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Add milk; heat to boiling and stir constantly for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in cheddar cheese and cream cheese until melted and smooth.

5. Add cheese sauce and bacon to pasta and mix gently. Transfer to a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

6. Combine 3 tablespoons melted butter with the bread crumbs or crackers; sprinkle evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese.

7. Bake for 20 minutes or until topping is slightly browned.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 5.17.10

Monday: Grilled chicken (marinated in Italian dressing -- best. marinade. ever.), creamy orzo with pesto and tomatoes

Tuesday: Pork chops with roasted garlic cream sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans

Wednesday: Primavera risotto nests with fried eggs

Thursday: Smothered chicken with brown rice, roasted asparagus

Friday: Leftovers, sandwiches, or take-out

Saturday: Fried chicken salad with BBQ ranch or honey mustard dressing. I can't decide which kind of dressing sounds better.

Sunday: Cheesy broccoli and rice, salad

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

Oh, man, you guys, today’s recipe is a really good one. I can’t wait to make these again, as a matter of fact. If I had another mini-muffin pan, I would double the recipe. In fact, I may go buy another mini-muffin pan just for that purpose.

These are basically little pizza muffins. And they’re delicious, and a fun dinner alternative to a traditional pizza. Andrew loved them because he could dip them. Joe loved them because pizza is his favorite food in the world, and I loved them just because they were so darn good! They’re addictive, too -- I dare you to eat just five.

Because it seems like I can never follow a recipe exactly as it’s written, I did make a couple of modifications. I added pizza seasoning and parmesan cheese to the filling. But that’s what’s so great about this recipe -- you can change it up with whatever pizza toppings you prefer: green peppers, mushrooms, olives, onions, sausage, all of the above. Even ham and pineapple would be delicious if you prefer Hawaiian pizza. My family, though -- we’re pretty simple. Give us cheese and pepperoni, and we’re happy.

And we were VERY happy eating these.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
source: seen on Home Cooking with Sonya and adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, April 2010
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pizza seasoning
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 package mini pepperoni rounds (or 1 cup cubed pepperoni)
1/2 cup store-bought pizza sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and pizza seasoning; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, parmesan and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cool and Creamy Spinach Dip

I stumbled across this recipe for spinach dip last month, and since then I’ve made it no less than five times. I've made it just for myself, I’ve made it for my co-workers, I made it for the New Moon viewing party I had with my stepmom and stepsister (shut up), and last weekend I made it for my son’s second birthday party. Everyone who’s tried it loves it, and I’ve had countless requests for the recipe. I feel so silly when I tell people that there are only five ingredients, and that it takes less than five minutes to throw together.

This dip is just delicious, plain and simple. Serve it with whole-wheat crackers, tortilla chips, or crisp veggies, and I promise every single one of your guests will be happy!

Cool and Creamy Spinach Dip
source: adapted from Allrecipes

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 .4-ounce packet dry vegetable soup mix (I recommend Knorr/Lipton)

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for at least four hours and stir before serving.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 5.10.10

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there! We have a truly amazing day planned; we’re celebrating Andrew’s second birthday today with our family. I absolutely can’t think of a better way to celebrate being a mom than that.

I’ve got a busy and wonderful day ahead of me, so let’s get right to the menu. Lots of new recipes this week -- I’m feeling motivated!

(Also, just so you know, I'm taking some time off work this week so I probably won't be posting very much.)

Monday: Tomorrow is actually Andrew’s birthday, and we’re taking him to the zoo. We're planning to go out for pizza afterward, because pizza is Andrew's most favorite food ever (shocker, I know).

Baked bean chili, grilled cheese sandwiches. I really can’t wait to try this one!

Pasta with asparagus, lemon and goat cheese, salad

Sweet BBQ chicken kabobs, rice pilaf

Friday: Leftovers, sandwiches, or take-out

Creamy basil and red pepper pasta, garlic bread

Southwestern egg and black bean skillet, fresh fruit

Friday, May 7, 2010

Peach French Toast Bake

Today’s recipe would be the perfect thing to serve your mom for breakfast or brunch on Mother’s Day this weekend. I know I would certainly love to have this served to me, preferably while still in bed after an entire blissful night of uninterrupted sleep...Oh wait. I’m dreaming again. Uninterrupted sleep is not something that’s happening around these parts yet, unfortunately.

I saw this recipe a while ago on Lisa’s blog, and I couldn't get it out of my head until I tried it. I actually served this for dinner on one of our vegetarian nights, and it was just like having dessert for supper. (Probably because I topped it with whipped cream.) Andrew loved it so much that he ate four slices of toast, which is even more than I ate. I think it would be really delicious with apples, too.

We all really liked this, and you should totally make it for your mom this weekend, because I know she’d like it too. Thanks for the great recipe, Lisa!

Peach French Toast Bake
source: Recipe Hunter Lisa

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons water
1 large can sliced peaches (or about 4 fresh peaches)
1 loaf fresh French bread, sliced 1-inch thick
5 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Cinnamon and sugar

1. In a saucepan, melt brown sugar and butter. When butter melts, add the water; return to burner and stir constantly until mixture foams, then pour into 9 x 13 baking dish. Let cool 10 minutes, then line dish with sliced peaches, then layer of French bread, and then remaining peaches.

2. In blender, blend eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour carefully over peaches and bread, making sure all pieces are covered. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

3. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour (until golden). Use pan syrup to top, then top with whip cream if desired.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

French-Fried Onion Chicken Tenders

Folks, it just doesn’t get any easier, more delicious, or more kid-friendly than this. These French-fried onion chicken tenders were a huge hit with my whole family -- especially with my toddler, who loves anything that can be dipped but was especially smitten with these. They came together in no time and tasted so good.

A couple of suggestions: Even if you’re using a nonstick baking sheet to cook these on, I would still spray it with cooking spray or cover it with a sheet of foil. I did neither of these things and there was definitely some stickage. I also took Lauren’s suggestion and only worked with a small amount of onions at a time so they didn’t get soggy from the egg.

I’ll definitely be making these frequently. This recipe is perfect for weeknight cooking because it’s quick and easy and calls for so few ingredients. Add French fries or a vegetable, and you've got a full meal. It’s also pretty cheap to make, which doesn’t hurt either.

French-Fried Onion Chicken Tenders
source: Lauren’s Kitchen

2 pounds chicken tenders
3 eggs
1 large can French-fried onions (or 2 small cans)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Beat eggs and place in a shallow bowl. Place onions in a plastic bag and crush. Put crushed onions in another shallow bowl.

3. Coat tenders in egg, then in the onions. Place on a baking sheet and back for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with sauce of choice (we used honey mustard).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mexican-Style Macaroni and Bean Skillet

Well, I’d planned to share a recipe for Mexican chocolate cheesecake with you today in honor of Cinco de Mayo. How good does that sound? Unfortunately, I had my first major cheesecake FAIL of my entire life last night. I’m still not entirely sure what went wrong. I cooked the cheesecake for forty minutes longer than the recipe suggested, and it still came out of the oven basically uncooked. No, scratch that: completely uncooked. When I removed the springform part of the pan, the cheesecake pretty much gushed everywhere. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to do that. It’s a shame, too, because the batter tasted absolutely delicious. I’m going to play around with the recipe and try it again (I think the recipe called for too many eggs -- six!), and maybe I’ll share it with you later. I’d planned to take it to a potluck that we’re having at work today, but obviously that didn’t happen. Thank goodness for this strawberry margarita cake, which is so easy to throw together and which everyone loves!

At least I still have a Mexican-style recipe to share with you today. I found this on Kat’s blog, and I knew right away that I wanted to try it. I’m always looking for new vegetarian recipes, and when I find one that has Mexican flavors it’s a double win, because Mexican food is my favorite food in the entire world. This was incredibly cheap, easy, and quick to make, and it tasted really good too. Next time I’ll use black beans instead of kidney beans (just because I like them better) and also add some corn and cilantro. We all really enjoyed this. Thanks for the recipe, Kat!

Here are some of my other favorite Mexican-style dishes to get you in the mood to celebrate today:

White chicken enchiladas with green chile sour cream sauce
Fiesta ravioli bake
Pulled chicken suiza sandwiches
Chicken and cheese crescent chimichangas
Chicken fajita lasagna
Cheesy salsa mini meatloaves
Chicken taco pizza
Taco puffs

Okay, now I'm STARVING. The potluck can't come soon enough!

Mexican-Style Macaroni and Bean Skillet
source: adapted from New Wife Experiment, originally from Betty Crocker

1 12-ounce jar salsa
6 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
1 1/4 cups water
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat all ingredients except cheese to boiling in 10-inch nonstick skillet; reduce heat.

2. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until macaroni is tender. Sprinkle with cheese and top with sour cream, if desired (I did desire).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pulled BBQ Beef Sandwiches and Leftover BBQ Beef Quesadillas

Before I got pregnant with Will, I was very indifferent to all things barbecued. I mean, I wouldn’t say no to some good barbecue, but it wasn’t my first choice for dinner. But then the pregnancy cravings hit, and I wanted everything to have BBQ sauce on it -- even my scrambled eggs. (Yes, I actually put barbecue sauce on my eggs. How pregnant of me, right?) And it seems that even though I’m not pregnant anymore, the love affair I developed with barbecue has stuck around. So excuse me for a moment while I do a little dance to celebrate that barbecue season is BACK, baby!

I love making shredded barbecued meat in my Crock pot. The meat gets so tender and flavorful. I always top our sandwiches with cole slaw from a mix. This recipe is equally as delicious if you use pork or chicken. This is definitely one of my favorite things to eat during the spring and summer months!

Pulled BBQ Beef

2 pound beef roast
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 bottle BBQ sauce (we always use Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle sauce)
Cole slaw, if desired

1. Rub steak seasoning all over beef roast. Add to Crock pot and pour beef stock over. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours or until meat is tender.

2. Shred meat with a fork. Add BBQ sauce and stir to combine. Cook for an additional half hour until heated through.

3. Serve on buns topped with cole slaw, if desired.


We always have leftovers whenever I make this, so I’ve been experimenting with creative ways to use them. These BBQ-stuffed baked potatoes are a great option, and so are nachos. But these quesadillas are definitely the simplest thing to make with the leftovers -- and they’re totally delicious, too.

BBQ Beef Quesadillas

Leftover pulled BBQ beef
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup corn kernels
4 soft taco-size four tortillas

Place a portion of the leftovers on half of each of the flour tortillas. Top with some corn and cheese, then fold the other half of the tortilla over. Cook in a skillet or a quesadilla press until tortillas are browned and crispy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 5.3.10

Holy crap, you guys: This is my 400th post! I never would have thought when I started this little blog back in April of 2008 that I'd have posted so many recipes at this point. I also never would have thought so many people would actually read this, so THANK YOU for coming back again and again, leaving nice comments, and even trying out my recipes. I am having so much fun, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon!

: Joe's ribs, foil-packet potatoes, grilled asparagus. Joe's ribs are an all-day affair, and they are AMAZING. He marinates them overnight, slow-cooks them in the oven, and then moves them to the grill so they'll caramelize. They are so good. Maybe one day I'll get him to give up his marinade recipe, but as of now it's still a secret. And I kind of like it that way; I think if I knew exactly how he made them, they just wouldn't taste quite as good.

Tuesday: Creamy tortellini with spinach and tomatoes. I told you guys I couldn’t wait to make this again!

Wednesday: It's cinco de mayo! We're celebrating with taco joes, layered Mexican dip (I'll share the recipe soon) and chips, and probably a margarita or 4. Or 7. Be sure to stop by here on May 5, because I’ll be sharing a delicious cheesecake recipe.

Thursday: BBQ shrimp over buttered noodles, salad. I’ll be doubling the recipe this time. Joe and I both wanted more the last time I made this.

Friday: Leftovers, sandwiches, or take-out

Saturday: Creamy pestomato soup, grilled provolone and salami sandwiches

Sunday: It's Mother's Day! My oldest son turns two on Monday the 10th, so we're having his party on this day. Joe will be grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, and I'll be making a bunch of delicious, easy, (and cold -- ideal for easy prep on Saturday) side dishes to go with them: deviled egg pasta salad, broccoli salad, grape salad, wonderful pickles, baked beans, vegetable pizza, and the list goes on. One thing is for sure: We'll have way too much food. That's how I roll.