Friday, July 25, 2014

Quick Dinner: Chicken and Bean Taco Bake

It's summer, and that means I have time for things like phone calls with friends who I don't connect with often enough.  I had one of those such phone calls this week, and one of the many things we talked about in the hour we spent on the phone was cleaning out the freezer.  Apparently, my friend defrosts her freezer every summer.  She was cooking a turkey this week on her way to the bottom.
Since we moved 2 years ago, I have plugged my chest freezer in and put things in it.  While I am not planning to defrost my freezer anytime soon, I too would like to eat to the bottom of it over the summer.  Thankfully, I also don't have a turkey seeing as I'm the only person here who would eat it.  But perhaps I should defrost from time to time.  What would I do with everything in the freezer while I do that though?
This recipe, however, can help you clean out the freezer if your freezer is anything like mine.  I used up the end of packages of tortillas, cooked chicken that was hiding in a ziploc bag, and a bag of the pinto beans that I cooked in the crock pot last winter.
On a night where you need to clean out the freezer, and really don't have much time, I would recommend this.  J and I enjoyed it.
I present to you now Picky Palate's Chicken and Bean Taco Bake:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Cheddar Horseradish Burgers

In theory, it's summer here.  The thermometer will tell you differently, but from time to time it's warm enough to go out and take a dip in the pool.  In the two years that we have lived in this house, we've had two of the craziest summers ever for owning a pool.  Last year, we went to New York City for our vacation.  We were gone for a week.  That was the week in July when it was 100.  And we were walking around NYC.  We came home the day the weather broke and jumped in the pool that afternoon.  Then it became unseasonably cold and damp for our kitchen renovation and instead of spending it in the pool I spent it sitting on the couch.  This year, we have once again had cooler than normal temperatures with days of 80+ weather.  The pool is beautiful in the middle of the backyard, but not really warm enough for swimming unless we're willing to run the heater most of the time and I'm way too cheap for that.  The weatherman is promising that things are about to improve.  Just in time for us to go to Seattle for vacation.  But between now and departure, we are supposed to have some more "normal" days in which to get in the water and swim.
One of the things that we like to do on weekends when it is promising is invite people over to swim and BBQ.  We usually just do burgers on the grill, and usually boxed ones at that for ease.  While looking through the July/August 2006 of Everyday Food, however, I found an article on a few different burgers that looked promising.  While not all are things that turn our cranks (turkey burgers were quickly nixed), these sounded delicious.  The day I made them, however, it rained again and I ended up using the Foreman instead of the backyard grill.  Next time.  And J has made me promised that there will be a next time.
From the July/August 2006 issue of Everyday Food, I present to you now Cheddar-Horseradish Burgers:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Peanuts

I love being home for the summer.  I'm not always as motivated as I should be, but that's beside the point.  The long and the short of it is that I enjoy spending time in the house, cooking and slowly getting done the large number of projects around here that there never seems to be time to complete.
One of the things about being home for the summer is that I need to make lunches as well as dinners. While J believes that there should be meat at every meal, I am always on the lookout for recipes that use less meat or are meatless because I know that our consumption is probably higher than it should be.
When looking back through the issues of Everyday Food, one of the things I found were dinner salads that I had earmarked for making that were meat free.  This salad here is a case in point.  The protein is from the peanut butter and chopped nuts that are sprinkled over the salad.  Serving it warm the first day also makes it seem more of a meal and less of a side dish.
While I can't make this during the school year and take it to work because of allergies, it was a nice lunch for a couple of days this month.
I present to you now from the May 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Peanuts:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Planning: July 19-23, 2014

J and I are about to go on vacation.  Originally, we were to be gone 3-4 weeks on a cross-country road tripping journey that I'd really been looking forward to.  We're still going to Seattle, but by air for a long weekend.  I'm sure it will be fun, but I still want to visit Mount Rushmore.
Despite the fact that we're really going to be gone only 5ish days, I'm working on cleaning out the fridge like we're going away for 3 weeks.  We seems to have a good deal of stuff lurking from other things I've made recently.  That does mean, however, that I need to buy rolls and maybe butter at the grocery store this week.  Kind of a nice side benefit, seeing as we've spent a good deal on food in the past couple of weeks.
Here's what we're eating on the mountain this week as we get ready to spend some time visiting family out west:
SaturdayLunch - Hot dogs, chips, pickles, and the end of the carrot and celery sticks I found soaking in the back of the fridge.
Dinner - Pork Fried Rice.  I grilled pork tenderloin late last week.
SundayLunch - Bean and Tortilla Salad and garlic bread.  We're going to the movies in the afternoon for the Monty Python broadcast, so we'll be having junk then.  I want Junior Mints!
Dinner - Grilled Chicken, Foil Potatoes and Broccoli
MondayLunch - J's going out.  I'll be eating whatever I find.
Dinner - Volcano Sanwiches, chips and the end of the dill pickles that I made 2 years ago.
TuesdayLunch - Leftover Pork Fried Rice
Dinner - Vietnamese Steak Sandwiches, salad
WednesdayLunch - There will be something, or bacon and eggs.
Dinner - We're on vacation!  
DessertChocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Peanubutter Ice Cream, Chocolate Chip-Cherry Muffins
Should be a good week.  We'll see how it goes!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Got Milk? Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

I made jam last week.  2 kinds - strawberry and strawberry-rhubarb.  Seeing as I just used the recipe that came with the Certo, there's no reason to post, other than to say it's delicious, and you should hope you're on my Christmas list.  J was astounded with the amount of sugar that I went through in 2 days making jam.  But really, when the recipe is fruit, sugar, and pectin and you got 14-15 bottles of jam, what can you expect?
The reason I bother to tell you about the jam is that it shut down my cooking.  Completely and utterly.  After being so busy in the kitchen I started doing nothing.  But there was a sort of reason, namely these muffins.
Last Saturday morning I got up and started to measure everything out for these muffins.  I made the filling and froze it, lined the 2 muffin trays, stirred together the flour and spices with a fork, and then reached for the sugar....
...and was half a cup short.
While this shouldn't really have derailed things, it totally did.  I added sugar to my grocery list and assumed that I would go later Saturday.  But I floated in the pool and enjoyed the weather.  So we talked of going on Sunday.  But we went for a drive and to enjoy the weather.  You get the idea.
Finally, we went to the grocery store and I bought my sugar, but I had become accustomed to moving the muffin things I'd set out around my kitchen so I could cook other meals; and so I put off making these muffins again.
This morning, I came down earlier than usual to make sure everything that needed to go out with the garbage.  I saw the bowls on the counter and decided it was time to have warm muffins with my coffee for breakfast.  Just under a week after I started the process.
I would recommend that you don't wait as long as I did to make these.  They're great.  But if you do wait until you have enough sugar and your motivation to return, I won't judge.
I present to you now The Girl Who Ate Everything's Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Blackened Tilapia

I don't cook fish for J as often as I've promised in the past.  His cardiologist told him at one point that he should eat fish 2 or 3 times a week.  I promised to try and cook fish once a week.  I'm not great about the follow through.  Fish will never be my favourite.
Tilapia is not a particularly strong fish, and will often take on the flavour of anything that has been cooked with it.  In the past, I've used tilapia for fish tacos and coated it in cornmeal and served it with salsa.  The spices of this version were lovely, and J and I both enjoyed it.
Once again, I found a recipe on Budget Bytes that was quick, easy, and fish for those of us who don't enjoy it.
I present to you now Budget Bytes' Blackened Tilapia:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Take Out at Home: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

While J and I both like pizza, I don't often make it at home.  He will often order a pizza when I have a dinner meeting, so we don't go out for pizza much.  When we do, we usually order a large so there will be leftovers the next day.  The nice thing about making pizza at home is that we also have leftovers for the next day.  Sometimes when we go out, I'll order an individual pizza for myself.  I like unorthodox ingredients, and have sampled a few different Buffalo chicken pizzas, but my complaint is always the same:  restaurants use their Buffalo chicken fingers, and the breading is just too much with everything else.
While cruising Budget Bytes, I found this recipe for a Buffalo Chicken pizza.  I love Beth's recipes, I love Buffalo could this not be a winner?  Even my suspicion of cream sauce as a base could not deter me from the ultimate objective which was a delicious dinner that J and I would both enjoy.
How do I know he enjoyed?  I've been asked to make this again, and I probably will.  For football season on a day that we're here and sitting in front of the TV for 12 hours of college football's best.  Or perhaps an afternoon of NFL.  What I do know is this:  the cream sauce sets everything else off to a T, and I can't imagine making this any other way.
I present to you now Budget Bytes' Buffalo Chicken Pizza:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Potatoes Vinaigrette

It's no secret that I'm suspicious of cream sauces and dressings.  I'm not a fan of creamy salads or spreads on sandwiches.  Frankly, I prefer things I've made myself so I know exactly what's in them.
Summer salads often run into this problem for me, especially at a BBQ or picnic.  I would prefer to add my own dressing, and I skip the salads for the raw vegetables that I'll often eat without the dip (I'll also eat salad leaves straight out of the serving bowl.  I like plain raw vegetables)
J sometimes talks about his mother's potato salad, and how she'd use mustard and little to no mayonnaise.  I never make potato salad, so when I saw this it reminded me of J's talking about a mustard based potato salad.
It also reminded me of France, where I had a host mother who would take leftover boiled potatoes and cooked haricots verts, and toss them in a dijon vinaigrette for lunch on Sunday.  Frankly, it reminded me most of eating outside on a sunny day in France.  Good times.
I present to you now from the June 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Potatoes Vinaigrette:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Crunchy Ice Cream Loaf

I'm climbing back on the wagon of the Magazine Challenge.  It's a little daunting to see the number of recipes that I've flagged as wanting to make compared to the number I've actually made. I'm hoping to stem that tide over the summer with a large number of recipes that hopefully will be keepers, even if I never get back to them again.
Now that the pool is open (the heater is fixed, and I am willing to go in...HOORAY!!) J and I are starting to invite friends over for a swim and a BBQ.  We need easy make-ahead items that can be served as we need them.  This dessert is a case in point.  It's not just passing around a plate of cookies, but it's still ice cream for a warm day.  Plus, I needed 6 cups of ice cream and bought a gallon so there was enough left over for ice cream cones for the kids who were suspicious of a dessert that they were going to have to eat with a fork.
Everyday Food claims that the dessert tastes like fried ice cream, and surprisingly they're right.  The crunch of the cornflakes and the hint of cinnamon are reminiscent of the fried delight from a Mexican restaurant.  I'd eat this again.  This took all of about 10 minutes to put together the night before.  I'd make it again too.
I present to you now from the July/August 2006 issue of Everyday Food Crunchy Ice Cream Loaf:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows

When the form came out asking if I wanted to participate in the Secret Recipe Club for July, I filled it out saying yes.  Why, I'm not quite sure.  I live in a great denial about the fact that June for me when I would need to make said recipe is a month filled with report card editing, graduation, and me eating out and grasping at the shreds of my sanity as we wind down to the end of school.  It's not that I don't like cooking, I just don't do it in June.  I need to remember this for next year so I freeze some meals and keep my debit card from smoking like this year.
But if I hadn't said yes, I wouldn't have been assigned the wonderful blog of LeAndra, who tends Love&Flour.  LeAndra and I have many things in common.  We both like to bake, we both love chocolate chips more than lettuce, and we both watch The Game at the end of November.
I find it interesting that LeAndra is a Buckeye turned Gator fan.  My experience of college football fans (and especially OSU fans) is that they have an almost visceral allegiance to their team for life.  Case in point, J lived in Gamecock country for a while but paid for the ESPN college football package so he could watch U of M on Saturdays.  He now does the same here in Canada, giving us the *big* sports package so he can watch the B1G 10 Network and College football when we're home.
In my married life, I have learned that college football is a religion, and Saturday is the day of holy obligation.  J has started counting down until we're back at the Big House in our new seats that will be more in the end zone and less facing the setting sun.  I am ignoring him because it means I will be back to school.  Ahem.  It's not time for football yet.  Right.  What I made.
I perused LeAndra's blog and had a hard time deciding between these cookies and chocolate cherry cookies.  I actually bought everything to make both, but the flavour combination of chocolate and peanut butter won the day!  The others come soon.  What else would I do with a bottle of cherry lambic?
I present to you now Love&Flour's Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Summer Edition

It's halfway through year 2 of the Magazine Challenge.  I am so glad that this month is a double issue.  I need some time to catch up.  According to my stats, I've made 21 recipes so far from the 5 - 2006 issues of Everyday Food that I've perused so far this year.  What's good about this is that I've made more than 4 things per month of the magazine, especially when you consider how little I cooked in June.  But I do need the summer to rest, recuperate, and catch up.  There are some salads that I marked that I haven't made yet.  J and I will be eating those for lunch in the coming months.
The July/August issue of the magazine is perfect for summer:  it's the grilling issue.  I was interested in a couple of the burger recipes, and the shop once eat for a week has a menu that I actually want to make all of.  I'm thinking perhaps next week for 5 days.  You grill things and reserve parts for future nights.  I'd like to try and keep up.  As well, there are some really good looking desserts.  Being home all the time means that we're going to go through more dessert.
Here's what looks good from the 2006 issue of Everyday Food:

  • Crunchy Ice Cream Loaf
  • Salmon with Mustard Sauce and Asparagus
  • Grilled Steak and Potato Salad
  • Garlic Marinated Chicken with Grilled Potatoes
  • Cobb Salad
  • Grilled Vegetables Tostadas
  • Cheddar Horseradish Burgers
  • Tandoori Style Chicken Burgers
  • Chocolate Ricotta Icebox Cake
  • Rustic Plum Tart
  • Raspberry Buckle
11 recipes.  That makes sense for a 2 month issue.  Let's see what happens.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Planning: July 4-10, 2014

It's been a month.  Really.  Between report cards, the end of the year, and grad, I had few shreds of sanity remaining before leaving for a family wedding in Cincinnati and then gallivanting off to Toronto for Canada Day and a Blue Jays game where I got horribly burned shoulders.  With sunscreen.  Argh.
But now that the itching has subsided and we're home until going to Seattle at the end of the month, it's time to start cooking again!
Seeing as we haven't been to the grocery store in weeks, it's going to be an expensive experience at the grocery store today.  Plus, we're having friends over tomorrow, so there's a little more than usual to pick up.  But despite all that, and the fact that I'm going to be making lunches again, it should be a nice week.  The pool is open, there's propane in the tank for the grill, and I'm ready for summer!  Here's what we're eating on the mountain this week:


  • The end of the burritos from the freezer.  These have been great.  I have more beans in the freezer, so I'll whip up another batch before I go back to work.
  • Sandwiches, chips and pickles.  Super easy, super quick.
  • Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Peanuts.  There should be enough for 2 days here.
  • Wonton Soup, and maybe fresh bread.  We'll see.
I had a look through my Pinterest board, as well as the magazines for some inspirations.  I seem to be eating a lot from Budget Bytes this week.  That's really not a bad thing.
  • Peanut-crusted Chicken, rice, and broccoli
  • We're having people over, so burgers, hot dogs, chips, veggies and Potato Vinagrette.  Those coming are also bringing something.
  • Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  • Chicken, garlic and broccoli Skewers and Foil Potatoes
  • Cheddar Horseradish Burgers
  • Chicken Enchilada Pasta
This gets its own category.  Just because.  There's a few things I'm planning:
  • Crunchy Ice Cream Loaf
  • Secret Recipe Club Stuff (coming Monday!)
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
  • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
When I lay it out like this, it's quite the week.  But it all sounds good.  And think of all the recipes I'll have to share!