Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

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Spring and Summer all in one has sprung here in South Florida.  I am thinking grilling as much as possible this week.  I am knee deep in boxes and packing...dinner's have been working out, and my freezer and pantry are looking a little less cluttered since I planned on making meals out of them for a few weeks to lighten the load.

Last week I posted a recipe on Chicken Tortilla Soup, oh.... it was so good.  I shared with a few friends, and kept a few servings in my freezer for a quick lunch.  I got a little crazy with the chipoltles in adobo sauce, they seemed small, so I added time, I will keep to the recipe.  The heat was good, but a little too hot for the family, and needed a dollop of sour cream to take the edge off.  Delicious though~

  • Grilled Chicken Tenderloin Cobb Salad, Fresh Fruit
  • Panko Crusted Baked Boneless Pork Chops, Roasted Red Skins, Fresh Fruit
  • Freezer Clean Out (misc. convenience items), Fresh Fruit
  • NY Strip Steaks, Israeli Couscous, Green Beans, Fresh Fruit
  • Breakfast for Dinner (Eggs, Turkey Sausage Patties, Fresh Fruit)
What are you making this week?  What's in your pantry? Freezer?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Spring is here!  What does that mean...for me- cleaning out the pantry and freezer for various reasons.  Here is my plan for this week so I am not caught off guard.  Since we are moving in the next three weeks or so, I am picking meals that we can use up pantry items and freezer items - less to pack is my method.....

  • Panko Chicken Fingers, Roasted Red Skin Potatoes, Green Beans with Garlic
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup, Quesadillas, Corn (recipe following)
  • Stir-Fried Pork with Green Beans, Brown Rice (recipe following)
  • Roasted Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
  • Freezer Clean-Out (misc. bags of conveinence foods), Fresh Fruit Bowl
Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted from Food Network Kitchen Easy Cookbook)

2 Tbls. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 chipotle chile en adobo, minced
1 Tbls. chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
1 cup corn kernals, fresh or frozen
1 ripe tomato
1 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh squeezed limes juice (2 limes)
corn tortillas chips/lime wedges (optional)

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, chipolte, chili powder, and salt, cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil, bring down and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add corn and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Pull the saucepan from the heat and stir in the tomatoes, chicken, cilantro, and lime juice.  Serve and top with chips/lime juice.  This is a fast and easy recipe!

Quesadillas - easy, quick, and served as a side with soup

1 flour tortilla per person
Cheddar/Jack or Mexican blend cheese
Queso Blanco (white latin cheese)-optional
Southwestern seasoning
Salsa/Sour Cream

Layer ingredients on one side of tortilla.  Fold over tortilla and press down.  Grill, oven bake or pan fry the quesadilla until desired done-ness or until cheese is melted.

Stir-Fried Pork- stir-fries can take a few extra steps, but worth the time with all the flavors.  If you have your ingredients prepped you can be sitting down to dinner in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.  Chicken and Shrimp could be substituted, however, the pork stays jucier.

1 lb. pork tenderloin, cubed
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and greens separate)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 T soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. sherry
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
5 T. peanut oil
1 lb. sugar snap peas or green beans
Kosher Salt
fresh ground pepper
1 T. Hoisin Sauce
hot cooked brown rice/Jasmine rice

Toss the pork with the scallion whites, half the garlic, half the ginger, the soy sauce, sugar, 1 tsp. of the corn starch, the sherry, and the sesame oil.  Marinate at  room temperature for 15 minutes.  Mix the remaining 1 tsp. of cornstarch with 2 T. water.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add 1 T. of the peanut oil and heat.  Add the beans and the remaining garlic and ginger; stir-fry until the beans are crisp, but stay bright green.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour into a large bowl.

Heat the skillet over high heat again and add 2 more tablespoons oil.  Add haf the pork mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir-fry until lightly brown, about 2 minutes.  Add the first atch of pork to the beans.  Repeat with the rest of the oil and pork.  Return the beans and pork to the pan.  Add the hoisin and the cornstarch mixture.  Cook until the juices thicken, about 1 minute.  Mound the stir-fry on a serving platter or divide onto 4-6 plates.  Scatter the green onions over top and serve with hot rice.  Yummy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fruit...In A Different Sort of Way...

My family eats fruit everyday, I am hoping yours does too.  It's light, nourishing, and GOOD for you!
We shop at the local farmers markets, which living in South Florida are open year round.  Some days we are able to freshly pick fruit and vegetables at one of our favorites  We also snack on dried fruits and grains (don't kid yourself we are also snacking on those "Dirty Potato Chips" too), but over all we love fruit and seem to grab that first above anything.  Here are some of the ways we use fresh fruit:
  • Homemade Fruit Salsas (with chips or over chicken/seafood)
  • in desserts like the easiest one of all - Jiffy Cobbler (recipe to follow)
  • Smoothies - my bullet blender works two to three times a day
  • just cut up plain!
Another easy way to consume fruit is freeze dried.  My kids go crazy for this...unfortunately buying in small packs at the grocery markets or specialty stores is quite costly, even at the wholesale stores-and you tend to be limited on what you get, often times getting stuck if your kid doesn't like the variety (this hasn't happened for us though-thank goodness).  But to make this email shorter, the punchline is there are some GREAT companies that cater to bulk freeze dried foods and FRUITS.  Some of our favorites are HONEYVILLE and SHELF RELIANCE.  Some of my girlfriends get together, make a LARGE order.  Mix and Match, and we put into canning jars to keep the freshness for later use.  We use a FOOD SAVER machine that has a canning attachment to take the air out.  VERY COOL!  However, you can purchase and use as needed.  The fruit and veggies I order are great snacks for on the run, are always available and delicious.  Kids love them, and you can use them in recipes dried or by plumping them back up with water.
We are set with snacks for a few months here.  Notice that we have dried peas and corn too, they are DELICIOUS to snack on and you don't even notice your eating vegetables- a great alternative to croutons in a salad and still get the crunch.  Sometimes we add seasoning to them too.  Anyhow, I wanted to share something that works for our family, something that is cost effective for snacking, and HEALTHY!  If you've ever enjoyed those crisp apples chips or dried strawberries and bananas in salads at places like Panara freeze dried is what they are using. Crisp and delicious. 

How does your family eat fruit?

Jiffy Cobbler (SOOOO Delicious-SOOOO Easy)

1 -9 oz. box of yellow/white cake mix (or 1/2 of a large one)
1/2 to 1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 can of fruit pie filling or what I do... (4 cups of cut fruit simmered down with a little sweetener of your choice)

In a pie plate or baking dish add your fruit.  In a separate bowl mix your melted butter, pecans, and cake mix until crumbly.  Top the fruit and bake @ 350 for 45-55 minutes. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Back to a normal week, no trips planned for a little while, and dinner will be on the table this week.
Here is what we will be having.

  • Grilled Mahi Mahi, Sauteed Zucchini and Onions, Fresh Fruit
  • Mama's Beef Brisket, Roasted Carrots/Onions, Mashed Potatoes (recipe following-slow cooker)
  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Flatbreads/Fresh Fruit
  • Chicken Cutlets with Buttermilk Biscuits, Green Beans
  • Grilled  Angus Hotdogs, Corn, Fresh Fruit, Pasta Salad
Mama's Cowboy Beef Brisket

1 medium beef brisket , trimmed, but with some fat left
2 large onion, thick sliced
6 garlic cloves
3-4 carrots/potatoes, thick sliced  
1 bottle of Chili Sauce 

Place brisket in slow cooker.  Slice onions thick and place on top of brisket.  Add all garlic, minced over top.  Pour Chili sauce over and fill bottle half way with water and shake rest out over meat.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  Last hour add potatoes and carrots if you would like or cook on stove.  **Taste better second day- I like to make at night, then cool-reheat for the next day.  May need to thicken juices for gravy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

WINNER WINNER Chicken Dinner!

True Random Number Generator 5 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Christie is the WINNER!  She said....
My sweet hubby and I went to famous dave's and shared this ginormous feast of BBQ! It was nice having the evening together, even if it was low key.

Christie: If you will contact me at with your address and info.  I will mail that out to you right away!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bowling Party Design

This year 1st boy wanted to celebrate at the Bowling Alley.  What a fun theme to work with for a "boy" party.  But, if you have a boy you know all the foo-foo isn't necessary so I tried to take it down a notch...

We started with delicious sugar cookies decorated and personalized for each child attending instead of the typical waste-of-money trinkets that get thrown away anyway. I personally like the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Pouch using the recipe on the back for rolled out cookies.  I do like to add a teaspoon of Almond extract to the simple three ingredient recipe to give it that bakery taste.  They were decorated with Wilton Cookie Icing in the squeeze bottles for the bowling pins, and then the bowling balls were iced and covered in black sugar crystals with three white chocolate chips upside down for the finger holes. 

 Cupcake toppers were made using a WORD document set for Avery circle labels, and I inserted my graphics and wording.  They were punched with Stampin' Up's circle and scallops punches.
 My boy is simple he is a vanilla-kind-of-kid.  However, there is a chocolate lover out there somewhere so we went with both very vanilla and fudge chocolate.  As I mentioned I am a simple sort of girl, I used a pudding-in-the-mix cake for the cupcakes, but I added a few ingredients.  For the very vanilla I used a white pudding-in-the-mix and added a white chocolate instant pudding to the mix, this was a very moist cake when all said and done.  The very vanilla cupcakes where iced with a simple classic vanilla buttercream (recipe following) and topped with clear coarse dusting sugar.  The chocolate cupcakes started out with a devil foods puuding-in-the-mix cake with a chocolate fudge instant pudding added.  They were frosted with the BEST perfect chocolate buttercream frosting found here at Hershey's website (bottom of the link page).  They too were topped with the clear coarse dusting sugar.

 I used a zipbag to frost the chocolate cupcakes (just add your frosting to a large gallon bag-and snip off the corner and swirl around the cupcake).  The vanilla I used a disposable Wilton bag with a large open star tip.

I know a ton of photos on those cupcakes....I was so excited they tasted better than any bakery I know!
This was a fantastic fun theme, loved the cupcake picks, take home treats, and all the delicious frosted cupcakes! (the bowling was fun too!)

Classic Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Makes 3 – 3.5 cups
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)  Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.  Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.  Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt,  and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for for 3 minutes.  If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar.  If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.  Enjoy!

linked up to Favorite Things Friday, and Chic on a Shoestring

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Luck of the Irish - GiveAway!

I know, I know.....Life gets in the way a bit...Birthday Parties, Weddings, House is Under Cotnract, Hospital Stays, and much going on from my homefront, but I am back at my desk writing this week.  Everyone is GREAT, Business is TERRIFIC, and wow- kids grow up fast don't they...

I have had to take a mental break for a few weeks to get settled, but ready to BLOG now!  First about a contest.  My own!  I am presenting a $15 Gift Certificate to one lucky ready this FRIDAY.  Why you ask?  to get back in the swing of things and to launch the BRAND NEW SPRING/SUMMER CATALOG from the Pampered Chef!  With 22 Exciting NEW products on the line, what better way to celebrate than offering one of you a chance to buy something for FREE!

So who's going to have the LUCK of the Irish this week!  Comment below (on the blog-not Facebook comments), and tell me how you spent Valentine's Day this year.  For more chances to win blog, tweet, or Facebook about this contest and come back and tell me (one seperate comment for each).  Each entry will be entered in to RANDOM.ORG for the winning comment on FRIDAY!

To take a peak at the Pampered Chef's new SPRING - SUMMER catalog, visit my website @  Go to ONLINE ORDERING>Individual ordering and see the whole catalog right there.  There is also a TERRIFIC OUTLET with products up to 70% off.

this post is is listed on Works for Me Wednesday