Sunday, January 18, 2009

This week's menu

So we REALLY fell off the wagon last week - lots of crappy meals (though garden burgers aren't terrible) and kid ate way too much mac & cheese. I had a client visit, hubby had a deadline at work, and baby had pinkeye. Here's to getting back on the healthy menu bandwagon again:

Sunday: Panko chicken fingers and sauteed yellow squash
Monday: (hubby is home to watch it) Slow-cooked pork roast with onions, served with (purchased) chili verde, tomatoes, black beans, and avocado
Tuesday: Pork fried rice with peas and egg (saute the pork from the night before with a little hoisin and soy sauce before adding, make the rice the night before and refrigerate)
Wednesday: Orzo with grilled chicken, tomatoes, feta, and olives
Thursday: grilled chicken sandwiches with cheddar, bacon and roasted peppers; steamed broccoli
Friday: pasta in (purchased) vodka sauce with italian sausage; steamed carrots

If you're following my frozen meat and pantry, this required little groceries for the week (not counting stuff for kid's lunch):

feta, parmesan, american cheese, cheddar (I'm low on everything)
pork roast
good olives

Happy cooking everyone! Hopefully soon I'll be posting not only menus but nutritional information.

My new rock star, no-effort dessert!

So we had two dinners last weekend back-to-back, with lots of little ones at each visit. Needless to say, it wasn't a venue where you could easily do any cooking while the guests were actually there.

I found a recipe for Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Sherried Berries on here taken from Gourmet Magazine and edited it for the Time Challenged. Purchased sliced pound cake replaced the homemade cake with good results. And, if you use only bite-sized berries and a standing mixer for the cream, it's pretty much hands-free!

For the cream:

8 ounces mascarpone (1 cup)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Whipped all together until soft peaks form

For the berries:

1/2 cup Fino (dry) Sherry
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups mixed berries, cut if large

these can stand at room temp up to 3 hours.

Enjoy! I have to say left over mascarpone is amazing with toast and strawberry jam. You'll feel guilty just eating it but will keep doing so anyway.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dinner parties with high fuss, no fuss

I find that I turn to certain meals depending on whether I invite someone over that likes to help me cook, and others when I don't expect to cook while the guests are there.

Last night we had the Brit over with his lovely family... the Brit is a corporate chef and I have to say in ten years of knowing him, last night was the FIRST time he actually didn't cook! The meal was lovely and we got to use a leftover turkey breast I had bought on sale and frozen:

1. Roasted turkey breast (coated in EVOO, stuffed with your stuffing of choice, dredged in sage/thyme/salt/pepper)
2. Butternut squash risotto with grated asiago cheese and cumin (you can find the recipe here:
3. Steamed broccoli

Above was low fuss but you had to cook while the guests were there (risotto is not forgiving if left!)

Tonight we're having another set of guests over and I'm using my fallbacks (will post pics later):

1) Spinach salad with goat cheese, roasted pears, and candied walnuts (adding scallops if I have time)
2) Wild mushroom lasagne with bechamel sauce
3. White cake with sherried berries and mascarpone cream

This menu is high fuss, but it's all done in advance and comes together within minutes once you decide when to eat!

Bon appetit! It's snowing here so I may have to improvise if I get out later to the grocery store than I'm hoping...

Monday, January 5, 2009

This week's menu

I'm still getting going with making grocery lists automatic, but here's the menu for this week. My grocery bill was less than $100 and it included the ever-expensive lunch items for my preschooler (fruit snacks, individual pringles, fruit, cold cuts)...

Wishing you all a healthy and economical week!

Monday: shrimp pad thai
Tuesday: asiago chicken fingers with sauteed squash
Wednesday: tequila-lime pork soft tacos with tomatoes, avocado, and onion
Thursday: cheeseburgers, broccoli, and french fries
Friday: roasted turkey breast with red potato hash and steamed green beans

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The best good-for-you chicken fingers, ever

In my quest to economically use the "family pack" of chicken breasts... here's another great use for two large chicken breasts. It will feed a family of four (small children) or a hearty three appetites.

Asiago chicken fingers with pan-fried yellow squash


You will need:

2 large chicken breasts, pounded slightly to tenderize
3 large eggs
Small splash of milk
Salt and Pepper
Panko bread crumbs
Grated Asiago cheese

3 medium-sized zucchini

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In one shallow bowl, beat the eggs with a splash of milk slightly. In the second bowl, combine salt, pepper, panko, flour, and asiago. A good guess is about 1/3 cup (more if you like a slight cheese taste) cheese, 1 cup panko, and 1/2 cup flour. Cut the raw chicken into finger-sized strips and dip into the egg batter. Allow excess to drain and dredge in the breading mixture. Repeat for all chicken, and the - this is key - repeat again for all chicken. The double breading makes it far more flavorful. Coat a glass pan with Pam and place the fingers in the pan. Spray fingers with a small coating of Pam. Bake at 20 minutes or until breading is crispy and slightly browned.

While chicken is cooking, slice the squash and season with salt and pepper. Pan-fry in a pan coated with EVOO on medium-high heat until done.

Serve the chicken fingers and squash with ketchup or a mixture of dijon and honey. Kids will eat them up, I guarantee!

The quickest snack or salad you've ever made for guests

This is a GREAT thing to bring to a party if you've been tasked to bring a munchie. People will rave about them and they take less than five minutes total to make. Also, they keep REALLY well in a ziploc in the fridge. I use them with sliced pears roasted with balsamic vinegar (400 deg for 25-30) over spinach with a little goat cheese for a really elegant salad course that's no time at all. I tend to use a little extra cayenne, but that's me.

From Bon Appetit, December 2000:

Candied Walnuts

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup walnuts (about 3 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine walnuts and all remaining ingredients in medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread nut mixture on prepared baking sheet (some nuts may clump together). Bake until nuts are deep golden and sugar mixture is bubbling, stirring occasionally to break up clumps, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year to all!!!

So last night wasn't a "giveup takeout" night, but we did opt for sushi and some cocktails to ring in the new year. The three year old had her traditional three orders of tamago sushi and a good time was had by all.

An easy dinner this evening - pork roast in the "Set it and forget it" with a savory dry rub of sage, salt & pepper, stuffed with walnuts, goat cheese, and apples. Some roasted sweet potatoes and steamed squash on the side... nice. Will post pics if it comes out well.

Here's hoping everyone is relaxing and not working today!