Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Fries!



I am always on the lookout for really simple, yummy recipes. So when my friend Cara mentioned "sweet potato fries" I instantly thought of two things. First, they sounded awesome (I love sweet potatoes!) and second, they sounded quick and easy for a weeknight side dish.

Cara kindly shared her recipe, and we tried it. It has taken me approximately 1,001 days (okay, maybe not quite) to get it posted, but I definitely want to share this with you guys! Fast, easy, and healthy - these are perfect for any night of the week!

Here are Cara's directions, and the fries came out perfectly!

Preheat oven to 450. Slice up the sweet potatoes in wedges or sticks. A little thicker is better, in my opinion, they get a little too brown on the ends if they're too thin or skinny. I put the potatoes in a ziploc bag and toss them with one tablespoon of olive oil per potato, making sure to coat each fry very well. Arrange the potatoes on a cookie sheet. Make sure they don't touch or overlap, as this will make them mushy. Sprinkle sea salt on the potatoes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Turn halfway through.

My only notes are to use a nonstick baking pan, and I flipped mine every ten minutes to prevent sticking. I also lowered the heat to about 425 because my oven is famous for scorching food at higher temps. The second time I made them I cut them a little thinner and they were done in about 20 minutes.

Enjoy! And thanks so much to Cara!

Love, Dahrlin'

Apple and Thyme Martinis



So it is 9 am on Christmas Eve morning, and instead of tackling the 853 things that need to happen around here (in order) before tomorrow, I am sitting here blogging... Hmmm...anyone else struggle with getting so overwhelmed that you just rebel? :-)

Meanwhile, I found this beautiful cocktail in the cookbook I'm currently reading by my favorite chef. And if you've been around here long, you know who that is! LOL!

Giada makes gorgeous martinis and bellinis, two of my favorite drinks for special occasions. This martini features two of my favorite "cooler weather" flavors - apple and thyme. The drink is fun to make (and, of course, enjoy!) so try it soon! We're having them tomorrow, along with pomegranate bellinis.



The recipe is here!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Dinner Menu

Yum! One of my favorite meals of the year is our Christmas Day dinner. This year I'm trying a couple of new appetizers and cocktails, as well as making some old standbys that we love. Dad has generously provided us with an enormous tenderloin, which I prefer to more turkey. Can't wait for Friday!

Here's the plan:

Cocktails & Appetizers
-

Apple & Thyme Martinis (these sound awesome!)
Raspberry Bellinis (Dad loves)
Pecorino CrackersRed Pepper Cheesecake
Whole Wheat Pita Triangles
Celery Sticks
Cheese tray - Havarti with Dill, Brie, Roomkaas (Gouda) and Pepper Jack
Red and Green Apple Slices

Dinner


Beef Tenderloin
Sauteed Mushrooms
Gravy
Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Broccoli with Lemon Zest
Green Salad (not sure on recipe yet)
Garlic & Sundried Tomato Corn Muffins
Biscuits & Honey Butter

Desserts

Derby Pie, Vanilla Ice Cream
Pumpkin Pie Dessert Squares
Fudge
Christmas Cookies
My MIL's Coconut Cake

For the first time in years, I've got the whole week off. Which means I've got half a chance of getting most of this made, LOL! I'm so excited!

After eating this I'm pretty sure we won't need to eat for several days. But just in case, I'm planning breakfast casserole, herbed citrus fruit salad and olive oil muffins for breakfast over the weekend. Yum!!

Let me know what's on your menu!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What is your favorite Christmas treat?

Okay gang, help me out! I'm going to do some Christmas baking this week. I'll make some of our old standbys, but would like to try some new things too. What is your family's favorite in the area of cookies, bars or candy? Let me know and share the recipe and I will report back on what we make!

Thanks and hope everyone is having a GREAT weekend!

Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday!

My friend Jane has badgered cajoled lovingly encouraged me to participate in this event over the last couple months. And I keep telling her I am going to particpate "this week." And I really mean that each time I say it...but as with so many other things, lately the time just gets away from me. However, I am so glad she has not given up. Because she is absolutely right to keep pushing me. If I am too busy to stop and count my blessings, then I am simply too busy!

So here are just a few of the many things I am so thankful for this week:

(1) Jesus. We hear many reminders about how He is the "reason for the season." And He is the reason for Christmas. And because of that, Christmas is absolutely my favorite occasion of the year. But I believe He is also the reason for everything else. He gives meaning to my every day, and I can't thank Him enough for that!

(2) All my friends, including my BFF, whom I don't get to see nearly often enough, but who mean so very much to me. Thanks for coming down to visit and going with me to see New Moon. I'm glad that we are past the point in our lives where we behave like those shrieking, screaming tweens in the theater...but I'm glad to know we aren't so old or mature that we couldn't if we wanted to! Love you!

(3) Friends like Jane, who push me to remember what's really important! Hugs!

(4) The One Year Chronological Bible. This is a treasure that I just discovered about a week ago. I've always struggled to read the entire Bible - like so many things I do, I always start off with a bang and then my enthusiasm tapers off into, well, unfinished projects! But I always do better when can see the "big picture". And being able to read the Bible in the order the events happened is HUGE for someone like me. I started that last week and I'm loving it!

(5) My elliptical machine. Yes, really! Some days I hate it, but it's helping me get my rear (and the rest of me) back into shape. I've never been long on patience, and the whole "slow and steady wins the race" philosophy is a recipe for frustration to me. But I'm working on (1) baby steps, and (2) no excuses. It's my new motto, LOL!

So there you have it - this week's short list. I look forward to "meeting" some of the others over at Sonja's. Come join in!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cranberry Orange Bread!



Anyone else feel like Christmas is coming up WAY too fast? Yikes! I finally got most of my shopping done this weekend, just have to pick up a few more items. Thanks to Steph and Angie for coming out in the cold Saturday. I'm praying we all get and/or stay healthy for the holiday!

Today I want to share one of my favorite holiday recipes. I love it any time of year, actually, but I try to save it for special occasions! The cranberry and orange go really well together (this is also one of my favorite combinations in candle scents). This makes wonderful gifts - just bake in disposable loaf pans - so be sure to make extra!

My friend Michelle in Florida asked that I share this one - do try it. It's awesome!

The only comment I have on the recipe, which is here, is that I add nuts. Usually walnuts, but pecans are fine too!

Hope all your shopping, wrapping, baking and mailing is proceeding on schedule. I'm off to catch up!



For more recipe ideas, visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, December 7, 2009

Le Menu...

For the week!

I've cooked a fair bit this weekend, so this week I will probably take a couple of nights off to get caught up on stuff around the house. Here's the plan!

Sunday - cooking day -
making Cajun Meatloaf to freeze;
making Cranberry Orange Bread to take to work;
Dinner - Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy, Corn, PW's Creamed Spinach

Monday - Balsamic BBQ Chicken, Herbed Noodles, Salad

Tuesday - Sauteed Salmon, Noodles with Parsley and Lemon Butter, Green Veggie

Wednesday - Chili, Cheese Muffins, Broccoli

Thursday - Freezer pleasers, leftovers - possibly Chicken Spaghetti that we have in freezer

Friday - not sure yet - have a weekend with girlfriends planned and my BFF may be here Friday night! Wahoo!

Saturday - dinner out after a long day of shopping!

Hope you have an exciting week planned!

For more menu inspiration, check out orgjunkie!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Really Need to Learn...

To make it out of Costco with ONLY the items on my list. Instead of "the items on my list, plus enough extra items to singlehandedly restart the US economy. Or at least the southeast."

Anyone else have this problem? Please tell me I'm not alone here.

I've mentioned my love of Costco before. And I truly love it ever more, each time I go. The wealth of items that I find (and the savings I enjoy) more than make it worth the trip, every time. Each time I go, I find another item (or several) that usually costs an arm and a leg at the grocery store, and now I can buy it at Costco. Awesome!

The problem is, they also have everything from electronics (I had to forcibly remove hubby from the television section) to treadmills (we really do need a new one; ours is about 12 years old), to wine (don't get me started)... and the list marches on. It's like Walmart or Target, only much more fun somehow.

We did pretty well yesterday in terms of spending, but as usual, I found several items that I have not yet tried. I'm still learning my way around, so in addition to our list, we came home with a huge bag of frozen organic broccoli florets, as well as a huge bag of frozen cod (my favorite whitefish - yum!) for a price MUCH more reasonable than Publix - compare six fillets for $12 at Costco, vs. $8 for 2 at Publix. And this is wild-caught Alaska fish. Even better!

Hubby found a ginormous bag of mixed fruit for his smoothies in the mornng, and we upgraded our coffee on this trip (apparently, Starbucks allows Costco to private label Starbucks coffee. So yummy!) That was only $10 for 2lbs, so we were delighted to avoid paying $9 for 1 lb at Publix.

I also got a 2 lb block of Pecorino Romano cheese for about $9, a VAST improvement over Publix's price (about the same, for just a few ounces). This is part of what I love about Costco - first, that they have some of the more "specialty" items that I cook with (most of them, actually) - like sundried tomatoes, capers, balsamic vinegar, and Italian cheeses - but secondly, the much better prices. I think I even enjoy the meals we make more, because I know we didn't have to spend a fortune to eat well.

So, the couponing continues...but Costco is helping me immensely with savings on our grocery and food bills!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, November 30, 2009

Garlic Lime Chicken



This will be a quick post because we've got to keep working on the Christmas tree tonight. It didn't quite get finished this weekend, despite hubby's best efforts to keep me on track (don't blame him - it's hard to keep me on track most of the time!) Anyway, on to the recipe - and enjoy!

This is a recipe I posted about a year and a half ago. It's truly one of our favorites, and I was inspired to repost it this week because it's such a great weeknight recipe. And who can't use another tasty way to fix chicken?! Just make a simple spice rub, heat a skillet, juice a lime and you are all set!

I would add, I have learned to pound (flatten) the chicken slightly when I make this, as that really helps it cook more quickly and evenly. It's also a way to make sure that each bite has plenty of flavor, as there is more surface area to pick up the spice and flavor!

This makes a simple pan sauce which is so tasty. Make sure you keep the heat reasonable, so you don't burn the butter. But you want some brown bits in there for the wonderful flavor they give, so go with about medium heat.

Hope you love this as much as we do!

Garlic Lime Chicken
(Serves 2; modify proportions as needed)

1/2 tsp salt (I use less; see below)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder (about the only time I use the stuff!)
1/2 tsp onion powder (ditto!)
1/2 tsp thyme
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(pound to flatten or make thin cutlets)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine (I usually mix both)
1-2 Tbsp lime juice, depending on your taste

Combine first 7 ingredients; make extra if you like. Coat both sides of chicken with dry rub.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side (or about 2-3 for thinner cutlets). If needed keep flipping the chicken until it's cooked through, to prevent uneven browning. Remove chicken and keep warm. Add lime juice and deglaze pan. If sauce is too thick for your taste, add a little chicken broth. But lately I just go with the pan juices and the lime juice, as I think it's the perfect consistency. If you use broth, simmer sauce to thicken (I like it almost to a glaze consistency, but if you use broth the salt will concentrate as it reduces, so just keep tasting it as you go. I don't usually put as much salt as is called for in the dry rub, for this reason). Once you reach the desired consistency, turn chicken in the sauce to coat and serve!



For more recipe ideas, visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: The "no more turkey" menu!



I love Thanksgiving. Truly. But in my family, everyone loves the "turkey and dressing with sides" meal so much that we tend to eat it exactly as-is...until it's gone. I do have creative leftover ideas. I DO! But no one really wants any changes to it - they like it as-is, so that's what we eat. For about three and a half days, LOL! So by now, I'm pretty much over the turkey!

Whenever I have eaten heavier foods for a few days (and I definitely have this week!) I crave foods that will lighten me up again. Fresh fish, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, generally things that don't involve gravy, condensed soup or a lot of butter and cream (bet my regular readers never thought you'd hear me say that! LOL!) So this week is about lightening up, just a little. Not too much, because it will be chilly here this week and I still crave heartier meals this time of year. But just enough to balance things from the holiday.

So here's the plan! I'm also going to post most of my breakfasts and lunches to keep me on track for the week.

Sunday:
Dinner - Halibut with Grapefruit Fennel Salsa, pasta with lemon butter, garden salad
UPDATED TO ADD - this was delicious. Even hubby liked it, and I didn't see that coming. I thought he would take a left turn at grapefruit. Or fennel. But he liked it! And I LOVED it. The perfect antidote to days of turkey, gravy and butter.

Monday (workout night):
Breakfast - Chocolate Protein Smoothie
Lunch - Lemon chicken soup, blueberry oat and banana muffin for "dessert"
Dinner - Garlic Lime Chicken, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Wilted Spinach

Tuesday (cooking night):
Breakfast - Herbed Egg Omelette Sammy
Lunch - Chicken ragu, whole grain garlic toast
Dinner - Honey Apple Pork, Green Beans with Kale, Roasted Potatoes

Wednesday (workout night):
Breakfast - Smoothie
Lunch - with friends
Dinner - Salmon with Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Basil and Lemon

Thursday (cooking night):
Breakfast - Omelette Sammy
Lunch - Salmon pasta leftovers
Dinner - Cajun Meatloaf (I think I've mentioned that this is the new favorite meal in our house!), Corn, Peas

Friday (I need to workout, so let's call this a workout night too!):
Breakfast - Smoothie
Lunch - Meatloaf leftovers
Dinner - My brother in law will be arriving for a visit - we may go out for pizza or order Chinese

Saturday:
Dinner - Balsamic BBQ Grilled Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli

Happy week to all, and for more menu inspiration, head on over to Orgjunkie!

Love, Dahrlin'

UPDATED TO ADD - on the couponing front, grocery goal for this week was $50. We hit it exactly. YAY!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Table is Set...

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!



(and yes, I will definitely post recipes from our feast...just as soon as I'm done cooking them, LOL!)

Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yep, I was there!

Though, as usual, I'm running a little late in posting this!
(Quiet, Jane, I can hear you from here! LOL!)

WOW, what a crazy week! I am so glad to finally have a second to share a few photos from a truly fantastic weekend!

As several of our group have already shared, last weekend, several of us took off for a fabulous weekend retreat in my home state - Tennessee! Pigeon Forge is lovely this time of year, and I had an absolute blast visiting with these 12 lovely ladies!

The cabin we stayed in was just gorgeous, as was the company!



I did not take all that many photos, but here are a few highlights -


The view from the cabin was lovely - and there were still at least a few leaves on the trees!



We made new friends - here are Heather and Denise -



And here are Jane, myself and Angie -



We shopped, we ate, we acted silly and had a blast!



And we tried, for at least one photo, to all behave ourselves!



Thanks SO much to these ladies - my BFF Angie and Shannon - for a fantastic weekend! MWAH!



Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pumpkin Walnut Bread



This will be a quick post, because by the time you read it, I will be back in my home state, visiting our local highlands (or higher-lands, anyway!) with a fantastic group of other bloggers, including my BFF. I cannot WAIT and I am sure we will all have lots of exciting tales to tell when we return!

While I'm away, I wanted to share another yummy fall recipe I made recently. This was a new one for me, and while I like certain things about it, I think I will continue to tweak it some as I refine it. But what I loved about it, aside from the wonderful fall flavors, was that - with a little cream cheese on top - it bears more than a passing flavor resemblance to a perennial favorite of mine - carrot cake!

I managed to refrain - barely - from adding sugar to the cream cheese I put on top. (Because then, I might have to officially call it frosting, and really - why ruin something that is otherwise perfectly healthy sounding?)

Here is the recipe I tried. So far, I left out the raisins just because I'm not a huge fan of raisins mixed in with other foods. And I may tweak it a little further (if I do I will update this post). But otherwise I loved this. See how you like it!



I'll be back next week with lots of stories from our getaway weekend!

Love, Dahrlin'

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yum! Just...YUM!

As I write this post, I am eating this:



And it is soooooo good. This is the first "just for me" meal I have made in a while. And several things about it make me smile -

First, Giada has a real knack for coming up with health-conscious but super-satisfying flavor and food combinations.

Secondly, I am developing a knack for making her recipes my own, to suit my tastes and whims of the moment.

The result?

A delicious, nutritious dinner that I can make in fifteen minutes (and ten of those are for cooking the pasta). Perfect for absolutely any season of the year, and if you've been reading this blog long, you know how I feel about eating and cooking seasonally!

Next, this is, unapologetically, girl food. At least in my house. (Sorry guys, if any men are reading - hopefully, you are more willing to try new foods than my husband!) And you know what? I could not be more delighted to enjoy it. Every once in a while, I LOVE to make a recipe without caring whether my husband will eat it. Or even try it. And this is something he pretty much won't touch. But I hope you will!

This has a handful of ingredients, not including olive oil, salt and pepper. Ready?

Salmon
Whole wheat spaghetti
Lemon (zest and juice)
Olives
Basil
and Spinach

(...and a hint of butter. 'Cause I could not resist. But shhhhh!!! If I don't call it an ingredient, it doesn't count. Right?)

I won't really give proportions, because this is all about however you like it. For example, the next time I make this I will double the spinach and chop up my olives, which I was too lazy to do tonight since it was 9 pm as I was making this meal. But next time I will, because that salty bite is really delicious throughout this dish, and rounds out the flavors perfectly. So just boil however much spaghetti you want and cook as much salmon as you need. You'll need at least one lemon. Anything from a handful of spinach and a few olives (I use Kalamata, but just because they are my favorite) to a bag of spinach and a ton of olives would be great!

Now, here's what can make this a super-fast, weeknight, pantry meal. On Sunday, when your husband is grilling burgers, ask him to grill a bit of salmon for you. When he says "huh?", sweetly reply that you will save money on lunches this week! Refrigerate the fish until needed (reheat slowly - like at 30 or 40% power - for several minutes in microwave). Boil your spaghetti to desired tenderness. Drop in tons of spinach when it's done (but before draining) - then drain all together. This will wilt the spinach perfectly. Zest the lemon and toss pasta with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add in zest and olives to taste. Top with salmon, drizzle with lemon juice and enjoy - or do what I do - thank God for Giada's food, because otherwise I'd still be eating Easy Mac on nights like this!!

Another reason to love this dish? It contains at least four of what they are now calling "superfoods." Foods like salmon, whole grains, spinach and olives/olive oil are all things we can agree are good for us. And in this dish, they are so delicious you won't even feel like you're eating healthy!

And now...back to my dinner!




(Adapted from this recipe, by Giada de Laurentiis. Notes on original recipe - I grilled the salmon instead, swapped kalamata olives in for the capers, which I don't prefer, and eliminated the garlic, but only because I was eating dinner late in the evening!)

Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wordful Wednesday: Fall Colors!

Ummm...



Think I should have ironed it first? LOL

I keep thinking the fold lines will fall out with the breeze. But...so far, notsomuch...

Anyway, welcome to fall in Georgia! I love UGA's new "blackout" color scheme - sometimes the guys wear black jerseys with the legendary "silver britches" and it looks sharp!!

(And I really think I'm gonna have to take this down and iron it. Really.)


Love, Dahrlin'

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Knitty Update

It's been a while since I posted an update on my current knitting project. After last year's issues with my neck problem, it was a while before knitting was comfortable again. And then in the summer, we're out by the pool a lot in our free time, and holding something wool in my lap in the heat is not really fun. But fall always brings me back to this project, and I love the progress so far.

For those new to my blog, I'm working on this afghan project. I adore bright colors and contrasts, and I love this pattern. So here is my block 13 of 24 for the afghan. I don't have a great place to photograph these in natural light, but I tried to get a ray of sunlight in there so you can see the truest color:



I pulled out the finished blocks to compare colors, and the latest skeins I have knitted are more muted than the first, more jewel-tone hues that I prefer. But that's what's available at the moment, so I think they will all blend nicely. (And yes, the egg-crate texture of the knitting is correct - it will flatten later as it's blocked).

This is about as crafty as I get outside scrapbooking, so I am really enjoying the project!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Comfort Food Birthday Dinner!



This Halloween, my Dad turned 70. Happy Birthday Daddy!

We originally planned a dinner out, but his wife was unable to join us this weekend, so we decided to cook at home and watch the ball games. Dad and hubby always bet the games, so game days are big around here!

On my second trip to the store for the day (don't ask!), I was headed out to pick up candy (can't believe we forgot this...but I never ever buy it early, because I can't keep myself from eating it). The boys called while I was on the way, to ask what the menu would be. I told Dad since it was his birthday, he could choose. I gave them a few options, and (much to my surprise!) he chose salmon patties. This is one of those foods I had no idea my Dad would eat! It's always been a favorite dish of mine, and hubby loves it too. But I just didn't know Dad would eat these. And he loved them!

I asked what he wanted for side dishes, and got another surprise. "Peas." What? Yes, PEAS. Uh...are you sure? Yes, baby peas. Alrighty then! LOL Peas, I have in the freezer at all times. Peas I can definitely do!

I reminded the boys we needed a second side item, because I know these boys well, and that's not going to fill them up. Potatoes? Roasted potatoes? Easy enough! This birthday dinner was sounding better and better. Lots of my favorites in here too!

So, for anyone who has never tried salmon patties (some people call these croquettes, but ...not so much here in the South!)...try these. Especially for lovers of crab cakes - this is the same concept (only much more affordable!) And by the time I add ketchup at the table, which is my favorite condiment for these, I promise they don't even taste like fish.

You only need a few ingredients. Canned salmon, oats (yes, oats!), a lemon, some parsley, an onion, an egg or two, and some bread crumbs. Grab whatever oil you want to saute* in, find your salt and pepper, and you're good to go!

(*While we are not big on fancy cooking terms in the South, we will cheerfully use "saute" instead of "fry" to make ourselves feel better. Or at least I will! LOL)

Now. Grab a big bowl, drain the fish and crumble it. For six patties you want about 3 "regular" size cans. Finely chop a small onion and about a handful (to taste) of flat leaf Italian parsley. Juice 1/2 to 1 lemon (again, to taste). Oh, and add in a little Worcestershire sauce - about a tablespoon. Add some salt and pepper, a handful of oats, a drizzle of olive oil and 1 large egg (lightly beaten). Form into equal size patties and dredge in bread crumbs (I used about 3 parts french bread crumbs to 1 part whole wheat bread crumbs, just because that's what I had - use any crumbs you've got or make some). When you're done, they'll look something like this:



Then, heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with oil. When it's warm (but not smoking - toss in a bread crumb and it should sizzle a bit, just gently). Add the patties (I do about three at at time - don't crowd them) and brown on both sides. It's super simple, and super yummy. Keep the first batch warm in a 225 degree oven, on paper towels. When you serve them, serve with ketchup alongside. I promise, you won't even know you're eating fish!



For the side dishes, I just cut up red and white potatoes and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. I have a lot of variations on this theme, some involving garlic, peppers, onions, or rosemary, because I love roasted potatoes, but hubby prefers them plain. If you do them plain, don't skimp on the salt and pepper! Roast about an hour at 375, tossing every 15 minutes. Toss again with kosher salt just before serving. And here again - just go ahead and leave the ketchup on the table, LOL!



I kept the peas simple, with just butter, salt and pepper. And voila - a super yummy birthday dinner. It doesn't get more comforting or homey than this! We all agreed it's a perfect game-day meal, too!

Hope you enjoy!



Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Easiest Recipe I Know

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts



Seriously. This has two ingredients - TWO. Okay, not counting salt, pepper and olive oil. But I don't count those as ingredients, since most people have them in their pantry.

Ready?

(1) Chicken, and
(2) Shredded (not grated!) Parmesan Cheese.

When I saw this Rachael Ray recipe on her show, I thought, no way - it can't be that easy. A crispy, buttery crust, without eggs, bread crumbs, milk, or any of that hassle? This was one I knew I had to try!

This is really as simple as it sounds. You just coat the chicken with the cheese (press firmly to adhere as much cheese as you can). Preheat a nonstick skillet (don't try this without a nonstick surface) and pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure it is very hot - the oil should be almost smoking. Lay the chicken carefully in the pan.

Now, here's the ONLY trick to this recipe. You're going to be very tempted to move the chicken around and check on it. LEAVE it alone in the pan for at least several minutes. If you must check, lift carefully from one edge, just until you meet resistance. If it's still sticky and the cheese is gooey, leave it a little longer. It can be hard to understand what you're trying to achieve here if you haven't seen it made, so here's a picture of my pan after I flipped the chicken. When it's ready to flip, it won't be gooey or messy. So don't try to move it too soon!



I also recommend halving your chicken breasts horizontally, to make them cook faster. I did not do that this time, and remembered why I usually do. Mine took forever to cook, so I had to flip them several times while waiting for the chicken to finish cooking. But here's about what they will look like when done:



Hubby and I both love these - parmesan cheese has a buttery, delicious flavor when cooked. I serve them with marinara on the side (I keep this in the freezer for just such occasions!) and whatever veggies I feel like that day. Hope you love it as much as we do!



If you would like to refer to the original recipe, it's here - I have also made her roasted potatoes and peppers (mentioned in the recipe) and they are yummy too!

Love, Dahrlin'

Friday, October 23, 2009

Foodie Friday! Creamy Bowtie Pasta



Here's a new recipe that I have been meaning to try for ages. I finally got around to it the other day, and MAN am I thrilled with this one. Super, super good, and even hubby raved!

This one jumped out at me when I read it in Taste of Home. Why? Aside from the obvious (who doesn't love cheese and pasta?), because when I was in college, before I began to really learn to cook, I literally lived on Lipton Noodles, Pasta Roni, and of course, the Blue Box (it's the cheesiest!!) I ate boxes and boxes and...I can still get a little smile on my face thinking about the Parmesan flavor from Lipton, which was sooooo yummy (they all were, actually). But let's face it - those mixes, however handy, are full of stuff that's just plain not.good.for.you. Partially hydrogenated whatever, powdered cheese (two words that just don't go together) and other stuff that, today, makes me go "ewww!" Not when I taste it, but when I read it. And have you ever seen what happens if you make Kraft Easy Mac and then let the dish sit for a while? The "cheese" hardens to the side of the dish like a sludge...and it doesn't come off easily! What's that mean for our bodies?

Now, I'm not saying there aren't days when I reach for Easy Mac. Seriously. I do! I still love the stuff. But I am seriously rethinking that after trying this recipe...

This recipe was simply a delight! I definitely recommend it ANYTIME as a side dish, main dish (add your favorite meat or seafood) and just plain comfort food snack!

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta

1 cup uncooked bow tie pasta
1-1/2 teaspoons butter
2-1/4 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Dash salt
Dash dried basil
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon sour cream

Cook pasta to desired tenderness. While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in olive oil, flour, garlic and herbs until blended. Next add the milk, broth and water and stir well. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for a couple minutes or until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese and sour cream. Drain the pasta and toss warm pasta with sauce. Serve immediately (and don't be like me, immediately becoming so entranced that you eat your helping over the stove! LOL!)



Nutrition Facts: 3/4 cup equals 196 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 19 mg cholesterol, 252 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Love, Dahrlin'

*PS - wondering about this slightly odd photo? Yeah. Thought so. Maybe you can't quite put your finger on what's odd about it? That would be the fact that about a tablespoon of it was all that was left...when I remembered to stop eating and take a picture!! LOL!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This bears repeating...

Blueberry Multigrain Waffles



I've posted these delicious creatures once before, but I just made another batch, and I have to say, I really think they deserve an encore appearance! I usually make these in the cooler months, so last weekend I just made our first batch since last spring. They freeze beautifully (and I actually prefer them reheated, because you can get them a little more crispy). Ten minutes in a toaster oven, and you can have warm and yummy waffles any time - and these are actually good for you! See below for nutritional info.

I'll refer you back to the original post for the recipe. But before you go, I wanted to point out another feature of this recipe that I love - its flexibility. Normally, flexibility isn't a quality that is associated with bread recipes and baking, but this one truly is. If you've been reading this blog long, you know I have done a lot of couponing in the last six months or so. And I'm trying extra hard these days not to throw away or waste food, which we used to do a lot. It's just me and hubby, so sometimes it's hard to use up the last of things before they go bad (we do freeze a lot though). So last weekend, I was delighted to use up the following items that were languishing in my fridge - all in this recipe:

-End of a box of oats
-End of a can of baking powder
-Remainder of a carton of eggs
-Remainder of a carton of buttermilk
-Remainder of a tub of sour cream
-A whole 4-pack of greek yogurt that was about to expire
-The rest of a jar of maple syrup
-The rest of a carton of butter
-The last of my frozen walnuts
and
-The last of a package of blueberries

Now, I don't always have this many odds and ends in my pantry and fridge, but this time it just worked out that way. And it made me SO happy to see all those containers going to recycling! Nothing went to waste!

I point this out only so you won't worry if you would like to make this recipe, but look in your fridge and don't have, say, yogurt (use sour cream instead). Or milk (can use buttermilk or soymilk). This recipe has some flexibility, and it will still taste yummy!!

We make these about every 8 weeks, and enjoy them effortlessly on cold mornings in the other 7 weeks! Hope you enjoy as much as we have!



Nutrient info (according to Cuisinart, the recipe author):

1 waffle = 137 calories, 18g carbs, 6g protein, 5g fat (1g sat fat), 2g fiber.

This recipe is posted at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday! Check out Lisa and Lana's collection for more recipe inspiration!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Easy Crockpot Beef Stroganoff



I always look sideways at any recipe that begins with "Easy." The entire concept of what is considered "easy" by a given person varies wildly. I am a devoted Food Network addict, and I can't tell you how many times my favorite cooks and chefs have raved about how "easy" something is...while chopping piles of vegetables at a speed I can only dream of, or stirring some concoction with more ingredients (and dishes) than I normally use in a week. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a girlfriend who considers something truly easy only if it comes in a box and requires no additional ingredients, except perhaps salt and pepper (which she can add at the table - or skip if she wants!)

But this, I promise you, is truly easy. And soooo good. This is one of the first home-cooked recipes I learned to make for my husband. And we still love it! This one takes no more than 30 minutes hands on, and feeds a crowd. Leftovers are delicious for lunches or dinners. And it's perfect fall and winter comfort food!

Start this one about lunchtime - it does not have to cook all morning.

Begin by slicing a couple medium white onions. Toss these in the crockpt with a little salt and pepper (don't overdo salt at this point, as we are using broth later).



Next, cube about 2 pounds of pot roast meat (chuck, shoulder, rump, pretty much any "roast" you want to use - look for a large piece you can cut up yourself - usually a bit less expensive that way). Most roasts are pretty well marbled (contain small amounts of visible fat throughout) so go ahead and trim off any visible fat you can get to on the outside. Cut into about 1 inch pieces (to your preferred size). They will be fork-tender when done, so no worries on the size.

(Hmmm... this roast reminds me of the "Old '96er." Name that movie!!)






Toss the beef with the onions and a little more salt and pepper if you like.



Next, grab a few flavoring friends -



See recipe for the details - throw these together, pour over the beef and onions, pop on the top and turn crockpot to low.





Now, go shopping, paint your nails, play with the kids, whatever you feel like. You have a whole day to enjoy while dinner cooks itself!

After about 6 hours (can go a little longer), add the mushrooms and red wine (if using) as well as cornstarch. Turn heat to high for about half an hour to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your egg noodles and make a green salad!

When ready to serve, turn off heat. I like to let it cool just slightly before adding the sour cream, so the cream does not curdle. But it won't affect the taste either way. If you're hungry, add it and go! (that's what I did, as you may be able to tell from the photo!)

Serve the stroganoff over big bowls of noodles. Your family will love you!



Here's the actual recipe - enjoy!!

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff - from Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery

1.5 - 2 lbs pot roast
1-2 white onions, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Worcesterchire sauce
1 (10 oz) can beef broth
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp paprika
2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
2 Tbsp red wine (optional)
1 package sliced baby portobello mushrooms
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream (regular or low fat only)
Cooked egg noodles or rice

Cube steak and toss with sliced onions and minced garlic in crock pot. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine next five ingredients (Worcesterchire sauce through thyme) and pour over beef. Scrape down sides of crockpot and make sure no tiny pieces of garlic adhere to the sides (keeps it from burning and turning bitter!). Cover and cook on low approx 6 hours. Turn heat to high, add wine and mushrooms. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to pot. Cover and cook approx 30-45 mintues while you make noodles or rice. When ready to serve, turn off heat and add sour cream; serve over noodles or rice.

This recipe is posted at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Crock Pot Wednesday! Check out these great sites for more kitchen inspiration!

Love, Dahrlin'

You have to keep it simple sometimes...

This is a video I found over at Debbie's site (check out her Crock Pot Wednesday Roundup!). For any of us ladies who have ever sent our men out to the store, thinking that (this time) we have made the perfect, absolutely idiot mistake-proof list, that he can't possibly misinterpret, I give you the funniest thing I have heard all week. Enjoy!



Happy Sunday!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread



Ummm...yummmmm...

We tried this one this weekend, and I'm still a happy girl as of Monday night, because I had some more of this with lunch AND dinner. Sooooo good. I like this recipe as a combination of our favorite cheese muffins and cornbread, with a little kick in there from the jalapenos.

Now, this is an Ina Garten recipe. Which, in my experience, means it will be a lot like a PW recipe. It will be VERY good, and it will contain a LOT of butter. Both true in this case. If you're afraid of butter, run now! But seriously...this is too good to pass up. If you're running, turn around quick!

(Still here?)

Yeah, I thought so!! Whether we'll admit it or not, butter makes the world go 'round. Really. Don't believe me? Try going a day without it. You'll be sad!

Nah, just kidding. But really, I would be very sad!!

So here's a GREAT recipe to try with chili (as we did), burgers, soups...really just about any fall and winter food you feel like pairing it with. This one is worth trying very soon!!

Recipe is here.

My notes - this is called a cornbread, but really has more of a muffin texture. Crumbly like a cake or muffin, but the crust is deliciously crispy and buttery like a cornbread. Hubby liked it fine, but disagreed that it was truly a cornbread. LOL! I didn't much care what we called it; I just wanted to eat some more. Also, I doubled the amount of jalapenos and green onions, and it was perfect. I think next time I may try it with pepper jack cheese, as another layer of flavor (we like things spicy!)

Hope you enjoy!

For more yummy recipe inspiration, head over to Lisa's for Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!



Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Catch-up week - The New Car!

Okay guys, I know it's been forever since blogged regularly. I'm baby-stepping my way back into a good routine for fall, and in the meantime I'll be posting a few "catchup" items to let you know what's been going on around here.

First, a little background. Hubby and I tend to keep things until they wear out, only replacing stuff as needed. Hence, I've had the same car for 12 years. We've known for a while that my car would soon need replacing or else major repairs. We've been stalling on that for months, trying to see how far we could push our luck. But at the beginning of this month hubby declared, ever so sweetly, the news that I've waited several years now to hear:

"Honey, it's time we got you a new car."

Seems pretty easy, right? But no. Some of you know that hubby and I are both attorneys. And you just know that two lawyers can't agree on anything that easily.

Ready for the funny part? We had to argue , for days, because he wanted us to get the 2009 model, and I wanted the 2008. I knew exactly the car I wanted, but I liked the older body style, etc. and he wanted the deal we could get on the new year. I know, I'm bizarre. What woman wouldn't want a brand new car? We looked for a couple months for the 2008 TL (which body style I preferred) but could not find the color combo I wanted (no more black interior - too hot here in the South!)

Fast forward - hubby won. LOL! He correctly predicted that when I saw the package of technology goodies that comes on the '09, I would cave immediately. The 2009 has a, shall we say, bold exterior style that people either love or hate. I was in the latter group at first, but it's growing on me, and to keep it real - I really don't care, once I'm inside, what the outside looks like, LOL!

So here's a pic of the new baby. I will have to admit, I did not shed a lot of tears to say goodbye to my old car, though she took great care of me for many years!




I can wholeheartedly recommend the Acura TL if you're in the market for a new car. Any Acura, actually - this model year was the first time in history that the Institute for Highway Safety awarded its highest safety rating to every single model in a manufacturer's model year. Every 2009 Acura got the highest possible rating.

I highly recommend them!

So I hope everyone's having a GREAT weekend and I will be by to catch up and say hi!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Summer into Fall!



How is it Monday again already?

Fall is my favorite season and, therefore, always seems to fly by. I can't believe it's already the middle of September! Days are (marginally) cooler, nights are definitely cooler, and on weekend mornings I can have my coffee outside and actually feel a little chilly. That doesn't stop me from sitting outside, as I LOVE to feel the weather turning cooler. But hubby was actually shivering this morning! I laughed, because it was only 68, so I could not dredge up a lot of sympathy!

So, on to this week's menu plan. We are finally getting back to a more routine life, and this week is all about eating well and getting back into working out. We'll take advantage of some of the meal kits I made a few weeks ago, and I'm brown-bagging lunch each day except for Wednesday (standing lunch with friends). I'm also bringing out a few of our cooler weather favorites, and I'm culling through favorite recipes for cooler months to add to upcoming plans.

To help with eating well, I'm also going to post my breakfasts and lunches to keep me on track mentally. Here's the plan:

Sunday:
Dinner - Garlic Lime Chicken, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli

Monday (workout night):
Breakfast - Chocolate Protein Smoothie
Lunch - Pepper Jack Club Pita with Avocado; Grapes
Dinner - Chicken Broccoli Braid (a true one-dish favorite!)

Tuesday (cooking night):
Breakfast - Herbed Egg Omelette Sammy
Lunch - Same Pita as Monday; Peach
Dinner - Cajun Meatloaf (I literally crave this once a week now), Creamy Bow Tie Pasta (a new one to try), Garlicky Green Beans

Wednesday (workout night):
Breakfast - Smoothie
Lunch - with friends
Dinner - leftover Cajun Meatloaf and Pasta

Thursday (cooking night):
Breakfast - Omelette Sammy
Lunch - Meatloaf or Club Pita; Grapes
Dinner - Tilapia with Baby Limas

Friday (I need to workout, so let's call this a workout night too!):
Breakfast - Smoothie
Lunch - Honey Roasted PB&J; Peach
Dinner - Pepper Steak with Rice

Saturday: No idea what we'll eat for the day yet - but we're going to see Journey with some friends. Can't wait!!

Happy week to all, and for more menu inspiration, head on over to Orgjunkie!

Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Costco, I...

...sure do love you!

(sorry for the lack of photos in this post. I started prepping food right away when I got this stuff home, and decided later to blog about it!)

I went to Costco this past weekend to get some items for my freezer meal kits. It's the only place I can get, for example, 12 fresh chicken breasts at a time at prices that don't stop my heart (and for reasons having nothing to do with cholesterol!)

While there, I did manage to stick pretty well to my list, with only a couple minor detours into the champagne aisle. To be fair, I only paused briefly to pick up the gallon-sized bag of M&M's requested by hubby to survey items that I might need next week visit.

Although it never feels like it as I am paying the bill, this place really does save us $$ and is a big help with my freezer kit preparation. Some of their prices are truly awesome - for example, I got 5 lbs. of Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese (I like to grate my own for recipes) for $8 (sale price). For comparison, Publix's sale price on this cheese this week was $2/8 oz., which would have been $20 for the same 5 lbs. 3 lbs. of sour cream was only $3.79 (about the best price I find at Publix, with both sales and coupons, is 50 cents for 8 fluid oz., which is less than half a pound weight-wise). 3 lbs of almonds was $10.00 (this even beats Whole Foods' price).

Their produce is great, too if you can use the quantities (I usually buy mostly freezer meal items) - a bag of about 10 red peppers (usually close to $2.00 a piece at Publix) was $6.99. Gallon-size bag of sliced baby portobellos was 4.49. 5lbs. extra-lean ground beef: $14 (contrast $4.99/lb at Publix). I also find that their prices on condiment-type items are MUCH better - for example, I got a huge jar of sliced sundried tomatoes (equivalent to 4 of the size I usually get at Publix for $4 each) for $8.50. Three pounds of bananas were $1.32 (hubby is back to making smoothies and now I can't keep these in the house past about Wednesday each week!)

There were other deals too, but those were my favorites from yesterday. So all this to say, if you have a Costco near you and have been thinking of joining, I can recommend it wholeheartedly!

Happy Wednesday!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Pappardelle with Tomatoes, Arugula and Parmesan (Tempt My Tummy Tuesday)



So I wish I could say that, in my absence from blogging these last few months weeks, I have been doing a lot of cooking. But the sad truth is I have not. We've been so crazy busy that we've been eating whatever and whenever we can find food in the freezer/pantry. So I have really been desperate to get back into the kitchen and make an actual meal!

This is a recipe I saw on the cover of Cooking Light five (yes, FIVE) years ago, and have wanted to try ever since. I have no excuse for why it's taken me this long, because I literally see that particular magazine issue all the time (it has several favorite recipes of ours). And every time I do, I look longingly at the cover and sigh. But finally, on to the recipe!

Its beautiful colors and summery flavors drew me in immediately, and I just love any pasta shape that can properly be called a ribbon! Pappardelle is so much fun! I cheated a little and boiled flat lasagna noodles (then cut with a pizza cutter) to make my pasta, but you can usually find good pappardelle in any supermarket (not mine, obviously, but that's a different story for another day!)

My picture does not quite do it justice, but you'll get the idea if you click over to the recipe. My only notes on this one are that I did not use bacon (just didn't have it), and I used my own homegrown tomatoes. You almost can't overdo the lemon juice, because you want it to have a lot of zing, and the salty parmesan will balance the acidity nicely.

Even if you think you don't like arugula, give it a try. It really has a nice but subtle flavor, and is integral to this dish (though you could substitute spinach if you just want to!)

Hope you enjoy and for more yummy recipes, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa and Lana!

Love, Dahrlin'
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