Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 62, Chicken Quesadillas

I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, so I chopped it finely and threw it between some tortillas. A little taco seasoning, and you have a tasty treat.

Chicken Quesadillas

1 cooked chicken breast, finely chopped or shredded
5 green onions, chopped
1 (8 oz) bag of taco cheese
1 packet taco seasoning
4 10-inch tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix chicken, onions and seasoning in a bowl. Spray a pizza pan or baking sheet with non-stick spray. Place 2 tortillas on pan. Add chicken mixture, divided equally, to each tortilla; spread evenly over tortillas. Add cheese on top of chicken mixture, divided equally. Place remaining two tortillas on top of each. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and tortillas are crispy. Cut into 8 slices and serve with salsa, guacamole and/or sour cream.

Serves 4-5

This is another good way to finish up a rotisserie chicken that's leftover form the day before. You don't need to heat the chicken separately, it will warm up in the oven. I used cheese that had jalapenos in the mixture for added spiciness. This would be a good appetizer for a game night.

Flavor Rating: Great, it was a nice mixture, if you like more spiciness, add green chilies or jalapenos.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, removing the chicken from the bone is easier if the chicken is still warm.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 61, It's not Delivery.....

Since I was out all day with my friends, I left a frozen pizza for the family to make. I got a Digiorno rising crust pepperoni pizza. We prefer this brand over Freschetta.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 60, Tilapia in Orange Sauce

I decided to experiment with another orange juice blend. It was good, but I should have made it into a reduction. Orange Roughy would be good for this sauce too.

Tilapia in Orange Sauce

1 pound tilapia
3 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix orange juice, lime juice and butter in a small bowl. Place fish into a shallow baking pan and pour juice mixture over fish. Bake 8-10 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serves 4

I think for a stronger taste I should have doubled the sauce and taken it to a pan to boil it for 20 minutes so it could reduce, making the flavor more intense. It was a little too mild of a taste for me. Having been the first time I made this, it could have worse, but it could have also been better.

Flavor Rating: Good, it was a good sauce, but it could have been more intense.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just mix and bake.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 59, Beef Fajitas

I had to use the rest of the steak I had, so fajitas it was. I used a spice packet again. I like having premixed spices so I don't have to figure out spice amounts myself.

Beef Fajitas

1 pound beef, lean roast or steak, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
1 medium sweet pepper, sliced into strips
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 McCormick Fajita seasoning packet
1/4 cup water

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add peppers and onions, cook until browned, 3-5 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan. Add second tablespoon oil and add beef. Cook beef until done, about 5-7 minutes. Mix seasoning packet and water in a small bowl. Add vegetables back into pan, pour seasoning over mixture. Cook an additional 5 minutes, until heated through and liquid is reduced.

Serves 5-6

Serve this in 6 inch tortillas. I use whole wheat tortillas. You can add sour cream, guacamole, and cheese as desired. I liked this seasoning. It was definitely fajita flavor. I cook my vegetables before my meat to ensure proper browning because I tend to have some liquid come from the meat and I wanted the vegetable to retain their own flavor before mixing it all together. The spice packet said to cook the meat first, but I had cut up the vegetables first, so that's the order I cooked them. The beef does tend to stick when you first place it in the pan, it will come loose in a minute as it cooks. Don't try to pry it up or you'll end up having torn meat.

Flavor Rating: Great, I really liked this spice mixture.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, it just has a little prep work.

Day 58, Mozzarella Tomato Salad

Sorry I didn't update last night, we got home late and had dinner out. Mandarin Buffet in Coon Rapids was our destination. It was ok, but the food was a little overcooked last night. I am going to instead share what I had for lunch today.

Mozzarella Roll Salad

1 (16 oz) mozzarella roll (you can find both whole mozzarella and unrollable mozzarella at this size, use the unrollable mozzarella)
1 package fresh basil, about 3 stems worth
1 medium tomato, sliced thinly
Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing, about 1 tbsp per plate

Open mozzarella roll and unroll, plastic side down. Wash and dry basil, remove leaves from stems. Place tomatoes on mozzarella; add basil on top of tomatoes.

Roll mozzarella, removing plastic from backside, keeping tomatoes and basil between mozzarella.

Slice roll into 1/2 inch slices and place on a plate. Place 5-6 slices per serving plate.

Drizzle dressing over slices and serve.

Serves 3-4

I found a similar flavor at Panera during one summer. I think it's a seasonal salad for them. Usually they just chop tomatoes into bite size pieces as well as the mozzarella. I happened upon the rollable mozzarella, so that's how I made it today. I prefer the Balsamic Vinaigrette, but my husband prefers Raspberry Vinaigrette on his salad. Either way a vinaigrette is the best flavor to top this salad.

Flavor Rating: Good, I think the rolls are a bit too much cheese for me, but I do love the salad in the chopped up mode.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, it's kind of tricky getting the tomatoes to stay still within the roll.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 57, Garlic Lemon Butter Steak

I got some good steaks from my mother and I had to have one today. I love it when I know my cow before it's on my plate.

Garlic Lemon Butter Steak

1 pound lean cut steak
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Cook steak in 1 tbsp olive oil to desired doneness, 5-7 minutes per side for medium on medium heat. Mix butter, garlic and lemon juice in a cup. Let steak set for 5 minutes before cutting. Cut into strips and serve with butter sauce poured over steak.

Serves 4

I served this with Green Giant broccoli and cheesy rice steamers. It was a quick way to make a side, but not necessarily the healthiest way to have rice or broccoli. It's a nice way to make a quick side, but I prefer plain steamed broccoli and brown rice over a quick processed side. I don't actually measure anything, so I try to approximate what I used in my recipes.

Flavor Rating: Great, I liked the butter sauce, but I love garlic and lemon and butter, so it was all good.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, be sure to dry your steak with paper towels before cooking to be able to brown it nicely.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 56, Enchiladas

I've never eaten enchiladas before and this is the first time I made them. They turned out ok, but I found out why I don't eat them.


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 McCormick Enchilada sauce mix
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
8 6-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Clean fat off of chicken breasts and cut into pieces. Place in a pan with enough water to cover; boil for about a half hour, until chicken is tender enough to shred. Using 2 forks, take chicken out of water and place in a shallow container; shred. Make enchilada sauce according to packaging. Mix 1/2 cup of sauce with shredded chicken. Heat tortillas according to packaging; dip into sauce to cover. Divide chicken into tortillas equally, about 1/4 cup chicken per tortilla. Place into a 11x7 inch pan seam down. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Add cheese equally over top of enchiladas. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Serves 8

You could add sour cream over the enchiladas for added flavor. I will probably never make this again, but not because of flavor problems. I made these with 4 10-inch whole wheat tortillas instead of the 8 smaller ones. The flavor was interesting, but I think for my tastes, I'll order fajitas well before I'd order enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant. If you like Mexican food, these would be good for you. You could use leftover rotisserie chicken also to save time; be sure to shred it while it's still warm before you store it. If you prefer, you could also use ground beef or ground turkey as directed on the packaging.

Flavor Rating: Good, just not my taste preference.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, I ended up burning my fingers with the hot sauce when I was dipping them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 55, Game Day Taco Dip

Due to the Minnesota Vikings playing today, I had to make something quick and easy to eat with your hands. I found a new type of dipping chip, so I had to try them.

Layered Taco Dip

1 pound ground beef
1 taco seasoning packet
water according to package
1 cup taco mix shredded cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large frying pan, brown ground beef on medium heat. Drain and rinse. Mix in seasoning packet and water and simmer according to packet. Place taco meat on a serving plate, top with shredded cheese, salsa and sour cream in that order. Serve with chips. If desired add refried beans and guacamole between cheese and salsa layers.

Serves 6-8

I'm not partial to either guacamole or refried beans, so I didn't add them to this dip. I wanted to have a eat with chips kind of meal, so a taco dip was a good choice to go with a football game. Had I had sliced black olives, I would have added them too. I didn't need anything else for dinner today because I wasn't having a big party. I found some new dipping strips to go with the dip instead of regular tortilla chips. They were ok, but I think the bite sized round chips would have held up better with this kind of thick dip. I think they are better for a cheese dip or a salsa.

Whether you win or lose today (they're in overtime as I type)
Skol Vikings!

Flavor Rating: Good, just like a taco.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, it's ok to get messy with your dip.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 54, French Onion Soup

I did say I was going to attempt to caramelize onions, and today I did. I actually did successfully too. I'm not very patient, and prefer to make things that take near a half hour to make, but this is well worth the wait.

French Onion Soup

6-8 medium onions, approximately 2 pounds
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
32 oz beef stock, approximately 3 cups
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch pepper to taste
1/2 baguette, cut into 3 inch pieces
4 slices Provolone cheese

Cut onions into thin slices. Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan on medium low heat. Add onions to frying pan and cook for 45 - 50 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until caramelized. Add Worcestershire sauce, pepper and beef stock to onions; bring to a boil. Place 2 slices of bread in a heatable bowl, preferably a ceramic tureen. Add soup over bread. Place a slice of cheese over each bowl. Either take a kitchen torch to brown the cheese, or place bowls on a baking sheet and broil 3-4 inches from top of oven for 1-3 minutes, until cheese is browned.

Serves 4

Onions at beginning: translucent stage

Onions at midpoint: beginning to caramelize

Onions at end stage: caramelized

Bread in bowl before adding soup

I have tried to copy the french onion soup that TGIFriday's has made and I think I'm getting closer. I'm not patient, but to have good french onion soup, you need caramelized onions. It takes about 45 minutes to properly caramelize onions. I have attempted to caramelize onions before, but have not taken my time and not gotten them the way I wanted. If you're in a hurry, make the soup the day before and refrigerate the mix up to adding the broth step, reheating the soup and adding it to the bread and cheese when needed.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, my husband loved it and wanted a second bowl.

Ease of Preparation: Hard, onions take a long time to caramelize and there is an added step to brown the cheese.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 53, Tomato Garlic Roast

Today was a slow cooker kind of day. I have done a roast before, but I used different ingredients on this roast than I did the last one.

Tomato Garlic Beef Roast

2 pounds beef roast
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups (1 box) beef broth
5 medium potatoes

Wash, peel and dice potatoes. Add to bottom of large slow cooker. Place roast on top of potatoes. Add tomatoes and garlic on top of roast. Add broth, enough to cover potatoes. Set to high and cook 5-7 hours until potatoes are tender and roast is cooked enough to cut with a fork.

Serves 5-6

The tomatoes give this roast a good flavor. I like having different ways to make the same thing. I used a chuck roast, but this was a fatty cut. It was also a cheap cut, and slow roasting it helps to make it easier to remove the fat from the meat. If you cook it long enough, the roast falls apart which makes it easier to eat if you're a small child or an older adult with bad teeth. I have found another roast topping, so I will be able to have roast at least one more time this year.
If you are going to be at work for 8 or more hours, you could cook it on low and it will be dome when you get home. I just happen to not start dinner until 10 am on slow cooker days and need it to be done by 5, so I cook on high.

Flavor Rating: Great, I like this tomato / garlic combination.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just throw it in before work and you'll have dinner waiting for you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 52, Scrambled Egg Bake

The kids wanted eggs and I had pulled out some sausage links, so I decided to do an egg bake. Scrambling the eggs before sticking it in the oven helps to make sure your eggs are cooked well.

Scrambled Egg Bake

1 package sausage links, cut into equal pieces
6 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup biscuit mix
1/3 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook sausage according to package, until browned. I cooked half the package, then the other half to ensure complete cooking. Break eggs into a large bowl and mix with a fork until color is consistent. Spray a frying pan with non stick spray and cook eggs on medium, gently mixing after a minute, until eggs are cooked to slightly runny. In an 8x8 square pan, spray with cooking spray, add eggs to bottom. Add cheese on top of eggs, add sausage next. Mix biscuit mix, milk, oregano and egg in a small bowl; pour evenly over sausage. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

Serves 9

I would have put in either peppers or broccoli to this to make it healthier, but I didn't have any at home today and I wasn't going to buy the frozen vegetables at the store I was at last night because I didn't think the freezer was working properly there. You can substitute ground sausage or turkey sausage for the sausage in this dish. Bacon could even be used instead. I like the oregano flavor in this dish, but have seen a similar dish with an Italian spice blend. It's a versatile dish and can be used at a brunch or as an on the go dish. Even though you cook the eggs to begin with, letting them be moist to begin with helps bind them to the bread mixture and finish cooking to create a finger food product. I actually sprinkled some oregano on top of the eggs before adding the rest of the ingredients on top in addition to incorporating it into the biscuit mix.

Flavor Rating: Good, it would have been better with vegetables.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, there are several steps, make sure to mix the biscuit mix directly before pouring it over the top.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 51, Loose Meat Sandwiches

I thawed out some hamburger meat and was planning on meatballs, but when I discovered that I didn't have all the ingredients for them, I went with making loose meat sandwiches instead.

Loose Meat Sandwiches

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp McCormick Steakhouse Seasoning

In a large frying pan, cook onion and ground beef, mixing to crumble ground beef as finely as possible. Drain and rinse ground beef mixture. Return mixture to pan and add garlic, Worcestershire sauce and steakhouse seasoning; mix thoroughly. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, until garlic has browned, but not burned.

Serves 8-10

Serve this mixture either on buns or bread. This is a very dry mixture, unlike sloppy joes which are very moist. I didn't have all the ingredients to the original recipe that I took this from and have no idea what browning sauce is. I happen to enjoy the steakhouse seasoning, so I went with that. I am buying new seasonings all the time, so more interesting mixtures may just pop up. So far I'm enjoying this challenge I have given myself, but I need to go farther outside my comfort zone to push myself to try new things. Sometime this week I will be trying to sautee onions. Let's see if I manage to do it this time. I'm just not very patient and sauteeing onions takes patience.

Flavor Rating: Good, I wish I had gone with the brown sugar and tomato juice that was in the origianl recipe I was looking at, but I didn't have any tomato juice.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, stirring while cooking creates little pieces of hamburger meat.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 50, Oven Baked Chicken Fingers

After a late shopping day, I had to make something quick the kids would eat. Fortunately I can thaw chicken out fairly quickly.

Oven Baked Chicken Fingers

1 pound boneless skinless chicken
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp garlic powder
pepper to taste, approx 1/2 tsp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix bread crumbs, garlic powder and pepper. Place in a gallon sized sealable bag. Cut chicken into strips 1 inch thick; place in bag with bread crumbs. Shake bag until chicken is well coated. Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with dip of your choice.

Serves 4

I cut up a couple of apples and gave the kids carmel dip to go with those. Had I had some cucumbers I would have cut those up and given the kids some dippable veggies too. Tonight was a dipping night. The chicken we still had to use forks to eat them, but having them in strips allowed for less cooking time than they would have needed if they would have been whole.

Flavor Rating: Great, I like garlic but I wish I could have made them crispier.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, just shake and bake.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 49, Pan Fried Fish

After eating out all weekend, it was time to make dinner again. I'm actually surprised at how much I've been able to eat out this month. I asked my husband- chicken or fish? His choice was fish. We don't have fish too often as I am scared to overcook them, but it turned out pretty well today.

Pan Fried Fish

4 Tilapia Fillets
1 cup fish fry seasoning
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Rinse thawed fish and shake off excess water. Place fillets one at a time into seasoning, flip over and coat thoroughly. Place coated fish into heated oil 2 at a time, cooking for 3-4 minutes a side, until coating is golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork. Repeat with second two fillets. Place cooked fish on a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess grease. Serve warm.

Serves 4

Garlic Seasoned Potatoes

5-6 medium potatoes, scrubbed clean and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cubed potatoes and onion in a lined 10x8 inch baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes; add seasonings evenly over potatoes. Mix to coat evenly. Cover with additional tin foil and bake for 45 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Serves 6

I don't normally make fish, but I think I did fairly well in frying them without burning them. I'm always worried that they won't be cooked through. Fish doesn't take long to cook plus these were only a half inch thick. They turned out crispy but not overcooked.
I have made potatoes in this fashion with the Lipton soup mixes, but since I read the label and found msg on it, I decided to try my own mixture of seasonings so I had control over the taste without having tons of additives. Oven baking them allows them to be healthier than if I were to pan fry them too. I usually add lots of butter when I throw them in a frying pan.

Flavor Rating: Good, I would have liked some more seasonings on the fish. The kind I picked up was just corn meal.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, be sure your pan is heated before adding the fish so it turns out crispy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 48, Papa Murphy Pizza

Since I went out today and wasn't sure when I was going to be home, I didn't pull anything out to thaw. The boys were up for pizza and Papa Murphy's is a good choice for us. It's always hot because we get to bake it. I like it better than frozen pizza.
I haven't eaten at a pizza place that cooks it for me in a while, but if I can find a pizza place that still uses good ingredients and cooks it in an actual pizza oven in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities I'll have to try there. I haven't had a really good pizza oven baked pizza in years. If anyone knows of one, feel free to comment on the choice you like.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 47, Take-out

Today I was suffering a migraine most of the day, so I just had my husband and his brother run across the street to get some chicken in a bucket. I didn't take a picture today, you know what KFC chicken looks like. I had the new baked chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits. The kids asked for mac n cheese and my husband got the cornbread biscuits. My brother in law got some hot wings and potato wedges. We were all set with what we each like to eat.

I'm not sure if I will be cooking tomorrow as I plan on going out to the Mall of America for much of the day. Monday will be home made cooking again.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 46, Biscuits and Pork Gravy

I had some new bake from home biscuits and wanted to try them. I also have never made pork gravy before, so today was an experiment. Fortunately the end result turned out well.

Biscuits and Pork Gravy

1 pound ground pork sausage
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
ground pepper to taste

Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove browned sausage to a large bowl, leaving the drippings in the skillet.
Combine flour with drippings and stir constantly until golden brown.
Gradually whisk milk into flour mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add sausage and pepper to gravy and simmer an additional 2-4 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat, mixture will continue to thicken while it cools.
Serve over biscuits of your choice.

Serves 6-8

I had issues making the flour be a thickener rather than lumps. The recipe I took this from wanted me to use 3 tbsp of bacon grease, but I didn't have any. I added the first 2 cups of milk, then removed the lumps to a small metal strainer and pressed it through the holes into the milk mixture. Then I added the 3rd cup of milk and simmered until it was the consistency I wanted. It turned out good in the end, but wasn't the way I thought it should have been made. I suppose I just need to work at making rues for my gravies. Don't forget to continue stirring the milk while it's cooking or it will burn.

Flavor Rating: Excellent, this was a really good gravy.

Ease of Preparation: Hard, between not burning the flour or making lumps and not burning the milk, it keeps you on your toes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 45, Mac n Cheese with Hot Dogs

Today I had only one kid to feed, so I made something I knew he'd eat most of. He ate the hot dogs anyhow. I suppose if I didn't put the broccoli in, he'd have eaten the mac n cheese too.

Mac N Cheese with Hot Dogs and Broccoli

A box of your favorite mac n cheese
3-4 hot dogs, cut up
1 cup broccoli

Cook everything according to packaging. Mix together and serve.

Serves 3-4

This is a good one if you just have to feed little kids, although I don't think my son liked my putting broccoli in with it. For some reason I had just my son to feed, so I didn't put tons of effort into dinner. I used natural casing beef wieners. I think that they're tastier than the cheap stuff because of the seasonings that are put in them.

Flavor Rating: OK, it's not my favorite way to eat hot dogs, nor am I a hot dog person.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, I boiled everything in the same pot.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 44, Baked Ziti

Although this is similar to lasagna, it is different enough to be it's own recipe. This doesn't have meat while lasagnas generally have meat in it's layers. I didn't have Ziti noodles so I substituted Penne noodles. They are similar in shape and I was able to get the penne noodles in whole wheat.

Three Cheese Baked Ziti

1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (16 oz) package Ziti pasta, cooked and drained
1 (26 oz) jar pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs and Parmesan cheese; set aside.
In the pot you cooked your noodles, combine noodles and sauce.
Line a 13 x 9 inch baking dish; spoon 1/2 the pasta mixture; evenly top with the cheese mixture, then remaining pasta mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until heated through. If desired, serve with additional sauce.

Serves 10

I found this through Ragu and made it pretty much the way the original recipe said. I lined the baking dish for easier cleanup although the original recipe didn't say to. I just don't like having to wash dishes and anything to make cleanup easier makes my life easier.

Flavor Rating: Great, I like the ricotta mixture better in this baked ziti than in a lasagna.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, I can't find a recipe that's much easier.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 43, Eating out at Costco

Today we ended up being out a little longer than I expected, so we ended up having dinner at Costco. Dinner for the kids and I cost less than $5, but they ate their ice cream more than their hot dog. I had a Sausage and we had water with the hot dogs because of having had pop with lunch already. I'm working on leftovers from yesterday as a late snack. Tomorrow will be something hot at home.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 42, Seafood Salad

This is a colorful pasta salad that my husband loves and we end up eating within a couple of days. I have brought it to work functions and is good for picnics.

Seafood Salad

1 box tri-color rotini noodles
2 packets dry italian seasoning
vegetables of your choice:
sweet peppers
green onions
14 oz seafood of choice, imitation crab, salad shrimp

In a large pot cook noodles to al dente, cool. Mix one packet italian seasoning according to instructions, adding 1/4 cup more vinegar. Pour over noodles. Add chopped vegetables and seafood. Mix second dressing according to packaging and pour over salad, mixing thoroughly.

Serves 10

This can be made the night before. You can omit the seafood for a vegetarian meal or if someone is allergic to seafood. My husband loves having this dish and requests it often. I always use olive oil for the dressing, it tastes better and is healthier for you. I gained this recipe originally from my mother, but I have changed it up a bit from the original and enjoy it better the way I make it.

Flavor Rating: Great, I like the vegetable mix that is listed.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, it's a lot of chopping though.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 41, Orange Glazed Pork Chops

Yep, pork chops again, but it's a different glaze today. I'm still going strong with different dinners. It's starting to get harder to think up different things, but I know I'll be able to do it for another week. I am trying to plan out each week before it comes so I don't have to stress about it that day. It makes it easier to have the week planned out. If you don't have a lot of time to cook dinners, plan them out on the weekend and do some of the cooking on the weekend.

Orange Glazed Pork Chops

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound boneless pork chops, cut 1 inch think
2/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lower sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cold water
1 tsp cornstarch

Heat oil to medium heat in a large frying pan. Dry pork chops with a paper towel before frying them. Cook pork chops for 5-7 minutes per side until cooked through; remove from skillet.
Add to warm skillet orange juice, soy sauce and brown sugar. Boil for 2 minutes stirring to incorporate sugar and brown bits from bottom of pan. In a small cup, mix together cold water and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Add to sauce and continue to cook about one minute more until thickened. Return pork to skillet and flip to cover with glaze.
Serve each chop with additional glaze spooned over top.

Serves 4

I thought I had orange juice the other day, but found out that it was not true. I went shopping yesterday and got some more so I could try out this recipe that I wanted to do the other day. I like to browse for new recipes and that is where I found the original recipe. Their version called for white sugar, but I decided to use brown sugar instead. I'm not sure if it would have tasted better with white sugar, but I have always like the combination of brown sugar with oranges. I even will cut up oranges and spread butter and brown sugar on toast as a dessert.

Flavor Rating: Great, the husband liked it better than the honey mustard pork we had the other day.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, cooking with oil can cause splatters, I used a lid to help keep the heat in to help cook the pork faster.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 40, Hamburgers

I didn't know what I wanted to make today and asked the family what we were having. The consensus was hamburgers.


1 pound lean ground beef
2 tbsp A1 sauce
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, kneading until consistency is the same. Press into bowl and divide into 4 equal parts. Form into patties, pressing a divot in the center. Cook in a large frying pan at medium heat for 5-7 minutes a side. Do not press the burgers during the cooking process or you will lose the moisture.
During the last minute, you can add a slice of cheese if desired and cover to let the cheese melt.
Place on a bun or bread and top with desired condiments; lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, mustard, pickles and/or mayonnaise.

Serves 4

I've seen some recipes that call for bread crumbs, but since I'm making a burger and not meatloaf, I don't like breadcrumbs in my recipe. The burger comes out moist with just the sauce and the egg. I used 93/7 meat for the desired leanness, there is a leaner meat sold in the store I shop, but I wanted a little fat to keep my burger moist. It's much harder to make a good burger with a fattier gorund beef, it tends to fall apart easier.

Flavor Rating: Great, I love A1 sauce and mixing it in gives the burger a good smoky flavor.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, it took me years to figure out how to cook the burger without burning it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 39, Honey Mustard Pork Chops

I was going to do an orange reduction for my pork chops thinking I still had orange juice in my refrigerator, but looked and saw no orange juice, so I had to improvise and ended up with a honey mustard glaze.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops, cut 1 inch thick
1/2 cup honey mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp water

Combine honey mustard, honey and water in a small bowl. Place pork chops in a resealable baggie and pour mustard mixture over chops. Place in fridge for at least 1 hour. Place in a baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Serves 4

I like spicy mustards when I'm cooking. I've never been partial to the yellow mustard. Had I looked and been prepared for dinner tonight, I would have had all the ingredients I needed. I suppose I should actually plan out the meals for the rest of the week so I'm not throwing something together at the last minute. This is an easy meal because the oven takes care of everything, you don't have to worry about being splattered by grease from frying, but if you want a fried effect, mix a tbsp of olive oil into the marinade instead of the water and sear the chops on each side before sticking them into the oven.

Flavor Rating: Good, I have done better honey mustard mixes before. I should have mixed some water into the marinade to begin with, but I didn't.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, I check a chop by cutting it through to see if it's done.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 38, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

It's going to be a long soup season. Soup makes everything feel warmer on a chilly day. This may seem similar to my Chicken Noodle soup because I used similar spices, but I tried a couple of new ones too.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 bag baby cut carrots, cut into bite sized pieces, about 1 cup
1 cup peas
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth (2 boxes worth)
1/2 cup wild rice

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. In a soup pot, cook on medium until cooked through. Add vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Add all spices except bay leaves. Add broth, bring to a boil. Add wild rice, bring back up to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Add bay leaves. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until vegetables are tender and rice is cooked. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serves 8

I like wild rice, but there aren't that many things to do with it. It can be used in soups or as a side. I'm a fan of home made chicken soup, I've never cared for canned soup. I plan on trying to do onion soup one of these days, but I haven't figured out how to properly caramelize the onions yet. I do not use any oil when cooking this because the chicken breasts are quite moist when I throw them in the pot. I always thaw them in warm water just before I cook them. I know all the professional chefs would reprimand me for that, but I'm cooking them within 15 minutes of taking them out of the freezer.

Flavor Rating: Great, the spice combination tasted really good today.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, cooking the vegetables before boiling everything gives it a better taste.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 37, Meatloaf

I had a new spice packet to use for my meatloaf tonight. It's interesting to try new things, but I think I'll be sticking to my old way of making meatloaf next time.

1 pound hamburger
1 McCormick meatloaf spice packet
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix bread crumbs, milk, egg, onion and spice packet together. Let set for a minute until bread crumbs have absorbed the moisture. Knead hamburger into mixture until thoroughly blended. Form meat into a loaf on tinfoil that has been poked with small holes to allow the fat to drip off of loaf. Set on a pan with a raised insert to allow for the fat to drip off. Form a boat with the tinfoil. Bake for an hour. Check the center at an hour to see if done, if not bake for up to an additional 15 minutes.

Serves 6

I made potatoes with this dish, but I baked them in the oven also. I washed the skins then poked holes in them. I wrapped them in tinfoil and set in a baking pan then cooked for a little over an hour. The spice packet I chose to use with this didn't taste as good as some recipes I ahve used in the past. I think the version I used just onions and A1 steak sauce with it tasted the best so far. This is the first time I've formed the loaf then cooked it on tinfoil instead of stuffing it into a bread pan and cooked it. I like baking it this way instead because it's not cooking in it's own fat the whole time, but it still turned out very moist because of letting the bread crumbs soak up the milk.

Flavor Rating: OK, the spice packet didn't thrill me, but it was still edible.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, you'll get messy. Take off your rings before thrusting your hands into the hamburger.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 36, BBQ Chicken Calzones

This was made because I love the combination of BBQ chicken and pizza. Papa Murphy's makes this combination as a seasonal pizza, but seeing that this is the wrong season for me to have one of my favorite pizzas I had to make it myself.

BBQ Chicken Calzones

1 box Jiffy pizza mix
1/2 cup hot water
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
3-4 tbsp barbecue sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice, I used Colby jack
1/4 cup red onion, sliced

Cut chicken into thin strips. Cook in a large frying pan 4-7 minutes, until no longer pink. Add barbecue sauce to chicken and mix to coat. Prepare Jiffy pizza crust as specified on packaging. Do not pre-cook crust. Cut crust into 4 equal portions. Form into ovals; add chicken, onions and cheese on one half of each oval. Fold crust over toppings and fold edges up over themselves. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 425 degrees F.

Serves 4

I use KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce. I have tried many different ones and find this one to be my favorite. I didn't have flour to knead the crust with today so I used Bisquick. I think it altered the taste a little bit, but when in a pinch, it works. I like making these into little calzones because they can be put into the fridge and reheated the next day for lunch like a Hot Pocket.

Flavor Rating: Good, the filling was great, but the crust was from an old box.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate, if you haven't made crust before, it can be a little tricky.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 35, Chili

Today was another day of wanting to get warm. Spicy chili does the trick.

Spicy Hamburger Chili

1 pound hamburger
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can or 1 cup dry soaked kidney beans, drained
1 can chili ready diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 packet McCormick lower sodium chili mix

Brown hamburger and cook onions in a large frying pan; drain and rinse. Add hamburger mixture, kidney beans, seasoning packet and tomatoes in a medium slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serves 6-8

This was a spicy mixture. If you don't like your chili too spicy either omit the spice packet or use plain tomatoes. I like slow cooking my chili to let the flavors mingle. The longer the flavors sit together, the better they taste. This is good with garlic bread as pictured or with corn bread. Corn bread would have been my first choice to go with it, but I didn't have a box of Jiffy mix sitting around today. I think I finally hit on a good chili today; sometimes I add too many beans, other times I've not had enough spices. Using the spice packet helps me so I don't have to measure out specific spices.

Flavor Rating: Great, a filling mix that warms you on a chilly day.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, I even had onions chopped up from the other day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 34, Honey Mustard Chicken

This was a completely new glaze for my chicken today. I've done honey mustard on my pork, but not my chicken. I also tried a new steamer vegetable and come up disappointed in the amount of vegetables in the bag.

Honey Mustard Glazed Chicken

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
McCormic honey mustard chicken glaze mix
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup honey

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces; place into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Mix seasoning, water and honey in a small bowl until well blended. Pour over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

Serves 4

The side I made was a half box of whole wheat rotini noodles mixed with a bag of Green Giant broccoli and cheese. The vegetables were supposed to feed 3, but it looked more like 2 servings to me which is why I mixed them in with the noodles. I would just make a bigger portion of broccoli with Velveeta or Cheese Whiz to melt over the cheese next time.

Flavor Rating: Good, I enjoyed the chicken, but was disappointed by the broccoli.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, you could make the chicken breasts whole if you prefer, but I find it easier to cut them up before cooking because I have little kids.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 33, Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

With it being so cold today (the high was -5 on my computer app) I wanted to bake in the oven. I had a turkey loaf available, so I used it.

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

1 turkey loaf, prepared as on packaging
1 packet turkey gravy mix
6 slices bread, toasted

Prepare turkey loaf as directed on package, approximately 2 hours. Remove from oven, open package and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove loaf from packaging and place on a plate. Cut into thin slices.
Prepare gravy mix according to packaging, add gravy from turkey loaf to extra gravy.
Toast bread and place a few slices on toast. Cover with gravy.

Serves 6

You could use leftover turkey or deli meat turkey for this recipe. This is a great after Thanksgiving meal, just use leftover turkey and gravy. I served baby sweet corn with my meal, but any hot vegetable is good with it. I used to be able to find boil-in-bag turkey slices, but I think that was discontinued years ago. I like this warm sandwich for a cold day, even if I have to eat it with a fork.

Flavor Rating: Great, I like extra gravy.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, watch the gravy so it doesn't get burned.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 32, Breakfast Burritos

I had to use up the other pepper I had in the fridge and I always have eggs in the fridge. This is a budget friendly meal. You could even have fruit and yogurt with this if you want.

Breakfast Burritos

6 flour or whole wheat tortillas
1 sweet pepper, cut into slices
6 eggs
2 tbsp bacon pieces
6 slices American cheese
non-stick spray
1 tbsp butter

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Cook peppers for 4-6 minutes, flipping once for even cooking. Remove peppers to a bowl. In a medium bowl, beat eggs then add bacon pieces. Respray frying pan and add butter for flavor. Add eggs and scramble; to scramble, let sit in heated pan for a minute then gently fold until eggs are cooked through. Flip if necessary. Remove from heat. Heat tortillas according to directions on packaging, approximately 10-20 seconds in the microwave. Add 3-4 slices of peppers in center of tortilla; add egg mixture divided equally between tortillas; fold cheese in half and place on top of eggs. Fold tortillas into burritos; fold one side over, fold end over the first fold, then fold opposite side from first fold over to cover. If mixture becomes cool while putting the burritos together, place in the microwave for 5-10 seconds per burrito.

Serves 4-6

This is a good thing to make for heat and eat meals. They can be premade then frozen for quick breakfasts. You can make them with sausage instead of bacon. Onions can be added too, either slice them or dice them and cook with the peppers. Yogurt and fruit would be good sides to go with this meal. If only it wasn't so cold today, my apartment is having a hard time staying warm and the egg mixture went cold quickly.

Flavor Rating: Good, I forgot to make them with onions and I like onions.

Ease of Preparation: Easy, the peppers need to be watched because they can go from well done to burned quickly.