Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 12: Zucchini Brownies

It's the final day of the baking challenge and I think I've gained 5 pounds!  :(

Seriously, I've been dying to try to use more zucchini in all sweet things, so here's my first attempt at zucchini brownies!  These were SO moist!  I thought that they would be more cakey from the reviews, but I feel like they were really fudgey (happiness for me).  The zucchini taste is more prevalent in these than even in zucchini bread, so take that into account if you attempt this recipe.  I LOVE zucchini, so I think they are delicious.  Are they my idea of the perfect brownie?  No, I can't say that.  But, as a Zucchini Brownie, they are absolutely fabulous! 


Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies (adapted from Skinny Chef)

Ingredients:

5 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped & melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cups all-purpose flour or oat flour, plus 1 tablespoon for flouring the pan
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, (about 1 large zucchini)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 8×8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with the one tablespoon of flour. Shake the pan until the flour evenly coats the inside of the pan. Place chocolate in microwave (30 seconds to 1 minute) until melted. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, egg whites, sugar, vanilla and melted chocolate until well blended. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Fold in the zucchini and nuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-45 minutes depending on your oven, until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the pan (Mine took almost 45 minutes, but I'd start checking at 30 minutes). Cool completely in the pan and cut into squares. Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Yields 12 brownies.  (Printable recipe)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 11: Outrageous Brownies Revisited

I can't do the '12 Days of Baking' without making this brownie recipe!  I had to make brownies for Annabelle's holiday party and this recipe makes a ton of brownies, so it seemed the obvious choice!  It's baked in a jelly roll pan, so I usually get at least 40 large brownies.  These are SO rich that they almost taste like fudge to me.  I guess I am a fan of the fudgey brownie.  I went through a period in high school where I couldn't get enough of the cake-like brownies, but I have obviously come to my senses and joined the land of fudge-like brownie fans!



Annabelle brought a few packages of these brownies to her 1st and 2nd grade teachers (in addition to her current 3rd grade teacher) this morning.  She told me that when she brought the brownies to her 1st grade teacher, she actually jumped up and down and ran to give her a hug!   Annabelle was thrilled with her response!  ;)

Here's a link to my earlier post on these amazing brownies by Ina Garten.


Day 10: Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a recipe from my sweet SIL, Mary!  She found this recipe on Real Simple a few years back and it's a great standard cookie to make for any occasion!  We always find ourselves making chocolate chip cookies, but it's a special treat to get chocolate-chocolate chip cookies!  I made these today and I had to hide them to save them for teacher gifts!


I've altered the recipe a little.  For some reason the texture of this batter was very dry the last few times I made them, so I added an extra egg to the batter and it seemed to fix my problem.  I've added the extra egg the last 2 times I've made the cookies and they are delectable!  These cookies come out of the oven soft and fluffy every time!  The great thing is that they are still light and fluffy the next day!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from Real Simple)


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup dark-chocolate chips
    1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    Directions:
  • Heat oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Lower to medium speed and add the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. On low speed, add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Beat until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. 
  •  
  • Form the dough into approximately 1 1/2-inch balls. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake until the centers are just set, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.





Day 9: Cracked Sugar Cookies

I'm surprised that I have been running out of things to put on this blog, but I found this recipe from an old cookbook that I got in high school as a gift from my Mom.  I've been baking from it for many years.  I used to make these cookies in high school and they are yummy and super-easy to make!  I'm baking for holiday parties for both Annabelle and Emilie tomorrow.  Of course, there's also teacher gifts, so I have plenty to fill up the few days that I've missed posting on this blog!  ;)


I like making these cookies because it's a sugar cookie, but it's a lot easier than making the rolled out cookies.  It's fun for the kids to watch these crack while they are cooking in the oven and they taste heavenly when they are warm!  The cookies are buttery and delicious!


Cracked Sugar Cookies
(Adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.  Add flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Stir.  Form dough into walnut size balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Don't flatten. 

Bake 10 to 11 minutes, until tops are cracked and just turning color.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 8 - Beatty's Chocolate Cake Revisited

I know that I just posted about this cake a few weeks ago, but I couldn't help making it again when my pregnant SIL claimed she was hungry for cake yesterday.  I asked her how she felt about mocha chocolate cake and she was thrilled with the prospect of meeting her cake and coffee craving at one time! 


Just as with the baked oatmeal this morning, I replaced milk with coconut milk so that Alain could enjoy the cake.  I was surprised that I barely noticed a difference in the taste of the cake.  It's supposed to be buttermilk, so I added a bit of lemon juice to the coconut milk and it caused it to thicken just as regular milk does when I add lemon juice to replace buttermilk.  

Here's the recipe from my blog: Beatty's Chocolate Cake


Week 37

Tonight was a big meal with family and friends to greet Josh and Mary (my BIL & SIL) visiting from Oregon!  We had a ham with a few fixings and a mocha chocolate cake for dessert.  This ham is amazing!  I use Alton Brown's recipe for City Ham and it turns out so tender and sweet!  It has mustard, dark brown sugar, bourbon and gingersnaps!  It's strange because the recipe calls for an 'uncooked' ham and it's incredibly difficult to find a ham that isn't smoked or precooked in some way!  At the third grocery store, we finally got lucky! 


I thought it would be great to make a ham since we have so many house guests because I assumed we'd have leftovers to eat throughout the week.  However, we invited 16 people over for dinner and barely have enough left for one meal tomorrow.  I wouldn't have it any other way since we had a blast tonight, but it is ironic.  


Here's the menu for the week:

Sunday - City ham, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, corn casserole
Monday - Seared salmon, roasted cauliflower and carrots, yellow rice
Tuesday -Chicken alla Padulese, pasta, seared asparagus, mixed greens salad
Wednesday - Shrimp scampi, roasted potatoes, broccoli
Thursday - Beef with soy sauce & ginger, blanched spinach, mixed roasted veggies
Friday - My birthday!  I'm not cooking. . .   ;)
Saturday - Assorted appetizers TBD

Happy Cooking!  I'd love to hear what you're cooking for the holiday!  Post your menu and tell us about it!

Sarah

Day 7 - Baked Oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is such a comfort food when it's cold outside!  I've never been a big oatmeal fan, but I ate some of this 7 or 8 years ago at a retreat with some friends and I was amazed at how delicious it was!  I tried for a year to get the recipe from the woman who made it, but she could never remember to send it to me.  After a thorough recipe search online and collaboration with my friend, Jeannie, I finally found the perfect baked oatmeal recipe!


My BIL and SIL are visiting from Oregon, so the kids and I served them breakfast in bed this morning with baked oatmeal and a glass of orange juice!  The time change is always hard for them, so I wanted to make sure that they had something worth waking up to eat.

This recipe usually calls for milk, but I substituted coconut milk and didn't notice a difference at all.  I wanted my hubby to be able to eat breakfast with us, but he's allergic to milk.  There's a ton of butter, but that doesn't seem to have as strong an impact as milk.  Typically, you add a little milk and fruit into this oatmeal when it's warm for a great way to start the day. . .

Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups milk (or coconut milk)
2 eggs
1 tbls. vanilla
2 1/2 cups quick or old fashioned oats
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbls. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
Cinnamon sugar for topping

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream brown sugar and butter together in medium bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add milk slowly.

Combine oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in large bowl.  Add wet ingredients to dry in the large bowl.  Mix well.  Pour into 8x8 greased pan.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top of the oatmeal. 

Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly firm to touch in the middle. 

Note - I always double this recipe for a 9x12 because it goes quickly!  This is a great recipe for Christmas morning because you can bake it the night before and just heat up individual bowls as everyone gets hungry!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 6: Three Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can't believe I haven't done a post about these cookies yet, but they are my second favorite cookie next to snickerdoodles!  First place for my favorite goes back and forth between the two depending on my mood and taste buds.  I've been making these cookies for a few years, but I actually didn't follow the recipe the first time I made them.  It was one of those serendipitous mistakes and I couldn't get enough of the cookies. 

They are very moist and cakey, so they appear fluffier than most chocolate chip cookies.  My friend Jeannie was with me at a cookie exchange when I first made them and it's begun an obsession with both of us for these cookies.  Her kids actually refer to the cookies as 'Ms. Sarah Cookies.'  It took my family only a year or so to realize the 'awsomeness' of these cookies, but I've finally got them all hooked!  ;)



This recipe is adapted from a Paula Deen recipe, but I originally forgot to add the white sugar that the recipe called for and I replaced the shortening with butter (I always do that since I'm not a fan of shortening), so I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Three Chocolate Cookies (adapted from Paula Deen's recipe)


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup dark, bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup Heath chocolate toffee bits (found with chocolate chips in baking isle)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets. 

With an electric mixer, beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.


In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in chocolate and Heath toffee bits. Drop cookies by 1/4 cupfuls about 3-inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yields almost 3 dozen for me, but only 2 dozen if I make them really big.  

Day 5: Acorn Squash Muffins

These muffins define comfort food in my world.  I, literally, make them at least once a week and I make them with either fresh pumpkin (when available) or acorn squash.  The hubby and I have gotten so accustomed to the taste of the acorn squash that we don't usually bother trying the pumpkin.  This recipe is based on a pumpkin bread recipe from Alton Brown, but I've altered it a little bit with a recipe that I've used since middle school for zucchini bread. 


I actually wanted to make something new today, so I first made a recipe for pumpkin apple muffins.  I saw great reviews and I made a few changes (applesauce instead of oil and cut back the sugar), but they turned out 'blah.'  So, knowing that my kids would prefer to eat the yummy acorn squash chocolate chip muffins, I made a batch of these this morning.  I'm glad I branched out to try a new recipe, but it obviously needs a little tweaking to be up to par with my very favorite muffins.

Here's the recipe for the good muffins!

Acorn Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins (slightly adapted from Alton Brown's Pumpkin Bread)

Ingredients:
2 c. white whole wheat or all purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1/2 c. applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 cups shredded fresh pumpkin (can substitute zucchini, acorn squash (my fav.) or any other squash)
1/2 bag mini-chocolate chips (I usually mix mini with dark chocolate chips)
Cinnamon-sugar (optional for tops of muffins)

Directions:
Set oven to 350 F.  Sift dry ingredients into small bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients with the wet in large bowl (don't over mix - so use a large spoon), and then fold in shredded pumpkin.  The amount can be as little as 1 1/2 cups of shredded pumpkin to 3 cups, but I think it tastes best with 3 cups (that's half a shredded acorn squash).  Add chocolate chips until just incorporated.  Grease muffin tins liberally and fill cups just to the top (I use a 1/4 cup to scoop it).  Sprinkle tops of muffins with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Should yield 12-15 muffins. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 4: Oreo Truffles

If you've never tasted an Oreo truffle, I advise you to print out this recipe and go get all of the ingredients to make them right away!  They are the most amazing way to enjoy Oreos on the face of this planet!  I'm not the biggest fan of plain Oreos because they are dry cookies that seem to crumble as soon as you put them to your mouth (I pray that I haven't offended too many people by that comment).  However, I just prefer a fluffy, moist cookie, so this truffle is perfect! 

Almost forgot to take a picture of these treats!  It's an awful picture, but they disappeared quickly!
I think that I first tasted these treats at a birthday party at my neighbor's house.  She called them chocolate balls and I was in love, but they are very rich, so I really did try to limit myself from eating all of them in one sitting.  It's hard to believe how easy these Oreo truffles are to make because they look so fancy and it really appears as if you've slaved in your kitchen to produce this perfectly decadent candy. 

There are many ways to enjoy Oreo truffles.  Some prefer to coat them in semi-sweet or dark chocolate (my preference), while others use melted white chocolate to coat the candy.  Some just drizzle white chocolate over the dark, some sprinkle Oreo crumbs, coconut or peppermint onto the outside of the candy.  It's totally up to you to make them your own, but I promise that a tray of these truffles will make you an instant hit at any party!  Enjoy!

Oreo Truffles

Ingredients:
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 package Oreo cookies (pulverized in the food processor and divided)
16 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate

Directions:

Mix cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.
Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator. 

 I'd love to see some of your favorite holiday recipes!  Please post them on Facebook or on this blog!  Happy cooking!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 3: Snickerdoodles

These are some of my all-time favorite cookies!  I can't begin to tell you how much I love these cookies.  I've been making them since high school, but I'm not even the least bit tired of them yet.  My youngest, Zach, can't quite say 'snickerdoodle,' so he proudly calls them 'cinnamon cookies.'  I don't bake a lot of cookies in my house, but if I find myself making any cookies throughout the year, snickerdoodles are one of the top 2 options. 

 

They are best described (in my mind) as clouds of happiness rolled around in cinnamon-sugar.  These cookies are so moist and buttery and they are incredibly addictive.  My kids had way too many when they came out of the oven, but that's clearly when all cookies are the most flavorful.  Right?



I didn't bother to look to much into the history of these cookies.  So, let's focus on the basics. . . they are delightful to eat and even more fun to say. . .

Snickerdoodles (adapted from Emeril Lagassee's recipe)

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

With a handheld or standing mixer, beat the butter. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (I often substitute brown sugar for 1 cup of the white sugar). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Flatten the balls into 1/2-inch thick disks, spacing them evenly on unlined cookie sheets. Bake until light brown, but still moist in the center, about 9-10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 2: Chocolate-Hazelnut Kisses

Yummy is the best word I have to describe these cookies!  I've been wanting to make these cookies since I saw them made on Food Network a few years ago!  They remind me of peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's kiss on top, but they are much better since I'm not a peanut butter fan. 


These cookies are amazing!  Many of the reviews warned about overcooking them and I found that to be true as well.  My first batch was a bit overcooked, but the second batch was cooked 2 minutes less and actually tasted much more strongly of nutella.  They were thin, but very chewy and moist even after a few hours of cooling.  I will definitely make these cookies again!  My kids love nutella, so the fact that these cookies contained nutella made them very excited to try them!  I think Annabelle (my 8-year-old) snuck at least 5 cookies while I wasn't looking and then found herself with a stomach ache tonight!  ;)


I altered the recipe a little bit based on materials I had on hand and personal preference and I think that you should run out and make a batch of these if you have some nutella on hand in your pantry.  I think that the best way to top these cookies might be with a thin layer of chocolate ganache and maybe some toasted, chopped up hazelnuts. 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Kisses (adapted from Giada de Laurentis, here)

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9-ounce) package of chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped (I used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 


In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.  In another medium bowl, place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.


Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

Enjoy and I'll catch you tomorrow!

Sarah

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 1: Russian Tea Cakes

On the first day of Christmas, my true love baked for me. . . 12 Russian tea cakes!  Well, I actually baked them for my true love, but that's another story.  My kids usually refer to these cookies as 'snowball' cookies since that's exactly what they look like and I more often make them when it's cold than when it's hot outside. 



I really didn't start baking these cookies until about a year ago.  I'd always liked them at parties, but just never thought to try a recipe.  What a shame I haven't been making these for years because they are so super-easy! Here's a photo of my sweet snowman cookie jar!  He gets so lonely up in the attic all year, that I feel guilty if I don't keep a constant supply of goodies inside his tummy! 

Here's a little history courtesy of wikipedia on these famous cookies.  Russian tea cakes appeared in Russia in the 18th century as a sweet cookie used in a tea-sharing ceremony. By the 20th century, they became part of wedding and Christmas traditions in the U.S..  They were still known by their popular "Russian tea" name during this time.  Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Bizcochitos (the official cookie of the State of New Mexico), are similar except that they have the addition of anise.  Many cultures have a similar cookie. In Spain, they are called Mantecosos.


I just adapted the recipe from Betty Crocker, here.  This recipe seems to be similar wherever I look online.  I noticed that a lot of people mix peppermint into the dough or even coconut, but I'm a minimalist with this cookie.  I love the simplicity of it and I love them to be undercooked.  I cook them for about 8 minutes in my oven for that heavenly soft texture! 

Russian Tea Cakes

Ingredients:
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose or white whole wheat (my choice)
3/4 cup finely ground chopped nuts (I used walnuts or almonds usually)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in large bowl.  Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough comes together.  Shape dough into 1-inch cookie balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes.  Cookies should not be brown on the top, but just set.  Move the cookies to a wire rack and cool slightly.  Roll cookies around in the powdered sugar and then return to cook on wire rack.  Once cookies have completely cooled, roll in the powdered sugar one last time for that perfect 'snowball' look. 

This made almost 3 dozen cookies.  It's hard to say now because quite a few of them have already disappeared. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Week 36: 12 Days of Baking. . .

Well, I've seen a few blogs take on 12 days of eating, baking, cookies and any other thing, and it sounds like fun to me!  So, I'm going to be very general and call it '12 Days of Baking' so that I can be creatively free to try all sorts of goodies to share.  It's a busy time of year, but I love to bake and I'm always overwhelmed with the need to keep my special snowman cookie jar full during the month of December!

I'll have to warn you that there are a few ingredients that won't be included in this 'bake-a-thon.'  I don't cook anything with peanut butter (just a personal preference) and I'm trying to avoid dairy so that my hubby can eat the goodies.  It's very likely that I will make a few things with milk or butter, but I'll do my best because he has a newly discovered milk allergy.


So, we have a lot of family coming into town and upcoming traveling.  I anticipate that I will not post a menu on Christmas day, but I'm betting none of you will either.  ;)

Here's the menu for this coming week:

Sunday - Costco rotisserie chicken, green beans, white rice
Monday - Beef w/soy sauce and ginger, blanched spinach, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes
Tuesday - Chicken tacos, yellow rice, black beans
Wednesday - Chicken & broccoli stir fry, white rice
Thursday - Shrimp fra diavolo, angel hair pasta, roasted cauliflower (can't live without it for one week)
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out to eat

Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but my kids devour the beef with soy sauce and ginger with blanched spinach.  We've tried it with kale and they love it just as much!  My oldest will only eat steak this way since she's recently discovered that the red stuff that comes out of meat is actually blood.  ;)

Happy cooking everyone!  Can't wait to see your menus!

Sarah

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 35

I've missed this blog and I've missed cooking! So sorry to stay away, but with traveling and personal illness, I've been unable to get to my blogging!  I am feeling better now and here to stay for a few weeks!  I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your families!  We had a great time in Knoxville, TN with family and friends!

We celebrated this year with a bunch of neighbors, so I only had to make a chocolate trifle!  It's a favorite at our house and here's the picture!



I know that December is going to fly right by for most of us, but let's do our best to get our weekly menu plans full of healthy meals so that we can splurge a little on all of the goodies we'll be surrounded by this month! 

Here's the menu for this week:

Sunday - Thai Chicken Soup, tacos for kids (with leftover chicken that I boiled), white rice, black beans
Monday - Seared salmon, roasted asparagus and carrots, white rice
Tuesday - Spaghetti with meat sauce, pasta (or zucchini noodles), steamed broccoli
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Chicken thighs & legs in Bride's Mole*, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower
Friday - Thai basil shrimp, white rice, seared cabbage
Saturday - Out to dinner?


*Bride's Mole is not on that website, but that was the closest recipe I found online.  I'll try to put in on this blog since I think I'm making it for Christmas this year. 

Happy cooking this week to everyone!  I'd love to see some of those menus (even if it's mac-n-cheese and pizza)!  Bring it on!

Sarah

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 34 - Baking buzz. . .

I'm not sure if any of you experience this "baking buzz" that I mentioned in the title, but I feel it every year around this time.  It's like I'm anticipating all of the yummy baked goodies that I am going to bake over the holidays.  I started baking during the summer between 6th and 7th grades when we moved from Chicago to Florida.  I didn't know anyone when we moved, so I started baking to pass the time.  I gained a few pounds in middle school thanks to my "boredom," but I also gained a wonderful passion for baking and cooking.  The pounds came off eventually when I was a starving college student. . .   ;)


Zach's 3rd 'Cars' birthday cake!
We celebrated my youngest, Zach's, birthday this weekend with a little party, so I made him this cute little 'Cars' cake!  He was so excited that the whole day was focused entirely on 'Cars.'  My attempt at a billboard sign for his birthday message was a bit of a mess, but it was a graham cracker with a granola bar split in half as the base.  I had to use lots of frosting to keep the granola bars together.  

Onto the weekly menu. . . My hubby has asked that I try to incorporate a new soup into the menu each week because he's been craving soups lately, so I'll do my best to find some good 'Paleo' soups to meet his dietary requirements.  I'm sure some of you remember that 'Paleo' entails no dairy, no legumes and no grains, but everything else is fair-game with lots of lean meats, veggies and fruits. 

Sunday - Roasted salmon with mixed veggies, yellow rice
Monday - Thai chicken in the crock pot (Paleo), shredded cabbage, steamed broccoli
Tuesday - Chili Verde (didn't get to this last week. . . I'm looking forward to it in the crock pot)
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Fajita burgers, roasted sweet potatoes & potatoes, green beans
Friday - Out to dinner
Saturday - Pork roast with red curry sauce, white rice, roasted asparagus

Happy cooking, everyone!  Hope to see some menus soon!

Sarah

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 33: A Little Slow. . .

Our family went into slow motion this weekend.  Annabelle and I went on an overnight adventure at the Chattanooga Aquarium with the Girl Scouts!  We slept underneath the sharks!  It was so much fun, but left me exhausted for the rest of the weekend and I don't feel like I've caught up on sleep yet. 

The whole crew after feeding the river otters!
We celebrated Zach's 3rd birthday yesterday!  It's so 'cliche,' but the time really does pass by so quickly!  He was so excited to get his gifts from a few of us last night that he wanted to bring all of his gifts up to bed with him!  He's so adorable!  :)

Now, back to the focus on food. . . We have a light menu plan this week since we have family coming into town this coming weekend for Zach's party.  I'll make the most of the menu and can't wait to see what you all are cooking!

Menu Plan
Sunday - London broil on the grill, grilled peppers & onions and roasted cauliflower
Monday - Spaghetti with marinara sauce, broccoli, zucchini noodles and french bread
Tuesday - Thai basil shrimp, stir-fried cabbage, red peppers and white rice
Wednesday - Crock pot chicken for tacos, white rice, black beans, green beans
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Baked Salmon with mixed roasted veggies
Saturday - Out for dinner

I'm planning on doing quite a bit of baking over the next few months, so recipes might be heavy on the baking side rather than the entrees.  Hope to see your menus this week!

Thanks for sharing and happy cooking!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week 32 - Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!

It is a bit crazy around the house today just from the anticipation of Halloween and all of the candy they will gather tonight!  I can't imagine what the kids are going to be doing after they actually eat some of the candy! 
The Gypsy, the Bride, Jasmine and Nemo!
Now, we can get onto our weekly menu planning!  Halloween was so much fun for the kids and for the adults too!  Our whole cul-de-sac went trick-or-treating together, so it was 9 kids at a time at each house.  They swarmed on each door like a pack of bees!


Below you'll find a photo of our family's favorite veggie right now.  I think my youngest Zach might be the only one who is impervious to this yummy delicacy.  Annabelle and Emilie finally understand that roasted cauliflower is one of the most delicious side dishes EVER!  It only took my making it once a week for a few months before I actually converted them.  Now, they eat it like popcorn!


For the menu this week, here it is:

Sunday - Whole Rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower, steamed green beans, white rice
Monday - Pizza with neighbors
Tuesday - Chicken tacos, black beans, white rice
Wednesday - Baked salmon, mixed roasted veggies and potatoes
Thursday - Chili Verde, yellow rice, roasted carrots
Friday - Out of town
Saturday - Leftovers

I hope you all have a great week!  Happy cooking, everyone!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Cake

Ok, here's the recipe that I've been dying to share with you for a totally delicious, can't-wait-to-eat-another-bite chocolate cake.  This is an Ina Garten recipe called 'Beatty's Cake,' but I wanted to title this post with a better descriptive title for the cake.  I made it a few weeks ago when we were celebrating multiple birthdays for coffee lovers and I didn't realize how much I would love it. 


I've found that this cake (as is the case for all cakes) is very sensitive to cooking.  I made it the first time and it was perfectly cooked, moist and I even thought a little underdone until I tasted it.  I made it into cupcakes earlier this week and I way overcooked them!  So sad, but the frosting made up for it and not one was left in the teacher's lounge.  I made the round cake again last night and it came out moist and delicious!  I'm definitely better at timing the round cake pans than the cupcakes.  ;o)

Beatty's Cake  (adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients:
  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or AP) plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar (1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup white)
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken (as a substitute, I use whole milk with 1 tsp. of vinegar and let it sit 10 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup oil (olive, vegetable or whatever you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in the pans for 30 minutes (mind your oven as mine are done right around 24 minutes), then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (I prefer dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (I'm a lazy cook and will always use the microwave for this).  Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 31

Another rough week around here for menu planning since we've had guests strolling in and out of our home, but I'm back to my menu this week!  We had a wonderful time visiting with family.  My BIL came to visit from Oregon and brought a whole suitcase full of Oregon beer!  It was amazing to watch him open all of the carefully wrapped beer bottles in bubble wrap and his half gallon growler.  The beer world is a bit of a mystery to me (since I really don't prefer drinking it), but I find that I'm learning a lot just by listening to the "science" of creating and enjoying beer. 

One of our neighbors invited us over for a Pumpkin Carving party yesterday and it was a blast.  Here's a cute photo of one of our 'star' pumpkins!



I made this really delicious cake this week as we celebrated birthdays for those who came to visit this past week.  There are a lot of Fall birthdays in my family!  I'll try to make it again soon so I can post a photo of it, but it's an Ina Garten recipe called "Beatty's Cake."  It is chocolate coffee heaven and it's seriously the moistest (I know it's not a word, but I'm at a loss for a more appropriate word) cake I've ever made!  Can't wait to share it with you all!

Here's the menu for this week:
Sunday - Thai basil shrimp with red peppers and cabbage, white rice
Monday - Beef Stroganoff, egg noodles, broccoli
Tuesday - Baked marinated salmon with roasted Normandy veggies (super easy - salmon comes marinated from Costco and veggies are a frozen mix)
Wednesday - Grilled chicken legs, roasted potatoes (sweet & white), pan-seared asparagus
Thursday - Chicken Mole, roasted cauliflower and carrots, rice
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out to dinner

Happy Cooking to everyone!  Post your menus!

Sarah


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Outrageous Brownies

This is a recipe from Ina Garten.  I love, love, love these brownies, but I actually got this recipe from a cookbook my mom gave me in Middle School, Called 'Country Desserts,' by Lee Bailey.  Most recipe blogs I've found have this listed this recipe as a basis for the definition of a brownie.  Not all agree, but I find that they are rich with a delicate texture.  If you add the espresso powder it really sends them over the edge, but I haven't had any of that in my pantry for a few months now.  The teachers at Annabelle and Emilie's school request these for special events.  Be prepared that this batter makes a huge amount of brownies!  I hope that you enjoy!



Outrageous Brownies by Ina Garten

Ingredients:
1 pound butter (4 sticks)
1 pound plus 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 large eggs
2 tbls. plus 1 1/2 tsp. powdered instant espresso powder
2 tbls. vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat and it tastes great)
1 tbls. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 cups chopped (or ground) walnut pieces

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 12 x 18-inch jelly roll pan.  Set aside.

Melt together the butter, pound of chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate until smooth in the top of a double boiler.  Cool to room temperature.

Combine, but do not whisk, the eggs, powdered espresso, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix into the batter.  Finally, fold in the remaining chocolate chips and the walnuts.  Pour into the greased pan.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester just comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  Cool thoroughly and cut into squares.

Makes 20.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 30

Hello Everyone!

It's taken me awhile to get focused and recover after the consignment sale fundraiser!  We made lot of money for MOPS and it was a really great week.  So, now I am back to planning meals again. . .

I had the most wonderful morning!  Alain had the day off since he is a government contractor and Zach had school today, so the hubby and I took advantage of the morning without any kids and had ourselves a breakfast date!  We went to one of my favorite french bakeries in Atlanta, Douceur de France.  I ate the most amazing eggs benedict on top of french bread and followed it with a decadent almond croissant.  The photo below is Alain's decadent dessert, Hazelnut something. . .


I guess I should get onto the menu planning, so here's what my week looks like.  I can't wait to see your menus!

Sunday - Fajita burgers, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli
Monday - Thai basil shrimp, white rice, cabbage, red peppers, green beans
Tuesday - Thai coconut chicken soup (we'll see how the kids like this), roasted cauliflower and carrots
Wednesday - Salad nicoise, potatoes, asparagus, and whatever else I can find to add. . .
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Steak with sauteed onions, black beans, white rice, artichokes with vinaigrette
Saturday - Out to dinner

Happy cooking to everyone!  Have a great week!  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 29 - Fall is Coming!

Well, I'm happy to say that the temperature is definitely starting to lower here in the South!  We're waking up to 50's and 60's in the morning and that is a pleasant, cherished gift.  The days are still pretty warm, but the cooler mornings and evenings make it all worthwhile. . .



I actually skipped last week if you can believe that!  Things were crazy around our house with something planned almost every night of the week and that left me little time to plan meals unfortunately.  This week is going to be a little less stressful, but next week will be off the charts.  I organize a children's consignment sale for my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and that begins next weekend and continues for 6 days.  It's going to be an amazing week, but it's a ton of work.  I will be living, breathing and eating the consignment sale during that week and not cooking at all.  ;)

As we focus on this week, here's what I'm cooking!  I'll probably add some more sides at the last minute depending on what I have on hand.  Can't wait to see your menus!

Sunday - Rotisserie chicken, broccoli, homemade french fries
Monday - Pork tenderloin, asparagus
Tuesday - Beefsteak with seared onions, black beans, white rice, roasted zucchini
Wednesday - Seared salmon with Emeril seasoning (my kids' favorite), roasted cauliflower
Thursday -Thai basil shrimp, white rice, cabbage, red peppers
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Spaghetti with meat sauce (zucchini noodles for adults), broccoli

Happy Cooking everyone!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 28

Summer is officially over with the Labor Day holiday behind us and I'm amazed that it really brought cooler weather to Atlanta!  We had the remnants of that Tropical Storm head through town this weekend, so we've had rain, tornadoes and lots of wet leaves everywhere!  It really looks like Autumn is here now.  Fortunately, we were not affected by any tornadoes, but we did hear the sirens going off for a warning last night! 

We had our first ever cul-de-sac dinner on Labor Day! It was such a great time and my wonderful neighbor, Gerard, led the way by teaching me to make coq au vin.  So, we cooked the main course and rice, but the rest of the neighbors filled in with sides and desserts!  It was so much fun to have everyone together over a nice meal. 

Alain and I also got to go whitewater rafting this weekend with our friends from New York!  That was a blast and I'm still sore!  It's been a busy weekend and that's my excuse for not getting the menu posted before today.  I'll just start the menu from today and go through Sunday.
White Water rafting the Ocoee River!
 Here's this week's menu:
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Turkey chili, salad
Thursday - Salad nicoise with salmon, potatoes and veggies
Friday - Grilled chicken, roasted cauliflower and carrots
Saturday - Turkey tacos, black beans, rice, seared zucchini
Sunday - Out to dinner

Happy cooking everyone! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 27

I've been buying jalepenos like wildfire lately!  I used to always hesitate to put them in salsa and guacamole, but they are normally not very spicy when the veins and seeds are removed.  In my opinion, they just make everything taste better.  We're growing habaneros in our cul-de-sac garden this year and those plants produce a ton of peppers!  How anyone could use that many habaneros is beyond me, but my neighbor is trying to make sure that not one of them goes to waste by making lots of hot sauce.  I'll stick to my jalapenos and serranos thank you very much!


We have friends coming into town over Labor Day weekend, so it should be a light week on our menu as I clean and prepare for the fun. 

This week's menu:
Sunday - Pizza
Monday - Ground turkey tacos, black beans
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Grilled salmon, roasted veggies, white rice (for kids)
Thursday - Thai basil shrimp, leftover rice
Friday - Out to Dinner
Saturday - Barbecued ribs (beef & pork),
Sunday - Out to Dinner?

This is an unusual week for us since it looks like we're not actually eating at home very much.  We have Open House this week for the girls, Orientation meeting for Zach's preschool, I have a consignment sale meeting and our friends come into town on Friday!  I can't wait!

Have a great week!

I'm looking forward to reading your menus!

Sarah

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 26

So, last week was a total wash!  I don't think I cooked anything I put on my menu if you can believe that!  I ate all of the meat and veggies, but just chose to cook them differently than my menu.  I'm sure you all have those weeks.  Before this blog, I didn't even usually even have a menu!  That's the biggest reason for doing the blog. . . so that I will continue to keep menu planning.  It's much less stressful to have a menu planned, but then decide to change it than it is to have no menu at all.  

Salmon with carrot, zucchini saute and steamed broccoli! 


I'm really enjoying reading your menus!  Only a few people posted last week, but I was very late in putting the blog post up, so I'm hoping to get a better response this week!

Here's the menu:

Sunday - Out to Dinner
Monday - Red sauce with ground turkey, angel hair pasta, zucchini noodles*, roasted asparagus
Tuesday - Chicken stir fry with cabbage and asparagus, white rice
Wednesday - Seared salmon, roasted cauliflower and carrots, couscous
Thursday - Grilled chicken legs, roasted sweet potatoes/white potatoes, broccoli
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Shrimp scampi with lime, roast veggie medley, white rice

*I've mentioned the zucchini noodles before , but I wanted to explain exactly what we do around here to accommodate my husband and his Paleo ways.  I make a pot of pasta for the kids, but I peel a zucchini or two (depending on the size) and I throw away the outside peel.  Then, I keep using the peeler and make long, thin noodle like strips of zucchini and I blanch them quickly in the water after I take the pasta out.  Now, this wouldn't work for a pure gluten-free diet since I'm re-using the water, but it's fine for us and I don't have to wait for the water to re-boil.  I usually just drop them in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes and plate them.  I think that they are delicious and I eat them every time rather than noodles now. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 25

Forgive me for getting this out quite late, but it's been a busy week around our house.  School started on Monday for Annabelle (3rd Grade) and Emilie (Kindergarten), I was sick this weekend and the consignment sale I help organize opened up registration on Monday!  That last one was the kicker for me as we had some last minute computer glitches to work through, but all is well now and I'm back to my menu!  Here's a link to the website for our sale if you're interested:  www.cccmopssale.com.



My girls adore their teachers, but little Zach is missing his playmates at home.  He doesn't start school until September, so he's going to take awhile to adjust to the changes.  So, for those of you boo-hooing (or woot-wooting) this week as your kids go back to school, I hear you.  It's a big change!

So, let's get on to the menu:

Sunday - Thai Chicken stir fry creation (dual effort from myself and my neighbor, Chris)
Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Salmon, roasted cauliflower & carrots, couscous
Wednesday - Baked chicken, asparagus
Thursday - Turkey burgers, roasted sweet potatoes, artichokes
Friday - Out to Dinner
Saturday - Shrimp tacos, black beans, yellow rice

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week 24

I must say that I've been a bit indulgent about desserts this weekend. . . I made an apple cake on Friday night and a batch of fudgey brownies tonight!  Just irresistible! 



Next week is the last week before school starts for both of my big girls!  Emilie is going to Kindergarten and Annabelle into third grade.  They get to meet their teachers on Thursday and I think we're all looking forward to getting back into the routine of school.  Zach is going to be seriously lonely without his sisters to play with and taunt.  :(

So, here's the menu for this week.  I have to go shopping for sides, so I'll just stick to the main courses:

Sunday - Fish tacos, black beans, white rice, seared bell pepper and onions
Monday - Meatloaf
Tuesday - Baked Chicken with veggies
Wednesday - Turkey burgers
Thursday - Seared Salmon with Emeril seasoning
Friday - Spaghetti with meat sauce, zucchini noodles (Paleo)
Saturday - Chicken tacos

Happy cooking everyone!  Can't wait to see your menus this week!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thai Basil Shrimp

I make this recipe on a weekly basis and it's Annabelle's standard for shrimp, so I thought it was time to post the recipe.  Annabelle is my picky eater (she's the first, so I'm sure that's my fault).  My mom claims she gets it from me, so I know that she'll grow out of it.  However, it took me 21 years to grow out of it. We'll see how she does. . .



Thai Basil Shrimp (Adapted from 365: No Repeats by Rachel Ray)

Ingredients:
4 tbls. canola oil or olive oil

1/2 head of cabbage, core removed, shredded finely
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
salt and coarse ground pepper
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (or grated if you prefer)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup low-sodium tamari (aged soy sauce)
3 tbls. honey
20 fresh basil leaves, torn or shredded


Directions:
1. Saute the red peppers and cabbage with olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan on med-high until soft and fragrant.  
2. While the veggies are cooking, clean and dry shrimp, then season with salt and pepper.  Remove the veggies to a plate and 2 tablespoons of oil and add shrimp in a single layer.  You don't want shrimp all on top of one another, but they should have their own space to come into contact with the hot pan.  You want to get a good sear on the shrimp to get the best flavor. For medium size shrimp, I flip them when they just start to turn pink (1-2 minutes), then cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes more.  Now bring the red peppers and cabbage back to the pan.  Add the tamari and honey to form a sauce to glaze the veggies and shrimp.  Throw in the basil and you're done!

Oh man, I love shrimp!  This is right after they are initially seared!

Note - I usually serve this with white rice for the kiddos and I, but Alain uses romaine leaves and puts the concoction in the middle of the leaves like tacos so that he can consider this meal fully Paleo.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 23 Menu

Hello there Everyone!  I've missed this blog, but we are finally back from our month-long vacation across the country.  We had such an amazing time, ate wonderful food and gained a few pounds too.  I'm off to work out early in the morning to try to combat the few pounds I've added to my waistline.  Check out the blog from our trip if you want to read about our Nicolet family adventures!    www.nicoletfamily.blogspot.com

That's me and the kids under North Window Arch at Arches N. P. in Utah!
We stayed at 4 different houses along our way, so I've missed cooking.  I was able to cook at my friend, Lauren's, house and also at Jeannie's house.  However, I'm craving some food from my Mexican cook book and Alain is really anxious to get back on his Paleo Diet.  I think I can meet all of his dietary needs in my cookbook.

For those of you who don't know, the Paleo diet is all about lots of lean meat, veggies and fruits. They don't recommend dairy, legumes or wheat.  A few of these (dairy and wheat) are common allergies and there's lots of scientific studies showing that people have serious health problems for years as a result of these allergies.  Often, the reaction inside your body can destroy organs and cause severe damage if not treated early,  I have no problem getting rid of dairy, but I have a problem with getting rid of wheat.  I'm not able to totally cut it out right now, but I'm definitely making an effort to provide all whole wheat and lowering fat and sugar in my baking.

Now, for this week's menu:
Sunday - Roasted pork loin, seared cabbage and seared asparagus
Monday - Chicken thighs with dry chili rub, mixed green salad, roasted cauliflower
Tuesday - Thai basil shrimp, cabbage, red peppers
Wednesday - Meatloaf, roasted sweet potatoes/white potatoes, broccoli
Thursday - Seared salmon (with Emeril seasoning), roasted carrots, yellow rice
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out to Dinner

I'm looking forward to seeing some menus this week!

Happy Cooking everyone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have to share this recipe!  I will eventually start sharing more entree recipes, but I must say that desserts are so much fun to make.  I'm really enjoying my attempt at making desserts and sweet breads a little more on the healthy side.  I've made this recipe 3 times in the last 2 weeks, so I hope that you enjoy them!  You'll find that I like muffins and cakes to have a very smooth texture, so I always finely ground nuts and oats to get a smooth, moist texture.  However, that's totally my preference and I'm sure they will taste wonderful if you change the recipe to suite your family's liking.  :)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins


Ingredients
1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats (ground in food processor if desired)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (also finely ground in food processor)
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                                       1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions
1. Combine oats and milk and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease each cup of one 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Stir egg, applesauce, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of the walnuts into the oat and milk mixture.
3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add oat mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Fill each cup of one 12-cup muffin tin 2/3 full.                                                                                              4. Combine remaining brown sugar and ground walnuts with cinnamon in small bowl.  Sprinkle tops with the remaining brown sugar and pecans.
5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 18-20 minutes. 
Recipe adapted from All Recipes.com.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week 22 - Not much cooking. . .

Well, there's not too much cooking going on this week as we are about to head out on a cross-country adventure!  However, I wanted to go ahead and post for this week to try to keep you motivated to menu plan.  I most likely will not be posting menu plans for the next month, but I'll try to post recipes and pics of yummy food that we eat along the way.  We're taking a family road trip to Nebraska, Colorado and California and we'll be gone for the whole month of July!  My hubby is working remotely while we're on the road and we'll be staying with friends along the way and ending at a family reunion on Alain's side in California!  We are SO excited!  Here's a map of the USA.  I wanted to insert a Google map of our journey, but ran out of time. 



Here's my attempt at a menu for this week:
Sunday - Garlic shrimp with lime
Monday - Chicken stir fry with mushrooms, broccoli and white rice
Tuesday - Out to dinner
Wednesday - Cheese tortellini with tomato sauce
Thursday - Pizza
Friday - On the road (out to dinner)
Saturday - On the road (out to dinner)

Happy cooking to Everyone!  I'd love to see your menus for this week!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week 21

Big birthday bash for both girls is over and done!  It was so much fun!  We missed a few people who couldn't make it, but overall is was a wonderful party!  My girls are getting so big (8 and 5)!  The time really does fly by way too fast! 

Here's a picture of our sweet chickens!  We've never actually named them, but we just fondly call them "the girls."  We started with 6 babies, 1 died as a chick, 2 grew into roosters and the last one was eaten by a coyote or possum.  These "girls" are survivors and they are munching on some leftovers in this shot.  Zach loves to get the eggs and bring them in.  He's fascinated by them.  I never imagined (in my wildest dreams) that I'd ever own chickens, but my hubby can be quite convincing. . .


So, we got to go to Aurelio's one more time last night and I must say it was delicious!  I got to share it with my FIL, my BIL and his girlfriend as well as my mom!  They all seemed to really like the pizza.  I overate, so I now know that I need to pace myself with pizza.  I've recently come to the conclusion that dairy and I don't get along well.  I've never really liked milk, but always loved ice cream and cheese.  Recently, I noticed that I struggled with serious sinus problems after eating ice cream and I've noticed a huge difference in the amount of sinus issues I have now that I don't eat it anymore.  I've been hesitant about cutting off all forms of dairy (since cheese is a wonderful gift), but last night made me think that I just have to watch the amount of cheese that I take in at one time. 

So, here's the menu for this week:
Sunday - Father's Day (Grilled Mahi-Mahi, roasted potatoes, green beans, asparagus)
Monday - Chicken tacos, black beans, white rice, zucchini
Tuesday - Mini Meatloaves (I cook them in muffin tins or mini loaf pans), roasted veggies
Wednesday - Tomato sauce with spaghetti (zucchini noodles for adults)
Thursday - Chicken breasts with walnut pesto
Friday - Fajita burgers
Saturday - Out to Dinner

I'd love to see what you all are cooking!  Post your menus in response!  It's encouraging to everyone if you share!  ;)

Happy cooking to all!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 20

We are expecting a crowd this weekend because we are celebrating both Annabelle and Emilie's birthdays with family on Saturday!  Annabelle's birthday is in early June and Emilie's in in early July, so it's going to be easier to have everyone come just once to visit to celebrate both girls!  Our house will be full (which we love) and there's be lots of people here to spoil the kids and a few to do the dishes too.  ;)



So, here's my menu for this week:
Sunday - Grilled salmon, roasted cauliflower and yellow squash
Monday - Mahi-Mahi, black beans, broccoli
Tuesday - Mexican beef (picture above served in "Paleo" style)
Wednesday - Baked chicken
Thursday - Thai Shrimp
Friday - Brats and grilled food
Saturday - Aurelio's Pizza!

Have a great week!  Happy Cooking!