Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 52: Baking Again. . .

It turns out I'm a total sucker when my kids want to bake with me!  I have no self-control and I can't help but say 'yes' to all reasonable offers.  So, Zach wanted to bake snicker doodles on Friday after lunch and we had a wonderful time.  He's getting really good at measuring out the flour and sugar, leveling it off and even cracking the eggs.  Alain's taught him to crack the eggs, but we still open the egg and dump it in the bowl.  For 3 1/2, I think he's doing very well.  He still can't say the whole word, but he said, "Mommy, can I help you make snicker cookies?"  I feel like I honestly had no choice.  ;)

Vermont Honey Wheat Bread - Recipe to be posted!

Weekly Menu #52

Sunday - Grilled mahi-mahi, grilled asparagus, yellow rice
Monday - Mexican beef, black beans, rice, steamed green beans
Tuesday - Something with shrimp. . .
Wednesday - Out to eat
Thursday - Marinated chicken (seared), steamed broccoli, wild rice
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Grilled salmon, roasted cauliflower and potatoes

Have a great week!  I would love to see some menus this week!  ;)


Friday, April 27, 2012

White Chicken Chili

It seems that every year when the weather starts to warm up, I crave stews and chili again!  Not sure what the explanation for that might be, but I'd be curious to know if any of you have the same cravings.  ;)

So, this isn't a dish that I usually make because it has beans (and they are a no-no in Paleo).  However, I had a MOPS meeting this week and I thought this would be a great meal to bring to church for the meeting.  I can throw it in the crock pot and that travels well in the car.  And, I get to eat something for dinner that my hubby can't eat!  Score!  

I rushed to take this picture before I finished off the last bowl of chili, so it's not such a great photo.  Nevertheless, it makes me hungry just looking at it for that chili again!  I hope you all get a chance to try this recipe!  It's really pretty easy and when you use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, it doesn't take too long to whip this up!  

White Chicken Chili (printable version)
Adapted from The Neely's on the Food Network - recipe

3 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans
1 tablespoon canola oil (or whatever you prefer - I use olive or coconut oil)
1 medium jalapeƱo pepper, minced
2 medium poblano peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 limes, juiced, plus lime wedges, for serving
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Sour cream, for topping (optional)
Tortilla chips, coarsely crushed, for topping (optional)
Drain and rinse the canned white beans. In a medium bowl, mash one can of the beans with a potato masher until chunky. Reserve the beans until needed.

Add the oil to a large Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and continue to saute for 1 more minute to toast the spices. Stir in the chicken stock, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.

After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary. Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and lime wedges.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Red Wine Beef Stew with Green Beans

This is seriously an amazing beef stew!  It takes a little time to make it, but it's well worth the time.  I've been making this for a few years after I saw it on Food Network with Dave Lieberman.  My mom told me a few months ago that she found a great beef stew recipe that I "had to try," so I was thrilled that it was the same recipe I've been making for years.  We obviously have amazing taste in stews!

I made this recipe yesterday and bought a loaf of multi-grain french bread from Publix.  I ate a little bit of the bread with a sandwich for lunch and a half an hour later the whole loaf was gone.  Mysterious. . . until I questioned my husband about the location of the missing bread.  Not a surprise that he ate the whole thing (despite his Paleo diet discouraging wheat-based foods).  My mistake for not telling him that I was saving it, but I really wanted bread with the stew.  You know what I mean?  It's almost as if beef stew belongs with a loaf of good bread.  I didn't have time to go to the store with Zach's nap, so I threw a batch of whole wheat bread in my mixer.  It's probably better that the family had homemade bread anyway.  I guess I should thank my hubby!  ;)

Red Wine Beef Stew with Potatoes and Green Beans (printable version)

2 pounds beef chuck for stew, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
4 medium carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 small onions, diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans reduced-sodium beef or chicken broth
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
2 handfuls green beans, ends trimmed

Season the beef cubes lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy 6-quart pot over medium heat. As soon as the butter starts to turn brown, add half the beef and raise the heat to high. At first, the beef will give off some liquid, but once that evaporates, the beef will start to brown. Cook, turning the beef cubes on all sides until the pieces are as evenly browned as possible, about 5 or 6 minutes after the water has boiled off. If the pan starts to get too brown at any point, just turn down the heat a little. Scoop the beef into a bowl and brown the rest of the beef the same way using the remaining butter.

Scoop out the second batch of beef, then add the carrots and onions and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour until it has been worked into the veggies and you can’t see it any more. Pour in the chicken broth, wine, and crushed tomatoes, and toss in the rosemary. Slide the beef back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil.

Turn down the heat so the liquid is just breaking a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook 50 minutes. Stir the stew several times while simmering so it cooks evenly and nothing sticks to the bottom.

Stir the potatoes into the stew, cover the pot completely, and cook until the potatoes and beef are tender, stirring occasionally, about another 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes until the green beans turn bright green and are cooked through but still have a nice snap to them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

I'm not really sure how many of you have attempted homemade cinnamon rolls, but I can tell you that they are worth every moment of time spent in the kitchen!  It's not actually that hard to make them, but it's just a bit of a waiting game (just like making any bread).  I'm not as hard-core as some, so I use my Kitchenaid mixer or a bread machine to make the dough.  Lately, I've taken to my Kitchenaid because I don't have to lug it down out of the really tall cabinet.  In case you don't know me personally, I can tell you that I'm 'vertically challenged' and I really detest dragging stools out to get things down from tall shelves.  If it's too high up, it's likely I won't be using it!

I LOVE cinnamon rolls!  But, I'm not a fan of the cream cheese frosting.  I know. . . I know.  Some of you may live for the sweet delicacy of cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls, but I prefer this coffee based glaze that Alain's Aunt Jocelyne uses on her perfect cinnamon rolls.  She's the inspiration for making this recipe and it's mostly her recipe.  I had to change one or two things just to get them to taste right.  Not sure why they never seemed to come out right when I followed her recipe, but I assume it has to do with the fact that I use a mixer for assistance and I'm not in California.  ;)

Cinnamon Rolls (printable version)

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups All-Purpose or Bread flour
1 tbls. plus 2 tsp. yeast

1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 tbls. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown or white sugar (brown is my preference, but it works fine either way)
1/4 cup raisins (optional - my kids don't prefer these)
1/4 cup walnuts (I prefer these crushed finely)

3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbls. melted butter
2 tbls. maple syrup
2 tbls. coffee

Rolls Directions:
1. Place milk, water and butter in microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute.  It's fine if the butter isn't completely melted.
2. If using a bread machine, load ingredients into the machine based on manufacturer's instructions.  If using a Kitchenaid mixer, place the eggs in and mix using the flat beater.  Add sugar and salt, then slowly mix in the heated milk/water/butter mixture.
4. Add flour and yeast.  Once the dough comes together (just a minute or 2) switch to the bread hook (I lightly oil it all over) and continue mixing on medium for 8 minutes.
5. Take dough out of the bowl and knead a few times on the counter.  Oil the bowl and put dough back in to rise for 30 minutes with a towel over the bowl.
6.  When dough has doubled in size, take it out and knead briefly on lightly floured surface.  With a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll out dough to 12 x 18 rectangle.

Filling Directions:
1. Brush melted butter evenly all over dough.  It will look almost like it's pooling in some places, but that's fine because it's going to absorb all of the wonderful yumminess that you are about to top it with.  Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over dough, followed by the sugar, raisins and walnuts.
2. Begin rolling the dough from the center on the bottom and carefully roll out on either side, then begin in the center again and roll out to each side, making sure that the roll is even.  Once the entire piece of dough is rolled up, attempt to pinch the dough to form a seal.
3. Cut the dough in the middle of the roll, then cut it in the middle of each half (you now have quarters).  Now, you'll need to cut the dough twice on each quarter so that you're left with 12 cinnamon rolls.  Lay them in a greased 9x12 or jelly roll pan to rise for 30 minutes with a towel over the rolls.
4. After rolls have doubled in size, place to bake in the oven for 325 degrees for 7-10 minutes.  Rolls should be slightly browned on the top.

Glaze Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  I usually add 1-2 tablespoons of extra coffee if the mixture appears to thick.  However, it will be thick since the hot cinnamon rolls will melt the glaze a bit.
2. Glaze cinnamon rolls immediately after the come out of the oven and enjoy!

Yield - 12 servings

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week 51: Coconut Crazy!

The smell of toasted coconut makes me so happy.  I'm not sure why, but it instantly brings a smile to my face.  I've been on a bit of a coconut kick this week and I concluded it by making coconut cupcakes with 7-minute frosting tonight!

I will share the recipe, but I need to make it one more time because I think I overcooked the cake a bit.  Don't get me wrong, I gobbled them up and shared them with my neighbors, but I want to see if they taste better when I don't overcook them.  ;)

Weekly Menu 51:

Sunday - Grilled chicken legs, roasted cauliflower, steamed green beans
Monday - Beef stew (did not get to this last week)
Tuesday - Out for pizza
Wednesday - Roasted salmon and mixed veggies
Thursday - Thai basil shrimp, cabbage, white rice
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Burgers, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli

Happy cooking, everyone!  I hope to see some menus soon!  Remember, no judgement here. . . we welcome all menu contents from mac-n-cheese to beef stew!  :)


Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 50: Camping. . .

Guess where we spent the weekend?  Well, I can tell you that we've had a fun weekend of camping and I'm still recovering from the lack of sleep.  I spent the weekend camping with my girls and our Girl Scout Troop in covered wagons at the Rock Ranch while Alain spent the weekend camping with Zach and our neighbors up at Lake Allatoona!  I never knew that sleeping in covered wagons should be on my 'bucket list,' but I can definitely check it off now!
Annabelle and 2 of her Brownie friends!
Each covered wagon had 4 sets of bunk beds.  I lead the Daisy troop (K-1st graders), so we had 5 girls in our wagon and 3 moms.  The girls were up giggling, reading books and coloring until 11pm!  Our whole troop attended this campout, so we had 44 girls and moms!  It was quite a sight, but I can tell you that those girls had an amazing time and I think that the moms did too!

It's back to reality now and I was just too tired on Sunday to think about putting a menu together!  Thanks to my sweet hubby for buying a rotisserie chicken for dinner!

Week 50 Menu

Sunday - Rotisserie chicken, green beans, roasted potatoes
Monday - Beef with soy sauce and ginger, steamed spinach, roasted carrots and asparagus, yellow rice
Tuesday - Shrimp scampi with lime, white rice, roasted cauliflower and broccoli
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday -  Beef stew with green beans, salad
Friday - Out to dinner
Saturday - Burgers, roasted sweet potatoes and potatoes, steamed green beans

Happy cooking to everyone!

Have a great week!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 49

Starting a little late again, but I'm looking forward to cooking this week!  The kids had Spring Break last week, we caught that nasty stomach bug, and we traveled to Knoxville, so I am ready to get back into our routine again!

Chicken Tacos with pico de gallo!

We planned on having my sister, niece and neighbor over for dinner to celebrate Easter, but the stomach bug threw that idea out the window.  So, we opted for EASY food.  Alain grilled and that always makes me happy!

Weekly Menu #49

Sunday - Grilled, marinated chicken breasts, grilled asparagus, wild rice
Monday - Sirloin pork roast, roasted cauliflower, potatoes and onions (all on one pan)
Tuesday - Roasted salmon with mixed veggies
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Shrimp something. . . ;)
Friday - Chicken tacos, black beans, white rice, cabbage slaw
Saturday - Out to dinner

Happy cooking to all of you this week!  Make it fun!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Week 48: Steamed Artichokes!

Oh, how I love steamed artichokes!  I don't think I ever ate a steamed artichoke before I met my husband. Seriously. . . he served artichokes to me for the first time at a dinner where I met his dad.  I was 'schooled' on proper eating techniques by my husband, his dad and his younger brother!  As a bit of background, my FIL is from France, so many of the family traditions my husband grew up with are based on his father's French heritage.  So, they love artichokes and there is a very specific way that they eat them.  The Nicolet's always eat them with vinaigrette (rather than butter as some prefer), a community plate for the eaten leaves and then they perfectly chip away the choke with a knife and then chop up bite-sized pieces of the heart and sink them into the vinaigrette! The heart is the best part!  Last night, my hubby got a 30-minute phone call just as I was just about to put the heart in the vinaigrette, so I got to eat it all to myself!  ;)

If you've never tried to cook artichokes at home, I beg you to try them!  They take awhile to steam, so we usually eat them as an appetizer or dessert!  Here's a link with more detail about how to properly eat an artichoke.

Weekly Menu #48

Sunday - Ground beef tacos, black beans, white rice, steamed artichokes
Monday - Sirloin pork roast, steamed broccoli, leftover rice
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Out to dinner
Thursday - Grilled salmon, roasted sweet potatoes and potatoes, grilled asparagus
Friday - Red Sauce with ground beef, zucchini noodles, angle hair pasta, steamed green beans
Saturday - Mahi-Mahi, roasted cauliflower and carrots, yellow rice

Happy Cooking to all of you!  Hope to see some menus this week!

Sirloin Pork Roast

This is my new favorite way to eat pork!  We don't actually eat a great deal of pork in our home.  It might be because I wasn't really raised eating a lot of it or maybe I just haven't found enough recipes to make pork my go-to evening meal, but I crave this recipe every week!  Lately, I like to roast it and add veggies on the cookie sheet after 30 minutes of cookies!  It's great with cauliflower, carrots, potatoes and onions.  Whatever you have around the house and it makes this a really easy one-dish meal!

My hubby picks these pork sirloin steaks up from Costco.  They are cheaper than pork tenderloin, but just as tender and there's barely any fat!  I usually make 2 at a time so that we can truly appreciate the leftovers.  So delicious. . . 

Sirloin Pork Roast  (adapted from

1 1/4 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for searing roast)
1 (3 pound) sirloin tip roast

1. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme. 
2. Stir in the olive oil, and allow the mixture to sit about 15 minutes.
3. Place a medium-sized skillet on med-high.  Add a bit of oil (maybe 2 tbls.) to the pan and sear all sides of the roast before moving onto the next step.  It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to sear the roast on all sides.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
5. Place the roast on the prepared baking sheet, and cover on all sides with the spice mixture.
6. Roast 1 hour in the preheated oven, or to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). Let sit 15 minutes before slicing.