Monday, March 28, 2011

Food Finds II

A few more food finds - that I've been using forever... so much so that I forgot they are "food finds" just b/c I've known about them for years doesn't mean you do! First up - Kirkland Cibo Naturals Fresh Basil Pesto. I divide this up into 1.2 cup Rubbermaid containers and freeze to use whenever dinner needs a little brightning up! Next - Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes (Julienne Cut). I buy the 2lb size. I divide about half the bottle of julienne cut tomatoes into these neato Rubbermaid 1.2 cup size containers. The cool thing about these containers is that they have screw on lids - so you know it has a good seal. Then, I take the other half of the tomatoes and use my immersion blender to blend them up and divide them between the same 1.2 cup containers. I put one of each the julienned and blended containers in my fridge and the rest go in the freezer. They only take a couple of hours to defrost in the freezer to be used. I use them for appetizers and for most anything I use tomatoes in - marinara sauce, lasagna, stuffed chicken, etc. I like to make my own breads - but I don't always have time. That is where these babies come in. Le Petit Francais Baguettes. I buy them in the frozen foods isle in a box of 10. Each pack has 2 baguettes. You get them out of your freezer and thaw them on your counter for 15 minutes. Then cook at 400 degrees for 8 minutes - what could be easier? Oh - AND they are fat and sugar free:)
Hummus. Yummus. This is my favorite kind. I often add a bit more pine nuts to it - b/c I love a bite.
There you go!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baked Macaroni

I had a hankering for a good decadent macaroni. I've tried a bunch of different recipes from Ina Garten's Gourmet Macaroni to Velveeta's macaroni. This is my go to... made up in my head... Baked Macaroni
4 c Tillamook cheddar, shredded (divided)
2 c Dubliners Irish white cheddar, shredded
4 c milk
6 T butter
1/2 c flour
1 lb pasta
salt & pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Warm milk in the microwave. You don't want to boil it. I warm it in 30 second increments until it's warm to the touch - about 3 minutes total. In a large stockpot (you will end up with all the ingredients in it - so take that into consideration) melt the butter. Add the flour and wisk together until it's nice and smooth. Add the warmed milk a little at a time. Continue to wisk until incorporated. Take the pot off the heat. Add 2 cups of the shredded Tillamook cheddar and the Dubliners cheddar. The cheese won't be melted completely - don't worry. Add the pasta and mix well.
Pam a 9x13" casserole dish. Pour the mixture into the casserole. Top with remaining Tillamook cheddar. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes - it should be bubbly and the top will be a bit browned.
Decadent. Sinful. In my husbands words "a cardiac arrest."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Food Finds

Krystal and I talked about doing a new section on the blog called "Food Finds" pretty self explanitory...

Sensible Portions Veggie Straws and Potato Straws - my kids love 'em. The Potato Straws come in Cheddar and BBQ flavors - I get a box of 24 individual bags at Costco...
Krystal actually turned me on to these. Orowheat Multigrain Sandwich Thins. Really good. I love to use them instead of hamburger buns...
I couldn't find the picture of the actual product I wanted, but it is Philadelphia Cream Cheese individual packets. I get a bag of 50 at Costco (they should be paying for all this advertising!). I love the individual packets b/c they stay fresh for a few months. I use them for everything from bagels, dips, dinners, desserts, etc.
Mrs. Mays Freeze-Dried Fruit Chips. Variety pack (you guessed it at Costco) that includes apples, strawberries and pear chips. My 8 year old asked me to bring these as his "birthday treat" for his class - seriously. After that day, the teacher and several Mom's asked me where I got them - they are yummm...
Kraft Sandwich Shop Mayo - Garlic and Herb is my fav flavor - it adds just a little zip to your sandwich - makes you feel like you are eating in a deli:)
Another little luxury item? Mission brand Wraps - I like the Sun Dried Tomato & Basil ones...
...and the Garden Spinach Herb kind too. They even have recipes on the back of them - I'll try to remember to post a few recipes for these soon
There you go! What are some of your favorite "Food Finds"?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

BASICS: Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes is one of the most basic and delicious sides you can make. A few things to keep in mind. Choose good potatoes. I usually get Yukon Gold potatoes (they are my fav) but I also like red potatoes (which I used in the picture below). Your 'creaming' agent. We only eat mashed potatoes every once in a while - so I always do it right by using Heavy Cream. There are several low fat solutions though - I would recommend - fat free half and half. Your butter preference. After reading an article several years ago about how margarine is only 1 molecule different than plastic - I've used real butter for everything - I don't think you can beat it. Salt & Pepper. Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper - enough said.
Mashed Potatoes
2 1/2 lbs potatoes
1 c heavy cream
4 T butter
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 Bay leaf

Peel and cube your potatoes to about 2"x 2" size. Fill a large stock pot 3/4 of the way with water. Bring to a boil and add potatoes. Boil for 20 minutes - or until fork tender. Remove bay leaf and drain potatoes. Meanwhile, heat cream and butter in a small sauce pan.

After the potatoes have been drained, put them in your mixer (or in a plastic bowl so you can use your hand mixer). Mix on the lowest level until the potatoes are no longer distingishable individual pieces. Add about 1/4 cup of the cream and butter mixture at a time - until your potatoes are smooth and creamy.

Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Another fav around the ol' St. Patrick's Day table is this one:

Irish Soda Bread
3 c all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/3 c white sugar
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 c buttermilk
1/4 c butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan. combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight for best flavor.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

I usually follow the recipe below to a T. This year though, I just did the corned beef and cabbage - I left out all the other veg...
See how good it turns out?? Mmmmm....
I got this recipe from a dear family friend who made it for my husband on a St. Patrick's Day many, many, many years ago. Only, I cheat a bit...

This little baby is the secret to Corned Beef and Cabbage heaven. I get "Bill Bailey's" brand of corned beef that is preseasoned (found at Costco)
Add that to my recipe below - and you will be one happy leprechaun!! I have made this for several years - and have had many corned beef and cabbage raised Irish boys in my kitchen professing their love for this tasty meal...

Corned Beef and Cabbage
4 lbs corned beef
2 1/2 quarts cold wter
1 lb red potatoes (8) peeled
1 head green cabbage cut into wedges
2 med onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup carrots, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 t dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove corned beef from the package. Put it and the juices and seasonings in your biggest stock pot and cover with the water. Bring the water to a gentle boil. Skim off and discard any impurities (foam). Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 90 minutes per pound of beef (that would be 6 hours for this recipe). The last 30 minutes add veggies, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Remove the corned beef from the pot and cut into thin slices. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Serve a few slices of corned beef along side all those delish veggies and Irish Soda Bread.

Weekly Meal Plan

Weekly Menu
This week is Spring Break for me and the kiddos no school, no dance, no soccer, no waking up at the crack of dawn - Spring Break baby!! All the items on my Spring Break are going to be EASY. Not necessarily fast - but with a little planning - EASY!

I'll def post the recipes of the meals I haven't made before. I still can't believe I haven't posted my Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe - I've made it for years and it is so delicious!! I will do my best to post it tomorrow - I've just got to make a run to the store...

Monday: Neely's Smoked Sausage Jambalaya
Tuesday: Hamburgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday: Salmon Steaks and Grilled Asparagus
Thursday: ST. PATRICK'S DAY Corned Beef and Cabbage (best and easiest EVER!) with Irish Soda Bread
Friday: Reuben Sandwiches (w/ left over Corned Beef) and green salad
Saturday: Pizza Night
Sunday: Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa Delite

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lazy Blogger

I am so sorry that I have been such a lazy blogger! A few weeks ago, I said to my husband "get ready for craziness!" and that is what it has been. Pure craziness. We are back into dance, soccer (2 kids - Sweets is coaching Maisie's team and I am coaching Jack's team) and I am starting a "Love and Logic" class. My husband is travelling more than ever and his parents are coming in town at the end of this month.

I can't wait for summer - seriously. I promise to do better. I do. Please hang with me during this crazy busy time - you won't regret it:)

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