Friday, August 31, 2012

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

  • Spaghetti alla Carbonara - Tyler Florence
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.") Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

Meal Planning 4

So here we are. Finally ready to decide what meals we are going to make for the week. I am going to plan out 2 weeks at a time.

When considering what meals would make this first list, I narrowed it down from my big lists of meals and sides based on what I currently have. I also chose meals with different kinds of protein throughout the week.

Sunday: Bacon Cheese Topped Chicken & Green Salad
Monday: Hamburgers & French Fries
Tuesday: Tuna Puff Sandwiches & Steamed Veg with Cheese Sauce
Wednesday: Stuffed Shells
Thursday: Spaghetti Carbonara
Friday: Left Overs/Date Night or Pizza
Saturday: Grilled BBQ Chicken & Broccoli Salad

Sunday: Cafe Rio Pork Salad
Monday: Bucatini and Broccolini Pasta
Tuesday: Swiss Chicken & Homestyle Baked Beans
Wednesday: Enchilada Bake
Thursday: Pork Burritos
Friday: Left Overs/Date Night or Pizza
Saturday: Salmon & Grilled Asparagus & Corn on the Cobb

Easy Parmensan Chicken

This recipe is new to us. I made it last night just to mix things up a bit - and b/c I had everything I needed to make this dish on hand.

My husband said "I've eaten Parmesan Chicken in restaurants several times - and this one is the best I've ever had"

Parmesan Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 c. panko or bread crumbs
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. seasoning salt
1/2 t. parsley
1 1/2-2 c. parmesan cheese, grated
2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. milk
1 cube butter
Spaghetti noodles
Spaghetti sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (garnish)

Mix panco, garlic powder, seasoning salt, parsley and parmesan cheese together in a shallow dish. Mix sour cream and milk together and put in another shallow dish. Dip the chicken breasts into the sour cream and milk mixture and then into the cracker mixture (put a generous amount of the cracker mixture on the chicken). Place chicken in a 9x13 pan with a 1/4 cube melted butter on the bottom of the pan. Once chicken is placed on the bottom of the pan, drizzle the remaining melted butter over the chicken. Bake uncovered at 350 for 40 min. Cook and drain noodles. Warm sauce. Take the chicken out, smother with sauce and top with cheese, put back in the oven for an additional 5 - 10 minutes until the cheese is all melty and you just can't help yourself! Serve on top of pasta.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meal Planning 3

Ok. Step 3. Side Dishes...

Believe it or don't, I don't do sides in the traditional sense. Rice, mashed potatoes, quinoa, bread - basically starch. Then an additional side dish that includes veg. That is seriously SO MUCH FOOD!! Growing up I was taught that you are supposed to eat a protein, a starch and a veg at every meal. I think that was pretty typical thinking of my parents generation. Another thing that I was taught was to "clean my plate" something that I agree with - but with fewer options on the plate and smaller portions. Lastly, I'm a BIG BELIEVER in the "no thank you bite." Growing up, it was "you eat what is on your plate - period." "There are people starving in the world - we don't want to waste food." Gosh that makes my parents sound so mean - but they weren't mean at all. As I said - I think that was the norm.

My approach to side dishes is this: Make your side dishes count. This is your opportunity to expand your family's palette and to pack in some serious nutrition and vitamins into the people you love the most. We started the "No Thank You Bite" with our kids (now 9, 7, 4 and 7mo) several years ago. The "No Thank You Bite" allows for you to introduce new foods to your kids (which in my case, usually is a 'side dish') without the whining, complaining, anxiety that kids feel when faced with a new, unusual looking pile of veg on their plate. I ask my kids to "take one bite. If you don't like it that's fine - you don't need to eat anymore" but I know that more likely than not, they will like what I've made.

I have deliberately raised my kids eating veg since they were babies. In fact, today I was looking for some baby finger food snacks for my 7 mo old. Flavors like cinnamon sugar & maple syrup stocked the shelves - products that I've never bought and will never buy. I honestly believe that the sooner you introduce sugar (and fat for that matter) in your kids diet - the pickier the eater you will have and they will be less likely to enjoy raw or unprocessed foods.

So. I serve dinner in one of two ways. I serve a "complete meal" i.e. Baked Pasta with Sausage that has protein, starch, dairy and veg without a side. OR, I serve a "main dish" which usually revolves around protein with a veg on the side. Of course, there are exceptions like holidays where the side dishes often outshine the main event - but for the day to day - veg it is...

TODAY, you need to categorize your regular side dishes. Again, ask your kids and hubs what they like. Think about veg or fruit that is easy to prepare - you want to spend most of your time preparing the main dish. Your side dish should be a quick prep and uncomplicated.

Here is the list I came up with to start. Again, I'm not going to print or laminate this, as I get into actually putting things into motion, I know that I'll end up making tweaks and changes to this list. Also, the season, holidays, etc. will affect this list as well. We're just getting going:)


Cafe Rio Black Beans

Homestyle Baked Beans

Corn on the Cobb

Grilled asparagus

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Carrots

Country Corn

Roasted Beets

Black Bean Salad

Sweet Jasmine Rice

Broccoli Salad

Steamed Broccoli w Cheese sauce

Sauteed Mushrooms & Onions

Sauteed Peppers & Onions

Evans Broccoli Salad

Chilled Pineapple

Chilled Mandarin Oranges


Cucumbers and Carrots with Ranch


One last tip. Eat seasonally. It will save you money and you will enjoy the fruit and veg SO MUCH MORE!

Now go young padawan - just think of all the shoes you can buy yourself with all the money you are going to save!! Ha - my husband would get a kick out of that one - we all know that as Mother's the very last thing we spend money on is ourselves:)

Meal Planning Day 2

Ok, so you've done your pantry inventory, printed out your "MASTER LISTS" and are ready for the next step.

Think about meals that make a regular appearance at your dinner table. As your kids and your husband what their favorite meals are. Look through this website, cookbooks you have, interest - anywhere for ideas and options.

Then, write them down and group them into groups. You may group them like: Italian, French, American, Chinese, etc. but I decided to group mine like this: Beef, Chicken, Pork, Seafood & Vegetarian. I chose to do that b/c I like variety and I want to make sure as I meal plan that we aren't having ground beef every night.

Another awesome resource for meal planning is AllRecipes This website allows you to list ingredients you already have and they give you several recipes you can use those foods in.

Here's my list. I linked all the recipes I'm using that are on this site. I was seriously shocked to look up several of the meals that are regulars around here - only to find out that I've never posted them! I've been keeping them all to myself. Much to catch up on...

I'm not going to print and laminate this list because as the meal planning goes, I'm sure I'll be making changes to this list...





Beef Stroganoff

Enchilada Bake

Runnin' Ute Tailgate Chili

Taco Soup


Carne Asada Fajitas

Pizza Pasta


White Chicken Chili

Crock Pot Chicken Salsa

Creamy Ranch Chicken

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Monterey Chicken Casserole

Chinese Simmer Chicken

Panko Crusted Chicken

Bacon Cheese Topped Chicken

BBQ Grilled Chicken

Chicken Puff Sandwich

Swiss Chicken

BBQ Chicken & Ranch Salad

Pesto Presto Italian Flag Chicken

Cafe Rio Chicken

Southwestern Lasagna

Cobb Salad

Queensland Salad

Caribbean Salad

Santa Fe Chicken Salad

Easy Parmesan Chicken



Pizza (pepperoni)

Spaghetti Carbonara

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Baked Pasta with Sausage

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Cheesy Potato & Ham Soup


Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

Simple Salmon Steaks

Tuna Puff Sandwich

Divine Shrimp Pasta

Barefoot Contessas Shrimp Scampi


Barefoot Contessa Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese

Brown Butter & Mizithra Cheese Pasta

Pasta Primavera

Bucatini and Broccolini Pasta

Stuffed Shells Florentine

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

Jack's 3 Bean Soup

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup Deluxe

Black Bean Soup

Bean Burritos

So, now you have your 2nd assignment. Go and do and get ready for Day 3:)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Meal Planning Day 1

I decide what to make for dinner the same way I decide what to wear for the day - whatever I'm in the mood for. I am determined to save money and be more efficient and the easiest way to do that is cut down my spending - duh.

After I decide what I'm in the mood to eat, I rummage through my pantry, fridge and freezer to see what ELSE I need to satisfy my craving. This usually ends up with me at the store to buy ONE AVOCADO and I walk out the door $75 later. No bueno. I think just cutting down the frequency of my visits to the store alone will save money.

So, meal planning. I've done A LOT of research. I watched a few video's on YouTube, read lots and lots of articles, read a book, searched the web - pretty well loaded my brain full of information on meal planning.

I'm not going to start actually making the meals/buying the food until Sept 1. I wanted to give myself some time to get organized - and organization IS THE KEY!

Do an inventory of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. I'm going to make it even easier on you than it was for me - just go ahead and copy these lists and then delete or add items that you have or rotate frequently.

These lists are "complete" for me. A MASTER LIST. They have listed all of the items I currently have in my food stock, but also have things on the list that I do not have in stock. So - you know what you have and what you don't have. How do I differentiate between the two? Easy. I printed off these lists and laminated them. Then I took a dry erase marker and put a dot next to all the items I DON'T have.

So, when I look at a recipe I can quickly see whether or not I have what I need. Using the dry erase marker on the laminated paper is pretty genius if I say so myself. When you buy and item or run out of an item, you can easily wipe away the dot to show you have it in stock - or add a dot to an item you need to restock. Unagi.

I divided the food into these 5 groups: Spices, Canned Goods, Pantry Items, Freezer Items & Refrigerator Items.

Here we go!


Allspice ground

Allspice whole


Basil leaves

Bay leaves

Beef cubes

Black pepper ground

Black peppercorns whole


Celery salt

Celery seed

Chili powder

Chili powder hot mexican

Chipotle chili powder

Cinnamon ground

Cinnamon stick

Cloves ground

Cumin ground

Curry powder

Dill weed

Fennel seed

Garlic powder

Garlic salt

Ginger ground

Lemon pepper

Mustard ground

Mustard superfine ground

Nutmeg ground

Old Bay

Onions minced

Onion powder



Paprika smoked

Parsley flakes

Poppy seeds

Red pepper crushed

Rosemary leaves

Salad supreme

Salt table

Salt kosher

Season all

Seasoned salt Lawry's

Sesame seeds

Thyme leaves

Specialty Seasonings

Emeril's Original Essence

Herbed Seafood Rub

HV Ranch mix (2)

HV Buttermilk ranch mix (2)

Johnny's garlic seasoning

Montreal Steak Seasoning

Schultz's premium seasoning and rub (sm & lg)

Sun Dried Tomato Herb (mix w oil - dip bread)

Taco seasoning

Canned Goods





Great Northern





Albacore Tuna




Chicken stock

Cream of chicken

Cream of mushroom


Chipotle in adobo





Tomato juice

Freezer Items



Beef carne asada

Beef ground

Beef steaks

Black bean burgers


Pork chops

Pork tenderloin

Pork Ribs


Turkey ground

Frozen Dinners

Chicken patties




Chilean Seabass






California mix

Classic mix


Normandy mix

Potatoes O’Brian

Potatoes shredded hash

Potatoes fries


Stir Fry Mix

Pantry Items


Franks RedHot


Salsa verde

Soy sauce

Sweet Heat marinade

Baking Items

Baking powder

Baking soda

Flour bread

Flour whole wheat



Corn syrup


Evaporated milk



Milk chocolate chips


Peppermint baking chips

Unsweetened cocoa

Sugar brown

Sugar powdered

Sugar white


Vanilla pudding mix

Yeast - fridge





French Bread

Hamburger buns

Hot dog buns

Rhodes rolls

Rhodes loaf

Taco shells


Wheat bread


Mandarin oranges



Dried Cranberries

Knorr's Veg Mix

Onion soup mix


Almonds sliced

Almonds smoked

Almonds slivered




Pecans roasted


Sunflower seeds



Canola oil

Olive oil

Olive, Grapeseed mix

Sesame seed oil

Toasted sesame seed



Penne or the like

Whole wheat spaghetti


Brown Rice

Jasmine Rice

Rice a Roni





Vodka sauce


Creamy Potato

Sick soup




Fried Onions

Onion Ring batter

Panko bread crumbs

Shake n bake

Tortilla Strips


Bean sprouts


Water chestnuts

Green beans


Apple Cider Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

White Vinegar

Red wine vinegar

Rice vinegar

Refrigerator Items

Acidic Elements

Lime juice

Lemon juice

Soy Sauce


Bleu Cheese


Cream Cheese

Colby Jack





Mozzarella string cheese


Parmesan shredded

Parmesan grated

Pepper Jack



BBQ sauce

Gray Poupon





W sauce

Yellow mustard



Cream heavy

Cream whipping

Half and Half

Sour Cream

Dressings & Sauces

Balsamic vinaigrette


Poppyseed dressing

Ranch dressing

Raspberry d&m

Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Jelly

Roasted Pineapple Habanero jelly

Tartar sauce


Enchilada sauce

Green sauce


Salsa Verde


Bacon bits


Ham deli

Ham diced


Roast beef







Brussells Sprouts

Cabbage green

Cabbage red





Garlic whole

Garlic minced

Green Beans




Onions red

Onions yellow

Onions green

Peppers bell

Peppers sweet mini

Peppers jalapeno



Snap peas

Snow peas



Sweet Potato

Tomatoes Beefsteak

Tomatoes Cherry

Tomatoes Grape

Tomatoes Roma

Tomatoes Sundried


So there you have it! Your first assignment on the road to saving money, being organized and enjoying delicious meals!!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's assignment.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Today, we have a guest foodie!! My own 7 year old daughter, Maisie. She really is such a good little helper in the kitchen. She is an adventurous eater and we love trying new things together. A few months ago, she got a new cookbook called "the kid's cookbook" by Williams-Sonoma. She made these Ice Cream Sandwiches all by herself - and was so proud. She even came up with the idea of adding sprinkles to the outside of the sammie.

Here she goes: These are good and messy too! I used mint chocolate chip ice cream for the filling - one of my favorites. Give these a try - your kids will love them.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 t butter
3/4 c butter
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c flour
pinch of salt
1 qt ice cream - your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13" pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease with butter.

Put the 3/4 butter into a large saucepan and set it over medium heat. Stir with a whisk just until the butter is melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add cocoa powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. Add the sugar and continue whisking until well blended. Let the mixture cool for about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Add the flour and salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir until the batter is blended. Scrape down the sides of the saucepan as needed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

*Using the ends of the foil, lift the brownie from the pan and set it on the cutting board. Cut the brownie in half lengthwise. Carefully loosen both halves from the foil. Using the spatula, spread the softened ice cream evenly over one half of the brownie into a layer about 1 inch thick. Top with the other half of the brownie and press down gently. Wrap in the foil. Freeze until hard, about 6 hours.

Peel away the foil and cut into 8 - 10 sandwiches. Serve immediately. You can also wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

*Instead of doing it that way, my Mom cut the brownie in half lengthwise for me. Then we used cookie cutters to give our brownies fun shapes (the one pictured is a circle). Then scooped ice cream on one side and topped with the other side. Then we added sprinkles around the side:)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

I saw this on Pinterest and I was immediately sucked in. Next time I make it,
I'll add a lttle more kick to it. I think with all the cream cheese, sour cream and milk - there needs to be a bit more balance. I'm thinkin' onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, green chilis and diced jalapenos... this dish was inspired by Spinach Artichoke Dip after all...

Spinach Parmesan Pasta
12 oz pasta
1 t butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c milk
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 t salt
1/4 t red pepper flakes
14 oz can artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and chopped
10 oz chopped, frozen spinach, thawed, with as much excess water squeezed out as possible
1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook pasta according to directions.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Then quickly add cream cheese and stir until melted. Slowly stir in milk, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, and parmesan cheese.

Drain pasta. Toss pasta and sauce together – season to taste. Serve with additional shredded Parmesan.
*Adapted from A Life of Flavor


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