29 December 2014

Menu Monday

Hard to believe it's been 3 weeks since my last Menu Monday post (or my last post at all)! Lots of catching up to do around here...

Awwww yeah, this was sooooo freakin' good. The soup was rich, hearty, and flavorful...and mostly healthy if you can get past the heavy cream (I can).
M and I are not big chain restaurant people, but we both have a weakness for chain restaurant carbs (I'm looking at you, Olive Garden breadsticks). When we were first married and lived in a barren culinary desert, we would hit up Outback Steakhouse for date night and would've been perfectly happy just to sit and eat basket after basket of their rolls. I happened upon this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to make them. I am somewhat intimidated by homemade bread, but these were basically foolproof (proof...haha, a yeast joke! So punny). They tasted pretty close to the real thing too.
This is another old favorites from Budget Bytes. It's one of those meatless meals where you truly don't even notice that there isn't any meat. Plus it's easy and healthy and so delicious. (They would be vegan if I hadn't added big dollups of sour cream on top.) I used up the bag of quinoa hanging around, so I had to add in a little bulgur wheat. And I had a can of kidney beans in the pantry, but no black beans, so that's what we used. Another victory on my mission to clean out our pantry before our Christmas travels.  
Yet another Budget Bytes/clean out the freezer meal. This has quickly become one of my favorite ways to fix tilapia or any other flaky white fish. Our grocery store often runs BOGO deals on bags of frozen, individually packaged tilapia or swai filets (I always make sure to get something that is Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch approved!). The tomato topping is so flavorful that you would never know you're not eating fresh fish. I like to serve it on top of rice or couscous to absorb all of the sauce.
 Quiche a la Clean Out the Fridge and Freezer
Our flight back from visiting M's family in Baltimore didn't get in until midnight the night before. We were leaving again for NYC in less than 48 hours and I was determined not to grocery shop in between, so this was what I came up with.
 I used Kate's recipe as a base for this. I had a Wholly Wholesome whole-wheat piecrust leftover from making Thanksgiving pecan pies. I added frozen peas, some sautéed ground beef and Italian sausage, and a ton of feta cheese, and then topped it all off with some Parmesan. Et voila! It was actually really quite tasty, considering the randomness of it all.
Black-Eyed Pea Soup and Cornbread
No real recipe here. Just sautéed some onion, carrot, celery, added in the beans and a hambone and let it simmer away for a few hours while we packed and took care of last minute things around the house. The cornbread was a cheat; I used Bob's Red Mill mix and added a little creamed corn. This was our last meal at home before heading to NYC and it made a ton, so I just froze the leftovers and now the only thing I have to make for our traditional luck and money New Year's Day meal is the collard greens.
 Baked Manicotti with Sausage and Peas and Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks (recipes by Giada de Laurentiis; modeling by my husband)
This was our Christmas Eve meal. As you can see, it was a very formal affair. I normally do something a little fancier for the Christmas meal I make for the two of us; the first two years of marriage I made individual beef Wellingtons and last year I did steak with Bernaise sauce. But since we were doing a Christmas Day potluck dinner with friends that we knew involved prime rib, I went with something a little more casual.
Every time I make manicotti, I remember why I only make it once in a blue moon. Stuffing those little pasta tubes is a total pain in the ass, but these were so good I didn't mind it too much. SO MUCH CHEESE. I served it with a kale Caesar salad and we opened a bottle of wine from my favorite vineyard back home. A perfect little Christmas Eve feast for two.  
Snake Bite Chili Dip (Katie at the Perks)
Our skiing plans last weekend had to be put aside due to M's Achilles injury, so instead we ate an entire batch of this dip and watched college football and basketball. So the weekend wasn't a total bust after all.
This dip is SO SO GOOD. M was a little skeptical; he just couldn't figure how the sweet mango salsa was going to go with the cheese and sausage. Turns out there was no need to worry. We inhaled this as fast as we could. This would be a great addition to your Super Bowl party spread!
I'm not sure how much of a recipe this is, but I make it a lot. After all the junk over the past few weeks (see above), it was nice to just have something light and healthy. I used some Williams-Sonoma potlatch seasoning on the salmon in place of salt and pepper and served with some steam-in-bag haricots verts and some roasted baby potatoes. The potatoes roast at the same temp as the salmon, so I just prepped the salmon while the potatoes roasted for about 25 minutes and then added the salmon on top for the last 15 minutes. Then just whip up the sauce and microwave the green beans while everything's in the oven. Easy peasy and minimal clean-up!
 That about does it for the past 3 weeks. As sad as I am to see the holidays go, I am a creature of habit, so I'm looking forward to getting back into our normal, healthier meal routine.