24 November 2014

Menu Monday

Are you tired of me posting Budget Bytes recipes yet? These were really tasty and surprisingly filling. I only had one for dinner but thought I could handle 2 for lunch the next day and couldn't hack it. So this definitely makes more on the side of 6-8 servings and since they were equally as tasty as leftovers, that counts as a winner in my book.

Tuesday night was Wine Club, which meant M was on his own for dinner. The ladies put together an incredible spread for our theme of Spanish Reds and tapas; my contribution was a bag of marcona almonds with rosemary and a container of tapenade, both courtesy of Trader Joe's.
M went and got all chef-y on me by whipping up a creation of his own and after he posted the picture on Instagram, there was a request for an M guest appearance on Menu Monday. Ask and ye shall receive. M's direct quote "Pasta, chicken, marinara, Italian seasoning, garlic, mozzarella...Add lovfe as an ingredient." I will translate for you: Cook 1 package of pasta (your choice) to the package instructions. Mix cooked pasta with a jar of marinara sauce (your choice), 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Pour into a lightly greased casserole dish and top with grated Mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes; top with Parmesan cheese when it comes out of the oven.
On Wednesday night we had our last round of M's players over for dinner. I served Damn Delicious's One-Pot Chili Mac and Cheese, but since it was more like Damn boring and not particularly Delicious, I'm giving you a picture of M vacuuming before the kids showed up (so adorable) and the freaking amazing cookies I made for them. I used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe but used a half a package of chocolate chips and an entire tub of Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups instead. Insert heart eyes emoji here.  
I thought this was pretty good and M ate it. No exactly a huge success, but not a failure. I have to say, for a set of recipes that are supposed to be weeknight friendly, there were a lot of steps (and clean-up) involved. Nothing challenging, but I'm not sure this would be what I consider a weeknight meal. It probably will not make a repeat appearance (although the yogurt sauce was hitting).
Last post this week since it's Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time celebrating with family and friends :)

21 November 2014

Five on Friday: Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I am so looking forward to celebrating with my family next week and getting to meet our new niece and nephew. I haven't been home since March and I know this is going to be an extra emotional visit for us because it will be the last holiday we celebrate in the house I grew up in. (I got kind of weepy just typing that out.) And since we won't be spending Christmas with my family, we're having a little family Christmas celebration the night before Thanksgiving. My mom even bought a fake tree so that we can help decorate :)
1. Isn't this the most stunning Thanksgiving centerpiece you've ever seen? I would be tempted to add in a few pheasant feathers, but wow. I can't stop looking at it. And it looks like it would be pretty easy to assemble, which is a bonus because I do not have a gift for floral arrangements.
2. When we do Thanksgiving with my family, the libations menu typically consists of beer, wine, and maybe a batch of our wedding cocktails (which, admittedly are the perfect festive fall beverage). The Kitchn posted this recipe for a pitcher of Amber Rush cocktails last week and it just looks so fun! I love the way the star anise looks floating in the pitcher and the combination of rye, citrus, and spiced honey syrup (with the suggested addition of a little ginger beer) sounds pretty spot on.
3. As a rule, I don't think the Thanksgiving menu should be messed with. This meal is not the time to trot out newfangled recipes. It is all about the humble classics. With that said, I am making something a little bit different for dessert this year. There will still be pumpkin and apple pies (duh) and I got my pecan pie fix at our Worksgiving celebration yesterday (pictured above), but I'm trying out a recipe for Buche de Thanksgiving. I typically make a Buche de Noel log for Christmas every year and when I saw this recipe in my 'Cold Weather Cooking' cookbook, I knew I had to try it. Pumpkin cake + cream cheese and toffee filling? Hello, yes please! I'll be sure to snap some pictures and if it's any good, I'll share the recipe. (I've looked everywhere online for it with no luck.)
4. I am in love with the idea of hosting Thanksgiving one day. It's one of those things that I dreamed of as a little girl (is that weird?) and I feel like I still won't really be a grown-up until I've hosted a Thanksgiving of my very own. While our current situation doesn't make that likely to happen anytime soon, I can still dream. Right now those dreams pretty much take the form of setting the table (again, probably weird). I have a thing for china and serveware and my current dream table setting includes this pheasant gravy boat, the turkey platter that goes with my beloved Spode Woodland china, and these rustic glam servers.
5. Stuffing or dressing? This is a hot debate in our house. I come from a family of people who are decidedly dressing only. My grandmama makes the most amazing dressing from old biscuits, rolls, and Saltine crackers. I cannot wait to dig in next week! M's family is dedicated to stuffing. (M does make an exception for oyster dressing.) I'm normally not very squirmish when it comes to food, but I am completely scared of and grossed out by stuffing and absolutely will not touch it. So what side of the aisle do you fall on?

17 November 2014

Menu Monday

This week's post will be short and sweet. Between M's travelling for work and our big Junior League fundraiser last Thursday evening, there have been more than a few nights of take-out/sandwiches/leftovers for dinner!

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad (Nutmeg Notebook)
 This recipe is an old stand-by when I'm feeling like a big, fresh salad for dinner. It's easy to throw together, makes a ton, and unlike many salads, doesn't get so gross and soggy that you can't enjoy the leftovers. Plus, look how pretty it is! It's like a little party on your plate.

 Gina wins again. This was delicious and quite filling. I served it (like I do almost all of our Tex-Mex Tuesday meals) with a side of sliced mango and kiwi. Bonus points for minimal dirty dishes.

 Meh. M seemed to enjoy this a lot more than I did. I just felt like the sauce was way too overpowering; I could barely taste any of the other flavors. M had 2 servings at dinner and polished off the leftovers, so obviously it didn't bother him. But I doubt I'll make this one again.

 Butternut Squash Soup (Freckled Citizen)
My FAVORITE butternut squash soup recipe! As in, I pretty much don't make any others except for this one. Something about the Greek yogurt in the soup and then the almost-smoky mushrooms on top...yum, yum, yum.

Happy eating!

10 November 2014

Menu Monday

Two weeks worth of meals in this post since I forgot about last week.
Two weeks ago I went on a mission to clean out the fridge/freezer/pantry of all of the random, half-used up ingredients just taking up space. This led to some interesting, but not bad, meals.
Chicken Noodle Soup
I never use a recipe for chicken noodle soup, so this is a perfect meal for getting rid of whatever you've got on hand. I used half a bag of egg noodles, homemade stock from the freezer, the remains of a rotisserie chicken, a few mushrooms leftover from a recipe the week before, and then the usual carrot/celery/onion suspects. I added a little tarragon and that was it. Served with half of a leftover baguette that was in the freezer.
Random Sh*t Pizza
By far the most random meal I've made in a while, but it was surprisingly tast. Smitten Kitchen lazy pizza dough from the freezer, the leftovers of a can of tomato sauce from a previous recipe, a few leftover chicken apple sausage from Trader Joe's, the rest of a block of Trader Joe's caramelized onion cheddar, and some arugula sprinkled on top once it came out of the oven. Baked it at 500 degrees for 12-ish minutes.
I had planned to just have a PB&J sandwich for dinner this night because M was headed out of town right after work. But I realized I had all of the ingredients on hand (I used a jar of roasted red peppers) for PW's roasted red pepper sauce (one of my favorite recipes ever), so I was able to whip this up (and stir in some of that arugula I'm trying to beat the rot clock on) for a nice little meal for two before M had to leave.
Last week's meals:
Chana Saag (Budget Bytes)
I don't know if I've ever posted about this recipe before, but OMG I LOVE IT SO GOOD. There is a real lack of good Mexican and Indian food up here, so I've gotten quite adept at making Indian food at home (I save Mexican food for trips back home). This served with some rice (usually basmati or jasmine...whatever I have on hand) and some Trader Joe's frozen garlic naan...GROAN. Bonus that is makes a ton and is equally delicious leftover.
Tacos (Elefantitas Alegres)

I used 93/7 ground turkey, added some chopped garlic to the onions, and didn't drain the meat/onion mixture. I also used Budget Bytes' recipe for homemade taco seasoning, including the cornstarch and doubling the amount of cayenne pepper.  Big hit with M. We enjoyed the leftovers with some scrambled eggs the next morning. Yay breakfast tacos!

Chicken Tetrazzini (my mom's recipe)
Every other week for the past 6 weeks or so, we've been hosting a group of M's players for dinners. We started with the seniors, then juniors. Last Wednesday was the sophomores. I keep forgetting to take pictures, so here you get a picture of the table set before they arrived.
I made my mom's recipe for chicken tetrazzini (below), although I doubled it and I always add some frozen peas to the mix (I just add them in with the chicken and eyeball the amount).
Fair warning: this is NOT a figure-friendly meal. It is, however, delicious.
Sausage and Kale Skillet (Budget Bytes)
This is so gross looking, I'm sorry. But it was really, really tasty. And maybe one of the fastest/easiest meals to make. I followed the recipe exactly and served with leftover garlic bread. This one's going on the repeat list fo' sho.
 There you have it: two weeks worth of meals in our house. Not always pretty, but pretty damn tasty.

07 November 2014

Five on Friday

1. I know I already shared this on Instagram, but it's too great not to share here too. My mom works for Orvis and a few weeks ago they received the following email:
We are being visited this week by a friendly mallard duck, who has been greeting associates at the entrance all morning.
A wild bird expert I contacted told me he is fine, has recently molted (lost his flying feathers) and is probably seeking a quiet place to hang out away  from the pond while his feathers grow back.  He is harmless and will probably waddle away when he gets hungry or thirsty.
The bird expert I spoke with said we should not feed the duck.  Not only are the foods we have here not particularly good for the duck…if we feed him, he might get confused and decide this is a good place for him to stay. 
That said, please don’t feed the duck, watch your step around the entrance to the building, and be extra careful driving in the HR parking lot.  We don’t want to hurt or confuse our duck friend as he resolves his own unique and personal issues!
On Wednesday, I received the following text from my mother:
Apparently he also now quacks when greeted. I know they are still working with the wildlife expert to make sure their little friend is A-OK, but I can't help but anthropomorphize here and think the little guy looks like he would like to come inside and join the folks in Finance. I'm quite jealous; I really wish we had an office duck at my workplace!
2. Forget everything I said about not being into dressing up for Halloween. Next year I'm going as Ina. Now I just need to convince M to go as a bottle of "good" vanilla or olive oil or Jeffrey. (Thanks to Food & Femininity for the inspiration!)
3. I love, love, LOVE the idea of giving this necklace to a new mama or a recently married friend. I happen to have some engaged friends and some pregnant friends, so ladies, please act surprised when you receive this from me :) M, this would make a wonderful gift for your wife (hint, hint, wink, wink).
4. I'm an aunt! My sister-in-law gave birth to the most beautiful twins early yesterday morning. I am counting down the days until I get to meet my adorable niece and nephew!!!!!
5. Truth.