Archive for August, 2010

Homemade Mac & Cheese

One of my favorite meals growing up was my mom’s homemade Mac & Cheese. I’ve kept a distance trying to make it in my own kitchen however because I was afraid that I would need heavy whipping cream, massive amounts of cheese and butter and I try to stay away from foods that require that much goodness albeit fatty ingredients.

After doing a little bit of recipe perusing I found that Mac & Cheese doesn’t have to be that bad for you. Granted, this recipe is not the healthiest recipe on the blog, but every now and then I’m no longer going to be afraid to make this dish.

Macaroni & Cheese 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (7 oz.) elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard (dry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 350º. Grease 2-quart casserole. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.

Melt margarine in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in macaroni until well coated. Spoon into casserole. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until hot in center.

Early Meal Plan-week of 8/30/10!

Hello Bloggers! Hope you all are enjoying this lovely Sunday afternoon. I thought I would take advantage of my soon-to-be hubbie being gone this morning (he’s rock climbing) and use the computer that he usually takes over, to do the meal plan a day early. My weekend has been full of relaxation and I can’t tell you how much I needed it. It felt downright odd to lay on my couch yesterday watching past episodes of the Hills that I still haven’ t deleted off my DVR and I actually caught the movie “Ghost” which shamefully I cried at. It didn’t feel normal to me to be so unproductive and not have any plans but my body is thanking me for it. I also took a trip to the my favorite place (the mall) with my sister and grabbed a few new work pieces and some comfortable sweats and sweatshirt from AE, along with some good smelling perfume. Score! Chris and I went out to dinner at Red Robin and grabbed some good burgers to end the night with. A very pleasant Saturday indeed! On to the meal plan!

Monday: Chicken Bacon Roulades with Steamed Asparagus (God willing they have it at Food Lion this week)

Tuesday: Tuna Pasta with Capers in White Wine Sauce

Wednesday: Spinach Tofu Calzones (excited to try this one!)

Thursday: Oven Roasted Salmon, Asparagus and New Potatoes

Friday: The “healthiest” Enchilada recipe I could find (which happens to be dubbed the “favorite” recipe on the site).

Saturday: Dinner out hopefully! Date night 🙂

Sunday: Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers (an ode to the grilling season coming to an end)

Last week I ended our  meals with a tofu stir-fry on top of couscous and some homemade macaroni and cheese. Both were delicious and I will post about them on Monday. Sorry again for the quality of pictures from these dishes. I keep meaning to get my sister’s extra camera, but we rarely see each other and when we do it’s on a complete whim and she doesn’t have it on her. I am going to make an effort this week to get it!

I’m off to do my LONG run today…5 miles (long for me!) Hope everyone has a great end to their weekends!!

Achooooo

I thought I was coming down with something yesterday when I woke up. My throat hurt, my nose was stuffed up and I just felt congested. Throughout the day I felt a fever coming on and that really scared me because there isn’t anything I hate worse than a fever! I decided not to push it with a run in hopes that I wouldn’t have to call in sick at all this week. With it being cooler in Charlotte than usual and feeling like I might be sick, I was glad that the meal plan called for a warm veggie Panini. I also was craving some warm tomato soup and thankfully with the help of a nice and easy dinner (and some much needed sofa time) I am feeling tons better today!

Veggie Panini

Ingredients:

  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Tomato
  • Ran out of Mozzarella cheese 😦 so I had to use White American
  • Olive Tapenade
  • Italian Bread (I’d use Chibatta over Italian)

Directions:

The directions are pretty obvious, especially if you have a Panini maker like us. If you don’t have one-I highly recommend. It’s a great way to make a sandwich more unique.

To make the Olive Tapenade: Combine Kalamata olives, capers, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper. Mix well. Refrigerate and use within two weeks. Use as spread.

For other great ideas on what to put in your pannini, here’s a great list!

  • Provolone cheese, fontina cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pre-sautéed red onion and mushroom, fresh basil and chopped olives.
  • Havarti cheese (terrific in panino), mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, and pesto spread.
  • Havarti-dill cheese, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, sliced zucchini. If desired, try a sauce made with mayo, horseradish & mustard of choice. (Perhaps on Sourdough bread)
  • Sliced firm tofu, sliced, zucchini slices, red bell pepper slices, Swiss cheese, fresh spinach or basil leaves. Use a hearty panini bread that can stand up to the moisture in the tofu.
  • Plain hummus, baby spinach, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, chopped onions, shredded aged cheddar cheese.
  • Whole-wheat pita pocket, vegetarian refried beans, sliced roasted red pepper, sliced olives, mild salsa, sliced cheddar cheese. Mexican flavor!
  • Sourdough bread, sliced zucchini, sliced yellow squash, sliced red bell pepper, provolone cheese, fresh basil leaves, mayonnaise. Drizzle of Italian dressing.
  • Spread pesto sauce inside of a baguette. Add mozzarella cheese. Super easy and fast!
  • Gorgonzola cheese, provolone cheese, sliced black olives, sliced green peppers, diced onion, fresh basil and Dijon mustard & mayonnaise spread.
  • Whole-wheat pita pocket, shredded mozzarella cheese, tomato slices, and mashed or sliced avocado.
  • Mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, sliced green peppers, and pre-sautéed mushrooms.
  • Sautéed sliced onions (golden and slightly). Sautéed sliced mushrooms. Fill a pita with jack cheese, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.
  • For a great, fast breakfast (or lunch or dinner), fill panini with scrambled eggs and cheese. Add veggies, mild green chilies, salsa, or condiments of choice.
  • Mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, sliced black olives, sliced green peppers, and pre-sautéed mushrooms (or pizza filling of choice – even pineapple).

 
 

 

 

Fantastic Fritatta!

I am happy to report that last night’s dinner turned out wonderfully! It’s always nice when that happens after a complete blunder. I’m not going to toot my horn too hard, because it was just a fritatta (which is not that hard to make) but boy was it good. This recipe is  going in the rotation and I look forward to mixing it up!

It was quick and can easily be a breakfast, lunch or dinner fixin. I did run into one problem. The grocery store did not have fresh asparagus. Who does not have asparagus? Seriously!? I’ll tell you who, Food Lion. I miss Harris Teeter but I have to say not shopping there has been better for my wallet, but the culture shock took some getting use to. I really wanted fritatta so I opted to use zucchini in place of the asparagus and it was just as good.

Zucchini and Mushroom Fritatta

recipe from Simply Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths  (I used zucchini and added mushrooms as well)
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten (I also used 6 eggs)
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Directions:

Heat olive oil into a 10-inch oven-proof frying pan over medium high heat. Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until the asparagus are barely tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour in eggs and cook until almost set, but still runny on top, about 2 minutes. While cooking, pre-heat oven broiler.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs and put in oven to broil until cheese is melted and browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oven with oven mitts and slide frittata onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges. The picture below looks just like pizza, but this was better and healthier. It was light and airy and while it did have some mozarella and egg, the veggies are a nice addition to a healthy meal.

Running last night was beyond great with the cool front Charlotte is experiencing! I ran my usual 2.5 mile loop in about 23 minutes. It was probably about 75 degrees when I ran at 8:00 last night, which was wonderful and just makes me more excited for Fall. Football season, cool running weather, boot shopping, ahh the list can go on and on. I love summer and if I had to pick a season that would probably be my favorite but there is an excitement that comes from fall that makes it an easy second place season!

Extended Forecast: (Look at those wonderful cool nights!)
Fri
Aug 27
Sat
Aug 28
Sun
Aug 29
Mon
Aug 30
Tue
Aug 31
     

85° | 67°
P/Cloudy

85° | 64°
M/Sunny

83° | 65°
Sunny

86° | 66°
Sunny

88° | 67°
M/Sunny
     

Massacre.

Well, I ruined dinner last night. Like outright, it was gross. I wouldn’t have eaten it and I didn’t. I’m not quite sure what happened. I really need recipes that are thorough and well explained. I’m a newbie so I need as many instructions as I can get. For instance, it never told me when to dice up the potatoes? I figured it was after I boiled them whole. I could’ve been wrong but I felt if they were to small while they were in the boiling hot water, they would just disintegrate? Any advice would be great but please enjoy the travesty that is below:

“Hash” or something like it….

Then here is the “spicy butter sauce.” This does not look appetizing to me.

After the mess I made in the kitchen and daylight long gone, the only way to redeem myself was to rush out and get Chris some Chik-fil-A. He was starving and while it was sweet he offered to eat the mush I made, I’d like to still get married in May. I refrained from the fast-food and instead opted for a bowl of Special K.

I told you there would be some blunders with this blog. I’m still posting the recipe in case anyone wants to make it. I will most likely try again but not until I do some reading up on how to make Hash.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Pecan and Potato Hash and Spicy Brown Butter Sauce

(Unpictured Final Product)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts with skin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon, pancetta, salami or ham, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, diced small
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    In a large oven-proof skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste, and put, skin side down, into the hot oil. (You want to render the chicken skin and get it nice and crispy.) Cook until the skin is crisped, about 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven until the chicken is firm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Do not turn the chicken over!

    While the chicken is cooking, heat a large saute pan or cast iron pan over medium heat. Add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then add the bacon. Cook until well rendered and then add the red onion. Continue to cook until the onion is a deep brown. Add the cooked potatoes and the pecans. Deglaze with sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook another 5 minutes and then stir in thyme and parsley.

    Remove the skillet from the oven, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest. In the same pan over medium heat, add the chicken stock to deglaze and scrape the leftover brown bits from the bottom. Simmer until the liquid is evaporated, then add the butter and jalapenos. Cook until the butter is a deep dark brown, then immediately remove it from the heat. Spoon some of the hash onto each serving plate. Slice the chicken and arrange it over the hash. Drizzle with the butter sauce and enjoy.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    The night however, was not a total Bust. I ran with vengeance after being on a bit of a hiatus last week. It felt so good to be back at it again. I’m not sure how far I ran but have plans to track it with my car this evening. It was probably only about a mile more than I usually do but I’m curious to see. I am sore today though!

    Meal Plan-week of 8/23/10

    So I can still do the weekly meal plan even without my camera!

    While my little hot-pink memory maker is most likely long gone, I’m happy to report that a woman,or saint rather, found my wallet on the lawn of the concert and is mailing it back to me! I was truly touched by her character and the effort she went through to find me. It warmed my heart, and of course I’m so relieved!

    So on to this week’s food! I’m going to try to eat a little less meat so be forwarned. Although I am kickin’ it off with chicken (but only because I need to go grocery shopping today).

    Monday-Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Pecan and Potato Hash and Spicy Brown Butter Sauce. (This might be a tricky one with the hash, so tune-in to see if it was a massacre or a success!)

    Tuesday-Asparagus Fritatta

    Wednesday-Grilled Vegetable and mozzarella Panini’s!

    Thursday-Tofu Stir Fry

    Friday-Appetizer plate (veggies, hummus, pita bread, etc.)

    Saturday-Pool BBQ with friends so most likely veggie burgers.

    So there you have it! Going to try to borrow a camera from my sister, she has 2 and realized this is probably my most brilliant idea ever! Hopefully the phone pics will only last a day or so…

    Lost & Not Found

    Hi there. It is me, the bad blogger girl who took about a week off. Don’t worry, you all were in my hearts as I realized I was MIA but there was so much going on last week, something had to give. First and foremost, I’M A FIRST TIME AUNT!!!!!!!!!!! I”m proud to say that we have a new addition to our family! His name is Ben Fletcher and he was 6 lbs. 13 oz. and he’s absolutely perfect. I was at the hospital till about 2:30 the morning he was born so dinner that night was from the cafeteria and we were so tired the next day. I need my 8 hours of sleep otherwise, I am just not a happy camper. But he was well worth it!

    So after recovering from the excitement I needed to focus on my first week at my new job. I”m happy to report that I really like it so far. I was working on a weekly music publication which was great, but very monotonous. My first week on the job and I already have four projects in the works and I get the feeling there will always be something new to work on. Plus, the team of women are great as well.I’m hoping Chris and I can save some extra money as well as get a new car in about 6 months. I desperately need one!

    What do you guys drive? Anyone absolutely love their cars? Right now I”m leaning towards Honda’s and Mazda’s.

    I finished up the week and was happy to get to the Zac Brown Band! I’ve been looking forward to this concert for weeks and was happy to spend some quality time with these pretty ladies-love you Sarah and Marinda!

    W had such a good time that I hardly noticed that my wallet AND my camera fell out of my purse at some point during the night. 😦 No bueno! After canceling all my credit cards and cleaning up my tears, I’m trying to remain positive. Everything in my wallet can be replaced, but it might take a few weeks for me to get a new camera, which puts my blog at a TOTAL disadvantage! I only plead that you all will stay with me until I can replace it. I will do the best I can with some visuals until then…

    It’s Sunday and Chris was feeling like pulled-pork bbq, so we used our crock-p0t and let the yummy smells take over our house. The sandwiches turned out great and some summer pata salad and strawberries were the perfect accompaniment. Now I need to get to work on some laundry and cleaning and hoping to squeeze in a movie before bed. I still haven’t seen the Blind Side and it’s killing me!

    Ugh. Sorry for the bad camera phone pic 😦

    Hope you guys had great weekends! If you need me I’ll be harassing the people at the Verizon Amphitheater Lost & Found. Keep your fingers crossed for me!