Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 2/28/11

Menu Plan Monday - 2/28/11

Can you believe March is here?  We've been enjoying some nice warm weather already and it's taking all sorts of restraint not to jump in the garden and start planting.  I have to keep reminding myself that we still may get a cold snap (or two) before April.
Daffodils - this weekend

Sunday - My nod to the Oscars - a Spago-inspired appetizer: Latkes with Lox. It probably should be little pizzas instead, but I "found" the latkes in the freezer this weekend and figured that would work, too. 

 Monday -  Trying a new recipe:
Korean Simmered Beef Patties
 with rice and steamed veggies.

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday -  Paula Deen's recipe for
Goulash.  I've made this recipe many times now and it's always good for a easy meal. Maybe with Wheat Bread.

Thursday - Veggie chili with baked potatoes.

Friday - Chicken Yakitori and ?

Looking for more menu ideas, visit MPM.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wheat Sandwich Bread

Wheat Sandwich Bread
(adapted from The Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book, 1963)

1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1/4 c. warm water
2 1/2 c. additional warm water
1/4 c. shortening (I used coconut oil)
1/2 c. brown sugar (or honey)
3 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 c. - 5 c. all-purpose flour

Soften the yeast in the 1/4 c. of warm (110 degree) water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of a large stand mixer or large bowl, if mixing by hand.  Add remaining warm water, shortening, sugar, whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour.  Begin mixing until all ingredients are incorporated.  Add salt and continue adding additional all-purpose flour to make a moderately stiff dough.

Knead the dough in the mixer or by hand on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until smooth and resilient.  Shape the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl.  Cover and allow to rise for about 1 - 2 hours until doubled in size.

Punch down and divide into 2 portions.  Grease two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" loaf pans.  Shape dough into loaves and place seam-side down into pans.  Cover and allow to rise another hour.   Uncover the loaves and slash a lengthwise cut down each loaf with a sharp knife.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the loaves for about 45 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 2/21/11

Menu Plan Monday - 2/21/11

With Passover being 8 weeks away and the Italian Days sale at Publix this week, there is definitely a "theme" going this week.

Monday - Grilled fish tacos and Cherry Cheesecake Tarts (from this Paula Deen recipe ) for dessert

Cherry Cheesecake Tarts

Fish Tacos

Tuesday -Meatball Subs

Wednesday - Honey Orange Chicken with Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Thursday - Pizza

Friday - Spaghetti and Homemade Sauce, Challah

For more menu planning ideas, please visit MPM at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Heart-Shaped Pizza

Heart-Shaped Pizza
I just wanted to post a picture from Monday night.    Find the recipe for the dough and sauce here on Serious  It's my new favorite dough.  So easy to make in the food processor and park it in the fridge or divide and freeze for later.  And the sauce is the best one I've found.  That touch of butter in the sauce seems to be the secret.  Of course, that means the sauce has dairy in it, but really who wants a non-dairy pizza?  Not me, anyway.  I'm okay with making a batch (or double batch) of the sauce and freezing it for pizza night.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 2/14/11

Menu Plan Monday - Warmth.  We're finally supposed to have a mild week and it couldn't come any sooner for me.

Monday Heart-shaped pizza (Miss D's request) a helpful on-line tutorial , from Slice.   And for dessert:  Heart Cake

Tuesday - (no dance class tonight) Turkey burgers

Wednesday - soft beef tacos with avocado and salsa

Thursday -mile-high lasagna pie

Friday - Chicken - roasted, maybe grilled?, challah

Looking for more menu inspirations?...  go to MPM at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heart Cake

Heart Cake

Heart Cake - A few weeks ago I saw this incredible cake on and knew I had to give it a try.  Now, i_am_baker I am NOT!  But I did give my best shot.  So this is what I've been up to this weekend.  Not sure if we'll be able to wait until Monday to cut into this baby.  I am so curious to see the inside.

For the White Cake, I doubled this recipe (adapted from The Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook, Southern Living Books, 1983)

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a large mixer, cream shortening with sugar until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Measure out milk and add vanilla extract.  Add flour to creamed mixture alternately with the milk.   Be sure to begin and finish with the addition of flour.  In a clean bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites gently into the batter.

Divide batter between two greased and floured 8-inch round pans.   Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes.   Cool cakes in the pan 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

  For the Red Velvet Cake - I used a cake mix.  I admit it.  I deviated from the box directions a bit by substituting 1 c. buttermilk for the water and added 4 eggs, instead of 3.  I think it made the cake firmer.

Red Velvet cake crumbled and combined with about a cup of frosting.
Cakes carved out and ready to fill.
Cakes filled and ready to be put together.
 Crumb coating.
Heart Cake - finished.

Update:  Here's what it looks like from the inside.  Pretty cool!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Instant" Oatmeal

Here is the secret to my mornings..."Instant" Oatmeal.

Instant Oatmeal
Especially on the cold (and sometimes snowy) mornings of the winter, oatmeal hits the spot.  I saw this post last year from Life as Mom to make instant oatmeal packets, but one of the issues I had with pre-packaged oatmeal packets (besides price) was portion size.   While my 5 year old can polish off a packet no problem, my 2 year old is full with half that amount.  I like storing this mix in a jar so I can portion out the amount I need.

"Instant" Oatmeal

2 cups quick-cooking oats

3 Tbs. dry milk powder

3 Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl or large quart-size jar.  Stir or shake to combine, making sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar.  Store in glass jar until ready to use.  When ready, portion out the amount (i.e. 1/3 cup) adding equal amount of hot, boiling water.  Stir and allow to sit for about a minute (if your children are more patient than mine).  May be thinned a bit with a splash of milk, if desired.

For more great ideas, you can check out Frugal Food Thursday at Frugal Follies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 2/7/11

Menu Plan Monday - 2/7/11

Sunday - Super Bowl Menu:  Mini pizza bagels, individual mac and cheese, baked potato skins, salsa with chips, veggies with dip, field cake with Jell-o jiggler football helmets (which I forgot in the fridge).
Individual Mac and Cheese

Salsa and Chips

Field Cake

Monday - Spaghetti and meatballs, leftover

Tuesday -Leftovers from SB, mac and cheese, etc.

Wednesday - Turkey burgers

Thursday - Baked Ziti

Friday - Chicken??, challah

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homemade Tater Tots

Homemade Tater Tots

Recently I saw this post with a challenge to make a homemade, healthier version of tater tots.   Since I had planned on making baked potato skins for our Super Bowl menu, I figured this was a great opportunity to try to create a new recipe.  I thought if I used my favorite method of oven-"frying" in place of pan-frying, it just might work out.  And so it did.  I think an empty plate at the end of dinner speaks for itself.

Homemade Tater Tots

8 baking potatoes
olive oil

Bake the potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until soft.  Allow the potatoes to cool to the touch.  Slice the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon.  The skins can be saved for baked potato skins.  Allow the potato flesh to cool completely.  With the shredding/grating blade on a food processor or a box grater, shred the potatoes.  Be sure not to pulse/process too long or you will end up with mashed potatoes.

Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.  Heat the oven back to 400 degrees.  Using a small cookie scoop, gather up enough potato to fill the scoop making sure to pack it slightly before placing the scoop on the baking sheet.  Continue making potato mounds.  Drizzle a small amount of oil on top of each scoop and sprinkle with salt before placing in the oven.   Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove pan from oven.  Carefully flip each "tot" over and gently press down a bit.  Bake another 10 - 15 minutes until crispy and brown. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Avocado Chicken Salad

Avocado Chicken Salad
Avocado Chicken Salad -

This recipe is an adaptation from the South Beach Diet Book
I found it in the first book (2003), but wasn't able to find a version online.  I adapted it a bit, omitting pistachio nuts, and making it a bit more like a Cobb salad.

cooked chicken or turkey breast (about  8 oz.), sliced
mixed salad greens, 3 or 4 nice handfuls 
2-4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
tomato, sliced or about 15-20 cherry tomatoes
3 slices turkey bacon or a one-inch slice or bologna, diced and cooked crisp 
Optional: any other salad toppings (cucumbers,  onion, etc.)

Avocado Dressing:
1 avocado, ripe
1 tsp. diced onion
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs. olive oil
1+ Tbs. water
salt and pepper, to taste

On a large platter, layer the salad ingredients: mixed greens, tomatoes, and any other vegetables, chicken, sliced egg, and sprinkle with crisp turkey bacon or bologna.

To prepare the dressing, add all ingredients, except salt and pepper to a food processor.  Pulse until smooth, adding additional water as needed.  Add seasonings to taste.  Dressing may be served on the side or on top of salad.