Mar 23

Refreshing Salads

When it starts to warm up and we are all rushing home from various activities, the last thing I want to have to think about is what to make for dinner.  Being able to barbeque is always so convenient and fastand it is also something that everyone loves to have.  I always have homemade burgers done up in the freezer, so I just grab a few  of those and throw them on the barbecue, add a  salad and dinner is ready. Nice, refreshing salads  go along really well with anything!

 

This  is a recipe I have used for years, it is fast and quite good.  You can even adjust lemon etc to your taste.

Tabouleh Salad

 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur wheat

1 c. hot water [approx]

1 lg. tomato

3 green scallions

1 lg. bunch parsley

Juice of 1 sm. lemon

1/4 – 1/2 c. olive oil

 sprinkle of mint

 salt & pepper to taste

Pour enough hot water on the bulgur wheat to cover and let stand approx 15 minutes.  Dice tomatoes, chop scallions and parsley very fine. Mix all together in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt , pepper and mint. Drain excess water from wheat and add  into the mixture and mix well.  You can serve on lettuce leaves alongside the burgers . Enjoy!

 This is a  gluten free version of Tabouleh                 Easy gluten-free quinoa tabouleh

 

 

 

 

Feb 17
icon1 Jennifer | icon2 breakfast, Dinner, eggs, Timesavers | icon4 02 17th, 2011| icon3No Comments »

If you have school-aged children, you’ve probably heard of Market Day.  A monthly fundraiser for schools and other organizations, Market Day offers an extensive catalog of convenience foods that you order in advance and pick up at the school of your choice on a designated day.  The selection is vast, ranging from meats and produce, to prepared meals, appetizers, snacks and desserts.  While competitively priced, a portion of every purchase comes back to the host organization.  At our school, a dedicated staff of volunteers unloads the delivery truck on pick-up day, organizes the food by category, and helps patrons fill their orders and load their cars. 

My family and I have discovered several Market Day products that we can’t imagine life without.  Lots of people swear by their meats, but I generally go for the products I can use for a quick meal because, face it, it’s nice to have something in the freezer you can turn to in a pinch.  Here are our faves:

Cheese Lasagna Rollups:  I will never make lasagna from scratch again.  These come a dozen in a package, lasagna noodles rolled around the cheese mixture into cute little compact packages:  place them in a baking dish with your own sauce (sometimes we add sausage), cover with mozzarella, and bake.  No more mixing ricotta, parmesan and egg, boiling the noodles, layering, etc.  With our own sauce, this tastes no different than the labor-intensive homemade version.

Breakfast Skillet:  Scrambled eggs, cubed potatoes, pork sausage, onions and peppers; I love breakfast any time of day.  These come frozen in two bags (the eggs are separate).  Dump the first bag in your skillet, cover and cook five minutes; add a little water and the eggs, cover for another five minutes, and voila!  If all six of us ate this (only four will), I might have to scramble an extra egg or two to bulk it up, but even that’s nothing when I consider all of the chopping and dicing I’m avoiding.

Philly Cheese Steak Kit:  I may be from Chicago, but if I see a Philly Cheese Steak on a menu, I have a hard time convincing myself to order anything else.  So I was thrilled to find this option, which has everything you need to make four good-sized sandwiches in a matter of minutes.  Throw the frozen rolls (crusty sourdough!) into the oven at the same time you start the cheesesteaks in a skillet (they both take about five minutes).  Then I add the onions, let them simmer a few minutes, and sprinkle on the mozzarella, letting it melt.  There’s even enough meat here for us to make an extra sandwich on our own roll.

We have many other Market Day go-tos (like the Potato Skins, the Chicken Tortilla Soup, the Appetizer Loaf, many varieties of cookie dough, the PIES!), but I’d love to hear what your faves are!

Jan 6

Who only cooks once a month?  Someone with a personal chef?  A person who works in a restaurant?  Certainly not a busy mother of four Bottomless Petes who routinely insist that I, you know, feed them!  Well Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson insist that it can be done.  According to them, you can grocery shop one time, do all your prep work at once, and stock your pantry and freeze enough to feed your family every day for an entire month.

Does anyone else remember those meal prep places that were all the rage a few years back?  I went a couple of times, and it was pretty neat.  You’d gather a bunch of friends, choose from several menu selections, and read off of a recipe card as you dumped ingredients into plastic bags and containers to take home and freeze for future consumption.  Everything was prepped and ready for you to assemble.  My friends and I discussed the possibility of getting together on our own to do something like this, maybe once a month. How great it would be, we imagined, to have a ready supply of pre-made meals to draw from on those crazy evenings when baseball practice, Cub Scouts, and gymnastics all seemed to converge at once, resulting in exotic dinners of peanut butter and canned soup!  Alas, we never figured out how to do it.

But now I’ve discovered Once-a-Month Cooking:  Family Favorites, and I’m newly inspired!   The aforementioned Lagerborg and Wilson have even trademarked their Once-a-Month Cooking system, so it must work, right?  I’m learning all about their cycle method, whereby you shop for either monthly, bi-weekly or seasonal cycles, do all your prep in one day, and voila!  A freezer full of well-planned and balanced meals!  I can’t wait to get started.  The way I see it, buying in bulk for these mass prep sessions will not only save us money because we’re buying in bulk, but also because we won’t be making gratuitous trips to the grocery store, where we’re naturally tempted by all kinds of costly impulse items.  But the absolutely best part is that I don’t have to figure out how to do any of this on my own, because I have the book to lead me, every step of the way. Who’s with me?  C’mon!

Oct 13

We are a busy family & one of my most trusted kitchen gadgets it my crock pot. So when I need a hearty family favorite with little effort I turn to my old friend crocky & whip up some french dips paired Fries, or salad, or whatever is in the fridge & my family thinks I am the coolest!

Jenna French Dip

One roast any kind

One can beef broth

One package pot roast seasoning (I likeMckormic )

One can water

Throw all in the crock pot  minus the rolls & cheese & cook on low for 8 hours

When done shred meat & return to liquid. Fill each hoagie roll with meat & cheese. broil for a few seconds, you can also serve with onions or your mushrooms for some added kick.

 Use liquid from crock for dipping!

I serve this dish with fries & it’s always a hit :) You can serve french dips with just about anything, and since the bread fills the plate you will most likely have left over meat you can reinvent for a new meal like beef pot pie, or beef quesadillas.

Aug 24

Whether you have a child heading back to school or you’re looking for a way to save a buck & eat healthier, sacked lunches don’t have to mean pb&j! Taking your lunch saves money & your waist line, and can be fun too.

Check out some of these recepies  from www.parenting.comfor a wonderful brown bag surprise!

A colorful, super-healthy lunch choice. Spread white bean dip on a whole-wheat or spinach tortilla wrap. Layer with lettuce, sliced tomato, cheese, thinly sliced cucumber (or pickle if your child is a fan), avocado and other favorite vegetables. Roll up the tortilla. Then slice into 4 1-inch cross-sections to make the wheels.

While your child would no doubt enjoy diving into a meal of sticky sweet fruit leather, this guilt-free version offers nutrients and energy to keep her going for the second half of the school day.

Spread blueberry or strawberry-flavored cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla wrap. Top with fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries and roll tortilla.

This kid-favorite gets a healthy makeover to fuel your child’s busy body all day long. Make these the night before to save time in the morning. Top English muffin halves with jarred marinara sauce (if your child won’t object, add chopped steamed broccoli or spinach to the sauce.) Sprinkle pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Let cool, then wrap up.

Aug 18

My family loves my chicken pot pie! I get rave reviews every time I make it. It is so simple to throw together I often make it for new moms or sick friend, and get asked for the recipe every time.

So I have decided to share it with you. Sharing this will certainly strip me of my credibility as a” cook “because it is just so simple, but I am willing to risk it!

You will need:

Two store bought refrigerator pie crusts 9″

Can each of cream of Mushroom & cream of chicken

1/4 cup milk or water

Cooked chicken or turkey left over or purchased from the deli

Bag of frozen mixed veggies

One onion small & diced up

S&P

To make:

Pre  heat oven to 425

Place one pie crust in pie plate on bottom set aside

Mix soups , milk, veggies, onion, chicken & s&p to taste in bowl

Fill Pie crust

Top with second crust

Cut steam slits in top crust

Bake at 425 for 20 min or so (until crust is done & inside is bubbly)

Tips:

Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes in top crust before putting it on top

Also try Cajun seasoning instead of s&p mmmm with a kick

Mix it up & try any filling you like, you cannot go wrong when its warm & creamy between pie crust

May 7

This cooking method practiced by top chefs is the latest rage, and I had never heard of it till I watched the how-to video that came with my Foodsaver vacuum sealer appliance (which I LOVE! See my other blog post on the topic).

What a convenient, time-saving way to plan and prepare meals. It’s so much easier and they taste incredible.

Basically the process is this: you place your food and ingredients in airtight plastic bags and then simmer them  in hot water below boiling point till done. The result is a tasty, juicy, flavor-infused dish that doesn’t doesn’t lose any of its original appearance or texture.

The drawback is that you need to keep an eye on the water temperature and make sure it stays constant.

But a plus is you can prepare a bunch of meals in advance (vacuum sealing seals out air, so they stay fresh) and have them ready when you are.

I’ll scout out some good recipes and let you know the results I’ve gotten soon.