Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Robin McGraw's Family Snack: Recipe Review

Okay, here's another helpful(?) recipe review for you and me (so that I remember what I did/would do differently).

Robin McGraw's Family Snack
original recipe here
4 C large marshmallows
1 C nut butter (I used JIF peanut butter)
5 C puffed rice cereal
1/2 C dried cranberries
1/3 C chopped pecans, toasted
1/3 C chopped cashews, toasted

Chop and toast the nuts, set aside. Add nut butter and marshmallows to a large microwaveable blowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir. Microwave for another minute, and stir. Add all other ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into a foil-lined, greased 9x13 baking pan. Press evenly into the pan. Let the bars set up, about 30 minutes.

Okay, so I increased the amount of marshmallows and nut butter, and decreased the amount of cereal and nuts. I used regular peanut butter, but when I make it again I will try the natural peanut butter - I think that the recipe needs the more liquid consistency it would have.

We thought the flavor was great, but wished that the bars were "gooey-er". (Is that a word?) Pretty tasty!

***Update: My cousin tested this one out with my adjusted measurements. She suggested using even less of the rice cereal, and putting it in a 9x9 inch pan.***

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Few Things to Note

First off, I will be basing my Beef Empanadas off of this recipe. I first had empanadas when a roommate of mine who had served an LDS mission in Argentina made them for me. We would go down to the Mercado Latino to buy the emapanada shells. She made this traditional version, but you can also use the "shells" to make your own "pizza pockets" or calzones at home.

Second, if you are looking for substitutes when a recipe calls for alcohol, check out this link. It is the most complete list I have come across. One of those things to file under "good to know" information in your personal cookbook.

And, finally, speaking of personal cookbooks . . . this is a great way to organize all of those stray recipes you may have. I have started mine. I think the greatest idea in here (well, there are a lot) is to have a list of where to find "family favorites" at the beginning of each section. Genius, good luck!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This Week's Dinner Menu

Sunday - Dinner with my family (hooray for ALL of my siblings being home!)
Monday - Smokey Chipotle and Black Bean Chilaquiles (yum-o!)
Tuesday - Chicken & Asparagus Whole Wheat Crepes
Wednesday - Beef Empanadas, Simple Salad (i.e. greens, tomatoes and onions)
Thursday - Shells & Vegetable Soup, rolls
Friday - Smokey Beef Stew with Blue Chieese and Chives, salad, rolls
Saturday - Leftovers/Eat Out

Trying this for a snack this week. Let's hope the little one likes it!

***This week's menu is a lot of meals "rolled-over" from last week. My husband's grandmother passed away, he was out of town and we were with my parents; which made for meals not cooked here at home.

Thai Chicken and Noodles

This recipe came from a ward recipe exchange. It is an untried recipe for me; but we love Thai food and, if I can make it in a crockpot, that's even better!

Thai Chicken and Noodles
1 ½ lbs. Chicken (or turkey tenderloins), cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into short thin strips
1 ¼ cups chicken broth, divided
¼ cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
3 green onions, cut into ½ inch pieces
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
12 oz. cooked vermicelli pasta
¾ cup peanuts or cashews, chopped (optional)
¾ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

Place chicken, bell pepper, 1 cup broth, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt in slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low 3 hours.

Mix cornstarch with remaining ¼ cup broth in small bowl. Turn slow cooker to High. Stir in green onions, peanut butter and cornstarch mixture. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken is no longer pink. Stir well. Serve over vermicelli. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This Week's New Recipes Review

We tried 3 new recipes this week, and didn't get to one other.

Robyn's Meatloaf
original recipe here
Other than cutting the recipe in half, I followed the preparation exactly. Then, I divided the meat mixture into sixths, rolled it in balls and put them into a muffin tin. I baked my "meatloaf muffins" at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Much faster than the called for hour and 15 minutes! We really liked this recipe, but I would recommend doubling the ketchup mixture so that you have some to serve with it. Our family likes to dip!

Chicken Tostadas
original recipe here
This one is pretty straight forward, you do what you like. I used handmade tortillas from Trader Joe's. I sprinkled the tortillas with shredded cheese, and stuck them under the broiler for a few minutes. Then, we layered refried black beans, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and salsa. I used Safeway brand Salsa Verde and it was a little spicy. It still tasted good, but it was a little spicy.

Shells & Veggies Soup
I followed this recipe but, also add 1 can of Great Northern/White beans (drained and rinsed) to the soup. When doing it again, I will cook the pasta separately and have some extra chicken broth on hand (although we may not need it if the pasta isn't absorbing cooking liquid). And, as usual, my husband said that he would like to have had some kind of MEAT in the soup.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shells & Vegetable Soup

This is another recipe from my sister, Caitlin. But, I decided that I needed a soup for this week's menu and I wanted something a little bit lighter - so here it is!

Shells and Vegetable Soup
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (14 oz.) crushed or diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped frozen spinach
1/4 cup small shell pasta
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery

1/4 cup cubed zucchini
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. fresh grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, parsley, basil and oregano to saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat , and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add spinach, carrots, celery and pasta. Cook 10 minutes covered at a low boil. Add zucchini and cook 7 more minutes. Test for doneness by forking vegetables and pasta to see if tender.

Spoon into bowl; add salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste.

Caitlin said to double the vegetables and that she thought the shells could be optional. I'll try it the way the recipe is first and, then, go from there.

***We tried this recipe and thought it was really good. I did add 1 can of Great Northern Beans (drained and rinsed), and used crushed tomatoes. And, if I had it to do over again, I would cook the pasta separately and have a little extra chicken broth on hand in case I wanted it more "brothy".***

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is April 22nd, 2008
Digging for worms with a spoon??? No problem, because these worms are gummies buried in pudding and cookie crumb dirt. Yum!

Dirt Cups
4 cups cold milk
1 package (4-serving size) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 tub (8 ounces) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
20 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, finely crushed, divided
10 paper or plastic cups (6 to 7 ounces) or dessert dishes
20 worm-shaped chewy fruit snacks

Prepare 1 package each (4-serving size) JELL-O Vanilla Instant Pudding and JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding separately, with 2 cups each cold milk, as directed on packages. Let stand 5 minutes.

Gently stir 1/2 cup of Cool Whip Whipped Topping into each bowl of pudding. Finely crush 20 Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon into bottom of 8 (6-ounce) dessert cups. Top each with 1/4 cup vanilla pudding, 1 tablespoon cookie crumbs and 1/4 cup chocolate pudding. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cookie crumbs. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Insert 2 gummy worms into each dessert cup just before serving.

Makes 8 Oreo Sand and Dirt Cups.

Other Earth Day Ideas:

*Make round sugar cookies, and decorate them like the "earth" with royal icing. When it sets up, you can take them around to your neighbors.
*Make Chocolate No-Bake Cookies, but call them "Mudpie Cookies" today.
*Try these natural Earth Day Bars for a snack.
*Recycle an egg carton into a fun craft - like a caterpillar or ladybugs.
*Go on a nature walk with your kids, or a "trash treasure hunt" to pick up trash in your neighborhood.
*Teach your children about thing we can do to help keep our earth clean and, then, you can sing this song to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus"

Recycling In My Home
Recycling in my home goes round and round, round and round, round and round. Recycling in my home goes round and round, all through the day.
Tie up the papers and take them back, take them back, take them back. Tie up the papers and take them back, all through the day.
Crush the cans and take them back.....
Rinse the milk bottles and take them back....
Save the glass and take it back......

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This Week's Dinner Menu

Sunday - Dinner with my parents. They can't get enough of my little boys, and it's so nice to have someone else worry about the food.
Monday - Robyn's Meatloaf (maybe, I'll make them meatloaf muffins), roasted new potatoes, green beans
Tuesday - Chicken Tostadas, fruit salad (yummy, yummy! Ok, I watch "The Wiggles" too much!)
Wednesday - Shells & Vegetable Soup, rolls
Thursday - Chicken & Broccoli Whole Wheat Crepes, salad
Friday - Leftovers/Eat Out
Saturday - Thai Chicken and Noodles (This is a crockpot meal. I'm so excited to try it!)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Just to Let You Know . . .

We won't be getting around to "Homemade Pizza" AGAIN this week. But, we did have take-out pizza from our favorite local place last night. I guess, anything that requires you to start it the day before should not be on my dinner menu right now.

I did, however, pick up Robin Miller's new cookbook at the library. I'm all about cooking once and eating twice. This may just save my dinner menu, I'll let you know what I think.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chicken and Lemon Potstickers: Recipe Review

Tonight, we made the "Chicken and Lemon Potstickers" from the Cooking Light website. Here's how I altered the recipe for my family and some tips.

Chicken & Lemon Pot Stickers
original recipe here
Pot stickers:
2 Tbsp apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 ounce mushrooms
3/4 cup finely chopped cabbage
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 finely chopped carrot
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Dash of hot sauce
1/2 pound ground chicken or turkey
30 wonton wrappers
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 cup water, divided

To prepare pot stickers, apple juice and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender, and liquid disappears. Finely chop mushrooms. Combine mushrooms, cabbage, and the next 9 ingredients (cabbage through turkey), stirring well. (You may want to use your hands, you know, like a meatloaf.)

Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time, spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons turkey mixture into center of each wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water; bring 2 opposite corners to center, pinching points to seal. Bring the remaining 2 corners to center, pinching points to seal. Pinch 4 edges together to seal. Place pot stickers on a large cooling rack, while you prepare the others.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add half of pot stickers; cook 2 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Carefully add 1/2 cup water to pan; cover and cook 4 minutes. Uncover and cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, pot stickers, and 1/2 cup water.

I substituted regular mushrooms and cabbage for the shitake mushrooms and bok choy, and a lesser amount of apple juice for the dry sherry. I did not use the fresh ginger and lemon rind, but added finely chopped carrots instead, and swapped out the dark sesame oil for regular vegetable oil. I used a 1/2 Tbsp measure for each pot sticker, this made me 30 potstickers instead of the 24 that the recipe says it will. The first round of pot stickers was a little "black" on the bottom. So, the next round, I skipped the oil; opting for cooking spray instead. If you do this, make sure that you let the bottoms get really crispy before adding the water. I, also, opted for a different dipping sauce, the recipe is below.

Sweet Asian Dipping Sauce
1/2 C red jalapeno jelly
1/4 C rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Heat jalapeno jelly in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Whisk in rice vinegar and soy sauce.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Simple Baked Pasta

My husband actually named one of my baking dishes after this recipe, because that was all I used it for when we were first married. I had forgotten about this recipe, but came across it again in a recipe swap.

Simple Baked Pasta
1 jar spaghetti sauce, flavor of your choice
1 jar water
1 lb pasta, your choice of type
shredded cheese

Put pasta into a 9x13 inch (or in our case, 7x11) baking dish. Pour sauce over the top. Fill jar with water and pour over the pasta. Stir together. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, until the noodles are tender. Top with cheese, and return to oven to melt.

Wah-la! You're done! I suppose that you could also add pre-browned meat to the casserole, but I have never experimented with that one.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Baker-Style Tostadas

This is how my husband's family does tostadas. You can easily make a "something for everyone" meal out of it, by offering Tacos or Tostadas.

Baker-Style Tostadas
1 lb ground beef (or meat of choice)
taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
tortilla chips
cheese, shredded
lettuce, shredded
tomatoes, chopped
sour cream

Brown beef, and drain. Season with taco seasoning. Mix in refried beans. Layer chips on the bottom, with meat mixture on top. Then, add whatever toppings you would like.

You can also leave the meat and refried beans seperate. Serve tortillas or taco shells, and let everyone choose what they would like.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This Week's Dinner Menu

Sunday - Breakfast: Leftover Cinnamon Rolls, Dinner: My wonderful mother is making Sunday dinner for us this week
Monday - Tacos or Baker-style Tostadas
Tuesday - Simple Baked Pasta, salad, broccolini (I know we're going wild here!), rolls
Wednesday - Chicken and Lemon Potstickers, Sweet Asian Dipping Sauce, Lo Mein noodles
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Homemade Pizza (I know, third week. Maybe I'll make it this time.)
Saturday - Cheesy Beef-and-Rice Casserole (an old "newlywed" favorite, you can prep it way ahead of time), corn, fruit salad

*As we finished up this week's dinner menu, my husband informed me that he didn't like Cheesy Beef-and-Rice Casserole. Not just didn't like anymore, but doesn't remember ever really liking it. I, however, have fond memories of the dish. (4/19/08)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Whole Wheat Crepes: Recipe Review

We tried my friend's Whole Wheat Crepe recipe tonight. All-in-all, I thought it was delicious. Mine did not turn out nearly as beautiful as hers, but she is a photographer.

Whole Wheat Crepes
>3/4 c. milk
3/4 c. water
1 c. flour (I used about 2/3 wheat flour, 1/3 white flour)
2 tbs butter, melted
3 eggs
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together. Let sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour, if you have the time. The batter is very thin. Pour on a buttered crepe pan if you have one, if not, any flattish non-stick will do. Tilt the pan from side to side in a circular motion so the batter thinly covers the bottom of the pan. Flip it when light brown.

I diced up chicken and asparagus, and sauted those in a little oil. Added some store-bought pesto and alfredo sauce for some "creaminess". It was so delicious. My son ate his crepe ala-carte with the filling on the side. Then, we had leftover batter which we used for DESSERT CREPES. I put out Nutella, sliced strawberries and whipped cream. It was a "make your own dessert" night.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Anniversary Chicken

This recipe comes from my MBA Spouse Association Cookbook.
Anniversary Chicken
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 C teriyaki basting sauce
1/2 C ranch-style salad dressing
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions
1/2 (3oz) can bacon bits
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and saute for 4-5 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Place browned chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush with teriyaki sauce, then spoon on salad dressing. Sprinkle with cheese, green onions, and bacon bits. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Garnish with parsley and serve.

We will also marinate the chicken in teriyaki sauce for a couple hours prior to starting the recipe.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

This Week's Menu

Sunday - Breakfast: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (ala mother-in-law), Dinner: Anniversary Chicken, broccoli and cauliflower, salad
Monday - Fish, California Citrus Salad
Tuesday - Homemade Pizza (we didn't get to it, I forgot I had Enrichment last week)
Wednesday - Whole Wheat Crepes (Trying out a friend's recipe, p.s. she is an amazing photographer based in Utah.)
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Bscon-Makes-It-Better Corn Chowder
Saturday - still thinking . . .

I've hit the wall. I am at a complete loss as to what I "want" to eat. Maybe a menu driven by "pregnancy-cravings" isn't so bad? And we don't have another holiday that I can plan my food around until Cinco de Mayo. Ahh!

This Week's New Recipes Review

Well, we tried two new recipes this week. And, overall, they were pretty good. With some slight alterations to fit our taste, they could be great!

Cheesy Baked Mexi-Rigatoni
original recipe here
This was a great recipe. I swapped out an orange bell pepper for the 2 Anaheim peppers. (Mostly, because the grocer forgot to deliver them to me). I also felt like there was a lot of pasta, and I would have liked it a little "saucier". So next time, I will be cutting the pasta down to 1/2 -3/4 of a pound instead.

Creamy Pasta Primavera
original recipe here
We really like the flavor of this recipe, but my husband wanted it to have more sauce. (I guess, we like saucy pasta). I would try doubling the chicken broth and the cream cheese. I would also add a little more italian dressing at the end to "flavor-up" the sauce. I shook extra parmesan cheese on top of my individual servings.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Save Yourself a Couple Bucks

Here is one of my husband's favorite breakfasts. He especially appreciates it when I wake up at 5:45am to make it before he leaves for work.

Breakfast Sandwich
1 english muffin
1 egg
splash of milk
choice of meat (sausage, bacon, ham, etc.)
slice of cheese

Scramble egg with milk. Pour into warmed 8" skillet. Let cook until center is set. Fold in quarters once cooked. Toast english muffin. When muffin is toasted, place slice of cheese on it to melt. Layer half of muffin, cheese, meat, egg, and second half of muffin.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Last night, my husband, son and mother-in-law were going out for a walk. My mother-in-law offered to stay home and do something for dinner. I said we were fine because dinner was in the crock pot already.

Then, as I was chopping lettuce, tomatoes and various other things for accompaniments; this thought crossed my mind. "I love preparing food for my family." I guess, that's when I realized that for me food is love. Having dinner on the table when my husband gets home from work so that we can all gather together is important to me. It gives us the opportunity to be together immediately with the people we love the most. It also gives me the opportunity to shape my children's lives - not only the eating habits that they are developing, but their sense of self worth.

I hope that as they grow my boys will know how much their parents love them. And that through our family dinners they will learn and grow.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken

My deepest apologies for the delay in posting this recipe. I realize tonight as I was preparing dinner that I didn't have it up yet.
This recipe is from "101 Things to do with a Crockpot" via my "Meal Swap" friend. Super easy to make and very versatile. This can be burrito filling, taco salad topping, nacho topping, or served more like a stew.
Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 can (15 ounces) corn, drained
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
1 package taco seasoning
½ cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Place chicken in greased crock-pot. Pour broth, salsa, corn, beans, and taco seasoning over chicken. Cover and cook on low heat 6-8 hours or on high heat 3-4 hours. Once cooked, shred chicken. Then, stir in sour cream and cheese. Serve with flour tortillas or chips.

Makes 3-5 servings.

I have made this recipe in the oven instead of crockpot, because I didn't have the time. I followed all instructions and baked it at 350* for about an hour.


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