What’s on the Menu? 9/12-9/18

Menu planning. Most of the time I hate it. HATE. I hadn’t had a lot of time to cook, so I kept filling up my meal plans with easy, semi-homemade stuff. It was depressing me.

Then I decided, for the sake of my sanity, to make time. Until my next round of finals. ūüôā

Monday 9/12-          Leftovers from Sunday 9/11 (Chicken and Dumplings!)

Tuesday 9/13           Pressed Caprese Sandwiches and salad

Wednesday 9/14 ¬† ¬† “Leftover” caprese sandwiches w/ baked potatoes (We’ll actually make the sandwiches fresh, we’ll just have enough ingredients to have them two days in a row.)

Thursday 9/15         Blue Cheese Pasta and garlic bread

Friday  9/16              Leftovers

Saturday 9/17 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Chad’s family reunion (I’m making (caramel apple? pumpkin spice?) cupcakes, he’s making chili)

Sunday   9/18          Stromboli 

 

My main goal when I make a meal plan is to make stuff that I know will result in leftovers. Either we have them for lunch the next day, or we have them the next evening, so really I’m only cooking three or four days of the week. Plus, on some nights, I con Chad into cooking and just give him the recipe. And that is why I married someone who can cook. (I kid, I kid–he’s kind of awesome in other ways as well.)

How do you do your meal planning?

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Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

I love potatoes, in pretty much any form. French fries, baked potatoes, and now–roasted potatoes. It’s really becoming a problem.

The great thing about this specific recipe (which was a huge hit in my house) is how adaptable it is. Don’t like Rosemary? Sub in whatever spices/seasonings you want. I think next time we’ll try oregano. ūüôā

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher flake salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 pounds red potatoes, cut into chunks. Ideally you would quarter them, but my potatoes were giant, I had to cut them more.

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a large bowl, toss potatoes, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Make sure potatoes are spread out in a single layer.

3) Roast potatoes until they are brown and crisp, about an hour. Flip potatoes every 20 minutes until they’re done to ensure they brown evenly.

DH loved, loved, loved this recipe. I loved that it was super easy and pretty tasty. I served it with some grilled chicken (recipe to come later) and a simple salad, and it was a perfect weeknight dinner!

Recipe from Ina Garten.

Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese

For some reason I have a tendency to latch on to a particular flavor combination. For a while it was spinach, diced tomato, and feta cheese. Before that I was on some kind of southwestern kick. Now, it’s blue cheese.

I had forgotten how much I loved blue cheese until I had the Pioneer Woman’s blue cheese pasta several months ago. Before that, it had been years since I’d had blue cheese. Now I can’t use it enough.

I haven’t had very good luck with macaroni and cheese in the past. I grew up on the blue box and while I still love it, in all it’s processed and unhealthy goodness, I rarely eat it for those very reasons. My homemade attempts have been okay, but none of them have reheated very well. Because of that, I almost didn’t try this recipe–but thank goodness I did.

Blue Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

1 pound macaroni pasta (I used shells, but you can use your favorite)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups blue cheese, crumbled
Red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish. 13×9 inches is preferable, but it can be¬†separated¬†into two smaller baking dishes is¬†necessary.

2) Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and save for later.

3) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the flour,¬†stirring¬†constantly, to make a roux. Make sure not to burn the flour. **If you’ve never made a roux, don’t be surprised to see the flour kind of clump up. This will help thicken the cheese mixture later.**

4) Gradually add the milk and cream, whisking them into the flour mixture. Simmer until mixture thickens, whisking constantly.

5) Reduce heat to low and add cheese (reserving 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese for topping), a small handful at a time. Whisk until all cheese had been added and is melted. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

6) Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and stir to coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan(s) and top with reserved cheddar cheese. Bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling, 20-25 minutes.

This mac and cheese is delicious. If you’re not a huge blue cheese fan, you can always sub in more cheddar and less blue cheese, but the salty tang of the blue cheese is what makes this dish so good. It’s not an overwhelming flavor, it’s just enough to make this dish something a little special.

The leftovers were good, too. It reheats really well, and the cheese is almost as smooth as the first day it’s made.

¬†This makes way too much for two people, so if you don’t want to eat the leftovers (as good as they are) for a week, I would halve the recipe.

One tip: Make sure you get good, block cheese and shred/crumble it yourself. The pre-shredded stuff does not melt as well.

Adapted from THIS recipe.

Spicy Bean Burritos

Another recipe from Annie’s Eats! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, what are you waiting for? Go! Really.

This recipe caught my eye because I happened to have a small stockpile of black beans in my cabinet. This happens when you don’t eat meat–somehow you manage to accumulate a ton of beans. Or maybe it’s just me and I’m crazy. Who knows. ūüôā

Either way, this was a good way to get rid of the beans, and Chad happened to love it. Plus it’s another easy dinner meal, so definitely a win-win.

Spicy Bean Burritos

Ingredients

For the bean filling:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¬ľ teaspoon kosher salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water
2 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
6 Tablespoons fresh salsa
To assemble:

6 (10-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
Shredded cheese
Diced tomatoes
Shredded lettuce
Chopped green onions
Low-fat sour cream

1) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute, until fragrant.

2) Add the beans and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3) Remove skillet from heat, add salsa, and mash mixture with a fork.

4) Spoon about 1/3 of a cup of the mixture down the center of the tortilla and garnish with cheese, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, and extra salsa. Roll up burrito style and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Annie’s.

Like I said, Chad loved this recipe. I was not a huge fan, but it wasn’t because of the flavors. I’m weird about textures, and even though I mashed the beans, there were still chunks. It just weirded me out. I think if I make it again I might puree the filling to make it smooth.

But don’t let my texture craziness keep you from trying the recipe. The flavors were really good. Enjoy!


Easy Pizza Roll-Up

I found a new way to eat pizza! I know, I’m probably behind the rest of the world, but I was really excited about this.

This is a fast, easy recipe, and perfect for a weeknight.

**This recipe has been done a million times by a million people and I based mine off of a random picture that I saw online. I don’t know where the recipe originally came from.**

Pizza Roll-Up

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (homemade or refrigerated)
6 oz tomato paste
oregano
red pepper flakes
pepperoni
Italian cheese
banana peppers
spinach
whatever other pizza toppings you like!
olive oil
Parmesan cheese, grated

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roll pizza dough into a rectangle.

2) Top dough with tomato paste, oregano, red pepper flakes, pepperoni, cheese, banana peppers, and spinach. Make sure you line the toppings up so each layer has a little of each.

3) Starting with one of the two smaller ends of the dough, roll into a log. Brush top with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese. Cut two or three lines in the top of the pizza log with a knife.

4) Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the pizza dough is brown and crisp. Check the middle to make sure the dough is cooked through. Enjoy!

Super good dinner, and very adaptable. You can easily make it vegetarian or vegan (they make vegan “cheese”!) and it’s definitely a crowd pleaser. We made it for dinner, but I think it would be a fun, easy party appetizer too.

Cherry Banana Smoothies

I love smoothies. When I went to St. Joe they had this little place on campus where you could get the most delicious smoothies in all kinds of different flavors. I miss that place.

I’ve never really tried to make smoothies at home before because they just seemed like an inconvenience. But I was bored the other day and I had some frozen fruit to use up, so I gave it a shot.

The first smoothie I made was a combo of yogurt, milk, strawberries, melon, spinach, and some other random frozen fruit. It was okay, but not amazing.

The second time, I kept it simple and came up with this:

Cherry Banana Smoothies

Ingredients:

Frozen cherries
1 ripe banana
milk

There are no measurements because I honestly just threw everything into a blender until it looked like it would be enough for two people. I guess I did manage to eyeball it pretty well since it made just enough for both me and Chad to have a small glass. And it was delicious.

I like this version much better than the first (which is why I’m not posting the first). I don’t love yogurt in smoothies, so maybe that was the issue. The spinach in the first one was fine, you couldn’t even tell it was there, so add that in if you want!

Red Pepper and Mozzarella Panini

One of my favorite things in the kitchen is the George Foreman grill that Chad and I got for Christmas a couple years ago. It has the removable grill plates and we use it to make tons of things: quesadillas, grilled whatever, and now: Red pepper and mozzarella panini.

I didn’t even realize we could use the George Foreman as a panini press until Chad told me. Clearly, while I love the thing, I am not the one in the household who uses it. Chad is in charge of all things grilled. Or, in this case, pressed?

Regardless, this is an incredibly fast, easy, delicious meal. We paired it with a simple salad and it was the perfect meal to curl up with on the couch and watch some television. (Yes, I just admitted that we ate dinner on the couch and not at the dinner table.) ūüôā

Red Pepper and Mozzarella Panini

Ingredients

Crusty bread
Extra virgin olive oil (to brush on outside of bread)
Sliced mozzarella
Spinach
Red peppers
Oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes

1) Slice bread to about 1/2 inch thickness. Arrange ingredients between slices, brush outsides of bread with olive oil, and press until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty.

2) Serve warm. Delicious!

**There are no quantities listed in the ingredients because it all depends on the size of your bread and how much you want to stuff into it.

I left the peppers off mine (I’m not a big fan) and added a little blue cheese for some extra flavor.

We’ll definitely keep making these, and just pair them with different sides. I think they’d be great with soup for another easy meal.


Mexican Casserole

I love Mexican food. Love it. Of course, what I make at home never quite lives up to my favorite restaurant meal (a vegetarian option that is to die for), but I’ll take what I can get.

I made this recipe a few weeks ago when I was in the middle of finals. I had intentionally saved it for a busy night because it’s so easy to make, and it definitely did not disappoint. It came together in less than half an hour and was really a great, easy dinner.

Mexican Casserole

Ingredients

16 oz refried beans
1/2 cup diced onion
5 10-inch flour tortillas
1 cup salsa
2 cups Colby Jack cheese

**extra salsa, sour cream, and green onions for garnish**

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare pie pan by spraying the bottom with cooking spray.

2) In a medium saucepan, cook refried beans with onions just until heated through (about 5 minutes).

3) Put one tortilla in pie pan. Spread with bean/onion mixture and place two spoonfuls of salsa on top of that. Sprinkle some cheese on top of salsa.

4) Repeat layers until pie is assembled, then top with remaining salsa and cheese.

5) Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Recipe adapted from this one.

 

Delicious!

I used whole wheat tortillas instead of flour. And next time I’ll sub in diced green chiles for the onions–I’m just not a big fan of onions unless they’re really well hidden in things.

If you want to make this for any vegetarians, make sure you grab the vegetarian refried beans. I had no idea they existed until I stopped eating meat, I just took for granted that all refried beans would be vegetarian, but that is definitely not the case.

I’ll keep this recipe around for for my next crazed finals week.


Veggie Ranch Pizza

We probably all know those people who like to dip their pizza in ranch dressing. Or maybe I just know particularly unique people. Either way, I stumbled across this recipe, immediately thought of a friend I went to college with who LOVED ranch on pizza, and I was curious.

In this case, the red sauce is left off the pizza and the ranch is used as the pizza sauce, not just a dipping accompaniment. Throw on some fresh veggies and lots of cheese and what could possibly go wrong?

Veggie Ranch Pizza

Ingredients

1 unbaked pizza crust
1 1/2 cups ranch salad dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped cauliflower
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Place pizza crust on baking sheet. Spread ranch dressing over the top of the crust. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, followed by all the veggies.

3) Top with mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

4) Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until cheese is melted, veggies are soft, and crust is brown and crisp.

Recipe adapted from THIS one.

The only adjustment that I really made was that I just put a thin layer of ranch on the crust, so I didn’t use a whole 1 1/2 cups. That seemed excessive to me.

This pizza would have been amazing–except I’ve discovered that I have never outgrown my hatred for warm cauliflower. I love the stuff cold, it’s delicious, but cooked cauliflower is awful.

Chad thought the recipe was okay. I believe his exact words were that it was “definitely interesting”, so I’ll count that as husband approved.

We might make this again, but I’ll definitely switch up the veggies. And I do not anticipate that I’ll start dipping my normal pizza in ranch. I’ll save that for french fries. ūüôā

 

 


Sour Cream Enchiladas

I had been dying to try this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. She is the same person who is responsible for the amazing blue cheese pasta recipe that I posted a while ago.

The pictures for these enchiladas looked amazing, the recipe sounded great. The only reason I put off making this recipe is because it seemed so unhealthy. But sometimes a girl gets to splurge.

Sour Cream Enchiladas

Ingredients

12 corn tortillas
Canola oil, enough to fry tortillas
20 oz enchilada sauce
2 cups sour cream (plus extra for garnish if you want)
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Mix sour cream, onions, cumin, cayenne pepper, and 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese together in a bowl.

3) Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Also heat enchilada sauce in separate pan over low heat.

4) Once the oil is hot enough, fry tortillas one at a time, for about 5-10 seconds on each side. Tortillas should not completely crisp.

5) Remove tortilla from oil, dip in enchilada sauce, and place on a cutting board. Spoon a couple tablespoons of the sour cream mix into the tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down into a 9X13 inch baking pan. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried and filled.

6) Sprinkle the enchiladas with the rest of the cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes. The enchiladas are done with the cheese it melted and bubbly.

7) Garnish with some diced green onion and enjoy!

Original Recipe Here.

I’m going to be honest–I did not love this recipe. Even with the frying, the texture of the tortillas was strange. Weird textures bother me…I’m kind of picky that way.

Overall these enchiladas were alright, but not amazing. Maybe I was expecting too much after the pasta recipe? Who knows. Either way, I might make this one again, but it won’t be added into our normal rotation anytime soon.