Monday, November 29, 2010

The Plan: Monday

Before I launch into tonight's dinner, I have some pictures from last week and some humble pie.

May I present: the world's flattest and ugliest cookies.


I am sure you are looking at these and thinking, well hey maybe they taste good. Though they were a hit at work, my father, whom I have never seen turn his nose up to a cookie, threw half of his away. Gasp! 

So what happened? I have to admit I am a little intimidated by my stand mixer. Now I grew up in a household where we had home baked cookies on a weekly basis (Could that be why I was so chubby?!), but my mother did all her mixing by hand. 

I registered for the stand mixer because I was enamored by it. Yes, I had a crush on stand mixers. But now using it....well....I'm scared. I don't know how to work it. Manatee claims some knowledge but only enough to be dangerous. 

In this particular episode, I poured the ingredients in and missed the pour-in-spout-thingy. I think that all of the baking powder got spilled which led to these abnormally flat cookies.  

Any advice on conquering the stand mixer?

Also, before launching into tonight's dinner, a much happier picture.

This was my spaghetti squash/spaghetti dish. I highly recommend mixing spaghetti squash with whole wheat noodles. I topped it with marinara, eggplant, onions, mushrooms and chicken sausage, but any kind of pasta sauce would be good. It's nice way to cut back on carbs and get more veggies in your diet. 

And last but not least, Monday Night on the Plan.

So the original recipe was called 'Easy Chicken Terriyaki.' Because of my ego, I am going to dub this recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Terriyaki.

4 chicken breasts
1 cup of terriyaki sauce
20 oz can of pineapple chunks
2 red peppers diced into 1 inch squares
2 green peppers diced into 1 inch squares
dash of ground ginger

*Next time I would also add an onion

1. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker plus 1 can of water or enough water to cover all the ingredients.
2. Cook on low 8-10 hours.
3. I got home about 8 hours into the cooking. I removed the chicken, shredded it and then returned it to the slow cooker and let it keep cooking while I made brown rice.
4. Serve over rice

We had it with a romaine, apple and golden raisin salad with a ginger lime vinaigrette that I made. It was pretty bland. Not sure if it was the dressing or the 2 week old romaine lettuce. I am going to let the flavors mix together more and see if it's any better tomorrow night. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Following the Plan

So the holidays have officially begun and this is going be a crazy week. I did a lot of cooking last week but never managed to snap any pictures. But to report on last week's recipes: the meat pies- the pie part of the meat pies was very disappointment but the meat filling plus the sauce in lettuce wraps= huge success. That recipe will resurface as a lettuce wrap recipe. Also to report from last week, I went with the blue cheese ball and it was amazing. If someone would have just given me a spoon and that cheese ball, I would have had a happy thanksgiving. That recipe will also return when I make it again and remember to take a picture. I may also make some tweaks.

This week's plan was based on efficiancy and knowing I have some long days this week so the slow cooker will get plenty of use. I also have some very sexy not sexy recipes. See if you can pick them out. :) You will also notice the attempt to re-use side dishes.

Monday: Easy Terriyaki Chicken with Brown Rice

Tuesday: Fall Vegetable Curry with Brown Rice

Wednesday: Verde Chicken Enchiladas with (you guessed it) Brown Rice

Thursday: Moroccan Braised Beef with Quinoa (surprised you, didn't I?)

Friday: leftovers/ going out

Sweets for the week: Pumpkin Oat Bars

My 'Tweaking' recipe this week is the Easy Terriyaki Chicken. This was something I made a lot in graduate school and I am going to add some vegetables to it. I will report on how it turned out later this week.

Manatee and I are also starting a new routine, or restarting an old routine. We are going to do another round of P90x. I thought I would mention it here in efforts to be held accountable (to all three of you who read this). I will keep you posted on our progress- not in any embarrasing pictures or testimonials but probably in scales of how sore I am. Like, today I was too sore to pour my soy milk or yesterday I was so sore I couldn't dice an onion, important bench marks like that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Plan: Over the Holidays

Entering into the holidays, I am easing up this week on cooking. Last night we made a bean and sausage dish that was perfect for a cold night.

This is a little cheap because I found the recipe on another blog (thank you missyween) so I didn't have to retype it. You will find it below. I subbed in turkey kielbasa and also added a chopped tomato.  I served it with a spinach salad and crusty sourdough bread.

I may be committing a major blog foul and I apologize....but I am still doing it. Too much to do today and it really is a share worthy recipe.

This week on The Plan:

Tonight will be our willy nilly throw it together recipe. I am making spaghetti squash and whole wheat spaghetti. I will mix them together but I think Manatee will probably just have the squash.

For a sauce, I have a bottle of low cal marinara. I am also going to mix in chicken sausage, onions, mushrooms, eggplant and zucchini. 

Tomorrow night I am going to make meat pies and buttermilk dipping sauce. Okay, it actually has a much fancier name but essentially that's what it is. It's from my Food and Wine cookbook. I am making extra meat so we can use it for lettuce rolls for the rest of the week.

For sweets, I am going to try to make whole wheat chocolate chip cookies and apple butter.

After tomorrow night, I am going to stop the meal cooking and start preparing the stuff I volunteered to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. I am definitely bringing two pumpkin pies, a salad and goat cheese with dried cranberries and pistachios.

For my second appetizer, I am trying to decide between vegetarian chopped liver (made with toasted walnuts and mushrooms) or a blue cheese ball with walnuts and dates. Thoughts anyone?

Here is the pirated recipe:

Black Beans and Sausage
serves 4       total cooking time: 40 minutes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Kielbasa or other smoked sausage cut into one inch pieces 
3 medium carrots, diced small
2 shallots, diced small
coarse salt, ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced……or six if it’s the Weens
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken broth
3 TB chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
1/4 cup plain yogurt, for serving
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides.  About 8 minutes.Transfer to a plate.
Add carrots and shallots to the skillet, and cook until beginning to soften.  About 4 minutes.
season with salt and pepper.
Add bardic and cook until fragrant.   about one minute.
Add black beans and broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Add sausage, reduce heat to a rapid simmer, and cook until carrots are tender.   About 12 minutes.
Remove  from heat, stir in parsley, serve with more parsley and a dollop of yogurt.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Recipe Riffing- Mushroom Cheese Bread

After a week and a half of planning our meals based on recipes, I was feeling a little less than fulfilled. I missed the improv of coming home and trying to make a meal out of what I had, the creativity of not following a recipe. So I have decided to amend my original plan of planning meals with the caveat that at least one meal would be making doing with ingredients or riffing on a beloved recipe.

This week I got the opportunity because I realized, well actually Manatee realized, that my schedule for the week was insane and what was even crazier was the thought of pulling together a four course from scratch meal for my book club. He pleaded with me to 'just order a pizza for the love of God.' I think he was thinking Pizza Hut but I of course went ahead with Roman Candle. I mean, if you are going to order pizza, then at least do something good!

But of course I couldn't just do that, I also had to make something so I decided to make the mushroom bread of yore. But then was thinking more about it and I had some Romano cheese I wanted to use up and Manatee wasn't a big Swiss cheese fan so I decided to amend the recipe slightly and I have to say it I was really pleased with the result.

I, unfortunately, don't have pictures because my book club (and Manatee when he got home) devoured it, but I will provide the recipe. Now, given my crazy schedule, I was literally throwing spices into the sauce so I made changes to the ratios but don't have exact measurements so I will try to do approximations.


1 round loaf bread (preferably day old ot make it easier to cut but doesn't have to be)
8 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
8 oz. shredded Mozzzarella cheese
3-4 oz. shredded Romano Cheese
approx. 1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1 pear- cut into matchsticks and then cut those in half
6 oz. baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
6 oz. regular mushrooms coursely chopped

3/4 cup butter
2 parts poppyseeds (1-1 1/2 Tbsp)
1 part ground mustard
1 part season salt
2 parts lemon juice
3 green onions, finely chopped

  1. Mix together cheeses, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and pear in a bowl.
  2. Cut the bread in diagnol rows and then cross hatch to you have 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes. Go almost to the bottom but make sure it is still attached. guests will need to pull apart the bread.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Place bread on foil. Stuff ingredients into the bread. Fill in all crevices.
  5. Melt sauce ingredients in a saucepan. As soon as butter is melted, remove from stove and pour over bread.
  6. Wrap bread with foil. At this point, really work to get the bread back into a round shape by pulling the foil tight across it.
  7. Put bread on cookie sheet and bake 40 minutes at 350.
  8. Remove, Unwrap and Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Super Sexy Not Sexy Recipe

Confession: I love shredded lettuce. Like love-love-LOVE shredded lettuce. It's weird and I don't admit it to anyone--well at least not in person--but I love it so much I look for recipes where I can justify eating shredded lettuce. My enchiladas are one of those recipes.

If you recall from the last week, enchiladas equaled bitter disappointment. Well this time I managed to turn the slow cooker on and it worked surprisingly better.

There is nothing sexy about this recipe. No hidden ingredients, it's not even close to authentic and takes little to no talent to make. Well I like to brag about more complex recipes, I like to make (and eat) these kind of recipes.

The Super Sexy Not Sexy Enchiladas

3 10 oz cans of enchilada sauce
1 small can of chiles
1 lb of chicken breasts

*I recommend whole wheat tortillas, Manatee and I really like the low carb, high fiber kind (I did warn you that this was NOT an authentic enchilada recipe)
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
Reduced Fat Mexican Blend Cheese

In the morning, combine enchilada sauce, chiles and chicken in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. *I added two cans of water because I knew I would be going to the gym after work. Do you know what's worse than forgetting to turn the slow cooker on? Having it dry out. Much harder to clean afterwards.

When you get home for the day, pull out the chicken into a bowl and shred.

Preheat oven to 350.

Take out 1 2/3 cups of slow cooker sauce and put in large bowl. Add chicken and beans.

Take about 1 cup of sauce and spread in a pan (coated in cooking spray).

On a plate, put 1/3 cup of chicken mixture in middle of tortilla and roll up. Place enchilada seam side down in the pan.

Pour remaining sauce over top the enchiladas and top with approx. 1 cup of cheese.

Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-8 minutes.

I served them with brown rice, shredded lettuce (yum!) and fat free Greek Yogurt.

Some notes:
You have a few options here. The recipe book suggested splitting between 2 8 inch square pans and freezing one pan. I didn't have an 8 inch square pan so I made 1 11x7 pan. I had some chicken mixture leftover so I saved it for Manatee to use on his salads this week.

This second picture looks super yellow- it was the setting I used, I swear. ;)

So because I am not without a sliver of an ego, here are some pictures from a more complex and more brag-worthy recipe: Pumpkin doughnut muffins. I think it will become a staple of guests and brunches so the recipe will follow in upcoming posts.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And then there are days...

When you burn the puff pastry, miss a step in the recipe and burn your finger, all within about 2 minutes of each other.


Sometime I think Martha Stewart is sadistic and purposefully lays out her recipes so you miss one vital part.

I would write more but it is hard to type with a blistered index finger.

This is post is dedicated to anyone who has screwed up a recipe, burned a body part or burned puff pastry, that evil delicately-layered bakery item. To all the REAL cooks out there: You're not alone and don't give up. For those who claim they never mess up, you're lying.

With love,
Badger Girl

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Plan: Final Day

We made it through the week. The only hang up we had with 'the plan' was when I forgot to turn on the slow cooker for our enchiladas. Manatee saved the day by taking me out for Mexican food.

I have to admit that I was so hungry last night that I did not take the time to take a picture before eating. :)

Talking with Manatee, he claimed this was not a huge change from our normal routine because I usually cook a lot during the week. For me though, this was huge. It was so much easier having everything planned out and the grocery list in my wallet. It also made my lunches easier as I always had leftovers.

Next week will be a little tough as we have plans every single night but none of them include dinner. I mapped out our plan and we are really going to utilize the slow cooker. Here is our plan of attack:

Mushroom and Pecorino  Tart
Tomato Pesto Crockpot Soup


Leftover Soup
(We have a knife skills class and I know we will get turkey sandwiches at some point in the evening so we won't need much before)

Slow Cooker Paella and Spanish Tortilla (hosting my bookclub)

Leftovers/Chicken Sausage Ravioli

Sweet for the week: Pumpkin doughnut muffins which I am going to take a brunch we are going to go on Sunday.

I will continue to keep you posted. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Plan: Day 3

What is the most important step when cooking something in the slow cooker?

Turning the slow cooker on before you leave for work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Plan: Day 2

Day 2 and we are still with The Plan. Manatee claimed this was one of my bests. The sherry gives this black bean soup a lot of flavor. Though it was one of the best tasting, I will warn you, it is one of the worst looking things I have ever made.

I also discovered what happens when the lid is not secured when pureeing black beans and chicken broth. Luckily Manatee did not make the same discovery. I was able to hide it well when he walked in the room. I swear he has something against the food processor. This may be because of what happened when we bought it.
Me (gazing lovingly at the Cuisinart): I want this one.
Manatee (doing a double take): Are you stroking that food processor?
Me: Um...(cough) No (voice higher than normal) don't be ridiculous (cough).

Here's the recipe and picture.

I told you it wasn't pretty.

Black Bean Soup with Sherry

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 15 1/2 oz cans black beans, including liquid
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup dry sherry

Heat the oil in a 4-5 quart pot over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Puree the chicken broth and 1 can of beans (and liquid). Make sure the top is secured!!

Add cumin and oregano to onion mixture. Cook 1 minute.

Add tomato paste. Cook 1 minute.

Add bean puree and can of beans (and liquid) and cook 10 minutes (until flavors meld).

Stir in sherry. Add salt and pepper to season.

We also squeezed lime juice over our individual bowls.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Plan: Day 1

Well, I didn't get off to a great start seeing how I did not bake cookies yesterday, but I made up for it tonight. I made the salmon AND the cookies. :)

Five-spice-glazed Salmon
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder
4 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 large cloves of garlic minced
4 6 oz. salmon fillets
1 lb. green beans
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 tsp canola oil
2 Tbsp of toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk honey, soy sauce, five-spice powder and garlic.
Put salmon skin side down on a large plate and pour sauce over it. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Position rack 6 inches from broiler and heat it on high. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and coat with cooking spray.

In large bowl, toss green beans with canola and sesame oils. Arrange beans on one half of sheet.

Arrange salmon, skin side down, on baking sheet. Drizzle with leftover sauce.

Broil salmon and green beans for 3 minutes. Toss green beans and rearrange salmon if necessary. Broil 3 more minutes. Toss green beans with sesame seeds and lemon juice and enjoy!

This recipe was actually even easier than it seems. We loved it.

So I didn't really know what they meant by 'toasted sesame seeds' so I took it literally. I put the sesame seeds in the toaster oven. It seemed to work pretty well!

This one type A girl I know served salmon over spinach and basil. Well it was so good I had to copy her. :) I also made some brown rice and an additional spinach salad with my favorite homemade dressing. Yum!

These are our leftovers. Yummy lunches the rest of the week!

These are what my mother and I suspect to be my grandmother's recipe for chocolate sour cream cookies. We can't find her recipe but they taste just like we remember- light, fluffy and more cake than cookie. Recipe will be included at a later date. :)

Some Leftover Pictures

Here are some pictures leftover from our Halloween dinner party and a recipe.

Caramelized Onion Dip

2 Tbsp of unsalted butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 8 oz bar reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 Tbsp of chopped fresh chives

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat.
Add onions and 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper.
Cook until deep golden brown- the recipe says 30-35 minutes but that's a vicious lie. I cooked the onions for well over an hour.
Remove onions from heat and let cool.
Mix sour cream and cream cheese together.
Add cooled onions and mix well.
Fold in chives.

Serve with thick cut vegetable chips and veggies.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hold Me Accountable

Now that I am finally feeling better, I am ready to jump back into cooking. Many of my friends are far more organized than I, and they actually plan a week's worth of meals before the week starts. I have decided to follow suit. Because I don't fully trust myself, I thought I would publish my plan on the blog and hopefully be held accountable.

I am also trying to make sure I use some of my awesome cookbooks as I have tendency to rely on recipes from magazines and the internet. So here is the week's plan:

Sunday: Finish up leftovers from this weekend: Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup, Roasted Tomatoes and Homemade pizzas.

Bake some kind of cookie

5 spice glazed salmon with sesame green beans
(Fine Cooking magazine)

Black Bean Soup with Sherry
(Fine Cooking magazine)

Hearty Chicken Enchiladas
(Taste of Home Casseroles, Slower Cooker and Soup cookbook)

Beef skewers with horseradish dipping sauce
(Everyday Food Fresh Flavors Fast cookbook)

Hopefully we will go out to eat :) or we will eat leftovers

The nice thing about this plan, if I can keep to it, is I will have leftovers for lunch so I won't have to worry about buying stuff to pack my lunch.

I will keep you posted on how well Manatee and I can keep to this plan. And knowing us, with all these meals there will be salads. :)