Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meals for the Week of October 24, 2011

In my most recent cooking class, I had the students in groups making different after school snacks.  I wanted to share the resources I gave them for inspiration.  One was a list of 50 After School Snacks from Food Network Magazine.  In class we did #3, a fruit dip but I had them use Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream.  I also used this article from Parenting- 22 Healthy After School Snacks.  I really liked #16, the graham crackers with cream cheese and strawberry jam.

So this week I have recipes that are a little less Mexican and a bit more Asian inspired.  I also have some good vegetarian meals and a few seafood, which I think I had been lacking lately.  Next week I will start sprinkling in a few holiday side dish and dessert ideas so if you are looking for new recipes for the holidays you can have some time to look them over or try them.

Recipes for the week of October 24, 2011

Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps- The thing about recipes from Cook’s Illustrated is that they have fairly detailed instructions and there is a reason for that.  They have tested the recipe many times and come up with what they believe to be the best results.  Don’t be afraid of their recipes, you will most likely learn a cooking technique that you can then apply to other meals.  So give this healthy recipe a try.

Asian Noodle Bowls with Steak and Snow Peas- Very simple recipe with just a few ingredients.  Most supermarkets have expanded Asian food section so you can find soba noodles there.
Tortilla Pie- I like that you can just take this concept and change the ingredients to suit your tastes.  You can easily make this vegetarian with beans and veggies.

Pork Chop Suey- With just 280 calories in a one cup serving, this is a healthy and easy meal for the weeknight.

Easy Shepherds Pie- It’s a very fall kind of comfort meal.  It is very easy and it’s also budget friendly.
Mushroom Pie- As the recipe mentions, it’s sort of like a quiche, but it can be a great vegetarian main dish served with a salad or some other kind of green veggies. 

Eggplant Parmesan- A really easy method for making eggplant parmesan without frying the eggplant.  I recommend taking the slices and laying them out on paper towel and then sprinkling them with salt to draw out some of the moisture.  Then blot them with paper towel to remove that moisture.

Cioppino- This seafood stew is a favorite in our house; I’ve been making this recipe for years.  I don’t always follow it exactly, I often omit the wine and just use more chicken broth and I usually don’t include the mussels.  There’s a frozen seafood mix at Trader Joe’s that I like to use and then I add extra shrimp and clams. 

Roasted Vegetables with Polenta- The latest recipe I’ve posted to my other blog.  Very easy and fuss-free.  It can be a side dish, or if you have it over polenta or pasta it's a good vegetarian main dish.

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan- Mild tasting tilapia is very thin and quick cooking.  This recipe has a cheesy and flavorful sauce.  It’s really good for a weeknight. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Meals for the Week of October 17, 2011

My oldest child turns 13 this weekend.  THIRTEEN.  How is this possible?  The other day on Pinterest I saw a funny sign that said "I still think 1990 was 10 years ago".  That is me.  The reason I mention this is that this week my focus has been on getting ready for her Birthday Extravaganza Weekend and not so much in reading and research for the blog.  I did prepare recipes for the meal plan, I just didn't do much in terms of finding you any cool or interesting facts or articles.  What I did do is bake 24 cupcakes and forgot to put the sugar and then rushed out in a  panic to get the kids from school only to pull up and realize it was 2pm, not 3pm.  Stay tuned to the e-mealplanning recipe blog to see how I attempt to re-purpose the unsweetened cupcakes.  So my weekend will be filled with cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, nachos, pound cake with caramel glaze, chocolate cake, spaghetti and vanilla cake with butter cream frosting.  Three different birthday dinners for a special girl turning 13.

The recipes this week inadvertently have a common theme.  Mexican or butternut squash.  Well, there's also a couple of really great soups and a stir fry, but it's fall so there's chili or Mexican stew, or butternut squash lasagna.  But this way you can have a few key ingredients and create multiple different meals from them.  Not to mention many of them can stretch for more than one meal.  Have a great week!

Meals for the Week of October 17, 2011

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas- What an easy and less messy method for having the kids make their own pizza! 

Chicken Tacos- Three different but easy methods for preparing chicken tacos.

Cheesy Taco Pasta- This was inspired by the store bought box mix for pasta and hamburger, but you make it from scratch instead.  Watch the taco seasoning mix you use, sometimes they have added starch or too much sodium I like Pampered Chef’s Southwest Seasoning or Whole Foods offers a seasoning mix in their bulk spices.  Or I provided a recipe for your own seasoning this week.
White Bean and Kale Soup with Chicken Sausage- I love this soup and I make it with chicken apple sausage.  You can use spinach if you don’t want to use kale.

Butternut Squash and Macaroni Casserole- Delicious meatless fall casserole that uses coconut milk instead of any heavy cream or cheese.
Mexican Taco Stew- It’s really very similar to chili, but you use taco seasoning and the addition of zucchini or summer squash adds green veggie vitamins and fiber.
Easy Slow Cooker Chili- I really like this recipe for chili in your Crock Pot.  It’s actually not how I would make chili on the stove, but it’s easy to put together and tastes great.  I have made it with or without the beer. 

Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna- The combination of sage and butternut squash are so good!  Definitely use fresh or cooked store-bought noodles, don’t use the no-boil noodles.  Cut your prep time with using pre-cut squash.

Turkey Meatball and Tortellini Soup- With big meatballs and tortellini, this soup can be a meal.  I consider it a pantry/freezer meal, the ingredients are always available in my house and if something isn’t, I just improvise.  Great meal to make ahead or makes a lot for multiple meals.
Stir Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps- I love this because you can really just create whatever stir fry you want using the flavors you like.  Plus is quick and easy to make and fun to eat. 

Taco Seasoning- If you were ever interested in making your own, this one is easy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meals for the Week of October 10, 2011

It’s probably the end of your summer garden, but many people find themselves at this point with lots of produce and needing ideas of what to do with it.  Here’s a video with recipe on making oven dried tomatoes from America's Test Kitchen, who I consider one of the best sources for recipes as well as for the home cook to learn cooking methods.  You can store these tomatoes in oil and use them in all sorts of ways, sort of like sun dried tomatoes.

I found this little blog post with some ideas for what foods are freezable.  I was glad to see that I pretty much do the same as the author of the post.  If you like to shop in bulk, this info is handy for eliminating any waste of perishable items.  You can find that article, here.

This week I have again listed quite a few vegetarian dishes as we enter the second week of my husband eating vegetarian.  So far it’s going pretty good and I wanted to share some of the recipes I’m looking to make.  Plus I included some recipes with great fall flavors like sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
Earlier this week on my other blog, I posted a recipe for a healthy kid snack, No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls.  They are a hit in my house, I am happy to report and actually very easy for older kids to make themselves. 

 Meals for Week of October 10, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms- Many stuffed mushroom recipes are gooey and cheese-filled and often intended as an appetizer.  This one has only a little cheese and using large Portobello mushrooms, it can be a main dish. 

Sweet Potato Burritos- A unique twist on bean burritos; mashed sweet potato combined with kidney beans, chili spices and cheese. 
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos- Not feeling like burritos?  Try these sweet potato tacos instead. 

Tortellini with Mushroom Sauce- Easy weeknight dish with pre-made tortellini. 

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanuts and Lime- Not actually a Thai recipe, but a yummy main dish salad using the great Thai food combination of peanuts and lime.

Parmesan Chicken- Crispy, from-scratch chicken nuggets that your kids will love. 

Polenta Pizza- Instead of the usual pizza dough, try polenta.  You can make the polenta crust ahead of time and then do your toppings and bake it right before you want to eat.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta- Do you like bubbling hot and creamy spinach and artichoke dip?  This pasta is sort of a spin on that, but not quite so heavy and cheesy.  It can be vegetarian, or add cooked, chopped chicken. 

Baked Rigatoni with Sausage, Butternut Squash and Kale- Make it healthier by looking for a nitrite-free sausage, but this is a complete meal with vitamin rich squash and kale. 

Pan Seared Rib Eye Steak- This is THE BEST way to cook a steak.  Less expensive cuts other than rib eye could be fixed the same way but would benefit from more seasoning such as Montreal Steak seasoning or some garlic powder because they are not as naturally flavorful as a rib eye.

Grilled Zucchini Pizza- Great idea if you need to be low carb or gluten free.  Large slices of zucchini grilled or broiled, then topped with pizza sauce, cheese and whatever you want, then broiled again. 

Fall Salad with Maple Vinaigrette- This recipe can really just serve as inspiration for your own version of a fall salad.  Apples and blue cheese are always great in any salad.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meals for the Week of October 3, 2011

Besides being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is Vegetarian Awareness Month.  Who knew?  I didn't, until my husband told me a co-worker had a flier about it that included a challenge to eat vegetarian all month.  When he told me, my first thought was that we really should try to do Meatless Mondays.  But then he said he was going take the challenge to eat vegetarian all month.  So, I started researching recipes I thought he would like, that would satisfy someone who always raises an eyebrow if I ever previously attempted a vegetarian meal and who has a big appetite, where something like a big salad will not cut it.  So this week I listed a few of the recipes I'm looking at making as well as some others that I suggest you try.  If officially fall and here in California it's actually beginning to cool down, there are new vegetables coming into the season and these recipes reflect that.  Have a great week!!

Meals for the Week of October 3, 2011

Zucchini Pasta Carbonara- A classic Italian dish, it's very quick to make.  This version also happens to include chopped squash.

Crock Pot Thai Curry- You may have most of these ingredients on hand and simply need coconut milk and chili paste.  Feel free to substitute the eggplant for another squash or use whatever combination of vegetables you like.

Butternut Squash with Spinach and Ricotta- This could be a main dish that you eat with a salad or some other veggies or just serve it on the side with a roasted chicken.

Bulgar Taco Salad with Cilantro and Lime- Bulgar makes this a hearty meatless salad that is a great complete meal with good sources of protein plus fiber and iron.
Chili Taco Casserole- This is an easy to make, homey casserole that I adapted to be made healthier and from scratch instead of using canned chili.  You can make ahead and freeze or freeze leftovers.

Veggie Tacos- This recipe is so adaptable.  Use whatever fresh vegetables you like then just follow the instructions for seasoning and preparing the tortillas.

Pizza Roll Ups- Easy and kid-friendly, you can actually bake them and then after they cool freeze for later.

Broken Noodles with Tomato Sauce and Ricotta- Skip a step and just cook the noodles in the sauce!

Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza- A hearty meatless pizza with great roasted vegetables like butternut squash, potatoes, carrots and plenty of garlic.

Broccoli Crunch- Instead of a mayonnaise based dressing for the usual broccoli salad this one uses almond butter and the addition of apples and candied nuts make it the perfect fall weather salad.

Roasted Smashed potatoes- These are such a nice change from just regular roasted potatoes.  You first cook them covered, so sort of steam and soften, then smash them and season.  Crispy and fluffy!  Leftovers are great for breakfast.