Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chicken Tandoori Pitas

Tonight for dinner I tried a new twist on an old favorite: chicken tandoori (the old favorite) in whole-wheat pitas (the twist). I put the chicken in a tandoori marinade last night (plain yogurt, 2 T. tandoori seasoning from Penzey's, and half the juice of a lemon), then tonight Mike put it on the grill. I didn't want to fire up the grill for one measly chicken breast, so we did the sides on the grill, too: tiny yellow potatoes and the last of the squash, with a few carrots thrown in.

The chicken definitely needed something. Mike ate his second pita with Caesar dressing and said it was better, but I think next time I'm going to make some sort of cheese sauce. That should make it less dry.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I wanted to show you the simple dinner I threw together tonight. I say that I threw it together because I waited until the last minute to decide what we were having. After a consultation with my freezer, I pulled out some honey ham and bread that I got from the local discount bakery called Outback bread. It really is the same bread you get at the restaurant, and I've always meant to try it on a sandwich. This is Mike's sandwich:

Toasted Outback bread, ham, white American cheese, and pepperoni. Mine was sans pepperoni. I also broiled some squash that was given to us by my mom, who got it from her neighbor. I tossed it with some olive oil and sprinkled some kosher salt and chipotle pepper, and at the last minute I threw some carrots into the mix for me. I always forget just how much heat that chipolte pepper packs until I eat it again! Not too bad for a thrown-together dinner at the last minute.

Friday, July 27, 2007

New Recipe - Pizza Pancakes

Tonight we had a great Friday night dinner. I got this recipe from a Quick Cooking recipe book and have been meaning to try it for several weeks. The recipe calls for an all-purpose baking mix (like Bisquick), and when a recipe calls for that item, I usually use my homemade pancake mix, but I thought it would be too sweet for this recipe. I would have used Bisquick if I'd had any, but I didn't, so I looked up a Bisquick copycat recipe online, and we were cookin'. In addition to pepperoni, I browned some sweet turkey sausage by Jennie-O and added that. I also used Penzey's pizza seasoning instead of italian seasoning. Paired with some homemade tomato sauce and a fruit salad of cameo apples, strawberries, and green grapes, we had a tasty dinner. This recipe is definitely a keeper! I figured it would be, since it combines two of our favorite foods: pizza and pancakes!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A New Recipe - Black Bean and Rice Burgers

Last night I decided to try something daring - a meal with no meat in it! With Mike that is a daring move indeed. I cut this recipe out of a Taste of Home magazine several weeks ago, and just now worked up the courage to try it. And guess what...he liked it! He even ate the rest of mine when I got full! It was a joyous occasion indeed.

Now that I got all that sarcasm out of my system, here's the specifics: I decided not to make them "burgers," per say, but instead used whole grain mini pita pockets so they would be sandwiches. To me, a burger has to have beef in it, but a sandwich can have anything in it. I was glad I used the pita bread rather than hamburger buns, because the patties didn't stay together incredibly well. Next time I make this recipe (there WILL be a next time!) I'm going to use a more bold cheese than American, like maybe a sharp cheddar. Another new recipe that's a keeper! Yes!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yesterday we had a simple favorite: beef tacos. When we have tacos, I like to put out as many toppings as we have in between us and let each of us build our own. We're both kind of picky (SOME of us more than others...ahem...), so this works best for us. This time we had beef along with sour cream (for me), onions (for Mike), homemade salsa, and refried beans (for both of us).

We also had a green salad to go with the tacos. We tried two new types of salad dressing - I've been getting bored with plain 'ole ranch, and I've been trying to find something not cream-based. I picked a Caesar vinaigrette with Parmesan cheese and a Greek dressing with feta cheese from the wall of salad dressings at Wal-Mart. I never realized there are so many types of salad dressing out there - I've always just gone straight for the ranch. We liked both of them.

I also tried a new recipe - Blueberry Pound Cake, which I found on GardenWeb's Recipe Exchange Board.

Fresh out of the oven, still in the bundt cake pan, which hardly ever sees any action. A bundt cake pan is one of those things you hardly ever use, but really need once in awhile.

This was some good cake! The blueberries didn't all sink to the bottom, and it tasted GREAT still warm from the oven. Tonight I'm going to try it cold with a little vanilla icing on top.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

We had a very nice Sunday. After a trip to Bass Pro Shop (and driving home in a thunderstorm), I made a simple dinner of turkey kielbasa on white-wheat buns and a green salad.

We had never tried turkey kielbasa until this weekend, and we were very impressed by it. We tried it on the grill, and to me they were an improved version of pork kielbasa - not as heavy and guilt-inducing. I think Mike liked them, but still would prefer the original. But he still got to play with the grill - it's winner all around!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tonight we had a date night, so I decided to make a simple meal that also happens to be Mike's favorites: homemade pizza, featuring my homemade no-rise pizza crust. I tried a new cheese blend from Sargento; smoked provolone with asiago and mozzarella cheese. I also got a turkey kielbasa to try later, and decided to brown half of one and top the pizza with it. I did a simple side of cherries, strawberries, and blueberries. The pizza turned out okay; it was a little too smoky-tasting for me, between the kielbasa and provolone.

I tried a new recipe yesterday with the local blueberries I bought. After debating over my recipe book, I decided on the Blueberry Breakfast Bars recipe I found over at Farmgirl Fare. They have an oatmeal crust, blueberry center, and streusel-like topping.

They were very good straight from the oven, but since they've cooled off I've decided that I could probably cut the amount of butter in half and still enjoy them. I mean, shiny stuff seeps out when you press down on one. I ended up taking just the blueberry middle part and topping it with a little vanilla ice cream tonight during movie night, and it was delicious.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I made this dinner last week, but I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to post it. We had Cornish Game Hen that I did in the Crock Pot, mashed potatoes, and a mixed vegetable medley from the freezer. The hen was sprayed with olive oil, then seasoned with a garlic pepper blend. I like to do Cornish Game Hens in the crock pot because it makes the meat fall-off-the-bone tender. Mike actually introduced me to the wonders of the "little chicken;" he decided he wanted one for our first Valentine's Day, and after a frantic phone call to my mom, I actually pulled it off! My grandmother was the one who suggested I try it in the crock pot.

I tried something new to go with the meat and potatoes - a gravy! I planned to mix a can of cream of mushroom soup with the drippings from the hen, but there weren't that many drippings. I de-glazed what I could with white wine, but Mike suggested I cook off the wine a little more before adding the soup.

Now onto tonight's dinner. I made barbecue beef sandwiches in the crock pot with a beef chuck roast. I decided to actually pull out my cookbook and look at the recipe, instead of the usual pull out whatever I think will be good. It turned out really tasty. We also had fresh corn cut off the cob, and a fruit salad of bananas, granny smith apples. strawberries, and locally grown blueberries. I could not control myself around the blueberries! They were so good! I didn't get to pick any blueberries myself this year because it was too dry to get a decent-sized crop. I was pretty sad about that, because I've gone berry picking every year since I was born. My mom lugged me along in a backpack for the first time when I was six weeks old!

Monday, July 02, 2007

I have a whole mess of pictures to show you, starting with my first stab at making tomato sauce from scratch. I got some tomatoes from a Farmer's Stand near our house, and after removing the seeds and adding some spices, I cooked them down in the crock pot for about 4 hours. One thing I learned was this: the amount of tomatoes you use seems a lot smaller once they're cooked down! I only did about 10 of them because any more seemed like an awful lot to me. This is all I ended up getting, minus some that we used to make a pizza on Thursday night:
The sauce could have stood a few more hours of stewing, because it was still kind of watery. They're in the freezer now, however, so I'll have to cook them some more when I decided to use them. I only wish the herbs I planted for my greenhouse window had already come in so I could have used those instead of dried! I'll post more specific directions on my recipe blog soon.

Next, I made a special dinner on Friday, as that date celebrated Mike and I being together for 4 years [awwwwwwwwwwww]. I can't believe our 2-year wedding anniversary is coming up! I had some blueberries that needed to be used up, so you'll see that as a recurring theme. First, blueberry-lime daiquiris, made with banana-flavored rum.

I got some T-Bone steaks for the occasion, and tried them with a Jim Bean steak marinade. The recipe came from a cookbook my mom bought when we visited the Jim Bean factory in Kentucky. When I asked Mike what he might like on the side, he requested that I get the recipe for my grandmother's mashed potato casserole, which she makes often for holidays. After a phone call to her, I had the recipe and the potatoes in the oven. While that was cooking, I sauteed some fresh green beans with garlic, and Mike finished the steaks on the grill. We had a very nice dinner! I was afraid to marinade the steaks for too long, because the cut of meat was so good, but they could have stood up to the marinade for much longer. Next time I'll make it in the morning and see how it goes.

For dessert, I finished up the rest of the blueberries by making Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake, recipe courtesy of Dee's Eating at Home? It was enjoyed with the last of the daiquiris, floating in the pool.

Now for last night's dinner. Yesterday was a cloudy, dreary day for us, and it stormed heavily all afternoon and most of the evening. I decided to celebrate the much-needed rain by trying some new recipes. First, Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread. The recipe does not require any risings, although you do have to knead it a little. While that was baking, I tried my hand at some sauteed apples. The original recipe (from Taste of Home) was for Sauteed Apples and Raisins, but I didn't have any raisins. Along with that we had a wee bit 'o bacon, and I made myself some scrambled eggs. The bread was a little undercooked in the middle, but we enjoyed the pieces closer to the end. I'm beginning to think my oven is a little funky, because stuff like this keeps happening. The apple recipe is definitely a keeper. I want to get some raisins and some Granny Smith apples (I used Galas this time) and try it that way.

Howie the Guinea Pig was glad that my apple recipe called for peeled apples! He had quite a feast.