Category Archives: Wife

Make it Monday- Pear, Pig, and Fig Flatbread

June 30, 2014

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When Monday rolls around, I’ve usually exhausted all of my meal efforts on big weekend meals and want something quick and simple.  And for us, a lot of times that translates into nachos or flat breads. Here’s the great thing about flat breads- they offer endless possibilities and broil up in about 5 minutes!  I LOVE when a meal hits the table in under 10 minutes!!

Recently I had a Pear, Pig, and Fig flat bread from Bar Louie, which inspired today’s tasty meal.  Here’s my version of the Pear, Pig, and Fig!  Pair it up with a lightly dressed arugula salad (or throw some on top), and dinner is done!  So, put that phone down… toss those take out menus aside… It’s MAKE IT MONDAY!!

(serves 2)
2 of your favorite flat breads-I grab ours from the bakery section of our local grocery store
1 wedge brie cheese, cubed up1 pear, sliced thinly
1/4 to 1/2 cup fig jam
5-8 dried figs, chopped  (Fresh are also divine if you can find them at your store- I quarter up or slice up 3 or 4 fresh figs when I have them)
1 cup shredded pork, thawed (if from frozen)
see recipe for mine here: Crockpot Shredded Pork

Set your broiler to high.  Brush your flat breads with a bit of olive oil.  Broil for 2 minutes to crisp up a bit, then remove.  Top each with fig jam, brie, pear, shredded pork, and figs.  There’s no real rhyme or reason to topping a flat bread- just toss it on there!  Return to broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes, until brie becomes melty and delicious.  Top with fresh arugula, or keep the arugula on the side as a salad.  Cut and enjoy!

Be sure to check out tomorrow’s 4th of July Picnic Post, featuring Finger Lickin’ Ribs!

 

Summer Salmon Salad

June 23, 2014

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This weekend summer officially started- school let out, the days stretch out with endless opportunities, and the sunsets even seem to sigh with relief.  It’s in these lazy days where I find myself wanting meals that are bright and fresh.  I find this to be especially true this year, since I’m trying to eat healthy and nutritious for bambino and myself!

So this weekend, I whipped up a Summer Salmon Salad.  Super easy and super delicious.

2 Salmon Filets
2 TBSP Applewood BBQ Sauce
Mixed Baby Greens, Organic and well rinsed.
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
1 cup corn (drained if canned, thawed if frozen)
Your favorite salad dressing- for this, I like sesame Asian.  Kevin likes to just add more barbeque sauce.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and on a foil lined baking sheet, brush 1 tbsp of barbeque sauce on each salmon filet.  Let them cook for 15-20 minutes.
(Sometimes, I make this step easier and buy Sea Cuisine’s Applewood Smoked Salmon.)
And if you visit their website, you can get a coupon!  http://www.seacuisine.com/coupon/

In the meantime, saute up your 1 can of corn in a skillet over medium heat.  I usually start this when there’s about 8 to 10 minutes left on the salmon, tossing occasionally so they don’t burn.
In the last few minutes, slice your tomatoes and your avocado.

When the salmon is finished, flake it up with a fork.  Assemble your salad, and you’re good to go!

What are some of your favorite summer salads?

 

Southwest Stuffed Avocados

June 8, 2014

southwest stuffed avocadoA quick, easy meal- perfect for a dinner on the deck!

When the sun is shining, and it’s a gorgeous weekend, I try not to spend any more time inside than I have to.  For us, that means quick and easy dinners that taste as fresh and as bright as our sunny evenings al fresco.  Today I’m whipping up these little babies in 15 minutes tops!

Southwest Stuffed Avocados (makes 8 stuffed halves)
1 cup shredded or diced chicken
1 can black beans, drained
1 can rotel with green chiles, drained
2 tbsp taco seasoning
4 avocados, halved and pitted
Shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix together the chicken, black beans, rotel, and taco seasoning.
Add a heaping scoopful of the stuffing mixture into each of the avocado halves.
Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake at 425 for 13-15 minutes.

That’s it!  Enjoy!
Jenny

 

 

Parmesan Chicken with Linguine in a Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

June 6, 2014

IMG_0894 Wow- that’s a long title, but it really says it all… golden brown crusted chicken, bright bursts of flavor from sun-dried tomatoes, and a luscious cream sauce.  Best of all, it’s on the table in about 40 minutes start to finish.  If I can make this on a crazy Monday after work, I know you can too!  Go on, impress your family, or save it and really impress some weekend dinner guests!

Starting off with the chicken, create a breading station.IMG_0885  I use paper plates for easy clean up!  In one plate, you’ll need some flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  In the second, crack and whip up an egg.  In the third, combine equal parts bread crumbs with grated Parmesan cheese.  If you have massive chicken breasts, like mine were, go ahead and pound them out a bit- they’ll cook quicker and more evenly.  Then just move your chicken through the breading station, starting with flour, and ending at the bread crumb mix.    IMG_0889Once breaded, pop them into a hot skillet that’s been coated with a swirl of olive oil.  Brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side. (Note: the second side usually takes a bit less time because the oil is hot and sizzling!)    Transfer to a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

About halfway through the cook time of the chicken, you can start your sauce.

Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp italian herb paste (usually found in your grocer’s produce section- it’s in a tube)
1 cup grated Parmesan/ Asiago cheese blend
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Start with 2 tbsp butter.  Melt over medium low heat, and once melted, stir in 2 tbsp of flour. Slowly stir in 1/2 of the pint of heavy cream, along with 1 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp tomato paste, and 2 tbsp italian herb paste.  Stir over low heat, gradually increasing to medium heat.  Add in 1 cup of the Asiago/ Parmesan cheese blend, 2 cups of baby spinach, and 1 cup of julienned sun-dried tomatoes.  Continue to stir occassionally, adding the remaining 1/2 pint of heavy cream bit by bit.  If sauce seems thin, add a smidge more cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce heat to low.  Stir occasionally and continue to simmer on low until chicken is finished cooking.

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For this recipe, I used Bertolli’s fresh linguine found in my grocer’s deli department, but you can use any pasta that you like!  I served it up with the bed of pasta, topped with cream sauce, and then topped with sauced chicken on top of that.  I was really longing for a nice glass of white wine to go along with it, but lemonade was on the menu for me!  If you make this- have  it with the wine for me!
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Enjoy!
J

**Disclaimer: This meal is by no means healthy…but it is healthy for your soul, so eat up in moderation!**

 

Homestyle Mac N’ Cheese

March 9, 2014


Not much brings me comfort quite like my mummy’s mac n’ cheese.  Whenever I’d be feeling a little down, or the day had been too rough, it was always there- a warm hug on a plate, letting me know that everything would be just fine. 

These days, I only eat mummy’s mac when I need the big guns- those times when I need to feel her hug, even though she’s passed on.  I’m a firm believer that a good part of her lives on through her food, and there are times, when only that creamy mac n’ cheese will fix what ails me.

BUT, when it’s a Tuesday, and I need some mac for next to no reason at all, I turn to my mac n’ cheese makeover.  Half the calories, a quarter of the fat and four times the fiber.  NONE of the guilt. ALL of the satisfaction. 

Homestyle Mac N Cheese
6 tbsp unsalted butter (go ahead, use the butter)
6 tbsp flour
1/2 lb whole grain elbow macaroni
3 cups fat free milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 1/2 cups low fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter or spray a 2 quart baking dish.
Boil pasta- about 7 to 10 minutes

Melt butter in a 3 qt saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occassionally.  Slowly add flour and stir continuously, being sure not to brown.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and paprika.  Slowly stir in 3 cups of milk and continue to cook for 3 to 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 2 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese.  Add pasta, stir, and pour into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs and a bit of extra cheddar cheese.  Bake @ 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

**Tip- if your baking dish seems full, place it on a cookie sheet prior to placing into the oven.  This will catch any sauce that may bubble over. **

Nutrition Comparison

Mum’s and most others per serving: 570 calories, 32g fat, 67 g carbs, 1.8g fiber

Mine per serving: 235 calories, 8 g fat, 28 g carbs, 8 g fiber

Farm Stand Meatloaf

March 2, 2014

Growing up, I hated meatloaf.

I HATE MEATLOAF

Now, my mum was a great cook, but my dad liked things a bit bland, and well… meatloaf was not her forte.  I can remember cringing as that dull, lifeless brick would come out of the oven.  It was dry, it lacked flavor of any sort, and well, it was basically a big lump of cooked ground beef that she sliced down.  It just wasn’t pretty, and all the ketchup in the world just couldn’t change my mind.

It wasn’t until many years later that I even attempted to try meatloaf.  I was living on my own, and as luck would have it, I had met a guy that LOVED meatloaf.  Well, shoot.  While I had flashbacks of that poor, dry bland slab of beef hovering in my mind, I knew there had to be a better meatloaf out there somewhere.  So, I googled recipes and learned some basics.  My first ever meatloaf was Billy Joel’s wife’s recipe- Katie Joel’s “Man Loaf”.  Cosmo was raving about it that year, and I figured I’d try it out on my man… at least he’d enjoy the meatloaf even if I didn’t care for it.  But you know what?  It was delicious!  Moist and flavorful- all of the things I felt a meatloaf should be.  From then on, my world of meatloaf was reborn!

Several years later, I feel that I’ve found my own perfect meatloaf- Satisfying, yet healthy.
A blend of flavors, moist, and colorful…with a nostalgia for days gone by.  My Farm Stand Meatloaf is a crowd pleaser for sure, and with a few quick tricks, it’s on the table in under 30.

Farm Stand Meatloaf

1/2 lb ground sweet italian sausage
1/2 lb ground hot italian sausage
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup grated Romano/ Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and smoosh together with hands.  Really, your hands are your best tools in the kitchen, and for meatloaf, there’s simply no better way to go.  Just remember to take your rings off!!  Once smooshed together, I press the mix into the cups of a muffin tin.  It usually makes 12 perfect “muffins”.  I also have a great scone pan that I like- it’s similar to my muffin tin, but is squared off instead of round.  Somehow it makes it seem more “meatloaf-like”.  At any rate, you might be wondering:

WHY THE MUFFIN TIN?

I bother with the meatloaf tin for the simple fact of reliability.  I know that in a muffin tin, my tiny loaves will cook up in 25 minutes, every time.  It makes it quick, and takes out the guess work that I frequently have when making a large loaf.  “Is this sucker done?  Is the middle fully cooked?  Why are the edges burning?”  No guessing here- 25 minutes = perfection.

Once smooshed and prepped, I top each with a spoonful of barbeque sauce.  I happen to like the flavor of bbq sauce with meatloaf more than I enjoy ketchup, but if ketchup is your thing, by all means- ketchup those puppies up! 

Into a 350 degree oven they go for 25 minutes! 

Another perk to the muffin tin?  Easy portion control.  Each muffin is about 2 to 2 and 1/2 ounces, so 2 muffins is an appropriate portion.  Lastly- it makes packing leftovers SO easy.  There’s nothing more annoying to me than slicing down a meatloaf, only to have it fall apart halfway through the slice.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about!  With these guys, there’s no slicing, and no falling apart. WIN.

Give them a whirl- the hidden veggies lock in moisture, while the meat trio gives a robust flavor.  Your family won’t even notice that they are good for them!

On occasion, for little ones or for a party, I’ll top these meatloaf muffins with some mashed potatoes and bacon bits as a cute cupcake.  Easy, portable, and super fun- these ones were for my buddy’s baby shower!

Try them out!
Until next time,

PS: If you are feeling adventurous, be sure to check out the next post’s “Meatloaf Matrix” which offers variations on the standard meatloaf dish!

100 Day Challenge

February 27, 2014

What, you ask, is the 100 Day Challenge?  Well, it is just that!  It is a challenge to myself to complete 30 different things on my “life list” in the next 100 days.  This idea was shared with me from my friend, McKenzie over at Our Honest World, and when I read about her challenge… and her request for others to jump on board, I knew I was in!  So, with pencil in hand, I set about making my list.

I’d love for others to join us, whether it be fellow blogging friends to keep in contact with, or through facebook, text, or email… just think about the things you could do in 100 days!  The possibilities are endless, right?  I promise it’ll be fun, and that we’ll have a lot of laughs.  We may even discover new things about each other and ourselves. 

Now, some of these items are small.  Some are quirky, and somewhat trivial.  Others are rather large, and even more important to put into my life in the next 100 days.  The point is to do them. To commit to living my life, and to allow myself the time to explore these ideas.

SO- here it is!

1. Blog at least 2 times a week, and have at least 1  be an original recipe.

2. Learn the craft/ practice of yoga. NOT Jillian Michaels yoga, which I love, but kicks my butt.  I’m talking SLOW, methodical, spiritual yoga.

3. Host a Pinterest party.  (for all those DIY things that we pin, but never make)

4. Make a budget and really stick to it.  I was so great at this, but then we moved, and our bills and due dates for them shifted, and well.. my budget kind of died a slow death.  It needs updated.  I’d love to share some of the apps I’ve found and LOVE.  It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing this one.

5. Organize my family recipes.

6. Coupon like a champ.  Again, I use to do this, and then life happened.

7. Learn what all of the settings and buttons on my camera do.  Fancy camera, and all I do is point and click. Pathetic, right?  No more. Time to learn.

8.  Learn to truly meditate.  I like to SAY I’m meditating, when really my mind is going a thousand miles an hour in 50 different directions.  It’s really annoying at the end of the day to be exhausted, lay down, and still be awake for about 40 minutes until I sort through all of the RANDOM thoughts that run through my head.  Meditation. MUST LEARN.

9. take a photography class and read my Plate to Pixel book about food photography

10. make/ paint my own pottery

11. Really take stock of and organize my school class library

12. catch up on Grey’s Anatomy.  Seriously. I am about 5 seasons behind, and the previews still kill me every week. Indulgent? absolutely.  Needed? you bet.

13. organize my pantry so that it stays organized and functional (side note- train husband as to where things go in said organized pantry)

14. restain the deck

15. make Kevin’s brewery tours collage

16. master the “smokey eye” look

17. redesign my blog, or pay someone else to do it

18. keep a journal, including pictures.  note the little things and focus on gratitude

19. find a church we like

20. grow my relationship with God

21. get my passport

22. plan out the trip to Niagara Falls to spread my mum’s ashes-  we promised, and haven’t done it yet…and it bothers me every spring

23. treat my husband the way I did when we first started dating- meaning… send brownies to work, inner office little notes, hide love notes in his pockets… let him know how much I truly love and appreciate him.  We do dates, but I think I could do more of the little affections

24. actually download the fonts that I pin on Pinterest

25. can or pickle something

26. plant a beautiful garden and actually keep it alive

27. reconnect with childhood/ high school friends

28. buy something from an antique store

29. make my own fruit snacks

30. spend a day alone with my mother in law, learning more about her, and her life in younger days

Those are my 30 things.  Not sure which one I want to start with, but it’ll probably be a small one to get me on my way!  I’ll keep you posted how this all goes!

Be sure to swing over to McKenzie’s page too- I should add “Make McKenzie’s laundry soap” as number 31.

Until next time,
J

Cheesy Crusted Chops

February 11, 2014

Let it be known, I love pork chops.  LOVE them.  I get it from my grandmother, honestly, but I love them so much that I almost always buy the bulk family value pack from our grocery store.  I mean, really, who DOESN’T need a dozen pork chops for 2 people?!  I love the look of a bone-in chop, the sizzle of a good sear, their flavor, their versatility, and how budget friendly they are… and because I love them so, I am always looking for a new way to prepare them.  Last week’s culinary adventures may have led me to my favorite chops yet- Cheesy Crusted Chops. 

4 ingredients.
2 steps.
2 minutes of prep.
On your table in 20 minutes or less.
It doesn’t get any easier than that! 

Cheesy Crusted Chops

(serves 2, but is easy to double, triple, or make for a crowd!)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
2 bone in chops

Combine equal parts breadcrumbs and shredded cheese.  Add small drizzles of olive oil and mix with fingers until the mixture is a moist paste-like consistency.  (Almost like a sugar scrub?)  Divide the mixture evenly on the top of 2 chops and pat down gently with hands.  Toss into the oven @ 425 for 18-20 minutes. 

simple. as. that.

Enjoy!
J