Twerking. I mean, tweaking… recipes that is.

Not much has happened this week that is blog-post worthy … I mean, I made a phenomenal pizza which I’ll absolutely share with you – all credit goes to Ree Drummond.  Since I’m cooking a lot of repeats of our favorite recipes I do try to make at least 1 thing new each week or tweak an oldie to make it a “newbie”.

Oldie made “newbie” – salsa chicken (chicken breasts, salsa, cheese)
The recipe calls for taco seasoning to be sprinkled on the chicken … well I used fajita seasoning – WAY BETTER! Not just any fajita seasoning, you know it had to be Bolner’s. Pour on the salsa as usual, but get a fun one … something with chunks of veggies in it, not just runny/cheap/generic salsa. Considering chicken and cheese is el-cheapo, splurge a few extra bucks on decent salsa … it adds to the texture as well.

What else did I make … (I need to consult my menu board, it’s been a LONG and CRAZY week).
Oh yeah – store prepared kabobs (beef wrapped in bacon and scallops wrapped in bacon … double turf & 1 surf, HA!)  As a side I made a Martha dish, cherry tomato and basil crisp (which turned out more like a crumble, but it was still good 😉 ) It might because I used whole wheat bread – maybe it doesn’t firm up as nicely as white. I was trying to make a healthy swap.

So I ‘cheated’ with something prepared but wanted the meal to feel homemade. Easy.
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Another simple creation, inspired by Martha but I put my own twist on it.  Originally it was supposed to be spinach penne and ricotta… well that’s not substantial for this house so I bought regular penne, added fresh spinach which I had leftover, and sliced Italian sausage. Oh man, now that’s a filling dish. I didn’t have any pine nuts but I sure did have almonds! Chop those babies up and sprinkle on top – great textures between the pasta, spinach, sausage, shredded parm, and soft ricotta.
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Okay, okay … the pizza!
My cheat: Bisquick mix for the dough! Sprinkle onion and garlic power in along the way, BOOM. So good.
Follow Ree’s recipe for the pizza toppings … it’s easy; really, really, really easy. Don’t cheat on the cheese, get what the recipe calls for – all of the different flavors are like an explosion and when you add the tomato/basil/balsamic vinegar mixture to the top – holy cow. It’s amazing!
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I added the cheese to a RAW Bisquick dough (shoot, don’t forget the pesto!!!) – let the dough turn golden brown and the cheese becomes ooey-gooey – 15-20 minutes (25-30 if you like crispy) … let it sit for the cheese to firm up just a bit (it’s easier to cut), add the tomatoes and life will be good in 3, 2, 1… YUM!

This was our first pizza on a pizza stone – BUY ONE. Just do it. Those pizza pans with holes are garbage. Lesson learned.

We’ve got pork chops and a grilled zucchini salad for tonight. Not just any pork chops, hitting up the old blue cheese and cranberries (I’m going to freeze it like a ‘steak butter’ and let it melt over the pork chop as I’m plating).

ENJOY!

 

 

It’s like a game of Tetris

As tradition would follow, our latest pizza night was “ham and pineapple”! Add a cute decoration of BBQ sauce and we’ve got a winner! We made 2 differently built pizzas … 1: BBQ sauce as a base and 2: BBQ as a pretty design on top.  The 2nd one was waaaaaay better; the sauce made the dough soggy. So there’s that experiment figured out 🙂

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Italian night … cut the casings off of sweet Italian sausages and slice into bite size pieces to make life easier. Next add thinly sliced veggies (green and red bell pepper and a white onion), pour in the crushed tomato sauce and let that baby simmer for 30-ish minutes. I love soggy veggies when using bread to soak up everything. I added some extra spices to boost the flavor, not necessarily needed depending on what sauce or sausages you buy but we like big flavors. A one pot dish makes for an easy dinner and easier clean up.

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On Sunday my lovely husband kindly reminded me we were going to have a guest over for dinner, THAT NIGHT. He is so amazing, I just love how he has the best memory. Clearly, sarcasm 😉 . I love him to pieces but I can’t remember his life and mine. Anyway, he has a friend in town from NoVA (due to work) so he came over for a home cooked meal. Really simple, throw it together in minutes, kind of BBQ. The weather is holding true and is as whacky as ever.  It was 75 over the weekend and today I’m shivering since it’s 40. WTH. I’m so over this.

Ok, back to the BBQ. I cubed baby red potatoes, diced a large sweet onion, cubed butter, and threw that thing in the oven for 40 minutes on 375 (covered for the last 15 min or so because the onions were done, like charred done). I added more butter once it came out to keep things juicy 🙂 .  I had asparagus leftover so I threw those in the grill basket, sprinkled S & P plus grated parm – boom, another stellar side dish prepped in 2 minutes.  A total cheat: store bought salmon burgers – jalapeno and cheddar cheese salmon burgers to be exact. I love these things. Set out sliced tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and red onions – dress that burger to your heart’s desire.  I made a quick community salad as well (BIG BOWL, you serve yourself): dark greens, sliced mushrooms, cubed tomatoes, grated swiss cheese, and croutons … let everyone pick their own dressing (plus this won’t make the salad soggy and depressing – which makes for a bad table presence).

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There you go. Fast, healthy, and delicious meals.

This week is all about leftovers (I mean it this time) … I’m going out of town and leaving Josh with as much food as possible.  I am making 6 servings for each meal, our fridge is beginning to look like a game of tetris. Don’t mess with my stacking system! Not only does this work if the main chef ever goes on vaca but this could work if you’re super busy during the week.  Cook large, multiple meals on the weekends or whenever your free day is – store those dishes for their specific night and you have complete meals ready to go! Make extra and have some leftovers for a real lunch the next day (PB & J or ham sammies get old, REAL FAST).  Those are my tips – use ’em or whatever 😉 .

I’ve linked my IG account to the blog so we’ll see how that works … I’m still trying to figure this technology thing out.  I mean, I’m not a dinosaur but sometimes I feel like crap changes overnight and I find out 5 months later. I still refuse to use my iPad to blog post; I do use it as my cook book though! I like typing on an actual keyboard, can you blame me?

do not pick up a bottle by the cap

How many times has your mother told you this little tid bit of knowledge … gah, well, I forgot and wound up with olive oil on me, the counter top, two cabinets, the floor, inside a grocery bag, and then almost in Ella’s belly (such a good helper, wanting to clean up after me … we got her away from it in time, don’t worry).

And that was only Wednesday afternoon … I still had to get through the rest of the day! So much for being excited that it was ….

humpday

I’m clearly behind on blogging so today’s will be longer but hopefully sticking to a paragraph for each day, Monday-Thursday.

Monday:

Originally scheduled were leftovers but Chelsea offered to cook up her family’s recipe of sausage and peppers … wowzers, definitely a keeper. The pictures say it all … think of it as a picture book 🙂 We all loved those as kids, no words! Easiest read over.
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Tuesday:

Tilapia burgers (store bought – FRESH seafood counter), veggie medley (red & green peppers, red onion, zucchini, and yellow squash + herb/garlic marinade), and whatever fries were in the freezer: waffle & sweet potato.

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Veggies were done in the AM so the marinade would really set and coat the veggies.  We needed a “sauce” for the burgers, Chelsea & I combined forces and came up with: sour cream as the base, garlic, green onions, and lime juice.  SO DELISH.  See, 2 blondes are better than 1 … wait, what?! 😉

Wednesday:

Slow cooker BBQ pork sliders – I used the same recipe as before but turned them into sliders – super easy creations. Broccoli bites for a side and you’re set! I added a TON of cheese this time to the bites and they were 100% better.

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Thursday:

I should just stop cooking after Chelsea made dinner last night … double wowzers, she hit this one out of the park!  I even busted out my Thanksgiving serving tray for this meal.  Presentation is key!

Sword fish steaks with a tomato/caper/fennel/onion/garlic “sauce” + grilled asparagus (I heated up some leftover orzo/broccoli since I do not share the same passion for asparagus as the others do).

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Boys were busy doing their thing, the steaks were cooked to perfection and we popped the asparagus in a foil pouch (a la camping style cooking) on the top rack.

Obviously this is not an everyday meal, we have Chelsea & Cory staying with us this week before they move into their downtown loft. I’m not going to complain if another person offers to cook, a night off is always welcomed. Or in this case, two nights off!

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So if you ever wondered what a fridge would look like with food for an entire week, to feed 4 adults, here it is.  Plus that darn Chillow, I hate that thing. Mostly I hate how small our fridge is.

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It’s funny because I lived with 4 people before and our fridge was never this full … that was also in college where most of our meals consisted of fast food and beer. Oh what a diet!  Boy how the times have changed.

Buca di Higby

Lasagna + ricotta stuffed chicken parm = bonus Italiano week!

I had most of the ingredients to make both dishes and since I’m all about using what you already have, it was the obvious choice to put them on the menu last week.  I only needed to buy chicken breasts and ricotta cheese; cheap shopping trip!

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But of course, this is a recipe promoted by Martha Stewart – the dishes are easy, only call for a few ingredients, and are seriously fool proof … perfect for a beginner cook!  I cut the ingredients down for a smaller lasagna (we still had leftovers!), just for 2 people.

I had 2 sweet Italian sausages leftover from the spaghetti bake. I had lasagna noodles leftover from the slow cooker [lasagna] attempt. We always have plenty of sliced cheese options in our fridge, I’m telling you- we love cheese. I typically have 1 or 2 jars of marinara sauce in the pantry, never know when it will be a spaghetti kind of night. Ok, easy peasy, it’ll take you maybe 15 minutes to prep the lasagna and 40 minutes to bake it.

Having friends over? Make the original recipe, it’ll definitely be a crowd-pleaser.

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Josh requested garlic bread as a side but to mix it up I found garlic knots which were super squishy and nice change from the usual “Texas Toast”.  Oh and that’s me as “quality control” to ensure the cheese was indeed delicious.  Approved.  I added a picture of the counter to show you I am not the neatest of cooks; feel free to make a mess while you’re cooking – I don’t have assistants cleaning up behind me like they do on TV shows. So if you’re wondering why Giada’s kitchen is so CLEAN … she has minions doing all the dirty work during commercial breaks.  I do have an amazing husband who cleans up after dinner though. God bless. If he ever complains, I remind him that scrumdiddlyumptious dishes mean a not so tidy kitchen as the end result.  If he wants an easy clean up, he won’t get a fulfilling meal. HA!

BTW: the lasagna picture from the recipe website looks a little deflated. I made thick layers to give it more appealing finished look.

 

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Originally on the menu was plain old chicken parm.  It’s becoming one of our favorites around here and I’m making it about every other week … so to change it up and use the leftover ricotta, I figured – ricotta stuffed chicken parm. Best idea ever! I butterflied the chicken breasts, breaded both sides, and spooned on the ricotta. Bake time is the same, it came out bubbly and oozing with cheese.   This became a fancy-pants lunch since it was intended for dinner the night before (we had date night to Ruby Tuesday’s); I didn’t want the ricotta going bad so why not make a decent lunch.  Plus Josh was heading out for the weekend for work … sent him off with a full belly 🙂 .

If you’re wondering about my nifty dredging set up – Pampered Chef! I just got it the other week and was excited to put it to use. It’s the simple things! They clip together and are dishwasher/microwave safe.  Possibilities are endless: chocolate covered strawberries, deep fry station, sundae toppings, whatever!