Beautiful Disasters

Sometimes the best meals come to you when you’re not even thinking about … A few days ago I was getting excited about football season beginning this weekend and in the mix of things I quickly missed Pittsburgh and all of my yinzer friends. Lightbulb, peiorgies and kielbasa! Let’s pay homage to a wonderful city, beautiful friends and family, by eating a yummy meal that can be served with a side of fabulous memories. We love pierogies. LOVE. My husband will think this is silly but when we first started dating, he cooked pierogies a few times and it was ‘his thing’, no one was allowed to help. He’d be so proud of how perfectly they were cooked and would brag all night about dinner, that’s just sort of how he is but I loved watching him cook.

Another bonus for this meal, I can make a double batch and freeze them for a friend who is expecting a baby annnnnny day now (hurry up little one!!). Not all delivered meals have to be casseroles, spaghetti, or lasagna. I mean can you imagine? 5+ nights in a row of essentially the same thing. God Bless people who volunteer to bring meals over (whether there was a loss in the family, a birth, major surgery, etc.) but it’s okay to turn those offers down … I know the meals are meant to be quick and easy to reheat but real meals would be nice. Anyway, who wouldn’t love homemade pierogies and kielbasa?! I know my friend will as she’s a fellow yinzer friend, friends with benefits, HA 😉 !

Let’s take a look at some meals from the last few weeks … I had leftovers *whhhhaaaaat?!* but made sure to revamp them. There is a ‘3 hour tour’ pasta salad, it’s entertaining, just wait. My husband also made a request and over of course I couldn’t pass it up. ENJOY!

IMG_7422
A simple meal, smoked sausages (Oscar Mayer, they are so yummy … and better for you!), green bean salad, and roasted potato wedges.

IMG_7361
Chicken and spinach quesadilla and a corn/grape tomato/lettuce salad with Dijon vinaigrette.

IMG_7507IMG_7504
This was one of my revamped leftover dishes.  I made a slow cooker lasagna the previous week and had plenty leftover, I used it as a side dish and baked a quick chicken Parmesan.

IMG_7363
Here is the original dish – Lasagna Soup … which wasn’t soupy at all … so yeah, don’t let the name freak you out. Oh, I couldn’t find a single bottle of V8, small bottles came in 6 packs and we don’t drink that stuff so I used a can of plain tomato sauce.

IMG_7479IMG_7478 IMG_7477
We love our pork chops! This version: honey & Dijon ‘sauce’ is the key component to pretty much everything on the plate. I coated the chop in a nice layer of the sauce, let it sit for an hour. While that was going on I pan-cooked mushrooms, bacon (already baked in the oven), and onions – drizzled more of that sauce and just let it simmer for 20 minutes until the onions were really soft. I added the chop into the pan and cooked everything for another 10 minutes, cover the pan so it steams, less splatter and faster cook time! On to the baked sweet potato which took 2 hours to bake. Really. I let my husband pick them out and of course he picked the most gigantic potatoes. As I sliced them open I went to the fridge and realized we were out of butter. Oops. No biggie, we had cream cheese and honey! Oh it was so good… think about it, what do you add to a sweet potato casserole? Usually cream cheese and brown sugar; we had brown sugar but I didn’t want the grittiness opting for honey instead.

IMG_7449
This is how I do corn when the husband isn’t home to man the grill. Salt, pepper, Old Bay (if you’re not from the East Coast you are truly missing out), and 3 blobs of butter. Loosely wrap each ear of corn in foil and bake for 40 minutes … I think I put the oven to 350.

IMG_7379
Another revamped leftover, quinoa stuffed peppers.  I served the corn with it, usually I cook Spanish rice … so just by changing up the side it appears to be a new meal. So if I didn’t tell you I used quinoa it may look like ground meat; I’ve made this one other time with white quinoa and it’s totally an image thing – using red quinoa made the meal look better, closer to using meat, it’s okay to trick the brain. The color really does help! Back story on the quinoa: we got a cute ‘thank you’ bag from a friend after keeping watch on her house while she and the kiddos were out of town and the red quinoa was included. I mean talk about a thoughtful gift, I’d say she knows us pretty well!

A few other cute items that were included was a Parmesan seasoning, add olive oil and it’s ready for bread to be dipped in it. Oh man it was sooooo good!  This shot glass was hiding as well …
IMG_7371
How fun is that? I’ve used it a few times already … so much easier than measuring spoons. I didn’t have to worry about spilling or pouring too much as I measured. It’s now best friends with my wine glass measuring ‘cup’. Greatly appreciated gifts! There are a few other things that I still need to use but I’m sure they will be yummy and fun!

IMG_7419IMG_7414
This was my husbands request … breakfast for dinner! I jokingly suggested chicken and waffles and husband loved the idea, so there that is.
Here’s the waffle recipe

Beer Waffles

2 cups Original Bisquick™ mix
1 egg
1 1/2 cups regular or nonalcoholic beer (12 oz)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

The beer made the waffles so light and fluffy – usually 1 waffle fills us up but being lighter we scarfed down 2 waffles each! Please don’t judge. You couldn’t really taste the beer, we used Dos Equis which is a very light beer. For the chicken, I covered tenders in panko seasoned with cayenne pepper, not too much though, just enough for a tiny kick of flavor.  DRENCH in your favorite syrup and dinner’s ready!  Not exactly a diabetic friendly dinner but we’re allowed to cheat every now and then. I’m considering this meal for when my husband’s family visits next month, I see this being a crowd-pleaser.

IMG_7374
Tell me this doesn’t look yummy.  It’s a cucumber salsa. Healthy and delish. Easy to prep and even easier to enjoy.  Keep this in your back pocket for game days; nasty, greasy food is typically served up along a riveting football game. Opt for something like this! It looks like avocados but when it hits your taste buds it’ll be light and tangy.  I can’t remember what I served this with, I used it as a side for dinner one night. Yes it’s okay to use a ‘dip’ as a side.

AS PROMISED, the tale of the ‘3 hour tour’ pasta salad.

Friends invited us to their lake house for Labor Day weekend (the same friend who is STILL pregnant 😉 ) … I offered to bring a pasta salad. This wasn’t just any pasta salad, it was inspired by an Italian hoagie. We’re talking red onion, pepperoni, sausage, olives, red wine vinaigrette … the works. After making an early trip to the grocery store I slave over the counter slicing and dicing and boiling 8 cups of pasta:
IMG_7382

I combine everything and let it chill in the fridge:

IMG_7383
Beautiful, right? This is only a half serving, for photo purposes only, lol; aluminum tins don’t look pretty in pictures.

Back to the story, after everything was wrapped and ready to go, the salad was on the corner counter; my husband told me to get the lake house address … I went off to text my friend (my purse was in the car because we were pretty much ready to leave). I send the text and my husband gets in the car, we leave. Surely you know what’s about to happen. 45 minutes later we arrive at the lake house, I start walking to the house and my husband asks “aren’t you going to get the food?” OH SH*T. It was still sitting on the counter!  I got sidetracked, thought my husband would have seen the 10lbs of pasta salad to bring to the car.  Well that’s not what happened at all. He then asked if I wanted him to go back and get the salad, I said “yes” without hesitation, lol! I offered to do it since I forgot it but he’s the best and began his journey to save the salad.  Friends at the house asked if anything would go back in the salad, my response: the cheese, meat, onions …everything that made the salad cost $40. That’s right, I spent $40 on a pasta salad. D’oh. It’s not like we left behind a bag of chips. So he made the 45 min drive home and 45 min drive back to the lake house, hence the newly named ‘3 hour tour’ pasta salad. It was a beautiful ALMOST disaster of the night which is okay because it was delish and all of it went. Well thank goodness … I mean, if it were out of pity then only some of it would have been consumed but not 1 noodle was left.  In the end, I’m glad he went back for the pasta and thankful I have such an awesome husband. LOVE YOU BABE!

 

Advertisements

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.
IMG_4050 IMG_4051 IMG_4052  IMG_4053 IMG_4055 IMG_4056

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.

IMG_4058 IMG_4059 IMG_4060

 

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.

IMG_4072

 

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).

IMG_4086 IMG_4084

IMG_4087IMG_4085

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!

——–

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.

IMG_4057

 

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.

Go ahead, clog your arteries!

I love waking up on a Saturday and realizing we have nothing planned for the day. I can enjoy my coffee (BONUS: finish it before it gets cold); I flip between HGTV and cooking channels; and figure out what this week will bring in yummy dinner delights. My plan for repeating dinners has been great, I remember the recipes and already have the pantry ingredients which means less time at the grocery store. I guess I need to update you on a few days, of course all very hectic!

Tuesday actually wasn’t too bad but I got mad when I realized I purchased “sub” rolls instead of the normal “slider” rolls for my Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sandwiches.  You know what, it actually turned out for the better.  It was so messy when I made it the first time, the lunch meat slid all over the place and cheese became a slimy mess; don’t let that scare you – it was and still is my favorite sandwich for dinner. The sub rolls made it easier to fit the meat and cheese perfectly.  This time around to make it a bit less messy (and better for you), I didn’t add butter to the mustard/Worcestershire sauce.   Josh and I agreed that we didn’t miss the butter; I sauteed onions, honey mustard (I don’t care for Dijon mustard), and Worcestershire  – it turned out great. When everything was ready to go in the oven I stuck toothpicks in each sandwich just to ensure they’d stay together. Since the bread was dry from not using butter, I had to cover the dish with foil about half way through so the bread wouldn’t burn. I made a side salad to accompany the sandwiches and dinner was served. Easy!

Image

my changes: no butter in mustard/Worcestershire sauce; used ham and turkey lunch meat

On to Wednesday … I prepped lasagna rolls before lessons even started; this is a perfect dish that you can keep in the fridge until dinnertime.  If you love lasagna but don’t love the cooking time, opt for these rolls.  You’ll get the same dish in about half the time. You can make it as healthy as you’d like; spinach is a super food for Josh so I added more than what the recipe called for.  I always purchase the fat free, low fat, or light versions of the called for ingredients or you can purchase the fatty stuff and feel your arteries clog as you eat; just sayin’.  I’ve made it in the past adding diced mushrooms; I’m guessing whatever you’d layer a lasagna with, you can add it “diced” to the ricotta mixture.  Again, served a side salad; another easy dinner.

Image

Thursday I was treated to dinner with one of my piano families. I hate losing students to a military move but am thankful for Skype; I’ll be able to teach her even being in a different time zone.

Josh was left to fend for himself… he managed to survive.

FRIDAY, FRIDAY, GOTTA GET DOWN ON FRIDAY! (You’re welcome) If my blog becomes as popular as Rebecca Black, my life will be complete. Seriously. 😉
Mexican Stuffed Peppers – a new recipe, but who doesn’t love stuffed peppers?! I about died when I purchased stupid quinoa, that crap is expensive! $*#^&$^^%&!!!!  Rice would have made the dish “heavy” (and technically unhealthy) so in my opinion, pay for the quinoa because it was worth it. Also for two people I could have cut the quinoa in half, 1 cup of uncooked quinoa made a butt load of leftovers which I will use on Sunday 🙂 Josh was actually left to prepare most of the dish while I taught lessons, I chopped everything and wrote on a note pad what he needed to do. He sent a text to inform me of the amount of cooked quinoa … I had to quickly text back that he should save it (didn’t need another cheesy chicken debacle, lol). To spice it up a bit, we used 1 can of mild enchilada sauce and 1 can of medium… yeah, too spicy for me!  I have weak taste buds but I know Josh loves spicy food so I tried it for him; I could only eat one pepper. I’ll stick to mild sauce only and maybe heat a small sauce pan with medium sauce then spoon it over his peppers next time. Half way through eating Josh realized it was a meatless meal and then I reminded him of the lasagna rolls… also meatless.  He was impressed that I could find such tasty recipes sans meat, that didn’t leave him hungry afterwards.

Image

Remember the diabetic dessert I wrote about the other day? It was a huge success; we both love it.  Since a.f.c. is so sugary, it balanced out the other ingredients that were f.f. or s.f.; you wouldn’t think it was a “diet” dessert.  Josh checked his sugars before eating a small square, it was 88 so he took 2 units of insulin to be safe (every 15g of carbs = 1 unit of insulin); after eating the dessert he checked it again and it was only 105! For those of you not having to live a diabetic life style, he could have taken only 1 unit of insulin to balance out this dessert.  This means the dessert isn’t really all that “bad” for you. So eat up and enjoy a no-bake cherry cake (one square per day, don’t be greedy) 🙂

Image