Monday, June 28, 2010

Dinner Plan: 6/28/10

Last week, I decided to “wing it” at the grocery store. With no plan, no list, and no idea what was going on, I tried to remember the various items that I needed to purchase by roaming up and down the aisles. Though the bill at checkout was far cheaper then usual, I realized when I got home that we had very little to consume that week, and I ended up having to return to the store for more food by Thursday. Back to the plan...

Weekly Dinner Plan
I love fresh shellfish- and this is a new way to make mussels. Seems pretty easy (but who knows!)

This reminds me of the fact that my friend was convinced if she ordered anything that had the word “salad” at the end of it, the meal was low-fat. Ummm... I don't think a “cheeseburger salad” is the best diet choice. This recipe does call for grilled pork, however, so it's probably decently good for you!

Wednesday: chicken sausage with grilled peppers and onions on french bread
Mom's Birthday Dinner- yum!

Thursday: Rehearsal din-din

Friday: My BFF's wedding! Woohoo!

Saturday: Another wedding! (...and so the season begins)

Sunday: 4th of July BBQ

Goodness- we have a lot going on this week! I better rest up today (like that happens ever with a one-year-old)...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dinner Plan: 6/14/10

Weekly Dinner Plan
Monday: Beachin' it!
Despite what was looking like a very “unbeachy,” rainy, miserable night, I strapped the baby in her car seat and headed over to the club to meet my family for dinner. It turned out to be a lovely evening (if a little buggy) and Dad, who was visiting for a couple days, grilled salmon on the BBQ. The sauce that he had made was a combination of capers, soy sauce, Colman's dry mustard, and half of a lemon. It was extremely delicious, though a bit salty, because of the saliferous ingredients. Anyone with high-blood-pressure beware!

Tuesday: Chicken, rice, salad
We have so much chicken left over from Saturday, it seems a shame not to devote an entire night to leftovers!

Wednesday: Pizza
Haven't had it in a while- and New York pizza is the best. I'll have to indulge this week!

Thursday: Pennette with Summer Squash and Ricotta, salad
Mario Batalli's recipe from Food Network Magazine (May, p. 88) or This looks simple and light- begging to be eaten!

Friday: Turkey meatloaf with feta and sun-dried tomatoes, salad
I've made this before and I'll make it again. And again. And again... So good.

Saturday: Chicken lettuce wraps, rice
A healthier alternative to pitas, we'll use iceberg leaves to hold our fillings.

Sunday: Father's Day!

Friday, June 11, 2010


          Mouth agape, I observed the bodies gyrating in unison in front of me: leg raise, lunge, step-ball-change, step-ball-change, step-ball change, jump! My legs were doing something, but it certainly was NOT in any way similar to the instructor's motions. I stood so far in the back of the room (for fear that I might be seen) that it was difficult to hear what the over-enthusiastic trainer yelled into her microphone headset, and I certainly couldn't see her. I was therefore forced to imitate the movements of the woman who was exercising directly ahead. Trying to keep up was a joke- I'm not even sure that I remembered how to skip (which happened to be the principal move from which all the other maneuvers were based). Turning around to retrieve my water bottle, I nearly collided with a middle-aged woman who assured me that “everyone starts out that way.” But I know the truth.

          Uncoordinated, unbalanced, and unable to memorize simple dance moves, it seemed ridiculous that I thought this class was something that I could benefit from. When we were finally finished, the instructor averted her eyes so that they wouldn't make contact with mine. A sweaty man smiled at me as we both placed our resistance bands back in the cardboard box. “It takes about ten sessions until you really get the hang of this Jazzercise thing.” Ten session! No thank you- I think I'll just stick to the treadmill. At least it doesn't force you to cavort around the gym like a bewildered invertebrate...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Classic Cookies

There's a reason why Monica strives to identify the mystery behind Phoebe's grandmother's cookie recipe for days during an episode of Friends: they are heavenly! Lucky for us, the secret is revealed at the end of the show. The seemingly obscure recipe is the genius handiwork of none other than Nestle Tollhouse, so it is on the back of the yellow chocolate-chip bag that we all know and love.

I am not saying that the convenience of the slice-and-bake variety aren't handy and pretty good, but there is something about a chocolate chip cookie made from scratch that is just, well, delicious.

So, if you have an hour to invest in creating a classic, this is the recipe to choose.

Try not to eat 5 dozen cookie's worth of uncooked dough in one sitting!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mid-Week Round-Up

Maple-Mustard BBQ Pork Chops

  1. Time- Not too too bad. From start to finish, this recipe took about 45 minutes. I'm sure if I didn't have to keep going over to the computer to look at what was next, it would have gone much more quickly. No one thing took a while, there were just a lot of little things to be done: combine all the sauce ingredients, grill the pork on both sides, continuously baste the pork, bake the meat in the oven, slice the apples, coat them in oil and grill them (in two batches)...

  1. Mess- Measuring cups, mixing bowl, cutting board- it wasn't a really horrific clean up. The recipe moves quickly though, so cleaning as you go is not an option. I didn't even get to put away the ingredients I had used until dinner was finished. The meat didn't splatter during cooking, yet the counters needed to be disinfected several times because I was working with raw pork. Additionally, the grill pan needed to soak overnight to get all the crud off.

  1. Moolah- I had to purchase maple syrup (I think most people would probably have this, though), apple cider, allspice, an onion, and the apples, so overall the cost was pretty minimal. Other than the apple cider and the produce, these are all things that can keep for a while and will be used again.

  1. Nutrition Information- Calories 400, Protein 40 grams, Fat 13 grams, Sodium 720 milligrams, Cholesterol 105 milligrams, Saturated Fat 3 grams, Carbohydrates 25 grams. Pork is well-recognized as a leaner meat, so it's no surprise that this recipe turns out a mere 13 grams of fat per serving. I would presume that the majority of the calories in this dish are provided by the maple syrup, which is high in sugar.

  1. Taste- I found the pork to be very dry. Maybe if it were seared on the grill for less time and baked for longer it would be better? I'm not sure...

    The sauce, however, was delicious, as were the grilled apples. The sugars really came out of the fruit on the grill and they caramelized very nicely. It made me think that pizza with grilled apples, onions, and feta would be really good. I'll let you know when I try it!

Oven-Baked “Fried” Chicken

  1. Tick-Tock: So quick, it's ridiculous. It takes about 5-10 minutes to put it all together (once you get the hang of it) and then it bakes in the oven for 30 minutes (during which time you can prepare a side dish, a salad, and make yourself a cocktail).

  1. Mess: Not bad. A couple bowls from dredging the chicken and the wire rack has to be cleaned. The baking sheet is lined with tinfoil, so it doesn't even get soiled. Again, you are working with raw chicken so the countertops (and your hands) need to be washed constantly.

  1. Cost: $0. Lucky for me I didn't have to purchase anything for this. Be sure to have pre-grated Parmesan cheese, lest ye be grating your “good” stuff for an hour. Not worth it. Also, it's an excellent idea to have Panko on hand to replace regular Italian bread crumbs in recipes. They are lighter and yummier (in my opinion). I find them in the Asian section of the international aisle of my supermarket.

  1. Nutrition- This dish is super-low in fat and calories, so you can enjoy a nice big ice cream sundae after!

  1. Taste-It's easy to make, it's cheap, and it's delicious! Do not skip steps here, though- they make a difference.

      a) Pound the chicken with a mallet (or a frying pan- something heavy) between two sheets of wax paper or in a plastic bag (that's partially opened to mollify the balloon-popping effect). Get it nice and thin for a more tender consistency (about ¼ inches).
      b) Put a cookie-cooling rack (which usually comes with your oven) on top of a baking sheet, and put the chicken on the cooling rack to bake. This makes the chicken delicious and crispy all the way around!

Bon appetite!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dinner Plan: 6/7/10

Weekly Dinner Plan
Monday:  Maple-mustard barbequed pork chops, couscous, salad
This week I will actually make this meal, instead of “forgetting” to take out the pork and ordering Thai instead.

Tuesday: Oven-baked “fried” chicken, salad, rice
I love this chicken- so simple, it's become one of my “go-to” recipes. BTW, making brown rice in chicken broth makes it very flavorful and eliminates the need for butter and salt!

Wednesday: Ravioli, salad
Pasta Prima's Chicken and Mozzarella Ravioli has been sitting in my freezer, waiting patiently to be made, and my mother-in-law sent us home with a yummy marinara that she just made on Sunday. Perfecto!

Thursday: Chicken Tandori, red potatoes, salad
This recipe comes from Food Network Magazine (May issue, p.75). The article is entitled “Weeknight Cooking,” so it'll probably be nice and easy, plus it's only 9 grams of fat. Woohoo! The recipe is also online:

Friday: Chicken burgers
These are pre-made from the butcher, and they are so delicious. We haven't had them in a long time!

Saturday: BBQ
We have not yet decided what we're going to have, but it will be on the grill!

Sunday: Wedding shower- fun!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Review

A one-word appraisal of the past two nights' meals would be “superb,” but that refers only to the taste. Myriad other factors should be considered when considering a recipe: (1) length of time it took to make the meal (which is almost always twice as long as it says above the recipe), (2) how many dishes it requires (and if they can be washed along the way- or have to be left until the end), (3) if most of the ingredients were already in the pantry ready to go (if you have to spend $50 at the supermarket on one dinner, what's the point? You might as well get it pre-made!), (4) how fattening it is (anyone can make something taste good when adding 8 sticks of butter), and THEN (and only then) (5) taste should be acknowledged. That said, here is a more detailed assessment of the spaghetti and the chicken from the past two nights:

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

  1. Time- The listed amount of total time is 1 hour, 10 minutes. In reality, the recipe took more like 2-2 ½ hours to complete. You have to consider the fact that you are making the sauce (which has to cook and simmer for a while in order to thicken); making, forming, and frying the meatballs; and boiling the pasta. Then, you combine everything and add the parmesan and oregano. If you have the time, though, it's worth it, because although it says 4 servings, the yield is a lot more. The sauce and meatballs can be frozen to make another supper in the future.

  1. Messiness- 3 rather large items are required for this recipe: the dutch oven (which is heavy and therefore can be difficult to wash, the large skillet to fry the meatballs, and the pasta pot. Additionally, you need a large bowl to make the meatballs, a cutting board, sharp knife, strainer, measuring spoons, can opener, etc. The point is, a lot of dishes are involved, so clean-up can be lengthy.

  1. $- I basically had to purchase an onion, the tomato puree, tomato paste, ground turkey, and saltines (which I now have ten billion of, if anyone wants to have a saltine party with me). For such a large meal, the cost was not too bad. I keep fresh herbs in the garden, so that saves me a bundle at the grocery store (you can also plant herbs in a pot if you don't have the room- just ALWAYS keep mint separate, as we had it take over the entire garden a couple years ago. It JUST WON”T DIE!).

  1. Fatty fat fat fat- Real Simple actually lists the nutrition information under each recipe. I peeked. 37 grams of fat per serving. Eww.

  1. Taste- I'm not going to take back my initial judgement, however I would like to elaborate. The overall meal was, in fact, superb, however I found the sauce to be a little thin. Perhaps the use of chopped tomatoes instead of puree would alleviate this? Maybe I'll also allow the sauce to simmer longer on the stove. Additionally, I think the recipe called for too much tomato paste.

Cheddar Chicken

  1. Time- This was actually a really quick one. The total time as per the magazine says 45 minutes, which is pretty accurate- this includes the 30 minutes it takes to bake the chicken! There is no chopping if you use pre-minced garlic, and if you use pre-shredded cheddar, excess time (and dishes!) won't be utilized.

  1. Messiness- Very few dishes were necessary for this recipe, so clean-up was easy.

  1. $- I just had to buy the crackers. Seriously, Ritz and saltines are beginning to take up the entire cupboard.

  1. Chunky monkey- It says 32 grams of fat. It feels like 2,000 grams of fat.

  1. Taste- The chicken tasted extremely decadent. I can't believe I dipped the chicken in melted butter before slathering it in ritz cracker crumbs and cheddar cheese. The meal was very reminiscent of being at home- the cuisine equivalent of a giant hug from someone you love (picture someone who is a little, well, round).

Thankfully tonight we're having salmon- I think I've consumed my allowance of calories for the week in two days.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dinner Plan: 6/1/10

Memorial Day has come and gone- and I have the horrific tan lines to prove it. Summer is upon us, and with its onset: grilling season! Let's see how many days I can get the hubby outside to make some awesome meals (but I better have a backup plan, just in case an evening golf game rears it's ugly head and my agenda is thwarted)...

Weekly Dinner Plan
Monday: Turkey burgers on the grill, salad
Last night the weather was absolutely gorgeous, so Kyle and I wanted to hang out outside and grill. This is tough when you're “burgered-out” from the weekend, so we decided a lighter version of the classic would be best. Ground turkey, diced onion, and a yellow pepper sauce that Kyle had made for salmon on Friday were smushed together to create a moist and tangy patty. Mmmm... delectable! The recipe for the sauce is here: It was amazing on the salmon, great in the burgers, and I would imagine it could take the place of a hollandaise on asparagus too!

Tuesday: Spaghetti with turkey meatballs, salad
While leafing through this month's issue of Real Simple magazine, I came across an article on family recipes, so I thought I'd try a couple this week. Tonight's weather is supposed to be kind of crummy (rain, rain, rain), so I thought I would take a stab at a comfort-food classic: spaghetti and meatballs. The recipe is on p. 244 in the May (okay, I'm a little behind) issue of Real Simple, or

Wednesday: Cheddar chicken, rice pilaf, salad
Okay, okay... so it's not an elegant meal, far from it. But doesn't it sound good? Sharp cheddar cheese, buttery crackers, rich rice pilaf to go with it... yum! Real Simple, May 2010, p. 242, or

Thursday: Corn & salmon chowder, french bread, salad
The “chowder” part sounds heavy, the “salmon” part sounds light. The whole thing sounds delicious. This recipe comes from a cookbook designed to make food for little ones, but I think this sounds really tasty! Cooking for Baby by Lisa Barnes, p. 104.

Friday: Maple-mustard barbequed pork chops, couscous, salad
While browsing for something yummy for Kyle to make on the grill, I came across this recipe, which uses the indoor grill pan. Chances are, I'll be making it (since it's INSIDE the house), but it sounded too good not to try!

Saturday: Birthday party
Avery's BFF is turning one! Can't wait for the super-fun pool party!

Sunday: Taking the day off!
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