26 New Recipes

I was perusing Instagram this morning while recuperating on the couch and came across a picture from Megan_NerdNest. She talked about how she’s documenting 52 new recipes this year in a book. I’ve now been thinking about this idea for the remainder of my afternoon and decided I wanted to do something similar. I’ll incorporate it into my regular Project Life album but I’m going to challenge myself to document 2 new recipes a month (less pressure for me not having to do it weekly!) This will require a little more planning on my part and cooking these recipes during the weekend so I can photograph them but I am up for the challenge!

I’ve already cooked at at least 3 new recipes so far this year and we’ve determined that 2 of them are coming into a regular rotation. I’m trying really hard to use my cookbooks and not just peruse the internet for recipes, so far it’s been a win! From here on out I’ll be sharing the new recipes and what we thought here on the blog!

 

 

 

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Meal Planning

Anyone out there plan their meals for the week/bi weekly/monthly? We do it weekly here and then I spend Friday doing the grocery shopping for the upcoming week. We typically plan Saturday-Friday because that’s what works best for our schedule. Earlier this month I picked up a great meal planner from this great little Etsy shop. What I love most about it is that the pages are perforated and you tear them out weekly but then you can also tear off your shopping list! Win/Win. She doesn’t always have them in her shop but if you follow her on Facebook she lets you know when they’ll be available.

Since moving we have spent a LOT more time in the kitchen. It’s not as easy to say “I don’t feel like cooking tonight let’s just go grab something.” There isn’t much nearby and thing we were used to in Denver (Chipotle. Jimmy Johns. Wich Which.) are either non existent or way far away to make a quick run for dinner. We’ve picked up some great new cookbooks and have had fun trying out 2 new recipes a week. The Skinny Taste cookbook has proven to be a real winner! We’ve loved everything we’ve made so far.

I’ve been trying to double some meals so we have some easy freezer options as well. We’ve run out of all of those so I’ll spend today catching up! Going to make some bolognese to throw in the freezer as well as some more soup! Thought I’d share our meal plan in case anyone needs ideas! Happy Sunday!

Sunday: Pot Roast, Cesar Salad, Sweet Potatoes

Monday: Cubano Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Green Salad, Roasted Brussels Sprouts (I’ll roast an extra tenderloin as well that’s just got some good seasoning for leftovers)

Tuesday: Mediterranean Turkey Burgers with Greek Salad

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Taco Salads

Friday: Shrimp with Broccoli

Saturday: out!

Brrrrrrr!!!!

Good Morning and hello Monday! We woke up to temps of 27˚ outside this morning! What the what?! I was so not prepared for the bitter chill that temperatures that cold bring into the house. Especially when you don’t turn on the heat (whoops!) Luckily we learned that our house warms up quickly and our heat does indeed work.

After a long and busy weekend all I wanted to do last night was to head out to a bar and grab some dinner and watch football. I wanted nothing to do with the kitchen or dishes. We were both beyond tired though and opted to stay in, throw on jammies and watch more Breaking Bad. We are seriously addicted and almost done with season 3.

We decided on Gyoza Soup, otherwise known as clean out the freezer/fridge soup. It’s so good and so filling. I’m glad I made more than enough for lunch leftovers today! You can tune this soup to your liking and add in pretty much anything that sounds delicious or any vegetables that are about to turn. The first time we made this soup we used fresh spinach which was really yummy!

When the soup was done cooking I set up the perfect picture and snapped away. Then I set my phone aside and quickly dove in only to later realize that my phone didn’t actually take the pictures. My iPhone 5S is giving me a run for my money these days and it’s only 6 months old. Guess I’ll have to make a trip to the Apple Store this week.

Enjoy your Monday!

gyoza soup

1 medium onion {cut in half, then sliced thin}

4 carrots {peeled and sliced into circles}

2 celery stalks, diced

6-8 large mushrooms, sliced

8-10 Trader Joes frozen Gyoza {we used pork this time}

1 container Trader Joes organic chicken broth

2 cups water

1/2 bag Trader Joes frozen Kale

salt

pepper

ginger powder

garlic powder

hoisin sauce

olive oil

sauté onions in olive oil until they are slightly translucent, then add in carrots and celery. cook until veggies begin to soften. add in mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown. season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and ginger powder {we didn’t have fresh ginger or I would have used it and I was too lazy to deal with fresh garlic!}

add in the container of chicken broth and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. once boiling add in the frozen kale and bring back to a boil. allow the soup to boil for 5-8 minutes depending on the size of the kale pieces. add in gyoza and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes. don’t let the gyoza over cook!

serve immediately! this is delicious when you drizzle in hoisin sauce but just as good without it. we had some leftover rotisserie chicken so I shredded it and placed a little bit in each of our bowls. I ladled the soup on top and when we sat down to eat everything was nice and hot. this soup was super filling, we each only had one bowl!

have some fun with this recipe and add in vegetables to your liking. Trader Joes has other gyoza as well, there’s a vegetarian version and a chicken one too.

Beef + Butternut Squash Stew

This week’s meal plan had not one but two new recipes! While all of our cookbooks are still in storage in Denver {insert loud sobs!} I somehow managed to bring along a binder of recipes from magazines that I’ve cut out over the years. We’ve been working with that and checking out books from the library to fill in our meal plans. Last night’s dinner was a Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash served with couscous. I added more spices than the original recipe called for and I think I’d even bump it up a notch again next time.

This recipe came from a Cooking Light magazine in the January/February 2011 issue. I bought beef stew meat from Whole Foods because it was on sale. I think because of the cut of meat I used this was not a 40 minute recipe, which worked out well for me. I also believe this could be a great dish cooked low and slow in the crock pot or even in the oven on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I’ll be experimenting with this because we both thought that the flavors were so awesome and because the boy, ahem the husband requested lots of butternut squash in the future!

I’ll apologize in advance that there isn’t a single photo of this dish. It was dark + gloomy + rainy and I never took a single picture. {Must be better about that!!} The photo below is from the Cooking Light website.

1101p80-beef-tagine-squash-m

Beef Tangine with Butternut Squash

adapted from Cooking Light


2 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 pounds beef cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small onions, cut into thin wedges

4 garlic cloves chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

3 cups (1 inch) cubed and peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the beef, toss to coat. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat (I used my large Le Cruset pot, it was the perfect size.) Add onions and let them begin to brown. Add in beef, stir occasionally until browned. Add in garlic, stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn but make sure it gets cooked! Stir in broth and deglaze the pan, scrape up all those yummy brown bits!! Add in tomatoes and bring everything to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then add squash. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Serve over couscous.

{The cooking ingredients are what the original recipe suggested. My beef and my squash weren’t ready at this point. I allowed them to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. I believe it’s because of the cut of beef I used but nonetheless it was a delicious dish!}

Testing Testing

Sunday dinners are one of my favorite family rituals. We cook dinner at my inlaws house every week. It’s time spent together in the kitchen, talking, catching up and goofing off, always ending with a yummy home cooked meal.

Lately I’ve taken to using Sunday afternoons to prep food for the week. A good relaxing way to start the week and it’s helpful to have a good base for healthy eating. It makes packing lunches so much easier, not to mention throwing dinners together. Meal planning is one of my favorite things to do.

Tonight we took our weekly Sunday trip to the grocery store. We had a meal plan in our heads and when we got to the store we found that the selection of fish was subpar for the fish tacos we were going to make. Quick change of plans and we decided to throw salmon and flank steak on the grill. I also figured it would be a good test run for my upcoming #whole30!

The flank steak got tenderized and a quick marinade of lime juice, ginger and soy sauce. (Need to figure out a replacement for the soy sauce to make it whole 30 approved.) The salmon got a dusting of lemon pepper. We also tossed some asparagus with salt, pepper and olive oil. Thrown on the grill as well, 75% of our meal was done, you have to love quick and easy meals! The salsa that we made would be so good over many different proteins, I’m thinking next time shrimp!

No pictures today, we were so hungry we dove right in!

Mango Jicama Salsa
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 jicama, diced
1 mango, diced
1 jalapeño, reseeded and minced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 avocado, diced
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Dressing:
Juice of 3 limes
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup Olive oil or avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together. Pour over salsa. Serve immediately.

Trader Joe’s!!

YOU GUYS!!!! Trader Joe’s has finally, finally arrived in Colorado. I know that I was not the only person doing a happy dance about this, especially with the insane crowds and crazy empty shelves in the stores. Seriously though? I’ve lived here for 5 years and patiently waited for them to open. I’ve lugged back bags of freezer goodies from Chicago and California. I’ve stuffed my carryon to the brim with snacks and goodies that can only be found at TJ’s. February 14 could not have come soon enough.

We braved the Denver store Sunday afternoon and while parking seemed out of control we just grabbed a spot on the street and walked into the store. It was slight chaos in the store but the employees were rockstars and on top of making sure things were moving along. We walked through the store and I was able to grab some favorite items and some new things to try as well. Sadly they were out of my most favorite pineapple salsa but I think I can survive without it for a while longer. One of the things I was most intrigued by was the box of frozen quinoa. Similar to their boxes of frozen white or brown rice, packaged in 2 smaller bags inside that are thrown into the microwave. I wanted a bag of dry quinoa but since there wasn’t any and I had a salad idea brewing in my head I snagged this to give it a try. I’ll report back on it later this week with the recipe that went along with it!

For Sunday dinner we picked up a package of Chicken Pesto Sausages (precooked) lots of assorted veggies, a bag of bow tie pasta, pesto and parmesan cheese. Dinner was a success, 2 out of the 3 of us liked the sausage. We all agreed it tasted slightly like beef salami (so strange I know) and I think this is an item I’ll bypass the next time I’m in the store. Too many other delicious things to eat out there. Below you’ll find the recipe for the first of many TJ inspired meals I’m sure! All items were purchased at Trader Joe’s. (I apologize for the quality of the photo. It was late, I was beyond hungry after a miserable brunch and I just snapped it and started eating.)

Enjoy!

Brown Butter Pesto Pasta with Veggies 

ImageIngredients

1 bag pasta (we used bow ties)

1 package Chicken Pesto Sausages (omit if you want this to be a vegetarian meal! substitute with your favorite sausage!)

1 pack of baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 container of mushroom, onion and asparagus (sliced and ready to go in the refrigerator vegetable section)

1 bag english peas (found in the refrigerator vegetable section)

1 bag of small zucchini, chopped

1 jar Trader Joe’s Pesto

5 tablespoons butter

olive oil

salt

pepper

Italian seasoning

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 lemons (zested and juiced)

Directions

Follow cooking instructions on pasta package.

While pasta water is boiling, heat up a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook package of asparagus, mushrooms and onions until asparagus is tender. Transfer to large bowl. In the skillet add in 1 tablespoon of butter and once it’s melted add in mushrooms and Italian seasoning to taste. Cook mushrooms until golden brown. Transfer to bowl of vegetables. Add in chopped zucchini and additional seasoning to taste, cook for a few minutes until you’ve got some nice color on them. Add in 2 tablespoons of pasta water, cover with a lid and let cook for 3-5 minutes until zucchini are tender. Add in garlic and continue to saute until fragrant. Remove from skillet and add into the bowl of vegetables. Toss cut up sausages into the pan along with the bag of english peas. Cook until the sausages are warmed through and the peas are bright green. Toss together with all the cooked vegetables. Season accordingly with salt and pepper. In the same pan, place remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and cook over medium high heat until the butter turns a golden brown and smells nutty. Add in jar of pesto and cook down for a few minutes, stirring continuously. Add in lemon zest and lemon juice, give the sauce another stir and then add in pasta. Combine together so that pasta is coated by the sauce. Serve pasta topped with the vegetables and sausages. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

*omit sausage to create a vegetarian meal.

*to make this into a vegan meal, whip up your own batch of pesto and omit butter from the sauce!

braised short ribs. your dinner just got owned!

that my friends is exactly what the boy, ahem the husband, said when we sat down for dinner tonight. and then he leaned over and told me it was amazing. that doesn’t happen all the time so I was one happy girl (I mean he tells me dinner is good and everything but this got a kick ass reaction!) seriously people this recipe is to die for. I only wish I had more short ribs on hand because somehow I only bought 5 and I forgot how much they can shrink up. pureed parsnips are delicious. they’re sweet like carrots but just as tasty as mashed potatoes. what wouldn’t be if you’re mixing it with butter, cream and horseradish? kick it up a notch by using extra hot horseradish and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. need a delicious recipe for a dinner party? perhaps one for valentines day? or to woo someone you love? go, no scratch that, run, to the nearest book store and buy The Smitten Kitchen. I can’t recommend it enough. and with an endorsement like that from the boy, ahem the husband, you know it’s gotta be good.

since I mentioned the cost of our dinner yesterday I’ll do it again. this dinner was more expensive than last night but it all balances out. this dinner had no leftovers (boo!) and was only for two of us.

short ribs (Whole Foods) $11.00 for just about 2lbs

parsnips (king soopers) $3.00

butter, horseradish and garlic we’ll call it even at about $1.50

total: $15.50

definitely can’t get something this delicious at a restaurant for $7.75 per person

shortribswhat are you waiting for?! go!!

January 30

I am feeling stuck. I have a long list of things I want to do and an even longer list of things I need to do but I can’t seem to find the motivation to do any of them.

The one thing that I do seem able to do? Cook. Not a bad thing I suppose since it’s helping us eat healthier and eat in. I’ve been trying to cook new things from all the cookbooks I’ve earmarked over the years. This week on our menu I have two new recipes: mustard pork chops with apples and onions from Dinner: A Love Story as well as balsamic + beer braised short ribs with parsnip puree from Smitten Kitchen. Both of the women who wrote these books have amazing food blogs and tell stories which I love.

We had the pork chops last night and they were delicious. Will definitely make it onto our rotation of meals (love that!) I of course didn’t take any pictures while cooking. What is wrong with me?! One day I suppose. One day. I served the pork chops with a simple green salad and sauteed rainbow chard with garlic and pine nuts. Pretty delicious, fed three adults plus enough for left overs for the boy, ahem the husband to take for lunch today. The best part about the meal? Everything was on hand, the meat came from the freezer and the chard was in the fridge (I may have forgotten about it…) Cost of this meal?

Pork Chops (King Soopers) under $5.00 for 6 chops

Rainbow Chard (Whole Foods) $2.00

Garlic (King Soopers) $0.25 and that is for the whole bulb

Pine Nuts (Cosco) No idea but it’s a giant bag and we probably used a portion that would equal $0.50

Salad Stuff (King Soopers) $3.00

Assorted oils, butters and dressings used in the meal we’ll count at $2.00 (I’m sure that’s high but whatever)

Total for our meal that served 3 adults and 1 leftover lunch? $12.75

Proof that eating in is waaaaaaaay cheaper and clearly healthier. $3.18 per person? That rocks.

Hmmm. Now that I’ve broken up the cost of our meal I think I want to do that more often and see how it works out. Especially since I have a weakness for Whole Foods. Perhaps a post on how to shop there since I’ve learned tricks (things there can actually be cheaper than elsewhere! It’s true!)

Short ribs are up tomorrow night. If I am not overly exhausted perhaps I’ll remember to take pictures.

Time to eat a grapefruit, all this food talk has made me hungry!

Dinner and other stuff

It’s no secret that I love food. Eating it and cooking it makes me happy. I love going out to eat but our wallets, well they don’t love that so much! So we’ve been making a really big effort to eat at home. I can happily say that in the past 11 days we’ve only eaten out twice for dinner. Once by choice {new years day dinner demanded a delicious burger from The Cherry Cricket. Aside from being tasty it was a great hangover cure. Not that I would know that. Ahem.} The other dinner out wasn’t by choice. It was when my Le Cruset pot decided to implode and destroy both the pot and my dinner. And yes, there were tears involved as well as many, many swear words. {I have no idea what happened with the pot, it’s currently back at headquarters being looked at but I do know for sure that it wasn’t something I did!!} To top all of that off we don’t have a working oven. It’s winter. I want my oven! I want to roast, braise and bake things! Thankfully it will be fixed on Tuesday but we’ve had to be creative with our meals! Lots of stove top and crock pot meals here.

Our eating habits at home are typically very healthy. I love fruits and vegetables and happily incorporate them into our meals. The boy, ahem the husband, is back on his low carb kick so no pasta, bread, potatoes, etc. I’ve been on a total citrus kick and can not stop eating grapefruits. Two nights ago I whipped up this salad and then last night I kicked it up a notch and I think I’ve found my new go to meal. It was so light and refreshing and totally healthy. It could be adapted in so many ways! I may have gone overboard on our date night in last night with the filet and this salad but I know that the boy, ahem the husband, certainly loved it so I suppose that’s what matters right?

What have you been eating this year? I can’t stop eating grapefruit, carrots, cheese and crackers. I’ve passed the candy aisle at the grocery store a bazillion times but nothing sounds good {which is so strange to me because I have the biggest sweet tooth!}

IMG_0659

IMG_0669*photo 1: the first salad I made, no shrimp, quick vinaigrette with champagne vinegar, meyer lemon olive oil and Dijon mustard. photo 2: date night dinner, same salad kicked up a notch, see recipe below. sauteed mushrooms, filet crusted with special spice rub and mashed cauliflower*

 

 

The Best Salad Ever

Bibb Lettuce (or whatever you have on hand or enjoy)

2 grapefruits, segmented with the juice squeezed

1 avocado sliced and tossed with grapefruit segments and juice

10-12 shrimp

salt

pepper

cayenne pepper

garlic powder

butter

sliced almonds (these are our favorite ones)

olive oil

optional: Blue Cheese

 

-Wash and dry your lettuce, set aside

-I used salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder to season my shrimp but any seasoning will do. I probably used a 1/4 teaspoon of each but I just dumped everything into a small bowl, eyeballing measurements.

-peel and de-vein your shrimp (I bought frozen, raw shrimp that had all that done from Costco!) Make sure they are DRY. Season your shrimp with your spice mixture.

-In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and when it’s nice and hot place the shrimp in your pan. Remember you don’t want to over cook your shrimp! Once they turn pink and are no longer translucent they are done. I cooked mine for about 2 minutes per side.

Time to assemble your salad!

Place your lettuce on a plate. Top with the grapefruit/avocado mixture. Drizzle some of the grapefruit juice on top. Sprinkle on sliced almonds. Top with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange shrimp on top of your salad and then drizzle a good olive oil on top. If you like blue cheese that would make a nice addition (so I’ve heard!)

Enjoy!

This makes a great side salad or could be a meal in itself. Would also be delicious with pomegranate seeds if you have some on hand.

InstaFriday!

I LOVE Instagram. I know that I’m not the only one out there! The way camera phones operate these days is outstanding, and let’s face it…who wants to lug their giant cameras around all the time? Insert my iPhone. I love it. It takes amazing pictures {and I’m sure my new iPhone takes amazing ones too! I’ll have to play with it this week and get lots of pictures.} I like being able to share my life with friends and family scattered across the country and I love it even more because I’m able to see my friends and family from a far.. Here’s my week according to Instagram. Want to link up? Go see all the fun happening over at Life Rearranged!

life rearranged

 

Ummm, yeah. That’s snow…and a good amount of it! Hello crazy weather in Colorado! No worries, it melted .2 seconds after I snapped this. Well not really but it melted fast.

How cute is this pup? We got to hang out with him for a few days and it was a treat. I want a dog sooooooo badly but I know that it’s just not the right time for us to get one. Until then we’ll just keep borrowing 🙂

I made broccoli cheddar soup! While it wasn’t as good as Panera’s it was still pretty tasty. Read about it here. I’d make it again, but make some changes.

Hello beautiful! I’ve been wanting one of these FOREVER. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. I knew when I got married my mom would give it to me as a gift. She’s the one who taught me to cook and bake and love the kitchen so I thought it was a fun reason to wait. I’m SO happy that it’s finally time to break it out and use it.

A good friend is having a baby next month and I went to her baby shower on Sunday. Three of us decided to go in together to get the gift and I was in charge or buying it. If you know me you know just how much fun this was. If you don’t know me then I’ll just say that if this could be a profession I’d do it in a heartbeat. Babies make me happy. I sent my girlfriends a quick text showing them most of what we were giving the lucky mom 🙂

Jameson and Ginger Beer? Best drink invention ever. Apparently I didn’t look like I needed the grownup size but this one worked just fine.

I spent yesterday editing photos from my first holiday season photo shoot. yay! Love this family .

Impromptu(ish) dinner party on a Wednesday night? Always a good idea. Chatting a bit too long after work and getting stuck in traffic? That means whipping up something as fast as I can for friends to snack on while I whip dinner together. Whoops. Green bowl on bottom that you can only see a sliver of? That’s good old Pace salsa. And how fun is that awesome platter? It goes so well with my Anthropologie bowls and was a wedding gift from a great friend.

The remains of dinner from the dinner party…and let me tell you those leftovers are so tasty! Want the recipe? Check it out here…It was pretty tasty again and a great dinner party meal. Easily made vegetarian (I subbed veggie stock for the chicken stock and made two bowls of it, adding chicken to one.)

Met some girlfriends here for happy hour today. The menu looked amazing! I tried a delicious new beer (for $3!) and we had some awesome fried pickles, house made corn nuts and green eggs and ham deviled eggs. Yum! Nothing better than gabbing away with girlfriends over treats. Must come back for dinner.

 

And finally….the best part of the week! We’ve been waiting… and waiting…and waiting… and it finally arrived! We are OFFICIALLY married according to the state of Colorado. Yay! Two months later and now I can start the long and tedious (so I’ve heard) process of changing my name.

HAPPY FRIDAY!