Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Tostadas

Chicken Tostada

This is a fast and easy weeknight meal.  I highly recommend cooking these on a pizza stone that has been preheated in the oven.  The result will be nice and crispy tostadas, sans oil. 

Bean and chile mixture spread on a tortilla.

Bean and chile mixture topped with chicken and cheese.

Just out of the oven.

Serves: 4


  • 4 medium tortillas
  • 1 16-ounce can fat free refried beans
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded jack cheese
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Toppings: chopped cilantro, low fat sour cream, salsa, etc. 

  1. Preheat a pizza stone in the oven to 425ยบ F. 
  2. In a bowl, stir together the refried beans and diced green chiles. 
  3. Spread equal portions of the bean and chile mixture over each tortillas. 
  4. Top each tortilla with shredded chicken and sprinkle with jack cheese and green onion.
  5. Carefully transfer the tortillas to the hot pizza stone.  
  6. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the tortilla gets crispy and the cheese starts to brown. 
  7. Remove tostadas from the oven, put on dinner plates and finish with toppings of choice. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Super Bass by Sophia Grace

I might consider having a child if I could guarantee that my child would be as wonderful as this child.  Oh, and the child would have to be British.  Obviously.

Watch this video first:

Then watch this one:

...and here is the original youtube video:

If you still don't have your fix of singing child cuteness, go here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Recipe: Asian Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing

Asian Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing

Eating lots of colors is a good thing.  However, this doesn't mean colors like Cheetos' Orange -- it means colors found in nature.

This salad is chock full of natural color and it is so delicious that my honey and I ate it for dinner one night, enjoyed leftovers for the following two days, and still could have gone back for more.

It is perfect...
  • for a warm weather day as it doesn't require any cooking, just some chopping and mixing, and
  • as a potluck/make ahead dish because you can prep the dressing and veggies ahead of time and mix them up when you are ready to eat. 

Here is the link to the recipe at Once Upon a Chef.

The two adaptations I made were...
  • adding in 1 cup of shredded, cooked chicken and
  • using seasoned rice vinegar...because that is what I had.
    • If using seasoned rice vinegar, leave out the salt in the sauce.

Red bell pepper, carrot, green onion, cilantro, peanuts, and edamame.
On top of shredded cabbage.
The veggies with chicken and ginger peanut dressing on top.
All mixed up.

A close up of the magic.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Fajitas

Fajitas with shredded cheese and avocado.

These fajitas are easy and delicious, with only a few ingredients.  I found the recipe on CrockPot 365: A Year of Slow Cooking.  The key is to cook the meat low and slow so it ends up really tender.  If you would rather the veggies not be super tender, I recommend waiting to add them in until there is an hour or so left.

Place beef in bottom of slow cooker.
Cover beef with veggies.
Top veggies with seasoning and water.

Serves: 6 - 8

  • 1.5 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into cubes or strips
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 packets taco or fajita seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 small flour tortillas
  • Optional toppings:
    • Shredded cheese
    • Avocado/Guacamole
    • Cilantro 
    • Sour cream
    • Salsa 

  1. Place beef in an even layer at the bottom of the slow cooker. 
  2. Top with onion and bell peppers. 
  3. Sprinkle seasoning and water over the top. 
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.  
  5. Serve with warm tortillas and optional toppings. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Recipe: Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Creamy Mushroom Pasta


Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Shallots and garlic.
Simmering sauce.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta.

Wine, broth, and cream.

  • 1, 16-ounce package pasta, such as farfalle
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 20 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup white wine, such as sauvignon blanc 
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. 
  3. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, approximately 5 minutes. 
  4. Add shallots and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, approximately 3 minutes.
  5. Add the thyme and white wine and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add chicken broth and simmer until liquid has reduced by half, approximately 10 minutes.
  7. Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 more minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly.  
  8. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. 
  9. In a large bowl combine the pasta and sauce.  
  10. Divide pasta among bowls or plates and sprinkle with parsley (optional).

Friday, October 14, 2011

How: Weekly Meal Planning

Weekly Menu Planner

When people find out that I plan our meals every week, they sometimes don't believe me.  I get a look of disbelief and/or a delayed question such as, "wait, you really plan out your meals each week and then you actually cook them?"  Yes, I do.  I'm a planner and I enjoy cooking and eating.  It works.

There are a number of factors that influence my decision regarding our meals for the week.

How to pick your meals:
  • Schedule: What is your schedule for the week?  Which nights do you need to plan a meal?  Most Sundays we have dinner at my parents' house so that night is one we never have to worry about.
  • Time: How long do prospective meals take to prep and cook?  Something time intensive, like this Beer Braised Irish Stew, is a good option for a day when you know that you will be home -- not so good for the day when you aren't home until after 6:00 p.m. and want to eat before 8:00 p.m.  Slow cooker recipes are great for during the week IF they don't require a lot of prep time. I don't know about you but I'm already not that quick at 6:30 in the morning.  I don't need any added level of difficulty.
  • Leftovers: Bringing lunches to work during the week is both less expensive and healthier.  For meals that we cook on a weeknight, my honey and I look for dishes that serve 4 - 6 -- usually the perfect amount for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day.  In addition to the amount, I also lean towards dishes that I know will taste good leftover.  For example, the Slow Cooker Chicken Chili is just as good, if not better, leftover.
  • Weather: Yes, weather.  Certain dishes are great when it is cold out -- stew/soup type dishes, for example, warm up your kitchen just as much as they warm up your belly.  On the flip side, when it is warm out, opt for no or low-cook dishes.
  • Variety: Try to keep things interesting -- a mix of different types of foods, such as pasta, vegetarian, Mexican, etc.  I also try to find a balance between our favorites, like this Taco Salad, and new recipes I have been wanting to try, like this Avocado Pasta

Planning/time saving tips: 
  • Read these articles: Eat Like a Foodie at Home Without Breaking Your Budget and Getting Out of Eating Out: A Game Plan
  • Pick a day each week for meal planning and grocery shopping.  Depending on our schedules we do the planning and shopping on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.   
  • Make a list.  I make our list based on where things are in the store.  It makes the shopping trip go much faster.  
  • Shop early morning or late night.  Go grocery shopping either first thing in the morning or after dinner.  It will be much more likely to have the store (and staff) to yourself.
  • Post your menu.  One of the other things that helps us, especially when we are having a particularly busy week, is to have our meals for the week posted in our kitchen.  You may remember that I made this weekly dry erase menu planner.  We have it hanging over our kitchen sink.  The thing is, you don't need a fancy shmancy menu planner.  A piece of paper hung on your fridge will do just fine.  Or print out a template from online.

My love of planning is not to say that we are inflexible.  For example, this week I postponed our Slow Cooker Beef Fajitas from Wednesday to today because we ended up with more leftovers than we anticipated from a delicious Asian Slaw with Ginger-Peanut dressing that we made for dinner on Tuesday.  Recipes for both of these to come! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Recipe: Quinoa Cakes

The recipe that I found on the blog Eating Well...Living Thin is actually called quinoa burgers but I thought these were more like quinoa cakes -- you know, like crab cakes. 

This is one of those recipes that doesn't look all that good until the patties are cooked up.'ll just have to trust me that they are delicious.  Even my honey, who was a bit apprehensive to try these, thought they were really good and I know he was telling the truth because he even went back for seconds.  

We served ours with roasted brussels sprouts and this amazing mushroom recipe that my friend Erin posted on her blog.  You can find that recipe here

I have to apologize for not getting any good photos of this recipe.  See photos for reference:

Quinoa Cake over Sauteed Mushrooms and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Quinoa cake batter.

Quinoa Cakes

Makes: ~10 Quinoa Cakes

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for cooking

  1. Combine all ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a large bowl and stir to combine.  
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. 
  3. Pour 1/4 cup portions of quinoa cake batter into the skillet and cook until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side.  Drain quinoa cakes on paper towels and repeat until all the quinoa cakes are cooked. 
  4. Serve with lemon-herb sour cream, lemon-dill sauce or tzatziki.