Archive | April, 2012

Working Momma’s Menus

20 Apr

20120420-171046.jpg

It is shortly after 6pm by the time I get home from work and picking the boys up at preschool each day. If those boys don’t eat by 6:45 (7 at the very latest) I would have true monsters on my hands, so I don’t have much time to get a meal done from start to finish. Of course, cooking would go much quicker and more smoothly if I didn’t have to keep stopping to ask one child to take the mixing bowl off his head and the other one to stop jumping off the couch, but such is our lot in life these days. I know many of you are in the same boat and I’m sure years from now we’ll look back on it all and laugh but frankly these days I’m usually too exhausted to even bother. That’s why I started planning my meals like this – it really helps me stay organized. I can do some tasks the night before or even in the morning before leaving for work and then when I get home I know exactly what needs to be done. I don’t have to panic and wonder what to make or if we have the right ingredients in the house. Of course, to make things more difficult on myself, I also really enjoy trying out new recipes (mostly to moderate success, although occasionally to complete disaster). These next two weeks I have quite a few new recipes I want to give a try. I’m hoping they’re all successes – K is finally eating pasta and so I’m a little giddy at the thought of all the possibilities!

So while I’m still planning out my menus two weeks at a tim and put them on my little dry erase board, I’m not going to list them out here by date anymore. For starters, I’ve been switching them around last minute a lot to accomodate our schedules, and secondly, I have to be honest, the idea of putting the nights we are out of the house online was just a little too creepy for me. Either way, here are our 9 recipes for the next two weeks 🙂

1. Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken over rice with roasted broccoli

A new slow cooker recipe that I have high hopes for. With the greatest side dish of all time.

2. Skinny Penne ala Vodka

This recipe uses Greek yogurt to give it creaminess without all the fat!

3. Parmesan and Panko crusted Tilapia with (Weight Watchers!) Spinach Muffins

I know, spinach muffins! Sounds crazy – but I think they’ll be a great side dish to a healthy fish dinner.

4. Chicken Enchilada Pasta

Mexican meets Italian!

5. Red Peppers stuffed with Rice and chicken sausage

Even if your kids (like mine) only eat the stuffing, it’s still a great meal.

6. Arugula and White Beans with Pasta

Heart healthy and filling, white beans go great with slightly spicy arugula from a GREAT menu planner.

7. Tuna Puttanesca

This is originally a Rachael Ray recipe that I’ve tweaked to make even easier. I can probably make it blind folded at this point. So quick. So good.

8. Slow Cooker Chicken and Lentils over rice

Apparently, young boys love lentils. Who knew?

9. Spaghetti with Muffin Tin Meatballs

Because my husband specifically requested this.

Sweet Treat: “Almond Joy” Rice Krispie Treats

13 Apr

Okay, I know I am not exactly a professional food stager/photographer – but I wanted to give you an idea of how rich and chocolatey and yummy these treats are.  We recently went to a friend’s house for a bbq and I was tasked with bringing dessert.  I was happy to do so but wanted to bring something that I could enjoy without feeling like I was killing all my healthy eating habits.  At the same time, I also wanted something fun and a little more indulgent than fruit salad.  Enter, the Rice Krispie Treat.  I can’t lie and say this dessert can be considered health food.  BUT it is a much healthier alternative for dessert than most chocolate cakes or cookies (or this crack pie that I’ve been dying to try and make) and perfect for those nights when you really want something sweet and fruit just won’t cut it.  It is also really easy to make and can be modified and adapted to a variety of flavors.  Variations could include Peppermint Patty (omit the coconut and almond and add 1-2 tsp. of peppermint extract); Peanut Butter Cup (omit the coconut and almond and add ½ a cup of creamy peanut butter); Rollos (omit the coconut and almond and add ½ cup of caramel ice cream topping).  I told you, the possibilities are endless . . .

Ingredients:

6 cups cocoa rice krispies

3 TBSP butter

10.5 oz mini marshmallows (one bag)

1 tsp almond extract

½ tsp coconut extract

1/2 cup shredded coconut (plus a handful for sprinkling on top)

½ bag of chocolate chips or melting chocolate (optional)

½ vegetable oil (optional)

Directions:

  • Melt butter in a large pot over medium/medium-high heat. 
  • Add marshmallows and stir well.  Mind the marshmallows and continue stirring until they are fully melted.  You can tell they are fully melted when there are no more mini-mallow shaped bumps.  It might even start bubbling.  Once it is fully melted, turn the heat off.
  • Quickly add the coconut, almond extract and coconut extract.  Stir really well.  Then immediately add the rice krispies and stir.  And then stir some more.  Make sure all the melted marshmallow mixture gets fully incorporated with the rice krispies.
  • Pour the mixture into a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray (alternatively you can just spread it out onto a cookie sheet). 
  • Put the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 45 seconds.  Stir and then if necessary continue microwaving in 15 second increments, stopping to stir between each, until fully melted.  Spoon the chocolate into a sandwich bag.  (Or, depending on how you feel about microwaving chocolate, place the chocolate into a sandwich bag and close the bag.  Heat as above until melted but instead of stirring just knead the chocolate with your hands – but watch out, the bag might be hot!).  You can also add vegetable oil to the chocolate before melting it to give it a shiny look. 
  • Snip the corner off the bag and use it to drizzle chocolate over the top of the treats.  Allow the chocolate to cool before serving.

Sweet Treat: Easter Macaroon Birds’ Nests

7 Apr

20120407-172952.jpg

Just a quick and easy treat I forgot I wanted to share in time for Easter! I made these last weekend for an Easter Egg Hunt and I think they turned out really great. You can make them plain or chocolate (or both like I did!). And really, all things considered, they really aren’t that bad for you (well, at least the macaroons aren’t). Either way, they are an easy, perfect treat for the holiday weekend.

Coconut Macaroon Robins Nests

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sweetened fat free condensed milk
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
1/2 cup Nutella
2 TBSP cocoa powder (Optional)
1 bag/box of Robin’s Eggs (or other Easter candy)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until combined. Add in the coconut and mix well. If you want to make chocolate nests, mix in the cocoa powder at this time too.
3. With a spoon, scoop up about 2-3 Tablespoons of the dough and place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Form the cookies into the shape of a bird nest. Press down the center with your thumb.
4. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and press your thumb down in the center of the nests again. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes or until they are firm and set. Remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.
5. Fill a sandwich bag up with about ½ cup of Nutella. Snip the corner off with scissors and use the bag as a pastry bag to pipe about a TBSP of Nutella into the center of each nest. Place 3 egg candies in the center of the nest. Makes about one dozen.

Spring Fever

7 Apr

So we are finally fully into Spring, having passed most of the major holidays and hallmarks (birthdays, anniversaries) and now we are just in crunch time trying to make it to summer. Work is busy, Michael and I both have races coming up, and Spring Fever is officially making it difficult to slave over the stove every night after work. But of course, we must eat, so I’ve put together another two weeks’ worth of meals – with a few slow cooker recipes to make life a little easier for us, and a few repeats of tried-but-true recipes that I can make pretty easily without having to concentrate much.

Monday, April 9th

Tilapia Baked in Couscous with Roasted Sesame and Honey Carrots

The boys love this dish and so do I.

Tuesday, April 10th

Slow Cooker Ham and White Bean Soup

One of my all time favorite slow cooker recipes. An easy way to use up leftover Easter ham. Quick, filling, inexpensive, and surprisingly healthy!

Wednesday, April 11th

Spaghetti with Muffin Tin meatballs

An easy pasta dish with meatballs that make excellent leftover sandwiches.

Thursday, April 12th

Chicken and Chickpeas over Couscous

A super quick, healthy, and easy dinner – with flavors mild enough for the little ones, but that can be punched up with a shot of hot sauce!

Friday, April 13th

Make-Your-Own Pizza

No recipe here – but B and K love helping to make pizza – we buy the dough fresh at Wegmans and they get to add whatever toppings they like. Add a salad and dinner is complete!

Monday, April 16th

Broccoli and Cheddar Frittata with salad and breadsticks

Who doesn’t love broccoli and cheese? This is a great way to have that wonderful combination in a full, healthy meal. And a way to use up the last of that Easter ham!

Tuesday, April 17th

Easiest Ever Baked Cheese and Mac with Apple Chicken Sausage

Back by B and K’s demand.

Wednesday, April 18th

Pasta with Slow Cooker Eggplant Ragu

A quick and easy vegetarian dinner.

Thursday, April 19th

Greek Turkey Picadillo

This turkey picadillo recipe is one of my favorites – although I tweaked it a little by doubling the black beans and skipping the raisins. But it also got me thinking that we could do something similar to this using traditionally Mediterranean or Greek flavors instead of Cuban. So here it is – and it’s delish!

Friday, April 20th

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Chicken and Slow Cooker “Baked” Potatoes

I’m lucky enough to have two slow cookers, but if you only have one, try the chicken with mashed potatoes or slaw, or make your potatoes in the microwave if you’re short on time.

%d bloggers like this: