Monday, July 1, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - July 1, 2013

Temperatures are soaring to record heat this week so my goal was cool salads and slow cooker options, anything to keep us and the house cool!

Monday:  Asian Chicken Salad
Tuesday:  Goulash
Wednesday: Seafood Summer Salad
Thursday:  Fourth of July
Friday: Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday:  Slow Cooker Marinated Tri Tip

We are most looking forward to leftovers of the Seafood Summer Salad I think...

Linking up at Menu Plan Monday on the Org Junkie. 

Seafood Macaroni Summer Salad - A family favorite

In the summer, I live on the surface of the Sun...

OK, not really but I do live in Las Vegas and today it was a 121 degrees! Ugghh

My meal plan for the week is basically summed up in - anything that does NOT use the stove.  My husband has been making this dish for many year  - courtesy of his high school girlfriend's mother.  It is simple, cool and the perfect summer dish.  It can work as a main or side dish. It's great for a potluck and not only is it cool, it also requires very little stove involvement!   It can also easily be adapted to fit your family tastes. 

Seafood Summer Salad
16 oz of macaroni (cooked, drained and cooled) 
1 package of imitation crab meat
2-3 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
6-7 Roma tomatoes diced
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of mayonnaise (start with 1 1/2 and add additional as desired)
10-12 oz of Colby jack or mild cheddar cheese diced
1-2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning 
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until well chilled, preferably overnight.  Simple as that!  

Variations - diced red bell peppers, celery or onions would all add nice crunch to this salad.  Avocado, bacon and bay shrimp are great additions as well. You can also substitute any short cut pasta for the macaroni. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Heavenly Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

My husband put in his Father's Day menu request early this year... It was pretty simple - Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Canned Spinach and Carrot Cake.  I was good with all the choices {as good as you can be with canned spinach} but I'd never made a carrot cake from scratch.  A friend provided me with what looked like a great basic recipe but me, being me, I had to make it my own and in the process created quite frankly one of the most amazing carrot cakes I have ever tasted. in. my. life.

When I use the word heavenly - I'm not kidding. This cake is decadent and yet still has that overwhelmingly comforting experience of all really good carrot cakes.  The addition of apricots and cinnamon push it over the top in flavor without being overpowering or obvious.  Trust me - this is a cake you want to make!

Heavenly Carrot Cake Recipe
1/2 cup of softened butter
3/4 cup of oil
1/4 cup of applesauce
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of loosely packed brown sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups and 2 tablespoon flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 1/2 cups of shredded carrots
1 cup of diced canned apricots (I used the type in juice not syrup)
1 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 cup of raisins (generous)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9 inch round baking pans.  Cream together the butter and sugars, when well blended add the applesauce, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg) in a separate bowl and slow combine with wet mixture.  Once ingredients are fully incorporated together add the carrots, diced apricots, 1/2 cup of pecans and raisins.  Distribute evenly into two between two round pans and cook for 28-35 minutes until toothpick comes out mostly clean.  Allow to cool fully, remove from pans and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting below.  I used remaining apricots from the can and another 1/2 cup of pecans as garnish on top and in between the layers.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz of cream cheese softened
2 sticks of softened butter
1 1/2 boxes of powered sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of apricot liquid (from can you used for cake)
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer combine softened butter and cream cheese.  Slowly add powered sugar and then remaining ingredients.  I do not like my frosting overly sweet.  If you would like it sweeter you can use two full boxes of powered sugar.  Frost cake generously.

Because this was for a special occasion, I used a serrated knife to divide each layer and made a four layer cake with frosting between each layer.  It turned out well but this is a heavy cake with that many layers so it wouldn't travel well unless it had been refrigerated for several hours.  Tip: We enjoyed the cake right away but found that it was much better the next day!
The kids loved helping me make Carrot Cake for their Dad.
This was any easy cake to include all the kids in different jobs.  
Hope you enjoy as much as we did!  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Healthy Sweet & Spicy Black Bean Turkey Chili

I don't post very often anymore because these days my food is very basic.  Several months ago I decided in addition to focusing on more whole food, it was finally time to tackle my weight issues.  I'm proud to say that after 4 months I am now 30 pounds lighter, feeling much better and have even grown to love exercise! Watching my calories closely the first few months I stuck with pretty simple ingredients, now that I'm several months in I'm really trying to learn how to make my favorite dishes with fewer calories so I hope to be sharing more recipes.  I also want more comfort food as the weather cools off.

Fall arrived in Las Vegas today, it's finally below 90 and even rainy.  It seemed liked a perfect day for chili.  Chili is something I have always loved to cook because I love my chili a little sweet and a little spicy, not something you can normally find in the canned variety.  The biggest switch was using lean ground turkey instead of ground beef and sausage.  I also added more veggies.  It turned out yummy, was relatively quick to assemble and best of all for less than 250 calories you can have a hearty meal {and that includes some ooey-gooey cheese on top!}.

Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Turkey Chili  
Serves 12-16

1 lb lean ground turkey
2 cans of reduced sodium black beans
2 cans of chili beans (the type with the sauce - I always use Bush's for all my chili beans)
1 can of corn
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
1 extra large or 2 regular cans plum tomatoes with basil  (I use Fresh and Easy brand)
1 green bell pepper - chopped
1 red bell pepper - chopped
2 medium yellow onions
1 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of no sugar added applesauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar (could easily omit)
1 bay leaf
1-2 teaspoon cumin (depending on tastes)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1-3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 teaspoons garlic powder
10-25 dashes of Franks Hot Sauce

Directions: Grate one onion on large grater.  Cook lean turkey in olive oil with onions, dash of salt and pepper until cooked fully in a large dutch oven or stock pot.  Remove and drain turkey.  Dice the remaining onion and bell peppers. Leave a small amount of turkey grease in the pan and saute the peppers and onions over medium high heat.  Allow the veggies to slightly caramelize but not get mushy about 3-5 minutes.  Return the turkey and add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes or longer.  Serve with a garnish of shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream.

Notes: Chili always taste better the longer you simmer in my opinion.  You could easily due the first two parts in a pan and finish it all in a crockpot on low for several hours.  You can swap out the plum tomatoes for another tomato product if you can't find but I really love this product because they are so much sweeter and less acidic than regular diced, stewed or pureed tomatoes. You can easily make this more spicy by increasing the amounts of chili powder, hot sauce and cumin.  I keep it pretty mellow so my kids don't complain.

I put the recipe into My Fitness Pal app and it turns out to be less than 200 calories per 1 cup serving and 1 cup is more than sufficient. Even with the tablespoon or two of cheese, you can be under 250 calories for a yummy and filling meal that doesn't feel like diet food AT ALL!



Linking up with Tip me Tuesday at the Tip Junkie

Monday, April 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - April 2, 2012

Still struggling with doing regular meal planning.  I know it makes my week sooo much easier since at 4:30pm I HATE standing in my kitchen staring into my fridge and pantry trying to decide what to cook (and normally feeling like the LAST thing I want to do is cook...).

But I did it today!  So here goes the menu.

Monday - Pad Thai (using a box mix as the base and adding tofu, veggies & eggs)
Tuesday - Pork with Potato Pancakes and Applesauce
Wednesday - Girls Night {whooo hooo} Ok... The family still needs to be fed so a perennial kids favorite Manwich with baked beans and salad.
Thursday - Crust-less Quiche with squash
Friday - Citrus Adobo Chicken with Yellow Rice and Salad
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday (EASTER) -  Baked Ham, the most amazing baked Buttermilk Mac n' Cheese, glazed carrots, spinach salad and croissant rolls with Chocolate Cake with fresh strawberry whipped cream for dessert.

Linking up over at  Org Junkie