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!