Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gone Fishing

Since it has been almost a month since I have updated my blog with a recipe, I figured today was the day to add something new.

When summer rolls around we like to eat fish at least once a week. There is nothing better than baked or grilled fresh restaurant quality fish for dinner! Cod, Halibut, and Mahi-Mahi are the favorites in this house. Especially Mahi-Mahi with its slightly sweet taste. A little lemon pepper herb crust, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and it is mouth watering good!

We usually grill the fish in a foil pan but the other night our propane ran out so we hard to bake it. Let me say it was so good. The mahi-mahi was still tender and flaky.

Here is how we like to prepare and season our Mahi-Mahi:

1. Buy fish the day you plan to serve it. Don't be afraid to ask the fish monger to smell the fish to make sure it doesn't smell fishy and look at the texture of the fish meat. It shouldn't look dull or discolored.

2. When you get home, store the fish in the fridge

3. When you are ready to fix the fish for dinner, wash it and pat it dry with paper toweling.

4. Remove the skin if wanted. To do this hold a very sharp knife at an angle with your other hand flat on the fish. Make smooth strokes at an angle to remove the fish meat from the skin.

5. Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the top side of the fish (if baking) or both sides (if grilling) and spread it around with your fingers.

6. Sprinkle the fish (both sides if grilling, on one side if baking) with lemon herb seasoning or lemon pepper. If you are using the lemon herb seasoning, also add freshly ground black pepper. I also add just a little freshly ground sea salt.

7. Preheat oven to 375* is you are baking the fish. Bake 12 minutes, then look at the fish. The last two times I have baked the Mahi-Mahi, I have had to bake it an additional 2 minutes due to thickness. The fish will be white and flaky when properly cooked.

8. For grilling, place the fish in a foil pan. Set the BBQ to medium-high (more medium) heat. Grill the first side for 5-7 minutes. Then flip the fish, and grill another 5-7 minutes. Again the fish should be white and flaky.

9. Serve with tartar sauce and freshly sliced lemon wedges.

I like to serve fruit salad or homemade pasta salad with the fish along with roasted corn on the cob. If you bake the fish and choose to make my roasted corn on the cob, begin to bake the corn 25 minutes before you place the fish in. Thenbake it an additional 15 minutes so it will be ready when the fish is done.

Tomorrow I am making Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza for dinner. It's a very close knock-off of California Pizza Kitchen's pizza.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cheese Enchiladas in Green Sauce

Mike and I both love Mexican food. From burritos, to tacos, to enchiladas. We love the flavors, the colors, the warmth. One favorite Mexican recipe comes from my mom - Green Chili Sauce Chicken Enchiladas. While I like chicken enchiladas, I love cheese enchiladas. So I have adapted my mom's recipe.

Sometimes I serve the enchiladas with rice, sometimes with sweet corn, but tonight I served them with nachos. Yes, it was a cheesy dinner!

Here is how I make my green chili sauce cheese enchiladas:


* 1 block of medium chedar cheese
* 8 corn tortillas (small size)
* 2 small cans of green chili enchilada sauce (mild)
* vegetable oil
* 9x13 glass pan
* foil
* tortilla chips
* nacho sauce (I use Mission Con Queso Mild)
*medium skillet

The How To:

1. Pre heat oven to 375*

2. grate cheese onto plate (I use the larger holes)

3. Warm up vegetable oil in medium skillet over low heat (you want to warm up the tortilla, not fry them)

4. Pour green chili enchilada sauce into bottom of 9x13 glass pan (a thin layer)

5. Place one tortilla into oil and warm through. Take out right as it starts to form a few air pockets.

6. Place onto a plate and layer cheese down the middle (as much as you'd like, but don't over stuff it!)

7. Roll up and lay seam side down into glass pan

8. Repeat for remaining 7 tortillas

9. Lightly cover the enchiladas with green chili sauce

10. Cover the glass pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes

11. Remove foil and bake 10 additional minutes **sometimes, like tonight, if I have nacho sauce on hand I will spoon some ontop of the enchiladas after I remove the foil**

12. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes

13. Serve on plate along with side dish

I hope you enjoy this delicious dish. We really enjoyed our dinner tonight.

**The red you see is Cholula sauce**

Friday, May 13, 2011

Strawberry Delight

I made a few changes at the last minute to this weeks menu. Mike has been craving fish tacos so I made those on Tuesday to give a chicken break between Monday and Wednesday.

For last nights dinner I used the left over breaded fish filets and made:

* Fish Sandwiches
* Steak House Baked Beans
* Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
* Strawberry Balsamic Pasta Salad

The pasta salad was a new dish that I came up with. I remember seeing chefs on Food Network use Balsamic Vinegar on fresh fruit like strawberries and peaches. I know the basic mixture for a balsamic vinagrette and decided to try and add a little splash of flavor.

Here is how I made the Strawberry Balsamic Pasta Salad:

1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Add in pasta (I used the red/white/green cork screw pasta) and boil 8-9 minutes.

2. While pasta is cooking, clean and hull 6-7 strawberries, slice and clean, peel, and cut 1/4 of a cucumber into bit size triangles. *I take the cucumber, cut it in half long ways, then cut those halves again to get 4 equal long triangles*

3. After pasta is cooked, immediately drain and get into an ice bath. *I dunk the colander into a big bowl full of cold water and ice*

4. Shake the pasta water out and set aside to light airdry. If the pasta is wet the sauce will not stick to it.

5. Make the sauce: 5 teaspoons strawberry jam/preserves + 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar + eye ball EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) . You use the EVOO to cut down on the thickness of the sauce and to also cut down on the acidity of the vinegar. **You want the sauce to remain somwhat thick so do not thin it down like a traditional vinagrette. Also taste along the way and stop adding the EVOO when you like the flavor. Some people do not like the strong taste of Balsamic Vinegar, so by adding more EVOO you will cut down on the acids**

6. Add dry pasta to a serving bowl.

7. Add in strawberry sauce and mix well.

8. Lightly coat strawberry and cucumber pieces with balsamic vinegar. Add to the salad.

9. Refrigerate.

10. Before serving mix well again.

This pasta was heavenly!  I am looking forward to having some of the leftovers with lunch.

I will also include how I make my oven roasted corn.

1. Remove silk and hull from corn.

2. Rinse in cold water. Set out to dry for aprox 30 minutes.

3. Pre Heat oven to 425*

4. Lay out foil (one for each ear of corn)

5. Spread (with your hands) butter all over each ear of corn

6. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper (once in awhile I will also sprinkle on smoked paprika)

7. Wrap in foil and twist the ends.

8. Lay a cookie sheet on the bottom rack to catch any butter spills. If you do not do this step you will have a house full of smoke!

9. Set the ears of corn at an angle on top rack that is set to the middle of the oven.

10. Cook for 40 minutes ***Be sure to rotate the corn every 10 mintes

11. Remove and let sit for 3-4 minutes

12. Unwrap and serve at dinner.

The corn comes out perfectly sweet and tender.

For the fish sandwiches, I cooked the fish as directed, then I removed the cookie sheet, placed a piece of fish onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun, added a thick slice of american cheese, and placed the sheet back into the oven for 2 mintes. I then added tartar sauce to the top bun and placed the sandwich together.

Everything was super yummy and I am looking forward to making this meal again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

This Weeks Menu

I have a few friends who are trying to plan weekly menus instead of trying to decide what to fix for dinner at the last moment. Creating a list for me cuts down on unnecessary spending, time spent at the store as well as car gas used to constantly be going to and from the grocery store.

When I go into the grocery store armed with my weekly shopping list (which is written in order of isles - yes I am that OCD about my grocery list) I quickly and efficiently shop and check out. The most I spend at the store is 50 minutes. That is from the time I walk into the store until I am back in the car and on my way home.

I like being able to wake up in the morning and check what we will be having for dinner that evening. This allows me to prep ahead. Do I need to take out any meat to defrost? Are there any fruits or veggies that I can cut up while the kids are in school? Any sauces I can pre-make? Doing these small tasks really cuts down on the time I spend in the kitchen right before dinner.

And to make menu planning more fun I include the entire family. I will ask my husband and daughter what meal they would like to have for dinner that week.

So here is my weekly menu:

Monday: Roasted whole chicken (covered in herbs, garlic salt, and pepper) with dinner rolls, angel hair pasta in herb and butter sauce, and sliced fruit (strawberries and bananas).

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken sandwiches with baked beans and corn on the cob.

Wednesday: Chicken Tostada Salad Bowls

Thursday: Pasta with freshbaked french roll and side salad

Friday: Fish Tacos with chips and dip

Saturday: Cheese Enchiladas with side salad

Sunday: Pepper Steak with steamed rice, chow mein and eggrolls.

***Monday - Wednesday is from the same whole chicken I am currently roasting.

I hope this post has inspired you to start creating a weekly menu as well. You will be surprised at the amount of money you save.

On Friday I will blog about the fish tacos I will be making.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cost Saving Chicken Meals

I think it is safe to say that we are all feeling the effects of the current economy. From gas to groceries to our monthly salaries.

We are a chicken loving family and have chicken at least 3 times a week. I used to buy regular chicken breasts but those started to run 4 for about $12.00. So then I started to buy thin sliced chicken breasts. I used to be able to get 4 to 5 thin cut breasts for $6 but now the price is $9-11! Even chicken fingers went up in price.

Since we love our chicken I wanted to find a way to cut down on the cost while still buying nice meat. I saw an add one week in the Stater Bros. flyer for whole chickens at .75 cents a pound.

I decided to give it a try. I bought a 5 pound chicken for $3.75! Yes a whole fresh chicken is cheaper than 4 to 5 chicken breasts. The most I have ever paid, at full price of .99 cents, was $5.36 for a 5.4 pound chicken.

After roasting it in the oven for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, we had a delicious dinner with plenty of meat left over. I am able to get 3 dinners out of my whole chicken. That is at most $1.78 a meal. I am saving between $9 and $10 a dinner for chicken!

Every week from then I have bought and roasted a whole chicken to serve at 3 meals.

Here are various meals we get from the whole roasted chicken:
  • Chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans and muffins
  • BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with fries/tatertots, baked beans, and pickles
  • Honey Mustard Chicken with rice, corn/cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls
  • Chicken and noodles
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Chicken Tacos
  • Chicken Burritos
  • Chicken Tostadas
  • Chicken Chimichangas
The possibilities are endless. You can make pretty much any chicken meal by using a whole roasted chicken. And in the process save a good amount of money each week and month.

I was spending between $108 and $135 a month on chicken. Now I am spending between $21.40 and $26.75 a month on chicken. That is a savings of $86.60 to $108.25.

I hope this post is helpful and inspires you to find other ways to save money each month on your grocery bill.

I have the butcher cut the whole chicken in half down the breast bone. Makes it easier to cook and handle. Also makes cleaning the insides out a lot easier. Or you could be like me and ask the butcher to clean out the insides too.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Dessert 2011 - The Perfect Pick Me Up

Because life around here is finally a little less stressful and more stable I was finally able to contribute a dessert for Easter dinner!

I began my search for the perfect Easter dessert back in February. I started to clip out desserts from my monthly Food Network magazines as well as look up top desserts on Food Network, The Cooking Channel, and All Recipes.

While browsing some recipes of Paula Deen I came across this very springtime looking dessert - Lemon Blueberry Tiramisu. It looked so light and refreshing. I just knew this was the dessert I was going to make.

So I write down my list and head to my local grocery store. Hmm...I can't get all the ingredients. That's ok! I will just head to Trader Joes. Oh, what, excuse me? Lady Fingers are seasonal here? Oh boy. You can't make a tiramisu with no ladyfingers! What was I going to do?

Oh yea! That's right there is Gerrad's. They carry a lot of international and hard to find foods. It is a very quaint little store but oh so expensive.

So I finally come back home with ingredients in hand and get to work. I follow along and do exactly what the recipe says. So why is my heavy cream marscapone mixture so thin? Hmm, maybe the ladyfingers will soak it all up. The ladyfingers didn't soak up anything. They floated. Like little children in a pool on a hot summer day.

Needless to say it was a major FAIL!

I sent Mike back out to get the ingredients again (this time all from Gerrard's) while I looked up the how to video on Food Network.

So I'm watching the video and then the lightbulb turns on.'re supposed to FOLD in the marscapone cheese, NOT beat it in. *the recipe does not state this*

I watched the video about 5 times before Mike arrives home with the goodies. Now armed with the ingredients AND the knowledge to correctly make the dessert, I set off on my quest to make the perfect lime blueberry tiramisu.

I did each step like instructed on the video. Taking my time to not mess up again. I wasn't up to bringing a "This cost me $60 to make" dessert. (Yes the ingredients added up to a little under $20 each time!) So I keep working, dipping the ladyfingers into the lime, laying them out in the baking dish, spreading out the cheese and blueberry filling. After two layers of ladyfingers, cheese filling, and blueberry pie filling I successfully made the dessert.

It looked like art. And after spending nearly $40, I wasn't sure I wanted anyone to cut into my masterpiece. But Mike insisted that I bring it along Easter Sunday. He said after getting the ingredients for me I owed him a slice or two. And I am glad I did bring it. Everyone enjoyed it.

So now that you know you are to FOLD the cheese into the heavy cream, I will gladly supply the recipe below. I hope you enjoy this dessert as much as we all did.

Lime Blueberry Tiramisu (courtesy of Paula Deen):

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 pound mascarpone cheese at room temperature
3 (3 ounce) packages unfilled ladyfingers (I found 7.5 ounce packagers, so I bought 2)
1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate thawed
1 (21 ounce) can blueberry pie filling

In a large bowl, beat heavy cream with an electric mixer at medium speed until thickened. Gradually add confectioner's sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

Gently fold in mascarpone cheese, set aside.

Dip ladyfingers one at a time into limeade concentrate. Line a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish with ladyfingers. You will have to go horizontal and verticle to fill the entire dish.

Spoon half of the cream cheese mixture over lady fingers. Top with half of blueberry pie filling.

Repeat process above, dipping lady fingers into the limeade, laying them on top of the filling and then spreading the cream cheese and pie filling on top of ladyfingers.

Cover tightly with saran wrap and chill at least 8 hours to set. (I made mine the day before)

The only thing I am going to change when I make this again is to dip the lady fingers into actual lime juice and use more blueberry pie filling.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

They Call It KitchenAid Love

From the time I was a teenager until I moved out I was constantly telling my mom that we needed a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. My heart always went pitter-patter when I would see one of my favorite Food Network Chefs use one. "Look mom, you don't have to stand over the bowl and mix for 4 minutes!" "Look mom, you can just pour in the ingredients as the mixer keeps mixing!" "Wouldn't that be great for those sticky cookie recipes?" 

Well my years of bugging paid off! My parents bought me a Cobalt Blue 5qt KitchenAid Stand Mixer as a wedding gift. I instantly fell in love! My mind raced with thoughts on how I could use it! After we got home, I immediately set it out on the kitchen counter. I couldn't stop touching it, admiring it. I finally had a KitchenAid Stand Mixer! To this day I still smile as I lovingly gaze at my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. It is by far the best appliance you can have in your kitchen. Now if it only did the dishes...

My stand mixer has been well loved over the past 8 years. I use it to make cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. This summer I plan on buying the ice cream attachment. And maybe some day in the far off future I will buy the pasta attachment and try to make my own pasta. Maybe!

Today I made chocolate chip cookies with my new KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater. With the regular beater you have to constantly scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are mixed together. With the new flex edge beater, you no longer have to worry about that!

I first had to whip together the egg and butter. I watched at the flex edge whisked away the butter and egg from the bowl. I was quite impressed! I had high hopes that the beater would continue to work its magic as all of the ingredients were mixed together. It did not let me down. I watched spin after spin as the cookie dough was taken away from the bowl and brought back into the main dough. The dough was also very smooth and mixed together well. I give this attachment two thumbs up!

There is a rival to this awesomely great attachment called the BeaterBlade. Unlike KitchenAide attachments, the BeaterBlade is made of plastic. The KitchenAide beater is solid metal and will last years! I would be afraid of the plastic breaking off and getting into the dough.

So give this new attachment a try. You will love it!