Meal Planning: Week of Jan 30

Monday: Soup (free from Chick Fil A with our Calendar Cards!)
Tuesday: Honey Lime Chicken Tacos (new recipe – hopefully it will be better than the new recipes I tried last week)
Wednesday: Chicken Fried Cauliflower Rice (our first time trying out Cauliflower rice – any tips for us?)
Thursday: Italian Beef Sandwiches and Kale Salad
Friday: Turkey Burgers
Saturday: Breakfast Burritos (our current favorite quick dinner – we’ll be getting back late from the San Diego zoo for an early celebration of Charlotte’s 2nd birthday!)
Sunday: Superbowl Party!

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Recipe: Corn Salsa

We spent part of the holidays with my family in Indiana and my great-aunt brought over this delicious corn salsa that we just couldn’t get enough off.  Upon first glance it’s a pretty odd combination of ingredients – a few of which you may even wrinkle up your nose at. But I’m telling you, it is a MUST try recipe. The flavors and textures are just right and it is so simple to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of white corn (drained)
  • 2 cups of black eyed peas (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup green onions (diced)
  • 2 cups celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup italian dressing

Mix all together one day ahead of when you plan to serve it.

Serve with scoop tortilla chips.

What’s for Dinner?

I’ve been failing miserably with keeping up with my weekly menu planning blogs.  The plans are there – they just never make it onto the blog! I should admit, I’m not so great at sticking with them during this pregnancy. There are a lot of days where certain things just don’t sound good. I’ve been on a mission lately to make some freezer meals – mostly as a trial run for when baby arrives. As a substitute for Menu Planning Monday I thought I’d share 5 new recipes we have enjoyed lately at our house.  They are either easy or freezer friendly! And the freezer friendly ones are pretty easy as well! Sorry there are no pictures – for some reason taking pictures of food makes it rather unappetizing to me by the time I actually sit down to eat it…

Stuffed Pepper Soup – I didn’t follow this recipe exactly. I used turkey sausage instead of beef, brown sugar instead of white and also used brown rice. I think it would also be good to substitute quinoa for the rice! It makes a lot and I felt like we were eating it for days. Next time I’d only add the cooked rice to half of it and freeze the other half!
Baked Ziti (Freezer meal) – A new favorite. This was so yummy! Definitely a go-to recipe for us from now on.
Butter Beef -This was totally a hit. We don’t eat a lot of beef, but this just melts in your mouth.  Great to add to the crockpot recipe list!
Chicken Pesto Stuffed Shells (Freezer meal)- Nice option for something different in terms of flavor. You don’t find pesto on our dinner table very often – in fact, I used to dislike it, but it’s growing on me and it’s a good option to mix things up a bit.
Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings – This was probably our least favorite of the meals, though still good. Than isn’t a big dumpling person (it’s a texture thing) and I don’t feel great about cooking with cream of _____ (chicken, mushroom, etc). It’s a tasty meal when you’re in the mood for some comfort food on a cold night. We’d definitely make it again – it just won’t be making a regular appearance in our rotation.
What are some of your favorite crockpot or freezer meals?

A Post about Hockey and Goat Cheese – Our Random Life

Another weekend has come and gone. I am totally missing that extra hour!  I enjoy my job, but I sure wish that we could lose an hour during the work day rather than on our precious weekends!  It’s been a good weekend.  On Friday night we went to an NHL game – Ducks vs. Penguins.  Than is a huge Penguins fan and I got him tickets for his birthday last October. It was fun to finally be able to put them to use!

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Saturday we went out for breakfast, Than worked on papers (the end of the quarter is near!) and I went for a walk with a friend.  Saturday night we had dinner with some friends who are about to have a baby then are moving to Texas early this summer. We live in a place where so many people we know are in transition and it’s sad to think of the many friends who have already moved away in our short time living here!

Today was a typical Sunday – Fidelis (our Sunday school class), church then the Community Meal.  Tonight when we got home I was feeling creative so I put my creativity to use in the kitchen.  What’s on the menu? Homemade fruit snacks (we’ll see how they turn out – they’re still settling in the fridge!) and an amazing Goat Cheese Personal Pizza (see recipe and photo below).  Disclaimer: I don’t measure so I would just recommend using the following according to your tastes.

Goat Cheese Personal Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 Flour Tortilla
  • Diced Onions
  • Olive Oil
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Dried Dates
  • Sea Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Carmelize diced onions in a little bit of olive oil. Cook a couple of slices of turkey bacon – I just cooked mine in the microwave.  Place the tortilla on a baking sheet. Spread the carmelized onions over the tortilla, followed by crumbled turkey bacon, chopped dates and crumbled goat cheese.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and top with a little salt and pepper.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and enjoy!

It’s an amazing mix of sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy.  All my favorite things in one!  Next time I might try sprinkling some red crushed peppers on it or drizzling a little balsamic vinegar for a ltitle more bite.  We love tortilla pizzas at our house – such a quick, easy meal in a pinch.

It totally tastes better than it looks – just took a quick pic with my phone before digging in!

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Fiesta!

A couple of weeks ago we threw a little Mexican themed dinner party, mostly with beloved Pinterest recipes. AND – the best part was I was able to turn our leftovers into some awesome chicken tortilla soup.  I LOVE being able to turn leftovers into something new because I get kind of bored eating the same thing over and over.  I’m not extreme like on that TV show (The Chew) where they blend up leftovers into something “amazing”. Yeah…that grosses me out.  But I am conscientious enough that I do NOT like food to go to waste when there are people starving around the world.
The Menu:
Crock Pot Chicken Salsa Tacos – I can’t find the pin, but all you do is dump chicken breasts, a jar of salsa and taco seasoning in the crock pot and let it cook on low all day! Yum!
Homemade Salsa – Tomatoes, Onion, Jalapeno, Cilantro, Sea Salt and Lime Juice all in the chopper together. Then voila – delicious, fresh salsa!
Tortilla Chips
The Leftovers:
Leftover chicken
Leftover Homemade Salsa
Leftover Corn Salsa
1 Can Black Beans
Chicken Broth
Cayenne Seasoning
Cumin
Simmer ingredients together for about 30 minutes and serve with tortilla chips and sour cream. Yum!

We Need More Dinner Parties In Our Lives!

I just finished reading the book “Bread and Wine” by Shauna Niequist about life around the table.  Since getting married (and probably thanks to the creation of Pinterest) I am finding that I love to entertain…or I at least love the idea of entertaining.  I couldn’t put this book down!  I was captivated by her stories and her recipes, swooning over the community that can be found around the table and longing for more of that.  And I felt so much better about myself after reading that Shauna reads cookbooks from cover to cover too!

There’s something about sitting around the table and sharing a meal that bonds you together.  Our tiny apartment doesn’t hinder the “magic” that comes from gathering around the table over conversation and food. I love that hospitality is something the transcends all cultural differences.  No matter where you are sharing a meal together is a sign of friendship.  I often find myself wondering where we’ll live (probably somewhere in Africa) and wondering what ingredients will be available and dreaming up just how creative I’ll get to be in the kitchen!

Here’s last night’s dinner party menu – a few of our favorites!

Dinner Party Menu:

  • Appetizer: Bacon Wrapped Dates (stuffed with goat cheese) – This is a recipe I got from the book mentioned above – delicious! Definitely a recipe to keep.  Than said they looked like beetles, but he quickly changed his tone after tasty one and switched over to jokes like “Does this bacon look dated to you?”
  • Chicken Marsala
  • Parmesan Garlic Orzo
  • Roasted Broccoli – no recipe needed, just broccoli, olive oil, sea salt and a hot oven!
  • Pineapple Cake

Here are the Bacon Wrapped Dates – amazing sweet/salty combo!  Seriously, go out and buy some dates, bacon and goat cheese right now.  You NEED to do this.

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Mission Fro Yo

We love fro yo around here!  I could seriously eat it every single day.  A few weeks ago I was inspired to figure out how to make my own fro yo (without an ice cream maker – because who wants to clean up THAT mess!)!  The strategy – combine ingredients in blender then stick it in the freezer.

Fro Yo Take 1:

  • Frozen Strawberries
  • Frozen Pineapple
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Plain Yogurt

Fro Yo Take 2:

  • Frozen Pineapple
  • Frozen Mango
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Sugar

Fro Yo Take 3:

  • Vanilla Yogurt
  • 3 Frozen Bananas
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cocoa Powder
  • A little bit of sugar (the bananas added a lot of sweetness)

The Review

The best was definitely Fro Yo Take 1.  Take 2 was also good, but needed a little more flavor.  Also, I forgot to add in the lemon juice and for texture purposes I would try and remember it the next time.  Fro Yo take 3 was the worst – nothing impressive.  However I’m putting what’s left to good use by scooping some into the Magic Bullet and blending with milk for a tasty, chocolate frozen treat!  And I’d actually make it again solely for that purpose!

From the Kitchen of Apartment 8 – Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

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Ingredients

  • Bell Peppers – Sliced
  • Onions – Sliced
  • Mushrooms – Sliced
  • Shrimp
  • Cajun Seasoning (click link for a recipe to make it with spices in your cabinet!)
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1 cup of milk
  • Pasta
  • Olive Oil

Recipes where you just kind of throw it all together are totally my kind of recipes.  Start out by boiling the water to cook your pasta.  While the water is heating, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet.  When the oil is hot, pour in the veggies and shrimp and sprinkle with cajun seasoning.  Stir occasionally.  Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta of your choice for the time recommended on the package (aim for a fairly firm al dente because it will cook a bit more when you mix it all together and you don’t want mushy noodles).  Mix your melted butter and milk in a measuring cup.  Sprinkle in a little cajun seasoning.  Once the vegetables are soft and the shrimp has turned pink, pour the milk and melted butter concoction in.  Stir.  Drain your cooked pasta and combine with veggies.  Stir.  Allow to thicken a bit.  Serve and enjoy!

This definitely has a kick – lighten up on the cayenne and red-crushed pepper if you don’t like it too spicy!  

A Review of the Latest from Pinterest

Spare moments to sit down and blog seem to be hard to come by these days.  After sitting behind a computer all day for work, more time in front of the screen is the last thing I want come the end of the day.  My eyeballs are recharged after a 3 day weekend and I’m here to report to you reviews from my latest Pinterest recipe attempts!

1.  Crispy Salty Kale Chips – Crispy and salty – two of my favorite food adjectives!  Hubby is more into the sweet stuff, while I like salty.  It’s no surprise that I was a fan and he was not.  I’d been seeing lots of recipes for Kale chips and finally decided to give it a try.  I’m glad I did!  I will definitely be snacking on these again.  Maybe it will help lessen my popcorn addiction…  There’s just something about eating green things that makes me feel healthy!

2.  Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Breadsticks – I was making fish for dinner, which can be kind of hit or miss with my husband.  He doesn’t LOVE fish, but he’ll eat it and I wanted to ensure that he liked the side I was making with it.  I vaguely recalled something about bacon wrapped asparagus on Pinterest (two things he is definitely a fan of!) so I decided to give it a whirl.  And no, of course I didn’t think to look back at the recipe!  Well, as you’ll see from the recipe I actually forgot that there were breadsticks involved in the recipe, so we juts had bacon wrapped asparagus, topped with a little black paper then baked.  Yum!  I’m sure WITH the breadsticks would also be delicious!

3.  Bubble Up Pizza –  This was so-so.  Husband liked it a lot more than I did.  I don’t think I baked it quite long enough so the texture of mine was kind of disgusting.  I was too many bites in before putting it back in the oven to enjoy it when it was more fully baked.  We did ours with pepperoni and mushroom.  I definitely prefer regular pizza or a calzone to this, but I’m glad we tried it.

4.  Neiman Marcus Brownies –  It was a Saturday morning with an unexpected guest who was in town meeting up with us for lunch.  We wanted to invite him over for coffee and dessert after lunch.  Yes, it’s always a risk to try something new when a guest is coming over, but thank goodness this one was a winner! Super quick, easy and tasty.

5.  Pumpkin Oatmeal Cups – These left something to be desired for us.  We even added chocolate chips…but… Yeah…  I think it was a texture thing. I’d definitely prefer a plain bowl of oatmeal!  Go figure…So much for the healthy recipe working out…