Monday, September 14, 2009

Menu 3

Whew, another 2 weeks, another menu. Enjoy!

Almond-Apricot Chicken with Mint Pesto - also a guest-impressing dish...and yummy!
Spicy Grilled Tilapia with Creamy Grits and Mushroom Scallion Sauce

Meatloaf** - This is a simple recipe, but it's my favorite meatloaf - you just can't beat your mom's cooking. I served it with these amazing little bite-sized pieces of Heaven. In addition - whenever I make meatloaf, I double or triple the recipe and then freeze it in a loaf pan and then transfer it to a ziploc bag. Then I have a delicious and easy meal any night of the week - and a lot more healthy than a frozen dinner from the grocery store! I've included instructions for freezing in the recipe below if you are interested. Thai Chicken Curry - An all-time-favorite. Please try this. Rumored to come from an Thai/French Fusion restaurant, this dish is just delicious, easy to make, and comforting. Not very exotic in technique, however, so if you haven't cooked Thai food before, do NOT be intimidated. I like to add extra veggies - zucchini, a bell pepper (any color), potatoes, etc. Sauteed or fried tofu is also a great substitute for the chicken, if you're in the mood. You can find Red Curry Paste in the Asian aisle of almost any grocery store.

Tomato and Mozzarella Quesadillas with Basil - Another favorite! If you have nut allergies, just skip the pine nuts, they're still delicious. I believe fresh basil is the key ingredient in this dish.
Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder** - Unbelievably good. This is in the September 2009 Everyday Food Magazine. I could go on and on about how easy it was to prepare, about how I was licking my bowl when it was done because it was SO delicious, but really, you should just make it. Like, tonight. SO SO good. I served it with a rustic loaf of sourdough bread and fresh strawberries. The recipe is below. Please try it - and if you don't subscribe to this magazine, I think you ought to take a jaunt over here right now because it's so helpful in the kitchen!

Middle Eastern Grilled Chicken
Salmon with Sweet Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Relish - This dish blew me away. Definitely fast and DEFINITELY worth it. Even if you don't love fish! Just absolutely an A+ dish. Here's how to make it super fast and easy:
1) Make the relish in the afternoon and then let it just sit in the fridge until serving, then most of your chopping is done
2) Use frozen corn over fresh (unless you have the time)
3) Use a broiler to cook the fish (about 4-5 minutes per side) and for the last 5 minutes, just throw the asparagus and maybe some mushrooms next to it - no sauce needed for the veggies
4) For the spice rub, don't worry about ingredients you don't have - as long as you have paprika and salt, the spice will work with bits and pieces of the rest (for instance, I used minced garlic instead of garlic powder and Italian seasoning instead of Thyme).
Slow Cooker:
Creamy Farmhouse Chicken and Garden Soup
Thai Chicken and Noodles - This dish comes from our guest blogger, Karen, last week. I loved it - not the usual salty, processed meal that you think of when you think of a slow cooker. I followed her advice and used 1/4 C lemon/lime juice instead of chicken broth and thought that was a nice touch. I also used rice instead of Vermicelli Noodles because, frankly, I just forgot to buy them. Still delicious!

Sweet Treat: We're taking a bit of a sugar-break at our house, so this week we'll be eating Homemade Microwave Popcorn! I originally got this idea from a cousin of mine and I have been hooked ever since. Delicious, easy, cheap, and fun! Listen carefully to your microwave, I've found that the cooking time varies depending on the microwave. Also, you can use olive oil, cooking spray, anything really. Lastly, yellow kernels work better than white because of the higher burning temperature.

**Recipes not found on internet:
Mom's Meatloaf:
1 ½ pounds hamburger (or 1 pound hamburger and ½ pound sausage)
8 oz. Tomato juice
¾ cup dry oatmeal
1 egg –beaten
1/3 cup onion
1 ¼ salt
Combine and mix well.
(If you are freezing it, at this point: place in bag and press flat. Freeze.) Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 for 55 minutes. (If using from frozen, thaw, and then follow directions accordingly.)
Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder from Everyday Food Magazine, September 2009 issue
2 T Vegetable Oil
1.5 Pounds Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks (most grocery stores and some farmer's markets will sell it cut this way, or at least peeled and seeded if you are short on time!)\
1 Medium Onion, chopped
10 ounces frozen corn kernels, thawed
1.5 t Curry powder
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 Cans (14.5 ounces each) vegetable broth
1/2 Cup Heavy cream
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium high; add squash and onion. Cook until onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add corn and curry powder; cook until curry is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth and simmer until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. In a blender, blend half the soup until smooth. Return to pot and stir in cream; heat through over medium-low (do not boil).
Serves 4. Prep Time: 15 Minutes. Total Time: 40 minutes.

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