Thursday, July 2, 2009

Smoked Boston Butt

Coming soon... compliments of the husband!

Chicken Salad

Swim meet nights are so crazy and hectic. We are there for at least five hours, and it would be easy just to buy food from the concession, but expensive too!

We have made a variety of cooler friendly foods thus far, but chicken salad is one my favorites.

Wendy's Chicken Salad
This is a concoction based upon some of my favorite chicken salad recipes...

2 cups of cooked and coarsely shredded chicken. Honestly, leftover baked chicken always tastes the best.
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped.
a couple of handfuls of grapes sliced in half
2 tablespoons of mayo, the real stuff
1/4 cup of plain yogurt
dash of kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
And if you are feeling adventurous sometimes I add one of the following... ground cumin, or lemon pepper, or ground ginger, or green onions.

This is some yummy mild tasting chicken salad. I have a small mayo aversion, and the plain yogurt balances this nicely.

Serve on whatever you have, I love croissants, but alas they are expensive. Last night we ate it on whole wheat bread.

In case you are wondering, I also packed watermelon, and water. Not enough to eat. I was under prepared. I need to plan better for next week when I fly solo.

Opinion: Kiddo loves this. Our niece who was also with us did not. We had to buy her a hot dog. Mike and I each ate two sandwiches. I think that explains our feelings.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sausage Pesto Pasta

My friend made this dish when she came home to stay with us after my mom passed away. I will be forever thankful for her kindness and generosity those ten days she stayed with us. Whenever I make this meal I think of her.

What you need
Smoked Turkey Sausage, The Hillshire farms kind
1/2 to 1 lb of greens. I used collards.
Bow tie Pasta. 1 lb. I use whole grain.
Pesto. I have used the one from the dairy case, the dry mix, and now a jarred. The jarred keeps the longest.

Boil pasta according to package directions.

In a large stockpot.... dutch oven.... your big pot with a lid, melt a little butter or olive oil on medium. Add greens and cover for a ten minutes. After ten minutes slice the sausage into bit size pieces and add to the pot. Cook for another five minutes.

Drain pasta, then add to pot. Add pesto to your taste. Hubby likes a little more, I like a little less.

Serve hot.

My friend said she also uses chicken sometimes, or kale.

Opinion: We love this. Even the kid will two helpings! Kind of a savory yet lightly salty meal. I use lower fat options minus the pesto, but I am sure it would be good with its full fat counter parts.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Fajitas are one of our most favorite meals to whip up. I am going to plug Giant Eagle's salad bar with making this an even quicker and more simple meal. Peppers are still a little high priced here, so I picked up my red and green bell peppers already sliced off the bar for less than one pepper would have cost.

You will need...

Flour tortillas
Sliced green and red bell peppers (to your liking, some like more and some like less. The equivalent to one pepper is plenty for the three of us.)
Sliced Onion, one small red is what I use
Monetary jack cheese
Sour Cream
Guacamole and Salsa if you like it

Now, for your meat, I used to swear by flank steak. I could only get it from the butcher shop, the grocery never seems to have it. Today I picked up some skirt steak that was as thin as paper. IT WAS PERFECT!!!! What makes it even better is that it cooked in about four minutes. This dinner from start to finish took less than ten minutes.

I marinate my steak in...
1 tablespoon of olive oil
The juice of one lime
A splash of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of chili powder
a dash of cumin
salt and pepper

I marinated this meat for about two hours and it was perfect. The flank steak is best overnight. Add more lime juice for flank steak too!

I cooked the meat and tortillas on the grill, and the peppers on the stove.

Serve and Eat!

The opinion: We love these. What is not to love about guacamole?
Kiddo prefers what we call cheesy when we have this. Cheese melted in a tortilla shell.... a quesadilla to us grown ups.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The meal that broke the oven!

I had been craving Greek style food for days. I finally caved in and ran to the grocery store to the get things we needed to make this meal come to fruition.

What you need...

1 lb of ground lamb (you could probably substitute ground anything)
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
fresh ground black pepper
dash of cinnamon

1 cup of plain yogurt
1 clove of garlic minced
1 cucumber, peel it, shred 1/4 cup of it for this sauce, slice the rest and set aside
Juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon of cumin

Pita breads
mild pepper rings
sliced tomato

Mix the first group of ingredients to make a loaf. The recipe I based this on (a Rachel Ray that I changed) calls to rub the loaf in olive oil. I really think it would be okay if you skipped this step. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 400. This bad boy was a little greasy. I had never made lamb at home... maybe it is always that way. I drained it well and used paper towels to wick away some of the excess grease.

While the loaf is baking mix the next group of ingredients to make the sauce. Chill covered.

After the loaf cools slice it thinly. Serve with pitas, and make your gyro any way you like it.

Now before I give my opinion I must let you know this lamb did in the element on my oven. I am not sure if was previously damaged or not. This loaf sizzled and splattered while it was baking. When I went to take it out, the lower oven element was burning like a fourth of July sparkler!

Opinion: Oh my word, this was so yummy for home cooked. Hubby and I both ate two. I had extra tomatoes and cucumbers for dipping in the yogurt sauce. The meat was flavored just right. Sometimes when you try to duplicate things at home it is just not the same. While this was not restaurant grade, it was a superior at home take on Greek. I also made hummus from scratch and we dipped pita chips in it.

By the way... the kiddo ate pita bread and tomatoes for dinner that night.... she would not touch the meat.

June Update

Thirty days has now came and gone. Although I have not been good about keeping this updated, I would say for the most part the first 30 days were a success minus a few pizza interludes here and there. I will continue to update. Our goal for July is to try at least two new meals a week. I do not know how families with multiple children do it each night. We have swim team, and it makes things difficult. Thank you for following!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

15th Night

Beer Can Chicken

This is one of Mike's favorite things to cook I think!

You will need....
1 whole chicken, we used a three pound roaster
McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning
1 can of beer
Olive Oil

Wash and dry the chicken. Lightly based with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with the seasoning. We usually do a little extra pepper to our tastes. Now if you have thought ahead you could do this the night before and let it marinate in the Frigidaire over night. Pre heat the grill. Open can of beer and drink up to 1/2. Place chicken on top of beer can. Now this may take a little finesse, or even two people. Place chicken on the grill upright. Cook on medium heat for two to three hours. I asked Mike his timing method and he said "it's chicken, I cook it until it is done." Use your handy dandy meat thermometer to check after two hours.

The opinion: We all love this. Very yummy and moist. The skin seems to be extra good on this. The kiddo loves it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

14th Night

We spent the day doing laundry and sanding the kitchen cabinents.  Fun?!?

Tonight's dinner

Pineapple Turkey Burgers

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tspn ground ginger
1/2 tspn allspice
a pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 can of cubed pineapple... we use the in its own juice kind. 

Spray grill so your meat does not stick.  Pre heat grill to medium.  

Mix ingredients like you are making meat loaf, with your hands.  Dig right in.  Form into burgers.  I made five burgers from 1 pound of meat.  Grill 5 to six minutes on each side.  Serve on buns.

I served grilled pineapple rings as a side because the kitchen was still a mess.  

Opinion:  These were SO good.  I think next time I may try fresh ginger and crushed pineapple instead.  I also think they would be really good in a pita shell.  Beware, some of the pineapple fell out while cooking.  The flavor and texture were nice.  A citrus salad would have made a nice side, but I could not risk paint chips in our food.  I prepared these outside. 

Kid Opinion:  It was ground meat.  She ate a bite, picked the pineapple cubes out, ate the bun, and then filled up on grilled pineapple rings. 

13th Night

Jeez, I have been busy.  Now that I am officially off, well almost, I will play catch up. 

We did not eat dinner Friday night.  See, I am not perfect.  We went to pick kiddo up from playing at a friends house at 5:30...  we hung out until 10:30.  We just crashed when we got home.  Every kid needs a Popsicle or two for dinner once in their life, right?

Friday, May 29, 2009

12th Night

Last night my kiddo graduated from Kindergarten, sniff.  She is such a big girl these days.  To celebrate we went to Pizza Crossing for dinner.  It is her favorite, and they know her order.  Personal pepperoni pizza, side of cold mushrooms.  

We shared a pizza with hubby's parents.  

I will update later on tonight with the new turkey burger recipe we are trying.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

11th Night

Finally, a true home cooked meal for our family.  I have been thinking that I should take pictures of our meals.  Unlike many food bloggers that I read, I A. do not have a fancy camera, B. am a point and shoot kind of girl, C. have a simple old kitchen (i.e. no dishwasher, no fancy granite counter tops etc...) and D. I am not good with presentation.   I can cook a mean meal, but it is rarely pretty.  Do you really want to see pictures of my red Paula Deen cookware, which by the way is not all it is cracked up to be!  So maybe I will start small, but don't bash me if they are not the beautiful images you see on other websites.  

Tonight's dinner was a adaptation of a recipe that Pioneer Woman shared a few weeks ago.  Hubby and kiddo were both turning their noses up as I was preparing dinner.  You can check out for the original recipe.  I made ours with low fat ingredients and with chicken.  

Tonight's Meal

Lemon Pasta with Chicken
3  Larger Chicken Tenderloins
Lemon Pepper, I used McCormick that I swiped from our neighbors cabinet.  We were out.
10 oz thin spaghetti
2 lemons
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cup + light sour cream
Fresh Parmesan Cheese grated (I got mine from the salad bar at Giant Eagle, saved lots!)
Flat leaf parsley if you feel adventurous

Coat chicken liberally with Lemon pepper.  Saute on medium for 4 to 5 minutes on medium.  Boil Spaghetti to package instructions.  Zest 1 lemon. 

Melt butter in skillet, add olive oil and garlic.  Simmer for a few minutes.  Add the juice of the lemon you zested.  Simmer for another minute.  Add the sour cream. Add zest.  I used a little over one cup, it just did not seam creamy enough.  This also took several minutes to combine thoroughly.  Be patient.  

Drain Spaghetti, make sure your chicken is not burning.  Add spaghetti to sauce and mix well.  I planned on serving it like this, but hubby was in the shower so I put in a casserole and baked it for about ten minutes with the chicken sliced on top, at 350.  

Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with cheese and sliced parsley. Squeeze lemon juice over top.  Serve hot.  

Opinion:  This was soooooo yummy.  Rich, yet light.  Hubby was surprised and loved it.  The lemon flavor was mild. I could have done without the parsley.  Lots of leftover pasta.  Hubby thought the sauce might be good with green onions added to it. 

Kid Opinion:  She ate it, but I could tell she was not in love with it.  Shockingly she ate the chicken, which had a dominant lemon pepper flavor.  

All in all a good meal that I would at to our occasional list.  

10th Night

I can not tell a lie.... 

this night was not a meal night for our family.  Kiddo wanted to swim right after school today, and we stayed until it was time for me to get ready to go to my class.  Daddy fed her Easy Mac, and then they needed to run to the mall.  They came home with pretzels from Auntie Ann's.  I had a pretzel and some kettle corn popcorn for dinner.  

I would love to report a great recipe for today, but I would rather tell the truth.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

9th Night

We went to my dad's for a Memorial Day cookout last night which presents a new obstacle to this situation.  Our goal is to not eat the same meal twice for 30 days +.  Well if you know my father, you know he eats the same meals over and over again.  His favorite grill fair... steak burgers and over sized hot dogs.  

Tonight's Dinner
Steak Burger seasoned with salt and pepper and Open Pit BBQ sauce
Over sized Hot Dogs
Cole Slaw
Mesquite flavored potato chips
Nana's Apple Cake

Opinion:  I had a steak burger with muenster cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard and a serving of cantaloupe.  My dad loves pre formed steak burgers and buys then from a restaurant supplier. 

Kid Opinion: Kiddo ate 1/2 of  a hot dog, a whole bun, and a serving a cantaloupe.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

8th Night

Another busy day at our home.  We had a t-game this afternoon.  It was very muggy.  We came home and made our first trip to the pool for the summer.   Hubby and kiddo were in the pool for all of about 35 minutes, then came the thunder.  We came home.  Hopefully we can make it back out tomorrow.  Kiddo's swimming skills came back to her quickly. 

Tonight's Dinner

Chef Salad

Ingredients: 1 head of lettuce
Cubed chicken (we used leftovers from last night, and a little from the Giant Eagle Salad Bar)
Cubed ham
2 Roma tomatoes sliced
2 slices of Swiss cheese sliced
A couple of green onions

Mix all together in a big bowl and serve with your favorite dressing.  We used Kraft Ranch with Bacon tonight.  I am normally not a huge fan of ranch, but it was pretty good.  We also usually put green peppers and a hard boiled egg in this salad, but alas we had no peppers, and did not feel like waiting for the egg. 

 Opinion: We all really liked tonight's dinner.  Kiddo was a clean plate kid.  I know for me this is a good way to get fresh veggies without feeling like I am just eating lettuce.  Using the salad bar for some things has proved to be a money saving idea for us.  One pack of the precooked salad chicken is over $3.  The serving that we purchased for quick use off the salad bar was $1.25.  

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Seventh Night

Wow! We had a busy day today.  We went south and spent some time in Hocking Hills State Park.  We packed one of our favorite picnic lunches that I will share with you.  

Today's Lunch

Turkey Roll up's
Sliced Oranges
Dried Pineapple
Pita Chips

For the Turkey Roll Up we spread a thin layer of low fat cream cheese on a 6 in tortilla, we used plain today.  Then two slices of thin deli turkey, and cranberry honey mustard.  We use Woeber's brand cranberry honey mustard.  Woeber's has the best customer service ever!  We had a problem a few months back with our favorite honey mustard and they replaced it!  What company still does that?  Anyway, roll up like a pinwheel, wrap in plastic wrap and chill.  We love these, they travel well in a cooler, and there are endless possibilities!

Tonight's Dinner

Chicken Tenders with dip
Rice Pilaf

I am a huge fan of flash frozen chicken tenders.  They are super for late nights like this and they cook quick.  I will not lie, we cooked ours up tonight on our first generation lean mean grilling machine.  Kiddo ate hers with some Ken's Ranch dressing, and I had mine with Woeber's honey mustard.  Hubby will have his with Buffalo wing sauce.  

I would love to tell you that I made the Rice Pilaf from scratch, but I did not.  Rice a Roni has been my favorite non vegetable side dish since I can remember.  I make it with Olive Oil, so less fat.  One of my goals is to learn to make it homemade soon.  

Opinion:  This is one of Kiddo's favorite meals.  Nothing spectacular or interesting, but she eats without complaint. 

Tonight's Dessert... Amaretto Sour.... obviously kiddo has a few mini cocoa cookies instead.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sixth Night

Tonight was t ball night.  Our game was right at dinner time so we opted to eat afterwards.  Mistake....  We ended up watching an older friend pitch and it was 8:30 before we left the ball park.  Tonight's dinner was suppose to be homemade pizza, but we opted for Papa Murphy's instead.  

Mmmm... pizza.  

I had two pieces.  It is all about the portions!  

If you have not tried take and bake it is very yummy.

Life will be back to normal tomorrow.  Hubby shopped today and I have 14 different meals planned for the next fourteen days.  Stay tuned!

Becky.... thinking of the dietary limits in your household has made me realize we eat A LOT of cheese!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fifth Night

Did I make rules for this mission?  I think I did in my head, but in that case we cheated tonight.  Hubby went to his parents for the day, so kiddo and I went out.  What makes it worse is that it was the holy grail of bad fast food... McDonald's.  Since the glass is half full these days that just means no Micky D's for quite awhile. 

Tonight's Dinner

Me: Cheeseburger, small fry, coke
Kiddo: 4 nugget happy meal, apple dippers, and Hi-C orange

Opinion: We both enjoyed dinner.  It was nice girl time.  

Kid Opinion: Alert! Alert! Major breakthrough tonight!  Kiddo tried a bite of my cheese burger.  She has not swallowed red meat in years.  While this is scourge of the earth red meat, it is meat none the less.  And, she liked it, she really liked it.  

Hubby picked up dinner from a Sheets on his was home.  Turkey Sub, Giant Mt. Dew, and cookies.  Hubby has an eating problem, so I will not include portions.  I will add his dinner was probably was being served were he was :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fourth Night

What a beautiful day today!  

We had t ball practice tonight so dinner is just now getting started.  Busy nights call for simple meals.  

Tonight's Meal

Pretty simple and quick.

San Giorgio Brand Spaghetti, boil like the side of the box instructs you.

Classico Brand Caramelized Onion Spaghetti Sauce.  This stuff is very yummy.  I save up coupons to purchase Classico.  I love their products.  

No sides tonight.  This is usually a filling meal.  

Opinion:  We love spaghetti, not much else to say!
Kid Verdict: She only eats the noodles, no sauce.  I asked her why, she just does not like it on noodles.  Crazy Kid.

Sorry if you were expecting so fancy meal... not tonight.  Check back with me this weekend! We are trying out some new choices!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Third Night

I was not home tonight.  I was off serving in my teacher role for my preschoolers graduation.  They did a great job, and were super cute as three and four year olds should be. 

In my stead hubby made a nutritionally void meal of hot dogs, sliced oranges and marshmallows.  What made tonight's dinner special?  They cooked it around a fire.  Yes, folks, a real city fire.  In one of those nifty little fire bowls.  They smelled like a camp out, but they had fun.  Hubby just corrected me, the oranges were healthy! "and marshmallows aren't that fatty" 

Sometimes you can overlook healthy for fun. 

Kid Verdict:  She liked the oranges and swallowed the hot dog.  Apparently processed meat is okay to swallow. 

My opinion:  I hate a cold hot dog when I got home.  Then they told me it had fallen on the floor!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Second Night

As I type I am listening to hubby and daughter play hide-n-seek in the back yard.  I love spring evenings.  

Hubby feels that a year is a rather lofty goal.  We have agreed upon 30 days.  After those 30 days we will review and see if we can go another 30.  

Tonight's Dinner
Grilled Shrimp and Honey Glazed Carrots

I purchased marked down shrimp already on skewers from Kroger and froze them but any garden variety shrimp on a skewer would work.  I think it is easier to grill shrimp attached to something!

I seasoned the shrimp with Chesapeake Bay style seasoning, Kroger brand again.  This would be the same as Old Bay... but I am cheap!

Grill shrimp on each side for two to three minutes.  Serve hot.

For the carrots I boiled 1/2 bag a baby carrots approximately six minutes. The phone rang so give or take a minute.  They would have been better steamed, but a las I do not have a steamer.  
For the sauce melt one teaspoon of butter in a sauce pan, add three tablespoons of honey and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Mix well.  Drain carrots and mix sauce with carrots. Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Outcome:  Hubby and I really enjoyed this less than thirty minute meal.  Easy preparation, easy clean up.  We even dined outside. 

Child's opinion:  Said child felt the shrimp were a little spicy.  She wiped the seasoning on her paper towel, ahem napkin.  She did eat three servings of the carrots, a new record.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

First Night

I created this blog because my family is in a food rut.  We pish posh about what to eat regardless of the fore thought and planning put into our meals.  We are a family on a budget, a tight budget.  We are a family of three.  We are a family of two people who are overweight, and one who we never want that to happen to.  

About me... I am a mommy, a wife, a full time college student, a preschool teacher, an aspiring politician, and a home cook. 

About hubby.... hubby is a fabulous daddy, good husband, patient t-ball coach, and currently unemployed.  If you are seeking a college degreed account manager with 9 years experience in the grocery account management industry, he is your man.  He has really honed his cooking skills since the big let go!

About daughter.... Angelic picky eater.  A vegetarian when it suits her.  Super student, and all around good egg. 

The mission of this blog.  To force ourselves to be more creative with food, to push the limits, and to not eat pizza two nights a week! I am going to try my best to not have a repeat for an entire year!

Tonight's Dinner

Maple Mustard Bone in Pork Chops
Tomato and Mushroom Salad

3 pork chops
2 table spoons Dijon mustard
2 table spoons REAL maple syrup
one small handful of spring onions
salt and pepper to taste
Marinate pork chops for at least three hours.  Grill to your liking.  I did six minutes on each side. 

1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 container of button mushrooms sliced in thirds
1 package dry Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
fresh ground pepper
(this is a variation from the Lady and Son's Cookbook.  Must give credit were credit is due)
Place veggies in bowl.  Mix other ingredients, pour over veggies.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours.  Serve. 

The outcome:  Pork Chops delicious.  Made extra sauce to dip in.  Tomato and Mushroom salad is a household favorite.  

The kid's opinion:  She was unable to swallow meat again tonight, but ate two helpings of the salad.  The meat issue is common at our home.