Monday, February 28, 2011

Day #57

Tried a new recipe tonight!  I was looking for a way to use up the open jar of artichoke hearts that were in my fridge, so I found a recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Mac & Cheese.    The recipe was from an episode of Rachael Ray's daytime talk show. 

I made a few modifications to the recipe.  First, I cut it in half, because I didn't want a TON of leftovers.   Second, I left out the white wine, only because I didn't want yet another open bottle of wine, when I already have a couple open (reds & blushes).   Third, instead of Fontina & Parmesean cheeses, I used a shredded combination of Parmesean, Romano, and Asiago cheeses.   Fourth, the recipe calls for transferring the pasta & sauce to a casserole dish, adding more cheese, then baking until golden brown...I skipped that step.   

Despite my tweaking the recipe, it was delicious!  It tasted like Spinach & Artichoke dip, was nice and cheesy, and had yummy whole grain pasta. 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day #56

I lost track of time this afternoon, and next thing I knew my stomach was growling, it was 5:00pm, and I had nothing cooking for dinner.   So I rifled through my pantry and found a bag of Knorr Sides Plus Veggies pasta - the Roasted Garlic, Olive Oil, & Broccoli Rotini flavor.   I wanted to amp up the veggies, so while the pasta was cooking in it's pot, I heated up a small skillet with a little olive oil.  To the skillet I sauteed some diced onion, bell pepper (red & green), frozen peas, chopped artichoke hearts, and some diced deli-thin hard salami.  Seasoned it all with salt & pepper, tossed the veggie mix into the cooked pasta, and served.   I'm a little bummed that I didn't have any cheese to add to the pasta, but it was still good.   Much better than the original plain pasta bag mix :)

My dessert was inspired by tonight's Academy Awards Red Carpet - vanilla bean ice cream with frozen peach slices, raspberries, whipped cream, gold sugar flakes, and pearl nonpareils:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day #55

Tonight's dinner started with a craving for sweet potato fries.   I didn't want to have another chicken patty sandwich this soon to my last one, so I went digging through my freezer and found these 2 lonely tilapia fillets.

While the tilapia was thawing slightly and the oven was preheating, I took 2 end pieces of whole grain bread, and toasted them twice until crunchy.  I then crushed them into crumbs.  To the breadcrumbs I added 1 tablespoon of whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning, and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.   I then set up a breading station with the breadcrumb mix in one shallow plate, and some almond milk in a 2nd plate.  I patted the tilapia fillets with a paper towel to remove some of the extra moisture, dipped them in the almond milk, then added a light coating of the breadcrumb mixture.

I took a sided sheet pan and spread a little olive oil on half of the sheet pan, placed the tilapia on that side, and drizzed a tiny more olive oil on the fish.   On the other half of the sheet pan I added the frozen sweet potato fries.   They baked in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning everything over halfway through the cooking time.    When everything was cooked and crispy, I sprinkled a little salt on the fries, and drizzled a little lemon juice over the fish.   Served with a little store-bought tartar sauce.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day #54

I seem to have caught some kind of cold, which always puts me in the mood for chicken soup.  Tonight I decided on a can of fun Campbell's Chicken & Stars soup, with some Italian Herb pita chips on the side. 

Nothing fancy.   But it's dinner :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day #53

Tonight - steak and risotto.

The steak was a loin strip steak that I picked up at the grocery store. Last night I rubbed it with salt, pepper, and a Chipotle seasoning rub, then marinated it in a plastic food bag with a combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a couple dashes of soy sauce. I let that hang out in my fridge for 24 hours. When I opened the bag this evening, it had a spicy-sweet odor from the combination of seasonings. I patted the steak down with a paper towel to remove extra moisture before putting it in my pre-heated skillet with a little butter and olive oil. (I read that tidbit in my Williams-Sonoma cookbook...the combination of oil & butter will give you the buttery taste with the higher temperatures allowed by the oil. I figured I'd test it out.) Also to the skillet I added a couple sprigs of green onion that I tore into pieces. Figured it would add a little flavor.  It smelled delicious the whole time it was cooking, and was juicy & flavorful!

While the steak was cooking, I cooked up the butternut squash risotto. No, I didn't make it from scratch. It was a boxed mix that I bought from Target. I've never eaten risotto before, and I wasn't daring enough to try cooking it from scratch. Learning to cook risotto is on my "culinary bucket list" for 2011. Someday. This boxed risotto was easy enough to make, and tasted pretty good!

 The photo is my failed attempt at a fancy presentation....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day #52

As you have probably noticed, my eating habits and level of cooking are slowly deteriorating.   And it's only day #52 out of the year.....we have a long way to go!

Tonight I was in the mood for some "fast food," but instead of going to McDonalds or Wendys or any place like that, I made it myself at home.   Breaded chicken breast filet, on a whole wheat sandwich round, with BBQ sauce and provolone cheese.  Served with sweet potato fries.   Not even fresh homemade sweet potato bought out of a bag.  But they are still slightly nutritious, right??

The good news is I have a steak marinating for tomorrow night, so you can expect something decently cooked :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day #51

It seems like I've been hungry all day long, and nothing I ate filled me up for more than an hour or two.   When it came time for dinner, I knew I needed something nutritious & filling.   So I made a salad.  This salad was loaded with veggies (romaine, bell pepper, onion, and artichoke hearts), dairy (mozzarella cheese), and protein (ham, salami, and peanuts) balsamic vinaigrette.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day #50

I was in the mood for pizza last night, but didn't have the ingredients, so today I stopped by the grocery store and picked up everything I would need.   I decided I would give the Crazy Crust Pizza Crust recipe a second chance.   This is the yeast-free crust that I tried last month with mixed results.

I made the crust using half white flour and half whole wheat flour, and spread the dough mixture into my Pampered Chef bar pan.   Instead of laying the toppings directly into the dough, I decided to try pre-baking it first in hopes it would set up better.   I cooked it in a 400-degree oven for approximately 10 minutes.    The edges were hardening, but the middle still looked a little gooey.  But I figured it was good enough, and should cook fully by the end. 

The pizza was a combination of a Hawaiian pizza and a BBQ chicken pizza.   I spread some store-bought BBQ sauce on the crust, then layered it with Canadian Bacon slices, crushed pineapple, chopped red &  green bell peppers, diced chicken breast, and provolone & mozzarella cheeses.   I put the pizza back into the oven and cooked it for another 20 minutes. 

When I cut into the pizza, the edges were cooked well, but the middle section was still a little soft.  Not raw-type of gooey....just not hard and crunchy.    Maybe it will crisp up better when I reheat it using a regular metal pizza pan so the heat can cook the bottom more.

But the edge pieces tasted delicious!   :-)

I might give this crust recipe one more attempt before I throw it away.  I think it needs a few tweaks, and I am determined to figure it out.  I like being able to toss together a pizza from scratch without waiting for yeast.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day #49

South Asian-Inspired Chicken Noodle Bowl

In a small pot, I brought some water to bowl and cooked 1 cup of orzo pasta.   In a medium skillet, I stir fried together bell peppers, onion, and frozen peas until tender.  Added in some diced chicken breast (pre-cooked), and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garam masala.   A co-worker introduced me to this spice...well, actually blend of spices.   It is popular in Indian and other South Asian cuisine.   I really enjoy the scent of the spices.  Once the pasta was cooked, I drained it, then tossed it into the skillet with the chicken and veggies.  I then mixed in a sauce made from some soy sauce, hummus, and a splash of the pasta cooking water.  Let that all cook together for a couple minutes until the sauce thickened and fully coated the dish.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day #48

I call this Mock Chicken casserole - it's "mock" because the whole dinner came together in 20 minutes without all the long cooking times of a casserole.    More leftovers went into this dinner.

I started by steaming some frozen veggies in the microwave.  When they were thawed, I drained the majority of the water, added some leftover brown rice, and steamed it for a couple more minutes until the rice was refreshed.    While that was steaming, I chopped up the rest of the cooked turkey breast tenderloin from my fridge, and browned it in a saute pan with a little butter.  I added a little milk and grated Parmesan cheese and heated until it formed a thickened sauce with the chicken.  Mixed it all together, and served with some biscuits.

It's fun and challenging to find new ways to mix up my leftovers, so I'm not eating the same thing night after night. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day #47

On my commute home from work, I decided to stop off at Tommy's Good Eats (a local, small business, sandwich shop) to pick up some dinner.   I haven't been to Tommy's in several months, so I was about due for another visit. 

I ordered the Turkey Club - which is turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pesto sauce on a hoagie roll.   This is probably my favorite sandwich at Tommy's...or at least that I've tried so far.
I also got a small bag of potato chips made by The Billy Goat Chip Company based here in St. Louis.  I've never heard of Billy Goat, but the chips were delicious!  Very thin and crispy and flavorful, unlike store-bought potato chips.  

Did you know that today, February 18th, is Drink Wine Day?   I think I'll go pour myself a glass and enjoy the rest of my night....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day #46

Since it was after 6pm before I started preparing for dinner, I wanted something quick and easy, but nutritious.  So I grabbed a frozen dinner from my freezer - a Healthy Choice steam meal - Honey Balsamic Chicken.   I also steamed a little brown rice to accompany it.   The meal was very tasty - chicken red potatoes, asparagus, and tomatoes, with a sweet honey balsamic glaze.   I'll have to replicate it for myself sometime, using fresh ingredients.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day #45

This was an experiment with leftovers.  A successful experiment, I might add.   I took some of the leftover turkey from last night and a few slices of deli ham, diced them up, and sauteed them in a skillet with a little olive oil, black pepper, garlic, and nutmeg.  I let them cook for about 10 minutes, then added in a little alfredo sauce and a spoonful of Gorgonzola cheese....both of which finished up the little product remaining in their respective containers.  Once the cheese had melted and the sauce was warm, I spooned the whole mixture over a leftover biscuit from last night.

I guess this would be Turkey Cordon Bleu meets Biscuits & Gravy? 

No matter what you want to call it, it was very delicious :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day #44

When I was at the grocery store last night, I picked up a package of Jennie-O Boneless Turkey Breast Tenderloins.   I seasoned them with salt & pepper, and placed them in the middle of a Pampered Chef stoneware bar pan.  Surrounding the turkey tenderloins, I added baby carrots, broccoli florets, wedges of onion, & celery sticks....all of which were drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper.  The turkey and veggies roasted in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, until the turkey reached the interior temperature specified on the package.  While the turkey was cooking, I also made a couple frozen biscuits.   The whole grain egg noodles and cranberry sauce were leftovers from previous nights' dinners.     Once the turkey was cooked, it was moist and juicy, and steaming up my camera lens!   The roasted broccoli and carrots were tender and flavorful.

The rest of the leftover turkey tenderloins will be used for upcoming meals...or they will make delicious sandwiches for lunch!

Who says turkey is only for Thanksgiving??    :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day #43

I saw this recipe on a January episode of Rachael Ray's daytime talk show, and have been looking forward to trying it.  She calls it "Potato Tot-Topped Shepherd's Pie."  Anything with tater tots just HAS to be good!   Basically, this is ground sirloin, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, peas, spices, & beef gravy, topped with cheddar cheese and tater tots, and then baked until the tots were crispy.

The recipe claimed to make 4-6 servings, but it really made 6-8.   And I had even cut the recipe down a bit...due to a mistake at the grocery store.   Lesson learned: double-check the recipe and the shopping lists to make sure the correct ingredients are bought!!   The recipe called for 2 pounds of ground sirloin, but for some reason, at the store I only bought a package of 0.8lb.   So when I noticed my mistake during cooking, I cut back on the rest of the veggies that I added to the mix. 
I also made a few alterations to the recipes.   First, the recipe also called for watercress, which I eliminated, but I added peas.   Second, since I don't have any Worchestshire sauce on hand (and didn't have that on my shopping list), I used a few dashes of soy sauce and some Pampered Chef smoky BBQ seasoning.  For a little flavor.    Third, the gravy called for adding a little amber beer or apple cider....I didn't buy either of those, so I just eliminated that part.   My gravy turned out delicious anyway.  It was my first time making gravy! 

Overall this was a delicious dish, it just makes a huge amount of food!

And of course, since today is Valentine's Day, I needed a special little dessert.  So I made some mini Pillsbury Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, and added pink sugar sprinkles.  Just the right amount of "festive" for today.

Happy Valentine's Day, and Happy Cooking!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day #42

I had some leftover cooked ground beef in the fridge that I needed to use up.  I was in the mood for something Mexican, but I am out of tortilla shells and that meant no taco salad or burritos.   I decided to experiment a little.  I cooked up some couscous, mixed in the ground beef, some diced tomatoes and green peppers, a couple spoonfuls of salsa, and some diced cheddar cheese (I am also out of shredded cheese).  It was surprisingly better than  I was expecting.  Like the best "gunk" of a taco salad or nachos, without any lettuce or chips.

My dinners get creative when I am running low on food in the fridge and pantry.  Tomorrow (or Tuesday) will be grocery shopping day :-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day #41

I was in the mood for pasta tonight.   So I took a chicken breast, sliced it, and sauteed it with some green pepper and onions.  Once cooked, I mixed it together with some tomato sauce, and then tossed all of it with some whole wheat pasta.  Topped with shredded cheese.

I think I eat pasta almost as much as I eat salads.   That's a lot of Italian food, considering my mainly German/Polish heritage!

For dessert, I made a little dessert "pizza."  I took a whole grain tortilla, spread on some Nutella, topped it with chopped pecans, butterscotch chips, and white chocolate chips.  Microwaved it for about a minute until gooey, then sliced and enjoyed.  Sadly, I enjoyed it too quickly before I thought about taking a picture for the blog.  So use your imagination.  Otherwise I'll be forced to make a 2nd one, and that wouldn't be good for my waistline!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day #40

FRIDAY!!!   Pizza & Movie night :)   I cooked myself a Red Baron Individual Supreme pizza, and made a little garden salad to go along with it.   Grabbed a soda, popped  "The Backup Plan"  into my DVD player, and enjoyed the start of the weekend.

Don't worry...I'll cook real food again tomorrow night :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day #39

After all the chocolate I ate at the office today, I figured I should eat something light & healthy for dinner. So I made myself a salad. Mixed greens, romaine lettuce, green pepper, onion, mushrooms, walnuts, and poppyseed dressing.

A friend posed the following question to me one night on Facebook:  "don't you find it strange that you eat so many salads during the winter?"

Which got me thinking. Am I weird? I just enjoy a good salad. They are quick and easy to make, refreshing, and versatile. True, salads are generally considered a "summer; dish, because they are light and more veggies are in season then. But should our eating habits be defined by the seasons? Does that mean I can't have soup during the summer?

So what do you think.... am I weird for eating so many salads during the winter?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day #38

Tonight I wanted something quick & easy for dinner.  And what is quicker and easier than grilled cheese and tomato soup?   2 slice of sourdough bread, 1 slice pepperjack cheese, 1 slice cheddar cheese, some shredded Italian chicken (leftovers).....grilled to perfection.   Microwave a bowl of tomato soup.  Ta da.  Dinner is served.

As I was grilling my sandwich, I suddenly had a craving for a grilled meatloaf & cheese sandwich.  Which means I need to make a meatloaf.  Anybody have a good recipe they want to share with me?? :>)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day #37

Last night while my mom was helping me put away the leftovers and clean up, she commented on how much chicken was left. She made some sort of remark like "Theresa will probably turn the leftovers into a soup for her blog."  So tonight as I started thinking about what to make, that comment popped into my head. And it made me wonder if I could turn the leftovers into a soup.

I wanted to give it a try.

I started by bringing 2 cups of beef bouillon up to a boil (I didn't have chicken broth on hand).  I added in one cup of the leftover juices & veggies (peppers, onion, & stewed tomatoes) from last nights dish. I also added about 1 cup of tomato sauce, to give it a little more tomato flavor and thickness. I diced up a chicken breast and a chicken thigh, and tossed them into the pot. Seasoned it with a little black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning mix, then covered the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. At that point, I tossed in a couple handfuls of leftover cooked whole wheat egg noodles, and let it cook another 5 minutes.

While that was simmering, I took a couple slices of French baguette and placed them on my stove, to let some of the heat dry out the bread a bit and make it nice & crusty.

When the soup was ready, I ladled it into a bowl, added my crusty bread, and topped with a little dusting of grated parmesan cheese.

It turned out to be a nice, Italian-style chicken noodle soup!

Thanks for the idea, mom!   :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day #36

Tonight I had my parents over for dinner.

I made Braised Balsamic Chicken, and served it with whole wheat egg noodles, French baguette, and a garden salad. Everyone seemed to enjoy it :) 

I found the recipe on, and it is one I would definitely make again!

My mom brought over some apple berry pie for dessert. It was a nice sweet ending to this meal.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day #35

Tonight's dinner was inspired by the Monte Carlo sandwich I ate for my birthday dinner at Square One Brewery.....and the lonely can of cranberry sauce I found while cleaning my pantry cabinet.

I made a grilled cheese sandwich with whole grain bread, romano cheese, sliced ham, and a spread of whole berry cranberry sauce.

I also took a little of the cranberry sauce and used it as a topping on my vanilla frozen yogurt for dessert.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day #34

I'm going to a trivia night tonight, and I know there will be lots of food. So I figured I should have a dinner that was high-protein to fill me up so I wouldn't nibble as much.

I made a 2-egg omelet stuffed with ham, onion, green pepper, apple, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day #33

After a long week of work, I like quick & easy dinners.  Something I can throw together without much thought or involvement.  In my pre-blog days, this usually meant frozen pizzas or microwave chicken strips.  But now I think more carefully about what I am eating, knowing that it will be photographed and documented for the whole world to see.   And I mean the WHOLE world..... the stats tracker here on Blogger shows me that I have viewers from the United States, Canada, Chile, South Africa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Australia, Luxembourg, and the Philippines.   All of the continents are represented....except Antarctica.   :-) is the food for today:

Fresh pasta  is great because it cooks so quickly!!   This was Buitoni brand Chicken & Prosciutto Tortelloni.  I cooked the pasta, then tossed with with a little pesto and balsamic vinegar.

Did you know that yesterday, February 3rd, was National Carrot Cake Day?   Ever since I discovered that "holiday" on Punchbowl, I had a craving for carrot cake.  Nice, moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  So tonight when I was at the grocery store, I bought a single piece from the bakery.   This picture only shows half of the piece.  I was trying to be good and not eat the whole piece.....  but between the time I took the picture and the time I am posting this blog, I ate the 2nd half too :)   It was too too delicious to stay in the fridge!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day #32

Tonight's dinner was my attempt to start using up some of the leftovers and produce from my refrigerator before they go bad.  

I still had some of the cooked Beef Smoked Sausage from last Friday, so I decided to make that into a sandwich with some toasted wheat bread, a slice of Pepperjack cheese, and a little spread of ketchup. 

To go with my sandwich, I figured I needed some greens, so I made a little Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, mixed field greens (which were getting ready to lose their freshness), Caesar dressing, shaved Romano cheese, some jumbo croutons, and cracked black pepper.

I also decided to pull out my real camera tonight instead of using my cell phone camera, so I took a few minutes and practiced my close-up food photography.  So here is a bonus photo for you to enjoy:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day #31

I can't believe I've kept up with this blog for a month!   One down, 11 to go.  :-)

Tonight I made a big burger for dinner. I took the ground beef and mixed in some sea salt, black pepper, dried garlic powder, and a little red pepper oil (from Vom Fass). I divided this mixture in half, and pressed both halves into large thin patties. I put a little Gorgonzola cheese in the middle of one patty, put the other on top, and pressed the sides together to seal.  I cooked this in my small skillet pan until the juices ran clear and I didn't see pink. 

Instead of using a plain hamburger bun, I used a toasted whole grain sandwich round. I put some field greens on the bottom of the bun, put the burger on top, added some extra Gorgonzola cheese (since my burger sprung a leak and lost some of the cheese, as you can see in the picture), topped it with a little more greens, some spicy brown mustard, and the top bun.
It was delicious!!

*note: I only used between 1/4 - 1/3 pound of ground beef. The rest of the package of ground beef was browned on its own and put in the fridge for later use.  So the burger might look bigger than it really was!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day #30

Chicken Stir-Fry.

The other night when I made the Pesto chicken, I went ahead and cooked 3 extra chicken breasts.... because it's easier and faster to use pre-cooked chicken over raw chicken.  I took 2 off those chicken breasts and chopped them into cubes.  I added then to my large skillet, which had preheated with a little vegetable oil. Also to the skillet I added a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies, and seasoned everything with a little ground black pepper, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil (from Vom Fass).

While that was sauteing together, I made some rice. I found a box of Hamburger Helper beef fried rice in my pantry, so used that.... without the beef. After the rice cooked, I scrambled 2 eggs in the microwave and added it to the rice/sauce.

Took a large spoonful of the fried rice mix, topped it with a generous helping of chicken & veggies, and a light sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Voila, chicken stir fry.

Now if only I had some ice cream or sorbet for dessert to counteract all the salty & savory flavors....

But I don't.   I didn't stock up on ice cream or sorbet when I went shopping prior to the "snow storm" that was forecasted for St. Louis today.   So I'll have to settle for this instead:
A "parfait" made from layering frozen mixed berries and Greek yogurt (sprinkled with a little Splenda and almond extract ).    A sweet fruity ending to a delicious meal!