Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day #118 - Panera Bread

Went out to dinner with my friends again, and tonight we went to Panera Bread.  Tonight I ordered a Pick Two - Frontega Chicken Sandwich and the Caesar Salad.  Two of my favorite menu items.  Yumm-o!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day #117 - Philly Burger

Went out to dinner with some friends tonight to Applebees.  I ordered the Philly Burger.  Here is the description from their website:
Applebee's twist on a classic... this burger is piled high with grilled onions, sautéed peppers & mushrooms, and smothered in creamy cheese sauce and aged white cheddar. Served on a toasted hoagie roll.

It was very good, and very filling.  The flavors of a Philly Cheese-steak, but the bulk and texture of a hamburger.   Halfway through, I got rid of the bun and just ate the burger & peppers with my fork.    

P.S.  Be prepared for another restaurant dinner tomorrow night!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day #116 - Spinach Apple Poppyseed Salad

I was in the mood for salad tonight.  So I built myself a light, tasty salad out of the following:
  • fresh baby spinach leaves
  • chopped romaine lettuce
  • diced salami
  • diced red onion
  • Feta cheese
  • chopped Gala apples
  • chopped walnuts
  • dried cranberries
  • Poppyseed dressing
The Feta cheese added a nice creaminess to the salad, and the overall flavors slightly resembled a Waldorf salad.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day #115 - Chili Dog

Cold, rainy day.  Perfect weather for a nice, hot chili dog!!   I opened up a can of Campbell's chili, and heated some up in the microwave.   I didn't have any hot dogs, so instead I used a piece of beef smoked sausage.    I started with my hot dog bun, added a thin layer of fresh baby spinach leaves (for some color and nutritional aspect), placed my beef sausage (sliced in half lengthwise), added a couple spoonfuls of chili, and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese.   It was much beefier and meatier than a regular hot dog, and had lots of flavor.   I ate the rest of the bowl of chili on the side with a little shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.    A nice dinner to warm me up on this rainy April day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day #114 - Greek Quinoa Salad

Tonight I couldn't figure out what to make for dinner, so I turned to my friends on Facebook.   I asked for suggestions, and got at least a dozen responses back.  One of them was from Amethyst, one of my Prim Rose sisters from college.  She suggested I have Quinoa for dinner.   Quinoa is fun to pronounce, but I wasn't sure how to cook it, so I turned to my other friend, Google.   I found several recipes combining the Quinoa grain with the flavors of a Greek salad.  So I combined a couple different recipes into one large salad:

Greek-inspired Quinoa Salad   (serves 2)

1 cup whole grain Quinoa, cooked
1 cup shredded spinach leaves
1 cup whole baby spinach leaves
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1 cup Feta cheese
1 cup diced chicken breast
1/2 lemon
1/8 cup Greek Vinaigrette salad dressing

In a medium mixing bowl I added the cooked Quinoa, shredded spinach, chopped tomato, diced onion, sliced olives, diced chicken breast, and Greek dressing.   Mix together.

On my dinner plate, I placed down the whole baby spinach leaves.  I fanned out the avocado slices in a circle atop the spinach, and then squirted on the juice of the half lemon. I sprinkled on half of the feta cheese.  I then spooned a large portion of the Quinoa salad mix into the middle of my plate.  Sprinkled more Feta cheese on top.    Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day #113 - Pork Fajitas

I was thinking up ways to use the leftover Orange Pork roast from last week... and fajitas sounded like a tasty idea! 

I heated up a small skillet with a little vegetable oil.   I added 2 handfuls of frozen roasted bell pepper strips, 1/2 cup of cubed pork roast, and 1/4 cup of diced red onion.    I let these all cook together, about 8 minutes, until heated & tender.  I then added a couple tablespoons of black bean salsa, and cooked for another couple minutes until the salsa had cooked onto the meat and vegetables.

Then it was time to build my fajitas!   I started with a base of whole wheat tortilla shells, added some shredded cheddar cheese, and microwaved for about 30 seconds until the cheese started to melt.  Topped with a generous portion of the pork-veggie mix, some diced tomato, shredded lettuce, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream).  Rolled them up, and they were ready to eat!

Also on the side, I cooked up some Spanish Rice - one of the Uncle Ben's 90-second microwave packets.  Those are wonderful options for a quick and easy side dish, when I don't want to wait and boil water!  Hooray for convenience...and shameless product placement!

And for dessert?   Easter candy!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day #112 - Easter dinner

Happy Easter! 

I have a confession to make.  I completely forgot to take a photo of my plate of food tonight at Easter dinner.   I think I was too distracted by my cousins and the delicious food on my plate, and I dug right in without snapping a picture.    But thanks to my wonderful Grandma (who reads my blog nightly), I was able to snap this "stunt double" photo of food before the leftovers were cleared from the table.

Tonight my Easter dinner consisted of the following (not all shown in photo):
Ham with pineapple slices
Mom's yeast rolls
Hot potato salad
Asparagus casserole
Hard-boiled eggs, artistically dyed & painted by my cousin Tracy
Veggies - broccoli, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes

Fresh fruit skewers
Assorted Easter candy for dessert (jelly beans, marshmallow eggs, M&Ms, etc).

We will return to our "regular" blogging tomorrow night :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day #111 - Spring Omelet

Tonight I wanted breakfast. I made a large 2-egg omelet loaded with diced green pepper, asparagus, green onion, red onion, Canadian bacon, and shredded Italian cheeses.  Seasoned with a little salt, black pepper, and dried dill.  A great dinner!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day #110 - Tuna Melt

Tonight I made myself an open-faced Tuna Melt  sandwich.  I started by mixing a packet of tuna with mayo, pickle relish, black pepper, a little dill, shredded lettuce, and diced red onion.  I spread the tuna salad on a piece of whole grain bread, topped it with a little shredded Italian-blend cheese, and cooked it in my toaster oven until melty.   On the side, I had a few Frito corn chips (the bottom of the bag), and a small bowl of chunky applesauce.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day #109 - Tomato Mozzerella Salad

I made something light for dinner tonight - a chopped tomato mozzerella salad.

I sliced some fresh mozzerella balls, cut the slices in fourths, and then added them to a medium mixing bowl.   I chopped a tomato, diced a red onion, and dumped these veggies into the bowl with the mozzerella.  I seasoned the "salad" with salt, pepper, dried basil (I forgot to buy fresh), and dried chives, then drizzled some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the ingredients, and tossed until well-coated.   On my plate, I took a few chunks of crusty Italian bread, and piled all the salad on top.   And then garnished with some additional dried basil.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day #108 - Orange Pork Tenderloin French Dips

Trying a recipe from the newest edition of Rachael Ray Magazine - Pork Tenderloin French Dip Subs.    It was a pretty easy recipe to follow!   Season a pork tenderloin with salt & pepper, and put that in the oven to roast.    The au jus was made by boiling together chicken stock, orange slices, carrot, shallots, garlic, honey, peppercorns, and bay leaves.   Also on the sandwich was a gremolata of orange zest, thyme, rosemary, and parsley.  It added a nice flavor to the sandwich.

Along with my sandwich, I had some crunchy potato chips, some tropical fruit salad, and a Snapple iced tea :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day #107 - Springtime Sausage Sautee

Doesn't that picture look colorful and appetizing?   It's a Springtime Sausage Sautee.   I made it up.

1 zucchini
8-10 stalks of asparagus
1-2 carrots
1 cup roasted bell pepper slices (I used frozen ones, but you could use a jar)
1 package Beef Smoked Sausage
1 cup cooked brown rice
black pepper
garlic salt
dried dill
dried chives

Heat large skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  
While pre-heating, prepare the veggies:  Peel zucchini, cut into slices on the bias (diagonally), and then cut in half.   Peel carrots and slice thinly.  Trim ends of asparagus and cut into slices on the bias.
When oil is heated, add all veggies.   Season with salt, pepper, dill & chives, and sautee until vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes
While veggies are sauteeing, slice beef sausage in half horizontally, and then cut into 1/2-inch thick half-moon slices.   Add to skillet with tender-cooked vegetables, and continue cooking another 5 minutes until sausage is fully heated.
Serve sautee mix over cooked brown rice.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day #106 - Chicken Parmesean

This meal changed several times tonight....
When I first started getting ready for dinner, I thought about making a bowl of chili (I had a can of Campbell's Roadhouse Chili in my pantry).  I got out some shredded cheddar, green onions, and Frito corn chips to top my bowl of chili.  I decided that I should probably have something healthy along with the chili, so I pulled out all the salad fixings.   I proceeded to make a salad of romaine lettuce, green bell pepper, Gorgonzola cheese, balsamic vinegarette, and dried cranberries.   When I realized those flavors didn't go well with the chili, I put the can of chili back into the pantry, and searched for something else to eat.   I remembered that I had bought some beef smoked sausage my last time at the grocery store, so maybe I would just make that real quick.  But when I went to the fridge yet again to get the sausage, I saw the container of leftover brown rice pilaf from last night.  Hmmm...what could I eat with the rice?   My eye noticed the jar of sun-dried tomato pesto in the fridge, and that gave me an idea.  So I pulled out a frozen breaded chicken breast filet from the freezer, microwaved it, topped it with the tomato pesto, added some shredded cheese, and called it a quick Chicken Parmesean.   Reheated the rice, and called it dinner.

So the final dinner result.... quick Chicken Parmesean, brown rice pilaf with Italian seasonings, and my Balsamic salad with cranberries & Gorgonzola cheese.

I was quite the indecisive cook tonight.  Do you ever have nights like that??

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day #105 - Tangy Pork Stir-Fry

I was playing around with stir fry tonight.  And here is what I came up with.   (Note: I will attempt to write more of my meal creations in recipe mode, in case you actually want to try these yourself at home.)

Tangy Pork Stir-Fry  (serves 2)
2 boneless pork chops, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced on a bias
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard  (plus more, to taste)
1/4 cup honey (plus more, to taste)
Vegetable oil
Sesame oil
Soy Sauce

1.  Add 1-2 tablespoons each of vegetable oil and sesame oil to a large skillet (or wok), and preheat over medium-high heat. 
2.  Add pork chunks to skillet (beware of oil splatters!) and stir-fry pork until no longer pink.  Add in the pepper slices and green onion, and stir-fry veggies with the pork until tender. 
3.  While pork & veggies are cooking, whisk together brown mustard, honey, and a couple dashes of soy sauce.  (Add more honey or mustard, depending on personal preference.  You are going for a sweet-tangy sauce.)   When pork & veggies are cooked, add in the tangy mustard sauce and stir to coat.   Let cook another minute until sauce is warm.
4.  Serve stir-fry atop a bed of brown rice (I used a pack of Uncle Ben's 90-second microwavable brown rice pilaf).  Garnish with sesame seeds.  


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day #104 - The Italiano

I was out & about the neighborhood today, going on walks and running errands. While I was out, I decided to stop by Tommy's Good Eats, a corner sandwich shop not too far from my apartment.

Tonight I ordered The Italiano, one of my favorites from the menu.  Volpi salami, roast beer, ham, provolone cheese, olive tapenade spread, lettuce, tomato, & Robusto Italian dressing on french baguette.  Yum!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day #103 - Pizza & Salad

Another meatless Friday.  I really wasn't in the mood for any more pasta, but a cheese pizza appealed to me.  Stopped by the grocery store on my way home from work and picked one up.

With my pizza, I made a small salad of romaine lettuce, diced red bell pepper, shredded cheese, peanuts, and honey mustard dressing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day #102 - Chicken Sandwich

This is not a fancy dinner by any stretch of the imagination. But it was something I could throw together quickly:  a breaded chicken filet sandwich on an everything bagel sandwich thin, with BBQ sauce, provolone cheese, lettuce, and pickles.  Served with veggie chips, and Greek yogurt with frozen mixed berries.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day #101 - Cranberry Pork Sandwich with Sweet Potatoes

Tonight's dinner was inspired by my friend, Anna.   Anna was talking on Facebook about cooking mashed potatoes for dinner.   I knew I had a sweet potato in my pantry, so I decided to make mashed sweet potatoes.   I peeled & chopped the sweet potato into medium chunks, and put them in my Pampered Chef micro-cooker.  Added enough water to cover, and microwaved for about 6-8 minutes until the chunks were fork-tender.  I then added a splash of milk and a dash of vanilla extract, and mashed until mostly smooth.

Since I couldn't make an entire meal out of just mashed sweet potato, I had to think of something else to eat.  So I took the leftover pork from last night, and sliced it thin.  I cut a whole grain roll in half, slathered some brown mustard on one side, and added the slices of pork.  Topped it with some shredded mozzarella cheese.  To give it a little more flavor & color, I took a handful of dried cranberries and put them in a measuring cup with some water.  I microwaved it for about a minute, until the hot water softened the cranberries.  I drained the water, and put the cranberries on my sandwich.  The pork, mustard, cranberries, and whole grain roll complimented each other nicely!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day #100 - Coffee-Marinated Pork Chops

Post #100!  Can you believe it?  I can't.  I didn't expect myself to keep up this blog for more than a month.  I'm still surprised at how many of you are checking in my blog each night to see what I ate for dinner.  Thank you!!

For tonight's 100-day celebration, I wanted to make something nice.  So I took this recipe from my friend Brandie's blog, Home Cooking Memories.  (I encourage you to check it out sometime)   The recipe is for Coffee-Marinated Pork Chops.  When I saw this recipe on her page, I was intrigued.  I love my morning coffee, and I know it goes great with desserts, but I never thought of using it in a savory main course dish.  So I had to try it out.   And you know what, it really WAS delicious!   It added a nice depth of flavor to the marinade (which also includes spicy brown mustard, brown sugar, and other spices).  But it wasn't overwhelming with coffee-taste, so I bet even non-coffee drinkers will enjoy the meal.  I will be making this again in the future.  Thanks, Brandie!

I paired the pork chops with a whole grain dinner roll and some Balsamic Roasted vegetables - chopped zucchini, asparagus, and red bell pepper, tossed with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Roasted on a stone baking pan at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day #99 - Spring Chicken Noodle Soup

Trying a new recipe tonight from Rachael Ray's Look & Cook cookbook.   I really like this cookbook, because in addition to all the delicious recipes, it contains color step-by-step pictures along with the recipes.  So you can SEE each step as you make it.  Love that concept!

This soup is called "Cure-A-Cold Spring Chicken Soup."   I've been feeling a little under-the-weather lately and this recipe appealed to me the most.

You start by poaching chicken breasts in a pot of water with 2 halves of onion, a couple garlic cloves, and some spices.   I also added about 1/2 cup of dry white wine.

In a 2nd large soup pot, you sautee chopped onion, celery, and carrot in some olive oil with some salt & pepper.    Add a box of chicken stock, and bring to a boil.   You then add 2 cups of the poaching liquid (strained), egg noodles, and the chicken.   Instead of dicing the chicken, I used two forks to shred the meat.   I think it looks better that way.

Once the noodles are cooked, you add in lemon zest, a little lemon juice, parsley & dill.   I also added some dried chives & tarragon.   Season with additional salt & pepper, if needed.

The light burst from the lemon and dill add a refreshing springtime tweak to traditional chicken noodle soup.

I'm not sure if this will cure a cold, but it's very tasty!!  

P.S.  If anybody wants the actual recipe, let me know and I will write it all out.  Or, I suggest just hopping over to Amazon and buying it for yourself.   If only I got commission on the sales ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day #98 - Tomato Mozzarella Wrap

I wanted a light supper tonight, so decided to make myself a wrap.

Started with a whole grain tortilla.  I spread on some sun-dried tomato pesto, then layered deli-sliced turkey breast, thinly sliced red onion, and sliced fresh mozzarella cheese.   I microwaved the wrap for about 30 seconds, then added some romaine lettuce and rolled it all up.   

I also sliced up a Granny Smith apple on the side.

Simple, easy, but full of flavor.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day #97 - Fazoli's

Went out to dinner tonight with my parents.   We went to Fazoli's.   I tried one of their new "Old School" pastas - Chicken Bianco.   Gemelli pasta with alfredo sauce, pesto, chicken, and Italian ham (looked like ham, but spiced like pepperoni).  And of course, the delicious buttery Fazoli's breadsticks!

From looking online, the Chicken Bianco is a limited-time dish:
"Old School can be a good thing.  Case in point: Fazoli’s four new Old School Italian dishes.  They include Chicken Bianco, Italian Meatza, Ravioli Florentine, and Sausage Cannelloni.  All are made with bold ingredients that are baked to perfection.  The four dishes are available until the end of May at participating locations for just $4.99 in most locations."
So if it sounds good to you, rush over to your neighborhood Fazoli's and pick some up :)

I thought it was very good.   I will probably try making an at-home version of this dish sometime in the near future :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day #96 - Italian Zucchini-Mozzerella Stackers

This dinner was inspired by a recipe I saw recently for Grilled Zucchini Pizzas.   I needed a meat-free recipe for tonight, and decided it would be a good time to test out a zucchini-based entree.   So I created these Italian Zucchini-Mozzerella Stackers

I started with two medium-size zucchini.  I trimmed off the ends, cut away the peel on two sides to make flat bottoms, then cut them in half lengthwise.   This gave me 4 long zucchini "bases."    I seasoned them with salt & pepper, and sauteed them in a large skillet with some olive oil.  I also cut a few slices of red onion, and added them to the skillet.

Once the zucchini were tender, I placed them in a square glass baking dish, and added the sauteed red onion slices on top.   Took some fresh mozzerella cheese, and cut it into thick slices, then layered those on top of the zucchini and onions.  Added some dollops of a Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, and then covered with shredded Italian cheeses.

I baked this dish in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheeses were melting:

Along with the Zucchini-Mozaerella stackers, I made myself a small salad of Romaine, diced red onion, dried cranberries, peanuts, shredded Italian cheese, and poppyseed dressing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day #95 - Panera Bread

I treated myself to dinner at St. Louis Bread Company (Panera Bread) tonight.  I wanted to try their new Steak and White Cheddar Panini.

Here is the description from the Panera website:  It's crafted on our French baguette, which has a thin crust that grills perfectly and holds up to the savory top sirloin steak, caramelized red onions and horseradish spread.

I thought it was a good sandwich.  Could have used a little more meat, in my personal preference.  But having worked at SLBC for 5 years, I know my sandwich was made according to strict corporate meat-portion weight specifications.

Tonight was the perfect night to try this Panini, because today, April 7th, St. Louis Bread Company was donating a portion of all panini sales to Operation Food Search.  The money would then be used to help feed hungry St. Louisans.   (A $4.00 donation for Operation Food Search will feed one person for a day.)  So I could have a good meal, and help a good cause!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day #94 - Italian Sausage Soup

Made up a quick batch of soup tonight for dinner.  Browned up some mild Italian sausage, onions, peppers, and diced asparagus.  Dumped that mixture into a pot with about a half box of vegetable stock.  Added in a small can of diced Italian tomatoes, a handful of quick-cooking barley, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and Italian herb mix.   Brought the mixture to a boil, then covered, reduced the heat, and let simmer for about 10 minutes (until the barley was plump and soft).   Served up my bowl full with some grated Parmesean cheese and another dash of Italian herbs.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day #93 - BBQ chicken sandwich

Late posting tonight.   I had dinner with my mom at her house, then we went to the Cardinals baseball game :)

Since my mom knows about this blog, she was very careful about presentation, and even wrote down an entire description of the meal.  Here is her description:
Boneless, skinless Chicken breast with Jamaican Jerk Rub (from Pampered Chef), grilled on the BBQ pit.  After cooking, lightly brushed on BBQ sauce.  Served on an egg dough hoagie roll with provolone cheese.   Sandwich was served with corn-on-the-cob, an Ambrosia salad (fruit cocktail, banana, coconut, and Cool Whip), and a tall glass of iced tea.

Thanks for dinner, mom!  :-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day #92 - Spaghetti "Carbonara"

You know how sometimes you overhear people talking about food, and then you start craving whatever food item they were talking about?   That happened to me tonight on the bus ride home.  These two people starting talking about noodles and their favorite ways to eat them (plain with butter and seasoning).  And it got me in the mood for noodles.   So tonight I made a fake version of Spaghetti Carbonara.

I put some whole grain spaghetti in a pot to boil.   Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, I heated up some olive oil and a small pat of butter.   I diced up a few slices of ham and some broccoli, and sauteed it in the butter/oil with some garlic & peppercorn seasoning mix.   When the pasta was cooked, I added a splash of the starchy cooking water (a trick I picked up from Rachael Ray) into the skillet with the ham & broccoli, and then drained the rest of the pasta.   I put the pasta back into the pot, dumped in the ham & broccoli, added a few shakes of grated Parmesean cheese, a little bit more butter, and a handful of chopped fresh parsley.   Mixed it all together until the cheese was sticking to the pasta, then dumped it into my bowl.  Topped with additional cheese and a sprig of parsley.

It's like Spaghetti Carbonara - only with ham instead of bacon, no egg, and the addition of broccoli.  :-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day #91 - Grilled Cheese Burger

I took a leftover hamburger patty from last night and sliced it horizontally in half.  I placed the halves in a skillet and heated them up on both sides, and then put the halves in between 2 slices of whole grain bread with mozzarella and swiss cheeses, and a spread of ketchup.  Grilled the sandwich until toasty brown on both sides.   (I didn't have any onions, otherwise I would have grilled those and added them too)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day #90 - Burgers

Tonight I dug out my George Foreman grill from the hall closet and grilled up some juicy hamburgers for dinner!

I mixed a little pickle relish & BBQ sauce in with the ground beef before I slapped them on the grill.   Served the burgers on a toasted Everything Bagel Sandwich Round with some lettuce, swiss cheese, and BBQ sauce.   With Veggie Chips on the side.

Another "summertime" dinner while I watched the baseball game on TV.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day #89 - Seafood Chowder

Trying another new recipe!   This is a Seafood Chowder, which I based off a Pampered Chef recipe.  It contains onion, garlic, corn, chopped clams, chopped tilapia, vegetable broth, clam juice, milk, salt & pepper.  And some fresh parsley on top.  

The recipe called for bacon, which I left out to make it meat-free.   It also called for heavy whipping cream, but I just used regular milk, so the soup wasn't as thick and rich as it could have been.

I ate the soup with some Special K crackers, garlic & herb flavor.

It had very good flavor.  It needs a little more tweaking though, before it will be spectacular.  But I like having this homemade soup better than anything I can dump out of a can!