Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers Shepherd's Pie

After thinking we wouldn't end up with any Thanksgiving leftovers this year, we actually ended up with a lot of them. We brought home all of the remaining turkey (enough to make this and fill three freezer containers!), mashed potatoes, and corn that the rest of my family didn't want and we had a ton of roasted veggies (brussels sprouts, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower) leftover from dinner at Kevin's mom's house. So I decided to make a shepherd's pie. I made an Emeril recipe for shepherd's pie using Thanksgiving leftovers last year. I was tempted to just do the same thing this year, but decided to make it super simple and just use a pint of my homemade and home-canned cream of mushroom soup. This was very good - all three of us really liked it. Carson ate two helpings and Kevin just wants me to make another one tonight using the rest of the leftover roasted veggies and corn. I didn't follow a recipe, just used what I had.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Shepherd's Pie

1 pint cream of mushroom soup
leftover veggies (I used corn and roasted carrots/sweet potatoes/brussels/cauliflower)
leftover mashed potatoes
leftover turkey
shredded cheese

Use whatever quantities of each to your liking. I used way more veggies than meat... I probably only used about 1 cup of chopped turkey, the rest was all veggies. Mix your soup into the veggies and meat in a 9x9 glass casserole dish. Spread out evenly. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle some shredded cheese on top. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Meal plans and the week ahead

This week is fairly tame and we're finally getting back to what used to be normal. Today we'll be going out for lunch with Kevin's family to visit with my BIL, SIL, and niece who are in town from the Grand Rapids area. Thursday I'll be in Detroit all day for work. We'll do something fun on Friday, but I'm not sure what yet. Saturday we're meeting up with our friends Lina, Sean, and Vayla in Ann Arbor in the morning to visit the children's museum there and then we're having lunch at Zingermann's Deli - yum!! Like I said, its a pretty tame week, which will be very nice for a change!

We put up our Christmas tree and decorations on Friday last week. I love having the house decorated for Christmas! I've got to do a little shopping this week to add to our decor - primarily to find a short string of lights to string through the evergreen garland on the fireplace and find some stocking holders that I actually like.... you wouldn't think they would be hard to find, but I've looked for 3 years now and never find any that I like. I also really need to get started on wrapping gifts this week. I'd like to get started on the Christmas cookie baking, too. Maybe that's what Carson and I will do on Friday. I still need to decide what kind of cookies to make this year, though. I also want to make some more homemade bread this week - I'm hoping to get into this habit so that I can stop buying bread at the store. I've got tons of bread machine and ABin5 recipes I want to try, so it should be fun! I still need to tackle our master bedroom - I started it a couple weeks ago, but I really would like to finish it up this week. We're going to move the computer desk in there so we can get going on Carson's "big boy" room, so I've got to clear some space for that, too. All of that should keep me plenty busy this week... in addition to the normal weekly stuff.

On to the meals... I'm still working on using up some stuff in the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator...

Sunday - Lunch with the in-laws. Dinner will be meatless.... roasted veggie soup using leftover roasted carrots/sweet potatoes/red potatoes/brussels sprouts/cauliflower from Thanksgiving; homemade bread; applesauce

Meatless Monday - quiche with spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots; cottage cheese; pearsauce

Tuesday - I've been wanting to make it for weeks, but just never get to making it... hopefully this week I do... pork chops with mustard sauced potatoes in the crockpot; sauteed green beans in garlic and EVOO; fresh pineapple

Wednesday - pine nut chicken; sauteed broccoli in EVOO and garlic; corn custard pudding casserole; apple slices and fresh pineapple

Thursday - eating at my parents' since they are watching Carson

Friday - artichoke chicken; roasted red potatoes and brussels sprouts; fruit smoothies to use up some frozen mango, peaches, and strawberries

Saturday - Lunch at Zingermann's. Dinner is TBD... possibly leftovers from the week... possibly homemade pizza. We'll be going out to dinner with my parents and sister to celebrate my sister's 19th birthday (it was Monday).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

Our last bit of baking on Wednesday was an Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie from AllRecipes. I've had this recipe marked for at least a year now, so I'm glad I got to finally make it. It was so good!! The apple butter really gives the pie a nice boost of flavor. I think I'll make my pumpkin pies this way from now on, actually. Although, I might leave off the streusel topping. While its super yummy and really makes this pie different, Kevin's not crazy about crumbly toppings on things and neither is Carson, so for our preference, I think I'll leave it off next time.

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup apple butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, apple butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in eggs and evaporated milk. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted 2 inches from the center comes out clean. Sprinkle streusel topping over the pie, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

To make the streusel topping: In a small bowl, combine butter, flour, and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans.

Pumpkin Bars

Carson and I did lots of baking on Wednesday. We both loved it. Carson especially liked helping with these pumpkin bars... namely the frosting since he got to lick the paddle. :) I got this recipe from my friend, Michelle M., at work. These bars are super yummy, super moist, super easy to make, and they make a lot of them! They're great for family parties, potlucks, etc. when you need dessert to go a long way. Every ingredient I used was organic, so even though they're not the healthiest in terms of fat content, at least the ingredients I used were better for your body and health. :)

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 16oz can pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped nuts (optional - I did not use)

Combine eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Blend well. Add dry ingredients; then stir in nuts if using. Pour mixture into a 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Frost with cream cheese frosting when cool.

Cream cheese frosting

1 box confectioner's sugar (about 3- 3 1/2 cups)
1 stick butter
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream all ingredients together and spread over bars.

French Bread

I broke out the bread machine on Wednesday for the first time in quite a long stretch of time. I'm really hoping to start using it a lot more frequently from now on - I'd like to stop buying any bread from the store, so we'll see how it goes. I tried a recipe from 250 Best American Bread Machine Baking Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, which I've checked out from the library. There are so many awesome sounding recipes in this book - I'm excited to try some more! This recipe for french bread was very good, even with old bread flour and old yeast! (I had just enough of each to use for this before breaking out my new stuff... so I couldn't waste it!) The bread was very soft and moist on the inside with a great french bread texture and flavor. The crust was quite crisp... as I know french bread is supposed to be, but actually next time I think I'll just put the machine on the basic cycle with the light crust setting rather than the french cycle with light crust setting to see if it makes the crust a little less crisp.

French Bread

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon sugar
4 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon bread machine yeast

Measure ingredients into baking pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select French Cycle. Makes a 2 pound loaf.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Meal plans and the week ahead

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, although this year will be much different than most years past since I'll be missing out on some traditions with my family (pig day and pie day) that I'm sad about... but such is life. We'll still get some great, quality time in with our families, which is the important thing. Aside from the traditions for prepping for turkey day, Black Friday is my all-time favorite shopping day... even though I hate the crowds and the lines, I love, love, love the deals! I always go out super early and I'm usually home by breakfast time, so I don't stay out long. I also love Black Friday for our tradition of putting up the Christmas tree and breaking out all the holiday decorations. It really is such a fantastic week with all the traditions, reflections on what you are thankful for, and just getting everyone in such great, happy, joyful moods for the holiday season. I am really looking forward to it all this year, as we build traditions with Carson and get to teach him about all the wonderful meanings behind this time of year.

This week is a busy one, as I'm sure it is for everyone. Today we'll be at my parents' house for a family party to celebrate my grandpa's birthday. Monday is a normal day. Tuesday morning, I'll be taking Carson for his H1N1 shot, so it might be a later afternoon at work to make up some of my lost time if we're busy. Wednesday, I'm hoping to take the afternoon off so that I can do my baking for the following day. Kevin will hopefully be coming home on Wednesday! Assuming he still comes home, his parents will be picking him up from the airport and hopefully he'll make it home before Carson goes to bed. Thursday is turkey day! We're going to my in-laws' for a turkey dinner and then will be heading to Grand Rapids for dessert with Kevin's extended family. Friday, I'll be going out shopping at 4am with my sister to take advantage of the Black Friday sales. Then Kevin, Carson, and I will be putting up our Christmas tree and decorations during the day. We may be heading to Crossroads Village on Friday night, but we're playing it by ear, waiting to see how we all feel and what the weather is like. Saturday is my 10-year high school class reunion that Kevin and I are possibly to go to, but that is also kind of up in the air right now, too. We'll see what the next couple of days bring.

So that's about it, now on to the meals...

Sunday - birthday party... we're having some appetizers; chicken divan; rice; cake; ice cream

Meatless Monday - herbed baked eggs; roasted brussels sprouts; toast with jam; applesauce

Tuesday - hot dogs; mac and cheese; carrots; pearsauce

Wednesday - Kevin is (hopefully) coming home! I'm going to do something easy since I'll be busy baking... chili in the crockpot; homemade bread; polish pigs in the blanket (golabki); steamed green beans from the freezer

Thursday - Happy Thanksgiving!! I'm bringing roasted veggies... red potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots... to my in-laws for dinner. And I'm bringing apple butter pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake bars to GR.

Friday - pork chops with mustard-sauced potatoes in the crockpot; peas; homemade bread; applesauce we decided to order pizza tonight

Saturday - Kevin is craving fast food and pizza... so we'll order pizza from our favorite local place, Rocky's, before (and if) we head to my reunion. shepherd's pie using leftover turkey, corn, roasted veggies, and mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving; applesauce

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin Bread

Carson and I made some pumpkin bread on Monday night. This is a recipe that I've been using for a few years now. It was shared with me by my friend, Kathy, from work. This is such an awesome pumpkin bread - very tasty, very moist, and it turns out perfectly every time! I changed it up a bit this time and substituted in 1 cup of whole wheat flour. It makes the bread a little more dense, but its still very, very good! We made a medium-sized loaf and three mini loaves. I've been forgetting to take a picture - maybe I'll remember to take one still this week. I'll update if I do.

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 cups pumpkin
2/3 cup water
1 cup nuts (optional)

Cream sugar, shortening and eggs. Add dry ingredients, pumpkin and water. Mix thoroughly. Bake at 350o for 1 hour, 10 minutes. Makes 4 small or 3 large loaves.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Meal plans and the week ahead

Okay, so this week is totally up in the air still. There is a possibility that Carson and I will be leaving for Spain on Thursday, so until we have an answer on that, I'm not quite sure what our week will look like. While it'd be super sweet if we go, I won't be disappointed if we don't go... and I don't even want to think about how stressful it would be at this point if we do get approved... I haven't given even a second of thought to what we would pack or anything... and I'm not sure I want to yet either... :)

If we don't go to Spain, we have a pretty busy week ahead of us. Today we are going to East Lansing to the MSU planetarium. Tuesday I'll be working a long day in Detroit. Wednesday night we have our last swim class of this session. Friday night we'll go to Lansing for Silver Bells in the City if the weather is nice. And Saturday we'll be in Lansing again for a Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. We'll just see how it all plays out with the Spain thing first, though.

Last week was fairly productive. I harvested all of the remaining brussels sprouts, potatoes, and celery and about half of the carrots from the garden; canned another batch of applesauce; dehydrated a bunch of apple chips; made some more pumpkin muffins; made the raw macaroons; blanched and froze a huge amount of carrots; froze all of the remaining celery that we harvested from the garden; cleaned out and organized two of our freezers; and got half of my house cleaned. We'll see how this week turns out, but I'm hoping to get through freezing lots more carrots; doing a little more baking; cleaning out and organizing the last freezer; cleaning the other half of the house; and maybe actually making a dent on our master bedroom (didn't touch it last week). We'll see how I do.

Here's the plan for now. After cleaning out and organizing the pantry three weeks ago and then two of the freezers last week, I'm trying to use up some things before they go bad. This will dictate our meals for a couple of weeks, I think.

Sunday - hot dogs; mac and cheese; roasted brussels sprouts; canned pineapple

Meatless Monday - baked potato soup from the freezer; roasted brussels sprouts; leftover canned pineapple

Tuesday - eating at my parents' since my mom is watching Carson

Wednesday - portable... PB&J sandwiches; apple chips; raisins; sliced co-jack cheese

Thursday - spinach mushroom lasagna from the freezer; steamed green beans; canned peaches

Friday - eating out in Lansing before Silver Bells in the City

Saturday - Thanksgiving dinner with friends... I'm making apple butter pumpkin pies; jello salad; and oreo truffles

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Raw Macaroons

Last night, Carson and I made some raw chocolate macaroons. My friend, Lina, had brought these in to work a while back and I thought they were so yummy, so I asked her for the recipe. The recipe comes from the book Raw Food, Real World. Lina let me borrow her cookbook and I copied down several recipes that I hope to try. These cookies are super easy to throw together and then the dehydrator does all the work while you sleep. We woke up to a house smelling like cocoa. :) These really taste great, too. They're very rich. Carson loves them... he kept sneaking tastes of the batter last night while we were making them and I let him have a bite of one as a treat after he ate his eggs and toast this morning. He immediately wanted more, but we'll have to wait till later in the day to indulge again.

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

3 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes (organic)
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder (organic, free trade certified)
1 cup pure maple syrup (local, organic)
1/3 cup coconut butter (extra virgin, organic)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (organic)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well. You can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

Using a small cookie scoop, your hands, or a big tablespoon, spoon rounds of the dough onto dehydrator screens. If you are using your hands, you may want to chill the dough a bit first.

Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 12-24 hours, or until crisp on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside.

For blonde macaroons, replace the cocoa powder with an equal amount of almond flour.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Salsa Meatloaf

I decided to try a new meatloaf recipe that I found on AllRecipes a while back and have been wanting to try out. A recipe for salsa meatloaf. So, I made it tonight to supplement our leftovers for dinner (since we'd eaten some for lunch and didn't have quite enough) and to have for a few lunches for me during the week. This was so good! Super moist - probably the most-so meatloaf I've ever had. The flavor was awesome - we all loved it! It was super easy, too! Definitely a keeper!

Salsa Meatloaf

1 pound ground beef sirloin
1/2 cup salsa (I used my home-canned zucchini salsa)
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (I used half cheddar, half swiss)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves
dried parsley, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (the recipe in the link says 350, but I did 375 based on the comments and it turned out perfectly). In a large bowl, mix the ground sirloin, salsa, bread crumbs, cheese, egg, and garlic. Season with parsley, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a 5x9 inch loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

Crockpot Lamb Chops

We had my in-laws over for dinner last night. Kevin's brother had planned to come over to help Kevin work on some of the north fence - fixing some problems so that Jet doesn't get out anymore... I had some very scary nights last week with Jet getting out and disappearing for 10-45 minutes at a time... thankfully he wasn't hit in the busy road we live on! Since we found out Friday that Kevin would be gone for a while now, I figured it'd be a good opportunity to have his parents over to eat with us after the boys were done working on the fence. So I just threw some lamb (rib) chops and potatoes into the crockpot and let it cook all day. They turned out sooooo good! Super tender, falling off the bone, and such great flavor. Every time we eat any of our natural, grass-fed lamb, we think how much better it is than any other lamb we've bought at the grocery store. I missed out on ordering another lamb this fall, so we'll have to wait till next year to replenish our stock of lamb in the freezer... and the stock is dwindling... we just have a few packages left that will need to be used up soon. Anyway, this was the first time my in-laws had knowlingly eaten lamb - my mother-in-law loved it, but I think my father-in-law may have raided the refrigerator when he got home. :) Lamb has a unique flavor and you either love it or hate it. Kevin, Carson, Danny, and I all loved it, too. This really isn't a recipe, but here's what I did.

Crockpot Lamb Chops with Potatoes

lamb chops
1 cup water

Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the crock. I used some red and yellow potatoes from our garden, didn't peel them and just cut them in half. Pour the water over the potatoes. Season your chops with whatever seasoning you prefer - I used a grill seasoning. Mid-eastern seasonings would be awesome, and I almost used them, but figured I'd play it safer with the in-laws coming over and knowing they don't really eat mid-eastern food. Layer your chops over top of the potatoes. Cover and cook on low all day. Mine cooked on low for about 9 1/2 hours and it was awesome!

Meal plans and the week ahead

A new week... and another wrench thrown into the mix by Kevin's employer. We were supposed to be taking off on Friday morning for a mini-vacation/long weekend, but nope that's canceled. And instead of heading to Virginia this week to work... Kevin was told on Friday that he leaves Monday for Spain and won't be home until Thanksgiving. It feels like this is never-ending. Just when we're getting used to the way things are, Kevin's boss calls with another last-minute, high priority assignment. Hopefully it won't happen again for awhile now, though. Keep your fingers crossed. :)

We'll be playing a lot of things by ear this week. I'm off for Veteran's Day on Wednesday - which means we can actually eat a half-way normal dinner before swim class this week! :) I'm planning to take Carson up to the Veteran's memorial in Swartz Creek to find his Great Grandpa M's brick and we may go out to visit Great Grandpa, Aunt Risa, and Uncle Barry at the National Veteran's cemetery with Great Grandma Jackie, too. Friday is my Plan A day and we'll be going to tumbling. That's about all I know so far. I think we'll go visit Apple and Poppy on Friday afternoon and maybe we'll hang out with one of my cousins Friday night again. We'll see how it goes.

Today we'll be trying to finish up all of the fall/before-winter chores since it will very likely snow before Kevin gets home. We'll be sweeping up the last of the leaves in the yard, cleaning the gutters, bringing in the outdoor furniture and grill, digging the rest of the carrots, and hopefully tilling the garden. For the rest of the week... I need to work on apples again at some point. We were thinking we'd have a birthday party today, but its been postponed and will possibly be next weekend... if it is, I'll make Oreo truffles next Saturday for the party. I have some fun Thanksgiving crafts to try out with Carson a couple different nights this week. I need to go through the freezers and make an inventory of what we have in there - I know there is some really old stuff that needs to be used or tossed soon. I also want to spend a little more time in our master bedroom, getting it cleaned. That should keep me plenty busy this week, on top of the normal weekly chores.

Sunday - leftover lamb chops, potatoes, and broccoli from Saturday; home-canned pearsauce

Meatless Monday - cheese tortellini with home-canned tomato sauce; steamed broccoli; fresh pineapple and mangoes

Tuesday - oven fried chicken; zucchini fries; roasted buttercup squash

Wednesday - Veteran's Day - don't forget to do something to honor our Vets today! ... kraut bierock; leftover roasted buttercup squash; fresh pineapple and mangoes

Thursday - crockpot pork chops, apples, and sweet potatoes

Friday - TBD... just depends what our plans end up being, possibly out to eat. If we're home, we'll eat leftovers from Thursday.

Saturday - TBD... we need to figure out our plans first. If we're home, I think Carson and I will make homemade pizza.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

I didn't make it to the grocery store on Monday like I'd hoped, so we couldn't have the planned meal since I had no eggs. So I looked in the pantry (which I had just cleaned out and organized on Sunday night) and what is staring me in the face... a can of organic pumpkin. I have also been cleaning out old recipes I've saved from magazines and remembered seeing one for a pumpkin penne. So I went looking for it and found it - its from an old issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray... I'm not sure what month/year because it doesn't print on the bottom of the pages and I didn't write it down. I also found it online. This was super fast and easy to make. I did it in two pans to save on some time, but you'll see below that the recipe actually recommends doing it in one pan - so super easy clean up if you do it that way. I only made a half-recipe, but I've posted the full recipe, which is supposed to be 4 servings... that is one thing about Rachael Ray that really bothers me... her servings are enormous!! There's no way I (or any other normal person) could eat the size serving she suggests. But anyway, back to the recipe. This was good. I didn't love it, but I liked it. Carson gobbled it down and kept calling it "aroni and cheese"... and I let him think that's what it was so he'd eat it well. :)

Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.

In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Return the pasta to the pot along with the reserved pasta cooking water and toss. Stir in the parmesan; season with salt and pepper.

Top the pasta with the parsley and more parmesan.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Crockpot Italian Wedding Soup

Yesterday, I made italian wedding soup in the crockpot using a recipe from RecipeZaar. I've made italian wedding soup several times in the past, but its been quite a while. And I'd never used the crockpot. We love italian wedding soup and this recipe was awesome! Carson loved it - he scarfed his serving down and wanted more! The recipe below calls for meatballs - I made my own, which takes a little longer, but they're way better than the ones you buy, in my opinion. I just thawed a pound of ground beef, added some chopped onion, and garlic powder. Then I formed mini meatballs and baked them for about 7 minutes. I also used cooked/shredded turkey since that's what I came across first in the freezer - it worked out well. Its definitely easier to let the crockpot do all the work than to make this on the stovetop like I have in the past... this will be the way I do it from now on, for sure! This recipe makes quite a bit. We had my parents and sister over for dinner and we still had enough leftover for another dinner for the three of us (which I froze). I forgot to take a picture.

Crockpot Italian Wedding Soup

16 1/2 ounces meatballs (I made my own)
6 cups chicken broth (I used 4 cups home-canned stock and 2 cups water with organic BTB)
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped (I used turkey since that's what I found in the freezer first)
1/2 cup carrot, diced (from the garden and I added about a cup)
1/2 cup celery, diced (from the garden and I added about a cup)
1/4 (8 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (I used about 1/2 pound fresh)
garlic salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/4 cup romano cheese (I used parm-reggiano)
1/4 cup acini di pepe pasta

Pop the meatballs in the microwave for 1 minute on defrost so you can quarter them. (or make your own!) Combine rest of ingredients except pasta in crock pot and cook all day on low. Add the pasta during the last hour of cooking. This freezes well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Arabic Baked Chicken with Potatoes

This recipe comes from my BFF Jaime's Aunt Pati... and its absolutely delicious!! I made this last Sunday for dinner - it was the perfect meal! It filled the house with awesome smells from the arabic spices and wow did it taste good!! We all loved it. Carson ate his entire first serving and wanted more potatoes and chicken! Definitely a keeper and it'll be a regular thing in our house, for sure! Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Aunt Pati!!! :)

I used one of my organic, free-range whole chickens. I just thawed it and butchered it up. And I used a mixture of yellow and red potatoes from our garden. The arabic spices can be found at your local arabic store.

Arabic Baked Chicken with Potatoes

1 pkg Pick-O-Chicks chicken or whole chicken cut up
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spices
1 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 small onion cut in rings
1 1/2 - 2 pounds baking potatoes washed (no need to peel)

Preheat oven to 400F Wash chicken and place in large bowl. Add spices, sumac, salt, pepper, garlic. Let stand covered for 3 or more hours, refrigerated. Meanwhile, wash potatoes and slice. You can slice them like french fries or slice thin like for potato chips (I sliced mine thin). In a shallow baking dish, at least 13X9 (may need a larger pan - I used my huge cast iron lasagna pan) lightly grease the bottom with a slight amount of olive oil. Place onion rings in pan, then place potato slices. Lightly salt the potato layer. Place marinated chicken on top of potatoes and place on lower rack of oven for approximately 1 hour. Turn chicken about half way through cooking time.

Meal plans and the week ahead

Another week already... and the start of November! Time is going by quickly. This weekend seemed way too short. But such is life, I guess. We've got another busy week ahead. Monday night, I think we'll go visit my grandma after we eat. Tuesday I'll be in Detroit all day for meetings and Thursday I'll be in Windsor all day. Wednesday is swim class and Friday we start tumbling (they canceled the class we were signed up for last week). I'm not sure what else we'll do on Friday yet, we'll see what the weather is like first. Saturday we'll be meeting up with our friends Lina, Sean, and Vayla at the Flint Children's Museum in the afternoon morning and then going out to eat for lunch at an awesome local Lebanese restaurant. Can't wait!!

I'll be working on more applesauce this week. I'm almost completely through a bushel of apples already and have to pick up another bushel on Tuesday to get going on. I made an apple crisp yesterday and want to do some more baking with apples since I haven't done much yet. I still want to make some apple muffins - hopefully Carson and I can do that one night this week, or else on Friday morning. I also want to make some Oreo truffles on Saturday morning for a family party next Sunday. We'll be doing some more fun crafts a couple nights this week, too. I also want to start tackling our master bedroom. Its just a catch-all spot for things and it is a wreck right now. I want to get it cleaned up and organized again, so I think I will start this week... though I doubt I'll finish it this week... if you saw it, you'd understand. :)

As far as meals go... still keeping it simple and sticking to what Carson loves...

Sunday - italian wedding soup in the crockpot; homemade beer bread

Meatless Monday - herbed baked eggs; roasted cauliflower;; creamy pumpkin penne pasta; beer bread with homemade raspberry jam

Tuesday - leftover goulash; homemade beer bread; apple slices

Wednesday - portable... PB&J sandwiches; cheese; apple slices

Thursday - goat cheese, corn, black bean quesadillas; home-canned pearsauce

Friday - mustard sauced pork chops and potatoes in the crockpot; roasted cauliflower; home-canned pearsauce

Saturday - dinner lunch at Badawest!! dinner... lamb chops in the crockpot; brown rice; steamed green beans