## Thursday, November 1, 2012

### November Menu Plan...

Alas, it's time for a remix month...I just can't even think about dealing with anything new right now.  I have too much to do, and I was too underwhelmed with half of my dishes from last month.  We're going with old favorites.  Here's the plan, and we'll get back to posting new recipes next month:

Tuna Noodle Casserole (6 servings, 321 calories each) + Crescent Roll (100 calories each) = 421 calories per serving

Pasta Alfredo (6 servings, 405 calories each) + Crescent Roll (100 calories each) = 505 calories per serving

Taco Cups (12 servings, 203 calories each) + Cream Cheese Corn (12 servings, 120 calories each) = 323 calories per serving

Sausage Rolls (6 servings, 334 calories each) + Cheesy Cauliflower Pancakes (8 servings, 123 calories each) = 457 calories per serving

Meatloaf (8 servings, 250 calories each) + Mashed Potatoes (8 servings, 237 calories each) = 483 calories per serving

So, no more meal plans till next month, but I'm making bourbon balls and a feta dip for a work party, so I might post those recipes sometime prior to that. Have a good one everybody!

### Chunky Potato Crab Chowder...

I've had a thing for chowder lately.  I had a couple bowls of it in New England when we were there for vacation, and it was so delicious.  I thought this one sounded interesting and decided to give it a show.  You can find the original on myrecipes.  Here goes:

Chunky Potato Crab Chowder
6 servings - 265 calories each

Ingredients
2 T. butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 cloved garlic, minced
3 1/2 c. cubed red potatoes
3 T. flour
2 1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 - 14.5 oz. can corn
1 - 14 oz. can chicken broth
8 oz. lump crab meat, shell pieces removed
Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste

Directions
Saute onion and garlic in butter for 4 minutes.  Add potatoes and saute for 1 minute.  Add flour and saute for another minute.  Stir in milk, seasonings, corn, and broth.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce temperature, cover, and continue to simmer another 20 minutes until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.  Add crab and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Recipe Recap
Eh...this was alright.  I think I liked the concept better than the end result.  And it doesn't help much that I had delicious chowder in Maine just a week before this...that's what I really wanted, afterall.  The taste was fine, the texture was a little off, it was just okay.  I probably won't be making it again, at any rate.  Better luck next month, I suppose!

Ahhh, crockpot recipes...I actually set it and left the house this time...I never do that.  I hate having stuff on in my apartment when nobody's home...especially things that produce heat.  I may be a little over-cautious, but it makes me nervous.  To be fair, I wasn't really planning on being gone more than an hour or two...unfortunately, it turned into a $700, 6 hour, trip to Midas...ouch...I actually barely made it back in time to take it off before I passed the cooking time. The original can be found at myrecipes. Here's how I made it: Provencal Beef Stew 6 servings - 271 calories each Ingredients 2 tsp. olive oil 1 1/2 lb. boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes 2 T. flour 2 med. onions, cut into 8 wedges 8 cloves garlic, crushed 1/4 c. dry red wine 1 c. beef broth 2 T. tomato paste 1 - 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained 3 c. (1-inch) slices zucchini 2 c. (1-inch) slices carrots (I just used baby carrots) Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, to taste Directions Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and place in med-high skillet for 2-3 minutes, browning on all sides (not cooking through), then place in crock pot. Add onions and garlic to pan you just removed beef from and saute 4-5 minutes until tender. Add wine to loosen browned bits. Pour entire mixture into crock pot. Add all other ingredients to crock pot, and set on low for 8 hours. Recipe Recap Holy texture issue...I like zucchini, don't get me wrong...I just don't like it cooked for 8 hours in a crockpot...ech. Between that and the fact that the sauce was super thin, it was more like a weird soup than a stew. I could probably tweak it to make it again...thicken up the sauce, take out the zucchini, etc...but at that point, I think I'd rather just default back to my tried and true stew recipe. Won't be making this one again. ### Asparagus and Ham Casserole.... You can find the original for this recipe at myrecipe. The picture looked super, and the ingredients list sounded promising, so I decided to give it a go. Here's the recipe: Asparagus and Ham Casserole 6 servings - 250 calories each Ingredients 1/4 c. panko bread crumbs 3 3/4 c. extra broad, uncooked, egg noodles 2 1/2 c. sliced asparagus 1/4 c. flour 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning 1 c. milk 1 c. chicken broth 1 T. butter 3/4 c. diced onion 1 T. lemon juice 1 1/2 c. diced ham 1/4 c. chopped parsley 2 T. grated parmesan Salt & pepper, to taste Directions Cook pasta 7 minutes in boiling water, add asparagus for 1 minutes, then drain. Place flour and seasonings in a bowl, and slowly add milk and broth, whisking until combined. Saute onion in butter until tender, then add milk/flour mixture and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Combine sauce, pasta, and ham in a large casserole dish, top with bread crumbs and parmesan, and bake in 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Recipe Recap This was alright. It tasted fine, but I think egg noodles were the wrong choice for the pasta...it's not dense enough and doesn't hold up very well. Also, I think it wound up being way too much asparagus. I like asparagus, but dang...it was a lot of asparagus for being part of a pasta dish. It just wasn't particularly well balanced. It tasted good, but not great, and I don't think I'd bother making it again without some serious tweaking. ### Impossibly Easy Cheey Meatball Pie... Well, this one is a Betty Crocker special. I've had decent success with these "impossibly easy" recipes in the past, so I figured why the heck not. I liked that this one added shredded potatoes to the mix...a good concept. I would like to make note that this would definitely be better if you made your own meatballs, but 1) that sort of defeats the purpose of the "impossibly easy" recipe, and 2) I was insanely busy this month and just didn't have time to bother with homemade meatballs...I'm lucky I had time to have my cooking day at all! Anyway, here's the recipe: Impossibly Easy Cheesy Meatball Pie 6 servings - 370 calories each Ingredients 1 1/2 c. shredded hashbrown potatoes (refrigerated) 3/4 c. frozen sweet peas 12 frozen meatballs, thawed and cut in half 1 c. shredded cheddar 1/2 c. Bisquick 1 c. milk 2 eggs Salt & pepper to taste Directions Toss potatoes with salt and pepper, then layer in greased pie pan with peas, meatballs, and cheese. In a small bowl, mix Bisquick, milk, and eggs. Pour mixture into pie pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving. Recipe Recap This was pretty good. The potatoes didn't make quite the impace I was expecting, and as I had assumed, the meatballs would've been much better homemade. But...the easy to edible ratio was still decent. I'm not sure it'll be one I'm craving or anything, but not a bad option for a quick meal ...and highly do-able to improvise it with random leftovers in your fridge, which is always a nice option. ### Polenta Lasagna... Okay, so the last month has been insane...as is probably evident by the fact that I'm finally posting recipes the week before I'm cooking again. Vacation was awesome, I was back for a week and a half and then I went to Michigan for a few days, and then back for two weeks before the gathering I've been organizing for work. Aside from that, work's been a whole other level of insanity all on its own. Plus, I'm ATTEMPTING to have a life, so that has pretty much left me with no time ever. Soooo yeah...in regards to the recipes this month, I forgot to take a bunch of pictures while I was running around like a lunatic, so I apologize for missing photos in advance. Also, I'm just including the recipe recap with the actual recipe, since it's so heinously late anyway...seems silly to make an extra post about it. And now, on with the recipes...first up, polenta lasagna. I've never cooked with polenta before, but the idea sounded solid. The original can be found at myrecipes. My slightly tweaked version can be found below: Polenta Lasagna 6 servings - 335 calories each Ingredients 1 - 26 oz. jar pasta sauce 1 tsp. olive oil 1 c. diced onion 1/2 c. diced red pepper 1 c. hot sausage, cooked and crumbled 1 c. chopped mushrooms 1/2 c. diced zucchini 1 minced garlic cloves 1 - 16 oz. tube polenta, cut into 18 slices 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella Directions Saute onion and bell pepper until tender. Add mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, and sausage until mushrooms are tender. Spread a 1/2 c. pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x9 pan. Top with 9 slices of polenta. Top with half of the sauteed vegetables/sausage mixture and 1/4 c. cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes...uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving. Recipe Recap In a month that was somewhat lacking in success rates for new recipes, this one was actually really good. The polenta was a really nice touch...I really didn't miss the pasta/lasagna noodles at all. The original recipe called for turkey sausage or some such nonsense...I'm glad I went with the hot sausage though....I think it might've been a little bland without it. All\in all, it's a keeper, and I'll make it again at some point :) ## Wednesday, September 19, 2012 ### September Recipe (Pt. 2) Update... This was a real winner of a month as recipes go...I've sincerely enjoyed all of them so far :) Here's the synopsis of each for ya: Pork Sausage Apple Loaf Ummm...yum! This is delicious. I'm glad I used the spicy sausage...gave it a little kick. It was hearty and tasty and ooooooh, so much like fall. I'll definitely be making it again...and keeping the concept in mind for other combinations :) Turkey Pumpkin Casserole This was good. The pumpkin didn't really come across as much as I was expecting it to. I'm not sure I'd make it again...it didn't wow me. But it was definitely tasty and I'll happily eat the rest of what I have of it. Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie Again, I think, why the heck didn't I think of this? It was freaking delicious. I think the blend of the sweet potatoes and yellow potatoes was good...it wasn't quite as sweet as it would have been with just the sweet potatoes, and it was creamy, but not too liquid-y thanks to the yellow potatoes. It was a nice balance. Love it, and I'll be making it again for sure! Taco Beef Bake w/Cheddar Biscuit Topping My favorite of the Mexican casseroles so far, I think. This may or may not be because of the tasty biscuit topping...I do love pretty much all bread. It had a nice amount of spiciness...not too hot...and the corn added a nice little bite of sweet too. Baked Chicken Panzanella This was really good. It smells even better. Yum. As I said when I posted the recipe, I forgot to drain the tomatoes, so the croutons lost most crunch that I would've liked. Still...if I reheated with the lid off, it still got a little crunch to it. And to be honest, even if it had no crunch at all, it'd still be tasty. Not too heavy, but still filling. Aaaaand, that's all for the recipe update this month :) Back for cooking after vacation! ### October Menu Plan... Okay, this month is going by in the blink of an eye. One week from today I'm heading out for a spectacular Vermont vacation for 12 days. Then I'll only be back for a week and a half before I go out of state for another 4 days. Because of all this craziness and my work schedule thrown in, I'm planning way out in advance. I've got to have my grocery list all ready to go BEFORE I got on vacation so I can have groceries delivered the day I get back and cook later that week. Crazy! Anyway, I know I haven't done the recipe update from the last group of recipes yet, but I'll be getting to that shortly, I promise :) I cheated again and took recipes from sources that already had calories figured...primarily Cooking Light and Betty Crocker. I can't help it...I'm too busy this month...maybe November :) As usual, new recipes are marked with an asterisk. Here's what October is going to look like: Asparagus and Ham Casserole* (250 calories) + Twice Baked Potatoes (250 calories) = 500 calories per serving Polenta Lasagna* (335 calories) + Garlic Bread (253 calories) = 488 calories per serving Provencal Beef Stew* (271 calories) + Biscuit (170 calories) = 441 calories per serving Chunky Potato-Crab Chowder* (265 calories) + Crescent Roll (100 calories) = 365 calories per serving Impossibly Easy Cheesy Meatball Pie* (370 calories) + Potatoes ala Boulangere (117 calories) = 487 calories per serving Next up...recipe update! ## Tuesday, September 11, 2012 ### Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie... Betty Crocker Month continues! :) I've had a thing with sweet potatoes lately. I love ordering them at restaurants, but I just can't find the right way to utilize them at home. So I saw this recipe and thought it sounded like a perfect opportunity to combine them with a dish I already love...shepherd's pie (hey, I'm Irish...don't be so surprised). This one was a little more labor intensive than the previous two, although still not too bad. I used fresh thyme instead of dried...not really for any reason in particular...I'm not die hard about fresh herbs or anything. Honestly, it was like$1.00 cheaper to get the little bundle of fresh instead of the jar of dried, and since I pretty much NEVER use thyme, I decided I didn't want a jar that was never going to get used anyway cluttering up my cabinets. I also used ketchup instead of tomato paste...not intentionally...Peapod apparently decided to substitute the tomato paste that I ordered with a strawberry Yoplait yogurt (that's pretty close, right?), and I didn't feel like going out by the time I realized it. I used a little shy of the recommended amount, since ketchup runs on the sweet side. And last but not least, I didn't peel the Yukon gold potatoes (lazy!) to save some time, and I didn't whip the potatoes totally smooth...I kinda like it a little more rustic and chunky. Anyway, once again, you can find the original recipe at Betty Crocker. Here it is:

Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie
8 servings - 250 calories each

Ingredients
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz.) reduced sodium, low fat beef broth
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 T worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or a little more if you're using fresh)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 tsp. flour
4 1/2 tsp. water
1/2 c. frozen (thawed) spinach, squeezed to drain
3 c. cubed peeled Yukon gold potatoes
3 c. cubed peeled sweet potatoes
1/3 c. milk
2 T. margarine

Directions
In a medium skillet, cook beef, onion, carrots & garlic 5-7 minutes until beef is browned. Drain and return to skillet. Stir in broth, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, thyme, and 3/4 tsp. of salt. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix flour and water...stir into beef mixture. Cook 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. In a separate pot, add potatoes and enough water to cover them. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain. In a bowl, beat potatoes, milk, butter, and remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt until smooth. Place beef mixture in greased casserole dish. Top with potato mixture, and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until potatoes begin to brown.

I'm serving mine with a biscuit for a total of 420 calories per serving. Enjoy!

## Friday, September 7, 2012

### Pork Sausage Apple Loaf...

Yep, still feeling the fall thing.  I'm sort of obsessed with putting apples in savory dishes...I don't know why, but every time I see a recipe with that combo, I want to make it immediately.  I must've had some amazing dish like that at some point in my life that made a subconscious impression, but I don't remember it.  Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of rolling out dough (it doesn't fit with the "I'm lazy" image that I'm working on this month at all), but it looked so yummy, I decided it would be worth it.  I have to warn you, when you're putting the filling on the dough, it looks like WAY more than can possibly roll up in there...don't worry though, it all fits :)  And, one more time for the month, you can find the original recipe at Betty Crocker!  Thanks again, Betty, for all the help this month!
Here we go:

Pork Sausage Apple Loaf
8 servings - 390 calories each

Ingredients
2/3 c. water
3 c. Bisquick
20 oz. pork sausage (I used spicy breakfast pork sausage)
1 c. diced apple
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella
(The original also said, maple syrup, if desired...I'm not sure why exactly you'd desire it, but by all means, if you do, go right ahead!)

Directions
In a large bowl, mix bisquick and water...knead until smooth, cover, and set aside.  In a skillet, cook sausage over medium high until browned (4-5 minutes).  Add apple and onion, cook an additional 1-2 minutes, then drain.  Return mixture to skillet, then stir in cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Place dough on a flat surface and roll out to 10x14 rectangle.  Spoon sausage mixture onto center of dough and sprinkle with cheese.  Pat mixture out to about an inch away from the edges.  Brush edges with water.  Starting with the long side, roll dough over sausage mixture into a loaf.  Pinch edges to seal.  Put the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut 4 small slits in the top.  Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.  Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

I'm serving mine with Cream Cheese Corn for a total of 510 calories per serving.  I'll keep you updated on how it turns out later this month with the recap post!

### Turkey Pumpkin Casserole...

Can you tell I'm ready for fall by this recipe?  Fall is my favorite thing.  I like the colors, the smells, the temperature (oh, how I love the temperature!)...it's good stuff all around.  (Except the allergies...fall allergies are the WORST!).  So I saw this, and thought, hey...it's still irritatingly warm for mid-September...let's just stay inside and pretend we're further along on this fall business than we really are.  You can find the original at (surprise!) Betty Crocker!  I didn't add the celery it calls for...I do NOT do celery (major texture issue).  The lone exception to this rule is celery with peanut butter and raisins on it...don't ask me why that one's okay...I really don't know :)  lol.  Anyway, the recipe (as I made it) below:

Turkey Pumpkin Casserole
8 servings - 350 calories each

**I forgot to put vegetable oil in the picture**

Ingredients
Turkey Filling
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
3 c. chopped turkey (I used the Carving Board turkey from the deli area...hello, lazy!)
2 jars (12 oz.) turkey gravy
1 pkg (12 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables
1/4 c. canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. pepper
Biscuit Topping
2 1/4 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk
1/4 c. canned pumpkin (again, NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning

Directions
Cook onion in oil over medium high heat about 2 minutes.  Stir in remaining filling ingredients.  Sppon into 9x12 baking dish.  In a separate bowl, mix all biscuit topping ingredients.  Drop biscuit mixture on top of filling in spoonfuls.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until biscuits are nicely browned.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

I'm serving mine with Parmesan Hashbrown Cups (not pictured)* for a total of 451 calories per serving :)

### Taco Beef Bake With Cheddar Biscuit Topping...

So I was having a major blonde moment when I was making this dish and learned something very important.  I will share this tidbit of knowledge with you, in case you ever have a blonde moment yourself...perhaps you can save yourself some stress.  The thing I learned is this:  If you have a casserole dish that has a little line in it...a little line that looks like a hairline fracture perhaps, but it doesn't FEEL like a crack (let's be honest, it was only a brief passing thought and you barely checked, because you weren't paying much attention...a new Maroon 5 song was on darnit!)...DON'T USE THAT CASSEROLE DISH!  Argh.  So that little line made a perfect tiny fracture right across the bottom of the dish and proceeded to leak into my oven...lovely!  It didn't really even separate...just leaked right on through that tiny, barely visible crack.  Thankfully, pretty much all of the food was still good...just scooped around that little section (it would've probably all been fine, since there were no pieces, and it looked like everything matched up perfectly with no missing bits of glass, but seriously...I may have had a blonde moment, but I'm not crazy!  lol).  Thankfully I got back in from walking the dogs before the smoke alarm went off...I don't think my apartment building neighbors would have appreciated that AT ALL at midnight.  Crisis (mostly) averted after I put another pan underneath to catch the leak, and got the windows open and fans on.  So...remember...just because it doesn't FEEL like a crack doesn't mean it's not a crack!  lol.  Man, I'm having one of those days.  Anyway, on with the recipe...you can find the original at Betty Crocker.  Here it is:

Taco Beef Bake With Cheddar Biscuit Topping
6 servings - 460 calories each

Ingredients
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 c. salsa of your choice
2 c. frozen corn
2 c. Bisquick
1 c. shredded cheddar
2/3 c. milk

Directions
Brown beef over medium high until browned, stirring occasionally.  Drain and put back in skillet.  Stir in taco seasoning, salsa & corn, and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Pour mixture ungreased casserole dish.  In a separate bowl, mix bisquick, cheese & milk into a dough.  Drop in spoonfuls on top of the meat mixture.  Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  And that's it!

*It doesn't look like there's a crack all the way across the top end of the dish does it?  I assure you, there is.  You can barely see it (even in person), but it leaks like a sieve!*

No side dish this time, since the calories were already high enough, and the serving size was decent.  You could probably get 8 servings out of it and add a side dish if you wanted to, though.  I'll let you know how it turns out with the update later this month :)

### Baked Chicken Panzanella...

Guess who's a little lazy this month?  That's right...it's me!  Not only did I pick recipes that were on Betty Crocker because they had the calories listed already, but they also tend to be a lot less labor intensive than some of the more *ahem* "foodie" sites out there.  Whatever...I like a good 20 step recipe somtimes...when I have time...and preferably when I'm cooking for more than just myself.  But it's good to have a recipe on hand that takes literally 6 minutes to prepare and not much more to cook.  And this is the recipe for THAT :)  You can find the original at Betty Crocker.  Here we go!

Baked Chicken Panzanella
6 Servings - 290 calories each

Ingredients
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I bought the kind in a bag for salads...cuz I'm lazy this month!)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic, onion & oregano, drained (I may have forgotten to drain)
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1 pkg. (5 oz.) Italian seasoned croutons
1/4 c. Italian dressing
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 c. sliced fresh basil leaves (Peapod was out of stock, so I added some Italian seasoning instead)
Seasonings to taste

Directions
Put the chicken in the bottom of an ungreased 11x7 baking dish.  Layer tomatoes, seasonings, green onions, and croutons on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with Italian dressing.  Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Uncover, add parmesan cheese, and bake and additional 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil (if you have it!).  And that's it!  Couldn't be easier, right?

I'm serving mine with a piece of garlic bread for a total of 443 calories per serving.  I'm slightly less optimistic about the croutons staying crispy due to the fact that I forgot to drain the tomatoes, but I'm still feeling okay about it.  I think it'll be tasty either way.  I'll let you know when I update later in the month.  It smells delicious for sure :)

## Monday, September 3, 2012

### Mixtape Mayhem...

Yes, I still call them mixtapes even though they're CDs and/or playlists.  So sue me.  It's nostalgic, dammit!  :)  Reminds me of when I used to sit by the radio for half the night trying to tape my favorite song while it was on and being irritated when it got cut off by the next song or the obnoxious announcer talking over it.  But alas, those days are gone.  *sigh*  Onward with the days of ever-so-convenient music at the click of your mouse!  Oh iTunes, the time you could've saved me had you existed in my youth!  Anyway, now that I'm done ranting about the reason I was unable to bring the title of this post into the current decade (Possibly even century?  When did we get rid of cassette tapes again??), let's get to the reason for this post.

As I'm sure I've mentioned in some previous post, I'm a teensy bit addicted to music.  I swear if my satellite radio were to stop working at this point, I would probably have a meltdown on my way to work.  That said, I do still enjoy putting all my current favorites together and listening to them obsessively until there's new music on the radio again (It's amazing how long current hits stay current, isn't it?  There's still one running constantly at number two on the weekly countdown that I had on a mix I made 6 months ago, for pete's sake!  Where's the new stuff?!?).  Anyway, so when I get tired of what's playing (or when the songs I'm obsessed with aren't playing enough for my liking), it's off to iTunes to put togther a mix.  While initially irritated at Apple presuming to know what I like, I'm finally willing to admit that I love the Genius feature that tells me all the other songs I might like based on the songs I'm currently addicted to...I've found some really good stuff that way.  So for the last couple of years, I've been making a mix once a season or so, plus a very special Christmas mix every year (I get tired of the same old Christmas tunes...there's a lot of random other stuff out there to be found!).

Anyway, so tonight I had a full-on music marathon and downloaded everything for my newest driving mix as well as everything for this year's Christmas CD (I'm sorry...I work retail...Christmas comes early for my kind).  I'll spare you the details of the Christmas Mix (for now), but I'm terribly excited about my new driving mix and thought I would share.  Feel free to despise every song on it...I won't be offended or even remotely swayed by your opinion :)  lol.  Here goes:

Fall 2012 Driving Mix

1. Blow Me (One Last Kiss) - Pink
2. Kiss You Inside Out - Hedley
3. One More Night - Maroon 5
4. Soldier - Gavin DeGraw
5. Too Close - Alex Clare
6. It's Time - Imagine Dragons
7. Some Nights - Fun.
8. Whistle - Flo Rida
9. Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
10. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
11. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together - Taylor Swift
12. Home - Phillip Phillips
13. Daughter - Loudon Wainwright III
14. Distance (feat. Jason Mraz) - Christina Perri
15. Stay Awhile - Ryan Star
16. Hall of Fame - The Script

Enjoy :)  Oh, and if have your own "genius feature" and think of some awesome song you think I should know about, by all means, leave me a comment!

## Sunday, August 26, 2012

### September Menu Plan - Part 2

Well, after making meals with less servings recently and starting earlier and earlier each month, I'm finally a whole month off...hence, two September plans.  This one should legit last till October though, so that's good :)  It might even last a little longer than that since I'm going to be gone for about a week and a half at the end of September to go to Vermont for vacation (woot!).  Anyway, so I totally cheated this time because I was much too lazy to figure out calories for everything, but I wanted to make new stuff...soooooo...I got all the recipes of the Betty Crocker site so the calories were all calculated for me.  I'm doing all new meals this month, so fingers crossed I don't regret that decision.  lol :)  Here's the plan:

Pork Sausage Apple Loaf* (8 servings - 390 calories) + Parmesan Hashbrown Cups (101 calories) = 491 calories
Turkey Pumpkin Casserole* (8 servings - 350 calories) + Cream Cheese Corn (120 calories) = 470 calories
Sweet Potato Topped Shepherds Pie* (8 servings – 250 calories) + Biscuit (170 calories) = 420 calories
Taco Beef Bake w/Cheddar Biscuit Topping* (6 servings – 460 calories) + NO SIDE = 460 calories
Baked Chicken Panzanella* (6 servings – 290 calories) + Garlic Bread (153 calories) = 443 calories

Cooking in a week or so, hopefully.  Later!

### September Recipe Update

Hey, I'm actually posting a recipe update BEFORE I'm cooking again...I'm doing good this month!  I figured since I only had one recipe to write an update for, I didn't have much of an excuse for continuing to procrastinate.  So here we go:

Stovetop Cheesy Chicken and Rice
All I have to say about this is "eh..."  It was okay, I guess...nothing special though, sort of bland, and majorly lacking in the texture department.  I don't anticipate having any need/reason to be making it again, so that's that!  Easiest update ever :)

Now I'm off to work on writing Part 2 of the September Menu Plan.  My making smaller amounts earlier in the month has finally caught up with me, so I'm a whole month off now.  Soooo...back to work!

## Thursday, August 9, 2012

### Cheesy Chicken and Rice...

Okay, this recipe was originally Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice, until I realized I had a brain fart and scheduled myself two slow cooker recipes this month, when I only have one slow cooker.  Sooooo...it is now Stovetop Cheesy Chicken and Rice.  Although, if I make it again, I'll probably do the slow cooker thing, the info for which can be found on the original recipe at Christy Jordan's Southern Plate (it's pretty much the same, except the chicken, onions, and cream of chicken soup go in the slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours).  That said, here's the recipe as I made it today:

Cheesy Chicken and Rice
6 servings - 375 calories each

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I actually used a package of tenderloins instead)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 large onion, diced
1 package Zatarains Yellow Rice Mix
2 T margarine
2 1/2 c. water
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 can corn, drained

Directions
Put the chicken, cream of chicken soup, and diced onion in a pot on the stovetop and set on low/med. low.  Make sure to watch it!  I burned mine a bit because I was multi-tasking.  While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Zatarains according to package directions with water and margarine.  When chicken mixture and rice are cooked, mix together and add corn and cheese.  Heat until the cheese is melted and everything is combined.  And you're all set :)

### September Menu Plan...

Well with how busy I am this month, it's going to be mostly a remix month (sorry!).  It just goes faster to make stuff you already know how to make than it does to make new things where you're looking back at the directions every few minutes (yeah, my short-term memory isn't always fantastic).  I've still got one newbie planned for you though (marked with an asterisk as usual).  Everything I already made is linked to when I originally posted it  :)  As always, calories are calculated on CalorieKing.com.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken & Rice* (375 calories) + Crescent Rolls (100 calories) – 6 servings @ 475 each
3 Envelope Roast Beef (261 calories) + Risotto w/Peas &Parmesan (165 calories) – 6 servings @ 426 each
Chicken & Broccoli Pie (306 calories) + Crescent Rolls (100 calories) – 4 servings @ 406 each
Lasagna (435 calories) – 8 servings @ 435 each
Sausage Rolls (334 calories) + Cheesy Cauliflower Pancakes (123 calories) – 6 servings @ 457 each

That's all for now...new recipe later :)

### August Recipe Update...

Alrighty, running behind again this month and doing my recipe update on the same day as posting my new menu plan AND cooking...woot!  Things have been crazy lately...I almost skipped the cooking thing this month entirely, because there just wasn't a really convenient time to do it, and I've got so many things to do.  But then, I remembered, if I do that I'll just eat like crap all month getting takeout and whatnot, and drop way too much money in the process, so cooking wins out again!

Anyway, all that said, here's how last month's stuff turned out:

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes -
Despite the fact that these didn't crisp up like the were supposed to, and that I had trouble smashing them like they were supposed to be, they did turn out rather tasty.  The flavor was good with a good level of seasoning.  The texture wound up being really soft and smooth, and like maybe they could almost become mashed potatoes if you added a little extra effort, so I might just consider doing that next time instead.  Either way, worth making again.

Beef Enchilada Pie -
Delicious!  I'll definitely be making this again.  It had all the flavor of the Santa Fe Enchilada Bake I made a couple of months ago, without the texture issue of the corn tortillas.  It had a good amount of heat with the green chiles and reheated well.  Will be making this again too :)

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Mac & Cheese -
Yum!  All in all, this was a really good month for new recipes.  This one was good as well.  The sweetness of the onions really added a nice extra layer of flavor.  Hearty and reheated well.  This will make it into another rotation at some point, for sure.

Crockpot Cube Steak -
As I said in the original post, I misread the instructions for the sauce a bit, so I would definitely make it a point to use a gravy mix next time to thicken it up.  The taste was good, although I'd probably scale back the time on the crockpot by a bit...it seemed a tiny bit overcooked.  I'll give it another go in the future and tweak it a little bit for a better turnout.

Lazy Sunday Casserole -
This was awesome.  I'm really glad I used the hot italian sausage, because it added some heat that went well with some of the vegetables that added sweetness to balance it all out.  Very hearty...probably wouldn't have needed a side with it afterall.  I'll be making this again as well :)

Stay tuned for the menu plan for next month shortly!

## Sunday, July 15, 2012

### Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes...

I have no idea what the "crash" part of this recipe is supposed to imply.  It was on the original recipe at dlyn, so I'm sticking with it.  I wound up adjusting the spices a little bit, based on what I had.  I'm not sure I'd make these again...they were kind of a pain in my butt.  I tried one, and they tasted good, but they didn't crisp up like they were supposed to either, which was sort of irritating.  They were also next to impossible to smash as recommended...my bowl just kept sliding around everywhere and not getting enough traction to smash.  It's not imperative that they BE smashed or anything, but it was still annoying.  I don't know.  We'll see how I like them over the course of the month to see if they have staying power or not.  Either way, here's the recipe:

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes
8 servings - 75 calories each

(Yes, I forgot to put the potatoes in the ingredient picture...whoops!)

Ingredients
2-3 sweet potatoes
1 1/2 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Olive oil

Blend together spice mix first and set aside.  Peel potatoes and cut into rounds about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Place on baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast at 375 degrees until just tender enough to smash (you'll have to check...it depends on how thick you cut them).  Smash potatoes (if desired and possible).  Brush potatoes with a small amount of olive oil and top with half of seasoning mixture.  Flip and repeat process with other half of spice mixture.  Return to oven for 15 minutes.  Flip and return for an additional 10-15 minutes until caramelizing and starting to crisp (theoretically).

I'm serving mine with my Tuna Bouchons for a total of 359 calories for each serving.  Is it weird that I'm totally annoyed that visually, there's way too much round food in each little serving container?  Yeah, probably.  Oh well :)

### Crockpot Cube Steak & Gravy...

I haven't used my crockpot in a few months, and I figured it was about time again.  The whole fix it and forget it thing isn't all too conducive to my impatient nature, but alas...I keep hearing patience is a virtue, so I'm working on it...one crockpot recipe at a time.  :)  I'll warn you in advance that this totally doesn't look pretty in the pictures (and even worse in the last couple pics because I took them on my phone instead of my camera...sorry!), but it smells delicious, and based on the ingredients and Pinterest reviews should taste delicious.  I'll let you know for sure when I do updates later in the month though.  It's hard to find ways to prepare meat in something that ISN'T a casserole where it still reheats without getting dry, so I thought this would be a good option.  The original recipe is found at Cooks.com.  One thing to note:  I sort of combined it with another recipe I found that called for onion soup mix instead of onion gravy mix, because I didn't have any onion gravy mix on hand...the gravy turned out pretty thin though, obviously.  Next time I'll either track down the gravy mix or add a little flour.  Either way, I think it's going to taste just fine.  Here's the recipe:

Crockpot Cube Steak & Gravy
6 servings - 263 calories each

(Forgot to put flour in the ingredient picture...sorry!)

Ingredients
2 to 2 1/2 lb. cube steak
1 pkg. onion soup/dip mix  (next time, will use onion gravy mix or add a little flour to thicken)
2 c. water
Flour
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Cut steaks into portions, if necessary.  Salt and pepper steaks, and then dredge in flour.  Cook in a skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray just until browned.  Place in crockpot.  Cover with water, flour, and onion soup mix.  Stir gently to mix everything together.  Cover and set crockpot to low for 6-8 hours.

I'm serving mine with Cream Cheese Corn for a total of 383 calories per serving.

### Lazy Sunday Casserole...

So this one wasn't quite as lazy as I was hoping, based on the title.  It wasn't particularly labor-intensive or anything, but having an important step in the middle of baking instead of throwing it in and forgetting about it till it's done sort of de-lazy's it for me.  lol :)  I'm crazy, I know.  Anyway, the original for this one is found on Kayotic Kitchen.  I know, I'm racking up the recipes from that site, it seems, but I can't help it...they're all over Pinterest, and they all look delicious!  My only real concern about this is that reheating it might end up with way too much liquid from all the veggies.  I'm sure it'll taste fine either way, but I'm not a fan of it getting all soup-y on me.  We'll see...and I'll let ya know when I do the update later this month.  P.S.  I know I've heard before that fennel smells like licorice when you cut into it, but holy cow...the smell just smacks you in the face!  Don't worry though...it doesn't smells nearly so licorice-like once it starts cooking.  That said, let's get going:

Lazy Sunday Casserole
6 servings - 195 calories

Ingredients
4 sausages (I used Hot Italian Sausages)
1 lb. small red potatoes (quartered)
1/2 lb. carrots (I cheated and used the baby carrots so I didn't have to chop them)
1 bell pepper, chopped (the original called for 1/2, but hey...I didn't have anything to use the rest for)
1 lg. onion, cut into wedges
1 lg. fennel bulb, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. oil
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 c. chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
4 T. balsamic vinegar

Directions
Put potatoes, carrots, pepper, onion, and fennel bulb into large casserole dish.  In a separate dish, mix together garlic, oil, Italian seasoning, and chicken broth.  Pour mixture over vegetables.  Cover with tin foil and bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.  In the meantime, brown the sausages (no need to cook completely...we're just trying to get a nice color on them).  Cut browned sausages into thirds.  After the first 45 minutes in the oven, add sausages and pour balsamic over top of everything.  Put back into the oven for 15 minutes, uncovered.  Remove and toss everything to coat with the liquid at the bottom of the dish, and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

I'm serving mine with a biscuit (although given the final portion size, you probably wouldn't have to) for a total of 365 calories per serving.