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:

November Menu Plan

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

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

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!

Provencal Beef Stew...

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

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

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

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

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'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 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

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

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 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 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

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

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 :)