Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gonna try and post this update and two more to get caught up on NFA. So, here goes:

My friend Karen is cool. She has three daughters. Two are in high school and one is in middle school. You could pray for Karen. ;) The reason I mention her is that every year, she makes an April Fools Meal. This year she made a pizza cake in a Bundt pan and topped it with sliced mozzarella cheese to look like frosting on the cake. She makes something fun like this every year. 

When I was doing my menu for NFA, I thought of a pin I saw on Pinterest that would be perfect to do for my own April Fools Meal. It was Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting! How fun, right?!? Well, I ended up not having any thawed ground beef on Sunday so I switched things up and made it Monday. April Fools! 

Here's a little backstory:

The first and last time I made meatloaf before this was an epic fail. You can ask Josh and Nakita. It was not great. It was WAAAAAAAAAYYYYY too salty, and you know it MUST have been salty for me to say that. It was just not good. So when I told Josh I was making meatloaf, he was like, "Meeeeehhhhhhhhh".

But these were really good! I broke the cardinal rule of NFA and changed up the recipe a little. All I did was use bbq sauce instead of ketchup. It's just my personal belief that BBQ trumps ketchup every time. Anyway, these were fun and cute and the boys liked them a lot. Jax is still offended that they weren't actually cupcakes, but he'll get over it one day, with therapy and prayer, I suppose.

I think it was the bacon that put these over the top. I would absolutely make these again!
Oh! Also, I loved that they cooked a lot faster than a traditional meatloaf. And that veggies were hidden in them. I suppose you could toss in any veggie you want. Heh heh heh!

Aren't these the cutest things you ever saw?

Next up: Champagne Chicken

New Food April 2012

I do realize that it is a full week into April. I have an excuse for not blogging though, it's been a busy week. We started off NFA '12 with a bang. And by bang, I mean I waited too long to start cooking what I had scheduled and had to switch up the whole calendar to make something different. And by switch up the whole calendar, I mean trade Sunday and Monday's meals. I'm sleepy and feeling pretty dramatic.

So we started off with Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken.

I liked it. The boys were ambivalent. They ate it, but it wasn't a hit. I didn't know that you could make a batter with cornstarch and eggs, so that was a bonus. My feelings about this recipe are mixed. I feel like a recipe that's supposed to be "easy baked chicken" shouldn't require a quick pan fry too. I mean, I picked it because I thought it was a one step kinda thing... But, besides that, I thought it was really good. I REALLY liked the sweet and sour sauce. It was easy to throw together and I assume that if you threw it in a pan and reduced it down, it'd make a great dipping sauce. I didn't make the fried rice from the blog, because I already make a mean fried rice. We had jasmine rice and some sautéed veggies to go along with the chicken.

All in all, I'd say this is a tentative keeper. Maybe not a "go-to", but not a toss out either. Anyhoo, next up is meat loaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting! Yummy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Beef To End All Beef!

As I said before, one of the things I'm loving about NFA is learning how to cook new cuts of meat.

On Saturday, I made Pioneer Woman's Beef with Snow Peas

It made me really happy. I got to work with flank steak for the first time. I'll tell you that the cutting board I used to slice the meat was way too small and made things very awkward for me. Also adding to the awkwardness: my moderate aversion to touching raw meat.
Anyway, I also got to use fresh ginger.
This dinner was SOOOO good! The only bad thing, and I use the term "bad" very loosely, was that it was pretty salty. Perhaps owing to the 1/2 cup of soy sauce. Also, I didn't mince the ginger small enough but that was my own fault.
Saturday was kind of a busy day for us. We went to town in the morning, (yes, all 5 of us!) and then the boys laid down for what-I-wished-was-a-quick-nap-but-was-really-just-a-rest before our neighbors' daughters' birthday party. Hubster 5000 (I'm trying out the whole "cute nicknames for people you blog about regularly" thing. This is only the first try, so don't hate me.) had Worship Practice that night too, so I came home from the party to whip this together. It went pretty fast, but wasn't done in time for Jo- I mean Hubster 5000 to eat. So he left. The manlets were still at the party. Yep! We DO have that great of neighbors! So when it was done, I ate some of it myself.
On a related side note, have you all noticed that the word "Bliss" has become the vogue thing to say these days? Now, I don't have any problem with popular catch phrases (see: WINNING!) but since I have seen and heard this word so much lately, I have realized that I hate it. Not like, the meaning of the word or anything. Just the sound of it. Bliss. Gross! It makes my ears want to throw up! It's like the word, "Gussy". As in, "Get gussied up for the dance, Homer!" Seriously. Those two words make me want to crawl into a hole.
With that being said, the only word that comes to mind to describe how I feel about beef with snow peas is...BLISS! I want to make it right now, just thinking about it!
Jackosaurus Rex and Noodle Boo (Hmmm, not feeling it, but I'll keep plowing along.), I had been previously informed, had snacked all afternoon at the party and would not be hungry when they came home. When they finally tromped through the door, party favors in hand, I asked them if they would like to have some dinner. They said no. I said, "Skiddeley Doo! More for me!", and didn't feed them. It's how I roll. Later that night, we went to Hubster 5000's (growing on me) practice with cake for his birthday. Thank you, Costco, for those delicious cakes! Maybe next year I'll make him a real cake. Not that the other ones weren't real, but... never mind.
All of that was to say that I am the only person in the family that actually ate this New Food. But since my word is law around here (75-90% of the time), it's going on the keeper list.

Next up: a foray into the sea with Crispy Bourbon Glazed Salmon.

Chili for Six

This picture was from Cool & Crunchy Chicken Taco Night, but I love it and want to see it again.

Friday was my best friend Nakita's baby shower. It worked out that they came for dinner and afterwords, the girls and Emmett went a'showerin' and the boys stayed home to play Heroscape. There is absolutely no reason for me to give all that info, but I did and I don't want to use the backspace button right now.

Dinner was Microwave White Chicken Chili, again from Pampered Chef. I just got a Deep Covered Baker and I wanted to use it, hence the chili in the middle of spring.

This chili was alright. I only have this one picture of it, because I forgot to take any until after I had served everyone and the half empty baker just wasn't attractive anymore. It's sad 'cause you can't really even see the chili, just my cheese and avocado (henceforth and forevermore referred to as green butter) and cilantro.

It could be a Yumm Bowl for all you know...

The pro for this dish was that it was made in the microwave and was pretty fast. There aren't really any cons besides that it didn't blow my mind. All in all, it was a sturdy white chili. If I ever need to make a white chili for a contest, I may start with this one and tweak it till I love it. What does that even mean?

I see Beef with Snow Peas in our future...

Again With The Butter

Thursday was a great day. Thursday was the day we got to eat butter sandwiches. Not really, but kinda...

You won't be surprised to learn that this is a Pioneer Woman recipe. It's called The Marlboro Man Sandwich.

Pioneer Woman's picture is way prettier than mine. I'll tell you why.

She's a semi-professional.

She has a nicer camera than me.

She has photoshop.

Her husband didn't leave the heat way too high and burn off all the sauce and cook the onions way too long while she was feeding the baby since she can NEVER make dinner without that baby crying right at the most hands on point in the recipe.

This is a delectable sandwich! One of the things I love about NFA is that I'm learning how to prepare cuts of meat that I've never used before. For example; cube steak. I'll be honest and tell you that I'm a little afraid of any meat that's not chicken, ground beef, or pork loin chops. In recent years, I've branched out to include tri tip steaks and london broil, but even those make me a little wary sometimes. But now I have an almost no fail recipe that we all really like and it uses cube steak! Last week, I didn't know what cube steak was. And thus concludes my essay on why I love New Food April...

This meal started off with sauteeing onions in butter, then I cooked the meat in butter, then I added butter to the meat and juices to finish the sauce, then Josh toasted the rolls in a pan filled with melted butter. DUDE! We'll only be able to eat this once a quarter so we don't get enormous!!! We ate it with a side of mixed veggies. We did not, just this once, add butter. I feel like that would have been overkill.

Next time I make this, I'm gonna cook it with some sherry and add mushrooms and provolone cheese to it. Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!!!!

In 15 minutes: White Chili

Sun Dried Blah Blah Blah

Last year, when I came up with the awesomeness that is New Food April, I did not know some things. At the end of NFA, I did. One thing I learned is that Rachael Ray feeds teams of hungry school boys. She must, otherwise she would not consider a half pound of uncooked noodles to be one serving. There was so much leftover food last year, that I swore to try to remember to put in a few leftover days into NFA 2011. Well, I did it. I used my leftover days strategically this year, putting them on Home Group night, the day I leave for the Ladies' Retreat (YAY!!!!) and the day after Noah's Birthday. Incidentally, for Noah's birthday, we are having tacos. He asked for that and cupcake pie. I'm still working on how to make cupcake pie a reality. I think it could possibly change my financial status if it's good... When we asked him about presents, he said he wanted a dead fish... I'm gonna go with Hungry Hungry Hippos instead. Back to the point at hand. Wednesday was Home Group night. But, alas! There were NO leftovers! I blame this on the extra awesome food as well as the lack of Rachael Ray meals. It worked out though, because since we didn't eat the Risotto on Monday, I had all the ingredients on hand for Wednesday. I had plans to go to town late in the afternoon, and I knew I wouldn't make it home in time to make dinner, so I made it before I left. This was also a Pampered Chef recipe. Just now, I tried to link to it, but apparently it's not on the website. I don't know why anyone would ask you to take the casing off of a raw sausage when you could just buy bulk sausage and cook that. I really don't. There's that. I added an extra sausage and some asparagus I had that was about to go bad. When it was done, it was beautiful! I had to get to town, so I didn't take any pictures. I figured that I would just take a picture when I got home and we ate it. Then I was super late getting home and the boys ate before I got there. Then, when I got home to eat it, it wasn't pretty at all. It tasted good to me, the boys disliked it a LOT! I put up that video of Hungry Hungry Hippos to distract you from the fact that there are no pics... Coming up: The Butter Sammie

Ohhhhh Man!

So, last Monday, we were supposed to have Sun dried Tomato and Sausage Risotto. We did not have that. I don't know what we had. It was not a NFA approved meal. I think we were "away". I honestly don't know where though. So, we skip Monday...

On Tuesday, our besties, the Guth's came over. We had Cool and Crunchy Chicken Tacos from Pampered Chef. I'll let you in on a little secret. I've had this before!!! It was like, a whole summer ago, so it almost doesn't count, right? No one else in the family had, so I feel okay about it...

Someday, I will get to prepare and consume dinner without having to stop to console screaming boy... someday...

These tacos incorporate a few of my favorite things:

chicken: it's chicken, what's not to like?

tacos: one of my very favorite things ever!

mangos: my husband once wrote me a song about how much I like them.

(notice if you will, that in the last three sentences, I have used all three punctuation marks.)

cumin: quickly becoming a new go to spice for me.

jicama: not a favorite, but I believe it deserves an honorable mention.

I think 5 is a sufficient number of things.

These tacos were a big hit with the family!

There was the chicken mixture, which was grilled chicken (I got a bag of the already grilled strips at Costco, not a great idea in the long run because of the price, but it worked for me this time.), cumin, lime juice and mayo. Then there was the salsa! Mango, lime juice, jicama and cilantro! It was the crowning glory of these tacos! The recipe said to cut the mango and jicama into thin strips with a mandolin slicer (namely the Pampered Chef one, but I don't got that). Have you ever tried to cut a mango and a jicama into thin strips while a very sad and hungry baby is screaming at you? Needless to say, my strips were not very uniform. Next time, it'll all get chopped up small like salsa, 'cause that what it really is anyway.

I doubled the recipe, and it's a good thing I did! We ate all of it and I think we would have put away a tripled batch. They were really that good.

This New Food made it into permanent rotation!

Next: Sun Dried Tomato and Sausage Risotto