Friday, February 19, 2016

Food for Thought

Yesterday was all about high winds.  Gusts of 45 mph were recorded in our area.  One of the mountain passes recorded a 148 mph "gust" before the gauge stopped transmitting data.  Presumably because said gauge had been ripped from the mountain top.  We also had record high temps of 73 degrees, which would have been enjoyable had it not been for the winds.  To cap off the day, we had rain.  It was lovely.  I opened the door to let the dog out and that whiff of fresh rain blew in.  I couldn't get enough in my lungs.  I should have gone and sat on the porch, but it would have been like sitting on the deck of a fishing boat in the Bering Sea during a Gale.  The moment would have been lost.

It was a pleasant, semi-productive week, which I hope will continue into the weekend.  I have some honey-do things, if he's available, I'd like to get scratched off my list.  I need to check in with Girlie to make sure she's completed her paperwork for next year.  I've downloaded a gardening app, and it's telling me I need to get peppers planted, but first I need to get the seed - so that's on the list.  I'd like to go through another crate from the storage room and get back into the swing of clearing it out.  And I'm hosting a meatless dinner tonight so the family can visit with an Aunt who's in town.

So yeah, a few things I'd like to do.  It's the kind of weekend that needs easy meals in both prep and clean-up.  If you're looking for the same, because you'd like your weekend (or upcoming week) to be deliciously productive, check out the following tried recipes.

During my self-professed need for pasta and cheese I had this Four-Cheese Chicken Pasta Bake on the menu.  It was super simple.  The friend I passed the recipe on to only complained about the amount of cheese that needed shredding.  It was really creamy, and decent flavor.  You definitely need a flavored chicken - grilled or well seasoned; I used rotisserie.  It could also use something else.  The friend and I discussed some salt and pepper, broccoli, roasted peppers or grape tomatoes. 

I needed something sweet one Saturday morning and the run to Duncan Donuts was too far, so I whipped up these Cinnamon Scones.  They were good.  Scones are typically dry - not as in bad dry, but they are just a drier treat.  Here, at altitude, with no-humidity to speak of they tend to be even more so and I have to add a bit more liquid to the recipes.  This time I added a little more than usual and my 17 y.o. liked that.  I did too, but the baking time will increase.

I found I didn't move this Pumpkin Spice Whiskey Cocktail recipe when mixed up the simple sugar.  I found it during the fall, and made it over the holidays.  I didn't end up making the drink, instead I used it in my coffee, but I'm sure it would be great in whiskey.  Like most simple sugars, stored in the 'fridge, it has a long shelf life.

Meatless is the name of the game during Lent, but I'm trying to do a meatless meal the rest of the year, too.  This Cheesy Gnocchi Skillet fit the bill for both.  We had never had Gnocchi (though I have several recipes pinned) so I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was awesome and got raves from hubby and the boys.  I opted to use the mini gnocchi.  They were soft, really soft, and smooth - I think I was expecting sort of grainy and thick.  This was light, but filling.  I used my Quick Marinara sauce and used a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes instead of my usual two cans of sauce.  I'll be bringing up the other gnocchi recipes in the weeks to come.

I made these Millionaire's Shortbread bars for Girlie's birthday.  She had a different recipe in mind when she asked for them - hers had cookie dough in them - but these worked just fine.  And bonus, I had everything in the pantry.  They were soft and buttery on the bottom, with rich chocolate and caramel on top.  A good choice for a birthday "cake."

Because I had blueberries coming out my ears, thanks to Costco, I used them to make these Blueberry Crumb Bars.  They were good, if a little thin on the fruit filling - a bit more blueberries would be good.  I didn't save the Pin because I have other Cobblers, Crumbs and Crisps to try.

Without the Bacon this Potato and Bacon Frittata would work for a meatless meal.  We had it for dinner (which French Bread and a salad), but it would be good for a breakfast/brunch as well.

I couldn't find a link to this Spinach-Artichoke Rigatoni when I searched for it on the Taste of Home website, but found it going through Pinterest.  Go figure.  I'm not a huge fan of artichokes, and the dip everyone loves I can take or leave.  The recipe seemed to be based a bit on that dip, but the dish was too dry.  It needed a sauce, instead of just melting cheese over the top.  Maybe mixing in some cream cheese would have been enough.  If you enjoy the dip, and have a sauce to build on, go for it.

I'm hoping this Chicken Club Casserole will finally end my need for cheesy pasta dishes.  If not, the warmer temps should cut it down.  It was simple and pretty fast.  The only thing I'm not sure of is the cheddar cheese soup - I don't use condensed soups anymore, so it was a flavor that stood out to me.  It didn't make it bad, just something I could pick out.  If I make it again, I might have a good cheese sauce base I could use instead.

Then there were a couple meals we've had before and liked.  Skillet CassouletCalzone with this Quick Bread Dough instead of the can version.  

I'm off to hit Costco this morning.  I need fish for tonight's dinner.

Happy Friday,

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