Friday, March 25, 2016

Food for Thought

This week, despite the feet of snow that fell (more is on its way tonight - they say it'll only be 1-3".  Of course, they said this last storm would only bring 6 -12".  Yeah), hubby being down in Arizona, the Girlie up at school and the 17 y.o. in Europe, you'd think I would have done cereal for dinner, but I am happy to report I actually cooked.  They were simple meals.  Fast meals.  Comforting meals.

If you're looking for the same, check out the recipes below.  It's been a week or so since I posted a menu, so this includes a couple weeks worth of recipes.

It's Lent, that means no meat.  Oddly, I've done less fish and more just meatless, but I was ready for fish and this Parmesan Crusted Tilapia was simple enough, and adjustable enough for In-Law Friday.  I expected the Parmesan (which was fresh grated, not the green canister kind) to get more crunchy, but it didn't.  I could probably have put it under the broiler, but you risk overcooking the fish.  However, it was still good and flavorful.

The Girlie was on Spring Break a week ago, so it was time to provide her home cooked meals.  She wanted Gyros when she was home for her birthday, so we went out to get them, which wasn't what she meant.  She wanted homemade.  I opted to make a Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki.  I didn't have Greek Seasoning, but found one and bonus, I had it all on hand.  The Tzatziki sauce was thin, which the blogger mentions and didn't really bother me.  If you like a thicker sauce, she recommended seeding the cucumber.  I may try only pureeing a portion of the cucumber with the sauce and small dicing the remainder - I don't mind a chunkier sauce.  I also have another Tzatziki recipe, that is thicker that I like.

The Girlie found this Chicken-Parm Stuffed Spaghetti Squash on Facebook and passed it on.  It's really doesn't have a printed recipe to follow, it's all shown in a video, but it's simple enough to jot notes down and whip it up.  We have never had spaghetti squash, but have wanted to try it.  I used my go-to Quick Marinara, which makes about 28 oz and was plenty for the two halves.  I breaded six chicken tenders (which was two too many), instead of breasts.  You could speed up the process by using frozen chicken tenders that you cook ahead of time.  This was really good.  Really good.  The squash is slightly sweet without the earthy tones that some squashes have.  I'll be trying another recipe I have.

This Chocolate Peanut Butter Sheet Cake was a last minute "I need a dessert" choice.  The peanut butter gave the chocolate cake a rich, dense texture. The frosting was just sweet enough - sometimes peanut butter frosting's can be overly sweet.

I had some strawberries that needed a recipe and fast.  My newest Taste of Home had just arrived and had this Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cobbler.  I have to say, putting the recipe together I couldn't picture how this was going to work; it comes together kind of like a dump cake.  I was really surprised at the outcome.  The chocolate became like a pudding and coated the strawberries.  The top was light and crunchy.  It was good and was horked down in no time.  Next time I'll have extra strawberries chopped for serving time, along with powdered sugar, whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream.

I needed a quick dessert for Monday's dinner, and nothing is simpler than the four ingredients in this No-Bake Avalanche Cookies.  They have a nice light peanut taste, with a good crunch and then those chewy bits of marshmallows.  Good stuff.

My in-laws have been sick and I figured they wouldn't make Monday's dinner.  Plus, we had a Pack meeting and with hubby out of town, I was going to have to drop off dinner to them on my way to the meeting.  These Chicken Bacon Garlic Roll-ups seemed both quick and portable.  And while they were quite portable, they took longer to assemble than the 20 minutes the recipe states, more like double that.  They were G.O.O.D.  Comfort food at its best - creamy, garlicy, rich sauce and of course the bits of bacon.  If reheating, the sauce will separate, but that's really not a reason not to reheat them.

Like I said, fast and easy while I was only cooking for three.  Enter Cheeseburger Gnocci.  Tired of Gnocci recipes yet?  We aren't.  I buy the minis because I like the smaller bites.  Since we are at altitude, I should have simmered this a little longer to reduce the liquid just a bit more and I'll cut the amount of black pepper in half - it was quite peppery.  I used a Colby Jack, but something sharp (as the recipe calls for) would carry better.

With Girlie home, I decided to try homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting one Saturday morning.  I used my Quick Bread Dough, which I used for pizza and calzones.  I just used vegetable oil instead of olive, and followed the recipe.  I didn't divide the dough and I think I probably cut them a little too thin.  And because they were thin, they weren't as gooey as I like in a roll, but that didn't stop us from eating them.  Cinnamon Rolls are new in my repertoire so next time I'll cut them thicker.  I'll also decide on a pan size after I've cut them.  The frosting was just the right sweet and cream cheese.  Good stuff.

This Creamy Pesto Mac with Spinach was originally planned for Wednesday, which ended up being two-feet-of-snow-day.  And while its warmth beckoned me, after shoveling the majority of the day the thought of doing any cooking, no matter how fast, was lost to me.  It was good the next night though - really creamy and I liked the pesto.  It received raves around the table.  I used fresh spinach - about a cup, chopped.  Just put it in the colander, then drain the noodles over the spinach.  You will need to season well with salt and pepper - the blogger mentions this - you'll almost feel like you're over-seasoning.  It would be good with chopped rotisserie chicken and/or bacon added.

I've got some Easter prep to do - like boiling eggs for coloring tomorrow, finding something to wear for Easter Vigil, and making sure the boys have pants that fit and shoes that aren't tennies.

Happy Friday,

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