Friday, January 22, 2016

Food For Thought

My house has finally been de-Christmased, with getting the tree down just a couple of days ago (what random item will I find I forgot to put away, though.)  I was determined to not have the tree still up while celebrating hubby's birthday this week.  His being gone on a business trip made that easier, since cooking is minimal when he's away.  We have another night of hockey camp tonight.  Girlie is coming home for her dad's birthday - and to get her fill of midget hockey.  I'm heading out to scrapbook with a friend tonight - at some point I should figure out what I'm taking.

If any of that sounds like your week, or an upcoming week, and you need some recipes to help with your menu planning, then check the following.

Hubby's birthday was yesterday, and he was coming home from his trip, so I planned to make him the lobster we didn't have on New Year's Eve.  I needed something for dessert and found this Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake.  It was no bake, which meant it would be easy to set up before dinner.  It was easy enough to make and it tasted really good - I served it with Cherry Sauce, instead of Chocolate Sauce.  The only complaint I have is the caramel pecan layer on the bottom.  While it was chew-able it was not cut-able.  It set up too much to get a fork through.  If I had let it sit out to soften, the chocolate would loosen up, too.  I will make it again, but I will add more sweetened condensed milk to the caramels.  Or make my own caramel sauce, which would be softer than the melted caramel thing.

Like I mentioned, hubby was gone two nights this week.  When he's gone dinner is simple.  Simple like this Chicken Tostada Salad, though I made several changes.  First I used taco shells, instead of tostada.  While I can manage a tostada there are some in the family who struggle.  I used two chicken breasts that I sprinkled with taco seasoning and cooked up, instead of store bought.  I left out the black olives, which I love, but the boys would have picked out.  I chopped the tomatoes to fit better in the tacos, and tossed them in with the lettuce - made it harder to pick them out.  The only thing I would do different is to use a hardy lettuce - iceburg, romaine or even shredded cabbage.  The sauce is heavy and will wilt up a less substantial lettuce.

Hubby has, had, an enormous aversion to brussel sprouts, and even that's putting it mildly.  Childhood recipes made him barely able to say "brussel sprout" let alone get one any where near his mouth.  That changed last Christmas at a company Christmas party, where he tried, with much doubt, a fried brussel sprout.  To his amazement he like them and had more than just one "try it bite."  I was shocked to find a bag of them in my 'fridge recently, with the request to make some.  My first foray into brussel sprout-dome is below, this Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries was my second.  I made them to go with the lobster (I cut the recipe into thirds.) They were good.  Really good.  Hubby says they're a do-again.

There was no way I was going to get the boys to eat lobster, so I opted to make them Spirals and Cheese, which also made a good side for the lobster.  Because of pantry deficiencies, meaning I didn't look too well before doing my weekly shopping, I changed things up a bit.  I didn't have spirals, I don't like them anyway as they tend to fall apart.  I thought I had elbows - I did, but not enough for the recipe, but I did have enough penne.  I did a mix of Gouda and Colby Jack instead of cheddar and I left off the breadcrumb topping, though I'm sure it would have been great, it was a time-crunch decision.  It was a creamy, stomach-warming dish.  Great on its own, or as a side to lobster.

I made chili on Monday and was going to make Corn Bread to go with it, when I remembered I still had a couple sweet potatoes in my pantry.  Sweet Potato Corn Bread it was.  Based on my now favorite go-to corn bread, it had the added softness of sweet potatoes.  The cinnamon and nutmeg were just the thing to go with the chili.  

I first made this Very Berry Cranberry Sauce for this past Thanksgiving.  I made it again when I cooked up a ham.  I was missing a ham at Christmas, so I made one myself.  It's simple.  It's sweet.  It's tart.  It's good.  Add a little more water and reheat it to make it saucier and it's good on Oatmeal Pancakes.

This was the first brussel sprout recipe I made, that made hubby into a believer.  Southwest Brussel Sprouts and Beans were a side to the casserole below.  Because I had the sprouts on hand, I didn't put in the beans, but I'm sure they would have been good in it.

I mentioned I made a ham, therefore, I had some ham left over.  I knew I also had cheese tortellini in the freezer.  The Pioneer Woman's Tortellini Primavera was just the ticket.  It was really good, though for us, I would put in less carrots.  The amount just didn't mix in well, so there was a lot of carrots hanging out in the pan when the rest of the ingredients were gone.

I needed my mexican fix for the week and Renae's Taco Bake did the trick.  It was spiced right and was cozy on a cold evening.  I chose to used ground turkey instead of beef, just because.  I wish the bottom layer of noodles was creamier.  Instead of straight cheddar, I will probably use a colby-jack mix next time.  I love sharp cheddar, extra sharp when I can get it, which just doesn't melt creamy.  If that doesn't do the trick, I would add a splash of milk.  The sauce is going to absorb into the noodles, so it'll need to be a little looser when it goes into the oven.  Also remember to go a tad under al dente on the noodles, since they will continue to cook in the oven.

No cooking today.  No cleaning today.  No laundry.  Just get the Girlie, watch the 7 y.o. livin' the hockey dream and then time with paper, pictures and friends.

Happy Friday, 

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