Friday, April 22, 2016

Food for Thought

We went from cold and 12" of snow last weekend, to 75 today, near 80 tomorrow.  Most of the snow is gone.  Thanks to the hubby, the bulbs I planted last fall survived the heavy snows and are all blooming:  tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and grape hyacinth.  My lilacs too survived, but blooms are still a bit out.  My blackberries are leafing out, which I think is too late to trim them, but they and the blueberries need netting before they bloom.  Birds will not win this year.  My 7 y.o. told me there are strawberries in the patch.  I have starters going in the kitchen, and if it's calm and warm enough, I'll put them out for some real sun.  I also have live plants of lavender and rhubarb to get into dirt this weekend, if not later today.

I think Spring is here, whether snow comes again (and it very well could) or not.  Spring brings lighter fare for meals, at least most of the time.  It also makes me dread the coming heat. . .but I shove aside those sweaty thoughts to savor the early Spring instead.

Much like the transitioning seasons, my menu wafts from warm and comforting, to light and fresh.  Check out the following if you're in need of recipes for your menu planning.

Hubby brought home a Costco-sized bag of brussels sprouts, which is a lot of brussels sprouts.  I still had some after using them in a recipe, and remembered seeing them used as a slaw.  I dug up this Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Quiona Salad to serve up as a side.  It was good.  Fresh and light.  Hubby thought some chopped apples would be good in the salad.  The dressing was tangy, but I could have used more orange flavor.  It could have been the orange I juiced, but next time I may toss in some zest.  Leftovers with some sliced chicken would make a good lunch.

The boys had a couple things going this week so I needed something that would wait for them to get home.  This Slow Cooker Crack Chicken worked pretty good for those who weren't home at meal time.  I made my 40-minute hamburger buns, and used the mixer trick to shred the chicken (toss the cooked chicken into the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddled, let the mixer do the work.)  I used chicken thighs, they don't dry out like breasts in the slow cooker.  I also found the sauce to meat ration off for us.  Next time I'll halve the "sauce" ingredients.  The bacon is a must.  I tried slices because I didn't feel like chopping it, but I should have.  Crumbled would have been in every bite, but serve them on the side since they'll get soft in the chicken mix.  I would also check your seasoning before serving - ours needed a touch of salt and pepper.  It serves up well chilled, too, on a bed of lettuce or with crackers as a dip.  The blogger mentions it would also make a good filling for tacos or burritos.

I had this One-Pot Cajun Chicken and Sausage Alfredo Pasta on my menu before my husband said he was lightening his carb load in an effort to lose weight.  Bummer.  I made it and he ate half his regular serving.  This was creamy and rich and flavorful.  I used thighs in this, as well as they take on more flavor.  I don't like a lot of heat, so I halved the amount of cajun seasoning and then served more on the side for those who like the heat.  This one reheats well too, and you don't get the separation of liquids and fat, that sometimes happens with cream based recipes.

I love sugar cookies.  They are probably one of the few Christmas recipes I'll make during the year, though I don't make them cutter-cookies.  When I found these Amish Sugar Cookies I knew I had to have them.  And OH. MY!  They are really good.  Soft.  Buttery.  A little bit of crunch on the edges.  And they couldn't be easier.  I used the small Pampered Chef scoop (my go-to size for cookies) and it made a ton, 5-6 dozen.  I could eat them by the handful.

We (well most of us) like chicken and peanut sauce, so these Thai Chicken Tacos with Peanut Sauce were a must make.  They were fresh and light and just the thing for the weather heating up.  I used chicken tenders and mixed the cilantro with the cabbage, which was green because that's what I had on hand.  The peanut sauce is pretty thick, but super flavorful.  Because I was trying to help hubby keep processed carbs out of his meals, I warmed up some quinoa and mixed it with the cabbage and served the rest on top.  Because the peanut sauce was thick, I thinned it with hot water, which is how I dressed hubby's dish.

For some reason these Meatball Sub Bake casseroles were in my feed like crazy.  So I took it as a sign, pinned one and made it.  (Hubby got the meatballs and a salad.)  I made my usual marinara and kept the recipe as it was.  It was warm and cheesy.  The top got crunchy from the cheese and the inside was soft.  The only thing I'll do next time is add more meatballs.  The dough puffs up around the meatballs in such a way that once it was baked there weren't enough bites of meatball for me.

We have prom this weekend, a cowboy action shoot and girlie coming home to make sure her brother is as dapper as possible.

Happy Friday,

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