2/15- Cheesy Potato Soup

This little gem showed up in one of my recent CL magazines, and I couldn't wait to try it! I absolutely love potato soups, particularly Pargo's from back in the day. This one seemed a bit different though- it uses red potatoes and keeps the skin on. I decided to give it a go because it sounded good, slightly different, and said it only took 40 minutes to make. (In case you were wondering, they told the truth. Dinner was on the table in 45 minutes.)

I didn't notice until I was beginning to cook that the recipe paired it with mini ham sandwiches. Luckily, I had some bread on hand, and just used that to make half-sandwiches of grilled ham and provolone. Went perfectly with it, and helped to round out the meal.

While the soup was delicious, and I'd make it again, I did find it a bit bland and had to add a fair amount of salt to my bowl. I also felt that it was missing some bacon, but I tend to like "loaded" potato soups, so that could just be me. Adding bacon would probably ruin the lightness of the dish too. Nevertheless, I'll probably add it in next time.

2/13- Mongolian Beef

I'm on of the millions who have joined in the Pinterest craze, and this recipe is the result of wasting my time there. :) At least 2 friends of mine have made this and raved about it, so I decided it was my turn to give it a try. I've said on here before that I've been intimidated by Asian food, but this was by far one of the easiest ones I've ever made. No more intimidation here! To top it off, it seriously tasted like it came from a restaurant!

The recipe calls for flank steak, but that's a little too steep for my grocery budget, so I went for the reduced-price grilling steak. I confess that I looked at the price and not the cut of meat, so I can't tell you what it was, but it worked just fine (and it was CHEAP!).The recipe also says it makes 2 servings- I had about a pound and a half of meat, so I 1.5'd the recipe, and it fed all 4 of us, plus had some leftovers for Joe to take to work.

Mongolian Beef Recipe:
makes 2 servings
You will need:

1 lb of flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger (about 1/2 inch piece)
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic (about 2 -3 large cloves)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of soy sauce (I use low sodium)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I think I'll scale this back a bit next time, just to lower the sugar content for the sake of my crazy kids)
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 large green onions, sliced crosswise into thirds

Prepare the meat:
First, make sure the steak slices are dry (pat them dry) and mix them with the corn starch. Using your hands or a spoon, move them around to make sure all pieces are coated. Place beef slices in a strainer and shake off excess corn starch (see picture bellow).
Make the sauce:
Heat half of the oil in a large wok at medium-high and add the garlic and ginger. Immediately add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl. Don't worry if the sauce doesn't look thick enough at this point. The corn starch in the beef will thicken it up later.
Cook the meat and assemble dish:
Turn the heat up and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook, stirring until it is all browned (this is a quick thing). Pour the sauce back into the wok and let it cook along with the meat. Now you can choose to cook it down and reduce the sauce or leave it thinner. Add the green onions on the last minute so the green parts will stay green and the white parts crunchy.
Serve it hot with rice.


This was seriously amazingly good, and I can't wait to make it again! Despite the heat in it, both kids devoured it, and I absolutely inhaled it. SO good!! (I also think next time I'll make sure I have broccoli on hand to toss in as well.)

2/12- Honey-Lime Chicken with Coconut Black Bean Rice

This recipe appeared on the page of another one I was looking at, and it looked too good not to check out. Chicken dipped in honey and lime juice, then coated with crushed tortilla chips? Sounds good to me, and I was right! The lime really came through, and the corn chips and honey brough fried ice cream to mind as well. Not that chicken tastes remotely like ice cream, but I think you know what I mean.

Even though it sounded really good as well, I confess I didn't make the rice. I wanted to, but couldn't find coconut milk the 2 places I looked, so I decided not to spend the time and energy scouring town for it. I gave up and made Zatarain's brown dirty rice mix instead. It tasted good and went with the chicken well enough, but I still really want to try this rice. The next time I happen upon coconut milk, I'm grabbing it and hanging on to it for whenever I want to make this again, that's for sure.

Scott was being picky about his chicken again last night, but Rebecca sure chowed down! The adults loved it too.

2/11- Easy Manicotti Florentine

I had some left over Ricotta and Cottage cheese, and wanted to do something other than lasagna with it, so I hit up allrecipes.com. This was one of the search results, and I decided to give it a try. Sure it's sort of like lasagna, but it was different enough for me! It really truly is easy, especially since you stuff the pasta before it's cooked! Pure genius! You mix up the filling, put it all in a zip-loc bag and then cut off a corner of it to make a piping bag, then squirt the filling inside each tube. Viola! Stuffed manicotti!

It's super easy, and really good. Both kids and adults devoured it, so that's a win in my book!

2/9- North Woods Bean Soup

This soup was DELICIOUS. The flavor profile isn't quite what I normally go for, but it sounded so good that I decided to give it a shot. While it wasn't a humongous hit with the kids, it scored big with the husband and me. Now, since it's from CL again, it does call for turkey keilbasa. I didn't even bother trying to find that, especially since I had 3 leftover regular old Italian Sausages in my freezer. I may try it again and go with the turkey, just to see the difference, but it tasted just fine with the regular stuff. I also substituted frozen spinach because I had some on hand.

The sausages I had were already cooked, so that saved some time, but even if it hadn't been this meal would've been fast. I had intended to make some bread that day but forgot, so I got out the Bisquick and made some biscuits instead. I also served it with fruit salad, which didn't exactly go with this very Mediterranean soup, but I love fruit salad, so there! :)

You have got to try this soup, it's awesome!


2/7- Oatmeal Crusted Chicken Tenders

With 2 small kids, how could a girl go wrong with chicken tenders? I got this recipe in an email from Cooking Light and knew I had to try it. Oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, and baking instead of frying? Yes, please! They were delicious, tasted just like regular chicken tenders, and will definitely go on my list of "regulars." They're really quite easy to make, and the kids loved helping me pound out the chicken!


I served them with store-bought frozen fries (a huge treat in our family), and a garden salad. Delicious!

2/4- Nikon Camera Cake

A friend's husband's birthday was last weekend, and she asked me to help her make a cake. He is big into photography (as am I, but he's better), so she wanted to make him a cake exactly like his Nikon D90. It's been a while since I had a reason to make a cake, so I jumped at the chance. It didn't take nearly as long as I expected it to, I was surprised! It was easily the most detailed cake I've done to date, but that actually made it more fun. If I did it again, there are certainly a few things I'd improve on, but they're very minor details like piping pictures on the buttons so they stand out more. Anyway, I was so glad she asked me to help her, and am super pleased with how it turned out!

1/30- Old World Chicken and Vegetables

Nothing quite suits a chilly winter night like a Crock Pot meal. This night was no exception. Well, I guess it was a bit of an exception in the fact that this was my first time ever cutting up a whole chicken. I must say, that's a job I'll happily leave to the butchers at the grocery store, or wherever they actually hack the things up. No thank you. The meal was pretty good, so I guess it was worth it in the end. :)

1 T dried oregano
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 medium green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 cut-up whole chicken ( about 3 pounds)
1/3 c ketchup
Hot cooked egg noodles

1. Combine oregan, 1/2 tsp salt, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper in small bowl; mix well.
2. Place bell peppers and onion in crock pot. Add chicken thighs and legs, sprinkle with half or oregano mixture. Add chicken breasts, and sprinkle with the rest of the oregano mixture. Cover; cook on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours. Stir in ketchup and remaining 1/2 tsp salt.

3. Serve chicken and vegetables over noodles.

1/24- Maple Salmon with Nutmeg Zucchini

Cooking Light strikes again! (Would somebody please tell them I post about their recipes all the time so they'll start to pay me?) I got this from a friend's cook book, and just knew my gang would love it. The kids are pretty big fans of salmon, especially if it's served with some sort of sauce or honey. They're also good about eating vegetables- Scott even told his doctor once that his favorite food was squash and zucchini! Anyway, this is another super fast and super easy meal. I also served it with garlic mini shells.

The recipes both came from "Cooking Light SuperFast Suppers."

Maple-Glazed Salmon
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)

Preheat broiler. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Place salmon, skin side down, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Brush with maple mixture. Broil 10 minutes until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, brushing with maple mixtures after 5 minutes and again after 10 minutes. Serves 2.

Nutmeg Zucchini
1 Tbsp butter
3 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 small or 2 large)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, and saute 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat, stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg

 [I didn't shred it, I just halved the zucchinis and then sliced them up horizontally. I didn't feel like having a food processor to clean that night. It worked just as well, I think.]
Serves 2 (serving size: 3/4 cup)

I was so hungry that night that I forgot to take a picture of the food until it was gone!

1/17- Rosemary Chicken and Cranberry Almond Cous Cous

This meal wasn't exactly planned, it was one of those "Oh shoot, I somehow don't have what I need for what I planned to make and I have to come up with something fast!" nights. I was surprised at how well it turned out though, especially the cous cous.

For the chicken, I just thawed some breasts and then cooked them in a skillet with a little butter, salt, pepper, and rosemary. (I think... I didn't exactly write down what I did, and I am posting this almost a month later. Go me.) Pretty simple and not particularly inspired, but tasty.

The cous cous was more inspired though. I added some lemon juice to the water and butter that it cooked in. While I waited for the water to boil, I toasted some sliced almonds in the toaster oven. Once the cous cous was done, I mixed in some craisins and the almonds, and I think some lemon zest (again, can't quite remember). I thought it was delicious, and the family agreed.

The whole meal was ready in about 20 minutes if I recall. Definitely an easy, tasty, fast week-night meal!