Monday, June 27, 2011

Pre-July Meal Plan

Over the weekend, we loaded up the car with our Hayden and my friend's pup Chloe plus a lot camping gear. We headed near Park City, to Rockport Sate Park. The majority of Utah state parks allow dogs, which make them the destination of most our camping trips. It was a great weekend in a tent. The dogs were so tired that after there baths, they just slept in on the couch yesterday. J didn't catch any fish but we still soaked up the sun by the reservoir for most of the time. There is a hike that goes along the side of the lake which offers really beautiful views. The river near Cottonwood campground (they one we stayed at) was so high that many of the campsites had water in the fire pits or the whole site was flooded. Luckily, our site wasn't close to the river and we were able to have a fire each night plus we stayed dry at night. 

I can't believe that Fourth of July is next Monday. I am planning a BBQ with a few friends at our house. Not the traditional BBQ. I probably should because that is what all the stores have on sale. However, I am taking a bit of a different approach. So I am have included next Monday in this Monday Meal Plan. In hopes I can get a bit past this week for dinner.
Meatless Monday: Black Bean Stoup
Tuesday: Pulled pork sandwich with mash potatoes, and green beans
Wednesday: Kung Pao Chicken with side of broccoli and hopefully egg rolls
Thursday: Baked ziti (filled with sausage and zucchini)
Friday: Dinner out
Saturday: Sesame ginger chicken with rice and broccoli
Sunday: Southwest chicken, chips and salsa
4th of July Monday: Grilled Pizza, salad, chicken wings

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alligator Picnic

Teddy bear picnics are out, Alligator picnics are in! 
CHOMP! When I was little a family friend made these cream cheese and chicken crescent rolls when she would watch us for a day. I made a mouth with one end and would CHOMP other foods with them. They were my alligators. The name stuck and were even put in the church's cookbook as Alligators. Nowadays, I make these every now and then. They are good warm or cold, meaning a perfect picnic food! That is just want I made them for this time. I truly love picnics, but always want something different than a sandwich, simple or upscale. I made these the night before, then threw them in the picnic basket when it was time to get on the road. They are also great finger foods, for other occasions. 

Family friend                                                 
2-8oz refrigerated crescent roll packages
1-8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 can drained chicken or turkey
1 Tablespoon chives, dried or fresh
1 teaspoon salt or season salt

- Mix cream cheese, mix in chicken, chives, and salt. Put around 1 Tablespoon of mixture in each laid flat crescent. Roll mixture up covering with crescent.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes of until golden brown.
- Be careful if eating warm, cream cheese gets hot!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Swing: Meal Plan

Summer is feeling in full swing. Even though Tuesday is the first day of summer, officially. Over the weekend, we went to Causey Reservoir, through the Ogden Canyon for a picnic and some fishing. Once we found a spot, parked, and had our picnic, the dog was too much on the hunt for J to fish. So we just soaked in the view, Hayden played in the water a bit and added color to our skin. Yes that brown at the bottom of the photos is the water, and yes, my dog went in there. He doesn't swim, just gets his feet wet.  

This coming weekend we will be camping. I am going to work on expanding what we eat by the campfire throughout the summer, but this weekend J is planning, preparing, packing, and really doing all the work. I will be taking full advantage of that and not offering to enhance any meals, unless asked of course.

Here is another Monday Meal Plan, so we aren't stuck with nothing this week for dinner.
Meatless Monday: Big old Salads with all the veggies in the fridge there isn't enough left to do anything else with
Tuesday: Beef tacos with the salad toppings from Monday, with a side of beans
Wednesday: Turkey meatball subs with veggie side
Thursday: General Tso's chicken, side of rice and broccoli
Friday: At the campsite, hamburgers, pasta salad, baked beans, watermelon
Saturday: At the campsite, fish (if caught), hot dogs (back up), potatoes, salad
Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: Swedish pancakes (frozen from IKEA), sausage and fruit

Friday, June 17, 2011

Monsters on the Plate

Monsters came out from under the bed and jumped on the plate! 

I don't remember my dad checking for monsters under the bed or in the closet. I do remember him shooting rattle snakes, reading in the car during shopping trips, and when my brother, sister and I were fighting he would yell at us, "Damn it, we're family". Even though I don't remember him checking for monsters for me, I know he would eat these monster cookies in an instant. Peanut butter, chocolate, and oatmeal would be somethings the majority of dads would go for. These cookies are a great way to get rid of the bottom of the bags in your pantry. You can add any types of chocolate chips (dark, semi-sweet, milk, or white), any type of nuts, or raisins.  For my monster cookies, I used M&Ms, semi-sweet and white chocolate chips, and in half some shredded coconut. Just pour it all in to get rid of the monsters. 

Monster Cookies                                               
Ingredients added from Paula Dean
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup multi-colored chocolate candies, M&Ms
1/2 cup chocolate chips, or a combination of any different chips
1/4 cup raisins, optional 
1/4 shredded coconut, optional (add a bit extra peanut to keep dough moist)
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

- In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins & coconut, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal.
- Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in airtight container. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stuck on the Same: Meal Plan

Last week there was a lot of change to the plan, because of a friend's birthday, Taste of Downtown (well dinner on 25th street, because Taste of Downtown sold out 10 people before us), and because of a rescheduled birthday dinner.
I have been feeling a little stuck. I try to add a new recipe each week. However we want the meals we are familiar with. Ending with me feeling stuck eating the same things again and again. Even if we try a new recipe and like it, it goes back into the schedule for eating over and over. Maybe next week there will be 2 new recipes.

This Monday meal plan for this week for dinner has repeats again. 
Meatless Monday: Meatless Black Bean Stoup
Tuesday:Grilled chicken sandwich topped with avocado, tomato, and sprouts with a side of grilled zuchinni
Wednesday: Turkey meatball subs with a side of green beans
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas with refried beans, chips and homemade salsa
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Chicken Souvaki on a pita topped with cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce
Sunday: Broccoli beef with rice

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Smoky Black Bean and Rice Stoup made Meatless

Stoup, because it is hearty than a Soup.
The first time I had this dish was when a friend's mom made it for lunch. I thought it would make a perfect Meatless Monday Meal. When I was given the recipe it wasn't meatless, there was bacon and chicken stock in it. So sorry Rachel Ray, but we need more meatless meals around my house. It is a really hearty meal. These photos were taken right after it was cooked just sitting in the pot made it because a lot thicker, with little to no broth. Leftovers are great, just a bit thick, remember stoup not soup! I am considering taking it as a camping meal, all cooked just to heat over the fire and eat. It would warm you up from the inside.

Smoky Black Bean and Rice Stoup
Adopted to be meatless from Rachel Ray

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (twice around the pan)
1 bay leaf
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves,minced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2-15 oz cans black beans
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
course salt and course black pepper
1-15 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 cup white rice

- Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Heat olive oil, add the bay lead, celery, onions, garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes to soften the veggies. Add the corn and 1 can of black beans and their juice.
- Drain the other can, then add half the can of beans. Mash the remaining beans in the can with a fork to make a paste out of them, then scrape them into the soup pot - this will make the stoup souper-thick!
- Season the veggies and beans with coriander, chili, ground cumin, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and broth. Cover the pot and raise the heat to bring the stoup to a boil. Add the rice and cook the stoup over a rolling simmer until the rice is tender but has a little bite left to it, 15 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and serve.

Check out Saturdays with Rachel Ray at Taste and Tell.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nana June's Chicken Tortilla Soup

For those days you really don't think soup is just for winter!
I have to confess that my grandma is not Nana June, nor do I know Nana June. I do know that she made some great soup. One that I really like to eat, anytime of year. Even in the summer, which is not normally the time of year that I want soup. Since getting this recipe from a friend, chicken tortilla soup is made when family comes and visits, for friends, and even to freeze for later. It might not look all that appealing, but truly it has a great flavor combination.

Nana June' Chicken Tortilla Soup
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
10-12 corn tortillas, cut into strips
6 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of cilantro
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans Mexican style tomatoes (if you use Rotel tomatoes I suggest 3 cans)
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups chicken broth (to cut sodium, can substitute with water)
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
4-6 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded or a rotisserie chicken, shredded

- Heat oil in a large pot. Add tortilla strips, garlic, cilantro, and onion; let ingredients sweat. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the stock and broth, cumin, chili powder & bay leaves.
- Return to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer. Add chicken. Allow to simmer for at an hour up to 6 hours to combine favors.
- Top with cheese, avocados, and tortilla chips as desired.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Sundo List + Meal Plan

We had our first camping trip of the season this past weekend. Which means it is feeling like summer!
After driving a lot last weekend, we just wanted to go somewhere close, where J could fish and I could just relax. We went up to Hyrum Lake State Park. It was beautiful, accessible, and full of friendly people. The fishing was not successful for J even after kicking myself and Hayden away from the water. I read in the sun or shade and just took in the outdoors. Even went on a short trail to a different
side of the reservoir. Hayden had 2 offers to go home with other people, but I am glad he picked us.
With the start of summer, my first full summer in Utah, I have made a list of Summer Sundos, things for this summer. Would love to add some more if you have any suggestions.

Summer Sundos
• Picnic Often!
• Attend a Raptor's game
• Camp at Bear Lake
• Run a fun 5K, maybe BFN
• Visit Timpanogos Cave
• Go raspberry picking
• Go to a rodeo
• Camp by Strawberry Reservoir
• Sit on the curb and watch as many parades as possible! (6 found so far) 
• Go to the Salt Lake City Farmer's Market (before the Ogden one starts up)
• Attend Peach days in Brigham City (Sept. 7-10)
• Visit the Ogden Nature Center (Free Summer Saturdays)
• Watch a movie in the park. Ogden, Fort Buenaventura, or North Ogden
Chalk Art festival at the Gateway in Salt Lake City (June 17-18)
• View a hot air balloon festival take off! Perhaps at the Antelope Island Stampede

Now back to our regular scheduled programing: Monday Meal Plan, here is what we are having this week for dinner. Because of our late decision camping trip, a few repeats will be seen.
Meatless Monday: Grilled cheese on sourdough, salads and fruit
Tuesday: Chicken tortilla soup
Wednesday: Mongolian beef with broccoli and rice
Thursday: Grilled chicken sandwich on Turkish bread (if it works to make it or focaccia bread) topped with avocado, tomato, and sprouts with a side of grilled veggies
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Chicken enchiladas with refried beans, chips and homemade salsa
Sunday: Simple, grill something, or maybe breakfast for dinner

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Middle of Ogden Fruit Stand: Carlo's Produce

I haven't been getting Bountiful baskets, due to my schedule, site being full, or just wanting to get exactly what I need (not what I end up with). After Memorial Day weekend our fridge was empty and in major need of some fruits and veggies. I stopped by Carlo's Produce in Ogden. It is conveniently close to downtown (Washington and 30th street) unlike other fruit stands which are a bit farther out of town. (Closer to the fields)
When you first walk into Carlo's it feels like a farmer's market. The fruits and vegetables are set up in a neat order, usually within categories that makes sense. However don't let this fool you into thinking that everything is local. I have noticed that more is from the USA compare to a grocery store, but in no way is it all local. When local produce is in season, it is clearly marked as a Utah product.
The prices are similar to the grocery store, some items might be a bit more but some a bit less. For example, I bought an extremely large cucumber for 50 cents, at Smith's I saw them for 48 cents. I bought green grapes at Carlo's for $1.98 a pound (from Mexico), which were about a dollar more in the store. Navel oranges were half the price. ($.48 at Carlo's compare to $.99 at Smith's). At Carlo's there are a few items, not usually found in other stores. Need any Cactus, Yucca, or chayote squash? Carlo's has it. One down side may be the lack of an organic section at Carlo's.  I am sure there is not the demand for organic, but more a demand for more reasonable prices.

I have only been to Carlo's a handful of times. Each time the staff is friendly and more than willing to answer any of questions. They probably won't approach to ask you if you need help, but are around and great when asked.
Each time I have been very pleased with my produce. Things are fresh and ripe but not over ripe. Also when stored correctly my veggies and fruits last until I need them.
One silly side note is that my dog enjoys waiting in the car at Carlo's because he can watch me shop the majority of the time. It makes me smile to look over and see him sitting in the front seat watching me.

I recommend Carlo's Produce when you need a lot of fruit or vegetables or even just a couple of items. I am looking forward to scoring some local corn at a great price when the season comes.

(Note on photos: used my iPhone and I didn't ask staff for permission:). )