Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies


These are the best chocolate chips cookies! They are my claim to fame in my family. Just follow the directions exactly, including how to cool them, and you will have the best chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Ingredients

1-1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup Butter Flavor Crisco
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Heat oven to 375ºF. Combine brown sugar, Butter Flavor Crisco Shortening, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat egg into creamed mixture.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop rounded measuring tablespoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
Bake one baking sheet at a time at 375ºF for 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies (they will look light and moist), or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack; remove cookies to foil to cool completely.

Makes about 34 cookies.

Menu Plan Monday


We had a good (busy as usual) week this week. Corey had state math contest on Saturday. This is the NCTM contest, and they give awards to the top ten scorers in each grade. He qualified last year, but did not place. This year, he got 8th place! He was ecstatic. Eric's parents came to visit this weekend, which was a nice treat. Sunday we helped with a church youth group luncheon. I made Chicken Enchilada Soup and Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup, which were very popular. I did have a minor fiasco. My crockpot melted through the bottom and burned my counter. If I wouldn't have caught it before we left the house, we wouldn't have a house! So, word of warning - don't get a crockpot with a plastic bottom. I've used it for years, so I'm not sure what happened, but it was scary. I also made some blondies and chocolate chips cookies. We had some nice family time together this weekend.

During the week, I was pretty much able to stick to the menu. The low country boil on Tuesday was fun, but made way too much food for our family of three. Next time we will have to have some friends over. This coming week is pretty busy, so you will see some quick and easy meals. I'm only going to post dinner this week. I haven't had time yet to plan out breakfasts. I hope you enjoy. For more menus, see orgjunkie.com.

Sunday - leftovers
Monday - eat at computer training
Tuesday - Filets, Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Pea Pods (Eric's birthday!)
Wednesday - Santa Fe Chicken, Rice, Peaches, Salad
Thursday - Out (everyone has different evening obligations)
Friday - Frito Pie made with Santa Fe Chicken leftovers
Saturday - Homemade hamburgers, French Fries, Strawberries

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


We did a much better job sticking to our menu this week. We actually followed it perfectly! The Linguini with Shrimp Fra Diavolo was absolutely amazing. It tasted better than restaurant pasta. My husband even went to work and raved about it to his coworkers! The tilapia was also pretty good. The family said to keep it in the dinner rotations. :)

This week is full of some of our favorites, and we're going to have a low country boil on Tuesday, which will be fun. It's always a good time when you get to dump your meal on the table and eat with your fingers. I hope you enjoy the menu! For more menus, go to orgjunkie.com.

Sunday
Breakfast: Bacon Quiche Biscuit Cups
Dinner: Filets, Grilled Asparagus, Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Salad

Monday
Breakfast: Leftover Bacon Quiche Biscuit Cups
Dinner: Eat at training

Tuesday
Breakfast: Yogurt, toast, and fruit
Dinner: Low Country Boil, Strawberries

Wednesday
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
Dinner: Spaghetti with Meatballs, Salad

Thursday
Breakfast: Cinnamon Streusel Cider Muffins
Dinner: Chili & PB Sandwiches

Friday
Breakfast: Grilled Ham and Cheese
Dinner: Pork Chop Potato Casserole, Brussels Sprouts, Salad

Saturday
Breakfast: Pancakes
Dinner: Honey Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Accordion Potatoes, Green Beans

Low Country Boil


A low country boil is a traditional southern recipe that is often served to large groups. Everything is cooked in a large pot, and then after draining the water, the contents are poured out onto a large table covered in newspaper. Everyone just helps themselves. It is a great meal to do in the summer. Since we are finally having some warmer temperatures, I thought this would be a fun recipe to do this week.


Ingredients

5-6 medium red potatoes, quartered (or use 10-12 whole smaller ones)
4-6 small ears of corn
1 lb cleaned, deveined shrimp with tails
2 links Cajun smoked sausage, sliced diagonally (I use my usual low fat smoked sausage)
2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup saltsoftened butter, sliced lemons, and cocktail sauce for serving

Directions



Begin by boiling 8 qts of water in a stock pot. Add the salt and Old Bay seasoning. Add potatoes and cook for about 10-12 min. Next, add the sausage and corn on the cob. Cook about 7 minutes and then add the shrimp. Boil another 3-5 min just until the shrimp are pink and heated through. Drain water and pour the contents of the pot onto a platter (or if you are going the traditional route - newspaper). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and additional Old Bay seasoning. Serve with lemon wedges, shrimp cocktail sauce and softened butter.

(recipe source - Sweet Savory Southern)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


Boy, did I do a horrible job with my menu this week. I only managed to do the chicken, manicotti, and meatball sandwiches, and that's only because I cooked all of those things on Sunday and had them ready to go. Thursday's workshop got postponed due to threatening weather, and I ended up getting home too late to cook. Friday I stayed late at school to prepare for my sub for Monday and Tuesday, and my parents came over that night for some computer help, so we ended up just eating mac & cheese out of the box. On Saturday, the boy ended up getting to audition for 8th grade district band (even though he is a 7th grader), and he got 1st chair French Horn! So, we ended up having to go to an unscheduled band concert and got home late, so we ate take-out. This week is another goofy Matzat family week with a full schedule. I am at a library conference, so the boys have to fend for themselves for a couple of days. I will try to do the things I didn't do last week, so sorry for the repeats. We'll try for some new things next week. :) For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com. Have a great week!

Sunday
Breakfast: Grilled Ham and Cheese
Dinner: Boys eat leftover Comforting Chicken Soup from freezer

Monday
Breakfast: Boys on their own
Dinner: Boys eat out (Band Contest and Boy Scouts - too much going on for one night)

Tuesday
Breakfast: Boys on their own
Dinner: Won Ton Tacos, Corn, Peaches

Wednesday
Breakfast: Cinnamon Struesel Cider Muffins
Dinner: Bourbon Chicken, pea pods, applesauce

Thursday
Breakfast: Sausage Cheese Muffins
Dinner: Linguini with Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Salad

Friday
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
Dinner: Homemade Pizza

Saturday
Breakfast: Pancakes
Dinner: Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Dijon Cream Sauce, Pasta, Brussels Sprouts

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

We had a pretty good week last week. I did switch Tuesday and Friday's menu because I forgot to buy manicotti noodles, and we ended up eating out on Friday because we got home late. We have had a lot of rain in our area the last two weeks, which has resulted in a lot of flooding. The corp of engineers ended up having to open five of the flood gates on Table Rock Dam, which is the first time they have done this in past 15 years. So, the boy and I took a side trip on the way home from school to go see dam. It was pretty amazing. I'll try to link to some photos as soon as I get them posted. The boy participated in the MCTM Regional Math contest on Saturday and placed 1st in 7th grade, which qualifies him to go to state in two weeks. Pretty cool stuff! Yes, I am a proud mom. Anyway, it was a nice week. We have the usual busy schedule this week with computer trainings, boy scouts, and church activities. I also have an author coming to visit my students on Thursday, which is pretty exciting. Even with the busy schedule, I've managed to sneak in some pretty good meals. I just had to do some pre-cooking today (made the manicotti and the meatballs). I hope you enjoy the menu. To see other menus, go to orgjunkie.com.

Sunday
Breakfast: Bacon Cheese Pull-Aparts
Dinner: BBQ Chicken, Green beans, Strawberries, Salad

Monday
Breakfast: Yogurt and grapefruit
Dinner: Eat at Training

Tuesday
Breakfast: Grilled ham and cheese
Dinner: Cheese Manicotti, Broccoli, Salad

Wednesday
Breakfast: Egg on Toast
Dinner: Meatball Sandwiches, Oranges, Green Beans

Thursday
Breakfast: Sausage Cheese Muffins
Dinner: Linguini with Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Salad

Friday
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
Dinner: Won Ton Tacos, Corn, Peaches

Saturday
Breakfast: Pancakes
Dinner: Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Dijon Cream Sauce, Pasta, Brussels Sprouts

Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Dijon Cream Sauce


This is a new one for us. I'll let you know how it goes. I modified the original recipe and grilled the tilapia. The original recipe has you fry it in a pan with 2T of oil.


Ingredients


6 Tilapia filets

Combine in a bowl...

1 C fat free sour cream
2T Dijon mustard
1t lemon juice
1t lemon pepper
1t italian herbs
8 oz spiral pasta


Directions

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add pasta. Boil 6-8 minutes or until tender. While noodles are cooking, grill fish until done (usually only takes about 5-10 minutes). Transfer grilled fish to a skillet. Pour contents of bowl evenly over fish, cover and reduce to low heat. Simmer 1 minute or until sauce is hot and fish is flakey. Serve fish and sauce over noodles.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo


This recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network. I serve it over linguini or spaghetti noodles.

Ingredients

1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined (I use the frozen precooked ones from Wal Mart)
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 medium onion, sliced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (I use 1 T dried)
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves (I use 1 T dried)

Directions

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside.

Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

The Ultimate Barbequed Chicken


This is a recipe from Food Network's Tyler Florence. It is the absolute BEST way to make barbequed chicken on the bone. I do make some modifications and will note them in the recipe. I usually do not make the homemade BBQ sauce, though it is very good. I use a low calorie bottled sauce, and it still tastes wonderful! Be sure to follow the brining and cooking directions just as listed. This is what makes the chicken so juicy.

Ingredients

Brine:
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a large knife (I just use minced garlic in a jar)
4 sprigs fresh thyme (I use about 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves)
6 chicken legs and thighs, still connected, bone in, skin on, about 10 ounces each (I use chicken breasts as our family likes white meat.)

The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce:
1 slice bacon
1 bunch fresh thyme
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika if available
Freshly ground black pepper

For the brine, in a mixing bowl combine the water, salt, sugar, garlic, and thyme. Transfer the brine to a 2-gallon sized re-sealable plastic bag (I put mine in a very large plastic bowl with a lid). Add the chicken, close the bag and refrigerate 2 hours (if you've only got 15 minutes, that's fine) to allow the salt and seasonings to penetrate the chicken.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Wrap the bacon around the bunch of thyme and tie with kitchen twine so you have a nice bundle. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the thyme and cook slowly 3 to 4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly without coloring for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, give the sauce a stir, and turn the heat down to low. Cook slowly for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Once the sauce is done cooking, remove about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and reserve for serving along side the chicken at the table. The rest of the barbecue sauce will be used for basing the legs.

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Preheat a grill pan or an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue to a medium heat. Take a few paper towels and fold them several times to make a thick square. Blot a small amount of oil on the paper towel and carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill to make a nonstick surface. Take the chicken out of the brine, pat it dry on paper towels. Arrange the chicken pieces on the preheated grill and cook, turn once mid-way, and cook for a total of 10 minutes. Transfer the grill marked chicken to a cookie sheet and then place in the oven. Cook the chicken for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven and then brush liberally, coating every inch of the legs with the barbecue sauce and then return to the oven for 25 to 30 more minutes, basting the chicken for a second time half way through remaining cooking time. Serve with extra sauce.

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