Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Menu 15: Grilled Chicken Pitas

Sorry for the long blogging hiatus! (The date of this entry reflects when we had these pitas for dinner.) On April 27, Alabama was devastated by a series of tornados that ripped through our state. Since that time, Grace’s Kitchen, the ministry I work with, has been serving fresh, hot meals in communities affected by the storms and haven’t done much cooking at home. It has been so neat to see God’s faithfulness and provision during such an overwhelming time. Soli Deo Gloria!

Okay, back to dinner. We lost our power for about 48 hours due to a morning storm that impacted our neighborhood. Many trees were lost, but our home was fine. The evening the storm went through I cooked some chicken that had been in the freezer. Andy and I both really like Chicken Souvlaki and thought it even better when the chicken and veggies were grilled. Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Stuffed Cupcakes

My sister, Mel, made these delicious cupcakes for Easter dinner. Russ saw the recipe on Fox News and printed it out for her because it combines all of her favorite flavors. She said that they were easy to make but there are a lot of steps. To make them look as good as they tasted, Mel piped on the frosting with a zip-top plastic bag—fancy! The frosting is a little grainy because of the brown sugar, but it tastes just like cookie dough without the raw egg. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Stuffed Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Cookie Dough Filling
Mini chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in vanilla and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin pans.
2. Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until done. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
3. Cut a cone-shape hole out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a piece of the chilled Cookie Dough Filling. Frost the cupcakes, and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.

Cookie Dough Filling:
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and sugar with an mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in flour and next 2 ingredients until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. milk
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer until creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar and next 2 ingredients. Add in milk and vanilla, beating until spreading consistency.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Menu 14: Grilled Pork Tenderloin

We celebrated Easter with Andy’s cousin Paul and his family (including his mom and mother-in-law), my sister and her family, and Mom. Instead of getting together right after church, we decided to eat an early dinner, which allowed everyone to go home and take a nap first (hooray!). Mel, Jules, and I planned the menu: Asian-marinated pork tenderloin grilled by Russ, our grilling pro; Risotto; mac and cheese; crunchy coleslaw. For dessert, Aunt Joy brought a mandarin orange cake, and Mel made these cupcakes. All the little people enjoyed hunting eggs and playing outside. It was a great evening!

Asian-Marinated Pork Tenderloin
We enjoyed this grilled, but you could also bake it or cook it in the slow-cooker.
1/2 jar orange marmalade
3 (2-lb.) pork tenderloins
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 orange
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tsp. dried ginger or 1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger

1. Heat marmalade in microwave until smooth. Place tenderloins in a large zip-top bag; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine soy sauce and next 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over tenderloins. Seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Discard marinade before cooking.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pumpkin-Pecan Muffins

This morning I made these muffins for a community group in which we participate. I went to my blog to verify what temp to bake them and realized the recipe wasn’t posted. These muffins are on the Grace’s Kitchen menu rotation and are very easy to make. The recipe was inspired by a coffee cake. If you can’t find canned pumpkin, applesauce is a good substitute. Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Pecan Muffins
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pumpkin
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla, pumpkin, and sour cream.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in pecans. Divide batter among 24 muffin cups, coated with vegetable cooking spray.
3. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until done.
Note: For mini muffins, bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until done.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Menu 13: Popcorn

This has been a crazy week with something going on every night, so our meals have been “grab and growl,” as a friend calls it. Tonight we were at church for the Remember service and there was no time to eat beforehand. Popcorn is our go-to meal whenever we have to eat dinner at such a weird time. I cook it in  a pot on the stove and serve it with cheese and crackers. Weird, maybe, but definitely delicious! (I forgot to take a photo, so you’ll just have to picture it.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Menu 12: Chicken Sandwiches

This is a cheater meal because it took no effort! Tonight I used the leftover fried chicken fingers to make sandwiches; we also had chips and fruit.
Forgive the darkness of the photo!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu 11: Chicken and Pancakes

It wasn’t my original intent to post two pancake recipes so close together. However AC requested pancakes for dinner tonight when our family celebrated her birthday. The inspiration for serving them with fried chicken tenders came from the strange-but-delicious chicken and waffles you see in many Southern restaurants. The sweet pancakes contrasted nicely with the salty, crunchy chicken. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes

Our niece AC turned 7 on Thursday. For her birthday party, she requested chocolate cupcakes, so I came up with this recipe. The cake is really a red velvet cake (without the red food coloring), and the frosting is a simple chocolate buttercream made even better with the addition of almond extract. (Almonds and chocolate are delicious partners!) The birthday girl and her party guests really liked them. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes
This recipe makes 36 cupcakes, but it’s easy to half if you don’t need so many.
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. white vinegar
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
Chocolate-Almond Buttercream Frosting

1. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla and vinegar. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scoop batter into lightly greased muffin pans.
2. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Cool in muffin pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Spread cooled cupcakes with Chocolate-Almond Buttercream Frosting.

Chocolate-Almond Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract

1. Beat butter with a mixer until creamy. Combine powdered sugar and cocoa. Add to butter mixture with milk and almond extract. Beat until spreading consistency, adding an additional tablespoon of milk, if needed.

Menu 10: French Doughnut Pancakes

This morning we enjoyed this muffin recipe turned into pancakes. I had made the muffins for breakfast when my in-laws were in town earlier in the week and had some extra batter that needed to be cooked. Instead of making muffins, I just scooped the batter onto a hot griddle (it’s much thicker than pancake batter, hence the weird shape). Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Honey Chex Mix

I came up with this recipe as an option for Grace’s Kitchen lunch bags. Our neighborhood children really liked it. You can used whatever cereal or nuts you prefer. M&Ms would also be a tasty addition. The recipe that follows yield about 16 (1-cup) servings and is easily doubled. Enjoy!

Honey Trail Mix
6 cups corn chex
1 1/2 cups roasted salted almonds
1 1/2 cups cocktail peanuts
1 (6-oz.) package dried cranberries
3 cups pretzels
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 to 3/4 cup honey

1. Combine corn chex and next 5 ingredients. Stir together honey and butter until combined. Toss honey mixture with corn chex mixture. Spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
2. Bake at 300° for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir mixture, and spread on wax paper to cool completely (about 2 hours).
Note: You may have to break it up the cereal mixture with your hands after it cools, but it isn't sticky, just glazed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Menu 9: Grilled Hamburgers

Some new friends came to dinner tonight. The menu of grilled hamburgers, Cornmeal-Crusted Onion Rings, and Bacon-Veggie Salad (Greek olives were substituted for the bell pepper in the salad) was very simple and tasty. Enjoy!
We had already started eating before I remembered to take a photo. Sorry!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Menu 8: Zucchini-Tomato Pie

In the summer when tomatoes are at their peak, we eat this pie a lot! As the weather has warmed up, we have been craving summer food, so I came up with this variation that uses plum tomatoes. Zucchini makes a delicious partner. Chopped cooked bacon would be a good addition to the zucchini-tomato mixture. Enjoy!

Zucchini-Tomato Pie
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 zucchini, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 to 3 tsp. herbs de Provence
1/2 cup garlic-herb cream cheese (I used 6 Laughing Cow cheese wedges.)
1 deep-dish piecrust
Shredded Italian-cheese blend

1. Sauté onion and zucchini in hot oil for 5 minutes. Add in tomatoes, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. Cook for 10 minutes; stir in garlic-herb cream cheese. Pour mixture into piecrust.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese is golden.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu 7: Mustard-Maple Pork Chops

This dish includes my favorite pork chop pairing—Apple-Onion Gravy. For more flavor, I spread Dijon mustard on one side of the pork and then drizzled it with maple syrup before baking the dish in the oven. The combination was just right! On the side, we had Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts With Bacon. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Menu 6: Fish Tacos

Andy has always been skeptical of fish tacos, but he agreed to try them for dinner tonight. I breaded pieces of tilapia with panko and then fried the fish (this takes no time). The fish was placed in warm flour tortillas and drizzled with homemade tartar sauce. The coleslaw is an old favorite updated with the addition of feta. Enjoy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Menu 5: Chicken and Rice

Tonight we had perfectly simple Updated Chicken and Rice served with Roasted Asparagus. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Menu 4: BLTs

AC had a BIG (her words) soccer game tonight, so we ate kind of late. You don’t get much easier than BLTs, chips, and fruit. Enjoy!
The soccer star in action!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Menu 3: Mustard-Roasted Tilapia

Tonight we had Mustard-Roasted Tilapia and leftover stove-top Scalloped Tomatoes from two nights ago. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu 2: Rib-eye Steak

Tonight we had Rib-eye Steaks, a quick stove-top version of Scalloped Tomatoes, and Creamed Spinach (really just spinach-artichoke dip eaten with a fork instead of bread). Enjoy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Menu 1: Pork Chops With Apple-Onion Gravy

Tonight we had Pork Chops With Apple-Onion Gravy, Loaded Mashed Potatoes (I added cooked crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, and dried chives to basic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes), and steamed broccoli. Enjoy!

A Month of Menus

I’ve been a delinquent blogger as of late because Andy and I have been busy with our latest project. (We are getting close to being able to move—hooray!) It’s not that I haven’t been cooking—just been too lazy to post. So I issued myself a challenge for April: The plan is to post whatever we have for dinner each night, whether it’s a new recipe or not. Enjoy!