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Category Archives: Thursday/Friday Recipe Exchange

Summer Menus: July Week Three

JeffreyW’s yummy zucchini and summer squash

A little delayed this weekend. No real excuse, except life, as usual, was a little hectic. Today I went for my first ride in at least a year. Had to test out my bike after the crew that was here to replace my furnace and add energy upgrades, also fixed my bike. Loved those guys.

When I got home, I was startled to find a hawk sitting peacefully in my driveway, awaiting my return. I believe he was a young Cooper’s hawk.

For this week, we are raiding the garden –  Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute featured along with a Family BLT on Monday.

One of JeffreyW’s many BLT photos. Now I’m hungry.

You can find all the menus and recipes here: July Menus Week Three

At least someone has fresh tomatoes…mine are a long way from JeffreyW’s crop.

Click here for the PDF of the shopping lists, July Week Three Shopping List. Reminder that they are color-coordinated and you can easily cross out ingredients you won’t be using.

Technically this is my BBQ pulled pork sandwich, but you get the idea.

Friday’s menu features Slowcooker Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, perfect for those hot mid-summer days when you don’t even want to fire up the grill.

I’ll be out of town next weekend, so next’s recipes could be delayed. I’m a little nervous – first time with the new pet sitter. She seems great and has had Great Danes herself. But I never know if Bixby is going to be a big lovebug or decide to throw his weight around. And fingers crossed Bailey doesn’t decide to eat any more furniture. Crazy dogs.



 

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Summer Menus: July Week Two

JeffreyW is the pizza king.

I’ve been busy in the yard today, so this will be short and sweet. For the menus, click here: July Week Two Menus

Tuesday features Adobo Sirloin and Garlic Roasted potatoes.

JeffreyW grills up some garlic potato wedges and steak.

Wednesday serves up a sweet Oatmeal Apple Cookie, along with an easy Tuna Macaroni Salad.

And Friday offers up two quick pizza dough recipes for a family night of Fresh Pizza built with your favorite toppings.

Shopping list is here: July Week Two Shopping List and remember it’s color coordinated so you can easily skip ingredients from the recipes you’re not using.

As always, you can substitute ingredients to suit your own tastes – skip the tuna in the macaroni salad and add a variety of fresh garden vegetables for a quick and easy vegetarian dinner. Choose your favorite cut of steak or bone-in chicken instead of boneless breasts and substitute favorite vegetables for any of the suggested ones.

And finally, a bonus recipe, since peaches are starting to show up at the local farm stands:

Spicy Peach Dressing

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Purée all of the ingredients, except oil, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Continue to blend, on low, while adding oil slowly. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate.

Spinach Chicken Salad

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 small sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb cleaned baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1 peach, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces crumbled bleu cheese or chevre

Place the chicken in a plastic zipper bag with ½ cup of dressing. Marinate 2 hours in refrigerator. Remove chicken, discard marinade and grill until cooked through (170 degrees at center).

Toss the spinach, onion, walnuts and cheese with the remaining 3/4 cup dressing. Slice the grilled chicken and arrange on top of the salad.

Serving: 4 to 6

Enjoy! – TaMara



 

Summer Menus: July Week One

JeffreyW makes dill potato salad

I didn’t forget as July began that we needed the first of the month’s menus. But last week my house (and thus my office) was chaotic. I had many, many worker bees doing major energy upgrades, including installing a high efficiency furnace and conditioning the crawl space. The net result so far is my house has been about 10 degrees cooler on the hottest day.

Needless to say, I did not get a lot of work done, so Friday and Saturday were spent catching up. Today I was able to get to the menus.

Tuesday being 4th of July, the recipes are picnic ready and can easily be doubled for a big group. Including a traditional Potato Salad.

Click here for all the menus and recipes: July Week One Menu

JeffreyW’s tasty looking marinated pork chops

I’m counting on a heatwave so the rest of the week is grilling and cold salads. Monday features Marinated Pork Chops and Grilled Pineapple.

Complete shopping lists are here: July Week One Shopping List. Remember they are color coordinated, so it’s easy to eliminate any items if you are skipping a recipe.

The week finishes out with Fajita Steak Salad and Grilled Asparagus.  If you grill the steak the night before (to serve cold), you can broil the asparagus instead of grilling it.

Photo from JeffreyW, of course 😉

That’s it for this week’s menus. Later today I’ll try and put together a collection of our July 4th recipes we’ve posted over the years.



Summer Menus: June Week Four

All this week’s photos are from JeffreyW’s library

This week, at the bottom of the menus is a list of substitutions and ideas, save that for future weeks.

As we finish up June, there are more grilling recipes and a couple of quick and simple meals for those busy days when being in the kitchen needs to be kept to the minimum.

Here are June’s menus and recipes: June Week Four Menu (click for printable PDF)

Monday features Chicken Carbonara.  Along with a Sautéed Mushroom Salad

Thursday, Toasted Tuna Sandwiches are paired with a tasty chilled Wild Rice Salad, that can be prepared ahead of time for an easy dinner.

And Friday’s Kid Friendly recipes include Quesadillas and a sweet summer salad.

Click here for the shopping lists: June Week Four Shopping List. Remember they are color coordinated to the menus, so easy to eliminate any ingredients when you skip a recipe. (You skipped a recipe?!? 🙂 )

What’s on your menu this week? Let me know in the comments if you have a question about any of the meals.

Enjoy!



Summer Menus: June Week Three

We’re partying there tonight. Bixby turned three.

Here are the menus for week three: June Menu Week Three

Highlights: Grilled Salmon with Orange Glaze (Thursday) Greek Grilled Potatoes (Monday) and a yummy Chocolate Orange-Cream ice cream treat (Friday).

Here are the shopping lists – remember they are color coordinated so you can easily eliminate any recipe ingredients you aren’t going to use.  June Week Three Shopping List

If you have any questions on any of the recipes, hit the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. What’s on your plate this weekend?

Have a great weekend!



 

Weekly Menu: June Week Two

Wednesday is Tomato-Pasta Salad

Sorry for the delay, as you can see here I had a big project yesterday. Continuing with our summer menu project, here are this week’s menus, recipes and shopping lists. Lots of garden fresh ingredients and grilling as summer kicks into gear.

JeffreyW has a great blueberry harvest. Perfect for Wednesday’s Blueberry-Lemon Parfait

For  the PDF of week two menus and recipes, click here: June Week Two Menus

Shopping lists are here: June Week Two Shopping List

Don’t forget the staples, here.

Monday is Cranberry Grilled Chicken and Minted Cucumbers

That’s it for this week’s menus. You can find last week’s menu, recipes and shopping list here.

What’s on your menu this week?



 

Something New For Summer: Weekly Menus

Shrimp and Pasta by JeffreyW

Wednesday’s recipe: Shrimp and Pasta

So a long time ago, before I started this blog, I ran a little business creating weekly menus for subscribers, called…you guessed it…What’s 4 Dinner Solutions. It included 30-minute recipes and complete shopping lists for weekday dinners. I found as life got busier the past few months, I began relying on my library of menus and recipes.

With that in mind, I decided that I should begin sharing them with you.

Click here for the menu and recipes for the the first week:  June Menu Week One

Jeffrey W makes the most delicious sandwiches.

Friday’s recipe: Spicy Club Sandwiches

I’ll post on Fridays so if you want to use them, you’ll have them for the weekend shopping excursions. The shopping lists are actually color coordinated with the menus so if you don’t use a menu, just cross out anything that is the same color.

Click here for the shopping lists: June Week One Shopping List

Both the menus and shopping lists are PDFs you should be able to print out easily.

The shopping lists do not include pantry staples, those are here:

 

Hit the comments with any questions you might have.  I hope you enjoy! – TaMara

Friday Recipe Exchange: Slow-Cooker Meals By Request

I received a request from The Mighty Trowel, friend of blog from Down Under, for some slow-cooker recipes as they move into fall.  I think Slow-cookers are one of the most versatile appliances in the kitchen – you can make a nice pot roast dinner, or recipes as simple as soups and stews. The best part is coming home from work or long hike and know dinner is ready to go and the house smells wonderful.

For recipes, let’s start with JeffreyW’s Italian Beef, pictured above and the recipe here.

A surprisingly easy and tasty Spinach Lasagna recipe is here.

Pulled Pork two ways, click here for both, makes great sandwiches or wraps, .

Then something different, and a childhood favorite meal, Brunswick Stew, recipe here. (Posting this makes me smile, because the last time I posted the recipe, commenters informed me that REAL Brunswick Stew is made with squirrel. You’re welcome to substitute as needed).

And finally, a Turkey Bean Soup,  recipe found here.

For all our slow-cooker recipes, click here and here.

I also posted my updated recipe for Extra Crispy Oven Fried Chicken today, you can find it here.

What’s on your menu this weekend? Have any slow-cooker recipes to share with The Mighty Trowel – I’m sure they would be appreciated. Vegetarian recipes would be great, we like to do at least one a week here, so new ideas are always welcome.

I really like tonight’s featured recipe because it is very simple, but so very tasty. I often make it when I have a crowd visiting. The recipe below serves 4 and I always double it.  It’s a great recipe for letting everyone help themselves when they are hungry. I toss the pasta with olive oil and put it in the refrigerator and leave the beef simmering in the slow-cooker on low for the entire day. They can mix the two when they are hungry. The longer the beef cooks, the better it gets. It’s always a hit with everyone.

Portuguese Beef & Pasta

  • 1 lb round steak, cut into thin strips, remove excess fat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (reserve ¼ for beans)
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz dry macaroni**

Slow-Cooker and saucepan

Add beef, salt, pepper, onion, green pepper, garlic, paste, diced tomatoes, water, bay leaf & red pepper to Slow-Cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low) until beef tears easily with a fork. In saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well (you don’t want any water in your beef mixture) and mix beef and pasta in serving bowl.



Friday Recipe Exchange: Corned Beef and Cabbage, Reprise

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Corned beef is really one of the perfect foods to do in a pressure cooker. You get a nice, tender beef and instead of mushy, colorless vegetables, you get perfectly cooked vegetables infused with that great corned beef broth flavor.

Tonight’s featured recipe uses a bit of dill pickle juice in place of some of the water and a touch of spicy brown mustard. But I saw recipes that used chicken broth, sherry or beer in place of some of the water. I think you should experiment and use what sounds good to you. I really  like dill pickle juice. And I have become a big fan of Napa cabbage with my corned beef.

A lot of recipes call for 3-4 lbs of corned beef. I picked up two, since both the pressure cooker and slow-cooker recipes are easy, you don’t need to save corned beef and cabbage for a special occasion. Just freeze the other one for another day.

I know I’ve been very busy and haven’t posted a lot of new recipes, but I have been doing a lot of cooking and just bought some new cookware (here). I’ll try and do better…I’ve got a great new technique for very, very crispy oven chicken and I’ll try and get that posted.

Are you a corned beef fan? Reuben’s anyone? What’s on your plate this weekend?

Now for the recipes:

JeffreyW tackles corned beef  leftovers – see his gallery of Corned Beef Sandwiches here. (lots of yummy pictures at those links)

My family weighs in on their favorite ways to fix corned beef, including grilling. (click here)

Now tonight’s featured recipes:

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef Dinner:

  • 3 to 4 lbs corned beef, trim the fat to about 1/4 inch
  • Water
  • Spices included with corned beef or the following: 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds,
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed – opt
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 – 6  medium to large potatoes, cut into four to eight pieces, peeling optional
  • 4-6 carrots, sliced in half and cut into 2” lengths
  • Cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 pieces – for a change of pace, I’ve used Napa cabbage to great success.

pressure cooker and cooking rack

Remove the corned beef from the brine (discarding the brine), rinse thoroughly and place in the bottom of the pressure cooker, fatty side up. [You don’t want to brown this beef, because it’s been brined.] Sprinkle spices over the top of the beef. Add enough liquid (water or water and a combination of ONE of the following: pickle juice, chicken broth, beer or wine) to come to the top of beef, about 3-4 cups usually.  Cover and bring to pressure and let cook for 1 hour. I use the cold water method to depressurize (that is when you run cold water over the pan in the sink, otherwise you can remove it from the heat and let slowly depressurize).

The key to getting the perfect corned beef and vegetables with the pressure cooker is to cook them separately. Prep the vegetables during the last 15 or so minutes of beef cooking time. Once the beef is done, put it on a cutting board, cover loosely in foil and put a towel over the whole deal.

Remove all but enough liquid to come to the bottom of the cooking rack when placed in the pressure cooker. Place potatoes first on the tray, then carrots and then cabbage, cover and bring to pressure. Cook for about 12 minutes. The vegetables will be fork tender, not mushy and the beef will be fully rested. Slice, plate and serve.

For the slow-cooker:

Place rinsed beef in the bottom of the slow-cooker, sprinkle spices, add liquid to come to the top of the beef,  and cover. Cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, add potatoes and then carrots. Cook additional 4 hours, adding the cabbage during the last 30 minutes. With the exception of adding the vegetables, try to resist the temptation to open the lid. You need it to stay covered to properly cook. Let the meat rest, covered with foil for about 15 minutes before carving.

There you go, some easy ways to put together a nice corned beef dinner.

Enjoy your weekend and watch out for leprechauns… – TaMara



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Holiday Sweet Treats, Something For Everyone

While I’m busy baking away today, here are some previous goodies from 2014:

Assorted Cookies1

Lots of cooking going on. And look what Santa dropped off early:

Mystery Machine

Just in time to hold the assortment of cookies I made this week. Most of them are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Let’s get right to it. Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Not pictured because I still have to make them, Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies, recipe here. I love these because you’d never know they were flourless and they taste like brownie bites.

Looking for side dishes for your holiday dinner? You can click here for a lot of different types. And for the pet lovers, Bixby posted an update here and here is photo evidence of how the cats torment him, try not to laugh, it hurts his feelings.

How about you, what’s on your menu for the holidays? Share your holiday traditions, both edible and otherwise.

Mexican Russian Pecan Cookies

Tonight’s featured recipe had a bit of a serendipitous beginning. I was having lunch with friend LFern and told her I was still working on what type of cookies I was going to make for my gift boxes. LFern mentioned she really liked Russian Tea Cakes. I’d never heard of them, so I googled, figuring I’d surprise her with them in her gift box. Turns out they are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. Next day I was visiting friends Larilyn and Alton (not that one) and what do they bring out to go with the coffee? Mexican Wedding Cookies. Turns out Al calls them Mom’s Pecan Cookies and he shared his mom’s recipe with me. So no matter what you call them, they are tasty.

Pecan Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts pecans
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Preaheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. At this point, I mixed by hand until the dough stuck together and was smooth.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough, roll into shape and place on baking sheet

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack covered with wax paper (keeps the sugar mess to a minimum) to cool.

You have to roll them in powdered sugar while they are still hot, which hurts like hell for the first two, but after that, your fingers are coated in powdered sugar and it acts like a heat shield and you’ll be fine. Look, holiday gift baking isn’t for wussies. It’s an extreme sport.

After they cooled, I coated them with more powdered sugar for a festive look.

That’s it for…this year. We won’t have another recipe exchange until January. But I will be posting the recipes for Christmas Eve dinner between now and Christmas. The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Thanks for coming along for the ride – TaMara

Christmas balls