Tag Archives: comfort food

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 44 (10/28/13-11/1/13)

I learned several things about my family’s eating habits this week:

  1. We all hate tortellini.
  2. The Toddler is not a fan of ANYTHING contained within ANY red-hued sauce.
  3. Big Daddy will not eat soup unless it is presented to him and he has no other choice. But he still considers ‘soup-eating’ a form of torture.
  4. Just because The Toddler enthusiastically devours a food right now, that doesn’t mean she’ll want to eat it again. Ever.

That said, last week‘s Tortellini Spinach Bake went to waste (refer to items 1 & 2 above), and I ate a lot of Creamed Chicken & Corn Soup (refer to #3). I didn’t really mind that part though, because it was delicious. And in reference to note #4, the Skillet Enchilada Pasta that I made a few weeks ago and pulled out of the freezer for The Toddler’s lunch wasn’t such a hit the second time around. She basically wouldn’t touch it with TWO ten foot poles. This was so strange, considering the fact that she consumed roughly 14 servings at one sitting the first time she was presented with the same skillet enchilada pasta.

Fickle little beasts, aren’t they?

In conclusion, I’m going to attempt to cook some food that my family will actually eat this week (you’re welcome, family). As much as Big Daddy focuses most of his food-related attention toward healthy basic foods (read: boring), the things that never go to waste in our house are inevitably those of a ‘comfort food’ variety.

For instance, this Tater Tot Casserole barely saw the light of day before it was devoured. And now that I’m eyeballing it again, it’s sorta making me drool. Oh, sorry…was that TMI? But seriously, it’s really good. Once, I ate this casserole for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. It was a well-balanced day, obviously.

If we were identifying my Perfect Food Day, it would probably look like this:

Breakfast:

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I dream of this beautiful combination of homemade scones, jam, and clotted cream on a regular (almost daily) basis. I had this for the first time when I was in Scotland (The Motherland…) during a trip to the UK with my family in 2011. I was pregnant with The Toddler, and I ate this combination for breakfast (in both Scotland and Ireland) no less than 8 times during our 9 day stay. And now, I live daily with the reality that there is no such thing as a good scone in Maryland. So I try to make them myself…and they don’t even come close. Then I cry and eat a pancake instead.

Lunch:

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I’ve been in love with various iterations of Asian soup for the last 3 years. The most common recipes you’ll see me searching and printing are for Asian-themed soups. I can’t get enough, and I love the (usual) simplicity of throwing them together. As long as you have a few staple ingredients, you can put a great, satisfying soup together in just a few minutes. The exception to this is when I embark on my monthly journey of making Pho broth. That’s definitely an all-day affair, and requires a trip to the Asian market (one of my favorite places in the whole universe), but it’s totally worth it in the end. It took me FOREVER to find a reliable recipe, but this one works really well for me (just in case you’re in the market for some Pho broth).

Dinner:

mare_roasted_vegetable_meatloaf_with_mustard_mashed_potatoes_h[source]

For me, this is the ultimate comfort food combination. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed or veggies…perfection.

So there is really no actual problem with this “Perfect Food Day”. Unless you consider the fact that 2 out of 3 members of the Smithstrong household wouldn’t touch 2 out of 3 of these meals. Sometimes it’s a challenge to please everyone, and I only have to worry about a family of 3 right now. I have no idea how larger families can manage everyone’s food preferences while still making sure everyone is eating what they need.

This week, I’ve attempted to pull together recipes that will please everyone in my family, and I’m not going to over-cook. I seem to be making TOO MUCH food, and I don’t want to do that. I’ll reduce a recipe by 1/2 if it seems like it’s too much. I really don’t want to waste anything this week. I hate throwing away food. In my brain, the trash can yells, “CHA CHING! CHA CHING! CHA CHING!” as the food goes in. It’s tragic.

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

With any luck, the new recipes will be keepers, and I can reduce wasted food this week!

I’m not going to bore you with the details, but the baby countdown is now approaching 10 days. Yikes! This is really happening, folks!

Click for all of the recipes, grocery list, and menu!

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 43 (10/21/13-10/25/13)

Believe it or not, I really did plan a menu last week. Sorta. I cooked a few recipes (you can see them on my Pinterest), but I couldn’t find the time/motivation/brain cells to put together the whole shebang.

Truthfully, I’m SUPER PREOCCUPIED right now with getting my house ready for the baby to arrive. I did this to some degree when I was pregnant with baby 1.0, but it seems to be slightly more amplified this time. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that we bought our house and moved in September 2011, and then The Toddler was born in March.

You know how you move your stuff into a new house, and then you end up rearranging the furniture again 6 months later because you realize after living and breathing in the house for a while that the chair you put in THAT CORNER isn’t going to work because every time you open the closet door, it bangs into the chair? Yeah…it’s sort of like that.

So now I’m nesting, and my “MUST IMMEDIATELY MOVE ALL OF THE THINGS INTO THEIR PROPER PLACES” has kicked into overdrive.

So I won’t bore you here with the details about my kitchen and dining room master plan…because you’re probably just here for a menu. If you want to read more about that, you can check out the details on House Becomes Home (in which you’ll learn more than you likely ever wanted to know about my broken garbage disposal and gold-trimmed ceiling fan).

This week, I’m ahead of the game. It’s Thursday, and I’m done with the menu. This is a new record.

The recipe I’m most excited about this week…

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Because really…anything that contains tater tots is pretty special to me.

Here’s the new recipes this week:

Just a couple of notes–

*For the Creamed Chicken & Corn soup, you can make your own cream of chicken soup rather than using a canned version. There are all kinds of Cream of Chicken recipes online, but I like Pinch Of Yum’s recipe the best because it’s super easy, quick, and it tastes good (3 things I can never argue with when it comes to a recipe).

*Also, for that same recipe…please make your own homemade creamed corn. It’s SO MUCH better than the yucky canned version. I use this recipe from The Hungry Housewife…and I love creamed corn, so I have to seriously pace myself when I make this recipe.

And the recycled recipes:

You can find all of the recipes, the menu & grocery list on box.net. Keep in mind that I didn’t add the ingredients for homemade cream of chicken soup or homemade creamed corn to the grocery list, so if you want to make those from scratch, make sure to add them (and omit the canned versions from the grocery list).

I hope the weather is beautiful this weekend for you! It’s finally starting to feel like fall in Maryland, and this makes me very happy.

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 39 (09/23/13-09/27/13)

Happy Friday!!

It’s starting to feel like Fall in Maryland! YAY!! I was beginning to wonder if we were actually going to have a fall this year, considering that we were pushing 90 degree temperatures up until this past week. Lame.

Last week’s menu was fairly-well executed in the Smithstrong household. The only thing that did not happen was the chicken and noodles, despite the fact that I did actually “roast” the chicken for the recipe (I use this recipe to “roast” it in the Crock Pot, which works and tastes amazingly well). It turned out that Big Daddy ended up eating the chicken by itself anyway, so it wasn’t a total bust.

And, we thoroughly ate the heck out of the Tater Tot Casserole.

tater tot

Um yum.

In fact, I just ate the last of this for breakfast today. Yes, for breakfast. And it was delicious.

I wasn’t entirely convinced about this recipe before I made it, but it has officially been starred and bubbly-hearted in my binder so that I remember to make it again in the future. So delicious.

In addition to the Tater Tots we thoroughly enjoyed, the Toddler has been enjoying her exciting Bento-style lunches. Admittedly, it takes me a bit longer to organize her lunches in the evenings (I am not a morning-lunch-packer because I enjoy sleep too much), but it might add an extra 10 minutes to the process. Not a deal breaker for me, considering how excited she reportedly gets every day when she gets to search for the “BUNNY!/DOGGY!/KITTY!/BEAR BEAR!” in her Bento box.

I probably would’ve loved this as a child, so I’m likely just projecting…but that’s another story for another day.

If you want to read all about my Adventures in Toddler Bento Lunches, I wrote a whole post about it here. I didn’t want to bore anyone who is just here for a menu with my ramblings about making lunches for The Toddler. You’re welcome.

I had a really difficult time picking out recipes this week because of all of the delicious fall DESSERTS that are clogging up my Pinterest feed. I cannot stop thinking about pumpkin donuts, apple pie, and all things sweet and fall-y…so of course there’s no room for legitimate food in my brain. I did my best, but I really wanted to keep it simple in terms of cooking because Mama wants to have some fun (and not be testing her pregnant feet for 6-8 hours in the kitchen on Saturday/Sunday).

Hence, I searched the word “casserole” on Pinterest, and an enormous list of beautifully-constructed casseroles appeared. It’s magic, that Pinterest!

Casseroles are almost always a big hit in our house, so I pretty much can’t go wrong.

Nacho Casserole won, because really…who doesn’t love anything that resembles a taco? Just us?

Nacho-Casserole[source]

And I couldn’t get past the anticipated cranberry-orange goodness of these.

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Mmmmm…just try to resist the allure of the cranberries. You can’t.

So here’s the lowdown for next week:

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

I’m enjoying the fact that I have just as many new recipes as I do recycled recipes lately. That means that my grand plan is working out beautifully. Less cooking! More time for fun!

Everything you need (menu, recipes, plan & grocery list) is hanging in the folder on Box.com!

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 38 (9/16/13-9/20/13)

Just a quick and dirty post today, considering that it’s Sunday and I haven’t grocery shopped yet.

Let’s just say that Friday I was lazy, yesterday I was overly ambitious (to the tune of a 5 hour cleaning marathon), and today I’m playing catch up on the food-front. It happens.

But you should get excited, because there’s this.

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New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

Optional Recipe:

 

Here’s a folder with all of the files you could possibly need for the week… Week 38 Menu, Recipes, Grocery List & Plan.

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 37 (9/9/13-9/13/13)

So in case you were wondering, I obviously blew the menu off last week. That’s sort of how I do things…I’m a little unpredictable at times. I decided that I didn’t want to grocery shop for anything more than produce last week, so I declared it a week of “winging it”! Hopefully, you were able to survive off of recycled recipes for the past week. I’m sure you were just fine without me.

Besides not wanting to spend money on groceries, I was also frazzled from being away for Labor Day weekend. The family and I (dogs included) traveled 400 miles north to visit my NY family one last time before baby boy arrives. Actually, it’ll be the last time we make that trip until the end of March 2014, since I am not a fan of snow…and snow sometimes lasts until April in Central NY.

I’ve safely entered into the “single digit” baby countdown now. I can’t believe that I will have a baby in 9 weeks or less. It feels impossible. Insane.

And my house isn’t clean!

And my freezer isn’t fully stocked!

And there are so many things that need to be obsessively organized!

Regardless of any of that, he’s still coming…and I’m never going to really feel prepared for his arrival, so I’m just going with it. Winging it. It’s my theme lately. For instance, last night, I came home from work with The Toddler, and rather than rush inside and get dinner started, I sat on the front lawn and talked to Big Daddy while he did yard work. All the while, The Toddler cavorted in the front lawn, plucking basil leaves out of the herb garden and playing in the dirt. Supervised, but I certainly wasn’t regulating how much basil (or dirt) she ate.

Then I went inside and ordered takeout.

It was glorious.

Sometimes, you just have to put down your schedule and wing it. I don’t allow myself to do that very often, but when I occasionally do, it’s sort of liberating.

That said, let’s talk about the new menu! [Since my brain can only handle the freedom of ‘winging it’ for so long, ya know].

My challenge as of late is that there is very little room in the belly anymore for food! It’s a sad situation for someone who loves food as much as I do. I have a difficult time even considering what to eat on a regular basis, because it takes forever before I don’t feel full from my previous meal. I’m not talking full. I’m talking FULL…from just eating a normal-size portion of food. I ate three 2″ x 2″ squares of pizza for lunch yesterday, and I felt full until 8PM. It’s completely unreasonable.

And meat kinda makes me feel pukey again. But I sure do love oyster crackers right now.

And chili.

plate-crock-pot-chicken-chili-con-queso-recipe

Yep, I realize that it’s chicken chili. What can I say…I’m a walking contradiction today.

Since we’re on the topic of food challenges. I’m having a bit of a challenge lately feeding the toddler, because she’s claiming to not like anything besides Chick-Fil-A nuggets and macaroni & cheese. It’s posing some challenges for me in the “keep the baby fed” front. She does generally eat a little better at daycare though, so in an effort to encourage at least 2 solid meals per day (she eats breakfast and lunch there), I’ve been packing her a daily Bento box that looks a little more fun than your average lunch.

If I’m being honest, I have way too much fun putting her lunches together now, so it’s about 45% selfish decision, and 55% trying to motivate her to eat.

I’ve been compiling ideas (and bento supplies) over the past couple of weeks, but I’m working on my skills. As we were driving to daycare this morning, I checked the passenger seat of my truck to ensure that I hadn’t forgotten her lunch on the counter at home. It wasn’t there. However, it WAS on the floor. Sideways. With applesauce inside the bento box. Unprotected. Leaking into the Earth Balance Cheese Popcorn.

I still need some practice.

I just started pinning to a board on Pinterest for Bento stuff if you want to check it out. It’s pretty cute. I try to only Pin the stuff that is possible for me to accomplish, because some of it is a little out of my realm (and patience level).

This one? Not likely.

unreasonable bento

I’m a relatively practical Bento-er. This is more my style:

practical bento

Except lunch meat freaks me out right now.

…so many issues!

But this isn’t therapy. You’re here for a menu, aren’t you?

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

Ok, I’m sure you’ve had enough of me for today.

Click for the box.com folder with the menu, recipes, plan & grocery list!

beth signature

 

 

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 35 (8/26/13-8/30/13)

Who’s ready for fall?

Me! Me!

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These adorable little stuffed peppers have been hanging out in my Pinterest feed for several months, but it just didn’t feel like it was time to make them yet. Now, it’s time. Don’t they look delicious? I did, however, have enough foresight to read the reviews of these Stuffed Peppers, and several people mention that they’re bland. I didn’t add it to the grocery list, but I’ll be adding some tomato paste into the mixture before I stuff the peppers. That should help combat the “bland” factor. So, if you want to also add tomato paste to yours, make sure to add this to your grocery list!

I am insanely excited about this recipe…

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Because, a) it contains pasta, and b) the pasta cooks right in the skillet, which is another of my most recent fascinations. I’m of course going to make it non-spicy so that I don’t make the toddler unhappy.

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

You can get the full menu, recipes, grocery list and game plan right here!

Have a great week!

beth signature

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 31 (7/29/13-8/2/13)

Vacation is over!

Blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I’ve so enjoyed not only the break from all of the general life-planning nonsense, but also SO ENJOYED being home for 2 weeks with my family. It’s amazing how different life feels when you have about 145,698 less distractions thrown at you on a daily basis. However, until I figure out a way to make money without actually working (or having the added stress), I will continue to plug away.

***sigh***

Since I brought most of my freezer food along for our trip to the beach (which came in extremely handy, by the way), the freezer is now looking pretty baron. I’ll do my best to build it back up over the next few months (before baby boy arrives), but I’m not going to stress myself out over it.

Next week’s menu doesn’t include anything overly-complicated. I’m still craving pasta, so of course there are 2 new pasta recipes on the menu. Sorry about that…kinda.

I have to also mention that I already made one of the recipes on next week’s menu because I so BADLY wanted to eat it tonight for dinner.

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And in conclusion…OH MY GOSH. I couldn’t stop eating this. I don’t know if it’s pregnancy or the gouda, but I couldn’t get enough. If you don’t make anything else, at least make this mac & cheese.

I was also bribed by Pinterest into adding this to the menu for next week…

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I love me some beef stroganoff, but something about the zucchini ribbons really seduced me. I haven’t made it yet, so I can speak to the deliciousness, but If it’s even 1/2 as good as the picture makes it look, I think I’ll be happy.

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

So here it is…the menu, the grocery list, and the game plan.

Have a lovely week everyone!

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 18

Another new week is upon us!

Guess what?

I’m STILL carb loading. Sorry guys. I’m only 5 days from the 2nd trimester, so I sincerely hope that I can report something different to you next week. But for now, mama is feeling gross still.

This menu, I’m most excited about this…

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Strangely, the recipe calls it “Poverty Meal Recipe”. That just sounds so…Oliver Twist to me. We had this on a weekly basis in my house growing up, but we just called it “goulash”. Isn’t that what this is? Still not the most appetizing name, but much better than eating anything with the word ‘poverty’ in the name.

So yeah. I’m most excited about eating poverty meal next week. That tells you so much about the place that my stomach is in right now. Comfort food is the name of the game.

I’m also excited about the “Banana Banana Bread”, but slightly less.

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But it looks yummy, doesn’t it?

So here we go

That’s it! I tried to keep it simple–mostly for selfish reasons, because my energy is at like -59% lately. Not a lot of hardcore cooking this week, just some basic boiling, baking, and combining of things.

Here’s the plan for the week, the grocery list, and the full menu with all of the recipes attached (in pdf format–just download it and open in Adobe to see the attachments).

I hope that everyone has a fantastic, lovely, wonderful week. And I also hope that I can get off the carbs next week. Fingers crossed. They’re delicious and all, but no.

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 15

I’m happy to report that, unlike during week 13, I only had one menu casualty last week. The Breakfast Muffins never happened, but that was perfectly fine, since I had plenty of previously-frozen Apple-Pear Bran Muffins.

Oh, the benefits of stocking your freezer never end!

Besides the fact that I had plenty of food to feed my family all week, the highlight of my week was definitely my birthday on Tuesday (!!!), and the celebration that ensued on Wednesday. My sweet husband took me out for Dim Sum and to see Adam Levine…I mean…Maroon 5. It was a great night, and tons of fun.

The beautiful thing was that my lovely daughter had food to eat for dinner while we were away. Since I had my menu planned, I was also able to pack her Thursday daycare food on Tuesday evening so that I didn’t have to make it on Wednesday when we got home at midnight. Or on Thursday morning when I was severely sleep-deprived. I can only imagine what I would’ve packed on Thursday morning.

This week I’ve made it a point to add things to the menu that you can eat during the week and also freeze for the future. Out of the 6 new recipes, 5 of them can potentially be frozen for the future. Just remember that if you plan to double (or triple) a recipe so that you can stock your freezer, you also have to increase the ingredients on your grocery list.

 

No slow cooker meals this week, but only because I wasn’t in the mood for anything that I came across.

It may sound selfish, but I’m probably the most excited about making (eating) my stuffed cabbage rolls.

Stuffed cabbage

Yum.

They’re one of my favorites, and I love the fact that the recipe makes so many, so I’m able to freeze one pan for later.

Here’s the menu for 04/08/13-04/12/13 the game plan , and the grocery list.

Just remember that items from the freezer are not included on the grocery list, so if you want to make those to stock your freezer for the future, be sure to add them to your grocery list! If you don’t want to make those items, and just substitute something you have on hand instead, that’s OK too. Eventually, you’ll have the same items stocked in your freezer as me, and you won’t have to substitute at all.

Have a great week!

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My Ridiculous Mac N Cheese

**this is a reincarnated recipe post from Joggerslife, so excuse the ancient references to cookie parties.**

Although I am a baker at heart, I also love cooking.  My favorite things to make are comfort foods, and I love nothing more than to whip up a huge pan of mac ‘n cheese or grits ‘n greens for potlucks and family parties.  [I also have an affinity for food names that have an ‘n in them].

One of my most requested contributions for parties is my mac ‘n cheese.  In the past, I’ve actually lay awake at night, conjuring up ways to make my mac ‘n cheese even better.  Now, I think that I’ve come to a resting point with the recipe.  Rather than try to change it any further, I’m going to leave it just the way it is.

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There are several things that I love about this recipe, but the one thing that puts it over the top is the pasta.  Please don’t use elbow noodles.  I’ll cry if I hear about it.  I promise you that it’s only about 32% as good when you use anything other than cavatappi or cellentani pasta.

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This one…the corkscrews!

I brought this ridiculicious mac ‘n cheese yesterday to the annual Cookie Party, and it was a total hit.  So much that it’s prompted me to post the recipe here, allowing me to share it with all of my blends as well as my real friends at once [hi friends!].  I only wish I had taken a picture yesterday of its’ beautifulness.  I guess you’ll just have to make it yourself!

Let me know if you try it.  I promise it’s delish.  This would be the perfect thing to bring to Mom’s house (or Grandma’s) for Christmas dinner.  Everyone will love it.

Beth’s Ridiculicious Mac & Cheese

2# Cavatappi or Cellentani Pasta (they hold the most cheesy goodness!)

1C White Zinfindel

1C Heavy Cream (or milk, if you must)

3 T Worcestershire Sauce

1 T Horseradish

1/2 T Garlic Powder

1 t Pepper

1 t Paprika

1 T all purpose flour

3 T Milk or water

24 Oz. Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (I buy the huge bag already shredded from Safeway)

12 Oz. Shredded Cheddar & Colby Cheese Blend  (Ditto above, but use only ½ the bag)

1-2 C Corn Flakes (crushed), or Bread Crumbs

1 C Fried Onions (canned or homemade)

1)   Boil pasta al dente, drain and set aside.  Noodles should be a little chewy, or they’ll end up mushy after you bake the mac n cheese! Reserve about 1 cup of the noodle water in case you need it later.

2)   In a large pot (think: big enough to hold all of the noodles and be able to stir and mix at will), bring the White Zinfindel to a low boil, and simmer on low/medium for about 3-5 minutes.  Whisk in the heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, garlic powder, pepper and paprika.   Simmer on low/medium for another 3-5 minutes.

3)   With the mixture still at a low simmer, start whisking in the shredded cheese gradually.  Keep the heat high enough to melt the cheese fully, but not high enough to burn.  Continuously stir the cheese as it melts, or it won’t make a nice smooth sauce.

4)   After all of the cheese has melted, whisk together the flour and milk/water until it’s fully dissolved and not lumpy anymore.  Turn up the heat on the cheese mixture slightly, then begin quickly whisking the flour/water into the cheese.  You have to do this quickly and whisk the whole time or it will end up lumpy.  After it’s all dissolved and combined, turn heat down to low/warm.

5)   Hot noodles work best, so if you weren’t able to keep them warm while you were making the cheese mixture, re-drain them in hot water to warm them up a bit.  Add the noodles to the cheese mixture in 3 parts, making sure not to add too many noodles to the cheese mixture.  I always end up with extra noodles in the end [which is perfectly fine with me…that means I have buttered noodles for days!  …oh, buttered noodles!]  If things get a little dry, just add in some of the reserved noodle water (from above).

6)   Top with crushed corn flakes or bread crumbs and fried onions.  Cover in foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, removing foil for the last 10 minutes.

7)   Eat!

Let me know if you make it–I’d love to know how it went!

Click for printable version!