Sunday, March 30, 2014

dining out- seared ahi salad









My husband and I snuck out to the Painted Pony restaurant for lunch one day last week.  If you are ever in St. George or anywhere close I recommend you go and get this salad.  It was absolutely incredible.  It was stacked on a skewer as you can see- layered crisp rice crackers, lettuce, sliced avocado, seared ahi, ginger...I can't remember what else but then the most fantastic wasabi ginger dressing was drizzled upon the delightful and memorable dish.  I told my husband we must make this salad a tradition.
And if you haven't been to St. George ever or in a while, it has "grown up" over the past 10 or more years.  It's a great town to visit and spend time in.  Take a picturesque hike and be sure to take your kids to the new and totally awesome St. George Children's Museum.  It was super fun- even my oldest loved goofing off there.

mom's banana squash










My mom made the best banana squash.  It deserves a post because it was sooo good despite that the men at the table (except for my husband) didn't care for it.  I thought it went perfectly with the grilled steak, mashed potatoes & gravy, french bread and salad that we enjoyed immensely.  The men in my extended family have a hard time veering from their standard meat and potatoes-more for the rest of us!

mom's banana squash
My mom started by peeling her squash.  Then, using all of her might, my mom diced the banana squash then put it into a pot.  She filled the pot with water until it was just above the squash then boiled it until it was tender.  Then she put it into the serving dish with some butter, salt and pepper.  Simple cooking. Boy was it tasty!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

chicken quesadillas with peppers










I highly recommend these for breakfast, lunch or dinner (I should say breakfast, lunch, AND dinner)- I have eaten them consecutively for my last three meals.   My husband said they tasted gourmet!

chicken quesadillas with peppers (pass the peas, please)
1 grilled chicken breast, thinly sliced (I used leftovers- I always have grilled chicken in the fridge)
1 cup chopped red, yellow and green frozen peppers from Trader Joes
sprinkling of cumin
few drops of olive oil
mozzarella cheese
tortillas (I used white and whole wheat)

Add a few drops of olive into a medium hot fry pan.  Add chicken and about a cup of frozen peppers.  Stir fry until heated through and add a sprinkling of cumin.  Mix thoroughly.
Heat a grill pan on low.  Place a tortilla on the pan.  Add 1/4 cup cheese.  Spread half of the chicken mixture on top of the tortilla.  Sprinkle another 1/4 cup over the top then cover with another tortilla.  Cook on low until you get nice lines on the tortilla.  Flip over.  Cook until cheese is melted and you have lines on the bottom side.
Slice into fourths and serve with green sauce.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

do you want to build a snowman?












My daughter went to a Frozen party this afternoon and had an amazing time.  She brought back "Olaf", a decorated snowflake sugar cookie, coloring pages, paper dolls, etc.  For dinner they had pasta with alfredo sauce (snow).  What a great party!  Just the other day my mom's first grade class had a Frozen party at the park and had a marshmallow fight.  My kids would love that!!

do you want to build a snowman? (my daughter made it)
3 marshmallows (2 for the body, 1 for the head)
2 pretzel sticks (arms and hair)
2 mini marshmallows (feet)
2 mini chocolate chips (eyes)
4 blue jolly ranchers (blocks of ice)
orange gum drop (torn to look like a carrot nose)
icing (for glue)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

menu for the week of march 16










menu for the week of march 16

sunday new mexico chicken soft tacos, refried beans with cheese
monday green eggs & ham (happy st. patrick's day!), pumpkin bread, applesauce
tuesday crockpot cashew chicken, basmati rice, pineapple
wednesday yogurt marinated chicken kabobs, basmati rice, fresh peppers with dip, sliced pears
thursday grilled cheese sandwiches, Campbell's bean with bacon soup, berry smoothie
friday homemade hoagies, chips, fruit salad
saturday panda express

note to self:  purchase a new crock pot before tuesday- mine broke last week-cannot live without!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

truffle brownies









My all-time go-to brownie recipe is my mint brownie recipe.  I've been wondering if there's a brownie equal to it so have tried a few new recipes but I don't think there's an equal to be had.  There's just something about chocolate and mint- you can't go wrong.  I gave this brownie a shot and served it with homemade vanilla ice cream and although it's not a layered mint brownie, it was a hit and I'd serve it again at a dinner party.  Two guests had seconds and I love to dish seconds!!

truffle brownies (adapted from Buttercream Bakehouse
1 box brownie mix, prepared in two 9x9 square pans lined with foil

truffle topping*
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature 

Once you have prepared your brownies according to package directions, you are ready to make the truffle topping.  (*NOTE:  this will make enough truffle topping for one of your pans of brownies.  You can either eat the other pan plain or double the topping and spread it over both pans of brownies)
Place your cream cheese in a mixer bowl and beat until creamy.  Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler until melted.  Add to the cream cheese and mix until completely combined.   Spread in an even layer over the brownies.  Place in the refrigerator to completely cool before cutting.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

dinner menu for the week of march 9










dinner menu for the week of march 9

sunday leftovers from last night- chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, creamy cucumber salad
monday  one pot spicy chicken with rice, strawberry banana smoothie
tuesday grandma castellano's spaghetti and meatballs, spinach salad, apple slices
wednesday salmon chowder, whole wheat bread, frozen blueberries
thursday new mexico chicken tacos, cheesy refried beans
friday take out pizza
saturday grilled chicken with lemon-cucumber relish, green salad
sunday burgers, veggie relish tray, orange slices

Saturday, March 8, 2014

creamy cucumber salad










I don't host dinner parties as often as I should but I am tonight and I am excited!  Three couples are coming over and we have quite a bit in common with them- work, church and kids.  And we're friends.  I'm excited because I am serving my very favorite recipe EVER as the main dish- Chicken Tikka Masala.  This is the side- cool, creamy and savory.  I'll throw out some pita chips with dips and some nuts as appetizers. We'll have truffle brownies and homemade ice cream for dessert but I'm sure our friends are going to come with some really yummy dishes to add to all that.  We're going to eat well tonight!

creamy cucumber salad (CHOW)
3 pack English cucumbers from Costco (2 to 2.5 pounds), sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
2 tablespoons fresh dill or chives or a combination of the two (I used dill)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place a colander or fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl.  Add the cucumbers and 1 teaspoon of the salt and toss to combine.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Line a work surface with 1 layer of paper towels.  Using your hands remove the cucumbers from the strainer and arrange them in a flat, even layer on the paper towels, top with another layer of paper towels, and gently press to absorb any moisture.  Discard the liquid in the bowl and wipe it dry (no need to wash).
Combine the sour cream, herbs, vinegar, pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the bowl.  Add the cucumbers and stir to evenly coat.  Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

sis.cooper's buckeye balls









We had the sister missionaries over for dinner on Sunday and served buckeye brownies for dessert because Sis. Cooper is from Ohio.  She mentioned that she'd planned to make buckeye balls the next day.  We didn't expect them to share them with us!  I love these gals- they're great.  Sis. Cooper's companion is Sis. Marble and she is from Arizona so I asked her what I could make for her.  She recommended chips and salsa and shared her salsa recipe with me.  We'll be trying it soon!

sis. cooper's buckeye balls (Sis. Cooper from Ohio)
1/4 pound butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
almond bark

Combine the butter or margarine, peanut butter and confectioner's sugar.  Roll into balls.  Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
Melt almond bark on the stove.
Poke a toothpick into the peanut butter balls.  Dip each ball into the melted almond bark.
Place on a sheet of wax paper to dry.

What Sis. Cooper says- she tripled the recipe and made 62 buckeyes so each batch makes about 20.  She new this recipe off the top of her head!  That's a buckeye for you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

buckeye brownies









When I saw these I knew I had to make them because they look pretty amazing. I thought of our friend John who is from Ohio as I pulled out the ingredients to make them.  I didn't know a lot about Ohio when  I met him (and I still don't) but one thing I learned about Ohio from him is this- being a Buckeye fan is just part of the culture.  John is a Buckeye.  We had the sister missionaries over for dinner on Sunday and one was from Ohio so I made these for her.  She said they made her feel right at home.

buckeye brownies (Lil' Luna)
1 box fudge brownie mix
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips

In a 9x13 prepared pan, make and bake brownie mix according to box directions.  Let cool.
In a bowl mix the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter and peanut butter.  Spread with fingers over the brownies and pat down (it has a consistency similar to playdough).  It helped me to wet my fingers because it was sticky!
Melt together 6 tablespoons butter and chocolate chips in a saucepan over low heat stirring constantly.  Spread over brownies.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

dinner menu for the week of march 2










dinner menu for the week of march 2

sunday  roast, mashed potatoes & gravy, asparagus, fresh baked bread, buckeye brownies (new recipe!)
monday  grilled fish tacos with chipotle lime dressing, cabbage salad, grapes, strawberry shortcake
tuesday  poppy seed chicken pita sandwiches (new recipe!), pretzel chips with dip, blueberries
wednesday  crock pot lemon chicken, steamed green beans, apple slices
thursday  sweet and sour chicken (new recipe!), basmati rice
friday  english muffin pizza casserole (new recipe!), carrots & celery sticks, lemonade
saturday chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, creamy cucumbers, truffle brownies (new recipe!)