Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday: Butternut Squash Pasta

Happy Saturday. This is so easy it will not take away from your weekend fun at all!

This was a test recipe in honor of fall and the many beautiful squash that can be found at local farms and in the grocery store.
We like the recipe, but would like to make it again and use different spices. We felt like it was a little bland and could use a kick or too!
But, it is super simple and can be a fun family experiment so give it a try.

What you will need:
Squash (I cheated and used frozen squash because it was almost free at meijer the other day and I wanted to use it.)
1/2 cup of whole cream (you should already have this if you made yesterdays meal).
Any kind of noodles
Spices: chili powder, cinnamon
Sugar
I would suggest some nutmeg and sage, perhaps?

Step one:
Place your squash into a little olive oil in a pan and heat.

Step two:
Add your spices and continue to heat.

Step three:
Add 1/2 cup of cream and stir. Continue to heat.





I suggest tasting it, adding some salt and pepper and spicing it up anyway you see fit! I ended up adding a lot of cinnamon and chili powder. I wish I had nutmeg and sage. I have a feeling that would be good.

Step four:
Serve over your noodles and eat!



This sauce freezes very well for future use. I think it would be great to use as a filling in ravioli. I will test this out for you all in a couple of weeks!

By the way this was a very frugal and healthy meal!

*******If you are using fresh squash, which I highly suggest this season, you will need to peal, cut it up, rub olive oil and spices on it and roast it until mushy. Then follow the directions above.********

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friday: Spinach Polenta Bake

This meal is simple and healthy. It is one of those unusual meals that will surprise you with how easy it actually is to prepare.
Plus there is a bonus treat to it too which I will explain in a bit.

Now~ I did make one mistake when meal planning this week. Yesterday I prepared chili and cornbread. Today I made polenta. Both cornbread and polenta are basically corn meal. In the future I would space these meals out by a couple of days. However, we received no complaints around the table tonight.

What you will need:
Instant Polenta
Salt and Pepper
Spinach (frozen chopped is fine!)
Gorgonzola cheese (it is a crumbly cheese with a strong smell/flavor)
1 cup of Cream
*Some kind of tomato sauce, home made or jarred. I cheated and used Prego this time around. It was still very yummy!

What to do:

1. Start by making your instant Polenta, which is as easy as boiling water and adding the polenta. It cooks incredibly fast and will have the consistency of cream of wheat.
I was cooking for three people and used one cup of polenta to three cups of water.
This was the perfect amount for us. You can modify this depending on how many people you are cooking for.




2. When your polenta is finished salt and pepper it real good. You will need to find a pan or slab where you can put your polenta to let it cool. I like to wet the bottom of the cookie sheet to help the polenta not stick. Now spread it out real nice, do not worry if it is not perfect. Mine never is! I do like to try and square it up a bit.
Important: Leave the polenta alone now and let it sit and cool for about an hour. You can put it into the fridge to speed this up a bit.




3. Meanwhile, make the spinach. Now this is the treat. The spinach tastes just like dip that you might eat with delicious crackers. The entire time I was waiting for my polenta to finish we were eating the spinach as dip with ritz crackers. Next time, I am making a double batch of this!
The dip/filling: In a pot place 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of Gorgonzola cheese. SLOWLY bring to a boil. If you are using frozen spinach make sure to drain it really well before putting into the pot. I like to put mine in a food processor to make it really small. After your cream/Gorgonzola is boiling put your spinach into the pot and stir. Now, start digging in with some crackers and enjoy!





4. After your polenta has sat for an hour (or less if it was in the fridge) you will want to cut it into squares.






5. Spread your spinach dip across one side of the polenta.




6. Flip the other side up onto it making a polenta/spinach sandwich.


7. Place in oven (350) for 45 minutes.

8. Heat up a little bit of tomato sauce and place it on the polenta before serving.




Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thursday: Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread

Oh my word. This was a new recipe and it was hearty and warm! I LOVE how healthy this meal was and the best part of it is that my husband did not even realize how packed this was with vegetables and beans.

Here is what you will need, but you can modify this any way you like:
1/2 Onion
2 Green Peppers
1 Jalapeno Pepper
3 (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes (or used self canned ones,even better!)
1 Cup Kidney Beans
1 Can Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
1 Cup Black Beans


Now, this is important. You CAN use canned beans, I do not. If you use can beans you can skip step one. If you garden fresh beans or those from a bag remember to clean them, soak them, and boil them until tender. This means you must start your chili a couple of hours early.


When your beans are finished cooking allow them to sit for a minute while you blend the vegetables. Put them all together into your food processor to make a nice green spicy paste. OR you can chop them up, saute them a bit in a pan and add to the chili. I use the food processor so that my husband will eat the chili without any complaints!
Just look at these vegetables! (You will see mushrooms in my photo, I just happened to have some and added them).




Mix your green compote together with your beans and add your spices:
Cumin, 2 Bay Leaves, 1/4 cup of chili powder, Garlic cloves



Now, add your tomatoes! Stir.


Place your chili over cornbread and enjoy. Freeze any leftovers for another chilly fall day!


For my cornbread I use a iron skillet and this:

Wednesday: Poppy Seed Chicken

MMMMMMmmmm! This is a family favorite!


What you will need:
1. Your leftover chicken from yesterday (if you did not do this meal you can still make this meal. Just boil a few chicken breasts, remove fat, and cut into small pieces).
2. Softened cream cheese
3. Stick of butter
4. Poppy Seeds
5. Ritz (or generic) crackers
6. Can of cream of chicken soup


Preparation: Take out your stick of butter and cream cheese so that it can soften a little while before you prepare this meal.


Place your cream cheese, butter, and one can of cream of chicken soup into a large mixing bowl and mix until creamy.



Next, add your chicken and stir this all together. Place into a casserole dish. Here you can bake it (45 minutes) OR you can place this in your fridge until you are ready to bake it. I like to make this in the morning so that dinner is basically finished and all I have to do is pop it into the oven later!




When you are ready to bake place the dish into the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping!

Heat 1/4 stick of butter, crush a sleeve of ritz crackers and add a few teaspoons of poppy seeds.


Place the topping onto the hot casserole and bake for 10 more minutes. Serve and Enjoy. We had this meal with homemade applesauce and steamed carrots.



For whatever reason this makes super yummy leftovers!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday: Rosemary Chicken and Risotto

This was a delicious and simple healthy meal.

What you will need for the Rosemary Chicken:
One whole chicken (Meijer has them on sale this week for .98 a pound)
Rosemary
Olive Oil
Salt
Lemon Juice

What you will need for the Risotto:
One package of Rice-a-Roni Wild Rice (just a little over a dollar in stores)
Several Mushrooms
1/4 of a small onion
Salt/Pepper
Oregano
Basil
Vegetable broth (not necessary, but makes it a bit tastier!)

PREPARATION:
A few hours before you bake your chicken put it into a pot of cold water with some salt. This will help the chicken remain moist during cooking. Put a lid on the pot and stick into into your fridge until you are ready to bake.


When you are ready to bake the Chicken remove it from the pot of water and place it into a baking dish. Rub olive oil, lemon juice, and rosemary onto the chicken. Make a little mixture of the above rub and place into the bottom on the pan. For fun, this time around I added 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and it was so yummy. You can do the same, but it is not necessary for this recipe.



Place your chicken into a preheated oven of 350 degrees. The basic rule of thumb is cook your chicken for 20 minutes per pound, or until ready. I tend to like to lower my oven to 275 and cook for longer. This results in a very tender chicken.

When your chicken is finished cooking remove from the oven and make your Risotto. Cut your chicken into slices, leaving no chicken pieces behind (as you can use all leftover chicken for the meal tomorrow night!)

To cook your Risotto, the easy way, follow the directions on the box of Rice-A-Roni.


While the rice is just staring to cook cut up a little bit of onion and a few mushrooms. Add them to your rice mixture.



I like to add a little bit of vegetable stock, fresh basil and oregano to the pot as well. I think that these give a wonderful flavor to compliment the "earthiness" of the long grain rice.


The Risotto is finished when the liquid is all but soaked into to rice. Let sit for a few moments to cool and finish thickening.

Serve your Rosemary Chicken and Risotto together.


My husband HATES onions and would not touch mushrooms. He ate his Risotto and did not even know that I had added these healthy touches to the box.


Save all leftover chicken for tomorrows meal!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday: Caribbean Kala Balls and Coconut Rice

MONDAY

We have just returned from the Caribbean and I thought that in honor of those fine folks and their delicious cooking I would try my hand at a local favorite.
This is a very simple and healthy main course, but it may require some convincing.

This meal does require that you put the beans into water the night before you make it! Just stick the beans in water before you go to bed at night and stick them in the fridge.

It is a vegetarian dish and can javascript:void(0)
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What you will need for the KALA Balls:
Black-Eye Peas
Flour
Cayanne Pepper
Egg Whites
Olive Oil (or another healthy oil)

What you will need for the Coconut Rice:
2 cups long grain rice, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt



What to do for the Kala Balls:
1. Place black-eyed peas into a container, and cover with several inches of water. Allow to stand for 12 hours.
2. Drain the water from the black-eyed peas. Place peas into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until coarsely ground. Stir in the egg whites, salt, flour, and cayenne pepper to taste until dough consistency. Add more flour if necessary to hold the mixture together. Form into small balls, each about 2 inches diameter.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully drop the balls into the hot oil, and fry until brown, about 5 minutes. You may need to lower the heat slightly after cooking the first kala balls. Turn frequently to brown evenly on all sides.

What to do for the Coconut Rice:
1. Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until the rice is finished. Some people like to add a bit of coconut to the finished product for taste and texture.

The Coconut Rice and Kala Balls are served together and make an easy, fun Caribbean dish. Don't forget to wear your favorite tropical outfit and follow up with a slice of Key Lime Pie!

The entire week's meal plan and the grocery list is below!

The Tasty Green Meal Plan (Monday-Sunday)

Welcome Autumn!

This week we are eating meals that are packed with vegetables and fruits harvested in this wonderful chilly season. Think pumpkins, apples, and sweet butternut squash.

This weeks meal plan is:

Monday~ Caribbean Kala Balls and Coconut Rice
Tuesday~ Rosemary Chicken and Herb Risotto
Wednesday~ Vegetarian Chili and Corn Bread
Thursday~ Poppyseed Chicken Casserole and Homemade Applesauce
Friday~ Layered Polenta Bake and Cinnamon Pears
Saturday~ Butternut Squash Pasta and Blackberry Cobbler
Sunday~ Pumpkin Tomato Basil Soup in Homemade Bread Bowls


This is the grocery list for the entire week, but I will repeat what is needed on each recipe daily as a reminder and an easy way for you to organize. In our home the leftovers from these meals will be used for lunches during the week. The chili and the soup will be frozen for meals later in the month.

Produce:
1 jalapeno pepper
2 green bell peppers
A pear for each member of your family
Bag of apples
Carrots
Spinach
Corn
Butternut Squash
Mushrooms
Tomatoes (alternate: 2 large cans of tomato puree)
Small pumpkin (alternate: can of pumpkin puree)
Blackberries (or your favorite cobbler fruit)

Grains/Rice/Pasta:
Wild Rice
Arborio Rice
Black Beans
Kidney Beans
Garbanzo Beans
Cannelli Beans
Black Eyed Peas
(All beans can be either bagged or canned, whichever your prefer)
Favorite whole wheat pasta (any type!)
Instant polenta or basic ground cornmeal

Dairy:
Cream Cheese (1 package)
Pint of whole cream
Gorgonzola cheese

Meat:
Whole Chicken (Miejer has them on sale this week for .98 a pound)
Four Chicken breasts (or use leftovers from the whole chicken if you buy a big enough one!)

Canned/Packaged:
Ritz Crackers
1 vegetable broth
1 chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
Coconut

Seasoning:
Basil
Oregano
Cumin
Chili Powder
Bay Leaves
Cinnamon
Rosemary




You will also need a few staples such as flour, sugar, butter, and milk~ but not much.

This is going to be a delicious week!