Thursday, June 30, 2011

Have Some Cake, Little Big Brother

Oh where, oh where has Miss Meghan been? Baking cakes, of course. No, seriously.

Little Big Brother graduated from high school last weekend, so I, leaving the husband home to fend for himself with two brown doggies, took a much-needed break and headed north. 

My week looked a little like this:

The Momma was in charge of cutting.

OK, she was in charge of a lot of the frosting, as well.

homemade graduation cakes
And Little Big Brother's awesome girlfriend handled the M&Ms.

homemade graduation cakes
Take my word for it: I did more than just sample the cakes and take pictures.
I swear there were two more cakes that didn't make it on this table!

I hope all of you have been enjoying yourselves while I've been away. Are you looking forward to a nice long holiday weekend. Do you see cake in your future?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Venison Eaters Gather Here

Homemade Venison Burgers on Whole Wheat Ciabatta
How many days does it take two adults to eat 2 lbs. of venison? Well, we're on day four, and I think we still have about a quarter of a pound to go. We started with venison burgers Friday night. And, I know, it's Monday. This household is supposed to be meatless today, but we just couldn't do it. How could we not eat meat when we have venison in the house?! (Sorry, vegetarians. It's good stuff.) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

(Yesterday was) Meatless Monday: Polenta and Bean Casserole

The weekend was loooong – in a really good way. Needless to say, it left me not so ready to face Monday. I just wanted to stay in weekend mode for as long as possible. I guess I rebelled by not searching for a fabulous new recipe for our Monday night dinner. Instead I just searched through the pantry and came up with a Polenta and Bean Casserole. The husband didn't seem to mind and, I have to admit, I didn't think it was that bad, either. In fact, I ate it again tonight. I guess I'm still not admitting that the workweek is in full effect.

Polenta and Bean Casserole

Makes 4 servings at about 200 calories per serving

1/2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 TBSP Creole seasoning
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes and chiles
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
a dash of paprika
a dash of mixed-up pepper
9 TBSP cornmeal
2 cups water, give or take
a dash of salt
2 tsp Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and saute a few minutes. Add in the green pepper and let everything cook until the veggies get a little tender. (They don't have to cook much at all because they'll cook in the oven.) 

Stir in the Creole seasoning, evenly coating the veggies.

Add in the tomatoes, beans, paprika and pepper. (You may want to salt to taste, but I skipped this. I was worried the seasonings would have already made everything too salty.)

While you wait for the tomatoes and veggies to simmer, get another medium saucepan out for the polenta. Heat about 2 cups of water and a dash of salt over high heat. Once the water is boiling, quickly stir in the cornmeal; turn the heat down to low. The polenta will thicken quickly, so whisk, whisk, whisk! (I kept stirring until my polenta was probably just thicker than peanut butter. And if your tomatoes have been simmering for a few minutes by this point, no worries.)

Put the tomato and bean mixture in an 8x8 glass dish. Use a spatula to cover the veggies with the polenta and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the polenta has started to brown a little. Serve with nonfat plain yogurt, if you're a wimp like me. Serve with more Creole seasoning, if you're like my husband.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grow Your Own

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter ... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. "
John Burroughs

I usually give you a monthly update and let y'all know what I've been loving lately. Well, here it is. I spent plenty of evenings in the month of May loving my gardens - and creating barricades to keep brown dog feet out of them.

And just in case you're thinking it looks a bit messy behind the beds, here's a look at what that part of the yard looked like almost two years ago:

Yes, the husband was totally saying, "What the ... ?" 
Thank goodness he could see beyond the vines!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My (Banana) Muffin Man

healthy banana muffins

I eat a lot of fruit. No joke. On any given day, I'll eat an apple, blueberries or cranberries, pineapple chunks or an orange, and I almost always eat a banana. I love bananas. So it's odd that we've had so many overripe bananas in our kitchen lately. But the last thing I was going to do was throw them into the compost. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meatless Monday: Chickpea and Pasta Soup

It was a high of 96 at our house today and the husband still let me serve soup for dinner without complaining. I made soup for dinner - sans meat - and the man was happy. Do I have a keeper or what?

I'd love to share the recipe with you, but it's from a new cookbook that I'm working my way through in preparation of a review, so I don't want to ruin the surprise. All I'll say is that this was a glorious soup (sorry, I had to do it). The tomatoes, pasta and chickpeas were so good together; I'd definitely recommend the pasta shells, too. It was a nice surprise when I'd find a chickpea had worked its way into a shell and hidden. I told the husband I thought spinach would be a nice addition to our bowls, but he shook his head in disagreement. I asked him if he thought chicken would be better and he said most definitely.

So mark this down as a successful Meatless Monday. Yes, the recipe title has something like "Summer Soup" in it, but I know we'll be eating this again even when it isn't almost 100 degrees outside. And, who knows, maybe next time we'll even throw a little animal protein in. Even if we don't, though, it's nice to know the husband will enjoy it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Love Me Some Cowboys, I Mean, Cowboy Steak

rubbed flank steak recipe

I'm used to making dinner for the husband and having him tell me "it's good" or that he likes it. He isn't being rude. That's just how he is. So tonight when he took his first bite of steak and didn't utter any words but gave me an "mmmmm," I knew I did something very, very right.

We thought about grilling this Cowboy Flank Steak from Cooking Light because it was still in the mid-90s at our house today. But after Mother Nature threatened to storm and the thunder started rolling, I thought it'd be best to actually follow the recipe (for once!) and turn on the broiler - and man am I glad we did. This was one of the best steaks I think we've ever cooked ourselves. (And, no, I'm not just saying that because it's named for cowboys and if it were up to me, the husband would be one.)

Cowboy Flank Steak
From Cooking Light

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon coffee grinds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (next time, the husband says, we should cut this in half)
1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 lb flank steak
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray

Preheat the broiler.

Stir together the chili powder, coffee grinds, cumin and sugar. Rub both sides of the steak with the spices, and then sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.

Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray (or, if you're like us, use a rack and baking sheet).

Broil the steak for 10-12 minutes or until it is done to your liking. 


Keepin' It Simple With Slaw (and Burgers)

homemade turkey burgers

I can still remember the first time I served the husband ground turkey for dinner. I found a turkey chili recipe and thought it'd be a great meal to take off the February chill. It turned out I served bowls of crumbly weird meat and beans that I called chili. I'm not sure what happened that night more than two years ago now, but I'm still blaming the recipe. There's no way I did anything to mess up that dinner. (Ha!)

For a long time after that, the husband refused to eat ground turkey. I'd pick it up at the grocery store, he'd scrunch up his nose and I'd put it back. That went on for months. Months! But thank goodness the man finally came around.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"I'm-a-Vegetarian-Today" Mexican Pizza

mexican pizza recipe

As we discussed tonight's dinner last night I asked the husband if we should have something meatless or put it off until Friday. (We missed the Meatless Monday boat this week, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow, I'm sure.) We debated our options and out of the blue the husband told me he wanted Mexican pizza. No, I had no idea what that meant, but he told me Mexican pizza calls for beans, vegetables and cheese. Where does he come up with this stuff? I had to admit, though, that it sounded interesting. 


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