Touch of Nectar











Meatballs are one staple thing I keep in the freezer. I often add shredded zucchini or yellow squash to them in an attempt to healthy them up.

Then I was sent this sample.

Mostly made of soy. One of the suggestions on the label said it could be mixed with ground beef for a healthier burger.  Well now. Ground turkey was on sale this week for buy one get one free and I intended to make meatballs anyway… Perfect.

It certainly doesn’t look like much right out of the package.

I added two pounds of ground turkey and one egg. It made lots of meatballs!  I put 5 packages of 10 each in the freezer. Yay me!

The meatballs turned out very nicely. You can’t tell I added anything to them and they have a nice dense texture.



{April 19, 2011}   Ham and Pineapple Kebabs

Not only does using the grill keep the hubby happy, it gets him to help me with dinner. Both he and the kidling LOVED this recipe. I served it with steamed basmati rice and green beans.

As usual, I made a few changes. I forgot to buy the Maraschino cherries and I added some sweet onion to the skewers. I also used fresh pineapple instead of canned.  Hubby says to use both the onions AND cherries next time. This is one of those recipes that now that I’ve made it once, I can make it over and over again without the actual recipe in front of me. It’s a keeper!

1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 1/2 lbs cooked ham, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
8 maraschino cherries, stemmed
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare a medium-hot grill.
Thread pineapple, ham, and cherries onto skewers, dividing the ingredients equally.
In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.
Brush over ham skewers.
Grill kebabs until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.



The Menu this Week. April 16-22 2011

As usual, these are not in the order that I will make them. Fruit/dessert on the menu this week is pineapple, bananas, pears and oranges.  Do you see a theme with this week’s menu? Hubby brought the barbecue back from our property. It is one way I can get him to help me cook dinner. Shhh… don’t tell him I said that!

I’m super excited because the farmer’s market near my house is now open. You can expect to see lots of fresh fruit and veggies in the upcoming menus. I have asparagus to use but I haven’t decided what I want to make yet. Maybe a white bean and asparagus salad?

I bought half a ham for the kebabs, and only need a small portion of it, so I will make a ham and bean soup in the crock pot to freeze. I will also freeze a portion of diced ham for quick omelets or quiches. I love having a well-stocked freezer!

Sat – CORN/Leftovers Night

Sun – Olympic Burgers #   from 365 Grilling Recipes

Mon – Ham and Pineapple Kebabs #445833 from 365 Grilling Recipes

Tues – Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Basil Mayo #451586 from Eat Well Stay Well

Wed – Pork chops (TBD),  Dijon Parsley Potatoes from George Foreman

Thurs – Grilled Chicken Fajitas from 365 20 Minutes Meals (make double and freeze half), Salsa Fresca Mexicana from 365 Mexican Recipes, Rice

Fri – Watercress and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Tuna from George Foreman, sliced tomatoes

Breakfasts – Sunday, unless we go out to breakfast. Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon (didn’t get made last week) and fresh fruit
Muffins (TBD)

Lunches – (smaller portions of the recipes) Grilled Pear Salad with Parmesan from 365 Grilling Recipes
Shredded Carrot Salad # from 365 Grilling Recipes
 
Dessert – Applesauce Cake #451271 from Spices of the World (didn’t get made last week)



Rigatoni with Escarole and Sausage (link to recipe)


I love a fast dinner! This took about 20 minutes or so.

First I put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta. (correction – first pour a glass of wine to drink while cooking dinner!)

From the freezer, I pulled out a package of basil-chicken sausages. I thawed them in the microwave, then sliced them into ¼ inch slices. While those were heating in the skillet, I chopped the garlic and escarole. The head of escarole I had was huge, so I only used half.

When the pasta water was ready, I dumped in the farfalle pasta that I was using.

I added the garlic to the skillet and let that sauté for a bit. When the pasta was almost done cooking, I added the escarole to the sausages. I also added a bit of the pasta cooking water to help it wilt.

When the pasta was done cooking, I drained it and then tossed it with the escarole and sausages.

Served topped with lots of Parmesan cheese.

Dessert was fresh cantaloupe.



No time to pack a pretty bento lunch this morning, I just grabbed something from the well stocked freezer.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup. I rounded out the rest of my lunch with some cheese and crackers. Easy peasy. And very tasty!

This soup has a nice little zing to it from the curry powder and just a hint of sweetness from the pears. Just the thing for a gray day like today.



I received the 365 Ways to Cook Pasta cookbook as a Christmas present from my boyfriend’s sister when I was 18. I was just learning how to cook and this was a great start. The boyfriend is long gone, but the book has stuck with me.

Pasta itself is inexpensive and easy to prepare. We eat some sort of pasta dish in our house at least twice a week. Last night was no exception.

The recipe was Spaghetti with Butter Parmesan and Browned Bacon. It was found in the chapter titled “Emergency Dinners” which rely on ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry. Easy and fast meals.

I did cut back on the amount of butter, but the final dish is nicely creamy and flavorful. Dinner took about 15 minutes to make.

I served this with cheese rolls and fresh orange slices, but I was wishing for a fresh tomato salad. There is just something special about bacon and tomatoes together.

The Emergency Dinners chapter may be my favorite part of the book, but I like some of the other chapters as well; Savory Summer Salads, Spaghetti in the Pantry, Elbows on the Table, Tiny Pasta Shapes, No Cook Sauces, Quick Cook Sauces, Meat Sauces and Light and Easy.

I’ve made a LOT of recipes from this book and definitely plan to make more. There is something for every season and the recipes range from almost instant to more complex dishes.

These are just a few others that I’ve tried:

Confetti Orzo Salad
Shells with Tomatoes Arugula and Parmesan
Wagon Wheels with Chickpeas and Creamy Lemon Dill Dressing
Elbows with Cannellini Beans, Bacon and Red Onion
Elbows with Chickpeas and Escarole
Penne with Grilled Salmon, Asparagus and Lemon Butter
Linguine with Tuna, Lemon and Arugula
Spiral Pasta with Shrimp, Peas and Tomatoes



{March 29, 2011}   Quick and Delicious Dinner

My menu plan for last night more or less got thrown out the window for various reasons. I keep plain chicken breast in the freezer for just that sort of occurance.

I thawed the chicken and found a simple and fast recipe in my 365 Great 20 Minute Recipes cookbook (out of print? I can’t find a link)

The recipe is called Ginger Chicken Saute and it really did take me only 20 minutes to get dinner on the table.  This is recipe #106 of Project 365I had rice already cooked in the fridge, so I heated that up with a tiny bit of water in the microwave. Meanwhile I also sauteed some snap peas and yellow squash.

Dinner is served! Yum! Very gingery.

This could also be done as a make-ahead or OAMC meal if you make the marinade and freeze the chicken. Just cook and eat in that case. Easy Peasy! I will make this again for sure. Hubby inhaled it too, which is always a bonus.



The Menu this Week. March 19-25 2011

It’s official! I am ¼ of the way through Project 365. I have made 92 recipes. Only 273 left to go! I am about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, but I’m anticipating a lot of days in April and later this summer when I will not be cooking at all.

Dinners this week are mostly from the pantry. Pretty much the only things I need from the store this week is a pound of hamburger and a large package of chicken.

As usual, these are most likely not in the order that I will make them. I’ve been trying to get the husband and kidling to eat more fruits and vegetables so I will also serve melon, grapes, pineapple and/or oranges with dinner. And bread. Always with the bread.

SatCanton Chicken and Rice  from 1001 Low Fat

Sun – Chicken Stew with Parsley Dumplings (my own stew from the freezer) from 1001 Low Fat

Mon – Pork Schnitzel from Rachael Ray’s 365 No Repeats and Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan from Cooking Light 2004

TuesPasta Shells with Tuscan Tuna from Cooking Light 2004

Wed – Beef and Been Burritos from 1001 Low Fat and Zucchini with Oregano and Sun dried tomatoes from Asparagus to Zucchini and Herbed Polenta from 1001 More Low Fat

Thurs – Knit night. Hubby and kidling to eat leftovers or order pizza.

Fri – Fettuccini with Chicken Piccata from 1001 More Low Fat

Breakfasts – Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon and Muffins (undecided. Strawberry?)

Lunches – (also doubles as side dishes) Potato Salad with Parsley and Chives from Cooking Light 2004, Macaroni Salad from 1001 More Low Fat, Armenian Bean Salad from Asparagus to Zucchini and Egg Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes from Beyond the Moon.

Dessert – Double Crust Blueberry Pie from 1001 Low Fat (made with home-canned blueberries)



What’s in your pantry? Do you keep it well stocked so that you can make dinner in minutes?

Basic things I keep in my pantry are a wide variety herbs and spices, canned beans (garbanzo, white and kidney), chicken and beef broth, canned tuna, cream of xx soups, canned corn and tomatoes, dried pasta, rice, lentils, barley, quinoa, olives, sun dried tomatoes and jars of pasta sauce. In addition, I almost always have macaroni and cheese mixes, as well as Bisquick and corn muffin mix.

In the freezer is lots of frozen fruit and vegetables. I usually have a couple of pounds of hamburger and bacon as well has home made soups – especially chicken. We love the fish in marinades that I can find at Trader Joes.

What can I make from all this stuff? Here’s two ideas for you. Both use pantry items and take less than 30 minutes to make. Add some bread and salad or fruit and dinner is done in no time.

First, Chunky Beef Chili from my Eat Well Stay Well cookbook.

This serves 4 and has 443 calories per serving. I served it with some corn bread muffins and sliced oranges. I made the muffins first and let them bake while I assembled the rest of dinner.

Sauté 3 minced scallions, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and ½ teaspoon oregano in 2 teaspoons oil for one minute.

Add 1 pound of ground beef and stir until browned.

Add 1 cup of corn, a 16 oz can of red kidney beans and a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes.

Simmer for 5 minutes and serve.

Another good pantry meal is Fusilli with Tomatoes, Spinach and Prosciutto (Zaar Link).  Serve this with some crusty bread and fresh melon.

I have made lots of variations of this same dish, switching out the prosciutto for bacon or pancetta and the spinach for arugula or kale. Use whatever tomatoes you have on hand. I used canned and fresh this time around.



et cetera