Touch of Nectar











{January 20, 2012}   That’s Nuts!

I made these for Project 365.  It is one of those super simple recipes that I am going to make over and over again.  It’s not even really a recipe.

Buy a can of spanish peanuts. You know, the red skinned ones that are uber salty… Now chop up an equal amount of candied ginger. I happened to find some on sale, but the bulk bins are your friend. 

Now mix the two together and put in an airtight container.  Eat by the handfuls.  This is salty, sweet and has a nice little bit of kickin spice from the ginger. Lovely.



{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.



The Menu this Week. April 9-15 2011

As usual, these are not in the order that I will make them. Fruit/dessert on the menu this week is pineapple and cantaloupe. I’ve already messed up the menu, but tonight will be the Rigatoni. And I have some watercress to use… I’ll have to find a recipe for that.

Sat – Going hiking with the kidling, so I need a fast and easy dinner.

Sun – Chicken Athenos #330056 from 1001 More Low Fat

Mon – Pizza Burgers #445820 from 365 Grill (make double and freeze?)

Tues – Pineapple Rum Turkey Kabobs #231845 from Low Carb, Rice and Snow Peas

Wed – Lemon Herb Swordfish Steaks #452353 from Low Carb

Thurs – Rigatoni with Escarole and Italian Sausage (sausage from freezer) #334597 from 1001 Low Fat

Fri – PCT Movie night. Leftovers or pizza.

Breakfasts – Sunday, unless we go out to breakfast. Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon

Lunches – Blackeyed Pea Salad from Beyond the Moon

Dessert – Applesauce Cake #451271 from Spices of the World



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.



We recently cleaned out nearly all of our freezer stock. While this is a good idea to do several times a year to keep things fresh, it makes me twitchy. I like having a very well stocked freezer in case of emergency. Surprise dinner guests, unemployment, illness, zombie apocalypse… It is also  nice to be able to pull something frozen out of the freezer, already prepped and have dinner ready in minutes. No thinking required. Some nights are like that.

Last week ground turkey was on sale buy one get one free, so I made a huge batch of meatballs. I froze them individually on a tray before placing them, in dinner-sized portions, in zip lock freezer bags. I bought a large package of chicken breasts. Half of the package made dinner for 3 with leftovers and the other half was cut into smaller portions and put in marinade in the freezer.  I also stocked up on some pantry items that were running dangerously low.

Week Total – $20.67
 
2 pounds Ground Turkey – $5
1 large package boneless, skinless chicken breasts – $12
2 cans tuna – $1.00
3 cans diced tomatoes – $2.67

I also made twice baked potatoes and froze 8 servings worth.

This week, I’m hoping to get to Costco and buy a package of pork roasts. They usually have them for $12. There is three decent sized roasts to a package. One will go in the crock pot for some sort of shredded pork dish, one will be sliced into scallopini/schnitzel/piccata ready portions (without the breading) and the third will be cut into stew-sized chunks, which could also be used for kebabs.

I will not be cooking this weekend, since I will be out of town, so I’ll concentrate on re-stocking instead of making dinner-ready food. The other thing I will purchase this week is hamburger. Trader Joes has well-packaged hamburger for $2.49 a pound. I will buy 4 and most likely use one for dinner this week.

Week total – $21.96.  At least 10 dinners for 4 can be made with just those two purchases.

Off to look for the recipes!



Restocking the freezer this week.  Some doubling up on recipes throughout the week.   Ground turkey is on sale at Safeway for buy one get one free, so I’ll be making a HUGE batch of meatballs to freeze. I also want to restock my freezer with roasted red bell pepper and tomato soup.  I might throw some beans in the crockpot for some sort of freezable stew later this week too. I bought a giant package of chicken breasts, so those will go in the freezer in at least 3 different marinades. (to be determined)

As of today, I am at 99/365 recipes. As always, these are in no particular order.  (Already changing the menu since I forgot a few things at the store last night…)

Sat 26 Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir Fry – Cooking Light 04
Steamed rice, dumplings (freezer)

Sun 27 – Mini Meatloaves – Cooking Light 2004 (make double) and Twice Baked Potatoes (make at least double. hubby loves these)

Mon 28 Pork Chili with Greens – 1001 Slow Cooker  and Sweet Corn Cheddar Pancakes From Asparagus to Zucchini

Tue 29Sage Stuffed Chicken Breasts – George Foreman Green Beans (wondering if this would freeze well?)

Wed 30 – CORN/Leftovers night (might change since I won’t be around this weekend to cook)

Thur 31 Pork and Fennel Ragu – Cooking Light 2004 Rice, Bread, Salad

Fri 1 – Off to Canada! I’m teaching a 4 hour backcountry cooking class. So not ready! Hubby and kidling to eat leftovers or eat pizza.

BreakfastsStrawberry Cinnamon Muffins – Cooking Light 2005 and Ginger Dessert Waffles – Spices of the World

LunchesGreen Apple Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette – Cooking Light 2004 and  Tarragon Tuna Salad – Spices of the World and and Potato Salad with Parsley and Chives – Cooking Light 2004 (for hubby. Didn’t get made from previous menu) Slaw of some sort? I have green cabbage to use up.

Dessert Applesauce Cake Spices of the World (made with home canned applesauce) I also picked up an angelfood cake at the store – to be served topped with Cool Whip and home-canned berries.



et cetera