Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day - Jello Layer Salad

We don't have any exciting plans for Memorial Day this year, but here's a festive recipe from Memorial Day two years ago: Jello Layer Salad

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan for Monday May 23

My brain is totally tapped out. I've been struggling since we returned home from a long weekend vacation to get back into the menu planning, heck even cooking, groove. I've even had the 4:00 frantic rush to throw something together for dinner. Yikes, that wasn't fun...or that great of a dinner.

This past weekend, we allowed ourselves a little break and ate some not-so-healthy but easy food like grilled hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and boxed mac and cheese. I'm going to try to force myself back into the habit of being on the ball, hopefully to save my family from another week of that crap.

I've been really struggling with weekday lunches for my son and I for a few months, so I'm hoping that planning the lunches will save me from doing the drive-thru thing. Anyone have any tried and true easy lunch ideas for a 3 year old?

Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday for other menu plans!

Eggs and Toast (x2)
Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup (new recipe)

Mini Pizzas
Chicken Nuggets
Preschool potluck on Friday

Sunday: Whole Chicken, Broccoli, Rice or Pasta (Make chicken stock from the chicken bones)

Monday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Salad

Tuesday: Chicken Salad Tortilla Wraps (with leftover chicken from Sunday)

Wednesday: Pineapple Coconut Fried Rice (a variation of this Pineapple Curry recipe)

Thursday: Pinto Bean Chili, Slow Cooker Cornbread

 Friday: Grilled Pizza

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken to try in my home. The product was provided to me at no cost, but my opinions are my own.

My husband loves Buffalo chicken sandwiches and salads, (as previously professed with my recipe for Buffalo Mac and Cheese) so when I received the Tyson Chicken, I knew that I could whip up a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich for him for an easy dinner.  And this didn't disappoint!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Cooked grilled chicken, sliced or whole breast
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoons melted butter 
Lettuce leaves

Combine melted butter and hot sauce; set aside. Reheat the cooked chicken and toss in the hot sauce mixture. Place into buns, top with lettuce!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Monday, May 16, 2011

Light Lo Mein

The best way to use up random veggies in our house is to either make some soup, or in my case, make some stir fry. Since we live in Florida, cold weather and soup season is pretty short around here, so a different way to use up random ingredients is always welcomed!

After seeing a link to this recipe from a friend's Facebook post (Thanks, Erin!) I played around with the recipe, and got a Light Lo Mein that my family liked and used up some border-line wilted veggies.

This didn't create a thick sauce, but the noodles absorbed the sauce and keep all the flavor there. Along with the veggies listed below, I also added some celery and snow peas.

Light Lo Mein
recipe adapted from Family Fun

Makes 4 to 6 servings

8 oz thin spaghetti
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups broccoli
1 1/2 cups onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger (I used 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoon brown sugar

Stir the spaghetti into a pot of lightly salted boiling water and cook it according to the package directions. Drain the noodles well, then return them to the pot.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the veggies and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and continue stirring while the mixture cooks for another 30 seconds. Add the chicken and cook it, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until it is no longer pink.

In a small bowl, mix the water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar Add the soy sauce mixture and the pasta to the skillet and continue cooking, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes or until everything is heated through. Serve hot.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, May 13, 2011

Carrabba's and the Art of Salting Food

I was invited to attend a Carrabba’s Italian Grill Tastemaker Event from my advertising network, Foodbuzz. We were treated to a cooking demo, great food, and a fun time learning more about Carrabba's!

Carrabba's Italian Grill was founded in Houston by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in December of 1986, who set out to create a restaurant experience where people felt like guests in their home. Carrabba’s is best known for its wood-burning grill, inspired by the cooking of the Sicilian region of Italy.  I never realized this, but they offer pizza dough brought out to the tables for kids to keep them entertained. My son would be all over that!

I've always heard that the biggest mistake home cooks make is to under-salt their food, and at this cooking demonstration, it was stressed again. Here's some tips about salting food that I picked up:

Salting Pasta:
The formula Carraba's follows is 1 gallon boiling water to 1 oz of kosher salt to 1 pound of pasta. (Make sure the water comes to a full rolling boil before adding the kosher salt.)

Being a home educated cook myself, I've heard that I need to salt the boiling pasta water, but I was throwing a large pinch of kosher salt in the pot. I actually measured my "large pinch" and it turns out I was only adding 1/2 teaspoon, whereas Carrabba's recommends 1 oz,  or almost 2 tablespoons. That is a big difference!

We were given pasta straight from the pasta water to try on its own, and I was surprised at how salty the pasta tasted without any sauce added.

Then we got to see them whip up a few of their pasta sauces and got to sample, those, too! Ahhhh pesto.

Salting Pizza
We were shown how they make their brick oven pizzas, which is actually one of the menu items that I have never tried before this demo. Let me tell you, I'll be a frequent pizza orderer from now on, and talk my pizza-loving husband into ordering it, too! Behind Jay is the brick oven that each resturant uses to cook its pizzas at 600 degrees.

One of the tips Jay offered was to season the whole pizza liberally with kosher salt, keeping your hand that is sprinkling the salt at least a foot away from the pizza. This allows the salt to land evenly over the whole pizza. Take a look at the amount of kosher salt that was sprinkled over the top of the Margherita pizza (excuse the almost completely devoured pizza crust photo - what can I say, their pizza IS that good!)

We also got to sample many of their seasonal dishes and Signature Pasta Meals like:

Peach Sangria

Pasto Rambo with Shrimp

Parmesan-crusted Chicken topped with Arugula salad (my favorite of the afternoon!)

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Limoncello Bread Pudding (oh my goodness was that good!)

A big thanks to Carrabba's and Foodbuzz for a fun afternoon!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes

Dr. Oz always gets up into my head. After I saw his episode featuring  The China Study, my husband and I both read it on his iPad, talked it over, and decided to reduce the amount of animal protein we consume, and replace it with plant-based protein.

We are finding the challenge of replacing animal protein to be a struggle. My skinny son drinks a lot of milk, (mostly due to an effort on my part to fatten that kid up!) I love eggs for breakfast, and I've realized that while I love vegetables, my default of menu planning is to work around meat. We've had some successful meals, and some "I-give-up-throw-in-the-chicken-nuggets" meals, but it's an on-going process.

The recipe called for penne pasta, but I had a box of shells to use up. This turned into a brilliant accident, as the chickpeas tucked themselves into the shells, making a a cute little dish.

My husband and I both really enjoyed this, and it made ALOT, perfect for leftovers for a few days. The flavor was great, and it was a surprising hit of a dinner.

I'm sharing this at Eat at Home's Ingredient Spotlight: Tomatoes.

 Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

8 ounces penne pasta (I used whole wheat shells)
1/2 cup purchased plain hummus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
24 oz cherry tomatoes
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives (I used regular black olives)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Whisk hummus into liquid.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Add cherry tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until blackened in spots, shaking skillet occasionally, about 8 minutes. Mix in chickpeas, garlic, and smoked paprika. Crush some of tomatoes to release juices. Add pasta and enough hummus mixture to coat. Mix in olives and cilantro; season with salt and pepper.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cornell Chicken Marinade

This chicken marinade was supposedly created by the inventor of the chicken nugget and Cornell professor Dr. Robert C. Baker. The original recipe was a barbecue sauce, basted on while the chicken was grilling away, but I don't do well with standing over my grill, slappin' on sauce. I tend to burn things; primarily myself. So to keep things simple and burn-cream free, I marinated the chicken like the recipe I found recommended, then grilled it up like typical grilled chicken.

This did flare up a bit while grilling, but the final product's flavor was nice, and a nice change from my typical bottled-Italian-salad-dressing marinade.

I'm sharing this at Eat at Home's Ingredient Spotlight Vinegar.

Cornell Chicken
recipe adapted from Cornell Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces

Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, poultry seasoning, pepper and garlic powder. Pour over chicken pieces in a non-reactive bowl or zip top bag. Let marinate for a few hours, or up to 24 hours. Grill until well done, 20 minutes each side or until juices run clear.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Friday, May 6, 2011

Homemade Italian Breadcrumbs

One of reasons I prefer making my own homemade mixes and ingredients is so that I can be more versatile and make more recipes without having to run to the store for one ingredient.

Also, my frugal side kicks in when I see "breadcrumbs" in a recipe, as I use bread from my Freezer Bread Ends bag to process them up myself.

Normally, I would have just skipped putting all the "Italian" ingredients into Italian breadcrumbs, but I've been on a kick lately to *gasp* actually follow the recipes I'm putting together...I know, it's a shocking idea to follow them and not "wing it"...and not surprisingly, the food turns out tasting better. My latest creation of Chicken Parmesan turned out great with the correct ingredients!

Homemade Italian Breadcrumbs
recipe adapated from This Food Thing

2 cups stale bread or 10-12 slices
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan

Arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, until the bread is crisp and dry. (I used my toaster oven) Allow to cool completely, and the break into small pieces.  Use a food processor to make bread crumbs.
Combine bread crumbs with the rest of the ingredients. Store, tightly covered in your refrigerator for about 2 months, or freeze.


Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicken Parmesan (Freezer Friendly!)

Chicken Parmesan has a few extra steps that I don't normally feel in the mood to whip up, but to be able to make this dish ahead and freeze ahead really appealed to me. I normally use the Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan recipe if I'm craving Chicken Parmesan, but that creates "crockpot food"...very yummy but not that appealing to look at!

After baking off the chicken for this recipe, I split it up into two 8 x8 inch pans, one for dinner that night and another for later in the month. I love being able to pull dinner out of the freezer when I'm having one of those nights, or to utilize with my menu plan for a "night off" from cooking.

The homemade sauce was easy to put together, and would be a good sauce to use in a pinch for a recipe where the sauce is an ingredient. (Crockpot Lasagna, Slow Cooker Lasagna Pasta Bake, Eggplant Parmesan) It was simple, but not too plain. It accompanied the chicken in this dish perfectly.

This recipe is now included in my Creatively Domestic's Freezer Meals ebook for sale on Amazon. To view this recipe and many others, please visit (and buy if you're interested) from that site.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pineapple Curry Fried Rice

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Rice to try in my home. The product was provided to me at no cost, but my opinions are my own.

Pineapple in savory dishes are always a surprise to me, so when I wanted to use up a can of pineapple that was hanging out in my pantry, I almost forgot to look for main dishes instead of desserts. I'm glad this recipe popped up in my ingredient search!

I used Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Rice for the cooked rice, and I liked the idea of getting more whole grain in a meal like this, but I didn't notice a difference between this rice and normal white rice. No one in my family even questioned it.

When we sat down to eat, my husband said "Now this is what I'm talkin' about!" so it was a hit with the grownups. We thought it tasted pretty similar to a rice curry dish we used to get a from a Thai restaurant we lived closer to back in our "married, no kids, eatin' out all weekend" days. The leftovers the next day were just as good!

Pineapple Curry Fried Rice
recipe adapted from

1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless chicken meat, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups of your favorite fried rice vegetables, chopped to the size of peas (I used a combo of onion, carrots, & celery)
3 cups white rice, cooked (great from the freezer!)
1 cup frozen peas
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved
Salt, to taste

Mix together curry powder, fish sauce, pineapple juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, and cook and stir the chicken until the pieces are about halfway cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and fresh veggies and cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked and veggies have softened. Stir in the cooked rice, frozen peas, pineapple chunks, and curry mixture, and cook and stir until the fried rice is hot, 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, if needed.

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking