Saturday, March 28, 2009

South of the Border

My mind must have been south of the border when I was making this week's menu because 3 out of the 4 meals have a little Mexican flare.  This is a great way to save money at the grocery store because a lot of the meals used the same ingredients in different ways.  I think it may also be because the weather is getting a little warmer that I was craving these fresh flavors.

This Week's Menu:    
This soup could not be simpler to make, especially if you use a store bought rotisserie chicken.  I love it because it makes the whole house smell like a Mexican food restaurant!  The heat really depends on the spiciness of the salsa you use.  Lately my market has had a slim (to say the least) selection of salsa verde.  I am going to go in search of some better brands.

1. Southwest Chicken Soup 
From Real Simple
makes 4 generous servings

1 12 oz. jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked chicken pieces (you can use a small rotisserie chicken, leftovers, or make it fresh by poaching and shredding 3-4 chicken breasts)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (use 4 cups for a soupier broth)
1 t ground cumin
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
tortilla chips (sometimes I like to make cheese quesidillas to have on the side instead)

Cook the salsa in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.  Add the chicken, beans, broth and cumin.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Top each bowl with some green onions, a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.  
I originally spotted this dish on foodgawker and followed the link over to Our Best Bites
Beside discovering just as we were about to put the meat on the grill that we were out of propane, it was easy to make and delicious.  I think this is going to be something we make frequently throughout the summer.  
2. Chili-Lime Steak Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing
from Our Best Bites
makes 4-6 servings

For the Chili-Lime Steak:
1 t chili powder
1 t granulated garlic
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t oregano
1/8 - 1/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 lime
1-2 lbs flank steak (tenderloin, NY strip or tri-tip could also be used)

Juice the lime into a small bowl, add the spices and stir to combine.  If it seams a little too dry you can add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to thin it out.  Place the steak in a shallow dish and use your hands to rub the mixture on all sides.  Pre-heat the grill and let the steak sit for 15 minutes.  Grill for 5-7 minutes on each side (if using flank steak).  When it is finished remove the steak and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing it into 1/4" strips against the grain.  

For the salad: (This list can obviously be modified to your liking, I forgot the black beans in mine and next time I will add corn as well.)
1-2 lbs flank steak, prepared as above
1 head romain lettuce
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 avocados, sliced
1 can black olives, halved or quartered
Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing
tortilla chip
cilantro for garnish

For Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing:  (I left out the cilantro because I have been dis-enchanted by the flavor of it recently.)

1 1oz. package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (do not follow the directions on the package)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup salsa verde
hot sauce to taste

Place all of the ingredients above into a blender and blend it up.  

So, does this dish look familiar?  It is pretty much a repeat of last nights dinner, just configured a little differently.  I didn't plan on using the steak in the tacos but we had leftovers from the salads so I threw it in.  I also topped them off with some of the lime dressing instead of salsa.  The only addition to the tacos is I cooked up a little brown rice and mixed in a can of black beans, this served as the base layer.  I think you all know how to assemble a taco so I am just going to include the list of fillings below  

3. Black Bean & Brown Rice Tacos

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, drained but not rinsed
grilled steak
shredded lettuce
black olives
cheddar cheese
creamy lime dressing (by the way, I think this would be a great topping for fish tacos too)
flour tortillas (I like to sprinkle a little water on a tortilla and then microwave it for about 10 seconds, this has the effect of steaming the tortilla which gives it a great texture.) 

This recipe came from evil shenanigans and was also spotted on foodgawker.  I have made several recipes for mac and cheese that require baking but I was intrigued by this stove top version.  Indeed, it was much quicker to make and was super creamy!  I used an extra sharp cheddar and next time I am going to tone that down a bit.  Also, I don't know if it was the mustard powder that I had or if it is mustard powder in general but I think it made it taste a bit off.  I am going to omit it next time just to see what kind of difference it makes.  

Also, about the hot dogs, we like to use Hebrew National, they are bit more expensive but worth it.  And for all of you not in New England, they definitely have the rest of the country beat on buns.  New England style buns are baked touching each other, pulled apart after baking and sliced on top.  This allows you to butter the sides and grill the buns.  YUM!  This and the spicy deli mustard are my favorite parts of the hot dog! 

4. Stove-top Mac & Cheese
from evil shenanigans
makes 2-3 servings (can easily be doubled)

8 oz. elbow macaroni (or other small tube shaped pasta)
1 T butter
6 oz. evaporated milk (I used 2%)
6 oz. freshly grated cheese
1 egg, beaten
*1 t dry mustard powder
1/4 t crushed red peppers
hot sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to package directions but reduce the cooking time by 1 minute.  While pasta is cooking mix the egg, milk and spices.  Drain and return the pasta to the pot.  Add the butter and stir until melted over medium-low heat.  Add the milk mixture.  Stir until it begins to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese in four installments, making sure the first is melted completely before adding the next.  

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Sunday, March 22, 2009


This was an experimental week.  I made three things I have never made before and one was a smashing success, one was okay (needs a little tweaking in the future) and one was a complete flop, so much so that when I looked at the photos of it I actually felt a little ill.  Needless to say I will not be including that one in this post.  The one good thing about it was that in order to rid the taste from our mouths we had to go for ice cream!  Any excuse!

This Week's Menu:
So this was the smashing success.  A sleeper really.  I was not expecting it to be great and I actually put off making it for a week.  The reason I put it on the menu in the first place was that I was wanting to try a new recipe with quinoa.  I have a quinoa salad recipe that I love but I am getting a little tired of it.  So anyway, I finally made it and not only did I love it but Jeremy did too, zucchini and all!  That is definitely a success in my book!  

1. Zucchini with Quinoa Stuffing
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed (The brand I usually buy, Bob's Red Mill, comes pre-rinsed which is great because the dry quinoa falls through my finest mesh strainer.  This drives me crazy!)
4 medium zucchini
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup almonds, chopped (about 2 oz.)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 oz.)
4 T olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Arrange in a large baking dish (something with walls, not on a cookie sheet), cut side up.  Fluff the quinoa and fold in the beans, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and 3 T of the oil.  Spoon the mixture into the zucchini.  Top with the remaining T of oil and 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake until the zucchini is tender, 25-30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake until golden, 8-10 minutes longer.  

Experiment number 2.  The flavor in this dish was good but something wasn't quite right.  I have been thinking about what is was and what I have come up with is this:  The pieces of chicken were too large, next time I will slice them thinner, and there was not enough of the sauce.  I am going to make these adjustments in the recipe below and hopefully it work out a little better for you.  

2. Thai-style Stir-fried Chicken and Basil
Modified from Fine Cooking
makes 2-3 servings

3 T vegetable oil
4 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. chicken breast cutlets (about 1/4 " thick), cut crosswise into 1/2" wide strips
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1 1/2 T fresh lime juice
3 t packed light brown sugar
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot.  Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots start to soften but not brown, 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it's no longer pink and the shallots are beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes. 
Add the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is just cooked through and the liquid reduces to a saucy consistency, 2-3 minutes.  (If the sauce reduces before the chicken is cooked through, add water, 1 T at a time.)  Remove from heat, add the basil, and stir to wilt it.   

This is an oldie but goody.  Every time I make it I am surprised that Jeremy eats the asparagus and frankly a little surprised that I eat it too.  This is one vegetable that I hated growing up but I have developed a taste for.  

3. Balsamic Poached Chicken
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1 lb new potatoes, halved or quartered
3 T olive oil
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
1 14.5 oz. can low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup balsamic vinegar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the potatoes in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with the oil, season with 3/4 t of the salt and the pepper, and toss.  Roast for 30 minutes, shaking the pan once.  Add the asparagus to the pan with the potatoes, season with the remaining salt and toss.  Roast until the asparagus is tender, 12-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the broth and vinegar to a boil.  Add the chicken and, if necessary, enough water (up to 1/2 cup) to cover it.  Simmer for 1 minute.  Cover, remove from heat, and set aside until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board.  Return the liquid to medium-high heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.  Thickly slice the chicken.  Divide among individual plates.  Drizzle with the balsamic mixture.  

These are kind of a cross between pancakes and blintzes.  I love the flavor combination of the sweet applesauce and the creamy sour cream.  We like to have breakfast foods for dinner.   

4. Apple Blintz Pancakes
From Real Simple
makes 6-7 pancakes

1 cup pancake mix
1 egg
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 cup whole milk (you could substitute a reduced fat milk)
1 T vegetable oil
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup applesauce
ground cinnamon

Place the pancake mix in a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the egg, cottage cheese, milk, oil and 1/4 cup of the sour cream.  Stir the wet ingredients into the pancake mix and let rest 5 minutes.  Place a nonstick griddle coated with oil, butter or cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Spoon about 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake onto the griddle.  Turn when bubbles rise to the surface and the edges look cooked.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Before serving, spoon 1 T of the apple sauce onto one half of each pancake; fold in half and top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Monday, March 16, 2009


This Week's Menu:

1. Ravioli with Peas and Shallots
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1 1/2 lb cheese ravioli
2 T butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 10 oz bag frozen peas
1 t lemon zest
kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the ravioli according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add the peas, lemon zest, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper and the reserved pasta water. Cook, partially covered, until the peas are heated through, 3-4 minutes. Divide the ravioli among bowls and top with the pea mixture.

This dish was on the menu for two weeks before I actually got around to making. I'm glad I did, it was delicious! The original recipe called for halibut which my market rarely carries, I substituted mahi-mahi.

2. Sear Roasted Mahi-mahi with Blood Orange Salsa
Modified from Fine Cooking
makes four servings (I cut it in half)

For the salsa:
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 medium navel or Valencia oranges)
3 small blood oranges, cut into segments, segments cut in half
2 T minced red onion
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T finely grated orange zest (from 2 medium navel or Valencia oranges)
kosher salt and black pepper

For the fish:
1 t finely grated orange zest (from 1 small navel or Valencia orange)
1 t chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-oz skinless Mahi-mahi fillets
3 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, position rack in center.
Salsa: In a small saucepan, boil the orange juice over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, 8-10 minutes. Let cool. In a medium bowl combine the reduced orange juice, blood orange segments, onion, cilantro, olive oil and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Fish: In a small bowl, mix the orange zest, thyme, 1 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. Rub the mixture all over the fillets. Heat the oil in a 12" ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, arrange the fillets in the pan. Sear for about 2 minutes without moving. When the fillets are nicely browned flip them and put the pan in the oven. Roast until the mahi-mahi is cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Transfer the fillets to individual plates and spoon some of the salsa over each one.

This dish would be satisfying on a hot day, but with it still being winter around here, it left us both feeling like something was missing.

3. Chicken and Noodle Salad with Chili Dressing
Modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings (I cut it in half)

8 oz rice noodles
1 T olive oil
4 6-oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 T sugar
1 red jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
1 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/4" thick half-circles
2 scallions, sliced

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, 4-6 minutes per side. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, sesame oil, sugar and jalapeno. Slice the chicken. Divide the noodles, Chicken, lettuce, cucumber, and scallions among plates. Drizzle with the dressing.

We had this over at my in-laws on Saturday night. I decided to include it in this post because it is a favorite at that household, with good reason!

4. Grown-up Mac & Cheese

8 oz uncooked tube-shaped pasta
2 T butter
2 T all purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1/8 t white pepper
dash nutmeg
1 1/4 cups half-and-half (fat free if desired)
2 oz (1/2 cup) shredded fontina cheese
2 oz (1/2 cup) shredded Swiss cheese
2 oz (1/2 cup) shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
2 T dry white wine
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 t olive oil
1 scallion, sliced

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1 1/2 quart casserole with non-stick cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg; cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Gradually add half-and-half, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses until melted. Stir in wine. Add pasta to cheese sauce and stir gently to coat. Pour into prepared dish and arrange the slices tomatoes around the outside edge. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with scallions. Bake 20-25 minutes, until edges are bubbly and mixture is thoroughly heated.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cheeseburgers - Two Ways

This Weeks Menu:
A couple of months ago the amazing Jen at Use Real Butter did a give away. She asked her readers what inspired them to cook. She randomly selected two people to receive a one year subscription to Fine Cooking magazine. I was actually one of the winners!!! I have since gotten two issues and I love it! This is a recipe from the February-March issue. It is really wonderful because you can add any veggies you like and it can be meaty or not. Also, using brown rice makes it even more nutritious. This is definitely not the greasy, salty fried rice you usually get in Chinese restaurants. You do need to plan a little in advance because the rice needs to be cold, and the prep is a little time consuming (dicing a lot of veggies) but after that it comes together very quickly.

1. Veggie-full Fried Rice
Modified from Fine Cooking
makes 4 (generous) servings

2 T vegetable oil
1 cup finely diced broccoli stems (peel the rough outer layer)
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
3/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup peas, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup corn, fresh or frozen
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
2 T finely grated fresh ginger (in my opinion this makes the whole dish)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 cups very cold cooked brown rice
3/4 cup finely diced ham or Canadian bacon (4 oz)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

Heat all but 1 t of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or stir-fry pan over medium-high heat (large and nonstick are both key words here). Add the broccoli stems, carrots and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add the peas and corn and cook about 1 minute (until thawed if using frozen). Add the scallion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until the raw garlic aroma subsides, about 1 minute. Add the rice and ham and cook, sirring, until heated through, 3-5 minutes.
Make a well in the center of the rice mixture. Add the remaining 1 t oil, then the eggs and cook, stirring, until the eggs are almost fully scrambled. Stir the eggs into the rice mixture. Stir in the soy sauce and serve.

One of my co-workers gets a Cheeseburger Chowder at a deli near our office and she raves about it. I tasted it one day and I thought I could probably make it. I did a little research online and then I came up with this version. It turned out very well (my co-worked actually said she liked mine better than the deli version because it was a little lighter and had a lot more veggies in it).

2. Cheeseburger Chowder
makes 4-6 servings

1 lb very lean ground beef
2 cups cubed red skin potatoes (leave the skin on)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 beef bullion cube
1 1/2 cups water
1 t kosher salt
2 1/2 cups milk
3 T all-purpose flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a soup pot brown the ground beef, drain off any fat. Stir in the potatoes, celery, onion, bell pepper, corn, bullion cube, water and salt. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Whisk together the flour and milk. Slowly add to the meat mixture and cook until thickened and bubbly. Add the cheese and heat, stirring, until it melts.

I found this recipe from Food Gawker. I think it has now made its way through several blogs. I believe it originally came from Martha Stewart. I made the patties half size and brought them to a friends house as an appetizer. If you make them full size they could be served on a bun, burger style.

3. Black Bean Sweet Potato Patties with Chili Lime Sour Cream
makes 2-4 servings

For the patties:
1 1/2 t olive oil
2 scallions
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (ribs and seeds removed)
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup sweet potato, coarsely grated (about 1/2 a sweet potato)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

For the Chili Lime Sour Cream:
1/4 cup sour cream (reduced-fat if desired)
1 t lime juice (or more, to taste)
1 jalapeno, minced (ribs and seeds removed)
kosher salt

To make the patties:
Heat the broiler. In a skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Cook the scallions until softened, about 1 minute. Add the garlic, jalapeno and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add the beans and mash with a fork or potato masher, leaving about 1/4 of the beans whole. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the sweet potato, egg and bread crumbs. Divide into 4 balls of equal size (I made 8 for a appetizer size serving) and flatten into patties. Brush a baking dish with olive oil (or use a sheet of parchment paper or silicone liner if you have one) and place the patties on the sheet. Broil 4 inches from the heat until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Carefully turn the cakes and broil until crisp, 2-3 minutes more. Serve with the chili lime sour cream.

To make the sour cream:
In a small bowl combine the sour cream, lime juice and jalapeno. Season with salt.

This meal was added to the menu this week by my husband. I don't usually make hamburgers at home (more often in the summer on the grill). They were pretty good but I think I still have a lot to learn when it comes to making a really good burger. There is no recipe for them but I do have one for the oven fries.

4. Oven Fries
from Real Simple
makes 2 servings

1 large unpeeled russet potato, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into 1/4" wedges (I used a mandolin slicer which makes this a breeze)
1 T olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, toss together all of the ingredients and spread on a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Place on bottom rack of oven and roast until the potatoes start to brown, about 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes with a spatula and roast until golden, another 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

This week's menu:

I love the nutty flavor of brown butter. It really adds dimension to this dish.

1. Tortellini with Bacon, Greens and Brown Butter
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1 lb tortellini (any kind, I used whole wheat with cheese filling)
6 slices bacon, diced
6 T unsalted butter
2 cups arugula (I substituted baby spinach)
kosher salt
black pepper

Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet, over medium heat until crisp. Reserve the bacon and discard the drippings. Wipe out the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the butter and brown (see how to brown butter below). Remove from heat and add the bacon, arugula (or spinach), salt, pepper and cooked tortellini. Toss well and serve.

How to brown butter:
Melt the butter in a skillet or small saucepan over medium heat (preferably a light colored one, this helps to see the color develop). Stir the butter as it starts to foam. Remove from heat as soon as it starts to turn golden brown and smells nutty (about 1 minute).

I have been eyeing this recipe for a long time and finally decided to try it because I had just enough apricot preserves left in the bottom of a jar. The recipe called for chicken but I decided to use pork instead. I was going to use pork chops but when I got to the market they had rib ends on sale. It was a delicious alternate. You could also try this on shrimp or salmon.

2. BBQ Apricot Pork with Cheddar and Scallion Grits
Modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings (I cut it in half)

For the pork:
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup apricot jam or preserves
1 T balsamic vinegar
kosher salt
black pepper
pork rib ends (I don't remember exactly how much I used, it was one package with four pieces in it. That was enough for two servings.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, jam, vinegar, 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly. Arrange the pork in a baking dish and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the BBQ sauce over the pork and roast until it is cooked through, about 1 hour.

For the grits:
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1 c grits (not instant or quick cooking)
1 c (4 oz) grated white cheddar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 t black pepper
1 T unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 1/4 cups water and the salt to a boil. Whisking constantly, slowly add the grits in a steady stream. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are thick and creamy, 15 - 20 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Add the scallions, pepper and butter and stir.

This salad was very good. I think it would be especially good to make at the beginning of the week to have for lunches throughout the week.

3. Creamy Barley Salad with Apples and Cranberries.
Modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1/2 c pearl barley
kosher salt
black pepper
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t Dijon mustard
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 apple, cut into 1/2" pieces (I used Granny Smith but I think next time I will go for a sweeter apple with some red color to it.)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 cups red leaf lettuce, roughly chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, 1 1/2cups water and 1/2 t salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the barley is tender and the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Spread out and let cool. In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, mustard 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper. Add the celery, apple, cranberries and cooled barley. Toss to combine. Serve on top of the lettuce.

I had some hot Italian sausage left over from the sandwiches I made last week. I just removed the casings, cooked it and mixed it in some marinara sauce. I put a dollop of ricotta on top which was left over from the corn cakes I made two weeks ago. I had steamed broccoli on the side.

This is a meal my mom made growing up and I love it! I don't usually make it with meat but I had a ton of shredded chicken left over from tacos that we had over the weekend so I decided to put some in. I think it may have evolved a bit from the way my mom makes it so here is my version. It is really adaptable so use whatever ingredients you like. This makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

5. Enchilada Casserole
makes 6-8 servings

2 cans refried beans
1 can chopped green chilies
3/4 cup corn
1/2 cup olives, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 1/2 - 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
flour tortillas

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, reserving about 1/3 can of enchilada sauce and a few olives. Put one tortilla in the bottom of a baking dish. Spread a layer of the bean mixture and sprinkle with cheese, place another tortilla on top. Repeat until all of the filling is used up. On top of the final tortilla pour the remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle with a handful of cheese and the reserved olives. Bake until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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