Sunday, January 8, 2012

Menu Sunday

Well.  It's been a while for the ol' Menu Sunday post, what with the holiday hubbub and all!  I haven't been doing a whole heapin' ton of regular weeknight cooking, but here's what's been happening in my kitchen amidst the requisite December / Early January Baking of the Cookies and Creation of the Tuesday Supper from Cocktail Party Appetizers. 

Chicken Tortilla Pie
modified from Everyday Cooking
Everyday Food Chicken Tortilla Casserole
This was actually a Top 10 Favorite last year... and it is a super scrumptious casserole if you (a) use the right ingredients and (b) don't get lazy with them.  Unfortunately, I broke both of the rules this go 'round.  I had four leftover "artisan" tortillas, made from whole wheat and blue corn, and  half a jar of chunky salsa in the fridge.  In an effort to not get off my ass and go to the store be resourceful, I used what I had instead of straight-up yellow corn tortillas and the less chunky salsa verde I prefer. To make matters worse, I didn't toast the tortillas at all before layering the ingredients.  The flavors were still there, but the whole dish was a textural nightmare... chunks + mush.  Not okay.  So, ya know, DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO and all that jazz.

Chicken Pesto & Broccoli Stuffed Shells
Pesto Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Shells
Big ol' post on this recipe here + links to my favorite freezer meals

Taco "Cupcakes"
adapted from Plain Chicken
Taco "Cupcakes"
I spied these on Pinterest and thought they'd be a fun way to {cliche alert} spice up traditional tacos since I had some leftover wontons in the freezer.  {Bonus Point: Way Lower Carb than tacos with your traditional tortilla!}  I was quite pleased with the end result and think these would be really fun party food... perhaps set up in taco bar fashion!  Modifications: I initially wanted to do taco meat + black beans and corn, but only added corn {+ Tillamook medium smoked cheddar} because we didn't need any pre-holiday leftovers, and the beans would have increased my cupcake count by at least 3. Annnnnd I only used one wonton wrapper per cupcake, instead of layering as the original recipe suggests.

Peppermint Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Because we need more sweets...
Um. YUM.  The week before Christmas, driven by my dark chocolate craving and the gift-giving baking necessitated by the holidays, I dreamed these suckers up with a little inspiration from the back of the Ghirardelli package and Two Peas & Their Pod.  Result: Christmas Baking Bliss. 

- 2 1/4 c. unsifted flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 c. butter, softened
- 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 c. sugar 
- 2 tsp. Mexican vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 10oz Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
- 4 candy canes, crushed 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.  Beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated. 

Gradually blend dry mix into creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by heaping tablespoon onto greased cookie sheets or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper / Silpats.  Press candy cane bits into wet cookies.  Bake for 9 -11 minutes {11 minutes on my Silpat / 10 minutes on a regular greased cookie sheet}.  Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then remove to cooling wrack.   Makes 2-3 dozen cookies.

Buttermilk Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze
adapted from Pinch My Salt
Maybe we can call them "rustic?" #notabaker
So... I'm going to call these "rustic"... aka: Not Pretty Like the Picture.  But they are delish!  Notes: The only thing I changed from the recipe was the cranberries... I subbed fresh blueberries. And the blueberries are awesome but my scones definitely needed the lemon glaze for that added kick since they didn't have the tiny extra sugar boost from the sweetened dried cranberries. My one complaint is that the dough is really, really wet.  Like, I triple checked my measurements because I swore I'd added too much buttermilk or too little flour... Nope.  The end result was great, but I have no clue how you'd use a cookie or biscuit cutter as depicted in the original recipe.  Also! I learned a handy new ingredient substitution... make powdered sugar by blending {yes, in your blender... not food processor} 1 c. granulated sugar + 1 T. corn starch.

Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Lemon Pasta
Lemon & Goat Cheese Pasta
E gave me thiscookbook for Christmas {pretty good for something he picked 100% on his own - the photography is gorgeous!} and we spent a little time last Monday looking through it and making a list of recipes to try.  He specifically pointed out a goat cheese and asparagus pasta that was strikingly similar to something I've had pinned for a few weeks.  A very excellent selection indeed!  A bit summery for January, perhaps, but, hey, everyone could stand a little sunshine during the post-holiday slump!  Modifications from the Smitten Kitchen Recipe: W-S's recipe suggested roasting the asparagus which I much prefer to blanching anyhow.  So into the oven it went {450 degrees for 7-10 min with olive oil and kosher salt}, along with a handful of cherry tomatoes I had on hand. I used dried tarragon instead of fresh.  And added red pepper flakes. This did require a few splashes of reserved pasta water and about 1/2 T. of fresh lemon juice.  So easy and really delicious.

Chicken Divan, "Lightened Up"
adapted from Skinny Taste
Chicken Divan
This recipe was a suggestion in the comments on my post about freezer meals. E loved it and was pumped to hear that another portion is now residing in our freezer.  I thought it was just slightly better than average.  It felt like it was lacking something to me... I think stirring a little dijon mustard into the roux might kick it up a bit.  Modifications: You'll notice the quotes around "lightened up"... low fat cheese just does not exist in my world, people. And I usually cook with 2% milk.  Other than that, I didn't deviate from the recipe. 


  1. I have that pasta pinned too - I've been wanting to make it, but it feels weird to eat cold pasta in the winter. Like eating soup in the summer.

  2. I'm with you sister. Low fat cheese is a serious no go. And low fat milk. And low fat desserts. What can I say?


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