Saturday, October 30, 2010

Menu Plan - 10/30 to 11/5

It's that time of week already, time to plan another weekly menu plan before grocery shopping. Last week's went as scheduled up until Friday, when I was sick so my husband took over dinner and made Bell & Evan chicken tenders with buffalo and BBQ dipping sauces, fries and sugar snap peas. However, I'm feeling better now and ready to start a new week of menu planning!

I'm still trying to stick to healthy recipes, but I want to get out of the meal rut we've been in lately. So I finally cracked open this wonderful cookbook my friend Maggie gave us for our Housewarming party, from America's Test Kitchen. So the focus is healthy with one junk day, and leftovers for busy nights when we can't cook.

So, here goes:

Saturday (Tonight) - We're going vegetarian. I'm making a portabella and veggie stir fry from the America's Test Kitchen book. I'll likely pair it with brown rice.

Sunday - Happy Halloween! I'm considering this junk day. We'll be munching on cheese and crackers as an appetizer, then to avoid a complete junk food hangover I'll make sauteed lime shrimp with a chili dipping sauce and a salad for dinner, followed by Butterbeer for dessert. And I'm sure we'll be dipping into the Halloween candy bowl as well!

Monday - Class night. Hubby will have leftovers or make Trader Joe's boxed GF mac and cheese. I'll eat on the run, probably a KIND bar and a couple pieces of fruit.

Tuesday - GF pasta night. Penne with vodka and a salad sounds good.

Wednesday - Trying another America's Test Kitchen recipe for skillet roasted chicken and red potatoes. Served with Italian-style green beans (sauteed in garlic and olive oil).

Thursday - Chicken leftovers.

Friday - Fish, take two. :) I have to see what looks good, but definitely served with red potatoes and broccoli.

As for baking:
  • Sandwich bread for hubby during the week
  • I keep meaning to try this cinnamon roll recipe with GF Bisquick - maybe tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween and Harry Potter Butterbeer

Halloween is right around the corner! While I'm not thrilled about the colder weather, I love this time of year. Starting with Halloween, we get into this festive, celebratory, holiday party mode that lasts up until New Years. I've shared a picture of our puggle Phoebe who we dressed as a "piggle" for the APF's Howl-o-ween event last weekend. Isn't she cute??? :)

Unfortunately, it looks like our party-plans may be on hold due to a nasty bug that's been going around. (I said "adult" originally here, and then realized that it sounded a little worse than a whole bunch of late 20- and 30-somethings getting dressed up and throwing a few back at a house party.)

However, we're still planning to hand out loads and loads of candy on Sunday, and we've planned a Harry Potter marathon that day -- mostly because the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is coming out, and I absolutely hate gory movies (think the Saw series), so wizarding movies seemed like a decent Halloween choice. Plus, we've seen the movies so many times that answering the doorbell won't be that big of a deal!

Anyway - to make it a little special, I started looking for recipes for Harry Potter's Butterbeer.

The first recipe for Butterbeer I found was on Shine, and it looked pretty good, consisting of ginger ale or club soda, butterscotch sauce, vanilla ice cream, and optionally rum. Sounds like a yummy version of a soda float! Still, I figured, let's see what other people have to say on the topic.

MuggleNet, the authoritative source on this type of thing, suggests using club or cream soda, butterscotch sauce, and real butter. Hmm... this sounds a little too buttery for my taste.

I found a similar news article that also suggested the addition of rum extract -- definitely a possibility.

And finally, I found a site that aggregated 10 different butterbeer recipes.

The most interesting ones I found on the site were Recipe #2, which called for an entire CUP of Butterscotch Schnapps and 7 cups of cream soda (Now, I've been known to make some pretty lethal punch, but that seems like a lot!)

Now, Recipe #4 calls for root beer OR cream soda, honey, and butter. Now, this is the first recipe that I've seen that actually calls for root beer (after all, it's butter BEER). That's promising.

However, Recipes #9 and #10 look the best.

Recipe #9 calls for vanilla ice cream, root beer, butterscotch syrup, and whipped cream with chopped nuts. It's basically a glorified root beer float, but yum!

Recipe #10 calls for vanilla ice cream, butter, brown sugar, spices, and sparkling apple cider, which just sounds yummy.

I think we're going to go with root beer, either Vanilla or Edy's butter pecan ice cream, and butterscotch sauce. Perhaps a little bit of dark rum for those of us who haven't come down with this horrible bug.

What are your plans for Halloween???

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

OK, here goes, trying another Menu Plan Monday.

The biggest constraint that I have in planning my menu is speed. I (sometimes) have time to cook on the weekends, but during the week, not so much. Between work, commuting, part-time classes and the homework/studying they entail, and various social commitments, it can be hard getting a quick and easy dinner on the table by 7 PM. I just don't have time for long meals, and while I admittedly keep Starfish Cod and Bell & Evans chicken in the freezer for emergencies, I really don't want to live on convenience food. My goal is (relatively) healthy meals that are easy to prepare and don't exceed our (admittedly generous) grocery budget.

I usually allow one day a week for a "junky" dinner like pizza, nachos, or something like that. It's usually on Sundays (football day) but last week occurred during one of the Yankees-Rangers games. So we're trying to be healthy this week. :)

I'll start with Saturday (yesterday) since that's when I did my meal planning and grocery shopping:

Saturday - Salmon sauteed in olive oil, white wine and Old Bay. Served with baked potato, sauteed portabella mushroom (in white wine and garlic salt), and kernel corn.

Sunday - Crock pot chicken. Take a whole roaster chicken, cook in the crock pot for approx. 6 hours. Coat with BBQ sauce. Serve with potato, green beans.

Monday - Own own. Hubby usually does leftovers, I usually scarf down a KIND bar and a piece of fruit on my way from work to class.

Tuesday - Leftover chicken, rice, and mixed veggies (grean beans, corn, carrots).

Wednesday - Pasta. I'm planning a meatless take on Uno's Rattlesnake pasta - gluten free penne with alfredo sauce and broccoli. Mix together the ingredients, add a couple of jalapenos and a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese to melt on top of it. I make it a little better for me by steaming extra broccoli on the side and watching my pasta portions.

Thursday - Has to be another quick night because of hubby's bowling league. Pasta leftovers.

Friday - Fish night. Whatever looks good at Offshore Pier in East Greenbush or Two Cousins in Newton Plaza on the way home from work. When in doubt, baked tilapia.

For lunch this week, I am bringing in green salad with avocado (if it ripens in time, else chickpeas or crumbled cheese), fresh veggies, and my recently discovered favorite, raspberry viniagrette. :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Annnnd the winner is....

mjdolce won the MyBlogSpark Bisquick gluten free giveaway. I'll be contacting you on Twitter shortly for your contact information.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Easy Appetizer: Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

I love Rachael Ray - she's fun, and she's got some awesome ideas. It doesn't hurt that she's originally from the 518 - before she was really huge I remember my mom taking me to a small class she was teaching on cheese. :)

Anyway - my husband and I found ourselves getting into a little food rut, so I went on her webpage for inspiration. Among other recipes, I found this yummy-sounding recipe for a pepperoni pizza puff appetizer. When I read it, the back of my mind was saying "I bet this could be another use for the GF Bisquick mix" and besides, everything in the recipe is pretty yummy so it has to be good right?

Well, yesterday we had some people over for a fire and pumpkin carving. I couldn't see this recipe really turning out badly (Yanno, the whole "there's no such thing as bad pizza or bad..." philosophy) and I know my non-gluten free friends (usually) don't mind being guinea pigs, so I tried them out.

They disappeared.

No one could even tell they were gluten free - they were a super yummy finger food!

Here's Rachael's recipe with my modifications:


  • 3/4 cup GF Bisquick baking mix
  • 3/4 teaspoon GF baking powder
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) - I used more. I had an open-but-mostly full package of mozzarella cheese that I emptied into the bowl, so I'd say I used something in the ballpark of 1.5 cups. Plus I used a little bit cheddar/mozz mix for sprinkling on top at the end - maybe .5 cup.
  • 4 ounces pepperoni, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup) - I used about half a cup here but they definitely needed more.
  • 1/2 cup store-bought pizza sauce - I used Ragu doctored with pizza spices.
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil - Added to the Ragu
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced - I omitted this.


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

  2. Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. -- I baked them for 18 minutes, then let them out to cool for about 10. Right before people were supposed to get there, I sprinkled the puffs with some cheddar/mozz and put them back in just long enough to heat them up and melt the cheese - 5 minutes, if that.

  3. Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil. Serve the puffs and red pepper slices with the pizza sauce for dipping.

I had the puffs on a platter, and you could spoon the hot pizza sauce onto plates for dipping them in. If I had to guess the puffs lasted about 15 minutes. :)

These are on my list to bring over to my GF mother-in-law's next time I see them - bonus, because everyone enjoys them! We had 5-6 people and I think I could have easily doubled the recipe and they still would have disappeared.