Menu 10/29 - 11/4--2010

I haven't been posting menus too reliably lately! Here is what's cooking this week in Chaosville:
Friday--We ordered pizza
Saturday--Spaghetti with some of the sauce I made and froze
Sunday--Chicken & Dumplin's which I PROMISE to blog!
Monday--Sloppy Joe Casserole
Wednesday--Poached Fish and mac & cheese
Thursday--Garlic Chicken Parmesan (provided I can find the soup mix I need, and I will blog this one too!)


Chicken Picante with Rice Tutorial

I have had this recipe for a long time and I am not quite sure where it came from. I think I got it off the Pace Picante Sauce jar to be totally honest. I just know it's one of our favorites!
The Ingredients

1 1/2 cups picante sauce
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard (I actually use a homemade Bourbon mustard)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3 cups cooked, hot rice**

Mix picante sauce, brown sugar, and mustard together in a small bowl.

Place chicken in a shallow baking dish.

Pour sauce mix over chicken.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

Serve over rice. Simple, easy and deelish!!

** A note on cooking rice. I was surprised at how many people I know who claim they can't cook good rice. It is one of the only things I could make when I got married so I will share my method for anyone who is curious.
The Ingredients

4 cups water
2 cups uncooked rice
2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
This will make 4 cups of rice. Basically for the amount of cooked rice you want you use the following formula: for every cup of cooked rice = 1 cup water + 1/2 cup uncooked rice + 1/2 tsp salt + 1 Tbsp butter
Bring water to a boil. Add the rice, salt and butter.
Simmer with the cover on for 20 minutes. NO PEEKING!!
Take off the lid, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.


Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread

This recipe is quite possibly the easiest one I have ever found! You literally put all the ingredients into the bowl of your mixer and turn it on. Once it's all mixed you pour it into a loaf pan and bake it. Awesome!
The Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice **
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan. Combine all ingredients in a large mixer bowl.
Turn on the mixer to medium and when it's well mixed, pour into prepared pan.

Bake 45 - 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in loaf pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

This bread is so good as is but you could add chocolate chips or pecans and it would be even better. My hubby likes it plain so this first loaf I made that way for him. It is so wonderful the next morning after the flavors have had a chance to merge..... or fresh from the oven with a little butter spread on it.... or some cream cheese..... or some peanut butter..... or some Nutella..... oh, boy! I better go make another loaf :) 

**If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own.
**UPDATE** So yummy with 1 cup of semi-sweet chips added just before pouring into loaf pan!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I saw this recipe posted on my Facebook News Feed the other day by the wonderful people who write Two Peas and Their Pod. This is a quick, easy, delicious snack that you have GOT to try if you are a pumpkin-lover like me!
The Ingredients
3 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the oats, spices and salt. In another bowl combine all the remaining ingredients except chocolate chips.

Pour wet mix over oat mix
and combine until all the oats are moist. Add chips.

Press into the prepared pan and bake for 25 - 30 minuutes.
Remove from pan and let cool.

Cut into bars and enjoy!

I like to bag them up in a snack-sized ziplocs for the kids lunches (and mine too!)


Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix

The Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups Cinnamon Chex® cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex® cereal**
2 cups Honey Nut Chex® cereal
8 oz pecans

In small bowl, mix brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. In small microwave-safe dish, microwave butter on High about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in vanilla. In large microwavable bowl, mix all cereals and pecans.

Best way to stir this is with your hands!!
Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Add sugar and spice mixture and stir until coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 5 minutes or until mixture begins to brown, stirring every minute. Spread on wax paper or a cookie sheet to cool. Store in airtight container.

**I often sub in Rice Chex instead because the wheat is hard on my teeth! I also like to use Vanilla Chex when I can find it.


Olive Garden Chicken & Gnocchi Soup (copycat)

Whenever we go to the Olive Garden for lunch, I like to get the soup, salad and bread sticks. My favorite soup, BY FAR, is the Chicken & Gnocchi. I always ask them to make sure there are lots of gnocchis in mine too. Naturally once I started this blog and started cooking more and trying more things, I searched for a similar recipe for this amazing soup. There are a lot of them out there! I have only tried one, but it was so darn good, I just stuck with it. It's pretty easy too, once you chop/grate/julienne everything.
The Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup celery, chopped fine
3/4 cup onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup carrot, grated very fine and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (not pictured)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
4 cups chicken broth or 4 cups fresh chicken stock (I use bouillon)
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (I like to buy a rotisserie chicken at the store. I get the Italian Herb one if they have it)
3/4 cup fresh spinach, julienne cut
16 ounces gnocchi
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (I used Thyme since I had no rosemary)
black pepper & salt to taste

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic and sauté until soft.

Add flour mixing well, cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add heavy cream, milk
and chicken broth mixing well.
Cook and stir until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in chicken, spinach, gnocchi and remaining seasonings.

Adjust seasonings to taste. Cook over low heat 8-10 minutes until gnocchi become tender. (you could also place the ingredients in a Crock-Pot and cook on low for 1- 1 ½ hours, this really makes the flavors come together)


I found this Mini Gnocchi at a fancy-pants grocery store in town. They are perfect for this dish :)


Pumpkin Pancakes

When I logged in to Facebook this morning I scrolled through the posts on my news feed since I went to bed last night. Among them was a link from a friend of mine about the Pumpkin Pancakes she was going to make in the morning. Pumpkin is a magic word for me so I clicked the link and found Martha! With Jayme working nights, I like to make a late, late breakfast on Sunday afternoon when he wakes up. We also have a Breakfast-For-Dinner night almost every week. I decided to try this recipe out since I had all the needed ingredients. (I keep hearing about pumpkin shortages again this year so every time I go to the store I buy a can or two)
The Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves (really Martha? Couldn't give us a measurement?) I used my 1/8 tsp and filled it halfway so I guess I used a 1/16 tsp?
1 cup milk
6 Tbsp pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 egg

Whisk together all dry ingredients.
Mix together all wet ingredients.
Heat skillet or griddle and grease with a little butter.
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Drop by 1/4 cup full onto hot griddle.
Cook for 2 -3 minutes per side and serve with butter and syrup. These were FANTASTIC! Every bite was better than the last. I got 11 pancakes out of this single recipe of batter. These would be really good with chocolate chips in them too, or with some icing-type creamy syrup! Yummalish!!

Jayme's Birthday "Pie"

So we just celebrated Jayme's birthday and the poor guy! His is at the end of a long string of birthdays for the rest of us and by the time his rolls around, we are about caked out in Chaosville! This year he requested some Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream, if I could find it. But I couldn't stop there....
The Ingredients:
1 Oreo Pie Crust
3 pints ice cream I used all Ben & Jerry's flavors New York Super Fudge Chunk, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Milk & Cookies

I set out the Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream for about 30 minutes to soften, then I put some in the bottom of the pie crust and returned it to the freezer.

I did the same thing with the Milk & Cookies to make a middle layer.

Then the New York Super Fudge Chunk went on the top.

Here's the birthday boy blowing out the candles. This was an easy, yummy idea!


Menu 10/8 - 10/14--2010

Friday--We got dinner from Sonic because the really cute glassses that are in the kid's meals right now. I had a Bacon Cheeseburger Toaster and I am still drooling!
Saturday--Chicken Enchiladas (requested by the boys to celebrate their FABULOUS report cards.
Sunday--Lasagna Soup
Monday--Tuna Alfredo
Tuesday--Cheeseburger Biscuit Bake
Thursday-Steak Fingers to celebrate the 35th birthday of my amazing husband!