Mango Quinoa Salad (with Grilled Chicken)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's early on a gorgeous Thursday morning.  The sun is shining and the kids are all starting to pop out of bed while I sit here, typing up this wonderful, super-healthy dish straight from the recipe archives of The Biggest Loser.    I'm reminiscing (from just two days ago) about how much we all enjoyed the hearty flavor and texture of this superfood dish and how perfectly the fresh hot grilled chicken complemented the savory and sweet combination of flavors.....perfect for a Memorial Day barbecue!    It got me to wondering..... if I added a few black beans and mango slices to the plate of Mom's Breakfast Cake I have in front of me, could I count that as healthy too? 

Source:  Biggest Loser and Our Best Bites
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa at room temperature, or chilled* (you can usually find quinoa near the rice in the grocery store)
1 can (15.5-ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium mango, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar (we only used 2 tablespoons and thought it was perfect)

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbs. lime juice
1 Tbs. sugar (optional)
salt, pepper--to taste
Grilled chicken (if using as a main dish)

* You can cook the quinoa in plain water or in vegetable/chicken broth.  By itself we prefer the quinoa cooked in water, but the broth cooked quinoa was fabulous in the salad. 

Place quinoa in a large bowl.   Add mango, red pepper, green onion, black beans, and cilantro.   In a small bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, and sugar. Whisk until smooth and pour on top of salad.  Toss to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.  For main dish, serve at room temperature with hot grilled chicken.  For a side dish, serve chilled.  Makes 4-6 servings.  Enjoy! 


One-Pot Spaghetti

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It always cracks me up when I ask my family for suggestions of what to add to my dinner menus each week and invariably someone always says spaghetti.  Me?  I'm not such a spaghetti fan myself, but I do like to make things that my family will actually eat.  This recipe took spaghetti to a whole new level of simplicity...with everything cooking all in the same pot.  At first my kids were wary of the noodles being in the sauce instead of underneath it, but their hesitancy was short-lived once they actually tasted it.  Serve this up with some crusty bread and a green salad and you've got a great, well-rounded meal!  Enjoy! 

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
 Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef or ground sausage (I used a 1/2 lb. each of beef and sausage)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large can (32-ounces) chicken broth (4 cups)
3 cups water
2 cans (6-ounces each) tomato paste
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 box (12-ounces) dried spaghetti, broken
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:  In a large saucepan cook the ground beef and/or sausage, onion, and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain. 

Stir in the broth, water, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and pepper.  Bring to boiling.  Add the broken spaghetti, a little at a time, stirring constantly.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently, uncovered, for 17-20 minutes or until spaghetti is tender and sauce is of the desired consistency, stirring frequently.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy! 

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Pineapple-Coconut Watergate Cake

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I have no idea why someone named this tropical tasting, cool and creamy dessert such a politically loaded name as  "Watergate", but no matter....the only scandal that you'll have to worry about when you make this cake is who gets the last piece! 

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:***(note:  instead of Cool Whip, I used 1 cup of whipped whipping cream combined with about 1/3 cup sugar)

1 yellow cake mix, prepared and baked as directed on box
1 pkg. (8-ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups milk, divided
2 pkg. (3-ounces each) instant pudding (I used vanilla, but it's more traditional to use pistachio pudding)
1 container (8-ounces) Cool Whip, thawed
1 can (20-ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup coconut, toasted** (see note below)

Directions:  Bake cake as directed on package.  Set aside and allow to cool completely.  Beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup milk in large bowl until smooth.  Add pudding mixes and remaining 2-1/2 cups milk.  Whip until smooth.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Pour over cooled cake and smooth out.  Top with drained crushed pineapple and toasted coconut.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours or until topping is set.  Serve cold.  Enjoy! 

**NOTE:  You can toast the coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat for around 5 minutes, or until lightly browned  or darker if you like. 

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Menu 5/23 - 5/29

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's been a LOOOOOOOONG week at our house (a car needing thousands of dollars of repairs in the same week as our other car getting totaled will do that to you).   I'm starting this week with trepidation as we wait to hear the verdict from the insurance company on our crashed car and a second opinion on the other car needing repairs.  I'm hoping somewhere during the week to squeeze in a long nap, because my brain needs all the restorative, sanity building time it can manage!

Enough with the complaining, here's this week's menu: 

MONDAY--Mushroom, Asparagus, Walnut Pasta--with mushrooms and asparagus in it, I'm still in shock that this is one of my kids' favorite meals. 

Ice Cream in a Bag (no ice cream maker required)--My kids absolutely love this do-it-yourself ice cream for a family home evening treat

TUESDAY--Zucchini Soup-- I'm missing all the soups in our menu, so thought this one would be a good warm weather one this week
Braided Bread-- a new easy bread my family loves

WEDNESDAY--Mango Quinoa Salad with grilled chicken(new)
Freshly Squeezed Orange-Lime-Lemonade--This stuff is crazy good and so, so perfect for a hot day

THURSDAY--Chicken and Bean Baked Taquitos--it's going to be a crazy night, so this super easy/healthy meal will be just the ticket!

Whole-Grain Oatmeal Waffles (made as pancakes) with Buttermilk Caramel Syrup---We love these healthy, whole grain waffles
Grilled Hot Dogs and Burgers
Dad's Coleslaw--the yummiest way to eat some cabbage!

SATURDAY--Quiche Lorraine--a hearty breakfast for a day when all the kids' activities are canceled for Memorial Day weekend
Daddy's Special Grilling Marinade (new)

Dinner:  TBD
Dessert:  Orange Jello Cream Cake--a cool treat for a summer day (sometimes we make ours lime instead of orange)

Go check Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plans!

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Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Friday, May 20, 2011

So, this definitely isn't the most glamorous looking meal you've ever seen, but it has a wonderful taste, and best of all, it's about as easy as they come to throw together.  It was a quick 15-minute prep-time and 20 minutes of baking....perfect for a quick week-night meal that the whole family will enjoy!  Usually at least one of my kids has a complaint about what I'm cooking each night, not that they get to say anything insulting or get anything else to eat, but still they let it be known that whatever I've made isn't  their favorite.  Not this though....this won 100% approval down the ranks and I especially enjoyed the fact that my husband made it completely by himself (hence fewer pictures than usual)!  Serve it up with some French Peasant Bread and enjoy! 

Sources:  See Jane in the Kitchen and Pioneer Woman
Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:
1 lb.  ground beef (I used ground turkey)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small cans (8-ounces each) tomato sauce
1 can (15-ounces) whole-kernel corn, drained
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
1 pkg. (12-ounces) egg noodles
1-1/4 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 cup shredded cheese ( I used cheddar)

Directions:  Brown ground beef in skillet with garlic cloves. Drain fat and add tomato sauce, corn, salt and pepper and allow to simmer while you prepare the rest. Cook egg noodles al dente. Drain pasta and toss with the cottage cheese, sour cream, fresh ground pepper and green onions.

Add half the noodle mixture to a small baking dish (8x11-inch), top with half the ground beef, top with half the cheese. Finish with the remainder of the noodles, ground beef and top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve with crusty bread (like French Peasant Bread).  Enjoy!


Braided Bread

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Because this recipe was a staple in my home growing up, I sometimes wonder if that is the reason I love it so much. It has become a comfort food as it reminds me of the treasured memories of being with my mother in her kitchen. But then when I take this bread to a dinner party, deliver it to a friend in need, or serve it to company, I am reminded that it's just plain good on it's own... childhood memories or not! It is my most requested recipe by far. 

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

2 Tbs. yeast
1-1/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1/4 cup soft butter (not melted)
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (2.9-oz.) dry custard mix (or vanilla pudding mix)
3-4 cups flour (I usually use all white flour, but Lara's pictures are shown using 2 cups of white whole wheat flour and the rest white)

Directions:  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add softened butter, salt, and dry custard mix.  Stir until dissolved.  Gradually add flour to right consistency.  Knead dough 12 times (or 2 minutes in mixer).
Divide dough into 6 equal portions and roll out into a long shape.  Braid 3 together for a loaf. 
Place on greased cookie sheet.  Let rise 2 hours (or until doubled). 
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Makes 2 loaves.
NOTE:  Don't use sugar free varieties of custard or vanilla pudding mixes.   I made my first batch using Bird's Custard mix and I didn't realize until after the loaf was hard and flavorless that it contained absolutely no sugar.  I recommend just using the Jello brand custard or pudding mixes.


Thank you to my cousin Trisha for sharing one of her very family favorite recipes!  We've enjoyed this Trisha-made bread many times and loved it every time (even thawed out after being frozen).  I just started making it myself  and it is absolutely wonderful....a new family favorite for us!

One more word of warning from Lara:  Whatever you do, if you happen to be totally exhausted from overextending yourself once again and you think you're going to make some of your cousin's bread so you can take a few pictures for her post....

(Yep, I stopped in the middle of  arranging the ingredients and fell sound asleep right there on the chair.  It wasn't a long nap though, since I was quickly awakened by the sounds of my daughter clicking away on the camera.)

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Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I've always been intrigued by dinner foods that call for everyday, but off-the-wall soda pop, but I have this problem that has thus far prevented me from ever trying one of those recipes myself.  It turns out that when you don't give your kids the opportunity to have a food (or carbonated beverage) very often, that it becomes a  forbidden fruit which sends them into frenzied sneaking behaviors whenever it's in the house (no teenage boy's names mentioned).  

After a couple of failed attempts at having all the ingredients for this dish in stock, I finally decided to hide the root beer in a place where they would never find it before I needed it---the bottom of their empty clothes hamper.  :)    I got the pork started while the kids were in school, so they didn't actually see me adding the root beer, but it didn't seem to matter whether they knew of the presence of soda (or "pop" if you live in the West),  they still devoured these tender, flavorful sandwiches with the reckless abandon of red meat/soda deprived children.  :) The kids and hubby all gave it five stars....while I gave it a four star rating for wishing the sauce was a little thicker.  In any case, they're good, easy, and perfect for a summer gathering!  Enjoy! 

 Source:  Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

2-1/2 to 3 -pound pork sirloin roast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
4 cups root beer, divided  (DON'T use diet root beer)
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 bottle  (12-ounces)  chili sauce
Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce, to taste (optional)
8-10 hamburger buns, toasted
Lettuce leaves
Tomato slices

  Trim fat from meat if necessary.  Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet brown meat on all sides in hot oil.  Drain off fat.  Transfer meat to slow cooker.  Add onions, only ONE CUP of the root beer, and garlic.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours. 

Meanwhile, for sauce, in medium saucepan combine the remaining root beer (3 cups) and the jar of chili sauce.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally , about 30 minutes or until mixture has reduced to 2 cups.  If desired, add hot pepper sauce to taste.   

Transfer meat to a cutting board.  With a slotted spoon remove onions and set aside.  Discard cooking juices.  Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds.  To serve, if desire, line TOASTED buns with lettuce leaves and tomato slices.  Add meat and onions; spoon on sauce. 


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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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