Monday, August 24, 2009

The Birthday Salad

I didn't manage to get a photo of this salad before I served it - the guests at my son's birthday party were hungry! It's got a lot of the same ingredients you might find on your favorite pizza. I assembled the following ingredients on Friday night, and let it marinate over night in the fridge:

16-oz box of rotini pasta, cooked, drained & rinsed
1, 3.8 oz. can of pitted, sliced black olives, drained
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
8 oz. sliced mushrooms, rinsed
4 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 bottle of Italian salad dressing
garlic salt & black pepper to taste
Before serving, I should have sprinkled parmesan cheese over the top, but I never took it out of the cupboard. I think everyone liked it anyway.

This recipe easily fed about 20 people (as a side dish), and we still had leftovers afterward. I used two packets of the Good Seasonings Italian Salad Dressing mix and mixed those according to the directions on the package. If you want a stronger seasoning, I would recommend sprinkling a bit of the seasoning mix (unprepared) into the salad before you marinate overnight.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another Birthday Party!

I love parties – especially the kind where your guests can help prepare their own food :)

We are having a party for my middle-son’s 15th birthday tomorrow – complete with bonfire, s’mores and cake. In hopes of keeping the kitchen cool, I will be purchasing a few packs of hotdogs, which the partygoers will be able to roast on their own. I will also put together a salad and serve the other obvious sides (a.k.a. baked beans and chips). Yes, there will be photos – I have to, because you will want it for the salad recipe. So hang on for another day or two – the recipe is in the works!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Diet Wagon

If I drink Slim-Fast for breakfast and then have a
glazed donut with my coffee during my morning break, does it really mean I’ve fallen off the diet wagon? And landed squarely on a big, cushy pile of bakery items?

I’d like to think that all of the fresh veggies from the garden and the Slim-Fast (even though it is the milk-chocolate flavored kind) balance out all of the sweets my co-workers insist on sharing. Sitting in a cube has its disadvantages, like being the one who is located closest to the cabinet where all the goodies are put after meetings! I was doing so good, too: my desk was stocked with organic cereal bars and fruit, a few cans of Slim-Fast just in case I either forgot to pack a healthy lunch or was just too rushed to grab something before leaving the house in the morning.

I need to work on replacing all of the quick stuff (a.k.a. unhealthy, overly-processed fast-food type stuff) in my freezer with some healthier, home-cooked meals for when I am short on time. I used to do this when the kids were younger and my husband and I worked opposite shifts.

Some of the things I prepared extra of and froze were lasagna, tater-tot hotdish and chili. The chili isn’t so bad for you, but I really need to work on finding a few more healthy (and tasty) short cuts to add to my quick-to-cook arsenal.

I’ve been really slacking lately, as far as the home-cooking goes. Frozen pizza and chimichangas are far to enticing in the frozen foods aisle. I know this because I saw a horrible picture of myself taken by my husband a couple of weeks ago. Let’s just say I won’t be sharing that photo on any of my blogs! It was less than flattering.

Here’s my healthy recipe for this week. This is a bare-bones recipe that can be added to however you wish, so have fun!

Crunchy Mandarin Almond Salad With Chicken

1 package ramen noodles, broken apart into small pieces and separated
1 small can Mandarin oranges
½ a head of lettuce, torn or shredded
¼ cup toasted almonds
sesame oil
1 grilled, skinless, boneless chicken breast – cut into strips or bite-sized pieces (or substitute 1 can of cooked chicken)
sliced red onion
Dressing of your choice: a fat free poppy seed or any Asian-inspired dressing you like will do.

Sautee the ramen noodles in hot sesame oil until lightly toasted. Remove noodles from pan and put chicken in the pan to heat through. While chicken is warming, toss toasted ramen noodles with remaining ingredients (except dressing), then top with the chicken immediately before serving.

Here’s a list of additions, if you want to add more:
Dried cranberries
Sunflower seeds
Sesame seeds
Sliced green onion
Sliced red or green cabbage
Chopped bell peppers (any color)
Fresh edemame (baby soybeans in the pod)
Fresh sugar-snap peas
The greatest thing I love about salad is that you can mix together just about any combination of vegetables and it still tastes good :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Rhubarb Is Officially Done!

There it is. The last of it. I picked the last few stalks of rhubarb, sliced them neatly into 1" pieces, measured 2 cups into each small baggie, then tossed those baggies into labeled, gallon-size freezer bags. Most recipes that call for rhubarb require multiples of 2-cup measures, so this way I do not have to measure it later. No preparation is required before freezing, so it's really quick and easy. I don't even need to include directions for this one! It does last a very long time in the freezer, though - so I do recommend dating the freezer bag.

I still haven't gone through the stuff from last year. I will be baking rhubarb cake and crisp again as soon as it cools down. Like I'm really disappointed with that! Hah! Well, the scale might not like it, but I guess that means I will have to share :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Marinated Zucchini & Peppers

Simple stuff to throw on the grill. Yum. If you slice the veggies thick enough, put them right on to the grill, otherwise, make a shallow bowl of tin foil & add them about 6 or 7 minutes before the meat is done grilling. Mmm...

sliced vegetables - zucchini, peppers, onions - whatever you like
Italian dressing

Combine & marinate for about 20 minutes or so, then grill.

: ) Short & sweet - no mess, no cleanup!