Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Click the image above to participate and see lots of other great menu plans!

Just got back from the grocery store with Dee and Mouse, and somehow I managed to spend $120 for the week. That's a lot, in case you were thinking I was bragging about being frugal. Good thing this isn't a blog about how to stretch your dollar. Although to be fair I did stock up on a few staples and household items.

I've only got five meals planned this week, because we are definitely going out to eat for my birthday later in the week, and with Labor Day weekend I'm not sure what our plans are yet. Anyhow, here's what's on the menu:

Green chile chicken enchiladas (yum) and corn on the cob
Sweet potato ravioli (this is a new to me recipe, and my prediction is that I will love it but everyone else at the table will shake their heads. Too bad for them!)
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Baked Ziti (I'll use the penne in my pantry) and a salad
Orange chicken (from a bag in the freezer) and rice

Here are a couple of non-dinner recipes I'm also planning to make this week:

Coconut Avocado Smoothie
Homemade Granola Bars

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I was skeptical about making breadsticks because I've tried a couple of recipes that were total flops. Then I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe (which is an awesome recipe blog), and I decided to give breadsticks another chance. I'm so glad I did, because I've made these three times now, and they have turned out great every time! Mia, who is the biggest bread lover in the family, is always asking me to make them.

Divine Breadsticks

*Note: start making the dough about an hour and 20 minutes before you want to serve these.

1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour (I use white whole wheat flour for one of the cups and all-purpose for the rest)
½ teaspoon salt
dried herbs - rosemary, basil, and thyme (or whatever you have/prefer)
3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)

Mix all ingredients except melted butter in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. I use my food processor with the dough blade attachment. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet (jelly roll pan). Roll out the breadstick dough about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Twist slightly and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs, and parmesan cheese.

Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven during rising time to 375 degrees.Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve alongside pasta, preferably with sauce to dip them in!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

This is a super healthy, fresh pasta sauce that will make your kitchen smell heavenly. I found it quite a while back on A Thousand Words, where Jen blogs about organization, decor, fashion, and her life in England. You'll love it.

Anyway, back to the recipe. You start with some fresh veggies:
Rinse them off good:
(My daughter Dee is my best kitchen helper)
Dice them, then stick them in a large (or two regular) roasting pan with some spices and olive oil:
Roast them in the oven for about an hour (this is the part where your kitchen smells divine):
Add some canned tomatoes, serve over pasta, and devour.
If you have picky eaters like mine, you can pulse some in the blender to make it smooth, like "regular" spaghetti sauce:
Which is also great for dipping bread sticks. I ate mine chunky (although I will make the chunks a little smaller next time):
(Delicious bread stick recipe to come.)

Here's the full recipe. Original recipe here.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

1 eggplant
2-3 zucchinis
1 red onion
3 red bell peppers
fresh basil
garlic powder (to taste)
1-2 T olive oil
1 t balsamic vinegar
3-4 cans diced tomatoes

Preheat your oven to about 350°F. Dice the vegetables into small chunks, between half an inch and an inch in size, and put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle on chopped fresh (or dried) basil, ground garlic powder, olive oil, and vinegar. Place vegetables into roasting pan(s) so they aren't layered too deeply. Bake for 50 minutes, stirring once halfway through, or until soft but not too blackened (a little bit of singeing is ok).

Remove from the oven, add tomatoes, and stir. Return to oven for 10 minutes until warmed through. Serve over pasta or rice.

Note: This makes a LOT. I recommend feeding an army, or freezing some in batches (a great quick lunch later). Jen also recommends sometimes skipping the tomatoes, and just adding the roasted vegetables to cooked, cooled pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and feta cheese for a wonderful summer salad. That sounds awesome to me, minus the feta, plus a different kind of cheese. I don't do feta.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Salad

I think I have a new favorite salad--one that is definitely going into the regular dinner rotation. I made this last night and WOW it was delicious! The barbeque and cilantro flavors worked surprisingly well together, the tortilla strips added the perfect crunch, and the whole thing just tasted so fresh. Perfect for a summer day. Original recipe found here.

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Salad

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup BBQ sauce (to taste)

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 ear of corn (or 1 can, drained)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, diced

thin corn tortilla strips, fried in oil

Boil corn for 4-5 minutes, then remove from heat and rinse with cold water. Cut kernels from cob and chill. Fry corn tortilla strips in a deep fryer or skillet, then drain and salt. Stir shredded chicken in with the BBQ sauce until well coated. Layer in a large bowl (or on separate salad bowls) lettuce, cilantro, corn, beans, onions, tomatoes, avocados, and chicken. Top with tortilla strips. Drizzle ranch dressing over the top and enjoy!

My notes:

Because of the time it takes to chop up the veggies and prepare the salad, it helps me to have pre-cooked chicken on hand. Last time chicken was on sale, I slow-cooked a whole bag of it with some broth, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then I shredded it and froze it in batches. For this salad I took a bag out and mixed the BBQ sauce right into the bag.

You could easily used canned or frozen corn and I probably will on some occasions. If you want to be healthier you can also bake the tortilla strips (sprayed with cooking oil) instead of frying, as in the original recipe. But I love the deep fried strips.

Also, because of picky eaters, I kept all the toppings separate and just put them out on the table so everyone could build their own salad. I think I am the only one who put on every single topping. And I LOVED it.

Food Blog!

I find myself blogging a lot about food. I like to post my weekly meal plans when I can, and I'm also finding a need for more organization when it comes to my favorite recipes. Thus, the decision to start Janell's Kitchen blog. {I love that my name is uncommon enough that the blog URL is not already taken.}

Most of what I make is not original, but I do tend to modify recipes to my own tastes. I will post the recipes as I make them, and if there is a web site for where I got the original recipe, I'll link to that to. Pictures will be my own or I will cite their source.

So, welcome! If you make any recipes from this site, I hope you will comment and let me know what you thought!