Monday, August 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Sorry about last week. It was Thursday before I realized I hadn't posted my menu plan, and by then, I figured it was too late anyway. Here's what's on deck for this week:

Grilled Lemon Herb Pork Chops
Cheesy Herb Loaf

Crock Pot Smoked Sausage
Crock Pot Potatoes
Roasted Green Beans

Turkey Club Sandwiches on Homemade Challah
Caesar Salad
Peach Cobbler

Baked Beans
Broccoli Salad

Barbecued Chicken
Dilly Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

A couple of holdovers this week after plans changed last week. Nothing earth-shattering, just family favorites! Have a great week!

Aglio e Olio with Chicken

Stuffed Burgers
Grilled Yukon Golds
Sauteed Zucchini with garlic



Hashbrown casserole

Leftovers/Sandwiches, etc. (Clean out the fridge day!)

Subway sandwiches

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

...on Tuesday. A wonderful friend of mine gave us a gift card for maid service for after our baby was born. Today, I redeemed that gift card. How nice that things got clean in my absence! Alas, they do not de-clutter, so I spent most of yesterday just trying to get things to their rightful put-away places. Menu Plan Monday fell by the wayside.

I do have a plan, though. I have to--this weekend, we're hosting my brother, sister-in-law, and their son, and also my Mom and Dad. I've got to get my ducks in a row when I'm cooking for a crowd.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Mac n Cheese
Broccoli Slaw

Turkey Tenderloin
Potatoes Au Gratin

Clean-out-the-fridge night


Breakfast: Hashbrown casserole, melon
Lunch: Grilled Chicken Salad
Dinner:Chicken Verde Burritos
Black Beans
Yellow Rice

Breakfast: Sausage and Cheddar Quiche, Blueberries, Toast
Lunch: Sandwiches, Chips, Cookies, etc.
Dinner: Grill out-fest: Brats, Italian Sausage, Potato Salad, Baked Beans

Breakfast: Bagels, Cereal, etc.
Lunch: Aglio e Olio w/ Chicken
Dinner: Pizza? Chinese? Some sort of takeout

Friday, August 1, 2008

Naan (Indian Flatbread)

Generally speaking, I like to prepare things that my husband will enjoy eating. The kids, after all, are at that stage where they don't really care about food enjoyment--if it's not candy, it's only good to sustain life. (Unless we're talking about McNuggets, which is a different story.) Anyway, I happen to know that one of my husband's all-time favorite sandwiches is a Chicken Pesto sandwich from a local restaurant. I've had the sandwich, and it's good, but it's basic--nothing that couldn't be re-created at home. So this week, I sought out to do that very thing.

The sandwich consists of grilled chicken, pesto, salad greens, and diced tomatoes (which my husband skips), all sandwiched between two pieces of flatbread. Well, grilled chicken is easy enough. Salad greens? Just snip some from the garden. As for pesto? Well, see this other post. I added thin slices of fresh mozzarella, and sliced tomatoes (for me and for the kids), because you can't go wrong with the mozzarella/tomato/pesto combination. That left the flatbread.

I didn't want to purchase flatbread because HELLO, have you seen the prices on that sort of thing? Besides, how hard can it be to make? I remembered a recipe I had tried back in the day from a very old Fleischman's Yeast promotional recipe booklet--called "Arab Bread," it was the nearest thing I've ever had to a flatbread I ate while on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic in high school. It was good, but I thought that it might be a bit too thick and dense for a sandwich. Then I thought of Naan. I'd seen it in the grocery store, and I knew that it is traditionally served with Indian cuisine (which I don't like). It looked thin, but substantial enough to hold together for a sandwich--in short, perfect for this application. The main drawback, again, was that it was so blooming expensive, I couldn't justify purchasing it. I'd have to try to make it.

I went online to, my go-to for recipe basics, and sorted Naan recipes by rating. The recipe I chose to try was the highest rated recipe, which even readers from Naan-eating countries deemed closest to the real thing. I made the dough on Tuesday for Grilled Pizza and liked it so much, I made it again on Thursday for my Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwiches. The long and the short of it is this: Abe actually thought this sandwich was better than its restaurant-originated counterpart, due in large part to the bread. As a matter of fact, as I was finishing up this post, Abe came home from work, rummaged furiously through the fridge and asked, "Do we have any more of that bread??"

I do not take a compliment from Abe very lightly. This recipe is a keeper! It's also EASY, even if you don't have a mixer suitable for making bread--the dough is very soft and pliable, very easy to work with. And the cooking time is brief--the bread cooks on the stove top, so there's no need to heat your oven or your house. For me, this is a big plus in summertime! So there you have it. I don't like Indian food, except for Naan. Please give this wonderful flatbread a try! It's super for sandwiches, for grilled pizza, or just for eating with spreads like hummus, if you like that sort of thing. Go forth with confidence.

Note: I've just looked over the instructions, and man, am I WORDY. But read through it, and you'll see that even though I used a lot of words to describe the process, it's still really simple. Don't be put off my my inability to self-edit.

adapted from

1 pkg. yeast (approx. 2 1/4 tsp)
1 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar, divided (1 Tbsp. and 3 Tbsp.)
3 Tbsp. milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
approx. 4 1/2 c. bread flour*
melted butter
1 tsp. garlic powder

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the warm water and the sugar. Sprinkle yeast over surface of water to moisten, and wait about 5-10 minutes for it to "proof," or get foamy. If it doesn't get foamy, try again--this means your yeast has DIED. RIP.

In the meantime, whisk together the milk and the egg. Combine the remaining 3 Tbsp. sugar, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. When the yeast is done proofing, dump in the milk mixture and combine, then dump in the sugar mixture, and stir to combine. Then begin adding flour. *I don't even measure the flour at this point, because the important thing is just to add in flour until the mixture forms a dough and pulls away from the side of the bowl. I seriously doubt I use 4 1/2 cups, as the recipe calls for, but you'll want to have this much on hand just in case, I suppose.

When you've stirred in as much flour as it will incorporate, knead the dough a few times on the counter just to get it smooth and not sticky. Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn to coat (or just brush it with a little oil). Let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour, or until it's doubled in size. [I like to fill a 2 c. measuring cup with water and bring it to a boil in the microwave, then put the dough into the micro. with the hot water, and let it rise there--using this method, I only let it rise 45 minutes, and it's already doubled]

After it has doubled, turn it out on a floured countertop and flatten it, then divide it into 6-8 pieces (depending on how large you want your bread). Shape the pieces into balls, spray with a bit of oil or non-stick spray, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 30 minutes.

Right before you're ready to cook the bread, melt the butter and mix in the garlic powder.

Now, the fun part: heat up a griddle or a large non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Stretch your dough into flatbreads--make them very thin, because they'll puff up quite a bit! Toss the bread right onto the griddle or pan, cook for about 2-3 minutes, then flip, and cook for 2-3 more. Most of the dough will still be very light in color, but it will have darker spots where it bubbled and had contact with the pan. Remove from the pan and brush with the butter. Repeat as needed.

NOW. Last night, I only used half the dough, used the grill side of my griddle pan, and made four nearly dinner plate-sized breads, which I folded in half for the sandwiches. It took all of 10 minutes to cook the bread, and we served it warm. If you're using it for a crowd or for pizza, go ahead and use all the dough--even when I only used 3/4 of the recipe, it made 3 large pizzas. But it's so yummy, you may want to make it all, because then you can snack on it. It's that good.


Yet another entry from the "I Thought It Would Be Gross" files. I first had pesto on a sandwich called St. Basil's Delight at a cute little restaurant in Grand Rapids called The Brittany Cafe. Just down a block or two from my place of employment, "The Brit" was a frequent lunch destination for us. We had plenty of opportunity to try menu items, and I personally wouldn't have ordered this one on my own, but my colleague and roommate, Beth, ordered the St. Basil and let me try a bite. I believe I said something along the lines of, "Basil, where have you been all my life?" or "Humminahumminahummina."

Armed with the knowledge that I liked pesto, I felt confident ordering a pesto dish at another Grand Rapids restaurant, this time the Bistro Bella Vita. Bistro Bella Vita is a little swankier than The Brit, so the fact that the pesto/pasta dish was the cheapest thing on the menu also influenced my decision to order. Thankfully, this combination of roasted chicken, bow tie pasta, toasted pine nuts, and a pesto cream sauce was magically delicious. At that point, having tried pesto in a sandwich and on pasta, and having liked it quite well in both instances, I added pesto to the list of Things I Like to Eat, and began seeking it out.

It was only natural, then, that I would want to try to make my own pesto. This summer, with our garden full to bursting with basil, seemed the perfect time to try it. I used this recipe, and it did not disappoint--I've eaten pesto on various foodstuffs three times in the past week. And with the stockpile of pesto I've already frozen using this recipe, I plan to keep on enjoying it for a long time.


1 garlic clove
1/4 c. pine nuts or walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 c. basil leaves
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/3 c. olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, whirl the garlic clove (sometimes I use more cloves if they're small), nuts, cheese, and basil together until it forms a stiff paste. Then, with the blade running, drizzle in the olive oil until it forms a slightly less-thick paste.

Pesto is great on a sandwich or pizza. To use it with pasta, combine it with about 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking water to thin it out a bit, then toss it with the pasta, and serve.

Yum! Give it a try!