Thursday, January 22, 2009

Week 2, Winter in Connecticut.....

I'm not sure if it's ever going to stop snowing here in Connecticut! But, one thing is for certain, when it's snowing outside nothing is better then a hearty, warm meal inside. (I think I might be stealing that line from a Campbell's soup commercial) Which brings me to this week's recipes: BBQ Beef Brisket with Steamed Veggies, Chicken Burritos and Spanish Rice, Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadillas and Vegetable Soup, and Tuna Noodle Casserole with Veggies.

The last recipe is similar to one that my mom would make for my brothers and I growing up, it's a total comfort, nostalgic meal for me. The veggies are my healthy addition. If tuna is not your thing, then substitute canned chicken. The Beef Brisket recipe is cooked in a crock pot. Don't worry if you don't have one, I will give directions on how to make it without. However, if you are so inclined to purchase a crock pot, it can be a real life-saver! Throw all the ingredients in, in the morning, and by dinnertime you have a great meal. If you are purchasing one, you DO NOT need one with all the bells and whistles. A 5-6qt crock-pot, a great size for a family of 4 plus, with a low and high setting will suffice.

Finally, don't be discouraged by any of these recipes. I have picked them so that not only the preparation time is short, but so that even a beginner cook can create them. Times are tough, and a lot of people are on budgets, I have taken this into account. For instance, this shopping list (assuming you have the "pantry items" already) will cost you approximately $65.00. I find that if I plan out my meals for the week, I end up saving money that I would have spent on takeout, or already prepared meals-plus I eliminate frequent trips to the grocery store and save money on gas!!

All right, enough chatter-let's get to the recipes!!

Items that you may already have in the fridge or pantry:

olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, butter/margarine, flour, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chili powder, red pepper, ketchup, brown sugar, bread crumbs

**Shopping list:

2 onions

1 head of garlic

9 oz baby spinach

4 oz semi-soft goat cheese

12- 8 inch whole wheat (or regular flour) tortillas

2 medium tomatoes

3 1/2 oz elbow macaroni

1 bunch of celery

2- 5oz cans of tuna

4 oz of cheddar cheese cubes

7 oz jar roasted peppers

1 cup frozen vegetable of choice

1 box of beef bouillon (Herb-Ox or Knorr)

2 1/2 pounds of fresh beef brisket (not corned)

1 rotisserie chicken

1 jar of salsa

1- 3/8 0z can of jalapeno-flavored bean dip (or refried beans)

1 pkg of fajita seasoning

8 oz Monterrey jack cheese

8 oz sour cream

8 oz box of Spanish rice

7 oz can of corn giblets

2-3 cans of favorite vegetable soup

**Most recipes are for 4-6 servings. If you are making more, or less, you will need to adjust the shopping list accordingly**

Beef Brisket with Barbecue Sauce

3/4 cup of water

1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp of vinegar

1 tsp of instant beef bouillon

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 1/2 pound fresh beef brisket

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp butter or margarine

For cooking liquid, in a bowl combine water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, bouillon granules, dry mustard, chili powder, red pepper, and garlic. Reserve 1/2 cup of liquid for sauce; set aside in the refrigerator. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut brisket to fit into a 3/1 or 4 qt crockery cooker. Pour remaining liquid over the brisket.

Cover and cook on a low heat seating for 10-12 hours OR on high-heat setting for 5-6 hours. For sauce, in a small saucepan combine the 1/2 cup reserved liquid, ketchup, brown sugar, and butter. Heat and pass sauce with meat.

Serve with favorite steamed vegetables.

If cooking with a 5-6 qt crock-pot double the cooking liquid, reserving 1/2 cup for the sauce. Leave all other amounts the same. If cooking in the oven, follow the above recipe, however cook the brisket, uncovered, in a roasting pan in a 350 degree oven for approximately 4 hours.

Chicken Burritos

8- 8 inch flour tortillas

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup bottled salsa

1- 3 1/8 oz can jalapeno-flavored bean dip

1 tsp fajita seasoning

8 oz Monterrey jack cheese

sour cream


In a large bowl combine chicken, 1 cup of salsa, the bean dip and fajita seasoning

To assemble, spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture onto each tortilla near one edge. Top meat mixture with a stick of cheese. Fold in sides, and roll up, starting from edge with the filling. Place tortillas, seam sides down, in a greased 3 qt rectangular baking dish.

Top the burritos with shredded cheese, and a little bit of salsa.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven about 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with more salsa and sour cream

Serve with Spanish rice. Add can of corn giblets to the Spanish rice when rice is almost done cooking.

Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Spinach Quesadillas

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced onion

1 tsp of sugar

1/4 tsp of salt

9 ounces of baby spinach

4 ounces of semisoft goat cheese

4 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas

2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sugar and salt; cook stirring occasionally, until onion is a dark golden brown. Remove from pan. Add the spinach and 1 tbsp water to the skillet; cook 2 minutes, or until spinach is just wilted. Remove from skillet and turn off the heat. Spread a quarter of the goat cheese on each tortilla and top with tomato, onion and spinach. Fold closed and press lightly. Heat the skillet and place two folded quesadillas in it (you may need to add a little more oi). Cook two minutes per side, or until golden brown and lightly crisp. Repeat.

Serve with favorite canned vegetable soup.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

To save time, substitute a 10 3/4 ounce can of condensed cream of mushroom soup mixed with 3/4 cup milk for the sauce.

1 cup elbow macaroni

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp butter or margarine, melted

1 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups of milk

2- 5 oz cans of tuna, drained and broken into chunks

1 cup of cheddar cheese cubes

1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers.

1 cup frozen vegetables thawed.

Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, combine the bread crumbs and 1 tbsp of melted butter; set aside.

For sauce, in a medium saucepan cook celery and onion in the 1/4 cup of butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, dry mustard, and black pepper. Add milk all at once, cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Combine sauce, tuna, cheese, roasted pepper, thawed vegetables and cooked noodles. Transfer to a 1 1/2 qt casserole. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and crumb topping is golden.

Serve with garden salad or fruit salad.

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