Alley's Recipe Book
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Bad Memory

So it seems I have a terrible memory because I wanted to post what I cooked last week to catch up, but they are some of the things I listed from the week before.  Well, I know I cooked them this past week, so what did I cook the week before?!  We must have had leftovers more often than I account for, I guess.  That's what happens when you cook for two people and most recipes call for four to six servings.

So, last week, I made...
* veggie fried rice
* pan fried ravioli with sauteed zucchini
* artichoke strata and brussel sprout casserole
* stuffed shells (with spinach)

Stuffed Shells - total time just over an hour

Stuffed shells is a good vegetarian go-to.  Actually, a lot of Italian food seems to be that way.  The prep is pretty darn easy, just needs to have time to bake.  This has really become a staple in our household!

* 15-20 jumbo shells
* 3 cups marinara sauce
* 12 oz. ricotta cheese
* 6 oz. fresh mozzarella 
* 1 egg
* 2 cups chopped spinach
* 1 tbsp italian herb mix
* salt & pepper
* 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

1. Cook shells according to package.
2. In bowl, combine cheeses, egg, spinach, herbs, and lemon juice.
3. Spread 1 cup of sauce in casserole dish, 'stuff' each shell with cheese mixture, and add to casserole dish.  Top shells with remaining sauce.
4. Bake 45 minutes.

Artichoke Strata - total time just over one hour

I had never made a strata before this one.  An interesting concept of soaking bread in egg, milk, and cheese to create a pretty complex flavor.  I think I might add spinach next time to make a 'spin dip strata'.

* tbsp butter

* .5 chopped onions
* 2 minced garlic cloves
* 1 jar artichoke hearts
* 1.75 cups milk
* 4 eggs
* 5 cups cubed bread (rustic loaf)
* .25 cup parm
* .75 crumbled feta
* 1 tbsp italian herb mix
* salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat butter in pan, add onions and saute for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and artichokes, cook 10 minutes.
2. While artichokes cook, combine milk and eggs in large bowl.  Add salt, pepper, and herbs.  Toss in cubed bread, stir to coat bread.  Allow 10 minutes to saturate.
3. Add artichoke mixture to bowl, stir, move to casserole dish, and put in oven for 45 minutes.

Pan-Fried Ravioli - total time 30 minutes

This one is super easy because we're cheating a little using ravioli that is already made, just putting a twist on this standard.

* package of vegetarian ravioli
* .25 cup milk
* one egg
* .5 cup panko bread crumbs
* 2 tbsp italian herb mix
* salt and pepper
* olive oil

1. Prepare ravioli according to package.
2. Whisk together milk and egg in bowl.  Combine panko, herbs, salt, and pepper on plate.
3. Dry cooked raviolis, dip in milk/egg mixture, and coat with panko.
4. Heat enough oil to coat pan.  Add raviolis.  Fry for 6 minutes each side, set on paper towel to cool.  Serve with marinara.

Veggie Fried Rice - total time 30 minutes

We are not big on Chinese food, but I like to throw some easy Chinese recipes into our menu every once in a while.  The rice I used in this recipe is called 'volcano rices' and was very delicious.  If you happen upon volcano rice in your grocery store, be sure to try it out!

* 1 cup rice
* 1 cup chopped broccoli
* 1 cup chopped bell pepper
* 2 eggs
* 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
* 2 tbsp soy sauce

1. Make rice according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in two separate pans.
2. In one pan, add vegetables and saute for 10 minutes.
3. In other pan, add rice and fry for 4 minutes.  Add eggs and soy sauce, continue to fry 6 more minutes.
4. Combine and serve.

Season of Lent

So, today is the first day of Lent and I gave up the same thing I gave up last year, meat (including fish).  Now I need to come up with 40 vegetarian recipes that I can easily add meat to for my husband!

Since I gave up meat for Lent last year and also have done the 'vegan until dinner' Food Matters diet concept, I have been asked how I get enough protein.  I frequently drink smoothies with whey protein for breakfast when I have cut out meat, but I stumbled upon this article about the different kinds of vegetarian proteins...

For Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras), I made these delicious pretzel bun sandwiches...
There isn't really a recipe to share... just enjoyed these mini sandwiches pretty much every day last week too.  Toast these little buns up with turkey and cheese, then add tomato and spinach with a soup or salad for a delicious lunch.  Pretzel buns are delicious!

It's my birthday!

Had to take a picture of my lunch the other day.  I'm not a big fan of mayo, so I use avocado to make a tuna sandwich.  Plus, I used the pickles I made and canned back in the summer time, so it was extra tasty.  :o)

This week's menu includes the following...
* Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos
* Tarragon Chicken (carried over from last week)
* Stuffed Shells
* Homemade Pizza

Today was my birthday, so we will eventually go out to eat sometime this week... plus tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  Instead of going out tonight, I made the stuffed poblanos and had some cookies from the Cravory!  Yummy!

Look at these cute measuring cups my sister got me from Anthropology!  So cute!

And then my mom got me a dutch oven and a Crock Pot, so I can officially make that tarragon chicken the way the recipe is written.  I foresee some slow cooker recipes making there way into our weekly menus soon!

Brussel Sprout Gratin - total time 30 minutes

I first tried brussel sprouts when I was a kid, they were microwaved and from the freezer.  Needless to say, I wasn't a big fan.  A few years ago, I decided to give them another try.  Bought some fresh brussel sprouts, sauteed them in butter with salt and pepper, I was a fan.  Others still needed convincing... so I found a recipe for a 'brussel sprout casserole', if you will... tried it out for Thanksgiving and it was a hit!  I love it, especially with white cheddar, yummm!

1 lb. brussel sprouts, quartered
1 cup white cheese (I used white cheddar)
.5 cup cream
.5 cup panko bread crumbs
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add pat of butter to pan.  Add quartered brussel sprouts, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, saute for 7 minutes flipping sprouts every so often.  
3. Transfer brussel sprouts to small casserole dish, add cream and cheese, stir.  Top with panko.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Fish & Shrimp Stew - total time 45 minutes

I love this soup!  Rich seafood flavor and great for a cold night or when you're sick.  Some day I am going to substitute the fish with scallops, just haven't had any on-hand when making this soup.

1 pound shrimp
1 pound white fish (I used perch)
2.5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tbsp flour
3 cups yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 cup milk
cayenne pepper, salt, pepper to taste
parsley for garnish

1. Peel and devain shrimp.  Add oil to dutch oven, add shrimp shells, saute for 3 minutes or until shells are pink.  Add broth, bring to boil, reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.  Strain and reserve broth, discard shrimp shells.
2. Add oil to the pot again, add onion, and saute until tender.  Add flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and stir.  Add broth slowly while stirring.  Add potatoes, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cover for 5 minutes.  Add fish, recover, simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add shrimp, recover, simmer 5 more minutes.  Add milk, stir, add tomatoes, simmer for 2 minutes.  Garnish with parsley.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole - total time a little over an hour

This recipe was good, but not a favorite.  It is kind of like a Mexican lasagna, not sure what I could change to make it better...

2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
.33 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced

Combine all above ingredients and broil on baking sheet for 20 minutes.  Set aside.

1 lb. chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup of corn kernels
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
10 oz. canned green chile enchilada sauce
4 large tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook chicken in pan.  When chicken is cooked thoroughly, add vegetables and saute for 5 minutes.  Add garlic, chili powder, and green enchilada sauce, saute 2 additional minutes.
3. Spread half of the broiled salsa on the bottom of a casserole dish.  Layer tortillas to cover casserole dish.  Add half of the pan mixture, half of the cheeses, and then spread the remaining broiled salsa.  Add an additional layer of tortillas.  Add remaining pan mixture and remaining cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Super Bowl Sunday

Went grocery shopping today while the Super Bowl was starting... I was surprised that there were other customers there, but at least I didn't have to wait in line for anything (and on a Sunday, that means a lot).  I like to go to the grocery store at odd hours for this reason but some times end up missing out on the deli and meat counters since they are not staffed 24 hours like the store (also depends on the store).

A friend asked me the other day if I saved money cooking meals at home and as I watched the cost add up at the cash register it made me think about it again.  I told her that I thought I actually spent more than I would actually spend on eating out every night... but I am not sure that is true.  I initially thought it was more because I pay extra for things that are local, organic, or use less packaging (or not packaged in cans/plastic).  So when comparing what I pay for groceries to what it would for us to eat at Chipotle or Taco Bell every day... then I do pay more... but who eats that everyday?  Eating at a restaurant costs us at least $30... so then I pay less for groceries.  Whether I spend more or less (or the same), I feel good about the healthy, sustainable food that we eat and that is worth more than what it costs.

Alright, here's this week's menu...
* Shrimp & Fish Stew
* Tarragon Chicken
* Chicken Fried Rice
* Deviled Crab Risotto Milanese
* Tomato-Vodka Soup

Once I felt better last week I made the Italian Penne, which changed to rotini with chopped tomatoes & artichokes with mozzerella and ricotta.  

And then for lunch I made pan-fried chicken.  It is one of the staples in our house along with homemade pizza and fajitas.  Everyone has their own go-to meals, this is one of ours...


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