TFF: Another chicken

Still trying to find a roast chicken recipe that has us all loving roast chicken. It shouldn't be this hard. I shouldn't have to try recipe after recipe. After all, we all basically like chicken. We like it in lots of different ways, but are struggling with the roast chicken dinner!

This time I added a twist - I keep reading and hearing that it really makes a huge difference to the flavor of a chicken when you get a free range organic bird, as opposed to a super market chicken. So for this specific recipe, I went out and found myself a local, free range, organic chicken, paying at least twice what I would normally pay, for the bird.

And you know what?

It tastes like chicken.

Which in itself was a bit disappointing as I'd used Tyler Florence's "Ultimate" chicken recipe for this, with a tonne of herb infused butter under the skin, with herbs and lemons stuffed into the chicken. I'd hoped to at least taste some herbs. (This was from Stirring the Pot.)

Okay, this was one of the better chickens I've made. Heck, even the picture is much better than some of the awful, white looking, chicken pictures I've taken. The skin was crispy, and the chicken was moist. But was it moist because it was a "better" chicken or because of the scary amount of butter slathered on and in it?

I dunno. Maybe I will have to find another organic chicken, and buy a supermarket one and make it again, with both chickens side by side for a proper test.

The highlight of the meal for me, however, was the Parmesan Potato Gratin I made with the chicken, from Tyler's Dinner at My House. Wow, I love creamy, cheesy potatoes. So does my hubby. (Too bad they don't take well to pictures when you make one pan and start scooping before you pull out the camera.)

Here you go, two more Tyler Florence dishes for Tyler Florence Fridays. And I'm not late again!

I'm heading off to music lessons soon with my children - think I'll bring Tyler along with me so that I can plan while they practice.

The night I nearly "failed" dinner.

And dessert too, believe it or not.

So not that long ago, I decided to try making cabbage rolls from scratch. I started with a recipe posted on Cream Puff's site, but did not have a helpful friend who'd made them a million times before along to walk me through it.

It took some time, and I was frustrated through alot of it, but I ended up with something resembling cabbage rolls (and then later went back and relooked at the pictures with the recipe and said, "Aaaaah, so that's what I was supposed to do!")

Either way, no one really liked the outcome. Sorry Cream Puff. I messed them up.

But I thought I was redeeming myself after dinner by providing a lovely cake for dessert.

A golden cake, with a lemon curd swiss buttercream on it, with fresh strawberries in between the layers. The lemon curd was mighty tasty on it's own, and lemon always goes well with fresh strawberries.

Beside's, who gets a slice of a homemade, two layer cake on on Monday? Seriously, who gets this kind of dessert?

At the end of the meal, my youngest decided to "grade" me and assign marks to my efforts.

Cabbage Rolls = D (nearly failing, just barely passing.)

Cake = C (Okay it was a bit dry, needed a syrup of some kind, and the lemon did not jump out, but still, it was a cake!)

His brother disagreed slightly, he felt the cake was a bit closer to a B, more like a B-, and that the filling of the cabbage rolls was okay, so it was more of a C, less of a D.

Either way, marks I would not be very happy to see on my children's report card.

Do you think this means my children are a bit spoiled when it comes to food? Or that they have high expectations?

Montreal Results are in

We arrived in Montreal on Friday afternoon, two mom's with two 10 year old boys. Managed to get through rush hour without any problems, and get to our hotel without getting lost.

I have to say, alot of things worked out just right for us, starting with getting to that hotel.

Which was at the edge of Chinatown and across two road from Old Montreal. So we had lots of places to explore and lots of yummy food to try!

After a few hours of walking around and checking out Old Montreal, taking so many pictures I had to switch to my little point and shoot camera to take pictures of food, we hit Chinatown and chose the 3rd Pho restaurant we saw, one that looked bright and clean and had a table or two free.

What a great choice!

I had a spring roll, but my son decided to save his adventurousness for drinks, so we ordered two "funky" to us drinks, not knowing what was in them or what they were: a rainbow jelly ice and a red bean and coconut drink. Both were too strong for us, but at least we tried them.

This is probably one of the best vermicelli plates I've ever had. The pickled daikon and carrots were amazingly good and blended it so well with everything. Right after taking the picture, I mixed all of mine together and dug in!

This is my son's favorite in Vietnamese food, Pho Ga, or chicken noodle soup. While he couldn't finish his bowl, he hmmm'd through what he ate.

We took one more quick walk through Chinatown before we left, a street we had not had a chance to go to (but my son said it smelled so good he wants to go back when he's hungry and try things!) As a quick dinner before leaving, I had a steamed pork and vegetable bun, which cost me a whole $1, and a strawberry bubble tea. The flavor of the bubble tea was chosen for my son, who was sharing it with me, and he loved that, but he did not like the chewy bubbles. At least he tried it!

Oh yes, and I bet you'd like to know how he did at his tournament?

What do you think?

Those medals around his neck are a bronze in patterns and a gold in sparring. He was amazing to watch and earned that smile on his face (plus his t-shirt.)

(Seven students from our Taekwon-Do school attended this tournament, and seven students came home with at least one medal. Our school was well represented, even though our numbers were small.)

Daring Bakers: Feeling uninspired

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I admit it, I was totally unmotivated and uninspired by this months' challenge of cheesecake. Nothing personal to either Jenny or Abbey, but I was bored. I've made many cheesecakes before and sometimes I have a problem, but usually if I do it is because I sped through it or forgot it in the oven.

I didn't do either of those things for this recipe. I simply threw it together the night before company was coming and then sliced it and served it.

Until today I hadn't even taken a picture of it. That is very unlike me.

Oh I admit, when Jenny said we could be creative, I did think of an idea or two that was creative, but required time. Something I have not had much of lately, so my ideas will have to wait.

I kept pretty close to the written recipe for this, using chocolate cookie crumbs instead of graham for my base because I had those on hand. I did not use a liquere, or the lemon, and did use a fresh vanilla bean. For my three packages of cream cheese, I used one light cream cheese and two regular (I like it better with light, not because of fat or calories, but because light has more of a tang to it, which I happen to enjoy.)

No tang, no vanilla flavor. Hoo hum, that's about it for me, though my youngest suddenly has become a fan, and my guests loved the mellow flavors and the creaminess of the cake.

Can you see the vanilla beans in this? I should have had a big hit of vanilla from each bite!

I've seen a few pictures of other people's cheesecakes and I applaud them for their creativity. I guess inspiration just didn't hit me this time.

Oh well.

On to next month's challenge, on to my Daring Cooks' challenge and on to the Daring Kitchen to see the other cheesecakes for this month!

Menu Plan Monday

Well I'm back from my little trip, and as fun as it was, I am still exhausted! I was home yesterday, took a day to rest (meaning I only did a bit of cleaning and two loads of laundry.) Today I have alot of work to do and hope to get some prep done for meals this week as I am going to be working extra shifts this week for a coworker and expect to be short on time and tired.

Short and sweet, not much fancy this week:

Sunday: Hubby took pity on me last night and made frozen spring rolls and chicken balls for us for dinner. (I'd planned soup but for some silly reason the stock I was making, instead of reducing a bit on low heat, decided to reduce alot on low heat and I was left with about 1 cup of stock. Plus I was feeling icky and did not want to cook at all.)

Monday: bbq chicken breast. Either as a salad topping or in a wrap. Not sure which yet.

Tuesday: homemade meatballs in sweet and sour sauce with rice. I'm making an extra large batch of meatballs for this and for the freezer.

Wednesday: homemade pizza with veggies and dip.

Thursday: grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with fruit salad.

Friday: I'm leaving this open, I think we have plans of some kind.

So that is my brief menu for the week. Please go see Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more plans, hopefully more inspiring than mine is.

I'm away, please, have some more cake

I'm off to Montreal today right after I finish working, going with a girlfriend to bring our sons to compete in the ITF Canadian National Tae Kwon-Do Championships. Neither of our boys is a black belt, yet, so they can't qualify for the worlds, but they are going to compete and they will get valuable experience here.

(And, hey, if you happen to be in Montreal, please come by to cheer on the competitors and keep an eye out in the Ontario section for the group from Trigger's Taekwon-Do, in our black and red jakets. Stop by and say hi!)

While I'm gone, falling further and further behind this week on reading all my fellow bloggers, please enjoy a completely different slice of cake than yesterday's TFF Carrot Cake. This is a slice of Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake, the recipe I found from my buddy Kelly over at Sass and Veracity, and it tasted much, much better than it looks. As I told my brother-in-law when I presented it to him for a belated birthday celebration, the looks of the cake were in no way a reflection of how we felt about him, I was justing having an off day when it came to cake assembly.

TFF: Carrot Cake

I like carrot cake. I like a heavy carrot cake with lots of carrot flavor, but no nuts. I especially like cream cheese icing. I know I've said that before, but it is true. I like cream cheese icing and think nothing can taste bad if it has cream cheese icing on it.

Except maybe this cake. Sure, it was impressive looking, with all those layers, but it was too moist, boring, dull and needed more icing for me to like it.

I, however, was in the minority on this one. I gave away big chunks of this cake, and every comment back was highly complimentary. My kids asked for seconds and for cake in their lunches.

Since this was a Tyler Florence recipe, for Tolan's Birthday cake, (I like that name, what a unique name,) it is my selection this week for Tyler Florence Fridays. The recipe comes from Dinner at My House but as usual is available online here.

If anyone else has made this, what do you think? Is it just because I omitted the nuts? Did I mess something up? Did I have too many layers or just not enough icing?

POM Winners and one more POM recipe

It has been fun, and tasty, messing around with my little bottles of POM juice. So before I announce my winners, here is one last recipe for you, not from the people at POM Wonderful this time, but from fellow Daring Baker and blogger Elle, of Feeding my Enthusiasms. It is her recipe for Rosemary and Garlic POM Steak.

Wow, was this ever nice and tender and flavorful! I grilled up a couple of steaks for company, and served them up with Caesar salad and rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes. What a great combination. We had very little in the way of left overs when we were done and had moved on to cake.

So good I am tempted to only give away one of my POM coupons and make this again soon, but I did promise two coupons and two coupons I will give away!

So the winners are:

Emily B, who entered by comment on my original post, and Jennifer, who entered by sending me an email.

To choose my winners, I went with the tried and true Breadchick version of writing names on paper, though I did not have a cat to have chase those little papers around, I had to pull them from a bowl to get my random winner. Low-tech, I know, but effective!

Emily and Jennifer, emails going out to you right now to get your mailing addresses! Please respond within 48 hours.

And in the meantime, here is Elle's wonderful recipe:

Rosemary and Garlic POM Steak
from Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms

Your choice of grilling steak (I had 3 decent sized marinating steaks and fed 6 adults and 2 kids, plus one baby with ours)
8 oz. POM Wonderful pomegranate juice (I had a bit less)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 4)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the marinade ingredients in a gallon size zipper lock plastic bag. Shake well to mix. Lay the plastic bag in a large baking pan, carefully un-zip and place the steaks in one layer in the marinade. Close plastic bag. Let marinate at room temperature for an hour, then turn the bag over and let the other side marinate for an hour.

Remove steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the steaks to the degree of pinkness you desire. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting on the bias. Serve at once.

Menu Plan Monday: Delay posting is helpful!

I'm away today, no where near my computer, and not really interested in trying to type out a post on my ipod. The idea of that gives me finger cramps! Fortunately, I wrote this post early and scheduled it to post at another time, so I can still take part in Menu Plan Monday even when I'm not here. (It is really too bad I didn't do this last week for TFF, which I have before, but I didn't have the chance to do last week. Oh well.)

So last week was iffy. I pushed back my Wednesday to Thursday and my Thursday to Friday. It had to do with time management and a few errands I had to get done but had no extra time to do it. And that's okay, things worked out well. Let's see how I do this week.

Saturday: Company over, a belated Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, so I made marinated steak with garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes with salad. And a decadent dessert. But dessert doesn't need to be part of my menu plan, does it?

Sunday: More company, again family, but this time from my side instead of my husbands. On the menu, hamburgers, quinoa salad, guacamole and tortilla chips.

Monday: I'm away, not sure what my hubby is making. Probably pasta.

Tuesday: I'm back but back late with no time to get home before the kids and I do our usual Tuesday routine, so chances are this will be take out pizza.

Wednesday: Its bbq time (please, no rain!) so spareribs with broccoli and apple slaw.

Thursday: Chicken cutlets with some kind of salad. Whatever looks good at the time.

Friday: I'm away again, this time with one of my children, so again hubby is in charge. My oldest and I are off in Montreal so he can compete in a rather large Taekwon-Do tournament. Wish him luck!

It is almost time for the local farmer's markets to open around here, which I am very much looking forward to, so expect to see more items on the menu that have inspiration from what I can find at the markets. And for menu's to change because of what pops up at the stands.

More POM, and delay in giveaway

I've been swamped for a few days and will be for a few days more, so I've decided I need to extend the deadline of my POM Wonderful giveaway until later next week, Wednesday, April 22nd. So you get more chances to enter to win your own bottle of POM Wonderful juice.

And to give you another reason to want to try this little snowman of juice, get a gander at these brownies, POM Double Chocolate Brownies. I'd love to have given you a better picture but I had to sneak in to get a picture of this one, the last one. The POM juice for these brownies was reduced to a syrup, with half the syrup being drizzled on before baking the brownies and the rest drizzled on afterwards. It resulted in an almost candy-like topping on the brownies, quite good, quite the surprise.

This recipe is a keeper. I like keeper recipes.

TFF: The deep fryer comes out again

I didn't forget about TFF this week, I simply ended up being really, really busy!

So this is a quickie - Tyler's Ultimate Onion Rings, from Stirring the Pot, without the deep fried garlic and parsley. Plus some sweet potato chips, from Dinner at my House, without the dip and fancy stuff. Both very good.

One complaint only - I cut up two onions, as specified by Tyler, but only had enough batter to cover about half the onions, and that is with my being "frugal" with my dipping as this batter was thick, thick, thick! So next time I cut the onions up as Tyler asks, but I double the batter. And I make for a big batch of people. Hmmm maybe I should make them for Sunday when I have company!

Don't forget to enter my POM giveaway - though I think I will have to extend my deadline to next week as I'm swamped this weekend!

POM Wonderful and a giveaway!

You'd have to be very new to the food blogging world to have not noticed an abundance of little snowmen bottles popping up lately. Those adorable little bottles hold POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice and I was fortunate to be one of those bloggers asked to try it out.

I love trying out new products, or old ones I've never had before, and my family has been very tolerant of all my little "experiments" lately, even helpful with some items. So when I came in with a snowman bottle of POM and said I was baking a cake with it, they were all ready to dive in and try the results, POM Velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting and a generous sprinkling of pomegranate arils. (Did you know that the lovely fruit from inside that ugly ball you see in the stores are not seeds but arils? Well now you do!)

Some of the other posts I've read reviewing the POM juice have gone on about how they loved the juice straight and were drinking it so fast they couldn't make anything with it.

I wish I could say the same. I can't. I tried, I really did.

As much as I love to eat the arils (three of the four of us do), I do not like the juice at all.

It is a good thing you don't have to like the juice to bake and cook with it though, cause this cake was good! The rich creaminess of the frosting balanced out the denseness of the cake, which wasn't overly rich but had a nice dense texture and crumb to it. Taking a bite with a bit of cake, a bit of frosting and an aril or two was a delight, the three different textures and flavors mingling together so well.

I liked the results so much I decided to continue on with my little "experiments" and make a few more things! I'll post about them some more over the next few days, but for now, let's get to that giveaway!

I have two, count them up, two coupons left for a snowman bottle of POM Wonderful juice, which also comes in other flavors other than straight pomegranate. So that's two potential winners!

How can you win? Easy, easy, easy....

  • Be a Canadian resident, as these coupons are good only in Canada.
  • Leave me a comment below telling me what you think you would make with your POM juice. It can be a drink, a dessert or anything. (If you make a mess, though, you have to clean it.) Be sure to include an email address where I can contact you if you win.
  • Post a link on your own blog about this, letting me know at allthingsedible (at) hotmail (dot) com, and you will get two chances to win!

I'll randomly pick a winner on April 18th, so be sure to check back to see if you've won.

Out of nowhere non-food photo, just because!

Just because I took it and I like it.

Food photos later. After I get some work done.

Menu Plan Monday: Don't worry, I didn't forget!

I simply took awhile to make my plan this week. And it being a holiday weekend, yesterday did not feel like Sunday.

Last week's plan went exactly as planned. Rather unusual, but it has to happen sometimes!

Be sure to check out the other menu plans at Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura!

So here we go:

Sunday: Pomegranate glazed chicken with chive mashed potatoes, corn spoon bread, steamed broccoli. Fancy, I know, and it came together even more so (post about it tomorrow!) It was our Easter dinner with family.

Monday: Happy Shrimp with rice. Which reminds me that I need to go take the shrimp out.

Tuesday: Penne pasta with tomatoes, garlic and oil. Old standby.

Wednesday: Pork with apples and raisins.

Thursday: Crispy chicken drumsticks with mashed potato puffs.

Friday: Hamburgers with caesar salad.

Costco had cases of diced tomatoes on sale last week and I took advantage of it, stocking up, since we do go through alot and they don't go bad. But as a result, I messed up my own budget. This week's meals were partially planned around the concept of "what can I made that will not require me to make a single trip to the grocery store." It is nice having a reasonably well stocked pantry and freezer, so it should be good!

And on a totally unrelated note, I have another swimming "Woot!" to share with you all!
With only a few more swims left before we have a pool closure for 2 months, I have been trying to make sure I don't miss a swim, and that when I am there, I swim for the full time. Saturday saw me up waaaaaay too early, but resulted in a good swim, a new distance record for me: 2400 meters!

I have a feeling that if I keep putting in that kind of distance over the summer, when I come back in September I won't be swimming in the slowest lane anymore. Eeeek!

Montly Mingle: Kids Lunches

I would never put this in one my children's school lunch boxes. Too messy for the quick 15 minutes they get for lunch at school. Or rather, not lunch, but "nurtrition break." My children go to a school that has a balanced school day, which means that rather than the traditional morning recess, hour long lunch time divided between eating and playing, and afternoon recess, they get two "nutrition and activity breaks," each 45 minutes long, again divided between eating and outdoor play. Time-wise it works out to the same amount of time as they were getting before, but it seems so much shorter.

As a result, my children are getting to school for 9:15 am and having "lunch" at 11:15 am. Then "snack" at 2pm. By the time they get home at 4:30pm, they are starving! So when they are home, I like to give them a bit more of a substantial lunch than they would get to have at school, with a little more time and alot more leisure.

Slow cooked shredded beef sandwiches are a nice way to have a relaxed lunch together. Cooking the beef all morning in the slow cooker until it is tender and falling apart, soaking up the seasonings in the liquid. Piled high on fresh buns, soft on the inside, but toasted for a little bit of contrast. Top the beef as you'd like, with salsa or cheese, with dressing, with stacks of caramalized onions, however you want to eat it. I had mine with an avocado aoili that I'd thrown together (really, just avacado with store bought mayonnaise and alot of garlic).

I served these dripping sandwiches with a platter of cruidites, fancy for raw vegetables, and a dip. A lovely crunch to pair with the softness of the beef and bread.

This might not be quite what Meeta and Srivalli had in mind when they asked for submissions to this session of the Monthly Mingle, but the beauty of the mingle is that you never know what anyone is going to come up with. Be sure to see both these blogs for more ideas, and check for the round-up!

Slow Cooked Beef Sandwiches

2 1/2 - 3 lb boneless beef pot roast (a cheaper cut works best here, don't go with prime rib or sirloin!)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup of water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
5 cloves of garlic, minced
dash of hot sauce
1 tablespoon of olive oil
kosher salt (just a pinch, the Worcestershire sauce will have plenty)
freshly ground black pepper, lots of it!

Heat a medium pan over high heat. Rub the olive oil all over the roast and season with the salt and pepper. Sear the beef on all sides on high in the pan. You want a nice crust here.

Place the seared beef in a 3 1/2 - 4 quart slow cooker (I used my small one.) Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour all over the beef. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, until the beef is falling apart when you touch it with a fork.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon, to drain slightly) into a bowl. Shred up any that does not fall apart on its own. Serve with toasted buns and a variety of toppings, your choice.

Happy Easter!

Some quick cakes for you today, to keep you busy.

I made both of these for a friend, at her request, sorta. She asked for a cake for her new nephew's first Easter, and was expecting a bunny. She ended up with two cakes instead.

Yes, that silly shape up top is a bunny, an Easter Bunny! He is wearing a naked tie and is naked for a reason. This chocolate, marshmallow frosted cake is for the big brother! The bunny is naked because he came with a bag of goodies, including some licorice whiskers and colorful jelly beans, so that big brother can decorate the bunny himself.

This is what I actually made for her new nephew. Again the flavors are chocolate and marshmallow, double marshmallow this time. I used the marshmallow frosting from the bunny as my crumb coat and to adhere the fondant, which I made from scratch. A marshmallow fondant. I'd never made fondant before, but it had been on my "to try" list for quite awhile, so I was happy for the excuse to try it.

This was a good learning experience for me, all around. I still need to take some fondant classes, and practice, practice, practice, but was pretty pleased with how things worked out in the end. The fondant was not difficult to make at all, but I have to remember the next time I make and work with it to wear an apron! My shirt was covered with icing sugar and cornstarch and changed from a very vibrant red to a light pink in color by the time I was done!

My friend was thrilled with the cakes, at least visually. Her family plans to eat them today, so I hope they taste good as well.

The Easter Bunny left a little treasure hunt for my boys here last night, and my youngest son is still wandering around trying to find little chocolate eggs. The Bunny left more "treats" than chocolate but there are enough little egg "droppings" that both he and his brother are happy.

I hope you and your family have a lovely, sunny Spring day.

TFF: I like breakfast

Breakfast is a good thing.

Make ahead breakfast is a better thing.

Instead of doing my usual Tyler Florence thing, going to the two books I own, or being inspired from someone else's blog with their entry for TFF, I decided to give Tyler's Batter Three Ways, from his recent stint on Oprah, a try. I made half the recipe and only made the waffles, though.

And I have a confession to make.

I don't like chocolate in my waffles.

I know, gasp! the horror of it! I love chocolate, but for some reason, not in my breakfast.

So I split the batch up, made two waffles plain for myself, and added chocolate chips to the rest for the kids. I had mine with some fruit, they had theirs with chocolate.

And this is the only picture I can show you from the kids chocolate chip waffles.

Do you think they liked them?

And that's my entry for this week's Tyler Florence Friday.

Turkey Burgers My Way

When I planned, last week, to make Turkey Burgers for our Friday night dinner, I had a recipe for them. It had been pulled from a magazine and I was going to make it a Magazine Monday entry.

Then I started making the burgers. And things took a detour.

The final result was a very different burger from the recipes, so it becomes my recipe. And hopefully I remember everything that I did to it!

Turkey Cheeseburgers

1 lb lean ground turkey breast
1/3 cup shredded zucchini
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons bottled Ranch Dressing (I used Hidden Valley, my first time buying this kind.)
1/4 cup bread crumbs (you might need a bit more, depending on how much moisture is in your zucchini and dressing.)
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 cheese buns
4 slices Cheddar cheese
small bunch of baby watercress, washed and spun dry
guacamole, your choice of homemade or store bought (I made mine)
ranch dressing for spreading

Preheat your grill to medium - high heat.

In a medium sized bowl, gently mix together, with your hands, the ground turkey, zucchini, cilantro, dressing, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. If the mixture feels too wet, add a touch more bread crumbs, but only a little as you want the patties to still have some moisture in them, you just don't want them so wet that they stick to everything. Divide into 4 equal portions, then gently shape these portions into patties, leaving an indent in the middle of each patty.

Grill 4-5 minutes per side, until the burgers have cooked through but are not dried out. Place a slice of cheese on top of each burger in the last 2 minutes. When the burgers are cooked through, remove them from the heat and let rest for 3 minutes, tented under foil. This will also help melt the cheese a bit more.

Split the cheese buns and then toast them on the grill briefly.

Serve each burger with a bunch of water cress, a heaping tablespoon or so of guacamole (mine was one ripe avocado, mashed with 2 green onions, 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro, salt, pepper, and a good squeeze of lime juice, basically what I had on hand at the time), and a dollop of Ranch dressing. And plenty of napkins.

Menu Plan Monday: Bonus recipe

Last week's plan went pretty well as planned. I didn't end up with subs with my children on Thursday, but we did still eat out. Other nights I cooked despite not really wanting to cook, or eat what I was cooking, but that's not a bad thing.

On to this weeks plan:

Sunday: Roast beef with gravy, cabbage and potato gratin and carrots. I completely forgot to take a picture of the gratin, but know what I did making it, so I will include my "recipe" below.

Monday: BLT's. My oldest son has said he wants to help make dinner and this is what he requested.

Tuesday: Slow cooker shredded salsa pork on tortillas

Wednesday: Beef and Broccoli with rice

Thursday: Meatball subs with salad

Friday: Breakfast for dinner

Don't forget to post your own menu plan at Menu Plan Mondays over at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin
by me, serves 4-6

1/2 head of savoy cabbage, shredded
3 baking potatoes, scrubbed clean and sliced thinly (but don't worry if they aren't even or too thin)
grated Parmesan cheese, roughly 3/4 cup
grated Pecorino cheese, roughly 3/4 cup
1 1/2 - 2 cups heavy cream
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 green onions, sliced, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the dish
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Heat oil and butter in medium skillet. While they melt together, preheat oven to 375F.

Saute the cabbage in the pan with the butter and oil, giving a sprinkling of salt and pepper, until wilted and soft. Add in 3 of the 4 green onions and continue to cook for an additional minute or two.

Warm the cream with the garlic cloves, being careful not to boil. Set aside and let the garlic infuse the cream.

Butter an oven proof casserole dish. Place a single layer of potatoes in the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper and some of the grated cheeses. Cover with another layer of potatoes. Spread the cabbage over the potatoes and sprinkle with some more cheese. Place a third layer of potatoes, again sprinkling with salt, pepper and cheese. Add one more layer of potatoes. Pour the warm cream slowly over the potatoes, stopping when you have reached the top of the potato layers. You may have left over cream.

Sprinkle a generous amount of the cheeses on the top, but leave a bit of cheese aside for browning.

Cover and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, testing with a knife to see if the potatoes are tender after 40 minutes. Remove the lid from the dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes, to brown the top.

Remove from the oven, cover and let rest for 1o minutes before sprinkling remaining green onions on top and serving.

This was so tasty that my kids asked for seconds. They did not know that their was cabbage involved.

Want to learn more about me?

The head on over to the Daring Kitchen and read my "interview" with Lis for On the Spot. I'll be highlighted for the next week.

And in case you are wondering, I'm still looking for that "sponsor."

(This, btw, is my kitchen window, looking at it from my porch. You can't see much of my kitchen, but can see my huge basil plant and the pretty flowers that I see each day.)

What to make if you need to feed an army

Not a small army. I mean an ARMY!!

Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but not by much.

This is the Cajun Meatloaf, created by Pastor Ryan for The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It was part of my menu plan about two weeks back, and when it showed up on my plan, I had several requests for feedback on the recipes.

Feedback number one: This makes alot of meatloaf. It should have been obvious to me. After all, it starts out with 2lbs of ground beef. Plus some pork. Plus 2 bell peppers. And then onions, and then celery, and then, and then and then.... You get the point. I was mixing the cooked and cooled veggie-breadcrumb mixture into the meat when my husband walked past me and commented, "That is going to be a huge meatloaf." That's about the time I actually noticed.

Feedback number two: A little cayenne powder goes along way. If you are feeding this to children, or wimps, ease up on the cayenne.

Feedback number three: My meatloaf could have been a bit firmer. If I'd added way more than 2 cups of breadcrumbs, that is. If you are a "leftover cold meatloaf sandwich the next day" kind of person, increase the breadcrumbs. If you don't mind some crumbling, then let it go.

When all was said and done, I had a huge meatloaf. We ate it for dinner, the four of us, then my husband had a large piece in his lunch the next day. I had a piece for lunch the next day. I sent home a full container to my inlaws, for dinner, and they probably had left overs the next day. I also froze a full containers worth, for a future meal.

So if you want something with a good kick of flavor, filled with lots of veggies, and that feeds alot. Head on over to The Pioneer Woman Cooks and find this recipe! Or just click here.

Oh, and in case you wondered, and I'm sure you did, my children inhaled the corn, they inhaled the asparagus, eventually they ate the potatoes, and they nibbled at their meatloaf. My children like vegetables, so that part of a meal is rarely a problem.

TFF: Dessert is served

Was it only in February where Tyler's mixed berry bread pudding was popping up on blogs everywhere? It seems right, that during the "longest" month of the year, when the dark and the cold is depressing and dragging us all down, that Tyler's bread pudding would be a comfort food that calls to the masses.

I admit, I skipped over this when I saw it in his book. I think it was the lemon fondant part of the title. To me, fondant is the sugary stuff you roll to put over a cake. It is there to make a cake look pretty, not for the taste.

Then I read a few reviews and decided to give it a try. I found some egg bread, the best I could do, pulled my bag of frozen mixed berries from the freezer, and made bread pudding. It took longer to cook than Tyler indicated, but that's okay. I'd rather take an extra 10 minutes to bake something than have it cook 10 minutes sooner than expected and end up burnt or over done.

I halved the "fondant", being reluctant to add 2 full cups of icing sugar to the pudding. After all, there was already enough eggs and cream that it wasn't exactly health food, even with all the fruit. Turned out to be a good decision as the touch of lemon from the fondant was perfect! Not too tart, not too sweet, just nicely there.

It was even better the next day, cold.

A definite make again, probably at the request of my oldest, who loved every bite of this and asked for seconds.

This is my submission for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays. No worries, I haven't abandoned my deep fryer, but just looking for a bit of variety, that's all!

Mixed Berry Bread Pudding with Lemon Fondant
by Tyler Florence, from Stirring the Pot, recipe found on Food Network

Butter, room temperature
4 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dusting and topping
4 large slices brioche bread
2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), plus more for garnish

Lemon Fondant:

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 lemons, zested and juiced

Butter and sugar a large sized casserole dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and sugar. Combine well with a whisk.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the brioche up into large pieces using your hands, add to the custard mixture and toss to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepare pan and gently press down on the surface. Sprinkle with more sugar, then refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes to let soak.

Bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. The pudding is ready when it has puffed up and the custard is set. The top should be a nice golden color. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Make the fondant. In a mixing bowl combine sifted powdered sugar, water, lemon zest and juice.

Once the pudding has cooled slightly, drizzle the lemon fondant over warm bread pudding and serve with extra fresh berries.

Magazine Mondays: Breakfast

I haven't exactly been on a "quest" for the perfect pancake, but I do like to keep my eyes open for recipes that look good. They have to be fairly easy to make, take well to fruit, and make enough that I don't have to double the batch just to feed the four of us breakfast. Reheating well is a plus. As is freezing. And eating cold. (My children like to take little pancakes in their lunches, cold, along with apple sauce for dipping.)

Of all the pancakes I've tried, this is my favorite so far. I found it on one of my regular reads, Stephanie's A Whisk and a Spoon and it grabbed me from the first picture.

The recipe, as Stephanie posted it, calls for raspberries, not blueberries, but I am much more likely to have blueberries on hand than I am raspberries. They are a fruit I try to keep in the freezer at all times, so they are my usual choice for throwing into a muffin, a cake or a pancake. I do want to try these with raspberries, though, but it is March and what raspberries I see in the stores are very, very expensive and not very tasty. (I did manage to find a reasonably priced bag of frozen raspberries, so I am going to try these again with the frozen berries, soon. Note: I tried them with raspberries and liked it better with blueberries - the raspberries want to fall apart, the blueberries do not.)

I am submitting this to Creampuff for her Magazine Monday, even though it doesn't come from a magazine I own. It does come from one that Stephanie has read, though, and that counts, doesn't it?

Oatmeal-Raspberry Pancakes
adapted from a recipe in Sunset Magazine (May 2002), found at A Whisk and a Spoon

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen (but not thawed) raspberries (or blueberries)
oil or butter for the pan or griddle

In a bowl, mix oats and buttermilk. Let stand for 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk, and vanilla to blend. Stir in flour and oat mixtures just until evenly moistened, then gently stir in raspberries (or blueberries). (Or do what I did the last time I made it - throw everything into the bowl with the soaked oatmeal and buttermilk, then mix. It worked fine. I was short on bowls at that time.) Let the batter sit while you prepare your griddle or pan.

Place a griddle or a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat (350°F). When hot, coat lightly with oil or butter and adjust heat to maintain temperature. Pour batter in 1/2-cup portions onto griddle and cook until pancakes are browned on the bottom and edges begin to look dry, about 2 minutes. Turn with a wide spatula and brown other sides, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer. Coat pan or griddle with more oil or butter as necessary to cook remaining pancakes.

Serve the pancakes as cooked, or keep them warm in a single layer on baking sheets in a 200°F oven for up to 15 minutes. Stack and serve with berry coulis or syrup.