Tag Archives: make ahead

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

strawberry spinach salad

One of my all time favorite salads.  I make this as soon as I get spring fever and there are decent strawberries out.  It’s best in June when Wilson’s has their own strawberries out but it still tastes damn good in April when I am done with winter stews and looking for fresh spring tastes!

The Poppy seed dressing will stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, so make it a few times :) Continue reading Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Chicken Enchiladas

chicken enchiladas

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie.  It is super easy to make and the sauce tastes really rich and creamy but it’s still light from just using low-fat cream cheese.   I will make this the day ahead when I know it will be a busy day and just pop it in the oven for a quick dinner.  Add a salad and you are good to go.  The leftovers are great too (if you have any) :) Continue reading Chicken Enchiladas

Chipotle Chili

chipotle chili

Chili, is there anything better on a cold winter night than a piping hot bowl of Chili?  I posted my age-old favorite Chili recipe a while ago.  That is my go to Chili recipe but when I saw this one in Bon Appetit’s Fast Easy Fresh, I knew I had to try it.  You see, I LOVE Chipotle Chilis.  Love, love, love them.  I like it hot.  The original recipe had you add 2 Chipotle peppers.  I started with 3 and ended up with 5 :).   I also added the tomato paste and brown sugar as it needed a little sweetness to balance the chilis.  Other than that, I was pretty true to the recipe.  When I served mine I added avocado, low-fat sour cream, a little cheddar cheese, raw red onion and a few big spoons of  hot sauce which Bill found a little perplexing.  I told you I like it hot!  :)

I have had this cookbook for a while, but recently spent some time going through it again and have about 20 recipes tagged with a stick it note.  The recipes are all meant for quick, healthy weeknight dinners, so you will see more of them here for sure! Continue reading Chipotle Chili

Braised Pork Roast

braised pork

I went to a cooking class at Rialto on Sunday.  It was great.  Jody Adams is the chef and she is a very interesting woman, besides being an amazing chef.  The topic was braising and she prepared 3 dishes, then you sit down and enjoy all the dishes with a wine pairing.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!

So, she made a braised pork belly on a citrus salad that was so amazing, I have been dreaming about it.  No sheeps for me falling asleep this week, pork belly ….pork belly….It will be on the menu for my Fall Dinner party next year.

Yesterday I had a 3 pound pork loin roast (Under $6) and I decided I would braise it.  Braising is such a great way to add flavor to any cut of meat or some veggies (think leeks).  It is a moist cooking method that creates a luscious sauce (ok, now you know why I love braising!).

This the basic method:  Sear the braising subject.  Remove and carmelize braising veg in same pot.  Add liquid (beer, wine, stock, combo), return braising subject to pot.  Add water if needed so liquid comes a third of the way up, cover and finish in oven for hours.  Take out and enjoy the luscious sauce with braising liquid.  You can also finish braise in a crock pot but you must sear the subject and veg first, that is the main flavoring. Continue reading Braised Pork Roast

Chicken Stew with Tomatoes & White Beans

chicken stew Yesterday I was feeling the effects of 5 days in a row of eating rich food that I don’t normally eat and really wanted to make something healthy and comforting for dinner.  We had friends coming over too and it was just going to be casual, so something make ahead was needed to.  I turned to this delicous Chicken Stew with Tomatoes and White beans.  It is comforting and served with a salad makes a light meal.  You could make it even lighter by skipping the bacon, but the bacon has only 30 calories a slice cooked, so I think it is worth it.  :) Continue reading Chicken Stew with Tomatoes & White Beans

Posole (Mexican Pork Stew)

Posole 2

Have I told you how much I adore soups and stews?  Well, I do.  There is something so warm and welcoming about a hearty bowl of homemade soup.  Homemade soup is healthy and inexpensive to make.  Whenever I make a batch, I always double it and freeze the leftovers in individual containers to have on hand for a healthy delicious lunch.  If you are going to double this recipe, make sure you make it in 2 different pots.  I really found making this that if you double in a large pot, the flavors are never as intense as when you make a single batch in one pot.

If you like spice, add more chiles!  I will usually add 3 or so and then an hour into the cooking add a little more if it’s not too spicy. Continue reading Posole (Mexican Pork Stew)

Make Ahead Christmas Menu

christmas tree

For me, Christmas is about creating traditions that the whole family looks forward to and enjoys.  You know you have done a good job when your children get older and know exactly what we are going to eat, what movies we are going to watch, exactly what we are going to do, because that is our family tradition.  Kaileen is on her own now in her own apartment, but she has been talking about Christmas Eve (watching Christmas Vacation and eating appetizers and snacks all night in the great room) and Christmas Day (starting with Cinnamon rolls and a breakfast bake casserole, then onto the main event) since August :).

buddy

I have made this same menu with a tweak here and there for about 10 years.  For a long time, I made a standing rib roast which is delicious and amazing, but last year I switched to a Beef Tenderloin (I am doing that again this year).  The sauce stays the same, but the cut of beef may change.  What I love about this menu is that it is very special occasion but it can ALL be made ahead.  So, on Christmas Day I can enjoy my family, relax, even have time to go for a run because the food is all ready to go!  Score!

santa

To start, I make a roast beef.  The cut is up to you.  Just make sure you dry age it in your refrigerator for one or two days before and bring it to room temperature before you roast it.  If you do these two things, you will have an amazing Roast.  Now, you can serve the roast however you want, but I have to have the Roast Beef with Red Wine Reduction Sauce.

055

For the best potato side ever, I make Twice Baked potatoes.  I like these for a few reasons:  (1) They have bacon, carmelized onions and cheese.  Do I have to say more?  (2) They can be made ahead and (3) you really can’t over cook them.  One thing I have learned over the years is that no matter when you think your Roast will be done, you are wrong.  There always seems to be a bit of a window.  This way you put the potatoes in the oven with the foil on and they can just stay warm for a long time, so you will have your side ready when your roast decides it is ready.

Twice Baked Potato

For the Veg, I make Spinach Bacon Salad.  The fresh taste of the spinach salad goes well with the rich Beef and potatoes and you can make it all ahead of time!

spinach salad egg

For Dessert, Chocolate Pots De Creme.  I will usually also put out a tray of cookies and sweets that I have made.  The Chocolate Pots De Creme are definitely Christmas worthy, easy to make and can be made ahead of time.  Starting to see the theme here?

Chocolate pot de creme

stockings

Italian Wedding Soup

italian wedding soup 2

This soup is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Back to Basics by Ina Garten.  When you are craving a hot comforting bowl of soup, this is a satisfying, healthy option.  I always make a double batch and freeze the rest.

Cook whatever pasta you want on the side.  If you add it to the pan, the leftovers won’t freeze well and get really soggy.  I tend to grab whatever pasta is open and needs to be used up.  In this case, I cut up some spaghetti.  You can skip the pasta if you are Gluten free or Paleo.  Continue reading Italian Wedding Soup