Holiday Cooking and Eating

Most weekends (ok, about 70% of the time, when I'm on top of things) I make a menu of dinners for the week. I like to plan because it helps me grocery shop, make sure we are getting a nice variety and proper nutrition, and just makes me feel more ready for the week.

I get ideas most of my ideas from Pinterest, blogs I follow, and recipe books I own. Some recipes are also stored in my brain, or off the back of a box. I'm pretty open to getting recipes anywhere, but I've learned if I try to cook something I'm unexperienced at without closely following a recipe, it does not turn out well. I am still fairly new to cooking, so I am learning a lot and having a blast exploring the kitchen, as well as enjoying all the fun tools we got as wedding presents!

I want to share with you my menu for this last week. This week was pretty standard for us until the weekend. We had a friend visit so we decided to make a little party of it and have a mini Friendsmas (Friends' Christmas). This led to a lot of food and fun.

Here's what our week of food looked like:

Peanut Pad Thai

Peanut Pad Thai was a back of the box recipe from the Thai Kitchen. I love the peanut sauce, it's a little sweet and a little spicy. The vegetables I chose to include were edamame, carrots, green peas, red bell peppers, and I topped it with crushed peanuts and cilantro.

New England Clam Chowder and Dinner Rolls

New England Clam Chowder from the awesome Better Homes & Gardens cookbook my Grandma gave me. This chowder delivered in the way BH&G always does- classic, filling, and yummy. Also a bonus- Daniel helped cook this one. We served it with biscuits.

Taco Salad with Ground Beef is always an easy, healthy and filling weeknight option. I used romaine lettuce and topped it with black beans, chopped green pepper, avocado, cilantro, and a tiny bit of grated cheddar cheese. We top it with crunched up tortilla chips (Daniel has to have Juanita's), homemade salsa, and mango chipotle vinaigrette. 

My husband's special request this week was Calzones. I used a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, and it made two GIANT Calzones. We froze one to save for after the holidays. The crust was really good and we stuffed ours with green peppers, turkey pepperoni, ground beef, and of course cheese and tomato sauce. The recipe in the link is not exactly the same, we made our dough from scratch.

Our Friday night meal was Turkey Burgers with Kale Chips. We love Turkey Burgers as a leaner option to beef, and are always a nice change. I topped mine with avocado, onions, and a little bit of mayo. I toasted the buns and cooked up some Kale Chips, which are super easy and quick and a nice crunchy alternative to potato chips. This was perfect for our easy going Friday night of watching about 6 episodes of New Girl!

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the produce section of our local grocery store, Fiesta Foods, when a kind fellow costumer approached me and offered me a coupon for an $8 ham. I had never really thought about baking a ham and didn't know when we'd have the opportunity, but I thought that she was so sweet to give the coupon to me that I wanted to use it. I threw it in the freezer not knowing when we'd use it, and the chance arose when our Friendsmas was arranged!

Cheese Platter Appetizers

Daniel and I and two dear friends had quite the feast Saturday Night. We served a cheese platter for appetizers. It was my first time baking a ham, I used this helpful page I found on Pinterest to learn all the basics. I made the honey glaze and it was delicious. The ham was accompanied by BH&G Mashed Potatoes made by my helpful husband, along with crescent rolls, and Parmesan Roasted Green Beans. Our drink of choice was two affordable Barefoot wines, one white and one red, and sparkling cider.

Our guests at dinner

For dessert we had scrumptious Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies with festive red and green sprinkles, and hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps.

Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes and Green Smoothies

The next day for breakfast, we had one of my new favorite breakfasts: Recipe Girl's Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes. These are INCREDIBLE topped with warm maple syrup, a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. While the hearty bacon and cheese in the pancakes balanced out our wine and schnapps from the night before, I also made detox green smoothies with kale, frozen mango and pineapple, orange juice, and a banana.

I had fun with the ham leftovers. I experimented with a few different salads: my favorite had pecans, chopped broccoli, pepper jack cheese, and of course ham. I wanted to make a sparkling cider inspired dressing without actually opening another bottle of sparkling cider. Surprisingly, I had great success with this using a bit of red wine vinegar, a tiny bit of maple syrup, honey, and a dollop of apple butter. Shake it all up and it made a really nice dressing. I also made BH&G Cheesy Veggie and Ham Chowder with the leftovers, and this Broccoli, Ham, & Mozzarella Egg casserole from Kalyn's Kitchen, which I found on Pinterest.

One of my salad experiments

Broccoli, Ham, & Mozzarella Egg Casserole

It was a great and fairly indulgent week of meals. Now to clean out our fridge before we leave for Christmas break!

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