Eating with the Armstrongs

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First of all, Happy Father’s Day to my amazing dad, father-in-law, my Grandpa & my Papau! We are so thankful for these men who love us, generously support us, and have consistently cared for us for so many years.

When I was little my dad’s specialty was splatter: a combination of fried spam, onions and potatoes. And I have to tell you, it was delicious. He has since learned how to make gourmet omelets and is a grill master, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought out his splatter recipe again.  There are so many things I love about my dad. He is the funniest man I know, extremely creative, hard working, and generous. He definitely set the bar high in my mind of the kind of man I wanted to marry. I’m thankful that my husband fits the bill in every way. I love you, Daddy, and am happy to celebrate you today! I wish I could give you a head rub while you watch golf. Love from Baton Rouge!

Here’s what we’ve enjoyed lately!

Creamy Polenta w/ Chicken Sausage & Peppers

Definitely a recent favorite! Polenta is so easy to whip up and makes a delicious base for the sausage and peppers. I actually used a Cajun Sausage that I got from our Farmer’s Market, which added the perfect spice. This meal came together quickly and easily and was thoroughly enjoyed by both of us!

Spring Vegetable Potstickers

Well, I really only made the vegetable filling as I could not find wonton or dumpling wrappers at our local Whole Foods. But the filling was absolutely delicious served atop noodles. I did not use tofu but I did add ground turkey for some protein. The flavors in this recipe are fresh and bright.

Pepper Chicken Nachos

We love nachos, so the substitution of bell peppers for chips was excited to try. The recipe calls for mini peppers, but I just used regular bell peppers. This is another simple and flavor packed meal.

Tropical Chewy Granola Bars

These gluten free granola bars are packed with power-food ingredients and wholesome sweetness. I made quite a few recipe swaps: dried cherries for the dried mango, chocolate chips for the dried banana, pecans for the macadamia nuts, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for the vanilla bean seeds. Tasty and good-for-you!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

In the attempt to succeed at a gluten free summer diet, I have made this “pizza crust” twice! The flavor is delicious but I’m still working on getting a crunchier consistency throughout. A major adjustment I made to the recipe was to cook the crust at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes (periodically checking), instead of the 450 degrees the recipe called for. This created a much better crust, but I am going to try an even longer cooking time at a lower temperature. We topped ours with a simple tomato sauce, sausage, basil, spinach (from my garden!) and just a tiny bit of Parmesan. Try it!

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Eating with the Armstrongs

Summer life promises to be a little bit slower for us, and we’ll welcome that wholeheartedly! But with settling into our new home and adding a puppy to the fam (pictures coming soon!) who knows what the pace will really look like.
In the coming weeks, look for a post on gardening! My parents helped us plant flower beds this weekend as well as an herb and vegetable garden. Here’s to hoping everything will remain alive throughout the summer. Taking on a green thumb promises to be a good workout and a chance to get some intense tan lines.

Recently we have enjoyed the following recipes:

Cilantro Garlic Chicken

This grilled chicken is ideal for summertime and FULL of flavor. I served it alongside of some roasted broccoli.

Pop Rock Truffles

A friend made these whimsical treats for a baby shower recently, and they are truly phenomenal! Pretty simple and a really creative idea for the plethora of summer showers and parties.

Springtime Portobello & Asparagus Pizza

Another recipe from one of my favorite blogs, this pizza is incredible. I substituted bacon as a cheaper alternative to prosciutto.

Raspberry Sorbet

Raspberries & sugar, how can you go wrong? This cold, tart summer sweet is delicious. Instead of fresh raspberries, I actually used thawed frozen ones and the flavor was still full and bright!

Crock Pot Short Rib Tacos

The flavor in this recipe is unbelievable! And I definitely love crock pot recipes on busy days.

Hope you try and enjoy these!


Eating with the Armstrongs

Hi there! Need some inspiration for your weekly meal planning? Here is what I’m cooking up this week. I hope to post my weekly menus every Monday so that you can check it out and get some ideas. As I get more organized, I also want to share some budgeting tips and hints on how to make your grocery list work really well.

This week we are having a lot of chicken! In my opinion, if you can do a variety of flavors, using one kind of meat the whole week is O.K. That’s why I’m doing a Thai inspired dish, an Italian style dish, and a down home soup dish. Another great way to save, is doing a meatless entree. Seriously, if you can pack in lots of hearty vegetables and tons of flavor, your meat-loving husband won’t notice! (fingers crossed)

Sunday: Church Dinner! (70 people)

-homemade meat sauce spaghetti, mixed green salad, garlic french bread, chocolate brownie muffins

-Mixed Greens & Tomato Salad with simple vinaigrette: mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, garlic salt to taste, pepper to taste. Adjust to taste, adding more olive oil if needed.

-Lesson learned: make WAY more sauce than you think, don’t try to cook all of the noodles in one pot, they will burn! yikes!

Monday: Thai Crunch Chicken Salad

-husband approved!

-adjustments: halved the recipe, used only green cabbage, deleted carrots & peanuts, added sliced avocado: totally delicious!

Tuesday: Spinach & Parmesan Stuffed Chicken with Mixed Green Salad (if this turns out well, I’ll post the recipe)

Wednesday: Supreme Pizza using Whole Foods Pizza Dough, pepperonis, mushrooms & sliced red pepper

Thursday: Wild Rice, Cauliflower, & Yellow Squash Cheesy Casserole (a creative adaptation of this yummyness)

Friday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Saturday: Eat out or leftovers

Note: the only recipe we’ve tried so far is the Thai Crunch Salad, and it is delicious! The other posted recipes are for your inspiration and I haven’t tested them yet. Remember, I taste my food a long the way and adjust seasoning according to taste! Try it!

Also, we are on a yogurt and homemade granola craze for breakfast! Recipe coming ASAP!


Red Pepper Pesto Pizza

Ok, this red pepper pesto is so good!

I used it in place of sauce on a pizza topped with fresh mozzarella, carmelized onions, and spinach. It was really great on the pizza but has also added tons of flavor to a turkey and cheese sandwich and, this morning, to a breakfast sandwich with a fried egg and cheddar cheese. I know I could even eat it with some pita chips as a dip. Scrumptious!

So, I recommend making this pizza, but more than that I recommend making this flavorful pesto. The sweetness of the roasted peppers really stands out. I also used almonds instead of the traditional pine nuts: much cheaper with the same nutty richness.

Oh, and you can top your pizza with some toasted pine nuts, but be careful to keep an eye on them or  they’ll end up looking like this:

You could always add some sort of meat to this pizza to make it more husband friendly-prosciutto would be really yummy or a spicy sausage.

Ingredients for pizza:  

1 batch of your favorite pizza crust (I actually just followed the recipe on the back of the instant pizza yeast packet, and it was really good!)

1 big handful of spinach

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 tablespoon butter

10-12 mini fresh mozzarella balls, cut in half

3/4 cup red pepper pesto (add more if you need it, spread it thickly!)

Ingredients for pesto: 

2 red bell peppers

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more to add as needed

2 cloves of garlic, papery outside removed

1/2 cup toasted almonds

salt & pepper to taste

To make: 

First make the pesto. Cut off the tops of red pepper, removing the meat from the top, remove the white insides and seeds. Put peppers on a baking sheet, cover with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Broil almonds in oven or toaster oven on a foil lined baking sheet for 2-4 minutes, watch closely, these burn easily! Put roasted peppers in food processor and combine with parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add olive oil to get the consistency you want. I liked mine thicker so I didn’t add more than 3 tablespoons. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Add one tablespoon of butter to a pan on medium heat. Add chopped red onion and allow to cook for 5 minutes until they are soft and translucent with a little brown.

Spread pesto on your rolled out pizza crust. Top with halved mozzarella balls, carmelized onions, and spinach.

 


Summertime Grilled Pizza

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Grilled food just seems so appealing in the summertime. Last week I found a few recipes for grilled pizza and was instantly inspired to make one of my own. My favorite things to grill are chicken and fruit, so it seemed perfect to make a pizza highlighting these two ingredients. I chose plums because they are sweet, tart, and on sale! Combined with roasted garlic, grilled onion and green pepper, mozzarella cheese, parsley and fresh bacon, this is a spectacular and summery meal.

I love making my own pizza dough, but this time I added too much water. Beware of this because your dough will be wet and sticky and difficult to work with. Because of this we ended up making two smaller pizzas, rather than one big one. But with the right homemade dough or even store bought-it would work perfectly! Thankfully all of the ingredients covered our dough’s imperfections. Oh and no need for sauce on this pizza-it is flavorful without it; in fact I think a tomato sauce would disrupt the other tastes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

One chicken breast

Two plums

One green pepper

Half of a yellow onion

Four pieces of crispy bacon

One bulb of garlic

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon of garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

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Preparations:

Turn on grill to the highest temperature. Cut the top off of the garlic bulb drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and wrap in foil. Throw it on the grill. Coat the chicken breast on both sides with olive oil, garlic salt, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Put on the grill. Cut the green pepper in half, take out all seeds and put that on the grill. Cut the plum in four slices-place on grill. Cut up onion, place on grill.

Once all of the grilled items are cooked through and have grill marks on both sides, take off the grill and cut them into bite size pieces. The garlic will take the longest-all of this depends on the heat of your grill. You’ll know the garlic is ready when you can squeeze it and the garlic comes out like a soft paste.

Cover your pizza dough with olive oil and place that side down on the grill. Cover the grill and let the dough get dark with some bubbles in it. Coat the upside with olive oil and flip. Brush more olive oil on and add the ingredients starting with the mozzarella cheese.

Our pizzas turned into a big pile because we just kept adding more and more-but they were truly delicious! The saltiness of the chicken and bacon paired with the sweet, tangy plum was summery and perfect.