Friday, November 20, 2009

A Favorite Side Dish

I'm back. Did you miss me? Aw, thanks!

I'm getting back into the swing of things slowly by posting a short recipe today. I'll attach a photo later this evening.

When it comes to menu planning I generally don't have a problem choosing main dishes. It's the side dishes that get me. I tend to go back to my stand by dishes, can you say steamed broccoli, more than I care to admit. Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with steamed broccoli, but sometimes I need a change and want to spice it up a little. Sure I'd love to have the time to whip up fantastic elaborate sides that would knock my family's socks off, but it just doesn't happen. While we're trying to prepare dinner the kids are vying for our attention, so whatever we make has to have a short prep time.

Today I'm sharing with you one of our favorite side dishes. It goes together quickly, cooks quickly and doesn't need babysitting. I LOVE roasted veggies and when you pair them together with two of my other favorites (garlic and balsamic vinegar) you've got a recipe that I cannot resist.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar

1 pound fresh asparagus
2 garlic cloves chopped (I tend to add more, but this is the recommended dosage)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus by holding both ends and bending gently. The snap will naturally occur between the edible portion and the woody stem. Rinse the asparagus and dry completely.

Mix asparagus, garlic, olive oil, and salt & pepper together. I generally put them all in a baggie together and shake to ensure that everything is properly mixed and coated. Arrange on a baking pan (I use a cookie sheet lined with foil for easy clean up) in a single layer.

Roast in oven for approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Upon removal from the oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.

It's just that easy. To make the preparation even easier, I buy the pre-chopped garlic. This is can be a non-cutting board side dish. Less dishes is a good thing in my book!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Slow Cooker Meal We All Enjoyed

The weather on Saturday was AWFUL! It was cold and rainy. After braving the elements for a short while in the morning, we decided we needed a warm and hearty meal. I visited my old standby( and found a recipe for slow cooker beef stew. It was divine! We all gave it a thumbs up except for the three year old who pronounced it "icky" because of the "veguble" he saw in it.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew (adapted from allrecipes)

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 cups beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup red wine

Coat meat with flour and saute in olive oil with onion until browned (doesn't have to be cooked through). Remove meat and onion from pan and place in slow cooker. Add broth and wine to the pan and bring to a boil while you stir. Be sure to stir up the bits of meat and flour which will add a lot of flavor to your stew.

Pour the sauce into slow cooker over meat. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery.

Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.

To this base recipe I added some veggies I had in the freezer (green beans and corn).

Also note that if you don't have the wine on hand (or you drank it last night) just add additional broth.

To accompany the stew we prepared this YUMMY fococcia bread found at It was so easy to make. I made the 9x13 loaf and my six year old has eaten over half of it in the last day. She has it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Awesome Game Deal at Toys R Us

I just got back from a Toys R Us trip and am soooooo excited to share with you the great deal I got. (This deal is good all week through Saturday, so get your butt over there and stock up either for gifts or donations to Toys for Tots.)

TRU has Hasbro games on sale this week along with a promo where you get a $10 TRU gift card if you buy $25 worth of Hasbro Games. On top of that Hasbro has a Family Game Night rebate they are offering on the purchase of select games.

Here is the deal I did:
Ants in the Pants $3.99
Hi Ho Cherry O $3.99
Don't Break the Ice $3.99
Memory $3.99
Connect 4 $9.99
Total Paid $25.95

I then get a $10 gift card and will submit for an $11.00 rebate. My net price after gift card and rebate is $4.95 (Just $.99 per game!!!!).

Go here to view the rebate for and a list of participating items.

Even if you don't have children of the age to enjoy these games, please grab some to donate this holiday season.

A few notes about the deal above: The participating games are very specific. Be sure to match the game on the rebate form with the game you are buying. Only the EXACT pictured varieties will receive the rebate. Also note that you can only get a rebate on ONE of each game so you'll have to purchase different games.