Weekly Menu for June 4th thru July 9th

Happy 4th of July!
I’m baaacckkkk!.  I missed you and am hopeful that you missed me, you did miss me right?  I’m so excited to share the latest news regarding the changes that are taking place on the site, my mind has been spinning with ideas and I’m hopeful that those ideas will make it to the site soon.  I’m also equally excited to share this weeks menu with you especially since my return back includes the 4th of July, Happy Birthday America!    I love the 4th of July, for us, it’s usually a day to kick back enjoying the company of family and friends, amazing food and spectacular sky views once the sun has set. The 4th also seems to mark that summer has arrived and is in full swing, most of us have started to settle into our daily routine now that the kids are home all day, and before I moved to Florida it was a time to cram in all the summer activities I could.  Because of all those summer activities, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen cooking elaborate meals, I want food that is easy to make, tastes great and doesn’t take too much time to prepare, plus if it can be made on the grill, it’s even better.  This weeks menu is exactly that, we will start off with my 4th of July menu, and then 5 easy and tasty meals will follow along with that grocery list that was M.I.A. for such a long time.
If you have logged on lately I’m sure that you have noticed some changes and I’m excited to share them with you.  Although, lately it’s felt like road construction; there are the delays, the annoying orange barrels and the anxiousness that it should be done already!  Each day I’m hoping that my construction of the site will come to an end and that it will be like a nice Sunday drive down a newly paved road.  It will get there soon, but in the meantime please hang with me.  During the past few months I have met some very talented women, these women blog, cook, create beautiful items and the list seems to be endless.  My plan is to feature a new site each week and to organize all the blogs that are listed (and those that still need to be listed) by their different genre.  I’ve also created a Facebook page and a Twitter account for the site and once I’m finished setting them up, I’ll send out an email asking you to be a friend and a follower!  Now the BIG news... Giveaways!  Yep, I’m working on what I hope will be the start of many giveaways and sometime, oh so very soon, my first giveaway will be set into motion and this first one will include two of my favorite words, Williams - Sonoma!  Now, let’s get to some food....

A few reminders for the newbies; you can click the title of any recipe to access it and if you are interested in a blank grocery list sheet formatted for Excel, send me an email and I’ll send one off to you, this sheet is such a time saver at the grocery store!  As always you can email me at mydinnerplaybook@aol.com with any suggestions, recipe ideas or blog tips!  

4th of July Meal
Hot Potato Salad
“You can never go wrong with a burger” as quoted by my husband and I agree wholeheartedly.  When I come up with a new burger idea my family gets excited and this one is no exception.  The combination of sun dried tomatoes and blue cheese on top of a grilled burger creates flavor fireworks in your mouth.  
Tired of the same ol’ potato salad, this one is sure to please and am sure that potato salad will start showing up as a side dish around your dinner table and not just the salad you make for a BBQ.  
Love s’mores, but hate the hassle of making the fire, finding just the right stick to use for your marshmallow, burning that marshmallow along with your finger when you try to remove it from that stick and then dropping it onto the floor, only to have to start all over, because the 5 second rule just apply when it’s been dropped into dirt?  My S’more brownies are the cure, you will be able to kick back and enjoy them with no mess or injury!
Quick Meal 1
I love lasagna and to this day I have been unable to find that perfect recipe. The lasagna recipes I’ve tried tend to either come out too runny or too dry regardless of the method or the ingredients and until I find that perfect I find or create recipes that have the flavors within them.  This recipe has the flavors and was very quick to knock out, I’m sure you’ll will enjoy it.

Quick Meal 2
If your a fan of a barbeque flavor this meal is for you; the barbeque flavor is front and center.  While I made this dish according to the recipe I will add a veggie such as broccoli or peas to it next time.

Got Some Time - Meal 1
If you love bacon then you probably love making BLT sandwiches, I love bacon but for always feel that the BLT needed the company of avocado and cheddar cheese!

                                  Got Some Time Meal - 2
Chicken for dinner is such a staple in most households that it seems we are always looking for new ways to dress this protein up and this dish is ready for a wonderful summer occasion.
Got Some Time Meal - 3
I tend to laugh at commercials from the fast-food taco place when they are advertising a new burrito or taco, they make it seem like it’s the new “it” food and something totally new and unheard of; when in fact regardless of the ingredients or new name they are both still just a burrito and a taco!  I’m not claiming to have created a new tostada, but I am here to tell you that tostada does rock and I’m sure you will prefer it over a plain ol’ regular tostada.

Pass the Wine; I got all the time - Meal 1
 See the 4th of July Menu

Steak Tostadas with Grilled Corn Salsa

Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Makes 20 Tostadas
Olive Oil
20 corn torillas or boxed tostada shells
1 1/2 lbs of sirloin tip steak, thin sliced
1 beer
Salt & Pepper
Garlic Salt
Lemon Pepper
2 large cans of pino beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbls, bacon grease or olive oil
2 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 ears of fresh corn on the cob
1 avocado, diced
2 Jalapenos, finely diced, ribs and seeds removed
3 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 Lime, juiced
Lettuce and sour cream for garnishment
Heat grill on med-high heat, coat ears of corn with olive oil, season with salt and grill until cooked through.
In a large ziplock bag add the steak along with the beer, seal and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a pan and add corn tortillas one at a time cooking until each is crisp.  Set aside.

B.L.T.A.C. Sandwiches

Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
2 pkgs of Bacon
6 sandwich type rolls
2 Avocados
6 slices of cheddar cheese
2 Tomatoes
Heat oven to 350.  On a large cookie sheet place 1 package of the bacon slices down in a single layer.
Take the other package of bacon and weave those slices through the first slices, by folding back alternate slices as each cross slice is added, keeping bacon slices close together to make a solid layer of bacon.
Cook for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until cooked thru.  Drain on paper towels.  Cut into 6 squares and assemble sandwiches.  Add mayo to the rolls, top with the bacon, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomatoes.
* I like to toast the bread under the broiler.

S'more Brownies

Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Make brownies according to package directions.  In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of crumbled graham cracker crumbs with 2 tbls of melted butter and sprinkle on top of brownies.  In a double boiler melt package of chocolate and top the brownies and graham cracker crumbs.  Add a layer of marshmallows and melt under a low broiler just until browned.  Allow to cool before serving.

Red, White and Blue Burgers

Recipe Courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 6
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs ground beef chuck
Salt and Pepper
1 tbls. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained and diced
1 tub of crumbled blue cheese
6 hamburger buns, toasted
Lettuce for garnish
Heat your outdoor grill on a med-high heat.  In a bowl combine beef, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.  Create 6 equal patties.

Grill each burger until cooked thru, turning only once during the cooking process.   While burgers are cooking combine the sun-dried tomatoes and blue cheese.  When burgers are cooked thru, turn off grill, add buns to the grill and top each burger with the cheese mixture and close grill lid allowing the cheese to melt.  Assemble burgers and enjoy.

Grocery List: 7/4 thru 7/9

Garlic Bulb
2 lb. baby red potatoes
1 small carrot
3 small onions
2 Red pepper
1 Yellow pepper
8 Tomatoes
2 Green onions
3 Avocados
1 Lime
1 Lemon
1 Cucumber
1 head of red-leaf lettuce
3 ears of fresh corn on the cob
2 jalapenos

1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes
Hamburger buns
1 pkg brownie mix
1 pkg dark chocolate chips
Graham cracker crumbs or graham crackers
1 pkg small marshmallows
1 lb. long fusilli or mafalda pasta
Instant white rice
6 sandwich type bread or rolls of your choice
Corn Tortillas
2 lg. cans of pinto beans

Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Cayenne Pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Bread crumbs
Beef broth
Barbecue sauce

2 lbs ground chuck 
1 lb, ground sirloin
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 pkgs bacon
4 chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 1/2 lbs of sirloin tip steak, thin sliced
1 tub of crumbled blue cheese, small
1 1/2 pkgs. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup buttermilk
Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
Parmesan, grated
Italian Five Cheese blend, shredded
1 pkg of cheddar cheese slices
Mozzarella cheese
Sour cream

1 bottle of beer

Good Food, Great Drinks, Girlfriends and NO KIDS!

Well our trip has come to an end and I’m sure you have figured out that we must have had a great time from my lack of blogging.  We had a wonderful time seeing family and friends, catching up on all we missed throughout the year, meeting a new member who entered the world this year (the joy of holding a freshie J) and soaking up all of the love that our family and friends gave so freely.  We were also able to get our fill of green chili right on up to the boarding of the plane, a breakfast burrito to go please.  In fact, we had so many bags during our check in process the attendant was sure that we were taking chili back, which is the norm for the Albuquerque airport.  It was a no on the chili and a yes on a lot of stuff to bring back home to Florida, but knowing that the freezer at home is packed with chili does spread a smile across my face.  While I believe I was the family member that was the most excited to move to Florida last year, today I think we are all equally happy that Florida is now our home since I seriously think we are allergic to New Mexico!  When we arrived my son sneezed as soon as the cabin doors were open and none of us have stopped since!  Along with the sneezing, we were also graced with itchy eyes, bloody noses from the dryness, rash from the sun (yep, the NM sun does not like myself or my daughter, elevation seems to make a big difference!) and the dry skin that even a bottle of baby oil couldn’t cure!  Now I know that there are probably those who couldn’t imagine living in Florida but I for one love my beaches, my palm trees and the humidity (yes you heard that right) and I know that I am blessed to call Florida home.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are a few things I love about NM; I love my family and friends (even though I talked about all that they were missing out on by not living in Florida, in fact, you would have thought I worked for their tourism department), I love that chili is available 24/7, the month of July in Taos is amazing, and the autumn colors during Fall in our mountains are spectacular, the yellows and oranges are the most vibrant colors that any description I was to give you would not do them justice.  Yes, I know the list isn’t very long but when you truly love where you live as I do you wonder why you weren’t there in the first place.  The words God’s plan and appreciate come to mind.

Enough with the reminiscing this is a food blog after all; I guess I just missed you.  You already know about all of the chili I consumed, but there was other food that had me saying yum.  This is also where the girlfriends and drinks will also come into play.  One evening I was able to join my mom and aunts for drinks and appetizers at a place called Savoy and I ordered their chicken, prosciutto and blue cheese fritters with a romanesco dipping sauce.  These little fried morsels were oh so tasty, but then again, they were fried and had prosciutto, how could they not be!  

Another evening I met up with one of my girlfriends and we started our evening at one of the bars in the uptown area soaking up martinis before heading to a place called Marcello’s (I believe that was the name) for dinner.  There I had one of their BLT salads with a side of their truffle mac n’ cheese.  While I felt the mac n’ cheese needed much more cheese (just my opinion) the salad made up for the lack of gooeyness I was expecting.  The salad was along the lines of a caprese salad with it’s thick slices of mozzarella, tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but tucked between was perfectly cooked slices of prosciutto, giving the BLT salad a thumbs up from me and confirming that everything is better with bacon!  

Okay, on to Italian food, more drinks and no kids.  Disclaimer: Do not misunderstand me, I love my children, but when you move away from family and friends you lose your babysitters! For the past year it’s been kiddos 24/7 and I was determined to let them spend as much time with the relatives as possible.  I joined my mother-in-law and sister-in-law at Bravo! Italian Cucina for a feast of Italian food, which is my favorite type of food, in fact, if I could have an Italian grandmother live in my home teaching me all the Old World secrets I’d be thrilled.  Maybe I should start taking applications, hmmm.   We started off with an appetizer of fried ravioli accompanied by a marinara sauce and a horseradish sauce and then on to dinner entrĂ©e’s.  I ordered the Chicken, Portobello Mushroom and Feta dish that was served over Linguine with a delicious cream sauce.  The dish was great and I was happy that I chose it over the Fettucini Alfredo I usually order, also the Spaghetti and Meatballs and the Eggplant Parmesan were equally delicious according the girls.  

During lunch with a bunch of my girlfriends one afternoon we ate at a Spanish restaurant called The Blue Corn or at least I believe that was the name. I had what I consider my standby when having Spanish food, a combination plate; it’s a dish that consists of a beef taco, a cheese enchilada and a chili relleno all smothered in green chili, all of my favorites on one dish.  Although a couple of the girls had a dish called a New Mexican Shepherds Pie, and while I’m sure most of you are familiar with the original shepherds pie that consists of meat, veggies and mashed potatoes, this NM version had ground beef, fried potatoes, calabacitas (yellow and green squash, sauteed with onion), green chili and loads of cheese.  This dish was tasty and a great idea, because in my book, a bunch of flavors all mixed together and topped with chili and cheese just has yum written all over it.

There were of course many more meals during my time away (which I’m hoping the scale does not reflect how many!) and each of them were equally great.  Regardless if those meals were shared at a restaurant, a family dinner table or at a BBQ I love how food brings people together.  I truly believe that the love that is shared between those who are gathered make those meals so much better. 

My hope is that while I was gone, you were able to share many meals gathered around the table with your family and friends enjoying not only the great food but lots of love.  As promised I will be back on Friday with a new menu for next week, which will include a July 4th celebration menu and a few new recipes that I picked up from family during my visit.  Have a wonderful week, stay tuned for new changes that will be coming to my blog, a giveaway in the near future and as always, have a fabulous week!  Ciao!