4th of July Menu

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We are blessing Preston at church this coming Sunday and we'll be hosting the 4th of July BBQ as a result. I have had fun coming up with menus for that day and for a brunch after church the following day.
Here is our plan:

4th of July BBQ
Hot Dogs
Lemon and Garlic Grilled Chicken
Potato Chips w/Ranch Dip
Black Bean Salsa w/Tortilla Chips
Craisin and Sugared Pecan Salad
Classic Potato Salad
JELL-O cups for the kiddos (w/red & blue jello & cool whip)
Butterfinger Cheesecake Bites
Patriotic Poke Cake

Blessing Brunch:
Brunch Puff
Southwestern Quiche
Basic Breakfast Potatoes
Sausage
Fruit Salad
Breakfast Pastries (store bought)

Asparagus in Wine

I started browsing through some of my mom's cookbooks the other day and brought home Lone Star Legacy because there were many, many recipes that sounded good enough to try out. I had some asparagus and when I saw this recipe it looked quick and easy and it ended up being really tasty too! Asparagus is one of my new favorite things! There will definitely be more recipes from this book in the future!

Ingredients:
-1 lb. fresh asparagus
-1 T. olive oil
-1/4 c. dry white wine
-1/4 t. salt
-garlic powder to taste (I used lots)
-juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:
-Break off tough ends of asparaguss and wash. Slice large stalks in half.
-Slowly heat olive oil over low-medium heat; add asparagus. Add wine immediately.
-Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Simmer until tender, approximately 10 min.
-Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over asparagus just before serving.

Butter Chicken

I saw this recipe on Taste Buds and was excited because I had leftover Ritz cracker crumbs to use up so this was perfect! Everyone loved...even Ella and Addie finished theirs and asked for more and they haven't been eating much of anything lately. We served it with mushroom flavored rice and Asparagus in Wine.

Ingredients:
-4 chicken breasts OR 10-12 chicken tenders
-2 egg whites, lightly beaten w/1 tsp water
-1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs
-1/2 tsp garlic salt
-pinch of pepper
-1/4-1/2 cup butter

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Place egg whites and water in a shallow bowl. Mix cracker crumbs and seasonings and place in another shallow bowl.
-Dip chicken in egg whites, then in cracker crumbs. Place in a 9x13 lightly greased pan.
-Cut butter into small pieces and place around chicken.
-Bake 25 min for chicken tenders, and 40 min for chicken breasts ('till chicken is golden and crisp).

Easy Eggplant

This was my first time preparing eggplant...and I think really eating it as well. The recipe was great! The eggplant I wasn't as sure about. I'm not sure what exactly the texture is supposed to be but mine was a little chewy and I don't know if it wasn't cooked enough, if it wasn't a good eggplant, or if that is how it should be. I need some more eggplant practice :). The flavor of the toppings was delish though and I think I'll use it on some zucchini and squash next week!

Ingredients:
-1 T. olive oil
-1 large eggplant
-2 eggs
-2 T. water
-1 c. dry bread crumbs
-1 large tomato, chopped
-1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
-1/2 c. Italian-style salad dressing

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 375. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan with olive oil.
-Slice the eggplant into round slices about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Trim the skin, maintaining the round shape of the slices. In a small bowl, whip together the egg and water. Place the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl.
-Dip the eggplant slices into egg mixture, then into breadcrumbs and place on baking sheet. Top the slices with equal amounts of tomato, Parmesan cheese and dressing.
-Bake about 15 minutes. Change oven to broil and continue cooking 3-5 minutes.

Quinoa and Black Beans (Freezer Meal)

I had never heard of quinoa before Cathy made this recipe for our freezer swap. I'm sure some of you vegetarians use it frequently, but now I know it is a power grain - a complete protein. I saved this meal for my week alone with Preston because I figured I would appreciate it more than Mike and the girls :-), and I really love it. I'm going to have to learn more about quinoa and find some recipes of my own to try out!

Ingredients:
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
• 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 cup frozen corn kernels
• 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.
4. Enjoy with brown rice and corn tortillas, top with cheese and avocado

Amy's Chicken Enchiladas

This was the last meal from a from friend :-), so sad, but it was a good one to end on. I LOVE Mexican food and I LOVE enchiladas so I was really excited to try Amy's and they were delish!!! Thanks to Amy and everyone else who was kind enough to bring us meals...it was such a help and they were all so good! Mike told me we should have babies more often in the midst of all these yummy dinners, but I don't know, I think cooking a meal is MUCH easier :-)!

Ingredients:
2 or 3 chicken breasts (boiled, then shredded)
8 oz softened cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
4 oz green chilies
4 oz sliced olives
green enchilada sauce (1 large can or 2 smaller ones)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients.
Warm up corn tortillas. Fill them.
Pour some green enchilada sauce on the bottom of a pan. Place enchiladas on top. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

Chicken Taco Rice (Freezer Meal)

Melissa made this for our freezer swap (and posted a better picture of it here). It was really good and there was TONS - I'll be using it for my lunches for the next few days. Mike ate his more like a taco salad and I put mine in heated corn tortillas. I thought it had a good flavor though!

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
3 cups Chicken broth
8 oz. Tomato sauce
1 pkg. Taco seasoning mix
1-1/2 Brown rice, uncooked
1/2 cup Red or Green Pepper
1 can of corn
On Hand:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Optional Ingredients:
Tortilla chips, flour tortillas, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, etc.

Assembly Directions:
Mix everything in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until rice is done (about 40-50 minutes). Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Freezing Directions:
Allow rice mixture to cool. Place in appropriate sized containers. Seal, label and freeze.
Serving Directions:
Thaw in the refrigerator. Reheat in microwave until warm. You can also reheat it in a saucepan if you add a little bit of water before heating. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve with tortilla chips.

Creamy Minestrone Soup (Freezer Meal)

Man, have my freezer meals come in handy lately! Jana made this one for the last swap I participated in, using a recipe she found on All Recipes as a guide. It was SOOO good! Even Mike, who was not excited when he saw we were having soup for dinner, gave it his stamp of approval :-).

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef or Ground Sausage or both
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
4 (15 ounce) cans mixed vegetables, with liquid (Jana used fresh cut-up vegetables)
2 (16 ounce) cans kidney beans, with liquid
2 (14.5 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes,with liquid
1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:
1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, stir and cook onions in butter until soft. Add ground beef/Sausage and cook until browned. Add broth, mixed vegetables, kidney beans, tomatoes, spinach, and tomato paste; simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove about half of the vegetables to a blender or food processor, reserving liquid in stock pot. Puree the vegetables until smooth and return them to stock pot. (Jana did not puree - she left the vegetables chunky and I agree - loved it with the chunky veggies)
3. Stir in garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper, basil, macaroni, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, garbanzo beans, and heavy cream; cook for 1/2 hour, stirring frequently. Pour into bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

Crescent Dogs

The girls LOVE hot dogs and I saw these recently and thought the girls would have fun making them (and eating them). So, yesterday I found the "recipe" on Pillsbury's website and we went for it...they were a hit!!!

INGREDIENTS
8 hot dogs
4 slices (3/4 oz each) American cheese, each cut into 6 strips (we just used shredded cheddar cheese)
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 375°. Slit hot dogs to within 1/2 inch of ends; insert 3 strips of cheese into each slit.
2. Separate dough into triangles. Wrap dough triangle around each hot dog. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, cheese side up.
3. Bake at 375° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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