Category Archives: Menu Plan

Oldies but Goodies…


Easy Braised Brisket (Photo by John Autry)

Poodles, first and foremost, please make this Easy Braised Brisket from Cooking Light as soon as you can. For something that was made out of five ingredients this was insanely good. I was little thrown off by the olives at first but combined with the tomatoes and oregano they helped round out the sauce beautifully. Mmmm and the brisket was perfectly moist and fork tender. One recommendation, I kept adding more water as I went or I would have burned the heck out the brisket. Just keep an eye on it because a 1/2 cup of water on my stove was just not going to cut it. Besides that small issue, this was amazing and even better the next day for lunch!

Moving on to our menu plan this week, I’m revisiting some recipes to give David a chance to try them too – I think he’s going to love that cheeseburger:

Sunday: Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas BBQ Sauce and Garlic Fries

Monday: Crab Cakes with Roasted Vegetables and Tangy Butter Sauce

Tuesday: Malaysian Beef Curry

Wednesday: White Pizza with Tomato and Basil

Fingers crossed we’ve got some good dishes coming up! Also, if you are a social media poodle, follow me on Twitter @EAIFood and on the Cooking Inside the Lines Facebook page. I tend to posts quick recipe reviews and food news there as well!

I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

Last night we had a BIG Oscar party in our house and I was a little nervous since it was the first big shindig in our casa, well that and I chose to make a flotilla of food. I simply adore our gentle friends and one thing I know about our group is we love to eat. With that in mind I was going to make darn sure everyone had enough to nibble on during the three hour show. 

The Obligatory Picture of Colin Firth

Epicurious assembled menu plans based on the Best Picture nominees and the one that stood out to us was the Inception option. It’s very French inspired since part of the movie takes place in Paris – the scene with the city folding on top of itself is still incredible every time I see it.  Although I liked the recipes they suggested, I decided to stick wtih French fare but do it my way. And the award goes to…. 

 To get real nerdy about it I made an “Execution Plan” to ensure everything was done by 6:00 p.m. so we could watch arrivals and snarkily judge away. 

  • 2:00 p.m. Prep and mis en place
  • 3:00 p.m. Make compote for Brie, while compote cooks, make pots de creme, refrigerate
  • 3:30 p.m. Make soup
  • 4:00 p.m.  Make green beans, assemble and bake Brie rounds
  • 5:00 p.m. Make sandwiches
  • 5:40 p.m. Fire steaks, let rest and slice, make fries
  • 6:00 p.m. Guests arrive

Everything pretty much went according to plan and let me tell you, the soup, green beans, sandwiches and brie rounds with that stellar compote were delicious. For the steak frites I kept it very simple. David (the super poodle) ran to the store and bought a Weber charcoal grill so he could grill them properly. Little salt and pepper on the steaks, grill and you are done.  I took  frozen fries and mixed with salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme leaves and baked until crispy. Thanks to my lovely and talented niece Alex who is a bomb chef for coming up with that tasty concoction.  

I’m giggling at the thought of the Pots de Creme because the flavor was amazing but I didn’t have enough glasses to properly make individual servings, so I decided to place the whole shebang in a large ramekin. Yeah, don’t do that. We had to put it in the freezer so it would set up, but a few minutes on the table and it was like ice cream. Of course, no one cared and it was gone by the end of the night but I highly suggest not being an idiot like moi and scratch the idea if you can’t do it individually. 

The Oscars were OK this year, a little zzzzzzzzzz at times and it wasn’t as exciting as in years past but I am so happy for The King’s Speech! It’s an excellent, heart warming story and if you haven’t seen it yet, GO. 

Here’s our spread and more posts to come this week…I hope. :) 

Sad Panda Face

Ugh, with a side of ugh. None of the recipes I tried this week were really Cooking Inside the Lines worthy! Don’t get me wrong they were good, but lambs, I have pretty high standards for what I share with you on this blog and if doesn’t whiz bang wow me then it ain’t making the cut. I shall try again next week and speaking of, here’s the plan.

Sunday: OSCAR PARTY– I’m not going to tell you just yet what we are making because I want to share with our guests first,  but if all turns out right I’ll be sure to post here. I’m rooting for Colin Firth (such a poodle), Natalie Portman (such a lamb except she’s spectacularly creepy in Black Swan), Christian Bale (not a huge fan but you can’t deny that his performance in The Fighter was stunning) and it’s a tie for me for Best Picture – either Black Swan or King’s Speech. I’m so torn, I don’t know how my ballot is going to look until Sunday!

Monday:Mahi-Mahi with Tomato, Pepper, and Caper Sauce and Creamy Polenta

Tuesday: Coriander Scallops with Orange-Ginger Dressing

Wednesday: Easy Braised Brisket, Jalapeno Corn Pudding, Grilled Chive Potatoes

Friday (Thursday is kickball baby!): Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Dill Sauce and Orzo Salad with Celery, Radishes, and Dill

I hope next week doesn’t lead to another sad panda, I don’t think I can take it.

Happy Birthday Cooking Inside the Lines!

Wish me luck, my blog has reached the terrible twos.  My how time goes by in a blink. It’s hard to believe that two years ago I started CITL with this gentle Ina Garten recipe and now 200 posts later here I am, still testing and tasting recipes so you don’t have to. Through this little blog experiment I’ve found that I have much more confidence in cooking now than when I started – I’ll show you Mr. Cheese Souffle! It also has continued to fuel my true passion for food and cooking each and every day. Most importantly, I appreciate even more what food does best – bringing friends and family together. Thank you for reading Cooking Inside the Lines and I hope for many more years to come  it continues to keep you cooking in the kitchen too.

Moving on to what we are having for the week. I just picked up the new Cooking Light so it is all recipes from the new issue:

Sunday: Brazillain Feijoda on Rice with Oranges (this is sitting in the slow cooker right now and the aroma is starting to permeate the house…yum so far!)

Monday: French Onion and Apple Soup and Crispy Topped Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin

Tuesday: Asian-Glazed Chicken Thighs with Radish-Squash Slaw

Wednesday: Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce and Greek Salad

Thursday: Out-N-In California Burger. My favorite burger on the planet is In-N-Out and this is supposedly a take on their famous burger. Nothing beats a Double Double with Cheese Animal Style but I’m really looking forward to seeing how close they get to a traditional In-N-Out Cheeseburger. Great, now I have their jingle stuck in my head, “”In-N-Out, In-N-Out, That’s what a hamburger’s all about!”

If you are scratching your head over what’s for dinner tonight, might I suggest this Morrocan Shepard’s Pie from Cooking Light? We had this the other night and it was AMAZING. It’s very simple to assemble and is a stunner when served at the table. We loved all the spicy lamb mix and the sweet potato mash brings the whole dish together. Love!

Moroccan Shepard's Pie (Photo by John Autry)

This Week We’re Having…

Roasted Beets with Citrus and Feta (Photograph by Kiyoshi Togashi)

Sunday: Sriracha Marinara and Meatballs

Monday – V-Day: Radicchio and Arugula Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing and Burrata Crostini, Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce and Pink-Peppercorn Butter, Celery Root and Parsnip Puree and Honey Poached Pears with Crème Fraîche

Tuesday: Marakesh Stew with Cous Cous

Wednesday: The dish I didn’t get around to last week, Roasted Beets with Citrus and Feta (I’m adding grilled shrimp to this I think)

Thursday: Roasted Chicken with Herb Rub, Roasted Potatoes and Romaine with Buttermilk Dressing

So, I couldn’t find the links to some of the recipes above. I’m currently shaking my fist at Everyday Food magazine’s website *fist shake* since none of them are online. If they are gentle I will be sure to post here to share with you. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

A Snow Dusted Menu Plan

We woke up this morning to a beautiful snow-covered yard and I have it on my schedule to run outside and make snow angels!  Here is the view from our office.

With so many important things to do, let’s get to the menu plan shall we?

Saturday: Sunny-Side-Up Eggs on Mustard-Creamed Greens with Crispy Crumbs (breakfast) and Portuguese Chicken

Sunday: Super Bowl party! I’m really watching for the commercials this time around but I guess I”ll go for The Packers on this one. :)

Monday: Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique and Rainbow Chopped Salad (the one dish I didn’t get to this week but I will make it darnit!)

Tuesday: Stacked Veggie Quesadilla

Wednesday: Chile Con Carne

Thursday: Winter Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing

On a side note, I didn’t have it my plans to make this Big Island Wild Pig with Cavatelli but due to weather issues I somehow ended up making this instead of the scallops (I used pork shoulder). It was SUPER delicious! We loved the arugula, tomatoes, goat cheese and pork all together in the pasta. This takes a while to make and I can see it making a lovely, cozy Sunday dinner.

Big Island Wild Pig with Cavatelli (Photo by Jeff Lipsky)

Menu Plan + What You Should Be Making Tonight

Lambs! Here is my upcoming menu plan. That scallops dish looks INSANE. Super excited about this week! 

 Sunday: Honey-Marinated Pork with Gremolata and Escarole with Bacon, Dates and Warm Walnut Vinaigrette 

 Monday: Grilled Cheese and Kale Sandwiches with Tomato Soup 

 Tuesday: Lemon Artichoke Risotto and Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette 

 Wednesday: Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique and Roasted Beets with Citrus and Feta 

So on to what you should be making tonight or this week for sure is homemade pici. We had a little ladies’ dinner at my friend Kari’s house and she’s been to Italy  not once but twice. Mmm hmmm, next time she better pack moi in her suitcase. Her food tales alone make my mouth water. Since she’s returned, we’ve been able to have a little Italy in Austin, including this homemade Pici and Bolognese Sauce.  For me, rolling Pici requires me to use a section of my brain that I don’t think is actually functional. Kari made it look as simple as breathing and I made it look as easy as neurosurgery…not good poodles. I sucked at it completely, but don’t let my lack of brain cells or motor skills deter you. This was super fun to do as a group plus it’s homemade pasta people, it  just tastes that much better. For the full pici making process and recipe, you can visit the Cretaiole website and then be a sad panda that you are not actually at Cretaiole rigt now.  Kari also shared her bolognese recipe which is so superb.  Mangia!  

Perfecto Pici!


THE Bolognese:

  • 6 to 8 ounces (150-200 g) ground beef – it shouldn’t be too lean, or the sugo will be dry
  • 2 ounces (50 g) pancetta, minced (optional; if you omit it increase the beef)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • A quarter of a medium-sized onion, minced
  • A half a carrot, minced
  • A six-inch stalk of celery, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes or 2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water (I used fresh tomatoes, quartered them, quickly scraped the “goo” (seeds) out of each quarter and cooked them in a pot with some garlic until they were soft and mashed.)
  • Beef broth (If you don’t have any, dissolve half a bouillon cube in a cup of boiling water)
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pound (500 g) of pasta.
  • Grated Parmigiano.


If you omit the pancetta you will want the full 8 ounces of meat. Mince the pancetta and the vegetables, and sauté them in a casserole or Dutch oven with the oil. When the onion is golden, add the  ground meat and continue cooking till it’s browned. Stir in the wine and let the sauce simmer till the wine has evaporated, then add the tomatoes, a ladle of broth, and check the seasoning. Continue simmering over a very low flame for about two hours, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth if the sugo looks like it’s drying out. (I ended up using the entire 2 cups of broth to make sure it didn’t dry out over the 5 of so hours I simmered it) The sugo will improve steadily as it cooks, and if you have the time simmer it longer – Artusi suggests it be simmered for six hours, adding boiling water or broth as necessary. When it is done it should be rich and thick. This meat sauce will serve about six as the topping for a first course of pasta or gnocchi, or about four if served over pasta with a tossed salad on the side; in either case serve it with grated Parmigiano.  

This Week’s (Overly Ambitous) Menu Plan

So, I decided to give ALL of the food magazines in the universe love this week.  I’m so lying, not really all because all would be crazy but I did manage to encompass Food  and Wine, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Everyday Food and one of my favorite recipes from the National Mango Board (my former client!).  That’s a lot of different food magazines and recipes in less than one week and I think  our kitchen is already tip toeing away from me as I type this… it knows what’s coming.

I’m so excited about the pizza tonight that I wish tonight would get here right now.  It’s 10:00 a.m., this is going to be a long day isn’t it?

Happy Friday everyone!

Friday: Sweet Potato, Balsamic Onion and Soppressata Pizza

Saturday: Vegetable Enchiladas with Spanish Rice

Sunday: Pan-Fried Chicken, Grilled Hearts of Romaine with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette and Pickled Red Onions

Monday: Tortilla Soup with Dried Chile, Fresh Cheese, and Avocado, Jalapeño Corn Bread

Tuesday:  Sausage and Caramelized Onion Bread Pudding and Hotel Russel Erskine Salad

Wednesday:  Cider-Vinegar Braised Chicken Thighs with Rice

Thursday: Mango and Bacon BBQ Pizza

This Week’s Menu Plan

More Cooking Light recipes this week and then I’m moving on to the new Food and Wine and Everyday Food. I’ll let you know how these go and coming up,  a review of our perfect one-year anniversary meal. Awwww.

Sunday: Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

Monday: Smoky Pan-Grilled Pork Chops with Carmelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Lemon Brocollini

Tuesday: Poached Halibut with Lemon-Herb Sauce and Sauteed Spinach

Wednesday: Italian Beef Stew

Thurdsay: Snapper in Tomato Broth

This Week’s Menu Plan

Y’all it’s supposed to be FREEZING here next week. No, not Texas-style 60 degree weather cold, it’s going to be in the twenties and thirties at night. To all of my friends above the Mason Dixon line I’m sure you are pointing your finger and laughing,  but I am not excited about this one bit. Thankfully, Cooking Light has a lot of delicious sounding comfort food options that hopefully won’t hit our waistlines too badly while we hibernate like bears. Grrrr.

Sunday: Guinness Lamb Stew

Monday: Artic Char with Duxelles and Leeks with Wilted Spinach (I’m so excited to make duxelles!)

Tuesday: Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with Soft Egg

Wednesday: Vegetarian Country Captain – this sounds so odd but strangely delicious to me

Thursday: Chicken Fried Rice with Leeks and Cranberries and Citrus Pudding with Whipped Cream

We’ll see how it goes!