Monday, January 31, 2011

My cozy home.... Pinto beans and cornbread

I love our home.  We live in the home that my grandparents owned.  The home that my mom grew up in.  The home that I spent so many summer days in.

It's cozy.  My grandad, Gang, put a ton of insulation in the attic.  It always feels warm.  I love cooking in the kitchen where my Grandma made dinner for her family.  I love meals that she might have made.   Tonight was one of those meals. 

Pinto beans
1 lb dry pinto beans
2 tsp beef base or boullion
4 slices center cut bacon
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse beans.

Put the beans, the bacon, the beef base and the water (enough to cover with two inches above) into a thick bottom pot.  Cook over medium high to boil.  Then lower the heat to low and cover.

Cook 2-3 hours.

Then add the cajun seasoning, onion powder, salt and pepper. 

Let simmer another 30 minutes.

Serve topped with cheese and sour cream.  Serve some cornbread on the side.  It tastes so good crumbled into the beans.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday, Sun-day... coffee marinated steak

When the sun comes out, I have to grill.  I don't care if it's winter or not. 

Here's the thing.  I can't tell you how to cook the steak, because Husband does that.  And he does it well.  So I'll tell you what I do.

Today we marinated our steak in coffee.  It's so good.  I got the recipe HERE.

1 cup strong brewed black coffee or espresso
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp onion powder

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
About 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Mix the ingredients together.  Pour over steak, I used tbone and sirloin.

Let it sit for 2-24 hours.  I let it marinate while I was at church, about 4 hours.

Grill the steak. 

Enjoy.  (so much so we forgot to get pictures!  So sorry!!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A little of this, a little of that... seafood bisque

If you looked at the favorites on my computer you would see a list of saved blogs and recipes a mile long.  I love reading recipes.  I love taking one and adding something from another one.  You never know what you're missing otherwise.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I got a recipe for seafood bisque from a friend.  I thought we'd try it tonight.  It looked pretty simple, so I thought I'd jazz it up a bit.  I started adding some veggies, some other seasonings, but it was missing something.  Then I remembered that there was a recipe I had read for seafood chowder that added worchestershire.  So I opened my cupboard and wouldn't you know I was out.  Completely. 


I have steak sauce.  But that would just be weird.

I went downstairs, hoping that there might be some worchestershire in the pantry.    Nope.

But I have steak sauce.  Could I add that?  Would it work?  The flavors are similiar, but really?

So I put some of the almost done soup in a mug, and added just a drop. 

And that was EXACTLY what my soup was missing.  Love it when it works out like that!  It didn't take much, but it just gave it a lovely depth.  Anyway. 

Here's the recipe. 

1/2 c onion, chopped
1/2 c green pepper,chopped
1 cup celery (greens included- this is a great place to use those!)
1/4 c butter
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 tbsp flour
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans potato
1 c milk
1/2 tsp bacon salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp bacon salt
1/2 c shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1/2 crab meat
1 c corn
1 tsp steak sauce

Put a large heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.   Melt the butter.  Add the garlic.  Let it cook a minute. 
Add the celery onion and green pepper.  (I use this combination in almost everything!)  Saute that for 3 minutes.

Add flour.  Stir it in and let it cook for 3 minutes. 

Add the chicken broth and the potatoes.

Add milk.

Let's take a minute and talk about bacon salt.  You need this stuff.  It tastes like you used bacon, without all the fat.  It's good stuff. 

Okay, now add the bacon salt and the red pepper flake.   Let that get all happy for 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp, crab and corn.  Cook until it's warmed through, 3-4 minutes.

Add the steak sauce.  I know it sounds weird, but it's okay.  I promise.  My whole family agrees.  Just do it.

Serve each other.  Be suprised.  And enjoy!

Eating (and blogging) in a hurry... Finger Lickin' Chicken

Some days we're tight for time before we have something to do.  Tonight was like that.  So it was easy to cook, easy to eat. But super yummy. 

We had Finger Lickin' Chicken.  I got the original recipe HERE.  I used drumsticks, because they're good, they're easy and they come in a pack where I don't have to seperate them from the thighs.

They were definately finger lickin' good!

Chicken drumsticks (My package had 7.)
1 TBSP Olive oil
4 garlic cloves
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp red chili flake
1/4 cup sugar

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chicken, skin side down.   Cook 5 minutes, then flip for 2 more.

Take out the chicken and let it hang out on a plate while you make the sauce.

Add garlic to the pan.  Let it get all yummy smelling, then add the vinegar, soy sauce, chili flake and sugar.  Stir it and bring it to a boil. 

 Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up.

Reduce heat to low, cook for 15 minutes.

Turn the heat up to meduim so the sauce can reduce.  Cook another 10 minutes.

Serve the chicken over rice or quinoa and don't forget to spoon that yummy sauce over the whole thing!

Enjoy!  We sure did!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday is my favorite night of the week.... Greek-Inspired Roasted Chicken

I love Tuesday nights.  We're all home.  We don't have to go anywhere, do anything, be anything except a family.  We do homework, play Mario Kart, eat together, laugh together.   It's my favorite. 

So it deserves a good meal.  Something homey.  Tonight it's a Greek-inspired Roasted Chicken.  I tell you, my house smelled FANTASTIC.  And that is not a word I use often. And it's really easy, you just have to have a little time to be home.  And tonight was that night.

One chicken- rinsed, patted dry, insides removed
One lemon
One head of garlic  (I think I got about 6-7 cloves, it was a small head)
Olive oil

After you rinse and dry the chicken, put it in a nice roasting pan.

Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice over the chicken.

Stuff the lemon and garlic inside the chicken.

Sprinkle the whole thing with oregano.

(I let mine sit for a few hours at this point, just because I had the time.)

Set the oven to 425.  Figure out how long you need to cook the chicken.  You'll need 20 minutes per pound.  My chicken was 5.5 lbs, so it took 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes at 425.

Then turn the oven down to 350 and finish the chicken at that temperature.  (My chicken was at 350 for 1 hour 30 minutes.)  Enjoy the smell your house will take on.  This chicken smelled so good, that I forgot to take pictures.  I was so anxious to eat it!!

Pull it out and let it rest for 10-20 minutes. 

Serve it up, and enjoy.  YUM!   

Monday, January 24, 2011

Since the crockpot is upstairs anyway... Shredded beef tacos

My crockpot lives downstairs.  I have a small kitchen, so it makes more sense to put it down there.  And we used it yeasterday.  Then I washed it and didn't take it downstairs.  So we're using it again tonight. 

Might as well.

For this meal we're using beef.  Beef roast, round steak, cube steak... whatever kind you have that looks like it's the right size for your family. 
Now might be a good time to tell you I have no idea what each cut of meat is really used for.  I just grab out of my deep freezer (also in the basement) and if it's not burger or Tbone steak, we use it for what I want to make.

Some day I'll learn different.  But for today I'm using cube steak.  It works just fine.

Beef  (roast, steak anything but t-bone or burger)
Adobo seasoning

Put the beef in the crockpot.

Sprinkle a bunch of the adobo seasoning on it.

I love this stuff!

Set the crockpot for 4-6 hours on low.

About an hour before it's done, add a good amount of salsa to the top.  I use at least a cup of salsa.

When it's done cooking, but before everything else is ready, shred the beef.

Put it in some warm corn tortillas.  Top it with cheese, lettuce, sour cream and more salsa. 

Enjoy!  So yummy!!!

Menu planning Monday

Here we go again!  I think we can stick to the menu plan.  We don't have a ton going on this week.  The usual and then a Restoration concert at Biggby Friday night.  Should be a good week.

Monday- Shredded beef tacos
Tuesday- Greek Roasted Chicken
Wednesday- work
Thursday- work
Friday- Finger lickin' good chicken legs
Saturday- Seafood Bisque and homemade bread

If you have a minute, please let me know if you've tried any of the recipes you've seen. Have you made any tweaks that work for you?  How was it? 

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My favorite day of the week, Sunday... Crockpot Black Bean Chili

I love Sundays.   We have a wonderful church family.  We see our friends.  We do music together.  We worship together.  We spend the afternoon hanging out at home.  My laundry gets folded.  Then we do music some more.

One thing I like to do is a crock pot meal for lunch on Sunday.  It doesn't always happen, but today it did.   We had black bean chili.  One of our favorites.   I never thought I liked chili... turns out I just don't like kidney beans.  Once I started making it with black beans, we have it all the time.

It's easy, it's good. 

1 lb of ground beef
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 -1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder (optional)
1 pinch of dill weed (dried)

Brown the ground beef with the onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin.  The amount of the spices is just a rough estimate, because once the beef is cooked, I taste it.  Then I add more of whatever is missing.  However, this will be a good starting point.

Can you find the beef under all that steam?

Put the beef in the crock pot and add the beans and tomatoes. 

Cook on low for 4 hours.

Add the dill, stir and serve.

We like to serve the chili over crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese.  Yummy!

I wait until after the boys eat to add the chipotle powder, since it is pretty spicy. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sometimes we just need chocolate... chocolate marshmallow cookies

I was going to make dinner tonight, and then we decided to do pizza.  It's just one of those days.  We're all snowed in and pizza sounds good.

But I want chocolate. 

And I'm making a healthy lifestyle change, so I don't have many calories/points to give up, since we're having pizza and all.

So I went looking around and found a chocolate cookie recipe.  I'll post that instead.

Chocolate/marshmallow cookies
one box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1 TBSP canola oil
1 C marshmallow
2 eggs

Mix it all together, scoop into cookies. (I made 36.)  

Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.

Let them sit a minute before trying to take them out of the pan.  Put them on a cooling rack. 


Friday, January 21, 2011

Serving each other.. Moo Goo Gai Pan

I want my boys to love each other.  I want them to be the best of buddies, the best of friends as they grow older.  I want to build into them the desire to serve each other.  We started with dinner.  Each night, my Big Boy gives dinner to the Little Guy.  And Little Guy brings Big Boys drink into him.  (I don't trust him with the plate!!)  It's the little things like that I hope will encourage them to continue to serve each other as they grow up. 

Tonight we were serving each other Moo Goo Gai Pan.  It's a recipe that I found in the Weight Watchers Take out Tonight cookbook, and then, of course... tweaked.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast- cut in 1 inch pieces
2 TBSP cornstartch
1/2 c chicken broth
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil  (I love this stuff! It smells amazing.)
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp ground ginger or 1 TSBP minced peeled fresh ginger
1 small package fresh mushrooms
1/4 lb fresh snow peas
1 green pepper seeded
1/4 c onion

This is one meal where I prep everything first.  It moves really fast and it helps to have it all done.

Combine the chicken and 1 TBSP cornstarch.  Set aside.

Combine the remaining 1 Tbsp cornstarch, broth, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

Thinly slice the onion, green pepper and mushrooms.  Set aside.

Heat a non-stick wok or deep skillet over medium high heat until a drop of water sizzles.  Swirl in the canola oil, and add the chicken and onions.  Stir fry until the chicken is slightly brown, 2-3 minutes.  It does not have to be cooked through at this point.

Add the ginger until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add mushrooms, snow peas and green pepper.   Stir fry for 3 minutes. 

Add soy sauce mixture and cook until the mixture boils and thickens.  Stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes.

(Somehow I missed a picture of this step!)

Serve each other.  And enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bringing food to family and friends... Mini Meatloaves

Today we get the chance to bring some dinner to a family member who just had a baby.  I very much wish circumstances were different today so I could just snuggle that little guy, but they aren't.  I'm sure I'll get some snuggling in soon. 

I like having good meals that double up easily to bring to others, or to stick in the freezer for days when we don't have time to cook.  This is one of those meals.  I'm making mini meatloaves, or meat muffins as we jokingly call them in our house. This recipe will make a double batch, but you can pretty easily knock it down to just make enough for one night.  It freezes well in freezer bags too. (just double bag it!)

3 lbs ground beef
2 packages cornbread stuffing mix (either stove top or any other brand)
2 cups (or one 18 oz bottle) barbeque sauce (any brand, any flavor)
3 eggs

Mix the stuffing mix and eggs together, add sauce.  Then mix in the ground beef.  I use the my kitchen aid mixer to do this.  It's less messy than using my hands and Big Man likes to help with this one.

 Scoop the meat mixture into greased a greased muffin pan.  I have a pampered chef large scoop that I use.  Again, easy and less messy. I love the muffin tin here, because
1. it's portion control
2. it bakes faster
3. everybody gets the crunch pieces on top that we all love.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Pull them out, serve with some real mashed taters, or boxed ones if it's one of those busy nights. 


Monday, January 17, 2011

Grown up kids food...Crispy Chicken Con Cumin

I love kids food.  I love finger food.  But I love good food.  So sometimes I have to make grown up kid food.

Tonight we had chicken fingers.  Kid food.

But they had some grown up elements.  And they were good.  We ALL loved them. 

1.5 lbs chicken tenders (because that's the size that Husband got at the store)
3 egg whites (you can use 2 whole eggs if you'd rather)
1 TBSP dijon mustard
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle powder (I love this stuff!!!)
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400.
Whisk egg whites, mustard, cumin, a sprinkle of salt and chipotle powder together in one dish.
Mix brad crumbs, onion and garlic in another bowl.

Dip the chicken in egg, let the excess drip off. 

Then dip it in the panko. 

Place chicken on a coooling rack, placed on a cookie sheet.

When you have all the chicken coated, spray it with olive oil (in my favorite Pampered Chef Mister) or baking spray.

Bake until browned and cooked through, about 20 minutes. (For me it was barely browned, but completely cooked through)

Serve with french fries (which you can also spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with the same spices). 

Eat with your fingers!

Menu plan for the third week of January

So, I wasn't going to post the menu plan for the week.  Mostly because I feel like a loser when I don't follow it.  But someone asked, so here it is.

Monday-Chicken fingers
Tuesday- Mini meatloaf
Wednesday- Work
Thursday- Work
Friday- Moo Goo Gai Pan
Saturday- Restoration concert, so Chili in the crockpot

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Things I'm thankful for today... Chicken Masala and coconut lime quinoa

I'm thankful for so much in my life.  For our family, our friends, our church, our home... but today two things come to mind.

My kids.  I'm thankful that they will eat anything that's put in front of them.  They've never had a chance to refuse, so that might be part of it.  But they are anything but picky eaters.  Everything that I make, they try.  Most of what I make they like.  I'm thankful for that.

My husband.  He's so willing to try anything.   He never complains.  He likes just about everything I make.  And he really likes the pre-dinner tastes.  When I ask him what he wants to eat, he just says... "whatever" so many times.  It makes my life easy, and gives me the chance to experiment with so many different tastes and flavors in the kitchen.

Today we tried some Indian food.  Chicken Masala.  It was so good!  The boys ate it, and Husband said he'd eat it again right now.  Which means it was really good. =)

Chicken Masala
The ingredients:
1 lb chicken breast, cut in small pieces
1 cup thickened yogurt
2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 TBSP onion finely chopped
8 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used frozen from last years garden)
1 cup light coconut milk

Mix together yogurt, lime juice, 2 tsp garlic, garam marsala, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Add chicken to the yogurt marinade and refrigerate it anywhere from an hour to overnight.  I did 4 hours, while we were at church.

Preheat pan, add 1 tsp olive oil and chicken. Don't add all the yogurt that it's been sitting in.  You can see I did that and it was just too liquidy.  Brown the chicken.

Remove chicken from the pan.  Add the rest of the olive oil, the rest of the garlic and the onion.  Saute that for 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and coconut milk.  Cook on medium low for 5 minutes. Because I used tomatoes that I had frozen, I did drain the juice and had to cook them a little longer. I just kept tasting it until the fresh tomato taste was gone and it tasted like a sauce.

Add the chicken back to the pan.  Cook it for 3 minutes, just to get the chicken warm.

Serve over quinoa or rice.  I made the quinoa that I posted the other day and just changed the lemon juice to lime juice, subtracted the thyme and added some coconut milk.   It was scrumptious.

Next time I think that I won't cook the chicken all the way through and just build the sauce around it.  But besides that, this is a recipe that we have added to the collection and will definately have again!

Thickened yogurt

I use this so much in so many things, I thought I better have a recipe here to refer to in the future. 

Thickened yogurt is so simple.  You use fat free plain yogurt, put it in a coffee filter (or cheesecloth) inside a collender, over a bowl.  You let it sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

It makes the yogurt thick, you can use it for marinating, for cooking, as a replacement for mayo, or anywhere you see a recipe that calls for greek yogurt. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

I feel like a slacker....

Last night, I worked.

Tonight, we have a family dinner out.

Maybe Saturday I'll actually cook again!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Go to meal....Hamburger Gravy

I like having go to meals.  Meals that I always have the ingredients on hand are helpful when we get busy.  And we do get busy!  We are blessed to have a pantry (which used to be the coal room when the house was first built) and a chest freezer.  We buy a quarter of a cow (best thing we've done!) and chicken breast by the Costco sized bag.  There are quite a few meals that I can make without going to the store for anything!

This in one of those meals.  Hamburger gravy. It's one that Husband had growing up, and I make it pretty simmiliar to the way his mom makes it. 

1 lb hamburger
1/4- 1/2 c flour
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste.
1/2-1 cup water
1 tbsp ketchup

Mashed Taters (make your own or use a box... whatever!)

Start with a pan over medium high heat.  Make sure you have room to make some gravy around the meat.

Add your burger, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders to the pan.  I always add the seasoning right when I add the meat.  I think it makes it more flavorful.

Brown the burger.

Add the flour and let it cook for a minute.

Stir it up well and add in the water until it makes a gravy.

Add some ketchup for color and flavor.

If it sits on the heat, you might need to add more water.

Serve over potato. 

Today I was saving my calories for the latte I wanted, so I had a salad instead... looked almost as good as it tasted.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eating healthy... Shrimp Scampi and Quinoa

So on our adventure to eat healthier, I still want to eat well.  It's taking some exploring of the internet, but with this weather I don't mind being in my living room, sipping coffee and cruising the information highway. =)

Tonight we're having Shrimp Scampi, it sounds like it's butter loaded and bad for you.  But it's not.  It's baked.  I found this great site, Laa Loosh with great food that's not too bad for you.  Nice combination!

The ingredients:
- 1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
-1 TBSP lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Lay the shrimp in a 9x13 pan, sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.  Single layer, nobody crowding each other.

Melt the butter. Add all of the ingredients, except the parmesan cheese.   Pour over the shrimp.  Stir it up well, get that buttery goodness all over every shrimp.  Then lay them back down so they can cook evenly.
Sprinkle the parm on top of it all.

Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes.

Serve all that buttery, seafood-y yumminess.
And then for our new favorite, quinoa.

The ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash fresh lemon juice 

Heat olive oil over medium heat, and add the garlic and quinoa. Cook for about 5 minutes, toasting the quinoa.

Add the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the thyme, salt and lemon juice.

Serve.  Preferably under the scampi.

We loved this meal.  Even Little Man gave it a "yum, yum, yum!"  Next time I think I'd add a can of diced tomatos to the scampi and then serve it on top of the same quinoa.

(this recipe was shared on Eat at Home  Spotlight: Rice, Barley and Quinoa)