Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicken and Noodle Stir Fry

Here is a little change from the normal stir fry and it is adapted from the Sonoma Diet Cookbook so it is GOOD FOR YOU!

The original recipe called for Soba Noodles or Multigrain Spaghetti. I went with the spaghetti and used my usual Barilla Plus and it was delicious! The original recipe also called for Turkey but I used Chicken. Finally, the original recipe called for Snow Peas. My store didn't have any fresh or frozen so I opted to use cabbage instead (not to mention that it was $.39/head at my grocery store and I couldn't resist!

Without any further goes:

Chicken "Soba" Noodle Stir Fry

6 oz Dried Multigrain Spaghetti
2 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 C Shredded Cabbage
2 Medium Red Bell Peppers cut into strips
2 t Fresh Minced Ginger
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced (2 teaspoons minced)
4 Green Onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 oz Chicken Breast cut into short strips
1/2 C Bottled Plum Sauce
1/4 t Crushed Red Pepper

Cook the pasta according to box directions.
While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok and add the cabbage, peppers, garlic and ginger.
Cook for 2 minutes and then add the onions for another minute or so. Toss regularly so that all of the veggies have a turn next to the heat. Remove the veggies to a bowl and add the chicken to the hot pan.
Add 1 more teaspoon of Olive Oil to the pan and cook the chicken until it is no longer pink. Add the Plum Sauce and Pepper and incorporate the veggies back into the pan with the chicken. Toss together to coat everything with the sauce. Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss all of this together.
Serve immediately.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Grocery Planning - another tip for followers

This particular grocery expedition took some extra planning and I feel sure that the program may find an exception during this pay cycle. Here are my challenges:

  • My Son's Birthday Party;
  • Easter: including Homemade Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, Egg shapped chocolate truffles, Saturday Pot-Luck Fried Chicken, and Sunday Ham Dinner with fixins; and,
  • House guests: 2 adults and 2 children for 4 nights

I don't find any of these things burdonsome but they do add another layer of complication to my shopping list and menu planning. It means that I have specific food to make on specific days and extra food to be prepared for on other days.

I KNOW that my friend will want to contribute to the meals but I really want her to have a vacation from all of those duties while she is at my house so we will see who wins. Either way, I am prepared as is my pantry.

I bought up a lot of things again because there was a great sale on meat and if it wasn't for milk and bread, I could probably go a month without buying another thing at the store.

Here is a snapshot at my menu and loose plan for everything in store:

Meatloaf (make an extra one to freeze), mashed potatoes, peas and corn
Stuffed chicken with orzo and spinach salad
Tortellini covered in sauce with salad
Pan Fried Pork Chops, Rice and Gravy, steamed mixed veggies
Beef Stew over rice
2 year old Birthday Dinner:
Spaghetti, Fruit Salad for kids, Green Salad for adults, Garlic Bread, Cake
Good Friday – Hot Cross Buns for breakfast (make them on Thursday)
Saturday – Fried Chicken, Ice Tea (for potluck)
Sunday – Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast, Ham, asparagus, au gratin potatoes, peas and mushrooms, dinner rolls
Friend's Visit:
Pasta Bake, Salad, and Bread
Turkey Burgers, Hotdogs, Oven Fries, Fruit Salad
Broiled Pork Chops, Baked Apples, Corn on the Cob, Green Beans (simmered with Cavendar’s seasoning for a couple of hours)
Leftovers - featuring Ham or maybe another Quiche

My tip for this week is to take a hard look at your social calendar to make sure any pot-luck, bake sales, birthday celebrations, or holidays are going to fall in your shopping cycle. Plan for these events and also have some emergency cake/cupcake supplies on hand.

Almost another week of menus and recipes

I logged on to see that it has been almost another week since I posted. I apologize for not staying up-to-date but I am squeezing in some consulting work in the evenings and generally living so once dinner is digesting, I don't have time to rehash what it was. I will get you caught up here and review this week's shopping experience.

Here is how we ate:

Wednesday: Leftover Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday: Crock pot Roast, Veggies and Rice

I seasoned a roast with a jar mixture of steak seasoning and placed it into the crock pot on low for 8 hours. It was still sliceable (if that is a word) but really tender. I served it along with some brown rice, steam in bag with light sauce corn, and sauteed spinach. For dessert, I made short work of the leftover rice by cooking it with some additional milk (about 1 Cup) and 1 T Sugar. When it was getting thick, I added 1/4 C Currants and Cinnamon and Nutmeg to taste. Voila! Rice Pudding.

Friday: Reading Night at my son's preschool where we had hot dogs for dinner. Later that evening, I made snacks for my husband and I including mini roast beef sandwiches, carrots with white bean dip (1 Can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, blended with Tastefully Simple Garlic, Garlic seasoning and olive oil), and clementines.

Saturday: We ate a large lunch out so for dinner, we had leftovers

Sunday: Once again, we ate lunch out and were still pretty full by dinner time but I did make crock pot soup which we will be eating from for lunches this week.

Crock Pot Soup
Combine in the crock pot and cook for 6 hours the following:
1 large Chicken Breast cut into bite sized pieces and sauteed over medium heat (or any leftover chicken you have)
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 C Corn - or leftover corn
1 C Chopped Carrots
1 C Chopped Spinach
1 T Herbs De Provence
1 32oz container of Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Feel free to add any other veggies or meat that you like. When you are about 30 minutes from being ready to eat, add 1/2 C pasta to the crock pot or cook the pasta separately and add when you serve.

Monday: A late play date and a day of consulting meant hot dogs, pickles, cherry tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries for the boys and a turkey, spinach, mushroom, and cheese omelet with fruit and toast for me and the hubby. Thanks again to my friend's Chickens for the eggs. Here is how I pull together an omelet for two:

Whisk together:
5 eggs
2 T Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 t Margarine
1 C Chopped Mushrooms
1/2 C Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 t Garlic Seasoning
Remove to a small bowl

Heat Skillet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour egg mixture and lightly scramble but allow the top to stay wet.
When the bottom is set and the egg doesn't drain down the pan when tilted, place the mushroom mixture along the center in a line from one side of the pan to the other.

Add 1/4 C Grated Italian Cheese Blend or your favorite shredded cheese along with
1/4 C chopped deli turkey meat.

Fold one side over the center and then fold the other side over - like you are wrapping it up. Cut it in half and serve this omelet for two!

If you prefer to just scramble it all together, you can do that too! The only rule is, don't cook the eggs until they are dry. They always continue to cook after they hit the plate and if they are done in the pan, they are overdone by the time they are in your mouth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Balsamic Pork Chops, Roasted Potatoes, and Veggies

This recipe is going to be vague but you will get the picture.

I used 4 pork loin chops, cut about 1/2 inch thick.

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and cook in a medium hot skillet with 1 T olive oil, turning occasionally until the juices run clear.

Remove the pork chops to a serving dish and keep warm.

Add 1 minced shallot (I used 1/2 of a large one) to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly and pulling up all of the crispy bits of pork that remain in the pan.

Add 2/3 C Chicken Stock, 1 T Balsamic Vinegar, and 1/4 t Dried Thyme to the pan and let simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce.

Pour over pork chops and serve.

I served them alongside mixed vegetables that steamed in the microwave and some lightly sauteed broccoli that I made in a saucepan with olive oil and the other half of my large shallot.

I also made some roasted potatoes:

Roasted Potatoes:
Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. I used 4 small potatoes and had leftovers. Toss the potatoes in Balsamic Vinaigrette and cook on a jelly roll pan in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Toss and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

My Chicken Pot Pie is easy as, well, pie.

2 C Chopped Chicken Breast
1 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 T All Purpose Flour
2 C Chicken Broth
1 t Poultry Seasoning
3 C Frozen Mixed Vegetables

Drop Biscuits:
1 2/3 C All Purpose Flour
1 T Baking Powder
1/2 t Salt
1/3 C Vegetable Oil
2/3 C Chicken Stock

Cook the chicken in the oil.
Whisk the flour, broth, and poultry seasoning in a small bowl. When the chicken is done, add the flour mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer for the "gravy" to thicken. Add the vegetables, stir well.

Pour this mixture into a round casserole dish. If you think the gravy is too thin, you can add more flour (whisk another Tablespoon of flour with 1/4 C water or chicken stock, pour it into the mixture, stir and bring to a boil). Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare biscuit topping below.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil and chicken stock. Add the chicken stock and oil to the flour and mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Using a small icecream scoop or two spoons, dip the biscuits onto the top of the chicken mixture.

Cook in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits are brown. Serve!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Update with a week of menus and "recipes"

I haven't abandoned the blog, I am just living my life without so much time in front of the computer. I can't believe it has been a week since I posted ANYTHING at all!

Anyway, I am sorry and here is the rundown from last week.

I was still feeling sick from the stomach bug and didn't have it in me to cook so I put something together for the kiddos and ate a bowl of cereal myself. The hubby also was fending for himself.

I decided to make a pot of chili.

Chili which consisted of a can of Bush's Beans with Chili Sauce, a can of Black Beans, leftover taco turkey meat, a can of chopped tomatoes with green chilies, a little less than 1lb of ground beef (put into the crock pot raw), 2 T Chili Powder, and 1T ground Cayenne Pepper. I stirred it all together and cooked it in the crock pot all day. The boys had pasta with sauce and we topped the pasta with our chili.

The weather was beautiful so I cranked up the grill and made kabobs.

Beef Kabobs:
I cut up a bottom round roast into cubes and marinated it all in Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing but sealed and froze half for another time in the future. I skewered the meat along with cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, red bell pepper segments, and onion segments and cooked them on the grill until the meat was done. I served this along with saffron rice and come freshly cut pineapple.

Leftovers were the name of the game since we had so much chili and turkey burgers from this week already.

We invited our neighbors over and I made hot dogs, mac-n-cheese, and fruit salad for the kids and put together a chicken pasta dish for the adults.

Grilled Chicken Pasta:
I took 3 chicken breasts and cooked them on my grill pan until they were done and seared with the beautiful grill marks on both sides. I didn't season the chicken at all. Meanwhile, I cooked 1/2 box of penne pasta. When the pasta was done, I steamed a package of raw pre-cut stir fry vegetables that were not seasoned. (They were on sale at my store and I got them for $1) Once the veggies were steamed, I removed them and made a chicken gravy again (see this posting under the information on how to make dairy-free cheese sauce) and added 2 T Garlic Seasoning to the sauce.
Once the sauce was incorporated and thickening, I cut the chicken into cubes and added the chicken, pasta, and veggies to the sauce in the stockpot. The beauty is that I used one pot and did it all. If you want to make the actual cheese sauce from the linked posting, that would be good with this dish too but we kept it just to a garlic sauce with no cheese. Another alternative is to use a can of cream of chicken soup and add garlic to that. As with most of my recipes, it is a guide, not a rule.

We went out to dinner at Fogo De Chao on Saturday night and followed it with a show at Center Stage in Baltimore. It was a lovely date night and meant no cooking for me again.

Surprising that I got away with cooking so little this week and am rewarded with a dinner of frozen pizza cooked by my husband. We spent the day at the beach with the boys and between the driving and hanging out in the sunshine, I couldn't face the stove.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Turkey Burgers and Oven Fries

My husband and I really liked these. My 4 year old took about 5 bites before he decided that he didn't like it. Oh well. My 1 year old didn't even get that far because he was enchanted by the fries, cherry tomatoes, and pickle. Once again, Oh well...

Adapted from a Sonoma Diet Cookbook recipe, the Turkey Burgers were delicious. The oven fries are my very own invention...technique is really key here. As a sidenote, you can use ground Chicken if you prefer.

Grilled Mushroom Turkey Burgers with Oven "Fries" or "Chips" - depending on which side of the pond you are on.

Here is how it all went down:

Place a large pot of salted water on high heat to bring to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat oven to:

Cut up potatoes like this
and place them into the pot of boiling water
Let them boil for 10 minutes - no longer!

Into a medium bowl, add 1/2 C finely chopped Mushrooms
Add 1/2 C Salsa,
1 T Chopped Garlic,
1 T Italian Seasoning,
1/4 t Kosher Salt,
and 1/4 t Ground Black Pepper
Those potatoes were done for me SO, I drained them immediately into a colander and rinsed them under cold water like this:
Then I turned them out onto a towel* and patted them dry (well, as dry as I could)
I turned them onto a jelly roll pan (you can use a cookie sheet) that was greased with Olive Oil. placed them into the preheated oven and set the timer for:
Back to the burgers...
Add the turkey to the salsa and mushroom mixture, stir to combine (you can use your hands since you will ultimately have to do so to shape the patties)

Shape the patties and place them onto a hot griddle, grill pan, outdoor grill, Foreman Grill, fire get the picture. When they start to brown around the sides and onto the top, it is time to turn them over. This process takes only 3 or 4 minutes depending on the thickness of your burgers.
After 15 minutes, turn the broiler on high and place the fries in the center of the oven. It will only take a couple of minutes at this point so don't forget about them. The bottoms will brown from the hot pan and the tops will brown from the broiler.

While they are still piping hot, toss them around the pan with some salt. Voila! Serve them up with malt vinegar and ketchup.
I apologize for not taking a final plate shot. The kids were starving and I had their plates all ready, hubby was washing hands and we were all ready to eat...make your own and you will know how they look :)

We topped ours with cheese, a little mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and baby spinach. You can also add more salsa to the top if you like!

*You will notice that I use cloth towels to drain things on - even fried food and bacon. I don't use paper towels in my house at all so we go through a lot of cloth in our house.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shopping Trip - woo hoo

I started couponing and organizing my grocery list and menu around the items that are on sale and that I have coupons for. Today, I bought a full shopping cart of food (I almost needed two) and got more than what I will need for the next two weeks and managed to save $155. I spent $220 but saved so much. I think that I will skip my next big shopping trip and use what I have on hand for my next set of menus. I will make a final decision about that as these two weeks go on but I am so overstocked, I think I can do it! Plus, the whole point of this project is not to forget about the things that I have in the pantry and freezer.

Here is what is coming up on the dinner table for the next two weeks (at least I have the ingredients for these items)

Beef, Chicken, or Pork Kabobs
Balsamic Pork Chops
Chicken with Fruit Salsa
Chicken Soba Noodle Stir fry
Mushroom Turkey Burgers with oven fries
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Corn
Oven Fried Herb Talapia with Cole Slaw and Fruit Salad
Vegetarian Lasagna with a side salad
Chicken Pot Pie

Pizza for a Cause, Steak Dinner, and a sick Saturday

Thursday night we participated in Pizza for a Cause at Ledo's Pizza in our town to benefit Molly's Mission for March of Dimes. It is a good cause, managed by a good friend and a really good excuse not to cook.

Friday night, I welcomed home my husband with a steak dinner complete with broccoli spears, baked potatoes, mushrooms in balsamic sauce, and grilled onions.

Here is my guidance for this meal.

Bake potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 350 degree oven.
Have a topping station with margarine or butter, salt and pepper, sour cream, and freshly grated cheddar cheese.

For 2 people, slice 4 crimini mushrooms (aka baby bellas) and place into a sauce pan with 1/2 T butter, garlic powder and italian seasonings. Stir occasionally and once the butter melts and the mushrooms start to saute, add 1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Cut an onion in half or quarters (depending on your love of onions and appetite). Brush the cut side(s) with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper, garlic flakes or powder and italian seasoning.

In a hot cast iron skillet, place 1/2 T butter. Once the butter melts, add the onion, cut side down. Allow the onion to carmalize on the cut side and, if you are using a quarter of an onion, shift the onion so the second cut side has a turn on the heat. Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil and reduce the heat to medium.

Meanwhile, lightly season the steaks with salt and pepper and add any additional seasonsing that tickle your fancy. Remove the onions from the pan and turn the heat to medium high. Place the steaks into the pan. My husband likes his steak Medium Well and I am more of a Medium to Medium Rare type of gal so his goes into the pan first. I give his about a 3 minute head-start over mine. I turn them at the same time and remove them at the same time. I give his a total of 7 minutes on the first side and about 3 on the second side. I also cover the steaks with foil after I add the second one so that decreases the cooking time a bit. Allow the steaks to rest for a few minutes before you plate them and then to rest again before they are cut.

The broccoli is simply steamed with long stems and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Today, Saturday, a stomach bug that has been plagueing my children finally settled on me so I haven't cooked. Dinner tonight was lovingly prepared condensed soup and crackers. Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Convenience Dinner - Wednesday Night

I had planned on having a convenience dinner tonight when I agreed to host a playgroup at 3pm. I remembered buying some really tasty Asian buns that are prepared by steaming them. I also had some Teriyaki vegetables in the freezer. The boys wanted spaghetti with sauce so: Voila, dinner is served!

Here is the "scoop"

And, if you only eat one (which we didn't do), these guys aren't too bad for you:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Channeling Quiche Lorraine

I call this "Channeling" Quiche Lorraine because I felt the spirits of Irma Rombauer (the original author of The Joy of Cooking) and Virginia Caroline Redfern Derrick, my maternal grandmother, who effortless made a gazillion meals for her family, friends, and fortunate folks. I am also paying homage to my friend, Jessica's chickens - though not exactly channeling them whilst cooking, that would just be weird. Thanks for the eggs, they are delicious.

My grandmother never really taught me to cook but I watched her as she made the lattice top on a pie once and thought she was a supernatural artist or something. Regular folks don't cook like that, right? Well, regular folks do/did cook like that and I and going to make it my mission to prove it is still possible. Now, I don't encourage pie crust making for anyone who is pushed for time. From start to finish, this meal took me almost 2 hours to prepare and cook. I do suggest you do it, though. You can make two crusts at once so you are really cutting your time in half if you budget time like you do your grocery funds and pantry supplies.

My advice, though, is to follow some really good instructions - I obviously recommend listening to Irma and Caroline (who constantly whispered in my ear to not overwork the fat) but that is probably impossible for you so there is a dude online (Drew) who has some pretty great instructions. Check him out here

For the sake of not infringing on copyrights, I will not transcribe JoC's recipe for flaky pie crust but encourage you to pick up a copy of this "kitchen bible" and try it out or at least check out Drew's Blog.

Here is the play-by-play for the quiche which only takes a couple of minutes to pull together if you are using a ready-made crust:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

If you aren't into the from scratch crust, I will allow you to buy a ready-made crust. Either way, just make sure that you pre-bake it and then brush it with
1 Egg Yolk, lightly beaten

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is starting to render but not crispy,
4 ounces of bacon, cut into 1 inch sectionsPlace on a cloth to drain.

For the Custard; beat together
3 Large Eggs (I had farm fresh and they weren't as large as store ones so I used 4 whole eggs and 1 egg white)
3/4 C Milk *you can use Soy
3/4 C Plain Yogurt or Sour Cream
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t Pepper
1 Pinch freshly grated Nutmeg

Place the bacon onto the pie crust and then pour on the custard mixture.

Cook for 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and it doesn't jiggle.

As stated in JoC, original Quiche Lorraine didn't have cheese so ours didn't either. Next time, I will try it lactose free and use soy yogurt instead of sour cream.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to say that mine took much longer than the prescribed 35 minutes - it was more like 45 and mine also fell. It is probably because I used the soy milk and fat free sour cream. The original recipe called for heavy cream or half and half but I went with soy milk and sour cream.

I am still recommending this adjusted recipe because it was really tasty and stayed together in spite of the fact that there was a pool of clear liquid where the water separated from the soy milk or sour cream in the center. In fact, I declared it a disaster and immediately thought of the beautiful but dry turkey on The National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. If you prefer to go with Irma's original recipe, you would use 1 1/2 C Cream or Half and Half or half milk and half cream.
Lucky for us, it was just fine and it looked okay too. You can judge for yourself, though.

As a footnote, my confidence in pastry cooking has been bolstered after my successful flaky yet tender crust. DELICIOUS! I also think that Yankee Candle should come out with a scent of Home Made Pie Crust Quiche Lorraine (buttery crust, bacon, egg...)few things smell bettr than that!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekend eating

We were caught out yesterday at lunch time so we went to Ruby Tuesdays for lunch with the boys. Since we had a big meal for lunch, I made Roast Beef sandwiches on fresh ciabatta bread for me and the hubby and the boys wanted breakfast for dinner again and actually requested oatmeal. Today, I took the boys to church and picked up a KFC mixed bucket and sides for lunch. Again, we had big lunches so dinner will be leftovers again.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

This is a signature dish of mine that I have been making since we were afraid of the Y2K bug. That may not seem like too long ago but it has been a decade, so there. This is a favorite of mine and my husband but the kids haven't come around just yet. It doesn't meet my son's dietary restrictions so this one will be for the adults. It is a good thing, then, that it is mac-n-cheese night* in our house.

Without further adieu, here is the recipe for today.

Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 4-5
1 Small (4oz) Can Diced Green Chiles
1 Habanero Pepper, minced (optional)
2 12oz Cans of All White Meat Chicken or 4 Cooked Breasts of Chicken, chopped or shredded
1 8oz Package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened and cubed
8 Large Flour Tortillas, though you may only use 7 depending on how generous you are with the filling
1 C Freshly Shredded Cheese (I usually use Pepper Jack Cheese but had a block of Mozzarella on hand and used that instead)
1 C Plain Yogurt
1 C Milk
1 Package Mahatma Saffron Yellow Rice
1-2/3 Water
1 T Olive Oil
1/4 C Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large (10 inch) skillet with oil and over medium-high heat; combine the chicken, cream cheese, and peppers. Stir until the cream cheese is completely melted and all of the ingredients are fully combined.

Place 1/8 of the mixture into the center of a tortilla and roll it, folding in the edges.

Spray a 9X13X2 inch casserole dish with oil and place each tortilla roll into the pan, lining them up. They should fit snuggly into the pan. Top the enchiladas with the shredded cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt and milk until fully combined. Pour the yogurt mixture over the top of the enchiladas to cover completely.

Place pan into oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the edges are brown and all of the cheese is fully melted.

While the enchiladas are cooking, prepare rice according to package directions

Serve the enchiladas on rice with a dollop of sour cream and a side salad (our favorite is Caesar)

For softer and gooier enchiladas, top with additional yogurt mixture so that all of the tortillas are covered completely. This is a very healthy dish and can be made low fat by choosing low fat or fat free options for the cream cheese, yogurt, and milk.

NOTE: This is the recipe as I made it tonight. I used chicken breasts instead of canned chicken and forgot to saute a chopped onion to add to the filling...not sure why I flaked on the onion. If you want my authentic recipe, you would start by sauteing 1 chopped medium onion with the peppers and then adding cooked chicken and cream cheese. SORRY!