Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chicken's Winter Stew

As it continues to stay rather cool out it is time for another soupy stew! This is another super simple recipe that is delightfully flavored.

Chicken's Winter Stew

6 skinless chicken thighs (or a whole chicken cut up and skinned or go super simple and chunk up a rotisserie chicken)
Seasoning: salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, garlic
3 potatoes
3 carrots
1/3 pound green beans (if you have on hand)
1/2c corn (fresh off the cob or frozen)
1 bell pepper (if you have on hand)
1 small onion (if you eat onion..lol!)
1 can diced tomatoes (or 1/2 can of tomato paste)
Water or chicken broth

1. Season chicken with the seasonings of your choice. If you don't have much on hand, a simple salt and pepper rub would be fine! Then, in a large stock pot, brown chicken, peppers and onions in a tablespoon of olive oil. Brown both sides of chicken.
2. While chicken is browning, chop up remaining veggies and then add to the pot. Cover with water or broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
3. In a food processor, process one can of tomatoes. Mix into soup. Simmer until veggies are tender. Season soup if needed with additional salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Crockpot: Brown chicken, onion and peppers. Then, add everything into the crock pot at one time. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spicy Lentil Soup

I made this last night and it was delicious! I served it with the french bread I made earlier in the day. I made a prosciutto panini with provolone and pimentos.

Spicy Lentil Soup

4c beef broth (I made my own but you can use the canned/box stuff)
carrots (or use a can)
1/2c lentils
1/2 can of kidney beans
1/2 can of northern beans (you can use whatever type of beans you have on hand)
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
1 strings of leeks- chopped
1t cumin
1T red wine vinegar
1 spicy kielbasa- sliced and chopped

1. In a pot, bring broth to a boil. Add carrots, lentils, beans and garlic. Simmer for 45 minutes or until carrots and lentils are tender.
2. Saute kielbasa and leeks in a little Pam. Then, add to the soup along with seasoning and vinegar. Simmer 10 minutes longer. Serve hot!

Meal Plan Monday

We are going on week 2 of not going shopping for anything other than the staples (milk, cheese, lunchmeat, bread, etc...). I ended up spending about $30 on groceries last week. I will probably spend a bit more this week because I will be stocking up on chicken. Hopefully by then Publix will have some better sales on because it will be time to re-stock the pantry.

Monday: Smoked Sausage and Lentil soup with a Proscuitto and Peppers Sammie
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Bacon and Peas in a Cream Sauce
Thursday: Fried Pork chops (for hubbie) Stuffed Zucchini (for me)
Friday: Beef Stew
Saturday: Left over soup with a Mozzerella and Red Pepper Roulade
Sunday:Chicken Tacos

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bread Time!

With saving money comes baking, so, a quiet day at home with a sick, screaming 2.5 year old who is trying to out scream his 6wks brother definitely calls for day of bread. French bread that is! It blows my mind that to buy a loaf of bread at the store constitutes me forking over $2+. Thus, let the flour tossing and dough throwing commence while baby wearing!

French Bread

2 1/2 cups flour
1t salt
1T sugar
2 1/4t yeast
1 c warm water

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in your stand mixer, then slowing beat in warm water (water should be a bit warmer than baby's bath water...if it is too hot then you will kill your yeast). Beat in your mixer for 2-3 minutes.
       ***If you do not have a stand mixer, then follow these directions: Combine dry ingredients with 1 1/2 cup of water. Beat with a hand mixer until combined. Then, continue to stir in the remaining flour until it is too think to stir. Then, dig in with well floured hands (or pam sprayed hands) and mix until combined.

2. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes. If your arms get tired, then walk away, rest and then come back! You want to knead your bread to ensure it is chewy instead of crumbly. It is better to over knead then under.

3. Turn on your over to 350 degrees for 1 minute exactly...then turn off! Put your dough into a greased bowl and cover with a thin towel. Place your dough bowl in the oven to allow the dough to rise. (MAKE SURE YOUR OVEN IS OFF)

4. Allow dough to rise until it doubles (30min-1 hour). Punch down and turn out onto a floured surface. Roll flat until about the size of a small cookie sheet. Then roll up to form your french loaf. Return to your warm oven to allow to rise. (You can re-heat your oven if needed)

5. Once loaf size has doubled, then remove from oven and preheat to 400 degrees. While oven is heating, brush loaf with an egg white wash (1 egg white and 1T water). Then, using a sharp (this is key) knife carefully slash the top of your loaf diagonally 3-4 times a few inches apart.

6. Return to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cranberry Mango Chutney

I have 1 mango left from last weeks trip to the farmer's market last weekend and a 1/2 of a bag of cranberries. I need to use them up before they go bad, so, I was trying to figure out what to do with them. Then, I noticed my jar of raspberry chutney was almost gone...cha-ching! Cranberry Mango Chutney!!! I am hoping that I will have enough to make 2 jars. I would love to include a jar in a holiday gift basket I am making for my family. It would make an amazing appetizer!

Cranberry Mango Chutney

1/2 bag of cranberries

1 medium mango, peeled and diced
1/2 c sugar
2 T cider vinegar
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ginger (optional)
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
1T diced Jalapenos (optional)

1. Put everything in a saucepan and bring to a hard boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer for 20-25 minutes. (Wait for cranberries to pop which will allow the sauce to thicken)
2. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

Curious how to easily sterilize your jars without buying a ton of canning equipment...
1. Wash all the parts in soapy water.
2. In a small pot of water, boil lids. Keep boiling until ready to use.
3. Please jars on a cookie sheet and place in a 225 degree oven for 10 minutes. Then, turn off heat and leave in warm oven until ready to use.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Macaroons are my most favoritest cookies. I never gave them a chance when I was younger because I was not a huge coconut fan, but my mom and uncle horded them whenever they got the chance. Now, I see why! They are so light and absolutely delicious. These cookies are beautiful in their own right! Anyway, this is a really simple go to recipe when you a easy sweet treat. (I have other macaroon recipes, bu this is nice simple one) Plus, as a bonus it makes a lot of cookies and doesn't involve a lot of ingredients. Plus, you can fancy them up by dipping them in chocolate or drizzling chocolate on them.

Coconut Macaroons

2/3c sugar
6T flour
14oz bag of coconut
1/4t salt
4 egg whites
Optional: 1t almond extract or vanilla extract

Combine sugar, flour and coconut. Then, add your egg whites. (Now you can simply combine the egg whites lightly beaten or you can go fancy and beat your whites to form peaks...I do both depending on my mood!).

Bake at 325 degrees for 22 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.

Stuffed Pork Loin

Speaking of leftover stuffing, I ran out of time to make my soup today, so, I quickly threw together this delicious pork loin. It used up a managery of items I had left over from my Thanksgiving cooking. (Can you tell I only have pork left in the freeze yet...I can't wait to go to Publix for chicken this weekend!!!)

1 pork loin
1 box stuffing
1/4c dried cranberries, rough chop
(* you can use whatever you have- dried cherries, fresh apples, etc...)
2 T walnuts, chopped (optional)
* toasting your nuts will add another level of flavor, just don't burn
1/4 onion (I sauteed to add flavor)

1. Cook stuffing according to directions. While  cooking butterfly your roast. This is a fancy way of saying slice the meat in half without slicing all the way through the meat, You want to be ab;e to open it up like a book. I then pound mine a bit, but that is totally your choice.

2. Once stuffing is complete, stir in the fruit, nuts and onion. Spread onto your opened meat. Then, roll the meat up and secure the seam with toothpicks or a long skewer.

3. Brown your roast in a little butter or olive oil. Then, bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes per pound. (This will cook your roast...we don't serve any pink pork in this family no matter how safe the Food Network insists it is.)

4. Please wait 10 minues before carving up this beauty, otherwise all those wonderful juices in your meat will run right out. No one wants dry pork!

***This can also be done with thick cut (bone -in or -out) porkchops.

Dough Stretchers

Ever have leftover crackers and need something to do with them...or, if you are like me, do you have a bunch of left over boxes if stuffing that need be used? Can't stand the thought of another bite of stuffing? Here's an idea...

Put your stuffing or crackers in a food processor and process until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Or, put in a ziplock bag and beat until smooth. Great way to deal with the frustration of the day!

Then, dredge your meat (porkchops, chicken, etc...) in 1 lightly beaten egg and then through your crumbs.

Finally bake or fry your meat. Simple, but tasty meal that is a easy way to use up those leftover crackers or stuffing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recipes I wanna try...

I have been whoring it up again...with food porn! I love when I have a few quiet moments (which is like never) and I can just relax. Now if only I had a glass of wine or a brownie sundae that would complete the whole experience! This will have to do for now!

How awesome do these wonderful picture look? I can't wait to try these recipes!

Coutesy of Jolene from What's cookin, Chicago?

Courtesy of The Good Mood Food blog

Swedish Meatballs
Courtesy of Simply Recipes

Coutesy of Kalyn's Kitchen

Courtesy of Appetite for China

Glazed Butts and Fried Toes

Another change in the menu...no chicken equals more pork. I was at Sweetbay a few weeks back and they had some really nice (smaller) pork butts on sale for between $2-3 bucks! I couldn't pass them up so we bought like 6 of them. Hence, tonight we are having...

Glazed Butts (Honey Glazed Pork Roast)

Season Rub: Onion powder, Black pepper, Salt, Red pepper flakes (I was out of Cayenne), Paprika

1. Rub Roast generously with your seasoning rub. Turn on oven to 350 degrees
2. In an oven ready pan, melt 3T butter along with 2T honey (or maple syrup) and 1T garlic. Once butter is melted, add Roast. Brown all the sides.
3. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven. Cook 15-20 minutes per pound. Turn the Roast half way through. (This can also be placed in the crock pot on low for 4-6 hours)

Fried Toes (Potato Croquettes)

Mashed Potatoes (1 tub or about 1 lb)
Garlic, minced/crushed
2 eggs
bread crumbs

1. Season your potatoes if not already and mix in the garlic. Next, lightly beat 1 egg and then combine with the potatoes.
2. Roll the potatoes into 2 inch logs that are about the thickness of a quarter. (if you have cubed cheese, it is super yummy to slide a cube in the center of the potato roll before coating)
3. In a new bowl, lightly beat the other egg. In a separate bowl, add the bread crumbs. (I like to spice things up a bit add a bit of Tabasco in with the egg)
4. Roll each potato roll (or croquette) in egg and then in breadcrumbs. Fry or bake until crispy. Serve with sour cream.

Change of pace

Although I posted my meal plan menu, I haave not stuck to it yet. It was based on what I thought (key word) was in the freezer in the way of meat. Yet, I was surprised to find that I was totally out of chicken (good thing it is on sale either this week or next week at Publix...time to stock back up. Anywho, I made a few changes...

Frisco Melts for 2
I made these last night and served with frozen Matzo Ball Soup...yes I defrosted it first!

3/4 lb lean ground beef
4 slices of cheese (I used Munster)
4 pieces of toast
Ketchup/Mayo mixed
Pickles- thin sliced

Make the paties really thin and then fry up. Add cheese and melt. Spread your mayo mix on the bread, layer with pickels (tomato and lettuce) and meat...serve hot and delish!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Santa's Cake cookies

Today we had a Santa Movie and Cookies playdate, so, I needed a quick cookie to whip up for the kiddos. I didn't have time to make anything the night before and there was no trip to the store in my future. As I peered into my pantry I noticed my canister of flour was almost empty...so, it was between the bok of white cake mix or the brownie mix. Although, I am sure the brownie mix would make fantastic cookies, they were not right for tomorrow. So, a white box of cake mix it is!!!

Cake Cookies

1 box of cake mix
1 egg
1 stick of butter (softened, not melted)
***Optional: mix in choc chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, basically anything you want

Dump it all into a standup mixer and mix. (or use a hand mixer to combine then use your hands to finish off the mixing. Make 1 inch balls (roll in colored sugar) and place on a un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for a non-stick pan (375 degrees for a light colored or glass pan) for 7-9 minutes.

(If you want to make rolled cookies instead of drop cookies, use 2/3c of butter)

The cookies were a real hit. I think the moms ate as many cookies as the kids....if not more! I would say that is a true measure of success! lol!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crockpot: Cream Cheese Chicken

Cream Cheese Chicken a la Crock pot

3 chicken breasts
1 package dry italian dressing mix (I use Good Seasons)
4 T melted butter
1 small onion chopped (optional)
2 garlic clove chopped (or use the jarred already minced variety)
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water if you are out of broth...drop in a boullion cube if you have one!)

Spray your crock pot with Pam and then add your chicken. Sprinkle the seasoning packet over the chicken piecesand then dump 2 T melted butter over top. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Mlt the 2 remaining T of butter in saucepan. Saute onions and garlic. Then, add the soup, cream cheese, and chicken broth; stir until melted & smooth. Add the soup mixture to the crockpot and cook on low for 1 additional hour.

Serve over Rice or noodles or even mashed potatoes!!! Yumm!

Meal Plan Sunday...lol

I just realized that although I created last weeks meal plan post, I totally forgot to post it. Geesh! Sorry about that. Thus, I decided to start early this week and get my mela plan posted ASAP...before I forget!

This week is pretty easy. We are playing pantry clean up! We have done such an amazing job stocking up with all our awesome Publix shopping trips that we now need to get down to the business of eatting it! Kind of the point right! So, here ya go...

Sunday- Roasted Vegetable Minestrone
Monday- Pork Roast with glazed carrots
Tuesday- BBQ Sliders with Rosemary Parm Fries
Wednesday- Cream cheese Chicken over noodles with fresh green bean
Thursday- LO
Friday-Chicken Tortilla Soup with Spicy Island cheese Quesadilla
Saturday- LO soup with Ham and swiss panini
The minestrone recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drumond is an amazing cook and photographer. If you check out some oif her pics you will also see her house/kitchen is to die for!!! If you need some new ideas check out her blog for some new versions of your fav ol' recipes!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Per your request...

White Chicken Chili a la Crock Pot!

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red pepper diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4 oz) can diced jalapeno peppers (I use 1/2 can so it isn't too spicy)
2 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 t ground cumin (Don't panic if you don't have in hand!)
Salt to taste
1 t cayenne pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
3 c chopped cooked chicken breast (I boil and shred my chicken)
3 (15 ounce) cans white cannalini beans
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or your choice of cheese)
Sour Cream to garnish

1. Add all of the ingredients into the crock pot and cook on low for at least 5 hours (6-8 hours preferred).
2. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.


Tomorrow should be an awesome experience. We will have six 2-3 year olds and their mamas trying to put pierogies together. It should be interesting to see the attention span of these little ones in addition to their attention to detail. I am thinking they will have some fun making circles and maybe putting the filling in, but the mamas will probably have to take over to finish everything up! We shall see though. I will update with pics (if I remember to take them. In the meantime...here is the recipe for you to check out!

Potato and Cheese Pierogies

Dough:   2 c flour;  1/2 t salt;   2 egg yolks;   2 t oil;   1/2 - 3/4 c hot water
Filling:   Prepared mashed potatoes; 1 c cheddar cheese

To make the dough:

1. Put the flour in a mountain shape on your counter. Sprinkle the salt on top of flour, then make a well in center. Add the egg yolks and oil in the center of the well. Stir in circular motion using your fingers, working from middle of flour out. Add water a little at a time, as you go. The dough should be slightly sticky. Roll into a ball.

2. Knead dough 20 - 25 times or until soft and elastic. (or simply put in the stand mixer with the kneading bit for a few minutes until elastic) Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

To Fill:
1. To fill pierogies, divide dough into 3 - 4 pieces. Using hands, shape into logs about 1" in diameter. Slice each log into pieces 1-inch wide. Dust lightly with flour. Press each piece into a thin round circle. Add 1t of filling in center. Then, gently pull dough over filling to form half-moon shape. Carefully, pinch edges together to seal. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

To cook:

1. Bring a big pot of water to a hard boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Add perogies, one at a time. (be careful not to over crowd the pan) Cook uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pierogies from water or drain.

2. In a saute pan, melt 1-2 T butter. Saute pierogies on each side until lightly brown. Serve with sour cream.