Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chinese Simmer Chicken

I got this recipe from my brother in law a long, long time ago. It's his claim to fame.
Chinese Simmer Chicken
2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c cooking sherry (which I never use)
1/2 c water
2 T ketchup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch of green onions, diced
1/2 t red pepper

Thickening agent:
2 T cornstarch
2 T water
1 t sesame oil

Mix the first 9 ingredients together and let marinate for at least an hour. Place in sauce pan and heat to boil. Reduce to simmer over until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan once it is cooked. Bring sauce back to a boil. Slowly add the thickening agent mix, constantly stirring until desired thickness.

Serve on top of rice or noodles. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds (if you've got them).

I usually make this without the red pepper flakes b/c of my little kiddos. After everyone is served, I add red pepper flakes to both my plate and my husbands to add that little kick.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup Deluxe!

I am waaaay too excited for fall. It has been in the high 80's here until... Wednesday, when the temp dropped to the low 70's and it rained all day long. I was so excited that I made "Veggie Chow-da".


With my excitement out of control - I also got a serving of pureed sun dried tomatoes and a serving of pesto out of the freezer and into the fridge just so I could make this soup. Even though the weather returned to the high 80's the next day - this was so delicious!


I posted this recipe for Creamy Tomato Basil Soup a while ago. I varied the recipe from the original this time. I wanted to add a few more layers of flavor to give the soup a bit more depth and subtle notes of flavor (woot! listen to me talkin about food - I think I'm so cool - LOL)

I swear that I posted my 'gourmet cheats' but after looking through the blog - I couldn't find it. I'll post it again and it will help this recipe make more sense to you.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup Deluxe!
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
1 c all purpose flour
4 c chicken broth
4 c half & half*
1 1/2 c marinara sauce
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes or 8 to 10 small vine ripened tomatoes, diced
1 c sundried tomatoes, pureed
1/2 c prepared pesto
Coarse salt and ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stir for 5 minutes to slightly brown the mixture and create a roux. Wisk in the broth. Increase the heat and cook and stir until thickened. Decrease the heat to low, stir in the half and half and simmer for 20 minutes.Stir in the marinara sauce, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and pesto and cook until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*I have used both full fat and fat free half & half - since it is used as a thickening agent, the taste is nearly the same using either.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Veggie Chow-da

I didn't realize that Krystal had posted a recipe for her Garden Veggie Chowder already. They are similar - but with enough differences that I thought I'd post.

I looked in my freezer and realized that I had so many veggies just begging to be eaten! I have been trying to do a Veggie entree at least once a week - so I came up with the 'recipe' while on my walk this morning...

*you can use any and all veggies you have - this is just what I threw in the pot today!

Veggie Chow-da
Asparagus, blanched or steamed (or thawed), cut into 1 - 2" pieces
Carrots, diced
Celery, diced
Onion, diced
Broccoli, blanched or steamed (or thawed)
Corn, drained (or thawed)
Potatoes (I use frozen square hashbrowns - and I don't even thaw them)
2 - 3 T EVOO (olive oil)
32 oz (4 cups) stock (veggie, chicken - what have you)
4 T flour
1/3 c butter (softened or room temp)
2 1/2 - 3 c half and half
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Put EVOO in a large stock pot. Add onions. Cook them down until they are translucent. Add all veggies and stock. Bring up to a boil then turn down to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, add butter and flour in a small sauce pot and whisk until combined and smooth. Add slowly to the veggie and stock soup you have working. Let simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Add half and half - continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes to bring up the soup to temp and also to give the half and half time to thicken the soup.

Garnish with shredded cheese and serve with a big ol' hunk of bread to dunk in this delish soup!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Evans Broccoli Salad

I got this recipe from my sister's Mother In Law. She makes it for every 'special' dinner they have - it's tried and true!
Evans Broccoli Salad
1 lb sliced mushrooms
1 or 2 heads broccoli
1 bunch green onions

Dressing:
3/4 c sugar
2/3 c rice wine vinegar
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 t salt
1 t celery salt
1 t onion powder
1 t paprika
1/8 t pepper

Combine ingredients for dressing and set aside.

Prepare the remainder of the ingredients - combine with dressing. Let refrigerate a few hours before service.

*I didn't use mushrooms - which I usually do. I also make this salad with cucumbers instead of mushrooms - my kids like it better that way!

**I also added toasted almonds for a little 'crunch.' Sun flower seeds would be a good topper too:)

Sample Menu

I know I'm waaay off - but I just wanted to update on what I'm making this week. It's still hot here - I can't wait for it to cool down so I can start making soups and nice warm casseroles...

Anyway... I've been meal planning around proteins & veggies. This week I bought chicken and ground beef. For the veggies, I bought spinach, asparagus and broccoli (and romain lettuce OF COURSE!)

I am just going to list the "entrees" and the "sides" seperate:

ENTREES
Basil & Spinach Pizza
Enchilada Bake
Chinese Simmer Chicken
Beef Tacos
Monterey Chicken
Meatloaf
Creamy Asparagus Pasta

SIDES
Spinach Parmesan
Grilled Asparagus
Evans Broccoli Salad
Green Salad
Eleanor's Black Beans
Fried Rice

Freezing Veggies

I've probably posted something similar - but it's such a basic that not a lot of people research. I hate to waste food. I've tried to only buy 2 or 3 veggies per week so that they get eaten and don't go bad. BUT, there are always those weeks...

I have a great menu planned for this week - but my husband just told me that he is leaving today to go out of town and won't be back until Friday. That makes a big difference as far as consumption goes.

I usually buy my veggies in bulk (from Costco) and since he won't be here this week - I froze the veggies that won't get eaten this week.

Today, I seperated portions of asparagus and broccoli that will get eaten by me and the kiddos this week - and froze the rest. These instructions go for both:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in veggies (broccoli or asparagus in this case). Par boil them for 3-5 minutes (they will be bright green). Drain the veggie and "shock" them in a bowl of cold water (I put ice cubes in mine to speed the process and lock in that great color). Let the veggie's sit in the cold water for a few minutes. Drain again and put in a freezer safe container or Ziplock bag.
To thaw: set them out on the counter a few hours before you need to use them OR put them in a sink of cold water to thaw them out quicker.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Steakhouse Steaks

I got this recipe from Ina Garten. My husband is the 'steak guy' and thus far I have refused to pick out steaks. If he wants one - he goes and picks out the meat and grills it. In this case - I wanted to treat him and try steaks a different way. I went to my local Butcher (like a real live meat shop that only sells meat) and asked the butcher for 2 10 oz filet mignon steaks (just as BFC said to) and when I took said steaks to the cashier I just about fainted when she rang me up and the total was $25.00.

The steaks were good - don't get me wrong - they were excellent - BUT if you don't want to drop $25 for 2 pieces of meat - I am sure that you could substitute your favorite cut instead.
Steakhouse Steaks - Barefoot Contessa
2 (10-ounce) filet mignon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and brush them lightly with vegetable oil. Combine the fleur de sel and cracked pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture, pressing lightly to evenly coat all sides.
When the skillet is ready, add the steaks and sear them evenly on all sides for about 2 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes.

Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter, if using, and place the skillet in the oven. Cook the steaks until they reach 120 degrees F for rare or 125 degrees F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer. (To test the steaks, insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you're actually testing the middle of the steak.)

Start checking the steaks after about 15 minutes in the oven. They should be close to done.

Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Easiest Empanadas Ever!

I have always wanted to work with puff pastry - so I bought some a while ago. I kept seeing it in the freezer but was unsure what to do with it. I knew whatever I made with it that it would be delicious, but since I had never used puff pastry - I felt like I had to make something extra special.

I had all these half-baked (wahaha) ideas that just never came to fruition... finally I just decided the heck with it and that I was going to use it and just wing it - turned out super delish!!
Easy Empanadas
3 medium sized boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
Cream cheese (your fav savory flavor - I used chive and onion)
2 sheets defrosted puff pastry
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder to taste
1 egg

I am going to tell you how I did it -there are obviously many, many ways to get shredded chicken...

I put the chicken in my crock pot with 1qt of chicken stock, set it on high for 2 1/2 hours. Pulled it out and shredded it with 2 forks. Seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Set out the puff pastry about 45 minutes before you are ready to use it. Make sure you PAM your baking sheet and that you seperate the sheets from each other so they thaw in that time frame.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unfold the dough and cut each sheet into 4 squares. Put about 1/4 cup of the shredded chicken on one side of each of the squares. Make sure you leave room at the edges to crimp it closed.

Add a small spoonful of your fav cream cheese on top of the chicken. Use a small amount of water on your finger to wet the corners on the 'filled' side of the pastry. Fold the 'unfilled' half of the pastry over the chicken mixture so you have a triangle. Seal the filling in by crimping the edges with a fork.

Use egg wash (one egg + 1 T water) on top of the pastry to get that little golden hint and a bit of shine.

Cook at 375 for about 15 minutes.

I cut them in half and we ate them like pizzas - so super delish!!!

*My hubs dipped his in Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (by Fischer & Weiser) yummmmm...

I am excited to experiment more with puff pastry! Do you have a fav recipe you use it for?

Bucatini and Broccolini Pasta

I saw this recipe on the Rachael Ray show. I had extra broccoli I needed to use up and this looked like the perfect way to do it!

This recipe is delicious, very healthy and so cheap!
Bucatini and Broccolini Pasta
Salt and pepper
*1 pound bucatini pasta
*2 bunches broccolini, 1 head romanesco or 1 large bunch broccoli rabe
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO )
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced or chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
A few grates nutmeg
Grated or shaved Pecorino Romano cheese, to pass around the table

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Cut the broccolini into 3-4-inch pieces and halve the larger florets (or trim the romanesco and cut into thin florets, or trim the broccoli rabe and cut into 3-4-inch pieces). Salt the boiling water in the skillet, add the broccolini (or romanesco or broccoli rabe) and parboil for 4 minutes. Drain well and let cool on a clean towel.
In the same skillet, heat the EVOO, four turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes, then add the crushed red pepper and stir for a minute more. Add the broccolini (or romanesco or broccoli rabe) and season with the nutmeg. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water and toss vigorously for a minute or two. Season with salt and black pepper. Pass the Pecorino-Romano at the table for topping.

*I used whole wheat spaghetti and 2 heads of regular broccoli
**I also sauteed 1/2 c onions before I started the garlic (b/c I just LOVE onions!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Buffalo Salad

My hubs travels a lot. He was coming home tonight so I wanted to serve him something special. He LOVES buffalo wings - like LOVES them. I decided to incorporate his love of that flavor into a main dish - this is what I came up with and it was freakin' delish!!
Buffalo Salad
2 heads romaine lettuce
½ c chopped celery
1/2 c crumbled blue cheese
3/4 c Ranch dressing
3 chicken breasts (bscb)
1 T EVOO
2 T butter
1/3 c Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 T Salad Supreme (spice aisle)

Add EVOO to your sautee pan. Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the oil. Cook until no longer pink. Add butter, Franks and Salad Supreme. Simmer for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to marry.

Chop and wash your lettuce and celery and plate it. Top with chicken and dressing – top with blue cheese.

*I had soccer practice, so I made the chicken in the afternoon and then put it in the fridge so I could throw this together at the last minute.

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