Thursday, April 24, 2014

Maple Glazed Carrots

I made these tonight for dinner and they were gobbled up in no time. Simple, easy side dish.

Maple Glazed Carrots
2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias
1 T evoo
1/2 c chicken stock
2 T Maple syrup
1 T butter

Put the sliced carrots and evoo in a sautee pan and cook for about 8 minutes - you want the carrots to get a bit of color on the edges. Then add chicken stock and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.* Remove lid and turn up the heat so the excess liquid evaporates.

Add maple syrup and butter. Salt and pepper to taste.

*I actually had to pick up my daughter for ballet while the carrots were simmering - I was probably gone 15 minutes and they turned out great!!

Ham Sauce

I saw this on Pinterest and was curious. The original post is HERE - she also has an idea how to baste your ham - but I skipped that and went straight for the Ham Sauce - 

Good golly this really kicked our Easter ham up a notch!!

Ham Sauce
1 egg
5 Tablespoons water
5 Tablespoons vinegar
 Then add:
 ¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon of flour
1 Tablespoon of dry mustard
¼ teaspoon (or to taste) celery seed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Cook and stir on LOW heat until mixture thickens.
Cool completely to room temperature, covering with saucepan lid.
Whip ½ cup whipping cream

When cool, fold in whipped cream.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Homemade Butter

My kids are on Spring break this week and because this is the first time we haven't taken a vacation during Spring break, I've been challenging myself to come up with fun and interesting ways to keep my kids entertained. We've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series and I thought it would be fun to tie this into that time period.

Today, we made homemade butter!! We used my KitchenAid for a big batch - and while that was churning, each of the kids had smaller amounts of this recipe in jars with 3 marbles in the jars to help agitate the butter and make it easier for them. It was a good lesson as they each shook their jars to realize how much effort went into making butter "in the olden days" when people used a churn instead of an electric device.  

Homemade Butter
1/4 c milk
1 shredded carrot*
1 qt heavy cream
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp table sugar

1. Peel & finely grate a carrot (*or do what I did and just buy shredded carrots and use about 1/2 c from the bag). Heat in small saucepan with 1/4 cup milk until milk is bubbly. Put the carrots in a clean cheesecloth (I actually used a cloth napkin) and pour the hot milk over the carrots into the bowl of your stand mixer. Squeeze all the milk out of the carrots. Discard shredded carrot.

2. Pour cream into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add salt and sugar. Cover mixer with a towel it will be a little messy. Set mixer on low (2) and let the paddle do the work.

3. Continue mixing, checking on mixture frequently. It will first turn to whipped cream, then begin to get grainy and separate into butter and buttermilk. The butter is ready when it sticks in a clump to the paddle.

4. Strain the buttermilk off of the butter.

5. Using your hands or a spatula, press out excess buttermilk under cold running water until water runs clear. Shape into stick or ball. Butter will keep covered in refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Serve with bread and enjoy!

**The butter we shook in jars didn't turn out as firm as the butter from the KitchenAid - not enough elbow grease I guess.

Number of servings (yield): Approximately 1 pound of butter + 3/4 cup of buttermilk

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Creamy Basil Pesto Tortellini

I came up with this idea based on craving and availability

Creamy Basil Pesto Tortellini
1 package of fresh Tortellini (may favorite is the 5 cheese at Costco)
Alfredo Sauce (My basic alfredo sauce is HERE)
Basil Pesto Sauce (I love the Kirkland brand - sheesh - I should get paid for all this advertising!!)
Pine Nuts

I didn't give you any measurements - bc I didn't use any. I made my alfredo sauce (which does have measurements - do don't worry) When the alfredo sauce was done, I turned it down to low and covered it so it could stay warm while I prepped everything else.

The Tortellini only takes about 3-5 minutes to cook so this comes together quick! On the back burner in your smallest skillet - add a handful of pine nuts - keep the heat pretty low. Every time I toast pine nuts I forget about them - so using a low setting works for me.

Then everything comes together! I serve this buffet style. My daughter only likes alfredo on hers. One of my daughters loves Pesto - and just adds pesto and pine nuts to hers. My hubby, son and I like to add both alfredo and pesto together - mine is a little heavier on the pesto than theirs. We all love toasted pine nuts.

Just as we were all sitting down I remembered that I had a block of Asiago in the freezer - so I put a few very fine shavings on top! Delish!!

Creamy Parmesan Romano Rice

I was at the grocery store the other day and those packets of rice & seasonings on display. I thought to myself - I used to love those when I was in college… I should try to make a version at home - that'll ensure I have control over what goes in to it - and that what goes in it won't be a "seasoning packet" and all those preservatives!!
Creamy Parmesan Romano Rice
1 stick (8 T)
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 c water
2 c 2%milk
2 c white rice
Salt and pepper to taste

1 T chopped fresh parsley
½  c parmesan – romano cheese, shredded or finely grated

Saute garlic in butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat until fragrant about 3 minutes. Add riceand stir to coat in butter. Add milk, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer – cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Stir only occasionally to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom – if it is, turn the heat down.

When the rice is done. Stir in parmesan romano cheese and parsley. If you’d like yours creamier, you can add a splash of milk. Taste for salt and pepper. Cover and take off the heat to rest 5 minutes.

My kids gobbled this up!

Friday, April 11, 2014

April Fools Food Ideas

I realize April Fools came and went a week or so ago - but I want to get these ideas and pics in the book.

The "SUSHI BAR" rice kris pies, jelly worms, skittles, licorice, swedish fish…

Each child makes their own "roll"according to their tastes...
 Maisie is always the most creative and neat. She wants her faux roll to look just like a real one...
 Izzie is the greedy one. We don't eat a lot of candy around here - unless it's for a special occasion - so when she gets the chance - she goes for it!!

 Jack likes to keep his food separately - ALWAYS. Food doesn't touch another type of food on his plate - see those separations?

Kids favorite "jello" juice - I'm surprised that there is always on of them that fall for it every year...
 This lil one was super excited before she even knew what it was - "there is something red in my cup!"

Maisie made "cupcakes with frosting" which are really meatballs with sweet potato sauce

 Other fun things we've done in years past are hamburgers made by cutting cupcakes in half and decorating them with frosting, m&m's served with bread sticks rolled in butter then sugar and cinnamon. cut them in half and serve in half an envelope.

Last year I bought two new sponges and decorated them with frosting and sprinkles. First I had the kids try to each cut a slice. Then I sliced it in half and without getting the joke - they all took a bite!

I've done this one every year for several. Sometimes I do it the night before after the kids go to bed, sometimes I do it while they are at school, sometimes I do it while they are at extracurriculars - bc they don't know when to expect it - it always makes them laugh when they find all these goggly eyes on every single container in the fridge!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

I have had a craving for Chicken Pot Pie for a few weeks now - but I wanted to make one that was "homemade" but didn't want to spend an entire day making it. Solution?? This little recipe I came up with. I researched recipes from Ina Gartner, Ree Drummond to name a few - then took some awesome short cuts and came up with this!!!

*Picture thanks to Ree Drummond - we had company the night I made Chicken Pot Pie so taking a pic of it was the last thing on my mind.

For the record - my 4 kids and the 3 teenaged boys we had over for dinner ALL got seconds and all each finished their portions in record time.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
1/4 c flour
4 T butter (half a stick)
2 c chicken stock
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 t granulated chicken bouillon
1 "Traditional" rotisserie chicken
1 c frozen, diced onions
1 c frozen carrots, diced or crinkle cut
1 c frozen sweet peas
1 c frozen sweet corn
2 Marie Callendars frozen pie crusts
1 c heavy cream
1/4 c fresh parsley (or thyme), finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and *celery (we just found out that my son is allergic to celery – seriously.) Saute until the vegetables start to turn translucent, a couple of minutes.

Add 2 cups of the diced chicken and stir to combine. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables and chicken, and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring gently.

Pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in the bouillon cube. The flour will combine with the chicken to create a delicious gravy. Next, add the peas and corn.

Pour in the cream and stir. Allow the mixture to cook over low heat, thickening gradually, about 4 minutes. Season with the parsley (or thyme), salt and pepper, and continue to cook on low for 30-40 minutes. You want to have time for all of the veg to get soft and for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

While the filling is melding on low, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get the pie crusts out of the freezer to thaw.

Pour the chicken mixture into one of the pie crusts – don’t be afraid to pile it in there – the top crust will help keep it all in. Then cover with second pie crust. Use your fingers to pinch the edges of both crusts together to seal it. Use a fork to pierce a few holes in the top crust.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Seriously SO DELICIOUS and comforting - and with all that veg!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Greek Tortellini Salad

I made 5 cheese tortellini with Alfredo sauce 2 days ago. I also made pasta on Monday (4 days ago) and I wanted to use the left over pasta in a different way and I came up with this salad and one other HERE...

Greek Tortellini Salad
1 small red onion, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 c grape tomatoes, halved
1 c feta, crumbled
12 oz. tortellini - I used the 5 cheese tortellini from Costco
1/2 bottle of Greek salad dressing (I used Paul Newmans Greek dressing) just add little by little and toss until it's to your liking

So delicious. So fresh. So filling!!

*Sorry my pics are out of focus - I'm learning to use my 50mm and I'm not having much luck yet...

Broccoli Grape Cucumber Salad

I didn't take this gorgeous picture - while I did make this salad, we had company in town and it was gobbled up so quickly I didn't get a picture of mine. This picture and recipe can be seen HERE on NatashasKitchen

I did, however, use another tried and true dressing recipe instead of the one she used...

Broccoli Grape Cucumber Salad
2 medium heads of broccoli, finely chopped/ diced
1/2 english cucumber, diced
1 cup red/purple grapes, chopped
3 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 Tbsp unsalted sunflower seeds

1 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar is also good) 
1/2 red onion, diced

Pretty self explanatory as far as putting it together...


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