Monday, June 29, 2015

Inspired and Influenced

So I don't know if it's moving or if it's the new cable but lately I've been so inspired and influenced. Even my 5 yr old daughter is coming up with ideas and getting excited watching sweet Kentucky girl Damaris Phillips. Or maybe it's the new love of my life:  My big spacious, functional kitchen with cherry-wood cabinets that I've quickly fallen in love with.  (Gosh I'm becoming a real southerner)  So I've been playing around in the kitchen with different cuisines, new ingredients, and some new cooking methods.  And I must say the results have been spot on!

Mushroom Swiss Turkey Burgers w/ Asparagus and Cannellini Bean Salad topped with a Parmesan Bread Crumbs

Okay so that title is quite a mouthful..but with each bite you will understand why.  Start with some ground turkey and keep the seasonings simple.  S&P, onion powder, and a little garlic powder.  Make your patties and grill them to perfection.  Don't forget to add a slice of swiss cheese to melt on top when you flip the patty.
Next work on that delicious mushroom sauce.  Start by sauteing some sliced onions with a little butter and EVOO.  Add the mushrooms when the onions are translucent then splash in the wet.  A little worcestershire, a little soy sauce, a little beef stock, and a touch of cornstarch slurry. S&P to taste, a splash of red wine and let it reduce.  Now build your burger and let's get to the other veggies.
Now this asparagus will literally have you buying a bundle every week. Trim your asparagus and steam for a few minutes in a little water and salt.  Drain and chop the asparagus and set aside. Start by zesting a lemon and  frying the zest in a pan with a little butter, bread crumbs and grated parmesan.  When they are good and crispy set aside to cool.  In the same pan saute a large finely diced garlic clove, 1 chopped green onion and the cannellini beans in a little EVOO.  Add the juice of that zested lemon from earlier, the asparagus and season to taste.  Top the gorgeous mixture with the parmesan bread crumbs and dig in.

 Goat Cheese stuffed Chicken with a Cracker Crust and Peas and Broccoli Orange risotto
Alright this chicken screams Spring Time!  A lot of bright and fresh citrus flavors accompanied by sweet peas in a creamy but still light risotto.  So start by pounding out your seasoned (season with good old S&P) chicken breast until they are nice and flat.  Now take a break from pounding and put your hands to use elsewhere.  Grab a zester and go to town on a orange and set aside.  Now take a pack of butter crackers or ritz crackers and resume the pounding.  Next grab some goat cheese and layer it in the middle of each chicken breast width wise.  Sprinkle a little orange zest on the goat cheese and roll each breast and secure with a tooth pick.  Set up a dredging station (flour, egg, then the crushed crackers) and coat each chicken.  Spray a baking sheet w/ canola oil and place your chicken on it.  Give the chicken a little spritz on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until done.
Now the risotto takes time.   There's no way around it, you just have to be patient it will take time.  Just remember good things come to those who wait.  So I opted for peas and some left over broccoli stalk from a previous dinner.  Sometimes I take a little pleasure in knowing I used the whole vegetable.  I took the broccoli stalk and shaved the outer fibrous part off then chopped the stalk into bite size pieces  and steamed them.  For the risotto you need a short grain rice like arborio and saute it in a little evoo with S&P in a big but deep frying pan.  You need room to add liquid.  After you have browned the rice just a touch pour in 1/2 c stock (chicken, beef, or veg) and stir slowly.  Your flame should be on medium and you just want the liquid to take it's time and absorb.  I cannot stress enough the importance of stirring frequently.  Seriously, don't walk away.  Alright so your gonna keep adding liquid half cup at a time until your rice is tender and most liquid is absorbed.  Now add a 1/3 cup of goat cheese, a 1/4 cup of the orange juice and a splash of cream (cream totally optional, I had an end of it and wanted to get rid of the carton lol).  Also toss in your peas and broccoli stalks and season to taste.  Keep stirring slow, turn the heat down just a little and again let most of that liquid absorb.  Remove from heat and you should have a pot of creamy rice w/ a burst of flavor to enjoy with that chicken.

Stewed Shrimp and peppers w/ Bacon Cheddar Biscuits
Now this was easy, delicious and totally satisfying my sudden urge to go to Red Lobster w/ no money.  The shrimp, pick a pound of your favorite, chop up some veggies (I used onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms) and keep a can of tomato sauce handy.  Saute all veggies in a little EVOO, season to taste and add about a 1 cup of tomato sauce and let it simmer on low for about 5-8 minutes.  Add your shrimp, a 1 T each of dried oregano and basil and let them cook in the stew until no longer raw! Season again to taste top w/ some chopped cilantro and your done!  See how simple?

The cheddar bacon biscuits I owe it all to   Again, so simple!

Enjoy folks, more deliciousness still to come...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wow, Surprise Yourself!

So there are times when I make meals and I have to wonder..."is this boring?" "does this really taste that good?" "can you tell I made this in 10 minutes?"  Then there are times where it even amazes me how good the dish tastes. I mean I always try to be creative, extraordinary, and just make yummy food but sometimes there's still a little doubt.  Well, not the night of...
Thai Beef and Peppers with Sesame Noodles

Now there was no doubt in my mind whether this was a winner or not. Definitely WINNING! (Sorry that just felt right.) Anyhow, I took one taste and could not stop. Remember that scene in Knocked Up where J.Lo could not stop eating that stew even after getting caught? That was me!  No shame whatsoever. It was that good.  And when I placed that bad boy on the table the kids all looked like they were reenacting the same scene.  All suspicions were confirmed, it was that good!

Thai Beef and Peppers ingredients and directions:
1 lb thin cut beef sliced into strips (I used bottom round)
Flour for dredging
Seasoning salt
Black pepper
vegetable oil
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c ketchup
1 t sesame oil
1 1/2 T sherry
1 t liquid aminos
2 T brown sugar
1/3 cup slurry (cornstarch and water mix)
half small onion sliced thin
half a red bell pepper sliced thin
half a yellow bell pepper sliced thin
2-3 green onions chopped (optional)

Start by dredging the beef in the flour, seasoning salt, and black pepper.  Then heat the vegetable oil on medium high heat and sear the beef quickly turning them several times.  The point is to fry it hot and fast getting a crust on the outside but not overcooking the very thin beef.  While frying the beef combine the soy, ketchup, sesame oil, sherry, aminos, sugar and slurry.  When the beef is fried and almost cooked add all the vegetables except the green onions and cook them as well.  Pour in the soy sauce mixture and let it heat thoroughly.  Your done at this point, the beef should be tender and juicy.  Toss the green onions right on top and just try and stop yourself from eating it.  That sauce is to die for.

Sesame Noodles ingredients and directions:
1 lb thin spaghetti noodles or fettucini cooked and drained
1 T sesame oil
2 green onions sliced diagnally
1/3 c toasted sesame seeds (or less if sesame seeds aren't really your thing)

Heat the sesame oil with the green onions and toss the noodles in it.  Season with S&P and then add the sesame seeds.  That easy.  

I served the beef on a bed of noodles and it was like a Thai spaghetti.  I mean it was AWESOME SAUCE!!!! Enjoy hot mamas!

Forgot to Post This...

A while ago I mentioned something about spinach pesto and that I would post the recipe.  Yeeeaaaahhh, I forgot.  My baaddd.  Better late than never.

Spinach Pesto Ingredients:
3 c packed spinach
3 small garlic cloves
 1/4 c almond slivers
1/3 c pine nuts
about a 1/2 c of evoo (maybe a little more)
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 c grated parmesan

Spinach Pesto Directions:
Toss everythig except for the last 3 ingredients into a food processor (blender can work too) and pulse until you can just barely see bits and pieces.  Add your evoo SLOWLY and continue to pulse until it starts to look smooth.  ( I definitely used a little more than a 1/2 c of evoo).  Season with S&P to taste and stir in the parmesan.  You can pulse a little more to incorporate the parmesan or leave alone for a bit of texture.  That's all folks!  Below are just a couple of dishes I used with my pesto.  I didn't have an actual picture of the pesto alone.  Don't forget to check out ft. this pesto.  It's delicious.

Pasta tossed in the pesto and also as a little dip for the grilled chicken

A topping for this grilled good

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One of those days. C'mon 8:30!

Sooooooo a random day last week, let's call this day Screwday, decided to do just that. Screw with me.  I mean everything that could go wrong was like "not only am I gonna go wrong, but I am gonna do it with flare!"  It started with waking up 5 minutes late, milk spilling at breakfast, rain that I swear started the minute I stepped outside forcing me to run back in for umbrellas, kids that though the umbrellas were weapons and that rain was an early morning shower right before school.  Halfway through the day my 2 year old Reese decided she was going to forget what the potty was or how to say "pee" BEFORE she had an accident.  Funny how she remembered to say "pee, Mommmmyyyyy pee" AFTER the accident though.  In between this my laptop who is on it's last dying breath anyway refused to let me blog, but did serenade me with a loud "beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep" every 5 minutes.  By the evening I was too through.  My Pumpkin (6 yrs.)

had homework that I promise was meant for a fifth grader not a first grader.  My Moo (4 yrs.)
thought it necessary to redecorate her room by dumping EVERY toy on the floor.  Then my Reeses Pieces
joined her sister in the redecorating project while still "forgetting" where the potty was.  When I say not even a glass of wine was helping, man I could not wait for 8:30 pm!

Well when all else goes wrong, cook!  Seriously this is how I see through a lot of stressful times.  Cooking is my therapy so I went to work.  In 30 minutes I had Fry Pan Lasagna.
Now let me give credit where it is due.  Ree Drummond (love her!) totally inspired this dish.  She did a Skillet Lasagna and I subbed some things, tweaked some things, oh and used the frying pan b/c it was already on the stove.  It was that kind of day,

Fry Pan Lasagna ingredients:
2 medium yellow squash, diced small
1 t all spice
1/2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t brown sugar
1 lb bow tie pasta, drained
1 lb ground turkey
1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
1/2 t dried thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (1/2 t dried works too, but I had fresh so I used it up)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 can tomato sauce, 1/2 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz cans)  You can also just use a whole can of tomato sauce for a juicier lasagna or whole can of diced tomatoes for a chunkier sauce.
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated monterey jack
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Fry Pan Lasagna directions:
Okay clearly you will need your biggest frying pan or w/e large pot you feel like grabbing that day.  And yes I know its a lot of ingredients but this is lasagna-like so just keep that in mind.  Still half the time though.  Alright you know how I like to sneak my veggies in.  So start by sauteing your squash in a little evoo on medium heat then season with the all spice, nutmeg, brown sugar and S&P to taste.  When cooked set aside until a little while later.
 Next cook the ground turkey breaking it up as you go for a couple minutes.  Add the worch, all the herbs, the onion and garlic and cook a few minutes more.
 Oh yeah, season with S&P to taste, but easy on the S.  When onions and garlic are translucent add back the squash and your tomato sauces, stir it in then add the sour cream and heavy cream.  Stir well until they are incorporated.  Your sauce should start to look lighter in color and creamy.  Now add in all your cheese, stirring in between each one.  The sauce should really thicken now.
 Last add the pasta to this delicious meat sauce and let them party together for just a little bit.  That's it!  See how simple and will be reminding everyone of lasagna.  Btw, feel free to sub the sour cream for ricotta, or just add it in.  My kids are not big ricotta lovers so I went with the sour cream.  It still gave the dish a layer of bright flavor so feel free to give it a try.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pizza Pizza!

Okay seriously, I am so tired of pizza.  I mean every FFF (Fast Food Friday) it's the same thing.  What do we want today guys..."ooh pizza" "how about pizza"  "we haven't had pizza in a long time Mommy"  Are you kidding me?!  What's their definition of a long time?  Well to my surprise last week we  However, I decided I'm not spending a dime on someone's bread, sauce and cheese.  I'll do it myself!  Thus we have...

Sausage and Power Greens Pizza & Creamy Cheese Pizza

Now if I have to eat pizza, I want something that's going to make me feel like a grown up, not a college student.  I want something that the kids are going to be like..."why are there so many veggies Mommy?"  I want something that requires a glass of wine, not a can of soda!  (We don't actually drink soda but you get the point.)  With all that in mind I also have to think about cheese crazy kids and keep it a little simpler for them.  So the Sausage and Power Greens Pizza is a totally grown up pizza and the Creamy Cheese Pizza is for kids, true pizza lovers and everyone in between.  Please remember though, they're both really good!

Sausage and Power Greens Pizza Ingredients: 
favorite pizza dough already rolled out into a 10 to 12 inch pie.
tomato sauce
shredded mozzarella
1/2 pack of Simple Truth Power Greens (or any mix of greens like spinach, kale, mizuna, chard)
1 lb Italian sausage meatballs (pre-baked and sliced thin)
about 10 white mushrooms sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees warming the pizza pan a little before placing the pie on.  Just a few minutes should do.  Not a hundred percent sure why this makes a difference but it does.  Trust.  Place your dough on the pan, add sauce, mozzarella, greens, meatballs and mushrooms.  Bake for about 20/25 minutes

Creamy Cheese Pizza Ingredients:
favorite pizza dough already rolled out into a 10 to 12 inch pie.
tomato sauce
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c parmesan cheese shredded
1 t black pepper
1/2 T evoo
shredded sharp cheddar
shredded mozzarella

Follow the same directions above for heating the oven and pan.  In a small bowl mix the sour cream, parmesan, black pepper, and evoo and set aside.  Now place dough on pan and top w/ tomato sauce, the sour cream mixture and all the cheese.  Bake for about 20/25 minutes.

Guys the house was smelling like a pizza parlor! This is also a great opportunity to get your fam in the kitchen.  Pizza is one of the most kid friendly things they can help with.  And drag hubby or wifey in the kitchen too just b/c. That Power Green Pizza had me dancing and feeling good about what I was putting in my body.  Btw, you can easily omit the meatballs and have an all veggie treat.  Don't forget about the cheese lovers.  The kids were going crazy over how cheesey and gooey it was.  Delish all around! Enjoy.  Oh yeah here is my tried and true recipe for pizza dough courtesy of All Recipes:

Green city right here!

Quick tip: bake meatballs the night before, saves a lot of time.

Oh yeah, also added some left over chopped tomatoes

Second pizza:  this is that sour cream mixture
Have fun with your tomato sauce

Don't be skimpy with the cheese.  There are no measurements for a reason!

I'm getting hungry again just looking at the pictures.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dinner for less than 10

I am always money conscious no matter the cost or amount I have to spend. When it comes to planned meals it's no different. I do however, spend the extra buck for quality ingredients. I refuse to skim on that one.  When I saw Tyson chicken breast on sale at Kroger I decided to make a scrumptious all inclusive dinner for under 10 bucks.  Here we go folks...
Savory Chicken Pot Pie

1 lb chicken breasts $2.50 (cut into bite size pieces)
Seasoned salt and black pepper (already had)
1 small onion chopped and 1 clove garlic minced (had these too but would have been less than $2 at the store anyway)
Frozen mixed veggies $1.00
Cream of Mushroom/Celery/chicken $1.00(I used mushroom)
Small sour cream $1.29 (only need 1/4 cup)
1 can flaky biscuits $1.99

Now get ready for a easy, no fuss meal.  Heat a little EVOO (about a tbsp) in a pot over medium heat.   When hot add chicken, salt and pepper and saute until just about cooked.  Toss in the onion, garlic, and fro veg and continue to cook until onions are translucent and veggies are almost tender.  Next pour in the cream of whatever and sour cream.  Stir well and let them party together for a few minutes.

While your chicken yumminess is cooking away, prep the biscuits.  Flatten out 6 of the 8 biscuits like this...
The remaining 2 biscuits cut in half and then take one half and cut in 4...My biscuits are stacked here but there are 2 biscuits.  I also forgot to take a pic of the one half cut in four, my bad!
Now pour your chicken yumminess into a 9x13 casserole dish and start layering biscuits. 3 going down one side, 3 going down the other, 3 halves going down the middle, and the four little ones to fill in those middle gaps.  Should look like this

Keep in mind there is no rhyme or reason to layering the biscuits.  My only suggestion is that you flatten them and try to cover as much of the chicken as possible.  You can also get creative and sprinkle fried onion pieces over the top, or crushed favorite crackers, or cheese.  Get fancy if you like, for this meal though I played it safe.  Oh yeah, bake following package directions of biscuits.  The chicken is already cooked so its just about the biscuits now.  Enjoy!

You're Never on my Side

Ya know last week ABC premiered "Off the Boat" and it was pretty darn funny. I let my kids watch over the weekend and they too had a good laugh. (Yes ABC you've done it again). So two days later when a line from the show came back to bite me in the rare and broke my heart I was quite upset.  Believe it or not, even heart brake can bring forth good food.  Presenting....

Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings (straight from the heart)

So quick background, we live in GA but hubby works in NY.  We see him not than more often. Lol. (Get it, the opposite of more often than not? I thought it was funny) Anyway so we have decided to move after the school year. It's better for our family and all that jazz. My six year old son is less than excited. 
his less than excited face
End background.

Now fast forward to yesterday (okay, i won't make a bad joke here) We're sitting in the car ride lane before school chit chatting with his kindergarten teacher. Btw LUV HER! I mention to her she won't have my 4 year old Brii next year (we had been planning since last year for her to be blessed with this wonderful teacher) because we are moving. After we get done saying awws, well wishes and blessings Mehki says to me "Mommy I'm sad"  "What's wrong Pumpkin?"  "I don't want to move anymore"  "Pumpkin it's for the best.  We will get to see Daddy everyday, you guys will make new friends, your getting an extra month of summer vacay, bla bla bla"  "Mommy can I say something to you from Fresh off the Boat?"  "Okaaay What is it?"  (Here comes my heart brake) "YOU'RE NEVER ON MY SIDE!"  (Thanks a lot abc, just thanks!)

Now if you know me at all, you know I'm very sensitive and I cried like a bitch when I got home.  I tried listing all our great reasons again, I told him how much we love him and that being on his side is doing what's best for him.  I reminded him how great it will be to have another guy (his Dad) in the house all the time, all the guy stuff they can do together...but he was still upset with me by the time he was getting out the car.  I called my husband so upset wanting to know if we were making the right decisions, if we had looked at all our options, if we thought things through.  I just wanted to make sure that we were doing the right thing so our son knows we ARE ON HIS SIDE.  Needless to say, my husband reassured me it's okay.  We're on the right path, all that jazz.  These are all things I know already but it broke my heart to see my Pumpkin sad and made me question everything.  Crazy, over-analyzing Mom that I am, I immediately start thinking of ways to cheer him up after school.  As usual, food is one of my best ways of showing love.  My Pumpkin loves chicken wings and LOVES sweet and sour sauce.  Naturally, I put the two together.

2 lbs chicken wings (scalded)
seasoned salt, black pepper, dried dill
1 T veg. oil
1 cup seasoned flour (mix flour with 1 T paprika)
2 T red wine vinegar
2 1/2 T ketchup
2 T honey 
2 1/2 T white sugar
2 t soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Season wings with seasoned salt, pepper and dill.  Let them party for at least an hour.
Coat the wings in the veg. oil then in the flour mixture shaking off excess flour.
Lay on greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  At 30 minutes the wings were cooked but I gave it an extra 10 to achieve a more golden look and crispier texture.
While wings are doing their thing, combine the rest of the ingredients except sesame seeds in a sauce pot.
Bring to a gentle boil on medium heat and let it reduce some.
Toss wings in the sauce and top with sesame seeds.
I served these wings with roasted asparagus and tater tots.  Quick and easy and oh so..... pleasy? Ok I tried.

Alright, now back to the little heart breaker.  Like the average well prepared obsessive mother, I was ready for round two of this "not on my side" conversation in the afternoon.  Had a new list prepared and everything.  And like the average forgetful,  live in the moment six year old, he never said a word.  Mehki was perfectly fine, happy as ever, acted as if that morning never even happened.  So even though I had shed tears, slaved over a hot stove and questioned my role as a good mother, my six year old proved to me that once again I was stressing over nothing!  Dinner however, was AMAZE-BALLS!!!!!!

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