Thursday, April 17, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Chicken Thighs

In an effort to post more, I am going to keep things short and sweet. A regular item on our dinner menu are chicken thighs. We buy them in bulk at Costco, they come 4 to a package and usually are dinner and lunch the next day. My favorite way to prepare them is baking them for 35-45 minutes in a 400 degree oven. I try a variety of spices and sauces to keep this regular menu item interesting. Last night we tried this recipe. They were very flavorful although I think I would prefer more mustard next time. I cooked a mixture of potatoes, onions, carrots and celery underneath in the sauce, which made for an easy side. We also had broccoli bagna cauda from Nom Nom Paleo, which is probably our favorite way to eat broccoli. Don't fear the anchovy, it is delicious! This was pretty easy to prepare, the most tedious part being cutting and prepping the vegetables.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meal Planning Week #3

I have been trying really hard lately to plan out meals so I am not running to the grocery store more than necessary and so weeknight evenings have more leisure time and less time prepping, cooking and cleaning. I am going to document the meals here so I can have a record of what worked well and what did not. I do also use emeals occasionally, but this week I needed two crock pot recipes and there were not any included. Boo! That is actually my big gripe with emeals, sometimes it works great, but other times it just does not.

Monday- walleye, wild rice and a green salad (wild rice was made in a large batch and frozen prior to this week)

Tuesday- crock pot chicken cacciatore with spaghetti squash and steamed green beans (cutting this recipe down to 4 servings, will prepare aromatics ahead of time, spaghetti squash and green beans can be prepared in the microwave)

Wednesday- crock pot pork stew served in lettuce wraps with cauliflower rice (will prepare cauliflower in food processor prior to wednesday)

Thursday- Kowalski's rotisserie chicken, sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli (pick up chicken, microwave sweet potatoes and broccoli)

Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

French Toast Casserole

Thanks everyone for coming to our housewarming brunch! I have had a few requests for the French Toast Casserole recipe and here it is. Charlie's mom, Suzanne Rand made it first, and it was so awesome, I had to repeat it. Also, here is a link to the quiche I made, which is from the New Basics Cookbook. I used only 1/3 cup of gruyere cheese and next time I would add 1 egg and reduce the amount of half & half to 2/3 cup.

Casserole1 lb. French bread, crust cut off,
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 c. blueberries
12 eggs
1 c. milk
1/3 c. maple syrup

1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 c. blueberries
1 T. butter

1) Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish with pam, olive oil--whatever you choose.
2) Either cut the bread into cubes or rip it into bite sized cubes. Put half of it in the casserole dish.
3) Sprinkle half the blueberries and half the cream cheese on the bread. Cover with the rest of the bread and top with remaining cream cheese and blueberries.
4) Beat eggs with milk and maple syrup. Pour evenly over the bread mixture. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
5) The following morning preheat the oven to 350. Let the casserole sit out of the fridge 30 minutes before putting in the oven. Cover the casserole with tin foil and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 25-30 minutes more until the top is golden brown.
6) Serve with blueberry syrup.

Blueberry Syrup
1) Combine all syrup ingredients into saucepan, whisk and bring to a boil until thick and purple. Serve over casserole.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Right Now

Life has been a little bit crazy. I love to cook--but gosh, my hobby can take up a lot of time. From scouring the internet for the "perfect" recipe, to multiple grocery store trips in a week and choosing labor intensive recipes a little too often--I need to scale back my hobby a bit. However, scaling back does not mean compromising my values--eating as few processed foods as possible while enjoying meals in my own home. In comes Emeals. Every week I get a menu and grocery list delivered to my inbox. I do not follow it exactly, but it definitely gives me enough structure to limit my grocery store trips and internet treasure hunts. Additionally, most of the recipes are pretty easy and do not consume too much time. Here is what we have and will be having this week. I will try to keep you updated and will maybe share a few of my favorite meals of the week. Keep in mind this is not the exact emeals plan--like for instance, I added mashed turnips because I thought I might need a few carbs. I also really had a craving for wild rice salad since spring is finally here. 

Meal #1: Ginger pork chops with sriracha broccolini and mashed turnips

Meal #2: Dijon chicken breasts with green beans and wild rice salad

Meal #3: Pork carnitas with cilantro cauliflower rice

Meal #4: Grilled lime flank steak with sweet potatoes and wilted spinach

Meal #5: Shrimp and pineapple kabobs with tomato & avocado salad

Once I am a few weeks into this, I might do an Emeals review. I do the Paleo plan, but there are a lot of options for a lot of different diets.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Curried Meatball Soup in the Slow Cooker

Want to try something a little different? If so, I highly recommend this soup. The recipe comes from Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever.  I can't recommend the cookbook enough. It is full of recipes from the very traditional--dump it in the slow cooker and leave, to complex recipes that require a bit more care. This recipe is very easy and also is full of different flavors. The meatballs are pretty labor intensive however. I made a triple batch the first time I made this recipe, and just pulled them out of the freezer and tossed them in the crock pot. It made the recipe almost too easy. I definitely recommend doing the same.

Ingredients for the Meatballs
1 cup cooked long grain rice
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef (or turkey)
1 teaspoon of curry powder
4 green onions, chopped, green & white parts
1 Tbs of Hot Mango Chutney
1 large egg (whoops, I was all out and used 1/4 cup of applesauce)

Ingredients for Soup
7 cups low sodium beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use gluten free)
1 bunch of bok choy, chopped,
1 cup snow peas
2 cups of bean sprouts for garnish

Optional Ingredients:
1/3 cup of water chestnuts
2 cups shredded cabbage

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix together well. To do this right, you may need to use your freshly washed hands. Once mixed, make the meatballs. They should be about an inch in diameter and you should get about 12-15 meatballs.

2) Add the broth and soy sauce to the slow cooker. Then add the meatballs. Cover and cook on high for about 3 hours. If you are like me and used frozen meatballs, cook on high for 4 hours.

3) Add in the bok choy, snow peas and any other veggies you choose to add. Cook on low for an hour.

4) Serve in bowls topped with the bean sprouts.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homemade Salad Dressing--Easier Than You Think!

Lately, I have been almost exclusively making my own salad dressings. From being in the kitchen with my mother, I knew it was possible to make a delicious salad dressing out of just a few ingredients. I also know that the list of ingredients on most store bought salad dressings are very long and contain words that belong in a chemistry textbook.

Anyways, the other day on a whim I bought a bottle of Annie's Woodstock salad dressing which is a tomato and tahini mixture. After one taste, I was hooked. However, at $4+ something for a tiny 8 oz bottle--that is some expensive stuff, especially when I am capable of going through one bottle in a week. Solution? Make my own. I searched "homemade Annie's Woodstock dressing" and came up with a couple of recipes. I decided to use this one from Spark People. The result? Next time I will probably add the water last and will drizzle it in slowly to get my desired consistency. I added it right away and the consistency was too thin. The flavor is great though! I really do not notice a big difference between my homemade stuff and Annie's. The cost? I got about 16 ounces of dressing and when I did a rough estimate of costs, it came to about $3.50. Awesome, twice as much dressing for half the price and no mystery ingredients. I'm sold.

You can do the same thing! Whatever your favorite is, look for a recipe and try to imitate it. You might surprise yourself with how well it turns out. It is so easy too! I swear people look at me like I must labor intensively in the kitchen to make a salad dressing.

Tips for Making Homemade Salad Dressing

1) Dressings have to emulsify--meaning two or more liquids need to come together as one mixture. Oil and vinegar do not mix well, but often adding something very acidic like a bit of lemon juice helps. I also prefer to use a food processor and let it run for awhile. I feel like it results in a much better emulsion compared to whisking.

2) Use good olive oil. I found out the hard way that rancid olive oil is pretty disgusting.

3) Oil and vinegar should be at a 2:1 ratio.

4) Here are some good vinegars to try: red wine, balsamic, white white, sherry, champagne or even some citrus instead such as lime, lemon or orange.

5) Here are some good flavor enhancers: chopped rosemary, oregano or thyme, garlic, shallots, sun dried tomatoes, soy sauce, ginger

6) Specific bottles for salad dressing are not necessary, but they do make it a lot easier to make and store homemade salad dressing. They also come printed with some hand recipes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes

This recipe is based on one from the Biggest Loser website. Since I am limiting gluten and dairy, breakfast is probably the hardest meal of the day since eggs get boring after awhile. I have had to get creative, and although I am not the hugest fan of pancakes, I love these ones! I made some changes to the Biggest Loser ones because I don't really have a good reason to leave the yolk of the egg out and the thought of putting cottage cheese in pancakes makes my stomach turn. These pancakes are awesome. They are filling and satisfying, yet do not leave you with the "blown up" feeling you have after eating a stack of flapjacks. They were topped with Trader Joe's Honey Apple Butter and served with turkey sausage and a big mug of coffee. Yum!

The first time I made these, I used my immersion blender and it did not do the greatest job on grinding the rolled oats. I ran the mixture through my food process until it was smooth and it really made a difference. Also, the batter can sit in your fridge, but it tends to thicken up a lot of if you do that, add another egg.

4 eggs
1 cup rolled oats*
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp of vanilla
2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
Optional: 1 tsp each of ground ginger, nutmeg, or allspice)
splash of EVOO

1) Combine all ingredients in food process or a blender. Blend until smooth.
2) Heat a splash of EVOO on a griddle or large non-stick pan (I usually put a bit on a paper towel and just coat the pan).
3) Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter in the pan. These pancakes do not bubble like normal pancakes, but you will know they are ready because little holes start to form. Flip and cook the other side.
4) Serve with whatever topping you like: any sort of nut butter, the apple honey butter is great, maple syrup, chopped nuts, whipped cream, or jam.

*gluten free if you use gluten free rolled oats