Archive | August, 2013

Garlic Herb Rice

31 Aug

If the world ever ran out of rice, my family might die. My kids might be ok – they are young enough that they would learn to adjust. But my husband, he’d be a goner for sure. I like this rice because it’s simple – surprise! 🙂 It’s kind of like a homemade version of Rice-a-Roni, but better than the boxed version, of course. I find the boxed mixes tend to have a mushy texture, so homemade wins hands down in my book. And it’s a nice little departure from just plain white rice on those night you feel like being a hair more adventurous.

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Ingredients:

1 Tbsp butter

1 cup uncooked rice

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic

1/4 tsp basil

1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth

Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add rice, onion powder, garlic, and basil. Stir occasionally until rice is slightly browned – about 5-7 minutes. Add chicken broth. Let mixture come to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and rice is soft.

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Homemade Salsa

29 Aug

I helped my neighbor’s daughter sew her wedding dress a few weeks ago. Now, there is one thing you should know about me – I am slightly obsessed with wedding dresses. My husband made a separate account for me on Netflix just so that he could filter out the shows he likes from my wedding shows. I used to have a huge stash of bridal magazines, but I decided to get rid of them when we moved into our current house, having had a sudden desire to purge anything that I could avoid packing. I regretted it almost immediately. I regretted it even more when my sister got engaged and I had nothing to go to for inspiration. Luckily, my mom’s neighbor took pity on me, and since she happened to get a couple of different magazines for free, my stash started to grow again…I am never throwing them away again. If I could convince my husband to marry me every year (not that he wouldn’t marry me again, he just doesn’t love wedding stuff quite as much as me :)), I might die of happiness getting to have a new wedding dress for every year of our marriage. Sigh. I love wedding dresses. But that’s another blog for another day…

So any who! Because I helped with the dress, my neighbor, who has a stellar garden, paid me in produce. I really just did it for love of wedding dresses, but I took the produce gratefully! I ate the entire cantaloup by myself – I’m not kidding either. Everyone else got one bite. To be fair, I did warn them that if they didn’t take advantage of such a delicious cantaloup then I would eat it all. And I did. I did the same to the honeydew. The peppers and tomatoes I got a little stuck on. I’m the only tomato eater in my house, and I knew I couldn’t eat 6 tomatoes plus a ton of cherry tomatoes all by myself before they went bad. And what do you do with 8 jalepeno peppers and a big bunch of banana peppers? I am a wuss when it comes to spicy things, so I have a hard time doing anything with peppers. After looking at all this beautiful produce sitting purposelessly on my counter for way too long, I knew it was time…time for some serious salsa improvisation. This recipe is super loose because I honestly can’t remember what exactly I put in – but it turned out so much better than I expected. As long as you have some great garden goods and stick to the seasonings in this recipe, you can use your creativity and taste to customize your own salsa.

Homemade Salsa

Ingredients:

8 jalepeno peppers (for spicy, keep seeds – for mild, remove seeds and inner membranes)

5 banana peppers

1 pt yellow cherry tomatoes

6 smaller tomatoes

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 Tbsp lime Juice

Chop peppers and tomatoes so that they blend easier then combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until you reach the desired consistency – less if you like chunky, more if you don’t like the chunks. Chill and serve.

*Adapted from original recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/01/restaurant-style-salsa/

Garlic Basil Pizza

25 Aug

My family and I just got back from an awesome weekend spent at the Rockin’ R Ranch. This was our third time visiting the secluded Antimony, UT dude ranch, and we’re already counting down the days until we can go again. My four year old worded it the best: “I don’t want to go, Mom! We’ve only been here a minute!” I whole-heartedly agree. Trail rides, canoeing, corral training, bucking barrels, tubing down the river, archery, treasure hunt and coloring for the kids, candy cannon, brand new baby donkey to ooh and ah at, ATV’s, no internet or TV…and the food. Oh, my friends…the food. Nothing at the Rockin’ R is gourmet – it is down home cookin’ and down right delicious. The best part? Someone else cooked it. 😉 We got home to the kitchen that I didn’t quite get all the way tidied before we left, and I looked at my husband and said, “Remember how we just spent two days in a beautiful place, riding beautiful horses, and had all our meals cooked for us? Let’s go back.” The smells that come out of that back kitchen are stomach-rumblimg good, regardless of the fact that you just ate three times more than you usually do and are stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey – you still would happily eat more as long as it tastes as good as it smells. The first night they had some sort of blueberry spice cake that I may have to try to steal the recipe for. Top that off with roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy…it was good stuff. Aren’t you all sad you didn’t come with us?

We got home (it’s a three hour drive for us) and of course the kids were starving, and I was still musing on the fact that small town living is starting to sound really good if I can have someone cook all of my meals…when “Pizza!” interrupted my day dream of rotisserie chicken and garlic toast. My kids always want pizza. The funny thing is that, I think I’ve mentioned the difficulty that my kids have with pizza – namely the sauce. They all hate marinara sauce! So their ‘pizza’ is really bread with cheese on it which I think is terribly boring. Unless its alfredo pizza. I like alfredo, but I also like to have a variation every now and again. I found this white pizza sauce recipe and it was a big hit. It’s also fast and easy (just how I like it) and helped me ease back into the fact that I am still the one responsible for cooking in my own home. Sigh.

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Crust:

4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

4 Tbsp oil

2 cups water

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp yeast

Mix sugar and 1 cup hot water; add yeast and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients. Add final cup of water (you may not need the whole cup) and mix until dough forms a ball (should be sticky – not too dense). Cover and let dough rise until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise a second time. Roll out on floured surface, then form pizza rounds. Tip: cover baking surface with corn meal to prevent sticking. Cover with sauce and cheese (can add other toppings like grilled chicken, etc). Bake at 400^F for 20 min, or until cheese is melted and crust is cooked through. Yield: 2 pizzas

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Sauce:

2 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp basil, minced

1/2 cup pizza blend cheese (pre-grated mix)

Heat butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add milk. Stir in remaining ingredients, except cheese, and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.

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Curly Parmesan Cheese Potatoes

22 Aug

My oldest started first grade today. She put on a brave face, but I know she was nervous! I’ve lost my little helper too – I may never get to shower again (someone needs to explain to my baby that five minutes is not a nap). I don’t have anyone to talk to him while I steal a few minutes! The other two girls aren’t quite as helpful. They sure try to be, but he sees them coming and starts to cry in anticipation of their loving affection. 🙂 Who’s idea was it to educate our children anyway?!! Alright, I guess that’s the over-protective, one-kid-lonelier mommy in me talking. I’m excited for her to come home and tell me all about her first day!

Since, against my will and despite my best efforts, my kids are growing up, I’m posting a grown-up version of french fries. They are baked, so maybe just a little better for you. 😉 Fancy taste, fancy presentation, and with only four ingredients…works for me.

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Ingredients:

4 medium baking potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1 garlic clove, pressed

1/3 cup grated, fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400^F. Peel, core, and slice potatoes to create long spirals (can do regular fry cuts if you don’t have a spiral corer). Place in baking dish. Melt butter with garlic in a small saucepan over low heat. Drizzle over potatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 35-45 min or until potatoes are tender and lightly browned.

 

Belgian Waffles

20 Aug

Sick of breakfast stuff yet? Me neither!!! 🙂 In my opinion, the two meals that matter most are breakfast and dessert. I love them both equally. Waffles top my list, so long as they are good waffles. I can do pancakes from a mix, but not waffles. They are dry and stick in your throat, so they are no good unless you have a tall glass of milk right next to your plate. You should never have to wash your food down in order to literally get it to go down. I love, love these Belgian waffles! The egg whites make them so light, and I love that you use the egg yolks too; I don’t get that guilty feeling that comes from throwing away perfectly good yolks, like some poor chicken sacrificed itself for no good reason (ok, I know most eggs are not fertilized…but guilt does funny things to your rationale). I’m usually the one on waffle-iron duty, so, in theory, I should be the last one to eat – but I don’t like to wait. Waffles are best fresh out of the cooker, and these are good enough to eat plain, so I just eat as I go. 🙂 Feel free to dress them up and drench them in syrup too. But be prepared to eat plenty!!!

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Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

3 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 egg yolks, beaten

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups milk

3 egg whites, beaten stiff

Measure dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Blend. Combine egg yolks and milk, stir into dry ingredients. Stir in oil. Carefully fold in egg whites. Do not over mix. Pour approximately 2/3 cup batter onto preheated griddle. Close and bake.

Lemon Syrup

Cream Cheese Spread

19 Aug

My kids just got a ‘Cooking for Kids’ cookbook. Some of the ‘recipes’ are things like a turkey sandwich (that’s not a recipe!), but there are some good ones in there too. My six year old and I made this cream cheese spread for a Sunday morning treat and I’m excited to stop buying all those expensive  schmear options and start getting creative with our own versions!

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Ingredients:

4 oz cream cheese

3 Tbsp jam (I used strawberry)

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Spread on bagel, toast or crepe – enjoy!

Salsa Crockpot Chicken

17 Aug

How easy is the crockpot? I really don’t know why I don’t use it more than I do. Dump and leave…awesome. This chicken is pretty self explanatory – it is literally chicken and salsa cooked in a crockpot. And it tastes sooooo good! You can add more stuff to make it more of a meal, or just use the chicken in your taquitos, tacos, breakfast burrito, etc. Either way, you can’t ask for a simpler way to get such a tasty result.

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Ingredients:

2 frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2-3 cups salsa

taco seasoning to taste

*Optional add ins:

1 can corn (I prefer frozen corn – about 1 1/2 cups)

1 can black beans

sour cream

shredded cheddar cheese

diced tomatoes

Place frozen chicken, salsa, and taco seasoning in crockpot, making sure chicken is covered. Cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken is very tender and shreds easily. When chicken is fully cooked, shred and and serve or add corn and sour cream, just enough to make it as creamy as you would like. Cook the black beans separate on the stove top until soft, then add them to the mix. Serve burrito style on a tortilla with shredded cheese and tomatoes.

 

Tacos & Taquitos

16 Aug

I learned a couple of things from my dream last night: first, during a zombie apocalypse, people think you have to have guns and chainsaws and baseball bats…not so. Apparently, all that is required is window coverings. Yeah. Blinds, shades…you pick. Just make sure those zombies can’t see into your hugely awesome house at night and you’re good (I always live in the coolest houses in my dreams). Of course, if you have one of those pesky doors with a window taking up half of it, and you only have one of those cheap paper-like shades, don’t let your two-year old sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night because she’ll tear it down in order to draw a mural and expose you to all kinds of unwanted zombie attention. Second, if your sister happens to have been bitten by said zombies (unfortunately, zombie faces are very hard to distinguish so I’m not really sure which sister it was), don’t feel like you shouldn’t visit her every week, like you would an ailing aunt in a rest home. Just because she’s a zombie doesn’t mean you have to avoid her. You may have to stay a safe distance away – like across the street – and settle for a hearty wave instead of a sisterly-hug but, family is family.

Seriously though, If there ever really were a zombie apocalypse, I would have to be sure to have a stash of corn tortillas. Even when I am bare-bones, Old Mother Hubbard, I can always count on dinner of some sorts if I have corn tortillas – namely tacos and taquitos. Taquitos, I just barely figured out the right technique so that the tortillas don’t split before  you fry them, and I’m very excited about it! If I didn’t just run out of my stash of corn tortillas, we may just be having them for dinner every night this week. Better get to the store, just in case of a zombie apocalypse.

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Tacos:

corn tortillas

1 lb ground beef, cooked and seasoned to taste (I am old school and use salt and pepper) 

toppings of choice – cheese, salsa, sour cream, olives, fresh tomatoes, guacamole…etc

In a small pan, pour in a shallow amount of oil and heat. Place a corn tortilla in the oil and fry until edges are brown. Flip the tortilla and brown other side. Remove from oil, form into a taco shape (quickly, before the shell cools and becomes crisp), and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Repeat with remaining tortillas – refill oil as needed, but be sure to not make it too deep. Fill with ground beef and add toppings.

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Taquitos:

corn tortillas

prepared filling – ground or shredded beef, chicken, pork, etc.: Salsa Crockpot Chicken

Fill a pan with about 1″ oil and heat. Place a corn tortilla in the oil, fry until the tortilla floats to the top of the oil (this happens quickly, so don’t allow it to cook too long or it will be too crisp to roll). Remove tortilla from the oil and place on paper towels. Place filling in the center of the tortilla, then roll using tongs as the tortilla will still be hot to the touch. Again using the tongs, pinch the taquito gently, holding the roll in place, and place into the oil, fold-side down. Fry taquito until crisp, then rotate and repeat on all sides until all of it is crisp. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve hot.

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Apple Fritters

13 Aug

Tried these out for breakfast the other morning – yum! I was expecting them to be like the bear claw donuts…apparently I’m not so ‘in the know’ when it comes to fritters. They are like little, deep fried muffins (and who can go wrong with deep fried?). They have a nice crunch to the outside, which compliments the soft inside ever so nicely. These are done in a couple minutes – and that’s including mixing up your batter. I love fast. Drizzle them with icing while their still hot and eat away.

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Ingredients:

Fritter –

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup milk

1 egg

1 cup chopped apple

Glaze –

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp milk

Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir in milk and egg. Fold in apples. Heat oil in a skillet – about 1 1/2″ deep. Carefully add dough in heaping tablespoons. Cook until brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes until both sides are browned. Transfer to paper towels to absorb excess oil. Make glaze by mixing powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over fritters.

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Teriyaki Stir Fry

12 Aug

I am convinced: head colds are of the Devil. Seriously. You feel so terrible that you don’t want to function, and yet not quite terrible enough to justify it. So, you just end up plodding through your day, grumping and growling and blowing your poor, red nose and coughing pitifully. Not cool. And not conducive to creative cooking. It’s really kind of awesome that there are recipes that don’t require much brain power just in case those nasty head colds strike – they don’t require too much prep, but they taste and look like they did. Huzzah. I would add an exclamation mark at the end of that ‘huzzah,’ but I just don’t have the energy. Sniff, cough, cough. The Devil made me do it.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp oil

1 lb chicken or beef, cubed

vegetables of choice – I am lazy and usually use frozen mixed vegetables, and frozen sweet corn; this time we had some fresh peas from the garden!

In a small bowl, whisk together teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and vinegar. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 Tbsp water and stir into the sauce mixture; set aside. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil and stir fry chicken until cooked through. Add vegetables and cook about 2 minutes more until vegetables soften. Add sauce to wok and stir until sauce is thickened. Serve over rice.

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