Sunday, September 21, 2008

Soyaki Chicken

We marinade chicken breasts in Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce. Then grill them. Then cut them up into strips. I read online that there is a product called Soy-vey, if you can't find Trader Joe's. We also used to make our own marinade, consisting of teriyaki sauce and ginger and it was yummy, but not as good as the TJ's stuff.

I serve this with a plate of mixed stir fry type vegetables (carrots, water chestnuts, onions, sugar snap peas, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini) that we cook using this grill wok thing we have (basically a big basket to cook all the vegetables on the grill), and rice. I'm going to try Amanda's fried rice with it.

Alfredo sauce

1-2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
2 cups of milk
2T flour
shredded parmesean cheese (or mixture of cheeses)

Melt enough butter to coat the bottom of a medium sized saucepan. Add the minced garlic, sauté until fragrant (don't let them burn!). If you like garlic, add a few cloves, if not, then maybe just one. Add the heavy whipping cream and the milk. Let them warm up. Stir in the flour. Keep stirring it. Keep stirring it. Don't let it settle at the bottom. Keep stirring it.

OK, I know some people start out with an actual roux for this (mixing the butter and the garlic) and I've tried that and it just makes this really lumpy. For some reason, adding the flour after the dairy has worked for me. I went through a thousand batches of inedible alfredo before I finally got it (this was back in Massachusetts when I had nothing better to do than cook anyway).

When it gets frothy (it will get frothy on the heat) move it and dump in some of the cheese and stir it back in, putting it back on the heat again to get it bubbling, then off the heat when it gets too bubly). I use this four cheese blend (in the little plastic containers near the deli) that is delish. I use most of the cheese in the container when I make alfredo.

Serve this over anything. Toast, even. It is soooo good (but not really good for you). Liz will eat it better if it's on the ring shaped pastas or medium shells than on long noodles.

Alternates: add some chunks of ham to make it carbonara; mix it up with some spaghetti sauce for a creamy, zingy sauce.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Emeril-ish Chex Mix

Not dinner food, but yummy all the same

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons Modified Baby Bam (ingredients below)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
5 cups of mixed types of Chex-like cereal (I like rice and wheat)
1 package (1 of the inside plastic wrapped packages) of Rye Melba Toast
Goldfish, pretzels, cheez-its, whatever else you have on hand

Turn on oven to 250 degrees.

Place the butter in a large baking dish or roasting pan and put in the oven to melt.

Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and add the Worcestershire sauce, Modified Baby Bam, seasoned salt and garlic powder. Stir well to combine.

Add the remaining ingredients and gently toss with a large wooden spoon to coat evenly. I take the plastic bag of the Melba Toast and kind of break them up while they're in the bag--not to crumbs, but to bite-size pieces, then I open the bag and dump them in with the Chex. These are really good with the buttery spices soaked into them.

Return the baking dish to the oven and bake about 1 hour, until crisp and golden brown, removing from the oven every 15 minutes to stir.

Baby Bam is an Emeril Trademark thing. I have modified it somewhat so it's like this:
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery salt

I store this in a little plastic container and I use it to spice my pumpkin seeds when I bake them, too.

Best Damn Cookies Ever!

Who knew an oatmeal raisin cookie could be more desireable then chocolate chip...but this recipe does me in...

½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg - beaten
1¼ cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup raisins
(My son hates raisins so I cook one sheet without then put the ½ cup in after. I have some dried blueberries from Costco I want to try...but I'm too afraid to do it...I'll eat the whole batch.)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream together butter and sugars till fluffy and then mix in beaten egg.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Drop on ungreased cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper) allowing 1 inch space between cookies.
Bake in oven 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.
Yes...I'm that lame...I took a photo since I just happened to have some baked!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lazy Eileen's Casserole

Rita told me I haven't posted anything on her dinner blog and I explained to her, I don't really DO recipes.

Seriously, I was asked to bring in our family's favorite recipe for school to post on the board and I sent in this:

1 box of shake and bake
a package of pork chops
a container of Bob Evans ready to serve mashed potatoes
head of broccoli

Open pork chops. Put in shake and bake bag. Pour in shake and bake topping.
Put in a casserole and BAKE for 35 minutes in a 425 degree oven.
Set table
Wash Broccoli.
Heat broccoli in microwave. heat potatos.

HOller at family that dinner is ready.

THAT is the kind of meals we have at our house. some kind of a meat, a fresh vegetable I nuke in the microwave..and either some pillsbury rolls, a loaf of bread, or those mashed potatos you get in the cheese section of the grocery store.

Sometimes I get a little wild and we will substitute....Egg Noodles for the potatos and my family thinks I'm the bomb.

BUT...BUT...I do have a casserole that my family loves. I think its okay - its certainly not UNCOMMON. YOu might know it as Tater Tot casserole. I call it Lazy Eileen's Casserole.

Here ya go:

1 Bag of Ore Ida Tater Tots (Yes, you MUST use this brand - they have a special seasoning and crunch up nicely
1 Pound of Ground Meat (I use could do beef)
1 Can of Cream of _______ Soup. You pick your type...broccoli, mushroom, chicken
A little evaporated milk (don't use the sweetened kind..did that once YUCK)

Cook your meat and drain it.
Put PAM or some kind of nonstick on your casserole dish.
Dump the meat in the dish.
Dump the cream of ____ soup in the dish, add some evaporated milk.
No, I don't know how much to add...make it soupyish.
Dump the tater tots and stir it up some more.
Dribble some more milk on the tater tots, but not all of it.
Add a lid
Put in 425 degree oven for 35 minutes. Check it to see if it is bubbling yet. Keep checking until it starts bubbling. Remove lid for 10 minutes to brown up the tater tots.

Serve with a smile.
Feed 4 with lunch leftovers for the next day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quick Chicken and Dumplings

2 baked and pulled chicken breasts (or if you're feeling really lazy, a pulled apart rotisserie chicken from the deli)

1 can of biscuits (I get the storebrand kind.)

1 can cream of chicken soup

Combine soup and three cans of water in pot (I often make this in the crock pot early in the day. The flavors really meld well and the sauce gets nice and thick.) Add chicken. Tear each biscuit into quarters and toss into the liquid.

On crock pot, keep it on lowest setting for no more than four or five hours. On stove top, boil 10 minutes then reduce to warm for as long as wanted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Breakfast Casserole

1 pound Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage
1 c. cheddar cheese
2 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. Bisquick
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 eggs

Brown sausage and cool. Mix all ingredients in bowl and then refrigerate overnight. The next morning, pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. This is nice for company or holiday mornings.

Fried Rice (Amanda)

2 cups rice (cooked)
assorted veggies cut up (I use shredded carrots, diced onion, zucchini, bean sprouts, and a handful of assorted frozen veggies--that big Costco organic bag)
2 eggs
soy sauce

In a hot wok, saute the veggies in a bit of olive oil or butter.
When the veggies are a bit tender, toss in the two eggs to scramble up with the veggies.
Add the rice.
Drizzle all with soy sauce to taste.
Let is sit on warm for a few minutes.

I serve this as a vegetarian meal, but you could add thinly sliced beef, shrimp, chicken, or pork, just as you'd find on a restaurant menu.

Easy Pasta Salad

Box and a half of Rainbow Rotini
package of Zesty Italian powdered salad dressing (you will need vinegar)
8 oz cheddar cheese
1/4 large onion (sliced)
1 large cucumber
sliced olives

Boil the Rotini, drain and rinse with cold water until they're chilled. Dump into a large bowl

Prepare the salad dressing according to packet directions and pour over noodles.

Cut up the cheese and the vegetables and put into the bowl (I slice the cucumbers, then cut the slices in quarters; I do the same with the onion).

You can add red peppers, or celery, or carrot shavings or pepperoni, or whatever else you like or happen to have on hand. I make such a big container of it because Mike and the kids love to take it for lunch the next day. I usually serve this as a side with hot dogs or sandwiches for dinner.

Sloppy Joes

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
dash Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or Frank's Red Hot
10 to 12 hamburger buns, split and toasted

In a large skillet, cook ground beef, onion, and celery until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain off excess fat.

Stir in tomato sauce, seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, pepper, and Tabasco sauce.

Simmer, uncovered, until mixture reduces to desired consistency, about 25 to 35 minutes. Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of ground beef mixture into each bun.

I serve with cheddar cheese and slices of tomato on top.

Makes about 10 to 12 sandwiches.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Comfort food chicken and rice

Yes, this features the dread "cream-of" soups, but it's easy and good and kids love it. It was one of my favorite things for my mom to cook when I was growing up, and now my kids request it. This is a great dish to pop in the oven and walk away from on a busy evening. Goes great with broccoli and cheese.

1 lb (or so) chicken parts (boneless or bone-in both work)
1 1/2 cups rice*
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375. In a large rectangular baking dish, spread uncooked rice evenly to cover the bottom (you can add more rice to make more, just remember to add a little extra water or broth if you have some). Blend soups, water, and salt and pepper, and pour about half over the rice. Stir to make sure all of rice is coated in liquid. Arrange chicken pieces on top and cover with remaining soup mixture . Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes (if you use boneless chicken pieces and white rice, you may be able to cut this to 30 minutes). Uncover and bake another 15 minutes or until most liquid has been absorbed.

*I prefer to use brown rice whenever possible, and it will work for this if you add about 1/2 a cup of additional water to the soup mixture and cook for the full time.

Pretty and delicious green bean side dish

This has been my favorite side dish this summer. It's pretty, colorful, and delicious. Thanks to frozen beans and year-round availability of grape tomatoes, you can make it year round.

1 bag frozen whole green beans, steam-in-the-bag variety
about 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Italian dressing or vinaigrette (I love the new Kraft Tuscan Italian)
Finely minced garlic or thinly sliced purple onion, optional

Steam beans in microwave according to directions. Place in a wide, shallow bowl, and top with halved tomatoes (and garlic/onions if using). Add a little dressing, just enough to coat, and toss. Add more dressing as needed. Best if allowed to sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.

Mock Caesar Salad

A whole lot of lettuce (I prefer baby greens and some romaine)
1 egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-2 large tomatoes
1/2 cup light oil (canola)
1 clove garlic
1 can of flat anchovies
parmesan cheese (I get the shredded by the deli)
croutons (boxed is fine)

This is not a traditional caesar salad, but it's close enough and really yummy.

smash up the clove of garlic and let it sit in the light oil

in a big bowl, mix up the greens, chop up the tomatoes, and dump in the can of anchovies. I use kitchen shears to cut up the little fishies. You can skip the anchovies if you must, but I love them.

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and egg. Whisk it up and pour it over the salad. Then add the oil, careful to not get the garlic in. Toss the salad, serve with croutons and parmesan cheese.

Breakfast Burritos

Medium size tortillas
breakfast meats (bacon, sausage)
shredded cheese
hash browns of some sort (I actually use Crispy Crowns)

I make these in bulk to freeze and then we wrap them in a paper towel and microwave them for lunches.

Each burrito contains a little more than 1 egg (I can get ten burritos from a dozen eggs). I scramble them in the pan and then dump them in a big bowl for the assembly line.

I cook the Crispy Crowns and the bacon in the oven. The Crispy Crowns on a baking sheet and the bacon in a broiler pan to let the grease drip off. Sausage is good, too, but I don't like sausage, so I tend not to use it.

Then just put whatever you want in the tortilla--eggs, cheese, potatoes, Crispy Crowns, bacon, onions, mushrooms, whatever!--wrap it up tightly and then wrap it in aluminum foil.

Alex likes his with just egg and cheese, so I make a bunch with just that, but everyone else likes everything in them. You can serve them with a side of salsa to dip it in as you eat.

Guacamole (Rita)

My guacamole is very plain, because that's the way the kids like it.

garlic powder
lemon juice
Worcestershire sauce

Mash up the avocado, sprinkle a dash or garlic powder (I used to use minced fresh garlic, but, frankly, it takes too long and I like my guac in a hurry), a dash or lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and then just a little bit of mayo to extend it some.

Tacos by Rita

Boring, I know, but everyone does tacos differently.

We use the Stand-N-Stuff kit by Old El Paso, cooking according to the box directions.

But, Alex is a big fan of the double wrap tacos, so we also have flour soft taco tortillas available. He uses one soft taco tortilla, smears refried beans (from a can) on it, then secures the hard taco shell inside it and fills it with beef, rice, sour cream, cheese, salsa, whatever.

It's nice to have the hard and soft shells available, for variety, and it's also great for leftovers.  I generally end up making quesadillas the next day--putting the refried beans, or any left over taco beef, and rice and cheese between the tortillas and heating them in a pan.  Then I serve them with sour cream, salsa and  guacamole on the side.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Italian Pork Chops

As I begin to prep this for tonight's dinner, I figured I'd come share it here.

This is super easy -- just have to plan ahead because it's in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours.

~ 1 pound breakfast pork chops (thin sliced, boneless)
~ 4-5 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I'm a big potato fan, so others might like fewer
1 bottle Italian dressing (I use store brand fat free)

In a casserole dish, place the pork chops. Add the cubed potatoes on top. Pour the bottle of dressing over the mixture. Cook at 425 until potatoes are tender -- most of the dressing will be absorbed by then. (Takes about an hour and a half)

I serve it with a green salad and garlic bread.

Ravioli and/or Tortellini in Broth

This looks fancy, tastes delicious, is super-easy to make, and is one of few things I've found that will impress kids and company alike. Get different fillings in the pasta, and avoid using all cheese filled because they will not have as much flavor. We love the Italian sausage, chicken with proscuitto, and spinach-filled ones. Whether I get ravioli or tortellini depends on what is available at my unreliable grocery store, or what's on sale. I serve it with *knotted rolls.

This recipe can also be increased as much as you want if you need to serve a lot of people by adding a regular-sized can of broth and another package of pasta for every 2-3 additional people. The basic recipe serves 4-6, depending on their appetites.

3 pkgs refrigerated ravioli or tortellini (like DiGiorno or Barilla)
1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 box or large can chicken broth (low sodium or fat free works fine) or aprox 4 cups homemade broth
1 cup water
1 pkg sliced fresh mushrooms
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil

In the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sautee the sliced mushrooms (you can chop them up smaller if you prefer) for 2 to 3 minutes or until they soften. Add minced garlic and sautee for about a minute (never brown garlic--it becomes bitter). Add broth all at once, along with tomatoes and their liquid and the water. Season with salt and pepper. When broth mixture comes to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions (usually about 7 minutes). That's it! You can add some fresh basil or something if you want, but if you've chosen your pasta well, it should be flavorful without heavy seasoning.

*Knotted rolls:

1 can refrigerated flaky layers biscuit dough (it's very important to get the flaky layers and not any other kind), like Hungry Jack

Heat oven to temperature on package. Take each individual biscuit and roll it between your hands like you're making a play-dough snake, until it's a little wider than your palms. Tie in a knot (it should be just long enough to tie with no long ends hanging out). Bake on a lightly greased or sprayed cookie sheet or stone until golden (it may take a little longer than the package says). Brush finished rolls with melted butter or garlic butter, sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired. Yummy!

Sassy's Famous All-Purpose Burrito Filling

This recipe can be varied quite a bit by using cut-up boneless chicken in place of the ground beef or turkey, substituting black beans, etc. I usually do black beans if I use chicken, and chili beans with ground meat. You can also use petite diced tomatoes without the chiles if you prefer. Also, even if you think you don't like brown rice, I've been told you can't tell the difference in this recipe and it really is so much healthier. The texture holds up better than white rice will in this recipe.

1 cup brown rice
1 to 1.5 lbs ground beef or turkey
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles (like Rotel)
1 can chili beans or ranch-style beans

Large flour tortillas
Shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, etc. for garnish

Start rice cooking with 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
In a large, deep skillet that has a lid, brown meat and drain fat if needed. Add tomatoes w/ chiles and beans to meat without draining (unless you use beans packed in unseasoned liquid instead of the chili beans). Stir and season as desired with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, etc. (If you're not good with spice amounts, start with 1/2 tsp of each and then add a little more if needed.) Simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is at least half-way cooked (about 15 minutes). Dump rice with its remaining water in with meat mixture, stir, and cover. Simmer another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender. Serve wrapped in tortillas or over crushed tortilla chips or in a "taco" salad. This recipe makes a ton, too, so it's great for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Make Your Own Pizzas

Boboli or other individual size pizza crusts
1 Can of store-bought pizza sauce (I like our store brand, it doesn't have any added sweeteners)
pizza cheese (I buy the bag of mixed cheeses)

I brush a little bit of olive oil onto the crusts, then everyone just adds their own stuff how they like it. I serve with salad. Little kids love doing this.

Microwave Meatloaf

about a pound of ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (soup can size) tomato sauce
1 egg
about a cup or so of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
drizzle of red wine

Mix all that up in a big mixing bowl (yuck, I know), then arrange it in a big ring on a plate (leaving a large donut hole in the middle), nuke the heck out of it--like 10 minutes.

I've done meatloafs where you bake them in the oven and seriously, this one turns out just as well, or maybe even a little better because it doesn't get dried out.  It may not be quite as pretty as an oven-baked meatloaf, but it takes just a fraction of the time.

I love America, so I serve it with a side of home-made mashed potatoes and that bag of mixed vegetables you get in the frozen section (peas, corn, cubed carrots, green beans). 

My Favorite Vinagrette

1 clove minced garlic
a couple tablespoons of light oil (I use canola)
a drizzle of malt vinegar
a drizzle of lemon juice
a drizzle of soy sauce

This is one where you kind of just have to add things in small amounts, then shake it up and taste it.  But, it's very salty and the malt vinegar adds a lot of depth.  Then I pour it all, garlic bits and everything onto my salad (I love it on baby greens or spring greens--the softer lettuces).  It's very sharp with the garlic, so if you're not a fan of the fresh garlic then you probably wouldn't like this dressing.

Pepperoni Rolls

Frozen Texas Rolls (I buy Rhodes brand)

Thaw the rolls according to bag instructions.  I use one roll for two pepperoni rolls.  You have to set them out on a plate under plastic wrap to thaw for a bunch of hours.  I usually do 7 (which makes 14 pepperoni rolls).

After they've thawed (and are big and poofy and look really cool), resist the urge to pop them, and cut them in half.  Plop pepperoni slices in each roll (I usually use 3 per roll), then roll them up gently and put them on a baking sheet.  Bake according to bag instructions (like 350 degrees) until they are golden brown.

You can add cheese if you want, but it makes the pan clean-up a lot harder and in my opinion, not worth it.  The kids love these left over, either warmed in the microwave or cold.

Spaghetti Sauce

3 large cans of whole peeled tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
fresh basil
dried Italian seasonings
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup red wine
drizzle of olive oil

cover bottom of large cooking pot with olive oil
add onion and garlic, heat until fragrant (don't burn the garlic!)

put 1/3 of the little can of tomato paste, 1 can of tomatoes, bunch of the basil and a shake of the Italian seasoning into the blender--pulse/liquify until it's not chunky anymore, pour it into the cooking pot.  Repeat twice more with another 1/3 of the tomato paste, can of tomatoes, basil and Italian seasoning.

Add the red wine (should be wine you would drink, good quality wine--I buy the 4 packs of little bottles to use for cooking because we're not big drinkers here).

Let the sauce simmer (covered) for about an hour.  This makes a giant vat of sauce.  I freeze it into smaller containers (I get 4 dinners with leftovers for lunches out of this).  There's nothing easier than popping a tub of frozen sauce into a pan to heat up, boiling some noodles and tossing a salad together for a last-minute meal.

I use this sauce for spaghetti, on top of store-bought ravioli or tortellini, and in lasagna.  

I serve it with store-bought garlic bread or  pepperoni rolls and salad. 

Headache Chicken

Alex dubbed this "Headache Chicken" because it seems he always coincidentally had a headache whenever I made it.

1-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
drizzle olive oil 
little bit of butter
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1T dried Tarragon leaves
1T dried Thyme
1T Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup sour cream

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil into a skillet, add a little bit of butter (just enough to coat the surface--the olive oil helps keep the butter from burning)

When the skillet is hot, add the chicken breasts.  Let them brown completely on one side before turning (you only want to turn them once, they get this great crispy coating on them that way).

Turn and finish cooking on the other side.

When they are done, remove them from the skillet and put on a plate.

Add the chicken broth (I use Knorr chicken bullion cubes dissolved in water for this).  It will sizzle and there will be steam, stir it up with a whisk.  

Add Tarragon and Thyme and stir with the whisk just a little bit--add more water if it seems like a lot has evaporated.

Add the Dijon and stir it around with a big spoon, then add the sour cream and stir it around.

You can then drizzle the sauce on top of the chicken, or serve it in a separate bowl (I serve it in another bowl and let everyone spoon their own desired amount of sauce on their chicken).

I usually make about 2 pounds so that I have leftovers to send with Mike and Alex for lunch the next day.  The tarragon adds a little sweetness and the sour cream also helps to cut the dijon, so even little kids like this chicken a lot.

I serve it with either stuffing (often from a box) or baked potatoes and salad on the side.