I am currently blogging about everything. Jump in where you are and thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

3 Nights, 3 menus

Meatless Monday: I made pressure cooker black beans with onions, sweet peppers, and garlic, just pressure cooked them all together (with water) for 20 minutes, meanwhile preparing yellow rice with tomatoes and carrots, then a side of steamed yellow squash seasoned with adobo. Served each plate with a simple green salad and a sprinkle of cheese over the beans and rice.

Tuesday: Hamburger patties (seasoned with salt, pepper, chopped onion and worcestershire sauce) cooked in my grill pan, microwaved baked potatoes and steamed cauliflower. It was a HUGE cauliflower and I only lightly steamed it so I have leftovers for tonight's dinner.

Wednesday: Chicken cordon bleu (sorta) made with pounded flat chicken breasts, slices of ham and provolone cheese (I lacked swiss), rolled them up, secured with toothpicks and brushed the tops with beaten egg and topped with bread crumbs, bake for 25-35 minutes at 400 degrees, (depends on size of breasts). Took the leftover cauliflower and broke it into smaller florets, sprayed them with olive oil and sprinkled with salt I put it into the oven with the chicken at the 10 minute mark. They should be done simultaneously. Warmed up yellow squash will be our other side dish.

Still in the midst of moving and various types of chaos (selling a car, buying a car, traveling to various children's birthday parties several miles and counties away). Sorry for the light posts, but hopefully the menus can be at least a little bit of inspiration in the nightly mantra of "What's for dinner?!"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Zucchini Fritters, Meatloaf, Green Bean Casserole

Do you want your kids to eat more green vegetables? Try this recipe for a real treat, they call them Zucchini Patties, but to my mind they cook up more like a nice thick fritter. The recipe here includes 1 C of Bisquick, which is an ingredient I never seem to have on hand, to make up a nice substitute for Bisquick simply mix 1 C of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of either lard or shortening. Any leftover mix must be stored in the fridge (unlike real Bisquick) but it will work just as well, alternatively you can mix up 1 C of self rising flour with the teaspoon of lard, that's basically what it is. I never have self rising flour on hand either!

So you mix up all the ingredients (flour, shredded cheese, egg and 3 whole cups of shredded zucchini!) I added a little water to get a very thick batter and then I shallow fried them in an iron skillet set on medium in about 1/2 an inch of vegetable oil. When I pulled them out of the oil I set them on a plate covered with paper towels to drain and topped them with a tiny sprinkle of coarse sea salt. YUM!!!!

Another place I put unsuspecting fruits and veggies is into meatloaf. I mixed 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef with 1 C of shredded zucchini, 1/2 C of mashed blue berries (I KNOW! but seriously, very good like this) and 1 small onion chopped small. I also added 3 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg (I had some leftover egg yolks to use up normally I use 2 whole eggs) some Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs I made from 2 pieces of sugar-free whole wheat bread. I have also used oatmeal or seasoned bread crumbs in the recipe too.

My green bean casserole recipe is basically a layer of green beans topped with half a can of cream of mushroom soup, handful or two of shredded cheese, some onion rings, and repeat layers till you are out of beans. I bake it in the oven alongside the meatloaf, or throw the whole thing into a slow cooker for 4-6 hours on high.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Last night's dinner: Pressure Cooker to the Rescue

Okay, I think I actually sort of invented a one dish meal for the pressure cooker, GO ME! Here is what I did.

I added 1 C of brown rice to the pressure cooker, 2 C of water, an onion cut in half, some salt and cooked it on high pressure for 10 minutes, when it was done I added 2 semi-frozen chicken breasts, cut into chunks and seasoned with adobo to the pan, put the lid on and cooked it all for another 10 minutes, while that was cooking I chopped some zucchini into nice thick rounds and when 10 minutes was up I stirred up the chicken and rice; added the zucchini, 1 TB of Italian herbs, another 1/4 C of water and cooked it all for 5 more minutes. Semi-frozen chicken (still very firm and cold in the middle) is much easier to chop up into cubes, plus you don't need to take the extra time to defrost it completely before cooking which saves time. The brown rice cooks (in about half the time!) into a creamy texture in my pressure cooker, almost a risotto type consistency without the bother of standing over a pot for 30 minutes stirring and adding ladles full of broth. I think another fun way of making this would be to add a can of chopped Italian style (herbs added) tomatoes in the last 5 minutes of cooking. To serve you could top it with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese or some chopped fresh herbs. Prepared just as it was it was a flavorful, nutritious and very easy dinner. Another bonus of pressure cooking is because it is all one contained unit it does NOT heat up the house the way you do cooking on the stove top or in the oven.

Pressure cookers require some water in order to come up to pressure, which is why I added water every step of the way, your pressure cooker may require more or less liquid in order to cook, please consult your manual before attempting my recipe.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Last Night's Dinner: Fajitas over salad greens

I sliced some beef into thin strips, seasoned them all over with adobo and cumin and placed them in a medium hot pan, lubed with a little olive oil. You must not have meat on top of any other meat, otherwise it will not brown correctly. Then as the beef cooked I quickly sliced up some sweet yellow, red and orange peppers and one onion; all into nice thin uniform strips. I seasoned the veggies and added them to the pan. Don't stir too much, but keep an eye, when some of the peppers get a good sear going, stir them so that others get to be on the bottom too. I turned the heat up to high for the last minute or so of cooking and added 1 cup of frozen corn stirred in well. Lastly I splashed some worcestershire sauce over the whole business and then turned the heat off. I served the fajitas over dressed salad greens (I used a honey balsamic dressing on torn up hearts of romaine) and topped everything with a sprinkle of cheese. If you have thawed beef ready to go this dinner can be on your table in 20 minutes! Fast and easy and pretty darn nutritious, check out all the veggies you're eating! In fact by subbing some cooked black beans for the meat, cooking the peppers and onions first, adding the beans and corn last, you could make some incredibly good vegetarian fajitas!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July Dinner and Tonight's Menu

The 4th was a day of extremes here, high heat, high humidity and high excitement. We went to our local parade and saw some of our friends in the parade and sat with other friends on the roadside waving and chatting. The weather looked iffy so we scrapped our plans for the beach and headed home for a quiet celebration. We cooked out ribs, basically my husband gets the coals ready while I coat the ribs (either short spare ribs or babybacks) all over with a patented super secret rib rub that my Father in Law created. For your purposes (since I'd be cashiered out of the family for telling) I'd use Alton Brown's rib rub recipe, it is excellent. The ribs get put on and cook for 15 minutes before being turned and basted with mojo crillado. Then he comes back inside out of the INCREDIBLY MOIST HEAT until his watch timer goes off and then he's back out turning and basting and this goes on for about 3 -4 hours. Needless to say the secret to great barbecue is LOW and SLOW, meaning low heat and takes a looong time. The meat will be so tender you won't believe you didn't boil them first (a common recipe component for ribs). These ribs will be juicy, flavorful, and tender, but only if you cook them low and slow.

Our side dishes were corn off the cob, green salad, ice cold watermelon, Bakerella's Cake Balls. Our dessert was supposed to be this amazing bundt cake from "Cooking with Sugar" but as I was turning the cake out of the pan and onto the cake plate it broke into many, many red, white and blue pieces. I literally cried and then googled "what can I do with broken cake". It all turned out. It always does, and if I hadn't been so needlessly upset with myself I would have remembered there are a MILLION things you can do with broken cake, not the least of which is just slap some ice cream on top and call it a sundae! Then you could make trifle (layers of cake, pudding, fruit and all topped with shipped cream). You can just saw off the broken top with a serrated bread knife and frost the remaining cake. If it isn't broken too badly you can "paste" the cake back together with extra frosting and then frost the outside. You can cut the broken cake with cookie cutters and frost them individually to make "baby cakes", I mean there is a whole world out there and it is useless (and let's face it a little petulant) to cry over spilt cake.

But I was under a lot of stress you see, because the day before I had found out that we are indeed MOVING HOUSE this month. This will be our 5th move in about 6 years and I am a little bit stressed out. We don't intend to be moving this much, but unfortunately my husband's job keeps placing him at other branches where it is juuuuuuust too far to drive, so then we move again. I'm glad they like him so much (I really am!) but this moving is stressful, expensive and worst of all dusty! My allergies have kicked into high gear!

Our new house is super cute though and has a much better kitchen than this one. I promise to keep cooking, but I have to tell you posting may be sort of light for a month. I may just post what I made for dinner and not explain much, but I promise to check in when I can. Wish me luck y'all!

Tonight's dinner: Pressure cooker beef stew, you can find the recipe on the blog; I make it all the time.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Last night's dinner and how to grill corn on the cob

We have some more chicken and corn to make, but this time we are doing a different marinade on it (BBQ rub and olive oil) and instead of steaming the corn we are grilling the whole cobs. To make grilled corn on the cob, remove the husk and silk, rinse and remove any additional silk from the ears. Soak the corn in water for 15 minutes, making sure cobs are completely covered. Remove cobs from the pot and shake off any excess water, brush ears with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in aluminum foil. Place the wrapped cobs on the grill and turn frequently allowing the cobs to be over direct heat for about 5 minutes. Then remove cobs to an indirect heat source (or cooler edge of the grill, cover and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes, when an individual kernel pierces easily the cobs are done. Serve with a light coating of butter and enjoy! We are also making s'mores over the grille for dessert, a s'more (for those who may not know) is a lightly toasted marshmallow, placed on a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate and then topped with another graham cracker. I remember having them for the first time as a Girl Scout (I had only ever had toasted marshmallows before) and it was a revelation to me. I literally thought it was the best dessert ever!

Last night's dinner was pizza, delicious veggie topped pizza. A tip on covering your pizza with veggies, pre-cook them in a separate pan. The veggies (especially mushrooms!) give off a ton of water as they cook and can make your pizza unappetizingly soggy. Also, chopping those veggies into small pieces makes them more easily eaten, larger pieces tend to slide off the slice. Broccoli can be lightly steamed and then chopped small to make a delicious pizza topping, especially on a white pizza. Another great pizza variation is to try a roasted bell pepper sauce instead of the usual tomato sauce on top of the pizza, yummy and fairly easy to do. Simply blacken a red bell pepper under the broiler of an oven, over the open flame of a gas burner, or on an outdoor grill, cover it with wax paper (loosely) after grilling and then remove the blackened outer skin, and seeds, Chop the pepper into rough pieces, throw it into the blender with salt, pepper, roasted garlic and sauteed onion and hit mix to combine, slowly drizzle in some olive oil (as if you were making an emulsion) and use in place of tomato sauce on pasta, on pizzas or even in lasagna!