Friday, August 30, 2013

Help! I need my soup/chowder/stew to thicken!

We have all been there. Sometimes all the right thickening agents just don't work.

I wonder sometimes to the science behind this, but then it exhausts me and I just look for a simple solution.

This is a product I keep on hand for the sole purpose of the girl.
When she is sick, I can get her to eat nothing else. Plain. No seasoning or butter.
We all have our comfort items and this is hers.

I saw it...and realized it would be my perfect, simple solution.
The flavor blends with all I would think to use it with.

Have you guessed yet?

It works fantastic!
Thickens the broth just so and adds a potato flavor.
Never will I serve a too thin chowder or stew ever again!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Greek Spinach Feta Burgers with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Adapted from Baked Bree

Yesterday we went to visit my aunt and uncle. They are such fun people, we all get along much more like friends than relatives.

My aunt and I got to discussing some new recipes we have tried as of late. She showed me her nutty bacon thing she plans on making (waiting for her to send me the recipe) and we discussed these burgers that were for dinner last night.

I swear men have such selective hearing. Had we of been talking about anything else, he still would have been glued to the T.V. with my uncle.
This is what he heard "blah blah vegetarian dinner tonight blah blah" and some man alarm went off inside him and he felt the need to step in.

Hubby: What was that you said, we are having burgers made with spinach and feta?
Me: Yup, you heard right
Aunt: You have to send me that recipe, I want to try it. Just me. None of my guys will touch it.
Hubby: And rightfully so, burgers have MEAT...otherwise they are just patties on a bun.
Me: :::sigh::: you like everything that is in them
Hubby: Yeah, but burgers are meat. When do I get to start having a say in this?
Me: When you start doing all the planning, all the cooking, and all the can then do all the deciding.

Needless to say, nothing else was said about it.

We get home, I am making dinner, and very quietly I hear..."hey, something smells really good"

Dinner is now served. Hubby takes one bite and says something like "oh my word, this is really good, in fact, I can't wait until you make them again"

Is this really the same guy I came home with last night?

Happy wife though, he listened to me!

¼ Cup olive oil
1 Clove minced garlic
1 Tsp dried oregano
1 Tsp dried dill
1 Cup herbed stuffing mix
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
½ Cup feta cheese (crumbled)
Salt and Pepper

4 Hamburger buns
1 Red pepper
1 Red onion (sliced thin)
1 Tomato (sliced)

1 Small container plain greek yogurt
1 Small cucumber, chopped finely
1 Minced garlic clove
1 ½ Tsp lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

1. In a large bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, dried herbs, salt, and pepper.
2. Coat the stuffing mix with the olive oil mixture.
3. Add eggs, feta, and spinach
4. Shape into 4 patties
5. Heat a pan to medium high heat. Cook patties  3-4 minutes per side.
6. Combine all ingredients for the yogurt sauce
7. Assemble burgers, topping with your choice of veggies and the yogurt sauce


My "burger" ingredients

For the burger assembly

Cucumber yogurt sauce

Hearty and delicious!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Eggs Baked in Bread Bowls

We rarely do breakfasts. None of us are very hungry in the mornings, and it would just be a waste.
This time around, we had been up late the night before. (I don't know about you, but the later I stay up, the hungrier I am the next morning).
We were also having a HUGE eating a breakfast would simply hold us over until dinner time.

I had found this recipe on the Baked Bree website. Thought it would be something different, a neat twist on eggs and toast.

I had bought some rolls at the store. The recipe calls for whole wheat, but I grabbed some Portugese sweet rolls instead. Personal preference.

I cut the rolls, but decided they should be a little deeper and scooped out the insides. Perfect!

For just the 3 of us, I halved the recipe...and forgot all about the chives.
On mine, I added a little cheese under the egg and also sprinkled some dill. The mix and match possibilities are endless.

Hubby and I are planning a brunch, we both decided this would be a great item to make. Different, easy, an you can make as many at once as your oven will hold!

When I was cooking, I started with the original 10 minutes mentioned.
My whites were still raw, raw, raw.
I put some tin foil over the bread as it was quite crunchy, and cooked for an additional 5 and they were perfectly done.

These were so good! Darling daughter is bummed, she slept right through breakfast and into the lunch time hour. You snooze, you lose!

6 Rolls (unsplit)
6 Eggs
6 Tsp cream
6 Tbsp parmesan cheese
3 Tsp fresh chives, chopped
3 Tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Cut a hole out of each roll, reserving the top
3. Crack an egg into each roll
4. Add a tsp of cream, a tbsp parmesan, ½ tsp chives, and ½ tsp parsley to each.
5. Salt and pepper each egg
6. Bake for 10 minutes.
7. Add bread bowl tops to the oven. Toast for 2 more minutes.



My bread bowls before I scooped out more of the inside.
Note: see three? Before anyone says I starved my girl, notice I had every intention of treating her to breakfast!

The two that were cooked.
Mine is on the left and you can see a bit of the orange from the cheese poking out.
And when the girl child decided to wake...then I made hers!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Plan B

The best laid plans of mice and men....

I do my meal planning weekly. I try to do bi-weekly, but tend to get a little overwhelmed and end up forgetting something...or someone in my house doesn't know what it is for and uses it on me.

We had this incident the other night.
I asked my daughter to grab me the chicken out of the fridge so I could start dinner.

No sooner did she bring it to me, but something seemed off. I opened the pack...GAG!
I checked the date and it was still 3 days before the "sell by" date.
Imagine my (grossed out) disappointment.

Off to the trash it goes, and now what?

Well luckily we keep stuff on hand for "fend nights" I did some digging in the freezer and came up with this.

I paired it with homemade tartar sauce and we were good to go.

Always do I prefer to cook from scratch than to make processed food products, but sometimes you have to just roll with it.

We eat pretty healthy around here, one night didn't hurt, it almost felt like a treat!

As I am typing this, I remember I have new chicken in the fridge. I think I will spend my afternoon cleaning, cutting, and labeling for the freezer. DO NOT want this to happen again.

What are your go-to emergency plan b meals?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chili Pizza

Adapted from McCormick

I have the best neighbors!
We all get a long so well, they are helpful, friendly, everything we could ask for.
(gee, I hope they feel the same!)

The wife came over one day to return a bag full of containers.
(I am constantly leaving little food packages hanging from their door. No complaints yet!)
She was chattier than usual and wanted to discuss movies.

OK, we can do this. The 4 of us talked for a bit, and then I had to break off as I had my ground beef cooking.
She followed me into the kitchen and was watching me mix everything.

She asked what I was making, and seemed interested when I described it to her.

After she left and I finished cooking, I sent her a text with a picture.
Imagine my disappointment when she didn't check her phone until the next day, but oh well!
At least we got to have a new conversation about how well it reheats for lunch.
(The answer is "very well" in case you were wondering!)

1 Lb ground beef
1 Pkg chili seasoning mix
1 Can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes (cut up)
1 Can (14.5 oz) pinto or kidney beans (drained)
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Can (4 oz) black olives
8 Large flour tortillas (burrito sized)

1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Brown ground beef and drain
3 Stir in seasoning mix, tomatoes, and beans; cook 5-10 minutes
4. Arrange tortillas in a circle on a 12 inch pizza pan, overlapping edges
5. Spoon ground beef mixture onto tortillas
6. Top with cheese and olives
7. Bake 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted


Ingredients: Minus the olives...I am anti olive...sorry girl child!

All baked and crispy

Served with sour cream on the side

Friday, August 9, 2013

French Onion Soup Sandwich

If you watch enough Food Network, you will eventually hear all the chefs say "if you want to judge a restaurant's food, order the roasted chicken. If they can do a great roasted chicken, everything else should be great as well".

I offer a differing opinion!
I judge my restaurants based on their French Onion Soup.

If it is watery and bland, to me, they don't care enough about their food to develop the layers of flavor.
If there is barely any onion, what else are they cutting corners on.

If it is rich, warm, lots of onions, lots of gooey melted cheese...I am sold! I will come back, I will tell all my friends to come, I will bring family!

I am disappointed time and time again with restaurants and their soup. Simple solution, I make it at home ALL THE TIME.
Which, in turn, makes me even angrier because I know how simple it is to bring great flavors to a simple soup.

So, when I saw this recipe on the Iowa Girl Eats website, I knew we had to try it.

We used a loaf of Italian bread. Not the pre-sliced kind, the whole loaf sort. I cut the pieces very thick knowing it had to stand up to such a filling.
Even though my onions never stuck to the pan, I still slowly added all of my beef broth for the extra flavor.
One last "adjustment" since I was making this as a last minute lunch, I had no grueyre on hand. I used some swiss hubby had around and it worked just fine.

1 Large sweet yellow onion
1 Tsp butter
1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tsp worcestershire sauce
1 Bay leaf
Pinch of dried thyme
Salt and Pepper
¼- ⅓ Cup beef broth
Sliced hearty bread
Butter for spreading
Fontina, Gruyere, or Swiss cheese

1. Heat butter, olive oil, and worcestershire sauce in a medium skillet over medium heat.
2. Cut onion in half, and then thinly slice each half
3. Separate the onion layers and add to pan
4. Season with salt and pepper, add bay leaf, stir well
5. Continue cooking, stirring every few minutes until onions turn golden brown and start to soften
6. If onion starts to stick, use splashes of beef broth to moisten
7. Cook for about 30 minutes, until onions are deep brown and soft.
8. Butter one side of bread. Place one (butter side down) on griddle or skillet.
9. Layer with cheese and onions.
10. Lay remaining slice of bread on top, butter side up.
11. Cook until both sides are golden brown and cheese has melted


(bought the bread the day before and wanted to keep it from hardening)

Soooo filling! So glad I didn't make soup too!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Easy Chicken Lo Mein

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

My daughter and I love lo mein and get it every time we order Chinese. Picky hubby though, claims he just can't bring himself to try it or even consider the fact that he might like it.

When I found this recipe, darling daughter and I were oh-so-very excited about dinner. We also decided not to tell Dad what was for dinner that night. We he asked, our answer was "chicken". Good enough.

I managed to forget the green onion at the store, and I don't own a wok as is suggested in the recipe. How different could it be though?
We didn't miss the green onion. We like them, we would have loved to have them, but it was good without.

I ended up using my largest pan to make this, and as far as I am concerned, we didn't need a wok.

And...just like Mexican fare....hubby decided he likes it made at home. So, while we will never have a third eater for that leftover Chinese in the fridge, he will eat this every time. WIN!

4 oz dry spaghetti
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ Cup chicken broth
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 Large chicken breast, cut into strips
Salt and Pepper
1 Large carrot, thinly sliced
1 Large celery stalk, thinly sliced
4 oz mushrooms (sliced)
1 Cup broccoli florets
2 Green onions, chopped

1. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, set aside.
2. Combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth, and chili flakes, set aside.
3. Season chicken strips with salt and pepper, set aside
4. Heat pan, add 1 tsp of oil. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink in center. Remove to a plate and set aside.
5. Heat another tsp of oil, add carrots and celery. Cook until slightly tender.
6. Add remaining tsp of oil, then add mushroom, broccoli, and green onion. Cook until vegetables are tender.
7. Add cooked chicken and noodles. Pour in sauce, mix together well, and serve.


I cheated and used the pre packaged broccoli and carrots
Just also noticed I forgot the celery in this picture...whoops

Probably the only time I ever wished for chopsticks

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mexican Pizza

Hubby has a hate/hate relationship with refried beans. Not sure where it came from, or how to get him over it.
Anytime I make something that has beans in it, I have to omit it for him. Ah the sacrifices we make for those we love!

This recipe is for 1 pizza. Naturally, for my family of 3, I tripled it.
Please make your own judgement about what your family will eat. Darling daughter managed to eat all of hers...but hubby only ate half of his, and I ate about 1/3 of mine.
(Note: this reheats deliciously for lunch the next day)

The article this came from, compared this to "a certain fast food chain", but homemade is always waaay better!

2 Medium flour tortillas
½ Cup oil
¼ Cup refried beans
¼ Cup cheddar cheese
¼ Cup ground beef or shredded chicken (seasoned and cooked)
1 Tbsp green onion (chopped)
2 Tbsp taco sauce
⅛ Cup tomato (seeded and diced)
Dollop of sour cream

1. Heat oil in a small frying pan. Fry tortillas one at a time until golden and crispy. Drain.
2. Warm the beans and meat together in a pan over low heat. (If you are using canned beans, you may want to thin them out with a spoonful of water)
3. Spread meat/beans mixture on top of one of the tortillas, top with remaining tortilla
4. Spread taco sauce on top of filled tortilla.
5. Add cheddar and heat under a broiler until cheese is melted
6. Sprinkle green onion, tomato, and sour cream on top.

Ingredients: Maybe a smaller tortilla would have made for meals we could finish

Everything all put together

I peeled mine open to show off the inside goodness

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chicken Rojo

Darling daughter and I are in love with Mexican food. Hubby dearest, well, he isn't.
What is really funny though, is that if I make it at home, he gobbles it up!

I should take that as a compliment, but I just find it odd. It cuts down on our "trying to keep the cost down while eating out" options.

I am pretty OK making the basics, fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas...but I decided to search online and find some recipes that are a little more "authentic". I came across this one and thought it sounded easy enough to try.

We all found it very good! The heat was there, but wasn't too much for someone like me. I kept the sauce just a little juicier so I could serve it over rice and have that soak up the flavor too.

3-5 Chicken breasts
6 Tomatoes, large
½ of an onion, cut into quarters
3 Tbsp of oil
2 Cups chicken broth mixed with 2 Cups water
1 Tsp oregano
½ Tsp cumin
1 Tsp garlic, peeled and crushed
½ Tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp red chile powder
Salt to taste

1. Preheat broiler to high
2. Heat one tbsp oil in large pan over high heat
3. Brown chicken pieces on each side.
4. Cover chicken with broth and bring to a boil.
5. Slice the top off each tomato and place cut side down on a cookie sheet along with the onions.
6. Drizzle 2 tbsp of oil over tomato and onion
7. Place under broiler and remove when tomato skins become very wrinkled and shriveled
8. Add in chili powder,cumin, oregano, garlic, and cocoa to chicken
9. When tomato is finished, cook for 1 minute, and peel. Use a spoon to remove the seeds.
10. Mash tomato and add into chicken sauce. Separate onion quarters and stir into the sauce.
11. Let sauce reduce while chicken finishes cooking



Once this finishes reducing, I served it over rice.