Monday, September 27, 2010

In a Hurry, Chicken Curry

Okay, lame name, I know!
I haven't cooked anything lately.  Leftovers, sandwiches, and basic easy meals have been the fare.  So tonight I wanted something different, but not a long cooking process.  I went to my YGS favorites recipe list and found a chicken curry recipe that I altered for myself.   I used one large chicken breast, a small onion, half the garlic, and fresh tomatoes.  I normally use the canned ones, like the recipe calls for, but I had a couple tomatoes getting old.  I just used one large tomato, diced.  This called for dredging and frying the chicken beforehand.  But I like to forgo frying, especially when the meat will be cooking in a savory liquid.  I followed the directions for sweating the garlic and onions, added the curry, and then the diced tomatoes (and a little water). I let the tomatoes cook for about 5 minutes, covered, then added the chicken in bite size pieces.  Cover on and simmer for 15 minutes, then uncovered for 5 more.  Pour into bowl and enjoy!!! 
If I could let everything simmer in the oven for an hour, I would add some potatoes and carrots to the mixture.  If you don't love a strong curry flavor the best way to dial it down is to add some Greek yogurt, to add a cooling creaminess.  I want to try making naan soon, but I just ate it with a Flatout Wrap.  Great thick flavorful wrap.  (I know Walmart sells fresh made naan, if I knew I was doing curry tonight I would have grabbed some on my way home.) 
स्वादिष्ट  or  Svādiṣṭa 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Product Review: Kraft HomeStyle Deluxe Classic Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

I'm not one for buying a lot of pre-packaged meals, but I like to have a couple on hand.  I had a coupon for Kraft's new HomeStyle Macaroni and Cheese, for $1 I thought I could try it.  I thought it was definitely closer to homemade than the boxes, much creamier.  I topped it with a half cup of shredded sharp cheese, and the included bread crumbs were a nice touch.  "L" and I thought it would be a great in the pinch side to take to a potluck or picnic.  You could throw in broccoli and ham, or crumbled bacon.
Our Walmart carries them for $2, to me it is a worthy bag to keep in the pantry as back-up.
Have a great night!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Put the Lime with the Coconut, Mix It Up!

At work the other day we were talking about cupcakes.  I love shows like Cupcake Wars, all the inventive flavors just make my mouth water.  All the talk about cupcakes really made me want to try to make some "fancy flavors".  I decided to make a variety of Lime and Coconut combinations.

I made the Lime Cupcakes from this recipe.   I made just the cupcake recipe, without the food coloring.  I'm known for my little "oops" moments in the kitchen.  My big one that day was curdling my milk on accident.  I had already measured my fresh lime juice, when I measured my milk into the same cup.  I just mixed it in the way the recipe said to add the milk.  As the recipe says the batter looks a little separated, the batter looks a little grainy. After filling my wells, the remainder of the batter sat for 20 minutes, I beat it again and the next batch was much smoother. If you taste the batter, it won't really taste very lime.  After the cupcakes bake, the essential oils released by the lime zest make a very delicious sweet lime flavor.

Second step, make Coconut Cupcakes, using this recipe.  I didn't have cake flour, so I googled and replaced 2 tbsp of flour with cornstarch per cup of flour.  I also don't have a sifter so I sift with a colander and a bowl. This is VERY thick batter, the stiff egg whites smooth it out.  The egg whites cause this to bake up very fluffy.  Make sure you don't over fill the cupcake wells, they get huge.
(Of course, I used my Demarle, so easy to rinse out and have ready for the next batch.)

Recipes 3 and 4 were, for coconut frosting and lime glaze.  The lime glaze is 1 T melted butter, 1 C powdered sugar, then add lime juice until you have the consistency you want.
I combined both cupcakes with both toppings.  I only have pictures of the lime cupcakes topped.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the lime glaze.  I can't wait to have it on ice cream, it is now in my favorite food discoveries and it is so easy!

I brought them to work and everybody said they were really yummy.  I think they were being honest :)  I loved doing something new!  Hope you all try it!
I am looking forward to trying new ones that will go with change of the seasons.  I'm thinking Snickerdoodle and Apple Pie for the fall cupcakes?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Menu Planning - Relieving Stress, Not Creating It (Even for Singles)

A note about the menu planner... I shop once every two to three weeks. So when I edit my YGS menu I make sure there are about 8 meals for two weeks. This is so I can be flexible. Some days nothing on the menu looks good and I just want plain old tacos. Or, as happened above, someone may drop by and nothing on the menu works for them. Sunday, I made that delicious cranberry relish, I grabbed a chicken breast and plopped a couple tablespoons of cranberry relish in there for a marinade. It wasn't on my menu, but it will be dinner tomorrow night. When menu planning, don't get caught up in specific days or missing a planned recipe, this is not the point of menu planning.
It's food, you've got your whole life to eat it!

I already mentioned You've Got Supper (YGS).  This is my "go-to" menu planner right now.  Many of the recipes have pictures and reviews from other "customers".  Also, many recipes have suggested sides, or options for switching out ingredients.  (This is how I learned I can substitute tumeric for saffron, until I can convince myself to blow some cash.) Servings are roughly 4 to 6 people, so I just write "Half Everything" on my grocery list that prints.  I do love YGS, but I do use a few other sites for my filler recipes.

Pillsbury Cooking for Two
     This isn't actually a menu site, but it does have some great recipes scaled down.  It is helpful when I am trying to re-portion something.

Make Dinner Easy
     She sends out an email on Saturdays that contains the link to the menu.  The menu is posted for two weeks, last week's is still up when you get the new week.  She includes sides on most of the meals.  Also she has some great tips in her menus too.  Even if I don't want to use the recipes I like to check out the tips, like how to get rid of that extra zucchini.   :)

Everyday With Rachael Ray
     I just signed up for this one this week.  I will have to do a review after a few weeks on the plan.

Monthly Menu Planner
     Like the name suggests, this site gives a whole month of recipes.  It is a little much for me since there are meals on every single day of the month.  But if you are up for it, a great way to plan ahead.

Weekly Dinner Menus
     She has 8 menus that she cycles through.  I know a lot of people like this method because they can stock up on things they will use regularly.  Her recipes are generally scaled for 4 servings.  She doesn't provide sides, so keep that in mind, and add them into your lists.

Thanks for reading!!!

An Easy Change in My Menu, 30 Min Stromboli

About a month ago I found a great website, You've Got Supper, that emails a weekly menu.  I can edit the menu, add or take away recipes from their recipe book, and print an organized grocery list.  I can mark recipes as favorites once I have tried them too.  That is where I get all my new exciting recipes lately.  Tonight was one of them, Stromboli.  I originally was planing on doing chicken and potato curry, but "L" came over for dinner and the season finale of "Covert Affairs".  Curry is not really in her palette.  So I looked on my menu and found the stromboli.  The recipe calls for mozzarella and ham, I decided I wanted swiss when shopping, and "L" doesn't like deli ham, so we did Swiss and Pepperoni.  With the pop'n'fresh French bread, and two other main ingredients, this literally took 5 minutes to put together and only 25 to bake.  It was crispy and golden on the outside and soft on the inside.  It reminds me of a pizza braid my Aunt "J" makes.  I thought it would be good with lots of combos, cheddar, chicken, and broccoli; roasted red peppers and onions with pepperoni; lots of yummy combinations possible.  This would be great as a last minute treat for a party!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Eggroll Wrappers, Not Just for Eggrolls?

Egg roll wrappers/skins
Last night's post mention egg roll wrappers in passing.  I love these things!  The wrappers are really thin sheets of pasta.  I have heard you can make them at home but they are difficult with a kitchen pasta machine, and extremely difficult by hand.  (Have you rolled normal pasta dough by hand? It is very hard!)  I originally bought these to make my Mexican Egg rolls.  I had some leftover sheets and noticed a recipe on the back for... Cannelloni?!  Boil water, drop sheets in for a minute, place ricotta filling on edge, roll, cover in sauce, and bake for 20 minutes?!?!?!  I tried it!  Super easy super yummy cannelloni that I can make on my lunch break, (microwave for 5 to 10 minutes is another time saver).  That success sold me on the wonderful little guys.  I keep them on hand, always.  Leftover chicken and vegetables?  Make a broth, add the chicken, veggies, and sliced wrappers... instant home made chicken noodle soup.  I love lasagne, but to be frank lasagne noodles are a pain, even the no-boil kind.  So on a whim I decided to try the egg roll wrappers.  Everything in lasagne is pre-cooked, so you are only "marrying" all the flavors.  I layered my wrappers into individual servings of lasagne (Demarle is awesome).  They came out light, almost fluffy, without the starchiness of regular noodles.  Another score for the wrappers!  As I was looking online today for other recipes for my wrappers I came across a recipe using them to make cups.  Baked longer if re-baking (filled with custard) or shorter is filled with cold filling (taco salad).  My goal is to make a few of these recipes in the near future.  I'll post them when I try them.

A couple tips to keep in mind:
While assembling the egg rolls, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel. You can seal the rolls with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but let them come to room temperature before using.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

24 Hours and 3 Delicious Recipes

First off, I made some great food for dinner tonight!  BBQ Pork Ribs...  I was supposed to do them on the grill but I didn"t quite manage it.  First, a rub of brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, peper, and Dollar Tree Memphis Seasoning (LOVE this stuff).  I sifted it, rubbing the powder onto the ribs and dumping the clumps into a jar.  The jar then had worchestershire sauce and BBQ sauce mixed in.  All the flavors "married" in their respective positions for about three hours.  Since I didn't have a big enough oven dish for the ribs, I cut the slab in half.  I put each half in a Demarle round (meatier side down), and covered them with half the sauce.  Into the 375 oven for 1.25 hours (covered with the silpat) then flipped over, covered with the remaining sauce and left uncovered for 20 minutes more.  They were so much better than on the grill, since I have a tendency to overcook on the grill.  They were flavorful, moist, sweet with a little kick.  And clean up was a cinch, 5 minutes with warm water and mild detergent, no scrubbing at all!!!  Can't tell you how much I love my Demarle.

Second, I made Cranberry Twist relish for lunch.  My mom always makes this in the fall.  I found cranberries in my freezer when i moved, so I decided to make some today.  My mom uses an orange and a bit of sugar to balance the cranberries, but my one orange is supposed to be used for a recipe this week.  Luckily I had a Califonia pink grapefuit.  No need for adding the zest of the rind to my twist version.  I ate it all, so refreshing, sweet yet tangy.  Tastes like CT.

Third, last night "L" and I made my Mexican Eggrolls for quick meals, they are great in the freezer, healthier than frozen burritos.  Simmer, covered, two chicken breast in a cup of chunky salsa for about 20 minutes.  I put them in frozen and whole, when i see they have thawed a little I cut them up into small chunks.  Then shred the chicken, add a can of black beans (rinsed), simmer for 5 minutes.  Add frozen corn to the mix until it look right (I know it isn't specific but some people like more or less corn).  Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.  If drain off any excess liquid.  I save mine because it is great base for leftover mexican soup for lunch the next day.  You can simmer the liquid all off, but that can overcook your corn.  Then take out your package of eggroll wrappers.  Paint all four edges with egg wash or oil.  Place 2-3 tablespoons of mixture in the wrap and roll up like a burrito or the back of the package has eggroll rolling instructions.  Bake until golden brown.  Obviously I use my silpat, but if using a cookie sheet line it with foil, sometimes they leak a little.  I allow them to cool for an hour on the counter then freeze them in portions.  We eat them on a bed of lettuce with salsa, sour cream, and cheese!

P.S. I bought tumeric and curry last week! So excited to try them out this week!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Meek Greek for Lunch

Got to leave work early today to make up my Saturday hours.  Came home to the big question, "What am I going to eat for lunch?"  One of my many new endeavors is to try to use up all my specialty purchases.  Meaning, when I buy feta I must use all of it, not a single bit to waste.  I am usually good at this anyway, but in my new save-money-on-groceries mentality, I started thinking of the food that gets wasted after I spend the money.  Back to my point of lunch... Stomach: Grumbling, Fridge: Open, Eyes: GOT IT!  Boca Burgers, Greek yogurt, feta, and my new cast iron grill pan!  Grilled my burger, grilled some tomato slice and onions, mixed feta, yogurt, garlic, and dill. Piled together on a warm bun, I got my Meek Greek meal! 
P.S. I am getting ready for my first organized coupon shopping trip this week!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Day, New Post

New Beginnings!
I'm trying this thing again. I recently moved to Smithfield, UT, the northern end of Cache Valley, and away from my nearly 3 year roomie. I have found I have more "empty" time and I want something to show for it. So this blog is being reactivated!
But what will I talk about?! Technically, anything I want, it's my blog! But I do have an idea of a few things:
1) I have fallen more and more in love with cooking. I am CONSTANTLY trying new recipes and new ingredients. I expect that to be a common topic from now on in this blog.
2) Also, I am becoming very enthralled at couponing. I want to find out how beneficial couponing is for the single female cooking for herself.
3) What entertains me, books, movies, concerts, plays, and public venues.
4) I may not know tons about this final subject, but you will find me commenting on various current events throughout the community, state of Utah, and this great nation.
5) Finally, I will post thoughts and impressions on the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the heart beat to my life. It is what makes me, me.

So, I hope this works out better than last time.
Wish me luck!