Saturday, January 30, 2010
This recipe is very simple, but has so much flavor. This is the recipe that I found in my very first cookbook that I ever purchased: "Betty Crocker's: Everything You Need To Know To Cook." I first made this meal the first year I was married ... probably the first month! It has been a favorite ever since (but I would not deem this as the perfect Sweet and Sour Chicken).
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Serves 5 (1 cup servings) Calories 240 per serving
15 1/2 oz can of pineapple chunks in juice (reserving 1/3 cup juice)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (yes, this is a repeat)
1 medium green pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded (approx. 1 1/4 cups)
Mix 1/3 cup pineapple juice, the cornstarch, vinegar and honey.
Heat wok over high. Add oil and stir-fry chicken until no longer pink. Remove chicken and keep warm. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil to the wok and stir-fry peppers and onion for about 1 minute. Add cornstarch mixture and carrots to wok. Cook and stir for about 1 minute until sauce thickens. (Tip, if you want your veggies softer, cook them all at the same time and cook until tender, then add the sauce mixture)
Stir in pineapple and chicken and heat thru.
*** I like to serve this over brown rice and with some mandarin oranges.
This week, I have planned 5 meals for our menu. I never assign a specific meal for a specific day of the week. I like to decide what sounds good that day, and also some meals take less prep time, and I like to save those for our busiest days.
Breakfast for Supper~
French Toast with Sauteed Bananas
Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits
BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers
Italian Seasoned Oven Fries
Three Meat Jambalaya
Garlicky Baked French Bread
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Garlicky Green Beans
Tomato Basil Salad
Skinny Scampi (Matt's request)
Oven Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan
Hope you all enjoy! Stay tuned for my Super Bowl Menu later.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Now, my family are cereal eaters. This may be the wrong term for their cereal eating behavior. My boys come by it honestly. My husband, in his bachelor years, used to consume 1-2 boxes of cereal in a 24 hour window of time. Just yesterday, my dear husband said that he and the boys had a cereal eating contest during breakfast. He proudly stated that Trevor consumed 6 bowls full of cereal. He said, Nicholas (my 4 year old) gave up after about 4 bowls of cereal. On a weekly basis, I can be found at the supermarket with a cart full of cereal.
When I am being sensible, I will make home-made granola for my family. This is just as easily consumed as the other cereals that I purchase for my guys (after all, I store all cereal out of the boxes in Tupperware cereal holders, so no one is the wiser!).
So, I believe that the four large containers of oats on the table may have been my husband trying to give me a subliminal message of "Please fix some granola for our family. We are in dire need of a healthier, more cost-effective breakfast." Do you think that is what he was trying to say?
A friend of mine asked me this week for a good, low-fat granola recipe. Since she specifically requested low-fat, I gave her one I got off of Cooking Light's website about a year ago. It is good ... but I have to say, I enjoy this recipe so much more. It is also the granola of choice of my family.
1/3 cup light brown sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup wheat germ
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of dried berries (your choice)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Add the oats, wheat germ and stir until evenly blended.
Spread the granola out on the prepared sheets and bake about 20 minutes, stirring a few times to avoid burning and to achieve even baking. Remove pans from oven, stirring and then bake and additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Stir in the nuts and berries of your choice.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I love Mexican food. I love going to restaurants and indulging in queso and salsa with those still fresh from the oven tortilla chips (I like to pretend they are fresh from the oven, and not fresh from a vat of oil...) I love squeezing a little fresh lime over a taco. I adore the incredible variety of flavors that attack your taste buds. Deliciousness!
So ... needless to say, this week, I prepared one of my favorite salads: Black Bean Taco Salad.
Here is the line-up of ingredients: Spicy Taco Meat, corn, black beans, green pepper, avocado, green onions, and reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
And here is the finished product!
My dressing consisted of one part light sour cream and one part salsa. It was perfect! I have also used a balsamic vinaigrette or just squeezed fresh lime juice over the top as my dressing. Whatever way you go, it is delicious. Another thing that is fun is to take spinach tortillas, slice them in thin strips and then toast them in the oven. They add a nice crunch to the salad, in case you are missing the carbs. The way I fixed it made enough salad for 6 servings at 279 calories per serving. My boys loved eating the meat, beans and corn on the side and I made cheesy quesadillas for them.
Here is the recipe for my Spicy Taco Meat that I used to make this salad:
Spicy Taco Meat
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 pint of grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tsp cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ketchup
Brown beef with jalapeno, garlic, and onion. Add seasonings. Cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute. Stir in ketchup and heat thru. Serve.
*** This meat makes wonderful tacos, enchiladas, or even nachos. The sky is the limit!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tonight, I decided that we would have the Zesty Barbecue Chicken Breasts for supper. I made the sauce, poured it over my frozen (yes, FROZEN) chicken breasts and popped the whole mess into the oven in my stoneware casserole dish. Approximately 50 minutes later, supper was served. The boys just magically appeared from wherever they had previously been playing in the house and were very eager to have their supper (and SECONDS).
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used frozen, because I did not have them thawed)
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Arrange chicken in a 9x13 casserole dish (sprayed with some non-stick cooking spray). Combine the remaining ingredients to make the sauce. Pour over the chicken, coating every piece. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 50 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear. Serve immediately, with the sauce poured over top of the chicken.
*** We served this with some sweet potato pan fries and corn.
I hope that your family enjoys this meal as much as my family did!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
My youngest. Blue eyes and blond hair. My Spiderman (this is who he compares himself to frequently). My cuddle bug. My slayer of dragons. My helper in the kitchen. My sweet talker... my second born is all of these things, and then some!
On the way home from work today, on the way to pick up big brother from school, my youngest son was definitely sweet talking his Momma. "Mommy, I love you. I love to buy you flowers. I love to cuddle with you. I love to buy you hamsters. (I am thinking, "What? We don't have any hamsters!)
After going on for about 5 minutes citing all of the things he loves to buy for and give to his Mommy, my sweet-talking child had a revelation. "Mommy, I know what you will love to buy for me ... a FERRET!"
Now, I am not sure exactly where he has seen a ferret ... or heard of a ferret ... or if he even knows exactly what a ferret is. However, one thing I am very certain of is that I am not buying him a ferret! I smiled and tactfully changed the subject, He soon forgot about the ferret and was ready to pick up big brother and have some clementines for an afternoon snack.
Simple pleasures .... I am blessed!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
This week, I have planned 6 meals for our menu. I never assign a specific meal for a specific day of the week. I like to decide what sounds good that day, and also some meals take less prep time, and I like to save those for our busiest days. I work a full-time job, have 2 children, and still love to make a home-cooked meal every night for my family.
Zesty Barbecue Chicken Breasts
Sweet Potato Fries
Unrolled Cabbage Rolls
Garlic-Ginger Chicken Skewers
Barley Vegetable Beef Stew
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Black Bean Taco Salad
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Trevor had a very exciting Thursday of last week: He lost a tooth at school. When I picked him up from school, Trevor excitedly relayed this information to me. "Mommy, at school today, I did something that no one else has ever done in my class during school. I lost a tooth!" He said that his substitute teacher told him, "Congratulations" and then they went to the school nurse where he was able to pick out a "Tooth Treasure Chest" to put his tooth in for the duration of school that day. We set the tooth in the Tooth Treasure Chest in the special place where the Tooth Fairy looks for teeth that night before bedtime. The next morning, Trevor was excited to find his bounty, in the place where the Tooth Treasure Chest had rested just the night before. I loved watching him as he excitedly showed his brother, before putting his Tooth Fairy money into his safe. What unbridled joy my son has! I am so blessed to have him as my son.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I love to cook. I love perusing through cookbooks at the bookstores. I probably own one hundred ... who knows, I sure don't count them! I read cookbooks like some people read novels. It is true. I love picking out a "cookbook of the week" when I am menu planning, and trying out a couple of recipes from that cookbook during the upcoming week. I write little notes to myself in these cookbooks: Documenting the special occasion which we first enjoyed the recipe, writing my husband's "critique" of the meal, classifying the recipe for future reference.
You may be wondering what my cooking style is like. I have to say, I am Paula Deen's biggest fan. I have all of her cookbooks (and her sons' cookbooks too!) I love "down-home" style cooking. Meals like what I grew up with while living back home on the farm. "Comfort" food. I admit, I like to try new recipes too; to try to capture the same flavor and zest of dishes I have sampled in restaurants. You will see a wide variety of foods in my menus and recipe files.
Right now, my focus is to make healthier versions of my family's favorite types of food. I am trying out new "low-fat" recipes and experimenting a bit with some of my favorite recipes.
I have a little three ringed binder that my good friend Lori gave to me years ago. In this binder, I keep all of my "perfect" recipes. The recipes that are so good, I do not ever have to look for another version of that type of recipe. I have officially found "the perfect recipe" for Cinnamon Rolls, Chicken Pot Pie, Escalloped Potatoes, Blueberry Muffins ... (okay, I will not list them all right now).
One new addition to my "perfect recipe" binder is an Asian Sesame-Ginger Marinade. I used this fabulous marinade recipe to make Asian-Infused Sirloin Steaks last week. I served this savory steak with baked sweet potatoes (sprinkled with brown sugar) and garlicky green beans. My husband rated this meal as "perfection" (and has requested I make it once a week...)
Doesn't it look delicious?
Asian (Sesame-Ginger) Infused Sirloin Steak
262 calories per serving
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 of a lime
3 Tablespoons Heinz 57 Steak Sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 inch piece of ginger, shredded
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
Mix well and pour over a 2 pound (nice and thick!) sirloin steak. Let this marinate overnight (or at least 4 hours). I usually just use a nice big plastic bag (resealable) to marinate the steak in.
In a grill pan that is preheated, add the steak and the marinade. Grill the steak over medium-high heat until desired "doneness" is reaches, brushing occasionally with the marinade. I cooked it for about 6 minutes per side and then transferred the whole pan (steak and all) into the oven for a few minutes to finish cooking.
Let meat rest for a few minutes before cutting into individual serving sizes (or you can slice it into thin slices if that is preferred). Serve immediately.
Hope you all enjoy!
For quite some time, I have debated on starting a blog. I have lots of interests, a wonderful husband and two adorable little boys, and family and friends that are spread all over the United States. I thought, "This would be a wonderful way to capture memories and share them with my family and friends."
Then again, I love photography. It is my passion, really. I love "capturing" those fleeting moments for all time. Nothing tells a story quite as well as a picture... especially some of the ones I have with my boys. Their expressions sometimes say a lot more than I would like...
I am an avid scrapbooker. I love to capture my precious memories in albums. It is so much fun to look at them with my boys - and help tell them the story of their lives (again and again ...) I also enjoy helping others' capture their memories as well. I have worked on a heritage album for my grandparents, completed an album for my Mother that had pictures of my brother, sister and I from our younger years, and, occasionally, I work on projects for clients.
Let me discuss yet another area of interest that I have. I love to cook and bake. I enjoy reading cookbooks and food magazines. I love menu planning. I love going into a restaurant and dissecting my favorite dishes to try to recreate them at home. My poor family has to try so many new recipes every week ~ but, I do also make some of the family favorites too. I was thinking that a blog would be neat to help capture some of these recipes: To document the successes and failures; to share these recipes with my family and friends.
Well... I guess, I have rambled on enough in this "introduction" post. I look forward to comments and suggestions as I have officially entered into the world of "blogging."