Sunday, April 21, 2013

review of a previous recipe and this weekend's cookin'

Well it has been a bit of a crazy week, but what household isn't crazy with a little buddy, a hubby and a puppy?!  But we survived, and are about to embark on yet another week of craziness!

Review of White Chili
On Monday night, I made the white chili recipe I mentioned in my previous post.  I got home and hubbs had browned and broken up the meat for me, so that was a bit of a time saver.  I ended up draining the corn, and rinsing and draining the beans.  And I'm glad I did!!  Once I got everything in there, added extra cheese (one 2c package), and started to stir it up, it was SO SOUPY!  I was afraid it was going to be too liquid-y, unlike what some of the reviews had said.  But I continued on and let it simmer for a good bit, which took out a bit of the water.  When it came time to serve it, I drained the liquid off my portion, but hubbs kept it in his.  I added cheddar cheese, and he added more of the pepper jack cheese.  And it was a success!  Mine seemed a little bland, but still good.  I had enough to do a bowl for me, two bowls for hubbs (it's always a good sign when hubbs goes back for seconds!), and three portions of leftovers for lunch for me.  When I had it at work, I added pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar, and it made it much more flavorful.  So all in all, definitely a recipe to keep, and hubbs and I highly recommend it!!


For breakfast today, I decided to try something new for me that I have never done before... I made french toast for my boys and me... and it wasn't too bad, actually!  I know, so simple to make, and yet I had never tried to make it.  My boys like it with butter and cinnamon/sugar topping.  Today I wasn't feeling that, so I just had butter and syrup on mine.  There was a good bread sale at the store this past week, so I had gotten an extra loaf for this.  I'm not looking forward to when buddy eats more than one or two pieces of bread for grilled cheese or french toast... we'll be demolishing multiple loaves in one meal!

With another sale going on at my grocery store, I stocked up on fresh chicken.  Now let me say, I am NOT A FAN of working with raw meat.  It can even turn my stomach, but I am better than I used to be...  I decided that for tonight, I would use one of the packages of chicken for dinner.  I took out the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and they were HUGE... I actually cut them up a little bit (and trimmed off some of the fat and other stuff that makes it hard to eat), and put them in marinade for a little bit in the fridge.  I didn't make my marinade from scratch, as a few months ago there was a sale on liquid marinades at the store, so we stocked up then.  I did a garden and herb variety.  If our grill was functioning properly, we would probably try to grill them, however that's not the case.  We've been debating whether to try to fix it or just buy a new one... we've had it since we got married, so it's been well loved.  Anyway, I'm just going to pop the dish in the oven with foil covering it, and let it cook till it is about 160F (I usually bake it at 350F).  Right now, I have some yeast rolls speed-rising in the oven (heat oven to 200F, turn off, put rolls on a pan in there with a container of hot water next to the pan, and let rise for 2hr or until the rolls are the size you want.  Then remove the bowl of water and turn oven on, and bake per instructions on the bag.).  I'm still deciding whether to do corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, mac'n'cheese or who knows what for other sides.  Maybe I'll do some fruit... or I got carrots at the store for buddy, but have to peel and cut them first (hubbs won't eat them!).  Who knows what else I'll fix, but this meal is a good standby that I pull out every so often.  Hubbs doesn't like chicken all the time, but when we have it on hand, that's what we're going to have!  Plus with as big as the chunks of meat were, I might have some leftovers for lunch during the week...


Another recipe I was going to do this weekend was one I got from a dear friend, but I'm probably going to have to do it later on in the week or next weekend.  We have some stuff going on in the evenings this week, which might make it a little harder to make the more complicated/in depth meal.   When I do it, though, I'll be sure to post it.


Nothing fancy this weekend, but still, something to keep in mind that is easy to make and still nutritious.  Back to pretend playing with buddy... he was just singing a song that the lyrics were "I love my Mimi, I love my Mimi" (I'm Mimi to him... love!)


~KB~  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Not much "kraziness" in the kitchen this time...

Well, there hasn't been all that much going on in the kitchen this week, except for cleaning... and that was DESPERATELY needed.  Oh the joys of not having a dishwasher and not being able to install one very easily...  Anyway, I did the rice/bean/meat meal during the week (see previous post).  Hubbs really liked the seasoned, ground turkey, in fact he said it was better than the kielbasa I have put in it previously.  It also added a bit of a kick.  But all I did was take what I put together on Sunday out of the fridge, cut up the cheese (~16 ounces) and put it in layers on top of the concoction, covered it with aluminum foil and put it in at 350F.  As the cheese started to get gooey, I began trying to stir it.  I'll admit I started to get impatient, so I bumped it up to 375F towards the end...   but it turned out awesome.  And I had it for lunch for a few days at work, too.  It was nice to have something home cooked, but didn't take forever to make on a weeknight.

Oh, and the chicken and noodles meal I made for Sunday night was pretty good re-heated.  I actually think in some ways, it was better as you could taste the cheese more.  I think next time I make it, I will definitely use more cheese, and maybe less cream of chicken soup.

 As for other meals for the week, we did mac'n'cheese with hot dogs in it (one of hubbs' favorite), breakfast for dinner, and I can't remember much else that we had, but I know we ate! (how sad is that?!)  Anyway, yesterday, hubbs made breakfast for buddy and I (he is AWESOME with cooking breakfast foods!  Except for pancakes... that's more up my alley).  We had some leftover bacon bits (not the hard salad stuff, but the softer bacon), so he poured it into eggs and made omelets.  He sliced those up and put them on fresh baked biscuits with some cheese, and we had a nice, substantial breakfast.  Buddy, however, is not a fan of the bacon, so hubbs just scrambled some eggs plain for him. 

On that note, I have to say it's hard trying to come up with meals that the whole family will eat.  Buddy does have very select tastes, and it's something hubbs and I are working to expand.  He likes some things you would expect, but then other things you might not expect a child his age to eat.  He loves cucumbers, raw carrots, raw tomatoes, salad (no dressing).  But a lot of other things, not so much.  And sometimes it depends on the alignment of the moon and stars, what mood he is in... yeah...  but we're working on it!  If we ate what he ate all the time, we'd have peanut butter sandwiches, goldfish crackers, chicken nuggets, and the like aaaaaaaaaall the time.  And hubbs and I don't have the sanity for that!


Well onto what I was going to make for tonight, but have decided to push off to an evening during the week.  Hubbs and I like chili, and we have one recipe that my mother in law gave me, which is what the hubbs absolutely loves.  It is the standard meat, beans, chili seasoning, in a crockpot all day and *bam* you have a meal.  I also have a cook book that is devoted to just different varieties of chili, and have done some of them out of there, but I was looking for something different, so I logged on to AllRecipes.com and searched for chili recipes.  I found one that struck my fancy, and it is called, "White Chili" (very descriptive, because I'm sure that there are a TON of recipes out there with that title, but that's the name!).

Ingredients:
1lb ground turkey, browned
1c medium salsa
1c frozen corn kernels
1c water
2 (14oz) cans great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8oz) package jalapeno pepper Cheddar cheese chunks

Directions:
In a large pot or saucepan combine the browned turkey, salsa, corn, water, beans and cheese. Stir together and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through and cheese has melted.


After looking at the reviews, it got high marks on taste, but people said that it was dry during the simmering time, so they did any combination of things to add more liquid to the simmering time.  Some people didn't drain the beans, some put in more water, some used chicken broth, some added more salsa, some used canned corn... the possibilities are endless.  I have decided to use canned corn (I typically have a stockpile of that in my pantry) and may drain some of it (I know, the liquid will change the overall flavor a little bit), and instead of using great Northern beans, I'm going to use one can of pinto and one can of kidney beans.  I'll probably drain and rinse those.  And of course, I'm going to keep an eye on it and add more water if need be.  I couldn't find cheddar cheese with jalapenos at my grocery store, so I got shredded pepper Jack cheese.  And I got four cups of it... because everything is better with more cheese!  But tonight I'm going to brown the meat so when I get home from work tomorrow or Tuesday, I can just pull out all of the ingredients, dump them into a pot and let it simmer.

I'll post a review of it later in the week... hopefully it won't be one of those where my frozen pizza in reserve will have to be pulled out!  Today I saw at my grocery store that they had a really good sale on chicken (50% off a package of chicken breasts!), so I got two packs for the price of one, and threw them in the freezer.  I might pull one of those packs out one evening to thaw so I can put it in marinade in the morning and bake it when I get home... we'll see, though!


Happy cookin'!
~KB~

 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

making dinner ahead of time, take 1.

As a working adult, we all face the same problem when getting off work: What do I make for dinner?!  Most of the time we want something quick, easy and something that produces hardly any mess.  Well I have been talking about trying to make meals ahead of time, so all hubbs or I have to do is one or two things and we're good to go.  Sometimes I get the motivation to do it, and other times, the couch and my Kindle, or snuggle time with buddy win the battle of motivation.  Well today I finally got off my butt to make dinner, and made dinner for another night.  I have it to the point where I have to add cheese and put it in the oven to heat, melt the cheese and Viola!  Homemade dinner!  Here's the recipe:

From KRAFT Velveeta Incredibly Easy Recipes, pg. 46 "Cheesy red beans & rice"

Ingredients:
1 can (15.5oz) kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 can (10oz) diced tomatoes & green chilies, undrained
2c instant white rice, uncooked
2c water
7oz turkey smoked sausage, sliced, halved
6oz Velveeta cheese cut into 1/2in cubes
1 small onion
2tsp chili powder

Directions:
Heat oven to 350F.  Combine all ingredients. Spoon into 13x9in dish sprayed with cooking spray.  bake 45-50min or until rice is tender and mixture is heated through.


I have made this recipe before, and it has been a hit with the hubbs.  It reheats well, too, as I have taken it in for lunch at work. (Yay multiple meal yielding dishes!)  The hubbs likes eating it with tortilla chips rather than alone.  One major thing I change is that I have a rice cooker and cook the rice beforehand, as I don't want the rice to be undercooked, so I nix the 2c water.  It tends to cut down on the baking time as well.  And as I mentioned on a previous post, I add more cheese, because who doesn't love MORE CHEESE?!.  Also, rather than using a fresh onion, I'll use the dried, minced onion and just dump some in there.  We aren't huge onion fans, so I tend to substitute that.  It still adds the flavor, but saves money and having to cry during chopping, and smelling like an onion for days afterwards.   

When I made it tonight, instead of using the smoked sausage, I decided to use a different meat.  Sometimes the smoked sausage (I have used kielbasa in the past) can upset the hubb's and my bellies, so I purchased seasoned ground turkey instead.  I could get the unseasoned, but the smoked sausage is flavored, so I thought I'd try that to keep some flavor in the meat.  I browned it and broke it up into small pieces before adding it to the mixture.  It is now in the fridge waiting to have the cheese added, and be popped in the oven one of the next few nights.  I hope that it turns out alright with a different meat in it... I'll let you know later on in the week...


Well it's time for me to enjoy a few more quiet moments before heading to bed, and getting another week started.  Have a good week everyone, and enjoy the lovely weather!

~KB~

Retrying a previous recipe... same disastrous results????

So you could ask the hubbs about my recipe collection... it has kind of gotten out of control, but a few months ago I tried to tame it.  I probably need to get back to that, however there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done I would like.  Sound familiar?  Also, there's that thing of getting a recipe book or magazine where you only use, like, one or two recipes out of a whole thing.  Frustrating as anything!  You feel like just ripping the recipe out of the book, but then you don't want to do that for fear of losing all the other recipes in the off chance that you might some day in the not too distant future maybe want to peruse through it just in case you have an inkling to try something that you thought you'd never try.  (yes, this is how my brain works.  deal :oP)  Well I'm working on dealing with this problem.  I have admitted it, and that's the first step, right?  Maybe I'll tame the wild collection of recipes... some day... in my copious free time...


Anyway, so tonight I wanted to revisit a recipe I did a few months ago.  It is in the recipe book The One-Dish Bible.  I got it from the discount rack at Barnes & Noble who knows how long ago.  I like this recipe book because it is fairly simple, has tons of ideas and seems pretty down to earth with the list of ingredients for the most part.  The recipe I picked is from the chapter Bird is the Word, pg 96, "3-Cheese Chicken & Noodles".  The ingredients are as follows:

3c chopped, cooked chicken
1.5c cottage cheese
1 can (10.75oz) condensed cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
1pkg (8oz) wide egg noodles, cooked and drained
1c grated Monterey Jack cheese
0.5c (each) diced celery, diced onion, diced green bell pepper, diced red bell pepper
0.5c grated Parmesan cheese
0.5c chicken broth
1 can (4oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
2tbsp butter, melted
0.5tsp dried thyme leaves

[Note: I changed things around, both last time and again this time, and used mozzarella and cheddar cheese instead of Monterey Jack (I have those on hand all the time, and it makes it cheesier), and I nixed the celery and mushrooms (and thyme this second time... it just didn't seem to groove with my sensory palate when I popped open my spice container).]

The directions in the book call for you to use a slow cooker.  It says, "Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.  Stir to coat evenly.  Cover; cook on LOW 6 to 10 hours or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours."

Well, let me tell you what happened last time.  I got all my stuff together, plopped it into the crock pot at about 10am, set it to low, and thought, "Yes! I will have a delicious dinner at 6pm that will fill the house with a wonderful aroma, and I didn't have to do hardly any work!  Woo hoo!!"  And for a few hours, that is exactly what happened.  I stirred the concoction periodically, and noticed the cheese was melted to perfection (I added extra... who doesn't like MORE CHEESE?!).  But it was only 4pm.  We weren't ready to eat at 4pm.  So I let it cook longer.  Well, by the time dinnertime arrived, I lifted the lid, inhaled deeply, smelled good, but then, I stirred it.  And I almost puked right there in the crock pot.  It had turned to a vomit-like mush.  Yeah...  The hubbs sees me pale, and looks in the crock pot.  He says, that it'll still be okay, and dish it out.  I couldn't even bring my spoon to my lips without starting to dry-heave again... He took one bite, and promptly made himself something else.  I could barely contain the tears.  What had I done wrong?  I had followed the recipe.  Everything was fully cooked... wait.... that's what happened.  I over-cooked the noodles, therefore turning the whole meal into cheesy chicken-smelling vomit.  [Another note: I have since learned that when using rice/pasta in the crock pot, under cook them or don't cook them at all or add them at the very end or they will turn to a bowl full of a vomit-like consistency.]

So tonight, I pre-cooked the chicken and noodles, cut everything up and combined it all into a 13x9in baking dish.  Covered it with foil, and popped it into the oven at 350F, and let it go.  I had meant to under-cook the noodles, but was distracted by the dog, the kid and dirty dishes (yay being a mommy!).  I was a nervous wreck, checking it and stirring it constantly, and trying to come up with some sort of back-up plan.  I ended up pulling it out and letting it sit for a few minutes for fear of it turning to mush before hubbs and buddy were ready to eat.  I served garlic knots on the side (from the grocery store's bakery section.... just warm and serve!).

And round two?  Much better!  I think next time I might use only part of a can of cream of chicken soup (or none at all), and add more cheese.  I think I skimped on the cheese a little...  but all in all, not a complete disaster like last time!  The hubbs liked it, and I could eat it without feeling like I was going to lose the contents of my stomach.   I didn't give any to buddy, as he's not a huge fan of pasta or chicken that's not in nugget form.  He had his "go-to meal" of a bowl of oatmeal.  


Well, that was tonight's dinner.  Quite an improvement over last time.  I'll work on another post in a few minutes with a meal I prepped, while doing this one, for sometime during the week.


~KB~

First Post!!

Hello!  Welcome to my kitchen ramblings!  

I have been thinking about doing this blog for a while, and finally have the guts to do it.  I hope it doesn't bore you too much, and if you find a recipe you would like to share, let me know!  


A little bit of background... 

I have recently gotten (back) into cooking, and want to try to improve on my skills and repertoire of recipes.  I can remember in middle school wanting to become a chef, but then in high school, I chose a different path:  CHEMISTRY*insert music of doom, death and distruction here*  Yeah, similar and yet not so much......  But now that I'm a wife and mother, I want to try to cook good meals for my boys.  It can be tricky to do this, since both the hubbs and my son are picky eaters, but I am slowly figuring out the tricks.  I won't say that every meal is balanced and healthy, but I'm working to at least keep them fed and happy (the easiest way to the male's heart <3 ).  It is also difficult to do this since I work 40+hrs a week outside the home.  There isn't much time to make elaborate meals, especially when feeding my two boys, but I'm working to figure out easy go-to meals that can be delicious.  I try to do better meals on the weekends since I have more time, but sometimes the motivation isn't there.  I also have the challenge of not having a dishwasher, therefore my goal is to use as few dishes as possible so I have less mess to clean up!


I will aim to post once a week (likely on weekends), since that's when I have the most time to do anything, cooking included.  I'm not ashamed to post meal failures, as we all have to learn from our mistakes.  It's discouraging, however life is a learning experience.  As long as we take that knowledge and move forward, we can only improve.  I'm sure even the most famous of chefs have bombed a meal or two...


Thank you for reading!  This weekend's post will come once the little guy is snuggled up in bed with his stuffed animals.


~KB~


P.S.  For those of you who didn't know me before I got married, I'm going by KB instead of KM because that's the nickname I received in either high school or college.  Some friends have always called me that, even to this day.  So KB I will always be :o)