Archive for February, 2010
Last minute the other day, I was asked to bring something in to work for a birthday breakfast the following morning. I had no time and no energy but I agreed anyhow. I have this weird thing about avoiding carbs for breakfast and finding the protein. OK – not avoid carbs, but find something that isn’t only carbs. With this in mind, I decided to try making some mini quiche. They came out really well!
So here is the quick and dirty on how I made them. Prepare whatever quiche filling you like. An easy basis would be 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of cheese, and 1 cup of veggies/meat. Get creative.
Now, take a roll of refrigerated crescent dough. Once unrolled, take two triangles and pinch them together to make a rectangle. Now cut them in half to make two squares. Fit each square into a cup cake pan to make mini cups of dough. I work with only one roll of dough at a time, and move quickly. The longer the dough is out, the harder it is to work with.
Stick the pan into an oven pre-heated to 375 degrees for just a few minutes. The dough should just be starting to brown and puff a little. Pull out the pan and put about 3 spoonfuls of filling into each cup. 3 spoonfuls is an estimate. Depending on how the cups came out, I added a little more or a little less. Return pan to oven and cook for approximately 15 more minutes. Crust should be browned and egg filling should be puffed up and firm. Let cool for a few minutes and serve or transfer to the refrigerator to eat later.
I got a little grief for “not making things this fancy” for my husband so I let him steal one. The rest were a hit the next morning.
I hate wasting food. So I don’t. The meal had to have been really bad for it to go into the trash, like those flax crackers I tried to make. I try to make my meals go as far as they can. Sometimes that means another full dinner. Sometimes they disapear into the bottomless pit I married before I get home from work the next day. Other times I make new meals.
So take the roja vieja I made the other night. I decided it would make a fantastic lunch for my husband to take to work. The challenge: he needs lunch he can eat with his hands and that don’t need to be reheated. The answer: I made him some wraps.
First I got my assembly line ready with whole grain wraps, the leftover vieja ropa and rice, and lettuce.
With the wraps laid out, I put a piece of lettuce on each one. Then some rice on top of that. Top it off with some of the vieja ropa.
And I rolled them up. I am not so good at that part yet but I am working on it. I wrapped them in foil and sent my husband on his way. Be careful to drain out some of the “juice” so the wrap doesn’t get soggy during the day.
I have always been a little skeptical of this meal based on its name. I decided to go ahead and give it a try though. I have been looking for more crock pot meals and this kept coming up in my searches. Oh, for those of you who don’t know, Ropa Vieja means Old Clothes. Ew.
I started by putting 4lbs of chuck roast into the crock pot. You can use steak or stew meat but chuck roast cooks so well and shreds best after being cooked.
I poured 2 cups of beef broth, 8 oz of tomato sauce from a can and fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz can) over the beef.
The fresh ingredients came next…1 large onion chopped, 2 green bell peppers chopped or sliced, and 4 garlic cloves chopped. These get added to the mix. You can do all of your chopping the night before if you want to save time in the morning.
Add a small can of tomato paste along with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and white vinegar. Flavor the mixture with dried cumin and fresh chopped cilantro. In my super scientific measuring methods, I would estimate about a palm full of cumin and about the same amount of cilantro.
Give it all a stir and let it cook on low all day. You can also cook it on high for 4-5 hours. Serve over rice and enjoy! Very Yummy. I want to try it again with fresh tomatoes and home-made sauce next time but over all, I loved it.
4 lbs of chuck roast
2 cups beef broth
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped or sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
ground cumin to tast (palm full)
fresh cilanto chopped (about a palm full)
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs white vinegar
Combine all ingredients. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Serve over rice.
You get all sorts of results when experimenting in the kitchen. Some are better than others. This week I experienced the whole range.
Mmmm. 15 Bean Soup. I call it “Anything Goes 15 Bean Soup”. Because basically anything can go into it. My mom was big into soups and stews, and chowders and such in the colder months growing up. 15 bean soup is one that I never fully appreciated until I got older.
I start with this: Hurst’s 15 Bean Soup Mix. It is found where ever you find dried beans in your grocery store.
Mom prefers the original mix that isn’t as spicy. I like to heat it up with the Cajun mix and hot sausage. Either one of them is good. Generally I follow the cooking directions on the bag except I add every vegetable in the house – onion, peppers, carrots, celery, potatoes, spinach, etc. Go to town. I even added the left over rice from my veggie casserole this time. You might want to add a little extra water if you are adding lots of extras. The tougher veggies, like carrots, go in early and then you add the other stuff later. An easy and hearty meal. It does take a little planning though. This one is not ready in 30 minutes.
Yesterday I tried it in the crock pot for the first time. I chopped the veggies and cooked the sausage the night before. I also put the beans in water to soak overnight. In the morning I threw everything into the crock pot. I set it on low for 10 hours. I did not bring beans to a boil first since they were going to be cooking much longer than normal. It was great coming home with dinner ready to be served!
I love bruschetta. There isn’t anything about it I don’t like. So when I found about 15 bazillion recipes online for a chicken bruschetta bake I thought I had hit the jackpot. There were so many variations of this recipe with high ratings I assumed this had to be a no-brainer. Well, this must be like the hardboiled egg for me. I’ve tried it a couple of times and my husband and I are always just a tad disappointed. Not really bad – just meh. I have a couple of ideas of how to make it better for us but I am not sure I want to put in the time to figure it out. Go out and try it though. The rest of the world seems to think it is good, so it might just be the cook!
Doesn’t look so bad right? I’ll admit, the topping was pretty good it was just the casserole over all that didn’t meet expectations.
Flax Seed Crackers. I have been DYING to try these. Highly suggested to me a couple of years ago but was told I needed a food dehydrator. Well, since I wasn’t running out to get one of those, I saw that there were a very small amount of recipes online for how to make them in the oven. I thought I would give them a try. Eeeeew. Ok – maybe blame the cook again. I needed to make them flatter for one thing – so they were more like crackers. They were a little soft, which really wasn’t a big deal but the taste was AWFUL. Remember the old stereotype about healthy food tasting like cardboard? Well yep, I made healthy food that tasted like cardboard. I am sure someone out there has a good recipe. I think I need to just up about everything flavor-wise (garlic, pepper, parmesan cheese, red pepper, etc) and flatten them to see if that helps. This might get a second chance but not any time soon!
The dogs liked them but since flax is high in fiber and I didn’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night for a potty run, they only got the smallest of nibbles.
So – there you have it. The ups and downs in my kitchen recently!
I made my husband and his cousin dinner last night. I experimented with a chicken, veggie, and rice casserole. As they made their way into the kitchen I hear “It has broccoli in it” with a bit of disdain. See, my husband understands the benefits of vegetables. And usually I can get him to eat them with some exceptions but he probably wouldn’t cook vegetables for himself. His cousin on the other hand, he is a harder one to crack. Though, he is becoming accustomed to me slipping veggies into most meals I cook for him. Personally, I am not a huge broccoli fan but variety is key for me and I thought I would give it a try. I’m glad I did. I was going to write about this tonight but I am feeling inspired by the leftovers I just scarfed down. I will catch up with pictures tonight.
First thing I did was put two cups of rice on to cook. That would be two dry cups. I used Jasmine rice because that is what we like and had, but any variety would work. Just follow the directions on the bag or box and read below on my notes for the casserole – you will probably only need 1 cup.
Then I cut up two large skinless boneless chicken breasts and put them on a skillet to cook.
While the rice and chicken were cooking, I went to work cutting up veggies. Make sure you have a large mixing bowl ready. First came the broccoli. I had two heads and it came to 2 or 3 cups cut up. I am guessing here on the amount. I cut mine pretty small since I didn’t want big chunks – remember, not my favorite.
Next I added ¼ of a large onion and a large green bell pepper seeded chopped roughly. I grated 3 carrots directly into the bowl. For the record, I don’t peel carrots; I just clean them real well. I minced 2 large cloves of garlic directly into the bowl as well. I gave everything a quick toss.
I took the rice off the heat because it was done and gave the chicken a quick stir. They were pretty much done too.
I grated approximately ¾ of a small brick of sharp cheddar cheese into the mixing bowl. Then I put about 1 ½ cups of mayo into the veggie mixture. And a really good squeeze of prepared spicy brown mustard. Next I added the rice and the chicken. I used just over half my rice and saved the rest for tonight’s dinner. I added some freshly ground black pepper and gave everything a good stir. Make sure it is all combined and consistent. You may need to adjust your mayo/mustard content here. You want to make sure everything is good and moist but not too wet either. I ended up adding a little more of each.
I put all of this into a 9X13 casserole dish and baked at 350 degrees until warmed through – about 10 minutes.
Both of the guys went back for seconds on this one. Even with the broccoli. Look – they ate more than half of it!
I loved that the veggies were still crispy– just warmed through a little. I also love that you can easily adapt this recipe to your liking. Don’t like onion – no biggie, leave it out. Leave out the chicken for a great vegetarian meal or side dish. You can have fun playing with this one!
Since everything is cooked, you could prepare this a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to cook. Don’t ask me about freezing it. That is something I have never tried before!
1 cup of rice
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped to ½ to 1 inch cubes
2-3 cups broccoli, chopped
2 large bell pepper, chopped
¼ large yellow onion, chopped
3-4 carrots grated
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 ½ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard
2 garlic cloves minced
Cook rice per package instructions. Combine all ingredients and mix until distributed evenly. Transfer to 9X13 casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until warmed through.