Monday, February 28, 2011

Baked Chicken Bites

It seems like once you have kids most of your meals revolve around chicken nuggets. I have eaten more chick-fil-a in the past 3 years than my entire life prior to kids. So... with so much of my time and money going to chick-fil-a I created a baked chicken nugget that Grant and the kiddos like. It's also super fast! My sister in law made chicken nuggets last Easter by coating them in Panko (japanese bread crumbs, sold by the seafood counter) and frying them. While they were super delicious, it was too time consuming. This is my version of her recipe.

Mix 1 egg, 1/4c of milk, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add diced chicken breast to bowl and stir to coat.

(you can cut up your ckn anyway your family likes it.... strips, nuggets, etc) Pour in Panko and stir. (or pour Panko on a plate to coat chicken if that is easier)

Spread onto a foil covered baking sheet and spray with Pam or drizzle a little olive oil over chicken (this is what makes them brown and crispy) Bake for 20 minutes at 350*.

Honey Mustard:
Follow recipe above only add 2T dijon mustard and 4T honey to milk and egg mixture.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Smothered Pork Chops

Same as most men, Grant loves pork chops! Me not so much. So I have a quick, cheap pork chop recipe that works when he makes the request.

Smothered Mustard Pork Chops:

Start by frying up the boneless pork chops in about 1T of oil over med-high heat. I use the super cheap little breakfast chops, only $4 for a pkg.

They cook quickly (4-5 min on each side) Oh, and be sure to salt and pepper them before frying.
Remove from skillet and set aside.

With the same skillet on med-high heat saute' chopped onion and mushrooms (I used 3 slices of onion and 6 mushrooms) The pan should have a crust forming on the bottom from cooking everything at a high temp.... this is what you want b/c it gives your gravy a good flavor. Once onions and mushrooms are done, slowly pour in 1/2c chicken broth. This will deglaze your pan. (it takes all the yummy burned bits and incorporates it into your sauce)

Once the broth is simmering, add 2T of dijon mustard, whisk, then 1/2 c of half/half, or heavy cream. Lower your heat to low, return your chops until ready to serve.

I serve mine over rice. Hope you like them!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines Dinner

So with the cost of a nice dinner, wine, babysitter, pizza for the babysitter, tip, valet, etc..... Grant and I put the kids to bed at 7 and made our own fancy Valentines dinner. We had more fun cooking together, drinking wine (that was not bought by the glass), and talking than we would have waiting for a table at a nice restaurant. So here are our recipes from last night.

Appetizer: Steamed Lobster Tail in garlic herb butter

I have never made lobster before, so this was an experiment as most things are in our house. Whole Foods had 2 Maine lobster tails on sale (frozen). I let them thaw in the fridge for the day.
Bring about 1 inch of salted water to a rapid boil in large pot. I used my vegetable steam basket, but you could use your spaghetti colander if you don't have one. Place basket over boiling water (the lobsters should not be touching the water, and cover with a lid. Steam for 5 mins. (Don't over cook)
I used my kitchen shears to crack them open and cut into bite sized pieces. I poured melted butter with salt, garlic, thyme, and oregano on top. They turned out amazing!! (and only $12).

Salad: Arugula, with dates, pecans, and brie
The salad is pretty self explanatory.... store bought Arugula, chopped fresh dates (which I am addicted to!) chopped pecans, and cubed Brie cheese (which is tricky since it is such a soft cheese. I tossed the whole thing with a store bought whole grain mustard vinaigrette. (I am usually super against store bought dressings and croutons.... however this worked well).

Dinner: Rack of Lamb with Roasted Veggies

Lamb marinade:
In a bowl: Peel and chop 1 whole garlic pod, coarsely chop 1 bunch of cilantro, juice from 1 fresh squeezed lemon, 3T Kosher salt, 2T pepper, 1/2c of olive oil ( you may need more or less oil depending on the size of lamb rack you buy, it just needs to coat the meat) Once combined put marinade in a large freezer bag with the lamb and toss it back into the fridge till time to cook.

Grant did the grilling.... we sat out the lamb about 30min before time to put it on the grill (it's a Grant thing, something about room temp, blah, blah) He seared the lamb over direct flames on both sides, then moved it into an indirect heat for 15min (for medium rare)

It was the most amazing rack of lamb I have ever had!! Hope it works out this weel next time :)

Roasted vegetable:
I just grabbed a few fresh asparagus spears and broke the bottom ends off (about an inch), peeled a few baby carrots, tossed with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.

Roast for 35 minutes at 425*. Ummmmm! The carmalize and get sweet and crunchy!

COLD weather, HOT food

With all ice and below freezing temps here in Houston, I have been cooking up some hot and spicy food to keep us warm. Even though the ice ruined my girls weekend to Austin, I put on a smiley face and made Grant's 2 favorite cold weather treats.

Chicken Tortilla Soup:
compliments of Sharon Galvan

Puree in food processor: 6 cloves of garlic, 1 small onion, 2 fresh jalapenos (i remove the seeds) 1 can of Rotel, and 1 bunch of cilantro (i cut off the stems)

In a soup pot, bring 14-150z of chicken stock to a boil, stir in above puree, 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce, and 1T salt. Simmer for 1 hour.
Shred a rotisserie chicken and set aside. (or cook and shred your own ckn, I just think this is much faster)
Put tortilla strips or chips in a soup bowl, top with shredded ckn and sliced avocado.

Laddle broth over ckn and chips, top with shredded cheese, green onion, or sour cream!

Boneless Hot Wings
I prepare my hot wings a lot like fried chicken.
Cut Chicken into bite sized chuncks. Dip into egg batter (1 egg beaten together with 1/3c milk) then dip into flour.

All these battered little chickens get dunked into hot grease (super healthy I know) I use Crisco at 350* (if you use a deep fryer the temp can be set... if you use a skillet, I set it on med/high heat 8) They take about 5-7 mins. Place them on paper towels to drain the grease, then throw them in a bowl and sauce em'! I bought sauce this go round and it was super yummy, but you can make your own with just melted butter, garlic powder, and Tabasco.

Since my grease was hot and my kitchen a mess, I threw some potatoes into the food processor on slice mode, then tossed those into the grease for some homemade chips.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Not so healthy turkey enchiladas

I had Mexican food on my mind Sunday as I strolled through HEB. I was thinking enchiladas.... maybe roasted veggie, or ckn with sour cream sauce. Then I passed the rotisserie chicken station, and there among the chickens was a yummy looking roasted turkey breast. It was enormous, and only $5. I grabbed it up for my enchiladas! With the meat already cooked I could throw them together quickly and have AVa in bed before 7! This was somewhat of an experiment. My friend Kyra was here for my first run at enchiladas a year ago, so I used a similar recipe this time.

Turkey and Spinach Enchiladas

Preheat oven 350*
In a skillet over medium high heat, saute' half an onion sliced however you like in 3T of butter, once it browns up a little, add 1 pkg of baby spinach (I buy the bags over by the pre packaged salads, b/c it is washed and ready to go, but any fresh spinach will work) cook with onions until spinach is wilted.

Put spinach and onion mixture into a bowl with 1 8oz pkg of softened cream cheese. (this is what will hold the filling together) Add to the mixture shredded turkey (I used 2 forks to shred the turkey breast and had meat leftover, if you want to use a ckn instead, just shred the rotisserie ckn the same) stir together and fill flour tortillas with the mixture, and line in baking dish. Once your baking dish is filled with the enchiladas, pour sauce over all the enchiladas and top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 min.

Combine 1/2 jar of green salsa (any salsa will work) with 8 oz sour cream

Mac n' Cheese

My macaroni and cheese is the most requested recipe I have! It came about last year at Ron's 50th Birthday. We had a family dinner at Pappa's Steakhouse, and my 5 month pregnant appetite fixated on the macaroni and cheese. It was the most delicious pasta I have ever tasted! The waiter informed us it was made of a combination of cheeses, one of which is Havarti. Since I love Havarti and usually have it in my cheese drawer at home :) I started working on this yummy recreation.

Rachel's Mac n' Cheese
Preheat oven to 350*
Boil 2 cups of macaroni noodles, drain and set aside
In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat melt 2T butter, whisk in 2T flour, and cook till light brown (about 2 min) whisk in 2 cups heavy cream (yes, you can use half and half or even milk, but it will not be as rich and delicious) add in 1T of salt, pepper, and dry mustard. continue to whisk until warm and bubbly. whisk in 2 cups of shredded Havarti cheese. continue to whisk until cheese is melted (you may need to turn the heat down just a tad during all this) Once melted, remove from heat and add macaroni into mixture and stir. pour mixture into baking dish and top with breadcrumb topping. Bake at 350* for 30 min. Enjoy the compliments from family and friends, that you are the most amazing cook on the planet:)

Breadcrumb topping:
1c Progressive breadcrumbs (i use the garlic and herb)
1/2c parmasean cheese
3T melted butter
combine and spread over mac n' cheese mixture.

Alternative topping:
Mix 2c panko breadcrumbs and 1c shredded mozzarella, spread over mixture, then drizzle 3T melted butter over topping and bake