...one woman's decision impacts her family's diet....how long can they last without a trip through the drive-thru?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kids CAN Cook!

It was decided at the beginning of the week that we would be making my Grandma Honey's meatballs for dinner on Sunday night. I was getting ready to make them when my 8 year old son asked "Mommy, can I cook?" I decided sure, at least let him get all of the ingredients together. So I called out what he needed, and he got everything together. Then he measured out the rice, put it in the pot and said he was ready for the next step. I helped him add water to the pot and turn on the stove, then told him how to assemble the meatballs.

At first, he said "ew" when I told him that he would be mushing the meat together with the egg and the breadcrumbs but after a couple minutes he was done. I then demonstrated how to roll them into a ball and after heating up the skillet for him, he carefully placed the little round balls of meat into the skillet all by himself.

He was such a cute little chef. He timed the rice, made sure to lift the lid whenever the bubbles started to come out over the edge, and carefully put the lid back into place. He even turned the meatballs in the skillet to make sure that they browned on every side and cooked throughly. I am so proud of him, and the meatballs tasted great. It's nice to know that I have another little helper around the kitchen.

Meatballs with Rice
Serves 6
1 cup dried rice prepared according to package directions and set aside
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb organic ground beef
1/4 c diced onion
2 Tbsp of bread crumbs (I used the Italian Seasoned kind)
1 egg
2 cloves garlic diced
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

1.) In a bowl, mix ground beef with bread crumbs, egg, worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion and salt/pepper to taste. 2.) heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet. Roll meat into small balls and cook evenly on each side in the heated skillet until meat balls are cooked through. 3.) drain grease from pan, add in 1 can of soup with 1/2 a can of water to the cooked meatballs. Stir until soup is mixed. Heat throughly until soup is warm and bubbling. Serve over rice.

I think I am going to have to pick up a book or two for the kids and let them cook more often!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Veggies

Tonight was an easy dish that I had thought might work, but didn't know if would taste good. I love garlic, I love pasta, so I was thinking that I could put the two together in a combo Asian/Italian dish. Yeah, I know, I am probably not the inventor of the dish, but I figured it was worth trying.

I got home from work and spent a little time being crafty. I helped my friend make her baby's footprints into a cute heart shaped project. It was a lot of fun, but she was determined to also capture her baby's handprints. Have you ever tried to get a 1 month old baby to hold their hand open long enough for you to put ink on the hand and put the inked hand onto a piece of paper? Yeah...it doesn't work so well. Here is how that scenario worked out for us:

1.) Mom latches baby on to help relax baby.
2.) I carefully pick up the baby's hand and then placed it onto the ink pad. This then causes the baby to unlatch, and wiggle around...oh...and clench her ink covered fist.

Ok...starting over....

1.) Wipe off ink.
2.) Re-latch baby.
3.) Position baby's hand over ink pad, then carefully spread the fingers.
4.) Coat the fingers and hand quickly with the non-toxic washable ink.
5.) Grab paper.
6.) Put baby's hand down on paper....oh...crud....ok...so baby decided to make a fist just as I was getting the paper close.

We repeated this madness four or five times before I finally gave up and started dinner. At least the footprints turned out great. Dinner managed to be made without a hitch, and absolutely no leftovers. Here's the recipe:

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Veggies
Serves: 5 or 6...depending on how much you eat!

1 box (13.25 oz) of Barilla Whole Grain Rotini Pasta
2 Tbsp Olive Oil (you might want more or less depending on how 'wet' you want your final dish)
2 tsp Sesame Seeds
Lemon Pepper
Whole Garlic Cloves (we used a whole head of garlic because we love garlic, you can use less if you want)
3 or 4 large organic chicken breasts, sliced into 1" strips
Teriyaki sauce
1 cup Frozen mixed veggies

1.) In a skillet, heat a little olive oil (not the 2 Tbsp) until hot and prepare pasta according to box directions or personal preference in a separate pot and continue with remaining directions while it is cooking. 2.) Add whole garlic cloves to hot oil....be careful, it might pop! Brown the garlic and then put them in a bowl off to the side. 3.) Add cut chicken into hot oil and cook throughly. Season with salt and lemon pepper to taste. Sprinkle Teriyaki sauce over chicken, again to taste. I found that 1 1/2 tsp worked well. Add in frozen veggies and toss together until fully cooked. 4.) In a large bowl, place olive oil, sesame seeds and sprinkle (1 tsp or so) of teriyaki sauce and whisk together. Drain pasta and toss with the oil mix coating thoroughly. Add cooked chicken and veggies to pasta and mix. Sprinkle bowl with a little more sesame seeds for garnish. Serve warm.

I have to admit, I don't know if I got everything in the recipe so if there is anything missing. If it doesn't turn out right, feel free to email me. I have been working long days at work and my mind is on 10-million things right now including baby handprints...my friend is still here, so here we go...attempt number seven....

The Reviews:
Dad: "It was delicious."
Friend: "It was yummy-licious."
9 year old Girl: "Yummy Wummy Wokka Mummy."
8 year old Boy: Thumbs up and wanted seconds.
19 month old Baby: When asked if dinner was good he nodded his head. I take that as a positive.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 1 (v.2.0): BBQ Chicken Salad...Revisited

I had fast food at lunch...I know, I know...but I spent two days away from home at a work related conference (it was GREAT!) and completely over-indulged in some absolutely amazing food. Including lunches that started with salads, then graduated to filling main dishes and finished off with an amazing desert. I got home late last night and didn't sleep very well, so...too tired me rolled out of bed this morning, got ready for work, then ran out the door without grabbing lunch. The baby was sleeping so the hubby couldn't bring me anything, and with gas prices going you know where I wasn't about to drive anywhere. Luckily, or unluckily, for me there is a fast food mexican place located at the gas station at my work. They have some pretty yumm-licious food there and I have to say that I was thrilled to indulge in a couple of shredded beef tacos. I walked to pick up my food, and enjoyed the nice weather on my stroll back to the office which helped lower the guilt level a smidgen.

After a couple of days of over eating and today's not so healthy lunch, my body was practically crying out for something healthy. So, we are re-visiting Day 4 of my blog from back in October (follow this link for the recipe and reviews: http://bit.ly/hNXaBr#).

Another bonus? The hubby cooked! He cut the chicken into chunks and didn't shred it, but it was still amazingly good! Kudos to my amazing husband, I am one lucky working mom.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again...

It's been a bit since I have been on to post anything...Between a mix of no internet, no time to cook, and the holidays, I was unable to post anything exciting. But, now I am re-dedicating myself. I am going to try to post at least 1 recipe a week, and hopefully will have time for even more.

I haven't had much time to cook, so my amazing husband has been cooking a lot. He has been experimenting with different recipes to keep our family entertained and on a little tighter budget than usual it has given him room for creativity (think meatball sandwiches, buffalo and barbecue chicken pizzas, pulled-chicken sandwiches etc) . I am very impressed with his culinary skills, and will be posting recipes from the both of us....

So...renewing my commitment to this blog and also renewing my commitment to no fast food. I have to admit, I have messed up a couple of times since I first started this blog. *sigh* I am back in the saddle though, and will be renewing my desire to make meals at home, without hitting the drive-thru. Wish us luck!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 16-Oven Fried Chicken

We have been internet-less here the last few days which is why there have been no posts. I've been craving fast food in the worst way for the last couple of days. Some french fries sound so good. It got to the point yesterday that I was actually tempted to take the leftovers from Panda Express that someone offered me.

Sadly....I did take a bite. Does that one bite push me all the way back to day 1? I have to say, it didn't taste as good as my orange chicken. I am definitely glad I have a good recipe for that now! I have to wonder, has anyone even tried my recipes? And if so, what do they think?? Is my family just humoring me when they say they've been good???

The other night (while internet-less) I made some oven fried chicken. Checking out some of the nutrition facts for fast food chicken, I realized that I am actually reducing my sodium intake quite a bit by cutting out those places. (Plus, have you heard about the chicken head found in a bucket of drumsticks? Ew....)

Here are the "nutrition" facts for an extra crispy thigh: (all info is in grams unless otherwise noted:)

I don't know how my oven fried chicken compares, and I know it's not as healthy as some other recipes out there. But my husband was quoted as saying it was "the best fried chicken I've had in awhile". I noramlly choose chicken that is boneless and skinless. But since the crispy skin is one of the things I love most about some fast food chicken, I left the skin on for this recipe. Turned out so good. I wasn't able to get a picture for this recipe. But I will try and get one uploaded later on. 

Oven-fried Chicken
serves: 6

6 meaty chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs, or breasts with skin on)
1/3 c each: cornmeal and seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp each: garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, dried rosemary (crushed up)
1/3 c (approx) grated parmesan
olive oil

1) pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. 2) take a shallow baking dish and pour about 2 Tbsp olive oil into pan. In a bowl, combine cornmeal, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, chili powder and rosemary. 3) take chicken pieces, dip them in the olive oil, roll them in the crumb mix and place them on the baking sheet. (add more olive oil if needed). Make sure that none of the chicken pieces are touching. Sprinkle each crumb coated piece with a little parmesan cheese. 4) bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 min or until the chicken is cooked through, and crust is crispy. There should be no pink in the chicken, and the juices should run clear. 

Serve with mashed potatoes, or you can toss some carrots and onions in the baking dish along with the chicken to have some roast veggies. I would add them when you have about 15 minutes left. 

The family reviews:
Dad: "This is the best friend chicken I've had in a long time. I wish you would have made all the chicken we had, not just 6 pieces."

9 year old girl: "Is there more? That was really good."

8 year old boy: "I need a knife and fork to eat the chicken, but it is soooo good."

Baby: For once, there was not a single crumb of food under his high chair. He ate it all.

Side note: My husband says that I am "fired" for eating a bite of fast food yesterday. He says that he has still not had a single bite of fast food. Good for him. I am really proud of him. And you know what....I work with a bunch of people who eat fast food everyday. Do you know how hard it is to resist when your entire office smells of french fries....or panda....or.....? Well, you get the picture.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 12-Spaghetti

Ok, maybe this blog title is a little deceiving. It's not real spaghetti. And, you might be asking yourself what does spaghetti have to do with fast food....well, I'll explain both.

First, we have a fast food (drive-thru) restaurant here in Temecula that serves Italian food, including, but not limited to spaghetti. Second, the reason this is recipe does not include real spaghetti is because it's made with spaghetti squash.

Now, if you are like my husband, your reaction might be "Ew, I do not like squash." And if it is, good! Because this recipe is a great way to eat squash if you don't like it! (It was actually really funny trying to get him to try it...he was so reluctant, and when he finally tasted it, he couldn't resist having more than one serving!)

Spaghetti......Squash (casserole)
serves: 6

1 small spaghetti squash (1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
1/2 c water
1 lb organic ground beef (can substitute ground turkey)
1/2 c diced red onion
1/2 c diced sweet red, yellow and orange peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 vine ripe organic tomatoes, cut into small chunks
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
Salt (I used 1/4 tsp)
Pepper (I used 1/4 tsp)
Olive Oil
1 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese

1) pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out (and discard) seeds. Place cut side down in baking dish, and add water. Cover and bake for 20-30 min or until a fork can be easily inserted into skin. After cooking, reduce heat to 350 degrees. 2) while squash is cooking, cook ground beef in a warm skillet (wiped with olive oil), along with onion, red yellow and orange peppers, and garlic until meat is browned and cooked thoroughly, drain off any excess liquid. 3) while meat is browning, carefully scoop out squash with a fork, separating strands to resemble the pasta this squash is named after. 4) when meat is cooked, add tomatoes, italian seasoning, salt and pepper (to taste) and squash. Cook, stirring slowly for 1-2 minutes, or until any remaining liquid is absorbed and ingredients are mixed well. Squash should not be lumped together, but stringy like pasta. 5) transfer ingredients into an un-greased 2qt baking dish, cover with cheese, and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. (This dish is like a casserole)

(There is no picture, because honestly the dish doesn't look as good as it tastes. All you could really see in the picture was the melted cheese. If you comment and request a picture, I will post it.)

The family reviews:
Dad: "The taste was delicious, I couldn't tell I was eating squash. However, the texture was not like pasta. I would eat it again. I was surprised by this dish!"

9 year old girl: "It was super delicious!"

8 year old boy: "I don't like the cheese, but I want another helping of the inside stuff."

Baby: Ate his before the rest of us had a chance to sit down at the table.

Success all around. I am glad I got my husband to eat the squash, he doesn't really eat a lot of cooked veggies unless they are deep-fried. It's great that he ate more than one serving, it just proved to me that he wasn't just being nice by eating two helpings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 10 and 11-Pumpkin Pie

Yesterday morning we decided to take a trip down to the Temecula Farmer's Market in Old Town Temecula (Saturdays until 12pm). It had been awhile since we had gone, and since the weather was nice we were all pretty excited about going.

In the past, I had found an organic cabbage that was bigger than my head, so you never know what amazing things you will find when you go. We managed to find some great veggies, including a pie pumpkin. I love baking and cooking, but have never had any formal training in either except from what I picked up from my Grandma Honey growing up. That's why a lot of my recipes are comfort food items, it's what I remember her making when I was a kid. So, when we found the pumpkin, my husband instantly wanted me to try to make pie.

I've made pies....apple caramel, apple cranberry, plain old apple, blueberry, but never....never....pumpkin. Unless of course it was frozen and only required heating. This sounded like a fun challenge to me, and I was curious if I could actually do it. I don't know if it was the early morning adventures in the Farmer's Market that added to my confidence, but I thought that if anyone could make a pumpkin pie from scratch, then it would be me. So, we bought the little pumpkin, and headed on our way home with the rest of our treasures. (Which included: okra, a tiger melon that the baby picked out, some jujubes, and a spaghetti squash for Monday's dinner.)

Where to start....well, I have some cook books, so I figured that I would look through those and see what I could find. First, my beat up Better Homes and Gardens. Found the section and the page, but...it requires 3 cups canned pumpkin. Ok....I know I could get 3 cups cooked pumpkin out of my pumpkin, but it wouldn't be the same.

Next, my Southern Living at home cookbook. Again, 3 cups canned pumpkin. A little disappointing. I have a very old copy of the Joy of Cooking, but it is very old, and a little hard to read, and since I was a little frustrated by this point I decided to just google a recipe.

I found several, and after comparing notes, comments, ingredients and reviews I combined the most common elements into my own recipe. And I used the crust recipe from my Southern Living at home book.

All I have to say is that pumpkin pie should never come out of a can or box again. It was worth the steaming, the peeling, the rolling and cooling of the dough, and every other little detail that went into it. The pie is already gone. I even made cinnamon whip cream from scratch to go on top. My new true love is homemade pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin.

It was quite the adventurous day.

Today has been a lot more low-key. We had a great morning at church (iamridgeline.com to hear the message), followed by an awesome nap. Tonight it's just me and the baby at home while my hubby is at Elevate (Ridgeline's teen group), so I think we are going to watch some movies, read some books and make something simple for dinner. Tomorrow night: Spaghetti Casserole. The only reason Spaghetti is on my fast food list is because we have an Italian restaurant here in town that is a drive-thru.

I suggest making the crust as the pumpkin is steaming so it has proper time to cool in the fridge. You can use a store bought crust if you wish, but it will never be the same as making it yourself.

Pumpkin Pie
makes 2- 9"pies which should serve lots, but if you are like us, then it won't last long

Organic Pie Pumpkin (enough to make 3 cups pureed pumpkin)
1 c sugar (or 3/4 c honey, but the pie will be more dense)
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp each: ground cloves, ground allspice
1/2 tsp each: ground ginger, vanilla extract, salt
4 large eggs (whisk until a little foamy in small bowl before adding to ingredients)
18 oz non fat evaporated milk
2 pie crusts in 2- 9 in pie plates (use your favorite recipe)

1) was outside of pumpkin using warm water, but no soap. Dry with a clean towel, and cut in half. 2) scrape out the insides, and if you wish, save the seeds (to roast, or grow). 3) cut pumpkin in chunks, removing stem but leaving peel intact. Steam in a steamer pot on the stove, the chunks of pumpkin until tender (a fork should easily slide into the skin and flesh) 6) scoop out the flesh from the peel, discarding the peel. Place the flesh into a food processor (or blender) and puree until smooth. 7) in a large bowl, mix the contents for your pie: sugar (or honey), cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground ginger, salt vanilla. After you stir dry ingredients well, add your whisked eggs, 3 cups pumpkin puree, and evaporated milk. Stir until all ingredients are mixed well. 8) pour pie mix into pie crusts, leaving 1/2" room from edge of crust to allow for expansion while baking. 9) bake at 425 degrees for the first 15 minutes (helps pie to set), then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of pies comes out clean. Allow pie to cool before serving. Serve with whipped topping or ice cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream

1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tbsp confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar, you can use more or less depending on how sweet you want your cream)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1) using a mixer, whisk cream for 1 minute. 2) slowly add in remaining ingredients and mix until texture changes from cream to a light and fluffy whipped topping. (Don't whisk too long or you might end up with butter!) 3) use to top pie, ice cream, hot cocoa, or anything else that might require a little whipped topping!

The family reviews:
Dad: "Oh babe.....Oh, BABE! This is sooo good. Mmmmm....."

Baby: we normally don't give him sweets, so he was super excited to get some. Since it was made with organic ingredients, and didn't have any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, I felt alright giving him a sliver. Needless to say, he devoured every crumb.

Picky Pregnant Friend #2: "It was delicious! Flaky warm crust....cinnamon pumpkin filling. I don't know what else to say, it was amazing." (it's actually funny, she saw on my Facebook page that I had made pie, so she sent me a text to see how it was, of course I invited her over for some and I personally think I made her night, especially since I sent her home with 2 pieces.)

Picky Pregnant Friend #2's Boyfriend: "Cinnamony!"

Super-athletic Friend: "I normally don't eat sweets. This pie was a little slice of heaven."

Side note: I consider my friends family, so when they share food with us, I will be posting their reviews along with my family's. I just want to clear that up in case anyone is wondering why I have friends listed under family.