Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pesto Chicken Pasta

It was supposed to be fajita night last night but I didn't have sour cream. Ack! I can't do mexican without sour cream! So I switched to chicken and pasta. Generally we sautee the chicken and throw it on pasta and peas with white sauce from the jar. But I really do hate that white sauce in a jar... I always think I'll like it, but I don't! I generally can thin it out with some milk but it's still always too rich and flavorless at the same time - if that makes sense. And making the pesto sauce from the dry package takes another pot I have to watch. The taste doesn't see to match the work load involved. So I went in a new direction.

Pesto Chicken Pasta

start your penne pasta first
add frozen peas half way through cooking your pasta
(just throw them in the water)

heat your oil (thinly coat the entire bottom of the pan)
add chopped bacon pieces (give them a minute head start)
add your chicken pieces
add a handful of sliced up artichoke hearts
add onion powder & garlic to season
add 1/2 a package of Knorr Pesto Sauce Mix
(add dry, do not make into a sauce)
keep cooking all this together until the chicken is done - use more oil if things get dry

drain the pasta and peas but keep 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking water
add that cooking water back in
plus 2 tsp of butter
plus your yummy chicken and pesto sautee
top with cheese!

It's a very normal and easy recipe. I think you'll like it!
Sorry I'm not very technical in my recipes. I can't measure like I've said before! My friends sometimes call to clarify. Feel free to comment here if needed!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Crock Pot Chili

Sunday was the famous chili-lunch at church so it's time to share my winter favorite: Sweet and Spicy Crock Pot Chili! I don't eat soup much but I'll eat a hearty chowder or this chili anytime! This one is not messing around!

I haven't used the actual recipe in a while. I actually just found it. My recipes are printed sheets of paper stuffed inside my Better Homes and Gardens Bridal cook book. One cook book of 4 I own. It's the biggest so it seems to make the best home.

This recipe was sent via e-mail from my fabulous sister-in-law and is now cut in two pieces as it almost died being mistaken for scrap paper at work! I'm editing it as I type to show exactly how I do it.

Throw in your crock pot in the am on low:
1 lb ground beef - brown and drain
15 oz tomato sauce
14 oz petite diced tomatoes
2 14 oz cans of chili beans drained
1/2 a large onion chopped and sauteed
two cloves of garlic chopped finely and sauteed with onions
(if you're feeling lazy onion powder and garlic powder will do)
1 1/2 tbsp of chili powder
1 pack of McCormicks chili seasoning
1/3 cup brown sugar

Taste for final sugar, spice, or salt additions.
Serve with cour cream and/or cheese.
Don't be afraid to double the recipe.

I can't believe I gave you the recipe. I like to be the one getting all the compliments. Use this power wisely!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Orange Julius Knock-Off

Want a sweet treat this weekend? This is my go-to Orange Julius knock-off recipe.

Speaking of Orange Julius, when I went to Dairy Queen last night in my robe and untied tennys (I used the drive thru but they can still see you I realized) I noticed a sign in the window. They now serve real Orange Julius drinks! I know they aren't as popular as they were in the 90's but I hope they never die. LONG LIVE THE JULIUS!

Here's what I make - I got it from this guy

6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8-9 ice cubes

It's a bit sweet so you may want to skimp on the concentrate and vanilla just a tad.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lasagna Filling Upgrade

I had waaaay too many lasagna noodles in the pantry so it was time for some cookin! Finding myself low on cheese I threw in a 1/2 a jar of Alfredo sauce.

That's why Tim and I drink when we cook together. He gets super aggressive with his spices, looking over my shoulder all the time, and I like substituting ingredients that make him say "ew" a lot. There is a lot of laughing and hitting happening in my tiny kitchen these nights. That's probably why we only cook together once a week.

But I think we are on to something here! I want to use this new lasagna filling whenever I can now. Try making your traditional lasagna {layering noodles, tomato sauce, ground beef, mozzarella} and add:

16 oz Ricotta Cheese
1 jar Alfredo Sauce
1/2 package of frozen spinach
1 beat egg
garlic powder
pinch of salt
{mixed all together}

It would have been perfect it I didn't have to skimp on the mozzarella. There's nothing better than a thick, hot layer of cheese baked on top of .... well, everything.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Citrus-Green Juice

Oh man! I just made a really good smoothie. I wasn't going to share but now I feel I have to. I think you'll like it!

by my estimation it was:

1/3 a blender of kale
3 large beet greens I had left over
3 ice cubes
4 large baby carrots or one large carrot
5 whole frozen strawberries
1/2 can of pineapple + juice
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup orange juice

makes 2 large glasses

It was more of a juice consistency than a smoothie, goes down easy!
Let me know if you try it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Okay I took on a not-so-normal food challenge. I have only had jalapeno poppers like twice in my life, and although I don't eat a lot of spicy food, I love a good popper! It's all about the hot cream cheese I think! Jalapenos were on sale this week and since Tim doesn't really like them I made a batch for my church's Ladies Bunco Night tonight.

I only accomplished making one pan. These are exhausting! You have to cut, mix, stuff, batter, bake. So only do this if you're really feeling it. But they are so much fun to eat! A great party food for sure. I made mine smaller because I didn't buy as many jalapenos so it would be the same work to do a double batch with more jalapenos cut into larger slices.

I based my recipe on Emeril's.

I thought it would be more fun to have the jalapenos in a loop instead of a boat half so I cut into thirds and hollowed out with the end of my potato peeler. If you have a baby spoon around like me that's a great way to stuff the loops.

My cheese mixture was:
cream cheese
mozzarella cheese
chili powder

Wow it's awesome all baked together!

batter them up with
eggs and a little milk
panko crumbs seasoned with your favorites

Bake 350* for 30 minutes or so.

And you, my friend, have a popper! If I can do it, so can you!

P.S. The jalapeno will sting your hands, eyes, nose, etc. So you need to be a little careful if you are a pepper virgin like me. Maybe that is why Emeril and Co. used the boat method, so that you don't have to touch the seeds much with your hands (and the panko stuck well to the thick cheese filling). So if you want to follow their lead I won't be offended.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegetables & Kids

You've seen me "hide" veggies from my kids already. (Here and here) But I wanted to let you know my full attack when it comes to vegetables and kids in case you need some help or encouragement.

I have a two beliefs I want to convey to my children:

(1) Vegetables and other healthy foods are important. So important that you will not always like them but you need to eat them anyway. This also transfers from the dinner table to life in many ways. Is it easy to love that person that is mean to you? No. But you need to do it anyway. Do you think that law is a good one? No. But you need to obey it as all authority is from God and the world does not revolve around you.

(2) Vegetables and healthy foods can taste great! We can work as a family to make them some of our favorite dishes. If there are veggies that your kids tend to like, be kind and feed them those foods more then the ones they hate. For example: G Boy hates peas. He has to eat them every so often because Tim and I love them, and they are a cheap and easy frozen vitamin resource, but he LOVES squash soup, sweet potatoes, green juice, and broccoli so I try to make those options available anytime I can. Vegetables should not always be a disgusting experience!

With those two beliefs in place I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get them done.

(1) Make it a snack. Anytime your child "needs" a snack offer healthy foods. 90% of the time around here I offer a fruit or vegetable. If they don't want it, that's fine. They can obviously wait until the next meal. Most of the time G boy will say no first and then 10 minutes later say, "yeah, I think I'll eat those carrots now." And the more you do it the more they will get into the routine.

(2) Make it fun.
- Put your veggies in the blender for a green smoothie. And do it TOGETHER!
- Let your child eat their peas with a toothpick
- Give them ranch for dipping. C Baby loves dipping!
- Cook them differently or "hide" them in their favorite foods but tell them they are there.

(3) Make it non-negotiable. If my kids wish to stay at the dinner table, have more of something, or have dessert, the good and the bad on that plate needs to be eaten WITHOUT more than one complaint. Feel free to insist veggies be eaten before the chicken and bread will come out.

It can be done! Good luck!