Supper: Quinoa and vegetables

Do you ever have those days when you think about eating healthy, exercising more, etc.? I spend a lot of time thinking about what food to make that is healthy and will help us improve our cardiac conditions and cholesterol numbers, lose a little weight, and feel better overall. I think about brown rice, quinoa, chia seeds (what am I going to do with those chia seeds in my pantry?). I think I may even engage in fantasy thinking in that if I think hard enough about losing weight, I could actually lose some poundage. And then I watch the Great British Baking Show, get a new Cook’s magazine, and see interesting looking baked goods in my FB feed. What to do?

In my pantry there is healthy food. I found this fabulous quinoa/rice mixture that cooks up in ten minutes. Yay! No rinsing required.  I figured I should make a casserole or salad of some sort. I found two fully cooked turkey drumsticks in my freezer and some homemade broth. I have a package of frozen tri-color peppers and onions. I could assemble this all together and that would be supper.

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Ingredients are approximate amounts: Serves 4

  • 4 servings quinoa/rice mixture (made by Minute Rice), cooked according to package
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup mixed peppers and onion strips
  • 1 cup broth
  • about 2 cups diced cooked turkey from two drumsticks
  • 1 cup frozen peas, added at the last because it looked like it needed more vegetable and more color

Easy directions: saute peppers and onions in the olive oil in large enough skillet to accommodate the quinoa mixture as well. Stir in the turkey then add the cooked grains and 1/2 the broth. Stir to mix on low heat. Add the frozen peas and the rest of the broth; stir on the heat for a few minutes then turn off heat, cover skillet and let sit for 5-10 minutes. I let it sit to steam the peas a bit and because Hubby wasn’t home yet.

If your broth is seasoned that might be sufficient with some salt and pepper. I added a pinch of tandoori seasoning but that was not adequate. Hubby ate his with a healthy sprinkling of Worcestershire Sauce. Me, too, and that did the trick.

This is a basic casserole with meat and grains and vegetables. Any of these three ingredients can be changed up at whim and/or depending on what you have on hand. My mother would throw all the leftovers in one pot and cook them…usually she would over-cook them. Sorry, Mom, but that’s the way it was!

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Ginger Chicken in Crock-pot

Hubby and I were driving on Main Street and noticed a Thai ice cream shop. So he says “ginger ice cream is really good”. Somehow the conversation ran on to ginger chicken, and then we ordered Chinese take-out after our camping weekend. This all inspired me to actually cook something other than chicken thighs on the grill and/or hamburgers and/or tuna noodle salad. So here is my version of Ginger Chicken with Vegetables and Rice. The amounts are approximations as I did not measure. This is why I am not writing a cookbook. No editor worth her salt would let this pass!

 

 

Get out your handy dandy crock-pot and supper will be ready when you get home from work. And the oven doesn’t have to heat up the house.

  • 4 chicken breasts; these were four medium-sized frozen ones
  • thumb sized chunk of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • one onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots,sliced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup broth
  • a good sized squirt of Dijon mustard
  • at least one Tablespoon of honey
  • a shake or two of garlic powder; ideally one wold use minced garlic but I forgot about the garlic until I was putting the lid on the pot.

I put all of the above in the crock-pot, vegetables on bottom, and cook on low for 7-8 hours. When I got home from work I added the following:

  • 1/2-3/4 cup frozen mixed peppers; if I had fresh I would have chopped these and put them in at the beginning.
  • 1/2-1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 pint leftover rice from the Chinese restaurant

Stir this to mix all and continue to cook on low (or high) to get everything hot, about one more hour. I served this in bowls and had leftovers for the next night.

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So this is how I cook. I throw things together. The above could be made with all fresh vegetables if you have them. The rice could be kept separate or left out altogether. You could use more broth if you like a more soup-y dish. One could serve it with soy sauce. I will probably make something like this again but it won’t be exact. Most of you home cooks out there do this same thing.

 

Ordinary cooking!

If you are like me, you, and mostly it is the woman—not to negate the men who do so, just go about fixing dinner without thought to innovation and creativity. Those of us who rarely use processed or prepared foods or take out fast-food, there is a general routine and rotation from pantry and freezer staples. What are yours?

In my kitchen pantry I usually have canned tomatoes, several types of canned beans, sometimes canned fruit, pasta of a variety of shapes, rice and grains, vinegar, oils, etc. in the freezer there is a variety of meats (fish filet, chicken breasts and thighs, small pork roast, the occasional rack of ribs, and burger patties) along with the various packages of frozen vegetables. Sometimes there are pie crusts or pie dough, frozen pirogi or ravioli, and the occasional pizza. We like the cheap but tasty pizzas available at the Aldi discount grocery store. Actually in my freezer I still have some venison sausage from the deer my son-in-law shot earlier this year. Breakfast strata anyone?

I don’t know how some of you are so creative all the time. I get tired, tired, tired! So I just make things up to cook, or to liven up the ordinary food. So browsing on Facebook I saw one of those videos on quickly preparing ginger chicken. I rarely pay attention to all the ingredients or the amounts or the directions.

So I try it on fish. Why not?

There is garlic (yes, I bought the jarred kind. My fresh garlic kind of got old and decrepit on me), fresh ginger root (this keeps in the freezer for millennia), soy sauce, and mixed vegetables on the side. I minced a nub of ginger root, added a pinch of garlic, and dumped that in the ramekin with some soy sauce. Trust me, I used those “exact” amounts! 🙂 I baked the four fish filet and brushed on the juice toward the end of the baking time. It smelled very good. I may have added a squeeze of honey as well.

So then I tried it on chicken…two chicken breasts, one onion, peas and carrots, and quick cooking mixed grains (from Aldi). This worked out well too.

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Directions: dice chicken and cook through in a bit of olive oil. Mince the ginger root, bit of garlic, add soy sauce, a bit of honey, and add to the skillet with the chicken. The amounts depend on your taste. Separately I saute the onion in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, then add the peas and carrots. Remove to a bowl. Cook the grains as per the package. I had planned to have a “rice pilaf” type dish as a side, but at the last minute dumped the almost cooked grains and the peas and carrots into the big skillet with the chicken. This I covered and let simmer a bit more until Hubby came home and dinner was served.

 

So I made Barbecue Chicken Pizza!

As I had mentioned previously I was thinking of making a pizza in my cast iron skillet. Well, I made the pizza but not in the cast iron. And I got to use my handy-dandy pie circle gadget that I just bought. Silly item: a bag to roll out pie crust into a perfect circle.

I used my favorite pizza crust recipe. I found this years ago on allrecipes.com.  It is a yeast dough but there is no rising time. It is ready to go as soon as it comes together.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix in the oil and water. When dough forms spread it on a large pizza pan. Top as desired. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

I had Hubby take the meat off of 4 chicken thighs that had already been barbecued. He also sliced an onion. We made a bit more sauce with ketchup (1/4 cup), sriracha (1/8 cup), and Worcestershire sauce (1/8 cup). I had seen that combination somewhere on line, most likely one of those Facebook food videos. You can use more or less sriracha depending on how hot you like your sauce. I have also substituted apple cider vinegar for the Worcestershire sauce.

Spread the sauce on the dough, scatter the onion and the chicken pieces, top with cheese of your choice. This is one of those Monterrey jack and cheddar blends.

It was a very tasty pizza.

Chicken with Lemons and Olives

I like the idea of Mediterranean cooking. I have a variety of cookbooks that are published in the UK. I go through and mark my cookbooks for the recipes I want to try. I know I have done a lemon chicken with garlic before but this is a bit different. The only garlic in this one is the garlic infused chicken broth I used.

I had not been inspired by any recipes in particular lately. We have been eating plain food: cheeseburgers on toast, frozen filet of fish, chicken pot pie, chili, grilled Italian sausages, scrambled eggs. Baking has been put off due to stomach issues and wanting to lose a bit of weight. What am I supposed to do in my kitchen?

So I wanted to put together a nice dinner. And although I had planned to make a shepherd pie I found I did not have ground meat, but did have chicken. So I looked through my Mediterranean cookbook and found this one. The combination of spices sounded so tasty. I really wanted to use the crockpot and not have to do all the cooking when I came home from work. So I got out the crockpot and just threw it all in there. Well, I made the recipe my own. Here is what I did.

  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup garlic-infused chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • a bit of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

I wanted to throw everything in the crockpot and do nothing else. But I decided to briefly saute the onion with the ginger in a bit of olive oil. I then placed this in the bottom of the crockpot. I mixed the dry ingredients together and rubbed this on the chicken before placing them on top of the onion in the pot. I drizzled the honey on top and then added the broth. I set the pot on low and left it from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM. At four I turned it down to the keep warm setting and added the lemon and olives. We ate dinner at 6:00 PM.

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I served this with a salad and couscous. I skillet toasted some walnuts and added them to the couscous along with a sprinkling of dried parsley and crumbled feta cheese. Dinner was a hit and there are leftovers for tomorrow night’s supper. Yea!

There’s a hole in my kitchen!

 

20170114_205124557_iosYes, there is a hole in my kitchen ceiling this weekend. Hubby put it there. We needed to check the plumbing from our less-than-two-year-old new bathtub. About a month after it was installed water came leaking down through the ceiling. We had the contractor bring his plumber back out but nothing was wrong. The water leak never happened again until this past week. We sort of, maybe, figured out what could have happened so off we go to the local hardware store for a plumber’s wrench. Hubby tightens a connection and we are hoping for the best. We have not tested it yet. Perhaps we should put a hinge on this panel of ceiling for easy access should it happen again?

Meanwhile, what to cook? What to bake? I have not gotten around to anything citrus-y yet even while the grapefruits, oranges, and lemons linger in the bottom of the fridge. But there are two jars of cherries in the pantry. But first…

Friday evening and what to have for dinner? There is an “emergency pizza” in the freezer but that does not appeal. Fish filet from a frozen box and what to serve with? Rice pilaf comes to mind. I go back and forth in my thinking about whether it should be sweet or savory. I pull out a bunch of ingredients:

  • nub of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 smallish carrot, sliced
  • tops of green onions, sliced
  • one clementine
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup banana peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers, from a jar (not shown here!)
  • coconut oil for sauteing
  • soy sauce for seasoning
  • garlic infused beef broth for seasoning as well
  • brown rice, this is the kind that cooks in 10 minutes in boiling water

I basically just pulled out stuff I thought fit in a pilaf. I had mushrooms but they smelled funny so I did not use them. I must stop buying mushrooms unless I plan to use them right away. This was the second batch that smelled funny and had to be disposed of. Chop and mince and dice every thing to pilaf size. Saute everything while the rice is cooking. Add the raisins and clementine at the end. The amounts of the seasoning ingredients are up to you. The broth kind of brings it all together before adding the rice. It was very yummy!

And now for the weekend dessert. This is a cherry cobbler baked in a cast-iron skillet from America’s Test Kitchen. You can find the recipe here. I promise I followed the recipe exactly. Well except for using a 10 inch skillet instead of 12 inch, having only 5 cups of cherries instead of 6 cups, and not having turbinado sugar. Isn’t it pretty?

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And tasty too! This was simple enough to make. One does cook the cherry juice into a syrup before adding the cherries and biscuit topping. I do not see how this would be any better in a larger skillet. Ten-inch is just the right size. The biscuits come together easily enough with buttermilk and melted butter. Sprinkling the sugar on top before baking gives a nice color and crunch. I used an organic fair-trade sugar from Aldi which has a slight caramel color. I will make this again even with fresh or other types of canned fruits. I may reduce the sugar a bit even though it was just 1/2 cup.The only real improvement needed was to have vanilla ice cream for serving.

Have a blessed week!

 

This weekend in my kitchen…

It snowed and snowed. 20 car pile up on a highway near me. Hubby has the electric cord running to the shed to start the snow-blower. It is cold and wintry. The dog romps around the yard to do his business and romps right back up the steps to the back door to come back inside.

To start the weekend we over bought the groceries. This is so easy to do at the discount grocery store. And we waited 30 minutes in the check out line because everyone was stocking up for the impending storm. Do we all forget that we live in New England and in the winter it snows? Heavy at times? With blowing wind? My excuse is that is the day and time that we usually go to the grocer.

I’m trying to get us to eat more fruits and vegetables and Hubby loves his animal protein. And the chicken breasts were $.99 per pound! I’ll be making this blogger’s recipe this week: whatsfordinnermoms slow cooker taco pasta. Sounds yummy!

With the many groceries filling up my pantry and fridge and freezer, I find that I need to use the bag of potatoes that have been languishing in the bottom of the pantry. Shepherd’s Pie for dinner. Now one can make Shepherd’s Pie all kinds of ways. I have never used minced lamb although I understand that is traditional. I use ground turkey. See, I’m trying to be healthy! Never mind that Hubby has put cheese and sour cream in the mashed potatoes!

The mire poix for the Pie is celery, onion, and red peppers (from a jar). I am using a garlic infused beef broth so I do not add any other seasonings. Saute the mire poix and then brown the ground meat. My standard ingredients for cooking include bags of frozen mixed vegetables, frozen chopped spinach, and red pepper flakes. The latter were not added to this dish but could have been. The amount of ingredients is variable depending on the amount of Pie you wish to make. I used 1 pound of ground turkey, 2 cups of mixed vegetables, 1 cup frozen spinach, 1/4 cup red peppers, 2 stalks celery, and half an onion. I add 2 tablespoons cornstarch to 1/2 cup broth and mix that in with the ingredients in the skillet. Put all of this in your baking dish. Make your standard mashed potatoes and pile on top. I baked this in a 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes. This is a 13 inch oval baking dish. This could feed hefty portions to a family of four or decent portions for six. It will feed Hubby and me for two meals and possibly one leftover for lunch for one.

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The beauty of this mixture is its versatility. Bake with biscuits or cornbread batter on top and it becomes Hungry Boy Casserole. Use it to fill pie crusts and it becomes Pot Pie. Add beans and chili powder and tomatoes and it becomes chili. I am certain there are numerous other dishes it could become. I’m thinking one could cook this up in advance and bag it up in freezer bags for “emergency meals” or take camping!

The next project in my kitchen this weekend was not as successful. Somewhere on FB someone posted a gluten free pancake recipe using just bananas, eggs, and cinnamon. I’m thinking pumpkin would be the same as mashed bananas and waffles can be made from pancake batter. So I give it a go. I had to add milk to thin the batter. I oiled my waffle iron and heated it according to manufacturer’s directions. Well, it did not cook up well. I had to peel it off the grid. It did not stick, it was too soft and did not crisp up. So I add 2/3 up flour, a little more milk, a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and heat a pan to make pancakes. These were edible but mushy. I should have just made a normal waffle recipe and added the pumpkin. Live and learn.

I very much enjoy puttering around my kitchen on weekend mornings, and afternoons. I think about what ingredients I have on hand, what recipes I would like to try for both dinners and baking. I have made the seasoning mix for the slow cooker taco recipe that I will put in the crockpot Monday morning. I have several recipes I would like to try over the week and need to put those in order to enhance the possibility of follow through. I get all these great ideas but then when I come home from work during the week my motivation often lags.

What I hope to do: no bake energy bites from the King Arthur Flour website, practice making marshmallow roses to decorate a Christening cake, boil eggs to take for lunches along with salad, cut the cantaloupe so there is fruit to snack on instead of chips, and make something citrus-y out of the grapefruit, oranges, and lemons in my refrigerator.

Wish me luck and have a blessed week!