Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chicken française pasta

My husband came up with the suggestion of "chicken française pasta" when I first got some boneless, skinless chicken on clearance at Target.

Today we pulled it out of the freezer and gave it a shot.

- chicken, boneless, skinless and cut into smaller pieces
- lemon juice, about half a cup (two fresh lemons?) 
- one stick butter
- peas
- broccoli
- pasta of choice
- 1/2 cup fresh dill from the garden
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley from the garden
- about six chives fresh from the garden
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
- about 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper (plus another 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
- your favorite olive oil 

Heat about one tablespoon butter over low heat in cast iron skillet. Add equal parts lemon juice. Add the garlic powder and the Italian seasoning.

Stir until nicely combined. Add chicken. Increase heat to medium. 

Cook pasta to desired doneness. Drain and set aside. 

When chicken is done, push the meat to one side of skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper. Arrange skillet so empty side is over the heating element.

Add about 1/2 stick butter to empty side of skillet, add fresh herbs and cook while trying to push the sauce around the empty side of the skillet to minimize how much sauce the chicken absorbs. 

Add vegetables to empty side of skillet. Combine both sides of skillet until everything is evenly mixed and evenly heated.

Pour olive oil (cold pressed extra virgin imported from the Middle East is my fav) over the pasta and mix so they are just a tiny bit wet and kind of glistening.

Put pasta in bottom of serving bowl. Top with desired amount of chicken-vegetable mix.

This was incredible!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Quick lunch

I served the leftover bean burgers and the leftover rice I used to make bean burgers with asparagus, artichokes, sweet snap peas from my garden and brussel sprouts in a lemon-butter sauce.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Maybe kale burgers

I was reminded today that I have poor luck in the kitchen when the recipe calls for transforming beans into patties.

Falafel. Vegetarian burgers.

Always end up as too wet hash. And yes, I realize this means I should add more dry ingredients but who wants to turn the resulting item into mostly rice or breadcrumbs?

I attempted a variation of Thug Kitchen's Spinach Kidney Bean Sliders.

Mine were a mix of kale, white beans and kidney beans. They are in the oven now. They felt too wet at the get-go. Big shock.

In the food processor, combine:
- one can kidney beans, liquid drained and beans rinsed
- one can great northern (white) beans, liquid drained and beans rinsed
- 3 cups raw kale, chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbs (my homemade breadcrumbs often includes the ends of bags of crackers, pretzels, etc)
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, sticky and cold

Add seasonings, I used:
- a splash of soy sauce
- a big glob of Annie's Goddess dressing
- about 1 tablespoon oregano
- about 1 tablespoon zaatar spice/sesame seed
- generous garlic powder
- some paprika
- some cumin

Form patties and bake at 350, at least 15 minutes each side.

Okay... These are really ugly patties but I tasted them and they are really good...

My efforts to dry them out via slow cooking left some bites too crispy, but I layered these patties on a toasted hot dog bun, with kale and habanero salsa just like my "ultimate" sandwich last night. Then I threw on some Alexa multigrain onion rings.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Ultimate After Work Sandwich

I got home from work at 10 pm today and I didn't think I was hungry (having not eaten dinner) but at 10:30 it became clear that I was.

One thing led to another and before you know it I had made this truly, truly beautiful sandwich.

INGREDIENTS (per sandwich):
- one Morningstar chickpea pattie
- chopped raw kale (a double to triple layer) 
- a hot dog bun
- a couple tablespoons of grated Parmesan
- a couple heaping tablespoons Archer Farms fire roasted habanero salsa

I toasted the hot dog bun under a high broiler, added the cheese to both sides and returned it to the oven.

Then I heated the chick pea pattie in the microwave.

I took the hot dog bun out of the oven. Cutting the chick pea pattie into strips, I arranged them on one side of the bun and the kale layered on the other. On top of the kale I plopped the salsa and then I plopped the two halves together.

This will be repeated for dinner for the family sometime soon.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My famous egg rolls

Homemade egg rolls are fun and easy to make!

We use prepared egg roll wrappers that come 12 in a pack. 

It's standard practice in this house for me to use Wegmans broccoli slaw as the bulk of the filling. It has a nutritional boost over some of the other vegetables available. I get out a big bowl, pour the slaw in, and add a can of crab meat.

Today I also added kale since we have a lot of it left.

We don't use an egg wash to seal them, we use simply water.

For seasonings, I sprinkled in some low sodium soy sauce, a lot of ginger, some garlic powder, a few drops of walnut oil, and a few generous splashes of sesame oil.

I taught daughter how to roll them and fried them over medium temps in a fifty-fifty blend of coconut oil and canola. 

I've blogged about these before... These are some of the various egg rolls (both homemade and prepared) that I have blogged about:


Grocery trip on the bike

This morning my daughter and I took our first bike ride of the season, after pumping my two flat tires and discovering after a block that my gears were on the highest settings... That was a rough block. 

Then we got rolling through the city streets and we ended up at the grocery store. We locked up our bikes and went in to surprise Daddy with the half and half we needed for coffee.

We spent $11.01. We bought a quart of half and half, a bottle of organic unsweetened real cranberry juice and two Dole salad kits. I had a coupon for $1.25 off one, and they were $3.99 each... I plan on having them for lunch, so when I saw they had two kits $1 off each because they were "use today." I jumped on it.

I poured myself a heavily iced glass of cranberry juice when we got home-- gave my daughter a sip and she made the funniest face at how sour it was.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Coconut milk fruity ice cream

We had a yummy food night. 

Dinner was homemade kale chips and peanut butter and fresh strawberries on Wegmans apple oat bread.

We're ending the night with homemade dairy free ice cream: vanilla coconut milk, fresh strawberries, the leftover fruit purée I froze after making quick pops last week, local raw honey, fresh raspberries, and chambord.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pre-birthday post

Tomorrow is my little girl's ninth birthday! In the space between this post and the previous, we went to Washington, D.C., for a networking event so I didn't really plan much. On the fly last night, my stepmom and I started planning a surprise barbeque tomorrow night (since my stepmom and I both work until 4). If you see the wee one, don't you dare tell her!

We have nearly no food in the house and the bank has somehow totally confused our checkbook. My stepmom said she's been craving her mom's macaroni salad and she has 100 hot dogs left over from a special event she hosted at the office. My daughter wants a watermelon for her birthday. With those elements available, it seemed obvious to have a barbecue.

I had some Bush's vegetarian baked beans in the cupboard and then we went to Wegmans for the watermelon and a cake. I picked a strawberry chiffon cake because it just sounded like the perfect summer cake for my summer baby.

I also got some vegetables to cook on the grill tomorrow: artichokes, red pepper, green pepper, potato, carrots and pineapple. I have it chopped and "marinating" in olive oil, four color pepper, garlic pepper and a touch of pineapple juice.

I spent $91 at wegmans but I think I got some great stuff:
- Wegmans honey apple oat bread, $2.79
- sour cream $1.09
- Chobani Flipz, 6 at $1.29 each
- Alexa multigrain onion rings, $3.19
- Alexa crinkle cut salt and pepper sweet potato fries, $3.19
-Wegmans spinach and feta pierogies, $1.99
- Wegmans steam in bag artichokes and asparagus, $3.99
- sweet peas, 99 cents
- frozen juice concentrate, $1.99 and $2.09, three total all 100% juice
- wegmans chunky pizza sauce, 3 at $1.19
- cool ranch doritos, $2.50
- tomato sauce, 16 ounce can, 3 at 55 cents
- tomato sauce, tiny can, 3 at 3/99 cents
- canned artichoke hearts (plain) $2.99
- mandarin oranges in pear juice, 2 small cans at 89 cents each
- canned crab meat, $2.39
- club pack of 2 baguettes, $4
- strawberry chiffon cake, $13
- 5 lbs idaho potatoes, $1.99
- kale, $2.49
- green pepper, 94 cents
- one pound organic baby carrots, $1.29
- red pepper, $1.96
-eggroll wrappers, $2.99
- broccoli slaw, $2.50
- 12 ounces of raspberries, $3.99
- 2 lbs strawberries, $3.99
- watermelon, $4.99 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Fruit Molasses Bites

I really need to learn to follow a recipe.

I wanted to make strawberry rhubarb muffins. I researched a few recipes online and had to work with a few substitutions since we don't have eggs or milk in the house.

I made something delicious and very dessert-like, and hearty, but because I decided to throw in some coconut flour... Well, I was concerned my dough would be too dry and as a consequence I made it too wet. Oops.

I put about one cup strawberries and two cups chopped rhubarb (and sprinkled some white sugar onto it) into the food processor and made it into something the consistency of jam, or maybe chutney. I set that aside.

Preheated the oven to 350 and smeared 30 muffin cups with a generous layer of room temperature coconut oil.

In a BIG bowl, I mixed the following dry ingredients:
- One cup unbleached white flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- about 1/2 cup coconut flour
- about 1/2 cup sourghum gluten free flour
- about 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon

In my kitchen aid mixer:
- 1/4 cup local raw honey* (Omit for true vegan cooking)
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup warm coconut oil

In a mixing cup, combine:
- one cup coconut milk
- 1.5 teaspoons strawberry basil balsamic vinegar
Stir and add to mixer when it appears "curdled"
(this is my substitute for buttermilk)

Combine dry to wet ingredients, add fruit.
Poor into muffin tins. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

I think I baked these for an hour.

They have a crisp outer coating and are gooey in the middle like a brownie.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Old Fashioned Popcorn

I decided to show my daughter how we did things in the old days and make popcorn on the stove. We have a bag of real kernel Boy Scout popcorn and some coconut oil, so why not?

The recipe I found on Simply Recipes for "Perfect Popcorn" said to heat 3 tablespoons high smoke oil for 1/3 cup popcorn. There was a footnote to add the seasonings into the oil so that they spread evenly. 

I saw another note that said to use a stir fry pan so the kernels pop out and away from the heat. That way they won't burn. 

We added cinnamon which burned horribly in the hot coconut oil. Oops. Smoke alarm going off ridiculously. 

We only used half the amount for everything for the first batch-- good thing since we had the burning incident. Second batch was perfect. We didn't add anything.

The basic method: heat the oil, add three kernels as a test. Cover with a lid, leaving it ajar. When they pop, add an even row of kernels and remove from hear.

Count to 30 so the kernels heat evenly. Return to heat and wait for pop.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Variations of a breakfast

So I wanted a smoothie for breakfast and child chose my offer to use similar ingredients in a yogurt parfait.

Child had a parfait layered as follows:
- whole fresh strawberries
- strawberry rhubarb Noosa yogurt 
- homemade granola with almonds and cashews
- dried strawberries

With a glass of very vanilla soy milk to drink.

My smoothie was strawberries, the strawberry rhubarb Noosa, a splash of coconut milk, a splash of very vanilla soy milk, and vanilla breakfast powder.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pasta tonight

Dinner tonight:

- fresh express iceberg lettuce garden mix with Annie's Goddess dressing
- pasta with red sauce, calamata olives and spicy lamb sausage 
- unsweetened applesauce

For him:
A Grasshopper
1/2 shot creme de menthe
1/2 shot creme de cocoa
1/4 shot half and half
1/4 shot plain coconut milk
(Shaken and served over ice)

For her:
Bicardi ready to drink mojito 
(Not the best mojito I've ever had but nice enough)

Cheesy flatbreads

We have a lack of bread products: no snack crackers, no bread, no buns, no biscuits, or no tortilla shells.

What we have are Wasa crackerbreads.

So I used those to make a hot flatbread. 

I used six total crackerbreads so each person had two like in the photo. I spread cream cheese on each one and sprinkled the cream cheese with garlic powder, fresh ground four color pepper, and Italian herb seasoning.

I prepared two Morningstar burgers. One spicy black bean and one Mediterranean chick pea. I crumbled them and spread them evenly among the crackers. 

Then I heated them about 5 minutes at 350. I switched the heat to broil when I got them out. I topped each one with half a slice of American cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Return to the oven until melty.

Brown Granola

I have fallen out of routine. I have eschewed grocery shopping. Failed at cooking. Haven't gotten out my bicycle in more than a year. The animals no longer get their teeth brushed. I have not stuck to my physical therapy exercises.

But it is now Child's Summer Vacation.

We will commit to rebuilding routine. I like one part of this year's routine. Little Miss has taken to sleeping in. She rolls out of bed at 8:15 or later, which for a child who used to be tap dancing at 6 a.m. is HUGE.

Tomorrow is dress rehearsal. Four plus hours of being backstage with the other little dancers, probably 4:30 pm to 8:30 ish as we give it a practice run before Saturday night's big performance.

Little Miss is sleeping (8 a.m.) and I am making granola. Granola is a staple in this house but I haven't been making it. Bad me! We base our granola on the recipe from the Deirdre Imus' Imus Ranch Cookbook.

Today the only dried fruit I have in the house is one handful of dried cherries. 1/4 cup. I meant to buy at least raisins at Target yesterday but forgot.

So I call this variation brown granola, because except for that tiny batch of cherries, everything in it is boring brown. 

Dry Ingredients
- 4 cups oats
- about 3 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- about 1 tablespoon grated candied ginger 
- that measly 1/4 cup dried cherries
- about 1/3 cup raw almonds
- about 2/3 cup raw cashews

The WET ingredients
- about 1/4 cup local raw honey
- about 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- about 1/4 cup warm coconut oil
- about 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix wet and dry ingredients until oats are all evenly damp. Spread on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes, stirring and flipping after 15. You want to cook it until mostly dry. But not burned. Obviously.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday shopping trip to Target

Did I mention that I broke my blender last week? This is especially painful because my lazy butt has a tendency not to eat breakfast. On these days, I get moody and end up appeasing myself with a fruit/yogurt smoothie. I've been making a strawberry/yogurt/coconut milk version every other day for about the last three weeks.

When I broke the blender, I tried making it in the food processor but it's a lot of work. And if the point is to cater to my laziness, more work won't cut it. The first one was tasty, but today I tried it again today with mangoes, cherries and strawberries and it came out lumpy. My daughter loved it. I did not.

My mother brought me her blender. Yeah, Mom! But I'm not sure it can handle the abuse of this household. We shall see.

I did my weekly finance check today. We need groceries. The budget suggests we have $25 to last to the end of the month. This is after I transferred the mortgage payment money from our savings account. Did I mention I'm spending a lot of money on my job hunt? Those trips to D.C. and new shirts for my suit add up over time.

I went to Target. The life insurance payment just went into the mail today so that give me a couple days to rearrange bill payments to have money again... Or so I tell myself. I have enough. so don't worry about me. I just don't have extra. So, I tried to get some value on my Target trip.

**These prices do not reflect my 10 percent team member discount or my 5 percent RedCard discount**

We needed cat litter. Two boxes, 40 pounds each, on sale for $13.99 plus $5 Target gift card when you buy two.

Green Giant Steam in Bag vegetables, on sale for $1.98 each plus buy two get one free. I got plain broccoli florets, and then two with sauce (one california blend and the other similar but with snow peas.)

Tilapia cutlets, Gortons, seasoned, were on clearance for $4.18. I bought two boxes, since we tried one yesterday and liked it. Each box has four servings.

Chicken breast skinless boneless tenders, the fresh kind, supposedly hormone free and blah blah blah, normally $5.99 for what appears a one pound package of raw chicken, plus $3 off because the use by date was tomorrow. They had two, and while I am sick of chicken, I bought them for the freezer.

Some Archer farm and Pacific soups were on sale. We bought about six total.

I also noticed we switched from selling single bananas for 24 cents each to 3 lbs for $1.67.

Bush's Vegetarian Beans were on sale 3 big cans for $5.

We also found dry black beans. I was very excited about this as I prefer to make my own beans. Not that I've had time recently. $1.39 for a pound. (versus 67 cents for a can!)

The processed foods, because yes I know 90% of these are packaged, is because I am going to DC next week and have daughter's dance recital this week and I want to have some stuff hubby can make.

For the recital, I hope to make granola but if I can't I bought Goldfish crackers ($1.99), Kashi dark chocolate almond granola bars ($2.99), and my personal pick peanut butter Pop Tarts ($1.99).

I bought Very Vanilla Soy Milk ($2.99), Silk coconut milk ($2.99), one pint half and half ($1.84).

Tea, herbal tea, New England coffee (price cut $5.99 a pound).

Tuna.3 large cans. In water. $2.34 each. Long grain brown rice, 2 bags, 1 pound each, 92 cents each.

Two Fresh Express Iceberg Garden Salad mix, $1.49 each. Two bottles of Goddess dressing. ($2.59 each)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Crazy rhubarb crumble

This is my crazy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cooking at its. At least, I hope it's the best. Looks good. Smells intoxicating. How can we go wrong? It's in the oven now...

Gayle gave us our annual batch of rhubarb. My husband started cutting and we got a yield of about seven cups. This recipe required three. The rest went into the freezer.

My daughter went to work making crumbs. I monitor her dairy intake so I reduced the butter and included some coconut oil. She didn't really listen when it came to "we're making crumbs, not stirring it into a solid mass" so I ended up with a wet solid mass that we had to keep adding solids to. But if I had to guess, these were the final ingredients:

- one cup unbleached white flour
- one quarter cup whole wheat flour
- about one third cup coconut flour
- about one third cup local raw honey
- about one cup sugar
- about one third cup brown sugar
- about two cups oats
- a ridiculous amount of cinnamon
- 1/2 stick butter
- close to 1/2 cup coconut oil

We greased the bottom of my huge Le Creuset skillet and sprinkled about half the crumbs into the bottom. To combat any residual over wetness, we sprinkled even more oats into the pan. Then we sprinkled a few cherries and about 1 cup strawberries into the pan. And then added three cups rhubarb.

Gradually, we heated the following ingredients to a near boil to make a sauce:
- About three tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- one cup water
- two tablespoons corn starch
- one cup sugar

We poured over the fruit. The we added more cinnamon. And dollops of unsweetened applesauce. And topped with the crumbs. And added about 1/4 cup sliced almonds on top of that.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour. I'll let you know if it's incredible. *I hope so*

Verdict: yum!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

We're throwing a whole chicken in the crockpot, though we didn't take the guts out before we froze it. So, now, despite taking it out and putting it in the fridge yesterday, it was a wrestling match of man vs chicken to get the organs.

The sauce I'm starting with is the juice from one large can of pineapple chunks, some brown sugar and some low sodium soy sauce. I will throw the pineapple in and set the crock pot on low for about eight hours.

I also added some local raw honey.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cherry Coke Coconut Cream Zoku Pops

The outside shell:
- flat cherry coke
The inside cream (about 4 pops worth)
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup half and half
- about 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- about 2 teaspoons raw honey

Monday adventures

In an effort to get back into the kitchen, I decided I would stop at Bottom Dollar as part of my morning errands. The selection of Bottom Dollar was completely due to location. I wanted to do my morning errands on foot.

My husband took the car to work and so I walked the children to school (as I do every school day). I continued from there (in the rain!) to Minuteman Press where I dropped off the last issue of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group newsletter for the 2012-2013 season. I will not be resuming duties in the fall.

I need to move forward. 

So I stopped at Bottom Dollar with $12 in my pocket. My checkbook has $50 left to make it until Friday...

I spent $3-and-some odd cents. Head of fresh broccoli, corn tortilla chips and a bag of Fresh Express iceberg garden salad mix.

I came home and made hummus. Got a little too much lemon juice in there, now it's runny. Have no more chick peas to mix in. Nor do I have tahini. I'm tempted to mix in some of the calamata olives left and some of the olive tapenade from Wegmans. Tossed in some zaatar seasoning. I could add roasted red pepper dip. That could work...

Got some harissa and zaatar bread from the freezer. Maybe I'll make couscous with raj el hanout. 

Today will produce some fine adventure...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Empty House Daddy Pasta

As you may know, we have been traveling. We left the house without much food... And guess what? We still didn't have any when we returned. No food shopping fairies!

So we made rotini with red sauce, supplemented with half a tomato found in the fridge, some of the Parmesan I got on clearance at Target and about 1/2 cup of browned ground beef I had in the freezer.