Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm Hungry....Perhaps Blogging About Food Will Help

     I'm in time out.  Well, more of a self-imposed exile, actually.  You see, tonight my loving husband decided he would save me the trouble of cooking by preparing dinner without any help from me.  He and Monkey have been in the kitchen since 4:30, and I've been sitting here waiting on my food.  I'm starting to think I may have to eat the dog if it isn't ready soon.  At least J bought chips and salsa for the meantime.

     I was passing the time on Pinterest, pinning all kinds of yummy foods, but that didn't help my situation (go figure, huh?).  Then it dawned on me that I haven't blogged since the beginning of the month.  So that's why I'm here.  And because I have no food.  You know, cause blogging about food when you're starving makes perfect sense.....yeah.....

     Let me start by sharing a few more fun lunches I've been making for Monkey.  Over the Christmas break she told me she wanted to start eating cafeteria food.  I told her that was fine with me, but J piped up that she wouldn't get any say in what they feed her at school.  She quickly decided she preferred Mommy's lunches.  That didn't last long at all!

Monday: DIY Tacos
We've done DIY Lunchables and DIY Pizzas, so we kicked it up a notch for this lunch.

    Using a circle cookie-cutter, I cut circles out of 2 burrito-sized flour torillas.  I brushed the front and back of each tortilla with oil and sprinkle a little bit of salt over each.  Next I fitted the tortilla rounds into a mini-muffin tin and baked them in the oven at 350 for about 8 minutes.

     I chopped up some leftover chicken into tiny cubes.  I then added a bit of shredded cheese.  You can throw in some shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes too, but I just added a bit of leftover salad from the night before.

 Tuesday: Hello Kitty Sandwich

     I know I've mentioned these cute sandwich cutters before, and I know I've even used the kitty one before and shared it, but that just goes to show how versatile this one set of lunch gadgets can be.  I cut the bread and meat out with the cutter, and then I indented the top piece of bread with the kitty face stamp.  I used my food markers to color in the indentions.  I added some grape tomatoes, a bunch of grapes, and a cheese stick with a little message written in permanent marker on the wrapper.

     One of the things I love about packing Monkey's lunch is that I can slip little notes into the lunch box.  It's even more fun when it's on her food :-)

Wednesday: Ham, Cheese and Spinach Pinwheels

     As you can tell, tortillas are a staple in this house.  They last a while, so when we've devoured all the bread, there's usually still some tortillas on the shelf, so they make for a quick lunch.  For this one, I rolled a couple of sliced of ham, some cheddar cheese, and a bit of spinach into a log, and then I sliced the roll into pinwheels.  I also used a fun butterfly cutter to cut the cucumbers.  I added those, some grapes, and a granola bar (not pictured) to Monkey's lunchbox.

Thursday: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons Lunch
     As most of y'all know from Facebook, Monkey entered her school Reading Fair with a project on the book, "Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons".  She got 1st place at the school fair, and then again at the district fair.  To celebrate, I packed this extra special lunch just for her.

     Using a round cookie cutter, I cut four circles from a burrito-sized tortilla.  I colored each one with food markers to look like four buttons of varying colors.  I then thinly sliced some turkey pepperoni (you could also used diced chicken like the mini tacos), diced a bit of tomato, shredded some lettuce, and added a bit of cheese.  The idea was she could make her own little soft tacos with the "button" tortillas.  I added some fruit and veggie sides, and sent her on her way.  She loved this one!

 Friday: BLT Wrap---Bacon, Love, Tomato

      For this wrap, I layered a slice of ham, a couple of slices of cooked turkey bacon, a sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, and a bit of Ranch onto a tortilla and rolled it up.  I added a special message with my food markers.  Then I threw in some colorful Goldfish, a bunch of grapes, and a bit of broccoli and called it a day.

Update:  My husband finally fed me, and it was delicious!  Well worth the wait.  I would post his recipe, but I was too hungry to take pictures.  I should have though, because he says that was so much work he's not sure he'll be doing it again any time soon :-/  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

     Since I don't have pictures of tonight's feast, let me share a recipe that doesn't take 2 1/2 hours to cook.

Taco Soup
1 lb ground turkey (or ground beef)
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
3 cans sliced olives
1 package taco seasoning or 2 TBS homemade (recipe below)
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
Shredded cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional) *We substitute plain Greek yogurt.  It tastes the same and is bester for you.

Brown ground turkey (or beef).  Add taco seasoning and the amount of water listed on package (if using homemade add 1/2 cup water).  Cook until 1/3 of water is left.  Dump in all the canned foods.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer 20 minutes.  Top with shredded cheese and/or sour cream, if desired.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

This doesn't make a ton, so I typically double or triple it when I make a batch.  Then when I see I'm getting low I'll add some more.

Enjoy :-)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chef for a Day

     Okay guys, I know I post a ton of recipes onto this blog, but I've never really considered myself a chef.  "Cook" or "Foodie" seem much more appropriate to describe my dabbling in the kitchen.  Yesterday, however, I felt like a real chef for a bit.

     Years ago, I read the novel Julie and Julia and although I heartily enjoyed the story, I had no desire to master the art of French cooking myself.  Yet, when I found this link on Pinterest, my interest was most definitely piqued.  Upon seeing my pin, my sister commented, "Once you master this, blog it with a recipe, then I'll try ;-)".  I laughed it off, and the pin got lost in the sea of other food I wanted to try.  This past week as I was going through my Main Dishes board on Pinterest I rediscovered the pin, and, curious, I finally clicked on it.  I was taken to a site in which the first thing I noticed was the following video.  Before reading anything else I watched video, and I was hooked.  Pepin made deboning a chicken look so easy with his fluid movements and his simple explanations.  After the second viewing, which J watched with me, I decided I would do this.  This statement was met with apathy from J, and a comment of, "okay, but no spinach".  I didn't care; I was going to debone a chicken, stuff it with deliciousness, and serve it for Sunday dinner.  It would be an epic challenge with glorious results that the muses would one day sing about!

     As it got closer to the day I decided to invite some friends over to revel in the glory that is good food.  Then the day actually arrived, and I set to work early in the morning in order to make sure everything was perfect.  I viewed the video once again before getting started.  Confidence oozed out of me as I danced around my kitchen to Alicia Keys' "I am Super Woman" setting out my cutting board, knifes, a pot for all the bones to make stock, my computer so I could reference the video, a kitchen towel, and the garbage can (just in case).  Finally, I was ready to begin.

     I rinsed my chicken and patted it dry.  Then I moved it to the cutting board, and (with my non-chicken-y hand) hit play.  I followed Pepin flawlessly as he cut the wings and made "ze little lolliPOP" (which I threw in the roasting pan with the rest of the chicken).  My confidence wavered slightly as I struggled to remove the wishbone. (He makes it look so easy!)  I got it out finally, though, and was read to move on.  My ego took another blow as I cut the skin of the back, because my cut was not nearly as flawless nor as easy as his.  I blamed his experience and amazing knives and moved onward.  Finding the articulation was easy. (Thank you, Nursing school!)  Then I heard it, that mocking comment Pepin makes right around the 3 minute mark, "It should not take you but a minute to bone out a chicken"....... I frantically looked at the clock and realized I had already been at it for 15 minutes.  (I kept having to call J into the kitchen to pause the video for me.)  I began to wonder if this was all a big mistake, and then I envisioned my friends arriving to see my sloppy chicken that somehow managed to be burned on the outside and raw on the inside.  I comforted myself with the knowledge that they wouldn't judge, and that there was always Domino's in a pinch.  I pressed forward again.  (I didn't literally press anything as my hands were full of chicken goo, but J obliged by pressing the play button.)  At this point my confidence began to grow again as I started to undress the poor chicken.  I had no problems getting the carcass out, and I called jubilantly to J to come feast his eyes on my brilliance.  He obliged by glancing my way and nodding, which I took as adoration and praise.  Next I removed the fillets, apologizing to Pepin for resorting to the use of my knife.  Then Pepin and I scraped the chicken fillet from the sinew.  Next I followed Pepin's lead in taking the bones from the legs and wings, only growing slightly frustrated when my bone did not break on the first hit...or the second...or third, but ultimately, the sixth time was the charm, and we pressed on.  Finally I had a completely deboned chicken.  I celebrated my victory by waving the floppy chicken suit in J's and Monkey's direction while singing, "I deboned a chicken, I deboned a chicken".

     I stuffed my bird with a stuffing of my own creation, the recipe for which I will gladly share below.  I was inspired by this recipe I found, but I meddled with it quite a bit before I was ready to use it.  After stuffing my bird, I tied it up under Pepin's careful guidance.  Finally I was done!  I was so proud of myself for this epic achievement.  All other cooking journeys seem pale in comparison.  For one glorious moment, I was a chef!  Then I came back down to reality this morning as I woke up exhausted and fed my child cereal.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted :-)

Chicken Galantine with Pork Stuffing
1 large whole chicken, deboned
10 red potatoes, quartered
2 large carrots, sliced
2 lemons
1 garlic pod, separated and ends trimmed off
Baby bella mushrooms (I used 1-1/2 8oz containers of mushrooms)
3-5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
minced garlic and 1/2 stick butter (if cooking mushrooms separately)

For the stuffing:
1 cup Garlic and Herb bread crumbs
3 small cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, peeled and quartered
18 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
5 sausages, skins removed ( I used Johnsonville's Sweet Italian Sausage)
1/2 TBS garlic powder
1 tsp Tony's

Debone chicken by watching Pepin's video (above).  Cook rice.  Combine cooked rice and remaining stuffing ingredients in a food processor until combined.  Stuff chicken as shown in the video using half of the stuffing.  Once chicken is tied up place in a greased roasting pan.  Add potatoes, carrots, and garlic cloves to roasting pan.  Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a bowl; add garlic salt and chopped sage leaves.  Rub over the chicken.  Cut the other lemon in half, and the juice from one of the halves over the carrots and potatoes.  Reserve remaining lemon half.

Remove the stems of the baby bella mushrooms and stuff with remaining stuffing.  arrange around chicken in roasting pan or bake separately in an 8x8 dish with minced garlic and butter.

Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Remove pan from oven; remove and discard foil.  Return roasting pan to oven and bake for another 45 minutes.  Removed chicken from over, and squeeze juice of the remaining lemon half over the chicken.  Return to oven to bake for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile cover mushrooms with foil and bake at 350 for the entire time the chicken is baking, an hour and a half.

Once chicken is cooked through, removed from oven and transfer to a serving platter.

Slice the chicken and serve.  Enjoy!

     I am happy to report that all the hard work was well worth it.  My friends arrived just as this chicken was finished roasting, and we all enjoyed digging into the scrumptious meal immensely.  We had a good night with great food and even better friends.