Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sharing What We Love

Today, I gave up my crafting space at the dining room table.  Making room for my guys:


My oldest is old enough (and has enough motor control) to learn how to paint miniatures (:  Learning how to play the game they're making them for surely can't be far behind!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dinner Porridge

I wanted to do something different than leftovers or quick fixes for dinner tonight, so I went with the crock pot.

In the fridge, I had the 1/2 of the red, yellow and orange bell peppers from fajitas on Sunday.  And the majority of a jar of tomato sauce from last Friday.  So the meal was begun with the idea of using these.

Dinner Porridge was actually meant to be called Mediterranean Sausage Rice.  But rice turns into porridge with enough water and time-- soooooo... Dinner Porridge it is!

One of the biggest plusses is that is smells and ends up tasting a lot like chili...even though there's no beans, ground beef, or, you know, chili powder.  We ate ours with spoons and crackers and the boys like it, so I'm calling it a success, even if it isn't what I thought it was going to be.

That all said, here's the recipe for Dinner Porridge

Ingredients

2 cups of rice
2 cans of chicken broth
2 large cajun pork sausages, removed from their casings and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cup of water
1 jar of tomato sauce

Directions

Toss it all into the crockpot, give it a good stir, and cover it.  Cook on low for 6 1/2 hours.   I anticipate that if I want to make Mediterranean Sausage Rice, I'll add 1 cup less water and cook it for 2 hours less (;

Stir it just before serving, as pretty much everything but the rice is going to be on top.

And enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Our Family Dinner Bell Sounds a Lot Like a Fire Alarm...

So tonight, dinner started with a 13.5 oz can of coconut milk...and realizing the recipe I intended to use only called for 1/4 cup of it...

Fortunately for me, the coconut milk came with a recipe of it own for dessert (:

So tonight, I made Coconut Chicken with Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce over Rice, with Garlic Seasoned California Vegetables with Rice Pudding for dessert.

Here's Beth M's Coconut Chicken Recipe, from http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com

Ingredients

2 lbs of chicken breast, sliced into roughly 1/2 inch strips
2 large eggs
1/4 cup coconut milk (and by the way-- if you've never used it before, you're supposed to shake the can before opening it!)
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs (or crushed rice chex)
1 cup shredded coconut
salt, to taste
and enough vegetable, olive or canola oil to give you between 1/2 and 1 inch of oil in your frying pan.

Directions

Set your sliced chicken off to the side and prepare your dipping stations in three bowls.  Bowl 1:  the flour and salt, mixed with a fork.  Bowl 2:  the eggs and the coconut milk, whipped with a fork until well mixed.  Bowl 3: the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut, also mixed with a fork.  While you're breading the chicken, go ahead and turn on the skillet for medium heat.  While it's heating, first dip each piece of chicken in the flour and give it a nice, even light coat.  Set them all aside on a plate.  Then dip them in turn first into the eggs/coconut milk and then the panko/coconut and set them aside on another plate.  When you have 4-6 ready, check that the oil is ready and you can start putting them in.  Continuing to bread them while you pay attention to what's cooking-- they only need about 3-5 minutes before they're ready to turn over, then 3-5 more before you'll need to take them out and put them on a plate with some paper towel.  When you've cooked all of the chicken, you might want to put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet to make sure they're thoroughly cooked and evenly heated.

For the Rice Pudding

1 cup of rice
1 1/2 cup of water
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
the remainder of the container of coconut milk
1 cup of milk
1-2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1-2 tsp lemon juice


In a medium saucepan with lid, cover the rice with the cinnamon and water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add the coconut milk, milk, vanilla, brown sugar and lemon juice.  Give a good stir, heating over medium heat until it starts to bubble, then simmer and cover until most of the liquid is absorbed.

For the Sweet Chili Sauce

1/3 cup of apricot preserves
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
2 tsps srichacha chili sauce
2 tsps red pepper flakes

Stir them all together in a small sauce pan over medium high heat until it boils, then simmer.


For the Vegetables

1 package of frozen California Blend Vegetables (carrots, broccoli and cauliflower)
Garlic salt, to taste

Use a bit of vegetable oil on a cookie.  Preheat the oven to 450.  Mix the vegetables and seasoning in a bowl, then spread the vegetables out on the cookie sheet.  Bake for between 15-20 minutes.


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In order to time everything right, I started with the rice.  1 cup in my steamer to cook for 60 minutes and to serve with the chicken and the other on the stove for the Rice Pudding and set a timer for 20 minutes for that rice.  Then I greased the cookie sheet for the vegetables and set it aside.  Then I prepared the three dipping bowls and sliced up the chicken.  About that time, the rice pudding was ready for the next stage.  After getting it back to simmering, I put a frying pan of oil on the stove for the chicken and set it for medium heat.  Then I started breading the chicken.  When I had about 25 minutes left on the steamer for the rice, I preheated the oven and started preparing the vegetables, paying attention to the chicken if I needed to turn it over, take it out and put on the paper towel or start the next batch.  When I finished with all of the chicken, I put in on a cookie sheet to evenly heat and finish cooking it.  When I had 15 minutes left on the rice, I put the vegetables in the oven.  After 7 minutes, I added the chicken on the second cookie sheet.  And when the steamer timer went off, everything was ready.  Even the rice pudding, so I turned that off.

And as I opened the oven to take the vegetables and chicken out-- the fire alarm went off...

And my nine year old, from the living room announces, "Dinner's Ready!"

It's kind of a running theme.  It was true when I was a little kid and my mom was cooking.  And my husband has identical stories to tell of his mother's cooking.

It's practically a family tradition: When the fire alarm goes off, Dinner's ready (;


And a note for the rice pudding (that isn't pictured)-- it tastes -exactly- like the stuff I buy at the store!  I just need to purchase some raisins to toss in it.  I know, it's kind of ironic that I have all the ingredients above on hand at a moments notice-- and not a single raisin in the house (;

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pinterest Took Over My Kitchen

This weekend, I went through my Pinterest recipes and bought ingredients for all sorts of things.  Tonight, I decided to make Bourbon Street Chicken with rice, low fat baked onion rings, and cauliflower poppers.

(I know links tend to die as time goes on, so I'm going to go ahead and share their recipes.)

Demonica's Bourbon Street Chicken, from BigOven.com

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts; cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoonolive oil; (1-2)
1 garlic clove; crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet.
Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
Remove chicken.
Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium heat until well blended and dissolved.
Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.
Serve over hot rice.

Gina's Skinny Recipe for Low Fat Baked Onion Rings from http://www.skinnytaste.com/  (Oh my goodness!  This woman has -amazing- recipes!  I'm looking forward to trying several more of them!)

  • 1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
  • 2 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup crushed corn flake crumbs
  • salt to taste 
  • vegetable oil

Place slices of onion in a shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk over the top and let them soak for about 1 - 2 hours, refrigerated.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Combine panko, bread crumbs and corn flakes and place half of the crumbs in a large dish, season with salt. Reserve the rest for when the first batch is used up. This should help avoid clumping and they should stick better to the onions.

Dip each soaked onion ring into the crumb mixture; coat well. Place rings onto two cookie sheets. Lightly spray with oil. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown.Serve immediately.

WeightWatchers Cauliflower Poppers

I didn't quite follow their directions.

I greased a cookie sheet, took out a package of frozen cauliflower pieces and mixed them up in a bowl by hand with 2 teaspoons of cajun seasoning.  Then spread them out on the cookie sheet.

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To time everything to be done at the same time, I started the rice in my steamer for 75 minutes.  Then I sliced up the onions and put them in a bowl of butter milk and put them in the fridge.  Then I prepared my 2 cookie sheets, coating them with a thin coat of oil.  Then I mixed my bowl of crumbs for the onion rings.  Then I diced up my chicken and started it cooking.  By this time, about 30 minutes have passed. I preheat the oven for 450.  And started dipping and preparing the onion rings.


Every now and then, I'd pause, wash my hands and stir the chicken.

Then I prepared the cauliflower and spread them out on the other cookie sheet.


Then I finished browning the chicken and drained it.  At this point, the rice had 15 minutes left to cook so I put the onion rings and cauliflower in the oven and followed the rest of the directions for the chicken-- keeping it at medium low heat as opposed to simmering.


Dinner was starting to smell -really- good!

My family was so quick to eat it, I only managed to get a picture of the left overs for my honey's dinner tomorrow.


It was very spicy, but delicious-- my typically non-vegetable eating family ate all of their vegetables, as well as the meat and rice dish (:

They even asked me to add these to our regular menu.  Yup, we found a new family favorite tonight!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Making Valentines

After seeing these, I decided the boys and I would make our own this year.  A couple of minutes with the camera, a little bit longer with Photoshop, and some layout, arranging and tweaking in Illustrator and we're all ready for Valentine's Day!

Test run for cropping.  Now to print them out on cardstock (: