Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy New Year (of the Ox!)

Yesterday, the kids had no school, so we celebrated the Chinese New Year! In the morning we made paper lanterns.

For dinner, we made peanut butter chicken and crab rangoon. Tim brought home chopsticks and SUSHI! (Philly rolls and eel rolls) We had a great time!

Now that I was going to post the peanut butter chicken recipe, I can't find it. I'll keep looking and post it when I find it. The crab rangoon is already posted, just follow the link over there on the right-->

**EDIT: I found it! WooHoo! Here you go! I wasn't overly impressed with it, but it wasn't terrible. I think that some extra peanut butter would be good, but we are PB freaks here....

Peanut Butter Chicken

1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp spicy sesame oil (I used regular sesame oil.)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice (don't let that freak you out, you can't taste it in the end!)
S&P to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into julienne strips about 3 inches long (I used 1.25 pounds of boneless breast tenderloins)

Mix together and add chicken. Allow to marinate 2-3 hours in refrigerator. Drain and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in flour.

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used half and half)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used JIF brand. It could have used more, in our opinion.)
Roasted peanuts and/or chopped green onion to garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat some sesame oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Saute chicken, turning occasionally until golden brown and cooked through.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine butter and flour and mix until smooth. Cook slowly until bubbly. Add stock and increase heat to high. When stock begins to thicken, add whipping cream and peanut butter, stirring until peanut butter is melted and sauce is the consistency of gravy.

To serve, place fried chicken on a plate, top with sauce and garnish. Enjoy!

*******My notes: The kids didn't like the heavy flavor of the sesame oil. Next time, I think I would deep fry the dredged and marinated chicken. Also, there didn't seem to be enough sauce to our liking. Simply remedied by making double the sauce for that amount of chicken. We really enjoyed this served with rice. I made white rice, but a fried rice would be fabulous here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Honey Soy Salmon with Cilantro Rice Noodles

Last night (wow, I was busy last night! Keep reading for the other two recipes I made yesterday!) I made this for dinner. I doubled the glaze and the amount of fish since the recipe serves four. The noodles make more than enough for all 6 of us, but the fish was another story. So, anyway, I made 8 4 oz fillets. Rugby ate 3 of them and was begging for more. Riley loves the noodles and would only tolerate the fish with BBQ sauce. (yuck!) The babies didn't care either way about it, but Tucker thought it was fun to toss the long noodles off his highchair. Sassy boy! At least Tim cleaned that up for me!! :) I have made this before, just not when Tim was home. I think he liked it, but it was a healthy meal and I think he'd have liked a sauce he could have dipped the fish in more than just the glaze. I really enjoyed it, though!

Honey Soy Salmon with Cilantro Noodles

6 oz rice sticks (found in the Asian foods aisle)
4-6oz salmon fillets
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
5 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Prepare a medium hot grill or grease a broiler pan and preheat the broiler.

Brush salmon with EVOO, sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Make a glaze by mixing 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp honey and 1/2 tsp pepper Set aside.

Set a pan of water on the stove and get it almost boiling for the rice noodles. Make the dressing for the noodles by mixing 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp honey, sesame oil and lemon juice. Mix well.

Grill or broil salmon. Grilling should take about 2 minutes, then flip and brush with glaze and grill another2-3 minutes. I broiled them last night on low and it took 5-7 minutes and I didn't flip them since I used fillets that had no skin on. I brushed with the glaze about half way through. While the fish is cooking, soak the rice noodles in the hot water. This should only take a few minutes since they are sooooooooo thin. When fish is done, drain noodles and toss the noodles with dressing and the cilantro. Serve along with the fish. Some snow peas would be a nice accompaniment with this dish. Enjoy!!

No-bake granola bars

I made these last night to have for the kids lunches this week. Semi-healthy and completely easy to make. They LITERALLY took less than 10 minutes to make. Riley and TJ helped, too! You can be creative with what you add to them, too. I modified the original recipe (of course!) so you have the one that I made....go from there. :)

No Bake Granola Bars

2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (could probably use turbinado if you wanted to)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips, raisins, dried cherries/cranberries, coconut, etc. I used chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine cereal, oatmeal and any non-melting add-in that you like. Dried fruit or nuts, etc. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and honey. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla; blend until smooth. Pour over cereal mixture and stir to combine. Allow to cool a bit before adding chocolate chips or other melty add-in. Press this mixture into a 9x13 pan lined with wax paper. (Press hard so that it sticks together really well or you'll have a crumbly granola that really isn't a bar) Allow to cool completely before pulling it out of the pan and cutting into bars. Originally recipe states that it makes 24 servings. I used a pizza cutter to cut mine and that worked really well. They stay pretty soft and chewy. Enjoy!

Lemon Yogurt Muffins

I made these yesterday for Riley's class snack. They turned out really well and were AWESOME warm. I'm sure they'll be good cold, too but I haven't tried them yet that way. Riley thought they were super good and so did Rugby. Judging by the way the babies inhaled them, I think they liked them, too. lol!! (And, they're good for you!)

Lemon Yogurt Muffins

1 1/2 cups ap flour
1 c rolled oats (I used quick cooking)
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c plain yogurt (I used the yogurt that I made a couple days ago! YUM!)
1 egg
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 lemon, peeled and chopped. Remove as much of the pith as you can.
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 fresh lemon for zest, chop the zest fine
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix flour, oats, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, mix yogurt, egg, 1/4 cup lemon juice and the chopped lemon.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix only until blended. It will foam up a bit, don't worry about that!

Fill 12 (mine made more) well greased muffin cups (paper liners should be greased also if you are using them). Bake for 15-20 minutes or intil a tooth pick comes out clean.

While they are baking, prepare the syrup. In a saucepan, mix 1/4 cup sugar, lemon zest and juice of the 1/2 lemon. Bring to a boil. Set aside until muffins are done.

When muffins are baked, used the toothpick to poke lots of holes in the muffins. Do not remove them from the pan until cooled. Brush the hot muffins with the syrup. Enjoy!

***EDIT: These are even better the next day!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wild Rice Casserole

I've made this a couple times and it's always been well received with the boys. It's a good thing to make a day or two after I roast a chicken since it uses cooked chicken. I haven't roasted a chicken in a while, so I used a small package of chicken tenderloins that I had in the freezer and just boiled them up and tonight, I made it with fresh mushrooms (because I had them handy and they were going to go bad soon), a finely diced stalk of celery and 1/4 of an onion.

1 cup long grain and wild rice, uncooked
2 cups chicken broth (or water)
1/2 pound pork sausage (I use Farmland breakfast sausage)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
small can sliced mushrooms with juice
1/2 tsp worcestershire
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
3 slices bread, chopped
1/4 cup butter

In the microwave, make the rice with the chicken broth. Meanwhile, brown the sausage (with the onion, celery and fresh mushrooms if using). Break the sausage up into bits and drain the fat. Add the canned mushrooms (if using), cream of mushroom soup, and worcestershire. In a 2 qt casserole or 9x13 pan, mix the rice with the sausage mixture and the chicken. In the skillet that you browned the sausage in, melt the butter and lightly fry the bread crumbs. Place this on top of the casserole. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hurry Up Cinnamon Rolls

This morning it's totally cold and icky outside. School is canceled it's so cold. The kids and I wanted something that would warm our hearts AND our bellies this morning. So, I made cinnamon rolls, but these aren't your normal take all day to make and rise cinnamon rolls! They bake up in a hurry since there is no yeast! I converted the recipe to use some wheat flour since I had it, but you could skip that and use all ap flour. Not really diet friendly, but completely yummy!

1 1/2 cups ap flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cold butter

Preheat oven to 375. Blend these ingredients together until crumbly, make well in center and add
1 cup cold milk. Mix dough, turn out of floured space and knead about 8-10 times.

Roll into 12" long recatangle about 1/3 inch thick.


1/3 cup butter, softened or even half melted will work
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins or currants if desired. (I don't add these)

Mix together first 3 ingredients, place 1 tsp. of filling in bottom of each of the 12 well sprayed or greased muffin tins.

Spread the remaining filling on the recangle of dough and roll as a jelly roll. Mark, then cut roll into 12 even rolls and place cut side down in the muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 min.

Top with powdered sugar or cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

These are more like a biscuit than a yeast roll, but they are soooooooooooooo good!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

Here's the first installment of my inner Martha coming out. I was cruising the blog-o-sphere last week and found a recipe for homemade yogurt in the crockpot. My kids BIG HEART yogurt. All of them. So, since we go through 16 yogurt sticks and a 32 oz container of yogurt every week, I thought I'd make some. It didn't sound that hard...

Homemade Yogurt

8 cups (half gallon) milk....they recommend using whole til you get the hang of it then you can use a reduced fat version if you wish but people posted that they used 1% and skim with good results...more on this later)

1/2 cup yogurt starter (this can be 1/2 cup of active culture store-bought yogurt or yogurt starter from the health food store...guess which option I chose?)

Pour the milk into a crockpot (4 or 6 quart works well) and turn it on low for two and a half hours. Unplug and leave covered for 3 hours. Scoop out 2 cups of the milk and whisk in the yogurt starter. Pour that mixture back in with the milk and stir to combine. Replace lid and wrap the crockpot in a heavy bath towel. (I wrapped mine and put it in the oven that I had preheated to 100* and turned off) Then allow this to sit for 8-12 hours (go to bed, leave it alone). The longer it sits, the tangier it gets....so closer to 8 hours will be sweeter than 12 hours...TADA! Yogurt!! That's it. Easy peasy, right?! I thought so.

Riley was my first guinea pig and he didn't roll his nose up at it! Mine sat for close to 13 hours so it wasn't "sweet" but the soury tang was good. I used whole milk and it wasn't too thick, but wasn't watery either, the lower the fat content the thinner the yogurt will be. There are two possible remedies for this....when whisking the starter into the milk, add two tbsp dry milk powder (not instant!) or an envelope of unflavored gelatin. Many people have had good luck with those options. Or a third option is to line a strainer with cheesecloth and strain your yogurt. This will make it really really thick like sour cream. I believe this is what they call "greek yogurt". The whey that you strain out can be saved for other uses. I know that it works for making dog treats if you do that....

Now, who likes plain yogurt? Not me! At the very least I like it vanilla. Some fruit is nice, also. Here's where the fun part is! Stir in some flavor. I used strawberry freezer jam in part of the batch and that turned out really well. I didn't have to add sugar to the yogurt since the jam has plenty to spare. This morning, we added some raspberry jam to the plain and it was awesome! A little vanilla a powdered sugar might be nice, too. Maybe mango? The possibilies are only as limited as your family's palate! Mine like fruit...maybe you have a baby and want to mix in some sweet potatoes or something. Can't hurt to try, right?!

Oh, and I made this Saturday and finished it Sunday morning. There's about one cup of yogurt left right now....I think they liked it.

OH! I almost forgot! You can use the yogurt that you made for starter on the next batch one or two times if you used store bought yogurt or longer if you use the starter from the health food store. And your homemade yogurt will keep as long as 7-10 days....if your family doesn't eat it all by then! Enjoy!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Watch this space!

Over the next week, I am going to get in touch with my inner Martha....or Julia........or whatever cook/chef you prefer. I have THREE new recipes I am going to try and share here. Ok, two are new and one is something that I've only made once before but it was good and I haven't shared it here because it was long before I shared my recipes online. So, watch for some new goodies next week!! (Or maybe they'll flop....we'll see!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Caramel Apple Bread

This is something that Tim brought me home from Kwik Trip and I loved it. When I can bake, why should I pay per piece what I can pay for a whole loaf if I make it myself? I think this one is better than the one I had tasted.

Caramel Apple Bread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cups shredded apples, a combination of sweet and tart is really
nice I use Braeburn and Granny Smith
1/4 cup fat free plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup caramel bits

Grease the bottom and sides of 1-8x4x2 loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center and set aside. In another bowl, mix egg, sugar, apple, vanilla, and yogurt. Combine with flour mixture. Fold in caramel bits. Pour into loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Bread Machine Dinner Rolls

I made these for dinner the other night. It's the first time that dinner rolls actually worked out for me. The batch makes 24 rolls....and there were only 2 left at the end of the meal so I think everyone else liked them, too. Tucker ate the last two for breakfast the next morning....he saw them on the counter and whined, begging for them.

Dinner Rolls

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 2 1/2 cups AP and 1 cup whole wheat)
1 package yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 beaten egg

Place all the ingredients in the bread maker in the order the manufacturer recommends. Run it on the dough setting. Watch it through the first kneading and add milk, 1 tsp at a time, until it makes a nice ball. When it's done, shape the dough into 24 balls. Let rise in a warm place 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped. Brush with butter when you take them out of the oven. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Microwave s'mores

I stumbled upon this somewhere in Bloggydom today. I can't remember where. What I do remember is that this woman was trying to use up her baking supplies from Christmas...(who does that? I use that stuff all year 'round.) Anyway, she was trying to use hers up and had a neat little treat idea for the kiddies. Microwave S'mores! I thought I'd try it out before the kids got home from school....you know so that I knew what I was doing and that they were actually edible. Get this....totally easy and completely yummy! Almost as good as campfire s'mores. Almost. So, here it is! Enjoy!

Microwave S'Mores

graham crackers
chocolate chips
mini marshmallows

Place the chocolate chips and marshmallows on a graham cracker square and microwave 30-45 seconds. See? Simple!