"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cranberry Salsa

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. She makes this salsa during the holidays. It is different and we all enjoy it. This past week I got all but two of the ingredients in the recipe in my Bounitful Basket so I decided I would make Ruth's recipe where we wouldn't be spending Thanksgiving with her this year.

Cranberry Salsa
1 orange, unpeeled, quartered and seeded.
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed.
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 med. green pepper, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 Tbls. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add orange quarters. Process until coarsely chopped, stopping once to scrape down sides. Add cranberries, sugar, and salt; pulse 2 or 3 times or until cranberries are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in greenpepper and next 3 ingredients. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with sweet potato chips or as a spread for turkey sandwiches. (Ruth also freezes this recipe)

Sweet Potato Chips
1 (8 oz.) sweet potato, peeled
vegetable cooking spray
1/4 tsp. salt
cookie sheet, cooking spray - 325 degree oven for 15-25 min.
sprinkle with salt.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

This recipe comes all the way from Portugal. This is the soup Jack was served in his mission home. His mission president and wife gave us the recipe and the hand blender to make it for our wedding. We enjoy this soup and its simplicity. I love that the Portuguese make their soup so full of goodness. This week as I served this to my family Jack shared with our boys that the way the Portuguese start every meal is with a hot bowl of soup. We have been making this soup for 12 years now. I love that it is so good and cheap too. We had a small pumpkin given to us for the boys to carve that didn't get used so I used it here. It made 5 batches of soup! So we were able to share with all of our neighbors. It is so wonderful to share the bounty that we have been given. We have much to be thankful for everyday. Hope you enjoy this soup it is a great fall and winter dinner when served with a nice roll/bread and a salad of choice.

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

2 Leeks (I can't always get these so I have substituted 1-2 shallots in its place)
Small amount of olive oil and butter (1 Tablespoon of each is what I usually do)
3 cups pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed (like usual I always double the carrots in all my soups. In this soup I feel they are added for a sweetener as well as for giving it its rich color)
1 small onion, chopped (roughly 1 cup)
2-3 cubes Chicken bouillon
Water (see instructions but it ends up being around 4-6 cups)
Salt and Pepper
Half & Half cream, if desired (milk can also be used)

Saute leeks and onions in pan (a pan that you can use rival hand blender in. If you don't have a hand blender then you can use a regular blender, but the soup will have to cool more before you blend it) Add pumpkin, potatoes, and carrots vegetables; cover the vegetables with water and add bouillon cubes. Cook until vegetables are tender. Cool slightly then blend all vegetables together with blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add Half & Half if desired. Heat again after adding cream but do not let it come to a boil. Garnish with green onions or chives.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Orzo Chicken Noodle Soup

Last week I tried two new recipes on one night--bad idea! Main dish was a chicken dish in the crock pot I really didn't like the flavor, Jack hate it but didn't have much to say, the kids didn't like it all that well. The other was a Brown Butter and Cinnamon Orzo. This recipe was created because I was trying to find a recipe that I could use the pound of orzo that I had cooked. I did a search for orzo soups and found a few online. One was a pumpkin orzo from Paula Dean (I have yet to try it.) A couple others were a chicken noodle of sorts. The one I modified was from Food Network chef Anne Burrell. I chose hers because she used cinnamon and nutmeg in her chicken noodle soup. I thought this would be a good choice because my orzo had a cinnamon flavor on it. If you are interested in Anne Burrell 's original recipe check it out on foodnetwork.com.

Jill's Orzo Noodle Soup

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch diced
4 ribs celery, cut 1/2-inch diced
5 carrots, cut 1/2-inch diced
Kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon)
2 gloves garlic, smashed
1 lb. boneless chicken meat-use white and brown meats as desired, diced into small pieces
8 cups water
9 Bouillon cubes or 3 Tablespoon Chicken Base
1 teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups Orzo (prepared prior cooked to "al dente" in a separate pot of well-salted water)
* My recipe is very different from Anne's recipe which called for 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 grates of fresh nutmeg. I left these out because I was using the Brown Butter and Cinnamon Orzo left overs I had.

Coat a large stock pot with olive oil. Add onions, celery, garlic, and chicken pieces. Cook until chicken is no longer pink . Season with salt. Fill the pot with water and bouillon or chicken base. Add seasonings and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add lemon juice and simmer soup for an additional 30 minutes.

Spoon some of the prepared Orzo into the bottom of each dish and ladle hot soup over the pasta. Having as few or as many Orzo noodles as you wish.

Lemon Chicken

This morning I was asking my boys what we should make for dinner tonight. They said, "Pasgetti" so we might just have spaghetti and meatballs. I was curious what they thought of last nights Lemon Chicken, so I asked. How many stars was last nights dinner. One star, four stars...? Cameron replied 5 stars, Quin piped up and said 8 stars! Then Cameron said 100 stars. The number kept climbing so I said, "Did you guys really like it?" Their eyes got as big as their smiles as the nodded their heads. So folk I guess this one is a keeper. For me it is a keeper because it is so quick and easy and I always have everything on hand to make it. Once again this is a recipe my sister Echo, who is a great cook recommended. (I think she is going to get her on Label...guess that's like my cooking Hall of Fame. ;-)) Echo said this is her go to meal when she is short on time and doesn't know what she is making.

This is a east and quick gourmet dish that could be served with anything from a baked potato to noodles or rice of choice. A nice seasonal vegetable or salad rounds out the meal perfectly.

Lemon Chicken

3 Whole chicken breast, boned, skinned, and halved (I used tenders and pounded them into cutlet like pieces).
1 1/2 cup flour (I only used 1/2 cup for starters. You can always add more so you don't have waste.)
1/3 cup Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Wash and dry chicken pieces. Pound them flat with a mallet. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet. Put the flour in a plastic bag and drop the breast in to coat. Regulate the heat to moderately high, and put the chicken breasts in the skillet. Cook approx. 3 minutes on each side. When they are done, salt and pepper them and put them on an oven proof dish and into a 250 degree oven to keep warm while you make the sauce. (I personally added 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper right in with my flour before coating the breast so I didn't have to worry about it. I also didn't put mine in the oven while making the sauce. I simply covered it with foil. The sauce comes together so quickly I think its a waste of energy to warm the oven for that amount of time. Unless you have it on for something else.)

Add 4 Tablespoons butter to the chicken skillet and melt, scrapping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Remove from heat; add 4 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley (I didn't, tasted fine still), and the juice from 1/2 lemon. Pour hot sauce over breasts and serve. (I spooned it over each piece with a Tablespoon).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beef Stroganoff-Crock Pot

Yes, another Beef Stroganoff for the crock pot. We do eat other dishes, honest!
I didn't get a picture of this dish. Most nights lately I feel lucky if I can get dinner on the table by 6 or 6:30. Life with the baby is good and normal as far as babies go. What is not normal in our lives at this point is how little we see of our daddy. (I always love having extra help with the kids while I am cooking...a grown-ups help that is!) Because it takes me so long to prepare and cook dinner with one hand while trying to keep my composure during the chaos with kids running, playing, or hanging out under my feet crying that they are hungry I am grateful to have recipes like this one for the crock pot my sister-in-law Echo gave me. It earned 5 stars at her house. Jack and I really liked it, the boys ate it but didn't love the sauce. It all worked out great because I am off dairy for Daisy right now so I kept the sauce separate to we could add it to our liking. (I had to snitch one bite so I would know how a complete bite would taste. ;-))

This makes a huge roast so I use the shredded leftover beef )because the sauce wasn't mixed in to make my easy beef pot pie-1 for dinner and 1 for freezer. I thought about beef enchiladas too but the cheese took it off the list for now.

Beef Stroganoff

2 lbs Beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into thin slices (about 1/2 inch think and 3 inches long) [I just put the roast in whole and mine was about 3 1/2 lbs)
1 Large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 lb White mushrooms, trimmed and halfed. Quarter if they are large [I used 8 oz package]
Course salt and black pepper
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Cooked thin Egg noodles
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish, (optional) [I didn't use]

In 5-to-6 quart slow cooker, toss beef, onion, and mushrooms with 1 1/2 teaspoons course salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, about 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high.

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons water. Ladle 1 cup liquid that has cooked off your beef into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. With slow cooker turned off, stir in cornstarch mixture, then sour cream and mustard. Serve beef over noodles; sprinkle with dill if desired. [I just mixed the sauce all in my small sauce pan so we could serve it separately. It reminds me a little of a hollandaise sauce in its flavor.)

If you prefer you can make this in the OVEN: Preheat oven to 350. Follow steps for the crock pot using a 5-quart oven or heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid instead of slow cooker. Add 2 cups water, and cover. Transfer to oven; cook until beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Proceed with the sauce instructions as listed above.