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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stir-fried Shrimp and Asparagus in Lemon Sauce

We all love asparagus at our home. The past several weeks we have gotten a pound of asparagus in our bountiful baskets. Every time I ask my kids what do you guys think I should make for dinner. Quin always responds quickly with a cheer SHRIMP! I have tried to tell him that we save shrimp for special occasion dinners because they can be expensive. He accepts this but it hasn't stopped him from putting in this request each time I inquire for a dinner suggestion. So for no special reason other than I needed an idea for dinner, we had all the ingredients for this stir-fry, and it was quick! What more could I ask for!! Call it a special occasion and get cook'n! (Reference: The Best Light Recipe cook book p.285)

Stir-Fried Shrimp and Asparagus in lemon Sauce
Serves 4-5
Let the Shrimp marinate as you make the sauce and prepare the vegetables.

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry (I use the Sherry cooking whine found by the vinegars in the store)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 Scallions, white parts minced and green parts cut into 1/4-inch lengths (1/4 cup sweet onions minced)
5 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 lb asparagus, tough ends removed, sliced on the bias into 2-inch lengths
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks

Toss the shrimp with the soy sauce and sherry in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, scallion whites, and 2 teaspoons of the oil.

Heat 1 more teaspoon oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the shrimp and coo, stirring occasionally until curled and bight pink, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a clean bowl.

Add 1 more teaspoon oil to the pan return to high heat until shimmering, Add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a clean bowl. Add the remaining teaspoon oil and carrots to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. REturn the asparagus to the pan.

Clear the center of the pan and add the garlic mixture. Cook, mashing the garlic mixture into the pan with the back of a spatula, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Stir the garlic mixture into vegetables. Add the scallion greens and shrimp and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to combine, then add it to the pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and toss until the all the ingredients are well coated with sauce and sizzling hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.


Makes enough for 1 stir-fry recipe
The flavors in this sauce are mild and work especially well with shrimp.

6 Tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been in one of my unmotivated, "I need something new, exciting, yet quick to cook!" modes. I snagged this recipe from the Pioneer Woman blog. It's nothing that new (I have a recipe similar for the crock pot, but different ingredients), but it is a nice change form the Taco (beef) Soup I make during the cold months. I really enjoyed it. I didn't use the whole corn tortillas. Remember I am unmotivated and lazy right now! I simply crunched corn chips into it-EASY! This recipe was easy but doesn't win the race for being the quickest start to finish.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
ADAPTED from Pioneer Women's blog (I've changed many of the spices)

2 Whole Boneless, skinless Chicken Breast
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Diced Onion
1/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes (Or use 1 can Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chilies)
1/2 (4 oz) can diced chilies (Omit if using the Rotel)
8 cups Chicken Broth (made with my chicken base or bouillon)
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 cups Hot Water (I left this out hoping to not need to simmer for reduction to save time)
2 cans Black Beans, Drained
5 Whole Corn Tortillas, cut into uniform strips around 2 to 3 inches {or Corn chips ;-)}

Sour Cream
Diced Avocado
Diced Red Onion
Salsa or Pico De Gallo
Grated Monterey Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili peppers, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon olive oil chicken breast, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix. Place chicken breast on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red peppers, green peppers, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir. Pour in tomatoes, chilies, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings adding more if needed--add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to under salt. Turn off hear and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.

Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream and your other favorite garnishes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cracked Wheat Blender Pancakes

I took this recipe from Jamie Cook's It Up blog. I was excited to try them because I don't have a grinder to use up all our wheat and it was exciting to think I could be resourceful with our supple. This recipe was enjoyed for dinner. I was also excited that my family liked them. It will be great to be able to make a comfort food that kids will eat if we are ever have to survive on our food storage. It's Healthy too. If you are not used to eating 100% whole grain ease into it so you don't end up with a tummy ache!

Cracked Wheat Blender Pancakes

Yield: 16 pancakes

1 C milk (I use 1%)

1 1/3 C wheat, whole kernels

2 eggs

1 T sugar

1/4 t salt

2 T canola oil

1 t baking soda

2 t baking powder

1. Pour milk and wheat into your blender. Liquefy for 4 minutes. Be sure you have a strong blender with a powerful motor.

2. While still mixing add egg, sugar, salt, oil and baking soda.

3. When the mixture is almost done blending add the baking powder.

4. Cook on a hot griddle.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Okay I admit it! I have not had the motivation to cook up a storm, make my menu, or anything of the sort! I have been preoccupied with house decisions and trying harder to focus on the things that matter most! Yep you guessed it my recipe blog becomes a low priority, but something I still enjoy so I am trying not to give it up completely. We all need a little pleasure in life right!

I finally got online and said that I was going to choose just a couple of recipes that might help jump start my enthusiasm for the kitchen duty again! I was looking for meals in 30 minutes or less or quick and simple meals. Does any one out there have some good standby's that they always go to when they are not wanting to spend all afternoon/evening in the kitchen? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you would share! (Yeah Linda I guess I am talking to you! LOL! You seem to be the only personal to leave me a comment from time to time. Thanks for checking on me. ;-) )

So I found another soup that is a keeper at my home. I got it off a blog who got it off a blog, etc. Then I modified it to my liking the original called for a ridiculous 4 cans of cream of chicken soups! I thought that was a little excessive. I cut it back the amount of canned soup and added more vegetables and it was a hit for my family. We like soups, so if you are soup loving like us you might enjoy this too.

Jill's Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

10 cups water
10 bullion cubes or 10 teaspoons Chicken Base (I love my ckn base. I buy it at Costco)
4 Chicken Boneless, skinless (You can start with it Frozen! LOVE IT!)
(I like a combo of white and dark so I use 2 boneless thighs and 4 chicken tenders--Costco chicken is my fav)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 boxes Rice a Roni Wild Rice flavor
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 small can stems and peices Mushrooms
2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup

Fill your pot with water bring to a boil. Add chicken, onion, bullion, salt, and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer about 25 minutes. Remove chicken pieces from the boiling broth after the 25 minutes. Use scissors or knife and cut or shred your chicken. Return chicken to the pot. The chicken should be cooked through.

Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and boxes of rice (pour in the rice and seasoning packets that come along in the box). Cover and let simmer about 15 minutes more, until the veggies and rice are cooked.

Add the cream of chicken soups, turn up the heat and let it come to a boil. Once the soup is thickened (this takes just a few minutes after it comes to a boil again) it is ready to be served.

Serve it up with your favorite slice of bread and a side salad.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes

I went searching for a recipe for a chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter filling after having a taste of on my mom's friend brought her while I was visiting in UT over a year ago. I don't know if this is the best one out there, but I was willing to try it at least once! My boys loved them. I personally thought the cake was very dry. So maybe next time I will opt for a moist box cake or a better homemade cake recipe I already have. They were very rich to say the least. At 300 calories and 17 grams of fat per cupcake I would have thought that they would have melted in my mouth! I think I will count my blessings that they didn't and that they weren't a huge temptation for me. Adding 20 lbs instead of losing it is not the way to bring in the New Year now is it?! If you try these I hope they bring you joy! Most chocolate goodies do that for me ;-).

For the Chocolate Cupcake:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk

Chocolate Frosting
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cups of two standard-size 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Chocolate Cupcakes:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy, 1 minute. On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with milk, beggining and ending with flour mixture. Fill each prepared muffin cup two-thirds full, about 3 Tablespoons (I use my medium size ice cream scoop.)

Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan to wire rack; let cool.

In a medium-size bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. On low speed, gradually beat in sugar and 3 Tablespoons milk. On high speed, beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute. If too thick, beat in 1 Tablespoon milk. When cupcakes are cooled, spoon filling into large pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch plain round tip. Insert tip into top of each cupcake; squeeze as much filling into center of each as possible (the top will bulge).

Chocolate Frosting:
In large glass bowl, microwave milk chocolate pieces on high power 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to melt. With mixer on medium speed, beat in sour cream until fluffy and good spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes. Sprinkle edge with peanuts if desired. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days.