Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oriental Chicken

I have yet to make this. But it will soon be in production, today! So perhaps you might want to try this out with me at the same time. So whatever floats your boat (or sinks it for that matter). It sounds good though, and real easy with little fancy ingredients. Heck, it barely has any ingredients at all, and anything "ostentatious" is optional! Check it-

  • 1/2 c. soy sauce (reduced sodium, preferred)
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 2 T. sesame seeds ("optional"- but not really! See comments.)
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the less chicken, the more sauce... choose your poison).

1. Mix together everything but the chicken.
2. Place the bird breasts in the slow cooker, spooning 2 T. of sauce over each piece. Pour any remaining sauce over top after the pot is full o' chicken.
3. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours.
4. Serve with rice (jasmine; ideally brown jasmine, found in most expensive whole food markets *sigh*)

PS- I think I will cut up some green onions (from the garden!) and adorn my meal with them. I'll probably also serve it all with some cooked frozen veggies. Note: since we're placing the meat on the bottom of the crockpot, I believe it is safe to use frozen breasts cooked for 6 hours. And I almost always recommend cooking everything real slow, meaning on low (unless you're in a pinch). But even then, I never cook anything faster in the crock than 4 hours.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Potato Pancakes

These are great served for breakfast with fried eggs on top, or for dinner with a side salad.  And they're especially tasty with bacon sauce!  Mmm, bacon.

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and shredded -or- 1 1/2 c. dried hashbrowns, redhydrated
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced -or- 1 T. dried onions, rehydrated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste (vague tip: lots of salt, but not too salty...)
  • 2-4 T. coconut oil
1. Mix all of the ingerdients, but the oil, together.
2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add 1-2 T. of oil, enough to coat the bottom.
4. Spoon 2-3 piles of the potato mixture into pan once the oil is hot (not before mind you!!!); otherwise you end up with soft and greesy cakes, yuck! Don't make them too thick or too big either. About palm sized should do it and I like them better thin than dense.  Flatten out mounds in skillet, before flipping.
5. Cook pancakes until golden and crispy around the edges, then flip and repeat. Takes about 4 minutes per side.
6.  Add additional oil as needed and cook remaining potato mixture.  Keep prepared pancakes in a warm oven until ready to serve.
7. Serve with ketchup or a dressing of your choice. (I do not recommend syrup for these puppies).

PS- if you would like these to be your main meal, then add another potato and a bit more onion and cheese. But this makes about 8 pancakes.

Curried Cashew Salad

I cannot even begin to describe how tasty this salad is! Mmmm. You'll just have to trust me and try it. I would almost guarantee that you'll love it, unless you don't like one of the ingredients... then it's a crap shoot. But we love it, and everyone I've made it thoroughly enjoys it also.

  • 1-2 heads of romaine lettuce (or any other kind)
  • 1/2 c. red grapes, halved
  • 3/4 c. cashew halves
  • 1 T. melted butter
  • 1 t. fresh rosemary
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt (unless the cashews are already salted)
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped OR bacon bits (optional)

  • 3 T. vinegar
  • 3 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Toast chashews in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, until golden brown. Remove from pan to a separate and cooler location.
2. Cook bacon until crisp. Chop and set aside.
3. Mix the melted butter, curry, sugar, cayenne, salt (if needed), cashews and rosemary- shake it up in a tupperware for added ease and storage. If you do not have fresh rosemary, you can use the dried spice in half the amount. (Any recipe that calls for fresh herbs usually calls for twice the amount of its dried counterpart. For example, 2 t. of fresh **** = 1 t. of dried ****). However, I recommend fresh rosemary because it's not so poky in the mouth, and we don't want you spitting out your unmasticated rosemary; that would be bad table manners.
4. Now it's time for the dressing. I've used those dressing containers, but I find that this method works best: a bowl and whisk. So, with that being said, stir together the vinegar, mustard and honey. Then, slowly whisk in the oil. Add salt and pepper according to your taste.
5. Toss the greens, grapes and bacon and top with the tasty nut ensemble. Serve the dressing on the side to be added according to everyone's preference.
6. Let your tastebuds acclimate to the different, yet harmonious and exotic flavors that will be parading around in your mouth.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Shopping Tips 101

Any tips that I might be mentioning here is simply what I have learned from my own personal experience. With that said, results may vary. Hahaha. Anyway, I thought I might pass this tid-bit of "insight" on to you gals out there:

Before you create any meal plan and/or shopping list, make a list of what you already have. Go and raid that freezer of yours, your pantry, your fridge, even your food storage (check to see if anything needs to be rotated). During the process you'll find things that have expired, are frost bitten, or are too high in carbohydrates (shout out to Abs!)! Whatever your reasons for throwing out any unwanted food, get it done as Step 1.

Step 2: Write down everything that you have. Organize your list so it's easy to follow and manage. I like to group things by produce (divided into fruits and veggies), dairy, canned, grains, spices, and meat. Keep this list on hand and during the month or weeks to follow cross out what you have used so that it is always up to date.

Step 3: Scour through any cookbooks, magazines, recipes, etc. to find meals that will help you use what you already have. There's no sense in going to Costco and buying a case of olives if you already have 5 cans at home (unless you're an olive-eating banshee)! And I know of at least 3 recipes off the top of my head that ask for olives... make sure all your meal options are known!

Step 4: Fill up the rest of your month with meals that you want to try and that don't necessarily have the ingredients you already have. A note of caution: if you are trying to save money (like me, which is the whole reason I started this process), only allow yourself to get "fancy" ingredients enough for 1-2 experimental meals per month. If a recipe for Asian Short Ribs calls for a can of plum sauce, then by all means get it! But in case you're not such a big fan upon devouring said meal, then you've only "wasted" your money on one meal, not five.

Another thing worth mentioning is to keep the majority of your meals simple. Recipes that call for basic ingredients and basic preparation/creation will most likely taste good and be less stressful to make. The reason I never display how much preparation my recipes take is because it varies for each person. Get comfortable with your style of cooking. For example, I know that Rachel Ray's recipes range from somewhat easy to somewhat complex and what only takes her a half hour to make takes me an hour to make. So instead of using what someone else says as preparation time, read through the entire recipe and visualize (sounds cheesy, I know) how long it will take you. If you get stressed just reading it, then don't do it.

Step 5: go shopping! Only get what is on your list. While you're creating your list in the first place, make sure to think of everything that you need and might need. Then, when you're actually shopping you won't be tempted to get those specialty sale items; because if your list didn't call for them in the first place and you don't really need them, then you aren't really saving any money, even though it's on sale, are you?! Also, if you're trying to eat healthy, steer clear of the isles unless your list calls for a trip down one. Shop around the outside of the grocery store, where everything is fresh and de-junkified.

Hope this helps! It's made a difference for us, that's for sure! One more thing: I usually make two shopping lists. One for Costco and one for the nearby grocery store. I buy things like chicken -and cans of olives- in bulk because I actually save a lot of money. But be careful at such warehouse stores too. You'll be tempted to buy a lot of things that you don't necessarily need and they might not be a huge savings in the first place. So you might want to write down how much things costs per oz. at your next grocery excursion, and then when you show up at Sam's Club or wherever, you can compare prices and make sure you're getting the best deal.

Good luck ladies and be sure to let me know if you're interested in my Opinion Poll (previous post). It'll take some work to get it up and running, so the more of you that are interested, the better -it'll be worth it for me! And make sure to let me know what's worked for you in the "kitchen stadium!"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Opinion Poll

Ok, so I've been toying with this idea and I was wondering if all you dearhearts would be interested in my crazy notion. Would you like me to share my monthly meal calendars, shopping lists included? I believe that I could set it up on my Google Calendar and share it with other users... and then when it's time to make the meal, you just come here and follow the recipe! Give me some feedback gals!

Spicy Peanut Sauce

This is quite a popular little number among my family and friends, with thousands of variations.  Super yum.

  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (I like chunky)
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. ginger
  • 1/2 t. cayenne
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 1-3 packets of Ramen Noodles, cooked (throw out that MSG-laden seasoning packet, yuck!)
  • frozen veggies, stir fry style (throw in enough for the size of your family)
  • 4 oz. bean sprouts (opt.)
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro, if fancied

1. Heat up chicken broth (1/2 t. chicken bouillon and 1/2 c. water in my case - no MSG here!)
2. Using a whisk or fork, beat in peanut butter until smooth.
3. Add soy sauce, ginger and red pepper to peanut sauce (Adjust spices to your taste and make sure they are evenly distributed/mixed throughout the sauce).
4. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add your frozen veggies.
5. Add the cooked Ramen noodles when veggies are not-so-frozen, and stir fry the lovely pair.
6. Toss peanut sauce with said lovely pair, or leave it on the side for people to add their desired amount. Sprinkle with cilantro.
7. Serve with tissues ('cause your nose might be running).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Coconut Balls (jumping the gun, part trois)

This should be my last and final post of the day. But once again, just had to mention just in case one of you needed some inspiration for your turkey day! This comes all the way from Kent, WA from a wonderful Australian neighbor of ours (during our summer stay with Brad's folks). She's an excellent and talented cook, but this recipe is easy peesey! I believe that you can use any dried fruit you'd like. Heck, throw some nuts in there, whatever you please!

  • 2 c. chopped, dried apricots (cranberries are also good, etc.)
  • 2 c. raw, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 can condensed milk

1. Mix it all together, with the spoon(s) God gave you; your hands.
2. Roll into pop-in-your-mouth sized balls.
3. Roll the newly created, beautiful spheres in some more coconut.
4. Chill in the fridge.
5. Pop those suckers into that pie-hole of yours and let your eyes roll back in their sockets.
6. Repeat.
7. Ignore any calorie related thoughts.

Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes (jumping the gun)

Seeing as this is a new blog, and I have the right to have blog-itis (shout out to Michelle!), I've decided to post some recipes that I will be trying out in the "near" future. I also figured that this will allow y'all to try it before the big day: Christmas. Yes, such is the holiday in question. And the recipe: Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes! I've decided to make this our own Christmas morning tradition. I'll talk more about family meal traditions later, but this one I thought worth mentioning early.

I tried it out last year while spending our first Christmas with the Summers family. That week we went to a beautiful camp on Vashon Island, WA, and spent a few days with family and friends. It was there that we tried a variation of pumpkin pancakes. But we had it as dessert, and it was a first time, and it was made in large quantities and from scratch!

So, I'm going to use a different recipe, for just the three of us, for a breakfast spread worthy of the sugar plum dreams the night before! After searching around, I've decided that this is the one for me. Makes about 16 pancakes. Thanks to the Cora Needham House and Bed&Breakfast Inns online! If anyone tries this before I do, I want to hear how it turns out! But I'm excited, nonetheless!

  • 2 c. Bisquick baking mix
  • 2 T. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 12 oz. can undiluted evaporated milk
  • 1 t. ground allspice
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 2 T. vegetable oil (I'll be using olive oil, thank you)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

1. In large mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, sugar, cinnamon, and allspice.
2. Add evaporated milk, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and vanilla; beat until smooth.
3. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter onto lightly greased pre-heated griddle. Cook until top surface is bubbly and edges are dry. Turn, cook until golden brown.
4. Serve with warm maple syrup to which you have added toasted pecans - or powdered sugar and/or fresh whipped cream (flavored with vanilla and cinnamon)! Warm chocolate syrup is good, too.
5. Beverage recommendation: Hot apple cider and/or hot chocolate, with whipped cream and cinnamon to boot!
6. Revel in all that is full-y and heave ho-ho-ho.

Southwest Chicken (slow cooker)

I've touted this recipe to most of those who care (and have thereby already visited this blog). But I will mention it again, and publish its recipe in all its glory of quickness (yet it cooks in a slow cooker... ironic)!

  • 4-6 chicken breasts -or- 1-2 cans of chicken, drained
  • 1/2 - 1 c. salsa
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed/drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, rinsed/drained
  • 1 can olives, drained (whole or diced)
  • 1 c. frozen corn OR 1 can of corn, drained
  • handful minced cilantro (opt)
  • dairy of choice (opt): package of cream cheese/1 c. sour cream/1 c. plain yogurt/1 c. cottage cheese/1 c. shredded cheese -or- 1/2 c. prepared milk and 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
  1. Place chicken on bottom of crock-pot.
  2. Mix cumin with salsa and pour on top of chicken.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, except the dairy of your choice, and cook on high for 2 hours.  Reduce heat to low and cook for another 2-3 hours.
  4. Place your fatty, low-fat or nonfat choice of dairy into cooker about 20 minutes before serving.
  5. Serving options: Serve with rice (jasmine preferably, yummy); shred chicken and use as a chip-dip; OR shred chicken and use as a taco filling (my recommendation: fry up some corn tortillas, mmm).
  6. Stuff you faces, scarf it down and "Fat-dog" it.
Leftovers make for great lunches, too. It should be tasty as is (aka. cold) for a salad, with fried tortilla strips to top it off.  Enjoy!  *B

solely recipes; for the soul

I just had to add that last bit as a tagline! Ha!

I've decided to create yet another blog. While this will most likely be similar to others in its witty banter, its sole purpose matches that of a recipe box. Yes my friends, this is a world of meals for y'all! In case your mind is on the fritz but you'd like a meal while putting on the ritz, you've come to the wrong place! I take that back... maybe by some freak chance I will post a fancy schmancy recipe to wow your palates. But what's more likely is that I will post easy, money-friendly meals that I made that very day! Each post will be about my prepared meal du jour, with accompanying ingredients and directions!

Feel free to comment on anything that does or doesn't work for you. A lot of these will be created out of my imagination. However, a lot of them will be from cookbooks or other recipes from friends and family that I try. I guess it will just give you an idea of how I prepare my meals, what with little room and moolah that we have! And hopefully it will provide you with some ideas of your own, just in case.... What fun, eh? Oy!!!