Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

I am a sucker for some great Chinese food. Chinese food and Mexican are probably my favorites. (Not combined though haha). This recipe that I have used for years is better than some Chinese that I have had in restaurants. It isn't the best...but high up there. I don't care for rice so I usually just eat this by itself. It is an adaptation of the recipe that is on the Food Network Website from the Food Network Kitchens. I had a lot of broccoli left over from a catering over the weekend so I bought some chicken tenders and had a meal waiting to go.

Chicken and Broccoli Stirfry
(adapted from Food Network Kitchens)

6 cups of broccoli
1 lb chicken tenders or breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBL sugar
1 TBL plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 TBL of soy sauce
1 TBL of sherry wine (or cooking wine or chicken broth)
1 TBL of sesame oil (or chicken broth)
1/2 tsp plus 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBL hoisin sauce
3 scallions sliced, white and light green only
1/3 cup plus 2 TBL of water
pepper to taste
3 TBL oil

- Steam broccoli in the microwave or on the stove to where it is fairly tender.
- Create marinade by combining soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, (or broth), half of the ginger, 1 clove garlic, scallions, sugar, 1 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt
- Dice the chicken and add to the marinade. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
- Heat 1 TBL of oil on high heat and saute broccoli. Add in 2 TBL water, 1/4 tsp salt, pepper to taste, remaining ginger and garlic. Cook 4-5 minutes until broccoli is good and tender.
- Remove broccoli to a plate or bowl and return pan to stove
- Heat 2 TBL of oil and add the chicken and all of marinade to pan. Add red pepper flakes and cook until chicken is beginning to look cooked.
- Stir in hoisin sauce, add the broccoli back in and stir until combined.
- In a small bowl mix 1/3 cup of water and 1 TBL of cornstarch
- Add to cooking mixture and let boil until sauce thickens.
- Serve over rice or noodles or by itself.

So yummy!

Pinto Beans for Dad

My Dad loves taking soup and/or beans to work for lunch everyday.  It is a filling meal and for the most part, I make him pretty healthy stuff to eat.  Although beans aren't a lot of people's favorite thing to eat, they are cheap, super good for you and can actually taste good if you do them right.  I started with a pound of dried pinto beans and ended up with 4 pints of beans to freeze for Dad's lunches.  I estimate that this pot of beans cost around $4.50 to make.  You can't beat that for 4 lunches.

Many times (at least in the south) beans are made with a lot of pork fat in them.  I have used ham bones, fat back, etc in mine before when I had it on hand.  It ended up as a leftover ham bone from a holiday most of the time.  Awhile back I came up with a good way to still have great tasting beans without all of the animal fat in them.  No, they don't taste like ham but they still have a great taste that isn't just water, salt and beans.  

The Way I Make My Pintos
1 lb of dried pinto beans
4 cups of chicken broth (you can do 2 if that's all you have...just add more water)
6 cups of water (estimated...maybe 5)
1 1/2 TBL sugar
2 TBL of Canola Oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp of black pepper
2 tsp of salt

Before adding any of the above ingredients, sort through your beans and make sure that you don't find any rocks.  I found 2 just in the bag that I had the other day.  After this cover them with water in a pan and bring to a hard boil.  Let boil for 1 minute and then drain.  Put back on stove and add all of the above ingredients.  Bring to a slow boil and turn down on low and allow to simmer.  It will probably take a good 3 hours for your beans to be mushy enough to eat.  You don't want them to be crispy still.  If you like a thicker broth then continue to let simmer.  If you notice that they are getting too thick and aren't done then you should add some more water. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Spicy Mexican Chicken Soup

I love coming up with different soup recipes.  Soup is such a great opportunity to get rid of the extra canned goods, chopped veggies, etc that you have.  I had some leftover chicken from dinner the other night so I figured that I would make some soup in the crockpot today.  I love my crockpot because not only does it ease the amount of cooking that you have to do, but it also uses a lot less electricity compared to cooking on the stove.  I have made a similar recipe a few times but it is really based on what I have on hand.  Here's what I put in it this time and it was a big hit. 

Spicy Mexican Chicken Soup
4 cups of chicken broth (you could use 2 cups of broth and 2 cups of water if that is all you have.
1 small can of V8 juice (can shaped like a soda can)
1 onion chopped
2 zuchinni sliced 
1 can of rotel tomatoes with chiles
1 small can of diced green chiles
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 14 oz cans of corn
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of great northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can of green beans, drained
2 1/2 - 3 chicken breasts chopped or shredded
1 packet of taco seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 TBL of sugar
About 1/2 tsp season salt
Cayenne pepper to taste (you can leave out if you don't want it spicy.  I probably used 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup of heavy cream

Place all of the ingredients but the heavy cream in a crockpot and cook for 8 hrs on Low.  About 15 min before you serve it put stir the cream in.  

Other things that you could add to this are garlic ( I actually forgot this in mine), carrots, celery or other varieties of beans.  If you like it really spicy you could add diced jalapenos.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Disney Family Food Website

I found a site today that I love. It's call the Disney Family Food website. It gives lots of great recipes and ideas for family meals. I am definitely going to use some of the ideas for dinners with the girls.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Catering Photos From The Past Two Weeks

I just thought that I would post some photos from our caterings from the past two weeks. Both turned out great!

Yummy Granola Bars

I like to take a mid-morning snack to work everyday. These granola bars are great for energy, are filling and are packed full of stuff that is good for you. I have tried several different recipes for granola bars. Some have come up really dry and crumbly and some more like cake. These stay fairly moist and taste good. I will adjust the recipe next time to add some brown sugar (listed below). The original recipe that I came up with was just not sweet enough.
One of the fun things about this recipe is that it calls for 2 cups of your choice of fillers. I chose to do 1 cup of dried cranberries, 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and 1/2 cup shredded coconut. You could do all sorts of things. My Mom wants me to do some white chocolate macadamia ones. You could do chocolate chips and peanuts or a tropical one with coconut, dried pineapple and bananas. It's really versitile.
Granola Bars
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
2 tsp corn syrup or molasses
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups fillers (choc chips, dried fruit, nuts, etc)
- Combine all of the dry ingredients and in a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients. Combine the two until mixed well.
- Line a 9x13 pan with waxed or parchment paper. Press mix into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake at 350 for around 20 min or until edges start to brown.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Pasta Primavera

This is a yummy dish that I came up with to use up leftover veggies and meat that I have in the house. It is super easy and always a big hit when I serve it for dinner. We had a catering this past weekend and had some veggies and shrimp leftover that the family didn't want, so I figured that I would make a yummy and cheap meal out of it. The amounts of ingredients below are estimates on what I used and some of it really depends on how much veggies you put in it and how much sauce that you want/need.

Shrimp Primavera
1 lb cooked and peeled shrimp, tails removed and the shrimp cut in half
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, cut in half and sliced
1 squash, cut in half and sliced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups fresh green beans, cut into pieces
1 bell pepper, sliced (I had a mix of colors left from the catering)
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
2 TBL olive oil
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp of Old Bay Seasoning **only if you are making with shrimp
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
3-4 cups milk (I used 2%)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese
1 TBL minced fresh basil leaves (optional)
1 TBL minced fresh flat leaf parsley (optional)
1 lb linguini or any other pasta you like

- Steam your green beans and broccoli in the microwave or on the stove to start the cooking process on them. These veggies take a little longer to get good and tender.
- Heat a large skillet with the olive oil. Add the onion, peppers, zucchini and squash and cook until it is starting to get tender. Add the garlic and cook another 2-3 min.
- Add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
- Add the flour and stir until items are coated well.
- Slowly start adding the chicken stock and continue stirring. This is creating your thickening agent for the sauce.
- Slowly add the milk and let simmer so that it will thicken
- Add the broccoli, green beans, Old Bay and sugar and continue cooking
- When sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and not separate when you drag your finger on the spoon, the sauce is about ready.
- Add your herbs and shrimp and cook until the shrimp are heated
- Add the heavy cream and cheese and stir until melted
- Cook your pasta and serve the sauce over this.

Some variations that you could do...
- Other veggies: carrots (steam first), scallions, diced tomato (added near the end), sundried tomato, etc
- You could use veggie stock instead of chicken stock or even water. You will need to add more salt and pepper for flavor if you use water
- You could use chicken instead of shrimp...or better yet just do veggies
- If you don't have fresh herbs, the dried will work just fine. Just cut way back on the amounts because dry herbs go a lot farther than fresh.

This recipe is a great way to use up stuff that you have in your fridge without buying special stuff. I usually always have heavy cream, milk, pasta and chicken broth on hand so I can get real creative with stuff.

Until next time...