Monday, January 28, 2013

Outrageously Easy Cacciatore Kale Soup

Hello! Happy New Year. (sort of new) I have recently posted a few pictures of my kids eating kale. This has created quite a stir among the mothers that cannot fathom their kids eating kale.

My favorite quote being, "I would shave all the hair off my head if my family ate kale."

This got me to thinking, why do Lola and Moses eat kale with no complaint?  I have a few ideas. 

  • I serve it often, usually mixed in a soup. It has such a mild flavor it picks up the spices well.
  • Their Dad LOVES kale. Really, really really loves it. He eats it raw.
  • They have to eat it for breakfast if they don't eat it for dinner. (kale for breakfast? Wicked gross.)

So this brings me to Common Problem #2. Fast and easy dinners that are healthy and good.  Every month I purchase a "ready made sauce" from the HEB On The Go. They are frightfully expensive, around $7.99, and it usually only serves my families bizarrely large appetite one meal. However, the chef that creates meals with  them is brilliant. The recipes they come up with are always fresh, almost always GF and never salty. Plus, all the hard work is done. I like to take a few ideas and then add some of my own to the mix. This is my special treat.

With this recipe I found that by adding a can of tomatoes and more chicken broth we can at least have leftovers for one more night. 

With this latest creation feel free to use any veggies your family loves. The first time I made this I threw in chopped zucchini and leftover wild mushroom soup. You can easily make this vegetarian by eliminating the sausage. The soup is delish, warm and bursting with flavor. 

Outrageously Easy Cacciatore Kale Soup.

1 Jar Cacciatore by Cookwell and Company
1 Can Cannolini Beans
1 Can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1-1 1/2 cup Chicken or Veggie broth
3 Links cooked Mild Italian Turkey Sausage, cut into rounds.  
1 head of Kale finely chopped. 
1 Cup cooked fusilli or penne pasta (we use gluten free)

1. Cook pasta as directed. 
2. Put first 6 ingredients in a pot and heat.
3. Add pasta last and serve. 

*for those of us spice lovers, red pepper flakes as a garnish is TO DIE!

The End. Your welcome. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dal round 2!

This Dal recipe comes to you via Sarah Hart via Girl's Gone Child. For some reason or another I had not made it. I had it at Sarah's several time and LOVED it. Last week when I was asking the kids for dinner suggestions, Lola said, "Ms. Sarah's Dal!!!!" Yes Please!
I had to go to the Indian grocery store for ghee. Make a special trip and go get the Ghee, it makes a difference.I love that place, I have been twice before both times just to get food from the cafe they have in the back. If you think going to Fiesta is stepping into another country, try going to an Indian grocery. It is awesome. I thought I would pick up the lentils and cumin seeds as long as I was there. Did you know there are like 100 different types of red lentils most of them have the word Dal on the package?  Another interesting thing, everything is in bulk. I have enough cumin seeds to last me till the end of time, and that was the small bag. You can get a very tiny bag at Fiesta or FoodTown in the Latin spice section.
This is so fun to make, and EASY and fast! Serve with a cold cucumber salad and naan if you are not gluten free. I also rubbed ghee on a sliced egg plant, put a little curry on top and grilled. (YUMMY)
The kids go CRAZY for it. Oh, this is one of those recipes that I doubled but had to skimp on the portions the next night. I am going to triple next time I make it. (Good thing I have 24 ounces of cumin seeds)

Lal Dal (Red Lentils)

1 cup red lentils, washed
4 cups water
½ t turmeric powder
1 t salt
2 T ghee
½ t cumin seeds
1 green chili, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced (I use Anaheims)
1 small onion, chopped
½ t cayenne pepper
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 T fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro.

1. Place lentils in a medium-size saucepan with the water, turmeric powder, and salt. Bring to a boil on a high heat. Reduce heat as froth starts to build up. Remove froth from the surface as it builds up. When froth subsides, turn down heat to low. Partially cover and cook until they are soft and turn into a soup-like consistency, about 15-20 minutes
2. In a small frying pan, heat ghee on medium heat. When hot, add cumin seeds to ghee, soon followed by the chilies and onions. Cook until onions become soft. Add chili powder and tomatoes. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Add to lentils and simmer for another 10 minutes.

3. Add lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.

French Chicken in a Pot

This is quite simply one of the best things I have ever cooked. It goes right every single time and tastes so delicious I have served it on many occasions to guests. So incredibly tender, it falls apart in your hands. This recipe is not exactly time fast, it just does not require much of your time. It does cook for a few hours, but I can hang with that. It would be a perfect recipe if you want to make a bit of a jump away from usual cooking methods. 
 EVERYONE likes this recipe. I usually serve with red potatoes sauted with a bit of olive oil and rosemary. The potatoes soak up the yummy sauce created from the chicken.

It comes from the ever tenacious, America's Test Kitchen. 

French Chicken in a Pot

1 (4 1/2-5 lb) whole roasting chickens, giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back
2 teaspoons kosher salt (use 1/2 the salt for a kosher chicken) or 1 teaspoon table salt (use 1/2 the salt for a kosher chicken)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 small celery rib, chopped medium (about 1/4 cup)
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 medium fresh rosemary sprig (optional)
1/2-1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in large (5- to 8-quart) Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary (if using) around chicken. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.

4. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices). Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat.

5. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Stir lemon juice into jus to taste. Serve chicken, passing jus at table

Real Life Vs. Creative

It is time, way past time to write another food post. I have been typically ignoring my blog over the past few months. I WANT to blog, but it takes quite a bit of time and mental energy. I am re-discovering how much space a two year old inhabits your brain, body and soul. It was right around when Moses was 21/2 that I stopped blogging altogether, for almost 5 years.
Fast forward to today and now I have school to tend with, and PTA and friends and REST! I like my rest. I am the best possible me when I have an hour or two to read, watch TV (no hatin! There are some fantastic shows out there), sleep, or just space out and think for a bit. This of course, is a luxury I treasure each day. As with most luxuries, they come at a price. The blog is one debtor the kitchen can be another.
As you already know, I love to cook. I love to cook long complicated in-depth dishes. This is seriously OUT of the question if I do not start prepping early in the day. Some days I do this. They are rare and usually are days where all the house (everything) was done the day before. So, that leaves cooking to "The Hellish Hour", "Twilight Hour","Kiddie Rodeo Hour", IE: the worst part of the day, 4-6 PM.  My only thought at this hour is, "how fast? how healthy? Please God let the dishwasher be empty!"
I never thought I would be alarmed at the idea of coming up with something new. I never imagined, on some days, just the site of the kitchen would send profound waves of exhaustion coursing through my body. It does happen, it is true. I am human like the rest of the world.
However, this crushing feeling of doom is cut in half when I have an arsenal of good and fast recipes at my disposal. My other mantra? Double-double-double, no afternoon is sweeter then left-over night. Sadly, due to the alarming amount of food my children eat, my "double" does not always extend to a full meal the following night. Not cool kids, not cool at all.
I also find that I pretty much have the capacity to make three things. A protein, brown rice or sweet potatoes, and a veggie. There are many days when we simply eat protein and veggies. That happens to be a popular diet choice, but I do it for connivance and my kids eat twice as many veggies.  I only mention this because there used to be days when I would make 4 or 5 different options. WHAT? These days they are lucky to get water if they don't get it themselves. (Oh the joys of older children!)
I have a few good recipes. Really-really-really good recipes that do not take much time, but render amazing results. I am going to post them separate. The first two are stolen, as is much of what I cook during the week. I am not sure if there are going to be more, but for today, it will be just the two.
I would love to hear your go-to dinner recipes for weeknights. I am always on the look-out for the next best thing.
Happy Hell Hour.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To Die for Marinated Cheese Appetizer

It is somewhat disturbing how much I like to talk about food. I frequently find myself having inner dialogue when discussing my culinary passion. Example: "Oh my gosh, you have talked about that delicious goat cheese appetizer for 5 minutes, and an additional 15 min before hand about all the easy was to go gluten free. SHUT UP ABOUT FOOD ALREADY." Then I abruptly change the subject so fast the recipient of my food dialogue is confused and this leads to awkward coughs.

So, it is positively awesome to talk to someone who actually likes food like me. Not just like to eat it, no, they enjoy the tedious process from picking out the dish to the finished actual product. I here again must mention Sarah Hart. Cooking is a  very-very essential thing we have in common. In addition, we both like eating and making appetizers (not sweets) more then anything else.  I remember one conversation in particular,  her and I were chatting with a group of ladies. They started at us in wonder as we talked passionately for an extended amount of time about how enthusiastic we are about appetizers. To be fair, Sarah and I tend to rev each other up when talking about anything we are passionate about; appetizers, books, movies, why our daughters do what they do. We can work up a conversation sweat given the time and the right subject.

We also throw many parties together. I think this is in large part due to the fact we like making appetizers. Party+Food+Wine= Great conversations, or better said, we get to talk to our friends and eat good food.

We have had a good run of fantastic go-to appetizers.  Criteria? Not to expensive, fairly easy to prepare and have a wow factor that does not suggest either one of the first two criteria existed when we chose said appetizer.

We threw a Favorite Things party back in October with a few other woman. I have never, I mean NEVER seen food eaten that fast.  It was bizarre and exciting. 

After that highly successful party, Sarah and I decided to explore more appetizer recipes. Our faithful dishes were becoming boring, to us anyway. I found this KILLER cheese recipe on a few months back. Hello new perfect awesome appetizer that is going to cause me to have all sorts of outer chatter and all manner of inner beat-downs.

It is cheap, easy to make, and has a KILLER wow-factor. I mean KILLER. Make it. I don't care if you cannot boil water, you can make this and, prepare yourself, everyone will think you are a culinary genius.

Sarah and I hosted a baby shower this past weekend and served a variety of wonderful new dishes. The food was a HIT!!!!! I will post the rest of our deliciousness over the next few days.

The cheese is right above the crackers. It make a beautiful presentation.

 For today, To Die for Marinated Cheese Appetizer.

12 cup olive oil
14 cup white wine vinegar
14 cup fresh lime juice
7 ozs red peppers (roasted red peppers drained and diced)
3 green onions (chopped)
3 tbsps flat leaf parsley (fresh flat leaf parsley chopped)
3 tbsps fresh cilantro (chopped) 
1 tsp sugar
12 tsp salt
12 tsp pepper
8 ozs monterey jack cheese (colby)
8 ozs monterey jack (pepper cheese)
8-16 ozs cream cheese
1Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice until blended.
2Stir in red peppers, green onions, parsley, cilantro, sugar, salt and pepper.
3Set marinade aside.
4Cut blocks of cheese in half lengthwise
5Cut into thin rectangular slices and then cube.
6Arrange cheese slices alternately into a pie dish or other shallow dish,
7Pour marinade over slices and spread work marinade with your hands until cheese is covered. I like to push the cheese down until almost covered.
8Cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

9Serve with crackers      

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner. Always a Winner.

Why is it that kids are so obbessed with breakfast for dinner? It is like their realities are thrown so far off course, dinner becomes an adventure instead of a chore. I know the vast quantities of food the children are capable of eating on these nights. The funny thing is, they are, by far, the easiest dinner to prepare. I keep them guessing as to when BfD might happen, gotta keep the fun rollin on.

Everyone likes their eggs different so the menu, while diverse, is easy and produces smiles all a round.
2 boiled eggs - Moses
3 scrambled eggs - Lola
2 Fried eggs- Mark
2 Poached eggs over tomatoes, beans and corn tortillas - Mommy
Blue Berry, Oatmeal Pancakes - Everyone but me
Turkey Sausage Links - Family
Fruit - Family
Preps time
Blue Berry Oatmeal Pancake
She ate 3 eggs, 4 sausage links and two pancakes.
Usually his WORST time of day. All smiles and totally worth it.

Poor guys, looks tierd.

Smiley face katchup.

Doing the happy dance after dinner.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mediterranean/Italian Beef Scaloppini

 Scene One: Beef Scaloppini cuts on reduced for quick sale. Yep, never made it. I had never even heard of it in fact. Does that stop this savvy shopper and creative cook? I think not.         
Scene Two: Thawed beef and no earthy idea how to cook it. No worries, I have the internet. After reading about 6-7 recipes I quickly realized that almost all the recipes required mushrooms, white wine and capers, none of which I had. Did I break a sweat? What would be the use? I had thawed “reduced for quick sale” meat, there are very little options; cook it or throw it out. No worries. I had a kitchen full of good eats just waiting to be made into something amazing.
Scene Three: Hunt through fridge and pantry and come up with culinary genius dish. (Thank you very much)
Kids and husband LOVED!

Mediterranean/Italian Beef Scaloppini
1-2 lbs Beef Scaloppini Cuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion diced
1 Red Bell diced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 Cup red wine
4 large garlic cloves crushed or diced fine
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 Jar Marinated Mediterranean Vegetables in oil
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
1 slice of Mozzarella cheese for each person.

  1. Salt and pepper beef. Heat oil on med/high heat in Dutch oven. Cook beef 3-5 minutes until almost done, set aside beef.
  2. Add onions, red bell and garlic and rosemary. Cook until almost done, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add tomato and Mediterranean Veggies.
  4. Return meat to pan and cover with veggies and sauce. Let cook on medium to low heat for about 10 minutes or until meat and veggies are completely cooked and well done.
  5. Plate one piece of beef on each person’s plate. Top with one slice of mozzarella cheese then top with hot veggies from pot. (it will melt cheese)

Yum. Enjoy. I served with steamed asparagus coated with olive oil, salt and fresh squeezed lemon juice. It was a perfect simple side to a complex and delicious main dish.