Friday, February 26, 2010

10 Minute Toddler Dinner

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a MNO. That acronym is one I would never had known before I was a Mom, but it stands for Mom's Night Out and it is a wonderful acronym to have on your calendar. On MNO, I sure don't want to cook dinner, so my hubby was left with leftovers and I made this quick, easy and healthy 10 minute dinner for my twin toddlers. My chicken was already defrosted, so it would have taken a few extra minutes if it was frozen.

Toddler Chicken Dinner x2
1 chicken breast, diced
a few tbsp of a favorite dip (I chose Bar-B-Q sauce)
Refried Beans (they were leftover in the fridge)
2 minute microwave cheesy broccoli
applesauce with cinnamon

Dice your chicken and season to your kids preferences. I dusted them lightly with some ground thyme. Spray a pan and put the chicken in it to start cooking. Then cut some broccoli florets and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1-2 tbsp water and cover with some grated cheese. Cover tightly with saran wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. Uncover carefully and stir. Remember to stir your chicken, but it will cook quickly if you diced it small enough. Then warm up some canned refried beans. A bit of all-natural applesauce with a touch of cinnamon (a favorite of my girls,) and you are good to go as soon as the chicken cooks all the way through.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Potato Salad for a crowd

I'm going to a farewell party for one of my husband's co-workers today. He's moving from the company's Dallas location out to the San Jose location. So everyone is getting together to say goodbye. The theme of the party is Farewell to Texas since they are moving away from this awesome state that has such good food. I'm contributing Texas Potato Salad, Jalapeno Cheese Bread and Sausage Balls. Here's my family recipe for Potato Salad.

Potato Salad

5 lb bag of red potatoes
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (Not miracle whip!)
3-4 tbsp yellow mustard
4 hard boiled eggs
2-3 stalks of celery,,finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced (red is nice, but whatever color onion you have)
1 cup cut up mini dill pickles (you can use relish, but I like bigger chunks)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Clean potatoes and cut them up into big chunks. Boil them until they are fork tender, but be careful not to over cook them. You want them to maintain their shape, and not turn into mashed potatoes. In a medium size bowl mix the diced onion, pickles, mayo, mustard, celery, sugar, chopped hard boiled eggs, salt and pepper. In a very large bowl (the biggest you have) place the drained, cooked potatoes. Add the dressing mix and stir together gently until all the potatoes are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. The potato salad will taste better after it has cooled in the refridgerator. Serve cold.

Jalapeno Cheese Bread

I wanted to make a Jalapeno Cheese Bread for the Farewell to Texas party we are throwing for John's co-worker James and his wife Penny. I knew right away I needed to turn to the Homesick Texan for a good recipe. Sure enough I wasn't disappointed and she had the perfect recipe. Her recipe called for fresh jalapenos, which I'm sure would be more spicy and tasty, but I made this bread on a whim and had pickled jalapenos I needed to use up, so I substituted them. Here is The Homesick Texan's recipe:

Jalapeno Cheese Bread (adapted from a Sheila Lukins recipe found in the Houston Chronicle) (From the Homesick Texan)

1 packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup of warm water
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1 egg
2 1/2 cups of bread flour (I used King Arthur) plus more if needed
1 cup of semolina flour
5 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded, diced (should be about a cup)
2 cups of Longhorn (or any other cheddar such as Colby) cheese, grated.
1 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt (can add more to taste)

1. Mix together the yeast and water.
2. Mix together the melted butter, egg and buttermilk and add to yeast and water.
3. Add the salt, sugar and bread flour to the liquids and mix well. Then add the semolina flour to the dough and mix well. If the dough is too wet, gradually add more bread flour 1/4 cup at a time.
4. Place dough on a floured surface and knead for five to ten minutes until dough is smooth.
5. Form dough into a ball and place into a bowl greased with butter.
6. Cover the bowl, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size—about an hour.
7. Turn out dough on a floured surface, and slowly knead into the dough the jalapenos and cheese, a little bit at a time.
8. When cheese and jalapenos are incorporated into the dough, place dough into a greased bread loaf pan (8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-3/4). You can also sprinkle semolina in the bread pan for additional friction.
9. Cover the pan and let dough rise until doubled in size (it should be at the top or a bit over the top of the pan)—about an hour.
10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
11. Bake bread for 40-45 minutes on a center rack (when you thump the top and it sounds hollow, the bread is done).
12. Let cool for ten minutes, and then slide it out of the pan, slice and enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I've been on a very big "homemade" kick. I mean taking it even farther than I normally do. I hope to be able to maintain this super from scratch, for one thing it can be alot cheaper and healthier. I made this granola a few days ago and now I'm on my second batch. Granola is yummy. I plan on replacing some of my expensive cereal habits with some fresh granola. It's so good with milk and a lot less of it fills me up than boxed cereal. I plan on experimenting with different flavors but this is what I made this time with what was in my cabinet. The girls are loving this mixed into their yogurt too! By the way, these are just rough guesses on measurements!


2 1/2 cups of oats
3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup crunchy dehydrated strawberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey

In a large bowl mix the oats, nuts and coconut together. In a small bowl mix the brown sugar, honey, oil, vanilla and cinnamon together. Then poor the brown sugar mixture into the oats and stir until everything is mostly moistened. I actually put in it my kitchen aid mixer and used the paddle attachment to mix it quickly. Dump it all in one layer on a cookie sheet. Cook for 45 minutes at 250º stirring it every 15 minutes. Add the dried fruit and store in a sealed bag or container.

Wheat Bread

My wheat bread has a funny story to tell...

It's hollow inside! Not sure what happened, except that it must have risen funny. Either way, it still was a great texture and yummy taste. By the way, I used this white bread recipe but substituted about a cup and half of the white flour for wheat flour.

Also, after talking to some people, I realized the hollow came from not punching down the bread well enough after the first rise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

French Toast

French Toast is another one of those memories I have of being a kid at Mema's house. I think she'd serve it to me every day for a week if I asked for it. Some people put powdered sugar or maple syrup over their French Toast, but Mema's recipe has so much sugar in the batter that no topping is necessary. Serving it with sausage is a good idea because it helps cut through the sweetness! After making a perfect loaf of bread yesterday I had to use some of it to make some French Toast. Not to mention my girls are 2 and have never had this family meal so I made it for dinner tonight. Breakfast for dinner can never be bad.

French Toast

4-5 eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla (not in Mema's recipe, but I love vanilla)
6 slices of bread

Mix all the ingredients together in a square brownie pan. Beat really well to make sure the eggs break up completely. Dip white bread one piece at a time in the egg batter. Let the excess batter drip off and place bread on a hot buttered griddle. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until the bread starts to brown. Serve with sausage. 2-3 pieces per serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homeade Sandwich Bread

First cut.

Right out of the oven.

About to go in the oven.

For some reason I'm in a baking mood. Well more specifically a bread mood. I made popovers last month and the other day I made mini French Loaves (they were only a moderate success and I never did photograph them.) I wanted to make some sandwich bread but I've never had success at the breadmachine so I decided to ditch it and make this in the oven. It is so beautiful. The sad part? NO butter in the house. NONE. How can one have homemade fresh from the oven bread with NO butter? That is cruelty at it's finest. Sigh.

By the way I followed the instructions from The Simple Dollar that I found when googling "homemade sandwich bread." The Simple Dollar had really great step by step pictures and instructions for making it by hand. I used the my kitchen aid.

Reprinted here:

1/4 cup milk
5 teaspoons sugar (or 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons butter (or 1 1/2 tablespoons) (or use Olive Oil)
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (you can get yeast near the flour at your local grocery store)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour (get unbleached white for your first attempt)
Corn starch or nonstick cooking spray (just to prevent the bread from sticking to the bowl or pan)

Prep yeast in 1 cup of warm water & sugar (food for the yeast.) In kitchen aid mixer (and using the dough hook add melted butter, milk and salt. Then add the yeast after it has had time to "bloom" (about 5 minutes.)

Next add 2 cups of the flour and mix well. Slowly add flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and isn't as "wet." Knead on medium for 5-6 minutes with the dough hook. Remove dough and form into a smooth ball. If the dough isn't smooth you probably didn't use enough flour.

Oil a bowl and place dough in the bowl. Spray the dough with oil spray so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough really well. (I skipped this step with my wheat bread and I got a hollow loaf!) Form into a square and roll it like a jelly roll. Place in your bread pan and cover. Let rise for another hour. Bake at 400 for 30 min.

Let cool completely (yeah right...) before cutting. It really does make it easier to cut if it is cool. Also, using an electric knife will help get "sandwich" thin slices!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie

I'm getting over a head cold so the only requirement for tonight's dinner was that it be realtively healthy and easy to make. The fact that I made homemade biscuits just goes to show that I'm a bit crazy. Feel free to substitute pre-made biscuits.

Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie

3 small chicken breasts, diced
2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
1 large potato, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk, water, chicken stock OR half & half
thyme, oregano, salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil
6-8 biscuits*

Heat olive oil in skillet. Saute onions and potatoes. Add chicken. Add seasonings. When chicken is almost cooked through, add frozen vegetables. Stir. Add mushroom soups and thin out with 1 cup of liquid (milk, water, chicken stock or half & half.) Let simmer until potatoes and chicken are cooked through. Serve over one or two biscuits.

* Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk

In a food processor put all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cube shortening and place in processor. Pulse a few times to blend shortening in with the flour. Add buttermilk and pulse just until a ball forms. Dust counter with flour. Roll dough out about 3/4" thick. With a biscuit cutter, clean vegetable can or glass, cut out rounds. Gently reshaping leftover dough until you cut out all the circles. Place circles on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 400º for 12 minutes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Red Pepper Mac N Cheese

January 2010 009

I love Mac N Cheese!  One of my favorite things about it is that it is very versatile.  You can add veggies, or meat.  Growing up my mom used to add stewed tomatoes or chunks of ham.  Yum!  The other day I wanted a fancier Mac N cheese without the chunks of veggies.  I decided to blend the additions right into the roux, and it was a success. 


Mac N Cheese (Mom’s Recipe)

White sauce
6 tablespoons of butter 
6 tablespoons of flour
1.5 C milk
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb pasta (any) al dente (firm)
Bread Crumbs


4 Red Peppers chopped
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced

Melt the butter on low heat, add in the flour.  Stir until bubbles appear - cook for 2-3 mines.  Add 1.5 C milk slowly - stirring constantly.  Blend the Peppers, onions and garlic until smooth and add to the roux.   Add approx 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook 1 lb pasta (any) al dente (firm)

Mix together and bake covered till hot about 15 minutes

Take off cover, add (buttered) bread crumbs & grated cheese mixture - bake a few more ins or broil for a minute...watching constantly.  It burns quickly.   

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chicken Packet or Chicken Papillote

I typically do pouch cooking in two cases. One when I'm camping and the other time is usually with fish. I had fish for lunch today, but I really wanted an easy, not-messy meal for tonight. I decided to do a chicken packet. Usually I do foil when camping and parchment paper in the oven, but I was out of parchment paper so I made the packets in foil. This is a method not a recipe. (I used the Sweet & Sour sauce from THIS recipe.)

Chicken Packet

4 pieces of foil or parchment paper about 16" long by whatever width the package is.
4 small chicken breasts diced into 1" cubes (try and make them all the same size)
vegetables (carrots, sugar snap peas, onions, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, water chestnuts are all good candidates depending on the flavor of your sauce)
3-4 tbsp sauce per packet (about 1 cup) (sweet & sour, stir fry sauce, bar-b-q, etc)

Place diced chicken a little right of center on each packet. Follow with diced vegetables. Pour sauce over each pile of chicken and vegetables. Fold the top of the packets over the chicken and vegetables and seal the edges tightly. Cook at 375 for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Linden Tea


I am not an herbal tea girl. I love the idea of herbal tea, but the taste…not so much. However, I LOVE, LOVE linden tea. It is a calming, sweet tea that is beneficial for gastrointestinal issues. Trust me. It is also super tasty. I LOVE this tea. It is very popular in Turkey and offered in most cafes and late at night when people don’t want to drink caffeinated beverages.


Linden Tea

One apple

palmful of linden leaves

To Brew

In tea pot boil 16 ounces of water with a sliced up apple. After the water boils pour the pamful of linden leaves (or two tea bags of linden) into the boiling water. Take the pot off of the heat and let steep for about 5 minutes. Afterward strain leaves and pour into mugs. The boiled apple in the water should make the tea fairly sweet but if you like sweet tea, sweeten with sugar or honey to taste.

--Makes two cups of tea

Monday, February 1, 2010

Buttered Hot Chocolate

My Mema used to make me something called Chocolate Toast. She basically made this thick chocolate sauce laden with butter. She'd toast up some bread and cut it into strips. Then you'd dunk your toast strips into the sauce and eat it. It was called breakfast. It was divine. Now that I'm an adult eating something like that for breakfast seems sinful, but I really wanted to recapture that memory/taste. I made what I'm calling Mema's Decadent Hot Chocolate based off her chocolate sauce recipe. And perhaps since I'm visiting her this weekend, she'll take me on a trip down memory lane, and I can be a kid again, just for a day.
ps. recipe udpdated 12/10 to remove white sugar.

Mema's Decadent Hot Chocolate

2 tbsp cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp butter
1 cup milk (I use Raw)
2-3 tbsp heavy cream
a dash of vanilla
sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring up to a simmer whisking well. Pour into a mug and serve with marshmallows or whip cream. Makes 1 serving.
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