Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hot Wings with a Fermented Hot Sauce

I'm not posting a recipe tonight because these still need a bit of work. That doesn't mean they weren't delicious! But the sauce did not "cling" the way I had hoped so I want to try some different ideas out. I cooked the chicken wings using Alton Brown's method, and then after they were cooked, I tossed them in the lacto-fermented hot sauce/butter mixture. I served them with homemade ranch dressing and store bought chips that had three ingredients: potato, avocado oil and sea salt. I let the kids taste the hot wings but since they don't like spicy foods yet, I just served theirs plain with the ranch dip. They ate all of their wings and wanted more!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hamburger Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Sorry I did not take a photo! Tonight I made hamburgers for the family but I ate mine sans bun. I made a big salad for everyone to enjoy with their hamburger, but I broke my patty up and incorporated it into the salad. It was actually really good and I didn't miss the bun. The salad was romaine lettuce (I wanted bib lettuce but they didn't have it at the store), boiled eggs, avocado, cucumber, bacon, colby jack cheese and the hamburger for me. Topped with homemade ranch dressing, it was very satisfying!

Homemade Ranch Dressing

There are lots of versions of ranch dressing on the internet. You can get really complicated or keep it simple. I take the time to make my own mayo as the base because I think that is important. This way you get healthy oils instead of rancid factory oils like canola, soy or vegetable oils. I actually made this batch of mayo with a bacon grease/sesame seed oil base! Make sure your bacon is nitrate free, of course. For the ranch, I like about equal parts mayo and sour cream, but you can play around with how tart you like it with what ratio you add.

1 part mayo
1 part sour cream
sprinkle of dried garlic, or fresh grated garlic
pinch of dill, fresh or dried
salt and pepper

Mix and serve!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Homemade Ginger Ale

I saw these recipes the other day and knew they were right up Amanda’s alley!  My dad is undergoing some really hardcore chemo, and has been suffering from nausea.  He told me that Ginger Ale helped, but I didn’t think that Canada D*y would have a ton of actual ginger in it (which is actually scientifically proven to combat nausea.)  So I decided to whip up a batch myself.  On the Crumpets and Cakes  blog I found two great recipes.  One instant and without yeast, and one with yeast.  I decided to avoid the fermented recipe for my dad, instead  I made the second, faster Ginger Ale recipe.  I will report--it seemed to help with the nausea, which is good for everyone now and again.  However I will also point out that I loved it too!!  It was a little spicy, just a little sweet and really refreshing.  The best thing is that you can adjust how much of the ginger syrup to put in the soda water—so it can be as spicy or mild as you would like!


Recipes from Crumpets and Cakes

Ginger Ale: Instant  version:
1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
club soda
juice of one or two limes, juice from half lemon
mint for garnish

Combine ginger, sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer slowly for 10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and ginger is softened.

Strain warm syrup and allow to cool. Fill a tall glass with ice, add 1 part(used 2oz shot glass) of ginger syrup and 3 parts of club soda.
Squeeze lime and lemon wedge into glass. Use more syrup if desired. Garnish with mint. Stir and enjoy.

Ginger Beer:
1c sugar
freshly grated ginger root (1 1/2-2 tablespoons), use the fresh ginger root you can find, it really makes a difference
juice of one lemon
1/4tsp baker's yeast
cold fresh spring or filtered water

special equipment:

clean 2L plastic bottle, funnel, patience
Through a funnel add sugar and yeast to a plastic bottle. Mix grated ginger root and lemon juice and then transfer it to a bottle, add water to fill it half way and shake well to mix all ingredients. Add more water, leaving about an inch head space, screw the cap on and shake again. You can also mix all the ingredients in a jar and then transfer to a plastic bottle. Leave in a warm place for about two days and then transfer to refrigerator, to stop fermentation process. Refrigerate overnight. Pour it through a strainer and enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's For Dinner at My House: Strawberry Walnut Salad

This is the Strawberry/Walnut/Chicken salad that I made tonight. The dressing recipe is right here:

And the way that I did my menu planning this week, it made it really easy to do a break down of the cost of the meal. So for grins and giggles I did. For four portions it ended up being $2.11 per serving! Not too shabby for a delicious healthy meal!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Real Food Menu Plan

I am not one for planning. But in an effort to simplify my life and perhaps do a bit of budget control on food items I agreed to give menu planning and grocery listing a chance. Most people know I like to just look at what I have on hand and create a dinner. I also don't normally have a set day to do my grocery shopping, I just go on a whim. Sometimes that means a few times a week. Which gets expensive. So this morning I sat down and took about 45 minutes to lay out a menu plan, list out ingredients, figure out which ones I had and which ones I needed. At first I was so focused on dinners I forgot to add in grocery list items for breakfast and lunch. My goal is to hopefully eat leftovers for lunch, but I also made sure there were some easy lunches to have available too. The grocery  list is for what I need at Sprouts (my local small health food grocer.) A lot of the meat for the meals is either in my freezer or I get from a local rancher through a meat-buy club. I buy about half of my meat that way these days. Perhaps the more I control the budget the more I can buy from the rancher instead of from the supermarket.

Anyway, I want to share my menu/list with you. I know it isn't anything new, I'm probably the last person on the planet to get on board with menu planning but it's new to me. This week I did not plan any new dishes for The Frickin Chicken. I actually went through my archives and pulled up some old dishes. One (the salmon) dish, I'm reworking to have heavy cream instead of fat-free half and half. I mostly planned low-carb, but I did include one dish with white rice. I also decided on two salads because it is summer and it's getting hot here in Texas. How do you do your planning/shopping??
Click here for a link to the PDF.

Update: The menu planning is going so great this week! I even costed out a a few of the dinners and found that each serving was from $2.50-3.00 per person! People think eating real food is expensive, but it doesn't have to be. For instance I know going out to dinner for most of these meals would be a $12-$14 plate of food per person. I'm linking this post to Kelly the Kitchen Kops Real Food Wednesdays!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pizza Stuffed Bell Peppers

The last two weeks we've been trying to do some menu planning around here. It's not my normal way of cooking, but things have gotten so busy this summer that it really has helped to at least scratch out a semblance of a menu on a scrap of paper before heading to the grocery store. (I also rarely use a grocery list.) I just normally buy what looks good and then come home to "create." Well this week I had "stuffed bell pepper" on the menu. I normally make these with green bell peppers because they are cheaper but the red ones were on mega sale and they are so pretty. I also normally make stuffed bell peppers with rice, mushrooms and sausage. But this time I decided to make them "pizza" style. Although I did forget to add the olives which bummed me out when I remembered as we were eating! The good thing was that I had leftover stuffing. You can serve it on the side or freeze it to make a quick spaghetti dinner another night, which is what I did.

Pizza Stuffed Bell Peppers

4-5 bell peppers - look for ones with pretty flat bottoms
1 lb of hamburger meat
2-3 cloves garlic
1.5 cups of your favorite Italian seasoned tomato sauce- I had some leftover that I'd made for pizzas.
Block of mozzarella, cubed up in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 onion
8-10 button mushrooms
basil, oregano, salt and pepper

Cut the tops off the bell peppers and scoop out the insides. Rub with oil and set either on a cookie sheet or in a casserole dish.

Saute onions in a bit of bacon drippings. Let them get really good and caramelized and then remove from the skillet. Add in hamburger meat and some seasonings. Cook about halfway and then add garlic and mushrooms. When meat is almost cooked through add the tomato sauce.

Add a few cubes of mozzarella in the bottom of each bell pepper. Fill each bell pepper half way with the meat mixture. Add more mozzarella. Then fill to the top with the meat. Add a few more pieces of mozzarella to the tops of each one. Put the "lids" back on the bell peppers and cook at 375 for about an hour. Scoot the tops off and cook a bit longer until cheese browns. (We didn't have the patience for that!)

**Olives, diced (nitrate free) pepperoni or any other favorite pizza topping would be great in this!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sausage and Cabbage Stew

I have to give credit to my friend Nicole Rice for this dish. I went over to her house the other day to pick up my latest buy from the meat buy club. (She works with a local rancher to get us grassfed beef, pasture chickens, eggs and more!)  Anyway, she was in her kitchen, like usual, and she was chopping cabbage and sausage and throwing it in a crockpot. She said she normally does the recipe in the oven, but she was trying it for the first time in a crockpot. I decided to go with the oven today, since I wanted to cook it faster than how the crockpot would do it. This also reminds me of a dish my mom made growing up. She'd do sausage and sauerkraut on the stove top. Mom's dish was more caramelized, this was more of a stew. I'm not sure what seasonings Nicole uses, I just took her method and ran with it. I loved this dish because it took less than 10 minutes to throw together. You do need to plan in advance since it needs to bake for at least an hour though.

Sausage and Cabbage Stew

1/2 head of cabbage
4-6 links of sausage or bratwurst
2 carrots
1 stick of butter
2-3 cups of homemade chicken stock
sprinkle of fennel
salt and pepper

Chop cabbage very fine and add to a oven proof casserole dish. (I used the stoneware baker from Pampered Chef.) Grate the carrots and add to the cabbage. Cut sausage into rounds and then brown it in a hot skillet. (You can skip the browning stage if you are in a hurry.) Add it to the cabbage. Cut the stick of butter up and place it around the casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and fennel. Add the chicken stock and cover. Bake for about 45 minutes covered at 375, and then 15 more uncovered. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tequila Lime Salmon Packets

I was super excited to find wild caught salmon on sale for $6.99 a lb a couple of weeks ago at my grocery store. It often goes for double of that. I only wish I had bought double what I did! Even so, I still got quite a bit of salmon and so now it's time to eat it all up. Luckily it was frozen, so I just brought it home and stuck it back in my freezer and didn't have to worry about freezing thawed out pre-frozen fish. (If that makes sense!) Salmon is also one of my kids favorite proteins. I think because it is pink and they are three year old girls. Whatever, it's a super good for you protein so I'll take whatever the reason is! Cooking fish in packets is a very easy way to prepare fish, so give it a try if you have never done it before!

Tequila Lime Salmon Packets w/mixed vegetables

Tequila Lime Marinade:
(all measurements are close approximations and can be tweaked to your liking!)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
2-3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp tequila
1/2 cup olive oil

2-3 carrots
1 zuchinni
2 handfuls of snow peas

4 filets

In a small bowl, grate the garlic and ginger. Add lime zest, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, tequila and olive oil. Whisk until mixed well. Taste and adjust, although it will be a bit strong because of the tequila. Pour in a small sauce pan and bring to a rapid boil for 15 minutes. Carefully (it's hot!) taste again, it should be more mellow. Adjust as needed. Set aside to cool down.

Cut carrot and zucchini into small sticks. Place in a small bowl along with the snow peas. Pour half of the marinade over the vegetables, cover and refrigerate.

Make packets about 1-2 hours before cooking. On a large sheet of parchment paper, place 1/4 of the vegetables in a pile, draining the marinade away. Place one salmon filet on top and season with salt and pepper. Add a bit of the marinade to the fish and rub it in. Seal the packet by crimping/folding all the way around. Do the same to the remaining 3 packets. Let marinade for 1-2 hours, no longer because the acid in the marinade will make the fish tough if you go too long.

Preheat oven to 400 and cook for 12-15 minutes. Before you cook the fish, press the fish gently with your thumb to see how much give is in the fish. After 12 minutes, press fish again through the packet with your fingers, it should be firm when done. Cook for a few minutes longer if it doesn't feel firm enough. Do not overcook or it will be dried out!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chicken in Garlic Gravy

This was a very simple, quick and easy one pot meal to throw together. It would have been terrific over egg noddles, but leaving out the carb made it a one pot super quick meal. I used bacon drippings from breakfast to cook my vegetables and chicken in. If you don't have bacon grease leftover, you can either crisp up some bacon fresh, remove it and crumble it back into the dish for some extra wonderful taste, or use another fat of your choice. Coconut oil, non-hydrolyzed lard, or even olive oil would be good choices.

Chicken in a Garlic Gravy

2 chicken breasts
2 zuchinnis
10 button mushrooms
3-4 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp flour
3-4 tbsp of bacon drippings

Dice garlic up into very small pieces and put in a skillet add about 2 tbsp of bacon drippings and cook the bacon on low. This gives garlic flavor to the fat. Meanwhile, cut the ends off your zucchini and slice in half lengthwise. Then chop into one inch half slices. Cut mushrooms in fourths. Add zucchini and mushrooms to skillet and saute on med-high heat until they start to brown. While they are cooking, cut your chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Remove vegetables to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Add chicken, add more bacon drippings if needed. Again, cooking on medium to med-high heat, cook the chicken until it is almost done all the way through. Remove to the bowl with the vegetables. Add thyme to the skillet that only has bacon drippins in it now. Add the flour and whisk quickly. When flour has cooked, add the heavy cream and stock and cook until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Add vegetables and chicken back to the sauce and cook for a few extra minutes until chicken is cooked all the way though. Serves 4.
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